Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scrumptious Strawberry Almond Crumble

I'm not a dessert fan and really not a fan of crumbles so you can imagine my surprise when I LOVED this!  It's probably the almond! Or the strawberry?  Either way it's easy and SO delicious!

A fabulous recipe by Nigella! Strawberry Almond Crumble.

I love almond and try to incorporate them into desserts whenever I can so when I saw Nigella make this on tv I had to have to give it a try.
Lucky for me the food network converted the recipe to cups and tablespoons! Here it is 

It's all very simple, and you're likely to have all the ingredients at home.. basically it starts with strawberries in a pie plate sprinkled with almond meal, sugar and vanilla.

The topping comes together when you work the cold cubes of butter into the flour and baking powder mixture with your hands (so much fun!).  Then toss in the coarse sugar and shaved almonds and sprinkled over the fruit

Bakes in 30 minutes on 400 F.

REALLY easy last minute dessert! Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or even just a drizzle of heavy cream (As Nigella did!)

Tree of Hearts

This cute heart tree is a blast to make!  My cat and I made it one afternoon, we folded both red and pink tissue paper and then cut hearts out of them. 

We had hearts all over the floor and my kitty just loved playing with the leftover tissue paper. 

The most fun comes from puncturing each heart onto the branches, go wild!   A fun craft to do with children too! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kushari Salad

A fun healthy twist on Egypt's most popular and famous street food "Kushari"!

"Kushari Salad" A warm grain salad of healthy 5 grains, layered with lentils and kamut orzo pasta with a garlicky tomato dressing and all topped with crispy fried onions.

- 1 large onion (sliced finely and fried in 1/4 cup oil until crispy and brown- Drained, salted lightly then set aside for garnish) Reserve oil for later.
Ingredients: Mixed grain blend - I used half the package of President's choice 5 grain blend.  Cooked according to the package.  When tender drain and reserve extra liquid. 

- 1/4 cup black lentils (soaked for at least 2 hours and boiled in lots of water until tender) 
- 1/2 cup boiled Orzo pasta (I used a healthy kamut pasta) 

- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes
- Salt & black pepper
- 1 tsp white vinegar + a squeeze of lemon

- Drizzle olive oil

Layer the grains with the lentils and pasta.

- In the reserved oil used from frying onions sautee garlic, add tiny tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper. Add reserved liquid from grains, add vinegar/lemon juice.  Remove from heat, drizzle olive oil. 

Pour cherry tomato garlic dressing over layered grains, lentils and pastas and top with crispy fried onion. 

Serve with hot sauce (to taste!) 

Enjoy! Please watch the video for more detailed  instructions. 

For those of you who do not know what Kushari is .. here are some shots of the traditional recipe courtesy of my lovely sister.

Here's the product I used by President's Choice 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A little Lidia in your life..

I LOVE watching Lidia Bastianich Cook, I mean what foodie doesn't?   Her food is just so comforting and you really feel the love in her kitchen, it reminds me a lot of Arabic Cooking...  grandma's in the kitchen, large family style platters and bringing together all those really economical ingredients to create a spectacular meal.

To me that's what food is all about!

After watching a marathon of her Cooking show episodes while the super bowl was running last sunday (I really dislike sports and have no clue about American Football)  I was inspired to not only whip up a pasta dish but to give rapini yet another try (Think it's been 14 years, I've been *trying* to love it)

I can happy announce that it worked.  The rapini was really delicious in this dish, not too bitter and I really loved it!

If you watch Lidia you'll know that there are some basic rules to follow.  Boiling the pasta al dante, never putting oil in the pasta water, making sure to keep that lovely pasta water to finish the sauce and add lots of cheese (at the end!)

Unfortunately I didn't have any cheese in the house but I went ahead anyway washing and slicing the rapini, the stalks into 1/2 inch rings and the tops a little rougher, leaving the "broccoli" flower like parts fully in tact.

These pasta sauces come together in no time, I mean by time you're boiling the pasta it's done!

She used sausage, I used lean ground beef and spiced it a few hours in advance with salt, black pepper, lots of minced/grated fresh garlic and olive oil (add cubes of butter if desired)

When the meat was room temperature, and the Rapini was washed and sliced it was ready to go.

Pasta was on.

Normally garlic is sauteed at this first step but there was enough in the meat so I browned the "sausage" and to that added the rapini over top. Adding some pasta water to the pan I covered with a lid and let the rapini "steam" a bit. 

When the pasta was done 9 minutes later and the stems of the rapini were tender it was ready to go. 

Pasta goes over top, more pasta water and I toss with the heat off.  It all comes together beautifully.  

I enjoy a little acidity in my food so I added a lot of worstershire sauce over top (I know I know it's british not Italian but oh well) 

Not everyone was keen on trying the Rapini so I was lucky to have divided the "sausage" early on and roll half the meat mixture into mini "meatballs" 

I cleaned the pan and started again, quickly browning the meat and adding these little grape tomatoes to the pan, as soon as they "pop"  (you can squish them a bit with the back of the spatula) the pasta and pasta water goes in, it all comes together with a little worstershire sauce and we're good to go!

If I had cheese it would have gone overtop at the end.

It was a great meal!

Incase you're wondering, I got the pasta for a great price (clearance) from Winners (who knew?!)
Winners is a TJMAXX or Home Goods type or store. 

Classic Chocolate Mousse

Adapted from Bake with Anna Olson

Classic Chocolate Mousse

I saw this on tv this morning, now I happened to have the chocolate on hand but didn't use the precise recipe, only the concept and it worked out for me.  Really did not measure out anything.

This is how it went....  I would advise you to follow her recipe though here 

3/4 cups bittersweet belgian dark chocolate wafers (small ones, I found them at my local bulk store) 
1 1/2 tbsp butter

Melt the two together in a double boiler and set aside to come to room temp. 

Meanwhile whip some cold whipping cream, about 1/2 cup. 

At this point you can flavour the cream with a tbsp or so of strong coffee or espresso but I used Teavana's Wonderberry Chocolate Truffle tea as a strong brew and cooled it, then incorporated it in the whipped cream. 

In another bowl I whipped 2 egg whites with 2 tsp sugar until they were fluffy and between soft-stiff peak.

Now fold the whipping cream into the chocolate by adding half the amount at a time and then fold in the egg whites last, gently or rather swiftly to get it chilled as fast as possible.
Pour in cups, level them a bit by pressing the mouse at the top down. 

Chill for 2 hours, garnish with shaved chocolate. 

Let sit at room temp 15 mins before serving!

I managed to make enough to fill those two large cups, perfect!

One Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables - in 30 minutes!

I was inspired to make a one pan chicken and vegetables dinner after having most of the ingeredients at home and seeing this recipe on PBS's saturday cooking lineup.

It really is so simple but as usual I added my own twist(s) on the original recipe.

Here's my version and below is the site where you can find the videos and recipes from The Test Kitchen Show.

Normally I brine my chicken, so even though it's a 24 hour process it really just involves dissolving some salt, sugar into water, adding in a bit of acidity (lemon/drop of vinegar) and then some herbs and spices, or just the basics of pepper corns and a sliced head of garlic.

This is done the day before and it stays in the fridge on it's own until you're ready to use it, so it's totally hassle free.

When ready to prepare the dish you just want your chicken to come to room temp so I removed it from the water and let it sit an hour, in this time I also chopped the chicken as the recipe mentions into 8 pieces, 2 drum sticks, 2 upper thighs, and each breast (on the bone) into 2 pieces by slicing in half horizontally.

The wings, and spine were removed and they can go into another recipe or stock making.

I sprinkled the chicken with some Worcestershire sauce and let it sit while preparing the veg.

In this hour you can also chop the veggies:

- Carrots, sliced into 2 inch pieces if they're medium to small carrots or chopped into 2 inch pieces and then split down the middle.

- Remove brussel sprout bottoms and slice down the middle of each one to create nice halves.

-  2-3 shallots, sliced in half down the centre.

- Red potatoes, cut into cubes.

Toss all the veggies with some olive oil, salt, black pepper and a sprinkling of sugar (for browning, perhaps)

Keep the brussel sprouts in the middle of the pan and mix and lay out the other veg around the edges.  I scattered in some whole garlic cloves, peel on, throughout.

Add chicken breasts to the middle of the pan, laying over the brussel sprouts, lay the other pieces on the sides.  Brush the chicken with butter and herbs (I just used butter)

Now it all bakes on 475 F for 30-40 minutes and you've left with a one pan delicious spread of roasted chicken and vegetables all cooked beautifully.

Perfect comfort food for busy weekdays!