Saturday, July 31, 2010

Strawberry Soupsicles

This is the last solution Chris found for our strawberry "problem." We decided to have this  strawberry soup for supper (Yup. We really did). It was brainless. You just blend.  We had a bunch leftover, so we poured it into a popsicle mould. The popsicles were awesome!

Strawberry Soupsicles
Adapted from

1 1/2 pounds (1200g) fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 cup (75 g) vanilla yogurt
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Blend Strawberries and yogurt.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pour whatever you don't eat into popsicle moulds and freeze it.

Pairs nicely with double fisting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stuffed Poblanos

I found some poblano peppers at the grocery store the other day and decided to stuff 'em. I winged it (sort of). I used Roberto Santibanez's recipe for ranchera sauce, but I improvised the stuffing.  I roasted and peeled the peppers before stuffing them as I'd seen in other recipes, but they kind of fell apart (which is why I photographed them in the baking dish). If I did this again, I would try stuffing the raw peppers. I made a ton of ranchera sauce and froze the rest in freezer bags, so making these for a weeknight meal will be really quick in the future. This was an easy and pretty tasty dinner. You can stuff peppers with a whole range of things from different meats to beans and rice. Here's what I did:

Ranchera Sauce
From Roberto Santibanez

3 pounds ripe tomatoes, roasted, peeled and cored (I used canned crushed tomatoes out of laziness and it still tasted good)
2 Serrano chiles
2 large garlic cloves
A 2-inch piece of Mexican cinnamon stick (I used a grocery-store cinnamon stick)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon sugar, or as needed

1. Combine tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in the food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent (4 minutes).
3. Add the tomato mixture and remaining ingredients. Simmer until slightly thickened (30 minutes).
4. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove cinnamon stick.

Julie's Stuffed Poblanos
Serves 2

2 poblano peppers
1/2 a small package of ground beef (or you can cook the whole thing and freeze the rest)
1/2 a small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup Ranchera sauce
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
Sour cream

1. Broil peppers until blackened. When they're done, wrap them in foil for about ten minutes. Peel the peppers, then cut a slit in one side and remove the seeds (this is when mine fell apart).
2. In a skillet, saute onion, garlic, beef, and seasonings until beef is no longer pink. Drain fat.
3. Stuff in-tact peppers with beef filling and cheese or roll beef and cheese up in less than in-tact peppers and secure with a tooth pick.
4. Pour ranchera sauce in a baking dish and nestle the peppers in the sauce. Top with remaining cheese.
5. Bake covered at 400F for about 20 minutes. Then remove foil and bake until cheese is bubbly.
6. Serve topped with sour cream, cilantro, and maybe some tortilla chips.

Pairs nicely with a Corona

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Post: Strawberry Freezer Jam

Here's part two of Chris' battle with too many strawberries:

Did I say strawberry freezer jam? Because I meant sugar jam with strawberries.

So, I had a few extra strawberries (see yesterday's post) and had already frozen some and made a pie. I decided to use the remaining strawberries to attempt making jam for the first time. The recipe, which I followed from the package of pectin, was wonderfully simple and it tastes delicious.

I had enough strawberries to make two batches. Now, we have enough jam to last the whole winter. No more wondering "what's really in this?" when I spread jam on my toast in the morning. Sadly, I'll know exactly what's in it: massive quantities of sugar.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
From the Certo package

2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
4 cups sugar (Yes. Seriously.)
1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
3/4 cup water

1. Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute.
3. Stir the boiling liquid into the strawberries.
4. Pour jam into containers, seal the tops, and leave for 24 hours.
5. Place containers in freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Pairs nicely with a diabetic coma.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guest Post: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

This is a guest post by my sous chef and better half, Chris. "Somehow" he found himself with far to many strawberries, so he's going to tell you how he dealt with them.

I am the kind of person who thinks about strawberry season all year long. When I was a kid I used to eat so many strawberries I'd get hives. Unfun as the hives were, they were a small price to pay for the juicy, delicious enjoyment of fresh local strawberries.

The other day, I stopped by a strawberry u-pick and was a little overzealous with my picking. The result was a kitchen full of strawberries slowly losing their freshness. I froze most. I made freezer jam (see tomorrow's post) with many others. And I also made this pie.

I've never made a lattice top pie before. I found this helpful clip for weaving the dough. In the video, the host rolls and pinches the excess around the edges. I too rolled and pinched, but it turns out I should have cut some of that excess because the resulting crust was big and dense.

I brushed an egg/water mixture on top to help it brown and watched excitedly as it did. I learned after that this makes for a tough crust.

The pie crust recipe is from Chef Dennis. It was quick and easy and worked well. Only after I had completed it did a notice his comment, " pie crust was not quite up to standards..." Oh well. The filling comes from Overall, we really enjoyed this pie.

Pie Crust
From More Than A Mount Full

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup chilled butter
1/4 cup chilled shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
5-6 tbsp of ice water

1. Cube the butter and shortening and keep cold.
2. Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse twice.
3. Add the butter and shortening and pulse a few times until crumbly.
4. Add 5 tbsp of ice water and run processor until dough forms. Add more water if the dough is too dry.
5. Form a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. The less the dough is handled the better. Refrigerate for one hour.
6. REPEAT RECIPE FOR TOP CRUST (or just double it the first time if you're braver than me)
7. Roll on a floured surface and transfer to pie plate.
8. Keep dough cold until you are ready to fill it.
9. Roll second dough thinly on a floured surface and cut into strips and weave onto the top of the pie.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Filling

3 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb
3 1/2 cups halved strawberries
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

2. Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
3. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes.
4. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Pairs nicely with an over-abundance of strawberries.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mini Crab Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Mayo

Well, lobster season ended here a little while ago, and the landlord lobster gravy train pulled out of the station. Thus, I was pretty excited the other night when my landlady knocked on the door with a pile of snow crab legs fresh off the boat and fresh out of the pot (snow crab season is not over--well, now it is, but it wasn't a few days ago). This was the first time I'd ever had fresh crab. It was delicious! So sweet and tender. As I extracted all the meat from the shells, I ate a ton. I didn't even wind up having a technical supper, I ate so much crab. The rest I put in the fridge to make crab cakes the following night.

I found a recipe on Epicurious that was pretty darn easy. The toughest--well, most time consuming--part, was grating a cup of parm reg with my microplane, so overall a pretty easy recipe. I listened to the commenters and adjusted the quantities of a few ingredients--mostly upping crab, decreasing cream cheese. I changed a couple of ingredients and I mixed up a quick cilantro-lime mayo to serve with them.

One thing I was wildly impressed with was how well these reheated. I finished them two days later for lunch and they tasted as good as they did when I first took them out of the oven. To reheat, I just threw them in the oven for ten minutes on 350F. These crab cakes were rich and tasty. They went perfectly with the sauce and I would definitely make them again. Especially if someone gave me free crab.

Tip: Snow crab freezes really well. That is, if you have any left over. Store it in a container or freezer bag with a little bit of brine (boil water and salt until salt is dissolved. Allow to cool and you've got brine!). Be sure to leave room in your container for the water to expand.

Here's the recipe:

Mini Crab Cakes
Adapted from
Makes 24

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano, divided
1 large egg
1-1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
4 tsp plus 4 tbsp fresh chives, chopped and divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 generous pinch cayenne pepper
10 ounces snow crab meat, coarsely shredded
1-1/2 cups panko
5 tbsp unsalted butter
Freshly ground white pepper

1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
2. Add egg and 1/4 cup of parm and beat until well blended.
3. Add yogurt, lemon zest, 4 tsp chives, salt, and cayenne. Beat until well-combined.
4. Fold in crab meat and chill.
5. Preheat oven to 350.
6. Toss together panko, remaining parm and chives, and pepper. Drizzle in melted butter and toss with a fork until crumbs are uniformly moistened.
7. Generously spray a mini-muffin pan with nonstick spray. Press about a 2 teaspoons of the panko mixture into each muffin cup. Fill cups with generous mound of crab mixture and top with more panko.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cilantro-lime Mayo

1 to 1-1/2 cups mayo
small handful cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 garlic clove, pressed
juice of half of a really juicy lime
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Chill until crab cakes are ready and serve on the side.

Pairs nicely with a glass of Riesling

Monday, July 26, 2010

Foraging for Edible Wilds

I'm so excited to show you this. I thought of posting about this way back in March when I started this blog. We finally got a chance to go to my family's cottage in Tidnish, Nova Scotia, on the weekend, which is where I find these wonderful things. I grew up calling them crow's feet, but it turns out they're actually called glasswort . These little guys grow in salty marshes in among the grass.

The other day, we swam (well, walked, really) across the river at low tide and picked a whole bunch to have with our surf and turf dinner. We were feasted on by mosquitoes while picking them, but it was so worth it. Crow's feet taste exactly how you'd imagine a green vegetable that grows in salt water would taste: delicious. They are perfect steamed with butter. There's a fibrous stem inside, so you can pull the green part off the stem with a fork. Or you can be serious about it and stick it in your mouth, close your teeth around the end and pull the stem out through your teeth.

Here's what to do:

Steamed Crow's Feet

As many crow's feet as you can find
Butter, butter, butter

1. Pick crow's feet from slimy marsh puddles that resemble primordial ooze. Do not fall in.
2. Feed the mosquitoes.
3. Swim across river while rinsing mud, seaweed, and gunk of the roots of the crow's feet.
4. In the kitchen, trim off roots and thoroughly wash crow's feet.
5. Scratch mosquito bites.
6. Steam for ten minutes or until crow's feet are tender and easily release from inner stem.
7. Slather with butter.
8.Chow down.
9. Scratch mosquito bites.

Pairs nicely with shooting pop cans off a stump with a pellet gun for dessert (that's just how we do it in my family).
Also pairs nicely with a steak and a lobster

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saskatoon Bars

I got very excited when I saw this recipe on Dinner with Julie. I grew up picking Saskatoon berries at the cottage for my Gramma to make jam and pies. If you've never tried these little beauties, they are sweet and juicy. They look similar to blueberries, but are a much darker purple colour. It takes a lot of hand-picked berries to make jam or a pie, so when we were kids, Grampa rigged up great little picking buckets by cutting the top third off two-litre pop bottles, punching two holes in the rim, and tying on a long string handle. That way you could hang the bucket around your neck and keep both of your hands busy picking berries.

When we moved into our current place last summer, I was thrilled to discover a great big Saskatoon-berry bush at the bottom of our yard. I had a bunch of berries in the fridge when I saw Julie's recipe, so I immediately whipped up a batch of these easy and tasty cookie bars. I also had a tub of raspberries that my Gramma had picked in her backyard, so of course I threw some of them in too. If you don't have access to Saskatoon berries, you can use blueberries. Saskatoon berries are so delicious, they're hard not to eat right off the branch, so  I could understand if you didn't have enough left by the time you started baking.

Saskatoon Bars

From Dinner with Julie

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups Saskatoon berries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup icing sugar
1 capful almond extract
1-2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Cream canola oil, butter, and sugar in a large bowl.
3. beat in eggs and vanilla
4. Add the flours and baking soda and stir until ingredients are just combined.
5. Spread 2/3 batter in a greased 10x15" pan.
6. Sprinkle an even layer of berries over the batter and top with globs of the remaining batter. The batter with spread as it bakes and you want some of the berries exposed.
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden around the edges and springy to the touch.
8. Combine remaining ingredients. Add as much milk as needed to achieve a drizzling consistency and drizzle over bars.

Pairs nicely with nostalgia and a great big glass of milk.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Day, Another Naanza

Happy Friday! Here's another quick supper brought to you by naan. Great for a day when you don't have a lot of energy to cook because you woke up thinking it was Saturday, only to find it was Thursday.

I'm becoming a real fan of adding stuff to your pizza (well, I suppose it's not your pizza, is it? I didn't make it for you and you didn't eat it. My pizza. Sorry.) after it comes out of the oven. Things like greens and oils, and salt and pepper. The raw toppings add a whole other dimension to the pizza. For this pizza I added arugula, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. It was excellent. Here's what I did:

Arugula and Tomato Bo-Naanza

naan (garlic naan is great for pizza)
pizza sauce
fresh mozzarella
cherry tomatoes, pre-roasted for about 30 minutes with olive oil, salt, and pepper
baby arugula
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Top naan with pizza sauce, mozza, and tomatoes.
2. Bake at 425°F until cheese bubbles (7-10 minutes).
3. Top with a bunch of arugula, a drizzle of oil, and some S&P.
4. Enjoy.
5. Relish the small number of dishes you have to do.
6. Put off doing dishes anyway.

Pairs nicely with a long day at work.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Raspberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Ganache

Here's panna cotta number three . Good GOD I love this stuff. Excuse another poorly lit attempt at sunset photography. I'm sure a quick google search of "how to take pictures at sunset" would rectify this problem, but who thinks of this kind of stuff when they're about to eat dessert? Not me!

This is another yogurt-based panna cotta which means it's completely healthy and there's no reason to worry about the cup of cream you're consuming. Well, quarter cup--unless you eat the whole batch, which I certainly wouldn't judge; I lick the pot (which is harder than you'd think). And no, math whiz, the cream in the ganache does not count. Nobody likes a know-it-all (Defensive? Me?).

Flavoured yogurt works just great here (just like I knew it would!). I might use part fruit yogurt and part plain Greek yogurt next time just to up the tartness a little. I also liked adding whole pieces of fruit as a nice little surprise for when you cut into it.

I really can't encourage you enough to try panna cotta. You don't need a silicone mould; you can just pour it into individual serving dishes and refrigerate it that way. Then you don't have to worry about getting it out of the mould in tact. And really, who cares what it looks like as long as you get to eat it.

Here's the recipe:

Raspberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Ganache
Makes 4-6 servings


Panna Cotta:
1 package powdered gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 cup raspberry yogurt
1/4 pint raspberries crushed with a tsp sugar
1/4 pint whole raspberries

200g white baker's chocolate
1 cup whipping cream

1. Bring cream, sugar, and vanilla to a simmer in a sauce pan.
2. While cream is heating, combine gelatin and water in a small bowl. Allow to soften.
3. Remove cream from heat and stir in gelatin.
4. In a bowl, whisk yogurt and mashed strawberries until smooth.
5. Whisk cream mixture into yogurt.
6. Pour into a silicone mould sprayed with non-stick spray.
7. Push 3 or 4 whole raspberries into each cup and refrigerate until set.
8. In a small sauce pan, bring cream to a simmer.
9. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Whisk until smooth and refrigerate.
10. To unmould panna cotta, very carefully run a knife around the very top edge of the mould. Gently pop out the panna cotta and invert on a plate. Serve topped with ganache and more raspberries.

Pairs nicely with... oh God, who cares?! I just want another one!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scallops with Grapes

Here's the second half of my Rachel's-trifle-esque dinner.

Not too long ago, I was driving to work and listening to Information Morning on CBC as usual. The food columnist was interviewing a restaurant critic who was making what sounded like a delicious dish: scallops with grapes. I scribbled the ingredients (there were only a few) on the back of a receipt and went to work. The other night, we tried them alongside bacon-wrapped pineapple.

This was a quick and easy dish. It was a little different, healthy, and kind of neat. It was quite tasty, but we were far more impressed with the bacon-wrapped pineapple. We also started taking bits of the bacon from the pineapple and eating it with the scallops. There must be some kind of magnetic force that pulls bacon and scallops toward each other. Anyway, this is a quick, light, and tasty summer meal which I would probably make again.

Here's the recipe:

Scallops with Grapes
From CBC's Information Morning
Serves 3

15-20 scallops
1 1/2 cup seedless green and red grapes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil (approx)
1 tbsp butter (approx)
1 small shallot, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet until oil shimmers and butter is melted.
2. Dry the scallops with paper towel and add them to the pan--in batches if necessary; don't crowd them. Cook on first side until caramelized. Flip and cook another minute. Remove scallops and cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Add shallot and a little more butter if necessary and saute until just browned (a minute or so).
4. Add grapes, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper. Saute until grapes are heated through.
5. Return scallops and any juices to the pan and stir to coat with sauce.
6. Add parsley and serve immediately.

Pairs nicely with a love for CBC Radio One.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bacon-wrapped Pineapple

Remember that Thanksgiving episode of Friends where Rachel makes the trifle? Well, you might think that's what happened to me if you saw what we had for dinner last night. Chris said it looked like I had mixed up a fruit salad and bacon-wrapped scallops. I made scallops sauteed with grapes, which I'll post tomorrow, and bacon-wrapped pineapple. I saw the recipe for bacon-wrapped pineapple on Tasty Kitchen and knew it was going to be good. Granted, anything you wrap in bacon has a 99% chance of being delicious. They were involuntary-moan-inducingly awesome. Amazing. Bacon-wrapped pineapple, where have you been all my life?

I did these in the oven, but you could easily do them on the barbecue if you have one (lucky you). I did find the bacon kind of stuck to the cooking surface. I don't know if oiling the surface would make much of a difference--bacon is so fatty on it's own--but I might try a little oil next time.

As far as skewers go, if you were serving it as a party appetizer, you could use toothpicks. If you were serving it at the table, you could use long barbecue skewers with four or five pieces per skewer. I wrap the ends of my skewers with foil to keep them burning (a great trick if you forget to soak them).

Here's the recipe:

Bacon-wrapped Pineapple
From Tasty Kitchen

Fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized chunks
Strips of bacon, cut in half
Brown sugar for dredging

1. Dredge bacon in brown sugar.
2. Wrap each piece of pineapple with a piece of bacon and skewer to secure. Place on a cooling rack over a jelly roll pan lined with foil (easy cleanup!).
3. Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes. Finish under the broiler if bacon isn't quite crispy yet.

Pairs nicely with--who cares! Just make this!

Monday, July 19, 2010

So THAT'S Fettuccine Alfredo

I have always thought that fettuccine Alfredo was revolting. That's because I've only ever seen it in the form of chain restaurant fair and jar sauce. I couldn't really even figure out what was supposed to be in it. Well, I came across Michael Ruhlman's Blog the other day. He's the food writer behind all of Thomas Keller's cook books (If anyone were to buy me The French Laundry Cook Book or Ad Hoc At Home, I wouldn't be mad. Just sayin'.), and he had a recipe for fettuccine Alfredo as part of a discussion of cooking real, simple, and delicious food. There are seven ingredients: cream, butter, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pasta. I liked all of them, so I decided to give it a go.

It's funny how fettuccine Alfredo sounds almost exactly like what little kids eat when they're in their I-don't-like-red-sauce phase. In fact, Ruhlman's recipe includes cream, which truly by-the-book fettuccine Alfredo does not. Little kids actually got it right!

The only modification I made to the dish was to serve it topped with some chicken that was pan fried with butter and garlic. I figured I should balance out the fat with at least a little bit of protein.

This dish was really tasty, though I'm not sure quite delicious enough to be worth consuming so much butter, fat, and white pasta (Just for the record, I'm not one to shy away from fat if it's only going to be replaced by crappy processed fake food. I'd much prefer a reasonable portion of a real ingredient with some nutritional value over just about any amount of unpronounceable food alternative any day. But even for me, this bowl of fat was pushing it just a little.) It would be a good dish to serve to little kids or picky eaters, I think. It doesn't reheat terribly well; it kind of breaks down into a puddle of butter and limp noodles, so only make as much as you'll eat in a single sitting. I do suggest that if you've only ever had "fettuccine Alfredo" from a jar or chain restaurant, to try this once. It's velvety and sumptuous and, despite its ingredients, strangely light.

Here's the recipe:

Fettuccine Alfredo a la Ruhlman with Chicken a la Julie
Serves 4-6


1 boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded flat-ish
1 tbsp butter (because there just wasn't enough in the pasta)
1 tbsp grape seed oil (has a high smoke point and keeps the butter from burning)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of garlic powder

1 cup cream
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 ounces butter, cut into a few pieces
4-6 swipes of nutmeg on a zester or grater
12 ounces fresh pasta
2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Heat oil and butter over medium-high.
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3. Cook chicken moving it as little as possible until well browned and cooked through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice.
4. Bring water to a boil. When it's boiling, salt the water and cook the pasta.
5. Meanwhile, in a pan that's big enough to accommodate the pasta, bring the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg to a simmer.
6. Reduce the heat and whisk in butter one chunk at a time.
7. Remove pan from the heat.
8. Drain the past and toss it with the cream.
9.Sprinkle most of the parm and toss pasta again to distribute the cheese. Add more cream or milk if it becomes too thick.
10. Serve sprinkled with remaining parm and topped with sliced chicken.

Pairs nicely with the third night of our Godfather marathon (Pure coincidence. Seriously).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Winning Combo #2

 Here's two more things that don't constitute a recipe, but they definitely belong together and I thought you should know (I look out for you like that):

Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese and Cranberry Hazelnut Rain Coast Crisps.

If I never wanted to make an appetizer again, I could just always bring this. Both products are a little pricey, but it probably works out close to the price of a dish you would cook (at least that's what I tell myself). I get the cheese at the grocery store, but the crackers I have to get at health food stores and fancy pants grocery stores. Now you know. You're welcome.

Pairs nicely with--I just told you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blueberry Muffins with a Touch of Lemon

I baked! Again! Muffins almost feel like they can't be baking because I find them way too easy. I used the same quickbread recipe that I used for the rhubarb loaf. I feel like I must be starting to understand baking because I very comfortably made a substitution for the buttermilk when it looked a little questionable. I replaced 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk, a 1/4 tsp vinegar, 1/4 tsp lemon juice. It worked like a charm. I also just kind of assumed that a massive quantity of high-bush blueberries (the big honkin' ones) would work. There were so many blueberries in a couple of muffins that the bottoms had a hard time supporting the tops. But really, if a blueberry muffin that's practically collapsing under the strain of its blueberries doesn't work for you, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. These muffins were moist and delicious and came together lightning quick.

Here's my recipe:

Blueberry Muffins with A Touch of Lemon
Adapted from Canadian Living
Makes 12 muffins

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint of high-bush blueberries
zest of 2 lemons

1. In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
2. In separate bowl, blend sugar with oil; whisk in egg, buttermilk, zest, and vanilla.
3. Stir into dry ingredients along with blueberries just until flour is incorporated. Spoon into muffin tins. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top of muffin batter.
4. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean.
5. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to let cool completely.

Pairs nicely with a Saturday morning when you want a quick breakfast so you can get yourself to the farmers' market.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ravishing Radishes

I got some beautiful radishes at the farmers' market mostly because of the colour. Then I had to find something to do with them. The only place I've ever seen them was in salads, but I wanted to make something else. A Googling of "radish recipes" yielded this recipe for radish and goat cheese raita. It contained things that were all in my fridge, so I gave it a go. It was pretty tasty. I added some lemon juice and pepper to give it a little more depth of flavour. Here's the recipe:

Radish and Goat Cheese Raita

200g of fresh, firm radish, topped and washed
300ml of rich natural organic yogurt
100 g of fresh soft goat's cheese
2 tbsp of chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1. Thinly slice radishes.
2. Whisk together yogurt and goat cheese.
3. Fold in radishes, lemon, and mint.
4. Serve with bread, crudites, or spicy food.
Pairs nicely with dippables.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gorgeous Greek Salad

This is the Greek salad I served with the pork souvlaki. It's my parents' friend Billy's recipe, and it's a fantastic summer salad for barbecues. Billy makes it with lettuce, but I decided to skip that part because traditional Greek salad doesn't have lettuce and because it just seems to take up space. The lettuce might come in handy, though, if you needed the salad to serve a big crowd. The recipe also calls for olives, and if I was making it for a crowd I might add olives, but Chris and I passionately hate olives, so I usually skip them. You could use jarred roasted red peppers, but I like to use fresh because it takes zero effort to make your own.

What really makes this salad sing, I think, is the mint. I don't know if most Greek salad calls for mint, but it brightens up the flavour incredibly. You can prep most of the ingredients ahead of time, but make sure you chop and add the herbs at the very last minute. Here's the recipe:

Billy’s Greek Salad

3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1½ tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, pressed
6 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, sliced
1 medium cucumber,thickly sliced(2 cups)
2 large tomatoes cut into 12 wedges
¼ cup loosely packed, freshly torn parsley
¼ cup loosely packed, freshly torn mint
1 roasted red pepper, cut into thick strips
20 large kalamata olives
5oz crumbled feta (1 cup)

1. Marinate onions and cucumber in dressing for 20 minutes.
2. Combine with other ingredients and serve.

Roasted Red Peppers
1. Cut peppers into quarters. Remove seeds and ribs.
2. Place under the broiler skin-side up on a foil lined baking sheet until the skin is thoroughly blackened.
3. Wrap tinfoil around peppers to keep heat and steam in. When cool enough to handle, peel off and discard blackened skin.

Pairs nicely with pork souvlaki

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pork Souvlaki and Tzatziki

Pork souvlaki is something I used to buy frozen. President's Choice makes really tasty frozen pork souvlaki, and it was a staple weeknight meal for us. I always thought that they seemed like something I could easily make myself, and I've been meaning to for a while. The other day, I looked around and found this recipe. Souvlaki is incredibly easy to make, and it's really tasty. It requires few ingredients and little time, and you can use the marinade for any meat. If you wanted to, you could definitely make your own frozen pork souvlaki. Just make way more than you need, skewer and freeze the rest in freezer bags. Or skip the skewers. Just freeze the cubed pork in the marinade and skewer it once it's thawed.

For these, we used Greek pitas which were a little dense. Next time I'd probably use pita pockets so that there's more emphasis on the meat than the bread. We topped them with diced tomato, red onion, lemon, and tzatziki. I served the souvlaki with a truly awesome Greek salad, which I'll post tomorrow. I did these in the oven under the broiler, but they're great on the barbecue too.

Here's the recipe:

Pork Souvlaki
Adapted from Greek food

2½ pounds of pork tenderloin, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
1 teaspoon of ground oregano
½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tablespoons of red wine (or good red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 lemons cut into wedges
Warmed pitas

1. In a bowl, toss together first seven ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Note: If using vinegar, the meat will taste too vinegary if you marinate for more than two hours. With wine, you can marinate up to two days as long as you use salt.
2. Thread meat onto soaked wooden skewers. Cover the exposed ends with foil to prevent burning. Six pieces of meat per skewer should result in about 12 skewers.
3. On a foil-lined pan, broil the meat turning until well browned, about 15 minutes.
4. Hold skewer in a pita and pull stick out of meat.
5. Top souvlaki with diced tomato, onion, lemon juice, and tzatziki.

From Kalyn's Kitchen
Makes 3 1/2 cups.

3 cups Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
1tbsp kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 tsp dried dill weed
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. In a strainer, combine cucumber and salt. Allow to sit for half an hour. Dry cucumber with paper towel.
2. Combine cucumber, lemon, dill, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse until fairly smooth.
3. Stir cucumber mixture into yogurt.
4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pairs nicely with a cold beer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Highland Hummus

Chris and I drove around the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the weekend. If you live in the Martitimes and you've never done the Cabot Trail, you really need to. Chris and I both grew up in Nova Scotia and went for the first time last fall (it is spectacular in the fall). We couldn't believe we'd never been and we vowed to go more often--hence this trip.

I had this brilliant idea that I would make some picnic snacks to take with us for lunch which would also give me something to blog about. I decided to make hummus. Now that I have a wonderful food processor, hummus is just about the easiest thing going. I was going to take a lovely picture of our fancy little picnic with the ocean and the mountains in the background just for you.

Well my plan was foiled. One thing about coastal regions of the North Atlantic: they're pretty flippin' windy. We couldn't put anything down on the picnic table without having to chase it across the grass. Then we heard what sounded like barking and decided we didn't want to stay and find out if it was a coyote (I'm only mildly paranoid). I decided to give up on my picnic shot, enjoy the glorious day, and make more hummus for you when I got home. In the mean time, we saw sights, hiked to waterfalls, swam at ocean inlets, dined at the Keltic Lodge, and poked around touristy shops.

Okay, back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Hummus: It's beyond me why anyone would buy hummus when it's this simple and delicious to make yourself. By the same token, I suppose it's beyond some people why I would use canned chickpeas to make hummus when I could use dried. Go figure. Anyway, I've got a few other hummus recipes up my sleeve, but this one is the basic one. Here's how I did it:


1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and pressed (more if you don't need to interact with other humans)
1 lemon, juiced (I squeezed every last drop out of a really juicy one)
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Dump it all in the food processor and process the bejesus out of it. Add a little water if it's too thick.
2. Taste and add a little more of any ingredient you deem necessary.
3. Serve with bread, pita chips, tortilla chips, veggies, or anything else you might like to dip in hummus.

Pairs nicely with high winds and rugged coastline.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mom's Brownies

I'm about to share with you my mother's amazing brownie recipe. Try to stay calm.

When we were in junior high and high school, my sister** and I used to run upstairs and mix these up on commercial breaks, bake them while the show was on, then run upstairs and get them on the next commercial and eat them hot out of the pan as a TV snack. Chris and I have done the same a few times. It's how I made this batch. I started at 11:00 pm.

When we were kids, there was always a battle for the corner pieces--generally initiated by my dad. Weird, because the corners are generally the driest. Anyway, I think that because of brownie corners, we grew up thinking that everyone's family would steal your dessert off your plate at the dinner table if you didn't keep two eyes on it at all times. Kind of weird when you try it at someone else's house only to discover that this isn't the case.

Here's the recipe. Now run. RUN to your oven!

Mom’s Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 1-oz squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup flour
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Melt butter and chocolate.
3. Blend in sugar
4. Blend in eggs one at a time (make sure chocolate mixture isn't too hot before you add the eggs).
5. Add vanilla.
6. Stir in flour and nuts.
7. Spread in a greased 8x8 pan (I used a 9x9, which is why my brownies are so skinny).
8. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

I topped these with chocolate butter cream frosting spiked with a little Bailey's (not a Mom recipe from high school incidentally).


1/2 pound butter, room temp
1-1/2 oz semisweet baking chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp Bailey's (taste it. You'll know when to stop)

1.Beat butter until fluffy add icing sugar until desired consistency is reached (you'll still have to add more).
2. Chop and melt chocolate in a double boiler. When chocolate is smooth, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Add chocolate, vanilla, and Bailey's to the frosting and beat until smooth.
4. Add more icing sugar until it gets back to the right consistency.
5. Frost your brownies and chow down. (I recommend not over-icing them like I did).

Pairs nicely with cravings and commercial breaks.

**Happy Birthday, Kel!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vanilla Chai Latte Panna Cotta

Here's my second attempt at panna cotta. It's truly beyond me why people don't have panna cotta every day of the week. It's so, so, so, so easy! It's also a great dessert for scorching hot summer days as it only requires about ten minutes in front of the stove and it results in a cool, creamy, refreshing treat. This time I built on a recipe from Dinner with Julie for chai panna cotta. I had a vanilla bean in the cupboard, so I threw it in the cream. When the panna cotta was ready, I tasted it without adornment and it was a little blah. Then I thought of things that are good on top of a latte. I added shaved semi-sweet chocolate and caramel sauce (the refrigerated ice cream topping kind). Then, after I took the picture, I thought of adding a dusting of cinnamon. This panna cotta went from okay to absolutely delicious.

If I do this again, and I think I will, I'll skip the skim milk altogether and replace it with more chai concentrate. Then the chai to dairy ratio will be more like a latte and hopefully have a little more kick.

Here's the recipe:

Vanilla Chai Latte Panna Cotta
Adapted from Dinner with Julie

1/3 cup skim milk
2/3 cup Tazo chai concentrate
1 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup sugar
1 package gelatin
1/4 cup water
semi sweet chocolate shavings
caramel sauce
cinnamon for dusting

1. Combine skim milk and chai concentrate in a sauce pan and heat to a simmer. Remove from heat. The chai can be made ahead. I made enough earlier to have a drink and have leftovers for the panna cotta.
2. Bring cream, sugar, and vanilla to a simmer in a sauce pan.
3. While cream is heating, combine gelatin and water in a small bowl. Allow to soften.
4. Remove cream from heat and stir in gelatin.
5. Whisk cream mixture into chai.
6. Pour into mould sprayed with non-stick spray.
7. Refrigerate until set. To serve, invert panna cotta onto a plate. Top with chocolate shavings, caramel sauce, and a dusting of cinnamon.

Pairs nicely with a cup of green tea.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cosmo Cupcakes

Okay, this is pretty exciting. I found this recipe for cosmo cupcakes on Tasty Kitchen. The concept is positively brilliant: just replace the water in the cake mix with your favourite mixed drink. I see peach schnapps in my cupcakes in the near future. Bailey's and coffee in your chocolate cake anyone?

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make them for my neighbour's 40th birthday party. These cupcakes just screamed fabulous and forty, which my neighbour definitely is. The appropriateness kind of ended there, though. There's just something a little incongruous about a barn dance and a cosmopolitan....

These cupcakes were good, but not out of this world. They were insanely sweet. I can't imagine eating two in one sitting. I feel like this is the beginning of something great, though. I will definitely keep trying ways to booze up my cupcakes.

One thing's for sure, though: licking the bowl is way more fun when there's booze.

Tip: keep a supply of cute dollar store plates, bowls, and trays to take to parties. Then, if you don't get your dish back, you haven't lost something that's really nice or part of a set. You're also giving something reusable to whoever winds up with the dish instead of creating waste. I learned this from my mom when we were in high school and going to parties. She had already lost most of her spoons to our lunch bags by that point.

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes
From Tasty Kitchen


4 tbsp Triple Sec
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
3 whole egg whites
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lime zest
1 boxed white cake mix, Duncan Hines
1 drop pink or red gel dye (optional)

2 sticks butter
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
1 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp Triple Sec
6 cups icing sugar

1. Stir lime juice, cranberry juice, and Triple Sec together.
2. Combine with remaining cake ingredients and beat until smooth. Add dye if desired.
3. Divide batter between 18-24 cupcake papers and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
4. For the icing, beat 2 sticks of butter until light and fluffy.
5. Add the juices, zest, and triple sec. Beat to combine.
6. Add the sugar gradually, until icing is spreadable and not runny.
8. Frost cooled cupcakes.

The recipe noted that you could choose to put all the drink ingredients in the icing, or just choose to highlight one and use a larger quantity. I might do this next time. The icing packed a bit of a wallop.

Pairs nicely with a big glass of milk and turning 40 with style.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pico de Gallo

Here's the recipe for Pioneer Woman's pico de gallo. Pico de gallo is easy and tasty. It's just a lot of chopping. Ree says that if you add some pico de gallo to mashed avocado, you've got guacamole. I tried this too. This guac is not quite as good as my regular recipe, but if you’re making pico de gallo anyway, it’s certainly serviceable.
My guacamole takes about 2 minutes to make in the food processor. This pico de gallo takes a lot more work because you’re finely chopping a lot of veggies, but you do wind up with two different dishes when you do it Ree’s way. I can definitely see this happening in the future.

Here's the recipe:

Pico de Gallo
From Pioneer Woman

4 whole roma tomatoes
2 medium shallots
3 whole jalapeno peppers
lime juice
salt to taste

1. Finely chop tomatoes, shallots, and jalapenos. Add to bowl.
2. Chop a bunch of cilantro and add to bowl.
3. Season with salt and squeeze juice of half a lime over mixture.

Pairs nicely with corn-based dippables.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tequila Lime Chicken

Now this is awesome. The recipe for this tequila lime chicken comes from Pioneer Woman and it is just delicious. Easy too. It involves a couple of brain cells because you have to plan ahead enough to marinate the chicken for at least an hour or so, but other than that it's pretty simple stuff. I did make one mistake: I forgot to add the oil to the food processor, so about an hour into marinating, I dumped some oil into the ziploc bag where the chicken was marinating, sealed it up, and squished it around. It seemed to work fine. We cooked it in a grill pan, but it would also be great on the barbecue.

I served the chicken topped with PW's pico de gallo (which I'll post tomorrow), avocado slices, tortilla chips, and sour cream. You could definitely slice this chicken up and put it on a salad, a creamy pasta (mmmm, that might have to happen), or in some sort of dish that involves wrapping it in a tortilla. It's got wonderful warmth and spiciness. Chris was a little wary of this dish when I was making it. I accidentally leaned over the food processor, breathed in some tequila fumes and almost fell on the floor. This did not increase his confidence, but in the end he was very vocal about how awesome it was.

Here's the recipe:

Tequila Lime Chicken
From The Pioneer Woman

3 whole limes, juiced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup cilantro
½ cup tequila
5 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese with peppercorns, grated
pico de gallo
sour cream
avocado slices

1. In a food processor, combine lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt, cilantro, and tequila. Process until fairly smooth. Add olive oil through feed tube until combined.
2. Pound chicken between sheets of plastic wrap until flattened. Place chicken and marinade in a bag and marinate for a few hours and up to overnight.
3. Oil grill pan and heat to medium high. Cook chicken on both sides until cooked through.
4. Top chicken with cheese and place grill pan under broiler until cheese is bubbly.
5. Serve with pico de gallo, sour cream, avocado slices, and tortilla chips.

Pairs nicely with a Corona.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pomegranate Mousse Cake

Have you ever bought something off the TV? You're watching an infomercial and Billy Mayes (rest in peace) just absolutely captivates you with his Mighty Putty, or Vince somehow manages to convince you that chopping garlic isn't fun (I love chopping garlic) and that you need a Slap Chop? Or you finally listen to Chuck Norris' advice and buy the Total Gym?


Well, me neither, but I now understand what it feels like to be staring at the screen while your hand, completely independent of your brain, picks up the phone and starts dialing. In my case, though, my hand was getting out pots and turning on burners as I stared at (and drooled on) my computer (which just happened to be in my kitchen...).

My infomercial was for Pomegranate Mousse Cake (I know. Your hands are starting to twitch).

I saw the recipe on Chef Dennis' blog a few days after POM pomegranate juice was on 2 for 1 at the grocery store and a few more days after Chris had gone to the store for a teeny tiny carton of heavy cream and come home with a litre (all they had). In a moment of what I can only describe as serendipity, I pretty much had all the ingredients for pomegranate mousse. The recipe starts with making a pomegranate reduction and then a pomegranate curd. Reductions are brainless, and I had made lemon curd before, so I figured I could handle pomegranate curd. It's pretty much exactly the same as lemon curd.

At this point, I wasn't planning to make the cake, I was just planning to make a big bowl of mousse and serve it in dessert bowls drizzled with the pomegranate syrup recipe I'd found on Tasty Kitchen the day before (or just sit in front of the TV with a mixing bowl in my lap and lick it off my spatula until it was all gone). The recipe for the reduction called for pomegranate liqueur, which I didn't have, so I subbed in Triple Sec, which I think worked just fine. The mousse called for one-and-a-half packets of gelatin. I had half a packet kicking around, and since I wasn't making the cake I figured this would be fine.

The curd was easy--just a lot of whisking over a double boiler. It took longer than Chef Dennis suggested (closer to 20 minutes than 5-7), but the bowl I used wasn't perfectly round, so I think a lot of heat from the water was escaping. That, or my heat was too low. In any case, it came together without much trouble.

The mousse was just as easy: Make whipped cream. Fold in curd. At this point I realized that Chris and I could not possibly eat that much straight mousse. I really wasn't in the mood to bake a cake. Also, I didn't have the right sized cake pans to do what I wanted, and I was getting kind of tired (this whole project had started at about 8 pm), so Chris went to the grocery store and bought a little white pound cake.

The pomegranate syrup was just another reduction except it involved a few more ingredients than the first one. I took it off the heat before it was completely reduced and brushed some on the layers of pound cake. Then I boiled it down to a caramel-like consistency to drizzle on top.
Here's where the half packet of gelatin started to matter. Mousse is not sturdy enough to support three layers of pound cake on top (maybe I should have gone with angel food cake now that I think about it...). It also starts to soften outside the fridge, and despite how quickly I was working, it rapidly started to look like the leaning tower of mousse cake. Thinking quickly, I stuck in a few wooden skewers to stabilize things. As you can see, it wasn't the prettiest cake, but making the components was pretty easy and, hot damn, was it ever delicious! I`m a little proud of myself for this one despite the lean and the store-bought pound cake (I'm only one woman!).

Here's the recipe:

Pomegranate Mousse
From More Than A Mount Full


For Reduction:
32 oz pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful)
2 oz pomegranate liqueur (I subbed Triple Sec)

For Curd:

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup pomegranate reduction

For Mousse:
4 1/2 tsp (1 1/2 packets) powdered unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
3 cups pomegranate curd (I don't know how much I made, but I used all of it)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar

1. Reduce POM down to ten ounces and add pomegranate liqueur. Allow to cool.
2.Whisk together all curd ingredients except butter in a heat-proof bowl until well combined.
3. Place bowl over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water, and whisk in butter a little at a time as the mixture heats up (Do not let it boil!). Allow curd to cool.
4.Place gelatin in a bowl with water and let it sit until all the water has been absorbed. Heat gelatin in the bowl over simmering water until it dissolves into a clear liquid.
5. If curd has cooled down too much, warm it back up over simmering water. Whisk in gelatin until well combined. Set aside and allow to cool to room temp.
6. Whip cream until medium peaks form, gradually adding sugar as it stiffens.
7. Gently fold cream into curd until just combined. If you over mix, you'll ruin it. Chill.

Pomegranate Syrup
From Tasty Kitchen

1 cup pomegranate Juice
½ cups honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter
1. Boil gently in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until reduced by half (I took some out before it had reduced all the way to brush the layers of cake).
To assemble the cake:
1. Brush cake layers with syrup, and spread an even layer of mousse between stacked layers.
2. Cover the outside of the cake with remaining mousse and drizzle with pom syrup.
3. Garnish with pomegranate seeds if you have them, or raspberries if you don`t.
4. Keep in the fridge.
Pairs nicely with late night trips to the fridge with a fork.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Peach Chutney

There's a woman named Anu at our farmers' market who makes the most incredible Indian chutneys. They are truly special. The other day, I needed one peach, so I sent wonderful Chris to the store and he came back with a big box of peaches because they weren't selling them individually. I needed to find something to do with the rest, so I decided to use some to make chutney.

I googled around for ginger peach chutney recipes hoping to approximate Anu's and found this recipe. It was easy to make and it tasted good. Definitely serviceable, but it paled in comparison to Anu's recipe. I think there may have been too much vinegar. I would serve this to company without question and Chris and I ate it on our bagels for days, but I will continue the search for a truly amazing chutney. In the mean time, I'll just keep buying from Anu.

Here's the recipe in case you don't live near Anu:

Peach Chutney
From Canadian Living

Ingredients :
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
8 cups sliced peeled peaches
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup cider vinegar

1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onions and spices, stirring often until onions are softened (about 5 minutes).
2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered stirring often until reduced to 8 cups and thick enough to pile on spoon (about 1 hour).
4. Cool and serve.

Pairs nicely with a bagel and goat cheese.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rhubarb Loaf

 I bought some rhubarb at the farmers' market last weekend and used some of it to make a strawberry-rhubarb galette. I still had a bunch left afterward, so I searched around for recipes and found one for rhubarb muffins or loaves. It looked good, and I had recently inherited a silicone loaf pan from Chris' grandmother, so I opted for a loaf.

I don’t care what the recipe said; this is cake. Not bread. Not muffins. Cake. Delicious cake.

I made a bunch of mini muffins (cakes) with the little bit of extra batter. I didn’t take a picture of them because I ate them all while the loaf (cake) was cooking (oops!). This was my first ever loaf (cake) and it was really easy. Baking is becoming less and less scary with every attempt. Maybe I can keep trying stuff as long as I make sure I always have two times everything I need so that I can screw up the measurements once.

Here's the recipe:

Rhubarb Loaf (cake)
From Canadian Living

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1. In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
2. In separate bowl, blend sugar with oil; whisk in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.
3. Stir into dry ingredients along with rhubarb just until flour is incorporated. Spoon into greased loaf pan.
4. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean.
5. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to let cool completely.

Pairs nicely with a glass of skim milk and a little butter.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Avocado Club

You might notice that a little redesign happened here. I wanted to make things a little more reader friendly. I welcome any feedback or suggestions.

On with the blog:

If Chris hadn't married me, he might have married a clubhouse sandwich. For probably the first year we dated, it was the only thing he would order if we went out to eat. Just in case you're in the Maritimes and looking for a great club, here are some sandwiches that get Chris' official stamp of approval:

Your Father's Moustache in Halifax, NS
Gahan House in Charlottetown, PEI
Snow Queen Family Restaurant in Antigonish, NS

I found a club recipe recently that sounded great. Actually, it was a BLT recipe on Epicurious that replaced mayo with an avocado spread. Add chicken and cheese to a BLT and you've got a delicious club. So we did. We used three slices of bread per sandwich for the sake of traditionalism, but you could easily make this sandwich with only two slices.

This sandwich was awesome. Chris ranked it among the top clubs he's had. Here's how we did it:

Julie and Chris' Awesome Avocado Club
Adapted from
(Serves 2)

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
4-6 slices bacon
6 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
1 roma tomato, sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2-8 leaves any lettuce depending on size
6 slices aged cheddar
1 extra ripe avocado
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp chili powder

1. Lay chicken breast between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound flat and season with garlic powder, pepper, and half the salt.
2. Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Brown chicken on both sides until cooked through. After chicken has rested, thinly slice it.
3. In the same pan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
4. In a food processor, combine avocado, lemon, chili powder and remaining salt. Process until fairly smooth.
5. Toast bread and spread avocado mixture on each slice.
6. Layer ingredients and skewer each sandwich with four toothpicks. Cut into quarters with a serrated knife and serve.

Pairs nicely with a cold beer and a refined clubhouse palate.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From Accidental Omelettata to On Purpose Frittata

Happy Canada Day! If anyone needs me, I'll be relaxing with a cold beer, hopefully on a beach (wait, that's illegal).

So since I realized that what I thought was simply a perfected omelette was actually a frittata, I've been thinking about frittata possibilities and actually making one on purpose. The other day, I knew I had a lot of half used produce in the fridge that was nearing its expiration and a bunch of eggs, so I planned a frittata for dinner.

This was supposed to be a quick and easy dinner after a really scorching day in a hot stuffy office. And it was, sort of. Let me explain.

I had five eggs and a giant non-stick frying pan that would be way too big for a frittata with only five eggs. Chris and I have amassed quite a collection of frying pans in the 4+ years we've been together. Actually, part of the reason I knew Chris was the person I should marry was that only a couple of months into our relationship, he understood that I considered a Paderno frying pan to be a sweet and thoughtful gift for my 22nd birthday. Three birthdays later, he got me a teeny, tiny one-egg non-stick frying pan, which I use ALL THE TIME to make breakfast or saute half a shallot.

Anyway, the more into cooking I've gotten over the past few years, the more specific my needs (who am I kidding? Wants) have become in terms of pans. Since then, my wonderful parents have birthday and Christmas gifted me just about every pan a home cook could possibly need.

But I live in an apartment. By apartment standards, we have a wonderful kitchen with loads of counter space and plenty of cupboard space for someone who's not a cooking fanatic and doesn't have 8 kinds of noodles saved for a noodly day. But I am a cooking fanatic, and I do have eight kinds of noodles saved for a noodly day, so I have completely run out of cupboard space (I would give up some of the noodles for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer in a snazzy colour. Just sayin').Thus, three of my frying pans had found their way to the deep, dark depths of our six-foot-deep, busting-at-the-seams storage closet.

As we drove home from work, Chris and I debated the merits of stopping at the grocery store for more eggs, or making individual frittatas in my teeny, tiny pan. I was too tired (read: lazy) to stop at the store, but by the time we got home (about one minute), I didn't want to use the teeny tiny pan. I wanted to make a big frittata that you cut up like a pie because I have a blog that needs a picture of a big frittata. I looked half-heartedly in the front quarter of the six-foot-deep, busting-at-the-seams storage closet, then sadly went to the kitchen to start making stupid little frittatas.

But then wonderful Chris, who had just spent the day substitute teaching grade seven math to a bunch of students who would rather be anywhere but math class on a hot June day (which is like herding mosquitoes), dug all the way to the back of the closet and got out my birthday Paderno frying pan--the perfect-sized pan for a blog-worthy, five-egg frittata picture. So what I'm saying here, albeit long windedly, is that it was quick and easy dinner after a really scorching day in a hot, stuffy office for me. And Chris is great.

Wow that's a lot of off-topic talk for a post about stirring some eggs and veggies and cheese in a pan. Frittatas are easy. I will definitely be making more of these for dinners. I used asparagus, garlic scapes, leeks, tomatoes, cheddar, fontina, and fresh dill. Overall, we both enjoyed this very much, but I would probably use asparagus for something different before I'd put it in a frittata again. It kind of dominated the eggs. The dill was also a little overpowering, so I might skip it next time. I imagine a leek, tomato, cheese, and garlic scape frittata would be just about perfect.

One more thing before I give you the recipe: I've read here and there that cold and room-temperature frittata leftovers are tasty. I saved a piece to test that assertion for breakfast the next day. Verdict: cold frittata=gross. Sorry, but no.

Here's the recipe for a tasty, slightly dilly, HOT frittata:
Weeknight Asparagus Frittata

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced
5-7 asparagus spears, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
1 garlic scape, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp fresh dill
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Heat oil over medium-high. Add veggies and cook until softened.
2. While veggies are cooking, whisk together remaining ingredients.
3. Add egg mixture to softened veggies and cook over medium heat until the edges of the frittata are set.
4. Place pan under broiler until eggs are set and the top is browned (3-ish minutes?).
5. After frittata has cooled for a minute, loosen the edges with a spatula and slide it onto a plate.
6. Slice and serve.

Pairs nicely with long windedness and weeknight levels of kitchen effort.