Monday, March 24, 2008

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

approx 4 cups white bread flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5 tbs cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, plus one for glazing
1/4 cup butter, melted then cooled
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
white chocolate for piping
Heat milk to body temperature. Proof yeast in milk until foamy (about 10 minutes). Whisk in eggs, butter and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and bring ingredients together with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes to form a soft, elastic dough. When finished, incorporate chopped chocolate. Return dough to bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 3/4 hours, until doubled.
Turn out dough. Divide and shape into 16 buns and place on a large Silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until doubled. Cut crosses into the top of each bun. Brush tops with an egg beaten together with a little water. Bake in a 375F oven for about 18 minutes.
When buns are completely cool, pipe melted white chocolate into the marks made before baking.

Spicy Peanut Ginger Beef

1 lb thinly sliced beef
1 Serrano chilli, finely diced
1/2 cup ginger, sliced and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbs Sambal
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying
Combine all ingredients except the beef into a marinade. Toss beef in marinade. Refrigerate 2 hours. Toss beef in a light batter of:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs chilli oil
2/3 cup water
Deep fry in 360F oil, separating slices as they’re dropped into the hot oil, until just cooked. Drain on paper towels. Heat oil to 400F and deep fry a second time, until crispy but still tender. Drain. Serve with peanut sauce.
for the sauce:
1 400ml can coconut milk
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 Serrano chilli, finely dices
3 tbs Sambal
2 tbs Mirin
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs finely diced ginger root
Combine in a medium pot over low heat until warm and melted together.

Where to find it: Mirin is a sweet, liquid, Asian cooking seasoning available, along with the Sambal and sweet chilli sauce, in Oriental markets or where Asian products are found.

Curried Potato and Cauliflower Soup with Dumplings

1/4 cup butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cups peeled and diced baker potatoes
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets
8 cups chicken stock or water
2 tbs curry powder
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add curry powder and cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, reserving 1 cup of the cauliflower, and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender. Puree with a handheld blender. Season to taste. Add remaining cauliflower and return to heat.
For the dumplings:
In a small pot, bring 1 cup water, 2 tbs butter and 1 tsp salt to a boil. Remove from heat. Thoroughly stir in 1 1/3 cups flour. Let cool. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in two eggs, 1/2 cups chopped parsley or cilantro, 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp pepper.
Drop dumpling batter by teaspoonfuls into simmering soup. Close lid tightly (no peeking!) and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Cajun Mac & Cheese Cakes

(adapted from a recipe by Colleen Hossack)
1 lb macaroni or other pasta, cooked
3 cups béchamel, freshly prepared
2 tbs butter
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn niblets
1 cup grated old cheddar
1 cup grated smoked gouda
2 tbs Cajun spice blend
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbs water
2 cups bread crumbs
vegetable oil for pan-frying
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and corn. Sautee until onions are translucent and corn is tender.
Stir cheeses and Cajun spice into warm béchamel. Season to taste, then fold in pasta, onions and corn. Adjust seasoning. Transfer pasta mixture into a large baking dish and refrigerate several hours until firm. Turn out of dish and cut into cubes. Dredge each in egg, then bread crumbs. Pan-fry, turning to cook until golden on each side.

Santa Fe Ranch Dip

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tbs salsa (optional)
1 chopped, seeded jalapeno (optional)
1 tbs Cajun powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together first three ingredients. Stir in herbs and seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for two hours to let flavours develop. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables.

Seeded Wheat Bread

(makes one large, or two smaller, loaves)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup multigrain flakes and seeds
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt
approx 1 1/2 cups warm water
butter for greasing bread pan
Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside to proof for ten minutes. Meanwhile, whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then, using a pastry scraper, slowly add water to flours, incorporating until dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes to form an elastic dough.
Return dough to bowl and cover with a lint-free kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until about doubled in bulk. When risen, remove dough from bowl using pastry scraper. Place on a lightly-floured surface and knead a few times. Form into a loaf and place in a large, buttered loaf pan. Cover with towel and let rise another 1 1/2 hours, until about doubled.
Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450F. Just before adding bread, mist oven with water. Bake for about 20 minutes, until crust is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cup chocolate graham crumbs
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
5 tbs butter
Melt butter. In a small bowl, combine crumbs, pecans and butter. Press into a pie plate and bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
For the Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
6 large eggs
2 cups milk (skim, 1% or 2%)
1/2 cup whipping cream
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbs dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a heavy-bottomed, medium pot, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in eggs to form a thick paste. In a separate pot, scald milk and cream. Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, whisking over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Let boil, whisking, for 1 minute. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add rum and vanilla. Whisk constantly while mixture cools for 5 minutes. Transfer to crust. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight, until cold. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Golden Raisin Ricotta Cheesecake

5oz graham crumbs
5 tbs butter, melted
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/3 cup Demerara rum
3/4 cup water
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 kg ricotta
1/2 cup sour cream
5 tbs flour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. In Combine melted butter and graham crumbs. Press into springform. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes.
Bring raisins, rum and water to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer until liquid evaporates. Arrange over crust.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pale in colour; 2 minutes. Beat in ricotta, sour cream, flour, citrus zests and vanilla.
In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar, beating until glossy. Fold into batter in two additions. Spread batter over top of raisins. Bake 50 minutes or longer, until a tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge to prevent cracking. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing with a hot, dry knife.

Yukon Potato Lyonnaise Pizza

1 tbs butter
5 oz par-cooked new Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced
1 large shallot, chopped and caramelized
1/2 pound prepared pizza dough, rolled to a 10-inch circle
1 tsp yellow cornmeal.
2-3 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
1/4 cup béchamel sauce
1 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 1/2 oz mozzarella, grated
3 oz brie or camembert, sliced
Preheat a 12-inch pizza stone in a 375F oven. Melt butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until lightly golden. Sprinkle cornmeal on hot stone and arrange dough on top. Brush with garlic oil, then spread with béchamel sauce. Evenly sprinkle half of the mozzarella, followed by the potatoes. Top with remaining mozzarella, slices of brie, crumbled bacon and caramelized shallots. Bake for 17 minutes, until cheese is hot and bubbly in the centre and crust is golden around the edges.

Where to find it: Béchamel is a classic white sauce made by whisking scalded milk into a roux of flour and butter, cooking until smooth and thickened. For complete directions, turn to a comprehensive cookbook such as The Joy of Cooking, or online at

Griddled Maple Pecan Bread Pudding

1 cup maple syrup
approx. 13 oz dense white artisan bread such as
a sour dough baguette
2 tbs butter
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole pecan halves
Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small pot, heat maple syrup over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until reduced by half. Place pot in a cold water bath to cool thickened syrup somewhat (to prevent it curdling the eggs).
Slice bread and butter one side of each slice. Place slices in a large bowl and set aside. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and brown sugar. Pour egg mixture over bread and let soak for five minutes. Layer 1/2 of the bread slices in the bottom of a large loaf pan. Top with 1/2 of the pecans and drizzle with 1/2 of the maple reduction. Repeat with remaining bread, pecans and syrup.
Place bread pan in baking dish and fill second dish with hot tap water, half way up the side of the bread pan. Place in a 300F oven and bake for about an hour and a half. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath another half hour. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Turn out pudding and slice. Place slices on a hot, lightly buttered griddle, and cook each side until lightly golden.

Spice-Rubbed Rack of Lamb

1 lamb rack, Frenched
2 tbs ground black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp allspice
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
In a small bowl, blend together spices. Using your fingers, pack mixture onto meaty side of lamb rack. Drizzle with Worchester sauce and rub spices into meat until a paste forms. Place rack in a small casserole dish and set aside for an hour. May be refrigerated overnight.
After an hour, place onto the grilling surface of a preheated BBQ. Turn off one side of the grill and move lamb rack to that side to cook, turning every five minutes, until meat is medium rare. Remove to a cutting board and allow meat to rest for five minutes before slicing. To serve, slice rack between bones with a sharp knife. Serve, two or three per person, with roasted or grilled root vegetables and soft or grilled polenta, or other favourites.

Spiced Chai Hot Toddy

for each serving:
6 oz hot water
1 oz Brandy
1 tsp honey
1 Tazo Chai teabag
1 slice lemon
Steep tea in hot water for two minutes. Stir in Brandy and honey. Squeeze juice from lemon slice into toddy. Serve to cold or flu sufferer.

Rum & Butter Tart Muffins

Adapted from a recipe by The Bean, a coffee shop in Huntsville, ON
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
2 tbs rum
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups raisins
1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together, stirring constantly. Add eggs and milk and whisk constantly until mixture is slightly thickened and beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and add rum and vanilla. Strain into a clean bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg. Stir in raisins and place in refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add cooled raisin mixture and bring together with a fork until just combined. Divide into 12 lightly-greased muffin cups and bake at 350F for 14-15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Optional: brush tops of muffins with maple syrup when they come out of the oven.