Friday, 29 January 2016

Eggs Benedict with Spinach and Bacon and Cheddar Waffles

Be prepared to spend a bit of time in the kitchen for this recipe, but the results are well worth it.  From Food and Drink Spring 2015

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp packed brown sugar, crumbled
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or soured milk)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp bacon fat, melted
250 g bacon, cooked until crisp, drained of fat, chopped
1 cup packed grated old cheddar cheese
Vegetable oil for greasing waffle iron

3 large egg yolks
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

1 tbsp unsalted butter
150 g baby spinach
1 tbsp white vinegar
8 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 green onions, sliced on the bias

  • Preheat oven to 200F
  • Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and stir until uniform.  Make a slight well in the centre.  Crack eggs into the well and pour buttermilk overtop.  Stir ingredients with a fork until incorporated.  Add butter and bacon fat and stir until fully combined.  Stir in bacon and cheese.
  • Heat waffle iron and lightly grease with vegetable oil, if necessary.  Using about 1/2 cup of batter per waffle (depending on the size of your waffle maker), pour in batter.  Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp and golden.  Eat immediately or place in a single layer on a rack over a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.  Freeze extra waffles or keep well wrapped in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheat at 300F for 5 minutes or until warmed and re-crisped.
  • Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the jar of a blender, and blend until foamy.  Heat butter until melted and bubbling.  While blender is running, pour hot butter in a slow steady stream.  Add salt and cayenne pepper and continue to process until hollandaise is pale yellow and thickened to the consistency of thin yogurt.  Set in a spot to keep warm.
  • Melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium high heat.  Add spinach and toss for 1 to 2 minutes of until just wilted.  Season with a pinch of salt.
  • Bring a large shallow pot of water to a boil.  Add vinegar.  Crack eggs into small ramekins.  Use a spoon to stir water in a circle.  Working with 1 at a time, slip eggs into the centre of the swirling water.  Turn heat down to low and poach eggs for 3 to 4 minutes or until whites are firm but yolks are runny.  Remove from water with a slotted spoon and blot with paper towels.
  • To assemble, break waffles in half or wafters and stack on serving plates.  Top with a small pile of spinach and 1 or 2 poached eggs.  Spoon 1 1/2 tsp of hollandaise over each egg, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with green onions.
Makes 4 large or 8 small servings

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Eclairs Modernes

Eclairs take a bit of time but they are well worth the effort.  These mini eclairs are light and delicious!  You can top them with traditional chocolate or follow some of these new flavours.  From Food and Drink Spring 2015


1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar

  • Arrange oven racks in top and middle positions.  Preheat oven to 450F.
  • In a medium pot over medium heat, combine milk, water, sugar, salt and butter; bring to a boil.  Whisk in vanilla.  Add flour all at once and stir until mixture comes away from the side of the pot. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook mixture, stirring all the while for 3 minutes longer.
  • Remove from heat and turn out into a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Beat with an electric mixer (or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer) for 3 minutes to cool somewhat.  Continue to beat and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round or French pastry tip.  Twist bag to enclose batter and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Pipe batter into two dozen 4-inch long batons, a scant 3/4 inch wide, allowing for equal space between them.  Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 350F.  Bake switching racks midway through for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden, puffed and crisp.  Allow to cool on a rack.
  • To make basic pastry cream, mix egg and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl.  Sift flour and cornstarch together and add to egg mixture.  Stir to form a smooth paste.
  • Heat milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; remove from heat and whisk slowly into egg mixture. Return mixture to pot and set over medium low heat.  Whisking constantly, bring mixture back to a boil; cook 1 minute longer.  Pour into a heatproof bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
  • In a separate large bowl, whip cream to soft peaks.  Add icing sugar and whip to stiff peaks.
  • Stir chilled pastry crea; fold in one third of whipped cream.  Fold in remaining whipped cream.
  • Cut eclairs in half to form a top and bottom.  Decoratively pipe desired filling onto bottoms.  Decorate tops with appropriate glaze and place on top of pastry cream.
Makes 24


Flavour basic pastry cream by adding 1/2 tsp vanilla exact to milk before scalding; increase cornstarch by 1 tsp.  Scoop the seeds and pulp from 5 passion fruit into a fine meshed sieve set over a bowl; using a spatula press mixture to release as much juice as possible.  Discard seeds and measure 1/3 cup juice.  Whisk into boiled and thickened custard.  Chill as directed and precede to incorporate whipped cream.

For glaze mash 1/4 cup thawed frozen raspberries; add to 1 cup icing sugar.  Stir to combine


Prior to beginning basic pastry cream, bring milk to a simmer in pot; add 2 tsp dried lavender and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Strain mixture, return milk to pot and proceed with basic pastry cream recipe from the beginning using lavender flavoured milk.

For glaze, combine 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 cup icing sugar; stir


Begin by making a pistachio paste by blanching 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios in boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove with a slotted to a clean dish towel, enclose and rub nuts between towel to remove skins.  Leave skins behind and place pistachios in a food processor along with 1 tbsp ground almonds, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 3 drops almond extract and 1 drop green food colouring; process to a smooth paste.  Whisk pistachio paste into chilled custard before folding in whipped cream.

For glaze combine 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest, 1 tbsp plus 1 stp plus orange juice, 1 tsp orange blossom water and 1 cup icing sugar, stir.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Toasted Spinach Ravioli

I absolutely loved this recipe.  Using pre made ravioli made it a lot simpler.  From Food and Drink Spring 2015.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano, or parmigiano cheese
24 fresh bite size spinach ravioli
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well combined.
  2. In a second medium bowl, stir together bread crumbs, parsley and cheese.
  3. Working in batches of 4, dip each ravioli into egg mixture, let excess drip off and place into bread crumbs.  Cover ravioli with bread crumbs and press gently for the crumbs to adhere.  Place breaded ravioli on a baking sheet and continue to bread the rest until all 24 are finished.
  4. In a large pot or high sided skillet, heat 1 cup oil over medium heat.  When a bread crumb sizzles in the oil, it is ready.  Place 5 to 6 ravioli into oil.  Cook until lightly golden on each side, about 1 minute per side.  Place cooked ravioli on a paper towel lined plate and continue cooking the remaining ravioli, adding more oil if needed.
  5. Serve ravioli warm with the Sun Dried Tomato and Green Olive Dip


1 can (398 ml) diced tomatoes, not drained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, dried or in oil
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup water

  • Place all ingredients in a small saucepan along with the water.  Cover and bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly and puree in food processor or blender until smooth.  Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Spiced Beef Pockets

This takes a bit of work but it is worth the effort.  From Food and Drink Spring 2015

3/4 cup plain yogurt (not greek)
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
500 g ground beef
2 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp blackcurrant jam
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup grated feta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

  1. Stir yogurt with egg, butter and salt in a large bowl.  Combine baking soda with flour in a small bowl.  Gradually add flour mixture to yogurt mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until all flour has been added.  Bring together into a ball, kneading gently with hands.
  2. Scrape dough on to a lightly floured surface.  Dusting with more flour as needed, knead for 6 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic.   Saute 2 minutes or until beginning to soften, then add beef, mint, cumin, coriander, allspice and cayenne.  Season with salt and sauté until beef loses pink colour, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add stock, tomato paste, jam and vinegar.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and cool. Stir in parsley and reserve.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Divide dough into 2 portions.  Roll first portion to 1/3 inch thickness.  Cut out as many 6 inch triangles as possible using a sharp knife.  Wrap and reserve dough scraps.  Place a heaping tbsp of feta into the centre of each triangle.  Top with 1/4 cup beef mixture.  Pull corners to centre and crimp together.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Roll out remaining dough with reserved scraps. Repeat assembly  with remaining cheese and beef mixture and transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Brush the top of the pockets with beaten egg.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Remove to a rack to cool.  
Serves 8 as a first course

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Orange Sesame Bok Choy and Soba Noodle Salad

I really like the combination of Asian Flavours and fresh vegetables in this salad.  From Food and Drink Spring 2015.  I couldn’t find Soba Noodles in my grocery store but substituted with an egg noodle.

175 g Soba noodles
3 oranges
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp liquide honey
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha or to taste
1/2 tsp dry or Dijon mustard
2 tsp sesame seeds
3 cups sliced bok choy
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 large sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

  • Bring a pot of salted water to the boil.  Add soba noodles and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until just al dente.  Drain and rinse under cool water until chilled.  Drain well.
  • Finely grate zest from 1 orange and squeeze 1/4 cup juice.  Place zest and juice in a large bowl.  Cut peel from remaining oranges, removing all white pith, and cut between membranes into segments, catching juices in a small bowl.  Add segments to small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.
  • To bowl with orange zest and juice ands 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil, the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, Sriracha and mustard; shirk to combine.  Measure out about 1/4 cup and set aside for vegetables.  Add noodles to remaining dressing in bowl and toss gently to coat.  Cover and refrigerate noodles for up to 4 hours.  Set reserved dressing aside at room temperature.
  • Just before serving, toast sesame seeds in a large dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant.  Immediately transfer to a bowl and set aside. 
  • Return skillet to medium heat and add remaining 1 tbsp vegetable oil.  Add boo chou, carrots and red pepper, and sauté for about 1 minute or just until wilted.  Pour in reserved dressing and stir to coat vegetables well.  Remove from heat.
  • Add orange segments with any accumulated juice and green onions to noodles, and toss to combine.  Divide among individual bowls or plates.  Top with warm vegetables, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serves 4 to 6

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Persian Chelo with Chicken

This is a spectacular Iranian dish of rice and chicken baked together on top of the stove to give a crisp crust and a soft filling.  I liked the combination of spices however I left out the raisins in mine (I just don’t like them) and as usual I cooked this in my cast iron fryer.  I got this recipe from Food and Drink Spring 2015.

1/3 cup butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 tsp ground allspice 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3 cups water

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp turmeric
1 kg skinless boneless chicken thighs, diced in 1 inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
6 cups packed spinach, washed, stemmed and sliced.
3/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp toasted chopped pistachios
2 tbsp sliced candied orange peel (optional)

  • Melt 3 tbsp butter in heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add allspice, cinnamon and black pepper.  Season with salt.  Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add rice and water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly al dent.  Remove from heat and spread rice on a baking sheet to cool.  Season with more salt if needed.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Add remaining oil and stir in garlic, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and turmeric, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to skillet and sauté for 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce is thick and chicken is no longer pink.  Add spinach and raisins and ooh for 2 more minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in mint.  Taste for seasoning and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Melt remaining butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat until butter is foamy.  Remove and reserve 2 tbsp of melted butter.  Remove pan from heat and add half of rice, spreading it evenly over base of skillet.  Use a spatula to compress it slightly.  Spoon chicken mixture over the rice in an even layer.  Finish with remaining rice, again compressing with a spatula.  Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a hole down through the centre of the mixture to let steam escape.  Drizzle with reserved melted butter.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice has formed a golden crust on the bottom.  Watch so it does not get too dark.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Use a spatula to loosen sides.  Reverse pan onto a large serving plate so the golden bottom crust is on top.  
  • Break up mixture with a spoon.  Garnish with pistachios and candied orange.
Serves 6

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Pecan Shortbreads with Cream Cheese Filling

These are a rich accompaniment to any dinner party.  They would go nicely with a glass of red wine!
Adapted from Food and Drink Holiday 2015.

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sifted icing sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

250 g Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely crumbled Goat Cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Place oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.
  3. In a bowl, stir flour with salt.  In a larger bowl, beat butter until very creamy, about 2 minutes.  Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in flour mixture, followed by the nuts, using floured hands to knead in the last of the flour and nuts.  Gather dough into a ball.
  4. Cut dough in half and place 1 piece on a flour-dusted work surface.  Form into a disc.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  If it becomes sticky, dust rolling pin and the work surface with flour.  Cut out cookies using a 1 1/2 to 2 inch cookie cutter.  Place on parchment covered sheets, about 1 inch apart.  Gather dough left after cutting, roll out and cut into cookies.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  
  5. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching sheets halfway through, until cookies are firm, from 15 to 17 minutes.  You do not want them to brown.  Leave on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.  Stored in a sealed container at room temperature, they’ll keep well for at least a week.
  6. To make filling, pulse cream cheese and goat cheese in a food processor until blended and creamy.  If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to a week.  Bring to room temperature before spreading over half the cookies, using about 1 tbsp on each.  Then add a cookie on top.  Ti’s best to make these no more than about an hour before the party since the filled cookies soften as they sit.
Makes about 18 filled sandwich cookies.