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.


  • 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 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

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...

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

  • 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

  • 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.

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.