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Archive for October, 2011

As you all may know by now, our trip to Morocco is fast approaching and are goal to cook Moroccan has somehow gotten lost in our busy lives. We still have so many of the flavours to sample. Our nephew, Brian is staying with us for one more week, and I’m sad to say that I will miss him. But we have decided to enjoy Sunday dinners together in the future (or until he finds something better to do)! This past Sunday, we made one of my favourites but we put a Moroccan twist on it: Beer Butt Chicken, Moroccan Inspired Cornbread and Quinoa Tabbouleh Moroccan Style. Today, I will share the cornbread recipe.

Moroccan Inspired Cornbread (original recipe from Fred’s Not Here, a southern-style restaurant in Toronto). We haven’t been in quite some time, it was getting a little run-down about 10 years ago, but their corn bread recipe still rocks!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup medium ground corn meal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tbsp dried jalopeño flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dates
  • 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 400°F. Pre heat oiled cast iron frying pan (8″ in diametre).
  2. Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl.
  3. Blend eggs, milk and oil in another bowl.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry.
  5. Fold in the shredded cheese, jalopeño, dates and green onion.
  6. Pour into the hot cast iron pan and bake for 25 minutes or until firm and golden.
  7. Cut into wedges and serve warm with butter.

Moroccan Inspired Cornbread with dried chili flakes and dates

Moroccan Inspired Corn Bread

Warm Corn Bread

Bon Appetit

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It’s raining cats and dogs as I type this. It’s been raining for two days and they are predicting more. Me. Not happy. This is the not so pretty part of autumn.

We’re having JTs “step brother’s” over for dinner tonight; Alan is from Vancouver and Peter is from Wasaga Beach. Our nephew Brian (the one we visited in Calgary in June, just moved back to Toronto and is staying with us for a couple of weeks) is also joining us. Wow, that’s me with four handsome men! I decided to make an all time favourite that really only works with a crowd, Paella.

But first our appetizer: the beautiful fall inspired butternut squash velouté. What’s a little different about this soup is that there is no Roux, or cream, just vegetables. And a Granny Smith apple (you see how I snuck that in?). I always oven roast my vegetables for the most flavour, and for this one, I also roasted an entire head of Ontario Garlic. The roasting happened a little quicker than expected because of all the moisture in the pan from the onions and the apple, I didn’t get the anticipated caramelization on the squash. Next time, I’ll roast the squash and potato separate to the apple and onion; it still made a mighty fine autumn soup. I have modified the instructions as such.

Going into the oven at 400°F

The recipe is really just to taste, if you love something, add more, hate something, omit it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into cubes (save the seeds)
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium Vidalia, or Mayan onion, peeled and chopped into eighths
  • 1 head of garlic, remove some of the outer peel, leaving the cloves intact
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, washed and cut into similarly sized cubes as everything else
  • Chicken or vegetable stock (we used no salt stock, we’re getting back into home made chicken stock time soon).
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Squash Seeds:

  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp EVOO

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Make sure your vegetables are cut to similar size so they cook similarly.
  3. Roast potatoes and squash drizzled with EVOO and salt in one pan; the onions and apple drizzled with EVOO in another for 30-45 minutes until soft.
  4. Put the trimmed garlic head in a ramekin that just fits it, drizzle with EVOO (about 2 Tbsp) and salt lightly. Cover with tin foil and bake until bulbs are soft, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine everything in a large high sided bowl (the apple skins should just peel off, but don’t worry if the don’t) and purée with an immersion blender until smooth, adding stock to desired consistency.
  6. Press through a fine sieve or chinoise strainer, so it’s velvety smooth. Keep warm or refrigerate for later. Reheat before serving.
  7. Clean off the reserved squash seeds, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle on the spices and bake until slightly toasted (or when they begin to pop).
  8. 8. Serve in soup cups with the squash seeds as garnish.

The soup, excuse me, velouté

Happy Friday Everyone, I hope you enjoy your weekend.

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The Liebster Blog Award is to recognize your favorite up-and-coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 subscribers, and my good friend, Charles from Five Euro Food was kind enough to give it to me! Thank you Charles! I am most touched particularly when you said “Anyone who made their own croissants from scratch deserves a nomination in my book!” — I like that a lot! But now I need to lay off making (and eating) the croissants, otherwise I will have to buy new clothes for our upcoming trip (hmmmmmmm….)

Rules are:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you. Check, see above.
  2. Reveal your top 5 bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. Check, see below
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog. Check, see above.

The five bloggers I nominate are:

Oishii – Michael does a lot of recipe testing, and is working on his photography.

The Big Fat Noodle looks for anything positive as inspiration. Has lived in far parts of the world, but now resides in Surrey UK.

Bunny. Eats. Design. A graphic designer living in Auckland, NZ. with her hubby and bunny.

Bits and Breadcrumbs, Betsey is another graphic designer who loves to cook (notice a trend?)

Rosemary and the Goat. I really liked the name of her blog.

My brother’s wife Wendy, just bought a lovely new fire-ring; it helps to contain the fire in the fire pit. My nephew Jack LOVES making fires. JT is very good at making fires since he practically grew up at the cottage, he helped Jack make this fire so we could cook lunch on it. Lunch on Sunday was hot dogs (I haven’t had a real hot dog in 20 years, I usually opt for the veggy dog!). We roasted the dogs over the fire, it was such fun. I’d forgotten how the skin gets all tense that it pops when you bite into it!

Jack stoking the fire

The New Firepit

Sunday morning I had made fried eggs in pepper rings (Flower Power Eggs from Donna’s Tasty Kitchen) so I had a lot of peppers left over. We needed an hors d’œuvre and I thought why not fire roasted peppers? We had an amazing fire, perfect embers; I roasted each pepper until the skins blackened and bubbled, took quite some time, but well worth the effort. The skin came off reasonably easily, and I sliced them into long strips.

Fire Roasted Peppers

A few crumbles of sheeps milk feta, a drizzle of olive oil, a minute or two under the broiler, and you have a gorgeous hors d’œuvre! It’s an iPhone photo, not the best, but you can see how beautiful the colours were. The smoke from the fire really came through, it was very tasty!

Here are a couple of great photos of the beautiful fall colours.

The morning sun shining through the trees down the road (right about where Martin Short's cottage is)

Gorgeous colours, even my iPhone 3Gs was able to capture the beauty!

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As you’ve read by now, I’m kind of on a croissant kick; I’m trying to master the art of croissant making and it’s going well. Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise originally inspired me to take on the lofty croissant!
This is attempt number three. I’m using
The Fresh Loaf recipe again, mainly because it was designed for a mixer (my shoulder is still bad, I have an xray and ultrasound booked!)

The cold, formed croissants, just before baking

What I’ve learned is this:

  • The dough and the butter must be cold all the time.
  • The dough should be a harder bread dough, and not soft, so that the butter doesn’t melt into it (you want the butter to define the layers).
  • I actually followed Sawsan’s folding after folding the butter into it (The Fresh Loaf doesn’t fold as much and I like a flaky croissant).
  • After each rolling and folding, return to the fridge to rise for a few hours or as I did, over night.
  • NEVER allow the dough to warm up (this melts the butter).
  • The two temperature baking is essential for a golden, flaky croissant. Super hot to begin, then lower to bake it through.

    The final product. Flaky, butter, yummy.

    I do hope you try baking croissants sometime. They really are not as difficult as you might think. Thanks Sawsan, again!

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  • It’s Thanksgiving in Canada, and we made our yearly treck to my brother’s cottage. It should only be a little over a two hour drive, but as the years move on it’s gotten worse and worse. Over three hours!
    We stopped to a world famous burger joint on Hwy 11, called Webers. I’ve never been. JT and I shared a burger and fries.
    20111009-091040.jpg

    Click here for photo source.
    To be honest, it’s not the best burger I’ve ever had! Which is surprising because there is a lot of hype around it. It was nice to stretch our legs and eat it at a picnic table outside. This a good segway to the incredible weather we’re having…26C! Two years ago it snowed!
    Here is a photo from 2009.

    20111009-092122.jpg
    We’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving with my brother since our Mom passed away six years ago; it’s always a little crazy (2 kids and a giant dog) and this year is no different!
    BTW, last night, we polished off most of the donkey ear cookies, cheese sticks and Tuppkaka!
    JT and I usually take care of one dinner and one breakfast! JT made his famous Boeuff Bourgignon, I made dumplings, and we had the Tuppkaka for dessert.

    This morning we are having Flower Power Eggs from Donna’s Tasty Kitchen and Croissants (tomorrow’s post).

    20111009-104633.jpg

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    First I want to say how sad I am that Steve Jobs has passed away; not withstanding that he was so very young, his future contributions will be sadly missed. I have been using his products almost exclusively for near 25 years (maybe longer). My first real job, was the beginning of the apple hype; we had just started getting Macs on every desk. I was in the Graphic Department of a professional services firm (think Accounting and Consulting), so we were one of the first. My very first Mac was Macintosh 128K, it didn’t have enough memory to hold graphic software — some being as large as two little 3.5 inch floppy disks! I remember coining the term “disk-drive aerobics”, standing by as the Mac accessed disk one, pop it out, I’d then have to pop in disk two, and repeat, over and over and over, every time I saved! One of the first projects I did was a detailed map of our rail system on Cricket Draw – it took days! I finally finished it and IT WOULD NOT PRINT! Good grief! All that work? Really? That was my rude awakening to Postscript! Fortunately, Cricket was able to convert the graphic to Postscript, so I bought a couple of books on it, read them from cover to cover and changed a comma to a period and lo and behold, IT PRINTED!!! Fortunately software has matured with the leaps and bounds of Mac technology. Lucky for me, I was born to use a Mac! My wonderful career in design and design management was launched and the rest is history. Thank you, Steve Jobs! May you Rest In Peace.

    Now to the task at hand, my good friend Ann, over at Cooking Healthy For Me tagged me in a game to list your three favourite posts, and then to name five bloggers to do the same. Well, I am happy to report, that I have new bloggers in my follow repertoire, so stay tuned!

    Listing my favourite dishes is not as easy as it sounds; I might like the photo, or the recipe, but not both! Decisions, decisions! Ok, here goes:

    All Butter French Croissants

    The all butter croissants. I really like the photo, but to have made actual, real life, French croissants? I must say, I am loving this post (thank you Sawsan, I wouldn’t have done it without your kind words of encouragement!).

    Harira, a traditional Moroccan Soup

    My second choice has to be Harira, a traditional Moroccan Soup. Not withstanding the wonderful flavours in this soup, I really like the photo (I know it’s a bit blown out in the front, but I like it. I’m finally getting the hang of my Canon Rebel. I’ve never used an SLR before this blog!

    Mini Paris Cupcakes

    My Final choice are the mini Paris Cupcakes, mainly because they are so bright and I smile every time I look at them. I would have loved to say a number of other from 2007, 8 and 9, but sadly the photos suck, so I won’t bring them up…but if your are curious, I really loved the following:

    Leak and Potato Capuccino with Gruyére Créme

    Retro Olive Nuggets

    Cottage Paella

    Cheddar and Onion Scones

    Flourless Molten Chocolate Cake

    OK, that’s it. Really. Thank you Ann, for a lovely trip down memory lane…it was a nice journey! I would like to mention that if I have missed you on this round, I am trying to expand the blog-o-sphere and bring on some new bloggers I’ve come across. I still ADORE reading all of the blogs I have grown so attached to. It’s like a cyber family!

    Now for my next nominations:

    1. Dulce Delight A Brazilian young woman living in NYC. I’m not sure if she reads my blog, but I read her’s and it is lovely. She very candidly presents cooking videos from her little apartment in New York. Plus I love her adorable little pocket dog.
    2. Jed at Sports-Glutton is a new reader, but I like his rawness, typical guy recipes. I don’t really read his sports entries, sorry Jed, but I am a girly girl, and have no interest. But I will savor your food posts with vigor!
    3. the Big Fat Noodle is new to my repetoire, but I’m TOTALLY lovin’ her latest halloween posts.
    4. Another new one for me is Cravings of a Lunatic. I find this lady interesting because her “about” claims she doesn’t eat many things, yet her blog is filled with interesting and diverse foods.
    5. And last but not least, Anna at Banana Wonder. She is a very tall Greek woman (see her about). She has tasty recipes and stories to go with them!

    This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving (yay, long weekend!) I would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to give thanks for this year, including my new found friends. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

    Eva

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    Szamárfül was a popular cookie during the second world war in Hungary; my  mom always said it was because it had no eggs, although it does have butter (I don’t really understand the rationale, were eggs harder to come by than butter?). And I am not entirely sure of where the recipe originally came from, it was handed down to me by my mother, she had entered it into her first computer using DOS in the early 80’s and had several printouts which I inherited (I can find no other reference to it on line).

    I posted this recipe quite a few years ago (December 2007), and I really don’t care for the photo anymore, so I decided to re-post with new photos! Tonight I am making the cookies for my nephew (Jack, 11) who adores them — we’re spending Canadian Thanksgiving with his family at their cottage this weekend. His Dad (my brother) is an amazing cook, but hasn’t mastered the art of baking, so every Thanksgiving, I bring about one hundred of these cookies (and believe it or not, they polish them off, lock, stock and barrel!).

    The recipe is really no fail, you just need a little patience. The cookie is a simple yeast dough, with a little butter. It is rolled to about 2mm thick, cut into circles, and a small dollop of jam is placed in the centre. You then take this round cookie and fold it in half, then you pinch the edges tight. The challenge in making these delicious cookies is to pinch them down so the jam doesn’t escape and ‘burn’ while baking. Of course, as children, we always LOVED this melted jam because it caramelized to a wonderful candy coating. The cookie’s sweetness comes from the European Jam (which is generally thicker and with less pectin than the North American jam) and the confectioners sugar coating once they are baked. They are not an overly sweet treat.

    My Kitchenaid set up with the pasta rolling attachment

    A few years ago, I discovered that the thickest roller on my Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Roller attachment is really the best and only way to go — it gives you the most consistent thickness of dough, and it avoids over working it. The dough renders a beautiful, flaky cookie pastry.

    This year, JT offered to help, so I set up two stations on the island, and while I ‘rolled out’ the dough, he cut, filled and pinched. I did my share of cutting, filling and pinching too…but this dough is like the fishes and loaves, it is never ending…you keep taking the leftovers and re-rolling them…never ending! I am so lucky he helped tonight, otherwise it would have taken me a couple of hours to finish (we were done in 45 minutes). He even said he had fun doing this with me :-). His cookies stayed closed better than mine!

    Two workstations set up made the job go much faster

    You see how the jam has caramelized on the edges? That is the best part!

    Donkey Ear Cookies:

    (Szamárfül) makes about 100-130 cookies (we used a 5cm round cookie cutter this time and yielded 102)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
    • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
    • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
    • 240 g unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
    • Thick European jam (we used cherry for this batch)
    • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (for dusting)

    Directions:

    1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, proof for about 3-5 minutes.
    2. In an electric mixer with the scraper hook, mix butter and flour until crumbly. Change to dough hook.
    3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and knead with the mixer until a shiny dough forms.
    4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge overnight if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Allow the dough to get up to room temperature before you begin to work it).
    5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    6. Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness (or #1 of the Kitchenaid Pasta Machine) and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
    7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4 tsp of jam.
    8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really, really, really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
    9. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden), jam may have oozed out, it’s OK, really!
    10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously. Or dip each side into a small bowl filled with icing sugar.
    11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
    12. Enjoy!

    Notes:

    • You may half the dough recipe, I’ve done it several times and you yield about 50 cookies!
    • Dipping your finger in lightly beaten egg whites and running along the outer edge of the rounds before pinching them closed will help keep them closed tight while baking.

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