Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick breakfast

Easiest breakfast that got whipped up out of nothing. I love days like this!

I was going to do a fried egg, but then I saw a tomato from the corner of my eye and I had some homemade pizza sauce in the fridge so I added about 2-3 tbsp of tomato sauce in the pan and began washing the tomato and draining it in the strainer. One of my biggest pet peeves in this world is tomato peel, or maybe it's a phobia because no matter how tiny it is ground up I am pretty sure I'll choke on it.

My kettle just finished boiling so I poured the water over the tomato in the strainer and then began peeling it, peel came off so easily! No blanching necessary.
It was a super ripe tomato so I chopped it up and added it to the skillet.

I couldn't stop there, what about some green pepper!

A few slices of green pepper went in. Cut off a chunk of red onion and thinly sliced that.

Crushed a large garlic clove and threw it in. Sliced up a thick chunk of ginger and nestled it between the tomatoes (can be removed later)

At this point I thought why not spice it up?

A dash of cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, ground coriander, cumin, paprika, crushed chilli.

Once this simmered and almost dried up I created a nest in the middle of the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the side and then cracked some eggs in the middle. Covered and cook to desired doneness.

Season with salt and a little sprinkling of pepper on the eggs and good to go!
Serve with flat bread and some fresh cilantro (I love cilantro!) and a nice big cup of moroccan mint tea.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blueberries & Cherries...

I love all the fruits we're seeing in stores during summer ... especially cherries, ever since I learned this interesting new technique to pit them I've been addicted to pitting cherries for pies, cakes, and even just freezing batches for future goodies.

Here is a bit of baking that I've done over the last week...

Blueberry boy baits - see Smitten Kitchen for recipe here (leftover edges turned into biscotti! Baked on 160 F in the oven until crisp and dry), Polish fruit buns called Jagodzianki and also a batch of roasted cherry brownies from last week's cherry sundae.

Jagodzianki (see recipe + video here courtesy of the lovely Ania's kitchen)

2 cups of white all purpose flour
1/3 cup of white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tsp of instant yeast
2 tbs of white all purpose flour
2 tbs of white granulated sugar
1/4 cup of melted butter

2 cups of blueberries (I did 1 cup of each blueberry and pitted cherries and divided the remaining ingredients for both)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tbs of flour

1 beaten egg
2 tbs of sugar

In a small mixing bowl add milk, 2 tbs of sugar, 2 tbs of flour and
yeast. Mix until well combined. Set aside to start foaming. ( around
20 minutes)
In to the bowl of your stand mixer add all the ingredients for the
dough except melted butter. Add yeast mixture and mix with a paddle
attachment until all is well combined. Add melted butter and mix for
another couple of minutes.
Spray with oil and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled
in size ( around 2 hours).
Mix your blueberries with sugar and flour.

Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour and knead with a dough
attachment until the dough is smooth and elastic. (around 5 minutes).
Transfer the dough on to your working surface sprinkled with some
flour. Knead it few more times and then roll into 0.5 cm thick
square. Cut squares around 5 to 7 cm in size.

Fold around 1 tbs of blueberries in to the dough squares forming nice
buns. Place them on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper
leaving them space to rise. Spray with non-stick spray.
Let them rise for about 20 minutes.
Paint with beaten egg and sprinkle with some sugar.

Bake in preheated oven to 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

Roasted Cherries:

Pitted cherries roasted in the oven on 425 F for 30 minutes. Add a squeeze of lime, lime zest and a drop of balsamic vinegar and some water. Stir from time to time.

Cooled and mixed into the batter of my favourite brownie recipe.

My favourite brownie recipe

3/4 cup vegetable oil (or sunflower)
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa plus 3 tbsp
1/4 tsp baking powder plus 1/8 tsp
1/4 tsp salt plus 1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). If using a glass pan put oven on 325 F.

(Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan.)

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes (this is just approximate time so keep an eye out!) or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan.

Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares or frosting/glazing it.

A nice ganache topping with a sprinkling of salt makes this brownie just a bit more special!

(recipe adapted from Mmm-Mmm Better brownies)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tea Station in pantry

Back in the fall of 2010 I posted about my open faced pantry, and here is a current update on how it's doing and my newly organized tea station after I've accumulated way too much tea from mainly both Teaopia and David's tea.

There is probably just about one other thing that I enjoy along side cooking and photography and that is organizing.

A little tip that I wanted to share here is using these little cardboard trays that delicate pastas come in, save them because if you're like me they will come in handy!

Oh and I've got one more tip! Those little tea pouches from David's tea were going all over the place, and it was hard to keep control of them so if you notice below I used the cardboard/paper boutique style paper bag and cut across and now they can sit nicely inside. I love how it's says "David's tea" and I know what I'm reaching for.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Arabic Summer Spread

Tuna Rice: 

- Basmati rice (1 1/2-2 cups depends on the size of your family) 
- 1 small chopped onion (if you don't like the texture of the onion like some members of my family just throw in a peeled onion bulb in tact and then remove it later)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 green pepper finely diced (if you like spice add jalapeno? also crushed red pepper)  
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 2 cans of tuna (in oil, preferably the kind you find at a middle eastern store, or even a good brand in oil) 
- Stock or water
- Salt & black pepper
- Pinch of allspice and ground clove
- A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- A few tbsp oil + oil from the tuna can

Wash and soak rice in advance, at least 30 minutes before cooking, I used tilda basmati.

Fill and boil kettle.

Chop vegetables like onion, green pepper. 
Heat oil in the pot, add vegetables and sautee until translucent, add chopped garlic frying until fragrant, at this point add tomato paste to caramelize and fry in the oil which will remove the raw flavour.
Season with salt (1 tsp per cup of rice, if tuna is salty reduce salt in recipe) 

Add black pepper to taste, and a pinch of both ground allspice and ground clove (if you only have one or the other use it) 

Drain rice and add to pot frying around, be careful not to break the rice grains, the objective here is just to get the oil coating the rice a bit. 

Add enough water (or stock, water is fine here though) to cook the amount of rice you're cooking. 

At this point when it looks all ready for simmering I add in the can of tuna (oil and all), keeping the tuna in tact and just laying it over the top of the rice (do not mix it or it'll flake into small pieces) and then cover and simmer until rice is cooked.

Remove from heat and gently using a spoon turn the rice over bringing the bottom to the top with a large flat spoon being careful not to mush up the tuna but arrange large pieces on top or throughout the rice. You could transfer it and arrange the rice on a platter to cool better.

Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Items on the menu above:

Lamb koftas (ground lamb, thyme, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & black pepper, with a tad bit of egg and breadcrumb to keep it in tact)

Beef tenderloin tikka: beef, olive oil, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, marinade and grill.

Tabouleh salad: Soaked fine bulgar wheat, chopped parsley, cubed tomato, finely diced green onion, olive oil, lemon juice, salt

Grilled peaches: Grill ripe but firm peach halves on grill (flesh side down) for a few minutes to achieve a grilled mark and to caramelize sugars in fruit.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and add a scoop of french vanilla ice cream.

Apricot turnovers:  Roll out store bought frozen puff pastry and cut into squares, add a spoon of apricot jam and fold over into a triangle, egg wash the top and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake at 375 F until puffed and broil a few seconds at the end.   Garnish with fresh apricots in season.