Category Archives: All Recipes

Gourmet Jelly Shots-French Martini Style

Quivering delights of drunkenness

photos by Tad Seaborn

I was dubious.  Gourmet jelly shots.  I even skipped these in university in lieu of the much cooler and more sanitary mixing of a garbage can of Purple Jesus  (Go Gaels!).

But when we decided to try them for The Lazy Gourmet I was pleasantly surprised.  They were kind of fun.

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There are many sites dedicated to beautiful versions of these like the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen or this pretty cool Jello Shot Pinterest page.  So I did a bit of research based on other people’s trial and error  (oh happy day when I can call a jelly shot recipe “research”).  I tried to make sure I added enough gelatine so they held together but were not gummy bear in chewy-ness.  I also wanted to initially try a clear jelly shot (very cool) but found the alcohol a bit overwhelming so came up with this take on the French Martini which includes fresh pineapple juice.

And I am not kidding when I say be careful how many sips you take to taste and adjust flavours when you mix them, they pack a wallop.  (It’s inconvenient to pass out mid-research.)

CHAMBORD AND PINEAPPLE JELLY SHOTS

Ingredients

1 cup raspberry vodka

1/4 cup Chambord

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, divided

Fresh lemon.

1/3 cup simple syrup (bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil until the sugar dissolves; cool before using)

3 packs (15 millilitres each) gelatin

1/2 cup hot water

16 raspberries

Method

In a medium bowl combine raspberry vodka, Chambord, 1 cup pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Add simple syrup and take a sip to see if you like the balance of sweetness and tang from the lemon. Set aside.

In another bowl, pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice and sprinkle 3 gelatin on top. Add hot water (from the kettle) and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add to the vodka mixture and whisk to combine. Pour into an 8-inch-by-8-inch glass dish. Chill in the fridge until the mixture starts to thicken (about 10 minutes) and then add 16 raspberries, spacing them out so it will be easy to divide 1 raspberry per jelly shot. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, prepare a glass of hot water. Dip a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter into the hot water before cutting around each raspberry. Twist the circle cutter around the jelly for a clean cut, and push gently side to side to peel it from the bottom of the dish before removing. You should get about 16 one-ounce pieces.

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Truffle Salt- my new addiction

Avocado on Toast with Truffle Salt

This week’s gourmet in a flash recipe in Globe Life. Avocado and truffle salt on toast.

How did I not discover truffle salt before?  It was in California visiting my brother that I got slightly obsessed.  Dave and Erin had received some for Christmas from Erin’s food loving brother Chris.  Soon we were sprinkling it on everything– on eggs to finish pizza (amazing–why have any other toppings in fact) and even on our steak fajitas and what better on popcorn?   And you can always just go with plain Tuscan butter, baguette and truffle salt.

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This week we featured it the weekly  quick gourmet recipe for the Globe.  My new favourite lunch, see above.

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Truffle salt from Williams- Sonoma

Not all truffle salts are created equal I have discovered, some taste more like salt with some black specs that might be truffle– but the one I got from Williams Sonoma is amazingly earthy and rich–the smell is fantastic.  Keep it in your bag–smelling salts for foodies.  Not cheap–about $35.00 but you really don’t have to use much at all.  Maybe a nice host or hostess gift even, if you really the people.  Otherwise stick with the Yellowtail….kidding!  (Unless you always bring Yellowtail and it works, then yah, def stick with it.)

Pass on any good truffle salt uses you have found if you like it too.  Because you know, using it a zillion times a day just isn’t enough.

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Making Saag Paneer with guest hostess Johanne Durocher

Saag Paneer for dinner-YUM!

I am absolutely thrilled to have my friend Johanne do a guest blog for me!  She has so much going on and yet made time for Cheese and Toast.  Her bio and pic (including a pic of donuts) is here and her blog Fashion in Motion is a fave–not only because of the fabulous content but I love Johanne’s witty and fun writing style.  You shall see as you read from this point on…..  ENJOY, SR.

As a gal who likes to improvise in the dressing room and in the kitchen, following a recipe to the letter is an exercise in restraint. I can’t resist substitutions, additions, modifications. I’ll use a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon. I’m such a rebel. Cue the music: I did it my way.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoyed cooking Indian food: it’s so flexible to adding more of this, less of that, turn up the heat or throw in an extra veg. But every now and again and I take on a new recipe and force-feed myself a little discipline. I do my best to follow it to the letter and not dispute salting the water or measuring only one teaspoon of vanilla.

And so it was with this in mind that I rolled up my sleeves and made Saag Paneer. Most people look shocked and a little scared when I tell them I made Saag Paneer. It is fitting that we reveal the mystery of the saag right here right now.

I followed the recipe here at Active For Life and it boasts a healthy take on the Indian classic. Having made Indian dishes before, I thought, piece of cake. It is very easy- but not necessarily a project I recommend undertaking on a weeknight unless you’re up to eating at 9pm. It will be an event: so pour yourself a drink and start washing your spinach.

I set a very large pot of salted water to boil and while that was heating up, I washed and dried just over two pounds of fresh spinach. That in itself took a long time and when I make this recipe again, I may just buy it pre-washed.

Fresh Spinach

I prepared just over two pounds of fresh spinach that I chopped into 3-inch long segments

Before blanching the spinach, I coarsely chopped it in half or thirds depending on the length of the leaves. I figured that this way when I would blend them there wouldn’t be a chance of having long strings of spinach filaments- imagined or real, the anticipation caused a coarse chop (see- I just can’t help myself throw in extra steps.)

Okay, when the water is at a full boil you drop your spinach in it, stir to get it all wet and then you wait and watch with the lid off (helps tremendously).

Spinach in Water

Blanching spinach is easy- just let the water come back to a boil and you’re done

When the water begins to boil again, strain the spinach and discard the water. In my case, I was hesitating about blanching it all at once because I had so much spinach and perhaps had not chosen a large enough pot, so I blanched in batches. To do this, just delicately scoop out the blanched spinach from the water and let the water come back to a roaring boil before throwing in the next batch. Worked really well for me.

Blanched spinach

The goal of blanching is to soften the spinach, not kill it to mush

After that bring in the high-powered machine: blend the spinach in a food processor at high speed. It won’t be super smooth so you’ll want to add water at the rate of one tablespoon at a time, then blend again, then add water until it’s looking smooth to you. It won’t be like a creamy-smooth, but it should be well-blended and the spinach particles quite small. No chunks, no filaments.

Food Processor

I was using my mini-food processor and had to blend my spinach in batches. See? Anything is possible

After that comes the fun stuff: on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan with high sides. Add ¾ tsp of cumin seeds and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Careful not to let these babies burn. Add 1 diced cooking onion and sauté until golden, roughly 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves of grated garlic and 2 tea spoons of grated ginger root. Cook for one minute.

Onion and Cumin

By this time it will smell so good in your house you’ll be thinking you can do this

When the onions are nice and golden, stir in ¼ cup of cilantro finely chopped, ½ tsp each of salt, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir in ¼ tsp of cinnamon and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add ½ cup of fresh chopped tomatoes and cook until they reduce and break down, roughly 5 minutes.

Paneer in Pan

I made the execute chef decision to pan-fry the paneer cubes at this step in the game

Set aside the tomato mixture in a bowl and return the frying pan to the stove, adding one teaspoon of oil and set that to medium heat. Dice 1 package of paneer into bite-sized cubes and add that to your hot pan. I added two cloves of grated garlic to them and flipped the cubes until golden crispy on two or more sides and then pulled those aside. This paneer-frying is a deviation that is perfectly acceptable (weeks later I discussed this with chef Vikram Vij who said it’s okay, but you can also just add your paneer later as the recipe instructs and that way it will be more melt-y, less-cube-y in texture. Your choice.).

Golden Paneer

Mmm paneer- a pressed cheese much like cottage cheese brick and commonly used in Indian cooking. I didn’t make the paneer and you don’t have to, either; it’s found at most large supermarkets.

I returned my pan to the heat and picked up where I left off: in it went the tomato mixture which I brought back to medium heat while stirring, and then added the reserved spinach. Cook for 3 minutes.

Spinach and Tomato

See me using a wooden spoon! I’m not breaking all the recipe rules

After that you should be looking at it and asking yourself if the mixture is saucy. If too thick, add water a few tablespoons at a time and stir. Stir in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt and threw in a little extra), the paneer cubes, and 2 tsp of lemon juice.

Yogurt Paneer

Watching this coming together is like waiting for the finale to a figure skating routine and you will get a quad

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, cut the heat, stir and admire your work.

FInal Saag Paneer

Ta-da! It will be magic and even the international judges will give you full points

Serve with rice or naan bread, or in my case, eat it straight up with a side of Panch Churan chutney (see top photo).

Thoughts on leftovers….

For me it was the best on the night-of, the leftovers were delicious but the creaminess never matched the same bliss as when the sauce came out of the pan. Chef Vikram Vij told me that flavours will intensify over time, too.

Come over here to see the full instructions to make this Saag Paneer and feel like an Indian figure-skating sensation.

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Baby Potatoes with Normandy Butter and Roquefort …at midnight?

Roquefort and Fingerling Potatoes

It midnight–past midnight.  And I was checking email when I found this picture on my desk top.  It’s from a Lazy Gourmet piece I did a few weeks ago for the Globe.  OK, I may not make at 1 am in the morning but I am seriously thinking I might make it tomorrow night for some girlfriends coming over.   YUM.

Ingredients

Red fingerling potatoes (four to five per person)

Normandy butter (about a teaspoon, melted, per serving)

Fleur de Sel

Roquefort (about 100 g, crumbled)

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Method

Try to find red-skinned fingerling potatoes – they add a burst of colour to the plate. Allow for four to five whole fingerlings per person and drop them into a pot of salted cold water, then bring to a simmer. Cook until fork tender and drain. Cut in half lengthwise and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with enough melted Normandy butter to flavour each wedge (about a teaspoon per serving) and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Crumble room temperature Roquefort over the dish (about 100g for four people, adjust to your own cheesy taste). Serve immediately.

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When’s the last time you made yourself a Muffuletta Sandwich?

I could worship at this altar.

I could worship at this altar.

Thinking about lunch?  Always–if you’re like me.  This week for the Globe’s weekly Lunch-wich I made a Muffuletta.  Hadn’t had one in ages, but I could barely stop myself from digging in pronto–only the knowledge  that my job was to photograph (not devour)  this guy kept me in check.

I’m not a big fan of the cold-cut loaded submarine, but somehow this combo of capicola, mortadella, ham and salami plus swiss and provolone cheese seems ingenious.  And then you add the savoury, finger-licking olive salad on top (and underneathof course).  I used foccacia but traditionally this New Orleans original is made from a Sicilian loaf, also called Muffuletta bread.  Check out the official Muffuletta website.  COOL.  (someone actually has a job called Muffoletta Research Specialist, really, go look.)  And yes, there are variations on the spelling.

So I’ll just stick with one simple word:  heaven.

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Hot and Sour Soup: The cure for what ails you (like that dumb flu)

MMMM MMMM, hot, sour and just right.

MMMM MMMM, Hot, Sour and just right.

It finally hit me.  The flu–yes that one.  Where you think you might be able to get out of bed while lying very still (in bed) but then put two feet on the floor, feel dizzy and realize, “nope, not getting out”.  I drank a lot of tea with lemon and nibbled buttered toast and then pulled out the big guns.  Hot and Sour Soup.  A step beyond comfy chicken soup, like the Buckley’s of cough syrup–except it tastes great.  And it works.

PIC 4 broth hot and sour

Broth for the Hot and Sour Soup–involves chicken stock, white wine vinegar and cayenne

I’d discovered the recipe in October issue of Saveur, “150 Classic Recipes” which I have a subscription for on my iPad.  The whole issue is amazing and inspiring and mouth-watering but I had never made Hot and Sour Soup and what a great skill to have I though!  The recipe is from the December 2005 issue and the little blurb I missed the first time around explained that, “Other cultures soothe their sick with bland milk toast and chicken broth but the Chinese kick their sick in the pants.  This soup doesn’t just warm you, it burns through you and brings you back to life.”- Mei Chin

Back to Life is just what this self-diagnosing patient needed.

PIC 3 marinating pork

So I began with marinating the pork.  Cut 4 oz pork tenderloin in 1/4″ cubes and toss with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp brandy and 1 tsp corn starch. I didn’t have brandy so used Madeira.  Let it sit 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile make the broth-in a large pot whisk together 8 cups chicken stock, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp corn starch, 1 tsp ground white pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp cayenne.  (I used a pinch of red pepper flakes).  Bring that to a boil over medium-high and add the pork.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the soup thickens–about 30 minutes.  Give it an occasional stir.

PIC 5 Hot and sour soup tofu

Meanwhile you can cut 12 oz of firm tofu (drain and press lightly) into 1/4″ cubes.  Do the same with a potato to get about 1/4 cup cubed.

Pic 6 Hot and sour soup shiitakes

Take 6 shiitake mushrooms and cut them into thin strips.

Now add your tofu, potato and mushrooms to the pot once the soup is thickened and cook until the potatoes are tender.

PIC 7 egg

Now for the best part of the job!  Lightly beat 1 egg in a bowl and drizzle it into the simmering soup in a thin steady stream–egg strands will start to float to the surface and you will feel that YES, you see it all coming together.  Now stir in 1 tsp toasted sesame oil.

**I add about a teaspoon of Mirin at the very end, just rounds out the flavour for me with a hint of sweetness.

PIC 2 FInal Hot and Sour Soup

Ladle into a bowl and garnish with cilantro.  Eat in bed for lunch and again for dinner.  And of course, you should not be making this yourself, you are far too weak.  Your spouse, partner, mailman or cat is more than capable of following these simple directions.

For the recipe on-line at Saveur click on HOT AND SOUR SOUP RECIPE.

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Elegant and scrumptious- Brown Sugar Shortbread (what else r u doing Boxing Day?)

Shortbread Brown Sugar

In case you ran out of Christmas cookies before Christmas (what?  it was only me?) you will have a perfect reason for making more.  I took the opportunity to make–for the first time– a family recipe passed on to me by my friend Marilyn.  Her short bread (and her mincemeat tarts) are now almost as highly anticipated as my own mom’s cookies (almost! I said almost mam!)

Shortbread Final 2

Marilyn’s daughter Emma, also a good friend has posted the recipe on her very fun blog Strolling the City in Heels, where you can learn a little more about their family tradition.  I am posting the step-by-step picture version for my friends who say they “don’t bake”  to give them reason to take a crack at bringing joy to their cookie jar. (Get a cookie jar people).  And BTW while on Emma’s blog, also check out Marilyn’s Tourtiere recipe.

butter shortbread

You only need three ingredients starting with 1 pd salted butter at room temperature.  (I only had unsalted butter so added 1/4 tsp salt per stick of butter for a total of 1 teaspoon salt)

brown sugar

Brown sugar, packed 3/4 cup.

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And then the recipe says, “4 heaping cups flour”.  Which makes perfect sense to anyone who has made the recipe a million times.  But I wasn’t sure if it meant scoop the flour (which packs it more) or fill the cup with a spoon.  So I filled the cup with a scoop and let it heap a bit.

Then I weighed the flour for future reference.  (I used 650g of all-purpose flour for anyone who has a scale and is anal like me.)

cream sugar

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar.

Shortbread dough

Step 2: Add the flour and combine well. I started with a wooden spoon but finished (as the recipe says) with my hands.  Be really careful to get all the flour integrated well (really get your hands in there!) with the butter/sugar so there are not white streaks in the dough–or (as happened to me) when you roll it out parts of the dough will not stick together.

rolled dough

Step 3: The recipe then says you pat the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Use the base of your hand to flatten for a smooth surface (if you use your finger tips the dough will have many indents).  I finished off with a quick pass with the rolling-pin  (cheater–I know!) and rolled in a couple batches.

Also–my dough was about 3/4 thick which in my mind’s memory is the thickness of Marilyn’s cookies.

Shortbread cookie cutters

Step 4: Now  have a grand old-time cutting out your cookies.   All my cookie cutters stuck to Marilyn’s original size (or slightly under) about 2-3 inches.

uncooked short bread

Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Prick the uncooked shapes with a fork and sprinkle with white or coloured sugar.

Cooling shortbread

Step 5: Preheat the oven to 300.

Bake for 20 minutes or til golden (says the recipe).  But mine baked for 40 minutes until they were golden-which seems strange–maybe just my oven?  But they turned out delicious and not burnt at all.  So, check them at 20 minutes and add 5 minutes at a time.

COOL COMPLETELY and devour.

Short bread on plate

The Original Recipe (my notes are above)

NANA’S SHORTBREAD

4 heaping cups all purpose flour

1 pound salted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Instructions

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add flour, mixing in thoroughly with your hands.

Pat dough out to about 1/2” thick. Cut cookies with cutters. Prick each cookie with a fork and dust with coloured sugar.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool thoroughly on racks

PS Just imagine the cookie cutter potential—hearts for Valentines Day, Beer mugs for St. Patricks Day, Dollar Signs for when the US falls off the Fiscal Cliff…..

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Fastest Lunch in the world for Christmas Eve Day: Vacherin Mont d’Or

The wonderful Vacherin Mont D'Or

The wonderful Vacherin Mont D’Or

Good Morning everyone!  Instead of running out to the closest mall–run to the closest cheese store and pick up a Vacherin Mont d’Or and a baguette.

Featured today for as my Monday “Lunch” piece in the Globe, you won’t find a faster or more satisfying meal.

Happy Holidays!

Sue

PS I know Whole Foods and Cheese Boutique has them, leave a comment if you’ve seen them anywhere else and we can get everyone hooked up!

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Easiest Bestest Shortbread–it’s a breeze. A melt-in-your-mouth breeze.

Shortbread threesome

Shortbread.  Who doesn’t love it?  And now you can make it in no time at all–the most challenging part will be holding the electric beaters.  Honest.   Holiday baking does not have to be hard.

Single shortbread

I spent a day baking with my friend Lianne and we made these at about 9:30 pm–after a long day of sparkles and sugar cookie mayhem with cookie meister Felix.  We almost decided it was just too late–and then suddenly they were done.  And being eaten at a pace where our metabolism didn’t stand a chance.

So thank you Ruth Krohnert, here is the recipe for “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread.

Shortbread recipe

Only one additional tip–depending on your oven you might want to check these at about 17-18 minutes.  You want them to remain pale white.

And you can make much cooler sprinkle colours (Martha Stewart cool)  than the store-bought–just follow Ruth’s instructions.

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Now, I’m not saying they are the most beautiful shortbread ever, I am sayin’ they’re bloody delicious.

So now that you have that all set, look at some of our sugar cookies.  Here is Felix making his masterpiece:

Felix works on cookie

And ok, I made these and do think they are kind of cute (yes, 2 out of the 30 I decorated made it to CUTE).

Sugar Cookie Santa and reindeer

Have a great weekend and I have two great posts coming up from Kelsie Parsons…..stay tuned.

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The words “Cookie Exchange” need not cause a panic attack

PIC 2 Final Squares 2

It’s that time of year!  Expect an email with subject: Cookie Exchange! to pop-up in the INBOX.  Do not leap back in fear as one does from email chain letters that promise certain death (sent from you favourite Aunt).  Instead be the first to say YES, I will do it.  Cookie exchanges are actually a lot of fun and if you make these simple 7-Layer squares (errr..cookies) your end of the deal will be sealed and sliced in no time.  No flour involved.

Add coconut

If you can layer things like shredded coconut  (notice a child doing it)..

chocolate chips..

or chocolate chips….

and drizzle with condensed milk (you may need to know how to open a can at this point)

You can end up with this….

Just out of the oven!

All these pics are pulled from more specific directions on my Family Fun blog for foodnetwork.ca.  Just click HERE to go there for the recipe.  If you have a non stick pan that is the best way to go, but I just used a ceramic casserole dish.

PIC 1 Final Squares 1

And I’d love to hear if there are any classic 7 layer (or 5 layer or 9 layer) cookies in your holiday repertoire!

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