Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gourmet Crackers

I don't know how far across the continent Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps are available, but I do know that they are absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, the price keeps me from buying them. I found a couple of recipes on the internet that claimed to be knock-offs. I tweaked, altered, and experimented and this is the result. Faintly sweet, full of seeds and whole grain goodness and easy to make. They just take a little time. They are the perfect accompaniment to melting Brie cheese, a slice of cucumber, a bit of hot artichoke dip, or whatever suits your fancy. Here they are shown with cream cheese and balsamic pepper jelly - a lovely melange of creamy, crunchy, sweet and peppery.
The crackers keep well in the freezer, if you can stop from eating them all. The recipe makes about 100 crackers. The recipe is very forgiving - you can substitute, add or subtract. I've used leftover white wine as part of the liquid with great results.

Gourmet Crackers

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds (unsalted or salted)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted or salted)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups milk with 2 Tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice added to make it sour
1/4 cup baking molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into a medium large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.

Grease 4 small loaf pans, or two regular-sized pans. Bake loaves for 45 to 60 minutes, checking periodically with a toothpick for doneness. They should be firm to the touch and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool in pans for about 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack. Wrap cooled loaves in foil or place them in a sealed container overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Slice each loaf as thin as possible with the slices still holding together. I'd guess 1/8th to 1/4" thick. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and lay the slices on the paper in a single layer. This will take several baking sheets. Bake until crackers are crisp, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the thickness. Check periodically because they can burn quickly towards the end of the baking time.

Cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

This is not a sweet coleslaw, although letting the salad sit in the refrigerator for a few hours lets the sweetness of the cranberries and raisins permeate throughout. This is a simple salad that reminds me of the wonderful salads we enjoyed in the Bavarian region of Germany. Lots of flavour with simple ingredients.

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 small to medium head of red cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of cranberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium to large bowl, toss thoroughly to combine. A handful of roasted sunflower seeds would be a nice addition just prior to serving.

Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)

This mayonnaise/dip is NOT for the faint-hearted. Its assertive garlic flavour is wonderful for those who are enamoured of the bulb. Since I used olive oil, that flavour is also pronounced. I like it with fresh vegetables, crudités, as they serve it in Provence. A true Provençal would probably turn up his or her nose at my version because I added some fresh parsley and a little lemon juice to the sauce. This would probably not be the best thing to serve for a romantic dinner or picnic, unless all parties partake.


6 large fresh garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you can use a milder oil, or combination of oils if you don't want the olive flavour too pronounced)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Peel and cut the garlic cloves in half, then remove the green, sprout-like "germ" that runs lengthwise through the center of the garlic. In a mortar, place the garlic and salt, and mash them together with the pestle until a paste forms. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, use the flat side of a knife and a cutting board to smash the salt and garlic into a paste. Don't use a food processor or blender or it might turn out gluey.

Add one egg yolk to the paste. You may need to transfer this to a bowl if your mortar is small, as mine is. Stir the yolk and the paste evenly until the yolk is fully incorporated. Add the second yolk in the same manner.

Very slowly, with a whisk, add the oil, just a drop or two at a time, whisking until the mixture thickens. After about 1/3 of the oil is added you can trickle in the rest of the oil, still whisking constantly until the sauce is thickened. It will be quite thick - moreso than a commercial mayonnaise.

Lastly, whisk in the parsley and lemon juice.

Serve with fresh vegetables as a dip, or smear on fish before baking. Spread on a sandwich this would add real character to whatever you're eating.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parsnip and Carrot Soup with Ginger

What's better than soup on a rainy winter day? Soup and fresh bread - a match that never fails. Tonight's soup is filled with sweetness and ginger. Parsnips are not that common anymore, but I love them in this soup (or just cooked and served with a buttery brown sugar sauce). But that's a recipe for another day.

I found this recipe in a Fine Cooking magazine - Cooking Fresh 2005. I've made it several times and tweaked it a little. It's always good.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (I used 3 parsnips)
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (I used 3 carrots)
1 1/2 quarts homemade or low-salt chicken or vegetable broth (more might be needed)
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream, crème fraîche, or heavy cream

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Put the onions in the pot and saute them until soft, but not brown. Add the parsnips, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Strain the soup into a large bowl, reserving both vegetables and broth. Transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor and purée. Gradually add the broth to the purée until the mixture is loose enough to pour. Add the ginger, thyme, nutmeg, and white wine (if using). If necessary, thin the soup with salt and pepper. I like to add about 2 Tablespoons of cream to the soup, and then drizzle a little on top when serving as well.

Yields about 8 1/2 cups

Dutch Crust Oatmeal Muffins

I found this recipe somewhere a looong time ago. I know I made it when our kids were little so it's at least 25 years old. But it's a keeper. I'm posting it today because my niece, Nicole, freezing out in Ottawa with her husband, asked for it. I had to make some to take the photo so my husband is very glad she asked. Thanks, Nicole!

Yields 12 regular sized muffins

3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup fresh or part thawed frozen cranberries, blueberries, or chopped apple

2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use 1/2 cup milk plus 2 teaspoons vinegar)
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine the dry ingredients, stir in the fruit. Combine the wet ingredients and add to the dry mixture, stirring just enough to combine the two. Spoon into 12 regular sized muffin cups. Top with Dutchy Crust (recipe follows) and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together with your fingers and sprinkle on muffins before baking.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tidying Up

I'm in the midst of organizing the recipes here - bringing some over from my other blog and putting new categories on this blog so the recipes will be easier to find. It's being done piecemeal - whenever I have a few minutes, so no guarantee about when it will be completed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rustic Plum Tart

I'm moving recipes from my other blog over here to my recipe blog....hence the out of season commentary.

I'm loving all the fresh fruit available now. I tried making a fruit tart the other day and mmm, it was so good, and without the fuss of fitting the crust into a pie plate, covering it, crimping it and so on. This went together in a snap. I got this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine - the August/September 2005 issue.

Use your regular pie crust dough. I make mine with whole wheat flour - I like the nutty flavour, and it makes me feel like I'm maybe eating something healthy!

Roll the dough into a 14 inch circle. It's all right if the edges are a little ragged. Fold into quarters and lift carefully onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Unfold.

Prepare the filling:
4 cups fruit - I used plums and a few apricots. Slice them thinly, no need to peel.
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Toss everything together.

Heap the fruit in the center of the dough round. Then fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit, creating a rim about 2 inches wide. Work your way around the circle, pleating the dough as you go.
Brush the dough with light cream and sprinkle with sugar - I used gold sanding sugar since I had some in the cupboard. But any sugar will work.

Bake the tart at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes. Some of the juice is likely to escape, but that's okay. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream. Or maybe some custard sauce.

Leftovers are great for breakfast!

Oven Baked Chicken, Sauteed Vegetable Medley

Baked Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or use 1 T dried)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place chicken in 9 x 11 baking dish. Spread mustard over the tops of the chicken breasts. Drizzle with 1/2 of the melted butter. Combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the chicken breasts. Drizzle with remaining butter. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done.

Sautéed Vegetable Medley

3 sweet peppers, I used one each of red, yellow and orange, cut into strips
6 medium large mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
2 T olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (or whatever you have on hand)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add mushrooms, peppers and snap peas. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until just starting to be tender. Add balsamic vinegar and remove from heat. Season to taste. Spoon into oven proof casserole dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Chilled Avocado Soup

This is perfect for a hot summer evening. Cold and creamy with a hint of mint. This can be made ahead, in fact, it needs to chill for an hour or so. It's fast and delicious. I adapted the recipe from one found in the June 2007 issue of Country Living magazine.

1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
1 shallot, chopped ( I used a slice of Vidalia onion)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt (Greek yogurt or Balkan)
2 - 4 large fresh lemon balm leaves (or mint leaves)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup cold water

Throw everything into a blender and process until smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve garnished with a sprig of lemon balm or mint.

Breakfast Egg Strudels

I make these for Christmas breakfast. And I never remember to take a photo. But they are good all year round, lounging luxuriously in the freezer, so next time I make some, I'll try to have my camera handy.

Edited to add: (photo taken December 2011) These make very neat little parcels that turn into a delicious melange of crunchy pastry and creamy filling once you attack them with a fork and knife. I cut into this one so that you could see the filling.

Another edit (December 2016) An updated photo, and below, four photos that show the steps to folding these little packets.

Egg Strudels

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Melt the butter, add the flour, then stir in the milk. Whisk until bubbly and thick, then stir in the the salt and cheese and stir until melted. Set aside while you prepare the eggs.

6 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 Tablespoons minced green onion or chives
1 cup diced smoked ham (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pepper and salt
1 Tablespoon butter

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the eggs and scramble until set but still moist. Stir in the remaining ingredients and add to the cheese sauce. Let cool slightly.

8-10 sheets phyllo pastry
1/4 cup butter, melted

Place one sheet of phyllo on work surface. Cover remainder with towels to prevent drying out. Brush sheet lightly with butter. Fold in half, brush with butter. Spoon about 1/3 cup of egg mixture along narrow end of phyllo, leaving a 1-2 inch border. Fold sides over to enclose filling. Roll up. Brush top with butter.

Now, you can either bake them or freeze them. To freeze them, I place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper, set the pan in the freezer until the strudels are frozen, then place them into a ziploc bag.

To bake before freezing, bake at 375 degrees 15-18 minutes.
To bake after freezing, do not thaw, but bake at 375 degrees 35-40 minutes.

These are so good with fresh fruit on the side and some cinnamon buns.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Why is it that tiny things taste so much better than big things? The cuteness factor of mini muffins makes them more fun to eat than regular sized ones, in my opinion. Big or small, these muffins are perfect for breakfast, coffee, or as a snack.

Apple Streusel Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable cooking oil
3/4 cup grated apple, peeled or not (I didn't peel mine)

In mixing bowl stir together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl beat egg, milk and cooking oil to blend. Stir in apple. Pour into flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fill muffin cups (I made 3 dozen mini ones - or 12 regular sized) Sprinkle with streusel topping (below) and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (15 minutes for the minis)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Rub all ingredients together until crumbly.


Mini Meatloaves with Blue Cheese Filling

This recipe is taken from the Thrifty Foods flyer - slightly adapted.
1 1/4 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 Tablespoons milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used dry ones since the recipe didn't specify)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (chopped fine)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4-6 chunks of blue cheese, about 1 inch square
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all the ingredients except the blue cheese, in a bowl. Mix well, but lightly. Divide the mixture into 4-6 balls (I made 6). Flatten each slightly, place a square of blue cheese on the meat, then bring up meat around it to enclose completely. Shape into a mini meatloaf. Roast for 30 minutes, or until entirely cooked through (160 degrees on a meat thermometer.
I also made a sauce to go over the meatloaves. No real recipe - sauteed a few onions in a bit of olive oil, added some cream and crumbled blue cheese and stirred until melted.