Thursday, 31 March 2011

Fried Green Tomato and Grilled Portobello Sandwich with Basil Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise

Is that the most wonderful sandwich you have ever seen? I love portobellos, and this one is complemented with basil roasted red pepper mayo and fried green tomatoes for the ultimate in veggie burger delight.
This is just one of the fabulous offerings from the new Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook, a book of healthy and innovative twists on Southern cuisine from the popular cafe of the same name in Asheville, North Carolina.

Tupelo Honey Cafe
Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen

by Elizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus
Hardcover, 240 pages

You have to love any restaurant whose executive chef is also a farmer. Brian Sonoskus's Sunshot Organics supplies seasonal produce, flowers and herbs to the restaurant and cultivates a close relationship with other area farms and farmers for a true farm-to-table experience.
Co-author Elizabeth Sims writes for Southern Living Magazine and is past president of Southern Foodways Alliance.
They hold local and sustainability so dear to their hearts, that a portion of the proceeds of this cookbook will go to the Manna FoodBank and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
Tupelo Honey Cafe was even named one of the Top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants by epicurious. 

So, halos all around - but how are the recipes?
In a word - delicious.

They have put a fun and refreshing spin on Southern classics, and have served up a book of cafe recipes that you will want to make at home.

Some of the delicious recipes include:
Grateful Dead Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise
Buttermilk Pork Chops with Creamy Red-Eye Gravy
Chicken Apple Meat Loaf with Tarragon Tomato Gravy
Pecan-Crusted Red Snapper with Spiced Black Beans and Orange Cilantro Butter
Tupelo Honey Wings
Smoked Jalapeno Aioli
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Peach Butter and Spice Pecans
Peach Cobbler with Candied Almonds

Fried Green Tomato and Grilled Portobello Sandwich with Basil Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise
From Tupelo Honey Cafe

This sandwich is guaranteed to tempt even the staunchest omnivore to become vegetarian, just so he can indulge in this explosive combination of flavors on a regular basis. It will remind you of Mediterranean fare, with the earthy portobello teamed with tangy green tomatoes, basil, and roasted red bell peppers.

Makes one serving

1 cup balsalmic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
2 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills discarded
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 slices artisanal sourdough bread * I used 2 sourdough English muffins
2 ounces softened goat cheese
Romaine lettuce
3 slices Fried Green Tomatoes (page 178)
2 tablespoons Basil Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise (page 80)


In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the whole time until the vinaigrette is thoroughly blended. Add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss with the vinaigrette marinade. Cover and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Drain the mushrooms. Heat your grill to medium and grill the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until tender. Lightly butter the bread slices and place butter down in a skillet over medium heat until grilled and lightly browned. Assemble the sandwich by spreading the goat cheese on 1 slice of bread and layering the lettuce, fried green tomatoes, portobellos, mayonnaise, more lettuce, and the remaining bread slice.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Armchair Novel Review - Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman

an Alex Delaware Novel
by Jonathan Kellerman
Hardcover, 336 pages
Also available as an abridged audio CD, unabridged audio CD, abridged audiobook download, unabridged audiobook download, eBook and in large print trade paperback.

Jonathan Kellerman has been titled "Master of Psychological Suspense" and he comes by this epithet honestly. He is a doctor of psychology and brings his unique insight to the human mind into his mystery novels.

In Mystery, Alex Delaware and his wife Robin are saddened to see their favourite L.A. drinking establishment is closing down for good. Deciding to go for one last Sidecar before the wrecking ball arrives, they settle down to people watch in the now stripped-down hotel. One lone beauty stands out from the rest in her classic era Hollywood attire and aura of melancholy. They are unable to figure her out, and entranced by her performance as she seems to be waiting for someone who never comes.

Two days later Lieutenant Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware are looking down at her mutilated body.

Detective and psychologist and, most importantly, friends - Milo and Alex work together to solve this brutal and increasingly complex murder.

They work well together with excellent repartee, and the book reads like a favourite mystery show. A very enjoyable whodunnit that will keep you reading, and guessing, til the very end.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Steam Canned Spiced Orange Slices

And to think, five years ago I had never canned a thing. Now I have three different ways to can. Water bath canning for high acid/sugar treats like pickles and jams, pressure canning for meats and vegetables, and now I have been turned on to steam canning!

Steam canners work much like water bath canners and are designed for the same high acid or high sugar recipes. The canner almost looks like an upside-down pot, a deep saucer of a pot with a deeper lid. What I love about it is that it uses a lot less water, which also means that you don't have to wait an hour for a giant pot of water to boil, and of course it uses significantly less energy. I am also looking forward to canning in the height of summer and not turning my kitchen into a Turkish steam bath. Don't be fooled, summer in Canada is a hot and humid experience, one that isn't made any more pleasant with huge vats of boiling water.
Back to Basics - 400A - Steam Canner
Save time and energy with the Back to Basics Steam Canner. The 7-quart Steam Canner uses less water than conventional water bath canners and reduces preheating time significantly. So simple and easy to use, home canning will be a joy.


    * 7-quart pot
    * Uses less water than conventional water bath canners
    * Reduces preheating time
    * Dimensions: 9.5"H x 14.75"W x 13"D
I found the canner very easy to use, the design is simple and makes sense, and you are more free to can on a whim rather than with great preparation and ordeal. With the steam canner I know I will be canning a lot more often, and I just love to see those jars lined up like jewels in the pantry. Seriously, they are almost too pretty to use. Almost.

For our first foray into steam canning, we made Spiced Orange Slices. Beautifully fragrant fruit, just perfect for a wine-tasting cheese course, as a topping on a bagel with goat or cream cheese, and even cut up and thrown on some good vanilla ice cream.

Spiced Orange Slices

4 large oranges
8 cups hot water
1 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup each: cider vinegar and water
¼ cup corn syrup
8 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
4 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long
½ tsp peppercorns
  1. Combine whole unpeeled oranges, 8 cups hot water, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring  to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until fruit is tender. Drain oranges, discarding liquid, and cool. 
  2. Cut oranges in half crosswise and then into very thin slices. 
  3. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, water, corn syrup, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Stir over high heat until sugars have dissolved. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Add orange slices, cover, and cook gently for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove and discard cardamom and cinnamon. 
  4. Remove hot jars from canner. Remove orange slices from liquid with a slotted spoon; pack into jars. Pour liquid and whole cloves over oranges to within ½ inch or rim (headspace). Process 10 minutes for ½ pint (250ml) jars and 15 minutes for pint (500ml) jars as directed for water bath canning. 
Makes 4 half-pint (250ml) jars.

We served the Spiced Orange Slices with a homemade goat cheese, but store-bought would be fine.

Goat's Milk Faisselle

  • 6 goat's cheese moulds
  • Flat-bottomed baking dish
1 quart goat's milk
Pinch mesophilic culture
2 drops liquid rennet

  1. Sterilize all equipment. In a large ss pot over medium heat, warm milk to 86°F, stirring gently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. 
  2. Sprinkle culture over surface of milk and let stand for about 5 minutes to rehydrate. Using skimmer and an up-and-down motion, gently draw culture drown into milk without breaking surface of milk. 
  3. Dilute rennet in 1 tbsp col water. Add to milk and, using the same up-and-down motion, draw rennet down into milk until well blended. Cover and let set at room temp in a draft-free location for 12 hours. 
  4. Place moulds in a flat-bottomed baking dish. Using skimmer, gently ladle curd into moulds, taking care not to bread up the curd. The whey will begin draining out of the holes in the moulds right away and will collect in the dish. 
  5. As soon as the curd has drained down below the tops of the moulds, cover the dish and place in the refrigerator. The faisselle is ready to use ans soon as it has drained to your desired texture. The longer it drains, the firmer it will become (because the moulds are sitting in the whey, it will stay fairly moist). Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To remove, unmould onto a plate. 

Makes 6 cheeses, each 3-4 oz.

Moulds - I used my couer a la creme moulds and lined them with cheesecloth.

For the forging challenge, and recipe credits, click here.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Armchair Novel Review - So Close the Hand of Death

So Close the Hand of Death
J.T. Ellison
Paperback, 416 pages

Talent borrows. Genius steals. Evil delegates.

In this latest in the Taylor Jackson series, there is a rash of copy-cat murders across America - imitations of famous serial killers. Crimes in the style of the Boston Strangler, Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam have the communities terrorized and the investigators baffled.

Jackson's obsessed nemesis, The Pretender, has orchestrated a country-wide display of power narrowing in on Jackson herself and those that she holds dear.

The book is part of a series, but stands alone as a great crime thriller. I have read only the one before, The Immortals, and was an instant fan of J.T. Ellison.

The author used to work for the White House, but left to follow her dream of writing about crime and forensics, working closely with Nashville police and FBI. Her books draw you in quickly, are fast paced and intelligently written procedural crime/mystery thrillers.You'll be hooked from the first page until the exciting climax.

photo by Chris Blanz, Cabedge
Ellison is a best-selling author whose books have been published in 21 countries. You can check her out at or follow her @Thrillerchick on Twitter.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Chicken with Balsamic BBQ Sauce

I know, it is hard to make a platter of dark and sticky balsamic glazed chicken look as sexy as it tasted, so you will just have to take my word for it. Forget the Colonel, this is the real finger-licking-good right here. (By the way, do they even say that anymore?)

This is our last week of cooking with Giada for our Cooking Club, and I had originally intended on making her coffee glazed zeppole (think Italian doughnuts) but got carried away (think drowning) in helping my son get through his science textbook. When the heck did science get so hard? Too much math, can't think straight. Please send doughnuts.

This simple and delicious chicken dish was perfect for providing sustenance to our poor fried brains and it happily baked in the oven with a side of home fries, all Italianed up with Italian seasoning, kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Throw a few little bowls of baby carrots on the table and you have an easy-peasy dinner that is big on flavour. Just don't get any on the textbook, please.

Chicken or Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis,

    4 servings

For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:

    * 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    * 3/4 cup ketchup
    * 1/3 cup brown sugar
    * 1 garlic clove, minced
    * 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    * 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken or steak:

    * 4 pieces chicken (any combination of breast or leg-and-thigh pieces) or 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak
    * Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the BBQ sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.
For the chicken or steak:

Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.

Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.

Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the BBQ sauce all over the top of the chicken. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. (I used a bit higher heat, so the fries would roast well)


And check out the HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event
presented by Bon Appétit this weekend!!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Mango Ginger Crisps for Cook the Books

Generally we Canadians see mangoes only in the supermarket, and if we are very lucky they might have a special on a case. This doesn't happen that often, but it seems fortuitous when it does. Of course we also have enough peoples here from mango growing countries to let us know that these supermarket offerings don't begin to compare to fresh grown mangoes. Something most of us have to take their words for, as we lug home our cases.

But Canadians Ann Vanderhoof and Steve Manley set sail for a two year trip to the Caribbean and West Indies, a middle-age adventure and leap of faith, and discovered the wonders of real, fresh tropical fruits, exotic fish, and the warm welcome of the people who lived there.

Vanderhoof has a publishing background with Cottage Life Magazine, and chronicled their adventures wonderfully. From her own reluctance to being a full-time sailor, the trials and tribulations of life as first-time "cruisers" and the joy of discovery along the way, Ann includes us all.

Reading the book is a mini-vacation in itself, and will have you longing for turquoise waters and pristine sands and, of course, an embarrassment of mangoes.

For our bookclub dish I baked up a version of Ann's Mango Crisp, and, if I close my eyes, I can pretend I am on a tropical island and not in minus 13 degree weather in Canadian so-called Spring.

Mango Ginger Crisp
adapted from Ann Vanderhoof, An Embarrassment of Mangoes


½ cup AP flour
¾ cup flaked oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 heaping Tbsp frozen ginger, grated on a Microplane
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed

6 cups cubed ripe mango (about 3-4 mangoes)
1½ Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp frozen ginger, grated on a Microplane
2 Tbsp flour


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter a 2 qt (8 inch) baking dish, or 8 ramekins.
Prepare the topping: mix together the flour, oats, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger. Add in the cubed cold butter and cut in until crumbly. Set aside.
Prepare the filling: Toss all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Spread into baking dish or ramekins, equally.
Sprinkle topping over fruit - at this point you can chill the crisp(s), covered, until you are ready to bake them.
Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes for the large one, about 25 for the minis, or until you have a nice brown crunchy top. Let cool a little before serving.
Goes great with vanilla ice cream.

Mmm, a bowl of sunshine.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Hot New Paperbacks for Supernatural/Fantasy Fans

Because we all need something to take our minds off paying the mortgage, climate change, cholesterol and politicians. Why not zombies, vampires, werewolves and their ilk? Much more interesting, and comforting, than the news.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Dreadfully Ever After
by Steve Hockensmith
Paperback, 320 pages
also available as an ebook

What is a gal to do? Elizabeth Bennet finally marries the love of her life, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, settles in to the relative boredom of being a proper (non-arms-carrying) wife, only to see said love bitten by one of the dreadfulls! Instead of doing the right thing, which is to say lopping off his head, Lizzy embarks on a dangerous journey to try to save her man, if not her marriage.

This installment of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is more fast-paced than the first one, not being bound as by the original Jane Austen story. Hockensmith takes us on an exciting ride, utilizing some of the lesser characters in the first book, with all the social commentary and tongue in cheek humour that we look forward to in this series.

Tales of the Otherworld
by Kelley Armstrong
Paperback, 464 pages
also available as an ebook

New York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong has come out with this collection of beginnings and short stories that both stand on their own for new readers, as well as giving loyal followers a deeper look into the lives of her popular characters. As you weave through the lives and complex relationships of the people of the Otherworld, you will definitely find yourself intrigued by the characters and excited to read more. 

It's also an interesting look into the mind of a writer, that these back stories exist without explanation in the popular novels and also hold up as interesting tales on their own. Armstrong writes relationships well, immediately drawing you in. She has a large collection of young adult and adult fantasy fiction, and I am looking forward to reading more.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Getting a Little Nutty, and Heart-Healthy!

Did you know?
Walnuts are the only nuts with a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that omega-3s lower cholesterol, protect the heart, defend against some cancers and help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
Huh. I guess that makes them one important nut! And one you should be incorporating into your weekly diet. This week we whipped up two dishes from the California Walnut Commission to help promote the goodness of these beneficial and versatile little nuts.

A delicious pasta salad with the added boost of tuna and a silky yogurty dressing, and a crunchy granola to help you get your day started right. For even more walnutty recipes, check out this selection here. 

Do your body a favour, get a little nutty!

Tuna and California Walnut Pasta Salad*

The combination of black olives, thyme, garlic and roasted red peppers make this tuna pasta salad out-of-the-ordinary. The addition of California walnuts offers added heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

*This California walnut recipe is heart-healthy and appears on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.

Heart-Healthy Salads    

Tuna and California Walnut Pasta Salad
1 cup non-fat yogurt, 250 mL
3 tbsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, 45 mL
3 tbsp chopped black olives, 45 mL
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, 15 mL
1 clove garlic, minced    
salt and pepper to taste*    
10 oz fusilli (corkscrew), penne or other large pasta shape, 300 g
6 oz can water-packed tuna, 170 g
1/2 cup walnuts, 125 mL
1/4 cup thinly sliced roasted, peeled red peppers (packed in jars), 50 mL
2 tbsp chopped parsley, 25 mL
To make the dressing, in a small bowl place yogurt, vinegar, olives, thyme and garlic. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until done. Then rinse well and drain again. Drain tuna and place in large bowl with cooked pasta, walnuts and peppers and toss to combine.

Before serving, add the dressing and stir to coat ingredients evenly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 442, Protein 23 g, Total fat 12 g, (Polyunsaturated fat 8 g, Monounsaturated fat 2 g, Saturated fat 1 g), Cholesterol 11 mg, Carbohydrates 61 g, Fibre 5 g, Sodium 421 mg

* The Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests Canadians use no more than 1 tsp (5 mL) of salt a day.

California Walnut Granola*
This nutritious granola is packed with good-for-you ingredients. The oats and bran give you the fibre your body needs, the honey and vanilla are added for a touch of sweetness, while the walnuts provide added crunch and omega-3s.

*This California walnut recipe is heart-healthy and appears on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.

Heart-Healthy Breakfast     

California Walnut Granola 
4 cups quick cooking [not instant] rolled oats, 1 L
2 cups natural wheat bran, 500 mL
1 cup chopped California Walnuts, 250 mL
3/4 cup liquid honey, 175 mL
2 tsp vanilla, 10 mL
1-1/2 cups raisins [or dried cranberries, chopped dried apples, apricots or other mixed dried fruit] 375 mL
fresh fruit for garnish as desired       
In a large bowl stir together oatmeal, bran and walnuts. In a small microwaveable bowl, combine honey and vanilla; microwave on high for about 20 seconds until runny. Stir to mix; pour over dry ingredients and toss to coat well.

Spread evenly in large shallow baking pan and bake in 300ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden, stirring two or three times. Cool completely; it will crisp as it cools. Stir in raisins or dried fruit; store in airtight container.

Serves 10.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 352, Protein 9 g, Total fat 10 g (Polyunsaturated fat 7 g, Monounsaturated fat 2 g, Saturated fat 1 g), Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 65 g, Fibre 10 g, Sodium 7 m   

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Fresh Orange and Yogurt Tart from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts

 Look at that! Doesn't it just make your mouth water? I made that!

A few things you may not have known about me and desserts:
1. I am much better at making dinner look pretty than dessert. I don't know why it is, but we all seem to be better at one or the other. Desserts are more difficult for me.
2. I would rather have pie than cake. Every time. Especially any pie that involves fruit. This extends right back to my childhood birthdays when, even then, I insisted on birthday pie. (And once I ate the candle - why won't anybody let me forget that?)

I was really excited to find that Martha had come out with a new book dedicated just to pies and tarts, and, while oranges still abound, I immediately made her Fresh Orange and Yogurt Tart. The nutty cookie crust holds the lightest of yogurty fillings, set with gelatin for a quivering bite of loveliness, and topped with a burst of fresh orange. Heavenly.

Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts
150 Recipes for Old-Fashioned and Modern Favorites

by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Softcover, 352 pages

I used to get Martha's magazine, until I realized that I was only reading the food section. Now I keep up with the books instead. I am especially loving her new series that groups certain foods by category. The Cookies and Cupcakes books were a lot of fun, and the New Pies and Tarts has won my heart.

Martha has divided the 150 pie and tart recipes into styles:
Classic - such as Chocolate Cream Pie, Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie and Berries and Cream Tartlets
Free-form - such as Sun-Dried Strawberry Hand Pies, Apple Crumb Crostada, and Chocolate-Almond Tart with Fleur de Sel
Sleek - such as Caramelized Lemon Tart, Pumpkin Flans in Pastry Shells, and Crisp Coconut and Chocolate Pie
Dreamy - such as Butterscotch Praline Cream Pie, Apricot Chiffon Pie, and Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie
Rustic - such as Ginger-Pear Hand Pies, Sweet Potato Soufflé Pie, and Cheddar-Crust Apple Pie
Layered - such as Chocolate-Espresso Tart, Rice Pudding Tartlets with Blood Oranges, and Rhubarb Tart with Lemon-Yogurt Mousse
Dainty - such as Cranberry Meringue Mini Pies, Port Caramel Chocolate Tartlets, and Lime Curd Tartlets in Meringue Shells
Artful - such as Dried-Fruit Star-Lattice Tart, Vanilla Bean-Pineapple Tart, and Pear-Cranberry Pie with Faux Lattice
Holiday - such as Gingerbread-Raspberry Snowflake Tart, Pumpkin Chocolate Spiderweb Tart, and Stars and Stripes Mini Pies
Savory - such as Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Galette, Leek and Olive Tart, and Roasted Cauliflower Hand Pies

Seriously, there is a pie or tart for every occasion. I wonder how long it would take for me to make them all..?

Fresh Orange and Yogurt Tart
Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts, updated from her fan-favourite magazine version

For the crust:

1/2 cup whole raw almonds

1/4 cup granulated sugar

½ tsp coarse salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the filling:

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce packet)

2 tablespoon ice water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

Pinch of coarse salt

3 medium navel oranges

1. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse almonds, granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt until finely ground. Add flour; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly and holds together when squeezed. Press crumbs in bottom and up side of an 8-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate of freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. (To store, cover and freeze, up to 1 month.)

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and set, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

3. Make the filling: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the water and let stand 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, warm cream over medium heat. When it begins to steam, add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Stir warm half-and-half mixture into yogurt mixture. Pour filling into cooled tart shell and refrigerate until set, 2 hours (or, wrapped in plastic, up to 1 day).

4. With a sharp paring knife, slice off ends of oranges. Following curve of fruit, cut away peel, removing as much white pith as possible. Slice oranges into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and remove any seeds. Just before serving, arrange orange slices on top of tart.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Armchair Novel Review - The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

The Leopard
by Jo Nesbo
Paperback, 624 pages

There is nothing I love more than a good mystery novel. Jo Nesbo is new to me, but this is his sixth book to be translated into English - let me tell you - one book and I am hooked. He is the kind of author that you will want to read everything he wrote. Readers and reviewers have compared him to Stieg Larsson, and certainly they both write voluminous and intriguing mystery - but with Larsson you never quite forget that he is a journalist first. Nesbo is the better author and storyteller, in my opinion.

In The Leopard, his deeply flawed and defeated hero Inspector Harry Hole is rescued against his will from a drug-induced haze in Hong Kong to quietly investigate the bizarre murders of two women. Once he reluctantly takes the case, he discovers more grisly murders in a pattern that all seems to lead to one night in a ski hostel up in the mountains.

Nesbo has the ability to grab your attention and keep it through the six hundred plus pages. Suspense is high in this page-turner and through all the twists and turns it is hard to put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reading some of his other novels. Jo Nesbo is one of my new favourite authors.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Feta Walnut Pâté

How can you go wrong with nuts and cheese?

This is a simple and delicious vegetarian pâté that you can make ahead of time, featuring California Walnuts.
Boost your Brain Power
There’s a reason the walnut resembles a human brain. A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that walnuts improved cognitive and motor function in rats. The researchers believe that walnuts may have the ability to protect the brain by quenching the age-related free radicals, as well as promote neuronal communication and growth of new neurons.
See? Delicious and brain-boosting, who could ask for more?

Feta Walnut Pâté
adapted from Moosewood Cookbook, Mollie Katzen

1 cup feta cheese, loosely crumbled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup chopped California Walnuts, lightly toasted
Dash of cayenne
1 tsp paprika

If you would like your feta less salty, you can soak it in water for an hour and drain well before combining.

In a food processor, whiz together all the ingredients until you have a nicely textured paste. Mound into a small terrine and chill. Garnish with walnut halves.

Can be used as a spread for crackers or vegetarian crostini, but I like it best in celery - it adds a nice, fresh crunch.