Thursday, December 22, 2011


A special treat just before Christmas in our home was when my dad would bring home a special Christmas sweet bread. It was a very rich dessert bread full of fruit and almonds. Christmas Stollen (we pronounced it Shh tollen) was different from the Fruit Cake we see all the time nowadays.

We lived among some eastern European neighbours then, and stollen, originally baked in Germany, became popular all over the .neighbourhood

Long before Columbus discovered America, stollen was baked at Christmastime in Dresden Germany. The dried fruits are macerated in liquor and when the bread comes out of the oven it is then slathered with melted butter and rolled in sugar. It thus represents the infant Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Since the 15th century, there was a Stollenfest in Dresden every year, right up to the fall of the monarchy in 1918.

If you have never eaten stollen, you are in for a gustatory delight. This moist specialty bread  is a little like the Italian Pannettone or the Danish Julekage, but its special shape is very appealing to Christians in particular and its flavour to everyone.

If you are a baking enthusiast, bite into some serious history here; make yourself a Christmas Stollen.

Adapted from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking, Hermes House, N.Y. 1999

Christmas Stollen             1 loaf


½ cup (115gm) golden raisins
¼ cup (60gm) currants
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum or brandy
3 ¼ cups (800ml) white flour, plus a little to sprinkle on top of batter
½ teaspoon (2ml) salt
¼ cup (50ml) sugar

¼ teaspoon (1ml) ground cardamom
½ teaspoon (2ml) ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2ml) grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon (2ml) grated orange zest
1 ½ ounces (45gm) yeast
½ cup (125ml) lukewarm milk

¼ cup (50ml) melted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup (100ml) candied fruit
1/3 (75ml) blanched whole almonds, chopped

Melted butter, for brushing

For The Almond Filling

1 cup (250ml) ground almonds
¼ cup (50ml) sugar
½ cup (100ml) confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon (2ml) lemon juice
1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350F (180C)
  2. Put the raisins and currants in a heatproof bowl and put in the oven just to warm, 3-4 minutes. Pour on the liquor and set aside. Shut off the oven. Stir the fruit to immerse fully in the liquor.
  3. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, spices and zest.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the slightly warm milk.
  5. Pour this into the flour and stir a little of the flour from around the edge into the milk mixture to make a thick batter.
  6. Sprinkle some flour on top of batter, then cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Add the melted butter and egg and mix into a soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  8. Place in an greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  9. Working on the almond filling: combine the ground almonds and sugars.
  10. Add the lemon juice and enough egg to knead into a smooth paste.
  11. Shape into an 8 inch (20cm) long sausage, cover and set aside.
  12. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down.
  13. Pat out the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick and sprinkle on the golden raisins, currants, candied fruit and almonds.
  14. Fold and knead the dough to incorporate the fruit and nuts.
  15. Roll out the dough into an oval- about 12 X 9 inches (30 X 23 cm)
  16. Roll the center slightly thinner than the edges. Place the almond paste filling along the center and fold over the dough to enclose it, making sure that the top of the dough doesn’t completely cover the base. The top edge should be slightly inward from the bottom edge.
  17. Press down to seal.
  18. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a lightly oiled or greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  19. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  20. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on its bottom.
  21. Brush the top liberally with melted butter and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  22. Dust heavily with confectioners’ sugar just prior to serving.  

So that’s how to bake a Christmas Stollen. A little detailed, but these step by step instructions make the method easy to follow.

Enjoy with coffee or black tea.

Monday, December 19, 2011


We’re in a supermarket walking through the frozen seafood section where my eyes view a package of cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp. I mutter disdainfully “who would want that?” The tipster counters derisively: “who wouldn’t; it’s cooked, peeled and deveined and all the work is done for you.”  I retort that the head and shells are where the flavour lies. You can make a wonderful stock with them, or at least boil the headless shrimp in the shells, otherwise the shrimp don’t have much taste. I know that you can add zip to precooked shrimp with clam juice but I like using the shells.

My beloved convinces me to purchase a package of the aforementioned crustaceans because they were heavily discounted and I thought I would highlight the taste of the shrimp with a tasty fruit accompaniment. I decided to make a shrimp omelet.

We both agreed that the dish was very tasty in a lip-smacking sort of way. I hope you will try it; it is delicious and easy to prepare because you don’t have to peel and devein the shrimp.

Shrimp Omelet with Hot Glazed Fruit          Serves four

Hot Glazed Fruit


  • 3 cups (750ml) assorted sliced fruit (such as apples, pears, peaches, bananas, mangoes and pineapples, your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) butter
  • ¼ cup (50ml) light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2ml) grated gingerroot
  • ½ teaspoon (2ml) salt
  • 2 tablespoons  (30ml) lemon juice


  • Prepare the fruit, then slice approximately ½ inch (1cm) thick
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet
  • Add the next 3 ingredients and stir till sugar melts
  • Add the lemon juice and stir in the fruits
  • Fry, stirring gently for 1 or 2 minutes until fruit is hot and glazed

This will stay warm for at least 30 minutes, giving you ample time to make the omelets.

Shrimp Omelets (4)


6 (90ml) tablespoons butter
1 lb (450gm) small shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon (4 ml) lemon juice
8 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup (50ml) milk
¼ teaspoon (1ml) garam masala (use a commercial product or see below)
½ teaspoon (2ml) salt
¼ teaspoon (1ml) black pepper
Hot glazed fruits


  • Melt 2 (30ml) tablespoons of butter in a small pan or skillet
  • Add the shrimp and sprinkle lemon juice over them
  • Stir quickly just to heat and then remove from fire and keep warm

  • Combine the eggs with the next four ingredients and beat well
  • Melt 1 (15ml) tablespoon of butter in the omelet pan or skillet over high heat
  • Before the butter turns brown, pour in  1/4th of the eggs
  • Let the eggs settle for a few seconds, then gently stir a couple of times with a fork
  • Spoon into the centre of the eggs 2 heaping tablespoons (40ml) of warm shrimp
  • Fold the omelet in half. remove and keep warm on a platter
  • Repeat with the remaining 3 omelets
  • Any remaining shrimp will be used as garnish

Put the omelets and fruit side-by-side on each plate and garnish the omelets with remaining shrimp. If you desire, garnish the fruit with sliced almonds or chopped dates.

Garam masala powder         Makes about ¼ cup (50ml)

1 tablespoon (15ml) cumin seed
1 tablespoon (15ml) cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon (2ml) whole cloves
½ teaspoon (2ml) black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
2- 3 inch (8cm) and sticks cinnamon broken into pieces

Heat a 6 inch (15cm) skillet over medium heat. Put the spices in the skillet and stir for 2 minutes.
Listen for crackling sound, they should be a little darker in colour but not burnt
Pour into a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
Put the roasted spices in a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder (clean coffee bean grinder is ideal) and grind until finely textured.
Keep in airtight jar. After about one month, the flavour starts to diminish.
This is also known as Garam Masala (warm mixture).


Sunday, December 11, 2011


While we were visiting our daughter in Florida recently, we watched a compelling documentary about a sick and overweight Australian businessman who came to the USA to perform a juice fast for 60 days. See here

It was fascinating to watch as the man, Joe Cross, traveled all over The US and stopped at farmers markets or roadside stands. In the rear of his vehicle he had a juicer and would juice the vegetables right on the spot. He checked with his MD before he began and hoped to eventually eliminate the prescribed medicine for his skin disease which was making him sicker.

Cross was losing fat, little by little. He would speak to other young people about their diet and they would mention the usual fast- food fare. A couple of people looked like they could have benefited from the juice regimen, but said they loved their junk food too much.

Cross kept juicing twice a day, and eating nothing else. His fat continued to diminish and after tests with his physician, he could actually drop the medicine routine and its side effects.

Driving through Arizona, Joe Cross met an obese over the road driver and started talking with him. The man had trouble walking from his rig to the truck-stop center. Joe invited him over to his vehicle and offered him a glass of juice. They got to talking and it turned out both men had the same disease. The trucker liked the beverage but wasn’t sure about committing to a juicing program. Joe left his number with the trucker.

At the end of the 60 day juicing program, Joe was no longer fat, sick and nearly dying. He was no longer taking the medicine and his disease had completely cleared up.  He went back home and went about his business.

Later, that obese trucker telephoned Joe and asked for help. Joe agreed to return and provide help.  The driver, although in his early 40’s, could barely walk a block without having to stop. When he was younger he was a champion swimmer in school. He followed Joe Cross’s advice and through the ensuing weeks lost a lot of fat and was able to jog long distances. He was so grateful he started volunteering to help other overweight people.

My daughter wanted me and my spouse to start juicing and purchased a juicer for us that day. We bought a bunch of vegetables and started juicing. The Education Tipster likes it and participates in the twice daily juicing event.

My daughter urges everyone to start juicing, as the concentrated nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) help stave off food cravings as they satisfy your body’s food needs. 

There are a couple of important points to remember.
  1. Wash the vegetables and fruit to be juiced.
  2. Go easy on the fruits used, too much fruit sugar is not healthy
  3. Do include a little fruit with the vegetables for a more palatable flavour.
  4. Rinse out the juicer as soon as possible, before it gets dry and is hard to clean.
  5. Drink the juice as soon as you can, before oxidation sets in.

We traveled over 130 miles round trip to buy some Bitter Melon, which is a bitter vegetable reputed to be very effective in controlling blood sugar. After awhile you can get used to the amounts and varieties of fruits and vegetables you may prefer. I use bitter melon with carrot, celery, spinach, bell pepper, zucchini, cucumber and a little watermelon, apple and orange. You can juice almost anything, but not banana or avocado.Read the manual accompanying your juicing machine for more information.

We met a Russian man at that market who has been juicing for 15 years, since he got here. He looked very healthy.

Here is a simple juicing recipe to get started: 3 carrots, 1 tomato and a handful of spinach. It tastes like V8 juice, but its much better for you because it contains live micronutrients and no preservatives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


When the Beatles’ White Album came out, there were two old-fashioned, sentimental songs on that double set that were particularly endearing. One was called “Honey Pie”- a catchy, old-timey sounding ballad about a music hall star who makes it big in the USA while the lonesome British bloke who loves her is pleading for her to return to him back in England.

Honey pie’s instrumentation was a little unusual for the group as John Lennon played both lead and rhythm guitar tracks while George Harrison, the usual lead guitarist, played six-string bass. A clarinet was also included in that charming song.

At the time I wondered if there was such a thing as an edible honey pie, because I’d never seen an edible “cutie pie” either - but honey pie, maybe so.

After not finding it in any cookbook, I went to the library where I happened to meet a Greek-American librarian who exclaimed that honey pies are very popular in Greek cookery. They are great pies indeed but they actually should be called honey -cheese pies since they contain a lot of ricotta or cream cheese in the pie filling. What I wanted was a plain honey pie but gave up after not readily finding one.

A few months back the Tipster and I are at a garage sale where I notice a compact disk of the White Album. I picked it up and was reading the titles and when I sighted “Honey Pie” I once again thought about that pie I’d never baked.  

Am glad I did because after preparing one, I found honey pie to be a splendid pie and a treat you do not see everyday. If you like pies you are sure to enjoy this sweet delicious dessert.



1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup of sugar
¾ cup honey
3 eggs, slightly beaten
Prepared pie shell for 9 inch pie


  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Blend all ingredients except crust in a mixing bowl.
  • Pour into a prepared 9 inch pie shell
  • Bake 40 minutes and check if crust is set. If not, bake up to 10 minutes more.
  • When crust is set and filling is golden, remove from oven

You can dress up this pie by adding a meringue, see here.

For the meringue-topped honey pie, place the meringue atop the finished pie and put under the broiler briefly to barely brown the top.

If you like sweets then you will enjoy this lovely honey pie, but not too often I hope.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


There was a time which in the past I remember bean sprouts being a component of one of my oriental favourites - Eggs Foo Yung. See here. I can always get fresh mung bean sprouts and do when I prepare the Foo Yung.  The fresh are clean, crisp and fresh tasting whereas the canned have a – well, canned taste, are slightly less crunchy and include the customary added salt.

 I remember this chi-chi café which has these specialty coffees and light lunchtime salads and sandwiches, as well as pastries. It is before Starbucks is invented. One time we’re there and I get a turkey sandwich on “artisan bread” (I told you it was chi-chi). This sandwich has the eponymous turkey, a light, flavoured mayonnaise and so forth. But what makes this sandwich special is the crisp, crunchy texture along with a captivating hint of nuttiness derived from the fresh alfalfa bean sprouts contained therein.

Sprouts are alive, literally; and delicious on salads or can be steamed, sautéed (chi- chi term for “fried”) or used in stir-fried dishes.

If this isn’t enough good news, I find that fresh bean sprouts are low-calorie, full of vitamins and phytonutrients, and contain useful enzymes. Enzymes are very important because a lack of them is implicated in many diseases, including the big ones like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis etc. Along with the enzymes, there are the proteins, good (complex) carbhohydrates, essential fatty acids plus fibre. Basically, sprouts contain all the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables and for all this they are quite inexpensive.

Sprouts are very versatile. Here are just a few uses for these tender bean shoots.
  • Chop and mix with soft cheese for dips
  • Chop finely and use with sandwich spreads
  • Put into grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Put into soups and stews just before serving
  • Use in omelets
  • Mix into rice dishes

Since sprouts are so healthy, regular consumption of them is a swell idea. Here is a recipe to get you started

Fried Rice with Sprouts                               serves 4

2 tablespoons canola oil or light olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 minced cloves of garlic, or to taste
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 cup of diced or sliced mushrooms
1 cup bean sprouts
1 scrambled egg, chopped
2 cups of day-old cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce


  • Heat large skillet, add vegetable oil
  • Toss in onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms
  • Fry while stirring for 3-5 minutes
  • Stir in the sprouts, chopped scrambled egg and the prepared rice
  • Add the soy sauce
  • Cook till rice is hot

Day-old rice is best for fried rice recipes because it doesn’t stick to the skillet.

Get familiar with sprouts; they are a wonderful addition to your diet.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I buy this cookbook several years ago which enchants me as I see a very popular recipe therein. Called Steak Diane, it is all the rage in New York City restaurants back in the 1950’s and 60’s. This beefsteak makes a lovely entree but what sets it apart from other steaks is its distinct preparation technique. Like the popular Crepes Suzette, Steak Diane is a flambé dish prepared tableside on a trolley (called a gueridon). The theatrics of the tableside cooking coupled with the flaming cognac makes Steak Diane a dining sensation.

The flambé process offers a captivating demonstration for onlooking diners, but aside from that charming amusement it also improves the taste, given that ignited alcohol intensifies the sauce’s flavour. It does this through a chemical process called carmelization, which causes the sugars to undergo complex changes, whilst for our purposes results in exponentially more deliciousness. Alcohol boils in a pan at 212F but igniting it directly raises the temperature to 300F +, which in turn elevates the flavour aspect to a more celestial dimension. All right, enough already.

If you want to add some excitement to a dinner party you could serve this retro dish. Not only will your guests be enthralled by the flambéing, which they probably haven’t experienced for awhile, they will also savour the taste of this elegantly finished beefsteak. Flambeing is not complicated, but please observe basic safety considerations just as you would when lighting a fireplace or whatever. You don’t want to meet your local fire department by accident, ne c’est pas?

Adapted from Craig Claiborne of the New York Times cookbook:

Steak Diane                                       serves 4

4 (3-ounce) filet mignon medallions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon clarified butter, or:
½ tablespoon butter plus ½ tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced shallots or the white part of scallions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup sliced white mushroom caps
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup reduced beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Bring the beef to room temperature. Season the beef medallions on both sides with the salt and pepper. Let sit 5 minutes prior to cooking.

Melt the butter/oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the meat and sear for 45 seconds on the first side. Turn and cook for 45 seconds on the second side.

 Lower heat a little to prevent scorching. Add the shallots and garlic to the side of the pan and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds.
Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 minutes. Place the meat on a plate and cover to keep warm.

 Depending on how you want your steak cooked, you can use your hand to judge doneness. Take your non-dominant hand and press your index finger to your thumb. Touch with the other hand. That is how the meat should feel for cooked rare. Thumb and middle finger for medium rare, thumb and ring finger for medium and thumb and little finger for well done.

Off heat, tilt the pan towards you and add the brandy.
Tip the pan away from yourself and ignite the brandy with a match.
When the flame has burned out, add the mustard and cream.

Mix thoroughly and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the beef broth and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
Return the meat plus any accumulated juices to the pan and turn the meat to coat with the sauce.

There you have it. If it’s okay to play with matches you can make a spellbinding beef presentation that delights the eyes and the taste buds one after the other.

Steak Diane goes well with a simple sautéed potato dish or a rice pilaf. Just remember to observe caution with that open flame.

Monday, November 14, 2011


My mama used to make a tasty dessert that always sounded like “Bolla cheenta”, which is actually the Hungarian palacsinta. They were thin pancakes rolled around sweetened “pot cheese” (small-curd cottage cheese) with cinnamon and were always an extraordinary treat.

Years later I prepared palacsinta for a friend and myself and he said they were similar to Blintzes, a crepe recipe popular in Jewish cuisine. We got to talking about filled pancakes and realized they are found all over Eastern Europe with variations almost everywhere else. We agreed that the most celebrated crepe (French for “pancake”) preparation was probably Crepes Suzette.

Since I already love palacsinta, I try the Suzette variety. In the ensuing years I make it several times. Apparently I’m not the only crepe lover because all of a sudden there were cumbersome crepe-making machines everywhere and crepes became a fad.

Like all fads, the crepe craze cooled off, but not in established upscale restaurants. Crepes Suzette with its flambé preparation is always an exciting event for diners and onlookers. A trolley table is pulled up to the table and the dessert is prepared tableside.

Making crepes may be off-putting to some but are not difficult to make. It’s important to let the batter rest one or two hours in your icebox. Then the thin batter is poured into a greased pan and swirled to cover the entire pan bottom. Basically, a crepe is just a very thin cooked pancake. The first one may not come out well but the rest will.

The Suzette variation has flavourings and orange brandy is poured over the crepes and ignited. Crepes Suzette with the flamboyant flambé technique and the luscious taste of the crepes combine to make a spectacular dessert.

If you love desserts and are looking for something out of the ordinary with an entertaining presentation, I urge you to try this regal dish, supposedly invented in 1895 when served to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII of England.

Here is my recipe, adapted from the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

Crepes Suzette                                        serves 4

1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Light olive or canola oil for oiling pans
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish, optional
Orange wedges, for garnish, optional

·        Mix the flour, eggs, milk and salt in an electric blender or with a wire whisk briefly, until smooth.
·        Add the melted butter and blend to combine.
·        Put the batter in the icebox for at least one hour. This is important.

4 tablespoons fresh unsalted butter, separated into four pieces for even melting
3 tablespoons sugar
Grated rind and juice of two oranges
1/3 cup of Cointreau orange liqueur

In a large wide skillet, melt the butter. Just when it is melted, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in the rind and the juice and bring to a simmer. Adjust flame to very low, or shut off until ready to serve the crepes.


Use a 6-inch skillet, lightly oiled using a paper towel, over medium heat.
Pour slightly less than ¼ cup of batter into the pan and swirl until fully coated.
Cook about a minute, watch the top get dry.
Turn and cook about 10 seconds.
Put each cooked crepe on a platter
The batter is thin like cream, if it gets thick thin with a little milk.
Make sure skillet is ready for each crepe by wiping with the oily paper towel.


Fold each individual crepe in half and put 2 at a time in the warm sauce. With tongs or a spatula, quickly fold crepes in half again. Repeat until all crepes have been added. Work rapidly so all the crepes can absorb the sauce equally.

Warm liqueur briefly in a small pan and pour over all the crepes in the skillet. Do not pour directly from the bottle.
With a wooden match or a long match, ignite the liquer. Remove the skillet from the heat.
The flame will burn for about a minute. When it’s all burnt and the alcohol is evaporated, put the crepes on dessert plates. Dust gently with the confectioners sugar (you could pour some through a strainer) and garnish with the orange slices.
If you prefer, you can certainly omit the alcohol flambe and the dessert will still be excellent. You could add a dash of orange extract to the sauce. Either way, try some Crepes Suzette, a grand old classic.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Chickpeas, aka Ceci or Garbanzo beans, are one of the earliest foods of the human diet. Falafel, its most popular preparation is vastly popular all over the Middle East. Besides being a wonderful meat replacement for vegetarians, falafel is just plain good groceries no matter how you use it; either as a delicious sandwich in pita bread or as a wonderful meatball substitute with tomato sauce.

Traditionally, falafel is made from ground-up, soaked, dry chickpeas. Falafel vendors selling this street food are ubiquitous in Egypt and Israel and plenty of other places nowadays. Even McDonalds, the hamburger chain, sells falafel in many places, where they are called “McFalafel”.

After cooking, the tasty falafel is put into pita bread with a cooling creamy sauce, or a tahini sauce. It is one very delicious sandwich.

Two things to ensure ease of preparation are:
  1. Be sure to soak the dried beans, covered with plenty of water, for 20-24 hours.
  2. Prior to shaping and cooking, thoroughly chill the falafel mixture for at least one hour.

Here is a traditional recipe I adapted from Tyler Florence.

FALAFEL                                                  serves 8


2 cups (500ml) dried chickpeas, picked through and rinsed
1 (5ml) teaspoon baking powder          
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed

 1 tablespoon (15ml) powdered cumin
 ½ tablespoon (7ml) powdered coriander
 ¼ teaspoon (1ml) red pepper flakes or to taste

 ½ cup (125ml) of fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
 ¼ cup (60ml) of fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped

 Salt and black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying
8 warm pita breads cut in half.
Tahini sauce or a cucumber tzatziki sauce is real tasty
Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers


Put the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and add cool water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the beans in the refrigerator for between 20 to 24 hours. This soaking is important. Rinse and drain thoroughly.

Put the soaked chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to coarsely grind, with no whole chickpeas remaining.

Add the baking powder, onion, garlic, spices, and herbs; process until the mixture is pureed; scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and be sure to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Pour 3-4 inches of oil in a deep fryer or deep heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees F (190C). If using the pot, a thermometer is very useful.

Roll all the falafel mixture into balls 1 ½ inches in diameter. Carefully slip a few at a time into the hot oil, making sure they don't stick to the bottom. Fry until the fritters are a crusty dark brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Remove the falafels and drain on a rack or platter lined with paper towels.

Open the pita bread halves carefully to make pockets and put 4 fried falafels into each. Drizzle with the sauce and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Serve immediately.

Tzatziki sauce:

2 cups (500ml) thick Greek-style yoghurt
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ (2ml) teaspoon salt
¼ (1ml) teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ (60ml) cup chopped fresh mint leaves or one tablespoon (15ml) dried
1 large cucumber - peeled, seeded and shredded

Combine all in a food processor and blend thoroughly. Let chill 30 minutes. If you choose to use this, prepare it just before you make the falafel.

Falafel is a very tasty food, and goes great in a pita pocket. Try it, you’ll like it.

Monday, October 31, 2011


We go to help our granddaughter conduct a yard sale recently and stop at a supermarket for a few groceries. While there my BW spots a sale on pita bread and we buy some.

So yesterday she wants her breakfast and requests the oft asked for cheese eggs. I said “OK” and then she says “with mushrooms”. I’m almost out of the room but said “OK”. Approaching the kitchen I faintly hear her say “and tomatoes”. I holler back” OK”. I’m getting out the equipment and in a few moments she glides into the kitchen adroitly and asks for bacon with it. I said “OK”, and as she leaves the kitchen she deftly pivots and asks for a little chopped raw red onion on it and to have it in pita bread. I said “OK” as I got some more groceries from the icebox. I double checked the order with her and proceeded to prepare it.

She loves the delightfully pleasant aromatic sandwich and raves about the superb taste. I want to share this with you because if the Education Tipster likes it (with her discriminating taste), you probably will too.

Pita Breakfast Sandwich                     serves one


1 loaf of pita bread
2 eggs, beaten
2 slices bacon cooked crisply
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ tomato diced
1 slice red onion, diced
½ cup shredded Asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the bacon, put a screen over the skillet and lay the pitas on it to gently warm them
While the bacon is crisping, shred the cheese and dice the tomato and onion. Put them in a bowl

Slice the mushrooms, add to the bowl and divide the pita bread into two halves
Open the pita halves like a taco shell

 In a warm skillet over medium heat, containing a little bacon fat, or butter, or light olive oil, put in the beaten eggs
Evenly distribute the cheese, tomato, mushrooms and crumbled bacon atop the eggs

Add salt and pepper

After a few moments you’ll see the eggs setting a little at the edges lift up some edges and let egg run underneath. Start scrambling the entire mixture until it is fully cooked.

Put half of the eggs into each pita half and top with the red onion.

It’s not an egg  Mac’muffin, it’s much better.

Friday, October 21, 2011


After a nice meal, formal or casual, how about a wonderful light dessert that not only looks chic but tastes divine?  A traditional Italian dessert that is just as elegant as it is easy to make and vice versa. You probably already have the groceries in your cupboard to prepare this dessert.

Egg yolks and sugar, a little wine and you possess the makings for zabaglione (Za Ba Yoan).

 Right off the stove, you can put zabaglione on fresh fruit or over cake, ice cream or flaky pastry.  You could even serve it by itself in an attractive glass.

Zabaglione has a long history, dating back to 16th century Florence, Italy during the time of the Medici’s. The original proto-zabaglione was a beverage such as ale or wine thickened with egg yolks. . Since the 1960's, restaurants in North American who serve large Italian populations usually serve Zabaglione  with strawberries, blueberries or peaches in a champagne saucer glass.

A modern zabaglione consists of egg yolks, sugar, a sweet wine like Marsala, and perhaps orange zest (or lemon zest) all whisked over low heat until beginning to thicken and then served up. This tasty treat is easy, elegant and a versatile finale to any meal.

Zabaglione dessert is popular in France where it is known as Sabayon and in Venezuela and Colombia (sabajon or sambayon). Argentina has a popular zabaglione flavoured ice cream in shops everywhere.

The finished Zabaglione can be served hot or cold. It can be used as is, as a sauce, or as the basis for other dishes such as a mousse. It is, however, most often served warm.

Zabaglione                             serves 4

5 large egg yolks

¼ cup (60ml) sugar
½ cup (125ml) Marsala wine
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine

I like to add a drop of vanilla extract

If you want to you can add these.
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon


Use a pan with a heavy bottom or use a double broiler

  • Put the egg yolks in top of a double boiler (bain marie).  Beat this either with a hand-held electric or a manual rotary beater until it is a pale yellow colour and creamy.

  • Install the double boiler top over but not touching simmering water on low heat.

  • Slowly, beat in half of the Marsala wine into the egg yolks, and beat for one minute.

  • Gradually beat in the rest of the Marsala and then the white wine and vanilla extract.

  • Make sure that the flame is low, especially if not using double boiler.

  • Continue cooking the custard over the simmering water, beating continually.

  • Scrape down the sides of the pan often, until the blend is fluffy and thick enough to form soft mounds when dropped from the beaters. This takes about seven or eight minutes.

  • Keep an eye on this so that you do not overcook.

  • When you get those fluffy mounds, take the double boiler top off the bottom part.

  • Whisk this custard for a short time.

  • Transfer to individual serving bowls or glasses and serve immediately, perhaps with fruit. You can decorate it with whipped cream if you like, or shaved chocolate.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


 What could be more exciting on an autumn Saturday afternoon than crisp clean weather, colourful foliage, college football, the conviviality between good friends, and special zesty tailgate party foods?  Maybe re-cataloguing your Rick Springfield record collection? Forget about it.When you pull into a stadium parking lot for a tailgate party, you can feel the excitement in the air, smell those lovely aromas and view the painted faces as fans all congregate, setting up their grills and getting their vittles ready.

About one- third of tailgaters don’t even watch the game, they just love the food and the camaraderie. Game day tailgating is like a picnic with intense excitement.

If you’re in charge of the food, remember that you want to enjoy yourself too and not be
chained to the tailgate.Therefore a simple plan is best. Bring some already prepared
favourites with the grillables. Keep it straightforward but don’t sacrifice taste. Do as
much prep work the day before as possible and on game day you can have a blast with
the other tailgaters.

 Food safety is imperative. Remember to keep cold foods cold and hot stuff hot. Make sure you transport your grill and your fuel safely. Set it up away from vehicles and your seating area and make sure the surface is level. Keep water or a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies. Don’t walk away from the grill, and remember to dispose of your charcoal safely.

In addition to the food, don’t forget the fixin’s; assorted condiments, disposable tableware, implements as well as paper towels and a couple of garbage bags. Don’t forget ice and beverages.

Here are a couple suggestions for your tailgating excursion:


 Mac ‘n Cheese

Hot spicy meatballs and sauce for sandwiches or with toothpicks

A favourite of mine for tailgating (or anytime) is: Jambalaya. This complex flavoured, delicious meal in a bowl will make your taste buds glad to be alive.Tailgate with this delectable dish and you might need security to help keep the hoardes of people, intoxicated from the aroma, from devouring the whole thing.

Jambalaya             serves 8-10


3 tablespoons lard, bacon fat or vegetable oil
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb smoked sausage (such as Kielbasa) diced
1 lb ham, sliced and diced
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning; your choice or one I use:

3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell pepper (capsicum)
1 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned is fine)

2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 15ounce can tomato puree
2 bay leaves
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 cups of raw rice


  • Fry the meats in the fat for about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the seasoning.
  • Add the vegetables and cook till soft.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except seasoning and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes and taste for seasoning, adding remainder if desired.
  • Taste rice, if not quite tender, cook a few more minutes, adding water if needed

Refrigerate until you get ready to go. Re-heat in oven or microwave and bring to the stadium already hot.  If you use a cast iron dutch oven, put it on the grill to keep hot.

This is a dish everyone loves and a great meaty side dish for grilled meat. You can adjust the seasoning and of course add hot sauce on each individual serving. I personally like dried crushed red pepper on a bowl of this great concoction.

You could add one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp after 10 minutes of simmering if you want to; just use a little more water or stock in this case.

No matter what foods you choose to use when tailgating, this exciting time of year makes them especially mouth-watering. Try this Jambalaya; even if you don’t like football you can still have a good time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


How much pride would you feel if you and your spouse were sitting in the living room and all of a sudden your child burst in like gangbusters holding a big award with a mile-wide smile on his or her face?

Well, that’s what happened to Shelby the squirrel’s parents in Kathy Stemke’s newest children’s book: “Trouble on Earth Day”. Shelby crashes through the front door waving her first prize ribbon for winning the Earth Day poster contest.  She shows her parents the big poster with the words Rethink, Reuse and Recycle on it. Soon the whole family gets involved with recycling household items.

Shelby hears a homeless bluebird crying in the forest and sets out to help him. The workmen had cut down the bird’s tree and nest. Can Shelby help his new friend and the Earth too?

This wonderful book makes possible a three way dialogue between parents, teachers and students about conserving the Earth’s natural resources; done in a simple to understand fun way.

Besides the whimsical tale featuring Shelby the squirrel, there is a big 22 page supplemental activity section featuring songs, recycling crafts, worksheets, games, and even compound word activities.

Teachers and home-schoolers everywhere will appreciate the vibrant discussions on trees, birds and recycling materials; facilitating the exposition of knowledge to children in a positive, caring manner.

Included in this delightfully interesting book is a history of Earth Day, which will reinforce the young scholars’ understanding of the value of environmental responsibility.

“Trouble on Earth Day” by Kathy Stemke is a fabulous tool for educators and parents, sure to instill superb solid values in young people.

Now what would Shelby’s favorite meal be? One food that always seems to get recycled, to the delight of all, is that big roasted turkey.

Recycled Turkey Hash                                                  serves 6

Adapted from Eating Well for a Healthy Heart Cookbook (2008)

·         2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
·         1 medium apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
·         1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         1 tablespoon canola oil
·         1 medium onion, chopped
·         3 cups diced, cooked, skinless recycled turkey
·          1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
·         ½ teaspoon powdered sage
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         Black pepper to taste

  • Cover sweet potatoes with salted water, bring to boil
  • Lower flame and cook it for 3 minutes
  • Add the apple and cook 2 minutes, check for tenderness
  • If not tender, cook a little more, but avoid mushiness
  • Put one cup of mixture into a large bowl and mash it
  • Stir in the sour cream and lemon juice
  • Add the remaining unmashed mixture and stir to combine, then set aside

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium flame
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring until tender, 2-3 minutes
  • Add the recycled poultry, thyme, sage, salt and pepper
  • Cook, stirring as needed until heated through. Perhaps 2 minutes
  • Check that nothing sticks, perhaps add a little more oil

  • Add the reserved sweet potato mixture to the skillet, stirring thoroughly, then let sit
  • Press down on the hash with a sturdy metal spatula
  • Cook until the bottom has a browned crust, about 3 minutes
  • Cut the hash into sections so as to flip the entire hash over
  • Cook until that side is brown, about 3 more minutes

This fragrant delicious turkey hash is now ready to serve. Tuck in and enjoy it. Many folks like this for a breakfast meal with poached or fried eggs atop the hash.  But don’t worry about it, this hash is good anytime.          
Shelby’s mom says to save that turkey carcass, because you can make an excellent broth with it. This broth is great for soup, to boil rice in or cook soaked dried beans in. Shelby’s dad says this is a win-win deal, and don’t forget to put those peels and vegetable and fruit trimmings in your compost bin.

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