Monday, January 6, 2020

Mediterranean Chicken Bake



I made this Mediterranean Chicken dish twice in one week -  partly because it was so good and partly because I wanted to measure the ingredients. The first time was I threw in a little of this and a bit more of that. I served it to guests and everyone enjoyed it. 

Last summer I brought back an assortment of paprika from Budapest. This recipe uses sweet paprika, but next time I might try some smoked paprika. The first time I served it with roast potatoes, the second with couscous. 

Mediterranean Chicken Bake

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup red wine (or chicken broth)
1 red onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken thighs. Stir the spice mixture to combine, then add the chicken thighs. 

Drizzle over the olive oil, lemon juice and add the lemon zest. Using your hands, coat each piece of chicken with the mixture. 

Place in a baking dish large enough so that the pieces of chicken do not touch each other. I used a glass dish. Place the onion slices over and around the chicken pieces. Gently pour over the wine. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the olives over. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is very tender. 

Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving. The juices make a lovely sauce for potatoes or couscous. 

I would say this makes 6 servings, depending on the appetites of those you serve. It reheats well. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake



It's the time of year for pumpkin. We were having friends over and I wanted to make a pumpkin cake, but with a twist. Chiffon cakes are always delicious, light and airy, and I decided a pumpkin-flavoured cake would be a good thing. I found a recipe on-line, very similar to my usual chiffon cake recipe, with the addition of pumpkin and spice. I tweaked it and then added a simple chocolate glaze and cinnamon toasted pecans for a cake that everyone enjoyed. 

A few days after I made the cake, a small section was left, sitting on the counter under the glass cake dome. Our son came over for something, saw the cake, went to the cupboard for a plate and helped himself, asked if I minded. Not at all. I was very tickled that he felt so at home, and that he still enjoys his mother's cooking.

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

2 scant cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
7 eggs, separated, at room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. 

3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, water, and oil. Stir until smooth.

4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. 

5. In a large, grease-free bowl (glass or metal), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff.

6. Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the yolk/flour mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining egg whites, lifting and folding until no streaks remain.

7. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes clean. 

8. Turn the pan over and suspend to cool. 

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons cream

Heat gently together and stir until creamy. Pour over the cake.

Toasted Pecans

1/3 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

Use a small cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently. The sugar will caramelize and coat the nuts with a very light coating for a hint of sweetness.  


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Invisible Apple Cake - Gluten Free



Our apple trees produced a wealth of fruit this year. We give them away and still have plenty. I've been making all kinds of apple dishes and finding inspiration on the web. One recipe intrigued me - Invisible Apple Cake. It's name apparently comes from the way the apples are said to disappear into the cake, however, I think the cake disappears into the layers of apples. The "cake" is primarily apples, with a bit of batter holding them together.

It's a great way to use up about 6 good-sized apples and tastes wonderful cold or warm. I've been keeping it in the fridge and cutting a slice for breakfast, topped with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

This recipe is my take on a number of recipes I read. It's not too sweet, and can barely be called a "cake", but I quite like it. 

Invisible Apple Cake

First, make the batter. 

2 eggs
2 Tablespoons maple syrup, or honey, or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a 9-inch springform pan. Lightly grease the edges of the pan and place the parchment paper in the bottom. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs well, until frothy and light, and add the maple syrup (or other sweetener). Beat again. Mix in the cream and butter, along with the vanilla, and finally, gently mix in the almond flour and baking powder. 

Now, add the apples

6 apples, peeled, cut into quarters, and cored
Slice the apples very thinly and place in the batter as they are cut so they don't brown too much. There will be little batter and a lot of apples. Stir carefully to ensure a bit of batter sticks to each apple slice.

Place them in the prepared pan, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or top with sliced almonds. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then cover loosely with a sheet of foil and bake another 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

Let cool in the pan, then carefully remove. Serve warm or cold, with custard sauce, yogurt, ice cream, or whipped cream. 


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.