Category: Food

One Pot Kale and Pasta Dish

I love this pasta recipe – the original, from Cook’s Country, includes a pound of sausage and uses chicken stock in lieu of vegetable stock. The kale reminds me of brewing beer — how long the hops boils informs what type of fragrance / flavour it imparts in the beer. Added at the beginning and boiled for near sixty minutes, you get bittering flavors without aromas. Added near the end of the boil, you get aroma without bitters. Here you add some kale at the beginning of your ‘boil’ and reserve some kale to remain a little firmer.

I use a mise en place technique when cooking this recipe. Watch any TV chef and they’ve got pre-measured and pre-chopped ingredients in little bowls. When the recipe step says to sauté the onions, they dump the ready-to-go onion bits into the pan. This process speeds up filming – they aren’t paying three dozen people per hour to record the chef chopping an onion, dicing carrots, and measuring out six cups only to edit those bits out later. But professional chefs use a similar technique to organize the cooking process. It also makes the cooking process more relaxed – you aren’t trying to chop your kale while stirring to keep the onions from scorching.

Putting each component into its own little bowl like a TV chef looks cool but it makes a LOT of extra dishes! I have little piles of chopped veggies around the cutting board. Large volume components that aren’t dangerous uncooked (i.e. the kale here), I put in one of the bowls I’ll use to serve dinner. If my meal has a few flakes of uncooked kale and Anya has a few extra shreds of Parmesan cheese … not the end of the world. Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, remain in the strainer. Pasta bag opened but sitting upright on the counter.

Cook’s Country One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean – Vegetarian Modification

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 roasted garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian spices
6 cups vegetable stock
16 oz orecchiette
12 oz chopped kale
1 oz Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Method

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and beans and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and half of the kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add remaining kale on top of pasta, without stirring, and continue to cook until kale is just tender, about 4 more minutes.

3. Stir to incorporate kale into pasta. Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked, 4 to 8 more minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli cheddar soup is great on a cold winter day (especially when everyone’s coming down with a cold).

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet onion
3 cloves roasted garlic
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch hot pepper flakes
3 cups stock
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups shredded broccoli stems
1 cup shredded carrots
14 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

Dice onion. Melt 1t butter in a cast iron dutch oven (big, heavy pot) using medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Mush the garlic and add to cooked onions. Sauté for 30 seconds, then remove from pan.

Add remaining butter to pan and melt, then stir in flour and hot pepper flakes. Stirring constantly, cook a medium roux. Slowly stir in stock and milk. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

Return onion and garlic to the pot, add broccoli and carrots. Simmer for twenty minutes – broccoli should be cooked but not mushy. Slowly stir in cheddar and allow to melt.

This is good served alone, but it is amazing served in bread bowls!

Random tip – roast garlic and caramelized onions keep well in the freezer. Whenever you have almost dodgy onions or garlic (especially if you grow your own and have a big harvest that cannot be used quickly enough), cooking and freezing them is a great way to avoid food waste and have these ingredients available quickly (i.e. you’re not surfing the internet for bad tips on how to speed up caramelizing onions).

For roasted garlic – when you’re cooking something else, drizzle olive oil on the garlic, wrap in aluminium foil, and toss it in the oven along with whatever else you are cooking. You can even turn the oven off and let the garlic continue to roast as the oven cools off.

Caramelized onions aren’t quite as easy – probably need to dirty a new pan (although I’ve cooked onions for a dish and re-used the pan to caramelize a bunch of onions) and they need to be sliced (a food slicer makes a quick job of this step). Plus you need to give them a stir every now and then. But if you’re already standing at the cooktop making dinner … watching an extra pan isn’t a big effort.

Coconut Shrimp

I hate sweetened coconut shreds. I don’t know if it is the propylene glycol or sodium metabisulfite, but there is an odd chemical taste to the stuff. When I happened across a recipe for making coconut shrimp at home, I was hesitant to try it. A lot of flavors get lost in cooking – I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get citrus hop flavours to come through in beer battered fried fish, and purposed a terrible tasting six-pack from Rogue for fish and chips because none of the off flavours are present in the finished meal. But I didn’t want to chance enduring that strange sweetened coconut taste. But you can make your own sweetened coconut shreds. I happen to have big flakes of dried coconut, so the first step is to run them through the food processor long enough to have small flakes. Measure the small flakes – I had two cups. Take an equal volume of water (here’s where the measurement gets funky – I used the dry measuring cup for the water so I don’t mean “1 cup of water per cup of small coconut flakes” as properly measured). Boil the water in a large saute pan, then add sugar until no more dissolves. Then stir in the coconut flakes. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is absorbed/evaporated. Voila, sweetened coconut bits. Edible ones!

Put a cup of flour in a bowl, and add about 1/4 t each of salt and pepper.

Put a few eggs into a second bowl, add a pinch of salt.

In a third bowl, mix a 1:1 ratio of panko bread crumbs and sweetened coconut flakes. Mix to combine.

Using thawed, peeled, deveined shrimp – lightly coat a shrimp in flour, then dip in egg. Place shrimp into the panko/coconut mixture, spoon mixture over shrimp, and lightly press. Gently remove shrimp from the pile and drop into hot oil to cook. Repeat, again and again and again 🙂 Remove when the shrimp float and have turned golden. (You may not want to use the largest shrimp you can find as the coating may get overcooked before the shrimp is done.)

 

Peppermint Recipes

I wanted to make peppermint bark this year … so I’ve got a bunch of peppermint extract to use. Now I’m hunting peppermint recipes!

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Equal amounts dark and white chocolate
Peppermint extract (~1/2 teaspoon per pound of chocolates)

Melt dark chocolate, mix in half of the peppermint extract, pour onto a lined baking tray and allow to set.
Melt white chocolate, mix in peppermint extract, pour onto dark chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candy cane bits if desired. Score and allow to set.
Break into pieces.

“Shamrock” Shake

3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Blend all together. You could add green food coloring or spinach to turn it green. Serve w. whipped cream & cherry.

Peppermint Patties
7.5 cups powdered sugar (34 oz)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup light corn syrup
3 T coconut oil
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1.5 lbs chocolate, copped

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, milk, corn syrup, coconut oil, and peppermint on a low speed. Shape the dough into two round circles, cover in plastic, refrigerate for an hour.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on silicon rolling mat. Roll out to about 1/4″ thick and cut with ~2″ cutter. Place cut pieces on baking sheet and freeze overnight.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Using a fork, dip each patty into the chocolate then set on parchment lined baking sheets.

Maple Custard Tart

I’ve seen custard tarts topped with apple “roses” and wanted to make something similar for our Christmas dessert. Since we made our own maple syrup this year, I wanted to use a maple custard. We had a big bag of walnuts, so I used those for the crust.

Maple Custard:

  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3T corn starch
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1/4t sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal bowl on top of a pot). Select a medium heat (‘4’ on my cooktop). Whisking constantly, heat custard until it thickens. Remove from heat, cover with cling film, and refrigerate.

Walnut Cookie Crust:

  • 1.5 cup pulverized walnut pieces
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2T sugar
  • 2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put walnuts into a food processor and pulverize – not just powdered, some 1/8″ pieces should remain.
Measure 1.5 cups of pulverized walnuts. Combine with flour, salt, and sugar.
Melt butter. Using a fork, cut the melted butter into the dry ingredients. Add egg whites and cut together until evenly moist.
Press dough to the bottom of a pie or tart plate (can be lined with parchment – makes removing the pie a LOT easier). Cook for 15 minutes. Crust should be crunchy and brown.

Apple Roses:

  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

The instructions used a mandolin to slice the apples, I used a spiral food slicer. Worked well. Combine orange juice, butter, and sugar in a bowl and mix. Gently stir in apple pieces so they are covered. Let sit for 10 minutes.

To assemble – spread custard into cooled pie crust. Curl apple slices around themselves to make rose shapes and gently press into custard.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium cloves roasted garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) whole San Marzanos tomatoes
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the olive oil over medium low heat, add a pinch of salt, then slowly add the onion slices (allowing time for the liquid to evaporate off between additions) and sauté until the onions begin to caramelize. Mush the roasted garlic and add to onion. Deglaze the pan with stock. Run tomatoes through a blender, then add to pot. Add red pepper flakes and black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream. Voila, tomato soup!

We served this with cheddar biscuits – whatever bread recipe you like, then add grated cheddar cheese. I used about a cup of cheddar for four cups of flour in the bread.

Pies

Again this year, no one wanted to make the pumpkin pie for Anya’s preschool feast. So I volunteered. I didn’t want to make the same pie a few days later for our dinner.  A bit of Internet searching and I found a dairy free pie for her class and a carrot pie for us. Both were incredibly good.

Because these are custard fillings, I blind baked the crusts. When dough is in pie plate, lay aluminium foil over the whole thing. Pour white sugar into the lined pie plate. Bake at 350 — 40 minutes for non-refrigerated coconut oil crust, 60 minutes for butter crust that was refrigerated for an hour after being placed in pie plate. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and pick up the aluminium foil with the sugar & dump it back into the sugar bag. Since the crust is already baked, I covered the pie’s edges with aluminium foil to bake the completed pie.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie – adapted from https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2013/11/04/healthy-pumpkin-pie-recipe/ and http://minimalistbaker.com/coconut-oil-pie-crust/

Pie Filling:
20 oz pumpkin puree
14 oz can coconut milk without emulsifiers
2 tbsp ground flax (or 2 eggs)
1/4 cup rolled oats, powdered in food processor
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup solid coconut oil
6 tbsp ice cold water

Crust:
Put about half a cup of water into a glass and place in freezer.
Mix salt and flour, then use a pastry blender to cut in coconut oil.
Add 4 tablespoons of water from freezer and mix in. Add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time, until dough forms.
Split dough in half, wrap with clingfilm, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove from refrigerator and roll out dough. Place into pie plate and bake for 30-40 minutes until it is cooked.
Remove crust from oven and allow to cool while making filling.

Filling:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain watery liquid from tin of coconut milk and reserve. Combine coconut milk solids with pumpkin puree and mix to combine.
Add sugar, spices, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
Add ground flax seed (or egg) and mix. Pour into pie crust, cover crust edge with aluminium foil, and bake for 30-50 minutes until pie has mostly set.
Cool, refrigerate for 4+ hours.

A lot of kids really enjoyed the pie (it never occurred to me that “picky eating” extended to pie … but I learnt last year that, yeah, a lot of kids won’t eat pie. Especially not a pie that’s got any sort of could-be-a-veggie in it. For a normal snack/dessert, I make the filling, put it in ramekins, and steam it in the pressure cooker. Same flavour without the trouble of making a pie crust.

The recipe made two “normal” sized pies (i.e. not deep dish), and there was plenty for twenty people (sixteen kids, four adults). With enough left over that all three of us got a slice after class 🙂 Since I expected to have pumpkin pie on Tuesday, I wanted to make something different on Thursday. I found a carrot pie at http://www.craftycookingmama.com/carrot-pie-perfect-fall-holiday-pie/ and adapted it a little bit. I used the all-butter crust from Smitten Kitchen.

1.5 lbs carrots
2 T butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp tapioca powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil carrots for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Drain water & return to heat to evaporate excess liquid.
Place carrots, butter, and cream in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and puree until well mixed.
Pour into cooled crust and bake at 350 for 60 minutes until pie is set (knife inserted into centre comes out clean).

Served with maple whipped cream — add a few tablespoons of maple syrup to one cup of heavy whipping cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

This pie was really good too – Scott didn’t realize it was carrot-based until I mentioned it. It’s creamy and spicy and really good. So good we didn’t manage to get any pictures 🙂

Coconut Almond Chocolate Bars

I made a homemade dessert inspired by Almond Joy bars. It’s got three layers – coconut, sliced almonds, and either chocolate or carob.

For the coconut layer, combine the following in a food processor and pulse until you’ve got a somewhat creamy well blended mix.

3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup maple syrup

Line a pie pan with clingfilm and press coconut mixture into pan. Top with sliced almonds.

I then made both carob and chocolate sauce to spread on top. Melt 1/4 cup of coconut oil. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Then stir in either cocoa powder or carob powder until the mixture has the consistency of melted chocolate.

Spread chocolate or carob (I made it with half chocolate and half carob). Refrigerate for an hour so the chocolate sets.

Curried Salad

I made a really good curried salad based on a recipe I found online. I omitted the sriracha from the sauce and used a little of Penzey’s Bangkok Blend to add a little flavour and heat. I also poached a salmon filet (for Anya and I) and some chicken (for Scott). Flaked / shredded the meat and coated it in the sauce. Then I made the salad (without cilantro), drizzled with the curried peanut sauce, added the meat, and topped with some crunchy noodle things.

Halloween Flatbreads

We volunteered to make the ‘healthy snack’ for the preschool class Halloween party again this year. We made pumpkin-shaped flat breads with carrot hummus.

Flat Bread Recipe:

4t active dry yeast
1t Penzey’s roast garlic powder
2t Penzey’s italian herbs
1t sea salt
1t sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
2T olive oil
1.5 cups water
1 large carrot, shredded finely

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix, then add in water and oil. Kneed until it becomes a smooth and stretchy dough. Add carrot shreds and kneed to distribute throughout dough. Allow dough to rise until doubled (at least an hour).

Heat electric griddle to 375 F. Roll pieces of dough to ~1/8″ thick and cut with pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Carrot Hummus Recipe:

1c dried garbanzo beans – in a pressure cooker, add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and water. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Add about a pound of carrots and cook for another 15 minutes.

In a food processor, combine 1/4c fresh lemon juice and 1/4c tahini. Pulse to combine. Fill with garbanzo beans and carrots, and blend until smooth.

We topped the flatbreads with the orange-coloured hummus to make pumpkin flatbreads: