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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Heavenly Wings

Let me begin by saying that while I did come up with this recipe, I did not name it. That distinction goes to Kim. She’s a chicken fanatic and this has recently become her favourite recipe.

“Heavenly Wings” is a very simple dish, with just a few ingredients.

24 pieces split chicken wings or 12 drumsticks

For best results use disassembled chicken wings (drumettes and the part that isn’t drumettes which-i-don’t-know-what-they-are-called wingettes?) You can use drumsticks as we did for the pictures here but Heavenly Drumsticks doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Note: whatever you use it -must- still have the skin. Chicken skin is where the flavour lives.

Mix together
1/2 c white rice flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture making sure it is completely coated. Dredging in rice flour won’t seem like there’s even remotely enough coating but trust me, it will be perfect. You don’t need egg or oil or batter, the chicken itself has enough moisture to get the appropriate amount of coating. Deep fry the chicken in a wok (if you don’t have fire insurance use a deep fryer) for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is done and the coating is golden brown.

While that’s happening, mix together:
1/2 c scallions (foodie for green onions)
1/4 c chili garlic sauce
3/4 c maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce

When done, set the chicken to drain on a paper towel. Drain oil from wok into a heat safe container for disposal, keeping 2 tbsp in the wok. If you used a deep fryer, add the oil to a large fry pan. Heat oil until very hot (but not smoking) add chicken to wok.

Add chili sauce to wok and stir quickly to evenly coat the chicken. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

The rice flour stays crispy and the sauce is sweet and spicy awesome. A wing night winner.

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But -I- Like It…

Funny thing happened last weekend. I was feeling a bit creative and we had some watermelon we had to use up so I thought I’d try making a savoury salad out of it. Kim was pretty much “sure, sounds interesting” which she most often is unless chocolate and chicken are involved (that’s another post I think).

The recipe was pretty simple:

2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon

2-3 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped

some sea salt & quite a bit of freshly ground black pepper

1/3-1/2 cup soft goat cheese in small teaspoon sized pieces

1/3 cup fig flavoured balsamic vinegar

I love the Presidents Choice Fig Balsamic. You could use any kind, or just plain, although the fig stuff has a really nice, sweet tone that really shines in a reduction, which is what I did.

Just prior to serving, mix all but the balsamic & cheese together. The salt really brings out the liquid in the watermelon so you want to leave it as late as you can before serving to avoid serving soup instead of salad.

Put the Balsamic in a sauce pan, bring to boil, turn down to medium high and reduce by half (should only take a few minutes). Plate your watermelon mixture, top with cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.

I absolutely loved this. The savoury salt, pepper (again with the fruit and pepper) and the sweet yet astringent balsamic works brilliantly with the creamy goat cheese and sweet watermelon.

Now here’s the thing.  Kim takes a bite and looks at me, looks at the dog and says it tastes like vomit. (I may be paraphrasing here). She went and made herself a green salad. It worked out for me as I got to eat her portion as well. Now I wasn’t really offended as it -is- kind of out there (but not too far) but it was pretty unusual for us to have that differing of an opinion on something I’ve made.

It’s probably not too surprising that I liked it. To this day, my 93 year old grandmother won’t eat watermelon without salt. Maybe it’s a genetic thing.

Anyone have any stories about things you’ve made that you loved your spouse/family hated? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Santa Fe Quinoa

Santa Fe Quinoa, grilled Mahi Mahi & Fresh Farmers Market Salad

If you’ve read this post, you’ll know I’m a pretty big fan of quinoa. A couple of weeks ago, I created a new recipe using quinoa which I had the opportunity to make again tonight (and actually figure out how I made it). It’s a simple, tasty side dish that’s gluten free and high in protein and most importantly, taste.

2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

1/2 dehydrated corn (I used NOW Corn Off the Cob. There’s no reason you couldn’t use canned corn or even fresh corn cut from a cob)

1 tblsp Sun Dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder (depending on your tolerance for heat)

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pot, stir, bring to boil, turn down to medium low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all water is evaporated.

Serve hot with butter or cold as a salad

makes 4-6 servings

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This is the best dessert I have ever made. I had family over about a month ago and hadn’t really planned for a dessert. People were eating a lot and there seemed to be a possibility that food would be gone before the appetites were. I figured I’d better throw something together quick. We had a nice ripe pineapple and I love grilled pineapple. Of course I couldn’t -just- grill pineapple. When I grill pineapple, I like to grind some fresh ground black pepper on to each side. If you look back to my strawberries post, you’ll see I’m a fan of fruit & pepper. This is tasty on it’s own, but I needed something to make it a dessert to remember. I thought I could make a quick caramel sauce and serve it with yogurt. That would be pretty good. But not wow good. I poked my head into my spice cabinet and started smelling spice bottles. The second bottle I opened was coriander seed. To be honest, I’m not even sure why we have coriander seed. I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Maybe in a curry. Maybe. You may not be familiar with coriander, but you are almost certainly familiar with the plants other name, cilantro. I’m one of those people that isn’t fond of cilantro. In small amounts it’s ok but it can really be overpowering to me. I took an online test to see if I’m a “supertaster” but if I am, it’s mostly to bitter.The test said I wouldn’t like coffee so basically it’s a useless test.

Anyways. On to coriander seed. (it’s actually ground, dried fruit and not a seed at all but that’s what it’s called) Completely different taste and smell. What it smells -like- I can’t really say. Floral, fruity, nutty? Go smell some. For some reason this just seemed like the thing to add to my caramel sauce. That and rum.

Pepper Grilled Pineapple

Peel & core 1/2 ripe pineapple. Cut into 3/4″ thick slices

sprinkle freshly ground coarse black pepper on each side

Grill on BBQ over high heat for about 3 minutes a side until warmed through and you have some nice grill marks

Coriander Seed Rum Caramel Sauce*

1/4c butter (sorry no margarine allowed)

1/4 c granulated sugar (I used organic cane)

2 tblsp dark maple syrup

2 tsp ground coriander seed

1/2 tsp nutmeg (a pinch actually)

Pinch of salt

50ml dark rum (a free sample/airplane bottle size)

*as with all my recipes these amounts are best guesses. Your mileage may vary.

Combine all ingredients except rum in a shallow saucepan and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted. Boil mixture for 1 minute until sugar starts to thicken and turn brown (err…you know -caramel- coloured)

Add rum & stir. (At this point you could probably flambe but I haven’t checked the fire extinguisher for a while)

Serve the pineapple over vanilla yogurt and spoon sauce over the pineapple. It would also be great with vanilla bean ice cream. Serves about 6.

I’ve now served this twice, and the response from everyone is basically, ” I’ve never tasted anything like it but I love it!”

Coriander. Who knew.

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Deep Fried Panko Babybel

Is there anything better than deep fried cheese? Crispy outside, melty & gooey inside. Here’s a simple 10 minute appetizer that everyone will love (unless you’re dairy intolerant that is 😉 . And it looks great too.

When you think of deep fried cheese, you usually think of cheese “sticks”. That is, buy a block of cheese, cut it into chunks, bread and deep fry. This version is a bit different and even easier as the cheese we are going to use is Babybel. Those tasty little spheroids of gouda with the obnoxious TV commercials. (OK, so Babybel isn’t exactly top line cheese but we’re deep frying it people!). There’s no risky cheese chunking and they are quite attractive on the plate.

The recipe is simple:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 pkg Babybel gouda* (6pcs)
  • Salt, Pepper, Cayenne or Chipoltle to taste
  • 3/4 cup Panko Bread crumbs. Because I’m gluten free, I used Kinnikinnick GF panko crumbs but any bread crumb should work. Use a Panko crumb if possible as it provides a crispier coating.
  • 2 cups oil for frying

*Babybel does make Swiss & Cheddar “Flavoured” cheeses but I don’t think they actually are swiss & cheddar so I’d say stick with gouda.

Lightly beat the egg in a small dish

Peel the wax coating from the cheese (I didn’t have to tell you that right?)

One at a time, dip the cheese in the egg, coating it completely.

Add spices to breadcrumbs and mix

Roll the egg coated cheese in the crumb. Place on a plate. Repeat for remainder.

Let rest for 5 minutes. (don’t cheat here, this is important!)

Carefully repeating the egg and crumb process with the already coated cheese. This double coating is the secret to a really great deep fried cheese. You need a good coating of crumb so that the cheese is trapped and doesn’t melt out into the oil. This trick gives you the best crunch. By letting the first layer of crumb set with the egg, you also reduce the chance of the crumb falling off in the oil.

Deep fry 1 or 2 at a time in about 350* oil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is just beginning to oooooze out.

Remove from oil and pat with paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve immediately. I haven’t tried this but you could probably prepare these in advance and reheat in the oven for about 10 minutes @ 200*F. Not quite the same but if you are serving lots, it may be an option.

Serve with you favorite dipping sauce. Some ideas

Wasabi Mayo – Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Salt & Wasabi powder (probably not a good sauce if you added anything but salt & pepper to the breadcrumbs)

Chipotle Mayo – Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Salt & Chipotle Chili powder

Fresh Basil, Garlic, Lemon Juice & Olive Oil

Update: just as I published this I had an additional idea that you could easily put a slit in the Babybel and stuff them with various things prior to coating with the crumb. Well, by various, I mean bacon. But you could use any cooked meat (bacon, crab, shrimp etc) or maybe roasted garlic clove, pickled asparagus, hot pickled peppers. Mmmm. (I need to go eat something…)

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Quinoa Salad

If you’ve never tried Quinoa.. Wait I should start that again. Have you ever heard of Quinoa? Quinoa (keen-wa) is a South American grain-like seed which was known by the Incas as chisaya mama or mother of all grains * It is grown today mainly in Peru.

Quinoa “has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest” *

Quinoa in its natural state has a bitter coating which has been an issue with acceptance in North America. This can be alleviated by soaking for several hours prior to preparing.  The first time I had it 10 years ago or so, I did not like it due to this problem but I love the stuff now. I think advances in processing and selective breeding have greatly reduced this bitterness and most Quinoas available (at least in Edmonton) shouldn’t require the soaking step. Read the package instructions.

Now back to “if you’ve never tried quinoa”, it’s a simple to prepare, healthy and versatile ingredient. You can use it as a high protein breakfast cereal (think hot with cinnamon & brown sugar), in pilafs and risottos (or any rice dish) and makes a great gluten free couscous. The recipe here is a simple salad that we have all the time.

Prepare 1 cup quinoa according to package instructions (usually 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa for 20 minutes)

Let cool for 30 minutes or so. In reality I probably let it cool for about the amount of time it takes to prepare the rest of the ingredients.  You can serve it hot if you prefer.

Seed & chop 1 medium red bell pepper into medium chunks (~1/2 inch)

Chop 3-4 green onions

Add the following to a bowl

1/4 c olive oil

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt & freshly ground pepper

Mix the dressing with a fork.

Combine quinoa, onions & peppers and toss with dressing. Serve. Goes great with just about anything.

A side note, our son’s girlfriend is a type 1 diabetic and told us that this “grain” salad hardly moved her blood sugar levels. She was astonished. The carbs in quinoa are complex and combined with the high protein count, quinoa probably should be in every diabetics food toolkit.

One final note, the Wikipedia article mentions that quinoa is a candidate for a crop on long term human spaceflight missions. How cool is that..

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On Saturday Kim picked up some nice organic strawberries and she suggested we make some labneh to go with them for Mothers Day dessert. For those of you who don’t know what labneh is (like either of us did until I looked it up yesterday), it’s simply strained yogurt. It’s also known as Greek yogurt and is the base for tatziki. (tatziki too runny? Use labneh!) We were first introduced to it  when we saw a recipe for labneh, maple syrup & roasted pecans on a Food Network program months ago, tried it and liked it quite a bit.

Labneh has a really nice, firm texture like cream cheese so our first thought was to make a strawberry cheesecake. This is something we still want to do as I think it will be really tasty and since full fat yogurt is only 3.5% fat, it’s a much healthier option the regular cheesecake made with cream cheese.

But we didn’t make the cheesecake. Yesterday, I was poking around in the fridge and saw we had some fresh basil left over from margherita pizzas last week. I had one of those “aha” moments and knew dessert was going to go in a different direction. The recipe appeared to me as if I was channeling Iron Chef. Labneh with fresh basil, strawberries and…black pepper. You may not know it but basil is a member of the mint family and goes quite well with fruit and sweet ingredients. I’ve always wanted to use black pepper in a recipe with fruit, especially strawberries so this seemed like the perfect combination of flavours.

Preparing the Labneh

You do need to be a bit organized to make labneh as it takes several hours to prepare. Actually it takes about 5 minutes to prepare but several hours to drain. We used two large containers (4 cups) of 3.5% fat yogurt. Traditionally you would use plain yogurt but because we were making a dessert we used French Vanilla flavoured. You can use any flavoured yogurt. To prepare, line the bottom of a colander or strainer with a large basket coffee filter (or several overlapped smaller ones), cheesecloth or even a paper towel. Place colander in a large bowl or pot so that has an inch or so of space for liquid to collect, cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

This is the amount of liquid that drained from about 750ml of yogurt. This liquid is whey and I’m sure I could make something with it, but don’t know what just yet. Our cat & dog seemed to enjoy it.

Strawberry Basil Pepper Sauce

This sauce is very simple and can (and probably should) be prepared immediately before serving. Since this is the first recipe I’m posting here, I do have to add this disclaimer. I never measure when I cook and I don’t record what I am using  so everything you see here that has an amount noted will be accurate to plus or minus 50% 19 times out of 20.

5 tblsp butter (no you can’t use margarine – ever)

3 tblsp sugar

8-10 large ripe strawberries diced

6-8 good twists of the black pepper grinder

pinch of salt

4-5 large fresh basil leaves chopped

1/2 c dark rum

Melt butter and sugar over medium high heat until sugar begins to caramelize (just begins to brown)

Add strawberries, pepper, basil & rum. You could flambe at this point if you were really adventurous and have fire insurance.

Stir over heat for 3-4 minutes until strawberries are reduced and sauce has thickened.

Remove from heat.

Spoon sauce into small serving dish (I used a sushi plate). Add a spoonful of  the labneh and top with a drizzle of the sauce. Serve with strawberries and a fresh basil leaf as garnish.

Everyone really enjoyed this.  It is has many layers of flavour and is certainly not your average dessert. As one guest put it,  “I’ve never tasted anything like this before but I really like it”

Try it and I think you will too.

Labneh (greek yogurt cheese)

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