Pecan Divinity Fudge

I remember my grandmother making Divinity (that’s all she called it) as a kid. She’d beat the sugary mixture for what seemed like ages to me, by hand, of course. Thank goodness we have modern appliances to help make this delicious treat, in a much easier but still authentic-tasting form. Thought to have its origins in the Southern US around the turn of the last century, Divinity Fudge is a nougat-like candy that is prepared both with and without nuts; some people add chopped maraschino cherries for a more festive version. You can sometimes find it in the southern states sold in a larger format labelled as pecan logs. Be sure to have a candy thermometer or instant-read digital thermometer on hand when you make this (and any candy) recipe. It keeps well at room temperature for a week and can be frozen up to three months.

Divinity Fudge Pecan Balls.jpg

Divinity Fudge is silky and soft, named for its snow-white colour. Adding pecans gives it a lovely contrast of flavour and texture.


  • 2 2/3 cups (630 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (155 mL) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) vanilla
  • 3 1/3 cups (785 mL) chopped pecans, divided
  • Small amount of butter, for greasing hands


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 250F (about 8 – 10 minutes) on a candy thermometer. Watch the mixture carefully to be sure it does not exceed the desired temperature.
  • While sugar mixture cooks, put egg whites in a large metal bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one) and beat (use the whisk attachment if you have one) on high speed until firm.
  • Also while sugar mixture cooks, divide the chopped pecans. Reserve 1 1/3 cups to add to the fudge. Take the remaining 2 cups and chop them so they are twice as fine. Put into a shallow dish.
  • Once the sugar syrup has reached 250F, remove the pot from the heat immediately.
  • With the mixer running, slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the beaten whites without scraping the saucepan (this should take about 60 – 90 seconds to drizzle in) and continue beating until very stiff (approximately 15 minutes).
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times during the first few minutes of beating.
  • While the mixture is beating, put four or five ice cubes in a kitchen towel and rub this around the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cooling the sugar and egg mixture in this way will help it firm up faster.
  • When the mixture is no longer glossy and quite stiff (you can turn the mixer off and lift up the whisk or beaters, creating stiff peaks that barely flop over), it is ready.
  • Shake excess fudge off the whisk or beaters and set aside.
  • With a large spoon, stir in vanilla and the 1 1/3 cups chopped pecans.
  • Apply a very small amount of butter (1/4 teaspoon or less) to the palms of your hands so the fudge mixture will not adhere to them.
  • Shape fudge mixture into small balls (no larger than 3/4 inch in diameter) and roll the balls in remaining chopped pecans, pressing gently so the nuts adhere.
  • Set on the parchment lined baking sheet to cool. Note that they will continue to firm up as they cool to room temperature.
  • Store in layers separated with parchment in airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes approximately 48 fudge balls.

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Catalan-style appetizer

This is one of my favourite ways to work with anchovies. Often we only think of using them for pizza toppings or in Caesar salad dressings, but they are actually a lot more versatile than you might expect and when paired with the right ingredients, anchovies have a subtle, salty appeal. One of the reasons I love this recipe is because it can be made up to 12 hours ahead and refrigerated until serving time. Bursting with Mediterranean-inspired flavours, this dish makes a delicious appetizer or could be the star of a light lunch.

This dish is an impressive, flavourful appetizer which includes roasted red pepper, hardboiled eggs, anchovies and parsley, dressed up with a garlicky vinaigrette.

This dish is an impressive, flavourful appetizer which includes roasted red pepper, hardboiled eggs, anchovies and parsley, dressed up with a garlicky vinaigrette.


  • 1 large red pepper
  • 8- 10 anchovy fillets, finely chopped *
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons (8 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) good quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

* use anchovies that come in a jar, not a tin


  • Roast pepper on flame of gas stove, on a barbeque or under the broiler. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool, then remove charred skin (easiest to do this by rubbing gently under cool running water), remove seeds and chop finely.
  • Put the vinegar, mustard, garlic oil, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight lid and shake vigorously to blend.
  • Arrange the diced peppers, anchovies, eggs and parsley prettily on a platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.
  • Serve with crostini or slices of crusty bread.

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Posted in appetizer, Appetizers, fish, gluten-free, healthy, Lactose-Free, Make Ahead, olive oil | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spicy Marinated Olives

I’m a big fan of gifting edible treats on just about any occasion. Show up at a party with a nice bottle of wine and something yummy the host can either put on the table or tuck away to savour later and you’re sure to be invited again. These olives are really easy to prepare and packed with flavour. Best of all, they’re like two gifts in  one: you can eat the olives after they’ve marinated for a week or so, then use the remaining spiced olive oil in cooking, on pizzas, or anywhere you want a little flavour pop.

Dress up ho-hum green olives with herbs, garlic, lemon and olive oil to make a delicious treat that's two gifts in one!

Dress up ho-hum green olives with herbs, garlic, lemon and olive oil to make a delicious treat that’s two gifts in one!


  • 1 litre (about 750 g) green olives with pits
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried thyme leaves
  • Enough good quality olive oil to cover


  • Place olives in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Toss to shake off excess moisture.
  • With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, cut six strips of lemon zest (avoiding the white pith as much as possible), approximately 3 inches (7.5 cm) by 1/2 inch (1.25 cm).
  • In 3 canning jars (approx. 2 cups / 500 mL each – or use one large jar), place a layer of olives.
  • Add a sprig of rosemary, a strip of lemon zest, half a garlic clove and a sprinkle of black pepper, red pepper flakes and thyme.
  • Repeat layers, packing jar fairly tightly but leaving a little air space.
  • Pour olive oil over the olives and seasoning, filling jar to within 1/4 inch (.5 cm) of the top.
  • Put lids on jars and let sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 7 – 10 days before serving.
  • For longer storage, after two weeks remove garlic cloves (which may develop toxic bacteria in low-acid solutions) after 10 days and store olives in oil in the fridge for up to six months.

Makes 3 jars.

Posted in Edible Gifts, make-ahead, Preserves, Quick Pickles, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ANZAC biscuits (cookies) – an Australian delight

One of the things I love best about travelling is getting to try foods that are native to a country or region. While I have enjoyed making and eating ANZAC cookies (biscuits) for many years, I knew that tasting them in Australia would be something special and I sought them out shortly after arriving in this gorgeous country last week. These biscuits have an important history – they were devised by the wives and mothers of Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) soldiers during World War I, as a way to provide a nutritious supplement to their meagre army rations. Because they don’t contain eggs, these biscuits, when packed in airtight tins, were able to survive the long shipping times to reach troops overseas. Initially dubbed Soldiers’ Biscuits, the cookies were renamed ANZAC biscuits after the 1915 landing on Gallipoli, a defining moment in the war for Australia and New Zealand, commemmorated annually on April 25, ANZAC day. While most traditional ANZAC biscuit recipes call for golden syrup or treacle, corn syrup (more readily available in Canada)  is a good substitute. Thanks to a delightful woman I met in New South Wales who shared her recipe – and her biscuits – with me.

ANZAC biscuits are an authentic Australian treat and form part of this country's proud history.

ANZAC biscuits are an authentic Australian treat and form part of this country’s proud history.

• 1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats (quick but not instant)
• 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
• 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar
• 3/4 cup (185 mL) finely flaked coconut
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
• 2 tablespoons (30 mL) golden syrup or corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking soda
• 1 tablespoon (15 mL) boiling water

• Preheat oven to 300F and line three baking trays with parchment paper.
• In a small bowl, combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
• In a small saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl), combine butter and golden syrup, stir over low heat just until melted.
• In a small heatproof bowl, combine baking soda with boiling water, then add this to the melted butter mixture.
• Stir the combined liquids into the dry ingredients.
• Place teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough mixture onto the lined baking trays, leaving two inches (5 cm) between for spreading. and place on lightly greased oven trays; allow room for spreading.
• Bake for 20 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on trays before transferring to airtight containers for storage.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Posted in Australia, Baking, baking, biscuits, cookies, Desserts, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pear-Gingerbread Muffins

Muffins are practically a food group in my house. The perfect after-cereal breakfast finisher, an ideal grab-and-go snack and a great mid-afternoon pick me up, we eat them at all hours of the day and night. We have a few favourite recipes that I make time and again, but every so often, I want to shake things up a little. Perfectly ripe pears from Warner’s Farm in this month’s Farmers’ Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market were the inspiration for creating this recipe, which is loosely based on my friend Andrea’s fabulous pear-gingerbread cake. I enjoyed one (or more…not admitting to anything) hot out of the oven with a cup of delightful Ginger Lime Sensation Rooibos tea from DiversiTea, also at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Not only are these muffins absolutely delicious, but they’ll make your house smell fantastic and they freeze beautifully.

Fragrant with spices and studded with diced pear, these muffins are incredibly moist and delicious.

Fragrant with spices and studded with diced pear, these muffins are incredibly moist and delicious.


  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each baking soda and baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) molasses
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, cored diced ripe pears (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sanding (coarse) sugar


  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners (use the parchment ones if you can find them – they’re fantastic).
  • Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Put beaten eggs in a separate bowl; stir in buttermilk, molasses, and canola oil until smooth. Mix buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until batter is just moistened; fold in pears and nuts (if using).
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 16 scrumptious muffins.


Posted in Baking, baking, Breakfast, brunch, Entertaining, Fruit, Fruits, Fruits and vegetables, healthy, Local Food, Make Ahead, Muffins, Ottawa Farmers' Market | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Braised Beef Shanks Osso Bucco Style

Beef shanks are an inexpensive cut that, cooked properly, can be incredibly flavourful and tender. Some of our area’s best beef, including the shanks I used to test this recipe, comes from Roadapple Ranch, one of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market’s numerous vendors offering high quality meat. The secret is searing the meat then slowly braising or roasting it in an aromatic liquid to enhance the meat’s natural flavour. This recipe, inspired by this month’s Farmers’ Feast project, is very similar to osso bucco, which is traditionally made with veal shanks. As with many slow-roasted recipes, you can easily prepare this dish ahead of time, then reheat it just before serving. Don’t skip the parsley and lemon garnish – it really perks up the flavour!

Braised Beef shanks are a tender and flavourful cut, perfect for a make-ahead weeknight meal or for entertaining.

Braised Beef shanks are a tender and flavourful cut, perfect for a make-ahead weeknight meal or for entertaining.


  • 2 pounds (900 g) beef shanks
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) canola, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onions
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry sherry or white wine
  • 2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) smoked paprika
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • 1 cup parsley chopped


  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Season both sides of the beef shanks with salt and pepper.
  • Put flour in a shallow dish and dredge beef shanks.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the oil in a large skillet, then brown the shanks, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer seared shanks to a plate.
  • Add remaining tablespoon (15 mL) of oil and add onions, celery, and carrots and sauté until vegetables begin to brown. Add chopped garlic and sauté for another moment or two. Add cumin and paprika, and stir, letting spices toast for a minute.
  • Add the sherry or wine and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (browned bits) from the bottom of the pan. When sherry has nearly evaporated, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Put one third of the sautéed vegetables in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty, oven-safe dish with a tight lid. Place beef shanks and any accumulated juices on top and add remaining sautéed vegetables.
  • Add just enough chicken broth to cover the shanks by about an inch (2.5 cm).
  • Cover the pot and put in the oven. Roast for at least 3 hours, until meat is tender. At this point you can refrigerate if not serving immediately.
  • Just before serving, combine lemon zest and parsley in a small bow.
  • Transfer meat to a warmed platter along with the vegetables and half the sauce, then garnish with the lemon-parsley mixture.
  • Put remaining sauce in a jug and pass it at the table.

Serves 4.

Posted in Beef, Entertaining, Farmers' Feast, Main DIsh, Make Ahead, Meat, Meat, poultry, fish, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Bake

As you can imagine, my taste testers get quite the workout during Farmers’ Feast weeks. Day after day, they wait patiently for their first bites of new dishes inspired by seasonal, local foods from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Their opinions and suggestions help me a lot in my recipe development process, but sometimes I worry they’re getting a tiny bit spoiled by my cooking. Sometimes, a new dish that I think has a fantastic flavour is sometimes met with indifference, but that was certainly not the case with this one, which garnered enthusiastic thumbs up all around. Delicious hot Italian sausages from locally-raised animals at Pork of Yore were the star of the show, helped considerably by a supporting cast of fantastic fall vegetables. I’ll be making this one-dish wonder again and again, particularly because it was so fast and easy to pull together.

This one-dish wonder of a meal is super speedy to prepare and packed with family-friendly flavour!

This one-dish wonder of a meal is super speedy to prepare and packed with family-friendly flavour!


  • 4 Italian sausages (mild, medium or hot)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 large white or yellow fleshed potatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 green Poblano pepper
  • 8 cremini mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) grated Mozzarella or crumbled feta


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Line a roasting pan with foil.
  • Peel the white and sweet potatoes then cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) chunks. Note when peeling the sweet potatoes, it’s important to get right down to the darker flesh. There is a yellowish layer under the skin that should be removed so that the potatoes don’t turn brown when cooking.
  • Parboil both kinds of potatoes in a medium-sized pot of boiling, salted water for about 5 – 6 minutes, until just barely tender. Drain.
  • While potatoes are cooking, cut all the other vegetables into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces.
  • Slice sausage crosswise into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
  • Put potatoes, all other vegetables and sausage pieces into the lined roasting pan.
  • Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with seasonings, then toss gently to ensure everything is evenly coated. NOTE: You can make the dish ahead to this point, then cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before baking.
  • Cover pan with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove foil and cook an additional 15 – 20 minutes until everything is well-roasted.
  • Top with cheese and put back in the oven for a minute or two, until the cheese has melted.

Serves 6 – 8

Posted in Farmers' Feast, gluten-free, healthy, Lactose-Free, Local Food, Main DIsh, Make Ahead, Meat, Meat, poultry, fish, One dish meals, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment