My steak-loving grandson – who has eaten a lot of steak in his young life – insists that the most interesting experience and the best food is at Jacobs and Co. Steakhouse in Toronto. When I go with him I am always impressed by the huge tasty popovers that greet you when you arrive. Popovers are a particular favourite of mine because I grew up with Yorkshire pudding and they are just another version.
Popovers can be very finicky – not rising enough, falling when you take them out of the oven, sticking to the tins – but, using Jacobs’ recipe, we have come up with foolproof popovers. The secret is using room temperature ingredients, preheating the pan and letting them continue to cook for the full time given below even if they start to look very brown.
Although I dislike non-stick sprays, I do find they work very well for popover removal. Otherwise, oil the tins very well before you preheat them then let the baked popovers sit for 2 or 3 minutes before removing them.
Serve them with steak, roast beef, sausages, as a treat with a bowl of soup, or for a decadent snack, on their own. The roasted garlic butter is wonderful, but you could serve them without it.
The quintessential Canadian dessert, butter tarts are the perfect summertime indulgence, although bakers tend to charge a fortune for them and there’s always competition over whose is the best. This long weekend, blow them all out of the water with these easy, decadent bars that put a spin on the classic. For a more traditional homage, omit the caramel drizzle.
This is one of my favourite egg dishes because it’s simple to make and has a smooth, silky texture. If you prefer, bake the flan in four individual ramekins, reducing the baking time slightly. You can serve the flan hot or cold with the tarragon and fennel biscuits. They can be made by hand or in the food processor, making sure you don’t overprocess the dough; otherwise, they will be tough. To speed things up in the morning, you can measure the ingredients the night before but don’t mix them together. Alternatively, you can make the biscuits ahead of time and reheat in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes.
I love this and only eat it at Passover. Top with whatever you like. Cherry preserves are my favourite.
Ready time: 10 minutes
2 pieces matzo
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
Crumble matzo into a bowl. Pour warm water over the mixture to cover. Let soak for two minutes then drain off excess water. Stir in eggs, sugar and season with salt.
Melt butter in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the mixture and press down so that it fits the pan. Cook for two to three minutes or until bottom is golden. Flip over and cook another two minutes or until cooked through.
Cut in triangles or serve whole.
If you're short on time, you can also fill these pies with whipped cream or traditional marshmallow fluff. The discs can be large or small.
3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cup full-fat mayonnaise
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup salted caramel (recipe below)
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine white sugar, brown sugar and mayonnaise in a stand mixer and blend until smooth (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add a quarter of flour mixture, blend in and add a third of chocolate mixture. Continue alternating, blending well after each addition. Chill for 1 hour or until mixture has firmed up slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of batter onto a parchment-lined (or greased and floured) baking pan about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
Combine butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend until smooth. Slowly add salted caramel and mix until well blended. Chill until ready to use. If it hardens too much to spread, let it warm up slowly at room temperature.
Spread one chocolate disc with caramel filling and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Top with another chocolate disc to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining chocolate discs and filling. Chill for 30 minutes to set. Makes about 30.
A kid’s delight. A bit like a Rice Krispies square only much better. This is also great with either dark or milk chocolate.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ready time: 2.5 hours (including cooling time)
Servings: Serves 4, with lots of leftovers for lunch boxes and snacks
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
500 grams (1 pound) white chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Roast almonds on a baking tray for 10 minutes, tossing almonds half way until golden brown and fragrant. Coarsely chop.
Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides.
Combine almonds, apricots, Rice Krispies, ground ginger and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Melt white chocolate over low heat in a heavy bottom pan with cream. When it is liquid and smooth, stir into dry mixture. Pour into tray. Melt dark chocolate chips over low heat in a heavy pot. When melted, use the tines of a fork to streak chocolate over the dessert. Refrigerate to set for 2 hours or until you need it. Remove from fridge half an hour before needed and cut into squares.
Cooked plums are under appreciated, but these squares will have you on the bandwagon. Small Italian prune plums work best for this recipe.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ready time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4 with leftovers that keep 3 days refrigerated
11/2 cups flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
500 grams (1 pound) prune plums, about 12
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 cup chopped pistachios (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
Mix together flour, icing sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter in a food processor or by hand until well blended. The mixture will look like fine breadcrumbs. Place 2 cups in a bowl and gently combine. Gently pat into an 8 x 8 greased pan. Prick with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is a creamy gold.
Slice the plums into quarters lengthwise. Remove pits and stems. Toss gently with brown sugar and lime zest. Arrange plums on the crust skin-side up. Squeeze them in to fit. Add chopped pistachios to remaining crumbly dough (if desired), and sprinkle on top of fruit.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until top is golden, mixture is bubbling and fruit is tender. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack until room temperature. Lift from pan and cut into squares.