Monday 29 June 2015

Pulled Pork Pizza

As long as we're home for dinner, every Friday is pizza Friday here in our household.  Given how often I make pizza, I am constantly on the lookout for topping ideas that will be different from the classics.   One unique topping that both my husband and I love is pulled pork.   This is always a hit because it's not often that we have leftover pulled pork lying around.

My husband and I also host an annual Stampede BBQ.  Every year, one of the highlights is the all-day smoked, juicy, melt in your mouth deliciousness that is pulled pork.  Since we make SO much at once for this event, it is not unusual for there to be a few pounds of leftovers.  I portion it out and freeze to use in enchiladas, sandwiches, or on pizza Friday, pizza.

The pulled pork I used on this pizza, below, is not from our big annual BBQ nearly a year ago!  We had a smaller BBQ a few weeks ago with our neighbours (which is the same event where the Melt in Your Mouth Doughnuts were devoured).  The pork leftovers from this event were used to top the pizza featured in this post.  It was oh so smoky, gooey, and delicious!

Pizza Dough (this makes enough for 3 thin crust, or 2 regular crust pizzas)
2 & 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 & 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour (I often use half white, half whole wheat)

Dissolve the sugar in warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast on top, and allow to sit in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy.  Add the olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of the flour.  With a whisk, beat until smooth.  Add the remaining flour, a cup at a time, until you have a soft dough.   Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Cover the dough and let rest in a warm place for about 25 minutes.  While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings:

Pulled Pork Pizza With Caramelized Onions (Topping)
2 medium sized red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp sugar
2 portions pizza dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 cups leftover pulled pork
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the onions, and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions are starting to evenly brown, sprinkle with the sugar and continue browning until golden and sweet, approximately 5 more minutes.  Set aside.

Shape each portion of dough onto a greased pizza pan.  Combine pizza and BBQ sauce in a small bowl, and spread evenly on top of each pan of dough.  Sprinkle one cup of pulled pork, and half the onion mixture onto each pizza.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a preheated 400F oven for approximately 20-25 minutes (depending on how browned you like your crust).  Enjoy!

Monday 22 June 2015

Saskatoon Berry Cheesecake

This past weekend I went to a baby-que....what seems to be the latest trend in baby showers.  It's a Jack and Jill style baby shower, where, rather than sit in a circle cooing over the baby and eating finger sandwiches with females of all ages, you bring your whole family and eat delicious BBQ, drink tasty bevvies, and generally have a great time.  I even went to one a few weeks ago where there was a keg.  I hope this trend is the wave of the future.  I enjoy these significantly more than the sit-in-a-circle-pass-the-cards-and-presents-around type of showers.

Anyways, for this particular baby-shower, I was delighted to be asked to bring dessert!   I thought a cheesecake was in order, as well as a couple dozen cupcakes (which I won't write about here).  I already spammed Facebook and Instagram with a photo of my daughter decorating said cupcakes, so that's plenty of internet action on that already.

I had some Saskatoon berries in my freezer from last summer (thank you, Mom), and I decided I'd incorporate those.  I used one of my favorite cheesecake recipes, added some Saskatoon filling based on my recipe for Saskatoon pie filling, and voila.  So, here it is:


1 & 3/4 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

2 & 1/2 packages (8 oz or 250g each) cream cheese (I use full fat, because it's cheesecake, just enjoy it)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2.5 tbsp flour

Saskatoon Topping and Filling**:

**Note that this makes MUCH more than you actually require.  Save the rest in your fridge for a couple of weeks to put on pancakes or waffles!  Or, just eat with a spoon when no one is watching.

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon
4 cups cleaned Saskatoon berries
2 tsp corn starch

First, make the saskatoon filling by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for two minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the berries and lemon juice.  Bring back to a boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove about 3 tbsp of hot liquid from the berries, and combine with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Return to mixture and stir to thicken for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

For the Cheesecake:

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine.  Press into the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer,) until light and creamy.

Beat in cream, vanilla, and flour, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Beat in eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl to ensure all batter is an even consistency.

Pour half of the batter over the graham crust.  Dot 1/4 cup of saskatoon filling in various places on top of the batter, and then cut through it with a butter knife, swirling it throughout the batter.  Pour the remaining batter on top, and then repeat with about 1/4 cup more filling as before.

Post-swirl.  Baked

Place cheesecake in the center of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.   Decrease heat to 300F, and continue baking for 25 minutes.  At this point the cheesecake should appear set, and jiggle slightly in the middle.  Then, turn the oven off, and allow the cheesecake to remain in there for 2 hours.  Resist the urge to open the door, as your cheesecake will finish setting up with the residual heat. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour longer on a wire rack, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Thoroughly chill before serving.  I recommend AT LEAST 3 hours. Cut and serve with berry topping.


Monday 15 June 2015

Melt In Your Mouth Doughnuts

One of my very first memories of being in the kitchen with my mom involved doughnut making.  I recall so vividly standing on a stool in our kitchen, feeling triumphant, while fulfilling my oh-so important role as the "glazer."   (Note that the dictionary in my head defines glazer as the act of glazing). My sister and I would alternate between being the "glazer" and "sugarer".  Even better than being the official glazer was being an official eater.  Those doughnuts were so perfectly crisp on the outside, and light as air on the inside.  If any happened to be leftover after the first day, I remember a quick 5 seconds in the microwave would bring them right back to life as if they were just fried.....

I think that just as awesome as those doughnuts were, are the memories that I treasure of making them.  I thought my mom was a hero for being able to concoct something so wonderful.  I remember finding out that my mom and sister had made them while hanging out just a few years ago.  Me, being a 4 hour drive away felt completely crushed and left out.  LOL!  There I was, in my late 20's, and pouting because I was left out of the all important doughnut making.

Last week, it dawned on me that maybe my daughter Roslyn is old enough to take on the role as official glazer.  So we made doughnuts.  Lotsa, Lotsa doughnuts, as my daughter would say.  I wish I could say I created this recipe, but I didn't.  Nor is it the recipe from my childhood, as my mom and dad are currently fishing in British Columbia, and these doughnuts couldn't wait.  But good news!!! This recipe is as good as (eeek, maybe a bit better than), the one my mom would make.   I found it on  Here is the link to it: My Mom's Raised Doughnuts.  I have re-written it here with my adaptation of the method and a couple ingredient tweaks, below.

For the doughnuts 

1/2 cup warm water
4 and 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (this is equivalent to two 8 gram packets)
1 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (such as crisco)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
4 cups all purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying

- Place the warm water and 1 tsp white sugar in a bowl.  Stir thoroughly and then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Cover lightly with a tea towel and allow to proof until foamy, about 10 minutes

-Place the milk and Crisco in a small saucepan, and stir on low heat until the shortening melts and small bubbles start to form around the mixture.  DO NOT BOIL.

- Add the milk mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and add the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt.  Mix on low until sugar dissolves, and then allow to sit until warm (you don't want to scald your yeast mixture!)

-Add the yeast mixture and eggs to the milk/sugar/salt mixture.  With the dough-hook attached (if you have one, add one cup of flour and beat until smooth. You could also easily do this by hand. Continue adding the next 3 cups of flour, one at a time, until a soft dough forms.  

-Turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 2 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  At this point, my dough was so soft and smooth it really didn't need much more than this.

-Allow the dough to rise in a greased bowl for about 1.5 hours.  It should be just a little over double in size.  

-Punch dough down and roll out to about 1/2  inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Use a 3.5 inch round glass, can, or doughnut cutter, and about a 1 inch cutter (a lid from a 2L soda bottle works well) to cut out your doughnuts and middles.  Allow to rise where you cut them (covered with a tea towel) for about 45 minutes. 

-I used a small heavy pot with about 2.5 inches of oil in it to fry.  Heat the oil to 350F, and drop in 2 at a time.  You will only need to fry for about 30 seconds per side.  The original recipe said a couple of minutes, but that would have been too long for me.  

-While still warm, glaze with a mixture of:

1 cup sifted icing/confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract*
2 tbsp water*

*I doubled both the extract and water quantities from the original recipe.  

Excellent job being the glazer, Roslyn!


Wednesday 3 June 2015

Old-School Puffed Wheat Squares

Puffed Wheat Squares.  These delectable little treats seem to be dying out.  Mind you, if you ask anyone outside of Western Canada, they may never have even known that they ever lived. Apparently, these are a uniquely Canadian thing??  I dreamt about these the other night, and when I went searching for a recipe, there were hardly any on Pinterest.  The few that there were all seemed to be slightly different than what I recall as a kid, and upon reading any of the blogs that they were featured on, I learned that these are not widely known outside of rural Canada and very few parts of the U.S.

Makes sense I guess....... the last place I saw these were probably a rural baby shower or funeral lunch.  Or a gas station along a highway on the way to my parent's house.  Strangely enough, a little cafe near my old office in downtown Calgary used to have enormous ones, so maybe they aren't just a rural thing.  Regardless, they are not exactly common.  It's actually a little tricky to even find plain old puffed wheat at the supermarket amidst all of the sugary cereals.

To truly satisfy my craving, I decided to search in an old cookbook that my grandma had bought me years ago that was a fundraising project for her church. I feel like in these old cookbooks, where every contributor seems to be baking for huge families or bakesales since 1947, are where the true legends are found.  Yes.  In it, I found the inspiration for this recipe.  Boom.  This recipe was perfect on the first try.  Please make this if you are ever craving treats from your childhood!  My daughter loved these.....except they're a "yittle bit chewy", she said.  That means they're just right :)

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
8 cups puffed wheat

Melt the margarine over low heat in a large pot.  Add syrup, brown sugar, cocoa and vanilla and stir to combine.  Increase heat to medium and stir just until bubbling.

Dump in the puffed wheat and stir well to evenly coat.  Press into a greased 9x12 pan.  Let cool completely before cutting, otherwise they'll fall apart.  It's important to press firmly for them to hold their shape, but not so firmly that they're little bricks.  (Think how you'd press Rice Krispie squares into a pan).  Firmly, but not too much :)

Try not to eat these in one sitting.

Monday 1 June 2015

Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

We were invited to some friends for dinner this past weekend, and I was responsible for dessert.  It's pretty clear from my posts that baking is one of my favorite things, so I am always happy when this is delegated to me.  To be completely honest, I cringe a little bit when the answer given to the "what can we bring?" question leads to an answer like salad.  It's not that I don't enjoy salad......I just don't enjoy trolling Pinterest looking for new and exciting salad ideas.  On this same note, it is about 99% likely that when someone asks me the "what can we bring" question, if I don't say nothing, those insistent people will be assigned salad.  Luckily, one of my best friends, Alex, is a salad bringer.  She loves contributing salad.  We're dinner party compatible.

Anyways......I found this little delight on Pinterest:  Chocolate Nutella Cake.  I adapted this recipe slightly (a bit less flour, a bit more vanilla, a buttermilk substitute),  so will list the recipe I used below.  This cake was so simple to make, even though it was a little bit time consuming.  It was a good morning project with several steps that the kids enjoyed helping with.... (errr...watching me and licking things, but whatever).  It turned out to be a fairly firm and moist chocolate cake that was held together with layers of nutella, and iced with both dark and white chocolate buttercream.   One note for the buttercream:  Since this is a buttercream recipe with chocolate whipped in, be sure to work quickly.  It firms up more quickly than plain buttercream when icing the cake, which can make it tricky to blend the two on this cake where the dark and white chocolate meet.  Other than that, this cake was easy and delicious.  It looks more impressive than the difficulty level really is!  So here we go....

Chocolate Cake:

3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
3/4 cup stick margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar
2 & 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

Whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa powder in a small bowl and set aside.  Next, cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.  In a measuring cup, mix the milk, white vinegar and vanilla.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

With your mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture until combined.  Add 1/2 of the milk mixture and continue mixing until combined.  Repeat these steps, ending with the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.

Divide into 3 greased and parchment lined 8 inch pans.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-30 minutes (mine took 27 mins).  Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning onto wire racks to fully cool.

White and Dark Chocolate Buttercream:

1 cup butter or margarine
4 & 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
5 tbsp whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp good quality vanilla
2 oz dark chocolate
2 oz white chocolate

Melt the dark and white chocolate (I simply microwaved each for 20 second increments until fully melted), then set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and add icing sugar approximately 1 cup at a time, adding about 1 tbsp of milk between icing sugar additions.  Do this on LOW or your kitchen will look like "frozen", as my daughter puts it.   Beat in the salt and vanilla.  Then divide the buttercream into 2 bowls, with 1/3 and 2/3 in each, and beat in the dark chocolate to the smaller portion, and white chocolate into the larger portion.

To decorate the cake:

Level your cakes if necessary, and then place the first layer down on what you intend to serve on (this cake is heavy and hard to move).  Pipe a border around the cake to create a "nutella dam", so it doesn't ooze.  Put about 1/2 cup of nutella on the top of the cake and spread it to your border.  Carefully place another layer on top, and then repeat this process.  Top with the final layer.  Chill cake for about 10 minutes to firm up and stabilize.

Then, crumb coat, and frost!  I started by frosting the top and sides with the white chocolate buttercream, using a thinner layer as I went further down the cake.  I then put the dark chocolate buttercream thickly on the bottom and worked up halfway.  I worked too slowly here and my dark chocolate frosting firmed up quickly.  This made it a bit tricky to blend the two tones as prettily as was done in my inspiration recipe, but it was still ok.

Finally, I topped with some Ferraro Rocher chocolate.... which I have been denying myself since it was time they were used.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the cake when cut into slices.  Like I said, we brought this to a dinner party and I didn't want to be snapping pictures like a weirdo while all the kids were chanting "cake time, cake time, cake time".  But rest assured it was delightful looking.