Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup with Grilled Camembert and Blue Cheese Sandwiches

I don't know what else to say besides MAKE THIS! Seriously so yummy and perfect for a chilly evening spent at home.

For the soup:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup red wine
28oz can whole tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp pepper
Pinch of salt
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat then add onions, celery, basil, thyme, and garlic. When onions are tender add red wine to de-glaze the pan. Toss in tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, worcestershire, salt and pepper then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add chicken broth then bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Partially puree using a immersion blender (I like this soup to be a little more rustic in texture.) Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add milk and whisk until thick, smooth, and bubbling. Whisk into tomato puree. Add additional salt & pepper to taste.

For the sandwiches:

1 chewy (sourdough is perfect) baguette, sliced diagonally about 1/2" thick
Blue cheese, crumbled

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Build mini sandwiches with 1 slice of bread, a slice of camembert, and a few crumbles of blue cheese. Toss into a non-stick frying pan and cook over med heat until brown and crispy, flipping once.

You can serve the sandwiches on the side or cut up as fancy soup croutons. So delish!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Croque Monsieur

This is another Ina Garten recipe (because I LOVE her) and makes a lovely dinner or lunch when paired with a green salad. So yummy!


* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups hot milk
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Pinch nutmeg
* 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
* 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
* Dijon mustard
* 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eggplant Gratin

I have always avoided eggplant because, well, I sort of think it tastes like a big yucky sponge. Rob seems to really love it though so I thought I would try this variation of an Ina Garten recipe... because the cheese should make the eggplant edible right? Yes! This dish is so tasty... I served it with pasta tossed with marinara sauce. So yummy! This dish would also be really yummy with zuchinni in the place of eggplant.


* Good olive oil, for frying
* 1.5 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
* 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
* 2 large eggs
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
* Kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup marinara sauce


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In a 9 x 13" baking dish, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt and pepper and marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, the ricotta mixture, and finally the remaining Parmesan.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Curried Rice Salad

Salad Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cup minute rice (Cook as per instructions on box) 
  • 1 can (14 ounce) niblets corn (can also use frozen corn)
  • 10 ounces frozen peas (I don't measure – just throw in enough to look good)
  • 1 ½ cups celery  - sliced fine (again, I don't measure – just throw in enough to look good)
Dressing: mix separately and stir into rice mixture
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2/3 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brocoli Cheese Soup


1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
Splash of olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, room temperature
1/2 pound chopped frozen or fresh broccoli
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound of cheddar cheese
, grated
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil in soup pot on medium low heat.

2. Add onion, carrot, and salt. Saute until onions and carrots are soft.

3. In separate pot, melt butter on medium low heat.

4. Add flour to melted butter a bit at a time. Mix well to prevent lumps.

5. Cook flour and butter mixture for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

6. Slowly add milk to flour and butter, mixing thoroughly as you go to remove lumps.

7. When all the milk is added, return it to the heat, and gently warm it up.

8. When the milk, butter and flour mixture (white sauce) is hot, begin to add the cheese a bit at a time. Allow it to melt in before adding more.

9. When onions and carrots are done cooking, add chicken stock and broccoli. Turn up heat to medium-high.

10. Slowly add the cheese sauce to the soup, mixing thoroughly as you do so to avoid lumps. (If you can't tell, I don't likelumps!)

11. Add pepper, and more salt if necessary.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Apricot Orange Sorbet

Bright flavours and so refreshing on a warm summer day! Fresh sorbets are best if consumed in the first day or two, so don't make this too far in advance.

1 cup dried apricots
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Cognac.

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the apricots and 1 1/2 cups water. Simmer uncovered until the apricots are very soft and most of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not scorch.

2. Make a sugar syrup by boiling the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water for about eight minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 215 degrees. Mix the sugar syrup with the apricot puree.

3. Puree together apricots & sugar syrup in a blender or food processor.

4. Add orange juice and Cognac to the puree. Refrigerate until well-chilled.

5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions or in a pan in the freezer. If freezing without a machine, stir the mixture as it hardens from time to time.

Yield: 1 quart.

No Hangover Tequila Chicken Tacos with Guacamole

Adapted from Cuizoo

Serves 4

1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup orange juice
Juice and zest of two limes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 t sea salt
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

3 avocados, peeled and pit removed
2 large clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 t sea salt
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Corn tortillas or soft taco shells
Salsa (freshly made takes it to another level)
Sour Cream
Freshly shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions

1. Whisk together marinade ingredients, except chicken thighs, in a pyrex baking dish. Place chicken thighs in marinade and turn to coat. Marinate for at least an hour, more if you have time.

2. Mash together guacamole ingredients and set aside. (Before mashing, I like to reserve one avocado and cut that into chunks. I then add the chunks to the mashed guacamole for better texture. Your choice.)

3. Grill chicken thighs over indirect heat for about 15-20 minutes until done. Remove, let rest, and slice into strips.

4. Serve chicken and guacamole with soft taco shells, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese and green onions.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Salmon Burgers

This is a recipe I adapted from watching some BBQ chef on the Food Network during the summer. So yummy dressed up on a fresh kaiser or ciabatta bun with a spicy tartar-style sauce* and fresh dill!

- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) boneless, skinless salmon fillet (about half a fish)
- 1 1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb bacon, cooked to crispy & crumbled
- 3/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or more, if you like!)
- Zest of 2 lemons

Cut salmon into 1" cubes. In 2 or 3 batches, pulse in food processor until coarsely chopped and transfer to a bowl. Mix salmon with remaining ingredients, and form into 8-10 patties, 3/4-1" thick. Grill over medium heat, 5-6 mins per side. Alternatively, freeze between sheets of waxed paper and cook straight from frozen.

* Spicy tartar-style sauce: Mayo, green relish (dill or sweet) and a splash of chili paste (like sambal oelek). Adjust ingredients to taste.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Orecchiette with Pancetta and Peas.

From Rachel Ray...


* Salt and pepper
* 1 pound orecchiette pasta
* 3 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1/3 pound pancetta or speck (smoked pancetta) or lean, thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
* 2 cups frozen peas
* 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
* Grated peel of 1 lemon
* A handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
* 2 cups cow’s or sheep’s-milk ricotta cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the peas and heat through for 2 minutes; season with the thyme, lemon peel and pepper.

Add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking water and the drained pasta; toss to combine. Add the Pecorino Romano and toss. Serve in bowls and top with the ricotta, for stirring in as you eat.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Key Lime Pie

In honour of Pi Day (March 14... 3-14, hah), I made this key lime pie for my husband last night. It's creamy and tangy and sweet all at the same time, so tasty!

(from Joy of Baking)

1 1.4 c graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted

3 large egg yolks
1 can (14oz/300mL) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (juice of about 1 lb key limes)
2 tsp lime zest

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar & butter. Press into a greased 9" pie or tart pan and place in the fridge to chill.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (if using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment), whip egg yolks until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy, another 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and beat in lime juice and zest.

Pour filling into prepared crust, and bake for 10 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Pie may be covered and refrigerated at this point up to two days.

Just before serving, beat whipping cream to soft peaks. Add sugar & beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon whipped cream onto pie and serve!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chicken and Veggie Pockets

This recipe is from a baby/toddler cookbook so it's not a 'big' meal but great to make ahead, freeze and pull out for quick/easy lunches.

Chicken & Veggie Pockets

1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced, about 2/3C
2/3c fresh or frozen corn
1 1/4c finally chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2c shredded white cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
All purpose flour for dusting
1 large egg, lightly beaten

- In frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leek and saute until soften, 5-8m. Add the corn and saute until tender, 2-3m longer. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool, then stir in teh chicken and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste

- Unfold 1 sheet of the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out to the thickness of about 1/8". using a 3" round cookie cutter (I used one of my drinking glasses that has a wide mouth), cut out 8 rounds and arrange on baking sheet. Repeat with the second puff pastry.

- Place 1-2 TBSP of the chicken mixture on one half of each round. Brush the edges of the round with the beaten egg and fold the dough over the filling to make a crescent shaped pocket. Press on the edges to help them adhere, then crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Pierce the pockets in severa places with the fork. Brush the tops lightly with a little more of the beaten egg. Refrigerate for about 20m

- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Transfer the pockets directly from the refrigerator to the oven and bake until puffed and golden, 16-18m. Let cool slightly then serve.

Store it - Wrap the cooled chicken pockets in aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. thaw in refrigerator and re-heat in oven.

Recipe from - The Baby & Toddler Cookbook section 12-18m

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guinness Cottage Pie

(Adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Great British Pub Food)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 lb. lean ground beef
Salt & pepper
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1 large carrot, diced
1 1/2 c Guinness (1 bottle)
5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-1/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 c frozen corn niblets
3/4 c frozen peas
Sprinkle of sugar
2 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled & roughly chopped (* See note)
1/4 c butter
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar, plus extra for grating
1 large egg yolk

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat and brown the ground beef. Season with salt & pepper. When cooked, remove to a bowl & set aside. Drain if it's especially fatty.

Return skillet to heat, add remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Cook onions, garlic & thyme until onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste and cooked ground beef. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add Guinness & worcestershire sauce, bring to a simmer and let cook until reduced by half. Pour in stock and stir in corn and peas, return to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until thick and glossy, about 20 minutes. If mixture is still a little liquidy, let simmer another 5-10 minutes. Taste & adjust seasoning, adding a sprinkle of sugar if the tomato acidity is too overpowering.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350, and add potatoes to a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain, then return to the hot pan for 15 seconds or so to dry them out, then remove from heat. Pass potatoes through a potato ricer, or mash with a hand masher. Mix in butter, cheese & egg yolk. Taste & adjust seasoning.

Spoon the beef mixture into the bottom of a large pie dish, 9x13 pan or casserole dish. Spoon blobs of mashed potato over top, even out and rough up with a fork. Grate on some more cheddar, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

* Note: Ramsay's original recipe calls for a floury, starchy potato, peeled. We made this with a waxy yukon gold, unpeeled, and it was a delicious, rustic alternative. Any potatoes you want, peeled or unpeeled, will surely work well in this.

Salmon Burgers

2 lbs boneless skinless salmon fillet
1 1/2 c fine breadcrumbs
4 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 lb bacon, cooked to crispy & crumbled
3/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 Tbsp maple syrup
Zest of 2 lemons

Cut salmon into 1" cubes. Pulse in food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to bowl, and mix salmon with remaining ingredients. Form into 8-10 patties, about 3/4" thick. Grill over medium heat, about 5-6 mins per side. Serve on fresh buns with mayo & dill.

These also freeze very well, and cook well from frozen!

Our favourite condiment on these is a spicy tartar sauce - we mix together mayo, green relish and as much sambal oelek (chile paste) as we can stand.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Best Steak Sandwiches Ever!

My husband and I came up with this open-faced sandwich when we had a bunch of steak left over from the night before. These are truly delicious!

1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly in half-rounds
splash of white wine - optional
8 oz leftover steak, sliced thinly
4 slices of bread (preferably a nice crusty loaf)
1/2 stick garlic butter
3-4 oz old white cheddar, or swiss cheese, sliced thin (or grated)

Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add onions and saute 'til golden brown, soft and caramelized. If desired, deglaze pan with a quick splash of white wine. Remove onions to a bowl & set aside.

Return pan to heat. Let warm and add sliced steak. Stir quickly to heat through, remove from heat.

Lay bread on a baking sheet. Spread top side with garlic butter. Layer with warm steak, caramelized onions, and cheese.

Stick under broiler for a couple minutes, until cheese is melty and bubbly. Serve!

Healthy Fruit Freezie-Pops

8 oz yogurt (plain or vanilla)
2 cups strawberries
2 cups banana
1/2 cup pineapple juice

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Pour into popsicle molds, or use paper cups with a stick inserted. Freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.

This recipe can easily be adapted for any of your kid's favourite fruits!

Pancit Canton

(Adapted from Recipezaar)

3 dried chinese mushrooms (shiitake or black)
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 - 1.5 lbs meat (* see note)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 cup green beans, julienned (or cut frozen ones)
2 carrots, julienned
8oz (1 pkg) pancit noodles (Chinese wheat noodles)
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
green onions, sliced
lemon wedges

Soak mushrooms in warm water for 30 mins. Remove from water, discard tough stems & slice caps. Set aside, retaining soaking water as well.

Heat oil in a large wok or skillet. Add onions, saute until tender. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

If using raw meat, add now and cook until browned. If using leftovers/pre-cooked, just stir to heat through.

Add soy sauce and stir to deglaze pan. Add chicken broth & bring to a boil.

Add cabbage, green beans, carrots & mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, 5-8 mins.

Add noodles, pressing into the liquid and mixing gently to avoid breakage. Cook until noodles are done and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. At this point, keep an eye on the noodles, if they need more liquid, add some of the mushroom water.

Remove from heat. Stir in fish sauce. Season with pepper, garnish with green onions and lemon wedges. Serve.

This is a great dish to eat as leftovers the second day. So yummy!

* Note: Use 1 to 1.5 lbs of pork, chicken or shrimp, or any combination of those. Leftover/pre-cooked meat is great too!

Chinese-Style Fried Rice

I've been craving fried rice from my local chinese restaurant lately, but figured it couldn't be that hard to make at home! This is adapted from several internet recipes I've found.

3 Tbsp oil (something flavourless like canola, sunflower, peanut)
1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
splash of soy sauce
splash of sesame oil
1-2 cups cooked boneless meat (chicken, pork, even shrimp are really good in this)
1-2 carrots, finely diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups cooked rice (great way to use leftover rice!)
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok or large frying pan. Add onions and cook until they are beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from wok.

Mix eggs with a splash of soy and splash of sesame oil. Add another tbsp oil to the hot wok, swirl to coat. Add egg and scramble, then remove from pan when cooked.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, add meat, carrots, peas and cooked onions, stir fry for 2-3 mins.

Add rice, green onions and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well. Cook another 3-5 mins.

Add soy sauce and stir. Fold in cooked egg carefully and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve!

Coffee Peppercorn Steak

(Adapted from Eating Well)

3 Tbsp strong coffee
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp whole black (or mixed) peppercorns, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 1.5 lbs steak (* see note)

Mix together, pour over meat & marinate for a few hours, or overnight. Grill steak to your desired doneness.

* Note: Use your favourite cut of beef! The original recipe calls for 1 lb of flank steak, but we have used this on a pound and a half of striploin with delicious results.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nuts and Bolts

Okay this is the last recipe I am posting today :P

Nuts and Bolts

1 box plain cheerios
1 box shreddies
1 box crispix
2 boxes cheese nips
2 bags pretzels
1 bag peanuts
1 1/4 cup butter - melted
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp onion salt
2 tsp celery salt

• Heat oven to 250.
• Mix cereals, crackers, peanuts and pretzels in a large roasting pan.
• Mix butter and spices. Pour butter mixture over cereals a little at a time, mixing well.
• Bake for about 1 hour, stirring twice. Cool completely and store in air tight containers.
• Should be made at least 4 weeks ahead for best flavour.

Roasted Garlic and Brie Soup

1 can chicken stock
1-2 cans water
2 heads of garlic
Olive oil
1 small round of brie (about 200g)
Black pepper (optional)
Fresh cut chives (optional)

Heat the oven to 350F. Slice of the top of the head of garlic so all of the cloves are exposed. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until cloves are soft but not too brown on top - about 35-45 minutes. Allow garlic to cool. Bring stock and water to a boil over medium heat. Remove garlic flesh from peels and add to stock. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up brie (including rind) into 1/2" pieces. Place half the brie and half the stock/garlic mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Repeat with other half of mixture. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more hot water. Return to pot and keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with a sprinkling of ground black pepper or fresh chives.

Parmesan chicken

1 whole chicken
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Whorchestershire
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 tsp dried parsley
pinch of salt

Cut up chicken in peices (breast, back, etc). Mix together melted butter, dry mustard, whorechestershire, and garlic powder in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Dunck chicken pieces in butter mixture, then in parmesan mixture. Bake on a cookie sheet or slotted roaster (so grease drips through) at 350 for about 1 hour on until done.

Chocolate trifle with marscapone & hazelnut brittle

1 chocolate cake (I just make one from a mix), cooled
2 cups whipping cream
1 container of marscapone, room temperature
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups toasted hazelnuts
chocolate to shave/grate for garnish

- first you are going to make the hazelnut brittle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the hazelnuts out on it. In a small pan, mix together 1 1/3 cups water and 2/3 cup white sugar. Cook over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook the mixture until it is a light brown color, about 8 minutes. Pour over hazelnuts and then pop the cookie sheet into the fridge for about 30 minutes or until nice and hard. Top with another sheet of parchment paper and bash into small pieces.

- grab yourself a medium pot and a glass or metal bowl can sit on top. Fill the pot with water to just below where the bowl sits and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to med-low (enough to keep a rolling bowl) and add your egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar to the bowl. Wisk constantly until the mixture thickens and forms ribbons when you lift the wisk (about 6 minutes). Remove bowl and allow mixture to cool - stirring often.

- Whip cream until stiff. In a large bowl, fold together cooled egg mixture and marscapone cheese. When that is properly incorporated, fold in whipped cream.

- Now all you have to do is assemble. If you so this in advance the brittle will get a little soft (but is still yummy) so if you want that crunch you should probably assemble right before serving. I start with a large trifle bowl and crumble in 1/3 of the chocolate cake,top that with 1/3 of the marscapone cream, and then 1/4 of the brittle. Repeat twice, using the last half of the brittle for the topping. Top with some grated chocolate and serve. Sooooo good.

Mushroom Risotto

I know, I know, I am posting a lot but I am trying to put all my recipes in one place and this seemed like the best option!

Mushroom Risotto (adapted from a Giada recipe)

8 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional

Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the broth warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms and garlic. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth). Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Butter Tart Squares

Make these... just dooo it!

1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup raisins
1 T. flour
3 eggs beaten
2 cups brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 T. vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a pastry cutter, combine butter with dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly (it will look similar to pastry dough before the addition of any liquid). Press the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine raisins and flour. Mix well so that no raisins are still clumped together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, brown sugar, baking powder, and vanilla. Slowly add melted butter. Add in raisins and stir well.
Pour topping mixture over shortbread base and bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Note: I made the shortbread base in my food processor and it turned out fabulously. I also used room temp butter for the base.

Fiesta Shrimp

2 pounds cooked shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 anaheim pepper, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons snipped cilantro or parsley
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a heavy plastic bag set in a medium bowl combine garlic, lime peel, lime juice, olive oil, onion, anaheim pepper, cilantro or parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix well. Place cooked shrimp in the bag; seal bag. Turn bag to coat shrimp with marinade mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

To serve, drain the shrimp, discarding the marinade.

Gypsy Soup

(Adapted from from Mollie Katzen, "Moosewood Cookbook, via International Vegetarian Union)

* 3-4 tablespoons olive oil -- up to 4T
* 2 cups chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 2 cloves chopped garlic
* 2 cups sweet potatoes -- chopped & peeled
* splash of white wine (or broth or water)
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1 teaspoon turmeric
* 1 teaspoon basil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon
* dash cayenne
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 chopped fresh tomatoes
* 3/4 cup chopped sweet peppers (~1/2 a pepper)
* 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can)
* 4-5 cups stock or water
* 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
* salt & pepper

In a soup kettle or large saucepan, saute onions, garlic, celery and sweet potatoes in olive oil for about five minutes. Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine (or broth or water. Add seasonings, stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant, then add stock (or water). Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and chickpeas, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with tamari, add salt & pepper to taste.

NOTES: The vegetables used in this soup are flexible. Carrots, green beans, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, zucchini, etc all make excellent additions or substitutions. My husband also noted that this would be a great soup to add bacon to at the beginning, or possibly cooked & sliced sausage (like italian or honey garlic) right at the very end.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spaghetti with Roasted Red Pepper & Toasted Almond Pesto

(Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen)

1 c drained jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry
1/3 c grated parmesan cheese (the real stuff!)
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted (* see note)
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1 lb spaghetti (** see note)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In food processer, process red peppers, parmesan, almonds, basil, garlic & lemon juice until smooth. With motor running, slowly add oil until incorporated. Season with salt & pepper.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 c cooking water, drain pasta & return to pot. Add pesto & toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time as needed. Serve.

*Note: To toast almonds, toss in a dry pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant.

** Note: Penne, fusilli & bow ties are good pasta substitutions for this recipe.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Butternut Squash & Pesto Penne

1 small butternut squash, peeled, and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 tbsp butter
1 cup chicken stock
2 oz (1/4 package) cream cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp pesto
Salt & Pepper
1 pkg penne
Shaved parmesan

Steam butternut squash until fork tender and drain. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

In a deep frying pan, saute steamed squash cubes in butter. Mash gently with a spoon as you saute. Add chicken stock, cream cheese, grated parmesan, pesto, and salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Cook pasta while the sauce is coming up to a boil.

Toss warm sauce with cooked and drained pasta (add a few ladles of pasta water if the sauce is too thick) and top with shaved parmesan. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Caesar Salad Dressing

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp mayonnaise

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Toss with romaine, croutons, and grated parmesan. Toss in a handful of roasted garlic cloves for a treat!

Pasta Puttanesca

Made this for a few friends last night... so yummy! This recipe makes more than enough sauce for 1lb of pasta so you could probably freeze half and save it for later!

1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
8 anchovy fillets (about 1 can)
1/2 tsp ground chili flakes
1 28oz can tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1-2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chopped olives (I use a mix of jumbo green and kalamata)
2 tbsp capers
Black pepper
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
1lb of pasta
Grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for a minute, stirring to break up the anchovies. ADD the chili flakes, capers, olives, tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. Top drained pasta with sauce and parsley. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.