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The Happiest Birthday Ever Chocolate Cobbler

Prepare yourselves for greatness.

As you all know, Kerry was the master of the Friday food-related blog post. We were worried that Friday’s would never be the same, and let’s face it – they won’t be the same. But we still love food, and Kerry’s promised to grace us with delectable recipes now and again. Despite a different flavour to the Friday posts, the kitchen will still be open, so to speak.

Yesterday happened to be my birthday, and I also happen to love to bake. I also spend excessive amounts of time reading cookbooks, and trolling the internet for new recipes. Just the other day I stumbled upon a recipe for Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler on one of my favourite food sites, The Pioneer Woman. It had me intrigued. For one thing it started out incredibly unassuming, and then instructed you to add copious amounts of sugar. (Did I mention, there is nothing healthy about this cake?) And then! Then!

Water. Lots of hot tap water.

This made no sense. But the end result looked so delicious, I knew I would have to try. I just needed an excuse.

Enter my birthday. When else could I possibly justify consuming this much sugary goodness?

Believe me, there is no justifying this cake. It’s just that good. If you’re going to make it, just accept the fact that you’re going to the gym the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And you’ll probably still feel guilty. My advice? Repress the guilt, and indulge. I certainly did at breakfast this morning.

My son. A man after my own heart.

Because I don’t want to take credit for something that isn’t mine, (nor do I want to be blamed for enabling your soon-to-be addiction to this cake), I’m simply going to give you the link. That’s all. The link to the recipe.

It’s here.

And here.

And here. (Just in case you didn’t get it the first time.)

I’m going to propose a name change, because this isn’t your “Granny’s” cobbler. This is the Happiest Birthday Ever Chocolate Cobbler. Eat it. Be happy.

Best Wishes, Kerry


With so many fantastic qualities, it’s hard to define Kerry Patrick in just a few words. Exuberant? Definitely. Professional? Always. Customer driven, hard working, and downright fun – the woman has it all.

That’s why we feel so torn right now. On one hand, we’re happy for Kerry, on the other hand we are sad to see her go. Effective April 29, 2010, she assumes her new position as Account Executive for Mix 97, CJBQ & Rock 107. We’ll miss her laughter, warm disposition, and let’s face it – her culinary skills. Kerry can cook! If she wasn’t in marketing, she should definitely be a chef.

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Port – Portugal’s Prodigal Son

Port Wine

This weeks recipe was sent to me by my cousin in one of her Real Estate newsletters, I was instantly drawn in by the ingredients, some of my personal favourites; beef tenderloin, shallots, jelly, balsamic vinegar, rosemary & port, need I say more! I’m drooling as I type…

In my 17 years as a flight attendant (I wasn’t always a brilliant marketing consultant)I probably spent a total of about 6 months in Portugal – where I grew a fond appreciation for their country side, their food & yes, their Port!

Port is a fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. It gets its name from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River. It is commonly served as a dessert wine and is typically a sweet red wine, but also comes in dry, semi-dry and white varieties. Me, I’ll drink it any time!

Beef Tenderloin & Plum Reduction

  • 1 (1 ¾ lb.) beeftenderloinBeef Tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ cups sliced shallots
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup beach plum or red current jelly
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup ruby port
  • 2 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Brush beef with olive oil, sprinkle pepper and 1 ½ tsp of salt evenly on all sides. Cover beef with plastic wrap, and let stand 30 min at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 450. Cook beef in large skillet over med – high heat; brown all sides, about 2 min. Remove beef, place on broiler pan that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Bake for 20 min.

Port Wine

Remove from oven; cover with foil and let stand. Return skillet to medium – high heat; add butter and shallots to pan, stir 1 min. Add broth, jelly, vinegar, port, thyme, and rosemary; bring to a boil. Cook about 17 minutes. Remove from heat; add ¼ tsp salt if needed. Cut beef crosswise and serve with sauce.

Voila! It’s as simple as that, Enjoy!


Maple: it’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore…


I can almost taste it…I can definitely smell it, so sweet & sticky, like a heavenly gift, no, not from above, but from the Canadian Maple tree! You got it, springs best, maple syrup! The sap is flowing and the production is starting, in the next few weeks, March 27 & 28th to be precise, Maple in the County will attract visitors from all over to our brilliant agricultural hub.

When you think about it, the Maple tree has to be the “Goddess” of all tress. The amber liquid that flows from its loins has put Canada on the map, as the producer of the best maple syrup in the entire world. Kudos to us!


Everything is coming up maple, and so it should. We need to make sure that this decadent delight has its rightful place on our tables, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Every year at this time I can’t wait to make my trip to Black River Cheese, their Maple Cheddar is to die for, I’m truly addicted, it’s kind of like fudge, but cheese…

Cheddar Ale Soup

  • 4 Tbsp butter11510beer-will-change-the-world-posters2
  • Ground fresh pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 Bottle of your favorite beer
  • 3 – 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Cups light cream or milk, or 1 cup of each
  • 2 Cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 Cup crumbled Maple Cheddar for garnish

Melt 1 tbsp butter in pot on medium low heat. Add onions and garlic, sprinkle with salt & pepper, sauté until onions are soft.

Add beer, Worcestershire, and maple syrup. Continue to cook for a few minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer while you make the cheese sauce.

Melt remaining butter in saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour a bit at a time, stirring to keep it smooth. Cook butter and flour mixture for a few minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Remove from heat, add cream & milk slowly, stirring to keep it smooth and lump free.

Return cream sauce to the heat; add cheese a bit at a time, stirring constantly until it melts. Slowly add cheese sauce to the soup. Stir, making sure it doesn’t clump.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with crumbled Maple Cheddar & serve with toasted rye bread.

Voila, a yummy masterpiece! Now you deserve a pint or two of that beer that you put into the soup.


(Check out my salmon recipe from January, a hint of maple seals in the spices and adds amazing flavor)

Spring ahead with Kerry


After this weekend, it’ll be official, at least in my mind, Spring is here! We set our clocks forward tomorrow night, that’s right, it is time to Spring forward – yippee!

With grand thoughts of sunshine and warmer weather, the scent of fresh rain luring colorful spring flowers out of hiding and that oh so familiar sound of a spring robin singing it’s tune ~ out comes my gardening & cottage life magazines, and even more important, all of my spring recipes. Later comfort foods, don’t worry, we’ll hook up next winter!

Roasted lamb, mild and tender, delicate melt in your mouth flavor, so simple to prepare ~ and one of my favorites!

Spring Lamb With a Hint of Mint


  • 1 leg of lamb
  • Sea salt & fresh ground blk pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Large bunch of mint, washed, leaves only
  • 3 cloves of garlic, 2 minced & 1 sliced
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 250 ml chicken stock

Remove excess fat & thin membrane from lamb, wash and pat dry. Score lamb all over and season with salt & pepper. Randomly place slices of garlic score marks.

In food processor blend salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Dijon, mint and minced garlic. Slowly add oil to mixture, once blended, brush mixture over entire lamb. Place on rack in roasting pan, roast @ 450 for 10 min. to sear & lock in juices, then turn temperature down to 325 and cook for an additional 1.5 hrs (med. Rare) – 2 hrs (medium).


Remove lamb from roasting pan, tent with foil and lest rest for 15 min. Skim fat from pan drippings and add chicken stock, boil, scraping up any brown bits from pan. Keep sauce warm.

Slicing lamb from leg bone – Place lamb with meatier portion facing up. Grip shank end with a towel. Cutting down to bone, cut 1/4” thick slices. With knife parallel to bone, cut slices from bone. Turn lamb so remaining meaty portion faces up. Repeat same steps as above. Arrange on platter; drizzle pan sauce over top.

Serve with steamed baby carrots, tops trimmed & delicate spring asparagus.


Fridays With…Bryna?

S'More Cupcakes, c/o

S'More Cupcakes, c/o

Ok, ok, I know there’s something wrong with this picture! Friday is the day that Kerry normally provides you with an amazing-beyond-all-belief recipe to round out your week, and to highlight our love of food. This week, she’s just not able to do it, so here I am. They’ve left me to my own devices.

Luckily, I’m a bit of a closet chef myself. I certainly don’t boast over my dexterity in the kitchen, but I do dabble in the odd stove-top adventure. More so, I love to bake. Sugar and I go well together.

This recipe I took from the most delectable baking site – Bakerella. This woman is a genius, and she makes the cutest projects ever. Recently, my son’s school had a bake sale, and Bakerella saved my life. So here’s her recipe – and my pictures – of S’More Cupcakes.

S’more Cupcakes (c/o Bakerella)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup oil
6 jumbo marshmallows cut in half, plus more for decorating

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk. Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined. Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.

Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping. Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface. Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with more topping mixture.

In process...

In process...

Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath when you bake just in case. I had a little bit ooze over into the oven. Oops.

This recipe will make at least 12 cupcakes. I had a some batter from each left over so you can probably get more like 14-16.

Let cool and top with ganache.

Heat the butter and cream on the stove. Heat until just before it boils. Remove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour over cupcakes and add more marshmallows if you desire.

I skipped out on the ganache, but they were still delicious!

I skipped out on the ganache, but they were still delicious!

Go Canada Go!


Alex Bilodeau wins the gold for Canada in Men's Freestyle Skiing

2010 Winter Olympics –  what an awesome time for Canada! All eyes are on our country, and millions of people are gathering on their sofas, love seats and comfy spots, catching a glimpse of Canada’s best athletes.

Cheering on our local heroes, and all of the relaxing that goes along with it, can make one hungry, and yes, even thirsty. Why not whip up some Canadian themed munchies, such as Maple Bacon Puffs or Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus (not sure how Canadian this is but it is one of my favs).

Top it of by chilling out with a glass of wine from the West Coast. To learn more about the wines of British Columbia check out this link.

Maple Bacon Puffs

Two great Canadian ingredients are showcased in this recipe: Creamy brie from St. Damase, Quebec and pure Canadian maple syrup!

1 pkg. Presidents Choice Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (I find this the easiest one to use)
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp white wine or sherry
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 small round of St. Damase Brie, cut into 24 chunks
½ cup of grated Swiss cheese

Thaw puff pastry following directions on pkg. Once thawed, unroll on floured surface and use a pizza cutter to cut pastry into equal squares (approximately 24). Place pastry squares in a greased mini muffin tin. Place brie chunk in each cup.

Sauté bacon, once done, remove & drain excess grease (keep some grease in pan to cook the onions). Add onions to pan and cook on medium high heat; add pepper, maple syrup and wine/sherry and sauté till onions are golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Combine bacon & onions, let cool slightly, then evenly distribute mixture to pastry cups, top with shredded Swiss cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until puffy and golden brown.


Procuitto Wrapped Asparagus

Name speaks for itself, clean and blanch asparagus (no more than 3 – 5 minutes). Cut thinly sliced proscuitto and wrap each stock of asparagus. Place on platter and cover with vinaigrette of choice.



Bourbon, Beans & Bacon ~ now that’s comfort!!!

Here I go again, do you see the pattern here? Yes, most of my recipes include wine, beer or grog of choice. This time it’s bourbon, smooth, rich & sweet bourbon.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Baked Beans

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 stalks of celery (with leaves), chopped
  • 1 sweet green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (16-ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 6 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • Preparation

    Baked BeansCover & soak beans in cold water overnight to soften. Drain beans and discard the soaking liquid. Place beans in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off any scum, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 min.

    Drain the beans (reserving the liquid) & pour into a bean pot or heavy ceramic casserole dish that has 2 of the bacon strips placed at the bottom. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Cook remaining 2 strips of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked (not too crisp). Remove to paper toweling to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.

    Add onion, celery and green pepper to skillet; sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, molasses, tomato paste, bourbon, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes.

    Crumble bacon & add to sauce. Pour mixture over beans in pot. If mixture does not cover the beans, then add the reserved cooking water.

    Bake at 350 for 2 hours, then turn oven down to 250 and cook for another 1.5 – 2 hours. Check the beans during cooking to ensure that they are not drying out and if necessary add more water. Remove the lid in the final hour of cooking to allow the sauce to thicken.

    Enjoy as a side dish with breakfast, on it’s own as a heartwarming lunch, or as the sidekick to your main dish at dinner ~ pairs great with ribs!



    A Hungarian Chef in Our Midst

    With all of the talk about comfort foods and simplicity (I’m sure my begging her to cook my favorite dish might have guilted her into it as well), Kathy went home last weekend and felt inspired to cook some of her favorite traditional family dishes.  And guess what? On Monday, the Engine team got to reap the benefits of all of her hard work.

    Thanks so much for sharing Kathy! See her recipe and comments below.

    My family is Hungarian, so of course Hungarian Lecso is my most favorite comfort food. It is a cooked mixture of onions, yellow banana peppers, red peppers, tomatoes and paprika. Add some sliced Hungarian Sausage (or Polish Sausage) and it can be served as an appetizer or stew. I like to serve it over rice as a main course, but served with dumplings is the traditional way to eat it. You can also spoon it over scrambled eggs for breakfast, or over chicken for something different at dinner! Lesco can also be easily frozen for use at a later date.


    • 2-3 tbsp oil
    • 2 large red onions sliced
    • Traditionally, yellow sweet banana peppers are what you would use, but my family prefers to use red peppers also. I use 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper, and 5 or 6 red peppers seeded and sliced. (Do not use green bell peppers they have no flavor and will turn to pulp.)
    • 1 large, ripe tomato, diced. (You can use canned tomatoes if you drain them well)
    • 375g Hungarian Sausage Chopped into small chunks (Pillers Polish also works very well if Hungarian sausage is hard to find)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    • 2-3 Tbs. Paprika


    Heat oil in a large pot, add sausage and cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat to brown slightly. Add sliced onion, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until onion caramelizes slightly. Add salt, black pepper & paprika now. Mix together and cook for another 5 minutes.

    Add all pepper slices and the tomato and cook for an additional 15 to 20 min. on medium high heat.

    If needed you can add more salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Depending on the type of sausage used you may want to reduce the salt.

    Reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking for another 30 minutes or until peppers are soft.

    (The ratio of peppers to onions and sausage should be 2/3 peppers to 1/3 sausage & onion.)

    Spoon over rice or dumplings.

    lesco2Serves 4.


    Kathy recommends the Hungarian wine Bulls Blood to go along with this dish, may be hard to find but some LCBO stores will place a special order for you.

    There’s more comfort food on the Facebook Fan Page, as Bryna shares one of her favourite exotic, yet simple recipes: Vegetable Jalfrezi.

    “Simple” Traditions: Coq au Vin


    “A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”~ Elsa Schiaparelli

    To some of you cooking is magic. Well, it really isn’t. It’s the end result of all of your hard work that is truly magical! You know what I’m talking about, that moment you put fork to mouth, and the taste explosion sets off all of your senses – it’s complete satisfaction and a feeling of a job well done!

    I thought that we should continue with the “simple is better” topic from last week. Cooking doesn’t need to be complicated, or feel like a chore. If you follow the basics of good cooking then everything else should fall into place.

    For the next few weeks I will focus on some “simple” traditional. Comfort foods that are really quite easy to prepare. And did I mention, to die for yummy?

    One of my all time favorites and an oldie but goodie, is Coq au Vin. If you’re saying to yourself, “That’s that French dish. It must be difficult to make, and you probably need fancy French ingredients” – wrong! Simple, basic ingredients maks up this classic comfort dish. (Yes, I consider wine and cognac to be basic fundamental ingredients.) The most trying step is cutting up the whole chickens. But I’ll walk you through it. (If you want to simplify this even more, purchase chicken pieces instead of cutting up your own chicken)

    Cutting up a whole chicken

    • Place chicken, breast side down. Trim and discard any fat at cavity and neck
    • Starting at body cavity, cut as loosely as possible along both sides of backbone. Cut off wing tips. Reserve both wing tips and backbone to make chicken stock. (Throw them in the freezer for later use)
    • Turn chicken over; open up slightly and cut in half through middle of breastbone.
    • Place chicken halves, skin side up. Lift one leg at a time and cut along contour through skin and meat to separate leg from body.
    • Bend back thigh and drumstick until joint pops. Cut through skin and meat at joint.
    • Divide each breast in half; leaving wing attached to one half.
    • Trim off excess skin and fat from chicken pieces; discard any shreds of bone.

    Coq au Vin (serves eight)

    This is a combination of the infamous Julia Child’s recipe and a Canadian Living Classic.

    –         2 chickens, cut up (or 6 lbs of chicken pieces)

    –         Salt & pepper

    –         2 tbsp butter (you may need more as you cook the veggies, it’s ok, butter is an important ingredient)

    –         2 pkg pearl onions peeled

    –         1 lb button mushrooms (about 6 cups)

    –         1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

    –         2 cloves garlic minced

    –         6 thick slices bacon, chopped

    –         1 bottle of red wine (Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti), 2 cups go in recipe & you drink the rest!

    –         2 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth (homemade stock would be preferable)

    –         1 bay leaf

    –         3 tbsp flour

    –         1/4 cup cognac

    –         2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

    In a Dutch oven cook bacon over medium heat. Sauté slowly until golden brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat half of the butter over medium-high heat; brown chicken in batches. Drain excess fat from pan and put any chicken back in pan that was removed while cooking in batches.

    Pour in the Cognac, turn heat up to high, shake pan a few seconds until bubbling hot; ignite. Let it flame briefly while swirling the pan, extinguish flame with lid.

    Heat remaining butter in another pan; cook in batches, first the pearl onions (transfer to bowl) then the mushrooms & thyme (if mushrooms are small keep them whole). Tip: if you want your mushrooms to brown nicely then don’t crowd them, cook in batches. Cook for about 5 min., add garlic and cook until golden brown, then transfer to same bowl as onions.

    Add mushrooms and onions to pan with the chicken. Add cooked bacon, wine, broth and bay leaf, stirring and scrapping up brown bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 min.


    Stir flour with a little bit of cognac or broth, to make smooth paste; stir into pan along with parsley. Simmer until thickened, about 10 – 15 min. Serve with wine of choice!

    Bon Appetite,