Thursday, November 29, 2007

Presto Pasta - Curry Rice Noodle Soup

Ruth from Once Upon A Feast is celebrating a big milestone today - the 40th edition of her Presto Pasta Nights!

I've taken part in 20 PPN's. I'm surprised, I thought it had been more.

I've had my eye on a rice noodle dish from one of my favorite books (don't I say that about all of them??)Rebar Modern Food Cookbook. This dish has everything - rice noodles (one of my faves), coconut milk, tofu, and curry. All the good stuff, in my opinion. I ended up mutiliating the recipe - Scott's got the stomach flu, so he certainly can't eat curry - and I was getting tired and started mis-reading the recipe. Fortunately it turned out fantastic. Next time I make this I will stick to the original recipe to check it out, but this version is pretty great.

Happy 40th Presto Pasta Ruth! Here's to many many more.

Curry Rice Noodle Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp red curry paste
2-3 Tb sugar (to taste)
3 Tb soy sauce
1 cup coconut milk
2 tb lemon juice
100 g rice noodles, broken into smallish pieces
5 green onions, chopped
1 big handful cherry tomatos, halved (or 1 or 2 chopped tomatos)
2 tb minced cilantro
bean sprouts

Place the broth, lemongrass, ginger and garlic into a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Strain out the solids and return to a simmer. Whisk in the curry paste, sugar and soy sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and lemon juice. Stir, then add the rice noodles to the simmering soup. When the noodles are almost cooked through (5 minutes or so) add the green onions, tomatos and cilantro. Cook until the noodles are done. Ladle into bowls and top with bean sprouts.

Serves 2 to 4.

Food free post.

I spent last night on the phone and IM'ing all over the place. Scott is still sick, so I cooked a frozen pizza for dinner. Tomorrow I'll have some food for you, promise. Look - pictures I took on the weekend.

Hey, why don't you go check out my links to other food bloggers? Maybe you'll find something new and delicious.

Wish list
Le Creuset Round French Oven
Cook with Jamie
Ceramic Slicer
Mango Pitter
Mesquite Flour
Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

Hey I can dream, right???

Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo! Wheeeee!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pumpkin. Every-damn-where.

We bought pumpkins for Halloween, but never got around to carving them. They sat on the floor of my parents hallway until November 2, then sat on our kitchen counter after that. They've been mocking me, dammit, like in this picture.

Enough was enough and it was time to either use them or toss them. Because in the past year I have discovered that there is more to pumpkin than just pumpkin pie (Scott doesn't think that is possible), I decided to cook and freeze the pumpkin flesh to use for baking and stuff.

How to bake a pumpkin.

Cut the pumpkin up into large but manageable pieces. Scrap out the seeds. Preheat your oven to 375' and bake the pumpkin until very soft, from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on size.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool.

When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the rind. Let sit until completely cooled.

Mash the pumpkin flesh or puree it in your processor. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

I had a lot of pumpkin. The bowl above, which is a pretty huge bowl, is holding about 8 cups of puree. That was about 2/3rds of the first pumpkin. Argh.

I froze the puree measured out in 1 cup portions. And I will not tell you how much puree is in my freezer, it's just too scary.

The magical fruit: A Work in Progress. Also, Grapples part deux

I am working on perfecting my baked beans.

Note, these are not burned. Just the pot is. It's my Emil Henry pot, by the way. First time I've used it. I think.

The basics of the beans - black beans, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, cumin, garlic, onion. These ones had too much garlic. Never thought I'd utter those words, but there you go.

Do you like baked beans? I like baked beans. Beans on toast is the BEST.

Also, I had a grapple for breakfast this morning.

It........tasted like an apple. But vaguely smelled like candy-grapes. Odd. And disappointing. I was hoping for something freaky, actually.

Here's a picture of our new plate set. A couple of you mentioned the side plate in comments on the cinnamon bun post, so I'm sharing for all the world to see.

Gah. Sorry, sucky post today. I'm tired and uninspired. Scott's sick. Damn snow.
NaBloPoMo - only 3 more days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The waiting is the hardest part : Tender Potato Bread

There are tons of food bloggers out there that I am in awe of and Tanna, the hostess of this month's Daring Baker challenge, is definitely one of them. She has a beautiful site, is articulate beyond belief, and! she chose a savory recipe for the challenge this month, bless her. They are my favorite.

From the book Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by the duo who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet (now there's a good pedigree!), Tanna chose Tender Potato Bread.

You start by boiling some peeled potatos until tender. The potatos are mashed, stirred back into the potato water, and then cooled.

The flour - both white and whole wheat is added, along with salt, yeast and butter.

Tanna mentions in her recipe that the dough is a very soft dough, and boy she was not kidding. I kept adding and adding flour. It looked futile for a while, but finally the dough became smooth and elastic. I set it aside to rise. Then something came up and I had to go out. So I tossed the dough in the fridge. A few hours later I came back to dough bursting out of the bowl and sticking to the side of my fridge. This dough was definitely a riser - unlike some other doughs I've made. I set the dough on the counter to warm up and scraped down the fridge wall.

Now a batch of this dough is enough to make a large loaf of bread plus one of the following: a smaller loaf of bread, 12 buns, or a piece of foccacia. I decided to make the buns.

But then - Tragedy! My lack of confidence in the kitchen had reared it's ugly head yet again and was biting me in the ass. I hadn't added enough flour to the dough. It was sticky, so sticky I could barely get it out of the bowl. There was no way I was going to be able to form the dough into buns. The dough was SO sticky that I couldn't even pat it out into an oval and then roll it up into a loaf of bread, as directed in the recipe. I just picked up the gloppy dough as best I could (lots stuck to the counter and me) and tossed it in the pan. I poured the other piece onto a baking sheet for focaccia.

After some more rising time I preheated my oven and finished up my focaccia. I sprinkled half the dough with basil and sea salt and the other half with chopped kalamata olives and pepperoncini peppers.

Both the loaf of bread and the foccacia were lovely - the bread is chewy and has a wonderful flavor. I messed up on the foccacia and didn't put parchment paper under the dough. That resulted in losing some of the divine bottom crust. Boo!

Head over to Tanna's to see the recipe here.

Thank you Tanna for the challenge this month!

You can check out the daring bakers blogroll if you want to read other people's potato bread stories. There's about 9 trillion of us now, so get comfy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cinnamon Buns Take Two: The Cinnamon Bunning.

You may remember the Daring Bakers project for September was Cinnamon Buns. You may also remember that I did not like mine at all. To say I was disappointed in my cinnamon buns from September would be an understatement. I looooooove cinnamon buns but those were a total failure.

Shortly after we posted I was approached by Lis and asked if I'd like to try another cinnamon bun recipe - a knock off recipe of Cinnabon buns. Hell yes I wanted to try!

Last weekend through the magic of Yahoo a group of us - Lis from La Mia Cucina, Mary of Breadchick, Laura Rebecca of Laura Rebecca's Kitchen, Chris from Mele Cotte, Kelly of Sass and Veracity, Marce and Pip in the City, Helene of Tartlette and myself all baked together. It was fun to chat with such great ladies and the advice that was shared was incredibly helpful.

These buns were goooooooooood. They were easy to make (as were the DB buns), but baked up much nicer. The texture was really nice. The cinnamon-sugar-margarine (sorry Lisa!) filling was flavorful. And the icing? Pure heaven.

You can read the recipe for these lovely buns here.

Thanks again to my cinnamon bun pals. Sorry for not posting yesterday as the rest of you did. See you tomorrow for Novembers Daring Baker post.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Grapples and Bog

At the store I came across Grapples in the discount bin. Have you heard of Grapples?

They are apples that taste like grapes. I am both horrified and curious. I'll let you know what I think.

Also, we got our first snowfall. *sob* To cheer myself up I made a big tall glass of my new favorite drink: Bog.

Baileys and Egg Nog.

And that, my friends, counts as a post today!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Things you don't want to find in your garden




Thanks to Dave for the photos.

Hmmm, what rhymes with dry? Oh! I know!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 22 Round up - $40 A Week

Sweet Potato Fried Rice from Pepper at Frugal Cuisine.

The round up for WCC 22 is up. Please go here for the reading.

Thanks again to Cady for hosting.

My friend Mike from Mel's Diner is our host for WCC 23. The theme for December is.....Celebration Dishes.

Get your post to Mike by December 23. His email is eatatmelsdiner AT gmail DOT com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Presto Pasta - Penne a la Vodka

Oh man! I'll tell you, NaBloPoMo is tough, especially if, like me, you are not a very interesting person. But still I persist! Which is hard after today. (I am really writing this on Tuesday night and am going to use the majic of blogger to post this tonight for tomorrow before I fall asleep.) There is much FRIEND DRAMA in Calgary tonight, involving multiple emailing to multiple people, and we are all - "Well she told me" and "When I talked to him he didn't say anything" and "I thought it was strange that she didn't email me back". O, the drama, people.

And today was a tough and busy day at my new job. So here I am, a girl in her jammies. Full of Tylenol and one (or two) drinks flopped in her chair with a heating pad. P-A-R-T-Y.

Now that I have whined and you have been sympathetic let me tell you about the latest pasta dish I made for Ruth's weekly Presto Pasta Nights!

I mentioned in this post that we'd invited my parents over for dinner last weekend. For our main course that night I made a dish that I've wanted to make forever, Penne a la Vodka. Much like the schnitzel I always thought Penne a la Vodka was a difficult dish. But it's not. It's no more time consuming or difficult than a basic pasta sauce, other than you need cream and vodka. And those are readily available ingredients, I have learned.

OK, this post is rapidly going downhill. Let's get to the recipe!

You can't really see the cute pasta bowl the pasta is in, but the pasta is in a cute pasta bowl which is part of a cute pasta bowl set. I'll post pictures of said set at a later date.

Penne a la Vodka

1/2 onion
4 garlic cloves
3 tb olive oil
796 ml can diced tomatos
1 lb penne
100 ml vodka
2 tb butter
4 tb cream
salt and pepper

Finely chop, by hand or in a food processor, the onion and garlic. Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatos, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Cook the penne in boiling water until done to your liking. Drain and pour the pasta into your warmed serving bowl. Add the butter to the tomato sauce and stir until incorporated. Add the cream and vodka and stir again. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss together. Serve with the cheese on the side.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Non recipe - Pork Schnitzel

Some dishes you really don't need a recipe for. This is one of them. The basics of Schnitzel - any kind - is that your chosen meat is pounded thin, seasoned, breaded and fried. I do not eat veal, so my preferred schnitzel is pork.

Last Christmas my office went out for big Christmas lunch at the Austrian Canadian Club in Calgary and I had the most fantastic pork schnitzel ever. It was so thin and so crisp I wanted to cry. Especially when my boss kept trying to steal bites off my plate.

It seemed like such a complicated dish to me; something you'd only eat out.

But why? When you think about it, it's pretty basic, isn't it?

Take a piece of pork tenderloin and cut it into rounds 1 1/2 - 2" thick. Place the rounds, one piece at at time, between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper and pound until flat and thin.

Heat a couple of inches of oil in a heavy pan over medium high heat. Dip each piece of pork into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Carefully place the pork into the pan and cook until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove, drain on paper towels and keep warm while you cook the remaining pieces.

Don't forget to squeeze fresh lemon juice over your schnitzel before eating!

Sunday, November 18, 2007 recipe of the week - Tiganopita me Feta

The round up for Weekend Cookbook Challenge #20 was full of yummy recipes - as are all of the the round ups - but Valli's contribution of Tiganopita me Feta - basically a baked pancake full of feta cheese really piqued my interest. How could it not? A pancake - and it's full of feta cheese!

I made this for dinner on a night when I was home a little earlier. After the eggs, flour and water are whisked together, the batter needs to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Then the feta is added and the pancake is baked for 30 minutes, until it's all golden brown and pretty.

Scott liked this much more than I did. I really think it was the type of feta that I used - it had a very very mild flavor. Too mild I think. The flavor was plain but this dish would be quite wonderful with a strong feta.

Recipe: Tiganopita me Feta.

A (small) Crapload (OK, 4) of Vegetarian Meals

Here's a short post of some meatless meals we cooked while staying with my parents last month.

Last Christmas I bought my Mom Food To Live By and was immediately jealous - what a great book! Then last month I received my own copy courtesy of Lis. I have the nicest friends!

When my father demanded that I make pizza for dinner one night - with the crust made from scratch - I turned to Food to Live By and their most fabulous pizza crust recipe.

If you have this book, TRY THIS RECIPE. It was one of the best pizza crusts I've ever had. We mixed pizza sauce with bbq sauce for the base, then topped them with mushrooms, tomatos, onions, and olives. YUM.

Also, if you have that book, make the creamed spinach. It is to-die-for.

We made fried green tomatos too - slices of green tomato were dipped in egg whites, then seasoned cornmeal, and then pan fried. My family members had theirs as a side dish with their hamburgers. I had a FGT burger. Double yum.

Below is the most beautiful Vegetable Biryani ever. My Mom found the recipe in a magazine. I must get it from her so I can make it again. It was heavenly.

A feast! I am counting down the days to Christmas, if only so I can unwrap my copy of Veganomicon that I have begged Scott to buy me. I found the recipe for Snobby Joes from the book on the PPK website. They were good, but the brand of chile powder my parents had bought was so bloody hot that this was close to being too darn hot to eat. It was served with my favorite roasted squash and roasted cauliflower with Indian BBQ sauce. Again With The Yum.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chocolate Rum Mousse

My parents have been so wonderful to us ever since we told them we wanted to move to BC. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives, and I am so glad to be back in BC and near them again. Now that we are in our house here in Kamloops we have issued a standing invitation to them for Sunday night dinner. To our horror delight they've accepted and this past Sunday was our first dinner with them.

I was going crazy trying to figure out what to make. Does that ever happen to you? I always have tons of recipes and ideas in mind for dinners until it actually comes time to plan, and then I can't think of anything. That happened this time too, until I grabbed one of my favorite books, Feast by Nigella Lawson. She's got a chocolate mousse cake in that book I've been wanting to make for ages. But I still haven't found my springform pans, so I made some changes and turned it into individual servings of mousse with meringue instead.

Chocolate Rum Mousse

makes 4 delightfully large servings


200g chocolate, chopped into pieces
50 ml rum
3 tb maple syrup
250 ml whipping cream

additional whipping cream for serving

Melt the chocolate with the rum and syrup in a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Whip the cream until it is barely at the soft peak stage. Fold the cream into the chocolate in 4 batches. Spoon into 4 dishes or cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

meringue - you can make this the day before, with the mousse, or a couple of hours before serving.

1 egg white
50 g sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder

Whip the egg white until frothy. Slowly add the sugar until the whites are at stiff peaks. Blend in the cocoa until smooth. Preheat the oven to 350'. Spread the meringue on a parchment lined baking sheet into a rough rectangle, 6" by 12". Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

When you are ready to serve dessert, remove the mousse from the fridge. Whip the extra cream with some sugar and vanilla, and spoon onto the mousse. Crumble the meringue into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the mousse and whipped cream.

Serve straight away.

No finished pictures, the camera crapped out once and for all. I couldn't even do a re-creation picture as we gobbled that dessert down in 3 seconds. But it was good. And pretty too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 22 - $40 A Week

As all of you regular or semi regular readers know, Scott and I picked up and moved from Calgary Alberta to Kamloops BC at the end of September.

Moving, selling and buying houses is expensive business. So I was primed and ready to go when the hostess of this months Weekend Cookbook Challenge, Cady of $40 A Week challenged us to stick to a food budget of $40 a week per person, and share a recipe from the week.

To stay under $40 a week per person, you have to average $5.71 or less per day. Not hard to do I think, but you certainly need to be creative. Here's how a couple of my days looked.


Breakfast - 1/4 of a fresh pineapple - $0.99 per person

Lunch - split pea soup, apple - $1.73 per person

Dinner - 2 pcs pizza from Costco - $0.67 (cheap!!!)

Total for one person $3.39


Breakfast - 2 eggo waffles, sliced strawberries - $2.10

Lunch - green salad $1.32

Dinner - small tray of veggie sushi $3.99

Total for one person $7.41


I decided for such a challenge I had to use one of my recently acquired books, Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking Volume 3 Bur-Buy. Quite frankly, most of the recipes in this book scare the pants off me. But one did catch my eye - Genoese Rice Balls.

I've had rice balls, also sometimes known as arancini, only a couple of times before. They are delicious, but not something I would have thought of as a budget meal. Turns out I was wrong. These are good and cheap too!

Genoese Rice Balls
adapted from Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking Volume 3 Bur-Buy

1/2 cup uncooked rice
3 oz salami, chopped
1 egg, separated
8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tb parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
oil for frying
1/2 tsp basil
salt and pepper

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Stir in the chopped salami, egg yolk, parmesan cheese and 1 tb of the tomato sauce. Shape into 6 balls.
Place the egg white on a place and beat until frothy. Carefully and gently roll each ball in the egg white, then in the bread crumbs. Chill the rice balls several hours or overnight.

Heat 2 or 3 inches of oil in a small pot over medium heat. Fry the balls, 2 at a time, until brown and crisp, turning once. Drain on paper towel and keep warm until all the balls have been cooked.

While the balls are cooking heat the remaining tomato sauce with the basil and salt and pepper. Serve the sauce on the side.

Here's the breakdown of cost for the recipe.

rice - $0.35
salami - $2.02
egg - $0.25
tomato sauce - $0.73
parmesan cheese - $0.47
bread crumbs - $0.12
oil - $0.50 - I just guessed this as if you were inclined, you could re-use the oil
basil salt and pepper- not included as it was such a small amount

Total for 2 people $4.44

Not bad at all for a fancy schmancy dinner!

WCC 22 is running until November 18 - so get your frugal eats to Cady at gambini at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 recipe of the week - hummus dressing

I have the world's largest container of hummus in my fridge right now.


That's 908 grams baby - just over 2 pounds of hummus.

Having parents with a Costco membership is both a blessing and a curse.

I'm eating it as fast as I can. Scott is helping a little, but he doesn't like hummus as much as I do. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to throw most of it away. And then last night before I started dinner I remembered that Kalyn had posted about salad dressing made of hummus in the summer. Brilliant! Exactly what I needed.

The dressing is incredibly simple - hummus, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I also added a couple of tablespoons of water to make the dressing a bit thinner.

I used the dressing on a salad of baby romaine lettuce, and chopped tomato, kalamata olives and peppers.

Hummus dressing - not just a pretty face. Full of vitamin C, iron, protein and fiber.

Recipe: Hummus Dressing.


When I posted on Saturday I included a picture of my sprouts that I was growing, pretty much because the picture wasn't blurry and that have been a novel thing on this blog lately. Both Deborah and Cris asked me to share some information about how I grew the sprouts.

There's really not much to tell. I've been growing sprouts on and off for years and years. I have always used Mumm's brand. They have starter kits which contain seeds, 2 pieces of netting and 2 rubber bands.

Basically you put a spoonful of seeds into a jar (like a large yogurt container or spaghetti jar) and cover the top with the mesh netting. You can also use cheesecloth in place of the netting. Secure it in place with the rubber band. Fill the jar half full of water and let it sit over night. The next day drain off the water and place the jar upside down at an angle, so the water can drain off. Don't forget to throw away any water that drains out of the jar. Leave the jar on the counter (it does not need to be in direct sunlight) and then twice a day rinse and drain the seeds. They should start to sprout in a day or two. Grow the sprouts until they are 2" or so long, and then you can start eating them. I prefer to grow small amounts at a time so the sprouts don't go bad before I get through them all.

You can also grow spouts the old fashioned way - in soil! Fill a small pot or even a margarine container with dirt, then plant seeds - like beet, broccoli, etc - quite thickly. When the plants have sprouted to 1 or 2 inches high, simply cut them off and eat them.

Sprouts are tasty and fabulous for you. You can add them to sandwiches and wraps, toss them into salads, or eat them just as is. When I have ready to eat sprouts my favorite breakfast is a flour tortilla spread with hummus and topped with chopped tomatos and fresh sprouts. Mmm-mmm!

For further reading and info:

Sprouting at home from Mumm's
Sprout People
Growing Sprouts for your health