Friday, 30 November 2012

Creamy Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Porcini

Love this take on a risotto, I am a new fan of Barley!  From Food and Drink 2011

1 pkg dried porcini mushrooms (if you can't find these, just saute some mushrooms and use chicken or vegetable stock for the mushroom liquid
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lb (500 g) thin asparagus spears
1/2 cup crumbled fresh soft cheese with garlic and herbs such as Boursin
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
Salt to taste

  1. In a 2 cup glass measure, combine porcini mushrooms with 1 cup water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and pierce plastic wrap in several places with the point of a knife.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove mushrooms, squeezing out and reserving soaking liquid.  Rinse and drain mushrooms, then chop finely.  Strain soaking liquid through a paper towel lined sieve into a medium saucepan.  Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, porcini and pepper.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft but not browned.  Stir in barley until well coated with onion mixture.
  4. Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring until wine has been absorbed.  Stir in w2 cups stock.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until stock has been absorbed, and barley has swollen and is starting to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, add remaining stock to mushroom soaking liquid and heat over medium high heat until steaming.  Keep warm over low heat.
  6. Add hot stock mixture to barley 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often and allowing barley to absorb stock before adding more, until most of stock is used (you may not need all of it) and barley is tender but still a little chewy, about 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile trim woody ends from asparagus by snapping spears where they break naturally.  Cut asparagus diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.  Stir asparagus into barley.  Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until asparagus is tender crisp.  Stir in cheese and half of chives.  Season with salt and more pepper to taste if necessary.  Spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle with remaining chives.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Falafel Cheeseburgers with Tzatziki

I am a confirmed carnivore, but this recipe could almost make me vegetarian!  A nice change to a regular hamburger with lots of flavour.  Even the kids ate it (although I didn't tell them it was chickpeas)  From Food and Drink 2011

1 can (540ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch cayenne
Salt to taste
4 oz (125g) Halloumi cheese thinly sliced (or your favourite cheese)
4 burger buns
1/2 cup tzatziki
4 boston lettuce leaves
Sliced tomato, red onion and/or cucumber

  1. Spread chickpeas out on a kitchen towel lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Blot with another towel until very dry.
  2. In a food processor (I only have a blender so that is what I use), combine chickpeas, coriander leaves, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cumin and cayenne.  Pulse until mixture forms a crumbly paste that holds together.  Taste and add a little salt and more cayenne if necessary.   Pulse again to combine.
  3. Form mixture into 4 even sized patties, about 1/2 inch thick.  In a large nonstick skillet (I use my cast iron), heat remaining oil over medium heat.  Add burgers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on the undersides.  Using an egg lifter, carefully turn burgers over.  Top each with halloumi.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until burgers are golden brown and hot throughout, and cheese is starting to melt.
  4. Meanwhile, split buns in half and toast until golden brown.  Spread bottom half of each bun with tzatziki.  Top with lettuce, and tomato, onion and/or cucumber.  Place a falafel burger on each bun.  Replace tops of buns and serve at once.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pan Bagnat

This is a fantastic sandwich which originates from Nice, France.  From Food & Drink 2011

1 cup sweet white onion, very thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 cans (198g each) Tuna in oil, drained
1/3 cup good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
2 baguettes
10 leaves Boston Lettuce, washed
12 slices tomato
4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup brine cured black olives, coarsely chopped

  1. Place in a medium bowl onion, vinegar and sprinkle of salt (I omit the salt).  Stir and let rest 5 minutes. Add tuna, olive oil, capers and basil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir together while breaking the tuna into small pieces. 
  2. Slice baguettes in half lengthwise.  Remove the bread from the inside of the bottom halves of the loaves to form a gully.
  3. Place the lettuce on the bottom halves of the loaves.  Place tuna mixture on top of lettuce and then tomato and egg slices on top of tuna.  The tuna mixture may be quite runny.
  4. Sprinkle with olives.   Drizzle with olive oil and cover with top of baguette.  Slice each baguette into 4 pieces.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Orzo with Fresh Orange and Olives

This is a great side dish.  I really enjoy Orzo and this is a nice recipe to try it out with if you haven't used it yet.  Orzo looks like rice but is a pasta.  Most grocery stores will stock it.  I have used it in soups when I have some left over.  The black olives in this recipe contrast nicely with the plain pasta flavour.  This recipe is from Food and Drink 2011.

2 large oranges
1 tbsp butter
12 oz (375 g) orzo pasta, a scant 2 cups (do not rinse)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 2/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
16 black olives, preferably Kalamata
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

  1. Section 1 orange by removing outer rind with a chef's knife.  Then, holding fruit in hand over a large bowl, cut between inner sections leaving rubbery membrane behind.  Squeeze juice from membrane behind.  Squeeze juice from membrane into a glass measuring cup.   Augment with juice from bowl of sections and from second orange as needed to equal 1/3 cup.  Cover and refrigerate for up to a day, if not using right away.
  2. When nearly ready to serve, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until bubbly.  Stir in dry orzo, saute, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes or until about half of grains are golden.  Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add broth, juice, salt (I omit the salt) and pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat so mixture gently bubbles.  Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until orzo is tender and broth is absorbed.
  4. Meanwhile, pit 10 olives; cut into largish pieces.  Reserve remainder for garnish.  When orzo is cooked, stir in olives and chives; turn into warmed serving dish.  Garnish with orange sections and black olives. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Ale Braised Short Ribs

Beer and Beef, it doesn't get much better than that!  Dark ale works best in this recipe, but use what you have.  From Food and Drink 2011

1.75 kg beef short ribs cut 2 to 3 inches thick and sliced into pieces with 1 to 2 bones in each
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp garlic coarsely chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage coarsely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups dark ale
1 cup beef stock

  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Generously season short ribs with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. In a large ovenproof pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Sear the short ribs in oil until well browned on all sides, work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot.  Place browned ribs aside on a plate.
  4. Discard excess oil from pot, add onions, garlic and sage and saute until onions are nearly tender, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer.
  5. Place ribs back in pot along with ale and beef stock.  Bring to a simmer, cover and then place in preheated oven.  Bake for 3 hours or until meat is very tender and falls apart when gently pulled with a fork.  Remove from oven.
  6. Set ribs aside and pour the pan juices through a strainer to remove the solids; reserve liquid.  Place ribs and strained liquid back into the same pot and cook over low heat until the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes.
  7. Season to taste and place everything in transportable and oven friendly dish.  When ready to serve, place in a 350F oven and warm through.  Serve ribs covered with sauce.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Japanese Chicken Curry

I love, love, love this one!  The Japanese curry powder in this recipe uses a lot of healthy turmeric, giving it a distinctive yellow look.  Serve with rice or noodles.  From Food & Drink 2011

1 1/2 lbs (750g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup coarsely grated peeled apple
2 tbsp Japanese Curry Powder (recipe follows)
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups baby spinach
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

  1. Cut chicken thighs in thirds.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add thighs in batches and sear about 1 minute per side or until lightly golden.  Reserve.
  2. Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining 1/4 cup oil and onion into skillet and saute for 2 minutes or until onion is softened.  Add apple, curry powder, ginger and garlic and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes to cook out floury taste.  Add stock a little at a time until well combined, and bring to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes to thicken, and taste for seasoning.
  3. Return chicken to skillet and cook in sauce for another 10 minutes or until thighs are cooked through.  Add spinach and coriander.  Cook just until spinach wilts.
Serves 4

Japanese Curry Powder

2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground fennel

Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir until uniform.  Extra curry powder keeps well in a sealed container.  Makes 4 tbsp.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pizza Margherita with Arugula

I am really starting to enjoy Arugula, it has a slightly bitter, peppery taste that accents most meals very well.  I can sometimes have a hard time finding the Halloumi cheese where I live and have never seen Guernsey Girl cheese.  But the nice thing about this is you can experiment with something new that is in your area!  I really liked the crust for this - simple and quick!.  I use a pizza stone I got from Pampered chef years ago - it is invaluable and far superior to an inexpensive one I received.  I would say it is definitely worth investing in a good quality stone for this recipe.  From Food and Drink 2011

4 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed with side of knife
1 can tomatoes, preferable San Marzano type
1 3/4 to 2 cups all purpose flour
1 envelope or 2 1/4 tsp instant or bread machine dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups very warm water
6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 tbsp freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Halloumi or Guernsey Girl cheese
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula
Pinches of coarse salt

  1. Combine oil and largely intact garlic in a small dish; set aside.  Place tomatoes in sieve over large bowl to catch juices.  Split open tomatoes to assist in draining; drain 15 to 30 minutes.  Then chop; also set aside.  (Juices can be frozen for use in a different recipe.)
  2. To make dough, stir 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour with cake flour, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook; make a well in the centre.  Add water. (water should be very warm to the touch like bath water.) Mix on medium speed until all flour is incorporated into dough; add remaining flour as needed to have soft, slightly sticky dough.  Alternatively mix by hand.  Turn out on well floured surface.  Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Arrange 1 oven rack on the lowest level (or 1 above the lowest level if oven element is exposed).  Preheat to 450 F.  Meanwhile use nonstick oil spray to coat three pizza or baking pans large enough to fit pizza dimensions in step 4.
  4. Divide dough into thirds.  Gently shape dough into a round or rectangle about half the size needed; place on pans.  Pat out each third into 11 inch rounds or 9x12 inch rectangles.  Form a small rim around edges.  (this pizza dough does not stretch well).
  5. Dividing all toppings among 3 pizzas, scatter tomatoes over dough, avoiding rim.  Scatter basil, Parmesan and mozzarella over tomatoes.  Lightly scatter with Halloumi, including a bit on the rim.  Remove and discard garlic from oil.  Drizzle each pizza with about 1 tsp of garlicky oil.  
  6. Immediately place pizza on lowest rack, baking in batches as needed.  Bake 10 minutes; use a spatula to turn up 1 corner of the dough to check for browning.  Continue baking for another few minutes as needed.  When nicely browned, slide pizza off pan and onto a cooling rack.  Scatter each with pinches of salt and about a third of the arugula.  Cut into wedges with scissors; serve immediately.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Potato Salad with Avocado and Arugula

A wonderful different potato salad.  I love the avocado in it and the Arugula gives it some bite.  You can peel the potatoes but I prefer the skin on.  From Food and Drink 2011

3 lbs (1.5 kg) small new potatoes
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red onion or thinly sliced green onions or snipped chives
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados
3 to 4 cups baby arugula, coarsely chopped
Grape tomatoes

  1. Generously cover potatoes with cold water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil; cook covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a  skewer.  Drain; cool until able to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir sour cream with mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Stir in red onion.
  3. Cut warm potatoes into bite size chunks; add to dressing as cut.  Using a large spoon or spatula, gently mix potatoes by lifting up from bottom of bowl and turning over.  To aid in rapid cooling, make a well in salad centre if in a bowl or spread out in a large metal pan.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate several hours or up to a day until cold.
  4. When ready to serve, dice avocados.  Stir potato salad gently; fold in avocado until just mixed.  Fold in arugula.  Garnish with additional red onion or halved grape tomatoes.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Vegetable Crudite with Tarragon Mustard Dip

Choose the best vegetable you can get and try to vary the colour.  You can also use this dip for shrimp and chicken.  From Food and Drink 2011

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon

Vegetables can include: radishes (trimmed and halved) blanched snap peas, sweet bell pepper strips, small carrots and asparagus spears

  1. In a bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, mustard, salt, pepper and tarragon.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. To serve, spoon a scant 1/4 cup into a small stemless Martini glass.  Stand glass on a plate and arrange fresh vegetables around plate.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Layered Endive, Frisee and Bacon Salad

This salad is so elegant when served in a martini glass!  From Food and Drink 2011

2 slices brioche
4 slices double smoked bacon, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 cups lightly packed chopped endive and frisee
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 eggs
pinch each of coarse salt, freshly cracked pepper and fine herbs

  1. Toast brioche and cube.  Set aside
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until cooked but not crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to plate.  Drain all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the pan.  Add shallots until tender and golden.  Whisk in olive oil, red wine vinegar and mustard.  Keep warm.
  3. Divide endive and frisee between 4 large martini glasses.  Layer brioche over each and top with bacon.  Drizzle each with warm shallot dressing.
  4. Meanwhile, fill large ban with water about 3 inches up the sides of the pan and bring to a simmer with white vinegar over medium heat.  Gently crack eggs, 1 at a time, into custard cups and slide them into the water.  (I found this a little tricky making sure they didn't tip). Poach for about 4 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.  Scoop eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well.  Top each salad with an egg and sprinkle with coarse slat, fresh cracked pepper and chopped fresh herbs.  Serve immediately.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lemon Roulade with Whipped Cream, Limoncello and Lemon Thyme

A light and wonderful dessert.  I find roulades elegant and easier to make than you might think.  Serve with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.    From Food and Drink 2011

3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
Pinch salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Icing sugar

1/2 cup whipping
1/4 cup mascarpone
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp limoncello
1 tsp lemon thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan with buttered parchment paper so that it goes up all 4 sides.
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat melt butter and add flour.  Off the heat, whisk in milk, sugar and grated lemon rind.  Return pot to heat, and bring to a boil, then simmer slowly for about 2 minutes.  SEason with salt and stir in lemon juice.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Add yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Set aside.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk with a pinch of salt until foamy.  Continue to beat egg whites, adding sugar a little at a time until egg whites are glossy and hold droopy peaks.  Stir a large spoonful into milk mixture.  Fold remaining egg whites into mixture along with 1/4 cup flour.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Turn out onto a tea towel sprinkled heavily with icing sugar (to prevent sticking_.  Remove parchment paper and let cool.
  5. To make filling, combine whipping cream, mascarpone and sugar and whip until stiff and well combined.  Add limoncello and lemon thyme and whip again.
  6. Spread roulade with filling and roll up from the short side using the tea towel as a guide to help rolling.  Let sit, seam side down, for 30 minutes or refrigerate until needed.  Cut into slices.  SE
  7. Serve with Limoncello Whipped Cream
LIMONCELLO Whipped Cream

You can flavour whipped cream with any kind of liqueur

1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp limoncello

1.  Combine whipping cream, icing sugar and limoncello in a chilled bowl.  Beat with electric beater until soft peaks form.
2.  Dollop on the roulade.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sauteed Shrimp with Warm Mint and Pea Pesto

From Food and Drink 2011, If you are short of time, make the pesto ahead and warm up just before serving.

Mint and Pea Pesto
2 1/2 cups fresh green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salt to taste
1 1/2 lbs (750g) large shrimp, shelled
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
Freshly ground pepper

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add peas and blanch for 1 minute.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Set 1 cup peas aside.
  2. Add remaining peas to a food processor along with mint, cheese, butter, and cream and process until almost smooth.  Stir in reserved peas and heat in a skillet until warm and slightly runny, adding a little more cream if needed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Salt shrimp.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add shallots and garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until beginning to soften. Add shrimp and paprika and saute for 2 minutes or until almost cooked through.  Add wine and stock and bring to a boil.  Boil until shrimps are pink and slightly curled, about 1 minute longer.  Use tongs to remove cooked shrimp from pan.  Cook juices for 1 minute longer or until reduced to about 1 tbsp.  Scrape sauce over shrimp, toss together and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with warm Pesto.
Serves 4

Monday, 12 November 2012

Roasted Maple Glazed Chicken with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

The original recipe called for Cornish Hens…but I switched for chicken.  I feed a family of 4 and it just seemed a better fit - besides the kids would never eat a "baby chicken".  Roasted vegetables are one of my favourite foods.  This one has fennel, which I am just starting to use.  Give it a try if you haven't used it - it definitely has a different flavour.  If you are not adventurous - just omit it and add some more squash or sweet potatoes.

Roasted Vegetables
1 small pepper squash, cut into 8 wedges
2 red onions, cut in 1/2 inch thick rings
3 portobello mushrooms, halved (or use cremini mushrooms - about 8)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in 6 pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp fresh thyme

1 chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 spanish onion, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup white wine (enjoy the rest)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place vegetables in one layer in roasting pan.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and fresh thyme.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and tender.
  3. Remove backbone from chicken.  Break breastbone and remove.  Turn chicken onto flesh side and flatten.  It is now butterflied.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil.  Sear chicken skin side down, about 2 minutes.  Flip when the skin is light golden.  Sear underside.  Add remaining oil and fry a piece at a time.
  5. Place onions in roasting pan and add wine.  Place a rack in pan and place bird on rack, skin side up.  Roast 15 minutes.  Combine maple syrup and vinegar and brush liberally over chicken.  Roast another 5-10 minutes and baste again.  Roast another 5 to 10 minutes basting frequently or until juices are clear.  Remove from oven and cover with a clean tea towel.  Cut into quarters.  Strain pan juices discarding onions.
  6. To serve:  put one of each kind of vegetable on to a dinner plate.  Place a piece of chicken over the vegetables.  Drizzle some of the strained juices over.
From Food and Drink 2000

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Almond Diamond Cookies

Easy and delicious!  Toast the almonds for a different flavour, or drizzle some chocolate over top.

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp milk
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine butter, sugar, orange rind, vanilla and salt until fluffy.  Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time until combined.
  2. Press dough evenly into a buttered 15 x 10 in rimmed baking sheet.  Brush evenly with milk.  Sprinkle with nuts and press lightly into dough.  Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Starting in one corner, slice into bars.  Rotate pan and slice again starting at the opposite corner to make diamond shapes.  Let cool in pan on rack.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chocolate Pâté with Coffee Aspic

I was a little concerned about doing this recipe as I do not generally like aspics - or any jelly type dessert.  They kind of remind me of the 50's type of desserts.  This however was different enough that I decided to try it.  I like the coffee and chocolate mixture (of course) and the gelatine top is interesting with the added liqueur..I used Kahlua.  Definitely an adult dessert.

2 tsp unflavoured gelatine
2 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot, strong black coffee
2 tbsp coffee flavoured liqueur

1 pouch unflavoured gelatine
2 tbsp cold water
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot milk
8 squares bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream

  1. Sprinkle gelatine over cold water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Add sugar, hot coffee and liqueur and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Butter 9 x 5 in loaf pan very lightly.  Line with 4 inch wide piece of waxed paper or parchment long enough to overhang long sides of pan.  Smooth down completely.  Pour coffee mixture into pan; transfer to refrigerator and chill for about 15 minutes or until set.
  1. In a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatine over water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Whisk in eggs and sugar and blend well.  Stir in hot milk.  Cook, stirring over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir in melted chocolate and let cool completely.
  2. Whip cream until stiff.  Using rubber spatula, gently fold cream into chocolate mixture.  Spread mousse evenly over set jelly in loaf pan.  Cover tightly.  Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.  Turn pate out onto serving platter; remove paper.  Slice to serve.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Chocolate Cookie Buttons

Great for Christmas!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

12 squares semi-sweet chocolate
3 squares white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, cream butter.  Beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until very smooth.  Beat in egg.  Microwave chocolate on medium for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in chocolate and vanilla into creamed mixture.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls.  Place on lightly buttered baking sheet and set in freezer for 5 minutes or in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Bake cookies for 10 minutes.  Cool completely on rack.
  1. Microwave semi sweet chocolate on medium for about 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Set bowl of melted chocolate over pan of steaming water.  Dip cooled cookies into melted chocolate.  Lift out and place on a rack set over a baking sheet.  Once chocolate is firm, microwave white chocolate on medium for about 45 seconds.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Decorate cookies by drizzling with white chocolate.
Makes about 6 dozen.

** I changed this up for the picture and used milk chocolate for the topping decorated with smarties

Tiramisu Cheesecake Bowl

This dessert can be made in one large bowl or individually - you choose :)

11 Graham Wafers
1/2 cup strong coffee
2 tbsp coffee liqueur or brandy
1 pkg (250 g) Cream cheese
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg unflavoured gelatine
1 cup milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 square bittersweet Chocolate, finely grated

  1. Spread wafers, overlapping if necessary in bottom of an 8 inch round glass dish or serving bowl. Mix together coffee and liqueur.  Brush evenly over wafers.  Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add mascarpone and vanilla, beating until smooth.
  2. Sprinkle gelatine over 1/4 cup of the milk.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Combine remaining milk with sugar and bring to a boil.  Stir gelatine into milk mixture.  Let cool slightly.  Beat half of the milk mixture into mascarpone mixture.  Scrape onto graham wafers and smooth to cover evenly.
  3. Mix sour cream with remaining milk mixture.  Drizzle over mascarpone layer.  Gently smooth until even.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Just before serving, sprinkle grated chocolate over top.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Scones

A festive twist to the usual scone.

2 1/4 cups cake and pastry flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 squares white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Use pastry blender or two knives to cut butter into dry mixture until crumbly.  Stir in semi-sweet chocolate and cranberries.
  2. Make a well in dry ingredients; add milk and stir with fork until ragged dough forms.  Turn out onto work surface and knead just until ragged bits are incorporated into dough.  Gently pat dough into 3/4 inch thick disc.  Use 2.5 in cutter to cut out scones.  Place on unbuttered baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle tops evenly with brown sugar.  Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden on the bottom; broil for 45 seconds or until top is golden.  Let cool on wire rack.  Microwave white chocolate on medium for about 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled scones.
Makes 12 scones

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

S'Mores Slice

A different way to enjoy your s'mores without a campfire.  The kids will love these.  If you aren't into marshmallows, just switch the topping for your favourite icing and ice once base has cooled.

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely broken graham wafer crackers
1 cup mini marshmallows
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a 9 inch square baking pan; set aside.
  2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter on medium for 1 to 2 minutes, or in heavy saucepan set over low heat.  Remove from heat and add salt.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in sugar and eggs, adding one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Gradually stir in flour until well combined.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. 
  3. Toss graham wafers with marshmallows and semi sweet chocolate.  Spread evenly over hot chocolate base.  Return to hot oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows and chocolate are softened.  Press down topping with the back of spoon.  Cool on rack and slice into bars.
Makes 32 bars.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Braided Sweet Loaf

Well, I am trying to stay away from breads...but I haven't eliminated them completely.  For a treat - and to share with others here is a fantastic loaf.  It originally called for raisins...I prefer nuts, but you could use chocolate chips, dried fruit, or whatever you prefer.

4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 pkgs quick rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup toasted almonds

2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tsp butter

  1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (I don't own one of these so I just mix by hand). Add milk, butter and eggs; beat well for 2 minutes.  Knead in almonds with your hands for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Cut dough into three equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 14 inch long cylinder.  Squeeze ends of cylinders together and braid tightly.  Squeeze loose ends together and tuck under loaf.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover loaf loosely and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.  Preheat the oven to 375F.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes in centre of preheated oven or until hollow sounding when tapped.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Stir butter with corn syrup and brush evenly over warm loaf.  Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Chocolate Pecan Tarts

These are outstanding!

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice water

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecan halves
6 squares semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. In Food processor, combine flour, sugar salt and butter.  Blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  With motor running, add ice water.  Turn out onto plastic wrap and press into ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (I do not have a food processor - I just use a hand held pastry cutter - you can also use a fork or two knives - to do the blending).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Roll out pastry to 1/3 inch thikness and cut with 4 inch round cutter.  Fit into 18 muffin tins.
  1. Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in milk, syrup and vanilla.  Sprinkle pecans and half of the chocolate into prepared tart shells.  Divide egg mixture evenly between tart shells.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F and bake for about 25 minutes longer or until crust is golden.
  2. Sprinkle remaining chocolate evenly over tarts.  Let soften for 2 minutes.  Spread with back of spoon.  Run knife around edge of pans and lift out tarts.  Let cool on a rack.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Marble Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

This is a classic.  Fun with chocolate and vanilla cake and the brown sugar buttercream is a real treat!

2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, melted

3 egg whites
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
Chocolate Curls (optional)


  1. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans.  Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk eggs with vanilla.  Set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir butter into flour mixture until well combined.  Gradually add milk and beat with electric mixer for 1 minute.  Beat in egg mixture.  Measure out 1 cup of the batter and stir with melted chocolate.
  3. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pans.  Drop a large dollop of chocolate mixture in centre of each pan.  Spread using the back of a spoon and then draw a knife from the centre of pan to edge, blending batters.  Zig-zag the tip of a knife through batters to integrate.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
  1. In large heatproof bowl, beat egg whites, sugar and water.  Set bowl over barely simmering water and beat egg mixture until thick, marshmallowy and warm to the touch, for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. Beat for about 5 minutes or until cool and very thick.  Add butter in dollops, beating well between additions.  Ice cake, swirling frosting decoratively.  Garnish with chocolate curls.
Makes 10 servings

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Warm Chocolate Cake

Warm, rich, chocolate cake!  Great with a dash of whipping cream or ice cream.  Truly a comfort food. From Food and Drink 2003.

6 oz (175g) bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/3 cup all purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  In heavy pot on low heat, melt chocolate and butter together.  Cool slightly.
  2. Beat together sugar and egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and creamy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Pour in chocolate mixture and beat together for 5 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.  Fold into mixture along with flour.
  5. Pour into 6 nonstick buttered moulds or non stick muffin tins. (I did the muffin tins and found that I used 12 - you will have to adjust the cooking time to about 4 minutes if you do this). Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are just cooked and centre is still liquid.  
  6. Cool for 5 minutes in tins.  Carefully remove to serving dishes.  Serve with lightly whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cherry Almond Strudel

A really wonderful dessert with great flavour.  Really not that hard to make (but don't tell anyone that)!

From Food and Drink 2003

1 1/4 lb (;625g) sour cherries, pitted
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon

8 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a bowl, combine cherries, almonds, sugar, bread crumbs and cinnamon.  Reserve.
  3. Lay phyllo dough on counter and cover with a tea towel.  Remove first sheet, brush with butter.  Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup ground almonds and sprinkle about 1 tbsp over butter.  Top with a second sheet, butter and sprinkle with sugar almond mixture.  Repeat with remaining sheets.  Place cherry mixture about 2 inches from the long edge and 1 inch from the short edge.  Fold in short sides and roll phyllo into a strudel shape.  Brush with butter and cut 3 slits on top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is browned and cherry mixture is cooked.
Serves 6 to 8 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pad Thai

This is a wonderful dish full of flavour.  It is easy to substitute your favourite veggies and meats in this recipe...experiment and enjoy.  The original from Food & Drink 2003

250g broad rice noodles
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp chili sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
8 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz boneless, chicken breast, diced
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
6 green onions, slivered into 1 inch lengths
2 tbsp toasted chopped peanuts

Coriander sprigs
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup bean sprouts
fresh chilies, optional

  1. Soak noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, drain and reserve.  Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, oyster sauce, chili sauce and chicken stock.  Reserve.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet on high heat and add oil.  Stir in garlic, cook 10 seconds then add shrimp and chicken.  Stir fry until all ingredients are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add eggs and toss together until scrambled.
  3. Add noodles to the wok.  Mix well to combine all ingredients.  Pour in reserved sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly until noodles are soft and tender.  If they appear dry, add up to 1/4 cup water.
  4. Stir in bean sprouts, green onions, and peanuts and fry for 1 more minute.  Taste for seasoning, adding more lime or chili as needed.  Serve pad thai garnished with coriander, lime wedges, bean sprouts and chilies, if desired.
Serves 2 to 3