Tag Archives: recipe

12 Days of Cookies – Shortbread Cookies – Day 12

12 Dec

As much as I have enjoyed being back in the kitchen, I breathed a large sigh of relief as the last batch of cookies went in the oven. After 12 days of baking a new recipe every day (and all of the cleaning, photographing, and writing that comes along with it), I am exhausted! It has been a good experience but I can’t lie, at times it has been a challenge. I decided to finish with a simple, traditional shortbread cookie. Although shortbread doesn’t rate highly on my favourites list, others seem to love these classic, buttery morsels, and I’m all about giving the people what they want. Seriously though, I was so tired when I made these that I just wanted the quickest recipe with the least ingredients – ta da!! – shortbread to the rescue!

With only four ingredients; flour, sugar, butter, corn starch, most home cooks have these ingredients in the house so you can throw these together at the last minute if you have some guests coming around and want to serve them some fresh, hot cookies. Plus, these are so easy to make that you could have your kids help with these ones.

Things I’ve learned about baking 12 batches of cookies in 12 days:

  • Baking is finicky and difficult.
  • I am not patient enough to deal with finicky recipes or making cookies look pretty.
  • You go through a LOT of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour when baking 12 batches of cookies.
  • Any cookie that is stuffed with candy is a crowd favourite.
  • You really can’t go wrong with jam in a cookie. 2 of my favourites were the PB&J Thumbprints and the Raspberry Cream Cheese Pastries.
  • Cookies are a good conversation starter.

Now that the 12 Days of Cookies challenge is completed, I’m going to focus on getting ready for my parents upcoming trip. Yes! After almost three years (!!!) apart, my parents will be spending Christmas and New Years (and my birthday!) with us in Vancouver! Can you tell I’m just a wee bit excited?! We have a bunch of Christmas stuff planned for them whilst they are here and we are taking a road trip down to Portland and the Oregon Coast. I. Am.So. Excited!

Happy Baking!

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12 Days of Cookies – Glazed Lemon Cookies – Day 11

11 Dec

After days of heavy rain here in Vancouver, I think I was desperately looking for a “zing!” when I selected Martha Stewart’s Glazed Lemon Cookies to bake for Day 11. When you use real lemons (not a weird bottled lemon juice), you can certainly taste it; your saliva glands get all tingly and you may, or may not, make an ugly I’m-eating-sour-lemons face. These cookies called for lemon juice and lemon zest for the cookie and for the glaze, so there is no denying the citrus kick in these.

Do you remember on Day 8 when I said I was too lazy to make the glaze for the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies? Well, in an effort to redeem myself as a baking slob, I did make the glaze for this cookie and personally, I don’t think the cookie needed it. Without the glaze, the cookie was a good balance of slightly sweet and a touch of citrus. When I added the glaze, they became too sweet and too citrus-y. See, there is a benefit to my laziness!

The appeal in these cookies was, not only in the gentle hint of lemon, but also just how quick this recipe was to pull together. If you also skip the glaze, these cookies could be fresh on the table in 30 to 45 minutes. Boom! Cookie bomb. I’d absolutely bake these again…sans lemon glaze.

12 Days of Cookies – Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles – Day 9

9 Dec

We are closing in on the end of “12 Days of Cookies” and one of the most important things that I’ve learned from this baking challenge is that any cookie stuffed with candy is likely going to be a winner. The Chewy Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies from Day 6 have been my favourite cookie so far and so when I saw that this was another recipe that called for more candy to be added to cookie dough, it was quickly added to the list.

This recipe isn’t rocket science. You start with the very simple recipe for Snickerdoodles (this cookie dough is lethal for eating out of the bowl – I couldn’t say no to numerous taste tests) and then wrap the dough around a Rolo. Voila! Rachel Schultz’s blog has helpful (and tempting) pictures to guide you through mastering wrapping dough around a Rolo. That brings me to another thing I’ve learned from the baking challenge – there are some really talented food bloggers out there. The daily search for cookie recipes had led me to discover some pretty cool new blogs.

Now, back to the cookies, see that indent in the middle of the cookie in the picture? Yeah…that is a gooey chocolate/caramel pocket. Get in my face!

Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce

5 Jan

I have a habit of taking photos of enticing recipes whilst reading magazines in waiting-rooms. My intention is to cook whatever it is immediately but the reality is that the photo sits on my phone for months, even years, without me ever glancing at, let alone actually making the dish. This is just pure laziness on my behalf and I’d like to change that.

On New Years Eve, rather than going out to party, B and I stayed in and I attempted to make at least a few of the recipes that have been lying dormant on my phone. I knew that B and I would be sharing a bottle of bubbles to celebrate New Years Eve so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to stop procrastinating and make the Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce recipe that I’ve been eyeing off for ages. This recipe comes from the Spring 2013 issue of “Taste” magazine, which you can pick up from BC Liquor.

Of course you don’t need to use actual Champagne for this recipe. A good sparkling wine or Prosecco will suffice (and it is much cheaper). Another substitute you may have to make is with the pasta. I had difficulties finding angel hair pasta so I opted for spaghettini instead – I don’t think it really makes much of a difference. I found this recipe to be quite simple, yet impressive enough that I’d recommend it for a date night, or if you are trying to impress some guests (it could be served as an appetizer in a smaller portion). Happy New Year!

Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce – Makes Serves 4

1 1/2 cups (375ml) of Champagne, or sparkling wine
4 shallots, minced
4 Tbsp (60ml) whipping cream
1/2 cup (125ml) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 lb (500 grams) of angel hair pasta, or spaghettini
2 tsp (10ml) butter
1 tsp (5ml) olive oil
1 1/2 lb (750 grams) of quality scallops, hinge muscle removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp (60ml) chives, chopped

Method
In a small saucepan, combine Champagne and shallots and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup (125ml), 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in whipping cream and cubed butter, a few cubes at a time. Return pan to low heat and continue whisking until all butter has been added. Remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add salt and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve pasta.

When sauce is ready, add pasta and stir to coat. In a heavy non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp (5ml) butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sear until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange seared scallops on a nest of hot pasta and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Jamie Oliver’s Eggy Breakfast Crumpets

25 Jun

Crumpets are a delicious way to start a morning. We always used to have crumpets in my house when I was growing up and I ate them frequently as I considered them a more interesting alternative to regular toast. Thick, spongy, and porous they are perfect dripping with butter and covered in either honey, or a spread of Vegemite (for the Aussies amongst us).

Unfortunately, crumpets aren’t that easy to come by here in Vancouver but I have discovered them in the Whole Foods on Cambie Street. If you’ve not had a chance to try crumpets yet, this dish is a tasty, and slightly fancy, introduction. Essentially this dish is French Toast made with crumpets, rather than bread. The chilli adds a nice touch and isn’t too obvious, and as the crumpets are neither sweet nor savoury, you really can personalize it with your choice of topping.

My only tip with this recipe is that you may need three eggs instead of just two to make the egg mixture, depending on how quickly your crumpets absorb the eggs. Overall, this is a yummy, fast way to enjoy crumpets and breakfast.

Jamie Oliver’s Eggy Breakfast Crumpet – Serves 2

2 large organic eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground back pepper
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
6 slices of good quality bacon
Olive oil
4 round crumpets
Brown sauce (HP sauce) or maple syrup, to serve

Method:
Crack your eggs into a bowl and give them a little whisk with a small pinch of salt and pepper and most of the chopped chilli. Then heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and fry the bacon in a tiny amount of olive oil. Let it crisp up on both sides.

Meanwhile, get your crumpets and really push them into the egg and chilli mixture. Turn them over a few times – they’ll soak it up like a sponge. Push the golden bacon to one side and tilt the pan so the fat runs into the middle. Add the crumpets to the pan and fry them for a few minutes until golden, then turn them over and fry them on the other side.

Serve the eggy crumpets topped with the crispy bacon, with a dollop of brown sauce or a drizzle of maple syrup. To finish, you can sprinkle over the extra chopped chilli (if desired).

Jamie Oliver’s Strawberry Salad with Speck & Halloumi

24 Jun

Strawberry Salad with Speck & Halloumi

Summer is officially here! To me, that means:

  • Enjoying warm, sunny days
  • Getting out into nature
  • Sun-kissed skin and sun-induced freckles
  • The sizzle of the BBQ grill
  • Colourful, heavily-scented flowers
  • Indulging in seasonal foods, like berries and stone fruits

Strawberries

Besides the fact that BC strawberries are unbelievably tempting at the moment, I decided to make this salad because I promised you some recipes that include halloumi, and because summer is the perfect time to experiment with salads.

Considering that frying the halloumi was the toughest part of the recipe, I think we can safely say that this is an easy dish to make. Although I wouldn’t rave about this salad, I did enjoy the textures of the crispy halloumi paired with the tender flesh of the strawberries. What I think is key with this salad (and a general rule when cooking) is to find the best ingredients you can. If you have the freshest, juiciest strawberries and a good quality meat (try Oyama if you are in Vancouver), then those ingredients will take this salad to the next level.

Jamie Oliver’s Strawberry Salad with Speck and Halloumi – Serves 4

12oz strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
Good-quality balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh basil, leaves picked
9 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 8 thin slices
A few sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
A handful of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
8 slices of speck (you could also use a prosciutto)

Method:
In a bowl, drizzle the sliced strawberries with a good splash of balsamic vinegar, the lemon juice and some extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. This will draw out and flavour the lovely strawberry juices.

Preheat a large non-stick frying pan to medium hot and add a splash of olive oil. Press a basil leaf onto each slice of halloumi. Place the slices, leaf side down, in the frying pan and fry for a minute. Turn over carefully and fry for another minute until the halloumi is light golden and crisp.

Get yourself four plates and place a couple of pieces of the crispy halloumi on each. Put the mint, the rest of the basil leaves and the salad leaves into the bowl with the strawberries and toss together. Pile some of the strawberry mixture in the middle of each plate and drape the speck over the top. Finish with more salad leaves. To serve, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe from Jamie at Home.

Inside-Out Scotch Eggs

12 May

As much as I love brunch, there are times when I crave something different to the usual brunch items of bacon and eggs, French toast, or bennies. But it can be difficult to find a dish that is “different”, yet still late morning/early afternoon appropriate. When I discovered this recipe in my April edition of delicious magazine, I knew that it was going to be a good one, and indeed, I was right. The idea is a simple one – simply squeeze out the filling from a sausage and cover it in breadcrumbs – but if you choose your sausages correctly (flavourful, fatty ones) then this will be an impressive dish. I cooked this at a recent brunch that I hosted and it was very well-received (even the kids loved it). Seriously, who could turn down a crunchy-coated sausage??

As with most of the recipes that I enjoy cooking, this one takes hardly any time to make and is not overly complicated. The only advice I need to give on this one is to make sure that you use the tastiest, juiciest sausages that you can get your mitts on (Vancouverites, think Oyama Sausage). Also, for a bit of extra crunch you could substitute panko crumbs for the breadcrumbs.

Inside-Out Scotch Eggs – Serves 4

500 grams thick pork and herb sausages (the best you can afford)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, or panko
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 eggs
Rocket (arugula) leaves, to serve

Method:
Squeeze sausage meat from the casings, then roll into 4 portions and flatten into patties. Coat patties in half the crumbs, then chill for 10 minutes to firm up.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Fry patties, turning, for 8 to 10 minutes until golden, crisp and cooked through. Transfer to a plate to keep warm.

Return the pan to the heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry remaining 1/2 cup crumbs for 3 to 4 minutes until golden, then toss with herbs and lemon zest. Set aside.

Fill a wide shallow saucepan with water, add vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer. One by one, crack the eggs into a teacup. Swirl the water using a spoon to create a whirlpool, then carefully slide the eggs into the water. Cook for 3 minutes or until poached but yolks are still soft. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on a tea towel.

To serve, divide patties and eggs among 4 plates, top with crumbs, rocket and a drizzle of oil, then season well.

Recipe from April 2013 delicious magazine.