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Fresh Berry Tart

Fresh Berry Tart
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Ingredients
  1. Crust
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour 250 mL
  3. 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar 125 mL
  4. 2 tbsp grated lemon zest 30 mL
  5. 1⁄2 cup butter 125 mL
  6. 2 tbsp lemon juice 30 mL
  7. Custard
  8. 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar 75 mL
  9. 1 large egg 1
  10. 1 large egg yolk 1
  11. 2 tbsp cornstarch 30 mL
  12. 11⁄2 tbsp all-purpose flour 22 mL
  13. 1 cup milk 250 mL
  14. 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mL
  15. 4 cups fresh berries (use any 1 L
  16. combination of blueberries,
  17. raspberries or sliced strawberries)
  18. Glaze
  19. 1⁄2 cup raspberry or apple jelly, melted 125 mL
Instructions
  1. To make crust: Combine flour, sugar and lemon zest. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add lemon juice, stirring with a fork until mixture is gathered into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough out to form an 11-inch (28 cm) circle. Transfer to 9-inch (23 cm) tart or flan pan with removable bottom, pressing into bottom and sides. Chill again for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Prick bottom and sides of pastry with fork to prevent shrinkage. Bake 10 minutes at 425°F (220°C), then reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) for the last 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.
  2. To make custard: Whisk sugar, egg and egg yolk until thick. Add cornstarch and flour and whisk well. Heat milk and vanilla in a saucepan until almost boiling. Gradually add milk to egg mixture, then return to saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until well chilled. (This can be prepared a day ahead.)
  3. To assemble: Remove crust from tart pan and set on platter. Spread cooled custard over bottom of crust and arrange fresh berries on top. Gently brush melted jelly over fruit. Chill until serving time. Serves 10 to 12
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/
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Strawberry Mousse

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Looking for a Valentine’s Day dessert? This strawberry mousse is really easy — and because it contains both gelatin and cream cheese it’s stable enough to make well in advance. Plus it’s pink. Very, very pink, making it perfect for the occasion.

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Chocolate Cheesecake

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Cheesecake used to be a staple at birthdays and special occasions like Valentine’s Day – and this rich chocolate cheesecake was one of the most popular ones I made.

If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) it originally came from Gourmet or Bon Appétit, tweaked over the years… I hadn’t made it in practically decades, and I forgot how good it was. It’s not tricky to make, and can be done in advance – it needs time to chill in the fridge anyway. To make it extra special, top with strawberries or raspberries.Read More

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Maple Walnut Granola

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I realize that one can only have so many formulas for granola, and at some point you settle into a regular combination you can mindlessly mix up and bake without much in the way of measuring. This is one such recipe. It comes from our friend Aimée, who’s first cookbook focuses on seasonal eating from her urban homestead just outside Montreal.

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Since homemade granola is in constant rotation in our house, I chose hers to give a go; it’s very similar to my default granola, save for the applesauce and maple flakes (which, sadly, are not as readily available in Alberta). I had a jar of my sister’s crabapple sauce on my shelf, pink and sweet-tart, and so mixed some up, subbing sliced almonds for the sunflower seeds I had none of – that’s the great thing about granola, you can mix and match nuts and seeds and add whatever kind of dried fruit you like at the end.

Cheers Aimée! Your book is beautiful. (And so is the granola!)Read More

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Easy Cream Scones

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When I have cream in my fridge that’s starting to go south, I turn them into a batch of scones. Dairy products are among the most often tossed of the food we buy that goes to waste – and most of it makes a pretty fine scone. Milk, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk – they’re all great for baking, and often interchangeable. But I love these super simple scones made with heavy cream – there’s no butter, which makes them easy to stir, pat and bake – but you’ll never miss it.

This basic scone recipe also makes a great blank canvas – try adding fresh, frozen or dried fruit, chopped chocolate, or grated orange or lemon zest.Read More

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Snickerdoodle Bars

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We love the simple deliciousness of classic snickerdoodle cookies. They’re easy to make, but do you know what’s even easier? Making a big pan of snickerdoodle bars! Pour the batter into a pan, bake, and slice into bars for lunch boxes or to keep on hand when friends drop in for coffee.Read More

Sausage, Kale and Chickpea Soup

Sausage, Kale and Chickpea Soup
This hot and hearty soup makes for a cozy weeknight supper - serve it with crusty bread.
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Ingredients
  1. Vegetable oil
  2. 1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages 500 g
  3. 3 garlic cloves, minced 3
  4. 1 onion, chopped 1
  5. 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole tomatoes, 1 with juice
  6. 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed 1 and drained (2 cups/500 mL)
  7. 6 cups Chicken stock (page 286) or 1.5 L? ready-to-use chicken broth
  8. 1⁄2 tsp dried thyme 2 mL
  9. Pinch hot pepper flakes Pinch
  10. Salt and black pepper to taste
  11. 1 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped 1 (about 1 lb/500 g)
  12. I’m going to retire and live off my savings. Not sure what I’ll do in the second week.
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Squeeze sausage out of its casing into the pan and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring, until sausage is browned and onion is soft. Scrape into a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, stock, thyme, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. (If the stock doesn’t fully cover the other ingredients, top it up with water.) Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until soup is slightly thickened. Stir in kale, cover and cook for 10 minutes, until wilted.
  3. Serves 6 to 8.
  4. Tip: Change the taste of the soup by varying the type of sausages you use. Sweet Italian sausages or bratwurst will give the soup a mild taste, whereas spicy Italian sausages or chorizo will completely transform the flavor. If you’d like something lighter, try turkey or chicken sausages.
  5. Variation: For an even more substantial meal, cook up about 8 oz (250 g) of dried penne or other short pasta and add it to the soup before serving.
Notes
  1. I’m going to retire and live off my savings. Not sure what I’ll do in the second week.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/
This flatbread is really fun to make on family night

Our New Favorite Flatbread

Our New Favorite Flatbread
This is really fun to make on family night. Yes, the salad goes on top - use your fingers!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 mild Italian or herb-flavored 4 pork sausages
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil, divided 45 mL
  3. 4 6-inch (15 cm) Greek-style pitas 4
  4. (no pockets), naan or
  5. other flatbread
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. 2 red-skinned apples, thinly sliced 2
  8. 4 oz mild blue cheese, such as 125 g
  9. Cambozola, sliced, or Stilton,
  10. crumbled (see tip, opposite)
  11. 3 cups packed arugula or baby spinach 750 mL
  12. 1⁄4 cup chopped toasted pecans 60 mL
  13. (see tip, opposite)
  14. 2 to bottled honey Dijon 30 to
  15. 3 tbsp salad dressing 45 mL
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Remove sausages from casings and crumble. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, for 6 to 8 minutes or until well browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate lined with paper towels.
  3. Place pitas on 2 large baking sheets. Brush tops with the remaining oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange apple slices on pitas, followed by a layer of cheese. Scatter sausage on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and edges of pitas are browned.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss arugula and pecans with salad dressing. Cut each pita into quarters, then place on serving plates and push the pieces back together. Top each pita with arugula mixture.
  6. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Notes
  1. Tip: Toasting nuts, seeds and shredded coconut helps to bring out their flavor. Although you can toast them in the oven, we have more success - and fewer burnt nuts - on the stovetop. Spread nuts, seeds or coconut in a dry nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking or stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Tip nuts onto a cold plate to stop the cooking process and let cool completely.
  2. Variation: For more kid appeal, replace the blue cheese with shredded sharp (old) Cheddar. You can also substitute canned peach slices, thoroughly drained, for the apples.
  3. Variation: Mango, tangerine, pear or other fruit-flavored salad dressings also work well with this recipe.
  4. Variation
  5. Orange Dijon Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil, 1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar, 1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar, 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss with the arugula and pecans instead of the bottled dressing.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/
Potato kale galette 1

Potato, Kale & Ricotta Galette

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We love kale, and are always looking for new ways to do potatoes. We’re fans of creamy scalloped potatoes; thinly sliced spuds layered with cheese and cream, but sometimes it’s too heavy – this is a perfect compromise, and a great way to get your greens.

Sautéed kale cooks down dramatically, allowing a large serving between layers of soft, crispy potato. This version is subtle, with garlic and ricotta; try an Indian-spiced version by ditching the ricotta and spiking the kale with ginger and curry powder or garam masala as it cooks.Read More

Butter tart slice

Butter Tart Slice

Butter tart slice

Butter tarts are our all-time favourites, but we don’t always have time to make the pastry, roll, cut and fill individual tarts. Butter tarts in bar form is the perfect solution; this past weekend, having to bake for a gathering, they were quick to mix up and bake. And here’s a secret: when you’re making squares that have a sticky filling, like butter tart squares or lemon bars, if you freeze the whole thing in the pan before you slice them, they’ll cut much more cleanly. Let them sit on the countertop for 20 minutes to thaw – or if you’re bringing them with you, they’ll thaw en route.

Butter tarts are traditionally made with currants, but these call for coconut, raisins and/or pecans – a delicious combination on a buttery shortbread crust.Read More

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Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

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It’s January. It’s cold. It’s time for some good old fashioned comfort food.  This soul-satisfying classic is reassuringly familiar and easy on the budget – which  in the face of skyrocketing food prices and holiday Visa bills, is welcome in our kitchen any time.  Our  modern rendition of tuna fish casserole includes a nutritional boost of broccoli in a creamy basil sauce but still has all the comforting goodness you remember. Feel free to substitute  low sodium chicken broth and low-fat mozzarella to make this even healthier but if you can,  treat yourself to some good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s complex flavour will take this to a whole new level of gourmet comfort food. And if you can’t find fresh basil, dried is just fine. We’ve included the substitution for it below the recipe.Read More

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Pulled Pork

 

 

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Whether you’re cooking for two or serving a busy family, slow cookers make easy work of creating delicious and soul-satisfying meals. We love being able to switch on the slow cooker in the morning, head out the door and then arrive home to a house filled with the mouthwatering aromas of dinner. 

 Shredded, or “pulled,” pork is the perfect slow cooker food and we think the BBQ flavours taste extra special in January when we all need a reminder of warm summer days. Enjoy!Read More

Eggnog French Toast Bake

Eggnog French Toast Bake with Cranberry Sauce Syrup

Eggnog French Toast Bake

Do you still have a few leftovers from a late Christmas celebration? This indulgent brunch dish is designed to use up leftover holiday eggnog and cranberry sauce. If you don’t have any eggnog left in the house, substitute with 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 a cup of whipping cream (and you can always buy canned cranberry sauce if you don’t have any homemade leftover).Read More

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Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

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Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.

Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

extra sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.