Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eccles Cakes for the Royal Wedding

We've been keeping so busy with Easter, Earth Day, building a chicken coop, and the arrival of spring to the back yard, that I hadn't given much thought to the impending royal wedding.

Then last Saturday, over at my in-laws, my sister and I browsed a small stack of magazines dedicated to Will, Kate and big event. The ring! The story! The romance! I fell hard for the whole package.

The next day I bookmarked The Website, followed the Twitter account and even took a peak at the You Tube channel.

It's pretty magical, you have to admit. A prince, struck with tragedy so young, forever in the public eye, now marrying for love.

My mother married a British man nearly 40 years ago, my dear dad. I was delighted when she told me today that she was making her wedding cake again - a traditional English fruitcake- in honour of the royal wedding. She was also planning to rise at 3 am, go over to her sisters (my parents don't have TV) and watch the whole shebang. Mom, you are so cool.

Of course I've done a bit of baking of my own. Buttermik Scones are prepared for tomorrow's breakfast and wedding viewing. Although I'll be playing catch up online. No 3 am wake up for this mama.

If you're looking for an accompaniment to your tea tomorrow, may I suggest Eccles Cakes? Imagine a layer of black currants and sugar pressed between two sheets of puff pastry and baked to a crisp, caramelized delicious morsel. They've been a favorite of mine forever. That British background working its influence on my palate, I guess.

This particular interpretation of a classic British tea-time treat is more of a Canadian version of the original tea cakes of Eccles, England. With only three ingredients it is fast to make and you can easily whip up a batch for afternoon tea. So put the kettle on.

Eccles Cakes


  • 1 ½ lbs puff pastry, chilled
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup currants
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Plump currants in hot water 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Roll chilled dough in a floured surface in to a rectangle 3/16 inch thick. Put aside for a moment while removing all dusting flour. Sprinkle the work surface generously with sugar and continue rolling dough to 1/8 inch thickness.

Trim the piece in to a precise rectangle. Cover half the dough solidly with currants in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Fold the remaining half of the dough over the top of the currants.

Gently press a rolling pin over the entire surface until the black currants show through the sheet of thin dough. The result is a nice speckled appearance.

With a knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough into 2-inch squares and place 1-2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the refrigerator to relax the dough for 25 minutes while the oven heats.

Reheat oven to 375F.

Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven. When the bottoms have caramelized and are light brown, carefully turn the cakes over and finish baking. ( I forgot to do this step, so my tops are less caramelized.)

Place cakes on rack to cool. Enjoy!

Ed note: excerpts and photos from this post were previously published in October, 2007.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WW: Earth Day '11 Picnic for the Planet

The rain/hail let up last week just enough for us to celebrate Earth Day with a picnic and campfire on Friday. I teamed up with friends at The Nature Conservancy to promote their Picnic for the Planet. It was a great event!

Head to Simple Bites for the virtual picnic and to get the recipe for these Italian-Style Pressed Sandwiches.

I was to busy eating pasta salad and grilled chicken and chasing kids to pick up the camera, but here are a few shots Danny and I managed to get between the two of us.

Here's to the coming spring and many more picnic days ahead.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Whey Crepes with Homemade Ricotta & Rhubarb Compote

I'm not going to waste my time and yours with an introduction about how good this plate of food was or how you really should try the recipes. I will just say that the soft, fresh ricotta and puckery strawberry-rhubarb compote combined in crepes has me completely smitten.

And we both know you're going to make this the first chance you get, so here you go: recipes, pronto.

First, you need to make the ricotta. If you've been following my Eat Well, Spend Less series on Simple Bites, you'll know that ricotta is just one of many pantry staples that can easily be made from scratch for much less money than buying a tub at the supermarket. Many readers commented on my post, Homemade Substitutes for Grocery Staples, and agreed that homemade is best.

Ricotta is no exception. The homemade version is creamy, silky smooth and so rewarding to make. The best part? It's a total cinch.

You'll have to head over to get Jennie’s Homemade Ricotta recipe. I mean it when I say it is simple. And oh-so-good. (Confession: I've made two batches in three days.) Hat's off to the talented Jennie for the recipe.

Note: Do not toss the whey (the milky liquid run-off from the soft cheese); this is going to be the base for our crepes.

These crepes couldn't be much easier. You'll need a blender and a good nonstick pan. I love my Scanpan for that: no Teflon!

Recipe: Whey Crepes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons melter butter
  • 1 1/2 cups whey
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  1. Crack eggs into a blender. Dump flour on top, followed by butter, whey and sugar.
  2. Blend until smooth. Chill for at least an hour and up to two days.
  3. Cook crepes in a lightly buttered nonstick pan.


  • Cooked crepes
  • Soft homemade ricotta
  • Fruit compote, jam, fruit butter, or sliced fresh fruit.
  • Pure maple syrup
Basically, use any type of fruit you like to fill the crepes, the ricotta is going to steal the show regardless of what you use.

Fold crepes in half. Place a couple tablespoons of homemade ricotta on one half of the crepe and a spoonful of fruit.

Fold the crepe in two and drizzle with maple syrup.

Enjoy this perfect dish for spring! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes, Easter brunch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

In support of....Stonyfield Organics

It is fantastic when food blogging introduces opportunities that are too good to pass up. The Peko Peko charity cookbook was one, and now I'm delighted to be working with

Stonyfield Organics launch a brand new blog recently and if you take a peek at the list of contributors, you'll probably recognize a few faces. Mine in particular!

Every week on the Stonyblog, I'll be bringing fresh content that focuses on sustainability, healthy eating, family food, and of course, yogourt. Good thing we're crazy about it around here!

My first post is up, you can check it out if you like. And do stay tuned, I've got a recipe coming soon for a Maple-Yogourt Cake that is absolutely amazing...


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