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Posts Tagged ‘delicious’

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is one of our absolute favourite quick dinner dishes. I saw a unique method of warming a thick paste of eggs, Pecorino and a little of the rendered Guanciale oil in a bain-marie on Bobby and Giada in Italy at Trattoria Santa Palato. They claim that the eggs won’t scramble as easily because you have more control over the heat with the bain-marie. I am not sure that is true, but it does make a super creamy and delicious sauce. 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a pasta course.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Guanciale, thinly sliced
  • 250 g spaghetti
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 100 g Pecorino, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Cook the Guanciale until crispy, and reserve the fat.
  2. Heat a pot of water for the pasta. In a heat-proof bowl, combine the egg and Pecorino until you get a thick paste. Put the bowl of eggy cheese over the lightly boiling pasta water and whisk until smooth. Set aside, away from heat.
  3. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Use tongs to move the pasta from the boiling water and add it to the warmed egg mixture and mix rigorously until you achieve a smooth sauce, adding pasta water as needed. 
  4. Serve sprinkled with the crispy Guanciale and more cheese if desired.

Creamy, salty and absolutely delicious!

Notes:

  • This recipe uses Pecorino exclusively, but I have seen Pecorino and Parmesan used in various ratios.
  • There are many versions of this recipe on line this is just one of them. The authentic Carbonara NEVER uses cream.

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The weather is still lovely in the big smoke so we continue entertaining on our back deck. I’m always looking for something a little different and these scallion pancakes truly fit the bill. I first saw the recipe on Mi Mi’s blog and was immediately intrigued. Mi Mi’s pancakes were more of a thicker bread and she admitted she had forgotten a final step, so I scoured the internet for “my” recipe. The one I posted below is a compilation of several recipes that I read through. The pancake itself is a very thin, but super flavourful. Crispy, chewy and full of flavour a veritable trifecta! We just had them with a simple dipping sauce and they were absolutely delicious. Thank you Mi Mi for drawing my attention to this tasty treat.

These pancakes are crispy and chewy at the same time.

“Chinese Scallion” Pancakes

Makes 4 pancakes appetizer-sized portions. Don’t kid yourself, you’ll probable eat two.

Ingredients:

  • 150 g AP flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 93 g cold water
  • 6 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
  • Olive oil (enough to coat the pan about 0.5 cm deep)

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and the salt and mix well. Add the water into the centre of the flour mixture and mix until the water is absorbed into the flour. Knead the dough with your hands for 5-7 minutes or until quite elastic. Cover lightly with olive oil and allow to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Divide the dough into two or four equal portions and roll out using the KitchenAid pasta maker to the finest thickness. The dough will be very sticky so flour or grease your surface to prevent sticking.
  3. Sprinkle the sliced scallions (and whatever additional spice, if using) over the rectangle and roll up from the long side. Then, roll the log onto itself like a scroll. Roll the scroll out to about 20 cm diameter. Cook on medium heat until the pancake is golden on both sides. Cut into wedges to serve. Serve with the dipping sauce below.

Dipping sauce ingredients:

  • 15 mL soy sauce
  • 15 mL sesame oil
  • 15 mL Mirin or sweet rice wine
  • Sesame seeds

Dipping sauce directions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and serve with the cooked pancakes.

Notes:

  • You can add a variety of other spices like Chinese Five-spice, Aleppo pepper flakes, or mint to name a few.
  • I used cold water because from what I’ve read, it will make the dough chewy, hot or boiling water will apparently make it crispier. I wanted chewy and figured it would be crispy from the pan frying and I was correct.
  • The green part of the scallion is apparently softer so it won’t poke through the dough but mine did anyway and it did not alter the flavour or texture.
  • Use either flour or oil to prevent this very sticky dough from sticking everywhere. I used flour on this one.
  • To make the rolled dough more manageable, you can roll two smaller lengths and stick them together because when they scroll and you roll them out, you won’t notice a difference.
  • Most recipes call to roll the dough into a circle at first but I wanted a very thin dough so I just made sheets using my KitchenAid pasta machine and it worked out fantastic.

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One of the reasons I had wanted an Instant Pot was to get rid of a few of my small appliances like the slow cooker, air fryer, and rice maker! This recipe uses the instant pot for the rice as well as the chicken. To cook the rice, please see the notes below.

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 200 g chicken Breast, skinless, boneless
  • 30 g Greek yogurt, divided
  • 15 mL roasted garlic purée
  • 2 g oregano
  • 5 g flour
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 15 mL olive oil
  • 15 g butter
  • 50 g sweet onion, finely diced
  • 125 mL water
  • 30 mL cooking Sherry
  • 1/2 a sun-dried tomato, cut into small pieces
  • 5 black olives, sliced
  • 1 artichoke heart, chopped
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Rice for serving, see notes for IP cooking Rice

Directions:

  1. Combine the yogurt, the roasted garlic, oregano and salt and mix well. Spread half of the marinade over the chicken reserving the extra and refrigerate while prepping.
  2. Heat the olive oil & butter on the “Sauté” setting and cook the onions until translucent. Brown the chicken on both sides. Turn off the “Sauté” setting and add the chicken stock with the cooking sherry and the sun-dried tomatoes to release the fond. Put on the Pressure Cooking lid and set the vent to sealing, set the time to 5 minutes. Mix the flour and the lemon zest, into the remaining yogurt mixture. After five minutes, de-pressurize the Instant Pot and add the remaining yogurt mixture with all of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Secure the pressure lid and vent to sealing, set to Pressure Cook for 5 additional minutes. De-pressurize carefully.
  4. After allowing the chicken to rest, slice it and lay it on a plate over rice. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken serve.

Notes:

  • Rinse 100 g (heaping 1/2 cup) of rice in cold water until it runs clear. Add to the Instant Pot. Add 100 g (about 1/2 cup) of cold water or broth to the Instant Pot, add salt and 15 g (1 tbsp) melted butter, and stir well. Secure the pressure cooker lid and turn the pressure knob to the sealing setting. Use the Pressure cook setting on high for 3 minutes, then allow the steam to release naturally (about 10 minutes). Open by pressing the knob to release any extra steam to allow the lid to easily come off. Remove from the IP and set it aside.
  • Adding the sun-dried tomatoes for the initial cook allows the tomatoes to totally soften into the sauce.

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A friend brought us his homemade raspberry jam a few weeks ago and because we don’t eat a lot of jam, I thought I’d make it into these gorgeous squares. The recipe originated from my friend Liz but I just swapped out the caramel for the jam and it worked out beautifully. I made this batch for some friends visiting from Arizona.

Raspberry Crumble Squares

Makes one 22 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) pan

Ingredients:

  • 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla
  • 2.5 mL almond extract
  • 280 g flour
  • 8 g salt
  • 150 mL seedless raspberry jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 359° F. Prepare a 23″ x 33″ cm (9″ x 13″) pan by lining with parchment.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract.
  3. Beat in the flour and salt on low speed until entirely incorporated.
  4. Portion about 2/3 of the flour mixture into the bottom of the pan and press evenly to all sides. Bake for 20 minutes. Refrigerate the remaining pastry.
  5. After you have baked the base pastry, pour the raspberry jam onto the base and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Crumble the remaining pastry onto the top, being careful not to cover it entirely.
  6. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden.
  7. Allow to cool completely and cut into squares or bars.

They look like jewels.

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Summer dinners are often a pain because I just don’t feel like turning the oven on and heating up the kitchen, this is where the Instant Pot really comes in handy. I have the one with the air-fryer lid and it can also act as a broiler, and it’s fast! Easy clean up too. I came up with this recipe for a quick dinner (less than 20 minutes, including the rice in the Instant Pot) and JT said, you should make this again. Always a nice compliment, particularly with fish.

Asian Inspired Instant Pot broiled Cod

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL honey
  • 10 mL rice vinegar
  • 5 mL sambal oelek
  • 8 g white miso paste
  • 3 mL soy sauce
  • 5 g puréed roasted garlic
  • 3 g grated ginger
  • 5 mL toasted sesame oil
  • 20 g Wild Alaskan Cod
  • Rice, mushrooms and peas to serve on

Directions :

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients to form a paste. Brush the paste lightly on the cod and allow to sit for an hour or so; when ready to cook, pour the remainding sauce on the top.
  2. Set the air-fryer basket into the Instant Pot, add the second shelf, and line with parchment. Set the glazed fish on top. Close with the air fryer lid and set to Air Fry for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145° F.
  3. Serve on rice, mushrooms and peas.

 

Notes:

  • Because the air-fryer lid isn’t secured like the pressure cooker lid, I was able to attach a thermometer to the fish and have it notify my phone when it reached the temperature so it doesn’t over cook.

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If it’s a really hot summer’s day and you don’t want to turn on the big oven, this is a great alternative method to roast cauliflower and it’s super easy to clean up. 

Instant Pot Roasted Garlic, Cauliflower Mash

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Cauliflower florets, similar size
  • 15 mL Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Sea salt
  • 250 mL water
  • Butter, cream or chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Drizzle the oil onto the cauliflower so it covers overall. Lay the cauliflower into the air fryer basket, tuck the garlic cloves into the cauliflower. Set the air fryer lid on and choose ‘Roast’, 330° F for 15 minutes. Stir three times during the cooking process.
  2. Pour the cauliflower into the pressure cooking pot and add 1 cup of water. Set the pressure cooking lid on and setting to ‘Pressure Cooking’ for 5 minutes. Depressurize carefully or allow it naturally to depressurize.
  3. When complete, cauliflower should be very soft. Squeeze out the garlic and add to the cauliflower into a glass container. Blend with the immersion blender until smooth adding the remaining water from cooking or butter or cream or stock to achieve the desired consistency. Reheat in the microwave when ready to serve.

A fantastic low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.

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For my birthday, JT gave me an Instant Pot® Duo Crisp with the Air Fryer lid. This was the second thing I made with it. The first thing was the roasted tomatoes (which are EXCELLENT, see notes for directions)! This is a guest-worthy meal, and don’t fret that it’s all in one pot, it’s super easy and much less to clean up.

Tuscan Chicken in the Instant Pot

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 30 g butter
  • 30 mL olive oil
  • 60 g onions, sliced thinly
  • 100 g mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 200 g chicken breast, skinless, boneless
  • 30 g roasted garlic purée
  • 250 mL chicken stock
  • 1 g oregano
  • 1 g Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 120 g penne pasta, uncooked
  • 65 g spinach
  • 50 g roasted grape tomatoes (see notes)
  • 50 mL cream (I used 18%)
  • 50 g parmesan, grated (divided)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and heat the olive oil on the Sauté setting, cook the onions until translucent, add the mushrooms, and wilt.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the pot to brown each side.
  2. Combine the chicken stock and roasted garlic purée with the oregano and pepper flakes and mix well. Pour into the Instant Pot and deglaze to remove any bits that have adhered to the stainless steel. Add the pasta and stir so that it is immersed in the cooking liquid.
  3. Put the lid on securely and make sure the vent is set to “Sealing”. Choose the “Pressure Cook” setting and set the cook-time for 5 minutes at high pressure (this means 6-7 minutes to come to temperature and pressure and 5 minutes cooking time). When the program is complete, release the pressure carefully. Make sure the internal chicken temperature is at 170° F and the pasta is al dente (there should be some liquid in the pot for the sauce).
  4. Remove the chicken breast and allow to rest covered. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté” and add the spinach and roasted tomatoes, stirring to wilt the spinach. Add the cream and heat through. Stir in about 3/4 of the parmesan and reserve the rest for presentation. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the breast and stir it back into the sauce to heat.
  6. Serve immediately with remaining parmesan for garnish.

    The pasta is perfectly cooked.

Notes:

  • You may substitute sun-dried tomatoes for roasted ones.
  • Roasted tomatoes: Slice 75 g of grape tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Squeeze the seeds and juice out (be careful because it can really pop hurling tomato guts everywhere). Toss the halves with 15 mL extra virgin olive oil. Lay the tomatoes in two layers on the bottom rack and top racks of the air fryer basket of your Instant Pot Duo. Cover with the air fryer lid and set the program to dehydrate. This program sets the temperature at 160° F for four hours. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, timing could be less; I found three hours, turning the tomatoes once at around one and a half hours was enough.
  • This recipe is pictured with 500 mL chicken stock, I felt it was too soupy so I reduced the stock to 250 mL, tested it but forgot to take a photo!

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Although Tart Tatin recipes have been featured on this blog a few times (here, here and here), I figured, why not again with different fruit? This time we’re baking Pear Tart Tatin! Dreamy caramel, soft pears and crispy pastry, what more can you want? I borrowed this recipe from Martha Stewart with some minor adjustments. I usually worry that the fruit lets out too much liquid and it won’t be super caramel-y but I needn’t have worried on this one, the pears cook on the stove and finish in the oven. It’s a bit of standing around but you can make it in advance and just serve it at room temperature. 

This tart was perfectly caramelized. What a wonderful dessert.

Pear Tart Tatin

Makes 1 tart about 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 450 g package), thawed in the refrigerator
  • 100 g sugar
  • 8 mL cider vinegar
  • 30 mL water
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 firm, ripe pears, each peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 6 wedges
  • Pinch of cardamon

Directions:

  1. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll out the puff pastry to a 30 cm square and cut into a circle. Refrigerate until required.
  2. In a 30 cm cast iron skillet, combine the sugar, vinegar and water and heat on medium-low heat until golden (about 15 minutes). Stir in the butter and the salt. Add the pears in a decorative pattern and cook in the caramel uncovered for 30-40 minutes (until pears are firm but soft). Sprinkle the cardamon over the pears.
  3. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 375° F. When the pears are ready, add the prepared puff pastry, pushing down the edges to form a “fence”.
  4. Bake covered, for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.
  5. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a decorative plate.

Cooking the pears for an extended period of time made the caramelization absolutely perfect.

Notes:

  • My pears were rather firm so I extended the stove-top-time about 15-20 minutes from Martha’s time. This also allowed the liquid to evaporate so that the sauce is pure, dreamy caramel.
  • I prefer to use all-butter puff pastry.

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Just before we left for Spain, I bought the cutest little loaf pan with the sharpest corners but I didn’t have enough time to try it so it was tucked away until our return at the end of May. I was paging through the Early Summer Edition of the LCBO Food and Drink Magazine when I spotted this cornbread recipe. And the ingredients were easy to half plus I had just enough of the ingredients (like only one egg)!

I have visions of baking nutty crackers in this adorable pan.

Bacon and onions, are a delicious combination.

Bacon and Scallion Cornbread

Makes about 1 small loaf pan, 75 cm x 180 cm (3 inches x 7 inches)

Ingredients:

  • 105 g yellow cornmeal
  • 86 g All-purpose flour
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 10 mL baking powder
  • 2 mL baking soda
  • 5 mL fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 188 mL kefir, well shaken
  • 57 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 15 g green onions, finely chopped
  • 30 g bacon, well cooked and coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and sea salt and whisk well.
  3. In another bowl, combine the egg, kefir, melted butter, green onions, and bacon, and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix just to combine, it will be lumpy.
  5. Tap the pan to remove air bubbles and smooth out the top.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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Upon our return from Spain, I was missing being there so I made the Almond Tuiles of Sevilla (Tejas Dulces de Sevilla). They are delicious but it got me thinking about a savoury version. We had brought home some wonderful cheese called Old Amsterdam and I thought it would make a delicious snack. They are light and airy and crisp. They are strong enough for dip, but tasty on their own. I love how rustic they look from just breaking them apart.

Savoury Cheese Tuiles

Makes about 20 cm x 30 cm sheet

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 30 g cheese (I used Old Amsterdam)
  • 1 g salt
  • 1 g smoked paprika 
  • 50 g flour 

Directions:

  1. Beat the egg until it reaches the ribbon stage (about 5 minutes), add the salt and smoked paprika and mix well, then fold in the flour.
  2. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the cheese over it evenly and bake at 275° F for 20-35 minutes or until it has totally dried out and developed a golden colour.
  3. Cool entirely and once cool break into shards. Serve at room temperature.

 

 

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One of our most memorable meals in Spain was at the beautiful One Star Michelin restaurant in Retama Restaurant within La Caminera Hotel. We should have stayed at the hotel, but we had already booked something in Valdepeñas, a short drive away. We chose The Traditional menu, without wine pairings (I react poorly to some heavier reds and whites aged in oak casks).

As part of a course, we were served a wonderful little bite of Atascaburras, a typical dish of the La Mancha Region. The story goes that two shepherds and their donkeys were isolated after a big snowfall, with only salt cod, potatoes, garlic, and olive oil at hand, and in their desperation, they created this dish to feed themselves and their donkeys over several days until they were rescued. This dish is often eaten during a snowfall and it is said that the water to boil the potatoes and cod in should be freshly fallen snow. Obviously, there was no snow in sight but the story and delicious flavour of these little cod fritters were definitely calling to me. They called them fritters in the restaurant but they were not deep-fried, I suspect the chef used a Takoyaki pan to sear the small balls. We were served one each. Traditionally, this dish is usually served on a platter with bread or crackers. Since I don’t have a Takoyaki pan, I chose to serve it as a dip. In modern times, a boiled egg is used to garnish the dip but it was not traditional. I chose to use a hard-boiled egg yolk, grated on top of the dish as a garnish.

The atascaburras was served as a round ‘fritter’

Atascaburras

Makes about 500 mL dip

Ingredients:

  • 300 g potato (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 300 g salt cod, soaked and rinsed several times over 48 hours
  • 130 mL olive oil
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 egg yolk, hard-boiled
  • Red pepper oil

Directions:

  1. Cook the cleaned but unpeeled potato in water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the prepared salt cod and cook an additional 10 minutes. Reserve the water.
  2. Add both the cod, potato and garlic to a blender (I used a magic bullet because it really emulsifies beautifully). Add the olive oil and emulsify, adding a little of the reserved water to make a smooth, creamy dip. Taste and salt if necessary.
  3. Place in an oven for 15-20 minutes on 250° F to just warm up. Serve in a low-sided dish with grated egg yolk as garnish and sprinkled with a little red pepper oil.

No, that is not cheese, it’s grated hard-boiled egg yolk.

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As our time in Spain was dwindling in late May, I began to think more about using up pantry items. Here is another recipe that was created to use up pantry ingredients I purchased for our time in Spain. I wanted to use up the flour, sugar and a lime that I had sitting around. Unfortunately, I had only a little butter that I needed for the remainder of the week so I improvised and used reduced table cream. I figured if you could make cookies using olive oil, then you should be able to make cookies using cream, but I only had table cream which is generally about 18% fat so I reduced it about half in volume which I was hoping would give me about 36% fat or at least more than 18%. The cookies turned out delicate, not crumbly and slightly chewy. JT thought some coconut would be lovely in them so perhaps I’ll try that next time. I would have liked a little more lime flavour so I upped the zest in the recipe below because I only had one lime, two I think, would be perfect.

A deliscious, chewy cookie.

Lime Sugar Cookies

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 24 cookies about 5 cm in diameter

Ingredients:

  • 270 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 2.5 g kosher salt
  • 251 g granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 78 g reduced table cream (see notes)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2.5 mL vanilla extract
  • 15 mL lime juice 
  • Zest of 2 limes

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, table cream, eggs, vanilla, lime juice and zest and mix well.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and just fold in so that there is no visible flour. Set in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Drop about 15 mL cookies (about a tablespoon) onto a parchment-lined sheet bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Notes:

  • For the table cream in this recipe, pour 250 mL table cream into a heavy bottom saucepan and reduce on high heat until about half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally so it doesn’t over boil. Cool completely.

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Sometimes it’s just the simplest things that are the best. While we were in Spain, we had a lot of tapas, they serve tapas every time you order a glass of vino. Sometimes it is as simple as delicious olives, or sometimes it’s a little ham sandwich. While we were in Granada, we slipped into this adorable little bar and ordered a couple of glasses of vino with some tapas. Before we even had our first sip, they brought out a good quantity of homemade potato chips and these little round sandwiches (about 7-10 cm in diameter). If we hadn’t already ordered a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, we would have been done! And they would not have been offended. This is Spain, where a glass of good quality wine is €3.50 (less than $5) AND it comes with food! And there is no expectation of tipping, most restaurants add a small service fee per person so you needn’t worry about it.

We were sitting at home one evening when we decided to have a glass of vino and JT asks what we were having for hors d’œuvres! I had to scramble a bit because I hadn’t pre-made anything for the freezer but I did have some incredible peppers (did I mention how wonderful vegetables taste in Spain?) so I sliced them thinly and sautéed them and presented them with some toasted Spanish pine nuts. They were fantastic! So simple. If you’re serving a crowd, you might want to add a splash of red wine and some sliced chorizo, served with crusty bread of course. This is definitely going into my repertoire because I always have peppers at home.

I haven’t stipulated quantities because it’s what you have on hand. I used about a half of pepper each of the red and yellow and about 1/4 of an onion.

These are some of the sweetest peppers we’ve ever tasted.

Sautéed Peppers with Pine Nuts

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

 Ingredients:

  • Red peppers, deveined and seeded, cut into strips
  • Yellow peppers, deveined and seeded, cut into strips
  • Onion, thinly sliced
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Pine Nuts, toasted
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Ingredients:

  1. Sauté the onions and peppers in a splash of olive oil. Add the chorizo and red wine, if using
  2. Sprinkle with pine nuts, salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.

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I always create a menu plan for every week and when we arrived in Spain, it was no different. I like to schedule meals out in a restaurant but if they don’t work out, I also like to have something easy to fix on hand, dried cheese tortellini was one of these things. We had been out for lunch at one of our favourite Italian places and the couple at the table next to us ordered the fried cheese tortellini and I was inspired, they looked so delicious. I have made fried pasta before but used North American dried pasta and it wasn’t good, they were too thick and ended up really hard and difficult to eat so I didn’t bother posting about them. These little gems are different, they are crispy, chewy little parcels filled with cheese! They are wonderful. I tested up a batch of 18 and found them quite successful so I fried up the entire package! I froze them for when we reunite with our dear friends Paul and T from Arizona, they came for a visit in early May. Just pop them onto a parchment-lined baking pan and bake at 350° F for about 10-12 minutes. Serve with salsa, romesco sauce or any one of your favourites. Make sure you make a bunch because they are addictive.

They are crispy and chewy little parcels of deliciousness.

Crispy Fried Cheese Tortellini

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes as many tortellini as your package has.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dry cheese-filled tortellini, cooked through
  • 500 mL high flash-point oil
  • dipping sauce, your choice

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil to 350° F
  2. Fry only 5-6 at a time until golden, place on an absorbant cloth to soak up any excess oil.
  3. Serve warm with your favourite dipping sauce.

Notes:

  • Cook your pasta to slightly overdone, this will provide the best crunch.
  • Cook your pasta in advance so that you can totally drain them and allow them to slightly dry out on a paper towel or parchment (this will prevent the oil from splashing when the water hits it).

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You may have noticed from my other socials that we have escaped Toronto and finally headed to Spain. Our first trip in February was cancelled by you know what. We are here for 51 days. The sun and relative warmth have been life-altering. I wake up just to see the sunrise on the Mediterranean (it’s not that bad, 7:30-ish during our stay).

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Our kitchen in the flat (my cousin’s flat) is challenging from a size point. I have fitted it with most of my favourite tools so I can do most things but finding a place to do them can be a challenge. Most people who rent do take away or go out to one of the many restaurants in this little village. The Spaniards like to eat late (9pm would be considered an early dinner) but I find it difficult to eat that late, so we end up going out for lunch and having a light dinner around 7pm. Although the first few attempts to lunch were failures as many places don’t open until at least 1:30 (we don’t eat breakfast) and they close between 2-5pm for Siesta. Don’t get me started on Siesta, it is a beloved ritual in the smaller centres. This little recipe was developed to take us through cocktails one evening. 

Retro Olive Balls

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 8 pastry-wrapped olives

Ingredients:

  • 15 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 60 g cheese, we used manchego
  • 60 g flour
  • 15 g roasted garlic purée
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • water to bind
  • 8 olives

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine everything but the olives in the small bowl of a food processor and process until combined. If the dough still doesn’t come together, add a few drops of water and pulse until it comes together.
  3. Divide the dough into eight equal portions. Roll each portion into a small circle and wrap around each olive, rolling in your hand until it is smooth. Repeat until all of the olives are wrapped.
  4. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until golden, serve warm.

A delicious buttery pastry enveloping a Manzanilla Olive.

Notes:

  • I used unpitted Spanish Manzanilla Olives because it is what I had at home, black olives or even pimento-stuffed olives would be lovely with this recipe. Make sure you mention to your guests that the olives are with pitts.
  • Double or triple this recipe for more tasty little balls.

 

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Sometimes we need a little more fibre in our diets. We’re in Spain! Woohoo! We have been here for about a month now, enjoying the sunshine and warmth. In fact, as I type this post (around the 19 of April), Toronto had some snow! Yes, my dear friends messaged me about it! But we have been watching the weather on our security cameras anyway. Snow. I haven’t worn socks in a month!

I’ve been developing this recipe for a couple of years and I think this is it. It’s a lovely combination of sweet, salty and crunchy. 

A lovely combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy.

High Fibre Granola Bars

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes one 23 cm (9 inch) square pan

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Rolled Oats
  • 100 g Wheat Bran
  • 100 g Sunflower seeds
  • 50 g pumpkin seeds
  • 100 g sliced almonds
  • 105 g honey
  • 105 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 g salt

Directions:

  1. Toast everything but the honey, butter and salt at 250F for 30 minutes, stirring 3-4 times.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the honey, butter and salt and mix well.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 350F. Transfer the oat mixture to a bowl and pour the honey mixture into it. Mix well to coat everything. Press the mixture firmly into a parchment-lined 9” x 9” baking pan and bake until golden 13-15 minutes. Cut into bars while warm. Cool on parchment. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze for longer.

Notes:

  • This recipe doubles very well.
  • If you don’t toast the mixture first, you’ll probably get a chewy bar instead, although I haven’t tried it yet.

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Truth be told, I re-invented some leftover devilled eggs into this deluxe egg salad. The creamy egg yolks made perfectly rich and luscious creamy egg salad. I upped the ante by adding a small, ripe avocado. Winner, winner, egg salad!

I think I’ll make egg salad this way all the time.

Deluxe Egg Salad

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes enough for 2 large croissant sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 4 left over devilled egg halves (see notes on how I jazzed these up), roughly chopped
  • 2 additional hard-boiled egg, roughly chopped
  • 15 mL mayonnaise
  • 5-10 mL lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ~10 cm of cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 small, ripe avocado, finely diced
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the devilled egg filling with the additional hard-boiled egg yolk with the mayo and lemon juice, whisk well.
  2. Stir the scallions, cucumber and avocado together, mixing well. Spoon the egg yolk sauce over the eggs and fold in, completely mixing with the eggs.
  3. Serve in a croissant with additional finely chopped scallions as garnish.

Delicious stuffed into a croissant.

Notes:

  • When I made the devilled eggs, I whipped the yolks with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and room temperature goats cheese and a little finely chopped scallions. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Salmon Wellington

I came up with this recipe for some friends we were having over at the end of January. It was so successful, I’ve made it six times since. I’ve even changed it up with a Chicken Cordon-Bleu and it’s lovely. I find 50-60 grams of protein are plenty because there is a little topping and the pastry is very filling. Depending on what’s inside, you may or may not even need a sauce.

The cracked pastry does not take anything away from the wow factor of this dish.

Salmon Wellington

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 15 g onion
  • 50 g baby spinach
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 65 g goats cheese, room temperature
  • 5 g roasted puréed garlic
  • Salt, pepper and dill to taste
  • 120 g Wild Pacific Salmon, skin removed
  • 1/2 a sheet of puff pastry
  • 1/2 egg, whisked

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F
  2. Sauté the onion and spinach in the olive oil until the onion is translucent and the spinach has wilted, set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the sautéed vegetables, goats cheese, roasted garlic and season with salt, pepper and dill.
  4. Layout the puff pastry and cut it into two rectangular pieces, roll out to be able to cover the entire fish.
  5. Divide the goat cheese mixture between the two puff pastry and spread out in about the same shape as the salmon. Lay the salmon on top and fold the puff pastry over so the side overlap and you can pinch them closed. Flip over and pinch the ends closed. Use a fork to create a strong seal on the ends and score the top. Brush tops with the egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is about 135° F.
  6. Serve immediately.

We prefer wild caugh Pacific salmon because it is brightly coloured and has great salmon flavour.

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I saw this Nigella Lawson recipe on my friend Mimi’s socials and in reading Nigella Lawson’s description of it made me want to try it. I was able to source the Aleppo pepper flakes at my favourite spice store in Kensington Market, Carlos’ House of Spice. I called it Turk-ish because I altered the recipe somewhat but you can click on the original here.

Creamy and tangy against the rich Aleppo butter sauce.

The Aleppo pepper flakes are not burning hot, there is mild heat but even I can take it so it’s pretty mild. It has a lovely fruity taste that comes through in the nutty brown butter. The tangy yogurt is beautifully mellowed by the brown butter sauce. It’s a lovely dish that is totally guest-worthy.

Turk-ish Eggs

Please click here for the original recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL Plain Greek yogurt
  • 10 g roasted garlic purée
  • 2-4 g Sea salt flakes or kosher salt
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 15 mL extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-5 g Aleppo pepper/Turkish red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 10 mL lemon juice, divided
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed with a fork
  • Toasted bread

Directions:

  1. Whisk the yogurt and roasted garlic in a bowl over a bain-marie and gently warm the yogurt, set aside.
  2. Warm two bistro bowls.
  3. Melt the butter and gently cook until the milk solids turn golden brown, remove from the heat and stir in the olive oil, Aleppo pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  4. Gently bring a low-sided pan, filled with water to a light boil and turn it down so there are no visible bubbles. Meanwhile, crack each egg into a fine-mesh sieve and allow the loose whites to drain away, slide into a ramekin. Add 5 mL lemon juice into each ramekin with the drained egg. Gently lower each egg into the simmering water and cook until desired consistency (we love runny yolks 3-5 minutes).
  5. To serve, divide the yogurt into the two bowls evenly spoon the mashed avocado into the centre. Place a poached egg on top and drizzle with the Aleppo butter sauce. Serve with lots of toast.

Notes:

  • The addition of avocado is not authentic in this recipe, I had a half that needed using. It was a beautiful creamy texture against the yogurt.
  • If you think two slices of toast will do, make two more, you’ll need it to soak up the yogurt-butter-egg sauce!

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I haven’t made Tiramisu in ages and when I saw my friend Lauraine’s Beeramisu pop up on her socials I was sold! Plus I needed a dessert to bring with us to a dinner party at a friend’s place. Our friends are not big coffee lovers but they love beer so I knew this would be perfect immediately! I didn’t have a chocolate porter but I did have some Vanilla Porter that I knew would work. None of us like a super-rich or sweet dessert so I cut some sugar and eggs down a bit and I still got two desserts out of this recipe. Thank you, Lorraine, for the recipe and inspiration.

Vanilla Porter Beer-amisu

For the original recipe, please click here.

This recipe makes one loaf pan about 9 cm wide x 20 cm long x 6 cm tall AND an 18 cm diametre round pan.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75 g sugar
  • 360 g mascarpone, placed at room temperature for an hour
  • 400 mL whipping cream
  • 5 mL vanilla 
  • 150 mL vanilla porter or stout beer, chilled
  • 28 sponge fingers (around 230g/8.1ozs)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions:

  • Combine the egg yolks with the sugar in a double boiler and whisk until the sugar has melted and the eggs have thickened about 10 minutes. Allow to completely cool.
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form, not stiff peaks
  • When the egg mixture has cooled, whisk the mascarpone into the egg mixture until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream.
  • Prepare your pans by lining them with plastic wrap. Dip each sponge finger into the porter quickly (you don’t want it soaked). 
  • Place a smooth layer of the mascarpone on the bottom of each pan then begin lining the bottom with the dipped sponge fingers until the bottom layer has been filled. Add another layer of the mascarpone and repeat with the sponge fingers. I got two layers in each vessel. Pull up the plastic wrap and fold it over so the Beer-amisu doesn’t dry out in the fridge. Allow to rest in the fridge for 2 days.
  • When ready to serve, open the plastic wrap and tip the container onto a serving dish so that the top is the bottom and the bottom is the top. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve in slices.

This is the unromantic shot in the pans. I’m going to freeze the round one for future use.

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We’re getting into patio season here in the Big Smoke and patio season means glasses of vino and cocktails with friends on our cozy covered patio. I never like to serve alcohol without something to nosh on and I had a couple of dips in the freezer that needed a little flatbread. This recipe whipped up very quickly and because it is not a yeasted dough, no rising was required. They do puff up quite a bit, so roll them on the thinner side.

Quick & Easy Flatbread

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 4 flat breads about 20 cm (8 inches) in diametre

Ingredients:

  • 300 g “00” flour
  • 8 g baking powder
  • 2 g baking soda
  • 160 g Greek yogurt
  • 20 g olive oil
  • 45 g water
  • 125 mL olive oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients well; combine the wet ingredients and whisk well. Combine the dry and the wet and kneed for a minute or two.
  2. Divide into four equal balls (mine were 133 g) and roll out to about.5 cm thick.
  3. Heat the olive oil to 350° F and fry each side of the flatbreads until the inside temperature is 150° F. Cool on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Serve warm or grilled and cut into wedges.

Notes:

  • Freeze cooked flatbreads in a ziplock bag.

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My brother loaned us his cottage for the last week of January. Yes, it is a lot colder up there but it is extremely beautiful with the pristine, sparkling snow and the occasional visit from wildlife. I needed to clean out the fridge before we left and created this tasty and satisfying soup. Pair it with a scone or grilled cheese and you have the perfect winter-time lunch. The measurements are not important here because I was just using up some less-than-perfect produce, it’s just an inspiration for future soups.

JT bought me the KitchenAid Vegetable Sheet Cutter to help me cut down our carbs so I had a lot of zucchini cores leftover which played right into this delicately flavoured soup. I was going to add cream but then I had a very ripe avocado that would meld perfectly into this winter meal.

Celery, Zucchini, and Avocado Cream Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1.45 L soup

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL EVOO
  • ~ 1/2 a bunch of celery, roughly chopped
  • ~ 1 zucchini, roughly chopped
  • ~ 1 small Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-10 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 L chicken stock
  • 1 small Avocado, peeled and pitted
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the EVOO, add the celery, zucchini, onion, and parsley, and cook until softened. Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are very soft. Add the avocado.
  2. Blitz with your immersion blender or allow to cool and purée with a Nutri Bullet or VitaMix for a smooth and creamy soup. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the celery ‘hairs’.
  3. Serve hot.

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I started watching a couple of Ontario-guys on Facebook who try to prove or disprove crazy videos they’ve seen, mostly of food but it can also be science or cleaning and such. They are a bit goofy which makes them rather charming. Their girlfriends sometimes participate in these videos by making some outlandish foods. This traditional Georgian potato, cheese-stuffed bread was one of them. The recipe looked so good, I had to do a little research and make my own. Their recipe was fairly straight forward using baking powder and not yeast bread dough, but the research showed that most of the recipes were yeasted bread dough, so I went with that. Then I found a few that had egg in them which gives the bread a wonderful, chewy texture. Then there is the mashed potato and cheese stuffed inside. OMG, so good. My recipe makes four disks about 20 cm in diametre, cut into eight portions.  The bread freezes very well. Remember to put it in the refrigerator overnight to defrost, then allow it to come to room temperature before baking. We went through two bad boys in two days and I sent a third one to a friend who was going to visit her parents! The fourth one is under lock and key in the freezer, I’m saving it for a special time! I will definitely be making this recipe again and again!

Soft, pillowy mashed potatoes with the sharp feta (or goat) and gooey mozzarella makes for a more-ish starter.

Kartofdzhyn (Cheese and Potato Stuffed Bread)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 4 stuffed bread rounds about 20 cm (8 inches) each

Ingredients for the Bread:

  • 6 g quick yeast
  • 8 g granulated sugar
  • 120 mL milk, at 110F
  • 460 g bread flour
  • 6 g salt
  • 215 g Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil for the dough
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked for brushing the dough

Directions:

  1. Combine the yeast and sugar with the warm milk and allow to proof for about 10 minutes (it should froth up)
  2. Add the flour and salt to the large bowl of your stand mixer and mix lightly.
  3. Combine the Greek yogurt and eggs with the frothy yeast mixture and whisk until well combined.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour and knead with the hook for 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then resume kneading for about 15 minutes or until the dough comes away from the bowl.
  5. Coat the dough with olive oil and allow to proof for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 2 medium yellow potatoes (about 230 g), boiled
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 g roasted garlic purée
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 100 g feta cheese or goats cheese
  • 230 g mozzarella
  • 6 g salt

Directions:

  1. Mash the potatoes with butter and roasted garlic, then beat with a whisk beater until light and fluffy. Fold in the scallions, cheeses, and salt and set aside.

Directions for the dough disks:

  1. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Roll out each portion evenly to a circle about 25 cm (10 inches). 
  2. Add one-quarter of the filling to the centre of each round and pull in each side to form a sealed disk. Flip over and gently roll out to about 20 cm (8 inches). Pierce the top of the disk with a fork and brush each dough disk with the egg yolk. Set aside while the oven preheats or freeze on a baking sheet and transfer to a plastic zip-lock bag for the future.
  3. If baking at the moment, put a cast-iron pan into the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Add one disk to the hot pan and bake for 20 minutes. When done, remove from the heat and brush the top with some more olive oil. Serve warm.

 

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I usually make my scones and biscuits with my handy food processor but I have to say that these freehand scones will change my method for all my future scones. For what I save in time, I sacrifice in cleaning time and most importantly, texture of the scones. These scones are light, airy, filled with gooey cheese and scallions. They are great with soup or a stew. Serve them warm with fresh butter.

This post was created on a blistery, cold day in latter January. We just had received about 50 cm (20 inches) of snow in a period of 24 hours. We must have a VIP living on our street because the damn snowplow came down our street four times, depositing a heavy mess of snow at the end of the driveway. Honestly, the last two times were ridiculous, there was hardly any new snow on the road! This was one of the sunniest days we’ve had so far, the sun reflected in the new white snow and  I just had to take advantage with the photos.

Freehand Kefir, Scallion, and Cheese Scones

Original recipe from Jean Paré’s Company’s Coming Muffins and More cookbook

Makes 8 large wedges

Ingredients:

  • 240 g All-Purpose Flour
  • 16 g baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 150 g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 57 g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 100 mL kefir (and extra kefir for brushing tops)
  • Parmesan, finely grated for sprinkling on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, with the butter and manually cut like you would pastry dough. When it is slightly smaller than pea-sized bits, add the shallots and cheese and mix.
  3. Combine the kefir and the egg and whisk until frothy. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Turn dough out to a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice, just enough to pull it together. Roll out to a round shape and cut 8 wedges to make. Brush tops with kefir and sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with butter.

Tender and delicate scone with lots of cheese and scallions.

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We usually have small quantities of a lot of different produce leftover as we approach shopping day, you know, a little of this, a little of that. That is where this bowl came from — it was an inspiration to use up the small portions of veggies before they were past their prime. The recipe is just whatever you have on hand, so I have not posted actual quantities, but there is no denying that this bowl is a keeper! It’s filled with flavour, texture, crunch against the creaminess of the avocado dressing. 

Lots of flavours and textures make up this tasty bowl.

Green Goodness Bowl

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Greens, shredded
  • a handful of Chickpeas, cooked
  • about half a Mango, small dice
  • 1/2 Avocado, small dice 
  • Cheese, small cubes
  • a handful of Pearl barley, cooked
  • a handful of vinegar coleslaw
  • a couple of good pinches of Sunflower Seeds, toasted

Directions:

  1. Place the greens at the base of the bowl and add each ingredient on top, into its own quadrant, leaving the sunflower seeds to garnish after you have dressed your bowl.
  2. Dress with the avocado dressing (recipe below) and garnish with the sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.

A delicious combination that is satisfying.

Green Goodness Dressing

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes enough dressing for 2 bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • ~ 15 mL mayonnaise
  • ~ 15 mL greek yoghurt
  • ~ 15 mL lemon juice
  • pinch of tarragon
  • water, to thin

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients with the exception of the water to a tall, thin jar made for your immersion blender and blend until smooth adding water, little by little to make it loose enough to pour.

Notes:

  • It is more flavourful to have sweet, salty and savoury things. 
  • I like to toast the barley for a nuttier flavour when cooked.
  • Alternatives to mango: craisins, raisins, grapes.
  • Alternatives to chickpeas: lobster meat, crab meat, tuna, chopped ham, edamame.
  • Alternatives to barley: rice, bulgar, Isreal couscous, couscous.
  • Additions: peas, corn, diced peppers.
  • Alternatives to sunflower seeds: pepitas, roasted walnuts, roasted peanuts.

 

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Way back in January, we were getting some seriously cold temperatures. I had a ham bone leftover from Christmas Eve that I wanted to use and what better use is a rib-sticking split pea soup? I was able to get 6-8 portions out of the soup, about 250 mL or a cup each, it’s pretty thick. The soup is fairly filling so if you want to make it last a little longer, add a bit more stock to thin it down.

Fall Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • 175 g finely chopped onion
  • 100 g celery, diced
  • 100 g carrots, diced
  • 65 g pancetta, cut into small slices
  • 20 g garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 cumin
  • 1”5 g smoked paprika
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 430 g split peas
  • 175 g cooked ham, diced
  1. In a pressure cooker cook the pancetta until crispy then add the onions and until translucent.
  2. Add the split peas and sautée for a minute.
  3. Add the garlic and cumin and sautée for about 30 more seconds (or until you can smell the aroma), add the ham, water and stock. Now add the paprika and cinnamon stick.
  4. Seal the cover and cook under pressure for 45 minutes or until the split peas have softened (I use a fairly low setting). You should check the water level twice during the process to make sure it hasn’t boiled down to nothing, stir. If the liquid is too reduced, add more.
  5. Serve with a dollop of low fat Greek yogurt and home made bread.

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It’s been wickedly cold here, and by wickedly cold, I’m talking -21° C or -5.8° F! I have only been able to think about soup. I love brothy soups but JT is not as much of a fan, he prefers creamed soups so I like to mix it up. I had purchased too much broccoli for Christmas day dinner so I had a small crown leftover along with a not-so-perfect-looking romaine, so this recipe was a result of these two leftovers.

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes just over a litre of soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
  • 15 mL EVOO
  • 1 fist-sized head of broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 L chicken stock
  • 5 cm x 5 cm Parmigiana rind, cut into smaller pieces
  • 30 g of cheddar, shredded
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a hot pan, cook the onion in the olive oil until translucent, add the broccoli and romaine lettuce and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the Parmigiana rind and simmer for about an hour or until everything has softened.
  2. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If using a traditional blender, allow to cool a bit so the steam doesn’t blow off the lid.
  3. Serve with some shredded cheddar sprinkled on top.

Notes:

  • The romaine didn’t end up adding much flavour but it did help with thickening.
  • Use vegetable stock if making vegetarian.
  • The Parmigiana also helps to thicken the soup.
  • I used both orange and white cheddar because that is what I had.

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For New Year’s Eve, I made several tapas to feed us through the evening and this sauce was one that accompanied some lamb Spiedini that JT barbequed on the Big Green Egg. But it would be equally as delicious with shrimp. It’s not overly minty, which I prefer, it’s just minty enough.

Herbaceous Mint Sauce

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Ingredients:

Makes about 125 mL sauce

  • 10 g fresh parsley
  • 20 g fresh cilantro
  • 5 g mint
  • 10 g roasted garlic purée
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 45 mL white Balsamic
  • 65 mL EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor and process until the herbs have been chopped up but not puréed. 

Notes:

  • Do not refrigerate if serving the same day. If you wish to make the sauce in advance, refrigerate it covered but remove it from the fridge about 4 hours prior to serving so that the olive oil can come to room temperature otherwise, it congeals and it’s not pretty nor with the herbs have their best flavour.

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NOTE:

I have been alerted that there may be a problem commenting through Facebook or Twitter, I am looking into it. Thank you A.

We hosted another couple for New Year’s Eve, it was supposed to be two couples but, you know, Covid; the other couple cancelled because they were not comfortable in coming over by transit (they don’t have a car any more) not because they had it. I made a series of tapas for the evening to tried and spread out the night as much as possible and one such dish was a replica of a burrata dish with golden beat carpaccio that we have had on several occasions at a local Italian restaurant. They serve it with the lightest, fluffiest focaccia so I, of course, had to recreate it. The crust is only slightly crispy, just like theirs, which I achieved by brushing the top with water about 5 minutes before the timer finished.

A deliciously chewy and flavourful bread.

No Knead Olive Oil Focaccia

Ingredients:

  • 670 g Italian “00” Flour
  • 10 g instant yeast
  • 10 g milk powder
  • 15 g salt
  • 10 g Fleischmann’s Bread Booster
  • 500 mL warm water
  • 60 mL Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus additional for drizzling)

Directions:

  1. Spray a 28 cm x 39 cm pan with cooking spray or EVOO and drizzle an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of EVOO on the bottom.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the olive oil to the warm water and mix vigorously. Pour the olive oil water into the dry ingredients and whisk vigorously with a Danish Dough Whisk until entirely combined. The dough should appear very loose and shaggy.
  3. Allow to rest in a warm dark place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  4. When doubled, pour the dough into your prepared pan and spread it out as evenly as you can pressing your fingertips into the dough to achieve the traditional pock marks on a focaccia. Pour another 45 mL Extra Virgin Olive Oil onto the top. Allow to rest another 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. After dough has rested, bake for 30 minutes or until golden. If you prefer a chewier crust, brush the top occasionally with water. Allow to cool slightly before slicing into it. 
    1. This is the Danish Dough Whisk I use.
    2. Use a flavourful Olive Oil.
    3. Bread freezes very well. Make sure you take out as much air from the bag as possible.

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My besty from uni is gluten intolerant and allergic to soy! It’s always a bit of a challenge cooking Asian foods because of the soy allergy but I try to be inclusive and make something special for her if she can’t eat my dish. One such occasion was Christmas day, I served Gyoza as the hors d’œuvres and I made her a special gluten-free version. Had I known how good the gluten-free version would turn out, everyone would have had it. The dipping sauce I usually serve with them has soy in it so I wanted to make a special sauce without soy so my friend can enjoy it too. This imposter has the forward saltiness and a bit of sweetness with a finish of umami from the Nori that actual soy sauce has. It turned out very well, in fact, I will make only one sauce with this soyless soy sauce that everyone can enjoy!

Soyless Soy Sauce (soy-free, gluten-free)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 30 mL sauce

Ingredients:

  • 5 mL molasses
  • 375 ml water
  • 2 g black garlic salt (I used this one)
  • 3.5 dried black fungus
  • 3 g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 0.5 g Nori Seaweed

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the Nori in a small saucepan and bring to s boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until reduced to about 30 mL.
  2. Remove mushrooms and reserve for another use. Strain the liquid and add salt and pepper to taste. add the nori seaweed and immerse entirely, refrigerate with nori for 1 day.
  3. Strain Nori and the sauce is ready for use.

This imposter has the forward saltiness and a bit of sweetness with a finish of umami from the seaweed that actual soy sauce has.

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I was finishing off making some spanakopita with store-bought phyllo pastry and had run out of the pastry with enough filling to make about 4 additional pieces (don’t you hate that?) so I decided to try my hand at a quick phyllo dough. It worked out extremely well so I thought I’d document the process. It’s getting dark so early these days, so you’ll need to excuse the horrible light in my photos.

Quick Phyllo Pastry

Makes about 4 sheets 15 cm x 30 cm (enough for 4 triangles)

Ingredients:

  • 50 g all-purpose flour (10.5 ounces)
  • 15 mL olive oil
  • 2.5 mL red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 g salt
  • 25 -45 g water

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together until you get a uniform, soft dough that does not stick. Knead for a few minutes. Set aside, wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide into two equal balls and roll out, thin enough to see through. I used my KitchenAid pasta maker to the thinnest setting.
  3. Use in your favourite phyllo recipe.

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We were having a friend over for dinner and I needed a quick and easy dessert and it can’t get any quicker or easier than this old recipe. I love it because it is per person so you can scale it up or down very easily. I’ve made as many as twelve and as few as one!

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Makes 1 80 mL portion (per person recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 60 mL milk or cream per person
  • 80 g sugar per person
  • 3 mL vanilla bean paste per person
  • Pinch of Tonka Bean, finely grated
  • 1 egg yolk per person
  • 5-10 g per person of sugar to brûlée

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275° F.
  2. Combine everything but the 5-10 g of sugar for the brûlée and whisk until smooth. Pour equal amounts into 100 mL bowls and set the bowls into a bain marie in a larger baking pan.
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until it is set in the centre. Allow to cool completely. 
  4. When ready to serve, sprinkle the sugar onto the top and spread by tapping and twirling the bowl evenly. Using a torch, caramelize the sugar and allow to cool. Serve when sugar has hardened.

 

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I really wanted to class-up these lovely little single-bite gingerbread cakes, so I called them Petit Fours, if it’s not a celebration you want to serve them at, just call them two-bite Gingerbread Cakes. They are warmly spiced, light, somewhat chewy, little gingerbread cakes with a slightly crispy exterior which makes them perfect for ganache. They are always a hit. I made them for a few dinners over the holidays because the meals are always so filling, it’s nice to have a little something to choose one or four of (see what I did there?)!

Gingerbread Petit Fours

Makes about 36 mini muffins-sized cakes

Ingredients:

  • 37 g unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 125 g all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3 g baking soda
  • 75 mL boiling water
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 1 g ground ginger
  • 2 g ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 72 g dark-brown sugar
  • 25 g egg
  • 80 mL un-sulfured molasses
  • 9 g finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 pieces crystallized ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish
  • Chocolate Ganache

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a mini 12-cup muffin pan, tapping out excess flour; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and boiling water; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until combined. Add molasses, fresh ginger, and reserved baking soda mixture; beat until combined. (The batter will look curdled but will come together once the flour is added.) Add the flour mixture, and beat until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating pan halfway through until a cake tester inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean, about 10-11 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely.
  4. Set rack over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, letting some drip down the sides. Garnish with a couple of strips of crystallized ginger. Once glazed, cakes can refrigerated, in air-tight containers, for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Adding a little silver ball on top really classes them up.

Notes:

  • You can visit the original recipe here, it makes 12 regular-sized muffin cup cakes.
  • These cakes absolutely require the buttering and flouring the pans, without this step, the cakes will stick. I was lazy about 2 months ago and only sprayed the pans and they stuck.
  • Seriously only add enough batter to fill half of the mini muffin cups, they will rise beautifully. You don’t want them overflowing on the top of the muffin pan because they will stick.
  • These little cakes freeze well before you cover them in Ganache.

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Back in the 80’s, when I was first dating JT, his parents would occasionally invite me to dinner at their home. JT’s Mom didn’t love cooking but she really made an effort. She focussed on areas she could master, like soups, salads, and pies (she made awesome pies). She let the experts deal with the proteins for the most part and one of her favourite proteins was, Chicken Cordon Bleu. She had her local butcher make up these delicious little parcels and she just popped them into the oven and baked them. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about these bundles until about a year ago when I was really trying to make our meals more of an event, since we weren’t doing much else (thanks Covid). They didn’t disappoint!

I created a very easy way to parcel the chicken breasts with the ham and cheese so they would stay together. I didn’t bother putting the little chicken crown over my version but it was still beautiful and delicious.

The trick is to even out the chicken thickness by pounding with a flat pounder, I like to put the chicken into a zip lock bag so that it doesn’t splatter when I’m pounding it. You don’t want it too thin but you do want it even. You can pound it thinner and roll the ham and cheese but I’ve always found that the cheese eventually melts out so I make a pocket the length of the breast without cutting through and stuff the ham and cheese into the pocket. I use a metal skewer to hold the opening shut which will be removed just before slicing.

Flash-back to the 80’s Chicken Cordon Bleu!

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2 (ingredients may be doubled or tripled easily)

Ingredients:

  • 1 @ 200 g (or 2 @ 100 g) chicken breast, deboned and skinned
  • 100 g Gruyère, grated
  • 1-2 slices of Serano ham
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 80 g AP Unbleached Flour
  • 15 g granulated garlic
  • 15 g dehydrated onion
  • 100 g panko
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Place the panko, granulated garlic, onion, and salt into a spice grinder and pulse until it is relatively fine. Toast the panko mixture gently in an oven-proof, dry frying pan until golden. Set aside to cool. Save the pan to cook the chicken in.
  2. Add the flour to a flat pan (I use small baking sheets about 20cm x 30 cm).
  3. Prepare your breading station by combining the egg and mayo and whisking until smooth. Pour into a second flat pan.
  4. Pour the cooled panko mixture into a third flat pan.
  5. Prepare the chicken breast by placing it into a zip lock bag and pounding it until it is relatively even thickness. Remove it from the bag and slice a thin slice through the breast to create a pocket (I try to keep the opening as small as possible to avoid losing the filling during the baking process).
  6. Place the Serano ham into the pocket and spread out as evenly as you can. Fill the pocket with the cheese. Taking a thin metal skewer, “sew” the opening up so that it remains closed during the baking process.
  7. Place the chicken bundle into the first pan, and coat evenly with the flour.
  8. Transfer the bundle to the egg station and roll to coat evenly.
  9. Finally, roll the bundle in the flavoured panko and make sure that it is well coated. Return the bundle to the zip lock bag and fill it with the remaining panko mixture. From the outside of the bag, press the panko into the chicken bundle. Roll tightly and refrigerate until required.
  10. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Heat the oven-proof frying pan (previously used for the panko) with a little oil and fry 3 of the 4 sides of the chicken bundle until golden. When all three sides are golden, place the unfried part of the chicken bundle down onto the pan and place the pan in the oven and bake the chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F at its thickest part.
  11. When the chicken has reached the temperature, place the cooked chicken on a cutting board and cover for 10 minutes. Slice it in even slices and serve with your favourite veggies.

 

I served the chicken with cauliflower mash.

Notes:

  • I add the mayo into the egg because it really helps to crisp the breading, because it is baked and not fried.

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Prize Butter Tarts

This is the second year in a row that we have’t escaped to Arizona (you know why). But fortunately, November wasn’t too bad this year, meaning we had a lot of sunny days. I can definitely live with that. December has been quite the opposite, mostly we have grey, dull, dreary days. Some days with snow. These are the type of days you don’t even want to get out of bed. At least, I don’t.  But eventually, you have to shop for groceries and you drag yourself out of bed. 

On one such occasion, I found myself in the baked goods aisle at our local No Frills an aisle I do not frequent. I picked up a packet of ordinary grocery store butter tarts. Why? Why? It was the lack of sunlight, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I snapped out of it and decided to come home and bake a batch. This Five Roses recipe has been my goto recipe for 40 years. 

A delicious Canadian tradition.

Prize Butter Tarts

Original recipe is from page 135 of Five Roses, A Guide to Good Cooking, 25th Edition (Revised 1983), Published by Lake of the Wood Mills Ltd.

Makes 12 large butter tarts

Ingredients:

  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 100 mL melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30 mL milk
  • 15 mL vanilla
  • 50 g walnut pieces
  • 12 large tart pastry (muffin cup size)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment (in case the filling overflows).
  2. Add everything but the walnuts and the pastry to the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined.
  3. Fill each tart with a few of the walnut pieces and add about 15 mL of the tart filling to each tart pastry, filling only about 2/3 full (these will bubble up during baking quite a bit). Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.
  4. Allow to cool completely before serving.

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I saw this recipe on Celia’s Instagram account and was instantly curious. I have an old blondie recipe that is completely different so I was intrigued by Celia’s recipe that creamed the butter instead of melting it, I wondered what kind of textural differences are there? To my absolute delight, I loved Celia’s recipe, it makes more of a fudgy cookie bar than a crispy, chewy blondie as my ancient recipe does but I loved the addition of the chocolate chips. Even though there is an entire cup of brown sugar, it is not as sickly sweet as my recipe is which really surprised me. Although this recipe takes a bit of planning (bringing the butter to room temperature), it is worth it. It makes a nice treat on a chilly winter’s day.

Butterscotch Blondies

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes one 23 cm x 23 cm (9 inch x 9 inch) pan

Ingredients:

  • 300 g AP) flour
  • 5 g baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 250 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 215 g brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 125 mL milk (I used hazelnut almond milk, because I had it)
  • 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 360 g mixed chocolate chips (I use Belgium dark and milk)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.  Prepare a 23 cm x 23 cm (9 inch x 9 inch) pan by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy then beat in the egg, milk and vanilla.
  4. Mix in the flour and then fold in the chocolate chips. This makes a rather stiff batter.
  5. Turn into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the corners and sides with a stiff spatula.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
  7. When completely cooled, cut into desired bars or squares with a clean, sharp knife.

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Let me begin by saying that this is not an authentic Thai pumpkin soup but it is a sophisticated blend of Thai flavours that make a super creamy and flavourful dish. I used a small white pumpkin which makes this beautiful lightly pumpkin flavoured, pale celery coloured soup. I garnished it with lightly toasted pumpkin seeds but lightly toasted coconut shavings would be gorgeous as well.

We recently had friends over for brunch and I had expected that it would be cold out and that soup would be a well-received course. We lucked out and had an exceptional November day so we sat outside for hors d’oeuvres and then retreated inside for the main course and back outside for dessert. Even though it wasn’t cold at all, particularly on our heated patio, the soup was very well received. This recipe is a keeper.

Thai-inspired Pumpkin Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 1.5 L of soup

Ingredients:

  • 430 g pumpkin, roasted and cubed
  • 15 mL roasted garlic purée
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • 5 mL galangal, finely grated
  • 5 cm lemongrass, sliced lengthwise and pounded to release flavours
  • 1 L chicken stock
  • 30 g coconut milk powder
  • 50 g creamed coconut
  • toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine the roasted pumpkin, garlic purée, kaffir lime leaf, galangal and lemongrass and sauté on medium-low until you can smell the gorgeous aromas. Add the chicken stock and bring to a rolling, gentle boil for about 45 minutes; you are trying to infuse the stock with the Thai aromatics. Taste and continue to boil if necessary to infuse more flavours.
  2. Once the chicken stock has been infused, remove from the heat and blitz the stock with a stick blender until all of the flavourings are puréed. Allow to cool on the counter for 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Strain the soup through a fine sieve, pressing the pulp until you get most of the liquid out, discard the pulp. 
  4. Return the highly aromatic stock to a pot and reheat gently. Add the coconut milk powder and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Continue to heat without bringing it to a boil. Add the creamed coconut and blend well.
  5. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds as garnish.

Notes:

  • You may substitute a can of coconut milk including the cream instead of the coconut milk powder and creamed coconut, I forgot to buy it and resorted to things I had in my pantry.
  • Blitzing the aromatics with the stock is unconventional but it really does impart a sophisticated blend of Thai flavours that is a little more forward than just simmering the flavourings in the stock. 
  • To make this totally vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
  • As you know, Thai food is a carefully weighted combination of salty, sweet, sour and bitter and this recipe incorporates all of those flavours and imparts a significant amount of umami. Personally, I find coconut milk sweet enough so my recipe does not include sugar but it would be entirely up to you; if you use sugar, I would use cane sugar.

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We are trying to get back into “normal” life. Restaurants and event venues (except strip clubs and dance clubs) have been permitted to return to 100% capacity since October 16. We have ventured to restaurants, dining in but we are still rather uncomfortable in going to an event. Masks are supposed to be worn, but who is policing that? It will be quite some time before I even want to attend a large event.

Century Park Tavern is an upscale tavern that we tried for Brunch a few weeks ago. It is situated in a gorgeous century-old foundry in Davenport Village, not too far from Bloor West Village. The beautifully restored building is the perfect venue for a gastropub.

The brunch service is relatively new for Century Park Tavern and they were still waiting on their coffee machines when we dined there, but they definitely have the food part down! We ate one course and it was delicious enough to want to go back and sample a few more items.

JT had the Porchetta Hash, house porchetta, crispy potatoes, tomato, cilantro, green onion, poached egg, smoked chili hollandaise.

I had the Smoked Salmon Benny, toasted English muffin, herb hollandaise, pickled onions, fried capers, fresh greens. Both dishes were outstanding. The porchetta was perfectly crisp and quite moreish. The smoked salmon was lovely and to be honest, I would have been happy with one. We didn’t eat dinner that night.

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Jalopeño Jack Scones

Makes 9 5 cm (2 inch) scones

Ingredients:

  • 280 g AP flour
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g baking powder
  • 6 g salt
  • 56 g cold butter, in cubes
  • 1 L egg
  • 120 mL buttermilk
  • 100 g grated sharp cheese (I used jalapeño Monterey Jack)
  • 5 mL milk
  • 10 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. In the large bowl of your food processor, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter and pulse to combine. 
  3. Whisk to combine the egg and buttermilk and slowly add it to the dry ingredients while running the processor. Change the blade to the plastic blade and add the cheese. Pulse to combine.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the scone dough to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cut into even squares. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced out about 2 cm. Brush the tops with the milk and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on the top of each scone. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

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Ingredients:

  • Butter to coat pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 375 mL milk
  • 2 g sea salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 180 g sourdough bread cut into largish cubes
  • 1/2 apple, like gala, cored and sliced thinly
  • 100 g ham, cut into ribbons
  • 70+ g Gouda or Gruyère, divided

Directions:

  1. Brush the melted butter along the bottom and sides of a 9” x 9” decorative baking dish.
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Lay the bread evenly in the prepared baking dish, place the ham and apples evenly throughout, then sprinkle 70g of the cheese over it tucking it into the spaces.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, ham, apples and cheese evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, remove the prepared bread pudding from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, about an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake for 40-45 minutes or until set. All the bread pudding to sit for 10-15 minutes to fully set.
  7. Serve with yogurt and Dijon maple syrup.

Ingredients

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