Apr 14 2014

Mushroom Gnocchi

I spent the entire afternoon yesterday deciding what I wanted to make for dinner. This included over an hour spent on the internet scouring my usual recipe inspiration sources; foodgawker and my delicious account, where I have bookmarked hundreds of recipes for a later date.

Nothing I saw was appealing to me whatsoever, not soup, not stew, not tacos, nothing. I kind of wanted pasta but didn’t want wheat and I kind of wanted a meatless meal but also needed to make it hearty enough for my stepfather to not feel ripped off. Gnocchi finally crossed my mind… but with what??

While at the local Fresh Co yesterday I saw they had an abundance of fresh mushrooms and at a very reasonable price. Want to know one of the best things about mushrooms?? A lot of them are grown here in Canada, in Ontario in fact.

I scooped up a box of enoki, a box of shiitake, and two boxes of crimini that, in total, made about 2 lbs worth. Since I like a higher mushroom to gnocchi ratio than most recipes call for I only used 1 lb of gnocchi even though the original recipe called for two. I also completely forgot about the truffle oil, doh! Which I can only imagine would have taken the dish up to a whole new level, but to be honest I’m not sure how that would even be possible since it was so delicious without.

This recipe, in my opinion, is a show stopper. I realize that it isn’t very sexy, but unless you are diametrically opposed to mushrooms I believe that you will not only enjoy it but will also dream about this dish for years to come. I’m excited to whip this up for a dinner party someday, although it’s not the prettiest it is simple, quick, and is full of layers of rich flavour.

Mushroom Gnocchi

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp butter

2 lbs mixed mushrooms, destemmed if necessary and thickly sliced

2 shallots, minced

1/4 dry vermouth

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp chopped thyme, fresh or dried

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb fresh or frozen prepared gnocchi

6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp white truffle oil

Preheat the broiler. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil with the butter. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 12 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until evaporated. Add the stock, cream and thyme, season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Add the gnocchi to the mushrooms and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top.

Broil the gnocchi 6 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve.


Feb 17 2014

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart

A few weeks ago, while flipping through a Chatelaine magazine, Mick came across a picture of a Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart for which he declared his interest. It isn’t often he requests food, he’s usually happy eating anything and everything I feel like whipping up, so I was more than happy to both satiate his sweet tooth and test out my new eco-friendly tart pan in one go.

Let me begin by saying that, this is a very easy tart. I know it looks a bit tricky, but seriously you can do this! There is no thermometer needed for the caramel, but be very careful when adding the cream as the mixture will steam a lot, and there is no rolling pin necessary for the crust.

I used extra bitter dark chocolate, but regular dark chocolate would work well too. For those of you who are reading this and thinking, ew dark chocolate, let me just say that the caramel balances out the chocolate so well that you may just think about chocolate differently after a slice of this decadent tart.

I will definitely be making this tart again.

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart

Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

1 egg yolk

Filling

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups 35% cream, divided

1 1/4 tsp pink salt (or sea salt), divided

1 1/4 cups 70% dark chocolate, chopped (about 170 g)

2 tsp unsalted butter, diced

Position rack in centre of oven. Preheat to 350F. Place a 9-in. tart pan with 1 1/8-in. sides and a removable bottom on a baking sheet.

Combine flour with 2 tbsp sugar in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, mix 1/2 cup butter into flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in egg yolk and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer dough to centre of prepared tart pan. Press dough from middle of pan to edges. Using fingertips, press dough up edges of pan until even with rim. Prick pastry with a fork, then line with parchment or foil. Add pie weights or dry beans. Bake in centre of oven for 20 min, then remove parchment and pie weights and continue baking until lightly browned, about 10 min. Set aside to cool slightly, 10 min.

Combine 1 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high. Continue boiling just until it turns a light amber, 5 to 10 min. Stir in 1/2 cup cream and 3/4 tsp salt until smooth. Pour into warm pastry and refrigerate until caramel is firm, about 20 min.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour remaining 1 cup cream into a small saucepan and set over medium. Bring just to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until no streaks remain and chocolate is smooth. Stir in 2 tsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt until glossy. Let cool to room temperature, 10 min.

Scrape chocolate over caramel and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. You may not need to scrape the chocolate, as it is still very soft, but if you do use a knife or spoon and make scrape marks it will create a nice texture on the top of the tart. I didn’t do this and wish I had.

Sprikle with remaining 1/4 tsp salt.


Feb 17 2014

Grass Soup

I have a co-worker, who is Portuguese, who once told me a story about a family recipe called grass soup. It sounds kind of unappealing… but really it’s just a playful way the children in her family describe the soup. One of the things I enjoy most about this recipe, is how the potatoes make this soup thick and creamy, so there is no need for cream or thickeners.

Caldo Verde

¼ cup ex virg olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 kg potatoes, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks

3 cloves garlic, finely grated

2 litres chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 bunch kale, centre stems removed

1-2 sticks dried chorizo, cut into thin rounds

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 mins. Add potatoes and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove 2 cups of the potatoes and set aside.

Purée the remaining soup in the saucepan then return the reserved potatoes to the soup and bring to a simmer. If the soup is too thick  just add a little water.

Thinly slice the kale into shreds and add to the soup. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender, then season with sea salt.

Heat  a non-stick pan over medium heat and fry the chorizo for a minute each side or until golden. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with chorizo and serve.


Jan 14 2014

Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

One of my new year resolutions is to stop buying my breakfast and lunch at work. I know I know… you’re shocked. I cook all the time, how is it that I am constantly buying breakfast AND lunch?? Well, the answer is easy. It’s easy to not make the time to think ahead, to not cook extra, to not pack the night before, to not buy lunch friendly items at the store. So very easy, ugh! Anyway, I have decided to make a conscious effort to make the time to ensure I bring food to work with me.

I’ve got to say, these muffins are great! They are full of good-for-you ingredients and yet don’t feel too healthy. There is a fine line when making healthy muffins that should not be crossed. You know, when you take a healthy-ish muffin and then decide to take it up a notch… turning it into a superfood that ends up tasting like cardboard. Do not cross that line!!

These dark chocolate banana breakfast muffins are the perfect balance between something you should eat for breakfast and something you want to eat for breakfast. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be making them again.

Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

¾ cup pastry flour

¼ cup spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup cocoa powder

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 cup quick oats

¾ cup + 1 tbsp non-fat Greek yogurt

1 cup ripe banana, pureed (about 3 bananas)

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or fill with 12 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder.

In a large bowl, stir together brown sugar and oats. Add yogurt, banana, canola oil, and egg and stir until well-combined.

Pour dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir until moistened–batter will be thick. Fold in dark chocolate.

Divide batter into muffin cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.


Jan 14 2014

Split Pea & Ham Soup

This recipe is another great way to use up leftovers. Although I did find this soup quite salty and I didn’t even add any salt to it. I used leftover ham from one of those spiral cut hams, they are REALLY salty. Next time I will most likely add more peas and a lot more stock, if not some water, to dilute all the salt from the ham. Also note that when your soup is really salty do not freeze it. I find freezing food that is salty makes it taste more salty when thawed.

Split Pea & Ham Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tbsp dried thyme

8 cups stock

1 ½ cups green or yellow split peas, rinsed

Leftover ham, cubed

2 large potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot over medium high, heat olive oil. Turn down to medium and add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Saute 5 minutes.

Add stock and peas. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 hour or until peas have completely broken down, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

While the soup is cooking boil the potatoes until just cooked in a separate pot of water. Set aside and add to the soup with the ham in the last 10 minutes of cooking to avoid overcooking them.