Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cardamom-Scented Chicken with Ginger and Garlic

I made it 3 nights eating Thanksgiving leftovers or repurposing them into new dishes. Night 1: turkey tacos with cranberry salsa and feta cheese. Night 2: Turkey enchiladas with pumpkin mole sauce. Night 3: More enchiladas. But then it was time for a break from leftovers. I had bought some drumsticks at the store on sale and quickly identified this recipe using EYB. Unfortunately, I was out of onions and failed to realize this until it was time to cook, so I omitted those. He gives the option of adding in 250g of baby spinach leaves, but I had kale, so I used that instead. It worked out wonderfully and I would definitely not omit the greens from this recipe as they do an excellent job of capturing the delicious flavour of the sauce. The chicken in this recipe comes out super moist, tender, and smelling of cardamom.

Finally, as a warning, you're better off doing some planning ahead and marinating the chicken the night before as the simmer times on this recipe do add up!

Cardamom-Scented Chicken with Ginger and Garlic (from 660 Curries)

2 tbsp Ginger Paste
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
2 tsp cardamom seeds (green or white), ground
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium-size red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (each 3" long)
250g baby spinach (or chopped kale or other green)
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1. Combine ginger paste, garlic paste, cardamom, cayenne, salt and turmeric in a small bowl and mix well to form a wet paste.
2. Smear each drumstick with the paste and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add drumsticks and onion, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Allow chicken to sear all over and onion to soften, stirring occasionally until bottom of pan acquires a thin brown layer of spice and everything smells menthol-like, 18 - 20 minutes.
4. Pour 1 cup water into pan and scrap bottom to deglaze it.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and braise chicken, spooning liquid over chicken frequently until meat is fall-apart tender, 25 - 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter.
6. Add spinach to pan and increase heat to medium-high and cook sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened and greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.
7. Stir in cilantro and spoon sauce and spinach over drumsticks and serve.

Bengali Squash in Coconut Milk

I can already hear my office mate's objection to this recipe. How is it any different from the Indian squash dish you already made? Granted, they are somewhat similar, but at the same time different which different seasoning and heat levels. I found this one to be much milder than the last and the turmeric gave it a lovely colour. The original calls for bottle gourd squash, but I used butternut. This recipe also calls for fenugreek and nigella seeds which I didn't have on hand despite the boy's insistence that there must be every spice known to man in the cabinet. Instead, I upped the amount of mustard used in the recipe.

Bengali Squash in Coconut Milk (from 660 Curries)

680g bottle gourd squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
2 tsp Panch phoron (or roughly 2/3 tsp fennel seeds and 1/3 tsp each cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, and black/yellow mustard seeds)
2 - 4 dried red Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a medium-size skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle in panch phoron and chiles and stir-fry until chiles blacken and seeds crackle, pop, and are aromatic, about 1 minute.
2. Add squash, salt, and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until squash is coated with spices, 1 - 2 minutes.
3. Pour in coconut milk and stir. As soon as it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally until squash is juicy-tender, 20 - 25 minutes.
4. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Southwestern Turkey with Garlic-Ancho Chili Paste and Gravy

It's been a long time since I made a turkey ... too long. I wanted to try something a bit different this time, so I chose a recipe with an ancho chile rub. I was a bit concerned about the method of cooking though, so I went back to Alton Brown's method that I've used before with much success. I'm not sure how much the flavour of the paste came through (if at all which may be due to me scaling back the paste too much because my bird was smaller), but the meat was incredibly moist. I may continue to play around with the flavours, but the method is a complete winner.

Southwestern Turkey with Garlic-Ancho Chili Paste and Gravy (Flavour from epicurious, originally Bon Appetit; Method from Alton Brown)

1 17-to 18-pound turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
3 large heads garlic
3 large dried ancho chilies, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, torn into pieces
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 1/2 pounds turkey neck or wings, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
2 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
Cayenne pepper

1. 2 to 3 days before roasting: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
2. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
3. Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat: Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
4. Make chile paste: Preheat oven to 350°F. Separate heads of garlic into individual cloves (do not peel). Pierce each clove once with toothpick. Scatter garlic on baking sheet; roast until tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Peel garlic, cutting hard tip off each clove.
5. Pack enough garlic into 1/2-cup measuring cup to fill (about 40 cloves); reserve any remaining garlic. Blend 1/2 cup garlic in processor to form course puree.
6. Meanwhile, place chilies in small saucepan. Add enough water just to cover. Simmer over medium-low heat until chilies are soft and most of water evaporates, about 15 minutes.
7. Add chili mixture, oil, cumin, and honey to garlic in processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover paste and garlic; chill.)
8. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
9. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
10. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread 1/2 cup garlic-paste over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Rub 2 tablespoons paste all over outside of turkey. Reserve remaining paste for gravy.
11. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add neck and giblets, turkey neck pieces and onion; sauté brown, about 15 minutes.
12. Place contents of skillet around turkey in pan. Add celery, tomato, allspice and any reserved garlic to pan; pour in 2 cups broth.
13. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
14. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
15. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
16. Using tongs, remove turkey parts from pan; discard.
17. Pour mixture in pan into sieve set over large bowl. Press on solids in sieve to release liquid. Spoon fat from pan juices; add enough broth to juices to measure 6 cups.
18. Stir 1/2 cup reserved garlic-chili paste in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until liquefied.
19. Add flour and stir 1 minute (mixture will be very thick).
20. Gradually add 6 cups broth mixture, whisking until smooth.
21. Simmer until reduced to 4 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
22. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper.
23. Serve turkey with gravy.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

I made this dish as a gluten-free alternative to stuffing (and because I haven't had quinoa for a while and love it!). It comes together quite quickly and easily and is substantial enough to serve as a main dish. If you don't want to use canned black beans, I recommend cooking a large batch in a slow cooker and freezing in 1 cup snack bags until you're reading to use. I used thawed previously frozen beans for this recipe and they worked great. The original recipe puts the cheese as optional, but I think the dish really needs the cheese to balance the flavours.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro (from epicurious, originally Bon Appetit)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped white onions
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups water
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in next 4 ingredients.
3. Add water; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes.
4. Add beans and 1/4 cup cilantro; cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes.
5. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro and cheese, if desired.

Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese

I had a dilemma. I had promised not to bake, but the plans for a bakery pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving had fallen through (it was out of season here). Rather than break the baking rule, I went in search of a good pumpkin appetizer and found this recipe. I accidentally doubled the amount of pumpkin puree, but I believe the batch of pumpkin puree we had was less flavourful than the canned stuff, so use your judgement (or taste as you go) about how much pumpkin to put in. This dip is excellent with apple slices and I can't wait to try it on my bagel in the morning.

Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese (from Ezra Pound Cake, originally Better Homes and Gardens)

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 - 1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar until smooth. (You could also use an immersion blender or wooden spoon.)
2. Add the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cranberry Salsa with Cilantro and Chiles

For some reason, I have an aversion to the idea of making cranberry sauce, so when I saw a recipe for cranberry salsa, I thought it would be a perfect alternative. I was a bit anxious about how it would turn out, but it was perfect. Tart cranberries with just a little bit of heat. I thought it was a little too much work to shell all the pumpkin seeds (I had some from when we roasted pumpkins), so I left the shell on and no one seemed to complain. I also didn't have pumpkin oil to toast the seeds and simply used canola.

Cranberry Salsa with Cilantro and Chiles (from epicurious, originally Bon Appetit)

4 teaspoons pumpkin seed oil (or neutral oil)
1/2 cup natural unsalted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds or unshelled)
Sea salt
2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
1 1/3 cups chopped green onions (dark green parts only; about 2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced seeded serrano chiles (I left the seeds in)
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add pepitas; stir until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate; sprinkle with sea salt.
2. Place cranberries in processor. Using on/off turns, process until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.
3. Add onions, cilantro, and chiles.
4. Stir sugar and lime juice in another bowl until sugar dissolves. (DO AHEAD: Cranberry and lime juice mixtures can be made 4 hours ahead.) Cover separately; chill.
5. Add cranberry mixture and pepitas to lime juice mixture; stir to combine.

Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing

I briefly contemplated doing a pumpernickel stuffing this year for Thanksgiving before going back to the cornbread comfort zone. I wanted to give it a southwestern flavour, so what better to pair cornbread with than chorizo? Of course, when I went to the store, all they had was merguez, so that didn't go as planned, but it was still tasty. The liquid amounts on the original recipe seemed entirely too low and some of the reviews stated it was a bit dry, so I doubled the egg and stock and found it stayed plenty moist. I also doubled the amount of sausage in the recipe, because who doesn't want more sausage?

Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing (adapted from epicurious, originally Gourmet)

1 recipe cornbread
1/2 pound Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), casing removed and sausage chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
4 celery ribs, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.
2. Crumble corn bread into 1/2-inch pieces, spreading out in 1 layer in 2 large 4-sided sheet pans. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dry, about 20 minutes. Cool completely and transfer to a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, cook chorizo in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add onions, celery, garlic, oregano, and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
5. Add to vegetables corn bread.
6. Whisk together broth and egg, then pour over stuffing and toss well.
7. Transfer to baking dish and cover tightly with buttered foil. Bake in upper third of oven 1 hour.
8. Remove foil and bake until top is golden, about 15 minutes more.

Poinsettia Cocktail

I usually leave the drink-making to the boy, but I stumbled across this while looking for holiday-themed drinks and decided it would be the perfect way to start the evening off. It's light and refreshing, but appropriately festive.

Poisettia Cocktail (from Chatelaine, originally Nigella Lawson)

750-mL bottle Prosecco or other fizzy dry wine, chilled
1/2 cup (125 mL) Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, chilled
2 cups (500 mL) cranberry juice, chilled

1. Mix the Prosecco or other fizzy wine with the Cointreau (or Grand Marnier or Triple Sec) and cranberry juice in a large pitcher.
2. Pour into wineglasses or champagne flutes.

Tomatoey Rice Pilaf

I love good recipes that use up leftovers. I had extra braising liquid leftover from making the polpettone and it seemed a shame to let the deliciousness go to waste. Luckily, the book also had a suggestion for what to do with it. This was a success and gives you one more reason to make the polpettone!

Tomatoey Rice Pilaf (from All About Braising)

1 cup leftover braising liquid from polpettone
1 cup chicken stock
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup long-grain white rice

1. Heat the oven to 350F.
2. Measure leftover braising liquid and add enough stock to equal 2 cups. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.
3. Melt butter in an ovenproof, medium deep skillet over medium heat.
4. Add rice, stir, and saute until grains are coated with butter and you hear a faint crackling sound, 2 - 3 minutes.
5. Pour in braising liquid mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly and slide into oven and bake until rice is tender and has absorbed liquid, 30 - 35 minutes.
6. Let rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then stir before serving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stir-Fried Potato Slivers with Chiles and Sichuan Pepper

This recipe cooks surprisingly quickly for potatoes, thanks to the fine slicing. I expected it to have a bit of heat, but you don't notice it until you get a bit of the numbing aftertaste from the peppers and then the warmth of the chiles.

Stir-Fried Potato Slivers with Chiles and Sichuan Pepper (from Land of Plenty)

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
peanut oil
6 dried chiles, preferably Sichuanese
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1 - 2 tsp sesame oil

1. Peel potatoes and cut them into very fine matchstick slivers (you can use a mandoline or coarse grater on a food processor).
2. Soak potatoes for a few minutes in cold, lightly salted water to remove excess starch.
3. Drain potatoes.
4. Season a wok, then add 2 tbsp of peanut oil and swirl over medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry until oil is fragrant and spicy.
5. Add potatoes, turn heat up and stir-fry vigorously for 4 - 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and a pinch of sugar to taste.
6. When potatoes are hot and cooked but still al dente, remove from heat, stir in sesame oil, and serve.

Wafu Salad Dressing

A friend introduced me to Wafu salad dressing a while ago and I loved the taste, but somehow I never got around to buying any of it. I was delighted to find a recipe for it online. The dressing's a little on the runny side, but it's still quite tasty.

Wafu Salad Dressing (from Food Network)

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup milk

1. Place all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend until well incorporated.
2. This can be thinned out to a desired constancy with a little extra milk. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Honey Sesame Pork Tenderloin

Dish #2 of cheap pork tenderloin was a success. With a little planning ahead (i.e. marinating the night before), this is a great weeknight meal. If you do much Asian cooking, you'll likely have all of these ingredients on hand. The crust on this is excellent salty from the soy sauce, sweet from the honey, and a little bit of a crunch from the sesame. The original recipe calls for cooking until a meat thermometer registers 160. I went with the newer guidelines and cooked until 145F and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. The pork was perfectly moist and delicious, but obviously still pink.

Honey Sesame Pork Tenderloin (from Stop and Smell the Rosemary)

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
450 - 680g pork tenderloin
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1. Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil in a large plastic bag. Add tenderloin and marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 375F.
3. Combine honey and brown sugar in a shallow bowl.
4. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.
5. Roll tenderloin in honey mixture then roll in sesame seeds.
6. Roast in a shallow pan 20 - 30 minutes, or until meat registers 145 - 160F depending on desired level of doneness.
7. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon

I'm currently intrigued by Melissa Clark's new cookbook Cook This Now after reading some good reviews online and listening to my office mate rave about the cauliflower dish from the book that was posted on Smitten Kitchen. While trying to be responsible, I decided I should check out some of the other recipes before deciding to make a purchase decision. After trying this recipe, I think I'm pretty much sold on the book. (Is it too late to add it to my Christmas list?) The use of grated squash in this recipe is brilliant. It cooks and melds with the rice. I'm not a huge fan of leeks (mainly due to texture), but found that I appreciated them in this recipe as only the flavour and not the annoying texture was there. The lemon brings a bit of spring to a satisfying wintry dish. I was shocked by how little Parmesan this recipe calls for (only as a garnish), but found I didn't miss it at all. I made this for myself on a night when the boy was out, figuring he wouldn't appreciate the mainly vegetarian, vegetable-centric dinner, but he took some for lunch and liked it (until I told him how little Parmesan was in it!).

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon (from Cook This Now, posted recipe on Cannelle et Vanille)

1/2 pound peeled butternut squash
about 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
2 rosemary branches
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used vermouth)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped salted pistachios
grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a food processor fitted with a fine grating attachment, shred the squash.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.
3. Melt the butter in large skillet over medium heat.
4. Add the leeks and cook, stirring them occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Stir in the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6. Add the rice, squash, rosermary, and salt. Stir until most of the grains of rice appear semi-translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
7. Pour the wine into the pan and let it cook off for about 2 minutes.
8. Add a ladleful of stock (about 1/2 cup) and cook, stirring it constantly and making sure to scrape around the sides, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring almost constantly, until the risotto has turned creamy and thick, and the grains of rice are tender with a bit of bite, about 25 to 30 minutes.
9. Pluck out the rosemary branch and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.
10. Garnish with the pistachios and optional cheese before serving.

Polpettone Braised in Tomato Sauce

I stumbled across this recipe while searching for recipes that would use up the leftover ricotta. These are giant meatballs, more similar to a meat loaf than meatballs and traditionally served on their own as a main course. I planned on cooking these on a Monday and needed a quick grocery store run first. I searched high and low at the grocery store for ground veal completely perplexed as to why it was suddenly missing. Eventually, I found the sign that ground veal had been on sale over the weekend and was of course sold out (this city seems to love veal). I ended up using ground beef and it was delicious, but I can see how ground veal would be even better. Please note this isn't a quick weeknight meal, but it's worth the time. The original below makes 12 very large meatballs. She says this serves 6, but we found that with side dishes, one was plenty (although my meatballs were probably a tiny bit larger than they should've been).

The leftover braising liquid is recommended in rice pilaf or as a base for soup.

Polpettone Braised in Tomato Sauce (from All About Braising)

Braising sauce
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion (about 8 ounces), finely chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups tomato juice (I used strained tomatoes)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
680g ground veal

1. Heat butter in a large deep skillet (with a lid) over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and barely translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add bay leaf, tomato juice, and stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring once or twice, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
3. Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs and buttermilk in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper.
5. Add soaked bread crumbs to cheese and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
6. Break off hunks of veal and drop into bowl. Gently knead until evenly mixed without overworking the meat.
7. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop out a heaping portion of the veal mixture and shape into a round ball. Arrange on a large platter.
8. When sauce is ready, reduce heat to medium-low and lower meatballs into the skillet. Spoon sauce onto top of meatballs and cover pan.
9. After 20 minutes, carefully turn the meatballs with a large spoon. Spoon sauce over top, cover, and continue to simmer until meatballs are firm and cooked through, 35 - 45 minutes.
10. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a bit of sauce on top.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pork Tenderloin in Paprika Cream

The grocery store had a very nice sale on pork tenderloin, so I came home with 3 very nice pork tenderloins. As luck would have it, I also had some leftover sour cream on hand and extra bell peppers from the CSA box (not to mention plenty of tomatoes!). I'm becoming quite a fan of paprika dishes and the pork was excellent with this. Serve over egg noodles to soak up the extra sauce. This recipe may not be very fast, but once it gets started, it doesn't need much babysitting.

Pork Tenderloin in Paprika Cream (from Gourmet Today)

680g pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2" thick slices
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped (I used green bell peppers, not ideal, but it worked)
2 tsp sweet paprika (I used 1 tsp hot and 1 tsp sweet)
450g plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp lard in a 12" heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Brown pork, turning once, in batches if necessary. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add remaining 3 tbsp lard to skillet and reduce heat to moderate. Add onion, garlic, and peppers and cook, stirring frequently until onion and peppers are beginning to brown, 7 - 8 minutes.
3. Stir in paprika, tomatoes, and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently until tomatoes have broken down and mixture is very thick, 15 minutes.
4. In a bowl, stir together water, sour cream, and flour until smooth.
5. Stir sour cream into tomato mixture, bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes.
6. Add pork with juices and simmer until meat is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Roasted Mushroom and Cheddar Stuffed Burgers

Warning: this method creates incredibly juicy burgers. You'll probably want to use a fairly substantial bun for them! If you don't want to do the filling here, just skip the initial step and create the undivided patties. I scaled the recipe down, but have included the original below which cooks enough for 6.

Roasted Mushroom and Cheddar Stuffed Burgers (from All About Roasting)

2 tbsp unsalted butter
225g button mushrooms, finely chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used cilantro instead)
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (35g)
burger mix
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
900g ground beef
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread a thin layer of salt over foil to absorb drippings and prevent smoking. Arrange a wire rack so that it sits at least 3/4" above the surface of the pan.
2. Melt butter in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, season, and increase heat to medium high. Saute until mushrooms release liquid and start to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley. Remove from heat and cool. When cooled, stir in cheese.
3. Break beef into 1 - 2" lumps with your hands and drop in a mixing bowl. Season with salt, Worcestershire, and pepper. Mix gently. Try to avoid overhandling.
4. Divide hamburger meat into 12 even portions. Shape into a thin 4" patty.
5. Divide filling among 6 of the flat patties. Top each patty with another flat patty and pinch edges and round the burger to make 6 burgers.
6. Roast burgers on the wire rack for 10 - 16 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness.

Garlic-Chile Mayonnaise

I grew up with a strong dread of mayonnaise and when I first moved to Montreal, I was horrified to find that fries were often served with mayonnaise with no ketchup to be seem unless you specifically asked for it. Two years later, I realized I had adapted to Montreal when I found myself sitting in a bistro in Vermont requested mayo for my fries. The addition of garlic and chiles to mayo makes it just that much better.

Garlic-Chile Mayonnaise (from All About Roasting)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers, we included a minced pepper or two as well!)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a small bowl, stir together mayo, adobo sauce, garlic, and lime juice.
2. Season to taste.

Oven Fries

Somehow I managed to turn a meal of burger and fries (with some healthy Brussels sprouts at least!) into an evening long production. It might've had something to do with deciding to make the buns, two sides, some special mayo, and a more complex than usual burger. I turned over the cooking on the fries to the boy and he may've cheated on the method just a bit by microwaving the potato instead of parboiling them. They were still crispy outside and fluffy inside though, so I think he can be forgiven. Don't line the baking sheet with parchment paper as that will keep the fries from getting as crispy!

Oven Fries (from All About Roasting)

2 large russet potatoes, about 1 3/4 lbs, scrubbed
kosher salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Fill a large pot with cold water.
2. Peel the potatoes and cut them lengthwise into 1/2" thick by 1/2" wide sticks. Drop into pot of water.
3. Drain and rinse the potatoes to remove the excess starch and return them to the pot with enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1 tsp salt to the water. Partially cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until they show signs of tenderness, not more than 3 minutes.
4. Drain potatoes and spread on clean dish towels to dry.
5. Slide a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet into the oven to heat it.
6. Transfer potatoes to a platter, add oil, and toss.
7. Remove heated baking sheet from oven and transfer potatoes to sheet, leaving 1/2" between them. Return to oven and roast, turning fries with tongs and rotating once after 15 minutes and then after another 10 minutes until fries are crisp, about 30 minutes.

Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts

The boy was more than a bit unhappy that the CSA box sent us Brussels sprouts this week. I was ecstatic to get to try a recipe that had caught my eye. Maybe I shouldn't get this excited about vegetables, but the recipe didn't disappoint. Chopping and braising the sprouts helps cut the strong taste. You could add a bit of crumbled bacon to take this recipe even further, but honestly, it doesn't need it. The confirmed Brussels sprouts hater declared these were acceptable and I will take that as quite the accomplishment!

Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts (from All About Braising)

450g Brussels sprouts
3 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and ground white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 lemon

1. Trim the very base off of each sprout and peel off any ragged outer leaves. Depending on the size of your sprouts, cut into 6 pieces, quarters, or in half (mine were extremely small). Wedges should be no more than 1/2" across.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Pour in cream, stir, cover, and reduce to a slow simmer. Braise over low heat until sprouts are tender, about 30 - 35 minutes. The cream will reduce some.
4. Remove cover, stir in lemon juice to taste and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until cream is thickened into a nice glaze.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cilantro Jalapeno Dressing

We received some beautiful red oakleaf lettuce this week in our CSA box and I was more than a little worried that it wouldn't survive the fridge for very long. So rather than risk it, there was a menu change of plans to have a dinner salad. I was making a Mexican meal, so I pulled out a cookbook from the Junior League of Houston, hoping that they would have something that would work. Thankfully, the book came to my rescue. I love this dressing, it's creamy with just a hint of heat. The original calls for parsley, but we opted for all cilantro. I only wish the CSA had given us more salad greens this week! The recipe below makes a cup of dressing.

Two years ago: Cranapple Crunch

Cilantro Jalapeno Dressing (adapted from Stop and Smell the Rosemary)

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 green onions, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1/2 - 2 fresh jalapenos with seeds (depending on your heat tolerance)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika (I used hot Hungarian)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

1. In a food processor, process mayonnaise, buttermilk, cilantro, vinegar, green onions, garlic, jalapeno, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and pepper. (If you're unsure how spicy you want it, start with 1/2 a jalapeno and work your way up.)
2. Toss with salad greens (and maybe some julienned red bell peppers). You can store extra in the fridge.

Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

I decided to try something new and stay on top of our squash problem this week. I needed something that would go well with a Mexican themed-meal and was quite happy to find this. I used a whole red chile from the CSA box and the colour was beautiful. I also mistimed this dish and ended up leaving the squash soaking in the lime vinaigrette for a good 30 minutes which was definitely a good thing! I also didn't notice until later that the recipe was for 2 acorn squash, not one and used the full vinaigrette amount. I would keep it that way, but then again, I prefer to cover up the squash flavour!

One year ago: Split Pea Soup with Smoked Sausage and Greens
Two years ago: Maple Cream Pie

Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally Gourmet)

1 (1 1/2 – to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds (I used a whole chile, closer to 1 tbsp)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges.
2. Toss squash with black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans.
3. Roast squash, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
4. While squash roasts, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined.
5. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce

I was looking for some creative things to do with pumpkin when I came across this recipe. The pumpkin flavour isn't strong, but the sauce is excellent. This recipe makes a lot of sauce. Instead of grilling some whole pieces of chicken, I used cut up chicken for inside of tacos. With the leftover sauce, I see some ground turkey enchiladas in my future ... or maybe pork. Decisions, decisions.

One year ago: Couscous with Herbs and Lemon
Two years ago: Macaroni and Cheese (still a definite favourite!)

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce (from, originally Rick Bayless in Bon Appetit)

2 dried ancho chiles,* stemmed, seeded, torn into large pieces
4 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3-inch-diameter slice white onion (1/2 inch thick), separated into rings
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 5x3x1/2-inch-thick slice country white bread, crust trimmed
3/4 cup drained canned diced tomatoes (I used fresh)
3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 canned chipotle chiles
1 cup canned pure pumpkin (I used my homemade puree)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
8 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chile pieces; toast until aromatic and lighter in color around edges, pressing with potato masher or back of fork and turning pieces, about 2 minutes.
2. Transfer chile pieces to medium bowl. Cover chiles in bowl with hot water; soak until soft, about 30 minutes.
3. In same large pot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and garlic. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor, leaving oil in pot.
4. Add bread slice to pot; cook until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer bread to processor (reserve pot).
5. Add tomatoes to processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Transfer tomato puree to small bowl (do not clean processor).
6. Drain ancho chiles and place in processor. Add 1/2 cup broth and 2 chipotle chiles. Puree until smooth.
7. Add 1 tablespoon oil to reserved pot. Heat over medium-high heat. Add ancho chile puree; cook until puree thickens and darkens, stirring often, about 1 1/2 minutes.
8. Add tomato puree. Simmer until thick, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
9. Whisk in pumpkin and 3 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until mole thickens and reduces to 3 1/3 cups, about 30 minutes.
10. Whisk in cream and sugar. Season to taste with salt.
11. Puree 2 tablespoons oil and 2 chipotle chiles in small processor. Transfer to bowl.
12. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Spread chipotle glaze thinly over both sides of chicken breasts. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
13. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon mole over each. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples

Thanks to the CSA box, we have a constant oversupply of squash and apples. I figured I'd get two birds with one stone with this recipe (finally finishing off the apples only to have more arrive the next day!). I'm not a huge fan of overly sweet squash recipes, but the flavours of this dish worked for me, even more so the next day. Best of all, no need to peel the apples for this recipe. I little time saved is a good thing!

One year ago: Lamb Stew with Spinach and Garbanzo Beans
Two years ago: Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples (from All About Roasting)

1 butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4" chunks
2 tart, crisp apples (about 1 lb), quartered and cut into 1" chunks
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp minced fresh marjoram/rosemary/thyme/sage
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (you'll want to spread out the food so it doesn't become mush!).
2. Combine squash and apples in a large bowl and drizzle with butter, olive oil, and maple syrup. Season with herb and salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
3. Arrange mixture on baking sheets in a single layer.
4. Roast, turning with a metal spatula once or twice until squash is caramelized and tender, about 40 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Maple-Brined Boneless Pork Loin Roast with Apples, Onions, and Mustard Bread Crumbs

I think pork gets a bad rap. I associate it with over-dried chunks of meat that are anything but appetizing. This dish, however, was moist, flavourful, and excellent. It came out perfectly cooked with just a hint of maple-appley goodness. It surpassed my expectations and I had to restrain myself to keep from eating too much. I followed the recipe almost exactly, only substituting some thyme for rosemary because I ran out of rosemary. Next year, I will remember to buy large amounts of apple cider when I go apple picking for this recipe! I wasn't too sure about the apple-onion mixture, but it tasted even better the next day. As a warning, the brine requires some advance planning and this is not a quick recipe, but the results are worth it. If you don't have fresh bread to make bread crumbs, I would probably skip the crumbs.

One year ago: Curried Peanut and Tomato Soup
Two years ago: Cornbread Dressing

Maple-Brined Boneless Pork Loin Roast with Apples, Onions, and Mustard Bread Crumbs (from All About Roasting)

5 cups cool water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, smashed (skin can stay on)
2 bay leaves
900g - 1.1kg boneless pork loin, preferably a blade-end roast, tied at 2" intervals
450g tart, crisp apples (3 - 4), peeled, cored, and cut into 1" chunks (~3 cups)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (~2 cups)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh apple cider (mine was hard cider), divided
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1. At least 18 hours before roasting, combine water with salt and syrup and stir to dissolve the salt. Add rosemary, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves.
2. Put pork roast in a sturdy gallon-size bag, pour in brine, and seal. Refrigerate for at least 18 hours and up to 24 hours.
3. One hour before roasting, remove pork from brine and let site at room temperature.
4. Heat oven to 325F.
5. Put apples, onion, and rosemary in a bow. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
6. Spread apple-onion mixture in bottom of a shallow-sided roasting pan that will hold pork roast with 2 - 3" to spare around the sides. Set aside.
7. Heat 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup and mustard. Set aside.
8. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil and pat pork dry. Brown pork until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set pork fat side up on apples and onions.
9. Return skillet to high heat. Add remaining 1 cup cider and bring to a boil, scraping the pan. Boil until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Pour over apples and onions, avoiding pouring on pork.
10. Brush half of the cider glaze over the top side of the pork.
11. Roast pork for 45 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze. Return to oven and roast until thermometer in center registers 140F, about 1 - 1 1/4 hours total.
12. In a medium bowl, stir together bread crumbs, melted butter, mustard, and rosemary. Season to taste.
13. Transfer pork to a carving board and let rest for 10 - 15 minutes.
14. Stir apple-onion mixture and keep warm.
15. Increase oven to 375F. Spread bread crumbs on a small baking sheet and toast in oven, stirring often, until golden brown and crispy, 10 - 12 minutes.
16. Remove strings from roast and carve into slices. Serve with apple-onion mixture on the side and top pork with bread crumbs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

For a dessert party, I decided to make mostly my greatest hits instead of trying something new for a change (although using very good chocolate in some recipes I knew well was a bit of a learning process. I need more chocolate practice!). I did decide to try one new recipe ... pumpkin of course to honour the season and use up some of the ridiculous pumpkin puree collection sitting in the freezer. I wasn't too sure about these when I pulled them out of the oven. They didn't look quite right to me (some of them seemed to have exploded a bit ... maybe because I forgot to rap the pan to release the air bubbles?), but they were delicious. The maple cream cheese frosting is excellent, but a little bit runny and maybe a little light on maple flavour for me. I may keep searching for another maple cream cheese frosting recipe, but I think the cupcake portion is a definite keeper. I scaled the recipe in half and had 24 perfect mini muffins. I also found the amount of frosting to be just about right, but I heavily frosted them.

One year ago: Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Frosting
Two years ago: Broccoli Casserole

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (from Smitten Kitchen, originally David Leite)

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
4. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
5. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.
6. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
7. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.
8. Make the frosting: In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy.
9. After frosting, refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.

Fettuccine with Tahina, Pine Nuts, and Cilantro

Another quick and easy recipe that tasted surprisingly good. We both thought it was missing a little something ... maybe lemon? Or next time we'll try it with ground lamb and some Middle Eastern spices? The full recipe below serves 4.

One year ago: Poutine Calzones
Two years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits

Fettuccine with Tahina, Pine Nuts, and Cilantro (from Radically Simple)

6 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp tahina
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
12 ounces fresh fettuccine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 tbsp torn cilantro leaves

1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a small skillet.
3. In a large bowl, stir together tahina and oil. Add garlic.
4. Add pasta to bowl and toss well.
5. Add cheese and 1/2 cup pasta water and toss until creamy.
6. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and cilantro.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This is hands down my favourite breakfast that I've made in quite a while. The idea is so simple, but the results are so incredibly delicious. You could play with it and add some lettuce, tomatoes, or avocados. I'm sure it would be good, but why mess with perfect simplicity?

I did make one change to this recipe. Instead of browning the bagel in butter, I used some of the bacon fat from cooking the bacon. Why waste bacon fat?

One year ago: Fettucine Alfredo
Two years ago: Pecan Pie

Bagel-Egg (from Sexy: Cuisiner Pour Deux ... note this book is in French)

1 sesame seed bagel (Montreal bagels preferred of course!)
2 tsp bacon fat, reserved from cooking bacon (or butter)
2 eggs
6 slices of bacon, cooked
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or gruyere) (I found 1 cup to be a bit much)
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Slice bagel in half. In an oven-safe frying pan, heat bacon grease on the stove or melt butter. Place bagel cut side down in pan and let brown for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Break an egg in each bagel hole being careful not to break the yolk (I found it easier to break into a small bowl and pour in).
4. Cover each egg with 3 slices of bacon and top with the cheese.
5. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 5 minutes until cheese is melted and egg white is set (yolk will still be liquidy and delicious).
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fennel Frond Pesto

Our CSA box gave us a baby fennel bulb this week that was more fennel frond than fennel bulb. While I have plenty of recipes that use the bulb, I was at a loss for what to do with all of those fronds! Luckily, a quick review of chowhound for suggestions mentioned pesto. The flavour was surprisingly light. It may not be my favourite pesto ever, but it's a great way to use up fennel fronds.

One year ago: Pomegranate and Fennel Salsa Quinoa (I guess it's fennel season!)
Two years ago: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Fennel Frond Pesto (from Melissa Clark)

1 small fennel bulb with lots of bushy fronds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts or sliced or slivered almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Chop off fennel fronds and coarsely chop enough to measure 1 cup .
2. Put the chopped fronds in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, nuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous pinch of pepper to the food processor and process until finely chopped.
3. Add 4 tablespoons of the oil and cheese continue to process until the mixture looks like pesto. Season with more salt to taste.

Rum Chocolate Cake

I almost forgot to post this dessert, which may be a sign that I've been in dessert overload lately. I was expecting something as rich and chocolately as the nemesis, but this is a bit more cake-like. The original calls for inverting it at the end and serving it with whipped cream, but I passed on that.

One year ago: Sweet and Sour Pork (still a favourite!)
Two years ago: Peanut Flavoured Potatoes

Rum Chocolate Cake (from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts)

4 1/2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp dry instant coffee
2 tbsp boiling water
6 ounces butter (3/4 cup), at room temperature
1/4 cup dark rum
6 eggs, separated
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the sides of an 8" round cake pan (3" deep) or a 2 1/2 quart souffle dish. Place wax paper in the bottom and butter.
2. Sift the flour and sugar together and set aside.
3. Place chocolate in top of large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat (I did this in a frying pan on low).
4. Dissolve coffee in boiling water and pour over chocolate. Cover pot and leave until chocolate is melted (if using a pan, stir over low until melted, being careful not to burn!).
5. Stir chocolate with a wire whisk until smooth. Gradually add butter about 1/2" slice at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.
6. Whisk in dry ingredients and then the rum. Remove from heat.
7. Place egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and stir lightly with the whisk.
8. Gradually add warm chocolate mixture, stirring well to mix.
9. Add salt to egg whites and beat until they are stiff, but not dry.
10. In two or three additions, fold the whites into the chocolate.
11. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth top.
12. Place prepared pan in a larger but not deeper pan and pour in hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
13. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove smaller pan from hot water and place on rack to cool.
14. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roasted Beets with Cumin-Mint Vinaigrette

I told myself that I wasn't going to buy any more cookbooks until the New Year. I gave my mother a list of the cookbooks I've been coveting as gift ideas and then attempted to forget about all the books I've seen and wanted. Then, I needed just $7 for free shipping on Amazon so I could continue reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. Amazon was also only too happy to inform me that a new book was out that I might be interested in. And was I interested? Oh, yes. I jumped on the book sight unseen as I've greatly enjoyed another book by the same author. It's somewhat ironic that my first recipe from this book isn't meat based, but it was delicious!

I didn't have a full pound of beets for the recipe, so I substituted in with 1/2 beets and 1/2 celeriac. I'm not sure I would mix the two again, but I think both of the vegetables worked amazingly well with the vinaigrette. I also wasn't sure how much I would like the combination of cumin and mint, but I have to admit, it's excellent. One recipe down ... quite a few more to go!

One year ago: Mashed Brussels Sprouts
Two years ago: Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

Roasted Beets with Cumin-Mint Vinaigrette (from All About Roasting)

450g beets, scrubbed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel beets and cut into 3/4" cubes. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on baking sheet.
3. Roast in oven until tender, about 40 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine lemon juice and cumin. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil and stir in mint.
5. Pour vinaigrette over cooked beets and serve.

Sichuanese Roast Duck

I bought a whole duck a few weeks ago on a whim. I love duck. Why had I never cooked it? I decided on a recipe from my Chinese cookbook and wasn't disappointed. I think I need to try roasting more poultry in my future!

One year ago: Orzo with Everything
Two years ago: Tortellini with Walnut and Mascarpone Sauce

Sichuanese Roast Duck (from Land of Plenty)

1 duck (4 - 5 lbs), with giblets
sesame oil
2" piece of ginger, unpeeled
2 scallions, white and green parts
1 tbsp fermented black beans
3 tbsp Tianjuin preserved vegetable (I omitted)
3 tbsp Sichuanese chili bean paste
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp black Chinese vinegar
2 tbsp water
Aromatic Gravy
1 1/2" piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 scallion, white and green parts
1/2 - 3/4 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 cao guo (I omitted)
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cloves, powdery heads pinched off and discarded
1 slice of dried ginger (I omitted)

1. Remove giblets from duck and set aside.
2. Make stuffing: crush ginger and scallions. Mash black beans. Add all of the other ingredients for stuffing. Push into duck's inner cavity, fold over flap of skin at neck and fix it with skewers. Close other end with another skewer. Let duck marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.
3. Make gravy: crush ginger and scallion. Place giblets in a saucepan with a quart of water. Bring to a boil. Add ginger, scallion, soy sauce, and spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Set aside.
4. When duck has marinated, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the duck in a sieve and pour over all the boiling water. Repeat. Dry duck's skin with paper towels.
5. Heat glaze ingredients in a pan until honey is liquefied. Use a pastry brush to paint the duck. Hang duck in a cool place to air dry (I put on the roasting rack because I lacked a hook). When the first coat of glaze has dried, you can add more layers. Allow duck to dry for at least 6 hours, until kin feels papery.
6. Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a roasting pan with 1/2" of water. Place duck breast side down on a roasting rack and set in pan. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes, then flip and roast for another 30 minutes. Turn up heat to 400 and roast for another 15 minutes or until skin is brown and crisp. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes.
7. Add pan juices to gravy. Unpin duck and add remains of stuffing and juices to the gravy pan. Reheat the gravy, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve duck with gravy.

Pork and Tomatillo Stew

I wasn't certain whether to post this recipe or not. I loved this sauce and the meat, but found myself wishing it wasn't a stew. I could've done without the black beans and I think I would've been much happier to just shred the pork and stick it in some tacos. Maybe even some flautas? With all of that said, the flavour was too good not to share. How you serve it is up to you!

One year ago: Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Two years ago: Creamy Carrot Soup

Pork and Tomatillo Stew (from Gourmet Today)

900g boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" cubes
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 large cloves garlic
1 bottle lager beer (I used fin du monde instead)
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
450g tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
1 28oz can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, and chopped (I used fresh)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked dried beans)
2 tbsp lime juice (optional)
1 8 ounce container sour cream (optional)
white rice (optional)

1. Pat pork dry and season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
2. Heat oil in a 6 or 8 quart heavy pot over moderately high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden, about 2 minutes.
3. Add pork in batches and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.
4. In a 5 or 6 quart pot, combine beer, orange juice, tomatillos, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until soft, 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. When pork is browned, pour off all but 1 tbsp oil from large pot. Add onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.
6. Add tomatillo mixture, pork, cilantro, jalapenos, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper to onion and cook, scraping brown bits until well combined.
7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
8. Season stew. Add black beans and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
9. Stir lime juice into sour cream. Serve stew with rice and sour cream on the side.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crisped Chicken with Chimichurri and Avocado

This is a quick and easy weeknight dish. It's not quite as amazing as I thought it would be, but the ease that this dish comes together pushes it into solid winner territory.

One year ago: Spiced Pearsauce Cake
Two years ago: Potato Soup

Crisped Chicken with Chimichurri and Avocado (from Radically Simple)

1 cup finely minced cilantro
3 large garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
7 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp water
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups panko or breadcrumbs
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, quartered, and sliced lengthwise

1. Stir together cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cider vinegar, oregano, and pepper flakes in a medium bowl.
2. Add 5 tbsp of oil, water, and salt to taste.
3. Put chicken in a shallow dish with 2/3 cup of chimichurri sauce, turning to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.
4. Heat butter and remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet.
5. Dredge chicken in panko to coat on both sides.
6. Cook chicken 3 minutes on each side until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through.
7. Top with avocado and remaining chimichurri.

Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Pork with Noodles

First off, let me apologize for giving you an out-of-season recipe. Rhubarb isn't exactly easy to come by right now! However, when I saw this dish mentioned on Chowhound's What's for Dinner Thread, I couldn't resist the sound of the flavour combinations, so I bookmarked it waiting for a day when the CSA box would give us a lot of cresses. Luckily for me, I didn't have to wait very long before 2 large bunches of watercresses were delivered! (Also lucky for me, I stocked up on rhubarb when it was in season and froze some. Although, I might be tempted to try this recipe with cranberries if I were out of rhubarb.) This recipe exceeded my expectations. The sauce is amazing and the pork belly was melt in your mouth tender. I only had 200 - 300 g of pork belly and scaled the marinade in half. I found that that was plenty meat for 2 dinners and a lunch the next day. I grabbed noodles and greens to taste and used Thai rice noodles in place of Chinese egg noodles because that's what I had on hand.

One year ago: Brisket
Two years ago: Bread Pudding

Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Pork with Noodles (from Jamie Oliver)

1kg pork belly, boned, rind removed, cut into 3–4cm cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
groundnut or vegetable oil
375g medium egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 punnets of interesting cresses (such as coriander, shiso or basil cress)
a bunch of fresh coriander
2 limes
400g rhubarb
4 tablespoons runny honey
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, halved and deseeded
1 heaped teaspoon five-spice
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
2. Place the pork pieces in a roasting tray and set aside.
3. Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste, then pour all this over the pork, adding a large wineglass of water. Mix it all up, then tightly cover the tray with tinfoil and place in the preheated oven for about an hour and 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender, but not coloured.
4. Pick the pieces of sauce out of the pan and put to one side. The sauce left in the pan will be deliciously tasty and pretty much perfect. However, if you feel it needs to be thickened slightly, simmer on a gentle heat for a bit until reduced to the consistency of ketchup. Season nicely to taste, add a little extra soy sauce if need be, then remove from the heat and set aside.
5. In a large pan or wok heat oil. Add your pieces of pork to the wok and fry for a few minutes until crisp and golden. (You might need to do this in two batches.)
6. Divide noodles into 4 dishes. Add rhubarb sauce, then pork, then spring onions, chili, cresses, and coriander.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce

I've been curious about this recipe and am glad to finally have had a chance to try it. It comes together incredibly fast and is perfect for a weekday dinner. The slight heat of the chiles along with the nuttiness of the cashews made for an interesting sauce. It's not my favourite recipe from this cookbook, but it's something different and for the level of effort involved, completely worth it. I used pre-cut sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil so was able to skip a step or reconstituting the tomatoes. I also substituted collard greens for spinach because that's what our CSA gave us this week! The mixture of pasta with tomatoes and greens makes this a visually pleasing dish.

One year ago: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Two years ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto (I need to make this again soon!)

Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce (from 660 Curries)

2 cups penne pasta
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (julienned, packed in oil)
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
3 - 5 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups firmly packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cashew and chiles and stir fry until nuts are reddish brown and chiles have blackened, 1 - 2 minutes.
3. Transfer nuts and chiles to a blender jar. Pour in 1/2 cup half-and-half, add salt, and puree to make a smooth paste.
4. Reheat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and add garlic. Stir-fry until light brown, about 1 minute.
5. Add handfuls of spinach and stir-fry until wilted, repeating until all spinach has been added.
6. Add cashew-chile paste to skillet. Pour remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half in the blender and swirl to wash out. Add to skillet.
7. Stir in cooked pasta, dill, and tomato strips to skillet. Simmer until warmed through, 3 - 5 minutes.

Chipped Beets and Beet Greens

Another week and more beets! These were yellow beets with some beautiful greens attached, so this recipe seemed only too appropriate. I took some suggestions from chowhound and doubled the garlic, orange juice, and vinegar (while omitting the extra water). The final result was quite flavourful and paired nicely with some slightly sweet Asian flavoured chicken.

One year ago: Cappucinno Fudge Cheesecake (why am I contemplating making this again?)
Two years ago: Chocolate Layer Cake

Chipped Beets and Beet Greens (adapted from Radically Simple)

1 large bunch beets (leafy greens plus 1 pound medium beets)
4 large garlic cloves
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 ounces feta

1. Wash beets and greens. Cut stems and leaves into 1/2" pieces. Peel beets and cut into quarters.
2. Pulse beets and garlic in a food processor until coarsely ground.
3. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add chipped beets and cook 5 minutes over medium heat.
4. Add stems and greens and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Add orange juice and vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes, then cover and cook an additional 5 minutes or until greens are tender.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to platter and crumble feta on top. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp oil

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

After roasting up two pumpkins, we have an abundance of pumpkin puree. While searching Eat Your Books for pumpkiny recipes, I discovered that the boy's chocolate book recipe (that he's sadly never cooked from!) had something that used pumpkin puree. Intrigued and with all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to give this a try. It doesn't have much of a pumpkin flavour; rather, the pumpkin is used to lend a ridiculous level of moistness to the cake. It's a perfect cake for the holiday season. The original recipe fills a Bundt pan, but I scaled in half and used a loaf pan. The original also calls for 6 ounces of walnuts, but I omitted as I don't really like nuts floating around in my chocolate!

One year ago: Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart
Two years ago: Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) walnuts, broken into medium pieces (I omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan (3 quarts).
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter.
4. Add vanilla and sugar to butter and beat well.
5. Add eggs to butter one at a time, scraping and beating after each addition.
6. On low speed, add half of sifted dry ingredients, then pumpkin, and remaining dry ingredients.
7. Stir in nuts.
8. Pour batter into pan.
9. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until cake tester comes out dry and clean.
10. Let stand for 15 minutes. Invert on rack and cool out of pan for several hours or overnight.