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Archive for July, 2014

RosemaryThymeCrackers_3407

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cut into shapes using a pizza wheel and a kitchen ruler. (I cut triangles that were around 13cm x 5cm  (5″ x 2″)
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they begin to get a golden tone. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Store in an air tight container.
  7. Serve with your favourite dip or cheese.
RosemaryThymeCrackers_3401

They are strong enough to hold dip.

RosemaryThymeCrackers_3400

I used a lovely peppery Olive Oil (the one that our neighbour Tom’s father bottles from Greece).

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PotatoChips_3280

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!

PotatoChips_3282

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

Ingredients:

  • 2 good size white or red skin potatoes (large diameter)
  • 3 tbsp sea salt (more if you prefer a saltier chip)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (to prevent oxidation)
  • 2-3 L very cold water for soaking

Directions:

  1. Wash potatoes skins well. 
  2. Dissolve the sea salt in very cold water (I used an immersion blender to help dissolve the salt in 1 cup of hot water). Pour into a large bowl of very cold water, add lemon juice and stir.
  3. Working on 1 potato at a time, cut 1 potato in half diagonally; using a wafer thin mandolin slicer, slice from the cut end of each potato tossing the cut slices into the cold salt water bath and allow to sit for 2-4 minutes.
  4. Remove slices from water and lay in one in a single layer on a clean linen cloth (allow to sit for 15 minutes if you have time).
  5. You may spray with some good quality EVOO or leave them plain like I did. 
  6. 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 2 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 remove them so don’t worry if they are a wee bit wobbly, but they shouldn’t be overly wobbly.
  7. Remove from paper towel and cool completely before putting into an air-tight container. Repeat slicing, soaking, drying and cooking until all slices are used up.
  8. When totally cool, store chips in a air tight container.
  9. Serve with your favourite home made dip.
PotatoChips_3278

Chip tower

 

 

PotatoChips_3275

Chip tower down. Mayday. Mayday.

 

Notes:

  • 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

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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.

CreamyRemoulad_3209

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Reserve 6-8 large cabbage leaves for presentation.
  2. Grate the celeriac, carrot, fennel and cabbage using a fine grater, mix well. Set aside.
  3. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, zest and honey and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the dressing with the slaw and serve chilled on a flat plate with the leaves spread around to hold the slaw.
Pulled Pork_3207

Such a cute little slider, don’t you think?

Pulled Pork_3204

I made tiny little pretzel buns for the pulled pork sliders.

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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! 😛

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.

ChilledBakedPotatoSoup_3123

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)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve at room temperature (or reheat), garnished with 1 tsp sour cream, crumbled bacon and chopped green onion.
It really does taste like a baked potato!

A creamy, dreamy room temperature soup. No that’s not a fish bowl back there!

Notes:

  • 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

Based on 4 servings

Using non-vegetarian ingredients

Using non-vegetarian ingredients

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