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Posts Tagged ‘Appetizer’

As you can imagine, I had hoped that winter would be on its way out by our return from Europe last week. Sadly, it wasn’t so. Temperatures, although slightly warmer were still not showing signs of spring. And Facebook was of no help, throwing into my face, a year that the crocus’ were out and the lily of the valley was growing in thickly. No, spring has not sprung — that damn groundhog lied, again.

During these colder days, I like to eat soup so I’ve been creating new flavours since our return. I cobbled together a version of this recipe just before we left and JT liked it so much he asked for it upon our return so I got out my measuring tools and recreated this tasty dish for posterity. To me, lentils have always been paired with warm South Asian spices, more like curries, which we adore but I wanted something different. This soup comes together quickly and is thick and luscious enough to make a meal on its own. It has some nice comforting flavours of roasted garlic and cumin with a beautiful fresh hint of kaffir lime leaves and coconut. I didn’t have time to source fresh Kaffir lime leaves so I used the dry stuff, if you use fresh, you may wish to cut it back a bit, they are meant to be a background note. The lentils purée up creamy and smooth and make a gorgeous luxurious soup. I will serve this at an upcoming dinner party, I know it will be a hit.

Some crispy rice crackers would have made a nice side for this dish.

Thai Inspired Lentil Coconut Soup

Makes about 1.25 L soup

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL coconut oil
  • 130 g sweet onion, chopped
  • 15 mL puréed, roasted garlic
  • 5 mL cumin
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves (mine were dried)
  • 300 g red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 L chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • 250 mL coconut milk
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a Medium Dutch oven. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the roasted garlic and stir until fragrant.
  2. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Dust with the cumin and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add the kaffir lime leaves and the chicken stock and cook until lentils are soft. Remove the kaffir lime leaves.
  4. You can run an immersion blender through the soup, leaving a few chunks for texture or entirely creamy or you may leave it soupy.
  5. Garnish with toasted coconut.

Notes:

  • I usually remove 250-500 mL of the chunky soup and purée the remainder until smooth and creamy and then I add back the chunky bits for texture.
  • Lentils generally thicken as they sit so you may wish to add a bit more stock or coconut milk depending on your preference for the thickness and how long it sits before serving.
  • America’s Test Kitchen recently mentioned that a sprinkle of baking soda on onions as you sauté them will reduce their acidity and make them caramelize quicker. I have been using this technique since I saw it.
  • When I prepped for Anjum Anand, she had me toast the cumin quite a bit, but for me, toasting until fragrant is enough.

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You may recall that I made a version of this recipe in November 2012 but had an unfortunate accident when the entire omelette slid out of the pan and onto the floor! No “three-second rule”, that baby was toast!

Preparing for a recent trip to Spain, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to repost the recipe in its full glory. These creamy little potatoes are the perfect ingredient for this simple but tasty dish. And it’s perfect if you have leftover potatoes. But don’t stop there, even though the potatoes and onion are the traditional tapa, the flavour combos are endless. In fact, I cheated and added a little crispy pancetta for additional flavour.

Spanish Potato Omelette

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes one loaf pan, about 10 cm x 21 cm (4″ x 8.25″), 16 slices

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 200 g potatoes
  • 60 g onion, finely sliced
  • 30 mL roasted garlic
  • 30 g pancetta, finely diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a loaf pan, set aside.
  2. Boil the potatoes until soft. Strain and layout on a cool baking sheet and smash with a fork. Allow to cool completely.
  3. In a small frying pan, over medium heat, sauté the pancetta until crispy, remove and set aside.
  4. Whisk the eggs together, add the roasted garlic and whisk well. Mix in the smashed potatoes, pancetta and raw onions.
  5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, making sure the inclusions are evenly distributed.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until egg is completely set. Cool slightly, run a sharp knife around the perimeter and turn out of the pan. Flip over and slice into even, bite-sized rectangles.
  7. You may serve immediately or cool completely, refrigerate and gently reheat the prior to serving.

Notes:

  • I did not bother to peel the potatoes, I just smashed the little buggers skin and all after boiling.
  • The original Spanish recipe called for the onions to be sweated out beforehand, you can do this, but I found no alteration in the flavour of the omelette so why waste the extra time?
  • You may also serve these with a dollop of sriracha mayo.

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We had a little break from the Christmas rush on boxing day and we made our pilgrimage to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We love to stay at Harbour House because the rooms are nice, the people are wonderful and they have a few perks that we like to take advantage of: a lovely breakfast spread in the morning room, wine and cheese in the lobby between 4-5 every night, free shuttle service to any restaurant within NOTL! During our last night, we dined at The Cannery and I noticed they had a twice-baked soufflé on the menu so I immediately amended our NYE menu to include a twice-baked soufflé.

We had some friends over for New Year’s Eve and I decided to make a tapas evening. We had six courses but were too full so we only had five of them. I spread the evening out as much as possible so we ate from 7:30-10:30. The courses were:

  • Zucchini Fritters with Sriracha Aioli
  • Twice Baked Mushroom Soufflé
  • Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
  • Crab Gyoza with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce
  • Mussels in a White Wine Broth and Baguette
  • Cheese Course (this is the one we saved for the following day).

It was a nice way to spend the evening, just noshing and chatting away. We hadn’t seen these friends since mid-November so we had a lot to catch up on. But there wasn’t a lot of talking during this course. Just eating!

Twice Baked Mushroom Soufflé

Original recipe by Lorraine Elliot of Not Quite Nigella.

Makes about 500 mL (~15 oz)

Ingredients:

  • 15 g butter, plus additional for buttering ramekins
  • 15 g plain all purpose flour
  • 80 g shiitake mushrooms, sliced medium thickly
  • 40 g chestnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 10 mL roasted garlic purée
  • 125 mL milk, heated
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 40 g goats cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
  2. Butter the ramekins well, all the way up the sides. Boil some water.
  3. Dry roast the mushroom slices in a non-stick pan so that they colour a little on both sides and much of their moisture has evaporated. Set aside.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and add the flour all at once. Cook the flour for a minute without burning it. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, it will be very thick.
  5. Chop the slightly cooled mushrooms and add them with the roasted, chopped chestnuts and roasted garlic purée to the roux and whisk well.
  6. Add the egg yolk and stir well to combine. Set aside to cool.
  7. Meanwhile, beat the egg white until stiff but not dry. Take about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites and stir it into the roux mixture to loosen. Fold in the remaining egg whites until well incorporated but not deflated.
  8. Divide the mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake in a bain-marie (this is why you were boiling the water) for 35-40 minutes or until tops are lightly golden (remember, they will be baked again).
  9. Allow to cool in the ramekins for about 5 minutes (they will deflate a bit), then gently loosen sides with a sharp knife and turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool until room temperature.
  10. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator until needed. If you are not going to use it for a few days, wrap each soufflé individually in plastic wrap and then bag in a large ziplock freezer bag. Freeze until required.
  11. To defrost, remove from the freezer the night before it is required and defrost in the refrigerator. The microwave is not suitable for this step.
  12. Lay the soufflés into individual ovenproof dishes and prepare the béchamel finishing sauce.

Ingredients for Béchamel Finishing Sauce:

  • 5 g unsalted butter
  • 15 g all-purpose flour
  • 250 mL milk
  • Pinch of thyme leaves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • season to taste.

Directions for Béchamel Finishing Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan, add the flour and cook the roux without burning for about 1 minute.
  2. Slowly add the milk while whisking to create a smooth sauce, cook until thickened.
  3. Flavour with the thyme leaves and nutmeg.
  4. Pour over the defrosted soufflés in an oven-proof bakeware and bake about 25 minutes in a preheated 350° F (180° C), to heat it through.

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Happy New Year! These shrimp cakes are chuck-full of shrimp, in fact, they are more shrimp than cake! And they are packed with the fresh flavours of ginger, cilantro and green onions which work incredibly well with the sweet succulent shrimp! I had intended on freezing them, but they disappeared too quickly so unfortunately I have no idea how they would perform after being frozen. They really don’t take long to put together and they pan fry so quickly, you could make them up in the morning and hold them in the refrigerator until needed, then reheat them at 250F for about 30 minutes. These luscious babies are definitely going on my New Years Eve tapas menu.

Gluten-Free Vietnamese Shrimp Cakes

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 100-125 mL water
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 30 g coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 10 g fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 30 g green onions, finely sliced
  • 100 g celeriac, finely grated
  • 454 g Raw Shrimp, chopped roughly
  • Grape seed oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs with water and ginger.
  2. In another bowl, combine baking powder, coconut flour and sea salt and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix into a paste.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (cilantro, green onions, celeriac and chopped shrimp and mix well.
  4. Heat grape seed oil in pan (about 1 cm deep). Using a 4 cm cookie scoop, scoop spoonfuls into the hot oil and press down to flatten a bit. Fry each side until golden.
  5. Serve warm with a spicy mayo dipping sauce (125 mL (1/2 cup) mayo with 15 mL (1 tbsp) sriracha sauce).

Notes:

  • You may use a blended gluten-free flour mix instead of just plain coconut flour, but I found the coconut flour flavour works really well here.
  • Don’t like frying? Try baking them in a 350F

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We are knee-deep in entertaining season so I thought I’d share some easy recipes for entertaining. Homemade dips are simple to make and are a million-times better than store-bought dips. I’ve suggested grilling the eggplant for a smoky flavour in my recipe but if your grill is tucked away for the long winter, you can broil them for a similar effect.

Speaking of entertaining, do you own a wood-burning fireplace or know someone who does? Do you struggle to bring wood in from your wood pile when you have friends over? The sawdust and bits of wood alway stick to your clothes and the number of trips in and out is tiring! I have a solution! I’ve created a handy log carrier, hand made by yours truly in Canada! This is the perfect gift for the wood burning fireplace owner! Made of heavy duty denim, with a copper handles, these carriers can hold 12-14 kg (25-30 lbs) of wood, the perfect amount for a roaring fire without breaking your back! They are $60 (Canadian) each or two for $100 (Canadian). Shipping within Canada and to the US is available but you’ll need to contact me before November 23 to make sure you get it by Christmas. Now let’s get busy and make some baba!

Baba Ganoush

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 400 mL dip

Ingredients:

  • 8 small Thai aubergines, halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 15 mL tahini
  • 6 g cumin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Grill aubergines on very hot BBQ, until skin is charred and the flesh is soft (we did ours mostly on the skin side on the BGE).
  1. Roast the garlic in a parchment pouch wrapped in foil. Cool.
  2. Peel the charred skin and away from the aubergine and discard, peel roasted garlic and discard skins.
  3. In the bowl of your food processor, add all of the ingredients and purée until smooth, season to taste.

Notes:

  • I like to toast my cumin for big flavour.
  • Use raw garlic if you wish, we have developed a bit of an aversion to raw garlic so I roast it whenever possible.
  • Use as much olive oil to give you a smooth dip.
  • I would not substitute peanut butter for the tahini in this case.
  • If you like a tarter dip, add more lemon juice.
  • Seeds of the eggplant tend to be bitter, so I’d remove them.

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Late in the summer, I got together with a dear friend whom I haven’t seen in quite some time. We had a long lunch chatting about what’s going on in each of our lives and ended up reminiscing about wonderful vacations we have each had in Spain. Of course, my head goes directly to food and I had couldn’t stop thinking about a spectacular dish we had during one of our first meals in Almaria: a scallop wrapped in Iberian bacon bathed in a corn emulsion! It was out of this world. The delicate flavours worked so well together. I thought this dish could make a lovely starter or a beautiful amuse bouche, appetizer or light main course for the holidays; of course, I put my own little spin on it and it is equally as compelling. In the Notes area, I have made suggestions on how to make this dish vegetarian or vegan.

This scallop wrapped in Iberian bacon bathed in a corn emulsion is the artistic creation of Joseba Anorga Taberna, a contemporary restaurant rated as one of the top ten in Almeria.

Seared Scallops in Creamy Grilled Corn Velouté

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main

Ingredients:

  • 300 g grilled corn (or frozen corn)
  • ~200 mL chicken stock
  • 20 g roasted almonds (with or without skins)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 20 g pancetta, cut into small bits
  • 15 mL grapeseed oil
  • 4-6 large scallops
  • butter
  • 45 mL white wine vinegar
  • Splash of water

Directions:

  1. Rince frozen corn, if using, to defrost. Purée the corn with almonds and the chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved (I used 200 mL for a thicker velouté). Press through a fine sieve to catch all of the corn skins, discard skins. Reserve the creamed corn at room temperature until required.
  2. In a small pan, fry the pancetta in the grapeseed oil until crisp; set on paper towel to remove excess oil. Reserve the pancetta fat (there isn’t much).
  3. Add the butter and reserved pancetta fat to a large cast iron frying pan. Dry the scallops well. When the oil is smoking hot, add the scallops and sear each side without turning or moving. The scallops will release from the pan when they are ready. Flip each scallop only once.
  4. Remove the scallops and cover to keep warm.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar and splash of water, if using and reserve for drizzle (I did not need to add water).
  6. To serve, spoon the corn velouté into shallow bowls (I like a rimmed soup bowl for a main or a small shell dish as an appetizer. Add the hot scallops, sprinkle on the crispy pancetta and drizzle with the deglazing liquid. Serve immediately garnished with shallot curls.

The subtly sweet corn compliments the delicate sweetness of the scallop, and then there is the salty bacon and the acidity of the pan juices. Heaven!

Notes:

  • This dish can easily be made into a vegetarian or vegan by using King Mushrooms instead of scallops as I have done here (they have a similar texture to scallops and will sear just like scallops). Substitute a robust olive oil for the butter and vegetable stock for chicken stock. Obviously, omit the pancetta but sprinkle the finished dish generously with sea salt for balance.
  • Searing is possible only when the scallop or King Mushrooms are perfectly dry, so pat them dry before you cook them.
  • If you are using frozen corn, add a pinch of sweet smoked paprika to emulate the smokey flavour of grilled corn.

This was our actual dinner, it was very tasty indeed.

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I’ve been following “Memorie di Angelina“, an Italian blog by Frank. I like this blog because (like my other favourite Italian blog “from the Bartolini kitchens“), Frank documents authentic Italian recipes with easy instructions and mouthwatering photos. I have been drooling over his recipes all year and during this last summer, I was overwhelmingly inspired to recreate his Frittelle di pasta cresciuta con zucchine (Zucchini Fritters)! Those of you who have been following me for years know that I am not a fan of deep fried food, but once in a while a recipe calls out to me and I am compelled to make it: this is one of them.

These fritters are unlike any fritter that I’ve had; they are soft, pillowy, and slightly chewy, yeasted bread dough balls with delicate shavings of zucchini and thinly sliced shallots (I added the shallots, they were not in the original recipe). They are fried at a slightly lower temperature so they don’t brown quickly and get dark and crusty. The trick is to fry them through without getting them golden like most deep-fried fritters would be. The flavour is a little taste of heaven and if you feel decadent, serve them with a romesco sauce or an aioli (as Frank kindly suggested). I made the recipe as Frank outlined on his beautiful blog and yielded about 41 (may have been 42 — quality control, of course 😉) tasty morsels. I served them 4 per person but you may want to serve the entire batch if your crowd is hungry enough. They freeze beautifully and reheat in a 300° F oven in less than 10 minutes.

The dough is rather shaggy when raw, but using two spoons to portion the little balls (one to portion, the other to push off into the oil), it’s easy and not as messy as I had envisioned. I was quite surprised that I yielded back almost the same amount of oil as before frying, which means the little balls did not soak up much at all — it makes total sense as they didn’t taste oily or deep fried. Each ball swells as it fries and turns into about 1-manly bite or two-lady-like bites, perfect for cocktails. It’ll be some time ’till we drag out the outdoor cushions again but I thought I’d share the recipe for the Holiday season.

Neapolitan Zucchini Fritters

Makes about 40-42 little balls

Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g “00” flour
  • 250 mL warm water
  • 5 g Instant dry yeast
  • 300 g zucchini, shredded
  • 25 g shallot, thinly sliced
  • 5 g salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the yeast with the water and mix well. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover, set aside for 2-4 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the shredded zucchini with a generous amount of salt and set aside for the duration of the proofing of the dough.
  3. Scrape out the zucchini into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. Place the rinsed zucchini into a clean piece of cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the water from it as possible. Sprinkle into the prooved dough and mix well. Add the salt and the shallots and mix well.
  4. Preheat oil to 350° F.
  5. Using two spoons, scoop out a small amount (about a generous teaspoon) and gently push the dough into hot oil, being careful not to splash. Add only a few at a time so the oil doesn’t lose its temperature. Lay the fried balls onto a clean paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve immediately or set aside/freeze and reheat at 300° F for 4-8 minutes.

These are light and flavourful Italian fritters. Do you like my new outdoor cushions and pillows? I made them using my new heavy duty sewing machine!

 

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