Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mole Risotto with Avocado Puree

I first saw this recipe and thought it sounded delicious, but when was I ever going to make a mole?  That's a bit overly ambitious ... even for me!  Then, I realized I could buy pre-made mole.  Lazy, of course, but at least I could try the recipe before investing all that time making a mole!

The original instructions for this risotto are just bizarre, so I decided to ignore them and just cook risotto, adding mole at the end.  At the SAQ today, I was too tempted by the roses to buy white wine, so I used rose in this recipe (it just says summer to me!).  I also doubled the avocado puree, because who wouldn't want extra?  Finally, at the Val-Mont they had cheddar frais St. Guillaume.  Mmm, cheese curds.  I couldn't resist buying them and snacking on them with some delicious fresh Ontario tomatoes while cooking (who needs mozzarella?).  Then I realized this risotto recipe lacked cheese.  Maybe it just needs cheese curds!  Please note fresh cheese curds won't melt into the risotto, but I loved them.  You could also add in a more traditional Mexican cheese that melts or you could omit the cheese entirely (but where's the fun in that?).

The only problem I have with this risotto is it might be a bit much mole.  The mole I had was extremely thick and made the risotto clump.  Next time, I'd water it down or use less mole.  Still, it's a nice idea (and tasty)!

Mole Risotto with Avocado Puree (vaguely inspired by Fork-Spoon-Knife)

for risotto:
1 cup risotto rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (or rose!)
at least 3 cups chicken stock
1 cup of Mole (canned or homemade)
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cheese curds (or other cheese, optional)
for avocado puree:
1 avocado
1 lime
2 tbsp heavy cream

1. Heat the chicken broth.
2. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and 2 tbsp butter.  Saute the onion and garlic (try not to colour them).
3. Add the rice and stir.
4. When the rice looks somewhat translucent, add the wine.  Stir occassionally.
5. Reduce heat. When the wine has evaporated, add a ladle-full of broth to the rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  When the broth is absorbed, add another ladle-full.  Continue this process.  It will take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Taste rice occassionally and continue adding broth until it tastes cooked.
6. Meanwhile, mix together avocado, juice of 1/2 of lime, and cream.  You can mash it together with a fork and stir until smooth or use a processor.
7. When rice tastes done, add mole.  You may need to add additional chicken broth if the mole is too thick.  Stir in cheese and butter.  Stir until butter is melted.
8. Serve risotto topped with avocado puree.

Clementine Cake

After finding a bag of ground almonds at Milano's, I knew I had to try this recipe.  It takes some time and planning ahead, but comes out incredibly moist.  You can even pretend that it's healthy!  (Except for all that pesky sugar.)  I skipped making a glaze.  It was already plenty sweet for me (although that could be the organic sugar cane sugar I used because my grocery store is MIA and I didn't feel like walking all the way to the InterMarche)!

Clementine Cake (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from Nigella Lawson)

4 to 5 clementines (about 375grams/slightly less than 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
2 1/3 cups (250 grams) ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

1. Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in a processor (or blender).
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
3. Butter and line an 8-inch (21 centimeter) springform pan with parchment paper. (I used a rectangular glass pan that's about 8x11.)
4. Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 50 minutes, when a skewer will come out clean.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cherry Tomato Penne al Arrabbiata

Confession time ... I haven't made dinner for myself in five days!  Tuesday I had a craving for sushi, Wednesday I needed comfort food (aka baguette and cheese), Thursday was a planned sushi night, Friday was junk food (poutine and nachos) and hockey, and Saturday turned into cheeseburger and root beer float at a cute little diner in Vermont.  I would say I'm slightly overdue for some healthier cooking!

I took a trip to Jean Talon market today and even though the main part still isn't open yet, I was like a kid in a candy store marveling over the selection of fresh tomatoes, bundles of asparagus, and fresh fruit.  I even made a special trip to wander across St. Laurent to pick up some delicious pasta from Milano's. 

I wasn't sure what type of chiles to use in this dish, so I opted for chiles de arbol.  Instead of canned puree of tomatoes, I pureed some of the extra cherry tomatoes that I had on hand.  I also didn't have time to slow roast the tomatoes for 6 - 7 hours, so I upped the heat in the oven a little bit and compressed the time.  The sweetness of the roasted cherry tomatoes contrasted beautifully with the heat of the chiles.  The best part of this meal though? Nothing came from a can and I could snack on the cherry tomatoes while waiting for them to roast ... yummy!

Cherry Tomato Penne al Arrabbiata (from Palachinka)

100 g penne pasta
500 g cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2-3 dried chile peppers (I went with 3 chiles de arbol)
3/4 cup tomato puree (I just blitzed some cherry tomatoes in the blender)
olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp powdered garlic
ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley leaves

1. Cut tomatoes in halves. Line large oven pan with baking paper and place tomatoes on it, cut side up. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Dry in a preheated oven on 100°C for 6-7 hours. This can be done a day in advance.  (I set the oven to 300F and cooked them for 1.5 hours and they were perfect.)
2. Cook pasta al dente and drain.
3. Fry sliced garlic and chopped chiles on 1 Tbsp olive oil until it browns a bit.
4. Add pasta and tomato puree and fry for a minute or two.
5. Stir in tomatoes and parsley and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Gorgonzola Drop Biscuits

I have a serious weakness for biscuits.  I blame my Southern roots.  When I saw a post on Smitten Kitchen for blue cheese scallion biscuits and knew I had some leftover gorgonzola in the fridge, I took it as a sign.  I made a few changes ... I skipped the scallions and added onion powder and garlic powder instead.  I reduced the amount of cheese in the recipe to match what I had in the fridge (I think any more and the flavour would've been overpowering).  I also cut the recipe in half (it made 7 biscuits) and substituted regular milk for buttermilk.  The end product was unlike any biscuit I've had before, but delicious ... experimental cooking at its finest!

Gorgonzola Drop Biscuits (adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (from Gourmet)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cups crumbled gorgonzola
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. Stir in gorgonzola. Add milk and stir until just combined.
4. Drop dough in 6 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet, or one lined with parchment paper. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 16 to 20 minutes (it only took 12 minutes or so for me, so check often!).

Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce

It's been beautiful here lately ... almost nice enough for me to forget that my lovely new grocery store that sells tomatillos and mascarpone cheese has a gaping hole in it from fire damage.  Of course, it makes shopping for food more difficult.  I have a wonderful place to buy fruit and veggies right around the corner, but when it comes to pantry staples, the Val-Mont tends to only sell organic canola oil that starts at $8 and fancy sugars.  Instead of investing in $4 for 1 kilo sugar, I decided to make some substitutions below.  I used brown sugar and safflower oil.  The verdict?  It seemed to be a fifty-fifty split with guests as to whether they preferred this cake or the grapefruit yogurt cake.  I found this cake to be less sweet, but still good.

The sauce below has been scaled in half and should be plenty for the cake with no leftovers.

Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce (from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1/4 cup lime juice
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces fresh blackberries
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil.  (I used a square pan and just served the cake in the pan.)
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, lime zest and juice. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine blackberries, water, sugar and lime juice in blender or food processor. Purée until very smooth, then press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
5. When cake is cool, pour sauce over cake and serve.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lemon Sugar Cookies

I had some leftover strawberry buttercream frosting, but was at a loss for what to do with it.  Some co-workers suggested I just eat it with a spoon, but that seemed a bit ... intense ... shameless?  Instead, I finally hit on the idea of making some sugar cookies and using the frosting as a filling between two cookies ... kinda like a fruity oreo, except better!  While searching for a recipe, I found a lemon sugar cookie recipe ... even better!  These are delicious on their own, but become simply amazing with the frosting.  Enjoy!

Lemony Sugar Cookies (from the bitten word)

2 eggs
2 cups sugar, plus additional sugar for sprinkling
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, buttermilk, shortening and vanilla extract until smooth. Fold in baking soda, flour and salt.  Add zest.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment. Drop 1 tablespoon size portions of cookie dough onto the sheet, with at least 2 inches between each round of dough. Bake for 15 minutes.

Tomato and Olive Penne

This is simple, quick, and delicious.  I substituted feta for the Parmesan cheese when I realized I didn't have Parmesan in the fridge (not entirely sure how that happened!).  Original is presented below.

Tomato and Olive Penne (from love and olive oil)

1 lb penne
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
3 tablespoons tomato paste (about half of a small can)
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until it is very al dente (just barely undercooked – the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly soft (don’t let the garlic brown). Add the cherry tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste, white wine, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Add the penne, olives, and 1/4 cup parmesan to the skillet and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until heated through and pasta is perfectly al dente. Serve with more cheese if desired.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lentil, Goat Cheese, and Asparagus Salad

This is simple, easy, and delicious.  I made it with sun-dried tomatoes, but I'd like to try it with some slow-roasted cherry tomatoes!

Lentil, Goat Cheese, and Asparagus Salad (from love and olive oil) (from Not-So-Typical Grub.)

4oz green lentils
3oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 Bunch of asparagus
Handful of sundried tomatoes or fresh grape tomatoes, sliced/diced
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp sunflower or other oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Drain, rinse, and cook the lentils according to the package instructions.
2. Mix the vinegars, oil and lemon juice together. Season to taste.
3. As the lentils near the end of their cooking time, boil the asparagus for around 3-4 minutes, until just tender. You can also roast the asparagus, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, until tender. Drain the lentils and refresh under cold water. Drain the asparagus as well.
4. Return the lentils to the pan, and mix with 1/2 of the dressing. Stir in tomatoes. Toss the asparagus in the remaining dressing, and arrange on the plate. Garnish with the goat cheese.

Stawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Hello, my name is Amy and I am a baking addict.  I'm hosting a clothing swap today.  It's also a friend's birthday, so I decided it was a perfect opportunity to bake cupcakes ... for my baking pleasure her birthday.  The night before last, I get an e-mail asking if instead of cupcakes, I'd consider making the grapefruit yogurt cake again.  But, but, I've already made it twice ... within one month!  And I've already found an adorable looking recipe for strawberry lemonade cupcakes from a new blog.  Of course, I agree to make the cake, but decide to go ahead and make the cupcakes as well.  You can never have too many desserts right?

As I'm making the batter for the cupcakes, something seems off.  It reminds me more of lemon pound cake than cupcakes, but I plow ahead assuming that a Martha Stewart recipe is a sure thing.  When I pull them out of the oven, they look awful.  Moreover, they don't taste that great either ... into the trash they go!  I'm sure there's a logical explanation for what went horribly wrong ... I just don't know what it is!  But, I've already made the strawberry lemon buttercream frosting.  Granted, it doesn't look as beautiful as it should (I think my strawberry puree ended up being a bit too runny, it was beautiful frosting before I added the strawberry!), but I love the taste.  I can't let that frosting go to waste.  So I google search for a lemon chiffon cake recipe.  Once again, epicurious comes to my rescue.  It's a little more work than the original cupcake recipe, but worth the effort.  I've scaled both recipes down to make 12 cupcakes.  I ended up with extra frosting even after scaling.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Lemon Chiffon Cupcake (from epicurious)


  • 2 cups sifted cake flour

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 8 eggs, separated

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

  • 1 cups sifted cake flour
    3/4 cups sugar
    1/2 tablespoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs, separated
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

    1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line muffin tin with 12 muffin liners.
    2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Using electric mixer at low speed, beat in vegetable oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, water and lemon peel. [I hand mixed this portion.]
    3. Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in another large bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites.
    4. Fill muffin tins with batter.  Cook for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

    Strawberry Lemon Buttercream Frosting (from confections of a foodie bride)

    1 cup sugar
    4 egg whites
    3/4 cup butter, room temperature
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    1/4 cup strawberry puree (about 3 medium, hulled strawberries)
    1/2 tsp vanilla

    1. Place the stand mixer bowl over a simmering pot of water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk the sugar and egg whites until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture registers 160 degrees with a candy thermometer.
    2. Place bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until the mixture is cool and holds stiff, glossy peaks (approximately 10 minutes).
    3. Change to the paddle attachment and beat in one tablespoon of butter at a time on medium. The mixture might appear curdled but keep going, it will pull back together.
    4. Add lemon juice, strawberry puree, and vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat until the frosting reincorporates and is smooth and fluffy (approximately 10 minutes).

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    A Trip Down Memory Lane

    A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I had a good lasagna recipe.  I knew I did, I just hadn't cooked it in more than a year.  Back in 2002 - 2003, I cooked fairly regularly.  It was more because I had to and it wasn't nearly as good (in my opinion!) as what I cook now, but there are a few gems from that time period.  After seeing my lasagna recipe cooked again and looking completely delicious, I decided perhaps it's time to go back through those old recipes and share them.  I had 22 recipes that I identified during that time period as "best bets."  Some of them I've made fairly recently (9 - 18 months ago?) and some of them I've completely forgotten about.  I find it somewhat sad the number of recipes in this collection that rely on mysterious pre-packaged ingredients (jarred pasta sauce, cream of mushroom soup, sweet and sour sauce), so I'm automatically omitting those from the postings and sticking to ones that I'd be comfortable making now!  (And I'm changing all references from margarine to butter ... did I really ever cook with margarine?  scary!)  I'm also passing on posting the desserts as I don't remember them well enough to know how they compare to what I make now!

    American Lasagna (adapted from
    Notes: Put it together the night before and allow it to sit overnight to give the flavours time to meld.  The last time I made this I used the deer and red wine sausage from William Walters.  If I were to make it again, I think I'd only use that sausage!  Finally, I'd probably put some more green in it if I were making it today and mix some spinach in with the ricotta.

    3/4 pounds lean ground beef
    3/4 pounds Italian sausage
    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 tablespoons brown sugar
    3/4 teaspoons salt
    1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1/4 cup red wine
    12 dry lasagna noodles (no boil)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons dried parsley
    1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
    2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    1. In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic; drain fat. Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoons salt, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and red wine. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust thickness to taste. If too thick, add more tomato sauce.  If too thin, add more tomato paste.  Check spices and if needed, add more.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt.
    4. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover noodles with 1/2 ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese over the top.
    5. Bake in the preheated for one hour covered and then for an additional 20 minutes uncovered. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    Bay Area Burgers (from

    1 pound ground beef
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
    4 hamburger buns, split

    1. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Mix together the ground beef, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Divide into four balls, and flatten into patties.
    2. Fry the patties for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. The internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Remove from grill and place onto hamburger buns. Top with desired toppings and condiments.

    Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes (from
    Note: If I were making this today, I'd probably switch up the cheese a little and add some Gruyere.

    4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
    1 onion, sliced into rings
    salt and pepper to taste
    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups milk
    1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

    1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
    2. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    3. In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
    4. Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

    Fettuccine Alfredo (from

    10 ounces fettuccine pasta
    1/2 cup butter
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 egg yolk
    2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons dried parsley

    1.   Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettucine pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
    2. In a large skillet melt the butter and add the chopped garlic. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the garlic.
    3. Pour about a 1/4 cup of the heavy cream into a small bowl. Add the egg yolk and beat together; put aside. Pour the remaining cream into the frying pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. As the cream starts to boil, mix rapidly using a whisk. Slowly add the cream/egg mixture. You do not want the egg to curdle. Continue whisking until well blended.
    4. Add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and continue to mix the cream. Pour in the remaining Parmesan and the parsley, mix until smooth. Immediately remove from stove. Serve over cooked pasta.

    Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze (from


    2 (4 ounce) filet mignon steaks
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
    salt to taste
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup dry red wine

    1. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over both sides of each steak, and sprinkle with salt to taste.
    2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks in hot pan, and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until browned. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over.
    3. Remove steaks to two warmed plates, spoon one tablespoon of glaze over each, and serve immediately.

    Stir-fry Pork with Ginger (from
    Note: Making this today, I'd definitely add some strips of bell pepper and bean sprouts!

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1/2 inch piece fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
    1/4 pound thinly sliced lean pork
    1 teaspoon soy sauce
    1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1 green onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (mirin)

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry ginger in hot oil until fragrant, then add pork, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
    2. Stir in the sesame oil, green onion, and rice wine. Simmer until the pork is tender.

    Strip Steak Polynesian

    4 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 cloves minced garlic
    2 teaspoons honey
    4 strip steaks

    1. Combine soy sauce, garlic, and honey in bowl.  Add steak.  Cover and marinate steak in refrigerator for at least one hour.
    2. Grill steak.  Serve on a bed of rice.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

    I know, I know ... I've been doing a lot of pizza recipes lately.  I blame this one on only being able to buy a package of two pizza crusts at the store.  Of course I needed to use the second one up quickly!  As soon as I saw this recipe used arugula, I was sold.  I made no changes (except for cooking the crust and the squash at the same time ... but that's not really a change).  This was delicious.  The gorgonzola and the maple-y squash provided a perfect contrast.  Enjoy!

    Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza (from smitten kitchen) (Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis)

     1 (1- pound) acorn squash
    2 tablespoons maple syrup
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
    1 pound pizza dough
    1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella
    1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
    1 cup arugula
    Squeeze of lemon juice

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    3. Keep the temperature on the oven at 375 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough on a flour dusted piece of parchment paper to a 13-inch diameter. Place the pizza and the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and the Gorgonzola on the pizza dough. Bake in the oven until golden and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
    4. Peel the skins off the squash. Top the cooked pizza with the cooked squash. Toss the arugula with the squeeze of lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Put the arugula on the pizza.  Slice and serve.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita

    This is entirely too simple to be considered a recipe, but I figured I'd add it in case it gives you some inspiration ... sometimes simplicity is a good thing!  This would be extra amazing with the crust from here, but as a week night dinner, I used a premade crust.  I left out the fennel and added in some spinach (just toss it in when the tomatoes are almost done) so I could pretend the dish was more healthy, but the original recipe is included below.

    Cherry Tomato Pizza Marghertia (from loveandoliveoil) (from Bon Appetit)

    14 oz. premade refrigerated pizza dough
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    12 oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed
    1 garlic clove, pressed
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in plastic bag
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, diced
    1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus small leaves for garnish

    1. Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Unroll dough on heavy large baking sheet; pull to about 12×8-inch rectangle, pinching any tears to seal. Fold over edge of dough to make border.
    2. Heat large skillet over high heat 2 minutes. Add oil, then tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tomatoes are charred and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes (if adding spinach, toss it in and cook until wilted).
    3. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in garlic, fennel, and crushed red pepper. Using back of fork, crush tomatoes in bowl, leaving large chunks intact. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Toss cheeses and chopped basil in medium bowl.
    4. Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over dough, right up to border. Spoon on tomato mixture in dollops, leaving some cheese uncovered. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
    5. Loosen pizza with metal spatula and slide onto board. Garnish with basil leaves.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Coconut Red Lentil Soup

    I know I said I was going to cook more meat, but for some reason, I still find myself drawn to vegetarian recipes.  How could I pass on something that included plenty of curry and coconut milk?  The last recipe I tried from this site was somewhat of a disappointment, but this recipe more than makes up for it.

    I couldn't find yellow split peas, so I used green.  I'm not a fan of raisins, so I just excluded them.  I also skipped on the scallions and cilantro for garnish.  Finally, I ran out of curry powder (!  Perhaps that means a trip to Jean Talon to find fancy curry powder is in order!), so I added in a heaping 1/2 tbsp of garam masala.

    Coconut Red Lentil Soup (from 101cookbooks)

    1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas
    1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
    7 cups / 1.6 liters water
    1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
    2 tablespoons curry powder
    2 tablespoons butter or ghee
    4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
    1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
    1 14-ounce (398mL) can coconut milk
    2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

    1. Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with 7 cups of water, and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
    3. In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside.  [I skipped this step out of laziness, but it's probably an excellent idea!]
    4. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions and the remaining ginger. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.
    5. Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Tex-Mex Comfort Food

    I didn't get much cooking done over the weekend because I had a friend in town.  Instead of cooking, we explored the deliciousness that is Montreal ... poutine, brunch, chocolate shops, ice cream, baguette and cheese, and croissants.  On his last night here though, I had to prove to him that I could cook, so I made a Tex-Mex feast and had a few friends over.  I changed a few of my recipes to be vegetarian for the vegetarian guests (unfortunately I'd forgotten to see if I still had vegetable broth and the grocery store was closed for Easter, so I had to use water instead!) ... cheese enchiladas with chili gravy and Mexican rice.  I also made enchiladas with tomatillo sauce so I could put those head to head with the chili gravy ... the tomatillo sauce won.

    I tried some new recipes for the night too which are included below.  For the beans, I left out the salt pork and bacon because I wanted to be vegetarian friendly.  I think it would've enhanced the flavour quite a bit though, so I'm including the original recipe below.  For the queso, I got distracted mid-way through cooking when my first guest arrived (whoops!).  It nearly ruined the queso, but luckily my guest saved it.  I'm including the vegetarian version below, but it would also be excellent with the chorizo.  Finally, I borrowed a friend's margarita recipe.  Yes, beer is odd to put in a margarita, but you won't taste it.  I was unable to find limeade here, so I used frozen lemonade ... it was perfect.

    Note: If you end up with some leftover beans, they make a great brunch.  Fry up some bacon, simmer some beans with it, and top with poached eggs.  I'm sure you could add a little cheese to it as well for even more flavour.

     Frijoles a la charra (from Homesick Texan)

    1 pound of pinto beans (2 cups)
    1/4 tablespoons of minced garlic (3 large cloves)
    1 cup diced onion (1/2 of a medium-sized onion)
    1/4 cup of jalapeno juice (from canned jalapenos)
    1/4 pound of salt pork (I find this near the bacon at my grocery store)
    Salt to taste

    4 slices of bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
    2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes or one 14 oz. canned, diced tomatoes with sauce
    3 jalapenos, chopped
    2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
    1 cup of chopped cilantro

    1. Rinse and sort your beans
    2. First soak the beans. You can either cover the beans with one inch of water and soak overnight or bring water to a boil, remove from heat and cover for one hour.
    3. Drain the beans and cover with seven cups of fresh water.
    4. Add to the pot the garlic, onion, jalapeno juice and salt pork.
    5. Bring pot to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer, stir occasionally.
    6. After about an hour, beans should be tender enough to eat (depending on the freshness of the beans). If not tender enough, continue cooking, checking on the beans every 15 minutes until desired texture.
    7. Remove salt pork.

    8. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.
    9. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, chipotles and cilantro to the skillet, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.
    10. Let tomato-bacon mixture cool, add one cup of bean juice (or water) and then puree.
    11. Stir puree into beans and let simmer together for 20 minutes.

    Chile Con Queso (from Homesick Texan)

    1/4 cup diced onion diced
    2 cloves of garlic minced
    1 Serrano peppers diced
    1 jalapeno peppers diced
    1 tablespoons of butter
    1 tablespoons of flour
    1/2 cup of milk
    3 cups of shredded cheese, can use any combination of Longhorn cheddar and Monterrey Jack
    1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
    1 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup, can use canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)
    1/4 cup of sour cream
    Salt to taste

    1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat, and then cook the onions and peppers for about five minutes or until onions are translucent.
    2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
    3. Whisk the flour into the butter, vegetable mix and cook for about 30 seconds.
    4. Add the milk to the pot, and cook on medium, whisking constantly until sauce is thick, about five minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.
    5. Turn heat down to low, and a 1/4-cup at a time, slowly add the shredded cheese stirring into the white sauce until completely melted. Repeat.
    6. Stir in the sour cream.
    7. Add salt to taste.
    Notes: You can vary which chiles you use to control how hot you want the queso to be. Also, if the sauce is too thick, feel free to add a bit more milk a tablespoon at a time. The key, however, to a smooth sauce is adding the cheese very slowly and not adding any more cheese until the previous addition is completely integrated into the sauce.

    Gary's Frozen Margaritas


    1 shot Grand Marnier or Cointreau (I used Cointreau) 
    3 shots tequila
    1/3 of a beer (Corona is great)
    1 can of frozen lemonade
    1/2 lime, juiced

    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Fill with ice mostly to the top.  Blend.  If it's too liquidy, add more ice.  If it's too icy, add some water.  Enjoy!