Category Archives: recipes

How about a little spice in your life?

Thought I’d best get a post up before I lose the last of my faithful readers. I’ve been busy working on a submission for a quilt exhibition and it’s taken all of my attention for the last couple of weeks. Or so it seems. I was able to take a little time to try a new dessert recipe that I’d like to share. It was a little fiddly to put together, but very tasty so I hope you’ll give it a try.  I found the recipe on the Eating Well website. I wanted to try it because I like chocolate mousse (which it is sort of like chocolate pudding), and I have chile powder from New Mexico in my cupboard. The bite from the chile is subtle but oh so interesting.

chile spiked chocolate mousse

Red Chile Pepper Spiked Chocolate Mousse


    • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    • 4 tablespoons water, divided
    • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons mild-to-medium New Mexican red chile powder, plus more for garnish
    • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 4 egg whites
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


    1. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; set aside.
    2. Combine cocoa, granulated sugar, chile powder, espresso powder and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk in egg, then milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until steaming and just beginning to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the softened gelatin, chocolate and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated.
    3. Beat egg whites, brown sugar and cream of tartar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed just until firm peaks form.
    4. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold in the remaining egg whites until fully incorporated. Spoon the mousse into 8 dessert glasses or cups.
    5. Chill the mousse until set, at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with chile powder, if desired.
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Oh Yumm! Preserved Lemons!

I’ve meant to make preserved lemons for several months – as long as Meyer lemons have been at the grocery store. But when their season was coming to an end, I knew I had to get busy. Preserved lemons are super easy to prepare, so much so that I feel like an idiot for not getting them done sooner. Here are a few photos of my endeavour:

washed Meyer lemons cut Meyer lemons lemon prep mostly packed jar finished jars of lemons

There are numerous recipes for making preserved lemons, but they are all basically the same – lemons, salt, lemon juice. I decided to use this recipe from Epicurious for a couple of jars and I did one with no additional spices. You can use regular lemons, but Meyer lemons have a thinner skin and apparently most closely approximate the flavor of Moroccan lemons.

Preserved Lemons

5 lemons

¼ c. Kosher salt

additional freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 cinnamon stick

5 or 6 coriander seeds

3 or 4 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1. Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit.

2. Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of the mason jar. Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt, and the optional spices between layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. If the juice released from the squashed fruit does not cover them, add freshly squeezed lemon juice. Leave some air space before sealing the jar.

3. Let the lemons ripen in a warm place, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. Let ripen for 30 days. To use, rinse the lemons, as needed, under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired — and there is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to a year, and the pickling juice can be used two or three times over the course of a year.

Here’s a blog listing suggestions for using preserved lemons. I remember making a pound cake that used them as well and I’ll have to find that recipe to share.

In 30 days I’ll be trying a few new recipes. I hope you will too.


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Green Tea Shortbread

I failed dismally when I tried to come up with a clever name for this post. So instead of wasting any more time looking for something that isn’t ever going to appear, I’ll take the straight forward approach. Here’s a recipe I found on Martha Stewart, and have since located similar versions in a web search. I love the flavor of Matcha tea ice cream, so the idea of cookies with a similar flavor really appealed to me. I tried them twice. The dough is a vibrant green color, but it fades somewhat during baking. The first time I baked them enough to colour to slightly bronze, but the second time I shortened the baking time so the cookies just started to colour. Either way they were very tasty. If you like shortbread and you’d like to broaden your baking repertoire, I suggest you give these a try. Enjoy!

Green Tea Shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Matcha green-tea powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Sift flour, tea powder, and salt into a small bowl; set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar; continue to beat until very light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add flour mixture; combine on low, scraping sides of bowl with a spatula if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.
Place a piece of parchment on a clean surface; dust with flour. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness; chill in refrigerator or freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Cut chilled dough with chosen cutters.
Using a wide spatula, transfer to baking sheets. Chill until firm.
Gather scraps together, re-roll, chill, and cut shapes.
Bake until firm and barely starting to color, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool completely on wire rack; store in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 weeks.cutting out cookies cookies ready to bake cookies in the oven baked cookieslots of cookies

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Someone Takes the Cake

Recently I baked a cake to donate to a charity auction fund-raiser for the Good Samaritans. This particular event supports women in India who are trained to use sewing as a means of supporting their families. When they graduate from their studies, they are given a sewing machine, and money from the auction helps purchase those machines. Talk about a good reason to bake!

Last year I donated a large platter of assorted cookies, but this year I hadn’t even started Christmas baking before the event. I decided that a cake would be a suitable substitute, and I found a recipe that I’d been anxious to try. I was unable to taste the cake (didn’t think it would look good to take a slice, even if it was a small one!) but the batter that stuck to the beater was delicious. I mean dreamy delicious. I will be baking this again. So, here is my Espresso Gingerbread Cake, recipe compliments of Fine Cooking.cake cake 2 wrapped cakeThe cake sold for $325. That’s enough to pay for 3 sewing machines, and I feel pretty good about that. I think this event is a great way to start the holiday season. The recipe is on the link listed above but I wanted to include it as well. If you try it, please let me know what you think. I don’t dare bake one until I’m having guests, since it would be dangerous to have in the house.

Espresso Gingerbread Cake

For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup very strong brewed coffee or espresso, cooled to just warm
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
For the espresso glaze (optional):
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons brewed espresso
    (or 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1-1/2 tablespoons hot water)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan (or four 2-cup mini loaf pans). Tap out any excess flour.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the molasses with the brewed coffee. Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt, baking soda, espresso powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

With a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low-speed, alternate adding the flour and coffee mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Stop the mixer at least one last time to scrape the bowl and then beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (or pans), spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Run a knife through the batter to eliminate any air pockets. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (about 30 minutes for mini loaves). Set the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack, remove the pan, and let cool until just barely warm. Drizzle with the glaze (if using) and then let cool to room temperature before serving. If you’re making the cake ahead, wrap it while still barely warm without the glaze. If you plan to freeze the cake, don’t glaze it until you’re ready to serve it or give it away.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and rum (if using) in a bowl and, adding the espresso gradually, whisk until smooth. If necessary, add more espresso or water to thin the glaze to a drizzling consistency. When the cake is still barely warm, use a fork or spoon to drizzle the glaze over the top.

Make Ahead Tips

Wrapped tightly in plastic, the cake will hold up for as long as a week. You can also bake it up to a month ahead and freeze.

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