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.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Pavlova

Looking for a dessert that won’t pop the buttons after your Christmas dinner?  Pavlova makes for a light ending, while still being rich enough to make it feel special. 

Serves 4 – 6, but this recipe doubles well.  Just increase the whipping time to 3 – 5 minutes, and spread the meringue mixture into a 10 inch circle instead of an 8 inch.

3 egg whites, room temperature
⅓ c sugar
¾ t cornstarch
½ t white vinegar
¼ t vanilla
1 oz boiling water
1 cup whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 c raspberries
½ c pomegranate seeds

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla until just combined.  Add the boiling water; beat with an electric mixer on high for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until mixture forms stiff peaks.

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper.  Using a rubber spatula, mound the egg white mixture into the middle, then shape into a rough 8-inch circle.  Don’t worry about getting the top smooth, you want texture.

Bake in the middle of a preheated 350 F oven for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 200 F and bake for a further 40 minutes.  Turn oven off, and leave in for an hour.  Transfer pizza pan to a rack and allow to cool completely.

Whip the cream along with 2 T sugar until stiff peaks form.  Invert pavlova onto serving platter (bottom of pavlova will now be the top).  Cover with the cream, and arrange fruit over top. 

Cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours, or serve immediately.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Best Roasted Potatoes

My mother made the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever tasted.  For years, I’ve been trying to make mine as well as hers, but I usually skipped one of her steps – parboiling.  There’s no getting around it, superior roasted potatoes start with parboiling.  Skip this step and the potatoes tend to stick to the pan, don’t brown as quickly, and don’t take on the same golden, crackly crust.    

Animal fats work best, be it beef, pork, duck, goose or chicken.  Vegetable-based fats don’t impart the same level of flavour as animal fats, and the potatoes don’t crisp up as nicely.

This is more of a method than a recipe, but here goes:

As many baking (Russet) potatoes as you need, peeled and cut into 3 – 4 cm chunks
Animal fat of your choice (about 2 teaspoons per potato)

Spoon the fat into a dark, non-stick pan.  Put pan into cold oven, and turn oven on; preheat to 325 F.

Put potatoes into a pot large enough to accommodate them, and cover with water.  Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and boil for five minutes.  Drain.  Return potatoes to empty pot, put lid on, and bash the potatoes around a bit by shaking the pan (this roughs up their surface a bit, which allows the fat to cling better to the potatoes).

Once the oven is preheated, carefully remove the pan from the oven, and gently put the potatoes into the pan.  Baste the potatoes on all sides with the fat using a pastry brush.  Return the pan to the oven, and bake for 1-1/2 hours, basting every once in a while and turning the potatoes as needed for even browning.