Thursday, September 29, 2016

Julia's Quick & Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies

With Julia Laxer

My eleven year old daughter Julia recently decided she wanted to make peanut butter cookies that would be perfectly sweet and with a nice, soft, chewy texture.

After doing some surfing around various recipes, she developed her own drawn from a couple of sources.

The measurements here will make 20-25 cookies, though the portions can, of course, be easily doubled.

It is also a very kid friendly recipe that it is both easy for kids to make and it is certain they will enjoy the fruits of their labours!

Julia preps the cookies

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Take a heaping teaspoon of batter and form into small round balls and flatten with a fork (if fork is sticking to batter dip fork in sugar) pushing down in two opposite directions to make a cross pattern on the top of the cookie.

Ready to go in the oven

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 10 minutes until golden brown. Let sit until cooled, otherwise they will crumble.

These simple to make cookies are wonderfully moist and delicious.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Clay Baked Lamb Shoulder Chops with Potato and Onion

Last week I took a look at a cute and fun little cookbook originally from the 1970's called Mary Poppins in the Kitchen

The cookbook, whose premise was to portray a week in the culinary life of Poppins and the Banks children, featured a number of recipes primarily centred around traditional English fare.

In among the recipes was one for a simple Irish lamb stew. The cookbook called for the use of cubed lamb shoulder that would be placed among layers of onion and potato.

This recipe reminded me of a recipe I found from a Soviet era Ukrainian cookbook -- Ukrainian Cookery Recipes -- that I did a new and (in my opinion) improved take on, in the post Ukrainian "Scalloped Beef" Revisited.

In this case I also saw potential for a new take using lamb shoulder chops, which I love, but keeping them whole. I also really like making lamb in a clay baker as, with properly lengthy cooking times, the chops come out incredibly moist and delicious.

(If you want an introductory look at using a clay baker, I did one called The Simple Art of Clay Baking for one of my previous blogs.)

To begin, buy some fresh lamb shoulder chops. I used six for my dish. Take your lamb chops and season them liberally on both sides with finely chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Let them sit out at room temperature while you soak your clay baker for the required 15 minutes by filling both halves of it with water.

Meanwhile, slice about 3 medium size onions into rings. Then slice up a few unpeeled potatoes into quarter inch slices as well. I used a combination of some smaller red and yellow ones.

Once you have emptied out the water, place a first layer of chops on the bottom of your clay baker. Most should fit three chops (or half of them in this case).

Top this with a layer of onion and potato slices. Season the onions and potato with some salt and pepper.

Then place another layer of the seasoned chops and a final layer of onion and potato, again seasoning the onion and potato with salt and pepper.

Once you have done this add enough cold water to fill up the baker right to around the midway point of the top onion and potato layer.

Put the top of the baker on and, as always place it into a COLD oven (you must never put a clay baker in a pre-heated oven). Turn the oven to 375 degrees and cook for 3 hours.

After three hours take out, uncover and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve the chops topped with the onion and potatoes. The meat will fall apart with a fork and the onions and potatoes will be perfectly cooked and delicious.

Goes nicely with some rice or a garden salad and, of course, some red wine.


See also: Ukrainian "Scalloped Beef" Revisited

See also: Clay Baked Spicy Curried Goat

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sugar For My Honey - An Exceptional Austrian/German Bistro-Cafe in South Etobicoke

Unfortunately Sugar For My Honey closed at the end of May, 2017. 

Sugar For My Honey is a cafe-bistro in the Etobicoke neighbourhood of Long Branch that specializes in Austrian and German cuisine.

Don't let the name trick you into thinking it is a dessert cafe as that is not at all the case. Its menu covers the full range from Palatshinken, an Austrian style of crepe served with a variety of fillings, to the German pasta Kasespatzle, to a really wonderful brunch menu, to that staple of Austrian bistro fare, Schnitzel.

And everything is absolutely delicious. Authentically prepared with fresh and top-notch ingredients this is some of the best bistro and brunch food in Toronto's West End and at very reasonable prices given both the quality and portion sizes.

With charming decor the bistro is also licensed and has a beer menu focused on Central European beers with wine and some liquor available.

They have introduced a Thursday jazz night that highlights local Humber College musical talent and that offers beer and hamburger specials.

Whether for brunch, lunch or dinner and a beer, this is a must try restaurant open Tuesday through Saturday until 10 p.m. and open Sunday afternoons.

Schnitzel on a bun, perfectly prepared and served with tomato and lettuce. $7.95
You can also get a schnitzel dinner with potato salad for $14.95.

The 'Nite Owl' an exceptional ham, cheese and egg sandwich on rye $6.50

The crepes are delicious and beautifully presented.
This one was a ham, cheese and mushroom crepe $10.99

A fresh strawberry crepe topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce $9.99

The 'Bonfire' brunch plate.
Pan fried ham, bacon, sausage & meatloaf topped with an egg, potatoes & toasted bread $10.99

You can find their regular menu at their website, though they also have specials and some salads that are not on it. You can see these on their in-house menu.

Sugar For My Honey is located at 3399 Lake Shore Blvd. W. about halfway between Kipling and Brown's Line. It is on the 501 Streetcar line.

They are on Facebook and they accept reservations. 

 See also: Roll & Thai on Lake Shore w. Tom Yum Noodle Soup, Sushi & more

See also: Dumpling House Restaurant Spadina w. Dumplings, Hot & Sour Soup and Spicy Seaweed Salad

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen w. Dundee Cake, Welsh Rarebit, Yorkshire Pudding & more! -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen - P.L. Travers and Maurice Moore-Betty with illustrations by Mary Shepard 

Publication Details: Dell Publishing, 1991

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen is a truly charming little cookbook that has a clever gimmick to hook you in with.

Billed as "A Cookery Book with a Story" it is, indeed, just that. The book begins with a series of little connected stories that feature Mary Poppins and the Banks children and that are ultimately centred around food.

After an introduction and a brief lead-in story, there are seven of these stories that begin with Monday and culminate with Sunday. Each day's story ends with that day's menu. It is all rather cute and is accompanied throughout with lots of lovely illustrations.

After the stories the book gives the recipes for all of the dishes that were in the daily menus. Somewhat unusually, though it makes sense in this context, they do this alphabetically as opposed to breaking them up by type.

These recipes are mostly very traditional English fare and many are real classics of that style of cuisine.

Here we are sharing a cross-section of some of these.

A really fun cookbook for kids of all ages that is well worth seeking out!

(Also, as a bonus, enjoy some classic Mary Poppins singing after the recipes.)

(Click on image to enlarge)

And for all you Mary Poppins fans out there:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vintage 1970's Soviet Postcard Folder of the Streets of Volgograd (Stalingrad)!

Children's Railroad
Recently I came across a folder of postcards published in the USSR in the 1970's that show a variety of streetscapes, important sites and monuments in the city of Volgograd. Volgograd, of course, was called Stalingrad during the Second World War and was the site of not only the largest battle in human history but of the battle where the Red Army turned the tide against the forces of Nazi Germany and its allies.

Over the course of this pivotal battle in the history of the modern world the entire city of Stalingrad was completely destroyed.

The devastation was on a scale that staggers belief.

After the war the city was not only rebuilt but was rebuilt in a way that is both amazing and that also honoured the nearly incomprehensible sacrifices of the city's citizens and of the Red Army's soldiers during the battle with the creation of monuments to their heroism.

When Stalin died and his crimes were revealed and acknowledged by Khrushchev and the Soviet regime, the city's name was changed to Volgograd.

Without any further ado, here are the 31 postcards of 70's era Soviet Volgograd.

All of the captions below the photos are taken from the back of the postcard.

(Click on images to enlarge)

View of Lenin Prospect

Corner of Gogol St.

View of Peace St.

The Volgograd Planetarium 

Volgograd at Night

View of the Volga

Lenin Volga-Don Canal

Street Scene

Central Department Store

Obelisk over the common grave of the fallen soldiers
of the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars

Public Garden

Monument to Lenin on Lenin Square

Staircase leading to the Main Embankment 

Gorky Drama Theatre

"The Grieving Mother" Memorial to the fallen soldiers of

Street scene of the Lenin Prospect

Monument to fighter-pilot V. Kholzunov
Hero of the Soviet Union

Fallen Warrior Square

Memorial to the fallen soldiers of Stalingrad

Open air cafe

Central Market

Bridge over the river Tsaritsa

The 22nd Party Congress Volga Hydro-Electric Station

View of the Soviet Army Officers Club

View of the 22nd Party Congress Volga Hydro-Electric Station

Main entrance of the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Works
 Interesting monument in front of the Tractor Works no doubt to honour the fact that during the battle factory workers built tanks under fire that were literally driven right off the production line and into battle.
Mill, a relic of the battle

Main Embankment 

Memorial to the fallen soldiers of Stalingrad

"To the Builders of Communism" Monument
See also: Sketches of the Soviet Union in the 70's: Anton Refregier -- Part II Ukraine, Latvia, Armenia, Turkmenia and Georgia