Posts Tagged ‘Fruit’

Bread Pudding & Hard Caramel Sauce

Posted on: December 5th, 2011 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few days ago, my friend Rhonda, who shared her Red Wine Jelly recipe a couple posts back, posed a question to her friends on Facebook. She asked for opinions on what dessert to serve a special guest that night. The responses were great.

Based on what Rhonda had in the kitchen, it was narrowed down to bread pudding, but everyone agreed it needed a better name. One friend said she called it “Warm Apple Dessert.” Someone else suggested “Not Enough Apples for Pie.” Rhonda kinda liked “Facebook Friends Dessert”

Call it what you want, but it is really simple, it is really delicious and Rhonda’s guests loved it!

Rhonda and her dog Ginger

Rhonda’s Bread Pudding with ‘Hard’ Caramel Sauce


4-6 slices of dry bread torn into pieces
2-4 apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 cups milk, scalded
2 eggs
cinnamon, to taste
walnuts and coconut, optional


1. Preheat over to 350°F. Butter a baking dish liberally.

2. Mix together the bread and apples in the baking dish and cover it with the milk. Let it soak.

3. Beat together the eggs and cinnamon and pour over the bread mixture.

4. Sprinkle walnuts and coconut on top if you wish.

5. Bake at 350°F for 45 mins.

6. Prepare the caramel sauce while the bread pudding is in the oven.

7. Serve with Hard Caramel Sauce, recipe below.

Hard Caramel Sauce

1 cup store-bought caramel sauce
1/4 cup rum – white, dark or spiced all work well

1. Warm up the caramel sauce in a small pot

2. Gently stir in the rum until it is blended.

3. Serve over the bread pudding.


Plant arrangement on Rhonda's deck

Looking for another bread recipe? You might like “Working Past Midnight” French Toast.

Speaking of Facebook, join us! Here is the link to the “Like” page.

Cooking With Sin Carla Johnson Facebook page

“Sisterhood” Maple Rum Crêpes

Posted on: August 25th, 2010 by Carla Johnson No Comments

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones. 

~ Lauren, 4 years old

Her story ~ The Sisterhood of the Crêpe

by Darcelle Runciman

Cooking With Sin Carla Johnson

Darcelle Runciman

Speaking of love… my husband Pat and I met 10 years ago and our love of the outdoors and of cooking is part of what brought us together. One of our first trips together outside Canada was to the Dominican and I remember we ate at a local café and enjoyed chocolate crêpes, which now having the recipe we carry on that tradition. We love the outdoors so much that we were married on a beautiful sand beach in Prince Edward County in Ontario. We love spending time in the kitchen creating good food for family and friends over the years. We were married 5 years ago and will be celebrating my sister’s wedding this year. So you can bet crêpes will be on our breakfast menu!

I remember one day just before lunch when I was visiting my sister and we both did not feel like cooking, we looked at each other and said so where should we go? Well to our local breakfast restaurant to have crêpes of course! I love that we can share laughs and food and create moments in time that we remember forever. Our family is very close and we love getting together and enjoying each other’s time and cooking and having fun in the kitchen. It is simply part of what we do, and something I believe that has been handed down by our grandmother who was always in the kitchen. My sister and I love baking and she now owns her own cupcake business Bake Sale Girl and has won awards for her unique displays of “sinful” treats.

As for myself and my wonderful family, we continue to make crêpes a staple in our home, and I continue to bake for my family from recipes that have been passed down for generations. Enjoying them each time as if it were the very first.

Having lived in Montreal for 21 of my years there are many French inspired dishes that were created by my sister and myself over time. The crêpe is one of my favourites.

The history of the crêpe came from France where “the pancake is known as a crêpe” and spelled with a character known as the circumflex or ˆ over the first “e.” The word comes from the Latin term crispus, which explains the flat, almost crisp texture. The crêpe actually originated in Brittany, in the northwest corner of France, where they still make sweet crêpes or galettes, which are filled with meats and cheeses.

In medieval times, peasants presented crêpes to their feudal lords as a demonstration of loyalty. In the Breton town of Quimper they actually have a museum celebrating the history of crêpes. It’s located (where else?) in Place au Beurre or Butter Square!” February 2 is considered National crêpe Day in France, and are served everywhere.

Source – Read more.

Though most crêpes are made with white flour you can also use a variation of buckwheat flour, which if used will make the crêpes gluten free.

Crêpes can be crisp created by using less mixture added or thicker and heavier with more than three scoops added. Our family enjoys it with 2 scoops of crêpes mixture which lends to a thin, softer crêpes and not too heavy. We have enjoyed them with breakfast with our home made maple syrup that we make on our land by tapping our own trees, and fruit. These “Sinful” treats are so good I once hosted a crêpes party where everyone brought a variety of fillings and with the crêpes let’s just say it was an evening never to forget of friendship, good food and fun! We had an egg & broccoli mixture, a main course meal that consisted of egg, bacon and ham, topped off with a dessert crêpe dusted with icing sugar. It was to die for! We used our own homemade maple syrup, chocolate, whipped cream and it was heaven! The ladies still talk about it to this day!

What was once considered a demonstration of loyalty has now become a demonstration of love for families around the world including ours which was created from a bond of two sisters, and the love for good food and great experiences. There are hundreds of recipes from around the world and you can find many on the source site above or any site that talks about Crêpes. The original base of the recipe can stay the same while the filler ingredients are what vary per household. Creating your own variation can be an adventure in the world of food. One that you will be glad you embarked on as our family has for over a century.

The love that goes into creating these masterpieces will tickle your taste buds and have you coming back for more. Enjoy!

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

“Sisterhood” Maple Rum Temptation Crêpes

Serves 4

Delicious Crêpes that can be used for dessert, breakfast or main course. This sinful treat comes with an impressive sauce.


3 eggs
1 1/3 cup (325 ml) of 2% milk
¾ cup (185 ml) of flour
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup (60 ml) butter melted
1 tsp vanilla


Mix 3 eggs with milk and 1 tsp of vanilla and set aside. Next mix in a large separate bowl, the flour & salt. Add egg mixture to the flour & salt and mix well with a whisk.

Once all ingredients are mixed without lumps, melt butter.

Add butter slowly to mixture beating continuously.

Grease pan (a pan the size of the crêpe you want) with oil or cooking spray.

Once heated use a large cooking spoon to put 2 scoops of crêpe mixture in pan so that crêpes are thin. Flip once and set aside. Best served warm.

Maple Rum Sauce:

½ cup Quality Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Whipping Cream
1/3 cup Butter
3 tablespoons Dark Rum

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan on medium. Heat and stir until butter is melted & mixture is boiling. Boil gently for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add rum and stir. Makes about 1 cup (250ml) of sauce.


Whipped Cream 
Fruit (see suggestions below)

Add fruit just prior to serving; bananas, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries to crêpes. Top with whipped cream and sauce.

Prep Time 20 Mins.


Darcelle Runciman is an internationally recognized Business Mentor, Facilitator, Speaker and co-author of the Canadian Best seller, The Power of Women United.

With over a decade as a successful entrepreneur running a multi-million dollar company, Darcelle’s expertise in business building & development, project management, real estate investment, corporate organization, marketing and teaming up with investors in joint venture partnerships, has allowed her to collaborate with high profile business coaches, government departments, and mentors.

She is now dedicated to coaching business owners to success though balancing their strengths, their spirit, and creating action, while increasing their profits. Find out more about Darcelle

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin Infinity Magazine

Update: I am proud to announce that Darcelle is launching Infinity Magazine, a new, exciting venture that I am very happy to be part of.

I hope you “Like” Cooking With Sin on Facebook

Follow me, Carla Johnson, on Twitter


“Takin’ the Piss” Crisper Sangria

Posted on: July 28th, 2010 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Balmy days, sweet sangria.
She’s been gone, have you seen her?
Señorita shyly turning away,
Leaving me our fading flame.” ~ Tori Amos “Sweet Sangria”

Carla’s note:

I’ll never forget the darkness in my sister Michelle’s voice when she told me her best friend Martin Poyser had suddenly died. The shock in her voice echoed the pain of having part of her heart torn away. Martin had filled a special place in her life and he could never be replaced.

Michelle and Martin were a marvellous two-some supporting each other’s ups and downs and always laughing boisterously through it all. Michelle always said that Gordon Ramsey, the “Hell’s Kitchen” chef, was remarkably similar to Martin. Their energy, passion, fiery tongues and British accents along with their physical similarities were uncanny.

The love they had for each other was more profound than a romantic love. Martin helped Michelle navigate the her new world of singleness after her separation, treating her to meals and pampering her any way he could. While Michelle appreciated the joy of Martin’s relationship with his partner Martin. Yes, two Martins! She called them “Big Martin” and “Little Martin” – because her Martin was taller than his partner. :)

Michelle gesturing at one of her gallery openings with “Little” Martin and “Big” Martin. (I am extremely proud of my sister and the vision she brings to her art.

You can see the sparkle & joy in all their eyes in the next beautiful photo below. They all knew how to have fun!


By Michelle Johnson

I answer the phone and an English accents calls out, “Get your dimply ass over here. The sangria is ready!” My heart fills with love. I put on my lipstick and dash out the door knowing that soon Martin’s cozy kitchen will be noisy with laughter and frivolity. Upon my arrival, someone announces, “The wife’s here!” It’s a label I earned due to my tendency to lean on him. The guest list could have filled a mansion so this party spills out onto the lawn, both front and back.

Martin is like an oak tree that allows all kinds of strange birds to perch on his branches. Lucky enough to be one of those birds, I’m greeted with a huge warm hug. Martin says, “Go on, Love. Serve yourself a tall glass. You gotta catch up – it’s in the crisper!” The nibbly food is out for munching, the BBQ is ready and the fridge is filled to capacity. I nudge my way over to the fridge. Grab a glass and slide open the crisper drawer. Oh, a beautiful array of colour awaits.  Scooping it out with the soup ladle the glass quickly cools my hand. One sip and I know it’s gonna be a fun and “oh so messy” evening.

Martin Poyser, a dear friend, a keeper of secrets, a partner in crime and expert when it comes to “Takin’ the piss.” He suddenly passed away a few years ago of a heart condition. Gone much too soon.

Martin taught me many things, mostly by example.

“Little” Martin, Michelle, “Big” Martin and their close friend Stephanie

Here’s one of the lessons I learned.

1. Invite everybody over to your house – trust me, it’ll be fine

2. Throw out your vegetables.

3. Clean your fridge crisper drawer so it gleams a welcoming shine.

4. Line the bottom with fruit  – raspberries, strawberries, oranges, pineapple, lemons, kiwis, blueberries, plum, grapes.

5. Add some spirit – cover the fruit with brandy or whiskey, add a splash of triple sec.

6. Let that sit for an hour or two… resist the urge to nibble or the guests will be hungry and you will be too tipsy to care.

7.  Add your favourite cheap and cheerful red wine to fill the crisper 2/3’s from the top.

8.  Add some sparkly water or lemony pop to add some fizz.

9.  If you are a bitter person, add sugar.

10.  Using a soup ladle, serve, toast, sip and … at every chance you get, lovingly “take the piss.”

“Stuck on Reduction” Grilled Watermelon Salad with Madeira Caramel

Posted on: July 18th, 2010 by Carla Johnson No Comments

 Five years before the Boston Tea Party, there was the “Madeira Wine Party.” A ship smuggling Madeira wine for John Hancock, one of the politicians who would eventually sign the Declaration of Independence, and it was seized by the British. A fight broke out. Hancock won and received his smuggled Madeira. This sent the precedent for the Boston Tea Party.

“He at first refus’d us peremptorily; but at dinner with his council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanc’d to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen.” ~ Ben Franklin, 1744, asking Governor Clinton of NY for more cannon power in Boston.

What gravy is to English cuisine, demi-glace is to French cuisine. French cuisine has a few select “Mother Sauces” that are the bases of all other sauces – Bechamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Tomato & Hollandaise.

Espagnole is the Mother Sauce for demi-glace. Demi-glace is basically beef stock reduced. The industry standard is 50% beef stock 50% sauce espagnol reduced by ½.

When Chef Tim Wasylko was in culinary school, the demi-glace classes piqued his interest. He was enthralled by what happens when liquids are reduced down. The liquids are evapourated and the flavours become concentrated, so he began experimenting by reducing all the liquids he encountered. He made adult snow cones from a reduction of blueberry juice and Cabernet wine. Then he made a port-wine caramel to put on ice cream.

Tim says, “Madeira port– all fortified sweet booze like that reduces down to a wonderful caramel — awesome on ice cream — or banana tempura split… Go get a bottle of Madeira — and reduce it down to a caramel — its life changing.”

Basil and Mint Marinated Watermelon Salad, with Goat Cheese, Young Asparagus and Madeira Caramel


Serves 4
½ medium sized seedless Watermelon
1 bunch mint
1 bunch basil
1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
12 pieces of asparagus, blanched and peeled
200g goat cheese.
1 bottle of Madeira

Pour bottle of Madeira in a large pot and place over moderate heat, bring to a boil – allow to boil hard for approximately 20 minutes or until it has reduced down to slightly less than a 1/4 cup. It should coat the back of a spoon and be nice and thick. Let it cool. Once cool, pour into a plastic squeeze bottle.

Cut watermelon innto 4 square shapes approximately 5 cm by 3 cm thick. Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime, and chopped basil. Toss and let rest one hour. Reserve the marinade. Place the watermelon pieces on a high BBQ grill for 1 minute per side. Allow to cool. 
Blanch the asparagus and cut in 7 cm long pieces. They should all be the same size. 

Shape goats cheese in rounds or rolls 2-3 cm in diameter. Cut into medallions.  

Assemble: Toss the asparagus in the marinade from the watermelon. Put 6 pieces of asparagus tight together – and perfectly lined up – down the centre of a plate. Then place the grilled watermelon on top of the asparagus in the opposite direction. Place 2 slices of goats cheese on top and make a zig zag design of the Madeira caramel in the squeeze bottle over top.  



Looking for more salad recipes? Try “Pork Ninjas” Salad Dressing

“Black Gold” Jamaican Rum Cake

Posted on: June 24th, 2010 by Carla Johnson 7 Comments

wray-nephew-cropThe word rum is probably derived from the word “rumbullion,” an archaic term for a big noise and/or uproar. Needless to say, this is a hard word to say when you’ve had a couple of rums, meaning the word was destined to be shortened. ~ Edmonton Journal

Adam Hewson’s mother Claudette would make up a large jar of “fruit” every year. He remembers it being a large 5L mason jar that he loved and admired. That jar of fruit was like gold to him. Claudette loved to cook all types of interesting foods and bake all kinds of delicious sweets. Her heritage was Jamaican and her rum cake was a very special treat, but she liked to try foods from all over the world.


It was in this world of wonderful foods that Adam was raised and he has carried on Claudette’s love of cooking. While he is usually quiet and easy-going, if you sit down and talk to him about cooking, he comes alive. He likes to use the freshest and most authentic ingredients. He shared more tips over a 1 hour lunch than I could have imagined. See the last post “Born to Cook” Cranberry Sauce to read more. On the rum theme, here are his tips on rum punch.

Did you know? Rum punch tastes better with a few grains of fresh ground pimento seeds. You may know it as allspice.

Did you know? There is a cute rhyme that helps you remember the recipe for rum punch.

Rum Punch Rhyme

1 of sour

2 of sweet

3 of strong &

4 of weak!

Try this! It makes 4 drinks.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup Grenadine (sugar syrup) or 60gms sugar
3/4 cup rum
1 cup fresh orange or pineapple juice

2 dashes Angostura Bitters will give it a nice edge. Stir well, add ice cubes & decorate with lime slices, maraschino cherries, umbrellas… you name it!

Did you know? The most popular rum in Jamaica for making Rum Cake is Wray & Nephew’s White Overproof Rum. For drinks, Adam prefers Appleton Estates Dark Rum. He says that cooking with Appleton Dark Rum would be a “sin.”

Did you know? It is called Rum Cake not Fruit Cake. Rum Cake has a totally different connotation, doesn’t it?! It is often called Black Cake too. If you burn the sugar it will darken the cake so it’s essentially a black colour.

Adam will make up a jar of fruit any time of the year. He may try to time it for Christmas, but he may leave it sit for a year or more. Once he had let a jar sit for 3 years and he knew he had gold on his hands. Just for fun he told his cousin, a professional chef, that he thought it might not be good anymore and was thinking of throwing it out. His cousin gulped and begged to take it off his hands. Adam smirked and wisely declined.

Right now, Adam has 5 1L jars of fruit at home. He mixed them up 6 months ago and hasn’t decided yet when he will use them. Some people will put some wine in too, but Adam says it’s best with the overproof rum alone. You can make a non-alcohol version of the cake with fruit juice, but you just can’t let it sit. It will be more like a fruit cake.

Adam’s Jamaican Rum Cakewray_and_nephew_white

Step One: The Fruit

1 cup raisins
½ cup prunes
½ cup currants
½ cup mixed fruit peel (orange, lemon & lime peel dried, available at bakery stores)
1 bottle Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum + some extra
Mason jars with lids (as many as you will need)

Adam’s Tip: Proportions are 2 ½ cups fruit to 1 cup rum.


1. Mix the fruit and add the rum.

2. Fill each jar close to the top, and give it a bit of a shake to make sure the fruit is all covered in the liquid. There should be a little room left at the top of each jar so you can turn them occasionally to stir the fruit. You may even want to turn the jars upside down for a while.

3. Let the fruit sit for 3 weeks to 3 years. It’s your choice!

4. The extra rum is needed over time. As the fruit absorbs the rum, you will need to add more more to keep the fruit covered.

Adam’s Tip: Pour the rum into the jars after the fruit is in to make sure the fruit is all covered in the liquid.

Step Two: The Cake


1 ½ lbs. brown sugar
½ lb flour
6 eggs
¼ teaspoon real vanilla
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking powder

1. Cream butter and sugar. Some people will burn* the sugar to make it dark. It’s great for colour, but doesn’t change the flavour.

2. Blend in eggs and vanilla

3. Add flour, sugar, spices, salt, pepper & baking powder mixing on medium speed.

4. Stir in Fruit by hand until consistent. May need to drain off some of the fruit juices before to get the a nice consistency. Save the extra juices to top up other fruit mixtures.

5. Bake in a spring pan (9”x4”) for 2 hours at 300F

6. Cool pan on a baking rack.

*How to burn the sugar: Put the sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan on low heat and stir constantly until the sugar melts and mixture is thick and dark. It’s up to you how much you want it to burn. Warm water can be added to make it into a syrup.

Jamaican Rum Cake can be served iced or plain with a brandy sauce drizzled over it, but Adam prefers to serve his plain. He feels the icing and sauce take away from the simplicity of the recipe and may dominate the key ingredient, the rum fruit.

It is distinctly smooth and rich. The cake can be stored wrapped at room temperature for a long time to let the rum ripen the flavours further. Some have been known to brush on more rum to richen it over time.


All fruits ripe!


I hope you “Like” Cooking With Sin on Facebook

Follow me, Carla Johnson, on Twitter


Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin