Friday, August 3, 2012


Blame it on the weather!  Grandma has just been in a mood to do nothing but procrastinate the last couple of weeks.   Hide behind the video game controller, whittle away the hours on Facebook, whatever.  Sure, she entirely finished unpacking the house and scrubbed, scoured, dusted and mopped every single inch in preparation for a very important visit that ended up not happening.  She's cooked a few things despite the heat.  Read a couple of books. Mostly though, Grandma has just been hiding.  We're all entitled to do that now and then.

Since this is the beginning of the month,  Grandma has lots of things to talk about and a few recipes to pass along, like this  favorite summer sandwich:

Smoked Salmon Wraps

These Smoked Salmon Wraps are fantastic picnic food.  You'll need a large flour tortilla or wrap for each sandwich you intend to make.  Spread some softened goat cheese (Grandma likes to use the kind that comes with herbs on the outside) abou 2 inches in from one edge of the wrap.  Top with a handful of well washed and dried mesclun or mixed baby lettuces, some red or vidalia onion sliced paper thin, a few half-slices of tomato and some smoked salmon.  Grandma prefers the Alaskan style smoked salmon that has a texture much like canned tuna fish, but lox-style smoked salmon is good too.  Grandma happened to have a perfectly ripe avocado the day she made this wrap, so there is a bit of that in there too.  When you're done adding filling, fold the two outer  edges over the ends of the filling, then roll up the sandwich just as you would an egg roll.  Cut in half to serve.

Hot Off the Press -

David Cowles has been slaving much of the summer over his latest, The 18th Element and is it ever good!

Las Vegas attorney Marshall Blair arrives home to find the drop-dead-gorgeous corpse of Mercedes Wilson stretched out on his bed in a pool of blood—her throat slashed and multiple stab wounds in her chest.

Marshall doesn’t want to become personally involved in helping Las Vegas Metro police solve the crime, but he feels a strong obligation to help find his almost-client’s killer. He innocently volunteers to notify Mercedes’ employer, Argent Mining, of her murder.

 Denise Pare-Watson has just released the fourth book in her series about Chocolate Desserts, Chocolate Desserts Made Easy and Delicious - Gluten Free Chocolate Desserts   Denise has been super-excited about developing the recipes for this volume.  Here's the scrumptious brownie recipe she sent me while it was in the works:

CHEF TALK:  Finally!  A true chocoholic’s gluten free brownie – a can’t miss recipe that is beyond the comprehension of mortal chocolate lovers!  A recent celiac guest was in heaven when she tasted this brownie and claimed she would be forever in my debt for creating it! When someone says they would take a bullet for you because of this brownie – you know it must be good!  The top of the baked brownie is slightly more puffy and crunchy than a normal brownie, otherwise there is not much difference in how it appears.  As with any brownie, it is important not to overbake.
Makes: One 9 x 13 inch pan
 INGREDIENTS:10 oz. dark (70%) baking chocolate (275 g)
1 cup unsalted butter (225 g) 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (280 g)
4 eggs, large2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (10 ml)1 cup Gluten Free Rice flour blend (150 g) (see below)1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (35 g)
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder (6g)¼ teaspoon salt (4 g)½ cup pecans, toasted, chopped (approximately 45 g)4 oz. milk chocolate, cut into chunks4 oz. white chocolate, cut into chunks
 METHOD:1.     Preheat the oven to 350oF (175oC) or 325oF, if using a convection oven. Prepare your pan by greasing the bottom and lining with parchment paper, using the parchment handle method. Set aside.
2.     Combine the dark chocolate and butter into a bowl and place over a bain-marie.  Stir to melt the chocolate slowly. Allow to cool.
3.     In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and the vanilla, mixing to incorporate. Stir in the melted chocolate and butter mixture.
4.     Combine the gluten free flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and the salt together. Add to the egg/sugar/chocolate mixture, mixing to incorporate well.  Mixture should now be cooled.
5.     Stir in the pecans and the chocolate chunks.
6.     Fill the prepared pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the brownie shows a few remaining moist crumbs clinging to it.  This is a very dense, moist brownie. Do not over bake.
7.     Cool completely.  Chill thoroughly before topping or cutting.
8.     TO SERVE:  Although the brownie is lovely as is, a thin layer of ganache is a perfect topping (See below)
·       When freezing, ensure that the brownie is well chilled, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container.  Label and freeze.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
LEARNING TIPS:   Toasting your Nuts; Extracts; Preparing Your Pans; Parchment Paper Handle Method; Bain-marie; Cutting Your Brownies; Cocoa Powder; Ganache
 “Never, ever refuse homemade brownies!”

Grandma didn't include the recipe for the Gluten Free Rice Flour blend - you'll have to grab the book for that recipe and dozens more scrumptious Gluten Free cookies, cakes and pies - all in chocolate!  TIP:  You can download this for free today only, August 3, 2012.

 Grandma adores a a good mystery. Cloaks and Veils showed up on the doorstep a few weeks back from the Amazon Vine program.  Grandma gave this a 5-Star review.  The Kindle Edition is on sale this month for $2.99

Here are the rest of the monthly 100 -

August 100 Kindles - $3.99 or Less

Pie lovers will be enamored of Not-So-Humble Pies: An iconic dessert, all dressed up.  This is another Vine selection that came Grandma's way.  The book features an extensive selection of pie crusts - 19 of them, that range from traditional to unique flavors like Lemon-And-Lavender Short Crust and Pepper Jack Pastry - as well as a very nice selection of toppings.  Two in particular caught Grandma's eye.  Stabilized Whipped Cream is a god-send, allowing you to make all of those beautiful piped decorations in advance while preventing your whipped cream from separating.  Foolproof Meringue produces a no-weep meringue for mile-high toppings on your Lemon Meringue.

Most of the recipes are for no-bake, single crust pies and tarts.  Many of them look so good Grandma is not quite sure where to start.  Not all of them are sweet pies either - there is a nice selection of "dinner pies".  As soon as Grandma comes back from the store the Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Tart is definitely on the menu!

Here's the recipe for the Foolproof Meringue:

There are not many things more impressive than a pie topped with a toasty, billowing cloud of perfectly whipped meringue.  Sadly, meringues have a reputation for being rather tricky to prepare, but this recipe takes all  the fear out of meringue making.  This topping is exceptional on cream and custard pies because the light texture contrasts nicely against the thick custard filling.  This is also lovely on fruit fillings, if you're looking for a change of pace.

Serves 8

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
6 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the cornstarch into the water until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a small pot; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the starch thickens, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat the egg whites on low speed until they become foamy, about 2 minutes.  (This gives the whites a good base to build on.)

Increase the speed to medium and beat until the egg whites are just starting to increase in volume, about 1 minute.  Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time (if you addd the sugar too fast it may clump) along with the vanilla and beat until the mixture forms soft peaks, about 1 minute.

Continue beating the egg whites, incorporating the cornstarch mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.  Beat until the mixture forms firm peaks, about 2 minutes.  Immediately spread over pie filling and bake.

Still hot and Grandma's youngest is here to visit, so she'll leave the rest till tomorrow!

Stay cool!


  1. Noooo... I wanted the whipped cream recipe, I even thought about buying the book to get it.

    Nice post:)

  2. Hi Grandma,
    This is Appleheart (EChiong) and I was wondering if you have a good recipe for pickling green tomatoes. I had a recipe when I was living in Houston but cannot find it now that I need it. Lots of green tomatoes in the garden and I wanted to pickle some of them.
    I tried to e-mail you but it's not getting through which is why I am posting here.
    Thanks for the smoked salmon wrap - I have smoked salmon in the freezer and now I can use it! My sister who was visiting from home brought me a lot and I have given away most of it to friends...
    Thanks so much.
    EBC aka Appleheart

    1. Hi Appleheart -

      I do have a good recipe for pickling green tomatoes - a couple of them in fact. I'll dig them out and post them in a bit. I envy you a freezer with smoked salmon in it. Hope you enjoy that wrap as much as I do. My email is

    2. Hi Grandma,
      I wasn't sure if you remember me, glad you do.
      Thank you for the pickling recipe for green tomatoes, will be looking for them.
      The smoked salmon wrap was sooo good that friends are asking me for the recipe!!!
      Heck, if you were here in NJ, I'll give you some.
      I have added your email to the addressbook. I'll use that from now on. I'll put Appleheart in the subject so you'll know it's me, OK?
      Thanks again.


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