Thursday, 23 January 2014

Scottish Flapjacks

OK, so Robbie Burns day is fast approaching.  I wanted to make flapjacks to celebrate.  But I am trying to cut back on my carbs.  So instead, I will just blog about them.

I was so lucky to get to visit London while Greg and Wyona were living there.   One of the things I discovered that I fell in love with were flapjacks.  Now in Canada we think of flapjacks as just another word for pancakes.  Not so in the UK.

Flapjacks are basically an oatmeal bar, and oh, so good.

Classic Flapjacks

150g of butter or margarine
100-150g light brown sugar
2 tablespoon of golden syrup
        (some recipes call for up to 1/4 cup of golden syrup)
350g of porridge oats
1. Put the butter or margarine, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the fat and sugar have melted.

2. Add the porridge oats and blend thoroughly.

3. Press into a well greased 18cm square sandwich tin.

4. Bake in the centre of a moderate oven at 180c or 350f or gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes or until evenly golden brown.

5. Mark into fingers whilst warm.

6. Allow to become almost cold in the tin before removing.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup

Here's one of my very favourite soups.  I pack it full of as many veggies as I can.  I use pork or chicken instead of the fish, cause I don't like fish.  I leave out the fish sauce cause the MSG in it makes me feel sick.  Instead of 2 fresh tomatoes I put in a whole can of diced tomatoes including the juice.  I never put in taro, cause I don't usually don't have it handy.  Instead I throw in some celery.  Don't have rice paddy herb?  I put in fresh cilantro.

For the tamarind paste, you can't substitute.  This a must.  You can get it at most Asian grocery stores.  Often in the soup section.  My favourite brand is the Knorr one.  You won't find this in the Knorr section of your regular grocery store. 

Use fresh pineapple.  It is the best.  Canned can be substituted.  But I only make this soup when fresh pineapples are on sale.

I like to pack this soup full of veggies, extra okra and bean sprouts.  I will put in mushrooms too.  And bok choy if I have it.


  • 1 small catfish cut into 1 inch steaks or 1 lb of catfish filets
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised and cut down into 3 inch lengths
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 8-12 okra, sliced into ½ inch segments
  • 2 stalks of taro stem (bac ha), peeled and sliced on a bias into 1 inch thick pieces
  • Big handful of bean sprouts
  • 3-4 sprigs of rice paddy herb (ngo om), chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar, adjust if necessary
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • Fried shallots
  1. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, Thai chili and tamarind paste and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the catfish and brown for a couple of minutes. Remove the catfish and set aside. The catfish does not need to be fully cooked through at this point.
  2. Pour in the water over the sautéed ingredients. Add tomatoes and pineapple and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the catfish back in as well as the okra. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste and continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Skim off the foam as it develops.
  4. Once the catfish is fully cooked, add in the taro stem and bean sprouts and turn off the heat. The residual heat will be enough to cook them.
  5. Top with rice paddy herb and a sprinkle of fried shallots and serve immediately.
Thanks to The Seasoned Wok for the recipe.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cake -- a variation on a Wyona classic

Tonight was the second time I have made this cake.  I swap the zucchini with pumpkin in this classic cake of Wyona's.  It turns out great.

Why pumpkin?  Here's a reminder.  Pumpkin snake.

Tomorrow a friend is coming over for dinner who can't have dairy, so this time I substituted canola oil for the butter and crabapple sauce for the buttermilk.  I always throw in a little extra cocoa for good measure.

Here's Wyona's recipe, posted by Laynie.

I decided to bake mine up in some specialty cupcake pans I have -- Valentine hearts and Halloween skulls.  A nice pairing I think.  (I only had to bake them for about 17 minutes)

I had enough batter to also bake two small round cakes.