Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Step-by-Step Homemade MMMMMadeleines!

What are madeleines?  Not everyone knows what they are exactly.  Are they cakes or cookies?  Well, these shell-shaped confections are actually traditional French cakes.  You can find them for sale in bakeries all over France.  Here, they are not so easy to come by.  To be honest, the only place I have seen them for sale is at Starbucks, in sealed packages of three.  I've tried them; they're good, but  nothing can ever compare to the taste of fresh home-baked madeleines!

Last week I baked up a batch of madeleines and today I am sharing the recipe here!  You won't believe how easy they are to make; even the most inexperienced baker won't find it too daunting. I've adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz, a world-renowned American pastry chef and author, currently residing in Paris.  You can find the recipe for his glazed lemon madeleines in his wonderful book, The Sweet Life in Paris!


makes 24 individual cakes


9 tablespoons(135g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more melted butter for preparing the molds
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
11/4 cups(175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of one small lemon 


First you will need to find yourself a 12 cavity madeleine pan. I bought my Wilton pan a few years ago; I can't remember where.  I do know that Amazon carries a wide variety of them at very reasonable prices.


Dip a pastry brush in melted butter and brush the cavities of the mold very thoroughly.  Add a small amount of flour to each cavity and shake around until the entire pan is dusted.  Tap off the excess flour.

Important: Place the madeleine pan in your freezer for at least one hour before baking!

STEP 2  

In a mixer bowl, blend the eggs, sugar, and salt at medium speed for approximately 5 minutes. 


Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.  Using a spatula, gently fold the sifted mixture into the batter, little by little, just until combined.


Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter.  Fold the butter into the batter, a couple tablespoons at a time, just until incorporated. You do not want to overwork the batter!


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or a maximum of twelve hours.

*For best results, freeze the prepared madeleine pan for one hour and refrigerate the batter for one hour, as well.

STEP 6  

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.


Plop 1 tablespoon of batter into the center of each cavity.
The batter will be thick and sticky.  
DO NOT spread the dough!  It should spread out evenly as it bakes.


Place pan in preheated oven on center rack, Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

Mine were done in exactly ten minutes, but every oven differs, so keep an eye on them.  If you touch the top of a madeleine with your finger and it springs back, then they're done!


Remove the madeleines from the pan and allow them to cool on a rack.


Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and try eating just one.  I'll bet you won't be able to manage it!

These are just divine accompanied with a cup of coffee or tea...even a tall glass of milk. MMMM!

I'm curious.  How many of you have eaten madeleines before?  Where? When?  Have you or someone you know baked madeleines at home?  Please share your thoughts. Don't be shy.  Stop in and say hello!  I love to read your comments!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Apron Collection

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday!  Brrr!  It's so cold here in Barrie today! It's currently -15 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit!  You wouldn't know it by looking out the window, though.  The sky is a cloudless blue, the sun is shining bright,  and the snow on the ground is sparkling!  I am happy to enjoy the view from inside today.

 Did you know that I have a thing for aprons?  Not only do I collect aprons,  I also love to wear them.  I have acquired quite a collection over the years. If you happen to knock at my door in the evening, chances are, you will find me wearing an apron whilst preparing dinner.

An apron always hangs on this hook on the side of my kitchen hutch. The one pictured here with the Eiffel tower print is the latest addition to my collection.  It 's a birthday gift from a dear friend who apparently knows me very well! 

I thought it would be fun to show you a few of my favourite aprons in my collection.

This is a waist apron (or half apron) from Laura Ashley.  I love the floral print and soft blue color!

The one on the left is a Jessie Steele red/white polka-dot bib apron.  The half-apron on the right was a thoughtful gift from a friend who visited  Disney Land Park in California and knew how much I would appreciate it!

I love the darling ruffle detail and the Minnie Mouse applique on the front pocket! 

This pretty Cath Kidston half apron came all the way across the pond!

This apron holds a special place in my heart.  It was handmade by one of my friends! Isn't it beautiful?

Look at the detail of the pocket here!  So much work and love went into the making of this apron.  That is why I treasure it so!

Last but not least, is this vintage little half apron.  I love how dainty it looks.  My mother bought this one for me a couple of years ago on one of our thrift shop outings together.  

Although I adore the delightful half aprons, I don't wear them nearly as much.  When I cook, I like to cover up, so I always reach for a bib apron, as it offers more coverage!

Here's a sweet apron poem I found online...

Mother's Apron

It hangs there on the kitchen wall, 
A tattered apron, that is all,
But there is something I recall, 
The love when Mother wore it.

From early morn 'till setting sun, 
Her work, it seems, was never done,
Us children kept her on the run, 
That apron, I adore it.

It tells of when I tried to flee,
When chased by angry bumble bees, 
And then my Mother rescued me, 
And in the process tore it.

It tells of when I stayed home ill, 
With burning fever, then a chill,
And on her apron, tonic spilled, 
Because I tried to pour it.

My mother had no fancy clothes,
With satin ribbons, lace or bows, 
But in that apron love she showed, 
And we could not ignore it.

And now it hangs upon the wall, 
What looked so large, appears so small, 
A mem'ry since I learned to crawl,
I know now why she wore it.
by David Ronald Bruce Pekrul

Do any of you collect aprons, too?  Do you wear an apron when you cook?  Or do you wear one all the time?  Maybe you don't like aprons at all!  I'd love to know.  Leave me your comments below!  

Keep cozy and enjoy the rest of your week! xo

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy January, Happy New Year!

Hello friends!  It feels good to be back after several weeks since my last post.   Let me begin by wishing you a very happy new year!  I do hope 2015 is off to a great start for all of you!

I want to say a big thank you to my blog friends and followers who come to visit every once in a while,  read my posts, and take the time to leave a comment.  Your comments make me smile!  They let me know that yes indeed, there are people out there who enjoy reading what I post!  So, again, thank you for your friendship and support this past year.  I hope to see a lot more of you in 2015. My world is a happier place with you in it! 

Are you curious as to what I have been up to these past few weeks?   Well, let me show you! 

December is a very busy month for our family.  Both my husband and I celebrate our birthdays in December, and of course there's Christmas, and the holidays!  Those two precious weeks of Christmas holidays are my favourite time of the year.  My husband tries to schedule the same time off  work as our girls have from school, so that we are all home together for Christmas break.  Lucky for us, it worked out perfectly this year! 

My darling husband, Nuno, celebrated his birthday on the 14th of December!  I baked him his favourite cake, Victoria Sponge (filled with homemade buttercream and raspberry jam) and decorated it with vintage cake toppers - evergreen trees, chopped wood and an axe, He recently taken on a new hobby - collecting and restoring old axes - so it was the perfect theme for his cake!

These are some of the presents waiting to be open on Christmas day.  Isn't the tree skirt beautiful?  I especially love the ruffled edge!  I had been searching for a red/white gingham tree skirt but to no avail.  One of my dear friends found one and mailed it all the way from the USA to my door!  How lucky am I?

And this is what Christmas morning looked like at our house!  These were the first gifts my girls wanted to open - their gifts to each other.  Annabel bought Peter Pan for her sister with her savings (Anita LOVES Peter Pan) and Anita bought her little sister this giant Mickey Mouse stuffy because "Mom, she always hugs it whenever she walks into The Disney Store!".

This is me with my husband and my girls celebrating my 38th birthday in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  This is where I spend my birthday most years.  It's my favourite little getaway! A place that's far enough away, but close enough to home.  Niagara-on-the-Lake is a couple hours drive from where we live and has become a much anticipated birthday tradition for all of us!

This is the famous gazebo situated at Queens Royal Park, overlooking Lake Ontario.  On clear days, you can see the CN Tower and the Toronto skyline across the water! Many couples choose to perform their wedding ceremonies here.  Isn't it romantic?  This gazebo was actually built for a movie filmed in the 80s, called Dead Zone,  When the movie was finished, the gazebo was donated to the town.  Whenever I visit NOTL, I always stop here to take a picture.  

This is Queen Street and in the center is the Memorial Clock Tower/Cenotaph .  This heritage district has plenty of shops, one-of-kind boutiques, galleries, and eateries.  It's quaint, historic, romantic, and I fall more in love with it each time I visit!  I took this photo before the sun came up, around 6:30 am on a frosty morning stroll through the deserted streets. 

This is the lovely hotel where we stayed for two nights.  It's our second time staying here, and we hope to visit again soon! 

I will leave you with one last photo.   I took this shot the morning before we left for home.  As you can see, it started to snow!  Niagara-on-the-Lake always looks so magical in the snow.  The snowflakes fell fast and furious and within minutes, everything was covered in white.  I couldn't resist taking a photo at the corner of King and Queen Street where the glorious Prince of Wales hotel lies.  Isn't it a beautiful scene?  It was pure magic!

Here's wishing you a magical 2015!  May this new year fill our homes with love, peace, joy, and laughter!  Happy January, friends, and happy new year! 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Step-by-Step Recipe for No Knead Bread

Earlier this week, my husband asked me if I had ever heard of "no knead bread".  I had not, so I went online and rummaged through recipes for this type of bread.  I found the recipes all very similar in ingredients and directions.  The method is so simple and straightforward (no kneading required), I decided to give this homemade bread a try.  Boy, am I ever glad I did! It was SO EASY to prepare and the bread turned out absolutely perfect!  It's light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Several friends asked me for the recipe, so I am sharing it on here with you today!  Enjoy!


3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups lukewarm water 


In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, dry yeast, and water.  Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. 

The dough will look ragged and messy, just like this.  

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the dough sit, untouched, for 15-20 hours.

After 15 hours, the dough will look like this - sticky and bubbly.


Sprinkle flour on your counter top and empty out the dough (using a wet spatula) onto the floured surface.  With floured hands,shape the dough into a ball, and with seam side down, 

Place the dough ball in a a large bowl lined with a clean tea towel.  

Fold over the tea towel to cover the dough.  Let the dough sit for another 2 hours.

After 1 hour and a half, place an empty, covered dutch oven in a cold oven.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let the pot sit in there for 30 minutes.

Once dough has sat for two hours, uncover it.  

Remove pot from the oven.  Empty the dough from the tea towel into the preheated pot.  
Wiggle the pot to even out the dough. Cover with lid and bake in the 450F oven for 30 minutes.

Now remove the lid and bake for 15 minutes longer.  The crust should be a golden brown and crisp.  Remove pot from the oven.  

Carefully remove the bread from the pot onto a cooling rack.  

Cool for several minutes (if you can stand the wait!).

Slice the bread and serve warm...

...slathered with oodles of yummy butter!  

And that's it!  Isn't it wonderful?  So simple to make, and so good!

Have any of you baked this type of bread before?  Do you bake bread at home?   If you plan to give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think.   I always love reading your comments!  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Canadian American Thanksgiving!

This past Thursday, we celebrated an American Thanksgiving at our house!  I started this tradition a couple of years ago because I had yet to cook a Thanksgiving meal for my family. Every year, my mother roasts the turkey and hosts our Canadian Thanksgiving at her house. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October. It's tradition and we wouldn't have it any other way!  She has been cooking our Thanksgiving meal ever since I can remember.  She prepares the turkey, stuffing and potatoes in a typical Portuguese fashion and boy, oh boy, is it ever delicious! 

Sooo, a couple of years ago, I decided to have a go at roasting my very own turkey.  I also made  traditional fixings like sweet potatoes, sage stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce.  Well, it was such a hit, we now look forward to sharing the holiday with our American neighbors every year.  

Do you know what this means?  It means we get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice!  Two Thanksgivings?!  Yes, please!  

Here are a few highlights (and a couple of recipes) from our Thanksgiving dinner...

Thanksgiving Table

I set the table while listening to the Macy's Day Parade on T.V.  I was too busy with preparations to watch it all, so I recorded it to watch the following day!  

I absolutely love these brass alphabet napkin rings I bought from Indigo bookstore!  We each had our own initial!  The striped napkins I bought (brand new in their package) at a garage sale over the summer, as well as the crystal wine glasses!  :)

Sage Stuffing

Drying the loaf bread in the oven...

Sauteeing onions and celery in butter...

Sage stuffing is ready for the oven!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce


3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water


Wash cranberries.  Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Boil for 5 minutes (stirring once in a while). Add cranberries and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  As the cranberry sauce cools, it will thicken.  Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Marshmallow-stuffed Sweet Potato Balls

These sweet potato balls were inspired by a recipe from the mother of a dear friend of mine, Nancy Sussan.  I made them for the first time two years ago following her recipe exactly and used an entire large marshmallow in the center. This time, I cut the large marshmallows in half and in turn, it rendered smaller sweet potato balls.  These are very easy to make and they're so delicious! 


4 large sweet potatoes
6 large marshmallows (cut in half) 
2-3 cupscorn flake crumbs 


Roast sweet potatoes on a foil-lined cookie sheet in a 400 degree F oven for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour (or until tender).  Allow them to cool.  

Peel and mash the sweet potatoes.  You can add butter, brown sugar, etc and season them to your liking.  I find that sweet potatoes are sweet enough on their own, so I simply add cinnamon.  

Next, take half a marshmallow and form a ball around it with the mashed sweet potatoes.  Roll the balls in the corn flake crumbs. 

Place the sweet potato balls in an oven-safe pan or dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.  Careful not to over-bake them, or the marshmallows will pop!


Wash your hands after you roll each ball.  They will get sticky!

It's more affordable to buy Corn Flakes cereal and crush the flakes yourself, than to buy the pre-crushed flakes. 

Let's Eat!!!

My world is sitting right here at this table!  I have so much to be thankful for!

And of course, we saved room for dessert...

Pumpkin Pie!

I made mini pumpkin pies - one for each of us!  We were absolutely stuffed!  

I hope my American girlfriends (you know who you are) had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  I'm so thankful that I could share this special day with you!  Now it's time to prepare for Christmas!  Can you believe it's almost December?  Where did November go?