Baba Ganoush

If you have never had it or you are wondering what Baba Ganoush is, it is really not as strange as it sounds.



Baba Ganoush is made from smoky roasted eggplant, Tahini (Sesame paste) lemon juice, garlic and a few herbs and spices. It is creamy and has a subtle smoky flavour that is greatly paired with crisp tortilla chips straight out of the oven or next to fresh-cut veggies. Though the traditional spread is not made with chickpeas, I add them in to add a bit of bulk and make it more of a complete meal, yet I don’t add enough to change the taste. So maybe this is more a Baba Ganoush style humus if you were really getting technical.

It had been quite a while since I had made it and I kept on forgetting until I found some eggplants in the discount section at the grocery store. A little bruised but perfect for roasting. Wilhelmina fell in love with it and ate it with tortilla chips the night I made it and then ate more for various snacks and even breakfast in the days after with carrot sticks and sliced red peppers. I bought more eggplants this weekend because she was asking for more once it was gone.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher or coarse Sea Salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • a half bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 can of Chickpeas (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika (or)
    • a few dashes of liquid smoke*

* The smoked paprika or the liquid smoke add an amazing depth to the Baba Ganoush. You don’t want to overdo either though, especially the liquid smoke, so use sparingly and adjust at the end as needed.

 

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Prick each eggplant a few times, then broil in the oven until the skin blackens turning over a few times. Keep a close eye on them to not overdo it.
  • Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft. You will able to prick them easily without resistance.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Place the pulp in the blender or food processor with the other ingredients and process until smooth.
  • Taste, and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of chile powder or smoked paprika

For the Chips:

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Combine a tsp of garlic powder, a tsp of chile powder, 1/4 tsp cumin and  1/2 tsp of salt to a few tbsp of olive oil.
  • Cut some tortillas into wedges and place on a baking sheet.
  • Brush the wedges with the seasoned oil and bake a few min until crisp. They will cook fast so keep an eye on them and take them out when golden.

By |November 19th, 2012|Main Dishes, NaBloPoMo, Recipes|Comments Off on Baba Ganoush|

Simple Scones

There are two things that I have had trouble making in the past. One, is pie dough. The other is scones. I think it has to do with getting the butter distributed evenly to provide that flaky texture that both of those possess.  Or maybe because they are two recipes that you really need to follow the instructions and have less give. (I am much more a cook then a baker!) I think I have solved my problem though. 

First, if you are doing it by hand, grating the frozen butter into the flour is a great way to get those pea size pieces without fighting with the dough and over-kneading it. When you have pieces of butter left in the dough they will melt and that is what will produce the flaky texture. Another important thing seems to the unsalted butter. I almost never buy unsalted and for most things it really doesn’t make a difference, but for scones, it seems to make a world of difference.

Scones are a current favourite in our home at the moment. Not only can I make them now with amazing results but they are so easy and quick to do.

I do use my food processor, because it makes it easy without any mess and by the time my oven is preheated,  they are ready to put in.

The following is the base of the scone, and to that you can add anything you want. The trick however, is that whatever you add should not be adding moisture or dryness to not upset the balance between the flour/milk/butter ratio. You also don’t want to add anything warm that would melt the butter. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, a quick google search will give you the amounts in cups, but using the scale, is in my opinion, the best way to get the right measurement in these types of recipes.

Simple Scone Base (make 6 scones but I usually double it)

  • 200g flour, plus more for handling the dough
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 tbsp sugar (for sweet scones)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 60g cold or frozen butter
  • 140-150g milk (I use almond or soy)

now to this you can add you choice of ingredients to make the flavours of your choice.

For a simple cheese scone that is great for lunch, supper or with a savoury breakfast simply:

  • omit the sugar in the base recipe or add only a small amount to add a bit of sweetness
  • add 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar
savoury cheesy scones…

One of our favourites has a taste that closely resembles pannetone:

To the base I add:

  •  two drops of lemon zest extract (or zest of 1 lemon)
  • the zest of one orange
  • 50g chopped raisins (or cranberries… or any other dried fruit)
zesty lemon-orange scones with raisins 

 

 Once you have decided what you will put in them, here is how to make them…

  •  Preheat oven to 425° F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

With a food processor:

  • First pulse the flour, baking powder, sugar (if using) and the salt a few times until well mixed.
  • Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add them to the dry ingredients and pulse four or five times until the butter is mixed in and the largest pieces you can see resemble small peas.
  • Add the other dry ingredients such as the zest, chopped dried fruit, cheddar etc…  and pulse once or twice.
  • Add the cold milk and pulse again just until the dough comes together. There should be no longer spots of flour and the dough should not be too wet.

By hand:

  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar (if using) and the salt.
  • Get your cheese grater out and grate the butter into the flour and just mix. You could also go the longer way and cut the cold butter into small cubes use a pastry cutter or two forks as you would with pie dough. The important thing is to not handle the dough too much and to not smoosh the butter into the flour too much.
  • Mix in the chopped dried fruits, cheese or whatever other dry ingredients.
  • Add the milk and stir in quickly just until the dough comes together and doesn’t show big spots of dry flour anymore.
Dump onto a well floured surface, sprinkle with flour and knead just 2-3 times if needed. If the dough looks good already, just pat it out on the floured surface. Overkneading the dough will make the texture tough and they will not rise right, so you want to be very gentle with the dough!
When you pat the dough out you want it to be about 3cm thick (about an inch) and then using a round cookie/biscuit cutter, or a glass or any other round object, cut out the scones. Make sure you don’t twist your cutter but use a simple up/down motion. Twisting the cutter will fuse the sides a bit and they may not rise.
Place the scones on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 13-15 min until the are golden in colour. Let them cool a bit before serving (we can never wait though!)
Savoury ones can accompany any dish and since they only take a few minutes to make they are great for a last minute meal. (Egg sandwich, next to a roast, with a curry… so many possibilities…)
Sweet ones a best (in my opinion) served with butter and homemade jam or honey…
zesty lemon-orange scones served with butter and homemade ground cherry jam…

 

Enjoy! and I would love to know what flavour combos you come up with!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread, like banana bread is something that I am often wary about…

I love both of them but what I hate is sitting down and taking a bite of an overcooked, dry piece of zucchini flavoured bread. I want my zucchini bread to be moist and tender inside and have a nice crisp crust all around with tons of flavour. I basically want it to be like a bread shaped cake that you can have for breakfast.

This is that kind of bread.

One of the secrets… ok, ok, it is not really a secret… but the reason it is so moist is the pumpkin… you can replace the oil in many baking recipes with pumpkin purée and what you most often end up with is a super moist cake or bread. Seriously… try replacing the oil in your favourite chocolate cake with pumpkin and making cupcakes (or muffins) They turn out so gooey and satisfying. And, best of all, when you swap out the oil for something like pumpkin (or applesauce) you are also making it a lot healthier…

(can you see how crisp the crust is…but there is nothing dry about any of it)

Zucchini Pumpkin Bread

 

Pumpkin chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (I used 1/4 of my dehydrated pumpkin powder, rehydrated in 1 cup boiling water)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Grease and flour two loaf pans and Preheat oven to 325.
Put flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl and mix with a whisk (quicker than sifting)
In another bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and sugar together and then add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well.
Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips until well combined and pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan  for 20 minutes and then remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
(You can find my Banana Bread recipe here)

Amazing Apple Fritters

I had used my wok for frying supper but the oil was still good, so I wanted to use it for something before I had to discard it.

The first thing that came to mind was Apple Fritters. I had a bunch of apples in the fridge and while looking through my recipes I found the perfect one..

Oh gosh…

and yes, I said oh gosh…

these are really, truly, amazing…

What you need…

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk )I used Almond
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups of your favorite apple, chopped into tiny pieces (I use Gala)
  • oil for frying
  • apple cider and confectioner’s sugar for glaze
  • Cinnamon and Sugar to coat
Directions:
Chop apples into small pieces. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl and then wet ingredients together in another (I use a measuring cup) and then slowly add the wet ingredients, and stir until combined, taking care not to overstir. Gently fold in apples.  It should look like a light cake mix.
Heat oil to about 375 degrees.  Use a wok or a pan that will allow dough to be completely submerged while frying.  (To test oil is ready when you drop a bit of batter into  it and it rises to the top.) Using a spoon,  scoop golf size balls of dough into oil,  being careful not to overcrowd. Watch for underside to turn golden brown, and then using tongs, flip over and continuing to fry until done. Test one fritter to ensure they are frying all the way through. Adjust the cooking time if necessary.
Apple Fritter Glaze
1-2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup apple cider (I didn’t have any so I juiced an apple to make some fresh cider)
(1 apple ~ see how little pulp is left!)
Apple juice from the juicer
 I decided that I was going to use less powdered sugar and instead dunk them into some cinnamon sugar to make them even more decadent… but if you want a true glaze, then use all of the powdered sugar.
Whisk cider and sugar together until combined and glaze is smooth. Straight out of the oil, dunk fritters into the glaze.  If you are using the cinnamon sugar after the glaze, do that now…and then immediately set on a baking rack with parchment paper underneath to catch drippings.

These are best served warm but are great when cooled too…

Amazing Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters

By |April 16th, 2012|Recipes|Comments Off on Amazing Apple Fritters|

General tso

When I was in university there was this little restaurant seconds away that I had to stop myself from eating at more often. It is called Nouilles Express and they made ( and still make) the perfect general tso.

The chicken is crispy, the sauce is a perfect balance and an order of fried noodles on the side completes the deal. Even now when we’re in Montreal we sometimes head there just for that.

A few years ago I shared a recipe for General Tso here on the blog. However, there was something about it that did exactly fit with the general tso I used to love. I don’t exactly remember how I found it, but I had this recipe in my recipe app for a little while and I finally decided to try it..

It is amazing!!

Though the other sauce is a great base for other stir-fry type dishes, if I am in the mood for General Tso… This will be my go to recipe from now on… I make it with with chicken or tofu depending on my mood.

For the chicken (or tofu):

  • 4 chicken breasts or 2 blocks of tofu (cut in bite size pieces)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

In a bowl or ziplock, marinate meat or tofu in tamari, sesame oil and garlic and a few tsp of cornstarch for at least 30 min.

With enough oil to cover the pieces, fry the chicken or tofu then set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup stock (veggie, chicken or even water with a bit of Braggs.)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hoisin
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp tamari

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.

You also need:

  • 3 cups of broccoli cut into bit size pieces (optional)
  • 4-5 stalks of green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • About an inch of ginger, minced.
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Sesame oil

If you are making the broccoli, stir fry the brocolli until the colour changes but don’t over cook, and then set aside.

In your hot wok, add a bit of sesame oil and then stir fry the green onion, ginger and garlic. Add the sauce to the wok and let boil for a minute or two. The sauce will change colour and become thick and glazed.

Once the sauce is thick, add the chicken and the broccoli and toss in the sauce.

Serve with rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for the final touch…

 

By |March 8th, 2012|Chicken, Main Dishes, Main Dishes-Vegetarian, Recipes|Comments Off on General tso|