Cranberry White Chocolate and Almond Blondies

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These Blondies, not the 70’s rock band, are the lighter version of the brownies because they use butterscotch instead of chocolate. Unless you decide to let your chocolate craving decide for you! In that case, just add one cup of white chocolate chips! Sweet and sour dried cranberries and flavourful roasted almonds and you are set for goûter!


½ cup butter

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup crystallized sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose or cake flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped roasted almonds

1 cup dried cranberries

1. Melt the butter over medium high in a large saucepan and let simmer until golden brown.

2. Stir in the sugars using a whisk.

3. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

4. Beat in the eggs, syrup and vanilla.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

6. Line a square baking pan with greased foil.

7. In a bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

8. Incorporate the flour into the butterscotch mixture.

9. Stir in the chocolate chips, chopped almonds and cranberries.

10. Transfer into the lined baking pan.

11. Bake for 20 mins.

12. Let cool on a rack.

White Chocolate and Persimmon Pots de Crême

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Pots de crême are of the same vein as Panna Cotta. This dessert is just as easy to prepare as its Italian counterpart, and I could not resist the temptation when I saw Ricardo and Friends. It follows the same steps, but the white chocolate definitely adds depth and richness to the cream. The refreshing persimmons balance each unctuous and decadent spoonful. Simply delicious!

(Adapted from Ricardo and Friends Pots de Crème Recipe)

Ingredients for 6 servings:

8 ounces white chocolate chips

¼ cup unsalted butter

3 large eggs

½ cup whipping cream

¼ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

3 persimmons

Fresh mint

1. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a double boiler.

2. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat.

3. Stir in the eggs, then the cream and buttermilk using a whisk.

4. Add the gelatin to the cold water and let soften for 5 mins.

5. Put the mixing bowl containing the chocolate mixture on the hot water.

6. Stir in the gelatin until completely dissolved.

7. Remove from the heat.

8. Equally distribute into ramequins or glasses.

9. Chill overnight.

10. Before serving, top with thin slices of persimmons and a sprig of mint.


Homemade Cremini Ricotta Cannelloni with Sweet Basil and Tomato Sauce

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If you need a change from vegetarian lasagna, go for these whole wheat cannelloni. Instead of being layered with the pasta, cremini mushrooms and ricotta cheese make a substantial filling for these square pasta crepes. The sweet fragrance of purple basil infuses not only this pasta dish but also your kitchen, making it warm and inviting. Perfect comfort food after shoveling your snowy sidewalks!

Ingredients for 3 generous servings:

1/3 basic pasta dough using whole wheat flour

Cremini and ricotta filling for 6 cannelloni:

1 cup cremini mushrooms

1 small onion

1 tomato

1 cup fresh purple basil

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup dry white wine

Sweet basil tomato sauce:

6 anchovy filets

1 16-ounce tomato can

1 carrot

2 celery stalks

1 small onion

½ bunch fresh purple basil

1 cup romano cheese

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare the basic pasta dough.

2. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

3. Chop onion, mushrooms, tomato and basil.

4. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

5. Stir fry the onion and the mushrooms until soft.

6. Add the tomato and the purple basil. Let wilt for 2 mins.

4. Add the wine and the cheese and let simmer for 5 mins until all liquid is evaporated. Season to taste.

8. Chop onion, carrot and celery for the tomato sauce.

9. In a saucepan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.

10. Stir in the onion until translucent then add anchovies, carrot and celery.

11. When the vegetables are soft, add the canned tomatoes.

12. Slightly mash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to liberate the juice.

13. Add the purple basil to the pan and season to taste.

14. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer until serving.

15. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

16. Roll the pasta dough and cut into 4 inch squares.

17. Cook the pasta squares in boiling salted water for 3 mins.

18. Plunge the squares into cold water and drain on paper towel.

19. Spoon some filling on the first third of each square and roll.

20. Place the rolls in a baking pan, with seams underneath.

21. Cover the rolls with the tomato sauce and freshly grated cheese.

22. Bake for 20 mins and serve immediately.

My New Favourite Kitchen Gadget and Basic Homemade Pasta

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We finally broke down and decided to get a pasta machine! Nothing to break the bank, just a simple, stainless steel pasta machine with a hand-crank! Just like the one my mum had! One set of rollers to make the thinnest sheets of dough ever and one set of cutters for spaghetti and tagliatelle!

Fresh pasta are dead easy to make, all you need is eggs, flour and water. If everyone knew how cheap and easy they are, they would not stop buying the overpriced, ready-made pasta from the grocery store. Once the dough is ready, you can decide on shape you want to give to your pasta!

Ingredients for 4 portions:

2 cups flour, whole wheat or all purpose

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons water

1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.

2. Form a well in the flour.

3. Break the eggs and add the olive oil into the well.

4. Stir the flour into the wet ingredients using a fork to form dough.

5. Knead to form a ball. (Note: Add the water if the dough is too dry)

6. Let rest for 1 hr at room temperature before rolling.

Moroccan-Style Raisin Orange Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks! Yes, I thought I grabbed veal shanks and got ready for a delicious osso bucco that night. Luckily, I had all these cloves and cinnamon from Madagascar in my pantry! With all these spices, plenty of dark raisins and oranges! This sweet and savoury dish turned out to be the perfect comfort food, away from the frigid nights of Edmonton. And even better: instead of Italy, we got to travel to Morocco for supper! Tagine instead of stew! Not bad for a mistake, was it?


11/2 pounds lamb shanks

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

100 grams pancetta (or 2 to 3 bacon slices)

1 onion

3 sticks celery

4 large carrots

2 cups cremini mushrooms

1 tangerine orange

1 cup raisins

½ to 1 cup dry white wine

10 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

2. Chop the onion, celery and carrots.

3. Brown the pancetta in the hot oil until slightly crisp, and drain on paper towel.

4. Add the chopped onion to the pan.

5. Once the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, add the chopped celery and carrots.

6. Sauté the vegetables until soft and transfer into the slow cooker with the mushrooms and the pancetta.

7. Wash and spike the tangerine with the cloves. Place on top of the vegetables with the cinnamon stick.

8. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan.

9. Mix the flour with salt and pepper on a plate and coat the lamb shanks with the flour mixture. Drain the flour and brown the meat in the hot oil.

10. Transfer the lamb shanks to the slow cooker.

11. Add the raisins to the pan and stir-fry for 1-2 mns over low to medium-high heat.

12. Deglaze with the wine and stir in the leftover flour.

13. Let simmer for 2 mns. Pour the gravy over the meat.

14. Slow cook on high for 6 hours, until the meat falls off the bones.

15. Serve hot over steamed rice or couscous.

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