Monday, February 28, 2011

Almond Butter and Cherry Cookies

Today,we all seem to know someone who has some form of food allergy. Unfortunately one of the most notorious being, a peanut allergy. Gone are the days, when almost everyone was able to enjoy the classic peanut butter cookie. So with this in mind, I decided why not take a standard peanut butter cookie recipe, and concoct a special one for all my friends out there who have had to deprive themselves of this little pleasure in life.  I figured why not substitute almond butter for peanut butter, and add loads of toasted almond slices for that much needed crunchy bite. To make the cookies even more delightful, I added some dried cherries which we all know marry so well with the flavour of almonds. They might not be the peanut butter cookie we've all grown to love, but I do hope that this recipe will satisfy that craving for all of you out there with this particular food allergy. For the rest of us, I hope the recipe will make a nice addition to our present collection. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries coarsely chopped

Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes in 350º F oven until golden.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extract.  Combine the almond butter into the egg butter mixture. In a separate bowl, blend in the flour (reserving 1-2 tablespoons to coat the chopped cherry pieces), baking soda, and salt. With a wooden spoon incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Blend in the almonds and coated cherry pieces. Measure a spoonful of dough and form into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and gently flatten the ball of dough with your hands or fork to about 1/4" disk. Sprinkle each cookie with demerara sugar. Place the cookie dough 1 inch apart and bake in a pre-heated 375ºF oven for 8-10 minutes. Makes 48 cookies

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Paprika Beef Stroganoff

My husband has never been one for creamy sauces where heavy dairy products are introduced into the mix. Whenever I would suggest anything remotely connected to a white creamy sauce, it was like presenting a vampire with a necklace of garlic.....just about the same reaction. The other night I decided to tread on thin ice, and make beef stroganoff  where the star ingredient is not only paprika, but one of the dreaded  ingredients "sour cream". To soften the blow, I decided to serve it with plain healthy riced potatoes. By not adding butter or cream to the potatoes, and using a potato ricer instead of mashing them produced a fluffy light side dish.....the perfect balance to compliment the thick and creamy sauce. So you can imagine my amazement that this dish, which I had left dormant for so long, was a big hit with him. So here is my take on this classic dish which was so popular back in the 1980's, but vanquished from my dining table until it made its comeback recently and is here to stay.

1 1/2 lb. sirloin beef cut into roughly 1" cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 tablespoons butter
1onion cut into diced pieces
1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 pint of button mushrooms sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
salt and pepper
2/3 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup or more sour cream (to taste)

In a dutch oven pan, heat the oil and butter until very hot. Drop in a few pieces of beef, season with some salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides. a few pieces at a time. Cooking only a few pieces at a time will allow the meat to brown better. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside. Continue browning the meat until it is all done. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and scrape all the meat flavours from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the dutch oven pan and stir. Toss in the mushrooms and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.Pour in the wine and allow to reduce. Stir in the paprika. Toss in the thyme sprigs and and the beef broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover and simmer. Braise for 40-60 minutes to the meat to tenderize. The sauce will reduce and thicken. Just before serving add the sour cream and serve with potatoes  or noodles. Serves 4


"Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award"

I would like to send out a huge thank you to my blogger friend  from Malaysia, Ami for awarding me the "Sisterhood of World Bloggers " award. I invite you to check out her wonderful blog, Ami's Vegetarian Delicacies It's packed with flavourful recipes from Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine. The flavours of the world right at your doorstep is just a click away at,

CSN Giveaway Contest Winner!!!

Congratulations go out to a fellow Food Network community friend, Ava DJ, who was selected by services as the winner of the $45 CSN giveaway contest. Thanks to all who participated this time around, taking the time to leave comments on my posts or joining as new followers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

CSN $45 Giveaway Contest

I want to thank all my blog readers by holding $45 gift certificate giveaway contest from CSN Stores, which has over 200 online stores where you can find anything you need whether it be swingsets, fitness equipment, or even cute cookware!’  All you have to do is drop me a line or sign up as a new follower to be eligible!  Please remember to also leave your email address so that you can be contacted should you win. The  winner will be announced  Saturday, February the 26th.Good luck to everyone!

(Open to all Canadian and United States residents)

"Recipe to Riches" Update

Although I had more than a few misgivings about participating in the Recipe to Riches Food Network competition, I did finally throw my hat in the ring, literally at the last minute. Although I didn't quite make it to Toronto with my recipe, I did make it to the judge's table, and had the privilege of meeting one of my favourite television chef celebrities, Laura Calder. That in itself was quite the reward. My other consolation was that at least my recipe warranted some debate over its marketability. The idea of the sour cherry filling seemed well received as were the use of  "healthier " ingredients such as dark chocolate (filling) and canola oil versus butter (cake batter). Unfortunately, one of the judges stood firm on the notion that the average consumer might find the dark Dutch cocoa flavour too intense and the cake not sweet enough. 
In spite of endless waiting period involved in the process and the final outcome, I can't say I regretted the experience. I got to meet some lovely people, had a few laughs, and experienced first hand that not all television reality shows will make you self destruct. The judges were constructive in their criticism, and the staff so supportive. Above all, I was touched by the compassion and concern shown by the Food Network television crew upon the realization that the golden ring was not to be attained. So I guess there can be some dignity in reality television after all. 
Most of all I would like to thank all my blogger friends for your support and encouragement in pursuing this challenge. I truly came out richer having gone through this experience. 


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Garam Masala Tofu with Chick Peas

Tomato paste is not only reserved for our much loved Italian dishes. Combining it in a garam masala recipe will give the dish depth, and a beautiful rich colour. For this take on the poplular tikka masala chicken dish, I went vegetarian and made it with tofu. Adding chick peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini brought it all together, making for a one pot meal with a thick rich sauce. This is sure to please even the non vegetarians in the family.

For those not familiar with fenugreek, an herb used in most curry dishes, it can be found in dried leaf form or seeds. I came across a powdered type which I used for the recipe below. Similar to red clover, fenugreek has apparently been used down the ages to increase milk supply in lactating mothers.  It is also purported to have other numerous health benefits; anywhere from breast enhancement, helping with the common cold, reducing cholesterol and sugar levels to alleviating arthritic joint pains.  Commonly used in Chinese medicine, it is also supposedly beneficial  for the health of your kidneys.

10 ounces firm tofu
1 small onion coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
11/2 teaspoon fenugreek
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt and pepper
1 large carrot peeled and sliced 
2 small sweet potatoes cut into 1/2" thick pieces
2 cups cooked and drained chick peas
3/4 cup water
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 zucchini sliced


Heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes
Stir in all the spices. Cook a minute to let the flavours infuse
Toss in the tofu and stir to coat with the spices
Stir in the sweet potatoes and carrots

Pour in the chick peas, water.and tomato paste

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Recipe to Riches"........a Chance to Win $25,000 and appear on Television!!!!

I received this wonderful offer from Erin Lau of the Food Network Canada Television channel, and had to share this once in a lifetime opportunity! For all of you wanna be television stars out there, here is your chance to fulfill your dream, and win some money in the process!  So register soon  for your chance to win.
Below is an excerpt of the e mail I received:

"My name is Erin Lau and I am the Outreach Coordinator for the national food show Recipe to Riches. It's a new Canadian food series that will air on Food Network Canada and Global Television this fall. I'm writing because I'm wondering if you and the readers of Anna's Table would be interested in participating in our show--your chocolate cherry cake looked so divine! We will be in Montreal for an open casting call on Saturday, February 19 at the Hyatt Regency.

Below is a little bit more information about our show. I highly encourage you to pre-register.

Recipe to Riches is looking for Canadians with great recipes and stories. The show will be hosted by Ottawa native, Jesse Palmer, former star of The Bachelor and football analyst for ESPN/ABC in the U.S. and TSN in Canada. Open casting calls will take place in four cities across Canada, and Canadians have the option of entering their recipe in one of seven categories: appetizers, sweet and savoury snacks, cakes, sweet pies, savoury pies, entrees, and frozen treats.

The recipes will be judged on presentation, taste, originality and the story behind the dish.

Each category will have a winner who will receive a $25,000 cash prize and the chance to have their recipe developed into a President’s Choice® branded product available in select Loblaw grocery stores across the country. The finalists of the seven categories will then have the chance at the grand prize of $250,000. This is the largest cash prize in Canadian reality television history!

Our team is looking for amazing Montreal dishes to add to our search for Canada's best recipe. We will be at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday, February 19.
To register for your audition, please visit
Highlights of our Halifax and Vancouver open call can be found on our Facebook page at"

Pasta with Baby Arugula and Italian Sausage

If you're anything like me, you probably have a small collection of odds and ends of pasta sitting in your pantry. Unless you're cooking for a large family or guests, it's rare that you would be using the full package. A fun way to use up small portions of pasta is to combine different shapes for one delicious meal. For this recipe I used up my short ridged pasta, rigatoni and small penne, which best soak up the tomato sauce. The rigatoni takes longer to cook, so I gave it a head start by cooking it about 4-5 minutes before adding the more delicate small penne. Adding some Italian sausage and baby arugula gives you a complete easy meal in under thirty minutes.

4-6 cups cooked pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
1/2  chopped onion
1/2 small carrot chopped
1/2 celery stock chopped
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups canned tomatoes
2 Italian sausages (casing removed)
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups baby arugula

In a skillet heat the oil and saute the onions for about 3-4 minutes.Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Continue cooking for and additional 2-3 minutes. Brown the small pieces of the sausages with the vegetables.

  Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking for a minute or so. Pour in the red wine and allow to reduce before adding the tomatoes.

Pour in the tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

 Toss in the cooked pasta and the arugula. The arugula will only  take a minute to wilt and it is ready to serve.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin oil

Monday, February 14, 2011

Orange Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Knowing how much my husband enjoyed my almond ricotta cake I decided to up the ante for Valentine's, and make it just a bit more special. I reduced the ingredients to make it just for two, and added chocolate, the essential ingredient of the day. The bottom layer has dark Dutch cocoa, orange zest and is infused with orange liqueur. In the middle layer I added Belgium white chocolate, and once again the orange zest and liqueur. Of course it wouldn't be Valentine's without a touch of red so I used a red currant jelly glaze for colour.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake

Love is all around!!! What better way to celebrate St.Valentine's day than with a deep dark chocolate cake recipe, with a luscious chocolate and cherry Kirsch filling oozing out with every bite.

Serving suggestion:  A dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of the chocolate cherry filling

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup water

Chocolate Cherry Filling:
19 ounce jar red sour cherries pitted and its juice
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1-2 tablespoon Kirsch liqueur
125 grams dark Belgium chocolate (1 cup chocolate disks or pieces)

Filling: Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. In a small saucepan add the cornstarch and whisk in the cherry juice. Cook on medium/low heat, whisking to prevent lumps and the juice from sticking as it thickens. Remove from the heat and with a wooden spoon stir in the chocolate and Kirsch liqueur. Fold in the cherries. Set aside.

CAKE: In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, Dutch dark cocoa, baking powder,baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl beat two eggs and whisk in the sugar, oil, water and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour/cocoa mixture and mix to combine. The batter will be somewhat liquidy.  Pour the batter into prepared muffin tins (makes 18 regular) or 6 mini bundt pans, half way. Drop a large spoonful of the chocolate cherry mixture on the center of the batter. Spoon on more batter on top of the cherry filling (a heaping tablespoon or two). Bake in a pre-heated 350º F oven for 20 minutes.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Cod, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Potato with Crispy PankoTopping

I can't say that I ever associated fish with comfort food, but using my mom's timeless recipe for cod and potatoes as the basis for this dish might definitely put a new perspective on the whole idea. 

1 lb fresh cod cut into 4" pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
4 Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick rounds)
1/2 Mayan onion, (sweet onion)cut into slices
1 zucchini sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 garlic clove sliced
 salt and pepper

Breadcrumb Topping:
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a skillet or oven proof casserole, add 1/2 cup water and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin oil. Layer the sliced potatoes on bottom. Spread the onions, zucchini, tomatoes and garlic slices on top. Season with salt and pepper.  Place the fish on the vegetable and potato layers. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on the fish. Drizzle with some extra virgin oil. Cover and bake in a 375 F oven  for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and continue cooking an additional 10 minutes until the dish is cooked and the breadcrumb topping is crisp golden brown. Please note that the total baking time depending on the thickness of  the dish.


Monday, February 7, 2011

What a great way to begin the week, finding out that the photo submitted to the Community site of the Food Network Canada garnered  Pic of the Week, thanks Val!

(Excerpt from Food Network Community blog site:)

Pic of the Week: Chocolate Banana Cake

I'm actually pretty upset with this photo because I never got an invitation to try a piece of Chocolate Banana Cake. Are you feeling the same way? decided to alter her Banana Cake with Chantilly Frosting recipe by adding Dutch dark cocoa and white Belgian chocolate bits. That is one positive change (I'm a chocolate gal all the way!) Anna got Inspired by Valentine's Day - which is just over a week away - to make something sweet and chocolaty. I hope others will be motivated to do the same. I know I'll be in a baking frenzy next week, how about you?"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cake

 Inspired by Valentine's Day, I added Dutch dark cocoa to myBanana CakewithChantillyFrosting,  recipe. Thinking it would be fun to see little bits of white poking out of the cake, I added some white Belgian chocolate pieces into the batter. For the topping melted white chocolate was used not only for the flavour, but to correct my initial "faux pas" with the red sprinkles. This was my futile attempt to add colour to the final presentation. What in heaven's name was I thinking?   Don't you agree that sometimes we should leave well enough alone?

after the makeover
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dark Dutch cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup melted butter1/2 cup buttermilk 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 Belgian white chocolate cut into small pieces

In a large bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the bananas, sugar, butter and the buttermilk (adding about a teaspoon of white vinegar to milk is a good substitute). Beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla and the remainder of the buttermilk and beat for 1 minute. Fold in the white chocolate pieces. Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch pan . Bake in a pre-heated 350º F oven for 30-40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or knife is inserted in the center comes out clean.

It's always so nice to read your comments and connect with you. I would love to know your thoughts on the recipe.
 For those interested  you're invited to view other delightful recipes, submitted by various bloggers for Valentine's  at