Thursday, 31 July 2008

Barefoot Bonus Day

July’s Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge was chosen by Becke of Columbus Foodie. She chose Ina’s Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry and Grande Marnier Sauce found in Barefoot in Paris, page 189.

I was all set to make this, even after an unsuccessful search for a coeur a la creme mould in Canada. (Thank you to all who have sent me American links for product but the shipping and duty is astronomical)

I left my cream cheese out all morning and had oodles of fresh and frozen berries and started to get to work. One problem, no whipping cream. Ok, not no whipping cream but only about 3/4 of a cup. The cream cheese went back into the fridge and I made the herb baked eggs that I had missed before. I really want to make the coeur a la creme, even if I have to make it in a strainer, and plan on posting it with the next barefoot blogging dish. I promise!

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside.

Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet.

Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.)

The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.

Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

This is a great breakie dish as it is simple to make, easily multiplied for guests and looks and tastes elegant. You can't go wrong. Of course, you know me, I increased the herbs and used a lot more garlic than she did! Sigh, too much of a good thing is wonderful. Right Ina?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Daring Bakers - Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

The Daring Bakers strike again! This time the lovely bakers have created Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter, as chosen by Chris from Mele Cotte.

Imagine, all over the world, cakes being made from the same recipe. Click here to see the recipe on the Mele Cotte website and to see how Chris's turned out.

I am a mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Daring Baker type. Which is to say, I just finished my cake about six hours ago. What slows me down? Fear. I am afraid of some recipes and this one was a recipe that contained about seven other recipes. Sugar syrup, apricot glaze, praline buttercream, filbert genoise, ganache glaze, whipped cream. Crazy.

So, how did I do? All in all, not too bad. I halved the recipe and used a six inch springform pan. Most of the steps turned out except for the buttercream. It was against me from the beginning. I followed the directions but it would not be appeased. I did use it in the layers of the cake but did not pipe it on top as it had the consistency of ricotta cheese - although it tasted great!

This cake will not win any beauty contests but let me assure you, it was delish!

Click here for the Daring Bakers blogroll to see how the other amazing baking folk fared.

Whisk Wednesdays: Bisque de Langoustines

"Honey, my meeting with Tom has been postponed, I won't be late tonight."
"Great, you can set fire to the soup!"

This is one conversation that would never have taken place in my kitchen before Whisk Wednesdays.

For today's lesson from Le Cordon Bleu at Home we made a Bisque de Langoustines (page 185). We were allowed to substitute shrimp or lobster for the langoustines if they were not available. They weren't. I found some fancy, dancy, giant shrimp at the grocers and away we went.

The soup part of the dish came together fairly easily. We made a stock out of the shells and some aromatics, used straining and thickening techniques to get a good consistency and added quenelles for texture. The quenelles were a little tricky for me.

Have you ever seen chefs on tv rolling batter or something back and forth between two spoons? They are making quenelles. It is not as easy as it looks and I think I got worse at it as time went on.

The soup looked and smelled amazing, funny looking quenelles and all. I halved the recipe and made just enough for hubs and I for dinner. It tasted expensive and French and delicious. That's a good thing.

And I did manage to serve it before midnight!

Check out Whisk: a food blog to see step by step instructions, find out how you can play along, and to find how the others did.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

TWD - Nectarine Galette

The sweetest day.

Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs selected Summer Fruit Galette on pages 366 - 367 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Seriously, if you do not have the book - go buy it. I will wait. It is a must for the collection.

(Buddha stickie note guarding my nectarines)

A galette is like a free form pie, sans pie dish, and I had never made a proper one before. Nectarines were on sale so they got to be my main ingredient. I just made the dough, halved the nectarines, tarted up the dough with some graham crumbs and strawberry/rhubarb jam and placed the nectarine halves cut side down, leaving a border around the edge. The edge gets folded in and it gets popped into the oven. Meanwhile you make a custard and when the galette is almost ready, pour the custard in. In my case I had to spoon out some juices to fit the custard but that's ok, they were delicious.

My daughter was home and she said that it was the best thing that she had ever eaten. The three of us finished it in 24 hours. I would definitely make this again.

Check out the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll to see how the others fared.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

For Sher, What Did You Eat?

This week has been an emotional one for the online cooking/writing community. There have been a couple of events that have left us feeling like one homogeneous organism rather than individual writers spread out all over the world. Most painful was the loss of one of our own, Sher from What Did You Eat?

Sher and I were more acquaintances than friends as I have only been part of this community for a few short months. We took part in a few cooking and baking challenges together and exchanged kind, supportive feedback. I had been following her posts recently on facing anemia as my daughter also suffers from it.

This vivacious lady, who I did not know as well as I now wish I did, has brought tears to my eyes, entered my dreams and remains in my heart.

It is through Weekend Herb Blogging and Bread Baking Babes that it was decided that today's post will be a memorial to Sher and what we cook will come from her website.

I have chosen the Ginger Chicken and have posted it here exactly as she had it written.

Ginger Chicken For The Accident Prone Personality

From Sher’s top 10 recipes of 2006
Ginger Chicken (Food & Wine)

Note: If the amount of the ginger seems excessive, add half of it, as the recipe describes, as the dish is cooking. Then add half of the remaining ginger just before your serve it. Taste to see if you would like more ginger. If you do, add the rest of the ginger.

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Thai red chiles, chopped, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
One 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slivers
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3-by-1-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
6 cilantro sprigs, cut into 1-inch lengths

1. In a small heavy saucepan, cook 2 tablespoons of the sugar over moderate heat until bubbling and beginning to brown around the edges, 4 minutes. Gradually stir in 1/3 cup of the hot water and simmer for 3 minutes to dissolve the caramel. Remove from the heat.
2. Heat the oil in a casserole. Add the chiles, garlic and half of the ginger and stir-fry over moderate heat until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chicken, fish sauce, salt and the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until the chicken turns white, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion wedges, the remaining 1/4 cup of hot water and the caramel sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 3 minutes longer. Stir in the remaining ginger and remove the pot from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.

Sher had posted this as a favourite comfort meal in a meme from after she had taken a tumble on her kitchen tiles. We could all use a little comfort.

As Sher was a cat lover, I have included a picture of Persephone. A black cat that we rescued about 12 years ago and who considers the finished basement her own apartment as it is blessedly free of puppies.

I wish love and peace to all of her family and friends.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Welcome - kalōs orisate!

Welcome - kalōs orisate, long time no see - keró íha na sas do.
Please, let me take your bag. Did you have an enjoyable trip?

Let me pour you a little wine, you must be warm. Perhaps a nice white to go with meze? We will save the red for dinner.

Peter has made some excellent suggestions, I hope you approve.

Now then, tell me all about your day.

Dolmades - Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 lb. ground beef (or lamb)
½ cup med or short grain rice
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tsp dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
50-60 preserved grape leaves
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Boiling water
Lemon juice to taste
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion. Sauté until onion is tender. Add meat. cook until meat is crumbly and browned. Add rice, mint, dill, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until rice is glazed. Add ¾ cup water. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in juice of ½ lemon. Cool. Cut stems from grape leaves. Place grape leaves in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over leaves. Drain and rinse. Cool. Line bottom of large saucepan with 2 of 3 large leaves. Place each leaf shiny-side down on a flat surface. Spoon about 1 tbsp meat mixture in center of each leaf. Roll up, tucking in ends as you roll. Stack rolls, seam side down, in an even layer over grape leaves in saucepan. Cover with layer of lemon slices, repeat. Cover with any leftover grape leaves. Place lid from a smaller pot on top to weigh the rolls down. Pour water over to cover by 1 inch. Cover and simmer 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Leaves should be tender but chewy. Cool slightly. Arrange stuffed grape leaves on a platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice to taste.

Melintzanosalata - Eggplant Dip
1 large eggplant
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 small onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Use a fork to pierce eggplant in several places. Place pierced eggplant on oven rack and bake 1 hour or until soft. Cool. Peel and chop. Place in salad bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate to chill.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp dill weed
Vegetable oil
In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Add just enough water to bring dough together. Knead on floured board. Divide into 6 balls. Cover with towel and let rest 10 minutes. Heat cast iron pan on medium high. Oil lightly. When hot shape each ball into 6 inch round and grill on both sides until cooked though. Can be made ahead and heated up in the oven for dinner.

Elies Marinates - Marinated Olives
1 ½ cups black olives
1 lemon, chopped
Generous drizzle olive oil, red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp each dry thyme and oregano
1-2 hot peppers, chopped
Combine and refrigerate overnight.

Oh, I have been so swept away by your stories that I didn't notice we were out of wine. Let me fetch the red and put the dinner in the oven. It won't take long.

Cheers - stiniyia' soo!

Now then, a little dinner. Bon appetit - Kalí órexi!

Garides Giouvetsi - Shrimp and Feta Bake
20 medium shrimp
¼ cup olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 cup chopped fresh herbs - parsley, thyme, lemon thyme, oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Chopped parsley for garnish
Clean, shell and devein shrimp. Refrigerate. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add yellow onion. Saute until tender. Add green onions and garlic. Add tomatoes, herbs, wine, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until thickened. About 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon half the tomato sauce into 2 gratin dishes. Cover with shrimp. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cheese evenly over sauce. Bake 15 - 20 minutes or until shrimp is pink and cheese is golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley.

I hope you have enjoyed your Greek dinner this week with My Kitchen, My World, as I have enjoyed my time with you. A little coffee then, before you have to go. Wonderful.
All of today's recipes were adapted from Middle Eastern Cooking, 1982, by Rose Dosti.
Good bye - Yiá sas.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Bread Baking Day #12: Small Breads

Bread Baking Day is an event started by Zorra at 1x umrühren bitte, dedicated to getting bread makers together every month to expand their bread baking repertoire and experiment with new breads together. This month's theme is small breads and is hosted by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen. Visit her site to find breads and vegetarian dishes to delight the senses.

Aparna was kind enough to provide a list of ideas for small breads and I immediately jumped on the pretzels. I have always wanted to make them but needed a gentle shove.

I had a recipe from Alford and Duguid's Home Baking and just adjusted the directions a bit.
Baker’s Sign Pretzels
Makes 8
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp wheat malt syrup or barley malt syrup
2 ½ - 3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
Shaping and baking
1/3 cup baking soda
1 ½ cups water
2 egg yolks, beaten with 4 tsp milk, for egg wash

Place the milk in a medium bowl and stir in the yeast to dissolve it well. Add the malt syrup and 1 cup of the flour and stir until you have a smooth batter. Sprinkle on the salt, add the butter, and stir well to incorporate. Add 1 ¼ cups more flour and stir and turn the dough to incorporate it. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, incorporating more flour as necessary.

Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 1 ½ hours until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Turn dough out to lightly floured surface and cut into 4 pieces, cut each piece in half.

Working with 2 pieces at a time, roll them out like long, skinny snakes. About 24 to 30 inches and tapered at the ends. Twist into pretzel shape and place on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest and when you are done let them rise 10 minutes.

Heat water in med/large saucepan until almost boiling. Add baking soda and stir well to dissolve. Reduce to constant simmer.

With large heatproof spatula, pick up first pretzel and dip into simmering water, keeping it on the spatula, for 20 seconds.

Let drain, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt, sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you wish. Place back on baking sheet and repeat with the rest.

Bake pretzels for 10-12 minutes in upper third of oven until deep golden brown. Cool on rack and serve warm or room temperature.

The pretzels were wonderful and very forgiving as I shoved them here and there while I was getting the flow worked out. The only thing is - do not put on anywhere near the salt that I used. I had to scrape most of it off. And I am a salt fiend. A little goes a long way. Otherwise, we loved them. (They were particularly good dipped in the smoked salmon spread) I can't wait to make them again.

Click here for part #1 of the round-up!

Barefoot Blogging - Smoked Salmon Spread

This week in Barefoot Blogging, the Smoked Salmon Spread from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 35, was chosen by Ashley from The Spicy Skillet. Click here for the recipe.

This was a nice, simple dish to make and came together fairly easily. The ingredients were a little costly but it was worth it, smoked salmon is hubby's favourite.

I made this for him to come home to the other night when he had to work late. I served it with some homemade pretzels that I will post later. He had a happy look with his little pot of smoked salmon spread, his pretzels and his beer. He felt loved.

The recipe says that the spread gets better over time so this can be made a day or two ahead of time for a gathering which is great. The more I can pre-assemble the better.

I still have a little in the fridge, breakfast?

Click here for the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll or to see how you can play along.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Whisk Wednesdays: Veloute Agnes Sorel and another Meme.

This week's lesson from Le Cordon Bleu At Home is Veloute Agnes Sorel.
Cream of Chicken Soup Agnes Sorel. Pages 444,445.

The recipe starts with a history lesson that I will share with you.

"Agnes Sorel (1422-1450) was a favourite of Charles VII of France. Several dishes have been made in her honour, most of which contain chicken and a garnish that includes ham or tongue. The whiteness of these dishes echoes Agnes's purity, and the red the blushing beauty of 'Dame Sorel.'"

I quite enjoyed this soup. Until last week I had never poached a chicken before and now I have done it again. I am starting to feel like a pro. This soup was heartier and more flavourful than the Julienne Darblay, in part due to my more heavy handedness with the herbs and salt and pepper. I liked the way the ham added a bit of a zing to the chicken soup. I decided on the ham over the tongue as I am a bit squeamish regarding the latter and if old Aggie was so pure she doesn't need any.

I also left the darker parts on the mushrooms as I had creminis and thought it would be a losing battle. I hope that this in no way casts suspicion on Agnes's purity.

I didn't find that the soup thickened much at the end, certainly not enough to coat the back of a spoon. After several minutes I decided to pull it from the heat and not risk separation.

We greatly enjoyed it. It was hearty and satisfying. I served it with some homemade dilled bread and a whipped herb butter.

The book says it serves 6 but I think that if it is the main meal it serves 4.

What did hubby think? He loved it and took the leftovers to work for lunch.

Next week - Bisques de Langoustines.

Check out Whisk: a food blog for the blogroll, detailed instructions on the soup, and information about playing along.
I have been tagged by Debinhawaii from Kahakai Kitchen - here are 29 things you may or may not have wanted to know about me.
(Deb - you are in trouble! You are lucky I love you so much.)

1. Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theatre?
Iron Man, with my 15 year old son. I love Robert Downey Jr., such a cutie.
2. What Book Are You Reading?
I just finished Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires last night. Ruth Reichl is the editor of Gourmet magazine. I also just finished rereading Waiting for Godot (don’t ask me why) and am currently reading Beyond the Great Wall, Alford and Duguid. I am also still in the middle of Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart. I am just starting How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher. I have a habit of keeping a lot of balls in the air.
3. Favourite Board Game?
I like Trivial Pursuit. I haven’t played in a while though.
4. Favourite Magazine?
Uh, GourmetBonAppetitSaveurFoodandWine. Martha didn’t make it as, as much as I love the rest of the magazine - I can’t get into the crafting and cleaning. Or that doctor.
5. Favourite Smells?
Good fruit, hubby, garlic and lemon. Rain.
6. Favourite Sounds?
Pugs snoring - too cute!
7. Worst Feeling In The World?
8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
Why do I have a man who needs to get up at 5 am? Why do they always play the most obnoxious music at 5 am? I have to pee.
9. Favourite Fast Food Place?
Licks! - Hamburgers - Canadian.
10. Future Child’s Name?
If by child you mean puppy - maybe Virgil for a frenchie, Nigella for a black pug, Sailor and Lula for dachshunds.
11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money,"
I would have a big house in B.C. with lots of land and hired help for the enormous veggie garden that I would have. Also sheep, I would like to make cheese.
12. Do You Drive Fast?
Don’t drive. Sometimes walk fast.
13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?
I have one man, two dogs and me on a double bed - no room for stuffed animals.
14. Storms—cool or scary?
Cool! Hubby built me a deck for watching thunderstorms. It has a clear roof.
15. What Was Your First Car?
16. Favourite Drink?
17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…"
Travel - assuming I had some money to go with this time.
18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Yes. I don’t like to waste.
19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?
Perhaps a rich, dark red. Really I am too lazy and cheap to get my hair done all the time. I am enjoying my silver highlights.
20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived -
Toronto. Unless you count being schlepped around by hippie parents for the first several years of my life. Then everywhere.
21. Favourite Sport to Watch?
Ew. No sports.
22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You
Debinhawaii is a lovely lady. She makes delicious meals and is a faithful and supportive friend.
23. What’s Under Your Bed?
Dust - I may like to cook but I don’t much like cleaning. I am tidy however, go figure.
24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?
Probably not. Could be worse though. Do I get to choose?
25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
I like the evening. 5pm-10pm.
26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
Over easy, ew to the runny whites.
27. Favourite Place to Relax?
Home. With puppies.
28. Favourite Ice Cream Flavour?
Strawberry or orange.
29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
I am still hearing back from the last people that I tagged so I am leaving this one open to all who want to participate.
If you made it this far - you are it!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

TWD - Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

Ah Tuesday, was there ever a sweeter day?

This week Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake has selected Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler on page 415 of Dorie Greenspan's amazing book: Baking, from my home to yours. If you would like to see the recipe, please visit her site.

I quite liked the last cobbler that we did - the blueberry with the biscuit topping - and was excited about this one.

I found an orchard shop outside of our town that sold frozen fruit in large bags for a good price. I now have enough fruit to last the summer baking season! It is funny reading the others' comments about not knowing rhubarb or not being able to find it. It is almost a weed up here, once established in you garden it will outlive you and your grandchildren.

Unfortunately we live in the world's smallest house so I don't have room to grow it myself but I am now the proud owner of a large bag of frozen rhubarb.

This recipe starts in the food processor. Dorie is the reason my food processor now just lives on the counter. It is getting a good work-out.

There is a mix of white and whole wheat flour in the crust. While our tummies are probably the better for it, I found the whole wheat to make it taste a little "bready". I do prefer the previous cobbler and would probably do that one again rather than this one. We did, however, find that it tasted better this morning straight out of the fridge. (Yeah, we do that, hedonists that we are.) We preferred the firmer texture of the crust that chilling gave it. It went especially well with the leftover Fig&Honey ice cream!

To see how the others did, check out the blogroll here.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Royal Foodie Joust - Inside-Out California Rolls

I am almost afraid to enter this month's Royal Foodie Joust. The entries so far are beyond amazing. If it were not for my daughter's pleading for me to make sushi, I might have procrastinated until the end of the month.

I have made California rolls before. They are fun to do and not as hard as you would think. This time, however, I decided to do inside-out rolls to display the sesame seeds that are part of the three required ingredients. The other two being cilantro and seafood.

Rather than try to explain how to roll sushi rolls (maki), here is a good link with videos.

To make inside-out rolls, I lay a piece of plastic wrap down on my rolling mat on a wood cutting block and spread the seasoned rice* over it. I covered it with a sheet of nori and a little more rice. I spread a little mayo and wasabi on the top rice and placed crab meat, avocado, cilantro and cucumber in a row in the middle. I then rolled it tightly and carefully from one end like a cigar. When I got to the last inch of nori, which I had left free of rice, I sprinkled some rice vinegar on it and finished rolling until it was sealed. I rolled the completed roll in black sesame seeds and placed the it aside on the seam for a bit to rest. Then I sliced the roll into rounds, dipping a thin knife into rice vinegar to keep it clean.

The inside out roll was a lot harder that a traditional California roll, it was not as tidy in the end but it still tasted great. The sushi was served with gari - pickled ginger - soy sauce and wasabi.

Notes from my kitchen -
Sushi rolling mats are cheap, cheap, cheap. Get a couple and practice with friends and family. Even if you make a mess the first few times it will still taste good.

Put all your fillings out before you start - mise en place. Cucumber, crab leg (made from fish, not crab usually) and avocado are traditional for California rolls, but you can put in whatever you want.

The mayo may sound odd but it is good. Try it!

Wasabi is strong, better to put too little in the roll than not enough. You can always add more to your dipping sauce (soy sauce).

Sushi is finger food. Hands are allowed.

"Sushi" refers to the rice. You can make sushi without fish but not without rice. The raw fish without the rice is called sashimi.

I make my sushi rice in my rice cooker. Then I empty it into a wooden bowl and cut through it with a wooden paddle, adding rice wine vinegar to taste. They say to buy unseasoned vinegar and season it yourself with a little sugar and salt, but I found a seasoned one that I really like - President's Choice (Canadian).

Keep a bowl of the vinegar handy for keeping your hands and knife clean.

The cook gets to eat the ends!

Magazine Monday - Honey Tamarind Baby Back Ribs

I love a recipe that I don't have to shop for. This rib recipe contains all ingredients that I have at home and has just the right balance of tart, sticky and sweet. Ribs are not a first date food, you need to be with people that you are comfortable with as you gnaw and slurp and lick your fingers. Served with an Asian slaw, they are a perfect rustic family and friends meal.

Honey Tamarind Baby Back Ribs

From Food and Wine, August 2008

2 racks baby back ribs (5 1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup clover or other mild honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste, such as sambal oelek


Preheat the oven to 275°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Put the ribs on the baking sheet and season on both sides with salt and black pepper. Bake the ribs, meaty side up, for 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend the honey, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, tamarind, garlic and chili paste until smooth.

Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Drain the fat from the baking sheet. Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Roast the ribs, bony side up, for 10 minutes, until richly browned. Turn the ribs over, brush with more sauce and roast for 5 minutes, until browned. Brush the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce and roast for 5 minutes longer, until deeply browned and glossy. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the racks into ribs and serve.

Variation: Grill the ribs over moderately low heat, turning and brushing frequently with the sauce, until cooked through.

Notes from my kitchen

*Being me, I doubled the garlic. (Unrepentant garlic lover that I am.)

*I used beef ribs as they were what I had in the freezer but I think pork would be even better.

*If you have an Asian market near by, look for tamarind puree in a jar. It is so much easier to work with than the little bricks that you have to soak and strain.

Magazine Mondays is the brainchild of Cream Puffs in Venice as a way to encourage us voracious foodie magazine readers and collectors to actually test recipes from them on a regular basis. Feel free to visit Cream Puff to play along or just to drool over her latest creations.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

When Life Gives You Figs....

Two days ago hubby brought me home a half flat of figs. They were on sale as some were going a little soft. He knows that I have a special place in my heart and kitchen for soft fruit - ice cream!
Inspired by my last posted dessert of figs, cheese and honey - I decided to make a Fig&Honey ice cream. I served it with toasted almond slices, a fresh fig half and a drizzle of honey on top.

This is the sort of dessert that makes you want to lay back on your chaise while honey-toned attendants fan you with rushes and leaves and the sweet, salty scent of the ocean tickles your nostrils.

Fig&Honey Ice Cream

16 oz very ripe black figs, woody stems removed.
½ cup liquid honey
Pinch of salt
½ cup milk
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups whipping cream

In a small/medium bowl whisk yolks, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla, set aside.
In food processor blend figs, milk, salt and honey.
In medium pot, heat cream on medium, stirring, until almost bubbling.
When cream is up to temperature, add some to yolk mixture, spoonful by spoonful, whisking constantly until you have added about half a cup.
Reduce heat to medium/low, add yolk mixture to pot and heat 5 minutes more, stirring gently but constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in fig mixture.
Pour into a lidded container and refrigerate overnight.
Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Freeze at least 4 hours before eating.

Lie back and listen to the waves lapping the shore and feel the sunshine kissing your skin.

*In support of my local honeybees and honeybee keepers, I buy Ontario honey. The honey I used for this recipe is from Herbguy's Honey House, which I picked up at the farmer's market.

This ice cream is my contribution to the Anonymous New York Ice Cream Contest. You still have time to play along!