Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ontbijtkoek for Breakfast

I was out looking for a recipe to make Taai taai when I stopped in at the daring bakers to check out the December challenge.  I was interested to try Ontbijtkoek as I never have before, and I do love spice cakes and gingerbread.
For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.
Ontbijtkoek is a breakfast cake or loaf that is so common in Holland that it is primarily store bought with only a few recipes for it online.  It varies from region to region, but I liked the sound of this recipe as it contained rye flour which offers an interesting texture and flavour.  The cake is commonly served sliced with butter and is served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.  The texture of the loaf is heavier, and quite sticky from all the sugar sources, but I believe this is how it should be.  You may adjust the spices up or down depending on your preferences, but you may consider this to be comparable to a gingerbread loaf in flavour.  Some recipes contained the addition of candied ginger, mixed peel, and raisins to the mix, and I believe these would all be good additions.  This loaf is very very moist and it is best eaten a day after being baked to allow the spices a chance to develop.  Today this loaf is four days old and it is still perfectly fresh and moist.  It needs no frosting and is just right with a thick spread of butter.  If you like spice cakes and gingerbread flavours, this one is very much worth the try and is a little different.  I love spiced cakes, so I was a slightly heavy handed with the spice addition and used golden sugar rather than dark brown as it is what I had on hand...I added a wee bit more molasses because of that.  Loved this and will make it again....I believe the neighbours can expect to receive a loaf to try in the near future.

(from The Dutch Table)

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
pinch of salt

Sift all dry together to break up any lumps from the brown sugar.  You will need to break up any brown sugar lumps that will not pass through the  sifter by hand.  Add in liquid ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.  (I used a stand mixer and mixed in the milk first until smooth and then added the remaining molasses and honey)  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 300 F for about 80 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. (I lined my pan with a strip of parchment).  Once cooled wrap loaf in foil and let rest a day before slicing ...if you can wait that long.  Wrapping in foil will make the crust a bit sticky which appears to be as it should.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Browned Butter Banana Blondies

Yesterday was the last day of after school sewing classes at our elementary school.  The last day to have to think of a good nut free bit of baking to bring in for the kids before the lessons started.  This time I was interested by a recipe over at Cookies and Cups and decided to give it a try. I did brown the butter as was suggested as an option to try and substituted a bit of the vanilla flavouring for rum. The browned butter gave it more adult appeal I think.  Just be cautious when browning the butter to do it slowly and not burn it.  When browning the butter you are browning the milk solids in the butter.  You'll want them to be browned...but not blackened. The recipe was quite nice and not overly banana...I think the browned butter icing (I also browned the butter on that as well) distracted from the banana flavour and increased the butter flavour quite a bit..  It is well worth a try and quite easy to prepare.  If you are looking for a nut free school option, you might like to give this a go.

Banana Blondies

1/2 cup butter, melted and brown if you like
1 cup golden sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp rum flavouring
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 medium banana mashed (about 1/2 cup)

Brown Sugar Frosting

1/4 cup butter, melted and browned if you like
1/2 cup golden sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 8X8 inch pan with foil and grease foil.  In mixing bowl, cream the melted butter and golden sugar until combined.  Add in egg and flavourings and mix to combine.  Mix in mashed banana and mix to combine.  Add in flour and mix to combine.

Spread batter evenly into foil lined pan and pop into oven for 25-30 minutes or until center is set.  My oven is convection and set it to 350F and checked at 15 minutes and it was already firm in the center and done.  Remove pan from oven and set to cool.

For frosting, melt butter in pan and continue to swirl while browning if you are going to brown the butter.  If not, once melted, add in sugar and milk and heat while stirring until it reaches a boil.  If browning butter, add the sugar and milk once you have browned the butter to the amount you want.  Remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes before adding the icing sugar.  You'll want the butter and golden sugar and milk to be still quite warm when you add the icing stick to the 5 minute guideline and do not let it cool completely.  Stir in the icing sugar with a whisk to get it nice and smooth and immediately pour over the blondie and spread evenly.  The icing will start to set up and crust on the surface shortly.  Allow to cool completely before cutting or you may run the risk of your frosting running away on you.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Buns

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

I've been making a  few different variations  on the cinnamon roll theme in the last month.  We loved, and have made quite a few times now....the Huckleberry and lemon sweet rolls, and more recently a batch filled with a jam of peach, pear and orange brandy.  Today....since it's been a while since we've done actual cinnamon that's what I did.  Only slightly modified with the addition of poudre douce, and chocolate chips.  Over all pretty happy with the outcome.

Over time, I've modified the dough recipe I use and have upped the liquid amount and moved away from the use of melted shortening to using vegetable oil.  The dough is very moist and easy to work with  due to the added oil and rises to a nice airy bun once baked.  We've also made some savoury options and presented the rolls as a twisted loaf rather than buns like with this Cheddar and Thai Chilli twisted loaf .  Other good savoury combinations are Cheddar and Marmite, and Spinach and feta.

1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
4 cups flour
2 tsp instant yeast
I add all of the above to my bread machine and let it make the dough for me.  once the dough is ready I roll it out to a rectangle 30 inches by 12 inches and spread with filling,.

This batch is filled with 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp poudre douce, 1/3 cup chocolate chips and a pinch of salt.

Rollup to make a 30 inch long log and slice into 24 equal pieces placing 12 in a 9X 13 pan.  Let rise in a warm draft free place until double in size.  Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes until rolls are nicely browned and near 200F internal temp.

While rolls are still hot from the oven mix a glaze of 1 1/2 cup icing sugar, 2 Tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla and enough milk (3-6 Tbsp) to make a pourable glaze.  Mix until smooth and pour over still hot rolls.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tenderize beef with baking soda

Normally I only buy sirloin to make stir fry.  This week it was on at such a good price that I decided to try baking soda tenderizing on them before grilling them.  It turned out to be a pretty good option and I'll be sure to do it again.  Before marinating the steak in a recipe from all claimed to be the best...who am I to argue?......I treated the steaks with some baking soda in water for 15- 20 minutes.  If you have sirloin sliced across the grain ready for stir fry....marinating with baking soda and rinsing as outlined below, will give even better tenderizing result since the cut is much thinner.  Want to give it a on.

Tenderizing Steaks
Before marinating your steaks...treat them with a bit of baking soda to help tenderize the meat a bit.

1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup water

Dissolve the baking soda in water and pour over steaks in a ziplok bag.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes.  Rinse well and proceed with marinade .

Adapted from All Recipes

3 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic, granulated
4 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp  black pepper

Combine all and pour over steaks in ziplok bag and marinate in fridge over night or for an hour or two if you have lest time.  Remove from marinade and grill to your liking.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Easy Square Pillows

Our weekend turned out to be pretty rainy here.  I was planning to stain the deck....but due to the rain, that did not work out.  Instead....I finally got around to making new cushions for the couch.  The previous ones I'd made were completely dead...and I really liked this velvet fabric....It's a really nice rust colour....more so than shows in the picture.  Nothing trim...since the fabric was pretty heavy......I did not have confidence my machine would negotiate 4 layers.  Four 18 inch pillow forms and 1.5 m of fabric worked out to $10 each. 

Simple Square Pillows

Measure you pillow form across from seam to seam.  Mine were 18 inches across as promised.  Cut 2 pieces of fabric a 1/2 inch wider in each direction than your pillow forms.  I cut mine 18 1/2 inch by 18 1/2 inch.
You need to angle in the corners a bit so you don't end up with really pointy corners.  Set your cut fabric corner onto a cutting mat grid and using a ruler measure in 1/2 inch from the corner on one side and 5 inches down on the other...and cut along this line.  Do the same across the top and you'll end up with something like what we have below.  If you don't have a rotary cutting mat and cutter....just measure in 1/2 inch in from the corner and 5 inches down and mark the line with pencil and cut with scissors.  Make sure to mark both pencil lines before cutting or the second one will be hard to measure.
Do this to all four corners for both front and back pieces.  Place right sides together and sew together with 1/4 inch seam allowance leaving 6 inches open to turn right side out.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Stuff in the cushion form and stitch closed the opening.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bring a Plate: Deviled Eggs

Our street had it's annual "before summer holiday" pot luck BBQ last night.  We were fortunate yet again to luck out on the weather and had a beautiful night....and a bonfire till quite late.    Unfortunately those of us organizing did not realize that we'd over lapped the date with our high school we were missing a few of the regular families.  However, we had quite a few new additions to the neighbourhood who took the opportunity to come out and meet the what looked initially as it might be a poor turn out....turned out to be just right.  
I love bringing deviled eggs to pot luck get togethers!  They seem to be a forgotten food...yet nearly everyone likes them and they are generally pretty kid friendly.  Top that off with the fact that you need next to nothing to make the DH will eat them..(no carbs) and they are a win win.  They are so very versatile....sometimes I use a bit of curry powder rather than the dry with bacon and guacamole....or chutney......or chopped olives.....or get the idea:)

Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs, split and yolks removed and set aside
3 Tbsp salad dressing, like miracle whip
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
pinch of salt
black pepper
smoked paprika, for garnish
chives or onion greens, for garnish

Once eggs have been peeled, and split....take the collect yolks and mash them with a fork to remove most of the lumps.  Add salad dressing, mustard powder and salt.  Mix until fairly smooth....adding more salad dressing if needed.  Spoon yolk mixture into empty egg halves or transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe into the empty egg halves.  I love disposable piping bags for this:)  Sprinkle with a grind of black pepper and a wee bit of paprika and some chopped chives...if you've got them. The recipe is easily doubled.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chicken Paprikash- In the Pressure Cooker

Always looking for more opportunities to use the new pressure cooker!  I had a package of chicken thighs, some sour cream and some tomatoes to use up....So Chicken Paprikash was a good fit.  As it is a braised is well suited for the pressure cooker.

Chicken Paprikash- for the pressure cooker

8-10 chicken thighs, bone in skin on
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp paprika, Hungarian or sweet
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
3 Tbsp oil for frying
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp caraway seeds , crushed
1 bay leaf
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix the flour with 2 tsp paprika and pinch of salt and pepper.  This flour is for dredging your chicken pieces.  Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture.  Heat oil in bottom of pressure cooker on medium high heat and brown chicken pieces on both sides.  Remove chicken to side plate and repeat until all pieces are browned.  Add chopped onion to pot adding more oil if necessary.  Stir and fry until translucent, then add garlic, paprika ,cayenne, caraway seeds and bay leaf.  Stir while frying the garlic and seasonings making sure not to burn...for about 1 minute.  Add in chopped tomatoes and stir for another minute.  Add in chicken stock and stir well making sure to scrap the bottom of the pot so that nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Add back in the chicken pieces and attach the lid.  Turn heat to high and bring to high pressure (15 psi).  Once pressure is achieved....start timing and reduce temperature to medium or low enough to maintain a steady but small stream of steam from the relief valve.  Cook at high pressure for 15 minute then remove from heat and allow to depressurize naturally.  Once depressurized....remove lid and remove chicken pieces to side plate.  You may reduce sauce by slowly boiling until desired thickness is reached.  Once thickened, add sour cream heat for one minute and return chicken to the pot.  Serve with sauce over buttered noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pao de Queijo

This is only the second time I've ever made Pao de Queijo.  The first time was a few years ago when a friend from Brazil told my family that we simply had to try to make them...because they are so very good.  I honestly cannot remember the recipe I used on my first attempt....but I did remember that they were a cross between cream puff pastry and crusty bread rolls.  This time I followed the recipe from Dulce Delight.  She has a very entertaining video where she goes through the process and I love to use the Kitchen Aid stand mixer whenever I  can....and this seemed like a very good option to save my arms so serious work.  As it happens....these little gems are gluten free and really quite delicious.  They are savoury and addictive with a crisp exterior and a chewy inside.  Properly made, these little cheese breads, are made with a blend of two types of tapioca starch.  Unfortunately I was only able to find (sweet) tapioca starch locally and even an internet search for the (sour) tapioca starch did not prove to be fruitful.  There is no telling how much more wonderful these might be if only I had access to all the proper ingredients.  Regardless.....even with my substitutions of convenience, they were quite good.  

As we are carb limited in the house at the moment.....I froze the bulk of the dough in small balls...ready to bake up for our neighbourhood potluck in another week from now....and I only baked 5 to taste tonight.

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! Renata of "Testado, Provado & Aprovado!" taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba!

Pao de Queijo
(adapted from Dulce Delight)
400 g tapioca starch
1/4 tsp salt
20g butter
55 mL vegetable oil
300 mL whole milk
2 large eggs
200 g Dubliner Cheese (That's what I used but Monterey Jack is suggested)
100 g parmesan

Heat milk, oil, butter and salt in a heavy bottomed pot until just boiling.  While the milk mixture is heating, sift your starch and salt into the bowl of you kitchen aid stand mixer.  Once the milk is heated, pour all into the starch in the mixer and stir slowly with a spoon to wet the starch.  Turn on mixer and mix until the mixture resembles a smooth paste and it has cooled down enough to just feel warm. Add one egg and beat in on medium speed until it is smooth and creamy looking.  Add the second egg and mix until fully incorporated.  Continue mixing and add the grated cheeses until all mixed in. 
Heat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Roll balls of dough with oiled hands to the desired size and bake until golden on the bottom....15-25 min depending on size.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Adobo Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

I don't think to make Adobo Chicken very often, but it is a recipe that lends itself well to use of the Pressure Cooker.  And being pressed for works well.  I usually use whole legs which I separate into drum sticks and thighs.  You can use a whole cut up chicken, but I find the dark meat turns out better and is cheaper for me....I pick up dark meat parts....whatever is on sale.  

Adobo Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

3-4 lbs chicken drums or thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce ( I like kikkoman for this)
10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp sugar or honey
6 bay leaves
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
vegetable oil for browning chicken
1 green onion, garnish

Marinate the chicken pieces in a bowl or ziploc bag along with the soy sauce, garlic, pepper, sugar and bay leaves over night in the fridge if you have the time.  I let it marinate this time for only an hour....I was in a hurry. 
Heat  2 Tbsp oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker over medium high heat and brown all pieces (reserving the marinade) a few at a time...taking care not to crowd the pot.  Remove to side plate and continue until all pieces are browned adding more oil as needed to keep things from burning to the may need to adjust heat down a bit.
Once all pieces are browned, throw in the chopped onion and fry until limp.  Add 1 cup water to the pot and scrape the pot bottom for any browned bits.  Add vinegar at this point and add the reserved marinade including bay leaves.  Give it a good stir...nothing stuck to the bottom of the pot!  Add in the chicken and put on the lid.  Turn heat to high and bring to high pressure (15 psi).  Once pressure is reached....(the indicator button is popped up and steam is escaping the release valve).....turn heat down to medium (enough to maintain the steam escaping through the release valve)....and begin timing.  Once the 15 minutes are up...remove from heat and allow to depressurize naturally.  Once pressure is the top and remove chicken pieces to a side plate and cover loosely with foil.  Remove any undesired fat from the top of the liquid in the pot.  Reduce the sauce to a thickness you desire by boiling it down over medium high heat.  Should take about 10 minutes....or you can thicken the sauce with a bit of cornstarch and water.  Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with chopped onion greens

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Huckleberry Lemon Sweet Rolls

I've got a large amount of huckleberries put away in the freezer from last summer that need to get used up, and I wanted to make a breakfast roll similar to a cinnamon roll....but with fruit filling instead.  I found a few different options but liked the combination of lemon and blueberry over at Pioneer Woman,  I used my regular recipe for dough, for air buns, which I like and it is half the quantity (only 4 cups of flour) which was a better size for me......and made the filling from Pioneer Woman using huckleberries instead of blueberries because that's what I had.  Love these...maybe even better than cinnamon buns:

Huckleberry Lemon Sweet Rolls

1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup lard or shortening, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
4 cups flour
2 tsp instant yeast

Because I'm lazy....I make the dough in my bread machine:)  You may do it by hand if you are so inclined.  But for the bread machine....dump all ingredients in and hit the dough cycle and let it do the work for you.

Prepare the Filling,
(from the Pioneer Woman)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
zest from one lemon
1 1/4 cup huckleberries

Juice from 1/2 lemon
Zest from one lemon
1/1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup of milk, approximately
pinch of salt
1 1/2 TBSP butter, melted

Once the dough is ready.  Roll it out to a 10 inch by 30 inch rectangle.  Spread with the softened butter from the Filling ingredients, then sprinkle with the sugar in which the lemon zest has been mixed.  Top with evenly sprinkled berries, and roll tightly to make a 30 inch long roll and pinch dough to seal it closed.  With a sharp knife slice into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay cut side down into buttered pans. Allow to rise for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.   Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden on top.  Remove from oven.  Prepare glaze by whisking all glaze ingredients together and pour evenly over rolls.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Faux BBQ Brisket - in the pressure cooker

We have been having some beautiful weather here.  Our spring was such a long time coming, but then almost over night........things are greening up.  After returning home from a late afternoon shopping trip we discussed what we should make for supper.  My husband loves the Beef Brisket Salad served at the Copper Pig Restaurant and we've unable to have it lately since fire to a neighbouring building caused the restaurant to close for repairs.  I decided that we could give it our best shot to duplicate the Beef Brisket using the Pressure Cooker.  In order to  minimize the cooking time even more....(and since my grocer does not sell beef brisket) we purchased a bone in blade (chuck) roast and cut it up into large chunks (1 1/2 inch X 1  inch X 5 inch).  If you cannot find brisket....the blade or chuck will give you a decent approximation of flavour.  I would not try this with all.

So if you'd like to try this...Faux BBQ Brisket in your pressure's what you do.

Faux BBQ Brisket in a Pressure Cooker

4 lb blade (chuck) roast or steak  (we used 1.8 kg roast...bone in)
1/4 cup dry rub
1 large onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 can beer
1 cup BBQ sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Cut up your roast or steak into large chunks and sprinkle with dry rub.  Heat a few TBSP oil in the bottom of your open pressure cooker on medium heat and brown meat in batches on all sides.  Keep care not to overcrowd the pan.  Remove browned beef to a side plate and repeat until all meat has been browned.  You may need to top up with more oil for browning and take care not to let the spices burn in the bottom of the pot.  Once the beef is all browned throw in the onion and fry until golden or at least until limp if you are getting impatient.  Leaving the onion in and with the heat still on  ....deglaze the pan with your can of your favourite beer.....take a sip before you pour it all in....if you like.  Add 1/2 cup BBQ sauce to the beer and stir the BBQ sauce in to the beer.   Now add the beef and any collect juices back into the Pressure Cooker....clamp on the lid and adjust the heat to high.  Bring it up to high pressure (15 psi) and once it's there (pressure indicator has popped up and steam is venting)  begin timing for 30 minutes (35 minutes if using an automatic pot) and reduce heat to medium making sure that you maintain a small amount of steam being released.

After 30 minutes remove pot from heat and naturally depressurize.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Open pot and remove the meat will be very tender.  Move it to a foil lined cookie sheet and baste with remaining BBQ sauce mixed with optional liquid smoke if you have it.  Toss into preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Once the BBQ sauce has caramelized on the meat...your done.  Remove and serve with potato salad, corn bread, mashed potatoes, fresh dinner rolls......what ever you like.  Or it does make a fantastic salad topping.

We sliced/shredded ours to duplicate the salad that my husband likes.  The salad is composed of mixed spring greens, chunked smoked gouda, carrot slivers, baby tomatoes, roasted red pepper slices, sauteed onions, chunks of BBQ beef and topped with a creamy roasted garlic dressing.  To properly finish it, it should have nice piece of corn bread on the side.....we had small pieces of corn on the cob.

If you don't have dry rub's easy to make in a pinch...This is the one I've used and liked.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maftoul a Daring Cooks Challenge

The May Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by the incomparable Sawsan from chef in disguise. Sawsan challenged us to try our hands (literally!) at making maftoul - hand-rolled Palestinian couscous that is as versatile as it is tasty!

Let me start by saying this challenge interested me since I do like to make things from scratch...mostly just to see if I can do it.  So I was pretty excited to try this one.  Since my son is the only person in the house eating reasonable quantities of carbs at the moment....I chose to make half of the recipe.  Getting set up to proceed with the recipe presented a few problems for me.  I did not have a proper steaming insert for my pot set to ensure that steam would be forced to travel through the maftoul, and my access to fine bulgar was not good.  The bulgar I located was what I would consider to be larger than fine.  In hind sight, I probably should have run it through the food processor to diminish the grain size a wee bit.  And to solve the problem of how to steam the maftoul.....I purchased a steamer insert that would fit three pot sizes.  I found mine for a reasonable price and can see value in having not a big deal.  It is fortunate that I made only half the recipe quantity as it fit perfectly into my new steamer.

As far as the process of "growing" the maftoul pearls around a bulgar center....I did find that a bit tricky.  Essentially you wet the bulgar grains with salted water and then sprinkle with a flour mixture and then roll the bulgar grains around in the flour to coat them.  You do this by raking your fingers through the grains in a circular pattern in a flat bottomed dish with some sides to help contain your growing maftoul.  You repeat the steps of wetting and rolling in sprinkled flour....until you have reached a size you like.  I found wetting evenly to be difficult, and ofter multiple grains would stick together rather than growing individually in size and I spent a lot of time pulling them apart.  Also when adding flour to the wet grains you needed to be cautious not to add more than could be held by the grains as loose flour between the grains would make a bit of mess when the next batch of water was added.  

In the end I am still intrigued by the process and will likely give it one more try as I have still some remaining bulgar  to use up.  Having never eaten "properly prepared" maftoul....I have nothing to compare it to.  I found it to be a bit on the heavy and chewy side which may be due to errors in my preparation or cooking.  I prepared the maftoul by steaming over a water bath of seasoned water with chopped and seasoned onion mixed in with the maftoul as well.  I really was happy with the taste over all and can see that there are a lot of options regarding flavouring.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kakabeka Legion Potato Salad

Finally all the snow is gone and we can sit out on the deck for supper.  While my husband and I are cutting back on the carbs......I sit make a starch choice for my son.  This day, I had a taste for one of my favourite potato salads that I remember from growing up.  I'm not a huge fan of potato salad, but there are two types I really like.  I love the mashed potato salad made at the Kakabeka Legion Hall (near where I grew up)'s slightly sweetened by green relish and slightly tangy......and I also love a potato salad recipe from the Ukraine containing dill pickles and green peas....much more mild in flavour in comparison.  The recipe used for this supper was from the Kakabeka Legion, from just outside of Thunder Bay.  I love this one, and you may too:)  I scaled the recipe down a whole bunch as the thought was that only my son would be eating it.....but truth be told.....he had a little help.

Kakabeka Legion Potato Salad

8 large potatos
8 boiled eggs
1/4 cup salad dressing (miracle whip)...more as needed
1/2 cup green relish
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
4-5 green onions, chopped
1 stick of celery, minced
1 medium onion, minced
ground black pepper to taste

Start by washing, peeling and boiling potatoes in lightly salted water until fork tender.  You are going to mash them slightly so you need not worry about catching them at barely fork tender.  Once cooked and cooled a bit, mash slightly so as to leave the odd piece still in tact here and there.  Chop up your boiled eggs about a 1/4 inch in size and add them along with all remaining ingredients to the potatoes and stir to mix well.  The mustard should give a slight yellow colour over all but should not be prominent, add more if needed just make sure you don't get over run with the taste of mustard.  The miracle whip may be increased if it seems too dry, and the sweetness may be adjusted by increasing the amount of green relish.  All in all it's a very adjustable to suit your taste.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Chinese Pork Roast in a pressure cooker

So I planned to make this roast for supper last night....but at 5:45 when the DH walked through the door....he reminded me that I'd forgotten about scouts that night and there would not be time for making a roast....We had to leave at 6:45.  
Well...I can tell you now....that there would have been time....just barely:)  I've been looking for more and more recipes to try on this new pressure cooker........and I chanced upon a link to the Jaimie Oliver Cookbook that comes with the TFal pressure cooker he is promoting.  I flipped through and found that the recipe for Chinese Pork Shoulder Roast caught my eye.  It was quite flavouful, although I did make a few substitutions based on what I had on hand, and would make it again for sure!  Just in case I can never find the recipe again or the link becomes is what I did...

Chinese Pork the Pressure Cooker

3 1/2 lb pork shoulder roast
1 1/2 Tbsp five spice power ( to rub dry onto roast before browning)
2 Tbsp oil for browning roast

200mL orange juice (one kids juice box...sounds like the juice of two oranges??  close enough)
zest of 1 orange 
1 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce (I didn't have 2 red chillies...close enough)
5 cloves of garlic, minced...more if you like
2 inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced thin
2 T hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
100mL Chinese cooking wine  (I didn't have sherry.....close enough)
2 Tbsp plum sauce  (plums are not available here yet so I substituted for the 4 plums)
100 mL water (I added this to satisfy the recommendations for minimum liquid level)

4 onion greens, chopped for garnish
salt and pepper if needed (I found the soy added all the salt I needed)

Dry off the roast with paper towel and rub with 5 spice powder.  Heat 2 Tbsp oil in the pressure cooker pan over medium high heat and brown roast on all sides.  Remove roast to side plate and add all remaining ingredient except for the onion greens.  Stir the liquid to deglaze the pan and put the roast back into the pot.  Put on the lid and lock it down and turn up the heat to high.  Once at high pressure lower the heat to medium to maintain high (15 lbs) pressure and cook for 40 minutes.  (The recipe called for 35 minutes but I added 5 since I am at a higher elevation)  At the end of 40 minutes remove from heat and allow pot to depressurize naturally.  Once depressurized, open the lid and remove the lid and remove the roast to a side plate loosely covered in foil.  Turn up the heat on the remaining sauce and boil for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce to a thickness you like.  Return meat to sauce...or cut up the roast and place on a platter and spoon sauce over.  Garnish with chopped onion greens and salt and pepper if desired.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Curry in a the Pressure Cooker

Another happy outcome with the pressure cooker.  This one even got two thumbs up from Ike....and it would have been in his lunch the next day if there was any at all left.......There was not. Be warned this one requires some marinating time so I ended up making it the next day after letting the meat marinate over night.  The only thing I didn't have on hand was Green Seasoning......But I found a recipe online and made some up....and froze the additional amount for another time.  Go here if you'd like to see the recipe.  When I make this again....and I will.....I'll be making a double batch.

Curried Beef and Pumpkin
(adapted from Jehan can Cook)

3 lbs stew meat or blade roast cut in 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp green seasoning
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 lb squash, butternut or acorn (set aside)
1 onion, chopped
2 green onion chopped (set aside for garnish)
1 1/2 tsp beef soup base
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp oil for frying the curry paste (ingredients listed below for curry paste)
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp green seasoning
3 tbsp water

Start by mixing the green seasoning and curry powder with the meat and set it aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or over night if you have time.

Make a curry paste by mixing the last 6 ingredients together and frying them in hot oil in the pressure cooker pan over medium heat for 3- 5 minutes.  Scrape the pan often to make sure it does not burn.  Add the meat and chopped onions and brown over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add bay leaf and beef soup base powder to the pot and then add 2 cups water and close the lid on the pressure cooker.  Heat on high heat to 15 lb pressure.  Once at 15 lb pressure, reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook for 20 minutes.  Depressurize unit and open after venting steam.  Add in pumpkin and simmer 15 minutes with the lid off.  Cook until the pumpkin is soft to your liking or about 10 minutes.  If you'd like a thicker sauce, spoon out the meat and vegetables to a side plate and cover with foil and turn the pot to high heat with the lid off and reduce the sauce to a thickness you'd like.  Once thickened, add meat and veggies back in and garnish with chopped onion greens.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

St Louis Ribs.....In the Pressure Cooker

OK...I'm still playing with the pressure cooker......and I am still loving this purchase!  Keep in mind that the pressure cooker does what a slow cooker does....only much faster.  It certainly brings more options to the table for a weekday meal.  I can now make things that I might have saved for the weekend to prepare.  These ribs for instance......From cutting open the package of ribs to serving them on a plate was just less than one hour.

And here is what I did.....

Pressure Cooked St Louis Style Ribs

4 lb package of St Louis Style ribs ( two racks)
3 Tbsp of rib rub (see below)
1 can beer
1/2 cup favourite BBQ sauce plus more for basting
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

Cut ribs into serving size portions.  (I cut each rack in half....just so they could fit in the cooker).  Remove skin from the back of the ribs if needed.  Rub both sides of the ribs with dry rub. Brown ribs in 2 tbsp oil heated in the pressure cooker (with lid off) browning as many pieces at a time as you can and removing them to a side plate while you continue with the remaining.  Once they are all browned...Pour in the can of beer and 1/2 cup BBQ sauce to deglaze the pan.  Add liquid smoke and hot sauce if you'd like.  Place the ribs in standing on their sides, or on a rack laying flat to keep them out of the liquid a bit.  Attach lid and bring to high pressure (15 lbs) on high heat.  Once high pressure has been reached....  (On my cooker this is evidenced by the pop up pressure indicator popping up.....AND...a steady steam of steam leaving the pressure relief valve.)....Lower heat to maintain pressure and begin timing.  Cook at high pressure for 25 minutes, then remove from heat and allow unit to depressurize naturally.  Once depressurized open lid and remove ribs to a foil covered tray.  Baste with additional BBQ sauce and pop into a 375F oven for 10 minutes or you could toss them on the grill to get some grill marks on them.

Make you own rib rub????

Mix together:
1 Tbsp each of cumin, paprika, granular garlic, onion powder, chilli powder and brown sugar
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp each of cayenne and black pepper

Friday, April 25, 2014

Jamaican Curry Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

My toy from this past Christmas was a pressure cooker.  I got it in my head that I'd like to have one, so I did a bit of research.  I found that there were two options....stove top which is a manually operated unit......or a fully automatic.  The automatic gives you the convenience of being able to walk away from it...much like a slow cooker or rice seal it up and let it do it's thing.  Also it does not take up a spot on your stove as it sits on your counter or where ever you decide to put it.  The manual pot style of course is manual in it's operation and you control the heat and the timing.  It is a very simple unit with very little to fiddle with.....which means.....there is not much to break on it.  My strong suspicion is that you will get a LOT more years out of a manual unit than an automatic unit.  For me, I liked the ability of more control over the cooking process, better sauteing ability for browning meats before cooking, the quality of construction, not having to worry about the electronics failing so I decided on a manual unit.  I ended up choosing to go with a Fagor Duo 8 quart and 4 quart set for it's balance of price and quality and have been extremely happy with it.  I can tell you more about my selection process in another post....but for now let's move on to the recipe.

Jamaican Curry Chicken
(from a local cooking class)

3 lbs chicken thighs
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
2 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 medium onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce...or one pepper seeded and minced
3 springs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 stalk of green onion cut in thirds and crushed
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups water

Wash chicken pieces with lime juice or vinegar and pat dry with paper towel. Mix the 9 ingredients following the chicken together in a large zip lok bag (or in a large bowl) and add washed and dried chicken pieces to it.  Mix it up to coat the chicken.  Let sit at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.  Heat oil on medium high heat in the pressure cooker and brown the chicken pieces  without crowding the pan.  I could do 6 thighs at a time....and remove to a side plate and brown the remaining thighs until all are done.

Once the pieces are all browned and are waiting on a side plate, add water to the pressure cooker and in scrape up any browned bits from the pan.  Add in any marinade remaining in the bowl or zip lok bag to the pot and add in all chicken pieces.  Put on the lid and turn up the heat to high and bring to 15 lbs pressure.  Once at pressure, reduce heat to maintain a small steam flow out the relief vent and begin timing.  Cook at high (15 lb) pressure for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow pressure cooker to naturally depressurize.  This will take 10 minutes or so.  Once it has depressurized, release any remaining steam and open pot.  Remove chicken pieces to side plate and cover with foil.  Boil the liquid in the pot over high heat until it is reduced in volume to around 3/4 cup and is thickened. (This will take about 10 minute)  Add chicken back into the pot for a little heating up.....and serve over rice.