BRAISED PORK CHEEKS

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When you raise your own pork you respect every bit of the pig.  From pig’s ears to its tail you don’t waste any part of your precious pig.  Pork cheeks are the slip of meat in the hollow just below the eye.   Cooked slowly it becomes meltingly, incredibly tender.  The meat dark as night.   A generous lashing of sherry.  A dash or two of sweet smoked paprika and cumin.  Onion, garlic and carrots – all  combine to add delicious layers of flavour. The sauce becomes so incredibly rich one wants to ladle it lavishly over creamy mashed potatoes.   Pork cheeks simmers away in this flavourful sauce for a few hours filling your kitchen with their delicious aroma.

Pork cheeks are an economical cut and should be available at your butcher.  You may have to order it in advance but it is so worth the wait.  Slip into my kitchen for the recipe for BRAISED PORK CHEEKS.

Published in: on February 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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DREAMING OF GARDENS

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I dream of gardens.

Camila petals soft and seductive.

I dream of roses.  Roses warm against an old brick wall.

And, splashes of violet.   I would  gather these stars and weave a robe to wear in the moonlight.

 

The whitest peonies I would hang  from a crystal chandelier.

I would braid garlands of irises and create a throne.

Then sit in the gloaming and listen to a weeping violin.

A crimson tulip would light my way into the night where I would close my eyes and dream of joyful gardens.

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt creep in, forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a day, you shall begin it well and serenely.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MACAROONS … divinely delicious!

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Coconut macaroons have to be the most decadently addictive cookie ever created.  You can never have just one.  It’s a classic cookie.  Classic in the sense it has been around along time.  I found two recipes in my Blue Ribbon Cook Book that go back to 1920..  One was made with oatmeal (no coconut)!  Through the years the recipes have morphed,   but all the recipes have whipped egg whites in common.

This is the perfect cookie recipe for some one who NEVER bakes.   The individual who pops into Costco and buys trays of mixed goodies to bring to a pot luck dinner.   Or the hostess who passes off bakery cookies as their own.   Coconut macaroons are a blank canvass crying out for you to create your own unique interpretations of something more than wonderful.

The clever cook will add a touch of cinnamon to the mix.  Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper into the dipping chocolate. Chop up a few pistachios to compliment the coconut.     All you require is a can of condensed milk, coconut, vanilla and egg whites. Absolutely no flour!   Egg whites, by the way, can be frozen.   I freeze egg whites in small plastic containers (two egg whites to a container).   With the main ingredients  and egg whites in the freezer you can create a dessert elegant enough for any dinner party.

Indulge and make these classic coconut treats with MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.  Simply click on CHOCOLATE COCONUT MACAROONS.

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VIOLETS IN THE SNOW

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(women holding a violet nosegay – William Worcester Churchill)

It was at  this time of year I was in San Francisco for the first time.  Desperate to brighten a bitter cold prairie winter  I returned home with a nosegay of violets.  I had wrapped them in damp paper.  Tucked them into a plastic bag.  And kept them safe inside my warm coat.   While outside a Saskatchewan blizzard howled and raged my room was fragrant with my tiny bouquet.  For me San Francisco will always be about flowers and the tiny violets that gave me such pleasure.

Each violet peeps from it dwelling to gaze at the bright stars above.

The eyes of spring, so azure are peeping from the ground;

They are the darling violets, that I in nosegays bound. (h.heine 1856)

 

 

 

And shade the violets, that they may bind the moss in leafy nets. (john keats)

 

Deep violets, you liken to the kindest  eyes that look on you, without a thought disloyal    (elizabeth barret browning)

 

Cold blows the wind against the hill, and cold upon the plain;

  I sit by the bank until the violets come again.

Here sat we when the grass was set

With violets shining through,

And leafy branches spread a net

To hold a sky of blue.

(richard garnet)

 

MINESTRONE SOUP … bring an Italian to your supper table

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The pantry is filled with vegetables and herbs  harvested from the garden.  The mornings are cool and crisp.  Time to make soup.   Soup making is a soul satisfying endeavor.  You chop.  You braise.  You stir.  You taste.  There’s not too much measuring of ingredients.  A little of this.  A lot of that.  Then presto your kitchen is filled with the heady aroma of soup simmering and singing to you on the stove.

If you are an aficionado of the “slow cooker” here’s something to remember.  If you toss everything into the container without braising some of the ingredients you’ll never get that deep, wonderful rich layers of flavour.  So do take the time to saute your onions and garlic.  Your celery and carrots.  Then whily-nily, like a mad scientist, toss everything into the pot and walk away.

I went to my bible of authentic Italian cooking.  THE SILVER SPOON.  Five pages of minestrone soups.   Almost every Italian region has its own exclusive recipe for making this popular soup.

The best part of making minestrone is you can be very creative.   Pasta, rice, and legumes are added to your vegetables and herbs.    You can put them all in or leave some out .  Your choice.  The essential butter, bacon fat, oil or lard is added at the beginning to give flavour to the ingredients.    Again, your choice.  I’ve combined a couple of recipes  for this pleasant and satisfying winter dish . . . MINESTRONE SOUP

 

A HOME FILLED WITH FLOWERS – A HOME FILLED WITH LOVE

“A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions – so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.”  – Adabella Radici

A glittering butterfly pin adorns flowers.

A pink butterfly pin on pink hydrangea

A single lily and a garden painting brighten an elegant kitchen.

Flowers instead of a fire.

A home filled with flowers.

A home filled with love.

Bright gerber daisies make me smile and breakfast taste even better.

“And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies” – Christopher Marlowe

BUTTER TARTS . . . the quintessential Canadian pastry tart

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

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I have shared hundreds of recipes on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.  One recipe has been outstandingly popular.  It is my recipe for butter tarts. Hundreds of  cooks have down loaded  this  quintessential Canadian dessert.

The melt-in-your-mouth flaky pastry tart is filled with delicious concoction of butter, sugar, syrup and eggs .  Cooks add their own variations.  The purists add only  currants or raisins. Some cooks add variation with nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, figs or dates.  The pastry recipe is carefully explained and if you are one who avoids making pastry do try this.  You will be thrilled with the results.

In 1955 I was working as a writer at a small Alberta radio station.  I brought a box of butter tarts I had baked to work.  I was asked if I would bake some butter tarts for a bridal shower.  I quickly found myself working nine to five as a writer, then filling orders for butter tarts at night.   My career in the food business had begun.

This is the very best of pioneer Canadian cooking.  The earliest recipe for butter tarts was found in 1900 in The Woman’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victorian Hospital Cookbook.  Over the years I continually tweaked my recipe.  This recipe found in the Harrow Country Fair cook book (with a few adjustments) is a blue ribbon winner.  I always use currents (reconstituted) as opposed to raisins.  I think their flavour and texture  better compliments the syrupy filling.  The pastry of butter tarts is equally as important as the filling.  It must be flaky and rich yet be able to hold the delicious and sometimes runny filling.

You can  make butter tarts in tiny tart tins for one bite of heaven.  If I plan to use the butter tarts for a dessert I use a larger tart tin and serve with a generous scoop of  sublime vanilla ice cream or a flourish of whipped cream.

Butter Tarts will keep about a week at room temperature and freeze beautifully for three to four weeks.

BLUE RIBBON BUTTER TARTS    – just click on the name and fill your kitchen with the delectable aroma of baking.

FRENCH ONION SOUP … SO VERY, VERY FRENCH!

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

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The prices of vegetables are soaring sky high so the savvy cook looks to locally grown vegetables for the dinner table.  FRENCH ONION SOUP is a classic.    The ingredients are readily available.  The soup is simply to make.    Gussied  up with Gruyere cheese it warms the cockles of your heart and impresses guests and family alike.

We had a bumper crop of onions this past summer.  The bins in the cold room are filled with these golden darling and I have been using them lavishly.  Winter on the West Coast can be bone-chilling cold.  This is the soup I like simmering away  filling the kitchen with its gorgeous earthy flavour.  Then there’s delicious moment when your spoon breaks the cheesy crust and you sip your way into soup heaven.

Be prepared to shed a few mascara streaked tears when you are slicing the onions. but it is definitely worth it.  The following recipe for FRENCH ONION SOUP  LES HALLES STYLE is so very, very French.  You’ll love it.

Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 1:27 pm  Comments (28)  
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FRENCH ONION SOUP . . . LES HALLES STYLE!

It was April and we were in Paris.

Dining  at Man Ray,  then on to the Buddha Bar for fabulous people watching,  music and  champagne.    It was our last night in Paris.  We wanted to savour all Paris had to offer.

The night sky was fading as we wandered into an old bistro in the lst Arrondissment.     This is the  area where  the citizens of the old market place of Les Halles  worked 24 hours a day  distributing food to every corner of Paris.

And this is where we ended our Paris adventure  with bowls of onion soup.  A gorgeous soup crowned with bread encrusted with rich, melted Gruyere cheese.  We broke the crusty cheese toast and enthusiastically spooned the restorative soup until our bowls were empty.

My daughter and I looked at each other and in unison  uttered that famous line “we’ll always have Paris”.

I came away from that tiny bistro with a new recipe  for  onion soup.   Onion soup made with rich chicken stock.    Using chicken stock lightens the soup and allows earthy  onion flavour to sing.



 


 

Serve with a crisp, citrusy whites; Sancerre, Pouilly Fume


For this classic recipe click on FRENCH ONION SOUP  and start slicing your onions and shedding your tears.  It’s worth it.    Bon Appetit!

IT’S ALL ABOUT WORDS . . . MY FAVORITE POST

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

IMG_1262I have written over seven hundred posts on this blog of mine.  There is one that is my favorite.  It is about books.  If anything defines me it is the written word.  As another year slides into the past I would like to share again “gather your words to keep them safe”.

Published in: on December 21, 2015 at 10:46 am  Comments (13)  
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