Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Cakes

Having frozen rhubarb to bake into a spiced rhubarb & orange cake in the middle of winter is a treat! Rhubarb is treasured by many simply for its sophisticated flavor. Those who love rhubarb, value its tart pungency, which more often than not is mellowed with sugar and made aromatic with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or orange rind.

Sweets are the staple at the end of a meal; the luring incentive for the kids to eat their vegetables, the weakness for many dieters, and the go-to fix for those with sugar addictions.

Hot or cold, a simple mini dessert can turn an average meal into a memorable event. Rhubarb and orange is a much-loved flavor combination, making this recipe a perfect winter dessert. 

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Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Pudding
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Instructions
  1. Place orange in a deep saucepan, cover with water. Place saucepan over high heat & bring to a boil. Place a lid on it & reduce heat to low. Simmer until the orange is very tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain, quarter & set aside to cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter six-1 cup ovenproof baking dishes.
  3. Place rhubarb, brown sugar, spices, vanilla & water in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer & cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until rhubarb thickens. Remove from heat & set aside.
  4. Place cooled orange quarters with the skin on into a food processor & puree until smooth. Add flour, butter, buttermilk, sugar & eggs & process until smooth.
  5. Divide batter among prepared baking dishes. Place on a baking tray & bake for 40 minutes or until tops are golden.
  6. Serve warm topped with spiced rhubarb & whip cream.

Biscotti

Biscotti are time consuming to say the least, but they’re also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you’ll ever make. No special equipment is needed; just a bowl, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.

The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: the dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word ‘biscotti’ to refer to various cookies, North Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that biscotti became a treasured North American favorite.

Despite their centuries old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs, which is the traditional method, while others use butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.

Today, it seems, biscotti is everywhere with an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut to gingerbread, maple walnut or mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are so good when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses or even a bowl of soup.

Since the holiday season is upon us and as you have probably noticed, I like making the most of basic recipes with some variations. Being able to make four different flavors using one basic recipe definitely speeds up the process.

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Biscotti
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
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Instructions
Biscotti Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. TO MAKE 80 BISCOTTI IN TOTAL, USE ONE RECIPE OF THE BASIC BISCOTTI DOUGH FOR EACH VARIATION. THE MIXING PROCEDURE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, JUST VARY EACH ONE WITH THE DIFFERENT ADDITIONS.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla extract (add orange zest in CARDAMOM ORANGE variation). Mix until combined.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, (SPICES where called for), baking powder & salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing on low until JUST incorporated. Add CITRON PEEL or PEPITA SEEDS & CRANBERRIES to the variations calling for them.
Shaping & Baking
  1. For each recipe (or variation), shape dough into a log that is about 16-inches long. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the dough logs until they are about 3/4-inch thick. Gently press the sides & ends of the logs to even them out & flatten them.
  2. If desired, sprinkle logs with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden & the center of the logs is almost firm & bounces back when touched.
  3. Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 F. Using a sharp knife to cut the logs into 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices. Press straight down with the knife, rather than using a sawing motion. Lay the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.
  5. You will have roughly 20 biscotti from each variation.
Recipe Notes
  • Since I have a nut allergy, sadly I can't use them, but don't hesitate to make some variations of your own.

Benedictine Liqueur Mini Cupcakes

The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. The concoction was so well-received that the Benedictine monks of Fécamp continued the liqueur’s production up until the French Revolution. One of the Benedictine monks had a copy of the recipe for the elixir in a book he gave to a friend for safekeeping during the Revolution. That friend’s grandchild was Alexandre Le Grand.

Over 300 years later in 1863, Alexandre le Grand, a wine trader from Fécamp sought to resurrect it. After a year of attempting to recreate the mysterious brew, le Grand finally succeeded, transforming it into the liqueur it is today. He named it Benedictine, in honor of the monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli, and went on to erect a palace that would house its distillation: the Palais Benedictine in Fécamp.

Its recipe remains a secret, known by a select few and with only three copies in existence, each kept safe in a different locale. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The ingredients are carefully combined and slowly distilled several times in copper stills that date back to the time of Alexandre le Grand. The liquid is then aged in oak casks for approximately two years and always stored at the Palais Benedictine. With an ABV of 40%, it is classified as a brandy and often served as a digestif after meals or used in cocktail recipes.

During the Middle Ages, about 90% of the population of Europe was the non-landowning laboring class, with the remainder split between the nobility and church. The monks were the keepers of most scientific and medical knowledge, as they were literate and often spent time copying important texts from one monastery to the next. Some monasteries operated hospitals and probably all had medicinal herb gardens and apothecaries (pharmacists) on site to make medicines for themselves and the surrounding community.

The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

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Benedictine Liqueur Mini Cupcakes
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Cupcakes
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 mini cupcake pans ( 2-inch diameter) with paper liners.
  2. Place sugar & zest in the mixer bowl & blend until moist & fragrant. Add butter & beat until white. Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each one.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt & baking powder. With mixer on low speed, add the flour, milk & liqueur alternately, scraping down sides of the bowl. Divide cake batter between the 24 paper lined cups.
  4. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until risen & baked through, testing with a toothpick in the center of the cupcake. Remove from baking pan & allow to cool.
Frosting
  1. Combine butter & cream cheese with a mixer until smooth & creamy. Blend in Benedictine liqueur. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency. If you are using a pastry bag ensure that you have a medium consistency.
  2. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake then garnish as you wish.

Poinsettia Cookie Wreath

There are certain plants that play important and often mysterious roles in holiday traditions and celebrations all over the world. From the Egyptians who decorated trees during the winter solstice, to the Pagans and Druids who used mistletoe in their winter customs, stories of ritualized plant use span continents and history and have become infused into the mythologies that span generations. I’ve always wondered how poinsettias and Christmas became intertwined. After a bit of research this is what I found.

It seems the story behind poinsettias is rich in history and lore. The vibrant plants are native to the rocky canyons of Guatemala and Mexico. Poinsettias were cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs, who valued the red bracts as a colorful, reddish-purple fabric dye, and the sap for its many medicinal qualities.  The poinsettia was first associated with Christmas in southern Mexico in the 1600s, when Franciscan priests used the colorful leaves and bracts to adorn extravagant nativity scenes.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said, ‘I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus happy.’

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

Although it doesn’t pre-date Christianity like its Christmas counterparts, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the reds and greens of the poinsettia.

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Poinsettia Cookie Wreath
Instructions
Poinsettia Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar & flavorings with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour & salt until combined. Divide the dough between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten each into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 heavy sheets of plastic wrap into a square about 1/8 inch thick. You should be able to cut (9) 3-inch squares from it as well as have some edges left for making about 18 leaves. Re-wrap & refrigerate dough scraps while you shape the poinsettias.
  5. Cut a 1 1/2-inch slit in all four corners of each dough square to form 8 points. Fold over every other point, moisten tip with egg white & press into the center of the square. Arrange cookies on prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you repeat the same procedure with the other disk of dough. 
  6. Cut enough leaves out of the scraps using a sharp knife or a leaf-shaped cutter, making 2 leaves for each poinsettia. Arrange the leaves on plate & lightly brush with egg white, then sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Lightly brush the poinsettias with egg white & sprinkle half with red sanding sugar & half with white sanding sugar. Brush the ends of 2 leaves & tuck underneath each poinsettia on opposite sides. (No need to press the dough; it will meld together as it bakes.) 
  9. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately press a yellow (chocolate) candy in the center of each warm cookie. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assembly
  1. Using a bit of gel paste from a purchased tube, anchor each cookie in place on top of wreath base to form 'poinsettia wreath'. Finish with adding a ribbon or some holly leaves & pinecones or personalize to your own taste.
Recipe Notes
  • I like to save the heavy plastic wrap from frozen puff pastry for recipes like this. When you roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap as opposed to using flour on your board, it really keeps the dough from becoming so dry.
  • I found if I took the poinsettia cookies out of the oven about 5 minutes before they were finished baking & pressed the candy center in then returned them to the oven, the candies stuck to the cookies better.

Chili Cheese Quiche

If you haven’t had quiche lately, it is time to remedy that situation. I could eat quiche for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without ever growing tired of it. This recipe takes the classic chili con carne and turns it into a quiche which makes an ideal winter meal, right?

Cornmeal crust is the perfect foil for meaty and cheesy savory pies. Not only is the rustic texture and flavor of cornmeal pastry a nice change, but it also helps if you have something that is super juicy to avoid soggy bottom pies.

If you like quiche and cornbread, you’ll love this. The cornmeal crust gives a sort of cornbread feel while maintaining the flaky composure that any great crust should have. This is one of my favorite crusts to use for savory pies, tarts and galettes.

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Chili Cheese Quiche
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
Eggs/Milk
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
Eggs/Milk
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
  2. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Press dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, sauté beef, onion & garlic until meat is cooked & any liquid has evaporated. Stir in spices, corn, tomato sauce, beans. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Eggs/Milk
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk & seasoning.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Roll out pastry to fit a 9-inche quiche pan. Place filling mixture in crust; sprinkle with cheese then pour milk mixture over the cheese.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until set. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.

Persimmon Lemon Mini Hand Pies

Let’s face it: we live in a world of portable food. Much like with many heritage recipes, there’s room for debate about how to make a proper hand pie. Historically, hand pies were primarily created with reconstituted dried fruit–apples, peaches–since fresh fruit often is too wet to be supported by the delicate pastry. Today, a blend of dried and fresh fruit (or a generous amount of thickener) yields a nicely balanced mixture of flavors and texture.

Hand pies are very often deep fried, but can be skillet fried (preferably in cast iron) or baked for those who are wanting something more health conscious. The dough is typically an adapted form of biscuit dough instead of traditional pie crust, which is better able to withstand the frying process without splitting or leaking filling.

Persimmons are typically in season from September to December. As soon as I see them at the grocery store, I just can’t resist making them into something special. Using my favorite cornmeal pastry gives them a bit of an interesting crunch and balances out the sweet persimmon filling.

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Persimmon Lemon Hand Pies
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
  2. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Persimmon Filling
  1. In a skillet, melt butter & sprinkle sugar evenly over it. Add peeled, sliced persimmons & sauté until liquid is bubbling & lightly golden. Reduce heat & continue cooking until persimmons are tender (if you wish, thicken any juices with cornstarch). Add 5-spice & salt. At this point you can either mash persimmons to make a filling or you can puree them in a food processor,
Assembly/Baking
  1. Prepare egg wash. Remove pastry from fridge & roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut into 18 rounds. On each round place a heaping teaspoon of persimmon filling. Fold in half & seal with your fingertips. Place the mini hand pies on a parchment lined baking sheet & keep in the fridge or freezer while you continue to make the rest of the pastries.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. Brush egg was all over the pastry crusts. Bake for about 12 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven & place pastries on a wire rack to cool.
Lemon Glaze
  1. Grate lemon to make lemon zest for top of pastries. In a small dish combine powdered sugar with enough fresh lemon juice to make a runny glaze. Dip pastry tops in glaze then sprinkle with lemon zest & silver dragees.

Cheddar Pear Tart

Why do we eat cheese with fruit? Most people don’t question the notion. Our earliest image of enjoying cheese is a still-life of a glass of wine, a slab of cheese (probably brie), and a fat cluster of grapes.

We eat fruit with our cheese because the combination of flavors are complementary, because the fruit brings out certain notes in the cheese, or vice versa. You have sweet and juicy against salty and savory, firm versus soft, nutty with candylike, and so on and so forth.

This sweet pear and cheddar tart is the best of both worlds. Bosc pears are beautiful; they have a crisp, dense, slightly grainy texture with a sweet flavor and subtle hints of fall spices. So I’m thinking why not make it a trio? Port wine is a sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal that pairs wonderfully with aged cheddar cheese. What’s not to like??

This elegant pear tart is topped with cheddar streusel and served with a raspberry-port wine sauce.

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Cheddar Pear Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Raspberry-Port Wine Sauce
Cheddar Streusel
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Raspberry-Port Wine Sauce
Cheddar Streusel
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Instructions
Sauce
  1. Puree raspberries in a blender. Pour into a wire sieve placed over a bowl to remove seeds. Add port wine to raspberry juice. Chill. Alternatively, whisk in cornstarch & place in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly until sauce cooks & thickens. Set aside to cool.
Tart
  1. Line a tart pan with a removable bottom with foil paper then a piece of parchment paper. Spread 170 gm of the shredded cheddar cheese evenly in bottom of lined pan. Chill.
  2. Prepare pears & place in a large bowl, toss pear slices with lemon juice if using. Layer pears over shredded cheddar in baking pan. Chill.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, 5-spice & 60 gm shredded cheddar cheese; cut in butter & sprinkle over pears.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until top is browned. Cool on a wire rack.
  6. Place on a serving platter, cut into wedges & serve with raspberry-port wine sauce.

Spicy Apricot Mango Stilton Galette


This spicy galette makes an interesting dessert with the sweetness of mango and apricot fruit, as well as savory with the creaminess of stilton, crunchy pepitas, and the perfection of a cornmeal pastry crust.

Stilton cheese takes its name from the village of Stilton, in the east of England. White Stilton has a light, fresh, slightly acidic flavor that makes it a perfect partner for fruit.

White Stilton with mango & ginger is a blended cheese which incorporates mango and ginger to impart a sweet, savory intense flavor to the traditional Stilton cheese. Stilton on its own is extremely creamy and delicious but the addition of fruit accords the cheese a new dimension. As it melts, the unusual combination of the mango adding a fruity flavor and the ginger adding a mildly warming, spiced overtone. White Stilton with mango & ginger is perfect for a breakfast or dessert cheese.

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Spicy Apricot Mango Stilton Galette
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Servings
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
  2. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Filling
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, anise seeds, cloves, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon & sea salt. When mixture starts to bubble, add dried apricots & mangoes. Cook, stirring often, until fruit is soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  3. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press out chilled pastry into a 13-inch circle. Spread mixture evenly over dough, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold pastry over filling, pleating to hold it in. Sprinkle with crumbled Stilton cheese. Brush with egg wash (if using).
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes until filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Remove from oven & sprinkle with pepita seeds. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If filling seems too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice.

Krispy Chocolate ‘Eyeballs’/ Halloween Brownie Bites

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

While trick-or-treating has been a tried and true modern Halloween tradition, historians say the origins of kids begging their neighbors for food may date back to ancient Celtic celebrations or even a long-lost Christmas custom. Halloween customs, such as wearing disguises to ward off ghosts and offering food to appease malevolent spirits, were brought to Canada in the mid-to-late 1800s by Irish and Scottish immigrants. North America’s first recorded instance of dressing in disguise on Halloween was in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1898, while the first recorded use of the term trick or treat was in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1927.

Every Halloween, children on the hunt for candy dress up in costumes, knock on doors and ask homeowners the infamous question: ‘Trick or Treat?’

Lethbridge historian Belinda Crowson said research has confirmed the term ‘Trick or Treat’ was first documented in the Lethbridge Herald on Nov. 4. 1927.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word ‘trick or treat’ to which the homeowners gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

Crowson says Oct. 31 in Lethbridge used to be a big night of pranks, saying kids would take part in ‘gate night’ where they’d remove gates from yards and hide them around the city. The occasional outhouse was also moved on Halloween night, sometimes onto a streetcar track for it to be pushed down the route by the unknowing driver.

Alberta’s known for many things: the Rocky Mountains, the oil industry, the Calgary Stampede. But you wouldn’t think that it’s also home to one of the most beloved Halloween traditions, that is, trick-or-treating.

Having lived in Lethbridge years ago, for about 25 years, I was not aware that the term trick or treat had originated there until I stumbled on it when I was doing some research … who knew!!

Nevertheless, Halloween has rolled around again so here’s a few treats to enjoy.

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Krispy Chocolate 'Eyeballs'/ Halloween Brownie Bites
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Ingredients
Shortbread Crumbs for 'Eyeballs'
Caramel / Chocolate & Rice Crispies
Halloween Brownie Bites
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crumbs for 'Eyeballs'
Caramel / Chocolate & Rice Crispies
Halloween Brownie Bites
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Shortbread Crumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour; using your fingers, work together to a crumbly but moist dough. Place mixture in baking pan and press down with the back of a spoon until firm and smooth. Bake shortbread until cooked but not browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, lift out of pan with parchment paper & cool. When cooled, break into pieces & place in a food processor. Pulse to create shortbread crumbs. Set aside.
Caramel / Chocolate
  1. Place a heavy bottomed, non-stick pot, over a larger pot of boiling water. To the top pot add condensed milk, butter & brown sugar. Stir until combined, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring continuously for a full 5 minutes. Add the milk & white chocolate & continue stirring until melted.
  2. Turn off heat under the boiling water. To the caramel/chocolate add shortbread crumbs & rice crispy cereal. With a rubber spatula, combine mixture.
  3. Keeping the pot over the hot water so the mixture doesn't harden to fast, scoop into small balls to form 'eyeballs. Place on a parchment paper lined tray. The scoop I used made about 44 balls. Press candy eyeballs into chocolate balls. If they aren't sticking well, dip them into a bit of white corn syrup first.
Halloween Brownie Bites
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 30 mini cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch & salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat sugar & eggs on high speed for 5 minutes, until it becomes light & pale in color. Melt the butter & add it along with oil & vanilla. Mix on low until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients, continuing to mix on low speed until combined. Put aside about a 1/4 of a cup of the brownie batter to use for decorating. Place a small scoop of brownie batter in each of the mini muffin cups.
Cheesecake Layer
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar & vanilla extract on high speed for 1 minute. Add the orange food gel & mix until desired color. Then add the egg & mix on low speed. Place a Tbsp of cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Add the 1 1/2 Tbsp HOT water to the remaining 1/4 cup of brownie batter & whisk until combined.
  2. Drizzle the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter in 2 circles (per brownie). With a toothpick draw lines from the center to the outside edge, creating a spider web effect.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes or until not a lot of batter remains on a toothpick when tested. Cool on a cooling rack completely. Decorate with Halloween spiders, cats, ladybugs etc. These are nice when wrapped in foil & chilled overnight.

Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs

Don’t think for a moment that cabbage doesn’t belong on pizza — it definitely does. When the days grow shorter, we start to crave heartier meals. Cabbage is good … meatballs are good … cabbage/meatball pizza is double good! Here’s a new spin on the classic pizza – topping a pizza crust base with meatballs, cabbage, spices & cheese.

People have been piling ‘stuff’ on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.

Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal.

Cabbage is an unsung kitchen hero. It’s actually one of the most versatile veggies in your arsenal. If you’re just reserving it for slaws and salads, it’s time to broaden your horizons and discover some of the amazingly delicious things a simple head of cabbage can do.

While the dough is pretty critical, the toppings are just as important to get right. Specific toppings will come down to personal preference.

The duo of sautéed cabbage & meatballs makes for a hearty, satisfying topping perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather. 

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Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs
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Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. In a bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes until foamy; add butter, salt, sour cream & potato & mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Cabbage
  1. In a large pot, place thinly sliced cabbage, water, sugar & salt. Cover & simmer for a few minutes until cabbage is soft & has reduced in volume. Place cabbage in a dish. Melt butter & oil in pot then add flour & cumin to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring so that there are no lumps as it thickens. Add cabbage to roux & cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from stove & stir in fresh dill & chives; set aside.
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Form into 28 balls & place on foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until JUST cooked. do not OVERBAKE as they will bake some more when they are on the pizza.
Assembly
  1. Line a 9 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press out pizza dough over the bottom & up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a bit of the smoked cheese on the crust, then place a layer of half the cabbage mixture & lightly drizzle with a small amount of tomato soup (sauce). Repeat again with cheese, cabbage & sauce. Roll cooked meatballs in remaining tomato sauce. Place meatballs, in rows on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Garnish with fresh dill, slice & serve.