Walnut Feta Dip

I was inspired to create this dip by this recipe of the same name. As I’ve mentioned before, we have been eating a lot of walnuts lately and we had a ton of feta left over from the pizza, so it was the perfect time to try out this dip. I always make a point of making something once before adjusting it. This time, it only took me as long as I mixing it to know it needed some adjustments to be right for me. I’ve done so much to the original recipe that I will be calling it an inspiration rather than an adaptation. The original was good, but was a little much for me, with some changes this dip is rich but also lighter and brighter.

Walnut Feta Dip

Inspired by Princess Misia’s Roasted Walnuts & Feta Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts (halves, shelled)
  • 2 cups of feta
  • a tsp of brine if you want
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemons worth of juice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Place everything in a food processor and blend into as smooth as possible/as smooth as you’d like. Taste, adjust flavours as necessary (maybe more lemon, maybe some of your favourite herbs).
  2. Serve with veggies, pita, chips, a spoon.

Gen’s Birthday Pizza

Gen’s birthday was on Saturday and he asked for pizza, yum. I whipped up an easy and delicious pizza dough and topped it with simple ingredients. It was an great way to spend a Saturday night.

Pizza

Ingredients

  • 4.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (not hot, don’t kill the yeast)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white sugar

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine.
  3. Using a strong wooden spoon (I stress this because I broke my Kel’s favourite) or your dough hook (if you have a mixer), mix until a dough that pulls away from the bowl has formed. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Roll into desired shape (I had no pizza pans so I used my cookie sheet covered with parchment paper). Cover with your favourite toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. This recipe makes two pretty huge cookie sheet pizzas, so we froze one of the balls of dough for later.

Soft pillows of dough.

My favourite toppings?

» Good tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil.
» Kalamata olives, marinated artichokes, feta, (roasted red peppers are great here too).
Brush your prepared dough with some olive oil, use the artichoke liquid if you are feeling feisty. This actually helps to prevent the crust from getting soggy. This also makes the pizza leftovers (if there are any) freeze well.

Oh yes, and one of the best parts of getting packages from my parents is the fantastic drawings my dad does on the outside.

Muffin Pudding (hmm, sounds weird) Muffin Bread Pudding (better?)

Well I am not sure how to properly title this. I had a heck of a time googling around to see if it had been done, done successfully, or was being warned against. I found all of the above but little other information. Bread pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts, which is weird, I know. Something about the creamy custard and the rich flavours. It just floats my boat. Anyway, yesterday was Gen’s birthday, so I felt the need to make every meal a fancy feast. My whole plan was to bake some brioche on Friday, slice it up and make french toast casserole on Saturday. Well that’s not how things panned out. I made a mess of the bread, we wont even speak of it. It tastes fine but it is under cooked and very dark… I need to go into a bread baking workshop, I am not doing it right. Anyway, so this morning I was out of luck for that dish, though I did make some delicious omelets with the left-over Jalapeño Popper Dip from the night before. But as I was making pizza (recipe tomorrow), I looked over at the leftover Coffee Cake Muffins and had a brain wave. I kind of winged it, but it turned out delightful. Not too sweet, the sugar in and on the muffins did the trick.

The pictures are not great because I wasn’t entirely sure that this was going to turn out. Also, I switched from the 9 x 13 pan to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish that was deeper so the custard could reach more of the muffins. It was nice using already so tasty muffins because it meant I had to do little in the line of flavouring to make this tasty. You could certainly use other stale muffins, but the flavours will change substantially depending on the muffins you use. These had a nice hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, and they were studded with the walnuts I had used in the crumb topping. Awesome.

Muffin Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 7 slightly stale muffins, in this case my Coffee Cake Muffins
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp sugar (more if your muffins are less sweet)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Directions

  1. This pudding needs 15 minutes soaking time, follow the directions, let soak for 15 minutes and then bake.
  2. Break muffins into medium chunks and spread on a baking sheet, place in 350°F oven to toast for 8 minutes.
  3. Put the milk into a small pan with the vanilla. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat, add the lemon zest and allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, butter a medium casserole dish and put the muffin chunks into it, dot with the butter.
  5. Beat the eggs together with the sugar until combined. Beat the milk, nutmeg, and the cream into the egg mixture. Pour over the muffins, add any nuts or fruit you might want, and leave for 15 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top.
  7. Place on middle rack and cook for 20-30 minutes. The pudding is done when it is browned on top and set. Serve with half-whipped cream (whip until it just starts to thicken)

Muffins crumbled with butter, then I realized this dish was not going to work.

Perfect!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

This fantastic dip recipe comes from my friend Susan in Calgary. She brought this dip to my going-away party and I just had to have the recipe. I made it for my family when they were in town around Christmas, and I made it just for Gen and I to munch on yesterday. It is best served warm, with your favourite tortilla chips, though I will admit, I used some of the left over dip (it get pretty solid when cold) to stuff some omelets this morning for Gen’s birthday. I’ve made a couple adjustments to make up for the fact that we use greek yogurt for pretty much everything.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade is always better)
  • 1/2 plain greek yogurt (or sour cream, heck, or just plain yogurt)
  • 1 can chopped green chilies, drained (1/2 cup)
  • 2 diced fresh jalapeños
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles, jalapeños, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan.
  3. Pour mixture into medium casserole dish (or a hot-dip dish, if there is such a thing). Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan and the panko bread crumbs.
  4. Heat dip in the oven for 15-20 minutes until it is heated through, the top is golden, and the cheese is bubbling.
  5. Serve with chips and bread.

Portobello Fries with Basil Aioli

I found this recipe a couple years ago and have only made it a handful of times since, which is silly because it is delicious and easy. These ‘fries’ are crunchy and juicy (the mushroom is juicy… this is a good thing) and are the perfect vehicle for the surprize star of the show, the basil aioli. Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I make some tasty mayonnaise and it is made even better with the addition of a handful of basil, some garlic, and lemon. Don’t be afraid of making mayonnaise, it’s easy and WAY better than store bought. But, if fooling around with raw eggs isn’t your thing (or if you are vegan), by all means, buy some, just don’t let anything stop you from making these!

Baked Portobello Fries with Basil Aioli

Lightly adapted from this gorgeous blog’s recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs (other bread crumbs will do, I just had these on hand)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese or pecarino
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of oregano
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 portobellos
  • 3 large eggs, beaten (or to veganize, use dijion mustard and no cheese… or daiya, as suggested to me by my great friend, Lauren!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray (I was at a friends, we made do with aluminum foil and olive oil, but I don’t recommend that).
  2. On a plate, mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. In a small to medium bowl, beat the eggs.
  4. Cut the portobello mushrooms into 1/4″ slices.  One by one, dip the portobello slices in the beaten eggs and transfer to the place with the bread crumb mixture, being sure to coat the mushrooms thoroughly.  Place the bread crumb covered mushrooms on the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, checking on them after 10 and flipping them to ensure thorough baking.

Basil Aioli

  • 1 room-temperature egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard (your favourite kind)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • your favourite oil (remembering strong-tasting oils like olive oil will make your mayo taste like that flavour)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (more to taste, depending on your tang levels)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Mayo-making time! I will do a picture tutorial for this, just not today. In a tall, clean container (a jar works), put your egg yolk and a half of the egg white (discard the rest of the white). Add your mustard and some salt and pepper. Using a hand blender (easiest way by far, but you can also use a whisk or a food processer or a blender) blend the egg a bit. Slowly drizzle in oil. You will see the mayo coming together (emulsifying). Once you’ve reached a consistency and amount that you like (it will grow forever, more oil = more mayo), add the vinegar and mix it together. You may want to add a little bit more oil at this point to thicken it up a bit more, as the vinegar might loosen the mayo. Taste, adjust as needed.
  2. Now that you have delicious homemade mayo, make it into aioli!
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Stir well. Chop the basil well and add into the aioli, at this point you can hand-blend it quickly to make a nice smooth dip, or stir the basil through for big bites of basil flavour.

Ready to be baked!

Munch time!

I was over at Caelin’s for this recipe… so of course there was Jamesons.

A new look

I am just trying out a new look for the blog. I loved the last one, and how much I was able to move around, but I missed the sidebar where recipes could easily be found. So here we go, I will continue to tweak it over the next few weeks, I’m sure, but I am giving this theme a go!

Seared Scallops on Quinoa Risotto

Oh yes, this is an amazing dinner. I could bathe in this risotto and use the scallops for pillows. This recipe doesn’t make quite that much, but it happily filled our bellies and left more lunch tomorrow, huzzah! I bought the scallops weeks ago in anticipation of this meal but just hadn’t had a chance to gather the rest of the ingredients. The final touch was a batch of fiddleheads, which I have heard of, seen, but have never made. I used quinoa for this risotto because we have a lot of it on hand and I thought it would be something unique, and it worked perfectly.

Gen’s quote, “It was tasty and cheesy, I liked the cheesiness and the fiddleheads. I liked the lemon zest, could’ve even used more. Make it again please!” It’s true, I used less lemon zest then intended, largely because I don’t have a zester and I had to make do, but also because I am hesitant about citrus in savoury dishes… well it ROCKED in this dish, so yes, there will be more zest next time, because I am definitely making this again!

Quinoa Fiddlehead Risotto

Adapted from this lovely Vogue recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 1 large onion (I used yellow, but any colour will work)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1-1.5 litres of homemade chicken stock (or vegetables stock)
  • 1 1/4 cup of fiddleheads (one package at 10oz)
    • Alternatively/also you can use asparagus
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 cups grated parmesan (throw the rind in during cooking for extra flavour)
  • 1 lemon’s worth of zest and juice (wash the lemon to remove any wax)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 chives or any green herbs roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Thoroughly wash fiddleheads with cold water (at least three times) removing as much of the brown papery stuff as possible. Trim the ends. Bowl a pot of water and add the fiddleheads, boil for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse. (Do not be alarmed if the boiling water is dark brown, it is not to keep, chuck it)

    Rinsed and ready to cook.

  2. While the fiddleheads boil, pour the chicken stock into a saucepan, bring to a boil and keep at a low simmer, lid on.
  3. In a separate, large, wide pan, heat a tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the boiled fiddleheads, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, set aside.
  4. Heat up the last 2 tbsp of butter and gently fry the chopped onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
  5. Add the garlic and the rinsed quinoa and stir well for a minute until the quinoa is thoroughly coated in the butter.
  6. Add your white wine and stir to deglaze the pan.
  7. Add a ladle of your hot stock to your pan, stir until it begins to be absorbed by the quinoa. Continue adding 2 or 3 ladles of stock to the quinoa as it absorbs it, unlike rice risotto, the quinoa is forgiving and you don’t have to watch it constantly.
  8. The original recipe suggested that the risotto would be close to done in 8 minutes, mine took closer to 15-20. I started testing the tenderness at about 10 minutes and made judgements from there. Once your quinoa is close to done (almost tender) add in the fiddleheads and the peas, stir them in gently.
  9. About now you will want to start your scallops, they are quick but it is good to have both parts of the dish ready to go at once.
  10. Turn off the heat after a few minutes, you may have stock left over (I had a couple of cups worth), you can add more if you want a soupier risotto.
  11. Stir through your grated cheese, herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

    Grated parm and zested lemon, ready for the risotto.

    Adjust as necessary.

  12. Top with extra fiddleheads if you thought ahead for presentation purposes… I clearly didn’t. Sprinkle with chives.

Seared Scallops

Ingredients

  • 12 large scallops
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pat the scallops dry, salt and pepper both sides.
  2. Put the butter and oil in a large pan over high heat.
  3. When the oil begins to smoke add the scallops, placing them evenly in the pan.

    Lovely large scallops searing away.

  4. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. When you flip them, they should’ve formed a brown crust.
  5. They are done when they are slightly firm, and opaque on the ends.
    If you over cook them, they will be tough, be careful!
  6. Plop these on top of a pile of risotto.

Creamy, rich, fresh.

Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins

Another mouthful for a title but oh so worth it. These muffins were inspired by laziness. I had already planned to bake coffee cake this weekend but decided this morning that I really didn’t want to bake a pan of coffee cake, have to cut it and store it and figure all that out. Muffins are easier to manage, I can eat two or three and Gen can’t tell how much I’ve eaten… fool proof plan. These are light and fluffy with a bit of a crunch, and a golden top that cries to be save until the end (Seinfeld knew what was up with the whole Top of the Muffin thing).

Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins

Adapted from this lovely cookbook.

Ingredients

Crumb top

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts (place on baking sheet in a 375° for 5-10 minutes, until they start to brown)
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1″  cubes

Chocolate sugar ribbon

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cake

  • 1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups of plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Crumb top prep: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the toasted walnuts and, using a pastry cutter, chop the walnuts into the flour mixture until they are well incorporated and in pea-sized pieces. Add the butter, again using the pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mixture until everything is finely chopped, resembling coarse sand. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Sugar ribbon prep: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and set aside.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line or grease muffin tins. (This made 24 muffins exactly, I only have one tin so I had to put them in twice.)
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the sugar. Mix until smooth and starts to look fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each and scraping the sides as needed.
  3. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture in three parts until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.

    Swirl layer.

  4. Drop one tablespoon of batter into each cup.  Cover with a tsp (or more) of the sugar ribbon mixture.
  5. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter on top of the sugar ribbon layer and smooth as best you can. Top with the crumb topping and press down into the batter. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of topping, you wan to use it all.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

All the mixins ready to layer!

Ribbon of goodness.

Creamy Herb and Tomato, Sausage Sauce

Well this is something I have made a couple times in a couple of different ways, and I’ve tried to capture my process in recipe form. I happened to have some delicious sausage on hand and wanted to make something to top my shell pasta that wasn’t your standard sauce, so this recipe was born. It is easy, adaptable, and full of flavour.
Also, I promise I will do a lovely baking post for Sunday, because what is better on a Sunday than a delicious piece of coffee cake! In the meantime, sausage pasta sauce!

Creamy Herb and Tomato, Sausage Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 gourmet sausages (I have made this with Rosemary Lamb and Italian Turkey sausage)
  • 6 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jar of tomato sauce or pasta sauce (pick your favourite)
  • 1/3 cup of cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan (I have a big chunk of it in my fridge so I just break off pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (double if you have fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano (double if fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (double if fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place a large pan over medium-high heat (add a tbsp of olive oil if desired). Remove the casings from the sausages and place the meat in the pan, using your spoon to break it up. Cook the sausage until done, about 5-8 minutes. Take out your 1/3 cup of cream and allow it to come to room temperature (this will prevent it from curdling).
  2. Moving the sausage to one side of the pan, add your butter, sliced mushrooms, and garlic. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic for about 5 minutes, stir into the sausage when done.

    Mushrooms added!

  3. Pour in the pasta sauce over the meat and mushrooms. Add your spices. Pour the cream into the sauce, stirring quickly to incorporate. Top with chunks of parmesan, allowing them to melt as you stir them in. Let it simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes. In the meantime, cook your favourite pasta al dente.
  4. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve over your favourite pasta (SHELLS!).
Also! I served this with my beer bread, to which I added 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar. Perfect!

Cheese added.

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts

I came across this recipe after Genesis had been sautéing brussels sprouts for weeks and I wanted something new. I am not sure if this is an endorsement for anyone else but when Gen first had this he LOVED them and then asked me what kind of cheese I used on them (none… there was none… he is strange). I have had to alter the recipe to suite my needs/ items on hand. Initially I used fresh sprouts, then they became difficult to source (at least good ones were difficult to hunt down) so I started using frozen sprouts, and voila, works both ways! I have also swapped out the lemon juice for lime in a pinch. These brussels sprouts are lightly caramelized, creamy, rich, and the perfect side (or plateful). I am proud to say that my mom has called me a number of times asking for MY help with these, my parents love them! The recipe is from this lovely blog, Orangette, and it will be a recipe in my family forever.

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts

From here.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ lb brussels sprouts (about 5-6 cups… they take up a lot of space)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream (more if needed to cover)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Directions

  1. First, prep the brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip. If using frozen sprouts, you wont cut them, they’ll caramelize well enough whole, and still be delicious.

    Brussels all cut, and ready to caramelize.

     

  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes or so. Don’t skip this step, this adds a rich depth of flavour that is nicely balanced by the cream and the lemon.
  3. Pour in the cream to just about cover the sprouts, stir to mix, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 20 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.
  4. Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately with steak, pork chops, tofurkey, anything you want!

    On their way.