Category Archives: All Recipes

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.

Screen Shot 2012-12-25 at 12.24.26 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 12.49.01 PM

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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Delicious Roasted Pumpking Seeds (that I was too lazy to make myself)

All these years I passed up on this???

Every year we carve multiple pumpkins and every year I think, “I should really roast the seeds”.  But that is a fleeting thought as I look at the goo-covered, stringy harvest.  And into the green bin it goes.  But not this year!  This year there was Donna.

Pumpkin Carving Contest chez nous

We held a pumpkin carving contest for Felix’s 4th birthday and had a few friends over.  And we also had the innards of 10 pumpkins.  Donna suggested we roast them and give them away as loot bags.  She even offered to come over early to scoop them out and do all the dirty work.  An offer even a lazy scooper like me could not refuse.

See what you’re pulling the seeds out of?  Though I admit that in a strange way once you sink your hands into the goop it feels kind of nice.

The harvest

Once Donna had pulled them out of the pumpkin she rinsed them and cleaned them in a strainer and got off all the stringy bits.  This is the hard work part.

Boiling the pumpkin seeds

Once clean the seeds were boiled in a large pot for 10-15 minutes in well-salted water.  This helps ensure a crunchier seed once roasted.

We then spread the seeds onto a couple baking trays and dried them with some paper towels.  Not bone-dry but you want them dry enough that olive oil will stick to them.

We then put the seeds back into a bowl and tossed them with 1 teaspoon olive oil for 1 cups seeds ( approx.) Since we had so many seeds we flavoured them.

Donna came with some Kernel shakers and we did various batches; a Kosher salt batch, dill, cheddar cheese and all-dressed.   We sprinkled on the topping generously (you can also use paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper or curry powder plus salt).

We  then we lay them on clean parchment and roasted them at 375°F for about 30-40 minutes (less if you have fewer seeds, you want them golden and crispy).  We tossed every 10 minutes or so.  Be vigilant as they can burn easily.  You can turn the over to °350 if you feel you may be distracted (aka Donna is not doing your work).

While we waited there were some antics like this:

Dancing Dollar Store Monster

And of course, this:

Classic Halloween Alien

The seeds came out in batches and we let them cool…

Pumpkin Seeds sorted for loot bags

And I am now munching away on the wonderful bounty of crunchy, flavourful snacks and  I swear to Never, Ever, Ever (on Taylor Swift’s life) throw out Pumpkin Seeds again!

Yes, I always have fall foliage on my cutting board.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!

PS  If you have any opinions of boiling vs not boiling and the difference it does or does not make please let me know!  And see the comments for a non-boiling recipe from Lisa that she used and it worked great.

 

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