Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rhubarb Custard Cake

I've been tempted to try rhubarb for a while thanks to food blog pressure. I'm glad I finally got around to it, although a little bit annoyed with myself that I let it take this long. This first foray into rhubarb goodness is quick to throw together and delicious. I found that I didn't use all of the sugar required to toss the rhubarb in, but perhaps that's because I used less rhubarb than the recipe called for (I didn't measure and used all of the rhubarb in the bundle, but maybe my 5 were on the small size?). I predict more rhubarb recipes in the near future ... assuming I can find more rhubarb!

Rhubarb Custard Cake (from Culinspiration)

Yellow cake:
1 1/4 (scant) c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 egg
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Fruit & custard layer:
2 c. chopped rhubarb (about 3 large stalks, I used 5 smallish stalks)
1/2 c. sugar (I needed less)
1 c. whipping cream

1. In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with the 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8-in. round baking pan or large glass/ceramic baking dish.
2. Prepare cake batter: whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, mix egg, vanilla extract, oil, and milk. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet until thoroughly combined.
3. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Scatter chopped rhubarb and juices evenly across the top. Pour the cream over top.
4. Bake 55-60 min. at 350F until cake springs back when touched.
5. Best served the next day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cashew Chicken

I ended up with some extra cashews from a picnic and couldn't find a better use for them than this dish. Cashew chicken isn't my favourite Chinese dish, but it's relatively quick and easy. I doubled the sauce, but accidentally used more chicken (and slightly more of everything else). I would recommend doubling the sauce even for the correct amount of chicken and have done so below. Don't skip the initial marinade step. It helps give the chicken the perfect texture.

Cashew Chicken (from Rasa Malaysia)

1 boneless & skinless chicken breast, about 280g (cut into small cubes)
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1 small green bell pepper, about 115g (cut into small square pieces)
5 slices ginger (I used grated)
1/4 onion (cut into small square pieces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon rice wine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
6 tablespoons water
6 dashes white pepper powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt to taste

1. Marinate the chicken meat with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes and then rinse the chicken thoroughly. (Please make sure that the chicken is properly rinsed clean of the baking soda.)
2. Pat the chicken meat dry with paper towels and then marinate with the rest of the ingredients for 15 minutes.
3. Mix the sauce together and set aside.
4. Heat up a wok with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and stir-fry the chicken meat until the color turns white or half-cooked. Dish out and set aside.
5. Add another 1 tablespoon of cooking oil into the wok and add in the ginger, bell peppers and onions.
6. Stir-fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the green peppers and add the chicken meat back in.
7. Add in the cashew nuts and do a few quick stirs.
8. Add in the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken meat is cooked and well coated with the sauce. Add salt to taste, dish out and serve the Cashew Chicken hot with steamed white rice.

Asian-Inspired Porcini Risotto

Ever since the first time I tasted this broth, I thought it would taste good in a risotto. I was right and I was not disappointed.

One year ago: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Pots

Asian-Inspired Porcini Risotto (an adaptation)

mushroom broth
2 cups stock (I used chicken)
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
salt, pepper to taste
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I assumed this meant light)
1 sprig rosemary
1 cup risotto rice
1 wineglass dry white wine/vermouth
1 cup (or more) water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1. Make broth Grind the dried porcini mushrooms into a fine powder in a spice or a coffee grinder (I used a regular food processor). Place in a pot, along with stock. Bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add mirin, soy sauce and a sprig of rosemary. Continue to boil for a few minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour. Strain.
2. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and 2 tbsp butter. Saute the ginger and garlic (try not to colour them).
3. Add the rice and stir.
4. When the rice looks somewhat translucent, add the wine. Stir occassionally.
5. Reduce heat. When the wine has evaporated, add a ladle-full of broth to the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. When the broth is absorbed, add another ladle-full. Continue this process. You may need to add some of the water. It will take about 15 - 20 minutes. Taste rice occassionally and continue adding broth until it tastes cooked.
6. Remove from heat. Add 1 tbsp butter and the Parmesan. Stir. Place lid on pan, allow to sit for 2 minutes, and then serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese Pie

I've been wanting to make this recipe for a very long time. How could you go wrong? Macaroni and cheese ... in a pie ... with bacon. This recipe did not fail to disappoint either. The crust is outstanding. Don't cheat and use a pre-made crust. I did skip on the deep-fried macaroni balls (I considered adding some cheese curds, but it was plenty cheesy without them), but I'm sure it would be great with them.

If you end up with leftover pie crust (and you'll certainly have leftover macaroni), they can be used to make an excellent breakfast the next day. Put the pie crust in little souffle cups. Add some macaroni, crumble cooked bacon over the top, and top with an egg. Bake in the oven until whites are set and you have a perfectly satisfying weekend breakfast.

One year ago: Shaved Asparagus Pizza (one of my favourites!)

Macaroni and Cheese Pie (from Desserts for Breakfast)

pie crust
for pastry:
2 cups flour
1/4 tspn salt
6 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2/3 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 Tbspn tabasco sauce
5 Tbspn ice water
for filling and topping:

1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the grated cheddar cheese and cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas.
3. Gradually add the tabasco sauce and the ice water one tablespoon at a time until, when you press the dough between your fingers, it holds together. Do not overmix!
4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator roll it out, about 1/8" thick. Place the dough into the pie plate and crimp the edge. Using a fork, pierce the bottom of the crust several times.
7. If the dough has become soft from rolling, place the prepared pie plate in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
9. Line the inside of the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans.
10. Bake for 15-17 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove the beans and parchment paper and line the edge of the pie crust with foil. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes until the crust is golden. Remove. Keep the oven on.
11. Fill pie with mac'n'cheese.
12. Create a lattice top with bacon, making sure to cut the bacon strips long, since they will shrink in the oven.
13. Return to the 425 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes until the bacon is cooked. [I had trouble getting the bacon to cook and ended up broiling it a bit.] Remove.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Classic Key Lime Pie

It's hard to beat a classic key lime pie recipe. They're quick and easy (except for zesting and juicing the key limes!). At one point, this was my favourite pie.

Classic Key Lime Pie

1 pie shell
1 can sweetened condensed milk (15 oz) (this is the only annoying bit because the Canadian cans are smaller, so you end up using 1.5 cans or so – almost 2 cups)
1 tbsp grated key lime zest
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sugar

1. Prepare a baked pie shell. (I cheated and just used a pre-made graham cracker crust.)
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Mix together condensed milk, zest, lime juice, salt, and two egg yolks. Stir until thickened, a result of the reaction of the milk with the citrus juice.
4. Pour the mixture into the baked crust.
5. Beat 2 egg whites until frothy. Slowly add in sugar, whipping until stiff but not dry.
6. Cover pie with meringue.
7. Bake pie 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Key Lime Meringue Pie

I was pleasantly surprised (and quite excited!) to find a bag of key limes at my local Val-Mont. While searching for a recipe for key lime pie, I came across this recipe. While not traditional, it is delicious. In a head-to-head comparison with a more traditional key lime pie, the vote seemed to be split. I preferred this one. I did have two problems with this recipe though. First, I was in a rush and managed to screw up the meringue. It was still tasty, just a bit runny ... and incredibly messy. I *think* my problem was adding the vanilla too soon, but if you want a tried and true meringue, try this one. Second, I didn't make this far enough in advance and the pie spilled everywhere when cut. It did firm up given the appropriate amount of time to chill.

Key Lime Meringue Pie (from gourmeted)

1 pie crust
Key Lime Curd
Finely grated zest from 4 Key limes
1/3 cup fresh Key lime juice (from at least 6 Key limes)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
eggs whites from 4 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Pre-bake your pie crust according to your pie crust's instructions.
2. Boil 2-inch-deep water in a large saucepan over medium heat.
3. Whisk Key lime zest, Key lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, egg yoks, and salt in a large heatproof bowl.
4. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and heatproof bowl over the saucepan.
5. Whisk the juice and egg mixture constantly until it becomes thick, about 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and transfer on a kitchen towel to secure it on the counter.
7. Whisk in butter one piece at a time until it is well combined and smooth. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl.
8. Line the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
9. Whip cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl.
10. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled curd.
11. Pour into completely cooled piecrust.
12. Preheat oven to 375°F with the rack positioned about 8 inches from the top of the oven.
13. Whisk egg whites on low speed using an electric mixer until bubbles begin to form.
14. Increase speed to medium-low and beat for about 5 minutes until it begins to turn opaque and increase in volume.
15. Add granulated and confectioner’s sugar in a slow and steady stream. Add vanilla and salt. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 10 minutes until meringue becomes very thick. [I think you'll be better off waiting to add the vanilla until after the stiff peaks have formed!]
16. Spread meringue over the curd and cover up to the edges of the curd. Swirl and create peaks using a spatula.
17. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating it halfway through the baking time. Peaks should be darker, and the “valley’s should still be white.
18. Completely cool pie on a wire rack before chilling in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Dan Dan Mian

A funny thing happened this past week ... I actually managed to get quite a bit of cooking in and then I posted none of it because I was too busy to find the time to post. Please excuse the massive catch-up and lack of detailed comments. This recipe falls into the simple, but tasty category. Nothing fancy, nothing amazing, but it comes together easily and is satisfying.

One year ago: Spring Time Risotto

Dan Dan Mian (from Closet Cooking)

450g ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
3 tablespoons garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons ginger (chopped)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used 1 tbsp dark and 1 tbsp light)
1 tablespoon chili oil
2 tablespoon chili sauce (or to taste, I used sriracha)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (toasted & ground)
1 cup chicken stock
450g noodles
1 handful peanuts (chopped, optional)
1 green onion (chopped, optional)

1. Mix the pork and 1 tbsp soy sauce.
2. Brown the pork in a large pan and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in the same pan.
4. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, chili oil, chili sauce, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorns and chicken stock and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
7. Add the pork and remove from the heat.
8. Place some noodles on a plate and pour some of the pork sauce onto them.
9. Garnish with peanuts and green onions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Chili Gravy

This is the best new recipe I've made in a very long time. I think the most recent thing that even comes close to rivaling it is the rabbit dish I made back in March ... not that I've been neglecting this or anything! Usually when I make recipe while tired, it's a disaster, but this one made me incredibly happy for lunch for four days straight this week. I imagine it would've been even better had I not been falling asleep while making it on Monday night! The only problem with this recipe is it does dirty too many dishes. It also requires a bit of time to soak the chiles and then do the assembly ... i.e. probably not a quick weeknight dinner plan unless you make the sauce ahead of time.

I stuck surprisingly close to the recipe on this one. I did substitute canned chipotle in adobo for the dried because I keep those on hand (I had a can once and then froze the leftovers individually after using 1 or 2). I also couldn't find allspice on hand, so I just omitted it. If you're in Montreal, the pasilla chiles can be found at the Latin American grocery store on St. Laurent near Marie-Anne. I almost substituted ancho and I'm sure those would work fine, it would just be slightly different. The original post suggests pasilla have more of a bittersweet flavour. Don't worry too much about completely deseeding the pasilla before soaking as it's easier to complete the task after they've been soaking (just make sure to remove the stem before hand!).

One year ago: Chocolate Orbit Cake with Blackberry-Cassis Sauce ... which if I remember correctly I was so happy with I mostly refused to share (with a few exceptions!)

Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Chili Gravy (from Homesick Texan)

For the pasilla-chipotle chili gravy:
1 or 2 chipotle in adobo chiles
4 dried pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the enchiladas:
450g ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced and divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of lard or vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (225g)

1. In a small, dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes.
2. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place in a blender with chipotle chiles.
3. In a large skillet, heat up the vegetable oil and while occasionally stirring cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
4. Place cooked onion and garlic into the blender with the chiles, along with the cumin, oregano, and the broth. Blend until smooth.
5. In a pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil on low heat, whisking in the flour until well incorporated.
6. Pour in the blended sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as needed. 

7. Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium heat (I use the same one that I used for the onions and garlic) add the ground beef, half of the diced onions and garlic. While stirring occasionally, cook the meat until browned, about 10 minutes. (If you like, you can drain the extra fat once the meet is browned.)
8. Stir the cumin into the meat and cook for 2 more minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust seasonings.
9. Stir into the meat 1/4 cup of the chili gravy.
10. To make the enchiladas, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish.
11. In a small skillet (I used the chili soaking skillet), heat up the lard or oil on medium-low heat. One at a time, heat up the tortillas in the hot oil until soft and pliant.
12. Lay each tortilla on a plate or clean cooking surface and add about 2 tablespoons of beef and some of the cheese. Roll the tortilla and place in greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
13. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining grated cheese and diced onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thai-inspired Tacos

A couple of weeks ago, I went over to a friend's house to watch some hockey. Included in the dinner invitation were cheese burritos. When I think of burritos, I think of gigantic mounds of refried beans and cheese the size of dinner plates. This was more taco-like with fresh ingredients. Not what I was expecting at all, but a refreshing and delicious change of pace. I asked her what all was in it and then promptly changed it a bit (somehow I can't resist changing things). This meal is healthy and comes together quickly enough to be a weeknight meal. I briefly considered using my own beans for this, but took the lazy way out and used canned beans.

Changes from the original: She had a mix of beans, used green onions, cilantro, and a bit of olive oil and lemon. She also melted shredded cheese on the tortillas in the oven before serving. Salad greens were also available for the tacos.

Ideas for next time: I'm tempted to add some fish sauce and brown sugar to the tamarind to make it more of a pad thai sauce.

Crucial things to remember: The sweet chili sauce makes this dish. Buy some and don't skimp on pouring it on your tacos!

One year ago: Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Thai-inspired Taco
I think this makes roughly 2 servings. All measurements are approximate.

flour tortillas
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup tomato, chopped (I just halved some grape tomatoes)
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp tamarind sauce (see notes above)
1/2 tsp cumin
Thai sweet chili sauce

1. In a bowl, combine avocados, tomato, and black beans.
2. Toss with lime juice, tamarind, and cumin to taste.
3. Fill tortillas with mixture and garnish with sweet chili sauce.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Egg Drop Soup

This is a simple soup made mostly from pantry ingredients for those days when you're feeling more than a bit under the weather. It comes together quickly and is readily adaptable. I passed on the mushrooms, but will leave them in the recipe below. I substituted mushroom-flavoured dark soy sauce for regular and doubled it. I also added extra ginger and a bit of oyster sauce and sriracha sauce. It was fine without, but I wanted the soup to have a bit of an extra kick.

One year ago: Rosemary Parmesan Popovers

Egg Drop Soup (adapted from Simply Recipes)

3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (I used 1 tbsp)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce (I used 2 tbsp dark)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of white pepper (or black)
3/4 cup of straw, enoki, or sliced shitaki mushrooms (optional)

1. Reserve 1/2 cup of the stock and mix with the cornstarch until dissolved.
2. Place the chicken stock, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha sauce, green onions, mushrooms and white pepper in a pot and bring to a boil.
3. Add the cornstarch and stock mixture and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer.
4. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs while stirring the soup. The egg will spread out into ribbons. Turn off the heat and garnish with a few more chopped green onions. Serve immediately.