Closet Cooking Logo

Grilled Pear Salad With Port Vinaigrette

Grilled Pear Salad With Port Vinaigrette


There were still a lot of local pears at the farmers market on the weekend and I picked some up. I was looking for recipes to use them with when I came across this one for a grilled pear salad with a port vinaigrette. With pears, walnuts, pancetta, and blue cheese this salad sounded pretty good. Up until recently I did not really like blue cheeses. If you have been following my blog you will know that gorgonzola cheese is now one of my favorite cheeses. This recipe called for Roquefort cheese and Roquefort is another one of the big blue cheeses and I wanted to try it. This salad was pretty good. The sweetness of the pear and vinaigrette went well with the tangy Roquefort cheese and salty pancetta. I really like the tang and the creaminess of the Roquefort cheese. This salad was a bit more work to make but it was worth it.

Ingredients:
1 handful walnuts (chopped)
1 ounce pancetta (chopped)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pear (cored and sliced)
1 cup Port Wine
1 serving salad greens
1 tablespoon red onion (sliced)
1 ounce Roquefort cheese (crumbled)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 350F oven until fragrant, about 5-10 minutes.
2. Fry the pancetta in a pan until crisp, about 5-10 minutes.
3. Toss the pears in the oil and grill until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
4. Simmer the port wine in a small sauce pan until it has reduced by half and is syrupy, about 5-10 minutes.
5. Place the salad green on a plate and top with the walnuts, pancetta, pears, onion and cheese.
6. Mix 1 tablespoon of the port syrup with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and pour it on the salad.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.

Similar Recipes:
Pear Salad with and Bacon, Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts

Chestnut and Chocolate Ice Cream

Chestnut and Chocolate Ice Cream


The other week when I first tried fresh roasted chestnuts I thought that chestnuts would make a good ice cream. I noticed that this months In The Bag event at A Slice of Cherry Pie called for chestnuts, chocolate and sugar. I though that chestnut and chocolate ice cream sounded really nice. I know, I know, its cold now and not really the time for ice cream...

The first step to making the chestnut ice cream would be to figure out how to get the chestnuts into the ice cream. I would need to puree the chestnuts but the roasted chestnuts that I made previously were rather hard and I did not think that they would puree all that well. After looking around a bit I found that you could peel chestnuts by boiling them and soften them by simmering them and then puree them. I though that I would also roast and chop some chestnuts and put them in the ice cream to get the flavour and texture of the roasted chestnuts. For the chocolate, I grabbed a 3 ounce bar of dark chocolate and melted 2/3rds of it and chopped the remaining chocolate so that I would have some nice chocolate chunks in the ice cream.

The chestnut and chocolate ice cream turned out really well. The flavours of the chestnuts and chocolate were well balanced. The ice cream was not too sweet. The texture of the of the soft chestnuts and the solid chunks of chocolate were really nice. I think that this is one of the best chocolate ice creams that I have had. I really like the texture of the ice cream when it just comes out of the ice cream maker, almost like soft serve ice cream. But it does not take the best picture at that point...

Ingredients:
2 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup chestnut puree
1 ounce dark chocolate (chopped)
1 handful roasted chestnuts (chopped)

Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate into the cream over a double boiler, reduce the heat and keep warm.
2. Heat the cream, milk and sugar in a sauce pan until it almost boils, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to low.
4. Add one tablespoon of the cream mixture to the egg to temper it.
5. Add the egg to the sauce pan.
6. Cook at low heat until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
7. Add the melted chocolate and chestnut puree and stir.
8. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
9. Add the chocolate chunks and chopped chestnuts.
10. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

Similar Recipes:
Chestnut Cheesecake

How to Make Chestnut Puree

I have been looking for chestnut recipes lately and I have seen a few that call for chestnut puree. Since I have a bunch of fresh chestnuts I thought: Why don't I make my own chestnut puree? When making the chestnut puree I used boiled chestnuts as they are softer than roasted chestnuts. Chestnut puree comes both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. If you wasted to make a sweetened puree you could just add sugar or some other sweetener such as maple syrup or honey, etc.

Ingredients:
12 chestnuts (boiled and peeled)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Directions:
1. Place every thing in a small sauce pan. (The liquid should just cover the chestnuts.)
2. Simmer the chestnuts until soft, about 10-20 minutes. (Watch them as milk can quickly boil over the side of a pan.)
3. Scoop the chestnuts out of the liquid, reserving the liquid.
4. Puree the chestnuts using as much of the reserved liquid as required.

Use in:
Chestnut Cheesecake

How to Boil Chestnuts

The last time I had chestnuts I roasted them in the oven. This time I wanted to try boiling them. Boiling the chestnuts took less time and they were easier to peel but they did not taste quite as good. Roasting the chestnuts also smelled really amazing. One benefit of boiling the chestnuts is that it starts to soften them.

Directions:
1. Cut an X into one side of the chestnuts.
2. Boil the chestnuts in water for 5-10 minutes.
3. Let the chestnuts cool in the water until you can handle them.
4. Peel the shells and the skin from the nuts.

Similar Recipes:
How to Roast Chestnuts

Use boiled chestnuts in:
Italian Lentil and Chestnut Stew

Misoyaki Salmon

Misoyaki Salmon


It had been a while since I had done a misoyaki dish. A misoyaki dish is similar to a teriyaki dish where the meat is marinated in a sweet and salty miso sauce. I had always done misoyaki with pork cutlets but I recently came across a post about misoyaki salmon. Salmon is probably my favorite fish and I hardly need an excuse to try it misoyaki style. I normally marinate the pork for just an hour before cooking it but I decided to try marinating the salmon overnight for even more flavour. It turned out to really good. The salmon was tender, juicy, sweet and salty. The next time I think I would like to try the misoyaki with the black cod that is mentioned in the post. I have never had black cod and it sounds interesting.

You can easily change the saltiness, sweetness, smoothness, and liquidity of the misoyaki sauce by changing the ratio of the ingredients. All of the ingredients should be available in the Asian section of your grocery store or at a local Asian grocery store. You can marinate for just an hour or up to several days. Once the marinading is done the meal cooks in a matter of minutes. You can marinate pretty much any type of meat. I would also imagine that the misoyaki sauce would go well on vegetables.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon soy
1 tablespoon sugar
1 serving salmon

Directions
1. Mix the miso, sake, mirin, soy and sugar in a bowl.
2. Place the salmon, and miso sauce in a ziplock bag and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
3. Bake the salmon in a preheated 450F oven for a few minutes (the exact time will depend on how thick the salmon is).
4. Broil the salmon until golden brown on top, about 1-3 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Salmon Teriyaki
Pan Seared Salmon on Spinach in Tarragon Sauce
Pan Seared Salmon on Thai Curried Spinach
Pan Seared Salmon with Dill Sour Cream Sauce
Broiled Halibut with Orange and Miso Glaze
Salmon Bulgogi

Larb

Larb


I recently come across two posts about larb which looked really interesting (here and here). Larb, also called laab, laap, or larp, is a Lao meat salad that is made with ground meat and flavoured with chilies and mint and often served at room temperature. What I found most interesting about this dish was all of the fresh herbs; mint, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and lime. It sounded really amazing. This weekend I once again went looking for kaffir lime leaves and this time I found them. They were at the same place that I found the lemon grass and the Thai basil. I did not expect some of the herbs to be in a refrigerated unit. The kaffir lime leaves taste pretty interesting. They were a bit tough and I will have to make sure to chop them finely in the future. I decided to add some palm sugar to the salad to balance out the heat, sour and saltiness that were already present. I really liked the idea of topping the larb with crushed peanuts so I went with that. The salad turned out to be really good. It tasted super fresh and the dressing was nicely balanced. I added the herbs right after taking the meat off of the heat and they wilted. The next time I make this I think I will let the meat cool to room temperature before adding the herbs so that they will stay fresher.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 shallots (chopped)
1 stalk lemon grass (chopped)
1 lime (juice and zest)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar (grated)
2 kaffir lime leaves (chopped)
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1/4 cup mint (chopped)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup peanuts (crushed)

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the turkey and brown.
3. Add the shallots and lemongrass and saute until tender.
4. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
5. Let the meat cool a bit and mix in everything else except the peanuts.
6. Serve with a peanut garnish on top.

Take a look at Weekend Herb Blogging at Kalyn's Kitchen.

Potato Bread Focaccia with Cheese

Potato Bread Focaccia with Cheese


This months Daring Bakers challenge was a savoury potato bread. I liked the sound of making a bread with potatoes. Potato bread sounded like it would be a bit heavier than normal bread and really moist. Of course I left it to the last minute... (I really need to start the next challenge sooner.) I cut the recipe into half of its original size and made sure that I had enough ingredients to make two batches in case the first one didn't work out too well. The challenge was to make the potato bread and it was left to us to decide what to do with the bread. You could use the potato bread dough to make a loaf, buns, etc. I decided to go with the suggested focaccia bread. A focaccia is a flat bread with optional toppings baked on. I decided to go with a cheese topping. You really can't go wrong with golden brown cheese baked on bread.

Making your own bread from scratch is surprisingly easy. It takes a bit of effort and it requires a bit of time but over all it is not too difficult. Everything went well and the focaccia turned out great the first time. I really enjoyed the aroma of the bread baking in my apartment. I started to eat the bread as soon as it was cool enough to do so. It was really good! It is hard to beat fresh, still warm from the oven bread! It was nice and moist; soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I finished the entire focaccia over the course of the day!

Ingredients:
2 potatoes (peeled and cubed)
4 cups water
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (grated)

Directions:
1. Boil the potatoes in the water and salt until tender.
2. Drain the potatoes, reserving the water.
3. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl.
4. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the potato water and let cool until luke warm.
5. Mix in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
6. Mix in 2 cups of flour and let sit for 5 minutes.
7. Mix in the whole wheat flour, butter and salt.
8. Dump onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 minutes adding flour as needed. When the dough is soft and not too sticky it is ready.
9. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 2 hours. The dough should rise to double its size.
10. Knock the dough down.
11. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
12. Form the dough into a flattened circle on a baking sheet and cover with plastic.
13. Let it rise for 20 minutes.
14. Remove the plastic.
15. Spread the olive oil over the top of the dough and sprinkle on the cheese.
16. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top, about 10-20 minutes.

Take a look at the other Daring Bakers.

Chestnut Rice

Chestnut Rice


This week, instead of having nattou on rice for breakfast I tried chestnuts and rice. I just placed the chestnuts, rice and water in my rice maker and I woke up to some amazing smelling chestnut rice in the morning. The slightly sweet chestnuts and rice were a nice change from my usual breakfast.

Ingredients:
1 serving rice
4 roasted chestnuts (chopped)

Directions:
1. Cook the rice with the chestnuts.

Cauliflower Gratin

Cauliflower Gratin


For my second dish with cauliflower I thought that I would go with the classic cauliflower gratin. I don't think you can really go wrong with smothering a vegetable in becamel sauce, covering it with cheese and baking it until golden brown on top. It is really easy and nice and tasty. I saw a few recipes that called for the addition of bits of ham or topping it with breadcrumbs. Both of these additions sound good and I will have to try them.

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 serving bechamel sauce
1 1/2 cups cheese (shredded)

Directions:
1. Boil the cauliflower until just tender, about 6-8 minutes.
2. Drain the cauliflower and place in a baking dish.
3. Pour the bechamel sauce over the cauliflower and top with the cheese.
4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top.

Cauliflower Gratin (in pan)


Similar Recipes:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Potatoes au Gratin

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

I was going through some photos when came across this one of brussels sprouts, pancetta and chestnuts. I made this a while ago when I made some roasted chestnuts. I was looking for some recipes using chestnuts an I found a few for brussels sprouts and chestnuts. Given that they are both in season at the same time it is not so surprising that they would used together. I had also been looking for some brussels sprouts recipes so this one made it to my meal plan right away. It was pretty good. The slightly sweet chestnuts went well with the saltiness of pancetta and brightened up the brussels sprouts nicely.

Ingredients:
1 pound brussels sprouts (trimmed and cleaned)
1 teaspoon oil
2 ounces pancetta (chopped)
2 ounces roasted chestnuts (chopped)

Directions:
1. Boil the brussels sprouts in water until just tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the pancetta and saute until just crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the chestnuts and saute until warm.
5. Add the brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

Similar Recipes:
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Pine Nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar, Pine Nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano
Italian Lentil and Chestnut Stew
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Covered in Melted Gorgonzola

Buttermilk Biscuits with Cheddar and Dill

Buttermilk Biscuits with Cheddar and Dill


I am glad that I have some leftover soup to eat tonight. It is about 8pm and I just got back from the dentist. I had 2 filling removed and redone. My mouth is still numb all over. Eating should be interesting.

I have been wanting to make biscuits for a while now. I have seen a lot of great posts on biscuits and I decided to use this one for buttermilk biscuits as my base. I made these the other day to go with the Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Dill soup. Since I had the white cheddar cheese and the dill on hand, I decided to add them to the biscuits. They turned out really good! The cheese and dill worked well with the biscuit. I really enjoyed the aroma in the kitchen when I made them. There are so many different things that you can do with biscuits. I think I will be making biscuits again in the near future.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups butter (grated)
2/3 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons dill (chopped)

Directions:
1. Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
2. Mix in the butter and work with your fingers until it resembles course crumbs.
3. Mix in the cheddar cheese.
4. Add the butter milk and dill and mix until the dough forms a ball.
5. Knead the dough dough on a floured surface until it is nicely blended.
6. Pat the dough down until it is about an inch thick.
7. Cut the biscuits out of the dough and place on a baking sheet.
8. Bake the biscuits in a preheated 500F oven until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Dill Biscuits with Smoked Salmon, Watercress and a Creamy Dill Spread

Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Dill

Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Dill


It seems that I have made a few soups recently and I suppose with the colder weather it fits. I have been seeing local cauliflower at the farmers market for a while now and I kept meaning to pick some up but I could not think of anything to do with it. I recently remembered that my mom used to make a really nice cauliflower and cheddar cheese soup and I though that would be a good start to using cauliflower. The cauliflower soup that my mom made was always really orange and I tend to think of it more as a cheese soup. I wanted this soup to make me think more of the cauliflower than the cheese so I went with a white cheddar cheese so that the soup would keep the white colour of the cauliflower. Since I started blogging I have been using more and more herbs. It has gotten to the point where I sometimes find myself thinking that a dish is not complete without an herb. Dill is one of my favorite herbs and I really like the combination of cheddar cheese and dill so I decided to add some dill to the soup. The soup was pretty good! The soup was nice and cheesy and dilly. I left the soup a bit thicker than most soups so that I would get more of the texture of the cauliflower. Note: Use a really sharp cheese so that you do not have to use a lot of it. Add the Cheddar cheese a bit at a time until you get it to where you want it.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth or chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 small potato (cubed)
1 head cauliflower (separated into florets)
4 ounces white cheddar cheese (grated)
2 tablespoons dill (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.
2. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the chicken stock, milk, potato and cauliflower and bring to a boil.
5. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
7. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
8. Add the dill and stir.

Similar Recipes:
Roasted Cauliflower and Red Pepper Soup
Carrot Soup with Dill Pesto
Broccoli Soup
Creamy Mushroom and Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Cauliflower Soup

Does this soup look tasty? Check out the Closet Cooking Soup Cookbook Tasty Soups!

Moo Satay (Pork Satay) with Peanut Sauce

Moo Satay (Pork Satay) with Peanut Sauce

Onto the second dish with the panang curry paste that I made the other day, "Moo Satay (Pork Satay) with Curried Peanut Sauce". This one also comes from "The Big Book of Thai Curries". This dish sounded pretty interesting; instead of being a more standard one dish curry, it used the panang curry in a dipping sauce for a pork satay. The peanut dipping sauce sounded really tasty with coconut milk, lime juice and peanuts in addition to the panang curry. I also added some peanut butter to give it a bit more peanut flavour. The pork is also marinated in in a really nice combination of spices and herbs. This dish turned out to be really good! The peanut sauce was amazing. The pork was juicy and flavourful. I will be making this again.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (toasted and ground)
1 stalk lemongrass (peeled & chopped)
1 tablespoon galangal (or ginger, grated)
1 teaspoon kaffir lime peel (or regular lime peel, grated)
1 teaspoon turmeric (ground)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons palm sugar (grated)
1 pound pork (cut into thin strips)
1/4 cup peanut sauce
* wooden skewers (soaked in cold water for 30 minutes)

Directions:
1. Mix the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, lemongrass, galangal, lime peel, turmeric and salt in a mortar and pestle of a food processor.
2. Mix in the oil and palm sugar.
3. Cover the pork in the mixture and marinate for 3-5 hours.
4. Skewer the pork and grill it for about 5 minutes on each side.

Similar Recipes:
Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Tom Yum Grilled Shrimp
Yakitori
Chicken Souvlaki
Thai Peanut Pork Noodle Saute
Chicken Satay Burgers

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce

Pear and Cranberry Crumble

Pear and Cranberry Crumble


Crumbles, crisps and cobblers are some of my favorite desserts. They are really tasty and they are so easy to make; just place the fruit and/or berries in a baking dish, top with a simple crust and bake. This time I decided to try a pear crumble with cranberries for some tartness. I decided to go with my favorite topping, a rolled oats and brown sugar topping. Of course, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is always a welcome addition.

Ingredients:
4 cups pears (peeled, cored, sliced)
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen or dried soaked in warm water)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter (melted)

Directions:
1. Toss the pears and cranberries with the lemon juice, cinnamon and brown sugar.
2. Mix the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar and butter in a large bowl.
3. Place the pear and cranberry mixture into an 8x8 inch baking dish and pour the topping on.
4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until it is bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble
Apple Crisp with Amaretto
Vanilla Apple Crisp
Mango Crisp with Macadamia Nut Crust

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Soup

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Soup


Gorgonzola is one of my favorite cheeses and when I came across this recipe for Roasted Onion and Goronzola Soup I knew that I would have to try it. This weekend I finally got the chance to. I decided to slowly caramelize the onions at low heat as if I was making a French onion soup so that it would intensify onion flavour. This soup was really good. The saltiness of the cheese went well with the sweetness of the caramelized onions. I never would have thought to garnish the soup with caramelized pear and crumbled bacon but they went really well with the soup.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound onions (sliced)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
3 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
2 small baking potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces gorgonozla (crumbled)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 pear (peeled, sliced)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 oz bacon, fried and crumbled

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.
2. Add the onions and cook on low heat until brown and caramelized, about 1-3 hours.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boils.
5. Add the potatoes and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes.
6. Add the cream and gorgonzola cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
7. Puree the soup with a blender.
8. Melt the butter in a clean pan.
9. Add the pear and sprinkle the sugar on.
10. Saute the pears until golden brown and caramelized.
11. Cook the bacon until crispy.
12. Serve the soup with the pear and crumbled bacon as garnish.

Similar Recipes:
Pistachio and Gorgonzola Risotto

Does this soup look tasty? Check out the Closet Cooking Soup Cookbook Tasty Soups!

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad

Spicy Cucumber Salad


This recipe for a Korean Cucumber salad sounded pretty interesting. The dressing has a really nice combination of spiciness, sweetness and sourness. The spiciness comes from the gochugaru which is ground Korean chili peppers and the gochujang which is a fermented Korean bean paste with chilies. You should be able to find the gochugaru and the gochujang at your local asian grocery store. This spicy dressing goes nicely with the cool and juicy cucumbers and the sweat and pungent onions.

Ingredients:
1 cucumber (sliced)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup red onions (sliced)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 teaspoon gochugaru (or other chili powder)
1 teaspoon gochujang
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (toasted)

Directions:
1. Mix the cucumbers and salt and let sit for 10-20 minutes.
2. Mix the water and vinegar and let the onion sit in the mixture for 10-20 minutes.
3. Rinse the cucumber and dry.
4. Drain the onions.
5. Mix the remaining ingredients and toss with the cucumber and onions.
6. Top with some more toasted sesame seeds.

Similar Recipes:
Creamy Dilled Cucumber Salad

Caramelized Apple with Maple Mascarpone

Caramelized Apple with Maple Mascarpone


It was the middle of the week and I had not planned on making an apple dessert but I was craving one. I had recently caramelized pears in a pan with butter and sugar and I thought that it should work with apples too. I normally like to have some vanilla ice cream with my apple desserts but I did not have any on hand. I did have some mascarpone and I decided to use that with some maple syrup mixed in. It turned out to be a pretty tasty warm apple dessert that was super quick.

Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 apple (peeled, cored, sliced)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons mascarpone
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the apples, sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon and saute until golden brown.
3. Top the apples with the maple mixed into the mascarpone.

Similar Recipes:
Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Balsamic Syrup

Pumpkin and Black Bean Burritos

Pumpkin and Black Bean Burrito


I had some pumpkin puree that needed to be used and I was in the mood for some texmex flavours. A while ago I made some Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Enchiladas that I enjoyed and I thought that pumpkin would do really well in a similar dish. I decided to go with burritos rather than enchiladas this time. With the pumpkin puree already made the dish was pretty quick to make. The natural sweetness of the pumpkin went really well with the texmex spiciness. I topped the burritos with salsa, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin (ground)
1 can beans (black or kidney, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (chopped)
2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
6 tortillas

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
4. Add the chili powder, and cumin and saute for about a minute.
5. Add the beans, water, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until most water has evaporated.
6. Remove the beans from the heat and mash half of them with a fork.
7. Mix the pumpkin puree, chipotle peppers and cilantro and warm in the microwave.
8. Place some of the pumpkin mixture and some of the bean mixture and into a tortilla and wrap it.
9. Top with salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream etc.

Similar Recipes:
Pumpkin and Black Bean Quesadillas
Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
Squash Chili Mole
Burritos
Chipotle Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burrito Bowl
Spicy Pork Bulgogi and Beans Burrito
Butter Chicken Burritos
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Swiss Chard Pesto
Pumpkin Chorizo and Black Bean Soup

Italian Sausage and Fennel Risotto

Italian Sausage and Fennel Risotto


I came across this recipe for "Sausage, Pepper and Fennel Risotto" which sounded tasty. I have made a few risottos so far and I have really been enjoying them. I really liked the idea of making a risotto with Italian sausage. I have also been wanting to try using fennel for a while now. From what I understand, fennel is commonly used to flavour sausages and I thought they would go well together. When I made this risotto I wanted to try making it wetter, more stew like in consistency. It turned out pretty good. It was really tasty. The fennel had a really nice licorice like aroma when it was fresh but after it was cooked I could not really taste it all that much.

Ingredients:
2 Italian sausage (casings removed, crumbled)
1 tablespoon butter
1 bulb fennel (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
1/4 parsley (chopped)

Directions:
1. Saute the sausage in a pan until cooked.
2. Add the butter and melt.
3. Add the fennel and onion and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
5. Add the rice and saute until the rice becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.
6. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan.
7. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the rice and stir until the rice absorbs it. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked al dente, about 20-30 minutes.
8. Add the bell pepper.
9. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmigianno regiano and parsley.

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

The other day I came across a recipe for shrimp tacos which sounded really interesting. The use of shrimp in tacos sounded like a refreshing change from the standard ground beef tacos. I am always looking for ways to fit more prawns into my meal plan and shrimp tacos was a perfect excuse. The shrimp tacos were pretty tasty and the recipe was really easy and quick. I placed some salsa verde and cilantro in the tacos. You could also add any other tacos toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin (ground)
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 pound shrimp
4 large tortillas
salad greens
cilantro
salsa verde
1 lime (sliced)

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute for a few minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
4. Add the shrimp and saute until cooked, about 1-3 minutes per side.
5. Place the salad greens, cilantro, salsa verde and shrimp in the tortilla.

Similar Recipes:
Shrimp Quesadillas
Fish Tacos
Tequila Lime Shrimp
Shrimp Nachos

Penang Gai (Chicken Penang Curry)

Penang Gai (Chicken Penang Curry)


With my freshly made Penang curry paste I decided to make a simple chicken curry, Penang Gai from "The Big Book of Thai Curries". The chicken curry looked really tasty and sounded pretty simple to make. Once again I found that I was missing a lot of the ingredients and I had to go in search of them. I was really pleased to find some Thai basil. I tried a leaf by itself and it was pretty good, having a distinct licorice flavour to it. I was not able to find the kaffir lime leaves and so I just used some of the Thai basil instead. I was able to find the palm sugar which came in solid discs of sugar which needed to be finely grated. I was also able to find a source of fresh red chilies which I had been looking for for a while. The curry turned out to be really good! Making my own Thai curry paste was well worth the effort. I was introduced to many new ingredients and flavours. I am looking forward to using the panang curry paste again.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Penang curry paste
1 pound chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons palm sugar (grated, or white or brown sugar)
4 kaffir lime leaves (chopped)
2 red chilies (thinly sliced)
1 handful Thai basil

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the curry paste and saute for a few minutes.
3. Add the chicken and saute until cooked.
4. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar and cook for a few minutes.
5. Add the lime leaves, chilies and basil and remove from the heat.

Similar Recipes:
Prawn and Pineapple Curry
Apricot Chicken Curry
Tilapia Baked in Thai Green Curry

Take a look at Weekend Herb Blogging at What Geeks Eat.

Panang Curry Paste

Panang Curry Paste


I recently tried and really enjoyed Thai style curry. I used a store bought jar of Thai curry paste which was pretty good but I wanted to try to make my own. I picked up a copy of "The Big Book of Thai Curries" which has a lot of great looking curries in it. I decided that I would start with the panang curry paste because it had peanuts and sounded interesting. I was lacking many of the ingredients required for the curry paste and went I went off in search of them. In the end I was unable to find the galangal which I replaced with ginger or the kaffir lime which I replaced with a regular. I was able to find the shrimp paste which is included in all of the curries in the book. The panang curry paste looked pretty good but the shrimp paste made it smell. With the curry paste made the next step is to use it to make a curry.

12/14/2007 - Update - I froze some of the curry paste in individual serving sizes and they came out of the freezer in good condition.

Ingredients:
5 dried red chilies (toasted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large shallot
4 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon galangal (or ginger)
2 stalks lemongrass (peeled, lower 2 inches)
1 tablespoon kaffir lime zest (or lime)
1 tablespoon cilantro root
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (toasted and ground)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted and ground)
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (toasted and ground)
1 tablespoon shrimp paste

Directions:
1. Mash everything with a mortar and pestle or puree everything in a food processor.

Similar Recipes:
Red Curry Paste
Thai Green Curry Paste

Use in:
Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce
Panang Kung (Prawn Panang Curry)
Panang Curried Pumpkin and Prawn Soup
Moo Satay (Pork Satay) with Curried Peanut Sauce
Panang Moo Yang (Curried Pork Chops)

Kabocha Simmered in Caramel Sauce

Kabocha Simmered in Caramel Sauce


Not too long ago I came across this recipe for "Kabocha Simmered in Caramel Sauce". The dish sounded really interesting. I had been wanting to try kabocha and simmering it in caramel sauce sounded like it would be really nice. Since then I have been eating and enjoying a lot of kabocha and I finally found a place to fit this dish into my meal plans. Kabocha is a winter squash that is also called a Japanese pumpkin. You could also use a pumpkin or another type of winter squash.

I decided to try making the caramel sauce the dry way. The sugar melted and turned golden without a problem. When I added the water the sugar seized but melted again with a bit of stirring. While making the sauce I noticed that the metal spoon that I was using to stir was covered in a really solid coating of crystallized sugar. I tried cutting it off with a knife but it had no effect on it. I was really worried that I might have ruined my sauce pan because it also had a ring of hardened sugar around it. Luckily the sugar slowly melted away under hot tap water. In the end the caramel sauce was good but I think that I should have let it get a bit darker.

The final result was pretty interesting. I like the way the sweetness of the pumpkin combined with slightly bitter caramel sauce. I will be keeping this recipe to use again.

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Directions:
1. Heat the sugar in a small sauce pan until it melts and takes on a dark golden colour.
2. Slowly add the water a bit at a time. The sugar will seize but it will melt again as you continue to heat and stir it.

Kabocha Simmered in Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:
1/4 pumpkin (seeded and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 batch caramel sauce
* water or stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 green onion (sliced)

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the pumpkin until the pumpkin is sightly golden brown.
2. Place the pumpkin in a small sauce pan and pour in the caramel sauce until it reaches 1/3 the height of the pumpkin.
3. Pour in some water or stock until the liquid just covers the pumpkin.
4. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
6. Garnish with the green onion.

Similar Recipes:
Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp (Tom Rim)

Green Beans in Butter and Lemon with Parmigiano Reggiano

Green Beans in Butter and Lemon with Parmigiano Reggiano


I had some green beans and I was wondering what to do with them. I was looking in my fridge for ideas and I came across a lemon. I thought that I would fry the green beans in butter and add some lemon juice. It was pretty good. I really like butter and lemon. I imagine that a simple butter and lemon sauce would go well on a lot of vegetables. This is a pretty quick and easy side dish.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound green beans (cleaned and trimmed)
1/2 tablespoon butter
juice from 1/2 lemon
zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)
1 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the green beans and saute until al dente.
3. Add the lemon juice and toss.
4. Garnish with the lemon zest and parmigiano reggiano if desired

Similar Recipes:
Green Beans in Tahini and Yogurt Dressing
Green Beans with Parmesan Bread Crumbs
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Lemon

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup


The other day I made Red Curry with Shrimp and Kabocha which I really liked. I was looking for some other recipes that used Thai red curry and I came across this one for Thai pumpkin soup that sounded tasty. It also looked really simple with only four ingredients. I had some pumpkin puree made from kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) in the fridge so the soup only took about 5 minutes to make. I tasted the soup to make sure that the sweetness of the pumpkin balanced the spiciness of the red curry paste. I ended up adding an extra tablespoon of pumpkin to get it just where I wanted it. I also had some toasted pumpkin seeds from when I made the pumpkin puree that I used for garnish. Despite being "simple" this soup was pretty tasty.

Ingredients:
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Directions:
1. Heat a sauce pan and add the thick coconut milk from the top of the can and the red curry paste and saute for about three minutes stirring constantly.
2. Add the remaining coconut milk, pumpkin puree and fish sauce and bring to a boil.

Makes enough for 2 bowls of soup.

Similar Recipes:
Butternut Squash Soup
Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
Penang Curried Pumpkin and Prawn Soup
Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque
Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup

More soup recipes!

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Rapini

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Rapini


A while ago I was looking for recipes with rapini (otherwise known as broccoli rabe) and I came across this one for "Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Rapini" that sounded good. The recipe contains the rapini which I wanted to use, Italian sausage which I really like and orecchiette pasta which looked interesting. The recipe sat in my "to try" list for a while. The other day I came across some orecchiette at the grocery store and it reminded me of this recipe. It was pretty good and it was easy to make. The rapini was a bit bitter but it went well with the spiciness of the Italian sausage and the parmigiano reggiano.

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch rapini (trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces)
2 Italian sausage (casings removed, crumbled)
1 teaspoon oil
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
2 servings pasta (cooked)
salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano reggiano (grated)

Directions:
1. Boil the rapini in water for 1 minute, drain and set aside.
2. Saute the sausage in a pan until cooked.
3. Clear some space in the pan and add the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until the garlic is fragrant.
4. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan.,
5. Add the rapini, pasta, salt and pepper and heat for a few minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Pasta with Italian Sausage, Roasted Red Peppers, Olives and Goat Cheese

Take a look at the Presto Pasta Nights roundup at Once Upon a Feast.

Swordfish with Amandine Sauce

Swordfish with Amandine Sauce


When I saw this recipe for swordfish with amandine sauce I knew that I was going to have to try it. I had been wanting to try swordfish for a while and the sauce sounded really tasty. I bookmarked it right away but I could not find the lemongrass anywhere. I wasn't really sure if I could just substitute lemon zest for the lemongrass. I wanted to try the recipe with the lemongrass so it stayed in my to try list for a while. I recently found some lemongrass and I placed this dish onto my meal plan. This dish was really good! The lemon grass was pretty interesting and I really enjoyed the swordfish. The amandine sauce was really amazing! What a great combination of flavours and textures. I will definitely be making the amandine sauce again. I will also be looking for more dishes with swordfish to try.

Ingredients:
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons mirin
1 stalk lemongrass (peeled, 2 inches of bottom, chopped)
1 chili (chopped, I used a chile de arbol)
1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon almond oil
2 shallots
1/4 cup almond slices (toasted in butter)
2 green onions (sliced)
salt and pepper to taste
2 swordfish steaks
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted)

Directions:
1. Bring the orange juice, mirin, lemongrass, chili and ginger to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about half. It should have the consistency of a light syrup now.
3. Strain the solid from the orange glaze.
4. Heat the sesame and almond oils in a pan.
5. Add the shallots and saute until tender.
6. Add the almond slices, green onions, 2 tablespoons of the orange glaze, salt and pepper and keep warm.
7. Season the swordfish with salt and pepper.
8. Heat the oil in a clean pan.
9. Add the swordfish and sear for 3-4 minutes. Baste the swordfish with some of the orange glaze and flip. Baste the other side of the swordfish with some of the orange glaze and sear for 3-4 minutes.
10. Place the swordfish on a plate. Mix the cilantro into the amandine sauce and pour on top of the swordfish. Pour any remaining orange glaze on and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Similar Recipes:
Halibut with Lemon, Butter, Caper and Dill Sauce
Swordfish Steak with Mango Chutney on Curried Lentils

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup


I was pleased to see that this months Food for Thought Cooking Club Challenge was Pumpkin Soup by Jamie Oliver. Strangely, the "pumpkin" soup is made with butternut squash, which was fine as I really like oven roasted butternut squash. What really interested me about the recipe was that it included chestnuts. I have been seeing chestnuts at the farmers market and I have been wanting to try using them in a recipe. The recipe did not really say what to do with the chestnuts so I roasted them in the oven and peeled and chopped them. The butternut squash soup was really good! It was nice and thick. The chillies added a nice heat and that balanced well with the sweetness of the squash. The soft chunks of chestnut added a nice texture. How can you go wrong topping the soup with sour cream and crispy fried sage and squash seeds? Even though I halved the recipe I have a lot leftovers. I will be able to enjoy this soup for through out the week.

Recipe

Similar Recipes:
Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
Roasted Tomato Soup
Roasted Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup

More soup recipes!

How to Roast Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts


I have been seeing chestnuts in the market for the last few weeks and I kept thinking that I would like to try them. But, I was wondering what I could do with them. I thought the first thing that I should do was roast them. Roasting and peeling the chestnuts was a bit of work but well worth the effort. I really liked the chestnuts. Now I will have to look for some recipes that use them.

Directions:
1. Cut an X into one side of the chestnuts to allow steam to escape. This will prevent the chestnut from exploding.
2. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet with the X facing up.
3. Bake the chestnuts in a preheated 425F oven until they are tender and easy to peel, about 15-25 minutes
4. Let the chestnuts cool.
5. Peel the shells and the skin from the nuts.

Roasted Chestnuts


Use the roasted chestnuts in:
Italian Lentil and Chestnut Stew
Mushroom and Leek Wild Rice Salad
Italian Sausage, Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing

Similar Recipes:
How to Boil Chestnuts

Kabocha and Spinach Miso Soup

Kabocha and Spinach Miso Soup


Continuing with the kabocha theme this week I had kabocha miso soup for breakfast each morning. The kabocha was simmered in the dashi until tender. It was pretty good and I tried it in a number of ways. I tried swapping the spinach out for wakame. I also tried adding a spoonful of kabocha pumpkin puree to the soup to add some oven roasted flavour.

Ingredients:
1 cup dashi
1 slice kabocha (1/2 inch thick, cut into bite sized pieces)
1 handful spinach
1 tablespoon miso
1 green onion (chopped)

Directions:
1. Bring the dashi and kabocha to a boil in a small sauce pan.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer until the kabocha is tender.
3. Remove from heat and add the spinach.
4. Dissolve the miso with some of the heated dashi in a separate bowl. (We do not want to boil the miso as it will not taste as good.)
5. Add the miso back to the soup.
6. Pour the soup into a bowl and top with green onion.

Similar Recipes:
Kale, Butternut Squash and Mushroom Miso Soup

More soup recipes!

Kabocha no Nimono

Kabocha no Nimono


I was looking for Japanese kabocha recipes and the one that I kept coming across was kabocha no nimono. Kabocha is also known as a Japanese pumpkin and nimono is to simmer so kabocha no nimono is simmered pumpkin. The pumkin is simmered in dashi stock or water with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Mirin is a sweet cooking sake. So the pumpkin is simmered in a sweet and salty liquid. It sounded pretty interesting. I also noted that the pumpkin was simmered with some of the skin still on. I learned that the skin is left of to help the pieces of pumpkin to retain their shape when they are simmered. Once the pumpkin has been simmered it is nice a soft and the skin can be easily removed or eaten. I garnished the simmered pumpkin with green onion and some red pepper that needed to be finished. Overall it was a pretty tasty and easy if a bit time consuming side dish.

Ingredients:
1/4 kabocha (seeded and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 cup dashi (or water)
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 green onion (sliced)

Directions:
1. Put every thing into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 10-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces.
3. Garnish with the green onion.

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Ravioli in Sage and Butter Sauce

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Ravioli in Sage and Butter Sauce


I have been seeing some interesting raviolis lately and I though that I would use some of my leftover pumpkin puree in a ravioli. I searched around a bit and I found a few pumpkin ravioli recipes. Some used ricotta cheese and others used parmesan cheese. I had some cream cheese in the fridge and decided to go with that. I wanted the pumpkin to be center stage so I went with a light cumin seasoning. I have yet to try making my own pasta and I do not have any pasta making tools so I though I would just go with wonton wrappers. I recently tried and liked sage fried in butter and I though I would go with a browned butter and sage sauce. When sage is fried in butter it gets nice and crispy and it is full of flavour. Overall this was a pretty quick and tasty meal. I really need to get around to trying to make my own pasta from scratch.

Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
wonton wrappers
2 tablespoon butter
a few sage leaves

Directions:
1. Mix the pumpkin, cream cheese, cumin, salt and pepper.
2. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on a wonton wrapper. Wet the outside edge of the wonton wrapper with water. Fold the wonton over and press the edges together firmly to seal.
3. Boil the ravioli for 2-3 minutes to cook.
4. Melt the butter in a pan with the sage.
5. Cook the butter until it browns and remove from heat immediately.
6. Toss the ravioli and sauce and serve.

Similar Recipes:
Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage and Sage Pasta
Penne with Pumpkin and Sage Sauce
Caramelized Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Salad
Pumpkin Mac n Cheese with Amaretti Crust

Take a look at Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast.