Category Archives: Food

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

(Chef Karen is going it alone this week)

Ginger cookies have never been a favourite of mine.  Not sure if they’re too strong or what but I’m not a big fan…. until I found this recipe.  My husband likes them so I thought I’d be nice and make some for him; turns out, I like them now, too.  I used Ina Garten’s Ultimate Cookie Recipe from the Food Network website. They have a nice ginger-y taste to them and they’re not too strong.  When I made them I wasn’t thrilled with the dough. I found it to be VERY crumbly; to the point that I thought I was going to throw it out.  But, I continued on and made it work.  I think I added the flour too quickly so keep that in mind.  It’s certainly not too late to bake for the Christmas holidays so get going and whip up a batch of these….. I’m pretty sure you’ll be a fan, too.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies!

Ultimate Ginger Cookies!

Chef Jonathan and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thank-you for supporting our blog by reading our posts.  We hope to keep going in 2014 with fun and interesting recipes to pass onto you!


Pumpkin Loaf

Chef Karen: I was inspired by Chef Jonathan to make a Pumpkin Loaf.  I’m not a HUGE fan of pumpkin but every-so-often it’s a nice taste – especially for fall!  The loaf recipe that I used was so easy to make!  I even accidentally put in double the baking soda and it still turned out yummy!  I found the recipe from Anna Olsen on the Food Network website.  I made it exactly as written (except for the baking soda)…… I think I would add walnuts next time; that’s the only change I’d make.  It did take over an hour to bake so be prepared for that.  This loaf is VERY moist!  I was very surprised at how moist it was….. must be the pumpkin 🙂  I served this to a group of people and it got rave reviews – I didn’t see any of it in the garbage – which is a bonus! Try this recipe. I know you’ll enjoy it.



Chef Jonathan: This is my absolute favourite recipe to make whenever even a hint of fall appears. This is my own recipe that I’ve adapted from one that I used in Culinary School for Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf. So, when a work function asked me to bake something, this my obvious choice. It consists of very simple methods: creaming butter and sugar, incorporating eggs, adding dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves), and finally adding pumpkin puree, cranberries and vanilla along with a secret ingredient that I wont reveal to anyone (not even my mother…..) One thing I did change this time was using pure pumpkin and sweetening it with brown sugar and spices, I found this a bit better than using the pie filling, because you get it to the sweetness desired. This is always a hit at every gathering, try it out!



Lemon Squares

Chef Karen: A few weeks ago, Chef Jonathan made these for an event. I was so impressed, I asked him if we could make it for our blog. He’s so agreeable! 🙂 because here it is! I found this so easy to make! I had only a short window of time to whip these up and I was very pleased at how easy they came together. In the recipe, Paula suggests to mix the butter and flour with your hands. I found I didn’t like this. I’d use a pastry cutter next time. My “arthritic feeling” hands didn’t work as well as a cutter would. I’d also add some lemon zest next time.

We two chefs hung out with each other on the weekend so we were able to have people compare our two recipes. (Pretty unfair, huh?) Everyone was very gracious in saying that they liked both of them but had preferences about each one. I actually preferred Chef Jonathan’s. Hopefully, I can become an excellent pastry chef like him, someday 🙂

Chef Jonathan: Before I made this recipe, I had never made lemon squares before (I know, gasp!), and much to my delight they turned out wonderfully. I love all of Paula Deen’s recipes, especially her desserts, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Since I had made this recipe before, I added a touch more lemon juice than previously, and Chef Karen and I mutually decided that adding lemon zest would be beneficial next time. I would also reduce the amount of crust in this recipe to almost half, as it seemed a bit thick. This is a great recipe for a quick summer lemon square, and I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

Chef Jonathan's are the two top ones. Chef Karen's are the two bottom ones.

Chef Jonathan’s are the two top ones. Chef Karen’s are the two bottom ones.

Here is the recipe. Thank-you, Paula Deen!


Creme Brulee

Chef Karen: One of my favourite desserts that Chef Jonathan creates is Creme Brulee. It’s rich, creamy and I LOVE the crunchy sugar-top. I asked him if we could use it for our blog this week. Thankfully, he agreed! I believe he used a different recipe than his usual one. (He may address this himself). I was very surprised at how easy this recipe was to make. I have the conception of anything that is French being hard to make. Wrong-o! I did substitute 1C of whole milk and 1C of 1% milk for 2C of the heavy cream. It was probably the wrong thing to do because even though I was very happy with the taste of the end product, I wasn’t very happy that it was runny. Chef Jonathan thought that maybe I should have cooked it longer. It seemed set when I took them out of the oven but upon presentation and eating, they were runny. My other issue is that I don’t have a torch. I’m proof of the fact that you really don’t need one. I put them under the broiler for a few minutes – watching them oh, so carefully – and that browned them and created the crunchy sugar-top. All-in-all a great dessert and one that even though perceived to be difficult to make, is quite easy.

Ramekins in the oven ready to bake. Notice the hot water bath.

Ramekins in the oven ready to bake. Notice the hot water bath.

Ready to serve with the crunchy sugary-top!

Ready to serve with the crunchy sugary-top!

Chef Jonathan: Creme Brûlée is one of my favourite custard desserts to make. It’s fairly easy too, if you use the proper methods. This recipe is a new one, that I’ve never used before, so the Creme turned out a bit runny, but my little trick is to just throw it in the freezer one hour prior to consumption, and it thickens up nicely. What I like about Creme Brûlée, is the contrasts: first you have a nice smooth, creamy custard with a crunchy almost burnt brown sugar topping. Second, I love the contrast between the cold custard and the flaming hot (literally) topping. There are many variations on a Creme Brûlée ( ie., Chocolate, Fruit, etc.) but I love this timeless, classic version the best. Hope you enjoy this amazing custard as much as we do.


Here is the recipe:


Hazelnut-Mocha Dacquoise

This week we have one recipe in one kitchen……. I made this delightful treat for Chef Jonathan’s birthday.  Let me start by saying it was worth the effort.  That said, it’s A LOT of effort to make this cake.  It takes several hours, as it clearly states, so be prepared. There are no cutting corners with this little project.  I’m glad it tasted so good after all of the time put into it.

Let me give you a few other hints……..

1. Make sure your meringue disks are flat – it will keep the ganache from sliding off.

2. It says to spread the whole thing with the whipped cream and let set for 6 hours or over night.  I think this is a mistake.  The whipped cream begins to separate and run.  This isn’t nice to look at or to eat.  I would spread the meringue disks with the ganache and then let them set in the fridge for the 6  hours and then spread the whipped  cream over the cake just before serving.

3. The FNM’s picture shows a tall cake. Mine wasn’t that tall. Just be prepared for that…..

4. As you cut it, it tends to slide……. just be prepared for that, too.

I loved the cake. I’d make it, again, with the few added changes.

Here is my picture:

ImageHere is the link to the recipe on the Food Network:


He Said/She Said Clam Chowder

This week we each tried a different Clam Chowder recipe. These are New England Clam Chowder Recipes.

Chef Karen: I patterned my recipe after Anne Burrell’s New England Clam Chowder recipe from the Food Network website. I made several changes to it as I went along.

I used canned clams – probably a no-no but the only choice I had at this point. Here is the recipe:

I can clams – chopped in clam juice

I large onion – chopped

6 pieces of bacon – cut into pieces

1.5 pounds of potatoes – cut into bite-size pieces

1.5 C whole milk

1.5 C heavy cream

1T corn starch

1 bunch of thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Drain the clams reserving the juice. Put 1 T of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. When heated, add the bacon and cook until crispy. Add the onion and cook until transparent. Add the potatoes (I would cut back on the potatoes. I feel it was too many.) cook for about 5 minutes.

Whisk the corn starch into the reserved clam juice. Add to the pot and stir well. Add the milk and cream and bring to a boil. Stir in the clams. Add the thyme for about 5 minutes and then remove. Cook the chowder 15 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Add salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy!


Chef Jonathan: I used a variation of Chef Irvine’s New England Clam Chowder recipe. This chowder has potatoes, onion, bacon, and my favourite ingredient: butter, and lots of it! I added canned baby clams, and my own seasonings. I also added half and half cream (you can use whipping), to thicken the chowder, and it also gives it a nice creamy taste. I like this recipe, it is very chunky, hearty, and perfect for a cold wintery day. This chowder is also perfect served with crackers or a nice thick bread. Enjoy!



Tags: , , , ,

Fresh Corn Casserole

Fresh ingredients for this recipe are the best

Chef Jonathan: I was very motivated for this weeks blog, because I’ve never made a corn casserole or anything like it before, and I always love trying new things! I like this recipe for its simplicity, but in the same way, I wish there were more ingredients, like: onions, leeks, or something to bulk it up a bit. I also found it a bit runny, so next time I would likely leave out the milk and only add the heavy cream. I would also increase the cooking temperature to 375, for at least 45 minutes, as I found it took a long time for all the peppers to cook fully. Speaking of peppers, I decided to use both red and orange, as I find the color combination very visually appealing. All in all, a great recipe, with a few minor changes.



Chef Karen: I’ve made this recipe several times this summer, already. I also have found it very easy to make. I agree with Chef Jonathan that it could use a little bulk.  I have also cut back on the milk and the cream.  Even with the cutbacks it’s too runny. So keep that in mind when you serve it.  I’m sure you could make this with frozen corn but at this time of the year buy fresh and enjoy it! I’ve never found the cooking time to be a problem but every oven is different so adjust your cooking time accordingly.  Just a note: please be careful when working with jalapeno peppers.  Their seeds are very hot and can leave a burning sensation on your hands.
This recipe is from the Food Network website.