Saturday, January 22, 2011

10 for 5: Shrimp Tempura

My wife and I had friends over last night and one of our friends has a gluten intolerance. I challenged myself to come up with a gluten free or at least very reduced meal since the last time she was over we had pizza (not too easy on the glutens). I watch cooking shows like others watch American Idol. Particularly Iron Chef America, where I am quite often seeing someone whip together a tempura batter of sorts. Then every time I see the soda water come out I think Tempura. Usually they use cornstarch and soda water, well if that is the case there is no gluten, but I prefer the flavour of rice flour to cornstarch.

This recipe unfortunately is not precise as it depends on judgement, but it is super easy.

You will need: (for 4)
1 lb. (30-40 size) shrimp (I used Pacific White)
about 2 cups of rice flour
1 egg
1/8 tsp baking powder (a good pinch)
1 -2 cups (very cold) Soda water *
Vegetable oil for frying (you will need enough for a deep frier or 2-3 inches deep in a med sauce pan)

In a medium sized mixing bowl beat together egg, flour, baking powder and a bit of soda water, adding a bit at a time until the consistency of crêpe batter. Clean and shell Shrimp, then dry off with a paper towel. Meanwhile warm oil to 350 F. You can tell the oil is hot enough when you take a drop of the batter and put it in the oil, if it doesn't sink all the way before coming back up it is perfect. If it sits on the bottom before rising its not hot enough, and if it stays on the top it is too hot. If you want to be 100% sure use a candy/frier thermometer. When the oil is ready, start dipping shrimp into batter, shake excess and carefully place in oil. Do small batches of no more than ten. After a minute or so they should be done, you will see the pink of the shrimp through the light golden batter. Garnish how you like but nothing beats a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 for 5: Perogie Meal.

Yesterday, My wife was not home for dinner so I was only cooking for myself. There are some simple pleasures that I like once and a while and good tasty greasy food is one of them. My wife likes a more balanced less fat meal, but once and a while I love my comfort food.

I love good perogies, and really the meal is not complete without bacon,fried onions and sour cream. Since I am doing the 10 for 5 challenge I figured why not write this one down.

This is an easy and tasty meal, and not too many dishes. I am counting the perogies as one ingredient because they are so available. With Perogies, you get what you pay for. If you have a Polish or Ukrainian deli near you they usually have hand made perogies which make a huge difference from the frozen ones you get at the market. This meal depends on the quality of the ingredients, so make it count.

For the meal you will need: (For 2 people)
16-20 small perogies (Hand made are usually bigger and you will need 1/2 as many)
6 slices of bacon sliced into 1/2 strips
1/2 onion sliced thin
4 tbsp or more sour cream
1 1/2 tbsp water to render bacon

Start by slicing bacon into strips, then render in a little water for an even browning. once bacon is cooked place on paper towel to soak up some extra fat. Fry onions in bacon fat. Meanwhile, if using frozen perogies boil until they start to float or if using fresh skip this step. Then fry until golden brown on both sides in bacon fat. Serve with Sour cream, bacon and onions.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do...

Monday, January 17, 2011

10 under 5: Hot Lemon Tea

Unfortunately over the last week I have been really sick. I don't get sick very often but when I do, I really do. I am not big on taking drugs for a cold so when I can I have my own little remedies that I have picked up along the way. This is one of my favourites, its a spicy rendition of some store bought lemon medicated tea that shall remain nameless. Very simple, and easy enough to make when you are sick and don't feel like doing anything.

Aside from a familiar mug, you will need:
1/4 cup Lemon juice ( fresh squeezed is best)
1 Tbsp honey (this is the time to pull out your fanciest, tastiest stuff)
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
enough hot water to fill your favourite mug
Ground or grated ginger

All you need to do is squeeze lemon into mug or measure out lemon juice and pour it into your mug. Add your favourite honey, after all when your sick is the perfect time to treat yourself to some wildflower, or blueberry flower honey. Great fresh ginger and add a pinch of ground cayenne pepper to the mug. Pour hot water to fill the mug and enjoy.

Since there is no medication in it, this drink can also be enjoyed when you are not sick. Until the next post take care.

Monday, January 10, 2011

10 recipes with 5 ingredients

Ok so here is the deal;
Over the next month I will be coming up with 10 recipes that have 5 or less ingredients (not including S & P) and blogging about them. Since I will be continuing to post other things during this time (until Feb 14th) I will be distinguishing the 10 with 5 posts with "10 under 5:" in the title of each of them.

Wish me luck! and for a list of the competitors click the badge above...

Holiday food- Part 3: Crab and goat cheese tortellini

A new tradition for me the last couple years, since I met my wife has been a potluck with her father’s family. I love good pot luck, and when it’s a family who all cook so well it is an honour to be a part of it. This year I wanted to do something different, I got a pasta maker and I hadn’t used it in a while now I needed something that stood out. I thought about how often do you see tortellini for Christmas? Not to mention crab and goat cheese filled?

Ok so will warn all my readers here…This is a bit time consuming and a bit of hard work but so very worth it all.

First you will need to start out by making fresh sheets of pasta. To do this you can use regular Canadian flour or the best one to use is fine semolina flour. Sorry American followers but your wheat flour is not as strong and you will probably need to use bread flour (which has higher gluten) or semolina. Semolina is the best because it has more gluten and provides a stronger final product.

Take 2 cups of flour and mound it on your work surface creating a well large enough for wet ingredients. Break 3 eggs into well and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and pinch of salt. Slowly start to incorporate the liquid into the flour until a dough holds together. You will have left over flour so stop when you can form a ball.

Knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes to work the glutens and creates a smooth, and slightly stretchy dough. Divide in 2 and form disks. Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour to relax the glutens. When ready to work with the dough, roll out one disk at a time. I suggest using a pasta machine if you have one, but you can roll the pasta by hand as well. Start off by rolling the dough thin enough to fit into the machine on the thickest setting. Roll through once take dough fold both ends into the middle, then fold over like a book (four fold method). Roll a bit to fit in machine and repeat this another couple times. This step builds strength in the dough.

Now the dough is ready to thin out. Keep running the sheet through each time changing the setting one thinner until you are at the thinnest. Once the sheet is thin enough, sprinkle with flour and then take either a circle cookie-cutter or a glass with a small opening (about a 2 inch diameter) and try to get as many circles as you can of the dough (as you can’t use the scraps). Cover what you are not working on with a moist towel so that the pasta doesn’t dry. Brush the ones that you are working with water to help seal.

Take ¼ tsp of the filling of your choice and place in the center of each round. Fold over, seal all around the stuffing. Take the 2 corners along the folded (straight) edge, and pinch together to form tortellini shape. If it doesn’t stick, moisten the area lightly and try again. If you are not eating within a couple days, the tortellini can be frozen until needed.

Crab and goat cheese filling:
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic
2 leaves of tarragon chopped fine
½ a medium red pepper finely diced
2 cans of crabmeat
2 tbsp olive oil.
1 cup quality soft goat cheese
S&P to taste (goat cheese varies in saltiness so wait to add salt)

Soften shallots and peppers in frying pan with oil. Add the garlic, tarragon and crab meat. Allow to warm up. Stir in goat cheese then remove from heat. Season with S & P, and cool before using.

These make awesome tortellini but the possibilities are endless. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday Food - Part 2: Gingerbread trees and men.

Something that I started last year and has become an interesting tradition is cookies. I hadn't made many cookies except for peanut butter and chocolate chip in the past as I didn't see myself as too much of a baker. But as everything else in my kitchen, it's only a matter of time before I get the craving to try making something new, or to try and find out how to make the things I love. Last year I started with something I always loved, shortbread. Now shortbread is not too difficult, but it does take a little finesse. When I did a marble pinwheel by adding cocoa to 1/2 of the batter, layering it, rolling it up and cutting it into slices, I had a bit more confidence in the baking department. Instantly I wanted to try baking more and more.

This year I went with Gingerbread cookies, and not necessarily for the difficulty level but to me that and shortbread are the essence of Christmas baked goods. I was going to make a few different types as I was making a decorative tin of cookies for a secret santa gift, but the recipe I found made so many cookies I had my own gingerbread army. I also looked around for a good royal icing recipe and I will give you both, it's not too late to make gingerbread cookies.

Gingerbread cookies:
6 cups of flour
1 1/2 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
2/3 cup (vegetable) shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup molasses
1 lg egg
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine 5 1/2 cups of flour with the baking soda, spices and salt. Cream the butter, shortening, sugar and Molasses together beat in egg and buttermilk. Add flour in stages, using the additional 1/2 cup if needed. Mix until no longer sticky and forms stiff dough. Divide dough into 3 and form into disks. Wrap and chill until use (min 1 hour) working with 1 disk at a time.

Roll out to 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of cling wrap (easier clean up and doesn't stick), and then using a floured cookie cutter cut out cookies. Bake for 12 mins in a 350 F oven. Let cool in tray for 5 mins before fully cooling on wire racks. Makes 50-60 4"X 2" cookies.

Royal Icing:
2 egg whites
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 cups icing sugar

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form add just a small pinch of salt to help hold volume. Add lemon juice and slowly incorporate icing sugar until thick icing forms (you should be able to drizzle lines that will stay on the surface of the icing).

Thicken with more icing sugar and thin with more egg whites.
I played around with food colouring for the christmas trees but use your imagination, the sky is the limit.

let me know how they go...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holiday Food - Part 1: Tourtiere

There were a couple things I remember about Christmas at my Grandma’s and I associated those with French-Canadian traditional food. My grandparents spent many years as snowbirds (Canadians who live in the southern states during winter-Part time Americans), so I don’t remember too many Christmas dinners there. One thing that left an impression was tourtiere. Tourtiere is a meat pie made with pork and beef or veal, and as I later found out, it’s traditionally eaten for réveillon (big dinners on Christmas Eve and/or New Years Eve).

It always seemed a mystery and I had this belief that it was a lot more complex to make than it was. That was until I saw Laura Caulder do a version of it on her show. It was an awakening of sorts to realize that the hard part was the crust not the filling. Well as I was a good procrastinator I put it off year after year, until my wife’s dad invited us over for his annual tourtiere production (15-20 pies). I was now more motivated to try my own.

This year I stopped procrastinating and even researched how to make the best crust. I did try to make a crust and the first one didn’t work, I will try again, but since I was in a bit of a time crunch I bought pre-made dough at the store that worked just as good. Nowadays, you can find store bought dough, or even prepared crusts that are almost as good as homemade, and a lot less hassle. If you are short on time or just don’t want the bother it is perfectly fine to buy it.

Recipes for tourtiere vary from family to family, and well I always add my own touch to recipes. Here goes the start of the Hurley tourtiere recipe:

Makes 3 pies:
1 Kg(2 1/5 lbs) ground pork, veal and beef. *In Montreal they sell it mixed together-but you may have to buy separately. If you buy it separate be sure there is a bit more beef than pork.
2 Cups potatoes diced
1 cup fine to coarse breadcrumbs (I used panko-but any unseasoned ones would work)
4 cups Chicken stock
1 onion finely diced
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp Olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
¼ tsp smoked paprika ( I have a good Hungarian paprika that I use)
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp sage
Pinch of cloves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat large pot with olive oil on Medium heat. Soften onions until translucent, and then add garlic, bay leaves and spices. Heat for no more that 20 seconds before adding stock so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add potatoes and bring to a boil, then remove bay leaves and add uncooked meat to stock. Simmer for 20 minutes (or until meat is no longer pink) skimming fat as it cooks. Stir in breadcrumbs and turn off the heat. Cool and let sit in fridge overnight before using.

If using uncooked pie dough:
Roll to a thickness of 2mm (1/16th inch) a bottom and top for 3 pie pans. And cook at 190 C (375 F) for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Using Precooked pie crust:
Follow directions on package.

This is a traditional dish but it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy this dish, could be just to try making something new. What kind of traditional food did you make this year? Let me know in the comments section.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Phew Made it out alive...

The Holidays are now behind us, and frankly as much as I like the Christmas season, I am happy to go back to a normal pace and pack away Christmas just like the retailers have already done. The last month was a fun whirlwind of gingerbread, tourtieres, pasta, holiday meals, company and a ton of additional cooking. I loved it, but now time to relax a little, and eat a bit lighter for a while.

Now what I didn't get around to was updating those who are following my kitchen Hi jinx. I neglegted to keep the blog up to date while I was busy cooking up a storm, so over the next week I will be adding a few posts to catch up.

Things to come over the next week (not nessesarily in order):

Gingerbread men, trees, and decorating.
Homemade pasta
Tortellinis with crab and goat cheese filling
New Griddle and the breakfast test.

Look out for these posts coming soon, or check me out on foodista

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