Saturday, December 19, 2009

Arugula and Cheese Pseudo-Frittata

Weekend breakfast is an ongoing experiment.  I wasn't in the mood today to bake muffins or scones and I was lacking the ingredients for a decent Tex-Mex breakfast (how did I run out of cheddar? and when did I stop keeping meat in the apartment?).  I turned to epicurious in search of inspiration.  I've never made a frittata before, but it sounded good.  The only problem was I only had two eggs and my smallest skillet would make a rather sad frittata with only two eggs, so I turned it into a baked egg dish instead (I'm beginning to think I need to pick up some ramekins after Christmas as I've fallen in love with the individual sized dishes).

I didn't have fontina cheese on hand, but I did have some leftover cheese (St. Aubin) from an evening of baguette and cheese.  The reviews also stated the dish lacked flavour and I wanted to add more vegetables.  Unfortunately, I haven't been stocking my kitchen this week with all of the holiday craziness, so I opted for some sun-dried tomatoes that I had in the fridge.  A little meat in this would probably also be amazing.  Finally, I wanted super fluffy eggs, so I added in some cream and milk (no half-and-half in the fridge).  For seasoning, I mixed in some garlic powder, onion powder, and italian herb mix with the eggs.

My version of the recipe below!

Arugula and Cheese Pseudo-Frittata (inspired by epicurious)


1 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp heavy cream
cheese, rind removed, cut into cubes
chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush a small, individual sized baking dish with olive oil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and italian seasoning.  Stir in cheese cubes.
3. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with arugula.  Top with sun-dried tomatoes or other meat and vegetables of choice.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
4. Pour egg mixture into the baking dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until eggs have puffed and are fully cooked.

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

In anticipation of a week of unhealthy eating (poutine, milkshakes, rum-soaked cupcakes ... oh my!), I decided I should try a healthy lunch for the week.  The original recipe includes mint which I skipped on.  I was also too lazy to chop the cherry tomatoes and arugula (I just bought arugula for salad) and it all worked out.

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad (from epicurious)


1 cup lentilles du Puy (French green lentils) or brown lentils
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 bunch arugula, stems discarded and leaves washed well, spun dry, and chopped
2 cups vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1. In a small saucepan simmer lentils in water to cover by 2 inches until tender but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes, and drain well. Transfer hot lentils to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cool lentils completely, stirring occasionally.
2. In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add couscous and salt. Remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely, stirring occasionally.
3. In a small bowl whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lentils and dressing into couscous. Chill salad, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 24.
4. Just before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Cream of Tomato Soup

When I lived in DC, I didn't cook much.  One of my frequent dinners was a cream of tomato and parmesan bisque (bought) with some oyster crackers and cheese ... healthy right?  I haven't seen that soup in stores since I moved here, so I'm on the lookout for something I can make that's similar.  This isn't it (even with some cheese added in), but it is delicious.  I skipped on the brandy/sherry as I didn't have any, but I'm leaving it in the recipe below because I assume it would be good.  The original recipe is also more complex, but my simplified version is below.  While straining would result in a better texture, it's very time consuming (and I need a strainer that actually strains!) and I don't know that the difference is worth it ... maybe if you're cooking for company.

 Cream of Tomato Soup (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)


2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
Salt and cayenne pepper
grated cheese (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes a bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
3. Blend together with an immersion blender.  Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Add grated cheese to taste if desired.  Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting

60 recipes on this thing in a little over 2 months.  Not bad, right?  I've been a little slow in posting this month, but I also haven't been cooking as much because things have been busy.  These are amazing though ... do not pass on this recipe!  The original recipe is a cake, but I turned them into cupcakes, as those are easier to take to deliver and share with people.  The best part of the recipe?  The leftover frosting and syrup!  Even though I halved the fudge frosting, I still had quite a bit left over.  In a stroke of deliciousness, I combined the leftover frosting and syrup into a delicious mixture of butter, sugar, chocolate, espresso, and rum.  A few nights later, I had some friends over for sushi.  Someone brought delicious chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate cookies + spiked fudge frosting = a little taste of heaven!

Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)


1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3. In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.
Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
4. Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Soak the cupcake with Espresso Syrup (below). Ice with Instant Fudge Frosting (below).

Espresso Syrup
Makes one cup
1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s
1. In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.

Instant Fudge Frosting
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth (or beat with a stand mixer).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

This is a quick, easy, healthy and delicious alternative to the Pasta Milano.  I followed a reviewers advice and heated the sundried tomatoes in their oil, but next time I think I'd follow the boiling water thing and just reserve the oil for later.  I also added some argula to the mix because I wanted some green in the pasta.  Spinach would probably have worked better.  Finally, I substituted vermicelli for spaghetti and cut back on the garlic.

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts (from epicurious)


1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 pound vermicelli
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
arugula or spinach
salt and pepper to taste
grated ricotta salata

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside to soften for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, in a small pan on low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the oil and garlic until golden. Set aside. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut the tomatoes into thin strips.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and place in a serving bowl. Add the cooked garlic, sun-dried tomato strips, pine nuts, and greens. Toss well. Stir in some of the reserved sun-dried tomato soaking liquid to moisten the pasta, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, topped with grated cheese.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Lentils aren't something I grew up eating, so this was my first time making lentils.  Simple recipe, tasty, and perfect for a cold winter day.  I had smaller lentils than what the recipe used, so I ended up with extra liquid and boiled the mixture for an extra 10 minutes with the lid off.  I think it would also make sense to use diced tomatoes instead of whole to skip the step of chopping the tomatoes in the food processor.  I also threw some garam masala in the mix, just because I like it and skipped the fresh thyme in favour of dried because the metro was out.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Barefoot Contessa at Home)


2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 gloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
2. Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.
3. Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Egg Drop

I was never big on eggs for breakfast before I moved to Montreal, but now that I've been here a while, I can safely say I'm fully hooked.  The brunch choices here on the weekends are amazing ... whether it's feta omelets at Byblos, fancier eggs at Resevoir, or just a skillet full of delicious saltiness at Cartet.  With no brunch plans for the weekend, I decided I should take my own stab at a gourmet (but easy!) breakfast.  Kayotic Kitchen gave me some inspiration, but I didn't have fresh tomatoes on hand and I certainly didn't want to have to use a skillet in addition to the oven dish!  Additionally, since when is breakfast one egg per person, Kay?

No measurements below because I just eyeballed it.  I put all of this is a little 16 oz baking dish and it was the perfect breakfast for one.

Need a vegetarian twist?  Substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the meat and add ricotta salata to the mix.

Egg Drop (inspired by Kayotic Kitchen)


a few slices of prosciutto
grated cheese (I had leftover smoked grueyere and used that)
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cover the bottom of a small baking dish with arugula.
3. Tear/chop prosciutto into strips and layer on top of arugula.
4. Top with a little bit of grated cheese.
5. Crack two eggs on top of the cheese.  If the yolk doesn't break, break it yourself, but don't mix up the egg.
6. Bake in preheated over for 15 minutes or until the egg whites are firm.
7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cranapple Crunch

What Thanksgiving is complete without cranberry sauce?  But why would I make cranberry sauce if I didn't have a turkey?  Such a dilemna!  Luckily, I have an amazing friend who gave me the suggestion for a cranberry casserole and sent a family recipe to try!  This was delicious.

Cranapple Crunch (from the Green family)


6 Cups tart apples
4 Cups fresh cranberries
2 Cups white sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 Cups brown sugar – packed
2 Cups quick oatmeal
2/3 Cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Combine apples, cranberries, sugar, lemon juice and salt in bowl.
2. Turn into large, shallow baking dish.
3. Combine brown sugar and oatmeal.
4. Cut in butter until mixture is crunchy.
5. Place on top of fruit mixture and bake for 1 hour.
6. Cool for 45 minutes for top to absorb juices.
7. Serve warm or reheat to serve hot.

Maple Cream Pie

As a nod to my home of the past year (and because this recipe looked too good to pass up), I decided to skip the more traditional pumpkin pie in favour of this maple cream pie (it's also redemption for my horrible screwup of a sugar cream pie last year).  This pie was a little overshadowed by the pecan pie, but was still absolutely delicious.

I used premade pie crusts and skipped the beginning pie crust cooking that you'll find in the original.  It seemed to turn out just fine.  I also didn't strain the mixture and the texture and taste seemed perfectly fine.

Maple Cream Pie (from Smitten Kitchen) (from NYTimes)


3/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust or tart shell.

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
4. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe makes a ridiculous amount of macaroni and cheese, so if you aren't hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for 12, I would recommend scaling it down.  It's also ridiculoulsly cheesy ... so if you aren't a fan of a milk cheese sauce where you might find a macaroni noodle if you're lucky, you might want to pass on this recipe.  If you are a fan, then enjoy, because this recipe is amazing!

I passed on the breadcrumbs on top.  I'm sure it's good with a crunchy topping, but it's still amazing without it and it does save some time.  I was also short on cheddar cheese for this recipe, but had some extra Monterrey Jack from making the broccoli casserole, so I used a mixture of roughly 4 cups equal amounts of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack.  It also was mild instead of sharp cheddar, but I'm sure it would be equally good as originally written.  Because I was a little light on the cheddar portion, I used a little extra smoked Gruyere.  I'll paste the recipe in as written for the cheeses, but feel free to play around to your heart's content!

Macaroni and Cheese (from Smitten Kitchen and Martha Stewart)


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 500g) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 225g) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 140g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
500g elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano) over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

I scaled this recipe up for Thanksgiving, but will be sharing the unscaled version with you!  This was simple, but delicious ... although it was somewhat overshadowed by the other Thanksgiving dishes.  That's ok though ... it's still wonderful.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes (from Kayotic Kitchen)


2 pounds potatoes, peeled, washed, and cut into pieces
2/3 cup of milk
175g Gouda, cubed
black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

1. Boil potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender.
2. When you have 10 minutes remaining on the potatoes, pour milk into a sauce pan and add in the Gouda.
3. Melt the cheese over low heat ... do not boil the milk!
4. Drain the potatoes.  Add butter, nutmeg, and the cheesy milk.
5. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher.

Cornbread Dressing

This was the one recipe I messed up on for Thanksgiving, but I think it turned out okay in the end!  While I realize, it's not a true southern cornbread dressing (or stuffing if you prefer that term), because it includes french bread (it shouldn't have any other bread ... or if you must put in other bread, it should really be leftover biscuits), I wanted to make it slightly more authentic by adding sage and eggs to help it stick together.  Unfortunately, my brain was not working until after I put the eggs into the hot broth mixture!  Insta-cooked eggs!  My one other change to this recipe was to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth out of consideration for vegetarian guests.

I've included the cornbread recipe first ... then the cornbread dressing.  The Metro near me sells corn flour and something that they translate as corn semolina which looks remarkably like cornmeal to me, but I'm not completely sure what it is!  Regardless, the mystery corn semolina seemed to work.

Cornbread (from Pioneer Woman)


¼ cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Shortening
1 cup Yellow Corn Meal
½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
½ cups Milk
1 whole Egg
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Baking Soda

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Heat 2 tbsp shortening in an iron skillet, muffin pan, or other baking pan.
3. Combine corn meal, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, and egg. Add baking powder and baking soda. Stir.   Mix with corn meal mixture.
5. Melt 1/4 cup shortening in microwave.  Add to mixture, stirring constantly.
6. Pour into hot pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

Cornbread Dressing (from Pioneer Woman)


1 whole Pan Of Cornbread
1 loaf French Bread, Somewhat Crusty
1/2 cup Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
2 cups Celery, Chopped
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth)
¼ cups Fresh Parsley, Chopped
½ teaspoons Dried Basil
2 teaspoons (to 3 Teaspoons) Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
½ teaspoons Thyme
Salt To Taste
2 eggs

1. Chop the cornbread and loaf of French bread up into 1-inch cubes. Spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours.
2. Warm up a large skillet over medium heat and add butter. When it’s melted add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until onions are almost translucent. While it’s cooking chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.
3. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add ½ a teaspoon of basil, ½ teaspoon of ground thyme, a few teaspoons of fresh chopped rosemary and ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley. Stir until combined.
4. Allow the broth mixture to cool.  Beat eggs in a separate bowl, then add to the cooled broth mixture.
5. Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasoning and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully. You don’t want to over salt your stuffing. If the mixture is not quite moist enough add a bit more chicken broth and stir.
6. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Broccoli Casserole

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a broccoli casserole, but I didn't want a recipe that relied on cream of mushroom soup.  I almost passed on this recipe, because I'm not a huge fan of the texture of mushrooms, then I noticed the comment that suggested blending the sauce after the mushrooms have been added ... brilliant!  I ended up using plain white mushroom because that's what they had at the Metro and I was too lazy to check elsewhere, but it was still delicious.  I reduced the cooking temperature and extended the cooking time so I could cook other dishes at the same time.  I also substituted vegetable broth for chicken stock so that the vegetarian guests weren't forced to avoid the dish!  Finally, the bag of broccoli I bought was 500 g and I ended up using most of it (about double what the recipe called for!).

Broccoli Casserole (from foodnetwork)


3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for casserole dish
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound shiitake or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
400g frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey blend
3 cups cooked rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat over to 350F. Butter casserole dish.
3. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter and flour over medium heat until golden in color to make a quick roux. The roux should resemble the color of peanut butter.
4. Add onion, garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, heavy cream and chicken stock.  Stir and allow the sauce to thicken a bit.
5. Add in mushrooms.  Blend until smooth using an immersion blender.
6. Add broccoli, 1 cup of the cheese, and rice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
7. Pour into buttered dish and top with remaining cheese.
8. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 40 minutes.

Buttermilk Biscuits

While dinner rolls would be more traditional for Thanksgiving at my grandma's house, there's no way I could find a recipe to replicate her delicious rolls, so I decided to go for something equally dear to my heart ... buttermilk biscuits.  These won't rise as much as the canned kind, but they are delicious.

The recipe calls for the use of a food processor, but my food processor can't hold quantities as large as this recipe, so I made due with the pastry blender attachment.  All tips have been included here.  The only other change I made was to melt some butter to brush on top of the biscuits before they went in the oven.

Buttermilk Biscuits (from recipezaar)


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board (if you can get White Lily flour, your biscuits will be even better)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder (use one without aluminum)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (approx ... I ended up using closer to 1 cup)

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor.
3. Cut the cold butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
4. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
5. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
6. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk.
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
8. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick.
9. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds (or a drinking glass).
10. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
11. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.
12. If you like"crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
13. Brush with melted butter.
14. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
15. Do not overbake.
16. Note: The key to real biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough.
17. The dough must be handled as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits.
18. I have found that a food processor produces superior biscuits, because the ingredients stay colder and there's less chance of overmixing.
19. You also must pat the dough out with your hands, lightly.
20. Rolling with a rolling pin is a guaranteed way to overstimulate the gluten, resulting in a tougher biscuit.

Pecan Pie

I've always been more of a cake, cupcake, and brownie kind of girl, so the idea of making pies for Thanksgiving was a bit daunting, but since Thanksgiving is a traditionally pie holiday, I decided to give it a shot.  I cheated and used pre-made pie shells ... maybe next year I'll be braver with that! 

Initially I was going to use a pecan pie recipe from Homesick Texan, but then I decided to compare the recipe to others out there.  In the process, I discovered this recipe that didn't use Karo syrup.  Not wanting to have to buy Karo syrup for one recipe and then have it go to waste in my cabinet, I decided to give it a try ... and we have a winner!  Best served warm with vanilla ice cream.  The only change to this recipe that I made was to reduce the cooking temperature and extend the cooking time.

Pecan Pie (from allrecipes)


1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts.
3. Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 50 minutes, or until done.

Spinach Pomegranate Salad

I decided that for Thanksgiving, I was slightly heavy on carb and cheese based dishes and should be serving something a little more green and healthy.  Initially, I was leaning towards a very holiday-ish recipe I'd seen on Smitten Kitchen (mainly arugula, pomegranate seeds, and proscuittio), but I wanted to avoid having meat, so I went searching for other inspiration and found this ... simple, yet delicious.  I left out the red onion and alfalfa.  Toss with whatever dressing you love.  I used a honey balsamic, but I think most people just ignored the dressing!

And in case you're wondering, the easy way to get the pomegranate seeds out is to cut the ends off and the score the pomegranate.  In a bowl of cold water, take the pomegranate apart so you don't splash yourself with the juices.  The seeds will sink to the bottom and the fleshier parts will float.  Skim the top, then drain the seeds.

UPDATE:  With plenty of leftover pomegranate seeds on hand and some prosciutto in the fridge crying out to be used, I tried a variation on this salad last night that was amazing.  Substitute the spinach for arugula and add some strips of prosciutto ... delicious!

Spinach Pomegranate Salad (from allrecipes)


250g baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated

1. Place spinach in a salad bowl. Top with walnut, feta, and pomegranate seeds.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cake was my favourite when I was little.  Forget rich chocolate cakes, red velvet (without the cream cheese frosting!) is pure comfort food for me.  This recipe isn't exactly right, but it's still good!  (Finally I found a more authentic recipe later, so if you want to try it, go here!) I cut down on the red food colouring and used a different frosting recipe than the original site (also included).  The recipe has also been scaled down to be a 2/3 recipe as I didn't want a ridiculous number of cupcakes.  The frosting recipe has been scaled by 1/2 and the whipping cream was left out.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss via the New York Times 2/14/07)

2 1/3 cups cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
slightly less than 1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
1 2/3 teaspoons white vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper lines
2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter among cupcake liners, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (adapted from recipezaar)


1/2 cup butter, softened (no subs)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 ounces white chocolate or white baking bar, melted and cooled

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners sugar at low speed until fluffy.
2. Add in melted white chocolate.
3. Beat on high for at least 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Peanut Flavoured Potatoes

This is another post-flu recipe.  I had things in the fridge, but none of them were whetting my appetite.  For some reason peanut butter seemed to pique my interest.  I went to Kayotic Kitchen to check the ingredients for the peanut soups that had caught my eye earlier ... I didn't have all of the ingredients for one of the recipes and the other one required that you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand and I was too lazy to make mashed potatoes solely for the soup.  Then I found this recipe.  Simple, yet tasty looking and best of all I had all of the ingredients ... including chili pepper in the freezer!  The sauce here would also be excellent for a meat dish.

Peanut Flavoured Potatoes (from Kayotic Kitchen)


1 pound potatoes, peeled, washed, and diced
3 tbsp peanut butter
5 tbsp chicken broth
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 small chili pepper, diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oil 

1. Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl.  Fill with water, add a dash of salt, and microwave for 10 minutes or until parboiled.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, 2 tbsp broth, ginger, curry powder, oil, and soy sauce.  Whisk until you have a thick paste.
3. Stir in chili pepper and garlic.
4. Add remaining 3 tbsp broth and sugar.  Still until it is a smooth sauce.
5. Drain the potatoes and place them in a baking dish.
6. Coat the potatoes in the peanut sauce.  Place the dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.  Every 15 minutes or so, stir the potatoes and sauce so it doesn't burn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

Once again, a recipe from the "I should not be cooking while I have the flu" collection.  I don't understand it, I had a giant batch of carrot soup made, plenty of leftovers in the freezer, and no appetite, so why did I need to try new recipes?  In this case, I was worried the swiss chard was going to go bad.  It's such a good-for-you vegetable too (as are sweet potatoes!) so it seemed a shame not to make this dish.

Unfortunately, I was sick and didn't have the patience to let the sauce thicken properly.  Nor did I have the patience to properly drain the chard, so it ended up slightly liquidy to say the least.  Next time, I'd mix the cheese in with the sauce to help ensure it thickened properly and to simplify the layering.  Directions below are made to include this change.

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin (from Smitten Kitchen)


1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 140g) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

Make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Slowly add in cheese, whisking the entire time.  Continue heating and stirring until sauce is thick.  Season sauce with salt and pepper and fresh or dried herbs..

Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of green mixture.  Repeat.  Pour cheese sauce mixture over top.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tortellini with Walnut & Mascarpone Sauce

I don't think trying new recipes while you have the flu is generally recommended, but I couldn't resist.  I had gone through all the trouble to find the amazing store known as Milano to buy mascarpone (and fresh pasta, ricotta salata, and all sorts of yummy delicious things that snuck into my bag).  I couldn't bear the idea of letting the pasta go to waste or the spinach that I'd been saving for a pasta dish.  So, on the second day of flu misery, I cooked!  It probably would've helped if I'd had an appetite.  My changes to this recipe were to add fresh spinach to add some colour and healthiness to the dish and to add some lemon zest as suggested.  I didn't have fresh parsley and I couldn't exactly run out to get some so I passed on that.

Tortellini with Walnut & Mascarpone Sauce (from Kayotic Kitchen)


1/2 a small onion, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
85g walnuts (her directions say 7 oz walnuts, but the ingredient list says 3 oz, I think the 3 is closer to the mark)
200g tortellini (cheese or spinach)
5 tbsp mascarpone
30g parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp oil

1. Toast walnuts in a hot, dry skillet.  Chop in a food processor.
2. Mix together mascarpone and parmesan in a small bowl.
3. Cook tortellini according to package.
4. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a pan.  Saute onion until soft.  Add in garlic.
5. Add the cheese mixture, stirring until the cheese melts. 
6. Add walnuts, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. 
7. Transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce pan.  Add in fresh spinach to taste.  Stir until well-mixed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Creamy Carrot Soup

The Val-Mont had carrots on sale the other week ... 5 lbs for 99 cents.  Of course, I only needed 2 or 3 carrots for my recipes, but they were 99 cents! So I decided to try making carrot soup.  This recipe came out a little thin (or maybe it just seems thin after the hearty potato soup that was closer to mashed potatoes).  Next time, I'd cut down on the broth and/or cream.  I did substitute 1 cup whole milk for 1 cup heavy cream ... just because I had extra whole milk sitting in the fridge that I wanted to get rid of.  I didn't have rosemary, so I substituted a blend of Italian herbs.

Creamy Carrot Soup (from allrecipes)


 1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, cubed
4 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. In a Dutch oven, saute onion in butter until tender.
2. Add carrots, potato, broth and ginger.
3. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Blend with an immersion blender.
5. Stir in the cream, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Potato Soup

Is there anything better than potatoes, cream, and cheese?  This is a very thick soup.

Potato Soup (from Kayotic Kitchen)


6 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp mustard powder
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese

1. Peel, wash, and dice potatoes.
2. Chop onions and mince garlic.
3. Melt butter in a pot.  Add garlic and onions.  Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add mustard and flour, cook stirring for 1 minute.
5. Add potatoes and chicken broth.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
6. Hand mash the potatoes, then blend with a handblender. 
7. Add cream and cheese.  Mix until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bread Pudding

I can't recall ever having bread pudding before, so I'm not certain that this tastes like bread pudding, but I thought it was good.  I made a lot of substitutions, so this is my heavily adapted version.  Next time I would chop the pecans up and maybe pass on the craisins and just put in more pear or apple.

Bread Pudding (adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from Melissa Murphy and David Page via Food & Wine)


1 pound bakery white or challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pear, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup (6 ounces) craisins, plumped in hot water for 15 minutes
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6 minutes, until crisp. Transfer to a bowl and add the pear and craisins.
2. Generously butter either a 9×13-inch deep baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer or whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar. Beat in the ground spices, vanilla and salt.
4. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the maple syrup until just warm to the touch. Gradually beat the warm milk into the egg mixture, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl.
5. Spread bread mixture out in your large baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread mixture, nudging the bread around a bit to make sure it soaks all of the pieces. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the pecans on top. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, until puffed and set, with the tops lightly browned. Let the bread pudding rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

My apologizes for the delay, but I burnt myself out overbaking last weekend ... and then I had a refrigerator full of delicious leftovers from the baby shower.  I decided to ease myself back into cooking that I should retry a risotto recipe I horribly mangled before when I couldn't find risotto rice at the Metro.  For attempt #2, I had the proper rice and bliss was found.  This time around, I skipped the William Walters sausage out of pure laziness, but I'm sure it'd be even better with my favourite chevreuil aux vin rouge.

I cut down the spinach and lazily just used baby spinach without chopping.  It could've used more spinach, but I was saving some for cooking later in the week.  I threw in some garlic powder and Italian seasoning out of boredom while waiting for it to cook ... not included below, but have fun throwing things in.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto from Smitten Kitchen (and Martha Stewart!)


1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
100g baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter  

  1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
  5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Layer Cake

This dessert got completely shown up by the mint brownies, but is still amazing in it's own right.  I was unable to properly sieve the raspberry sauce, so I ended up leaving the seeds in, which looked a little odd, but was still tasty.  Warning: this makes a big cake!

Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Smitten Kitchen (from Gourmet)


For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting
8 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter

For raspberry filling
1 600g bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch 

Make cake layers:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease 2 10 inch round pans pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
2. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
3. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.
4. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
5. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
1. Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
3. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable.

Make filling:
1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor, blender or immersion blender.
2. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds.
3. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta

One of my favourite cheeses in Quebec is Providence Oka.  It's like butter and I've had more nights than I care to admit when I've made bread and oka into my dinner.  I decided it was finally time to cook with it.  So, I adapted a recipe I tried before and was slightly underwhelmed with.  I think this version is a keeper for me.

Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta


250g spiral-shaped pasta
500g slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish
1 wheel of Providence Oka cheese
Fresh lemon juice to taste
toasted pine nuts

1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is almost tender, or about three minutes shy of what the package suggests.
2. Add asparagus and cook until firm-tender, another two to three minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus together.
3. Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil and pine nuts in a bowl.  Add cheese, cut up (or spooned up) into pieces with the rind removed.
4. Pour mixture into the pot the pasta was in.  Add pasta and asparagus back to the dish, stirring until the cheese is melted.
5. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta

Work has been draining this week, so on the walk home today, I was incredibly tempted to just stop at the new sushi place near my house.  Instead, I dragged myself home and cooked.  How can a recipe that's so simple and so easy be delicious?  And it can almost be considered healthy.  It's just craziness.  This is not a pretty dish.  This is not a dish to serve to company, because it doesn't look appetizing. 

I was too tired to even think about doing creative substitutions.  I did substitute crushed chilis for dried pepper flakes and used a bit more than a pinch because I like spice.  I also left out the onion and scaled down most of the recipe, except for the cheese.  Measurements below have not been adjusted.

Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Chez Panisse Vegetables)


2 heads cauliflower
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
500g whole-wheat pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
White wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
4 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese 

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cut the cauliflower into small flowerets. Peel the onion and slice it very thin. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Put the pasta on to cook.
2. Saute the cauliflower in olive oil in a large saute pan.
3. When the cauliflower begins to soften, season with salt and pepper and add the sliced onion and red pepper flakes. Saute over medium to high heat until the vegetables are brown and tender. The cauliflower should still be slightly crunchy and should not taste steamed.
4. Add the garlic and remove from the heat, tossing and stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn; if it starts to brown, add a splash of water. Add a few drops each of vinegar and lemon juice and the toasted walnuts. Taste and correct the seasoning.
5. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the cauliflower, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the pasta thoroughly, toss together and serve, with the cheese crumbled over the dish.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake

I don't like yogurt as a snack.  I realize that makes me a bit odd, but there you have it.  So when I bought yogurt to make butter chicken and realized I'd accidentally gotten too much, I figured that was the universe saying I needed to try this recipe.  Why else would I have two extra lemons and a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer on hand?

I really should have thawed the blueberries as even after leaving the cake in the oven for an hour or so, a tiny bit of it was still undercooked ... oh well, it was still delicious.  I reduced the oil to 1/3 cup and used olive oil.  Go to the original site for ideas on additional variations you can try.  They seem endless.

Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Ina Garten)


 1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsps grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
2. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
4. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
6. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.


Simplicity at it's best.  Just don't tell me if you shred the meat.

I don't think I found pork butt, so I used a random cut and a random amount of pork, but it came out close enough.

Carnitas (from Homesick Texan ... adapted from Diana Kennedy)


1.5 kg of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 tsp of salt

1. Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.
2. After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.
3. When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).

Ninfa's Green Sauce

I have a slightly obsession with green sauce.  Chuy's bean burrito with tomatillo sauce is one of my biggest cravings.  This sauce is amazing.  Great for dipping chips or tortillas, it can be poured over burritos, or pair it with the carnitas recipe I'll be posting shortly.

I couldn't find fresh tomatillos or jalapenos here, so I had to use canned.  For the tomatillos, I could find canned whole tomatillos, so that was easy, but for the jalapenos, I could only find canned diced jalapenos, so I used 2 heaping tbsp of the canned diced stuff.  The result is a sauce that isn't super spicy, but does have a tiny bit of warmth.  I was able to find green tomatoes at Jean Talon (for $1 a bushel!), but they were super tiny, so I doubled the green tomatoes.  Original recipe instructions are included below for people more likely to find the proper veggies.  Oh, and if you're looking for cilantro in Montreal, it's coriandre.

Ninfa's Green Sauce (from Homesick Texan)


3 medium-sized green tomatoes, coarsely chopped (you can substitute yellow if you can’t find green ones, but never use red)
4 tomatillos, cleaned and chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3 small garlic cloves
3 medium-sized ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
4 sprigs cilantro
1 tsp. of salt
1 1/2 cups of sour cream

1. Combine chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil (tomatoes provide the liquid), reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Place tomato mixture with the avocados, cilantro and salt in food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
4. Pour into a bowl and stir in sour cream.

Flour Tortillas

While I have not yet mastered the fine art of rolling a tortilla out thinly into a nice round circle, these are still amazingly good.  Much better than the sad bags of Old El Paso tortillas you'll find in Montreal ... not to mention cheaper!  I still can't believe they charge more than $3 for 8 - 10 tortillas.

Flour Tortillas (from Homesick Texan ... adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)


2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cups warm milk

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil.
2. Slowly add the warm milk.
3. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
4. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.
5. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
6. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
7. After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
8. In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
9. Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dutch Winter Stew

Is it wrong to decide to make a recipe because it uses the most ugly vegetable (celeriac or céleri-rave in French) I've ever seen in the Metro around the corner? It also seemed like the perfect meal for a cold, gray, rainy day.

I stuck mostly to the recipe on this, but scaled down the amount of meat to slightly less than 0.5 kg (and scaled down the ground mustard accordingly). I had plenty of shallots on hand and only one onion left, so I switched to shallots. And because I had an open bottle of red wine with only one cup of wine left, I subbed that for beer. The wine (Saint-Emilion from Bordeaux) gave it an amazing smell while cooking ... 20 minutes into the cooking, I was starving!  Also, no fresh thyme on hand, so I used dried and I didn't see any celeriac leaves, so I threw in some bay leaves.

The end result?  A delicious, satisfying stew with just the right amount of veggies to balance the meat.
Dutch Winter Stew (from Kayotic Kitchen)
0.5 kg beef, cubed
1 shallot, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celeriac root, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
3 bay leaves
dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, curry powder, and paprika.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on meat.  Cover in mustard powder.
3. Melt butter in a stew pot over medium heat.  Add in meat and cook for 5 minutes or so.
4. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.  Add celeriac, carrots, and garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
5. Sprinkle in flour mixture, coat and cook for 1 minutes.
6. Add wine, thyme, beef broth, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer at low heat for 75 minutes.
7. Add potatoes and leek and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leek, Ham, and Cheese Quiche

I have a confession to make ... I've never made a quiche on my own before and I wasn't even sure if I liked leeks when I made this recipe.  I don't think quiches are very popular in the South ... or maybe it's just Texas.  I can't remember ever having a quiche when I was little or even noticing them in the store.  Maybe I was oblivious though.  Clearly, this recipe is not healthy, but it is delicious.  I stacked the deck against this recipe and made it ahead of time (on a night of cooking madness when I made 3 recipes), then tried to reheat it in the stove, only to get impatient, cut into it, and realize it wasn't fully heated.  One minute in the microwave and it was perfect for eating.  But, even after all of that abuse, it was amazingly good.  The perfect end to a long day at work and the first snow of the season (I'm not counting the flurries a week or two ago that could have been written off as imaginary) and the unhealthiness can almost be justified by the body design class today.

I found my pie tin was too small and I couldn't use all of the ham and I overflowed the cream mixture, so try to find a deep pie tin if you can.  I left off the onion, just because I don't like the texture, but feel free to add it back in!

Leek, Ham, and Cheese Quiche (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Le Pain Quotidien)


2 leeks, diced
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter, diced
4 eggs, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch pepper
1 1/2 cups diced ham (1/4 -inch dice; about 250g)
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

1. Heat a large sauté pan over low heat. Sauté the leeks in the olive oil 30 to 40 minutes until caramelized, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix it until a dough forms.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate and press to remove any air bubbles. (I was having difficulty rolling ... nothing was going right for me on this cooking night! ... and found the dough a little dry.  Then, I remembered when I helped Sophie make quiches that she just kind of spread it around the dish without this step, so I think you can cheat here.)  Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. While the quiche shell chills, mix the heavy cream and sour cream in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining three eggs. Add a pinch each nutmeg, salt and pepper and combine to form a batter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Remove the quiche shell from the refrigerator and spread the leeks evenly over the base. Sprinkle the ham and then the cheese over the leeks. Pour in the batter and place the quiche in the oven.
6. Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

This is one of those recipes that is quick and easy and infinitely adaptable.  I'll give you the recipe that I made, but really, listen to Kay and just put whatever you want in it.  I had cherry and sweet and sour dipping sauces in the fridge, so I pulled those out and they worked great.

Chinese Scallion Pancakes (from Kayotic Kitchen)


3 scallions (green onions/spring onions), chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on your broth)
2 bacon slices, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4" inch slice of ham chopped
1/4 tsp sesame oil
oil for frying

1. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
2. Mix in all the other ingredients except the frying oil.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet.
4. Pour 1/4 of the batter in the skillet.  Cook until the edges turn brown, flip.  Cook a couple more minutes.
5. Repeat until you have a total of 4 delicious pancakes.

Lemon Bars

I'm not fully convinced of this recipe, but other people seemed to love it, so what do I know?  The bottom layer seemed a little hard and less than amazing to me.  Maybe a little more butter next time or a little less flour?  It just seemed to dry and dense.  I scaled it down to fit a smaller pan as 9x13 seemed like way too much lemony goodness for me!

Lemon Bars (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)


For the crust:
1/3 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
pinch of kosher salt

For the lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a less than 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.
2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
3. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
4. For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Asian Style Green Beans

The original recipe calls for pine nuts, but I skipped those for no other reason than I forgot to look for pine nuts at the store.  It was good without them, but feel free to add.

Asian Style Beans from Kayotic Kitchen


String beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Ginger (thumb sized piece, grated)
1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (or 1 tbsp soy sauce + pinch of brown sugar)
1 tsp chili sauce
1/4 tsp chili powder

1. Parboil the beans in lightly salted water for 13 minutes or so.
2. Heat oil in pan.  Saute the bell pepper and then add the onion.
3. Add ginger and garlic to the pan.
4. When the beans are ready, drain them and rinse with cold water.
5. Add beans, chili powder, soy sauce, and chili sauce to the onion and pepper.
6. Stir until beans are cooked, then serve.

Pork Strips

I can't remember the last time I've cooked with pork (unless you count bacon), so I guess now is as good a time as any to get back in the habit.  This is a simple, light stir fry.  Slightly sweet, but with a little bit of heat.  Serve with rice and extra veggies (or throw more veggies on the frying pan).  I scaled down the amount of pork, but left the amount of sauce and bell pepper the same.  If you aren't doing a side vegetable, I would increase the bell pepper.

Kay's Pork Strips from Kayotic Kitchen


6 pork cutlets, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp apricot jelly (she says you can use any jelly - apricot, orange, peach ... I ended up using jam)
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil (I think I forgot this ... oops!  It was a long day.)
1 tsp ginger (or a tbsp), freshly grated (I think I forgot this ... oops!  It was a long day.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 chopped chili pepper (I upped this to a full chili pepper)
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
3 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp oil

1. In a bowl, whisk together jelly, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and pinch of salt.
2. Cover pork in marinade and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan.  Add pork strips.  Do not stir immediately.  Let the sauce caramelize.  After a few minutes when the pork starts to turn white, flip it.
4. Add bell pepper and onions.  Cook until done, but don't overcook the pork.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Potato and Bacon Muffins

The first time I saw the pictures of these, I knew I had to make them.  Potatoes, bacon, cheese ... what's not to love?  The original author serves them as a dinner side, but I think it can qualify as breakfast too ... these are all ingredients that are found in a good Montreal breakfast, so why not?

The only downside to this recipe is it requires leftover mashed potatoes.  I couldn't wait until after Thanksgiving for leftover mashed potatoes, so I made a quick mini-batch last night while the chicken curry masala was cooking.

This recipe is as good as it looks/sounds, but I do have one change.  If you didn't put much garlic in your mashed potatoes, go ahead and add 1 tsp of garlic powder when you're mixing everything together.

Potato and Bacon Muffins (from Kayotic Kitchen)


1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup grated cheese (I used medium Cheddar)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder (if your mashed potatoes are lacking garlic)
2 tsp salt
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 cup milk
4 - 5 slices bacon
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Cook bacon and drain on paper towels.  Crumble in a small dish.
3. Cook onion in bacon grease.
4. In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes and milk.
5. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the potato mixture.
6. Add sour cream, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and butter.
7. Stir in bacon, onions, and cheese.
8. Add flour and baking powder.  Stir.
9. Butter muffins pan liners (the silicone muffin tins work great with this recipe!).  Fill 12 - 14 muffin tins or 6 large muffin tins.
10. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes depending on the size of your muffin tins.

Chicken Curry Masala

This smells amazing when it's cooking, so make sure you're not starving when you start cooking.  I made this last night and only used half of the chicken that the original recipe called for, so the gravy seemed to be a little bit runny, but we'll see if it's less liquid-y as leftovers.  I was apparently tired when I went to the grocery store and invested in safflower oil instead of sunflower oil ... close enough I hope.

Chicken Curry Masala (from Kayotic Kitchen)


1 kg chicken (with bones)
1 large onion
1-2 red chili peppers, deseeded
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp curry powder (Suriname masala is prefered)
5 tbsp sunflower oil
8 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 cup water
2 to 3 bay leaves 

1. Use a food processor to chop together the onion and chili pepper.  It will become a pretty orange mixture.
2. Add garlic, salt, curry, and 1 tbsp of oil.  Mix together.  It should smell delicious.
3. Place chicken in a dish and score a few times.  Rub marinade into chicken.  Cover dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Add 4 tbsp oil to a dutch oven.  Heat over medium heat.  Cook chicken until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove chicken from pan.  Pour in 1 1/2 cup water and stir to loosen bits stuck to the pan.
6. Crumble in chicken bouillon.  Add 2 - 3 bay leaves and potatoes. 
7. Place chicken on top of the potatoes, crack lid and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, shuffling occasionally so things don't stick.

Aunt Mary's Craisin Blue Cheese Salad

I had a salad similar to this when I was visitng my aunt and uncle to pick up my cat.  I don't know the original origin, nor do I know the exact amounts that I mix together, so I suggest you just do what looks good to you.

Aunt Mary's Craisin Blue Cheese Salad


arugula (or other salad greens), washed
grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
pears, washed and chopped
pecans (or walnuts), chopped
blue cheese, crumbled
red bell pepper, washed and chopped (optional)
Craisins (dried cranberries)
olive oil
balsalmic vinegar

1. Combine arugula, tomatoes, pears, and bell pepper in a large bowl.
2. Top with pecans, blue cheese, and craisins to taste.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar.

Sesame Green Beans

This recipe is simple, yet delicious.  It's a good change of pace from garlicy green beans.

Sesame Green Beans (from


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
500g fresh green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add sesame seeds. 
2. When seeds start to darken, stir in green beans. Cook, stirring, until the beans turn bright green.
3. Pour in chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until beans are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. 
4. Uncover and cook until liquid evaporates.

Southwestern Egg Rolls

These are great finger foods to take to a party.  The original recipe contains chicken, but I've made it vegetarian.  It's also been scaled up to feed more people.  To save time the day of the event, you can make the wraps the day before and cook them the day of.  You can also add jalapeno peppers if you think your guests can handle the heat.

Southwestern Egg Rolls (adapted from


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 minced green onion
1 minced red bell pepper
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh spinach, rinsed
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
20 (6 inch) flour tortillas

1. Heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in green onion and red pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until tender.
2. Mix in corn, black beans, spinach, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until well blended and tender. 
3. Remove from heat and stir in Monterey Jack cheese so that it melts.
4. Wrap tortillas with a clean, lightly moist cloth. Microwave on high approximately 30 seconds, or until hot and pliable.
5. Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each tortilla. Fold ends of tortillas, then roll tightly around mixture. (I ended up folding these like mini-burritos and placing them in a baking dish fold side down.)

6. Store in baking dish in refrigerator until needed.  Preheat oven to 450F.
7. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly crispy and heated through.  To help with crispiness, you can brush with melted butter.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Easy, but not quick.  Just toss it in the slow cooker and forget it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup (adapted from


1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can tomato sauce
1 can or bottle beer
2 smaller cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package taco seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
shredded Cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese and tortilla chips in the slow cooker. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours.
3. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

I love biscuits.  Croissants are good, but sometimes I just crave the salty goodness of biscuits.  When I was little, Red Lobster won hands down for biscuits.  I was never crazy about their food, but could be convinced to go there based solely on the biscuits.  I found this recipe while searching online for something to make for breakfast one morning.  I didn't want to go to the grocery store and had no eggs available, so my options for baking were limited.  Luckily, I found this gem.

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (adapted from


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1 1/3 cup milk

1. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening until it resembles crumbles.
2. Preheat oven to 375F and butter a baking sheet.
3. Add cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, and milk to flour mix.  Mix until dough is firm.
4. Scoop into biscuit-sized pieces on baking sheet.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Peanut Butter Noodles

I found this recipe while searching for something that I could make that was quick and would not require having to go grocery shopping.  It fits the bill and has been a fall back recipe more than once now.

Peanut Butter Noodles (from


1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons hot chile paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces Udon noodles (or spaghetti/fettuccine noodles)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. 
3. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. 
4. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

Penne Arrabiata Sauce

The original recipe for this includes chicken, but I prefer it just as a pasta sauce.  You might as well make the sauce in a big batch and freeze it for later.  The original calls for diced tomatoes, but I accidentally picked up crushed tomatoes the first time around (no idea what the size was of the can) and I think I preferred the crushed.  Serve with cooked penne pasta.

Penne Arrabiata (adapted from


1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
2. Add the garlic, and saute for a few minutes. 
3. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, and saute for another minute. 
4. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce, and add the basil. 
5. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bourbon Chicken

Easy to make, but it tastes amazing (even if it does have ketchup in it!  definitely not authentic Chinese, but that's ok).  Add your favourite stir fry veggies and rice.

Bourbon Chicken (from


0.5 kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
2. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
3. Remove chicken.
4. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium. Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
5. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Kung Pao Chicken

This is a great recipe to make in large quantities and then enjoy leftovers for the rest of the week.  You can cook the stir fry veggies in with the sauce if you're trying to keep from dirtying too many dishes.

Kung Pao Chicken (adapted from


0.5 kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs - cut into chunks
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp mirin (rice wine), divided
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp sesame oil, divided
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
2 tbsp hot chile paste (more or less to taste)
4 tsp distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
250g chopped peanuts
stir fry veggies
cooked rice

1. To Make Marinade: Combine 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together. Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2. To Make Sauce: In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup mirin, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onion, garlic, and peanuts. In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic.
3. Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and saute in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is aromatic, add sauteed chicken to it and let simmer together until sauce thickens. 
4. Serve with stir fry veggies and rice.

Pasta Milano

Simple to make, but this tastes gourmet.  The original recipe had chicken, but I think I like it better without the chicken.  I usually make it with Trapiche Chardonnay (yes, I'm biased towards Trapiche for reasons unknown to me!).  It reheats fairly well if you leave the pasta and sauce separate.

Pasta Milano (adapted from

1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (or you can leave them unchopped if you're lazy)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
250g dry penne pasta

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 
2. Add the tomatoes, broth, and wine; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. 
3. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. 
4. Add the cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir in basil.
5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

This recipe is great for when you're hosting a party.  Vegetarian friendly, easy to scale up, and easy to make.

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas (adapted from


1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder (or a chopped onion)
1 tbsp cumin (more or less to taste)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1. Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Saute garlic.  
2. Mix in beans and corn. Add sugar, onion powder, cumin, salsa, and pepper flakes; mix well. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. 
3. Heat tortillas in microwave so they are flexible.
4. Preheat oven to 350F.
5. Take one tortilla and brush one side with melted butter or oil.  On the opposite side, fill with a little of the bean/corn mixture, sprinkle with cheese, and fold in half.  Do not overfill.  Place on a baking sheet.  Repeat until mixture is gone or all tortillas have been used.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  If top is not brown, broil for a couple of minutes.

Stuffed Zucchini

I stumbled across this recipe while trying to find something to use up the zucchinis from a pasta recipe.  These are good if you need something new to do with zucchinis.  I added some red bell pepper too because I had extra.

Stuffed Zucchini from Kayotic Kitchen


1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tomato
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 zucchinis
1 onion
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Slice zucchinis in half and spoon out the guts. Place in a buttered baking dish.
3. Chop the zucchini innards, tomato, bell pepper, and onion.
4. Saute the onion in butter. 
5. Add curry powder and cook for 30 more seconds.
6. Combine all remaining ingredients except cheese in a bowl and mix together.  Then spoon into zucchini boats.
7. Top with grated cheese.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Penne Rigate della Kay

This recipe is delicious, but a lot of work and the cheese for the pasta sauce can make it expensive.  It makes a lot of food though and reheats fairly well.  I found the cheese at the Valmont around the corner ... it had a slightly different name, but matched the description of being Mascarpone layered with Gorgonzola.

Penne Rigate della Kay from Kayotic Kitchen

Ingredients for Sauce

5 or 6 plum, juicy tomatoes
1/3 red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
250 grams Magor (or a mix of Mascarpone and Gorgonzola)
dried basil
4 - 5 tsp oil

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Wash, dry, and cut tomatoes in half.  Place them in an oven-safe dish face up.
3. Cut the onion into wedges and place the wedges between the tomatoes.
4. Add garlic cloves with the skins still on.
5. Add 3 or 4 red pepper strips to the dish.
6. Drizzle oil over the veggies and season with basil, pepper, and salt.
7. Roast for 45 minutes.
8. Transfer the veggies into a dish that you can blend with (either immersion or a stand blender).  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
9. Blend until smooth.  Add the cheese.  Pulse until delicious and smooth looking.  Store overnight to let the flavours meld.

Ingredients for Pasta
250g penne rigate
5 tbsp vegetable broth
500g broccoli
1 small zucchini
2 small tomatoes
1 medium onion
fresh basil
175g salami
pinch of salt
mozzarella cheese
2 eggs

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Wash the veggies.  Chop the broccoli, onion, tomatoes, and basil.  Slice the zucchini.
3. Cut the salami into strips.
4. Heat a tiny drop of oil, cook the onion for 2 minutes, add the zucchini and cook for another minute. Now in with the broccoli and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour in 4 tbsp vegetable broth, pop the lid on and simmer (over low heat) for about 5 minutes.
5. After those 5 minutes you add your chopped tomatoes, salami strips and stir in the penne rigate. Turn off the heat.  Add the basil and transfer to an oven safe dish.
6. Separate the eggs.  Whisk the yolks in with the pasta sauce.
7. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whip until you can draw peaks.
8. Pour the sauce onto the egg whites and fold together.
9. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta and mix together.
10. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.