September 21, 2014

Liquid Lunch: Pina Colada

20140921PinaColada.jpgFresh pineapple (with core! I was skeptical but it was fine!), coconut rum (not a lot, it's kinda gross) and ice in the Vitamix. No garnish cuz I'm lazy.

Posted by JAY at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2014

Herbs


I'm growing herbs in a pot on my deck. Unfortunately, a chipmunk has been digging it up, raiding the cilantro seeds! Grr.

Posted by JAY at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2014

Anova Sous Vide


My newest kitchen toy is a sous vide immersion circulator. It can cook things underwater/vacuum at very specific temperatures, which is especially good for slow cooking protein for long periods - allowing tough cuts to be cooked to rare temperatures while still being very tender.

While prices have become drastically lower, associated purchases (a vacuum sealer, Cambro vessels) have kind of elevated it.

Posted by JAY at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2013

Figs and Cheese


Figs from Costco, Manchego, Parmigianno, Cheddar.

Posted by JAY at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2013

Fancy Fruit

20130702RanierCherriesBlackVelvet.jpg
Costco has these premium fruit varieties. They're a bit expensive, but usually worth it. Rainier cherries and black velvet apricots. Having mobile internet encourages me to buy this sort of thing because I can look them up and see if I think they'll be worth it.

Posted by JAY at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2012

Recipe: Simple Carrots


It's a crappy pic, but this is one of my favorite 'recipes' for carrots, from Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck restaurant. Peeled, dry chopped carrots in a pan with a knob of butter. Cook covered on medium high until tender, shaking occasionally. The carrot flavor intensifies and the richness of the butter seeps in. You get some nice caramelization on the carrots too. Dress with some parsley or add some chili pepper at the beginning.

Posted by JAY at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2012

The Yorkshires Popped


The yorkshires popped nicely this year. The simple recipe: 1 cup each of eggs, flour and milk - doubled for 12 double-size yorkshires. Cook at 450F for 10 minutes in hot pans with fat, then reduce to 350F till done. ATK suggests poking holes in them so that they don't collapse... seemed to work this time.

Posted by JAY at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2011

Mango Smoothie


Still playing with the blender. I bought berries as well.

Posted by JAY at 07:08 PM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2011

Pie Baking Tips

When making apple pie, there are 3 tips that are often left out of most recipes.
  1. Bake on the lowest rack to ensure the bottom crust bakes crisp. (If you're confident in your bakeware, you can even use a pizza stone. Try to have borosilicate glass pie plates.)
  2. The pie is done when the filling starts to bubble. Anything less and you risk uncooked apples and uncooked thickener paste - slip a tray under it toward the end of cooking to catch the drips
  3. You MUST let the pie cool for at least 3 hours. The filling needs to cool to gel, or itll run all over the place. If you want to re-warm it after that, you can.
Posted by JAY at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2011

Snack: Wings


This IS why I'm fat - chicken wings lightly dusted in cornstarch before frying. I didn't use enough spice or cornstarch so these were a bit sub par. But even sub par chicken wings are pretty awesome as long as they're not dry.

Posted by JAY at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2011

Dinner: Veggie and Pork Stirfry


Parents dropped off some roasted crispy-skin pork from the chinese bbq. It's totally fattening but tastes wonderful. I've stirfried it with veg to make it a bit healthier but it tastes best on rice so there's a bunch of carbs too. I had two plates of this!

Posted by JAY at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2011

Dinner: Eggplant and Chicken


This is not quite why I'm fat. I love japanese eggplant, but it can soak up oil like a sponge. Cooking it in a hot non-stick pan solves a lot of that. A simple sauce of chinese oyster sauce thinned out with some water and chilli flakes makes for a good meal. I cannot bring myself to take the skin off chicken, though.

Posted by JAY at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2011

Dinner: Soup


This is not why I'm fat. This soup rocked. Whole chickens were on sale (you're going to see a lot of chicken) and none of it goes to waste. The carcass was used to make the broth, which also boiled the shrimp shells. Lightly velveted breast (tossed with a bit of corn starch) and shrimp was barely poached - perfectly tender.

Posted by JAY at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2011

Good Meat, Bad Meat


One of the questions I sometimes get asked is how to pick a good steak. Well, here's a visual aid (click to enlarge). On the left, lean value-priced strip loins. On the right, prime strip loin, streaked with fat of perfect thickness to melt into the meat gradually as it cooks. It's a fair bit more expensive, but occasionally you'll see it - buy it when you do!
This is why I'm fat.

Posted by JAY at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2010

Revised Recipe: Apple Pie

Revising the apple pie recipe... I've replaced the crust with a half recipe vodka crust that's entirely done in the food processor. Jen's been baking up a storm with her new food processor and wanted a more coherent recipe. I've replaced the crust and adjusted the temperatures.

Read on for the recipe (pastry and filling)...


Pastry (1 double pie crust)

In a food processor, pulse a few times:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour (you'll need more flour later)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Add:


  • 1/2 cup of chilled vegetable shortening, cubed in large chunks

Process for 15 seconds until It looks like coarse sand.

Add:


  • 1.5 sticks (3/4 cups) of chilled unsalted butter , sliced into 1/4" slices (mine are usually slightly frozen)
  • 1 cup of flour (yes, another one)

and pulse in 1 second bursts until the butter is in pea size, or slightly larger pieces. Hopefully, it'll look like the second picture, but don't stress it if it doesn't. The pic is from the last recipe. If it's all clumped up, break it up a bit with a spatula.

Finally, with the food processor pulsing rapidly, pour the liquid slowly through the feed tube:


  • 1/4 cup of freezing water, mixed with
  • 1/4 cup of vodka from the freezer

Don't stress it, you can't really screw it up.

Pour it out into a large bowl, split into two piles and press into 2 pieces.
This dough will be very wet, and pretty sticky compared to traditional dough. Feel free to flour your hands thoroughly to handle it. And don't worry, the flour will absorb the extra water as it chills.
Form into discs, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least an hour, preferably 2 or more.

Likely, you'll end up with non-equal pieces.
Use the bigger ones for the bottom crust and the smaller ones for the top.

Apple Mix
In a large bowl, mix:

  • 3 lbs (small bag) of Spartan apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used demerara, cortlands or granny smiths and golden delicious are also fine)
  • 3/4 cups of brown sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (if you have it, sometimes I don't)
  • grated nutmeg to taste
  • cinnamon to taste (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

Eat a couple pieces of apple to test the seasoning and adjust as necessary. The apples will taste pretty good - don't eat too many! There's a generous amount of apples here - if you're using a smaller pie plate, set some apples aside before the next step. If you need them, you can always add them back on top of the pie before covering. Once you're satisfied with the taste, sprinkle and toss with:

  • 3 tablespoons flour

Assembly
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with the rack on the middle bottom row and a rack on the bottom row.

Take the larger balls of pastry and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper, flouring liberally and flipping to roll on both sides. Rotate the entire package as you're rolling, and roll in a circular motion. The idea is to not overwork any one part of the dough. Keep adding flour as you turn/flip. If it's too hard, wait a couple of minutes for it to warm slightly.
If it splits around the edges, just fix it with your fingers.

It should be about 3 inches bigger than the diameter of the pie pan.
I used a 9 inch pan.

Wrap the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll it into the pie pan, or use the parchment paper to flip it into place. Once you arrange it in the pan (try not to stretch it into place) it should overlap the edge by about 1/2 inch or more.

Roll the top piece of pastry to about 1 inch larger than the diameter of the pan.

Fill the bottom crust with apple mixture.

Use the roller or parchment to transfer the top crust onto the pie.

Fold the top crust under the bottom crust and firmly crimp/flute the edges together with your thumbs.
Trim the edge of the pan with a knife if you want to (I didn't bother).

Brush the top with a bit of

  • beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • sprinkle with sugar

Cut vents in the top crust with a knife to let out steam, or prick many times with a fork.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400F and put the pie on the upper rack (on the bottom middle)
Bake for about 45 minutes. This is to really set and puff the pastry. If you're using a glass pan, you should see the bottom of the crust start to turn golden.

Then reduce the oven temperature to 375F and put a tray on the bottom rack to catch any overflow. Bake for another half an hour, or until the juices from the pie are bubbling stickily through the vents.

If the edges of the crust start to darken too fast, cover them with a ring of aluminum foil.

Let cool on a rack for 1 hour before eating. It'll still be warm, but the natural pectin and flour need some time to set..

Posted by JAY at 11:54 PM

October 18, 2009

Princess Cake


Princess cake is a Swedish dessert. It's layers of cake with pastry cream and whipped cream, topped with green marzipan. Melanie had made them in the past working in a bakery but never gotten to taste it. So we decided to make one, using a recipe from Martha Stewart. Ours ended up looking a bit more like the homemade attempts than the Martha Stewart version :) More pix and text after the jump.


First, I didn't mix the genoise for the cake base enough. Martha's recipe bakes the cakes in 2 sheet pans, meaning that they kind of get different levels of heat in the oven. Next time, I think I'll just use cake pans and make thicker cakes. Luckily, once drenched in simple syrup, any textural inconsistencies were undetectable. And the ground almonds in the batter were tasty and added some good texture.

Jen came over and we had a nice dessert session. I took some leftovers to the parents who liked it too. The problem with it is that the relatively tough marzipan coating over the ultra soft whipped cream makes it pretty impossible to not deform the cake when cutting it. That said, it tasted really good.

Posted by JAY at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2009

Long Slow Stew


Quick recipes are nice, but when trying to make a really good meal out of very cheap meat, low and slow is the way to go. I cut the beef, tough shanks, ox tail and blade, into large chunks so that they wouldn't disappear over the 5 hour bake in the oven. I seared them off to add flavor and sauteed with a classic mirpoix (onions, celery and carrot). Smoked paprika with other herbs added some exotic flavor. Parsley, beans and cherry tomatoes from the garden rounded out the meal.

Posted by JAY at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2009

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins


Recipezaar comes through again! This recipe for blueberry muffins turned out really really well and were yummy. Also important, they were very easy to make and used ingredients that are easy to have on hand. I'm reproducing the recipe here so that I won't lose track of it.

Awesome Blueberry Muffins

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 egg
* 1/3 cup milk
* 1 cup fresh blueberries

* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup butter, cubed
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.
Mix this with flour mixture.
Fold in blueberries.
Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping:
Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Posted by JAY at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2009

Prime Steak



For less than the price of a McDonald's combo, you can have this steak? So why do people go to McDs? I'm not sure, but I do it myself sometimes. In fairness, their current Angus Burger with Cheese and Bacon is pretty awesome. Mmmm.

Anyway, searing steak takes about the same time as the drive through, and frying some broccoli, mushrooms and rice in the pan after takes less time than the drive home. You can see the thick streaks of fat that make this a prime cut of meat - the fat is what melts into the meat and makes it super tasty and tender.


Posted by JAY at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2009

Fast Food Jacques Pテゥpin's Way


This is an ultra-fast, ultra easy way of making chicken thighs that I saw on "Fast Food My Way" (slightly adapted, because I don't remember exactly what the instructions were). Prep time is about 5 minutes and all you need is chicken, salt and pepper..

Take 4 chicken thighs with skin on and no backs attached.

On the non-skin side, use a paring knife and cut two slits along either side of the bone. This will help it cook evenly. Trim any excess fat or skin.

Season well all over with salt and pepper.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of veg oil. The skillet needs to have a lid. When the oil is hot (starting to shimmer), put the chicken thighs in, skin down.

When the chicken is sizzling nicely, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 16-18 minutes, till the temperature of the chicken is about 170F. Check half way to make sure nothing's burning (reduce the heat further if needed).

If you want to, after you remove the chicken from the pan, pour out most of the chicken fat and fry some onions, garlic and mushrooms. Deglaze with chicken stock or white wine (I use dry vermouth cuz it doesn't go bad) and any chicken juices that came out of the thighs and reduce to a sauce for the chicken.

Posted by JAY at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2009

High-Heat Roasted Chicken


This is a fast cook, especially since you can season the chicken in advance. Whole chickens were on sale this week, so I ate this a LOT. It's also really convenient because you can roast potato wedges or mushrooms along with the chicken. Melanie joined me for some chicken this week.

Recipe below:

Preheat the oven to 450F

Cut the chicken(s) in half, if it's whole.

Season generously all over and under the skin with your entire spice rack (or just salt and pepper), including:

Salt, pepper, chili flake, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, rosemary - whatever.

From here, you can toss the chicken halves in the fridge if you're not using all of them. It's actually better this way, because the salt in the rub will help retain moisture in the breast meat.

Place the chicken, skin up, in a roasting pan or cast iron pan. Try to 'spread' the leg and thigh out, because we want it to cook a bit more than the breast. You can add mushrooms or potato wedges around it, if you like, but try to remember to stir them about halfway through the cooking process. (Again, avoid crowding the leg and thigh.)

Stick it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the breast is 160F and the thigh temperature is about 170F. Let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving or cutting.

Posted by JAY at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2009

Dinner at Mel's

Melanie invited me over for a fat-filled dinner to end all fat filled dinners!

Mel wanted to try Pioneer Woman's Alfredo recipe. It was really yummy - how could it not be, with butter, cream and cheese? It was also my first time eating fresh pasta (as opposed to dried). It was very yummy, but I'm not sure I actually preferred it to my favorite dried brand (DiCecco). It was a nice change, though! I may have to try making fresh pasta myself with the food processor.

For dessert, I brought ice cream, blueberries and homemade chocolate sauce (ingredients: chocolate, heavy cream, butter...). We were SO full after!

Posted by JAY at 09:11 PM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2009

Warm Scallop Salad


I've been having a lot of salads lately. Of course, that's not going to make up for the crap I've been eating...

Bay scallops are nice and cheap, and I had a zucchini that needed eating - so I seared them off in a hot pan with olive oil and tossed it with lettuce lightly dressed with a maple-mustard vinaigrette. It was yummy and a nice light meal.

Posted by JAY at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2009

Pie Disaster/Pie Notes

This looks like a perfectly good blueberry pie, doesn't it? Well.. it's not. The filling didn't thicken and the bottom crust was soggy. Somehow I need to make sure that I read these notes before making pie. Otherwise the first pie of the season ends up being yucky.

  • Thickeners: 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour, 3 TBS corn starch or 6 TBS tapioca
  • Use the middle bottom rack
  • Do NOT put a tray under the pie to catch drips, at least until after the bottom pastry has browned
  • The filling has to be REALLY bubbling to thicken properly, especially with corn starch

Nothing could salvage the bottom crust - it's inedible. However, I managed to salvage the filling by taking a slice, then pouring the filling out of the crust and cooking it separately, then pouring it back into the crust! Of course, I'd used too much cornstarch, so now it's ultra thick. But at least it's not thin and pasty.

Posted by JAY at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2009

Making Perogies


My super awesome neighbor had me over so that her Polish mother-in-law could show me how to make the perogies that I enjoyed so much previously. Grandma doesn't speak English, so my neighbor acted as translator as we put it together. Everything was pretty simple, so I'll have to make a big batch to freeze sometime soon!

The recipe below isn't really meant to be a recipe, just notes on how things were made.

Filling:

8 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, cubed, boiled, cooled.
1 500g package of cottage cheese, the really dry kind that has been vacuum packed, salt free
1 large finely minced onion, browned in a fair amount of oil
black pepper, salt to taste

Mix with hands, crush together

Wrappers:
5 generous cups of medium low protein flour
2 tbs salt
3 tbs butter melted in 2 cups of hot water, cooled with 1/2 cup cold water

Knead together, adding flour as needed, till soft and pliable, barely sticky.
Roll out with flour as needed, loosening constantly.
Cut rounds out with a small glass, fill with a spoon and crimp well.

Boil in the potato pot with some butter and salt. Stir occasionally. ~6 minutes or till floating.
Remove, stir with a bit of oil.

Posted by JAY at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2009

Best. Cheese. Ever.

Lately, I've been randomly choosing some cheeses at the deli counter of my local grocery. I'm ashamed to admit that I've just polished off an entire wedge of La Sauvagine(PDF, site is annoyingly Flash), made by La Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf in Quebec. It is unbelievably good.

Picking it out of the store, I thought I was just getting a brie. But this is so much better. The cheese tastes distinctly like buttered mushrooms. Unlike brie, it doesn't have that slight bitter kick at the end. In general, I don't eat soft cheese rinds. The rind on this cheese is delicate and tasty - a first in my experience. In fact, the strongest mushroom flavor comes from the rind and it melts in the mouth.

I googled the cheese and found that in 2006 it won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. in 2006.

This is the best cheese I've ever had. Sadly, I'm wearing it around my waist now.

Posted by JAY at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2009

Homemade Perogies


These are authentic perogies, cooked by a genuine Polish grandmother. They're very, very precious to me, since my only source is my neighbors, who generously share. The dough is ultra tender, but still resilient. I added some parsley and lemon zest. Soooo delicious. I'm dying to learn how to make them, but Grandma doesn't live with them and doesn't speak English... so I'm not sure how that's going to happen. It's one of those recipes that shouldn't die with Grandma!

Posted by JAY at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2009

Light Cheesecake!

Inspired by Anna and Kristina's Grocery Bags, where a disbelieving chef chose a Cook's Illustrated light cheesecake over the full fat version, I set out to make it for myself! It's from this cookbook.

And wow, it was actually really really good. It was a bit of a pain to make, but worth the trouble for 1/4 the fat and 1/2 the calories - considering that I liked it better than other cheesecakes I've eaten. I fed it to some friends and they had no idea it wasn't "real" cheesecake and got compliments for it (haha and they don't hesitate when I give them something they DON'T like, the ungrateful bastards).

Several 'secrets' are involved. Yogurt cheese (made by straining yogurt overnight in cheesecloth) and drained 0% cottage cheese are emulsified in a food processor for an ultra smooth texture. I won't put the recipe here because it's kind of the cookbook's flagship recipe - totally worth the price of the book, even if you make nothing else!

Posted by JAY at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2008

Recipe: Simple Bread

Hm. I thought I had a recipe for simple bread here, but apparently not. There's focaccia. There's oil biscuits. There's artisan bread. Cinnamon buns (hm, have to edit that one). There's even roti. But no simple bread.

My dad asked me to show him how to make this the other day. So here it is. But also? Instead of making 2 loaves of bread, you can make 1 loaf of bread and 9 cinnamon buns in a 9x9" baking pan. I use a kitchenaid stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to make this bread. With a bit of practice and a can of Pam, you can just use one bowl. (But it involves holding the dough in one hand while spraying the mixing bowl.)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or more/less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon non-kosher (normal) salt

  • 2 cups of water at 120-130F
  • 3-4 cups of flour
  • small amount of oil


Stir together the first 4 dry ingredients (1C flour, yeast, sugar, salt).
Then pour in the water and stir to combine.
Stir in more flour until the mixture is thick and gloopy.
Put the mixing bowl on the machine.

Add half a cup of flour at a time, while kneading in with the dough hook.
When using the machine, start slowly (to avoid flour explosion!) then speed the machine up.

Keep adding flour until , when the mixer is going fairly fast, the dough is gathering around the hook and slapping the sides of the bowl. It should be mopping up most of the dough on the hook and almost wiping the bottom of the bowl clean (when at high speed... at low speed, it'll fall off the hook).

Basically, you're trying to achieve the above, while adding the minimum of flour. Too much flour will give you a dry bread.

Let the dough knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed.
Generously oil a bowl about twice the size of the dough ball in the machine.
With lightly floured OR oiled hands, take the dough from the mixer, form it into a ball (as much as possible) and transfer it to the oiled bowl. Then flip the dough over so that the exposed top dough is oiled.


Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to raise for 20-25 minutes. It will double in volume and be very soft. It won't bounce back if you poke it.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (NOT waxed paper) and flour lightly.
Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the sheet pan and press the air out gently and form it into a ball. Cut the dough in half and make 2 balls.

Shape the balls into oval loaf shapes.
Place them as far away from each other on the pan as you can.
Brush with oil or melted butter.
Cover lightly with saran wrap.
Let rise in a warm place for 25 minutes.
Start preheating the oven after about 15 minutes, though, to 375F! (360F with true convection)

Uncover the bread and slash the tops decoratively with a sharp knife. The slashes give room for the bread to rise without exploding at the bottom unattractively. Don't worry if the bread looks a bit flat, it'll rise in the oven.

Bake on mid-lower rack for about 30 minutes (25 convection) or until the bread reads between 205-210F internally.
Remember, water boils at about 212F - and if it all boils off, you'll have dry bread!
Posted by JAY at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2008

Chuao Truffles


Amadei Chuao is my favorite chocolate in the world. In fact, a 1kg block of it was on my wishlist and I finally found a source for it! It has a strong fruity taste that's very distinctive. However, a 1kg block is very hard to eat (though I was managing). So I wanted to melt it down into a thin wafer. While I was doing that, I thought I'd make some truffles.

Making truffles is dead easy, it's simply a thick ganache of cream and chocolate that lets the taste of the chocolate shine through. Coating them with chocolate, however, is NOT easy. Chocolate has to be tempered - otherwise, after melting, it'll harden into a grainy soft mass. Rolling them in cocoa is a simple alternative - but not as impressive, or as easy to eat. So here are my $100 truffles! Recipe below.

I also learned that I'll need a mold if I want to make really attractive, shiny, glossy bars, even with perfectly tempered chocolate. I'm still debating whether this would be worthwhile.

Chocolate Truffles

450g of chopped top quality dark chocolate
1cup of cream

Scald the cream - heat it till it's ALMOST boiling but not quite.
Pour it over the chopped chocolate.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir until smooth and glossy.
Refrigerate, covered, until set - 1 hour.
Use a melon baller to roll into balls.

Roll in cocoa powder (easy) or coat with melted chocolate (hard, below).
Store in a cool place.

Coating With Chocolate
Ok, I can't do this justice without a LOT of effort.
Here's a link that explains the process. To test the tempered chocolate, dip a spoon into the chocolate and set it aside. Within 5 minutes, it should harden into a hard smooth shell.

To coat the truffles:
Ensure the uncoated truffles are at room temperature. If they're too cold, the coating will crack.
Spoon some tempered chocolate into your palm.
Roll a truffle in your palm to coat thinly.
Put the coated truffle on some parchment paper to cool and harden.

Posted by JAY at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2008

Freeform Apple Tart

Cheap apples plus leftover pastry in the freezer = freeform tart! Because the bottom crust is so important on this kind of tart, I cooked in on an aluminum tray on the middle lower rack. It came out rustic looking but really good. A mix of Cortland and Gala apples meant that the apples kept their shape as they cooked.

Posted by JAY at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2008

Processor Pizza

Hm. Mom gave me her food processor, so I figured I'd try using it for pizza dough. I also shredded a huge block of cheese and froze it in little bags for later use.

It's MUCH faster to make pizza dough with the food processor. About 5 minutes, all told. It makes a lot less mess, too. All the flour is contained, so it can't poof everywhere. Also, the dough doesn't seem to stick to the plastic container as much as it does with the metal bowl of the stand mixer - even though sticky, you can kinda jerk out out of the bowl.

The downside? without the long kneading with the dough hook in the stand mixer, the final pizza crust isn't as elastic and chewy. So... I'm not sure if I'll keep doing it with the processor.

Posted by JAY at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2008

Recipe: No Fail Pie Crust

This pie crust recipe originally came from Cooks Illustrated. It's similar to another recipe from Alton Brown in that it uses vodka (Alton uses applejack) to replace some of the water in the recipe. The dough is fairly wet and pliable, making it easy to roll out. However, the alcohol evaporates, reducing the moisture in the crust. Alcohol also doesn't promote gluten development (ie. the tough elasticity that's so desirable in pizza dough and bread), which yields a more tender crust.

Ensure that the shortening you buy has no trans-fats (ie. "soft" partially hydrogenated oils). New formulations of shortening are made by softening FULLY hydrogenated fats by blending them with liquid fats. Fully hydrogenated fats basically act as saturated fats. They're not great for you, but they won't kill you like trans-fats.

This recipe makes one of the following (it's pretty large):
2 double crust 9 inch pies
4 single crust 9 inch pies
3 double crust 7 1/2 inch pies (my favorite)

5 cups (25 oz) all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
4 tbs sugar

3 sticks (24 tsp or 3/4 lb) cold butter, sliced into 1/4" slices
1 C (1/2 lb) cold vegetable shortening, cubed

1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cold vodka (cheap stuff, here)

Pulse/whisk together 3 cups of flour with the salt and sugar.

Add the butter and shortening. Blend for 10-15 seconds or cut in manually, till all flour is coated with fat

Add remaining 2 cups of flour and pulse to blend, or cut in. Turn out into a large bowl if using a food processor.

Sprinkle vodka and water over the mixture gradually, folding it in with a spatula and pressing it down. For bonus points, you can use a spray bottle to distribute the vodka and water evenly through the flour!

Gather together into a ball, divide into portions (see above for how many).
Shape the portions into discs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, chill for at least 1 hour.

When rolling out the pastry feel free to liberally flour the board and the dough - it's pretty wet and resilient. If it's too hard, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes. If it starts to get too soft, transfer it back to the fridge for 10 minutes.

Posted by JAY at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2008

Convection

I'm gradually learning when oven convection is beneficial and detrimental. True convection ovens, like mine, blow heated air from a fan in the back of the oven. This results in more even, faster browning and faster cooking overall.

It works well when roasting meat, yielding a much more even roast and more all-over browning of chickens. It's good when doing cookies - the circulating air helps with the large pans that obstruct the movement of heat in the oven. And it seems to do well with bread, which bakes very quickly.

However, for most baked goods, it's better to leave it off. Most recipes are not designed for convection and results are unpredictable as convection is not the same in all convection ovens. Lowering the heat by 25F is only a starting point, and bake time often has to be adjusted as well. So for cakes and pastries, it's better to leave convection off.

Recently I made a blueberry pie with convection - the upper crust browned very rapidly - the sugar sprinkled on top started to burn. Meanwhile, the bottom crust didn't have time to brown and the filling didn't cook enough to dissolve the sugar, yielding a texture that was far from ideal.

The next day I took the same pastry and berries (in fact, from the same batch - I had done a double batch of each and just used one) and baked the same recipe without convection. The difference was drastic. The top and bottom of the crusts were golden and crunchy. The middle was thoroughly cooked. Much, much better.

Posted by JAY at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2008

Recipe: Strawberry Syrup

Dom asked for the recipe for the Strawberry Syrup that I made. Though, really, it's not much of a recipe... and I usually only make it when I'm out of maple syrup. The ingredient list is simple: sugar, water, jam, lemon, berries (optional), bourbon (optional).

Quick Strawberry Syrup

In a heavy small saucepan boil
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is bubbling merrily.

Stir in a few tablespoons of strawberry jam.
Optionally stir in a teaspoon or two of bourbon or rum. (I did this with Dom.)

Take off the heat and add some grated lemon zest and add lemon juice to taste. (Taste frequently as you add drops of lemon juice so that you get it the way you want it!)

Stir in some sliced strawberries (optional ... I forgot to do it, Dom, but it'll taste better!)

Serve warm (reheat in the microwave if refrigerated).

Substitution: seedless raspberry jam would work as well if you're looking for something that looks a bit more sophisticated

Posted by JAY at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2008

Recipe: Berry Cupcakes

This berry cupcake recipe was adapted from one on recipezaar. It's really full of berries and not too sweet (for a cupcake). Very, very yummy.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tbs lemon zest (optional)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

2 cups flour (I use 1/2 cake flour)
1/2 cup milk

2 to 2 1/2 cup berries, rinsed and drained
(I used blueberries and raspberries)

Preheat oven to 375F, prepare 12 muffin tins with large foil cupcake cups.

Beat the first group of ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder) together with the paddle attachment, adding one at a time and beating well after each addition.

Alternately fold in the flour and milk with a spatula, starting and ending with flour, about a third at a time.

Sprinkle about 1 tbs of flour over the well-drained, but slightly damp berries and toss to coat. Fold them into the batter.

Divide among muffin cups and bake for 25 min.

Posted by JAY at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2008

The Tenderest Steak

If you've got a really really thick cut steak, this is an awesome way of preparing it. It's slightly more trouble, but the results are worth it - a more tender steak that's perfectly done from edge to edge (with no bands of overcooked meat on the outside). I saw the method on America's Test Kitchen.

Preheat your oven to 275F.

Rub a thick (1.5" +) rib steak or strip loin with a generous sprinkling of salt and ground black pepper. The steak doesn't have to be at room temperature, it can be straight from the fridge.

Roast the steak in the oven until the internal temperature of the steak is at 95F. By this time (about 20 minutes, depending on thickness), the steak will still look pretty raw, but the fat and connective tissues will have relaxed.

Sear the steak for a few minutes per side on a really hot grill or cast iron pan, until the desired doneness is reached (120F for rare, 125 for medium rare, 130 for for medium).

Let the steak rest loosely covered with foil for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Posted by JAY at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2008

Recipe: Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this. When the deli slices the prosciutto, insist that they put plastic wrap between each slice so that the slices stay whole. This recipe is actually fairly low in calories and fat - even though we're wrapping the chicken in ham and stuffing it with cheese! The prosciutto slices are about 40 calories each, and about 70 calories worth of cheese is going into the breasts, so it's not too bad! You can omit the cheese if you want. Note that the recipe doesn't have any salt - the cheese and ham are taking care of that. You can prepare the dish ahead of time and then bake when ready (be sure to adjust cooking time if the chicken is cold).

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
4 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese
5 thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 tablespoon black pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
mustard

Preheat the oven to 400F
Cut a slit into the chicken breast (if the tenders are still attached, you may not need to do this.
Sprinkle the seasoning all over the chicken
Brush lightly with mustard
Stuff with the cheese wedges (you can use less for small breasts)
Wrap with prosciutto, overlapping slightly. Secure with toothpicks if needed.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 160F.

Let stand loosely tented with foil for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Posted by JAY at 12:39 AM | Comments (1)

February 01, 2008

Recipe: Apple Cake Redux

This recipe makes a lot of cake with very little effort - since the apples are chopped rather than sliced, once you peel them you can just cut the chunks off the core. 5 medium-small apples suffice for the 3 cups. I used McIntoshes. The cake is a bit homely, but it's moist and tasty. The topping makes a good caramel dipping sauce for raw apples too!

It was a hit at the office, at the parents' house and at Martin and Fiona's house with Jen and Dan. (well, as in, no leftovers, anyway).

The recipe comes courtesy of Recipezaar, where really good recipes are easily found - just look for recipes rated with 5 stars and lots of reviews! I got a moister texture the first time I made it. The differences may be (moister vs drier):
olive oil instead of veg oil (olive oil is a better emulsifier)
325F with convection instead of 350F without convection
apples chopped finer vs chopped more chunky (though I like chunks of apples)

Preheat oven to 350F, or 324F with convection, middle rack.
Line a 9x13" pan with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray (or butter and flour the pan)

Whisk in large bowl:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Whisk in medium bowl:
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup apple juice

Fold the liquid mix by hand into the dry mixture until no flour remains. Don't overmix.
Pour into the baking pan and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.

Sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup whipping cream

Put it all in a small sauce pan. Heat until bubbly then pour over the slightly cooled cake.
If you're serving it immediately, you can cut the cake and pour it over the pieces. Otherwise, pour it over the whole cake and it'll help keep the cake moist as it's being stored.

Posted by JAY at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2008

Caramel Pudding

I'm on a caramel streak. I made a caramel pudding, but I think I went waaaay too strong on the caramel, it's way too powerful! On the other hand, just a tiny bit is pretty satisfying. Thinking that I should probably use it as a sauce on other desserts - it tasted pretty good on blackberries.

Posted by JAY at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2008

Recipe: Bourbon Caramel Custard


So I took the Baked Custard recipe and the Croissant Pudding recipe and mashed them together and came up with this recipe, which I like better than either. The bad news? It's FULL of fat. Oh well! I've been using bourbon a lot lately, because I'm totally out of vanilla extract.

Yields 7, 7oz ramekins (reduce cream for 6... 7 fits in my pan!)

1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar

4+ cups cream (I used 10% half and half, might be better with some whipping cream)
3 tbs bourbon (optionally, substitute rum)
4 eggs, 4 yolks (next time, I'll try 3 eggs)

Put the water and then the sugar into a 5 cup sauce pan. Heat without stirring over medium heat until the sugar is bubbling and turned a dark amber color.

Turn off the heat and whisk in 2 cups of cream. The mixture will hiss and spurt. Keep whisking until any hardened caramel is dissolved.

Add bourbon and Let stand while doing the rest.

Put a large kettle/pot of water to boil (for a bain marie).
Preheat the oven to 300F.

Put all the eggs and yolks into an 8 cup measuring bowl that pours easily. Whisk in 1 cup of cream.

Once the oven is preheated and the water is boiling, gradually whisk the caramel cream mixture into the eggs.
Top up the custard mixture with cream till it's a total of about 5 cups (just over 4 cups if you have 6 ramekins).
Strain the mixture into the cool pan and then strain again back into the pouring bowl.
Fill the ramekins.

Line a pan that's capable of holding all the ramekins with a dish cloth.
Pour the boiling water into it.
Put the ramekins into the water and put into the oven. (you can ladle out water if there's too much as you put in the custards)

Bake for about 45 minutes or until barely set (a knife inserted will come out with solid bits of custard sticking to it, rather than liquid coating it).

Ideally, cool before serving - it'll taste much creamier. (I always eat 1 or 2 though...)

Posted by JAY at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2008

Recipe: Caramel Bourbon Pudding

Mom and Dad came over for dinner today, we shared a single T-bone steak, some rice, mushrooms and carrots. However, I tried Nigella's Caramel Croissant Pudding and it was really good. However, it's noteworthy that on the Food Network site and other American sites, they incorrectly translate her 100g of sugar to 1 cup! Which would be way too much - double, actually, as 200g of sugar = 1 cup. I doubled the recipe and cooked it in an 8x2 inch cake pan. I put in 1 cup of sugar, correcting the amount, and it was still plenty sweet and very enjoyable. I might cut back just a tad on the bourbon next time though - it's pretty strong.

(doubled, cuz that's how I'm likely to make it!)
4 stale croissants (I just put fresh ones in the oven for a little)

200g caster sugar (1 cup)

4 tbsp water

1 cup double cream

1 cup full-fat milk

(I substituted half and half cream for both milk and cream)

4 tbsp bourbon (will reduce to 3 next time)

4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350F (I used 325 with convection).

Tear up the croissants into pieces and put them into a buttered pan.

Put the water, then sugar, into a sauce pan that holds at least 3 cups. Do not stir, and boil until it turns deep amber.

Add cream and whisk till dissolved (it'll sputter). Add the milk and bourbon and keep whisking.

Add the eggs while whisking.

Pour over the croissants, let steep for 10 min, then bake for 20 min.

Posted by JAY at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2008

Recipe: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Nothing beats this from a taste to trouble ratio - it's really, really easy and tastes really, really good. A combination of swiss and cheddar cheese gives a good balance of salt, flavour and texture. I made the bread yesterday and it was ideal for this - light and airy. A panini press or electric grill would probably do a good job too.

Ingredients:

Slices of bread
2 tbs butter, melted (add a tiny bit of salt if it's unsalted, till you can barely tasted it)
Swiss cheese sliced to cover
Cheddar cheese sliced to cover (use more swiss if you used salted butter)

Heat a grill pan over high heat until very hot, then turn down. (alternatively heat grill/press)

Brush melted butter lightly on the outside of the slices of bread.

Fill the inside (unbuttered side) with 3 layers of thinly sliced cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper (or chili flakes if you like hot stuff!).

Put it on the grill pan - it should sizzle lightly. Weight it down with a cake pan containing a can, to press it into the grill. Cook for about 4 minutes until there are good grill marks on the bread.

Flip with a spatula and replace the cake pan and weight. Grill until cheese is melted and grill marks are visible on the bread.

Posted by JAY at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2008

Lobster Flambee


This was the second lobster of the week - it was a big two pounder! Also, I killed it myself, and if you don't want pictures, don't click the link below! I cooked it according to a recipe on America's Test Kitchen (click the Flambeed Lobster link for video). Sadly, after a LOT of work and a 30 dollar bottle of bourbon, this lobster didn't taste all that good. I prefer it steamed from the store - which happily, is a lot easier too.

To the left is the lobster still alive, above the ingredients that it'll be cooked with!

Unlike the ATK recipe, I put my lobster in the freezer for about 15 minutes to knock it out before knifing it, so there weren't a lot of death throes as it was brutally knifed in half. This is actually supposed to be the most humane way to do it, unless you talk to PETA, who will be glad to recommend you go vegetarian. It was surprisingly difficult and exhilarating (I sorta pride myself on being rational) to kill the food that I was going to eat, and probably this was the most exciting part of the recipe - cuz it didn't taste that good.

And here's the finished dish, which looks pretty good (better than the one in the video at ATK, I think) but didn't taste all that great. I don't think I like the taste of bourbon. The flambee was impressive, though! Lotsa fire!

Posted by JAY at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2007

Crystallization

So I finally found out what sugar crystallization means - I made a batch of caramel popcorn to take to Jen and Dan's house the other night and the only nuts that I had handy were some honey roasted peanuts. So I used them and a crystallization reaction spread quickly throughout the caramel. Instead of being brittle and glassy, like it should, the whole thing turned into a mass of grainy sugar. The sugar crystals on the peanuts must've caused the reaction.

Posted by JAY at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2007

Best Hot Cocoa

This is a BIT more involved than just using Quik, but still can be done in a few minutes. Using a simple syrup means that you don't get nasty undissolved sugar.

2 cups water
6 TBS sugar
2 TBS cocoa (more to taste)
Cream to taste (half and half, table cream or whipping cream)
hazelnut liquor (optional)

Put the sugar and water in a pan and simmer/boil until the sugar is dissolved. This converts the sugar to 'invert sugar' which won't crystallize.

Taste the mixture. If it's too sweet for you, add more water and heat till hot (remember you want it a bit on the sweet side, because cocoa is slightly bitter).

Whisk in the cocoa. Don't add too much, because you don't want it gritty.
Then whisk in cream (about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup, not less than a tablespoon) to taste.
Heat through (especially if you added a lot of cold cream) but keep it under a simmer.

Put liquor into 2 mugs (hey, as much as you like, but a tablespoon or 2 would do) and then pour the hot cocoa over it.

Posted by JAY at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2007

Recipe: Focaccia


This is the lunch that wasn't... the invited parties cancelled last minute. So that's why it's vegetarian. The focaccia, recipe adapted from RecipeZaar) was really, really good. So was the eggplant (grill marks courtesy of my grill pan) and roasted bell peppers. And of course, roasted garlic is ALWAYS good.

Edit: removed the garlic, adjusted temperature, corrected amt of olive oil in dough.

Recipe follows

1 3/4C water, at 135F (hot, but not burning, to the touch)
1tbs instant yeast
1tbs sugar
4-4 1/2C all-purpose flour (I used hard bread flour this time)
1tsp salt
olive oil
2tbs fresh rosemary, minced (half that if dried)
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Mix the yeast, water, sugar, salt and 1 cup of flour in the mixing bowl.

Add the water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix with a spatula.

While stirring/kneading (with the Kitchenaid), gradually add 3 cups of flour.

Add more flour gradually if required to make the dough wipe the sides of the bowl.

Let rest for 5 minutes.

Knead again for about 5-10 minutes, until smooth.

Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl and flip it so that all sides are oiled.

Let rise, covered for about 1/2 hour till doubled in size.

Knead down, let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Press out into a parchment lined half-sheet pan and brush with olive oil.

Let rise for about 20-30 minutes in a warm place, till doubled in volume.

With greased fingers, deeply press dimples into the dough's surface (almost all of the way through)

Sprinkle the rosemary over the surface, drizzle with more olive oil (really, the more the better, within reason).

Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in a 350F-375F oven for 30-40 minutes, till golden.
(I used 325F with convection for 35 min.)
Internal temperature of bread should read about 200 degrees F.

Cool on rack for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Posted by JAY at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)

August 25, 2007

Recipe: Carrot Cake


I wanted cake and had some carrots getting old in the fridge. So I made carrot cake. This is a convenient cake because most times I have the ingredients on hand. I looked it up on the Fine Cooking website. I didn't have regular olive oil, so I used half extra virgin olive oil and half veg. Also, using the convection oven, I reduced the heat to 325F, which still baked the cake at the lower end of the time listed. (This explains why my cakes have been a bit dry lately...)

Preheat oven to 350F

Cake:
In the mixing bowl, mix:
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl whisk:
9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. grated nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a bowl whisk:
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Alternately add the flour and eggs to the mixer and mix.

Stir in
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional, I don't like nuts in cake)
1/4 cup dark rum

Prepare two 9" round cake pans by oiling them and lining them with oiled round parchment paper.

Divide the cake among the pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, till a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
Paddle in the mixer:
Two 8-oz. packages cream cheese, somewhat softened
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs. grated orange zest
1/2 cup heavy cream

I didn't have honey, so I just used icing sugar. I also used regular cream and reduced the amount.

Posted by JAY at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2007

Steak Dinner


I didn't plan on taking a pic of this, but it was really yummy so... that's why it's messy. I lucked out and got a beautifully marbled ribeye steak from the grocery. I fried it and a whole bunch of veggies that I have to use out (peppers, green onions, avocado). I also bought a whole bunch of fruit - a case of mangos, a basket of peaches and a couple of packages of raspberries. There were some good sales on them, so even though I'm not much of a fruit person...

Posted by JAY at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2007

Found Noodles


This dish was made solely with ingredients that my mom dropped off:
Some rice noodles that my father bought by accident (they usually buy chow mein noodles)
Celery and Carrots (Mom split them with me)
Leftover roast pork
Mushrooms that were on sale
Herbs from the garden

It was pretty good. I still have 3 more packs of the noodles, though!

Posted by JAY at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2007

Solo Sushi-ya

Hmm, Jen says that Solo Sushi-ya in Newmarket is reputed to be one of the best sushi restaurants in the GTA! I go by there every day on the way to work - it looks like a little dive and I always wondered how well it was doing - though it's been there for a long time now. The online reviews seem to bear her out...

Chowhound.com
Toronto.com (search Solo)
Chefmoz.org
Restaurantica 1
Restaurantica 2 (search Solo)


Google turned up a lot of terse, but positive reviews. I'll have to try the omakase sometime!

Jen's going to go there with her family for her birthday - her father is Japanese so they have a translator in the family!

Posted by JAY at 12:27 AM | Comments (5)

June 28, 2007

Recipe: New Lemon Bars


This recipe for Lemon Bars is better than the first one - I like the consistency of the lemon topping better. My second batch turned out better than my first batch (though both were fine). Thanks co-workers, for being my beta testers! :-) Baking the crust longer with convection resulted in a crisper bottom which can be used for other toppings too. I only decorated these three.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
7oz / 14 TBS / 0.9 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
9.5oz / 2 cups + 2 tbs flour

Mix it all together and press it into a parchment lined 13x9" pan and prick with fork all over.
Freeze it for 10 minutes.
Bake in a 325F oven for at least 30 min until golden.

Topping:
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tbs flour
pinch salt
3/4 cup lemon juice (4 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons, use rasp

Whisk all of the above together.
Pour it onto the hot crust.
Put it into the oven and raise the heat to 350F (no convection)
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the topping is pretty set in the centre (doesn't wiggle much).
Cool for at least 1 hour on a rack before lifting it out and cutting into squares.

Fine Cooking/Dec 2006/Nicole Rees

Posted by JAY at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Dinner tonight was pasta with fried chicken. The pasta had fresh herbs from the garden (basil, rosemary, parsley) and the chicken was marinated in buttermilk and double dredged in seasoned flour. It was very yummy (and very fattening, I imagine).

Posted by JAY at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

Chocolate


Last month, fully one quarter of my "Fun" budget went towards chocolate! Youch. There's a chocolate shop close to where I work and I've been passing in a couple times a week to try the high quality, high percentage chocolates. So far, my favorite is the Amadei Chuao - but at $10 for a 50g bar, it's very expensive. Unfortunately, the store seems to have run out. The other one that I currently like is Valrhona's Guajana (not pictured) and it's a bit more affordable. Still, if you're going to be splurging on something, what's an extra couple of bucks? Anyway, I can't afford to continue on like I have been, but once I've got my favorites I can concentrate on them!

Posted by JAY at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Grilled Food

I wasn't up to cooking anything complicated today. So I just grilled a bunch of stuff on the stovetop with basically just salt and pepper (and some leftover rice) It was really good. However, I found out that if you eat a pound of grilled asparagus, your urine smells very strongly like water that you've boiled brocolli in!

Posted by JAY at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2007

Practising Pizza


I've been practising making pizza and think I've got it down pretty well now. I make everything from scratch except for the pizza sauce - that starts with a can of crushed tomatos. The dough is a pretty standard yeast dough. The hard part is getting the right texture for the crust. I've found that the best way of simulating a pizza stone oven is to heat up cast iron pots and grills over the stove and assemble the pizzas on them before putting them in the oven.

Another option that I saw on TV today was to use a splatter screen to bake on. Since the bottom is open, the heat can get straight to the underside and crisp it up. But I only have one splatter screen and it isn't oven proof.

Posted by JAY at 07:20 PM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2007

Fried Rice


Fried rice has an alarming amount of oil in it. It's best made with day old rice (something about the way the starch sets and doesn't turn to mush, like fresh rice would). Anyway, this is rice fried up with bay scallops and veggies. It was yummy, and I ate it all.

Posted by JAY at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

Chow Mein


Mmm, noodles. They're nice and fast to make and easy. You simply pour hot water through the noodles and loosen them up. The extra firm tofu is marinated in a mix of soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Then, they're fried in a really, really hot wok to get a nice textured sear. I thought that I could do a tofu steak like this and made one for Dan, but tasting it afterward (sorry, Dan, should've tasted it before!) it was too salty to have that much at once.

Posted by JAY at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2007

Recipe: Chili Chicken Avocado Salad


After yesterday's really heavy meal, I'm eating lighter today. Plus I had some avocados that needed eating. The coolness of the avocados is perfect to moderate spicy chicken! Really, you can toss anything into this, it starts with a lemon vinaigrette that's not too acidic but very lemony. This doesn't take too long to make, maybe 15 minutes depending on how fast you chop!

Dressing:
1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper
1/4 tsp mustard
1-2 tbs sugar

2 avocados, peel at last moment (see below)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped, seeds removed
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup mozzerella cheese chopped or grated coarsely

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
chili, salt, pepper

With a rasp, zest the lemon zest into a large glass bowl.
Then, slice of the top 1/3 of the lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Remove any seeds!
Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until thickened slightly.
Use more sugar depending on how acidic the lemon was or if you're serving to kids.

Peel and chop the avocados. I like to chop into slices and then remove skin, but you can use the big spoon scoop method if you like. Toss the avocado immediately in the dressing so that they don't discolor. Then, toss the rest of the ingredients in. A silicone spatula is great for gently lifting the dressing from the bottom of the bowl - you want to avoid breaking up the avocado.

Set the salad aside.

Put a heavy non-stick skillet to preheat over a medium high flame.
Slice the chicken thighs into strips.
Salt and pepper well and sprinkle with a good amount of chili powder.
Put a little bit of oil into the pan and add the chicken strips.
Don't stir, let the chicken get all nicely browned (4-6 min), then stir/toss to cook the other side the same way.
The nice thing about the thighs is that they won't overcook and become dry.

Serves 4 as appetizer, 2 as a main.

Posted by JAY at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

Recipe: Oil Biscuits

Dom's mother made these hard, fennel flavored biscuits and they go wonderfully dunked in hot soup. I asked Dom to get the recipe for me and he went and watched while his mom made a batch of them and made notes (his mom doesn't use a recipe). Thanks for taking all that trouble Dom!

I've had the recipe for a long time, waiting to try it. These turned out really well. When using for soup dunking, they're best a couple of days old and then microwaved for about 15 seconds on high. Then they're satisfyingly chewy. I've really cut down the proportions of the mammoth batch that Dom's mom makes and quantified things a bit (Dom's instructions: Proof/Roll out/Proof). I don't usually put fat in my bread, but it does give the dough a beautiful smooth texture. These freeze well wrapped in foil.

2-3 cups flour
1 cup water
1 tsp fennel seeds/anise seeds (go lighter if you use anise)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tbs instant yeast
2 tbs olive oil

Whisk together 1 cup of flour, the salt, the sugar and the yeast.

Heat the water to 130F. Stir in the oil and then stir the liquid into the flour mixture.
Stirr in the fennel seeds (I gave them a bit of a pound with the mortar and pestle first.)

Knead with dough hook (or by hand) adding more flour until you have a smooth dough.

Let rise in an oiled bowl covered with saran and let rise until doubled in height (about 1/2 - 1 hour).

Punch down, knead and then shape into rings (cut into balls, poke a hole with a finger and then spin). You want the holes fairly large because they'll close a bit when they rise.

Put the rings on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise until almost doubled in size (about 1/2 hour).

Bake the biscuits in a preheated 350F oven for 20-30 minutes. If you'd like them to be a bit harder, you can turn the oven off and leave them in a bit longer (maybe take them off the tray and let them rest on the oven rack).

Posted by JAY at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2007

Baked Custard

Custard is really easy! Just 10 minutes to make and everything is very divisible so that you can easily adjust the recipe to make the amount you want. I didn't have any ramekins, so I just used coffee cups. I replaced about 1/2 cup of milk with whipping cream and put in an extra yolk for every egg. The thing is, the mix has to be thick enough to suspend the egg throughout and rich enough to not curdle.

For every 2 custards (usually I make 6):
1 egg (got extra yolks hanging around? toss em in too!)
2 TBS sugar (or more, if you'd like a sweeter custard, around 1/2 C per 3 eggs)
1 cup whole milk (higher fat, the better! mix some cream in, if you have any)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Revised for 6 custards:
4 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 C sugar
1.5 tbs vanilla extract
3 C milk/cream, warm (fill to just over 4 cups total volume)

Preheat oven to 300F
Simmer a large pot of water
Slowly whisk the ingredients together in the order they appear.
Strain the mixture into small heatproof bowls (ramekins)
Put a large dish that can fit all the custards in the oven.
Arrange the custards in the dish and pour the hot water around them.

Bake for about 1/2 hours or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Alternatively, the internal temperature should be around 160-165F

Posted by JAY at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2007

Panfried Perogies


I got a new non-stick pan - it's from Paderno's Catering Line. It's thick cast aluminum with Dupont's Platinum Teflon coating (Dupont makes different grades of its nonstick coating). I got it at a factory sale for $25 - a good deal when it retails for almost $100. Aluminum is a great conductor, unlike stainless steel, so you get nice even heat - but it's reactive, so you don't really want to cook in it. With the non-stick coating, though, it's great - both light and even heat. It has a long stainless steel handle riveted to the pan with a removable silicone grip. It's great for jobs like this where the pan fried items would ordinarily stick to the pan - bacon and boiled perogies, along with green onions, garlic, onions and tomato.

Posted by JAY at 01:19 AM | Comments (2)

January 09, 2007

Veal Braise


This is very easy, but takes a long time to cook. The veal, however, is fall-off-the-bone tender. It's a simplified version of osso buco (recipe), but I used veal short ribs instead of shanks. I served it up over some boiled perogies and it was very yummy.

Posted by JAY at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2007

15 Minute Meal: Shrimp Pasta Alfredo

This is an instant meal that's very fast to make! I don't have a pic, because I ate it all :( Use real parmesan here, it's the main flavoring. Expensive, but worth it. If you MUST use cheaper stuff, use more.

Cook pasta according to directions, but undercook it by 3 minutes.

While the pasta boils, make the sauce.
1 C half-and-half cream
1 C finely grated parmegianno reggiano (use a microplane rasp)
salt and pepper
optional but traditional: nutmeg, pinch
optional: 10 or so shrimp, peeled
optional: crushed garlic

If you have time, you can heat the shrimp shells in the cream and then strain them out for more flavor.
Heat the cream till very hot, but not boiling
Gradually stir in the grated cheese
Grate in some nutmeg (again with the rasp)
Add shrimp about 4 minutes before ready to cook
Salt and pepper to taste

Take the hot, drained, undercooked pasta and pour the sauce over it, stirring over low heat. The idea here is that the undercooked pasta will finish cooking in the sauce and suck up some flavor and thicken the sauce. So no need for thickeners! If you want it slightly thicker, you can let it stand off heat for a few more minutes.

It just doesn't get much easier than this!
You can keep leftover sauce and toss it with fresh pasta, reheating in the pasta pot.
Leftover pasta isn't very nice... just toss that.

Posted by JAY at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2006

Crumbling Resistance


Trev and Rucell gave me a bunch of apples that needed to be used fast. Dominion had a special on blueberries (still expensive, but they looked good). Mom dropped off some oatmeal she didn't want. Hence: apple-blueberry crumble. I don't know how this will taste... I didn't have a recipe and there are always so many variables - how sweet the fruit is, how juicy or dry it is, how much thickener (corn starch in this case) to use... It looks good, we'll see how it tastes.

Update: It tastes good! Yay! The fruit is perfect. The crumble could be a bit harder maybe - more butter next time.

Posted by JAY at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2006

Fried Wings w. Blue Cheese Sauce


So I wanted to test out the deep fryer... well, actually, I used it last night too to make shrimp chips with peanut sauce. Anyway, these were really good. Basically, the wings were marinated in a mix of soy sauce, chili powder, thyme, garlic, black pepper, oregano and a bit of oyster sauce. Then, they were tossed with cornstarch and fried in 350 degree vegetable oil. Below is the simple recipe for blue cheese sauce.

Blue Cheese Sauce

Danish Blue Cheese (size of a deck of cards)
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup cream or milk
Black Pepper
Cottage cheese (optional)

Blend all of the above together with an immersion blender.

If you want a salad dressing, just add more cream to thin it out.

Posted by JAY at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

Pancake Breakfast


I had a HUGE breakfast this morning. The bacon was done in the oven under the broiler which is a nice, no fuss way of doing it. I poached some fresh pear slices in maple syrup for the sauce. I ate ALL of these. I don't think I've put the pancake recipe here. The pancakes that this recipe makes are kind of a cross between crepes and pancakes - they're flexible enough to roll. This it's kind of inaccurate but very quick and easy..

Pancakes (serves 2)

Whisk together in order:
1 egg
2 TBS sugar (adjust to taste... I like them a bit sweet so I tend to use more)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS salted butter, melted, not hot
1 1/2 cup milk

Mix of:
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour (approximately)

Gently whisk the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
Add more flour until the batter leaves a soft ribbon when you drizzle it from your whisk back into the bowl.
You can add flour or milk to get the consistency you want, even while cooking.

Thicker batter will yield thicker, cakier pancakes.
Thinner batter can be spread into a circle by tilting the pan, making a thinner, more flexible pancake.

Heat a heavy seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet. Wipe the skillet with some melted butter or oil, using the paper towel to absorb any excess. When the pan is quite hot, pour batter into the pan. Tilting the pan by lifting by the handle, let the batter spread into a round shape.

Cook until there are a lot of bubbles coming up. Then flip and cook until done.
There's no need to re-oil the pan between pancakes.
Stack the finished pancakes on a plate in a warm oven.

It's not uncommon for the first pancake to not turn out nicely browned.
This is usually because either there is too much grease in the pan (the first pancake will mop it up) or the pan is not yet hot enough.

Posted by JAY at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Lunch with Jen & Dan (Recipe: Top Sirloin with Pan Sauce)


Jen, Dan and little Naomi came over for lunch today. It tasted really good - I roasted potatoes, onions, garlic and spicy sausage in olive oil. Dan (cuz he's a picky meat eater!) had a very 'sanitized' cube of grilled chicken breast. Jen and I shared a large-ish steak. I liked the pan gravy, so I'm just going to jot down some notes on the recipe below.

The steak was also good, and it was a reasonably inexpensive cut - top sirloin. The thing with top sirloin is that it can be a bit chewy if it's not cooked to at least medium-rare. I prefer rare, but with this steak medium-rare to medium is where you want to be. (The pic of the steak came later, with another meal.)

Naomi had strawberries for the first time and seemed to really, really like them. She kept demanding more! She also found the beanbag chair and upholstered ottoman interesting. She also tried the piano. They also brought me some foaming hand soap that's really neat - I've been washing my hands more than strictly necessary to play with the pump.

Recipe follows..

Sirloin Steak with Pan Gravy

1 top sirloin steak, 1 1/4 inches thick, at room temperature
1 TBS butter
1 TBS mustard
1 shallot (can substitute 1/2 onion and a clove of garlic)
2 TBS wine (white or red, dry)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a pan until it's smoking hot.
Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper.
Fry the steak on high for about 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness.
Don't move the steak around or lift it until you're ready to flip.
Flip the steak with tongs.
Lower the heat to medium.
Cook until the inside of the steak reads about 125-135 degrees F.

Put the steak on a warm plate, cover with aluminium foil.

Add the butter and the shallots to the pan (if using onion and garlic, don't add the garlic until just before the wine)
Saute the shallots and scrape up the brown bits in the pan.
Add the mustard.
Add the wine and scape up the brown bits with the liquid.
Add 1/2 the chicken broth and any juices that leaked out of the steak into the plate.
Reduce to evaporate water until the sauce is syrupy. Add chicken stock as needed.
Add cream.
Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour over the sliced steak.

Posted by JAY at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

November 07, 2006

Seasoning Cast Iron

Cast iron is one of the best surfaces to sear things on. I was doing without cast iron, but then I stole a pan from my parents and made the best steak ever. Then Superstore had cast iron pans on sale for just $7. However, cast iron needs seasoning before it can be used, to seal the surface with a tough, stick resistant coating. The longer you use the pan, the more seasoned it gets. Eventually it takes on a smooth black patina.

So here you can see the 3 stages. The ancient pan in the back is a perfectly age seasoned cast iron 10" pan that my parents got in a garage sale a long time ago. At the bottom right is a new, unseasoned pan that has a rough grey surface. To the right is the pan that I've seasoned in the oven. It's not as good as the old pan, but it suffices. For seasoning instructions, read below.


Seasoning instructions:

1) Wash down the pan with hot water, soap and a stiff brush. Then bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least 1/2 an hour to make sure all moisture has been eliminated. This step is to remove any manufacturing chemicals that may still be on the pan.

2) Wipe a very thin layer of vegetable oil over the entire interior surface of the pan.
Bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least an hour. The oil will darken and turn deep brown.

3) Repeat step 2 over and over... the more you do it, the better the seasoning. You can also season the exterior of the pan to inhibit rust.

Maintenance: Don't wash the pan with soap. Just use hot water and a scrubbing brush if there's stuff stuck to it. Heat it over the stove to evaporate any moisture and rub with a thin layer of oil to prevent rust.

Posted by JAY at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)

Recipe: Simplifried Wings


This is the simplest frying method ever. Vary the spices for a more asian feel if you want (use 5 spice powder and dried ginger in the mix). Dredge chicken wings (about 12) in the following mixture and fry them in enough oil to cover them (do it in 2 batches if you want).

3 TBS corn starch
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tsp black pepper

Salt them again as they come out of the hot oil.

Posted by JAY at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2006

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Cloves

These are an awesome addition to any roasted meal. (Recipe for Quick Cook: Everything Roasted) You can add these to any high heat roasted dish. This "Everything Roasted" meal was chicken, hot sausages, sweet sausages, onions, broccolli and carrots.

All you do is cut the stem end off of the unpeeled cloves of garlic. Toss with olive oil and salt and add to the roasting pan. (If there's oil and salt in the recipe, just toss them with the rest of the stuff.) The cloves will turn golden mushy brown inside their papery skins. While you're eating, just squeeze them out with your fork onto your plate. Or just squeeze them with your fingers into your mouth. The roasted garlic flavor will be buttery, mild and sweet! A rustic tasty touch.

Posted by JAY at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2006

Recipe: Carioka

Rucell showed me how to make carioka today. It's a deep fried Philippino sweet made out of coconut and rice flour, dunked in syrup. Yummy! :) The recipe is a bit vague on the proportions (we didn't measure anything). It makes a lot... halving this recipe might be a good thing.

Syrup:
Brown sugar (1 cup?)
Water (1/2 cup?)
Set it to boil until bubbling rapidly and slightly thickened

Carioka:
1 lb sweet rice flour (Mochiko brand)
1/2 lb glutinous rice flour (optionally, just use more Mochiko)

Stir in a small amount of liquid (milk, water, coconut milk)
Mixture should be pretty dry, not even a paste, you can add more liquid later.

Stir in:
2 bags(1 lb each) of frozen grated coconut (thawed and optionally replace one with a bag of young coconut)

Adjust consistency with rice flour/coconut milk to something shapeable with 2 spoons (like quinelles). Shape into ovals and fry in about 1 1/2 inches of oil until golden. Then dunk them in the hot boiling syrup for a pit and then into a colander.
Serve on skewers, hot or cooled.

Posted by JAY at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2006

Recipe: Artisan Style Bread


Tried making a more involved bread recipe that I saw on Good Eats. It turned out really well, though I didn't have a pizza stone/clay surface to bake it on. It did indeed have a more yeasty flavor and a nice chewy crust. It was also very nice looking. The recipe involves making a sponge and letting it sit in the fridge for flavors to develop. This bread takes a lot of time, but most of it is just waiting.

I'll post the recipe here when I get a chance.

Ingredients:
Flour (1 lb)
Water (10 oz)
Yeast (1 tsp)
Sugar (3 tsp)
Salt (2 tsp)
Corn Starch (1 TBS)

Mix:
All the water
All the sugar
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups flour (5 oz)
Cover and let rest in the refridgerator for 8-12 hours, for flavor to develop.
This is the "sponge)

In the mixing bowl stir:
The rest of the flour (2 1/4 cups)
The rest of the yeast (3/4 tsp)
All the salt

Then, add the fermented sponge and, with the dough hook, stir until well blended.
Cover with a damp cloth and et it rest for 20 minutes.
Knead with the dough hook for 10-15 minutes on medium speed.
(Speed it up to high if the dough starts climbing.)

Place the smooth but sticky dough ball in a lightly oiled container and let rise in a humid oven for about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. (Humidify the oven by having a dish of boiling water in it.)

Punch down the dough by turning it out onto a flat surface and flattening it with your knuckles
Fold it into 3, rotate 90 degrees and repeat.
Let rest for 10 minutes.

Gather the corners into a ball.
Let rise for 1 hour in the humid oven.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (you can put in a pizza stone at this point, or an unglazed clay pot).
Glaze the bread with a mixture of 1 TBS starch in 1/3 cup of cold water.
Cut a decorative square on the top of the bread with a sharp knife (this lets it expand in the oven)
Add hot water to the oven in a dish at the bottom.

Bake 50 min or until the internal temperature of the bread is between 205 and 210 degrees.
Let the bread on a rack for 30 min before eating.

If you don't have a pizza stone or clay pot, you can bake the bread in a skillet that you've heated up on the stove.

Posted by JAY at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2006

Quick Cook: Trout Filet

I usually pass by the grocery on the way home every day to see if there's anything good/cheap (preferably both, right?) Today's trip yielded some ultra-fresh trout that was on sale. It was already 'dressed' so the freshness test consisted of poking it hard and watching to see if flesh would bounce back. It passed the test with flying colours and was only about $3.50. I took it home and filleted it (only easy to do with fresh fish), salt/pepper/floured it and shallow-fried it in olive oil. It was delicious. There was also some local corn to be had cheap, so I picked that up too and brushed it with a bit of olive oil. It was nice and sweet.

Leftover trout I put into some homemade bread the next day for a fish sandwich. That's not the smartest thing to do with fish that might have bones in it, but it was really good and I got all the bones when I filleted the trout.

Posted by JAY at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006

Quick cook: Everything Roasted


This is just some cooked potato, cauliflower (from Pat, 2 kinds, the orange one is called "cheddar"), sliced carrots and rosemary sprigs (also from Pat!) tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme and cayenne pepper. I just popped it on top of the veg and threw it in a hot (375 deg) oven until everything was roasted. Unfortunately, I ate all of it in one go.

Posted by JAY at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2006

Recipe: Strawberry Sauce


I made these brownies (recipe) for the guys on Thursday, but I put too much salt - I meant to use salted butter and leave out the salt. But then I forgot about it and put in the salt. They were still ok, but not as good as they should've been. I had some strawberries that weren't really that great in the fridge and made them into a simple, but very good sauce. Recipe (such as it is, 2 ingredients) follows.


For dinner, I did a small shrimp stir fry with leftover linguini noodles. It was seasoned primarily with ginger, garlic and a bit of plum sauce, soy, oyster and sesame. Surprisingly, it wasn't very sweet, which was nice - I don't really like sweet noodle dishes like pad thai. It was very, VERY spicy, though. I put in a few fingernail clipping sized pieces of pepper from Pat's garden and it was very, very hot!! Whew!

Strawberry sauce recipe follows

Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries
Sugar

Chop the strawberries coarsely.
Sprinkle liberally with sugar.
Let it sit for about 1/2 hour.

Blend with a hand blender. Add sugar to taste and keep blending.
That's it!

I made the leftovers into a milkshake by whisking it with cream and milk.

Posted by JAY at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2006

Eating "Light"


I'm feeling a bit under the weather. I had all the ingredients for soup: parsley, celery, carrots, tomatoes, chicken backs - even some leftover noodles. I've got enough soup to last a couple of days. Garlic bread goes well with soup, and I had some leftover bread and garlic butter. This bread didn't get too well toasted, though.

This bread was much better. This was a salad with tomatoes (from mom's garden), avocado and mozzarella cheese, dressed with parsley (gotta use it out!), olive oil and balsamic. I should've used lemon juice instead of balsamic, it would've been more attractive. But I was too lazy. This tasted really good piled on the garlic bread. And the garlic bread was nicely browned this time.

Posted by JAY at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2006

Stir Fry - 2 ways



For some reason, food always tastes better when not too much fuss is involved, and when just cooking for myself. Part of that might be that it's easier to maintain a proper heat when working with less ingredients in the pan. Anyway, I did a quick stirfry tonight for dinner (with leftover noodles) and lunch tomorrow (over leftover rice). It was very tasty. I really have cut down on my meat lately.

I got the table runner at Superstore. It was only $1.44, marked down from $15. It's actually on the shelf below the table, so you're seeing it through the glass.

Posted by JAY at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2006

Recipe: Quick Scallop Pasta


Jumbo scallops were on sale at Dominion. They were about 1/2 off and still very expensive! This sucker alone cost almost $2. They were really big, though, and I couldn't resist. I threw this together with some leftover pasta in the fridge and it was really good, so I thought I'd jot down the method. Cooking time: about 20 min, assuming the pasta is already cooked. Making sure the surface of the scallop is as dry as possible will ensure a nice sear on it.

Quick Scallop Pasta
(multiply for number of eaters)
Cooked fettucini
1 scallop
Salt
Pepper
1/4 onion/shallot/leeks, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
Milk/cream (I used skim milk)
Chicken stock
Butter

Dry the scallop thoroughly. Salt and pepper both sides.
Put the scallop in a very hot oiled, almost smoking (frying oil) skillet.
Do not move it around, just let it sear in place for 5 minutes, then flip.
Lower heat slightly

Remove the scallop from the pan when cooked as desired.
Scrub the pan with a stick of cold butter to release any stuck bits of scallop. (~1 TBS butter)
Fry the onions in the hot butter for about 5 minutes, until soft.
Add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, till it smells nice.
Toss in about 1 1/2 tsp flour (omit if using cream, this is a thickener) and stir for 1 min.
Slowly add in cream/milk/stock in whatever proportions you like, with the heat on high and stirring.
(If there's any scallop juices, toss that in too.)
Boil this mixture until it thickens enough to coat pasta.
Toss the pasta in the mixture.
Top with the scallop and serve.
Grated lemon zest and chopped parsley would be good on top (I didn't have any.)

Posted by JAY at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2006

NotSoGood: West Indian Dumplings

So my father is making dumpling soup, which means he's all stressed out in the kitchen.

West Indian dumplings are an experience for the uninitiated. They contain no leavening AT ALL. It's just flour, oil, and milk. The result, as Pat discovered with her Bajian boyfriend, is a dense chewy lump of dough that tastes uncooked. If they're small enough, they'll absorb some liquid and not be so bad. I usually try to shape them kind of like noodles for this reason. My father, however, likes to shape them into huge patties. So they're usually dry, dense and hard at the core. Yummy, huh?

Posted by JAY at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2006

Spaghetti Pie

Hm. Tried a leftover spaghetti pie - eggs, cheese, cooked spaghetti baked in cast iron with mushrooms, tuna and garlic. I didn't get quite the chewy crispy crust on it that I wanted, though - it was just nicely brown and held together when unmolded. Next time I'll use a higher heat (400F) and leave it on the lowest rack of the oven for the entire cooking period.

Posted by JAY at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

10 Minute Banana Anything Cake

Jen and Dan seemed to like this, my parents maybe not so much - there was a lot left when I got home. I kind of like it too, and it's not very much work. The idea of using the potato masher came from a cooking show. Basically, you just mash everything together. As long as the flour/rising ingredients are close, you should be fine

Recipe follows...

Banana Anything Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mash with a potato masher:
(2-) 3 bananas, very ripe

Mash in:
2 (-3) eggs
3/4 cups veg/canola/safflower oil (can be reduced to 1/2)
1 cup brown sugar (or demerara, or white)

Gently mash in a mixture of:
(you can just dump it on top of the mashed stuff, flour first, and mix the dry stuff on top before mixing it in)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Optionally mix in (1/2 cup to 1 cup total):
nutmeg (as much/little as you want)
cinnamon (few tsps)
raisins
walnuts
chocolate chips
orange/lemon zest

Line the bottom of a 9" round non-stick cake pan with parchment, pour in batter and bake for about 30 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a plate.
Remove paper and invert again onto a rack to get the flat bottom of the cake downwards.
Cool for a bit, then serve.

Posted by JAY at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

Lemon Meringue Try


I don't have a great recipe for lemon meringue. It's always a bit of a hassle, because the filling has to be just right - just barely set enough to hold its shape. Too soft and it's a mess. To solid and it tastes pasty. The acidic lemon juice interferes with the gelling properties of the corn starch. As well, it's hard to gauge how thick the filling will be when fully cooled. Finally, getting the right balance of sweet and tart is also hard - high temperatures while cooking over-emphasize sweetness.

Getting a crisp crust under a liquid filling is almost impossible. Add a mostly uncooked meringue topping that's prone to weeping and collapse and you have a recipe that's really hard to get right. This picture was taken maybe a couple of hours after baking and it's already lost some of its loft. Perhaps an italian meringue beat with hot sugar syrup might solve that problem.

More research needed...

Posted by JAY at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2006

Recipe: Buttermilk Biscuits


These biscuits are really, really good. I didn't have chives or old cheddar for this batch, but I've made it since with both and it really is much better with the chives. The recipe comes from Fine Cooking magazine (Winter 2005) by Carolyn Weil and is only slightly modified.

Edit: I've added modifications to make them even better! Check here for the changes that are incorporated here and a picture of the higher, flakier results! The tri folding sounds hard, but is actually easier than kneading. The tri-fold mixing technique is something borrowed from puff pastry and makes the biscuits even higher and flakier.

Preheat oven to 415F

Whisk together:
9 oz (2 cups) flour (stir and spoon into measure, if not weighing)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (reduced - more for swiss cheese)

Cut slices of very cold butter into the flour Then briskly press the slices even thinner in the butter with your fingertips:
1/4 lb (1/2 cup) cold butter cubed

Toss lightly in, in order:
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar or swiss
1/2 cup finely chopped chives

Stir in:
2/3 cup buttermilk

The dough will be sticky and shaggy. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured parchment lined baking sheet.

Pat and shape the dough into a 2-3 cm thick rectangle (proportions a bit stubbier than a sheet of paper). Don't worry if there's a lot of unincorporated flour and wet spots.

Using the parchment to lift the dough, tri-fold the sheet into thirds like a letter that's going into an envelope (bottom edge to two thirds up, the top third over top of the 2 first layers).

Pat the dough back out into a rectangle (it'll be longer the other way now) and tri-fold again (left to 2/3 across, right third over the 2 first layers).

Pat the dough out one last time and tri fold one last time. This is creating exponential amounts of thin layers of butter - almost 250 layers! This doesn't take much time, but if your mixture starts getting oily or warm at any point on a really hot day, stick the whole tray into the fridge for 20 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.

Pat the packet of dough into a squarish kind of shape, about 2-3 cm thick.

Trim the edges of the square with a sharp knife and cut what's left into 9 squares. (Trimming all edges allows the biscuits to rise fully.) Take the trimmings and form into another biscuit, trimming the edges again. Take the new trimmings and just bake in a tiny ball.

Space the biscuits out on the parchment / baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the heat immediately down to 390F.

and bake until firm and golden brown on top and golden brown on the bottom - 15-18 minutes.

Serve warm.

Posted by JAY at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2006

Chocolate Pain In The Butt Cake

This cake is very very moist and yummy. The ingredients are commonly stocked in my pantry and fridge. It can be made in just one mixing bowl. So why is this cake such a pain in the ass?

Well, quite simply, the measurements are crazy. I did everything by weight because you can either add 5 ounces of butter, or 10 tablespoons. How the heck are you going to measure solid butter with a tablespoon, much less 10 of them? It's the same with the flour and the cocoa: 1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS and 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup respectively.

Ordinarily, I'd abandon the recipe because of this, but it did taste good and I do have a kitchen scale... so...

Coffee-Cocoa Snack Cake
Nicole Rees, Fine Cooking Magazine

5 ounces very soft unsalted butter (more for pan)
1 1/2 c sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
7.25 (!) ounces flour, more for pan
2.5 ounces unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c coffee, cooled to warm

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9x9" baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Butter the whole thing and flour it.

Cream the butter and sugar together well.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
Mix in the vanilla and salt.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder onto the batter.
Pour in the coffee and gently whisk by hand until the mix is smooth and mostly free of lumps.
Pour the batter into the pan, spreading with spatula.

Bake for 40-43 minutes (mine was longer...) until a skewer in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it.
Cool for 20 minutes.
Knife the edges and invert/remove the cake onto a rack.
Invert again onto another rack.

Cool until just warm and serve or wrap in plastic.

Posted by JAY at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Recipe: Caramel Popcorn

Ok, this tastes good, but not fantastically better than caramel corn that you can buy from a popcorn store (I can't remember the name of the franchise). If you don't have a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron pot to cook the popcorn in, you'll need to transfer it into a greased large bowl before pouring in the caramel. I didn't actually get too much of this, my sister and mother ate it pretty quickly.

Caramel Popcorn

Approx 8 cups of popped popcorn, still in warm cast iron pot they were cooked in.
(alternatively, transfer into oiled metal bowl, or a silicone bowl)

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1.25 tsp baking soda, premeasured in a bowl
2 tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, more to taste)

Grease (brush with oil) a tall pot that can hold about 5 cups right to the top.
Pour the water into the pot.
Pour the sugar and salt into the center of the pot in a mound (don't stir).
Add the butter.
Heat on medium high, without stirring.

This is the tricky part, be careful.
Watch the sugar bubbling.
Watch for it to turn just past a pale straw color OR when any part of it starts to darken past that to a brown or golden color.
Then, toss in all the baking soda (mixed with optional cayenne) and whisk with an oiled balloon whisk (again, brush with oil).
The mixture will darken and bubble, increasing in volume tremendously. This is why you need to use a large pot - it can more than quadruple in volume. Don't touch the mixture, it is VERY hot and sticky.

Pour the frothy mixture into the popcorn and toss gently to coat. (Still VERY hot!)
Do not scrape out the pan, if you oiled it properly, most should pour out easily. You risk crystalization of the entire batch of popcorn if you scrape the pan. (This has never happened to me so...)
I like to have a large oiled spoon at the bottom of the popcorn ready to stir up the bottom.
Pat the coated caramel popcorn into a single layer on parchment paper (or greased cookie sheets, if you don't have that).

The caramel recipe can be halved or tripled.

Posted by JAY at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

Recipe: Beef Tenderloin and Fried Rice


It's been a while since I"ve posted any of my current meals. I've been cooking, but I've just been too lazy to post. One of the quirks of my kitchen is that we're not really well-stocked with ingredients, but we tend to have some odd things on-hand - like homemade roast garlic and roasted red peppers, for instance. Beef filet is really worth cooking at home - sooo tender. Buying my parents some filet was the best thing I ever did - they're buying it themselves now and stocking the fridge with it. Like high quality sashimi grade tuna, it should be well seared on the outside and warm but very rare on the inside. Don't even bother if you're cooking past medium rare - this cut of meat has no fat and will toughen immediately. Wrapping with bacon will help a bit, but not enough... I prefer it without, as the flavor of this cut is pretty mild and shouldn't have to compete with bacon.

I love fried rice - this is a non-asian version, even though I cooked it up in the wok. The recipe below will be kind of generalized to take advantage of what you have on hand. It's pretty fattening, though. Restaurant fried rice has more fat than french fries. This has somewhat less, but it's still not low fat.

Seared Beef Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin steaks, about 1 to 1.5 inches in width
salt (kosher preferable), black pepper
high heat oil (canola, veg, but not peanut)
garlic (optional)
extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Leave the steaks out at room temperature for about a 1/2 hour.
Put a cast iron skillet to heat on medium heat while prepping the steaks.
Dry the steak surface with paper towels to encourage browning.
Cut a large clove of garlic in half and rub cut surface all over the steaks (optional)
Season well with salt and black pepper (if you're really picky - and I am - don't salt one side of the steak - that side will be place face up on the pan and we don't want to draw water out of the meat while the other side sears)

Put a tiny bit of canola oil in the pan.
It should be hot enough to start smoking (wait if it's not).
Place the steak(s), salted side down on the smoking pan.
Do not play with the steaks (don't lift them), that'll interfere with searing.
Cook for about 4 minutes, then salt the top and flip with tongs.
Drizzle the seared surface (now top) wtih good quality extra virgin olive oil. (sorta optional)
Cook for another 6 minutes, lowering the heat to medium low.
Let rest in a plate for 1 minute before serving.

Fried Rice
Day old long grain rice - 3 cups
Sliced Mushrooms
1 large diced onion
Garlic
Sliced roasted red pepper
1 package of spinach, washed and wilted in the microwave, then chopped coarsely
oil
salt, pepper, thyme

Fresh rice won't work in this recipe. The starch coating the rice has to harden a bit. You'll end up with burned rice sticking to the pan otherwise.

Heat about 1/4 cup of oil in a wok over high heat until very hot. (Olive oil for this, regular oil for chinese)
Toss in mushrooms (white for this, shitake for chinese)
Add sliced ginger for chinese fried rice and remove when it starts to brown (omit for this)
Cook the mushrooms until nicely golden and then add onions
(optional and for chinese: toss in sliced celery, finely chopped carrots, lightly steamed brocolli etc)
(for chinese/non vegetarian meat, you can add sliced raw meats, or roasted meats like bbq pork)
Cook until softened/browned and then add chopped garlic.
Cook for only 30 seconds (don't burn garlic!), then add rice, tossing briskly over high heat unil rice is hot.
Add red peppers and spinach and thyme.
(for chinese: add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil)

Posted by JAY at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

Recipe: Pecan Pie Retry

Since dinner was already cooked when I got home, I tried the pecan pie recipe again. Since it turned out well this time, I've put the recipe below.

Pecan Pie (based on Christine Cushing)

Pastry
1 1/3 C flour
pinch of salt
1/4 C butter, chilled
1/3 C shortening, chilled
1/4 C cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend everything but the water together with a pastry cutter.
Toss with the water, form into a disk and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Roll out, line with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes, remove weights and lining and bake for 15 minutes more.
Cool on rack.

Filling:
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C corn syrup
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C melted butter, lightly browned
pinch salt

1 C pecan halves, lightly toasted

Whisk everything but the pecans together.
Lay the pecans out in the pie shell decoratively and pour the filling over it.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
Cool before serving.

Posted by JAY at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2006

Recipe: Osso Bucco

Made this today with a bread roll for dipping. It was really really good, but kind of a pain to make. Plus its main ingredients, veal shanks and white wine, aren't something I ofen have on hand. I used Yellow Tail chardonnay, an Australian dry white that's nice and cheap. My shanks were a bit on the thin side (they were discount meat), so after browning them, they took a while to soften up in the braising liquid. I did have a nice homemade chicken stock on hand - which is good, because it would've been overly salty with commercial broth. Omit all salt if you're using commercial broth.

I also didn't bother with the bouquet garni - I just threw in the herbs. Didn't bother twining the shanks either.

Unfortunately, I lost the link to the recipe...

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Cheesecloth
Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zestPlace the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine. This will be your bouquet garni.

For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.

In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.

In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.

Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.

Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Posted by JAY at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2006

Pizza

Well, I think I've got the yeast doughs down pat. This was a pizza dough that I made last night and left to slowly rise in the fridge overnight. I actually rolled it pretty thinly, but it has a thick edge on it. Sadly, I also made cinnamon buns and of course ate 4 of them. I feel slightly sick now. The parents are arriving back tomorrow afternoon so I'll cook something tomorrow (though there's leftover pizza) so that they can eat when they get home.

Posted by JAY at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

January 23, 2006

Shrimp Fried Rice

I've gotten into the bad habit of frying my rice. When I steamed this rice, I cooked it with onion and garlic, so I didn't bother to put any in the stirfry. Instead, there are mushrooms, frozen peas and corn. It was yummy but the curried chicken fried rice I had the day before was even better! I'm sure that my fried rice has less oil than restaurant fried rice, but it's still a substantial amount.

Posted by JAY at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2005

Cinnamon Buns Recipe


This pecan pie was kinda overbaked, so it wasn't nice and glossy.and runny. So I only ate that one piece and gave the rest to Lisa's friends who seemed to enjoy it. (Blech!) Even the pastry was kinda tough - I think I put too much water in it.

These, on the other hand, were delicious. I think I'll cut back juuuust a bit on the filling, they're just a bit too rich. But for a yeast bread, they were made pretty quickly. They probably have a TON of calories, though. Click on Read More for the recipe.

And this was my dinner today. The cheese sauce and gravy and rice were all leftovers. The huge chicken breast (topped with mozzarella) was $1.50 on sale ... yum! I just grilled it with salt and herbs. So yeah... waaay too much eating going on over here.

Cinnamon Buns

This recipe is sorta adapted from here I wanted to use quick-rise yeast so that I could get the whole thing done and baked in a couple hours.

Mix:
1 1/2 cups water at 130 degrees F
1/4 cups sugar
1 tbs melted butter
1 tsp salt

Stir in this mixture:
2 cups flour stirred with
1.5 tablespoons instant "quick" yeast

Add flour gradually and knead until you have a soft dough (10 min):
1 1/2 cups flour (approx)

Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes while you mix:
1 cup butter. soft
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon, or to taste

Roll the dough into a 16x10 rectangle, spread with the mixture and roll up along the long edge.
Cut the roll into 12 pieces and arrange in a 9x13 pan on top of parchment paper (butter the sides of the pan if it's not non-stick).
Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 1 hour in a warm damp place until almost doubled in size.

Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven.

Posted by JAY at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2005

Fast Recipe: Steak and Italian Rice


This was soooo good and only took about 15 min total. I'm home alone today and feeling a bit under the weather, so I'm just sleeping and eating today (yay!) I medicate with food. This is actually just half the steak, but I ate the whole thing, it just wouldn't fit on the plate. It's cut up because I was reading while eating and didn't want to have to cut my meat. The rice isn't really italian. Recipes follow.

Grilled Steak

Rib eye steak, slightly less than 1 inch thick
salt and pepper

In a heavy (preferably cast iron) pan, spread and heat about 1 tsp of oil at very high heat.
Salt and pepper your steak generously. Pat surface dry with paper towel to help browning if wet.
When the oil is SMOKING, put the steak into the pan. Don't move it around or scrape under it.
When you start to see blood drops beading on the surface of the steak, flip it with a spatula.
Lower heat to medium and cook to just UNDER desired doneness.
Let rest in a plate for 3 min. while preparing the rice.

Italian Rice
Leftover cooked rice, whatever you have
Mozzarella cheese, chopped
Onions, chopped/sliced
Garlic, minced
Grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Chili flakes
Salt and Pepper

Short version: Microwave the rice and cheese till melty, fry the rest of the ingredients in a hot pan, add garlic, and toss together.

Detailed version:
Heat the rice in the microwave (covered) while the steak cooks.
Toss the cheese on top of it (as much as you want) and microwave for 30 secs more.
Fry the onions in a generous amount of olive oil in the steak pan (either to the side of the steak or after)
Add the chili flakes (as much/little as you want) and the tomatoes at high heat.
Add the grape tomatoes
Lower heat slightly, add the garlic, cook until you can smell the garlic aroma (30 secs)
Toss with the rice and cheese.

Posted by JAY at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

Recipe: Chicken Fingers and Oven Fries

It was truly Fry-day today (yeah, dumb pun, suck it up). Actually, I've been cooking deep fried stuff since Wednesday, which is why the pictured chicken fingers are so dark even though they're not overcooked. This is the last time I'm using this oil! Something about fried food... I deboned my chicken breasts myself, since they were on sale with the bone still in them.

Read on for the recipes... they're both fairly easy.

Oven Fries
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2-3 potatoes per person, scrubbed and cut into wedges.
Toss with a generous amount of heat proof dried spices (thyme, rosemary, oregano, chili/cayenne)
Toss with enough olive oil to coat.
Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, curved side down.
Sprinkle with generous salt and black pepper.
Stick in the oven (don't worry if it's still heating up)
Roast for about 40 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Serve.
You can turn the heat down to 270 degrees F until ready to serve up to an hour or so, just to keep warm.

Chicken Fingers
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 egg, beaten with a couple tablespoons of cream/milk
1/2 C flour for dredging the chicken in
1/2 to 1 C breadcrumbs (with more reserved in case you run out!)
Dried herbs: thyme, cayenne, black pepper, italian seasoning, rosemary, whatever
Salt
Oil (about 2 C, depending on pan)

Season the chicken with all the herbs that you're using (about 1 TBS total, easy on the cayenne pepper unless you want it spicy), then healthy pinches of salt and lots of black pepper.

Season the breadcrumbs with more of the herbs, about 3 tablespoons of them, plus about 2 teaspoons of salt and a lot of black pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then roll in crumbs. Put it on a rack until cooking.

Heat about 1 inch of veg/peanut/canola oil in a very deep pot/pan (it'll bubble!) to about 350 degrees F. I use my neat thermometer, if you don't have one, then a cube of bread dropped in should brown in about 10 seconds or so.

Fry the chicken fingers without crowding them too much in the pan, flipping them as needed, until nicely browned.
Watch them carefully, they don't take long at all!

Drain on paper towels.

Posted by JAY at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Roti Recipe

Roti is a pan fried Indian flatbread that is usually eaten with curry in the caribbean. My past roti making attempts haven't always gone all that well. Today, however, it actually turned out pretty well, so I thought I would put notes on making it in the future.

My main problem in the past was an overly stiff dough. More water and a slightly sticky dough worked much better. Next time, I think I'm going to try adding a bit of shortening.
[modified recipe Jan 1 2006]

Roti

2 cups flour (I used an unbleached, whole wheat roti flour)
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
water
oil

Whisk/sift together the dry ingredients - using only 1/2 the flour.

Rub the shortening into the flour between your fingertips.

Stir and add water until you have a very sticky liquid-y dough (about 3/4 of a cup, usually).

Gradually add and stir remaining flour in until the dough is gathering in a ball and cleaning the bowl on the spoon.

Knead in more flour until the dough is soft but not very sticky. You should have used most of the flour called for, but a little less or more won't matter (depending on how much water you added and ambient conditions).

Divide the dough into 4 balls and let rest covered with a damp cloth for about 10 minutes.

Roll each ball out to about 8-9" in diameter, brush generously with oil. Cut a slit from the center of the circle to the edge and then roll it up into a tight cone and back into a ball.

Let sit covered with a damp cloth at least 15 minutes. The more time you leave it, the easier rolling it out will be, just make sure that you keep the cloth damp.

Roll out and fry in a medium hot cast iron skillet. Brush the skillet very generously with oil for each roti and brush the top side of the roti before flipping it.

Posted by JAY at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2005

Mom's Birthday

Forgot to take pictures, but it was good :)

Shrimp stirfry with snow peas, mushrooms, onions, garlic, red peppers and broccoli. Some aweome rib eye steaks. A trifle loaded with custard and cream. It was yummy!

Posted by JAY at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2005

Cook, Eat, Clean, Repeat

I've been doing a heck of a lot of cooking lately (all of it, really). Cooking extra doesn't really help because no one really wants to eat the same thing more than twice in a row. Tonight, we had leftover lasagna for dinner, but that meant that there were no leftovers for lunch. So I grilled some lamb chops and brocolli and boiled some rice.

All that cooking made me hungry, so I also grilled a strip sirloin steak and snacked on half of it (it was gooood). But there's not enough for lunch and dinner tomorrow, so I'll need to cook again tomorrow evening (roast chicken, it looks like).

Posted by JAY at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2005

Lard Crust Apple Pie


This just came out of the oven.

Yay, lard is no longer considered evil! I used to use vegetable shortening, but now we know it's full of eeevil trans-fats (it's hydrogenated vegetable oil). Butter's also a saturated animal fat, so there's no reason not to use lard. Working with it was a pleasure, it has more body than shortening and it sticks to the flour better than butter. Supposedly, it gives the flakiest crust. My beloved butter tarts from the Maid's Cottage use lard in their pastry. So we'll see!

Posted by JAY at 09:39 PM | Comments (4)

October 09, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

This was thanksgiving dinner. Going clockwise from the turkey... Cranberry sauce, roasted cauliflower, grilled portobello mushrooms, steamed brocolli, rice and stuffing with cremini mushroom gravy. It was all really yummy.

Of course, after dinner, Father and sister got into a big argument about the usual. So that kinda sucked especially while trying to eat cake...

Lisa left without taking any food home, so the fridge is really full with leftovers.

Posted by JAY at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Birthday Cake

This was my birthday cake! Mom made the cake and I took care of the icing (she was having fun outside, and I was stuck in the kitchen anyway taking care of the thanksgiving dinner). We ran out of butter, so the cake is triple iced! The filling is blueberry whipped cream and the outside is covered with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream. The final layer of icing is a coffee flavored whipped cream.

Posted by JAY at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)

September 19, 2005

Grilled Lamb Dinner

Was left to my own devices tonight and wanted food FAST. The bus was 1/2 hour late and I was really hungry! So everything got grilled in 1/2 hour. The mushrooms went onto a hot pan while the potato and asparagus got microwaved. Lamb tenderloin joined the mushrooms and finally the asparagus got a grill too.

Everything was simply seasoned with black pepper and salt. The potato got a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. It was really good - actually just as good as butter.

Posted by JAY at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2005

BLT on Homemade Bread

My parents left me at home with absolutely nothing in the house to eat. Nothing in the fridge, nothing in the freezer. I considered ordering in, but didn't feel like pizza. So I made some bread! It's 3C flour, 1C water and 2 tsp of yeast. Then I added bacon, lettuce and tomato. Mmm!

Posted by JAY at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

Pork and Pah

Cooked 2 pork tenderloins for dinner. They were really good but illustrated the need to never overcook lean cuts of tender meat. I gave them a herb rub and browned the outside in a skillet before baking them in a 350F oven.

When the internal temperature reached 140F, I took them out and let them rest (they raise about 5 degrees). One was slightly higher than that - it reached 150F. It was noticably less tender and juicy than the one that only reached 145F.

I also made a crabapple pie. The crust turned out great and the filling (for once) was the perfect texture - moist but not runny. I think the secret is that if you add more sugar, you have to adjust the amount of flour added to the apples.

Posted by JAY at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

Frying Tips

Some neat tips for deep frying seafood:

Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the 2 cups of flour/starch mixture. This will give an awesome golden brown.

Wait for the hissing bubbling sound to die down and then the frying is done. This is the point when the water has fried and evaporated away.

Posted by JAY at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005

Rib Dinner

Back ribs can be made really quickly, because they don't need the slow cooking that side ribs do to be tender. This dinner was made in abou 45 minutes. Corn was microwaved, BBQ sauce was made from scratch, as was the salad dressing, basmati rice was on sale at Superstore, and the ribs were on sale at Price Chopper.

Posted by JAY at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2005

Recipe: Classic Brownies

It's essential to measure the flour in the more modern way. Without sifting, stir the flour in the container, then spoon it into the measuring cup before levelling. This will give you about 4 oz per cup of flour. Doing it the old way (scoop and level) will give you up to 6 ounces, making the brownies crumbly and cakey. This recipe was loosely adapted from America's Test Kitchen, who ticked me off by not including the amount of flour in the recipe.

Classic Brownies

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F

Prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper (covering the bottom and about 1.5 inches up the sides). You can simply take a single large piece and fold the corners so it stays in place. I rubbed it with a bit of vegetable shortening, but I think you could probably skip this.

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl melt
3/4 c butter, cut into chunks
6 oz unsweetened chocolate (full squares), chopped
Microwave at 50% power for 1 min, then in 20 second increments at 50% until melted. Stir between every session.

Whisk in, one at a time:
2 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 tbs vanilla

Fold the flour mixture in thirds into the chocolate mixture until uniform.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out.
Sprinkle with
1/2 c chopped walnuts (they need not be toasted, they'll toast on top)

Bake in the preheated 325F oven for about 35 minutes. Test with a toothpick. You want there to be some moist crumbs on the toothpick. If you get batter, it's undercooked. If it's clean, you've overbaked it.

Let the brownies cool for about 2 hours before lifting the parchment paper out and cutting into squares.

Variations:
Add chocolate chips to the batter
Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut
Add a bit of cinnamon to the batter to give an exotic eastern chocolate flavor

Posted by JAY at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005

Back Ribs and Brownies

Price Chopper has pork back ribs on sale. Unlike side ribs, these don't have to be slow cooked because they're already tender.

A quick rub of black pepper, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin followed by broiling under a hot flame was all that it needed. Homemade BBQ sauce and a bit more broiling resulted in tender ribs in about 15 minutes (start with the underside up and flip 1/2 way through). The parents were raving.

Also, I remade the brownies that I screwed up on Saturday. This time I weighed the flour and got moist, dense, chewy brownies. (Also, put some coconut in.) Recipe and pictures to follow.

Posted by JAY at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2005

Caramel Cake w. Burnt Butter Icing

This cake was a bit of a fiasco, but it tasted good. Or at least, it had my mom raving. I thought it could be more caramel-ly. I was kinda scatterbrained when I made this, and kept forgetting to watch the sugar syrup as it boiled. Then, I didn't realize that I was supposed to reserve some sugar for beating the eggs separately... and I could really use another Kitchenaid bowl for that, too. It tastes good, but it was kind of a pain to make.

Posted by JAY at 06:03 PM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2005

Harsh Betty's Lemon Chicken Recipe

Harsh Betty put this up on her site and I'm gonna try it tonight. I think I have all the stuff for it at home and it has no salt in it (for Mom). Might try adding some pepper, either black or red... and some garlic.

Lemon Chicken Recipe
(by request!)

Start off with a bunch of boneless chicken -- depending on how frugal I'm feeling, I might either debone a whole chicken or just get some boneless thighs. Cut it into strips, maybe 3/4" wide. Dredge it in cornstarch, and fry it until golden brown in a very shallow bath of hot oil, then drain in a colander lined with paper towels, or however you normally deal with fried things.

Then you toss it in the sauce and serve it over (brown, in my case) rice.

Here's how you make the sauce:

1 lemon
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar (does it have to be cider vinegar? I dunno, I've just always used that since I normally keep it around; I don't see why you couldn't try another variety though)
1/3 cup brown sugar
a little cornstarch dissolved in a little water, for thickening

Slice the lemon very thin and remove the seeds. Bring water, vinegar and brown sugar to a boil, and throw in the lemon slices. Simmer until lemons are soft. Add cornstarch mixture (and continue to cook and stir until completely mixed in) to thicken it to your desired consistency; I throw in some yellow food coloring sometimes, too, for that day-glo Chinese restaurant effect.

Posted by JAY at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2005

Salad and Pie

Today for dinner I made a large grilled chicken salad with an orange-maple dressing and garlic bread croutons. It was pretty good (even my sister liked it). After dinner I used some leftover pastry that my mom had in the fridge to make a pie - we were a little short on apples, so I added blueberries. It's cooling on the kitchen table now. There's vanilla frozen yogurt there too, so it should be yummy.

Posted by JAY at 07:57 PM | Comments (2)

July 05, 2005

Recipe: Butter Tartlets

I made some butter tarts with some leftover pastry dough and some mini tart pans that I had bought in the Cookstown outlet mall. All of the recipes for tart filling are about the same. I've included it below so that I don't have to look for it online.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar
1 pinch salt

Whisk it all together and bake in the oven at 450 in the lower part of the oven for about 13 minutes. You'll want to only fill the tarts 1/2 full as they'll bubble up.

Posted by JAY at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2005

Deep Frying

Mmm, fried meat. It's pretty simple, really.

Take seasoned chicken and thin pork chops. (Thyme, salt, pepper, etc)
Dredge in seasoned flour and baking powder (fsalt, cayenne/black pepper)
Dip in whisked egg thinned with a bit of milk.
Dip it again in the flour mixture.

Fry until cooked in a shallow pan with hot (325 degree) oil until done.

Posted by JAY at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2005

Pork Chop

Perfectly seared porkchops for dinner tonight. I'm not ordinarily a fan of pork loin, as it goes from cooked to dry very easily. It doesn't help that the temperature chart I've been using is off. Pork is cooked at 140 degrees F. My stupid chart says 170 degrees. Pork doesn't have to be cooked quite as done as it used to be - as long as there's no pink, it's fine.

Posted by JAY at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

Grilled Chicken

This was my second dinner... I was feeling peckish and was deboning some chicken breasts. I simply seasoned generously with salt, pepper and thyme and grilled much the same way that burgers were done (slightly less heat). No pressing, no moving around the pan, letting it rest for a couple of minutes, etc. I don't usually like chicken breast, but if not overcooked (though it can't be undercooked!) it's nice and moist. It's easier to have good results with deboned chicken thighs, though, as it's harder to dry them out. This was very yummy.

Posted by JAY at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

Pork Stir Fry

I've done pork stir fry before. This one had savoy cabbage and bean sprouts. The pork was marinated in rice vinegar, black bean sauce, sesame seed oil and chili. It came from the end of a side rib section that is uaually pretty tough. I cooked enough for 2 meals but ended up eating both.

Posted by JAY at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

Recipe: Perfect Burgers

It's not hard to make a perfect burger, cooked through for safety (this was reduced meat - if it's fresh you could go to medium) yet very moist. This particular patty is cooked on the stove top, as it's too tender for a bbq grill. The main secret: regular ground beef - not lean. All of the proportions are approximate, you can't really screw it up.

Perfect Burgers

Per burger:
1 fist sized portion of regular ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp worcester/soy sauce if you have it

Mix the above ingredients together with
1 egg per 3 - 6 burgers
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs per 3-6 burgers

You can add more bread crumbs if it seems very wet, but the mix should be slightly on the wet side.

Form the burgers into 1 inch thick discs. Handle them gently and don't compress them too much. (Unless they're for the bbq.)

Heat a skillet to quite hot, coat with veg oil.
Let the oil heat, then put the burgers on. They should sizzle, but not furiously. You can test by touching the edge of the burger to the pan before committing the entire thing.

NEVER press the burgers!
Don't move the burgers or they'll stick.
Once they're sufficiently cooked on one side, the juices will release the burger and you can flip it easily.

Once you see the cooked meat mark rise to almost 1/2 way up (between 5-10 min), flip the burger with a spatula. Quickly put cheese on the hot surface, if you want to.

Cook to desired doneness. Either use a meat thermometer, or break one open slightly. Cook slightly under (you can see a tiny bit of pink in the juices) as the burgers will cook the rest of the way while resting.

Remove the burgers from the pan and let sit for 3-5 minutes (you can do your onions and mushrooms in the hot pan). This will prevent the juices from boiling out of the meat when you bite into it.

Posted by JAY at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2005

Murder in the Kitchen

20050412crabs.jpgWent to Dave B's condo and bought some animals from the Pacific Mall. The crabs were very feisty, but not very tasty. They were also very cheap, so I guess you get what you pay for. King crab is definitely better - much more meat. Some twitching after the initial cleansing boil was a bit freaky.

The pix are tiny because I didn't have my camera - so we used Dave's webcam.

We also had a fresh duck, click below to see it whole.

20050412Duck.jpg

Posted by JAY at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Mac'n'Ribs

Had some macaroni and cheese sauce (laced with bacon!) and some slow-cooked ribs - I did the ribs for about 5 hours instead of 3 to get rid of a bit more fat and get them even more tender. Also, rather than sauce it wrapping it, I just used a dry rub of spices (thyme, black pepper, salt, cumin) Really good! Dave let me know that he tried the recipe too and enjoyed it.

Posted by JAY at 11:27 PM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2005

Strawberry Cream Cheese

I picked up some lovely ripe strawberries today. I wasn't too happy with the glaze that I tried to make last time, so I figured I'd make my own. It's a simple syrup cooked using my new Thermopen. It's about 1.5 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of water, boiled without stirring until 230 degrees F.

I put ths strawberries on cream cheese slathered bread and glazed it with the syrup that had almost cooled. It was SO good. The rest of the strawberries have been glazed for dessert later.

Posted by JAY at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

Oven-Fried Chicken

This is the oven fried chicken from this recipe. There were a couple of changes to the recipe. I didn't have any eggs, so Lisa suggested I substitute mayo. It worked, and though the crust was slightly different, it was delicious! You'd never guess these were baked instead of fried. Though, with mayo, they probably have almost as much fat as deep fried chicken! I served them with oven roasted potato fries, seasoned with curry powder and baked with them. Very yummy.

Posted by JAY at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2005

Strawberries Part 3

Here's the finale - chocolate covered strawberries with ice cream on a warm chocolate chip cookie! The chocolate lattice was made by drizzling chocolate onto parchment paper. Isn't it pretty?

Posted by JAY at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005

Strawberries Part 2

Rasberry jam glazed strawberries topping a ramekin of vanilla pastry cream. The pastry cream was an ordeal - and it didn't turn out perfectly. I should probably measure when I make it instead of dumping stuff into the pot. First it was too thin, but really delicious! I thickened it, but the flavor suffered.

Posted by JAY at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

Strawberries Part 1

Weston Produce had strawberries on sale today - $2.50 per pound. So I bought 2 lbs. and brought them home. They weren't the freshest, so the first thing that I did was wash them all and place them on a mat so they weren't touching each other. The ones that weren't in perfect condition got sliced and mixed with about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and sugar. Delicious!

Adding balsamic vinegar to strawberries really brings out the flavor and lends a sophisticated edge to them. Try it sometime!

Posted by JAY at 07:07 PM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2005

Oven-Fried Wings

Lisa requested oven fried chicken wings for dinner today. They turned out really well, so I thought I'd jot down the recipe for future reference.

Recipe: Oven-Fried Chicken Wings

In a ziploc or paper bag mix:
1 cup flour
1 TBS salt (or so)
1 TBS black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBS thyme

Whisk together in a bowl:
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used milk and balsamic vinegar)
1 or 2 egg whites

Trim the tips off the wings and reserve them for stock making.
Separate the drumlet from the other half of the wing.
Toss the meat in the liquid, then toss in the flour (several at a time) and shake off any excess flour.
Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Use a pastry brush to dab with veg oil (all sides)
Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for about 1/2 hour.
Turn them over with tongs about halfway through.

Posted by JAY at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

Lesia's Apple Cake

Went to Karen's house and cooked dinner (pasta with garlic, bacon and chicken, side of sweet peppers) and made Lesia's Apple Cake the night before to take with me. It could've been better - my apples weren't baking apples (they were Spartans). Karen and Dave enjoyed it, though I'd like to try again with Gala apples. Spartans kinda of turn into mush when cooked.

Still not as good as Lesia's! Might have to do with under-mixing... All I had was a fork as the Kitchenaid is still packed away. I've more recently picked up a cheap whisk for such occasions.

Recipe follows.

Lesia's Apple Cake

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
7 apples, peeled/sliced (Lesia uses Macs, I like Gala)
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup orange juice (I throw in the zest too)
3 cups flour
3 TBS baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oil (I used veg)

Whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Alternately add oil, flour and orange juice to the eggs.
Toss apple slices with cinnamon and stir into batter.

Bake for 1 hour at 375 (I think I'll try 350 next time) for about 1 hour in a well buttered Bundt pan.

Posted by JAY at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Garlic Shrimp

This is a variation on the quicky pasta with garlic and olive oil. The oil has been enriched with shrimp and the pan has been deglazed with a bit of white wine. It was delicious! I also did one with bacon instead of olive oil... the wine loosened all of the brown bacon bits and lent a sweet flavor to the crispy bacon. Sooo good, though not as healthy.

Posted by JAY at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

Don't Boil Ribs!

Seriously, don't! Think about it. When you make a chicken or beef stock, you boil the bones and meat. Why? Because you want the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Is that what you want for your ribs? Pressure cooking them is even worse and can give it a canned flavor. But you still want meat that falls off the bone, right?

Try this: Season your side ribs (just grill back ribs, they're tender!) and brush on some BBQ sauce (recipe for BBQ sauce follows). We can season before cooking because we're not boiling!

Seal the ribs in parchment paper or aluminum foil (parchment paper is better if your sauce is acidic, which might react with the foil). Toss in the oven for 3 hours at 250 degrees F.

Unwrap them carefully (they'll be very soft) and put them on the grill or back in the oven at 375 degrees F for maybe 15 minutes, brushing with more sauce.

You'll be able to eat this with a spoon if you want to. The long enclosed cooking will make the meat tender but still keep all the flavor locked in.

BBQ Sauce Formula

2 parts Ketchup
1 part Balsamic vinegar or more
Brown sugar/Honey to taste
Garlic, several cloves
Cumin (optional, a few pinches)
Red chili flakes (optional)
Black pepper and salt

Pound them together in a mortar or blend them in a blender. Add the sweetener until you get the desired level of sweetness. If you're finding it bland, then add more vinegar.

Posted by JAY at 07:22 PM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2005

Chop(s)

Lunch was some brined pork chops (solution: 1/2 cup salt, 2 cups water, 2 hours). I got some beautiful browning on these by making sure the surface of the meat was dry when it went into the hot pan. I made 2, one for lunch and one for dinner, but I ended up eating both for lunch. The usual rationalization is that it won't taste so good after refrigeration. So for dinner I've gorged myself on strawberry custard pie.

Posted by JAY at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2005

Recipe: Brined Chicken

Dinner today was a whole chicken brined in a 1/2 cup salt to 4 cups water solution. I also added a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. After it soaked for 1 hour it was rinsed off and patted dry, seasoned with rosemary and black pepper and baked at 375F for about 40 minutes.

Brining plasmolyzes (bursts) the cell walls of the chicken, allowing them to absorb more water, resulting in a much moister and flavored breast meat.

I was impressed with the way my chef's knife (Henkles) sheared through the bone to halve the chicken through the back and breast.

To go with it was some rice fried with chick peas, lemon juice, onions and avocado. It was all very yummy. I didn't eat the whole thing but I had a LOT of the rice.

Posted by JAY at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Lesia's Apple Muffins

A co-worker at my office makes a wonderful tasting apple cake, so I begged her for the recipe. The only thing is... I don't have a Bundt pan. So instead, I tried making a (roughly) half recipe into muffins. It's not quite perfect yet, though - I had the rack too low in the oven, and I think I'll have to use a lower heat(maybe 350 instead of 375) as there is more batter exposed. This was an absolute pain to make - I didn't have any electrical tools at all so I did it all by hand.

Posted by JAY at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs were on the menu tonight. I didn't have any barbeque sauce, so I made my own out of ketchup, balsamic vinegar, garlic, chili and brown sugar. The sauce was really good, but this was the tail end of the rib, and it didn't really have enough fat the slow roast that I gave it (when I tried it earlier with the center portion of the ribs (where the actual rib bones are) it was much moister.

Posted by JAY at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2005

Scalloped Scalloped Potatoes

I'm behind in posting and backdating posts. Sigh. I was out of bacon, so at the last minute I tossed in some scallops (sort of a bad culinary pun) into the scalloped potatoes. It tasted good (and smelled even better). I put a gratin topping on it of bread crumbs, cheddar and parmesan. I also ate the pork with a blueberry-orange sauce that I had in the fridge. Yummy!

Posted by JAY at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Perogies

These were yummy, but pretty unhealthy. But yummy! I didn't make the perogies from scratch. I just melted some butter and oil, fried bacon and onions in it till crispy and tossed with herbs and served it up with cheese and sour cream. Ok... let's see... fat (butter), fat (oil), fat (bacon), not fat (onions), not fat (herbs), fat (cheese) and fat (sour cream). But yummy!

Posted by JAY at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2004

Scalloped Potatos

The scalloped potatoes taste really good, so I thought I'd jot down some notes. This is a pretty classic scalloped potato dish, made with a creamy white sauce. I've added bacon for flavor (I don't cook vegetarian!) and a gratin crust of breadcrumbs and cheese.

It tastes good hot or cold. The best is to chill it in the fridge so that it can be easily cut and then broil it with more breadcrumbs and cheese.

Loose Herbed White Sauce
In a 2 liter+ saucepan:
Fry 3 chopped strips of bacon till crispy.
Add 3 medium sliced onions, black pepper, salt and fry.
Add 1/4 cup of butter and melt.
Stir in 1/3 cup of flour and stir for 7 min.
Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
Whisk/stir in 1 cup cream and 2 cups milk
Bring to a boil, stirring.

Potatoes:
Peel and slice thinly 6-8 yukon gold potatoes

Layer the potatoes and sauce in a large buttered casserole.

Bake covered at 375 degrees F until potatoes are soft (about 2 hours)
Bake uncovered for a while, until top is a bit crispy.

Optional:
Uncover, sprinkle breadcrumbs and grated cheddar. Broil until cheese is bubbling.

Posted by JAY at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2004

Don't start...

... what you can't finish!

Sigh. I just put a HUGE pot of scalloped potatoes in the oven to cook. It's made in the classical manner, with a seasoned loose white sauce (ok, I added bacon). It'll probably take about 2 hours+ to cook, and I'm kind of tired.

I made it because I'm out of rice, don't have any meat thawed and had a lot of dairy in the fridge - cream, milk, cheese (for the crust at the end). I'm a bit worried that the white sauce is a bit thick, but we'll see.

Posted by JAY at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Crab Sh/nack

Was feeling for a snack. Nothing too sweet or too salty. Went searching in the freezer and came up with a couple of king crab legs. A bit of steam later and they were delicious!

I was kind of impatient, so I didn't do anything but cut open the shell and eat them. Next time maybe some melted butter and black pepper would be nice.

Posted by JAY at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

Prime Rib Dinner

Tonight's dinner was an awesome prime rib (on sale at Loblaw's this week) with a reduction of porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, shallots and sun-dried tomatoes.

The beef was awesome - slow roasted at 250 degrees F. The reduction was great on the beef but a bit too acidic on the rice. It would've been perfect on mashed potatoes, but I already had leftover rice in the fridge. Tomorrow, maybe.

Posted by JAY at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Recipe: Lemon Bars

You can take a look at them here.

This recipe is being put here so that I don't lose it. This recipe came from a cookbook I borrowed from the library in grade school. I can't remember the title, but it was "Big Book of Cookies" or something like that. It's very simple and quick to make (at least with a Kitchenaid stand mixer).

I've added the zest of the lemon to the filling to make it even more lemony but not more sour. Using a microplane grater for this works very well - it gets just the yellow part and just cuts it off gently.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
  • 1 c butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c powdered (icing) sugar
  • 2c flour
Cut together like pastry with 2 knives until the pieces look like peas
Press into greased 9x13 pan (or line the pan with parchment paper).
Bake for 15 min at 350 and let cool

Filling:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2c white sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbs lemon juice
  • zest of 2 lemons
Beat eggs/sugar with a whip/whisk attachment until thick and smooth. It'll fall from the spatula in thick ribbons. This will take 10 min, or about 3 with the Kitchenaid stand mixer.
Add the rest and mix well.
Pour over baked layer and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool, then cut and dust with powdered sugar.
Posted by JAY at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

Tempering Chocolate

Made some almond bark for the people at work today (it's some "12 days of Christmas" thing where people sign up for a day and bring snacks.) I don't usually temper white chocolate because you can't see the white bloom on it anyway. However, dark chocolate needs to be tempered because the white streaks are unsightly.

I'v never tempered chocolate before, but I had my electronic meat thermometer handy, so I figured I'd give it a try. Insructions follow (though the link above is the source). It seemed to work well... my test sample of untempered chocolate bloomed white while the tempered chocolate stayed nice and dark.

Melt 2/3 of the chocolate in the double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water that is not touching the bottom of the container holding the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate until it reaches a temperature of approximately 45イ/113ェ.

Remove the top of the double boiler containing the chocolate and place it on a towel on the counter.

Beat in the remaining 1/3 of chopped chocolate letting the mixture cool to approximately: 31イ/87.8ェ for semisweet chocolate, 29イ/84.2ェ for milk chocolate, and 28リC/82.4ェ for white chocolate.

Mixture should be smooth and glossy. Hold at that temperature by moving the container on and off the hot water while you dip or mold your chocolates.

Posted by JAY at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2004

Recipe: Garlic Pasta Plus

This was soo good that I had to eat 2 servings. So now I need to swim, after all. It's an Italian pasta with garlic - except with stuff that I had around tossed in - like bacon fat instead of olive oil! The recipe (with less fatty alternatives) follows. Hmm, according to the timestamp, this recipe took less than 12 minutes to make - not counting the time that the water was coming to a boil. I typed this up as I was finishing my second helping.

Garlic Pasta Plus

fettucini

1/4 cup olive oil or bacon fat
1 shallot/small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
shrimp (optional)
cauliflower (optional)
green onion, chopped
fine bread crumbs
lemon juice (optional)
salt, pepper

Boil the dried fettucini according to the directions, in well salted water.
If your shrimp/veggies are frozen (mine were), defrost them in the boiling water first.
(Veggies should be boiled until tender - a strainer makes defrosting easier.)

While the fettucini cooks (usually about 10 minutes), heat the oil in a large fry pan over medium heat and cook the shallots/onions until translucent.

Add the garlic. Stir, then add the shrimp and veggies. Stir until the shrimp are cooked bright pink.

When the pasta is done, strain it (don't rinse) and then toss it into the frying pan.

Toss the pasta and oil together over heat.

Toss in a handful of bread crumbs and the green onions.

Season generously with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 (or cook more pasta - proportions don't really matter)

Posted by JAY at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Trout and Potatos

Cooked up my free rainbow trout and roasted some of my 1/2 price potatoes with dill and cumin. I ate far too much potatoes - they initially caused me some problems because I chopped too many and they weren't roasting properly because the steam wasn't escaping the pan.

Solved that by cooking from above only - broiling them under the element - and stirring occasionally.

Posted by JAY at 01:38 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2004

The world is my


I had a coupon for $5 off seafood at Loblaws, so I went there and bought 6 oysters. I then had a mass murder in my kitchen as I killed them. I didn't have an oyster shucker, but I managed to pry them open with a butter knife, a steak knife and a hammer... it didn't take more than a minute per oyster, which is less trouble than I remember the last time I tried. I didn't have any lemon juice though, so I only ate one. The rest are in the fridge. I'll probably go back again tomorrow with another coupon!

Posted by JAY at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Caramelized Mushrooms

These were regular white mushrooms that were caramelized in butter and olive oil, and just seasoned with salt and pepper. They were very yummy. In fact, they filled the apartment with the lovely savory umami scent that kept me hungry even after I ate. They replaced my meat for dinner today - I didn't crave meat, but I would've liked some more mushrooms! I tried to get more cheap pizza, but the introductory sale price was over. Rats!

Posted by JAY at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

Cheap Pizza!

Domino's on Main Street is having a sale: medium 1 topping pizzas for $5 each. I picked one up on the way home - it was really good! Past tense - but I didn't eat all of it. I left 2 slices for tomorrows lunch. (Or possibly a midnight snack!)

If the sale is still on tomorrow, I'll pass by for another. It fits well within the budget. Besides which, there's something slightly morbid about enjoying food after witnessing a sad event. I was probably doing some comfort eating - the last slice was definitely stuffing.

Posted by JAY at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

Recipe: Caramel Apples

I made caramel apple tarts with caramel apple sauce. The tart was good, but I'm not the greatest with pastry and they were a lot of work. I don't have any supplies for pastry - I was almost out of flour and I had to use my spaghetti canister as a rolling pin.

The caramel sauce, however, was really good, and quite easy to make!
The recipe follows...

Caramel Apples

2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup of heavy cream
Vanilla extract (optional - I didn't have it today)
6 medium sized Gala apples (optional, if you just want sauce)

Put the sugar in a heavy sauce pan.

Add the water.

Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and it's boiling. Do not stir. The condensation from the lid should wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pot.

After it boils, take the cover off and reduce heat to medium.

Cook until just past straw colored (or a bit more if you want a very strongly flavored caramel sauce).

Remove from heat and stir in the cream and vanilla, adding it slowly. It'll hiss at you - use some care.

Return to the medium heat and boil until reduced by 1/2. Allow to cool until thick and gooey and not too hot.

Stir in sliced apples, if desired. (Gala apples work really well, they hold their shape when they soften). You can season the apples with cinnamon first, if you like. Cook until the apples are the desired tenderness.

Posted by JAY at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2004

Recipe: Slow Roasted Prime Rib

This is a better way of making prime rib. Instead of being cooked at a moderate heat (350F) you cook it at a low heat (245F) for a longer period. The lower heat allows you to get a roast that's medium rare all the way through, rather than well done on the outside and rare on the inside. Instructions follow.


Cut the bone of the rib roast and reserve it for beef stock.

Retie the roast back together again so that it won't fall apart (you might have to combine the twine to make longer pieces if you're using the same twine that the roast came with).

Season the roast all around with salt and black pepper.

Heat a very thin (wiped on, really) layer of vegetable/safflower/peanut oil in a fry pan and heat until very hot. Brown the roast on all sides. (Place the roast in the pan on one side at a time, and don't move it around for a couple minutes - it'll release itself after a bit.) Use this pan to cook the sauce in after, it'll have good brown bits.

Put the roast on a rack in the oven (over a pan!) at 245F until an internal temperature of 150F is reached.

Cover the roast loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes at least before cutting. This will give the juices a chance to redistribute themselves into the flesh.

Posted by JAY at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Poofy Yorkshires

Whoa! The Yorkshire puddings really puffed this time - they came right out of the pan! Another tip about making puffed yorkshires is to use a non-stick pan. Just make sure that it's a metallic non-stick that's capable of handling high heat. The teflon non-stick muffin sheets can't handle the high (450 degree F) heat and will break down into potentially nasty compounds.

Posted by JAY at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2004

Chowder

THis is for tomorrow -- today I had leftover noodles. I had reserved the mussel juice from yesterday's dish and about 1/2 the mussels. So I added leeks and a bit of cream, along with some salmon, shrimp and scallops from the freezer to make this chowder. It tastes really good. (I just had a tiny taste.)

Posted by JAY at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

Pan Custard and Sauce

Yeah, I don't know what this is. I wanted a dessert, but I really don't have all the stuff for a dessert. So I made this pan custard - eggs, cream and sugar gently cooked on the stovetop. It was ok. I'll only use 2 eggs next time, it was a bit thick. Far better was the sauce, made out of homemade blueberry jam and orange juice puree. It looked better before I added the cream to it, so that's a lesson for next time. You can kind of see that 1/2 of it is a paler purple and half is the rich jewel tone.

Posted by JAY at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2004

Mussels w Black Bean Sauce

This is what I made with half of the mussels. I steamed all of the mussels so that they wouldn't spoil (die) in the fridge. I made sure not to overcook the thai rice noodles this time - three minutes flat and rinced after to stop cooking. The sauce is flavored with all my "asian" flavorings - sesame seed oil, ginger, garlic and onions and, finally, black bean sauce. Chili powder was added as a spice. I had 2 big plates of this, and there's enough there for tomorrow as well.

Posted by JAY at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

Lunchtime pasta

This was lunch today, the remainder of some sauce that was cooked Sunday (I think). It was quite yummy. When cooking pasta with sauce before you put the pasta on the plate you can toss the pasta with a bit of the sauce and then top it off with sauce on the plate. This way, the pasta itself will absorb some of the flavor as it "sets" after cooking.

Posted by JAY at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2004

Recipe: Herbed Salmon

No snacks in the house - I'll still be eating. This is actually my SECOND snack of the night. The first one was a substantial snack of roasted potatoes and squash! I'm wishing now that I had frozen less of the salmon. I'm all out of unfrozen salmon. This is a 8 minute dish - recipe follows.

Herb-Encrusted Salmon Filet
Salmon filets (3/4 inch or thinner, preferably)
Dried herbs (Thyme, oregano)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt
Olive oil

Place the salmon filets skin down and flesh up. They should be not more than 3/4" thick, unless you want to finish them in the oven.

Season the flesh generously with dried herbs, salt and black pepper. The herbs should be robust ones - I used oregano and thyme. Dill would also be good.

Heat a skillet to medium high heat and put olive oil in it (enough to lightly coat the pan when tilted). You'll notice that the oil thins and swirls easily when it is hot enough. You can save some time by heating it as you season the fish.

Place salmon flesh side down in the the oil. It should sizzle nicely. Cook for a few minutes, until you can see from the sides that it's cooked about 1/3 of the way up.

Season the top (skin side) of the salmon with salt and pepper while it's in the pan.

Using tongs or a spatula and fork, gently flip the salmon and finish cooking (another 4-5 minutes). You can cook it longer because the skin will protect the flesh on this side from drying out.

If your filets were very thick (like an inch) then place it in a 350 degree F oven until cooked (test with a fork).

Do not overcook! The flesh should just barely flake and still be moist and tender. Opt to undercook rather than overcook this - you can microwave it if necessary. You can also just let the cooked salmon sit on the counter for a few minutes- the heat will continue to cook the flesh.

Posted by JAY at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

October 31, 2004

Herb-crusted Salmon

Mmm, tasty. I took another piece of salmon, encrusted it with dried herbs (oregano and thyme), salt and pepper and then pan-fried it in olive oil. It was very very good.

It was accompanied by a Mediterranean-style fried rice - with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Posted by JAY at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2004

Salmon Filets

Here's the finished product - the salmon has been seasoned simply with salt and pepper, floured and pan-fried. Accompanying it are roasted acorn squash and cremini mushrooms. The cremini mushrooms are really good - they have less water than the ordinary white mushrooms, so they shrink less and have more flavor.

Posted by JAY at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Dinner 2: Roast Pork

OK, in my defence, I DID swim today and dinner was pretty light. So I was planning on eating about this much more food today (and have leftover pork for tomorrow). Unfortunately, the potatoes were so tasty and were done long before the pork, so I snacked on about 2x the amount that you see here. Fat filled goodness. At least I got in my veggies today, though.

Posted by JAY at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

Supper Pasta

This was really yummy - scallops and shrimp in a leek and garlic cream sauce. Unfortunately I had 2 big platefuls. The parents called and interrupted my enjoyment of the first place, so I had another one in peace.

Posted by JAY at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Bacon and Eggs, Biscuit

I woke up too late to go swimming, so I made myself some bacon (pancetta, actually)and eggs for breakfast. This is actually plated on a tiny dessert plate, so it's not that big. The egg isn't actually overcooked - it's still all soft - it just looks brown because I cooked it in the brown pancetta grease.

Posted by JAY at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

Fried Steak


On the menu tonight was fried steak (a cheap cubed hip piece - it cost about $1.25 for the portion shown), roasted cauliflower and a piece of buttered french bread (both out of the freezer).

Strangely, it was the cauliflower that tasted the best, even though I'm more of a carnivore by nature. The cubed meat was a bit hamburger-like, especially after being pounded thin.

Posted by JAY at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

Spaghetti


Had a mixed-meat spaghetti made from leftovers in the fridge and new stuff from the store. The sauce (originally made by Dom) had a meatball in it, and I added some sausage and a few shrimp. And of course I misjudged the amount of pasta I was cooking, so there was a lot of food. I ate it all, of course.

Posted by JAY at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2004

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo


Linda gave me a nice spaghetti squash. I baked it and smothered it in a fat filled cream sauce with leeks and garlic.

It was a nice vegetarian meal - all the healthy aspect of that was totally undone by all the fat. Heavy cream, butter and olive oil. It tasted pretty good, but I don't feel any righteous healthiness about it!

Posted by JAY at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

Spaghetti Carbonara

I made spaghetti carbonara for dinner today - this picture is actually my second plate! (Ungh, ate too much...) I should've used less pasta - there wasn't really enough sauce. Still, it tasted really good. I've got a pot of split pea soup on the stove now simmering.

Posted by JAY at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2004

Carbonara

I could only resist for so long...

Cream, egg yolks, butter, pancetta and bacon - mmm. Didn't have any parmesan, but that's ok, it's pretty rich as it is.

Leftover pasta, so I'm limited to only a bit.

Posted by JAY at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2004

2 Min Pasta Assembly


Sigh... the cauliflower opened up my appetite. I went to lick the pan and realized that there was some good fond (brown roasty bits) there. Out came the leftover penne pasta (thanks Dom!). Out came the leftover mushrooms and onions from my steak yesterday. A quick heat and toss with some extra salt and pepper and voila! A 2 minute pasta dish!

Posted by JAY at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower and Pancetta


It may not look like much, but it tasted SO good. I eat oddly on the weekends. This would be more of a side dish, but I had it for a snack. Pat got me the fresh cauliflower straight from the farmer's field and I had the pancetta (italian bacon) in the fridge. It takes no time to prepare and about 1/2 hour to cook with no supervision.

The cauliflower browns slightly and gets a rich nutty flavor that's enhanced by the smoky flavor of the pancetta.

Recipe:
Divide the cauliflower into medium sized florets by using a sharp knife at the base (rather than trying to chop from the top, which would be messy).

Arrange the cauliflower in 1 layer in a shallow pan/tray/skillet.

Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Arrange a layer of pancetta (you can substitute bacon) on top.

Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for about a 1/2 hour. You should see some light browning on the cauliflower.

If I had some parmagiano reggiano I might have grated some on top, but it tasted lovely as is.

Posted by JAY at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Potato Leek Soup Pic

Here's the soup with some yorkshires that I made today. The soup was left over, so I just fried some bacon and used the fat for the yorkshire puddings. Mmmm... of course, then I ate 7 of them and I still feel bloated, even hours later.

Posted by JAY at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2004

Dinner with Linda

Linda came over for dinner tonight. I made a potato-leek soup, some yorkshire puddings and we had ice cream and cookies for desert while we talked about everything under the sun - work, real estate, spending habits...

It was a fun evening!

Posted by JAY at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2004

Pork Stir Fry

Dinner was a pork and bok choy stir fry. I also tested out a potato-leek soup. There's enough of both left back for lunch tomorrow. For lunch today I fried the other 1/2 of yesterday's pork chop (mmm, good!).

Posted by JAY at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

Fried Pork Chop

Recipe: 10 Minutes Pan Fried Pork Chop

This was SO good. You either need to have a really big pan or cook them one at a time. Take 1 boneless butt chop and cut it in half. Season both halves generously with salt, pepper and italian seasoning.

Flour both sides thoroughly, PRESSING both sides of the chop into the flour so that it spreads until thin and almost doubled in size. Heat a bit of oil until very hot in a skillet. Fry for about 3 minutes per side, turning down the heat if necessary.

The one chop should feed 2 people - it looks much bigger when flattened.

Total time including cooking is about 10 minutes.

Posted by JAY at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

Recipe: Yorkshire Puddings

Ok, I think I've got it down pat now! This is the first time that I've made it with my crappy old electric oven, and it still turned out great. They puffed nicely and left nearly all of the oil behind in the pan when I removed them - no sticking. I didn't have enough eggs, so I made 2/3rds of the recipe. 8 puddings. Guess how many I ate? (Hint: all of them.)

Recipe below...
Yorkshire Pudding
Whisk together in order:
  • 4 eggs (1 cup)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 big pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Let the mixture stand covered at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat the muffin pan for about 7 minutes.

Put about 1 tsp of vegetable oil/clarified butter/beef drippings in each of the 12 hot muffin molds. Heat the oiled pan for another 7 minutes.

Briefly whisk the mixture before dividing it among the muffin molds (about 1/2 full each).

Cook for 10 minutes (until puffed and golden) and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove them from the muffin tray and serve hot.
Posted by JAY at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

Curry Prevents Leukemia in Children

Seriously!

Apparently the pigment in turmeric, the spice that gives curry it's yellow color, inhibits leukemia cell multiplication and protects against enviromental damage (cigarette smoke, processed food).

So feed your children curry! (recipe)

Posted by JAY at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

Mmm, fennel bread!

I just sent Dom a "begging email" asking him to get the recipe for his mom's fennel oil biscuits (I'll have to get the Italian name for that, too...)

I had one microwave and then oven warmed today with some frozen split pea soup (which I have to make more of) and they were PERFECT together. Mmm. I've been trying to eat out all the leftovers from my fridge/freezer, which is why there haven't been many food posts lately.

Posted by JAY at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2004

Dinner 2: Curried Chicken

Sigh. I suck.

Well, I cooked this for tomorrow, but I should know better. I ate a good sized helping tonight, too. This one got some nice Chinese ginger seasoning. It's a bit too spicy, though. I missed on the curry powder when I was shaking it from the bottle. Tomorrow I'll go grocery shopping and pick up some more chickpeas to mellow it out a bit (and maybe some peppers and spinach).

Posted by JAY at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

Dinner: Cream of Broccoli

Tonight before swimming I had Cream of Broccoli soup that I made yesterday along with some more shrimp chips. The soup was made tasty with leeks, pancetta, old cheddar along with the usual suspects, carrot and onion. As always, I made the soup too thick, so I thinned it down.

Next time I make it, though, I'll fry the pancetta first and then remove it so that it doesn't get pureed. I'll also cook the broccoli softer before adding it too the soup. Finally, I'll make sure to have some chicken stock on hand - the beef stock tastes fine, but dulls the color of the soup.

Posted by JAY at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2004

Recipe: Breaded Pork

This was SO good. I made enough for lunch and ate them both. Wah! The basic breading technique is this:
Take seasoned (either marinated or brined) boneless pork chops.
Dip them in unseasoned flour.
Dip them in whisked raw egg (1 egg is plenty).
Dip them in seasoned breadcrumbs or panko (you can season with black pepper and italian seasoning).
Fry in hot oil.

The flour helps the egg to stick which sticks the bread crumbs very firmly. Otherwise, your breading won't stick very well.

While I had the oil hot I also fried some shrimp chips.
I'm still feasting on the memories!

Posted by JAY at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

Soup and Sandwich

This was dinner tonight. I made a big pot of split pea soup (froze most of it). I also brined a turkey thigh and seasoned it with Linda's herbs before roasting it. I put it on a sweet potato bun that Mom gave me a while ago and topped it with mayo and red peppers. It was pretty salty because it stayed in the brine longer than I had planned - it tasted almost like luncheon meat! I'll either have to make a less concentrated brine next time or not soak it for as long.

The soup was better this time though. The pork hock had less bone and I was more careful when salting it.

Posted by JAY at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

Seafood Curry


Made this last night and had it for lunch and dinner today. Pat D joined me for lunch. She seemed to like it :) This is a very cost effective dish to make because it only takes a pack of seafood that costs about $3.

Posted by JAY at 09:59 PM | Comments (2)

August 18, 2004

Omelette

Didn't take a picture of it, because I'm in a bit of a rush to go swimming. Made a quick omelette for dinner with Pat's parsley, onion, mushrooms, cheddar and parmesan. It tasted good... strangely, it smelled and tasted very much like sour cream and onion chips.

Whatever.

Posted by JAY at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2004

High-Carbing

I'm definitely short on protein this week - this was dinner and lunch today (and snack yesterday). Yesterday it didn't taste as good as it should have - not for a homemade saucee enriched with fresh basil, mushrooms, pork/veal/beef and fresh thyme. Today, I realized the problem... I was really full yesterday, after having dinner and strawberry cream pancakes. Today it tasted great - especially with some parmagiano grated on top of the cheddar.

It's pasta week today... I just enriched my curry noodle sauce with sausage and zuchinni. I've got a big pot of cooked pasta in the fridge.

Finally, for dessert today I had some bits of bread with jam and butter. Mmmm.
I did swim today, too.

Posted by JAY at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2004

Dinner with Jen

Jen came over for a night of conversation and food. This was the first major cook I've had in my kitchen and it went really well. Of course, I'm a bit short on seating, so I may have to work on that a little, somehow.

The menu:

  • Fresh angel hair pasta with shrimp and mussels in a homemade tomato pasta with leeks and fresh basil
  • Penne with shrimp and scallop cream sauce
  • Bread with homemade garlic-herb butter

Dessert was warm cookies with whipped cream and fresh peaches. I forgot to take a picture of that.

Posted by JAY at 10:39 PM | Comments (2)

August 11, 2004

Curry Noodles

Today was pretty rushed. I cooked the sauce for these noodles and ate them while doing my laundry so that I could rush to the pool.

The sauce is cumin and onions fried in oil, with curry powder/chili/flour added and cooked for a bit. Finally, milk was added to make a creamy sauce.

I can feel myself stiffening up, though. I hope I didn't overdo it!

Posted by JAY at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2004

Lamb Sandwich

Ate a couple of the things I bought while grocery shopping for dinner. This is a lamb sandwich with mushrooms, onions and homemade mayo (made with the immersion blender that Sean and Jackie gave me). It was good, but I didn't have quite enough meat for the amount of bread. Also, I'm not sure that the mayo was worth the trouble... Hellman's tastes fine. I'll be having the same stuff over rice tomorrow for lunch.

Posted by JAY at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2004

Italian Ragu

According to an Italian cooking show that I'm watching now, a good cream ragu (sauce) uses the classic onion/carrot/celery dice browned and a meat mix of beef/veal/pork before adding cream and simmering for 45 min.

I happen to have all of those meats in the freezer. She's layering a white sauce, parmasan cheese, pasta and meat sauce to make a lasagna alla bolognese. Whoa. That's a lot of fat.

Posted by JAY at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2004

Split Pea Soup Recipe

I decided that I like the split pea soup enought to want to make it again. So here's the recipe. What makes it taste good is the smoked pork hock (I got mine at Loblaws).

Split Pea Soup
Saute in a pan in medium heat for about 7 minutes (until soft):
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, washed and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 leek, white part only, washed well and diced
Turn heat to high and add/cook for 5 minutes:
  • 1 TBS dried thyme
  • 1 generous pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 pork hock
  • 3 cups dried split peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • generous grinding of black pepper
Finally, add
  • 2 L low salt/no salt chicken stock/water
  • some leftover tomato juice (optional)
Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove the smoked pork, blend the soup with a hand mixer/immersion blender until it's as smooth as you want it.
Salt to taste. You'll have to re-salt later when you eat the soup.
Remove the meat, fat and skin from the pork hock and add them back to the soup.
Cool the soup, bottle it and freeze it.
To eat the soup, mix about 2/3 soup concentrate with 1/3 water, heat, salt to taste and enjoy. (You can do this with the hot soup too, for an immediate meal.)
Posted by JAY at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Split Pea Soup

Sean and Jackie gave me an immersion blender as a housewarming present (not that I had a housewarming party). Thanks, guys! It worked really well - maybe too well! I got a bit carried away and ended up pureeing my soup.

Also, I oversalted by accident. The smoked ham hock that I put in for flavor was surprisingly not very salty. I guess I over-compensated with the salt. Oops. (And darn - that smoked ham was expensive!)

Update: it was just too concentrated... now I really like it and here's the recipe.

Posted by JAY at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004

Italian Everything Pasta

Made this pasta (from the leftover boiled pasta) for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. In retrospect, I should've left out the italian seasoning, as the "sauce" was very dry and the rosemary didn't have time to soften.

The sausage was perfect though - I started it in a smoking hot pan and it got a crispy brown crust all around it. Mushrooms, roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil and onion rounded out the dish. Tasted great - except for the rosemary, which I picked out.

Posted by JAY at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Oh Sugar!

Bleah, I was all set to have some peaches and whipped cream, but I can't find my bottle of sugar! Maybe it's for the best, as my peaches aren't quite ripe yet. Argh, how frustrating!

Posted by JAY at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2004

"Chicken" stock

Haven't eaten much today yet, but I've done a lot of food preparation.

Boiled a pot of bones (chicken/pork/beef) with some onion, celery and carrots to make a few jars of stock. I'll use some of it for a curry later today. I've already cut up and seasoned the chicken. I snacked on the meatier bones.

Posted by JAY at 04:33 PM

July 29, 2004

Mango

Had the awesomest mango. I'm not really a fruit fan, because of the variability involved - and nothing is as variable as a mango. It was perfect - sweet, dripping with juice and wasn't fibrous at all. Mmmm.

Sleepy time now.

Posted by JAY at 01:38 AM

July 25, 2004

Shrimp Pasta

Well, it tastes good, but not great. I didn't have any butter yesterday for the sauce, so I substituted olive oil. The oil has enough flavor that it doesn't let all the shrimp flavor through. It still tastes good, but not as shrimpy as I'd like.

The brocolli was also past its prime - I let it stay in the fridge for too long and it was just starting to flower. Good thing I made the cheese sauce, because I probably wouldn't have eaten it otherwise. I've got enough cheese sauce and shrimp sauce to last the week.

Posted by JAY at 11:29 PM

July 24, 2004

Cheap Eats

Spent about $4 on food today and was pretty healthy, too.

Breakfast was a delicious apple that Dom gave me on Friday at work. I ate it while walking to the music store. I'm always skeptical about buying fruit because I get pretty bitter if it's not sweet. This apple was great, though - thanks Dom!

I had a coupon for McDonalds for a free Veggie Burger with any drink purchase, so I got a$1.39 chocolate milk (for some calcium) and the VBurger. It was ok, surprisingly meat-like but a bit salty. I would have preferred something that wasn't trying to be meat - more like a falafel or ground chick pea patty.

Dinner was a large plate of pasta with a shrimp cream sauce. It didn't have much shrimp because the meal was really for tomorrow. I made a cheese sauce (for brocolli or pasta) at the same time, since they start out the same. The sauces should be enough for 2 days of food (at about $5/day).

Posted by JAY at 11:25 PM

July 21, 2004

Food: Sausage & Rice

Cooked for tomorrow, since I already ate at Debbie's and had no lunch for tomorrow. I froze 2 bowls of chilli so that I could have them another time (there's about 2 days worth left). I'll be buying lunch on Friday in Richmond Hill, so I'll cook a shrimp dinner. Still got Pat's romaine to eat out - maybe I'll wilt it tomorrow with my sausage.

Budget-wise tomorrow: $2.50 to $3 (yay!)

Posted by JAY at 10:58 PM

July 19, 2004

Recipe: Chilli

This doesn't look like it's a big portion, but that's a bowl, not a plate. It's a quick chilli, it only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cook. The secret to a really good chilli is to use real beef (as opposed to ground) with cross-cut bones (exposed marrow) to flavor the sauce. Here, I've used beef short ribs.

The only thing with the beef short ribs is that the actual bone pieces have a bit of tough wrapper right around the bone. These would benefit from a couple of hours in a medium oven. The meat around the bones, however, is as tender as can be. So save the bones for leftovers while eating the meat.

Quick Chilli
(makes about 2 litres)
*optional
+optional, used here

Chop the meat from around a large pack of
  • beef short ribs
into about pinky finger sized pieces and season with
  • 2 sliced onions
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1 tbs of ground (not powdered) chili
  • +generous dried thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano
  • *chopped fresh chilli peppers
  • *a few chipotle peppers
Coat the bottom of a heavy large pot (cast iron is ideal) with
  • vegetable oil
and heat until very hot. Add the seasoned meat to the hot pan and stir to brown it. Stir in
  • 1 medium can red beans (drained, not rinsed)
  • a couple of handfuls of chopped mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • *1/2 a red pepper, chopped
  • *finely chopped carrots
  • *1 stalk of celery, chopped
Finally, add
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes (reserve liquid)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (1/2 can)
Salt to taste and add chilli pepper until it's hot enough for you.
Lower heat and stir occasionally until cooked (about 1/2 hour).
If it's getting too dry, add some of the reserved tomato liquid.
At this point, you can serve the non-bone parts over rice and leave the bone pieces cooking for another couple of hours on really low heat or in the oven at 300 degrees F.
Posted by JAY at 05:29 PM

July 17, 2004

Recipe: Pork Medallions


I'm supposed to be eating less than before, not more!! But when I ate lunch, there wasn't enough rice to leave back and I ate out the spinach with the rest of the curry. (The picture is below in the read-more... it's an unholy amount of food.)

For dinner, I made pork medallions and wilted lettuce. I also tried cooking the rice differently, but I didn't like it as well as my usual method. It's a lot of food, but I ended up putting half the pork (well, almost 1/2, I started to nibble) back in the fridge with more lettuce for another meal.

Pork Medallions
Rub both sides of

  • 3/4 inch pork medallions
with
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed garlic
  • dried thyme
Sprinkle both sides with a bit of
  • flour (optional)
Coat a skillet with
  • vegetable/safflower/canola oil
and heat to medium high.

Put the pork into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side.
Flip only once and don't move it around in the pan. It'll stick at first - that's what you want, browning. Eventually, it's own juices will loosen it for you to turn.

Posted by JAY at 11:20 PM

July 13, 2004

First Meal: Curry


ith the supplies I bought I made enough curry to last for 3 days - the supplies cost a total of about $8. Yay! I've budgeted about $8 per day for food (not including eating out) so hopefully I'll be able to continue this trend.

It's a bit strange cooking on an electric stove - you can't really tell how hot the burner is until the food starts reacting to it. I originally started it out too hot and had to quickly switch burners and add the simmering liquid - canned chicken broth and a tiny bit of cream. It tastes great, though.

Posted by JAY at 11:40 PM

May 09, 2004

Mother's Day Cake

Made a black forest cake for dessert on Mother's Day. I cheated with canned cherries, but it still tasted good. Making the chocolate curls was a pain in the butt and I made too many. There's still a bowl of them in the freezer. And yeah, that's a lot of whipped cream.

Posted by JAY at 06:52 PM

Shrimp Cream Sauce

The main course for the Mother's Day Dinner was Shimp Cream Sauce over penne. It was yummy :) The side dishes were another leg of lamb (it's still on sale), braised leeks with more shrimp and steamed asparagus.

Posted by JAY at 06:44 PM

May 02, 2004

Anniversary Mussel Pasta

This was the other course, a pasta (rotini) with mussels steamed in champagne. I also added portobello mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. It was tossed in the same herb pesto that the lamb was coated in.

I could've used more herbs - I meant the dish to turn out looking a bit more green. The mussels were good, though.

Posted by JAY at 06:55 PM

April 29, 2004

Pastry Puffs

Mom made some choux pastry puffs, so I did the pastry cream (a really rich custard) and chocolate glaze (semi sweet chocolate with a little butter). I had some extra of both, so I mixed it together to make a chocolate pudding.

This is one of those recipes that I don't really think is worth the trouble. Assembling the 3 things doesn't really add to the experience in any way.

Posted by JAY at 08:09 PM

April 21, 2004

Appreciation Day

Staff appreciation day at the office today, so we got free food :)

Vegetarian lasagna and salad were just ok, but the chicken in tomato sauce was actually awesome! Yum.

Also got a nice pen.

Posted by JAY at 07:46 PM

April 11, 2004

Recipe: Custard

I made some custard yesterday. It was a bit rich, and didn't set perfectly (although, I didn't wait for them to cool all the way, so that might have been the problem). Next time, I think I'll substitute 3 whole eggs for 5 of the yolks. Still, it was yummy.

Update: when cool, it was a perfect consistency - just barely solid. What a lot of fat, though...

Read on for the recipe.

Classic Custard

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In the microwave, heat until dissolved, stirring every minute

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cups sugar

Meanwhile, set a large pan of water to boil on the stove.

In a smaller bowl, blend with a fork:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dollop of maple syrup (optional)

Take a few tablespoons of the heated cream mixture at a time and stir it into the egg yolks (this is so the eggs gradually rise in temperature, and don't solidify). Once you've got about 1 cup of heated cream in the eggs, you can pour the egg mix into the cream mixture, while stirring.

Strain and discard any solids.

Line a shallow large pan with a tea cloth and arrange 8 ramekins/small bowls on the tea cloth. The ramekins should hold between 2/3 and 3/4 cups.

Divide the custard mixture among the ramekins. Pour the steaming water into the shallow pan, being careful not to get any in the ramekins.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the centers are barely set and just jiggle slightly. Check every few minutes after the first 30 minutes.

Cool on a tray, refridgerate if desired (or if storing) and then enjoy!

Posted by JAY at 01:33 PM

April 09, 2004

Recipe: Salmon Rose Pasta

Made more meringues last night, with this for dinner. Unfortunately, I didn't have any cream, so it wasn't as rich as it should have been. Salmon scraps are really cheap - I think these were $3, and boneless to boot.

Was just a bit peeved that this morning I was given grief for not washing the dishes that everyone ate off of last night. I mean, I did most of the pots/pans/baking dishes as I cooked, and it was 10:30 when we left the table. I even rinsed the dishes so they wouldn't harden. But apparently, despite the appreciation expressed for the meal, it wasn't sufficient.

Salmon Rose Cream Sauce

Fry in a sauce pan, stirring constantly:

  • 1/4 cup of butter/olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • fresh black pepper

until the onions are lightly browned.

Lower the heat to medium low, and stir in all at once:

  • 1/4 cup of flour

Cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Stir in a mixture of

  • 1/4 cup of butter/olive oil
  • 3 chopped/ground garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground thyme

Add and keep stirring:

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk

Raise the heat and when the mixture starts to thicken, add
  • 1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes (I used some homemade salsa)
  • about 1 1/2 cups of salmon scraps

You'll have to stir a bit more carefully to avoid breaking up the salmon.

Once it's hot again, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until the salmon is cooked (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Salt to taste and serve over pasta.

Posted by JAY at 11:22 AM

April 07, 2004

Meringues


Made some quick meringues. Meringues are both simple and a bit tricky. They're not supposed to color very much. They should be a pale cream color (the white ones in the bakeries are done with chemicals) and they dry out more than they bake. I didn't really have a recipe.

I had a traumatic experience once when I was younger - my mother got tired of waiting for my meringues to finish so she turned up the heat. They flopped into a soggy mess. She only told me what she did after I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong!

Read on for the recipe.

Classic Meringues

Preheat oven to 285 degrees F.

Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Gradually beat in at higher speed until stiff peaks are formed:

  • 3/4 Cups granulated sugar

It should still be glossy and get really smooth. If it starts to get clumpy and cloud-like, then you've over-beat the egg whites.

Fold in with a spatula:

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and drop tablespoons of the meringue onto the sheet. Bake them for about 1 1/2 hours in the oven. If they're starting to brown too much (check through the window) then lower the heat by 5 degrees after 30 minutes. Mine turned out a bit too brown.

Posted by JAY at 06:08 PM

April 01, 2004

FoodNotes: Squid!

Made a seafood curry for dinner today.

When cooking squid, there's a good rule of thumb: 2 minutes or 2 hours.

Any longer than 2 minutes, and the squid is chewy. However, after 2 hours, any cartilege has relaxed and it gets tender again. My squid was already positively crunchy - I was afraid that it would be inedible! But after 2 hours of gentle simmering in the curry it was nice and tender. In the last 20 minutes I added shrimp, fish and mussels. It was yummy.

For some reason, curried fish reminds me very strongly of the Carribean.

Posted by JAY at 07:01 PM

March 31, 2004

Training, Soft and Fuzzy

TOday I went with the office on "Client Service Training", where they were trying to teach me how not to be a grumpy LAN administrator. Well, not just me - more the people serving the public.

The food wasn't bad, but the training was boring. Stuff about the 'meaning of life' and finding your 'colors'. A lot of slow reading from slides and playing of pointless games.

I'm glad there was a lot of food, because I swam this morning and was famished. So I had a croissant and coffee for breakfast. The lunch was huge. It started with a rather bland fettucini Alfredo, continued with some juicy roast chicken breast (mmm!), roasted potatoes and unremarkable veggies (which were at least fresh). It ended with a nice berry tart with rather uninspiring (premade) pastry/filling - it wasn't even warm. Still, it tasted pretty good.

Finally, for break, there were some fresh cookies that were very nice and buttery.

Posted by JAY at 05:05 PM

March 28, 2004

Dinner

Had a very saucy dinner tonight. I roasted a top sirloin which turned out quite well, nice and tender. To go with it, I made a gravy and 2 cheese sauces for the rice and a ton of brocolli and cauliflower. It wasn't too much extra work, because I used the same roux (butter/flour mixture) seasoned for all the sauces. I loaded up on veggies rather than rice, since I love them with cheese sauce.

I ended up eating too much and now I feel slightly sick...

Posted by JAY at 07:03 PM

March 27, 2004

Pirogies and Cinnamon Buns

I woke up late today, so I didn't get to eat until abou 2pm. I made some pirogies, though not from scratch. They were just the frozen no-name brand ones. One day, I'll have to try making them myself. To spruce them up a bit after boiling them, they were pan fried with onions and sausages. I didn't have any sour cream.

I just finished making a 1/2 batch of Cinnamon Buns. They turned out well - except that I ended up eating 4 or 5 of them (I lost count). No dinner for me!

Posted by JAY at 08:22 PM

February 16, 2004

Recipe: J's Mango Shrimp Salad

Happily, Trev and Rucell enjoyed their meal. I'm told it went fairly well, with the exception of a minor stovetop fire (apparently, Trev has issues when it comes to boiling water) and a forgotten loaf of bread in the oven.

Oh, and apparently Rucell doesn't like asparagus (either that, or Trev cooked them funny and she was just being tactful!).

Rucell wanted the recipe for the ad hoc (created from Trevor's description, with shrimp added) mango salad that we made (yay! she liked it!), so it follows...

J's Mango Shrimp Salad
(see, I can name it after myself, since this one's a semi-original!)
Serves 2.

This salad is made with ripe mangos, rather than green ones (unlike the one Trev described). However, the mangos should still be firm, not mushy. Definitely err on the side of slightly under-ripe for this recipe (ie. yielding slightly to the touch).

If the salad is sour, you can add a bit of sugar. We didn't have to.

Also, this salad is best well chilled - warm mangoes can taste slightly of turpentine.

I don't like coriander/cilantro - but a little of it here tastes good. And if you like it, definitely put more (as in, a large handful).

Scallions develop a slightly soapy taste when they're cut too far ahead. So chopping them right before serving is best. (We didn't, we just tossed them right into the mango mix, since they weren't supposed to be concentrating on cooking on Valentine's.)

  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled and julienned, seeds discarded
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced very thinly
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, minced finely, seeds removed
  • 1 (?) tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • couple of pinches of powdered chili, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 generous pinch of salt, or to taste

Mix the above in a medium sized bowl.

In a small fry pan, over medium heat, heat

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

When it's hot (a drop of water flicked in should sizzle), dump in:

  • several shrimp (as much as you like), unpeeled, heads removed if they're there
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Fry and stir the shrimp until they're just pink all round. The garlic shouldn't really be browning at all - burned garlic tastes horrible.

Then, turn off the heat and after they cool a bit, dump the mixture, oil and all, into the mango mixture and stir.

Refrigerate covered for at least an hour, up to 5 hours to let the flavors blend.

Before serving, chop and toss in

  • 1 green onion/scallion

and serve.

We didn't try this, but with a bit of extra oil, vinegar and salt, you could probably toss this with lettuce to feed more people. Preparing the mango is a hassle that I wouldn't want to do for more than 3 people.

Posted by JAY at 11:30 AM

February 05, 2004

Recipe: Cinnamon Buns


This recipe has been superseded by this one which was even better!

So I've been eating and eating and eating on my week of rest - Mary Brown's, McDonalds, Swiss Chalet... and then I came home and made cinnamon buns. They were yummy - I ate three of them. Groan! I'm not very good with yeast doughs - the recipes are irritatingly imprecise - so my Mom showed me how to make these.

The recipe here is huge, and really imprecise. It makes about 3x the amount of buns in the picture... that's a LOT of buns.

My mom doesn't put a lot of brown sugar filling in them, but I like a lot of sugar... And since both of my parents just had 4 of the buns, I think they like the sugar too!

Cinnamon Buns

Mix in a bowl:

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Heat in a pan until very hot to the touch:

  • 3/4 cups of evaporated milk
  • 4 cups of water

Mix with a fork:
  • 3 eggs

Stir all of the above ingredients together, eggs last so that the hot water doesn't cook them.

Stir in more flour until it's too stiff to stir anymore.

Then use your hand to knead the mixture while adding more flour, until the dough isn't sticky anymore. A good technique is to lift the dough ball (once there's enough flour for it to hold together), put about 1/2 a cup of flour underneath it and then knead on top of it to incorporate the flour as it sticks to the bottom.

(See, I have no idea how much flour I've added...)

Let the dough rest covered with a damp cloth in a warm location for about 20 minutes.

Then punch the dough down and knead until smooth. You can liberally use flour to prevent the dough from sticking to anything.

Divide the dough into 3 pieces.

For each piece:

Roll them out into a large, thin rectangle about 2 cm thick.

Spread the dough with a thin but generous layer of softened butter -- but leave a one inch strip bare along a long edge.

Sprinkle the butter with brown sugar (thin layer) and cinnamon (out of the sprinkler).

Roll along the long edge starting opposite the bare strip. Try to roll it tightly.

When you get to the end, crimp the bare strip to the roll to seal the roll.

Cut into 1 1/2 inch circles.

Place these circles about one inch apart in a generously greased baking pan (you can see that I used a huge cast iron pan - I also used some rectangular glass bakeware.

You can sprinkle the pan with some brown sugar if you want (it makes a slightly crunchy-gooey caramel bottom on the buns, but it also makes the pans a bit hard to clean). We did it both ways.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cover the rolls with a warm cloth and let them rise for about 1/2 an hour or until they're almost 1/3 bigger than they used to be.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 26 minutes.

Let them rest for about 5 minutes and then take them out of the pan and onto a rack.

Stir with a fork:

  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Drizzle this icing over the buns.

Posted by JAY at 10:12 PM

January 28, 2004

Essentials: Chocolate


I love chocolate! But there's a world of difference between good quality chocolate and the baby-killing Ne$tle. And the difference goes far beyond baby-killing - it's a matter of taste.

Try this experiment: Buy a bar of Lindt chocolate from your local grocery store. (It's cheaper there than in a department store.) You can buy milk chocolate or dark. Make sure to get a bar, and not one of the filled chocolates.

Now, get the same kind of Cadbury chocolate.

Taste them side by side. Notice how the cheap chocolate makes a sugary paste that sticks to your tongue. Contrast that with the smooth cream of the Lindt chocolate. If you bought dark chocolate, notice how the Lindt chocolate tastes just as strong but not nearly as bitter. You might also notice a faint cherry overtone in the more complex Lindt taste - unlike the flat taste of the cheap chocolate. If you bought one with nuts, notice how much more crisp the nuts in the Lindt bar.

In this case, you get what you pay for. It's well worth eating quality instead of quantity.

Incidentally, we recently picked up some marked-down German (?) Niederegger chocolates that were really good - these were mostly liquor truffle filled, but you could taste the higher quality ingredients - dense nut pastes and lightly pralined nuts. These were $20 retail, marked down to $6. They were SO good.

The only problem was that there was so much variety in them that you couldn't really try them all without eating half the box. We went through 3 boxes.

Mmm, marked down holiday chocolate.

Posted by JAY at 07:18 PM

January 11, 2004

FoodFoodFood!

I spent Sunday evening cooking for the rest of the week! First up were the butter tarts, which I think should be done at a bit lower temperature, as some of the sugar bubbled over the side and burned. My mother had made the pastry, so I just had to roll it out and make the filling.

For dinner I made a pork roast with some roasted veggies and rice, with enough leftovers for a couple of days. Since the oven was on, I also roasted a couple of turkey thighs for sliced-meat sandwiches for people to take to work.

Finally, with some beef short ribs and spinach, I made a long-simmering curry. The bones in the short ribs made for a very tasty curry, so that's what I packed for lunch tomorrow!

Posted by JAY at 11:05 AM

Essentials: Cast Iron

20040109Lamb.jpg
A set of cast iron pans is almost essential if you plan on grilling meats on the stovetop. The good news is that they're also relatively cheap. When you buy a new piece of cast iron, make sure to season it as instructed on the label. Seasoning basically consists of coating the pan with vegetable oil and heating it in a very hot oven. Read on for a discussion of cast iron's strengths and weaknesses.

Advantages

  • Heat retention: cast iron's high specific heat capacity ensures a constant heat that is great for browning meats. You can put cold ingredients into the hot pan and it's the ingredients that will change temperature, not the pan.
  • Even heating: cast iron heats evenly without hot spots, unlike stainless steel cookware.
  • Cost: Stainless steel cookware NEEDS to have a base of copper or aluminium to evenly distribute heat - this makes them expensive to produce, often costing over $150CAN. Cast iron, on the other hand, can be bought for under $25.

Disadvantages

  • Weight: Cast iron is really heavy. Still, it's a small price to pay.
  • Slow to change heat: Due to it's high specific heat capacity, cast iron takes a bit of time to heat up and cool down. This makes it unsuitable for delicate sauces where you need to be able to lower the heat quickly. In fact, you can often turn of the heat completely near the end of cooking and let the stored heat do the rest.

These were the lamb chops that I fried up for lunch on Friday. They took 5 minutes. I rubbed them with thyme, black pepper and salt, and cooked them in the very hot oiled pan for 2.5 minutes per side. They were very rare, but that was intentional, since they were going to be microwaved at work the next day.

Posted by JAY at 01:08 AM

December 26, 2003

Christmas Menu

I was too lazy to take pictures... won't bother with recipes, either, it's a holiday!

My parents finished it off with most of a bottle of wine that Dom gave me for Chistmas - judging by the speed at which it disappeared, they must have really enjoyed it! Thanks, Dom!

Suffice it to say, I'm stuffed...

Brunch

  • Pancakes
  • Fried Eggs
  • Sausages
  • Smoked Turkey

The pancakes were from scratch: 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4 TBS sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and enough flour to make a batter-like consistency. (Whisk in a bowl in order of appearance.) This recipe makes flexible pancakes that can be rolled (tilt the oiled pan in a circle to make them slightly thinner than normal pancakes).

The smoked turkey was a pretty nice alternative to ham - less salty and more tender.

Snack

  • Shortbread
  • Cranberry-Date squares

Mom made both of these before I had even woken up. Shortbread is very fattening, but very very good. This was the first time she has made the squares - she got the recipe from someone at work. It was very good - usually date squares are too sweet and cranberries are too sour, but together they balance each other perfectly!

Dinner

  • Prime Rib
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Veggie Stirfry
  • Gravy
  • Steamed Lobster Tails
  • Dom's Magnotta (Ontario) Rose Wine

After the Flames in the Kitchen incident, we threw out the non-functional meat thermometer. Apparently, though, everyone is buying a new meat thermometer - my parents couldn't find a store with any left. So I just guestimated the amount of time the roast needed to be in the oven (2.25 hours) and luckily it turned out fine.

The lobster tails were a bit tough. I don't know if that's because they were frozen first (I've only ever had live-steamed before this) or if I over-cooked them. No-one else seemed to notice, but it WAS tough!

The puddings weren't as puffed as they should've been. I was lazy and didn't heat the muffin trays. As a result, the top cooked in the oven before the bottoms did, making a "crust" that inhibited expansion. The crusts DID finally pop off, but they were only 2x the uncooked height, rather than 3x.

The 'rents drank quite a bit of wine, which is unusual. Thankfully, they were cheerful (though very talkative) drunks! I tasted it too. As Dom told me, it was quite sweet, which is good for non-alcohol drinkers like me.

We finished off the evening with more of the snack stuff.

Posted by JAY at 02:01 AM

December 10, 2003

Lemon Cheesecake

So my friend's girlfriend wanted to learn how to make cheesecake, and he volunteered me... Unfortunately, it's been a while since I've made cheesecake, and my recipe was much more involved than the one on the cream cheese box. So we used the simple one on the box. I think it called for too much lemon juice - or our lemon was too sour. Either way, it was a bit too sour. My recipe called for about 1/4 the amout of lemon juice... I should've noticed.

Posted by JAY at 10:38 PM

December 09, 2003

15 Minute Steak Dinner


Well, 15 minutes with the help of a microwave and some leftover rice. If you don't have the rice, microwave a few of small potatoes for about 7 minutes before adding the brocolli to them and microwaving for about 5 more.

This meal takes 15 minutes, even including the cooking time!
Take your time the first time, though.

1 prime rib steak, 3/4" thick
thinner if you'd like it more well done
1 handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
some brocolli
some leftover rice
(see above to substitute potatoes)
salt and pepper

Heat a heavy pan or skillet that has been well coated in vegatable/canola/safflower oil.

Slice the onions and mushrooms if you haven't already (keep separate).

Put the rice (covered) in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.

Put the steak in the very hot skillet. It should sizzle loudly!
Grind some black pepper over the raw side.

Rinse the brocolli and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high.

After the steak has sizzled for about 4 minutes (juices will have started to appear on the raw side), flip it with the spatula.

Stick the onions in the pan if there is space.

Cook the steak to desired doneness. Test by touch. For medium, make a loose fist with your hand and touch the outside flesh (webbing) between your thumb and pointer finger knuckles. It should feel the same firmness as the steak. For rare, don't make the fist and for well done clench your fist.

Set the meat aside in a plate to rest. (It'll cook a bit more and juices will come out.)

If you haven't already, put in the onions and cook until they just start to get brown speckles. Add the sliced mushrooms and add more oil to lightly coat.

Add some black pepper/salt and cook while stirring for 2 minutes, until the mushrooms are barely soft. Throw in the heated rice and any juices that came out of the steak and mix thoroughly. You can see that I added some sprigs of thyme, just cuz they were in the fridge.

Put the rice and brocolli on the plate with the meat and serve.
If you cooked potatoes instead of rice, put the onions and mushrooms over it.

You can cook as many steaks as you have pan space for and just increase the amount of other stuff accordingly.

Posted by JAY at 09:32 PM

December 04, 2003

Linda's Cheesecake Brownies


Akemi's mom, Linda, gave me this recipe for Cheesecake Brownies.

The great thing is that they take only 20 minutes to make, but they taste wonderful! To save time, I've changed one little thing: instead of melting the butter and chocolate over hot water, you can use the microwave with some care.

Recipe follows

Linda's Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie Mixture:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Mixture:
1 pkg cream cheese (250g), softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (the rest of the package)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9x9" pan

Chop the butter into 4 pieces and melt it in the microwave with 1 cup of chocolate chips. Use 3 minutes at 40 percent power, but stir it vigorously every 20 seconds after the first 2 minutes. When the mixture is barely warm, stir it until the chocolate chips melt in the warm butter.

Alternately, melt it in a pot over hot water.

Set it aside to cool further.

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and add the egg.
Beat it some more and stir in the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
Set aside.

Back to the chocolate!
With a fork, vigorously stir in the eggs (one at a time) and sugar.
Then stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.
Stir only until just mixed. It'll be thick.

Spread 1/2 (or slightly more of) the brownie mixture on the bottom of the pan.
Pour the cheesecake mixture over it.
Spoon the remaining browie mix in blobs around the top.
Swirl with a knife (you might need two knives to break up the blobs).

Bake them in the 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.
Let cool on a rack, refrigerate overnight and then cut into squares.

If you can't wait, take a spoonful before putting it in the fridge, but the cheesecake does need some time to set fully.
These don't really need icing.

Posted by JAY at 01:04 AM

November 26, 2003

For Dinner: Quick Curry


I don't often remember to take pictures of the food that I cook, but I like curry- though it's not very pretty. Anyway, this particular curry is made with pork, enhanced with mushrooms, chick peas and cauliflower. It's not very authentic, as I don't blend my own curry powder.

Pictured is my lunch for tomorrow. I've been doing pretty well with packing my lunches - I usually only buy my lunch once or twice a week now.

Recipe follows:

Quick Curry

Mild curry powder
A few handfuls of meat
Onions
Mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Dried chili flakes
Potatoes (2 large)
1 can of chick peas
Salt
Sugar

Optional
Brocolli/Spinach/Green beans/Cauliflower
Coconut milk/yogurt

Wash and cube the potatoes and microwave them until not quite soft.
(about 5 minutes on high)

Toss the meat in the curry powder until well coated. Note that the curry powder here is mild (very yellow, rather than brown or red) - if your curry powder is very hot, use less. To test, fry up a piece of coated meat, salt it and taste. If it is slightly too hot, it should be fine - because there are other things going into the curry that will dilute it

Chop/slice/quarter the onions. (whatever you have time for)

Fry the meat and onions in a oiled large heavy pot over high heat for about 7 minutes. If the curry starts to stick to the bottom, add more oil.

Mix in the potatoes and chick peas. Canned chick peas are actually better than dried/fresh here... though I use dried, because I can't cook with salt.

Add chili flakes to taste. I usually put about a teaspoon.
If you're unsure, you can always add more at the end and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Add in the chicken/beef broth.
Adjust the amount of broth depending on how thick you want the curry.
Substitute up to 1/2 of the broth with coconut milk, if you like. (Unhealthy, but yummy!)

Add the mushrooms.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the optional veggies (microwave cauliflower first to soften) and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until you test the meat and it's cooked.

Add salt and 1 tsp of sugar.

Adjust thickness to whatever you like by adding broth (thinner) or coconut milk (thicker). You can also use corn starch to thicken, though this isn't really traditional and should be avoided. Just make sure to dissolve the corn starch (about 1 tbs) in cold water before adding it, and then bring the curry to a boil to ensure that the starch is cooked.

Serve over rice.

Posted by JAY at 09:34 AM

November 23, 2003

Cookbook: Joy of Cooking

In my last post, I referenced the Pound Cake in the cookbook The Joy of Cooking.

This book is almost essential to a semi-proficient cook. It has a comprehensive selection of recipes for almost anything and good articles regarding the science behind the cooking make it fun to read even without cooking. Don't let the lack of picutres put you off.

Buy the spiral/plastic bound edition, so that you don't have to worry about keeping the pages open. The hardcover is a waste of money, the softcover is fine if you don't have much money.

Posted by JAY at 04:24 PM

November 21, 2003

Mom's Birthday Menu

Menu:
Roast Duck
Roast Sirloin
Roasted Potatoes
Gravy
Yorkshire Pudding
Brocolli and Cauliflower with Portabellos
Trifle

Roast Duck

The roast duck turned out a bit dry for my taste, though my family seemed to enjoy it. I stuffed it with sliced onions and rubbed it with garlic and black pepper. My mother doesn't eat salt, so I left it out, but you shouldn't! (Make sure to remove the bag of giblets and neck in the cavity and boil them for duck gravy with some red wine!)

With your fingers, separate the skin from the breast meat, and poke holes in the skin with a knife to ensure that the fat drains and the skin crisps.

I roasted it for 2 1/2 hours (upside down, except for the last 1/2 hour) in a 340 degree oven. I think next time I'll just use 2 hours and have the meat slighly pink.


Roasted Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes
Olive oil
Thyme and Oregano
Black Pepper (freshly ground)
Garlic

Wash and/or peel the potatoes, cut them into 1 inch cubes

Coat with oil.

Season liberally with the rest of the ingredients.

Cook in a 375 degree oven until tender/crisp (about 1 1/2 hours).
Or, use whatever temperature you're cooking other stuff at and adjust the time accordingly (eat a piece of potato regularly to test doneness).


Brocolli and Cauliflower with Portabellos
Some brocolli
Some Cauliflower
Onion
3 large portabello mushrooms

Remove the mushroom stems (slice and boil them in the duck stock for flavor!) and scrape the underside dark brown gills out with a spoon. Slice them.

Peel and slice the onion.

Chop the brocolli and cauliflower and microwave them (covered and damp with the wash water) until very hot, but not soft (probably about 3-5 minutes on high.

Heat a fry pan with some oil (I used duck grease... but veg oil would be healthier) until very hot and fry up the onions and mushrooms. When browned, toss in the vegs.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Rum Trifle
Sigh, I never make birthday cake anymore, because everyone prefers this. It's a lot of work if you make it all from scratch (I do). Bake the pound cake and make the custard the day before. After that it's mostly assembly, but bake it early in the day to leave time for the flavors to mix.

1 loaf of pound cake, sliced 1 cm thick
(I like the one in The Joy of Cooking, but any will do - or buy it!)

Custard
See the previous recipe, but instead use
3 cups milk, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla
It'll be much thicker. You should DEFINITELY use a french whisk to make it easy. Or, you can buy custard powder (but don't use the jello stuff, that'll suck).

2 cans of soft (cheap brand) sliced peaches
2 cans of sliced mangoes
1 can of mandarin orange segments
Mix of whatever berries you like

500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar

Reserve 2 cups of light syrup/juice from the above and mix with:
1/3 cup of good golden rum (Mount Gay is the nicest)
or make it as boozey as you like.

You can reduce the rum, but don't omit it - trust me... I'm not a drinker.

Whip the cream until almost stiff, add the sugar gradually and then whip until stiff (be careful not to over whip it or it will separate into water and butter!)

Stir in a couple of tablespoons of rum :)

In a huge bowl, layer like so:

Top
whipped cream
custard
fruit
fruit syrup/rum
cake slices
Bottom

And repeat until full.
Really soak the cake with the syrup.
Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours.
Decorate the top with berries, if you like.

I need to buy a pretty cylindrical flat bowl to make it look nicer.

Posted by JAY at 03:19 PM

November 15, 2003

Wok This Way: Quick Meal

When I was younger, Wok With Yan was one of my favorite shows - hence the corny entry titles. Again, I didn't take pictures of the dishes that I made today. I left my camera at a friend's place.

Menu:
5-minute Chicken Roast
Fried Wild Rice
Lemon Meringue Pie

Recipes follow...

5-minute Chicken Roast

This is a great recipe for bachelors - it's quick to make and very good to eat. The secret is the high heat - it makes the chicken skin flavorful and crispy! Cooks well in a toaster oven or a regular oven, depending on how much you're making.

Chicken (dark meat preferred, so it doesn't dry out)
Thyme
Oregano
Salt and Pepper
Oil

Toss the chicken in a bowl, sprinkle liberally with all the spices, salt and pepper and drizzle with some oil. Mix, dump in an oven tray and cook at 380 degrees F for about 40 minutes. Line the tray with foil/parchment paper for a quick cleanup. Don't bother pre-heating the oven, it doesn't matter.

If you have absolutely nothing, omit everything but the chicken and just coat it with some soy sauce.

Fried Wild Rice
Cooked wild rice
Onions
Garlic
Oil
Mushrooms
Brocolli
Cauliflower
Salt and pepper

Coat the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pan with oil and heat.

Chop/slice the onions and garlic and fry them up in the pan.

Chop the mushrooms and fry them in the pan.

Microwave the rest of the veggies for about 4-5 minutes until tender-crisp, chop them, add them to the pan.

Salt and pepper to taste.
Feel free to add oil if things begin to stick.
Use lotsa mushrooms, they shrink a lot when you fry them up.

Lemon Merengue Pie

There are dozens of standard recipies for this, so I'm not going to bother writing it down. Just make sure not to over-whip the egg whites - they should be stiff, but if they get lumpy, you've overdone it.

Posted by JAY at 07:11 PM

October 18, 2003

Wok with Jason

Mmmm... dinner.

I had to cook dinner today, and it turned out pretty well, not using any cookbooks or anything... Just making stuff up. Unfortunately, no pictures.

Prime Rib Roast
Balsamic Gravy
Herbed Black and White Rice
Japanese Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms
Yorkshire Pudding
Spiced Pears with Custard Sauce

Instructions follow...

Prime Rib
Stick a thermometer in it, stick in a 350 degree oven
Cook until just under rare (it'll be sitting and cook more)
Takes about 3 hours for a 2-3 rib roast.

Pour and keep the rendered fat in the pan for the Yorkshire Puddings.

Reserve the pan with the crusty stuff for heating the sauce in.

Balsamic Gravy
1/4 cup butter
1 onion
1/4 scant cup flour
garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken/beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
handful of mushrooms
spices


Cook the onions in the butter on medium heat in a sauce pan until they caramelize and turn brown. (10 minutes)

Add the flour all at once, stir briskly until cooked (3 minutes).

Pour in everything else and cook over medium low.

For spices: black pepper, thyme, oregano (healthy pinches)
Salt to taste and add water if you want a thinner sauce.

Heat the sauce again in the beef roasting pan after the oil has been poured out.

Herbed Black and White Rice
Take whatever quantity of white long-grain rice you usually cook, take an extra third of black wild rice, and cook as you normally would. Ie - rinse the rice with cold water, cover with cold water to about 2 cm over the rice. Bring to a boil on high, stirring occasionally. Cover and then turn down the heat to low for about 15 min. NO PEEKING from this point on!! (You'll let out the steam.) Turn off the fire and let it sit for another 15 minutes. It'll stay hot for about an hour, but if it'll be longer, fluff it with a fork so it doesn't cake up.

I threw some sprigs of thyme in the boiling water to scent the rice (they were in the fridge).

Japanese Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms
Japanese eggplant is the smaller, light purple, slender one. It doesn't have the bitterness or the mushy seeds of the big black kind. They're widely available in supermarkets. Eggplant has a blotter-like capacity for oil.

1 or 2 japanese eggplants
Olive oil
Roasted garlic (up to 1/2 cup!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice and fry the eggplant in a few tablespoons olive oil over high heat. It'll start to get brown speckles from the heat, and get less rigid.

Mix in the roasted garlic with yet more olive oil and mix it in with the eggplant.

Salt and pepper to taste and cook until you like it, ideally, before it turns to mush, but it shouldn't be crunchy.

Yorkshire Pudding
I lost my recipe and had to improvise, but these puffed spectacularly to about 3x their original size! Halve the recipe for 12 puddings.

4 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cup of flour
Pinch of salt
Beef dripping fat or veg. oil

This is a one bowl prep version.
Heat oven to 460 degrees.
Prepare 24 muffin tins by greasing them with the liquid fat. There should be about 1/2 cm oil on the bottom. Use a heavy steel muffin tin, not an aluminium or teflon coated one. Place the oiled tray in the oven about 5 minutes before you need it (put it in right away, if you're fast!)

A french hand whisk is the easiest thing to use here.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl until frothy. (1 minute)
Whisk in the milk lightly. (20 secs!)
Whisk in the flour and salt till blended. (30 secs)

Pour it into the hot oiled muffin tins and stick them into the oven (it'll sizzle as you pour it... the rapid heating is what puffs them). Turn the oven down to 450 degrees. This is the heat that puffs and browns them.

After 15 minutes, they should be 2 to 3x the size and be popping out of the muffin tins. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees for the next 15 minutes. This is the heat that sets them.

Remove from the muffin trays immediately and put them in a basket lined with cloth. If they're sticking, you probably didn't use enough oil. That's ok, leave stuck ones for about 5 minutes and the condensation will loosen them.

Spiced Pears with Custard Sauce following
3-4 pears (allow 1/2 pear for each person, with a few extras)
brown sugar
maple syrup (optional)
nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves
1/3 of a lemon for juice


Peel the pears, halve them and take out the seeds and bottom stem.
Stick them in a pan large enough that they all touch the bottom.
Squirt them with about 1/3 of a lemon to prevent browning (no seeds!)
Sprinkle them with a pinch of each spice (whole spices are better, but I only had whole ginger and nutmeg, so I put a piece of ginger and grated some nutmeg. I used powders for the rest.)
Throw in a handful or two of brown sugar, a dash of maple syrup.

The juice from the lemon and the suger should be enough to have some liquid on the bottom of the pan.

Cook them over medium high heat, covered, spooning the liquid over them occasionally, until they're soft.

Remove the pears, and boil down the remaining liquid until it's thick (10 minutes, watch that it doesn't burn).

Custard Sauce
1 cup milk (I used skim, but any will do.)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
vanilla extract (not the fake kind!)
butter (optional)
1 egg yolk (optional)

If you want, just use a packaged custard sauce, but it's really just as easy to make your own. Again, I try to use just one pan.

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small sauce pan.
Stir in the cold milk until everything's dissolved

Heat gently while stirring. I hate using double boilers, so I just use low heat, but make sure to scrape the bottom with the spoon so that it doesn't burn or clump. If it does start to clump, you can whisk it in to submission with a french whisk, but it shouldn't if you're careful.

After the sauce comes to a gentle boil, it'll thickly coat the bottom of a spoon. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

If using the optional butter, stir in a small knob of it now.

If you're not using the egg yolk, stir in some yellow food coloring.

If you are using the egg yolk, whisk it in a small bowl with a fork, add a tablespoon of the hot custard and mix it again, add a few more spoons of custard and whisk, then add the mixture back to the custard sauce pan and stir.

Put the almost cooled pears in individual bowls, pour some custard sauce over them, pour some of the reduced pear spice sauce over that, and swirl decoratively with a spoon or knife.

Posted by JAY at 04:46 PM