Wednesday, September 30, 2009

22nd Birthday!

Here's to another year filled with lots of love, laughter, happiness...oh and, delicious food!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natures Pharmacy

Last week my friend Rommi emailed me a really interesting piece about the connection between natural foods and the human body.  I was blown away by it and had to share it with you all!  

It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish, all before making a human.  He made and provided what we'd need before we were born.  God left us a great clue as to what foods help which part of our body.  

Welcome to Natures Pharmacy!
A sliced carrot looks like the human eye.  The pupil, iris, and radiating lines look just like the human eye.  And YES science how shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A tomato has four chambers and is red.  The human heart has four chambers and is red.  Research shows that tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that mimics the shape of the human heart.  Each grape looks like a blood cell, and research today shows that grapes also have profound heart and blood vitalizing effects.
A walnut looks like a tiny brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums, and lower cerebellums.  Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neocortex.  We now know walnuts help develop more than three dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, bok choy, and rhubarb look just like bones.  These foods specifically target bone strength.  Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium.  If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak.  These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Avocados, eggplant, and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female, they also looks just like these organs.  Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers.  And how profound is this?  It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit.  There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them). 
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow, just like male testicles.  Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm, they also help to overcome male sterility.
Sweet potatoes look just like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics
Onions look like the body's cells.  Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells.  They even produce tears, which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.  A working companion, garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

If you know the source of this email, please let me know so I can site it. Thanks!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Plum Kuchen

Plum Cake, or Pflaume Kuchen, is a traditional German cake that is often a staple in German homes.  It is the type of cake that is not necessarily prepared for celebratory occasions, but for the average day to have on hand in case company or family drops by.  I grew up eating Plum Kuchen when my Oma would babysit me during our daily "Coffee Time," (which I'm still convinced is the reason for my petit height).  Coffee Time for my Oma and I always meant a type of Kuchen (often plum, but at times was substituted with apricots or other stone fruit), a mug of extra-strong coffee, and Young and the Restless (which we fondly called Young and the Useless).  Originally I loved Coffee Time because it meant I could drink the beverage that was forbidden for me to have by my parents, as well as devour lots of cake.  But Coffee Time quickly turned into an amazing bonding time for the two of us.  It was through daily Coffee Time that my Oma and I have become so close and I still look back at those times in my life with great fondness and love.

This week my Oma brought us over a big bag of fresh prune plums, and I promised her that I would try my hand at my very own Plum Kuchen.  You can imagine my hesitance at making the dish given it's strong presence in our family, and how tasty Oma's Plum Kuchen is, but that didn't stop me.  I found a Plum Kuchen recipe from Epicurious that grabbed my attention and altered the recipe slightly to create a cake that ended up tasting fairly different from my Oma's but was still just as delicious!  The addition of almond extract added another dimension of flavour to the cake, making mine quite different from Oma's.  I also chose to make mine in a round spring form pan, giving the batter less surface area, and therefore resulting in a thicker cake.  Because the cake is quite dense, some may prefer the cake to be thinner, in which case, I would suggest baking it in a larger pan.  Have a little taste of Germany and bake up up a Plum Kuchen for your next Coffee Time!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1  tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature 
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
8 prune plums (or 5 large plums), pitted and quartered

Streusel Topping
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp cold butter

1.  Preheat the oven to 350º.  Butter a 9 inch round pan, or a 13 x9 inch square pan (depending on your preference for thickness of the cake).

2.  Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter together with the sugar.  Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, as well as the vanilla and almond extract.  

4.  Beat in the already combined reserved dry ingredients in 2 additions with the sour cream.  Spread batter evenly in pan.

5.  Arrange the plum sliced on their sides in concentric circles atop batter.

Streusel Topping
6.  Mix the ingredients for the streusel topping together using a fork.  Sprinkle evenly over batter.

7.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

8.  Serve with coffee!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pear and Cheese Tart

My all-time favourite dessert is my mums Apple Cheese Tort, a treat I ask her to make for me every year on my birthday (a week today!!).  The dessert is the perfect balance of textures and flavours, and is unlike any other dessert I have had.  A few days ago I was looking up pear recipes when I came across a recipe for Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tort from Kraft Foods.  I read the recipe and immediately copied it into my bookmarked pages as it is just like my mums Apple Cheese Tort, but with pears instead of apples!  Clearly I had to make it!  I adjusted the recipe slightly, choosing to make it with fresh bakers cheese instead of cream cheese, and use puff pastry for the crust, to make the tart more of a large danish-type dessert.  The final product turned out great!  The bakers cheese had just the right texture to give the tart the danish feel I was hoping for, and the puff pastry made it nice and light (allowing me to go back for seconds!).  This is a recipe that is sure to become one of your favourites as well!
Tip: If you are unable to find bakers cheese, you may substitute with cream cheese, but omit the 4 tbsp butter or margarine. 

1 cup bakers cheese
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1/3 + 1/3 cup cup sugar (separated)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 fresh pears, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon (separated)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1.  In a medium bowl, beat bakers cheese with butter or margarine and 1/3 cup sugar until well blended.

2.  Add the egg, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon and mix well.  Set aside

3.  In a medium bowl, gently stir the pears with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.

4.  Unroll the puff pastry dough onto a large cookie sheet and slightly stretch.

5.  Spread the cheese mixture evenly over pastry leaving about a 1 inch border around the patry.

6.  Layer the pear sliced on top, with the sliced facing the same direction.  

7.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and add a dusting of cinnamon (optional).

8.  Bake at 375º for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is set and almonds and pastry are golden. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baked Tilapia with Spicy Mango Salsa

The summer is nearing an end (the first day of fall is today at 5:18 PM!), and where most people have begun to bring out their cozy sweaters and cute Fall loafers, I am currently wearing shorts and tomorrow I will wear sandals! Yup, I'm in denial! I don't want to believe that summer will come to an end and it is evident not only in my dress, but in my cooking as well. This lead me to create this tropical themed meal, of light and flaky tilapia, with a bright, juicy, and spicy mango salsa to accompany it. Just eating this meal made me feel like I was being transported to a beach, eating dinner under a beautiful sunset!

I used my basic tilapia marinade, altering it slightly to mimic the flavours of the salsa. The Mango Salsa recipe is an adaptation of a mango salsa recipe from The Joy of Cooking (my new favourite cookbook!!). The salsa is delicious combining the sweet flavour of the mango, with spicy jalapenos, and zesty shallots, making this dish stand out as something extra special! I paired the tilapia and salsa with steamed asparagus and a simple whole wheat couscous with dried cranberries to balance out the plate. This meal is truly a show stopper, perfect for your next dinner party!
Tip: Layer eat part of the meal on top of each other to create a beautiful presentation. Begin with the couscous, placing the tilapia on top allowing the couscous to peak out, then top with salsa and asparagus. Garnish with slices of fresh lime and parsley.
Tip: I always keep jarred jalapeno peppers in my fridge. They are great to have on hand to throw into recipes, and they keep for a long time. You may use fresh or jarred jalapeno peppers in this recipe.

Spicy Mango Salsa
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted,
1 small (or 1/2 a large) red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove (minced or pureed)
2 tbsp orange juice
about 2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Lime Balsamic Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1/2 lime (including zest)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Spicy Mango Salsa
1. Cut the mango and red bell pepper into a medium size dice. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the minced shallot, lime juice, garlic, and orange juice. Set aside

3. In a large bowl, combine the mango, red pepper, parsley, and jalapeno. Pour the reserved juice, garlic, and shallot mixture on top and careful mix to combine.

4. Season with salt and pepper and place in fridge to chill while preparing tilapia.

Lime Balsamic Tilapia
1. Place parsley, lime zest, and garlic into a jar. Squeeze in lime juice

2. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Tightly close jar with lid and shake well.

3. Salt and pepper both sides of the tilapia fillets and, in a shallow dish, pour the marinade over top. Marinate for 20-30 minutes.

4. Bake tilapia at 350º for 25-30 minutes. Serve with spicy mango salsa on top, pouring the juices from the salsa over the tilapia.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

iYellow Wine School

It's no secret that I am a big supporter of the iYellow Wine Club, so when I heard that they were starting their very own iYellow Wine School, I couldn't wait to sit in on a class.  This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to represent iYellow as one of the hosts for their iYellow Wine School Cabernet: King of Reds class.  I have to admit, I was at first quite puzzled at why I had been asked to volunteer for the day.  Why would they want someone like me, with so little knowledge of wine?  Despite my confusion, I happily agreed, figuring that, nonetheless, it would be a great learning experience for me.  

By the end of the class, it became apparent why having me volunteer for the day was a good fit.  Just like everyone in the class, I still have a lot to learn.  Although there was much diversity amongst the class in terms of wine knowledge and experience,  I was able to provide the class with the perspective of someone who is just like many of them.  It was not only evident that the students in the class were expanding their wine knowledge and gaining confidence, but myself as well!  I started off the day not even holding a wine glass properly (be sure to hold the stem, not the bulb!), and left with a handful of notes, and a mind buzzing with excitement at having learned so much about wine, and in particular Cabernet! 

Taking on the perspective of someone who is an expert in the field of wine, was the iYellow Wine School teacher and award-winning sommelier Taylor Thompson.  Taylor is currently the sommelier for Toronto's premier wine destination, Reds Wine Bar, as well as overseeing the wine lists at Signature Restaurants Far Niente and Four.  Taylor paired his expansive wine knowledge with a healthy dose of charm and humor to win over the class and keep them coming back for more!  It is as clear as a crystal wine glass that Taylor is extremely passionate about wine, and is eager to share everything he has learned to get people just as enthusiastic as he is.  

During the class, students are presented with five different wines under the grape varietal theme of the day.  The five different wines allow the students to understand all there is to know about that particular varietal, covering everything from the growing conditions, temperature, flavours, and aging process.  The class is structured using iYellow's 5 Easy Steps to Tasting Wine:
  1. Sight
  2. Swirl
  3. Smell
  4. Sip
  5. Savour
Through the iYellow steps and the comparisons between the five wines, students are able to become mini-experts on the varietal of the day, giving them the confidence to take their wine experience even further.  

Not only was the class beneficial in terms of acquiring wine knowledge, it was also a fabulous social environment!  What better way to meet new friends than attending a light and fun class amongst like-minded and interesting people!  

Although I walked into the class self-conscious about my lack of wine expertise, I left feeling like a bit of an expert myself, eager to  sign up for more classes!  The iYellow Wine School is the place to be for any wine lover who is looking to build their wine confidence!  Enroll with the iYellow Wine School today!

Click here for more iYellow Wine School photos!
Photo by Wendy Marchioni.

Sauteed Pear Crepes

I'm the official crepe lady in the house, (although my sister made them for the first time this week and did an great job!) so when I still had lots of pears from my Oma to use up, I decided to prepare Sauteed Pear Crepes.  In the past when I have made crepes, I usually just lay out a bunch of different fruits and spreads for people to prepare their crepes on their own.  This time, I wanted to take my crepe making skills one step further and make the filling myself as well as the actual crepes.  Sauteed pears are incredibly simple to make, and when they are wrapped in a light and elegant crepe, they can be incredibly beautiful as well!  The pears have become tender, but still have a bit of a bite, making them a substantial filling.  The butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon sauce adds just the right amount of sweetness and moisture to have you begging for more!
Tip:  Don't have time to make crepes?  Serve the sauteed pears over vanilla ice cream for a tasty treat!

Sauteed Pears
4 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
about 2 1/2 tbsp butter
about 2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
about 1 tsp cinnamon
dusting of icing sugar (optional)

Crepe Batter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar 

1.  Whisk or process (using a food processor) all ingredients until blended.  

2.  Refrigerate for 1 hour if using all-purpose flour. 

3.  In a lightly greased crepe pan or frying pan, fry crepes approximately 60 seconds on one side or until edges are brown, and approximately 30 seconds on the other side.

4.  Keep cooked crepes in a warm oven or toaster oven while frying other crepes to keep them warm.  

Sauteed Pears
1.  On medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter.

2.  Once butter has melted, add the pear slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender.

3.  Add the Brown sugar and cook, stirring, for another minute.  

4.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serve inside of crepes, sprinkled with icing sugar and more cinnamon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

French Potato Salad with Green Beans

I think I find a new potato salad recipe everyday, but two that stood out for me this summer were potato salad recipes with green beans, and classic french potato salad recipes. I decided to combine the two recipes to make a French Potato Salad with Green Beans. This salad is bursting with flavours and textures! The vinaigrette is tangy, and because there is no dairy or mayonnaise, it is great for a picnic or packed lunch. The tender potatoes go great with the sweet and zesty shallots and crispy green beans, with hints of saltiness from the capers that are scattered throughout the dish.
Tip: If you don't have shallots on hand, you may use fresh chives or very finely minced red onion.

1.5 Il. mini red potatoes
1/2 pound green beans
about 5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp grainy mustard
about 5 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season

1. Place potatoes in water and allow to boil. Once water has boiled, reduce heat to low and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until tender when inserted with a fork. In the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, add the green beans. Remove potatoes and beans, let sit for about 5 minutes, and cut into quarters.

2. In a bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, shallot, parsley, capers, and grainy mustard.

3. While continuing to whisk, slowly add in the olive oil in a small stream.

4. Pour over the potatoes and green beans and season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pear Muffins with Streusel Topping

Many of my food memories have to do with family, and most of my family food memories have to do with my Oma (grandmother in German).  There is no doubt that the woman takes the title of Queen when it comes to the kitchen.  In the house that my mother grew up in and, quite frankly, I grew up quite a lot in as well, they had a big beautiful pear tree in the backyard.  Ill be honest, I didn't exactly appreciate that pear tree then.  The joy that I got out of the tree wasn't in the realm of food or any culinary adventures.  There was a lot more pear throwing fights, tree climbing, and pear "perfume" making (don't even ask!).  Now that I'm older, my appreciation for homegrown food has grown immensely, and I am now able to find the joy of a pear tree that doesn't include cuts and bruises.  My Oma is now living in a new home that we have all filled with new memories, and even a new pear tree!  So when my Oma brought me a big bag of freshly picked pears on the weekend, I began my hunt for a great pear recipe.  

I have been visiting the Rouxbe Cooking School website daily for the past while, yet I have not tried any of their recipes yet.  So a bag of fresh pears felt like the proper occasion to do so.  Here I have made Rouxbe's Pear Muffins with Streusel Topping.  The muffins are moist and light, with juicy chunks of pear throughout, complemented by sweet cinnamon.  The streusel topping makes these muffins extra tasty and gives them the versatility to be served as both breakfast and dessert items.  Enroll with Rouxbe to gain access to view the amazing video recipe tutorial. 

2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
Streusel Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cold butter
1 to 1 1/2 fresh pears

1.  Preheat oven to 400º. 

2.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended.  Whisk in the sour cream and oil until smooth and set aside.

3.  Sift all of the dry muffin ingredients into a large bowl.

4.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the streusel topping ingredients and combine with a pastry knife or fork.  Combine until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

5.  Peel, core, and cut 1 to 1 1/2 pears into about 1/2 inch dice.  

6.  Pour the wet muffin ingredients into the dry and gently stir just until almost combined.  Gently fold in the cut pears.

7.  Scoop the batter into a lined or greased muffin tin and top each evenly with streusel topping.

8.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  

Friday, September 11, 2009

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I have been wanting to make a Brown Butter Sage Sauce for quite some time now. Every time I have seen the sauce made, I find myself taken by the simplicity and elegance of it. A Brown Butter Sage sauce has the ability to highlight the ingredients inside of stuffed pasta (what a Brown Butter Sage Sauce is generally paired with), without weighing the dish down, while still adding a silky rich flavour. Presidents Choice has some amazing fresh stuffed pastas, so when I discovered 2 packages of their Veneto Pumpkin Triangoli in my fridge, I set out to make my first Brown Butter Sage sauce to accompany it!

As you can see from the above picture, it didn't go off quite as successfully as I had hoped. One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a Brown Butter Sauce, is burning the butter! It is very evident from the above picture that I did just that. I think I got the idea in my head that it just wasn't brown enough, and kept cooking it longer, which resulted in my sage leaves frying to a crisp, and my sauce full off dark burnt bits. You may be wondering why I still posted a failed recipe. Well, I don't consider this a fail! I was able to rescue my dish in the flavour department! I spooned off as much dark burnt bits from the top of my sauce as possible. Removed the crispy sage leaves, and replaced them with fresh ones. And I certainly did not mention to my family that anything had gone wrong upon serving it to them. They had no idea that this was not the proper way to prepare the sauce and fell in love with it! After I had removed most of the burnt bits, you could no longer taste anything but the silky brown butter! So no, I certainly do not consider this a fail. Just like many of you, I am still learning in the kitchen, and I definitely do mess up every now and then. What's important is to remain calm, attempt to fix any imperfections and issues, and learn for next time!
Tip: Try making this sauce with pan cooked fish. Simply cook your fish as you normally would in the pan. Remove the fish, and continue preparing the sauce. Serve the sauce on top of the fish.

6 tbsp butter
8 fresh sage leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to season

1. In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter and drop in 4 sage leaves. Shake or stir as butter begins to cook and foam.

2. As soon as the butter begins to smell nutty and gets some colour, squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Remove from heat and pour over pasta with remaining fresh sage leaves. If the cooked sage leaves have become too crispy, you may remove them.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School (for the very last time!!)

It's my final year in University, and although I'm only a part-time student this year, it means less time for cooking, baking, and blogging.  But do not fret, back to school doesn't mean all negativity.  My favourite website Rouxbe Cooking School has an incredible Back to School offer on for only another 48 hours!!  If you purchase an annual membership with Rouxbe within the next 48 hours, you will automatically be upgraded to a Lifetime Membership! I know you may be thinking "do I really need a lifetime membership to this website?" Let me tell you, Rouxbe is totally unique to anything else that is out there.  Their instructions, tutorials, quizzes, and recipes are incomparable to any other food website.  So what are you waiting for?!  Head over to Rouxbe and get cooking! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Roasted and Glazed Heirloom Carrots

I have officially fallen in love with heirloom carrots! You cannot even compare the flavour, colour, and shapes to that of regular supermarket carrots. I got inspired to take advantage of the beautiful carrots in their raw state by making a Green Goddess Dip to accompany them, but I also wanted to try preparing them a different way to experience the flavours and colours once cooked. This is when I came across Curtis Stones recipe for Honey Glazed Carrots that he made on his show Take Home Chef (which, by the way, is such a cute show! How I wish he would show up in my grocery store and come home with me!). This recipe intensifies and brings out the natural flavours of the beautiful heirloom carrots, making it exactly what I was looking for! Although Curtis Stones recipe calls for peeling, trimming, and cutting the carrots, I wanted to keep the carrots in their natural state, so I merely scrubbed the carrots really well (which is generally how you prep heirloom carrots) and continued with the directions.
Note: Don't have heirloom carrots? This recipe would work fine with regular carrots as well.
Tip: Make this in the toaster oven to save on energy!

3 tbsp butter, melted
2 bunches heirloom carrots, scrubbed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400º. In a medium roasting pan, toss the carrots with butter, shallots, and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Place pan in oven and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

3. Remove from oven and drizzle over honey. Toss to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Marinated Grilled Onions

I've been getting a little tired of some of my standby side dish recipes (as you may have noticed with my Rosemary Fries recipe), so when it came to cooking onions to serve with a steak dinner, I was on the hunt for a new way to prepare them, rather than simply cooking them in a pan. I decided to take a cue from Bobby Flay and grill them up along with the steak. Merely grilling the onions will give them a great charred flavour, but I wanted to take it up a notch. That's when I came across this recipe for Grilled Vidalia Onions with an Italian dressing marinade from It is so simple, yet it successfully gives your onions that extra bit of flavour to make your entire meal come together as something extra special. You may decide to use sweet Vidalia onions, but you could also make this with yellow or red onions, or even scallions.

1 onion (any type), peeled and sliced into rings
Italian salad dressing (enough to coat onion rings)
salt and pepper

1. In a shallow dish, lay out onion rings and coat with Italian salad dressing. Let marinate for 1 hour.

2. Cook on grill at low heat until it reaches desired tenderness and colour. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a side dish or on top of a steak or burger.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rosemary Fries

French fries have become a bit of a staple in my house. Ever since we bought our own deep fryer years ago, we have been frying up all sorts of different fries from hand-cut, matchstick, curly, sweet potato, the list goes on! Although I didn't take part in the preparation and cooking of the fries originally, it has now become a bit of a family production line where my mum cuts the fries, my dad fries them up, and I dress them and prepare a dip. This time, I wanted to utilize my fresh herbs in flavouring the fries, while not overpowering the crispy golden potatoes.

Potatoes (depends on how much fries you are preparing)
oil for frying
sea salt or kosher salt
rosemary, finely chopped

1. Cut the fries into whatever shape or size you like.

2. Soak the cut potatoes in cold water for at least 15 minutes to remove excess starch and pat dry after soaking.

3. In a frying pan or deep fryer, heat the oil to 325º and fry the potatoes in small batches for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from oil and let sit on paper towels while frying other batches.

4. Reheat the oil to 375º and refry the already cooked fries in batches, until golden, about another 4-6 minutes.

5. Place cooked fries in a basket lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and rosemary.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Banana Nutella Wedges

Alright, the word is out. I am officially obsessed with Nutella!  There is simply no denying it!  I'm sorry to those of you out there who don't like Nutella, but let's be honest, you've gotta be crazy if you don't like this incredible chocolate hazelnut spread.  I love it so much, I have literally had dreams about it.  It was a Nutella dream that lead me to create this killer dish.  Recently I had a lovely Nutella dream about sun bathing in a Nutella-filled lazy river.  The next morning, I couldn't imagine eating anything other than Nutella!  If you know me at all, you know I'm not the type of gal to just spread some Nutella on some bread and call it a day. That's simply not how this redhead works!  So I created Banana Nutella Wedges, the perfect sweet treat to start your morning, or even end an evening.  The warm and soft bananas mesh together with the creamy Nutella and crunchy coconut and hazelnuts, and are sandwiched inside crispy cinnamon-sugar tortillas, making this a celebration of sweet flavours and multiple textures.  

2 flour tortillas
about 5 tbsp Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1 banana, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, chopped

1.  Spread a layer of Nutella on one of the totillas.

2.  Top the Nutella with a layer of sliced bananas

3.  Sprinkle the bananas and Nutella with the shredded coconut and hazelnuts.

4.  Layer the naked tortilla on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

5.  Bake in oven or toaster oven at 350º for about 3 minutes or until tortilla turns golden and slightly crisp.  Remove from oven, and cut into quarters.