Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is Here!

Spring has sprung in Southern Ontario gardens a few weeks early, but who's complaining!

The bees are already hard at work.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Anniversaries Merge

In a recent post about Anniversaries I noted that both the Sinking of the Titanic and the Opening of the Chateau Laurier occurred 100 years ago this April.

What I didn't realize is that the official launch of the Chateau Laurier , originally due to open on April 26, 1912 had to be postponed when it was discovered that owner and Grand Trunk Railway President, Charles Melville Hays, an American, had lost his life that fateful night of April 14/15 when the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down.

The Chateau Laurier recovered from this inauspicious beginning to become one of Canada's best known hotels. Located adjacent to Canada's Parliament Buildings in downtown Ottawa, the Chateau has hosted royalty and dignitaries from every walk of life and was home (on the 3rd floor) for many years to famed photographer, Turkish-born, Yousuf Karsh and his wife, Estrellita. Karsh had his studio on the 6th floor of the Chateau from 1973 to 1992. The elegant lobby is a showplace for many Karsh photographs of famous people. His photographic equipment is now displayed at Ottawa's Museum of Science and Technology, while the National Archives preserves more than 300,000 Karsh items, including negatives, prints and manuscripts.

In 2000 Karsh and his wife moved to Boston, where he died in 2002 at the age of 93. He is buried in an Ottawa cemetery

Plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Chateau Laurier include an on-going memorabilia search, public Open Doors events June 2/3 with costumed guided tours, a year-long Centennial Tea starting April 26 and a "culinary journey through time," with menus reflecting the past decades.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Shortening is one of those baking ingredients that I used liberally, making cookies and other baked goods when our family was younger. We all ate it up!

Shortening makes baking tender and flaky, but it fell off its pedestal as the go-to fat when it was divulged that, as a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, it was high in trans-fats and, therefore, bad for our arterial health.

Then about 5 years ago Crisco, the had-been staple in my pantry, underwent a transformation to make it safer to use for all of us health-conscious folks. With 50% less saturated fat than butter and zero grams of trans-fats per serving, shortening may again be used with impunity for all that delicious baking.

 As in these Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Another Anniversary

Here's another Anniversary that I didn't know about until I looked at the Toronto Star this morning:
the 100th Anniversary of the Oreo Cookie!

Oreo, the world's top-selling cookie turns 100 years old today, March 6, 2012.

There are 21 Oreo factories in the world and the cookie is sold in more than 100 countries. Canada is the fourth largest market after the US, China and Venezuela. 

To celebrate the great occasion of Oreo's 100th Birthday, the Montreal Oreo Factory has been opened for visitors and corporate chefs came up with a couple of special recipes. There's more information and an interesting video at The Toronto Star.

Here are the recipes:

Oreo Cookies & Cream No-Bake Cheesecakes

24 Oreo cookies
2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream
250-g package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
8 Mini Oreo cookies (optional garnish)

Finely chop 8 Oreos. Spoon into eight clear glasses. Coarsely chop remaining 16 Oreos.

In medium mixing bowl, beat cream with mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup (125 ml) for garnish; refrigerate until ready to use.

In medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on high speed until creamy. Stir in remaining whipping cream. Add coarsely chopped cookies; mix lightly. Spoon over cookie crumbs in cups. Refrigerate until chilled, about 6 hours.

To serve, garnish with reserved 1/2 cup (125 ml) whipped topping and mini cookies, if desired.
Makes 8.

Oreo Banofee Parfait
(sorry, no picture)

1 cup (250 ml.) whipping cream
2 tbsp (30 ml) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 ml) brewed strong coffee, chilled (optional)
12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
2 bananas, thinly sliced
6 tbsp (90ml) dulce de leche (or other caramel spread)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form. Whisk in coffee, if using.

Layer half chopped cookies and half whipped cream mixture in six dessert dishes, clear glasses or martini  glasses. Top each with bananas and dulce de leche. Top each with remaining whipped cream mixture and remaining cookies.

Serve immediately or refrigerate several hours. Makes 6.