Sunday, December 30, 2012

christmas crumble

The boy patiently (sort of) counted down the days until Christmas. We made cookies and decorated a gingerbread house.

The boy tried to convince us to open presents before Christmas.

And finally it was Christmas Eve. We put out hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and waited for Christmas Day. While we wouldn't have known by the weather that it was Christmas, ie wet and grey, we had a lovely day.

The boy loved his new bike

and the rest of his presents. He assembled his many new Lego kits all by himself and played his new Angry Birds game for hours.

For Christmas dinner, I wanted a lighter version of our usual mincemeat pie. Lately I've made a lot of crisps based on Deb's recipe for Apricot Breakfast Crisp and my husband gobbles them up. So for Christmas, I made a Christmas crumble with mincemeat and apple. Lovely.

Christmas Crumble (Mincemeat and Apple Crumble) - inspired by Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, finely diced
1/2 jar of mincemeat
grated fresh nutmeg
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c flour
2 tbsp sliced almonds

In a medium casserole, mix the apple and mincemeat. Add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.

In a bowl, mix together the sugar, oats, flour and sliced almonds. Add the melted butter and mix well until blended. Pour over the mincemeat mixture in an even layer.

Bake at 400 deg F for 30 minutes until browned and bubbly.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

almond butterscotch shortbread

T'is the last weekend before Christmas and apart from a massive grocery shop, I've been avoiding the malls. So after stuffing my fridge full of goodies this morning, I decided to bake some cookies. My husband's stomach has been giving him gyp lately, so he's avoiding chocolate as much as he can. I had a recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine for chocolate and almond shortbread, and was inspired by that and a recipe idea from Farmgirl Fare for chocolate and toffee shortbread. I pulled out butterscotch chips when looking for toffee bits in my baking drawer and went with that.

Almond and Butterscotch Shortbread (inspired by Martha Stewart Living and Farmgirl Fare)
1 c butter
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 c coarsely ground almonds
1 c butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 300 deg F.

Cream the butter for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and light. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt combined and mix until blended. Add the almonds and mix until blended. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Press the dough into a parchment lined, 9x13 baking sheet and then place into the fridge for 20 minutes or more to set. Cut into 8 strips lengthwise and 4 strips widthwise, making 32 rectangles. Prick each rectangle several times with a skewer.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until set and just beginning to brown. Let cool on a rack and keep in an airtight tin.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

boy makes treats

I haven't done too much baking so far for Christmas except to fill up goodie bags. I have managed to fill up a couple of small cookie tins for my guys but I haven't managed to make my family fruitcake or pfeffernuse yet. But the boy and I have made a few things together.

A couple of weekends ago we made Tortoises from this month's Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine. The hardest part of these treats was opening the caramels and smooshing them a bit over the nuts. We also managed to sneak in some math and counting for the boy - we need piles of 4 cashews plus one hazelnut for each turtle. One caramel per turtle and there are 15 turtles so how many caramels do we need plus more for each one that you eat. The boy lost interest by the time the chocolate was spooned over the nuts but no matter. He was helpful in packing them up and giving them away to his teachers, along with hugs.

Yesterday, it was the children's class party at school and one of the treats was candy sushi. I loved this idea and the boy loved the treat, so on the way home we bought marshmallows, swedish fish and fruit roll ups and made a couple of rolls. They are so easy and fun and the boy loved saying to his dad that we were having sushi for dinner!

Candy Sushi
large marshmallows
swedish fish
multicoloured fruit roll ups

For each "roll", insert a knife into the middle of a marshmallow. Into the slit, wiggle one fish so it sticks out a bit on each side. Wrap a length of fruit roll up around the outside of the marshmallow and dampen to stick.

You need to make these shortly before serving, otherwise they will go a bit mushy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

snow, a tree and cookies

Saturday was a wierd day. I woke with a hurting heart, aching for those families in CT and those lost children. I hugged my 1st grader tight, grateful that my own was safe, wishing that everyone's little ones could be safe as well. We went on with our day - first up was soccer. In the cold and wet and wind, the numbers were down but the boys were as enthusiastic as ever. Luckily for them (and for us) this week's snack parents appeared with hot chocolate and donuts for everyone - a wonderful treat for frozen and damp boys and parents.

When we got home I got to work making Almond Cookies and the boy (with a bit of help from his dad) got down to the serious work of decorating our tree. A couple of hours later the house was filled with the aroma of baked cookies, butter and almonds and the twinkling lights of a decorated tree. It didn't cure my aching heart or stay my tears (as my cousin wrote - do they know we are crying with them?) it did feel a tiny bit better in our house.

Almond Cookies
1 c soft butter
1 c sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp almond extract
2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 c ground almonds (do this in your food processor)

Preheat the oven to 300 deg F.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and almond extract and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour, salt and ground almonds and mix until all is blended in. Scoop dough in approximately 1 teaspoon scoops of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet, flattening the dough with the bottom of a drinking glass.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms are very lightly browned. Lift the cookies off the sheets and let cool on a rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight tin for a couple of weeks. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: ground almonds with the skins on with give the cookies brown flecks as pictured above. Ground almonds without skins will give a more uniformly coloured cookie. Both ways taste delicious.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

blame facebook

It all started innocently enough, with a post on FB. About cauliflower cheese of all things. Which prompted a string of responses about what friends added to their cauliflower cheese (bacon, leeks, stilton, walnuts were some of the suggestions) and the whole debate over whether it was acceptable to add broccoli into the mix. Which all reminded me of a Felicity Cloake article I read after perusing Luisa’s post on fried eggs. (Brilliant, by the way, and has totally transformed my fried eggs from dark brown leathery egg pucks into melty, runny but fully cooked eggs. The only downside is the massive increase in the consumption of said eggs.) But I digress. Cauliflower cheese. So there I was, doing my usual ponder over what to do for dinner and the cauliflower cheese comments would not leave my brain. I have cauliflower and cheese and bacon in my fridge I thought. We’ll have that for supper. So we did and it was good.

I oven roast my cauliflower to avoid adding extra water to the sauce if you boil it and it doesn’t drain completely. Also the oven roasting imparts a lovely sweetness to the cauliflower that makes it better than boiled or steamed.

Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon and Onions
1 head cauliflower, stalks removed, cut into florets
2 rashers bacon, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 ¾ c milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 c grated sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese, mixed
Salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 375 deg F. Place the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and place into the oven.

In a sauté pan, over medium high heat, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and some browning is occurring in the bacon. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the butter, flour and milk and whisk together to form a sauce. Turn the heat down to medium and let cook for at least 5 minutes until thick and bubbly. Stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add in the grated cheese and stir until melted. Lower the heat to medium low and keep warm until the cauliflower is done.

Once the cauliflower is browned in spots, remove from the oven and add to the sauce. Stir around in the sauce for a couple of minutes to coat the cauliflower with sauce really well. Serve hot.

I served mine with mashed potatoes that were mashed with a biggish knob of butter and some greek yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper.

The following night, I did a variation of this with broccoli and sausage and served it over baked potatoes. Also delicious. Perfect after a rainy day on the soccer field and running errands.
broccoli cheese with sausage and gnocchi

Saturday, December 1, 2012

french onion tart

My sister-in-law gifted me a magazine subscription a couple of months ago and in this month's issue, this recipe caught my eye. Last Sunday, while I was making something else, I made my version of this tart for one of our weeknight suppers. I made my trusty tart shell and filled it with the sauteed onions, cheese and eggy milk and cream mixture. It smelt divine while baking and when we ate it, it did taste divine.

French Onion Tart (adapted from Chatelaine)
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, cold, diced
1 egg
4 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 red onion, sliced
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup milk
2 cups grated gruyère
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Preheat oven to 400F.

Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is distributed through the flour. Whisk the egg and 2 tbsp of cold water together and add into the flour. Add more water by tablespoonful until the mixture forms into a ball of dough. Dump onto a floured counter and roll into a circle big enough to fit into your tart pan. Press the dough into the tart pan, rolling off the excess. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and brush about 2 tbsp of dijon mustard over the bottom.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Add oil, then onions and shallots. Cook, without stirring, for 5 min. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add salt and sugar. Season with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions turn deep brown, 6 to 12 more min. Set aside.

Whisk eggs with cream and milk in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Sprinkle half of cheese, then onion mixture over warm crust. Add egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then thyme.

Bake in centre of oven until top is firm, about 35-40 mins. Transfer to a rack. Let tart rest 10 min before serving.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

pea soup

As I write this, I have as background, 2 boys building a lego warship and tank, complete with conversation about ships and airplanes and other stuff important to 6 year old boys (poo figures prominently - why?). I'm trying to stiffle my giggles from time to time so they don't realize I'm listening.

Lego warship
Onward to the recipe. I've been trying to clear out my fridge and freezer as recently they both were full to bursting and it was beyond ridiculous. And in a few weeks (gasp!) it will be Christmas and I will need to stuff a whole lot of food into both so I've been on a kick to clear out both. I discovered 3 bags of frozen peas in the freezer - apparently 2 were so well hidden that I bought more thinking I was out. So this week I made pea soup. The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen. I've made it before, when I had people over for lunch and was going to make broccoli soup but mysteriously the broccoli bits I thought were in the freezer were not, and all I managed to find was peas, so made pea soup from the same recipe as the broccoli soup recipe.

It is simple and quick and just the thing for a cold, wet November evening with a loaf of herby, garlicy french bread and a salad.

Pea Soup (from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

2 tbsps butter
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp flour
4 c low-sodium vegetable stock
1 1/2 lbs frozen peas, pulsed in a food processor
1/3 c heavy cream

Melt the butter over medium high heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt and cook until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly stir in the stock, whisking until smooth. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the peas to the stock and simmer until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Puree the soup until smooth. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Friday, November 23, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I was so excited I actually posted on my facebook status "so excited to be at a book signing". Deb, of Smitten Kitchen came to Vancouver and there I was, sitting (I got to the bookstore extremely early) looking through Deb's lovely book, drooling over the pictures and planning which recipes to cook. I was so lucky to have a seat and then be second in line to have my book signed as there was a huge line up. Deb was so lovely and funny and charming.

chatting with Deb as she signed my book
I told her I'd just made a version of her pot pies which she posted on her blog shortly before the book tour. I made our version with spinach and bacon in lieu of chard and pancetta and I did one big pie instead of individual ones but the pastry was divine and the stew, well, it is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, pile of deliciousness. It could, indeed, as Deb writes in the book notes about the recipe, stand on its own, but the pastry is so divine, why not make it as well. (I'm paraphrasing).

Spinach, bacon and white bean pot pie (adapted from smitten kitchen blog and book)
2 cups (250 grams) all- purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
13 tablespoons (185 grams or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons (90 grams) sour cream or whole Greek yogurt (i.e., a strained yogurt)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) ice water
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
4 ounces (115 grams or 3/4 to 1 cup) diced bacon
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces of spinach, sliced
3 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
3 tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour
3 cups (765 ml) low- sodium vegetable broth
2 cups white beans, cooked and drained

Make pastry: In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is broken up into quarter size pieces. In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Pulse until a craggy dough forms. Dump out onto a floured counter and pull and pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Make filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the bacon. Brown the bacon (about 10 minutes) then remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels. Add onions, carrot, celery to the pan with the bacon drippings and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to a bowl with the bacon, and set aside.

Make sauce: Wipe out the large saucepan, then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, scraping up the bits that were stuck to the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravylike, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables and bacon into the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble and cook: Pour the filling into an ovenproof dish. Roll out the dough into a round large enough to cover the dish with an overhang. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowl and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lid with egg wash, then cut decorative vents to let the steam escape.

Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 45 minutes.

As I assembled the pie, I remembered my English grandmother making steak and kidney pie. She used to put an egg cup in the middle of the pie to support the pastry as it cooked. I was missing her and her trusty pie dish. The pie emerged from the oven looking delightful,

but the pastry had dropped off on one side. I guess I pressed a bit too hard to get the pastry to stick to the top of the dish!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

bento pork from molly

I’ve been meaning to write about this recipe for ages. It comes from the wonderful Molly at remedial eating and it regularly appears on our dinner table. It is quick to make and delicious to eat. I’ve changed up Molly’s original recipe a bit by reducing the sugar but otherwise it is the same. I buy 1 lb packages of ground pork when it is on sale, so I usually have 2 or 3 stashed away in my freezer at any given time so when I stumped as to what to make for dinner, this is a great go to. The hardest part of this recipe was finding the mirin (Whole Foods) – now I just keep everything on hand and this is a breeze.

Bento Pork (from remedial eating)
1 lb ground pork (not sausage meat)
6 tbsp soy sauce (use the dark version here, the light version doesn’t have enough flavour or heft)
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake

Pour the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar into a saucepan and heat over a medium high heat to blend. Add in the pork and break it up with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture come to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 20-25 minutes. When most of the liquid has been absorbed and is dark and rich looking, it is ready to serve. Molly makes rice bowls with this which I usually do with leftovers (it is delicious with peanut sauce) but on dinner nights I usually serve this as bento pork tacos. Our go to toppings include broccoli cole slaw mix, avocado slices and a smear of mayonnaise mixed with seafood sauce. Every time I make it I thank Molly for posting the recipe.

Cheers to Molly.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

stuffed peppers

A few weeks ago, I was super organized one night and managed to cook up a big batch of farro, one of black beans and one of white beans to hide in my freezer for future use. I was inspired by a lovely post by Molly over at Remedial Eating about stuffed zucchini. My garden had closed for the summer and I had no zucchini bats so I bought some red peppers to stuff. I thought I had some ground turkey to use in the recipe but a cursory dig through my perennially stuffed freezer just yielded a load of mango popsicles and pots of pesto. A rumage through my vegetable drawer yielded some carrots, celery and some small purple turnips. So with this recipe from Ottolenghi in my mind, I made a pepper stuffing using farro, carrots, celery, a bit of chopped ham and diced turnip. With some gruyere cheese grated over the top, it was a lovely supper and my husband loved the leftovers.

Farro, Ham and Turnip Stuffed Peppers (inspired by Molly at remedial eating and this recipe from Ottolenghi)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 small turnips, diced
1 small zucchini, halved and diced
1 handful corn kernels
1 tsp tomato paste
1 large slice cooked ham, diced
1 c cooked farro
3 medium red pepper, halved and deseeded
salt and pepper
1 c grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute for a few minutes until tender. Add the carrots, celery and turnips and continue cooking until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the zucchini, corn, tomato paste and ham and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the farro, stir to mix and cook together for a few minutes to meld everything together and season with salt and pepper. Lay the pepper halves in a greased baking dish that will hold them all in a single layer. Scoop the filling into the peppers, mounding if necessary. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the peppers. Bake the peppers for 45-60 minutes.

embracing my inner tortoise

I mentioned a couple of months ago, that I’ve taken up running. I started off with the RFR C25K program but mid way I got a bit off track. I was suffering with shin splints and struggling with what time of day was best for me to run and then I was distracted by comments from other runners in the same program posting their daily distances. I hadn’t paid any attention to my distance – I was focused on moving for the required amount of time every training session. How would I get back on track? In the end, on the advice of a runner friend, I tried running with a group. My local running store has group runs so I took myself off there for a group run. What can I say? I nearly went home so many times in the first few minutes of arriving at the run location. The marathon group was running 32K that day, the half marathon group 18K. There wasn’t a slow 2K or 4K option. In the end, I joined the Learn to Run people who were near the end of their session so were running 10 minutes and walking 1. We left together and after a couple of minutes they were easily outpacing me. I was about to say,”don’t wait for me” when the group leader split from the rest of the group and stayed with me. The others ran ahead and ran 5K. With the help of the group leader who stayed with me the entire time, I ran and walked almost 4K. And the following week I signed up for a running clinic at the store. We’ve been running 3 times a week – this week we were up to running for 5 minutes, walking for 1, repeated 4 times. We’ve had sessions on running gear, shoes, biomechanics, nutrition and safety. We always run together after the class and have another 2 chances a week to run with the group. The timing has never worked for me for one of the runs so I’ve always had one solo run a week. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve learned a few things about myself. While one of my motivations for joining the clinic was to have a group to push me, there is part of me that resents being pushed. I’m always the slowest in our group runs. Always at the back of the pack and I’ve struggled with that. But I’m still running. I still go every week. Some of the other slower runners have dropped out but I’m still there. My fellow runners and group leaders are very encouraging but it is discouraging to always be the slowest. But I need to embrace that. I’m a slow runner. I represent the end of the loop, for the group when they loop back and get to me they get to turn around and go forward again. I’ve been running in the rain and the cold and that is what matters, not how fast I go or how far I go. I’m still running. And as one of my fellow runners said a few weeks ago “you are faster than all the people on their couches.”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

farro with mushrooms and greens

I was feeling a bit fragile yesterday and not for the usual reasons. It's been a crazy week, busy at work and lots of running around at home and I'm still not used to the dark mornings and evenings. So I wanted comfort food. But not my usual cheesy pasta. I did flirt with the idea of mushrooms and polenta prompted by this post over at danatreat but in the end I was wooed by a picture and recipe from this month's issue of Whole Living. I had farro in my cupboard, a bag I bought at an Italian grocery store a while back, and mushrooms and greens in the fridge. I sauted the mushrooms in butter rather than in the oil called for in the recipe. Here is how I made it.

Farro with mushrooms and Greens (adapted from Whole Living Magazine)
1 cup farro
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp oil
1/4 c dry white wine
3 c vegetable stock
1 tsp dried sage
12 oz sliced mushrooms (I used cremini and button)
2 tbsp butter
2 rashers bacon, cooked and diced
1 bunch greens (I used arugula)
grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, over medium high heat. When hot, add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until tender. Add the farro and stir, until coated with the oil and toasted, for about a minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender.

Meanwhile in another pan, heat the butter until melted and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and are brown. Stir in the cooked bacon

and the greens. Stir until the greens are wilted. Add in the cheese. Stir in the farro and serve. Serves 3 as a main dish.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I can no longer avoid it - fall has arrived. Our long stretch of sunny days has come to an end and as I type this, rain is pattering against the roof and windows. The boy is wearing his wet weather layers for soccer this morning. I am wearing these

on my feet so I don't freeze (a gift from my sister-in-law a few Christmas's ago - they are lovely and toasty and slouchy and I love them, despite them making my feet look like they belong on Oscar the grouch or a very large smurf). I've said a tearful adieu to my sandals and am back to wearing closed toe shoes and today will hunt out the wellies. In the evenings, I huddle under a blanket while knitting if I get a few minutes to perch on the sofa.

I keep waiting for the September craziness to settle down, as as the weeks (gah) go by, I realize my schedule is just busy. I've been waiting 6 years for my husband to give up his second job so I could commit to a few things I felt unable to when I was primary carer for our child on the nights and weekend days when he was working his second job. My husband retired from that job at the end of the summer. But as I've been racing around, I discovered that I'd already moved on from what I'd been hoping to do and already filled those "empty" spots with other things that are a priority now - running and volunteering at my son's before and after school club. And realizing that what everyone had said about having school age children, was coming to pass in my own life. That as your children grow up, you become busier with their stuff and their friends (whose parents become great friends of yours) and their school.

So here it is, almost mid-October with Hallowe'en looming with trick or treating and pumpkins to sort out and then before I can catch my breath, it will be the ramp up to Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love these things but sometimes, I wish I could dial it back and not expect so much of myself. I have a growing pile of projects that confront me as I walk around our house - the chair cover that is waiting to be sewn, fabric for 2 dresses I want to make myself, a Hallowe'en costume for the boy that I want to sew, wool for Christmas presents I want to knit, and piles of cookbooks

 full of recipes I want to make. And then this week, I took a cheese making class and now I want to make cream cheese and mozarella and creme fraiche and camenbert and blue cheese.

So this morning, I made myself a cup of tea and hunkered down with this lovely

 - My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. A lovely, lovely book which speaks to me on so many levels that someday I will talk about. But now I need to get on with my day, soccer in the rain, grocery shopping and making a pot of turkey chili with the beans that are currently simmering away on the stove. Happy Fall!

Monday, October 8, 2012

baked rice casserole

The inspiration for this dish came from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day Cookbook. I love the picture of the dish but didn't have all the ingredients listed so made it my own way. It was perfect for a Saturday night, as the nights get darker and colder but the days are still bright and sunny. It was also a great dish for my new kitchen addition

 - a lovely blue Le Crueset dutch oven that I just love (a lovely present!).

Baked Rice Casserole (inspired by Super Natural Every Day)

3 c cooked brown rice/wild rice blend (I used Lunenburg)
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced
6-8 buttons mushrooms. sliced
1 cooked chicken pesto sausage, diced
1 bunch spinach, washed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp flour
1 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
1 c smoked gouda, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Cook the rice.

In a separate saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until the onion is soft and the mushrooms are a bit browned. Add the garlic, sausage, spinach and mustard and stir to blend. Once the spinach has wilted a bit, add the flour and then the milk and sour cream. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until blended. Add the rice and blend. Pour into a greased casserole, sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top and bake for 30-45 minutes or until the edges get a bit browned.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

market sunday

Another month, another market competition. This month it was best pumpkin or pecan pie. Two years ago I entered my pumpkin pie (I didn't win) - I was beaten by a traditional pie and a beautiful raw food, no sugar, no wheat, no dairy pumpkin mousse dessert. I hadn't made up my mind what to make for today's competition until I saw this recipe over at eatliverun. Last night I measured out the pecans, sugar, kahlua and butter that make up the crust and pressed the crumbs into a pie plate and put it in the freezer. While that was setting up, I melted the chocolate, added coffee and then kahlua and vanilla, beat up the whipped cream and then folded it all together. I did have a bit of a panic while folding the chocolate into the cream as my mixture didn't look nearly as dark as the pictures with the recipe. In the end I poured the chocolate mixture into the shell and put it all in the fridge.

my sleeve bears chocolate marks - I get into my baking!
There was quite a bit of mousse left over, which my husband sampled freely this morning. I crumbled some Cadbury flake over the top of the pie before taking it down for the competition. After all that it was slightly anticlimactic to be the only entry in the competition but people who tasted it seemed to enjoy it. I did. And for my efforts I won this lovely bunch of market goodies.

No Bake Chocolate Kahlua Pecan Pie (from eatliverun)

for crust
2 cups finely chopped, toasted pecans
5 tbsp brown sugar, packed
5 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp Kahlua
pinch of salt
for filling
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp instant coffee
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp kahlua
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
shaved dark chocolate and whipped cream for serving

To make the crust, combine the finely chopped pecans, brown sugar, salt, melted butter and kahlua in a bowl. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and then press down in a greased 9″ pie dish. Place in the freezer for 1 hour to harden.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Add the coffee once the chocolate has melted, stirring well to combine. Keep the chocolate pot over the double boiler, on low heat and add the eggs, one by one. Keep whisking the eggs and chocolate continuously over low heat in the double boiler for ten minutes. The mixture should thicken slightly.
After about ten minutes of mixing, take the pot off the heat completely and add the kahlua and vanilla extract. Stir well.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Slowly drizzle the chocolate mixture into the cream, while folding, gently with a rubber spatula.
Pour the mousse into the frozen crust and place in the fridge for four hours or overnight. Serve with chocolate shavings (peeled chocolate or flaked chocolate) and whipped cream.