Saturday, December 31, 2011

Most Viewed Recipes of 2011


Pierogi with Potato & Cheese Filling
I grew up in Edmonton which had a large Ukrainian community, and learned to make these when I was still a teenager.

Semmel Knödel

Why not try these German bread dumplings instead of rice or potatoes with your next meal?

Key Lime Squares

Very easy to make...  you just need a bit of patience to squeeze all of those tiny limes.. but the effort is well worth it.

Chinese Corn Soup

This Cantonese soup is especially delicious if made with plump fresh sweet corn!

Pimento Cheese Spread

It's one of those southern dishes people grew up with and love with good reason; it's delicious!

This recipe was on the back of a tin of The Ginger People's, Crystallized Ginger Chips and it was really good!

This strained yogurt has the consistency of cream cheese with less calories and a wonderful tart flavour.
Apple Bran Muffins

These delicious muffins are very moist!
Mediterranean Olive Pesto

This chunky pesto comes together quickly with a few items from your local olive bar.
Garlic Shrimp

Pressed for time? Make garlic shrimp for dinner!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Orecchiette with Pistachio & Picholine Olive Sauce

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(4 servings)

There's still a ton of pistachios in my house from the holidays and some of them found their way into this dish. It's one of my favourites and if I were given the choice between this and a slice of chocolate cake, I'd go for the pasta almost every time.

I used brine-cured picholine olives which have a wonderful saltiness to them. Their firm texture also makes them great cocktail olives. Orecchiette is perfect for this dish. The roughly textured, indented discs hold the olive sauce extremely well.

If you have a food processor, this will come together very quickly for a delicious lunch or dinner.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thai Style Cucumber Salad

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(4 servings)

Who could pass up an 80 cent English cucumber? I couldn't. I grabbed two of them although they weren't on my shopping list. The label mentioned "pesticide-free" which I had to google when I returned home because I found that description rather confusing. Why pesticide-free and not organic?

Turns out pesticide-free is often a vague term indicating no pesticide residue was detected, although it might contain "natural" pesticides or pesticides "below" the "normal" detection limits.

Generally it indicates it has "more residues than organic food, but less than conventionally grown food."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daring Baker Challenge, December 2011; Sour Dough Starter

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!
I was thrilled with this challenge. I lost my previous 6-year old starter when we had a four day power outage during extremely high temperatures here in Dallas. This gave me the opportunity to get another one going. Mine took nine days to come to life, but the wait was worth it. The aroma is amazing and it has a wonderful tang which I imagine will develop nicely as time goes on.
I decided to make the French Country Bread, which I've copied out below.

Thanks for this challenge!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

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(6-8 servings)

I haven't felt much like cooking lately. I've made mostly green salads and whenever I got bored of those, I'd head over to a local salad bar and load up on veggies and various prepared salads. I love beets and this bar often has red beets in a balsamic vinaigrette and golden beets with ginger.. I can't get enough of either of those. I also like to sample some of  their other offerings, such as Mediterranean tuna salad,  Moroccan couscous salad, spicy lentils or herbed peas. These salads change daily and I never tire of the selection. Considering this is December with so many temptations everywhere, this has worked out well for me.

One of the things very much on my mind this week were Swedish Meatballs. I remembered a friend once mentioning she made her meatballs using a stand mixer which surprised me. I've always imagined tougher meatballs if you "over-worked" the meat. I couldn't have been more wrong, these meatballs were both lighter and smoother, making me curious how a meatloaf might turn out using this method.

Swedish meatballs are usually served on their own with the gravy on the side, but I usually end up reheating them at some point so I just combine them with the gravy when I prepare them. I didn't have any Lingonberry sauce on hand, so I picked up a bag of cranberries instead. Cranberries are altogether different, but they taste fine alongside these meatballs. When I prepare the cranberry sauce (I follow the directions on the bag), I add less sugar keeping the sauce nice and tart for these.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rum Balls

(28-32 rum balls)

Rum balls are pretty easy to make, and one of those things I associate with Christmas. I use whatever I happen to have on hand. It can be day old cake, cookies...  various nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, coconut or hazelnuts.. cocoa powder or chocolate.. bourbon, if you don't care for rum. The rum and melted butter binds everything together, and those amounts can vary depending on the moisture content of the cake or cookie crumbs. I rarely add sugar because the mixture usually already seems sweet enough to me. If I were to add any, I would probably use icing sugar for these.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peppermint Meringues

(about 75 small meringues)

The peppermint extract in these is so intense (I added a 1/4 teaspoon), they remind me of after dinner mints which dissolve in your mouth. I like them so much, a part of me regrets not having fired up my large oven so I could have doubled the recipe.

They were very easy to make, but they do need to be stored in an air-tight tin, especially if it's humid. Dallas has had a lot of rain recently and I've noticed these meringues will soften if left out on a plate for a day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


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(30-34 small cookies)

December is almost always a hectic month for me and I often end up buying a lot of my baked goods. Zimtsterne are among the items I look for when I head to the German deli. I didn't see any this year, and decided to take the plunge and make them myself. I will admit not only did they turn into a bit of a challenge, they didn't even look like the ones I was used to, but I loved the taste and texture of these cookies. They were so much better than any of the store bought versions I have purchased over the years!

These wonderful star-shaped, chewy cookies are gluten free, and "iced" with meringue. They contain ground almonds and cinnamon; Zimt = cinnamon, Sterne = stars.

This recipe is adapted from an old out-of-print German cookbook my mum gave me; Das neue große Kochbuch by Roland Gööck ©1963

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Green Salad with Candied Pecans, Apple and Goat Cheese

(4 servings)

Recently I had lunch with a friend at a restaurant which specialises in salads. Our salads were delicious, but when I looked around the room I noticed that most diners, ourselves included, had left small mounds of greens on our plates when we were finished. The proportions were way off.

I had ordered a green salad with blue cheese, pear and hazelnuts tossed in a champagne vinaigrette. The problem was I had about 5 cups of greens and about 1 tablespoon each (give or take) of cheese, pear and hazelnuts. I don't have a problem with greens, but I do like to taste a bit of the extra goodies I ordered with each forkful, and I suspect so did a lot of the people in the room with us.

This recipe has the proportions I prefer in a salad, and our plates were clean when we were finished!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quick Cheese Lasagna

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(4-6 servings)

This is a very quickly made lasagna using store bought pasta sauce and "no-boil" lasagna sheets.

I have never used these sheets before, and was pleasantly surprised by how well they worked and how good they were. I will definitely use them again, especially if I'm pressed for time and unable to make my pasta from scratch.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cabbage Rolls

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(4-5 servings)

Cabbage rolls reheat really well. If anything, they seem to get better a day or two later which is why I like to make them ahead of time.

One of my favourite versions were those made by a friend's Ukrainian grandmother. They were tiny, about the third of the size of a conventional cabbage roll. The filling was mainly rice which had been fried with onion, bacon, and grease, then slowly cooked in tomato juice.

Mine turn out a little different each time I make them, which isn't very frequently. I shy away from what I perceive as a lot of work, but the truth is once I get started it really isn't all that bad. I have made them with various types of cabbages, white or brown rice, beef, pork, sausage or some combination of meat. I've cooked them on the stove top, in the slow cooker or in the oven. They have been delicious every time. It's difficult to imagine them not turning out, they just do.