Pistachio Cheese Shortbread

P1040877

A little while ago I attended my friend Megan’s baby shower. There was an enormous amount of awesome food, and her mom Cheri had made these savoury shortbread. She served them with a delicious olive tapenade, and they were my favourite thing on the table. So of course I had to ask for the recipe. I brought them to a Christmas party recently, to rave reviews. With or without olive tapenade they are delicious, but I do recommend a glass of red wine to go with them.

The recipe is from Everyone Can Cook Appetizers by Eric Akis, and makes about 4 dozen cookies which can be frozen or consumed within days of eating. They are great to have in the freezer and pull out if you need a few for a last minute appie or a small bite with a glass of wine.

They require refrigerating the dough for a few hours, so you do have to plan ahead, or make the dough up to a few days ahead of time. Makes life simpler on the day of a party if you do this.

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Beat the butter until very light.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne and salt. Stir in the cheddar, Parmesan and pistachios. Add this to the butter and mix with your hands until you have formed a soft dough.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a solidly packed roll of about 4 cm in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or longer.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the logs into 5mm slices and place them on the baking sheets about 2 & 1/2 cm apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container. You can freeze them too.

Scallion Turkey Meat”balls” with Soy Ginger Glaze

 

scallion meatballs with soy ginger glaze - trust in kim

As I was making these I swore (a lot) that I’d never make them again. I love baking, and I like cooking, but rolling and frying meatballs – this I do not enjoy. I guess the part that bugs me the most is: no matter how nicely I roll them into perfect little balls, they turn into triangles and other fancy shapes in the frying pan. That’s why I’ve renamed the recipe meat”balls.” I was going to call them meat”shapes” but I thought that might scare people away from this recipe.

But. . . when the results came in, and they were a big hit, I realized that like it or not, I will be making these again. I guess that means I just want to please the people I love.

These got rave reviews at a family party that I brought these to this weekend. I wasn’t sure how they’d go over, as there were a lot of kids (aka picky eaters). I didn’t think they’d like the cilantro in the meat”balls”, but they loved it; maybe it’s the slightly sweet sauce that made it go down so nicely. I really liked how tender the meatballs were.

I got this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog, and she adapted it from Canal House Cooking. The only changes I made were to halve the sauce recipe (it was plenty), and grate the ginger instead of chopping.

You can make the sauce ahead of time, and even the meatballs. Because I had to travel a way to my party, I cooked them ahead of time, then just reheated them at the party.

What you need for the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
  • half a bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, preferably toasted
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil

What you need for the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or 1/4 cup sake with 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 whole black peppercorns

What you do:

  1. To make the sauce, combine the brown sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let it boil, stirring, until it reduces by half. You want a thick liquid that coats the meatballs. Oops, I was supposed to strain it through a sieve – do this, or just remove the peppercorns like I did… oh, maybe I left them in. Sorry whoever got the peppercorns.
  2. Combine the meat”ball” ingredients in a large bowl and use a fork to mix it all together. Form them into balls, about 1 tablespoon in each. Use wet hands to do this.
  3. Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some meatballs to the pan, not overcrowding the pan; you want some room to move them around. Fry them until they are nice and browned on the outside (key to flavour!) and cooked through.
  4. Place on a (preferably) heated plate and top with sauce. Serve with toothpicks.

 

Hearty Minestrone

minestrone

This delicious and hearty soup comes from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, and it is definitely a keeper. I like that it has a lot of vegetables in it, but it gets a boost of flavour from the pancetta (use bacon as a substitute if you don’t have pancetta) and the Parmesan rind. I throw the rinds into the freezer when I have them so I can put them in soups and sauces. If you don’t have one, just add a little extra Parmesan in at the end.

What you need:

  •  3 oz pancetta, cut into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 small head green cabbage (I used Napa)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 small hot pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 & 1/2 cups V8 juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Chop the celery, carrot, onions and zucchini into 2cm pieces.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a very large pot oven medium heat, then add the pancetta. Cook until it is lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring often, for 5-9 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper flakes and cook for a minute or two, or until the cabbage begins to wilt. Place the vegetables on a baking tray and set aside.
  4. Add the beans, water, broth, Parmesan rind and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables and V8 juice to the pot and cook about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  6. Discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the basil and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with olive oil and Grated Parmesan cheese.

Ginger Sparkling Water

ginger drink for nausea - trust in kim

This is what you need if you’re suffering from nausea, or a touch of the flu as I have been. I was drinking ginger tea, but my stomach didn’t seem to like the hot drink. Likewise, cold drinks weren’t working for me, so I made this one room-temperature. I didn’t want to buy ginger ale, because I know there isn’t any real ginger in most of them, plus I don’t want all that sugar. Even though there is no added sugar in this, it seems to have a natural sweetness of its own.

This is a drink you can sip throughout the day, making more as you need it. It will keep you hydrated, and hopefully the ginger will help to ease the nausea a little.

You could just use flat water, and you can add a little lemon if you want.

I keep a knob of ginger in my freezer, so I always have some on hand to cook with if I need it.

I think I’ll be drinking this even when I’m feeling better, because it tastes so good, and it’s easy to make.

What you need:

  • fresh ginger, sliced
  • sparkling or flat room temperature water

What you do:

  1. Pour about 2 cups of tap water into a pot (unless you live somewhere tap water that is not safe to drink).
  2. Add about a dozen slices of ginger to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Let the ginger liquid cool down a bit, then put a small ladle-ful into a glass and top it up with sparking water. Taste to see if you want to add a little more ginger water.
  4. Sip it, and refill throughout the day.

You can add more water to the ginger if you start running low; the ginger has more goodness to give if you cook it a second time.

ginger - trust in kim

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich

lemongrass banh mi - trust in kim

A little while ago I posted a recipe for tofu banh mi wraps, which were quite delicious. On Halloween I ate a lemongrass chicken banh mi from a place that my friend John loves in the West End of Vancouver. It was so tasty that I knew I had to feed John’s addiction for these things by making them for him at my house. So I found this recipe on thedilettantechef, and I love the flavour. Marinating the chicken overnight really infuses it with the lemongrass and other flavours. It is topped it off with some homemade pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, Thai basil, cucumbers and optional jalapeño, and you’ve got the best sandwich ever.

I’m a bit of a sandwich snob – if I’m going to eat bread it has to be fresh and awesome, and if I’m going to eat a sandwich it has to be made on the spot, and have interesting flavours. Plus it has to contain a reasonable amount of fresh vegetables. No pre-made, plastic-wrapped sandwiches for this princess! This one passes my guidelines easily.

Be careful of the jalapeño – sometimes they are hotter than other times, so you might want to go easy on them if you don’t love them really hot. The jalapeños I bought for this one were so hot that our mouths and lips were on fire, and it took away from the flavour and enjoyment a bit.

For a later, gluten-free version, I used rice paper wraps to make up some sandwiches – loved that too!

What you need for the chicken:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts(~2 lbs)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon homey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • a few teaspoons peanut or canola oil for frying

What you need for the pickled carrot and daikon:

  • 1 large julienned carrot
  • 1 cup julienned daikon (optional)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • a large pinch of salt
  • a large pinch of red chili flakes

What you need for the sandwich:

  • a fresh crusty baguette
  • cilantro
  • Thai basil (if you absolutely can’t find it you can substitute fresh mint)
  • cucumber, thinly sliced
  • soy sauce
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce
  • jalapeño slices

What you do:

  1. The day before you want to make these sandwiches, or at the very least 3-4 hours before, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Cut each chicken breast or thigh into about 3 pieces. Place each piece between a sheet of parchment paper and pound it until it is about 2cm thick. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a sealable container and coat the chicken with the sauce. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. You can also make the pickled carrot and daikon ahead of time. It needs at least a few hours to pickle the vegetables. Combine all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on it and shake it up a bit, then refrigerate. If the liquid doesn’t quite cover the vegetables, make up a little more of it.
  3. To prepare to build the sandwiches, get the toppings ready. Chop the cilantro and Thai basil, and slice the cucumbers and jalapeño pepper. Add a little bit of Sriracha sauce to the mayonnaise and stir it up. Have the soy sauce and pickled veg on hand, and slice the baguette open hotdog style. I like to let people make their own sandwich, so I just lay all the ingredients out on a platter.
  4. To prepare the chicken, heat a heavy frying pan on medium high and add a little bit of the peanut or canola oil. When it is hot add some of the chicken, not crowding the pan. Fry until the first side gets some dark colour, just a few minutes, then flip it and fry the other side until cooked through.
  5. To serve, sprinkle a little soy sauce on the inside of the bread (you might remove a little bit of bread from the inside before doing this), and spread on a little bit of Sriracha mayo. Add the chicken and some of each of the toppings as you desire, and enjoy immediately.

Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

roasted pumpkin seeds - trust in kim

Better late than never! I bought a pumpkin for Halloween and never got around to carving it :(  My excuse is that I was working on my costume, but really I was just too busy and never got around to carving it in time for the holiday. A craving for some salty goodness encouraged me to find the time to do this, and I realized it really didn’t take long at all – carving the pumpkin would have taken some time, but making these roasted seeds did not.

The secret to these is boiling them in salty water before cooking. This way there is salt throughout the seeds and evenly distributed, not just sprinkled on top.

You could also add some chill or other spices, but I’m a bit of a purist on this one. I only make them once in a year, and share them, so I only get a little taste once a year.

What you need:

  • seeds from pumpkin (mine contained about 1 cup of seeds)
  • salt

What you do:

  1. Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and get rid of any stringy bits.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the seeds in a pot with 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the seeds and place on a baking pan. Salt lightly, then place in the oven. Roast for about 10 minutes, removing from the oven once halfway through to move them around a little.
  4. Remove the seeds from the oven when they are lightly browned and let them cool completely before storing in as airtight container.

 

cereal box character halloween costume - trust in kim

 

Cauliflower Leek Soup

cauliflower leek soup

Because of my ongoing quest for soup recipes, and because of my newly acquired blender I have been searching for more puréed soup recipes. The ingredients are really simple, so in my opinion the success of this recipe depends largely on using a quality broth. I used my homemade chicken stock, but you could use a flavourful vegetable one to make it a vegan recipe. I make up a big batch of stock, then freeze it in portions to use in future soup recipes. A bit of work to do ahead of time, but it’s really handy and makes better soups.

I found this recipe on freshtart.com, and I made two changes: I cut the amount of oil in half (1 tablespoon per portion is too much for me), and I didn’t serve it with the fried shrimp on top, although this sounds yummy.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 heaping cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth (homemade is always best)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 generous handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt to taste

What you do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the leek to it and sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower and garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaf.
  4. Place the spinach and chives in the blender, then add the cauliflower and broth and purée until smooth. If the liquid is hot it will make a bit of an explosion, se be careful. You could purée on very low to start, then allow some steam to escape, and then continue until it is smooth.
  5. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Drizzle with a little olive oil to serve, and add some minced chives for garnish if you like.
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