Cooking with Alison

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Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on April 15, 2014 at am

This is another great recipe from the cookbook, The Modern Baker.  At first, I was doubtful that this cake would be flavourful enough for my taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  This sophisticated, citrusy cake is a great finish to a heavy meal.  I made it for Thanksgiving dinner.  Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it.  Even John’s mom, who isn’t normally a fan of cake, liked it.  I love that this cake is moist, easy to make, and relatively healthy since it uses olive oil as opposed to butter or vegetable oil.  Also, I love the crunchy and slightly sticky crust.  This is served as a one-layer cake, but the recipe makes two layers, so you can make these in advance and freeze them for future dinner parties.


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Favourite Lemon Tart Recipe

In Pies & Tarts on March 31, 2012 at am

I love this lemon dessert.  As you can probably tell from the picture below, I over baked my tart a little bit, and it was still delicious.  I made it for Thanksgiving last year and it was the perfect finish to a hearty prime rib dinner.  When I was making the tart crust, I was doubtful of the recipe, because it was more crumbly and dry than any other crust I’d ever made, but it turned out beautifully crispy!  The crispy crust is the perfect compliment to the tart filling.  I love that the filling is so fresh and natural tasting; it’s not too tart and it’s not too sweet.  This is simple to make and elegant enough to serve for a special occasion.  Note that although the crust only stays crispy for the first day, it’s still very good the next day.  In fact, my mom loved the crust and she didn’t try it until the second day.  The word she used was “success” in Chinese.

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Green Beans with Shallot Butter and Crispy Bacon

In Sides and Sauces on December 10, 2011 at am

I made this side dish for my brother and sister over Thanksgiving weekend, 2011 and we all loved it.  This is simple yet elegant, and it’s subtly flavoured, making it a great side for any entree.

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The Best Butter Tarts Recipe (Placed 3rd in a Baking Contest!)

In Pies & Tarts on November 14, 2011 at pm

Butter tarts are a wonderful Canadian dessert.  (Speaking of wonderful Canadian things, have you tried ice cider?)  Butter tarts are individually portion sized tarts that have a flaky pastry shell and a sweet and gooey filling.  If desired, the filling can include raisins or pecans.  I made both variations in the photo above.  If you like pecan pie (see my recipe here), you’ll probably like butter pecan tarts.  Personally, I prefer the tarts.  I made these butter tarts for the first time over Thanksgiving, 2011.  We were amazed by how good the pastry was.  This was the best, buttery and flaky pastry I have ever made and these were the best butter tarts we had ever had.  Although they can be a bit messy to eat, this pastry is the perfect compliment for this type and size of tart.  The filling is soft and gooey, you won’t get crystallized sugar, and it doesn’t drip.

I was so happy with this recipe that I made several batches for my sister’s company’s annual charity baking contest on November 14, 2011.  I was too busy to make these the weekend before the competition, so I made them weeks in advance and froze them.  Although they’re better when fresh, these were still good enough to win 3rd place in the baking contest.  There were a total of 14 entries.  (See my dessert that won 1st place in last year’s baking contest here.)

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Cranberry Sauce Recipe (it’s not just for turkey)

In Sides and Sauces on January 17, 2011 at am

I love cranberry sauce with turkey, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to make it from scratch.  I will never buy canned cranberry sauce again.  It is very easy to make and can be made a few days ahead of time.  I made it for Christmas, 2010 and Ed – who doesn’t like cranberry sauce – surprisingly really liked it.  Now he understands why people pair cranberries with turkey.  🙂

The great thing about this cranberry sauce is that it’s not just for turkey.  You could add it to baked brie crostini or baked brie on crackers, use it as an accompaniment for pâté de canard (duck pâté), spread this on top of cheesecake (garnish with almond slices), or use it as a filling for layer cake or trifle.  You could even use this like jam on french toast, plain toast, pancakes, scones, muffins, or sandwiches.

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In Dim Sum, Rice and Noodle Dishes on April 6, 2010 at pm

Congee (jook) is Chinese rice porridge that can be served at any meal time (from breakfast to late night snack).  It can be a meal within itself or, if served plain, it can act as the rice substitute when eaten with meat and vegetable dishes.  Also, it is kind of like the Chinese equivalent to the Western chicken soup cold/flu remedy.  Congee is made by boiling rice in excess water.  Depending on the region in China, the texture, wateriness, seasoning, and accompanying side dishes of congee vary significantly.  So make it to your taste.  I like it all ways but I prefer congee that has been boiled until the rice breaks down, becomes very soft, and results in a slightly watery, semi-thick porridge.  Sometimes, I use my immersion blender to give the congee a smooth, homogenized consistency.

The best accompaniment for any congee is deep fried dough sticks (you tiao / yau char kwai). When I’m eating plain congee (on its own and not as a rice substitute), my favourite side dishes are the flavourful and cost effective salted duck eggs (see recipe here), spicy fermented bean curd, preserved vegetables with chili (ie. radish or turnip), pickled lettuce stems, or shredded dried pork (also known as meat floss).  I also love ground white pepper in my congee. To make plain congee, use my recipe below but omit the pork and preserved duck egg.

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Turkey and Stuffing Pinwheels

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Poultry on January 26, 2010 at pm

For thanksgiving 2008, Ed’s parents came to visit so I made them a thanksgiving lunch.  Instead of roasting a turkey, I made turkey and stuffing pinwheels and served them with hot gravy.  I served them as an entree but they would be great as an hors d’oeuvre at a party or for a pot luck.  I’ve also made these with chicken instead and they were just as good.

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Apple Tart

In Pies & Tarts on January 21, 2010 at am

Thanksgiving 2008, Ed’s parents came to visit me so I made them a big lunch.  For dessert, I made them a French Apple Tart and they couldn’t stop complimenting me on my dessert.  At that time, my desserts RARELY received compliments, haha, so I knew this recipe was a keeper.  I like it because it’s light, not too sweet, and beautiful.  It’s very easy to make, but there are several steps with waiting times so it’s not a quick recipe.

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