Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tomato, Yogurt, and Cinnamon Lamb Curry

We tried another curry from the Vij cookbook. This lamb curry is tangy because of the yogurt, but I really liked it.

Tomato, Yogurt, and Cinnamon Lamb Curry
Adapted from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine
Yield: 3 servings
Print recipe

2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb lamb leg, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp ginger, grated
5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches long
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium high heat.

  2. Brown lamb, stirring regularly, until you notice small thing lines of blood on the meat.

  3. Remove lamb from pot.

  4. Reduce heat to medium low and add cumin seeds. Saute until they sizzle, about 30 seconds.

  5. Add onions and saute until brown, about 5 minutes.

  6. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.

  7. Wrap cloves and cinnamon in cheesecloth and secure with twine. Add to pot, tying string to pot handle for easy removal.

  8. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Saute, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the spices.

  9. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until oil separates again and glistens.

  10. Add yogurt and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes.

  11. Add water. Bring to a boil.

  12. Return lamb to the pot. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until meat is cooked through.

  13. Just before serving, remove cinnamon and cloves and stir in cilantro.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chocolate Almond Crackle Cookies

No story to these cookies. Just wanted to try a new recipe, and who doesn't love the combination of chocolate and almond? They turned out a tad on the sweet side for me, but good nonetheless.

Chocolate Almond Crackle Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2010
Yield: 4 dozen
Print recipe

8 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup icing sugar
  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.

  2. Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.

  3. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

  4. Mix in melted chocolate.

  5. Add almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.

  6. Refrigerate mixture until firm, at least 1 hour.

  7. Preheat oven to 350F.

  8. Place sugar on one plate and icing sugar on another.

  9. Form dough into 1-inch balls.

  10. Roll cookies in sugar to coat, then roll in icing sugar.

  11. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  12. Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes.

  13. Let cool completely.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First Day of School

It has finally arrived - my first day of school. I still remember finding out in Hawaii that I wasn't going to start school until May 25 and that seemed so far away then. But the time has really flown and here we are - I'm a student again. It's a weird concept and it hasn't really sunk in quite yet.

Today wasn't an especially interesting day since we just did administrative things, as we will continue to do for the rest of the week. We probably won't even get into the kitchen until Friday. But I bought my textbook today, as well as my knife kit, so I finally have a proper knife bag to transport my knives, as well as all the tools I will need for school.

My class seems good so far. There are twenty of us, fifteen boys and five girls. To my relief, I am not the oldest student in the class, though there are definitely some pretty young people there too. Varying levels of experience in the industry, from zero up to about ten years.

My chef instructor learns names by repetition, and since alphabetically, my last name puts me first on the list of students, my name was the first he learned, mostly by using my name in every example he gave. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person whose name everyone in the class already knows.

We talked about our schedule for the year. Block 1 is safety, sanitation, intro to the kitchen, and knife skills. Not too exciting, but necessary. I'm most looking forward to Block 7 which is baking and pastry. Block 8 will also be interesting, being a server in the restaurant and learning about the front of the house.

It's weird to think that I'm really doing this. A year ago, this was just a dream, and now it's reality. I'm happy.

Strawberry Shortcake

The final new recipe we tried in Toronto was for strawberry shortcake. I've never made it myself before because whenever I've had shortcake, it is really dry. Not a fan.

This recipe makes one of the nicest doughs I've worked with. It comes together beautifully and is so tender I didn't even need to use a rolling pin. It is a little bit dry, but nothing like what I've had in the past. It's saying a lot that I liked it enough to make it again for A. Very yummy.

Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from Mildred Pierce
Yield: 8
Print recipe

2 cups strawberries, quartered
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brandy
  1. Combine ingredients together.

  2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Whip cream.

  2. Mix in icing sugar and almond extract.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp water
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.

  2. In a small pot, gently warm the milk and water over low heat.

  3. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

  4. Working quickly, cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.

  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk mixture.

  6. Mix with a spoon lightly just until the dough comes together.

  7. Pour out onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently for 30 seconds.

  8. Roll or flatten dough to 1-inch thickness.

  9. Cut out 2.5- to 3-inch rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  10. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are golden.

  11. Let cool slightly.

  12. Tear shortcake in half. Top with strawberries and cream and replace top half of shortcake.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Buttermilk Marinated Pork Roast with Rhubarb Chutney

Another recipe we made in Toronto was buttermilk marinated pork roast. I think my mom bought a pork shoulder which really absorbed the flavour of the marinade well and was really tenderized by the buttermilk. When I made this again for A, the roast I bought was basically pork chops, so the meat didn't absorb the marinade as well and thus was a bit tougher and less flavourful.

I think the rhubarb chutney is a great compliment to pork - it is a bit tart brings out the flavour of the pork. I also like how the chutney is pink and makes the plate really colourful.

Buttermilk Marinated Pork Roast
Print recipe

1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp ground marjoram
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried rosemary
4 sage leaves
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper
3 lb pork roast
  1. Mix all marinade ingredients together.

  2. Place pork into a ziploc bag with the marinade.

  3. Marinate in the fridge for 4 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 500F.

  5. Remove pork from bag and discard marinade.

  6. Roast pork for 10 minutes.

  7. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.

  8. Continue roasting pork for about an hour or until internal temperature reaches 150F.

Rhubarb Chutney
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2010
Yield: 1 cup
Print recipe

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated (about a 1-inch piece)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sugar
2 stalks rhubarb, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and salt until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add wine and bring to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves.

  5. Add rhubarb. Cook, partially covered, until rhubarb breaks down, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  6. Let cool completely.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fresh Pasta

I was home in Toronto for a week visiting family and friends before school starts next week (I can't believe how soon it is!). It was great to see everyone, to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, and share some delicious food. The only small downside to the trip was finding out that my favourite Indian restaurant closed. I was sad :(

My mom bought me a pasta attachment for my mixer, something I've always wanted. We made fresh pasta with marinara sauce for dinner, and it was amazing. I actually made a second batch another day for my family to freeze before I brought the machine back home, and then I made a batch the day I arrived home so A could try.

The dough is a bit dry, so it was a little bit difficult to work with at first. But the machine is so much fun - I love seeing the dough come together and flatten out, and it is so cool using the cutter and seeing the finished pasta roll out of the machine. I will definitely experiment with some different flours and ingredients in the dough, and I also want to try some raviolis.



Basic Egg Pasta
Yield: 6 servings
Print recipe

4 large eggs
3 tbsp water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Place all ingredients in mixer bowl.

  2. Using the flat beater, mix for 30 seconds.

  3. Switch to the dough hook, and knead dough for 2 minutes.

  4. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead until dough comes together.

  5. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

  6. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Flatten each piece slightly.

  7. Set the pasta attachment to the largest opening. Turn mixer on.

  8. Feed flattened dough into rollers.

  9. Fold dough in half and roll again.

  10. Repeat folding and kneading process several times until dough is smooth and pliable and covers the width of the roller.

  11. Move adjustment knob to the second setting. Feed dough through rollers.

  12. Continue to increase roller setting until desired dough thickness is reached (about 5 for spaghetti, 6 for fettuccine).

  13. Cook immediately in salted boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes.

  14. Pasta can also be dried by laying in a single layer on a towel for up to an hour. Dust with flour and form into nests to freeze in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The third and final jam-filled cookie I wanted to try was rugelach.

I've never had "real" rugelach before, so I don't know if they turned out how they are supposed to, but I thought they were pretty tasty. The chocolate, cinnamon, and jam go really well together. And of course, the look of both the crescents and the rolls is very unique.

Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 3 dozen crescents, 2.5 dozen rolls
Print recipe

1 cup butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup seedless fruit jam (not jelly) (I used raspberry)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup ground walnuts
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until well blended.

  2. Add flour all at once and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.

  3. Divide into thirds. Flatten each third in to a 6 x 4 inch rectangle or a 6 inch circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

  5. Preheat oven to 350F.

  6. On a generously floured work surface, roll out the dough. For rolled rugelach, roll the rectangle into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle with the long edge parallel to the edge of the work surface. For crescent rugelach, roll the disc into a circle with a 14 inch diameter. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Use a pastry cutter to make the shapes even, removing the excess dough to reroll later.

  7. Leaving a 1/4 inch border, spread a third of the jam over the dough.

  8. For rolled rugelach, place the chocolate chips along the edge of the jam on the long side nearest you. For crescent rugelach, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the entire surface.

  9. Sprinkle the entire surface with a quarter of the cinnamon sugar and a third of the ground walnuts.

  10. For rolled rugelach, roll the dough, starting with the chocolate chip edge, gently tucking and tightening as you go. Cut the roll into 1 1/2 inch slices.

  11. For crescent rugelach, cut the circle like a pizza, creating 8 large or 16 small even triangles. Roll up from the wide end to the point.

  12. Transfer the rugelach to a parchment lined baking sheet.

  13. Sprinkle each cookie with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

  14. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until bottoms are light golden (tops will still be blond).

  15. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

  16. Repeat with remaining dough. Dough can be rerolled as many times as necessary.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Linzer Cookies

The second cookie-with-jam recipe is Linzer cookies. These may be the best cookies I've made in a long time. Well, the cookie is essentially a shortbread dough with almonds and cinnamon (um, delicious) and some red currant jam in between two cookies to make a sandwich. Sadly, not the easiest cookies to make, but so elegant for a special occasion.

Linzer Cookies
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 20 sandwiches
Print recipe

1 1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup seedless fruit jam (not jelly) (I used red currant)
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until very fluffy.

  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, ground almonds, and cinnamon.

  3. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined.

  4. Divide the dough into thirds. Bring each third together by kneading.

  5. Place each third between 2 large sheets of parchment paper.

  6. Roll each third into a circle 1/8-inch thick.

  7. Keeping the paper in place, layer the rolled dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  8. In the meantime, boil the jelly for 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

  9. Preheat oven to 350F.

  10. Working with one portion of dough at a time, peel away the top sheet of paper.

  11. Use a 2 1/2-inch cutter to cut rounds.

  12. For half the cookies, then use a 1-inch cutter to cut out a hole in the middle.

  13. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  14. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden.

  15. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

  16. Repeat with remaining dough. Dough can be rerolled as many times as necessary. Place in freezer for a few minutes if it becomes to soft to work with.

  17. Sift icing sugar over the cookies with a hole in the middle.

  18. On the bottom of the solid cookies, spoon 1/4 tsp of the cooled jelly onto each cookie, then top with a cutout cookie.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

There are a few cookie recipes that include jam that I want to try. The first is the almond thumbprint cookies.

I found the dough hard to work with. It wasn't really as simple as rolling the dough into a ball and then pressing my thumb into it to create a well. The dough was kind of crumbly, so I had to shape each cookie, which took a long time. They turned out cute and tasty though.

Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 30 cookies
Print recipe

1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup seedless fruit jam (not jelly) (I used raspberry)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.

  2. Combine butter, oil, corn syrup, sugar, egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat on medium speed until well blended.

  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  4. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined.

  5. Shape cookies into a ball with a well in the center and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  6. Fill the wells with fruit jam.

  7. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the tops are just barely tinged with brown.

  8. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Southern Dinner

Inspired by an episode of Fresh with Anna Olson, we made buttermilk fried chicken, angel biscuits, and zucchini lemon slaw for dinner. The biscuits were my favourite - the dough was so nice to work with and it made a very attractive-looking biscuit. The slaw was my least favourite, but I ruined it by using too much garlic. I omitted the garlic from the recipe I posted below because I think it would be better with no garlic at all.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Adapted from this recipe by Anna Olson
Yield: 4-6 servings
Print recipe

1 fryer chicken, cut into equal pieces
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to a day, stirring occasionally.

Fried Chicken
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a large, flat dish, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.

  2. Without shaking off excess liquid, lift chicken pieces out of marinade and coat in flour mixture. Let chicken sit in flour, turning occasionally, while heating oil.

  3. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, fill half way with oil.

  4. Heat oil over medium high heat until it reaches 350F.

  5. Add 4 pieces of chicken and reduce heat to medium low.

  6. Fry chicken for 12 to 14 minutes, turning once. Adjust heat during cooking so that oil is around 300F.

  7. Transfer chicken to a paper towel to drain. To test for doneness, a probe thermometer should read 170F.

  8. Return oil to 350F and repeat process with remaining chicken.

Zucchini Lemon Slaw
Adapted from this recipe by Anna Olson
Yield: 3 servings
Print recipe

1 medium zucchini
1 medium carrot
1 tsp salt
2 green onions, sliced on the bias
juice and zest of half a lemon
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dill, chopped
  1. Grate zucchini and carrot coarsely.

  2. Toss with salt and let sit in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.

  3. Squeeze out excess liquid.

  4. Combine with remaining ingredients.

  5. Chill until ready to serve.

Angel Biscuits
Adapted from this recipe by Anna Olson
Yield: 6 or 7 biscuits
Print recipe

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp warm water
1 cup flour
4 tsp sugar
1/6 tsp baking soda
1/6 tsp baking powder
1/6 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
  1. In a small bowl, combine water and yeast and a pinch of sugar together. Let sit for 5 minutes.

  2. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

  3. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has a crumbly texture.

  4. Stir the yeast mixture into the buttermilk.

  5. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour.

  6. Mix until a dough comes together.

  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours.

  8. Preheat oven to 425F.

  9. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/2-inch thick.

  10. Fold the dough in half, pressing down gently.

  11. Cut out biscuits and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  12. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, until just lightly browned.

  13. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

I really like the taste of rhubarb, but I've never really eaten it in anything other than strawberry rhubarb pie.

We bought some rhubarb with the goal of not using it in a pie. I used one stalk to make a rhubarb chutney served with pork chops, which was delicious. The second stalk was used for this upside-down cake. The cake itself was really moist, and I think the rhubarb on top is really pretty. There was a crumble on the bottom of the cake, and though I'm not sure how necessary it is, I've included it in the recipe anyway.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2010
Yield: 8 servings
Print recipe

3 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl.

  2. Stir together until moist and crumbly.

1 stalk of rhubarb, cut on a very sharp diagonal, about 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
  1. Toss rhubarb with sugar and let stand for 2 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

  3. Cut the butter into pieces and dot along bottom of pan.

  4. Arrange the rhubarb and sugar in the pan.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
juice and zest of half a lemon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. In one bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.

  3. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar.

  4. Beat in lemon zest and juice.

  5. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until combined.

  6. Stir in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream.

  7. Spread batter evenly over rhubarb.

  8. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter.

  9. Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

  10. Let cool for 10 minutes.

  11. Run a knife around the edge of cake and invert.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Italian Dinner

I am definitely a little crazy for fresh bread. I had a breakfast shift at work, which started at 7am. Yet I woke up even earlier that I had to so that I could knead some dough together, all so that we could have fresh bread for homemade garlic bread.

We had also bought some cans of San Marzano tomatoes to make marinara sauce. I have been dying to try these tomatoes because they are supposed to be the best for making tomato sauce. They were pretty expensive, $6 a can, but since tomatoes are pretty much the only ingredient in marinara sauce, we were willing to splurge a little for the best. The simple sauce was really good, and I can't imagine making it with any other tomato.

Marinara Sauce
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 4 cups
Print recipe

2 cans San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 sprigs basil or oregano
6 sprigs fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat.

  2. Add tomatoes, crushed between your fingers as you add them to the pot.

  3. Add garlic and herbs.

  4. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

  5. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Remove herbs before serving, if desired.

  7. Toss with hot pasta. Top with pecorino romano cheese, if desired.

Garlic Bread
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 4 servings
Print recipe

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat broiler.

  2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.

  3. Add garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove garlic from water. Mash to a paste.

  5. Add to softened butter. Stir to combine.

  6. Cut 4 pieces of bread.

  7. Spread garlic butter on each piece of bread.

  8. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

  9. Sprinkle rosemary on top of bread.

  10. Place bread under broiler for 5 minutes, or until just golden brown.