Yummy – Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot Fudge SauceI realize I have committed a serious oversight. When I was writing my post about the Dinner for 5 in an Hour (or so), I neglected to include the recipe for Hot Fudge Sauce that I mentioned in the description of our dessert.

I was reminded of this last night, when I watched my husband enjoy a Banana Sundae with the remains of the sauce. After you make this and realize how good it is, you will understand why my omission was so serious…I should not have held this back for so long. I am sorry….

Hot Fudge Sauce
I have tried a lot of recipes for Hot Fudge Sauce, but I can tell you that this one is the best. I found it in an old Bon Apetit magazine, February 2004.

  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened,  Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. good quality dark chocolate, not unsweetened, finely chopped (ok…I used 8 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

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Quick & Healthy – Chicken & Prawn Stirfy with Black Bean Sauce

VeggiesDo you recall the “5 a day” campaign, which set out to encourage us to get at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day? After consulting the Canadian Food Guide, I discovered that the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables has been increased to an average of 8 servings per day (depending on gender and age). We all have the best of intentions in meeting these goals but sometimes it’s not that easy.

I often turn to stirfrys and curries to sneak in all of the vegetables my family needs. They are quick, easy and adaptable which is ideal for weeknight cooking. Feel free to alter recipe this in any way you see fit…a few suggestions would be to swap out the asparagus for green beans (which are in season right now) or add some mushrooms. The idea is that this recipe caters to whatever is in your vegetable crisper at the moment.

Chicken & Prawn Stirfry with Black Bean Sauce
The whole idea of this dish (aside from the veggies) is for it to be quick. Therefore, I turn to purchased black bean sauce. My favourite comes from our local farmer’s market but there are several good ones out there. In fact, you should let me know your preference, as the farmer’s market season is coming to an end in October and I will have to find a new source.

  • Glug of canola oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil (can be eliminated if you don’t have it on hand…it simply adds a bit more flavour)
  • 2 large chicken breasts (skinless)
  • However many prawns you feel like peeling
  • 1 large crown of broccoli
  • 1 bell pepper…yellow or orange are great for visual appeal
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 1 c. (250 ml) of your favourite black bean sauce
  • 1/2 c. grated carrot
  • 1 bunch of scallions, white and light green parts only

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MENU: Roast Lamb with Figs, Honey and Thyme, Butternut Squash Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Wilted Spinach with Creme Fraiche

Alpha Lake We are so lucky…some good friends generously invited us to spend the weekend with them in Whistler. As a thank you, I offered to take Chez Wittmann on the road and prepare a feast for Saturday night’s dinner.  I took full advantage of the beautiful kitchen and our large appetites, built up from an afternoon paddle on the lake, to create a menu that could safely be considered “rich”.

Roast Lamb with Figs

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Classic Dish – Spaghetti & Meatballs in a Roasted Tomato Sauce

My eldest son is what I like to call a “con-vegetarian”, the prefix indicating either convenience or an attempt to snow his mother, depending on how charitable I am feeling that day. To understand this phenomenon, one only needs to bear witness to the following conversation:

Son: What’s for dinner?
Me: A delicious  pork chop/chicken breast/steak/lamb chop.
Son: But I don’t like meat…I am a vegetarian (note the proud undertones here).
Me: Silly me, I made a mistake…we’re having lasagna/burritos/hamburgers/stir-fry/anything with sausage for dinner.
Son: Fantastic! I’m starving.

The following recipe falls into his list of “exceptions” .

Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs in a Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

My husband never asks me to bake him anything…ever. So, imagine my surprise when he requested  carrot cake last week. How could I possibly refuse? I dug out this recipe from my beloved Aunt Dee and started grating carrots (and possibly a knuckle or two).Carrot Cake

Aunt Dee’s Carrot Cake

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 4 eggs (large)
  • 3 1/2 c. grated carrot
  • 1 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

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Menu: Sticky Ribs, Twice-Baked Potatoes & Creamed Leeks

RibsRibs are good. Ribs are yummy. Ribs are generally adored by all (except for those who don’t like sticky fingers and flossing their teeth after dinner). Knowing all of the above to be true, I decided to revisit my Superbowl Ribs recipe for a dinner we hosted this weekend. Having decided on the main dish, the rest of the menu shaped up as follows:

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Roast Chicken with Summer Tomatoes and Basil

Yes, it’s another recipe for roast chicken! This one is a bit more summery than my recent “Roast Chicken in Milk”; full of beautiful fresh tomatoes and basil…among other things. I also have to point out that this dish takes me approximately 10 minutes to prepare and is hearty enough to make one of those “one dish meals” that are so very popular at Chez Wittmann.

Roast Chicken with Summer Tomatoes and Basil
adapted from Jaime Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs

  • 2 lb. of chicken parts…I used skinless thighs but you can use any combination you would like…I would recommend bone-in though
  • healthy (really healthy) glug of olive oil
  • 2-3 chicken sausages
  • big handful of basil
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, skin on
  • 1 can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • assortment of fresh tomatoes…I used a combo of roma, yellow and strawberry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, plus a squeeze of lemon juice at the end

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Creamy Cheesy Baked Leeks

I  picked up a some beautiful leeks at the market this weekend, intending to make my Golden Chickpea Salad. The rainy weather, however steered my cravings to something a little more in the “comfort food” category. So, creamed leeks it was.

Creamed Leeks

Creamy Cheesy Baked Leeks

  • 5 decent size leeks
  • glug of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely or crushed
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme (or half a teaspoon of dried)
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream (you could probably go a little lighter here)
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 c. aged cheddar, grated – divided into 2 X 1/2 c. portions

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Restaurant Review – Trattoria Italian Kitchen

My husband and I decided to sneak out for dinner last Wednesday to the Trattoria on 4th Avenue, in Kitsilano. We had been there before and really enjoyed both the food and the service. I should mention right now that it was about 32 degrees outside. When we walked in the very busy restaurant, I noticed that it was substantially hotter inside, despite the front garage-door style windows being rolled up. However, as my husband and I don’t get to eat out alone very often, we decided to brave the heat and enjoy a nice meal out.

I am not sure if it was the heat, which really did seem oppressive, but our dinners were not up to the same standard as our first visit. To start, my husband had a spinach salad and we shared the beef carpaccio. The salad was fresh and the goat cheese had a nice tang to it. The carpaccio, however was a bit disappointing. We had shared it on our previous visit and I recall that it was served on a bed of arugula and polenta, which seemed to be flavoured with gorgonzola The presentation was the same this time, but the flavour was distinctly lacking. The polenta, which made the dish so memorable last time, was decidedly bland (perhaps there is a world-wide gorgonzola shortage, of which I am unaware).

My husband’s dinner, Parpadelle with Duck Sausage, was also a repeat of our previous visit. The duck sausage had a nice spice to it, and the pasta was cooked perfectly. My gnocchi, on the other hand was quite disappointing. It was definitely overdone and the tomato sauce was really uninspired (my apologies for the cliche, which is also slightly uninspired). It tasted as though it had sat on the back of the stove, simmering for far too long. There was nothing fresh about it. The only other apparent ingredient in the dish were a few grape tomatoes which appeared to have been tossed around a hot pan for a second or two.

The good: Spinach Salad,  Parpadelle with Duck Sausage, Wine List

The not-so-good: Beef Carpaccio, Gnocchi

The outstanding: Service (our server was cool and collected, even though it had to be 35 degrees inside)

On the whole, not a terribly memorable meal. However, our first experience at the Trattoria was really good so I will chalk this up the heat and give it another go (on a much cooler night).

Chilly Day – Roast Chicken in Milk

I am a huge fan of Jaime Oliver’s cooking, especially for those easy week night dinners. However, I have to admit when I saw this recipe, “Huh?” was my initial response. Chicken + Milk + Lemon = Mess, but my morbid curiosity won out over my misgivings and I had to give it a try.

As you’ve already gathered, I stand corrected. Somehow, the combination of the cinnamon, sage and lemon balance with the creaminess of the milk to make this a really enjoyable dish. No flavour dominates but they are all present and accounted for.

Today is cloudy and chilly here, so I thought it was a good excuse to share this one. As I mentioned, the original recipe is from Jaime Oliver…I have tweaked it ever so slightly. I should also mention that I did not use a whole chicken, as the recipe instructs, but made it with all chicken thighs, as the dark meat seems to retain its moisture during the baking process better. I reduced the cooking time accordingly:

Roast Chicken in Milk

  • 3 lb of chicken, whatever bits you like
  • coarse salt & pepper
  • glug of olive oil
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • handful of fresh sage leaves
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 10 cloves of garlic, skin left on
  • 2 1/2 c. milk

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