Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pecan Scones for a Chilly Spring Weekend

A rainy weekend is perfect for doing not much at all. This morning my Corporate Challenge event was cancelled due to the poor weather, so I got to head home to make a tasty brunch for myself. I found a recipe a while ago on Chowhound (but failed to keep a link to the original post) and while I personally thought these were a bit too vanilla-y and sugary, they were a hit with everyone else who tried them. Who am I to judge?

Pecan Scones (makes 8):
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup cold whole cream
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used PC Mixed Dried Berries)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. In a food processor, quickly blitz the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix together the egg, vanilla, and cream, then add slowly to the mixture in the food processor. Pulse until just blended, then mix in the nuts and fruit. The mixture will be very dry, so just dump everything out and form into a circle about 1 inch high. Cut into eighths and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 17 minutes.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cheese-y Chicken Quesadillas

While it's been so hot lately, I've been doing anything I can to avoid turning on the oven. My house is already a sauna, and there's no need to make it worse. My limited barbecue skills only get me so far, so my latest easy dinner has been quesadillas. Pretty much anything goes, so I can use whatever I have on hand to fill them.

Chicken Quesadillas (for 2):
2 chicken thighs, chopped in 1cm cubes
grapeseed oil
salt & pepper
rosemary, finely chopped
garlic, minced
1/4 small eggplant, chopped
1/4 small zucchini, chopped
2 button mushrooms, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
2 multigrain tortillas
cheddar cheese, shredded

In a fry pan heat up a little oil and add the chicken, s&p, rosemary, and garlic and heat through. Remove to a bowl, then add the vegetables to the same pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the chicken and mix together. Wipe clean the pan and put back on medium heat, lay down the first tortilla, add the mix and about 2 tbsp shreded cheese (or more!) to one side of the tortilla then fold over. Heat until nicely browned on both sides and the cheese is melted. Repeat.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Asparagus Tart

As a stay at home mom, I have been doing more than the usual amount of ladies lunches and brunches. With the spring influx of asparagus, I decided to make an asparagus tart. It was very easy since I never make my own pastry. It's the kind of thing you can make that will make your guest feel special, but that won't take you all day to make.

Asparagus Tart:
One box of puff pastry (rolled out)
One bunch of Asparagus
5-6 good sized mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
A wedge of brie
Chives, salt and pepper to taste

Start by baking the asparagus and sliced mushrooms for 5 minutes at 425F in olive oil salt and pepper. This just makes sure they will be cooked through even if the asparagus is thick.

Take the puff pastry and roll up the edges a bit. Poke some holes in it with a fork or knife so that it doesn't bubble up while cooking. Lay out the asparagus and mushrooms to cover. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg, and then pour the remaining egg over the tart. Cover with slices of the brie and chives and bake for 20-30 minutes (until pastry is brown). The second time I made this I added some slivers of onion, which added some nice flavour. Yum!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mango & Papya Salad

Summer weather calls for easy summer flavours. The other day I read an article indicating that North Americans get most of their "phytonutrients" from sources that are not as rich as they could be. One of the switches they recommended was to eat more papya instead of oranges, so last time I was at the store I went and bought me a papya. What to do with a papya though.... Well, mangos were on sale as well, and I regularly get avocado and feta, and that's all this salad takes! It tastes so tropical and fresh, and the saltiness of the feta keeps it from being too sweet. This is the way summer should taste, and this is the amount of time summer cooking should take. I plan to have this with fish next time I BBQ.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Vietnamese-style Pork Burgers

I've been playing around with a recipe for Vietnamese meatballs for a few years now, and have only recently gotten close to the flavour I was looking for. For any of you trying this at home, do not think that you will ever get close without fish sauce... even if you hate fish sauce. Yes, it is one of the most rank smelling foods I've had to work with, but the umami it imparts cannot be beaten. I decided to use this to update a standard burger, and served it with sliced chinese cabbage for some crunch and thinned out Thai Peanut Sauce instead of ketchup.

Vietnamese-style Pork Burgers (makes 6)
500g lean ground pork
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks lemongrass
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp szechuan pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Blitz lemongrass and garlic in the food processor until nearly a puree, then toss in the diced onion to chop a bit more finely. Mix thoroughly with the pork, fish sauce, and breadcrumbs, adding the pepper and salt to taste. (To check the flavour, pinch off a small bit and cook in a fry pan. This may seem like a waste of time, but I find I never quite achieve the taste I'm looking for without doing this.)

Grabbing small handfuls, shape into patties. I stack my leftovers between layers of parchment paper and wrap for freezing. The remaining can be pan cooked over medium-low heat or done on the barbecue. Serve with sliced chinese cabbage and peanut sauce on hamburger buns.