Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Jul 26, 2010

Fresh Red Currant Pie

Yesterday, when we were at our church in Arborfield (120 km / 80 mi from Hudson Bay), a nice lady named Eleanor Alyea gave us a big bucket of red currants. We'd never tried using fresh currants before, so we came home and combed both cookbooks and the 'Net. Here's one of the dishes we came up with:

Fresh Red Currant Pie
The currants lend this pie a stunning red colour, which contrasts beautifully with the pale crumb topping. A very patriotic, red & white Canadian pie!

Filling Ingredients:
  • one prepared but uncooked, 9-inch / 1 L pastry crust, bottom only (either homemade or storebought)
  • 1 cup / 125 ml sugar
  • 3 Tbsp / 45 ml tapioca (the no-cook kind)
  • 3 cups / 750 ml fresh red currants
  • 1/3 cup / 75 ml water 

Crumb Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 cup / 250 ml flour
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml chopped nuts (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp / 45 ml butter
  • 1 Tbsp / 15 ml oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F / 220 C.
  2. For the Filling: In the bottom of the crust, sprinkle a small amount of sugar from filling ingredients. Mix remaining filling sugar and tapioca together, then add the currants and water; pour into crust.
  3. For the Crumb Topping: Mix together flour, sugar and nuts (optional). Cut in butter and oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Cover pie with topping mixture.
  4. Bake at 425 F / 220 C for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F / 180 C and continue baking 25-30 more minutes.
  5. Serve pie when warm, with a dollop of ice cream if desired.

Jul 22, 2010

Our first French Press

Good coffee is one of the joys of our everyday life.

Living in coffee-savvy Vancouver in the late 90s, we absorbed the coffee culture into our pores. From Julie's work at our college's coffee bar, Footnotes, we learned how to choose the best coffee - made from arabica (the best beans), bought in whole bean form, and then ground in small batches at home. Steve even acquired the taste of coffee for the first time, during this exploration of what makes for a great cuppa.

Through the Grinder (A Coffeehouse Mystery, #2)Lately, we've been improving our coffee-making process even more. First, Julie read the Coffee House Mysteries, a series featuring a barista at a coffee bar. The books are filled with coffee tips, and we learned that leaving coffee on the burner of a drip coffee maker actually burns it over time. As a result, we bought a coffee thermos, and our coffee tasted even better.

Then we visited Minnesota's Caribou Coffee, a fine coffee chain headquartered in Minneapolis, and one of our favourites. They advised that a French press produces the best coffee of all. So off we went to get a French press.

What we found? A French press really DOES do the best job. Besides that, it's a very small, portable and inexpensive kitchen item that can be bought for about $10 and is dishwasher-safe. The process is a little more lengthy than a drip coffee maker, but it's worth the trouble for the end product. Here's how it works:

Our French press - photo by Julie
First, put the kettle on to heat some water. While that's heating, grind your beans. Place 1 Tbsp of ground coffee per 4-ounce cup in the bottom of your French press. When the kettle boils, let it cool just slightly from the boiling point, then pour the water over the grounds in your French press. Place the filter & plunger on the French press but do not push it down yet - set a timer for 4 minutes (our press came with one pre-set). When it beeps, press the plunger down very slowly to filter the coffee.

Then - voila, du café magnifique! The coffee will be noticeably different, with a somewhat murky look, as well as deeper colour and far richer flavour than a drip maker produces.

The French press has made our already pleasant everyday coffee routine even more special and interesting - we hope it will do the same for you.

Jul 19, 2010

Slow-Cooker Pickle Roast

Need an easy, people-pleasing supper that won't take too much time, heat up your kitchen, or keep you from enjoying company and all the other perks of those lazy, hazy summer days? Try this pickle roast - we loved it, and so did our guests!


1 beef roast
1 jar pickles, undrained (any style/flavour works; you can also add some relish if you like)

Place beef in slow cooker. Pour pickles and their juice over the beef. Cover. Cook on low 8 - 10 hours. Remove beef to platter and shred with fork.

Serving Suggestions:
Pile onto toasted buns and serve with salad. Or make it into a traditional meal by serving with potatoes/rice and vegetables of your choice.

- Modified from Crock-Pot Five Ingredients or Less Cookbook.

Jul 18, 2010

Green Tea Tiramisu Cake - by Julie

By popular demand, here's how to make my 2010 birthday cake. (Check out the photo I took of our cool cake, below.) This recipe comes from a Malaysian-Canadian friend, Chin-Wei Eow. She has a wonderful Malaysian cookbook that is “fusion” baking at its best, blending Western baking methods & cake types with Asian ingredients & tastes. Disclaimer: Those unfamiliar with Asian desserts and flavours may not find this cake to be to their taste.

The Utensils Needed:
Springform cake pan (20-25 cm / 8-10 inches in diameter works best)
Two round cake tins the same diameter as the springform pan

Time Needed:
2 – 2 ½ hours from start to finish

The Cake:

1 whole egg
6 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
100 g / ½ cup flour
5 ml / 1 tsp baking powder
1 ml / 1/8 tsp salt
80 g / 1/3 cup cooking oil
15 g / 2 Tbsp green tea powder (available in Chinese grocery stores)
50 ml / ¼ cup water
25 ml / 1/8 cup milk
6 egg whites
2 ml / ½ tsp cream of tartar
140 g / 2/3 cup superfine (berry) or caster sugar

1.      Grease the two cake tins with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F. In a large bowl, place whole egg, yolks, flour, baking powder, salt, oil, green tea powder dissolved in water, and milk. Whisk by hand until combined and smooth. Set aside.
2.      In a small-medium mixing bowl, mix egg whites on high speed until stiff and glossy. Add cream of tartar and sugar gradually, in small increments, while still mixing on high. When mixture is once again stiff and glossy, fold it into the other mixture in the large bowl.
3.      Pour well-mixed batter into the two round cake tins and bake approximately 30 minutes. (Cakes may need a little less or a little more time, but they are done when a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.)
4.      While cake is baking, start preparing filling according to instructions below. (You can finish it while the cake cools.)
5.      Remove cake from oven and invert onto metal rack immediately.

The Filling:

5 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
80 g / 1/3 cup superfine (berry) or caster sugar
500 g / 1 lb mascarpone cheese at room temperature (or substitute: blend 250 g / 8 oz low-fat cream cheese with 250 ml / 1 cup fat-free sour cream until smooth)
5 egg whites
50 g / ¼ cup superfine (berry) or caster sugar
30 ml / 1/8 cup water
30 ml / 2 Tbsp unflavoured gelatine
60 ml / 4 Tbsp hot water
500 ml / 2 cups prepared whipped cream (lower-fat version: prepare 1 envelope of dry whipped topping powder)
Optional – 160 ml / 2/3 cup cooked red beans (used in Chinese desserts; if using these beans, soak them overnight and then cook on stove or in slow cooker, 1 part beans to 3 parts water, for 2 hours.)

1.      Tip: It is best to prepare the filling so that it can be used immediately on the cooled cakes. If filling is refrigerated, it will gel and not spread well on cakes.
2.      Mascarpone custard: Place egg yolks and first amount of sugar in a double-boiler and stir over simmering water until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in mascarpone or substitute.
3.      Meringue: While waiting for egg mixture to cool, whisk egg whites on high in a small-medium bowl until stiff. Meanwhile, bring second amount of sugar and water to a boil. Gradually, add this mixture to the stiff eggs. Beat another 2 minutes on medium.
4.      Gelatine: Dissolve the gelatine into the water.
5.      In another, large mixing bowl, prepare whipped cream or topping according to package directions. Fold into this the mascarpone custard, meringue and gelatine mixtures.

The Assembly and Decoration:

Cooled cakes
Prepared filling
Green tea powder to sprinkle
Optional – more whipped cream
Optional – cooked red beans

1.      Place one cake into springform pan. Spread half of the filling evenly on top of cake. If using red beans, spread them on evenly as well.
2.      Place second cake on top of filling. Spread the rest of the filling on top of cake.
3.      Chill for a few hours or overnight, until set.
4.      Just before serving, top with whipped cream if desired. (Tip: if cake is not going to be eaten all at once, leave whipped cream off whole cake and instead add it by the piece as it is cut.) Sprinkle green tea powder over cake or by the piece to decorate.

Serving Suggestion:
Try this tea cake with green tea  or green chai. The American Stash company’s green chai pairs very well with the cake, picking up on the green tea flavour and enhancing it by adding a flavourful blend of spices.

Recipe modified from the original found in Delicious Cakes, by Amy Heng. Published by Y Three K Publisher, www.y3k.com.my.