Friday, June 16, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Cream Scones


Strawberries and cream go together so well.
But sometimes one can have too much of a good thing, as in a leftover cup or two of heavy cream.
If you’ve had your fill of berries - or would like something to serve with a cup of tea - why not make a batch or two of cream scones?


This is a quick and easy recipe that will make light and airy scones.
The heavy cream replaces the butter and milk.
Don’t get too excited about the recipe not needing butter - the calories are about the same.


Hints:

This recipe calls for currants, but it will work with other chopped dried fruit, such as dried blueberries.
Blueberries go well with lemon zest.
Dried cranberries and orange zest make a good combination.

If you have extra zest you can combine it with 2 Tablespoons sugar to sprinkle on top.
If you don’t have zest, you can add 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract when you add the vanilla.
Don’t have either extract? Use an extra teaspoon of vanilla.

The clotted cream is in the dairy section of most supermarkets.

To reheat scones, wrap loosely in foil and heat at 300 F for 10 minutes.

Don’t have leftover cream? Try these scone recipes:


                        Cream Scones

Makes 12 scones 
                       
grease and lightly flour a large cookie pan         
preheat oven to 450º F  


In a large bowl, mix together
1 2/3 Cups flour
3 to 4 Tablespoons sugar 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange or lemon

Stir in to coat
1/2 Cup currants

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
Add
1 Cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Stir lightly with a fork.
Dip your hands in flour and knead about 6 times.
Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and place them on the prepared cookie pan.
Dip your hands in flour and shape each piece into a circle, gently patting to flatten into 2 5-inch rounds.

Dipping a knife in flour before each cut, cut each round into 6 wedges. 
Brush the tops with a little milk, cream or melted butter.
Sprinkle each round with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve warm with butter or clotted cream.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Grilled Greek Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce, Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice


Ah… June in Manitoba!!

Time to be outdoors, live outdoors, eat outdoors!
Make a great meal, toss a salad, fire up the grill, call the gang over and have fun!
Time to celebrate - weddings, graduations, whatever.
And the family favourite -  Father’s Day!

Check out this page that has links for some of our old favourite barbecue recipes.
And, hopefully, something that will become a new favourite for you.


Father’s Day has changed a bit over the years.
In 2006 I wrote a piece for the CKUW radio show 2000 & Counting - Older & Wiser.
The story got a chuckle from the other hosts and the staff then.
I hope it will get the same today…

Wishing all you Dads a great Father's Day!


Hints:

If you're using wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes before threading the chicken pieces onto them. Wrap the ends of the skewers with foil before placing them on the barbecue to prevent them from burning as the chicken cooks.

Don’t have a barbecue? This will also work in the broiler.


                        Greek Chicken

6 - 8 servings

Cut into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Combine in a large bowl
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Stir in the chicken breast pieces.
Let chicken marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.

While the chicken is marinating prepare the sauce.

                        Tzatziki Sauce

Peel and chop
1 small cucumber
Spread the pieces over a paper towel.
Sprinkle over the cucumber
1 teaspoon salt
Let sit 30 minutes, then pat dry.

Finely dice
1 green pepper

Place in a strainer over a medium bowl
1 1/2 Cups plain yogurt
Let drain 15 minutes.
Discard the drippings and scrape the drained yogurt into the medium bowl.
Add
2 Tablespoons mint
2 Tablespoons parsley or coriander
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
the prepared chopped cucumber and diced green pepper
Stir together, cover and refrigerate.

Thread the chicken pieces onto 8 skewers. 
Discard the marinade.

Heat the barbecue to medium high heat.
Grill 12 to 15 minutes or until done, turning occasionally. 
Serve chicken with the tzatziki sauce.
For a starch, how about pita bread or a hot cooked whole grain or rice?
A salad with crumbled feta cheese would be nice, too.


About the sky this week and next, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

June 15 - The ringed planet Saturn will light up the night sky from dusk till dawn today. Earth will be positioned between it and the Sun, bringing Saturn to what astronomers call opposition. Saturn is opposite the Sun.

June 17 - Last Quarter Moon, 7:33 a.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon. While summer hasn’t officially started quite yet, stargazers can still spot the Summer Triangle on these spring evenings at dusk. Look for a triangle that’s composed of the three brightest stars in the sky: Deneb, Vega, and Altair. 
Lean more about the Summer Triangle here

June 19 - Look to the east one hour before sunrise to spot brilliant Venus and the waning crescent Moon paired up in the sky. Hope for clear skies! The Moon and Venus rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest celestial bodies after the Sun.

June 21 - Summer Solstice at 12:24 a.m.. This is when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the celestial equator. Summer is officially here!  

June 23 - New Moon 10:31 p.m. The Moon is also at perigee, its closest to Earth for the month. A super new Moon!

If it rains on June 27, it will rain for seven weeks.
If it rains on St. Peter’s Day (June 29), the bakers will have to carry double flour and single water; if dry, they will carry single flour and double water.

Rain on Peter and Paul (June 29) will rot the roots of the rye.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Strawberry Sangria and June’s Full Strawberry Moon

The May we had in Winnipeg has been on the brisk side.
To be honest, so cold we had the heat on last week.
But now it’s June, and that means Summer.
Okay, not really for three more weeks, but the cottages have been readied and everyone has summer on the brain.

Sangria is perfect for this time of year.
It has something alcoholic (usually wine - either red or white) and chopped fruit. 
The alcohol is a bit watered down, so there’s less risk of dehydration.
Think of it as a warm weather version of mulled wine.
In honour of June’s Full Strawberry Moon, why not make a pitcher of Strawberry Sangria.

People first talked about sangria in the 18th century. 
Some say they got the name from the Spanish word sangre (blood) because of the red colour of the drink.
Others say it comes from Sanskrit as in the Urdu word sakkari (sugared wine).

Whatever… in the late 1940s Hispanic Americans and Spanish restaurants introduced Sangria to the United States and it really became popular when the 1964 World's Fair in New York was in full swing.


Hints:

Dry white wines such as a Rueda, Jumilla, or Valdepeñas are traditional for sangria with white wine.
Other popular choices are Pinot Grigio, moscato and Sauvignon Blanc.
You can also use red or rose wine.

Don’t have strawberries? No problem. You can use whatever fruit you have on hand, such as apples, peaches, melon, berries, pineapple, grapes, kiwifruit or mangoes. 
You can sweeten it with honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice. 
Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up can be used to top up the pitcher. 

Allow the sangria to mellow in the refrigerator for several hours, or a full day.
Add the soda (if you’re using it) just before serving.
Have on hand plenty of ice to refill the bucket. 
This way your friends can add as much ice as they want, and the flavour won’t get watered down.

For the kiddies you could make sangria using ginger ale, lemon juice, orange juice and sugar.
And lots of fruit!


                        Strawberry Sangria

Yield: 8 servings

Cut into thin slices
1 lemon or orange

Slice
3 Cups fresh strawberries

Pour into a large pitcher 
2 750 ml. bottles of dry white wine (see above for ideas)
Add 
2 Cups strawberry-cranberry juice or strawberry nectar or pomegranate juice
the sliced strawberries
the lemon or orange slices

Cover the pitcher and place it in the refrigerator. 
Let chill for several hours or overnight.
When ready to serve fill glasses 3/4 full with the sangria mixture.
Be sure to get some strawberries and lemon or orange slices in the glass, too. 

Top off each glass with 
Chilled club soda or sparkling water
Garnish with 
mint leaves and a whole strawberry

Have on hand plenty of ice for people to serve themselves.


About the sky this week and next, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

June 3 - Venus is farthest from the Sun. Look to the south after sunset to see the waxing gibbous Moon just 2 degrees north of Jupiter. The Moon and Jupiter will be two brightest and the first objects out at dusk. The bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo, will also join the pair, below them and to the left.

June 4 - Look to the east after the Sun sets to see this trio: the waxing gibbous Moon with the star Spica below it; to the right is Jupiter.

June 9  - Full Strawberry Moon at 9:10 a.m. See how this Moon got its name in this short Farmers’ Almanac video. When the full Moon rises it will be just past apogee - its farthest point from Earth, at a distance of 252,526 miles. It will, in fact, be the smallest (to us) full Moon of 2017.  See if you can detect its smaller-than-normal size that night. Compared to the so-called “Supermoon” of last November 14th, the June full Moon will appear 12.3 percent smaller.

June 12 - Look for the Big Dipper asterism, the most recognizable star pattern in our night sky. It will be high in the north during the evening hours during the month of June.

June 14 - Earliest sunrise of 2017. This happens every year around mid-June, despite the year’s longest day - the Summer Solstice - is one week away.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'm Turning 60... has reached 500,000 Visitors!!



THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! 

I’m honoured and delighted to see that 500,000 people have found 'I'm Turning 60...' since I first began writing this blog on October 20, 2009. I really hope that each of you found a recipe that you liked and that you’ve decided to try other recipes in my blog.

According to the stats, people from the United States account for over 250,000 visits, while Canadians account for about 50,000.
The other top visitors are from Malta, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine and Romania. 

During the years there have also been visitors from Turkey, Italy, Finland, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Thailand, Slovakia, Ireland, Denmark, Bangladesh, Sweden, Israel, Moldova, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Greece, Kenya, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Brazil, Bermuda, Namibia, Cyprus, India, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Madagascar and China.

During the past month there have also been visitors from Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Lithuania, Pakistan, Bolivia, Armenia, Luxembourg,  Latvia, St. Lucia, Indonesia and Argentina!
It is a small world after all!!

'I'm Turning 60...' continues to be more popular than my other blog, 
If you live in Winnipeg or are planning to come for a visit - or you're just curious - please take a look at it.

Okay… enough with stats, numbers and countries. 
Let’s get back to the recipes which deserve the credit for all these visits!
If you haven’t already, please do try the recipes on these lists.
They’re not popular because people don’t like them!

Here are the current all time top ten posts:

During the past month these have been the top posts:

During the Easter season these were popular posts:


The popularity of these posts tells me a few things:
You want traditional recipes, both for regular meals and holiday dinners.
You like easy recipes, such as the Peppers and Egg Sandwiches, as well as challenging recipes, such as Pizza RusticaYou also like cheesecake recipes.
Some of you are on the lookout for recipes that you had enjoyed eating in restaurants.
I was very touched to see that a few stories I had recycled from my radio hosting days are still being read.

Okay… holidays will always be with us. I’ll start post more recipes for Christmas and Easter, and not just Italian and Maltese recipes. Some traditional holiday favourites, like fruitcakes and peppernuts, are better if they’re baked in advance and given a few months to ripen.
I’ll post some easy recipes that will be handy for when you’re in a rush, as well as a few challenging recipes for when you want to impress your guests.
I’ll also post a few more cheesecake recipes, as well as recipes cooks shared when we were on vacations.

I was on the radio for nine years. I have quite a few stories that I wrote for the shows that haven’t been posted on this blog. Here's hoping that you'll enjoy them, too.


I'm also pleased to see that people have been reading the twice monthly posts that have information about the moon, stars and planets. Yes, they are also the posts that often have a recipe for an alcoholic drink, along with a few fun facts.

Since I don’t post on a daily basis, why not become a subscriber?
It’s easy and free to submit your email address. That way you can be sure that you won’t miss a recipe. 
And you won't miss anything interesting happening in the night sky.

I'd also like comments.  Really.  
It's easy to do.  Just click on Comments and write. 

Thanks again for visiting!
Hope to see you again real soon!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Toast Canada's 150th Birthday with a Caesar on Victoria Day

This year Canada is 150 years old!

The Caesar Cocktail was created in Canada.
National Caesar Day is the Thursday before the Victoria Day long weekend, the kick-off to our long awaited summer.
Why not toast Canada’s 150th birthday with a Caesar Cocktail or two!


Ah, the Caesar Cocktail… it was one of those great moments in Canada’s history…
Walter Chell wanted to celebrate the opening of the Calgary Inn’s new Italian restaurant in 1969.
His invention - the Caesar Cocktail - quickly became a popular mixed drink.
It’s been said that over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually in Canada.

Chell said his inspiration came from the Italian dish Spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams. 
He thought that if the mixture of clams and tomatoes made a good sauce it would make a great drink, so he mashed a few clams and then mixed the goop with vodka and other ingredients.
Brilliant or what!!
Well, Chell was a genius.
The drink was an immediate hit with the folks who went to the Calgary Inn.
Within five years the Caesar became Calgary's most popular mixed drink. 

Okay… here’s where it gets Karmic.
In 1970 Motts was developing Clamato, a mixture of clam and tomato juices.
That’s right, this happened one year after Chell created his cocktail.
Like I said, Karmic.

Clamato wasn’t as popular as Chell’s Caesar. 
But then somebody got a blast of inspiration and realized he could use Clamato to make the Caesar Cocktail.
An easier way to make an alcoholic drink?
Of course word spread like wildfire!
By 1994 half of all Clamato sales were made in Western Canada.
Motts claims that the Caesar is the most popular mixed drink in Canada.

The thing is, very few people outside of Canada know about the Caesar Cocktail. 
In the states it’s only known in bars along the shared border.
Most Americans just make do with a Bloody Mary. How sad!

Some say the Caesar is a hangover cure.
A 1985 University of Toronto study showed that drinking a Caesar when taking aspirin could protect a person's stomach from the aspirin.


In 2009, the Caesar Cocktail’s 40th anniversary, a petition to make it Canada’s official mixed drink was launched. Calgary’s Mayor, Dave Bronconnier, celebrated the drink's anniversary by declaring May 13 as Caesar Day.
Contests held across Canada in 2009 encouraged variations. Some ideas:
the glass being rimmed with Tim Hortons coffee grinds
Caesars with maple syrup
Caesars with bacon-infused vodka
Hail, Caesar!!

Want something to eat? Serve your Caesar with a Caesar Salad.


Hints:

The Caesar can be mixed in bulk and stored for a period of time before drinking.

Tabasco sauce and horseradish are frequent additions.
Vodka is occasionally replaced with gin, tequila or rum.
If you replace vodka with beer it’s called a Red Eye.
A drink without alcohol is a Virgin Caesar.


                        Caesar Cocktail

Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and dip into celery salt. 
Add 
1.5 ounces vodka
2 Dashes of Hot Sauce
3 Dashes of Salt and Pepper
4 Drops of Worcestershire sauce
5 ounces Mott’s Clamato 
ice 
Stir and garnish with a celery stick and a lime wedge.


                        Caesar Cocktail II

Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and dip into celery salt. 
Add
6 ounces Mott’s Clamato 
1 to 1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 Dashes of Hot Sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Celery salt
Freshly ground pepper
ice
Stir and garnish with a celery stick and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Scalloped Potatoes and The International Space Station


Many Maltese feel that a meal isn’t complete without a starch, preferably of the wheat type.
A few years ago we were vacationing in Halifax with my parents.
The only nearby restaurant was a Chinese one.
Pop announced he didn’t like Chinese food “Because they don’t serve bread.”
Noting that lack - and the rumbling of our stomachs - we and Ma decided to eat there anyway.
Pop came along… but he wasn’t happy.

Quite a few other people must feel the same way about the importance of starches, especially pasta and rice.

The post with the recipe for Ma's Imqarrun il-forn (Baked Macaroni) has had 8,313 visitors, while her recipe for Ross il-Forn (Baked Rice) has been used by 4,350 people.
Ah, pasta and rice… got to love them!

If you’re trying to cut back on pasta and rice, potatoes are a happy alternative.
They are vegetables, but can be counted on to add that nice bit of heft to any meal.

I recently posted a recipe for Ma’s Tres Leches Cake, a sneaky way to get more calcium rich dairy products into the kiddies.
If you’re looking for another sneaky milk recipe, Scalloped Potatoes is a good one.
Scalloped Potatoes is one of those lovely recipes that, along with being a bit devious, can be varied to suit your preferences, and whatever you have in your cupboards.


Hints:

Don’t like onions or prefer chopped green onions? Suit yourself.
Want to use Cheez Whiz or prefer more or less or no cheese? It will be fine.
Like a dash of garlic or nutmeg, or more or less pepper? No problem.

Have a leftover sweet potato you want to use? Sure, add a few slices to the pan.
Only have some frozen hash brown potatoes? 
Stir them into the sauce and cut the baking time down to 30 minutes, uncovered.

In a rush? Microwave the potatoes until they are about half cooked. Then slice them and add the baked slices to the sauce and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

This recipe will also work with condensed cream of mushroom or broccoli soup.
If you don’t have a tin of cream soup on hand, coat the potato slices and onion slices with flour, place them in the greased pan, and add the remaining ingredients, then use 1 1/2 cups of milk in place of the soup. 

Want some meat with your potatoes?
Top the potatoes with what’s on hand. Pork chops or ham slices work particularly well.
If they are thick pieces just give them a check to be sure they’ve cooked through before serving.


                        Scalloped Potatoes
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan
Heat oven to 375º F

Thinly slice
3 pounds potatoes 
1 large onion

Chop
3 slices bacon (optional)
In a large bowl combine
1 10 ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon black pepper 
Add the sliced potatoes and onion
Toss to evenly coat. 
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the chopped bacon pieces over the potatoes and cover with aluminum foil. 
Bake 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. 

Here are a few more old favourite potato recipes:






About the sky later this month, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

May 12 - The waning gibbous Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth. 
(Apogee = Away)

May 13 - Look to the southeast in the late evening to see the  Moon and the planet Saturn paired up on the horizon. See if you can also spot the star Antares to their right. You can also spot this same trio in the western sky before dawn.

May 17 - Mercury, the planet nearest to the Sun, reaches its greatest elongation of 26°, the farthest west of the Sun it gets in 2017.

May 18 - Last Quarter Moon, 8:33 p.m. At this phase, the Moon appears half full. 

May 21 - Before sunrise look to the eastern horizon to see the waning crescent moon with Venus right above it. Mercury is also up before dawn now, hugging the horizon. 

May 23 - The International Space Station will be making a number of passes across the United States and southern Canada and can be viewed several times during a single night.  

May 25 - New Moon, 3:44 p.m. The Moon is completely invisible to the naked eye. The Moon is also at perigee, its closest point to Earth for the month. This means the closest supermoon of 2017 is a New Moon, and won’t be visible!

May 27 - Look to the southeast to see the ringed planet Saturn near the bright star Antares, Heart of the Scorpion, in the constellation Scorpius. Both Saturn and Antares rising into the eastern half of the sky (southeast as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere) by early-to-mid evening in late May 2017. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Tres Leches Cake and May’s Full Flower Moon


Time to party with some great food.
Too busy to make Alfajores or Churros?
No problem.
Ma’s Tres Leches Cake is easy to make.

Tres Leches Cake (three milks cake) is popular throughout the Americas, and in many parts of the Caribbean.
It is thought to have originated in Mexico, but the idea of a cake soaked in liquids is European, as in the English Trifle and Rum Cake, and in the Italian Zuppa Ingles and Tiramisu.

Wherever the idea came from… it’s another way to get more calcium rich dairy products into the kiddies.
And what Mom doesn’t like that?

Hints:

This cake can be baked ahead of time. 
Cool, top with milk mixture, then refrigerate up to 24 hours. 
Frost with whipped cream just before serving.

Store leftover sweetened condensed milk in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week. 
The milk can be served over chopped fruit, a fruit dessert, such as a cobbler, or poured over a cereal, either cold or hot. 
It can also be stirred into a cup of hot coffee or tea.

Or you could use some leftover sweetened condensed milk to make 

Your friends prefer a dessert with a bit of a kick?
Serve Tres Leches Rum Cake.
Just add 
1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract to the cake batter and 
1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract to the milk mixture.

Sprinkle nutmeg over the cake just before serving for an extra bit of flavour.


                        Tres Leches Cake

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan
Heat oven to 350° F 
Combine in a medium bowl
1 1/2 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

Place in a large mixer bowl
1/2 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar 
Beat until light and fluffy. 

Add one at a time
5 eggs 
Beat well after each addition. 
Blend in 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
Add flour mixture, a quarter at a time, beating until blended after each addition. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
Bake 30 minutes. Test the cake by inserting a toothpick into the centre of the cake. 

While the cake is baking:
Pour into a medium bowl, stirring after each addition
3/4 Cup canned sweetened condensed milk
5 ounces evaporated milk
1 Cup milk  

When the cake is done remove it from the oven.
Leave the cake in the pan and pierce the cake with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals. 
You want a lot of holes in the cake to absorb the milk mixture.

Pour the milk mixture slowly all over the top of the cake. 
The milk mixture will be absorbed by the cake.
Refrigerate 1 hour, or until ready to serve. 

Before serving, place in a medium mixer bowl
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream
Beat until soft peaks form.
Frost cake with the whipped cream.

Be sure to refrigerate leftovers.


About the sky this week and next, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

May 6 - Get outside to view the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. The best viewing is between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., looking to the southeast. The Eta Aquarids get their name because their radiant lies within the constellation Aquarius, near one of the constellation’s brightest stars, Eta Aquarii. These showers come from the cosmic dust of Halley’s Comet. 
        Look for “Earthgrazers,” which are meteors that skip along the atmosphere like stones on a pond, in slow motion. These fireballs are quite a sight to behold, even if you only see one!

May 7 - Right after sunset, look to the southeast to see the waxing gibbous Moon pair up with Jupiter. It will be bright and spectacular! Then as darkness falls, look for the star Spica to come out below them both. On the 8th, the Moon will be directly to the left of Spica, with Jupiter above them to the right.
        Observers with binoculars will be able to locate Mars to the upper right of the brighter orange-hued star, Aldebaran. But Mars is still an easy naked-eye object at dusk — look for it in the west-northwest.

May 10 - Full Moon, 5:42 p.m. May’s full Moon is called the Full Flower Moon. Learn about the folklore surrounding May’s full Moon in this short Farmers’ Almanac video.