Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Soup or Stew Thursday

This week I am conflicted - for Soup Thursday at Cookin' With Cyndi have I made a soup or a stew? I set out to make a soup but I don't know if it really is. It's so thick and now looking at the leftovers, the pasta seems to have sucked up all the broth. So maybe it's a stew, or maybe it's a soup you just have to add a bit more water to. Whatever. It's the best soup I've had in a long time.

Sorta Minestone Soup

2 tb oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz can whole tomatos
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 cup small pasta
2 big handfuls baby spinach

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Pour in the broth. Drain the liquid from the tomatos into the pot and break up the tomatos with your fingers. (Scott loves canned tomatos, so I left the pieces large.) Add the chickpeas, pasta and italian seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper. Rip the spinach into pieces and add to the pot. Stir in and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Once Upon A Feast by Ruth Daniels

It's so exciting for me to share with you (if you didn't already know) that last month our friend Ruth, she of Toronto's Once Upon A Feast, published her own cookbook!

It's an amazing feat, and more importantly, Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories is a really great book.

Ruth has gathered together recipes from her family: meals that her Mother and Grandmother cooked when Ruth was growing up, favorites and often requested recipes from her two daughters and shares them with us. We are very lucky.

All the areas are covered here: appetizers, soups, various meats and seafood, grains, veggies and sweets. The book also has quite a few Jewish recipes which I was very interested in. I've never had any Jewish cooking before. I'm looking forward to trying more of Ruth's Jewish recipes soon.

All the recipes have a list of cooking times, servings per dish, equipment needed, and tips and variations. There is also a very handy cooking primer at the back that talks about kitchen tools, kitchen staples, weights and measurements and much much more. Hints on everything from toasting nuts to butterflying chicken breasts to frying the perfect latke would come in handy for anyone in the kitchen.

Everything I've made from Ruth's book has turned out perfectly, thanks to the detailed and clear directions. I've also enjoyed all the introductions and Ruth's families stories that are sprinkled throughout the book. Some of them are pretty funny!

So please go here to Ruth's site to see how to order a copy of this book. You can purchase the book on CD-Rom or as an E-Book. AND, as if you needed any more incentive, Ruth is very very generously donating $2.00 from the sale of every book to Breast Cancer Research!

So support a fellow blogger! Check out this book.

Marinated Flank Steak with Honey-Chipolte Glaze from Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories by Ruth Daniels. (pg 70).

2 tb honey
1 tb dijon mustard
1 tb hoisin sauce
1 tb fresh lime juice
2 tsp chipolte chile in adobo, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

3 tb olive oil
3 tb fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin

2 flank steaks

For the Glaze: Mix honey, mustard, hoisin sauce, lime juice, chipolte chiles and garlic in a bowl until blended. Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

For the Steak: Combine the marinade in glass baking dish or large zip-lock baggie.

Lightly score (make shallow cuts) the flank steak and coat both sides with marinade. Marinate at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, turning occasionally.

Prepare BBQ (high heat). Brush most of the glaze over both sides of the steak, saving a little to drizzle over the meal before serving. Grill to desired doneness (5 minutes per side = medium).

Let steaks rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Slice diagonally across the grain (short side). Drizzle with glaze just before serving.

I served the flank steak with Ruth's Garlicky Rice (pg 126) which I think might be THE BEST rice dish I've ever had in my life. No lie.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes from Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories by Ruth Daniels. (pg 106).

1 lb sweet potatos peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
oil for frying

To coarsely grate the potatos, either use a hand grater on large holes or a food processor using the grater blade.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugars, baking powder, cayenne, curry powder and cumin.

Add eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the grated sweet potatos and toss well. The batter should be moist but not runny. If it's too stiff add a little more milk.

Using a large serving spoon, drop batter onto hot oil in a skillet. Flatten latkes and brown on both sides, turning only once. If the edges brown much quicker than the centre turn the heat down to medium. This usually takes 3-5 minutes depending on how big the spoonful of batter is.

Drain on paper towels to eliminate excess oil.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WCC 13 - Spiced Potato Cakes with Chickpeas

The theme for Weekend Cookbook Challenge 13 is to make a recipe from one of your newer cookbooks. I figured that most of us would have received at least one cookbook or magazine over the holiday season. I bought a second Indian cookbook for my shelf this holiday season and I am enjoying reading the recipes. Some of the ingredients are hard to come by so far, but I'm keeping my eyes open. I did manage to find amchur (dried mango) powder, so I was able to make this dish:

Spiced Potato Cakes with Chickpeas
adapted from India's 500 Best Recipes

1 tb oil
1 tb ground coriander
1 tb ground cumin
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tb chickpea flour mixed with 2 tb water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
1 tb grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tomatos, diced
1 cup water

1/2 lb potatos, peeled and diced and boiled until tender
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp amchur powder
3 tb oil

Mix together the coriander, cumin, tumeric, salt and sugar. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the spices and the chickpea flour paste and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas, jalapeno, ginger, cilantro, tomatos and water. Stir well to mix and let simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. (I moved mine to a low oven to keep warm.)

Mash the potatos until smooth. Stir in the jalapeno, cilantro, cumin and amchur. Mix well with your hands and form into 6 small patties.

Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the patties until brown and crisp on both sides.

Place the patties on the plates and spoon the chickpeas over top. Serve straight away.

I would absolutely make this again. While I did hunt out the amchur powder, I am not sure what it really added to the dish; I don't think it would be missed if you didn't have any available. I love the variety and vegetarian aspects of Indian food; I just need to find some good Indian grocery stores in Calgary, preferably in the south. Any Calgarians out there have any advice?

There's still time to take part in Weekend Cookbook Challenge 13! Send me a link to your post by Feb 5.

Friday, January 26, 2007

M is for...

M is for Mushroom.

Who: The Mushroom
What: A fungus growing above ground, classified as a vegetable.
When: The early Greeks and Romans were the first cultivators of the mushroom, but Egyptian hieroglyphics of mushrooms have been dated back more than 4000 years.
Where: Mushrooms can be grown pretty much anywhere, as common mushrooms are not grown outdoors. Some types of mushrooms can be ready for harvest in as little as 3 weeks.
Why: Mushrooms are low in calories and fat free. They are a good source of copper, selenium, and potassium.

Did you know? There are thousands and thousands of types of mushrooms; most of them are not edible.
And that? A mycologist is a botanist that studies fungi.

Mushrooms are available for purchase fresh, dried, canned and frozen. Some of the more common types are button, portabella, shitake, enoki, morel, and chanterelle.

Store mushrooms preferably in a paper bag in the refrigerator. If you purchase mushrooms wrapped in plastic, remove the plastic before storing. To clean the mushrooms, wipe them with a damp towel or rinse briefly under the tap.

Grilled Portabella Sandwich
Normally I make this with whole caps, however this day the store only had pre-sliced shrooms.

2 sandwiches

2 buns
2 portabella mushrooms, stems and gills removed
1 clove minced garlic
3 tb mayonnaise
1 tb minced fresh basil
salt and pepper
2 tb oil
red onion and tomato slices

Mix together the garlic, mayonnaise, basil and a bit of salt and pepper. Split the buns and spread the mayonnaise on all cut sides of the 2 buns. Place the tomato and onion slices on the top half of the buns.
Brush the mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms on a bbq or in a grill pan until the mushrooms are softened with nice grill marks on both sides. Top the buns with the mushrooms and serve right away.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Italian Dressing
When I was little, for special occasions my mom would serve bbq steak, baked potatos with sour cream and these mushrooms. To me, this was the height of a classy dinner.

Slice up some button mushrooms (at least a good handful per person). Melt some butter over medium high heat and saute the mushrooms for 10 or 15 minutes. When the mushrooms are soft and golden, pour in some Italian dressing. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the dressing has reduced and thickened. Grind in some pepper and serve.

Mushroom Stroganoff
I adapted this slightly from Feast by Nigella Lawson as not all of the mushrooms she used are available to me. This is a totally delicious twist on Beef Stroganoff.

4 servings

1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tb oil
250 g button mushrooms
250 g portabella mushrooms
50 g butter
4 tb white wine (or water)
2 tsp paprika
150 ml sour cream

Finely chop the onion and garlic in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Slice the button mushrooms, and remove the stem and gills from the portabella and slice. Add the butter and when it has melted add the mushrooms. Stir to coat the mushrooms with the buttery onions. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the lid and season with salt. Add the wine, paprika and some fresh nutmeg. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer gently for another 5 minutes. Stir in some chopped fresh parsley and stir.
Serve over rice.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Soup Thursday - Black Bean Soup

For this weeks Thursday Soup I wanted to do something with beans and something vegetarian. I found a pretty good-sounding recipe for a black bean soup that had salt pork in it. Since the piece of pork was to be discarded before the soup was served I figured that all the pork was really doing was adding some salt and probably smokiness to the soup. So for my version I used a dried chipolte pepper to add the smokiness.

Black Bean Soup
adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis

1 cup dried turtle beans or black beans
1 dried chipolte pepper
1 tb olive oil
1 white onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 green pepper seeded and chopped
1/2 jalapeno chile seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried mustard
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro

Rinse the beans well and soak them, covered by 4 inches of water, overnight.

Drain the beans and rinse them again. Place the beans ,the chipolte and 6 cups of fresh water into a large pot. Cover and simmer for 1 hour until the beans are tender.

After about 40 minutes of cooking heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onion, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeno until softened. Add the cumin, oregano and mustard and stir for a minute. Pour in 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and squeeze in the lime juice. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pour into the pot of beans. Cook covered for 30 minutes more. (if too much liquid has evaporated, add another cup of water.)

Take the pot off the stove and remove the chipolte pepper. Puree with an immersion blender (or use a blender or processor). Return to the pot and season with salt if needed.

Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.

Serves 4-6.

PS - here's the roundup from last week.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mad and Madeleines

Very few people in my life know about this blog. But I know that could change one day, so I am always careful about what I write here; I try very hard not to say anything here that I wouldn't say to someones face or share things I wouldn't want people in my life to know.

So that being said, it's a shame I can't tell you in detail what a terrible day I had on Monday. It was AWFUL, truly truly awful.

After I had spilled every sordid detail about my day to Scott over dinner that night, I was restless. I couldn't concentrate on anything; my mind just kept going over and over the events of the day. Finally I gave up trying to read a book or watch TV and went to the kitchen to see if I could find enough ingredients to make something, ANYTHING that would get my mind on something else.

The cupboards were pretty bare, but I found enough ingredients to bake a batch of Madeleines, something I've never baked or even had before. I'd bought myself a Madeleine tin on sale a few months ago, but it was promptly lost in the messy baking shelf.

Being in the kitchen was exactly what I needed that night. Concentrating on the ingredients, beating the batter by hand instead of using my Kitchen Aid, even washing up the dishes was all very soothing and gave my weary mind a break.

And at the end I was a little calmer and had some lovely tasty cookies too. Normally whenever I bake I take at least half of the bounty to my office to share; not this time. These sweet treats are all for Scott and me.

Brandied Madeleines
adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

50 grams butter
1 egg
40 grams granulated sugar
big fat pinch of salt
45 grams all purpose flour
1 tb brandy

Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside. Beat the egg sugar and salt together for about 5 minutes until they become thick. (Beat by hand or if you are not having a bad day, use your mixer.) Add the flour and stir in by hand. Pour in the butter and brandy and mix gently until incorporated. Chill the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425' and let the batter sit on the counter for 15 minutes. Spray your Madeleine mold with non stick spray or wipe with butter. Drop a small teaspoon of batter into each mold, using half the batter and bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove the cookies from the mold and repeat with the remaining batter.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It''s ALIVE!

Thanks to all of you for your good wishes when I was sick. I'm feeling better today and actually have some interest in food.

Last weekend we did some shopping (at a store that I'll be telling you about soon) and we bought a pack of kumquats. I'd never had one before and didn't know much about them but I bought them anyway. We tried eating them out of hand but they are quite seedy. I don't think that's really common to kumquats (I'm guessing) so maybe these were a bad batch. I didn't want to throw them away so I did some hunting around on the internet. I haven't found enough ideas yet to use them all up, but I did see an idea on Epicurious for kumquat butter, so this morning I made some for our toast.

It's very very good, in a sort of marmalade-y way. It's nice on toast and bagels and I think it might also be really really excellent on french toast or maybe even pancakes. I may have to test that theory out next weekend.

Kumquat Butter

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
5 kumquats washed well
3 tsp or to your taste powdered sugar
big pinch salt

Place the butter in a bowl and mix well with a spoon to soften. Quarter the kumquats and remove any seeds. Place the kumquats in a food processor and chop finely (or chop with a knife). Mix the kumquats, sugar and salt into the butter and stir well. Taste and adjust the salt or sugar if needed. Store in the fridge.

So two questions for you.

1. Does anyone have any suggestions to use up the rest of the kumquats? I have about a cup of whole fruit left.

2. Is it just me, or is this not a flattering picture?

Friday, January 19, 2007

L is for...

L is for Lobster.
Who: Lobster
What: Lobsters are marine (salt water) crustaceans. The most common sort of lobster is the Clawed Lobster. They are related to crayfish. Lobsters have been around for at least 500 years.
Where: In North America, Lobsters are caught in the Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Maine and Rhode Island areas. Sometimes Lobsters that are caught in Canada are called North Atlantic Lobsters, and those caught in the US are called Maine Lobsters.
When: The lobster industry began in the 1800's. Lobster is available year round although the type of lobster and where you live affects what "prime" lobster season is in your area. If you are so lucky to live near water. The most popular time of the year for consumption of lobster is the summer.
Why: 1 cup of plain lobster meat (no butter) contains 142 calories and only 1 gram of fat. It is a good source of Zinc, Vitamin B12 and Copper. Lobster also contains Omega 3 fatty acids. On the other hand, lobsters are high in cholesterol.

Did you know? Before the 1900's lobster was not considered to be good eats. In fact, only people below the poverty level ate lobster. How times have changed.

Lobster is available for purchase fresh, frozen (both whole or just the tail or claws) and canned. Classic Lobster dishes include Lobster Bisque, Lobster Thermador, and Lobster Newburg.

Need tips on cooking and eating lobster? Look here or here or here.

Lobster Roll
If you live in Atlantic Canada or US, there are (supposedly) pretty common - you can even get them at McDonalds! A traditional Lobster Roll contains freshly cooked lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and served on a toasted and buttered hot dog bun.

4 sandwiches

4 hot dog or other buns, split and toasted
125 g cooked lobster meat, shredded or chopped
1 or 2 stalks of celery (depending on size and your personal taste), finely chopped
1/2 of a roasted red pepper, chopped
salt and pepper
3 tb mayonnaise or to taste
4 pieces of lettuce

Gently mix together the lobster, celery and red pepper. Fold in the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Divide between the buns and top with lettuce. Serve straight away.

Lobster Caesar Salad

Make your salad with your normal recipe or here, try my recipe if you'd like. Toss half of the lobster meat you have chopped or shredded in with the salad and dressing/ Plate the salads, divide the remaining meat over the tops of the salad and grate some parmesan cheese over top. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Menu For Hope III - Tha Winnahs!

I have dragged myself off my deathbed long enough to let you know that the winners of all the Menu For Hope prizes have been announced! Go here and see if you won anything. If you did, make sure you scroll down to the bottom to see how to claim your prize. I'm too queasy to type it out right now.

Congrats to all the winners, especially the real winner in all this - The UN Food Programme.

Well done us!!!!!!!

Soup Thursday - Curried Cauliflower Soup

I am currently in the grips of a cruel and totally disgusting stomach bug so this post will be brief.

Last week I saw a post from Cyndi of Cookin' With Cyndi that she was designating Thursdays as a day to cook a soup or stew for dinner and invited us all to join in. I think this is an excellent idea. I love soup but we don't eat it a lot - it always seems to be a last resort meal in our house. Thankfully I made this soup before I got sick so I can still take part.

So here's my contribution to Cyndi's first week of Thursday Soup or Stew.

Curried Cauliflower Soup

1 tb olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1 small red potato, chopped
5 cups vegetable stock

Heat the oil and saute the onion until soft and starting to color. Add the spices and give a quick stir. Add the cauliflower, potato and stock. Stir well, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until veggies are tender, 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Using a blender, food processor or stick blender, puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

I garnished Scott's bowl with mozzarella cheese and green onions and my bowl with smoked paprika and green onions. Both were equally yummy.

Thanks Cyndi, I hope this becomes a weekly affair! Think of all the fun we could all have.

Other than the letter "L" tomorrow I will be taking a break until I am feeling better and can look and think about food without wanting to die. Cheers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cranberry Chicken Salad

I love chicken and fruit together. A restaurant I worked at years ago had a smoked chicken and grape sandwich on the lunch menu. It was heavenly; I could eat them for days. This salad is based on one my Mom told me about, and helped my use up the last of the cranberry sauce from our Christmas breakfast. Depending on how hungry you are, this could feed 2-4 people. The salad is best eaten the day its made, but leftovers (not in my house!) would be ok the next day.

Cranberry Chicken Salad

1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup low fat plain yogurt
3 tb cranberry sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and let sit while you put the salad together.

2 ribs of celery, sliced in half lenthgwise and then diced
4 green onions thinly sliced
1 apple cored and chopped
2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
torn lettuce

Mix together the celery, onions, apple and chicken. Pour 3-4 tb of the dressing over the salad and mix gently. Add more dressing to your taste. Pile the lettuce onto the plates and top with the chicken salad. Drizzle more dressing on top if desired.

Any leftover dressing makes a wonderful dip for apple slices and veggie sticks.

Since this salad contains apples and cranberries, both of which are rich in antioxidants, I'm sending this to Cate at Sweetnicks to take part in the ARF/5 A Day challenge.

Friday, January 12, 2007

K is for...

K is for Kaffir Lime Leaf.
Who: Kaffir Lime Leaf
What: The leaf from the Kaffir Lime Tree. The leaves have a unique shape as seen in the picture - they look like two leaves joined together at the ends.
Where: Kaffir Lime Trees grow in Hawaii as well as South East Asia. The limes and leaves must be harvested by hand, which increases the price and decreases the availability of both products.
When: As the leaves are available dried and frozen as well as fresh, they are available year round.
Why: The leaves (as well as the lime rind) impart a sharp, unmistakable lime scent and taste that is more "limey" than regular limes. They are essential in many Thai soups, curries and fish dishes.

If you are not able to locate kaffir lime leaves or limes, you can substitute the rind and juice of regular limes.

If you happen to get your hands on fresh leaves, make sure you wrap them well and store them in the freezer.

Thai Crab and Shrimp Cakes

12 oz medium or large shrimp in the shell
12 oz crab meat
4 cloves garlic
2 tb grated fresh ginger
3 green onions, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, snipped with scissors
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
bread crumbs
oil for frying

Place the garlic, ginger, onions, celery and lime leaves in a food processor. Chop very finely. Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp and add to the processor. Pulse until the shrimp are chopped up, but not a paste. Scrape down the sides of the processor, squeeze the excess liquid out of the crab meat, and add the crab and pulse a few more times to blend. Scrape the mixture out into a bowl. Season lightly with salt. Add about half of the egg white and mix together. If you need more egg, add it. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit of bread crumbs. Chill for an hour or so.
Heat a small amount of oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Scoop a spoonful of the shrimp mixture (it's soft) and gently press it into a small patty. Dust with bread crumbs and place in the pan. Make a few more patties - don't overcrowd the pan. Fry the patties on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and keep warm while you make the rest.
I served these with a yogurt-curry-lime sauce.

Thai Flavored Chicken Noodle Soup, made from the Thai Flavored Broth.

Thai Flavored Broth

1 yellow onion, unpeeled
4 cloves of garlic
3 whole dried chiles
1 tb peppercorns
3 kaffir lime leaves
peel of 1/2 a lemon, in strips
900 grams chicken parts, or a whole chicken
8 cups of water.

Cut the onion into quarters and crush the garlic cloves with a knife. Add all the ingredients to a stock pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 90 minutes. Skim any impurities from time to time. Strain thru a fine mesh strainer. The chicken may be reserved for another use, but discard the rest of the solids.

Green Chicken Curry

2 tb oil
1 1/2 tsp green curry paste made with kaffir lime leaves
2 cooked chicken breasts, skin removed and discarded and chopped (i like to poach them or use chicken from making the broth)
1 cup frozen peas
1 small thai eggplant, chopped
2 red or white skinned potatos, chopped and steamed until tender
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can light coconut milk

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and the curry paste. Stir for a few minutes until the paste starts to sizzle. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Reduced heat to a gentle simmer and simmer, covered for 10 or 15 minutes. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit of water.
Serve over rice.

At Kalyn's kind suggestion, I am going to submit this post for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Coffee and Cornbread. Thanks Kalyn!

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Day That Really Schmecks!

Jasmine from Confessions of a Cardamom Addict has been a busy lass the past while. In addition to keeping up with all her sites, being the Canadian hostess for Menu for Hope and the Christmas holidays, Jasmine has also organized an event called "A Day That Really Schmecks!".

Jasmine was fortunate enough to know the author Edna Staebler. Edna may not be well known outside of Canada, but she was a journalist and author who passed away this past September at the age of 100. Among other things, Edna had written for Macleans magazine, Readers Digest, received the Order of Canada, and was probably best known for her "Schmecks" cookbooks, including Food That Really Schmecks. Food That Really Schmecks has been re-released in a commemorative edition and Jasmine was kind enough to ask me to take part in A Day That Really Schmecks to celebrate this fact.

Food That Really Schmecks is all about Mennonite cooking. Edna became friends with a Mennonite family to research an article on the Mennonite community, learning about their way of life. This later gave way to this cookbook.

The most charming things about the book is Edna's little introductions to each recipe. Reading this book, I almost felt like Edna was there with me, telling me these little stories in person. It makes this book feel very intimate to me.

I've enjoyed everything I've made from the book so far and can't wait to cook and read some more. Here's my 2 favorites so far:

Tzvivelle Rivel Soup (Onion Rivel Soup) from Food That Really Schmecks! by Edna Staebler.

4 tb butter
4 medium onions sliced, about 2 cups
5 or 6 cups beef broth
salt and pepper

1 beaten egg

Melt the butter and cook the onions in it until lightly browned. Heat the broth, add the onions, bring to a boil, then simmer. For the rivels: add enough flour to the beaten egg to form crumbs. Let the rivels fall in flakes into the soup and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes till the rivels are cooked, the soup thick.

Cheese Rolls from Food That Really Schmecks! by Edna Staebler.
2 cups bread flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tb shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese

Mix and sift the dry ingredients, cut in the shortening and add liquid gradually, mixing to a soft dough. Roll thin on a floured board and sprinkle with the cheese. Roll up like a jelly roll, cut in 1 inch pieces and bake on a greased cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

Jasmine, thank you so much for introducing me to this marvelous book.

Keep an eye out on Jasmine's blog Confessions of a Cardamom Addict for the round-up for
A Day That Really Schmecks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blog Party 18 - Black and White

Our divine hostess Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness has chosen Black and White as the theme for this month's Blog Party.

A bit of a toughie, but I think I did ok.

Tonight we have:

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Mozzarella Squares.
The mozzarella was supposed to blanket all the square, leaving them totally white, which didn't quite happen, but I think they still look good, but more importantly, they tasted very good.

Next up:

Rootbeer Float Shooters.
These are very small glasses (about 3" high and 1 1/2" wide) that I filled halfway with rootbeer and dropped a small spoon of vanilla ice cream in. Then you shoot 'em back.

And finally,


Baileys and Espresso

1 shot freshly made espresso
1 shot Baileys

Fill a hiball glass with ice and pour in the espresso and baileys. Stir and serve.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 12 - The Round Up.


The round up for WCC 12 is done. Go and click here to check it out. Thanks again to Shaun for hosting this month.

Thanks to all of you who have taken part in the WCC over the last year! You rock!

Challenge 13 is up and running. This month we'll be cooking from your most recently purchased/gifted cookbook! And I'm sure that most of us got a cookbook (or 2) or even a magazine over the holidays.

Send me a link to your post by Feb 5.


Friday, January 05, 2007

J is for...

J is for Jamie Oliver.

Who: Jamie Oliver
What: Celebrity Chef from England. Began his television career with the "Naked Chef" series in 1998. Author of 7 cookbooks and host of 8 cooking series.
When: Born in 1975 Jamie grew up in the kitchen of his parents pub in Clavering, Essex. He is now married with 2 children.
Where: His shows air in over 40 countries and he has toured doing live cooking shows in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Why: The last few years Jamie has focused his attention on promoting the use of organic ingredients, mentoring young chefs thru his Fifteen charity, and trying to change the meals fed to schoolchildren in lunch programs across the U.K.

Did you know? In 2005, Jamie Oliver was critizied by animal welfare campaigners as well as some members of the public when he slaughtered a lamb on his TV show "Jamie's Great Escape". The scene showed Oliver cutting the animal's throat in the program filmed in Italy. There were calls asking that he be charged with animal cruelty, as the animal was not first stunned as the laws required.

Bacon Sandwiches, Jamie Oliver Style.
for 2 delicious sandwiches

6 pieces bacon
4 slices sourdough bread
2 tomatos thickly sliced
HP sauce

Fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel and blot off the excess oil. Fry the tomato slices in the bacon fat left in the pan. While they are frying, toast the bread and spread all pieces with HP. Layer half the tomato slices and 3 pieces of bacon on 2 pieces of bread and top with the remaining slices of bread. Serve straight away.

Working thru the alphabet finally got me to try Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk, I've had it marked in my book for years. While I didn't think much of the sauce, the chicken is great - flavorful and incredibly moist.

Another recipe of his I've wanted to try for some time are his Orange and Polenta Biscuits. Finally the day came to make them and ... I didn't have enough cornmeal. For certain reasons I had to make the cookies that night, so I went ahead and fudged the recipe. They were delicious, although next time I won't chill the batter. The batter was too stiff and I had to try to mold each lump of cookie dough by hand to try to make the cookies pretty.

Orange and Polenta Biscuits
slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 oz. polenta
5 oz flour plus
3/4 cup flour
Zest of 2 oranges finely chopped
2 large eggs

Combine the butter, sugar, polenta and flour together, then mix in the orange zest and eggs. Scoop out teaspoons of the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375' for around 6-9 minutes until the outside edges are golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Did you also know? Although Oliver has had a huge impact on changing the eating habits of children in the UK and has been lauded by many for his efforts, not everyone is in agreement with him. In September 2006, The Rawmarsh Community School in the UK made headlines after a group of parents revolted against Oliver's change of the school lunch program which meant all children at the school were fed two portions of fruit and three vegetables every day. The parents said "Our kids have the right to eat what they like.". That day for lunch they delivered food bought from nearby fast food restaurants and handed the food over the school fence to the children. Jamie Oliver responded to this by saying "I am tired of these fucking bastards. If they want to kill off their kids, let them do it.".

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 12 - Stew

I'm having so much fun reading Stews Chilies and Chowders for WCC 12 that I've made another stew! My first, Chinese Style Stew is here.

Send a link to your post for Weekend Cookbook Challenge 12 to Shaun, this month's host at kitchenaglowATyahooDOTcom by January 5!

Moroccan Stew
adapted from Company's Coming Stews Chilies and Chowders

While I did enjoy this one, next time I will be more aggressive with the seasonings.

1 tb olive oil
2 cups cubed potato
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups water
1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup soft sun dried tomato pieces, sliced
1 tb vegetable boullion powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp hot chile flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tb water
1 tb cornstarch

Cinnamon Couscous

1 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup couscous

For the stew:
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the potatos thru red pepper and cook, stirring for 10 minutes. Add the water, chickpeas, sundried tomatos and all the spices. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the potatos are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Turn heat up to a boil, mix together the water and cornstarch, pour in and stir until thickened. Serve over couscous.

Cinnamon Couscous
Bring the water and cinnamon to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Stir with a fork to fluff.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas 2006

My Mom made a cornmeal topped Chili one night they were here. It was delicious, I can't wait to make it myself.

Christmas Day breakfast I made a Cranberry Brie Tart. It's pretty easy, although with all the chilling and baking you'll need about 90 minutes to get it together. Make sure that you have you wits about you when you make this tart. I found out on my test run of the recipe a couple of weeks before Christmas that you can't blind bake a tart shell without using parchment paper:
Yup, it's a bitch trying to scrape lentils off a tart shell that they have baked themselves into.

Tart with Cranberries, Brie and Tomato
serves 6-8

175 g flour
75 g butter
190 g cranberry sauce
small handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
225 g cherry tomatos, halved
300 g brie, thinly sliced
2 eggs
150 ml cream

In a food processor, whiz the flour and butter into crumbs. Add 1 to 2 tb cold water until the dough comes together. Lightly flour your counter and roll out dough to fit a 9" fluted tart tin. Chill for 20 minutes.

Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes at 400'. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 350'. Spread the cranberry sauce over the bottom of the tart shell, then layer with the basil, brie and tomatos. Whisk together the eggs and cream, season with salt and pepper and pour carefully over the tart. Bake for 45 minutes until golden and set. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Scott's mom has an embroidery machine and embroidered me these napkins for Christmas. Aren't they cute?

My parents neighbours are Swedish. When my mom told them I was cooking a Swedish dinner she sent along these table runners:

And these flags to put on the tree:

She also told my mom "I hope you won't be too disappointed in the food dear; Swedish food isn't very good."!

Incidentally, a couple of weeks before Christmas I was talking to my mom and she asked what I needed her to bring for Christmas dinner. I realized that I had totally forgotten to tell them that we were having a Swedish dinner like my dad wanted. So I told her all about it. She seemed surprised and said that she didn't remember hearing my dad and I talk about it. Well, the next night I got a phone call from my dad, saying that he didn't remember talking about a Swedish Christmas with me!!!! I double checked with Scott who says that he does remember, but still! That took a bit of the wind out of my sails.

We made Glogg:

And here's the dinner table for Christmas dinner:

I went a little easier on the menu than what I had planned - I just didn't want to spend the whole day in the kitchen obsessing about everything. We had:
Meatballs, Salmon, Stuffed Cauliflower (the recipe came from Mary at The Sour Dough), Gravy, Lingonberry Jam, Steamed Baby Potatos, Buns, Cream Cheese, Capers, Peas, Red Cabbage Salad and Curry Sauce for the cauliflower. It was all delicious. (See the white serving dishes? I got them for Christmas!)

Especially the Cauliflower. Thanks again Mary!

My dad brought a piece of Fois Gras with him, and he and Scott cooked it up on Boxing Day. I did not partake as I have no interest in Fois Gras. The other 3 ate it. It was Scott's first time and he was very underwhelmed. He told me later that he probably wouldn't have it again.

I feel like all I've been doing for a month is drinking alcohol and eating everything under the sun. I need some lighter healthier food, stat!

Mars Crunchies

Another treat I made for Christmas gifts this year was Mars Crunchies. This is orignially from Feast by Nigella Lawson, but City Palate Magazine adapeted them in thier December issue. I was going to make both to test as CP said Nigellas needed some tweaking, but I ran out of time. Mars Crunchies from City Palate Magazine

3 Mars bars, chopped into small pieces
2 tb butter
3 cups Corn Flakes

Melt the Mars bars and butter together in a double boiler. When completely melted and smooth gently stir the corn flakes into the chocolate. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let cool.

Hot Chocolate Snowballs

A new (to me) treat I made to give away for Christmas this year was "Hot Chocolate Snowballs" and they couldn't have been simpler to make. I filled plastic candy bags (from Michaels) with hot chocolate mix for 2 drinks, some mini marshmallows and either some chocolate candies or crushed candy canes. A little note for serving instructions twisted onto the tie and voila! Cute little 'snowballs'.