BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

When I am meal planning, I often like to make things that are similar right next to each other to ensure that I use all of the ingredients and that there are no leftover components sitting in the fridge forever. While I was thinking about the buffalo wing dip , it reminded me something else that I have been wanting to try making for a while, a bbq chicken pizza. A bbq chicken pizza is basically a pizza with barbecue sauce instead of a tomato sauce that is topped with grilled chicken, onions and cheese. I have experimented with replacing the tomato sauce on pizzas before and I have alway been happy with the results so I was looking forward to trying a bbq sauce based pizza. At one point, I was thinking about just using hot sauce but I figured that a homemade bbq sauce would be even better and I had just picked up some liquid smoke that I wanted to try adding to give it a hickory smoke aroma.

The bbq chicken pizza turned out really well! The sweet and spicy hot bbq sauce was simply amazing as a pizza sauce all covered in melted cheese and the smoky aroma took it over the edge. Barbecue chicken is always good and the combination was definitely a winner on this pizza. Now I am looking forward to having the leftovers for breakfast.

Kimchi Chicken Melt

Kimchi Chicken Melt

I recently learned about the All You Need is Cheese grilled cheese contest being put on by dairygoodness.ca and it was the perfect excuse to make a grilled cheese sandwich, not that I really need one. :) With my fresh batch of kimchi on hand I was thinking of another kimchi styled grilled cheese sandwich. I also had some cooked shredded chicken in the freezer that needed to be used and it seemed like the easiest, and possibly the tastiest way to use it would be in the form of a chicken salad sandwich grilled to perfection with lots of ooey gooey melted cheese. I kept the kimchi chicken salad sandwich nice and simple with some bacon, green onions, mayo and gochujang along with the kimchi and the chicken. You really can't go wrong with combining a creamy mayo based chicken salad with melted cheese and spicy kimchi and this sandwich was no exception!

Greek Style Pulled Lamb Fries

Greek Style Pulled Lamb Fries

After making several of the Greek style pulled lamb pitas I was looking for a bit of a change and I had just the idea. I was thinking about Greek styled pulled lamb fries something along the veins of chili fries or carne asada fries. Of course in addition to the pulled lamb topping there would be some freshly made mint tzatziki along with diced tomatoes, red onions, feta and some chopped kalamata olives. One of the reasons that I was liking this idea was that it would give me a chance to work on my french fry making skills as they need some improvement. This time my fries came out nicely done and they went well with the pulled lamb and all of the toppings. The fries were lightly golden brown and crispy and the outside and creamy on the inside and with their light salting they made this dish. I have to say that I liked the fry topped version better than the pita wrap version but then you really can't go wrong if your fries come out right.

Greek Style Pulled Lamb Pitas

Greek Style Pulled Lamb Pitas

Ever since I made the Korean BBQ pulled pork sandwich last week, moist, tender, flavourful pulled meat has been on my mind. I was thinking about what else I could do with pulled pork when inspiration struck! What about pulled lamb? As soon as I though about lamb I was thinking about a nice simple souvlaki kind of marinade with olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano. Of course it would have to be a pulled lamb pita rather than a pulled pork sandwich and I could fill it with tzatziki , fresh diced tomatoes, red onions and feta. Things were starting to sound good!

I wanted to get the maximum flavour out of the lamb and it's tasty marinade so I started early and marinated it over night. Next up was slowly cooking it all day until it was so nice and tender that it was literally falling falling apart. After shredding the lamb I could not let all of those juices, which now contained most of the marinade along with all of it's flavour, go to waste so I skimmed the fat from them and mixed them into the lamb. Those juices both made the lamb even tastier and they helped to ensure that the lamb was nice and moist. I all honesty I could have just eaten all of the lamb just like that with a spoon, well maybe I did have a spoon or two as it was, but next it was time to assemble the pitas. The combination of the moist, tender and tasty lamb with the cool, creamy, garlicky and minty tzatziki and the ripe juicy tomatoes and the salty feta was just out of this world good! Now, what to do with the leftover pulled lamb?

Dakkochi (Korean Skewered Chicken)

Dakkochi Korean Skewered Chicken)

When I was making bulgogi , a Korean bbq beef, and in particular the chicken bulgogi , I could not help but think that the marinade would also work well on some grilled skewered chicken. The bulgogi marinade reminded me of a more complex teriyaki sauce that is sweet at heart but also packs a ton of flavour. With yakitori , a Japanese teriyaki grilled skewered chicken, being one of my favorite ways to grill up some meat on a stick, I itching to try the Korean bulgogi version. A quick search of the web led me to dakkochi, a Korean skewered chicken street food and I was set to go.

I went with my pretty standard bulgogi marinade recipe and even though I often like to add some heat in the form of gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste, I decided to omit it for the chicken skewer version in favour of a sweeter profile. Normally when making bulgogi I cook all of that tasty marinade up with the meat so that I do not loose any of the flavour but since that was not possible for the skewered version I decided to strain the solids from the marinade, simmer it down to a sauce and use it to baste or glaze the chicken as it cooked. The bulgogi skewered chicken turned out great! The chicken was nice and tender and juicy and just dripping with flavour! You cannot go wrong with grilled skewered meat and this skewered chicken is no exception! I could not resist adding some element of heat to the meal so I served the chicken along with some ssamjang, a Korean fermented chili and bean paste condiment, and some bean sprout kimchi all wrapped up in lettuce leaves for one tasty meal.

Spicy Orange Shrimp

Spicy Orange Shrimp

Last week when I made the fresh pea risotto with spicy grilled shrimp , I realized that it had been a while since I had done much of interest with shrimp and all of a sudden I was starting to feel shrimp withdrawal symptoms. Luckily I had just the idea to satisfy the cravings in the form of this spicy orange shrimp. I had been thinking about doing a shrimp dish with orange and some Asian flavours for a while and it was the perfect time to try it. I kept the recipe nice and simple with just a few basic ingredients. Oranges can have a fairly subtle flavour so the idea is to season the sauce without overpowering the flavours of the orange. Basically you want to balance the flavour of the orange with a bit of saltiness from the soy sauce, some tang from the vinegar, a touch of sweetness from the honey and some spicy chili heat. The net result is a dish of succulent shrimp covered in a sauce with the aroma and flavour of oranges that just dances on your tongue. I made these shrimp as more of an appetizer but you could easily turn this into a meal by adding a few vegetables and maybe some cashews and serving it on rice or noodles.

Ahi Tuna Tostadas

Ahi Tuna Tostadas with Wasabi Aioli

Almost a year ago now I attended the opening party for the restaurant Joey Don Mills here in Toronto. While I was there I saw their as of yet unfinished rooftop patio in addition to getting to sample lots of tasty food. Last week I had the opportunity to attend their long awaited rooftop patio opening party and I have to say, the patio looks great and the food was just as good as I remembered it. I got to sample a number of their dishes while I was there and the one that really caught my attention this time was one of their signature dishes, the ahi tuna tacos and I could not resist trying to recreate them at home.

Sesame and Ginger Coleslaw (Mayoless)

Sesame and Ginger Coleslaw (Mayoless)

When I think about coleslaw I immediatly think about a cabbage salad smothered in a mayonnaise but coleslaw can definitely work without the mayo. I recently made a sesame and ginger coleslaw where I used the mayonnaise based dressing but I now found that I needed a version of it without mayonnaise for the next project that I was working on. I kept the changes for the mayonnaise-less version pretty simple relying on a sesame and ginger vinaigrette to replace the mayo. The vinaigrette consists of rice wine vinegar, lime juice, oil, toasted sesame oil, ginger and a bit of honey to balance things out a bit with some sweetness. I also added a chopped up birds eye chili to this version to add a touch of heat tot he salad. With the tasty sesame and ginger vinaigrette you will never miss the mayonnaise in this coleslaw.

Peameal Bacon and Kimchi Breakfast Muffin

Peameal Bacon and Kimchi Breakfast Muffin

For some reason peameal bacon has been on my mind a lot recently and it had been a while since I last picked some up. (Peameal bacon is a back bacon that is brined and rolled in peameal or cornmeal.) I also had my newly minted batch of new and improved kimchi that I was just itching to use. Salty bacon and spicy kimchi are a great flavour combination and I knew that peameal bacon would be just as amazing. The rest of the sandwich sort of just fell into place. I wanted to include some greens and with the Korean flavours that were already going in the sandwich the shredded romaine in a Korean sesame vinaigrette was a natural choice and I could not resist adding some cheese. When I am making my standard peameal bacon sandwich I always like to include some mayo and in this case a gochujang mayo sounded perfect. I am not sure why but, I was associating this sandwich with breakfast so a lightly toasted English muffin was in order and since kimchi can be a bit juicy I caramelized it so that the muffin would not get soggy. With all of the spicy flavours in the sandwich I figured that some cool and creamy avocado and black beans would finish off the breakfast nicely.

Kimchi Version 2.0

Kimchi Version

I have been hooked on kimchi ever since I discovered it. When I came across a recipe to make it at home a few years ago I leapt at the chance. After looking at a lot of recipes that I found on the web I decided to make a simple kimchi for my first version that contained pretty much only the required ingredients. That first batch of kimchi turned out so well that since then I have made it dozens of times and my fridge has never been without at least one batch in it the whole while. I was so pleased with that recipe that I quickly forgot that I had fully intended to revisit it and try a more advanced one later on. I recently recalled that fact and set about coming up with a new version.

Fresh Pea Risotto with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Fresh Pea Risotto with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

More of summers bounty is starting to show up at the farmers market and this weekend I came across some fresh peas in their pods. Although it takes a bit of work to get the peas from their protective pods, I always enjoy fresh, sweet and crispy peas. I most often just add them to salads but their sweetness works so well in cheesy risotto that it is hard to resist making a least one batch every summer. Risotto also takes some effort to make but this one with is nice and creamy and with the sweet peas, a splash of lemon, and a hit of mint is just bursting with summery freshness is so worth it.

I wanted to turn this risotto into more of a light meal and one great way to do so is to simply add some shrimp. I could easily have just added the shrimp directly to the risotto along with the peas at the end but I was thinking that I could kick things up a notch by hitting the shrimp with the Creole spice blend that I use on shrimp in shrimp po' boys . I was also thinking that shrimp tossed in a simple mint pesto would also be really nice on this fresh pea risotto.

Asparagus Mimosa

Asparagus Mimosa

I certainly have been enjoying the fresh local asparagus so far this season and in particular I have been using the asparagus and egg combination a lot. Although it is now late in the season, the local asparagus is still readily available at the farmers market which is fortuitous as I recently came across another nice sounding asparagus and egg dish called asparagus mimosa. Asparagus mimosa is a simple dish where the asparagus is served in a lemon and mustard vinaigrette and topped with a hard boiled egg that has been forced through a sieve. This asparagus and egg dish is quite easy to make and just bursting with freshness from the sweet and juicy asparagus to the bright lemon juice in the dressing to the fresh chopped herbs. I particularly liked the texture of the sieved eggs in this dish, though it was not very easy to clean the egg out of the sieve after so I think I will try using a fine grater next time. What a wonderful way to enjoy some asparagus!

Kimchi Sweet Potato Salad

Kimchi Sweet Potato Salad

The only ting missing from my Korean bbq pulled pork sandwich meal was a side and I was thinking of another summer classic, the potato salad. Given the Korean flavour theme that I had going for the rest of the meal wanted to continue it with the potato salad and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, a kimchi sweet potato salad. I figured that the sweetness of sweet potatoes would go nicely with the spicy hot kimchi. Normally potatoes for a potato salad are boiled but I always like roasting sweet potatoes and since it has been a bit cooler over the last few days I did not mind having the oven on as much. I always enjoy pairing bacon with kimchi and it looked like it would be a perfect fit in this potato salad as well. Potato salads are most commonly bound together with mayonnaise and I could not resist adding some gochujang for even more spiciness.

The kimchi and roasted sweet potato salad exceeded all of my expectations with the combination forming something much more than the sum of the parts! The spicy and creamy gochujang mayo, the crunchy kimchi, the salty bacon and the warm, sweet roasted potatoes came together to create something magical. I have to say that I enjoyed this potato salad most when it was freshly made and still warm from the potatoes roasting in the oven. I warmed the left over up in the microwave for a few seconds as well before eating them. This potato salad was the perfect finish to my Korean bbq pulled pork meal!

Sesame and Ginger Coleslaw

Sesame Coleslaw

The Korean bbq pulled pork seemed kind of lonely in the bun all by itself and it needed a friend. At first I was thinking of adding some shredded lettuce in a Korean sesame vinaigrette and onion and cilantro relish but then I thought, it's a pulled pork sandwich so it just has to be slaw. But with the Korean flavours in the bbq sauce I felt that it could not be just any old coleslaw so I set about coming up new a new Asian twist on coleslaw. I had recently come across the concept of a sesame mayo which sounded nice and so a mayo based slaw with sesame flavours in the form of sesame oil and sesame seeds became the base of the slaw. From there, I added some freshly grated ginger, some freshly chopped cilantro and some green onions to round things out. The sesame, ginger and cilantro flavours worked really well in this coleslaw and it paired nicely with the Korean flavoured bbq pulled pork in the sandwiches.

Korean BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Korean BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Sesame Slaw and a Kimchi Sweet Potato Salad

A couple of weeks ago, when I was making the bbq sauce for the bbq chicken with blue cheese slaw wraps it reminded me of another sauce, a gochujang sauce that I have been making for a few years now. This gochujang sauce goes great on things like bibimbap and bibimguksu but it is also a great Korean style bbq sauce. It has all of the bbq sauce elements including spicy heat, sweetness, saltiness and tanginess, not to mention that it is packed with flavour and it has the amazing aroma of sesame. I also realized that I had yet to post about this use of the gochujang sauce.

With the summer here I have been thinking about pick-nick and bbq food a lot and recently I had been thinking of slow roasted, moist and tender pulled pork smothered in a sweet an spicy bbq sauce. With that I knew that it was the perfect time to roast up a pork butt and make some Korean style bbq pulled pork sandwiches. Though, with the heat in the summer I actually prefer to use the slow cooker to cook the pork. With the slow cooker you cannot get those nice crispy charred edges but it is convenient and it even allows you to easily make pulled pork on a weekday. You really can't have a pulled pork sandwich without some slaw so I made some sesame and ginger coleslaw and continuing along with the pick-nick food and Korean flavours themed I made a kimchi sweet potato salad to go along with the sandwiches.

This Korean bbq pulled pork is pretty versatile and you can use it in any number of things from these sandwiches to tacos similar to these Korean short rib tacos inspired by the Kogi tacos of California. Of course the Korean bbq sauce also goes well with shredded chicken.

Asparagus and Mushroom Japchae

Asparagus and Mushroom Japchae

When I was at the Korean food festival a few weeks ago I got to watch a demonstration on how to make japchae which was a nice reminder that japchae has been on my to try list for a while. Japchae (or jabchae or chapchae) is a Korean stir fried pasta dish made with dangmyeon, a cellophane noodle made with sweet potato starch. In addition to the noodles, japchae includes various vegetables and it is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds and chili peppers. For my japchae, I went with a pretty standard list of ingredients including spinach, mushrooms and a carrot and with asparagus is season I could not resist adding some to the mix! I used a variety of more exotic mushrooms including enoki, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Japchae is pretty easy to make and it helps if you have everything chopped and ready to go before you start. One thing that you will want to do is to make sure that you cut the noodles after they are cooked as they are very long. Unless of course you really enjoy slurping. :) The asparagus and mushroom japchae turned out really well! The dangmyeon noodles had a soft, almost jelly like texture that I quite enjoyed and I certainly like their glass like appearance. The sweet and salty flavour combination of the mirin and soy sauce worked really well together and the sesame flavour rounded everything out and gave the dish an intoxicating aroma. I am definitely looking forward to using these sweet potato noodles more.

Strawberry and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

Strawberry and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

I had some mascarpone left over that I wanted to finish and with french toast fresh on my mind I knew of a perfect way to enjoy it, in the form of strawberry and mascarpone stuffed french toast! I kept the recipe pretty simple using the strawberry and mascarpone filling from the strawberry and mascarpone crepes and I stuffed it into a french toast sandwich and grilled it up. I then simmered some more strawberries along with some sugar to make a thick strawberry syrup which I used to smother the french toast with, covering it with even more strawberry goodness. This strawberry and mascarpone stuffed french toast made for a really nice lazy Sunday morning breakfast! What a great way to enjoy some perfectly ripe in season strawberries!

Parmigiano Reggiano Savoury French Toast

Parmigiano Reggiano Savoury French Toast with Asparagus and a Poached Egg Smothered in a Dill and Caper Avgolemono Sauce

I recently came across the concept of a savoury french toast and it blew my mind! I had never even thought a bout a savoury french toast. I figured that you really could not go wrong with a warm, moist, custardy bread that is fried up until it is golden brown and then covered with melted cheese. I was sold on the idea and I had to try it! The only question was: What to serve on it? Still clinging to convention ideas about french toast, namely that it is a breakfast, the first thing that I thought of was an egg with a runny yolk. But why stop there? Why not kick it up a notch? With asparagus still really the only local fresh vegetable available and considering that it goes so well with eggs, it was the obvious choice. But french toast is normally served with a syrup... Well how about topping the cheesy savoury french toast topped with the asparagus in a dill and caper avgolemono sauce topped with a poached egg that I enjoyed so much?

The savoury french toast covered in melted cheese turned out great! The asparagus in avgolemono sauce and the poached egg with runny yolk only made it better! What a great way to enjoy some of the fresh local asparagus for a lazy weekend breakfast! I can't wait to experiment further with savoury french toasts!

How to Add Social Media "Follow" Icons to Your Blog

I have had a few questions about how I added the "Follow Closet Cooking" buttons for rss, email, facebook and twitter to the top of my side bar so I thought that I would write a tutorial for it. To add the buttons you will need to play around with a bit of html in your template but it is pretty easy. I will target this tutorial more at users of blogger but it should interpret to other blogging applications easily.

Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The other day I got a reader request for an asparagus grilled cheese sandwich topped with an egg which sounded good. I was immediatly thinking about a croque-madame which is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg and I was thinking a fried egg. It was the end of the week however, and although I was lucky enough to have some asparagus left in the fridge, I was fresh out of eggs so I had to settle for just an asparagus grilled cheese sandwich. Since this sandwich was only going to have a few ingredients, I decided to roast the asparagus to enhance its natural flavour. For the sandwich, I started with a whole grain bread with a slight sweetness to it and I added some oka cheese that I had in the fridge that needed to be finished. (I would also have easily gone with some gruyere if I had had some on hand.) I finished the sandwich off with a hit of grainy mustard to add even more flavour and a bit of bite. I have to say, this roasted asparagus grilled cheese sandwich is one really nice way to enjoy some fresh summer asparagus!

Strawberry and Mascarpone Crepes with Strawberry Syrup

Strawberry and Mascarpone Crepes with Strawberry Syrup

Next up for the fresh local strawberries that I picked up at the farmers market on the weekend are these strawberry and mascarpone crepes inspired by the latest issue of Food & Drink. You really can't go wrong with strawberries and cream but you can make them even better by wrapping them in warm, light and fluffy crepes. This recipe gets its creamy component from mascarpone and it lightens it up a bit by using half mascarpone and half plain yogurt. Strawberries are mixed in with the cream filling and the crepes are finished off with a drizzle of freshly made strawberry syrup. These crepes make for a really nice weekend breakfast or brunch or even a light weekday meal. I can pretend that it is crepe, no I mean pancake Tuesday. :)

Asparagus Risotto with a Poached Egg

Asparagus Risotto with a Poached Egg

I am not sure what it is about spring, but every time it rolls around I find myself once again thinking about green risottos. Given the asparagus binge that I have been on the last few weeks and asparagus risotto was going to make an appearance sooner or later and this weekend it happened. I stuck with a pretty basic risotto recipe and added the asparagus in a few different ways. First off, I replace some of the chicken stock with the water that I cooked the asparagus in to make sure that I did not loose any of those nutrients. Asparagus has a wonderful juicy texture that I did not want to miss out on so I had to include some bite sized pieces and finally, I wanted to add a bit of green to the risotto itself so I pureed half of the asparagus in a food processor before mixing it in. Risotto works equally well as a side dish or as a main if you add a bit of protein and with all of the asparagus and egg combinations that I have been doing lately the first thing that came to mind was topping the asparagus risotto off with poached egg.

The juicy asparagus worked really well in the creamy and cheesy risotto with the flavour of the asparagus pairing nicely with the flavour of the parmigiano reggiano. Of course the egg yolk running all over everything only made it better! Another great way to enjoy some fresh asparagus in a light spring meal!

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jelly

Yogurt Panna Cotta

I have been wanting to try making panna cotta for a while now but the time never seemed right. Throughout the winter I kept thinking that a panna cotta would be really nice with a jellied fruit topping and so I held off until the summer. The first of the local strawberries burst onto the scene last weekend at the farmers market and the time had finally come to make some panna cotta topped with a freshly made strawberry jelly!