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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Wonderful readers,

After much hemming and hawing, I've decided that it's time to stop writing Recipe for Delicious. I can't tell you how much fun I've had over the past five months cooking, writing, and talking with you, but I've realized that I just can't keep it up for two reasons:

1. Starting today, I'm going to be a full-time bachelor-of-education student in addition to my job. While I'll still be cooking up a storm (we have to eat!), photography and writing time will now be homework time.

2. I'm kind of addicted to this blog and I'd like to spend more time doing other things. I'll still be reading your wonderful blogs--they're all bookmarked and a part of my morning web browsing--but I need to play outside more and get back to reading the shelves and shelves of books I've neglected.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is trying a few of the recipes I've found and invented in the last few months for the second time. We haven't had the same meal twice in ages! I've learned an incredible amount about cooking, baking, photography, networking, and writing. I know some of these skills will come in handy when I'm teaching high school. I'm already dreaming up ways to incorporate cooking and online publication into my classes. If you're a reader who's been thinking about starting your own blog, do it! It's so much fun and it's a great way to nurture your creativity and meet wonderful people who share your interests.

Thank you so much, readers, for your contributions to this blog through your comments, emails, and your own blogs where I found recipes and inspiration. Thank you to my family and friends who encouraged me to start this project. Thank you to my guinea pigs who ate the gourmet triumphs and the epic failures. Thank you Chris for doing so many dishes, taking pictures, sharing in my excitement, trying everything, and pretending that a big bowl of booze-soaked carrots is a balanced dinner.

I leave you with the recipe for my favourite cookies in the whole wide world. Enjoy.

Gramma's Chocolate Drop Cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa mixed with hot water to form a paste
2 cups flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Blend together butter, brown sugar, egg, and cocoa paste.
Sift in flour, baking soda, and baking powder
Blend in milk and vanilla.
Stir in nuts.
Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes.
Cool and ice with white icing .

Gramma's white icing

Ingredients:
A little butter
A little milk
A little vanilla
Some icing sugar

Instructions:
Combine. You'll know when it's ready.

Pairs nicely with gratitude, new chapters, and a cold glass of milk.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mom's Tea Biscuits

Go preheat your oven to 450°F. Right now. Go!

While your oven heats, let me tell you that these are the greatest biscuits in the world. My mom always makes them when she makes homemade turkey soup. They are light and flaky and delicious. They make me think of my family squished around the table in the kitchen of the house where we grew up eating off the table that's now in my apartment from stoneware dishes that have retired to the cottage. The table got squishier as we got older, but the biscuits stayed the same.

As a terrible baker, I used to screw these up pretty consistently. As a kid, I remember adding 3/4 of a tablespoon of salt rather than the teaspoon. Those were gross. As an adult, I mixed up the cream of tartar and the baking powder. Luckily those never made it into the oven. Even if you have to start over again once you screw up the measurements, these are worth it. Plus, now that I'm getting over my baking phobia, I'm actually getting these right on the first try. They're pretty easy unless you're bake-a-phobic or a little stunned like me. The most important thing about this recipe is that you don't overwork the dough. You should handle it as little as humanly possible. Overworking will result in little hockey pucks. These are really quick too. My mom would put them in the oven once she added the potatoes to the soup (last ingredient), and they would come out of the oven right when the soup was ready to serve.

Okay, your oven's probably not quite heated, but you can start getting your ingredients together now. Enjoy!

Mom’s Tea Biscuits
Makes about 14

Ingredients:
3 cups flour
4½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cream of tartar
2½ tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
3/4 cups butter
1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup milk

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F
2. Sift together dry ingredients.
3. Cut in ¾ cup butter
4. Add egg and milk and stir until dough just comes together.
5. Turn out onto a floured surface.
6. HANDLING AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, barely roll it out and cut with a floured cookie cutter or drinking glass.
7. Bake on  an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 minutes.


Pairs nicely with my mom's turkey soup or just some butter.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Corn on the Cob Two Ways

I learned an amazing corn-cooking method from my mother-in-law. All you do is husk the corn and wrap each cob in plastic wrap. Punch some wholes in the plastic with a fork, and throw it in the microwave on high. Cook for two minutes, plus one more minute for each additional cob. For example, I would cook four cobs for 6 minutes. This method is great for a few reasons: 1.) it's brainless; 2.) it doesn't involve any additional fat but tastes A-MA-ZING, 3.) if you leave the cobs in the plastic wrap, they'll stay hot, hot, hot for quite a while, so you can make them at any point during meal prep.

Well, Chris looooves corn, but as you may know, we've stopped using a microwave, so this method was out of the question. Luckily, I recently found a wicked recipe on Siggy Spice's Blog. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it: if you want creamy, buttery corn, cook it in cream and butter.  We whipped this up the other night and it was creamy and delicious. I think I still prefer the corn unadorned, though. Cooking it with the milk and butter in the water took away some of the lightness that I love. If I had a choice between a pot and a microwave, I'd go with the microwave. Or just water without the cream and butter.

Anyway, now that you know my recipe, try Siggy's too and see which method you prefer:

Siggy's Corn on the Cob

Ingredients:
6-8 ears corn, husks and silk removed
water
1 cup milk (Siggy recommends whole but we had skim)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter

Instructions:
1. Fill a pot big enough for your corn half full with water--make sure it's enough to cover all the corn.
2. DO NOT SALT THE WATER! Siggy explains that salt will draw out the corn's moisture and make it bitter.
3. Add butter, milk, and sugar and bring to a boil.
4. Add corn to boiling pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 8-10 minutes until just tender.
5. Remove corn from the pot and serve with butter and salt.


Pairs nicely with those little corn pokers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chai Ricotta French Toast

After a couple of attempts, I figured out chai French toast. In our first French toast adventure, Jannette had mentioned adding chai to drained ricotta, so that's what I did. I used the Tazo pre-made stuff because it has a really strong flavour. I also added some chai concentrate to the egg mixture. This sort of worked. There must be a lot of sugar in the chai because the bread got kind of burnt looking. It tasted fine, it just got really, really dark. One thing I learned is to stuff the bread with way more filling than you think it can handle. Really pack it in there. I used a cake decorator to get it in there. Whack it down on the counter when it seems full, then add some more filling. This was a really decadent breakfast that I will certainly make again.

Here's the recipe with approximate measurements:

Chai Ricotta French Toast
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 pieces raisin bread, sliced into 2-inch thickness
4 eggs
3/4 cup chai concentrate, divided
1 small tub of ricotta, well drained
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced peaches
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp sugar
maple syrup
whipped cream

Instructions:
Stir sugar and fruit together and set aside.
Stir together ricotta, icing sugar, and 1/2 cup of chai until well combined.
Cut a pocket into bread. Stick your fingers in to open it up, then add filling using a cake decorator.
Beat together eggs and remaining chai.
Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture for about 30 seconds.
Cook bread in an oiled skillet over medium to medium-high heat until well-browned on each side.
Serve topped with fruit, maple syrup, and whipped cream.


Pairs nicely with a cup of blueberry green tea.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cucumber Dill Canapés

Here's a tasty little appetizer that is nice and light and summer-y. Chris's Aunt Bernice and cousin Gill often make these or something like them when they come to visit. I saw this recipe the other day on Tasty Kitchen and thought I'd give it a try to use up the cucumber in my fridge. I made one slight modification, which was to use those Grisol toasted baguette rounds rather than fresh bread because I wanted some crunch. Oh, and I halved the recipe here because the whole recipe makes like a million. I'm still eating the (delicious!) leftovers for lunch two days later. If you like dill, you'll like this recipe. Here it is:

Cucumber Dill Canapés
From Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients:
Half of an 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1-2 tbsp dry Italian style salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 box baguette rounds or melba toast rounds
1 whole cucumber, sliced

Instructions:
1. In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dressing mix, dill weed, and mayonnaise.
2. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on each slice of bread and top with a slice of the cucumber. Cucumber can be cut into thin strips instead of slices when it’s for something fancy with a carrot peeler.
3. Sprinkle with some additional dill and serve.


Pairs nicely with fingers and a cocktail napkin.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bruschetta

I brought this bruschetta to a spaghetti dinner at Geoff and Steph's recently. It's an easy and tasty appetizer that requires few ingredients but has tons of flavour. I like to keep bruschetta simple, but I find a splash of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano really bring it to life. Here's my recipe:

Julie's Bruschetta
Makes about 30 toasts

Ingredients:
9 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
20 basil leaves
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 baguette, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

Instructions:
1. Toss together tomatoes, garlic, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
2. Brush baguette slices with remaining olive oil and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. When baguettes are just about cooked, stack basil leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Slice thinly and toss with tomato mixture.
4. Pile 1 tbsp of the tomato mixture on each toast and sprinkle with parmigiano.
5. Serve immediately.


Pairs nicely with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Easy and Amazing Stuffed Chicken Breast


This delectable stuffed chicken breast came out of my freezer!

I made a couple of these one night because I had made too much of the filling, took a gamble, and stuck the extra one in the freezer. Chris took one bite and immediately commented that it did not taste like it had spent two months in the freezer. Success!

I have a theory that you can stuff a chicken breast with pretty much anything. One time I had some leftover Boursin cheese spread. That on its own was delicious in a chicken breast. Whatever you stuff it with, make sure you thoroughly salt and pepper the outside of the chicken first.

The filling of this chicken combines my favourite things: red pepper, spinach, goat cheese, and garlic. A recipe for happiness.

There are a few methods for stuffing chicken. I've tried the pounding method with little success. It's messy, time consuming, and hard to get the filling to stay in. To use the pounding method, you really need boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I like to use bone-in, skin-on breasts because they stay moist and flavourful, and still look like chicken breasts after cooking. With the bone-in, skin-on breast, the best method is the pocket method: take a paring knife and cut a pocket in the thickest part of the breast. Stick your fingers in there to really open it up. Jam the cooled stuffing in there, bang the breast on the cutting board a couple of times, and shove in a little more stuffing.

Other times, I've soaked wooden skewers in water and sewn the pocket shut before cooking. I didn't skewer this one when I stuck it in the freezer; I just pulled the chicken skin over the opening thinking it would freeze in that position. I was sort of right. I cooked it without a skewer, and while some of the filling kind of oozed out in the oven, I didn't lose any to the pan. I might use skewers if I was making it for company, but maybe not if I just came home from work.

When you brown the chicken, make sure you start by placing the breasts skin-side down in the hot pan pan. By placing it skin-side down first, you're making sure the side that will be presented on the plate is browned in a clean pan so it looks the prettiest (thank you Martha).

Here's the trouble I usually encounter: if there's too much oil in the pan when you throw it in the oven (there usually is), it smokes up the whole house. I've tried using oils with higher smoke points, but it still happens. I've also tried accepting the smoke and opening the windows and waving at the smoke detector. The lesson is, use very little oil in your pan. Or, transfer the browned breasts to a baking sheet to put in the oven. The trouble with not cooking it in the pan is that it makes making a delicious pan sauce more difficult. Maybe just set the chicken aside after you've browned it, wipe the excess oil out of the pan, then toss the chicken back in and throw it in the oven.... I'll try that next time.

This is the easiest and most impressive way to cook chicken. You can also toss quartered baby potatoes in oil and whatever seasonings you like, and cook them in the same pan as the chicken.

Here's the recipe (it's long, but I promise it's uncomplicated):

Julie's Easy and Amazing Stuffed Chicken Breast
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups spinach
¼ cup unripened goat cheese
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
½ cup chicken broth (the lower sodium the better)
¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Soak 2 wooden skewers in hot water. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.
4. Add red pepper and shallot and cook until softened.
5. Reduce heat to medium and add spinach and garlic.
6. When garlic is wilted, stir in goat cheese and let it melt.
7. Set filling aside to cool.
8. Cut a pocket into the thickest part of the chicken breasts. Fill with stuffing and sew shut with wooden skewer. Or simply pull skin over the pocket.
9. Thoroughly salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.
10. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over high heat. Sear chicken, skin-side down first, until well browned. When chicken lifts easily from pan, flip and brown the other side.
11. Wipe excess oil out of the pan, place skillet in oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 160°F –about 25 minutes (make sure you’re measuring the temperature of the chicken, not the filling).
12. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
13. Put pan back on burner and heat over medium high. Pour in ½ cup chicken broth and scrape up brown bits. Add wine and lemon juice and allow sauce to reduce.
14. When sauce has reduced by half, stir in butter.
15. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.


Pairs nicely with a ten-dollar bottle of white wine.