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Simply Sensational Strawberry Shortcake

Chef Karen: (This week I made the blog and Chef Jonathan took the picture and had a taste test…. sometimes there just isn’t enough time in a week.) I saw this recipe in a magazine and knew it was going to have to be made! I love fresh strawberries and I love strawberry shortcake. Enough said. This is a very simple recipe. I made the cake part earlier in the day and put the rest of it together for dessert time. I followed the recipe as directed except for the Cool Whip on the top part…….. I added my own amount! I also reversed the strawberry and cream layers on the bottom to what it calls for. I did cream first and strawberries second. It just made more sense to me. It was very good and a nice change from individual strawberry shortcakes that I usually serve. It was loved by everyone and I’m sure you will, too. A definite must-to strawberry season creation!


Here is the where to find the recipe:


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!


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:


Easter Chick Cake

This year for Easter dinner dessert, we decided to do something a little different, we created a 2-layer cake with buttercream icing and decorative chicks and eggs. For the cakes, make your favourite white or golden cake, or buy a mix if you prefer. Cut the top off of the bottom cake to make it flat on top, so the top cake will sit perfectly on top. For the buttercream, cream 1 lb salted butter and with the paddle attachment, mix in 1-2 C confectioner’s sugar, until the icing mixture is developed. Adding a splash of milk makes the icing easier to spread, then add your green food colouring, for the grass (we used Wilton Leaf Green icing colour). Spread the icing in between the cakes and on top and down the sides of both cakes, until covered completely. For the chicks, I molded them out of gum paste, and painted the dyes on after they each hardened. Decorate with gumpaste chicks and your favourite Easter chocolate eggs (we used mini eggs and malted robins’ eggs). Voila! you have an extravagant cake for next Easter or Spring dinner party!


The Taste: Appetizers

Chef Karen and I have really been enjoying the new show, The Taste, airing on ABC, so we decided to have a little competition of our own. The challenge: make one appetizer in under 1 hour, to fit on one spoon, with The Taste being the focal point. The secret ingredient: cardamom.

Chef Karen: I decided to add cardamom to rice to create something. I cooked some Jasmine rice and then added salt and pepper, a bit of olive oil and the cardamom (powder) – all to taste. I laid a spinach leaf on the spoon and then plated the rice on top of it with a slice of cucumber and a dash of soy sauce. It turned out to be very good – and a nice refreshing appetizer.

The Taste

Chef Jonathan: For my appetizer, I decided to make Deep-fried Shrimp with Cardamom-Infused Aioli. For the shrimp, I took my peeled, deveined, shrimp (tails on), and did a three step dredge: in the first bowl I mixed flour, salt & pepper and paprika to taste. In the second bowl, 3 eggs with a splash of milk to lighten it, and in the final bowl, bread crumbs with salt & pepper. Once shrimp is dredged, drop into a deep fryer, set to 375 F, and shrimp will only take 30 secs to 1 minute to fry. Place on a plate lined with paper towel, and leave to cool. For the aioli, I placed my cardamom in a food processor, and pulsed until the pods open to reveal the seeds inside. Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl, add minced garlic as desired (I added 10 cloves), whisk in 1 C EVOO in a steady stream, mix in 2-3 T lemon juice, and season with salt & pepper to taste. The shrimp goes so well with the aioli, I think they were made for each other, enjoy!



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Timpano di Maccheroni: The “Mythic Pasta Dome”

This week’s recipe was inspired from a movie called “Big Night” starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub. As I searched how to make it, I found that there are as many ways to create it as there are cooks. Therefore, I chose a recipe that looked fairly do-able for everyone and looked awesome, at the same time. Because of the inadequacy of the original recipe we followed, we decided to create our own. Thus, there is another Timpano di Maccheroni recipe now out there – this one created by non-Italians.

Your oven will be 350 degrees.

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for the inside:

Pasta Dome 001

3 C pasta sauce – make your own or buy your favourite. (Chef Karen bought her fav.)

1/2 Box of frozen meatballs, if you wish

125 g of penne or your favourite pasta

8 oz. salami or pepperoni (divided into 2 )

Bechamel sauce (which is: 2T butter, 2T flour, 1 1/4 C milk, salt and pepper, dash of nutmeg and 1/4C Parmesan cheese) in medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook until starting to brown. Stir in milk and whisk to smooth until bubbly and thickened. Whisk in cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

3 hard boiled eggs cut into quarters

6-8 black olives – pitted

2C mozzarella cheese

Pasta base:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp cream or half and half

Either by hand, In food processor or big mixer with dough hook, mix flour, salt, egg, and cream together and process or hand knead until dough is smooth and shiny. Check dough for wet/dry consistency, adding a bit of water or flour to achieve ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least one hour to allow protein bonds to form and elasticize the dough.)

In the meantime, cook your pasta and divide it in half. 1/2 goes with the bechamel sauce, 1/2 goes with the meatballs. When your dough is ready, put it together.

Spray your casserole dish and scatter it with bread crumbs

Spray your casserole dish and scatter it with bread crumbs

Then, roll out your dough and put it in your dish.

Add your salami or pepperoni

Add your salami or pepperoni
Put in the bechamel sauce with the pasta

Put in the bechamel sauce with the pasta

add your eggs

add your eggs

Now, add your pasta with meatballs.  layer on your olives and add the rest of the pepperoni

Now, add your pasta with meatballs. layer on your olives and add the rest of the pepperoni

add the yummy mozzarella cheese

add the yummy mozzarella cheese

cover over with the dough.  (I obviously had a little hole)

cover over with the dough. (I obviously had a little hole)

Cover the whole thing with tin foil and bake for 1 hour in the oven.

Here is what it looks like out and cut. A nice addition is some more pasta sauce over the whole top.

Pretty cool looking piece of supper

Pretty cool looking piece of supper

And here it is on a plate

And here it is on a plate

Chef Jonathan:

Spray your casserole dish with baking spray and fit in the Pâté Brisee to cover bottom and run up the sides of the pan, with enough overlap to cover the pasta. Then, layer in pancetta or pepperoni.

Layer in the long pasta, mixed with the bechamel (in this case, I used linguine). I also topped with mozzarella cheese.

Layer in the short pasta, mixed with the meat sauce, then top with mozzarella.

Then, finish with layering in the rest of the pancetta/ pepperoni.

Pull up the Pâté Brisee, stretching if needed, until enough is yielded to overlap the entire dish, and crease. Wet a pastry brush with water, if desired, to ensure it’s sealed.

Cut a slice, or two………

…..and enjoy!


Chopped – Desserts!

We had so much fun doing our last “Chopped – Desserts” that we decided to do another one. Here is the idea of the “game”. We each give each other 3 ingredients and we have to create a dessert with them in just 30 minutes. It’s all a trust thing as we’re in different cities. We can add stuff but we have to use the 3 ingredients given. Here are the results of this week’s creativity:

Chef Karen: My 3 ingredients were: saltine crackers, hard candy (I chose Werther’s) and grape jelly.Chopped Desserts 001

I chose to chop the candies with my food processor and then I added the crackers to make a crust. I also added a bit of brown sugar to help the consistency.

In the meantime, I added 6 candies to whipping cream and brought it to a boil until the candies were melted and I had a nice caramel topping. I then poured the caramel onto the crust. My blast-chiller was down (I wish I had one!) so I put the crust in the frig to cool.

Chopped Desserts 003Next, I creamed some cream cheese with some cool whip and added the grape jelly to it.

Chopped Desserts 004I then poured the whole thing onto my caramel topped crust and zested an orange on the top for colour (My husband’s idea 🙂 )

Chopped Desserts 006

This whole dessert took 25 minutes. It was salty, yet sweet – one of my favourite combinations!

Chef Jonathan: My three ingredients were: hot dog buns, pretzels, and pineapple. I decided to make a Pineapple and toasted pain brûlée with a pineapple jus. I started by buttering the buns, then spreading a brown sugar mixture, consisting also of cinnamon and the crushed pretzels, onto the buns then broiled them in the oven. Next, I spread the same mixture onto the quartered pineapple, then brûléed them with a torch. Meanwhile, I made a pineapple jus by cooking the remaining pineapple and sugar, resulting with a nice, sweet jus. This all only took me about 20 minutes, and I was very happy with the outcome.