Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Candied Yams

Photo by Jeremy93, flickr
Perfect for that holiday dinner, candied yams are a sweet-savoury vegetable dish to be served along side a substantial meat, like turkey or roast beef. There are as many recipes for candied yams as there are families that make and eat them, but this recipe has been a huge hit at my house for family and friends alike!

You can use fresh yams or yellow sweet potatoes... but to make it easy, you can use canned yams if they are available in your area. If using fresh veg, you must prepare them the day before and refrigerate, then finish preparation about a half hour before serving.

3 large yellow sweet potatoes or yams
1/3 to 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 bag white mini marshmallows

Day before (if using fresh veg):
Wash sweet potatoes, put in large pot and cover with salted water. Boil until tender (30 to 45 minutes)
Peel sweet potatoes under cold running water
Cut into chunks about 1" x 2" (2.5 cm by 5 cm)
Put in covered dish and refrigerate

Day of serving:
Preheat oven to 325F (160C)
Pour off any liquid from sweet potatoes or canned yams
Butter the bottom and sides of a covered casserole dish
Put sweet potatoes into dish and spread out flat
Sprinkle with sugar
Sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves
Cover top with marshmallows, spread out

Put lid on casserole and put in oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until yams/sweet potatoes are heated through (you can do this step in the microwave).
Remove cover from casserole and bake in oven until marshmallows begin to melt and brown on the top.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spicy Bean Salad

This is a delicious, easy-to-prepare salad that is just perfect for BBQs or braais…or any day you need a break in the kitchen. My mother-in-law makes this, and it is a perennial favourite with my husband. You can manage the degree of spiciness by regulating the amount of chilli you put in it…adding the seeds makes it hotter.

This is soooo good served with potato salad and grilled chicken! I don’t even like pork and beans (baked beans) and I love this!

1   400 to 410 gram tin baked beans in tomato sauce, chilled
    (Americans: 14 to 16 ounce can of pork and beans—discard the chunk of salt pork)
1   small onion, chopped fine
1   medium tomato, cut into very small pieces
1   small green chilli (bullet or Serrano), seeded and minced fine (less if you want it milder)
1   tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro (coriander, dhania)

Combine first five ingredients and mix well. Put in fridge to chill for at least one hour. Sprinkle with cilantro just before serving.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Piccata: Chicken or Veal

This is a quick-to-cook dish, so I recommend having your salad, starch and vegetable ready to go before you put this on the stove. Traditionally served over pasta, it is equally delicious with potatoes and goes well with green veggies like asparagus or fresh peas.

Photo by rkazda, flickr
4 to 8 slices of boneless veal
4 to 8 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup flour
½ cup butter (not margarine)
½ cup minced onion (optional)
½ cup thinly sliced button mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon small capers, drained
½ cup Marsala (wine)
½ cup beef broth (for veal) or chicken broth plus 2 tsp lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Cover meat with plastic wrap and pound with meat mallet until tender and no more than ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Remove plastic wrap. Dredge meat in flour until well coated.

Melt butter in skillet. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onion softens, then add garlic and cook until garlic is soft. Add meat and brown on one side, the turn and brown on the other, Add capers and Marsala, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook slowly until most of the wine is evaporated and meat is done through. Remove meat to a warm plate and pour sauce from pan over it. Serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4 people.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Berry Thing

Fresh berries are probably the most delicious thing in the world! One of the favourite desserts here at my house is The Berry Thing. Tasty, versatile, easy, useful for more than just a dessert, and it can even be made for diabetics!

Try it out!

Photo by Stacy Spensley, flickr
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh red raspberries
1 cup blackberries or blueberries (or 1/2 cup of each)
1/2 cup sugar or Splenda (sucralose)

Chill berries. Wash berries and pick through, discarding blemished berries. Hull and cut strawberries into pieces no larger than the raspberries. Combine all berries into a bowl, cover with sugar, and lightly mash with a potato masher to bruise the fruit and release juices. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or more.

To serve
1) Scoop into bowls and top with whipped cream or vanilla yoghurt; garnish with mint sprig
2) Spoon onto sliced pound cake or madiera cake, top with whipped cream or vanilla yoghurt; garnish
3) Spoon onto waffles or pancakes, top and garnish
4) Roll into crepes, top with sour cream and sprinkle with confectioner's (icing) sugar
5) Spoon onto hot cereal (porridge)
6) Spoon over ice cream
7) Serve along side a chocolate frosted fudge cake
8) Spoon over scones or shortcake sponges, top with whipped cream

What kind of things can you think of to do with the Berry Thing?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Peach Cobbler (using canned peaches)

Photo by Shaw_Girl, flickr
This is a very old-fashioned dessert, something I remember my grandmothers making. It works with fresh, canned or frozen fruit and tastes best served hot with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream over it. One of my favourite desserts as a kid, and when I introduced my husband to it, his eyes just lit up!

2 small (410g) cans sliced peaches in light syrup
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
  OR ½ cup fructose
 juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups self-rising flour
⅓ cup fructose
 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ¼ cups buttermilk or sour milk
⅓ cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)

Heat oven to 400°F (200°C)

Drain peaches, and reserve syrup. Put peaches in a lightly buttered 1-quart baking dish.

Put 1 cup of syrup into a small saucepan; add the sugars/fructose, lemon juice, spices, salt, butter, and cornstarch. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; simmer, stirring, until thickened and clear, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the hot mixture over the peaches. Place in the oven while preparing topping.

Sift together dry ingredients. Mix together until all is incorporated but do not knead.
This makes a VERY soft dough, so handle it gently.

Drop by spoonfuls onto the hot peach filling. Return to the oven and bake until topping is browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Other fruits in similar quantities can be substituted, including apples, berries or pears.

Oatmeal Cookies with Variations

Photo by adriennethecook, flickr
Who doesn’t like moist, chewy oatmeal cookies? And you can add some chocolate chips or raisins or nuts to make your own signature cookie. Try this recipe…a favourite in my family for many years…and see what you think! (Parentheses are for South African readers)

1 ½ cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 tsp salt
1 cup softened (not melted) butter (not margarine)
¾ cup granulated (caster) sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
½ tsp water
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups rolled uncooked oats (Jungle oats)

Heat oven to 375F (190C). Grease two cookie sheets (baking trays).

Sift together flour, soda, salt. In a separate bowl, blend together butter, sugars, vanilla, and water, then add beaten eggs. Slowly add flour mixture, beat together well.

Now stir in oats and whatever additional ingredients you may wish to use (put no more than 2 cups of additional ingredients in).

Drop half-teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet such that cookie dough balls do not touch each other. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, remove immediately from cookie sheet with a spatula and place on rack to cool.

Makes 6 to 8 dozen

1) 2 cups chocolate chips
2) ⅔ cup white chocolate chips, ⅔ cup milk chocolate chips, ⅔ cup semi-sweet (dark) chocolate chips
    (my personal favourite)
3) 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped walnuts
4) 2 cups dark raisins
5) 1 cup raisins, 1 cup dried cranberries
6) 1 cup white chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (another fave)
7) 1 cup of M&Ms or Smarties
8) Reduce egg by 1 and add ⅔ cup cinnamon-infused applesauce
9) 2 cups chopped soft dried fruits like cherries, apricots, apple slices

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stewed Fruit

My husband loves stewed fruit. After several experiments I came up with this recipe, which he just loves. Because he is diabetic, I use fructose for sweetening, but you can use sugar.

photo by Mandee84, flickr
2 cups dried fruit of your choice, cut into large pieces
1 sliced lemon
1 cup sugar
  OR ⅔ cup fructose
4 cups water
3 whole star anise pods
6 whole cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Mix sugar (or fructose) and water in large pan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar/fructose completely dissolves.

Add spices and all “tough” fruits (pears, peaches, mango, apricots, dark raisins, etc), reserving the softer fruits (prunes, figs, etc.) for later addition.

Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add the soft fruits and simmer another 20 minutes or until the “tough” fruits can be easily pierced with a fork.

Remove lemon slices, anise pods and whole cloves and discard, set fruit aside to cool.

Serve warm or cold with thick cream or vanilla yoghurt.


Applesauce Fresh, homemade applesauce…and even a low-GI version for diabetics!

I have always loved apples and applesauce, especially my grandmother’s homemade sauce. This approximates hers (she did not use cinnamon but this recipe reminds me of apple pie with cinnamon in it) very favourably.

What do you do with applesauce? It is a great accompaniment for pork dishes, delicious on pancakes, or as a dessert or snack, especially with ice cream or vanilla yoghurt. I find it tasty mixed into a spice cake or muffin batter (sprinkle some rolled oats on top of the muffins before they go into the oven). It is also delicious as a topping on hot cereals. Applesauce will keep in the freezer for up to a year, several weeks in the fridge.
Oh…and babies seem to love it!!

photo by Mellowyk, flickr
3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and
   quartered Granny Smith apples
4 to 6 strips of lemon peel
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 inches of cinnamon stick
½ cup fructose
  or ⅔ cup white sugar
1 cup of water
¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, with lid “cocked” for steam escape, for 30-45 minutes.

 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Put through potato ricer or mash with potato masher.

May be eaten hot or cold.

Using fructose reduces the GI rating of the dish. Sugar has a GI of 68, Fructose is 23. Suitable for diabetics in reasonable quantities.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tender, flaky, homemade biscuits

This is a delicious recipe and easy to make. You can cut the recipe in half if you have a small family because these have no preservatives and therefore don't keep longer than 24 hours...but don't be surprised if there are no leftovers!!

Photo by dineanddish, flickr
2 cups self-rising flour
1 ½ tsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ¼ cups buttermilk*
⅓ cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)

Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
Sift together dry ingredients.
Add 1 cup buttermilk (reserve ¼ cup) and stir, then slowly stir in oil.
Mix together until all is incorporated but do not knead.
This makes a VERY soft dough, so handle it gently.

On a floured board, pat or roll out to 1" thick.
Cut 2” or 3” diameter rounds and place on greased cookie sheet.
Brush tops with reserved buttermilk.
 Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

Serve hot with butter (hint: break them open with your fingers or a fork, don’t cut them open with a knife. They are very tender and flaky inside.)

*If you don’t have buttermilk, sour milk works fine: add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk, allow to stand for 10 minutes for the milk to curdle, stir and use.



To make scones, use the recipe and method above but add up to ½ cup additional sugar to the dry ingredients (sweetness depends on your taste) and cut at least 4” diameter rounds.

Use the scones, split, for strawberry shortcake bases, or serve them warm and buttered with strawberry jam and whipped cream for a real English-style tea.