Friday, 21 February 2014

Maple Apple and Pear Crumble

 This is as simple and delicious as it gets. The perfect easy dessert. A bit of chopped fruit, an easy crumble and some whipped or ice cream...serve hot!!!! 
You know you can smell that cinnamon!!!!

You will need:
  • 2 apples - peeled and chopped
  • 2 pears - peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon zested fine and juiced
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup flour - all purpose
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
*note you can add some additional fruit like blueberries or raspberries or make it all one fruit!
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flour - all purpose
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cold butter - chopped into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup - 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
Whipped cream - I take 1 cup whipping cream and add 3 tbsp vanilla sugar and whip until stiff peaks
OR serve with best quality vanilla ice cream

Step 1: peel and chop fruit into small dice. Add fruit to a large bowl. Add lemon zest and juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

Step 2: pour fruit into a 9x9 pan or small ceramic dish.

Step 3: in a small bowl add ingredients for crumble. Add brown sugar, rolled oats, flour cinnamon, vanilla and butter. Use your fingers to massage butter into dry ingredients which will break butter into smaller chunks. This is not a huge amount of crumble if you prefer more I would suggest doubling the crumble portion of this recipe. I like the simple fruit with a modest amount of topping but, if you like more go ahead. Sprinkle crumble over fruit and finally drizzle the maple syrup over the top of the crumble. You can also add more maple syrup if you like.

Step 4: bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20-30 minutes until fruit is soft and bubbling and the crisp is browned. 

Serve hot with sweet whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The house smells like heaven and the dessert is a classic combination of hot and sweet and the contrast of the cool cream.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Pasta e Fagioli - Pasta and Beans

Pasta e Fagioli or Pasta and Beans is a simple dish of pasta and beans and can be made dozens of ways. It can be made thick or thin and with or without a bit of leftover beef or pancetta. It is a satisfying dish served with a drizzle of good olive oil, some grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh bread.

You will need:
  • *optional - 1 piece of cooked steak or leftover roast is great here or a few sliced of chopped pancetta 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 fresh tomatoes or 1 small can diced 
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 x 14 oz. cans of cannellini beans - I can is rinsed and pulsed and the other is rinsed and whole
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups ditale or tubetti pasta
  • optional : a rind from Parmesan cheese, 5-6 chopped artichokes canned or jarred

  • serving suggestions: pour on some good extra virgin olive oil, grate some Parmesan cheese, drizzle some aged balsamic vinegar, add some fresh chopped basil or parsley

This is a great place to use a piece of leftover steak/roast or slice of ham/pancetta. If you are planning on using a piece of meat you can cook it separately and once cooked add it to the soup. I have prepared this steak by sprinkling meat with a bit of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and sauteing it in a pan with olive oil. Once seared I slowly cooked it in some red wine for an hour until it was tender. If you are using some pancetta or ham you can add it to the vegetables and saute.

Step 1:  in a food processor add your sofrito. Onion, carrot, celery, garlic. Mince until fine.

Step 2: add fresh rosemary and fresh basil. Mice again.

Step 3: in a pot add sofrito, good quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes on medium heat. If you are using some prosciutto or pancetta (un-smoked bacon) saute it at this stage with the vegetables. You can also omit the meat entirely.

Step 4: add tomatoes and oregano to the food processor (you can use canned if you prefer) and blend until it creates a tomato puree. Remove to a small bowl.

Step 5: add 1 can of cannellini beans to processor and puree. This will be used as your thickener and the second can is left whole in the soup.

chop or shred your meat if using.

Step 6: add meat, tomatoes, and pureed beans. Mix well.

Step 7: add bay leaf and chicken/vegetable broth and if you have any leftover Parmesan cheese rinds
(I keep them in a bag in the freezer) or some artichokes. Let simmer on medium-low for 30-40 minutes. 

Step 8: add your ditali or tubetti pasta and cook another 15 minutes. 

thinner soup with beef

thicker version made with a bit of pancetta

You can make this soup thick or thinner by adding more or less broth. You can serve with a drizzle of good olive oil or aged balsamic vinegar. Add some fresh chopped basil or a grating of fresh Parmesan.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Olive You Chocolate Cake

This is an easy single layer chocolate cake with yummy for you ingredients like yogurt and olive oil. You don't need any special skills to simply glaze the top and your sweetheart will love you for making something special to say you care! Happy Valentines Day.

You will need:
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp real (never artificial!) vanilla
  • 1 cup flour - all purpose
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs - room temperature
  • 2/3 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil ) or chocolate olive oil!!
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 100 grams - chopped good dark chocolate
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch by 2 inch high pan.

Step 1: in a small bowl add hot coffee and cocoa powder. Mix with a whisk until smooth.

Step 2: in another small bowl add dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.

Step 3: in a larger bowl add eggs, olive oil (I have used a combination of chocolate olive oil from Lucero Olive Oil - get some online! and a fruity olive oil but you can just use the plain ) sugars and yogurt. Blend with a hand mixer for 3 minutes until thick and glossy.

Step 4: pour egg mix into chocolate mix (or vice versa whatever bowl is bigger!) mix with the hand mixer for 30 seconds - 1 minute.

Step 5: add dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and hit pan on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. You can flip over with another rack or plate.

Step 6: melt chocolate and butter in a microwave or bowl over hot water and pour warm chocolate over cake. Let stay at room temperature to set or place in fridge. Always let cake come to room temperature before serving for best flavour.

Nothing says I love you like chocolate!! I LOVE YOU!!!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Pork Pot Stickers

 You can certainly make these with store bought won ton wrappers but, why not try making the dough. It is really easy and tastes so much better. I have made the filling with very lean pork tenderloin that I have chopped up by hand. You can make a simple soy dipping sauce to serve them with.

 Once made the pot stickers can be frozen or cooked by frying briefly and then steaming in a bit of water. They have a great crunchy, brown bottom and a soft juicy interior. You wont be able to stop eating them!

You will need:
  • 300 grams of pork tenderloin - chopped fine
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp fresh pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped fine/or crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 spring onion/scallion - chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped bok choy or spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups flour - all purpose
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 220 ml of boiling water

Dipping sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp chili oil
  • pinch of sugar

Step 1: slice the cleaned tenderloin (you only need a small one) and then chop into smaller pieces. You can use two knives to almost mince the tender meat by hand.

Step 2: add all your flavourings to the tenderloin in a small bowl. Add: baking soda, corn starch, salt, pepper, sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, spring onion, soy sauce, Worcestershire, sesame oil and either finely sliced baby bok choy or baby spinach. Stir and set aside.

Step 3: in a large bowl add flour, salt and boiling water. Start by stirring ingredients in the bowl then turn out onto the counter. Knead the dough 5 minutes until soft and smooth. If you need a bit more flour you can add it. Wrap in plastic and let sit in fridge 30 minutes.

Step 5: divide ball in half and work one half at a time. Leave the other half wrapped in the plastic to avoid the dough from drying out. Take the half and roll into a log. Cut the dough into half and keep diving each piece in half until you have 16 balls. With a rolling pin and flour to prevent sticking try to create roundish pot stickers (they don't have to be perfect but, aim for a round) 

Step 6: take a teaspoon or so of filling (this one probably needs a bit more filling) place on the piece of dough held in your hand and flatten the meat with the spoon slightly. 

Pinch the centre to hold it in place.

then going from centre to each edge, make small folds and pinch to close. The folds are made only on one side of the dough.

then seal the other side starting from the centre, again folding until you reach the edge. You should now have a cute little sealed dumpling. This dough is nice and soft and does not require water to seal it. You should get a dumpling that forms a fat half moon shape with a flat bottom so it will stand up.
 Repeat 35 more times until you are done.

Place finished dumplings on a generously floured sheet pan and do not let them touch each other to avoid sticking. I like to freeze them on the pan for at least 15 minutes even if I am going to cook them right away. If you want to save them for another day. Once they are frozen remove them from the sheet pan and place into a Ziploc bag.

Step 7: heat a large pan (one that has a lid) with a bit of oil and place the pot stickers in the pan. Cook until the bottom gets browned. Once browned add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of water to pan and cover. Cook until water evaporates and you can hear them sizzle again. 

Serve with a simple dipping sauce and enjoy hot!