Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pierogi

Pierogi 




Sausage Cheese and Potato Filling:

Ingredients:

1-2 Potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 Spicy Italian Sausages (or a flavor of your choice, sun dried tomato is also quite yummy)
About 1/2-3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar
2-3 Green onion stalks, sliced

Instructions:

Cook the sausage and break it up or throw it in your food processor and pulse a couple times. In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, broken up sausage, cheese and green onions. Mix well and set aside in the fridge until your dough is ready.

Pierogi Dough

Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Sour cream
1/4 Cup Butter, room temperature not melted

Other Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Small onion, diced

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour and the salt. Blend the soft butter into the flour and salt mixture until it begins to resemble fine grains of sand, and is even in texture. Add the sour cream and beaten egg, mix until combined but do not over mix. Knead gently until dough isn't sticky adding a little extra flour if needed.

Cover the dough and let it rest 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, set a large pot of water on the stove, salt the water and bring it to a rolling boil.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8th inch thick. Cut with a circle cutter, I used a three inch diameter cookie cutter.

Fill the circle, fold it in half so you have a half moon shape, and seal the edges together by dipping a finger in a bowl of water, running the water around the edge of the dough and pressing the seal firmly together with your fingers. Roll, cut and and fill until all the dough is used up, or your run out of filling.

Drop the filled Pierogi into the boiling water. When they float to the top they are cooked. Remove the floating Pierogi from the pot with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack which is over a tea towel to drain the water off them. Repeat until all Pierogi are cooked.

Now you can either go on to finish them, or you can freeze them at this stage to cook/reheat with the final steps after this point.

In a large skillet melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and once gently browned add the onions. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes. then add the Pierogi. Stir fry cook the Pierogi until they are golden brown on the outside, and warm in the middle.

Serve with sour cream, or go back to the top to hear about the Polish Nachos. . .

Enjoy!

Notes:

So I made these some time back in February maybe (?) and have been carting the recipe around with me in my cell phone. I am fairly prone to losing my cell phone, or having it die in an unfortunate accident caused mostly by me not paying attention. . . More than one cell phone has met its end in the washing machine, along with countless lip balms. But oh well! Can't be perfect all the time is what I always say. So in an effort to not lose this recipe like I have countless others, let us do the smart thing and write it down here, and of course share!

Also I am not of Polish decent or anything close to that and I didn't really grow up with them ever being around. But I discovered that they are basically dough pockets stuffed with potato, cheese and sausage or pork or bacon or whatever. Which are some of my favorite things to eat and thus I decided that I probably would very much like to have some.

I was right, I found a really easy dough recipe that cooks up beautifully and I did kind of just go with my heart song for what the filling should be. Google Tells me my method (after doing some more Pierogi research) is a pretty traditional one, except for the filling and the unholy deliciously sinful dish I called Polish Nachos. Which was the following Pierogi recipe, then served on a plate with cheese, green onions, and bacon served on top with sour cream for dipping. So good, but not something I would suggest eating all the time unless you want a heart attack. . .

All good things in moderation. . .

Home Made Pasta

Home Made Pasta

Ingredients:

1 Cup Semolina Flour
1 Cup Flour
3 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Teaspoon salt

Special Tools:

Large Bowl
Pasta Roller, highly recommended

Instructions:

In a large bowl sift together the flour, semolina flour, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Add the oil and the eggs to the well.

Carefully begin to incorporate everything together until you have one, not sticky dough ball.

Knead the ball until it is smooth, keeps it shape and isn't sticky. If the dough remains sticky it really wont do what it is supposed to do later.

Roll the Dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This is a process called "resting" it is important. Do not skip it.

After the dough has rested begin the process of rolling the dough out thin. Then fold it in half and roll it again. Then fold it in half again and roll it, and then just for good measure do it one more time. This time rolling the dough out to be as thin as you want your final pasta to be.

Cut the pasta as desired.

To cook the fresh pasta simply bring a pot of salted water with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in to to a rolling boil. Add the pasta being careful not to over crowd the pot. and when the noodles float back up to the top, which only takes a minute they are done!

Enjoy!

Notes:

Simple and easy and totally impresses dinner guests. However I tried this recipe without having a pasta roller and I found it very very difficult to get an even texture in my pasta, nor did I feel like I could get it thin enough. But maybe I just don't have enough patience to roll it as much as I needed to by hand.
So if you want to give this a try I might try just making ravioli the first time, and being real patient when rolling out the dough. you need to roll it out really flat. Fold it in half, and roll it flat again and repeat at least 2 more times. This process is laminating the dough and it will help to keep the dough from shrinking back after you roll it out and cut it.

Also the unusual ingredient in this recipe is Semolina flour, Bilk Barn has it, though it took me a while to find it because it was with all the baking things, not the other flours/starches.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy and tastes extra yummy. This recipe calls for about half a kilogram of icing sugar, but that is because I planned to use this frosting with cake decorating tips and needed a stiffer frosting so it would hold it's shape. There really aren't hard and fast rules for me when I make frosting, basically just keep adding icing sugar until it tastes and feels right to you. But here is a guideline.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

About 1/2 Kilogram of icing sugar
About 1/4 Cup of cream cheese
About 1/4 Cup milk
1 Teaspoon Almond extract

Instructions:

In a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer beat the cream cheese for a minute until soft. Add about 1 cup of icing sugar, the milk, and almond extract. Mix well.

Continue to add icing sugar until the right taste and texture of frosting is achieved.

Use right away, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to about a week.

Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!


With Brains! Brains! Brains!

And some gore!


Frankenstein Cupcakes! 

Avocado Pound Cake cupcakes, so they are slightly green in a natural way (I used my recipe for Avocado Loaf), and then just divided the batter into cupcakes, and baked for about 23 minutes. or between 18 and 25 minutes at 325°F.

Plus Cream Cheese Frosting Brains!

And Raspberry Sauce blood in the middle!

The Frankenstein cupcake wrappers are from Bulk Barns holiday decorating things.

Festive, creative and yummy!

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan 

Ingredients:


2 Chicken breasts, pounded flat and even
1/2 Cup Bread crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion powder

1/4 Cup milk
2 Eggs

About 1 Cup of vegetable pasta sauce (A pomodoro Sauce)

About 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions:

In a medium bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Basil, Oregano, salt, pepper. parsley, garlic and onion powder together. Stir to mix and set aside.


Preheat oven to 375°F

In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and eggs, set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the chicken breasts into the egg and milk mixture and turn to coat on all sides. 

Dredge the chicken breast in the cheese and bread crumb mixture, pressing it into the crumbs to get a nice coating, and making sure its evenly covered on all sides.

Place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second chicken breast, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer says its good to go.

While the chicken is cooking, shred the mozzarella, and warm up the pasta sauce you are using either in a small pot or in the microwave.

When the chicken is just cooked, remove the pan from the oven. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the chicken breasts, and top with cheese and some parsley if you like. Return pan to oven and bake for about 5 minutes more, or until cheese has melted.

Let the chicken stand on the pan about 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a nice salad and bread.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Since not everyone is into a casserole, I will also leave my recipe for just making chicken Parmesan breasts. Simple recipe, but I've adapted it to be baked which cuts down a bit on added fat. However I have also fried the breasts in a little bit of olive oil and it is pretty much divine. Up to you how you cook them, I am going to leave the baked instructions in the recipe, but if you want to try frying them I suggest doing it with a medium hot skillet, olive oil and cooking about 6-7 minutes a side. Then Test with a meat thermometer to be safe.

Once again you can use a jar of sauce or make your own. I use this Rustic Bolognese Italian Pasta Sauce, recipe and just omit the meat from the recipe. So I get a rich hearty vegetable sauce.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Ingredients:

2 Chicken breasts, pounded flat and even
1/2 Cup Bread crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion powder

1/4 Cup milk
2 Eggs

About 3-4 Cups of vegetable pasta sauce (A pomodoro Sauce)

About 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

About 10 lasagna noodles

Instructions:

In a medium bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Basil, Oregano, salt, pepper. parsley, garlic and onion powder together. Stir to mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F

In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and eggs, set aside.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the chicken breasts into even strips. Like you were going to make home made chicken strips basically.

Place the cut chicken pieces into the egg and milk bath, stir to coat.

Working with one piece of chicken at a time remove it from the egg bath and press it into the seasoned bread crumb and cheese mixture. Coating on all sides evenly. Place the coated chicken strip on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with all pieces of chicken.

Bake the chicken for about 25-30 minutes until chicken is just cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles until just done. Remove cooked noodles from water and let stand a moment to cool.

Once the chicken strips are cooked remove them from the oven.

In a medium sized shallow casserole, spoon a small amount of sauce and coat the bottom of the casserole dish. Next prepare the chicken-roll ups. Working with one noodle and one chicken strip at a time, roll the lasagna noodle around the chicken strip and place in the casserole dish. I tried to put the ends of the noodles towards the bottom so it looked pretty. Repeat rolling with all chicken strips and fill the casserole dish with the chicken parm roll ups.

Ladle more sauce over the tops of all the roll ups until they are all coated with sauce. Add more sauce if you want, or less up to you.

Spread the shredded cheese over the top of the casserole and bake for about 25 minutes at 375°F.

let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serve about 3 roll ups per person, and have Caesar salad and garlic bread as a side for a lovely meal.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Decided to get adventurous tonight with dinner, and experiment making home made pasta. I don't have a pasta roller however and thought that my heavy marble rolling pin would get the job done.

Lessons learned: a pasta roller is key for a nice even texture, and to get the pasta thin enough. But making pasta dough is pretty simple. However I think I will ask for a pasta rolling attachment for the stand mixer before I attempt home made pasta again. So for this recipe we are just going to use some premade lasagna noodles.

I also made my own pasta sauce basically by following my recipe for Rustic Bolognese Italian Pasta Sauce, and just not using any meat. So start by heating up a large pot over medium heat, add some olive oil and fry a minced onion and about 3 garlic cloves together. Add the rest of the minced vegetables you wish to use, I like peppers, carrots and celery in mine. Add a can of tomato sauce, can of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. Add the herbs and spices, simmer and done!

Are these eggs fresh?

Ever question if those eggs you've had kicking around for a bit are still good to use? Wouldn't it be great if you could figure out of the egg was good to go or toss without cracking it and risking filling your home with a lovely rotten egg sulfur smell. Well now you can!

Fill a glass or bowl with water. Gently place egg in water, if it floats the egg has gone off, if it lays on the bottom of the container on its side or bottom then it is still good to use! Floaters should be thrown out.

I tested this on some eggs today, works well and is easy. Plus it was helpful as the best before date on my current pack of eggs wasn't very clear, and I wasn't sure if they were good or how close they were to being less than ideal.

Also I miss Nova Scotia, they had the date printed on each egg there, so there wasn't ever a mystery.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Souvlaki

Souvlaki 

Ingredients:

3-4 Boneless pork chops (or chicken pieces, I like thighs. . .)
1 White or red onion
2 Tablespoons oregano
2 Tablespoons basil
2-3 Cloves garlic
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

Special Tools:
Kabob sticks

Instructions:

In a medium sized container with a lid, add the oregano, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Dice the onion and the garlic and add to the marinade base. Mix well.

Cut the pork into 1 inch square pieces and add to the marinade. Stir to coat the pork completely.

Cover the marinade and put it in the fridge overnight, turning the pork occasionally so it is evenly coated.

The next day. . . 

Remove the pork from the marinade and string it onto kabob sticks. If desired you can also string some diced bell peppers and onions with the pork on the kabobs.

Grill or bake the kabobs over a medium heat (About 375°F) until cooked through. I usually give it about 20 minutes in the oven, or 6-8 minutes a side on a grill. Check with a meat thermometer to be safe!

Enjoy!

Notes:

Alrighty, so I was recently asked if I had any recipes for pork stir-fry, and sad truth is I totally don't have a single one. I have mentioned this before I didn't grow up eating much stir-fry, and I honestly don't think to make it overly often. Plus I always feel like I could do something a bit more exciting with pork.

But I like to try and make the world a happier place so here is one recipe that I use to make Pork Souvlaki Kabobs. Its a pretty simple recipe, with only a could ingredients. The key is to let it marinade at least overnight so the flavor goes right through the pork. Then I either grill it on my BBQ until done, or sometimes like when it's rainy out I will just place the Kabobs over my roasting pan and bake them in the oven. That way its like a stir fry in that it has vegetables, and is quick to throw together.

Also just so we are honest here, I always always always use my meat thermometer when I cook pork, I hate over cooked pork, but under cooked pork is never a good idea either. I suggest you do the same.

So Make the marinade and cut the pork up the night before, let it chill out in the fridge over night, string it on a kabob with some peppers and onions and grill or bake till done! Serve with rice or a spinach salad. And BAM we got a week night super ready to go in about 30 minutes!

So I am going to list this out like I was making pork souvlaki, but if you wanted you could switch the pork for chicken and still have excellent results.

This is also one of the recipes I used to land my soon to be husband. Just saying. . .

Friday, 18 October 2013

Stuffed Tomato Thirds

Because 1/3 a tomato is a perfect little bite! These are savagely wonderful, made them to go with the breaded pork recipe I just posted from last night, and they were so good I made them again for tonight's supper! Always a good sign when you want to make more right away.

Another bonus is how simple this recipe is, but with big results. Do the prep-work for these before your friends come over, pop them under the broiler for about 8-10 minutes and serve hot! I love a good easy snack.

Stuffed Tomato Thirds

Ingredients:

2 Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
1/2 Cup Asiago cheese (or Parmesan or Romano)
1/4 Cup soft cheese, like mozzarella or Havarti
1/4 Cup Panko bread crumb
2 Tablespoons Parsley

Tin Foil

Instructions:

To prepare the Tomatoes, cut them into thirds from the stem down to the bottom. Basically place the tomato with its "navel" from the vine at the top, look down and cut a peace sign into the tomato to get thirds. Or you could always do slices or halves as well.

Once the tomatoes are sliced, use your hands and mush out all the watery pulpy bits and seeds, so all that is left is a nice firm tomato piece.

Sprinkle salt over the insides of all the tomato pieces and let it sit about 5 minutes. Use this time to make the stuffing.

In a small bowl combine the cheeses, bread crumbs and parsley. Season with some salt and pepper and stir to combine. Feel free to add some extra seasonings as well.

Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and stuff each one with about a tablespoon of the stuffing mixture.

Place prepared tomatoes on a tin foil covered pan.

Turn the oven onto Broil, and pop the pan in the oven for between 5-10 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the tomatoes are warm and roasted.

Enjoy!

PS: December 2013, I should mention that I usually use Roma or Plum tomatoes for this recipe. They have the least amount of pulpy watery bits and cook nicely. Not all tomatoes are made equal after all.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Italian Breaded Pork Chops with Tart Apple Sauce

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

Ingredients:

4 Thin Pork Chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons milk
About 1/2 Cup flour
1 Cup bread crumbs
1/2 Cup shredded Asiago Cheese (or Parmesan, or Romano)
2 Tablespoons Parsley
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/2 Tablespoon Oregano
1/2 Tablespoon Basil
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Heat up a skillet or a cast iron skillet, and oil the pan for frying. Over a low medium heat level works well. While the pan heats up prepare the breaded pork assembly line!

Take the pork chops out of the fridge and let warm to room temperature for about 20 minutes. Use this time to set up the breading stations.

In a medium bowl combine the milk and eggs, whisk slightly. Set aside

In another medium bowl combine the bread crumbs, shredded cheese, parsley, minced garlic, oregano, and basil. Set aside

Pour the flour onto a small plate, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Take the pork cutlets one at a time and first dredge the pork chop in the flour. Next dip in the egg and milk mixture. Then Press each side of the pork cutlet into the bread crumb mixture and carefully place in the frying pan. Repeat with each pork cutlet until they are all in the pan.

Fry for about 5 minutes on each side and then if using cast iron, move the whole pan to the oven, or if using skillet that isn't oven safe transfer the pork cutlets to a pan and roast until done, testing with a meat thermometer. Mine took about 15 minutes, but could take up to 25+ minutes. Depends on how thick the pork chop is and ovens vary and all that.

Enjoy!

Tart Apple Sauce




Ingredients:

1-2 Tart Apples like Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Honeycrisp
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Clove
1/2 Tablespoon Red wine vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Crasins to garnish* Optional

Instructions:

In a small pot over medium heat combine the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, clove, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Dice the apple into small cubes and add to the pot. Let come to a simmer and reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes and then smash the apples with a potato masher and the apple sauce is ready.

I served mine warm with the pork chops and some crasins on top to be fancy.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Served this one up for supper last night and it was fantastic! Thin pork cutlets breaded in cheese and panko crumbs, gently fried and roasted to perfection!

I served mine with some apple sauce on the side, because it's fall, and I am Nova Scotian and that means I need to use apples in almost every meal this time of year. plus the crunchy bread-cheese coating on the pork was made to be paired with some sweet apple sauce. This apple sauce is delicious as a snack on its own, but I cut mine with a bit of red wine vinegar and lemon juice to take away some of the sweetness so it would pair better with the pork. I also went super fancy and threw a couple crasins on top of the apple sauce when I served it. Simple and awesome. Couldn't be better for a fall supper.

I also served my pork with some Stuffed Tomato Thirds, and Baked Taters, to round this meal off.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread

Spiced Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread

Ingredients:

Bread

2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Brown sugar
2 1/2 Teaspoons yeast
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Cup Flour
Vegetable oil
Cooking spray

Filling 

1 Cup Brown sugar
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoons nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Butter

Spice Glaze

3 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoons Icing sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Clove
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
3/4 Teaspoons Cinnamon

Instructions:

In a small pot melt and brown the butter over medium heat. Keep a careful eye on the butter as it does not take very long for the butter to melt, then to brown and then to burn. No one has time for burned butter!

Once the butter has browned add the milk and the 1/4 cup of brown sugar and scald the milk. Scalding means we bring it to just before boiling temperature. It should be steamy and hot to the touch but not bubbling. Once the milk, sugar and butter have been scalded, set aside for 10 minutes to cool to workable temperatures.

While the scaled milk mixture cools, sift together the flour and the salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

When the scaled milk has cooled and is at a just warm temperature, sprinkle the yeast over the top and stir once. Cover with a clean towel and set to rise for 10-15 minutes. If after 10 minutes we don't have some frothy beautifully proofed yeast then start again. Your yeast is dead and no good can come from dead yeast.

Once your yeast has proofed stir in the pumpkin puree and stir gently. Add the flour and salt mixture a little bit at a time and stir to incorporate. Once a workable dough has formed, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 8 minutes until a smooth elastic dough has formed. Grease the dough ball on the outside with some vegetable oil (It's like bio-oil for a pregnant lady, grease that ball/belly up so it can grow!). Set the greased dough ball in a bowl and cover with a clean towel and set to rise for about an hour until double in size

While the dough is doing it's thing, prepare the filling. In a small pot melt an brown 2 Tablespoons of butter, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir well to evenly combine. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, make a fist and punch it down in the center and turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Spread the brown butter-sugar filling evenly over the entire surface of the dough.

Next life gets a bit complicated, so stick with me!

First Cut the dough into strips lengthwise that are about 2 inches wide.


Next cut the long strips, unevenly, into smaller little rectangles. We want some to be longer than others and some to be pretty short. Trust me it looks super cool at the end.


Poorly illustrated but you get the idea, this part is just to make the "building blocks" for our pretty loaf. We don't want them to be the same size so we get a nice textured loaf at the end, and it will pull apart easier.

Spray a wide loaf pan with cooking oil and begin to assemble the loaf. Carefully pick up 4 or 5 of the cut rectangles keeping the sugar on top and plain dough on the bottom, layer the cut rectangles on top of each other and carefully place this "block" of dough in the back of the pan. Repeat process with all the dough rectangles and fill the loaf pan. I found I really had to wedge my last block into the pan to get it to fit.

So below is a rough sketch of what is happening, layer the cut rectangles as "building blocks" by keeping the plain dough side to the bottom and the brown sugar on top, and then placing the "building block" into the loaf pan, once again keeping the plain dough end towards the back of the loaf pan and keeping the brown sugar in the middles.  The loaf diagram is to illustrate that we want pieces going in all directions and being even with it isn't the goal.


Once your loaf is assembled, cover with a clean tea towel and let it rise again for about 15-20 minutes.

In the mean time preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare the spice glaze.

Remove the cream cheese from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.

Once the loaf as risen again, Bake it for between 35-45 minutes. Once baked let the loaf sit in the pan like a happy camper for about 10 minutes before moving the loaf to a cooling rack.

Let the loaf cool before glazing.

To glaze the loaf, fill either a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the glaze and drizzle in a zig-zag pattern over the top of the loaf. 

The loaf is now ready to eat! Grab a piece and pull it apart and enjoy!

Enjoy!

Notes:

This is under fruits, because pumpkin is a fruit according to traditional botany. Fruits are the part of a plant which develop from a flower and have the seeds inside of them. So things like avocado, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, are all fruits. Things like the leaves, stem or root are vegetables which include celery, the stalk of the plant, parsnip a root, cabbage, the leaves, broccoli and cauliflower are also vegetables as they are considered a bud. So now we understand some basic botany and can tell all our friends the difference between a fruit and vegetable! Yay for knowledge because knowledge is power!

Also, yeast is a living organism, a small one and a useful one. But like all living things it has things it enjoys and things it doesn't and things that kill it. Yeasts obviously like sugars as that is what they use for energy to grow, yeast does not like salt as it burns it's cellular membrane and can kill it. Yeast also enjoys a warm water bath, but if the water is too hot yeast will die.  Liquids are at just the right temperature to make yeast happy when you can carefully place a washed finger in the liquid and the liquid doesn't feel wet or really much like anything. Meaning it is pretty much at the same temperature as your body. That is perfect!

Also I like to warm my oven by turning it on to 200C for 10 minutes when I start to bake, turning it off, and then using that just warmed space to set my dough to rise. Side bonus the oven is draft free!

So lets move on to some more knowledge, knowledge of how to make some amazing pull apart yummy bread!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Strawberry Short Cake

An easy crowd pleasing favorite!  This is a simple recipe handed down from my nanna that combines a good light extra sweet biscuit, with fresh whipping cream and fresh sliced strawberries. All considered to be Nova Scotian delicacies. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients:

3 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup milk

Whipped Cream

About 2 Cups fresh sliced strawberries, divided into 1 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup portions
1 Teaspoon lemon juice
3 Teaspoons brown sugar or honey

Icing sugar to garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F

In a large bowl or your stand mixer(whisk attachment) measure out the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, butter, and shortening and mix together until it looks like fine grains of sand and appears evenly mixed. Stop the stand mixer or whatever mixing method you are using once this consistancy is reached. I left it all unattended in the stand mixer once like a fool and things go very wrong. It will all clump back together and the biscuits simply will not be as good a texture. 

Remove bowl from the stand mixer and create a small well in the center of the bowl, pour all the milk in at once and using your hands mix until flour and milk are just combined. You'll likely get this wrong the first time and have tough biscuits. That is ok, getting the technique down for mixing the dough is where I always went wrong too. As I also mentioned over mixing leads to tough biscuits so be careful of that since you still need to roll the dough out. Once again, really seriously just mixed is what we want. 

On a floured surface gently turn and roll the dough out to be about 1 inch thick and use a biscuit cutter (or a clean empty can cut in half works well) to cut out the biscuits. 

Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10-14 minutes or till just golden. Check after 10 minutes regardless on the bottom of a biscuit near the center, if it is getting too dark adjust and finish baking the biscuits on a higher rack. Cool on baking racks for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the whipped cream according to the recipe, and prepare a smashed strawberry sauce.


To make the sauce take the 1/2 cup portion of the sliced strawberries and put them in a small pot with the lemon juice and sugar/honey and heat over medium heat while mashing with a potato masher. It will be a lumpy sauce, but heat until it bubbles slightly and remove from heat. Set aside. You can use a hand blender to get a smoother sauce.


To assemble the Short Cakes take a biscuit one at a time, slice in half, and place on a small serving plate. Place several strawberry slices on the bottom layer, drop a dollop of whipped cream on top, followed by the smashed strawberry sauce and replace the top layer of the biscuit. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve!


Enjoy!

Apple Crisp

It's fall in Nova Scotia! That means apples! Apples everywhere and in everything from meatballs to pies and squares. The most popular one growing up for me was of course the simple apple crisp. Easy to make, easy to eat, great with some whipped cream or ice cream.

Now there is a trick to making apple crisp and it comes down to apples. Not all apples are created equally. Typically a MacIntosh or pink lady apple is considered to be the best for baking because they stay a bit firmer when baked. Red delicious aren't great for baking as they can be a bit gritty when baked. Green apples are a bit more tart so they are a hit and miss apple for some, and yellow delicious are good for most baking recipes as well, especially in a meatball.

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

4-6 Apples
Lemon Juice
1 Cup brown sugar
2 Cups quick cook rolled oats
3/4 Cup Butter
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Teaspoon allspice
1/4 Teaspoon ground clove
Cooking spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F, and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Chop the apples and toss them with lemon juice to prevent excess browning before baking.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl, and then stir in the brown sugar, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves and stir well until evenly mixed.

Pour the apples into the casserole dish, and then evenly cover the top with the butter, sugar and oat mixture. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, serve warm with whipping cream or ice cream or just by it's sweet self.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Other Places:

Maybe something more exotic than Nova Scotia; Greek perhaps?

Souvlaki

Christmas Morning Egg Nests

Christmas Morning Egg Nests

Here are some Ham ones I made in 1/2 Loaf tins, right before I crack the egg on top to bake them.


Special Tools:

Four 4 inch in diameter ramekins that are oven safe. Slightly larger or slightly smaller will also work, but it needs to be a small vessel that is larger than a traditional muffin cup. If you happen to own a "muffin top only" style muffin pan it might also work well. Or I own a couple mini spring form pans that are seriously the best ever for this recipe,  the edges will spring off easily, and then all you need to do is lift the nest off the bottom.

Conversely you could prepare this as a more traditional casserole. I'll leave the instructions for what I would do if making it as a casserole and you can make your own choice how you want to make it.

Ingredients:

About 1 pound or 2 1/2 cups of frozen mini hash browns, thawed or small diced potatoes
2-3 Stalks green onion, sliced
Salt and Pepper
2 Egg whites
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
About 1 1/2 Cups shredded ham, bacon, sausage etc
4 whole eggs
about 1 cup shredded cheese, like cheddar, Swiss or your favorite cheese

Instructions:

Make Ahead!

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl combined the thawed hash browns or potatoes, egg whites, garlic, and onion powder together and season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced green onion and stir to mix evenly. Spray the ramekins with cooking spray and press the hash brown mixture into each ramekin, pushing it against the bottom and sides to make a little nest inside the ramekin. Bake the ramekins and hash browns for about 15 minutes, or 20 minutes if you used potatoes, until just slightly brown and set. Set aside.

Prepare the meat for the nests by either cooking and crumbling the bacon, cooking the sausage and crumbling, or shredding leftover Christmas ham. Divide the breakfast meat between the four ramekins and set aside again.

Shred the cheese and divide the cheese between the four ramekins, making sure the cheese goes right to the edge of the ramekin. Cover the ramekins and set in the fridge until 30 minutes before breakfast.

30 minutes before making breakfast, remove the ramekins from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove the plastic wrap from the ramekins and working one at a time crack a whole egg into the center of the nest. I personally am a TERRIBLE egg cracker, so I crack the eggs into a small bowl, check to make sure I did not get any shells in it, then pour the egg into the nests. But if you are a braver or better person than I am you can just go ahead and crack the egg over the top of the nests.

Once you have an egg cracked over each nest, season with salt and pepper and bake at 400°F for about 13-15 minutes, or until the eggs are set to your preferred done-ness level.

Serve hot from the oven either in the ramekin, or you can use a butter knife to loosen the nests around the edges of the ramekin and carefully lift the nests out.

Enjoy!

Make Right Now!

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl combined the thawed hash browns or potatoes, egg whites, garlic, and onion powder together and season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced green onion and stir to mix evenly. Spray the ramekins with cooking spray and press the hash brown mixture into each ramekin, pushing it against the bottom and sides to make a little nest inside the ramekin. Bake the ramekins and hash browns for about 15 minutes, or 20 minutes if you used potatoes, until just slightly brown and set.

While your nests are starting to cook, Prepare the meat for the nests by either cooking and crumbling the bacon, cooking the sausage and crumbling, or shredding leftover Christmas ham. Also shred the cheese you plan to use.

Once the hash brown nests are set, remove from oven and divide the breakfast meat between the four ramekins, and then the shredded cheese over the tops of the nests.

Working one at a time crack a whole egg into the center of the nest. I personally am a TERRIBLE egg cracker, so I crack the eggs into a small bowl, check to make sure I did not get any shells in it, then pour the egg into the nests. But if you are a braver or better person than I am you can just go ahead and crack the egg over the top of the nests.

Once you have an egg cracked over each nest, season with salt and pepper and bake at 400°F for about 13-15 minutes, or until the eggs are set to your preferred done-ness level.

Serve hot from the oven either in the ramekin, or you can use a butter knife to loosen the nests around the edges of the ramekin and carefully lift the nests out.

Enjoy!

Casserole Tips:

Follow the instructions above for either make ahead or make now, but instead of dividing everything between four ramekins, use one medium sized casserole dish, and crack an egg towards each corner or over the top. To serve simple slice and lift up out of the casserole dish.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Christmas in October! I am pretty much on department store time here, but there is a slight method to my madness, this time anyways. I had made these last Christmas, ten months ago for my soon to be mother-in-law for our Christmas morning breakfast. As it was tradition in my family for breakfast to be something that was prepared the day before so Christmas morning could be about family time for everyone, not family time for everyone but my mother while she scrambled in the kitchen to make something to feed us. So to encourage the blending of our two family traditions I said I have breakfast covered.

These little breakfast nests were delightful, I had seen a recipe for a similar breakfast next on pintrest a few times, and once in the Sobey's "Occasions" holiday book for 2012. But I am never happy to just trust in a recipe and so a few changes were made.

Now, I only started the blog in March 2013, so Christmas 2012 didn't quite make it on my list of recipes, and Miss Busy Bee has been using this blog for the selfish reason of keeping all my good recipes in one place. My system of loose leaf notes of recipes jammed underneath my stand mixer wasn't working for me anymore. So honestly I had lost this recipe and all my notes for it and was quite upset that I would have to try and wing it if I ever wanted them again. But I was a slightly better organizer than I had thought and I found all my  notes for Christmas Morning Egg Nests! Happy times! I made mine last Christmas with bacon and leftover shredded ham, but any shredded breakfast meat will be great in these.

So I'm going to write this one down in a slightly safer place now. Loose leaf didn't work for my notes in high school, not sure why I was convinced it was the best way to keep recipes I liked. But live and learn and try and do better is all one can do.


PS: You don't have to use meat in these at all, you could also make a vegetarian option by switching out the breakfast meat with mushrooms and diced bell peppers.

Simple Aioli and Variations

Aioli is pretty much nothing more than a fancy mayo with some extra flavor added. It is a pretty rocking condiment to add to any burger, with french fries, or with chips. Also if you watch the food network even a fraction as much as I do you have heard countless people talking about their Aioli recipe or all the magical things they make with it.

Aioli is a traditional Italian sauce with flavors of lemon and garlic, if you are also cared to know where it originated from, however because we live in a beautiful global village Aioli has evolved and now many different flavor profiles from different counties are called aioli.

Now to make a proper aioli you technically need to start by making your own mayonnaise by beating egg yolks together with olive oil. But really, a jar of mayo (not Miracle Whip if you can help it), is good enough, cheaper overall and easier. All good reasons to me!

So let's all get started making some aioli and maybe serving it with some Homemade Chips! I'll start with the basic recipe with traditional

Simple Aioli (Traditional flavor)

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mayo
1-2 Clove Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon (roughly) of Lemon juice

Instructions:

With a mortar and pestle, or with a sturdy spoon against the side of a small mixing bowl, smash the garlic and the salt together until a smooth even paste forms. In a small mixing bowl, or the same one you used to smash the garlic and salt, add the lemon juice and stir to soften the garlic paste. Add the mayo to the bowl and stir or whisk until evenly blended and you have a smooth mildly viscous sauce is formed.

Keep in an air tight container for up to a week in the fridge. Remove the Aioli from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving so it isn't too cold, Aioli is traditionally served at a near room-temperature.

Enjoy!


Mild Mustard Aioli

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mayo
1-2 Clove Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon (roughly) of Lemon juice
1 Tablespoon prepared Dijon Mustard sauce, or 2 Teaspoons dry ground mustard

Instructions:

With a mortar and pestle, or with a sturdy spoon against the side of a small mixing bowl, smash the garlic, the salt and the mustard together until a smooth even paste forms. In a small mixing bowl, or the same one you used to smash the garlic and salt, combine the lemon juice with the garlic paste and stir to soften the garlic paste. Add the mayo to the bowl and stir or whisk until evenly blended and you have a smooth mildly viscous sauce is formed.

Variation: Top the mild mustard aioli with some smoked paprika for a small addition of warm heat to the dip.

Keep in an air tight container for up to a week in the fridge. Remove the Aioli from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving so it isn't too cold, Aioli is traditionally served at a near room-temperature.

Enjoy!

Spicy Mustard Aioli

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mayo
1-2 Clove Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon (roughly) of Lemon juice
1 Tablespoon prepared Dijon Mustard sauce, or 2 Teaspoons dry ground mustard
1 Teaspoon smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

With a mortar and pestle, or with a sturdy spoon against the side of a small mixing bowl, smash the garlic, salt, mustard, paprika, red chili flakes and cayenne pepper together until a smooth even paste forms. In a small mixing bowl, or the same one you used to smash the garlic and salt, combine the lemon juice with the garlic paste and stir to soften the garlic paste. Add the mayo to the bowl and stir or whisk until evenly blended and you have a smooth mildly viscous sauce is formed.

Keep in an air tight container for up to a week in the fridge. Remove the Aioli from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving so it isn't too cold, Aioli is traditionally served at a near room-temperature.

Enjoy!

Red Pepper Aioli

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mayo
1-2 Clove Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon (roughly) of Lemon juice
1/2 of a small red pepper

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

Instructions:

Roast the red pepper half by coating it with olive oil, and roasting under broil in an oven close to the element for about 3-5 minutes a side, until edges are just turning black. You need to watch this very closely or else you fill your house with thick delicious smelling smoke, and the fire alarms going off. Which is nones the good. Once you have your roasted red pepper, set aside until cool.

In the mean time, prepare the Aioli. With a mortar and pestle, or with a sturdy spoon against the side of a small mixing bowl, smash the garlic, the salt and the mustard together until a smooth even paste forms. In a small mixing bowl, or the same one you used to smash the garlic and salt, combine the lemon juice with the garlic paste and stir to soften the garlic paste. Add the mayo to the bowl and stir or whisk until evenly blended and you have a smooth mildly viscous sauce is formed.

Finely mince or pulse with a food processor the red pepper half, and stir into the Aioli. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavor mingle for about an hour. Then remove the Aioli from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving so it isn't too cold, Aioli is traditionally served at a near room-temperature.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Don't call this real Aioli to a real Italian, because this is the cheater version. Tastes almost as good though. If you want you could make a proper mayonnaise from scratch but I rarely bother. . .

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Baked Veggie Dumplings

Baked Vegetable Dumplings

Ingredients:

1/3 Head small cabbage
2 Carrots
3/4 Cup fresh broccoli florets
1 Portobella mushroom, or 4-5 white/cremi mushroom
Salt and Pepper
1/4 Cup rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
Won ton wrappers
Cooking oil spray
Parchment paper

Special Tools:

Food Processor! I used the fine shred/grate blade and just fed all the vegetables through the top one type at a time starting with cabbage and adding to the wok as I went. Cabbage first so it cooks the longest, then carrots, then broccoli, the mushrooms go last.

Instructions:

Wash/peel/prepare all the vegetables as needed. Heat a large frying pan or wok, add the olive oil and sesame oil and heat again for about 3-5 minutes. Shred the cabbage, and add the cabbage to the wok and stir fry cook for about 2-3 minutes. Shred the carrots, add to the wok and stir fry with the cabbage for about 2 minutes. Shred the broccoli, add it to the wok and stir fry another 5 minutes. shred and add the mushrooms and stir fry cook about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and slowly and evenly add the rice vinegar all over the vegetable mixture. Stir fry cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cook about 1 minutes.

Add about 1 Tablespoon of vegetable mixture to a won ton wrapper, fold in half to make a triangle. Dip your finger in a small dish of water and run it along one half of the wrapper where the open sides meet, and press together to make a seam. Crimp edges slightly to make a better seal. Fold all the vegetable mixture into the won ton wrappers one at a time until done.

Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Transfer the prepared dumplings to the parchment and lightly mist the tops of the dumplings with cooking spray. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with dipping sauce and serve hot.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Several times a year I decide I wish to be extra ambitious in the kitchen and make something complicated. Awhile ago I made Chinese pork dumplings the traditional way, and served them to a Chinese born and raised co-worker. Brazen of me I know, but she said they were as good as her grandmothers so I took that as job well done and gave myself a pat on the back. However, making dumplings the traditional way, grinding pork loin, hand cutting each wrapper out, filling and folding it carefully so seams don't open, steaming and frying in small batches and then after about a day in the kitchen I had many beautiful dumplings. But goodness the work was a bit much. But I love eating dumplings so time to go simpler. Motto for October is K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid, because it is Halloween season and fiance and I love a good costume making marathon.

So to KISS some dumplings, baked won ton wrapper veggie dumplings! No delicious pork in them this time around, but I used some mushrooms and served them to my carnivore fiance and our friend at dinner and they loved them. Success.  I served them with Dumpling Sauce, and if you want a little extra spice add about 1/2-1 Teaspoon ginger to the dumpling sauce recipe I really loved the veggies with a little hint of ginger. I also added a couple green onion slices and sesame seeds to the sauce so it was pretty.

This recipe was mostly adapted from a weight watchers recipe, I don't diet but they had a whole category of won ton wrapper recipes that I kind of found interesting, several of the other ones in the list sounded half decent even. But their dumpling was going to be bland so I added some more vegetables and seasoning. I was serving mine with Orange Chicken and Chicken Chow Mein, but If you changed out the rice vinegar for a curry blend you could easily switch this from a Chinese dumpling to an Asian samosa, probably add about a tablespoon of curry blend to the veggies about 5 minutes before they are cooked and stir to coat evenly.