Saturday, 30 January 2010

Mediterranean Panini on Potato Rosemary Bread

A good sammie is a joy.

I have a confession to make. I took secret pleasure in the demise of our panini maker this past year. Not that I didn't love it, I did! I love the dense, crunchy texture that it gives a sammie, so completely different from what a toaster or oven could ever do...
But you see, our old panini maker had flat plates. Yup, no groovy lines in my sammies. Sigh.
But I soldiered on, living life bravely without the cool ridges in my panini, holding my head up even though, without the tell-tale marks, one might not even notice at first glance that they were, in fact, panini and not merely toasted sammies.
But you see, the old press did pass away. And after a respectful grieving time we set about getting a new one.. one with ridges. For our anniversary actually. We are very romantic that way.
See how pretty those ridges make a sammie? No comparison really.

I built these panini (panini is plural, panino is singular) on the Potato Rosemary Bread from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, page 219. As luck would have it, you can find the recipe here or here.
The is for the BBA challenge, and I am just over a dozen breads away from baking everything in the book! Whew, thasalottabread!
As you can see, I made a dozen rolls instead of the two loaves - they are light and flavourful with roasted garlic and fresh rosemary. Delicious!

These Potato Rosemary buns have been Yeastspotted!

Mediterranean Panini
(also spelled pannini)
no real recipe required..

Jarred roasted red peppers
Feta cheese, sliced
Baby spinach
*Red onions and mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil with garlic and dried thyme leaves - then seasoned to taste with balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Assemble on some delicious bread or buns and place in panini press until beautifully golden and crunchy.

Garnish if desired.

Go on, take a big bite, you know you want to!

Mediterranean Panini on Potato Rosemary Bread for Souper Sunday with Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Bobby's Spaghetti and Meatballs

I do, at times, take requests.
So when hubby confessed to a serious craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs I did my best to deliver. I chose Bobby Flay's recipe, below, as it had traditional flavours (not a chipotle in sight!) and promised to satisfy that craving.
The results? Delicious classic spaghetti and meatballs. Not over the top, but deeply satisfying. Definitely worth making again. (Not that food bloggers ever repeat a dish you understand - merely a turn of phrase!)

Bobby Flay's Spaghetti and Meat Balls with Tomato Sauce
Bobby Flay

Show: Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay
Episode: Bobby's Spaghetti & Meatballs
Yield: 4 servings


1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and Sauteed
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup pure olive oil

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes and their juice, pureed in a blender
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 basil leaves, chiffonade

12 cups water
1 pound #8 or #9 spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garlic Bread:
1 stick soften butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1 country loaf, cut into 3/4-inch slices


For the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and fry until golden brown, but not cooked through completely. (remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.) For the Tomato Sauce: Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add pureed tomatoes and juice, bay leaf and parsley, pepper flakes and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add meatballs and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaf and parsley, add the basil and serve.

For the Spaghetti: Bring salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain well in a colander, toss in sauce, serve with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.

For the Garlic Bread: Combine butter and garlic. Spread evenly on bread and broil until browned.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Happy Hour!

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Happy Hour!
Who could be sad at happy hour? Happy is part of the name.
To suit this theme, I made Moscow Mules and The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts. Such a delicious combination that will have you coming back for more.
We found that the nuts served double duty as a great accent to a tossed salad - the bowl of them happened to be near by and hubby tossed a few on his dinner. Delicious!
And the Moscow Mule is so refreshing... and with fresh lime and ginger.. practically health food!
I love that this got me mixing drinks. I have a bar in my basement but get lazy and end up drinking wine or beer when parched. I really want to get more creative in the bar this year.

The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts
Nigella Lawson
Show: Nigella Bites Episode: Party Girl

Yield: 2 1/4 cups mixed nuts

2 1/4 cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds (I used what I had - cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and pepitas)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter.

Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm. And once you eat these, you will never want to stop.

I ended up adding a touch more Maldon salt and cayenne - because I love them.

*a note on salt. Kosher salt and specialty salts like Maldon are not nearly as salty as table salt. They are not interchangeable.

Easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. Ok, lime-squeezy.

This simple drink is big on flavour. The most important thing is to get real ginger beer. The strong stuff, preferably Jamaican. It is a soda, and can be found in some mainstream markets in small bottles. I keep it around for snuffles and sore throats - it is great medicine!

Moscow Mule - Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer

Build the drink in a rocks, or double old fashioned, glass:
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tbsp vodka
freshly grated ginger
top with real ginger beer.

Stir and enjoy!

Care for a drink?


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Keftedes and Slow Roasted Beets: Falling in Love with Michael Symon.

Michael Symon is another Food Network fella who isn't afraid of big flavour. A couple of my friends have been cooking up his dishes lately and I found them very exciting.
This week I cooked up his Keftedes, Greek Meatballs, and his Slow Roasted Beets with Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Watercress and Toasted Walnuts. Absolutely delicious. I love his cooking style - bold yet simple, not too many extra dishes.
I served them with some mashies (I made a big batch as I also needed some for bread baking - more to come) and I sautéed the leftover beet greens and watercress briefly with shallots, garlic and olive oil - adding in a bit of the beet cooking liquid and balsamic vinegar. Delicious!

from The
Yield: about 20

2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil, or a combination of either combined with olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large clove minced garlic
8 ounces ground beef, see cook's notes (I couldn't find lamb, so used all beef)
8 ounces ground lamb
1 egg
1/2 cup cubed day-old bread soaked in whole milk to cover
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Minced zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for dusting

For serving:
12 lemon wedges
Fresh mint leaves

Cook's notes:
Symon says the beef and lamb should be about 25 percent fat, and that leaner meat will produce a dry meatball. He says that if you wish, serve the meatballs with a thick yogurt, or top with crumbled feta cheese. When frying the meatballs, don't crowd the pan. You will probably need to fry them about 12 at a time.

Heat large, deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil and heat. Add onion and salt; lower heat to medium and toss; cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, combine beef, lamb and egg. Wring milk from bread and add bread to meat mixture. Add coriander, cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add lemon zest and onion-garlic mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine with clean hands.
Wipe out skillet with paper towel. Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Add olive oil; heat. Form meat mixture into walnut-sized balls (each about 1 ounce). Dust each with a little flour. Fry in oil until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Place on platter and garnish with lemon wedges and fresh mint.

Nutrition information (per serving): 250 calories (48 percent from fat), 13 g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 899 mg sodium, 0.3 g fiber

The Keftedes were served with a delicious side of Slow Roasted Beets with Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Watercress and Toasted Walnuts. Click here for the recipe.
This was a delicious and colourful side with all of our favourite flavours. I used half walnuts and half pecans, using up what I had on hand. A very agreeable dish, it is good hot, warm, room temperature or cold.
(I should have done like Joanne though and used arugula. The watercress was very expensive and didn't yield much.. any tender, peppery green would be fine)

Keftedes and Slow Roasted Beets with Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Watercress and Toasted Walnuts for Symon Sundays with Ashlee Wetherington. These two dishes were chosen by Ashlee herself. Check A Year in the Kitchen on January 31st to see how everyone else's dishes came out!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Ina's Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

I love Ina Garten. I love her demeanour and I especially love her lifestyle. Every once in a while somebody will tell me that I look like her and I take it as the ultimate compliment. I wouldn't mind looking like her and I certainly wouldn't mind being her! What a life! Arranging peonies and hydrangeas in low vases and puttering around in the "barn". I could fit my whole house in that barn and still have room for.. I don't know, a school or something.
Her recipes have always turned out well for me and this one is no exception. Creamy and lemony pasta with peppery arugula - how bad can that be?
I used sundried tomatoes as that was what I had on hand, and I served the pasta with some sugar snap peas, lightly sautéed in butter. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
Ina Garten, Food

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
3 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried fusilli pasta (I used gemelli - same twist, just thinner)
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used sun-dried tomatoes)

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Ina Garten's Lemon Fusilli with Arugula for this week's Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Two Breads, One Soup

I promise you that is not ketchup all over my cream of broccoli soup.
I was trying to be fancy and puréed some roasted red peppers and drizzled them coulis-style all over the soup. Quite delicious, really a lovely addition to the already very tasty soup... and looks alarmingly like ketchup in the photo. Oh well.
The soup is actually fairly light and delicate for a cream soup. I don't tend to strain my soups and just used my immersion blender in the pot. I love the meatiness that the generous serving of mushrooms gives to the soup, making it more of a meal than a starter. Paired with Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, which I made into rolls, it was a lovely light dinner indeed. Quite worthy of a bottle of wine and a romantic CD. Or two.

And on the subject of bread..
Catching up with the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, this week I baked up the Portuguese Sweet Bread from page 215 of Peter Reinhart's bread book The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Also known as Hawaiian bread, this is an enriched bread, meaning that it contains sugar, milk, butter and eggs. The loaf takes only one day to ferment and bake, unlike many of the other breads, and makes for a terrific peanut butter sandwich. (Très gourmet, I know)
Powdered milk gives it a tender crumb and lemon, orange and vanilla extracts give it a mildly sweet and complex flavour. Plus it looks so cool, all dark and glistening from the sugars and egg wash. Definitely worth trying.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Wild Mushrooms
Epicurious | September 2002
by Frédy Girardet
Girardet: Recipes from a Master of French Cuisine

Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 1/2 pounds broccoli
10 ounces wild mushrooms (Mine were button and cremini-not so wild..)
3 cups chicken stock
5/8 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 shallot
(2 cloves garlic)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Cut off the broccoli florets and use only these for the soup. Wash and drain them. To make a vivid green soup, cook the florets, uncovered, in a large amount of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, until very well cooked. Drain, refresh in cold water so that they keep their color, and drain thoroughly.

2. Cut off and discard the earthy ends of the mushroom stalks. If you are using cèpes, simply wipe the caps with a cloth; wash all the other mushrooms briefly under running water.

3. Cut large mushrooms into approximately 1/8-inch slices, medium-sized mushrooms into quarters, and leave small ones whole. Place in an airtight container and keep cool.

4. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, pour it over the broccoli, and purée in a blender or a food processor. Pour the purée into a saucepan, add the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Strain the cream of broccoli through a fine sieve, and return it to the saucepan.

5. Peel the shallot and chop it very finely. Place in an airtight container and keep cool.

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire
This is Peter Reinhart's favourite and signature bread, I made it into buns. So very delicious with the soaker of amaranth, rye flakes, and wheat bran and the addition of brown rice to the loaf. We could definitely see why it would be his favourite and it is now one of our favourites too - perfect with the soup.

Finishing Touches
-Cream of Broccoli Soup with Wild Mushrooms

1. Reheat the soup.

2. Heat a nonstick skillet until very hot, add the mushrooms, season with salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until the mushrooms have released all their moisture. When it has almost completely evaporated, stir in the butter and shallot. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously, then scoop the mushrooms onto paper towels to drain. (I added garlic.. and didn't drain all those good flavours)


Pour the soup into warmed individual tureens or soup plates and pile a mound of hot mushrooms into the center.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Not-so-Wild Mushrooms for Souper Sunday with Deb of Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Nigella's Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry

You may have noticed by now that I have a bit of a thing for curry...
Truly I think there is nothing more comforting in the cool weather and I love the exotic fragrance the dishes bring. Who needs incense when glorious spices waft through the air?
This is a relatively simple dish with huge flavour, guaranteed to warm your heart and bring joy to your soul.
I used pollock and shrimp as that is what I had on hand, and served the curry with brown basmati rice - delicious!

Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry
Nigella Lawson, from her book and website.


400ml tin coconut milk
1–2 tablespoons yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
350ml fish stock (I use boiling water and a slug of Benedicta Touch of Taste Concentrated Fish Bouillon; cubes would do)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or caster sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife (I used a purée)
3 lime leaves, de-stalked and cut into strips (I used dried and pulled them out after)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into large-bite-sized chunks
500g salmon fillet, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large, bite-sized chunks (I used pollock)
500g peeled raw prawns
pak choi or any other green vegetables of your choice (I used a package of frozen spinach and put it right into the curry)
juice of 1/2–1 lime, to taste
coriander, to serve

Serving Size : serves 4-6

Even I, (Nigella), who cook this often, can never get over how delicious it is or how incredibly easy to make!


1. Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined. Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook; some squash take as little as 5 minutes.

2. You can cook the curry up till this part in advance, maybe leaving the pumpkin with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

3. So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you’re using the prawns from frozen they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3–4 minutes, stir in any green veg you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wooden spoon. When the pak choi’s wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is that the coriander goes in just before serving. Serve with more chopped coriander for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.


I’ve said 1–2 tablespoons of curry paste. This is because pastes vary enormously in their strengths and people vary enormously in their tastes. Some like it hot: I like it very hot – and use 2 tablespoonfuls. But it might be wiser to add 1 tablespoonful first and then taste later, once all the liquid’s in, to see if you want to add more. One last bossy note: if you can’t get raw prawns, don’t use cooked ones; just double the amount of salmon.
Nigella Lawson

Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry for Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Gorgonzola and Champagne Vinaigrette

This is a delicious cool weather salad from Guy Fieri and, I think, the first of his recipes that I have tried. It is healthy and delicious and full of flavour. Pears and blue cheese are naturally best friends and the punctuation of pomegranate seeds is genius. Absolutely delicious. I give it five stars and can't wait to try some more of his recipes.
I looked him up on amazon and could only find his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives book, clearly we need a Guy's Big Bite cookbook, the man knows big flavour.

Thanks to Sarah and the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge for getting me to try one of his recipes! I won't be playing along every week, there are a lot of American shows that we don't get up here and so I am unfamiliar with them.. but I will definitely cook from the ones I know. Great idea Sarah!

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Gorgonzola and Champagne Vinaigrette
Guy Fieri, Food

• 8 cups baby spinach or romaine lettuce
• 1 ripe pear, cut in half
• 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
• 2 ounces Gorgonzola
• Champagne vinaigrette, recipe follows
• Fresh cracked pepper
• 1 tablespoon honey

In a decorative bowl or platter, add the spinach or romaine. Cut the pear into fans, and then slice again on the diagonal, add the greens, crumble the Gorgonzola onto the salad and then drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette. Top with fresh cracked pepper and lightly drizzle the whole salad with the honey. Serve immediately.

Champagne Vinaigrette:
• 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a small bowl or glass jar, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

PS - Canada has some amazing cooking shows too, I think it is our strongest programming.