Sunday, March 29, 2015

Appetizers and Artichoke Recipes

In 1966, for my Sweet Sixteen birthday party, Ma careful wrapped Italian cold cuts around dozens of hard Italian bread sticks.
That was the standard party snack for our family.
Unfortunately, it didn't go over too well with my German, Irish and Polish classmates.

Well, that was then.
Now everyone's palates and expectations for appetizers have broadened.
These are a few favourite appetizers.
Along with a few favourite artichoke recipes.

     - Broad Beans and Garlic, Maltese Style

     - Butter Beans with Garlic, Maltese Style

     - Deep fried Ravioli Appetizers, Maltese Style


     - Stuffed Artichokes, Maltese Style

     - Stuffed Artichokes, Maltese Style

     - Stuffed Artichokes, Maltese Style

     - Stuffed Artichokes l Vegetable Stuffing Recipe

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Celebrate St. Patrick! by Margaret Ullrich - Irish Coffee Recipe and Irish Fix Recipe

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Whatever your religious background,
Spring is returning.
And that in itself is a reason to celebrate!

I got a request for an Irish Coffee recipe.
Irish coffee actually has a bit of history. 
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Stanton Delaplane was served one during a stop at Ireland’s Shannon Airport bar in 1952.

Bartender Joe Sheridan, from the port city of Foynes, Ireland, had created the coffee drink during World War II to greet weary Yankee travellers arriving by seaplane in the wee hours of the morning. 
Irish people drank whiskey in tea, but Sheridan knew the Americans preferred coffee.
A smart businessman, Sheridan knew the customer was always right.

When Delaplane returned to San Francisco, he passed the recipe on to barman Jack Koeppler at the Buena Vista Cafe.
The rest of America soon learned of this drink.
And the rest, as they say, is history.

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:
alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.

Use high-quality, freshly ground and brewed beans.
Always whip your heavy cream without sugar right before serving.

Sheridan’s recipe went as follows: 
Cream – rich as an Irish brogue
Coffee – strong as a friendly hand
Sugar – sweet as the tongue of a rogue
Irish whiskey – smooth as the wit of the land

Here’s a recipe, with some measurements, for two:

                        Irish Coffee

Place in a small saucepan
12 ounces brewed coffee
4 teaspoons sugar
Stirring occasionally, set over low heat until the mixture is hot but not boiling.

Pour 6 ounces hot coffee into each of two 8-ounce heatproof glasses or mugs.
Add to each serving
1 1⁄2 ounces Irish whiskey
Top with a collar of whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon.
Garnish with mint leaves (optional)
Enjoy it while piping hot.

Italian coffee: Substitute amaretto for the whiskey.
Jamaican coffee: Substitute dark rum for the whiskey.
Mexican coffee: Substitute Kahlúa for the whiskey.

Not a big fan of coffee?
No problem.
Have an Irish Fix or an Irish Cobbler.

Fixes and Cobblers were once wine-based drinks shaken with ice. 
Now they include spirits and mixers served over crushed or cracked ice. 
A Fix is 8 ounces, and a Cobbler is 12 ounces.

A cobbler is also a very nice fruit dessert.
It's not particularly Irish.
But it could make a good dessert for your St. Patrick's dinner.
And you could serve it with some Irish coffee.

                        Irish Fix

Place in a chilled highball glass
1 teaspoon simple sugar syrup
2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Fill with cracked ice and stir well. 
Garnish with
1 thin lime slice
1 thin orange slice 
Float on top
2 teaspoons Irish Mist (a honey liqueur)

About Friday’s new moon in Pisces…
According to the folks at

This intense week culminates with a total solar eclipse and full Moon on March 20, the same day as the Vernal Equinox. 
Something may be reaching its end, but a bold, beautiful, and brilliant new beginning is well within reach! 

Plant those seeds now, and don't be afraid to put down roots this time.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Simnel Cake / Mother’s Day Cake / Easter Cake

My grandmother lived with us. 
She had worked as a cook for a British family in Malta. 
Mothering Sunday was one of the British customs we continued to observe while I was growing up in New York.

Mothering Sunday may have originally derived from a 16th-century practice of visiting the 'mother church’, the main church in the region, on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. 

Historically, this was also a time when domestic servants were given time off to travel and visit their families.

I'll to thee a Simnel Bring
'Gainst thou go'st a-Mothering
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou'lt give me.
Robert Herrick

Just so you know… 
The 11 balls represent the 11 Apostles, except for Judas.
That’s why this cake can also be served for Easter.


If your Mom likes a bit of a kick, 2 Tablespoons of sherry or her favourite drink (if it goes well with the fruit) may be brushed on the cake before adding the apricot jam.

If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil after an hour of baking.

During the baking seasons of Lent and Advent I pick up a dozen small eggs.
They won’t work exactly for the recipes, but they are just enough when I need to beat an egg for glazing, as in the end of this recipe.

If you have time, you can decorate the cake with crystallized or plain flowers.
Some also wrap a ribbon around the side.
Most don't.

At Easter the middle of the top of the cake can be decorated with small wrapped chocolate eggs, tiny chickies and such.  
The kids love that!

                        Simnel Cake

Grease an 8 inch springform pan
Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
Line the bottom and sides with greased parchment paper.

In a medium bowl mix well together
1 1/2 Cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons allspice

In another medium bowl combine
1/4 Cup flour
1 1/3 Cups golden raisins
1 Cup dried currants
2/3 Cup candied cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
1/4 Cup candied mixed fruit peel, chopped
2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest 

Divide into 3 equal portions
1 pound almond paste
Roll out one portion of the almond paste to form an 8 inch circle. 
Set the remaining portions aside for later.

Preheat oven to 300º F

In a large mixer bowl, beat at medium speed
1 Cup margarine, softened
1 Cup light brown sugar
Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add, one at a time
4 large eggs
Beat well after each addition.
Beat in the flour mixture until just blended. 
Stir in the floured fruit.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.
Place the circle of almond paste on the cake batter in the pan. 
Gently cover the almond paste with the remaining cake batter.
Bake for 2 1/2 hours, or until evenly brown and firm to the touch.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Remove the metal side frame, place cake on large cookie sheet.
Place the cake on a wire rack and cool completely. 
Set oven to broil.

While the cake is cooling
Roll out one portion of the almond paste to form an 8 inch circle.  
Divide the remaining portion into 11 pieces and roll each into a ball.

In a small cup beat
1 egg

After the cake has cooled, brush the top with 
2 Tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
Place the second almond paste circle on top of cake. 
Brush the almond paste on top of cake with beaten egg. 
Arrange the 11 balls around the outside edge on the top of cake. 
Brush the balls with the egg.
Place cake under the broiler for 3 minutes, or until almond paste is golden brown.
Slide the cake onto a serving platter.

Decorate if you wish and serve.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Links for St. Patrick / St. Joseph / Easter / Mother's Day recipes

The holidays are the times for traditional recipes.
And it doesn't hurt to try something new.

Here's a collection of some old favourites.
And, hopefully, something that will become a new favourite.

Happy Holidays!!!

       - Fried choux pastry with sweet ricotta filling 

Carmela Soprano's Cassata
   - Iced Sponge Cake with Ricotta Filling l Palm Sunday Customs

     - Italian Easter Pie with Ricotta and Meat

- Traditional Maltese Easter Sweet with Royal Icing and Almond Filling

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Parker House Rolls

Easter is next month.
That sounds like it’s soooo far away.
But, to be honest, it’ll be here in a matter of just a few days.
It’s time to start planning the big meal.

Folks who own restaurants are smart.
They put a basket of bread on the table so you’ll kill your appetite and won’t want more of the expensive stuff.
Ma wasn’t the only mother to catch onto this little trick.
You can, and should, do the same.
Roasts aren’t cheap.

Welsh cakes and boxties are fine for a brunch.
Monkey bread is great for when the gang is over.
But, to be honest, it’s not for an Easter dinner.
Really, when everyone is in their C & E Sunday best, they don’t want to go all caveman over a hunk of bread.
Easter calls for individual rolls in a linen-lined basket.

Parker house rolls have a rich buttery taste and a sweet soft dough. 
They’re easy to make, yet they look like you went to a whole lot of trouble.
But, to be honest, you didn’t.
You could make them while you’re watching a favourite sit-com.

After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and divide into 2 equal pieces.
Roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface into a 12×6-inch rectangle.
Cut lengthwise into three 2-inch-wide strips.
Cut each crosswise into three 4×2-inch rectangles.
Brush each piece with melted butter and fold into a “W” shape.
Place the folded dough into one muffin tin space.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Lightly brush the tops with melted butter.
Loosely cover with rolls with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours.


The dough works better if you let the muffin tin filled with the buttery balls rest about 6 hours in the fridge before baking.
You can substitute an equal amount of dark brown sugar for a richer molasses flavour. 

If you want to prepare the buns in advance you can pack them (after baking and cooling them) in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 2 months. 
So, you could make them now and they’d be perfect for Easter.
If you make them now, make a few batches so there’ll be plenty for everybody.

To serve them, remove them the night before and leave them on the counter. 
Then before dinner just reheat them in a 325° F oven for 3 minutes.

You can also do this if you have a few buns leftover.

                        Parker House Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Place in a large bowl
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 Cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Place in a small bowl
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
Whisk them together and let stand for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes it should be foamy.
If it’s not, your yeast might be too old.

While the yeast is standing, place in a small pot
1 Cup milk
Heat the milk over medium heat until just warm.

Add the warm milk to the butter / sugar mixture and stir well to blend.
Stir in 
the yeast mixture  
1 large egg
Add gradually
3 1/2 Cups flour
Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the surfaces with oil.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap. 
Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Melt in a small sauce-pan
1/4 cup butter
Lightly brush the insides of a 12 count muffin tin with the melted butter.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 pieces.
On a lightly floured surface roll a piece with your hands into a 9 inch rope.
Cut the rope into 9 pieces and quickly roll the pieces into balls.
Dip the balls into the melted butter and place 3 balls in each of 3 muffin tin spaces.
Lightly brush the top with melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces.
(By the end of this, you’ll have made 36 balls, and placed 3 in each of the 12 muffin spaces.)

Loosely cover the rolls with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours. 
Or you can leave the covered buns on the counter for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F 
Bake the rolls until golden, 25-35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush with extra butter.
Place in a linen-lined basket.

Serve warm with butter.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy International Women's Day!

"Why is it so hard to see black and blue?" 
This is the link to the documentary 
re: Human Trafficking, drug abuse, domestic abuse. 
Salvation Army Major Carin Holmes was part of the panel on these issues.
‪#‎blackandblue‬ ‪#‎whiteandgold‬

Events in Winnipeg:

March 8, 1:00 pm
Portage Place

Self-identified women, girls and theirs allies in Winnipeg will be marching in celebration of the 104th International Women’s Day (IWD).
All genders and ages welcomed, families encouraged!

We will be marching in solidarity with the struggles of all women in Canada, and all over the world. Participants are invited to celebrate the successes, accomplishments, resilience and strength of women in their lives. On IWD, we pay heed to the historical and current consciousness-raising, community-building, and organizing work carried out by caregivers, suffragettes, politicians, reproductive choice advocates, environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, and labour activists, alike. 

We will march in solidarity with the self-identified women and girls whose lives are undervalued, who face political, economic, emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, or physical violence, who cannot get decent work, who live and work in conditions that endanger their lives. 

Raising Our Voices: Celebrating International Women's Day
March 8, Doors open at 6:40 / 7:00 pm
Westminster Church745 Westminster Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G 1A5

Come join us for a special evening to recognize the work and contributions of women around the world. In spite of some progress, many challenges continue – this will be a chance to raise our voices, in song and in verse, about injustices - and to honour the women and men that are making a difference.

A no ticket event, but there will be a suggested donation to support Dr. Mugwege's work at Panzi Foundation DRC

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Irish Cakes / Boxties

About a week ago I posted the recipe for 
Well, time goes by.
Goodbye, St. David… Hello, St. Patrick.
And wouldn’t you know there’s a recipe called Irish Cakes.

Irish Cakes, known as Boxties, were created in the mid-nineteenth century.

At that time Ireland was being hit by the Great Famine, between 1845 and 1852.
The famine was caused by a mildew that attacked potato crops.
The poor potato crop led to the great migration of Irish to North America.
Yes, it’s always about food.

Irish Cakes were seen as peasant food.
Boxty comes from the Irish aran bocht tí (poorhouse bread).

Irish Cakes became so popular that there was a rhyme written in their honour:

Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can’t bake boxty,
Sure you’ll never get a man.

Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
The wee one in the middle,
Is the one for Mary Anne.

Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you don’t eat boxty,
Sure you’ll never get a man.


Add a pinch of pepper, garlic or other spices - whatever you wish.
You can grease the skillet with either butter or oil.

For breakfast you can butter each boxty and serve hot with or without sugar.
You can also serve crisp bacon with them and drizzle maple syrup over the boxty.

Having company?
Try topping them with smoked salmon and crème fraîche for a fun twist on blini.
You can use boxty like a pizza base with tomato and cheese.
Or serve them with wilted spinach and a poached egg.
You can also serve a boxty as a wrap for fajitas. 

Irish Cakes also freeze well.

There are also other variations: boiling the patty like a potato dumpling (sometimes called hurleys) or baking it like a loaf.

If you’d like to make more of a meal, you might also cook

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

                        Irish Cakes

Makes 10 boxties
1 pound potatoes
Quarter half of the peeled potatoes and place them in a medium pot.
Cover with water and add
1 teaspoon salt 
Cook until tender.
Drain all of the water from the potatoes and mash them.
Do not add water or any liquids.

Grate the remaining half of the potatoes into a large bowl.
Toss the grated potatoes with 
1 1/2 Cups flour 
Stir in the mashed potatoes.
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 Cups buttermilk
Add to the potato mixture.
Mix well for 2 to 3 minutes.

Lightly grease a griddle or frying pan and heat over medium heat. 
Pour ladlefuls of the batter into the pan.
Spread them out into circles, forming pancakes about 1/2 inch thick.
When the first side is golden brown, flip them with a spatula to cook the other side.
Remove the cooked boxties and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with butter and honey. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring in Winnipeg by Margaret Ullrich - Tom Collins Recipe

It’s March... time to think about Spring.
Some people see daffodils peaking through.
Some people see daffodils in full bloom.
Some people don’t live in Winnipeg.

In Winnipeg we still have snow on the ground.
No daffodils.

Well, there is a neighbour who has a cluster of daffodils on the snow on her front lawn.
But she also has clusters of roses, tulips, daisies and poinsettias on her lawn and in her back yard.
They’re all plastic.
Well… she likes them.

All in all I can’t complain about this past winter.
Compared to last winter we dodged a bullet.
There isn’t much snow, and there isn’t much of a threat of flooding.

That is, if we don’t get a blizzard in April as we did in 1997.
That blizzard led to the flood of the century for Winnipeg.
It really was referred to as a 100-year flood.
It also badly affect North Dakota and Minnesota.
So, apologies to the folks back east, but no, I can’t complain about the light snowfall we've had during this past winter.

The funny thing about winters on the prairies is that when it is really cold we have brilliant blue skies, and when it is milder we have cloudy skies.
Whenever it’s cloudy I crave lemon.
Especially in winter.
Along with the food recipes that feature lemon, I like drinks with lemon.
Such as Tom Collins.

The recipe was introduced to New York in the 1850s.
It’s a lemonade with a bit of a kick.
If you’re not thrilled by the ingredients in the Tom Collins, no problem.
There are about two dozen other Collins drinks: Juan, Jack, Jake, Michael, Sandy and Denzel, to name a few.
There’s even a Barnabas Collins with Sloe Gin.
It was most likely named after the 1960s show Dark Shadowsstar character.
Not the 2012 Dark Shadows (film) based on the same show.

Each Collins uses a different juice and spirit.
Something for everybody.
Try them all, or stick to an old favourite.

                        Tom Collins

Place in a tall glass
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix well.
2 ounces gin, vodka or rum
Fill glass with
Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry

About Thursday’s full moon in Virgo…
According to the folks at

This hard-working full Moon arrives in the middle of all this week's fun social activities, ensuring that you take care of basics. Get plenty of exercise and sleep, and eat healthy foods to make the most of this time. 

A full Moon is an excellent time to tie up loose ends, so clean out your closets and clear out any negative energy. 

When the Moon is full you'll have an opportunity to see how far you've come.  This full moon provides an opportunity to purify yourself by releasing toxins that have built up over the last six months.  You’ll be feeling pretty special.

Tap into the power of the Pisces Sun to help you access your intuition, which will guide you in making wise decisions. 
You'll want all of your sharp attention to take advantage of the new Moon on March 20 which is also a solar eclipse, and a potentially dramatic new beginning for you!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Welsh Cakes and Saint David's Day

Happy Saint David's Day!
March first is a very special day for Paul and me.
No, we’re not Welsh.
We don’t have any Welsh relatives or friends, as far as I know.

It’s just that, a couple of times, a few years ago, we made some big changes in our lives at this time.

In 1975 - forty years ago today - we moved from our house in Vancouver, British Columbia to an apartment in Winnipeg.
Yes, the cold was a shock.
Yes, we’ve lived in Winnipeg for forty years!!

On March 1, 1978 we moved into our first little house on the prairie.
As we'd lived in two apartments in this city, it was our third home in Winnipeg.
So Paul and I stroll down a few memory lanes on March 1.

Oh, about St. David of Wales…
He appreciated the impact of doing the little things in life.
One of his sayings: A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark. 
He was a saint, not a Rhodes scholar.

He was an aristocrat from West Wales who lived in the sixth century.
In his honour many wear either a daffodil or a leek, or display the flag of St. David, which is a yellow cross on a black background.

St. David taught his monks to lead a simple life, avoiding beer and meat. 
His only drinking water, led to his nickname Dewi Ddyrwr (the water drinker).
Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus means Happy Saint David's Day.

If you’re really eager to do something Welsh try saying the name of a Welsh village:

Llanfair PG (its shorter name) is on the island of Anglesey in Wales, and is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the place with the longest name in Britain.
It means: Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave.
Now you know.

Since Malta was part of the British empire until 1964, there were a lot of British recipes that became quite popular on our islands.
One such recipe is Welsh cakes, a nice simple dessert that goes well with a cup of tea.
Well, that’s how the Brits serve tea.
To do it Maltese style, serve the tea in a glass.


You can use dried currants instead of the raisins.
Or a mixture of the two, if you have some bits leftover from Christmas baking.
Some people leave out the fruit, then split them and sandwich them with jam.

You can  also add a pinch of allspice for a bit of a kick.

About the milk, you want to make a firm dough that is similar to pie pastry.
You can use a glass to cut the dough into 3 inch rounds.
In a rush?  Cut them into squares.
St. David won't complain.

Some folks say each side needs to be caramel brown before turning.
Some like the sides almost burnt.
Some prefer them light brown.
Suit yourself.

You can dust the cakes with sugar while they are still warm. 
Or you can let them cool and then sprinkle them with sugar.

Welsh Cakes also freeze well.

                        Welsh Cakes

Makes 4 dozen
Sift together in a large bowl
4 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3/4 Cup butter or lard (or a combination of half of each)
Mix until it looks like fine bread crumbs.
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Cups raisins 
Place in a small bowl
4 large eggs
Beat lightly and add to the flour mixture. 
Gradually add about
1/2 Cup milk, more or less 
Chill dough 1 to 2 hours.

On a floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch and cut into rounds. 
Lightly grease a griddle or frying pan.
Bake the cakes over low heat until golden brown. 

Serve warm with butter.