Monday, April 21, 2008

Onion Confit

I want to eat this with everything right now. It is especially awesome with maple breakfast sausage.

The recipe is here - and as a bonus, it's stupid easy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Something strange is happening. I'm really into eating vegetables - stuff I would refuse to eat as a child. Roasted squash is now a delicious treat. And today, I had kale for dinner and it was tasty tasty - well, maybe it was the bacon - but still....

Here's what I did.

1. Fry some chopped bacon - the good thick cut extra smoky bacon.
2. Then chop some kale - I used 1/2 a bunch, about 4 cups chopped.
3. Put the kale in with the bacon.
4. Push the kale around and toss with the bacon fat until the kale starts to wilt.
5. Add some salt.
6. Add some white wine vinegar.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Soup for Dinner

I love having soup for dinner. I find it very comforting and low key. Smitten kitchen recently posted a recipe for meatball soup.

I decided that this soup would be the basis of my saturday night dinner. But then I started reading the recipe. There were no onions. I always start my soup making by softening onions in oil or butter. So I figured I would start the way I always start, and add some onions. Then usually I add some white wine and let it reduce before adding the stock. Since I had some wine kicking around in the fridge, I decided I should fit this in too.

My mom has recently been making a similar soup to this, minus the meatballs, with kale and white beans. It's very tasty - and I had a can of cannellini beans. So I decided escarole was out, and kale and white beans were in.

Happily, after all my tinkering, it turned out extremely tasty. It was hearty and warming, but the carrot and kale gave it a nice freshness. The meatballs are perhaps a little ugly, but their delicious garlickiness made up for it. Paul and I had this with some onion rye bread, and finished off the evening with some apple crumbles.

I found I had more meatballs than I really wanted to put in the soup so I have frozen the rest for later.

Kale and Meatball Soup

for the meatballs - enough for about 45 meat balls
1 lb ground chicken
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup breadcumbs (I made mine from a garlic pita I had in the freezer)
1/4 Parmesan cheese (I used the cheap stuff)
1 egg
2 tbsp water
salt and pepper

for the soup
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head)
14 oz can of cannelini beans

making the meatballs
1. Mix eggs and water in a medium sized bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Let sit about 5 mins.
2. Add ground chicken, mix well, without squishing or compressing things too much.
3. Form into 1 1/4 inch diameter balls. Let sit in the fridge at least 30 mins. (I made these in the morning.)

making the soup
1. Soften the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion starts to get translucent, around 5-10 mins.
2. Add white wine and let reduce. Then add stock, bay leaf and carrots. Let simmer, covered, until the carrots are the softness you like to eat. For me, this takes about 15-20 mins.
3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in a separate pot. Set aside.
4. Add the meatballs and beans and let simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the kale, and cook for another 5-7 mins. Serve topped with more Parmesan cheese

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Russian Grandmother's Apple Cake

I love other people's family recipes. No one is more blunt than your family. I still haven't lived down the corn starch ice-cream. So I figure for a recipe to have become a favourite and passed down, it must be something really special.

This is another recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours. I've received other cookbooks, and other baking books since I've got this one. But I keep finding more things I want to make in this one.

This recipe also appealed to me because it is a non-traditional pie crust. Yes, even though it's called a cake, it's really a more of a pie. The technique for making the crust is a lot more like making a cookie. A delicious, delicious cookie.

I made this at a friend's cottage. You can see I had some awesome equipment to work with.

I also had an adorable tiny helper, complete with adorable tiny rolling pin.

I don't like to post baking recipes, because I almost never change them up. But I've done some googling, and the recipe is here. I made this a second time this weekend and I didn't use the raisins and I think I prefer it that way. I also used Northern Spies instead of Granny Smith. Both my father, who grew up on a farm, and the apple man at the St Lawrence market thought that Northern Spies would be best. As always, my Dad was right, the spies made a very nice pie.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dinner Party Rice

I like having people over for dinner. But I am not particularly experienced at it and tend to find it ever so slightly stressful, which is why whenever I get overly worried I think to myself "What would Ina do?". Ina's entertaining advice is pretty straightforward. Make what you can ahead of time and make what you know. Her optional third rule for entertaining is use a lot of butter.

I find Zuni Chicken is a good choice because you can prepare it the day or the morning before. Then an hour, or perhaps a half hour, before your guests arrive you put it in the oven.

My dinner party rice is a riff on the Zuni bread salad. I put in all the things from the bread salad so you get a similar taste - but making rice is less work than washing lettuce.

Dinner Party Rice
(for four)

3-4 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, also chopped fine
1 tbsp oil, sometimes I used canola, or sometimes olive
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper

Rice for four servings, I make about 1 cup of dry rice

1. The night or the morning before your friends are coming over, soak the raisins with the balsamic vinegar and about a tbsp of hot water. Cover and leave sitting at room temperature.
2. Maybe about 1/2 an hour before you expect your guests, fry up the shallot and garlic in the oil and start cooking the rice.
3. When your rice is cooked and your chicken is ready, add the shallots, the raisins and pine nuts. I also add some salt and pepper and this point, and then vinegar. Now, this is the sneaky bit, start adding some of the rendered chicken fat, about a tablespoon at a time, until you find the rice tastes deliciously chickeny.

And that's it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Free buns

I stopped in at Cobs Bread on my way home from my parents yeterday. It's relatively new the neighbourhood and it had a big sign advertising hot cross buns.

I like hot cross buns - and I was pretty cold - so I thought I would get one. Now, here's where things get weird and well, quite frankly, fantastic. I ordered one, and they gave it to me. And then they wouldn't let me pay for it. They gave me a free bun. Best Wednesday ever.

And how was it? Totally delicious.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mango Pudding

My favourite dim sum dessert is mango pudding. Now, it's not much of a contest since it's the only dessert with out red bean or tofu. (Not that I don't like red beans and tofu, but there is a time and a place for them.)

When the New York times had a recipe for mango pudding last week I knew I wanted to try it.

This pudding isn't quite the same as the dim sum one and I found the pudding on it's own insufficiently creamy. But with some plain yogurt on top it is quite delicious.

Osso Buco

I'm back. Due to some technical difficulties, I've had a bit of an internet vacation. But not a cooking vacation.

The first thing I want to tell you about is the osso buco I made. When I go to the St Lawrence Market each week, I am also interested in what is inexpensive. A couple weeks ago the beef shanks caught my eye. My mom suggested I could use it in osso buco. Now, my understanding is that veal shank is traditional in osso buco, but it's also about three times the price. I figured using the beef would be okay, and I would just cook it a little longer.
This meat cost about 8 dollars Canadian. Paul and I each ate two meals from it.

The internet seems to have two different kinds of osso buco recipes: those with canned tomotoes, and those without. I decided to make the kind with less tomatoes. I also noticed that most recipes have celery - but due to my long standing dislike of celery, I decided I could do without it too.

Now, sometimes when I decide to make something I have never had, I am disappointed. But this was much better than I was expecting. It was very easy and very hearty tasting. Perfect for a snowy day. I think this will be a winter staple for me now.

Osso Buco
(serves two, adapted from Everyday Italian)

1 beef shank (it will weight around one pound)
2 cloves garlic, slightly crushed with the side of the knife
1 sprig rosemarry
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup chopped carrots (I like to cut these pretty small)
1 small chopped onion
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
1-2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Brown both sides in a hot dutch over with the oil, about 3-4 mins per side. Set aside on a plate.
2. Add carrots and onions to the dutch oven and cook until softened. Add tomato paste and cook an additional minent.
3. Add white wine, bring to a boil for 1-2 mins. (I like to do this to cook off some of the alcohol.)
4. Return beef to pot, add herbs and garlic(you could put them in some cheese cloth, but I don't bother). Add enough chicken stock to come up about 3/4 of the way up the beef.
5. Simer covered for about 3 hours.

This also reheats really well. I would store the beef and sauce separately, so that you can remove any fat from the sauce.