Wednesday, December 19, 2012

recipe: Home Fries with Duo of Dipping Sauces

As for many (especially kids), Christmas morning is one of my favourite moments of the year – not for the opening of gifts – but rather for the long leisurely brunch with my family.  Our Christmas morning spread always includes a big platter of fresh fruit, freshly baked scones (or coffeecake), an egg dish of some sort and the crowd favourite, twisted hickory bacon (see below).  This year I will also be serving “two-potato” home fries with a duo of dipping sauces.  These home fries can also be served with a roast for an evening meal – just switch the name to sweet potato & Yukon gold roasted potatoes and you’re all set.

 Here are a few other brunch ideas (recipes can all be found on my website at that would be lovely to serve if you are having a special breakfast or brunch this Christmas:

·         twisted hickory bacon with brown sugar rub

·         crepes with crispy bacon, syrup and cinnamon

·         orange yogurt

·         lemon cream cheese muffins

·         stuffed French toast with cream cheese and strawberries

·         banana butterscotch muffins

·         lemon buttermilk poundcake

·         cranberry orange biscotti

two potato home fries with a duo of dipping sauces


·         ¼ (one-quarter) cup good quality olive oil

·         1 (one) tablespoon vegetable oil

·         3 (three) pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” (one inch) cubes

·         1 (one) pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” (one inch) cubes

·         salt and pepper to taste

·         dipping sauces – see below


1.       Preheat oven to 425 F.

2.       Pour oils into a large roasting pan or baking dish and place pan in upper half of oven.

3.       Peel the potatoes and cut into rough chunks.  Put into a large saucepan and cover with water.

4.       Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 (ten) minutes, or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork – do not completely cook potatoes.

5.       Drain potatoes using a colander.  Put the drained potatoes back into the saucepan and cover with the lid.  Vigorously shake the pot – the intention is to bang up the edges of the potatoes – they should appear roughed up (this is why, once coated with oil, they get so crispy)

6.       Remove roasting pan from oven and carefully tip potatoes into the pan.  Toss the potatoes in the oil – each piece should be coated.

7.       Spread the potatoes evenly over the pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt – return pan to oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until browned and crispy.

8.       Serve with one or both of these dipping sauces:  chipotle ketchup and/or lemon pepper aioli

 dipping sauces

·         Chipotle Ketchup:  add about two teaspoons (or more to taste) of pureed chipotles in adobo sauce to ½ (half) cup of ketchup.  Note:  chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found at most grocery stores in the Mexican food section

·         Lemon Pepper Aioli:  add the zest of half a lemon and two teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper to 1 (one) cup of good quality mayonnaise.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recipe: Date & Bacon Rumaki

Here’s a recipe for a yummy little appetizer that you can serve at your next holiday gathering. They are a delicious twist on “angels on horseback”, an old party classic consisting of oysters wrapped in bacon.

Prunes or dates wrapped around bacon are often called “devils on horseback”.
I’ve amped up the traditional recipe by using luscious medjool dates and goat cheese. Of course I had to tweak the name too – date & bacon rumaki just sounds more appetizing (classic rumaki are water chestnuts and liver wrapped in bacon and marinated in soya sauce, ginger and brown sugar).

You can’t go wrong with the combination of sweet dates, creamy goat cheese and salty bacon. That being said, feel free to experiment with other types of cheese (blue cheese works well, as does cream cheese) other types of dried fruit (such as figs or prunes) and even bacon (prosciutto and pancetta are equally delicious). You can also swap out the almonds for a pecan or walnut.  

Serve these warm with drinks or on top of vinaigrette- dressed salad greens for lunch or a light supper.

Date and Bacon Rumaki

Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres


  • 24 (twenty four) large medjool dates, pitted
  • 12 (twelve) slices bacon, cut in half crosswise (you should have 24 pieces)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 (one third – one half) cup creamy goat cheese (we use Woolwich Dairy brand at the shop)
  • 24 (twenty four) whole, blanched almonds (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Halve dates lengthwise being careful not to cut all the way through. Remove pit.  Place a small amount of goat cheese in the center of each date. Tuck in an almond and close. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date. Secure bacon with a toothpick (preferably, toothpicks that have been pre-soaked in water so that they don’t burn in the oven).
  3. Place dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until bacon is cooked through and slightly crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Recipe: Artichoke, Asiago & Prosciutto Quesadillas

I find that quesadillas are a great way to “clean out the fridge” by using up leftover cooked meats, bits of cheese, sauces and chutneys.  Am I the only one with about 30 different condiments on the inside of my fridge door!?  David often asks me (in a less than friendly manner) just how many different red pepper jellies does one really need?  Ok, I’ll come clean, I paraphrased what he usually says…

Quesdillas can be simple (think beans, chicken, salsa), comforting (anything with lots of cheese and/or bacon) and even gourmet.  The following recipe for artichoke, asiago & prosciutto quesadillas is a delicious appetizer that’s fancy enough to serve company – preferably with a glass of sparkling wine.

Here are some other inspirational ideas for making quesadillas:

·         caprese-style (tomatoes, mozzeralla, fresh basil, provolone)
·         californian (chicken, avocado, goat cheese, mango, cranberries)
·         philly cheesesteak style (sliced flank steak or roast beef, provolone, sautéed onions and bell peppers)
·         blt (bacon, spinach, roasted tomatoes, mozzerella)
·         “pizzadilla” (tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives)
·         smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese and dill
·         shrimp, zucchini, corn, basil, scallions and fontina
·         “nyc deli” – corned beef or pastrami, mustard, sauerkraut and swiss cheese
·         “thanksgiving-style” – sliced turkey breast, cranberry cream cheese, mozzarella and roasted butternut squash

I could go on and on… once you start making quesadillas it’s easy to get creative as the options are endless.

Artichoke, Asiago & Prosciutto Quesadillas
(makes one quesadilla – recipe easily doubles)


·         2 (two) flour tortillas
·         1/3 (one-third) cup asiago cheese, grated
·         ¼ (one-quarter) cup mozzerella cheese, grated
·         1/3 (one-third) cup artichokes, drained and chopped/sliced
·         2 (two) slices proscuitto


1.      Grate asiago and mozzerella cheeses.  Drain and chop artichokes
2.      Lay one tortilla on a clean work surface.  Sprinkle with asiago and mozzerlla, top with chopped artichokes and 2 slices of proscuitto.  Top with another tortilla, press to flatten.
3.      Heat flat top grill to medium high and lightly brush grill with canola or other vegetable oil.  Grill each side until golden, about 1 – 1½ (one to one-and-a-half) minutes per side.  Alternatively, grill in well-oiled frying pan.  Note:  Watch closely as quesadilla’s can burn easily.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

recipe: "Pineapple Delight" Ambrosia

On David’s mother’s birthday in November, I like to prepare for him one of the dishes he most often associates with her.  Usually, it’s crepes with crispy bacon, syrup and cinnamon… sometimes it’s a dessert.

He always appreciates the effort which makes me want to continue the tradition every year.  Although they’ll never meet her in this life, (she’s been deceased for twenty-five years), I’m hoping that our sons John and Michael will be able to somehow connect with their paternal grandmother through these dishes. 

Next week, pineapple delight ambrosia will be making an appearance in our home.  This is an easy, no-bake, recipe that serves a crowd – you can halve the recipe (use an 8 inch by 8 inch pyrex dish instead) without difficulty.  It’s a nice recipe to make in the dead of winter, when local fruits aren’t available.

“Pineapple Delight” Ambrosia
(recipe is for a 9 inch x 13 inch pyrex / glass dish)

ingredients for base crust
·         4 – 5 (four to five) tablespoons butter, melted
·         2 (two) cups graham crumbs
·         4 (four) tablespoons granulated sugar

ingredients for butter layer
·         1 (one) cup butter, should be soft, at room temperature
·         1 (one) teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         2 (two) large eggs, at room temperature
·         2 (two) cups icing sugar

ingredients for whipped cream/pineapple layer
·         2 (two), 14 (fourteen) ounce cans crushed pineapple, drained well
·         750 (seven hundred fifty) mL whipping cream, 35%
·         2 (two) teaspoons pure vanilla extract
·         3 (three) tablespoons granulated sugar, or more if you like (to your taste)
·         2-3 (two to three) tablespoons graham crumbs, for garnish

method for base crust
1.       Stir together graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter and mix well.  Spoon crumb mixture into 9” x 13” pan and flatten to form the base crust.  This crust is somewhat crumbly, so if you like your crust firmer, add more butter.  Place pan in the refrigerator.

method for butter layer
1.       Using a hand or stand mixer, beat butter, vanilla and eggs together.  Add icing sugar a little at a time and continue beating.  Keep an eye on the icing sugar you need, it may be more or less, as it depends on your eggs.  You should have a thick, but smooth creamy mixture.  Remember the butter in this mixture will harden once refrigerated.
2.       Carefully spoon this mixture over the base crust, taking care not to disturb the graham crust.  Refrigerate again.

method for whipped cream/ pineapple layer:
1.       Add vanilla to whipping cream and beat well.  As cream begins to fluff up, slowly add sugar and finish beating.  The whipped cream should be firm, but be careful not to over beat.
2.       Gently fold well-drained pineapple into whipped cream by hand.  Spread this mixture over the butter layer evenly.  The pan will be filled to the brim.  Sprinkle graham crumbs over the whipped cream layer.  Wrap with plastic seal and refrigerate.  Chill a few hours before serving (so the butter layer can firm up).

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