Butternut Squash Soup

This soup will leave your guests with a serious dilemma – go back for seconds, or leave room for the next course!

What you need:

  • 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium sweet onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of California garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchinis, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash (approx. 4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ginger root, peeled and grated
  • Flor de sal
  • olive oil to garnish
  • black better, freshly ground

How to make it:

You will need one stock pot for the soup and one sauté pan. Fill the stock pot with the chopped carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and butternut squash and water. Fill the pot with water until the vegetables are just about covered. Boil covered for about 35 minutes.

While that is coming to a boil, sauté the onion and garlic in the pan with one tablespoon of olive oil. Use medium to high heat. The idea is to caramelize the onions and garlic. Add salt generously. Toss the onions frequently to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.

When the vegetable mix has softened, combine the sautéed onions and garlic. Puree the soup with a hand-held blender. At this point you should taste the soup as it may need to be salted further. Peel a small piece of ginger root and add the grated ginger root to the soup mixture. This is what gives this soup a unique kick. Keep the pot over low heat for another 15 minutes.

Pour into your favourite bowl. Garnish with fresh black pepper and a dash of olive oil.



Spiked Fig Biscotti

The secret to these treats is to soak dried figs in “aguardente” one week before. Aguardente is a generic term for alcohol that contains between 20-60% alcohol. The word is a combination of water and fire. Any good brandy will do the trick.

What you need

  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups of enriched white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3/4cup of dried figs
  • 1/2 cup brandy or aguardente, if available

TIP:  The original recipe called for one full cup of sugar but I have cut that in half and they are still great. You may also substitute half of the oil for applesauce.

How to make it

One week prior, chop the dried figs into small pieces and place in a small dish with the alcohol. refrigerate for one week, or a few days before you decide to make the biscotti.

Combine the eggs, flower, baking powder, oil, sugar. When the ingredients are well incorporated, add the figs. Leave out the excess alcohol juice and discard it.  Pour the batter in logs of 4″ by 8″ on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This should yield three logs.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees farenheit.

Remove from oven and while hot, slice each piece to create your biscotti. Lay the sliced biscotti on the same cookie sheet (parchment is optional now) and return to the oven a second time. This will dry the dough further, giving you a nice crisp biscotti. The timing for this last step is subjective. Remove from oven when the biscotti is golden, or browned to taste.

Enjoy responsibly 🙂


Applesauce: a healthy substitute for oil

You would have noticed my recent post for my Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes. Recipes for pancakes, or most baking for that matter, usually calls for oil to be used. For a while now, I have been experimenting with applesauce as a replacement for oil and have been impressed with the results.

So, why does applesauce work?

In a recipe, oil serves to separate the starch (gluten) from water. Applesauce has pectin which can serve to do the same thing.

BUT, applesauce is not a foolproof substitute for all fats. Butter, for exampled has milk proteins which act as an emulsifier to bind with the flour in your recipe. Pectin doesn’t work the same way. Also, you will miss out on flavour. While oil can be tasteless, replacing butter for applesauce in a recipe can give you very different results.

Lastly, too much applesauce will give you a jelly-like final product. If you have used a significant amount of applesauce for a cake, you’ll notice the cake become less fluffy as the days go by. See this link  for some more tips on using applesauce as a substitute.


Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Besides the fun swirl of cinnamon, what makes these pancakes great is that they are whole grain, lactose and dairy-free, and low in fat.

What you need:

  • 1 1/3 cups whole grain pancake mix*
  • 1 1/3 cups almond milk
  • 2 eggs (free-run)
  • 4 tbsp. unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

How to make:

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. In a mixing bowl, blend the flour, eggs, milk, and apple sauce. Pour out half a cup of the prepared batter into a small mixing bowl. Add the cinnamon and brown sugar to the batter. Now, pour the sweetened cinnamon batter into a Ziploc bag or piping bag. This will serve as the swirl batter for your pancakes and the piping bag will give you the precision needed to make defined lines on the pancake.

Using a ladle, pour the batter onto the hot  pan. I like to do two pancakes at a time but you can make as many as you wish and in your desired size. When the top of the pancakes begin to bubble, use the piping bag to draw a swirl on the pancake. Start by putting a dollop of the batter in the centre of the pancake and begin to rotate. I like to use circular motion but feel free to experiment with any type of swirl you like. After about 30 seconds, flip the pancakes. The decorated side only needs just over a minute, otherwise it will become overly brown.

Remove from pan and serve with your favourite sides. This morning, I chose to have scrambled eggs with a side of cherry tomatoes and blueberries.




This is a classic. It makes a good appetizer and can be used as a light snack for casual social gatherings.

What you need:

  • 1 French baguette
  • 4 medium tomatoes on the vine
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • reduced balsamic vinegar
How to make it:

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees farenheit.

Start by chopping the tomatoes into small cubes. Place the chopped tomatoes on a plate lined with paper towels to help reduce the amount of liquid. Chop the red onion into as small pieces as you are able to. Red onion can be very strong so using small pieces, almost minced, will ensure that you don’t get a blast of spice when you take a bit of the bruschetta. For the garlic,  use a garlic press to mince three cloves of garlic. Reserve the other four. Combine the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into a bowl. Cut up the basil leaves using herb scissors. This will give you thin long strips, which will be a stark contrast of colour to the red of the tomatoes.  Add the olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Toss together and set aside.

Second, slice the baguette into half-inch slices. Cutting on a diagonal will give you a longer, more elegant slice of bread. Lay the slices of baguette on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for no more than 7 minutes.

Remove baguette slices from the oven and begin to plate on your serving dish. Score the crusty baguette slices with the garlic cloves you have reserved. This will give the bread some secret garlic essence. Place the desired amount of bruschetta mix on each piece of bread. Drizzle the plated bruschetta with reduced  balsamic vinegar. Optional: add a thin drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of finishing salt.

Enjoy soon, while the bread is warm and crusty!


Health notes

  • The salt that I have used here is a finishing salt called Flor de Sal (literally, “flower of salt”). This salt is imported from Portugal and is known for being high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.