The long one’s are mild and the short one’s are hot!
Remember the group of neighbours with whom we share a progressive dinner from time to time? Well, we’ve had two such dinners since my last post about them, one was at the cottage of one of the neighbours and the other was just a couple of weeks ago back in the city. The one at the cottage had a European theme and because we had it at the cottage, we left it pretty loose for interpretation and it was fantastic! We were in charge of the hors d’œuvres and appetizers and because it was held dock-side we did an antipasto platter with lots of meat, cheese and roasted vegetables. We snacked on them for a few hours while the Bœuff Bourguignon simmered in the kitchen. For dessert, the other neighbour had the most incredible S’mores with belgian chocolate bars and decadent chocolate chip cookies (instead of graham crackers) by the fire pit. We slipped in dessert just before the skies opened and the rain poured and poured!
The most recent progressive dinner had Latin America as the theme and boy did it ROCK! We started with Cassava and cheese fritters, delicious empanadas and of course, nachos with guacamole and salsa. JT and I had the main and we went all out. I wanted Argentinian because I just love how they adore their meat! I made home-made Argentine Chorizo, we grilled steaks AND ribs! (OK, I confess, I just really wanted to make sausage and that’s why I picked this platter!) We also roasted small yellow potatoes (we were going to have Fried Papas Criollas but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it) and stir-fried a variety of coloured peppers; I even caramelized some onions in case someone wanted to eat Choripan (chorizo in french bread with caramelized onions and peppers) and of course we had Chimichurri sauce (both hot and not!). We had WAY too much food and now we’re enjoying variations of this feast for lunches, dinners and snacks! Dessert was a very tasty and refreshing lime ice cream.
The Argentine Chorizo sausage recipe is slightly different than other Latin American recipes in that it contains nutmeg; it’s not a lot but it does give it a slightly different flavour. I used this recipe with some minor alterations. What I didn’t skimp on was the garlic, it seems like a lot, but it’s not and it’s totally worth it! I made a sweet version and a hot version (sweet was longer and hot were the short ones) and I think both went over excellent. Even though I did use some pork belly, it was still a little dry but more than a couple of people said they preferred it to a greasy sausage. I know I will experiment with other flavours in the near future (like spinach, chicken and feta for example!)
We grilled steaks, ribs and home-made sausages!
It was a meat-lovers heaven.
Makes about 6 mild Chorizo (15 cm or 6″ long) and about 10 hot Chorizo (8 cm or 3″ long)
- 1 cup red wine (we used this wine)
- 1 entire head of garlic
- 5 whole cloves, crushed
- hog casings
- 1.1 g of pork
- 400 g of beef
- 150 g pork belly
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp (heaping) nutmeg
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp hot chilli pepper flakes (reserve for hot portion)
- On low heat, gently boil the wine with the whole head of garlic and crushed garlic for 15 to 20 minutes and allow to cool. Strain and reserve the liquid (discard the garlic) should be about 1/2-3/4 cup.
- Cut the pork, beef and pork belly into small cubes and pass through the meat grinder set on coarse grind. Mix meat with hands until well blended.
- Pour the cooled wine over meat mixture and mix thoroughly. Combine all of the spices together with the exception of the hot chilli pepper flakes and sprinkle over meat mixture. Add the finely chopped garlic and mix into meat well. Divide the meat into two equal portions and set one portion aside. Over the second portion, sprinkle the hot chilli pepper flakes and mix well with hands. Refrigerate both hot and mild sausage meats overnight to allow flavours to develope and mature.
- Prepare your sausage casing by rinsing in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Any unused portions may be resalted with seasalt and frozen for future use.
- Untangle a reasonable portion of the casing and feed it onto the sausage stuffer attachment, tie a knot at the end. Then in small portions, slowly feed the meat mixture through the sausage stuffer into the casing making sure that it’s relatively evenly filled (it should really fill on its own). Tie off the other end and twist into portion sizes. Poke a lot of small holes throughout the sausage to allow any air bubbles to dissipate (this step will also prevent the sausage from bursting open when grilling). Allow the sausage rest in the refrigerator uncovered for 2- 3 days before cooking or freezing. Once the casing has time to dry out, you should be able to cut the sausages into individual pieces without unravelling the casing.
- Grill on a charcoal grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 71° C or 160° F. Serve hot off the grill with french stick and mustard.
This is the natural casing. Someone on-line said it smelled really bad, but I couldn’t bring myself to smell it.
The meat fills into the casing relatively easily. In fact, you hardly need to help it.
This is a really long sausage.
This is the sausage twisted into portions. I made two sizes so I could easily tell which one was hot. As the sausage dries in the fridge, the twisted ends will also dry out and be strong enough to cut through without it unravelling..
- Whenever I grind meat, I always prepare a medium-sized bowl which I submerged in an ice bath to ensure the meat remains cool as I work it through the grinder. My hands are always cold, so I don’t worry about mixing the meat but if your hands are hot, you may wish to use a wooden spoon.
- To gage how much casing you’ll need, just tell the butcher how much meat you have, I had about 2 kg (4.4 lb) and he portioned out the casings which ended up to be about 2X too much. He suggested I could salt it and freeze it for next time. Casing are not expensive.
Posted in Beef, Meat, Pork | Tagged chorizopan, delicious, home made sausage, latin themed progressive dinner | 24 Comments »
Remember my dear friend Angela invited me to a taping of the Canadian lifestyle show called Steven & Chris about a month ago? Well, she kindly invited me to another one in October and you’ll never guess who the special guest was! Jamie Oliver! He is as friendly and charming as you would imagine. They had a little question session during the show and my friend Angela had an on-camera question about how he balances his family life with such a busy schedule and his answer was quite surprising; he gave all the credit to the three ladies who manage his life and he even went as far as to say that he just shows up where-ever he is supposed to be! He is very humble but cheeky at the same time. Someone asked how long it takes him to write a cookbook and he said he reserves a year to do it during which he does nothing else. We were thoroughly entertained and as a super bonus, we received his new cookbook Jamie’s Comfort Food as a gift!
Jamie Oliver clowning around. Who would have thought that I’d be working in that very kitchen a few weeks later?
Here are a few pics of our very cool time watching the show being taped at the CBC building downtown. By the way, my food styling segment will air Thursday, November 20th at 2pm on CBC.
Jamie made a stuffed bun recipe from the book and he handed out samples to a few lucky people~
Getting ready for the questions.
A sneaky camera man was looking at a woman’s phone as she was texting during a break.
A Review of Jamie’s Comfort Food. Scrumptious, Happy, Classics:
The book is a beautiful collection of 115 world-wide comfort foods with Jamie’s usual fresh spin on it. It’s a hard-cover, perfect bound book, wrapped in orange fabric with lay flat binding which doesn’t exactly lay flat. The fabric may not have been the best choice for a cookbook. The recipes are divided into slightly less obvious chapters, such as Nostalgia, Good Mood Foods and Ritual to name a few, but the index at the end is alphabetical and it is easy to find what you are looking for. The recipes are traditionally laid out with the instructions in sentence form. I left my cookbook on the dining table to avoid getting it messy in the kitchen and it was difficult to keep track of where I left off in the instructions, I prefer numbered instructions. I found an error in the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe where three ingredients were listed as part of the marinade but half should have been reserved for the sauce (which was listed separately). Usually ingredients listed that are used in two preparations in a recipe are listed as “xxx, divided”. It won’t stop me from making a few other recipes, but I’ll be sure to proofread first. A real bonus of this book is that every recipe shows the calorie count per serving and at the end of the book, each one has nutritional facts for Calories, Fat, Saturated Fats, Carbs and Sugar so that you may make informed decisions when deciding to make a recipe. This book is definitely gift-worthy and for $37.99 Canadian is quite reasonable considering every recipe has at least one beautiful photo but more like a few. As well, there are a few lovely family photos and some of Jamie cooking dispersed throughout the book, so it’s fun to flip through while sipping on a glass of wine, even if you don’t intend to make anything from it.
During our cottage closing weekend in early October, I took the cookbook and all the ingredients and to make Jamie’s Chicken Tikka Masala! What a dish, full of flavour and all of those warm, comforting spices you would associate with Indian cuisine. JT heard Jamie in a CBC interview saying that Chicken Tikka Masala is now rivaling Fish and Chips as the most popular food in Britain right now. It’s no wonder, this Chicken Tikka Masala totally rocks and I urge you to make it. The nutritional facts for this recipe read a little worse than I prefer at 415 calories, 21 g of fat, 10.8 of which are saturated per serving, so I modified the recipe to make it a wee bit healthier, for the real deal, please click here or purchase Jamie’s book.
I made the dish again at home, it was equally as good the second time around!
Chicken Tikka Masala
Ingredients for the marinade:
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp each, sweet paprika, smoked paprika and garam masala (see recipe below)
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 6 cloves of garlic, grated finely
- 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 each red and green chilies thickly sliced
- 800 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Directions for the marinade:
- Heat the dry spices in a frying pan until you can smell them. Put into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Combine all of the ingredient up to and including the yogurt. Mix well.
- Cut the chicken breasts into similarly sized chunks about 2-3 cm (1 inch) cubbed.
- Rub the marinade into the chicken cubes and then string them onto a meat skewer alternating themwith a thickly sliced chili. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.
- Remove excess marinade and reserve in the refrigerator. Grill chicken until nice and “golden and gnarly on all sides”*
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 2 sweet onions, sliced thinly
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup of cilantro stalks, chopped finely (reserve leaves for garnish)
- 1 tsp each, sweet paprika, smoked paprika and garam masala (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
- 500 mL chopped tomatoes (canned is fine, I used San Marino)
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk (or 2 tbsp coconut milk powder and 1/2 cup water)
- Remainder of the marinade after you have cooked the chicken.
Directions for the Sauce:
- Dissolve the bouillon cube in about 1 cup of boiling water.
- In a small splash of olive oil or cooking spray, cook the onions until translucent. Add the garlic, the dry spices and stir until you can smell them then add the ground almonds and toast lightly. Add the cilantro stalks and cook for a few minutes. Add the dissolved bouillon cube and coconut milk and cook for a further 20 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend this smooth then add the chopped tomatoes and the left over marinade and simmer for 20 more minutes.
- Serve with home-made Naan or Basmati rice.
WARNING: You’d best portion this dish out for left-overs before serving because you won’t be able to stop eating. It’s that good!
- 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground mace
Directions for the Garam Masala:
- When ready to use in a recipe, heat a large heavy bottomed, unoiled skillet, heat combined spices until fragrant. Allow to cool before use. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Left overs are delicious spread onto a fajita shell and dotted with bocconcini cheese, topped with another fajita shell and grilled like a quesadilla. Serve with a cucumber mint raita.
- Although there seems to be a lot of garlic, it’s not overly garlicy, so definitely don’t skimp.
This is the cottage version of the dish. Very tasty indeed.
Here we go, bad winter lighting.[/caption
*from the cookbook
Posted in Recipes | Tagged comfort food, curry, delicious, indian food, jamie oliver | 45 Comments »
I have a fatalistic attitude about life, everything happens for a reason, it’s not luck, it was meant to happen that way. During the Second World War in Budapest, my grandmother, Mom and Mom’s older sister were going to spend a lazy Sunday morning at home instead of going to church, when at the last minute, my grandmother decided that they would go and they scrambled out the door. Hours later they returned to find that their apartment building had been levelled by a bomb and they were spared. Fate: just not their time. During that same war, my grandmother had made arrangements to take the girls by train to the countryside to visit her sisters. They were all packed, on their way and just as they approached the platform my grandmother stopped in her tracks and announced that they would not go and they turned back to their apartment. Later that day that train was also a casualty of the war and everyone parished. Fate: again it just wasn’t their time.
Years ago, my little brother begged and begged my parents to get a Citizen Band Radio, they finally relented my brother set up his ‘base’. I dabbled with it from time to time and I ended up speaking to a lovely young man who’s handle was Blue Magic. Yup, you guessed it, that was JT. Fate: we were meant to meet and be together.
Do you remember that about a month or so ago my dear friend Angela (the lovely lady who puts on those fab themed dinner parties) invited me to a Steven & Chris show? Well, last week I actually worked, food styled for that very show! Yes indeed! (do you see it? It’s Fate). It’s for an upcoming show so I’ll link to it when it airs. I cooked sticky Asian spiced sticky ribs, twice baked stuffed potatoes and some chocolate squares. I also got to meet Steven & Chris! Steven actually recognized me from when I was I in the audience! Can you believe it? They tape two shows per day with about 100 people in the audience for each show! He gave me a big hug. It was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to tell you that the guys are sweet and kind, the crew is professional, courteous and super friendly. I left my cards all around so I’m hoping I’ll be called again.
A few months ago, my niece Laura passed the Bar and became a lawyer, the first in our family! We are all so proud of her. We invited them (Laura and beau) over for a celebration dinner and she asked that I cook WW friendly. Dessert can be challenging so when I saw Sissi’s fabulous plum tart recipe, I knew it was going to be the celebration dessert. Plus, I was able to get wonderful blue plums at a Farmers Market on the way home from the cottage (you see that that is fate too, didn’t you?). Thank you Sissi, I served it with sweetened Greek yogurt and it was delicious and beautiful too.
Makes 1 tart about 20 cm or 8 inches in diametre.
These are delicious locally grown plums.
- 450 g blue plums
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp oatmeal
- 3 Phyllo pastry sheets
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds
- Preheat the oven to 170°C or 350°F
- Prepare a small 20 cm or 8 inch spring form pan by placing a circle of parchment on the bottom that comes up over the sides. Brush parchment with olive oil. Set aside.
- Cut each plum in half and remove the stone. Continue until all the plums are done.
- Lay all three phyllo sheets in front of you. Brush the top one with the melted butter. Fold in each corner into the centre and then fold in between each corner to make a circle.Repeat brushing and folding the other two sheets around the first one.
- Lay the phyllo bundle into the bottom of the spring form pan so the sides come up about 2.5cm or 1 inch. It should be crinkly, it’s prettier that way.
- Sprinkle half of the sugar and the oatmeal on the pastry bottom. Begin to lay the plums in a circular fashion. When complete, sprinkle with remain sugar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until plums a fork tender. If the sides are baking too quickly, cover sides with foil.
- Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top.
The pastry crisps up very nicely.
It’s quite a lovely treat.
- I added the oatmeal to help absorb any liquid the plums might release during baking.
- As Sissi mentioned, you may increase or decrease the sugar to your taste.
- This tart would be gorgeous using any stone fruit like nectarines or even sliced peaches.
- I’m excited to try a savoury version next.
Posted in Desserts, Recipes, Weight Watchers Recipes | 45 Comments »
My friend, airline pilot David from the UK (Fine Dining at Home) recently posted a recipe for no knead focaccia, and I was immediately smitten (with the recipe, of course!) We’ve been making no knead bread for ever (here, here and here) and no knead pizza dough (here) but we’ve never made no knead focaccia. My focaccias have been traditional recipes that make a sponge first and then a separate dough, time consuming and complicated, albeit delicious. So when I read David’s recipe and saw the quality of his sponge and crumb (he kindly emailed me a photo) I was intrigued. Fast forward and we’re at the cottage waiting for friends to arrive and JT says “do we have a starch with dinner tonight?” OK, you must be able to read my mind by now, because I did go over the menu with him and at NO TIME did he ask that question whilst we were in the city with all the grocery stores. Please recall that we have limited resources once we leave the city. But I do stock my cottage pantry with flour and yeast so I immediately thought of dear David’s No Knead Focaccia recipe but sadly I did not have a scale and I only had All Purpose flour and 1 packet yeast, so I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe with some minor alterations. I am very pleased with the result and I urge you to try it, it’s actually quite lovely.
No Knead Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia
Makes one slab about 8″x12″
Please click here for original recipe.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp milk powder
- 2 tbsp each, finely chopped rosemary and thyme
- Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray or EVOO and drizzle an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of EVOO on the bottom.
- Combine all of the ingredients and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until entirely combined. The dough should appear loose and shaggy.
- Allow to rest in a warm dark place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
- When doubled, pour the dough into your prepared pan and spread it out as evenly as you can. Let rest 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. After dough has rested, bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly before slicing into it.
Posted in Bread | 44 Comments »
For a luncheon one weekend at the cottage, I served the Empanadas because I wanted something reasonably fast as we were leaving to get back to the city. While the Empanadas were warming in the oven, I put this simple, yet tasty salad together. The salad really should have been entitled The Kitchen Sink Salad because in all honesty I was just trying to use up some ingredients we had left on our cottage weekend. It’s a delightful combination of salty, sweet and peppery. If you don’t like feta, add some crispy fried bacon. But don’t leave out the watermelon or avocado!
Watermelon, Avocado and Feta Salad
- 1 cup cubed watermelon
- 2 ounces feta
- 1 avocado, cubed
- a handful or two of arugula and spinach mix
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- t tsp Dijon mustard
- Combine all of the ingredients to the arugula mix.
- In a small glass jar, combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and Dijon and shake vigorously to combine.
- Toss salad just before serving.
A really tasty lunch.
Posted in Recipes, Salad | Tagged arugula, Avocado, empanada, feta, lunch, Salad, watermelon | 19 Comments »
I forgot to take powdered sugar to the cottage to decorate the top.
It’s not what you think. At the very least, it’s not the crack that Toronto has become famous for (didn’t you know?). It’s the other crack that Chef David Chang and Christina Tosi’s Milkbar in NYC that has this crack elevated to the highest of honors, it’s Crack Pie. If you have never heard of Crack Pie, it’s a decadent combination of butter, sugars (brown and white), eggs and oats. It’s incredibly rich and moreish. But I warn you, a slice of this pie will cost you dearly (and I’m not even going to talk about the $44 price tag for whole pie sold at Milkbar in NYC). Is it worth it? The calories and the time to make it? I’ll let you be the judge. If you ask me if I’ll make it again, I’m going to say probably not. It’s not that it wasn’t good, that it was, but there are a lot of other desserts that are equally as good without being as caloric (Bon Appetite’s recipe details the nutritional facts as: 1 slice (a pie serves 12 people) 350.8 Calories, 53.8 g Fat (21.0 g Saturated Fat)). Some of my dear readers will swoon over this recipe and some will be appalled because it’s not something that generally fits into this blog. To those who are appalled I apologize, it’s not often I make something so outlandishly bad for you. To those who swoon, tread lightly, it is as dangerous as the illegal kind (crack, that is!)
I cannot take credit for this pie on my radar because it was my dear fellow blogger Lorraine, over at Not Quite Nigella who introduced me to it in June last year. It was part of the Daring Bakers Challenge (I do not participate) but I saw it pop up all over the place in the blogs I follow. I filed this recipe in a spot I file many recipes that are not as healthy, most likely never to be made, but we were at a fund raiser for one of the Photographer’s wives who was doing a hike to Machu Picchu to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness and one of the food stylists made Crack Pie (she made it in a slab and cut it into tiny squares). I knew I had to try it. JT loved it, so when we had my nephew over for dinner in late August, I took the plunge and made it.
If I had to describe this pie, it’s like a decadent blondie.
Momofuku’s Crack Pie
Makes 1 pie about 25 cm diameter
Ingredients for Oat Cookie Crust:
- 9 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature, divided (6 & 3 tbsp)
- 5 1/2 tbsp packed light brown sugar, divided (4 & 1½ tbsp)
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
Directions for oatmeal cookie crust:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Line a 13″ x 9″ sheet with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Using a mixer, beat 6 tbsp butter with 4 tbsp brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add the egg and beat again until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Fold in the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until well blended.
- Turn out the oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan or close enough.
- Bake until lightly golden about 18 minutes.
- Lift parchment with cookie onto a wire rack and cool completely, about an hour.
- Once cool, crumble the cookie into a large bowl and add the remaining 3 tbsp (45 gm) butter and 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar and mix well until the mixture is moist and will stick together when pressed between your fingers (think graham cracker crust).
- Pour the cookie crust mixture to a 25 cm spring-form pan and press into the bottom and sides using your fingers and/or anything that will press it firmly. Set aside.
Ingredients for filling:
Directions for filling:
- Preheat to 350° F (180° C). Spray a 25 cm spring-form pan with baking spray.
- Whisk sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and add melted butter and whisk until blended.
- Add the cream, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
- Pour the filling into the crust.
- Bake for 30 minutes (filling might bubble up) then reduce oven temperature to 325° F (160°C) and continue to bake until filling is golden on top and set around edges (20 minutes longer).
- Cool pie completely on a wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Carefully glide a knife around the edges to loosen and remove the sides of the spring-form pan and slide the sides off. Position on a serving plate.
- Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges. Serve cold with a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream.
Would you like some crack with that?
Posted in Cakes, Desserts, Recipes | Tagged blondie, caramel, decadent, Dessert, momofuku, pie, sugary | 31 Comments »
Many years ago my family lived in an apartment building on the second floor and my parents became friends with the couple across the hall who had three kids. They were from Chile and the husband/dad worked for Motorola and was transferred to Canada (I believe he was an electrical engineer but I can’t be sure because I was only 8). The kids were, Edward, Malu and Christina; my brother fell in love with Christina (the youngest) and asked for her hand in marriage – they were 6 years old. Edward was my age but we were never interested in each other, after all, he was a creepy boy and I was certain he had couties! Malu was a year younger than I and we became friends. We were family friends for several years…7 or 8 I believe, and one day we came home to find that they had moved out without a single word or forwarding address. We haven’t seen them since. How weird is that? Have you ever had such a strange experience?
My dear Mom was always ready to try anything and when the opportunity arose, she would arrange to swap dinners with her Chilean friend. Mom also did that with an Indian friend and a Jamaican friend! This was our introduction to the family love of food. My Mom’s Chilean friend made us Empanadas which are a South American meat patty, often changed up from country to country by the spices added and the type of meat used. Last year when we were in D.C., we had Empanadas at a great little Spanish restaurant and they put their own twist into this delicious patty…they added soft cheese! Boy was it good. It was deep fried and the casing was soft and crispy and the centre filled with wonderfully spiced ground meat and a delicious soft cheese. When I realized that in my 7 years of blogging, I have never posted an Empanada recipe I decided that it was darn time! Shame on me because they are so easy to make and freeze very well. Pop a couple into the oven or microwave and you’ve got a delightful snack or appetizer or light lunch.
A couple of weeks ago, our lovely neighbours invited us for a tapas cocktail afternoon and she made a version of Empanada that got my attention (with chorizo) but for this recipe I shall post my dear Mom’s traditional Chilean friend version for the filling. To be honest, I never really liked Mom’s recipe for the pastry so I made my neighbours pastry recipe instead and I think it’s pretty darn perfect. The pastry is a cross between bread dough and pie crust; the exterior is firm but the texture when you bite into it has some elasticity so the patty doesn’t fall apart. This time I made small one-bite sized patties and a slightly larger 3-4 bite luncheon patties. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
It’s an optical illusion, the front ones are about half the size of the back ones!
Makes about 48 mini 5cm (2 inch) Empanadas AND 32 larger 15 cm (3.5 inch)
- 1 kg ground meat (could be mixed veal with pork and beef)
- 5 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped black olives
- 1 cup of golden raisins
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
- Salt to taste (but be careful because the olives are quite salty)
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch pieces)
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven. Cook onions until soft.
- Add the spices and heat until you can JUST smell them.
- Braise the meat until completely cooked, add the raisins. and the chopped black olives.
- Allow to cool completely before filling dough.
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs beaten with about 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sesame seeds for garnish
- Pre heat oven to 350°F.
- Combine all dough ingredients until it forms a soft dough (kitchenaid is fine).
- Roll out dough to about 1mm thick (I used the #3 setting on my pasta maker) and cut with a round cookie cutter (small 1 bite size should be no larger than 5 cm or 2 inches and larger luncheon versions should be about 15 cm or 3.5 inches).
- Brush some of the egg wash all around the edge of each circle. Into the centre of each dough circle, add about 1‐2 tbsp meat mixture, making sure you have some raisins and olives in each circle. Add one square of cheese per round.
- Fold dough over filling so it is a crescent and seal the edges.
- Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each crescent top with the egg wash for shine and sprinkle with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm and enjoy withabitofjamorcompote.
They are pretty darn tasty.
- These freeze very well, just pop them into a zip-lock baggy and freeze, use one at a time or as needed.
- The recipe may be successfully halved or quartered.
- If you don’t like black olives, leave them out, same with raisins but you will miss the salty and sweet combination.
- We used fresh mozzarella because we could not find Manchego cheese. Regular mozzarella may be too hard so I would avoid it.
- In hindsight, the cheese almost completely melted out of the empanada, so next time I doubt I’ll add it.
They make a perfect lunch or light snack.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes, Snacks, Tapas | Tagged Chilean, hors d'oeuvres, meat, patties | 38 Comments »
This past weekend was unseasonably cold at the lake.
A very dear friend of mine invited me to a taping of a daytime lifestyle show called Steven & Chris last week. It was their first show of their eighth season so it was very special, that’s a long time to be on a show and what’s even more impressive is that they’ve been life partners for 22 years! My friend has been a long-time fan of the show and has been to several tapings over the years so we got the VIP treatment; we were the first to be ushered into the studio and first to be seated (front row, no less). It was truly an action packed show of which I’ll share the details after it airs, but I will share a few pics.
This is an HD camera.
Our very energetic Audience Coordinators.They knew my friend by name!
An ussie. Yes, it’s a new word.
Steven is the handsome devil on the left and Chris is the cutie-pie on the right.
Chef Michael Smith is a special guest (centre)
My dear friend invited me to another taping on September 30 when the special guest is a World Famous Chef! But I can’t say who just yet! I’m so excited. Thanks so much Angela, I really appreciate that you chose me for these exciting events!
A caramelized, baked onion in a bed of beef stock and a Gruyere tuille
Deconstructed French Onion Soup
- 4 ordinary cooking onions
- 3 cups beef stock
- a few stems of fresh tarragon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Please refer to this recipe on baking the onions and proceed to step 4.
- Lower the oven temperature to 250° F (121° C), add the beef stock, bay leaf and tarragon stems and cover the dutch oven with a lid or foil. Continue to bake for 2-3 hours or until the onions are extremely soft.
- To make the tuille, line a baking sheet with parchment. Turn oven to broil, high heat. Pile 4 evenly spread circles of the grated Gruyere onto the baking sheet, about 5 cm or 2 inches apart. Broil on high until cheese is completely melted and begins to colour. Watch carefully as the cheese will burn very quickly. Remove from heat and place the parchment with cheese tuilles on a cooling rack and cool completely. When cooled, gently remove the tuille and set aside.
- Discard the bay leaf. Remove onions from the beef stock and cut into the skins in quarters to reveal the soft centre. Remove the inedible onion skin. Place cut onions into the centre of a pretty bowl and ladle in a little stock. Garnish with the Gruyere tuille and the baked tarragon stems.
It tastes just like French onion soup.
I just can’t get enough of these tasty baked onions!
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups | Tagged bay leaf, cbc, French, gruyère, Onions, Soup, Steven & Chris show, tarragon, television show, tuille | 40 Comments »
A nice thick soup to help keep ourselves cool over the summer.
Recently we had a half a watermelon left over from a weekend and I needed some space in the fridge for a styling gig so I had to do something with the watermelon, pronto! Summer was still in full swing so something cool and refreshing was on my mind. I’ve been seeing a lot of almond milk on the blog-o-sphere so I thought I’d like to get in on the band wagon and incorporate it into this soup. The almond meal adds some lovely texture and a subtle almond flavour, so I beefed it up with a small splash of pure almond essence. The yogurt make it very creamy and the basil and mint flavourings are just subtle background flavours. A sophisticated soup for a warm cottage evening.
This soup has body.
Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho Scented with Almond, Basil and Mint
Serves 4 as appetizers
- 1.5 kg water melon
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 tsp pure almond essence
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- 1 tsp chopped mint
- Salt to taste
- Chop watermelon into a large bowl, add the almond flour, essence, yogurt and herbs. Blend until very smooth. Set aside in the fridge for 2-4 hours so the almond flour has time to absorb some liquid and thicken the soup.
- Blend again and press through a fine sieve. Serve chilled garnished with pomegranate seeds or more mint.
A brighter Watermelon Gazpacho can be found here.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegetarian | Tagged basil, chilled soup, watermelon | 29 Comments »
September ALREADY? WTF? Where on earth did this summer go? Good luck to all the mini humans going back to school!
I thought I’d share a little info about a food photo shoot that some of you may not know. It’s actually quite amazing at how many people this industry employs — so next time you see a food commercial, ad or packaging with a food photo, consider this (I’ve really simplified this complex process):
A designer designs the packaging or advertising prior to the photo shoot. There are many layers in the design phase and several people involved but it boils down to the art director and client who dictates the look and feel of the photo. The Food Stylist is involved in the design phase if there needs to be special ‘recipes’ or plating requirements (like I was involved in coming up with 8-10 ideas for the products we were shooting last week).
Once a design is established, the Art Director creates a “Pre-Pro” which details the props and “recipes” that will be photographed. The “Pre-Pro” is approved by the client and distributed to:
- The Prop Stylist (this person is an expert in props, where to find them, rent them or buy them). A prop is anything that may be used in the photo, such as fabric, plates, noise (background items that are out of focus) and cutlery. Props are generally reserved for the photograph and not used in the preparation of the food. Depending on the photo shoot complexity, the Prop Stylist may be required to stay on set to select the exact props to be used in each shot. If they don’t stay, the Art Director makes that decision.
- The Food Stylist (this person is an expert in food, how to get the best out of food so that the consumer recognizes instantly the message the Art Director and client wishes to convey). The food stylist buys the components to make the ‘recipe’ happen. Contrasting colours and textures are paramount. The Food Stylist may have an assistant depending on the complexity and budget of the shoot.
- The Photographer (this person is the expert in photography, understands light whether natural or man-made and even how to make man-made light look natural because they have more control over it). The photographer will prepare the lighting set up required to execute the art director’s wishes. The Photographer may have an assistant depending on the complexity and budget of the shoot. And sometimes the Photographer brings a tasty breakfast.
- The Client: The Boss. The client knows the intricacies of the product and what they feel is important to convey in the photo. The client approves the shot before we move on to the next one. Sometimes the client is off site, but that adds a layer of time to the shoot and we all know that food generally doesn’t last long on set. Things dry out, melt and don’t look appealing. We always prefer the client to be on set.
Shoot day starts early and is busy from the get-go. Photographer, Prop Stylist and Food Stylist are usually the first to arrive. There is a lot of shlepping, but it’s generally a very generous group and everyone helps get everything organized. Of course, the behind the scenes studio team sets everything in motion the day before, food, snacks, coffee/tea, water are all provided generally — the one thing for sure, there is ALWAYS A LOT of food!
Once everything and everyone is set up, we begin to work getting things ready for the first shot (as a Food Stylist, I also keep in mind all of the shots for that day to see if I can consolidate any tasks that will save a bit of time in the long run). The Art Director I recently worked with enjoys shooting with natural light, but that can be challenging since natural light changes all the time so the photographer is constantly tweaking the settings and extra lighting to make the shot perfect.
In terms of food styling, there are many tricks of the trade and the stylists I’ve worked with have been incredibly generous with their advice, but as with anything else, I still have a lot to learn. Apparently, wearing comfortable shoes is something I haven’t learned…but I am trying ;-). I have a couple of pairs of stylish yet comfortable shoes but I still gravitate to stylish over comfort. One of these days, I’ll learn, it’s generally a very long day where the only time I sit is for about 30 minutes at lunch!
So I hope you’ve gained a little appreciation for the energy, people and time involved for food photography; after all, that strawberry on the front of the cereal package was carefully chosen over hundreds of strawberries, deliberated over (with such phrases as “it’s not doing it for me”, or “is it just me..,?”, and “do you see a face in that?”) intentionally placed and oiled for shine and to catch a little sparkle! Who knew?
A delicious combination of flavours.
Recently we had my GF BFF and her hubby for brunch and I wanted to serve something that just screamed SUMMER! And for me, there is nothing that screams summer than a Caprese Salad. We searched for a local farmers market but sadly missed the boat because we were too late getting there so I was stuck with grocery store tomatoes. I bought the best, vine ripened variety but was still disappointed. They lacked that great, summer tomato flavour. So I decided to oven roast them to concentrate the flavours and we were not disappointed!
Caprese Salad with a Twist
- Alternately layer the sliced Bufala Mozzarella with the tomatoes on a plate.
- Combine the home made pesto with the white balsamic until a drizzle-able consistency is achieved. Drizzle over the tomatoes and mozzarella. Serve at room temperature.
A nice, summer salad.
- I would not substitute sun-dried tomatoes for oven dried tomatoes because they are much stronger in flavour and will over power the subtle flavour of the bufala mozzarella.
- Bocconcini may be substituted for the Bufala Mozzarella but it is a harder cheese with a slightly stronger flavour.
- Burrata cheese is a beautiful substitute but you wouldn’t want to cut it because all that delicious cream will pour out. Serve a small Burrata and surround it with the tomato slices and drizzle the pesto over everything.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Cheese, Food Styling and Recipe Testing, Gluten Free, Salad, Vegetarian | Tagged bufala mozzarella, Salad, summer flavours, tomato | 26 Comments »
Thank you all for your generous and kind comments, I may just take you up on your lovely offers to be my assistant!
Last week we went out for dinner in our hood to Bloom, a really great restaurant serving what they call “Nuevo Latino Cuisine”. Every second Thursday they feature live jazz musicians and as luck would have it, we usually choose the off Thursday, as was the case last week. There is nothing I enjoy more than live music during dinner, particularly in a venue whose patrons appreciate the talent and don’t make noise over the performance, so to say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. But our evening ended up being even more exciting than I expected because as soon as we walked in I noticed a gentleman with an uncanny resemblance to Tiggy from the remarkably successful HBO series called Sons of Anarchy (I bin-watched all six seasons in a very short month)! As soon as we were seated we googled the show and it turns out that it WAS Kim Coates from the famous show! Imagine my excitement. I’m fairly conservative about approaching famous people so I was not about to intrude on his dinner. We had a lovely meal (which I will review next time we go when I don’t forget to take photos) as did Kim Coates and I persevered not to disturb him. Unfortunately the table next to our’s heard me ask the waiter if he was indeed Kim Coates and they approached him for photos. He was extremely generous and kind and took several photos and chatted with them. JT decided it was our turn (he doesn’t watch the show but knows how much I enjoy it) and Kim very kindly came over to our table for photos and a chat. He is Canadian (born in Saskatoon) and is an actual rider (coincidentally one of the few of the cast who didn’t need to be taught how to ride a hog!) It was very exciting and I was instantly taken back at his generosity with his precious personal time. I do, however regret not apologizing to his dinner partner for usurping his guest. So that’s my brush with fame in Bloor West Village.
For those of you in “The Know” that’s a photo of Tiggy and I!
Onto the recipe. Today I’m sharing not so much a recipe but more of a serving suggestion for Ontario Peaches (of course, you may use any old peaches, but we’re pretty pumped here in Ontario because Peaches are in season right now)! We’ve grilled them for a little contrast in hot and cold and of course, texture. Plus it looks and sounds cool! The Ricotta is delicately flavoured with some lemon zest, a little icing sugar and a pinch of pure vanilla extract (though, not enough to discolour it). I made it for my GF BFF and she said it reminded her of German Cheese Cake! I left the peach skin on and it softened up beautifully with the grilling. The dish was sweet enough, but I wanted a little pizzaz for plating so I made a simple caramel sauce and I toasted a few walnuts and coated them with some Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar that my dear friend Kristy (from Eat, Play, Love, Our Family Food Adventures) gave me last year when we met in Toronto. All in all, the dish is a winner and will be served again this summer before the peaches are out of season.
This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.
Grilled Ontario Peaches with Lightly Sweetened, Lemon-zest Scented Ricotta
An original Kitcheninspirations recipe
- 4 ripe peaches
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 250 mL ricotta cheese
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- Caramel Sauce
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 1 tbsp chocolate balsamic vinegar
- finely sliced mint
- Heat grill to 450°F. Cut peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay face up on a baking sheet and sprinkle gently with cinnamon (you may also bake the peaches at 450°F for about 10-15 minutes or try broiling them, but I have not experimented with this). Grill cut side first for about 2-4 minutes and flip for another minute or so. Set aside.
- Combine ricotta cheese with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix well. Taste and adjust as required.
- Serve 1-2 peach halves per plate. Cut peaches into thin-ish slices and lay in a semi-circle on the plate. Add a quenelle or scoop of the ricotta in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, finely sliced mint and walnuts. Serve immediately.
Can you just taste them?
A wonderful combination of flavours.
Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Cheese, Cool Stuff, Desserts, Gluten Free, Recipes | Tagged caramel, delicious, food styling, grilled, in season, peaches, summer dessert, walnuts, what happens on a photo shoot | 29 Comments »
Hello everyone, I trust you are all well. Personally, I am absolutely in shock that it’s the second week of August! Where did this summer go?
A little house keeping: I hope you don’t mind, due to time constraints, I haven’t been replying to all of the comments you so generously leave on my blog but rest assured, I read every single one of them — sometimes more than once!
I’m finally taking part in a series put on by a blogger I’ve known about for quite some time…Celi from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial . I’ve followed this series “In my kitchen” with intrigue on many of my fellow blogs but I’ve never had much to talk about until now…you see, as I mentioned last week, I recently had my first real styling gig for an entire week! So there were many things “In my kitchen“. For this project, I had to venture into the centre aisles to make meal combos even easier for the busy "Mom". I also had to do a little shopping so that I have all the right tools (you really had to twist my arm for that one!). Indeed, the car was packed! Generally, photo studios provide only the basics, some spatulas, wooden spoons, some cookware, but if you need anything specific, you’d best bring it yourself! Needless to say, there is A LOT of shlepping.
I had to buy a lot of new tools, bowls are always very handy to store items, to mix in, etc, I bought about 10 in various sizes, two of each size.. It was like Christmas morning for me!
These are the tools for grilling. I had to buy the electric BBQ lighter (the other items are from my personal kitchen), it makes really good grill marks if the cast iron pan doesn’t do the trick.
Even though “Mom” might use frozen vegetables to make the meal prep quicker, we always use fresh and we make it look similar to the frozen cut. Fresh always has better colour than frozen.
We had to clear out two shelves for the photo shoot groceries and I even had stuff in the freezer! Fresh herbs are best stored in a plastic bag with air in them.
This is my work space at the studio. The cup of coffee is the most important thing on this work bench!
This is the other workspace at the studio. I wash up between product shots to keep the kitchen clutter-free. Boy do I wish I had an assistant.
Posted in Food Styling and Recipe Testing | Tagged food styling, In my kitchen | 22 Comments »
It’s like a globe of caramelized deliciousness.
I’ve been having so much fun and yes, it’s work and it’s wonderful. I even have a real styling gig booked and I’m super excited about it…5-6 solid days. It’ll be grueling because we’re shooting around 50 shots in a week! I’ve already practiced some of the dishes to make sure the day goes smoothly. It’s for a line-up of proteins for home meal replacements using 9 fully cooked products in 4-5 applications each. I had to come up with the usage suggestions based on the client’s parameters (I actually had to come up with 10 each – 90 in total and from the 10, they selected 4-5 that I’m making during that week). It was fun but challenging in coming up with the ideas because I didn’t want just ordinary options. They all had to be relatively easy to put together, few ingredients that “Mom” would have easy access to and meals that come together in less than 30 minutes because “Mom” is super busy.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of photos that although I was assisting, the wonderful stylist allowed me to style entirely on my own. They were published this past spring by Viva Magazine Online.
Rustic Breakfast Pizza
These were incredibly delicious.
This is a pdf of the Foodfeature_viva_spring2014, we did all the food in this issue. I cooked most of it and the food stylist plated it, the only one I had next to nothing to do with was the duck confit. The photographer is Arash Moallemi, please click here to see his work.
I don’t often get the pleasure of watching specialty cable channels like Food Network Canada because we cancelled our cable service 2 years ago and now use a digital antenna. I could go on line to watch, but many of these channels now put advertising into the shows and you are unable to fast forward like the old VCRs and I no longer have the patience to watch it through. About 2 weeks ago, I was at someone’s house with cable TV and we watched Laura Calder’s French Food at Home. She made a few recipes that I would consider ‘keepers’ but this one really stood out for me so I made it at the cottage as a light lunch and rest assured I will be making this beautiful dish again and again. Next time, it’ll be an appetizer for a dinner party. I hope you enjoy it, it infuses the house with a gorgeous fragrance as it bakes and because it bakes on such a low setting, it won’t warm up your house in the middle of the summer. I hope you enjoy it too. Please click here for the original recipe because I made some alterations.
Baked Onions with Dijon Tarragon Vinaigrette
Makes 4 whole onions, serves 4.
4 ordinary cooking onions
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil from roasting the onions
1 tsp finely chopped tarragon
- Good grind each of pepper and sea salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
- Add 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a small Dutch oven.
- Remove only the exterior skin of each onion and cut the stem side flat. You want some skin left on the onion for presentation. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Nestle the onions into the olive oil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes at 425 F.
- Lower the oven temperature to 250F and cover the dutch oven with a lid or foil. Continue to bake for 2-3 hours or until the onion is extremely soft.
- Combine the white wine vinegar, mayo, Dijon mustard and olive oil and whisk well. Stir in the chopped tarragon and a good grinding of salt and pepper.
- Spoon a little bit of the baked olive oil in the centre of a plate. Put each onion on top of the baked olive oil.
- Cut the onion skins in about 4 places and peel back to reveal the creamy goodness. Drizzle the tarragon dressing over each serving.
- Serve warm with Crostini or just as is and wait for the accolades!
The onion breaks down and becomes wonderfully soft and sweet.
We were at the lake when I made them.
- Laura cautioned against using olive oil because she didn’t want the flavour to over power the delicate sweetness of the onion, I did not find that it did.
- Laura placed her onions on little piles of sea salt, I didn’t have any so I did not employ that method.
- Laura used a raw egg in her dressing, I used a tablespoon of mayo instead.
- The baked olive oil is packed with flavour so save the left overs to make a very yummy salad dressing.
- An additional serving suggestion is to serve it with a Gruyère crisp but I didn’t have Gruyère at the lake.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes, Salad, Sauces, Snacks, Vegetable Sides, Vegetarian | 30 Comments »
Happy Holiday Monday! Today is a Civic holiday in Ontario and we’re enjoying ourselves at the cottage. Do you get a holiday today?
This molasses rich bread goes very well with a strong blue cheese like English Stilton.
Many years ago, when JT and I were first dating we had a party at his apartment; it was the first party we threw together as a couple. By now, you all know how much JT loves themes and that party, so early on in our relationship was no different…we had to have a theme. We rambled on a number of different options like a Pajama Party, a Western Party, a Halloween dress up party and even a formal party but all were nixed because the party was being held at JTs apartment and he had final say. He wanted fun, informal and something we could tie music and food into (yes, we were heavily into food in those days too). You must be thinking, “Get on with it woman”. OK, so the theme we landed on was “Let’s Get Physical” (remember this?). So we had the theme, the music and we based our foods on the healthier side of things. I even designed an invitation for that party and it was all hand lettered because there were no graphic computers in households in those days, each invitation created from scratch. We invited about 15 friends and some brought dates while others didn’t but we all dressed up in our workout costumes (think 20-minute workout for me, big hair too!). It was great fun and I knew we would have more like them in the future.
As I mentioned, the food was on the healthier side with veggies and yogurt dip, some cheeses, some crackers and this unusual Boston Brown Bread. The recipe is originally from Jean Paré’s Muffins and More, published by Company’s Coming Publishing Ltd, 1983 but as you would expect, I have altered it. The unique thing about this no-yeast bread is that it is steamed and not baked and while you can steam it in cleaned out soup tins, I steamed mine is my long narrow Le Creuset terrine pan.
Boston Brown Bread
Makes 1 large loaf 4″ x 12-2/3″ or 3 smallish tins
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup Molasses
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- In a large pot that can hold your tins or baking pan, add enough water to come up about 2″ high on the tin or pans and heat to a gentle boil. Add a rack to the bottom so that the tins or pan isn’t sitting directly on the flame.
- Grease your baking tins or baking pans well. Grease a piece of foil large enough to fit over the top and sides of the tins or baking pan.
- In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
- Whisk to combine the wet ingredients and pour into the centre of the well in the flour mixture. Stir until moistened, batter will be lumpy.
- Pour into the baking pan or tins and cover with foil, greased side down. Secure sides of foil so that the bread steams within. Add hot water to the large pan as needed to keep it at the same level.
- Steam for 2-3 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean. (my long narrow terrine pan took about 3 hours and I baked it an additional 15 minutes on 325°F).
Posted in Bread, Recipes | Tagged boston brown bread, molasses bread | 27 Comments »
A cracker that’s flavoured delicately with olive oil, rosemary and lemon thyme.
Inspiration to bake comes from so many different places, at least it does for me. Case in point: I was on the streetcar returning home from my weekly status meeting with the marketing company when I pulled out my phone to check up on what’s going on in the world of Facebook. The very first story I see is a recipe for crackers from one of our favourite Food Network Canada’s celebrity chefs, Laura Calder (French food at home). You already know how I love to bake my own crackers so this post hit all the right buttons and I knew right away I wanted to make it. The recipe uses fennel seeds and JT is not a huge fan of fennel, so I improvised and replaced the fennel seeds with chopped rosemary. What can I say? They are light, crispy, delicate crackers that (wait for it) taste as if they were deep fried but they are NOT! The recipe came together so easily (I used my food processor to make the pastry-like dough) and they baked up rather quickly. I made mine long triangles but you can really do any old shape; I rather liked that they weren’t uniform and quite rustic. I changed the name of the crackers because mine had a distinct Olive Oil flavour. Definitely making these again.
Olive Oil, Rosemary and Lemon Thyme Crackers
(Please click here to see Laura’s original recipe)
Makes about 24 crackers, but it depends on what size you cut them.
- 1 cup (125 g) flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- A good grinding of mixed pepper corns
- 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) non-fat yoghurt
- 1 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Using the metal blades in your food processor, add all the ingredients and pulse until entirely combined and the dough resembles small pea-like chunks. Don’t over mix because we don’t want the butter to melt.
- Turn out onto a piece of lightly floured parchment and roll out to about 1 mm (1/8″) thick. You will need to flour both sides as this dough is rather sticky.
- Cut into shapes using a pizza wheel and a kitchen ruler. (I cut triangles that were around 13cm x 5cm (5″ x 2″)
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they begin to get a golden tone. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Store in an air tight container.
- Serve with your favourite dip or cheese.
They are strong enough to hold dip.
I used a lovely peppery Olive Oil (the one that our neighbour Tom’s father bottles from Greece).
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Bread | Tagged Crackers, rosemary, thyme | 29 Comments »
A crispy unfried chip
Did I just hear you loudly gasp an incredulous “WHAT?” Yes indeed dear reader, that post title is correct and the unthinkable has happened: potato chips (or crisps, depending on which side of the pond you reside) that are not deep fried. And they are delicious!
I first saw vegetable chips on my friend Kelly’s blog over at Inspired Edibles, she’s a Dietician who posts incredible and tasty recipes. Kelly’s chips were gorgeous but sadly mine did not work out, perhaps they were just too thick and they shrunk so much I hardly had a chip left, so we didn’t pursue them. And then almost rubbing salt in the wound, Charles over at Five Euro Foods made a wonderful batch here. I thought all had been lost but recently I was at a Winners (TJ-Max for our American brothers and sisters) and spotted this cool gizmo for less than $10, so I got it thinking it would make great chips…
The first batch turned out OK but the chips stuck together (couldn’t be helped because of the size of the device); then it got a bit worse which only made it a challenge to figure out how I could get perfectly unfried chips just like the photos on the package. And after about an hour of experimentation it got a lot worse: my microwave shut down…for good. Yup, I killed it! In all fairness it was older than most of my lovely readers so it owed me nothing, but my $6.99 potato chip maker now ended up costing a whopping $145! Don’t you hate it when that happens? Lesson learned. Or maybe not.
Fast forward a week later we purchased our third microwave of our lives and I’m back at it making chips to take to the cottage (no mw up there). This time I let the microwave sit between ‘bakings’ to cool down. The result? Perfectly unfried potato chips.
Note about the Joie Healthy-Microwave Potato Chip Cooker: I purchased this product after reading a few reviews I instantly googled on my iPhone. Even though it was only $6.99 I hate throwing money away and the google reviews were not bad, in fact they were more good than bad so I decided to purchase it. I should have realized that I was simply trying to justify the purchase and we all know that you can literally justify any purchase you want to make (logical or not) and so my new found wisdom I must tell you it’s just not worth it!
Here is my complete review: It comes in 4 pieces, a bowl, a mandolin top, a hand protector and a cooking rack; it’s plastic but reasonably well made. You remove the cooking rack and replace the mandolin top to make the cutter. The mandolin does cut thinner slices than my regular mandolin (you really need less than 0.5 mm or 1/16″ thick) but there is a design flaw in that the blade is too close to the edge and the slices end up cramming at one end (solution: open and remove potato slices frequently). All in all you really don’t need this gizmo, just a super thin slicer and some paper towel!
Deliciously thin and crispy. They even look like they’ve been deep fried. But they haven’t!
Unfried Potato Chips (Crisps)
5-6 people, allowing about 1/2 potato per serving
- 3 good size white or red skin potatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- very cold water for rinsing
- Wash potatoes skins well. Set aside a bowl of very cold water. Working on 1 potato at a time, cut 1 potato in half and using a wafer thin mandolin slicer, slice from the cut end of each potato tossing the cut slices into the cold water bath.
- Rinse the potato slices until the water runs clean. Dry in a salad spinner or on a one in a single layer on a clean linen cloth (allow to sit for 15 minutes if you have time).
- You may spray with some good quality EVOO or leave them plain like I did. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Lay two layers of clean, unprinted paper towel in the microwave and layer potato slices on the paper towel so they do not touch each other. Microwave on 100% for 3 minutes or until some get a bit of colour. Open the microwave door and allow the hot humid air at escape for 1-2 minutes (and the machine to cool down). Then cook for an additional minute on high, watching carefully as they burn quite easily. I found the slices I placed in the centre of the turntable cooked faster than the outside slices so I moved my larger slices into the centre. The slices will continue to cook a little after you finish cooking them so don’t worry if they are a wee bit wobbly, but they shouldn’t be overly wobbly.
- Remove from paper towel and cool completely before putting into an air-tight container. Repeat slicing, rinsing, drying and cooking until all slices are used up.
- When totally cool, store chips in a air tight container.
- Serve with your favourite home made dip.
Chip tower down. Mayday. Mayday.
- We bought the Panasonic NNST652W Mid-Size Inverter® Microwave Oven from Walmart for $119 (white because it sits in a cupboard so I didn’t care if it was stainless ($179)).
- Microwave ovens cook food by exciting water and sugar molecules within the food with high frequency electromagnetic waves. The only power setting on a microwave is high, therefore to achieve lower settings the microwave pulses these waves intermittently. That’s why the power setting is described as a percentage and not a temperature; 50% means it’s pulsing 50% of the full pulse rate! An Inverter Modulates the power so it delivers a steady stream of power at the percentage required, thereby being able to cook food more evenly. If you want to read a good article on our microwave, click here
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged chips, crisps, healthier, potato, snacks | 26 Comments »
Recently we were invited to a “slider” party. The invitation pictured one of those garden slides that you soak with the garden hose and take a running leap onto it and slide all the way down. But it wasn’t a party like that. We’re talking food sliders! You know, the tiny little sandwiches or burgers that you generally have a few of. The BBQ was hosted by that Titanic, Black and White and Bond party couple and it was the same five couples. Each couple was charged with bringing their own favourite slider for dinner. Yep, that meant we all ate five (FIVE) mini burgers! But it was great fun.
I figured there would be a good selection of burgers (chicken, turkey and beef) so I wanted something a wee bit different; I made our Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork (previously posted here) with a celeriac, fennel and cabbage slaw. I was inspired by my friend Sissi over at With a Glass when she presented us with her own version of a fennel slaw with an ouzo mayonnaise, but sadly I happened to mention my intentions to JT and he gave me that look; you see, he likes fennel and he likes ouzo but felt that the two together might be a little too strong. I begged to differ but some things are not worth arguing about, so I kept the fennel and made a new dressing for it. It was a tasty slaw and it went very well with the pulled pork. I omitted the mayonnaise from this slaw as we were dining al fresco and I wasn’t sure how long the food would sit outdoors in the heat and sun. The lemon juice and zest were added to mimic the tangy flavour of mayo.
It was creamy without being heavy.
Celeriac, Fennel, Carrot and Nappa Cabbage Slaw
Makes about 10 cups of slaw but it depends on how large your vegetables are.
- 1 medium sized celeriac
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium sized fennel
- 1 small head Nappa cabbage
- 3/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2-4 tbsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Reserve 6-8 large cabbage leaves for presentation.
- Grate the celeriac, carrot, fennel and cabbage using a fine grater, mix well. Set aside.
- Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, zest and honey and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the dressing with the slaw and serve chilled on a flat plate with the leaves spread around to hold the slaw.
Such a cute little slider, don’t you think?
I made tiny little pretzel buns for the pulled pork sliders.
Posted in Salad, Vegetable Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged BBQ, cabbage, carrot, Celeriac, celery root, creamy, pretzel buns, Pulled Pork, Slaw, whiskey | 17 Comments »
I’ve been doing quite a bit of recipe testing lately. It’s a lot of fun because many of the recipes are ones I wouldn’t normally try, so it pushes me to try and taste new things. One of the recipes needed baking potatoes but of a specific size so when I had some left over, I figured why not make soup (plus I had lots of stock left over too!)? I knew from past experience that if I called this Vichyssoise I would be lambasted because I didn’t use leeks nor did I use cream so, to nip it in the butt, I just called it Chilled Baked Potato Soup! :-P
I made this for lunch and I didn’t have anything else with it so I wanted it hearty. Add more stock if you don’t want it as thick.
JT: “It really does taste like a baked potato!”
A Room Temperature Baked Potato Soup
Makes about four servings 375 mL each (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large baking potato, scrubbed clean
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarians)
- 1/4 strip of bacon, cooked until crispy, per serving (substitute with feta or crumbled vegan feta (recipe to come))
- 1 tsp of sour cream or crême fraiche or Greek yogurt, per serving (or vegan sour cream)
- 1 chopped green onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Pierce the baking potato with a fork (so it doesn’t explode) and wrap with parchment and then foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserts easily.
- Meanwhile, in a small ramekin, add the garlic cloves (with skin on), the chopped onion and cover with 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Season with a little salt and cover the ramekin with foil. Bake along side the potato for 30-45 minutes or until the garlic is very soft.
- When the potato is done, cut in half and scoop out all of the flesh with a spoon into a glass bowl. Squeeze out the garlic cloves from their skin and add to the potatoes, pour in the chicken stock with the onions and salt into the potato mix. With your stick blender, purée adding stock until you achieve the consistency you want. Press through a fine sieve to ensure it’s silky smooth.
- Serve at room temperature (or reheat), garnished with 1 tsp sour cream, crumbled bacon and chopped green onion.
A creamy, dreamy room temperature soup. No that’s not a fish bowl back there!
- I’m in the process of creating a recipe for vegan feta (a brined cheese) so stay tuned!
- The soup definitely tastes better at room temperature rather than chilled, you get more of the potato flavour at room temperature.
- If you heat the soup, add some grated cheddar on top, I didn’t because I thought it might be weird because it wouldn’t melt.
- You may replace the stock for roasting the garlic with olive oil, I did not because I wanted it a bit healthier.
Based on 4 servings
Using non-vegetarian ingredients
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes, Soups, Vegetarian | Tagged bacon, baked potato, creme fraiche, green onions, Onions | 18 Comments »
At the cottage we like to sit back and relax, put up our feet, read a good novel, scan some trashy magazines and on occasion have been known to enjoy a cocktail or two ;-). Simple is usually what I lean toward because of the effort one needs to make to bring everything up for the weekend. I know I’ve posted a guacamole recipe before (here and here) and even got flak for calling this one mocamole, but I thought I’d share a super simple rustic version made with the ripest avocado for a light snack at the cottage. This recipe has only 5 ingredients and you need only one bowl, a fork and a knife to make it. See, I told you it was simple.
This dip comes together very quickly; I disappeared for less than five minutes to make it, our guests were surprised I made it from scratch so quickly!
Super Simple Guacamole
Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup of dip but it depends entirely how big your avocado is
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1-2 tbsp lime juice
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 5 small grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro and a sprig or two for garnish
- Scoop out the flesh from the avocado, no need to be gentle as you will mash it with a fork.
- Mash the avocado with a fork (I told you so).
- Add the garlic and the lime juice and mix well.
- Fold in the chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- Serve with celery sticks, cucumber rings, or crackers.
I love that mashing with a fork still leaves you with some lovely, creamy chunks of avocado.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Cocktails, Gluten Free, Snacks, Vegetarian | Tagged Avocado, dip, tomato | 16 Comments »
It was someone’s birthday recently and a very specific request for cake was made: Black Forest Kirschtorte! I haven’t made this cake in quite some time and had forgotten which was my GOTO recipe. So I sat down with my favourite pastry cookbook, Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984. Coincidentally, this book was a gift from one of my dearest friends, University Kim (I have two Kim’s so I’ve differentiated this way for years!) she signed it “a friend forever” and she sure is!
I’ve made many successful recipes from this cookbook from the Normandy Apple Tart to Profiteroles (and some that I haven’t even blogged about) and for the most part the recipes were detailed and correct. Not this one.
I usually read through the ingredients to make sure I have everything I need and I skim the directions to make sure I know what I’m doing, which I also did. But when I actually got down to the nitty gritty to make the cake (well into it, to be exact), I noticed that they completely forgot to include the flour in the instructions (actually, in this case it was the almond mix). So I had to improvise and it seems to have worked. The cake is a genoise-style with strong chocolate flavouring from both melted good quality chocolate (I used this one) and cocoa powder. It’s light enough that you don’t squeeze out all the whipped cream when you cut it, but it’s got enough body to hold the drunken cherries. All in all, quite a tasty recipe and it’s Gluten Free! I stabilized the whipped cream so that it lasts a few days, otherwise it will just make the cake soggy.
I cut the recipe down to 1/3 size because we didn’t want a large cake and I added the cocoa powder because we like chocolate and removed flour and bread crumbs ingredients, you can definitely check the original recipe on page 93 in her cookbook. The recipe is a bit different that what you might be used to in North America as the cinnamon really flavours the chocolate beautifully, if you’re not a fan, leave it out!
A deliciously boozy cake
Black Forest Kirschtorte
Original recipe by Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984.
Makes one small cake, about 2 cups of batter. Serves 4-7 people.
Ingredients for the cake:
- 42 g ground almonds (not blanched, coarsely ground)
- 1/3 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp ground cloves
- 10 mL kirsch
- 47 g caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 2 tbsp crême fraiche or sour cream
- 33 g good quality chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
- 2 egg whites
Directions for the cake:
- Pre-heat your oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Prepare your pan by coating all over with butter and dredge with sugar.
- Combine the almonds, cinnamon, cloves and moisten with kirsch.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the sugar and egg yolks and beat until thick, creamy and pale in colour. Add the orange extract, melted chocolate, crême fraiche and lastly the cocoa powder and mix well.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Pour evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the cake has shrunken for the sides a little bit.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out to a cooling rack.
Ingredients for the cherry syrup and whipped cream:
- about 20 fresh cherries with stems and pits (around 330 g or 3/4 lb). Reserve 7 cherries for decoration, set aside.
- 33 g (1 oz) granulated sugar
- 85 mL (3 oz) red wine
- 85 mL (3 oz) water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 30 mL (5 oz) kirsch
- 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
- 1 tsp gelatin
Directions the cherry syrup and whipped cream:
- While the cake is baking wash, pit and stem the cherries; cut them in half.
- In a small sauce pan add the sugar, red wine, water, cinnamon stick. Simmer for 20 minutes, add the halved cherries and poach lightly for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cherries and allow to drain into a dish. To thicken the syrup, bring to a boil and cook down for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the kirsch, stir well.
- Soften the gelatin in a very little bit of water (2 tbsp) set aside while you whip cream.
- In a very cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, add the softened gelatin and whip to combine evenly.
Directions to decorate the cake:
- Cut the cooled cake in half. Drizzle the cherry syrup onto the bottom and top layers and allow to absorb. Spread an even layer of whipped cream and dot with poached cherries. Add a bit more whipped cream on top.
- Place the top layer down on the bottom layer and drizzle with the cherry syrup (reserve some syrup and poached cherries for serving). Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and decorate with the seven cherries that were reserved at the onset.
- Serve with cherry syrup drizzled on the plate and some of the reserved cherries.
Posted in Cakes, Gluten Free, Recipes | Tagged birthday, boozy, cake, cherries, chocolate, delicious | 22 Comments »
I’ve been busy :-). You already know that I’m writing social media content for a marketing company’s food related client(s) and now they’ve up’d the ante and put me on contract to write for them, every month until September! Plus last week they’ve scored yet another food related client! YAY! I’m totally loving it, but it means even less time for blogging, boo. These days my mind is filled with possible posts and brand related photography for their posts and not mine…and then last week my recipe testing gig also started up again and I’ve been working hard at testing recipes for my recipe developer client. But I’m not complaining, just letting you know that I may not be by to comment on every post you make but I do read them (in the middle of the night) so know that I’m out there thinking of you ;-).
And my food styling is still going on, last week I actually styled (not assisted) for a shoot for my old (boss, friend, neighbour, Kim) and it was fantastic! Here’s a photo of the photographer and Kim as we wait for an approval for the shot from the client (not at the shoot).
Waiting for approval.
Temperatures in Toronto and the cottage have been on the cooler side but it’s been incredibly humid; for example one day last week we had 98% humidity! That’s what we call close, one would comment that “it feels very close today.” I’m still not complaining because it’s not -25C and it’s not snowing…yet. But it does feel close!
We had a friend over for dinner and I wanted a refreshing starter for our dinner so I came up with this tasty soup. I know I’ve already posted about a chilled melon, kiwi and prosciutto soupbefore but this one is different. For vegetarians, I suggest you use feta instead of prosciutto for the saltiness.
Chilled Honeydew Melon Soup with Crême Fraiche and Prosciutto and frozen melon balls
- 800 g honeydew melon
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 75 g cucumber
- Mint to taste
- 1 large basil leaf
- 3 tsp Crême fraiche
- Frozen melon balls
- 1 slice prosciutto, crispy fried
- Place all ingredients except the crême fraiche, frozen melon balls and prosciutto into your blender or immersion blender container and process until smooth.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Make tiny little melon balls with a very small melon baller like this. Place on a piece of parchment and freeze for several hours.
- Garnish with frozen melon balls and crumbled crispy fried prosciutto or crumbled feta.
- Our melon was very sweet so we didn’t need to sweeten it further, but you may use honey to taste.
- Vegetarians should replace the prosciutto with a very salty feta to get a similar profile.
- Vegans could get a similar profile replacing the prosciutto with chopped sun-dried olives.
- The frozen Mellon balls were made with this tiny melon baller
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Food Styling and Recipe Testing, Soups | Tagged chilled, delicious, honeydew, melon, Soup, summer | 22 Comments »
Hello lovely readers! I hope you enjoyed last month, I’m finding it a little difficult to believe the month of May sped by so quickly. I don’t even want to think about June yet but here we are. My dear friend Genie, over at Bunny, Eats, Design created a monthly event called Our Growing Edge to help showcase some out of the box recipes or recipes we’ve always wanted to try but never did. Suffice it to say that participation last month was excellent and we had 19 entries and some people even posted twice! Now that puts me to even more shame because I missed the deadline so this post is strictly a hosting of this event! Congratulations to you for trying something new and different and sharing it with us in Our Growing Edge.
Allow me to introduce our lovely contributors to May’s Growing Edge. (May I remind you to add the Our Growing Edge logo to your post and link back to my blog, your host this month, please see Rules here).
Make Tzatziki from Bunny, Eats, Design
Raspberry Jam from Circa Happy
Shellfish Ragout from I’ve Got Cake
Make Vegan Coconut Ice Cream from Spicy Quirky Serendipitous
Chocolate Dinner Party from Rice and Kai
Sprouted Buckwheat Meusli with Organic Ash
Pot Stewed Beef Liver from Daily EZ Cooking
Steamed Eggs from Daily EZ Cooking
Eggs Florentine from My Utensil Crock
Gai Daan Jai from Nom Nom Panda
Forbidden Baked Butternut Rice Risotto from Nourish Full
Creamy Vanilla Bean Pudding from Bashful Bao
Malfatti from The International Poor Chef School Project
Sugar Free Apricot Pistachio Bars from Sweet as Honey
Mint Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Sneaks and Sweets
Arugula Salad with Drunken Poached Pears & Goat Cheese from Di’s Bistro
Almond Pavlova from Oven and Apron
Avocado Rice from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous
Vegan Alfredo from Pretty Hungry Blog
First off, my name is Eva and I’m a Canadian woman who started blogging shortly after we began a 100 square feet (9.3 metres squared) addition/renovation to our craftsman-style kitchen in Toronto, Ontario because I wanted to document the proceedings. As it turned out, the blog was more of a venting place because, like any major renovation, we had some issues. At the end of the project I enjoyed blogging so much that I continued to blog with the perfect segway into Kitchen Inspirations. That was over seven years ago, 700+ posts in 58 categories and a gazillion photos. These days I’m working in the food industry as a Food Stylist (assistant) and creating social media content for food related clients! It’s all good as they say.
Starting off our May roundup is our Growing Edge’s esteemed creator, Genie who is “a graphic designer obsessed with food and bunnies”! Bunny, Eats, Design contains some extraordinarily adorable photos of her bunny, Tofu, some really cool bunny designs and of course, delicious food. For this edition of Our Growing Edge Genie tackles Tzatziki Sauce which made me change my dinner plans and make souvlaki when I saw the post. Thanks Genie.
Next up we have Pang from Circa Happy; Pang grew up in Thailand but is now living in San Francisco with her husband. Pang began blogging because she was fascinated with some lovely blogs and thought it might be a wonderful place to document her experience of learning new things in the kitchen. Pang brings to us a beautifully photographed Raspberry Jam recipe that made me lick my lips when I scrolled through her gorgeous post. Thank you Pang.
Dana at I’ve got Cake brings her blog to us because she “truly believe<s> that like Cake & Ice-cream, good Food & great Style should go hand in hand”, the blog is where we join Dana in her journey to learn as much as she can and enjoy at the same time. Shellfish Ragout on a Bed of Spinach is Dana’s entry to this month’s edition and boy does it look delicious. Thanks Dana for the detailed step by step, it sure makes this recipe very approachable.
Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Avocado Rice are two of Sudha’s posts for us this month. Sudha is a scientist by day and culinary explorer by night on her delicious blog called Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous. Sudha’s exploring cooking with “ingredients break barriers and come together in a synchronized serendipitous scrumptious manner” Thanks so much Sudha for your two submissions!
Who doesn’t take notice when you see a heading like Chocolate Dinner Party? Audrey knew what she was doing with that headline that’s for sure — afterall, she is an English teacher by day! Born in Malaysia and now living in New Zealand, Audrey writes about recipes, food ideas and places to eat, all while managing her ‘bubs’ on her lovely blog called Rice and Kai. You can certainly tell this lady likes her chocolate, thank you Audrey.
After all that chocolate, I had to inject a little healthy into it with some Sprouted Buckwheat Muesli from the lovely Ashley (Ash) on Organic Ash. Ash’s blog is her ‘soap box’ on which she shares and hopes to start discussions that are important to her. Thank you for the lovely, health conscious recipe.
Jing, over at Daily EZ Cooking also generously submitted not one, but TWO posts for this edition, thank you Jing. The Pot stewed beef liver is something I’ve always wanted to cook at home, only ever having similar dishes in restaurants. And the Steamed Eggs look like they could well be a staple for a quick yet satisfying meal. Your step by step recipes will certainly make that easy.
Eggs Florentine from My Utensil Crock is a full-time attorney’s blog documenting healthy foods that don’t taste like health food; her blog is a beautiful collection of nicely lit photos that look very delicious. The Eggs Florentine would make a fabulous brunch for the coming weekend, don’t you think? Thank you MUC for your submission.
Nom Nom Panda made Homemade Eggettes which look suspiciously similar to Ebelskivers! Nom Nom takes us through the history and the process while she experiments and kindly shows us what it’s not supposed to look like too. Thanks Nom Nom Panda for the photos of the pans too, it’s very helpful for those who want to find it in their country.
Maddy over at Nourish Full is an inspiring young person on a journey back to health through healthy living and eating. For this month’s installment of Our Growing Edge Maddy made an irresistible Forbidden Rice Butternut Squash Risotto that just looks so good you have to pinch yourself that it’s still so healthy!
Bashful Bao‘s Anna whipped up a luxuriously creamy vanilla bean pudding with her Netherland Dwarf rabbit Isadora (Izzy) (not sure if Izzy was involved but anytime you can insert a bunny into a blog is a good thing!) Though bashful, Anna posts delicious recipes regularly so it’s not surprising this pudding sounds and looks so good!
I knew I would instantly like Chandler at the International Poor Chef School because her blog url is The Chef with Red Shoes! How cute is that? Chandler, you’ll notice that some of my followers are really into shoes (like me) so you’ll feel right at home here. I love her Kitchen Hacks section where she shares her tried and true tips and tricks in the kitchen. Chandler’s submission is a delicious Malfati recipe which she garnishes with a gorgeous (and simple) crimini (or cremini) mushroom sauce, a perfect accompaniment.
Then off we go to Auckland to visit Carine at Sweet as Honey, a French wife and mother of two who recently had to reinvent herself with less sugar! We’ll just say she was already sweet enough! Carine made beautiful Sugar-Free Apricot Pistachio Bars that look so yummy, you’d never guess that there is no sugar in them!
I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I was when you read Lindsey’s recipe in Sneaks and Sweets, yes indeed, that’s avocado in a mint-chocolate cookie! I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that Lindsey will always choose a dessert over a vegetable and apparently is a ‘bottomless pit’ when it comes to her favourite eats! We can all relate to that. Check out Lindsey’s gorgeous and healthy recipe here.
Meet D from D’s Bistro; Di considers herself a traveling food lover, who has no intentions to teach us how to cook, she just wants to share her delicious recipes! Speaking of which, check out this incredible Arugula Salad with Drunken Poached Pears and Goats Cheese, Arugula, goats cheese and what? Drunken Poached Pears? Wow.
Oven & Apron‘s Amanda dishes up a beautiful Almond Pavlova for this month’s Our Growing Edge. Amanda documents recipes that are both sweet and savoury with a “comfortable home-y feel” but this Pavlova definitely screams celebration! Amanda is embarking on a new beginning so please join me in wishing Amanda all the best in finding her dream job that “embraces her creative side”! Good luck Amanda.
And last but not least please check out Carissa’s Pretty/Hungry Blog where she made a gorgeous and delicious Vegan Alfredo! Carissa makes healthy, delicious and beautiful food on her pretty blog. Her alfredo sauce is silky and creamy and uses almonds which is genius!
Thanks again to you all for these gorgeous and delicious entries to May’s Our Growing Edge. I hope you discover someone or something new and give it a try.
Our host next month is Phuong from My Kitchen of Love please click on over here to post your entry and don’t forget to include the Our Growing Edge logo and a link to the host’s blog. Thanks again.
Posted in Bloggers Unit, Cool Stuff, Recipes | Tagged bloggers, cooking around the world, Recipes | 12 Comments »
These days life goes like this
Wake up, check that off of some list
Gotta be a little something more than this
The bottom of my coffee cup.**lyrics from Bon Jovi’s Summertime
We’ve talked about lists before (here and here), it’s nothing new and as I was compiling yet another list I started to wonder how many lists I’ve made over the years. I usually start a templated list if I find myself creating the same list more than twice, or if I do the same stupid thing twice, or …
At the risk if sounding a little crazy (ok, maybe a bit more than a little!) I thought I’d share a few more lists I keep (don’t worry, it’ll just be the titles, not the entire list!)
Books that I’ve read (title and author): I started this list about 27 years ago after a couple of times I had purchased the same book twice because they had changed the cover graphic and I thought it was a new novel from that author (soooo annoying)! I wish I had done the same for movies (I tend to block out the ones that sucked and for some reason we keep wanting to watch them).
Menus for dinner parties: again, this list goes back 20 years, started it so I wouldn’t duplicate meals for the same guests. I used to keep this list in a notebook but about five years ago have switched over to electronic lists in my Notes/Reminders on my iPhone.
Preferences or allergies of my friends and family: This is really a no-brainer because it keeps things simple and you won’t poison one of your friends.
Work outfits: I started this list for my very first full-time job so I wouldn’t wear the same thing twice in a week; the list took a hiatus for about fifteen years (read, I got bored) but I’ve recently started it again because my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.
General household measurements, like table sizes for table cloths, window sizes etc.
General shopping lists for standard items, for example I keep a list of everything I buy at Costco and then I need only to check off the things I need on that trip.
Wish lists, we always seem to come up blank when we ask each other what we’d like for Christmas, but I know darn well we had a bunch of things in mind over the year.
My favourite restaurants: from time to time I am asked where to eat out in TO so instead of reinventing the wheel, I keep a running list that I review every so often and that way I just copy and paste that list into an email.
My shopping routes in NYC, Chicago and Paris: I know that sounds pretentious but we don’t go that often that I sometimes forget about that little tucked away place (kitchen gadget store), plus it’s handy if I get asked.
Travel wardrobes: This is a list of outfits I put together for various holidays, it’s handy if we go to the same place at the same time of year, I start with that list and amend as necessary. This list also helps me remember all the accessories needed for specific outfits (I’ve forgotten a belt or scarf before and that just makes me annoyed because I refuse to buy something I already have a perfectly good one at home). It also helps me maximize the clothes by coordinating pieces to make more than one outfit. Somehow I always end up tossing in a few extra things just in case (never can have too many shoes, Kristy!)
General ideas: in the old days I’d keep a pad and paper beside my bedside just in case I come up with something great in the middle of the night, now it’s in my iPhone.
Christmas Baking: I like to change it up a bit year to year and a year is a year!
Christmas cards: to whom I sent and from whom I received.
Cottage menus: but you already know that: I found a Meal a Plan app that I’m trying out, it stores recipes and pantry items (including inventory), you create a meal plan calendar and it pulls your shopping list for you. Once I’ve used it a few more times, I’ll do a review.
Blog post ideas: self explanatory.
So you see, I’ve designed my list keeping in a way that will save me time and headaches for things I do often! And there is one more list for this post: the ingredient list for this tasty recipe. This recipe just happened one morning at the cottage when I didn’t just feel like a plain poached egg on toast. Combining the rich avocado and setting it off with the sweet watermelon really worked; I also added a drizzle of balsamic just to make things interesting.
Do you make lists to help keep you organized or because you have a bad memory? Share what you make a lists of in the comments, it may help someone organize a bit better.
A surprisingly tasty combination of flavours!
Watermelon, Avocado, Tomatoes and a Perfectly Poached Egg on Arugula
Makes enough for lunch for two
- handful or two of arugula, washed and dried
- 2 slices watermelon, cubed
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 4 compari tomatoes, cut into quartered
- 2 eggs, poached perfectly
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- On each of two plates, place a handful of arugula, casually top with cubed watermelon, sliced avocado, quartered tomatoes and one perfectly poached egg.
- Combine balsamic, EVOO, Dijon and salt and pepper (be careful though, the Dijon has a lot of salt in it already) and whisk. Drizzle over each salad evenly.
The runny yolk adds to the richness of the dressing, that’s why the dressing is just drizzled and not tossed!
Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Gluten Free, Recipes | Tagged Avocado, drizzle, poached egg, summer salad, watermelon | 45 Comments »
Hello loyal readers, I do hope you are all well and adjusting to climate changes you are experiencing (spring-ish for us Northern Hemispherers, fall-ish for those down under!). Cottage season has begun for Canadians, starting with what we call the May 2-4 (two-four) weekend which happened to be last weekend, even though it wasn’t May 24rth! Therefore list season has begun. Since last Saturday, I have made no less than 5 lists believe it or not. Once it goes on the list, I can safely delete it from my memory, so don’t bother asking me about it, check the list! Why 5? We needed a menu plan for last weekend: List 1, then there is the shopping list for said menu plan, List 2. Then we get to the cottage and almost as soon as the front door is opened for the first time of the season, a third list has begun: List 3, things we need to bring/buy for the next time. And then there is the next time, List 4 is the new menu plan and then List 5 the new shopping list and of course, list 6 (to come) is the list of things we need to bring/buy for the next time around! Such fun.
Being the suck that I am, this was taken in the screened in porch because the bugs were BRUTAL. Believe it or not, even JT put on a bug shirt for the first time EVER.
You also may have realized that I failed to post on Thursday, and sadly for the time being I’ve decided to reduce my blog posts to once per week, I hope you don’t mind. It’s still a joy for me and I want to keep it that way; plus my marketing freelance gig writing for social media has upped the anti and I’ve been contracted until September, god forbid I run out of words. Good news is that it’s steady, bad news is that I’m using up my Data plan like it was going out of style. But I’m not complaining, I’m loving the projects and the people I’m working with so all is good in the new reality!
Now you have probably been wondering why there hasn’t been an Ebelskiver post in a while. I know, I asked myself the same question…and if you’re interested in the other posts, please click here, and here and here. Remember that I have my dear friend Barb (from Profiteroles and Ponytails — she’s on a bit of a break, so busy!) to thank for that gorgeous cast iron Ebelskiver pan, so I can’t let it go unused.
I’m getting much better at making perfectly spherical Ebelskivers.
Bacon, Feta, Kale and Onion Ebelskivers with a Yogurt a Dill Sauce
Makes about 17 Ebelskivers (I used 5 Ebelskivers for breakfast and froze the remainder for another time — guess who had 3)
- 140 g onions
- 60 g bacon (should have been 80!)
- 60 g feta
- 100 g kale (or mixed spinach and kale)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- Heat the EVOO and cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside. If there is more than one teaspoon of bacon grease left in the pan, remove excess (or not, it’s your arteries!). Cook the onions until soft and translucent, add the greens and wilt. Set aside to cool completely. In the meantime make the batter.
Basic Ebelskiver Batter Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 tsp salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, set aside.
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolk until thick and pale, then whisk in the milk and melted butter. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. The batter will be lumpy.
- In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Using a spatula, fold about one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest just until no white streaks remain.
- Fold the cooled wilted greens, onions, bacon and crumbled feta and mix thoroughly.
Ebelskiver cooking directions:
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Spray the ebelskiver pan with a good squirt of non-stick spray and place over medium heat. Add about 1/4 cup batter to each round as soon as the pan is quite hot. Maintain the heat at medium, you don’t want to burn the ebelskiver edges before the insides get a chance to cook.
- Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Using a fork, gently push the ebelskiver until it entirely turns around in the pan and the uncooked portion is now facing the bottom.
- Transfer the finished spheres to a platter and finish baking in the oven while you repeat to finish the batter (about 15-20 minutes).
Yogurt Dill Sauce
Enough for two servings
- 1 cup non-fat yogurt, well stirred
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp dill
- In a small sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour. Cook the flour but don’t brown it. Add the yogurt and stir.
- Remove from heat and stir in the dill.
- Serve warm over the Ebelskivers.
I was surprised and thrilled that the feta stayed whole and did not melt into the batter, it was so tasty.
Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Recipes | Tagged bacon, danish, delicious, feta, Kale, onion, pancakes, savoury, tasty | 61 Comments »
The tart lime custard is a lovely contrast to the sweet blueberries.
It’s our 28th wedding anniversary. Yes, I was a child bride! We celebrated at the cottage, hence the slight delay in this post. We actually married on the Holiday Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend (today) because we didn’t want to wait a year for the reception hall. One place I called had a 3-year waiting list! Can you imagine waiting 3-years for a reception hall? How long did you have to wait? We also didn’t want to pay a king’s ransom for our wedding and the holiday Monday was less expensive than a Friday or Saturday; it meant that we had funds to put a down payment on our first home. What’s the most expensive wedding you attended? About 20 years ago we went to a wedding that was over $40,000!
We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake for our wedding either because neither JT nor I like fruitcake, so we had Black Forest cake but I definitely could have enjoyed these shaker lime tarts instead. The tarts are a cross between a curd and a custard and they are plenty tart, which both JT and I adore. I made these last week when a friend dropped by to deliver his FILs pickled herring so I naturally invited him for dinner. I was inspired by fellow Torontonian blogger Ilan’s Iron Whisk recipe here but I didn’t make his recipe because I thought the Sweetened Evaporated Milk would make it way too sweet for our taste, so I adapted my old favourite Martha Stewart recipe that I first posted here. Both the filling and pastry components come together very quickly and it sure was tasty with the fresh blueberries on top.
Shaker Lime Tarts with Blueberries
Makes 4 small tarts (about 10 cm or 4 inches in diametre)
- 3 limes (I used ordinary limes but you can use Key Limes instead, you’ll need about 8)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 batch of Viennese Pastry (recipe below)
- Zest the limes entirely into a non reactive bowl (glass works) and reserve about 1 tsp for the pastry. Cut limes crosswise into paper-thin rounds using a mandoline or a very sharp knife; discard ends and seeds.
- Place lime slices and any juice that you can collect into non reactive bowl with the zest and cover with sugar; toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature overnight.
- Divide the pastry into four equal balls. With the heel of your hand, flatten out the balls into a small disk. Place the disks into the centre of a spring form tart pan and press out to the edges with your fingers. Roll the top to get a nice scalloped edge.
- Place the tart pans on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450° F (232° C) with rack in lower third.
- Pour the sugar and lime mixture through a fine sieve, pressing the lime slices to get every drop.
- Add the lightly beaten eggs to lime mixture and stir well to combine.
- Divide the lime liquid among the refrigerated tart shells.
- Bake tarts on parchment covered baking sheet for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F (177° C) and bake until filling is set and beginning to look golden, about 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool on sheet on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove tarts from pans, and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
- Top in a even pattern of blueberries.
Originally from the Five Roses Flour Cookbook
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/8 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp reserved lime zest
- In a food processor, add all of the ingredients except the egg yolk and vanilla, process until the butter is incorporated and it resembles coarse corn meal.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla and process until it becomes a ball. If it is very soft, you may want to refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Follow directions above for use in the lime tarts.
- You may coat this with a neutral glaze but I didn’t.
- You may also garnish the plate with a simple blueberry coulis. Purée fresh or frozen blueberries and pressing through a fine sieve. Add a bit of water or your favourite booze to loosen to make a rich paste.
Posted in Desserts, Recipes | Tagged blueberries, lime, long weekend, tart, victoria day | 58 Comments »
I thought I would begin this post with a little spring. I know I’ve been complaining a lot about the weather. A lot. So, in light that this past weekend we finally got some spring-like temperatures and it seemed that everything just burst into bloom, I wanted to share my joy. Yes, spring has sprung in Toronto (about damn time). Here are a few lovely blooms from my morning 8 km or almost 5 mile power walk through High Park.
This is our little Japanese Cherry Tree.
These are Japanese Cherry Blossoms in High Park.
There are several places that these beautiful trees are planted so each one has a slightly different time-table depending on how much sun and if they are in the valley like these, they aren’t quite in full bloom yet.
The Forsythia bloomed at the same time as every thing else.
The Saucer Magnolia, almost there.
Karma. It gets you every time. Case in point: last week I assisted on a national brand motion shoot (video for commercial), two action packed days of sorting through frozen product looking for the ‘perfect’ specimens and then deep frying said specimens. Yes, indeed my friends, deep frying! Now those of you who’ve followed Kitchen Inspirations over 7+ years know that I am not a fan of deep fried foods (yes, I know, it’s blasphemous) so deep frying two days straight was an experience, to say the least. And yes, I did smell like Eau de Frire!
This little recipe can be deep fried but it needn’t be, pan frying does the trick too. I made these for a special celebration coming up this weekend, my father in law turns 90! We’ll be springing him from the long term care facility to bring him to our house to party on. We’ll be breaking out the good china to celebrate! Happy Birthday Dad!
A crisp potato ‘cracker’ with crême fraiche and smoked salmon with a little dill and chives.
Mini Rösti Appetizers
Makes about 60 x 3 cm (~1.25 inch) diametre rounds
- 600-800 g (1.3-1.8 lb) Yukon Gold Potatoes (actually, you can use any potato you would use as mashed potatoes)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and chop potatoes in half (you want a chunk large enough to grate without grating your knuckles).
- Put the potatoes into a pot with cold water and salt (this step was prevalent in many recipes, something to do with cooking evenly) and bring to a boil. Keep on the boil until there is still some resistance when you poke the pieces with a fork or cake tester — you definitely DO NOT want to cook them 100%.
- Remove potatoes from the pot and allow to cool completely.
- On a large grater, grate the potatoes entirely. Using a 3 cm (~1.25 inch) cookie cutter, sprayed with non-stick cooking oil, press a good tablespoon of grated potato into it and compress slightly. Lift cookie cutter off and repeat until all the potato is used up. Heat a large cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of oil (err on more than less). Add the little rounds of potatoes and cook until they are crispy and golden on each side. Drain on paper towel, cool and then freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, pack them into a zip lock bag. Use as required.
- To reheat: pre heat the oven to 300F and bake frozen potato rounds until warmed through, about 12 minutes.
Using a smallish ice cream scoop, I was able to keep each one about the same size.
Yes indeed, that is a honey wand that was repurposed as a plunger to flatten each disk out.
They made quite a few!
They’ll crisp up again when you reheat them.
Just a bite-sized nibble.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Cocktails, Gluten Free, Vegetarian | Tagged Appetizer, delicious, flowers, potato, rôsti, small bite, spring | 28 Comments »
We’ve been to The Good Fork a few times now and I thought it was time to do a Kitchen Inspirations review. The folks at The Good Fork were incredibly generous around the Christmas holidays when Toronto experienced wide-spread blackouts and JT and I were without charging power for our phones for a couple of days — they let us plug in! The Good Fork is located just on the cusp of the Western edge of Bloor West Village and because it’s on the cusp, sadly it’s pretty easy to forget about it; I’m glad that on that cold December day we didn’t!
It’s about 1.6 km from our house which makes a good walk but there is street parking usually close by. I would recommend reservations if you’re going with a group because it does fill up quickly and there isn’t a bar to wait at. If you’re going for brunch, like we did, make sure you arrive before 10am because you’ll have to wait for a table if you arrive later!
The folks are very nice at The Good Fork and we have found the food to be very good quality. I like that their menu is not huge but what they do is very tasty and the prices are not bad. The portions are a good size and if you’re not starving you may even find it enough to share with an extra salad. The Good Fork is fully licensed and serves VQA wines and beers from Canadian micro breweries. The decor is modern and simple and there are many spacious booths. Their second floor can be rented for events.
JT and I visited The Good Fork for brunch; I ordered the Nova Scotia Benny ($13.00) which came with two poached eggs, a generous serve of smoked salmon, cream cheese, preserved lemon and fresh dill on Gordy’s gorgeous house-made bun (it was so good that even I found it difficult to resist eating the top!). I chose a side salad instead of home fries and although the salad was very tasty, it was over dressed for my taste which is a mistake I find many restaurants make (note to self, ask for dressing on the side next time).
A delicious combination of flavours.
JT ordered a slightly more decadent dish: The Pulled Pork Benny ($13.60) topped with crispy fried shallots and a delicious slaw on the same house-made bun. The pulled pork had fantastic flavour and the crispy fried shallots added the much needed textural contrast to the sweet and tangy pulled pork. JT also ordered the salad as the side and it too was over dressed. Overall, I would say that both dishes were winners and we will order them again (perhaps to share next time).
Succulent pulled pork and a very tasty house-made bun.
Overall rating of The Good Fork: Decor 2.5/5, service 3/5, food 4/5, Value 3/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).
Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.
The Good Fork
2432 Bloor St. West
Toronto, ON M6S 1P9
Monday and Tuesday 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9:00 am-10:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am-4:00 pm and 5:30 pm-10:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Things to do in Toronto | Tagged Bloor West Village, brunch, BWV, dinner, food, Fresh, Great Food, local, lunch, restaurant, toronto | 28 Comments »
I developed this recipe in the mid 2000′s and for a brief second I thought I would take it to market, but I blinked and lost my window of opportunity when I noticed other gourmet flatbread/crackers selling for $9.00 a box! Damn. Anyway, I’m going to share it with you again because I’ve modified it over the years. It’s really so easy to make and takes such little time and effort that I basically throw it together on the day that I need it. You can leave them flat and break the crisp flatbread by hand to give it more of an artisan look; for this photo I cut them with a pizza cutter, just eye-balling and cutting directly on my cookie sheets before baking (don’t cut on non-stick cookie sheets, you don’t want to damage the surface).
Whole Wheat Oat Crackers with Flax
Makes enough for 4 people for cocktails
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup ground and whole flax seeds (a mix 2/3-1/3 is nice)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup black and white sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup warm water (plus)
Flavourings: add as desired (not all of them)(pictured recipe has no flavourings other than sesame seeds)
- 2 tbsp paprika (smoked is good), or
- 2 tbsp cumin, or
- 2 tbsp curry, or
- 1/4 cup dehydrated onion flakes ground finely (not onion salt), or
- 1/4 cup dehydrated garlic flakes ground finely (not garlic powder or garlic salt).
- Pre heat oven to 177° C or 350° F.
- Sift all dry ingredients (including flavorings of your choice) together into heavy duty mixer with a dough hook.
- Add the oatmeal and mix. Slowly add the water with the mixer on low and mix until the result is a nice smooth ball of dough
- Generously dust your rolling surface with flour. Cut about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick chunks of dough and roll out with a wooden rolling pin until the dough is thin enough to go through the largest gap in your pasta maker. Run this dough through gently until your desired thickness is achieved (I go to #4, it makes a very nice thin but not too delicate cracker).
- Cut into triangles (like I did on this batch) or simply bake in the sheets that come out of the pasta maker and roughly break into smaller pieces when done.
- Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Cool and enjoy!
These thin crackers can hold a lot of dip without breaking.
- I use my Kitchenaid Pasta roller attachment because it makes all the crackers the same even thickness and I am able to whip up a batch in less than 30 minutes baking included!
- Make sure you run the dough through a couple of times on each thickness so that the larger seeds get gently flattened so they don’t clog the machine and tear the dough.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Bread, Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian | Tagged flax seeds, oats, sesame seeds, whole wheat | 29 Comments »
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
We were invited to my cousin Lucy’s for a Hungarian Easter dinner way back and she had asked me to make Korozot so I thought I’d revisit this old favourite recipe from my October 2011 post. Here are some of the photos from that lovely evening.
Photographing the table just runs in the family. Photography credit: Cousin Lucy
The Easter Decor. Photography credit: Cousin Lucy
The Ladies. From left to right: Miss I, me, Cousin Lucy and Cousin Lucy’s MIL. Photography credit: Cousin Larry.
The Gentlemen. From left to right, Mr. V, JT, Cousin Larry and Cousin Lucy’s FIL. Photography credit: Cousin Lucy.
I’ve been making Korozot, a Hungarian soft cheese dip for more years than I can recall. It’s always been my ‘goto’ quick dip because I always have all the ingredients at home (I keep goats cheese in the freezer all the time). Although my version is smooth, many recipes on-line use Quark or cottage cheese as the base, but I prefer the smooth texture and sharp tang of goats cheese. My recipe has slowly changed over the years becoming a wee bit healthier each time; I believe my dear Mom used cream cheese in place of goats cheese and she may have even added some room temperature unsalted butter for flavour and richness. I usually serve this tasty dip with my very own home-made whole wheat crackers (recipe coming soon).
A silky, tangy dip
Makes about 1/2 cup dip
- 113 g (4 oz) Goats Cheese (at room temperature).
- 2-4 tbsp non fat yogurt (for desired consistency)
- 2 tbsp Piros Arany Csemege Paprika (or csipos, your choice) OR 1 tbsp paprika powder – try with smoked paprika for a totally different flavour
- 1 tsp tomato paste (I usually use tomato paste in a tube for this)
- 1 Green onion, very finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Blend the goats cheese, the paprika paste (or powder) and tomato paste with a little yogurt in a food processor until well mixed, adding the yogurt a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Taste and add salt now, but be careful because the paprika and tomato paste are both extremely salty.
- Remove from processor and fold in the finely chopped green onion.
- Serve at room temperature with crackers.
- This dip is much better the next day when the flavours have had time to blend and mature.
Why don’t you grab a cocktail and eat some dip.
It’s delicious, particularly on my home-made crackers.
Posted in Recipes | Tagged csemege, csipos, dip, hungarian, paprika, piros arany | 40 Comments »
Drat! I did it again! Two posts live on the same day, hour and same minute! And you guys are so fast with the comments (thank you by the way) I couldn’t take it down. I wish I could have given more space to highlight the horse radish, so easy and frankly WAY better than store bought. Hope you enjoyed it anyway.
Happy May! It’s been raining for the last couple of days. You know the kind of rain that is consistent all day and all night? I braved it on Tuesday and walked through the wet, muddy park for my walk, but today I’ll head to the gym. Brrrrrrrr! Do you think spring will ever arrive?
Creating recipes for two isn’t always the easiest thing, there are usually oodles of left overs. Not that left overs are a bad thing, some things just don’t keep well or taste good after freezing and defrosting. And then there’s the issue that the recipe just didn’t make enough for four (two meals, one now and one frozen for later). I find that pancakes are such a recipe. My old favourite super fluffy buttermilk pancake recipe makes 6 good size pancakes even when I cut the recipe in half (easy to do since it uses 2 eggs). But we usually only have 4 pancakes (2 each), so you can see my dilemma? Squirrels usually get the leftovers! I think I’ve figured it out! By using 1 small egg I was able to yield 4 decent sized pancakes! And I win on reducing the calories by a bit too which helps in the long run. I didn’t retake the photos this time, but I did want to publish the recipe for my records and thought that those of you who are a family of two like JT and I might appreciate it too.
They are really fluffy and not stuffy
Super Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 4 pancakes about 13 cm wide and 2cm thick! (5″ wide, 3/4″ thick)
Original recipe can be found here.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup skim milk with 1/2 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice)
- 1 small egg
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 nonstick cooking spray
- In a small bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
- Separate the egg yolk from egg white. Beat egg white and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form but not dry.
- Beat the egg yolk with the sugar until creamy, pale yellow and thick; add the buttermilk, vanilla and beat until smooth on a slow speed.
- Fold in the sifted flour mixture gently (don’t over mix as we don’t want the glutens activated).
- Fold the beaten egg white into the batter and mix together gently, do not over mix!
- Spray your skillet with non-stick spray set to medium temperature (or 350°F).
- Drop about 1/3 cup of batter on pan for each pancake and spread out to about 4-5″ and cook until you see a few bubbles on the surface of the batter. Flip the pancakes and cook for about another 1-2 minutes. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
- Keep warm until you have made all the pancakes and serve warm with butter, maple syrup, fruit and whipped cream!
Pass the cakes of pan, as they are known in our house
- Add sliced bananas and chocolate chips for a change.
- Add blueberries or your favourite berry or even a mix of berries.
Portion size is 2 pancakes
Portion size is 2 pancakes
Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Recipes | 31 Comments »
Our Easter menu included a traditional ham and I’m always looking for ways to jazz up the same-old, same old so when I discovered I had a good nub of fresh horse radish in the refrigerator, I knew it was destined for glory on the Easter Table! I found this recipe from Food Network Canada and it really was as easy as it reads! I just eyeballed the vinegar, added a pinch of sugar and pulsed until I got a nice consistency for the horse radish. This is not a sauce, it is your typical grated horse radish.
Don’t let being home made deceive you, this is one powerful condiment!
- 1 nub of fresh horse radish root (mine was about 10 cm around 4 inches), peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
- 3-5 tbsp Cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Add the chopped horse radish to your mini food processor and pulse to get a coarse grate.
- Add Cider vinegar and white sugar and pulse further, adding a bit more cider vinegar until you achieve a nice fine grate for the horse radish.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge.
Posted in Recipes, Sauces, Vegetarian | Tagged condiment, horseradish, hot, potent, root, tasty | 43 Comments »
Greetings fellow bloggers and readers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog, it has been an enormous enjoyment. As you may recall, my life has taken a bit of a turn and I’ve been working hard to get into the food styling arena but it’s a long process so I’ve been considering other opportunities along the way. You may not know but I have been sewing for many years and have even sewed a girlfriends wedding dress once! I have opened an Etsy store called Cozy Casuals and hope that you will be able to drop by and take a look. I’m sewing hand made, comfortable tunics for women and I will be expanding my line to include girl’s tunics as well as bathing suit cover ups! I will continue to to follow my dream of becoming a food stylist, but I’ll be sewing in my down times!
Fruit pies have always been JT’s family’s favourite so, I usually make a fruit pie for them. When we had this group over in January for our Re-Do Christmas dinner I had made a lovely apple pie and JTs 90-year old father loved it so much he asked for seconds, so I decided to make the same pie again. The original recipe is from my trusty Five Roses Cookbook.
A delicious, flaky crust.
Traditional Deep Dish Apple Pie
Makes 1 double crust, deep dish pie.
- 2 cups AP Flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 baking powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, very cold
- 8-9 tbsp ice cold water
- 8 apples, washed, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp all spice (omit if you prefer)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves (omit if you prefer)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a large food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse a few seconds to mix well.
- Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes and add to the flour mixture, pulse until you achieve a coarse texture. Add the ice cold water little by little until the pastry forms a ball.
- If your home is warm you may wish to refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes, if not then divide it into two portions and roll out the top and bottom of the pie. If desired, cut shapes out of the top crust with a decorative cookie cutter, I used flowers for spring!
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
- In a large bowl add the apple cubes and toss with the lemon juice.
- In another bowl, add the brown sugar, flour and spices and mix well (I do this in my mini food processor). Sprinkle over the apples and toss to coat evenly.
- Add the apples to the bottom of the pie crust and spread out. Top with the top pastry and trim off excess edges. Use these trimmings to make your decorative edging on the pie, or not.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes or until apples are skewer soft. You may need to cover the crust edges with foil if it’s getting too brown as it bakes.
- Serve warm.
- Cut a small triangle of parchment paper that you will slide under the bottom crust (between the pan and the crust), making sure a little is sticking out at the edge. This parchment will be your first piece of pie. When you cut your first piece of pie, make sure you cut where you put the parchment triangle is and use the parchment triangle to help lift the first piece out. Works like a charm!
- Always bake your pie on a parchment lined cookie sheet so when it bubbles over, it won’t make a mess of your oven or your cookie sheet.
- You may need to cover the pie edges with foil to prevent burning.
- You can add raisins or currants to make this even more festive.
- This pastry is very rich so I have intentionally omitted putting little pats of butter under the top crust, but be my guest and add it if you prefer.
- We love to serve this pie with some extra old Balderson Cheddar Cheese.
Posted in Recipes | Tagged Apple, cinnamon, delicious, pastry, pie, Traditional | 28 Comments »
We had JTs family for Easter brunch again this year and I wanted to change it up a bit and serve some different sides. I recently started following John over at Kitchen Riffs and he posted a fantastic update to the traditional scalloped potato dish…he added celery root! Can you believe it? This change was very appealing to me because although scalloped potatoes are not considered healthy, this version is slightly healthier than the traditional version. While potatoes have almost 1 calorie per gram, and a glycemic load of 29, celery root has 0.4 calories per gram with a glycemic load of 6! While it may not make this a healthy dish, it does help mitigate some of the other not-quite-so-healthy ingredients in this dish.
Our Easter Table
I was also inspired to add some thyme to this dish as I was preparing the béchamel sauce and it was fantastic; the thyme really played into the celeriac flavours beautifully. The celeriac also made this dish a lot less starchy than one made exclusively with potatoes. I’m definitely keeping this version for future family dinners.
A warm, bubbly cheese crusted scalloped potato and celeriac
The original recipe came from my trusty Five Roses Cookbook which is now falling apart at the seams, but that’s OK, it looks well-loved!
The thyme flavour with the celeriac is a pleasant surprise.
Scalloped Potatoes with Cereriac
Serves 10-12 small servings
- 3 medium sized potatoes (Yukon Gold work very well), peeled and sliced very thinly
- 1 small celeriac (celery root), peeled and sliced very thinly
- 1/2 Vialia onion, sliced very thinly
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus one sprig for garnish
- 1/2 cup grated yellow cheddar cheese
- Prepare an oven-proof baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (I like to use one pretty enough to serve from and that way I’m not messing around plating the dish). Preheat the oven to 190°C (350°F).
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat, increase the heat a little and add the flour, mixing well to combine. Cook this mixture for a few minutes making sure not to burn it. Slowly add the milk into the cooked flour and whisk to combine and remove all lumps. Add the chopped thyme and salt and whisk well; cook the béchamel until thick (should still be pourable).
- Beginning with the potatoes, layer a single layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish and cover the bottom fully. Next layer the onions over the potatoes and then the celery root. Cover these three layers with the thyme béchamel sauce. Repeat the layering process with the béchamel sauce until you have used up all of the vegetables, leaving a small amount of béchamel to pour over the very top of the layers.
- Place the baking dish onto a cookie sheet (you’ll thank me later) and sprinkle the cheddar over the béchamel. Bake uncovered for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a cake tester flows into the potato, celery root easily. Serve hot.
- Béchamel thickens as it bakes so don’t worry if you feel your béchamel is runny, it will be fine made with the proportions in this recipe.
- This dish may be made in advance, cooled and refrigerated. Reheat with additional cheese (broiling may be necessary).
- When you reheat, make sure the béchamel bubbles up.
A traditional dish with a new angle!
This is using Potato and Celeriac.
Potato and Celeriac, yielded about 12 portions for the dish I used.
Posted in Cheese, Recipes, Vegetable Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged béchamel, Celeriac, celery root, delicious, Easter, thyme, vegetable side, white sauce, yukon gold potato | 39 Comments »
Happy Easter everyone! Hope you all had a lovely weekend. In Canada we have Good Friday as a holiday. Some things like the LCBO are closed on Sunday as well. Saturday will be a busy day, so better get there early to stock up for the family dinner!
My earliest memory of eating Hungarian Lecsó was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my father made it for us. We were a typical Eastern European family in that the father virtually never cooked, that was ‘woman’s work’ but my Dad did step up on the occasion that my dear Mom had to go into the hospital and have an operation. I don’t remember much else about this time except that Dad cooked lecsó. One other thing, my 6 or 7 year old brother was beside himself with worry when our parents told us that Mom was going to be away in the hospital for a few days, and through tears a great degree of anxiety he asked, “Who will cook for us?” Our obsession with food runs deep.
Circa 1974 Edward’s Gardens in Toronto. Dad, my little brother and I. Mom was taking the photo. What the heck is going on with my hair????
My experience has been that Lecsó is to Hungarians what Lasagna is to Americans or Bangers and Mash are to the English, it’s a fairly common staple. It’s easy enough to put together and it’s comforting and satisfying without being overly filling. The Hungarians generally use a Hungarian green pepper which is more like a Cubanelle, longer and lighter in colour with a more subtle flavour than the green peppers we are accustomed to in North America. I switched up this dish by using colourful red, yellow and orange peppers (capsicums) and Vidalia Onions which are much sweeter.
The traditional protein accompaniment in our household was Debreceni Kolbász which is like a thick hot dog, named after the city in which it was made. Most Hungarian sausages are coarsely ground pork seasoned heavily with paprika and garlic where as a Debreceni is subtly seasoned very finely ground pork that has the texture that resembles what you would know as a hot dog. The only difference from North American hot dogs and Hungarian Debreceni is that Debreceni has a very distinct ‘pop’ as you bite through the casing. I haven’t had a Debreceni in many years for the same reasons I haven’t had a hot dog — they are just too unhealthy to be worth it for me. I made poached Cod to eat with this dish and it was exceptional.
A delicious and warming brothy sauce with cooked peppers, onions and tomatoes.
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 2 orange peppers, sliced
- 2 yellow peppers, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped (peeled and seeds removed)
- 1 medium sized Vidalia onion, finely sliced
- 200 mL home made tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
- salt and pepper to taste
- parsley for garnish
- In a light spray of olive oil, cook the onions until translucent.
- Add the sliced peppers and tomatoes and cook until very slightly softened.
- Add the tomato sauce and seasonings and cook for about 10 minutes on a medium temperature.
Spice it up a notch by adding some hot peppers to the mix.
- Hungarians traditionally use lard as the fat which adds flavour but is extremely unhealthy so I add a pinch of smoked paprika which also adds to the depth of flavour that the debreceni would bring.
- Traditionally the peppers are cooked until limp but I prefer a little texture to my lecsó so I don’t cook them as much.
- Like most stewy dishes this is a lot better the second day.
- Consider adding a poached egg to this dish (Hungarians might eat this with scrambled eggs).
- Sour cream or yogurt are also used as a garnish to this dish.
- Cubanelle peppers come in both hot and sweet varieties and look virtually identical. You will want to make sure you buy the right one and not make the same mistake we did for a meal we served at the cottage several years ago — that was a rude awakening!
Posted in Hungarian Food, Recipes, Vegetable Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged Capsicum, comforting, Cubanelle, healthy, low fat, orange pepper, red pepper, red peppers, tasty, tomato, yellow pepper | 38 Comments »
It’s tangy, crunchy and quite delicious.
I always knew that my blogging would someday parlay into something more but did I ever hope it would be two-fold? Never in a million years! First it was food styling (which I’m still doing) and as luck would have it, I recently reconnected with a colleague and a new opportunity was born: I’ve been social media content! How cool is that? I’ve been very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I thank my lucky stars every minute! And I thought I was just lucky in love! So if you need food related social media content, I’m your gal! Email me at evataylor at bell dot net and we’ll ‘talk’!
I know you’re scrolling ahead to see these photos so let me take the suspense out: they were taken on the morning of April 15, 2014 — I kid you NOT! I was hoping to be yearning for light, salad-ie dishes by now but sadly the weather is STILL not cooperating. Yes, we did have a couple of exceptionally warmish days last weekend but for the most part it’s still soup and stew weather. And like my rebellious feet I am holding out and silently switching gears to a more summery palate!
I took this photo in High Park on my morning walk. Yes indeed it’s pretty…if it were December! Not April 15 for sure.
It was cold enough that the snow stayed all day.
It really is rather beautiful.
As I’m sure most of you operate with similar intentions, I cruise blogs particularly when inspiration evades me and this recipe was no different; it was inspired by the lovely Sawsan’s beautiful Sushi Salad. I must confess that I didn’t record or photograph the first attempt of this creation which was a huge mistake (or was it?) so we actually had this tasty dish two nights in a row! And if it were up to me, it would have been three or four!
The volumes are ball-park, use what you like, omit what you don’t! Easy. If you have celery add it, if you don’t, no worries. The beauty of this dish is the crunch and variety of each and every bite.
Sawsan used ‘cauliflower’ rice but the cauliflower was not nice the day I wanted to make this dish so I substituted Napa cabbage. Since we were having this as a dinner course, I added a marinated BBQ’d pork tenderloin as our protein but chicken or fish would be an excellent substitution.
The avocado adds a certain je ne said quo is, but may be omitted if you’re watching calories.
Asian Inspired Crunchy Spring Salad
Serves 2 as a dinner portion. Please click here for the original recipe.
Ingredients for the pork and marinade:
- 200 g pork tenderloin
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
Directions for the pork and marinade:
- Remove all fat and silver skin from the tenderloin. Stab it a few times with a fork, all the way around.
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade and roll the prepared tenderloin in it to cover. Let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight.
Ingredients for the dressing:
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Directions for the dressing:
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside. (may be prepared the day before)
Ingredients for the salad:
(as suggestions, if you dislike something omit it and if you love something, by all means add more!)
- 5-6 cups of finely sliced Napa cabbage
- 1 cup cucumber, cubed
- 1/2 avocado, cubed
- 1/2 red pepper, cubed
- 1/2 medium sized red beet (raw, peeled and julienned)
- 2 green onions finely chopped
- a good bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Directions for the salad:
- BBQ the tenderloin until the internal temperature reads 71° C or 160°F at its thickest part. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Lay a generous bed of the finely sliced Napa cabbage on each plate.
- Sprinkle the cubed cucumber, avocado and red pepper along the outer edge of the base. Add the julienned beets to the centre so it just peeks outside the ring (the beets discolour the Napa so I didn’t want it to bleed all over it).
- Garnish with the green onions and cilantro.
- After the pork rests for 10 minutes, slice into thin slices. Lay 100 g sliced pork onto each plate and garnish with the dressing and the toasted sesame seeds.
The abundance of colour was no mistake…perfect for a dreary, wet spring day.
Posted in Pork, Recipes, Salad, Weather | Tagged crunchy, delicious, garlic, ginger, lime, Pork, Salad, sesame, soy | 41 Comments »
The ice is melting. Thank God! We are so over winter. This past weekend was warm enough to walk outside in a light jacket and no hat (ok, I did start out wearing gloves, but took them off). The ground is defrosting and the air smelled like my childhood spring; do you remember that wet mud, musty smell? I don’t know about other ladies in our hemisphere but I’ve stopped wearing socks! There I said it. My poor dogs are so sick of being all locked up and claustrophobic in socks and boots that they needed to be liberated! Yes, they may still get a bit chilled at times, but I don’t care! I’m done. And sadly the start of this week is back down to 2C (xxF) so this soup post is not entirely outside of expectation even though it was made about a month ago.
This soup was a last minute St. Paddy’s Day effort to make something green for dinner and I dare say it turned out even better than expected, so here it is on the blog for posterity and for me so I remember to make it again (it was that good)! It’s so creamy and smooth you’d never guess there is no cream in it!
The smooth creamy texture makes you think it’s much more sinful than it is!
It’s a nice thick vegetable soup without cream or any type of starch in it. The beautiful green colour comes from purée-ing raw baby spinach leaves into the warm broccoli soup and blitzing it for about two to three minutes to get the creamy consistency you see, I didn’t even push it through a fine sieve. There is no butter nor cream but you can add a pinch if you’d like.
The garnish is oven dried baby spinach leaves which I was hoping to make into a post on their own, but alas they were far too delicate and did not make the test! But they do make a gorgeous garnish, n’est pas?
Broccoli and Spinach Soup
- 1 bunch broccoli florets, including stems
- 1 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
- 6-8 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3-4 cups water or stock
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, raw
- Sauté the onion and garlic in a quick spray of non-stock or olive oil, adding water as needed until they are translucent. Add the broccoli florets and stems and cook stirring often until they are very tender. Add a couple of cups of water or stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Pour contents into a heat proof beaker and purée using your immersion blender (or you may do this step in a regular glass blender). Purée for a minute or so and then add the raw baby spinach and purée for another 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more water or stock if you feel it’s too thick.
- Serve warm garnished with dried spinach leaves*.
- To oven dry spinach leaves: Pre-heat the oven to the lowest temperature, mine is 170°F. Take the largest leaves from the package of baby spinach and lay over a dry cooling rack making sure they do not overlap. Place in the warm oven and watch for 15-20 minutes until they are completely dry and crispy. This would also work wonderfully with basil leaves. This is a great alternative to deep frying them.
The bright green colour is attributed to the raw spinach that’s been puréed into the cooked broccoli soup. Do you think I have a thing for green?
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegetarian, Weight Watchers Recipes | Tagged broccoli, green, onion, Spinach, weight watchers | 40 Comments »
Spring has been slowly emerging, taking its dear sweet time, but today, it’s finally going to be 17°C (62.6°F). Even on Tuesday, the sun was shining and it was actually warm enough to sit outside in the sun with a cup of hot coffee. We’re cautiously hopeful for spring, although there is still some ice in our backyard believe it or not. Stubborn ice that just won’t give up. One of our radio stations has a repeating ad that goes something like this: “April, you have just one job: melt the GD ice so spring can finally show up.” Seriously, just one job! Can it be THAT hard? Yes, we are frustrated! But at least it’s starting…
I’m beginning to think about summer foods, lighter fare and this is a quick and delicious recipe I came up with for lunch about a month ago; I think it may have even been snowing at the time (a month ago). The bright, fresh flavours contrasted against the peppery arugula will make a sensational meal on a super hot, humid day (soon, please be soon). Definitely making this lovely dish for the cottage, it’ll be perfect for eating on the dock, wearing shorts and a light T!
A delightful combination of shrimps and scallops cooked in lime juice
Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche
Makes 1 small serving (to make a meal of it, increase the weight of shrimp and scallop to 100 g in total).
- 30 g shrimp*, cubed rather small
- 20 g scallop*, cubed rather small (similar size to shrimp)
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp non-calorie sweetener of your choice
- 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
- 1 green onion, minced
- 1 stalk celery, cubed
- 5 cm (2 inches) English cucumber, cubed
- 1/4 apple (or Jicama)
- 5 cm (2 inches) English cucumber, cubed
- 100 g Arugula
- Combine the lime juice and the non-calorie sweetener of your choice and mix well.
- Make sure you cube your seafood into equal sized cubes so that they ‘cook’ at the same rate. Combine the cubed shrimp, scallop, cilantro and green onion with lime dressing and toss well. Set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.
- When the seafood has become opaque, add the celery, cucumber and apple and toss well. Serve over arugula or lettuce of choice
The apple adds the sweetness that the jicama would have.
*’cooking’ seafood in citrus does not kill off any parasites, so you should be very careful with the choice of seafood — it should be fresh, or boil in water until done and prepare the salad just prior to serving.
Based on 1 small serving
Based on 1 small serving.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Fish, Gluten Free, Recipes, Weight Watchers Recipes | Tagged Apple, arugula, celery, cilantro, Cucumber, lime, Mexican, onion, scallops, shrimp | 34 Comments »
I found this clever idea in the latest LCBO magazine. My vases were a little smaller than the idea in the magazine so some of my tulips had to stick out at the top.
Recently, we hosted a dinner party for guests who were doing Weight Watchers and because I don’t like to sabotage anyone’s journey to a healthy weight I decided to make the entire meal WW friendly and that meant putting my thinking cap on. Now I don’t know about you, but I adore guacamole, it’s so creamy, fresh and tangy and it really enhances a few dishes as a condiment but may also be used as a wonderful dip with fresh vegetables!
Now I know what many of you will say, “but wait, avocados are a good fat” and while that is very true, it’s all about balance and budget so if you can save a little here you can spend it there (perhaps on an extra glass of vino?), is all I’m saying!
Before I even searched on line, I had the idea of creating a mockamole from spinach. Why spinach? I chose spinach because #1 it’s a gorgeous green and you can purée it smooth uncooked and #2 it fits well into the WW point system. Once I determined what my basic ingredients would be, I started to search “mockamole” on the net and found that the majority of them are made with green peas. Now green peas are quite healthy but when I did the nutritional calculation using peas, my 1 tablespoon mockamole resulted in 1 WW point whereas my spinach mockamole resulted in 0 points for 1 tablespoon. So that was it.
Guacamole is a simple yet flavourful combination of ingredients and other than subbing out the avocado, I kept it pretty true to form. I used 4 tablespoons of cooked puréed navy beans as my ‘creamy’ ingredient and it worked out great. I loved the bright green colour as well as the bright flavours in this recipe. JT said it was an excellent substitute for real guacamole! It’s quite garlic-y so if it’s date night, you may wish to tone it down a notch or make sure your partner has some too ;-)!
May I interest you in a little dip?
Mockamole (Spinach ‘guacamole’)
Makes about 3/4 cup.
- 100 g fresh spinach (may be frozen)
- 4 tbsp navy bean paste (see notes)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
- Cilantro or parsley for garnish
- Chopped tomatoes (optional)
- If using frozen spinach, wring out well. If using fresh spinach, wash and dry well.
- Combine the spinach, navy bean paste, garlic, lime juice and cilantro in a small food processor and process until very smooth (I found my immersion blender did this beautifully). Fold in chopped tomatoes if you are adding them.
- Add chopped green onion and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Serve with cucumber slices, celery sticks or cauliflower florets or use in a meal that requires guacamole as a condiment.
Choose vegetables that hold onto the dip like a spoon!
The cooked puréed beans give this dip its creamy texture.
Who are you calling “dip”?
1 tbsp serving
1 tbsp serving.
- Navy bean purée: I usually make up a batch of plain navy beans for thickening soups, sauces and gravies and then freeze for later use. Cook navy beans in water without salt. Purée and press through a fine sieve. Allow to cool completely and put 1 tbsp portions into an ice cube tray (specifically for savoury things) and freeze. Once frozen, take each cube and put it into a larger ziplock bag and that way you have a creamy gluten-free thickening agent for future recipes.
- If you add too much liquid to the puréed spinach mix, strain for a couple of hours in a coffee filter reserved for savoury things before serving.
- To blanch spinach quickly, add spinach to a heat proof bowl with about 1/2 cup water and nuke for about 2-4 minutes until soft. Rince with cold water and wring out well.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Decorations, Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian, Weight Watchers Recipes | Tagged Avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime, low carb, low fat, Mexican, navy bean purée, Spinach | 40 Comments »
My best friend from University recently had an operation so I made two different kinds of soups and some gluten free cheese scones for her and her family so she needn’t bother with cooking during the first few days of recovery. The scones were a success and even JT couldn’t tell that they were gluten free. The first batch I made to give to my friend, they were true to this recipe and I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour which is mainly Chick Pea flour. I don’t particularly care for chick pea flour because it’s dense and has a particular smell, so I flavoured the first recipe strongly with a little sugar and some orange rind (orange and cheese go very well together!). The second time I made the recipe below and I didn’t need to add sugar nor the orange rind because I used a gluten free flour mix that I blended myself and I increased the gluten free baking powder because I wanted a flakier and a bigger rise out of them — it worked. I’ve put them in the freezer for the next time I see her because she has decided to recover in Florida, lucky duck.
These scones rose nicely and had a very flaky texture.
Gluten Free Flour Mix
- 6 parts brown rice flour
- 3 parts yellow corn flour (not meal)
- 1 part tapioca flour
- Combine all of the ingredients above and mix well.
- Use as required in gluten free recipes.
I challenge you to taste that they are indeed gluten free.
Gluten Free Cheese Scones
Makes 12 scones about 5.5 cm (2 inches diameter)
- 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more for sprinkling (for this recipe, I used 1 tbsp and 1 tsp in the ratios above to yield 1+ cups of gluten free flour)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 3 tbsp nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tbsp gluten free baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp yellow mustard powder
- 20 g unsalted butter, frozen and grated (please see tip)
- 85 g + 2 tbsps sharp cheddar cheese, grated, frozen (please see tip)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 75 mL milk, chilled (plus 2 tbsp more for brushing)
- Combine the dry ingredients and whisk until well mixed.
- Sprinkle the frozen cheese into the flour and mix. Sprinkle the frozen grated butter and cut into the flour using a pastry blender.
- Combine the milk and the dijon mustard and mix well.
- Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and mix until it’s combined.
- Sprinkle a bit of gluten free flour on your work surface and roll out the dough to about 1 cm or 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough over as you would fold a letter to go into a #10 envelope. I did this twice. You don’t want to over work the dough because then the butter will begin to melt and it won’t be as flaky. Using a bit more gluten free flour, roll out the dough to 2 cm or 3/4 inch thick. Cut with your desired cookie cutter (I used a 5.5 cm (around 2 inches) fluted round).
- Brush tops with the additional milk and sprinkle a pinch more of grated cheese on each top.
- Bake on a Silpat sheet or parchment for 16 minutes or until cheese not the tops is melted and a little browned (you may wish to broil for a minute).
- Serve warm with butter.
The butter just melts into the layers of deliciousness.
- I always buy my butter on sale and cut it into 1/2 cup portions and freeze. Grating frozen butter for pastries is the best way to keep the pastry flaky and light.
- I also buy my baking cheddar on sale and grate it into a zip lock bag and freeze. If you take it out and separate the gratings as it freezes, you will have frozen cheddar flakes that are easily measured for baking and cooking.
Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes | Tagged brown rice flour, cheese, delicious, Gluten Free, rice flour, tapioca flour, yellow corn flour | 35 Comments »
This is the best Jalopeño Cornbread EVER.
Everyone has a favourite corn bread recipe, this one is mine. It came from an 80′s trendy restaurant called Fred’s Not Here in the theatre district in Toronto. I qualify that it was trendy in the 80′s because although it is still around, I haven’t been to it since the 80′s so I’m not certain it’s ‘trendy’ any more. I do know that the particular strip that this and many other restaurants reside on are fighting for their lives from being re-zoned and torn down to be made into condos. Like Toronto needs more condos; apparently we have the most condos under construction in all of North America, more than New York, Chicago and Boston, believe it or not. Even if you don’t believe that, surely you must believe that this is absolutely the best corn bread recipe EVER! It’s got great texture (thank you cheddar cheese), a slight sweetness and heat. What more can you want?
Originally posted on this blog in 2009 here, I found this recipe in the Toronto Star in the section that people wrote in and asked the Star to print a recipe from a specific restaurant. It wasn’t me who wrote in, obviously someone else also thought it was the best cornbread ever, so you needn’t take my word for it. I still have the original printed recipe. But I’ve immortalized it for you here and reposted it below because the original photo sucked. These are better.
Fred’s Not Here Jalapeño Corn Bread
Makes about 26 small corn-shaped corn breads. I have altered the original recipe, so if you’d prefer the actual Fred’s Not Here version, please click to my original post here.
OK, you caught me, I didn’t have jalopeños, I only had hot Thai Chilies!
- 1 1/4 cups finely ground corn meal (not corn flour)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp finely diced jalapeños or hot chili peppers (or more if you really like it hot!)
- 2 finely sliced green onions
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Pre heat oven to 400° F.
- Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in the shredded cheese.
- Blend eggs, milk and oil in another bowl. Add the finely diced jalapeños and green onion.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Spray your cast iron corn shaped pan with non-stick spray and pre-heat until smoking.
- Spoon batter into smoking hot moulds and bake for 25 minutes or until firm and golden.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh butter.
- In a pinch I’ve used dried chili flakes, it works very well.
- You can substitute honey for the granulated sugar, but I haven’t tried it.
- Keep your eye on the baking after the first couple of pans because the pan gets hotter; I had to reduce my baking time by a minute or so by the end.
- Fill the cavity only to the top, this batter has a lot of leavening and will fill out very nicely.
- I served it with this Sopa Azteca and it was very successful.
Based on 1 cornbread.
Based on 1 cornbread.
Posted in Bread, Breakfast/Brunch, Cheese, Snacks | Tagged Bread, corn, great texture, jalopeño, spicy, sweet | 39 Comments »
Sunday was my dear Dad’s birthday, he would have been 91, Happy Birthday Dad!
Mom and Dad 1959
What does your grocery shopping map look like? Ours is called the Golden Horseshoe which means we shop the outer edge. Here in Canada it usually means that we enter the store in the vegetable section, round over through the deli/specialty cheese then bakery then fish/meats and finish off in dairy.
We don’t do a whole lot in the aisles. Recently I did a couple of assisting jobs that took me deep into un chartered territory: the middle aisles! I had to pick up groceries for a Canadian lifestyle TV show for two segments and I have to admit that it was an eye opener! What I found enormously frustrating was that a number of items that could be in more than one spot. Even the staff didn’t know for sure. Gluten free is a great example because a number of GF products are also organic, so now you’ve hot two completely opposite locations for the same product. Or if it’s flour and it’s a national brand, it could be in the normal baking section on the same shelf as the regular glutenated versions! Yes, it’s frustrating. What does your grocery store layout look like and do you shop the aisles?
I was making polenta the other day and as I was stirring the polenta and it began to thicken I was suddenly reminded of Pâte à Choux just after you add the flour to the butter and water mixture, and the idea came to me so I spent the following day developing a gluten free Pâte à Choux that you could not tell was Gluten Free. I must tell you, this is it. Many Gluten Free recipes just don’t cut it for me, it’s either the weird flour smell (garbonzo bean flour), taste or the crumbly texture, so you know this recipe must have checked positive on all of these points.
My first attempt used superfine corn meal (I blitzed it in a coffee grinder a few times) and even though it puffed up as well as the glutenated version it was just too corn mealy (think corn muffin texture even though the corn meal was superfine) the texture wasn’t right at all and so the experimentation began. Perhaps if I had used corn flour instead of meal, it would have been a different story, but I’ll leave that for another time.
This is the 100% cornmeal version, it’s just too corny, if you’ll pardon the pun.
After some research I decided a pastry made only with cornmeal was not the answer so I went searching for home made gluten free flour recipes so I didn’t have to waste time hunting down a GF flour in the grocery store. Many of them had similar ingredients but I was limited to what I had at home and the volume of each ingredient I had on hand which determined my home-made GF flour recipe; a combination of 6 parts superfine corn meal, 3 parts potato starch and 1 part tapioca flour was the result and I’m rather pleased how it worked out in this recipe. The texture and mouth feel of these choux resemble the texture and mouth feel of the glutenated choux cheese pastries that we know and love! I was so happy because my BFF is gluten intolerant and my brother has chosen to omit gluten from his diet to manage an illness. The last time I asked him if he wanted me to make a gluten free item for him he said it’s just not worth it. He’ll surely change his mind with these.
I tried making these the quick and easy way that my normal food processor choux is made (like this) but did not have as good luck with them, they were not as elastic as a good choux should be, so I reverted to the old fashioned way with the hand mixer and it worked out perfectly.
Gluten Free Cheese Choux Pastry
Makes 25, 4 cm or 1.5 inch puffs
As the three bears put it, “this one is just right”
- 65 mL soda water
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 40 g gluten free flour*
- 1/4 tsp zanthan gum (see notes)
- 1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
- 1 egg
- 30 g grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200° C/400° F.
- Combine the gluten free flour, zanthan gum and gluten free baking powder and stir well.
- In a saucepan with high sides, melt the butter into the water with the salt over medium heat. Add the flour mix all at once and cook this mixture until it clears away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from heat. Using a hand held mixer, whip this mixture for about a minute. Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes, add the cheese and beat the pastry until it is elastic and smooth.
- Prepare a baking sheet by measuring a piece of parchment to cover it, soak the parchment in running water and squeeze out excess water. Smooth the wet parchment over the baking sheet. (see notes)
- Using a pastry bag with a 2 cm (3/4 inch) nozzle, pipe very small rounds (see note) onto a the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Serve warm or freeze once cooled and reheat in a warm oven at 177° C/350° F for 12-15 minutes from frozen.
*Gluten Free Flour Recipe
Makes about 120 g of flour, enough for 3 batches if these puffs
- 6 tbsp superfine corn meal
- 3 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- Mix well until combined. Store in an air tight container until required.
- Zanthan Gum is used as a binder in gluten free baking, if you omit it your baking may end up crumbly. It is also used as a thickener but I’ve never tried it that way. It has no perceivable smell or taste. The general consensus is that you add 1 tsp Zanthan Gum to 1 cup GF Flour so that is how I determined how much to add in my recipe.
- I found that piping about 2 cm or 3/4 inch balls onto the damp parchment and slicing it from the piping tip made the task very quick and quite neat. It also regulated the size of the rounds so that they were more or less equal.
- I used soda water because I thought it might make an airier pastry, not sure if it helped or not but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
- Years ago I had read a recipe for choux that the author lightly wets the baking sheet in order to create a humid environment which helped the choux puff up even more. It was so long ago, I don’t know where I read it but my wetting and wringing the parchment is different enough.
The outside is crisp while the inside is soft and airy like it is supposed to be.
Based on 2 per serving
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Cheese, Gluten Free, Recipes, Tapas, Vegetarian | Tagged cheese, cornmeal, freeze, potato starch, quick, tapioca starch | 44 Comments »
My good friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) and I recently took a Sushi making workshop at Wabora Sushi in the Thompson Hotel on Wellington Street in Toronto, we got the deal on Groupon for $40 ($100 regular price) so I thought I would share my experience with you.
Wabora offers a blend of Japanese and Korean foods with some of the well-known North American Asian dishes (From the About page on their website). The restaurant is dimly lit and decorated in a contemporary Asian style. It’s reasonably comfortable and offers enough soft surfaces which help absorb the lively conversations. Because this was a sushi making workshop we all sat at the back of the restaurant nearest to the sushi kitchen. When the workshop began, the lights at the back of the restaurant were made brighter so we could see what we were doing (a little too bright, perhaps!)
The $40 Canadian did not include $5.20 tax so we had to pay that when we arrived. Beverages need to be purchased and if you are hungry enough you may even wish to purchase additional things off the menu (I had a glass of wine for $15). We were taught to make two decent-sized rolls which worked out to about 8 pieces each. It was reasonably filling which gave me the opportunity to take four of the pieces home with me so JT could try it too.
My first impression was that there were a lot of people, in fact so many people that there were not enough work stations for the entire group to prepare the sushi at once, so we had to do it in two groups, Group A and Group B. The tables were nicely laid out with all of the required materials and food and the surfaces were clean. We were provided with disposable plastic gloves to wear during the preparation which were cumbersome and far too large which made some of the steps a little more difficult than they had to be. There were two sushi chefs who demonstrated at each end of the long tables before groups were called up to execute. The restaurant manager provided commentary for the demonstrations and it was easy to understand. My only complaint for the demonstration component was that there were too many people gathered around and it was difficult to see exactly what the chefs were doing (there were taller people standing in front of me). The commentary was helpful even if it was difficult to see.
The chefs remained available to help where they saw necessary and answer some questions. One thing that surprised me was that the standard size sushi sheets are cut in half so that they are rectangles and not squares. We were instructed to put the rice on the rough side so that it sticks better.
This is a chicken teriyaki roll with Grilled chicken breast, cucumber, Japanese pickled carrot (gobo), avocado, omelette pieces and seaweed garnished with blonde miso sauce and teriyaki sauce.
The Chicken Teriyaki roll was certainly a new twist on the California Rolls that use surimi (imitation crab). We started with the seaweed, rough side up with the longest side facing us. We added the sushi rice (which was cooked and cooled Japanese rice with the addition of rice vinegar and sugar) and were told to spread it out evenly on the sheet to three sides, leaving one long side without rice for about 1 cm (0.5 inch). Then we added the chicken, avocado, cucumber, pickled carrot and omelette horizontally onto the long end, being careful not to over stuff. The chicken I had was a little dry and if I were to make this at home, I would definitely leave the chicken slightly thicker to avoid drying out. We rolled the seaweed up from the long end and finished it off by shaping it with a plastic covered sushi bamboo mat, tapping the ends in. We then cut the roll into eight even slices and plated them. We drizzled white miso and teriyaki sauces over the plate. The garnish of the white miso and the teriyaki sauces complimented each other well, but I would definitely not call this sushi. Roll #1 was disappointing.
Roll #2 was called a Spicy Salmon roll and it was made ‘inside out’ meaning that the rice was on the outside of the roll. For this roll, we began with the seaweed rough side up with the shortest side facing us. We added the rice and spread it out evenly to every side, then we flipped the sea weed over so that the rice was facing down on the table. We added shredded surimi (imitation crab), avocado and cucumber to the short end and rolled it up tight. Then we covered the roll with a piece of plastic wrap and we shaped the roll using an uncovered bamboo sushi mat, tapping the ends in. Then we removed the plastic wrap and added the mixture of the ‘secret recipe’ of spicy raw salmon to the top. Then another sheet of plastic wrap was draped over the roll and we shaped it again using the bamboo matt. Leaving the plastic on the roll, we cut cut the roll into 8 even slices using a dipped sushi knife. Then we removed the plastic, plated the rolls and drizzled a spicy mayo on the top and then crispy-fried potato strings. The spicy salmon had a wonderful taste and texture but I was disappointed that the recipe for it was secret, I thought it was a workshop on how to make sushi?
Spicy Salmon Roll with crispy fried potato strings
This one was definitely more flavourful and full of texture.
I had a really good time with Barb and it was lovely to catch up. The sushi making workshop was OK value for $40 and had I paid $100 I would have been enormously disappointed — it’s definitely not worth $100 to make two rolls, particularly since neither used that expensive ingredients. I would definitely like to come back to Wabora and sample more of their dishes in the future and leave the sushi making to the experts.
Overall rating of Sushi Making Workshop in Wabora (in my opinion): Decor 3/5, service 3/5, food 3/5, Value 2/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).
Disclaimer: We purchased the workshop and wine ourselves and my opinions just that, my opinions.
550 Wellington St. W
Toronto, ON M5V 1H5
Sunday – Wednesday 11am-11pm
Thursday – Saturday 11am-12pm
Posted in Cool Stuff, Things to do in Toronto | Tagged girls night out, japanese, lesson, sushi, workshop | 40 Comments »
Happy St. Paddy’s Day all!
I’m sure you’ve heard that the North East has been experiencing one of the worst winters ever and the yoyo temperatures Toronto has been experiencing for example, last Thursday it was -15°C (5°F) with a wind chill that made it feel more like -27°C (-16.6°F) and to make matters worse, last Wednesday we received about 20 cm (8 inches) of snow; you know the really heavy, wet kind? Made it really fun to shovel…NOT!
One of our elite political comedy hosts Rick Mercer had this skit on his show last Monday, I found it very funny so I thought I’d share it with you.
You could say I’m really late for Valentine’s day, or really early. I prefer the later. And as I said before, don’t limit yourself to one day to serve heart-shaped foods!
I’ve posted about these delightful cheese puffs previously (please click here and here) but when I saw Lorraine’s (Not Quite Nigella) heart shaped Pâte à Choux post here I knew I had to try to make them as small bite-sized hors d’œuvres! They were rather easy to make and even though they were a very tiny bit fussy to shape, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be. Of course, you get fewer from one batch of pastry but it’s absolutely worth the extra effort with the ooooh’s and ahhhh’s! I took these to a lovely girls night in but you can make them in advance and freeze them in an air tight container and then pull them out one at a time as needed! I stuffed mine with a slightly modified version of this Hungarian Korozot recipe, but you needn’t stuff them at all because they are rather tasty on their own too!
It’s never too late to say I love you with heart shaped cheese puffs
Heart Shaped Cheese Choux Pastry
Makes about 18 heart shaped puffs about 4 cm or 1.5 inches in diameter.
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Preheat oven to 200° C 400° F. Take a piece of parchment the size of your baking pan and saturate it with water, wring out so it’s still wet but not dripping wet. Flatten on the baking sheet. Set aside until you are ready to pipe the pastry.
- Place water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Remove from heat and add flour, and stir until combined.
- Return to heat and stir cooking the flour mixture until it comes away from the sides of the pan and is a shiny ball. I find the heat of the pan is enough, I generally don’t put the flame back on.
- Place in a food processor with plastic blades and process for 15 seconds (give or take).
- Add eggs and process for 40 seconds (err on the longer side of give or take).
- Add cheese and process for another 5-10 seconds until smooth.
- Take a piece of parchment the size of the baking pan and wet it thoroughly under the running tap. Scrunch it up and wring out the excess water. Flatten it out onto your ready baking sheet.
- Transfer the pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a thick nozzle about 1 cm or 0.5 inches in diameter. Begin on the left bump of the heart and pipe one side, then without lifting the tip, pipe the right side of the heart. You may wish to smooth out the top with a slightly wet knife. To get the heart shapes defined enough, exaggerate the top bumps of the heart, other wise it will fill in as it bakes. Or you could use a heart shaped mould sprayed a bit with non-stick spray like Brooks did in this post on his lovely blog Cakewalkr. I just came across Brooks’ blog quite by accident but I am so glad I did, can’t wait to try this method!
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
- Serve warm or room temperature. Fill with your choice of delicious fillings!
Surprisingly easy to make.
These tasty Pâte à Choux are tasty even without any fillings
Based on 2 Korozot stuffed hearts per serving
Based on two heart-shaped cheese puffs, not stuffed per serving.
Posted in Hungarian Food, Recipes | Tagged cheese, delicious, hearts, hungarian, puffs, valentine's | 33 Comments »
I made these beautiful, heart shaped hors d’œuvres for Valentines day and I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you because making heart shaped hors d’œuvres shouldn’t be reserved for one day of the year! The fussiest thing about this recipe is cutting out the heart shapes from the smoked salmon. But you needn’t fuss at all, just piece the smoked salmon on the rice and cut out easy rectangles using a sharp knife! I ended up using a knife along the outer edge of a heart-shaped cookie cutter and assembling the salmon on top of the cut rice. Want to make it even easier? You can also purchase ready-made wasabi mayo.
Choose a heart-shaped cookie cutter that is one bite.
Smoked Salmon Sushi Hearts
Makes about 16 bite-sized hearts, but it will depend on size of your hearts
- 1 cup sushi rice, cooked to package directions
- 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 100 g smoked salmon
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste
- Mix the rice vinegar into the hot rice and set aside to cool completely.
- Line a 25 cm or 10 inch square cake pan with plastic wrap overhanging two opposing sides. Press the cooled cooked rice evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set in shape.
- In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise and wasabi paste and mix throughly. Refrigerate.
- Take the plastic wrap overhanging sides and lift the rice out of the pan onto a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap.
- On another cutting board, take a slice of smoked salmon and press your heart shaped cookie cutter into it, if it doesn’t cut through completely, use a sharp knife to cleanly cut the heart shape using the cookie cutter as your guide. Repeat as many times as you have smoked salmon. Remember that you can piece together a large enough block of smoked salmon to cut more hearts out.
- Once you have exhausted the smoked salmon, cut as many hearts out from the rice as you have salmon hearts; you can also reuse the left over rice bits to make additional rice hearts. Assemble by placing the smoked salmon heart directly on top of the rice heart, lining up as best you can.
- Dot a single dot of the wasabi mayo in the centre of the heart. Serve immediately, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap so that the rice doesn’t dry out.
The wasabi mayo is a lovely bit of heat
Directions for Rectangles:
- Mix the rice vinegar into the hot rice and set aside to cool completely.
- Line a 25 cm or 10 inch square cake pan with plastic wrap overhanging two opposing sides. Press the cooled cooked rice evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set in shape.
- In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise and wasabi paste and mix throughly.
- Take individual sheets of smoked salmon and piece it on top of the rice while still in the pan, overlapping slightly so that there aren’t any holes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Take the plastic wrap overhanging sides and lift the rice out of the pan onto a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap.
- Using a ruler or straight edge, cut even rectangles and dot each one with the wasabi mayo (you may need additional wasabi mayo for this)
My friend Susan made these for a pot luck dinner we had in November last year. I liked them so much I knew I had to make them sometime!
The little hearts are very festive, but you needn’t reserve them for Valentine’s Day.
The nutrition is based on 2 hearts per serving.
Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Fish, Gluten Free, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged heart food, Smoked salmon, sushi rice, Valentine's Day | 50 Comments »
I always like to serve a salad, particularly when we have a reasonably heavy meal so I came up with this easy Caribbean inspired slaw recipe that hit the spot perfectly when I served it with the Trinidadian Chicken Curry Roti; the coconut cream helped subdue the slight heat from the curry and it was very fresh and delicious. I based the recipe on this slaw that was inspired by Toronto Chef and Food Network Canada celebrity, Susur Lee. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until just before serving so that the slaw doesn’t get too sloppy and wet; wet ingredients would be the cucumber and the mango which may be stored together. The beauty of this slaw is the uniformity of each component, so take your time in grating, slicing and chopping.
The coconut milk in the dressing helped subdue the heat from the curry.
Caribbean Inspired Slaw
Makes about 8 cups of slaw
- 2 (about 2 cups) carrots, grated
- 1/2 (give or take 3 cups) savoy cabbage, shredded
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 (about 1 cup) English cucumber, grated
- 1 mango, grated
- 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- Combine the shredded cabbage with the green onion, grated carrots, cilantro and grated coconut, toss well to combine. Refrigerate until serving.
- Combine the grated cucumber and mango and toss well to combine. Refrigerate until serving.
- For the dressing, combine the coconut cream, tamarind, lime juice and honey and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.
- When ready to serve, combine the cabbage mixture with the cucumber mixture and toss well to combine. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. Garnish with additional grated coconut and cilantro. Serve immediately.
A wonderful combination of crunch and soft sweet fruits and vegetables.
The slaw really packs a lot of flavour.
Posted in Recipes, Salad | Tagged cabbage, caribbean, carrots, cilantro, coconut, Cucumber, flavourful, lime, mango, Slaw | 38 Comments »
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