Category Archives: HM Kitchen

Recipes, tips and experiments from our very own kitchen.

Jam Buns: Mom’s Baking

Our house growing up was a hectic place during my teen years. Both my sister and I played competitive ringette for teams in different divisions, and both my parents were involved on the coaching staff and or served with regional and provincial boards for the sport. Weekends were often spent on a big diesel bus and in a hotel room. My dad always said “You haven’t lived until you’ve had french fries and coffee at 7 am in a cold arena.” Of course that was back in the good old days when arenas served chip-wagon-quality fries. It was rare that we all shared a sit-down dinner together during the winter months anyways. Dinner was often on the hoof and from our local take-out joint. I remember those days with great fondness.

Rob’s home was alien to me. His stay-at-home mom had baking and snacks ready after school. Dinner involved sitting down at a table set with napkins! The meal was served from pretty dishes on the table, not from the pot on the stove. And dessert! Dessert was an everyday event, not just a company thing as it was in my home.

I would not have traded the hectic life of a competitive ringette family for anything, but I did enjoy a dinner invite into the serenity of the Rose household. And did I mention they had dessert EVERY day? One of the first memorable desserts I enjoyed there was jam buns. These buns were a simple dough rolled out, cut into squares, placed in muffin tins and filled with strawberry jam. You can fancy the buns up by using an upscale preserve instead of strawberry jam and serve with some lightly sweetened whipping cream.

The original recipe from Rob’s mother’s recipe scrapbook.

First, a couple of fact-checks for Maureen’s memories: we didn’t have after-school snacks. My Mom just thought Maureen was THAT special. And Mom baked more often than rarely and more rarely than often. But we DID have dessert at every meal and served from bowls on the table. Most times, dessert was very simple — ice cream, store-bought jelly roll, or pudding. But sometimes, usually in the summer, we had wonderful pies and maybe once or twice a year we’d have these jam buns.

…just out of the oven.
Pastry roll made with dough scraps

Jam buns. It’s what my mom called them, maybe due to a poor French-to-English translation. They were poorly named in any event, as they were tarts, made with a rich shortbread crust that weren’t “bun-like” at all. The jam part was accurate, though. She always used whatever cheap jam we had in the house, usually the store-brand strawberry or raspberry jam that was 70% pectin by volume. But it didn’t matter. Maureen might say that it would be an option to fancy these up with good preserves or fresh fruit, but THAT WOULD BE WRONG. It would be a terrible violation of childhood memories and a violation of the spirit of these depression-era treats. Mom would always take the leftover crust, roll it out, spread it with jam and roll it up, cut into pieces and bake them last as impromptu pastry rolls.

Okay. true confession time. I must have been 4 or 5 years old and Mom had made these jam buns for dessert. It was mid-afternoon, and Mom had made some of these earlier in the day and they were sitting out on the kitchen counter, already cooled with a dollop of whipped cream on each one. In a moment of weakness and INCREDIBLE lack of foresight, I decided to steal one. As I was stuffing the last of the tart into my face, I heard Mom’s voice behind me, saying, “What are you doing?”. I played it cool and tried my best to conceal my chipmunk cheeks full of tart and turned to face her hoping she wouldn’t notice that I probably had jam and whipped cream from chin to forehead. I didn’t have to say anything, and she grabbed me by the forearm, brought me over to the kitchen garbage can and forced me to spit it all out. And then, that night at dinner time, Mom announced that I wouldn’t be having any dessert because I had already had a tart during the day, which accomplished two things. First, she saved me some embarrassment by implying that permission was involved, so that was good. The second thing, which directly set off the alarms in my 5-year old sense of “fairness” – which in a multi-child household is the law of the land that keeps the peace, is that I didn’t get dessert AND I was made to spit out the one I stole. Somehow I was down a jam bun in the deal. And it’s stupid, but that sticks with me.

Maureen said I could have an extra one of these, so all is right with the world.

Jam Buns
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup lard
mix in as pie dough (not much direction here. I cut the lard in to chunks and then used my fingers to mix the dough.)

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Jam, pie filling, or preserves
Whipping cream (optional)

Roll out to 14 inch thick.

Cut into squares, put in muffin tin, drop in one tsp. jam or filling.

Bake at 450 degrees till light brown.

Note: I found the dough to be very sticky. I placed it on a floured surface, incorporated about 1/4 cup more flour, rolled it into a ball, placed in a saran covered bowl, and chilled it. The dough worked perfectly after this step.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.

Classic French Onion Soup

Growing up in the seventies we didn’t eat out often, but when we did French onion soup was usually on the menu, especially in finer establishments. At home, my dad would make it for company. I guess that’s why I view this very rustic soup as elegant and special. It was also memorable because my dad would prepare my bowl with extra cheese and forgo the bread because I didn’t like mushy bread.  Now older and wiser, I have learned to appreciate the crusty baguette soaking in the rich, beefy broth.

Essential ingredients

I haven’t had onion soup in a very long time. Restaurants rarely feature it any more and when they do it’s usually a salty commercial concoction that I find disappointing. I was going through an old family recipe book the other day looking for some comfort food when I spotted my dad’s nearly 40 year old recipe. Paired with a crisp salad or a warm winter roasted tomato salad and a soft zinfandel, it is a perfect mid-winter pick me up meal.

This recipe is classic, simple, and delicious. Rustic yet over the top elegant when flambéed, it is true comfort food.

Cognac makes it better.



Dad found this recipe he recalls, in either a magazine advert or brochure for OXO flavour cubes. It contains a secret ingredient: instant coffee granules. The coffee lends a rich, beefy quality but remains unidentifiable in the final dish. Dad tweaked the recipe a little with some booze, and since I’ve never had it any other way than the way he prepares it, the tweaks are no longer listed as optional.

Dad’s Classic French Onion Soup
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup butter
5 cups boiling water
1 cup Dubonnet (sherry or Marsala can be substituted)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. instant coffee
4 slices toasted or stale baguette
Mozzarella cheese, sliced to cover top of dish (gruyere can be substituted)
Parmesan, grated to sprinkle over top
4 tbsp brandy or cognac

Saute onions in butter until tender. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in two cups of the boiling water. Add the bouillon, remaining water, Dubonnet, pepper and coffee to the onions. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle into individual oven proof bowls. Place a slice of baguette on top of each bowl. Cover with a thick layer of mozzarella. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place under the broiler for one minute. Remove from oven. Pour a tablespoon of brandy over each bowl and flambe. This last step is both an elegant presentation but necessary as the brandy adds a bite and another essential layer of complexity to the final flavour of the soup.

Serves four

Click HERE to download the recipe.
















Moroccan Chicken

“Cheecken and froooot????” screeched our little Natasha as she peeked into my bubbling casserole dish hot out of the oven. Natasha is what is commonly known in North America as a Chernobyl child. Born one month to the day of the nuclear disaster, she was at risk for a variety of health problems and she and many of her young compatriots were shipped to other nations to host families for a summer of fresh air and and uncontaminated food. Natasha ended up being our guest and family member for seven summers in total.

I made this family favorite a few years in to her annual visits. Where Natasha lives in Chausy, Belarus, spices consist of salt and pepper, meat is scarce and vegetables are grown at home and don’t vary from what you could grow in an Ottawa summer. “Meat and fruit…no!” she informed me in a semi-wondrous, wide-eyed state. This dish soon became one of her favorites. Luckily after one summer with the Rose family she was very open minded and indeed adventurous.


Natasha, 8 years old
Natasha, all grown up!









This Moroccan themed dish was inspired by a recipe published in Canadian Living Magazine many years ago. It is a hearty stew that satisfies in cold weather but we serve it year round. Classic spices in the marinade, like ginger, cumin, and thyme, combine with garlic and olive oil to give the chicken and fruit complex flavours with no heat and a mellow sweet. It should be marinated overnight to let the flavours blend, but can be thrown together in a pinch and is still awesome. Prep takes very little time, but it needs an hour and ten minutes in the oven. We dish it up over couscous but rice is also a great way to sop up the sauce.

Chicken with Apricots, Olives, and Figs

– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
– 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 ts ginger powder
– Salt
– Pepper
– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3/4 cup green olives, sliced
– 3/4 cup dried apricots
– 3/4 cup dried figs
– 4 Chicken breasts cut in chunks
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1/4 cu orange juice
– Couscous for serving on

In a large plastic freezer bag, combine garlic, thyme, cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper to taste, vinegar, oil, olives, apricots, and figs. Add chicken. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally. 2. Transfer chicken and marinade to a covered casserole dish. Combine sugar and orange juice. Sprinkle over mixture. Cover and bake at 325℉ for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake, basting frequently, for 40 -50 minutes until chicken is tender. 3. Serve over couscous.
SOURCE: Canadian Living

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.


























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