24 November 2010

Homemade Oreos

Just pulled this from the lovely Cupcakes and Cashmere. Stupid easy if you have a food processor. When you first make them, the wafers will seem really hard and the cream might squish out a bit, but over time, the wafers soften ever so slightly and they're PERFECT. I prefer keeping them in the fridge, but they will hold up in the cupboard.

**Note about assembly** This recipe says that you need a piping bag in order to put the put the sandwiches together. I've done without it and it's fine. The piping bag just ensures that you get 'perfect' looking edges, but I just do it with with a teaspoon. I find twisting the top and the bottom in opposite directions as you assemble helps the cream spread out evenly throughout the cookie.

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies >>> I found it only made 20ish.

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note] >>> I stick with 1 cup and they are plenty sweet.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract >>> I've used up to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the real stuff
1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
>>>NOTE>>> Resist the temptation to chill the batter. I know it makes it easier to handle when you're trying to roll it into balls, but chilled batter will keep the cookies from spreading as much as they should. For these, you're better off with thinner, crispier cookies rather than taller, chewier cookies (speaking from experience).
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Compliments Brand Cilantro-Chili-Lime Sauce

A basic sauce you can find in the grocery store that has been amazing on every type of fish I've tried it on - shrimp, pickerel, Arctic char.

Kim Crawford (Marlborough)

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. $18.95. Just tried, totally outstanding.

01 October 2010

Pizza Dough

Found this when I couldn't find flatbread for the tomato/mushroom/arugula pizza. I spread it out square in a cookie pan and it worked well as a focaccia type crust. Next time, however, I might either take out 1/4 to allow it to spread thinner or just split the dough in half and make two smaller, thinner pizzas.

Original recipe found here.


* 1 cup warm water
* 2 tablespoons yeast - I used 1 envelope of fast-acting yeast (about 2 1/4 tbs)
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 3 1/2 cups flour
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl. The water should be about 85 to 115° F. Test it with your hand. It should feel very warm, but comfortable.
2. Add the honey and salt. Whisk until well blended.
3. Add the yeast and mix some more. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of flour and the olive oil and mix until well blended.
5. Add the rest of the flour (and any other additions) and mix well. The dough should turn into a ball. If the dough does not ball up because it's too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time until it does. If your mixture is more like a batter, add flour one tablespoon at a time. Adding water or flour as needed to get the right consistency will assure you always get a perfect dough. Just remember to do it in small amounts.
6. Once the dough is balled up, place the ball on a floured board and knead for about a minute. This builds the gluten which helps the dough to rise and become fluffy when cooked. Place the dough in a plastic grocery bag or a covered bowl and store in a warm, dry area to rise. I turned the oven on to 200 degrees and put the bowl on top.
7. After about 45 minutes the dough should have about doubled in size. Show it who's boss and punch it down. That's right, give it a good smack so it deflates. Let it rise for another hour to an hour and a half. The dough is now ready to be rolled out. You can punch the dough down one more time if you want and wait another hour or two before rolling out. The choice is yours.

NOTE: This dough can also be made in advance and refrigerated for a day or so, or even frozen. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before using.

12 August 2010


South African Shiraz. $9.00 a bottle. Friday night wine!

29 July 2010

Wyndham Estates, Bin 444

Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. $15.50 a bottle, so only for special occasions :o)

Italian Peasant Stew Remix

Made by mom. She wings it. Apparently, traditional peasant soup is started with a bacon base and done with cabbage, but yeah, not so much. If anxious about actual measurements, try googling an original recipe. Good for leftover night!

olive oil
veg broth
something tomato-y (see below)
parmesan cheese
fresh parsley
fresh bread

1.) Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil until softened.
2.) Add can of chickpeas, radicchio, and broth. It shouldn't be swimming in broth - it's more like chickpeas with some liquid than a formal stew. Cook until radicchio softens.
3.) Add a dash of something tomato-y - leftover tomato sauce, a bit of bruschetta mix, a partial can of diced tomatoes (something with a little bit of seasoning to it, though I'm sure fresh tomatoes and some salt/spices could also work).
4.) Add Parmesan. Not a crazy amount, but don't treat it like a garnish.
4.) Add however much fresh parsley (or herbs of choice - adding thyme when we were short on parsley has worked) you care for.

The radicchio has a bit of a bitterness to it, but it mellows as it stews and works with the creaminess of the chickpeas. Best served with bread on the side (but gluten-free otherwise).

03 July 2010

Railroad Red

South African Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon. About $12.80 a bottle. Very very good.

21 June 2010

Mushroom and Tomato Flatbread Topped with Fresh Arugula

Cover recipe/image from August 2007 Food and Drink - the fresh arugula is AMAZING. The cherry tomatoes take quite a while to de-seed, but are definitely worth it. I don't really know what Telaggio cheese is, but I use brie from the market sometimes and it work well. The idea of pizza with something salad-ish on top seems kind of weird at first, but in the end, it totally works. We've served this at an appetizer party before, but it also works with a vegetarian entree if you don't mind that it's kind of low protein.

Cooked pizza toppings:
2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 lb (500 g) mixed mushrooms
¼ cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Fresh pizza toppings:
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 large flat bread
8 oz (250 g) Taleggio cheese, thinly sliced or chopped
2 cups (500 mL) arugula
2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
Kosher or Maldon salt for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Toss together tomatoes and mushrooms with oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Lay tomatoes and mushrooms in 1 layer on a baking pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Let cool, and slice mushrooms.

3. Brush a baking sheet with 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil. Lay flat bread in baking sheet and brush with remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil.

4. Scatter over Taleggio cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

5. Toss arugula with the 2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar and arrange on top of flatbread. Sprinkle with salt.

Original recipe/photo.

17 June 2010

Black Bean Salad with Avocado and Wilted Arugula

1 can (540 ml) black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic or wine vinegar
A crushed clove of garlic
1 quarter cup chopped fresh Spanish onion
A handful of fresh chopped green coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
2 large handfuls fresh arugula or spinach leaves, rinsed
A pinch or two crushed dried hot red pepper flakes
6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, in halves or quarters
1 ripe avocado
Lime juice

1. Put the rinsed, drained beans into a serving bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the tree tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and the crushed garlic. Beat together and pour dressing into the black beans. Toss gently. Mix in the chopped onion and the coriander.
2. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and put in the one tablespoon of olive oil with the chopped garlic. Saute gently until garlic is golden - this will happen quickly so watch carefully. Burnt, bitter garlic means you have to start over.
3. When garlic is gold, put the arugula/spinach in the pan, with a sprinkling of salt and only the water that clings to the leaves. Cover the pan and let the greens steam for a few minutes. Take off the lid of the pan when the greens are less than half their original volume and look 'wilted'. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and stir gently. Turn off the heat when greens are tender and shining with oil.
4. Add the wilted greens to the black beans. Gently mix in the halved tomatoes and the avocado. Sprinkle the salad with lime juice. Add salt to taste Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Makes 2 meal-sized servings.

Thai-Style Tuna with Red Curry Sauce and Spicy Carrot Salad

This recipe (from Fine Cooking) was originally designed for sirloin steak, but my dad does it with seared tuna and it is *to die for*. I'm going to test it out with tofu (or maybe even some chickpeas?) sometime soon. Not sure that it can be made vegan though - I think the fish sauce is pretty essential.

1-1/2 lb. tuna steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. canola oil
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 tsp. light brown sugar
6 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1-2 jalapeƱo or serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
2/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbs. Thai red curry paste

Put 1 Tbs. oil, 2 Tbs. of the lime juice, 1-1/2 Tbs. of the fish sauce, and 1 tsp. of the sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar. Add the carrots, cilantro, and chiles and toss well to coat. This is the carrot salad to be served with the main protein.

Add 1/3 cup water to a saucepan and bring to a boil (if you used a pan to cook the protein, here's where you would deglaze). Add the coconut milk, curry paste, and the remaining 1 Tbs. lime juice, 1/2 Tbs. fish sauce, and 1 tsp. sugar; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the tuna across the grain and transfer to plates. Spoon the sauce over the top and serve with the carrot salad on the side.

Original recipe

20 May 2010

Pesto-carrot Penne with Chickpeas

This recipe came from a weekly food column in the KW Record called "30 Minute Miracles" by Luisa d'Amato. It's great for a weeknight.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot
3 or 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 28oz (796 ml) can tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp pesto
olive oil and black pepper for garnish

1. Boil salted water in a large pot and put in however much penne/rigatoni you'd like (sauce makes enough for 4 servings).

2. Puree the tomatoes in a blender or the hand blender, set aside.

3. Chop the carrot into bite-sized pieces. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the carrot. Fry 5 minutes until the carrot is browned. Put in the garlic pieces and fry 30 seconds. Pour in the pureed tomatoes, the sugar, and the tomato paste. Add the drained chickpeas. Bring everything to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add water if the sauce seems too thick.

4. When the pasta is cooked but still firm to the bite, drain and put it back in the original pot with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Just before you are ready to serve, stir the pasta into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve topped with a little pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Very tasty - might add a bit of blanched spinach next time. I made a big batch and at the leftovers for a week!

Original recipe/photo.

13 February 2010

Basic Cookie Icing

- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 drops of dye

Used on shortbread cutouts. Not perfect, but works in a pinch (put it on thin, as it will taste a bit like icing sugar). Make sure cookies are cooled and just apply with a small spoon. I put them in the fridge overnight to ensure they gelled properly, and then they were fine to stack on top of one another.

10 February 2010

To Try: Hokey Pokey


* 1/2 cup sugar
* 4 tablespoons dark corn syrup
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. You can't stir once the pan's on the heat, though.

Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt and then turn to goo and then a bubbling mass the color of maple syrup - this will take 3 minutes or so.

Off the heat, whisk in the baking soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing piece of baking parchment or greased foil.

Leave until set and then bash at it, so that it splinters into many glinting pieces.

06 February 2010

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. (I once tried to put them on the pan first and drizzle the oil on top, but it was too much oil and the oven ended up smoking up.)
Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes (could be closer to 25), until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
Optional: Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately.

03 January 2010



* 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
* 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)
* 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons tahini
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed (I've done up to 5 if I'm feeling ambitious)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt (makes it rather salty - I think I'll do 1/4 next time)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. I usually leave chunks, but it can easily be blended until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).

Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.