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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.