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Posts Tagged ‘smoked paprika’

BalsamicPearls_1867

Perfectly formed balsamic spheres

Are you an experimental cook? What I mean by that is, do you instinctively gravitate toward unusual recipes, perhaps ones that push you out of your comfort zone? Using ingredients and techniques that are new to you and perhaps don’t always work out the first, second or even third time you try it? You may have guessed that I am, to a fault. Like a dog with a bone. I won’t stop until I get it right and even then, I may likely never make that recipe ever again! You will wonder why and to that I say, why not? I simple check it off my list and move on. This might be such a recipe.

I cannot recall where or when was the first time I saw Balsamic Pearls or caviar but I do recall being instantly smitten, my only problem was that I was not able to find the jelling ingredient Agar Agar, until recently! And I found it in the most unlikely place, my local health food store! It was an arm and leg to purchase, but fortunately it’s a big enough bag that I can make several batches.

What reminded me of these little gems was one of my shopping trips for Food Styling Assisting at a very fancy (read expensive) organic food store in north Toronto called Harvest Wagon; they temptingly have the most gorgeous display of vinegars and oils directly beside the cash desk…no time to even give it a second thought, unless you look at the prices! I suspect people who shop there really don’t look at the prices anyway! It is there that I spotted the balsamic pearls and it was there and then I decided that I HAD to make them!

My dear friend and Inspiration of All Asian foods, Sissy from With a Glass has used Agar Agar for many desserts she allures us with over the years. It is a seaweed based jelling agent that does not liquify when heated up (unless it’s boiled); unlike gelatine which melts (like in my French Onion Soup Pillows).

Pre-directions for all flavours:

  1. At least 30 minutes (but not overnight) before you wish to start making your pearls, fill a tall, thin glass with vegetable oil and put into the freezer to cool. It’s best to have a tall glass so that when you drop the pearls into it, the pearls have a long way to fall through the super cooled oil before they hit the bottom. This is very important because if the pearls don’t have sufficient time to cool down, they will fall to a puddle at the bottom of the glass. Trust me. You can strain the oil and reuse it, so don’t worry about tossing it.
Slightly larger than caviar, these tiny pearls pack a to of flavour.

Slightly larger than caviar, these tiny Balsamic pearls pack a lot of flavour.

Balsamic Pearls

Makes a generous table spoon or more of tangy balsamic pearls.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (not glaze)
  • 1 tsp agar agar
  • 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in a tall glass

Directions for balsamic pearls:

  1. In a small saucepan mix the water with the balsamic vinegar then add the agar agar and place on medium to medium low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.
  2. Cook this mixture on a very gentle boil for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  3. When the 4 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat and allow the liquid to cool to about  50° C (122° F), but try not to let it fall below 41° C (105°F), if it does, you can reheat, stirring constantly until it melts again.
  4. Remove the chilling oil from the freezer and place in a comfortable working area. Using the culinary syringe, draw up the balsamic liquid (try to get most of it), and drop by single droplets into the chilled oil. They will sit slightly suspended on the surface and then fall gently through the chilled oil to the bottom. If the pearls are cooled enough, they will have set and be beautiful little pearly jewels, if they did not set you will have a puddle at the bottom of the glass; strain the puddle out, put the oil back in the freezer and re-melt the puddle in the saucepan.
  5. When you have used up the liquid, strain the pearls out of the oil into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. It’s best to store the pearls in the liquid that they were originally made from, so top off the storage jar with balsamic vinegar.

These Wasabi pearls are not as green as I had hoped.

Wasabi Pearls

Makes a generous table spoon or more of wasabi pearls.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp agar agar
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste (the powder does not work well in this case)
  • 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in a tall glass

Directions for wasabi pearls:

  1. In a small saucepan mix the water with the agar agar and place on medium to medium low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.
  2. Add the wasabi paste and mix well (try not to breath too close, it’s a very strong and stinging smell).
  3. Cook this mixture on a very gentle boil for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  4. When the 4 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat and allow the liquid to cool to about  50° C (122° F), but try not to let it fall below 41° C (105°F), if it does, you can reheat, stirring constantly until it melts again.
  5. Remove the chilling oil from the freezer and place in a comfortable working area. Using the culinary syringe, draw up the wasabi liquid (try to get most of it), and drop by single droplets into the chilled oil. They will sit slightly suspended on the surface and then fall gently through the chilled oil to the bottom. If the pearls are cooled enough, they will have set and be beautiful little pearly jewels, if they did not set, you will have a puddle at the bottom of the glass; strain the puddle out, put the oil back in the freezer and re-melt the puddle in the saucepan.
  6. When you have used up the liquid, strain the pearls out of the oil into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. It’s best to store the pearls in the liquid that they were originally made so mix a scant teaspoon of the wasabi paste with water and store the pearls in it.
A lovely sweet flavoured pearl.

A lovely sweet flavoured pearl.

Pomegranate Pearls

Makes a generous table spoon or more of pomegranate pearls.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure pomegranate juice (don’t use syrup here)
  • 1 tsp agar agar
  • 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in a tall glass

Directions for pomegranate pearls:

  1. In a small saucepan mix the pomegranate juice with the agar agar and place on medium to medium low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.
  2. Cook this mixture on a very gentle boil for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  3. When the 4 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat and allow the liquid to cool to about  50° C (122° F), but try not to let it fall below 41° C (105°F), if it does, you can reheat, stirring constantly until it melts again.
  4. Remove the chilling oil from the freezer and place in a comfortable working area. Using the culinary syringe, draw up the pomegranate liquid (try to get most of it), and drop by single droplets into the chilled oil. They will sit slightly suspended on the surface and then fall gently through the chilled oil to the bottom. If the pearls are cooled enough, they will have set and be beautiful little pearly jewels, if they did not set you will have a puddle at the bottom of the glass; strain the puddle out, put the oil back in the freezer and re-melt the puddle in the saucepan.
  5. When you have used up the liquid, strain the pearls out of the oil into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. It’s best to store the pearls in the liquid that they were originally made from, so use pomegranate juice.
These are very smoky indeed. I wish I had given them a bit of heat with sriachi

These smoked paprika pearls are very smoky indeed.
I wish I had given them a bit of heat.

Smoked Paprika Pearls

Makes 2 table spoons or more of smoked paprika pearls.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste (I used sweet)
  • 3/4 tsp liquid mesquite smoke
  • 1 tsp agar agar
  • 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in a tall glass

Directions for smoked paprika pearls:

  1. In a small saucepan mix the water with red pepper paste and smoke, then add the agar agar and place on medium to medium low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.
  2. Cook this mixture on a very gentle boil for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  3. When the 4 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat and allow the liquid to cool to about  50° C (122° F), but try not to let it fall below 41° C (105°F), if it does, you can reheat, stirring constantly until it melts again.
  4. Remove the chilling oil from the freezer and place in a comfortable working area. Using the culinary syringe, draw up the red pepper liquid (try to get most of it), and drop by single droplets into the chilled oil. They will sit slightly suspended on the surface and then fall gently through the chilled oil to the bottom. If the pearls are cooled enough, they will have set and be beautiful little pearly jewels, if they did not set you will have a puddle at the bottom of the glass; strain the puddle out, put the oil back in the freezer and re-melt the puddle in the saucepan.
  5. When you have used up the liquid, strain the pearls out of the oil into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. It’s best to store the pearls in the liquid that they were originally made from, so mix a small amount of water and smoke (2 tbsp water and splash of liquid smoke).

Tips:

  • I used Mitoku, Kanten Flakes (Agar); the package instructions indicate that 1 tablespoon will set 1 cup of liquid. As fyi, I also tried 2 tsp of Agar Agar into 1/4 cup liquid and found the pearls way too stiff, reducing the Agar Agar to 1 tsp worked out perfectly.
  • The Agar Agar binds with your liquid only when it is added to a boiling liquid and for the pearls to cool sufficiently you must wait until the temperature falls to  50° C (122° F) and then you must act quickly because it starts to set at 41° C (105°F) so there isn’t much time to drop the little droplets (it sets at room temperature, refrigeration is not required). Work in small batches so that your liquid doesn’t set before you have time to use it up to make the pearls.
  • I used a culinary syringe, but an icing bag fitted with a very small end could work too, although I did not try it.
  • Not every liquid can be turned into pearls because there are other things to consider which are far beyond my chemical knowledge so if you are interested in turning something not listed here into pearls, I would do some research.
  • It’s important to follow the directions closely otherwise your experiment will fail, I tested each one to make sure it works. This was my third attempt with Balsamic, second attempt with wasabi and on from there with the other flavours.
  • Don’t drop too large pearls because they won’t have time to set in the oil. My best pearls were about 2 mm (1/8 inch) in diametre, ones that ended up being about 5 mm (1/4 inch) became deformed because they didn’t have time to set as a pearl.
  • My glass was was 12 cm (4.5 inches) high with about 10 cm (4 inches) of oil, so if you have a taller glass with more oil, your pearls can be larger.
Aren't you curious about how I plan to use these little pearls?

Aren’t you curious about how I plan to use these little pearls?

our-growing-edge-badge

My friend and fellow bunny lover Genie from over at Bunny, Eats, Design suggested I post this in Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage us to try new food related things. Kindra from California Cavegirl Kindra is the host for this month’s event. If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click here to join.

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We usually have a lot of fishermen at the lake because apparently it is a good fishing lake. The past couple of years someone has caught something big in our bay and word got out, so we usually have a couple of fishing boats trolling our bay for fish every weekend. As you can well imagine I am not fond of this activity particularly when it infringes my privacy. The lake at the cottage is spring fed, which means that it’s reasonably cold for most of the summer, in fact it’s usually August by the time I feel it’s warm enough for a refreshing dip! Over these same last few years, it  seems that every time I dip into the water, smallish fish surround my legs; it wouldn’t be bad but these little devils actually try to bite my legs! They’ve obviously heard about the good fishing in the lake and have launched a protest in the form of attacking my defenseless legs! Since I don’t like to fish (obviously, they haven’t heard!) but I do like to eat fish (well, maybe they have a point!) I usually get my fish from our fish monger or the grocery store.

Recently we had some friends for dinner who are vegetarian (the fish-eating kind) and I wanted to make a fish based Paella; I’ve made this dish before but found it a bit lacking without the use of chorizo so I was thinking…what if I made chorizo from fish using similar spices? The texture isn’t the same, but it did add the punch from the spices that I was looking for. It worked out so well, that I will use this method for other  ‘sausages’ in the future.

VegPaella_0973

A delightful combination of cod, bay scallops, shrimp and salmon chorizo

our-growing-edge-banner

I am participating again in Our Growing Edge Monthly blogging event; I’ve participated before because I had made the Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake which was pretty out there for me, but since then, I can’t say that I’ve made anything quite so awesome, until now.

Salmon Chorizo

makes three ‘sausages’ about 10 cm long each

Ingredients:

  • 120 g drained canned salmon, skinless and boneless
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Saran wrap or thick plastic wrap made for cooking (not microwave as they may contain small holes)
  • 3 tbsp canola oil

Directions:

  1. In a small food processor, add all the ingredients except the plastic wrap and canola oil and process until it is well mixed.
  2. Lay out one piece of plastic wrap about 30 cm x 30 cm (12″ x 12″). Pipe a length of the mixture into the centre of the plastic wrap and fold over one side and smooth out so that it’s taught to the salmon mixture. Now roll the ‘sausage’ up on the plastic wrap.
  3. Take each end of the wrap and roll the ends until it is very tightly wound, tie a knot in each end. Repeat until you have rolled all of the ‘sausages’.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat about 10 cm (3″) of water until it is almost boiling. Add each ‘sausage’ to the simmering water and cook for about 10 minutes (you don’t want to boil the water, just simmer).
  5. Remove the sausages from the water and drain. Allow to cool completely in the wrap and when cool remove the wrap. The ‘sausage’ should maintain its shape well. Slice into 1 cm (1/2″) thick slices.
  6. In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil and fry each side of the ‘sausage’ until desired colour is achieved. Now you are ready to use you salmon chorizo in your recipe.
SalmonChorizo_0953

The egg is the binder in this sausage

VegPaella_0971

The sausage stands up very well in the paella

 

 

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We adore Mexican food, not the fast food kind, but a genuine ma and pa Mexican restaurant. Sadly we have few and far between in Toronto but there are a couple of good ones. The one I love for lunch is Cucina Lucerno down by Maple Leaf Gardens and why I love it for lunch is that they make a TO DIE FOR Sopa Azteca. Full bodied, flavourful and filling, the three F’s! When I saw the link to slow cooker chicken tortilla soup on Barb’s blog (Profiteroles and Ponytails) in her weeknight survival techniques post, I was immediately drawn to it. The sound of the ingredient combo, just made me think of Sopa Azteca (cue mouth watering), which according to Rick Bayless is one and the same! Go figure!

As Yorkesgirl recommends, I BBQ’d a couple of chicken breasts with a flavourful dry rub*, and then I shredded them and ‘finished’ them off in the slow cooker for about 20 minutes. The soup is divine and is so darn easy. You can even drop the chicken breasts directly into the slow cooker and just let it cook for hours and hours, the chicken is best shredded so over cooking is not a problem!

A very tasty soup, if I do say so myself

Sopa de Tortilla

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 small chicken breast, BBQ’d* with dry rub (see notes below)
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed, low sodium
  • 300g enchilada sauce (I wouldn’t bother putting this in next time).
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 fresh green jalopeño, minced finely
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Directions:

  1. Place everything but the chicken into the slow cooker on high, stir. Cook for 2-3 hours and then add the frozen corn and cook five minutes and then add the shredded BBQ’d chicken* and cook for 20 minutes until thoroughly heated through.
    Or, sauté onions and garlic in a soup pot, add the jalopeño, spices, cocoa and cilantro and stir until you smell the spices. Add the canned tomatoes, enchilada, water and simmer for 20-40 minutes (longer you simmer the better the flavours).
  2. Serve with a dollop of low fat Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of cheese of your choice (I had cheddar), some green onions and of course some oven dried tortilla strips. Enjoy.

*BBQ Chicken Rub

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
  • 1 tsp ground dehydrated onion flakes

Directions:

  1. Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
  2. Remove skin from the chicken breasts and cover with the dry rub. Grill or pan fry finishing in the oven on medium heat until chicken juices run clear (around 165° F).
  3. Tent and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using a couple of forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized bits.

I’ve had this soup a couple of times now and still have a serving in the freezer which I’m saving for a particularly ugly day when I need some soup to cheer me up.

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It’s a week night and even though we like to eat at 7:30-8 on weekends, it just doesn’t work for week nights when I need a couple of hours to blog, and such! I’m always looking for tasty and quick ways to serve fish and Kristy’s delightful Baked Cod Portuguese was a sure winner, but I didn’t have the fire roasted tomatoes, nor the time to make them, so I took her recipe as inspiration. This one is quite low calorie, no butter or olive oil.

Halibut with a Rustic Tomato Sauce

An incredibly filling meal

Makes 3 servings (100g each fish and 200g tomato sauce and greens)

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Halibut
  • 300 g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 90 g vidalia onion and garlic (the ratio is entirely up to you, I had about 80g onion, 10g garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt to taste
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 300 g mixed greens, including cucumber and green onions
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Distribute the tomatoes, onion and garlic on the pan evenly. Salt.
  2. Bake for about 30 minutes. Pour the contents into your immersion blender jar and blend until smooth. Add the smoked paprika and blend again. Keep the oven on.
  3. Strain through a fine sieve, discard what is left in the sieve.
  4. In a cast iron pan, sear the fish skin side on high heat for about 4 minutes. Pour the rustic tomato sauce over the hot fish and bake in the hot oven for about 15 minutes (this depends entirely how thick your fish is).
  5. Meanwhile, create a fresh green salad (about 100 g each serving) with the mixed greens (we used spinach and baby arugula), cucumber and green onion.
  6. When the fish is cooked through, remove the skin and place 100 g onto each bed of greens. Add about one third of the sauce to each plate. Garnish with parsley.

The sauce was lovely, not too acidic (I didn’t add sugar because I am no carbing for three weeks!) but you certainly can to taste. And the garlic really added a wonderful nutty flavour of a baked clove. I will definitely make this sauce again, perhaps with chicken or left over turkey, but then I would add chili pepper flakes to heat it up.

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Today is Wednesday and it is my first day at the courthouse for jury duty. We don’t live far from the core, so taking the subway is the most efficient way to go, plus parking would set me back about $20 per day (pretty cheap considering it could be as high as $60 per day in the financial district)! Our transit system is called TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), and the subway is often called The Rocket! I’m taking The Rocket downtown. Yes, it is as lame as it sounds! I have to be there at 8:30am. I am not looking forward to it. I hope there is wifi, but then again I do have the 3G network, so I can be in touch. I will take a book, perhaps a title that will make me undesirable to be a juror. Any suggestions?

I have made this paella before, calling it cottage paella, but I thought I would reiterate the recipe, it turned out very well on the weekend.

Seafood Paella

The smoked paprika really adds a nice flavour to this dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (because it is gluten free)
  • 400g halibut cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 12-16 Black tiger shrimp (25-30/lb is the best size so you can just pop them in your mouth) (I like to peel and remove tails so you are not having to dive into the food with hands and feet to eat!)
  • 400g bay scallops
  • 12-16 mussels, cleaned
  • 1 tsp saffron, in about 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 3 finely minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper (into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 1 can mini corn cobs
  • 2-3 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • Lemon and lime slices for garnish
  • hot pepper flakes if you dare!

Directions:

Steps 1-4 may be done 2-4 hours in advance.

  1. Soak saffron in in the white wine for about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on the halibut and return to refrigerator.
  3. Cook rice in saffron soaked wine and water until almost done – you will finish cooking during the assembly stage.
  4. Assembly Stage:
    Just before you wish to serve, preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add  garlic and stir just until you can smell its aroma. Add all the vegetables but the parsley and the green onions and lemons and limes.  Stir well, if too dry, add a bit of the about 1 cup vegetable stock until a desired wetness is achieved.
  6. Add halibut and shrimp and put into the hot oven for about 8-10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the mussels and scallops and stir well. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Stir a couple of times.
  7. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with lemon and lime wedges. Serve hot.
  8. Enjoy!

Brown rice is very nice

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Continuing the week with the Super Bowl food, I’ve decided to do a dry rub on the ribs mainly because I am not a hug fan of sloppy BBQ sauce dripping all over. I was originally going to do a Chai inspired rub, but then changed my mind to a Tex-Mex rub because it was such a success the last time. Again the photos did not turn out well, so I apologize for the absence!

I’ll assume you have your favourite cooking method for the ribs, whether it’s boiling them first, or just grilling them or even baking them and then grilling them. So prepare those babies as you would but finish them off with this rub instead. You can use this rub effectively for salmon and chicken.

You’ll thank me. You will.

Tex-Mex Dry Rub

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic or dehydrated garlic (not garlic powder)
  • 2 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika (you can use hot, I used sweet but add a pinch of cayenne)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Add all of the above to a spice grinder* and grind until fine.
  2. Dry off the ribs and sprinkle the ground spice mix onto it, both sides.
  3. Grill but be ever so careful, the sugar can catch flame very easily.

*I purchased an inexpensive electric coffee grinder which I have labelled as my “spice grinder” after all, who wants coffee that tastes like garlic?

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