About This Blog

I like food. A lot. In this blog, I will divulge all my delicious recipes, giving you a full list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and notes to help you successfully make the dish. Feel free to try these at home, and let me know how it went in the comments for the dish! If you have any questions, I will answer them as quickly as possible. If you use my recipe and discuss it on your site, please link back to this blog. Happy eating!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Miso Braised Butternut Squash Over Cauliflower Couscous

This might be one of my favourite dishes of all time. A touch of heat, hearty enough to feel good in your stomach without being so heavy that you wish you hadn't eaten the whole plate. Topped with cilantro, green onion, and Fuji apple, the flavours all come together in a beautiful harmony that leaves you wishing there were leftovers somewhere in the house.
I originally got the idea from Food52 with their recipe for red cooked butternut squash. Have I mentioned that I love Food52? Because they have some awesome stuff going on over there. I love a food community, where everyone works together to share and create awesome things.
Anyway, I made two separate batches of the braising sauce and then, when everything was pretty well done, I combined them, added some flour and thickened it up before warming the chicken back up in the sauce. It goes so nicely with everything that I wanted to eat it all day. Rich threw it all down like food was going out of style. Needless to say, it was a success.

1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 red chiles, hot ones
1 tsp red miso paste
Butternut squash rounds, from the neck of 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
Boneless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bitesize pieces
1 tbsp flour
sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro, and Fuji apple for garnish

In a medium sauce pan, place garlic, broth, sesame oil and chile. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for three minutes.
Add squash and miso Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (between 20-30 minutes).
Do the same process for chicken, using a separate supply of sauce.
When chicken and butternut squash are cooked, set aside. Combine sauces, increase heat, and add flour, whisking constantly until thickened. Add chicken and squash and warm in sauce.

Meanwhile, prepare cauliflower couscous by processing 2 cups of florets in food processor until it resembles rice. Add cauliflower to heat wok with small amount of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red chili flakes, and cumin, to taste. Warm through.
Serve chicken and butternut squash over couscous. Add garnish.

It's a little technical as far as a dish goes, but it's totally worth the time it takes to make this magic happen. And you should make it happen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Can macaroni and cheese get any better? Sure it can. You can home make it, bake it, get a nice crust on. But it gets better. Buffalo chicken mac and cheese. Say what? Oh, yes, I totally just said that. Let me answer your questions up front:
Is it the cheesiest thing since cheese? Yes.
Is it full of all the best buffalo chicken mac and cheese flavours? Oh Yes.
Is it a little labour intensive? Kind of.
Is it totally worth it? YES.
I found this recipe over at one of my favourite food blogs, How Sweet It Is. Can I just say that the author, Jessica, is like, a food genius? She has amazing recipes -- ones that I will be producing in my kitchen for a long time coming. I love her photos (mine is not as pretty as hers), I love her voice, and I love the long list of awesome recipes.
Anyway, I'm sitting here with a half portion of the mac in my fridge right now, wondering if Rich or I will get to eat it. But you guys come first. I'll abstain so that you can share in the glory.

2 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 pack whole wheat shells (we found organic whole wheat shells at our grocery for a great price!)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika (I used Hungarian paprika)
1 cup Buffalo Wing sauce
2 tbsp flour
2 1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
6 oz fresh shredded fontina cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan

Cook pasta according to directions. When done, drained and set aside.
To a medium to large sized pot (I used a 1 litre pot, so not terribly huge), add olive oil and 2 tbsp butter.
Heat over medium heat until butter is melted.
Season chicken and add to pot. Cook through and brown slightly. Add half of the wing sauce, toss to coat, and set chicken aside, leaving the liquid in the pot.
Add remaining two tbsp of butter and melt. Add flour and stir until thickened.
Add milk and stir until it thickens a bit.
Lower heat and add dijon mustard and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
Stir together pasta, chicken, remaining wing sauce, and cheese sauce and serve.

You may notice Jessica added green onions and cilantro to hers. I didn't, partially because Rich doesn't care for either of them (he thinks cilantro taste like soap), and partially because I forgot to buy the onions.
I also changed out the gorgonzola for mozzarella cheese. I haven't really liked gorgonzola the times I've had it, so I switched it out. I think most cheeses would probably work for this recipe.
Last note: Make this. Make it now. Make it every day, and bask in its glory.

Beef Medallions Served with Muhamarra Sauce and Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree

So, this is the muhamarra sauce, which I got from Dassana, at Veg Recipes of India. We don't have a gas stove, so we just threw it onto the coals on the grill. It worked just as well. That said, it was super easy to make, and has absolutely fabulous flavour. We put it on some beef medallions, as you can see below, but I also put some on a turkey and swiss sandwich. It would pretty much go with everything. I suggest you try it as soon as possible.

Here, we paired the beef with a cauliflower and parsnip puree, which was fabulous and light. It had the texture of mashed potatoes, but none of that starchy heaviness. Simply lovely. I'll give you the directions for the puree after the muhamarra. Do it. Quickly.

1 red pepper
3 medium gloves garlic, dry roasted
1/2 cup toasted almonds
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
sesame seeds and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Roast the pepper on a fire or hot charcoals, turning every few minutes, until charred all around.
Dunk pepper in cold water for five minutes. Peel pepper, and chop.
Add pepper and other ingredients, sans garnish, to a blender or food processor, and blitz until smooth.

Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3-4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup milk (I used organic soy milk)
Ground nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
white pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and saute until they start to turn brown.
Add cauliflower and parsnips.
Add tap water to cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cover pot.
Boil until vegetables are tender.
Drain water, add vegetables to blender and add milk. Puree until smooth.
Add puree to rinsed pot over low heat, add spices to taste.

For the muhamarra, I toasted sliced almonds and dry roasted the garlic whilst the pepper roasted. That said, this is a very simple recipe. Put it on everything. Even eggs. I haven't tried on eggs yet but you should and you should tell me about it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Journey to Homemade

I just want to spend a minute talking about hand-making things, like this beautiful bowl of strawberries and cream.
So, since moving from the Middle of Nowhere, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I'm been trying all kinds of new things. New foods, new techniques. One reason is that I have a pathological need to learn new things all the time, and part of the reason is that, when I moved here, I vowed that I would never have a meal that I considered boring, as long as it was in my power.
Through no fault of their own, my parents subscribed to the school of rotating menus when I was young. Cheap-as-free nasty baked-in-water chicken thighs that I can no longer eat because of an illness (I don't consider this a loss). Pork chops that are impossible to make interesting until interesting means attaching one to a rocket and shooting it into space. Maybe 0.3% fresh vegetable intake per year. Again, there were circumstances my family had to adhere to and work with that made this lifestyle necessary.
But when I knew I would be living on my own (and later with Rich), and that I would have far less restrictions, I swore that I would try everything I could get my hands on. Which is why I now love avocado, cauliflower and peppers. Which is why I buy fruit once a week. Which is why I started hand-making things I used to buy in a box or a tub.
It started with a yellow cake, but really took off with a red velvet cake which, prior to moving here, I had never actually eaten. But I wanted to. So I made it. And I have a shirt somewhere still stained from flung red gelatin food colouring -- the never-come-out-of-your-anything kind from Michael's. But it was totally worth it.
From there, I've expanded, most recently culminating in the photo above: whipped cream. For a long time, I considered that whipped cream was never really a thing a human being could make -- it was this foreign, fluffy entity of cloud deliciousness that appeared out of machines and into grocery stores. Like, it was maybe what cloud tears were really made of, instead of boring old rain. But then I got to reading about it a few years ago. And this year or, more specifically, a few weeks ago, I tried it.
It turns out that making whipped cream at home is crazy easy, even by hand, which is how we do it because I don't have a fancy schmancy mixer with a whip attachment. I have one broken stand mixer and one finicky hand mixer. So, Rich and I take turns whipping and in maybe 20 minutes, we have whipped cream! Totally worth it.
I've found that hand making things we would normally buy in the store, like cake and whipped cream, makes me have a better appreciation for the thing I'm eating. Sure, I could have paid $2.00 or something for a can of grossly-sweet Redi-Whip, or for Cool Whip, but when I make my own, I can make it as sweet as I want, which is not at all. We don't add any sugar to this -- just a touch of vanilla extract. We do add some sugar to the strawberries and let them sit for a few minutes, but we generally have a very calm dessert here.
I am always looking for and learning new things in the world of homemade, and I hope you'll try it, too. I think that, if we all made as much as we feasibly could at home, like our grandmothers or great-grandmothers used to, we could all have a better appreciation for our food, and it could be something we purely enjoy, instead of something we involve ourselves with because we have to survive. And then maybe we would eat less McDonalds and more strawberries and cream which is obviously better for you because look at that; what could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spinach and Basil Flavoured Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Ravioli with Homemade Marzano Tomato Sauce

Look at that piece of magic, huh? Dang. I got the idea for these babies from Zavida at The Healthy Maven last week and just had to give them a try. And it was super simple, albeit time consuming because I made everything except the cheese and veg myself. 
Anyway, I don't have a spiralizer, and into order to avoid slicing my finger open again, I used our vegetable peeler (NOT the potato peeler) to make the super-thin zucchini slices. Rich wanted to use the mandolin. He even brought it down off the pantry shelf. He even sliced some zucchini with it. I cringed every time the vegetable wrapped in his hand passed over the knife. Even if he had his hand in the super-thick Ov-Glove, I could still imagine long strips of finger being torn away. Is that weird? That I'm now afraid of the stupid mandolin? 
Anyway, the mandolin cut considerably thicker strips than I was looking for, but it still worked out.
I did a couple of things differently for this recipe. First, I cut up the spinach, along with some fresh basil from my pots, and sautéed them together and then mixed them into the ricotta. I just liked it better that way. I also made the tomato sauce from some leftover marzano tomatoes from the lobster dish. Part of the reason is because I needed an excuse to use them (says the person who hates tomatoes) and partially because I have a hard time eating red sauce in general (because of an illness when I was a teenager), so I figured that I might as well give myself the best chance and make my own. I liked it (Rich liked it more), but I thought it was a touch sweet, really only a symptom of using marzano tomatoes, which happen to be very sweet.
Anyway, I also made the vinaigrette for that salad there. Nothing fancy, just red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and some spices and oil. 

It's like you don't want to look away.
Zucchini, sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1 tub part-skim ricotta cheese
Small handful spinach leaves, coarsely cut
6 or so fresh basil leaves, coarsely cut
2 garlic gloves, peeled and diced
Tomato Sauce
6 marzano tomatoes, blanched, peeled and crushed or pureed
2 fresh basil leaves, diced
1 garlic glove, peeled and diced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.
With a small amount of oil sauté the garlic for the ravioli until fragrant. Add the basil and spinach and sauté until wilted, about a minute. Remove from heat and add to ricotta, mixing thoroughly.
Using two strips per side, arrange strips in an "x." Place a small teaspoon of ricotta where the strips meet and fold them over (Zavida has a really nice step-by-step for this in photo). Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for twenty minutes. When done, place onto a plate.
Meanwhile, sauté the garlic for the sauce with the basil and oil for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes. Add to the ravioli. Top with parmesan and serve.

I served with this with salad topped with imitation crab, but this would be good with a lot of things, including some nice crusty bread.
Make sure when you're cutting the zucchini slices, you don't cut into the seeds -- it will make for strips pocked with holes, and the seeds fall out. So as soon as you start to see seeds, switch to another side.

Okay, one more time:

Mmmmm, tasty.