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Chef Elizabeth on the Farm

Farmhouse Cranberry Crumb Cake

Chef Elizabeth 

The colors are changing here on the farm and it is time for coffee cakes and conversations. This is a cake that I make all the time when I am looking for a cheap and quick cake for unexpected company. As a lover of cranberries, I always have then in my freezer. Feel free to use whichever fruit is in season, or make with frozen fruit.

I am pleased to announce that I have local raw honey for sale at Wynyates Farmhouse Bakery.

Ingredients:

• 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated white sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup  neutral vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup milk or sour cream
• 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
• 1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1/3 cup rolled oats
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Optional Fruit Filling:

• 1 cup cranberries or other frozen fruit
• 1/3 cup orange juice
• 1/3 cup raw honey

Directions:

If you plan to unfold the cake, use a spring form pan.

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.

3. Transfer batter to ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. *

4. Sprinkle with brown sugar, oats then cinnamon. Dot top of batter with butter. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

5.  Cool slightly. Cut into squares to serve.

*Fruit filling:

Combine ingredients in a small pot and heat until the berries have popped and then let cool. Spread gently over cake batter before sprinkling with the sugar, cinnamon and butter.

cranberry crumb cake

German Holiday Breakfast Cake

Chef ElizabethIMG_1291

I wanted to share this special recipe because it is perfect for holiday entertaining. I am lucky enough to get the culinary benefits of having an Austrian-German sharing my kitchen; this is a recipe that he developed and perfected over time. I love to bake delicious goods over the course of the few days when company is around. This cake is reminiscent of upside-down cake, but it is less work. I love warm fruit cakes that are steaming from the heat of the oven, and I love the way the whipped cream melts all over the cake. We also pour local maple syrup over the cake from time to time. I always find a way to sneak that liquid gold into my food!

During the holidays we all love a quick, easy, and delicious breakfast cake that is full of the taste of the season. Your kitchen will be filled the scent of sugar, cinnamon, and apples. This is a family favourite and it serves 12, so it is perfect for a large group. This cake is delicious at room temperature, and it warms up perfectly the next day.

Feel free to substitute the fruit if you like — around the holidays try pineapple or pears. Add a few maraschino cherries for additional color.

Ingredients

For the apple-walnut topping:

• 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
• 1/3 cup butter
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
• 4-5 large apples, peeled and cut into chunks or slices
• juice of one medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons
• 3 tablespoons butter

For the batter:

• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 cup buttermilk or milk soured with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• pinch of salt
• 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
• 3 tablespoons melted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Instructions:

1. In a large (10 or 12 inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the nuts and then remove them from the skillet.

2. If you are not using buttermilk: Combine milk with lemon juice in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

3. Cook the fruit over medium heat — place the butter in the pan and let it melt, then add the sugar, and then the apples, cinnamon, and the lemon juice. Let the apples soften for about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked apple mixture from the pan and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. To make the batter, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg, vanilla, and butter into buttermilk or “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

6. Wipe the skillet clean, then and add 3 tablespoons butter and let it melt. (This step prevents the apples from sticking.) Add the apples, sprinkle with the toasted nuts, and then add the batter.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes. The top will be golden-brown, and a cake tester will come out clean.

8. Let the cake cool for about 2-3 minutes in the pan and then invert the cake onto a round serving platter. Dust with icing sugar.

9. Serve with whipped or ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Classic Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Chef ElizabethFall is in full swing on the farm, and most of the vegetables and fruits have been harvested. The very last of the peppers — the hot variety — were picked just in time, before the frost hit. In fact we had 6 inches of snowfall just a few days ago. It was a gorgeous sight, and I made sure to get my camera.

When the winter turns cold and the days are shorter, I turn to comfort food. It warms the kitchen and is so satisfying.

I am sharing with you one of my favourite comfort foods: Classic Chicken Parmesan. This is a very popular dish, and you can find it in many restaurants across the country. But nothing tastes quite like homemade. The recipe may seem complicated if you are not familiar with the three-step breading process; once you have your three dishes set up and seasoned, the hardest part is done.

Feel free to use your own tomato sauce or your favourite store-bought brand. You can add some fresh herbs to the store-bought to add flavour.

Chicken Parmesan is a perfect dish for entertaining, especially on chilly evenings, and it can be made ahead of time. I like to serve it with a side of pasta, garlic bread and sometimes a garden side salad. If you have leftover it makes a great sandwich the next day.


Classic Chicken Parmesan Recipe:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

• 1 24-ounce jar of your favourite Marinara Sauce or your own homemade sauce.
• 4 chicken breast cutlets (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds total)
• salt & pepper
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup breadcrumbs
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
• 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced

Instructions:

1. Gather your ingredients together. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken cutlets one at a time between a baggie, two layers of plastic wrap, or wax paper. Use a meat hammer or rolling pin to pound or roll the chicken pieces to an even thickness of 1/4- to 1/2-inch. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the cutlets.

3. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt and pepper. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

4. Dredge cutlets first in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumb mixture. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering (not smoking). Working one cutlet at a time, dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, place the dredged cutlets into the pan. Lower the heat to medium and gently fry the chicken cutlets until they are golden brown on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

5. Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.

6. Spoon tomato sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then lay slices of mozzarella over each cutlet and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

7. Bake in the oven at 375 F for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.

Serve with a side salad or pasta and the remaining sauce, or in a large bread roll.

Chicken parmesan on pasta
Photo by Fotolia/Brent Hofacker

Georgian Bay Farmhouse Granola Recipe

Chef ElizabethYes, Spring is in the air, yet there is still plenty of snow here. It is impossible to live on a farm and not give a seasonal weather update. The weather pretty well runs the show. This winter has been far easier and shorter than the last three winters. However, today I have been snowed in and my pipes have frozen three times this month and tonight is going to be another 20 below zero night. So I am bringing my firewood in this morning so that it warms up before lighting it. There is plenty of snow and more is on its way. Everyone really appreciates the longer days. We are almost out of wood and the no-wood-splitting days are soon to be here. That chore will be replaced with the usual farm chores to get your land ready for planting. This is the time to discover if your rototiller will start up again, just as your snow blower dies. I will put that worry off until next winter; that is, if it stops snowing. As the snow melts, the changes on your farmhouse and property are slowly revealed. Today I saw the tom turkeys displaying, one sure sign spring is around the corner. Or maybe the turkeys are a little too eager.

During the colder months I have seem to crave baked goods made with oats. I have perfected chewy oatmeal, dried cranberry and white chocolate cookies. I keep unbaked cookies in my freezer in case unexpected guests arrive. Here on the farm I often host weekend guests and granola is high on their pantry list. Who doesn’t love granola in some form or another? This winter I went in search of a perfect farmhouse granola to offer my guests. Now I am on to granola in my test kitchen.

I love having granola in my pantry. I love to sprinkle it on my cereal or morning yogurt. It is delicious on ice cream or over warm fruit. Some people like to sprinkle granola over their raw pancake batter for crunchy pancakes. I also use it when baking as a streusel for muffins, cakes and pies. I also love handfuls right out of the Mason jar. It is great to take camping; granola is perfect high-energy snack when hiking or biking. Granola is also a perfect work time or school lunch box snack. I have it beside me when I am on road trips; its complex flavours and textures help keep me awake!

What I love most about making my “home made” granola is that I control the ingredients. I like the idea of customizing what I eat. You can add extra sweetness or reduce the sweetness depending on how much maple syrup or honey you use. Change the spices by using nutmeg, cloves, cardamom or even pumpkin pie spice. Most of the retail granola is too sweet and doesn't have enough of the good stuff- fruits and nuts. I prefer the large flake oats for texture. Some people like to add wheat germ or bran to their granola.

Granola is so expensive to buy, so why not make your own and have it on hand? It is very easy to make after a quick visit to your bulk barn to gather all the ingredients. That is really the most time consuming part of the recipe.

This Farmhouse Granola recipe is just a starting point. Feel free to omit or substitute and of the fruits and or nuts. Have fun while exploring those enormous bins filled to the rim with an enormous variety. Here is your chance to make your granola your way.

Chef’s Tip:

• Granola's quality is as good as the ingredients you use. Make sure you buy your oatmeal, fruits and nuts where you know they will be fresh. I suggest the local bulk barn for freshness and value.
• Stay in the kitchen when the granola is in the oven and stir it often. Remember that most nuts are high in fat and can quickly burn.
• Make sure the granola is totally cool before adding the diced or sliced fruit. This is especially important if you are going to add any type of chocolate to the granola.

Overview: The Farmhouse Granola comes together in these easy steps:

• Mix together all of your nuts with the oats
• In a separate bowl blend your liquid flavouring agents
• Stir together and Bake until golden, stirring often
• Cool completely
• Add dried fruit and or chocolate pieces
• Store in a cool dry container
• Enjoy

Ingredients

Georgian Bay Farmhouse Granola

Prep time: 10 minutes; Bake time: 30 minutes; Yield: 10-12 cups

Dry Ingredients:

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped or sliced
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 cup raw, unsalted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds

Flavouring Ingredients:

1/3-cup peanut, sunflower or coconut oil
1/2-cup pure maple syrup
1/3-cup honey
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
1-teaspoon sea or kosher salt

Dry Ingredients:

8 -16 ounces (2-1/2 cup) of dried fruit, such as cherries, apricots, strawberries, apples, pineapple, mango cranberries, dates
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut or banana chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or 2 large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, pecans or walnuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds.

In another large bowl. Whisk oil, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, orange zest and salt in a medium bowl until blended. Measure the oil first, and then use the residue in the cup to grease the measuring cups for the maple syrup and honey. Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pans.

Bake, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly and evenly browned around 20- 30 minutes. Do not leave the granola unattended during this time. It can overcook very easily if not stirred regularly.

When it is lightly and evenly browned remove from oven and cool completely in the pan on a rack. When cool transfer the granola to a bowl and toss with the dried fruit and coconut.

Granola

Chef's Note:

Serving Suggestions: Serve with yogurt or milk and drizzle with honey. Top with fresh fruit.

Sweet variation: After the granola is thoroughly cooled add chocolate covered raisins or chopped chocolate or yogurt covered almonds, white, dark or milk chocolate chips or chunks or even chocolate smarties or MnM’s. The possibilities are endless.

Farmhouse Granola makes a great hostess gift if you ever visiting overnight. Mason jars filled with granola and tied with a holiday ribbon are a great gift around the holidays.

Best Butter Cookies Recipe

Chef ElizabethIt is Christmas time again on the farm and despite an enormous first snow, the land is bare and what a blessing. I have had extra time to rescue the fish from the frozen pond, time to fix the barn door and to put up the Christmas lights.

Apples

Every year I promise to start things earlier, buy the bags and wrapping, organize my cookie cutters, decide on what Christmas treats I am going to make, hold the open house. There are so many details that I now keep a book to keep track of all the Christmas meals, gifts and plans.

My eldest daughter called me last week and we decided that this year we wanted to do something different. So this week I have been calling up Nordic ski places but they doubt that there will be enough snow by Christmas. Here by the lake you learn to expect snow, and lots of it, anytime.

Christmas is that special time of the year when we all tend to bake and cook our traditional favourites. This is a firm rule in my house — the list is long about what has to be on the three day Christmas weekend menu. Christmas is not the time to change the menu too radically. It is about tradition. When I eliminate one of the dishes, one that no one eats like the peas, there is uproar. I tend to introduce new items on Christmas Eve.

Centerpiece

I also like to bake a few new goodies to keep me experimenting. This year I am going to make chocolate almond toffee and chocolate cherry mice for table treats. I just may make a trifle, which I have not done in years. Maybe mincemeat tarts — another holiday treat long forgotten.

My baking plans are always ambitious and that continues right up to Christmas morning when I bake the traditional Christmas Morning Coffeecake.

Today, I wanted to bake a plain delicious cookie whose flavour is based on just a few items. Make sure you use fresh butter and pure vanilla or almond extract. Quality makes all the difference in a simple cookie. I felt like pulling out a cherished old favourite. These butter cookies are very simple; they are Grandmother’s Best Butter Cookies. Ironically, my grandmother never baked. Well, at least not for her 46 grandchildren. However, the nanny to her 11 children, Clara, who later became my godmother, was an excellent baker.

Bumblebee cookie

Here is Clara's recipe. This is a very simple recipe using only a few ingredients that you will have in your pantry. You can easily make it with a deep bowl and a wooden spoon — just as I did for this article. Sometimes it is very comforting to go back to the way I baked as a child.

CHEF’S HINTS:

• MAKE SURE YOUR BUTTER IS VERY SOFT
• USE PURE VANILLA OR ALMOND EXTRACT
• DO NOT OVER MIX THE DOUGH AFTER THE FLOUR IS ADDED
• CHILL THE DOUGH — BUT NOT UNTIL IT IS TOO STIFF TO ROLL.
• ROLL THE COOKIE DOUGH OUT EVENLY TO PROMOTE EVEN BAKING

Butter cookies

GRANDMOTHER’S BEST BUTTER COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:

8 Tablespoons (1/4 pound) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
Icing sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, or using a hand mixer on medium speed to beat together butter until pale and fluffy, 2–3 minutes.

Slowly add the sugar and continue to cream until all the sugar is absorbed. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth. Add flour and mix on low speed until just combined. Do not over mix.

Transfer dough to a work surface and form into 2 balls and press into 2 disks. Wrap disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 F.

Take one of the chilled dough disks and Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface; using a rolling pin, roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.

Using a 1-1/2 inch round or fluted cookie cutter, cut out rounds and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart; repeat with remaining dough.

Bake the cookies rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through cooking, until cookies are set but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Dust with sifted icing sugar.

Store the cookies in between layers of wax paper in a cookie tin.

Cookie tin

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Chef Elizabeth

Texas Tornado Cake Recipe

Chef ElizabethI have had this recipe for decades and I am planning to include it in my upcoming ebook. I am not sure about the origin of the name, perhaps it refers to all the fruits, nuts and coconut looking like a "mess" a tornado left behind. This cake is also known as Fruit Cocktail Cake. This is a magical cake that is easy to make with most types of tinned fruit. When I was growing up, our pantry was filled with tinned goods. If you happen to have maraschino cherries in your pantry add some extra to the batter. We all know there are never enough cherries in that fruit cocktail mix. I recall fighting for those precious red cherries. There were eight of us and there were never eight cherries in one tin.

Texas tornado cake

There are nuts in the cake and also nuts and coconut as a topping if you choose to use them. The cake is delicious without them. Nuts have become so expensive, I sometime substitute a chopped up fruit and nut granola bar. If you can't eat nuts you can substitute crushed cornflakes or bran buds for texture.

This Texas Tornado Cake is delicious and I guarantee this will become a family favorite. There is no fat in the cake — it is in the sauce. The recipe for sauce creates more sauce than you may think you need but the cake will absorb it. If you find that you have some left over serve it on the side if you like. This is a very moist cake, add the coconut and nuts if you like or omit it. The cake tastes even better the next day as the sauce penetrates into it.

Texas Tornado Cake is a perfect potluck dessert and for the upcoming holidays.

Texas tornado cake

Texas Tornado Cake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Cake:

1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 14-oz. can fruit cocktail with juice or about 2 cups
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt

Cake Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Sauce:

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk, or cream
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla or 2 tablespoons of rum

Optional Topping:

1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan or a Bundt pan.

To make Cake:

In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs and fruit cocktail with the syrup.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and soda and then add to fruit mixture.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and chopped nuts.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle the sugar-nut mixture over the cake batter.
Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

As the cake is cooling make the Sauce:

Heat sugar, milk and butter (if using coconut add at this point) in saucepan and bring to a boil.
Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add vanilla or rum and chopped nuts.
Pour over hot cake. Serve warm with whipped cream or frozen vanilla yogurt.
This cake will keep for several days at room temperature or refrigerated.

Santé
Chef Elizabeth

Fall

For more about my farm life and travels read my blog Bucky's View.

Rose’s Country Pumpkin Muffins

Chef Elizabeth PumpkinFall is pumpkin time and pumpkin is very versatile to cook with. It can be found in both savory and sweet dishes. Everyone is familiar with traditional pumpkin pie but I have found a different way to celebrate pumpkin. This is a really easy, fast and scrumptious pumpkin muffin recipe. The muffins are delicious plain with that sprinkling of brown sugar but I add chopped pecans and blueberries to my muffins for more texture and flavor. This recipe is adapted from a book called Muffin Mania.

Pumpkins for sale

Rose's Country Pumpkin Muffins

Yields 18-24 muffins

Cook time: 20-25 Minutes

Ingredients:

• 4 large eggs at room temperature
• 2 cups white sugar
• 1-1/3 cups neutral vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
• 1-3/4 cups pumpkin (small can)
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups raisins or dried cranberries or blueberries
• 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Optional Garnish:

• 1/3 cup sieved light brown sugar or more if needed

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. Grease and flour the muffin tin.

3. Beat eggs lightly. Add sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin and combine thoroughly.

4. Sift the dry ingredients together and Add to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

5. Stir in raisins, cranberries and nuts, if using.

6. If you are adding blueberries, fold them in gently at this point.

7. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle tops with sieved brown sugar.

8. Bake 375 F for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Pumpkin muffins

Santé

Chef Elizabeth

Maples