Sunday, 13 November 2016

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls



These are perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning but they will also just make any Sunday morning special. You can always make them at night, roll them out and let them rise for the final time in the fridge overnight. Big Pete loved them. They have a nice fluffy texture as all cinnamon buns should and just a little hint of spice and pumpkin!! YUMMY!!

You will need:
  • 2/3 cup warm milk (I microwave for 20 seconds)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 pkg of yeast
  • 1/2 cup of mild buttery olive oil - don't use anything that says Light - I used a gorgeous Ascolano from Wild Groves California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/12 -4 cups of all purpose flour - a bit more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Filling
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6-7 tbsp very soft butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Glaze
  • 4 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 -1 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar (I like it with 1 cup sugar but, you might like it sweeter)



Step 1: warm the milk in the microwave for 20 seconds just so that it is warm to the touch not hot. Add the honey and yeast, stir and leave for 5 minutes to make sure yeast activates.


Step 2: add the yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and add the remaining wet ingredients: 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. I have used my new friend Dewey Lucero's gorgeous Ascolano (go to his website Wild Groves Olive Oil wildgroves.com to get some!) add the canned pumpkin, the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Step 3: In another bowl add the dry ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and baking soda.


Step 4: add the dry to the wet and mix with the paddle or dough hook for approx 30 seconds until just combined. It will be a wet dough. 

Step 5: cover and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.


Step 6: get your remaining 1 cup flour (might need a bit more) and a scrapper works well. I pour out the flour and mix and fold in the remaining flour. I add just enough flour so that it is not sticky but it is still a lovely soft dough. I roll out a big rectangle and then add the filling.


Step 7: in a small bowl make the filling: add the brown sugar , salt, 2 tbsp bourbon, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Mix with your fingers or a spoon.  Then spread out the softened butter in an even layer on the top of the dough. Sprinkle the filling evenly leaving a bit of an edge.


Step 8: roll up so you have a long skinny roll, not a short fat roll. Slice into 1 1/2 inch rolls. I always cut the whole roll in half and each in half until you have the even slices you like. Place into a buttered dish with room around each and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until they are nicely browned around the edges.


Step 9: make the glaze: in a bowl add soft cream cheese, bourbon and powdered sugar, mix with the hand mixer until smooth.


Let rolls cool and smear some of the cream cheese glaze on top of each. They taste great when still slightly warm .


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Warm Spinach Salad- Dinner for one!


Eating alone does not have to be take out or something boring. Big Pete is away at a conference and I still like to cook something delicious even if I am dining alone...because I am worth it!

This is a simple spinach salad with a half a chicken breast and the dressing is made right in the pan then poured over the salad while still warm.


You will need:

  • a few big handfuls of baby Spinach or Spinach and Arugula
  • 2 strips of bacon 
  • 1/2 small yellow onion - sliced into half rings
  • a few slices of red onion
  • great extra virgin olive oil (always!! I am using a beautiful Itrana from Quatrociocchi ) you will use some for cooking and some to finish
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 chicken breast sliced -cooked then chopped
  • 6-7 white mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 small tomato chopped into small dice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of jalapeno jelly
  • salt and pepper to taste 


Step 1: cook a couple of slices of good quality bacon on a medium heat flipping it from time to time to get an even crispiness. I like mine just shy of cooked until it is crumbly but you cook it as you like. Once cooked remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb excess fat and set aside to cool, then chop.


Step 2: toss a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach and arugula to a big bowl. There are lots of other ingredients here so don't worry that this is not enough.


Step 3: slice up a half a yellow or white onion and saute on medium heat in a bit of your good olive oil (honestly don't ever buy that junk stuff from the grocery store buy real oil of decent quality no matter what!) saute until browned. While your onions cook slice up a bit of red onion into half rings and toss along with a handful of blueberries into your bowl with the greens. 
Chop up your tomato and set in a small bowl.


This salad is a combination of raw and cold and warm and spicy. The tartness of the blueberries along with the raw onion goes so nicely with the warm chicken covered in the sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly. 


Step 4: add a splash of balsamic vinegar when the onions are just starting to brown. Cook for a minute or two more then add your chicken. Remember to add a bit of salt and pepper and cook chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and chop. You should have your chicken chopped, your tomato chopped and your bacon chopped. 



Step 5: in the same pan saute the mushrooms until nicely golden around the edges and then add back the meat, your mustard, the jalapeno jelly and a dash of red wine vinegar. Stir until a simple sauce starts to form. 


Step 6: add all remaining ingredients. Cook 1 more minute.



Toss the warm ingredients over the cold taste and adjust for salt and pepper once more. I also always add a little drizzle of my great olive oil for a perfect raw oil finish. Think of olive oil as a condiment here. Eat right away!










Sunday, 28 August 2016

Salted Chocolate Cheesecake Bites



I just wanted a bit of something decadent and these came to mind. I created a half batch but it can easily be doubled. You can freeze them for a perfect frozen bite when you get a hankering for a little something!...OK maybe you might want 2!

What you need:

Small Batch


  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese - room temperature
  • 1 egg - room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or pure extract- the paste is worth looking for!)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
Crust
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or just regular sugar)
  • pinch of salt
*use a loaf pan used for baking a loaf of bread
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Full Batch
  • 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese - room temperature
  • 2 eggs - room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 heaping tbsp vanilla sugar
  • pinch of salt
*use a small brownie pan 7 x 11 or 8 x 8 square pan

  • 1 4 oz bar of dark chocolate (or 2 for full batch)
  • 1 tsp of coconut oil (or 2 for the full batch)
  • Maldon sea salt


Heat oven to 325 degrees F 


Step 1: in a stand mixer place softened cream cheese - using the paddle attachment mix for a minute, then scrape the paddle and bowl to mix well and avoid lumps.

Step 2: add sugar and mix again for another minute, then scrape down bowl and paddle to avoid lumps. Add eggs, vanilla paste and cornstarch and mix again for 3 minutes -scraping  once to make sure it is a smooth mixture.


Step 3: in a large bowl add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and pinch of salt. Mix with a wooden spoon.


Step 4: place parchment paper in the pan so that there is an overhang as you will be lifting the baked cheesecake out and onto a cutting board to slice. Press crust mix into the pan in an even layer.


Step 5: Pour cheesecake mix over crust and bake 30-35 minutes or until the centre is slightly wobbly - the parameter  will puff and get slightly browned. The centre should be only slightly wobbly - no longer liquid.


Step 6: let cool, then slice into small squares, mine were 1 inch approx. If you want to cut off the uneven edges you slices will be perfect. Use a large knife dipped in hot water and then dried on a tea towel -for each smooth cut. Place separated squares on a cookie rack over a sheet pan to scrape up extra chocolate.



Step 7: Melt dark chocolate bar or two (small batch big batch!) and 1 or 2 tsp of coconut oil - you can use a double boiler to melt chocolate or just do it in a microwave in 20 second increments until melted.


Step 8: pour slowly over the squares to coat as much as you like -reusing the excess. Let set for 20 minutes or so and then add a sprinkle of flaked sea salt. You can keep in the fridge or freeze them for a frozen 1 bite treat.


OK, I might just need 1 more!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Filipino Chicken Adobo


 My pal Dan was talking about his favorite foods from the Philippines and Chicken Adobo came up in the conversation! I said "I have never made Chicken Adobo!" His eyes lit up and he described the sweet, sour and rich tastes he remembered growing up. I said "I have to make that!" 

So this one was made with love for Dan! and of course Big Pete! 

This is slow simmered until it thickens and gets all dark and wonderful. It is sweet, sour and tangy. Served piping hot over fragrant Jasmine rice, I promise you will love it!

You will need:
  • 8-10 organic chicken thighs 
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic -chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes (crushed or pieces)
  • 1 small onion
  • scallions or onion sprouts to serve
  • your favorite rice - I like Jasmine
  • 1 small pork tenderloin chopped in large slices(optional for a Pork & Chicken Adobo version - if you prefer!)


Step 1: I like to clean off some of the big pieces of fat on the thighs and then I cut them in half or quarters. Place in a large bowl.


Step 2: take an onion and lots of garlic and mince finely. This will just disappear in the sauce. Add to chicken. 


Step 3: add your cider (or white) vinegar and soy to the bowl.


Step 4: add the palm sugar or brown sugar if you don't have palm (you can find it in any good grocery store or health food store)


Step 5: you can add canned tomatoes but I had fresh seasonal so I just did a rough chop and threw them in the food processor. Add to the bowl. Add the cracked peppercorns - don't worry you can add lots!


Step 6: marinate for a few hours or overnight.


Step 7: OPTIONAL* you can  also add some pork tenderloin but, I do not add until the last 1/2 hour of cooking. I have chopped into similar sized pieces as the chicken and you can add some of the sauce to it to marinate before adding to the pot.


Step 8: add to a large heavy pot - this is when I bring out the heavy enamelled cast iron Le Crueset.(they are worth every penny by the way!) Turn on medium heat, let come to a boil and then just lower to a steady blip for 3 hours or until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is tender. If you are adding the pork add it in the last 15- 30 minutes because the meat is so tender.


It gets all thick and dark caramelly brown!! My mouth is watering just looking at this picture.


Serve over Jasmine rice and a few onion sprouts or scallions to make it pretty!

The boy could hardly wait to eat a big bowl of it! Big Pete approved!!

I hope Dan liked it too!!