With barbeque season coming our way, I figured this recipe would be a good one to post now for your viewing pleasure. This is a burger that I came up with a couple months ago. I knew I was having burgers that particular night but I didn't to make the burgers my usual way. I saw some fresh ginger root in my fridge and thought I would spice up my burgers using that. The flavours of the sweet apple and the spicy ginger are a perfect combination. Another good thing about using ginger was that it took the "raw chicken" flavour out of the chicken. I always find that poultry has a way of tasting "raw" when it is underseasoned. Anyways, give this a try and invite your friends over for a terrific burger barbeque.

Makes 4-6 burgers

  • 1 lb lean ground chicken or turkey
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 medium firm apple (golden delicious or granny smith), peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tsps fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • Mozzarella cheese or Gouda cheese, sliced thin
  • burger buns, lightly toasted
  • lettuce leaves
  • tomato slices
Take a large bowl, add in the ground chicken, salt, pepper, sage, apple, fresh ginger, basil, mayo, and chopped onion. Mix all of the ingredients until just combined. Form 4-6 burgers and place them onto a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Place them into the fridge to firm up - for about 30 minutes.

If you plan on using your barbeque then skip this step. Preheat a large cast iron skillet, on medium high heat, and drizzle 1 tbsp of oil. Cook the burgers for a good 7-10 minutes per side. The cast iron skillet will give the burgers a good sear. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place the slices of cheese on top and let it melt. Place the burgers onto the buns and layer with a tomato slice, lettuce leaf and the usual burger condiments. I happen to love a bit of mango chutney on top of this.
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This recipe is a good one folks. You'll have the whole house smelling like cinnamon and I say what's better than that? My favourite part I have to say is the crunchy walnut topping, very yummy! Serve this with some nice earl grey tea.

Adapted from the "Orange-Pistachio-Glazed Spiced Muffins" recipe in the "Food & Drink" Magazine (Spring 2011 edition)

Makes one 9" square cake

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Baking time: 40 minutes


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp each: cinnamon, baking powder

1/2 tsp each: baking soda, salt, and nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup plain yogurt (I used the full fat variety)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

2 tbsps granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly grease or line with parchment paper the square baking pan. Place it aside for now.

2. In a medium bowl, add in the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Make sure to whisk it through to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar, oil, and eggs.

3. Stir the flour mixture into the the bowl with the wet mixture until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Take the chopped walnuts and sprinkle it all over the top of the cake, and do the same with the 2 tbsps of granulated sugar. Using your clean hands, lightly pat the walnuts into the batter.

4. Place the cake into the oven and let it bake for a good 40 minutes or until the cake has set. Poke it through using a toothpick and if the toothpick comes out clean you know the cake is done. Cool the cake completely and cut into desired pieces, then eat!

Cook's tip: If you want the topping to stay crisp the cake is best eaten the day that it's made. It still tastes great the next day but for me this cake is all about the yummy walnut topping.

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Gee, it's been so long since I've done this regularly, I almost forgot to keep this up! But, my legions of fans - all two of you - demand that I write, so I do! Naw, I actually do enjoy writing, in fact I thought I'd make a career out of it in journalism, so I took journalism in university; for all of four days.

Anyway! This isn't This is Your Life, this is Wine Not!, and I continue with another instalment of Thomas' Terrific Tested Tipples ("Quadruple T"), and my buddy from work hit another great wine with this lovely gem from Spain, called Hécula (kinda reminds you of that awesome cartoon from the 1960's called "Hercules," does it not? Olympiaaaaaa!).

My friends over at LCBO.com notes that this wine originates from an "up-and-coming" wine region in Spain, Yecla. Where is Yecla? Beats the "yec"k out of me! (Honestly, it actually looks like southeast Spain, and the website of the wine's maker - Bodegas Castano - has 500ha of land to grow grapes over four large estates - ole?)

And, for the record, "monastrell" is the grape variety used to make this baby, used to make dark, full-alchy wines, and which apparently is an international variety (meaning it's used world-wide) and was introduced to Spain in about 500 BC. Who knew! (Wikipedia knew!)

Ole! Wine time! First, I chilled this baby for 15 mins., and then after removing the natural cork, it pours a dark, ruby red colour. My George, if I didn't know better, I'd swear this was a red wine! (Aside: my apologies for no pic of the actual wine, I must have drank it all over the few days and forgot to take one. Womp womp. Shows just how good it was!)

The nose of this wine has scents of rich cherry, maybe raspberry (I can't tell, being well an amateur and all...); it's dark, with medium strength...it isn't weak! I quite enjoy full flavoured wines, in every aspect, be it taste or odor.

But the ultimate pleasure is in the taste of course dear reader, with scents and looks just being side attractions to the main event! A little zingy (zing!), this wine has strong tastes of fruit, with a medium body despite being 14% alchy - I always like a nice, full bodied wine that doesn't taste like one necessarily - if that makes any sense! Deep cherry, and perhaps, perhaps slight coffee or chocolate also feature. It's all very nice, whose flavours balance the dryness very well with rich, medium/full flavours. The aftertaste comes through with more cherry and "grapiness."

As noted, my buddy came through again with a great recommendation. Nice nose, nice depth of flavour and with an easy going nature, this one will be great on any dinner table, and is a wonderful wine at a wonderful price. My friend the back of the bottle recommends pairing it with red meats, stews and blue fish...but hey, I like to drink it just on its own!


***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$13.95 (US$14.59) (check out that exchange rate again baby, wooo!).

From LCBO.com:


LCBO/Vintages #718999

Wine, Red Wine

14.0% Alchol/Vol.

Sugar Content: XD

Made in: Spain

By: Bodegas Castano
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Here is a pasta dish that I made using orecchiette, which means "little ears" in Italian. I feel this is quite an under used pasta and I wanted to do a recipe showcasing this wonderful small quick cooking pasta. This pasta dish has nice smokey ham and tender-crisp broccoli; packed full of flavour and packed full of nutrients. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on top and you have a light spring dinner ready in minutes.

Serves 2 generously


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 tbsp chicken stock

3 anchovy fillets

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small red onion, chopped

4 thin slices of ham, chopped

1 small zucchini, diced

1 orange bell pepper, diced into 1" pieces

1 head broccoli, florets only

1 tbsp vegetable blend seasoning mix

coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup of pasta cooking water (save a bit more just in case)

2 cups orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente

2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped

Parmesan cheese, grated (to serve)

1. Preheat a medium sized shallow pot on medium high heat, drizzle the olive oil and add in the chicken stock, anchovies, minced garlic, red onion, and ham. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is a bit translucent.

2. Add in the diced zucchini, orange pepper and broccoli florets. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp. Make sure to season with the veggie seasoning, salt and pepper.

3. Add in the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan. Quickly add in the cooked orecchiette pasta, and the chopped parsley. Toss it using a wooden spoon. Turn the heat off and serve immediately. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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