Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

I love baking with blueberries. Just the sight of them in a pie, scone or muffin makes me smile. While it’s their delicious flavour that I find irresistible, it’s also great knowing that they are packed with all sorts of nutritional and antioxidant goodness as well! This wholesome muffin recipe is a personal favourite. You can use either fresh or frozen berries and these muffins freeze beautifully. 

Browning the butter gives these muffins an extra-special flavour.

Browning the butter gives these muffins an extra-special flavour.


  • ½ cup (125 mL) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 2.5 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups (500 mL) blueberries
  • Coarse sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners (or grease with vegetable oil).
  • Put the butter in a small pan set over medium-low heat. Cook butter until it begins to brown and becomes very fragrant, stirring occasionally. Keep a close eye on it during this process so it does not burn.
  • As soon as butter is browned, pour it into a heatproof bowl, scraping pan in the process, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream or yogurt, milk and vanilla. Add the browned butter and stir well.
  • In a separate, large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest.
  • Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients and berries and stir just until combined (don’t over mix).
  • Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for 18 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Makes 18 muffins.

browned butter blueberry muffins 2


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A delicious day to visit Prince Edward County

Early September’s gorgeous weather has me in complete denial that autumn is coming. I’m still cooking summery foods, basking in warm sunshiney afternoons and enjoying dinners on the deck. I’m also busy looking for new ways to prolong that relaxed, happy summertime feeling….and I think I’ve found a great one. It’s an ideal opportunity to visit one of my favourite places in the world – Ontario’s Prince Edward County. One of the top wine producing regions in Canada, The County, as it’s affectionately known, is also a culinary hotbed, with farms, chefs and vintners collaborating to deliver some seriously tasty food. All that’s delightful about The County will be at your fingertips on September 27 during a wonderful event called simply TASTE community grown.


The thirteenth edition of TASTE community grown will be held at Picton’s historic Crystal Palace, just a few hours’ drive from the National Capital Region. The event is an annual showcase of the best that Prince Edward County offers in terms of food, farm products, restaurants, wineries and craft breweries. At only 30 dollars’ admission, which includes ten sampling tickets (more can be purchased at the event) and seminars throughout the day, it’s a delicious bargain. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will go towards supporting The County’s food banks.

Prince Edward County is gorgeous all year round but perhaps at its finest in early autumn.

Prince Edward County is gorgeous all year round but perhaps at its finest in early autumn.

Presented by the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association, TASTE community grown will also feature the County Chopped event, based on the popular TV program. Celebrity judges will assess the efforts of local chefs who will  be cooking their way through a mystery basket of ingredients.

It's fun to visit The County's wineries - many are stunning properties, like The Grange.

It’s fun to visit The County’s wineries – many are stunning properties, like The Grange.

TASTE community grown will be a jam-packed day, with over 75 participating wineries, restaurants, farmers and food trucks. It will also be a very family-friendly event; kids are admitted free! I suggest making a weekend of it so you have time to check out some of the other sights of The County.


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Peach-almond ice cream

This recipe should have you making a mad dash to the nearest produce purveyor to grab another basket or two of fresh peaches before the season is done. I love this ice cream because it’s not too sweet and really lets the peaches’ natural flavour shine. You can make the peach puree ahead of time and freeze it, so whip up a few batches of that and you can enjoy a taste of summer all winter long.

Fresh peaches and just a hint of almond flavour give this custard-based ice cream a great taste.

Fresh peaches and just a hint of almond flavour give this custard-based ice cream a great taste.


  • 2 cups (500 mL) peeled, finely chopped peaches (2 – 3 peaches)
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) almond extract (optional but delicious!!)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • ½ (2.5 mL) teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks


  • In a small pot, combine peaches, 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar, lemon juice and almond extract (if using). Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours to draw juice out of fruit.
  • After standing time, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until peaches are soft. Pour into a clean dish, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar (185 mL), heavy cream, milk and vanilla. Bring just to a boil.
  • In bowl whisk egg yolks. While whisking, slowly pour in about 1 cup (250 mL) of the hot cream mixture.
  • Return egg mixture to the saucepan, whisking vigorously.
  • Continue to heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (it will thicken as it cooks for a minute or two).
  • Remove from heat, add vanilla and strain into a clean bowl.
  • Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  • Transfer the custard mixture to a prepared ice cream maker; add peach puree. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 5 cups (1250 mL).

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Overnight Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Your family would quite likely fall in love with you all over again should you decide to get up at the crack of dawn to craft some home-baked love, fragrant and just-from-the-oven warm as soon as they awaken. However, in today’s busy world, starting anything from scratch at 5 am is just a bit of an unrealistic plan. I’ve been experimenting for a while now with suspending various yeast doughs – preparing them the day before, refrigerating them, then baking them up the next day. This technique is perfect for sticky buns, which do need time to rise but only require a short baking time before serving. To avoid the almost-impossible-to-resist temptation of eating the entire batch myself, I like to portion up half or even three quarters of the batch into small foil pans with lids, then share them with friends so they can wow their own families with freshly-baked breakfast treats.

Nothing says I love you more than a tray of freshly-baked sticky buns first thing in the morning, right?

Nothing says I love you more than a tray of freshly-baked sticky buns first thing in the morning, right?



  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk (or buttermilk if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon (45 mL) yeast
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) white sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) melted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 to 4 cups (875 – 1000 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) soft butter for proofing bowl


  • 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (125 mL) butter
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped pecan halves (optional)


  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) very soft butter
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) chopped pecans, raisins or currants or a combination


  • Warm milk carefully in microwave to approximately 105 – 110 F (40 – 43 C) and pour into a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one).
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk then sprinkle 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the white sugar on top.
  • Let stand about 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
  • Add remaining sugar, melted butter and egg yolks; mix well to combine.
  • Add 2 cups (500 mL) of flour (3 cups / 750 mL if using a stand mixer) and stir vigorously to combine.
  • Continue adding flour until the dough comes together into a soft ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  • Knead using stand mixer for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding just a tiny bit more flour as needed to keep it workable.
  • When dough is well-kneaded and smooth in texture, shape it into a ball. Rub the inside of a clean, large bowl with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of soft butter. Roll the dough around in the bowl to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let proof (rise) in a warm place (an oven that has been ever so slightly preheated and turned off is great) until the dough has doubled in size (approximately 60 – 75 minutes).
  • While dough is rising, make the sauce by placing butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn, and boil for a minute or so.
  • Remove from heat; add corn syrup and cream then stir to blend well.
  • Pour the sauce into the bottom of two parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pans (or equivalent larger/smaller pans) and sprinkle evenly with pecans, if using. Set aside to cool.
  • Prepare the filling by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • When dough has risen to double its original size, pull it out of the bowl and place on clean countertop.
  • With your hands or a rolling pin, flatten into a rectangle approximately 10 inches x 16 inches (25 x 35 cm). Spread the dough with the soft butter and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle with nuts and/or raisins (currants), if using.
  • Starting on one of the long sides, carefully roll the dough up into a long cylinder, pressing gently as you roll.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 20 equal slices.
  • Arrange the slices, cut side up, atop the cooled sauce in the pans.
  • Cover each pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 36 hours.
  • When ready to bake, remove the pans from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Bake 22 – 25 minutes for smaller pans, or 26 – 30 minutes for a large pan, until sauce is bubbly and buns are golden brown on top.
  • Remove cooked buns from oven and let pans rest for 5 minutes before inverting them onto serving platters.

Makes 20 delectable sticky buns.


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Better barbequing all year long

I have heard that there are people who hang up their barbeque tools after Labour Day. I suppose these same folks might put their white pants and shoes away as well, tradition-bound as they seem to be. Not for me – while I might not bust out the white patent pumps in December, I sure do enjoy barbequing in all kinds of weather. Autumn can be a particularly pleasant time to be outdoors, after all. In the spirit of year-round grilling, I bring you a quick roundup of handy items for grillers both novice and experienced.

Three-Compartment Grill Basket

three compartment grill basket

What sets this basket apart from others is quite literally the fact that it comes apart! I love to use it for grilling veggies; because there are three compartments, it’s super easy to vary the cooking times for different ingredients. It’s also a lot easier to clean up afterwards than traditional grill baskets. Available online at kitchenware emporium Sur La Table.

Cave Plate grilling stone

cave plate soapstone grill

Made by Ottawa legend “Rizak the Horrible” (aka Todd Chambers of Really Horrible Enterprises), this soapstone grill is useful for all sorts of grilling duties. One side is slightly roughened, making it ideal for flatbreads or pizzas, while the smooth side can be used for vegetables, fish, meat …. pretty much anything and everything. With just a touch of oil it serves as a non-stick, easy to clean surface that also keeps food from falling through the grill.  Available in Ottawa at Kitchenalia in Westboro and Around the Block Butcher Shop (formerly Brian’s Butchery) in Bell’s Corners.

Gastro Grilling Cookbook

gastro grilling cover

Barbeque Guru Ted Reader’s ninth cookbook is, in my opinion, his best yet. As the publisher says, “Gastro Grilling is for everyone who loves to fire up the grill at any time of the year and turn an everyday meal into a gastronomic delight!” The book offers a host of tricks, including tips for wintertime grilling, along with dozens of great recipes in various categories, including party foods, sandwiches, cocktails, desserts and more. I’ve challenged my husband to see if we can prepare every single one within the next six months. Available at traditional and online booksellers everywhere.

Herb zipper

herbzipper better

This is one of those gadgets that I thought might be gimmicky but actually turned out to be quite useful. It’s ideal for stripping the leaves from herbs such as rosemary and thyme – all you do is pull the herb stem through the appropriately sized hole, and the leaves drop into the attached measuring bowl. Available online at

Octopus Bottle Baster

octopus baster

The playful design was what first drew me to this barbeque tool, which is a bottle and basting brush combo. Simple fill it with your favourite basting sauce (it works best with thicker ones) and then you can squeeze and spread quickly and easily. I like to wash and reattach the baster after use and then store the remaining sauce right in the bottle, in the fridge. It’s BPA free too! Available at

Accu-temp digital thermometer

An instant-read digital thermometer is an essential kitchen tool.

This instant-read digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of barbequing meat – no more under- or over-cooked steaks, chops or chicken breasts! I bought mine at Canadian Tire for under $15 and have used it for years.

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Melon and Bacon Salad

Two weeks of particularly fresh, flavourful food in the Constantly Cooking kitchen are drawing to a close. I had so much fun with the August Farmers’ Feast Challenge, dreaming up great new dishes thanks to a bursting bushel basket of produce from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market.  The inspiration for this salad was the classic cantaloupe-prosciutto combination that is so delicious and popular. I love the contrasting colours of the melon, bacon and mint; the simple dressing really helps the ingredients’ naturally yummy flavours shine through. While I love the vibrant green colour of the canary melon from Rochon Garden used in this version, orange-hued cantaloupe would work nicely also. This would be a great brunch dish or an appetizer for a summery meal.

Cool, juicy melon and warm, crisp bacon are a perfect pairing. The lemony vinaigrette and mint complement both of the salad's main components.

Cool, juicy melon and warm, crisp bacon are a perfect pairing. The lemony vinaigrette and mint complement both of the salad’s main components.



For the salad:

  • 1 small melon (canary or honeydew)
  • 8 pieces bacon, cooked and cut into 2 inch (5 cm) pieces
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • Cook the bacon (I like to bake mine on a parchment-lined sheet at 375F for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through).
  • While bacon is cooking, cut the melon in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds; cut melon into 1.5 inch (3.75 cm) wedges and cut rind off each wedge. Slice the melon flesh into large cubes (approximately 5 inches / 3.75 cm square) and put these in a serving bowl.
  • Put the olive oil, honey, lemon juice, Dijon and a few grinds of pepper in a small jar with a tight lid. Cover the jar and shake until dressing is well blended.
  • Once bacon is crispy, drain it briefly on a paper-towel lined plate and then coarsely chop it into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
  • Drizzle about two-thirds the dressing over the melon cubes and gently toss to combine. Add more dressing if needed – you want the melon well coated but not drowned.
  • Sprinkle bacon pieces and mint over the melon; toss again and serve immediately.

Serves 4 – 6.

Posted in Appetizers, Fruit, Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celery Gin Fizz 

I know what you’re probably thinking. “She’s taking this kitchen-inspired cocktails thing a little too far. A celery flavoured drink? Really?” Well, all I can say in response is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, especially if you prepare it with fabulous, local celery as I did thanks to Just Farms at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. This is one awesome libation. Fresh, fizzy and a just a little sassy – don’t be surprised if your friends suddenly think you’re a mixologist par excellence after you serve up a round of these beauties.

With just a hint of celery flavour, this cocktail has an intriguing, refreshing flavour.

With just a hint of celery flavour, this cocktail has an intriguing, refreshing taste that will both surprise and delight your guests.


For the celery syrup:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) celery leaves (or ¾ cup / 185 mL chopped celery stalks)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar

For one cocktail:

  • 5 oz (45 mL) gin
  • ½ oz (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 5 oz (45 mL) celery syrup
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  • Celery stalk for garnish


  • Combine celery leaves (or chopped stalks), water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain syrup into a clean jar; cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
  • To make one cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker or 500 mL jar (with lid) with ice.
  • Add gin, lime juice and celery syrup.
  • Cover and shake well for 1 minute to blend and chill the drink.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass. Add 2 ice cubes and top with soda water. Garnish with a celery stalk.

Recipe makes 1 cup (250 mL) of celery syrup.

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