French Bread

French Bread

It's that time of month again; it's Daring Bakers time. This months recipe is French Bread, Julia Child style. Making my own French bread has been on my todo list for a while and this was a great time to do it.

One of the reasons that I joined the Daring Bakers was to challenge myself. Many Daring Bakers recipes are challenging in that they include several different components. This recipe may look simple when looking at the ingredient list but the instructions make up for it. Making French bread takes a bit of effort and time. A lot of time in fact. It includes letting the dough rise three times and letting the bread cool each of which takes 2-3 hours for a total of 8-12 hours. This is definitely something that you want to do on the weekend.

Making the bread, although time consuming was not too difficult. When I read the instructions the first time I somehow missed the third rising. By the time I finished the bread it was pretty late at night. I decided to form my bread into the classic baguette shape. The only problem that I had with the recipe was the folding stage. I could not figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Some pictures would have been helpful. I did some folding and forming and it seemed to turn out ok so it was not a problem.

When I pulled the bread out of the oven something seemed wrong. The bread seemed to be rock hard. I thought that I might have done something wrong and that I might have just wasted an entire days worth of effort. Instead of waiting for the bread to cool for the recommended 2-3 hours I immediately cracked open a loaf. The inside was so light, fluffy and just perfect. It was almost cloud like. Now that I had cracked open a loaf and seen the inside there was no way that I could not try just a piece right away. I cut off a slice and spread on some butter which started melting into the still warm bread. Despite the fact that the crust seemed a bit hard to the touch, it seemed perfectly crusty to the mouth and teeth. The bread was so good! The just one slice quickly turned into just one loaf! I really, really enjoy freshly baked bread with melting butter.

French Bread

Overall the French bread was a lot of work and took a lot of time but it was worth it. It was some of the best bread that I have ever made or even had. I will be making this again but given that it takes a whole day I am not sure how often that will be.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups tepid water

Directions:
1. Mix the yeast and warm water and let sit for a few minutes.
2. Mix everything in the bowl to form a dough that should be soft and sticky.
3. Place the dough onto the kneading surface and let sit for a few minutes.
4. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes adding a bit of flour if it is too sticky. The dough should be elastic and retract into shape when you push it out. The dough should also be cleaning itself off the working surface but still be sticky to your hands.
5. Let the dough rest for a few minutes.
6. Knead for a minute. The dough should look smooth, be less sticky and remain soft.
7. Let the dough rise to triple its volume over the next 3-5 hours in a lightly greased covered bowl.
8. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it with your lightly floured hands.
9. Fold the dough in half and in half again and place it back in the bowl.
10. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise to triple its volume, about 3 hours.
11. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and and cut it into the shapes that you want. If you want one big round loaf leave it alone. If you want 3 baguette shaped loaves then cut it into three long pieces. Etc.
12. Fold the dough in half, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
13. Dust a tea towel with flour so that the formed dough can rise on it without sticking to it.
14. Form the dough into an 8-10 inch oval on a lightly floured surface with your lightly floured hands.
15. Fold the dough in half lengthwise and seal the fold.
16. Roll the dough 1/4 turn so that the fold it on top.
17. Flatten the dough into an oval again and press a trench along the fold with the side of your hand.
18. Fold the dough in half lengthwise and seal the edges.
19. Roll the dough 1/4 turn so that the seal is on the bottom.
20. Roll the dough back and forth and stretch it to form a long cylinder.
21. Place the formed dough on the floured tea towel and form the remaining two loaves.
22. Cover the loaves and let rise until they have tripled in volume.
23. Carefully lift the loaves off of the tea towel and place them on a baking sheet.
24. Using a sharp knife slash the tops of the loaves 3 times.
25. Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 25 minute. The crust should be golden brown and crisp. It should sound hollow when knocked.
26. Let the bread cool for 2-3 hours.

Similar Recipes:
Beer Bread
Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

Take a look at the other Daring Bakers creations.

Udon Noodles

Udon Noodles

I have been wanting to try making my own pasta for a long time now. This week is the 1 year anniversary of the Presto Pasta Nights roundups at Once Upon a Feast and I thought what better time to try? I do not have a pasta maker so I would have to make a pretty simple pasta and luckily I had come across one. Japanese udon noodles which are thick wheat based noodles, fit the bill perfectly. The udon noodles are nice and thick so you do not need a pasta maker to get them thin enough.

The ingredient list for udon noodles is pretty simple, just flour, water and a bit of salt. The recipe is pretty easy to follow though it required a bit of muscle and effort to knead and roll the dough. I used Harumi Kurihara's suggestion from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking to step on the dough. It made making the dough a bit more fun and it was definitely easier to let my weight and gravity do the work of rolling the dough out for me. The dough came together pretty easily. It requires a few hours of resting so it might be best to do this on a weekend. The dough ended up being nice and smooth and chewy.

I decided to use the udon noodles in a soup with a really simple dashi and mentsuyu broth. The udon noodles took a while to cook as they were so thick but they turned out pretty good. The udon noodles had a really great chewy texture. I garnished the udon soup simply with green onions and togarashi. Togarashi is a chili powder condiment commonly used in Japan with a few extras like sesame seeds.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the home made udon noodles. I will be keeping an eye out for a good price on a pasta maker so that I can try making more kinds of pasta at home.

Ingredients:
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour

Directions:
1. Dissolve the salt into the water.
2. Mix the water into the flour in a large bowl.
3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
4. Place the dough into a freezer bag and step on it to flatten it with shoes off.
5. Remove the dough from the plastic bag and roll it out.
6. Fold the dough in half.
7. Repeat steps 4-6 a few times.
8. Let the dough rest for a few hours.
9. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
10. Fold the dough 2 or three times and slice into thin strips.
11. Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Kare Udon (Curry Udon Soup)
Kitsune Udon
Zucchini Ricotta Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Bread with Praline Sauce

Sweet Potato Bread with Praline Sauce

Back in December I made a sweet potato casserole that I really enjoyed. The sweet potato casserole was mashed sweet potatoes baked with a pecan topping. I really liked the sweet potato and pecan combination. More recently I came across a recipe for a sweet potato bread with a pecan praline sauce that sounded really good. With pecans in the sweet potato bread and a pecan topping there was no way that I could not make this bread. This quick bread was super simple to make. The sweet potato bread with praline sauce was so good! Of course I could not resist having a slice while it was still warm from the oven... mmm... The bread was light and fluffy and it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. It has kept well and I have been enjoying it for breakfast this week. I will definitely be making this again!

I had been wondering what praline was for a while. Praline is essentially nuts covered in caramelized sugar. In this case the praline was made with pecans and brown sugar. The praline was easy to make and it tasted great. I look forward to making it again.

Sweet Potato Bread

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cups sweet potato (oven roasted until caramelized and mashed)
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)

Directions:
1. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar in another bowl.
3. Stir the honey, eggs, buttermilk and sweet potato into the butter and sugar.
4. Stir the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture.
5. Stir in the pecans.
6. Pour the batter into a 9x5 inch greased loaf pan.
7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until a tooth pick pushed into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
8. Pour the praline sauce on and and let cool.

Praline Topping

Ingredients:
3/4 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans (roasted and chopped)
1 cups powered sugar
2 tablespoons water

Directions:
1. Cook the butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the pecans.
3. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool.
4. Mix the powdered sugar into the water.
5. Break up the praline mixture.
6. Mix the praline and sugar water together.

Similar Recipes:
Banana Bread
Curried Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Strawberry Sour Cream Bread
Chocolate Chip and Sour Cream Banana Bread
Sweet Potato Casserole
Baked Sweet Potato Oatmeal with Pecan Streusel
Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Bread with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans and White Chocolate Chips


Sweet Potato Bread with Praline Sauce

Katsudon (Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl)

Katsudon

Katsudon (カツ丼), short for tonkatsu doburi or pork cutlet rice bowl, is a popular Japanese dish consisting of a fried pork cutlet with onions and egg on a bowl of rice. Although this dish is certainly tasty enough to make it worth making tonkatsu for, it is also a good way to use up any leftover tonkatsu that you may find yourself with. If you also have some leftover rice, this dish is super quick to make taking only a few minutes. I find that it is better to make the katsudon in a small pan rather that a sauce pan so that you can more easily slide the tonkatsu from the pan onto the rice such that the cutlet keeps its shape. You can easily add things like peas, green beans, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, grated carrots, etc.

Ingredients:
1 tonkatsu (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
1/2 cup dashi
2 tablespoon soy
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup rice (Japanese, cooked)
1 green onion (sliced)

Directions:
1. Simmer the onions in the dashi, soy, mirin, and sugar in a small pan until the onions are tender.
2. Add the tonkatsu.
3. Pour the eggs over tonkatsu and onions.
4. Turn the heat down, put the lid on and let the egg cook, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Pout the tonkatsu onto the rice in a bowl.
6. Garnish with green onions.

Similar Recipes:
Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)
Oyakodon (Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)
Gyudon (Beef Rice Bowl)
Katsu Kare (Pork Cutlet with Curry Sauce)
Sweet Chili Chicken Rice Bowl

Crab Quesadillas

Crab Quesadillas

A couple of weeks ago I tried crab for the first time and I really enjoyed it. On the weekend I picked up some more frozen cooked king crab that was still in the shell. I wanted to have the crab in a dish that would not over power the crab flavour and texture. I decided to go with a crab quesadilla where the crab is marinated in a simple and yet tasty marinade. The fresh lime, jalapeno pepper, green onion and cilantro makes this dish fresh and tasty. Since the crab is just warmed and cut into bite sized pieces you get to bite into the crab and really taste it. It was quite enjoyable! The warm crispy tortilla and the melted cheese put it over the top. You can serve the crab quesadillas with salsa, sour cream, avacado, etc.

Ingredients:
1/4 pound crab meat (thawed)
1 lime (juice and zest)
1 jalapeno (chopped)
1 green onion (chopped)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to taste
2 flour tortillas
a touch of butter (or oil)
2 handfuls cheese such as cheddar or jack, etc. (grated)

Directions:
1. Cook the crab in boiling water for about 3 minutes.
2. Rinse the crab in cold water to stop the cooking.
3. Remove the shell from the crab meat and cut it into bite sized pieces.
4. Mix the lime juice, zest, jalapeno, green onion, cilantro cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl.
5. Add the crab and marinate for 10-30 minutes.
6. Melt the butter (or oil) in a pan.
7. Place a tortilla in the pan and rub it around in the butter to coat.
8. Heat the tortilla until air pockets form in it flipping a few times.
9. Repeat 5-7 for the second tortilla and leave it in the pan.
10. Drain the liquid from the crab and place the mixture on the tortilla in the pan.
11. Place the cheese on and then top with the other tortilla.
12. Cook the quesadilla until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted flipping once.

Tip: Place a plate onto the quesadilla and flipped it from the pan to the plate and then slide it back into the pan to flip the quesadilla.

Similar Recipes:
Shrimp Quesadillas
Maryland Crab Cakes
Crab Summer Rolls with Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce
Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab Remoulade
Crab Mac and Cheese

Take a look at the Weekend Herb Blogging roundup at Swirling Notions.

Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla Carbonara

I was looking in my fridge trying to figure out what to make for dinner when I realized that I had everything that I needed for pasta alla carbonara. The base carbonara sauce is made with egg yolks, parmigiano reggiano, pancetta (or another form of bacon) and black pepper. It can also include things like cream, shallots, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, meats, vegetables, etc. The thing that is interesting about the carbonara sauce is that the egg yolk is added to the sauce raw and it is cooked by the heat of the pasta that just came out of the boiling water. The heat of the pasta also melts the parmigiano reggiano into the sauce. Carbonara is super quick and easy to make. You can easily make the sauce in the time that it takes to cook the pasta. The carbonara sauce is nice and creamy and tasty. You really can't go wrong with eggs, cream, cheese and bacon!

Ingredients:
1 serving penne
1 ounce pancetta (diced)
1 clove garlic (chopped, optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped, optional)
pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Start cooking the penne in well salted water.
2. Fry the pancetta in a pan until just crispy.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and remove from heat the heat.
4. Mix the egg yolk, heavy cream and parmigiano reggiano in a bowl.
5. Drain the cooked pasta reserving some of the water.
6. Add the pasta to the bowl and toss.
7. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin.
8. Add the pancetta, parsley and pepper and toss.

Similar Recipes:
Shrimp Carbonara
Asparagus Carbonara
Zucchini Carbonara
Butternut Squash Carbonara
Bolognese Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Ramp Carbonara
Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas
Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Carbonara
Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Carbonara

Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake

Over the last few weeks I saw a lot of amazing chocolate desserts that had me craving chocolate. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts and I have not had one in a while. I thought that a chocolate cheesecake would be the perfect finish to my weekend steak dinner. I decided to go with a chocolate graham wafer crust and drizzle the cheesecake with a chocolate sauce for lots of chocolate goodness. The chocolate cheesecake turned out really well. It was nice and rich and creamy and decadently chocolaty. It really hit the spot.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic

I have been wanting to try roasting garlic for a while now. This weekend I finally got around to roasting some garlic to make garlic mashed potatoes. Raw garlic is pungent and can be quite strong. The roasted garlic mellowed out nicely and became smooth and a little sweet. I cannot believe how good it was! I ate a lot of it as it was when it came out of the oven. I will have to remember to make extra for snacking next time. Now I am going to have to look for more recipes that call for roasted garlic so that I can make some more.

Ingredients:
* heads of garlic
* olive oil
salt and pepper (optional)

Directions:
1. Cut the tops of the heads of garlic off such that a little bit of each clove is exposed.
2. Drizzle olive oil on the exposed garlic cloves and season with the salt and pepper.
3. Cover the garlic heads in aluminum foil.
4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the garlic is soft and golden brown, about 30-60 minutes.
5 Let the garlic cool.

Use in:
Tostones with Roasted Garlic Mayo

Creamy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It seems that I have not been do much with potatoes lately. I had been wanting to try making my own garlic mashed potatoes for a while and I thought: What better to go with the steak dinner that I was having? Making the garlic mashed potatoes took a bit of effort but it was certainly worth it. The roasted garlic mashed potatoes turned out really well! They were so creamy and good. The flavour of the sweet roasted garlic was just amazing. These were easily the best mashed potatoes that I have had. I will definitely be making these again.

Ingredients:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 head roasted garlic
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream or cream cheese or Greek yogurt
milk to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes.
3. Mash the potatoes along with the garlic, butter, sour, cream cheese and enough milk to bring the potatoes to the desired consistency.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Garnish with roasted garlic, chopped parsley, chives green onions, etc.

Similar Recipes:
White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup

Take a look at the Potato Fe(a)st roundup at Culinary Bazaar.

Ribeye Steak in Red Wine Sauce

Ribeye Steak in Red Wine Sauce

This weekend I was craving a nice thick, juicy, barely cooked piece of steak. I picked up a really nice looking ribeye steak from the butcher. I decided to do a simple dinner consisting of the steak with a red wine sauce and some creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes and some spinach. I like to cook my steak simply, seasoned with just salt and pepper and then quickly seared for just a few minutes on each side. A simple red wine sauce is the perfect way to make sure that you don't loose any of the flavour that is stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking the steak. Although this dinner is kind of simple it is one of my favorites.

Ingredients:
1 ribeye steak (1 inch thick, room temperature)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 shallot (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon thyme (chopped)

Directions:
1. Season the steak with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Sear the steak on both sides for about 3 minutes per side.
4. Set the steak aside and let rest.
5. Add the wine to the pan and deglaze the pan using a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the the bits from the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the butter, shallot, garlic and thyme and simmer until a sauce is formed, about 3-5 minutes.
7. Serve the steak with the red wine sauce.

Similar Recipes:
Prime Rib Dinner
Steak Tenderloin in Pink Peppercorn Sauce
Steak Tenderloin in a Green Peppercorn Sauce
Double Smoked Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon with Caramelized Mushrooms

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Yogurt

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Yogurt

I recently came across a new way to enjoy quinoa, as the base for a fruit salad. It is pretty simple to make. You just need some cooked quinoa, some yogurt, fruit, nuts and maybe some honey. Cooked quinoa keeps well in the fridge so if you make some extra you will have some on hand to enjoy whenever you want without having to wait 20 minutes to cook it. You can use whatever fruit that is available at the time. I had just come across some blood oranges and I threw them in along with some blueberries, kiwi and a banana. The quinoa fruit salad was a light and tasty treat.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
yogurt
fruit
nuts
honey

Directions:
1. Rinse the quinoa.
2. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Let the quinoa cool and assemble the salad.

Similar Recipes:
Quinoa Porridge
Aztec Quinoa Salad

Take a look at the Weekend Breakfast Blogging roundup at Tasty Palettes.

Onion Rings (French Fried Onions)

Onion Rings (French Fried Onions)

When I eat at a pub or tavern I like to replace the fries with onion rings when I can. Onion rings are rings of onions that are battered and fried until golden brown and crispy. I had been craving onion rings for a while and I decided to just try making them at home.

There was one problem though. Making onion rings requires deep frying and I had never tried deep frying. In the past I have shallow fried cutlets in a tablespoon or so of oil. I decided to try my hand at deep frying. I poured a lot of oil into a pan and turned the stove onto medium heat. I manually adjusted the heat based on how the onion rings were cooking. If the onion rings were turning too brown too quickly I reduced the heat and if they were taking too long to brown I increased the heat. In the end the deep frying turned out to be much easier than I was thinking that it would be.

The onion rings turned out pretty good. They were nice and crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. The normally pungent onion had turned slightly sweet which is one of the things that I like most about onion rings. I like to eat onions rings with malt vinegar and salt but I had run out of the vinegar so I enjoyed the onion rings with ketchup this time. Now I don't have to go out to enjoy onion rings. I look forward to playing with the recipe. Maybe I could replace the milk with buttermilk or maybe I could use bread crumbs to get a thicker and crispier coating.

Ingredients:
1 onion (cut into rings)
1 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
oil for frying

Directions:
1. Soak the onion slices in the milk for a few minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Dip an onion ring into the flour to coat.
4. Place the onion ring into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides.
5. Remove the onion ring from the oil and set on some paper towels.
6. Repeat for the remaining onion rings.

Similar Recipes:
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
Chips (French Fries)
Fried Calamari
Herb Roasted Onions
Curried Fried Mushrooms
Tostones with Roasted Garlic Mayo
Crispy Baked BBQ Onion Rings

Warm Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

Warm Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Salad

This is a really tasty warm mushroom salad. I first had it when my sister was hosting a family dinner. I liked it so much that I got the recipe from her right away. I really like everything in this salad. You cannot go wrong with mushrooms and onions sauteed in butter with sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese. The balsamic vinegar and sun dried tomato oil act like a dressing and coat the rest of the salad with flavour. I like the fact that this salad is served warm and that the goat cheese just starts to melt getting nice and creamy. You can use whatever mushrooms that you want. I enjoy and can almost always find cremini and shiitake mushrooms. The warm mushroom mix also goes well on crostini as an appetizer.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
1 8 ounce package mushrooms (sliced)
1 5 ounce package shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
1 red onion (sliced)
1 5 ounce jar oil packed sun dried tomatoes (drained and chopped)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon oil (from sun dried tomatoes)
1 package spring mix salad greens
1 package crumbled goat cheese

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the mushrooms and onion and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown and slightly caramelized, about 5-10 minutes.
3. Add the sun dried tomatoes, vinegar and oil.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5. Pour the mushroom salad onto the lettuce and top with the goat cheese and serve warm.

Similar Recipes:
Teriyaki Mushroom Salad
Shiitake Mushroom and Blue Cheese Crostini
Wild Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter, Sherry and Lemon

Warm Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Crostini
Warm Mushroom and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Feta

Salsa Verde Carnitas

Salsa Verde Carnitas

I really enjoy the flavours of Mexican and Texmex cuisine and I am always on the look out for new dishes. I recently came across the concept of carnitas. Carnitas are made by braising the meat, typically pork, in a seasoned liquid until it is tender enough to shred. After the meat is shredded it baked at high heat to turn the edges of the meat crispy while the inside stays nice and tender. After the meat has been prepared it can be used in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. The recipe that I came across was for salsa verde carnitas. There was no way that I could resist trying pulled pork braised in salsa verde and then baked until slightly crisp and yet still tender. I used some home made salsa verde that I had made with some tomatillos that I had in the freezer. The carnitas turned out pretty good. The meat was really flavourful and I enjoyed the combination of crisp and tender textures. I used the carnitas meat in a simple taco with lettuce, cilantro, shredded cheese and sour cream. I really look forward to using carnitas meat in other dishes in the future.

Ingredients:
1-3 pounds pork shoulder
1 onion (chopped)
2 cups salsa verde
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
tortillas

Directions:
1. Trim the excess fat from the pork.
2. Place the pork, onion, salsa verde, chicken stock, cumin and oregano in a pot.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the pork is nice and tender, about 3-6 hours.
4. Take the pork out of the liquid and shred the meat with a pair of forks.
5. Bake the shredded pork in a preheated 400F oven until just browned and slightly crispy.
6. Skim the fat from the liquid.
7. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer to reduce for about 10 minutes.
8. Mix the pork back into the liquid.
9. Use the pork mixture in your favorite tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc.

Note: Can be used as a filling in burritos.

Similar Recipes:
Carnitas
Tacos al Pastor
Chili Verde
Salsa Verde Lasagna
Salsa Verde Pulled Chicken Sandwich
Cochinita Pibil (Puerco Pibil)
Cochinita Pibil Tacos

Aztec Soup

Aztec Soup

When I heard about the No Croutons Required event I knew that I wanted to take part. The February theme was vegetarian soups. The only problem was that I had no idea what kind of soup to make. While I was looking for ideas I had the Food Network on in the background and they were talking about Mexican cuisine. They mentioned that some of the regional staples were corn, beans and squash. Those three ingredients sounded like a perfect start to a tasty soup. I added some more regional flavours such as chilies, tomatoes, tomatillos and cumin. I had also been wanting to try using quinoa in a soup and this was a great chance.

Back when the tomatillos were in season I froze a bunch of them and now was the perfect time to pull them out and see how they did. Luckily the tomatillos froze really well and I was about to make some tasty salsa verde to add to the soup.

Although the soup is not the most photogenic it turned out to be really tasty. A nice hot and spicy soup for the cold days that we have been having. I thought that the quinoa added a nice texture to the soup. The slightly sweet corn and squash were a nice contrast to the otherwise spicy soup. I garnished the soup with some sour cream with chopped cilantro. You could also garnish the soup with some tortillas chips, grated cheese, avocado, etc.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
4 jalapeno peppers (chopped)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 butternut squash (cut into bite sized cubes)
8 cups of vegetable stock
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 19 ounce can black beans
1 cup salsa verde
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and the jalapeno peppers and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the chili and cumin and saute for a minute.
5. Add the squash, stock, tomatoes, salsa verde, quinoa, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
6. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and stir in the corn and cilantro.

Similar Recipes:
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Aztec Quinoa Salad
Black Bean and Quinoa Chili
Corn Chowder
Pumpkin Quesadillas
Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Looking for more soup recipes?

Tom Yum Goong Soup (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup)

Tom Yum Goong Soup

It has been pretty cold out the last few days. The perfect weather for a nice warm bowl of soup! I had been wanting to try this tom yum goong soup since I saw it. Tom yum goong soup is billed as a hot and sour soup and this combination sounded pretty interesting. It used Thai chili peppers for the heat and lime juice for the sour. You just can't go wrong with large and juicy prawns. I added some soba noodles to give the soup some more body. I was not able to find the nam prik pao so I just omitted it. I liked the fact that the recipe called for simmering the the shrimp shells in the broth to get even more shrimp flavour. The recipe was pretty easy and the soup turned out pretty good. The tom yum goong soup was nice and tasty and I really enjoyed the hot and sour combination. All of the fresh herbs gave the soup a nice freshness that reminded me of warmer days.

Ingredients:
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined, reserve shells)
8 cups shrimp stock (or chicken stock or dashi)
1 inch piece galangal (chopped, or ginger)
4 kaffir lime leaves (chopped)
2 stalks lemongrass (peeled and chopped, or lemon zest)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
2 Thai birdseye chilies (sliced thinly crosswise)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons nam prik pao (roasted red chili paste, optional)
1 pound soba noodles (optional)
1 lime juiced
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup green onions (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
roasted unsalted peanuts (roughly chopped, optional)

Directions:
1. Bring the water, shrimp shells, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Strain the solid bits and discard them.
3. Simmer the broth, shiitake mushrooms, chilis, fish sauce and nam prik pao for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles as directed on package.
5. Add the shrimp to the soup and simmer until cooked, about 2-3 minutes.
6. Remove the soup from the heat and add the noodles, lime juice and cilantro.
7. Garnish with the green onions and peanuts.

Similar Recipes:
Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)
Tom Yum Baked Tilapia
Tom Yum Grilled Shrimp
Penang Kung (Prawn Penang Curry)
Spicy Shrimp on Coconut Rice
Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder
Pad Thai Soup

Looking for more soup recipes?

Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb Crisp

I found some forced rhubarb at the farmers market on the weekend. Forced rhubarb is rhubarb that is grown out of season, indoors and in the dark. It has a nice pink colour and the leaves are a pale yellow. I decided to use the forced rhubarb to make a simple crisp. The forced rhubarb crisp was pretty good. It was slightly tart which was a nice change from normally sweet desserts. Of course it goes well with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:
2 pounds rhubarb (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange (zest and juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter (melted)

Directions:
1. Mix the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract and place in a baking dish.
2. Mix the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter and place on top of the rhubarb.
3. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 30-40 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble
Mango and Rhubarb Crumble
Apple Rhubarb Crisp
Rhubarb Compote

Take a look at the In The Bag roundup at A Slice of Cherry Pie.

Banana and Nutella Crepes

Nutella and Banana Crepes

What a busy week! It seems that I completely missed World Nutella Day. I enjoy nutella but I do not seem to have it all that often. Seeing all of the excellent nutella posts got me to craving some nutella. My favorite way to enjoy nutella is a simple nutella and banana slice sandwich. It seems that I also missed Pancake Tuesday and seeing all of the pancakes and crepes had me craving them as well. I decided to combine the two and made nutella and banana crepes. Crepes are pretty easy to make at home and they are nice and light and so good when they are still warm from the pan. The still warm crepes started to slightly melt the nutella making it even creamier. I think that I have found my new favorite way to enjoy nutella.

I also recently tried adding nutella to oatmeal and really enjoyed it.

Ingredients:
1 freshly made crepe
1 tablespoon nutella
1 banana (sliced)

Directions:
1. Spread the nutella on the crepe, add the banana and enjoy.

Similar Recipes:
Nutella and Banana Sandwich
Strawberry and Nutella Crepes
Mango and Nutella Crepes
Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Crepes
Nutella Stuffed French ToastNutella and Banana Oatmeal

Edamame Salad

Edamame Salad

I recently tried edamame (soy beans) for the first time at a Japanese restaurant. It was served as an appetizer in the shells with a seasoning on it. I quite enjoyed it. I remembered bookmarking a recipe for a shelled edamame salad that looked good. The next time that I went to my local Japanese grocery store I picked up a bag of the shelled frozen edamame. The shelled edamame is super easy to cook, you just boil it for a few minutes and it is done. The edamame salad was pretty good. I really liked the texture and flavour of the beans. The dressing was nice and tasty and the almonds added a nice crunch. Of course the mint added a nice refreshing touch to the salad. The next time I make this I think that I will try it with shiso leaves. Once made the salad kept well in the fridge. I was able to enjoy it for a few nights during the week.

Ingredients:
1 pound shelled edamame
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
2 green onions (chopped)
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped mint

Directions:
1. Cook the edemame by boiling them for 3 minutes.
2. Drain and let cool.
3. Mix everything else in a bowl.
4. Toss the edamame in the dressing to coat.

Similar Recipes:
Edamame Dip
Peas with Pancetta and Shallots
Green Vegetables with Black Sesame Paste
Green Vegetables with Miso and Mustard Sauce

Take a look at the Weekend Herb Blogging roundup at Kuchenlatein.

Mu Shu Pork

Mu Shu Pork

I recently came across a post about Mu Shu Pork. Up until reading the post I did not know what mu shu pork was. Mu shu pork is a Chinese dish that includes shredded pork, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables. It is seasoned with some sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Mu shu pork is generally wrapped in mu shu shells otherwise known as mandarin pancakes. The mandarin pancakes are similar to tortillas but thinner. After a quick search I found a recipe for the mandarin pancakes. The mu shu pork was easy to make and it was pretty tasty. I had some trouble with the mandarin pancakes though. The recipe called for rolling two of the pancakes at the same time separated by some sesame oil. After the pancake is cooked you are supposed to separate them but I couldn't get them to separate. They had become one when rolled... The mandarin pancakes ended up being too thick but they were still warm and soft and they worked. This was my first time using hoisin sauce as a condiment and I thought that it worked well as such. Overall I really enjoyed the mu shu pork filling but I think that I might buy some shells next time.

Ingredients:
1 pound pork (cut into strips)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
1/2 medium head cabbage (shredded)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (stemmed and cut into strips)
1 cup bamboo shoots (cut into strips)
2 cups bean sprouts
3 green onions (chopped)
mu shu shells
hoisin sauce

Directions:
1. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch in a bowl.
2. Add the pork strips.
3. Cook the egg like and omelette. (I cooked the egg in a non-stick pan.)
4. When the egg is cook enough to handle cut it into strips.
5. Heat the oil in a pan.
6. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
7. Add the pork and saute until cooked.
8. Add the cabbage, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt.
9. Remove from the heat.
10. Place some of the pork mixture on a mu shu shell add some hoisin sauce and wrap.

Mu Shu Pork

Similar Recipes:
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Cashew Butter Chicken

Cashew Butter Chicken

I have seen a few recipes that use a spicy peanut butter sauce that have sounded pretty tasty. Since I had just invested in a jar of cashew butter I though it would be nice to try making a cashew butter sauce. I was aiming for a tasty cashew butter sauce with a nice balance of sweet, salty, tart and spicy. I decided to use the cashew butter sauce on some chicken. Of course I had to add an herb and since I was already going with some Asian flavours I decided to throw in some cilantro. The dish came together really quickly and easily. The cashew butter chicken turned out really good! The sauce was nice and creamy and flavourful. I first had the cashew butter chicken on a simple salad but I made enough to have leftovers so that I could try it in a pasta and on some rice.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 tablespoon cashew butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 cloves garlic (grated)
2 teaspoons ginger (grated)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup cashews
2 green onions (chopped)

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the chicken and saute until cooked, about 4-7 minutes.
3. Mix the cashew butter, soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, chili sauce and sesame oil in a bowl.
4. Toss the chicken and cilantro in the cashew butter sauce to coat.
5. Serve on salad, rice or pasta and garnish with cashews and green onions.

Similar Recipes:
Crab Summer Rolls with Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce
Sesame Chicken
Moo Satay (Pork Satay) with Curried Peanut Sauce
Lemon Chicken

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

Cashew Butter Chicken Pasta

Cashew Butter Chicken on Rice

Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

A while ago I came across a recipe for sun dried tomato and goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts which sounded really tasty. I knew that I would be trying the recipe because goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes are are among my favorite flavours. If that wasn't enough there was also a balsamic sauce to top it off. This recipe was fairly easy to make though there are a few steps. I am getting a bit better at stuffing things as this time almost all of the stuffing stayed on the inside while cooking. The sun dried tomato and goat cheese stuffed chicken bread was really good! The chicken was tasty enough to go it alone but the balsamic sauce was a nice accompaniment.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot (chopped)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (chopped)
1/2 cup goat cheese (crumbled)
2 tablespoons basil (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken breasts (butterflied and pounded)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 shallot (chopped)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the shallot, sugar and garlic and saute until the shallots are tender, about 3-5 minutes
3. Place shallots in a bowl and mix in the balsamic vinegar.
4. Add the sun dried tomatoes, goats cheese and basil and mix.
5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
6. Place the mixture onto the chicken breasts and roll them up.
7. Heat the oil in the same pan.
8. Place the chicken into the pan and fry until cooked, about 6 minutes per side.
9. Set the chicken aside and cover to keep warm.
10. Melt the butter in the same pan.
11. Add the flour and stir to mix.
12. Add the chicken broth, shallots, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Balsamic Glazed Chicken Sandwich with Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese
Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine Balsamic Cherry Sauce

Hot Cheesy Crab, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Cheesy Crab, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

When I was looking for crab recipes I came across the concept of a hot crab dip and since I had some left over crab I decided to try making one. I found a bunch of recipes but none of them felt just right so I took what I liked from each of them and ended up with this one. I don't think you can go wrong with a base of cream cheese and sour cream. Add a bunch of of cheese and it only gets better. I really couldn't make a dip without some green so I added some spinach and green onions. Of course we cannot forget the star of the show, the crab. The dipped turned out to be really amazing! It was nice and warm and gooey and creamy and tasty. The crab added that extra bit of flavour and a texture that just sent it over the edge. I will definitely be making this again!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup baby spinach (packed)
4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup sour cream
chili sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 parmigiano reggiano (grated)
1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)
1/2 cup cheddar (grated)
1 cup artichoke hearts (chopped)
1 cup crab (chopped)
2 green onions (chopped)

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add the white wine and spinach and heat until the spinach wilts, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Process the spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, chili sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor until nice and mixed.
4. Mix everything, place the mixture into a baking dish bake in a preheated 350F oven until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20-30 minutes.

Slow Cooker: Implement steps 1-3, mix everything, place it in the slow cooker and cook until the cheese is nice and melted about 1-2 hours on high or 2-4 hours on low.

Similar Recipes:
Hot Sweet Onion Dip
Hot Corn Dip
Htipiti (Greek Feta Cheese Dip)
Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Reuben Dip
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Spinach and Artichoke Hummus
Shrimp Scampi Dip

Crab Summer Rolls with Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce

Crab Summer Rolls with Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce

This week I got a copy of Crab by Andrea Froncillo and Jennifer Jeffery from Jaden (of Steamy Kitchen) and Jennifer. I was going to try one of the recipes from the book but when I saw Jadens post about Vietnamese summer rolls with cashew butter dipping sauce I decided to try making crab summer rolls. I had originally bookmarked the recipe for Goi Cuon when I saw it on Oishii Eats. The summer rolls looked nice and light and fresh and the cashew dipping sauce sounded really tasty. This was my first time working with crab, rice paper, vermicelli and cashew butter. I got some frozen precooked crab that was still in the shell from a local fish monger. It was a bit of a challenge to get the meat out of the shell. The summer rolls came together fairly easily, though my skills at wrapping them are some what lacking. I will have to practice a bit more. :) The crab summer rolls turned out pretty good. They were soft and crisp and crunchy and refreshing. The mint and Thai basil in the rolls was really nice. I quite liked the crab meat and I look forward to having it again. Next week I will have to try a recipe from the book.

Crab Summer Rolls


Ingredients:
* rice vermicelli
8 ounces crab
8 sheets rice paper (8" diameter)
8 leaves lettuce
1 carrot (julienned)
1 cucumber (julienned)
1 red pepper (julienned)
1 mango (sliced thinly)
16 mint leaves
16 basil leaves (preferable Thai)

Directions:
1. Cook the rice vermicelli as directed on the package. (Boil vermicelli for 4 minutes and drain.)
2. Warm the crab meat by boiling it in water for 1-3 minutes.
3. Dip the rice paper in water take it out and shake off the excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.
4. Place the rice paper on a dry surface and wrap all of the ingredients.
5. Repeat until all are done.


Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce

The cashew butter dipping sauce was really tasty. You could easily make this dipping sauce with peanut butter but the cashew butter was a nice change from the ordinary. The sauce was creamy and cashewy and the sweet and spicy was well balanced. I will definitely be making this sauce again!

Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce


Ingredients:
1 teaspoon oil
1 clove garlic (chopped)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons cashew butter
4 tablespoons water

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a small sauce pan.
2. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the hoisin sauce, sugar, chili sauce, cashew butter and water and bring to a simmer.
4. Take off the heat.

Serve with:
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Similar Recpies:
Vietnamese Summer Roll Salad
Crab Quesadillas
Cashew Butter Chicken
Thai Green Bean and Crab Salad
Crab Mac and Cheese

Ham and Cheese Quesadillas

Ham and Cheese Quesadilla

The best thing about the ham dinner that I had during the holidays has been the leftovers. It is so nice having some tasty ham in the freezer that you can just pull out and make almost anything tastier. This week I pulled out another bag of the leftover ham and used it to make ham and cheese quesadillas for breakfast. They are easy enough to make on a weekday morning and super tasty. I added some jalapeno peppers for some heat and served them with some salsa to dip in. I enjoy frying the quesadillas in a touch of putter in a pan to get a really nice and crisp shell.

Ingredients:
a touch of butter (or oil)
2 flour tortillas
1/4 pound ham (cut into bite sized pieces)
jalapeno peppers to taste (chopped, fresh or from a jar)
1 green onion (chopped)
2 handfuls cheese such as cheddar or jack etc. (grated)
1 tablespoon salsa

Directions:
1. Melt the butter (or oil) in a pan.
2. Place a tortilla in the pan and rub it around in the butter to coat.
3. Heat the tortilla until air pockets form in it flipping a few times.
4. Repeat 5-7 for the second tortilla and leave it in the pan.
5. Place the ham, jalapeno peppers, green onions and cheese on the tortilla in the pan.
6. Cook the quesadilla until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted flipping once.

Tip: Place a plate onto the quesadilla and flipped it from the pan to the plate and then slide it back into the pan to flip the quesadilla.

Similar Recipes:
Quesadillas
Shrimp Quesadillas
Ham and Egg Buritto