Monday, September 28, 2009

Ashley's basil gnocchi: Still getting creative with pasta


Just when I said I don't make my own pasta, I go and make gnocchi from scratch!

I feel justified, however, because a) there's a huge shortcut in this recipe that I couldn't resist passing along, and b) I had a lot very ripe tomatoes on my hands.

The tomatoes came from a colleague's garden, so I had to use them. (That's right, not only do the people I work with bring me recipes, they occasionally supply the ingredients. As if that weren't enough, some of them actually read this blog, yet curiously, they do not comment. Love my job!)

The first half-basket of tomatoes went into Giada's incomparable Little Thimbles Scuie Scuie. The second half, into this recipe that substitutes the mashed potatoes of the traditional recipe with the instant variety, and was recently featured as part of a set recipes, developed in the Food Network Kitchens, that feature instant mash as the star ingredient.

This particular recipe was created by chef Ashley Archer. I followed it pretty much to the letter and it was delicious, so I'm just linking it: ASHLEY'S BASIL GNOCCHI.













Best,

kh

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last week's leftovers: Week of 9/20/09



Last week:

The Guardian introduced me to the above fascinating 2007 video of Christopher Walken making a chicken. I want to see a series!

At the farmer's market adapted 60's protest songs performed by the Friends of Lansdowne Park warned of the suburbanization of downtown Ottawa, more specifically, this group believes that "this sole-sourced, mega project that will cost City taxpayers millions of dollars, commercialize public land, create a transportation and parking nightmare, and have a huge, negative impact on neighboring communities." Developers claim that these fears are unwarranted, but still I get my back up at the mention of "suburbs," and I’m not willing to lose my farmer’s market while a mega-mall is built on its site (regardless of what the finished product will look like). Public consultations begin tomorrow.




Via twitter "Luigi," the animated character that has been guiding patrons around the construction morass of Preston St.,  made an ill-timed announcement that he will be "taking some time to focus on being a chef." What he needs to do is take some time to help out the construction crew because the street has never looked worse. Progress has moved at a snail's pace, and sooo many people want to see this work completed.

This lime cake was delicious.

Over at Gawker I saw gross photos of real German food (and they got a book deal?!), and I read about Germany’s worst job in the Times. This effectively killed whatever interest I had in attending Oktoberfest, which means that now I’ll have to find some other way to meet George Wendt (it's on my life list.) ;-)

Best,


kh

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best. Tip. Ever.

Chocolate hazelnut ravioli with Beau's (beer) and milk chocolate ice cream.

There are many reasons why you will not see me attempt to make my own pasta (not the least of which is the fact that I live a block away from Little Italy.) Other reasons include the availability of a multitude of excellent dried and fresh grocery store varieties and my general aversion to dough. But, most of all it's because, a while ago, I discovered this ridiculously easy way to get creative with ravioli.

All you need is: wonton wrappers (available in any grocery store), cornstarch and filling.*

Instructions: Dust a cookie sheet or storage container with cornstarch. Dissolve 2 tbsp of cornstarch in water. Spoon about 1 tbsp of filling onto a wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and seal the inside edges with the cornstarch liquid. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 1 hr. To cook: boil for 3 min, or steam in a bamboo steamer lined with parchment for 4 min.


Fillings could include:
 – chocolate (my latest discovery; pictured above, made with a Cadbury's chocolate hazelnut bar)
– cooked pumpkin or butternut squash purée — serve with tomato sauce and chèvre or browned butter and sage
– crab meat with chopped red peppers and a splash of heavy cream — sauté in lemon butter and chopped chives
– ricotta and chopped shiitake mushrooms — serve with tomato sauce
– corn and black bean
– salmon and black sesame seed
– Peking duck amd orange zest
– chopped shrimp and green onions

On that high note I'm ending the tradition of posting a weekly tip. (For a little while anyway.)

Best,

kh

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last week's leftovers: Week of 9/13/09




Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and "Father of the Green Revolution" died this week.  Read a little about his life and work here.

On a much more trivial note:


I tried a great recipe for colourful carrots, which are in plentiful supply at farmers markets right now, from the latest issue of Food & Drink. I'll post a link to the recipe once it's up on the LCBO website (recipes are always posted an issue behind).

Conviction Kitchen is the worst, most exploitative food reality show I have ever seen, and to make matters worse it's Canadian!  

I got the inside scoop that Pascale's Ice Cream is experimenting with a baseball-inspired flavour that will feature beer-flavoured ice cream, red-skinned roasted peanuts and chocolate-covered pretzels.

Finally, I first heard the sad news of Patrick Swayze's passing from none other than Jamie Oliver. How can that be, you ask? One word: twitter.
 
And, just so you don't have to go searching on YouTube:



Best,

kh

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tip of the week: Winners never quit...



...and quitters never win.

Now, I'm not saying I'm not a quitter. Au contraire, I'm actually quite an accomplished quitter, and it hasn't always been for the worse, like when I quit smoking or cheap grocery store meat.

Still, you can't dispute the fact that in some areas of life persistence pays, and for some reason, I've latched onto this recipe, to prove the point.

My first attempt was a massive fail.

The second, fixing everything that I thought was wrong with the original, produced a slightly improved product. Shawn said is was great and then proceeded to steer clear of the huge quantity of leftovers for the rest of the week.

I'm disappointed, but I do think I'll try this one again, changing the type of hot dog again* and reducing the quantity of beans used.†

In the meantime, if anyone has tried this recipe and liked it, please let me know.
 
Best,

kh

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*This time I used  a different type of grass-fed organic beef hot dog, but they still tasted really off. I think my first hunch — that "grass-fed organic beef hot dog" was a contradiction in terms, was correct.

†According to the quantities listed in the recipe I should have use 5 regular-sized cans of beans. I used 4 and that made enough to serve the average Rachel Ray studio audience. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last week's leftovers: Week of 9/5/09



Top Chef, episode 1 elimination/seitan dissing.

GOOP is back after a month-long hiatus! Now lets all get back to nourishing our inner aspects...

Top Chef is back (in Canada) and we learn that seitan can be the kiss of death in competition. Why am I not surprised?

Home grocery delivery gets a makeover — that's right, it's not just for shut-ins anymore.

My online calorie diary (which I've been badly neglecting) profiles the ubiquitous (in my house anyway) Smartfood — not so bad after all, huh?

I discovered a new flavour of Pascale's ice cream — "Jean Albert's Sweet potato pie." It was sooo good and reminded me that I'm long overdue for a return trip to JA's.

Best,

kh

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What's for Brinner?


Around here we eat eggs for dinner, and occasionally pancakes. Die-hard Scrubs fans (don't tell me I was the only one) will know that this is what is referred to as "brinner" (breakfast for dinner) and is apparently very popular with the male of the species.

Our brinners regularly feature frittatas (crustless quiches; see left), and this week I tried out a new recipe brought to us by the Egg Farmers of Ontario*:

PIZZA FRITTATA

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
2/3 cup sliced pepperoni or veggie pepperoni
8 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Seasoning Mix (packet or recipe below)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pizza or tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

Heat oil in a 10-inch non-stick, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft. Add pepperoni; cook for 1 min.

Beat eggs and Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Stir in seasoning packet (or Single Seasoning Mix recipe below) and salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetable mixture in skillet. As egg sets at edges, use spatula to gently push cooked portions toward the centre of the skillet; tilt skillet to allow uncooked portions to flow into the empty spaces. When frittata is almost set (8-10 min), place pan on upper oven rack under pre-heated broiler to cook top.

Remove from oven, spread with pizza sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven until cheese melts. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 min. Remove frittata from skillet and cut into wedges and serve.

Note: Frittata recipe can be halved for small skillet. Frittata can also be cooked completely on stove top; proceed as above, cooking frittata until set before adding pizza sauce and cheese, then covering skillet with lid to melt cheese.

Seasoning mix:
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Combine seasonings in a small bowl; stir until blended. Use as directed above.


*I picked up this recipe card (with seasoning packet!) at a local farmers' market. I have an extra one, so be the first to email me (address in complete profile) and it's in the mail. (Exciting, I know, but it's kind of hard to beat brinner.)

Best,

kh

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tip of the week: Cookies on demand













Cookie-emergency preparedness.

The excellent recipe for Trail mix freezer cookies in this month's Bon Appetit is a perfect example of a dough (not created by Pillsbury) that can be easily portioned and frozen for future use.

You can then bake these one (or two) at a time, or whip up a whole batch. If making a batch, though, make sure you space the cookies adequately as per the recipe's instructions, lest you end end up with one huge trail mix cookie. (I came perilously close.)

Best,

kh

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Halibut with chili-orange butter





The summer-that-never-was is waning, and I'm finding myself spending most my free time watching the US Open. In other words, I'm lazy and devoid of inspiration for blogging. (I'm even watching doubles!)

I did however throw together a great meal last Sunday:

HALIBUT WITH CHILI-ORANGE BUTTER

Ingredients


4 halibut , about 6 oz each
1 tbsp hot Thai chili-garlic sauce
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450°.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place fish on sheet. In a small bowl, stir chili-garlic sauce with orange juice concentrate and butter. Spoon overtop fish. Roast in centre of preheated oven until a knife tip inserted in centre of fish comes out warm, 10 to 15 min depending on thickness of fish.

I use this glaze for halibut all the time, but I think it would go nicely with salmon as well. You'll note that I omitted the coriander in the original recipe because, as I mentioned before, I hate coriander. (Really must write a whole post about that.)

Best,

kh

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

More than one way to poach an egg?


Yes, there is. But, unfortunately the second one is not that much easier than the first.

Add water to large skillet, filling 2/3 full. Reduce heat and simmer. Break an egg into each of 4 ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins in water. Cover and simmer for 4 min for runny yolks. Remove ramekins from water. To remove egg, run a small rubber spatula around the edges and slide the egg out.
Technically this worked, but the egg removal is not so easy as those ramekins are hot. Also, some water managed to get into 2 of the ramekins durning cooking, which made the egg removal extra difficult in those cases.

When the technique is executed perfectly (above), the results are definitely cuter than eggs poached according to the traditional method (at right), but still, I'm not sold.

There's something magical about the traditional method that I just don't think should be messed with. See this video for step-by-step instructions.

Best,

kh

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last week's leftovers: Week of 8/23/09



Last week:


The new all-recipe September issue of Gourmet hit newsstands and it's truly inspiring.


I entered a contest to win a $25,000 IKEA kitchen makeover 'cause my kitchen sucks.
Behold my tiny oaken prison.

Best,

kh

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