Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Weekend of Eating in

Yesterday I made a deliciously creamy  potato, spinach, chive and smoked Gruyere frittata from Food & Drink magazine (recipe not available online).

And today I made maple-gazed tuna with a variation of smitten kitchen's warm butternut squash and chickpea salad — a dish that photographed so badly that I could not bring myself to post a pic. The salad, which I'd been wanting to try for a while now, did not disappoint. You will have have to brush your teeth immediately after eating it, but it's sooo worth it.

So the Week of Eating in has come to a close. Can I please go out to eat now?!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Week of Eating in: Friday — Butternut sqaush mac and cheese

It's back!

I've seriously revamped my prized butternut squash mac and cheese recipe over the last couple of months. It's now healthier than the original and vegetarian friendly.

Here's the latest version:



1 lb (~450 g) macaroni
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped into 1-inch cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable stock
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1½ cups shredded old cheddar (~1 brick)
~5 slices whole grain bread


Toss the cubed squash in 1 tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30–40 min until tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta to al dente, drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat and slowly stir in ¼ cup flour to form a roux. Off heat, slowly whisk in 1 cup of milk, then 1 cup of stock. Return to medium low heat until sauce fully blends and thickens. Lower heat to lowest setting. Add nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Stir in cheese. Add roasted squash to the sauce. For a smoother consistency use a hand mixer to blend to desired smoothness, or transfer half the sauce to a blender and puree.

Combine pasta and sauce in a large casserole dish.

In a food processor, pulse bread with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni.

Broil until topping is nicely browned (~2–5 min). Let stand 10 min before serving.

Looking back at the original post, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the photography has improved  with only slightly more effort on my part and a marginally fancier camera.

More to come tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Week of Eating in: Thursday — Fish tacos

Two words: fish tacos. Need I say more? Apparently, because whenever I mention fish tacos in casual conversation, people always seem to want to know more. Disturbingly, I've discovered that there are people out there who have never even heard of a "fish taco."

I've tried many recipes, but I usually make some variation of this one that I found in the New York Times Magazine a few years back. For those of you who've never made these, I think you're missing out.

A much improved old favorite is on the menu for tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Week of Eating in: Wednesday — Zucchini pizza

Nothing to see here; I've made this one before. Though this attempt was improved with the addition of tomato sauce and by substituting cream cheese for chèvre.

So delicious, healthy and satisfying — more than enough to get me over the hump!

I'll try and make something special tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Week of Eating in: Tuesday — Pearl onions & vodka cream sauce with penne

I decided to cook one of my favorite quick pastas for day two of the Week of Eating in with the leftovers doing double duty as lunches for days three and four.

Ingredients: 1 pkg pearl onions, peeled and halved; 1 tbsp olive oil; 1 16-oz can diced tomatoes; 700g penne (~3/4 of a large pkg); 1/2 cup vodka; 1 cup half-and-half; salt and pepper to taste. 
Instructions: Cook penne according to package. Meanwhile, Heat oil and saute onions until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook to reduce for about 15 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add vodka and stir, then add cream. Simmer for 5-8 min, then combine with penne.

A demain!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Week of Eating in: Monday — Apple walnut tuna melt

I'm switching things up this week because I'm participating the Huffington Post's Week of Eating in. In other words, I've committed to making (from scratch) all of the food I eat this week (and posting each recipe I make). These will be some of my favorite go-to (read: easy) recipes. I'm not going too fancy, since cooking every meal of the week will be challenging. (Though I have a friend who would remind me that this is considered a "first world problem.")

Today's APPLE WALNUT TUNA MELT recipe comes from the 20-minute Supper Club. It may not look like much, but trust me, it's delicious — so much more than your average tuna and mayo.

If you're interested in participating in the Week of Eating in, it's not too late to take the pledge.

Drop by tomorrow!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Papparedelle is for lovers

I love going out to dinner on Valentine's Day so I'm definitely not cooking tonight, but I will share with you a new recipe that I've taken a shine to. There's everything to love about this one — it's the perfect balance of bitter and sweet tossed with buttery noodles. It's unique and colourful and also pretty healthy.

I was nervous about cooking with pine nuts because of news of a North American "pine mouth" outbreak. From what I've heard pine mouth can not only ruin a romantic evening, it can affect your sense of taste for weeks, so be careful what brand you buy.



1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1 (8- to 9-oz) package pappardelle (preferably egg pasta), broken into large pieces
1/2 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata or Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 oz)


Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, then continue to cook until it is golden brown, about 2 min. Add oil, then squash, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 min. Add radicchio and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 min.

Meanwhile, cook pappardelle in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to radicchio mixture with 1/2 cup cooking water and toss over low heat until heated through, 1 to 2 min. Add more cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Serve topped with nuts and cheese.

Happy Valentine's!



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Skins in the game

The Food Network's interpretation of the Saints—Colts match-up.

It's the Superbowl, and we're mere minutes away from kick-off!

While I don't follow football in the regular season, I love a good Superbowl. And, what would the Superbowl be without snacks?

This week, Char forwarded me the Daily Beast's list the most extreme Superbowl snack foods, which some lucky reporter got to taste test so we wouldn't have to. But my Superbowl snacking strategy is different — and not just because I can't eat potato chips, nachos and other snack foods like a "normal person" — I like to go a little fancy in honour of the occasion. This year, I took my my Superbowl snack post inspiration from the Food Network, which designed a potato skin for every team in the NFL.

Below is my adaptation of Food & Drink's "gourmet" skins. (Original recipe calls for ham.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

THIS is what was left of my offering to a recent bake-sale to raise funds for mobile field medical tents for Haiti. The bake sale, I'm happy to report, raised nearly $900, or almost enough to fund 2 tents for a day. Not bad for a table full of brownies, cookies and cupcakes. The only slightly-sad bit is that I didn't get to the sale in time to buy a slice of my own cake, which from previous iterations I can assure you is DELICIOUS. Here are a couple of shots of the bake-sale table to give you an idea of what was on offer, and to reassure you that my initial disappointment over missing my own cake was quickly assuaged.

How cute are those cupcake faces?

The recipe for this cake came to me from my friend Monique, who is quite an accomplished baker. She's given me several recipes and they're all excellent, so even though I haven't had this cake made by Monique, I knew that if she said it was good enough to make, it would be great. The cake is lovely and moist, and the frosting is to die for... fudgy and caramely and very, very sweet. Monique's recipe is reproduced below [with my notes in square brackets].

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake
with Brown Sugar Frosting

2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes; or 4 8oz sweet potatoes, cooked & mashed [I used about 2 1/2 cups to make up for reducing the oil. I used the 4 sweet potatoes called for in the recipe and ended up with about 1 cup of leftover mash.]
Vegetable oil spray
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger [I used 2 tsp because I really like ginger]
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil [I used about 2/3 cup]
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

[As a time-saver, you can microwave chunks of peeled sweet potatoes in a bowl of water. They'll get black spots (which don't affect the flavour) wherever they dry out, so I suggest laying waxed paper over the top of the bowl to keep the steam in. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes without adding any butter or seasonings.]

•  Preheat oven to 325F
•  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with non-stick spray. [Since an unfortunate Bundt incident, I've also started to  coat the inside of the pan with 1-2 Tbsp sugar. It helps the finished cake to release from the pan and gives the cake a nice little crust on the exterior.]
•  Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
•  Mix the mashed sweet potatoes with sugar and oil; beat until smooth.
•  Add eggs, 2 at a time, until blended.
•  Add flour mixture, and beat until just blended.
•  Beat in vanilla.
•  Pour into your prepared Bundt pan and bake about 65 minutes. [Start checking at about the 55 minute mark. The cake is done when only a few moist crumbs stick to a toothpick.]
•  Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully loosen the edges and [hold your breath for this part] turn it out onto a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter [do not use margarine]
1 tsp vanilla

•  Sift the icing sugar into a medium glass or metal bowl.
•  Stir brown sugar, cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a boil.
•  Boil 3 minutes [4 minutes is too many, trust me!], occasionally stirring and swirling the pan.
•  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
•  Pour the brown sugar mixture over the icing sugar.
•  Whisk frosting until smooth and lightened in colour, about 1 minute.
•  Cool frosting until it's lukewarm and falls in heavy ribbons from a spoon, whisking often, about 15 minutes.
•  Spoon frosting thickly over the top of the completely cooled cake, allowing the frosting to drip down the sides of the cake.
•  Let the cake stand until the frosting is firm before serving, at least 1 hour.