31.5.10

Catching up on Life

Oh, did I tell you that I got a job?  Yes, moi, the ultimate entrepreneur now has a regular nine to five.  I'll be packing my lunch, walking to work and sitting in the sun during my breaks.  Today is my first day.  I am in the office at Re/Max.  I know, I wanted to get away from real estate but it seems to be what I know best.  Some value in knowing that, I guess!  But no more 12 hour days, 7 days a week, no life.  I now have a regular paycheque albeit it is small!

I can feel that life is slowing down.  There is hope that I can fit my life into one bankers box for the year.  But that is yet to be proven.  It is only May after all.  Okay, two boxes.  Even that is amazing.





I have been saving a picture of Miss Sugar for such a long time and thought perhaps I should finally just make a post for her and for my fledgling garden plants.

Miss Sugar is very happy in her new home.  But we did take a trip to the city last week and I could tell, she was excited to get in the car again!  Have I created a monster!  Not really, she is just happy not to be left behind.





These are my shallots.  I planted more so I should be set for the summer.

These are not weeds, honest!  I didn't label anything so they might be carrots, beets, spinach?  But they are everywhere!  Should be fun soon.

29.5.10

Redecorating my Guest Room


One room done!  I wish I had a 'before' picture but just imagine 1960's wallboard.  Yech!  I am not planning to spend a lot of money on my basement and just want to spruce it up a bit.


I chose two very intense colours.  They are Benjamin Moore colours Quinte (burgundy red) and Mukluk (the neutral colour).  This entire set of colours are historical shades and have been given very Canadian names.


I had considered choosing a red that would match my Hudson Bay blanket and make it a Canadiana room.  But then I looked at this wonderful painting that I have and decided to choose colours that would work with it.

I am very happy with the results!  I still want to hang a floor to ceiling drape as a headboard.  That will warm it up even more.

28.5.10

Artichoke Cheesecake with Flatbread

I found this in an old Southern Living cookbook and found it intriguing.  I had friends visiting so thought it would make a nice luncheon or appetizer dish.  The flatbread is from Martha Stewart Living magazine this month.

I made only a half recipe and it was still a lot of food.  The breadcrumb mixture didn't seem to add much so I would omit it next time.  For sure though, put a piece of parchment on the bottom of your springform pan.  It is impossible to lift the cheesecake off nicely without it.  My crazy oven was too hot so the top is browner than I would like.  I did try freezing my leftovers just to see if it would work.  Although it was edible, I would not serve it to guests after freezing.

The flavours were great.  I served it with all of my homemade crackers and flatbreads.

Artichoke Cheesecake                     adapted from Southern Living
 
¼ c fine, dry breadcrumbs
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
2 T dried Italian seasoning
2-8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 c crumbled feta cheese
3 large eggs
1-8 oz container sour cream
1-14oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¾ c chopped roasted sweet red pepper
¾ c chopped green pepper
¾ c chopped green onions (including ½” green tops)
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 t dried tarragon
1 t dried basil
garnish – fresh tarragon

GENEROUSLY butter a 9" springform pan.  Mix first 3 ingredients; coat bottom of pan with breadcrumb mixture, and set aside remaining mixture.

PROCESS cream cheese in a food processor bowl until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.  Add feta cheese, eggs, and sour cream..  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.  Add chopped artichoke and next 6 ingredients to processor bowl.  Stir well.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.

BAKE, uncovered, at 375F for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Chill at least 2 hours.

CAREFULLY remove sides of springform pan.  Pat reserved breadcrumb mixture on sides of cheesecake.  Garnish, if desired.  Serve with toast points or assorted crackers.

Herbed Flatbread                   adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup warm water (about 110F)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
sea salt, for sprinkling
1/4 cup fresh rosemary or thyme

Place the water in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle the yeast.  Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour, oil, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and the sugar.  Stir until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Use as much flour as necessary so it is not a sticky dough.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll the dough around in the bowl so that it is also lightly oiled on the surface.  Cover with saran wrap.  Let stand in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Divide dough into 16 equal portions and cover with plastic wrap.  Roll out each piece to approximately 4"x10" on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and herbs.

Bake, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until crisp and golden, 18-22 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


27.5.10

Croquembouche


This is a fun dessert.  It can be made in any size.  Many years ago my sister-in-law had it as her wedding cake and that was my first exposure to Croquembouche - "crunch in the mouth".  The last time I made it was for my new millenium New Year's eve party.

This is May's Daring Bakers Challenge.  I don't have a large group that can help me eat this so I have designed mini Croquembouche.  They are single serving desserts.  The baked and unfilled profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 or 3 months.


The filling can be anything your mind can conceive but it must be firm and not too runny.  You want the little choux puffs to remain crispy.  They are 'glued' together with sugar syrup and then spun sugar embellishes the creation.

I have found my own filling recipe.  The Sicilian profiterole filling sounds so yummy.  A profiterole is the little cream puff.  An arrangement of profiteroles is a croquembouche.  And I am using the paté à choux recipe provided with this challenge.

Note: Candied angelica is very difficult to find.  Angelica is an herb and the stems are candied. They are a neon green in colour and very flavourful. I just omitted it completely.


The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Sicilian Profiteroles                    from Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table

  • 1/4 c angelica
  • 1/4 c candied orange peel
  • 1/4 c candied citron peel
  • Marsala, for soaking
  • 1/2 c whipped cream
  • 1 c fresh ricotta or cream cheese
  • 1 tsp orange-flower water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Caster sugar, to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • Icing sugar, to dust

  1. Finely chop all the candied peel, place in a bowl and add enough Marsala to cover. Leave to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Place the cream, ricotta, orange-flower water and vanilla extract in a bowl. Add the soaked peel and Marsala and mix well with a fork. Add caster sugar to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.


Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in cold water, gently smooth out on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Grease a baking sheet that has been run under a stream of cold water: the steam produced during baking will help the pastry to rise.
Bake the choux at 425◦F degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. You can poke a hole in each one with a skewer and that will allow the steam to be released and they will remain crisper.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Putting it together:
Fill each little profiterole with the Sicilian cream filling by piping.
Prepare carmelized sugar and keep it melted on low on the stovetop.  Dip each profiterole in the melted sugar and place on the plate. Add each one in the same manner to form a circle.  Add the next row of profiterole on top of the first and make the circle smaller. Repeat until you have made a cone shaped figure. Eventually it will be a cone of profiteroles.
With more of the melted sugar, decorate the cone with strands of melted sugar.  It can be further decorated with dragees, flowers, or whatever suits your fancy.

25.5.10

Saskatoon Toodle

I would like to say that Saskatoon is not without it's interesting foodie places.  I just returned from a trip to look at new kitchen appliances and had a chance to indulge.

It is fiddlehead season so I went fiddlehead crazy and bought about 3 pounds.  They are all locally harvested.
A Fiddlehead is a fern so young and new that it hasn't yet "unfurled" and opened its leaves. The end is still curled in a tight spiral, ready to unroll as the sun warms it and it gathers strength and size. This spiral shape reminds many people of the end of a violin, hence the name "Fiddlehead." 
I had them in my morning omelet (above), beside my lamb chops in the evening.

I had them in a salad with smoked duck (see title picture above) with a light vinaigrette dressing.  I bought the smoked duck breast at Bulk Cheese.  I also bought more fiddleheads at Bulk Cheese!  They had an amazing three large baskets of fresh, local fiddleheads.


I made them in a pasta salad with smoked duck, feta and roma tomatoes.

This is a picture of a restaurant where I had lunch one day.  It is called Afghan Kebob & Donair and the food was really, really good.  They make their own pitas fresh every hour.  Lunch was under $10 including tip and beverage.  And the place is squeaky clean.

Another dinner was at The Golden Pagoda.  It is a Burmese restaurant.  It was raining cats and dogs and I totally forgot about my camera.

I had a traditional meal.  The salad was tea leaves with cabbage and crispy fried dried peas.  It was really different, in a good way.  The portions were too much for one person eating along.  Definitely go with someone and share.  My main course was a traditional beef curry and I had a #5 heat rating.  I enjoyed it immensely and had it with rice.  But I did take at least half of everything home.

The Farmer's Market was great.  They have a permanent site right in the downtown area.  There are inside stalls and outside stalls.  At this time of year, yes, more fiddleheads, lots of bedding out plants, home baking and jams, fish and meat.

One more stop was Souleio.  It is a very uptown specialty foods and eatery place.  It is situated in a wonderful heritage type building and they serve coffee, lunches and dinners.  There is an excellent selection of hard to find spices, flours and other ingredients along with ready made items to take home.  I spent a bit of time there, just reading every label.  I bought spelt flour.  I am looking for a good recipe to make spelt  crackers.

24.5.10

Avocado Feta Salsa


Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks has a contest this month.  The challenge is to use both avocado and feta cheese in the same recipe.  This is my submission for that challenge.  I used this salsa both with my breakfast taco above and with grilled lamb chops below.  It was delicious!

Oh Pam, thanks for commenting on the plate!  I forgot to talk about it.  I was staying in a friend's home in Saskatoon, housesitting actually.  It seems to be my second career!  So I am looking for plates.  She has this beautiful set of Spode china and it is used for every day.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Every time I took out a plate, I looked at it more than my food.

Avocado Feta Salsa 

  • 1 ripe avocado - peel and pit removed and diced
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced

Directions
  1. Carefully mix together the avocados, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a bowl. Add in the oregano and parsley, then gently stir in olive oil and vinegar, now the feta. Cover, and place in the refrigerator to chill for 2-6 hours. 









20.5.10

Onion and Poppy Seed Crackers

I really like having snacks available in my house.  And snacks that are not potato chips or taco chips purchased from the store.  I have been on a frenzy to try all the recipes I can find for crackers and crispbreads.

I have decided to make each flavour in a different shape.  My wild rice and dried cranberry crisps are the shape of mini slices of a loaf.  The spicy blue corn crackers are squares.  And the onion and poppy seed crackers are round.

This is a  recipe that I tried for the first time and is an adaptation from Menus from an Orchard Table - Celebrating the Food and Wine of the Okanagan.

Onion and Poppy Seed Crackers           Makes about 4 dozen

1 medium onion
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, puree the onion.  One medium onion will yield approximately 1 cup puree.  Measure 1 cup puree and liquid from the onion and return to the food processor.  Add the egg, oil and salt and blend until well incorporated.

In another bowl, measure the dry ingredients.  Mix lightly to combine.  Make a well in the centre and add the liquids in this well.  Mix in one direction until the dough is fully combined.  Lightly knead the dough, flouring as needed, for 2 minutes.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

This is a very soft dough and you may find it best to roll it between two sheets of parchment paper.  Roll as thinly as possible.  In fact, it is best if rolled as thinly as a strudel dough.  But don't worry if you can't get it that thin.  The crackers will still be fine.  Cut into desired shapes.

Bake until evenly golden.  The time required will depend upon thickness but anywhere from 5 - 15 minutes.  If they are thicker, the crackers will puff up like little pitas.  Cool thoroughly before storing in air tight container.

19.5.10

Spinach and Asiago Souffle


Spinach and Asiago Souffle

  • 3/4 cup half and half cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed, washed, steamed, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two individual souffle dishes. Bring cream to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour; stir 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in warm cream. Increase heat to medium; whisk constantly until mixture is thick and smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove sauce from heat.  Cool slightly.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in sauce, spinach, cheese (reserving 2 tablespoons for later), salt, pepper and nutmeg. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Stir over low heat until just lukewarm before continuing.)
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into spinach mixture in 2 additions. Transfer to prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Bake until puffed and set about 20 minutes

18.5.10

Cardamom Ice Cream

Cardamom is one of my favourite flavours.  I just love it.  I have a big jar of cardamom pods that I use at every opportunity.  I have no idea where I found this recipe but it is easy and even better, it is delicious!  I used one of my candied violets as a garnish.  The scent from these violets is amazing!

Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 green cardamom pods, cracked

Whisk yolks and sugar until lemon coloured.  Add vanilla and mix in.  In a sauce pan scald the half and half and cardamom.  Temper the egg yolks with this hot milk.  Do this by adding a little at a time while whisking the egg yolks.  Eventually you will have added all the milk.  Cook this mixture in a double boiler until thickened.  Cool, strain, churn.

17.5.10

Candied Violets

I am thrilled to find tiny violets in my back garden.  It is early and things are still growing so I am hoping I will have lots of these delicate little flowers.

If any of you have tried making these little delicate things, please let me know.  I will create a link on this posting to your blog as well.  It will be fun to share ideas.

Valerie at A Canadian Foodie has also made these sweet things.  Check out her blog.

Candied Violets

1 large egg white
1/3 cup water
1 cup superfine sugar

Beat the egg white and water until frothy.  If you cannot find superfine sugar, just give regular white sugar a whirl in your food processor and it will break it down finer.

When picking the violets, leave the stems in tact.  Dip the flower into the egg mixture and with a little brush, carefully wipe off any excess liquid.

Snip the flower from the stem and drop into the sugar.  Gently sprinkle the sugar all over the flower and remove with a fork.  Place on parchment paper to dry.  These can be stored for several months if properly dried and put in an airtight container.

WordBanquet has a great post here.  I hardly think you will be wanting to make 100 at one time!

16.5.10

Sunny Sunday Sangria

I know, it was probably only a week ago that I was crying in my soup about snow!  But it has been so hot lately that I decided to use one of those cheap bottles of red wine in my cellar and make sangria.

I love sangria and this recipe from Flavours magazine is my favourite.  Just a note, it is potent!!!  Mix with lots of soda water.

I really don't know what they mean by cutting the peel into a long spiral.  I just took each slice of fruit and removed the peel in a long spiral.  I also removed all the white pith.

Spanish Sangria

1 1/2 bottles dry red wine
1 large lemon, thinly sliced with the peel cut into a long spiral
1 large orange, thinly sliced with the peel cut into a long spiral
1/2 lime, thinly sliced with the peel cut into a long spiral
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1/4 cup gin
green seedless grapes
2 cups club soda
ice cubes
apple, orange and lemon wheels, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except soda and ice, in a large glass pitcher.  Stir well, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  Fill each glass with ice cubes.  Add liquor mixture to each glass to the halfway mark.  Top with club soda.  Garnish with an orange, apple and lemon wheel.

15.5.10

Hearty Healthy Pancakes

I used to make these all the time for myself.  The recipe is rather large but can easily be divided into quarters and I have bags of pre-mix frozen for use later.

I mix the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter.  This is the stage that I package what I won't be cooking.  It divides nicely into quarters.  Put 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons in each of four ziploc bags.  I also write out the rest of the recipe to put in the bag, so I don't have to drag out my cookbook again.

For each bag, use 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 cup chopped pecans.

The recipe makes way more than they tell you.  Perhaps my pancakes are small but I get 7 pancakes out of each 'package'.

Surprise Flapjacks               adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
4 eggs
4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
1 cup chopped pecans
melted butter

1.  Process the first 7 ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until well blended.  Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

2.  Beat the eggs and buttermilk together in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in the honey.  Stir in the flour mixture and then fold in the chopped pecans.

3.  Heat a pancake griddle and brush it with melted butter.  Ladle the batter onto the griddle to make 6-inch pancakes.  Cook until golden on both sides.  Serve with butter and maple syrup.

14.5.10

Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Tortillas


It is Daring Cooks time again.  It seems to come earlier every month!  May is the month of Cinco de Mayo, a regional holiday in Mexico.  In celebration, our hosts chose a Mexican theme.  I love Mexican food.  The dish chosen is rather high in calories so I am making a leaner version - chicken enchiladas.  It might be leaner in calories but not in flavour.  I am also making my own flour tortillas.  The recipe is below.

The tortillas were absolutely fantastic.  Not exactly round, but tasty!

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. 

Chicken Enchiladas with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce

Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce
9 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into pieces
6 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into pieces
5 cups very hot water
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 tsp fine sea salt

Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes.  Add all chile pieces; cook just until chiles blister, pressing with metal spatula and turning occasionally, about 30 seconds.
Transfer chiles to a bowl; add 5 cups very hot water.  Soak chiles until very tender, pushing occasionally to submerge, about 30 minutes. 
Working in 3 batches, puree chiles with soaking liquid and all remaining ingredients in blender until smooth.  Season sauce with more salt if desired.  (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.) 

Enchiladas
6 cups water
6 chicken thighs with skin and bone (I used one whole fryer)
1 small white onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, halved
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup crumbled queso fresco (can substitute with feta)
3 pickled jalapeno chiles, halved


Bring first 5 ingredients to boil in large pot.  Reduce heat; simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Cool chicken in broth 30 minutes, then transfer chicken to bowl and cool completely (reserve broth for another use).

Shred the chicken with two forks.  Add enough Ancho-Guajillo chile sauce to taste.

Wrap flour tortillas in aluminium foil and warm in the oven.

Remove tortillas from foil one at a time.  Hold one in the palm of your hand and put about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture in it and roll up.  Place in a greased ovenproof dish, seam side down.  Continue until you have made the number of enchiladas that you need.

Pour some of the Ancho-Guajillo sauce over the rolled enchiladas.  Top with grated cheddar or Monterey Jack (or both) cheese.  Bake until bubbling and cheese is melted.  This will take about 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with sliced pickled jalapenos and crumbled queso fresco. 

Serve with rice and black beans, oven roasted squash and corn.

Tortillas de Harina/Flour Tortillas
Translated recipe from Blanca Diaz
(Watch the detailed video of her making the tortillas.)

I found this recipe for tortillas on Memoria's blog Mangio da Sola.  Since she is from Texas and is the reigning queen of Tex-Mex, I didn't think I could do better.


Cooks Notes:The tortillas should be soft and bubbly. I think the key to a good tortilla is to mix/stir the dry ingredients (even though she stated not to do so), and break in the shortening. Next start the mixer and then add the hot water as it mixes. The dough should be wet but not too wet (I usually use all of the water in the recipe). Don't forget to let the dough sit for 30 minutes before rolling the dough. You should be able to roll it in a ball easily. I also add an extra 1/2 tsp of baking powder to ensure rise. Also, don't let it heat up too long the first time you put it on the comal or skillet. The first exposure to heat is the most important part, I think. Flip it over as soon as you see a few bubbles.

Make ahead: Roll out all the dough balls and place between wax paper. Then place the wax papered tortillas in a freezer bag for later use. When ready to make them, just take them out and heat them on the comal or skillet.

3 ½ cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
7/8 cup (or a little less than 1 cup) of lard or shortening, cut into small pieces
¾ to 1 cup of very hot water (almost boiling)

1. Place the flour in a bowl.

2. Add the salt, baking powder, and fat without stirring.

3. Little by little, pour the very hot water over the ingredients and mix them with your hands (or dough attachment in your stand mixer), measuring the quantity of water until you reach the desired texture. It should be moist and soft, but not sticky.

4. Knead/Mix the dough for approximately 5 minutes, and form a ball.

5. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rest inside of the bowl for 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Form small balls weighing approximately 40 grams each (if you don't have a scale, the balls should be more or less the size of a ping-pong or golf ball). Cover the little balls again with the towel as you roll each one out.

7. Place one of the balls on top of a clean surface, and press down on it lightly with your fingers.

8. Roll out the little ball until you form an oval. Lift up the oval and turn it to the right 45 degrees, and roll it out again. Turn it 45 degrees again to the right until you create a circle of the desired size.

9. Place the tortilla on a hot comal, griddle pan, or cast-iron skillet until it forms small bubbles on the uncooked side of the tortilla. Turn over the tortilla, and wait until it inflates a bit. Turn it again and with a spatula, press on it until the air inside goes out and stops inflating (I didn't do this last part because it stops puffing up once you remove it from the heat).

10. Store the tortillas in tortilla holder, covered container, or wrapped in a towel. You could also keep it warm in a low-temperature oven. These tortillas can be reheated the next day; store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yields 18-20 tortillas; this recipe can be halved easily.

13.5.10

Corned Beef Hash

Now that the rain has stopped and the sun is bright, I am back outside working on my house and garden.  Yesterday I took care of a huge branch that fell off my crabapple tree and cleared dead wood from my Dogwood.  And put the second coat of paint on my foundation so I can now order in soil to top up my beds.  Then I will be ready for planting! 

So I have not been cooking very much.  I have never made corned beef hash.  This is inspired by a recipe from Epicurious.com   I use that website a lot. 

I made this with my big ol' cast iron pan.  But wouldn't it be fun, if you had a set of small cast iron pans, to serve it directly to the table with each person having their own pan!  The food would stay hot for a long time.  Everybody would get lots of nice crispy pieces.


Corned Beef Hash                       serves one
  • 1 baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup cooked corned beef, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 large egg (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until just tender, about 3 minutes, then drain. Coarsely chop corned beef.
Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter in a small nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add cream and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
If desired, make a hole in hash and break 1 egg into it. Cook over moderately low heat, covered, 5 minutes, or until egg is cooked to desired doneness, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish hash with parsley.

8.5.10

Brining Your Own Brisket


Traditional corned beef dinner with boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots.  This is basically the boiled dinner so popular in the Maritimes.

I have never cooked a corned beef brisket.  Ever.  It is so easy but just has not been on my radar.  So I decided it was time.  Then go back one step and I wondered how much fun it might be to brine my own beef?  My butcher cut me a 9 pound brisket tip and I was on my way.
 
I used the bottom drawer of my fridge to brine it…works like a charm, and there’s no worry about rips in a ziploc bag or dripping onto other food! It was a great tip I read somewhere.

There was way more food than I could eat so I pressure canned some of the corned beef and I can enjoy it later.

From Michael Ruhlman's blog

The following recipe is from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

Home-Cured Corned Beef
2 cups kosher salt*
½ cup sugar
4 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite), optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 5-pound beef brisket
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped.

In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.

Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrot, onion and celery. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket.

Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly and serve on a sandwich or with additional vegetables simmered until tender in the cooking liquid.

*A note about the salt. Salt level not hugely critical here because it’s basically boiled and excess salt moves into cooking liquid.  You can weigh out 10 ounces here if you feel better using a scale.  Or you can simply make a 5% brine of however much water you need to cover (6.4 ounces per gallon).  When you cook it, season the cooking liquid to the level you want your meat seasoned.  Another option is wrapping the brisket in foil and cooking it in a 225 degree oven till tender.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Pickling Spice
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons allspice berries
1 tablespoon ground mace
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
24 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger

Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.
I love this mace.  I bought it in India at least 4 years ago and just grind it as I need it.  I swear it is as potent as the day I bought it.  And it is so moist and soft when it is freshly ground.

If I can borrow a corny phrase from Rachel Ray or Emeril Legasse, I wish there was 'smell-a-vision".  The aroma from this spice mixture is amazing!  I cannot imagine buying pickling spice ever again.

6.5.10

Curried Squash Soup

I know that many of you are enjoying nice spring/summer weather today.  But where I am in Canada (I hate to perpetuate the myth of the Great White North) there is snow on the ground today.

Yesterday I made a wonderful Thai lime lemongrass curry sauce and decided to use it as the flavouring for this soup.  Click on the link for the curry sauce and you will find the recipe.  This is so easy and delicious.

Curried Squash Soup                       single serving

1 cup cooked butternut squash
1/4 cup Thai curry sauce
chicken broth, as desired

Place the squash and curry sauce in a food processor and puree.  Add chicken broth to obtain the desired consistency.  Heat the puree in a saucepan then ladle into a bowl.