Monday, 31 August 2009

Cheese Goes with Everything

This next foray into cheese making is an easy one. No rennet required, the milk is just brought to temperature, curdled with vinegar and drained. Easy peasy. The resulting cheese, especially when salted, makes a great topping for pasta and salad and is so easy you will wonder why you have been spending so much in the store for such a simple cheese!
Heather of Girlichef and I have been exploring new cheeses together, discovering what can easily be made at home. Check out her site to see how she fared with this one.

Queso Blanco Recipe
This recipe is based on this one from The Cheese Wizard, with some changes as read in other cheese books.

1 gallon whole milk, cow or goat - I used a combination of both. Avoid ultrapasturized milk in cheese-making.
1/4 cup cider vinegar - I loved the flavour that the cider vinegar lent this cheese, makes me wonder how it would be with other tasty vinegars.

Heat milk very slowly to 180 F, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the milk. Hold at 180 for 10 minutes.
While mixing with a whisk, slowly add the cider vinegar. You will notice the milk begins to curdle.
Keep stirring gently for 10-15 minutes.
Line a colander with a fine cheesecloth.
Pour the curdled milk through the colander.
Allow the curds to cool for about 20 minutes.
Tie the four corners of the cheese cloth together and hang it to drain for about 5 - 7 hours (until it stops dripping).
The solidified cheese can be broken apart and salted to taste or kept unsalted. I like it salted.
*In my ricotta making experience... I have found that regular store bought cheesecloth it too loose a weave for draining. Either you have to fold and fold to get a tight weave (which can be expensive) or find another cloth. I use a white cotton napkin that drains well but has a tighter weave. I only use the napkins for cheese making. Even a good remainder bin might have something you can use and re-use. Wash it first and grab an all natural fabric. The cheese places use something called "butter muslin" but I have never seen it here.

This cheese was excellent on top of pasta. I just slow roasted two trays of halved and seeded tomatoes and a few chili peppers, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. When they were done I just pulsed them in the food processor and tossed with hot pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and top with queso. Delish!

Avocado, Cilantro and White Onion Salad
Tyler Florence, Food Network

1 garlic clove, chopped
2 limes, juiced
Pinch sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium, ripe avocados
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh picked cilantro leaves
*I topped mine with my fresh queso blanco, and added a few of my garden cherry tomatoes for colour, yum!
In a large mixing bowl, add the garlic, lime juice, sugar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and give it a quick whisk to combine.
Split avocados in half and remove the pit. Spoon out the flesh, put on a cutting board and slice into chunks. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the onion and cilantro leaves. Add the vinaigrette and toss lightly to coat just before serving.
This salad was the optional August bonus dish for Tyler Florence Fridays, and was so wonderfully tangy and tasty. The recipe says serves four, but hubby and I ate it all in one sitting. It is just that good!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Viva Canadian Produce!

This summer, the good people behind the Loblaw Grown Close to Home program, a national initiative by the Loblaw grocery company to support our local farmers and get Canadians eating more regional fare, have invited me to come up with a dish that celebrates local and seasonal Ontario produce.
Here, in gorgeous full colour, is what I came up with - giant, colourful peppers, stuffed with a risotto-style orzo, feta, fresh herbs, and lots of summer veggies.
The corn for stuffing the peppers can be grilled ahead of time, just throw a couple of ears on when you do up your burgers one night.
*To grill corn, remove husk and silks, place corn on grill at medium heat, away the flame, turning every 3-4 minutes until slightly toasted on all sides, about 10 minutes in total.

Late Summer Stuffed Peppers
Natashya, Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

6 large coloured peppers - orange, red, yellow, or a mix. Look for very large and firm peppers for stuffing.

2 cups orzo pasta
900ml container chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

2 ears of corn, grilled, and niblets sliced away from cob
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh peas
3 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
3 cups baby spinach, packed
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Season to taste - kosher salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese for top

Preheat the oven to 35oF
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Slice the tops off of the peppers, leaving enough on the top for an attractive lid. With a paring knife, carefully remove the ribs and seeds. Stand the peppers on the prepared baking sheet, shaving a little off the bottom of any that won't stand on their own. Place the lids on the baking sheet beside them.
Bake for 15 minutes, until softened. Put aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add olive oil, salt and orzo. Stir. Reduce to gentle simmer and continue to stir until orzo is al dente, about 8 minutes. It is important that you keep stirring so that the orzo does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
When done, it should be creamy and have absorbed most of the chicken broth, like a risotto.

In a large non-reactive bowl, add all the hot orzo, all the veggies, herbs and feta. Stir to combine. The heat will wilt the spinach down and partially cook the rest of the veggies. Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Stuff the peppers with the orzo/veggie stuffing, rounding the tops, and sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top. Place lid gently on top and bake the peppers in the 350F oven until soft and heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

*Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. The French call this mise en place and it makes cooking much easier and less stressful.
*You may have some stuffing leftover. It is great for lunches or even cold as a pasta salad.
* For more information on the Loblaw's Grown Close to Home Program, and what is in season in your Canadian area, please visit

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Pane Integrale alle Erbe

This month's Bread Baking Day challenge is to bake something that you haven't baked before. Sounds easy enough. When I started bookmarking the loaves that I haven't made yet and want to... well, let's just say I was risking running out of stickie notes.
I decided on this lovely collection of whole wheat rolls, chock full of herbs. My garden is fairly prolific this year and the sudden cool temperatures are reminding me that the glorious garden herbs are not going to last forever. What better way to honour them than by baking them into bread? I used much more than the recipe called for here, I did use the stated parsley and rosemary, but also added in some sage and oregano and, for good luck, four minced cloves of garlic. Well, garlic and herbs are the best of friends after all!
These rolls are fun and charming and absolutely delicious.

Pane Integrale alle Erbe
Whole Wheat Bread with Herbs
Carol Field, The Italian Baker - this is a must-have book for your collection

"Spiritoso," said the Roman baker, describing this bread -meaning it's witty and spirited, a bit out of the ordinary with its clever counterpoint of herbs played against the whole wheat. It's also straightforward and honest, with a crunch top and soft interior, and it tastes wonderful with hearty beef and lamb dishes.

Makes 2 rings of 10 or 12 rolls each.

3 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or 1 1/3 small cake (24 grams) fresh yeast
1/4 cup warm water
Scant 1/4 cup olive oil
2 3/4 cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
About 6 cups (800 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt

By Mixer:
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil and 2 3/4 cups water with the paddle. Add the rosemary, parsley, flours, and salt and mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead until firm and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes.

First Rise:
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Shaping and Second Rise:
Punch the dough down on lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half and cover the piece you are not working on with plastic wrap to keep the dough from drying out. Shape each piece into 10 to 12 balls and cover the shaped dough as you finish. Arrange the rolls in a ring on a lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet or in a ring mould. Cover with plastic wrap, place a towel over the plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The risen rolls should look like big Swedish meatballs flecked with little pieces of parsley.

Heat the oven to 400F. Preheat for 30 minutes before baking. Bake 20 minutes and cool completely on racks.

*I subbed leftover whey for the water in the recipe. Waste not, want not! The whey, a by-product of cheese making, adds some body and texture as well as flavour and nutrition to breads.

*For fun I made the second ring in a fluted ring mould. How cute is that?! The first one is made in a 10 inch round pan.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Tyler's Chinese Spareribs #5 with Teriyaki Glaze

Let's talk about reducing here for a moment, shall we? No, I am not talking about reducing your waistline or, good heavens!, mine. I am talking about reducing sauces and such. Yes, that great technique for amplifying flavour and creating gorgeous, rich consistency. My problem is... when am I done? Recipes say to reduce to a cup, or half a cup, or what-have-you, but how do you discern that from your position of hovering over the pot and yelling at it to hurry up?
I think that specific sauce reducing pots should be designed. Maybe with one slanted side like the Oxo measuring cups and graded so that you can read from the side or the top. Genius? I think so. Please don't forget about me if you take this idea and run with it. Or at least send me the prototypes.
Ok, on to my dish.
This week for Tyler Florence Fridays, I made his Chinese Spareribs #5 with Teriyaki Glaze. I am on an Asian roll now after my Cook the Books dish, forgive me. These ribs are savoury, salty, sweet and sticky. And, because I got ahead of myself and reduced the sauce to 3/4 of a cup instead of 1.5 cups.. very intense! They were great with some Asian slaw and steamed rice. Yum!

Chinese Spareribs #5 with Teriyaki Glaze
Tyler Florence, Food Network, Real Kitchen

2 racks pork spareribs, 4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup Chinese five-spice powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves and green onion, for garnish

Teriyaki Glaze:
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 fresh red chile
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-inch piece fresh ginger, whacked open with the flat side of a knife

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Rub the ribs all over with the five-spice powder; season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan and slow-roast for 2 1/2 hours.
To prepare the teriyaki glaze: Meanwhile, in a pot, combine the soy sauce, grapefruit juice, hoisin sauce, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, chile, garlic, and ginger over medium heat. Bring to a slow simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
In the last 30 minutes of cooking, baste the ribs with the teriyaki sauce. When they are done, the pork will pull away from the bone and you will see about 1/2-inch of bone showing. Just before you're ready to eat, baste the ribs with the teriyaki sauce again and stick them under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes to make the spareribs a nice crusty brown. (Keep a close eye on these guys - ribs go from perfectly crisp to perfectly burnt seconds.) Separate the ribs with a cleaver or sharp knife, pile them on a platter, and pour on the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and green onion before serving.
(I garnished with sesame seeds and chopped chives, my cilantro has long since bolted)

Join us for Tyler Florence Fridays!
Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the
Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Beijing Wontons in Rich Broth

This month's Cook the Books Club selection was The Last Chinese Chef, an adult adventure and romance that rises out of the sudden widow-hood of a childless food writer and her subsequent trip to China. There she takes part in the dual projects of investigating a paternity suit against her late husband and covering the story of a Chinese-American chef who is competing for a place in the Beijing Olympic culinary competition.
A tapestry of food and history unfolds in this book that delights the senses as well as the heart, a wonderful summer read. For my cooking selection, I chose Beijing Wontons in Rich Broth. A delicious meal that my family loved. Enjoy!

Beijing Wonton Tang
Beijing Wontons in Rich Broth
Cecelia Chaing, The Seventh Daughter

5 ounces ground pork shoulder
1 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced green onion
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
Flour, for dusting
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (I don't know why she calls for two, one was more than enough)
1 package wonton wrappers
Homemade chicken broth, simmered with ginger
Thin sliced green onions, for garnish (I used Chinese chives)
*If you like spicy (as I do) drizzle the soup with hot chili oil

To make the filling, combine the pork, ginger, green onion, salt, sesame oil, wine, and soy sauce in a bowl until well combined. Using your hands, gently mix together all of the ingredients just until combined. You want the filling to be a little loose.

To assemble the wontons, lightly dust a rimmed baking sheet with flour and set it aside. Open the package of wontons and cover with a lightly dampened towel so the skins don't dry out. For each wonton, hold a wrapper in one hand so it looks like a diamond rather than a square and place 1 tsp of the filling in the center. Dip a finger in the water and run it along the perimeter of the diamond, then fold the wrapper up so the bottom point meets the top point, forming a triangle. Press the edges closed and using your finger again, dab a little egg on the two opposite side points of the long edge of the triangle. Bring the two points together to they overlap, and press to seal. Place the wonton on the floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers. At this point, the wontons should be cooked within an hour.

For four servings, bring 3 to 4 quarts of water or chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Carefully drop in 8-12 wontons, decrease the heat to medium-low to maintain a lively simmer, and cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes.

To serve, place 2 or 3 wontons in the bottom of 4 small soup bowls, ladle a 1/2 cup or so of the broth over the wontons, and garnish with a sprinkle of sliced green onions. (I put in about 8, this was dinner for my hungry family!)

Delicious Beijing Wontons in Rich Broth for Souper Sunday.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Every Good Bread Deserves Cheese

After my failure to make mozzarella last month, I chose an herbed goat's cheese for this month's foray into cheese-making. I would call this one a qualified success, I feel that I lost a fair amount of cream but I did get two nice moulds of cheese for my efforts and likely broke even money-wise. (If I had been thinking at the time, I would have saved the run-off cream for a wonderfully fragrant Alfredo!)
The scent and taste of the cheese is amazingly floral and herbal. The basil dominates over the other herbs, it being one of my favourite flavours of summer, and the cheese is light and delicate like milky clouds.
I used my coeur a la creme moulds to make the cheese and they worked out just fine.
My cheese making partner did not have success with this one, but then again she did well with the mozza. Cheese is a fickle art to learn, we have discovered, but we are having fun anyway!

Herbed Goat Cheese
The Home Creamery, Kathy Farrell-Kingsley

2 cups whole goat's milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 sprig parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 tsp liquid rennet
1/4 cup cool water (55-60F)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Pour the milk and cream into a large pot. Stir in the yogurt, basil, parsley, and thyme, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Really low, I think I let mine get too hot)

2. Pour the mixture through a strainer, discard the herbs an return the milk mixture to the pot. Bring the mixture to 100F. (Mine was already over this, too hot) Check the temperature with a thermometer.

3. In a small cup, dissolve the rennet in the water. Add this mixture to the milk and stir for 30 seconds. Remove the pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 2 hours longer to form curds. (I didn't end up with much in the way of curds, more like yogurt/ricotta)

4. Cut the curds into 1-inch cubes and gently stir. Pour or spoon the curds carefully into a butter muslin-lined colander set over a large bowl and let drain about 1 hour. Turn the cheese out into a medium bowl and stir in the salt. (I use cotton weave napkins for straining)

5. Line 1-cup cheese moulds with butter muslin. Fill moulds with cheese, fold cloth over top, and place a weight on each, such as a plate and a can (a total of about 2 pounds). Refrigerate under the weight overnight or up to 2 days.

6. To serve, unmould cheese and remove butter muslin. Cheese will keep up to 1 week, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.

*You can roll the cheese in cracked black peppercorns or dried herbs if you wish.

Monday, 24 August 2009

BBB - Russian Black Bread

At last this gal with a Russian name gets to bake Russian bread!
This month Gorel of Grain Doe has put together a dark and brooding loaf full of fabulous flavour. It is rough and rustic and wonderful with gravlax, cream cheese, or these hammie sammies below. We ate this bread for days and it only seemed to get better with time.
Check out Gorel's site for step by step directions, and to find out how you can bake along this month and earn yourself a Bread Baking Buddy badge.

Black Bread – intermediate style
by Gorel, Grain Doe (notes Gorel's)

Medium rye flour 300 g (10,6 oz)
Water 350 ml (1,5 cup)
Active sourdough culture* 2 Tbsp

Old bread**, toasted 100 g/3,5 oz
Coffee, ground 15 g/0,5 oz
Vegetable, neutral oil 25 g/0,9 oz
Molasses 60 ml/1/4 cup
Caraway seeds 2 tsp
Fennel seeds 1 tsp
Minced shallots 1 Tbsp
Water, hot 400 ml/1 2/3 cup

Medium rye flour 300 g/10,6 oz
High gluten bread flour 400 g/14,1 oz
Salt 20 g/0,7 oz (appr. 1 Tbsp)
Fresh: 15 g/0,5 oz OR Instant dry: 1,5 tsp (0,17 oz)
Soaker - All of the above
Sourdough - All of the above

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, I think you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0,5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.
** I used rye sourdough bread, but I guess any old unsweetened bread will do, or any old bread in general.

Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.

Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.

Final dough
Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.

If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it.
Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.
Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.
Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.

Shaping and proofing
Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.
Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.
Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)

Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F.
Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container.
Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F.
Let the loaves cool down before you slice them. Eat with butter and maybe some sharp cheese, or why not cured salmon.
This bread has been Yeastspotted!
The Bread Baking Babes - check out how they fared with this bread!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

Go ahead and press play. This post is for the dogs.

Oh yes, sing along, you know you want to!

I'd like to introduce you to some of my favourite neighbours. Of the canine persuasion of course!

Bird is a country sort of dog, he lives for the weekends when he can spend his time swimming and running around in the woods. He is rather proud of his golden coat.

Rosie is an enthusiastic kisser and loves to entertain visitors on her front deck. She has excellent hearing, as you might imagine.

Bear fancies himself a diminutive guard dog and is currently trying to organize a neighbourhood watch program for our block.

Precious lives to lift the spirits of those around her, she believes there are very few problems that can't be solved with kisses.
For these great doggies, and my own, I made homemade doggie treats. These are all natural and as such should be used up within a couple of weeks or up to 30 days. The recipe makes enough to share, but ask about allergies before gifting them to any of your canine friends.

Dog Treat Recipe – Peanut Butter Cookies
From Better Food for Dogs

NB:This recipe is for doggie treats. It should not constitute the primary diet of your dog, and is not suitable for cats.

Makes about 1 lb (500 g) of cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
- Nonstick baking sheets
- Rolling pin
- Pizza cutter

1 cup +1 tbsp water
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1. In a large bowl, whisk together water, peanut butter, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and cornmeal until well incorporated.
2. In the bowl and using hands, knead until dough holds together. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness.
3. With a fork, poke holes all over the surface of the dough. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut dough into bite-size rectangles or squares. Place about 1/2 inch (1 cm) apart on baking sheets.
4. Bake in preheated oven, in batches if necessary, for 18 minutes or until firm. Place pans on racks and let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F (150 C). Bake for 20 minutes longer or until hard. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 30 days.
On another doggie subject, I was given the opportunity to try K9 Klear Up. It is an all-natural dog balm for relief of hot spots, flea and mosquito bites, eczema, skin rashes and all sorts of irritating doggie conditions.
The balm contains only six ingredients, all of them natural; Shea butter, Tepezcohuite,Vegetable emulsifier, Aloe Vera, Caprylyl Glycol, and Sorbic Acid.
I thought I would be sitting on this review for a long time as I have never had to deal with any of these skin problems before, but low and behold Merlin got an ear problem. Such an accommodating doggie!
In addition to the cleaning and care for his ear, I did find that the balm was very soothing and aided in the speedy relief of his itchy and pained ear. I am very happy with the balm, especially as it is all natural, the only drawback for me is the price. I find it rather expensive, but that's just me. A poor blogger! They do offer a money back guarantee though, so that's nice.
K9 Klear Up is available in Canada and the US. Please check their website for more information.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Tyler's Watermelon Gazpacho

I am on a cold soup kick this summer. I don't even know if I had ever had one before this year but I seem to be making them regularly lately. A soup you can make in a blender, what can be better than that?
This gazpacho is lighter and a little sweeter with the addition of watermelon. I found it very refreshing. Perfect for a hot summer day.
Watermelon Gazpacho for Tyler Florence Fridays and Souper Sunday.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Tyler Florence, Tyler's Ultimate, Food Network

1 large tomato, pureed
1/2 serrano chile (I used jalapeno)
2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 cucumber, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish (I used parsley and garnished with chives)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chile, and 1/2 of the watermelon. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse. Add the onion, cucumber and dill and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with dill, feta, and remaining watermelon. Serve.

The soup went great with the Corn Bread (Muffins) from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I used leftover ham instead of bacon, and we grilled the corn before slicing off the kernels and baking with them. Yum! Click here for the recipe.

Join us for Tyler Florence Fridays!
Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Julia Child's Salade a la D'Argenson

Finding myself with some nice leftover rice and a big basket of fresh beets, I decided it was the perfect time to try Julia Child's Salade a la D'Argenson, or Rice and Beet Salad. This salad can also be made with warm potatoes, but I think it is a great way to use up rice. The beets make for a brilliant pinky-red colour, and I pressed the salad in a baking mould for a charming presentation. Ok, I know it looks just a little bit like a giant hamburger in the pictures, but it was very tasty indeed.
I chose to use the canned tuna and shredded carrots for the additions, and tarragon in my Mayonnaise aux Fines Herbes . Don't be tempted to use only your finest olive oil in the mayo, it will be too strong. Mix it with a more neutral yet high quality oil. The food processor method turned out perfectly for me. Thanks Julia!
Salade a la D'Argenson
Rice or Potato and Beet Salad
Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking

When rice or potatoes are marinated with beets in a vinaigrette for a sufficient amount of time, the whole mass becomes beet-coloured. Then it can be tossed in an herbal mayonnaise, and all sorts of cooked vegetables, meat, or fish leftovers can be mixed in to it to make a nourishing hors d'oeuvre, a main course dish, or an attractive addition to a picnic.

2 cups boiled rice OR 2 cups of warm boiled potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups diced cooked or canned beets (I roasted mine whole and then peeled and large diced them)
4 tbsp minced shallots or green onions (I used shallots)
A 2 quart bowl
3/4 cup vinaigrette* see below for recipe
1 1/2 to 2 cups mayonnaise with green herbs** see below for recipe
Salt and pepper
1 cup, one or a mixture of the following: Cooked green peas, or cooked and diced green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, turnips, or asparagus; diced cooked beef, pork, poultry, or fish; flaked canned tuna or salmon; diced raw apples; grated raw carrots; walnuts
A salad bowl
Decorate with any or all of the following: Green or black olives, anchovies, sliced hard-boiled eggs, water cress or parsley sprigs.

Toss the rice or potatoes, beets, and shallots or onions in a bowl with the vinaigrette. Season to taste. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 12, preferably 24 hours.
Shortly before serving, fold in the mayonnaise and other ingredients. Season carefully. Arrange the salad in the bowl and decorate with the suggestions listed.
Sauce Vinaigrette - makes about 1/2 cup, so multiply for the above recipe.
1/2 to 2 tbsp good wine vinegar or a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
Optional: 1/4 tsp dry mustard
6 tbsp salad oil or olive oil
Big pinch of pepper
Optional: 1 to 2 tbsp minced green herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, basil; or a pinch of dried herbs.

Either beat the vinegar or lemon juice in a bowl with the salt and optional mustard until the salt is dissolved, then beat in the oil by droplets, and season with pepper, or place all ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds to blend thoroughly.
Stir in the optional herbs and correct seasoning just before dressing the salad.

Mayonnaise - food processor method (you will have leftovers)

1 egg and 2 yolks
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh lemon juice and/or wine vinegar
2 cups best quality oil
More salt, pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar as needed

Process the egg and yolks for 1 minute.
With the machine running, add the mustard, salt, and 1 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar.
With the machine still running, start adding the oil in a stream of droplets, continuing until you have used half the oil and the sauce is very thick - do not stop processing until sauce has thickened. Thin out with lemon juice or vinegar, then continue with the oil. Season carefully with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar.

For Mayonnaise aux Fines Herbes - stir in 3 to 4 tbsp minced green herbs, such as tarragon, basil, chervil, chives, parsley, or oregano to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Herbed Mushroom Pate

This is a quick and easy appetizer for your next get-together that is so versatile. Garden herbs complement the woodsy mushrooms while cream cheese makes it smooth and spreadable. Use the leftovers for some amazing cheesesteaks.
I made the pate according to the recipe, just increasing the herbs a bit. They do have to be fresh for this recipe - don't use the jarred stuff.
Herbed Mushroom Pate
LCBO Food and Drink Magazine, Summer 2009

This vegetarian pate improves even more after a couple of days in the refrigerator so make it ahead to have on hand for appetizers throughout a long weekend. Along with grilled flatbread or crackers, serve some marinated artichokes, grilled sweet peppers and pickles for a satisfying antipasto platter.

2 tbsp butter
1 lb cremini and /or button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 brick cream cheese, 250g, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh savoury or thyme (I used both)
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Grilled soft flatbreads, crisp flatbreads or crackers

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and onion and saute for about 8 minutes until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms are browned. Add wine and cook, stirring up brown bits, until evaporated. Let cool slightly.

2. Place in a food processor with cream cheese, salt and pepper, and puree until smooth. Check seasoning and stir in savoury and rosemary. Pack into a pate crock or ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, up to 5 days.

3. To serve, let pate stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Serve with flatbreads or crackers.
I know, it looks just a little like Fancy Feast. But I guarantee you it is delicious!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins

I am of the belief that blueberry is the finest of muffins. Muffins can be sneaky though, the ones you get at the local cafe might as well be cake. As delicious as they are, they are by no means healthy. These muffins are healthy and delicious. So go ahead, have two.

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (A wonderful book full of whole grain recipes)
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ
3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375F.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Wash and drain the berries. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup flour and let them sit while you prepare the batter.
Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the wheat germ.
Beat the oil and sugar and egg until smooth. Add the milk and dry ingredients, stirring just enough to mix somewhat, and then fold in the berries. Spoon into muffin cups - fill them nearly full - and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean.