Tag: food

Pepperoni Pizza

Anya wants to eat pepperoni pizza, but without the meat. I’ve seen a few vegan pepperoni products for sale, but they all look quite unappetizing, they include all sorts of crazy ingredients, and they’re super expensive. So I set out to find a veggie pepperoni recipe online. Took a lot of searching, but I found a recipe that looked promising. I made it with half the lowest amount of red pepper flakes. It was so hot, the stuff was inedible. Great taste, but a total waste. Also, the recipe didn’t indicate what type of extra-firm tofu to use. I happened to have some of the not silken sort, so I used that. So we had an oddly textured burning hot pepperoni (and I had to add a good bit of liquid to form anything even approaching a paste). I’ve been wanting to make it again without the pepper flakes and try silk tofu instead.

I tried it again tonight, modifying the recipe

  • 10 ounces extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Tellicherry peppercorn
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, split into two 1/2 teaspoon portions
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 star anise seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a stone mortar, crush the garlic cloves. Add the sea salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, one half teaspoon of fennel seeds, and anise seeds. Grind to form a powder. Add sugar and smoked paprika, and blend together.

In a food processor, blend the tofu until it is creamy. Add the spice mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and blend until combined. Once it has enough flavour for you, store the remaining spice mixture (I used about half of the spice blend).

Spread the tofu on a lined baking sheet. You can spread separate little sections, cut it like the linked recipe, or just make one big chunk that you break up before using. Either way, bake for 10-15 minutes. Mmmmm! This tastes good, the texture is great … we made vegetarian pepperoni!!!

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon of vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced onion greens

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt butter and combine with buttermilk. Mash garlic cloves and mix into milk/butter.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne.

Add cheddar cheese and onion greens, stir to combine.

Add buttermilk and stir until moistened.

Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to form biscuits and place onto silicon baking sheet lined tray.

Bake for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

5th Birthday Cake

I made a cake with red beets for Anya’s birthday cake. I roasted the beets instead of boiling them. Then replaced the espresso with beet juice (mostly because I had it in the pan after roasting the beets). Finally I used 7 oz of carob chips along with three tablespoons of a triple cocoa powder blend. To make it a little fancier, I made a small layer cake with the mascarpone between the layers.

I covered the cake with a stabilized whipped cream flavoured with raspberry and added fresh raspberries to to the top. The cake what what I imagined a red velvet cake was before it became white cake with red dye – a deep reddish brown colour. Very moist and dense in spite of the whipped egg whites folded into it.

Raspberry Whip Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup fresh raspberry purée (seeds strained out)
1 packet unflavoured gelatin
2 tablespoons superfine sugar

Dissolve gelatin in the raspberry purée.

Begin whipping the cream in a stand mixer. Slowly add in the sugar. Leave the mixer run and heat up the gelatin per instructions. Allow to cool a bit but don’t let it set. Drizzle raspberry mixture into cream and continue whipping to the soft peak state.

Since I was using this as a cake ‘frosting’, I immediately applied it to the cake and allowed it to set on the cake. Before the gelatin set:

After gelatin has set:

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.

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.

Spent Grain Banana Muffins

We made the Medusa Cream Ale last night, and it seems so wasteful to throw out the steeping grains (a.k.a. ‘spent grains’). I’ve added a cup to a 4c flour pizza dough recipe before – it makes a nice whole grainy crust. Anya has taken the ‘self service’ approach to bananas, but she leaves somewhere between an empty peel and 7/8th of a banana sitting on the kitchen counter. I’ve been collecting her banana bits in the refrigerator … so I wanted to make something with bananas.

Banana Muffins With Spent Beer Grains

5 T butter, melted
3.5 bananas
1/3 c dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
2 t Penzey’s apple pie spices
2 cups spent beer grains — this batch was from a light cream ale, you’ll get a different taste using grains from a darker beer
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Melt the butter in a large bowl
  3. Mash the bananas into the butter
  4. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved
  5. Stir in the egg, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and spices
  6. Add the spent grains and mix well
  7. Add the flour, half a cup at a time, and stir until no streaks of flour are seen
  8. Scoop batter into muffin tin (I use a non-stick tin from Williams Sonoma and filled each one about 90%)
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out without raw batter (a little moist is OK, uncooked batter not OK)