Friday, 2 July 2021

Open-Faced Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich with Basil Dressing and Fleur de Sel Garnish

 



A superb way to use summer's tomato and basil bounty is to make this delicious sandwich. I used a French demi-baguette as a base for this "culinary" creation of mine. It was very fresh and just the right size. But frankly, I found the baguette too dense for the sandwich (it's not often you'll hear me complain about bread). What one wants here is a crunchy loaf that will support what it's topped with while allowing the basil and tomatoes to take the leading role. So you may want to try an Italian loaf which is not as dense as a French one. Whatever you do, don't use sourdough bread ... A rosemary loaf would be nice. How about an olive loaf??? There are lots of options, therefore make the recipe your own by choosing your favourite type of bread! The ingredients listed are enough for a smaller roll, one that makes a perfect lunch for two people. If you choose to go for a larger loaf, you'll have to double up on the ingredients. 






Ingredients:

Get some bread!

fresh mozzarella cheese, roughly chopped
2 or three freshly picked tomatoes, sliced
fleur de sel 
black pepper
chives, chopped
a few basil leaves sliced into chiffonade (to use as topping)
a scant amount of olive oil for topping

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
a squeeze or two of lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil, chopped well
salt and pepper to taste




Directions:


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Make the basil dressing by combining the mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chopped basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix or whisk kind of really, really well. 
  • Slice the bread roll in two halves lengthwise. Lightly sprinkle one tablespoon of olive oil over both halves of the bread. Brush each half with the basil dressing.
  • Top with the shredded fresh mozzarella.
  • Place the bread halves on a baking sheet and bake them for five minutes until they become crispy and the cheese begins to turn a light golden brown. 
  • Take the baking sheet out of the oven. Let the bread stay on the baking sheet. Top each half with tomato slices.
  • Turn off the oven. Place the baking sheet into the still-warm oven so the tomatoes are exposed to heat. After about a minute, remove from the oven.  
  • Lightly sprinkle the tops of your open-faced sandwiches with fleur de sel to taste. Add some ground black pepper, chopped chives and basil chiffonade. Drizzle over with a little olive oil and serve right away. 


Thursday, 13 May 2021

GOOD - OLD FASHIONED PANCAKES!

I love pancakes for dinner! This was today's dinner and I made a quick decision to post the recipe! These pancakes are made with buttermilk instead of milk. If you have no buttermilk on hand, no need to run to the store. Here's how to make a buttermilk substitute:  

  • For one cup of buttermilk, use:
  • 1 cup of milk 
  • tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Combine, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and that's your buttermilk!



Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

somewhere between 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

½  teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 and 3/4 cups buttermilk at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted. Melting it in the microwave is perfect, but allow it to cool a few minutes before using it.

vegetable oil for the pan

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and into it pour the buttermilk mixture.

Stir all the ingredients together just until combined. Do not over-mix; a few lumps in the batter are just fine.

Heat the oil in a pan, cast iron is preferable, and under medium-high heat, add dollops of the batter. 

Cook until bubbles begin to form on the top of the pancakes and check the underside to see that the edges have begun to crisp up. Almost ready to flip ...


When the underside lifts readily, place a spatula all the way under the pancake and flip! Allow the other side to cook. Remember that the first pancake is almost always an experiment and it will not come out perfect but it will nevertheless be delicious!  

Remove each pancake to a plate and serve with all the accoutrements you desire: Fruit, maple syrup, fried chicken, you're the boss. I think the part about the fried chicken is a joke. As for maple syrup, I always buy grade B maple syrup. Why? Grade B is actually better tasting than grade A! It's just that B has a darker amber colour. But it also has a more concentrated maple flavour because it's made from sap that gets harvested close to wintertime and has therefore had more opportunity to thicken up. 

You can divide the batter into parts, place into containers such as plastic freezer bags, and freeze for use at a later date.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

HOMEMADE DOGFOOD: MEATLOAF FOR THE DOG!

This is Mr Ben. Meatloaf? Yes, please, he says. He can eat it every single day! 

I recently adopted a smol doggo from a local rescue who just happens to be the most finicky eater on the globe! That's the guy, Mr Ben, right there in the picture. 

I make this meatloaf for him and we do have success because he seems to like it and no longer goes without eating dinner. I've known and loved other dogs, not such finicky eaters as Ben, and I would make this meatloaf for them with turkey and without the cheese. So a turkey version is an option that other dogs may like. 

I am writing this post on New Year's Day. I would like to report that today, Ben chose to have grilled salmon for dinner because that's part of what I prepared for the hooman population that will arrive for dinner in about an hour from now. I mean Ben does live here, and the salmon was here, therefore it made sense to him that he indulge. 

I have not yet have had that conversation with Ben where I inform him that he is a doggo. I doubt this conversation will ever take place. As far as Ben is concerned, he's my son, and boy do I love him as a son!!!

The other day he asked me if I have opened a college tuition account for him. 
Of course, I have! 

Ben's Meatloaf

Ingredients:


2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups mixed vegetables: use a combination of carrots, green beans, and broccoli.

One small sweet potato cut into chunks and boiled 

1/2 cup  flax seed meal (don't use whole flaxseed because the canine cannot digest it)

1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded good cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

oregano and thyme to taste



Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Lightly pre-cook the vegetables. Pre-cooking will aid with digestion. Drain the vegetables and mash them. 

Mash the boiled sweet potato.

Mix all the ingredients.

Place the mixture in a lightly oiled pan. 

Bake for one hour. 

Cut into serving portions and freeze. Use as needed. 

P.S. Some times I'll get a rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and the bones, chop the meat in small pieces and combine a portion of it with a serving of "Ben's meatloaf."



Friday, 27 November 2020

PUMPKIN CAKE


Ingredients   
     
3 cups/385 grams all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1  1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
the zest of one orange
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups/440 grams light brown sugar, packed 
1/2 cup/114 grams unsalted butter, soft but cool
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 (15-ounce) can/425 grams pumpkin purée
1/2 cup Greek full-fat plain yoghurt
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted 

Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  • Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, black pepper, orange zest, and the rest of the spices until well combined. 
  • Add the walnuts to the flour mixture and stir until combined.        
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, butter, olive oil, and maple extract. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. This should take at least five minutes, or perhaps more. 
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions.
  • Add the pumpkin purée, and yoghurt. 
  • Mix until well combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • On the lowest setting of your mixer fold in the dry ingredients. Fold only until combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure an evenly mixed batter. 
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Firmly tap the pan on the countertop to cause the batter to settle and release any large air bubbles. 
  • Bake the cake about 55 to 65 minutes until golden and puffed. The cake is done when a tester (such as a knife), inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean. 
  • Set the cake, still in its pan, on a rack to cool for at least an hour before unmoulding. Invert onto a rack and allow to cool completely.
  • Before serving,  decorate the cake with your favourite glaze if you so choose.

This recipe has been adapted from one published in the New York Times.
    

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

FROM STALE BREAD TO DELICIOUS CROUTONS!



These croutons may be the reason to give up candy!!! 



Here's the ultimate way to use up one's leftover bread or rolls. Ciabatta bread will do very nicely as will French bread. How about a combination of the two? Go ahead and make these croutons well ahead of time. They freeze beautifully and will be ready to be used as a topping for that favourite salad or soup!  

The croutons are very easy to make, and what's more, this is a recipe without a recipe! Use the amounts you want; let your inner chef take charge!



METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Cut a loaf of bread into cubes of an appropriate size and place them into a large bowl. If you prefer to have rustic bread cubes, don't use a knife. Instead, use your hands to tear the bread into nice pieces. Either way will work, but make sure that whether torn or cut up, all the pieces are of similar size so that they cook evenly. 
  • Drizzle the bread cubes with olive oil and melted butter. The combination of olive oil and butter is important because it gives an extra delicious taste to the croutons. However, you may omit the butter and just use olive oil. 
  • Sprinkle some garlic powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper and a touch of salt over the bread. Toss until all of the bread cubes are well coated with the ingredients. 
  • If you are an oregano fanatic, add some extra dried oregano to the Italian seasoning before tossing with the bread.
  • Do you have some shredded Pecorino Romano cheese? How about adding a touch of it to the mix? Not too much, though. Just enough so that it will be absorbed by the oil and butter. 
  • Do you have some roasted garlic or better yet some garlic confit in your refrigerator? If the answer is yes, use it. Forgo the garlic powder, mash some soft roasted garlic, mash it well, and mix it with the oil and butter. Drizzle over the bread. 
  • Spread the bread cubes onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure the bread cubes are in an even layer and not touching. If they are too close and overlapping, they won’t cook evenly and won’t crisp up.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until the croutons are golden brown. Check early to make sure you don’t burn them. The baking time will depend on how thick your bread pieces are and how your oven cooks. 


  • Remove those golden croutons from the oven and let them cool completely. Do fight the urge to snack on them! It can be a strong urge ... Why fight it? Because otherwise, there will not be enough croutons left for your salad or for your soup, that's why!
  • The croutons can be stored in an airtight container for a week or they can be frozen for about a month. 


Friday, 16 October 2020

WHOLE, CITUSY TROUT IN PARCELS

 I've made this recipe a few times, either with the fish arranged in a baking dish or sealed up in parchment and aluminium foil parcels. Both are good, but there is something about the parcels which better seals in the flavour and enhances the taste of the fish. If you make the recipe in a baking pan, add a little water or wine to the pan and cover the top while cooking. 





INGREDIENTS:


2 trout cleaned by the fishmonger.

 

2 potatoes

 

2 cubanelle peppers (Italian frying peppers)

 

1 orange

 

1lemon

 

1 lime

 

1 onion

 

About 4 tablespoons of olive oil plus more to use on the fish after cooking

 

1/2 teaspoon of mint

 

2 teaspoons of thyme leaves

 

1 clove of garlic, chopped well

 

2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

 

two sprigs of rosemary

 

a scant amount of salt

 


DIRECTIONS:


·        Wash the fish thoroughly and pat it dry with paper towels.

 

·        Prepare parchment paper and aluminium foil sections large enough to accommodate each fish. Preheat the oven to 200° C / 400° F. 

 

·        Slice the orange, lemon, lime, onion, cubanelles and potatoes into rondelles.

 

·        Season the potatoes and cubanelles with salt and pepper.

 

·        In a small bowl mix the oil, garlic, mint, thyme and black pepper.

 

·      Season the fish with the oil mixture, using it to cover both the cavities and the outside of the fish.  

 

·        Place the onion and citrus slices into the fish cavities.

 

·        Spread out both sections of the aluminium foil and top it with the two sections of parchment paper.

 

·        Divide the potatoes and peppers in half and place each half onto the centre of each parchment paper. Top with a sprig of rosemary.

 

·        Place each fish on top of the potatoes and peppers.

 

·        Make two well-sealed parcels by folding the parchment over the fish and then folding the aluminium paper over the parchment.

 

·        Bake in the oven at 200° C / 400° F for about 30 minutes. The fish is done when its flesh appears opaque.

 

·        You could allow the top of the fish to brown if you so wish. In that case, cook in opened parcels for a further five to ten minutes (or more), depending on the oven.

 

·        Remove the fish from the oven and place in a serving platter along with the potatoes and cubanelle peppers.

 

·        Drizzle the cooking juices and some olive oil the top. Keep warm and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.