Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sunday was a hit! How could miniature Devil's Food Cakes with Peanut Butter Frosting not be? Oh, the peanut butter frosting absolutely delish! In the SMS comments, one of our team bakers cut back on the butter and added more smooth peanut butter to make a less buttercream type frosting. I duplicated the ingredient measurements and now this frosting 'has' to be one of my family's favorites. Just subtract a stick of butter and add 1/2 cup more peanut butter. Very tasty!We have had family here visiting and now it is our turn to take Larry's Mom to his brother's home today, which is a 3 hour drive each way, so I am making this a shorter story then my usual =).

The little devil's food cakes are being taken for dessert this evening and I thought each person would enjoy having his or her own cake.

The pumpkin design is a stencil; you know how many fun Halloween and Fall items (Okay, all holidays and seasonal items) come out to entice each of us to open our wallets and buy, buy, buy? Well, every once in a while I get hooked. Unfortunately more times then not.
I want to thank Holly of Phe/mom/enon for making a hit dessert choice! I can not wait to share and I already have many samplers for the frosting. I wasn't sure there would be enough frosting to actually put on the cakes. To get the recipes, either BUY Sweet Melissa's Baking Book (A very wise choice) or you can go to Holly's site for today's recipe. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did and I can't wait to see all the variations each person baked...Happy Fall!
Ashley and I were able to squeeze in a little pumpkin carving too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sorry ~ No TWD this week

I have no sweet potato biscuits to share, chosen by Erin of Prudence Pennywise. Please check out everyones chose of fun with this great biscuit here at Tuesday with Dorie and I will see everyone again next week. Family is visiting and we are having fun catching up =).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SMS - Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes

Sweet Melissa Sunday is here again and we are definitely into Fall. Debbie of Every Day Blessings of The Five Dee’s chose Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes and these were yummy. The recipe is time consuming but I make my own pumpkin puree every Fall so the recipe was an opener to get my puree done.I know Melissa states to bake her sugar pumpkins at 400 degrees F. for about 1 1/2 hours but I choose to bake my pumpkins at 350 degrees F. for the same 1 1/2 hours.
I usually bake 6 sugar pumpkins for pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, breads, and these cookies. Each pumpkin weighs around 5 to 6 pounds.
Melissa did not mention on p. 197 for fresh pumpkin puree to: Make sure and strain the fresh pumpkin puree after processing in the food processor or blender. Pumpkins contain a 'lot' of water and need straining for several hours.
The finished pumpkin puree is ready to now be used immediately, refrigerated for several days or measured and put into Ziploc bags for the freezer (to be used when you like; already pre-measured).
Looking out my window, all the maple trees look gorgeous with brilliant oranges, reds, yellows, browns, and (because of several blustery windstorms the last several days) slightly bare branches.Squirrels, chipmunks and cute little birds of various types are having a hay day in the yard looking for seeds. I love baking and watching out the window on the weekends to see all the activity.
Melissa's cookies were fun to make and I always enjoy using a pastry bag with different tips for interesting designs.
This cookie dough is not really meant for a tip design because the cookies seem to spread and flatten out slightly when baking. The design flattens out with the cookie too.I did have trouble with the baked cookie being a little too moist. I ended up spraying wax paper with a little PAM to keep the tops of the cookies from sticking to the waxed paper while piping on the filling (which I colored orange for Halloween spirit).As you can see, very cute but extremely moist, which is not a bad thing but I have mine in the refrigerator right now to see if the cookie and the filling stiffen up just enough. I need them to stiffen up so I can share them with all my co-workers tomorrow. Hope they love them as much as I do and thank you Dee for choosing this recipe! You can find the recipe for the cookies at Dees' blog here or jump on line and order yourself a copy from To see all the Sweet Melissa Sunday baking teams variations on the Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes, check this link out and be ready to want to bake your own batch!
I also baked Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread (found at Spork and Foon Blog ~ such a fun blog too)
To make the healthy version of this bread, substitute the butter for 1/2 cup applesauce. Also, I found that the healthier version took longer to cook, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.(makes 1 loaf)
1/2 cup butter (softened) (***or 1/2 cup applesauce)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 can of pumpkin puree
2 black tea bags steeped in 1/4 cup hot milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon Chai Spice (optional. The McCormick brand sells this at the supermarket.)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of all spice
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the pumpkin puree and the milky tea (make sure the tea has completely cooled before adding). Set aside.

In another bowl mix together the all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the spices and whisk to incorporate.

Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mix and gently fold until just combined. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes at 350F (for the healthier version, you may need to bake longer, up to 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you don't want the bread to brown any more, tent some aluminum foil over the top.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Strawberry Tiramisu

Gale Gand's recipe for tiramisu has been haunting me. The recipe is absolutely delicious but I am hungry for something a lot like this tiramisu but with fruit. My collection of printed out recipes is daunting and there are literally hundreds if not well over a thousand. I continually thumb through all these recipes, many filed by category, only to be overwhelmed. I then drift on to my current magazines; all 3o or 40 current issues from the last 3 months. Why I do not just open a pastry shop and get this taunting struggle of finding time to obsess over what I truly love ~ wait! I know. If I end up doing what I love I may get burned out and then what will I obsess over? Probably my flowers, learning to truly sew, gardening and crocheting (maybe knitting too) all combined.

Strolling through Italian recipe sites on the Internet . . . there are about 100 different cooking sites bookmarked on my computer along with all those listed here on my blog to the right . . . I came across a recipe for strawberry tiramisu. The recipe originally came from a site called cookies from italy (dot) com. Unfortunately, this site has a large list of tasty desserts, breads, pasta dishes, soups; oh the list goes on and on. This is unfortunate because I already have a list of recipes, backlogged for immediate trial, and this list is enough to feed several families for a year . Of course, recipes only get bumped if another recipe comes along that blows the skirt off the previous ones. The strawberry tiramisu is one such recipe!

This is the month of October so strawberries are definitely 'not' in season. I am shopping for groceries for the weekend and can not find any strawberries in 3 different stores. Do you know how it is to get a recipe stuck in your head AND you are going to find this illustrious ingredient no matter how hard you have to search? Well, I didn't want to search anymore (I'm tired from working all week) but I did want my strawberries so I did the next best thing . . . I called hubby and whined. I can't find the strawberries and I made this dinner menu that is to die for. Do you think you could stop at a store to see if you can find my strawberries? I really did try but the strawberry gods are against me (whimper). Hubs asks, so what is for dinner? I stroll down the list, including homemade chicken and dumplings with chicken stock made from scratch, the strawberry tiramisu for dessert, and for good measure, I mention what is for breakfast the next morning. BINGO! He is hooked and on the strawberry hunt for me! Do not get me wrong, I am VERY grateful and wholeheartedly LOVE that hubs will go out into the cold dark night, hunting down an illusive ingredient. I also know he loves coming home to a hot meal and understands that I work hard all day too. We commute long hours and start our days early, usually 4:15 am. I can start tiring fast if I am looking for things before I can even start cooking. Then mistakes happen and dinner can be peanut butter sandwiches if everything flops.

So here we are, back to the ever enticing Strawberry Tiramisu (hubs found the strawberries at the first place he stopped) and what a delightfully creamy and delicious dessert this turned out to be!

Strawberry Tiramisu (tiramisu alla fragole)
1 and 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1/3 cup orange juice
1 lb mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 and 1/3 cups chilled whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
52 (about) crisp ladyfingers (boudoirs or Savoiardi) 1 and 1/2 lbs strawberries, divided

Whisk preserves, 1/3 cup Cointreau, and orange juice in 2-cup measuring cup.

Place mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons Cointreau in large bowl; fold just to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons Cointreau in another large bowl to soft peaks.

Stir 1/4 of whipped cream mixture into mascarpone mixture to lighten.

Fold in remaining whipped cream.

Hull and slice half of strawberries.

Arrange enough ladyfingers over strawberry mixture to cover bottom of dish.

Spoon 3/4 cup preserve mixture over ladyfingers, then spread 2 and 1/2 cups mascarpone mixture over.

Arrange 2 cups sliced strawberries over mascarpone mixture.

Repeat layering with remaining lady fingers, preserve mixture, and mascarpone mixture.

Cover with plastic and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

Slice remaining strawberries. Arrange over tiramisu and serve. Serves 8.

That's it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

350 days left ~ Cooking with Julia Child and Chai Butter Cookies

Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Days Left: 350
Recipes To Go: 585

Casserole-Roasted Pork ~ p. 380 (Julia Child)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes ~ p. 520 (Julia Child)
Glazed Turnips ~ p. 488 (Julia Child)
Chai Butter Cookies (
Ezra poundcake is such a fun blog and I love her recent post on Chai Butter Cookies so much that I had to make them for myself with only one change: I substituted 1/2 t. McCormick Chai Spice for Ezra's 1 to 2 teaspoons chai tea bag contents. The cookies were light, airy, and crunchy with a delicious spicy chai flavor. The perfect butter cookie! Thank you Ezra for sharing =)
Chai Butter Cookies found @ EzraPoundcake .com
Adapted from Virginia Willis’ “Bon Appetit, Y’all”
Makes 48
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon McCormick's Chai Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, preferably Crisco, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, chai, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening on medium until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and beat on low speed until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, and beat on low until well combined.

3. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Beat until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Using an ice cream scoop or melon baller, take some of the dough, and shape it into 1-inch balls. (Keep remaining dough in the refrigerator.) Place the dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and press with the tines of a fork to flatten. (If your dough starts getting sticky, dip the fork tines in a small dish of sugar before pressing.) Bake until pale golden, but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheet on a rack. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

For dinner, the casserole roasted pork was suppose to be the centerpiece but you know, the garlic mashed potatoes caused so much alarm with all 30 cloves of garlic being called for; this dish was actually anticipated more.
I was caught off guard by Julia calling for the pork to be roasted to the internal temperature of 185 degrees F. My gut instinct said 165 F. because we like the meat to be just a tad pink in the middle. The tenderloin was absolutely delicious but a little dry. I should have listened to myself but Julia sounds so convincing.
We loved the yellow onion, sliced carrots and herb bouquet being added and 'I' really enjoyed when the pork was done being cooked, removing the meat, adding wine to complete the recipe~ all to create a delicious gravy.
The mashed potatoes, oh, I just have to tell you! I was pacing all over the kitchen on this one. First, taking 2 full garlic heads apart to get 30 individual cloves, then cooking the garlic in a saucepan with boiling milk and seasoning. Imagine Julia telling you the mashed potatoes will have a pleasant garlic flavor with no harsh garlic strength. 30 cloves of garlic and the taster will not be overwhelmed by the garlic? Peeling the garlic, the whole house automatically smells of garlic. My hands smell of garlic. Julia does say the long cooking (20 minutes) will soften the flavor . . . so we stirred, looked at, and shook our heads while we simmered.
After the garlic has been simmered into tenderness, butter is dotted over the top to keep the garlic sauce from forming a skin while the potatoes are started.
When the potatoes are cooked through, Julia asks for the potatoes to be put through a potato ricer. The potato ricer presses the cooked potatoes through a sieve like bowl, squirting the potatoes through a myriad of minature wholes, allowing NO lumps.
Just before serving, the potatoes, garlic sauce and a tad bit of butter are all added to the kitchen aide mixer, mixing the whole lot into a fluffy submission. Larry was ushered into the kitchen to gingerly dip his finger into this fluffy mass so I can watch to see if he falls over from garlic inhalation. He winces, I jump, he tells me this is absolutely delicious, I smack him on the arm for scaring me to death!
Then the glazed turnips. These turnips simmered happily in homemade beef broth, with a sprinkling of sugar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Of course there was a touch of butter or we wouldn't be able to say we were cooking from Julia's French cooking bible now would we?
This attempt at turnips is my first. I have spent most of my life staying clear of strange objects and Julia has strange objects listed throughout her French cookbook. I keep thinking I might as well get these over with, later find out I LOVE them and where have they been all my life? My own fault, I know, but in my defense - maybe I just needed the right helping hand to get me through this new experience? Well I am now a turnip fan too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge: Pho Ga and Banana Nocciolata Wonton Pillows

Pho; restaurants are popping up right and left in the Seattle area (outskirts included) simply advertising Pho. I have no idea what this is but when Larry asks me where I want to go out to eat in Seattle (after work), we think Sushi restaurant, steak and seafood house, casual, comfy yet slightly uppity bar, because we are hoping for a great bartender to go with great appetizers, but we never think: Oh lets go get some Pho. I have never even Googled it before. One of my co-workers said his wife and sisters love it and get it often. I just learned this the other day. I 'have' been curious for a long time (at least 6 months).

Jaden, amazing lady publishing an absolutely gorgeous new cookbook on Asian recipes (called the Steamy Kitchen), lists Challenge #1 (from her cookbook): Vietnamese Pho and Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons (does not have to be chocolate but does have to be a dessert wonton).

Challenge #1 has a short version listed on the daring cooks site or a Daring Cook can go to Jaden's website for the longer version, choosing either the chicken or the beef Pho. Taking the short version never even crossed my mind. Of course I want to try the long version first, I have never even tasted this before.

I will list the short version recipe here but to get the long version, you will need to click on Jaden's blog link.

The first thing to do is check list of ingredients and I was lacking star anise, also whole chicken. The choice was buy a full jar of star anise and pay a LOT or go to the bulk food section and pay about $1 for 8 whole star anise (encase I fall in love with the spice and want to experiment later). The choice was an easy one. Next, need whole chicken. Uhmm, I do not cut up chickens. We who live in populated areas have LOTS of stores with butchers and pre-chopped chicken. No, I want the long version with great flavor and exposed marrow. Greeeaaaattt! I am now buying a whole chicken. Everything else needed is already waiting at home. Take chicken home, pace, wait for Larry (hubby) to get home and ask him if he has a hatchet? His eyebrows literally raise to his hairline, pupils dilate and he wants to know if I am drinking or had a bad day at work? No, I am making Pho Ga. (Somehow this does not sound like a clean word when you say it fast like I did.) Again, he just looks at me. Asian chicken soup. And the hatchet? I need to chop the chicken up. Jaden says to expose as much marrow as possible. Why don't you use your cleaver? You know, the one that is attached to your magnetic knife strip and is collecting dust from you never using it? We will just keep the hatchet in hiding for now. Alright-tee. Do you want to chop the chicken up for me? I think I need to go work on the deck. Love you! and out he went.

Well, the ginger and onion was set under the broiler to cook until the skin was black on the onion and darkening on the ginger. Then I went to work on the chicken. I am so proud of myself now because the breasts were not that hard to cut off (since they are the largest pieces on a chicken but I did flip the chicken around twice to figure out which side they were on . . . not as easy as it looks) AND you get to use your new cleaver and chop the crap out of the chicken. The chopping was great! Plus I had Plenty of exposed marrow.
The hard part was getting a clear broth. I make homemade chicken stock all the time but I buy a bag made out of netting to put all the "pre-cut" chicken pieces in so there is not a lot of scum floating on the surface to begin with. I skimmed the scum and then the oils floating on the surface but the end result was still a slightly cloudy broth.

Udon noodles were already on hand so these were cooked up instead of flat rice noodles. Everything else was according to Jaden's recipe because I needed to know what the soup was suppose to taste like before I started playing around (WHICH I will be doing because I absolutely LOVE this soup). So much fun, delicious and interactive. The possibilities are endless and you just have to see for yourself by going to check out the other Daring Cooks alternatives to this recipe. I would like to state ahead of time that the Daring Cooks truly are daring and amazing! I do not need any more recipe variations from a cookbook. Just go to their sites and find all the varieties and ideas you could possibly ever want to try because they are out of this world unique, colorful, and FUN.

Pho Ga (short version)
• Frying pan• Large stockpot• Tongs• Strainer, sieve or colander• Bowls for serving

Preparation Time: 45 minutes cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings

For the Chicken Pho Broth:

2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice

To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.

In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.

Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.

Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.

Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.

Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Challenge #2 will be short and brief (yes, the 2 words mean the same thing but I am winding down over the whole chicken thing).
I had a little trouble with the wonton dessert. We ended up taking a wonton wrapper, putting a dollop of Nocciolata (organic hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk) on the wonton, resting a banana on top of the dollop and folding the wonton to create a pillow shape. Seal edges with a finger dipped in water and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Let cool.
Glaze with my homemade, canned, spicy pear butter and sprinkle crushed toffee bits overall.
Baking the wontons was tasty but chewy. I was more impressed with chopping up the chicken.

Spiced Pear Butter:
8 cups pears, peeled and sliced
1 t. cloves
1 cup of sugar
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 cup red cinnamon candies

Place pears in blender or use a hand wand blender with pears already in pot to pulse till a little chunky.

Put all ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot.Cook on medium to low heat for about 3 hours, the thicker you want it the longer you cook it.

This can now be processed in a water bath for 5 minutes. This means that you set your jars in the canner and lower the jars into the water, bring the water back to a boil and then time the jars for 5 minutes.

**The amount you end up with is determined by how much you cook the pear butter down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD - Allspice Crumb Muffins

I must be slipping because nothing was altered in any way for this recipe. Ashley came tootling home just when these muffins were done and completely caught me off guard. You made my muffins without me? I am dumbfounded until I realize one of the few baked whatever Ashley will eat out of this kitchen is a recipe called apple muffins with a streusel, a lot like this streusel, on top. I am kicking myself as soon as Ashley said this because there are Granny Smith apples just dying to be diced up and slipped into the batter and I didn't even think of it until my daughter scared the bajeebees out of me. Why my first instinct was to feel guilty and hide my muffins out of shame, I have no idea. I am still getting used to my little girl coming and going and the muffin thing is usually a team effort. Even if I am only allowed to watch and be accessible for group discussion.

Tuesday with Dorie was chosen this week by Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table and Kayte chose Allspice Crumb Muffins.

Curiosity got the best of me. Allspice alone is a new thought so I was game. Then Dorie puts in how the muffins will taste more pronounced the next day. Well, I did enjoy the muffin allspice flavor, eaten with my cup of coffee for breakfast but I was not bowled over. Ashley ate one, thinking these were her apple muffins and I did not say anything to alter her thinking or she would have stopped eating it, automatically assuming she didn't like it. She did clarify that I forgot the apples and if I had waited to make these until she got home, this mistake would not have happened. High five me because she ate something new without even knowing it. I was not allowed to be picky when growing up and why she is, I still have know idea. I am not calling Mom on this because I know she will be happy to give me an answer.

The allspice muffins were fast to make: Heat the oven, center the oven rack, put together the streusel and start sifting the dry ingredients for the muffin.
Once the batter was ready, I used an ice cream scoop to plop like amounts into muffin cups.

Once the muffins were baked, I started on the rest of breakfast, allowing the muffins to be cooled enough for serving with breakfast.
My first bite of allspice muffin was tender, with the allspice being mild but definitely present. I enjoyed this muffin and would like to thank Kayte for choosing a yummy recipe with a new taste experience. To get the recipe, visit Kayte's blog: Grandma's Kitchen Table or run out and buy Dorie's cookbook and bake along with us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Donna Hay Ricotta Hotcakes with Melted Orange Maple Butter and Julia Child

Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Days Left: 354
Recipes To Go: 588

Ricotta Hotcakes with Orange Maple Butter
Shirred Eggs ~ p. 122 (Julia Child)

Ugh, breakfast . . . again. I am not going to bake breakfast unless: a) I know ahead of time what I want to make (i.e. I have the all impressive menu written up for the week that includes WAYYYYY to much food but makes me happy while thumbing through recipes) and b) the recipe sounds yummy and fun to make. I know I have mentioned this before but I really do not like making breakfast. I like the 'Idea' of making breakfast. I wake up and hope some magic breakfast elves or hubby just made breakfast and I get to sit, sip coffee with my teaspoon of sugar and a tad of hazelnut coffee creamer while waking up. Although, getting to see my hubby in some magical lime green elf attire does cheer me up. We will keep this to ourselves or he may never forgive me for the comment.

Blueberries were huge and delicious looking all summer. There were so many blueberries finding their way into this kitchen that I actually started getting sick of blueberries, which means I started freezing them so not only would the blueberries be out of sight BUT I was freezing them (meaning the blueberries were not spoiling in my refrigerator SO no guilt). Now, making hotcakes is much more fun because I can open a Ziploc bag of blueberries and plop a few on each hotcake. Donna Hay's ricotta hotcakes were screaming for color (blueberries). I would also like to add: Donna Hay's ricotta hotcakes are tender, fluffy and full of great breakfast flavor. Just delicious!

Julia Child's Shirred Eggs were light and extraordinary too! Sheered eggs are a blast to make, I think because the recipe is different and fun. You start with the individual dishes being placed on the burner then when you are ready to eat breakfast, the dishes get popped under the broiler for a minute. If you like over-easy eggs, this is the recipe to make. Also, if you like the egg done to a harder consistency, just leave under the broiler for a bit longer.

Larry loved the whole breakfast. I couldn't finish mine so I asked Larry, do you want me to give the rest to Rocky (the golden retriever) or do you want the rest? I think this must have been a competition between who was getting spoiled this time and Larry won out. I had to go back into the kitchen and make Rocky his own pancake, which Larry was eyeing and Rocky slurped up before Larry got any ideas. Too funny!

Ricotta Hotcakes with Orange Maple Butter
(adapted from Donna Hay)
1½ cups (225g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
4 eggs, separated
1½ cups (375ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g ricotta
¼ cup (55g) caster (superfine) sugar, extra
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
maple syrup and lemon wedges, to serve

Orange Maple Butter
6 oz. butter (softened)
Juice of one orange
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Orange zest from one orange
3 tablespoons maple syrup

To make the orange maple butter, soften butter, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Form a ball and refrigerate.
**I had a problem with this forming a ball. The liquid wants to separate. My solution: Refrigerate, then before serving, melt for 30 seconds in the microwave and drizzle over hotcakes when serving.

Place the flour, sugar, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl and mix to combine. Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form and fold through the flour mixture with the ricotta.

Heat a lightly greased large non-stick frying pan over low heat. Cook 2 tablespoons of the mixture, in batches, for 3–4 minutes each side or until puffed and golden. Combine the extra sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pancakes. Top with the orange maple butter, drizzle over the maple syrup and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

* For blueberry ricotta hotcakes, add 1 cup (150g) fresh or frozen blueberries to the flour mixture with the ricotta. Top hotcakes with maple butter and drizzle over maple syrup.
For Julia Child's sheered eggs on page 122, take a shallow dish about 4-inches in diameter and place over moderate heat on your stove. Add 1/2 Tablespoon of butter and melt. As soon as the butter is melted, add egg or eggs into the dish and cook for about 30 seconds until a thin layer of white has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat, tilt dish, and baste the egg with the butter. Set aside.

A minute or so before serving, place the dish an inch under the hot broiler. Slide it in and out every few seconds and baste the egg with the butter. In about a minute the white will be set, and the yolk filmed and glistening. Remove, season, and serve immediately.