Monthly Archives: April 2012
A new artist I’ve been listening to and anticipating the release of her debut album ‘I Predict A Graceful Expulsion’ in late May. She’s based in the UK but is originally Canadian – best of both worlds!
This is one of my favourite comforting cold weather suppers. Definitely hearty and full of flavour. A favourite with most of our guests!
I love leeks and so do the British (so this whole arrangement works out really well) and I can buy cheap leeks whenever I want at the grocery. This is a dish and preparation that really showcases the sweetness and buttery interior texture of the leeks. I cook the whole thing on the stovetop because I lack a grill or BBQ here, but it can definitely be done other ways.
Leek and Steak Pasta (Serves 4)
- 2 decent grilling steaks
- olive oil
- salt and fresh pepper to take
- 12 oz penne
- 4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
- 4-6 leeks, cleaned and sliced in half and then into 2-3 inch chunks
- 3-5 cloves garlic crushed and skinned
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp butter
For the sauce:
- 2 oz (50 g) butter
- 2 oz (50 g) plain flour
- 1½ pints (850 ml) milk
- 6 oz (175 g) good Cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 fl oz (75 ml) cream
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- Heat a large frying pan over high heat with some olive oil. Dry steaks well, rub with a clove of crushed garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add steaks to pan and cook until rare-medium rare (or however you like it done, preferably not grey and stringy). Don’t fuss over the steaks too much, leave them be! Just flip them after a couple of minutes and do the other side. Remove from heat, tent with foil and let sit.
- Put on a pot of water (with some salt!) to boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.
- In the same pan, turn down the heat to medium-high and add the bacon. Cook for a couple of minutes until starting to crisp and then add the leeks, cut side down.
- Add the cloves of garlic, sugar, vinegar and butter. Swirl the pan and let the leeks caramelise a bit. Turn them over (they will break apart) and continue to cook until tender.
- While the leeks and pasta are cooking start the sauce. Melt the butter in another saucepan and add the flour. Stir and cook a bit, but do not let the mixture to brown. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the cheese, cream and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce and the leeks. Slice steak and lay overtop. Serve!
(I also add blistered cherry tomatoes to this at times which is delicious!)
When we were in Turkey, Janice and I gorged ourselves on Turkish food. I love Middle-Eastern food in general. Its incredibly flavourful and full of vegetables (if you choose correctly). With my mom being a vegetarian, I’m always looking for new exciting meals for her (and for myself). This is a meal I’ve made several times. Its an easy one to modify depending on your tastes as well. This version is pretty straightforward but in the past I have added nuts of various kinds, different types of cheese and dried fruit. I love the pairing of eggplant and goat cheese though and I would suggest trying this first! The rice is a nice backdrop but the eggplant could be a light meal by itself.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Eggplant in Tomato Sauce
- 2-4 eggplants (depending on size)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small onions, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 8 oz goat cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 lb ripe tomatoes, diced (peeled if desired)
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp cumin, ground if whole
- 2 tsp coriander, ground if whole
- 1 medium onions, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp fresh mint
- 3 fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper
- Slice eggplants in half and char in olive oil on both sides over high heat. Lwer heat and cook, cut side down, until flesh is soft. Remove from heat and scoop out eggplant flesh. Reserve the skins.
- Saute onions and garlic until soft and golden and add to eggplant along with goat cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stuff the goat cheese mixture into the hollowed out eggplant skins and set aside.
- For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat, add cumin and coriander and stir briefly before adding onions and garlic. Reduce heat until golden and soft.
- Add tomatoes and cinnamon as well as salt and pepper to taste and let cook for 1-2 minutes until softened.
- Nestle the stuffed eggplants back into the tomato sauce and simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove eggplants and sprinkle mint and coriander onto sauce. Remove from heat and serve on rice with eggplant halves.
Lemon Saffron Rice
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 generous pinches saffron
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
To regale you all with stories of my failure at life and adulthood, I thought I’d share this anecdote about what happened at work yesterday (misleading title I know).
So yesterday I was at work (on a Saturday… sigh) because we had a ton of orders to complete and a lot to catch up on. Working on Saturdays isn’t bad, we usually spoil ourselves a bit and its nice to have the place to ourselves while we busily rush around trying to get ahead for the next week.
The only bad thing about working on Saturdays is that the buildings aren’t fully opened by security. So when I decided to go fill up my water bottle in the main reception, I knew to keep the door propped open with my foot.
Unfortunately due to my clumsy nature I managed to off-balance the water bottle (and myself) and trip over my own feet while trying to avoid a major spill. Of course in the process, I managed to let go of the door and it slammed shut behind me, leaving me trapped in reception.
Yes, we can all acknowledge that I’m a star.
I tried about four different door codes before giving up and calling the other building to have someone come and let me out. I’m not sure they’ll let me go anywhere unsupervised anymore…
I love banana bread. Always have. Doesn’t hurt that its my brother’s favourite baked good, as well as one of my ex-boyfriend’s favourites. While I have my traditional banana bread staple recipe I use for everything (with minor adaption), sometimes a change is nice. Which is why when I saw on a food blog (Brown Eyed Baker) a recipe for Bananas Foster Banana Bread I knew I needed to try it. Banana bread plus a crunchy nutty topping plus rum sauce? The minor alcoholic in me couldn’t resist! However, I wanted to take this baking to work (to avoid eating it all myself) and so I wanted a more transportable, sharable form. Thus muffins. This is my version of the Bananas Foster Banana Bread Recipe.
Bananas Foster Muffins
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1½ cups chopped pecans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup rum
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners.
- For the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and mix in pecans; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and vegetable oil on medium speed to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until combined. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract; beat to combine. Alternatively add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the flour is incorporated and finish mixing with a spatula.
- Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the muffins. Bake until muffin tops are golden and firm, 22 to 24 minutes, rotating halfway.
- While the muffins are baking, make the rum glaze. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring the butter, water, and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
- Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes. Then, using a toothpick poke holes all over the top of the muffins. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the rum glaze over each muffin. Let the muffins sit for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Spoon the remaining glaze over each muffin.
Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Ginger is one of my favourite flavours. I love it in both sweet and savoury items and I must admit my favourite cookies are ginger cookies. One day I may share my grandmother’s recipes for the best ginger cookies ever. I love how warming ginger is and how it soothes the soul (and the throat during cold season). Ginger baked goods signify winter and although winter is officially over it has been rainy and cold here for the last week. That means its the perfect time for comforting baking.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the molasses and hot water. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat just until combined.
- Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.
Serve with whipped cream, warm or cool as you like.