Saturday, May 31, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Banana Bread

Decisions, decisions, decisions….
Every so often there’s a bulk sale that makes one wonder.
If it’s something you can toss in the freezer, like frozen fish, no problem.
But then there’s the problem of fresh produce, like bananas.

Okay, when bananas start getting brown and mushy, you can peel them, toss them in a freezer container, mash them and freeze for later baking.
But they do tend to get a rather nasty look.
Another option is to bake some Banana Bread… now.

No yeast is involved.
It makes a nice easy dessert, and it’s healthier than cake.

                        Banana Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Sift together
4 Cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Peel and place in a large bowl
6 large very ripe bananas
Mash well.

Preheat oven to 350º

Combine in a large bowl
1 Cup margarine
2 Cups packed brown sugar
Beat together until fluffy.

Add, one at a time, beating after each addition
4 eggs 

Add the mashed bananas and the sifted dry ingredients
(3 banana, 2 dry additions)

Stir in
1 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Place the mixture in 2 well greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Let cool 5 minutes and remove from pans.

Oh, if your carrots are looking sad, why not make a Carrot Loaf?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Love It or List It by Margaret Ullrich

Summer has returned to Winnipeg.
I’m always amazed by the way seasons change in Winnipeg.
As Manitobans say, “Don’t like the weather?  Wait five minutes.”
On May 14 we had snow, and the evening temperature dipped to -6º C, but thanks to the windchill it felt more like -8º C.
On Saturday, May 24, we had thunderstorms and broke records at 33.3º C.

Since Monday I’ve been working on our garden.
Everything is a bit behind schedule.
Normally by now our chokecherry would have bloomed.
It’s only in bud now, but the rhubarb has enough for a pie or two.

But other than being off schedule, everything seems to have survived the winter, which was a record breaker for cold and snow.
The winter kill in my garden was about the same as usual.
And I found a lovely surprise - the peony I planted last year survived!!
Okay, it’s not in flower yet, but I’m still grateful to see the shoots coming up.

I shouldn’t have been so hard on Robyn Okrant and her devotion to Oprah.
Lately I’ve been watching shows like Love It or List It (both the original and the Vancouver versions) and the Canadian show Property Brothers.
No, I’m not interested in the extremely popular open concept floor plan, even though everyone seems to ask for it on those shows.
But I like getting some up to date ideas for decorating.

Our current house was built in the mid 80s.
Since our other house had been built in 1911, it seemed the height of modern to us.
I do cringe when the young couples say "Oh, that's so 80s!"
Who knew home decor fashions change as rapidly as clothing fashions?

In 2012, New York Times' columnist Gail Collins noted that Love It was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's favourite TV show.
Vanna White and actress Julianne Moore also like it.
Hillary Clinton finds the show "very calming”.

Wonder if the open concept would work in the White House?

About tonight’s new moon in Gemini…
According to the folks at
If you've been waiting for your life to turn more interesting, the wait is over! A new beginning in this information-loaded sign sparks your imagination, while also bringing intellectually stimulating conversations and fun people into your life! 

Listen carefully to what people have to say, and be sure to read books, articles, and online content. This is a wonderful time to learn what you need to know to be successful… 
don't believe everything you read or hear until you conduct a thorough review.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Anna Sultana’s English Muffins / Quicky Bread Pudding / English Muffin Pizza

During Prince Charles and Camilla's recent visit to Winnipeg I posted Ma’s recipe for crumpets.
I also explained the difference between crumpets and English muffins.
You’re right, I should’ve included the recipe for English muffins.
Well, here's the recipe.

English muffins were also a regular part of my childhood.
Luckily they were easier to find in our German / Irish town.
So easy that a German neighbour introduced me to a quicky bread pudding recipe, which used English muffins.

English muffins are a little different from crumpets.
English muffins are similar to bagels in that they are split before serving.
But both crumpets and English muffins make use of those tuna tins.


If you want to check the temperature of the liquids, warm means about 115º F.

If you want to store a few for later, allow them to cool before placing in plastic bags.

                              English Muffins

18 muffins

Have on hand

Place in a small saucepan
1 Cup milk
Heat it gently until it bubbles, then remove from heat.
Mix in
1 Tablespoon sugar 
Stir until dissolved. 
Let cool until lukewarm.

In a small bowl combine
1 Cup warm water (110º F)
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine
the warmed milk
the yeast mixture
1/4 Cup melted margarine
3 Cups flour
Beat until smooth. 

1 teaspoon salt
3 Cups flour
Stir in the additional flour.
Knead 10 minutes. 
Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise 1 hour.
Punch down. 

Sprinkle cornmeal on waxed paper.
Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick. 
Cut rounds with an empty tuna can (or a biscuit cutter or drinking glass).
Set the rounds on the cornmeal. 
Dust the tops of the muffins with cornmeal. 
Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.

Heat a greased griddle on medium heat.
Cook muffins on the griddle about 10 minutes on EACH side.
Keep cooked muffins in a warm oven until all have been cooked. 

To use, split and toast. 
Great with butter, or cream cheese and jam.
You could also make a small pizza from the split English muffin.
All you need do is top each half with tomato sauce, cheese and salami.
Or anything you like.
Then broil a few minutes until the cheese melts.

Oh, about that quicky bread pudding recipe…
Sometimes Ma asked our German neighbour to babysit me.
She and her husband didn’t have children, so they didn't have kiddie type snacks.
Which was lucky for me.
Mrs. Kekelia would make a bread pudding, just for me.

                              Quicky Bread Pudding

Split 1 English muffin and butter both of the cut surfaces.

Place in a small saucepan
1/2 Cup milk
the buttered English muffin halves
Heat the milk gently until it bubbles, then remove from heat.
Place the English muffin in a bowl.
Pour the warm milk over it.
Top with
1 Tablespoon sugar (or cinnamon sugar)

Preparing more than one serving of Quicky Bread Pudding?
Nothing could be easier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Crumpets

The couple arrived last night under cloudy skies, light rain and a strong wind.
Today Prince Charles will go to the zoo and feed a polar bear.
Camilla will tour the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
After attending a more formal event tonight they’ll head home. 

It’s a damp, unpleasant day here today.
Time to get cozy with a pot of tea and a crumpet.

Crumpets are the perfect afternoon tea treat, served warm with lots of butter, or jam for an extra special treat.

When I was a kid, my family and I lived in a German / Irish town.
Crumpets weren’t a hot seller in College Point.
Ma always kept a few well-washed tuna tins for making crumpets.
Sometimes she just wanted a crumpet and nothing else would do.

What is the the difference between crumpets and English muffins?
• Crumpets are made with milk, but English muffins aren’t.
• Crumpets are made from a loose batter. English muffins are made from a dough. 
• Crumpets are served whole with the jam and butter are spread right on top. English muffins are split before serving.
Now you know.


Just to be clear - remove top and bottom lids and the labels of the tuna tins.
Give them a really good scrub.

If you want to check the temperature of the liquids, warm means about 115º F.

If the batter seeps from under the ring it is too thin, beat in more flour. 
If the crumpet is heavy and without holes, the batter is too thick, add more water.


In a large bowl beat together
2 Cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Combine in a separate bowl
1 1/4 Cups warm water
1 1/4 cups warm milk 

Beat the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until batter is thick and smooth. 
Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until spongy, about 1 hour. 
Stir dough to reduce sponginess.

Place the rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat oven 150º F
Grease an ovenproof skillet and 4 tuna tins.
Place the tins in the skillet and preheat them in the oven about 10 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven and spoon batter into the tins, filling them about halfway. 
Let the crumpets cook until the bottoms are browned, the tops appear nearly dry, and popped bubbles appear on top, about 5 minutes.

Use tongs to lift the tins out of the pan.
Remove the tins from the crumpets. 
Flip and return crumpets to skillet to cook the other side 1 minutes.  
Keep cooked crumpets warm on rack.
Repeat with remaining dough.

Maybe Prince Charles will feed a crumpet to Hudson, one of the polar bears at the zoo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Anna Sultana's Queen Elizabeth Cake #2

It’s finally getting warmer in Winnipeg.
Yep… it’s time for the royals to come to Winnipeg for another visit.

In 2012 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip came to Winnipeg.
That visit went more smoothly than their 2002 Winnipeg visit.
That’s when Queen Elizabeth’s boat broke down mid-river.
She had to be towed by another boat which was carrying her security detail.
No harm done and we all got a royal chuckle out of it.

I still admire Queen Elizabeth - nothing gets her down. 
All she said was "That was interesting," as she was helped from one boat into the other to reach shore.
Prince Charles has a lot to live up to with her as a role model.

Oh, well, it won’t be long before it’s Prince William and Kate’s turn.
And then there’ll be the adorable Prince George Alexander Louis.
In New Zealand Kate revealed that Prince George isn't a big fan of vegetables.
She and Prince William have had to sneak them into the 8-month-old’s food.

About two years ago I posted Ma’s recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake.
It’s a Date and Walnut Cake with a brown sugar coconut topping.
I posted it because in 2012 we were celebrating Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

To be honest Ma had two recipes.
I posted the one she usually served.
The other recipe has a sauce.
By the time Ma had made the cake and topping she figured it was enough.
But, maybe for a wedding, christening or jubilee it’s worth the bother.

No matter, they are both great cakes.
To honour a great Queen.
And I’m sure Kate wouldn’t have to sneak a slice of either into Prince George.


The sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to five days if stored in an airtight container.  Heat it up again before using. 

Store the cake at room temperature, covered, for up to three days.

                        Queen Elizabeth Cake

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350º
Grease and flour an 8 inch springform pan

In a saucepan place
1 Cup water
1 Cup pitted dates, cut up
Bring to boil. 
Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until water is absorbed.
Set aside.

Sift together
1 1/2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl beat until creamy
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat in
1 large egg

Beginning and ending with the dry, stir in sifted ingredients, alternating with the date mixture.
Mix well after each addition. 

Stir in
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
Turn into prepared pan.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare
Brown Sugar Coconut Topping

Combine in a saucepan
1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 Cup unsalted butter
3/4 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Stirring constantly, bring all ingredients to a boil.
Simmer over low heat 3 minutes.

After cake has baked, spread topping on cake.
Place under the broiler for another 10 minutes.
Topping will bubble.
Watch the cake closely to prevent the coconut from burning. 
Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing. 
Transfer to a cake stand or plate.

For the Sauce

In a saucepan place
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup heavy cream
Bring all ingredients to boil, then simmer, stirring constantly.
Serve the sauce with the cake, while it’s still warm or at room temperature. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I'm Turning 64 by Margaret Ullrich

Well, it’s happened again.
A couple of weeks ago we turned 64.
So it goes.

My birthday this year was a bit different.
Paul and I were driving to Sioux City, Iowa for a model railroader convention.
There wasn’t a birthday cake in sight.
No problem.  Been there, done that.

A few years ago I posted about unfriending Facebook.
After our return I deleted some "friends" I had realized weren’t exactly "friends".
Yes, it was the same thing I had done after we returned from Dubuque.
Maybe there’s something about traveling that makes one realize how little one needs.

Last year I wrote about being a teenager during the 1960s.
Music was a big part of the era, and it wasn’t just the Beatles.
Turn! Turn! Turn! was a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s.
But it became an international hit in late 1965 for the American band The Byrds.
It was based on Ecclesiastes which was credited to King Solomon.

If you haven't heard it - or folk music wasn’t your thing - here are the lyrics:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; 
A time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; 
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

So much to do, but time enough for everything that is important.
Sixty-four is still in the pre-officially senior category.
I’m not focusing on images of grandparents waiting to die in Florida.
But I’m also not as patient with time wasters as I used to be.

There’s time to gather with friends, to laugh, to dance.
To enjoy the beauty and pleasures of life.
But it’s also time to do the planning and paperwork for when I’m 65.
And time to cast away.

About tonight’s full moon in Scorpio… 
Some folks call it a Full Flower Moon
It’s also called a Milk Moon, a Flower Moon and a Corn Planting Moon.
Whatever… it’s a time to plant.

According to the folks at
Leave plenty of room for opposing points of view during this intense full Moon! Scorpio rules whatever you share with others, whether it be joint finances, insurance matters, taxes, or any aspects of intimacy. 
How you approach difficult discussions now is crucial. While you'll certainly feel strongly about what you want, others likely will as well! 
Saturn weighs in with messages of responsibility and accountability. 
Figure out what's worth fighting over and what you can let go.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away...
So it goes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Sauce, Maltese Style

Ma's recipe for Bebbux bl-Arjoli is one of my most popular posts.
Ma also has another recipe for Bebbux bl-Arjoli.
If you haven't tried them, they are recipes for Snails with Arjoli Sauce.
Yes, snails.

But they are very good sauce recipes.
And many people serve the sauces with shrimp.
Arjoli Sauce is spicy and some folks would prefer something a bit milder.
No problem.
This recipe is milder and is easy and quick to make.

                        Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Sauce

In a large skillet, heat
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds raw shrimp, medium sized, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
Saute until just pink, about 2-3 minutes.
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
Cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds.
Transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.

Place in the skillet
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup dry white wine
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1/4 Cup minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Bring the liquids to a boil. 
Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.

Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. 
Serve garnished with 
4 lemon wedges
Sprinkle with
1 Tablespoon minced parsley

Serve with rice or pasta and a nice salad.

The shrimp can also be served with hobz biz-zejt (Maltese bread with oil)
cut into small pieces as an appetizer or first course.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Churros with a chocolate sauce and caramel (Doughnuts for Cinco de Mayo)

I recently posted two recipes for Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, which is on May 5.
Alfajores are Spanish sandwich cookies, similar to Maltese Figolli.
Yes, they do take a bit of work.
Ma’s Coconut Almond Snacks recipe is easier.

I got an e mail about another Cinco de Mayo dessert: churros

They are long, thin doughnuts served with a caramel custard, called Cajeta and a chocolate sauce called ganache.
We’re not talking an easy dessert.
But it is delicious and impressive.
And they could be just the thing to top off a party meal.

If you want to make an easier type of doughnut, you could also make St. Joseph's Day Zeppole, also known as Sfingi.
Sfingi has a lot of Mediterranean mojo attached to it.
As Carmela explained: 
If it is not St. Joseph's Day, you can just shake these, without the filling, 
in a bag with cinnamon sugar and serve them like donuts.

You've been warned.


When you add the baking soda it will become bubbly.  That’s okay.
The longer you cook the Cajeta mixture, the thicker it will become, and the more intense the caramel flavour will be. Once it cools it will become even thicker.
If it’s too thick for your liking, stir in a bit of hot water. 
If it’s too thin, return it to the heat until it thickens.
As in the Alfajores you could use sweetened condensed milk.

If you don't have a deep-frying thermometer, test the oil by slipping a bit of the dough into the oil.  It should sizzle and turn brown in 1 minute.

Don't crowd or they will stick together and won't fry properly.
Be careful that it doesn’t splash.


For the Caramel (Cajeta)

In a heavy-bottomed pot combine
4 Cups milk 
1 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Place over medium heat.

In a small cup combine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
2 teaspoons water

Cook the milk / sugar mixture, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the dissolved baking soda.
When the bubbling stops, return the pot to a low heat and simmer.
Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and darkens, 1 – 2 hours. 
Once it has reached the desired thickness, remove it from the heat.
Allow it to cool completely. 
When the cajeta is completely cooled, transfer sauce to a resealable jar. 
Refrigerate if not using immediately, then warm up when you’re ready to serve it.

For the Chocolate Sauce (Ganache)
Place in a heat-proof bowl 
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Set aside.

Place in a medium pot
1/2 Cup whipping cream
Over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. 
When it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. 
Stir until all of the chocolate chips have melted and the ganache is smooth.
Serve warm with churros for dipping.
Or keep stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the Churros

On a baking sheet combine
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Cup sugar
Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil.
Reduce the heat to low.
Add all at once
1 Cup flour
Stir well until the flour is completely mixed in.
Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until the dough
begins to leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan.
(Don’t rush this - you want the dough to dry so the doughnuts will crisp.)
Remove from the heat.
With an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat in
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Continue to beat until smooth and shiny, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. 
Set aside.

In a deep saucepan or deep fryer pour
about 2 inches vegetable oil
Heat to 350ºF on a deep-fry thermometer or test with dough.

When the oil is heated, pipe 4 to 8-inch segments of dough into the hot oil, using scissors to cut the dough after piping. 
Use tongs to keep them from touching each other. 
Fry the dough for 5 – 7 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the churros with a slotted spoon.
Drain on paper towels.
Toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve the churros warm with cajeta and chocolate ganache for dipping.
Churros are best served the day they are made.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Coconut Almond Snacks

No time left to make Alfajores.
No problem.
Ma’s Coconut Almond Snacks will do quite well.


You can also melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at half power for about a minute, stirring every 20 seconds.

                              Coconut Almond Snacks

Preheat the over to 400º F. 
Spread over a baking sheet
3/4 Cup raw almonds
Bake for about 4 minutes. 
Let them cool.
Chop them finely.

In a mixing bowl place
2 Cups shredded unsweetened coconut
6 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix well.
Add the toasted, chopped almonds and mix well.
Form the coconut mixture into small balls.
Chill 20 minutes.

Place in a small pot
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Stirring constantly, melt the chips over low heat.
Drizzle the melted chocolate over the chilled balls.
Keep the snacks in a covered container in the fridge until ready to serve.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Alfajores (Sandwich cookies for Cinco de Mayo)

Winnipeg is proud of our summer festival Folklorama as a way for us to get to learn about our neighbours who are from other countries.
Well, in Queens, New York in the 1950s, we kids had our own way to learn about the foods that other people ate.
All we had to do was open our lunch boxes together.

We’d nudge each other and say, “What’s that?”
We’d swap, and, more often than not, decided we liked eating something new.
We’d ask our Moms to ask our friends’ Moms for the recipe.
Our Moms were better than the internet for sharing recipes.

Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, is on May 5.
It’s time to enjoy some Alfajores.
Alfajores are Spanish sandwich cookies, similar to Maltese Figolli.
Instead of the almond filling they have a dulche de leche filling.
That’s a caramel custard.
Then the cookies are rolled in coconut.


The dough can be chilled in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
Remove the dough about an hour before baking.

If the dough cracks while rolling it out, let it warm up slightly.
If while you’re cutting out the circles, the dough gets too soft, re-wrap and chill it for about 15 minutes. 

Dulche de leche will take at least an hour to get thick enough to spread. 
In a rush?
Sweetened condensed milk can be used in place of the milk and sugar in the homemade dulce de leche.
Cook, stirring constantly, until it’s a nice brown colour.


Yield: 14-16 sandwich cookies

Shortbread Cookies

In a large mixer bowl beat until combined
1 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup icing sugar
Stir in
2 Cups flour
The dough will be stiff, so you may have to knead in the last of the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. 
Wrap and chill about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F  
Grease two baking sheets 

Unwrap the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. 
With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick.
Cut out cookies using a round cutter.
Re-roll scraps and cut out again. 
Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake about 12 – 15 minutes. 
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Dulce de Leche

Have on hand
1 Cup sugar

Place a large pot over medium high heat and let it heat up.
Sprinkle in a little sugar.
When it starts to melt, sprinkle in a little more. 
Use a wooden spoon to stir the sugar into the caramel.
Continue sprinkling in sugar a bit at a time, letting each addition melt. 
Start to add more at a time until all the sugar has been added. 
When the sugar has melted entirely, lower the heat.
Stirring constantly, gradually add 
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel melts. 
When it begins to thicken, stirring constantly, gradually add  
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel is smooth.
Stirring constantly, gradually add 
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel is smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together 
2 Tablespoons sugar 
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Stirring constantly, add 1/4 Cup of the caramel mixture to it.
Combine well.
Stirring, gradually add the remaining caramel mixture.

Return the mixture to the pot and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens.
This will take about 20 – 30 minutes; keep an eye on it - it can burn easily.
Once cooked, pour it into a bowl.
Allow it to cool completely before filling your cookies. 
Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Form Sandwiches
Place between two cookies
about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche 
Gently squeeze them together. 
Roll in
1/4 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)