Tuesday, December 29, 2009

scallop + chorizo + olive

The holiday season is all about food. And naps. And friends.

We had our share of 'official' holiday food. no more please.
We treated ourselves to our favourite little restaurant twice (vive le Benny's Bistro!!!)
...but the best, the ultimate part of this week off for me is seeing friends and tasting new home cooked creations.

Mathieu and Roseline are a couple that always share our enthusiasm for dinner parties.
We take turns hosting, we sometimes do themed dinners and it is always delicious.
This was Mathieu's contribution to the meal last night.

I would have eaten more if we had not had cheese and paté before and were not going to have a main right after. Absolutely mouthwatering. I am a very salty person and this satisfied me like very little 'bites' have satisfied me before.

I was having a glass of white with Roseline as the men prepared this...but I think this is what Mathieu did:

-Marinate your scallops in vermouth for about 30 minutes.
-Prepare yourself a martini.
-Chop the chorizo on the bias and cook in a hot pan until crispy. Set aside.
-Zest half a lemon and fry with olives, set aside.
-Pat your scallops dry and pan fry until golden.
-Assemble the bites and drizzle with olive oil and the cooked lemon zest.

Monday, December 21, 2009

rum soaked raisin & chocolate cookies

From the first bite, I wondered: what do these remind me of?
A few bites later, I figured they tasted exactly like Glosette candies...

I did not have my kitchenaid, so they turned a bit less fluffy than they should have. Make sure you beat the butter and sugar well - but no worries, they taste just as good if you do it with a spoon and arm power.

I used Cuban dark rum, I suppose any amber or spiced rum would do. I would not use white rum though...

YIELD: 4 Dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 Cup raisins soaked in rum (I used Thompson raisins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Set raisin in flat bowl and pour rum over them to soak in while you prepare the chocolate raisin cookie batter. You can help them out a bit by putting them on low heat, they will drink up!

* In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

* Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended.

* Drain off all reserved liquid from the rum soaked raisins.

* Mix in the chocolate chips, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.

* Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

mini tourtières

Last night was the test run for my tourtières.

We ate these with a fabulous salad suggested by Bellsa at work - everyone was raving about this salad, so I had to try it... a mix of squash, bacon, dried cranberries, red onion and a maple based dressing.

The tourtières were great and they are now ready to pass on to the mini stage!

How I prepare mine:
I cook a mix of pork, veal and lamb. Drain off all the fat.
Then I add my spices & onion (allspice, cloves, cinnamon)
I let it cook for about 1 hour in chicken stock so that the meat gets really tender.

Then I like to top it with mashed potatoes instead of more pastry...
I mix in butter, cream and one egg so that it gets all golden crunchy on top.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

shortbread and sesame cookies

oh holiday baking.

I tried this recipe for shortbread that requires that you brown a part of the butter - it is delicious!!!
If you are going to try this, do not add all the flour at once... Use only what is needed, the dough should be slightly crumbly but should still hold together.

I also did some stuffed sesame cookies. They are quite cute.
I love the little chestnut surprise on the inside.

more cookies!!!

Brown butter shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornstarch
¾ cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
¾ cup butter

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together in a bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Melt ¼ cup of butter in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat until browned. Remove from the heat and cool in the fridge, do not let the butter solidify.

Using a mixer, cream the remaining butter. Blend in the cooled brown butter. Add the flour mixture and blend on low-medium speed until dough forms. Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes.

Form the dough into small 1 ½ inch balls. Gently press the balls down, to form a thick disk and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the extra sugar. Cool cookies fully on the cookie sheet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lima beans

These are the 'Ron' beans.
I have been wanting to do these for a few weeks now, ever since Ron Eade posted about it on his blog.

There were two 'odd' things that I loved when I was small: sardines and lima beans.
You could open a can of sardines and give me a fork + mustard and I was a-ok.
You could open a can of lima beans, heat them with butter and I was in heaven.
What an odd 5 year old.

My mother gave me this pressure cooker. It scares me like no other kitchen tool-gizmo.
I would be more at ease with a mini chainsaw (Simon knows I want a real one for Christmas... I've been asking for it for a few years now)

The pressure cooker is your friend Marysol.

I cooked the beans in it for 10 minutes, let it cool down for another 10. I saved myself the soaking and reduced the cooking time.

I then finished cooking the lima beans on the stove top using Ron's trick: chicken stock.
in the saucepan went white wine, chicken stock (or veg stock!), roasted red pepper, dried oregano, fresh thyme, black pepper. I added yellow beans during the last minutes of cooking. Once cooled, I added white wine vinegar, olive oil and a bit of salt.

I am so pleased at how these turned out! We will bring them to the family Christmas dinner...

chocolate ginger cookies

These are so delicious.
Little chunks of ginger and soft chocolate pieces make your mouth happy.

Chocolate Ginger Cookies
Makes 5 dozen

1½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups brown sugar
1¼ cup molasses
4 tsp baking soda
2 ½ Tbsp boiling water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground ginger
3 tsp gr. cinnamon
1 tsp gr. cloves
1 tsp gr. nutmeg
1 tsp mace
1 tsp all spice
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp candied ginger
2 cups chocolate chips (I did chunks)

½ cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Blend in the molasses. In a small dish mix the boiling water with the baking soda and add to the creamed butter mixture.

In a large bowl whisk the flour with all the dried spices and cocoa powder. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Once all the flour has been mixed in add the chopped candied ginger and chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. Form the dough into small 1-2 inch balls. Gently press the balls down, to form a thick disk. Dip the disk into the white sugar and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies until they have a crackled look, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

lamb shanks with risotto

I craved risotto today. This side has just recently become a favourite for me...
I think I had bad risotto for quite long. Then I had really, really really good risotto at Beckta and was convinced. This is usually what pushes me to make better at home. (Yes, I am somewhat competitive and obsessive)

I left some lamb shanks to bathe in wine, homemade chicken stock, onion, peppercorns & juniper berries this morning. When it was time to cook, I added some thyme + rosemary from the garden.

I do look absolutely precious in my high heel boots going through the snowy garden to get some herbs! It is the garden that keeps on giving!!! I can't wait for spring, I this I will double the garden space...

Was yummy with rapini sauteed in garlic and lemon, simple parmesan and chicken stock risotto. (I started with 2 French shallots, white wine, a bit of fresh thyme...)

parmesan chicken...just like Jamie

This week, Simon was sent a link to a little cooking capsule with Jamie Oliver.
I have a food crush on Jamie Oliver, I 'discovered' him about a month ago leafing through a cookbook at work, it was so rustic and honest and it smelled like fresh earth. I thought he was just a pretty boy posing for a camera and charming all the ladies with his accent...

We decided to try the parmesan chicken recipe for dinner.
Of course, a few added elements: some garlic, grated, rubbed under the chicken breast & arugula leaves under the prosciutto.

The recipe worked well. The grated lemon rind was a delicious addition, every time i tasted it, it made me smile.

If we were to redo it, we would have banged the chicken a bit, then put on the ingredients, then banged it some more... It would have been good to have the crunchy topping for the whole piece, not just the middle.

Go see Jamie - it will make you want to try it too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry orange loaf

I took the time last night to prep for a yummy breakfast bread. I had a choice between doing something pineapple (but I was thinking it was not quite ripe yet) or use my leftover cranberries... So the cranberries won, and what better combination than cranberry and orange?

The rum extract is not necessary, it was just a last minute whimsy.

Cranberry orange loaf

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup sour cream (the recipe called for yoghurt, but I had none)

¾ cup fresh orange juice

½ cup unsalted butter, cool room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp rum extract

finely grated zest of 1 large orange (2-3 tablespoons)

1 cup fresh cranberries, each cut in half

1 cup lightly toasted pecans, walnuts and pistachios

1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of room above it and preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Coat a loaf pan with butter, and then a light layer of flour, tapping out any excess flour that does not cling. (Or simply put parchment paper as i did!!!)

3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Reserve.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and orange juice, rum, orange zest. Reserve.

5. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with sugar until pale and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

6. Add the eggs gradually, beating continuously to incorporate.

7. Using the slowest speed of the mixer, add the flour mixture in three increments, alternating with the addition of 2 increments of the yogurt-orange juice mixture. The last addition should be the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Stop the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients by folding together with a large spatula.

8. While folding, add the reserved cranberries and nuts, and incorporate gently and quickly. The batter should be well combined, but do not over mix or the bread will not be tender.

9. Spoon the batter immediately into the prepared pan, filling no more than three fourths full, level the top with a flexible spatula, set in the center of a preheated 350° oven, and bake for about 55-65 minutes. (Smaller loaves require about 40-45 minutes of baking.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

slow cooker - fail

This weekend I was so, soooooo ready to use my slow cooker.

This slow cooker has had it pretty easy.
I bought it for my mum last Christmas because her old one was too small, she longed for a larger one. So, it was my mission to find a larger model. BUT, this one was too big. She found it too heavy. She found it took up too much space. So a few weeks ago, she gave it back to me.


Simon and I decided to escape all responsibilities this weekend and go to the family cottage.
I brought much food with us and wanted to experiment and cook.
My initial plan was to test slow cooking meals that I could get started before leaving for work, and test out quick cooking meals in my pressure cooker.

The chef at work asked that I lend her my pressure cooker until midweek.
And the slow cooker just died. After 2 minutes of heating, I heard a nice crack. That was it. No more slow cooker.
So no experiments, but still good food.

I did a nice ossobuco type dish. Do you like my brownish phone pic?
My original plan was to do shanks in the slow cooker just like Ryan did - but the butcher had no shanks, rather prepared pieces for ossobuco. The veal from La Boucherie Bisson was beautiful. Such a nice color, a clean and perfect cut. Simon ate bone marrow for the first time, he hesitated for a half second, then just dug it out. We ate it with greens and a celeriac and potato mash - not traditional sides for it, but it was not my original plan... I did with what I had!

We also had nice pulled pork sandwiches for lunch today.
I did a large batch and froze the leftover for Christmas hors-d'oeuvres - I am sure it will be a hit.

Other culinary thoughts from the weekend:

*I almost finished a Julia Child biography. I did not know much about her (and have not seen THE movie), she made me smile but I was also surprised by a few sad details. Some opinions that she has voiced will stay in my mind and keep me for loving her completely.

*I held a pet rabbit. It was huge and so soft and I was in love. Then I wondered if I could eat this type of rabbit or if it would be too fatty.

Friday, December 4, 2009

banana chocolate muffins

Sometimes, I can't sleep and keep making lists in my head about the day to come - so I get up, and bake.

Chocolate and banana, Simon's favourite.

Chocolate, walnut and banana muffins

Wet Mix (this fits in a 500ml container, if you want to do it the night before and store it in the fridge...)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup apple sauce (I make my own and I like it chunky so that you have nice apple chunks in the muffins)
1 egg
1 banana, very ripe, mashed

Dry Mix
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp spices - I used a tiny bit of cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, do not overmix. This made 11 small muffins.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Press down on the muffin, it should not spring back.
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