Celebrate the Strawberry Season with Strawberry Charlotte


Have you ever had a day when technology was not your friend?

This morning I was reading one of my favourite blogs on my ipad, while eating breakfast. I tried to comment on the blog using the WordPress App and instead of posting the comment on their blog it created a post for my blog including only my comment. If that is not bad enough it posted it to Twitter and emailed it to all of my email followers.

When I realized what had happened, I ran into the other room to fix my mistake on my computer, vowing to never post anything before having my morning coffee again.

To all who received this poor excuse for a blog post I hope to redeem myself by sharing this wonderful recipe with you. Now you might ask, “How that is going to earn redemption?”

It will, because it is one of the best looking and best tasting cakes I have ever made and you don’t even have to bake it! That is correct; no baking.


I found the recipe online at the website of a popular French Canadian chef, Ricardo. I was looking for a way to use up some wonderful fresh Ontario strawberries from my local market. We are only able to enjoy the local strawberries for a few weeks each year, but the wait is worth every bite. You can taste the difference between the locally grown berries and the ones that have come from other countries. The flavour is more intense.

This Strawberry Charlotte is like a cross between Tiaramisu and Strawberry Mousse Cake. The mousse-like centre is creamy and light and the lady fingers create an interesting crust that looks like a fence post circling around a pool of strawberry heaven. Then you top it all off with fresh strawberries and tie it up with a pretty bow. So simple!

I think it would be a great dessert to serve at a Canada Day or the fourth of July BarBQ wrapped in a red or blue ribbon.

Strawberry Charlotte


Lemon Syrup
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
2 tbsp. (30 ml) lemon juice

4 tsp. (20 ml) gelatin
6 tbsp. (90 ml) cold water
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) strawberry sauce (see note)
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 1/2 cup (375 ml) 35% cream
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) hulled fresh strawberries
22 store-bought ladyfinger cookies

Lemon Syrup
In a saucepan, bring 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water with the sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining water.

In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let bloom for 5 minutes. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of strawberry sauce, 180 ml (3/4 cup) of sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin has dissolved. Let cool and stir in the remaining sauce. In a bowl, whip the cream with the remaining sugar and the vanilla until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the strawberry mixture, using a spatula. Set aside.

Line the bottom of a 20-cm (8-inch) springform pan with parchment paper. Line the edge with a strip of parchment paper.
Cut each cookie into 7-cm (2 ¾-inch) long pieces. The smaller pieces will be used to line the bottom of the pan. Quickly dip the smaller cookie pieces in the syrup and cover the bottom of the pan. Repeat the soaking with the long cookie pieces and place them upright, flat side inward, along the inner walls of the pan. Fill with the strawberry mixture and garnish with the strawberries, pressing them lightly in the filling. Gently cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note:
For about 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of strawberry sauce, just puree about 1-litre (4 cups) of strawberries in the food processor until smooth and strain through a sieve.

Recipe from http://RicardoCuisine.com



Summer in the City and a Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly, Sour Cream Bundt Cake

With the beautiful summer weather upon us our vibrant city has come alive. People are out and about enjoying leisurely dinners in sidewalk cafes. They are spending time enjoying the weather at local venues like the Beach, Harbourfront, Toronto Island and the many local parks. Biking trails are packed with die-hard cyclists and family groups winding their way from one end of the city to another. Parks are strewn with picnickers and groups of friends playing Frisbee or baseball, all enjoying the day.

The beaches are filled with sun bathers and children building sand castles that will be washed away with the rushing tide. Beach volleyball has begun as well as the Major League Baseball and Soccer.  Rowers and dragon boat teams can be seen in the early hours of the morning scuttling across the lake with the grace of a schooner. Sailors have launched their vessels for another season and are out tacking across the lake until the sun goes down.

Life in Toronto takes on a whole new look once we experience the warm summer weather and the long sunny days. We become a city of people.

When preparing for a picnic or a BBQ with friends it is nice to find a bake ahead recipe that can be pulled out for the event while still holding its rich flavour. It is also fun to try recipes that would have been very popular in the 1980s only to find that they are still really delicious. This bundt cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan is one of those remarkable classics. It can be eaten the first day or kept for a few days in an airtight container or frozen for up to 3 months.


Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake


For the Swirl:

½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup plump, moist raisins
2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9-10 inch Bundt pan.

To make the swirl place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir. Set aside.

For the cake:

In another medium bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the butter and beat on medium speed for about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream. Still working on low, add the dry ingredients and mix only until they disappear into the batter. Give the batter a last stir with a rubber spatula, then scoop 1/3 of the batter into the Bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle ½ of the swirl filling, then spoon on the rest of the batter.

Make a shallow indentation with the back of a spoon in the centre of the ring of batter and fill with the remaining swirl mixture. Cover the mixture lightly with the batter. It is fine if the batter does not cover the mixture completely.

Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Unmold cake onto the rack and cool completely.

Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Recipe from Baking by Dorie Greenspan


Summer Berry Muffins-Perfect for Mothers’ Day Brunch

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child” -Sophia Loren

This is the weekend that we celebrate our mothers, our grandmothers and our children. We celebrate the joy that unconditional love can bring. Our mothers are the ones who are there for us no matter what. They stand beside us in times of trouble; they encourage us to find our dreams; and they help us to face our fears. Mothers will sacrifice everything so their children can have what they need.

They are resourceful, thoughtful, loving, warm, strong, intelligent, wise and the centre of our worlds.

I come from a line of very strong women. After being widowed at a young age, my grandmother raised 8 children on her own. She managed to help them all become successful adults while maintaining a home, a business and a career as a nurse. She expressed her creativity through quilting and cooking.  My grandmother passed away when I was 6 years old. My fondest memory of her was hiding under her stretched quilts when I was about 4 years old and peeking up to watch her as she meticulously stitched each layer together by hand.

My mother was the rock in our family. She spent every day making sure that we would be well equipped to deal with the world on our own, while still offering a safe haven to learn. She taught us, cared for us when we were sick and loved us even when we didn’t love ourselves. My mother has also been an amazing grandmother to my children who adore her.

Now there is a new generation of moms in my family. My youngest daughter has an adorable son and a baby girl due this June. She has found her grounding and her passion in motherhood and is amazing with her son. I am so proud to see the mother that she has become.

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”- Jill Churchhill

I dedicate this muffin recipe to Moms everywhere.

Summer Berry Muffins

Makes 12 medium sized muffins


1 cup mixed summer berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup superfine sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cases. Mix together berries. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk mixture, and add the mixed berries. Stir just until combined and divide among the muffin cases. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and well risen.

These muffins are best served warm or at room temperature in the day of baking.

Recipe from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook