Sunday, 30 November 2008

Easy-Peasy Asian Noodle Bowl for Souper Sundays

My default, make something hot in a hurry, is an Asian noodle bowl. Everything in the pot, use up what is in the fridge, make it as hot and savoury as possible.
Last night I made this variation, feel free to play around, my Asian Noodle Bowls are never the same way twice. I believe that my noodle bowls, rich in ginger and garlic, do have the ability to cure the common cold as well as a multitude of aches, both physical and emotional. It is right up there with a good chicken soup.
I made this soup for Souper Sundays, a weekly celebration of all things soupy, saucy, stewish and slow cookery with Deb from Kahakai Kitchen.

Asian Noodle Bowl - serves 4
8 dried shiitake mushrooms (plus soaking water)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp hot chili flakes
4 heads baby bok choy, sliced
6 baby carrots, sliced thin
1 inch fresh ginger, julienned
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 1/2 - 3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 bundles udon noodles, broken in half
16 medium shrimp, cleaned and peeled

In a Pyrex measuring cup, place mushrooms and cover with boiling water to 1 cup level. Place something heatproof over to weigh down mushrooms, (I used a small coffee cup), being careful not to displace water right out of the glass. Soak 20 minutes or so. Reserve soaking water for soup. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice rather thin.

In a heavy bottom pot - Heat up vegetable oil with chili flakes. Add the bok choy, carrots, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or so. Add beef broth, soaking liquid and soy sauce. Let come to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and add noodles, stirring. When noodles are almost cooked through, add shrimp. Continue to cook until just pink. Serve with crunchy chow mein noodles.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Royal Foodie Joust - Honey Glazed Pulled Pork on a Coffee and Cumin Flatbread with Black Peppercorn Sauce

Hey, this marks my 200th post! Time flies, doesn't it? I have had so much fun and learned so much with all of the wonderful foodies out there. You guys are the best teachers a gal could have. I look forward to even more fun, friendship and challenge in the years to come.

Speaking of time.. (like my segue?)... It is time once again for the Royal Foodie Joust.

Last month the illustrious winner was eatingclubvancouver and they chose Coffee, Black Peppercorns and Honey as the theme ingredients for the December 1st joust.

Difficult, but not impossible. My submission is Honey Glazed Pulled Pork on Coffee and Cumin Flatbread with a Black Peppercorn Sauce. Yeah, this is going to take a while to type.

Honey Glazed Pulled Pork
In the slow cooker (med/large)
2 large onions, sliced
6 jalapenos, sliced
4 lb pork shoulder blade roast
6 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
2 cups water
2 tbsp honey

Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion and jalapeno. Pour in water.
Stud the top of pork with the garlic, making incisions if you need to.
Rub pork with honey and sprinkle on salt and pepper.
Place in slow cooker and cook on high for about 5 hours or low for 8. (Check for doneness - 160 on an instant read thermometer)
Remove and let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle. Leave onions and juices in the slow cooker.
Shred pork with two forks and add back to slow cooker.

Add -
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp coriander powder

Cover and cook on low for another 1/2 hour or until heated through.

Coffee and Cumin Flatbread - Adapted from Company's Coming
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
cool coffee (1/2 - 3/4 cup)
Melted butter
Mix together with just enough coffee to make a stiff dough. Wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
Divide into 8 equal pieces. Preheat a cast iron grill pan. Roll out and grill on each side until starting to brown. Brush with melted butter.

Black Peppercorn Sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 1/2 lime
splash of cream
salt to taste
In a small pot, combine beef broth, peppercorns, white wine and lime juice. Reduce to taste - at least by half. Add cream and some salt, continue to cook until impossibly delicious. Serve.
Garnish with lime and sliced green onions.
The dish was really tasty - I did realize when I was trying to take a picture of it that everything was the same colour. This is a bit of a sin in the kitchen and certainly not good for food photography! Believe me, it tasted better than it looks. I especially liked the coffee and cumin bread, I might sub coffee for water in bread more often.

The Daring Bakers - Givin' You Some Sugar!


Yes, this is the second time this season that I have made caramel. So lovely of you to notice. I am starting to feel like a real pro now - boiling, reducing, waiting for the magic to begin, stopping the magic before it goes too far.... I no longer fear making caramel. I still fear everything else, but not caramel.
It is amazing to me how much flavour can be coaxed out of sugar, just by applying heat.
This month the Daring Bakers, hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go have baked up Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake.

The cake is made with a caramel syrup. The icing is made with brown butter and caramel syrup. Caramel syrup is drizzled onto the finished cake. Can you see where I am going with this? This is a wonder in caramel.
Now, my family will tell you - I am not really a cake person. Hilarious right? What am I doing baking cakes when I would rather eat a pie? Well, I like to bake them, and my family likes to eat them. Simple enough.
But let's get back to this particular cake, shall we? This cake is wonderfully moist, I think it is the caramel syrup in the batter. The brown butter caramel icing - Oh My! So very flavourful. A little more caramel drizzled on the top? Yes, yes, we have come this far - might as well go all the way. When the cake and icing were done, I reduced the rest of the syrup and added a touch of cream. I added salted peanuts around the cake as I really enjoyed Dorie Greenspan's combination of caramel and salted peanuts.
We have been eating the cake for a couple of days now - it shows no signs of getting stale in the fridge - I love that! And it wasn't really all that difficult to make. It seemed like it would be, I read the recipe over and over again for weeks. But when it came time to go ahead and bake - it all came together fairly quickly.
This one is my favourite cake in my Daring Bakers experience. Check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll for more beautiful Caramel Cakes.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep)
9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

It looks like a giant candy bar, doesn't it?

Below is some information on the cake - I put it as written as there seems to be some confusion as to whether it will be "read" if we alter it in any way.

Helping Dolores ( host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

Our leading lady this month is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake.


Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites ( Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe ( … he-recipe/)

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111 (I didn't make the caramel balls, others may have)

If you’re looking for additional guidance on the cake, Shuna’s got some great information posted here as well ( … he-recipe/) and here ( … ake-a.html).

Friday, 28 November 2008

All in the Family: Tyler Florence's Wife's Mom's Potato Salad.

I am having one of those weeks. It is the end of the month, I have been cooking and baking my little heart out and my fridge is full of food. I have 2 different kinds of homemade bread, 2 desserts, soup, pulled pork and some odds and ends. So, what to make for Tyler Florence Fridays? I wanted a salad. A nice side to go with the pork or something we can have in lunches.

Luckily I found this potato salad in Tyler's Ultimate and it fit the bill. I had all the ingredients in the house and it would be great for bagged lunches.

I have seen other people online make potato salad with dill pickle in the recipe and I was eager to give it a try. I did have to sub grainy country French mustard for the Dijon as, even though I have five different kinds of mustard in the house, I didn't have straight Dijon. (In case you were wondering - I have maple, extra hot, fig and balsamic, grainy country and ballpark.)
I really liked this potato salad, I did end up adding a little chopped celery just because I like a little crunch in my spud salad. I loved the tanginess of the dill pickle - I would definitely make this one again. (Only six more months til burger season!)

Tolan's Mom's Potato Salad, Tyler's Ultimate, page 190.
2 lbs small Yukon gold potatoes
2 large eggs
Kosher salt
1/2 bunch of sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with 1/4 cup juice
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for drizzling
Place potatoes and eggs in saucepan of cold, salted water.
Bring to a simmer.
After 12 minutes remove eggs with a slotted spoon and let cool.
Continue cooking potatoes until tender.
Drain potatoes in a colander and let them cool.
Reserve some scallion greens and capers for garnish.
Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, pickles with juice, onions, remaining scallions and capers, parsley and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes.
Peel the cooled eggs and grate them into the bowl.
Peel cooled potatoes with a paring knife. (I left the peels on)
Cut potatoes into chunks and toss with the dressing to coat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper .
Garnish with reserved scallions and capers.
Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mexican Chicken Soup - Ina Style

I just finished making this a couple of hours ago. Nothing like the last minute, eh? I made a half batch and it makes a lot! Only make the full batch if you are feeding a crowd or are planning on freezing some.
On the flip side, it is very tasty. My girl Ina doesn't like cilantro, and I can forgive her for that, we all have our quirks. I did put in some chopped cilantro that I had in the freezer for just such occasions. The soup is so rich and flavourful, it really was a treat. Another plus is that it is made from pretty regular pantry items, so can be whipped up on short notice for a crowd pleasing meal. Another winner Ina, I don't know how you do it.

Mexican Chicken Soup - Ina Garten
4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Addicted to Tyler Florence Fridays yet? Come play with us in this brand new cooking group where you decide which Tyler Florence recipe to make each week. Choose, create and share - round-up every Friday on the TFF blogsite.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Who's Your Buddy? Rosendal's Crisp Bread

I made Knackebrod tonight, what did you do?

Don't you just love the sound of that? I am going to try to have to work knackebrod into a sentence as often as possible tomorrow. There are umlauts in there, and Ulrike did teach me how to type them but I have forgotten. (Bad, I am a bad friend to the international blogosphere, please forgive me)
This is the bread of the month with the Bread Baking Babes, and I am proud to be a buddy to those fine, highly intelligent and very good looking women. (Did I leave anything out?)
The host this month is Görel of Grain Doe, the recipe and notes are in her words, check out her Knackebrod post for more information.

This flatbread was like a cross between the lavash, pita and the really thinly sliced dark rye breads you can get in the little packages.

The instructions have us stamping a hole in the centre, and, not wanting to waste good bread, I baked up the holes as crackers with caraway and black sea salt on them. They are very good.

I made three different kinds, not counting the holes. The first batch of four I made just as the recipe stated, including having the pestled anise seed in the dough but I forgot to dock the dough so they puffed up a little. The second I did the same way but remembered to use my handy-dandy dough docker. The third batch I brushed on some olive oil and sprinkled some coarse salt. The fourth got olive oil and sesame seeds.
I definitely liked the flavoured ones the best, but I also enjoyed the subtlety of the original ones.
Be prepared, this recipe takes the good part of a week, mostly unattended.
My daughter is going to be very angry when she sees that I have been hanging crackers from her little art guy.
Rosendal’s Crisp Bread
Ingredients - Makes 16 round breads
500 ml/2,1 cups milk
25 g/0,9 oz fresh yeast
3 tbsp honey
180 g/6,4 oz rye flour
80 g/2,8 oz whole spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
50 ml/3,5 tbsp rye sourdough starter*
Optional: 1 tsp aniseed, pestled

2 tsp salt
300 g/10,6 oz rye flour
100 g/3,5 oz wheat flour

Heat milk until it's lukewarm. Dissolve yeast and honey in milk. Add flours and sourdough. Cover with cloth and let rise for 40 minutes.

1. Add salt, the wheat flour and 2/3 of the rye flour to the pre-ferment mixture. Add more rye as needed until the dough is "firmish", but not stiff. It should still be a little tacky. Mix well, but don't knead. Let rise for 30 minutes.
2. Divide dough into 16 pieces, form the pieces into round, tight spheres and leave on table under cloth.
3. Heat oven to 200 °C/390 °F .
4. Roll out the dough balls to thin rounds. Prick the rounds with a fork and take out a hole in the centre with a small glass or a cookie cutter.
5. Bake** two rounds at a time for appr. 15 minutes until the bread is nicely brown and crisp. If necessary (watch out!), cover with foil during the last 5 minutes. Let cool on racks.
** I used my baking stone, but I think you can just as well bake on a cookie sheet. I placed the rounds on parchment paper on cookie sheets, and transferred only the parchment paper to the baking stone in the oven.

Görel's Comments: The original recipe suggests variations such as substituting flour, adding caraway, aniseed or fennel, rolling in sunflower seeds or sesame seeds, brushing with olive oil and sprinkling caraway and salt flakes. I have tried some of these, and I have also tried brushing with water before sprinkling with sesame seeds. All very good, although in this round, I chose to stay traditional and just add aniseed to the dough.
I found that when I had brushed with olive oil and water, the bread became less brittle. The oiled bread was also more heat sensitive and needed to be covered earlier during the baking.
And -- if you want to go all Swedish -- butter the bread, top with sharp cheese, e.g. "Västerbottenost", and enjoy with a bowl of hot pea soup on a Thursday!

Rye Dough Starter
This is one of many ways to make a rye starter:
Day 1–3:
100 g/1 dl/0,43 cup water, luke warm
200 g/7 oz fine rye flour, preferably organic (and 100 % rye)
100 g/3,5 oz shredded apple

Mix the above, cover and place the container at a warm spot (ideally 26–30 °C/79–86 °F). Leave it for three days, stirring it occasionally to promote the process.
Day 4: Move the mixture to a larger bowl. Add 200 g/7 oz rye flour and 200 g/2 dl/0,85 cup luke warm (35 °C/95 °F) water. Mix thoroughly and leave for another 24 hours.
Day 5: Your sourdough should be ripe by now, store it in the fridge until it's time to use it.

This is my photography studio. A cloth thrown over a desk in the basement. The desk lamp acts as my only lighting. Maybe, when I grow up, I will have real equipment.

Oeufs Mollets Florentine

Soft Boiled Eggs with Spinach and Mornay Sauce. Le Cordon Bleu at Home, pages 69, 70.

Today in Whisk Wednesdays we made eggs, traditionally a brunch dish I guess - I made it for dinner. Sometimes it is just nice to have breakfast for dinner. It seems so simple and decadent at the same time.

This rather regal sounding dish is a bed of seasoned sauteed spinach topped with soft boiled eggs, liberally coated with a mornay sauce and topped with Gruyere and breadcrumbs and toasted up under the broiler. Well, that just has to be good doesn't it? Can you see why I wanted to serve it for dinner? I made a nice baguette topped with a Herbes de Provences sea salt to go with it and served it with a crisp Pinot Grigio.
The mornay sauce is a bechamel with an added egg yolk, cream and Gruyere. The star of the dish? I would have to say the fresh grated nutmeg, it is in both the spinach and the mornay sauce, it just gives that je-ne-sais-quoi to the dish. A very lovely supper indeed.

Whisk Wednesdays is an at-home culinary learning community following Le Cordon Bleu at Home and organized by Whisk: a food blog. Check out Whisk for instructions on the dish, the blogroll and to find out how you can play along.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

Tuesday is the sweetest day.

This week in Tuesdays with Dorie, Vibi of La casserole carrée chose the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie on page 321 of Dorie Greenspan's incredible baking book, Baking: from my home to yours. Please see Vibi's site for the recipe.

Well, this was the recipe to knock me down a few pegs. All had been going smoothly in TWD for me, so it was clearly my turn to have a little trouble.

I prepped my now go-to pie crust in the morning. I have a great love for Dorie's good for almost anything pie crust and made a double batch so that I would have some on hand for another time.

In the afternoon, I prebaked the crust. For some reason it shrunk up a bit and the edges were alarmingly dark when it was done. No matter, I just trimmed them off.

In the early evening, I made the fillings. Pumpkin pie on the bottom, a layer of pecans and then the sugary pecan pie top. As soon as I started to add the top layer, it mixed with the bottom. And as for keeping the pecans in the middle? Not going to happen. No amount of poking was going to keep those babies down.

Ok, into the oven. I baked according to the instructions and pulled it out after the last 35 minutes. Then put it back in for 10 more minutes. Then put it back in for 10 more minutes. Then put it back in for 10 more minutes. Then put it back in for 10 more minutes. So, approximately 30 minutes past Dorie's outside time, my pie was done.

Would you like a bite?

It was dark, not especially pretty, I didn't have high hopes. I was also a little nervous as hubby happened to mention that the little bag of pecans cost $8. I didn't want to have ruined this pie.

I let it rest until almost room temperature.

The result? It tasted really good! I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure I had ruined it. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are not my favourites. I like a fruit pie. But the combo seemed to bring out the best of each, I really enjoyed it. And I am not in trouble for letting $8 worth of pecans go to waste.

Check out the TWD blogroll to see how the others fared.

Addicted to Tyler Florence Fridays yet? Come play with us in this brand new cooking group where you decide which Tyler Florence recipe to make each week. Choose, create and share - round-up every Friday on the TFF blogsite.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Baked Potato Soup for Souper Sundays

Feeling Souper? I know I am!

This Sunday I have made a baked potato soup for Deb of Kahakai Kitchen's Souper Sunday. The baked potato soup is something that I had never heard of until a couple of weeks ago and then ran into it a couple of times in a row on the internet. (Funny how that happens) As I had recently purchased a whopping 15 pound bag of baking potatoes, I thought I would give it a try. Why 15 pounds? Hey, a sale's a sale!

The premise of a baked potato soup is that it tastes like a baked potato. Well that just has to be good, doesn't it? I left the spuds in the slow cooker and took my oldest son out shopping for his 17th birthday. 5 hours later all I had to do was add the creamy ingredients, season and let simmer another 20 minutes and add the bacon and green onions. Perfect for that apres-mall coma.

Think Sunday is the perfect day to make soup, stew, and other slow-cooked or saucy dishes? Visit Kahakai Kitchen to find out about playing along.

from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook
Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman

Gina's Baked Potato Soup, pages 72, 73.
Large slow cooker, serves 12
5 pounds russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp, drained on paper towels, and crumbled
6 green onions, sliced, or 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1. Put the potatoes in the slow cooker and add water to cover. Cover and cook on HIGH until the potatoes are cooked and falling apart, about 5 hours.
2. Turn the cooker to LOW, add the butter, half and half, and sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until hot, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the crumbled bacon and sliced green onions. Serve immediately or keep warm on LOW, adding water or milk to thin if necessary.
This soup is so nice for the end of a hectic day. A green salad would balance it nicely but I was feeling too lazy to make one. I halved the recipe and made it in my smaller slow cooker, it really does taste like a baked potato.
Addicted to Tyler Florence Fridays yet? Come play with us in this brand new cooking group where you decide which Tyler Florence recipe to make each week. Choose, create and share - round-up every Friday on the TFF blogsite.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Falafel with Yogurt Sauce

This week in My Kitchen, My World we travel to Iran. I decided to make falafel as it is one of our favourites and I had always wanted to make them from scratch. Mark Bittman has them listed only as Middle Eastern, so I hope that they are popular in Iran!

When I first started frying mine they came apart. I was about to curse Mr. Bittman but decided to top up the oil first. That made all the difference. Make sure you have enough oil to cover, they go in gently like dumplings and need to seal all over. The rest came out round and perfect.
Since we had been pigging on the Parker House Rolls from yesterday's post, I decided to serve the falafel on a bed of veggies. I put a layer of mixed greens, topped with cucumber, green onions, and julienned carrots on a platter. I edged the platter in fresh tomato wedges and topped it with the falafel patties, yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds. This would also be nice tucked into a pita or other flatbread.
It was very good, you get the good, healthy feeling from the flavourful vegetarian dinner, with a hint of badness from the deep frying. The best of both worlds!

Falafel - Middle East - Mark Bittman, The Greatest Recipes in the World, pages 42,43.

1 3/4 cups dried chick peas (do not use canned - they are too soft)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg
neutral vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches. Soak for 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged- they will triple in volume as they soak.

2. Drain the beans well and transfer them to a food processor with all the remaining ingredients except the oil; pulse until finely minced but not pureed, scraping the sides of the bowl down as necessary; add water a tablespoon at a time if necessary to allow the machine to do its work. (I didn't need any water) Taste and make sure the mixture is seasoned adequately; add more of any seasoning you like.

3. Put at least 2 inches (more is better) of oil in a large, deep saucepan (or use a deep fryer if you have one). Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to about 350f.

4. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and shape them into balls of small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yogurt Sauce, Laban, Arabic. Rosi Dosti, Middle Eastern Cooking, page 64.
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate to chill. Makes 1 cup.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Tyler Florence Fridays - Parker House Rolls

This week in Tyler Florence Fridays, I decided to make the Parker House Rolls from one of his new books, Stirring the Pot. You know me, I am a bread girl - life is too short to go without good carbs!
This is the first time I have made these rolls and I was thrilled with how soft and buttery they turned out. Tyler has them baking in a 9x5 pan but I used a 10 (somewhat fluted) inch round ceramic pan so I could have short, fat little pillows. These would be great for dinner rolls, all they need is some plain butter. I have served them with every meal since making them yesterday. They are really good.

Parker House Rolls - Stirring the Pot, page 216.
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water ( 110-115f)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing rolls
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Combine yeast with warm water and the sugar in a kitchen stand mixer bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve and activate yeast. In a small saucepan heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and the 1 cup whole milk over low heat; stirring occasionally until butter melts. Add the milk mixture to the yeast. Using the hook attachment on the mixer, fold in the bread flour and salt. Gradually add all-purpose flour to make a dough. (Add only enough all-purpose flour as you need, the dough should come together in a ball that is neither too wet nor too dry.)

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead five to six times until dough is smooth and elastic (do not overwork dough or rolls will be tough). Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place for approximately 1 hour until the dough had doubled in volume.

Butter a 9x5 inch baking dish. ( I used a 10 inch round) Form the dough into 12 to 14 equal-sized balls. Arrange the balls in the baking dish so they are in rows just touching one another, then cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then the towel. Set aside to rise again. Once they have doubled in volume again (about 40 minutes), use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the tops of each bun twice, forming an "x". Set aside for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375f. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the rolls with milk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a rack. Serve with butter.

*Tyler includes a recipe for garlic-parsley butter with the rolls, much like herb butters that I make often at home. I did try the rolls with an herb butter, but I feel that the rolls are too delicate for a strong butter. Plain salted is best. I buy salted for the butter bell and unsalted for baking. Somehow the unsalted is unsatisfying on toast!
Want to join us and cook with Food Network's hottest chef? Check out the Tyler Florence Fridays website for details.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Barefoot Bonus Day, Part 2 - Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes

The second Barefoot Blogging Bonus comes to us from Lisa from Lime in the Coconut. Lisa chose Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes from Barefoot Contessa Parties! page 206. The online recipe is for 6 mini cakes and the recipe in the book is for one large Bundt cake. I chose to do the mini cakes as I love to have a reason to use one of my Nordic Ware mini cake tins. They just make me happy. (No I don't work for Nordic Ware but I would gladly change my name to Nordic Ware for free product!)

Ok, to the food: My goodness these were good! I am hit or miss on orange zest, I only like it some of the time. And I have to be in the mood for chocolate (sinful as that sounds to confirmed chocoholics). But these cakes were so moist and flavourful. The syrup really is the key here, don't skip it. I liked them even better the next day, the flavours had a chance to meld. Definitely a winner. But then again, it's Ina - what did you expect?

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes
Serves: 6 servings
1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup: 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache: 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non stick 100 percent silicone molds. I used this pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Scroll down for Chive Risotto Cakes!

Double Barefoot Bonus Day! Part 1, Chive Risotto Cakes

This week in Barefoot Blogging, we have not one but two bonuses. The first one I am posting today is the Chive Risotto Cakes recipe from Ina's new book, Back to Basics. Did you get your copy yet? Should I wait? Ok, good.
This bonus is brought to us by none other than my good friend and TFF partner in crime, Deb from Kahakai Kitchen. Why did she get the honours? Referrals, referrals, referrals. But let's get to the food, shall we?

I made the risotto cakes the same day that I started them, giving them only the minimum two hours to chill. They were a little soft when I first started, I had more luck when I turned up the heat a little and added a little more oil. Other than that, they were fantastic. I was eating them cold the next day out of the fridge. Hubby had the last couple in his lunch today, I miss them already.
I served the chive risotto cakes with a green salad topped with roasted tomatoes, a light vinaigrette and thinly sliced seared steak. Now how bad can that be?
The next time I make them, I will prepare them the day before frying them, give them a little more time to set up in the fridge. And there will definitely be a next time.

Chive Risotto Cakes
from Back to Basics, page 174-175

Serves 6
Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Good olive oil

Bring a large (4 quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.
Stay tuned for part two - Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes.