Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

Today is my mum's birthday and I made some cinnamon buns for a treat.  I also took a few to my neighbour, Doug who was sweet enough to notice that my front steps needed repaired and volunteered to do the job.  I'm lucky to have so many nice friends and family members.

I'm trying to improve my health so I trimmed the fat and sugar in this recipe.  I found I actually liked the pared down version better.


1/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter
1 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of warm water
1 Tbsp of yeast
2 eggs
4 cups of all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of butter
3/4 cup of  brown sugar
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1 Tbsp of cinnamon

Start by heating the milk, butter, white sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Once butter has melted, take off the heat and cool.

Proof your yeast - mix warm water, yeast and a teaspoon of sugar.  Once it starts to bubble, you're ready.

Stir the eggs into the milk mixture (make sure it's cool or you have scrambled eggs!).  Add to the yeast with 4 cups of flour.  I used my Kitchenaid - otherwise, you will need to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.

Place a teaspoon of oil into a large bowl and roll the ball of dough around and cover with a clean teatowel.  It will need to rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour and a half).

Melt the butter.  Roll the dough out to a 16 by 16 square.  Cut in half and brush a little butter on top.  Stir half the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix the other half with the cinnamon.  

Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top of the dough.  

You can either sprinkle the nuts on top of the dough or on top of the syrup.  This time, I put the nuts in the topping.  Spray the rectangular cake pan with non-stick spray and spread the syrup mixture over the bottom.

Roll up the dough.
Cut into 2 inch slices.
Arrange in pan.
Cover with towel.
Let rise 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Invert on a large platter or cookie sheet.

Voila and Bon Appetit!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Red Pepper Jelly

I got a good deal at Costco so I decided to make red pepper jelly.  While dinner was in the oven tonight, I whipped up a double batch of jelly.  The recipe below is for a single batch which makes about 6 small jars.


2 cups of finely ground red peppers
(2 large or 4 small peppers)
5 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 envelope of liquid Certo

Wash the peppers and cut into chunks (make sure to remove all seeds and ribs).  Put them in a food processor and pulse until ground but small pieces still visible.  Stop at least once to clean the sides of the bowl and push any larger chunks down.

Combine the peppers, sugar and vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.  
Stir and boil for 5 minutes.  Keep your eyes on it so it doesn't boil over.  Then take it off the heat, cover the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes. (All the while you should be sterilizing your jars - see my recipe for chili sauce and it will give you detailed instructions).

Add the lemon juice and boil 5 more minutes.  Then remove from the heat and add an envelope of Certo.  Stir well and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  Skim the foam off the top and then bottle in sterilized jars.

The foam is neon orange.  Once the top is clear of foam you can bottle the jelly.

I love to use red pepper jelly spooned over a small brick of plain cream cheese and served with crackers.  It makes a tasty, quick appetizer.  It is also nice to add a big spoon to a stir-fry or glaze a chicken breast with some jelly.   It is very versatile and easy to make - a great hostess gift.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Creme Caramel

Here's tonight's dessert.  Sorry for the quality of the picture but it really tasted good.  I think my camera is on its' last legs - most of my photos come out as "invalid photo".  Creme caramel is my favourite dessert of all time.  You do need to master a couple of cooking methods but it is actually a very simple thing to make.  You will need a large pan like a roast pan, a kettle and 6 ramekins.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


1 cup of milk
1 cup of cream
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Start by making your caramel.  You will need a heavy metal pot over med-high heat.  Add sugar and water to the pot and bring to a boil.  DO NOT STIR.  You need to gently shake the pan to mix the sugar and water.  Stirring will cause it to crystallize before you get caramel.  If the syrup splashes up the side of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to brush it back down so it doesn't burn.

Caramel is the last stage of boiling sugar syrup.  Or at least it is the last stage before a burned sugar mess.  I've had a couple of those myself so you really want to keep your eye on your sugar.  Caramel is very very hot so be very careful not to get any of it on your skin.  Watch the sugar boil.  At first it will boil rapidly and then the bubbles start to break more slowly as the sugar turns amber.  Once it is a deep amber colour, take it off the heat and let the boiling stop.  It will continue to darken.  If it burns, you can't save it.  You have to start again.

Spoon the caramel into the bottom of 6 ramekins.

Now for the custard - gently scald the milk and cream (and vanilla) by just bringing it to a light boil.  In a bowl, beat your eggs, sugar and salt.  Slowly add the milk to the eggs - a little hot milk at a time or you will get scrambled eggs.  Strain the custard into the ramekins and place 5 of them in a pan.  Then pour boiling water into the pan so it reaches halfway up the ramekins.  Finally add the last one to the pan and very carefully place in the oven.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  The custard should still look a little jiggly on top when they come out.  Cool them on a rack for a bit and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To serve, you need to warm the caramel again. Boil water again and put the ramekins back into boiling water for 15 minutes or so.  Wipe the water off the bottom of the ramekin, place a dessert plate on top and quickly flip.  You will have a nice golden topping of caramel over your custard.