Monday, August 30, 2010

Braided Brie and Pear Bread

The bread in this post may seem familiar. Originally I used this to make a bread with raspberry curd and cream cheese. Apparently practice really does improve outcomes because magically this dough rolled out with ease this time around and braided to be a thing of beauty. But don't take my word for it! Exhibit A (pre-baking):
Exhibit B (post-baking):
The inspiration for the filling came from a puff pastry package. The package also suggested caramelized onion and Dijon mustard, but I think this was perfect without them.

Braided Brie and Pear Bread (bread from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt (I used yogurt this time)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Brie filling
100g brie, thinly sliced
1 pear, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tbsp dried cranberries

1. Make sponge: In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
3. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
5. Make the filling (while dough rises): With a food processor, blitz the walnuts and cranberries together. Make sure to slice your cheese and pear.
6. Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. (I rolled it out on the paper.)
7. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Place the brie down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling.
8. Top the brie with the pear and sprinkle with the nut and cranberry mixture.
9. To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper.
10. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hang off decoratively under the end of the braid.
11. Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.
12. Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Slow-Braised Pork with Grapes and Balsamic

I'm trying to make one non-vegetarian meal a week. I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, so this shouldn't be a challenge ... and yet when I bought groceries last week, I was so enamored by the fresh vegetables that I passed on the meat (unless you count using fish or oyster sauce as a non-vegetarian meal and I don't quite think that's enough). This dish was amazing. I did substitute Ontario Coronation (blue) grapes for the original black, but I think it helped cut back on the sweetness some reviewers complained of. I made no other changes (other than using a smaller cut of meat and accidentally grabbing the canola oil instead of the olive oil). My only regret is that I didn't go to Maison du Roti to pick up some better pork. Next time I'll know better though. I served this over a bed of polenta. Mashed potatoes would also be good. Just make sure you have something to soak up the delicious sauce!

Slow-Braised Pork with Grapes and Balsamic (from

1.5 kg boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed, cut into 3 equal pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 large shallots, halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
3 cups seedless black grapes (I used blue)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large fresh sage sprigs
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 13 minutes total. Transfer pork to plate.
3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium heat. Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
4. Add sugar; sauté 30 seconds.
5. Add vinegar; bring mixture to boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
6. Add broth, all herb sprigs, and pork with juices from plate. Bring to boil.
7. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise pork 1 hour.
8. Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer.
9. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.
10. Remove herb sprigs from pot and skim fat from surface of cooking liquid.
11. Boil cooking liquid over high heat until thickened, about 7 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour over pork and serve.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baked French Toast with Raspberry and Walnuts

I had leftover baguette sitting on my counter-top just begging to be used. Granted, I could've made some bread crumbs, but a pseudo-french toast is so much more delicious. Not content to leave well enough alone, I added some frozen raspberries and decided to try to make use of the gigantic bag of walnuts that was left in my apartment. The end result was so delicious that I forgot to pour maple syrup over the top. The only real change I would make to this would be giving it more time to soak, ideally overnight, but let's be serious, that's entirely too much planning ahead.

Baked French Toast with Raspberry and Walnuts

part of an old baguette (I had 5 3/4" slices)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
cinnamon (maybe 1/2 tsp?)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar (very approximate)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, sugar, and pinch of salt. Pour over slices of old baguette (if your dish is narrow enough, you can soak in your baking dish, otherwise you might be better off soaking in a bowl).
2. Soak the baguette for at least 30 minutes, but longer if possible. Make sure to occasionally flip the bread. Ideally, most of the liquid would be absorbed.
3. Preheat oven to 425F.
4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Mix in brown sugar until all of the butter has been absorbed by the sugar.
5. With baguette in your baking dish, sprinkle baguette with cinnamon. Top with raspberries and walnuts. Pour brown sugar mixture over all of it.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Broccoli Spears in Garlic Sauce

Last week, I couldn't resist all of the fresh vegetables on sale at the Val-Mont with little blue stickers saying they were from Quebec, so I came home with broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and grapes (okay, not a vegetable, but it was the basis for a meal!). When a friend delivered fresh homegrown tomatoes to me at work, it was recipe overload for the week. I'm proud to say I might just make my goal of not being wasteful for the week and using all of those delicious veggies (granted there may be some leftover cooked food in the freezer). I pulled this recipe once I realized my gorgonzola and broccoli pie wasn't going to use all of the broccoli I had bought. The original is for vegetables only, but to make it more of a light meal, I added some fettuccine noodles. I only cooked one small head of broccoli (a small enough amount that I could eat it all in one sitting), but left the sauce the same so that I'd have enough sauce for the noodles. It came out a little on the runny side, so next time I'd probably try scaling back the chicken broth. This was quick, easy, and surprisingly tasty. Original recipe amounts are below.

Broccoli Spears in Garlic Sauce (from Gourmet Today)

680g broccoli
1 tbsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. (I found that the time it took to boil water gave me time to prep the broccoli and that the cooking time was just right for cooking the broccoli, ymmv.)
2. Meanwhile, peel broccoli stalks. Halve broccoli crosswise. Cut stems lengthwise into 1/4 inch wide wedges. Cut top into 1/2 inch wide florets.
3. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add canola oil. Add garlic and stir-fry until golden, 30 seconds.
4. Add broccoli and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
5. Stir in oyster sauce and stock and cook covered until broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and toss with sesame oil, then toss noodles with broccoli and sauce.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eggplant Souffle

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this recipe. I'm not the biggest eggplant fan (well other than baba ganoush), but I'm trying to teach myself (especially now that it's in season). I scaled this recipe in half, but kept the garlic. My modified version is below (should serve 2 - 3 as a light main course).

Eggplant Souffle (from Gourmet Today)

olive oil
1 eggplant, halved (you can cook only 1/2 or do the whole thing and save more for later, this version only uses half though)
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a baking sheet with olive oil.
2. Put eggplant cut side down on baking sheet and bake until tender, about 30 minutes.
3. When eggplant is cool, scrape flesh of one half into a food processor. Discard skin. Puree until smooth. Add egg yolks, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and pulse until blended. Transfer to bowl.
4. Butter a gratin dish (the original calls for a 1 1/2 quart dish. I used a 16 ounce dish and a single serving sized souffle dish).
5. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Fold 1/3 egg whites into eggplant mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining gently but thoroughly. Spoon mixture into gratin dish(es).
7. Bake until golden and puffed, 25 - 30 minutes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cauliflower Sauce with Garlic, Oil, and Chili Pepper

Even if you don't like cauliflower, this recipe is worth a shot. The cauliflower is mashed up until it's unrecognizable and given other flavours. I'm tempted to call this recipe healthy, but it does have 1/2 cup of olive oil. I made one major modification to this recipe: substituting fish sauce for the anchovies. The idea of de-boning tiny fishes seemed too much to handle. Technically, I could've tried to find anchovy paste and that would've been more authentic, but I had fish sauce on hand ... and it is made from anchovies. I'm sure Hazan wouldn't approve, but it did make this dish so much easier. (I also subbed chili flakes for fresh, but that seems like less of a sin in comparison!) She says this is 4 - 6 servings for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta. I cut the pasta in half and it still seems like at least 4 servings.

Cauliflower Sauce with Garlic, Oil, and Chili Pepper (adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 head cauliflower, about 680g
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
chopped red chili pepper or dried flakes, to taste
salt, to taste (go easy on it as fish sauce is salty)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
500g penne pasta

1. Strip cauliflower of leaves. Rinse in cold water and cut in two.
2. Bring 4 - 5 quarts of water to a boil, add cauliflower, and cook until tender 25 - 30 minutes. Drain.
3. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil for pasta. Cook according to package directions.
4. In a saute pan, heat the garlic and olive oil over medium heat until golden brown.
5. Add cauliflower and fish sauce to oil. Break it up until pieces are not bigger than a nut. Turn in oil and mash some of it to a nice pulp.
6. Add chili pepper and salt. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.
7. Toss with cooked and drained pasta. Add parsley, toss again, and serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heirloom Tomato and Rice Tart

Self-restraint for me today is not running to the store to buy goat cheese and more sun-dried tomatoes to make this Ottolenghi recipe. Instead, after a day filled with a vet appointment, a trip to the pet store, and general work Monday-ness, I decided it might be wise to make a recipe that I had been eying AND had all the ingredients on hand for. Oh the dilemmas that come out of receiving free homegrown tomatoes (please, please keep them coming)!

In this case, I think self-restraint was a good thing as the rice in the tart makes it more filling than most tomato tarts and it was a snap to put together (unlike the other recipe which made me want to make my own galette crust to avoid another puff pasty snafu). The original recipe for this is gluten-free. I made the gluten version of it, going with a pre-made crust and regular breadcrumbs. The best part of this recipe tonight was that there's little active time needed, so I had plenty of time to focus on more annoying things than cooking.

Heirloom Tomato and Rice Tart (adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)

pre-made pie crust
3/4 cups uncooked arborio rice
1 1/2 cups water
10 grams (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbs olive oil
450 grams (1 lb) Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
50 grams (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
5 grams (1/4 cup) parmesan cheese, grated
20 grams (2 Tbs) olive oil
Parsley, chopped
Thyme, chopped
Basil, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for another 5 minutes.
3. Combine cooked rice and remaining filling ingredients in a bowl.
4. Fill pie shell with filling.
5. Combine topping ingredients in a bowl.
6. Sprinkle topping on pie (you'll likely have extras).
7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Raspberry Limeade Slushies

What kind of cruel person posts a delicious looking raspberry limeade slushy recipe after raspberry season is over? I decided I couldn't wait for raspberry season to come back and bought some frozen raspberries (and also used bottled lime juice ... cheating I know!). This drink tastes like summer ... even if summer very sadly seems to have abandoned us this weekend. With non-fresh ingredients, it will also be possible to recreate this in the dead of winter to channel summer ... although ice-cold drinks will likely seem less appetizing then! This makes a full pitcher, so if you want to keep the slushiness, make sure to make it for friends, otherwise you'll need to scale down!

Raspberry Limeade Slushies (from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (or bottled)
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup water
4 cups ice
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup soda water

1. In a blender, blend the lime juice, raspberries, water, ice and sugar until slushy.
2. Pour into glasses.
3. Top off with about 1/4 cup soda water in each glass.

Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie

I'm going to call this a delicious disaster, mainly because of the crust. I neglected to notice that this recipe calls for 500g of puff pasty ... and the standard size at the store is 397g. I started off trying to just scale down for my pie tin. Eventually I gave up and decided to just skip on covering the pie. I combined all the dough, but at that point it was severely overworked and didn't want to thin out enough, so needless to say my dough never really cooked properly. The cream mixture also ended up being a bit runny, but that may be because I only used 2 leeks, so next time either less liquid or the full amount of leeks. Nevertheless, this was quite tasty (even if it is also quite unhealthy, or maybe because). I used slightly less gorgonzola than the recipe called for, but I think my pie dish is only 9" instead of 10", so the pie dish would've been a little overloaded with gorgonzola if I had used the full amount.

Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi)

500g all-butter puff pasty
2 broccoli heads (~700g), cut into florets
1 1/2 tbsp butter
3 - 4 leeks, washed, trimmed, and sliced thinly
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
200g gorgonzola, cut into chunks
1 egg beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out 2/3 of the pasty into a circle large enough to line a 10" tart tin. Line the tin and trim off excess.
2. Roll the remaining pasty into a thnner disk large enough to cover the pie and lay on a plate.
3. Place both pie base and lid in freezer for 10 minutes.
4. Line the pastry base with paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until light brown.
5. Remove paper and beans and bake until golden, about five more minutes.
6. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook broccoli for 2 minutes until tender, but still firm. Drain and refresh in cold water. Leave to dry.
7. In a pan over low heat, melt butter. Gently fry leeks for 10 - 15 minutes until soft but not coloured.
8. Add cream, water, mustard, salt and pepper to leeks. Stir and remove from heat.
9. Spread leek mixture on bottom of pastry base, scatter broccoli on top, and dot on gorgonzola.
10. Brush the rim on the tart with the beaten egg and lay lid over filling. Press down on edges, discarding any excess.
11. Glaze lid with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza

I found this recipe on a chowhound thread on favourite recipes. The combination of flavours intrigued me and I knew from my earlier not-so-typical pizza experiments that I enjoy them. Of course, pizza in the summer with no air-conditioning doesn't really work (unless you put them on the grill!), so I've had to take a break from my pizza making. Even though it's only August, it's starting to get cool enough here to brave pizza making in the oven.

Initially, I wanted to use the somewhat sour grapes that have been available lately, but the Val-Mont didn't have any in-stock, so I was forced to remain fairly faithful to the recipe. The only substitution I made was Marsala wine for the Vin Santo called for in the recipe, because none of the SAQ's near me stock Vin Santo.

I almost used a crust recipe I'd tried before, but then opted to use the one in the recipe and I'm glad I did. The crust is relatively easy to make and is much, much easier to shape into a pizza than crusts I've made in the past.


Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza (from

For dough
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil
For topping
1/3 cup Marsala (or Vin Santo)
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved lengthwise
140g Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
60g Gorgonzola dolce, crumbled
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1. Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a cup and let stand until mixture appears creamy on surface, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisk salt into 1 1/4 cups flour in a large bowl, then add yeast mixture, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl.
3. Knead dough on a floured work surface with floured hands, reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, but using as little flour as possible, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes.
4. Form dough into a ball and dust generously with flour. Put dough in a medium bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.
5. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put pizza stone on oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500°F.
6. While waiting, slice the grapes and chop the fontina.
7. Meanwhile, bring Marsala with sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, uncovered, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes (mine took longer ... be patient and wait for it to reduce to 1 tbsp. Several reviews complained about the pizza being soggy and my guess is that people didn't fully reduce. I had a little liquid on my pizza as it was.).
8. Add grapes to saucepan and stir gently to coat with syrup, then transfer to a bowl. Add cheeses and pepper to bowl, then stir to combine.
9. When the dough is ready, do not punch down dough. Gently dredge dough in a bowl of flour to coat, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or baking sheet (without sides). Lightly flour parchment (around dough). Pat out dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 13-inch round. (Do not handle dough more than necessary. If dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour.)
10. Arrange topping on dough leaving a 1-inch border. If desired, brush border with an egg wash or olive oil.
11. Slide pizza on parchment onto pizza stone. Bake pizza until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden and bubbling in spots, 14 to 16 minutes.
12. Using peel or baking sheet, transfer pizza to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes and remove parchment before slicing.

Bagel, Eggs, and Spinach-Red Lentil Soup

For some reason the perfect thing to do with leftover spinach-red lentil soup that was entirely too thick to be called a soup seemed to be to make a hearty breakfast. I had emergency bagels hiding in my freezer (St. Viateur of course), so those form the base of this dish. Initially, I planned on poaching the eggs, but that seemed entirely too healthy, so I went with fried - sunny side up. This came together as well as I could've hoped and was oh so filling.

Bagel, Eggs, and Spinach-Red Lentil Soup

1 cup spinach soup with red lentils
2 eggs
butter or oil for cooking eggs
salt and pepper
1 bagel

1. Toast and slice bagel.
2. Reheat soup (the microwave works just fine). Cover sliced bagel with soup.
3. Cook eggs however you prefer your eggs.
4. Top bagel-soup with eggs. Salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach Soup with Red Lentils

This is less of a soup and more of a dip ... or at least mine turned out quite thick. It could be that I added too much spinach (I didn't weight, although my guess is I added less and not more). The recipe calls for Balti masala (a spice blend he recommends you make yourself), but feel free to use any masala that you like (he also suggests grinding whole cumin and coriander seeds, but that also was not going to happen ... one day!). Finally, this soup is quite green, so be prepared for vibrant colours. Scaled down version below. Feel free to double it. The original serves 6.

I was somewhat surprised with how well this turned out (provided you like lentils and spinach). He says to serve it with slices of sourdough bread (it's a contemporary curry, not traditional). I ate this as a dip primarily with copious amounts of baguette.

Spinach Soup with Red Lentils (adapted from 660 Curries)

1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 serrano chiles, diced
1 tbsp canola oil
1 small red onion, sliced (I did not scale this down)
3 cloves garlic, minced
340g spinach, rinsed
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp Balti masala

1. In a small saucepan, combine lentils and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, 18 - 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir fry. Add the garlic 5 minutes or so later. Cook until onion is light brown, 5 - 10 minutes total.
3. Add serrano, cumin, and coriander and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes.
4. Add spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted, 1 - 2 minutes per batch.
5. Add cooked lentils and 1/2 cup water.
6. Pulse with immersion blender. You don't want the mixture to be completely smooth.
7. Simmer over medium heat for another 5 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Couscous with Broccoli and Walnuts

The problem I have with Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is that while the food is good, it's not amazing. Even when I like his recipes, they leave me feeling like something is missing. This one is no exception. It merits blog placement because it's super quick, easy, relatively cheap, healthy, and only dirties one pot. However, it needs a little something else ... maybe a squeeze of lemon or some blue cheese instead of the feta I used? Feel free to experiment. I may have to revisit this at some point.

Couscous with Broccoli and Walnuts

1/2 cup walnuts
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
1 broccoli, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
salt and pepper
1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups cooking liquid (stock or white wine of your choice ... I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup white wine)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
crumbled feta to taste (see notes)

1. Put a deep dry skillet over medium high heat. Toast walnuts. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet. Add onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
3. Add broccoli and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook stirring frequently until it is well-coated in oil and starts to sputter, 5 - 10 minutes.
4. Add couscous, stirring until it is coated in oil and begins to toast, 3 - 5 minutes.
5. Stir in stock or other liquids and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low.
6. Simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, blitz the walnuts in a food processor.
8. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, stir in walnuts, and add garnishes - parsley and cheese (maybe some lemon?).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken twice in ... two weeks? What's this world coming to? I'll blame this recipe choice on chowhound though. I was looking to see what recipes people liked out of 660 Curries and chicken tikka masala came up. Who am I to argue with the wisdom of the crowd? (especially when it calls for yogurt and I have extra yogurt just dying to be used in the fridge left over from grapefruit yogurt cake ... I have an aversion to just eating yogurt)

As far as changes go, I omitted 1/4 cup golden raisins from the sauce (add with the almonds) because I have a raisin aversion and fried the chicken instead of grilling it (but grilling would've been nicer!). I scaled down the chicken, but left everything else the same because I like sauce (original is below). I forgot I had fresh cilantro when I was making the marinade, but remembered it for the garnish. Finally, I'm not sure if my garam masala is Punjabi or not, but it smelled good!

As a side note, I was already more or less full when this finished cooking (I had an heirloom tomato with feta cheese salad), but couldn't resist going for a second (baby) helping. I'd had a recipe chicken tikka masala from Saveur sitting in my "recipes to try" bookmarks for 9 months or so, but quickly erased it after trying this. This will be my go-to recipe for it.

Chicken Tikka Masala (adapted from 660 Curries)

To make the ginger paste, puree together 1 1/4 cup chopped ginger with 1/2 cup water (you'll have leftovers, but I'm sure you'll find uses, or you can scale). To make the garlic paste, puree together 50 cloves garlic with 1/2 cup water.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (I forgot this part)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp Punjabi garam masala
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
680g boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" wide strips
2 tbsp ghee or canola oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (I used slightly more and fresh heirloom thanks to a friend!)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Punjabi garam masala
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, cilantro, coriander, cumin, cayenne, paprike, salt, garam masala, and turmeric in a small bowl. Whisk.
2. Place chicken in a large bowl and pour marinade over it. Toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes - 6 hours.
3. Heat oil in a small saucepan (yes small, you want the veggies to sweat, not burn) over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and almonds. Cook, stirring until vegetables soften and become honey brown, 10 - 12 minutes (it should smell delicious).
4. Stir in tomatoes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Remove from heat.
5. Add cream, salt, cayenne, and garam masala. Puree with an immersion blender.
6. Simmer sauce over low heat.
7. Meanwhile, cook the chicken. You can grill, broil, or fry. I fried. If grilling or broiling, use skewers.
8. Serve over chicken over rice with sauce on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pearl Couscous with Olives, Roasted Tomatoes, and Feta

I feel like this recipe fits more with what I was cooking a few months ago, but I only got around to it now because I finally managed to pick up some pearl couscous (along with some tamarind and porcini mushrooms ... finds that I'm entirely too excited about). For some reason in my memory, this recipe called for feta cheese, so when I saw some delicious looking Bulgarian feta, I jumped on it. The recipe doesn't call for feta, but it tastes amazing with feta, so I think you should just go for it. I skipped on the mint and thyme, but otherwise stuck with the recipe. Making it again, I might leave the salt out of the tomato sauce as it tasted a little salty to me (probably thanks to the feta). I cut the recipe in half, but the original is included below.

For an updated and simplified version that uses sun-dried tomatoes, try this one.

Pearl Couscous with Olives, Roasted Tomatoes, and Feta (from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen)

For roasted tomatoes and dressing
2 pt red grape or cherry tomatoes (680g)
3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (you might omit if using feta)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For couscous
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 1/4 cups pearl (Israeli/Maghrabiyeh) couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
crumbled feta

1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
2. Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan (for easy clean-up, put some parchment down). Add garlic to pan and roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 - 2 hours. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
3. Peel garlic and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.
4. Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and stir in couscous, then simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes.
5. Spread couscous in 1 layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes (if you don't want to dirty another dish and have time, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl and use the same dish).
6. Transfer couscous to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and feta.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Egg and Pancetta Stuffed Tomatoes

There are few things better than a lazy weekend morning, except maybe a lazy weekend morning with delicious food. The idea for this breakfast was planted by a foodgawker post, but the execution didn't seem quite right. I checked epicurious and Smitten Kitchen for further inspiration, only to be pointed to the same recipe that included pesto and intact egg yolks. The epicurious versions did offer pancetta though which seemed like a perfect addition.

In the end, I ended up making a sort of scrambled eggs with pancetta stuffed into roasted tomatoes and topped with melted cheese. I think it's the perfect combination of saltiness and sweet tomatoes. This is probably one of my best experiments in a while and should be made again. This is one serving. Feel free to scale up.

Egg and Pancetta Stuffed Tomatoes
2 tomatoes
3 slices of pancetta
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt (you might skip this as the pancetta makes it quite salty)
1 tbsp buttermilk (regular milk should be fine too)
2 tbsp freshly grated romano cheese (or parm)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Chop pancetta into bite-sized pieces and cook in a small skillet.
3. Cut off the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the innards.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, salt, and buttermilk.
5. Stir pancetta into the egg mixture.
6. Pour the egg mixture into the hollowed out tomatoes. Top with grated cheese.
7. Bake in oven for 50 minutes or until cheese is golden brown (maybe a little less than mine!) and egg is cooked through.

Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles

It's sad to say, but I haven't had nearly enough time to cook lately. At least I finally got around to trying my first recipe out of Cradle of Flavor. This one is simple and a definite success. I may have roughly doubled the recipe because the shrimp I bought was 340g instead of 200g and I didn't feel like scaling down. If you do something similar, be careful not to make the dish too spicy. The chiles go a long way. My flavour paste never really became paste-like either, but I'm going to blame that on my poor quality food processor. Make sure you get everything ready to go for this dish while the chili peppers are soaking, because it cooks up fairly quickly once it gets started. This makes 2 servings.

Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles (from Cradle of Flavor)

225g fresh flat rice noodles, rinsed and drained, or dried hor fun noodles
3 small dried red chiles such as arbol, stemmed and broken in half
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp double-black soy sauce (she recommends Pearl River)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
200g medium-sized shrimp, peeled, heads removed, and deveined
1 large egg, cracked into a bowl or cup
1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
7 Chinese chives or 5 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
Kosher salt to taste

1. Place the chiles in a bowl. Add warm water to cover and soak for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, if you're using dried noodles, cook and set aside (30 seconds to 2 minutes in boiling water, toss with oil to prevent clumping). Chop veggies and prepare all other ingredients.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or cup, combine soy sauce, sugar, and 1 tsp water. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, place the shrimp paste in the center of a square of aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the paste to make a parcel. Press down with the heel of your hand to flatten into a 1/4 inch thick disk. Heat a gas burner to medium-low or an electric burner to medium-high. Place the parcel directly on the heat source. Toast until it begins to smoke and release a shrimpy smell, about 90 seconds. With tongs or other creative grasping device, flip the parcel and toast the other side for 90 seconds. Turn off burner and let cool for a minute. Unwrap the parcel, transfer to a small bowl and cool for another 30 seconds.
5. Remove the chiles from the water and add chiles and shrimp paste to a small food processor. Pulse until smooth and the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes. You can add up to 2 tbsp of water to help you.
6. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the paste and saute until the paste begins to separate from the oil, 4 - 6 minutes. Transfer paste to bowl and set aside.
7. Add 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat to the skillet. Saute garlic until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the paste and stir well to combine.
8. Add the shrimp and raise heat to high. Stir-fry until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.
9. Add rice noodles and soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry until noodles are heated and have soaked up most of the liquid, about 2 minutes.
10. Make a well in the center of the noodles and pour in the egg. Scramble the egg in the well. Let rest until it begins to set, about 30 seconds. Mix the noodles and egg together.
11. Add bean sprouts and chives/scallions. Stir-fry until they begin to wilt, about 30 seconds. Add salt if desired.
12. Divide onto 2 plates and serve.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Corn and Tomato Gratin

I was pleasantly surprised with how well this turned out. It's simple and a celebration of the wonderful vegetables that summer gives us. I keep wanting to think it's a main dish (maybe with chickpeas ...), but it's definitely more of a side. I substituted buttermilk for the whole milk which I think gave it a bit more flavour, but that's only because I have buttermilk to use up in the fridge. Feel free to use regular milk.

Corn and Tomato Gratin (from Gourmet Today)

680g tomatoes (4 medium), cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
salt and pepper
4 cups corn kernels (from 6 - 8 ears)
1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Arrange tomato slices in a layer on a rack. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and let drain for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine corn, milk, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Preheat oven to 375F and butter a shallow 2 qt baking dish.
4. Combine bread crumbs, basil, cheese, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bolw.
5. Arrange 1/3 tomato slices in baking dish. Cover with 1/3 of bread crumb mixture and dot with 1/3 of butter. Spoon half of corn mixture on top. Repeat. Top with remaining tomatoes, then bread crumbs, then butter.
6. Bake uncovered until golden and bubbling, 40 - 45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Pad See Ew

This was quick (if you don't count the 30 minute marinade!), simple, and delicious. What more could you ask for? I made a few changes ... I used regular broccoli instead of Chinese broccoli because I didn't feel like going on a vegetable scavenger hunt. I also substituted bean sprouts for wide rice noodles, because (1) I couldn't find wide rice noodles; (2) I lacked confidence in my ability to cook rice noodles properly for a dinner guest; and (3) I was buying bean sprouts anyways for another meal. It worked out well. I should've served it over rice since I skipped the noodles, but I didn't. I also took a short cut and substituted pre-sliced fondue pork for doing it myself ... I highly recommend that short cut if you can get your meat from Maison du Roti.

This serves two with no leftovers sadly. It cooks up quickly, so make sure you have everything ready to go before you start cooking.

Pad See Ew (from Use Real Butter, originally Chez Pim)

225g pork loin, sliced thin against the grain (fondue meat works great!)
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
splash of dark sesame oil
the rest of it
2-3 tbsps cooking oil
250g Chinese broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (or regular)
fish sauce to taste
300g fresh wide rice noodle (or bean sprouts)
1 tbsp thick soy sauce (dark, I used Pearl River)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine marinade ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in your wok or pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and sauté for about a minute.
3. Then add a splash of fish sauce, sautéing. Remove the greens from the pan and set aside.
4. Add another tablespoon (or more) of oil to the pan and toss in the noodles (if using sprouts, wait and just add them at the end), coating them with the oil. Add thick soy sauce, a few splashes of fish sauce and stir the noodles about until they are evenly cooked. Remove the noodles from the pan and set aside.
5. Scrape off any remnants from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil and set over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir for a second, then add the pork. Stir-fry until the pork is almost cooked through.
6. Push the pork to the side of the pan and add an egg to the middle. Let it cook for a few seconds then stir it together with the pork. Add the broccoli and the noodles (or sprouts ... if using sprouts, stir until wilted). Stir together. Remove from heat.
7. Add more soy sauce and/or fish sauce to taste (you may not need any) and then toss the noodles with a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar and a few grinds of black pepper.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

When I think of stuffed peppers, I typically think of things a little more hearty with grains, but I decided to follow this recipe exactly. Think of it as a salad in a bell pepper. The notes suggest that they're best served warm or room temperature, but not hot. I certainly liked them more the next day straight from the refrigerator than the day of. I cut the recipe in half, but the original is included below.

Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil (from Gourmet Today)

4 red bell peppers
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved or quartered depending on size)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450F and oil a large baking sheet.
2. Halve bell peppers, discarding seeds and ribs. Place cut side up on the baking dish and brush with olive oil.
3. Toss tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper with olive oil. Divide evenly among the pepper.
4. Cover dish with foil and cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and cook until peppers are tender, 20 - 25 minutes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Basil

I have a bad habit of letting food go to waste. Generally, the offenders fall into one of two categories: (1) vegetables/fruit that I bought for a specific recipe and didn't use all of it and languishes in the fridge and (2) leftovers from a previous night that were created to avoid problem 1, but I don't want to eat because I'd rather make something new. I'm making a conscious effort to avoid this by buying in-season (ideally local) vegetables and planning a week of meals around it (this week you may notice a bell pepper and tomato theme). Sometimes this works and something I run out of corn on the first day. This method of cooking is also encouraging me to avoid foodgawker and rely more on my cookbooks. Sometimes it's a bust (last night's red lentil and bell pepper curry ... although I really should've trusted by instincts on that one!), but the successes are worth the risk. Right now, I am completely enamored with Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking that I picked up a few weeks ago.

This recipe was quick, easy, and delicious. It's slightly annoying to have to peel the bell pepper, but I think it does help with the texture. According to the book, this serves 4. I scaled down, but the original is included below.

Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Basil (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

3 bell peppers (she suggests a mix of red and yellow)
16 - 20 basil leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
450g pasta (she suggests rigatoni, penne, or ziti ... I used whole wheat penne)

1. Wash the peppers. Cut them lengthwise, removing the seeds and core. Peel the peppers (by far the most annoying part of this recipe!). Cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the strips in half.
2. Rinse basil leaves and pat dry. Tear larger leaves by hand, set aside.
3. In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic cloves and cook until a light nut brown. Remove the garlic and discard.
4. Place the peppers in the pan. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until peppers are tender but not mushy. Salt to taste and remove from heat (you can reheat if necessary right before tossing with the pasta).
5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is nearly ready, melt butter in a small microwave-safe dish (or you can use the stove).
6. Drain pasta, toss with pepper mixture, melted butter, grated Parmesan, and basil. Serve.