Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thai Fried Rice with Chicken and Basil

What to do with leftover rice and rabbit? Make fried rice of course. I scaled the rice in half, but kept the spices at their original level. I can't imagine using the spices for twice as much rice! I made quite a few substitutions and omissions (skipped on onion, peas, and used tomato paste instead of tomatoes), but I think it worked for giving new life to leftovers.

Thai Fried Rice with Chicken and Basil (adapted from The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red curry paste
225g chicken breast, cubed (I used leftover rabbit)
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
15 fresh basil leaves
2 green onions, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan.
2. Add garlic and curry paste and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
3. Add chicken and cook until chicken turns white, about 3 - 4 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to moderate. Splash in 2 tbsp water if the pan seems dry.
5. Add rice and, using a spatula, turn over often.
6. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and toss rice so seasonings are well mixed.
7. Cook for 3 minutes, then add tomato paste.
8. Just before serving, stir in basil and green onions.

Rabbit with Rosemary and White Wine

I've never cooked rabbit before. I've eaten it and found it delicious, so I was eager to try it on my own. For some reason, I didn't realize rabbit would look so ... rabbity. At the butcher shop, the poor rabbits still had their heads attached and appeared to be frozen mid-leap. Luckily, the butcher offered to cut the rabbit and gave me a choice between taking the head or not. When it came time to actually cook the rabbit, it took all of my will to handle the poor bunny. I was certain I'd never cook rabbit again, but then I tried this dish ... and I may have to make rabbit again. If only I could find a less rabbit-looking rabbit.

The only changes I made to this dish is skipping on soaking the rabbit, simmering the rabbit for longer, and upping the garlic slightly. The sauce on this dish is outstanding. Prior to serving, a few of us were lapping up the extra sauce with bread. I highly recommend it.

Rabbit with Rosemary and White Wine (from Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 rabbit cut into 8 pieces (3 - 3.5 lbs)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1 - 2 garlic cloves, peeled (I also minced)
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 springs fresh rosemary
black pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup warm water

1. Choose a saute pan that can contain all the rabbit pieces without overlapping. Add oil, celery, garlic, and rabbit, cover tightly and turn heat on low.
2. Cook rabbit, turning the meat occasionally, but do not leave uncovered for 2 - 2.5 hours.
3. Uncover the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and cook until all the liquid has simmered away, turning the rabbit from time to time.
4. Add wine, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Allow wine to simmer until it has evaporated.
5. Meanwhile, dissolve bouillon cube and tomato paste in 1/3 cup warm water.
6. Add mixture to the pan. Cook at a steady, gentle simmer for another 15 minutes or more, until the juices have formed a dense little sauce, turning the rabbit pieces from time to time.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berries

This recipe is extremely similar to a recipe I made last June. The only change is the meringue portion of the recipe. The original was scaled for a small serving whereas this version serves a larger crowd. Apparently, pavlovas should have passion fruit and mine had none, but it was still Australian approved. Making this has made me more impatient for Quebec berries. I can't wait for summer.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berries (adapted from Desserts for Breakfast and epicurious)

1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Lemon Curd
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
pinch of salt
3 Tbspn unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
zest of one lemon, freshly grated
1 cup heavy whipping or manufacturing cream, cold
2 Tbspn powdered sugar
Fruit Topping
4 cups berries (I used strawberries and blackberries)
lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
3. Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.
4. Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.
5. Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer ... mine took less time).
6. Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the "crater" is for curd and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (inside will still be marshmallow-like).
7. Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.
Lemon curd
8. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.
9. In a pan over low heat or using a double boiler, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolk, egg, salt, and cut butter. Cook until the butter is completely melted and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (patience!!).
10. Remove the lemon curd from heat and strain through the prepared sieve. Mix in the freshly grated lemon zest. Allow the curd to cool completely.
11. In a chilled bowl, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the powdered sugar and then quickly fold in the cooled lemon curd, being careful not to overmix. Use immediately.
12. Meanwhile, mix berries with sugar and lemon juice to taste. You can allow them to rest in the refrigerator for a bit.
13. Top meringue with a generous helping of lemon curd cream and macerated berries.

Welsh Rarebit (or Rabbit)

I had a rabbit-themed dinner party and couldn't resist a vegetarian rabbit-themed dish. I scaled this recipe in half and had plenty of cheese sauce. I also substituted cheddar in places of the cheeses listed. I got a little anxious about the lack of milk or cream, so I threw in just a tiny bit after the beer to try to make it more sauce-like. I think it would've been okay without. Is this recipe authentic? I don't know. I failed to make the Welsh guy at the party taste it. Is it tasty? Most definitely.

One year ago: Pear, Proscuitto, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Welsh Rarebit (adapted from, submitted by bonzaichef)

200g Cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 whisked egg yolk
1/2 tsp English mustard powder
3/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper
75ml Guinness
sliced baguette

1. In a saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat & add the flour, cook for 1 min stirring constantly, add the egg & stir for another 30 secs.
2. Slowly whisk in the beer but do not let the mixture boil.
3. Add the cheese in handfuls, stirring until it is melted in.
4. Stir in the worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, paprika, chili or cayenne pepper, pinch of salt a ground pepper & mix well.
5. Toast the french bread lightly & place on a plate, spoon over the creamy mixture(if you wish you can then place under a hot grill just to crisp the top lightly).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Butter Chicken

I was pleased with how well this turned out. I didn't have all of the ingredients this called for, so I skipped on the cardamom and fenugreek. I also substituted canned tomatoes for fresh because there's not a decent fresh tomato in sight right now. Instead of grilling the meat, I fried it in the same dish I was making the gravy in. This was poor planning on my part because the cooking process ended up taking nearly an hour. I highly recommend starting the gravy while the chicken is cooking.

One year ago: Lemon Sabayon ... funnily enough I also made a lemon curd today

Butter Chicken (from Rasa Malaysia)

500 grams boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
juice of 1 lemon
salt and red chili powder, to taste
1 cup yogurt
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp garlic
1 1/2 tbs tandoori masala
3 tbsp butter
2 cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
4 medium ripe tomatoes, blended (or about 2/3 of a can of tomatoes ... I didn't blend and instead crushed them as they cooked)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
250 ml (about 1 cup) thick cream
extra butter or coriander to garnish

1. Marinate the chicken cubes in lemon juice, salt, chili powder, yogurt, ginger, garlic and tandoori powder for at least half an hour. Overnight is best.
2. Preheat the oven to the highest grill setting. Place the chicken on a baking tray closest to the grill and grill for at least 10 minutes on each side or until cooked. Allow the chicken to cook until it JUST starts to char.
3. To prepare the gravy, heat and melt the butter.
4. Add to it the the cardamoms, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir fry for a minute before adding the tomatoes and tomato paste, Let this simmer on low to medium heat, half covered, for about 15-20 minutes. You will notice the gravy thicken and the oil will form a film on top. If the gravy is too thick, you can add a small amount of water.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients as well as the grilled chicken and simmer for another 15 minutes. Garnish with butter or coriander.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pinto Bean Stew with Butternut Squash

Dinner, like life, is all about expectations. For example, if I expected it to be spring, I would be disappointed by today's snowstorm. If I expected this meal to be a chili, I would be disappointed by its lack of heat ... and meat. That isn't to say the snow wasn't beautiful or that the stew wasn't good, but just don't go expecting a warm spring day or a real chili. This meal was in fact perfect winter comfort food.

I made a few changes. First I substituted pinto beans for black beans because apparently I only imagined I had a bag of black beans needing to be used up in my pantry. I used regular whole tomatoes because contrary to the original blog post, fire roasted tomatoes do not appear to be in the Montreal grocery stores. I added some cumin because I couldn't imagine making this dish without cumin (surely that was a typo). I also added a splash of red wine vinegar at the end because I thought the dish was missing something (other than more spice). The end result was hearty and tasty ... and now I have enough leftovers to feed a small army. Serve with buttermilk biscuits ... maybe throwing in some shredded cheese and garlic powder. (Cornbread would also be good, but I'm still on a biscuit kick.)

One year ago: The one, the only grapefruit yogurt cake ... if you haven't made this yet, I'm very disappointed!

Pinto Bean Stew with Butternut Squash (adapted from The Bitten Word, originally Bon Appetit)

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (consider doubling)
1 tablespoon ground coriander (consider doubling)
1 tablespoon ground cumin (consider doubling)
28 ounce can tomatoes
1 pound dried pinto beans (or black), rinsed
2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (consider doubling)
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano (consider doubling)
Coarse kosher salt
1 2 1/4-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup bulgur
splash of red wine vinegar
Coarsely grated Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
3. Add garlic; stir 1 minute.
4. Sprinkle chili powder, coriander, and cumin over; stir 1 minute.
5. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, and oregano.
6. Add 10 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (time will vary depending on freshness of beans).
7. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Stir in squash and bulgur. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until squash and bulgur are tender, about 30 minutes.
9. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and vinegar.
10. Serve with cheese and some biscuits or cornbread.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

I've posted two recipes so far that use variations on this base to make the cupcakes, but I decided to make it official and just post the basic cupcake recipe for future reference. Sometimes I'm in the mood to make something fancy and some days I just need something quick and easy so I can take desserts with me or whip them out quickly. This recipe falls into the quick and easy category, but it's also delicious enough to get recipe requests. Now that I have a go-to quick brownie recipe, I think this has in the span of a week become my go-to quick cupcake recipe.

Other selling points of this recipe: it only requires two bowls, no stand mixer, and no having to worry about room temperature butter or needing to melt butter. The batter contains no raw egg, so there's no hesitating with eating the raw batter. It also uses cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate which is good because I seem to constantly run out of semisweet chocolate. The one con is it does rely on coconut milk, but I try to always keep at least a can in my cupboard for quick curries. One other word of warning, they don't seem to hold together very well until they've had a chance to cool. If you have the time, a quick trip to the fridge does wonders for them. And if you don't have the time, they're still wonderful.

One year ago: Orzo with Roasted Vegetables ... I think I may need to revisit this soon with a different blend of roasted veggies

Chocolate Cupcakes (from Love and Olive Oil)
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (170g) sugar
1 cup (110g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (40g) cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond meal (ground almonds)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).
5. Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). For mini cupcakes, fill each with 1 tablespoon batter.
6. Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes come together quickly and taste so rich. I initially served them very shortly after cooking and the cake portion didn't seem to want to stay together, but after the rest had had the chance to sit, the cupcakes held their shape nicely.

The only change I did was making my own raspberry layer as I had raspberries on hand, but not raspberry preserves.

One year ago: Eggs en Cocotte with Pesto

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes (from Love and Olive Oil)
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (170g) sugar
1 cup (110g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (40g) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberries
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 - 2 tbsp sugar
Whipped Ganache Frosting:
8 ounces good semisweet or dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract and beat till foamy.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until no lumps remain (or very few remain).
5. Pour into liners, filling each with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
6. For raspberry layer, finely chop the raspberries in a food processor.
7. Heat raspberries with sugar and cornstarch over medium heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.
8. For whipped ganache, finely chop chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl of a stand mixer.
9. Bring heavy cream to a simmer. Slowly pour hot cream over chopped chocolate, and allow to sit for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is smooth and creamy.
10. Add vanilla, and allow ganache to cool to room temperature.
11. With stand mixer (or handheld electric mixer), whisk on high for 2 to 3 minutes until lighter brown. It should be the consistency of buttercream. If it's too thick, add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time and whip until it is the proper consistency.
12. To assemble, spread a thin layer of raspberry on the cupcakes, and spread or pipe on ganache.

Pasta with Lemon and Olive Oil

I saw this recipe in January's Cook's Illustrated and mentally filed it away to try later. It looked good, but not exactly like a complete meal. When Smitten Kitchen did her own take on it in February, I again mentally filed it away to try. But it wasn't until a friend mentioned she had been wanting to make it for dinner and I realized I needed a quick dinner option to serve to other people that the recipe clicked. I wanted to make this recipe into more of a full meal, so I added a little pancetta and instead of basil, I used some baby spinach that I had on hand. I went from a small handful to many large handfuls, leaving the leaves whole and letting them wilt in the pasta. Arugula would've probably been better, but I still had baby spinach left over from the broccoli cheese soup. I also substituted fresh fettuccine for the spaghetti just because I'm not a big fan of spaghetti and fresh pasta seemed like it would add a nice extra dimension.

The end result was bright and lemony without being overly tart. This dish also comes together and a flash and relies mainly on ingredients you usually have on hand ... all things that make it a winner.

One year ago: Another pantry friendly pasta dish ... Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Pasta with Lemon and Olive Oil (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally Cook's Illustrated)

450g fresh fettuccine or boxed spaghetti
2 - 3 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
1/4 cup heavy cream
30g finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
Ground black pepper
3 cups or so baby spinach or arugula
150g pancetta, thinly sliced and crisped in a frying pan if desired

1. Cook pasta in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (SK tip: You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.)
2. While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest. Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.
3. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.
4. Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat.
5. Return pasta to pot and stir until coated. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
6. Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together. 7. Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser.
8. Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did). Stir in pancetta and season generously with salt and pepper.
9. Serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

I was a little skeptical of this soup, but curious. I associate broccoli-cheese soup with a bright orange soup and florets of broccoli. It's anything but healthy, but it's delicious. This on the other hand uses no milk or cream and a minimal amount of cheese, yet the taste is still amazingly flavourful and it's cheesy enough to satisfy my need for regular cheese. The colour is still a bit shocking ...
but with that colour, you can pretend the soup is even healthier than it is!

Broccoli-Cheese Soup (from Cook's Illustrated)

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 kg broccoli, florets roughly chopped and stems trimmed, peeled, and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
3 - 4 cups water
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups chicken broth
60g baby spinach (2 cups)
85g sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
40g Parmesan cheese, grated
ground black pepper

1. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.
2. Add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt. Cook stirring frequently until fragrant, about 6 minutes.
3. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is soft, about 20 minutes. Stir once during cooking.
4. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high.
5. When the mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
6. Add cheese. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender.
7. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water (I didn't need to). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blueberry-Lemon Cheese Crumble Cake

I'm ready for the transition to spring. As part of that readiness, I can't wait for the return of fresh berries. Unfortunately, that's still a ways away, so frozen berries will have to do. Of course, the upside of baking right now is I don't have to worry about overheating the apartment.

This cake made me happy. It's a classic crumble/coffee cake with cheesecake hiding inside. Can it get any better? Well it could if I'd remembered to have patience and let it chill before cutting into it and ruining the layering. I made one change to the recipe which I think helped, but feel free to omit. I substituted the last of my buttermilk for milk ... and then cursed myself today when I wanted to make some cheddar-garlic buttermilk biscuits!

This recipe is a keeper, but I can wait to adapt it ... maybe as a chocolate raspberry cheese crumble cake next? We'll see.

Blueberry-Lemon Cheese Crumble Cake (from The Cooking Photographer, originally Beth Hensperger)

250g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
Crumb Topping
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.
2. In a medium-large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy.
3. Beat in the sugar, lemon juice, egg, and flour until smooth. Set aside.
Crumb mixture
4. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Pulse until a crumb-like texture is formed. Set aside.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
6. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
7. Beat the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
8. Spread the batter into the pan, building up the sides slightly.
9. Sprinkle the surface with half of the blueberries.
10. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top and sprinkle with the rest of the blueberries.
11. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top and press it gently into the cake.
12. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until the edges are golden-brown and the crumb topping is golden. If the crumb topping doesn’t brown, broil it for a couple of minutes at the end but watch closely as it can quickly burn.
13. Cool for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Hazelnut Gremolata

The first signs of spring are here. We've been above freezing for more than a day or two in the past week and I saw some dead grass under a path that people had cut into the snow. I know we'll have a snowstorm or two between now and real spring (it is Montreal after all), but for now, maybe it's time to embrace the good things that winter brings. By now, if any of my co-workers are reading this, they've decided that I'm insane. But there's something to be said for being able to use the oven with wild abandon and each rich foods. I feel like I embraced meat a bit too much over the winter and forgot about delicious vegetables because I didn't have beautiful, fresh local produce to distract me every time I went to the store. So as a farewell to winter, we have a roasted winter vegetable dish.

I made quite a few changes to this recipe. I see the original as more of a jumping point. First, this doesn't seem to be Montreal's brussels sprouts season, so I decided to pass on those and instead substitute celery root. I completely blanked when I went to the grocery store and forgot to buy turnips, so I omitted those entirely. Similarly, I assumed I had pecans ... and then walnuts on a later trip and instead ended up opting for hazelnuts ... which are delicious! I was planning on using parmesan, but at the last minute couldn't resist the idea of using some Bulgarian feta instead. Finally, to turn this into a full meal, I served it over a bed of quinoa.

In the end, I was surprised by how delicious this was. It's healthy and I caught myself going back for seconds (even though I have a cake baking away in the oven! For me, the zip from the lemon and the feta made this dish.

Roasted Vegetables with Hazelnut Gremolata (adapted from epicurious)

500g medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, then crosswise
500g medium parsnips, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise
1 celery root, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup hazelnuts (or pecans ... or walnuts)
50g crumbled feta
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 small garlic clove, minced

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss carrots, parsnips, and celery root in large bowl with 3 tablespoons oil.
2. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender, tossing often, about 1 hour.
3. Transfer vegetables to large platter; cool.
4. Using on/off turns, chop hazelnuts in processor until coarsely ground.
5. Transfer ground hazelnuts to small bowl; stir in feta, parsley, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon peel, garlic, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season gremolata to taste with salt.
6. Drizzle vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Sprinkle gremolata over vegetables just before serving.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raspberry-Lemon Souffle

The only thing worse than a highly anticipated recipe failing is a highly anticipated recipe failing when you're serving it to other people. I found a recipe that I was incredibly excited by ... a raspberry souffle with a chocolate truffle hidden inside. It seemed so promising, but then it horribly collapsed in the oven and the raspberry taste just wasn't quite there. I realize it's likely my fault for the collapsing (I overbaked them), but the raspberry taste just didn't cut it either. Discouraged, but not completely deterred, I decided to check for another raspberry souffle recipe. Luckily, the second time around went much better ... although no one got to enjoy it but me. You could try hiding a chocolate truffle inside, but it's also satisfying with just the fruit. I left out the raspberry jam and upped the sugar a bit because people were saying it was a bit tart and to use sauces with it (I assume the jam would've added sugar and making a creme anglais just didn't seem right for this). Instead of collapsing in the oven, this souffle was super tall. It also had a much more intense raspberry flavour thanks to the extra step of boiling the raspberry down.

Raspberry-Lemon Souffle (adapted from

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
340g frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup 3 tbsp sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups with oil spray. Place dishes on baking sheet.
2. Puree raspberries with juices in processor. Strain puree into heavy medium saucepan, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. (I skipped the straining as I don't mind having the seeds.)
3. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
4. Add lemon peel and vanilla. Transfer to large bowl. Cool, whisking occasionally.
5. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until soft peaks form.
6. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff but not dry.
7. Fold 1/3 of whites into raspberry mixture; fold in remaining whites.
8. Divide mixture among prepared dishes. Bake soufflés until puffed and golden, about 16 minutes.

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

This isn't my all-time favourite risotto recipe, but it's solid ... especially if you like porcini mushrooms.

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms (from Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 cup beef broth diluted with 4 cups water
2 tbsp butter, divided
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp onion chopped very fine
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 - 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-regginao cheese

1. In a small bowl, combine porcini mushrooms with 2 cups warm water. Soak for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking water.
2. Bring broth to a very slow, steady simmer.
3. Place 1 tbsp of butter, vegetable oil, and the chopped onion in a broad pot and turn heat to medium high. Cook until onion becomes translucent.
4. Add rice and stir until grains are well coated.
5. Add white wine. Stir until wine has been absorbed.
6. Add 1/2 up of simmering broth. Stir. When it has evaporated, add more, repeat many times.
7. When rice has cooked for 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and 1/2 of filtered water.
8. When liquid has evaporated, add remaining mushroom liquid.
9. Finish cooking rice using the broth. Keep cooking until rice is tender but still firm with no more liquid remaining in the pot.
10. Off heat, add pepper, 1 tbsp butter, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Salt to taste.

Buttermilk Biscuits (revisited)

I've taken a very long break from making biscuits because I never seem to be happy with how they turn out. The little things never want to rise, so they end up more like hockey pucks that delicious little circles of flaky bread. With extra buttermilk sitting in my fridge though, I couldn't very well pass up the opportunity to make biscuits, so it was time for another attempt.

I've been studying biscuit techniques for a while and have picked up the following hints, some of which I followed, some of which I did not:
  • Use a low-gluten, soft-wheat flour like White Lily ... ok, so that wasn't going to happen I only have Five Roses and sadly it's high gluten 
  • Sift the flour before measuring
  • Chill the fats and the bowl
  • Avoid handling the dough as much as possible ... the food processor is your friend (I've finally been sold on this ... and now I need to buy a larger food processor)
  • Do NOT roll out the dough, pat it out
  • Invest in a good biscuit cutter with sharp edges ... I prefer to cut square biscuits so I don't waste dough
  • Don't re-roll the dough
With all of that in mind, I set out to try a recipe again. I made this recipe twice (cutting it in half each time), once with lard and vegetable shortening and once with butter. It's slightly better using the lard and shortening, but the butter works. While I was making it with butter, I failed to add additional salt as I only had unsalted butter, but you should definitely do that. If you like a super moist biscuit, you might also want to think about using 6 tbsp total of fat instead of 5. In the end, the most amazing thing about this recipe was that the biscuits rose ... finally! No more hockey puck biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits (from Texas Home Cooking)

2 1/2 cups soft-wheat flour, preferably White Lily
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp lard, well chilled
2 tbsp vegetable shortening, preferably Crisco, well chilled
1 cup buttermilk, well chilled

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Sift together dry ingredients three times.
3. With a food processor (or if you don't have one a pastry blender), blend in lard and shortening until a coarse meal forms.
4. Blend in buttermilk until a sticky dough forms.
5. If you didn't use a food processor, Turn the dough out and kneed four to six times.
6. Otherwise, go straight to patting the dough out to 1/2 inch thick.
7. Cut with a 2 or 3 inch round biscuit cutter.
8. Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Five-Spice Beef Stir-Fry

For some reason, I have been craving Asian food lately. The mix of sweet and salty seems to be exactly what I need right now. Luckily for me, stir-fry dishes tend to come together incredibly quickly ... I also usually have everything on hand except for the meat and veggies.

In this case, I found the recipe on Evil Shenanigans, but noticed some odd things in the ingredient list (mainly how soy sauce was referred to), so I went back to check the original at Kylie Kwong. My final product was a mix of the two recipes, going back to using the dark soy sauce without orange juice of the original, but leaving in the sriracha from the newer version. The sriracha gave it a nice little kick, although you might go a bit lighter if you don't like heat that much. I noticed later that the original uses less honey and I might dial it back a tiny bit as well if I make this again.

I served this with rice and steamed broccoli.

One year ago: Simple Tomato Sauce

Five-Spice Beef Stir-Fry (adapted from Evil Shenanigans and Kylie Kwong, see links above)

500 g beef cut into 2cm slices (I used fondue meat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 tablespoons green onions, sliced
1/3 cup honey (consider using 1/4)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons shao hsing wine, or sherry
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Serve with
steamed rice
steamed broccoli or other veggies

1. In a plastic bag mix together marinade ingredients. Add the thinly cut beef and massage to be sure all the beef is well coated. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight.
2. Once the beef has marinated heat a wok, or large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add half the beef and allow to sear for thirty seconds before stirring. Cook until the beef is brown, about 1 minute, then remove from the pan. Add the remaining beef and cook until browned. Remove from pan.
3. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add soy sauce. Return the beef to the wok and increase the heat to high. Cook until the beef is coated in a sticky, caramelized glaze, about two minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve with rice and vegetables.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

I debated whether or not to post this recipe. Objectively, it's good. Honestly though, it wasn't at all what I was craving this week, so I chose to cook more food rather than finishing off the leftovers. I was worried the dish would end up being too sweet, but it worked well in the end.

I couldn't find apple-cranberry juice, so I substituted blood orange, pomegranate, cranberry juice. I also used canola oil in place of the olive oil.

One year ago: Mango and Avocado Salad

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew (from Better Homes and Gardens)

1kg pork loin, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 - 4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 3 stalks celery, chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups apple cranberry juice (or something similar)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 - 2 tbsp fresh sage, snipped
grated nutmeg

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.
2. Coat pork with 3 tbsp flour.
3. In a dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Brown pork in batches and remove.
4. Add remaining oil, onion, and celery. Cook 5 - 7 minutes.
5. Add garlic. Sprinkle with remaining flour. Stir.
6. Stir in broth, juice, and 1 cup water.
7. Return pork. Add potatoes and sage and bring to a simmer.
8. Reduce heat and cook 20 - 25 minutes.
9. Top with nutmeg and fresh sage.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers

I don't generally buy snack foods, because if there's not something around to snack on, I usually don't have the urge to snack. When I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen though, I knew right away what I'd be making this weekend. This recipe is remarkably quick to throw together ... unless you decide to make it complicated. While I don't have the dedication to make goldfish-shaped goldfish crackers (although I admire people who do!), I thought I could pretend this was slightly healthier than it is by making vegetable-shaped goldfish cracker. Cutting the crackers into cute vegetable shapes was definitely the most labour-intensive part. And the end result? Remarkably like those little goldfish I used to adore when I was little.

I scaled the recipe in half, but otherwise stayed true to the original. My main reason for scaling was I didn't think my food processor could handle the full amount. I need to buy a larger food processor but keep putting it off. If you have a big enough food processor, please go with the full recipe!

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers (from Smitten Kitchen, originally The Lee Bros)

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups coarsely grated) sharp cheddar, orange if you can find one you like
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 57 grams) butter
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces or 62 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces or 31 grams) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon table salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.
2. If the dough feels warm or worrisome-ly soft, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This also makes it easier to transfer shapes once they are rolled out.
3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. Form shapes with a cookie cutter, dipping it in flour from time to time to ensure a clean cut. Gently transfer crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch between them.
4. Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

West African Peanut Soup

I was talking to someone this past week about vegetarian phases and how pleased with myself I was for shifting back to cooking meat in the past 6 months or so (of course I still tend to gravitate towards cuts of meat that I won't have to do that much hands on work with ... ground meats, pre-cut stew meat, pre-sliced fondue meat). However, maybe I haven't come as far as I thought. Last weekend I couldn't resist some sweet potatoes that were on sale at the Val-Mont. I have a pork and sweet potato stew that I copied down a while ago that I've been meaning to try, but haven't gotten around to. Before I could make the pork though, I ran across this recipe and couldn't resist. Why do I get so much more excited about cooking vegetarian (or almost vegetarian) dishes than meat-based dishes?

I've been wanting to make an African peanut stew since seeing the tennis episode on Top Chef All-Stars. I made a peanut soup a few months ago (which was delicious), but was constrained to ingredients I had on hand, so it ended up being more curry flavoured than the African soup I'd seen. According to the comments on this recipe, it's not exactly authentic, but that's okay, I'm not going for authenticity, just a general taste of peanuty tastiness.

The only changes I made to this recipe were using whole cloves as I don't have ground on hand and using peanut oil instead of vegetable oil (it is a peanut soup, right?). I also took their suggestion of drizzling with sesame oil, remembering halfway through eating. It definitely added a nice touch! The end result was a bowl of rich, peanut comfort food.

West African Peanut Soup (from Gimme Some Oven, originally Aliza Green)

2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger root
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp sesame oil

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
2. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne. Sauté together 2 to 3 minutes to release their fragrance.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and sweet potatoes, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes to meld the flavors.
4. Add the stock and peanuts, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
6. Whisk in the peanut butter and chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and heat through.
7. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve.

Doughnut Muffins

I'm a little behind the recipe trend. Doughnut muffins have been making the rounds for quite some time and I seem to have never gotten around to trying them. This week's pub trivia focused on Tim Horton quite a bit, so it seemed only appropriate to finally make doughnut muffins. These don't quite taste like a doughnut, but they're incredibly light. At the end, you're supposed to dip the muffins in melted butter and then dip in sugar and cinnamon. I didn't want something quite that messy, so I cut back on the butter and sugar and simply brushed butter on the tops and then sprinkled on the sugar. Original directions are included below.

Doughnut Muffins (from lemanda on Tasty Kitchen)

1 3/4 cup (195g) Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoons Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/3 cups Oil
3/4 cups (170g) White Sugar
1 whole Egg
3/4 cups Milk
1/4 cups Butter
1/3 cups White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
2. Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk in a separate bowl.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir only to combine.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bowl.
6. Combine the white sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl.
7. Shake muffins out while still hot. Dip muffins in butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Let cool.


I've posted a cornbread recipe before, but it was used for cornbread dressing and I wasn't as happy with it on its own. When a friend asked me to bring over some cornbread for dinner Friday night, I went straight to a reliable source ... Homesick Texan. My previous recipe included shortening which I understand has its place, but I don't particularly enjoy cooking with. This recipe doesn't and surprisingly enough, I had everything I needed (including the buttermilk) on hand. Well, everything except a cast iron skillet ... one day I'll buy one.

One year ago: Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli Pesto

Cornbread (from Homesick Texan)

2 cups of cornmeal (yellow or white)
1/2 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Put the drippings or oil in a cast iron skillet and place it in the oven for a few minutes until it’s sizzling.
3. Mix together dry ingredients. Set aside.
4. Whisk egg and buttermilk. Mix with dry ingredients
5. Take cast iron skillet out of oven, and pour hot oil into batter, and mix.
6. Pour batter into cast iron skillet, bake in oven for 20 minutes. Cornbread should be brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the skillet.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Multi-Grain Pasta with Lamb and Butternut Squash

If not for needing to roast the squash, this is a very quick dish to make. It's also remarkably hearty and flavourful. I doubled the recipe expecting it not to go very far and found instead that making the full box of pasta was entirely too much food (the undoubled version is below and serves 4 - 6). Luckily, this recipe was a success. The meat in the dish is more of an accent. Some reviewers suggested putting it on top of couscous which I don't think would be bad either.

The original recipe calls for kasseri cheese, but I substituted feta. I also didn't need any reserved pasta water and found that a common point in the reviews, so I've omitted it from the recipe below.

Multi-Grain Pasta with Lamb and Butternut Squash (from Love and Olive Oil, originally epicurious)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (4 to 5 cups)
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
250g ground lamb
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
250g multi-grain penne pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or grated kasseri) cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Toss squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. T
3. ransfer squash to large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and brown around edges, using metal spatula to turn occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Add lamb and onions; sauté until lamb browns and onions soften, 7 to 8 minutes.
6. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute.
7. Stir in tomatoes, then broth and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.
8. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
9. Stir in squash. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return pasta to pot.
11. Add lamb mixture, half of cilantro, and half of cheese; toss. Season with salt and pepper.
12. Transfer pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and cheese.

Impossible Chocolate Flan

This is another recipe that falls into the I saw it and had to make it category. Despite it's polished finished look and delicious taste, it's actually remarkably easy to make. The most important part is to make sure you're using a deep enough pan (the original suggests a pan that's at least 2 inches deep). If you're using a springform pan, you'll probably want to line it to ensure there's no leakage. A silicone pan is ideal.

The most amazing thing about this recipe? It's flips while it's cooking. The chocolate layer is poured on the bottom, but rises above the flan while the dish cooks. The finished top didn't look too pretty, so I wasn't certain I'd succeeded:
I was also a little bit anxious about the liquid layer that seemed to be between the sides of the cake and the pan, but once I flipped it and sliced into it, I discovered the cake had turned out perfectly:

I made one major change to this recipe. Canadian evaporated milk is sold in smaller quantities than US evaporated milk. Rather than buying 2 cans, I figured the missing 2 ounces or so of evaporated milk wouldn't be missed. If you want, you could try to do the amounts correctly, but I don't think anyone minded. I also omitted the nut garnish ... who would mar this silky smoothness with nuts?

One year ago: Tostados

Impossible Chocolate Flan (from The Dog's Breakfast, originally My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson)

1 cup cajeta or dulce de leche
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk (or use the Canadian size of 300ml)
1 (14-oz.) can condensed milk (or use the Canadian size)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 9 1/2 -inch diameter (2 inches deep) cake pan. 

2. Pour the cajeta over the bottom and sides of the cake pan using a brush or the back of a spoon (you can heat the cajeta very slightly in the microwave so that it is easier to spread).
3. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla.
5. Add to the flour mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined.
6. Pour the cake batter into the pan and set aside.
7. Combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender and blend until there are no visible lumps.
8. Pour gently over the cake batter.
9. Cover loosely with foil, place in a large baking dish, and fill the baking dish with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

10. Remove the cake pan from the baking dish and allow to cool for at least 4 hours or refrigerate overnight. To unmold, lightly pass a warm knife around the edge, place a plate or dish on top, and carefully but rapidly flip over. Serve cold or at room temperature.