The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room
Our Favourite Recipes


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Entertaining Made Easy!

Simple Sauce...great meatball dish!

I know....grape jelly & chili sauce?!....sounds odd...but trust me, this sauce is everything you need to make a simple, hot, crowd pleasing favourite!
  • 1 jar...whatever size you like of Grape Jelly
  • 1 jar of Chili Sauce...the same size as the jar of grape jelly you are using.
Put jars of sauce and jelly in saucepan and cook over low heat until the jelly is completely melted.  Add meatballs, using either your favourite meatball recipe, or a couple of packages of frozen meatballs from your favourite grocery store (usually 144 in a package)... simmer for at least an hour, preferably 2... which will allow the sauce to stick to the meatballs and turn a beautiful mahogany colour.  If you like a bit of “heat” to go with your “sweet”...add a heaping tablespoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce while it is simmering!

You might want to double this one up if you are having lots of men at your party... the guys love this recipe!

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll Ups

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 8 oz. of smoked salmon
  • honey dijon mustard

Peel and cut the cucumbers in half, lengthwise.  With a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.  Cut cucumbers into 2” lengths.  Julienne these 2” lengths by cutting into 1/8” strips, flipping them over on their sides and cutting again in 1/8” strips making the cucumbers look like matchsticks.

Cut “ribbons” of smoked salmon in about 3/4” strips.  Cover the strips with honey-dijon mustard.  Using approximately 8 of the julienned cucumber bits, wrap the salmon around them in pinwheel style.  Place on platter, garnish with lemon and shredded lettuce.

Wondering what to do with the leftover pieces of smoked salmon?...

Chop up very fine, add to softened cream cheese (8 oz.), with 2 Tablespoons of 35% cream and 2 T. chopped dill, or green onion..or both...make sure they are chopped very fine.  Mix well, place in a piping bag, or a zip-lock bag, cut the bottom corner of the bag, making a 1/4” slice, and use as a piping bag to pipe onto cucumber slices or fill won ton cups.. garnish with either dill or very thin quarter slices of cucumber.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 oz. good quality chocolate, in very small pieces
  • ¾ C heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.

1.  Put cream in saucepan and bring just to a boil

2.  Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl with 2 T. butter

3.  Pour hot cream over chocolate, stir until melted.

Won Ton Tarts

These little “food containers” are easy to make and easier to store.  They will not go soggy, and can be stored in a plastic bag for several weeks.  Fill them with anything you find delicious! The smoked salmon-cream cheese mixture is a good choice, seeing as you have the mixture already!

In the veggie department...near where the tofu is usually kept, you will find won ton wrappers in a plastic bag... usually 2 sizes. Purchase the smaller size.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut 1/4” off of the stacks of wrappers on three sides.  Lightly oil a mini-muffin pan.  Place the wrappers on the muffin tin and poke in, making the edges form a ruffled edge.  Bake for approximately 12 minutes... check to make sure your edges don't get too brown.

Baked Brie

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Scrape the top of the brie removing the rind.

Place in a baking dish, preferably a size similar to the size of the cheese you have purchased (that is where actual brie bakers come in handy!)

There are many pre-packaged brie mixtures available on the market, or simply mix together your favourite dried fruits and nuts, a little brown sugar and cinnamon... whatever pleases your palate, place on top of the brie and bake covered for approx. 15 minutes. Serve with pita chips, grannysmith apples, sliced slightly toasted baguettes or crackers.

One of my favourites is to mix approx. 1/2 cup of brown sugar with a tiny smidge of cinammon, patting it over the brie (not too thick), sprinkle sliced almonds over the sugar and bake... serve with granny-smith apples or another tart apple.  It won't last long!

Greek Salad on a Stick

This “salad” type offering is very simple...very elegant, and very easy to make.

  • Good quality, large, black kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
  • Good quality feta cheese, purchased in a block.
  • Small Campari tomatoes
  • English Cucumbers
  • Olive oil, and a smidge of balsamic vinegar

The key the the great look and flavour of this appetizer is to have all of the elements about the same size, approximately 3/4” cubed chunks.  Start with the chunk of cucumber, then the olive, then the feta and finishing with the tomato.  

Hold the stack firmly, while placing the bamboo stick through all of the ingredients.  They should stand straight.  Place them on the serving platter, and drizzle with the oil. On the tray (white porcelain looks the nicest!) In approximately six spots, slowly pour about a tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.. then take a toothpick and drag out from the centre of the vinegar into little points to fancy it up a bit!  Garnish with thin halved lemon slices.

This is easy to put together, and easy to eat.  Make up your “chunks” ahead of time...that way you can quickly spear together more if needed... if not, you have the necessary “bits” to make a great Greek salad in the traditional style the next day.

Note: Fabulous large Kalamata olives, and the delicious Dodoni feta cheese can be purchased from The Greek Corner grocery and bakery on King Street at Grant Avenue in Hamilton.  633 King Street to be exact!... This fabulous store is a treasure, and filled with everything you could ever want to produce a wonderful Greek meal. 

The pastries are amazing! Olivia, George and their son are always happy to advise!

Cherylʼs Apertif Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 3/4 Cup large green pitted olives (pimentos add good colour and flavour) drained and dried on paper towel
  • 4 slices of cooked, chopped bacon (double smoked from Cumbraes...outstanding!)
  • 1/2 Cup of Gruyere cheese grated (Mickey McGuireʼs cheese shop has the best!)
  • 1/2 Cup of fresh grated parmesan...or if you like mix up your cheeses to equal 1 Cup total*
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped FRESH rosemary
Heat oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour a loaf pan. (4” x 8”)
Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bown and stir the pepper through.  Beat the eggs into the flour. Beat in the melted butter. Stir through the remaining ingredients to distribute evenly.  Spoon the batter into the pan and bake 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool slightly.

Remove from pan... slice and serve with drinks.

* Consider the fat content of the cheeses you use...if it is high...reduce the amount used, so as

the loaf is not too greasy.

Asparagus Tart

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry
  • ½ C sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon Dijon grainy mustard
  • ¾ cup med. Dice Black Forest Ham
  • ½ Cup onion…small dice, sautéed until translucent
  • 25 stalks of asparagus

1.   Preheat oven to 400 F
2.   Roll puff pastry on lightly floured surface to fit a rectangular baking sheet.
3.   Roll edges over, to make a ridge on all four sides
4.   Place in refrigerator.
5.   Puff pastry rectangle should be about 11 x 14
6.   Mix sour cream, mustard, salt, diced ham, and sautéed onions
7.   Remove pastry from refrigerator and spread mixture over inside surface.
8.   Brush edges with milk
9.   Bake for 25 minutes.
10. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and plunge 12 stalks of asparagus into the boiling salted water. Remove after 2 minutes (thickness may vary cooking time). With tongs remove the asparagus, and put into ice cold water. Repeat with remaining asparagus. Remove from the ice water, and dry thoroughly. Place in a dish and rub 1 T. olive oil over all ofthe stalks of asparagus.

When tart has cooled, cut asparagus in geometric designs to fit the inner portion of the tart. Run under broiler briefly before serving.

Roast Potatoes Slices with Lemon & Olives

  • 2 pounds medium size red or Yukon Golds, washed and sliced ¼” thick dry the slices with a paper towel
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced…remove seeds and ends
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F and put the rack in the center of the oven.  Oil the dish you will bake in…about 8 x 10 or oval casserole

2.  Mix together in a small bowl the parsley, garlic salt, pepper and olive oil.

3.  Put the potatoes in a large bowl, add the above mixture and toss to coat all the potatoes.

4.  Turn out the potatoes into your prepared casserole dish, don’t fuss too much because you will be turning them during cooking.    Put in the oven and turn the potatoes with a spatula every 20 minutes until most of the potatoes are crisp and golden and the lemon slices are somewhat carmelized.  This should take about an hour.

If you like olives, add the about 10 minutes before taking the dish out of the oven.  Enjoy!

Phyllis Barrows’ Chili ....with a Canadian Twist

About 30 years ago, an old friend...Phyllis Barrows passed this recipe on to me..however I’ve taken the liberty of adding a little bit of Canada’s love to it.

2 lbs. of ground beef
2 28 oz. cans of kidney beans (I like Stoke’s...they don’t mush down)
3 28 oz. cans of tomatoes
3 large, smashed cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes...or to taste if you like it really hot
1/4 Cup maple syrup
lots of ground black pepper

Brown the beef over medium to high heat. Add the cans of tomatoes, and the cans of red kidney beans (rinsed of course!)

Add the cumin, the oregano, the smashed garlic cloves and the red pepper flakes.

Bring to a near boil, watching carefully, so as it does not burn. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 3 ½ hours. After three hours, add the black pepper and salt to taste.

See...I told you it was easy!


Football Sandwich

1 loaf of crusty Italian Bread tapered at ends to resemble a football
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin slices
1 Tablespoon of cajun spice
1 large Spanish onion, chopped coarsely
8 slices of Black Forest Ham
6 slices of Provalone or other favourite cheese
2 large roasted red peppers (jarred are fine)
6 slices of prosciuto
1 avocado
1 Cup of California salad greens
2 Tablespoons of capers
Chopped olives...if you like them
½ Cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
if you have it...2 Tablespoons pesto or
1 teaspoon dried basil

To Build:

Cut loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Scoop out about ½ of the soft bread on the inside, to make room for the filling. Lightly butter and set aside uncovered.

To an oiled pan, add the coarsely chopped onions and saute until almost caramelised, about 12 minutes over medium- high heat. Remove from heat and let cool.

Saute chicken strips in a bit of olive oil, and add cajun seasoning just before it is fully cooked...about 10 minutes if thin....make sure the chicken is not pink. Remove from heat, and let cool.

While waiting for the onions and the chicken to cool, mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl, and spread about ½ on each side of the lightly buttered bread.

On one side of the bread, place slices of ham, followed by the cooled onions, then the chicken, the roasted red peppers, and then the cheese. Add the sliced prosciuto.

Place the other side of the bread on top and wrap very tightly in saran, and place in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 325 F. Remove the Saran. Re-wrap more loosely in aluminum foil, and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully remove the top of the bread and add the avocado, the salad greens and the capers. Replace the top of the bread, slice into at least 1" slices.

Messy...but yummy!