Sunday, October 30, 2011

Strawberry Frozen Souffle




I had desserts for a family event. Each one was pretty decadent and I really needed something that would satisfy the very diet conscious and still feel that they were having something that pleases the pallet. My friend "S" came to my rescue with a very simple, make ahead and throw it in the freezer souffle that's not only quick to make but can stay in the freezer up until 5 minutes before you're ready to serve. Here it is.

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, unbeaten

Put all your ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer
Create a tent for the top of the bowl (can be very messy when mixing)
Beat 15 minutes and pour into a medium large bowl suitable for freezing and serving
Decorate with sliced strawberries (optional)

This should be made at least a day in advance of serving. Take out of freezer 5 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe doesn't double well.





So fresh tasting - yummy. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Arepas


I'm always curious about cultural foods from around the world. Any chance I have, I ask for quick lessons on what's popular in peoples' countries of origin. Our newest addition to the family - "A" is from Venezuela. "A" often talks about the history of Venezuela and the influences that have shaped Venezuelan cuisine. It's just so refreshing to have another foodie in the family. A's friend Karenis was visiting from Caracus and even though I don't speak Spanish and she doesn't speak English, we found a common language in food. (with the help of a little interpretation) We decided that she would teach me how to make a Venezuelan street food called Arepas or corncakes.

Arepas were originally made by the indigenous inhabitants of Venezuela and Colombia. These small corncakes are sold in Venezuelan restaurants called areperías and are stuffed with all manner of fillings like a sandwich. In Colombia, arepas are made a little smaller and are spread with butter or topped with cheese.

Translating a recipe was near impossible so I found one HERE This recipe makes 5-10 arepas

Ingredients

•Pre-cooked cornmeal (see notes) -- 2 cups
•Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
•Boiling water -- 3 cups
•Oil -- 3 tablespoons

Method

1.Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt.



Pour in 2 1/2 cups of the boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a mass. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.





2.Using wetted hands, form balls of dough out of about 1/4 cup of dough and press to form a cake about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. If the dough cracks at the edges, mix in a little more water and then form the cakes.


3.Heat the oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the patties, a few at a time, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side.





4.When all the patties have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they sound lightly hollow when tapped. Serve immediately.






Variations
•Filled Arepas: Split the arepas in half when finished and scoop out a little of the soft dough filling. Stuff with your chosen filling.
•Arepa de Pabellón: shredded, seasoned meat and black beans.
•Reina Pepeada: chopped chicken, avocado, and mayonnaise mashed together.
•Arepa de Dominó: black beans and crumbled white cheese.
•Arepa de Perico: scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers and onions.
•Columbian Arepas: make smaller and thicker and don't bake. Top with butter and melted cheese.
•Other possible fillings: grated white or cheddar cheese; guasacaca, ham and cheese, hard-boiled quails eggs.
•The sautéing step is sometimes skipped and the arepas are simply baked. In the countryside arepas are often cooked on the grill.
•Small arepas can be made and served as appetizers with garnishes on top instead of inside. Or they can be eaten as small biscuits.
•Sometimes a little sugar is mixed in with the dough to form sweet arepas (arepas dulces).

Notes
•The cornmeal used to make arepas is a special, precooked type that usually goes by the name masarepa, or masa precocida. It can often be found in Latino markets. The more commonly found masa harina is not the correct type to use for this recipe.









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Monday, October 24, 2011

Marcella Hazan's Simple Tomato Sauce




Ruth from Once Upon a Feast is celebrating Presto Nights #237. This week's host is
Theresa of The Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine . The roundup will be up on October 28th so make a point of checking out the entries on Theresa's blog.

It wasn't that long ago that I was speaking with Val from More Than Burnt Toast sharing with her that I was on tomato surplus. She told me that I had to try Marcella Hazan's sauce recipe; that I'd never had anything like it .and that I would be pleased with the result. Val also mentioned that it was easy peasey (my favourite) and inspired me to check out Hazan's cookbook and give it a try.



If you're not familiar with Marcella Hazan, get to know her a little better HERE

* 2 cups canned plum tomatoes (whole, peeled, chopped, with their juices about one 28-oz. can) I used fresh tomatoes.
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
* salt, to taste

#1 Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan.

#2 Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato.

#3 Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.

#4 Discard the onion.



This is one of those forever recipes that will always get a WOW reaction at the table and nobody will know how simple it really is to make (unless, of course you tell them)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew


I was so happy to have Psychgrad and "R" here for Canadian Thanksgiving. I was equally as happy to have the help in hosting dinner for the family. Psychgrad was the Chef de Cuisine, "R" moved tables and chairs and heavy things in and out of the oven and I was the Sous Chef.

This year we have an addition to the family. "A" is charming, gracious, kind and vegetarian. Is vegetarian really an adjective? We did want him to feel special and comfortable with the family and in our family food=love.

Psychgrad and I had to put our thinking caps on. The challenge was to create a main dish that was both impressive and vegetarian. I mean you can always fill up on sides and salads but to me it's just not special enough. We finally found what we believed was going to be a show stopper at the Gourmet site. Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew!!! Sounds good, no?

I drove up to the Southbrook Pumpkin Patch to pick out a perfect pumpkin. I was looking for a pumpkin that was a sweet, flavourful eating pumpkin.



We read the recipe over a couple of times to make sure we had the sequence right and all the ingredients we needed. The recipe has three parts to it; a sauce made of roasted vegetables and wine, a stew of roasted vegetables (not the same as the sauce) and a combination of all inside the pumpkin to bake to perfection.

ROASTED-VEGETABLE AND WINE SAUCE
MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS
ACTIVE TIME:30 MIN START TO FINISH:4 HR

This intense base is the secret to the full-bodied richness of the stew. Roasting emphasizes the vegetables' best qualities, and they're simmered with red wine and plenty of herbs and aromatics.

1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise
5 carrots, quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 red bell peppers, quartered
1 lb plum tomatoes, halved
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb quartered
2 large onions, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling water
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
1 (4-inch) piece celery
4 parsley stems
1 large thyme sprig
8 black peppercorns
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 cup dry red wine
4 qt water
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil; 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
EQUIPMENT: cheesecloth; kitchen string



ROAST VEGETABLES:

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
Wash leek halves (see Cooking Tips) and pat dry.



Toss leek, carrots, garlic, bell peppers, plum tomatoes, fennel, and onions with oil, then spread in a 17- by 14-inch roasting pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
SOAK PORCINI AND MAKE BOUQUET GARNI WHILE VEGETABLES ROAST:


FINISHING THE STOCK:
Transfer roasted vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart pot and add wine to roasting pan, then deglaze pan by boiling, scraping up brown bits, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine to vegetables in pot along with water (4 quarts), porcini and soaking liquid, bouquet garni, sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons salt.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until stock is reduced to about 6 cups, about 2 hours. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing firmly on and then discarding solids.

MAKE SAUCE:
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add stock in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

COOKS’ NOTES:

Stock can be made ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered, 1 week or frozen in an airtight container 1 month.
Sauce can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat before using.

Root vegetables, mushrooms, and seitan—a firm, meatlike wheat protein that soaks up all the flavors of the sauce—mingle with roasted vegetables inside the pumpkin, whose flesh you scoop out along with servings of the stew. (Don't be intimidated at the thought of assembling such a masterpiece—if you've ever made a jack-o'-lantern, you have the skills to prepare this dish.)

THE VEGETABLE STEW

1 fennel bulb with fronds
2 medium parsnips (1/2 pound total), peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb celery root (sometimes called celeriac; 1/2 of 1 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
14 small shallots (about 1 pound), peeled and left whole, plus 1/2 cup chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 red bell pepepers
1 (8- to 9-lb) pumpkin (preferably cheese, pie, or Sweet Meat variety)
Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce, heated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1/4 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed
1 lb seitan (seasoned wheat gluten), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped thyme, divided
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

ROAST ROOT VEGETABLES:
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tablespoon and reserve, then discard stalks and remaining fronds. Halve bulb lengthwise, then core and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wedges.
Toss fennel wedges, parsnips, celery root, carrots, and whole shallots with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan until coated, then roast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven. Leave oven on.


PREPARE PEPPERS AND PUMPKIN WHILE VEGETABLES ROAST:
Roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blistered, 5 to 8 minutes. (If you stove is not gas, see cooks' note, below.)
Transfer peppers to a bowl and let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and discard stems and seeds. Cut peppers lengthwise into 1-inch strips.
Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (6 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out and discard seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; do not discard top), then sprinkle flesh with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Put pumpkin in a large roasting pan.



STUFF AND ROAST PUMPKIN:
Pour 1 1/2 cups sauce into pumpkin and cover with top, then brush all over with remaining tablespoon oil. Roast 1 hour.
While pumpkin roasts, heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped shallots until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are browned and begin to give off liquid, about 8 minutes. Add wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon thyme, then stir in 1 1/2 cups more sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and fold in roasted root vegetables and peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.









After pumpkin has roasted 1 hour, spoon vegetable filling into it, then cover with top. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork, vegetables are tender, and filling is hot, about 30 minutes more. Transfer pumpkin to a platter using 2 sturdy metal spatulas.
Stir together fennel fronds, parsley, zest, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and sprinkle half of it over filling. Stir remainder into remaining sauce and serve sauce on the side.




COOKS’ NOTES:
Bell peppers can be broiled on rack of a broiler pan about 2 inches from heat, turning occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
Peppers can be roasted and peeled up to 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
Root vegetables can be roasted 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.
Pumpkin can be cut, scraped, and seasoned 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Pour out any accumulated liquid and bring pumpkin to room temperature before proceeding with recipe.

We didn't use the entire 6 cups of sauce; the pumpkin creates juice also. I froze the leftover and can certainly use it for another recipe.
We couldn't find seitan at the health food store so used cubed and herbed firm tofu.

Verdict: Was it a fair amount of work? YES! Was it worth it? YES YES AND YES -- 'nuf said

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chive Pesto


I think I need to plant more perennials.  I loved having chives growing without having to expend any energy.  Not to mention that they grew better than the plants that I worked hard to grow!

The thing is, I don't tend to use chives in many of my dishes.  So, I decided to expand my pesto collection and make some chive pesto.

I started out by separating the flowers from the rest of the chives.  




I like using the flowers (they're edible) as a garnish or in a vase, for decoration.





I found a recipe for chive pesto at this link 

Chive Pesto Recipe

2 cups roughly chopped chives
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted nuts: almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, etc.
1-3 ounces or 1/3 cup more or less parmesan cheese
1 clove or less of garlic



Blend it in a food processor until fairly chopped up but still smallish chunks.  Note: I blended it until pretty close to smooth.  


I ended up having enough ingredients for a double recipe, which filled up two ice cube trays.


Here's my pesto collection: 3 bags of scape pesto, 1 bag of chive pesto and 1/2 bag of basil pesto.  Each pesto has its own distinct flavour and I'm looking forward to try them in the months to come. 

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Melbourne: Part II


After touring the downtown area of Melbourne, which you can read about here, we wanted to check out some other parts of town.

On the second day, we walked from the part of town we were staying in, Brighton, to St. Kilda (about 6-7 km).  The walk by the Bay is lovely, peaceful and gives you a view of some of the nicest real estate in the city.





St. Kilda is an interesting part of town that, after a period of being dodgy, is returning to its original glory.  


After our walk, we were ready for lunch.  We took our chances and tried Rococo.  We started with a Caprese salad and each ordered a panini.   



Both tasted really good and really hit the spot!  

Rococo St Kilda on Urbanspoon

After spending some more time walking around St. Kilda, we were drawn in by the dessert window at the Acland Cake Shop.

Unfortunately, I think in this case, it looks better than it tastes.  I got a vanilla slice.  The custard was sticky and hard to swallow and the pastry was so hard, it was difficult to break apart.


R wasn't a big fan of his dessert either.  


The restaurant is in need of some updating and the bathrooms were in need of toilet paper.  I got the impression that it was a long-run family business, run by people who lost their passion for desserts and customer service a long time ago.

Acland Cakes on Urbanspoon

On a different day, we visited the Queen Victoria Market.  The market has the distinction of being the largest market in the southern hemisphere.  


The market has rows upon rows of household items, clothing, shoes, jewellery, etc. 


Produce

Meats


We stopped in the food court for lunch.


and got some famous jam donuts for dessert


After the market, we quickly made our way back downtown to go watch an Aussie Rules football game.  Melbourne is the hub of Aussie Rules, which is actually more popular in Australia than is rugby.  Thankfully, we were with fans of the sport who could explain how the game is played.

We watched a big game between the Richmond Tigers vs Essendon.  The guys we were with were cheering for (or as they say in Australia, barracking for) the Tigers.  The atmosphere was great, with somewhere around 80,000 spectators.


In the end, the Tigers won and their theme song was played:




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