World Junior Hockey and Pizza Frittata – a winning combination

If you’re a hockey fan, you probably know the annual World Junior Championship (WJC) is in full swing in Ottawa. It started on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and the gold medal game will be played on Jan. 5.

So far, Canada’s team has fared very well. Fingers are crossed that the streak will continue tonight with the highly anticipated match between Canada and the U.S.

I wouldn’t count myself as a true hockey fan, however I’ve been known to watch the occasional game. With a husband who scouts for the Kitchener Rangers, sometimes I don’t have a choice!

Modelling the Get Cracking Canada! tattoos we gave out at the World Junior Championship game on Dec. 28 in Ottawa

Modelling the Get Cracking Canada! tattoos we gave out at the Dec. 28th game of the World Junior Championships

Since Egg Farmers of Canada and Egg Farmers of Ontario are sponsors of the WJC, I attended Sunday’s game at Scotiabank Place – Canada vs Kazakhstan. It was egg promo night so a few colleagues and I handed out “Get Cracking Canada!” thundersticks and tattoos, as well as recipe cards for Pizza Frittata.

To get into the spirit of the game, we decided we should wear the tattoos we were giving out. The tattoos proved to be quite “permanent”! The one I put on my hand didn’t wash off easily after the game, so I decided to leave the tattoo on my face alone instead of trying to scrub it off. I did get a few comments and curious stares as I waited at the Ottawa airport for my flight back to Toronto. Once home, the tattoo came off with a little effort and a washcloth!

The Pizza Frittata recipe cards proved to be a popular giveaway. Most people like pizza, and a frittata (an open-faced omelette) is an easy thing to make. The cool thing about the cards is that they have a small packet of seasonings (containing mostly dried herbs) stapled to them.

pizza-frittata-recipe-card-front2

We give out these cards at many of the events Egg Farmers of Ontario attends. (I mentioned them and provided the recipe in my April 28th post, but I didn’t show what the cards look like. For convenience, I’ll provide the recipe again below.)

At first people are curious about the card, or more accurately, they’re curious about what’s in the packet. Sometimes the contents get mistaken for seeds….or for something illegal that can be smoked!! We had numerous comments about the latter at the game. Not so sure about that hockey crowd!?!

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Christmas Countdown: Pumpkin Pound Cake and a tale of three – no, four sauces

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Whether you like to bake or not, at Christmas there are lots of reasons to do so. Sometimes it’s because you’ve been asked – or you’ve volunteered – to bring dessert to a party. Last Friday I did just that – offer to bring dessert for a dinner with friends.

I’ve been making pound cakes lately, and thought that would make a nice dessert.

I had tried a recipe for an eggnog pound cake made with a cake mix. The end result was okay, but the recipe really wasn’t special enough to share.

Then I made a pumpkin pound cake from Company’s Coming new cookbook, Tonight! (Magical Meals on Short Notice). This pound cake was definitely better, but the accompanying sauce was nothing to write home about, or write about at all. Well, I’ll write a little about it.

Strike one…..

The first time I made the sauce, the consistency was great, but I burnt it. In the recipe (see below), the brown sugar and butter are to boil gently together until thickened (about 5 minutes). The key words in this concept are gently and about. Obviously neither word registered with me the first time around. I should have kept a closer watch on the sauce as it thickened – then blackened! – before I checked in on it. Sadly, I was too busy trying to multi-task: clean up the kitchen, pay some bills, feed the dog….while a sauce was boiling out of control, then burning on my stovetop!

Strike two…..

I made the sauce again, but this time the butter and brown sugar never quite melded together. I probably over compensated for the first disaster and didn’t boil the mixture long enough. I added the brandy anyway, hoping for a miracle. (What was I thinking??) When I tasted the concoction, I decided 2 tablespoons (30 mL) was either way too much brandy or, maybe I really didn’t care for brandy all that much! The sauce had a strong, harsh and unpleasant taste.

With the second attempt nearly as disastrous as the first, I looked around for another recipe. Lesser, perhaps more intelligent(?!) cooks would have given up and just drizzled a commercial caramel or even chocolate sauce over the cake, but not being one to give up easily I forged on, scouring some of my cookbooks for another recipe.

Strike three…..

I found one that called for cornstarch as a thickener. This should give me the right consistency, I reasoned, and then I’d just add less brandy than called for to minimize and mellow the brandy flavour. Of course, smarter cooks would have opted to try flavouring the sauce with some thing they liked, like rum or amaretto. But I seemed determined to make myself like the taste of brandy.

And so a third round of sauce-making began. Sadly, it too was unsuccessful. The sauce, although nicely thickened, was thin in flavour and very pale, almost sickly looking. Surveying the mounds of pots and wasted ingredients, I felt like a sauce-moron.

Home run??

Since I was bringing the cake to a friend’s place for supper, I needed a solution – immediately! A raid of the fridge produced a jar of dulce de leche (a caramel creme spread – pronounced dool-say de lech-ay). I spooned some of it into a small bowl and warmed it briefly in the microwave – just enough to thin it slightly and make it easy to stir. Into the sauce I stirred a little half and half. (Milk would have worked as would whipping cream -35%M.F.) In mere seconds, I had a smooth, creamy, not too sweet sauce. I sliced off a piece of cake and spooned a little sauce over top for a test run. Mmmm. Home run! At last!

There was enough cake to enjoy for supper at my friend’s home that night, and to serve to guests at home the next day. A set of small gravy boats doubled beautifully as mini pitchers for the sauce so each person could serve themselves as much or as little sauce as they wanted.

Dulce de leche is basically cooked sweetend milk. You can make it yourself or buy it commercially. The brand I used was President’s Choice. You can use it as a spread for toast or as a topping for cakes, waffles, crepes, etc. Here are some additional recipes using it.

Pumpkin Pecan Pound Cake with Brandy Sauce
(Makes 12 slices)

When making the sauce, the brown sugar and butter should boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes without stirring, but keep watch over it. Instead of the Brandy Sauce, serve with warmed butterscotch or caramel sauce or maple syrup, or warmed dulce le leche spread thinned with a little milk or cream. A spoonful of sweetened whipped cream (add a little ground cinnamon if desired) or vanilla or butterscotch ice cream would also be a nice accompaniment.

1 cup (250 mL) butter or hard margarine
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
4 large eggs
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) pure pumpkin
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
2 teaspooons (10 mL) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) chopped pecans, toasted

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla in two additions, beating well after each addition. (Mixture may look a little curdled.)

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Slowly add to pumpkin mixture, beating on low until combined. Fold in pecans.

Spread evenly in a greased and floured 12 cup (3 L) bundt pan.

Bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven until wooden pick or cake tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool slightly.

Brandy Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter in a small saucepan. Heat and stir over medium heat until boiling. Boil gently, uncovered and without stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup (125 mL) half and half  and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brandy. Drizzle over individual slices of cake.

Recipe Source: Company’s Coming Tonight! (Magical Meals on Short Notice), Company’s Coming Publishing Limited, 2008

When life gives you…..mushrooms?

Who doesn’t love getting free stuff?

I recently scored some free mushrooms. It helps to have friends who are in the business of promoting mushrooms.

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms for filling an omelette

After Wednesday night’s WOW Seminar in Paris (no, not Paris, France – Paris, Ontario – also a lovely place but minus the language problems I’d encounter if I hopped across the pond!), Nikki from Mushrooms Canada had some leftovers from her cooking demonstration. She kindly packed up a nice assortment and sent them home with me.

So, last night it was a simple mushroom omelette and a salad for supper. This weekend I’m making mushroom crepes. Might also make mushroom soup. Or maybe mushroom risotto……or stuffed mushrooms……

Mushroom (and cheese) omelette - a simple, tasty supper!

Mushroom (and cheese) omelette - a simple, tasty supper!

If you want to know anything about mushrooms (nutritional value, varieties, or how to clean, store or cook them), check in with the mushroom experts. Mushrooms Canada’s web site – mushrooms.ca – has everything you need to know, as well as recipes. There are also cooking videos starring my friend and colleague, home economist Clare Jones.

If you’d like to enjoy mushrooms in an omelette and are looking for a few tips on omelette making, check out the recommended omelette technique from Egg Farmers of Ontario. To make the omelette filling, I prefer sauteing the mushrooms first in a little oil or butter, then using them to fill my omelette. But you don’t have to cook the mushrooms if you chop them finely, then sprinkle them over your omelette before folding it over.

There’s also a recipe for a Wild Mushroom Frittata on EFO’s web site.

Hallowe’en Fun with Food

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en

Hallowe’en is the perfect holiday to go over the top with decorations and party food. It’s probably the only time of year when poor taste and “grossness” are preferred, or at least tolerated.

If you’re planning a Hallowe’en menu, you can go all out and spend lots of time, money and energy on creating a “terrorific” atmosphere at the dinner table. Or you can unleash your imagination and stir up little home-brewed ambiance by simply renaming favorite foods.

Need some inspiration?

Why not serve worms and eyeballs and dried bones (spaghetti and meatballs and biscuits) for supper? Or how about witch’s fingers and slime sauce (chicken strips and ranch dressing or plum sauce dyed green) or barbequed bat wings (chicken wings) or witches’ brew and dracula diggers (chili and tortilla chips)?

Wild and whacky side dishes might include grass and weeds with sliced toadstools and witch’s teeth (salad greens with mushrooms and sunflower seeds), maggots (rice), rotting teeth (corn) or lizard tongues (sautéed red pepper strips or carrot sticks).

Pond scum (jello with gummi worms) or bones (meringue cookies) make delicious desserts, and swamp water (frozen lemonade concentrate, lemon-lime pop and lime sherbet) will wash the meal down.

Sounds tasty, doesn’t it?

Here are a couple recipes for dried bones. Bon Appetit!

Breadstick Bones
(Makes 6 breadsticks)

1 can refrigerated breadsticks
Melted butter or margarine
Italian seasoning, Tex Mex seasoning or grated Parmesan cheese

Open can and unroll dough; separate into 6 strips. Carefully stretch each strip until about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Loosely tie a knot in both ends of each breadstick. Place breadsticks on an ungreased baking sheet.

Brush melted butter over breadsticks. Sprinkle seasoning or cheese over top.

Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven until golden brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

*************************************************************************************************************

Meringue Bones
(Makes about 2 dozen cookies)

5 egg whites
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cream of tartar
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla, orange or lemon extract

Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag with a round tip (about 3/8 inch/1 cm diameter).

With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, a couple tablespoons (about 30 mL) at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form and meringue is shiny and smooth. Add extract and beat just until combined.

Fill piping bag with meringue. Pipe a log about 3 inches (8 cm) long. Pipe two balls on both sides of the ends of the log. Repeat with remaining meringue. You can smooth any peaks that occur with a wet finger.

Bake in a preheated 220F (105C) oven for 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Leave cookies in oven for 8 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Tips:
* Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 20 minutes after separating; they will beat to a greater volume if they aren’t cold.

* Stirring a drop or two of yellow food colouring into the meringue mixture before baking will give the bones an aged look.

* If you don’t have a piping bag, use a sturdy ziplock bag. Cut off the tip once you have filled the bag with meringue mixture.

Tabbouli-style Salad a quick meal when life is busy

This recipe is one of my fallback favourites. (Rather fitting, given the season.) It’s one of those treasured recipes or meal solutions I turn to when in need of (make that desperate for!) something quick and easy and I’m too rushed for time or lacking energy to be super creative about what’s going on my plate. September is an exceptionally busy time of year for me so I’m always on the look-out for ways to save precious minutes in the kitchen. This salad is one of those time and energy savers for me.

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad is made by cooking beaten eggs in broth, then adding couscous. While the couscous cooks for a few minutes, I chop up whatever vegetables I have on hand and whip up a simple dressing. Everything then gets combined along with fresh herbs, if I have some on hand.

This salad can be served as a main dish or a side, and either warm or chilled. I make it frequently, especially when life is busy (like these days!), or when I need a fast, easy contribution to a potluck. It’s simple and it tastes good, and after making it so often, the method and ingredient proportions are etched in my brain.

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad

Tabbouli-style Egg and Vegetable Salad
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) chicken OR vegetable broth
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) couscous
2/3 cup (150 mL) regular OR low-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon OR lime juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder
2 cups (500 mL) diced fresh vegetables (e.g. cucumber, carrot, sweet pepper, celery, zucchini or seeded tomato)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, mint OR parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Slowly add eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook for a minute or two, whisking constantly, just until eggs are set. (They will look curdled.) Remove saucepan from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or cup, combine salad dressing, lemon juice and chili powder, stirring well to break up any lumps of chili powder.

When couscous has stood for 5 minutes, stir it to separate grains and break up any clumps. Stir in vegetables and cilantro. Pour dressing over couscous mixture; toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Tips:
* Try substituting another vinaigrette-style dressing for the Italian dressing.
* Couscous can be found in most grocery stores and bulk food stores. If desired, instant rice can be substituted.

Scrambled eggs for a crowd

One morning last week I and a couple colleagues cooked scrambled eggs for brunch for about 100 people. Although we didn’t have access to a full kitchen, cooking the scrambled eggs wasn’t difficult. One of us cracked the eggs while the other two whisked, then cooked 1-1/2 dozen eggs at a time in electric frying pans. (We prepared about 3 eggs per person.) Once cooked, the scrambled eggs were kept in large covered stainless steel bowls until about 25 minutes before the start of the brunch. At that time, we placed the eggs into a warmed chafing dish.

The group we were preparing the brunch for arrived about 20 minutes late (they were coming a distance by chartered bus). A few speeches preceded the meal which meant that brunch didn’t begin until nearly an hour after the eggs had been placed in the chafing dish.

If eggs are held too long over heat (like on a breakfast or brunch buffet table where they are kept in a chafing dish or steam table), “greening” can occur. This is a natural reaction which causes the eggs to turn an unappetizing drab greyish-green colour. We wanted to avoid this so we took a few precautions to try to prevent the phenomenon.

These tips can usually prevent greening in eggs:

  1. Use fresh eggs. Greening will occur more readily in older eggs.
  2. Use stainless steel equipment and utensils.
  3. Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) lemon juice for every 1-1/2 dozen large eggs or 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) citric acid crystals for every dozen eggs.
  4. Cook eggs in small batches no larger than 3 L (3 qts).
  5. Once cooked, avoid holding the eggs over heat for more than 30 minutes.

We were able to follow the first four suggestions above (opting to add lemon juice as per #3 because that’s what I had on hand). We also cooked the eggs until softly scrambled instead of cooking them until they formed very firm curds since we knew the eggs would sit in the chafing dish for a while where they would continue to cook from the heat. We didn’t want them the proteins in the eggs to tighten so firmly from the heat that they squeezed additional moisture from the eggs causing them to weep or exude moisture.

Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate the delay in the start of the meal and the long length of time the eggs would sit in the chafing dish. By the time brunch concluded, the eggs had been in the chafing dish for nearly 2 hours. At that point, some egg had stuck to the pan, although it was not burnt on. (It washed off later with a little soaking and scrubbing. Next time, we’ll spray the chafing dish with cooking spray before adding the eggs.) There was also some minor greening of the eggs that were in contact with the chafing dish. Nothing too serious. No doubt following the tips above helped prevent a full-blown case of “green eggs” and bacon!

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream – something to scream about?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

As much as I love ice cream, it’s not something I tend to scream about.

I scream while riding rollercoasters. (Jump aboard the Millenium Force at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio and you’ll likely agree that full-blown hysteria including top-of-the-lung screaming is perfectly acceptable behaviour before, during and after the ride! Apparently, riding the Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland (just north of Toronto) also produces high-pitched screeching. I haven’t yet experienced this particular fear-inducing ride.)

Snakes and creepy-looking bugs also make me scream. (Did you hear about the woman in Montreal who found a python under her bed earlier this week? I had to stifle a scream just hearing the terrifying tale on the radio.)

I scream – inwardly, mind you, so as not to alarm my co-workers – when I inadvertently delete something or forget to save something on my computer and there’s no “undo” feature available to retrieve what I’ve lost.

I’d probably scream if I won the lottery. (Guess I’d have to buy lottery tickets for that to be a possibility!

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream

But let’s talk ice cream, which according to that old familiar rhyme from childhood (I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream) is supposed to incite cries of joy!

Creamy textured homemade Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream with its sweet, perfumed flavour is definitely worth at least a loud “yahoo” or two.

If you’re the lucky owner of an ice cream maker, you’ll know that the warm days of summer are perfect for enjoying homemade ice cream.

Actually, I take that back. There’s never a bad time to savour a batch of homemade ice cream or another frozen concoction such as gelato or sorbet.

So then! Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream. Strawberries you probably know all about, but are you wondering what lychees are and whether they should be added to the list of things to scream about? Rest assured they are in no way related to leeches, although lychee is pronounced ‘LEEchee’. It can be spelled ‘litchi’.

A lychee is a small fruit with a rough, reddish shell. The flesh is creamy white, juicy and sweet, and it surrounds a seed or pit. To eat lychees, you peel them and remove the seed. Eat them as is or add them to salads or desserts.

I tend to purchase canned lychees as they’re already peeled and seeded. And, I am lazy.

This recipe calls for superfine sugar. This is a quick dissolving sugar also known as berry sugar, fruit sugar, castor sugar or instant dissolving sugar. If you wish, you can make superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 15 seconds.

I have a dual canister Cuisinart yogurt-ice cream-sorbet maker. It makes one or two quarts (1 or 2 L) of ice cream. This Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream recipe makes 8 cups (2 L) of ice cream. Once the churning/freezing cycle was completed (this took about 15 minutes in my machine), the canisters were full – to the brim – with ice cream.

If your machine has a single 4 cup (1 L) canister, halve the ingredients.

Freeze homemade ice cream in a tightly-sealed container for up to a couple weeks.

Be sure to freeze homemade ice cream with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn and an ‘off’ flavour. Label the container so it’s contents don’t become mystery food.

Although this ice cream tastes great even before “ripening” in the freezer for a few hours, some time in the freezer will further improve the flavour. It’s best to enjoy homemade ice cream within a couple weeks. (Now there’s a problem. Not!)

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream
Makes 8 cups (2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) strawberries
3/4 cup (180 mL) superfine sugar
1 can (530 mL/20 ounces) canned lychees in syrup (about 2 cups)
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (36% butterfat)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
6 egg yolks

Hull and roughly chop strawberries; place in a bowl along with any juices. Stir in 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain and finely chop lychees, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the syrup. Set lychees and syrup aside.

Place cream, milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for a few minutes until sugar dissolves and mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl or 8 cup (2 L) measuring cup. Whisk in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the hot milk mixture until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk mixture, then return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not allow this custard mixture to boil. (To test if the mixture coats the back of a spoon, place a spoon in the mixture. Remove and run your finger through the middle of the custard. If a clear path is left and the custard left on the spoon does not run, the mixture is ready.) Do not allow the custard mixture to boil.

Strain through a fine sieve and set custard aside to cool, stirring occasionally. (If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight.)

Gently stir strawberries and strawberry juice, lychees, and lychee syrup into custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternately, transfer to a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple hours until frozen and creamy.)

Pack ice cream into container(s). Cover tightly, label and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before serving.

Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Iced – 180 very cool concoctions by Jane Lawson, Thunder Bay Press, 2006

Following food trends requires a leader

Want to be in the know about current and emerging food trends and flavours such as wine bars, divorce cakes (what?!?), and crispy poached eggs?

It’s easy to be on top of all things foodie when someone else does the work tracking trends and following fads. Chef and cookbook author Dana McCauley writes the quarterly Topline Trends Newsletter, a summation of trends and fads in the food world. You can read the newsletter on her website – www.danamccauley.com – and sign up there to have it emailed to you so you don’t miss an issue.

Dana also writes an enlightening and entertaining food blog which you’ll find at homemakers.com.

Another winning Brownie recipe

Fudge-Iced Brownies

This Fudge-Iced Brownie recipe is courtesy of Heather Albrecht who works for the Kitchener Rangers hockey club. The recipe originated with Mary Moore, former food columnist for the Kitchener Record (now known as the Waterloo Region Record).

Heather says (and I’d concur) that this recipe is a winner – delicious and very easy to make. The brownies mix up in one bowl with no melting of chocolate required, and they taste very rich and fudgey. One bite and you’ll know why they’re called Fudge-Iced Brownies. Consider them a special treat!

Heather starts checking the brownies for doneness after about 20 minutes of baking because she doesn’t want them to dry out. She finds that the baking time varies with the outdoor temperature and humidity.

I baked these brownies in a Pyrex baking pan so I found the brownies took 40 minutes to bake to my liking. (Brownies will cook faster in a metal baking pan than in a glass pan.) They turned out very fudgey and moist.

Determining when brownies are done can be a challenge. Of course if they are overbaked, you run the risk of drying them out. But if really underbaked, they will be soft, sticky (almost gooey), and they won’t hold their shape well.

Often you can tell visually how close to done brownies are because the centre section of brownies in the pan may look wet and glossy. Start testing for doneness early as oven temperatures vary, and brownies can go from perfectly baked to overbaked in mere minutes. It’s best to underbake brownies rather than the opposite.

The easiest ways to test if brownies are done are the touch and toothpick tests. Gently touching the surface of the brownies with your fingertip will give you an indication of how set the brownies are. If the brownies feel set, insert a toothpick or cake tester into the centre. If the toothpick comes out wet, with batter clinging to it, the brownies are not ready. If the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it, the brownies are done. For optimal flavour and texture, let them cool completely before icing and indulging!

Fudge-Iced Brownies
(Makes a 9 x 13-inch/3 L baking pan)

Brownies:
2 cups (500 mL) brown sugar
1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
4 eggs
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla

Icing:
½ cup (125 mL) butter
5 tablespoons (75 mL) cocoa
1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) salt
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
Hot water

To make Brownies: Combine brown sugar, butter, flour, walnuts (if using), cocoa, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. With electric mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly into a buttered 9 x 13 (3 L) baking pan. Bake at 300F (150C) until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

To make Icing: Melt butter in a saucepan; stir in cocoa, salt and vanilla. Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar. (Mixture will be thick.) Add small amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons/5 to 10 mL) of hot water at a time and beat with a whisk until mixture is just thin enough to spread over brownies.

(For more brownie recipes, visit Brownie Lover’s Diary.)

Personal pan Pizza Frittata – fast and delish!

As a follow up to my April 28th post with the recipe for Pizza Frittata, here’s a picture of a quick-version single-serving Pizza Frittata.

Pizza Frittata for one!
Pizza Frittata for one!

I made this frittata in an 8-inch (20 cm) frying pan with 2 eggs and a couple shakes of seasoning blend. The recipe for the herbed seasoning blend is also in that post. Instead of making your own seasoning blend (which is as complicated as making a trip to a grocery store or bulk food store that sells dried herbs in bulk!), you can use Italian Seasoning to add a pizza-y flavour.

I topped the frittata with pepperoni and cheese, omitting the green pepper, onion and mushrooms called for in the original recipe. You can use whatever pizza toppings you like to personalize your Pizza Frittata.

The frittata will slide right out of the pan onto a plate. It’s best eaten with a fork as it will be hot. If you let it cool a little, then cut it into wedges, it could be served as an appetizer, sans cutlery!

This is such a simple and great-tasting recipe. No flash in the pan, but certainly ready in a flash!

When making presentations about eggs to high school Family Studies classes, I often ask a couple students to help me make a few 6 or 8-egg versions of Pizza Frittata so everyone can have a taste. The recipe always goes over well.