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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.