Thursday, 31 May 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

In a Hurry? Try Some Curry- with Quick-Fix Indian!

Quick-Fix Indian
Easy Exotic Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less
by Ruta Kahate

Paperback, 7½x9 in., 224 pages

Indian cooking takes all day, right? Well, only if you want it to. Ruta Kahate shows you how you can make deliciously exotic Indian fare on a North American schedule - even on soccer night.

Ruta is a chef, best-selling author, and culinary travel guide and her ability to translate her culture's food into quick-fix fare came out of necessity when her two daughters were born. It's not too often we have hours to prepare dinner, or even one hour - but that doesn't mean we have to have take-out or worse - boring food.

The Indian palate is wide and varied and certainly goes beyond currys. Ruta started out doing everything the traditional (read: long) way, but parenthood and a busy life demanded that she make some changes, she has perfected the art of quick-fix Indian and you will too! You will find everything from breakfast to desserts, all in 30 minutes or less.

Chapters include:
Brisk Breakfasts
Lightning Lunches
Swift Soups
Speedy Salads and Raitas
Mains in Minutes
Express Veggies
Snappy Staples
Curries in a Hurry (Dals too)
Rapid Relishes
Zippy Snacks
Double-Quick Desserts
Last-Minute Libations

Ruta also shows you how to stock a quick-fix Indian pantry and shortcut shelf so that you are fully armed to get your delicious Indian dishes on the table in no time!

Ruta Kahate - also best-selling author of 5 Spices, 50 Dishes
Try these quick-fix dishes from Ruta Kahate this week! 

Black Pepper Shrimp with Curry Leaves
—From Quick-Fix Indian by Ruta Kahate/Andrews McMeel Publishing
serves 4

This is a very distinctive dish because the curry leaves and black pepper go together so well. I created the recipe one time when I had nothing but frozen shrimp in the freezer and was really craving the heat of black peppercorns. It’s been a party staple in my home ever since, served as a first course with Pickled Cucumber and Carrot Salad.

6 tablespoons canola oil
20 fresh curry leaves
1 pound large tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coarse black pepper, or even more if you like pepper as much as I do!

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Toss in the curry leaves and back away from the stove­—they’ll sputter wildly and turn crisp. Add the shrimp and toss. Add the black pepper and salt and continue tossing over high heat until the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp.

Tip: Try to get peeled shrimp with their tails still on, for this dish.

Serving suggestion: Rice Kanji, Hot and Sweet Apple Chutney, Sautéed Coconut Chard

Pickled Cucumber and Carrot Salad
—From Quick-Fix Indian by Ruta Kahate/Andrews McMeel Publishing
serves 4

2 medium cucumbers, preferably English, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 medium green serrano chiles, seeded
1 tabelspoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Using a mandoline or the slicer side of a box grater, thinly slice the cucumbers and carrots into very thin rounds. Using a knife, cut the chile into thin rounds as well.

In a serving bowl, mix together the cucumbers, carrots, chile, cilantro, lemon juice, salt to taste, and sugar. Use your fingers; this distributes the dressing evenly, otherwise the slices of cucumber tend to stick together in a clump. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Going to be in San Francisco in July? 
Ruta Kahate will be making an appearance at Omnivore Books on Food! 

July 7, 3:00 p.m. 
Omnivore Books on Food 
3885 Cesar Chavez Street 
San Francisco, CA 94131 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Armchair Novel Review: The Dog Who Came in from the Cold

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold
A Corduroy Mansions Novel
by Alexander McCall Smith

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover

My favourite writer of cozy, quirky character studies and fiction, Alexander McCall Smith, has come out with a sequel to the wonderful Corduroy Mansions in his Corduroy Mansions series. Each of his books stand alone of course, but it is also lovely to read them through and follow the characters on their particular, and sometimes peculiar, paths. 

Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay, happily living in an Eddie-less and Marcia-less flat with his beloved master William (just fifty and still regrettably single) is recruited by MI6 to serve his country by acting as spy to infiltrate a Russian crime ring. Partly swayed by patriotism and partly swayed by the beauty of the agent, William reluctantly agrees. 

Terrence Moongrove is in danger of being swayed into signing over his house to two opportunists in order to create a New Age centre - The Centre for Cosmological Studies - with dancing, of course. 

Barbara Ragg, literary agent and possessor of the much coveted flat that her father bought from his partner and which his partner's son Rupert, also her partner in the publishing business, resents her to no end for, is happily in love and travelling to Scotland with her new beau.

Caroline and James examine their relationship and consider being boyfriend and girlfriend. 

These and many other delightful tales weave and wend through each other in McCall Smith's classic fire-side style. 

Next in the series: A Conspiracy of Friends

Browse the book here:

Good things happen to those who are away! 

A big thanks to the Fairy Hobmother for visiting me while I was in Ohio last week! So very kind of him! I have seen traces of him granting wishes all over the internet and finally he has found me and my little blog! Very exciting indeed. I always say that people who give me presents are my favourite kind of people. Thanks again!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Tortillas with Grilled Chicken, Tangy Green Chile and Grilled Peppers and Onions

It has been pretty hot here for May, and that means we like to cook outside as much as possible. Thankfully our cooking club is featuring Rick Bayless, and his Mexican fare is perfectly suited for outdoor grilling.

This dish starts with a Roasted Poblano-Tomato Salsa that I adapted for the grill, part of which gets made into a marinade for fresh chicken breasts. Grill those babies up with some green onions (yes, I said green!) and sweet peppers, wrap it all in a soft tortilla with extra salsa and you have the perfect summer meal!

Tortillas with Grilled Chicken Breast, Tangy Green Chile and Grilled Peppers and Onions
Serves 4, double recipe for larger crowd
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Salsas that Cook

2  fresh jalapeno chiles
2 cups Roasted Poblano-Tomato Salsa (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 green onions, roots and wilted greens removed
2 sweet peppers (I used red and orange)
A few tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
4 large tortillas

In a small ungreased skillet, dry-roast the jalapenos over medium heat, turning them regularly until the chiles are soft and well darked in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a food processor or blender with 3/4 cup of the salsa, the Worcestershire and the juice from 3 or 4 lime wedges. Process to a smooth puree. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking dish, pour the salsa mixture over them, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but not more than overnight.

Preheat a gas grill or light a charcoal fire and let burn until the coals are covered with gray ash. With a brush (or an oil mister), lightly coat the green onions with oil, then lay them over the fire in a pot that's not too hot. Grill, turning them regularly, until they're soft, sweet and mouthwateringly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove 2 of the largest green onions, chop them into 1/4-inch pieces and stir into the remaining 1 1/4 cups of salsa. Squeeze another lime wedge or two over the remaining onions and keep them warm on the side of the grill or in a low oven.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, scraping as much as possible back into the pan; reserve the marinade. Brush (or mist) the chicken lightly on both sides with oil, lay on well-oiled hot grill grates until cooked through but still juicy, about 8 minutes per side. During the last couple of minutes on the grill, brush a nice coating of the reserved marinade over the chicken.

Cook the peppers when you cook the chicken - halve, seed and stem the peppers, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill till nicely charred and sweet with some crunch left.

Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch-wide strips, scoop it onto a warm serving platter and flank with the grilled onions and lime wedges. Pass the platter with warm tortillas. Let your guests make their own wraps with the chicken and grilled peppers and  onions, encouraging them to spoon on the salsa-onion mixture and squeeze on lime to their liking.

Roasted Poblano-Tomato Salsa with Fresh Thyme
adapted from Rick Bayless, Salsas that Cook


3 tomatoes (ripe)
2 medium (5 ounces) fresh poblano chiles
1 small (2 ounces) red onion, sliced ½ inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Thread the onion slices and the garlic on skewers.
Brush all the veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Char on the grill to taste, gently. Let cool.
Pulse in the food processor until small, add cilantro and thyme. Pulse again and season to taste.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Friday, 25 May 2012

I Want to be an IAMS Dog When I Grow Up

This is where I have been! Playing with doggies!

In my three day adventure in Ohio, one of the highlights was visiting the P&G Pet Care Facility Pet Nutrition Center. 

Set on 200 gorgeous acres, the dogs and cats and people there are some of the happiest I have met.

Most importantly, I got to play with the doggies!!!!!! They are so cute and live better than I do. It was fun to learn about the feeding studies and how some dogs have learned how to beat the system to get extra food. (Smart doggies!)

They are adopted by the facility with a life plan, get the greatest of care and are adopted out when their work is done. People love to adopt the Iams and Eukanuba dogs as they are in the best of health and completely trained and socialized. Which is more than I can say for my spoiled little shih tzus who regard strangers with the greatest of suspicion and disdain. ;-) (Actually, that's just Jedi - Merlin loves everyone!)

More than half the time the dogs are adopted by the people who work there, as they fall in love with the doggies they care for. Well, wouldn't you?

Some of the tests involve taste testing - which sounds like a great job to me! Others involve seeing how an increase in certain vital vitamins and minerals, amino acids, etc. improve the health of the dogs over time.

Any time a pet food claims to give you a shinier coat, increased joint and muscle care, more energy, etc. - they have to have the science to back it up. So one dog's job might be to eat the dog food formula that gives him more nutrients for good joints and muscles. He gets to take a run across the room on a sensitive pad once in a while to measure his gait and the movements of his joints and muscles in his legs. He (or she) wears those markers that Tiger Woods wore when they were capturing his movements to make his video game. All the dogs know is that it is fun!

What about the kitties?

There are kitties too - in lovely habitats that are half inside and half outside and the kitties have the ability to choose, all year long, where they want to be. They are filled with things to climb on and play with and hide in. Those kitties have it good!

We could look at them from a little further away, but couldn't play with them as kitties pick up germs fairly easy. Who knew?
Cageless Cat Habitats!

That's okay - you know I would rather play with dogs!

I had to be good and didn't even stuff a wiener dog into my suitcase. But you know I wanted to!

Stay tuned for further posts on my adventures with IAMS and Eukanuba.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


The Art of Grillin' & Chillin'
by Chef Ted Reader
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
also available as an eBook

I don't even think I even need to write anything here. I said Beerlicious! Doesn't that just say it all?

Canada's "Crazy Canuck Barbecue Kingpin" (label courtesy of GQ), Ted Reader knows how to please a crowd. He is master of the grill and endlessly creative. Let's face it, our grilling season can be short - make the most of it! This year Ted has paired delicious recipes for the grill with our favourite beverage Beer! Not just beer to drink, but beer in the recipes. All the recipes! Seriously, why has nobody thought of this before?

Now you can have your beer and eat it too with such delicious dishes as:

Creemore Pilsner Steak
Herb's Venison Beer Sausages
First-Date Explosions with Laquintas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
Plank-Smoked Camembert with Beer Nut Bacon Caramel Topping
Delirium Planked Mashed Potatoes
Beer Infused Beet, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad - I have always maintained that not enough salads contain beer. 
Grilled Apple Ice Cream and Strongbow Float - Yes, even the desserts contain beer!

And what are you going to serve all your beer-infused dishes with? Merlot?
Heck no! Beer! Roger Mittag, the Professor of Beer, offers serving suggestions to pair with Beerlicious fare. What could be better than that?
Beerlicious Burger
Contents Include:

Beerlicious: The Art of Grilling and Chilling
BBQ Seasoning Rubs and Sauces
Lamb, Veal, Game
Crustaceans and Fishes
Desserts and Breads

I know you are raring to try incorporating beer into your grilling - here are a couple of delicious recipes courtesy of Ted Reader. Thanks Ted!

Devil's Tri-Tip and Diva Q’s Double-Grilled Jalapeño Beer Cornbread. It's what's for dinner.

Devil’s Tri-Tip
From Beerlicious by Ted Reader
The tri-tip is cut from the bottom sirloin in the area of the steer’s hip. It is a three-sided, well-marbled, and underappreciated cut of meat with a robust flavour, especially when it’s marinated with Great Lakes Brewery Devil’s Pale Ale. Tri-tips weigh 1 1/2–2 1/2 lb (750 g–1.25 kg) each, and are best grilled to medium-rare and sliced thinly across the grain.

• Food processor
• Meat thermometer

1 sirloin tri-tip (1 1/2–2 1/2 lb/750 g–1.25 kg) 1
8 cloves garlic, minced 8 cloves
1 tsp sambal chili paste 5 mL
2 tsp fresh gingerroot, minced 10 mL
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 5 mL
1/4 cup soy sauce 60 mL
2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper 15 mL
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped 15 mL
1 can Great Lakes Brewery 1 can
Devil’s Pale Ale (16 oz/473 mL)
Kosher salt, to taste

• Using a fork or meat needling press, pierce tri-tip all over, about 30 times per side. Transfer to a large self-sealing plastic bag. Add garlic, chili paste, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, oil, pepper, rosemary, and Great Lakes Brewery Devil’s Pale Ale. Seal bag, turning bag and gently massaging meat to evenly coat. Refrigerate and let marinate, turning every 2 to 3 hours to evenly marinate, for 24 hours.
• Set up grill for direct and indirect grilling: preheat one side of grill to high (about 550oF/280oC), leaving other side off.

• Drain tri-tip, discarding leftover marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Season to taste with kosher salt.

• Place tri-tip on grill and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move tri-tip to cool side of grill. Reduce heat to medium 350–450oF/180–230oC) and close lid. Grill-roast, drizzling with extra beer, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in centre of thickest part registers 130oF (55oC) for medium-rare.

• Remove tri-tip from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

• Thinly slice across grain. Serve with dollops of Beer Compound Butter.

Serves 4 to 6

Beer Compound Butter
1/2 lb butter, softened 250 g
3 Tbsp Sesame Beer BBQ Rub (p. 42) 45 mL
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped 30 mL
2 green onions, minced 2
Splash Great Lakes Brewery
Splash Devil’s Pale Ale
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Transfer to a small serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month or until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup (250 mL)

Excerpted from Beerlicious by Ted Reader. Copyright © 2012 by Ted Reader. Photographs Copyright © 2012 by Mike McColl. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Diva Q’s Double-Grilled Jalapeño Beer Cornbread
From Beerlicious by Ted Reader

Ahhh . . . the mighty Diva Q ( – a.k.a Danielle – is another fantastic BBQ fanatic. Diva is ranked as Canada’s No. 1 BBQ competitor on the Kansas City BBQ Society TOY (Team of the Year) Listings, and she’s got an enormous passion for cooking outdoors.

Diva Q burst onto the BBQ scene about four years ago. I met her at her first professional BBQ competition in Barrie, Ontario, where she placed fourth overall. After that, she was hooked on this crazy competitive BBQ circuit, and has become one of the country’s best BBQ enthusiasts. She is more than just passionate, she is obsessed with everything Q. Grilling and smoking run through her veins like JD and beer run through mine.

This recipe is truly gooey and delicious. Rock on, Diva! I love ya!

• 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron frying pan

3 ears corn, shucked 3 ears
1 cup all-purpose flour 250 mL
1 cup yellow cornmeal 250 mL
2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
1/2 tsp baking soda 2 mL
3 Tbsp granulated sugar 45 mL
3/4 tsp salt 3 mL
2 large eggs, beaten 2
1/2 cup milk 125 mL
1/2 cup Big Rock McNally’s Extra Ale 125 mL
2 Tbsp butter 30 mL
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, membrane removed, and finely diced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil 30 mL
2 Tbsp butter 30 mL

1/4 cup butter 60 mL
1/4. cup liquid honey 60 mL
1/4 cup Big Rock McNally’s Extra Ale 60 mL

• Preheat grill to high, 400°F (200°C) for indirect heat.

• Place corn on grill and char, turning occasionally, and drizzling with extra beer, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until kernels are tender and slightly charred.

• Remove corn from grill and let cool slightly. Slice kernels from cobs.

• In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

• In a small bowl, stir together eggs, milk, Big Rock McNally’s Extra Ale, jalapenos, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Add 1 cup (250 mL) of the charred corn
and enough extra beer to moisten batter.

• In cast-iron pan on grill, melt butter. Remove pan from grill and swirl butter, coating entire inside of pan.

• Pour in batter.

• Place pan with batter on grill over indirect heat. Close lid and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

• Remove cornbread from grill and let cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high (about 450°F/230°C).

• Unmould cornbread from pan. Brush all over with Sauce, reserving some Sauce for basting, and grill, turning once and basting with reserved Sauce, for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

• Transfer to a platter. Slice into wedges and serve with extra butter.

Makes 1 loaf

• In a small sauce pot, stir together butter, honey, and beer over heat until warm and sticky. Keep warm until ready to use.


This big beer (7% alcohol by volume) pours to a nice dark amber, burnt-orange hue, tinged with red around the edges. The aromas are fairly sweet and fruity, with some hints of plum, and a touch of caramel.

The body is thick and rich – full of caramel and roasted grains. The finish is quite smooth despite the higher alcohol.

McNally’s Extra Ale should be a nice match to the cornbread. The higher alcohol and full malt body lessen the heat of the jalapeños and, at the same time, wipe out the richness of the bread and the sweetness of the corn. Yum!

Excerpted from Beerlicious by Ted Reader. Copyright © 2012 by Ted Reader. Photographs Copyright © 2012 by Mike McColl. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Empanadas, Salsa, and Grilled Corn- from Rick Bayless!

I have been loving learning all about Mexican cooking with Rick Bayless this year with our cooking club. He's opened up new worlds of flavour for us and summer seems the perfect time for the fresh tastes of Mexican cuisine. And if we can use the grill? Even better.

This week I whipped up Rick's pork empanadas with a simple salsa and sour cream and when my husband got home he grilled up some great Mexican-style corn on the cob.

The results? A delicious Mexican banquet for a small group of friends. Or two really hungry people with enough leftover for lunches. Your choice.

Empanadas de Picadillo
Crispy Wheat Flour Turnovers with Well-Seasoned Meat
Recipe from

Yield:  16 turnovers


For the dough:
3/4 pound (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the dough
1/3 cup lard OR 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
About 3/4 cup very warm tap water

For filling and frying:
1 recipe Minced-Pork Picadillo, cooled to room temperature (Below)
Oil for deep frying, about 2 quarts, to a depth of 2 inches


1.  The dough.   Measure the flour into a bowl, then thoroughly work in the fat.  Dissolve the salt in the hot water, then work it into the flour mixture, making a medium-stiff dough.   Knead just enough to bring the dough together and smooth.  Don't overwork the dough.

2.  Resting.  Divide the dough into 16 portions, roll each into a ball, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough easier to roll).

3.  Forming the empanadas.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of dough into a 5-inch diameter circle.  Very lightly brush the perimeter with water, then scoop about 3 tablespoons of filling onto one side.  Fold the uncovered side over the filling, expelling as much air as possible, then press the two edges firmly together.  Lay the empanada on a baking sheet; continue forming turnovers with the remaining balls of dough.  Firmly seal the empanadas by pressing the two edges together with the tines of a fork or by making the rope edge described below.

4.  The optional decorative rope edge.  Hold an empanada in one hand; with the thumb and first finger of the other hand, pinch out a 1/2-inch section of the dough on the nearest end. flattening it so that it extends out 1/4-inch beyond the rest of edge.  With your thumb, curl over the top half of the pinched-out section of dough (it should look like a wave braking), then gently press it down to secure it.  Now, pinch out the next 1/2-inch section of dough, curl the top side over, and press it down.   Continue until you reach the other end.  Fold the last pinched-out section back on itself, finished the seal.  Complete the rope edge on the remaining empanadas and return them to the baking sheet.   The empanadas can be frozen at this point and held for several weeks.

(I have a handy little 4-inch pocket press)

5.  Frying the empanadas.  About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oil to 350 degrees.  Fry the empanadas 2 or 3 at a time, until deep golden, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until all are fried.  Serve at once.

(I sealed mine with egg, for extra measure. Brushed with egg wash and baked at 400 for about 20 minutes.) 

Picadillo Oaxaqueno
Minced Pork with Almonds, Raisins, and Sweet Spices
Recipe from

Yield:  about 3 1/3 cups


1 1/2 pounds (3 medium-large) rip tomatoes, roasted, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
OR one 28-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds lean, coarse-ground pork
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns (or about 3/4 teaspoon ground)
1-inch Mexican cinnamon stick (or about 1 teaspoon ground)
5 cloves (or about 1/8 teaspoon ground)
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 canned chipotle chile, seeded and minced


1.  The tomatoes.  For a picadillo using peeled fresh tomatoes, place them in a blender or food processor with 1/3 cup water, then process until smooth.  Using canned tomatoes, simply puree them with their liquid.

2.  The meat.  Heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7 or 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.  Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown.  (If quite a bit of fat has rendered from the meat, drain it off.)

3.  Finishing the picadillo.  Pulverize the pepper, cinnamon, and cloves in a mortar or spice grinder, then add to the skillet along with the tomato puree, raisins and vinegar.  Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogeneous mass, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes.
Toast the almonds for about 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven, stir into the filling along with the minced chipotle.  Season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons, and it's ready.

Salsa Mexicana
Recipe from

Makes 1 1/2 cups


1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 1 to 2 serranos or 1 small jalapeño), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
12 ounces (about 2 medium-small round or 4 to 5 plum) red-ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water, shake off the excess and transfer to a medium bowl.  Add the green chile, tomatoes, cilantro and lime.  Stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Hello Yellow!
Charcoal Grilled Corn with Cream, Cheese and Chile
Elote Asado
Recipe from

Makes 6 Servings


6 ears fresh sweet corn, in their husks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
About 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream mixed with a little milk or cream
1/3 cup crumbled Mexican queso anejo or queso fresco, or cheese like parmesan, feta or farmer’s cheese
About 1 tablespoon hot powdered chile


Preliminaries.   About an hour before serving, place the ears of corn in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and weight with a plate to keep them submerged.  Light your charcoal fire and let it burn until the bed of coals is medium-hot; adjust the grill 4 inches above the fire.

Grill the corn.   Lay the corn on the grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently, until the outer leaves are blackened.  Remove, let cool several minutes, then remove the husks and silk.  About 10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with melted butter, return to the grill and turn frequently until nicely browned.  Serve right away, passing the cream, cheese and powdered chile for your guests to use to their own liking.

Soaking in Water, Roasting in the Husk:  The preliminary soaking keeps the outside from burning right off the bat and the inside damp enough to steam.  First roasting in the husk penetrates the corn with leafy flavor, but the step is often omitted—especially with sweet corn.

Corn: The meaty, nonsweet field corn used in Mexico can be prepared as directed; those who like no-nonsense eating will love the texture.

Powdered Chile: Powdered chile de arbol is the cayenne of Mexico. My favorite choices, though, are powdered guajillo and New Mexico chile - they’re less hot, so I can put more on.

Timing and Advance Preparation
Start soaking and fire building an hour before serving. There is little else to do in advance; if you plan to have your charcoal fire going for a long time, you may complete the in-husk steaming well ahead of the final grilling.

Traditional Variations
Fresh Corn, Fried (Esquites)
In Toluca and Mexico City the corn is occasionally prepared as follows: Cut the kernels from 6 cobs, then fry in 3 tablespoons lard or vegetables oil (or butter) with hot green chile to taste (seeded and sliced) and 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped epazote. Season with salt.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Friday, 18 May 2012

Muffins for Everyone! Gluten-Free Muffins and Vegan Muffins. Because Everyone Deserves a Good Muffin.

Do you have to give up your favourite foods because you maintain a vegan or gluten-free diet? No way! Now you can have your muffins and eat them too, with two new specialty cookbooks from Camilla V. Saulsbury.

I believe it was Socrates who said, "A muffin-free life is not worth living." And I couldn't agree more. So get out your old muffin pans, you can finally have muffins back in your life.

150 Best Gluten-Free Muffin Recipes
by Camilla V. Saulsbury

Paperback, 192 pages

The perfect muffin book for those who are sensitive to gluten but still want to have muffiny goodness! Camilla shows you how to stock a gluten-free baking pantry and how to make the best GF muffins!

Chapters Include:
Muffin Mastery
Ingredients for Gluten-Free Muffins
My Top 15 Muffins
Breakfast Muffins
Coffeehouse Muffins
Lunch and Supper Muffins
Global Muffins

Sample recipes for you to try at home:

Berry Corn Muffins (page 49)
Makes 12 muffins

These tender, not-too-sweet muffins, which echo the clean corn flavor of polenta, are delicious alongside a steamed latte or a cup of Darjeeling - or all on their own.

•    Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
•    12-cup muffin pan, greased

1 cup    Brown Rice Flour Blend    250 mL
    (see page 10)
1 cup    stone-ground yellow    250 mL
2 tsp    gluten-free baking powder    10 mL
¾ tsp    xanthan gum    3 mL
½ tsp    baking soda    2 mL
½ tsp    salt    2 mL
1    egg    1
½ cup    granulated sugar    125 mL
1 cup    buttermilk    250 mL
¼ cup    unsalted butter, melted    60 mL
2 tsp    finely grated lemon zest    10 mL
1 cup    raspberries, blackberries    250 mL
    or blueberries
3 tbsp    turbinado sugar    45 mL

1.    In a large bowl, whisk together flour blend, cornmeal, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt.
2.    In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk egg. Whisk in granulated sugar, buttermilk, butter and lemon zest until well blended.
3.    Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Gently fold in raspberries.
4.    Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
5.    Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.

Make It Casein-Free:

Replace the buttermilk with non-dairy buttermilk (see page 20). Replace the butter with unrefined virgin coconut oil, warmed, or vegan margarine, melted.

Excerpted from 150 Best Gluten-Free Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Fresh Herb Ricotta Muffins (page 133)
Makes 12 muffins

Serve these alongside cold sliced deli chicken, ham or roast beef for an easy summer lunch or supper.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    12-cup muffin pan, greased

1½ cups    Brown Rice Flour Blend    375 mL
    (see page 10)
1 tbsp    gluten-free baking powder    15 mL
½ tsp    salt    2 mL
½ tsp    xanthan gum    2 mL
1⁄8 tsp    freshly ground black pepper    0.5 mL
1 tbsp    granulated sugar    75 mL
2    eggs    2
2⁄3 cup    buttermilk    150 mL
½ cup    whole-milk ricotta cheese    125 mL
3 tbsp    unsalted butter, melted    45 mL
½ cup    chopped walnuts, toasted    125 mL
¼ cup    chopped assorted fresh herbs,     60 mL
    such as chives, mint, basil,
    parsley, tarragon and cilantro

1.    In a large bowl, whisk together flour blend, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum and pepper.
2.    In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, buttermilk, cheese and butter until well blended.
3.    Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Gently fold in walnuts and herbs.
4.    Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.
5.    Bake in preheated oven for 23 to 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Tip: When storing fresh cut herbs in the refrigerator, gently wash them in cool water and shake the excess water from the leaves (it's fine if they're slightly damp). Wrap the herbs in paper towels and store them in the vegetable crisper.

Excerpted from 150 Best Gluten-Free Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes
by Camilla V. Saulsbury

Paperback, 192 pages

Camilla shows you how to use such ingredients as non-dairy milk, soy yogurt, coconut oil, and ground flax seeds to make moist and delicious vegan muffins. She teaches you how to stock a vegan baking pantry and how to bake delicious vegan muffins of every imaginable variety!

Chapters Include:
Muffin Mastery
Ingredients for Vegan Muffins
My Top 20 Muffins
Breakfast Muffins
Coffeehouse Muffins
Lunch and Supper Muffins
Global Muffins

Sample recipes for you to try at home:

Fresh Plum Muffins with Walnut Sugar Tops (page 90)
Makes 10 muffins

These muffins would be terrific made with any type of stone fruit - peaches, nectarines, apricots - so feel free to substitute your summertime favorites for the plums.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    12-cup muffin pan, 10 cups lined with paper liners

½ cup    finely chopped walnuts    125 mL
2 tbsp    vegan granulated sugar or    30 mL
    evaporated cane juice
¼ tsp    ground nutmeg    1 mL

1 cup    whole wheat pastry flour    250 mL
1 cup    all-purpose flour    250 mL
2½ tsp    baking powder    12 mL
½ tsp    ground cinnamon    2 mL
½ tsp    baking soda    2 mL
½ tsp    salt    2 mL
¾ cup    vanilla-flavored soy yogurt    175 mL
½ cup    agave nectar    125 mL
¼ cup    vegetable oil    60 mL
1 tsp    vanilla extract    5 mL
1½ cups    diced firm-ripe plums    375 mL

1.    Topping: In a small bowl, combine walnuts, sugar and nutmeg. Set aside.
2.    Muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
3.    In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, agave nectar, oil and vanilla until well blended.
4.    Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in plums.
5.    Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with topping.
6.    Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 3 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.

Tip: To find a ripe plum, hold one in the palm of your hand. It should feel heavy. There should be some give, particularly at the blossom end (opposite the stem end). Hard plums will soften a little in a brown paper bag at room temperature within 2 days. But plums won't sweeten appreciably after they're picked: the sugars must develop on the tree.

Excerpted from 150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury © Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Sweet Potato Sage Muffins (page 142)
Makes 12 muffins

Sweet potatoes take beautifully to muffin form. The sage and green onions make an ideal foil for the sweetness of the potatoes.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    12-cup muffin pan, greased

¾ cup    non-dairy milk (soy, almond,rice, hemp) 175 mL
2 tsp    cider vinegar    10 mL
2¼ cups    all-purpose flour    550 mL
2½ tsp    baking powder    12 mL
1½ tsp    salt    7 mL
1 tsp    dried sage    5 mL
½ tsp    baking soda    2 mL
2 tbsp    vegan granulated sugar or    30 mL
    evaporated cane juice
1⁄3 cup    vegetable oil    75 mL
1    can (15 oz/425 mL) sweet potatoes,     1
    drained and mashed (or 11⁄2 cups/
    375 mL cold mashed cooked sweet potatoes)
1⁄3 cup    finely chopped green onions (scallions)    75 mL

1.    In a glass measuring cup, combine milk and vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2.    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sage and baking soda.
3.    In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, milk mixture and oil until well blended. Stir in sweet potatoes until blended.
4.    Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in green onions.
5.    Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.
6.    Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack. Serve warm or let cool completely.

Tips: Be careful measuring the sage for this recipe. Although the musky, minty and slightly floral flavor of the herb is delectable in combination with the sweet potatoes, it is very pungent: too much and the flavor can be overwhelming.
If making the mashed sweet potatoes from scratch, prepare them without milk and butter. They can be easily prepared in the microwave: Scrub sweet potatoes (about 2 medium for this recipe) and pierce each a few times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate lined with a paper towel. Microwave on High, turning halfway through, for 4 to 5 minutes for the first potato plus 2 to 3 minutes for each additional potato. Let cool. Cut in half, scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Excerpted from 150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury © Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Where in the World is Natashya KitchenPuppies Going?

If you said Ohio, you are right!

I am heading off to the 3rd Annual Behind The Paw Blogger Summit in beautiful downtown Dayton Ohio.

Dayton is just north of Cincinnati, and all I know about that area I learned from these guys.

Also that they eat chile on top of spaghetti. Which sounds awesome.

But Ohio is also the home of P&G Pet Care, and I will be touring Iams and Eukanuba and learning about new advancements in pet nutrition.

If you have any questions you'd like me to pass on to the others involved, send me an email! My contact info is on the left hand sidebar.

Here's what I'll be doing:

Looks fun and informative! 

A quote from one of last year's attendants:
The “Behind the Paw” Influencer Summit at P&G Pet Care was an event of the highest caliber. The doors were wide open for all of us to observe, ask questions, and learn about pet nutrition, and meet the dogs and cats that live at the Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Equally interesting to me was the tour of the Leipsic Plant where the dry kibble is made. The standards in place far exceed the USDA requirements ensuring the pet food is of the highest quality. Putting faces to the Iams and Eukanuba brands and knowing that everyone we met loved their pets as much as we love our own really added to the overall positive experience.
So let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to ask. I'll do my best to get your answers for you!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Bread Baking Babes Bake in Pots!

Cast-Iron pots. Not just for chicken anymore!

This month Karen has challenged us to put away our pans and bake in a pot! Cast-iron or even terracotta cloches are perfect for this month's Shepherd's Bread, a recipe from Beth Hensperger's Bread for all Seasons.

The dough is lovely, and huge! I generally start dough out in my stand mixer but this one was soon too voluminous for the poor beastie. I baked it in my enamel-coated cast-iron 6.5 litre roaster and needed a little extra time to get the top browned and the interior cooked. (Hooray for instant-read thermometers!)

You could also break the loaf down into smaller loaves and shorten the time a bit, but it was fun making giant sandwiches with the big one.

The bread is sweet and soft with a crackly crust - and perfect for sandwiches! 

If you'd like to bake Shepherd's Bread with us this month and earn a Bread Baking Buddy badge, see Karen's post for all the details!

Beth. Hensperger, Bread for All Seasons, says the following about Shepherd's Bread:
"Traditionally baked in a cast-iron pan submerged in a small, ember-lined pit covered with dirt. It is easily adopted to conventional home ovens by baking it in a contemporary clay cloche, a cast iron Dutch oven with a tight fitting flanged lid, or on a pizza stone. This Basque bread is a relative of the simple Spanish and Greek peasant loaves of Europe. For a ww version, substitute an equal amount of ww grain for the 2 cups flour in the sponge and 1.1/2 cups ww for an equal amount in the dough, making a slightly denser finished loaf. Eat this bread the same day it is made."
Shepherd's Bread
{Bread for all seasons by Beth Hensperger}
Makes 1 large loaf
Recipe and notes provided by Karen of Bake My Day

Sponge (takes 2 hours)
2 tsp active dry yeast or 3/4 oz fresh yeast
2 cups tepid water (460 ml)
2 cups unbleached ap or bread flour (140 white+140 rye)
1/2 cup sugar (90 gr)

Dough (first rise 2-3 hours, second only 15 minutes!)
1 tsp active dry yeast or 1/4 oz fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs salt
1/2 cup olive oil
5.1/2 to 6 cups unbleached ap flour or bread flour (edit: used 770gr this time! )

1/4 cup unbleached ap flour or bread flour (didn't need it to knead, used some to flour dough/bowl)

1. Prepare the sponge: In a large bowl mix yeast plus 1 cup of the flour and the sugar using a large whisk. Add remaining cup of flour and beat hard until very smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temp until soft, spongy and pleasantly fermented, 2 hours.

2. Prepare the dough: Using a wooden spoon, beat down the sponge. Alternatively, beat down the sponge in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a measuring cup, stir the yeast into the warm water to dissolve. Add the yeast, warm water, salt and olive oil to the sponge and beat well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating vigorously until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Will be firm yet springy and resilient. Adding only 1 tbs flour at a time to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a floured deep container, dust the top with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temp until tripled in bulk, 2.1/2 - 3 hours.

4. Shaping: Again turn out the dough on a clean surface. It will be slightly sticky from the long rise. Knead in about 1/4 cup more flour to make a firmer dough, about 1 minute. Shape into a tight round ball. Pull the ends tightly to the center of the loaf to form a smooth bottom and sides. Mist the surface with water. Using about 2 tbs of flour, heavily coat the top surface.
Using a serrated knife, slash the top surface decoratively, no more than 1/4 inch deep to allow steam to escape and to allow room for the dough to expand.

Cloche instructions:

Sprinkle the dish with flour and place the dough ball in the center of the dish. Move the dough around to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit with flour.
Cover with the cloche dome/bell  and let rest at room temp 15 minutes. Before placing in the oven, rinse the inside of the cloche bell with water, draining off excess drips.
Place back over the bread and place in the preheated 425F oven.
Bake 10 minutes. Lower thermostat to 400F and bake a further 25-35 minutes. Remove the bell after 30 minutes of baking to allow the loaf to brown thoroughly.

Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

If you'd like to use your bread baking stone or tiles; let rise a second time for 35 minutes then use same oven setting but don't lower the temp. and bake until the bread is golden brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped.

The Bread Baking Babes

This bread has been YeastSpotted!

BYOB Badge