Thursday, April 18, 2024

Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake


When the first leaves of rhubarb begin to uncurl and the red stalks stretch towards the sun, it's time for this Rhubarb Cake. Tender and not-too-sweet, with a bit of crunch on the top, it's a great way to welcome spring. I've made it twice this year already and it disappears quickly. 

Rhubarb Cake

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (2 T vinegar, 1 cup milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped fine

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream brown sugar and butter, add the eggs and beat well. Add sour milk, soda, salt, and flour. Stir well. Add vanilla and rhubarb. Stir to combine.
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on batter. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Delicious with whipped cream or ice cream. 

This recipe is from Enjoy - The Best of Bridge series, first published in 1980. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Lemon Loaf


Having a couple of quick bread loaves in the freezer is good insurance for busy days or weeks when there is no time to bake. Date Loaf and this Lemon Loaf are my usuals. Lately, I've been craving the fresh sharpness of lemon and have made the recipe twice in the past month or so. Most recently I doubled the recipe and made four small loaves which are good for giving away to friends or neighbours. The lemon and sugar glaze on top really adds to the flavour, and I wouldn't recommend skipping it. 

Lemon Loaf (makes one large loaf or two small ones) 

1/2 cup (125 g) soft butter
1 cup (250 g) sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
1 1/2 cups (375 g) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
grated rind of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (50 ml) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C). 
In large bowl, cream butter, add sugar, then one egg. Beat in second egg. Stir in milk.

In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon rind. Pour into the butter/egg mixture and stir just to combine. 

Spoon into greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

While the loaf is baking, prepare the glaze by combining the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat and stir just to dissolve sugar.

Remove from oven and pour glaze evenly over immediately. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and cool on a rack. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Butternut Squash "Lasagne"


This meatless and gluten-free main dish was a hit when my sister and her husband visited a couple of weeks ago. Although the recipe, as I've written it below, does have gluten flour as the thickener, I used cornstarch when they were here. 

There are a number of steps, but it's a dish that can be made ahead and frozen. I thawed it (mostly) before baking. Creamy and satisfying, and loaded with vegetables. 

The squash is cooked before assembling the dish so the water has been removed and the dish will not ooze liquid when cut. 

Butternut Squash "Lasagne"

For the squash

1 very large, or 2 medium butternut squash, peeled. Note: I look for squash that have a very long neck as it makes it easier to get the pieces needed for the recipe.
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash. Cut off the bulbous end, halve it and scrape out the seeds. I found that I didn't need this part and saved it for another day. 
Slice the remainder of the squash into long wide strips, about 1/2 inch thick. It's helpful to stand the squash on an end and slice downwards. You can also cut the squash into 1/2 inch thick rounds, but this won't fill the pan quite as smoothly.

Place the squash slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Turn and brush with oil again. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and cool. 

For the sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour 
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup white wine or vegetable/chicken broth
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the milk and wine. Whisk over medium heat until the sauce thickens and boils. Remove from heat and add the cheese, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

For the onion/mushroom layer

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
200 grams (8 oz) mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and saute until mostly tender. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and oregano. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture is soft and cooked through. Add the salt. Set aside.

For the ricotta mixture

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients. Set aside.

To layer the dish:

In a 7 x 11 baking dish, thinly spread 1/3 cup of the sauce. Lay one layer of butternut squash over, filling the dish as much as possible. Add half of the ricotta/spinach mixture and all of the mushroom/onion mixture. Cover with half of the remaining sauce. 
Add another layer of squash slices, the remaining ricotta/spinach mixture and finally, the remaining sauce. 

Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes until the top is browned.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Flourless Double Chocolate Nut Cookies


My sister has a celiac disease which means she cannot eat gluten. She becomes very ill if she ingests even the smallest amount. So when she visits, I am careful about what I cook, and what I add to dishes. 

I don't like having all the non-gluten flours and ingredients cluttering up my pantry, and prefer gluten-free things I can make from the ingredients I already have on hand. These cookies are so simple to make, and delicious! I've made them with either almonds or pecans, and other nuts could be used, too. 

3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or almonds, or another nut
4 large egg whites, at room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Add egg whites and stir just until combined. Do not overmix. 

Drop dough by Tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. They will spread a little.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. The cookie tops should be dry and crackled. Let cool and remove from parchment paper. Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Prune and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


What to make for dinner with friends? I decided on pork tenderloin and cobbled together ideas from a couple of recipes to create a dish that went over well. A little bit of sweetness complements pork beautifully, and often, it's applesauce that provides the sweetness. I thought prunes would be a good option and upon searching on line, discovered that I wasn't the only one to think so. 

The stuffing can be made a day or so ahead, and the loin stuffed and browned early in the day. Then 20-30 minutes (depending upon how cold the meat is) in the oven, and it's ready to serve. 

Prune and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin, silverskin removed

6-8 large prunes, cut into 8 pieces each (or rough chopped)
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Soak prunes in white wine for an hour or two. 
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a skillet and saute the onions and shallots until very soft and almost caramelized. Add the garlic and sage leaves and saute 1-2 minutes longer. Add the prunes and wine and stir to combine. Let cool. 

Cut the pork tenderloin almost in half, lengthwise, and open to lay almost flat. 

Spoon the cooled prune onion mixture along the fold in the pork tenderloin. Fold the tenderloin and tie with kitchen string. It will be messy. Season the outside with salt and pepper. The stuffing may not all fit, but reserve any bits that fall out to make a sauce. 

Heat the second Tablespoon of oil in an oven proof skillet and brown the tenderloin on all sides. Roast, uncovered, in a pre-heated 425 F oven for 20-30 minutes (internal temperature 145 F). Removed from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Add the leftover stuffing to the pan juices and heat thoroughly, then puree, if desired. Add a little white wine to thin, if needed. Season to taste. 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Chicken and Vegetable Stew with Turmeric and Preserved Lemon


When the weather outside is frightful, a bowl of something savory and warm is delightful. This stew comes together quickly. It's hearty and filling.

Chicken and Vegetable Stew with Turmeric and Preserved Lemon

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-2-inch pieces
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cubed in 1-inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (1-inch piece)
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup chopped kale 
2 Tablespoons diced preserved lemon, optional

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then add to oil and brown on all sides. Remove from pot.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pot. Stir for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and brown. Add the sweet potatoes, kale, browned chicken, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken cooked through.

Add the coconut milk and preserved lemon, if desired. Stir and heat through. Season to taste. 

I found a bowl of this filling on itself, but my husband had rice underneath his stew. 

Note: Other greens could be used, such as spinach, in which case, add at the end and cook for just a few minutes. 

Cardamom Buns


A platter full of these fragrant and delicious buns has become the accompaniment to gift opening on Christmas morning. They come together quickly - I start them in the morning around 7:30 and they are ready by 10 or 10:30 when the children and grandchildren arrive. Forming the buns is an art form which I don't quite have. For instructions on how to twist and shape the dough, look at this video. There are a number of ways to shape the buns, and mine are a rough approximation of Cecilia's. This recipe is also based on hers. 


1 cup milk
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (7 grams)
1/3 cup (67 grams) brown sugar
3 1/4 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (75 grams) butter at room temperature, cubed

Stir together milk and white sugar. Sprinkle yeast over and let activate for 10 minutes.
Mix the brown sugar, flour, cardamom, and salt. Add the milk and the yeast. Mix until the dough comes together. Then add the butter, mixing well with a stand mixer, or by hand, until fully incorporated. Knead for 5 minutes or so. I knead the mixture in my Kitchen Aid, as the dough is quite loose. You don't want to add too much flour. 
Place in greased bowl and let rise for 40 minutes in a warm spot. 


4 1/2 Tablespoons (63 grams) butter, softened
1/3 cup (67 grams) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

Mix the filling ingredients together. Set aside.
Roll dough to 13 x 21 inches. Spread the filling over. Fold in half, making a 13 x 10 1/2 inch piece of dough. Flatten slightly with rolling pin. Cut 3/4 inch (2 cm) strips and wrap as desired. 

Let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake 7-10 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. 

Brush buns with the following mixture immediately after removing them from the oven.


1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Heat just to dissolve sugar. 

After brushing the buns with the sugar/water mixture, sprinkle them with a bit of granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.

Note: You can grind your own cardamom for the freshest taste, but I find the seeds quite hard to crush in a mortar and pestle and usually use about half pre-ground cardamom from the store and half coarsely ground cardamom that I've prepared in my mortar and pestle.