Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wally"s Cheesy Biscuits

Our dog Wally (2 years old)
I know he will eat anything- yes- any - thing. He loves napkins, particularly paper napkins to eat and cloth ones to steal off your lap....but the best are oven mitts...all full of yummy!

If Wally hears a slight gesture toward his biscuit jar, he rises from a deep sleep and runs as fast as he can to get his cookie.  This cheese biscuit is one of his favourites!

These are also great to give as gifts to dog owners!!!! Package them in a little cellophane bag with a ribbon:)

Dig n cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons softened margarine
One and a half cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. Cream together cheese and margarine. 
  3. Add milk and flour. 
  4. Combine  mixture into a ball
  5. Roll to a quarter inch thickness. 
  6. Cut dough with cookie cutter and place on un-greased cookie sheet.
  7. bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until edges start to brown. Makes one and a half dozen. 
From the treat book the doggy bone by Michele Bledsoe 

Check out the video for the demo!

Until we bake again
Penny ....and Wally my sous chef!

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Biscuit Bitch is a great little spot in Seattle.  See the note at the bottom of the page to hear more about it.

And the baking continues....
Memories of baked goods from our friends and family give  us comfort and these days any extra comfort we can get is good.   After my last post I received this recipe from Sandra, who is one of the travel agents I work with at The Travel Agent Next Door. This is her grandmother's recipe for scones or some call them tea biscuits. 

  Sandra's grandmother Flora with her Grandfather David

"We called her “Mother”. All the family, grandkids and friends & neighbours did. She was born, raised and lived in Newfoundland so a true Newfie."  Now both of Sandra's parents live with them (mom(81) & dad (93)).  

 Here is Sandra's mom with her grandmother

I love when we can pass these recipes on.  I made these blueberry scones/biscuits  today and they really are deeeeelicious- especially warm! 

Sandra doubles the recipe and then freezes them.

3 Cups Flour
6 Tsp Baking Powder
½ Cup Sugar
Rind of one Lemon
1 Cup Butter (cut in pieces and put in the freezer for about 10-15 mins )
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Pint Blueberries (fresh) (a little over 1 cup)
1 Cup Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash your hands!!!!
Mix Flour, Baking Powder and Sugar together. Whisk to mix.

Add finely grated rind of one lemon.
Cut in the butter to the dry mix.  You can either use a pastry tool like this one but I often just use my finger tips.  This is a very important step so do not incorporate the butter too much!  It should be little pieces.

Add Blueberries and mix.

Mix in a smaller bowl  the Egg, Vanilla and 1 cup of milk.

Add wet mixture to the dry mixture a little at a time. Don’t overmix. 

Grease a cookie sheet  or line with parchment paper. Drop large spoonfuls on a cookie sheet .

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.They should be golden.
Cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before lifting off.

This should make about  1.5 dozen, but it depends on the sizes of the scones:)

Substitute with raisins if you want. If you do then the batter will be much drier and you can use a cookie cutter to cut out the scones.   The recipe with the fresh blueberries was really good.

Hope you enjoy them!  Dan gobbled them up!
Thank you Sandra!!!

Until we bake again
Stay healthy and keep at a distance!

From their site...
A place where you can get a kick-ass local espresso and order a comforting meal while getting to say the word “bitch” over and over… and over. Don’t worry if your face turns red, we might tease you a bit, but we’ll laugh with you! Our music will be upbeat and usually oldies, motown or southern rock because we’re a little bit trailer trash too. But even if there’s a long line you can watch our staff dance to the beat in our tiny kitchen all the while flipping your eggs and calling out the orders. The ambiance is kitschy- the energy palpable. This is a place to put a smile on your face, because even if it’s not, it feels like it could easily be home.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Carl's Mom's Banana Bread

I love to bake. In these times of Covid-19 and staying inside and isolated, I have been baking quite a bit! It is therapeutic to create something you and others can enjoy plus the smell of fresh baked bread, cookies cakes etc is usually so wonderful- you feel happier!

One of the best things about baking  are the memories that we have of our mom's or dad's baking or our grandmothers, aunts etc.  Granted some of them weren't the best but they sure are memorable!  And yes my dad did bake.  He baked bread,  after my mom (Sadie)  passed away to have at our  Friday night dinners to keep the tradition alive. So in these times of isolation, there is something very comforting in going back to some of those recipes that remind us of their presence and happier times.

When I was talking to my friend Carl (Carlos to me!)  the other day, he said he was going to bake his mom's banana bread.  He didn't have a pan though, so was going to get one...eventually. I am not sure his bananas will survive.  I happened to have some bananas and decided to make Carl's mom's recipe.

I am sure her banana bread was better...but I still think she would be happy that I made one for Carl and of course Eric too!

Dan and I took a drive over to their place and left it on their doorknob (yes we are keeping our distance) ...
Hope you enjoyed it Carl and Eric and it gave you some memories of your mom, your Mother Hen.

Here's the recipe that Carl gave me:

  • 1 Cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking soda
  • 1/3 Cup Sour milk
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar (I think)
  • 1 1/2 cups Mashed bananas
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
Note: you can use Buttermilk instead of sour milk.  If you want to make your own sour milk
Here is how....
To make  1 cup of sour milk put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill it up with milk until you get to the 1 cup mark. Give it a stir. I recommend using whole milk or 2% milk.
Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes so it can become soured and it’s ready to use. This recipe only uses 1/3 cup.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs  and vanilla, then add the remaining ingredients. Divide the batter into the 2 loaf pans and bake for 1 hour.

Thought you would also get a chuckle at the following video of Carl's mom baking a christmas giant cookie!

Until we bake again
Stay healthy and wash your hands!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I love apples. I love baking apple desserts. So when I saw this recipe from Bobette and Belle, I knew it would be good. Their shop is on Queen St East not far from where I live in Toronto, and their pastries are great. I have tried a few from the book and each has turned out well. Their cookbook which is called Bobbette and Belle - Classic recipes from the celebrated pastry shop by Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell. 

We started off peeling, slicing and coring 14 apples. I have my handy dandy peel away peeler which makes this sooooo easy!

I greased a 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray then I made the Apple filling.

In a large bowl, I tossed the apple slices with a tablespoon of lemon juice - actually I probably used a little more.

Then in another bowl I whisked together
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

I then added this to the apples and tossed it all together so that the apples were evenly coated. The apples looked so good I could’ have just eaten them like that!

Next in a large saute pan, I melted half cup butter over medium heat and then added the apple mixture. I cooked the apples for about 10 minutes.

To make the crumble topping, I combined in a large bowl , 
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups pecans roughly chopped 
  • 2 cups large flake rolled oats 
  • 1 cup +2 tablespoons loosely packed brown sugar 
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter cut into 1 inch cubes 

Mix everything together and then add the butter and work it in with your fingers until the mixture begins to stick together.

I added about 1/4 cups of salted caramel chips (not in the original recipe)

Place one layer of all the apple mixture on the bottom of your pan and then sprinkle the crumble evenly over the apples. It’s quite thick and I actually didn’t even use all of it.

Bake it for 30 to 40 minutes until it starts to bubble on the top and turns golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through. You can keep it covered and stored in the fridge for up to four days.

I hope you like it !
Until we bake again...


Thursday, March 15, 2018

St. Patrick's Day is coming up and these Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes are a definite winner!  Why are they called Irish Car Bombs?  Because of the popular bar shot with 3 Irish ingredients - Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Guinness Stout.  In cupcake talk, it is Guinness chocolate cake, Irish whiskey ganache filling and Baileys buttercream frosting.  We need a few more ingredients to make these cupcakes but they are sooooo fact spectacular!!!!!!  But you judge for yourself.

Caley and I have made these before and they have become a tradition at the office of The Travel Agent Next Door.  
Caley and the cupcakes

Here is the recipe...Makes 24
There are many versions around so this has been adapted from a few of them

What's in the cupcakes?
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup  cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream

What's in the Whiskey Ganache Filling?
  •  8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

What's in the Bailey's Frosting:
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

First the cupcakes

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard tins (12 cupcakes in each) with liners.
  2. Heat the Guinness and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. 
  5. Add the slightly cooled Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. 
  6. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat just until it starts to come together, about 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. 
  7. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean ( about 17 minutes)
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Second - The Whiskey Ganache Filling

  1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. 
  2. Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour it over the chocolate, then let it sit for two minutes. 
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the mixture from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. 
  4. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped, about 30 minutes. (If it becomes too stiff, whisk it until it gets softer)
Third - Inserting the Ganache into the Cupcakes

  1. You can either use a paring knife, apple corer, or large pastry tip to cut out the centers of the cooled cupcakes- going about halfway down.  I then used a teaspoon and filled the centers with the ganache.
Fourth - Top it with the Baileys Frosting
  1. Using the whisk attachment of the electric mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. 
  2. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually - (actually very slowly so you are not enveloped in a white cloud) add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. 
  3. Add the Baileys and increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.  (Be careful because it tends to splash)
  4. Using your favourite decorating tip, an offset spatula or a simple knife,  frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.  

Voila!  A  cupcake winner!!!!

Until we bake again...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sourdough Bread - The Queen of the Table

I love talking about bread.  When I took my classes with the great baker, Richard Bertinet in Bath, England, he had the term Bread Bore....yup - we can be boring to many people when talking about bread.... but if you are interested, it is incredibly fascinating!!!!

I love baking it! I love eating it!  Reading about it...etc. etc.  I first started this journey when my brother in law,  Colin, was telling me about his Sunday bread baking.  They didn't and maybe still don't have a bread  bakery in Florenceville, NB, so he baked the bread for the week.  It was beautiful!  In Toronto, we have so many wonderful bakeries and markets, but I thought it would be a great idea to spend Sunday mornings baking bread.  It would be a way for me to slow plans...just make my bread.  It lasted for quite a while but then life got in the way and I stopped doing it as regularly.  I still have my starters bubbling away. I have been privileged to be a tester for one of Peter Reinhart's bread books, taken classes in Paris and Bath and have studied bread  a lot.  I still have sooooo much much to learn.  I would like to take classes in San Francisco and  I daydream about  working in the kitchen of many of them is Tartine Bakery.   

When I saw a Mother's Day workshop in Toronto at Nella Cucina for Sourdough bread, I jumped at it.  Patti, who was giving the class, had the opportunity to bake at Tartine's so I was interested....The only thing missing was my mom....but I know she was with me.... We would have had so much fun...

Because this bread could take 2 or more days to make, some stages were prepared in advance.

We started off with flour, water, salt and a culture I have called "Nella"  of course!

We then mixed the dough....

Ate lunch on some freshly baked bread

let it rise....scored it....

and baked it!.....and voila!

Happy Mother's Day to all those fabulous women or men who are moms!
Moms to your own other's pets... to godchildren....etc. etc.

Have a great day!
Until we bake again

Here is the recipe from the class....

How To Start Your Own Bread Starter:

·        Have a blend of organic whole grain flour and organic unbleached hard white flour.

·        Mix 150g grams of flour to 150g of filtered water.   Let it rest in a cool area for a couple of days. 

·        After a couple of days you should see/smell activity; you should be able to see the Co2 bubbles and it will have doubled in size, if not, wait another day.

·        Once there is life, discard 80% and feed equal parts flour and water. (75g each)

·        Let it rest over night and repeat this process for a few days to get a good starter.  Keep your feedings regular, and make sure to smell and get a feel for the ideal ripeness.

·        Once your starter is strong enough you can either continue feeding with the whole grain and white flour blend, or just strictly use white flour.  

·        If you are not using your starter on a regular basis, you can place it in the fridge for a few months. When you are ready to make bread again, make sure to discard the liquid that forms on the top, and begin replenishing it.  It will require a few feedings, equal parts flour and water, to bring it back

Basic Sourdough Recipe:

350g organic hard white wheat flour
7g salt
262g filtered water
70g leaven

·        Mix flour, water and leaven, rest for 10- 20 minutes
·        After rest period (autolyse) add salt.   Knead dough for 7 minutes, or until dough has a smooth surface. 

Bulk Fermentation:

·        Make sure to turn dough every half hour in the first 2 hours, to help strengthen the glutens and redistribute the temperature of the dough.

·        The following 2 hours, fold each hour.


·        Lightly pre-shape dough into a boule or two smaller boules.  

·        Set aside and cover for 10 – 20 minutes or until the dough feels relaxed.  Use a banneton or line a bowl with a cloth and lightly dust with flour (ideally rice flour, which is less sticky).

·        Shape pre-shaped dough into tight boules.  Try not to tear the surface of the dough but also try to get the most tension without over working the dough.

·        Place dough into the bowl and banneton for a final proof, and refrigerate. 


·        Preheat oven at 500 F.  Place dutch oven or la cloche in oven.  

·        A good test to see if the dough is ready to bake is to lightly press your finger into the dough, if a print stays up to 7 seconds it's ready to bake

·        Once he dough ready turn the boule from the banneton or bowl onto the pre-heated Cloche or dutch oven.

·        Score the dough with fresh, sharp razor (a serrated knife will also work), cover and let bake for 20 minutes.

·        Remove lid and finish baking for 20 min    

·        Once the bread comes out of the oven, let it cool completely first before slicing into it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Waterford Blaa- Happy St. Paddy's Day!

A Waterford blaa is a doughy, white bread bun speciality particularly associated with Waterford, Ireland. It is currently made in Waterford and County Kilkenny and was historically made in Wexford. (Wikipedia). It actually has protected status by the EU...Kind of like Champagne I guess?

And so, I decided to try out this recipe from a great blog I follow - Karen's Kitchen Stories

These buns were easy to make. They are good the same day- tender and fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside - but go stale pretty quickly.

This recipe makes 24
I made them for Leslie's St Paddy's Day Pardy!


900 grams (285 to 300 ml) lukewarm (100 degrees F) water
30 grams (about 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
30 grams (about 2 1/4 tsp) sugar
1500 grams bread flour (just less than 12 cups) plus more for coating the rolls
20 grams (about 1 3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
30 grams (about 3/4 tablespoon) room temperature unsalted butter


Place the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast and the sugar.
Mix gentlyAdd the flour, salt, and butter. Stir with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk until just combined.
Place the bowl on the mixer and mix with the dough hook for 10 minutes, adding more water early on as needed to achieve a smooth dough. I didn't need to add more....

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Ooops left it tooooo long!!! STOP!!!!

Line 3 x 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan with parchment, and dust it liberally with flour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and deflate it. I first divided it in half then quarters and finally had 24 equal pieces
Form each piece into a ball, and then press each ball with the palm of your hand to flatten it into a disk. As you can see, mine didn't flatten so much so don't worry. Place each disk side by side into the pan (2 disks x 4 disks). Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

When the Blaas are ready, liberally dust them with flour, but don't overdo it or you will be eating flour!!. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Lift the parchment out of the pan and place the Blaas on a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, distribute the flour that is already on the rolls evenly over the tops and brush excess from the bottoms too.
The rolls can be served warm or cooled. Cool completely before storing. You can wrap them in plastic if you are going to store them for the next day.

Remember check out Karen's Kitchen Stories! This recipe was inspired by Comfort and Spice by Niamh Shields

Until we bake again....
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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