Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #5 - Fat Horse Potstickers

This weekends cookbook was the local The Best of City Palate cookbook. City Palate is a local food newspaper released 10 times a year, covering the Calgary "Food Scene".

Dumplings are great and tasty, but are time consuming to make and cook. You'll need a couple of hours free to make them. If you wanted, once you made them you could freeze them and store them for when the dumpling mood strikes you. Or, do what we did, cook and eat, standing in the kitchen.

Fat Horse Potstickers
adapted from Best of the City Palate

makes approximately 30 potstickers

wonton wrappers
1/4 lb raw chicken, ground or finely chopped
1/4 lb raw pork, ground or finely chopped
1/4 lb crab meat, shredded
2 tb chopped cilantro
10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tb ginger, minced
2 green onions, minced
2 tb tamari
2 tb coconut milk
1 egg
1/2 jalapeno, minced

Blend all ingredients together except wrappers and peas. Heat a frying pan and cook a spoonful of the filling to make sure it tastes good. If necessary, adjust the seasonings. Measure spoonfuls of the filling into the wonton wrappers and form into a flat bottomed dumpling that is open at the top. Stick a pea in the centre of each.

Heat some oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Add the potstickers in a single layer. The size of your pan will determine how many batches you will have to cook yours in. Cook until the dumplings are brown on the bottoms, then add about 1/4" of water, cover and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until all the water has evaporated. Use a flexible spatula if you have one, to remove the dumplings carefully from the pan.
Serve hot with vinegar chile dip, plum sauce, or hoisin.

Vinegar chile dip
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
sugar to taste
salt to taste
chile flakes to taste

Monday, October 24, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Shepherd's Pie

This is my least favorite time of year. I am still clinging to the memory of summer, still willing the weather to stay warm so I can sit on my deck, open the windows all day, wear sandals everyday instead of shoes and socks. Now there is heavy frost outside when I wake up every morning, and all my outside plants are dead. All the summer fruit and produce is gone, and I MUST wear shoes and socks. The only silver lining I can see is that now I can cook some meals that are simply not summer food. Shepherd's pie is definitely one of those dishes.

Shepherd's Pie

3 baking potatoes peeled
1/2 cup milk
2 tb butter
4 cloves garlic minced
1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 1/2 tb Worcestershire
4 tsp flour
1/2 cup onion diced
1/2 cup carrot diced
1 cup beef, vegetable or mushroom broth
1 1/4 cup canned corn kernels

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain, return to pot and mash with the milk, butter and salt. Set aside.

Heat some oil over medium heat. Add garlic and beef, and cook until beef is browned. Season with salt. Add the rosemary and Worcestershire. Stir and sprinkle 2 tsp flour over the top. Stir again and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove beef from pan. Drain any excess grease.

Preheat oven to 350'

Add the onion and carrots to the pan and cook for 7 or 8 minutes, until veggies are browning around the edges. Add the last 2 tsp of flour and stir. Add the broth. Stir frequently and simmer for another 5 minutes until thick.

Add the corn and the beef and stir well to combine. Add a bit of water if the mixture seems too thick.

Spray a dish with non-stick spray and spread the beef over the bottom. Cover with the mashed potatoes.

Bake for 20 minutes, then put under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes until top is a bit brown and crunchy. Serve straight away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pasta with Butter and Myzithra Cheese

Here's a by-the-seat-of-your-pants recipe for some very good pasta. Myzithra is a greek cheese made from Sheep milk with a similar texture to Parmesan, it's a very hard cheese with a sharp salty tang. You only need 3 ingredients for this dish: pasta, butter and Myzithra.

Cook enough pasta for how every many you are cooking for. Slowly melt some butter, probably a few tablespoons for each person. (You can always melt more later if needed.) Grate the cheese using the smallest holes on the grater. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the pot. Add the butter, trying to leave the milky solids in the pan. Toss the pasta and butter until the pasta is coated.
What you do next is up to you. You can either add the cheese to the pot and mix together, or do what we do. We plate the pasta, then add the cheese so each person can add how much they want.
Whichever you do, don't forget to grind some pepper on your pasta before you eat.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #4 - Appetizers

This weekend I tried 2 new recipes instead of 1. Scott and I were supposed to go to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival this weekend, but Scott is ill and not able to leave the house. So I brought the appetizers to him.

I bought Fab Food from a discount bin a couple of years ago. It has a lot of tasty sounding recipes, including Welsh Rarebit, which I LOVE, but the recipe for Onion Bhajis with Spicy Sauce has always sounded good.

onion bhajis with spicy sauce
adapted from Fab Food from White Cap Books

spicy sauce
1 chile pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red or orange pepper, diced
1 small can diced tomatos
1 garlic clove, diced
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tb cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Remove from heat. I used my hand blender to smooth it out a bit.

onion bhajis
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chile powder
1 egg
1 onion, very thinly sliced
handful cilantro, chopped
oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the egg and 2 to 3 tb water, whisk to make a smooth batter. Stir in the onion and cliantro.

Heat the oil in a medium to large pot. Fry tablespoons of the batter 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels.

These were really great. The spices were nice with the onion, and who doesn't love a fritter? The sauce was definatly the best part. I increased the sugar from the original recipe, turning it into a sweet-spicy dip.

They were Scott's favorite part of dinner!

I also made Chorizo and Artichoke Quesadillas.

This is another bargain bin cookbook. Mexican food is one of my very favorites, but we don't have many Mexican places in our area. I chose this recipe because I really like chorizo.

chorizo and artichoke heart quesadillas
adapted from Cookshelf Mexican from Parragon Publishing
1 chorizo sausage, diced
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic, diced very finely
4 flour tortillas
grated cheese (I used marble cheese because that's what I had)
tomato, diced
2 or 3 green onions, diced
small handful cilantro, diced

Cook the sausage over medium heat.
Arrange the sausage and artichoke hearts on the tortillas. Transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic and top with the cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted.
Cut into wedges and sprinkle with the diced tomatos, green onions and cliantro.

These were quite good too, although I wasn't crazy about the chorizo. I wasn't sure about the garlic, but it really added a great flavor. I would make them again, I think they'd make a good quick dinner too, maybe replacing the chorizo with chicken or steak until I find a better sausage.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Something So Tasty

Run, don't walk over to Something So Clever and make a batch of Alicat's fabulous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I made them for dessert for our Thanksgiving dinner on the weekend. Everyone just loved them, even the people who don't like pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pork Enchiladas

I love Mexican Food! Here is a great recipe for pork enchiladas from Martha Stewarts Everyday Food magazine. It is very easy and quite quick. I served this with Zatarin's beans and rice on the side. I didn't have a chance to buy green salsa, so I used regular red salsa. I also used a bit more cheese than the magazine used.

Pork Enchildas
adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut lengthwise
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
olive oil
2 cups salsa
8 tortillas
1 cup grated monteray jack cheese

Dust the pork with the cumin and oregano. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the pork, and cook until just cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

Preheat oven to 450'. Puree salsa and 1/4 water in a blender. Add to skillet, warm through.

Reserve 1/2 cup cheese.

Evenly divide the pork and cheese between the tortillas. Roll each tortilla tightly and place, seam side down in a baking dish. Top with heated salsa and reserved cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sunday lunch

Satuday at Millarville we had some samples from Fairwinds Farm (in Fort Macleod, Ab 403-553-0127). They sell goats milk, yogurts, cheeses and soaps. The onion and garlic chevre was out of this world.

We bought a tub of the cheese and talked on the way home about what we would do with it. We thought about pasta, a tart, even just cheese and crackers. Sunday at lunch we decided on sandwiches. But not just any sandwiches, oh no. Goat cheese and tomato for me and cheese and smoked trout for Scott.

We had some very nice sourdough bread left over from dinner on Saturday. We toasted the bread, then spread with the cheese. I sprinkled some basil, salt and pepper on my toasts, then topped with tomatos. Scott made his sandwich simple with just the cheese and slices of smoked rainbow trout (also from Millarville). We toasted the sandwiches under the broiler for a couple of minutes, then ate.

Very simple and very good. The sourdough was crispy and tangy. The cheese was so rich, and my tomatos (also from Millarville!) were great. Scott loved his too, and the whole house smelled smokey from the fish. Yum.

Close up of Scott's "trout toast":

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Plum jam

We bought a ton of plums last week at Millarville. Even though we were eating them everyday I was worried they would go bad before we could get through all of them. On Sunday I found a pack of freezer jam pectin in the pantry.
Plum Jam!

Plum Freezer Jam
adapted from the back of a package of Club House No Cook Freezer Jam gelling powder
4 cups of finely chopped plums
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg freezer jam pectin

Gently mix plums and sugar in a large bowl.
Let stand for 15 minutes.
Slowly sprinkle gelling powder over friut, stirring for 3 minutes.
Let stand for another 5 minutes.
Stir again for 1 minute, then pour into jars.
Seal tightly.
Use jam within 6 weeks, or freeze for up to one year.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #3 - Tarte Flambe

This weeks WCC cookbook is "Cooking with Master Chefs" by Julia Child. I have had this cookbook for years and have read it over and over again. There are many great sounding recipes in it, but, like all cookbooks in the WCC, I haven't cooked out of it yet.

I was torn between 2 recipes from this book, so Scott made the final call. I think he chose this one because it had cheese and bacon, 2 of his favorite things.

There is no open flame used for this savory tart. The books says the name comes from the Alsatian method of baking. The tart was cooked in a bakers oven when it was being fired, and when the oven flared up, the flames would engulf the tart.

Tarte Flambe, Alsatian Flammekueche
by Andre Soltner, from Cooking with Master Chefs

7 to 8 oz puff pastry
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 tb flour
2 tb vegetable oil
4 oz bacon, diced
1 cup thinly sliced onion

Lightly flour your counter, and roll the pastry into a 20 inch square, less than 1/8" thick. Cut into 4 disks, 8" across. Transfer to a baking sheet. Prick all over with the tines of a fork. Cover with saran and chill at least 1/2 hour.

Process the cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the creme fraiche, flour, salt and pepper and oil. Process to combine.

Fry the diced bacon over medium heat. When the bacon starts to render it's fat, add the onion and cook another 3 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool.

Leaving a 1/4" border, spread the cheese on the pastry. Top with the bacon and onions. Bake in a 425' oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tarts may be assemble several hours in advance. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

I could not find creme fraiche, I used sour cream instead. In typing this, I realized I missed the step to add the flour and oil to the cheese. It tasted fine to us though. Would I make this again? Absolutely, although I would go a bit heavier on the bacon and onion. We felt the tarts were a little too light on the toppings. Once again, Julia scores a touchdown! Published in 1993, this is a neat book to look back on. Included in the "Master Chefs" that Julia Childs cooks with are: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, who used to have a show on the Food Network and have 3 restaurants, Jacques Pepin, Alice Waters, and Emeril Lagasse, who looks like he's about 12 years old.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Raspberry Pastries

I have been dying to try this recipe for months. I had planned to cook these for breakfast for weekend company we were supposed to have. Unfortunately they weren't able to come, but I decided to make them anyway.

I am sure glad I didn't have to make these for anyone but Scott. They were more difficult than I imagined.

First off, I could not find puff pastry sheets, just squares you rolled out yourself. Apparently I am not good at rolling a square.

Then you slice the pastry into 5 strips. Brush the strips with sugar and jam (I used my wonderful raspberry jam that I made from Nigella. Then you stack them and put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until firm. It took AGES for them to firm up. After 20 minutes in the freezer they were still too difficult to cut. Finally, they were somewhat firm, and we cut them. (By this time we had died from hunger)

Isn't that the ugliest thing you've ever seen? Ew. Then the recipe says to bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Well sure, if by puffed and golden you mean burned and black. Even 15 minutes was too long. We cooked them for around 12 minutes. You have to watch them like a hawk - they go from golden to black very fast.

They were cute-looking and tasted fine. Would I make them again? I'm really not sure. They were pretty fussy for the end result. After all the work and hassle, I would have been just as happy if I'd had toast and jam instead.

Raspberry Pastries
From Everyday Food Magazine

Preheat oven to 400'. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and cut crosswise into 5 equal strips.

Spread 4 strips with a total of 3 tb of jam and sprinkle with 2 tb sugar. Stack coated strips and top with remaining strip. Freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. With a serrated knife, slice the stack crosswise into 1/4" strips, placing on baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2 more tb of sugar.

Bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly on the sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.


Pink Peppercorn Shortbread from Brulee.