Tag Archives: cheese

Carrot-Zucchini Bread

19 Aug

Thank you Alice for the amazing tip on the easiest apple pie ever! I now have a packet of puff pastry in my freezer for those last minute dessert needs.

So we’ve explored quite a few fruit desserts recently, but how about a sweet vegetable bread?

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Being the end of summer here in Minnesota everyone has an overabundance of zucchini from their gardens, so why not make bread with it?! This recipe from Leite’s Culinaria intrigued me because of the addition of carrots and candied ginger to a basic zucchini bread recipe. Yum!

Carrots & Zucchini

I grated the zucchini and carrots in my greatly loved, ancient but usable food processor.

grate!

They can very easily be grated with a hand grater as well. Just take care with your knuckles!

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 016

See, so pretty!

My friend and sous chef Karen measured out all the dry ingredients.

dry ingredients

We got to try the candied ginger, which was delicious and quite expensive. After a bit of poking around, I think I might try to make my own as it doesn’t look too difficult to do. David Lebovitz has a lovely recipe that I mean to try shortly.

candied ginger

I mixed the eggs in the mixer until they were frothy,

eggs

then added sugar, oil and vanilla. Once they were all well combined

eggs and sugar

I tossed in the shredded veggies and mixed those in as well.

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 039

At that point the dry ingredients were tossed in all at once and stirred together just until combined.

add dry to wet

While I was mixing and combining, Karen had gotten a loaf pan and a muffin pan all ready for the batter by greasing them with spray oil.

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We filled the baking pans and into the oven they went.

symmetrical

Because the recipe gave baking directions for the loaf but not the muffins, I improvised and checked the muffins at 30 mins. They were perfectly done.

funfetti

They looked like party muffins with the green and orange flecks and then every once in a while there was a spicy chunk of candied ginger to liven things up.

The loaf baked for a full hour at 325°F/162°C.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger loaf

It was quite delicious plain, but slathered with butter is even better.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger

I experimented with the zucchini loaf and some sharp cheddar in trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It was quite tasty, but the slices of the bread should be very thin to allow the cheese to melt before the bread starts to burn.

Carrot Zucchini Bread grilled cheese

CARROT-ZUCCHINI BREAD RECIPE
via Leite’s Culinaria
Makes two loaves or 24 muffins

INGREDIENTS
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup zucchini, grated

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (162°C). Coat two loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter. You could also make them in two muffin tins.
2. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Stir in the salt and candied ginger.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the canola oil, sugar, and vanilla, whisking vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the carrots and zucchini.
4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture all at once and stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
5. Bake until the zucchini bread is well risen and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for a loaf pan or 30 minutes for muffin tins. Let the zucchini bread cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them and finish cooling them right side up on the rack. Of course, a thin slice for the cook while the loaves are warm isn’t out of the question.

Best Burger… Aussie Style

15 Oct

Aussies have a strange adoration of beet, which we call beetroot. We all grew up with pieces of pickled beetroot in our salad rolls and sandwiches. And burgers. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I had the un-pickled variety of beetroot. B’s salad looked deeee-licious.

I don’t mind a hamburger. A good hamburger. This recipe is for a patty that I think is great. Yes, I am selfishly using this blog as my personal recipe file.

It is up to you what you want to add to your burger, but if you want to fly the Aussie flag, by rights you should add some pickled beetroot.

The patty is made with…


Minced beef, red onion, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, Worcestershire sauce, and a little butter.

I chopped up the onion, and cooked it in a fry pan in butter. I like it cooked on a low heat until it is starting to brown. While it is cooking I minced up the garlic, and chopped some parsley, sage and rosemary.



I also made sure the minced meat was not too wet. This meat I bought at the farmers’ market (I love that place) and it was quite wet. So I used some paper towel to remove some of the liquid.

I put all of the ingredients in to a bowl together, including some Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, then mixed them well with my hands. I formed patties, and then the hardest part, after smelling the cooking onions, was putting them in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

I cook the patties in the same pan as the onions, and my method for melting the cheese is to add it to the burger as the second side cooks.

I like lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, cheese, a little tomato sauce (ketchup), and of course…… beetroot, piled up on a toasted bun with my burger patty.

This patty is versatile though. I also like tomato, lettuce and Roquefort cheese. Try that on a day you want to fly a french flag. And perhaps wear stripes.

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Best Burger Patty

ingredients

1 red onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
500g (a pound) of minced beef
A few grinds of black pepper

Melt the butter in a fry pan and cook the onion until beginning to brown. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Form in to patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cook over a medium low heat. I use the same pan that I cook the onions, as it has some nice caramelisation already starting.

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To a toasted bun, add your favourite fillings, along with this flavoursome hamburger patty.

Savory Cake

24 Sep

I need to eat more smoked fish! That smoked trout recipe of Alice’s looks like it would be delicious, as well as a lovely and unique addition to any party.

I got this recipe from our friend Deb, who lives in Paris and is always making the most gorgeous dishes. When I heard about this savory cake, it reminded me of the torta salgada that we used to eat in Brazil. I simply had to have Deb’s recipe! One of the things that I love about it is that it’s very adaptable. You can add whatever combination of meats and vegetables that you happen to have on hand to create a dish that’s perfect for you.

I had some smoked salmon in my fridge so I poked around a little more and found some cheese and dill that would complement the salmon quite nicely. You could also add capers and lemon zest if you had them on hand.

Mix up the batter,

Then mix in your choice of ingredients (OK, that doesn’t look terribly appetizing, but just wait until it is baked),

Pour into a baking dish – I used a pie pan – and bake. As a bonus, it will make your kitchen smell really good.

Then serve with a simple mixed green salad and possibly a dollop of sour cream for a nice light meal.

I think next time, I’ll try one with artichokes. What think you, Alice?

Savory Cake

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup grated cheese (such as gruyere or emmental)

protein or vegetables of your choice

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C

Beat eggs with the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Little by little add the warm milk and oil. Add the grated cheese. Cut the meat and vegetables or whatever you are adding to your cake into small pieces and add to the dough. Put everything in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cake cool before removing from pan.

You can add whatever you like in the basic dough, such as:

7 oz smoked salmon and 10 chives

7 oz of cooked chicken, a shallot and tarragon

8 oz artichoke hearts, 2 oz green olives, lemon juice, salt and pepper

2 tomatoes, 8 oz mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, basil, salt and pepper

French Onion Soup

18 Aug

Those caramelized onions of Alice’s made me drool. They looked so good! That inspired me to make French onion soup.  It’s definitely one of my favorite soups and it’s such a classic. Julia Child was known for her onion soup recipe and it just so happens that this week would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. I also have my Dad’s Julia Child cookbook which is such a treasure.  So I pulled out the book and dove in.

This recipe is simple if you follow the recipe, especially if you read Alice’s post first. She will guide you along in the onion caramelizing process. It’s not a quick recipe, but it makes your house smell really good and is just the thing to make on a nice cool day with friends. ESPECIALLY with friends.

First chop up onions.

Then over medium low heat, melt butter and add to it some oil and then the whole batch of chopped onions.

Cover and let the onions sweat over medium low heat for 15 minutes

Then remove the cover, add the salt and sugar and increase the heat. Cook for another 30-40 minutes at medium heat, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, grate about four ounces of Swiss and two ounces of Parmesan cheese.

When the onions are dark and nicely caramelized, add the flour and stir constantly for three minutes. Do as I say and not as I do on this one, as my onions were not dark enough. I was concerned with watching the clock and didn’t let them get as dark and richly caramelized as they should have.

Add one cup of the broth and stir until it is all incorporated into the flour and onion mixture. Then add the rest of the broth and the wine all at once, toss in the bay leaf and turn the heat down to medium low again and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust for salt and pepper.

While the soup is simmering, cut a baguette into thin slices, put onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is crisply toasted.

Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls, sprinkle a little of the grated cheese, top with a few of the slices of the toasted baguette and top with a 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 more minutes until the cheese is bubbly and toasted.

Serve.

We had a nice little dinner party with our soup, we started with Ina Garten’s Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta,

then served dinner with these gorgeous multicolored beets, topped with a light vinaigrette

 

Where will you take us now, Alice??

 

 

French Onion Soup

Ingredients:
5-6 cups yellow onions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef stock or 3 beef stock and 3 chicken stock
½ cup white wine
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Sliced baguette
4 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a heavy, oven-safe stock pot over medium low heat and add the butter and oil to the pot. Stir the sliced onions into the oil/butter mix, ensuring they are evenly coated. Cover the stock pot and cook for 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure they aren’t burning. The onions should be translucent and tender once finished. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the sugar and salt. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 30-40 minutes until the onions are thoroughly browned (or just follow Alice’s recipe for Caramelised Onions).

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the flour. Cook for three minutes until flour forms a thick paste. Stir in one cup of beef stock until fully combined. Add the rest of the stock, wine and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice enough baguette to have enough to float in each bowl, approximately 4-6 slices. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet into the oven. Let it toast for 5-7 minutes until the bread is crusty.

Taste the soup, adjust for seasonings and remove the bay leaf.

Ladle the soup into 4-6 oven proof bowls, sprinkle a little of the grated Swiss cheese into the soup, place one of the toasted bread slices on top of the soup and cover with ¼ cup of cheese, using the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.

Place bowls onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Then turn on the broiler and brown the cheese for 3-5 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let the bowls cool for a few minutes. Serve.

Chevre-stuffed Peppadew

18 Jun

I love the direction of our last few posts. Tapas are my favorite meals, small flavourful bites that seem more like a snack than a full meal. It allows you to taste quite a few small dishes, rather than having to commit to one full dish. I’m dying to try Alice’s croquetas soon. It might just be a good excuse for a party!

My friend Kate, a wonderful cook, introduced me to these beauties. Peppadew peppers stuffed with herbed goat cheese.

They are a little zingy, but not too spicy and are great as a little nibble.

This really takes just a few ingredients and only a couple of minutes.

Peppadew peppers, which can usually be found in the olive aisle or in the olive bar at the grocery store, chevre – a fresh, mild goat cheese, fresh herbs, fresh cracked pepper and some milk or cream to thin out the cheese.

Chop the herbs and add them to the chevre along with a couple of grinds of pepper and a splash of cream. I used thyme and rosemary, but you could use chives, oregano or even some lavender for a different flavor.

Mix until all the ingredients are combined. Then spoon the chevre mixture into a small ziplock bag. Zip the top and cut off a little corner to make a piping bag.

This is my trick for piping and filling things quickly and neatly. You can use fancy pastry bags, but this is my preferred short cut.

Squeeze the filling into the peppadew.

Fill all the peppers

Serve with a nice glass of Spanish red wine and other assorted nibbles.

Perfect for a nice summer night with friends.

Chevre-stuffed Peppadew

20 peppadew peppers
4 oz chevre (fresh goat cheese)
1 teaspoon of fresh herbs, chopped finely
1 tablespoon of cream or milk
2-3 grinds of fresh pepper

Mix the chevre, herbs, cream and pepper together. Spoon into piping bag or just a small zip top bag and cut off the corner to make a piping bag.

Squeeze the cheese mixture into the peppers. Serve.

Alright Alice, where’s the party going from here?!

Grilled dinner: Asparagus and Prosciutto Pizza and Romaine Salad

7 May

Tis the season to be grilling! Alice inspired me to make a dinner on the grill. The weather in Minnesota is not always beautiful, sunny and warm, so when we do have a beautiful day, we want to be outside soaking it in.

My friends Jill and John and their young daughter Grace are some of my favorite grilling buddies. Every once in a while, I head up to their house and spend time with them, visiting and cooking. They’ve been my willing subjects when I experiment with different dishes and this week was no exception. I tried this dish last summer and really loved the flavor of the grilled pizza crust.

I made some pizza dough and let it rise while I prepared the rest of the ingredients, there it is resting under the dishtowel. You can use pre-made pizza dough or even the pre-baked pizza crust, but I always prefer home made. This recipe is very easy to make, especially on a spring afternoon that feels like summer, or an actual summer afternoon when the weather is warm, because the dough will rise very nicely.

This pizza is mounded high with marinated shaved asparagus. The trick to shaving the asparagus is to use a vegetable peeler. Just start at the sprout end, using the woody stem part as a handle and peel/shave away until you have a mound of slivered asparagus. Toss it with the juice of half a lemon and some crushed garlic.

Cut some mozzarella into small cubes, and slice up some prosciutto.

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch circle and brush it very generously with olive oil.

After heating up the grill, carefully lay the greased dough circle onto the grill.

Close the lid and let it grill until it is solid and has some nice grill marks.

This should allow you to easily remove it from the grill, flip it over and add the toppings.

Put it back on the grill, close the lid and let it continue to cook until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned. Then slide it off the grill, cut it up and eat. Warning, this step might take various tools and more than two hands!!

It was a little tricky to make it look pretty, so bear with the lopsided pizza – it did, however, taste quite good.

Meanwhile, since the grill is already warm, why not grill up the salad too?

Cut a bunch of romaine lettuce in half, keeping the stem intact to hold the leaves together, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Marinate some shrimp in lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Wash a cup of grape or cherry tomatoes.

Grill the shrimp just until it is pink. If you use frozen pre-cooked shrimp like I did, then just put them on for a couple of minutes so they capture some of the grilled flavor and they are completely thawed.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down.

Flip after a few minutes. You want the lettuce to wilt a little and get some of the smoky grill flavor, but don’t leave it for too long or you will just have little crispy lettuce bits. Grill on each side for about three minutes each, then remove from grill and chop into bite sized chunks.

Toss with the grape tomatoes and shrimp, drizzle with olive oil and splash with red wine vinegar.

Grace really was excited about the tomatoes.

And she really enjoyed the pizza.

Pizza and salad from the grill. It’s just the thing for summer!

Grilled Pizza

I used SmittenKitchen.com for the recipe for the crust, which really was super easy. And then loosely based my pizza on her shaved asparagus pizza

1 recipe Really Simple Pizza Dough or your favorite pizza dough
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
4 oz finely sliced proscuitto
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Mix up the pizza dough and while it is resting and rising, shave half a pound or a small bunch of asparagus by using a vegetable peeler. Start at the top, at the sprout and peel down the stem, using the woody end as your handle. It’s OK if the pieces all come out different widths, it just makes the pizza more interesting. Toss the shaved asparagus with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Chop up the mozzarella cheese into small cubes, grate the Parmesan if needed and slice the prosciutto into thin strips.

Preheat your grill to about 500 degrees F or high heat.

When the dough is ready, roll or toss it if you are a fancy Italian pizza tosser, into a 12-14 inch round.  Brush one side very generously with olive oil. Put the pizza on the hot grill, olive oil side down. One thing I learned from my sadly deformed pizza, is that even though I like the taste of a thinner crust on my pizza, thicker crusts are much easier to work with on the grill.

Once the dough has grilled enough to have nice grill marks on the bottom and is solid enough to move, remove from the grill, generously brush the raw side with olive oil, then flip it over so the grilled side is up and the raw side is down.

Load the toppings on the pizza and finish grilling with the lid down. If you are brave, you can top the pizza while it is on the grill. If you are not brave, you can top the pizza on a separate surface and return it to the grill fully topped. All of this has to be done very carefully, as the pizza dough is still soft and breakable.

Once the cheese has melted and is browned and once you have lovely grill marks on the bottom of the pizza, you’re ready to eat!

If you need more pointers, The Kitchn has a good step by step guide to grilling pizza and Pillsbury has a nice tip on how to get the dough on the grill without deforming it by using tin foil.

Grilled Salad

2 Romaine lettuce hearts
Olive oil, a drizzle
Red wine vinegar, a drizzle
1 pound of pre-cooked shrimp
1 container of grape tomatoes
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt
Pepper

Cut the Romaine hearts in half, keeping the stem intact. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the lemon juice and crushed garlic. Grill the shrimp briefly on a hot grill pan just to give it some smoky flavor.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down, for three minutes. Flip over and grill the other side for three minutes, then remove from the grill, chop into bite sized chunks and combine with the shrimp and tomatoes. Drizzle the whole salad with some nice olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I sure enjoyed the grilled dinner that you started, Alice. What do you have for us next?!

Bernice’s Cheese Crackers

27 Mar

B’s Mac and Cheese takes me back to my childhood. It feels like my grandmother always had macaroni cheese in the oven when we arrived at her house, as it was my older sister’s favourite dish. Complete and utter comfort food. Yum.

B was just describing to me how much her young niece and nephew love these cheese crackers, to the point where her mother Bernice bakes them as a special treat whenever she visits the kids.


They are pretty easy to make too.


You’ll need… yellow cheeses, butter, plain flour, sea salt, and chives (or even spring onion if you have no chives).

I grated the cheese, I had parmesan and cheddar on hand. I then chopped my spring onion finely.


I put all of the ingredients in to a blender…


and blended until well mixed.

I then rolled the mixture in to largish walnut sized balls, and squashed them flat with my hands, I  flattened them further with a fork on the baking tray. B says she squishes them well and good with a flour dusted base of a glass to make them even thinner, before she flattens them more with the fork. Next time I’ll give that a go, I imagine they would be super crispy.

I sprinkled each cracker with some sea salt and set them in to the oven.

I baked them for around 15 minutes, until they were lovely and light brown underneath.

They were perfect with a glass of white wine before dinner.

I’d ask where you are going to take us next B, but I know already.

Just the other day, B and I spent hours cooking together with super cook Karen Gay in my parent’s Melbourne kitchen. We’d love to fill you in on the favourites we made, the dish Karen invented, and all the chopping and mixing we laughed over.

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BERNICE’S CHEESE CRACKERS

ingredients
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp salt, plus sea salt to sprinkle over crackers
1/2 cup butter
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 cups (250g) grated cheese, you can use any mix of cheeses.

Mix all together in food processor until completely combined.

Roll in to small balls, then flatten with your hands. Place on baking tray and then flatten further with a fork. To get an even thinner cracker you flatten the dough first with the base of a glass which dunked in flour, and then use a fork to flatten further.

Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350F (180C) for 12-15 min or until very lightly browned.

Remove to cooling rack. Try to resist them, I dare you.

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