Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday crisis of faith


Every now and then you're introduced to something that totally challenges your belief system. This MSN news story did just that. It reported on the results of studies indicating that "repeated infections may damage a vital taste-sensing nerve in kids, perking a preference for rich foods and making them prone to weight gain later." The studies identified a 70% increased likelihood of becoming obese attributed to "the allure of food" felt by those with suspected taste-nerve damage. This series has limitations, like the fact that no subject were ever tested for nerve damage, but its findings are significant, and continue to contribute valuable insight into one of the possible contributing factors of obesity.

The reason this story has so intrigued me, is, if you haven't already guessed: I was a childhood sufferer of chronic ear infections. And, I love food. And, I'm very tough food critic. Could my foodie lifestyle be caused something as arbitrary as nerve damage?! Could this all just be the result of an accident? Scary thought.

On a related note, in this month's issue of Bon Appetit, food writer and recipe developer Melissa Clark shares her secrets for staying slim while living a food-focused lifestyle. It's a very good though jealously-inspiring read. (Read the first paragraph to see what I mean.) In sum: eat only food that you truly love and exercise all the time; seems to me that I've been doing that for some time now. There is something in there about portion control as well, but I'd hate to think that that would have any bearing on weight.

Watermelon salad



As summer draws to a close. (Yeah, I said it.) I though it best to post a great summer salad. It's also a ghost as Mr. Sunday and I are preparing for our upcoming trip to New York.

I made this when I was asked to bring a salad for a birthday/BBQ this summer. The combination of surprising flavours and visual interest make this a very impressive potluck contribution. Here is the recipe:

WATERMELON SALAD

Ingredients

Serves 4 (I doubled the recipe)
3 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon (rind removed), cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (a chiffonade*)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, broken into large pieces (about 1 cup)



*Sunday cooking school: Chiffonade (pictured top left). Stack basil leaves, roll and chope into thin ribbons. Here's a demo.


Instructions

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, lime juice, and half the basil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Divide among four plates. Garnish with crubled fetta cheese and remaining basil.

Best,

kh

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Sunday confessional: Potluck edition

Decorated version of my latest cheesecake (8/25/08)

Today's confession is all about the potluck.  I love potlucks because I see them as a personal challenge; a chance to unleash my somewhat well-hidden ultra-competitive side. 

But, there is a masochistic side to the potluck as well. No matter how impressive your dish, in the eyes of many at your function, you cannot top the Ramen noodle salad

In the end you just have to keep striving...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekday special: Cheesecake with strawberry sauce


I committed myself to a cheesecake today. So, here I am on Monday night blogging a good luck cheesecake for a colleague. It's been awhile since I've made a cheesecake (as I mentioned before I'm not a baker) so I thought I should throw my hat in the ring, if for nothing else than to keep from getting rusty. The recipe I used follows. But first, behold how many bricks of cream cheese you will need:


Shocking isn't it?

The rest of the ingredients

1 cup graham crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
5 pkg. (250 g each) Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325°F if using a silver springform pan. (Or, preheat oven to 300°F if using a dark nonstick springform pan.) Mix crumbs, 3 tbsp sugar and butter; press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 min.

Place cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 1 h 10 min. or until centre is almost set. Loosen cake from side of pan; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish as desired just before serving.






Strawberry (or any berry) sauce

1 cup sugar
1/2 water
600 g strawberries

Boil sugar and water for 12 min. Add strawberries and cook for 1 min.


Best,

kh

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mac n' Cheese (with salmon)


I mentioned last week that I would probably not be cooking today, as Mr Sunday and I would be busy with our ongoing bathroom renovations. But I did cook today. Not because the renovation went better than expected, but because they went very badly. How bad? Bad.

So we've called in professionals, and I made a recipe that I've made hundreds of times. There are many variations in the world of macaroni and cheese, and this is one of my favourites. You may omit the salmon. (But not the topping.) Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph well (but, then, neither does Mr. Sunday.)

Ingredients

5 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 cups milk
~3 cups macaronus
2 cans salmon
1 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Clean and de-bone salmon, if using. Cook macaronus according to package directions and drain. Make a roux* by melting 3 tbsp butter in a pan over medium heat and adding to that 3 tbsp flour, stiring continuously until flour is cooked (3–5 min). If you do not stir constantly, it will burn.

To the roux, slowly add 2 cups of milk, and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Pull off heat and add the cheese. Stir to incorporate, and continue to stir until sauce is uniform.

Transfer the macaronus to a large casserole dish and add cheese sauce and optional salmon. Stir to combine.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in microwave, and add to that 1 cup of bread crumbs. Top casserole. Bake in centre of oven for 30 min.





I may post a ghost of Sunday's past next week, as Mr. Sunday and I will be getting ready to leave for New York the following day. I leave you with this link to gridskipper's guide to the best macaroni and cheese in New York.

Best,

kh

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*A roux is the basis for all cream sauces; it is crucial to get it right.
Note: Sunday Bloody Sunday is the just-coined tag that will be given to all food-related and other disasters.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How to slice an avocado


Here's me demonstrating on an over-ripe specimen.


Cut into the avocado until you hit the pit and run you knife around the outside of the avocado. Twist apart. To remove the pit hold the avocado in one hand and tap the pit with the edge of the blade so that the pit will come out as you pull it back. Slice the avocado vertically while in the skin, being careful not to cut through the skin (the skin's pretty tough, so this shouldn't be an issue. Scoop the avocado slices out of the skin by running a spoon along the skin. For a dice, run slice horizontally as well before scooping.

It pains me to see anyone try to slice an avocado any other way.

Best,

kh

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Modern Club


Not only was the fabulousness of the original pork roast dinner unexpected, but it begot an equally impressive dinner sandwich. Here's the recipe:

LEFTOVER PORK CLUB SANDWICHES

Ingredients

6 slices bacon
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 green onions, copped fine
coarse salt and ground pepper
6 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted
~1/2 lb roasted pork, room temperature, thinly sliced
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
4 thin slices Swiss cheese (3–4 oz)

Instructions

Cook bacon until crispy and drain (on paper-towel-lined plate).

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and scallions; season with salt and pepper.

Place bread on a work surface; spread one side of each slice with mayonnaise mixture. Layer 2 slices with pork and avocado; layer 2 other slices with sprouts, bacon, and cheese. To assemble sandwiches, stack layers; top each with 1 remaining slice.

Spear sandwiches with toothpicks and quarter.



Best,

kh

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pork roast with warm sweet potato and bean salad OR "Roast pork, will you stay in this house and rock my world?"


Programming note: The Sundays have dedicated  this weekend and next renovating our upstairs bathroom. Then, it's off to New York City, and back in time for Sunday.  So, here is a Ghost of Sundays Past, and a confessional.  (Expect another ghost next week.)

The confession? I love Rock of Love. It is my ultimate guilty pleasure, and yet I feel no shame. In fact over the last 2 seasons I've even come to genuinely like Bret, and no, I don't it conflicts at all with my feminist leanings. It is both a intimate portrait of the rocker/groupie lifestyle and a poignant illustration of the effects that media images can have on young women. I also add that I could swear I went to high school with some of those girls. (Noticed that I didn't say I was into his music.)

I could go on and on about this, but I won't because I have to tell you what this has to do with this recipe.  Well here it is: This is a Sunday dinner that was never meant to be blogged.  (hense no prep pictures.) Why? Because it was thrown together during commercial breaks during a particularly pivotal episode of Rock of Love. It turned out though that the recipe was too good not to blog about.  So, here it is:

PORK ROAST WITH WARM SWEET POTATO AND BEAN SALAD

Ingredients

3 lb center-cut boneless pork loin
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime), plus wedges for serving
1 can (14 1/2 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450°, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Place pork on a rimmed baking sheet.

Rub with 1 teaspoon oil; season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Roast on upper rack until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of meat registers 140° (45–60 min). Remove from oven, and cover loosely with aluminum foil; let rest about 10 minutes.

About 15 minutes after pork has begun roasting, place sweet potatoes on another rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with red-pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Roast on lower rack, until tender, tossing once during cooking (25–35 min).

In a large bowl, whisk lime juice with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes, beans, onion, and mix gently to combine.

Thinly slice pork, and serve with salad.

The finished product:

Best,

kh

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday confessional

I am not one to make emotional purchases. But today I had to have the Kapoosh. It's the next generation in knife storage technology. It's superiority is explained here. Read about it and you won't question why I'm so excited. Mine is pictured above, making my old chef's knife feel bad about itself. If you know anyone who would be interested in a Henkel in-drawer knife holder, contact me — It's dead to me now.

Little Thimbles Scuie Scuie


There are many variations of this delicious and healthy recipe, the lastest of which appears to be on the cover of this month's issue of Real Simple, but this version comes from Giada De Laurentiis.

LITTLE THIMBLES SCUIE SCUIE

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups tubetti
~8 large basil leaves coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
~5 plumb tomatoes chopped
1 container bocconcini balls (cut to 1/2 inch pieces, if necessary).




Instructions

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, saute garlic in oil, add tomatoes, cook for a few minutes, add drained pasta, take off heat, add chese and basil, stir until melty.




Best,

kh

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Monday's Bolognese


Here is the first in a regular series that I hope to feature called "Monday brought to you by Sunday." That's where the previous night's dinner informs a new meal. Martha is famous for this device, and here is how she reinvents the previous night's Bolognese sauce:

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large pot, fry ~3 zucchini cut legthwise and quartered in 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 min.

Add last night's sauce to the pot and combine.

Make biscuit topping. (Note: This is as close as I come to baking.) To do this whisk together 1 cup flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp salt. Add 3 tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces. Combine with fingers (or pastry fork) until tiny pieces of butter are distributed throughout. Add 3/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup grated parmesan and stir to form dough.

Pour sauce into a large casserole dish and top with dollops of biscuit mix.




Bake for 25 min.

Best,

kh

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday's Bolognese


I thought it fitting to start with one of my favourite's recipes. For those of you unfamiliar with Bolognese sauce, here is all you need to know: classic Italian; rich, hearty meat sauce; slightly creamy; gets its unique flavour from wine. Problem is: it typically takes 2.5 to 3 h to make, and that's just too long. Martha has managed to condense the recipe to 1.5 h, without sacrificing taste. I have however discovered a  shortcut that will save you time and possibly a trip to the emergency room. Here it is:


While I pride myself on my knife skills, even I admit that there's no safe way to chop a carrot, and for this recipe, thy need to be finely chopped. (They should almost melt into the sauce.) The trick: buy a bag of julienned carrots, measure the right amount, gather the matchstick-size pieces into bundles, and chop as usual with fingers facing away from the blade. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

That potential landmine averted, here's the recipe:


Ingredients


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped (3 cups)
3 carrots, finely chopped (1 cup)
6 cloves garlic , minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup tomato paste
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes in puree
1 cup milk
12 oz spaghetti
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

Make sauce: In a Dutch oven (or 5-quart saucepan), heat oil over high heat. Add onions, carrots, and garlic; cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 min. Add beef and pork; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 min. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 min. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add wine and tomatoes. Bring sauce to a simmer; cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour. Add milk; simmer until completely absorbed, about 15 min more. Season again with salt and pepper.

When sauce is almost done, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions; drain. Toss pasta with half the meat sauce; save remaining sauce for next day. Serve sprinkled with cheese.




Best,

kh

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