Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins
Courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction



1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup  granulated sugar
1/4 cup  dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature 

1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 2 oranges

Blend in another bowl:

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add dry to wet and add:
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons milk (any kind)

Fold in:
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)

Bake in a muffin tin lined with muffin cups or an oiled and floured muffin tin. Makes about 12 

Bake for 5 minutes in a preheated 425 F oven then lower to 350 for another 18-20 minutes. Cool and glaze.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons  orange juice, or half orange and half lemon juice

Roasted & Braised Duck Pretzel Pockets

Lately I find myself short on time in the kitchen and so when I do have a couple of moments I try to utilize them well. Instead of creating and freezing full recipes I've been experimenting more with ingredients, like in my previous post about leeks! And this is what I love about this recipe because though it is a little lengthy, it's hands off for the most part and with an ingredient like duck you're left with many components to use for other recipes, plus it's high on flavour.

It's always a good day when you find a duck in your freezer, like the other day when I discovered the bird but then remembered that it must have been there for a little over a year! Lucky for me it wasn't freezer burnt and the flavour was incredible!

Once the duck was all thawed from hanging out in the fridge for a couple of days I rubbed it down with grapeseed oil and seasoned generously with salt and black pepper, and off it went into a 375 F oven for 2 hours until the skin was crispy and the whole duck was golden. Occasionally I'd check on it and pour off any of the extra fat in the pan, that stuff is liquid gold and perhaps just about the best part!

All those delicious things you could make with duck fat, from roasted potatoes to sauteed eggs, meats and wintery vegetables... the possibilities are endless!  Let me know what you like to do with leftover duck/goose fat in the comments below!

So back to the duck.  Once cooled I removed the skin.  I'd suggest setting that aside as a little something for the chef (you!) there isn't very much of it and it tends to go soggy unless eaten right away!

Nothing goes to waste here so I save those bones! There is a ton of flavour to be had from those bits and pieces of roasted skin, fat and savoury goodness left behind, all are going to a bit pot and allowed to bubble away for a couple of hours yielding the most delicious stock!

And last but not least those pan drippings! Adding a little stock or warm water to loosen up those bits and pieces then thickening makes an incredible gravy. A whole other recipe right there!

So to sum it up, out of one roasted duck you get fat, rich stock, crunchy skin, gravy and shredded meat. That's a lot of deliciousness for future meals right there!

Back to today's recipe... and that shredded meat! We'll also be using the pan drippings, first skimming off any extra fat and adding it to the fat pile and then adding a little warm water to remove all the yummy bits from the pan and straining it over top the duck meat, You want to use a small saucepan and have the liquid just covering the meat. Cover the saucepan with a bit of foil so that no steam escapes and cook on medium low for one hour or until the meat is nice and soft.  After an hour mix a little bit of cold liquid (water) and about a tsp of flour and then add it to the duck to thick the sauce, at this point there should be no liquid, just almost a glaze surrounding the shredded duck.

Cool the filling and add chopped green onion if desired then set aside.

Now for the Pretzel dough

1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 tablespoons margarine

1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Proof for 5 minutes.
Mix in butter or margarine, flour, and salt. Cut dough into gold ball size balls and roll out into small flat circles. Fill with some cooled duck filling and seal up like a half a circle or small pockets.

Set on a tray and cover with a damp cloth or a piece of cling wrap. Allow to proof for 45 minutes to an hour.

This part goes really quick... it involves boiling and baking and you want to boil only what fits on the tray and into your oven one batch at a time.

Heat oven to 475 F.

In a cast iron or other nonaluminum pan, bring water and baking soda almost to a boil. Gently lower pockets into the water for about 90 seconds, do not allow water to come to a full boil.  Remove pocket with a large slotted spoon that supports the pocket well yet allows water to drain off and place on the parchment lined baking tray. You could put up to 5 pockets in the pot at a time. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake at 475 degrees F (245 degrees C) for about 12 minutes.

I froze the leftover duck filling and whipped it out on Chinese New Year 2016 (Year of the Monkey) to create these wontons. They of course went into duck broth that was made from the bones of that roasted duck! So so good! 


Leeks are such a yummy ingredient but you'll find just about every recipe that includes them calls for a quick chop and sautee so today I'm writing about a quick tip to save you time and money!

Since I'm short on time these days ingredient prep has become essential to my way of cooking and I'm constantly putting things into my freezer and pulling other things out. All these ingredients and partial recipes that I've frozen in advance have helped me whip up a quick meals in no time.

The idea with the leeks came to me when I was prepping to make Fiskesuppe, a fish chowder like soup from Finland! During ingredient prep instead of just chopping enough leeks for the recipe I decided to chop 'em all and sautee in butter, lightly seasoned with himalayan sea salt. I would be using some the following day for another recipe with the leftover cod and then figured why not just freeze the rest in a ziplock bag!
One suggestion is to freeze it flat and then break it apart so you could pull out as much as you need for future recipes!

The Fiskesuppe begins with sauteeing leeks, shallots or onions, garlic and then veggies like celery, carrot, parsnip, and potatoes. Season the veggies and cover with fish stock, clam juice and water and cook until veggies are tender.
Right before serving bring the heat up close to a boil and add the cod, baby scallops and about a 1/2-1 cup heavy cream and simmer until seafood is tender. Enjoy!

The next recipe is one of the oldest recipes I remember making after watching Jamie Olive cook way back in his Naked chef days. I was in my early teens and it was the first time I bought and cooked leeks.

I simply placed the fillets of cod into a baking dish and topped with the sauteed leeks then baked until fish was cooked through. It's as simple as that and so delicious! Serve with a vegetable or potato side dish!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Cherry Danish Pastries

Cherry Danish Pastries
Recipe by Anna Olson

Stir together in the mixer bowl:

1 1/2 c water, about 115 f

1 tbsp yeast

1 c flour 


1 1/2 c flour

1 1/4 cake flour

1/4 c sugar

1 tsp salt

add 1/4 c butter, cold and cubed 

Combine in mixer with dough hook

... once mixing add the rest of the butter
1 c butter cold butter in small cubes

Cover and let proof 30 minutes on counter

Transfer to finish rising in fridge for 2 more hours

 - Roll out dough on counter into a long rectangle and book fold, wrap in cling wrap and transfer back in fridge for 1 hour
long rectangle 3 fold 1 hr

- Remove from wrap and roll into long rectangle, fold in 3rds and cover in cling wrap and transfer back into fridge for 1 hour

- One more time: Remove from wrap and roll into long rectangle, fold in 3rds and cover in cling wrap and transfer back into fridge for 1 hour

At this point you can cut dough in half and use half the recipe to make 12 danishes and the other half for another recipe. 

Roll one piece into long rectangle and cut long strips, about 12 strips, twist the strips then curl up into rounds

Let rise 90 mins on a tray (1 1/2 hr) covered as not to dry out. 

Brush with egg wash, 1 egg + a splash of cool water

For filling mix thawed frozen cherries, squeeze out excess juice with cherry jam, about equal parts of each until it's a nice sticky consistency. Fill the middle of your danishes by first creating a little nest using your fingers or the back of a spoon pressed into the centre of the risen dough danishes. 

Bake for 30 mins on 375 F

Cool for 15 minutes then glaze with a mix of apricot jam watered down a bit, cook it briefly in a small saucepan then using a brush glaze the danishes and they're ready to serve! 

If you want to add a white glaze like I did wait until everything is completely cooled then mix powder sugar and milk, about 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp- tbsp milk and a dash of almond extract (I like the taste of almond with cherry)  then glaze the  danishes by drizzling in a zigzag motion with a spoon from high up over the danishes. 


For the cinnamon raisin swirl danish simple roll out the other half of the dough and butter with room temperature butter then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and raisins, roll it up and slice as if making cinnamon rolls. Allow to rise for 1 and a half hour or 90 minutes on the tray, egg wash and bake for 20 minutes then cool for 15 and glaze with the same apricot jam glaze.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Turkish lentil and bulgur kofta (mercimekli kofte)

Turkish lentil and bulgur patties (mercimekli kofte)
Recipe adapted from here  and there are many other recipes online, it's a very easy customizable recipe 

2 cups red lentils
2½ cups water (or more)
1 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat) (I used brown, must be the one used in Tabouleh that doesn't require cooking, just a quick soak)

2 garlic cloves finely minced/grated/smashed in mortar and pestle with the spices
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (I substituted Cilantro) 
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp dry mint
1 tbsp Turkish capsicum paste (biber salca)
1 tsp cumin (smoked cumin works nice too!) 

2 tsp salt
1 squeeze lemon, according to taste 

Reserved ingredients: 
1 onion, grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil

Lettuce leaves or greens of your choice for serving (I used Arugala) or a nice small salad works too! 

Boil the red lentils in the water for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Add the bulgur and cover, allowing it to absorb the remaining water.

Add the garlic and parsley and mix through well. Add the other spices and seasonings and adjust seasoning to taste.

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium and sautee with tomato paste and grated onion until nice and caramelized, add to mix. 

Form into cigar-shaped patties and place on freshly washed cos lettuce leaves to serve. The patties can be rolled into the leaves and eaten as a parcel.