Monthly Archives: July 2018

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Shrimp Pesto Risotto

I bought a box of Arborio rice several years ago, to make risotto, and it ended up in the back top shelf of my pantry until this weekend. There was slightly under half a cup of rice left, just enough for two servings. I decided on a pesto risotto and referred to several recipes on line for ingredient amounts, proportions and technique for assembly. This is what I came up with.

Shrimp Pesto Risotto

Shrimp Pesto Risotto – serves 2

Sauteed Shrimp

12 large shrimp, peeled except for the tail
a pinch or two of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the shrimp and set aside in a small bowl.

Add the butter and olive oil to a medium sized saute pan. Place over medium heat and when the butter melts and starts to bubble a bit, add the shrimp. Saute until the shrimp just start to get pink, turn over to the other side until it changes colour as well. Remove the shrimp to a clean small bowl, cover and reserve.

Continue with the recipe for the pesto risotto, using the same saute pan.

Pesto Risotto

1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white part of green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2-3 cups warm chicken broth
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup basil pesto, room temperature **

** I used shiso/mint pesto

Add the oil to a medium skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat for a few minutes, until it gets soft and just begins to pick up some colour.

Add the rice and toast until lightly golden brown, another couple of minutes.

Pour in the warm chicken broth, half a cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until the current batch of stock is absorbed, every 5-6 minutes or so. (Keep the chicken stock warm in a covered saucepan on the stove.) Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is just barely tender.

Take the rice off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pepper, and pesto. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

Serve each portion of the risotto on a large flat plate and place half of the shrimp on top.

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Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Hash Brown Patties

During the summer, my monthly discretionary budget is pretty strict, but I recently had to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” due to some unexpected expenses. Which means that the pantry clear-out is even more important.

There was a large bag of frozen hash brown patties in the freezer with a paltry six patties left. What to do … what to do?

Bake the patties off first (20 min at 400 deg F) and then use your imagination.

If you’re cooking for a family of two to four, you can make all kinds of casserole dishes. Replace lasagna noodles with the patties for a potato lasagna and fill with sauteed veggies for a tasty Italian vegetarian option. However, the patties are also convenient for singles who don’t have a lot of time to whip up something filling.

I decided on Eggs Benedict (eggs are relatively cheap) on a potato patty with leftover Hollandaise. The sauce stands up to refrigeration far longer than the experts advise and with gentle reheating in the microwave just until you can spoon the sauce, you’ve got a great breakfast or lunch dish. Instead of ham, I used the last couple of slices of peameal bacon from the freezer. I had bought a peameal bacon roast on sale, a while ago, and sliced it myself into eight 3/8-1/2 inch slices and then portioned them for easy thawing, as needed.

Another option for the leftover Hollandaise: Add a couple of tablespoons of the cold Hollandaise to a serving of hot pasta. The heat of the pasta will melt the cold sauce creating a rich and creamy sauce. I like linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti.

The potato patties also make a tasty base for a pizza. I had some grated mozzarella cheese in the freezer and spooned on a couple of tablespoons of that spaghetti sauce that I got such a great deal on. A couple of fresh basil leaves from my sturdy Italian basil plant … and you’ve got a hash brown potato pizza Margherita.

Three patties down and three to go.

Pork Rib (Japanese Cabbage) Waffle Dinner

Pork ribs are tasty when they’re hot and fresh off the bbq, especially when slathered with bbq sauce. But, on reheating, they always seem to fall flat taste-wise. So I decided to try to cook them in a way that would get more flavour INTO the meat instead of just on top.

A recent purchase of a St. Louis style cut strip of ribs seemed well suited to the experiment. I tasted my current jar of barbecue sauce and although it was ‘just right’ in terms of smokiness, sweetness and tang, it was missing a bit of the spicy back note that I was craving. So, I dressed it up with some chunky chipotle in adobo and ground cumin. I thought the flavour profile would also marry with the leftover Mexican rice (plain long grain rice cooked with a package of Sazon’s Arroz con Azafran) that I was going to serve with the ribs.

Pork Spare Ribs – serves 3-4 portions, 3 bones a piece

1 1/4 kg St. Louis style ribs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup French’s mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup barbecue sauce*

* Add 1 tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo and 1/8 tsp ground cumin to the barbecue sauce and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavours to marry until the next day.

Peel off the membrane on the underside of the ribs. Combine sugar and mustard and rub over the ribs. Place in bag and let marinade in the fridge for 2-3 hrs or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Place the strip of ribs onto a large sheet of aluminum foil, folding it up around the sides to form a shallow tray. Pour the vinegar over the top of the ribs. Cover the ribs with another large sheet of aluminum foil and seal all four sides tightly so the contents don’t leak during baking. Place the foil pouch onto a large baking sheet and bake for 1 hr 45 min to 2 hrs, or until the meat is tender enough to pull off the bone easily.

(If you don’t have time to let the ribs marinate overnight, combine the brown sugar, mustard and vinegar, and brush over the ribs, top and bottom, pouring the remainder over the ribs. Continue with baking instructions above.)

Open the foil, spread the barbecue sauce (reserve 2 tbsp) over the top, return to the oven and continue baking, uncovered, for another 20-25 min.

Cut into 3-4 bone portions and serve with your favourite sides and the reserved barbecue sauce.

As sides for pork ribs, I usually go with the traditional … baked beans and coleslaw.

By chance, I recently watched an episode of the cooking show, “You Gotta Eat Here” which featured a restaurant that topped their waffles in various ways, including one with pulled pork shoulder. And then I remembered that there was a savoury pancake with shredded cabbage in the batter … the Japanese “okonomiyaki’. If I made my pancake in a waffle maker, I would have a very tasty fusion dish.

The idea was brilliant, even if my first attempt was flawed. I was tired, hungry and impatient and when my wonky old waffle maker got hot, I neglected to brush it with oil before pouring in the batter. The waffle STUCK so badly that I needed to chip most of it out of the waffle maker. I shaped the chunks into a rough rectangle, put my ribs on top and dug in.

A chunk of tender rib dipped into some of the reserved bbq sauce, a bit of the waffle, some of the sweet baked beans and I was in heaven. I made a nicer waffle the next day for the post. Cause that’s just the kind of food blogger I am.

Okonomiyaki Waffle

Waffle/Pancake Okonomiyaki Base – makes 1 waffle

1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour *
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp water or dashi broth
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vegetable oil **
3/4 cup cabbage, shredded (or bagged coleslaw mix)
2 stalks of green onion, green part only, slice into 1/4 inch rings

* For a southern/south-western pancake, use 2 tbsp all purpose flour and 2 tbsp finely ground cornmeal

** If sticking is not an issue in your waffle maker, omit the vegetable oil.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt, with a fork. Add the water, egg and vegetable oil and mix just until the flour is moistened. Avoid big lumps of flour but don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth. Add the shredded cabbage and green onions and fold through.

Add the mixture to a pre-heated waffle maker and cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. Mine took 5 min to cook through.

I shot a picture of the waffle ‘naked’ but you might want to top it with the barbecue sauce, as in the traditional okonomiyaki.

Inside the shredded cabbage waffle

REVIEW: I’m iffy on how much MORE flavourful the leftover pork ribs were (they were ok) but the waffles were an unqualified success.

No Churn Ice Cream Duo – Cherry Garcia Cheesecake and Black Sesame Seed

I brought home over a kilogram of beautiful sweet ripe cherries and after eating some out of hand, I wondered what I could make with the rest that didn’t involve some sort of baked goods using flour.

Ice cream seemed a perfect solution. I wanted to use as much cherry puree as possible to make the flavour stand out but was afraid that would thin out the ice cream base too much. Since I had a couple of ounces of cream cheese in the fridge, I though the addition would thicken the base, sort of a cheesecake version. And, at the last minute, I added the dark chocolate chunks for a Cherry Garcia cheesecake ice cream.

Cherry Garcia Cheesecake No Churn Ice Cream – recipe makes ~ 4 cups of ice cream

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp alcohol**
1 tbsp flavouring**
50 gm dark chocolate, cut into rough chunks, or mini chocolate chips
250 gm cherries, pitted (if sour, add 2 tbsp sugar)
57 gm (2 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

** If using an extract with an alcohol base, like vanilla extract or limoncello, as I have in the past, one tbsp of the extract is all you need. In this case, I used 1 tbsp of Kirsch, a cherry flavour liquer.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, flavourings and add ins. (NOTE: For the first attempt, I added the cream cheese, sugar and Kirsch to the bowl of a food processor and processed them together until the cream cheese was smooth. Then I added the sweetened condensed milk and the pitted cherries and pulsed them together briefly, scraped down the sides and pulsed the contents again. You want to leave some chunks. Turn out into a medium sized bowl. If you’ve pureed your cherries too much, pit and roughly chop 5-6 cherries and add them to the bowl.) Add the chunks of chocolate to your bowl of cherries.

In a medium sized bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Add about 1/4 of the whipped cream to the bowl of cherry flavoured sweetened condensed milk to lighten it up and then fold this mixture into the rest of the whipping cream, trying to deflate the whipped cream as little as possible.

Transfer the ice cream gently into a lidded 4 cup freezer safe/Tupperware container. Freeze for AT LEAST 6 hrs or overnight before serving. For maximum creamy texture, let the ice cream sit at room temperature for about 10-15 min before scooping.

And so that the rest of the can of sweetened condensed milk wouldn’t end up in the freezer, I wanted to make a second flavour. In contrast with the sweet fruitiness of the cherry ice cream, I decided on a simple black sesame seed ice cream. The flavour is subtle and the slight bitterness of the toasted and ground sesame seeds tones down the sweetness of the basic no churn recipe.

Black Sesame Seed No Churn Ice Cream Recipe – 3/4 cups whipping cream, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/2-2 tbsp toasted ground black sesame seeds, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt. Makes a bit over 2 cups of ice cream.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Tuna Noodle Casserole

A few weeks ago, I asked for suggestions on my FB groups as to what to do with canned tuna. One of the most popular suggestions was a tuna noodle casserole. I finally got around to making it and wondered why I’d waited so long. Cause this is some tasty stuff, folks.

For a recipe I went with the one from the Campbells (TM) website.

I was tempted to only use one can of tuna but, since I had five cans in the pantry, I splurged. I left out the pimento, since I didn’t have any, and topped the casserole with about a cup of crispy fried onions, from my pantry, instead of breadcrumbs. I also sprinkled some sweet paprika over the top, for colour.

 

 

Review: Delicious, if a bit bland. You might want to add about a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper to the mushroom soup/milk mixture before you add the cooked noodles and the rest of the ingredients.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

It’s always fun when you have all the ingredients for something that catches your eye.

I saw these delicious looking biscuits on one of the FB food groups I belong to. When I checked out the link I found that the recipe used whole wheat flour and fine porridge oats and not all purpose flour. I happened to have some leftover finely ground rolled oats, from a previous sourdough bread bake, in my pantry, so it was a win-win situation. Cookies/biscuits AND it used up another item from my pantry. The recipe, as posted by Paul Hollywood, seems to be similar to the McVitie brand of biscuits.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

 

  

Review: Just a touch of sweetness. I used a 72% dark cocoa chocolate for the coating but if you want something sweeter, a milk chocolate would be tasty as well.

Sometimes, my cooking choice is designed around using up a specific ingredient. Like  the cream of wheat dumplings (Hungarian grizgaluska) I made with the last 3/4 cup of cream of wheat in my pantry. And the pot of chicken stock made with a chicken carcass, a few chicken backs and about a dozen chicken thigh bones that I ran across, as I was transferring the contents of the upstairs freezer to the basement one. I served the dumplings in the resulting soup.

 

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust and Herbs Inside and Out

Last year I was feeling a bit adventurous so, along with my usual purchase of a 20 kg bag of Canadian all purpose flour ($19.99 including tax), I came home with a 1 kg bag of imported Italian Tipo 00 flour (Camino brand, $2.99). This is a very finely milled wheat flour often used for pizza dough and pasta, in Italy. This particular bag is listed as being made from soft wheat flour, though that’s not necessarily the case with all Tipo 00 flours.

I decided that, at that price, it better make some pretty amazing pizza dough.

And I kept putting off trying it out.

Until NOW … mostly because I want pizza and I’ve got less than a cup of all purpose flour in the house, and no intention of replacing my stash until some time in August.

NOTE: I calculated the protein content (5 gm per 42 gm of flour) at 11.9% confirming, that in this case, it IS a low protein flour.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for one 12 inch pizza

250 gm Tipo 00 flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant/bread machine yeast
140 gm room temperature water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix through. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast, water and olive oil. Mix through with your finger tips until all the flour has been moistened and then gather together into a ball.

Transfer the ball of dough to a clean working surface and knead, without adding any additional flour, for 5 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another 3-5 minutes until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled medium sized bowl, turning the ball in the oil to lightly cover. Cover tightly with a sheet of food wrap and drape a towel over the bowl. Put the bowl of dough into a warm place and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Degas the dough and round up into a ball, cover with the food wrap and then the towel and let the dough rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450-500 deg F about an hour before you want to bake your pizza.

Prepare your pizza baking sheet by sprinkling ground cornmeal lightly over the top. Stretch the dough onto your baking sheet. Top and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, the cheese is nice and bubbly and the underside and crust is golden brown. Remove the pizza to a cooling rack and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting so that the cheese has a chance to set.

Trial 1: The dough weighed 403 gm and it took 13 1/2 minutes to bake the pizza. I estimate that the oven had only been at temp (500 deg F) for about 15-20 minutes. The next time, I’ll start preheating the oven as soon as the pizza dough is ready for its hour of rest instead of waiting half an hour.

Review: There were only a few big bubbles in the pizza crust but they WERE there. I have a couple ideas of ways in which to get more of those bubbles. The underside of the crust was crisp, relatively thin and golden brown and the pizza crust itself was nice and chewy. It’s a good pizza, similar in taste and texture to one available from a popular local pizza restaurant and delivery place. And a lot cheaper. I’d buy the flour again if it was a good price.

And, on a side note: I like using fresh herbs in my cooking but nurturing them is a chore.

Cause … I get bored.

And distracted … so I don’t use them at their peak. In any case, this is my current inventory of culinary herbs.

Inside

Italian Basil

Japanese shiso/ perilla (3 overcrowded pots) and a sad lavender plant

Outside

Mint and Thyme – with a couple of green onion bulbs that I transplanted after harvesting the tops a few times

Thai Basil and Sage

Coconut Mango Panna Cotta and Defrosting Update

A picture of some lovely ripe mangoes (88 cents each) in the most recent Food Basics flyer led me to consider making either mango creme caramel or a mango panna cotta. I decided on the latter since it didn’t involve turning on the oven. In the current heat wave, even with the A/C on, that’s an important consideration.

I was able to get a couple of cups of a smooth and tasty mango puree from two mangoes. And, using a can of coconut milk in place of whipping cream let me get some extra flavour into the creamy dessert while reducing the calorie count.

Based on the proportions of gelatin and mango puree I found in a recipe on line, I came up with a recipe. And then I had to adjust THAT since my panna cotta didn’t set enough to turn out cleanly. The recipe below is a bit awkward but uses amounts of coconut milk and mango puree that minimize wastage or leftovers. Once I get through all this test batch of panna cotta, I’ll play with reducing the recipe to something that’s more practical for a single person.

Coconut Mango Panna Cotta – serves 6 or 7 1/4 cup portions

1 can (400 ml / 1 2/3 cup) coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup mango puree*
4 1/2 tsp gelatin (1 1/2 pkts Knox gelatin)**
2 tbsp room temperature water (or orange juice)

Mise en Place … after finishing this bowl of soup, I’m going to make my mango puree

* Two good sized ripe mangoes, diced and pureed in a stand blender, with as much juice as gathered while cutting and peeling the mangoes, should give you about 2 cups of mango puree. Taste the puree and, if needed, add a tablespoon or two of additional sugar before using.

** If using some other thickening agent, ie agar agar or sheets of gelatin, use enough to set 3 cups of liquid.

Scald the coconut milk. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool until just warm to the touch. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.

In a small bowl, empty the gelatin and stir in the orange juice and 2 tbsp of warm coconut milk. Stir/whisk until the gelatin is evenly moistened and then pour into the warm coconut milk. Whisk through. Add the mango puree and again, whisk until everything is evenly mixed together. (If desired, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to make sure there aren’t any mango fibres or undissolved bits of gelatin.)

Divide among as many small ramekins as desired. Portion size may vary from 1/4 to 1/3 or even 1/2 cup. Tap the bottom of the container, very gently, on a flat surface to release any bubbles in the panna cotta. If using fragile glasses, you may not wish to risk breakage so skip this step.

Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight, before serving.

NOTE: If you wish to turn out the panna cotta, lightly oil the ramekin with a neutral tasting oil. Otherwise, just pour into a pretty cup, let it set, and serve directly out of the cup.

Freezer Defrost Status: Before and After … as of July 1st, this is my upstairs freezer.