Category Archives: Celebrations | Seasons

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day is approaching; will you be making Irish soda bread?

Traditional Irish soda bread is made with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. There are strong debates on adding anything else! Surprisingly in Ireland, the bread is referred to as brown bread, and doesn’t resemble any of the recipes in North America.

Nowadays, you’ll find sugar and butter added, as well as caraway seeds and/or raisins. There is no yeast or kneading involved, and the bread relies on baking soda as a leavener. The bread is rustic, typically round in shape, dense and slightly chewy.

Whichever recipe you choose, Irish soda bread is very easy to make and will keep for several days at room temperature. The flavor improves with age, and it’s best made several hours in advance, or even overnight.

We like ours toasted and spread with butter and jam! To serve with savory foods, you can omit or reduce the sugar.

Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar (adjust to your taste or optional to leave out)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk (you can make your own by adding 2 tbsp vinegar to a measuring cup, then add milk to equal 2 cups, stir and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Butter a 9×5” loaf pan and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients
  4. Add egg to buttermilk and whisk to combine, then add to dry ingredients and combine until moistened
  5. Add melted butter and stir until well distributed
  6. Spoon into prepared pan
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, checking near the 60 minute mark. When a toothpick inserted comes out clean, the bread is done!
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack

Kitchen notes:

  • This recipe yields a very soft dough and requires a loaf pan to hold its shape
  • When bread is cooled completely, wrap in foil and keep at room temperature for several days

 

Happy Chinese New Year 2015!

For those celebrating, we would like to wish you the very best for health and happiness!

Happy New Year!

~ Ruby & H

Year of the Ram - 2015

Godiva Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Godiva

I’m not a huge fan of chocolates, but H is!   I took him to Godiva and when we got to the counter, he was waiting for me to choose the flavors.  I told him it was his treat for a change, and to pick the ones he liked.  Of course he resisted, but after some prodding … Birthday Cake, Key Lime, Tiramisu, Chocolate Lava, Champagne, Smooth Coconut, Salted Almond and Hazelnut Crunch.  Mmm!

Godiva Truffles

Seasons at the Prince – Sunday Brunch Review

H and I love to indulge in Sunday brunch, so I can’t believe we have never tried Seasons at the Prince, located inside the Westin Prince Hotel.

Upon entering the hotel, we were greeted with an impressive waterfall, as well as a towering Christmas tree and fireplace. Seasons at the Prince is casual, yet elegant at the same time.  The decor is very clean, modern and minimalist, with more sleek fireplaces.

Seating is spaced well and very comfortable, with a lot of options for privacy.  The semi-circular booths looked very cozy, and we loved our table for 2 which offered a beautiful view of the parklands.

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We arrived early and Aladdin was gracious in allowing me to take pictures before the brunch started. He was “very” attentive throughout our stay, making sure we were well taken care of!

A unique selection of hot and cold buffet items were available, and on our visit we enjoyed the stuffed lobster shells, oysters, mussels and shrimp, salads, danishes, croissants, the omelet and carving station, chocolate waffles, and so much more. The food was very fresh and nicely presented, and I noticed dishes were replenished very quickly.

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Smoked Salmon, Assorted Deli

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Stuffed Lobster Shells, Oysters, Mussels

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Omelet Station

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Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella with Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle

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Roasted Red Skin Potatoes with Lemon and Garlic, Seasonal Garden Vegetables

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Roasted Leg of Lamb with Pearl Onions and Sun Dried Tomatoes

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Butter Chicken

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Tri-color Tortellini with Spinach and Artichokes

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Herb Crusted Barramundi with Citrus Salsa

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Chicken Apple Sausages

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Chocolate Waffles

Fresh juices, smoothies and fruit balanced out an indulgent brunch, but of course my mind was on the dessert table!  Being a dessert lover, I noticed a beautifully displayed dessert table and was tempted to start there first! 

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Desserts

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What’s On Our Plates

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My favorite desserts were the chocolate mousse cake which was not too sweet, Tiramisu and Chocolate Pots de Crème.

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Jolanta, our server, suggested we make room for the bread pudding, but to honest, it looked quite plain to me.  As they say, “looks can be deceiving.” I’m so glad we gave it a try … the bread pudding was pure decadence!  The addition of a very light, yet creamy and thick vanilla sauce was amazing.

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Most surprising was the coffee, as I prefer tea. When we asked Jolanta, she informed us it was Starbucks. While we love Starbucks lattes, H does not like their coffee, but this particular blend was mild and smooth, with no bitter aftertaste. Of course H enjoyed the pot that was left on our table, and I helped myself to several cups as well!

While the restaurant was booked solid, we never felt rushed to finish our brunch. We lingered long after everyone had left, and I was impressed that food was still being served, fresh as when we first arrived.

We were having such a relaxing afternoon, looking out at the beautiful grounds when Jamy and Jolanta brought out yet another piece of dessert while singing Happy Birthday. It was very nice that they took the time to chat with us! Most often, servers are in a hurry to clean up and usher guests out, but this was not the case at Seasons at the Prince!

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We had a very enjoyable brunch, the service was amazing, and we’re already looking forward to returning soon!

Note:

  • Sunday brunch is currently $44/person, which includes coffee or tea, juices and smoothies, as well as parking

Disclosure:
This is not a paid advertisement.

Christmas Cookies

You can find my favorite holiday cookie recipe on this hyperlink

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix Makes a Great Last Minute Gift!

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Just a few more sleeps until Christmas …. are you still working on your holiday shopping list?

Here’s a very easy homemade gift that chocolate lovers will appreciate – homemade hot chocolate mix.

I started making my own mix last year and I’ve never gone back to store-bought mixes. I like to use mason jars, but any container will do. Just layer with cocoa powder (Dutch cocoa is really good), icing sugar (which dissolves faster), or even vanilla sugar would be great. Add a few sprinkles of cinnamon powder and top with small chocolate chunks or chocolate chips. How easy is that?

Cheers!

To make:

Calculate how many servings your container or mason jar will fit based on the ingredients below. Fill each container about ¾ full, to allow room to shake contents.

1 serving contains:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon icing sugar (or vanilla sugar)
  • 1 – 2 tiny shakes of cinnamon powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of small chocolate chunks or chocolate chips (any type: milk, semi-sweet or dark)

My mason jars fit 6 servings so I spooned in 6 of the above.

Heaping = generous serving!

Cut and paste the recipe below, and print out to include with each jar.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Ingredients

• Dutch Cocoa Powder
• Icing Sugar
• Cinnamon
• Dark Chocolate Chunks

Directions

1. Shake jar
2. Add 1 heaping tablespoon to a mug
3. Add very hot milk, a little bit at first and mix well, then add remaining hot milk to top up your mug, stir to combine
4. Add your topping of choice – marshmallows or whipped cream

Enjoy!

This is so much healthier than store-bought hot chocolate mixes!!

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