February 25, 2012

warm and cozy


Sometimes, you just want some soft, gooey, sweet cinnamon bread.  This is the kind of recipe that's best made on a lazy Sunday morning when you're doing laundry.  You can put in your loads while you let the dough rise a few of times.


The dough needs to rest and rise three times.


The funnest part of the recipe is when you get to make the cinnamon sugar.  And then spread it on the dough and then bundle it all up into a pretty roll.




After 50 mins in the oven, serve it up after it rests for 10 mins but is still nice and warm, and enjoy!


Here's the recipe!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
by Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for bowl and pan
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons plus a pinch sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Make the dough: Lightly butter a medium bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, heat 1/3 cup milk and 2 tablespoons butter until bubbles form along the sides of the saucepan. Remove from heat; set aside. In a 1-cup glass measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup warm water, the yeast, and a pinch sugar. Stir to combine. The mixture should begin to foam in about 5 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. Slowly add milk mixture, stirring to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, a heaping tablespoon sugar, and salt. Mix on low to combine. Gradually add the milk mixture, beating on low until well combined. Add the yeast mixture, beating to combine. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Remove dough to work surface, if the dough seems sticky, check the bottom of the mixer bowl, there should be enough flour to lightly flour the board. Knead dough until it is silky and smooth and bounces back when pressed with your thumb. Transfer to prepared bowl, turning to coat in butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.with rack in the center. Make the filling: Lightly butter an 8 1/2-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside.
  5. Remove dough from bowl, and punch it down to remove air bubbles. If the dough seems sticky, lightly flour the board. If it seems dry, spritz it with a little water. Knead until silky and smooth.
  6. Roll the dough into an 8 1/2-by-12-inch rectangle. Work the corners by pushing with your fingers; be careful not to tear the dough. Brush the surface of the dough with 3 tablespoons melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar.
  7. Beginning with a long side, roll the dough up into a log. Using your fingertips, be sure to push in at the seam where the dough meets the cinnamon sugar. Carefully pull the dough back to its original 8 1/2-inch width as it shrinks. When you reach the end, pinch the two layers of dough together to seal. Place the roll, seam-side down, in prepared pan. Cover, and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  8. Make the glaze: Whisk together remaining egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush over the risen dough. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a finger, about 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.


February 20, 2012

just peachy


I didn't make these tasty grilled peaches with feta, my husband did.  We went to the store and he picked up some canned peaches and proceeded to make our house smell like sweet sugary butter.

Here's all you'll need:


My husband is a mean griller.  He grills everything from steaks to asparagus, and everything turns out 100% pure delicious every time.  

The secret to his success is... well, I'm not sure, you'll have to ask him.  But I suspect it has something to do with patience.  I always try to flip things over before they're ready.  Mr. A placed the peaches onto our cast iron grill pan and covered them and waited.  And voila!  Perfectly grilled peaches, with nice grill-marks and everything!


Sprinkle some feta on top and you're got yourself a mouth-watering combination of sweet, salty, warm and juicy deliciousness.


Here's the recipe!

Grilled Peaches with Feta
by Chef Peggy

Ingredients:
Canned or fresh, recipe peach halves
Feta cheese

Directions:
Heat the skillet on med-high heat.  When it's hot, place the peach halves onto the skillet and cover.  When the peaches have grill-marks on one side (about 3 mins), flip and repeat.  Once the peaches have been grilled on both sides, crumble some feta on top on the side with the hollowed out pit area.
Wait 5 mins to cool down, and serve.

Enjoy!

-zaza

February 19, 2012

one of my favourite salads


Tabouleh! (pronouced Tabouli!)  This is one of my all-time favourite salads.  I learned how to make it from my mom, much like many of the other dishes and salads I make often.

The keys to a delicious tabouleh, in my opinion is: 1) chopping everything as small as possible, and 2) being generous with your dressing.

I also like using whole bulgur wheat, 'cause I think it's tastier than the non-whole version.



If you've ever wondered what bulgur wheat is, wonder no more!  Bulgur is a coarsely ground wheat that has been parboiled and dried.  It's sometimes confused with cracked wheat, but it's not the same thing.  Bulgur has a slightly nutty flavour, and no tabouleh is whole without it.


Here is my attempt as the tiniest cubes of cucumber:

Here's the parsley chopped up real fine, and the shallots ready to go:


and the flowers I got for Valentine's Day.



Here's the recipe!

Tabouleh
by my mom

Ingredients:
1/3 cup whole bulgur wheat
1 bunch of parsley, thoroughly washes and chopped very fine
1 tomato, finely cubed
1 english cucumber, finely cubed
2 shallots, or 3 green onions, or 1/4 onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
dash of dried chili pepper for a bit of heat

Directions:
Wash the bulgur wheat and drain, leaving a bit of water.  Let the wheat soak for at least 30 mins, until they are softened.
Combine the bulgur with the vegetables and toss.  Pour vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings on the salad and toss well.

Enjoy!

-zaza


February 14, 2012

happy appy


We made hummus and rotis on the weekend!  We took them to our friends' place for lunch.  We had a great time.

Hummus is a great appetizer/snack/light dinner.  Another thing that's great about hummus is that it's super easy and fast to make.  I like to add some parsley to my hummus because I think it gives it a little je-ne-sais-quoi.

Here's how it looked like before it got zapped in the food processor.


After:


We made rotis to scoop up our hummus with.  If you like making your own bread, this little flat bread is one of the easiest to make.  It only has 3 ingredients: whole wheat flour, a little bit of salt, and water.  Yup, that's it!





That's me rolling the rotis out!


After the rotis get rolled out, then go into the cast iron skillet.


Then, they get flipped, and finally brushed with melted butter or oil.



Here's the recipe!

Hummus
by me

Ingredients
1 can chick peas
2 tbsp tahini
small handful of parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
2-3 gloves of garlic

Directions
Mince the garlic and parsley in the food process.  Add the rest of the ingredients and puree in the food processor until well combined.

Rotis
by Manjula's Kitchen

makes 8 rotis

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp butter, melted

Directions

Mix flour, salt and water together to make a soft dough (add more water or flour as needed).  Knead the dough on a lightly greased surface to make the dough smooth and pliable.  Divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Roll them info smooth balls and press them flat. Take 1 ball; press it in dry flour from both sides.

Roll in to a 4-inch circle. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or rolling syrface, lightly dust the roti with dry flour. Tip: Use just enough flour to roll the roti, too much flour will make the roti dry.

Heat the skillet on medium high heat. Tip: An iron skillet works best. To know if the skillet is hot enough, sprinkle few drops of water on the skillet. If the water sizzles right away, the skillet is ready.

Place the roti onto the skillet.  When you start to see air pockets, turn the roti over, about 3-4 mins. Flip again after a few seconds. Take a flat spatula and press lightly on the puffed parts of the roti. This will help the roti puff.

Flip the roti again. The roti should have light golden-brown spots on both sides.  Remove the roti from the skillet and place on a paper towel.  Butter the roti on one side.

Rotis can be kept outside for up to 2 days wrapped in aluminum foil or in a closed container, or they can be refrigerated for 5-6 days.




February 11, 2012

chili winter



There's nothing like a warm, comforting, not to mention incredibly delicious hot chili to tuck into on a cold winter day.



We finally got some snow and I'm finally getting around to sharing my best chili recipe.



This one's my own recipe.  I combined a couple of different recipes to create this tasty concoction.  I'm calling it "I'm going for seconds" Chili.  Make it and see for yourself.




I'm Going For Seconds Chili
by me


Ingredients

300g of bacon (I use less salt bacon), chopped
500g of ground turkey (you can also use ground beef)
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cubano pepper, diced
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons hot paprika or cayenne
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 can tomato paste
4 cups of beef broth
2-3 bay leaves
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 can black beans

Directions

1.  Heat a large cast iron pot (or heavy bottom pot) over medium-high heat and add bacon.  Add a splash of water and let the bacon render its fat.  As the water evaporates, the bacon will brown.  Cook until the bacon is brown and crispy.

2. Pour off slightly over half the fat from the bacon.  Add the onions, garlic and peppers.  Saute until they are softened.

3. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, cinnamon and hot paprika and continue to cook another 5 minutes.

4.  Add turkey and saute the meat until browned, about 10 minutes, breaking apart the meat as it cooks.

5. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and tomato paste.  Continue cooking until the tomato paste turns nicely brown and caramelized, another 3-4 minutes.

6. Add beef broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, 1 hour.

7. 10 minutes before the end of the cook time, add the beans and season with salt & pepper, to taste.

I like to serve it with thick yoghurt.  My husband likes to add grate cheese on top too.  Trust me, you'll want seconds.




February 05, 2012

i love lemon poppy seed cake


Today, I made one of my favourite baking recipes: lemon poppy seed cake!

This cake is light, fluffy and moist, and I love how the poppy seeds crack under my teeth.

It all begins by rubbing sugar and the lemon zest together to release the lemony oils in the rind.  I love this part.  The sugar will smell so lovely and lemony once you're done.



Poppy seeds are so pretty aren't they?


 Yes, I used private label poppy seeds.


There's the batter in the bundt pan.  I also love bundt pans.  I think they're making a come-back.




Here's the recipe:

Lemon poppy seed cake
adapted from Joy the Baker


2/3 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream (I substituted with non fat yoghurt)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted until browned and cooled
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (for topping the batter before baking)
For the Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar whisked together with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter a bundtcake pan.
In a large bowl, rub the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly colored and scented with lemon.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or sour cream) vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together.  The batter will be quite thick.  When almost thoroughly mixed, add the poppy seeds.  Pour the batter (I had to scoop and place it) into the bundt pan.  Sprinkle each would be muffing with granulated sugar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.  

February 04, 2012

where's winter?


We haven't had much of a winter around here.  I think it has snowed a total of 2 times since October.  I keep hoping we'll get a real, snowy winter.  Fingers crossed.  Maybe that's why I made us some warm comforting food to tuck into: I made beef stroganoff for dinner tonight.


I bought some very pretty button mushrooms from the store and some grilling steak.

All in all, this was a quick and easy recipe.  And hubby really liked it (he went for seconds!).


Confession: my stroganoff, while tasty, did turn out kinda watery.  But I can tell you what to do to prevent that from happening:

1) definitely fry your steak in two batches.  I did mine all at once and the steak gave off alot of liquid.  Not what you want.

2) I used yoghurt instead of sour cream.  I think this gave off more liquid, and we also lost the creamy tanginess of the sour cream.  Next time, I'm sticking with sour cream.

Here's the recipe:

Beef Stroganoff
adapted from BBC Food

675g beef filet
1 1/2 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika
1 large onion, thinly sliced
350g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
300mL sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
salt & pepper
whole wheat egg white noodles


Cut the steak into slices 1cm/0.5in thick, then cut each slice across the grain into strips 1cm/0.5in wide.


Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the paprika and onion and cook slowly until the onion is soft and sweet, but not browned.


Cook noodles in boiling water.


Add the mushrooms and fry gently for three minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate and keep warm.


Using the same pan you cooked the onion mixture in, heat one and a half tablespoons of sunflower oil until very hot.  Add half the fillet steak and fry quickly, seasoning and turning it as you do so, for just over one minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the rest of the oil and steak.


Return the onion mixture to the pan and pour in the soured cream. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute or so, until thickened.  Return the steak to the pan and heat very gently for one minute - the beef should not be cooked any further.
Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and serve over the prepared noodles.