Thursday, December 24, 2009

Egg Nog Panna Cotta


Here's another recipe for y'all, since I haven't shared many recipes lately. Two posts in one day! Can't say I don't love you.

This is another recipe I made up, and it turned out great on the first try. I usually follow a recipe for almost everything I make, but I came up with this idea for Egg Nog panna cotta for dessert at Christmas while watching Chef at Home. Michael Smith made a Pina Colada panna cotta, so I figured if he can make panna cotta with coconut milk, why not with egg nog? The only thing is, I couldn't think of what to serve this with- the only fruit I could come up with was banana, and even that doesn't seem right.

Although this dessert hasn't made the cut for Christmas dinner (the judges are very strict, and I think the Russian judge was paid off), I will keep this method in mind for other panna cotta flavors. Candied Bacon panna cotta anyone?

EGG NOG PANNA COTTA
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the size of ramekins
  • 2 cups egg nog
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 envelope gelatin powder
  • maple syrup, to serve

Heat egg nog, salt, sugars, spices, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture simmers. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in water. Once egg nog mixture simmers, remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate until set- about 4 hours. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta and turn out onto the center of a plate and drizzle with maple syrup.

Long time no post


I have photos of food that I wanted to post, I just haven't gotten around to it lately. Bad blogger, bad! Along with moving, I've also been preparing things ahead of time for when Tyler's family comes to our place for dinner on Boxing Day and making homemade gifts for people. I know- excuses, excuses. I will have lots to share after the holidays though- the food and gifts I made will be posted.

Today I have a Tex-Mex lasagna that I made last week. I had started to follow a recipe for a casserole, but it morphed into this lasagna and it turned out great!

TEX-MEX LASAGNA
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 can tomato soup
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tbsp adobo sauce (the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers)
  • 4 oz (about 1/2 a tub) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 12 fresh or dried lasagna noodles (if using dried pour about 1/2 cup water over lasagna before putting in the oven)

Lasagna filling: Saute onion, pepper, garlic with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until softened. Add black beans, stir to warm through. Add coriander, cumin, white pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and toast the spices a little. Add soup, salsa, cream cheese, sour cream. Stir until simmering and cream cheese is melted through. Add lime zest, stir to combine and turn off heat.

To assemble the lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the filling in the bottom of the lasagna pan. Place 4 noodles on top. Spread 1/3 of filling over noodles. Top with 1/3 of the grated cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times. Cover with foil, bake approx. 30 minutes, or until it feels cooked through when a knife inserted in the middle.

**In the photo I topped the lasagna with crispy tortilla pieces after baking. This was a bad idea- it didn't add anything to the flavor or texture because they got soft anyways.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moving

We moved on Friday. Thank goodness that is over. Amazingly, we already have almost all the boxes unpacked. The kitchen, of course, was the first to get organized. In fact, I started on it as the movers were bringing in boxes. I am now the proud owner of a gas stove (!) and lots of cupboard space. I have an entire huge cupboard for all my baking stuff. Yay!

I haven't really cooked anything lately due to the move, but I wanted to share this cookbook that I found in a box that came from Tyler's mom. It's one of those school fundraiser jobbies where students/parents contribute recipes. If the flyleaf didn't say it was published in 1998 I'd swear it was put together in the '50's. Do people seriously eat this stuff? Most of the recipes seem to rely heavily on canned soup, Cheez Whiz, and Minute Rice. Some of the more questionable recipes include:

-Classy Chicken- made with chicken breasts, frozen broccoli, cream of chicken soup, mayo. Classy indeed
-Okanagan Cherry Squares under the section Okanagan Fruits. These squares, however, are make with canned cherry pie filling
-Tomato Aspic
-The ubiquitous Porcupine Meatballs- meatballs with rice in them? Why?
-Salmon Loaf- this seems to be like regular meatloaf, only made with salmon
-Sex in a Pan- I don't know whether the contributor of this recipe Shannon Greer was a parent (therefore obviously a MILF/cougar) or a student (that all the 13 year old boys worshiped), but either way this worries me

I almost want to take the recipe that includes the most pre-packaged food and make it just to see how it turns out. But then Tyler will probably love it and I'll have to make it all the time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spaghetti with Spaghetti Squash


This was going to be just spaghetti squash a la The Kitchen Sink, a blog from which I have bookmarked many a recipe. I had the squash roasting and was starting the sauce when Tyler called to say he'd be home soon. Here's how that conversation went:

Tyler: "What's for dinner?
Me: "Spaghetti squash"
T: "Spaghetti squash and what?"
M: "Spaghetti squash and... sauce..."
T: "Can we have spaghetti with it?"
M: "But it's like spaghetti, only it's squash"
T: "Have your squash, I'll just make some pasta when I get home then"

Hence the redundancy of spaghetti with spaghetti squash. It was really good, and I'll probably make it like this again. But one night when Tyler is out I will have Spaghetti Squash with NO Spaghetti and I will enjoy it all by myself. With a glass of wine. Or maybe two.

SPAGHETTI WITH SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Serves 4
  • 2 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and pulp removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz dried spaghetti (angel hair pasta would work really well too)
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 45-50 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente, drain, and add back to pot. In a saucepan, saute shallots in remaining tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and lower heat, cooking until heated through. Add to drained pasta.

Scrape strands of cooked squash out of skins with a fork and add to pasta. Toss to combine everything. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

Spana-what?


I made a new recipe that I had never tried before to bring in for a pot luck at work on Friday. I generally don't make new recipes for public consumption; I almost always test them first. I was also taking a risk bringing Spanakopita. Nobody knew what Spanakopita was when I put I wrote it on the sign up sheet, and people generally stick to what they know food-wise. There is nothing sadder than the pariah dish sitting alone and untouched at a pot luck. But I trusted the reviews on the Food Network and went ahead with the recipe. Success! They were all gone by the end of the day. One of my co-workers even ate three (that's my girl)!

One caveat, it took me two hours to make these, but I am slow at cooking for some reason. Rachael Ray's 30 minutes meals are 45 minute meals in my house. The recipe isn't hard to make, it's just time consuming to brush the phyllo sheets with butter, fold them up, bake, etc. You can, however, make Spanakopita in a pan, which would be quicker- just layer the sheets of phyllo with the spinach mixture instead of folding them up and cut into squares to serve. Baking time will be longer, but it's hands off time of course.

The recipe - here you go- calls for two pounds of baby spinach and one pound of phyllo dough. I used one pound of spinach and two packages of President's Choice frozen phyllo dough and the amounts worked out perfectly. Also, I didn't have quite enough butter, so I cut it with some olive oil, which turned out fine- I couldn't tell the difference. Sorry the photo isn't great- I forgot to take a photo until there was only half a Spanakopita left (dude, I was up until 11:30 at night making them and I had to get up at 6:30 am).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spicy Cheese Dip


I made this dip on Sunday for tortilla chips instead of buying that jarred Cheez-Whiz-like nacho dip at the grocery store. My dip was 10 times better, cheaper, and not fake orange (fake orange is always a bad idea). I feel like this dip is akin to the Southern classic Pimento Cheese except that I've never had pimento cheese, therefore I can't say for sure.

This is also the filling for my antijitos that I always bring to pot lucks at work. I tried to bring something else once and I was almost lynched. To make antijitos don't warm up the dip, but spread it into tortillas, roll them up, and slice across into bite-sized pieces. You could also put the dip into an oven safe dish, top it with shredded cheese, and put it in the oven (say, at about 400 degrees F) until bubbly. I wonder if you could add chopped cooked spinach and chopped artichokes and call it Spinach and Artichoke dip... I'll have to try it next time.

I never measure this, so the amounts in this recipe are approximate- a little of one thing or less of another won't affect the overall result.

SPICY CHEESE DIP

  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced pickled hot peppers
  • 1 250 g tub cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder

Chop peppers in a food processor. Add cheese and cream cheese, whiz until blended. Put in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high, stirring every 30 seconds, until dip is warm and cheese is melted.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies



These cookies scream holidays. They taste like Christmas. Probably due to the crushed candy canes and chocolate. Make these now! My co-workers ate half a batch today (I had to keep some for myself) and a couple of people asked for the recipe, which in my books equals success.

I used a chopped up dark chocolate bar for the chocolate layer, but chocolate chips would probably work just as well and would be faster. For the crushed peppermint candy I put unwrapped mini candy canes in a freezer bag and smashed them with a rolling pin. If you can find candy canes that are unwrapped or those round peppermint candies go with those- unwrapping all the candy canes was tedious to say the least. Also, they are really crumbly when you cut them, so I saved the crumbs to jazz up some vanilla ice cream. Tell me that's not awesome.

Next time I make these (and there will be a next time), I'd like to try spreading the dough on a larger baking sheet- I have a sheet that is the size of my oven- to get a thinner cookie layer and then double the chocolate for this recipe to really stand up to it's name.

Get the recipe from Bon Appetit HERE

PS I may or may not have had one of these cookies for breakfast this morning...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Southern Comfort

I love biscuits and cornbread. Jambalaya and gumbo. Gravy. Bacon. All the delights of the South, although I don't know about grits or chicken fried steak- but I won't knock it 'till I try it. I made biscuits on Sunday night. Then I made ham and cheese sandwiches with them and served them with soup (tomato for me, cream of mushroom for Tyler- both from a can I'm not ashamed to admit). This was the perfect meal for a cold, rainy night. I think it was rainy. But in any case, this is definitely comfort food. The biscuits were good, but not as good as a previous recipe I had made from America's Test Kitchen (I'm telling ya, they never steer me wrong), so I have included that recipe below. Sorry there's no photo for this post. We were hungry.


DROP BISCUITS
Makes 12 biscuits

· 2 cups flour
· 2 tsp baking powder
· 1/2 baking soda
· 1 tsp sugar
· 3/4 tsp table salt
· 1 cup cold buttermilk
· 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly + 2 tbsp for brushing tops of baked biscuits if desired

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.*

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

*When you stir slightly cooled melted butter into cold buttermilk, the butter will clump. Although this might look like a mistake, it's one of the secrets to this recipe. The clumps of butter are similar to the small bits of cold butter in biscuits prepared according to the traditional method and help guarantee a light and fluffy interior.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farm food pick up


I picked up my farm vegetables last night (see this previous post on my local food discovery). I went to the church where the pick up was being held, not knowing what to expect. I also realized that I had forgotten to bring cloth bags to bring the stuff home in, and I was pretty sure that plastic bags would get me shunned. I used a box in my trunk which was totally unwieldy and awkward but it did the job.

So here's how it works. You go into the church gymnasium, pick up your list of what you ordered from which farm at the front, and walk around to each of the tables picking up your order. Then they check your order, you pay and go. That is how it is supposed to work anyway. If you are me, you walk around aimlessly with a massive cardboard box, get frustrated that you can't find a few things (who knew that Jerusalem artichokes look like small potatoes?), go to the front to pay anyways, then the cashier has to run around finding things for you. I may be shunned after all...

I am very pleased with my veggies (and eggs) and honored them by making roasted root vegetables with lemon aioli for dipping. The list of stuff I got- almost all organic- and ailoi recipe follows. To roast the veg, I cut them into batons, tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them in a single layer on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes, tossing halfway through.
4 huge red onions
2 small spaghetti squash
1 x 3L basket Gala apples
1 x 2L basket small sweet potatoes
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
2 butternut squash
1 celeriac
2 bulbs garlic
1b parsnips
1 dozen free range eggs
= 33.75 total

LEMON AILOI
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.com

*This makes a lot- about 2 cups, and I even halved the recipe.
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp water
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cups light fruity olive oil
  • 1/2 canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
Mash garlic and salt in mortar with pestle until paste forms. Whisk egg yolks, 6 tablespoons water, lemon juice, and mustard in medium metal bowl. Whisk in garlic mixture. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 140°F for 3 minutes, about 10 minutes total. Remove bowl from over water. Cool mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally, about 15 minutes. Gradually whisk oil into yolk mixture in very thin slow stream; continue whisking until aioli is thick. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My current food crush



I love these Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread Crackers from President's Choice right now. They have even beat out my other food crushes Bobby Flay, Eric Ripert (cute, French and cooks) and the brothers on the current season of Top Chef. Maybe because the crackers are more tangible and available for my instant gratification than celebrity food boys. These are slightly spicy, perfectly crunchy, and a little cheesy. Yum. I may eat too many and be sick of them shortly (like my Hot Pockets weekend), and then it'll be something else. The President's Choice Holiday Insiders Report should be out now which always has new products ripe for crushing on.

What, everybody doesn't have food crushes?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why the internet is awesome

I know. We all know the internet is awesome. But here are two reasons why I had that thought right now and had to post about it:

1. We finally got a laptop and I have been sitting on my couch following link after link for 4 hours and I still haven't found the end of the internet.

2. I found my way to Artie McPhee's which sells, among other things, bacon-flavored dental floss and when you Google "Artie McPhee" the description is "Archie McPhee has the best toys, gift and novelties on the internet. We love the same things you do: unicorns, bacon, ninjas and pirates." Seriously, revel in the awesomeness.

Call me Clutz


I burned myself cooking the other day. I know this is common, but is it common to burn yourself twice in one night on two different arms? I dunno the statistics, but I'm going to wager a guess of no. I seared the top of my wrists on the oven rack while taking stuff out of the oven. I don't even remember what we ate, therefore I assume it wasn't even worth the pain. I'm ok- it didn't require a trip to emerg (like when I failed to use the safety on the mandoline) but I look like a failed suicide victim with gauze on my wrists. So maybe you should call me Crazy. Plus, we had no "medical tape", so I had to use electrical tape to keep the gauze on.

You'd think this may deter me from cooking anytime soon. At least until the scabs heal (sorry for the visual). Of course not. I made an uber-delicious pizza tonight- a riff on the pizza we had in Hawaii, except that grocery shopping is happening tomorrow so I had to improvise. There is not recipe per se- below is a list of what I put on this time. The pulled pork I used was leftover from earlier from this week, and I love broccoli on pizza 'cause it gets crispy and caramelized in the oven- same with the onions and garlic, which is why I put them on after the cheese. Go with your gut, use what you have in the fridge. It's near impossible to screw up pizza- trust the the burn victim.

  • 1 pizza dough*
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, depending on how large and thin you roll the dough
  • pulled pork
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced**
  • 1 small head broccoli florets, sliced***
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1/2 small log herbed goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced with a garlic press

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll out dough to desired size and thickness. Spread sauce over dough. Top with broccoli and pork. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Evenly distribute onions and goat cheese, lastly sprinkle with garlic. Bake 10-13 minutes on lowest rack- until browned at the edges and cheese is bubbly.

*frozen or homemade- stay tuned for my dough recipe
**I find cutting the onion in half and then slicing into thin half moons is good on pizza
***since I had the oven on a high temp already, I sliced the broccoli stalk into half moons, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them on a baking sheet on the middle rack at the same time as the pizza. Turn them halfway through baking- they'll take a little longer than the pizza.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Snacks


I could make a meal of snacks. In fact, I have. My favorite thing is to have some crostini (don't let the food snobs fool you- this is a fancy word for toast) topped with all manner of different things. My current fave toppings are Tomato Bruschetta with Feta and Fresh Pea Spread with Feta. Yum... feta... but I digress. I don't use a recipe for these, so I have just included the ingredients. The key is to taste before topping your bread. I taste and ask myself: is there enough salt? Pepper? Acidity? Is one ingredient overpowering all others? Being a chronic recipe clipper, I find that when I make something without using a recipe is very rewarding. Even if it is just pureed peas on toast.

CROSTINI

Toast slices of a Baguette, French bread or Italian bread until just golden brown. You can drizzle with olive oil before toasting (in a toaster oven or in the oven- probably not a good idea in a toaster), but I usually just make it dry.

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

  • tomato(es), medium dice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • finely minced garlic (squash it into a paste with the side of your knife even)
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • crostini
Mix all ingredients but feta and crostini. Use immediately to top crostini or let rest in fridge up to 2 days. Sprinkle with feta and maybe some fresh black pepper.

FRESH PEA SPREAD WITH FETA

  • frozen peas, thawed in a sieve under running water*
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini
  • feta, crumbled
Whizz all ingredients but crostini and feta in food processor until almost smooth. Spread on crostini and top with feta, pressing feta a bit so it doesn't fall off and your dog gets it (or is that just me?).
*I know, this is technically not a "fresh" pea spread, but it tastes like it and the name sounds better than Frozen Pea Spread.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hawai'i

I'm just back from our honeymoon in Maui, Hawai'i. Wow, what a beautiful place! We drove all over the island and saw everything! Beaches all over the island, tropical fish and sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, old plantation cum surfing towns including Pa'ia where we stayed, Haleakala- a volcanic crater at 10,000 meters above sea level, waterfalls, rain forest and black sand beaches along the Road to Hana. Incredible. The stories of the laid back hospitality of Hawaiians is true too- cars would stop on the road for us to pull out of a parking spot for example. C'mon, does that ever happen here?

BUT, I am here to talk about food. And brudda, did we eat some fantastic food. Here is a "slide show" of the highlights for you- click for a larger photo. No recipes this time (although those will probably come later when I start trying to recreate some of the things we ate)- these pics are just to get your mojo going.


  1. Coconut, Mango, Pineapple, Macadamia Nut Cookies at Hula Cookies
  2. Remember the game POGs in the '90's? This juice is where they started
  3. Fruit stand in Keanae off of the road to Hana- best banana bread ever. It was still warm.

  1. Pizza at Flatbread Co. in Pa'ia. Kulua pig (pig cooked underground for hours- falls apart like pulled pork), pineapple, goat cheese, BBQ sauce. So so good
  2. Fruit stand on the road to Hana at the entrance to the Twin Falls
  3. Stairs up to Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant on the ocean in Lahaina where my husband had a cheeseburger, fries, and a beer for breakfast. At 10 am.

  1. Hali'imaile General Store restaurant. Listed as the best restaurant in Maui's Upcountry. Very good
  2. Tyler's dinner at Hali'imaile- Braised Short Ribs and Truffled Mac n' Cheese. Best mac and cheese I've ever tasted.
  3. My dinner at Hali'imaile- Macadamia Nut-crusted Mahimahi with Tropical Fruit Salsa, Passionfruit Butter Sauce, Coconut Mashed Sweet Potato (sweet potatoes are purple in Hawaii!), garnished with fried sweet potato

  1. Feeding the goats at Surfing Goat Dairy where they make the most amazing goat cheese. And where I was inspired to have a goat farm some day :)
  2. Sign for Mama's Fish House Restaurant. We stayed at the Inn at Mama's Fish House and it was fantastic.
  3. Appetizer of Tempura Shrimp with Macadamia Nut Dipping Sauce at Mama's Fish House


  1. My meal at Mama's Fish House. Opakapaka (sea bass) sauteed in white wine, garlic, capers, tomatoes.
  2. Tyler's meal at Mama's Fish House. Mahimahi stuffed with crab and lobster with a pineapple sauce.
  3. Dessert at Mama's Fish House called the Polynesian Black Pearl. It's Chocolate Mousse with a Passionfruit Cream center in a pastry/cookie shell. Stunning and delicious.

  1. Tray in our room with bananas, papaya, banana bread, Kona coffee, and a lime. Made yummy smoothies for breakfast with the fruit
  2. Beef burger at Ulupalakua Ranch
  3. Grilled squash with honey and feta at Ulupalakua Ranch

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No Halloween fun for me

I am mildly upset that I won't be here for Halloween. I say mildly because, hello! I'll be in Hawaii! But these I'd like to share these links for seriously awesome Halloween food that I will not be partaking in this year. I have not included links that made me slightly nauseous (like this one- haha tricked you into clicking on it!) Halloween party next year at my house!

Blood and Bones at Joy the Baker
Meat Head on Flikr (I know, so cool!)
Spiderweb Eggs from Martha Stewart
Is it just me or is this NOT SCARY AT ALL?
Bleeding Heart Cupcakes from Epicurious
Cocktail with a Spider in it from Foodnetwork
Brain Cupcakes on Flikr
These cakes are awesome
These are not (ok, they're "awesome")

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flu Be Gone Soup


Actually, Flu Stay Away Soup. The "Be Gone" part sounded cooler, like something a snake doctor would sell. Yes, the flu arrived at my house in full force on my husband yesterday. I cannot get sick right now! We are leaving for Hawaii in less than a week! Tyler (oh! he has a name!) is on the mend so he'll be good by the time we leave, but it's crunch time for me. So I decided to make some fortifying soup with lots of vegetables- aka vitamins, aka pump up my immune system to keep the flu away. And as an added bonus, it's delicious. Any vegetables that you have can go into this- swiss chard or spinach instead of kale, sweet potato instead of squash, or just throw in some extra veggies on top of the ones in the recipe below- but add softer veggies like zuccini at the end with the beans. I didn't have any bread (I know, shock and horror) to make croutons as a garnish, but some bread cubed small, tossed with olive oil, and toasted in the oven would not go amiss sprinkled on top of a bowl of this (hopefully) fortifying elixir.

WINTER MINESTRONE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 3 slices prosciutto, chopped*
  • 1 leek, white part only, washed, sliced into half moons**
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 large baking potato, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 14-oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 Parmesan rind, if available
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, cook for 3 minutes until slightly softened. Add prosciutto, cook 3 minutes. Add leeks, cook 3-5 minutes until softened. Add chicken stock, carrot, potato, squash, Parmesan, and thyme. Bring to a boil (I add the stock and then dice the potatoes, adding as I chop- quicker this way).

Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and squash are cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Add beans and kale, simmer 5 minutes to warm through and meld flavors.

Remove thyme stems and Parmesan rind. Add splash of lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

*I roll them up together then slice into ribbons, then run my knife through again
**Leeks are very sandy- I slice them lengthwise and run them under water to remove the dirt

Local Food


How long does something have to stick around before it moves from Trend to The Norm? Local food, the 100 mile diet, etc. For the last few years these have been the buzz words flying around the food world. Personally, I tend to cook what I like, not what is trendy. In fact, I'm more likely to make fun of a trend than to follow it. However. I think the local food idea is a good idea. I hope it sticks around here. Go to Europe and local food is generally how they live. I don't get excited about organic, no-spray and all that jazz, but I do want to support local farmers and businesses by trying to eat more food that is grown locally. Or at least in Canada. I have also had a small vegetable garden for the past couple of years. Tomatoes, zucchini, herbs and such. I think it is so cool to watch things grow that you planted!

So, my point. This post is not just a rant. I wasn't all that excited about all of this until just now. A couple of things are going into this equation- we are moving just outside of the city to a small community soon and so I have been imagining myself biking to the market or butcher and picking up something for dinner. The likelihood of this scenario? Not so much... but I just discovered something cool. On FoodTV.ca there is a banner on every recipe for finding local food for that recipe. This is a bit of a gimmick- the link doesn't list where you can buy the specific foods- but it does open another page where you can search by your postal code and get a list of places where you can get local (well, 100 mile) foods. Very cool. This led me to Baileys Local Foods, which buys food from local farmers and then you pick them up once a week. You can choose to order every week (in the summer, after October it's monthly) or just occasionally. You pick from their order form what you want based on what they have available and then pick it up a few days later. I just registered, so I haven't tried this yet, but it's a cool idea anyway. Their website is kind of preachy about the "local food movement", "carbon footprint" type stuff, but that tells me that they are passionate about what they are doing, which is a-ok with me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chaussons Aux Pommes


Golden buttery crust and warm soft apple filling. What's not to like about an apple turnover? Oh right... usually the filling is gloopy and pastry tastes like margarine rather than butter. But these are French apple turnovers. Everyone knows that everything tastes better in French (otherwise who would eat foie gras- fatty liver?). These Chaussons Aux Pommes from Bon Appetit November 2008 issue are like the best apple turnovers you've never had. They're from Molly Wiezenburg's (of Orangette fame) column which is one of my favorite reads each month- even if the recipe isn't something that interests me, the story behind the recipe is always delightful.

This is an easy recipe- the only "difficult" part is sealing the filling in the puff pastry. "Difficult" only because it's a little time consuming, but totally worth it. I made a double batch to bring to Christmas at my parents for dessert last year- I made them a few days in advance and froze them and they turned out perfectly.

CHAUSSONS AUX POMMES
Filling
  • 3/4 pound Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 pound Golden Delicious apples
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pastry
  • 2 sheets all-butter frozen puff pastry (President’s Choice sells a package of two), thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
  • Superfine sugar (optional)
FILLING: 1. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups). Place apples in medium saucepan; add 1/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until apples are very tender, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Gently mash apples with fork or potato masher until mixture is very soft but still chunky. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Filling can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
PASTRY: 3. Cut each pastry into nine squares. Place 1 scant tablespoon filling in center of each square. Lightly brush edges of 1 pastry with beaten egg. Fold half of pastry square over filling, forming triangle. Press and pinch pastry edges with fingertips to seal tightly. Lightly brush pastry with beaten egg. Sprinkle lightly with superfine sugar, if desired. Repeat with remaining squares. Using thin, sharp knife, make 3 small slits on top of each triangle to allow steam to escape. Place triangles on prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
4. Bake turnovers until beginning to color, about 15 minutes. Reverse baking sheets from top to bottom. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; continue baking until turnovers are firm and golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
***To freeze, place uncooked pastries in single layer on baking tray and freeze until firm. Place in freezer bag up to 1 month. Thaw on baking sheet and bake as above.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh-Ma-Gah-Good Granola



I've bookmarked and cut out of tons of recipes for granola. I finally made some and I'm sorry I waited so long. I now crave this stuff. This particular recipe- via Bitchincamero, via the New York Times- is so good. Not too sweet due to the olive oil, perfectly crunchy, just a hint of gingery spice. Oh, and maple syrup is one of my favorite things. The granola smells so delicious while it is baking I dare you not to try some every time you take it out of the oven to stir it around (you know, just to make sure it's cooking ok). I eat it with plain Greek yogurt (Astro Balkan Style Yogurt is a good grocery store option) at work as a snack. Actually, I didn't have time to eat a snack at work today. I'm going to have some right now. Out.

OLIVE OIL GRANOLA
Adapted from Bitchincamero who adapted from the New York Times
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds 
  • 1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix all the ingredients, except for the cranberries, in a large bowl.
Spread the oats onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven when the oats are crisp and golden.
Toss with the cranberries and let cool.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Deep Dish Pizza


Sundays in our house this time of year (actually, August to February) are for football and cooking. The husband watches about 9 hours of football and I cook, read, and nap during this time. Really, do Sundays get much better?

Yesterday I said I would cook him anything he wanted for Sunday as I had been sick and bitchy all this past week- who knew a canker sore could get so bad it required not one but two prescriptions? He wanted a Canadian deep dish pizza (bacon, pepperoni, mushroom) like at Pizza Hut. I remembered a recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Best of 2007 book that would be perfect. America's Test Kitchen (they do Cook's Illustrated among other magazines) never steers me wrong. They test their recipes to perfection and their books/magazines have a paragraph about the testing process. I may or may not have read their entire 900 page cookbook cover to cover because the testing process is so interesting.

So, the pizza. Don't be afraid of making your own dough! I used to be a yeast-o-phobe, but trust me, it's a simple as mixing and then waiting for it to rise. It really was just like Pizza Hut. Yumm... a crunchy, golden thick crust and browned cheese. Not in the least healthy of course- there's a bunch of oil in the bottom of the pan and you can actually hear the crust frying in the oven plus the cheese and such. But on the plus side the thick crust is filling so I could only eat one slice. For now...

CANADIAN PAN PIZZA
- Slightly adapted from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007
- Makes 2 pizzas- serves 4-6

Dough
  • 1/2 olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to 110 degrees F (lukewarm-too warm and you'll kill the yeast)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp) rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Topping
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 (3 oz) package sliced pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni- if you use this you can skip step 4 below)
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked in microwave until crispy, crumbled
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white mushrooms
  • 3 cups mozzarella or provolone cheese, shredded

1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees F. Once the oven is preheated turn it off. Now you have a warm place for the dough to rise. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 3 tbsp of oil each.

2. Mix the milk, sugar, 2 tbsp oil, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add flour and mix on low speed until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky and it is smooth and shiny. If not using a mixer, mix dough with a wooden spoon, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased bowl. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in warmed oven 30 minutes.

3. To Shape and Top the Dough: Divide the dough in half and lightly roll each half into a ball. Working with one ball at a time, roll each into a 9 1/2 inch round and press into oiled pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot (not in the oven) 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees F.

4. Place half of the pepperoni slices in a single layer on a large microwave safe plate linked with 2 paper towels. Place 2 more paper towels on top and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Discard paper towels and set aside pepperoni. Repeat with remaining pepperoni. This renders a lot of the fat from the pepperoni so that the grease doesn't pool on top of the pizza.

5. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Spread approx 2/3 cup of sauce on each round, leaving a 1/2 inch boarder around the edges. Arrange bacon and mushrooms over sauce, sprinkle each pizza with 1 1/2 cups cheese and top with pepperoni (I put the pepperoni underneath the cheese by accident). Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges- about 20 minutes. Remove pizzas from oven and let them rest in the pan for a couple of minutes before removing and cutting into wedges.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Inaugural Post


Well, here it goes. I have thought about creating a food blog for a while. I read a bunch of them, plus I love sharing food, recipes, etc. so I figured why the hell not.

I thought for days about what my first post should be. Since it's freezing outside (and only getting colder- I swear I'm meant to live somewhere warm) and I made a fantastic soup last week, I decided that soup would have the honor of being the subject of the inaugural post. Caldo Verde. It's a Portuguese soup that I had at a wedding at the end of August. The husband even ate it (he "doesn't like soup") so I knew I had to find a recipe for it. Kale, chorizo, potato are the main components. So good!

I made the soup again tonight in between watching episodes of Nurse Jackie on TMN On Demand (the 2nd night of binge watching the first season). The first time I cooked this soup I didn't weigh or measure anything, this time I did. It turns out I'm not very good at guestimating weights of things... there was about double the amount of potato in the soup this time. This time I also grated the potato using my food processor and it's grating blade rather than just cutting it into matchsticks. Either way is good, but grating it makes the soup thicker. Last time I also dropped in a rind from a spent Parmesan cheese into the soup while it was cooking as I had some in the freezer. I decided not to add it the second time around but if you can, add it. It doesn't make the soup cheesy- it rounds out the flavor and adds some seasoning.

By the way- the husband didn't like my version. There was "too much green stuff". He had a frozen burrito for dinner instead LOL.

CALDO VERDE
Serves 4-6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut small or grated
  • 5 cups chicken stock (low sodium if using store-bought)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/4 pound chorizo or linguica, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (I used President’s Choice mild chorizo that comes thinly sliced in a package)
  • 2 cups kale, shredded (easiest way to do this is roll the kale into a log and thinly slice, then run your knife through the pile of sliced kale just to be sure)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crusty bread, as an accompaniment
In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until softened, about 4 minutes. Add potatoes, chicken stock, crushed red pepper, and Parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Season with pepper, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until potatoes fall apart, 30-60 minutes depending how small you cut them. To speed up this process, the potatoes can be mashed with a potato masher.
When the soup is thick and the potatoes have broken up, whisk to break up the remaining potato pieces. Add the sausage and cook for 15 minutes. Remove Parmesan rind and stir in the shredded kale. Simmer until the leaves are softened but still slightly crunchy and flavors have melded, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread.
P.S. Here's some irony for you- I had to share. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've eaten a frozen entree at home, but I ended up eating a frozen pasta meal for lunch this afternoon at around 3pm as I forgot to eat all day while I was setting up this FOOD AND COOKING blog so I was starving and desperate.