Monday, October 31, 2011

Parmesan-Roasted Acorn Squash

This super easy recipe is from Real Simple. It was a great side dish (though it can be made into a light lunch). You can choose to peel the squash or not: while it is quite good either way, I found that I preferred it peeled, while the Engineer actually enjoyed the peel. I used an acorn squash, but I’m sure this recipe would be good with other types of squash too (though in that case, it probably is better to peel them). This recipe made the Engineer say that even though he was apprehensive whenever I serve squash, he realized that he always ends up liking it! This recipe makes about 4 servings (I used it as a side to roast duck with Simon Turcotte’s cranberry and Sichuan pepper jam).

1 2-lb acorn or delicata squash—halved, seeded, and sliced ¾ inch thick
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan (1 oz)

Preheat oven to 400 °F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Roast the squash until golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Poulet au gingembre et au citron

Voici une recette rapide prise dans un numéro de Coup de Pouce. J’ai bien aimé ce plat, mais il faut dire en partant que j’aime le gingembre et le citron, et en ajoutant du miel en plus, c’était difficile de rater son coup! J’ai servi ce plat un soir avec une petite salade de quinoa (raisins secs, amandes et oignons verts), puis avec des petits pois au citron et au parmesan le deuxième soir. Selon votre appétit et la grosseur de vos hauts de cuisses de poulet, cette recette fait entre 4 et 8 portions.

jus et zeste râpé de 1 citron
1 c. à soupe de gingembre frais, râpé
½ c. à thé de sel
2 c. à soupe de miel
1 c. à soupe de sauce soja réduite en sel (ou de sauce tamari sans blé si vous évitez le gluten)
2 c. à soupe d’eau
8 hauts de cuisses de poulet non désossés, avec la peau
2 c. à thé d’huile végétale
oignons verts en tranches (facultatif)
quartiers de citron (facultatif)

Dans un bol, mélanger le zeste de citron, le gingembre et le sel. Dans un autre bol, mélanger le jus de citron, le miel, la sauce soja et l’eau. Réserver. Avec les doigts, soulever délicatement la peau du poulet et insérer le mélange de zeste de citron entre la chair et la peau.

Dans un grand poêlon, chauffer l’huile à feu moyen-vif. Ajouter les hauts de cuisses, la peau dessous, et cuire pendant 7 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient bien dorés. Retourner le poulet et ajouter le mélange de jus de citron réservé. Réduire le feu, couvrir et poursuivre la cuisson de 14 à 18 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le poulet ait perdu sa teinte rosée à l’intérieur.

Au moment de servir, répartir le poulet dans quatre assiettes. Dégraisser le jus de cuisson, si désiré, et en arroser le poulet. Garnir d’oignons verts et de quartiers de citron, si désiré.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus

This sounds surprising, but I promise you, it’s delicious. The flavours actually complement each other very well because the chickpeas, peanut butter and maple syrup all have the same earthiness. It feels really decadent, like you’re eating cookie dough, but it’s really healthy fats and a natural sweetener (which contains vitamins and minerals, if you’re keeping track). Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand already. The recipe is from The Wannbe Chef .

2 cups chickpeas (I used one can)
¼ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp maple syrup
½ Tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips

Drain, measure, wash, and peel your chickpeas. Peeling them isn’t absolutely necessary but it makes for the creamiest hummus and really is worth the effort. (I would agree that it makes a difference, but I didn’t put in the effort, and the hummus was still great despite the stray peels.)

In a food processor, add the first 4 ingredients and process until the hummus is smooth and emulsified (the one thing no one wants for dessert is chunky chickpea pieces in their dessert). Remove the blade and fold in the chocolate chips. Move into a deep serving bowl and serve with graham crackers, ideally at room temperature (it gets stiffer after it’s been in the fridge).

Batch of links - Food

This time, I’ve got some food-related topics to share. Thank you for your patience during my housekeeping!

- The 10 foods most closely correlated with weight gain and weight loss: Unfortunately, the Harvard study does not examine the causal effect. For example, does eating potato chips automatically mean you’ll gain more weight than by eating the same number of calories in another food, or does it mean that people who eat potato chips often eat them while watching television (mindlessly), which then might also mean they are less likely to exercise or eat right the rest of the time? It’s probably a combination of factors, obviously, but still good to know.

- A pre-smoke alarm: Does your smoke detector ever go off when you’re cooking, even though you’re nowhere near setting a fire? We fortunately don’t have this problem now that we’re in a house instead of an apartment, but this used to be an issue. (Before I met the Engineer, I lived in a studio apartment for three years, and I disabled the smoke alarm because it would go off if I made light toast.) Too bad the company doesn’t seem to be making it anymore…

- Saving bees by buying free-range beef: We all know that the North American bee population is in trouble, which affects pollinated crops – ergo, our diet. But research has shown that “precisely because rangelands have been used for ranching—livestock grazing—ranchers have kept the land conserved and stewarded it in ways that result in habitat that sustains wild bee species and other wildlife.” Score one (more) for free range farming!

- Asian honey, banned in Europe, is flooding US grocery shelves: Asian honey can contain illegal antibiotics and heavy metals, and some sweet liquids are even being labelled as honey when they are in fact a mixture of water and other sweeteners. As a result, the European Union has banned its import, but the FDA is sadly lagging behind. Another reason to buy local (make sure the honey was made locally, not just packaged locally).

- On a related note, there’s arsenic in apple juice: Levels are much higher than the acceptable legal limit in water. The FDA says it’s not really a big deal, because we don’t drink as much apple juice as we do water. Some experts, however, warn that children might be drinking more apple juice than water, and their bodies are developing, so it could be a big deal. Personally, I think it couldn’t hurt to err on the side of caution here and have stricter regulations.

- Being a judge for the James Beard Cookbook Awards: An interesting read. Maybe someday I’ll get around to self-publishing something awesome and submit it.

- Cereal marshmallows in bulk : You know how, when you were a kid and eating Lucky Charms, you sometimes wished you could have just a bowl full of marshmallows without the cereal getting in the way? Well, now you can!

- The Happy Cow: Find vegetarian restaurants and health food stores all over the world, for your next vacation.

- 6 gluten-free ways to enjoy pasta sauce: Besides gluten-free pasta, that is.

- 14 home hacks for your dishwasher: Did you know you can use it to clean vegetables and even cook lasagna?

- Why there will never be another cupcake: An article by Baked’s Matt Lewis, so very well said.

- Food by state: The food for which each state is known. Is it any wonder it’s so hard to eat healthy when we drive to Canada and back?

Easy Almond Cake

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. It’s the first recipe I made from that book, and I it’s one of my favourite cake recipes. It’s somewhat unusual in that the batter is made in a food processor, but that just makes it easier. The cake is dense, moist and keeps well. It’s also quite adaptable: Nigella suggests serving it with raspberries, apples or rhubarb, or using orange zest in place of the vanilla. It looks beautiful when dusted with powdered sugar, too. I adapted the quantities slightly to make this a North American version of the recipe and to include the type of marzipan that is most often found here (i.e., Odense in a vacuum-sealed tube). For the oven temperature, I chose 350 °F (instead of the exact conversion 338 °F), but I could have gone to 325 °F and baked the cake a tad longer, too. I decide to serve the cake with my leftover raspberry coulis, but it’s great on its own, too.

1 cup butter or margarine
198 g (one package) of marzipan, at room temperature
¾ cup fine sugar (if yours is coarser, give it a whirl by itself in the food processor first)
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp vanilla
6 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9-inch springform tube pan or patterned ring mould (I always use my Bundt pan for this).

Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the double-bladed knife, with the sugar. Process until combined and pretty well smooth. Add almond extract and vanilla, process again, then break the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Tip the flour mixture down the funnel, processing yet again, and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, but check from 35. When the cake looks golden and cooked and a cake-tester comes out cleanish, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out. (If ever the top of the cake sticks a bit to the mould, dust it with powdered sugar and it will hardly show).

Coulis de framboises

J’ai fait récemment un coulis de framboises pour accompagner le gâteau à la main de Bouddha que je sortais du congélateur (et il était toujours aussi bon!). La recette était dans ma pile de papier depuis des années, mais j’hésitais à la faire, puisque l’Ingénieur n’aime pas les framboises, mais là, c’était un complément facultatif à nos desserts, alors j’a i plongé. J’ai utilisé 1 1/2 lb de framboises surgelées, donc un peu plus que la quantité recommandée par la recette, mais j’ai mis un peu plus de sucre pour compenser. Le meilleur, c’était l’addition de thym frais de mon jardin. C’était absolument excellent!

Puisque cette recette donne quand même une bonne quantité de coulis, j’en ai aussi mangé sur du yogourt Chobani, plus précisément un yogourt grec parfumé à la banane et au miel très peu sucré. Il y en a aussi une sorte aux petits fruits, et j’ai découvert que je peux en manger sans problème. Je crois que Chobani fait son yogourt de façon plus artisanale que certaines autres marques, donc plus avec des bonnes bactéries qu’avec de la gélatine, ce qui fait baisser la quantité de lactose.

J’en ai aussi mis sur une mousse au chocolat (délicieux!), et sur des crêpes pour déjeuner, avec et sans pêches. Et sur un gâteau aux amandes la semaine suivante. J’aurais pu aussi congeler le coulis, je crois, puisque les framboises décongelées ont été cuites. Franchement, je recommande!

600 g (environ 1 1/3 lb) de framboises fraîches ou surgelées
¾ tasse de sucre (ou jusqu’à 1 tasse si vous avez 1 ½ lb de framboises)
½ c. à thé de thym frais, haché
2 c. à soupe de jus de citron

À l’aide d’un robot, réduire les framboises en purée. Réchauffer la purée sur un feu moyen, ajouter le sucre et le thym. Mélanger jusqu’à ce que le sucre soit dissous complètement. Ajouter le jus de citron. Filtrer à travers un tamis et réserver au frais.

Transformation de vêtements: Sous-verres

Et une autre transformation! Dans ma pile de vêtements-que-je-ne-mets-plus-mais-que-je-garde-pour-transformer, il y a surtout des chandails. En tricot. C’est dur de coudre du tricot, et la superficie d’un chandail limite le nombre d’applications qu’on peut en tirer en le recyclant. Voilà pourquoi j’ai beaucoup aimé ces sous-verres sur Martha Stewart! Pour chaque sous-verre, il faut un rectangle de tissu d’environ 5 pouces par 10 pouces (si on compte des coutures d’un demi-pouce), du fil et un carré de nappe ouatée (2,99 $ la verge) de 4 pouces. Si vous coupez droit, vous pouvez faire une vingtaine de sous-verres dans une demi-verge de nappe ouatée, donc c’est très économique!

J’ai décidé de faire deux ensembles de sous-verres, un bleu et un vert. J’ai pris trois vieux t-shirts pour chaque ensemble, je les ai repassés et j’en ai tiré trois sous-verres chacun (mais il me restait encore des retailles, j’aurais pu en faire plus). J’ai trouvé que la méthode courtepointe, avec des coutures en genre de spirale à angles droits sur chaque sous-verre, donnait une meilleure apparence au tissu de tricot que j’utilisais. C’était très simple à faire, et j’aime beaucoup avoir un produit fini que je peux utiliser au quotidien. On peut bien sûr utiliser des retailles de tissu tissé (et non tricoté), parce qu’il n’en faut vraiment pas beaucoup pour ce projet, d’autant plus que le nombre final de sous-verres est à déterminer comme vous voulez. Et pour le fil, vous pouvez choisir une couleur qui se marie à votre tissu ou, au contraire, une couleur contrastante. J’ai tellement aimé ça que je recommencerais demain matin, si ce n’était du fait que je pense que je suis greyée en sous-verres pour l’instant (le but étant quand même de me débarrasser d’un surplus de vêtements en les recyclant, pas de créer un surplus de sous-verres). Mais ça pourrait faire un beau cadeau, un ensemble de sous-verres!

Transformation de vêtements: Coussin

Maintenant que je couds, j’ai transformé quelques vêtements que je ne mettais plus, et j’ai pensé faire suite à mon dernier billet du genre. Tout d’abord, j’avais un chandail en chenille bourgogne dont j’adorais surtout la texture et la couleur. J’ai décidé d’en faire un coussin, puisque le bourgogne ne détonnait pas dans mon salon.

J’ai décidé de me baser sur le principe d’une enveloppe, puisque c’est plus simple que poser des boutons ou une fermeture éclair (c’est important pour moi de pouvoir laver la housse de mes coussins au besoin, d’où l’ouverture). J’ai donc mesuré la taille de mon chandail pour connaître la grandeur de mon enveloppe. J’ai ensuite fait un coussin de ces dimensions, avec du coton blanc et de la bourrure (les deux sont très peu chers). J’ai ensuite découpé mon chandail puis cousu mon coussin. Leçon à retenir : coudre de la chenille, c’est pas facile. Mais j’aime bien le résultat!

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Eggs

This recipe is from the April 2011 issue of Bon Appétit. The Engineer and I both really liked it. It’s not very labour-intensive, as far as risottos go (count on 1 hour), and the bacon and eggs give it that extra oomph other recipes don’t have. As you know, I never bother making my own chicken broth, but I do like having some Better Than Bouillon base on hand; it takes up hardly any room in the fridge, keeps for a very long time and has a rich flavour. Bonus, it’s gluten-free (at least, the low-sodium chicken base I have is). We got 4 servings out of this meal.

4 large eggs
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
1 ½ cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 10 oz)
¾ cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)
additional finely grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan; cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add leeks to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 generous tablespoonfuls leeks to small bowl; reserve for garnish. Add rice to pan; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup warm broth to saucepan; stir until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding broth and stirring until rice is tender but still firm to bite and sauce is creamy, stirring almost constantly, about 23 minutes total. Add bacon, chopped parsley, butter, and 2 tablespoons cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs in a pot of water that is just simmering over medium heat. Cook until whites are cooked through, but yolks are still runny, about 4-5 minutes.

Divide risotto among 4 bowls or plates. Top risotto in each bowl with poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley leaves, additional cheese, and reserved leeks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Louise sans gluten

Je voulais en parler plus tôt, mais je ne l’ai pas fait : après l’épicerie végétalienne à Montréal, il y a maintenant un épicerie sans gluten : Louise sans gluten (Louise’s Gluten-Free Table). C’est aussi un bistro avec des produits cuisinés sur place, et on y offre à la fois des cours de cuisine et une formation pour restaurateurs. C’est à Dorval, donc pas nécessairement accessible facilement pour tout le monde, mais quand même, c’est là! Mis à part dans les épiceries fines et certains IGA (comme celui du mail Cavendish), par contre, ça peut être difficile de trouver des ingrédients et des produits sans gluten. Je suis bien contente que Montréal aie maintenant une nouvelle option spécialisée!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fettucinis dans une sauce à la roquette, aux pignons et à la pancetta

Cette recette est tirée du numéro de À Bon Verre, Bonne Table du début de l’été 2011. J’ai fait quelques modifications, notamment en remplaçant la pancetta par du bacon, et la crème 35 % par de la crème de soya. De plus, je n’ai pas trouvé de roquette à l’épicerie, seulement un mélange de mini roquette, mini épinards et fines herbes; c’est donc ce que j’ai utilisé, en laissant de côté le persil puisque j’avais déjà des fines herbes. J’ai aussi utilisé des tomates anciennes, pour faire joli. Et c’était super bon! La sauce enrobait chaque pâte, c’était vraiment réussi. L’Ingénieur a aussi beaucoup aimé, il a dit que c’était digne d’un (bon) restaurant.

125 g (4 oz) de pancetta en tranches minces (ou du bacon)
3 ou 4 tomates italiennes mûres, épépinées et coupées en dés
4 tasses de jeunes feuilles de roquette légèrement tassées
1 tasse de feuilles de persil légèrement tassées
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
½ c. à thé de sel
½ c. à thé de poivre noir du moulin
½ tasse de bouillon de poulet ou de légumes
½ tasse de crème de soya
2 gousses d’ail, hachées menu
500 g (1 lb) de fettuccinis
1 tasse de parmesan frais, râpé
½ tasse de pignons grillés

Hacher grossièrement la pancetta. La faire rissoler dans une poêle antiadhésive de grosseur moyenne sur feu mi-doux à modéré pendant10 minutes ou le temps qu’elle devienne dorée et croustillante. L’égoutter sur du papier absorbant et la mettre de côté.

Juste avant le service, mettre la roquette et le persil dans le bol d’un mélangeur avec l’huile d’olive, le sel et le poivre. Mélanger le bouillon, la crème et l’ail et chauffer le tout au four à micro-ondes, à intensité élevée, de 40 à 60 secondes, pour que la préparation soit très chaude, sans toutefois être bouillante. La verser sur les verdures et les assaisonnements dans le bol du mélangeur, et actionner celui-ci en l’arrêtant de temps à autre pour en racler les parois. La sauce sera plutôt fluide.

Entre-temps, porter à ébullition une grande marmite à moitié remplie d’eau légèrement salée. Cuire les pâtes en suivant les directives sur l’emballage jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient al dente. Égoutter les pâtes puis les remettre dans la marmite chaude.

Ajouter la sauce et remuer pour bien enrober les pâtes. Ajouter maintenant les tomates, la moitié du fromage et les pignons. Remuer et servir dans des assiettes de service réchauffées. Parsemer de pancetta et passer à table le reste du parmesan.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spicy Tuna Bowl

Those of you who are sushi lovers are going to love this recipe. It’s not actually sushi, more like a rice bowl with raw fish (like the salmon-tuna bowl they serve at Kazu in Montreal). The most important thing here is to get sushi-grade tuna – we got ours frozen at Central Market, but if there are no stores that sell it in your area, you can order it online as well. Raw tuna really is a beautiful thing; I even think it might be one of my favourite colors. I didn’t make it too spicy, but the Engineer added sriracha sauce to his share. We both loved this meal; it’s more expensive than chicken, sure, but much less expensive than a sushi dinner! This makes 2 generous servings.

For the spicy tuna
1 slab of raw sushi-grade tuna OR 1 package (about 1 cup) of pre-ground raw tuna belly
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp mayonnaise or veganaise
chili oil or sriracha sauce to taste - add ¼ tsp at a time until you reach your desired heat level

Dice the tuna in small pieces and then chop it as finely as you can. Place it in a bowl and mix in the scallions, mayonnaise, chili oil or sriracha, and mix well.

For the bowls
2 cups cooked rice of your choice - sushi rice or brown rice is fine
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Toppings of your choice (see below)
Soy sauce (optional)

Cook the rice and mix in the rice vinegar. Place rice in a deep, wide bowl. Add the spicy tuna on top of the rice and then add your choice of toppings. Add soy sauce if you desire.

Suggested toppings
julienned raw carrots
julienned cucumber
fresh sprouts, such as daikon sprouts
pickled ginger
shiso leaves
umeboshi (pickled plum)
thinly sliced avocado
thin strips of nori seaweed sheets
roasted sesame seeds
mushrooms such as enoki or shiitake

Beet Pizza Dough

I saw this idea to add beet purée into pizza dough a while ago. I got around to trying it recently, and it worked out really well. I think I overworked the dough in the initial stage, as it came out of the stand mixer feeling looking like Play-Doh, so I let it rise longer and that seems to have fixed the problem. Once it was baked, the consistency was quite nice, and you really couldn’t taste the beet! I used store-bought tomato sauce, lactose-free Swiss cheese and basil from the garden, but feel free to use whatever topping you prefer. The Engineer liked the dough, but not the Swiss cheese – I’m somewhat limited regarding toppings for the moment, until I start making my own cheese (and the day isn’t that far off, I think). I’ll give more detailed instructions than the original recipe, only because I like having all my instructions in one place instead of having to flip back and forth between several recipes to get the whole thing.

3/4 cup cooked and chopped beets, lightly packed in a liquid measuring cup (1 or 2 beets; see below)
enough almost warm water to make 1 cup when mixed with cooked beets, plus 1 Tbsp
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
3 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl

Scrub beets under warm water to clean. Put them in tin foil with a bit of olive oil and bake in a 400 °F oven for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool, then peel. Chop the beets and measure out ¾ cup of it. (I puréed and froze the rest.) Top with enough water to make 1 cup, then add 1 more Tbsp, and purée until smooth. An immersion blender is a godsend here, but a food processor works well too. Or a potato masher if you have nothing else.

Put all the ingredients into a stand mixer bowl. Mix with the dough hook until well kneaded.

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand for 2 minutes on an unfloured surface, then pat into a ball. I skipped this, because my dough looked a bit overworked already. (Obviously, if you have a counter that stains, find another place. I recommend kneading on a baking sheet, for example. I’m lucky enough to finally have good countertops.)

Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and add the dough, flipping once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled. I always do this in the microwave, with the door ajar – the heat from the light bulb is perfect, and there are no drafts.

Preheat the oven at 425 °F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (again, something that does not stain), do the final stretches by hand by gently pulling the ends with your fingers. If you have a baking stone, put your dough on a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with cornmeal. Otherwise, place it on a lightly oiled pizza pan dusted with cornmeal. Top as you wish and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage

Over the summer, the basil took over the herb patch. Our drip irrigation system stopped working, but the basil didn’t seem to notice. It had taken gargantuan proportions and I even had to stake it to keep it under control. I did, however, hack off many branches in an effort to drastically cut it back (the picture here was taken after the drastic cutbacks). I’m not one to waste food, though, so I made a few batches of pesto that I froze. I started with my standard recipe (liberal amounts of fresh basil, grated parmesan, roasted pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil thrown in a food processor), then I tried Jamie Oliver’s recipe (his quantities aren’t any more precise than mine, but he does add salt and garlic on top of my ingredients). If you can’t have nuts but still want some crunch in your pesto, try toasted breadcrumbs or roasted soy beans. The parmesan isn’t absolutely necessary, and you can totally make vegan pesto, but since it tastes wonderful and doesn’t have lactose, I like to use it.

I ended up using some of the pesto to make this dish I found in last May’s Real Simple, omitting the parmesan (since I already had a lot of it in the pesto). I really loved this recipe, and so did the Engineer! When he had his first bite, he exclaimed “Oh, yeah!”, and later said it was “a triumph of masking green beans and peas”. He also says not to compromise on the shape of the pasta; orecchiette really are fantastic here. The recipe makes 4 servings.

12 oz orecchiette
½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz fully cooked Italian-style chicken sausage links, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pesto
½ cup grated parmesan (2 oz)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans and peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the sausage, pesto, parmesan, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and vegetables and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Roasted Apples with Red Onions and Thyme

This easy side dish was inspired by a blurb in the October 2010 issue of Bon Appétit. It was really good, and a nice change from roasted potatoes. Which, come to think of it, I don’t make nearly as often as I used to. I served the apples and onions with our favourite turkey meatballs with golden raisins and pine nuts.

Toss apple and onion wedges with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme sprigs (I used some from my garden). Roast at 400 °F, tossing once, until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. That’s it! Enjoy!

Huevos motuleños

As a follow-up to the baked egg cups the Engineer liked so much, and to help use up the leftover salsa, I decided to make huevos motuleños using a recipe posted on The Kitchn. I decided to poach the eggs, which I can do with a clear conscience with eggs that are pasteurized in the shell. This dish was very fast to make and customizable, as were the baked egg cups. I think I like this one a bit more, although it’s a bit harder to eat. Also, to tell the truth, I don’t really like the vinegary taste of store-bought salsa, so I think some homemade pico de gallo would greatly enhance this dish. This makes 4 small servings or 2 big ones (we kept the same quantities, but used 2 eggs and 2 big tortillas instead of 4 of each).

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, minced
½ small bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed though garlic press (the microplane is great here)
½ Tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans (undrained)
squeeze of lime juice
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 small corn tortillas
4 eggs
grated lactose-free cheddar cheese (or your cheese of choice)
tasty salsa
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add minced onion, bell pepper, garlic and oregano, sauté until soft, 3-7 min. Add cumin and cook until fragrant, about another minute.

Add beans and some (about half) of their liquid to the cooked veggies. While beans are cooking, mash them up with a potato masher or fork, until everything is fairly smooth. Cook until beans are warm and thick but still moist, about 6 minutes. Add lime juice and cilantro, stir and remove from heat. Set aside.

Warm tortillas. You have some choice here about how crispy/soft you want it. (Soft is easier to eat with a fork, crispy is good for eating more like a tostada.) You can heat the tortillas on a cast iron or in the microwave.

Cook your eggs! Poached, over easy or sunny side up are good options.

While eggs are cooking, spread some beans on each tortilla (a layer of about ½ inch works well). When eggs are done, put one egg on each tortilla. Sprinkle with grated cheese (lightly), salsa (heavily) and chopped cilantro (garnish). Enjoy!

Ocean Spray sparkling juices and more

I haven’t talked about natural sodas in a while. I tried Waialua Soda Works in vanilla cream, and I really liked it. The flavours are original and mostly tropical. But obviously, they’re not “healthy”.

My new favourite are sparkling juices. I still call them sodas, because they do contain sparking water, but they’re often sweetened only with fruit. I had talked about Izze before, which I love – especially the blackberry and the pomegranate soda. My recent discovery, though, are the Ocean Spray sparkling juices. I didn’t try their diet versions, since I avoid artificial sweeteners, but I did try the cranberry as well as the pomegranate blueberry; the latter is my favourite. I found it somewhat by accident, as my grocery store was having a promotion for it. It’s in the fruit juice aisle, not in the soda aisle – after all, it does have a full serving of fruits per glass! It’s a great alternative to sweetened sodas.

I also tried Mash sodas in lemon peel/ginger root and in ripe mango/blood orange, both of which I found at Central Market. They tasted great, but even though sparkling water is the first ingredient, they were flat (there was the tiniest hint of sparkle, but I don’t think I would have detected it if I hadn’t been looking for it). The expiry date wasn’t until next year, though, so I’m wondering whether this is what they are meant to taste like. In which case, they’re good, but they’re not sodas.

Real Simple recently reviewed fruit sodas (see here. They mention San Pellegrino Aranciata, which is good, as is their lemonade. There’s also Italian sodas, which I love, and Izze. The other one of their picks that I’ve tried is the Blue Sky soda. While I like the taste of it (I tried both the black cherry and the lemon lime), the flaw is that it goes flat very quickly. I never drink the whole can in one sitting, so by the time I get back to it, it’s noticeably less sparkling; it seems that other sodas I have don’t go flat quite so quickly.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

I came across this recipe when I was writing that post about brown-bagging lunches. I changed the quantities a bit and used 2 Tbsp olive oil per 1 Tbsp vinegar, which works better for me (I think the salad would have been too oily otherwise). This makes 2 Tbsp olive oil total instead of the 4 Tbsp called for in the original recipe; the directions below give you either option. I loved the salad as is, but the Engineer is used to having mayonnaise with his tuna and would have preferred adding that to the dressing. It wouldn’t be as healthy, but you could do that if you want. This makes a generous 4 servings. I served the salad with Sephardic challah.

2 cans (15 oz each) white beans, such as Cannellini, Navy, or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
1 large 12-oz can (or 2 small 6-oz cans) of water-packed solid albacore tuna, drained
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup of fresh basil leaves, cut in ribbons
2 to 4 Tbsp cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the beans, tuna, tomatoes, onions, and basil together in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss gently to coat.

Serve over a bed of lettuce or with a crusty Italian bread on the side.

Sephardic Challah

I finally got around to making this bread. I thought challah always had eggs, but the Engineer tells me this is not so – perhaps I’m just used to Ashkenazic challah. It was easy to make and it looked really nice, too. It has less flavour than egg bread, but the seeds (caraway, sesame and anise) make up for it. The directions below only call for the first two, but you may reduce the amount and compensate with the aniseed – I used 3 Tbsp sesame seeds and 1 ½ tsp anise seeds. The Engineer and I both really liked this bread. I served it with tuna and white bean salad.

3 ½ Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
5 cups (780 grams) bread flour
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
2 cups warm water
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 egg, for glaze

In a skillet, toast the sesame and caraway seeds for a few minutes over moderate heat. (You may reduce the amount of sesame and caraway seeds and add anise seeds if you like.)

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and yeast with the water, olive oil and honey, and mix on low speed until a very soft dough forms. Add the salt and all but 1 Tbsp of the seeds and mix on medium-low speed, until dough is soft and supple, about 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until the dough has doubled, about 1 hour. (Normally I use a big bowl for this, and that’s what I recommend. That day, however, the big bowl was dirty, so I used a medium one, and I waited over 1 hour to check on the dough. This wouldn’t have been an issue with the big bowl, but let’s just say I got a little more than I bargained for!)

Put parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Dust parchment with cornmeal, if desired. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch long rope and let rest for another 5 minutes, then roll each rope into a 30-inch rope. Beginning with one end of the rope, which will be the center of the coil, work outward, forming each rope into a coil. Tuck the far end under the coil.

Transfer the coils to the baking sheets and cover with plastic wrap for about 1 hour, until nearly doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Whisk the egg with 1 Tbsp water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with the reserved seeds. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before slicing.