Monday, April 24, 2017

Chocolate Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Oh the weather outside is frightful...again. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone living in Alberta. April and May are bound to have some less than predictable weather. The unpredictability of it is almost predictable. I am working in Northern Alberta under a fly-in, fly-out arrangement and my flight home Thursday evening was grounded for three hours courtesy of a juicy snow storm. Finally Edmonton got hit with the same snow two days later. It'll melt quickly and then reappear sometime in May usually for one last hurrah.

So instead of grumbling about it, I pulled out the wool socks, jogging pants and went to work in the kitchen making strawberry preserves, a few hot meals, salads and these delicious cookies. They are rich, moist and chewy. The kind of 3pm treat you look for with an espresso or other strong brew. I gave a bunch of mine away for fear that I'd have a a moment of weakness and eat them all. Good move on my part as they happen to be great for sharing.


From: https://www.donnahay.com.au

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup berry or caster sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg  yolk
  • 100g dark chocolate melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche


Method

Preheat the oven to 325F. Put the butter and sugar in a standing mixer blend until creamy; about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, egg yolk and chocolate and process until combined. Finally, add the flour and cocoa and process until the mixture forms a ball. Place the mixture in a bowl or remove the base of the mixer if possible, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll a tablespoon each of the mixture into balls and place on two lined baking sheets. Indent the centre of each cookie by pressing your thumb into each one. Bake for 12-14 minutes and allow to cool a little on the sheets before transferring them to a rack. Spoon a dollop of the dulce de leche onto each cookie.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Asian-Inspired Pork Cabbage Rolls with Peanut Sauce


Ukrainian and other Eastern European cultures are well acquainted with the cabbage roll. Every celebratory meal has either the vegetarian or pork-filled option, floating in tomato sauce and while I can get behind a plate of perogies, I never get excited to see the cabbage roll.

This, however, is not the cabbage roll I know. This version is loaded with garlic, ginger, soy, a hint of fish sauce and topped with a nutty overture. I can dig it. In fact I did and have plenty of leftovers. I struggled to find Napa cabbage in good shape (aka Suey Choy) and had fewer cabbage leaves to use than pork filling. I wound up cooking the leftover filling and adding the scraps of cabbage left as a sort of sloppy cabbage roll. There was plenty of the peanut sauce to pour over both the rolls and remaining filling. Rolling the cabbage rolls was easy, but preparing the recipe in one pot is doable and  involves less cleanup.

Whatever you choose, I can assure you'll get excited about these cabbage rolls.

Adapted from: http://fedandfit.com

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 head Napa cabbage

Filling

  • 2 T salted butter
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 2-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 t fish sauce
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
Sauce

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 t fish sauce
  • 1 T cider vinegar
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Method
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to simmer and place the head of cabbage, leaves downward into the pot. Let the cabbage poach for 10 minutes. Remove from the water, cut the end off and separate the leaves, laying them on a paper towel to cool and dry.

To kick off the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the carrots, ginger and garlic. Stir well to combine and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Place the carrots in a bowl along with the rest of the filling ingredients and combine the ingredients with your hands to ensure it's well incorporated.

Make the rolls by place about 1/4 cup of the filling on the base of the stem of each leaf. Fold the sides of the cabbage inward and roll towards the end of the leaf. Place the rolls in a 9'X13' baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.

To make the sauce, heat the sesame oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, whisking the sauce until smooth and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken on its own.

Place the cabbage rolls, neat in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add half the sauce over the rolls, returning them to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Serve on a bed of rice, quinoa, freekeh or neat with chopped cilantro to garnish.







Monday, April 3, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing


I'm in the midst of a love affair with cauliflower. It's my first choice on the party veggie tray and its emergence as a main dish has got me intrigued. Roasting it adds yet another dynamic to this interesting vegetable and it pairs well with any protein if you'd prefer it as a side.

For those who set it aside and favour other more colourful vegetables, don't. Cauliflower's pretty competitive as far as vitamins and nutrients containing 73% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C and almost 20% of vitamin K in a cup of the cooked variety (http://www.whfoods.com). It also peaks in spring and fall, so now is the time to eat it. Finally, cauliflower comes in 4 colours: orange, yellow, purple and green. Who doesn't love experimenting with a little colour!

From: https://www.budgetbytes.com/
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t salt

Chickpeas

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste


Method

Preheat the oven to 450F. Prepare the cauliflower by washing and cutting up the head into bite-size pieces. Slice the red onion into wedges, about a centimetre thick. Toss both into a bowl, add the oil, some salt and pepper and mix well. Spread the veggies onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, toss and flip the roasted veggies and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting, combine all the dressing ingredients into a blender and emulsify. Next prepare the chickpeas by heating the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the spices, combining them with the oil and finally include the chickpeas. Brown the chickpeas for about 10 minutes, or until the chickpeas become golden-brown.




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rainbow Noodle Bowls


We make a version of this dish a few times a month for several reasons: It's healthy, versatile and who doesn't love the chance to get rid of leftover veggies lurking in your fridge? The formula is simple: a protein, assorted veg, a starch base and a sauce to add some kick to the ensemble. This particular recipe is Vietnamese-inspired and includes mint, basil and cilantro tossed in with some roasted peanuts. If I have herbs on hand, they go in. If I don't, I add nuts or seeds in abundance to finish off the dish. I had old carrots I pickled overnight in existing brine and when you combine the whole song and dance, it almost looks as if you know what you're doing. 

The base is usually rice, but I've tried soba noodles and had leftover rice vermicelli noodles that I've been meaning to use. Often the sauce is a bibimbap or ginger variety that I've played with a bit. 

What brings me back to this dish is the fact that it can be meatless and I don't feel as if anything is missing. I have made countless vegetarian dishes, many of which aren't posted on this blog because they tasted as if they were missing meat (aka shitty). With these Asian-inspired noodle or rice bowls, I enjoy the depth of flavours with beans. tofu or lentils added to it and never think to myself "this would taste better with meat in it." That's what I call a success story.

Adapted from: http://pinchofyum.com

Serves 3-4

Sauce
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar

Bowl 
  • 200g vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced thinly
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red cabbage sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned (I had leftover brine from a jar of pickled onions and popped them in the brine the night before)
  • 1/4 cup each, cilantro, mint and basil chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts

Method

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. 

Prepare all the vegetables and protein and set aside. For the vermicelli noodles, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the noodles, submersing them in the water. Let sit for five minutes. Remove from water and portion immediately into two bowls. Top with the veggies, herbs, nuts and drizzle sauce overtop. Now eat, eat, eat!





Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake


Happy New Year! Happy Chinese New Year! Wait, let's try this on for size: happy first quarter of 2017! I know I'm a little late to the party, but I hope your healthy resolutions have been set aside. If not, you are about to break them and make a cake that'll knock your socks off. Yes, you!

I took a little hiatus in January and February and walked the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage in Northern Spain. Foodies delight in the variety of treats one can find along the way. Unfortunately, most cafes and restaurants are closed in January because who in their right mind would walk across Northern Spain in the winter?! In fact, entire towns are closed for the most part, which makes one feel like the lone survivor in a zombie apocalypse. As the only survivor, I indulged in tuna with bread, chorizo with bread and cheese with bread. My delightfully beige diet was handy under the circumstances, but somewhat uninspiring.

I wasn't hard done by. I did, however get a little tired of the food updates from my partner-in-crime who was in St. Anton and Barcelona enjoying their four-star food scenes. Sometimes it's just best not to share all of your good news. I played catch up at the end of my trip and enjoyed some Spanish delicacies from the North and a few Catalan favorites in Barcelona. What struck me most were the fantastic pho, sushi and contemporary dishes I also found. The non-Spanish food was pretty remarkable.

This is my first post for 2017 and I was sure I'd be inspired by Spain's Northern cuisine to want to write about it. Instead, I'm just inspired to eat well and write about it. That's what I'm going to do.

I saw a picture of this cake on Pinterest and couldn't quite absorb it at first. The original recipe calls for pomegranate molasses, which gives the batter almost a dark chocolate color. The golden pears pop amidst that background and the combination along with great photography wooed me.  I didn't have pomegranate molasses, but used honey with a few squeezes of lemon instead to give the cake the sweet and tart combination that the molasses offers. I also didn't have walnuts readily available, so swapped walnuts in the batter for almonds. I would make this again. The pears are fantastic, especially when balanced with the almond and citrus in the cake. Of course it's also vehicle for whipped cream, which is pretty much the only reason I make cake in the first place.

As with most social media pics, the original was a work of art. Mine, was less arty and a little more avant-garde:


Notice that one pear has been ostracized from the rest. Maybe they had an argument in the oven; we'll never know. Anyways, this is what my baking looks like: it's not going to win any awards, but oh my, it is tasty.

Adapted from: http://www.bonappetit.com

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 T unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 3 T fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup runny honey
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 small, ripe Bosc pears (one of mine went missing-would rather not talk about it)
  • 1 cup, unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground cardamom
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 t orange zest
  • 1 cup olive oil
Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 10 inch round cake pan with butter and cover the base with parchment paper. Coat the sides with a little flour.

Cook the 2 tablespoons of butter, orange and lemon juice, honey and a quarter cup of sugar in a frying pan on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has reduced. This should take about 4 minutes. Add the pears, cut side up and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until some of their juices are released. Flip the pears and cook face down for another 3 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then arrange the pears, cut side down on the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and allow the liquid to cook another 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture becomes syrupy. Pour mixture over the pears and keep in the freezer while you prepare the batter.

Blend the almonds and cup and-a-half of flour in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Pulse in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamon.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine the orange zest, eggs and remaining sugar until smooth; about 4 minutes. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, ensuring each batch is well blended before adding the next. Follow with the oil, adding it gradually until blended. Pour the batter over the pears and place pan on a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean once inserted into the cake.





Saturday, December 24, 2016

Baked Eggs with Roasted Acorn Squash & Kale



You're likely prepping the ingredients for your Christmas dinner today and not thinking beyond those turkey leftovers. That's good. Turkey leftovers go a long way after Christmas. If you do however, need a meal to bridge some of the gaps in your holiday menu, I'd suggest this baked egg recipe. It's a nice light, vegetarian meal that is cozy and filling, but that also offers a refreshing change from one's usually heavy holiday menu.

I wasn't the chef for this meal. It was prepared for me by another, sometimes reluctant chef. He knocked this out of the park so I'm keen to attempt it myself in the new year. If you need a little filler to go with this recipe, I'd suggest roasted potatoes to serve with the eggs along with some additional Pecorino on the potatoes to tie the two items together.

Adapted from: http://www.travelynneats.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large Acorn squash, sliced and de-seeded/hollowed
  • 1 tsp each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T olive oil and some to drizzle over the squash
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of kale, cut into thin ribbons with bulky parts of the stems removed
  • 1 t Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 t chile powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup of shaved Pecorino

Method

Preheat the oven to 410F. While the oven is heating, slice your squash horizontally, scooping the seeds out of the centre of each slice. Brush the slices with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Lay the squash on a tin foil-lined baking sheet, baking for 12 minutes each side.

Heat a skillet on medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil added. Add the onions, sautéing for 10 minutes, or until softened. Toss in the garlic for another 2 minutes, until it is fragrant. Add the kale in 2-3 batches and combine well with the onions. Once the first batch softens, add the next and combine with the existing onion mixture. Add the spices and broth and let simmer for 4 minutes or until the kale softens. Add the pecans and set aside.

With the squash baked and out of the oven, turn the oven to broil (high).  Move the rack about 6 inches from the top of the oven. Add the squash to the skillet and crack an egg into each of the squash slices. Sprinkle half of the Pecorino over the entire skillet and broil for about 5 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are set. Remove from oven and serve, sprinkling the remaining cheese overtop of each serving.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Romesco Chicken with Kale Mashed Potatoes


Having a little comfort food doesn't have to mean foregoing nutrition and quality ingredients. In fact, I'm a firm believer that it enhances the recipe. I spent the afternoon catching up on new British murder mysteries. No better time to wolf down some nachos with fresh salsa, guacamole and chopped jalapeño, olives and sharp cheddar. And brownies. And beer. And some leftover Doritos. And more brownies. Even junk food can dig a fresh twist.

To continue today's theme we have Romesco chicken with kale mashed potatoes. Crispy skinned chicken thighs in a tangy pepper and tomato sauce with ground almonds (pumpkin seeds if you have nut allergies) and plenty of garlic. Comfort at it's finest, as long as you're willing to put the Doritos down long enough to make it.

From: http://avocadoadaynutrition.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

Potatoes
  • 1 1/2lb yukon potatoes, quartered
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
Chicken
  • 1lb chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 1 jar roast red peppers, drained
  • 1 15oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Fill a large pot with water, a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 7-10 minutes, until softened. Throw in the kale and boil another minute. Drain the potatoes of water, add the chicken stock, yoghurt and mash with a fork or standing mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the chicken, heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat. Place half the chicken in the pan, skin side down and let cook for 5 minutes or until skin is browned. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and cook the other half of the chicken. Once complete, set the chicken aside and wipe down the pan. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and the garlic and heat for 30 seconds. Add the crumbs and almonds, combining well with the garlic. Pour into a food processor or blender and add the peppers and tomatoes. Blend until well combined.

Return the sauce to the frying pan and place the chicken thighs on top. Add a little chicken stock to thin the sauce to your desired consistency and stir to coat the chicken. Serve on top of the potatoes with a little flat leaf parsley sprinkled over top.