Monday, December 28, 2009

Extra Chewy Ginger Cookies

These are super chewy and have a nice ginger bite to them. I would even recommend using them for ice cream sandwiches or even just spreading a nice butter cream in between to cookies for an extra decadent treat.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh finely grated ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 soften butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup fancy molasses
1 egg
1 cup white sugar, for rolling

In a bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a seperate bowl either using a kitchenaid or a hand mixer beat butter & brown sugar together until light and fluffy, then mix in ginger, molasses and the egg. Gently fold in dry ingredients, careful not to over mix. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour but up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in white sugar, place 2 inches a part on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until edges just start to brown. Don't overbake or you'll get crunchy cookies instead of chewy. Let cool for 1 minute on sheet before moving to a cooling rack. In between batches keep your dough in the fridge so it stays firms. This makes about 24 cookies.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shiitake Mushroom, Acorn Squash and Leek Risotto

I stole most this recipe from Saveur although they called for clams and since I don't do seafood I substituted shiitake mushrooms. I thought they would have the same chewy consistency of clams but a much more appealing flavour to me. Also use whatever kind of squash you have, I didn't have a butternut but I had acorn and a couple other unidentifiable types that I bought for my Halloween centre piece. Use whatever it doesn't make that much difference, some squashes are sweeter, some are more bitter, either way you can balance out the flavour with the stock. the wine or the cheese.

Click here to see the original recipe

1/2 lb. acorn squash, peeled, seeds and strings removed,
and squash cut into dice no larger than 1/2"
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, drained & finely chopped
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed, halved lengthwise,
then cut crosswise into very thin slices
2 tbsp. scallions, white part only, cut into very thin rounds

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup chicken stock

Fine sea salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram, or 1/2 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 cup Italian risotto rice, such as carnaroli, vialone, nano,
baldo, or arborio
1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

Turn oven on to 350°. Lay the diced squash in a baking dish that can contain it all without overlapping. Salt liberally. Pour in 1/2 cup water and put dish in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. When cool, drain, then set aside.

Pour 6 cups of water into a saucepan and bring it to a steady simmer.

Pour oil into a heavy 4–6-quart saucepan, add leeks and scallions, and turn on heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring from time to time, until leeks and scallions are very pale gold. Add garlic & stir. Add in chopped shiitake mushrooms and stir. Add half the squash together with some salt and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, turning it from time to time. Add marjoram and stir all the ingredients together. Add rice, turning it to coat well.

Add half the wine, steadily stir the rice, and when all the wine has bubbled away, add the remaining half. Continue stirring to keep rice moving away from bottom and sides of pan.

Add the chicken stock to the risotto. Continue to stir until all the liquid has evaporated, then add a ladleful or two of the simmering water. Stir constantly, adding simmering water by the ladleful whenever the rice begins to dry out, threatening to stick to the pan. In about 15 minutes, when the rice is still hard and chalky to the bite, stir in the remaining squash. Continue to cook, stirring steadily and replenishing the water when necessary, until rice has lost its chalky consistency and is tender, but still firm, to the bite. Do not let rice dry out completely when you are near the end, keeping its final consistency loose and flowing.

Add grated pecorino. Remove pan from heat and stir vigorously. Taste and correct for seasoning. Serve at once.

This makes a hefty serving for about 4 people, although I make this for just Ian and I and then then next day I'll make risotto balls. Hang tight for that recipe!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cornbread Jalapeno & Cheddar Waffles

We love waffles, we especially love waffles on a rainy Saturday morning. I make also sorts but today felt like a savoury day so I broke out my self raising cornmeal mix that I picked up on our last trip to Missouri because you will have a hard time finding in on the West Coast of Canada. I picked some jalapenos from my garden since they are growing like weeds and I rooted around in the fridge until I found the extra sharp 3 year old aged white cheddar. Mix this together and you have some darn good waffles.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Self Rising White Corn Meal Mix (Aunt Jemima is good)
1 tbsp white sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sharp cheddar grated
1 jalapeno finely diced
1 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs
6 tbsp vegetable oil
5 dashes Tabasco sauce

Mix dry ingredients plus the cheddar and jalapeno together. In a separate bowl combine & whisk wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry ingredient bowl, stir until combine but don't over mix. Preheat waffle iron to medium heat (3 setting on my iron). Keep warm in a 200 degree oven, makes about 10 waffles. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rob Feenie's Mac & Cheese

So I totally can't take any credit for this recipe, it is a totally rip off of Rob Feenie's famous Mac & Cheese. I also must admit that my friend Trish makes it way better than I do, I don't know what I do differently but her version kicks my Mac & Cheese's ass.

You should make it and see for yourself, I'm too lazy to type it all out so here's the recipe on the web. Note that I omit the lobster being that a) I hate seafood, b) I'm not that fancy.

I did however take some pics of my process when I made it. Enjoy.

Multitasking, scalding milk & crisping bacon

Buy this pasta, this brand was called Serpentini, Feenie calls it Succhietto. Basically look for this shape, it is perfect and don't over cook it!

You will know your rue is ready when you smell popcorn, I just learned this tip and it is a life saver.

You can make it in individual ramekins, but again I'm lazy and not that fancy.

It's not done until the top looks like this, you want yummy crunchy golden cheese

You will eat way more than you probably should, it is that good and even better warmed up the next day.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Once you make this hot chocolate you will never want to drink any other hot chocolate again. Trust me. Actually trust my husband as he doesn't even like chocolate but he loves drinking this. Mexican chocolate is special as it's mixed with granular sugar and spices so its sweet, spicy, dark and complex. You can eat it raw but its better in things like a mole or hot chocolate. There are lots of brands that you can get in most gourmet shops but I really like Ibarra and I think its the most popular. What also makes this recipe extra special are the marshmallows, they are homemade and not by me. We have this killer bakery called Butter on Dunbar in Vancouver and if you live here you have to go here, it is heaven and the marshmallows are to die for along with everything else they make. If you don't live here, then I'm so sorry for you cause you are missing out.

Anyway here's the low down

1 cup cereal cream or whole milk

1 cup water

1 disk of Mexican chocolate

4 homemade marshmallows

In a small heavy bottom pot slowly heat 1/2 cup cereal cream. The less bottom surface area the better as you don't want to scorch the milk. Finely chop up the chocolate, the finer the better as it will melt faster. Mix in the chocolate into the warm milk and whisk. Once the chocolate has melted and incorporated into the milk add the remaining 1/2 cup and whisk until frothy, then add in the water. Continue to whisk until thoroughly heated and frothy, you don't want to scald the milk so just get it hot but not boiling.

Pour into 2 mugs about 3/4 full, then top with marshmallowy goodness. Now the key here is to let the marshmallows melt and form a yummy foam on top of the hot chocolate so wait a minute before you drink it. Its worth the wait and beside then you won't burn your tongue.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brioche Pudding

When I was going to UBC I got a gig working at La Baguette & L'Eschalote on Granville Island. It was hellish work but the pay was good, the hours flexible and I learned a lot about food. I would do anything to avoid having to serve customers which meant I ended up spending hours in the kitchen doing prep work which was way more appealing to me than dealing with the tourist ooh and ahh over the pastry case.

I had previously worked in kitchens before at Boston Pizza when I was a teen as the salad prep girl and then as a short order cook at the Spanish Banks concession stand but working at the bakery took my food skills up a notch. The best part was working with Mr Dung who was the head pastry chef, he was old enough to likely be my grandfather but he worked harder than anyone there. He was trained in Vietnam and his English was terrible but somehow we got each other and through lots of nodding and pointing he taught me many things.

One of the best things he taught me was to appreciate Brioche Pudding, until then I thought bread pudding was disgusting and I couldn't fathom why anyone would eat it. I used to have to make the custard, chop up the day old brioche, danishes & croissants, butter & sugar the pans, then soak the bread for a least an hour then bake off pan after pan of of the stuff. I did all of this under Mr Dung's watchful eye and he would smile approval when I got it right. Some days I burnt them, some days I under baked them and ended up with mush which had to be thrown out which I tried to do sneakily out the back door and if Mario the owner asked why there was no brioche pudding today I would lie and tell him we did have enough day olds. I don't miss that job since it was hot grueling work but I do miss learning things from Mr Dung.

Anyway this recipe isn't the exact recipe I used at La Baguette because the quantities I used there were huge but this is a pretty tasty Brioche Pudding.

1/2 pound day old brioche, danishes or croissants cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 to 6 pieces)
4 large eggs
1 cups whipping cream
1 cups milk (whole is best but 2% works, don't use skim)
3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp Grand Marnier, Frangelico or Amaretto
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or fresh blueberries

Cube up the brioche and set aside. Butter & sugar 1 loaf pan, Pyrex works best. Loosely press brioche into pan, the trick is to get it packed just right, not too firm, not too loose so you get the right ratio of bread to custard. Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add remaining liquids and beat until smooth.

Pour custard into the pan and soak the brioche, get a spoon and press the bread into the liquid. Don't over fill the pan as you don't want it to spill over, just fill until the top layer of bread is submersed. Let the brioche soak in the custard for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours in the fridge. Take the pan out and let it get up to room temperature, preheat oven to 350.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, it all depends on how wet the brioche is, sometimes it takes longer. Its done when the edges are slightly golden and you can insert a knife in the centre and it pulls out dry, if there's custard clinging to the knife its not done. Watch it thought at it can over cook quickly and dry out at the end. Remove from the oven and take a knife around the edge when it's still warm to loosen the sides. I recommend chilling the brioche over night before you try to release it from the pan, it will set up better and not loose any moisture.

Serve in 3/4 slices chilled, really good on it's own, better with blueberries & cream or even English custard.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Banana Bread

I love the flavour of bananas but I can only eat them in things, for some reason I hate the feeling of biting into a banana with my front teeth. Bizarre, I know. But cut them up and put them on toast with peanut butter or in a cream pie and I love them! So obviously I'm a big fan of Banana Bread. One trick I learned which will actually make your banana bread sweeter is to obviously let them turn brown and them put them in the freezer to save until you are ready to make Banana Bread.

3 well ripen bananas (use 4 if they are frozen since they lose moisture)

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 chopped nuts (I like pecans but walnuts are good too)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prep a loaf pan or a bundt pan with Pam. Smash bananas and combine with well beaten eggs and vanilla. Add in sugar, salt and baking soda and stir well. Stir in flour 1/2 a cup at a time, then mix in nuts. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Once cool wrap will with cling wrap and it will stay fresh for 2 to 3 days. One great way to use old Banana Bread is to use it to make French Toast.

Crepes with Blueberry Cranberry Compote

Blueberry Cranberry Compote

I try to keep some form of frozen berry in the freeze all the time as they are handy for salads, smoothies, desserts or sauces. This is a really easy compote to make that can go on anything.

2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Toss everything into a small pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until thickened. Put it on the stove before you start making the crepes and they will be ready at the same time


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup flour
2 tbsp melt clarified butter (just skim off the foam as it melts)

Beat eggs well, add in milk and melted butter, beat well. Add in sugar & salt then flour half a cup at a time. Mix well. For ease you can do the whole thing in a blender. Let batter stand covered for 30 minutes. Then ladle into a greased crepe or omelet pan over medium high heat. Swirl to cover the bottom of the pan, if batter is too thick add a little bit more milk. Flip when edges are golden and bubbles have formed, about 90 seconds.

Keep warm in a 250F oven.

Broccoli Crown Salad

This is sort of a broccoli slaw that I first tried in Newfoundland years ago that was very tasty but a little too heavy on the mayo for my taste so I've modified it to keep it creamy but bring down the fat content a smidgen. Also I really like sweet with my salty so I added raisins. Since BBQ season is approaching this is a great summer recipe.

1 large broccoli crown, chopped into small pieces
1/2 large red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup mayo (I like Hellman's light)
1/2 cup yogurt (I use Liberty Organic Bio Yogurt)
1/2 cup shredded extra old or sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 real bacon bits

Chop broccoli up in 1cm pieces, basically you want really small florets and chunks of stalk. Toss in onions, bacon, cheddar. Stir yogurt and mayo together and then add to salad. Mix well and season to taste with pepper. Don't add salt! The bacon and the cheddar have more than enough salt to make it tasty. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Goes great with BBQ pork chops.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mixed Meat Loaf with Mushroom Gravy and Scallopped Celeriac

Mixed Meatloaf

I don't think I've made meatloaf in years but tonight I totally wanted it, plus I really liked the idea of meatloaf sandwiches for tomorrow. When I was a kid I hated meatloaf, it was suspicious looking, and always contained unidentifiable items but as my palette grew so did my taste for meatloaf. This recipe is not your mom's typical dry meatloaf with Lipton's Onion soup (sorry Mom) its a bit more complex and definitely won't be dry.

2lbs mixed ground meat (extra lean beef, veal, pork, lamb, moose) use 2 or more kinds. Today I used extra lean gr beef, pork and veal in about equal portions.

2 finely minced shallots
2 finely minced jalapenos
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350, grease loaf pan with a spray of Pam. Prep ingredients and then throw them all into a large mixing bowl. Wash your hands and prepare to get dirty, the only way to really mix everything together is to use your hands. Get in there and work the meat until it's all mixed to a fairly even consistency. If to dry add a bit more wine or another egg, if to moist throw in another 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Press firmly and pack down into loaf pan. Sprinkle with Smoked Spanish Paprika if you like, La Chinata is a very tasty brand. Bake for about a hour in 350 degree oven. The meatloaf will pull away from the sides of the pan and form a nice crust but should also have lots of juices flowing around it.

Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serve with gravy.

Mushroom Gravy

This is a nice quick simple gravy

2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 mince shallot
2 tbsp red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp flour

Saute shallot and mushrooms in butter until soft, sprinkle in flour and cook for 2 minutes to create a rue. Deglaze pan with wine and mix until a nice paste forms. Gradually add in beef broth 1/2 a cup at a time and mix well, this will prevent lumps. Once all the broth has been added simmer on low to reduce into desired thickness, about 5 to 10 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste.

Scalloped Celeriac (Celery Root)

Ian's not big on potatoes so I try to mix it up a little and celeriac is a great alternative.

1 large celery root
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
About 1 1/2 cups milk or cream
salt & pepper
cheese of your choice (Gruyere, Edam, cheddar, Parmesan are all yummy)

Trim off the outside of the celery root and clean it up until no brown is remaining. Cut into quarters and the thinly slice the root. Store the slices and the root in water to keep it from browning while you are preparing everything.

Butter a large Pyrex baking dish, the more surface area the better. Layer slices in the pan so they are overlapping. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, dust with 1 tbsp of flour and then dot with half the butter. Repeat with final layer. Then pour milk over top until top layer is almost covered.
Bake for about a hour in 350 degree oven, until the milk has evaporated and the edges are slightly golden. Top with grated cheese of your choice and return to oven until melted & bubbling.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mighty Fine Chocolate Chip Cookies

This has been my secret Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for years, and the funny part is that its not really that secret. I basically modified the recipe off the back of the Hersey Chipits bag and my mod is so subtle you would hardly notice the difference but my cookies do taste better. For years people have complimented me on the recipe and I chose to keep my mouth shut until now. So shhhhhh don't tell me secret just make the damn cookies.

2/3 cup melted butter (you can use margarine but butter is better)
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (not the fake stuff!)

Mix all of the above together well, I recommend using a Kitchenaid with the paddle, set on 2.

1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (not table salt, its bitter)
2 2/3 cups All Purpose Flour

Stir in the above dry ingredients, again just slowly add everything while the Kitchenaid whirs away on 2.

Once mixed add in one 270 gram bag of Milk Chocolate Chipits or your fave chocolate chip. In the past I've been really decadent and chopped up candy bars. I highly recommend Skor and Dairymilk Fruit & Nut Bars. White chocolate, dried cranberries & pecans is yummy too. I've also added in toffee chips and pecans for a little crunch. Add in whatever cranks your tractor but really nothing beats the simplicity of just good old milk chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375, and chill the dough while you wait for the oven to heat up. Spoon out cookies on to a ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. I like my cookies a little underdone so they stay moist so I bake them for about 9 minutes, just before they start to brown. Keep the dough in the fridge between baking as it keeps the cookies from running into each other as they bake. Only bake 1 sheet at a time, don't over crowd the sheet or your oven.

Cool on a rack and store in an air tight container. Makes about 2 dozen, the package claims it makes 4 to 5 dozen so clearly I'm doing something wrong. I use a tablespoon for portioning so I guess a teaspoon makes 4 dozen more dainty size cookies. I like manly size cookies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Prosciutto

I don't really care for chicken, its the meat I eat because I can't have red meat every night of the week, even though I would if I didn't care about the fact that heart disease runs in the family. Ian prefers pork to chicken so a lot of the time I just avoid chicken altogether. The more I've learned about chicken processing plants the even less thrilled I've been about eating chicken. But I decided I need to embrace chicken and I've started figuring out that there are lots of things you can do to chicken that make it more appealing. Recently I roasted my first chicken which was really fun and probably the best tasting chicken I've had in a long time. I then made my first chicken stock from the carcass and then I made chicken noodle soup. I've made chicken noodle soup a couple times since then and I think I'm perfecting my recipe. I've also been buying organic, non medicated free range chicken and although it is pricey it is by far tastier and I feel better knowing that the birds at least had a brief but content life before being consumed.

Anyway tonight we are having a recipe inspired by my Dad. My guess is he made it up one night when he really wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu but we were avoiding fried foods. My Dad would use bacon and mozzarella cheese but I've tweaked it a bit tonight and I'm using smoked mozzarella and prosciutto. Here's the prep.

2 largish chicken breasts
4 ample slices of prosciutto
4 slices of smoked mozza
Pam & foil

Trim all the fatty bits and the tendons off the chicken breast, I'm squeamish about chicken so I like it pretty clean, any little spots of fat or blood need to be remove (blame my Mom) so I'll be happy eating it. Lay a piece of saran wrap over the breast and pound them out with a mallet until they are about 1 cm thick. Try to get them nice and even as it will help with the stuffing. Season both sides with pepper. In the middle of both breasts place 2 pieces of mozza. Fold the chicken around the cheese to make a nice little packet so that no cheese is showing, any holes and your cheese is going to leak out when you bake it. Then tightly wrap each breast with 2 pieces of prosciutto, try to overlap the prosciutto so that as little chicken is showing and to keep the cheese inside. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, this will help the chicken keep its shape and prevent the cheese from melting too fast.

Place breast on a foil line baking tray, spray foil with Pam to prevent sticking. The foil is nice for easy clean up in case the cheese leaks out. Bake at 375 oven for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the breast. Really yummy when served with steamed asparagus with a balsamic reduction.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hot & Sour Asian Noodle Soup

This is by no means a traditional Hot & Sour soup, its more what I call white person Asian food but its tasty and healthy and clears out the sinuses. I've adapted this recipe from Anne's Lindsay's Lighthearted Cooking, I found her version to be too bland and not sour enough so I pepped it up a bit. I also switched to dried shiitake mushrooms instead of just plain old white mushrooms as they have more flavour and a nice chewy texture that works well in the soup.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup dried shiitake mushroom (put mushrooms in a bowl with hot water for 20 minutes to hydrate, drain and rinse before adding to soup to remove grit)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 carrot finely julienned
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups water
2 serving packets of either dry or fresh Chinese chow mien noodles (look for simple ones where the ingredients are just flour & water, no preservatives)
3 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp light soy
1 tsp sambal oelek or chili oil (less if you can't take the heat, this will be quite spicy)
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Saute mushrooms & garlic in oil from 2 minutes, just to soften the garlic and fuse the flavours, do not brown. Add in stock & water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in all the condiments and then the noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until noodles are done. Add in green onions and serve.
I would have liked to add a knob in ginger, some lemongrass and some enoki mushrooms but I didn't have any, but I bet they would be a nice addition.


Banana Yogurt Griddlecakes

I was inspired by my friend who tried a vegan recipe for banana pancakes to try something healthy but tasty. I have nothing against vegans, I just know that its not my thing. I'm not big on making foods that imitate other food. I love soy but I like my soy to not try to be something its not.

So here's a very tasty recipe for somewhat healthy pancakes, its a mod of the griddlecakes from my fave cookbook The Fannie Farmer.

3/4 cup yogurt
1 mashed well ripened banana
2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar (easily omitted if you want)

Mash banana and mix in yogurt, egg, and melted butter. Sift in flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir until well mixed, if too thick add a little more yogurt as it will depend on the fat content of your yogurt. I used Liberty's Bioyogurt which worked out to 3/4 of a cup to get the right pancake consistency.

Oil & heat a griddle pan, pour a ladle full of batter on griddle, flip when cake is full off bubbles. Watch that the griddle isn't too hot at the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. This recipe makes about 6 good sized pancakes. Store them in a 200 degree oven while you wait for the remainder to cook.

They were extra tasty with Summerland boysenberry syrup.