Sunday, August 16, 2009

Country Fried Potatoes

about 6 large red potatoes
1/3 cup lard, bacon fat or canola oil
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

Scrub potatoes and slice into quarters. Cook in a large pot of salted water. Drain, slice thinly.

Heat fat in a large cast iron skillet until it sizzles when a bit of potato is introduced. Add potatoes. Cook until golden brown. Remove from fat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season generously and serve.

Grilled Peach Salsa

2 medium, ripe-but-firm peaches
skinned, pitted and thinly sliced
juice from 1/3 lime
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbs finely diced red bell pepper
2 tbs finely diced green bell pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the bias
2 tbs finely sliced cilantro leaves
2 tbs white wine such as Chardonnay
splash of tequila, optional
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

In a medium bowl, marinate peaches together with lime juice, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper for a few minutes.

Place a small, well seasoned, cast iron skillet over medium-hight heat. When hot, add peaches and cook for about 15 seconds, until caramelized on one side. Remove from pan and place back in bowl. Add peppers, onion, cilantro, wine and tequila. Season to taste.

Serve with chicken, fish or pork.

Tres Leches Cupcakes (makes about 24)

6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, then cooled somewhat
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 can (10 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup whipping cream
Whipped Cream, for topping
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together egg whites, baking soda and salt until soft peaks form. Combine yolks and sugar, reduce speed to low, and whisk into the whites. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in melted butter. Fold in flour in fourths.

Line muffin tins with paper-lined foil liners (important, don’t attempt with just paper). Divide batter evenly, filling to about half. Bake in a 325F oven, rotating pans half way through baking, until light golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and, while still hot, using a skewer, poke cupcakes full of holes.

Whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk and whipping cream. Slowly ladle, about 2-3 tbs at a time, over warm cupcakes, letting it soak in. Cool completely. Place, in a single layer, into airtight containers and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, bring cupcakes to room temperature and top with generous dollops of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Multigrain and Legume Salad (makes about 10 cups)

3/4 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup navy beans
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup black turtle beans
1/3 cup green mung beans
1/3 cup azuki beans
(all of the above are dried ingredients)
1/2 red bell pepper, fine dice
2 bulbs green onions, green parts only, finely slices
1 cup canola oil
6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs light soy sauce
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Separately cook, in salted water, each of the grains and legumes to tender/firm. Cooking times will vary a little, but the wheat berries and beans will take about 30 minutes each. Having several small pots going at once will help significantly cut down the time required.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Toss together with grains, legumes and vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Where to find it: All of the dried grains and legumes are available at Springfield Bulk Foods.

Creamy Dilled New Potatoes

1 1/2 pounds new red and/or yellow potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
4 to 5 tbs coarsely chopped fresh dill leaves (not dried dill!)
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste

In a medium pot, cook potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender to the tip of a knife. Drain and return to pot. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, gently heat cream and dill over medium heat, stirring constantly, until simmering. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, for several minutes, until reduced by 1/3 in volume. Season to taste.

Pour cream and dill sauce over potatoes and toss gently. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Note: Sauce should be thick enough to cling to the potatoes, even though some of it will sink to the bottom of the dish.

Creamy Corkscrew Salad with Tuna

1 pound Casarecce or other corkscrew pasta,
cooked to al dente (no pun intended)
340g can chunk light or white tuna, drained
2 oz old white cheddar, small dice
1/3 lb fresh green beans,
cooked to tender/crisp, cut into 1-inch long pieces
1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
(or strawberry tomatoes, cut into eighths)
2-3 green onions, finely sliced (green parts only)
1 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 tbs grainy Dijon mustard
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss pasta together with dressing. Add green beans, onions and tomatoes and toss gently until evenly distributed. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow flavours to develop.

Note: If not serving the same day, keep tomatoes aside and add them as a garnish.

Easy Peasy Kofta Skewers

1/2 lb lean ground lamb
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tbs "Exotic African Rub" spic mix from Maple Leaf Spices
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat outdoor grill or coals. In a large mixing bowl, using your hands (disposable gloves may be worn), thoroughly combine ground lamb, beef, onion and seasonings.

Divide meat mixture into twelve parts. Form each into an elongated patty in the palm of your hand. Wrap around bamboo skewers. Grill until cooked through. Serve with Middle Eastern flatbread, fresh greens and Minted Yogurt Sauce.

Note: start with a small amount of salt (a half teaspoon) and about 10 turns of your pepper mill. Test mixture by cooking a small amount in a skillet over medium heat with a bit of oil. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, then test again.

Minted Yogurt Sauce
4 tbs finely sliced mint leaves
4 tbs plain yogurt
4 tbs light mayo
1 small garlic clove, minced

Where to find it: Check for store locations by visiting

Creamy Summertime Coleslaw

3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tbs honey
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 small head Savoy cabbage, chiffonade (coarsely shaved)
2 small carrots, peeled, matchsticked
1/2 cup raw sunflower kernels
1/2 cup raisins or Craisins

In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots,, sunflower kernels and raisins. Add dressing and toss to evenly coat coleslaw. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (can be kept, covered, up to 2 days in the fridge). Toss coleslaw again just before serving with your summer BBQ or picnic.

Vanilla Pancakes

1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

(for buttermilk pancakes, replace milk with buttermilk and add 1/2 tsp baking soda)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and bring together with a fork, until just combined.

Place a griddle over low heat. When hot, add a few drops of canola oil and spread over surface with a folded paper towel. Ladle batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto griddle. Cook until bubbles form all over surface of pancakes. Turn over and finish cooking on second side, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter, adding a little oil to griddle as needed.

Serving suggestion: Besides the traditional butter and syrup, try peanut butter and applesauce.

Brunch Strata with Mushrooms, Spinach and Smoked Gruyere

12-14 1/2-inch slices stale French or Italian bread
(or dry, in a single layer, in a 225F oven for 40 minutes)
8 tbs butter, room temperature
1 small onion, finely diced
1 bunch fresh spinach, stemmed, washed
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz smoked Gruyere, shredded
10 large eggs
3 1/2 cups milk
kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Butter bread with 4 tbs of the butter. Set aside. Heat 3 tbs butter in a large pan. Cook onion and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, then spinach until wilted. Drain in a sieve, squeezing out excess moisture. Season to taste. Set aside.

Butter a shallow 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange with half of the bread slices, buttered side up, in a single layer. Sprinkle with half of the spinach mixture, then 1/3 of the Gruyere. Arrange remaining bread over top, and top with remaining spinach mixture and 1/3 of the cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs together with milk, 1 tsp salt and about 10 turns of a pepper mill. Pour egg mixture over bread. Place dish on a baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Place another baking dish on top and add weights (two 1 litre tetra pack juices work perfectly). Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Remove weights, uncover and let dish stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then bake in a 325F oven for about an hour, until bread has puffed up and is set in the centre. Let set for five minutes before serving.

Turkey Chilli Mac (serves 6)

1/2 pound uncooked elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente
3 tbs canola oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 bulb garlic, peeled, minced
2 tbs chilli powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
4 oz extra old cheddar
4 oz Monterey Jack
kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Heat 1 tbs oil in a very large, straight-sided sauté pan (or pot), over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Drain and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in the same pan and add onions, pepper, garlic and spices. Cook, stirring from time to time, until veg is soft, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and turkey, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Stir in macaroni and season to taste. Scrape into a 9x13-inch baking dish, cover with cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

Hot Cross Buns

¾ cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ cups currants
1 egg
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs milk

Place butter, milk, sugar, salt, spices, zest and eggs in the bowl of your breadmaker. Cover with the flour, then yeast. Program machine for the dough setting.Turn dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead in currants. Divide into 24 equal pieces. Shape into buns and place, 1/2-inch apart, on an 11 by 17-inch Silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover and set aside to rise for an hour, until doubled in size and touching.Whisk egg with 1 tbs water and a pinch of salt. Lightly brush tops of buns with egg wash. With a very sharp knife, slice a cross into top of each bun. Bake at 375F until golden, about 25 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and milk. Pipe or drizzle glaze into crosses.

Low Mileage Double Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes (from a family root cellar)
1 tbs butter
2-3 sliced bacon (from a pig I used to know), cooked, crumbled
2 tbs sour cream (from D Dutchmen Dairy)
1/2 cup shredded extra-aged white cheddar (from Armstrong Cheese)
2 stalks green onion, finely sliced, green parts only (from my windowsill) kosher salt (don't start with me on this one)/fresh ground pepper (ditto)
olive oil (just look the other way)

Scrub potatoes and rub with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, pierce with a sharp knife and bake at 350F for about 2 hours, until very soft. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out about 2/3 of the contents into a bowl. Season and fold together with filling ingredients, but only 1/2 of the cheddar. Scoop back into skins, top with cheese, and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Whole Grain Fruit & Nut Cookies

2 tbs butter
2 tbs grape seed or vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup applesauce
1 whole egg or 2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cups chopped dates, currants or raisins
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chopped pecans

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, grape seed oil brown and granulated sugars. Beat in honey, applesauce and egg. Whisk together flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk sifted mixture together with oats. Add to wet mixture in thirds, beating on medium until combined. Fold in fruit and nuts until evenly distributed. Do not over mix.

Using a small (approx 1/4 cup) ice cream scoop, scoop mixture onto greased or Silpat-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a sugar-dipped fork and bake for about 15-18 minutes at 350F, until lightly golden. Let cool for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.