Gravey and Rice

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I love pancakes. Back home, in the states, it's a simple process. Bisquick, milk, etc. But, while you can get bisquick here, I find it comes in very small boxes and is expensive. So, I stopped bothering our first year here. Making biscuits from scratch was easy enough, but eventually I stopped making pancakes because I simply couldn't find a good recipe for them that started with plain flour.

Eventually, very late 2007, I discovered a delicious recipe, right under my nose, from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook that I've had since 2003. The recipe itself is for Buttermilk Pancakes, but if like me Buttermilk is not readily available for you, or comes at a premium, it gives a "pancakes" substitution. Since we love pancakes, I triple the recipe to get about 25, which sometimes is still not enough. (The baby had 5 this morning, himself!) Try it, it's wonderful- the pancakes puff up perfectly and taste amazing. It's a shame that american style syrup is also unavailable here.


1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk (I sour it first, with 1 T. lemon juice)
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and set aside. Combine the egg, milk and oil. Add egg mix all at once to flour mixture and stir just until moistened, should be lumpy.

  • Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, greased skillet or griddle, cook over medium heat about 2 minutes, flipping when they have bubbly surfaces and edges are dry. Serve warm

You can put anything on pancakes, I go for the traditional butter and syrup, but our breakfast table is usually covered with sugar,syrup,jam, lemon juice,marmalade, whipped cream, cinnamon bannanas, blueberries, strawberries and even golden syrup on pancake day.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Butterscotch Bark Cake

Another family favorite, my mother made this during the holidays when I was young. Oddly enough, I never liked it much then, but at some point it became yummy and I added it to my own repertoire. Unfortunately you can't get butterscotch chips readily in England, so I had to order mine from a lovely little company called Skyco which brings in great American and Canadian products, at a price! But the customer service and quick delivery is worth it every time.

Anyway, I ordered the chips, received them, poured them in the jar and promptly forgot about them with everything else going on! So, no butterscotch bark cake for Christmas. I finally got around to making this cake today, though!

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients, it's not very labor intensive and is actually quite fun to put together. The frosting is optional, really the cake is great without it. I find it too sweet with the icing sugar so I've been trying to adapt it.

Butterscotch Bark Cake

1 1/2 c.boiling water

1 c. quick oats

6oz. pkg. butterscotch morsels (or substitue toffee pieces)

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. shortening

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 c. raisins

1/2 c. chopped nuts (not the human variety, optional)


1/4 c. milk

2 tbsp. butter

1/8 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. milk

6oz. chocolate chips

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar (icing sugar)

  • Combine boiling water and quick oats, let stand

  • Melt butterscotch over hot water, set aside

  • Combine in bowl sugar,brown sugar and shortening- beat well. Beat in eggs, blend in oats mixture and melted butterscotch

  • Sift together and blend in flour, baking soda,salt,cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in raisins and nuts

  • Pour into 13x9" glass baking dish,bake at 350' for 35-40 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, for frosting combine the 1/4c. milk,butter and salt in small saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chips melt, blend in powdered sugar gradually stir in milk until becomes soft, spreading consistency.

  • Remove cake from oven, cool 15-20 minutes- spread with frosting, pull fork tines through frosting in wavy lines to create bark look

Saturday, December 29, 2007

What's for Dinner-Rice ala Lavre'

Another childhood staple was Rice ala Lavre' (though not sure on the spelling.

I love this dish because it is simple to make, which is great when you've had a busy day and three children running around!

Rice Ala Lavre'

What you need

Rice, or egg noodles if you prefer (that's tagliatele for our British cousins)
500-800 oz ground turkey or mince beef
2-3 onions depending on size, peeled and chopped
14.5oz can cream of mushroom soup
approx. 1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the chopped onions into a skillet with the, defrosted, meat. Cook on medium heat until meat is brown and the onions are golden and soft. Drain if necessary, and put back into skillet, add mushroom soup and simmer for a few minutes. Add sour cream, parika and seasoning. Stir until combined. Serve over cooked rice or noodles with some french bread or biscuits (American biscuits not British cookies!)

While very simple to make, it is admittedly a bit lacking in nutritional value. Serve with green veg, cottage cheese or applesauce, or finely chop some carrots and add them to the dish with the onions. Color and nutrition! Yum!

About 45 minutes start to finish- Serves about 6 with the large quantity of meat.... enjoy


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chocolate Pie

One Keebler chocolate cookie crust
Two 4 serving boxes of Jell-O chocolate Pudding
1 pint milk
1 can whipped cream

Whisk pudding and milk for two minutes. Pour into crust and refrigerate 3 hours. Lick the whisk.

When set, slice one large piece, cover with whipped cream and eat. Repeat.

Does that count as baking?


Friday, December 15, 2006


A silly name for a cookie you might think, as loosely translated it's German for Crinkly Noodles. But given the way the tops of the cookies turn crinkly in the oven, the cinnamon sugar coating splitting into furrows and cracks, it's probably a pretty apt name after all.

My sister first introduced me to these yummy cookies when her high school class had made some and she brought home the recipe. Mom tried her hand at them, and we were hooked. I actually havent had them in years and was thrilled to find a recipe in my Baking Illustrated book. I decided they'd be a perfect Christmas Cookie. Easy to make and they taste great. I was really excited to make them, but ended up having a bit of trouble. Instead of these perfectly formed, puffy in the middle soft, chewy cookies, the majority of them spread during baking and were crispy, not chewy. I figure that problem is easily solved by refrigerating the dough for a few minutes, and making sure they arent to close together. The last batch came out better, when I only put about 6 cookies on the tray, they looked more the way they were supposed to and were more chewy. After cooling though, some of them became hard, while others stayed soft and chewy. I'll have to keep experimenting to see if I can get them right. (Hooray- an excuse to keep making cookies!) Despite the little spots of trouble, all the cookies were delicious.

I gave most of them to my daughter to take to school for her Christmas Party, but popped the rest in the freezer. When I'm in the mood for one I just take one out of the bag and enjoy it straightaway. Out of the freezer they are crisp and cool and refreshing- yum!

Baking Illustrated
Makes about 30

2 1/4 c. Flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. butter (1 1/2 sticks (American)) softened but cool
1/4 cup veg shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar + 3 tbsp for coating
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon for coating

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower- middle positions and heat oven to 400f. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together in a med. bowl and set aside.

3. Cream butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until combined, 1- 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

4. Add they dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combines, about 30 seconds.

5. Mix the 3 tbsp sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowl. Working with a heaping tablespoon of dough each time, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the dough in the cinnamon sugar and place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake until the edges of the cookies are beginning to set and the centers are soft and puffy 9- 11 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front ot back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Let cook on the baking sheets 2-3 minutes before transferring them with a wide metal spatula to wire rack.

In other news- I caught a Nigella Lawson Christmas Show the other night and what can I say? I'm totally hooked. Hopefully I can pick up her "How to be a Domestic Goddess" book in the new year. Lord, she's gorgeous, too isn't she? Not sure whether to love her or hate her!

Well, Happy Christmas Baking folks!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ok, this week I'm getting a start on my holiday baking with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which I was really craving. The recipe was quite a bit different from what I'm used to- which isnt to surprising since the book is full of altered recipes. Usually I'm happy with that but in this case- I just wasnt willing to ditch the cinnamon from my oatmeal raisin cookies. A suggestion was to drop 1/2 cup of sugar for a not as sweet cookie, I didnt want to try this without actually making the cookies first- but now that I've tried them with the whole 2 cups of sugar I definetly recommend using only 1/2 or 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Baking Illustrated

1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. fresh nutmeg (I used 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. raisins (op.)

1. Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions and preheat oven to 350, Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder,nutmeg (or cinn.), and salt together in med. bowl.

3. Either by hand or with electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

4. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter sugar mix with a wooden spoon, stir in oats and raisins.

5. Working with a generous 2 tbsp. of dough at a time, roll the dough into 2inch balls. Place the balls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart.

6. Bake until edges turn golden brown, about 22-25 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom about halfway through. Let cool on baking sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 30 minutes. (If you can wait that long!)

Enjoy. These were delicious, even if they were just a bit to sweet.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It was difficult for me to decide that I was actually going to DO Thanksgiving this year. Last year I felt like my British inlaws just didn't get it, and I pushed myself to hard and ended up messing up one dish (burned Sweet Potatoes) and not having time to complete 3 others. The kitchen was trashed, instead of a proper Thanksgiving, everyone just ate and then converged on my kitchen to wash up, and then left. Needless to say I was in tears, dissappointed and homesick.

But, I'm American and Thanksgiving is part of my identity- it would be, in a way, wrong to skip it, Besides I don't want my kids to lose this part of their heritage, the American part- and Thanksgiving is apart of that. So, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and suck it up to try again. The only thing missing this year will be the British inlaws.

My menu is this:

Butternut Squash Soup
Herbed Roast Turkey
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Mom's Vegetable Medley
Roasted Glazed Parsnips and Carrots
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes w/ Leeks and Chives
Crescent Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Pie

Last year I did Cauliflower soup as a starter which was delicious and well received, but this year I'd like something a bit more seasonal- so I'm trying the Butternut Squash Soup innstead...Fingers crossed!

Also this year I'm going to take it slowly, do things one at a time, and try to make a few dishes the day before and just add the finishing touches on the actual day. One struggle will be keeping the kitchen clean, I can clean as I go when I'm making small dishes or things I've made a hundred times before. But when preparing a big meal, I tend to use every dish in the house, and things stack up quick!

My Mom's Vegetable Medley

A Thanksgiving and Christmas staple in my house- I hated it growing up, it was only a few years ago that I sucked it up and tried it again, only to discover it was DELICIOUS. Just goes to show...

1 16oz. pkg. frozen Broccoli and Cauliflower (or fresh- whatever)
1 lg. onion chopped
4 tbsp butter or marg.
1 can cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups croutons

1. Thaw veg and saute w/ onions in 3 tbsp. butter, about 3 minutes. Add soup and sour cream, mix well. Add 1 cup croutons, mix.

2. Pour into buttered 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish (or whatever you have thats big enough) Heat remaining croutons in 1 tbsp. butter, until coated and sprinkle over the casserole.

3. Bake at 350f (250c, gas 5) about 30 min. or until bubbly.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!