Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Baker Challenge, September 2011; Croissants

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spinach Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce

(4 servings)

These gnocchi didn't come together as quickly as my last batch. I used the spinach directly out of the package and probably should have chopped it further; it would have been much easier to shape them. They were delicious though, and I served them with a mushroom sauce.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Deviled Egg Salad

(2 servings)

Whenever I hard boil eggs, it's hit and miss. They are either underdone or overdone. I decided to look it up this time and followed these directions. They turned out just right.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jugged Peas

I came across this 18th Century English recipe in an old cookbook which I believe is out of print. The preparation of this dish struck me as interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try.

These lightly minted peas were quite tasty.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Macaroni and Rarebit

(about 3 servings)

Rarebit is one of the few recipes I remember from the home ec class I took while I was still in junior high school. I loved that recipe  and it wasn't until several years later I realised it was supposed to have dark ale in it; I had been taught to make it with milk.

The traditional rarebit is served over lightly browned toast which is finished under the broiler. Sometimes I like to combine mine with macaroni and bake it, like mac and cheese.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Turkey, Pork and Tomato Meatloaf

(about 5-6 servings)

This was supposed to be an all poultry meatloaf, but I didn't like the look of the Italian chicken sausage when I got to the market. The bulk packages were due to expire the same day I was there,  and the butcher only had 3 links displayed in the glass case (a bad sign imo). I picked up a package of the mild Italian pork sausage instead; it wasn't due to expire for another 4 days. I have this thing about expiration dates... I'll even check the bottom of cans and packages before deciding whether or not they should find their way into my shopping cart.

I used tomatoes mainly because I had about 1/2 pound I wanted to get rid of, and meatloaf seemed like a good place to ditch them. I had some green beans in the freezer I thought would add nice colour.. that's the only reason I used those. :)

The meatloaf turned out well. I was very happy with it. It was delicious cold, in sandwiches the next day as well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Ginger People's Chewy Ginger Snaps

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(about 52 cookies)

I never think of a ginger snap as chewy, but rather as a crispy thin cookie. While I was shopping at World Market, I noticed a recipe on the back of a tin of the Ginger People's, Crystallized Ginger Chips, for "Chewy" Ginger Snaps, and decided to give these a try. I was very excited by the prospect that recipes on the back of containers rarely let you down.

This recipe made darn good cookies, although I did make a few adjustments (in parentheses) after baking two batches (half the recipe) of these. The main change I made was decreasing the amount of sugar because I found them a tad on the sweet side after rolling them in the additional sugar. For whatever reason, both batches of cookies refused to crack nicely for me.

I liked this cookie enough that I'll be making these again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Parmesan Gnocchi with Puttanesca Sauce

(4 servings)

When I decided to make Marillenknödel, I also found myself thinking about gnocchi. The dough is pretty similar.

This gnocchi turned out a bit larger than usual. Once the garlic hit the hot olive oil as I was making the sauce, and that wonderful aroma filled my kitchen, I began to get hunger pangs. All of a sudden my leisurely time became rather hurried, and my focus shifted from the process of making this meal to seeing the finished food on my plate!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Marillenknödel; Austrian Apricot Dumplings

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(4 - 8 dumplings)

Over the years I have come across various versions for these dumplings. Some recipes use a quark dough or yeasted dough...  in my family (both my mum and grandmother) made these with a potato dough similar to gnocchi.

My mum used to fill these dumplings with either apricots or those small Italian prune plums (Zwetschgenknödel). This year the apricots were gigantic and I didn't like the large dumplings I got as a result. I will only make these again if I can get my hands on small apricots. The portions will be more manageable that way.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fish in Beer Batter with Tartar Sauce

(about 2 - 3 servings)

While shopping for fish, the heavily tattooed fellow standing next to me struck up a conversation.. I think he noticed I couldn't keep my eyes off his arms, lol.

He told me his English aunt's trick to a good beer batter was the addition of a bit of yeast. What he described was simple; combine flour and beer until you have a consistency between regular pancake batter and crepes, and to that add the yeast. He mentioned he likes to add salt and pepper to his batter (I added a bit of salt), but mostly I seasoned the fish itself  before dredging it in the flour. I was intrigued after this little discussion and although I had planned on broiling fish with tamarind, I decided to fry some instead. Cod and haddock were expensive, so I used sole.

The batter puffed up almost immediately when the fish hit the hot oil. It was on the light side and not at all heavy. I'm not sure what difference the yeast made because I rarely deep fry anything, but I liked the puffed and crispy coating I ended up with. I served the fish with lemon wedges and tartar sauce which I prefer to malt vinegar.

1 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp dry yeast (I used the type for bread machines)
2/3 cup unbleached flour
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup beer, or a bit more

12 oz sole fillets
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup unbleached flour (for dredging)

oil, for deep frying

lemon wedges, for garnish

Combine the water and yeast and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved.
Combine the salt and flour in a bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture and beer. Stir the batter until everything is mixed. If the batter seems too thick, then add a bit more beer. It should resemble a runny pancake batter.  Set aside for about 30 minutes or until the batter begins to look frothy.

Heat the oil to 350° F.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the fish, then dredge both sides in flour. Quickly dredge each side of the fish in the batter and carefully slide into the hot oil.

Fry the fish in small amounts so they have enough room around them, about 2-3 minutes on each side or until the batter is puffed and golden brown.

Drain the fish on a warmed platter covered with paper towels to absorb any excess oil, while you finish up with the rest of the fish.

Garnish with lemon slices and serve with the tartar sauce.

tartar sauce
2 medium dill pickles, chopped
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp shallot, finely chopped 
2 tsp capers, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise ( just enough to bind everything)

Combine everything in a small bowl. You may add more mayonnaise if you like.. I add just enough until everything binds.