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.