Sunday, April 29, 2012

chocolate chip nut bars

Last week our boy and I decided we should bake some cookies and of course, he choose chocolate chip cookies. But he wanted the square kind (bar cookies). I've made a few recipes lately but this time, I went back to my mum's recipe box and found this recipe for chocolate chip nut bars. Actually, there are 2 of these, one handwritten and one typed in the box (our boy wants to appropriate the box and use it as a treasure chest). I seem to recall that we got the recipe after we had these bars at someone's house but I can't remember who gave us the recipe. So, I made these, with some help from the boy, last week and they were gone almost immediately. Yesterday I made some more and they are almost all gone. My husband claims the cat is eating them but crumbs on his shirt would indicate otherwise.

Chocolate Chip Nut Bars (from Diana's recipe box)
1 c flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/3 c  butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg chocolate chips
1 c chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)

Sift or blend flour, baking powder, soda and salt together. Cream butter, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and then add the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips and nuts and turn into a greased 11x7 pan and bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes and cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

yam pancakes

I've seen a couple of recipes for sweet potato cakes or croquettes lately. They looked delicious but it took a couple of weeks before I remembered to pick up sweet potatoes at the store. While roasting them would be my first choice, the night I made these I didn't have a lot of time, so I went with the steaming method. I subbed a couple of shallots for the leek in the original recipe, as I was leekless but the rest comes from Sprouted Kitchen. And the dough was very sticky, so I was grateful for my scoop to form these, drop into the pan and then flatten a bit with a fork.

Yam Pancakes (adapted very slightly from Sprouted Kitchen)
1 1/2 lbs peeled sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 tsp butter
2 shallots, diced
2 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 c unbleached flour
1 egg, well beaten

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 c plain yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp chopped lemongrass

Steam the potatoes until tender and set aside.

Melt the butter and saute the shallots until tender. Mash the potatoes and add the shallots, soy sauce, garlic, salt, cayenne and the egg. Add the flour and mix until the mixture holds together. Add flour if it seems very wet.

Heat a bit of oil and butter in a large pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Scoop the mixture into balls and drop into the oil. Continue until the pan is full, allowing space between each cake. Press the batter flat (ish) and heat until browned on one side. Flip and brown on the other side. Keep warm in a low oven, while cooking the rest of the batter into cakes.

To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together. Serve the cakes warm with the sauce.

These were a big hit with my family, my husband named them yam pancakes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

cauliflower hash brown casserole

I was sure I'd posted a version of this recipe before but I checked and it doesn't appear that I have. Hash brown casserole is something I do fairly regularly. I keep a bag of the diced hash browns in my freezer for times when I'm lacking ideas and the other day, I had a head of cauliflower and some ham so this is what I made for dinner.

Cauliflower Hash Brown casserole ( a mummydinosaur original)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets or small slices
olive oil
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
250 mL milk
250 mL vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 c grated smoked cheddar
1 c diced ham (I did big chunks)
500 g of diced frozen hash brown potatoes

Roast the cauliflower with a dash of olive oil for about 20 minutes in a 400 deg F oven, or until the cauliflower is tender and brown in spots.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, milk and vegetable stock and stir or whisk well until smooth. Let the mixture come to a boil, turn down the heat a bit and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and the mustard and stir until smooth.

In a greased casserole dish, add the frozen hash browns, the diced ham, the cooked cauliflower and add the cheese sauce and mix well. Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes or longer, until the casserole is bubbly around the edges.

This can be adapted for any other vegetable or combination of vegetables using ham or not, to your taste or based on what is on hand.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

mushroom and spinach crepes

Despite appearances I have not disappeared down a rabbit hole. I've been a bit under the weather with a coldy thing and pink eye (eyes?) which has been maddening. Spring seems to have finally arrived and the house seems almost warm at times which is such a nice feeling. I've made it outside into my excuse for a garden and cleared away some of the debris from winter and planted some things - sweet peas, spinach, chard and am cheered to see shoots where I planted garlic in the fall. There are some tiny tulips blooming under the Korean lilac bush and more bulbs are growing in pots - although not blooming yet.

But the real reason that I haven't been here much lately is my new obsession as my husband calls it. What is it you ask? Online scrapbooking. I got an offer a few weeks ago for a free book so I decided to give it a go. And created a monster. Since I started a mere 3 weeks ago, I've done 7 complete albums, ordered and on their way and the first one arrived the other day. I calculated that it is about the same price as printing pictures and scrapbooking myself with all the supplies I buy. And the albums should take up less space. I'm up to date with scrapbooking finally and because I'm doing it online, there is less scrapbook debris while I'm working and I won't need all the stuff anymore (stickers, paper, brads, punches, etc). So last week I culled my supplies (I'm keeping some for making cards) and did a big donation to the club where our son goes before and after school and the workers there are thrilled as well. And my skinny man is beyond thrilled to have my "scrapbooking" corner cleared out. So happiness all around. But I will admit that I was spending a lot of time at the computer after the boy had gone to bed. Not all my time mind you, because I also just finished reading "As Always, Julia" which was fascinating although it did lead to strange dreams about recipes!

Anyway, I'm meant to be posting about crepes so I will move on. Crepes. I went through a brief spell a few weeks back where we ate a lot of crepes. Mainly because of an article I read in the Guardian. And as I have sourdough starter now, this recipe caught my eye. I make it without the eggs and the resulting crepe doesn't taste overly sour or tangy but does have a lovely texture. I usually double the recipe, or at least make 1 1/2 times as much as the recipe to render enough crepes (as I leave out the eggs).

Crepes (adapted from here)
170 mL milk (I use 1%)
120 mL sourdough starter
2 pinches of salt
100 g flour
A big knob of melted butter (I use ~ 1 tbsp for a knob)

Mix all the ingredients together. Melt some more butter into a crepe pan over medium heat until bubbly and then pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges get a tiny bit crisp and turn over. Cook until slightly brown around the edges and shake onto a plate. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Mushroom and Spinach filling
2 tbsp butter
8-10 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
dash of worchestershire sauce
1 bag of spinach
1 c grated gruyere or sharp cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a pan over medium high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are a bit brown. Add the flour and the stock and stir, cooking until the mixture thickens slightly. Add the mustard, worchestershire sauce and the spinach. letting the spinach wilt into the mixture. Once the spinach is wilted, add about half of the cheese and stir into the sauce. Let cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool a few minutes.

Add a couple of tablespoons of filling to each crepe across the diameter of the crepe near the bottom and roll up the crepe to enclose the filling (try and get more mushrooms and spinach and not so much sauce when you are doing this).

Place the crepes into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Fill all the crepes, or as many fit in a single layer in your dish.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the crepes and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake at 350 deg F for about 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden and the filling is bubbly.

Any leftover crepes can be frozen - layer the crepes with a piece of waxed or parchment paper between each one, wrap all of them well in plastic wrap, and put into a freezer bag. You can fill them frozen or defrost in a microwave for about 10 seconds each.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

bread pudding for spring

This would have made a delicious Easter brunch dish but instead served us a lovely dinner last night. I used my own made sourdough bread and the veggies I had on hand, endive and asparagus and a shallot - it was good.

Asparagus, Endive and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
4-5 small endive, cored and sliced into ribbons
1 shallot, diced
1 tbsp butter
2 tsps dijon mustard

1 tsp dried sage
7-8 slices sourdough bread, cut into 1" pieces
6 large eggs
1 c milk
3/4 c plain yogurt
salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
1 small log goat cheese (I used one with rosemary and olive oil)
freshly grated parmesan cheese (~ 1/3 c)
Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the shallot, endive and asparagus and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the shallot becomes translucent. Add the mustard and sage. Set aside.
Beat the eggs, milk and yogurt together until well blended. Season with salt and pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Pour this mixture over the bread. Add in the vegetables and mix together. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Take the mixture out of the fridge and add the goat cheese in crumbled chunks, distributing through the mixture. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top. Bake at 350 deg F for 50-60 minutes, until the dish has puffed up in the middle and browned slightly around the edges.