The Ultimate Cornbread

It was a little unfair of me to post my Opa’s pork rib recipe without immediately posting this cornbread recipe given that, in our house, it is somewhat of a sacrilege to cook one without the other.  This recipe is not your ordinary cornbread, in fact my mother often refers to it as evil as it is filled with butter, cheese, jalapeño and corn.

The Ultimate Cornbread - A Pat & A Pinch

The Ultimate Cornbread

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup white sugar

4 eggs

1 14 ounce can cream-style corn

½ can jalapeño peppers, drained and chopped

1 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar, Marble, Mozzerella, or Monteray Jack in any combination)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time. Blend in the creamed corn, chilies, and cheese.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a second bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the corn mixture and stir until just smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The Ultimate Cornbread - A Pat & A Pinch

Opa’s BBQ Pork Ribs

My Opa (grandfather in German) is one of the most fascinating people I know. His skills range from welding to cooking to removing blackberry stains to growing the best tomatoes in his greenhouse (which as you can likely guess he built all by himself). He is a man of all trades but most of all, he is a family man who loves to be surrounded by good food and company. Back in the day, I honestly have no idea when a company, then called Western Natural Gas in Alberta, Canada, provided recipe suggestions to its customers.  This recipe, which has been lovingly modified and bulked up since, came from that company oddly enough.  It is one of my absolute favourite recipes to make as it is simple and a definite crowd pleaser.  Unless you are vegetarian, I guarantee this will be a hit!

Opa's BBQ Pork Ribs - A Pat & A Pinch

Opa’s BBQ’d Pork Back Ribs

2 pounds, preferably back rib rack


1 1/12 cups ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons liquid smoke

4 teaspoons celery seed, optional

4 tablespoons hot horseradish (preferably not creamed)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix the sauce ingredients together.

Brown the ribs on the BBQ. Then place them in a disposable aluminum pan and cover with the sauce. Cover the pan with foil.

Cook on the BBQ on a low heat until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning.  Back rib racks take approximately one and one-quarter hours, country style ribs take longer.

Opa's BBQ'd Pork Ribs - A Pat & A Pinch Opa's BBQ'd Pork Ribs - A Pat & A Pinch

Marzipan Strawberry Shortcakes

My mother has always been a phenomenal cook and aside from a handful of family recipes, she has honed her skills putting hours of love and dedication in in the kitchen.  This recipe was taught to her in a cooking course at an Italian restaurant in Chicago that has been long since forgotten by our family aside from these.  They are not your everyday spongecake strawberry shortcakes, but rather are marzipan filled sweet biscuits which are more traditional, photogenic, and delicious than their modern bakery aisle counterpart.

This recipe, depending on the size of each shortcake you choose, makes approximately 8-10 shortcakes.DSC_0033

Marzipan Strawberry Shortcakes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 ounces butter, cold

4 ounces almond paste broken into small chunks

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 whole eggs

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

sliced almonds

To serve:

Fresh berries

Whipping cream

Heat the oven to 350 F. A convection oven is preferred but not necessary.

Stir together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. When this is incorporated, slowly work in the almond paste and the cold butter that has been cut into pieces. Work this together until the mixture appears to be like a coarse meal.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and the almond extract. When this is incorporated, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix only until the dough starts to form. You will probably not need all of the liquid ingredients.

Knead the dough slightly. Pat the dough out to a one inch thickness using as little flour as needed so that the dough does not stick to the work surface.

Using a round cutter, cut the dough into individual servings. It is helpful to dip the cutting edge of the cutter in flour prior to making each cut. Place the round disks onto a lightly greased flat baking pan or a pan lined with parchment or a silpat. Brush the tops with the left over liquid and sprinkle with the sliced almonds and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool. Slice horizontally and fill with berries and whipping cream as desired.

Marzipan Strawberry Shortcakes - A Pat & A Pinch Marzipan Strawberry Shortcakes - A Pat & A Pinch

Pan Fried Salmon Cakes with Dill-Mustard Sauce

Living on the west coast, good salmon is easy to come by.  For this recipe, we typically use Pink or Coho fillets as opposed to the more coveted Sockeye.  The dill-mustard sauce is an absolute must with this recipe as the two compliment each other perfectly, although we serve the sauce on the side as some of us like to take more than others.
Pan-Fried Salmon Cakes with Dill-Mustard Sauce - A Pat & A Pinch

Pan-Fried Salmon Cakes with Dill-Mustard Sauce

Salmon Cakes

1/2 kg poached salmon (boned and flaked)

1/4 c. wild rice, uncooked

1/2 c. bread crumbs

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped

1 tbsp. capers, finely chopped

1 tbsp. horseradish

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

3 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. paprika


Dill-Mustard Sauce

2 ½ tbsp. grainy mustard

2 ½ tbsp. honey mustard

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. honey

8 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped

Boil the wild rice until cooked. In a large bowl, mix the salmon, wild rice, breadcrumbs, onion, dill, capers, horseradish, and lemon juice. Add and combine the beaten eggs and mayonnaise to bind. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Using your hands, form the salmon mixture into thick patties. Lightly coat each patty in the seasoned flour and refrigerate for at least half an hour ensuring that they are in a single layer or there is parchment paper between the layers.

To prepare the sauce, whisk together the mustards and incorporate the vinegar and honey. Stir in the dill and refrigerate until the meal is ready to be served.

When ready to cook the salmon cakes, melt some butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add as many patties as will comfortably fit in the pan and sauté, turning once, until golden brown on both sides (approximately 5 minutes on each side). Cooked cakes can be kept warm in the oven on a low temperature until the whole batch is ready to be served. Add more butter to the pan if needed.

Serve the cakes with the sauce. We like to serve them over a simple green salad with a light vinaigrette that does not compete with the dill-mustard sauce.

Pan-Fried Salmon Cakes with Dill-Mustard Sauce - A Pat & A Pinch

Pan-Fried Salmon Cakes with Dill-Mustard Sauce - A Pat & A Pinch


Red Wine Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche

Red Wine Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche - A Pat & A Pinch

I have only had the pleasure of travelling to Italy once.  We had family friends who had a charming flat at the time in Rome.  From there, we enjoyed the city immensely, always retreating to the lemon tree lined streets of their neighbourhood at dusk.  I couldn’t tell you how old I was or how long we stayed.  I do recall, among other things, drinking limoncello in the countryside as we wound our way through the hills, endless churches which I couldn’t appreciate at the time, constant cigarette smoke, streets that only a single car should have been physically capable of driving down at a time, and the most incredible foods (fried fiori di zucchine for example).  Down the street from the flat was a small delicatessen that, among many other delights, sold both tiramisu and poached pears in foil pans.  To this day, no tiramisu nor poached pear has ever been comparable, but my fond memories inspired me to try to poach pears at home with the following recipe which has been a family favourite ever since.

This recipe is directly out of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen.  I, however, would offer one adaptation to those of you who think cooking with an amazing $40 bottle of wine is absurd.  I have very successfully made this desert with cheaper dry, full bodied red wines over the years.  Call me a philistine, but I promise you that the result of using a more affordable wine (but never “cooking wine”) in this recipe will still “wow” whoever has been lucky enough to be invited to dinner.  In fact, I used an Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon for this “batch”.

Red Wine Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche

2 vanilla pods
1 bottle Amarone (or another dry, full bodied red wine)
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 small cinnamon stick
1 orange, zest and juice of
1 small bunch fresh thyme
8 Comice pears, peeled and base removed
1 c. and 2 tbsp. butter

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Split the vanilla pods and remove the seeds. Put the seeds and pods into an appropriately sized casserole-type pan that will hold all your pears snugly, and add the wine, sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice and zest. Throw in your thyme, secured together in a little bunch with string. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, and add your pears, sitting upright. Put the lid on the pan and bake in the preheated oven for around 1 hour until the pears are soft and tender but not falling apart. They should be soft all the way through but retain their shape. (Sometimes they can take less or more time depending on the ripeness of the pears.) When they’re ready they will have taken on the flavour and colour of the wine and should smell delicious.

By now the wine and the sugar will have thickened and the flavour will have intensified. Remove the pears to a dish, turn up the heat under the pan, and reduce the wine by about half. Remove from the heat and add the butter – agitate the pan but don’t give it any more heat. This will give you a really intense, tasty sauce which is to die for. Put the pears back in the pan and leave until ready to serve. The pears are best served warm with the sauce and a generous dollop of crème fraîche.

Red Wine Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche - A Pat & A Pinch

Dried Cranberry Sticky Toffee Puddings

Cranberry Sticky Toffee Pudding - A Pat & A Pinch


This recipe is from Best of Bridge and is the perfect sized treat for anyone with a sweet-tooth.  Because it is made with dried cranberries as opposed to the traditionally used dates, I like it all the better.   This dessert can be prepared ahead of time, and even frozen, but it is best served warm all of the way through.  Also please note that you will need ramekins in order to make them portion sized.  This recipe serves approximately 8 (unless you enjoy it as much as our family in which case it serves 4 with seconds).

A current trend in cooking is to add a little salt to sweet, so I thought to myself while soaking up the toffee sauce last night that these would likely be marvellous with the addition of bacon as well.  I am sure to most that will sound odd, and to some it will sound brilliant, so if you decide to be the guinea pig and put in some bacon (it will need to be pre-cooked and cooled, chopped finely, blotted with paper towel to remove as much grease as possible) then please let me know how it is.  If this idea sounds sacrilegious to you as it did to my own mother, please forget I mentioned it!

Dried Cranberry Sticky Toffee Puddings

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Toffee Sauce:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup whipping cream

Butter and flour 8, 1/2 cup ramekins. Place in the fridge until needed.

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add the vanilla and baking soda, then add the dried cranberries and set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
Lightly beat the eggs and gradually add to butter mixture. 
Lightly mix the flour and baking powder together and gently fold into the batter. Fold in the cranberry mixture.

Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet for easy handling. Portion the batter into the ramekins and bake at 350 F for 25 – 30 minutes.

To prepare the Toffee Sauce, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until the sauce thickens.
 To serve, remove puddings from ramekins by running a knife around edge. Invert on plate and drizzle with warm Toffee Sauce.

The puddings can be made ahead, but are, again, best served warm.  They are easily reheated in a 300 F oven.  The sauce can also be made ahead and reheated.

Cranberry Sticky Toffee Pudding - A Pat & A Pinch