Cantaloupe Sorbet

When I was a child my father owned a perfume and cosmetics store in the Arcade Building in Downtown Toronto. I used to have to hand out pamphlets for his store and he would pay me by buying me a Orange Sherbet cone from The Laura Secord shop in the front of the building.

Obviously, I could be bought for cheap!

 I can still see the white interior of that store, the rows of chocolates in glass cases and  the distinct smell of fresh ice cream cones (there was only the regular kind) and the taste of that cold Orange treat.

This recipe is the exact colour of those cones although the flavour is like a ripe cold melon.

In case you were wondering, Sorbets are typically made without milk or cream and Sherbets sometimes have milk or buttermilk in them.

You will need:

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe melon
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet the melon is)
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  • 1 tsp rum (optional)
*you can also add 1/4 cup coconut almond milk to make it more of a sherbet.

Step 1: start with a ripe melon. Remove the seeds and the rind.
Step 2: put fruit, sugar, lime and rum or a bit of white wine in the blender and puree until smooth. Put in fridge for at least one house.
Step 3: put in an ice cream machine and turn for approx 10 minutes. You can just put this into a plastic container and freeze. If you do it this way them stir it every 1/2 hour until frozen.
Step 4: leave in a freezer a few hours until ready to scoop. It’s fresh and delicious.


This is perfect on a hot day when you don’t feel like cooking. You must have really ripe tomatoes and the whole thing takes a few minutes in the blender. Hey, you could add vodka and it would be the perfect Bloody Mary too!
You will need:

The recipe can be pretty flexible in amounts. I made enough for two.

  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 mini English cucumbers (peeled) or maybe 1/2 regular sized English cucumber
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 onion (white or red)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic chopped rough
  • 1-2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper (tomatoes can take lots)
  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh basil
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh chives
  • fresh cilantro
  • 4 shakes Tabasco sauce (hot sauce)
  • 3 shakes Worcestershire sauce

Use fresh ingredients
Step 1: in a blender add chunks of onion, cucumber and  red pepper. Mix well so you do not have big chunks of onion or pepper. 
Step 2: in a saute pan on low heat cook garlic and olive oil for a few minutes to take away some of the harshness that is in the fresh. Before it starts to brown remove and add to the blender.
Step 3: add all remaining ingredients to blender. Blend the mixture well to make sure there are no lumps. Taste it. Adjust salt and pepper, hot sauce and lime. Leave in fridge or on counter for at least 1 hour to improve.
If you like a thinner gazpacho add some tomato juice but I like it as it is. Serve with some nice bread and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

Strawberry Coconut Frozen Yogurt

I remember the first time I ever had frozen yogurt. It was at the first Pickle Barrel Restaurant on Leslie Street in Toronto in the early 80’s. My friend Andrea took me there and I went nuts for the Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. It was so new and different!
Tasting this yogurt brought me instantly back to those days. There are 5 ingredients in this recipe. 
You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh ripe strawberries (you can also use frozen fruit thawed)
  • 1/2 cup -3/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your berries)
  • 2 tbsp kirsch or strawberry vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut yogurt 
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
*ice cream maker

5 ingredients, that’s all!
Step 1: in a small bowl mix strawberries, sugar and kirsch. Let sit for 15 minutes.I have used a coconut palm sugar but, you can use white sugar.
Step 2: pour strawberries, yogurt and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. You can strain but, I leave it as it is. Chill in fridge 1 hour.
Step 3: pour mixture in ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine. Mine takes 15 minutes.
Step 4: once the frozen yogurt is made add to a container and put in freezer for a few hours to solidify.
Serve in a pretty container and top with some fresh berries to complete.

Eggplant Stacks

These Eggplant stacks make a nice appetizer or a main. They can be entirely Vegetarian or you can add some meat to a layer. You can make all the components in advance and then just assemble and bake before serving.
You will need:
  • 1 eggplant
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt/pepper
  • crushed chili flakes
  • breadcrumbs (panko and regular)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 russet potato
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • turkey sausage (optional)
  • shredded mozzarella
  • grated Parmesan
  • fresh basil leaves
  • good balsamic vinegar
Step 1: sprinkle salt all over both sides of sliced eggplant. Leave in a strainer 30-60 minutes to pull out and bitterness. Then rinse and dry well.
Step 2: prepare the standard breading station. Flour with salt, pepper and crushed chili flakes (I just grind flakes in a spice grinder/coffee grinder) 2 eggs whisked. Breadcrumbs with parsley, Italian seasoning, grated Parmesan
Step 3: dip each slice of dried eggplant into flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Press breadcrumbs to get get a nice coating
Step 4: in a saute pan with a half inch of hot oil fry all slices if eggplant until browned. When they come out sprinkle with a bit of salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.You will need to add more oil with each batch.
Step 5: in a small saucepan boil sliced potato for 5 minutes. They will only be partially cooked. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
Step 6: in a small amount of oil fry slices until browned. I sprinkled a bit of crushed chili flakes, salt and a bit of cinnamon on each slice.
Step 7: in a small sauce pan add all ingredients for sauce and cook 5 minutes.
Step 8: fry turkey sausage if you plan on adding it to your layers
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Step 9: on a parchment lined pan add a layer or eggplant, then sauce, then sausages (or not!) 
Step 10: add cheeses and more eggplant, sauce, meat, cheese. I have made mine with 3 slices of eggplant each and I have added the slices of potato to the middle layer. Topped with cheese and baked until hot, melted and bubbling.
I have served mine with a drizzle of my best balsamic vinegar and a bit of olive oil. Topped with a leaf of fresh basil it looks like it was served in a lovely restaurant and believe me it tasted wonderful!

Calzones or Panzarotti

Calzones or Panzarotti are stuffed pizzas. They can be baked or fried. I made mine with whole wheat dough.  You can stuff them with anything you like. 
I made mine with turkey meatballs and some with sausage, onions and bacon.
You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp regular yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic- crushed
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes-chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp grated onion
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 hot Italian sausages
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 onion sliced- cooked until carmelized
  • 2 tbsp bacon -chopped and cooked crispy
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley-chopped
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 clove garlic- crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt/pepper
  • shredded mozzarella
Step 1: add warm water, honey and yeast to bowl. Wait for 10 minutes. Add flour and salt and knead until you get a smooth dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise on counter for 2 hours or leave in fridge up to 24 hours.
Step 2: prepare sauce in a small bowl. Mix all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
Step 3: prepare toppings. I remove casings and chop sausages. Then saute to cook. Once they are starting to brown add honey to brown and coat the hot sausages with sweet honey. Set aside. Fry bacon bits until crispy. Set aside.
Step 4: prepare turkey meatballs. Add all ingredients and form balls. Saute until cooked and set aside. Shred Mozzarella or buy pre-shredded.
Step 5: divide dough into 8 even pieces. Roll out thin (but not too thin!) and fill with either the sausages, bacon and carmelized onions or the turkey meatballs and cheese. Make sure to add some of your sauce to both but, do not over fill. Fold over and crimp edges to seal shut. Use lots of flour to make sure they do not stick to counter. I bake on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Step 6: I brush the tops with garlic infused olive oil.
Bake at 475 degrees until golden. Approx 8-10 minutes.
You can use some of the small rounds to make mini pizzas or all calzones. They are both delicious.

D’Artagnan Bars- Anna Olson

These are a homemade version of a Three Musketeers Bar. They really do taste just like them except with better chocolate!
I recently went to a cooking class where Anna Olson was the teacher and this is another recipe from her new book Back to Baking. The cook book is very good and she is an excellent teacher.
I found out she comes from a Slovak background just like me!
You will need:
  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cups icing sugar- sifted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder- sifted
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter- melted
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate- chopped
  • 2 egg whites- room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 oz milk chocolate, chopped
*candy thermometer
Step 1: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line an 8inch square pan with parchment paper. Make the paper come up the sides to make easy removal.
Step 2: prepare the crust by stirring the cookie crumbs, sifted icing sugar, cocoa and flour.
Step 3: add the melted butter and stir until combined.
Step 4: smooth with a spatula and bake crust for 10 minutes.
Step 5: in a bowl over gently simmering water melt chocolate. Set aside.
Step 6: in a large bowl whip egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks.
Step 7: in a medium sized saucepan add water, then add sugar and corn syrup (I used white and golden corn syrup because that’s what I had in my pantry and it worked out fine) Without stirring let the mixture come to a boil on medium/high heat until it reaches 255 degrees. Brush down sides of pot with a brush dipped in water if necessary. This can take 10 minutes or more.
Step 8: Carefully add the hot syrup to the whipped egg whites while mixing continuously on high for 7 minutes until it cools. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. 
Step 9: quickly pour over the cooled crust and smooth. You can use a lightly greased spatula to spread it. Work fast or it will start to set. Let cool for 1 hour.
Step 10: melt the milk chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water until liquid. (I had a bit of dark chocolate left from some other project so I used that as well for a very thin layer on top of the milk chocolate) The recipe does not call for this. Pour melted milk chocolate over the top spreading evenly.
Chill a few hours then cut with a warm knife. (run under hot water, then dry to make nice clean slices.
Pretty darn hard to resist!

Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Squares-Anna Olson

A few weeks ago I went to a cooking class at my favourite Lepp Farm Market and the teacher was Anna Olson. She has a few shows on the Food Network but, her most recent is called Baking. I love it because it’s a quick paced advanced  baking show. She will pick a subject like puff pastry and do 3 recipes with increasing difficulty to show you several options with her theme ingredient. The baking class was excellent and she made four items and the best part was we ate them all. The classes are entertaining, you can ask questions and we all received a copy of her new book Back to Baking. This recipe is from her new book. The base is like a big oatmeal cookie and the top is salty pretzels and chocolate. YUM.
You will need:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the next post tomorrow)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate 
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter- room temp
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 cup chopped pretzel pieces (lightly crushed)
  • 3/4 cup chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted)

Step 1: gather and measure all your ingredients to make for a quick recipe and so you don’t forget anything. Save the egg whites for tomorrow’s post D’Artagnan Bars, also from the same book.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 inch square pan pan and line with parchment paper making sure there is a lip over the edge to lift out bars when baked.

Step 2: cream butter and sugars with a hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

Step 3: Fold in mixed dry ingredients by hand. Add flour, oats and salt to wet ingredients.

Step 4: put into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake 30 minutes. This is like a oatmeal cookie.
Step 5: put a bowl over simmering water and melt chocolate, butter, corn syrup. Fold in peanuts and pretzels.
Step 6: poke some knife holes in top of cookie base and spread topping. Cool for a few hours before cutting.

Mushroom Ravioli

Big Pete told me I have ruined him! He was traveling in Denver this week and the food in his hotel was so awful that it was difficult to even eat. He told me when he receives the blog emails that get sent out, he gets all crabby if his meal wasn’t as good. I thought that was just the sweetest thing to say!
 Aw…I have ruined him.
These take a bit of work but you can always buy a good quality pasta instead of making your own.Why not give it a try and make some amazing pasta that you could serve with a tomato sauce or I just made a bit of butter and oil with some garlic and Parmesan cheese.
You will need:
  • 1 small pkg mushrooms (white, cremini or mixture)
  • 1 oz dried porcini  (1/3 cup dried)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped very fine
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped fine
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh Parmesan
  • salt/pepper
Buy whatever mushrooms you like. The packages with a variety of fresh mushrooms are the best but, plain old button still make an awesome ravioli.
Step 1: Microwave 1 cup of water for 60 seconds and soak your dried porcini for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Step 2: take your fresh mushrooms and in a food processor (or knife) pulse 6 times to get a rough chop.
Step 3: put onion in food processor and get a fine dice. Crush garlic with a press.
Step 4: chop re hydrated porcini mushrooms and chop fresh parsley.
Step 5: saute onions in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper until all the water has evaporated and the onions are just starting to brown. Add all the mushrooms and cook out water and try to dry out mixture. Lastly, add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.
Step 6: add Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside.
Step 7: in a food processor add all ingredients for dough and process until it forms a dough. Add a bit more flour if necessary. Remove from machine and knead a couple of times to make a ball. Wrap in plastic and leave on counter 30 minutes to rest.
Step 8: Divide dough into 8 pieces. With a pasta roller or rolling pin roll out thin sheets. Put a small amount of filling on one side of sheet and then fold over the other side. Carefully push out air and seal the ravioli. I have a simple ravioli cutter that I bought for $5, you can also use a cookie cutter or even a glass to cut your ravioli. Do this until all dough and filling is used.
You can also put 1 sheet on the bottom, filling and then 1 sheet on top.
Put finished ravioli on a floured surface to dry a bit.
Step 9: boil ravioli in salted water for 3 minutes.
Step 10: in a saute pan melt a bit of butter, some olive oil, slices of fresh garlic, some chili flakes, bit of lemon zest. Once ravioli are done put right into pan and add a bit of pasta water to help create silky sauce. Cook 1-2 minutes more and serve. Top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese salt and pepper. 
Serve right away!!! Come on….you know you want to cook that!

Orange Lemon Cranberry Muffins

I am not a big fan of muffins or cupcakes.I don’t like them because they are usually just pretty to look at and taste terrible.These are moist little muffins made with olive oil, lemon and orange and topped with a lime glaze. They are pretty and they taste good. They even stay moist the next day.

You will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (with pulp)- 3 oranges
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice – 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lime juice
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Step 1: in a medium sized bowl add all dry ingredients. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a whisk instead of sifting.
Step 2: zest the orange and lemon.
Step 3: juice the lemon and oranges. Add olive oil, water, vanilla and chopped cranberries. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool slightly. This is to moisten the cranberries.
Step 4: add the egg to a large bowl and whisk in the orange liquid.
Step 5: add the dry ingredients mixing with a spatula 1/3 at a time and mixing until just incorporated.
Step 6: use an ice cream scoop to evenly fill muffin tins (I like paper liners for easy clean up) I also sprinkle tops with a bit of sugar.
Step 7: bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before removing to cooling rack.
Step 8: make a glaze by mixing icing sugar and lime juice. I put in a small Ziploc bag with an end cut to drizzle.
Eat them!! They are soft and squishy.

Cheeseburger Buns

These are worth the effort! 
These are sometimes called Bierocks or Runzas.  They are normally a sweet roll  filled with beef, cabbage and onions and tend to be on the blander side.They originated from Russia or Germany and are popular in the Midwest U.S.
 I created mine without cabbage and with more spices. I also took the top from another American favourite the Beef on weck. In Western New York they have rolls that have course salt and caraway (kummelweck) on top and they serve them with sliced beef. I have taken the salt and caraway top and created a more tasty filling to create these amazing little buns. Big Pete loved them because well…. he is a boy and they usually love anything with meat and bread.
If you start these in the afternoon you can have them for dinner. You can also bake and freeze them.
You will need:
  • 4 tbsp butter 
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut palm sugar but any kind will work)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • caraway seeds for top
  • course or kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 Hot Italian sausages 
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms 
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp green onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp your favourite Barbecue seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese- grated
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese- grated
Step 1: melt butter, milk, olive oil and sugar 40 seconds in microwave. Stir and let butter and sugar dissolve. let cool slightly.
Step 2: In a stand mixer or you can do this by hand. Add the slightly cooled milk to mixer bowl. Add yeast and egg, stir and wait 5 minutes to make sure yeast activates. Add both flours and salt and mix until dough forms a ball and pulls all flour away from bowl. This may take a few minutes. If you are doing this by hand knead on counter until you have a nice dough.
Step 3: place dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place 1 hour.
Step 4: while dough rises prepare filling. Start with good beef and some good sausages (if you don’t eat pork  leave these out) I always remove the casing and saute the meat until all the water has evaporated and the meat gets a bit of browning. 
Step 5: drain and set aside.
Step 6: in a food processor grind onion and garlic finely. Then separately chop the mushrooms fine.
Step 7: fry the onions in a tiny bit of olive oil and once it starts to brown add mushrooms. You want to let all water evaporate and cook out. This will take a few minutes on medium heat.Add all other seasonings. Taste it and add salt and pepper or some additional hot pepper flakes. Add meat and mix well.
Step 8: chop the green onions and parsley and grate the cheeses. Add to the meat mixture and taste again. If it has flavour and you are happy let cool completely before filling the buns.
Step 9: divide dough into 12 equal pieces. I like to form a log then slice evenly. I then roll out a circle to encase meat filling. Do not roll out too thin. Divide filling and gather two sides and pull and pinch dough to seal edges. Pat and roll dough. You do not want the dough too thin or the meat could break through while baking. This is a nice dough to work with.
Step 10: put buns on a parchment lined baking sheet- do not touch each other. Turn on oven to 375 degrees F and leave buns to rise another 60 minutes. Brush with egg wash and  I put caraway and salt on half and sesame seeds on the other half and the salted ones were so much better. Bake 25 minutes or until slightly browned.
Cool 10 minutes before eating! They are so good. The cheese makes the filling stay together so that you can eat them without the filling falling out. They are also delicious served with a bit of honey Dijon mustard and perhaps your favourite beer! These would be great for a crowd or you can store in the fridge or freezer. To reheat from the fridge I microwaved for 25 seconds and they were perfect.