Sunday, May 14, 2017

Southeast Asian Pork Patties

The fresh flavours of these patties go with just about anything, whether the rest of your menu is Asian-inspired or not. 

1 lb ground pork
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ t powdered ginger
½ t sesame oil
¼ c chopped cilantro
¼ c panko breadcrubs
1 egg
½ t salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix with hands until uniformly blended.

Form into four patties.  Brown in a lightly-greased frying pan over medium low heat for roughly eight minutes per side.

Serve hot, with soy sauce for dipping, if desired.

Tex-Mex Cilantro Crepe Pinwheels

These pretty appetizers are lighter and fresher tasting than tortilla pinwheels. 

2 eggs
Pinch salt
½ c flour
½ c milk
¼ c chopped cilantro
1 T butter, melted

8 oz / 250 g cream cheese at room temperature
½ t chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 green onions, finely sliced
¼ c red pepper, finely chopped
¼ c pickled jalapenos (or less, depending on taste), well drained and finely chopped
¼ c black olives, well drained and finely chopped

Put eggs and salt in a medium bowl and whisk well.  Add flour all at once, and whisk until smooth.  Gradually add the milk, whisking after each addition, until you have a smooth, thin batter.  Add cilantro, and stir through to combine.

Melt butter in small dish, and put aside.

Put a 17 cm non-stick frying pan over medium heat until hot.  Brush some melted butter onto the surface of the hot pan using a pastry brush.  Lifting the pan off the heat and tilting it away from you, add 2 oz / ¼ c batter to the pan, tilting the pan in a counter-clockwise motion until the surface has been covered.  Return to the heat just until the sides start to pull away from the pan.  Flip the crepe over, and cook on the second side for ten seconds or so.  Turn out onto clean kitchen towel and continue with next crepe.  You should have enough for six crepes.

In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, chili powder and black pepper.  Using a fork, mix until well combined.  Add green onion, red pepper, jalapenos and olives.  Mix.

Arrange the crepes so that the ‘pretty side’ is facing down.  Divide the cheese mixture between the six crepes.  Spread out evenly on each, leaving a 1 cm space around the circumference.   Roll each into a tight cigar shape.  Lay each rolled crepe onto the centre of a piece of plastic wrap which is at least two inches longer that the crepe.  Roll the plastic wrap around the crepe, hold both ends, and spin the crepe so that both ends twist like a candy wrapper.

Place on flat surface in fridge, and chill for at least one hour.  Unwrap each, and using a thin, sharp knife, cut 1 cm or so off both ends (cook’s treat).  Cut the remainder into 2 cm thick portions.  Place on platter, with a bowl of salsa in the middle.  Makes three dozen.

The 'pretty side'

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pickled Turnips

I’ve been on a North African / Middle-Eastern kick lately; I can’t get enough of the flavours.  Sumac, za’atar, ras el hanout, and harissa are all part of my spice collection now.  They’re exotic tasting, yet vaguely familiar. 

After having a very memorable falafel sandwich at Arz Fine Foods in Toronto, I wanted to whip up a batch of pickled turnips to keep on hand.  Pickled vegetables are almost always presented alongside falafels, and pickled turnips are among my favourite. 

Their hot pink colour comes from beets, and their taste has a subtle horseradish flavour which I love.

For three 500 ml bottles you'll need:
1 c white vinegar
1-1/2 c water
¼ c sugar
1 t salt
3 small cloves garlic, crushed
3 small beets, peeled and cut into ½ cm matchsticks
4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into ½ cm chunks or matchsticks

Sterilize jars.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Put one piece of garlic in each jar, followed by a sixth of the beets.  Add the turnips, packing them in as tightly as you can, and trying to keep all the vegetables below the neck of the jar.  Top each with the remaining beets.   

Pour the boiling brine into each jar to just below the rim, and screw on lid finger-tight.  Sit on rack until cooled, tighten lids fully, and keep in fridge.  Let sit for at least two days, giving the jar a gentle shake whenever you think of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chana Masala (Curried Chick Peas)

I love a good curry, and this is the one I make most often.  Aside from the cilantro, I always have everything on hand to make this.  Keep peeled ginger well-wrapped in the freezer, and grate it from frozen with a microplane as needed. 

1 T vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 t cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece of ginger, minced
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
½ t turmeric
1 t paprika
1 t garam masala
½ t chili powder
¼ t cayenne pepper (medium heat, use ½ t for hot)
400 ml can diced tomatoes
540 ml can chick peas, drained and rinsed
Small handful cilantro, chopped
½ t salt
1 t sugar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add oil, followed by onion.  Cook, stirring often, until onion begins to turn golden.  Add the cumin seeds and cook another couple of minutes.  

Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, garam masala, chili powder and
cayenne.  Stir well to combine.  Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, for approximately five minutes.

Add tomatoes and stir through.  Bring mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook for ten minutes with the lid slightly ajar.

Add chick peas and half of the cilantro; stir through.  If mixture is very thick, thin out a bit with water.  Bring back to a simmer and cook until chick peas are heated through. 

Add salt, sugar, black pepper and lime juice.  Stir to combine.

Garnish with remaining cilantro.  Serve with basmati rice, raita and a salad.

Makes 3 servings.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Coconut Crave Cake

I’ve had a persistent craving for coconut the past few weeks; I couldn’t get my mind off it.  Thankfully, this densely aromatic, subtly sweet cake proved to be the perfect antidote.

The coconut milk in this cake doubles as both the fat and the liquid.  Please don’t consider substituting low-fat coconut milk; the end result will be lackluster.     

This comes together incredibly quickly.  I prefer this cake as-is, but you could easily guild the lily with vanilla icing and toasted flaked coconut.

2 eggs
400 ml full-fat coconut milk
½ c sugar
1 t vanilla
1-1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 c flaked sweetened coconut + extra for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour an 8 X 8 metal pan.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs.  Add coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Stir gently until sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir through to combine.  Add coconut and mix with fork to combine.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix with whisk until just combined.  Pour into pan, and sprinkle top with another 2 tablespoons or so of coconut.

Bake on middle rack for 35 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on rack.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pork Stroganoff

The classic beef stroganoff recipe calls for beef tenderloin.  This version uses pork tenderloin in its place, which is equally tender and delicious.   

2 t vegetable oil
350 g (approx) pork tenderloin, cut into strips
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
227 g sliced mushrooms
1 c low-sodium chicken stock
2 T flour
1 t paprika
2 t soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ c frozen peas (optional)
1/3 c sour cream
Hot buttered egg noodles, to serve

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat one teaspoon oil over medium heat.  Add pork, and quickly stir-fry until pink just disappears.  Do not overcook.  Remove to bowl.

Add remaining oil to pan, and add onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it has evaporated.  Add peas, if using. 

Combine chicken stock, flour, paprika, soy and pepper in a jar; shake until smooth.  Pour over vegetables.  Cooking, stirring often, until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. 

Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the skillet, stirring until the meat is just heated through.  Remove from heat, add sour cream, and stir through until combined.

Serve over noodles.  Makes three servings.  

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Salad

This salad both looks and tastes like Christmas.  I usually serve this salad on Christmas Eve, alongside a rich, creamy, baked macaroni and cheese.  Delicious.

2 romaine hearts, cores removed and sliced crosswise into 1 cm slices
Half a head of radicchio, core removed, and sliced crosswise into 1 cm slices
¼ c sliced almonds, toasted
¼ c dried cranberries
284 ml can of mandarins, drained

1 c clementine juice (from about 10 clementines)
2 T rice vinegar
2 t sugar
½ c vegetable oil
¼ t salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

First, make dressing.  In a small saucepan, combine clementine juice, vice vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Reduce gradually, swirling the pot occasionally, until you’re left with ¼ cup of liquid. 

Cool slightly; pour into jar.  Add vegetable oil, salt, and black pepper.  Cover and shake well. 

Soak cut romaine and radicchio in a sink full of cold water until crisped.  Dry in vegetable spinner and put into large bowl.  Toss the lettuces with the dressing, top with the almonds, cranberries and mandarins, and serve immediately.

Serves six.