Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I need a donut cutter...

Yesterday my daughters and I went vintage shopping at the Markham Fair Grounds.  I found the info for the Meister Markt Fair a few months ago and we decided we couldn't miss it, especially since it was only $5 admission for each of us -  how could you lose?  I get gently teased by Sarah for my love of Value Village - or the VV Boutique, as my best friend and I call it - but I've found amazing vintage items there so often.  Milk glass, Depression glass and Pyrex and, inevitably, I get the comment "Wow - where did you find that!" from one of the girls at least.  Quite often this is followed by "Can I have it?"  Yesterday was a bonanza of vintage goodies for all of us!

I saw these bowls early in the day, at a vendor I ended up shopping with multiple times.  I was so excited when I saw the bowls because I already have the red, divided Pyrex with this print on the clear glass lid, that matches the bowls.  They became my last purchase of the day and now all I need is the medium sized bowl that fits between these two, which is usually a solid red colour.  Here's my baking dish -

Before lunch, Megan and I were at one of the car boot locations (yes, we have them in Canada too!) and after I transcribed the German quote on a stein for her, I spotted this amazing hen dish.  It gradiates in colour from a bright red to an orangey red nest at the bottom.  Even without Meg's encouragement, "You've got to buy that!", I knew it would be making the trip home with us after we got a combo price for the hen and the stein.

My first purchase of the day was a box full of small, vintage Christmas ornaments.  I just adore them and use my mum's every year on the two trees I have in the house.  I don't care if the finish isn't perfect any more, because I love them for their quirky colour combinations and shapes.  This box still has its original price sticker of 79 cents on it too.  I've seen them for as much as $15 for a medium ornament at some antique "malls", so getting a whole box in great condition for $10 was a steal!

I was also on a mission yesterday to find vintage cooking and baking utensils.  My buddy Teresa asked me to look for an egg beater like my grandmother's.  You'd think that this would be easy, but no, the only ones I found were in terrible condition.  I lucked out on a very sentimental item, in a box full of $2 items - a donut cutter.  My paternal grandmother, who originally owned my egg beater, didn't bake a lot but would always make home made donuts for Lent every year.  Her cutter didn't look exactly like this one, but seeing it took me back to those days immediately and I knew I couldn't leave it at the sale.

I might not be making any donuts in the near future, but wouldn't that cut a great looking wreath cookie for Christmas?  And yes, I use all my vintage items, with great pleasure. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vince's Tiramisu

Since I've finally calmed down after meeting Duff Goldman last Saturday, it's time I posted this wonderful, and very easy recipe for tiramisu courtesy of my co-worker Vince, which I made for my mum's birthday party last month.  I first tasted this a few years ago at an office send-off party and finally asked for it before the party, since my mum's favourite dessert flavour is coffee.  The dessert was such a hit that I didn't have time to take a photo of it!

Image Courtesy of

We recently had another retirement party and I was finally able to tell Vince how much everyone enjoyed the tiramisu at the party.  He told me that it wasn't originally his recipe, but that of his late sister and that he thinks of her whenever he makes it.


  • 4 eggs, warmed to room temperature
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder or square of semi-sweet chocolate for decoration
  • 6 cups espresso or very strong regular coffee
  • 1/2 cup of Irish Mist (or otherclear  coffee liqueur), divided into two 1/4 cups
  • 475 gram container Mascarpone cheese
  • 400 gram package Ladyfinger cookies (Savoiardi brand recommended)

  1. Brew 6 cups of coffee, place in bowl, add desired sugar to taste and 1/4 cup of liqueur.  Allow to cool.
  2. Taking 2 bowls, separate the eggs into whites and yolks.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then refrigerate.
  4. Beat the  egg yolks, adding 4 tablespoons of icing sugar gradually, followed by the second 1/4 cup of liqueur.  Once this is mixed together add the Mascarpone and finish blending together.
  5. Fold the chilled egg whites into the Mascarpone mixture.
  6. Prepare glass rectangular container (or whatever cake pan you prefer).  I used a rectangular Corningware roasting pan that I've never used for roasting!
  7. Pour coffee mixture into a low dish and dip Ladyfinger cookies one at a time, ensuring you dip quickly and don’t let them get too soaked.  Place cookies in a even layer, until the bottom of pan until the pan is fully covered.  Pour half of the Mascarpone mixture over the cookies and smooth out.  Repeat with a second layer of cookies and remaining half bowl of Mascarpone mixture.  Sprinkle cocoa with a fine strainer or grate chocolate on top, covering evenly.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving and enjoying.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I finally met Chef Duff Goldman!

I've had the most wonderful weekend!  It started on Friday night with my co-worker and friend Laurie, her sister and I attending a craft show and shopping until we almost dropped.  We originally planned to go on Saturday until about two weeks ago, when Laurie made a trip to the Michael's store in North York.  The next morning, Laurie gasped and said "You're not going to believe this - Duff is making an appearance at the Michael's in North York!" 

Now, Duff had just been at the Cdn National Exhibition on September 3rd, but I didn't attend because it was horribly hot and very crowded.  I ended up calling the store *three* times to confirm this information, since it wasn't advertised on their store's events page, or on Charm City Cakes' events page or anywhere in the media in Toronto.  The third call on Wed. last week was the best - Duff was going to be signing his signature black aprons and they would be given to attendees for free!  Duff now has an extensive like of baking products and tools that are only sold directly by Michael's and the apron sells for $25.

Here I am with Duff, grinning my head off!  I tried to crop it, but seeing the security guy on the left and the pile of aprons on the right appeals to me. :)  The tubs on display are different flavours and colours of fondant icing.

Laurie and I are veterans of many, many scifi conventions and waiting for hours is the norm, so we decided to get there by 10:30 am - Duff was signing from 2 to 4 pm.  No kidding, we really did get there that early.  We also had Michael's coupons to use on even more craft supplies (Friday night is another story all together!), so we were able to kill some time.  This area of the store was only being set up when we arrived and they finally set up the waiting line by 11 am, when one couple was waiting.  I became the 5th person in line at 11:30 to hold our three spots, when the ladies offered to get us some food and drinks.

Both Laurie and I have the "Ace of Cakes" book, which is not a cookbook, but all about how the show came to be, Duff's path to becoming a successful cake designer (although he is also a trained chef) and bios of all the staff at the bakery.  It's also full of gorgeous photos of the cakes they've made.  We were told very specifically that Duff would "only sign ONE item - either a book or an apron."  We would still get an apron, signed or not, after meeting him.  I was the first in line who with his book and he was pretty pleased "You've got the book!" I told him I'd had it for 2 years and he said he was thinking of writing another one.  Of course I told him he should.  I also told Duff that now I had his and Ina's autographs (his comment "She's sweet!") and said that Ina taught me not to be afraid to bake and that Duff is inspiring to be more creative.  He said, "aww, baking's not scary!" and thanked me.  Of course, I was so excited I didn't let the Sharpie ink dry properly, so it's smooshed a little, but I don't care!

I really didn't know what to do next, since the apron was also part of the meet and greet. so I asked one of the assistants about it.  Duff had a stack of aprons in front of him (see above), and said "Here - let me sign one for you."  I couldn't believe it after the lecture we got before the event began.  I squeeed as I walked away!

I like the heart in front of "Duff" and his little happy face.  We also got a little sample of Duff's fondant - I think I'll have to try it out on some cupcakes...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Baker's 80th Birthday Party!

Sheesh, I thought it had been a while the last time I posted, but now I've actually gone over a month without posting!  Between moving family members, pickle-making parties and birthdays, I haven't had much time to try new recipes or blog.  Hopefully that will change this month as I warm up for the annual United Way bake sale that I'm organizing for Hallowe'en Monday.

We had a major family milestone on September 16th - my little mom, The Baker, turned 80!  Definitely a big event, but she asked that we not have a party "like the last one", her 75th, when 35 family and friends surprised her.  This time, it was a "Kaffee und Kuchen" Sunday afternoon party, which for non-German speakers means coffee and cake.  But we Europeans like to do things a little differently - we have the coffee/tea and drinks with baked treats *before* we eat anything else.  Hey, we have our priorities!  Then, for those guest who really enjoyed the party and stayed later, which we hoped would happen, we have a light buffet dinner.

This year both my lovely daughters Sarah and Megan helped with food prep and baking, for which I was very grateful.  Apart from a massive shop at Costco for the party basics, Megan made two delish salads and Sarah made gluten-free lemon bars, to make sure one of our favourite guests wouldn't be excluded from enjoying the treats.  I made Red Velvet cupcakes (Ina's reliable recipe), my buddy Vince's Tiramisu (I'll do a separate post with this recipes) and an oversized cupcake birthday cake.  For the cake, I bailed and used a French Vanilla box mix because I knew it would hold up well for the shape I was making.  Here it is before the candles were added.  Can you tell that the theme for the party and decorations was cupcakes? ;)

And here's the birthday girl being surprised with her cake!  My uncle asked if I made one for everyone - seriously, 19 of them?!?

She seemed to really enjoy the party and I know the family did too!