Saturday, October 31, 2009

Carrot and Lots of Garlic Soup

This recipe was passed on to me from my Aunt Liz. I've been making it for a few years now and it's really good. We made this recipe last weekend and I'm going to make a few more batches this weekend to freeze because I love it.

2 heads garlic
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
5 C vegetable stock
3 C chopped carrots
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 C shredded fresh basil (optional)
1/4 C light sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
1/4 C minced fresh chives (optional)

1. Separate and peel garlic cloves. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; fry garlic, onion, salt and pepper, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, carrots, potato and 1 C water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Purée soup until smooth in small batches using blender. Add water to thin, if you desire (optional).

To serve, stir in basil, ladle into bowls; top with sour cream and chives.

Makes 4-6 servings.

I don't use any of the optional ingredients and it's wonderful as is. Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Girls Night Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

So I’ve been completely lazy at updating my blog lately… I know… I have a bunch of different recipes to post up here, but just haven’t gotten around to it. 

I made this cheesecake for last week’s girl night and it was pretty good. Rich, but good (don’t the two usually go hand in hand?). I find the quantities required in the recipe a bit much. My cheesecake pan was overflowing, even though I had put some of the mixture into two individual cheesecake pans. So if you’ve got the patience, you may want to make a smaller version of the recipe. Or you can do as I did and make some little individual portions. In any case, be sure to make this when you have lots of people around to eat it, as it is HUGE. Though it freezes well. I didn't bother decorating it, but I'm sure it would have been much prettier if I had (though I'm sure it tasted just the same).

This recipe comes from the cookbook 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes, which is a great cookbook. I've only made about 4 or 5 of the cheesecakes in it so far, over the years, but they've all been fantastic.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 ½ C graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 C unsalted butter, melted

5 pkgs. (each 250g) of regular cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
2 ¼ C granulated sugar
6 eggs
½ C all-purpose flour
1 C pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ C pure maple syrup
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground allspice

1. Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, ginger and butter. Press into bottom of a 10-inch ungreased cheesecake pan with 3-inch sides, and freeze.

2. Filling: In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar on medium-high speech for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour, pumpkin, vanilla, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Pour batter over frozen crust. Bake in preheated oven at 350oF for 65 to 75 minutes or until the top is light brown and the centre has a slight jiggle to it. Cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before decorating with whipped cream topping or serving.

Serves 18 to 20.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chipotle Salsa

My Aunt sent me this recipe, which she made last fall and said was highly recommended. I recently heard that Alanna was dying to get a copy of this recipe, so I figured I'd post it up now. It is taken from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen.
Servings: eight 2-cup (500 mL) jars
250 g jalapeno peppers (about 6)
1 can (7 oz/198 g) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
16 cups (4 L) coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes (about 7 lb/3.15 kg)
6 cups (1.5 L) chopped seeded Cubanelle, Anaheim or sweetbanana peppers (about 1-3/4 lb/875 g)
4 cups (1 L) chopped onions (about 2 lb/1 kg)
4 cups (1 L) chopped sweet green peppers (about 2 lb/1 kg)
4 cups (1 L) cider vinegar
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (each 5-1/2 oz/156 mL) tomato paste
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
5 tsp (25 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped fresh coriander

1. Wearing rubber gloves, seed, core and finely chop jalapeno peppers to make 1 cup (250 mL).

2. Reserving sauce, remove chipotle peppers; seed if desired and chop.

3. In large heavy nonaluminum stock pot, combine jalapeno peppers, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, tomatoes, Cubanelle peppers, onions, green peppers, vinegar, garlic, tomato paste, sugar, salt and oregano; bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 2 to 2-1/4 hours.

4. Add coriander; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

5. Fill hot 2-cup (500 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) headspace. Cover with prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken and Bechamel Crepes

My French husband spoiled me by making these crepes for dinner last night. I haven’t been feeling well lately and he was nice enough to make a stash of these to last a few nights so that I won’t have to cook. These are rich, so you won’t want to eat them every single day. But delish…

French recipes give quantities in grams rather than cups and I don’t have the equivalents. Though I’m sure you can find them on-line if you don’t have a food scale. The recipes have been translated and adapted from the Petit Larousse de la Cuisine.

Crepe batter

This batter is for savory, rather than sweet crepes.
100g of white flour (we’ve tried the recipe with whole-wheat and it doesn’t turn out well, so this is one of the recipes where I’ve conceded and use white flour)

2 eggs
1 tsp. butter
300 mL milk
pinch of salt

1. Beat the eggs and flour together with a whisk until you obtain a smooth batter. Mix in milk with the whisk.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave and mix into batter.

3. Let the batter sit for 2 hours at room temperature.

Making the crepes themselves is a bit of an art and not one that I’ve ever tackled myself. Though my husband makes it look quite easy. After searching for a good crepe pan over here for years, my husband is now quite satisfied with the Starfrit pan, which he finds makes crepe making painless.

The pan must be hot before pouring batter into it. Using less than a full ladle of batter, pour just enough batter into a crepe pan and quickly turn the pan around to spread the batter evenly across the pan. If you have a good quality pan, such as the one suggested above, you won’t need to add additional butter to cook the crepes. However, if your crepes stick, you may want to add a bit of melted butter to the pan prior to pouring the batter in.

Once you can move the crepe on the pan by shaking it a bit, the crepe is ready to be flipped. Use a spatula or flipper to help flip the pancake (though my husband likes to just flip them in the air, a bit like pizza-makers do. But I don’t, suggest you try that the first time you make this recipe!). You can also buy an adapted tool made specifically to flip crepes, in specialty kitchen stores, such as Ares. Then cook for approximately one minute, until the crepe is cooked on both sides. Remove to a plate to cool. You can pile one crepe on top of the next as they are cooked.

Béchamel Sauce

30g butter
30g white flour
300mL milk
100mL chicken broth

1. Melt butter in a small heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat without letting it brown. Gradually add the flour, stirring continually with a whisk as it is added. Continue cooking for approximately 4 minutes.

2. Heat milk in the microwave. Pour milk into the pan and mix together until fully mixed and you obtain a thick consistency.

3. Pour in chicken broth and stir until mixed.

Putting it all together:

3 boneless chicken breasts, diced small and cooked
1 pkg. mushrooms, sliced and cooked

1. Mix chicken and mushroom into béchamel sauce. Spoon mixture evenly over 6 or 7 crepes. Roll each crepe and place in a baking dish. You can optionally sprinkle the crepes with a bit of grated cheese before placing them in the oven to heat for 15 minutes (if the sauce is still hot) at 300oF. These will keep well in the fridge, likely freeze well and are good reheated.

As a variation, you can use cubed or sliced ham instead of the chicken.