Monthly Archives: January 2018

Pineapple Margarita

In a recent back and forth on FB, pineapple margarita came up. Since I had all the ingredients, I made a half batch and distributed the drink among two champagne coupes.

Pineapple Margarita – serves 2

1/2 cup tequila
3 tbsp triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tsp sugar (add more to taste)
crushed ice

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice; shake vigorously until blended. Strain into margarita glasses.

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January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream

 

Nokedli/Spaetzle with Eggs

I haven’t made these free-form egg noodles (or dumplings) in some time. They’re a variation on regular pasta and traditionally served as a side dish with stews and cutlets. In Hungary, they’re known as nokedli while in Germany/Austria, they’re called spaetzle.

I’ve posted a nokedli recipe before but this is a half batch made with parsley and combined with eggs. First though, one of the traditional dishes served with the nokedli.

Chicken Cutlet (Rantott Csirke) with Parsley Dumplings Nokedli)

Preparing chicken cutlets

Pounding cutlets flat

Dipping in flour, beaten egg and seasoned bread crumbs

Pan fried cutlet

Parsley Nokedli/Spaetzle

Parsley Nokedli/Spaetzle – serves 2

For dumplings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1 /2 cup water or milk

For boiling and serving dumplings
2 tbsp butter, melted for sauteing cooked nokedli
1 tbsp salt, added to water for boiling the nokedli

Combine the flour, eggs, dried parsley, salt and water. Beat vigorously to form a smooth, pliable batter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water.

Place a dumpling (or spaetzle) maker over the pot. Push the dough through the holes into the boiling water below. When the dumplings float, scoop them up and place them into a large colander to drain.

(Rinse the dumplings under cold running water if not serving immediately. Drain the dumplings shaking the colander to remove all excess water. Reserve to heat up with melted butter for later.)

Pour the dumplings into a large bowl and add the melted butter. Toss to coat with butter.

Serve with chicken paprikas or add to a stew for more body.

You can heat the dumplings in a frying pan with melted butter. Do not let the dumplings get too brown or crisp.

Hungarian Dumplings with Eggs (Tojasos Nokedli)

Hungarian Dumplings with Eggs (Tojasos Nokedli) – serves 2

2 cups of nokedli from recipe above
2-3 eggs, beaten with a pinch or two of salt and several grinds of black pepper
2 cooked Debrecener sausages, sliced or 4 slices crispy bacon, chopped (optional)

Warm up the nokedli in a large saute pan. Pour the beaten eggs over the nokedli.

Stir continuously until all the eggs are cooked. Add sausages, if using.

Serve immediately.

BBQ Pork Skillet Pasta

Leftover pulled pork in your freezer? There are SO many possible ways of using it up. Like this skillet pasta.

In this recipe, the pasta is cooked in the skillet in chicken broth, but, if you have leftover pasta, you can add it to your skillet and reduce the chicken broth used by at least half. An alternative to the pulled pork, is leftover rotisserie chicken.

BBQ Pork Skillet Pasta

BBQ Pork (or Chicken) Skillet Pasta – serves 2-3

1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion (or 1 tbsp sauteed onion)
dash garlic powder
200 gms Scoobi Doo (cavatappi) or rotini uncooked pasta
1-1/4 cups canned dice tomatoes, with broth
2-2 1/4  cups chicken broth (and water, if needed)
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1 cup pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar  or Monterey Jack cheese
1 green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Optional
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

Heat olive oil in a large skillet that has a lid with it over medium heat. Saute the diced onion until tender.

Add the dry pasta, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, dash of garlic powder and bbq sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine and bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Sir in the shredded pork or rotisserie chicken.

Top the pasta with the shredded cheese and cover with the lid until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

Serve with a scattering of the green onion as garnish, if you have any.

Egg Whites … Sweet and Savoury

I often have extra egg whites to deal with and, though meringues are fast and easy to make, I wanted to switch things up, so I decided to make an egg white omelette.

OMELETTE PICTURE FAIL WARNING:

Turning the omelette out onto the plate was a disaster. I was SURE it was freed up in the frying pan, but it turned out it was still attached, and fell apart. So I dressed it up with more sliced avocados… delicious. Next time I have extra egg whites, I’m going to make this again.

Three Egg White Omelette – serves one

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (if not using sauteed veggies)
3 egg whites
1/2 tbsp water
pinch of salt
grind of black pepper

Fillings – amounts are estimates

1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 thinly sliced green onion
1-2 strips of red or green pepper, diced
sauteed mushrooms
2-3 oz sauteed spinach
1-2 slices grilled tomatoes or 1/4 cup sauted diced tomatoes
diced avocados

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, water, and a pinch salt and pepper, just until frothy. Lightly coat a medium nonstick skillet or omelet pan with cooking spray (or EVOO) and heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the egg whites, swirling to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until set, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a rubber scraper lift the eggs up and let the runny uncooked egg flow underneath.

Spoon filling onto half of the omelette, fold over the empty half, and slide the finished omelette onto a serving plate.

PICSPAM: I posted some pretty pink meringue pictures to make up for the less than photogenic omelette above. Enjoy.

I just listed the ingredients for the meringues cause everyone should know how to make them already. And if you don’t, you can search back on my LJ (or blog) for recipes I’ve posted.

Three Egg White Meringues/Pavlovas – flavoured and with colour trim

3 egg whites
3/4 cups of white sugar
pinch of salt
3 1/3 tbsp Jello powder (optional)
1 tbsp white vinegar
gel colouring paste (optional decoration used on piping bag)

 

Vietnamese Baguettes (Banh Mi)

PICTURE HEAVY POST:

These tasty breads are a product of the French colonization of Vietnam and similar to the French baguette. They’re usually filled with sweet and tangy pickled vegetables and an assortment of cold cuts or warm grilled meats.

I made a trio of baguettes using the recipe posted on “Danang Cuisine” website. Though I weighed the all purpose flour and water carefully, my dough ended up much wetter than in the pictures posted or on the accompanying video so I added another 1/2 cup (~60 gm) in order to get a dough that was no longer sticky and firm enough to  shape easily.

Pictorial Recipe

Creating the sponge … just mixed, two hours later, and after addition of the reserved flour

Additional flour/kneading, after doubling and shaping

Baguettes ready for proofing, proofed, slashed and ready for baking

Baked baguettes with a shot of the underside

Interior of the baguette

 

Banh Mi filled with flaked Sriracha mayonnaise, basted and baked, salmon, romaine and extra mayo (actually Miracle Whip)

Cross-section and crumb of the baguette

Harissa Chicken Kofta

Kofta are a popular Middle Eastern dish of ground (minced) meat, ie. lamb, chicken, beef or even pork, which may be shaped into meatballs, patties or loaves. Or sausage shaped and threaded onto skewers and then grilled. It’s the latter that I decided to make and bake off in the oven, as winter in Ontario, Canada is NOT a good time to go outside and fire up your barbecue.

Harissa is a spicy chili pepper paste common to the Middle East (Tunisia) which gives flavour to the blandest of dishes. I recently bought a dry spice blend at Bulk Barn and decided to give some zip to my chicken skewers by adding a generous amount to the meat mixture along with some other spice blends from my pantry.

Harissa Chicken Kofta

Harissa Chicken Kofta – serves 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks roughly one inch in size
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Harissa spice blend
1/4 tsp Chicken shawarma spice blend
1/4 tsp Bharat spice blend

Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit.

In a food processor add all of the above ingredients and pulse until you get a relatively homogenous mixture with some texture left to the meat.

Divide into four portions and with wet hands, form into 4-4 1/2 inch sausages. Thread onto soaked wooden skewers and place onto a baking sheet lined with a sheet of aluminum foil generously coated with vegetable oil.

Bake for 20-25 min, turning after 10 minute, until set with some bounce left to the meat. Turn on the broiler and broil for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.

Serve with the starch of your choice … roasted potatoes, rice or couscous as a main dish.

Sushi Condiments (Pt. 2) – Repurposing Mayonnaise Based Sauces

Repurposing leftover Sriracha and wasabi mayonnaise can be a challenge, but the results are sometimes pretty amazing.

Sriracha Mayonnaise – Salmon fillet brushed with mayonnaise, pan-seared in a hot cast iron frying pan on the stove for 3-4 minutes, and then finished in a 425 deg F oven. A brief (1-2 minutes) time under the broiler will give the top a perfect finish. Serve the salmon with your favourite rice dish and a green salad.

  

Wasabi Mayonnaise … Dip for Oven Baked Parmesan Potato Wedges

Oven Baked Parmesan Potato Wedges – serves 4

4 medium potatoes, skin on, cut into 8 wedges, rinsed and dried
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, toss the potato wedges with the rest of the ingredients. Spread the coated potatoes out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 min, or until the potatoes are tender.

Serve with your favourite mayonnaise dip ie wasabi mayonnaise

Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup

During a pre-Christmas visit, my SIL mentioned a syrup soaked cake that my mother had made years ago. She had discussed the dish with a work colleague who was curious about the dish but didn’t have a lot of recipe details to share with her. Since it had been a long time since I’d tasted the dessert myself, I was vague on details, but I thought it contained semolina. My nephew, however, thought it was finely ground cornmeal. His memory has been proven to be better than mine, in the past, but I thought I was right this time.

My mom never wrote down any of her recipes and I had, over the years, done some web searches for dishes that I remembered having eaten and liked. I was pretty sure I had saved something similar on one of those searches so I checked my hard drive, before I went web surfing again.

I ran across a recipe for a Greek semolina cake, with orange syrup, from “The Spruce” website, called “revani/ravani” which I thought I’d give a try. A similar dish, with Arabic/Algerian origins, is known as “basbousa”.

Since I was only cooking for one, I decided to scale down the recipe, designed to be baked in a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and baked it in an 8 by 8 inch disposable aluminum baking pan.

Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup – served with a spoonful of sweetened whipping cream

Just before folding the beaten egg whites into the rest of the batter.

Ready to bake

The baked cake after soaking in the syrup.

Cut and decorated with sliced almonds. It turned out well, though I decided to get creative in my cutting, and ended up touching the top of the cake, while it was soaking in the syrup, with my flexible cutting board which I was using as a guide. It took the top layer off the cake … so the result wasn’t as pretty as I hoped. And my cutting design was disappointing.

Conclusion: An easy to make cake, tasty and moist. The texture isn’t as ‘grainy’ as I remember my mom’s being. Maybe she used a coarser semolina grind, #2 not the finely ground #1, that the recipe called for.

If making this cake again, I’d cut it into 2 inch squares and not scale down the soaking syrup, since there wasn’t enough to get to the center of the cake.

Home Made Sushi … Preparation and Condiments (Pt. 1)

Making sushi at home is easier than many imagine.

There are a few basic ingredients: short grain sushi rice, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, toasted nori sheets (full or half size). Fillings vary, of course, but the unsung heroes of sushi are the condiments like soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.

And sauces … to include in your roll or to drizzle over the rolls for a garnish.

Sriracha and Wasabi Mayonnaise

Unless you’re planning on a big party, only make small amounts of the sauce shortly before making your sushi rolls.

Basic Mayo Sauce Recipe – 1/4 cup home made or commercial mayo (or Miracle Whip) and 1/2 tsp Sriracha or a rounded 1/2 tsp of wasabi powder. Stir into the mayo and taste. Add more of the add in, or the mayo depending on your preference.

Getting ready to make the sushi rolls: sharp knife, working/cutting surface, rolling mat and a freezer bag to wrap the mat in so it stays clean.

Nori … nori sheets have a smooth/shiny side and a rough side (left of the picture). The rice is placed on the rough side.

Along with making the more commonly known maki sushi rolls, I made something called “gunkan” or battleship sushi.

Instructions for making the Gunkan sushi:

1 1/2 inch wide strip of nori
2-3 tbsp (~40 gm) cooked rice per rice ball, shaped into a 1 1/2-2 inch oval.

Wrap the strip of nori around the rice ball.

 

Top with about a tablespoon of desired filling … like the spicy Sriracha shredded ‘crab stick’ below.