Saturday, May 29, 2010

Watermelon-Basil Wine Cocktail

This is not a cooking recipe, or an elaborate baking "formula"...just a little liquid treat on a hot saturday afternoon.
At the farmer's market today I got a big watermelon for 5 bucks, and a nice plant of basil(that I really hope I don't end up killing...). I also got a bottle of wine for diner, a really nice South African Sauvignon Blanc called "Two Oceans".
So when I got home I had a BIG slice of melon, potted the plant(under the watchful eye of my cat...) and made myself a nice summery "adult" smoothie:

Watermelon pieces,
Ice cubes,
White wine,
3-4 leaves of basil,


Pour in a wine glass to 3/4 full
Fill up with cranberry juice
Decorate with a slice of melon and some basil leaves(to make nice for the picutre...)

Very refreshing.

I should add I got the inspiration from Katerina...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Millet salad with Mediterranean flavors...

It's summer time, almost, so there will be a lot of salads coming on this blog. This is one I made a few days ago but kept the pictures for a later week later. I have a full time job now, food-related, so my cooking/baking time as gone WAY down! But I'm still around...
So this salad was thrown together after looking in the fridge and grabbing whatever was in there:

1 zucchini
3-4 button mushrooms
1 clove garlic
Leftover millet from last week "bread of the week"(about 1/2 cup was left...)
2-3 big pieces sundried tomatoes
BIG chunk feta cheese
about 1/4 cup roasted UNsalted sunflower seeds.

I started by sauteeing the zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil, with oregano(lots of it!!), salt, pepper, and paprika.
In a big bowl I mixed the cold millet, feta, sundried tomatoes and sunflower seeds with cracked black pepper. Didn't add salt because feta is pretty salty already...
I threw in the hot sauteed zucch's and 'shrooms to make the cheese soften a bit.
I then mixed in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.

So fresh and delicious.

Only thing missing is a nice cold glass of white wine...

Monday, May 24, 2010

White Chocolate, Fruit and Walnut Oatmeal Cookies.

It's been a while since I made cookies...and I chose the first really hot day to turn on the oven and bake some. Oh well, ...I can handle the heat...
These cookies are really nice. I took the basic recipe in the "healthy oven" book, so they're somewhat "healthier" than the usual chocolate-nut-fruit cookie. They each have about 80 calories but they taste like they're 200 calories each, they're so nice and sweet and soft. Nice way to induldge...


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

6TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature(today it was almost melted...)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 TBSP vanilla

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried fruit mix(apricots and cranberries were used here)
1/3 cup chopped nuts(i used walnuts...)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer or by hand with a rubber spatula until nice and creamy.
Add egg and vanilla and mix until all is smooth.
Add the flour to the butter mix, in 3 parts, and with the last part throw in the fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips. Mix until combined but without overmixing.
Drop heaping teaspoonfuls on an oiled baking sheet, 1 inch appart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes(mine took 10...)
Cool on the sheet for a minute before transfering to a tray and cool completely.
This will give you about 2-3 dozen cookies.

I find the white chocolate chips is a nice twist on the oh-so-popular regular chocolate and the apricots come out nicely too!

Have a glass of milk on the side and pretend it's Christmas...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Maple-Millet Bread

Bread of the's a big one! A little too big I'll probably end up freezing half of it. But it turned out pretty nice. Very soft and tender with a touch of sweetness.
I used millet grains for something different, and because it's been a new "discovery" this past year. It's grown mostly in Africa, but we don't eat it a lot here. Too bad because it's very tasty, has a mild nutty flavor to it. I like cooking it like rice and making salads with it...there's one of those coming this week! So here I decided to try it in bread and it gave it a nice texture, and extra fiber. For the sweetness I used maple syrup, but it comes out very subtle.
Here's the recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2-3 cups bread flour
1 cup cooked millet
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP butter
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water.

Start by cooking the millet and cool a bit. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and millet.
In a sauce pan heat up the milk, water and butter up to 120-130F. Add maple syrup and pour in the flour mix. Make sure the liquid is not over 140F or it might end up killing the yeast and the dough won't rise. And that's a big waste of flour...
Stir with a fork, transfer to your favorite kneading surface and knead away! This one got a little sticky and I ended up adding quite a bit more flour, almost 3/4 cup, but I think it's because I had too much liquid. I noticed when the millet was done there was a bit of water left at the bottom of the pot so I threw it in the milk-water-butter pot...I had almost 2 cups of liquid...little too much. Anyway, when the dough gets to the right consistency put it in an oiled bowl and rise for about one hour, until the ball is doubled in size.
Punch it down, knead it again gently and give it a shape, either for a loaf pan or baking sheet. This time I just cooked it on a sheet, for something different. Cover with plastic wrap loosely and let it rise a bit more, 30 minutes or so.
Slash it 3 times diagonnaly about 1 inch deep, brush with egg whites and if there's leftover millet sprinkle some on top. That's not necessary but it gives the loaf a snazzy look!

Bake in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool and enjoy your fresh homemade bread!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jamie's Coleslaw

I LOOOOOVE Jamie Oliver. I love his food, his ideas, the simplicity of his recipes and his enthusiasm about cooking. And this Food Revolution he's got going right now in the States is amazing. I really hope people listen to him because he's right about everything. This obesity issue is getting out of control here in North America, something has to change.
In walks Jamie Oliver...
I finally got his book called "Cook with Jamie". It's a really nice one, with nice pictures, tips and of course amazing recipes!
I usually don't follow recipes to the T, I buy cook books for inspiration mostly. Like this one here. It's a simple coleslaw, but I got the inspiration from Jamie's book. And it's really nice. I usually don't go for creamy slaw, I love vinegary type dressings but I had to try!

Start by thinly chopping half a green cabbage. Then shred 2-3 carrots, 1 apple and finely slice a few green onions(the book called for red onions, but I only had green so...). Chop a big handfull of fresh parsley, add to the rest of the ingredients with salt and pepper.
Add 2-3 spoonfulls of light mayo, a squeeze on dijon and the juice of a lemon.
Mix it all up nicely and enjoy!
It went really well with my cranberry-orange bread!!

I bet raisins or dried cranberries would be really good in here too!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Bread

I decided to go for a sweet bread this week. And since I had one lone orange wrinkling in the fruit bowl, too dry to eat, it sparked the idea for this. The zest was still salvagable and I managed to get a little juice from it. And what goes good with orange? CRANBERRIES!! Plenty of dried fruit in my pantry! So giddi-yup!

2-3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 egg
zest of 1 orange, plus its juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1- 1 1/2 cup warm water at 120F

First off, grate the zest, and squeeze the juice of an orange. Set aside.
In a big bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and orange zest.
Heat the water to 120 and add the orange juice and cranberries. That way, the crans will soften a bit!!
Pour the liquid in the flour mix and whisk with a fork, add the egg and another cup bread flour. When it starts coming together transfer to the kneading surface and keand for 8-10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. When it's all smooth shape into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl and rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Gently punch it down, knead for 1-2 minutes and shape to fit a loaf pan, or into an old-fashionned loaf and rise again for about 30 minutes, until double in size.
*I was gonna do it on a tray but then decided otherwise. I like the big slices I get in the loaf pan, the bread always gets nice and tall.
After the second rise, brush with eggwhites and sprinkle some oats on top.
bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes.
When it's done it'll sound hollow when tapped.
Take it out of the pan immediately and cool on a rack.
I had a couple slices for lunch, with goat's cheese and coleslaw...the sweetness of the bread go really nice with the tartness of the cheese.

It'll make great french toasts too!!

I'm sending this over to Yeastspotting!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baked-in-Foil Cod with Lemon and Thyme.

This is the first fish post on this blog. Surprising considering I really love fish and seafood and I eat a lot of it. But I usually have salmon or trout, and I always cook it the same way. It will be on here eventually...
I was going to get salmon for diner, actually, but I noticed at the store there was right next to it some fresh cod. Nice and thick filets, not too expensive. Oh Joy! Cod is my favorite white fish. It's so light and flaky, and easy to cook, like I did tonight wrapped in foil. Only 4 ingredients went into that. Well, 5 if you count the fish. And it cooks in no more than 10 minutes...
Here's how it went down:
First I cut a piece of foil big enough for that particular piece. I cut 6 lemon slices, lay down 3 on the bottom, along with some fresh thyme, sliced green onions and a few knobs of unsalted butter, salt and pepper. Then I lay the fish on top, and salted it again and pepper, a few more SMALL knobs of butter, the 3 lemon slices(on top of the butter), fresh thyme and green onions.


Wrap it snuggly in the foil, leaving a few small openings at both ends. In the oven at 400F for about 10 minutes, and it's done. If you're not sure how to tell the doneness, the fish will no longer be transparent, and will flake easily at the touch of a fork.

After: see how it opaque now...

This time I sliced the onions a little too big, they were not totally cooked but they're good raw so it wasn't a big deal.
Also the juice and melted butter at the bottom makes a nice little drizzle,
and since it was all done in foil, there's no mess, and the pan used won't be dirty=no washing...well, just a quick rincing!

Fish is awesome!

p.s. the orange vegetable on the first picture was sweet potato. cut up, steamed and dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Red Pasta Sauce almost like Mom's.

When it comes to pasta sauce, mom's always the best. It's comforting, familiar and when you're a kid what's funner than slurping a spaghetti and getting sauce all over your face?!
Today being Mother's Day I decided to make a spaghetti sauce the way she used to make it(and still does I'm's been a while since last time I had some...hint hint for my next visit;)) Of course mine NEVER tastes the same as hers, even though I use all the same spices...I know she makes it in a pressure cooker, I don't have one of those so I just cook it slowly on the stove. But I doubt that makes a difference...
Anyway, so whenever I make this I try to re-create the sauce I grew up with, it comes pretty close but not quite. I have to admit I sometimes throw in stuff that wasn't part of the "original", like in this case a green chili pepper(partly because the thing was dying in the needed to be used!).
Alright, here are the ingredients:

1 big onion
1 branch celeri
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
1 green chili pepper(optional, if you don't like heat used green bell pepper, or none at all)
1/2 cup mushrooms
Lean ground beef, about enough for two small burger patties(sorry, didin't weigh it..)
1 big can whole or diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
salt, pepper and paprika
1 bay leaf
dried chili flakes(however much you think you can handle...)
1 TBSP sugar
dried herbs: oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, tarragon.

Cut all the veggies really small, or pulse in a food processor. Sautee the carrots, celeri and onions in a little bit of oil, for about 2 minutes, and salt and pepper right away. I like to season every layer of new flavor I throw in, as it comes along...Next add the mushrooms, pepper and garlic, season with paprika. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes...
Add the beef and brown nicely.

This is where a lot of people deglaze with red wine, and I sometimes do so as well, but I don't really keep wine in the house that much, and Mom never used it so this is how it is.
Pour in the can of tomatoes, sauce and season with more salt and pepper, sugar, dried chili flakes and the bay leaf. When it starts bubbling turn down the heat and simmer for AT LEAST one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so. In the case of a nice spag sauce, the longer it simmers the better.

Add the tomato paste and the dried herbs near the end, about 15-20 minutes before it's done(it's a guessing game, I know, but it's pretty easy to tell...).
Adjust the seasonnings if you need to, cook some spaghetti and enjoy your comforting bowl of pasta!......well tonight I realized I was out of regular spaghetti so I used soba noodles.

And as usual, it wasn't quite like Mom's, a tad too spicy because of the green chili and the load of chili flakes, so I added a bit of milk, slowly while stirring, to tone it down. I know it sounds weird but it worked...cream would do too!

Oh and don't forget the parmesan or top!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Carrots are the one vegetable I always have in the fridge no matter what. I like them mostly raw but when they cook they get really sweet, almost like a different vegetable. I love making soups with carrots because of that! And currys. Well, actually this soup is a curry soup so there you go!! Carrots are best friends with ginger, and ginger is a main component of curry get what I mean, right?
So at the moment the vegetable situation is not that hot in my fridge, I reeeeeally need to go to the market this that's when that never-ending bag of carrots comes in handy! And those never ending bags of lentils also!!

For this soup, I used:

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 branch celeri, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 golf-ball size FRESH ginger, peeled and grated(or finely chopped)
4-5 carrots, peeld, chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup red lentils
3-4 cups chicken stock(start with 3, the lentils will thicken the soup..)
salt, pepper, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, red chili flakes

Throw all the veggies in a pot, with the broth and seasonnings. When it starts to boil add the lentils, and simmer util everything is cooked.
Puree in 2 batches, to make it all nice and smooth. I blend it twice, so that it's REALLY velvety and creamy-like(but no cream!!). I may have added a bit of milk because I put in a lot of chili flakes, it was a bit too spicy. But that's totally optional, go with your taste buds, they never lie!!

I sprinled a bit of parsley on top to be fancy, and to make nice pictures!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sweet Potato and Olive oil Bread

Bread experiment of the week was another success! I thought about it a few days ago when a friend of mine talked about sweet potatoes and how good they are...That gave me the idea, so I kinda threw this all together this morning. The sweet potato taste here is very subtle, but it gives the bread a nice yellow-ish color and a great texture. Especially with the olive oil! I used light-flavored olive oil, so the taste would not be too over-powering. When I do this again though I will use a bigger potato, or a bit more honey, to make it sweeter. The one taste that comes out as a nice surprise is the bay leaf I threw in the pot while cooking the potato. Also subtle but evident. Anyway, I really like this bread a lot, it's really soft inside, and it'll be great for sweet or savory meals.
It also, like the cheddar-jalapeno bread form last week, got HUGE in the oven, and crooked because of my slanted floors...I should really find a way to fix that...


3 cups bread flour, +1/2 cup for kneading
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt

1 sweet potato
1- 1 1/2 cup potato cooking liquid
4 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP honey
1 bay leaf, 2-3 sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper

Start by cooking the potato in salted water, with the bay leaf and thyme. Reserve the liquid and mash the potato with the oil, salt and pepper. Add honey to the potato water and dissolve, let the water get to 120F.
Meanwhile, mix the flour, yeast and salt.
When the water hits the right temperature, pour it in the flour/yeast mix and stir with a fork, add the mashed potato and mix until it forms into a ball, if you need more flour, add flour. When it's no longer sticky transfer to a kneading surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding flour if necessary, or if the dough is too dry add warm water. It should get really nice and smooth, then transfer to an oiled container and let it rise in a warm place, covered, until double, about 45-60 minutes.
After it's rised, deflate it and transfer the dough to a floured surface and gently fold: to do this I flatened the dough, folded the top end to the centre, the bottom end to the same center, and same thing with the sides.(if this sounds weird...just knead it gently, it'll be the same...)
Shape into a thick log and put in a greased loaf pan, and let it rise a second time for 35-40 minutes, again until it's doubled in size.
Brush with milk, or butter, or egg white. I used milk this time.
Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped. Unmold right away and let cool on a rack.

Get you favorite jam or cheese and dig in!

This is heading to yeastspotting!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Double-Chocolate and Walnut Muffins

Muffins of the week this week are kind of like a cross between muffins and...dare I say it,... cupcakes. Before I started this blog I used to make always the same muffin recipe, changing it a bit every week, but it was always the same "base". Now, I've been trying new recipes so that a)I'd have new "material" and b)you the readers don't get bored!! I have a cook book of ONLY muffins and cookies, which I love. And that "Healthy Oven" I always talk about, where this one came from, has a lot of good muffin recipes. As always, for these I added stuff because I can't just make a recipe like it's supposed to be and I have to admit, I really have a thing for walnuts, and other types of nuts and seeds. As for the chocolate chips, well, how can you go wrong with that?!

*On a side note, when I worked in Whistler at Mogul's coffee shop where I was doing the baking(best job of my life!!)and a little cooking, we were famous for our muffins. Whistler being a ski resort, people would come in at 7 am before hitting the slopes and grab a couple of muffins for the gondola ride. I would start at 5:30am, making dozens of muffins and by noon they were usually gone. Anyway,...we had a basic recipe, kinda healthy with oats and buttermilk, dark brown sugar,.. I wish I'd written it down...anyway so we could put anything we wanted in them, to keep in interesting. One day I was gonna do choco chip, but then decided to substitute coco powder for some of the flour and make it even more chocolate(don't know why the girls before me never thought of it...). They were so good! These double chocolate muffins became MY specialty. For some reason the other baker girl never made them, or not like I did anyway. Woah ok I'm rambling...My point is these ones remind me of my double-choco muffins from Mogul's, minus the oats. I should try them with oats next time...
Here's Sarah's recipe for chocolate fudgy muffins:

Ingredients, for 10-12 muffins:

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour(or all-purpose)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder(*you can sift it but i didn't because I kina like lumpy cocoa in muffins,...but that's just me.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate(1 square "Baker's chocolate").
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee powder

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walunuts

-Preheat the oven at 350F, set the rack in the middle and oil spray muffin tins.
-Mix all the dry ingredients, walnuts and chocolate chips, and set aside.
-Melt the chocolate, let it cool a bit and mix in the melted butter.
-Transfer to a medium bowl, add sugar, appelsauce and all the other wet ingredients and whisk until frothy.
-Pour the wet mix in the dry mix, stir until it just comes together.
-Scoop in muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.
-When they're ready they will spring back when you press on them, or do the toothpick thing...
-Cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes and unmold carefully.

*If it's somebody's birthday, or if you just need a treat, go for it and ice them with your favorite icing!!

The coffee powder comes out really nicely in these. So they go great with a cup of joe!!