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Thursday, February 25, 2010

My 100th Post!!!

My 100th Post and 1 year of blogging! Can you believe it! Time has really flown. I definitely need to thank everyone who has read my blog, eaten my food, run out to the store for me, and been the guinea pigs for the not so good ones

So today, I would just like to take a look back at my all time favorites in the first 100… It was so hard to choose, but here we go!

Let’s start with chicken. I have no idea how many times I have cooked chicken in the last year, but here are some of my favorites--- roasted, grilled, rotisserie, marinated… you name it, I’ve tried it. After all, chicken is probably one of the most versatile meats, but it can also be incredibly boring if you don’t know what to do with it. I know we have all felt that way about chicken at some point! So, here’s another look at some great chicken dishes!

Rotisserie ChickenKao Soi CurryBBQ Chicken BurgersQuick Easy Chicken CurryMom's Soy Sauce ChickenCrunchy Cornmeal ChickenSavory 10 min Chicken BreastChicken ShawarmaRoasted Chicken with Balsamic

And then of course, we can’t forget all the baking that’s happened. I never really considered myself a baker in the past, because I generally don’t like to follow recipes. I like the freedom to add a pinch of this and a dash of that to anything I create and never felt that baking gave me as much of that freedom as I wanted. Well, after a year, I have found a way. Yes, there have been some failures, but I have had fun baking, taken some chances, and learned along the way!

Cinnamon BunsWarm Lemon Polenta CakesDelicious Lemon Cake with Lemon GlazePatriotic Vanilla Cake with Butter Cream FrostingDark Chocolate Dipped Citrus BiscottiNaughty (or Healthy) Chocolate-Banana Cupcakes Apple Tart with Orange Zest & Cinnamon Thumb Print CookiesHappy Valentine's Day!

And on top of all that baking and chicken, there is the rest. The many meals, snacks, treats, and indulgences which I have made for myself and for others. Actually looking over my blog to choose my favorites was a little nostalgic. I wanted to eat it all again…. And I am sure I will!

Brioche French ToastQuick Tomato & Egg SkilletCumin Scented Lentil Soup Fresh PestoRavioles du RoyansThe Story of MomoChinese Steamed DumplingsBC Wild Spring SalmonYummy Grilled PizzaZucchini Fritters with TzatzikiSweet and Savory PopoversEasy Pork Tenderloin with Maple and MustardEasy Lamb Osso BucoChili Dusted Steak Wraps with Red Cabbage SlawRoasted Chicken with Balsamic

So, here’s to another great year of cooking, sharing, eating, and entertaining! I can’t wait to see what this year brings! The journey is just beginning...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Flavorful, Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks

I wasn’t feeling great today. The temperature has dropped, it’s raining outside, and I feel just miserable. My feet and head have been cold all day. So, when I got home from work, I needed food. And not just any food, but warming, stick to my gut food. Food that would fill my kitchen with comforting aromas without causing too much stress. And here it is. The dish that saved me. Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks. Need I say more?

Flavorful, Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks
Serves 4

1 1/2 kg Lamb Shanks, cut into about 8 pieces
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
3 tbsp + 1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, cut into large dice
3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 cloves Garlic, peeled whole
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 liter Stock (I used Veggie Stock)
1 cup Water
1 cup Dried White Beans, soaked in cool water for 1 hour then drained

Place the lamb In a large resealable plastic bag. Add the flour, salt, and pepper, close the bag, and toss around until lamb pieces are coated.

In a large oven proof dish, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil. Brown the lamb on all sides and set aside. In the same dish that you browned the lamb, add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sautee the onions, rosemary, garlic cloves and lemon zest for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and the Dijon mustard. Stir to coat.

Add the stock and water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the beans. Place the lamb back into the dish so that each piece is about halfway covered with the bean and broth mixture, cover, and roast in a 180 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours, until the lamb is tender. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day... again.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great reason to celebrate your loved ones. However, somehow, this celebration has become a materialistic, consumer driven holiday where people expect iphones and computers and other lavish gifts.

What happened to simple, thoughtful gifts like spending time doing something together or making something for each other. After all, more and more couples and families are driven apart by demanding jobs and we are all constantly competing for time with electronics and other media. Why not enjoy this one day together, perhaps relaxing at home, having a picnic in the park, and just enjoying each other’s company? After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

So, here’s an idea for you... spend some time together in the kitchen making these great cookies that show just how much you love each other. Then, share these home baked cookies and enjoy each other.

All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
"Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 24 Heart Shaped Cookies (about 3 inches)

2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp Butter, room temperature
1 cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Slowly and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated (Note, this dough is best when worked least).

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Roll out the dough, one disc at a time, between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the cutouts onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.

This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Egg-less Royal Icing
Makes enough to ice all 24 cookies

2 cup Powder Sugar
4 tbsp Milk
4 tsp Light Corn Syrup**
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
Food Coloring

Stir together the icing sugar, milk, and corn syrup. Beat in the almond extract. Add more milk or more powdered sugar depending on consistency desired. I find this recipe works great to make the thick outlining icing, and adding 1-2 tbsp of milk is enough to make the icing good for flooding.

**If you don’t have light corn syrup, heat 1/3 cup water with 1 ¼ cup white sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti Recipe

These are so delicious! In fact, so delicious that I think I have found my new favorite cookie. I mean, I already have a huge love of biscotti, but these ones are to die for. They are perfectly chocolately without being too sweet. And they are the perfect companion to all kinds of drinks… coffee, tea, hot cocoa. I have even been re-living my childhood by dipping them into glasses of cold milk.

I like to double this recipe and freeze some. That way, I always have them on hand. And, you can eat them right out of the freezer! Delicious!

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cups White Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 cups Walnuts, chopped into small chunks
1 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped into small chunks
3 Eggs
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to
180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit).

Mix together flours, cocoa, baking soda, salt, walnuts and chocolate.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until pale
Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, stirring slowly until a combined. This will make a dry, stiff dough.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, and form 3 logs about 12 inches long. Place each log onto a lined baking sheet, ensuring that there is space between the logs. Flatten the logs so that they are about 1 inch high.

Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 20-24 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool so that they can be handled, about 15 minutes
Move the cooled logs to a cutting board and using a using a serrated knife, cut into diagonal slices about 3/4 inch thick. Place the slices on a lined baking sheet, cut side down.

Bake for another 10-12 minutes until firm to touch and completely dry
Cool completely on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 week, or freeze between sheets of parchment or wax paper for up to 2 months.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Galette & Mulberry Jam Galette

Tea for two. Sounds great right? The problem with tea for two is that you need some sweets to go with the tea. And, generally, I like to make these sweets myself. After all, there is nothing like a hot cup of tea and some fresh pastries to set the mood.

So, back to the dilemma… only two people. Need variety. Recipes too large. Don’t have time. What to do?

Well, here is an idea. Make a full recipe of pastry crust, and divide it into 2 to make to different desserts. I made 2 galettes which were so easy and which I baked together on the same sheet. You could also divide the dough and make 1 galette and 4-6 tarts for a different presentation. Up to you.

Cinnamon Apple Galette and Mulberry Jam Galette
Makes 2 Galettes that serve 2 for tea (generously!)

For the Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
1 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Cold Butter, diced
3-4 tbsp Ice Water

In a medium bowl or a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the cold butter pieces and cut in using a pastry blender or by pulsing in the food processor.

Add ice water, 1/2 tbsp at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Gather into 2 balls and pat each one into a disk. Refrigerate the two dough discs for 30 minutes before rolling out.

When ready to use, roll out each disc on a lightly floured board until about 1/2 cm thick.

For the Cinnamon Apple Galette
Zest of half a Lemon
Juice of half a Lemon
2 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Raisins
2 Large Apples, peeled and diced

In a medium bowl, mix together lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Add the raisins and the apples and toss to coat. If you can, let stand for about 30 minutes so the flavors can meld together.

Preheat the oven to
180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit)..

Place 1 piece of the rolled dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Spoon the apple mixture onto the dough, leaving 4 cm border all the way around. Fold the border over the filling and press the overlapping dough together.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until tart is golden and filling is bubbly.

For the Mulberry Jam Galette
Zest of half a Lemon
1/4 cup Mulberry Jam (or any other fruit jam)
Mint leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to
180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit)..

Place 1 piece of the rolled dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the jam onto the dough, leaving 4 cm border all the way around. Fold the border over the filling and press the overlapping dough together. Sprinkle with lemon zest.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until tart is golden and filling is bubbly. Garnish with mint leaves before serving.