Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Crispy Baked Tomatoes



Crispy Baked Tomatoes

7 ripe plum tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, if desired
more olive oil for drizzling

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the core and seeds.

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour the olive oil over. Toss with your hands to thoroughly coat the tomatoes.

In another bowl combine the bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings. Pour over the tomatoes in the bowl and again with your hands, toss together.

Place each coated tomato half onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill with the crumbs remaining in the bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes should be meltingly soft and the topping crunchy. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Fruit Platz



Platz is a dish from my childhood and my Mennonite heritage. It's a versatile cake with a simple dough base, fresh or frozen fruit, and a crumbly topping. For this version I used the last of the frozen plums on one end of the cake, and strawberries and rhubarb on the other end. 

Platz

Sift together: 2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 cup of sugar.

Add: 1/4 cup butter and mix with fingers until fine crumbs form.

Add: 1 cup light cream and 1 egg, lightly mixed together.

Mix well. Dump onto parchment paper lined baking sheet (my foremothers just greased the pan.) The recipe says to use a "fairly large" pan - I use a 9 x 14 inch pan. The dough is sticky and hard to spread so I usually flour my hands well and spread it with my fingers. It will be thin. 

Put on a layer of fruit: pitted plum halves, sliced apples, pitted cherries, pitted apricot halves, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb. 

Make the crumb topping, called Ruebel

Mix together: 3/4 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Add: 1/4 cup butter and use your fingers to make crumbs. Add a little cream to make the crumbs thicker. (As I write this, I think I forgot to add any cream to the crumb mixture - it tastes just fine!)

Sprinkle the crumbs over the fruits and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or so until the dough is cooked and the crumb topping is golden brown.

Serve warm, cut into generous squares. A scoop of ice cream is optional.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Roasted Pear Cheesecake



This cheesecake ticks a lot of boxes - easy to make, looks great, and tastes delicious. It's adapted from a couple of recipes I found in a number of places. 

Roasted Pear Cheesecake

Crust:
There's a cookie available in stores here called Anna's Ginger Cookies. They are thin, spicy, and crisp and shaped like flowers. I used one package of them for this recipe. 

I saved enough whole cookies to go around the edge of a 9 inch springform pan. The remainder of the cookies I crushed and added some melted butter to help them hold together. Then I placed the whole cookies around the edge of the pan, sinking the bottoms into the crumb crust to help them stay in place.

A graham cracker crust would be just fine, but the gingersnaps added a welcome bit of spice.

Filling:
2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 3 Tablespoons of icing sugar

Beat together the cream cheese and maple syrup until creamy. Fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream, then gently fold in the remainder. 
Pour onto the crumb crust. Refrigerate.

Pear Topping:
Choose 2-3 pears that are firm, but ripe. Quarter each pear lengthwise and gently remove the core. Try to make the pieces as uniform as possible. Cut each quarter into half, creating eighths. 

Place pear slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with real maple syrup. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until pears are almost tender. Turn over and brush with more maple syrup. Bake another 5-10 minutes until golden and tender. Let cool on parchment. 

Place pears on chilled cheesecake to serve. 

Two Soups



I do love soup and know of few people who don't! Yes, soup dislik-ers actually exist! I've been roasting vegetables for soups this month - it's an easy way to add flavour. 

The first soup is a Roasted Cauliflower Pear Soup. Making soup is an easy-going method of cooking and I never measure or follow recipes exactingly. Hence the rather loose recipe. 


To make Roasted Cauliflower Pear Soup, I cut up about 1/2 to 3/4 of a head of cauliflower, chopped an onion, peeled a couple of garlic cloves and tossed everything together on a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over top - a tablespoon or two and mix with your hands. 

The pear was a last minute addition - a couple of Bartletts were ripening fast on the counter top and so I quartered and cored them (the peel remained), and threw them onto the baking sheet. Add a good sprinkle of salt. Roast at 420 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize. 

Place all the vegetables into a suitably sized pot and add 3-4 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, then use an immersion blender to create a smooth texture. Taste, add seasonings as desired, and perhaps a couple of tablespoons of cream to smooth out the flavour. 

This soup is delicious with a hint of sweetness from the pears. I served the soup with a bit of crumbled blue cheese on top. Creamy. 



The second soup is a Roasted Tomato Soup. It's best made with sweet home-grown tomatoes of any size - as you can see there are tiny cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and full-size tomatoes on the baking sheet. 

Cut the tomatoes in half - a baking sheet covered with tomato halves makes enough soup for 4-6 servings. Chop an onion and sprinkle it over top, and some garlic, too. Oregano is still doing well in the garden, so I added some fresh leaves, but dried works just as well. 

Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over top - 3-4 tablespoons, and season the tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours. As you can see from the photo, the edges are quite caramelized. The house will fill with wonderful fragrance, and you'll be tempted to eat those caramelized tomatoes straight from the pan. Resist.


Once the vegetables are roasted, put them into a pot and add 3-4 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so, then use an immersion blender to smooth it all out. This is a rustic soup, with lots of texture. If you want a really smooth soup, you'll have to strain it.

Taste for seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add some water or broth and simmer for a bit longer. A bit of cream added at the end finishes this soup well, as does a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ginger Snaps



These are one of my favourite cookies. I like them crisp and snappy, with a good ginger flavour. These meet my criteria. They last well in an airtight container on the counter, and they also freeze well. 

I used to make these before going on vacation. The ginger seemed to help with motion sickness, something all 3 of our children suffered from on the winding, twisty roads we used to drive. I still like to make them for traveling, even though it's just the two of us now. 

Ginger Snaps

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
sugar for rolling the cookies

Mix the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molasses. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Form into small balls and roll in sugar. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool on rack.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Baked Eggs with Proscuitto, Brie and Truffle Oil



Sleep in. Take it easy. Make a special breakfast. Ah, so lovely Saturday mornings.

I found this recipe in the newspaper (Times Colonist) and adapted it a little. It's easy to put together and while it bakes, cut up some fruit, make coffee or tea, and set the table properly.


Here's the recipe:

Baked Eggs with Prosciutto, Brie and Truffle oil (for 2)

4 slices prosciutto
4 slices Brie cheese (cut from a 4 oz wheel)
4 large eggs (I used 3, because I only wanted 1 egg)
1/4 cup shredded white Cheddar or Gouda cheese
4 Tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon white truffle oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line 2 ramekins or individual oven-proof dishes with prosciutto.
Place Brie on top of prosciutto. Crack eggs and nestle alongside the Brie. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the eggs. Whisk together the cream and truffle oil and pour gently over the eggs, ensuring that the yolks are coated. 

Put the baking dishes into a larger pan and pour about 1/4-1/2 inch of boiling water around the dishes. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until eggs are done to your liking.

Sprinkle with parsley, and/or a good twist of freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy with toast, croissants, and fruit. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chinese Meatballs




My mother loves trying out new recipes. This is one that she first made when I was about 13. I can envision the kitchen it was prepared in. We were living in a rented duplex, shortly after moving to Prince George, before purchasing a home. The meatballs and vegetables, with a hint of sweetness, were served over rice. It was a big hit with the whole family, and became a tried and true dish. 

There's a bit of a joke with this recipe now. My mom used get us children to help roll the meatballs, as she often made more than one recipe. She liked the meatballs to be small, and would check on the progress my sister and I were making. "Too big," she would say, and we would pinch off little bits and make them smaller. I think of those days every time I make the recipe. So I was shocked when I was at my parents' house a couple of years ago and Mom had made meatballs that were NOT as small as they used to be! Whatever size, they are delicious.

I don't know that there's much Chinese about this recipe, except that it seems any recipe with soy sauce is labeled as such. This is not a sweet and sour recipe, but rather a meat and vegetable dish with a hint of sweetness and oriental flavour. 

Chinese Meatballs (and Vegetables), slightly adapted from the original

Meatballs

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork (or use all beef)
5 medium-sized white mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped - I'm going to guess about 1/2-3/4 cup
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Form into small balls (less than 1 inch) and fry until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Vegetables and Sauce

1-2 sweet red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 tin pineapple chunks, drained, save the juice
1 or 2 chopped fresh tomatoes
1 Tablespoon oil

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice

Heat the oil in a skillet. Use the same pan that was used for the meatballs, providing there are no burned bits. Add the peppers and carrots, stir fry for 5-8 minutes or until tender crisp. Add the pineapple, and meatballs.

Stir together the cornstarch, water, soy sauce and pineapple juice. Add to skillet and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes and cook about 10 minutes. 

Serve over rice.