70s Week: Terrific Women Make Cottage Cheese Pie

We hardly ever indulged in sweets back in 1974. We didn’t need the sugar since we could just as easily get our fix from one of the sweet liqueurs being passed around the lunch table. That’s probably one of the reasons this pie doesn’t taste very good. When a person doesn’t like desserts, they aren’t likely to make good ones.

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All is not lost for this pie though. What it lacks in flavour, it makes up for in thrifty convenience, which is the only thing that mattered when entertaining with Linda and Joy. The other huge benefit to making this pie is that the whole thing can be made in the Osterizer blender because it’s the only one with innovative blend settings, such as stir, crush, and blend, all at varying speeds, carefully labeled so you know which one to use and when. The settings make all the difference and those other unsophisticated blenders out there on the market can’t compare. I’m looking at you, Vitamix. That’s right, using an Osterizer blender will mean this pie comes out luxuriously smooth, so smooth in fact that’s where we found this next collection of photos of the Terrific Women, in Roberta Flack’s super-smooth album, Killing Me Softly.

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Cottage cheese—along with the ground ham Joy favoured and Linda’s flavour extender cooking-crutch—was a real Terrific Women stand-by. It was a powerhouse of the kitchen, excellent in savoury jell-o molds, cheesy lasagnas, and of course mixed into Joy’s famous canned salmon salad. When they weren’t cooking with it, they would often make beauty masks from it, mixing in a little bit of French dressing, which would stain their skin to give them a subtle orange glow, making it look like they’d spent the entire day at the beach.

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This week has been an absolute blast and we’re sad to have it end. We’re both so grateful to Linda and Joy, as well as the amazing camera operator and film editor Tristan Gough, and producer of Terrific Women, Laura Pharo. Tristan and Laura worked behind-the-scenes like me and Jen but often went far and beyond the call of duty—as you can imagine, working with Linda and Joy took some special handling.

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As you’ll see in the clip below, shooting didn’t always go as planned and when things went awry, Linda and Joy had a tendency to get frazzled. Often after one of their spells, Laura would sit with Joy and macramé an animal to calm her down, while Tristan applied a booze bandage to Linda’s attitude. This would occur often enough that Jen and I could go off on long breaks to the nearest roller rink mid-day for an hours-worth of funky tunes and chill skating. We got so good at it that we won the Toronto Roller Skating Championships of ’76!

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We hope you’ve enjoyed all the little snippets and glimpses into our past lives! 40 years in the business has given us a plethora of stories to tell so once our stomachs settle from all this superb grub, maybe we’ll revisit some of our other odd jobs we’ve taken on. Now let’s give 70s Week the send-off it’s deserves with this Cottage Cheese Pie!

Cottage Cheese Pie

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1 envelope unflavoured gelatine
1/4 cup hot milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups creamed cottage cheese
1 prepared graham cracker crumb crust
1 small can of mandarin oranges, to garnish

Combine the lemon juice, egg yolks, and gelatine into a blender. Cover and process at the “stir” setting a few seconds, then remove the feeder cap and gradually pour in the hot milk and sugar. Replace the cap and process for about 1 minute until the gelatine is fully dissolved. Stop the blender and add the cottage cheese. Return the lid and push the “blend” button, processing until smooth and well blended. Pour into prepared crust and chill until set. Garnish with slices of canned mandarins.

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Winter Recipe Roundup


What happens when you give drunk people fire and tell them to spell.

Judging by my Facebook feed, everyone wants this winter to die a fiery death and never return.  Well, suck it up, because I have more winter photos to share, as well as a reminder of the winter recipes we posted.  Hopefully soon this winter will be a distant memory, and you can look back on this post fondly in October when you’ve forgotten that time when it was technically spring but still -14 degrees Celsius and snowing outside.

Also, we busted our asses in a snowstorm to take these photos “in the name of Crustcrumbs!“, so you are going to look at them, okay?  Okay.

Actual snowstorm.

Our shooting conditions.

Winter Recipe Roundup

1. Ice Fishing & Perch Soup

For this recipe, we trekked over to Minet’s Point Park in Barrie to visit the cool ice fishing tepees.  We pretended to go ice fishing to the amusement of the locals while John cooked fish on a portable grill and served it up in a soup.  In a glorious display of grace and finesse, I slipped on the ice and injured my hip like a 90 year old woman.

Perch Soup

2. Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

The venison was smoked on the BBQ.  I made John go outside in the snowstorm to check on the meat while I took pictures through the window “for artistic purposes”.  This was also my first time trying venison and it was tasty, but not as tasty as the wild rice salad John made as a side dish, which I am still obsessed with to this day.

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3. Gluten-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

We baked a cake in a wooden wine crate in a campfire (sort of).  Spoiler alert: the wood crate caught on fire.  The cake was still tasty, because John says it’s impossible to screw up sticky toffee pudding.  Even when it’s gluten free.  I didn’t take a good photo of the final product because cider.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

More Pictures

Ice fishing huts

Cooking Outdoors

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Enjoy spring!

Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I know you’re not going to make sticky toffee pudding in a wood box while standing around in three feet of snow. We didn’t – well we did but we finished the dessert in the oven – and even if we had taken it all the way, it would still only be for the sake of taking pictures of it baking in a wooden wine crate. Maybe it was a result of a little cabin fever, stubbornness, and a few craft porters tipping the 10% ABV point, leaving me with little fear of the cold and non-stop snow we’d been seeing all day. Determination meant we were going to get the most wintery photo-set out of this weekend, frostbite be damned.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The real reason for the wooden oven experiment was to show that sticky toffee pudding is pretty hard to mess up. It’s a dark, damp cake made with dates and treacly brown sugar, and because of this it can stand up to a lot of undeserved punishment. So on top of the unconventional make-shift oven, we went with a gluten free version of sticky toffee pudding. The nubbly almond meal and dousing of bourbon really make this cake dense – a bit brick-like in the stomach, which would only be a welcome thing on such a bleak winter’s day.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is one of those recipes that really benefits from those big impossibly plump and soft organic Medjool dates that are somehow fresher than the non-organic varieties. The bourbon is optional, though appropriate with all the butter and brown sugar happening in this cake. If you wanted to leave the bourbon out entirely, you could replace it with water.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

As for serving this cake, you have to make the sauce to accompany it. It’s rich and comforting and this pudding needs that kind of familiarity as the cake itself, though related to a sticky toffee pudding, is nothing close to what would satisfy a sticky toffee pudding purist. Though as we have taken an unconventional route thus far, you might as well add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to serve along with it, letting the melting custard meld with the hot sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hopefully soon, wintery scenes like this will be a distant memory and when we’re no longer trapped by snow and ice, we can repress those memories and replace them with this pudding. Now that it’s finally spring, it’s time to finally shift the focus onto brighter, more verdant adventures.


Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the Pudding
250g organic Medjool dates, pitted
50g Demerara sugar
125ml water
75ml bourbon
100g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
200g ground almonds
20g coconut flour
3 large eggs

For the Sauce
65g Demerara sugar
65g unsalted butter
125ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Alternatively you could butter 6 ramekins or any other dish that’s large enough to take the batter.

In a small saucepan, combine the dates, sugar, water, and bourbon and heat over medium-high until the liquid begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes to let the dates soften. Pour the dates and their liquid into a food processor and add the butter, ground ginger, and ground almonds. Purée everything until fairly smooth – a few bits of date are fine in the final pudding. Add the coconut flour and eggs and blend again until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a tester comes out relatively clean.

For the sauce, bring the sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of thin custard.

To serve, place a piece of the warm pudding in a bowl or dessert plate with high sides and drench in the sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Bourbon-Soaked Chocolate and Espresso Trifle

Trifle is one of my favourite desserts, I think remaining at the top of the list because I limit myself to one per year. This year, two really because *spoiler alert* we shot this in November and you can be sure I’ll be having another trifle on the 24th of December.

Christmas Dinner: Dessert

It’s easy – like really easy to do. And for some reason, I find that with a trifle, shortcuts and cheats work. The sum is far greater than the parts. I’m sure if you did everything the right, full length way it would also be incredible but I don’t think that’s a desirable route this time of year. Besides, at this point in the meal everyone is about ready to burst and is completely soused. It’s the perfect time for some tomfoolery at the table.

Christmas Dinner: Dessert

The trifle comes off eating as a light dessert because of the airiness of the cream. The store-bought cake that makes up the heft is soaked in merry making amounts of booze meaning it resembles little of its former self, and the cheaters custard just melds everything together. Simply referring to this as a custard is a cheat really. The corn starch in it, in my opinion disqualifies it from being a custard but like I said, it’s not the time to be playing around with scalding milk and egg yolks in the kitchen. If things were to separate on me this late in the game, it would seriously jeopardize my annual trifle intake and that’s unacceptable.

Christmas Dinner: Dessert

I have to say this variation of trifle, with its bourbon, chocolate and espresso comes from my desire to not have to make two desserts at Christmas. The New York Times’ Melissa Clark published an incredible recipe for a Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake in 2008 and upon first making it, it became a staple of our Christmas table. I wasn’t willing to stop making or eating trifle though, so this is my solution. I’m sure the bunt cake would be over-the-top in this trifle but the cake is so perfect on its own, with barely a dusting of icing sugar, it would be a crime to make it solely to have here. Go with plain chocolate cake and to drive my point home about using any store bought cake you can find, I will say unashamed that I used frozen double chocolate, pre-sliced Sara Lee pound cake.

Christmas Dinner: Dessert

Bourbon-Soaked Chocolate and Espresso Trifle

For the custard:
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
500ml whole milk (3.25% M.F.)
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

For the whipped cream:
500ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)
2 tablespoons icing sugar

To assemble:
2 x 306g chocolate loaf cakes, sliced
125ml bourbon
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks then slowly add the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for approximately 20 minutes until the custard is thick. Add the espresso powder and whisk again to dissolve. Refrigerate with plastic wrap resting directly on the surface of the custard to avoid it developing a skin. Cool completely before proceeding with the rest of the trifle.

Whip the cream and icing sugar together to form stiff peaks.

To assemble the trifle, start by adding a couple of tablespoons of the custard to the bottom of a trifle bowl and arrange a layer of cake over top. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the bourbon then a layer, approximately 1/4 of the custard, followed by 1/4 of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers, finishing with a thick layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Christmas Dinner: Dessert

Christmas Cookies

Have you heard how many people have been singing about Santa Claus coming to town lately? It’s been pretty much everybody and if that doesn’t stress you out a little bit, well you’re a better person than I. There is only one full work week before Christmas. So you know those Christmas cookies you were thinking would be fun to make this year? It’s time to pull the trigger and make them.

Christmas Cookies for Santa

It’s hard choosing what cookie recipe to make with so many out there to choose from. After I went with my trusted three recipes that I knew I could churn out without thinking, I realized that I could have done so many other things like a sugar and butter-laden shortbread – the kind that induces heart palpitations but is so utterly addictive. Mint Nanaimo bars or even cornflake wreaths topped with a snippet of Swedish Berry would have both been joy making, especially since my cupboard is stocked with so much green food dye.

At this time of year though, it’s better to go with your autopilot if you have one. It helps to avoid tears on Christmas, just as it does to decide not to roast and peel your own chestnuts or over-do-it on the County Nog.

As much as I’d like to experiment with other recipes, I have to give a recipe for this gingerbread. This is what I want to smell baking when I’m making Christmas cookies and I’d be a little disappointed if I didn’t have that familiar scent around Christmas as there’s really no other appropriate time to have them. It’s heavy on the cloves, which is one thing I really like about them. They’re also lighter in colour and crisp. They’re a perfect gingerbread cookie for those that say they don’t like gingerbread because they really don’t resemble any other gingerbread cookie out there.

I’m not one for decorating cookies. I really hate to do it so for these I enlisted a helper to do the dirty work, after I mixed up some icing that consisted of icing sugar and water, with some added red and green food dye. If no one is expecting pretty Christmas shapes, my real preference for these cookies is to roll out small amounts in my hands and smush them onto the cookie sheet, making for an average-looking round cookie that’s uneven in places but tastes just as good as the fussed-over version.

The prune turnovers, I hope I don’t have to convince you too much about. They’re absolutely basic to put together but taste like a Scandinavian Christmas. The instant you pull out the bottle of brandy, and dump in the sugar and prunes, you know it’s Christmas.

Christmas Cookies for Santa

The Peppermint Meringues come from Martha Stewart. I think they were first published in her magazine as a stand-alone holiday cookie issue, before it was turned into the popular Martha Stewart Cookies book. With only three egg whites, some sugar and food colouring, they take no time to put together. Though as a Canadian that flips between Celsius and Fahrenheit from recipe to recipe, I find I always flip the oven temperature in my head to Celsius instead of following it as written, meaning whenever I make this recipe, I inevitably have to run to the oven, remembering that I’ve again turned it up much higher than it’s supposed to be. I skip the chocolate ganache filling because I like them how they are, minty, light, and unfussy.

If you’ve taken the time to read this entire cookie rambling you’re practically done for. Santa Claus is probably reading this with you, over your shoulder and Christmas is about to be over. Just make something quick!

Christmas Cookies for Santa

Gingerbread Cookies

250g unsalted butter, softened
355g granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g all-purpose unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream on medium speed for approximately 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, corn syrup, and vanilla extract and continue to mix until fully incorporated. With the mixer turned off add the flour, baking soda, and spices and mix on low speed until just incorporated, finishing mixing by hand using wooden spoon so as not to over mix the dough.

Divide the dough into two portions and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. The dough can be made a couple of days ahead of time or frozen if desired.

When ready to bake preheat your oven to 350°F and remove the dough from the fridge to allow time to warm up and become pliable.

Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the dough to approximately 1/8” thickness and cut into Christmasy shapes. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet or a sheet lined with parchment paper for a little non-stick cookie insurance, for approximately 8-10 minutes. Leave a good 1” of space between cookies as these spread a fair amount.

Christmas Cookies for Santa

Brandy Prune Turnovers

makes 18 turnovers

60g granulated sugar
125ml brandy or Calvados
250g pitted prunes
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
45g fresh bread crumbs
450g package frozen all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, well beaten
coarse sugar, for sprinkling

In a small saucepan, add the sugar and brandy and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the prunes and continue to heat for another minute. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Add the spices and bread crumbs and using an immersion blender or food processor, blend everything to form a smooth paste. Cool completely before using.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Roll the puff pastry out into two equal squares if you’re not lucky enough to have scored some ready-rolled puff pastry. Cut each square into 9 smaller squares and heap about 1 tablespoon of the prune mixture into the centre of each. The filling doesn’t do much in the way of expansion when it’s baked so squeeze as much of the filling in each square as you can, while still managing to seal the edges with some of the beaten egg. Fold over each square to form a triangle and press firmly around the edges to ensure they’re sealed. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stash in the fridge to ensure the pastry remains cold. Right before baking, brush the turnovers with the egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar, then bake for approximately 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Christmas Cookies for Santa