Saturday, September 5, 2009

Recipe: Shrimp and Butter Sauce for Pasta

Shrimp & Butter Pasta SauceThere are an amazing amount of different pasta sauces one can make and part of the fun is trying new sauces based on what is in the cabinet. This sauce is a classic example of not wanting to go out to the store to pick up something for dinner. What I did have on hand was enough to make homemade pasta and had some raw frozen shrimp in the freezer. Combining the shrimp with a little butter and fresh garden parsley created a beautiful pasta.

The Recipe: Shrimp and Butter Sauce for Pasta
2 shallots finely diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tbsp butter plus 2 tbsp plus 4 tbsp
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
20 peeled and deviened shrimp (I had thawed frozen shrimp under running water but fresh are great)
1 tsp sea salt
2 diced tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

Fresh ingredients for the sauceYou will want to plan carefully when making this sauce as the shrimp can be easily over cooked and fresh pasta can clump up if it sits too long in a strainer. Heat a large pan to medium heat. You should add the fresh pasta to the pan to finish cooking once drained, so make sure you will have a pan that is large enough. Once heated add the first 2 tbsp of butter, the shallots and garlic. Cook stirring frequently until the shallots are completely cooked down. Add the sea salt, paprika and cayenne and continue cooking for another minute. Add the shrimp, another 2 tbsp of butter and stir until they are coated. If you are making fresh pasta, the water should be boiling by now and the pasta should be ready to go in. You may have to adjust your cooking time for the shrimp depending on the size. For large shrimp cook for 2 minutes on the first side and flip for another two minutes on the other side. Add the last 4 tbsp of butter and diced tomatoes just prior to the pasta, ensuring the butter has melted. Drain the pasta and add to the pan, gently mixing it in. Plate directly on dinner plates or in a large bowl in the middle of the table. Once plated add fresh parsley and enjoy.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recipe: Homemade Pasta

Pasta drying I grew up making this pasta with my Mom and it is one of my fondest childhood cooking memories (up there with chocolate chip cookies, but cookies win because the batter tastes better!). I don't know if it is the joy of making pasta from scratch with the family or the freshness or the pasta but after making pasta from scratch it is very difficult to go back to dry packaged pasta. It is also easier than you think. I find it takes longer to boil the water than to make the pasta!

The Recipe: Homemade Pasta
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water

Making the pasta doughCombine the salt and flour and sift onto the counter. Form a well in the middle and add one egg at a time, carefully mixing the flour in with your fingers, without out letting the egg escape. Add the oil and water and nead with you hands on the counter. If the dough is too dry and not coming together you can add more water and if it is sticking to your hands and counter you can add more water. Nead for a couple minutes until nice and smooth.

Cut into 2 pieces and place one piece in an airtight ziplock so that it does not form a crust on the outside. Work the first piece with your hands into an flat oval that can be placed in the pasta machine (I have heard that you can make it with a rolling pin, but I never tried). Cover the outside with flour so that it does not stick to itself when going through the machine. Starting at the largest setting run the dough through the machine about 3 times. The move down the settings one a time. Feel free to cut the dough in half if it getting to large to work with. Rolling the pasta I like to stop at about the third smallest setting (my machine has 7 settings) as this is nice for linguine or lasagna noodles. Add the noodle maker attachment (I have heard that is the techincal term) and run the dough through. I place the noodles on the back of my kitchen chairs until I am ready to add them to the water but my Mom always coat hangers.

Boil a large pot of water (the more the better), add 2 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of oil just before adding the noodles, cook for about 2-3 minutes, drain and add to your sauce to finish cooking for 1 minute. Serve and Enjoy.
Here are a couple of favourite sauce, tomato and beef pasta sauce recipe and Shrimp and Butter Sauce.
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Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash SoupSquash season is quickly coming upon us and nothing feels more like fall than a beautiful squash and apple soup. This is a variation on a previous butternut squash soup I have made. This makes it a little easier (less labour) and removes the dairy, but keeps all the flavour and silky texture. I enjoy making this soup all winter as organic apples and squash seem to be readily available all year long.

The Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large cooking onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 apples, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 tsp fresh groung nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups of chicken stock
Preparing the veggies

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients except stock in a casserole dish and place in oven for 45 minutes or until squash is very tender, stirring occasionally to ensure the oil and butter coat all the ingredients and nothing browns. In a large pot (you will add the squash to the same pot) heat the stock to a simmer and turn down. Remove squash from the oven and put all the contents in a blender (you may need to do a couple blender batches in you have a smaller blender). Add a small amount of the stock to the blender, start blended slowly and increase speed until very smooth adding stock as required to ensure it will blend properly. Straining the butternut squash soupBE VERY CAREFUL WITH HOT INGREDIENTS IN A BLENDER AS THE PRESSURE CAN BLOW THE LID OFF AND CAUSE BURNS AND A GIANT MESS (speaking from experience), Always place a oven mit or tea towel over the lid and hold tight! Once blended, strain the mixture through a sieve into the pot with the stock. The mixture will have to be worked through the sieve with a spoon and it will take a little work, but this makes all the difference. Stir into the the stock and add sea salt to taste, place on stove top and bring back up to heat. Careful you do not heat too much or the soup will burn on the bottom (this is why we pre-heated the stock). Enjoy!
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recipe: Homemade Organic Campfire S'mores

Campfire S'moresI went camping recently and, for us, one of the great parts of camping is the food which can all be topped off around the campfire with a s'more. Being that we didn't have enough to do taking our three year old, one year and dog camping, I thought it would be a good idea to make my own s'mores from scratch. This is partly because I like a challenge and partly because I don't know where to find organic graham crackers or marshmallows (truth be told I didn't look, but i did find organic corn syrup!). When you are making s'mores I am not sure the first thing that pops to mind is organic but regardless they taste better anyways!

Making MarshmallowsI also thought since this was my first time making graham crackers why not make them my own recipe! After a little research, I found a recipe on 101 Cookbooks and one from the Food Network by Alton Brown and decided that my twist would be making a chocolate graham cracker with white chocolate and homemade marshmallows (they also work great with milk chocolate). I decided not to change the marshmallow recipe as it had science involved and I didn't want them to fall flat. Homemade MarshmallowsI used the a recipe from cooking for engineers for the marshmallows with a tip from Smitten Kitchen to dredge the sticky edges in cocoa powder (I also halved the recipe successfully). Let's get on to the good stuff...

The chocolate graham crackers turned out amazing for a first try and I would definitely make them again even just as a snack for around the house.

Chocolate Graham Crackers
The Recipe: Chocolate Graham Crackers
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup of 1/2 inch cubed frozen unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup frozen brown sugar
1/3 cup of cold honey
3 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Making Chocolate Graham CrackersUsing a food processor, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and buzz until combined. Add the brown sugar and buzz again until combined. Add the frozen butter and buzz again until just evenly incorporated, it should look like cornmeal at this point. Combine the olive oil, honey, vanilla and milk separately and mix. Add this to the food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. You can add more flour if the mixture is not forming a ball. Spread ball out in a 9 x 13 baking dish about 1/2 inch thick and place in the fridge.

Take your dog for a 30 minute walk.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove half the dough and place on a flour counter. Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough into a large perfectly square rectangle (just kidding trim the edges and through them into the freezer). Cut the dough into 2 x 1 1/2 inch rectangles using a pizza roller and place on a cookie sheet. Prepping the Graham Cracker DoughOnce on a cookie sheet, gently poke some holes in the top with a fork, about 4 sets for each. As always, I am using clay so that the bottoms do not burn but you could also use silpat. Be careful if you use a cooking sheet that you do not burn the bottoms! Leave a little space between the crackers as they will rise a bit when cooking. Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 16-20 minutes. The edges will start to blacken if you have cooked them too long. They will also finish hardening once they are removed from the oven. Place on a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough and cut-offs in the freezer. Place all the crackers in an air tight container after cooling to retain crispness!

Now to make the s'more, take one cracker and carefully break it in half. Place a piece of white chocolate on top of one half. Carefully roast a marshmallow on a campfire by finding some coals that are glowing but do not have a flame. Once the edges are bubbling, but not black, remove the marshmallow and place directly on the white chocolate. Using the other half of the graham cracker hold the marshmallow while the roasting stick is removed, squash and enjoy! Careful not to burn your tongue.

PS. Don't tell anyone but you can also make these easily over the stove top (especially using a gas burner).
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recipe: Grandma's Apple Pie

Apple Pie!!!! Okay this one I am excited about, apple pie was always my favourite pie that Grandma would make and even as a finicky little kid who wouldn't eat desserts with fruit or nuts Grandma's apple pie always made the cut. To this day Grandma will always make an apple pie for every family event because she knows it is my favourite (she probably tells all the Grandchildren that though :)). Get the crust recipe

Fresh Baked Apple Pie
The Recipe: Apple Pie

1 standard pie
4-5 medium sized apples in wedges, about 12 per apple (use a baking apple like Cortland that holds it shape but cooks soft)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup of melted butter plus 1 tbsp at room temperature (Grandma uses margarine, but my preference is butter)

Apple Pie ready for the ovenHeat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the apples in the pie crust in sequential circles starting for the outside and working your way in. Add the remaining apples to any holes in the pie. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the apples. In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and melted butter until completely combined. With your hands place dabs of topping around the pie until the topping is complete. Place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Add your favorite vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
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Recipe: Grandma's Peach Pie

My Grandma can make and has made just about every kind of dessert pie there is, but I was lucky enough to learn her secrets when peaches were in season! This recipe is simple and quite quick if you have your crust already made, but the results are a great pie that showcases the ripe peaches! Thanks again to Grandma for sharing some family recipes, her time and thoughts!Get the crust recipe...

Grandma's Peach Pie
The Recipe: Peach Pie

Filling for one standard pie
5 medium sized free stone peaches cut into wedges (about 8 per peach)
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter at room temperature

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Add the peaches to the pie crust. Beat the sugar into the eggs and pour over the peaches. Fresh peachesSprinkle the cinnamon around the top of the peaches. With your finger add a thin layer of butter the edge of the crust. This prevents the juices in the pie from bubbling over. Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven at 400 and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook fro an addtional 30 minutes and enjoy!
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Recipe: Grandma's Pie Crust

This is a special posting for Our Kitchen Island as we made the trip to Grandma's house to learn how to make pies!!! Grandma's pies are very special in our family as Grandma ensures she has pie for dessert at every family event, whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving or just a pool party. They are always seasonal and I think everyone in the family has a favorite except for my Dad who likes them all.
Every pie Grandma makes starts with a pie crust which she either makes fresh or from the freezer. Although I am sharing my Grandma with the world, this post is probably more selfish in nature being able to spend the day with Grandma and learning how to make pie!
Pie Crust Recipe
The Recipe: Pie Crust

1 cup of lard at room temperature
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup boiling water
3 cups of flour

Add water to lard and mix with a fork until uniform. Add vinegar, beaten egg and continue mixing with a fork. Gradually add the flour and mix with your hands once the flour has been incorporated into the wet ingredients. Mix until dough is smooth, the dough should not be sticky to the touch. If the dough is too wet you can put it in the fridge until it is cool. The dough will make about 6 standard pie crusts.Completed Pie CrustsTake 1/6 of the dough and form into a circle with your hands. Place the dough on a well floured surface and with a floured rolling pin roll the dough so that it is slightly larger than your pie plate. Continue flouring the dough as required to ensure it does not stick. Place the dough in a lightly floured you pie plate by folding the dough in half on the table and unfolding once in the pie plate. Add you favorite filling and enjoy!
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recipe: Sunday Crepes with Sauteed Apples

crepes with sauteed applesIt is definitely a sweet start to the day and should probably be saved for a Sunday brunch. I grew up eating pancakes and I loved them, but they just don't compare to crepes for a delectable treat on a special Sunday morning (I like to call the second Sunday each month special :)). The crepes combined with the apples and fresh fruit that make them such a treat. We are making sweet crepes, as opposed to a savory crepe you would use for a dinner or with eggs. I have also made this recipe without fail using rice milk and spelt flour (my son doesn't even flinch).

The Recipe: Sunday Crepes with Sauteed Apples

The Sauteed Apples with Syrup:
3 yellow delicious apples (I have also used Granny Smith and Cortlands)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

3/4 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Fresh Fruit such as: kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, orange supremes etc...

Peel apples and cut into small wedges, each apple should produce about 12-16 wedges. Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter in a skillet and cook on high heat until sugar and butter are melted. Stir frequently, careful not break the apples. Turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the apples are nice and soft. You should be left with caramelized apples and some syrup at the bottom of the pan. If you do not have enough syrup or just want more, you can add additional sugar and butter in the same ratio.

For the crepes combine the egg, vanilla and milk in a bowl and whisk in the melted butter, this is so it does not harden in clumps. Whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Shift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk the mixture until it is silky smooth. This is the only time I use a non-stick pan in my kitchen (I actually keep it separate from my pots and pans and just pull it out for crepes), but I think it is worth it for ease of use. A pan with rounded sides will also make your life easier. Heat the pan to medium low heat, or to a heat that will melt butter immediately but will not brown the butter. Using a ladle pour about 1/3 cup of batter on one side of a buttered pan and immediately tilt the pan so that the batter forms a thin layer over the bottom the whole bottom. It is better to start with not enough batter and add little bit more if needed that starting with too much batter. The batter will start cooking as soon as it hits the pan. After about 1-2 minutes the crepe will need to be flipped once the bottom start to slightly brown. The challenge to flipping is ensuring that you don't fold the crepe on itself, using a narrow flipper gently slide it under one side until you are completely under the crepe and with one motion flip it over. It should only take 20-30 seconds more until it is ready. Set the crepe on a plate and place a piece of wax paper on top and start your next one. The recipe will make about 6-7 crepes and can be easily doubled.

Plate the crepes by laying the crepe flat on a plate and placing about 6 pieces of sauteed apple in a line down the middle. Fold both sides over to form a roll, add a second crepe to the plate and do the same. On top of the crepes add some more apples with a drizzle of the syrup and the fresh fruit. The fresh fruit adds a beautiful balance to the meal.
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