Soups, stews and chowders are the perfect winter food, although I love them all year round. Here’s an easy chowder recipe that I’ve been using as a main dish. It’s hearty enough to leave you satisfied on its own, but you could always add a slice of bread, or the tortillas that the recipe mentions.
I found the recipe on the Jamie Oliver website. The only changes I made were to use canned corn, to rinse the black beans before adding them, and serving with a dollop of yogurt. A number of people commented on the Jamie Oliver website that their soup was grey, so I think rinsing the beans first helped to avoid that.
This made quite a large batch, which was excellent for leftover lunches for several days.
What you need:
- 1/2 bunch cilantro stems
- olive oil
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 sticks of celery, sliced
- 250 g cooked chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- 400 g tin of black beans, rinsed
- 750 ml organic chicken stock (or water and chicken bouillon)
- 1 fresh corn on the cob or 1 can Peaches and Cream corn
- 1 bay leaf
- cilantro greens
- Plain yogurt (optional)
- 2 corn tortillas (optional)
- 1 lemon
What you do:
- If you need to cook the chicken breast, flatten it a bit first by pounding it with a mallet, rolling pin or heavy frying pan. This will help it to cook uniformly, and you won’t have dried out or raw bits. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan, then add the salted chicken breast, sprinkling on a little chili powder if you want. Let it cook a few minutes per side until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
- Pick the cilantro leaves and set aside for garnishing. Finely slice the stalks. Peel and chop the onion and garlic, slice the celery finely.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan and place it over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and cilantro stalks, then sauté for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should soften but not brown.
- Add the cumin and cayenne to the pan and fry for about a minute. Add the black beans, chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut or shred the chicken breast and add it to the pot. Cut the corn kernels from the cob or use the corn from the can along with its liquid, and stir into the chowder. Allow to simmer for about 5 more minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the lemon juice. Serve with optional tortillas and a dollop of yogurt, and sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.
This really is a stunning and delicious puff pastry appetizer with a feta-cream cheese spread. The photos on Smitten Kitchen look so much better than mine – but I feel like I’m giving you a more realistic version of this recipe, because we can’t all make things look quite so perfect. I love the olive tapenade filling, and the feta spread is amazing. I was able to put it all together, to high praise from the devourers . . . but I’m not going to lie to you . . . it was a little tricky, and doesn’t quite look like the supermodel version I thought I’d be presenting.
It still looks pretty, and tastes amazing, but it was hard to make the rays look as uniform as the original. The biggest problem was that I baked it for double the time the recipe specified, and it was still not flakey in the middle . . . and yet the people loved it.
The only planning ahead you need to do is to thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge, or four hours minimum.
What you need for the tarte soleil:
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or oil from tomatoes, plus more if needed
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 packages puffed pastry (I used La Baguette & l’Echalot)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds to sprinkle (optional)
What you need for the dip:
- 170 grams/ 6 ounces feta, crumbled
- 55 grams, 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt to taste, or none if your feta is very salty
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
What you do:
- To make the filling, combine the sun dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, garlic, olive oil and pepper in a food processor. Blend until finely chopped. Thin it with some olive oil if it doesn’t seem spreadable.
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Roll the first package of puff pastry out on a large piece of parchment paper until it is about 30cm/12 inches in diameter. Use a 30cm round bowl or plate as a guide to cut the pastry into a circle. Put this pastry in the fridge, then repeat the process with the other pastry.
- Place the first pastry, still on its parchment paper, on a baking sheet. Spread the filling over the pastry, leaving about 2cm around the edge uncovered. Dab the edges with water and then place the other pastry on top.
- Place a small glass into the centre of the pastry as a guide, so you do not cut all the way into the middle. Cut the pastry into quarters from the edge of the glass out to the edges, at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock marks. Cut each quarter in half, then each in half again, until you have 32 strips. If the dough becomes difficult to work with you can put it in the freezer to get firmer (or if your freezer is too small, you can just do your best with it, like I did.)
- Remove the glass and begin the twisting; place a finger near the centre circle so that the strip doesn’t break off, and twist each strip a few times.
- Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water and brush it over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes (or much longer in my case) until the pastry is golden brown.
- While the pastry is in the oven, make the feta dip. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until they are smooth.
- Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. To serve, place it on a serving tray and tear off the rays and dip them in feta or spread it on to eat.
Liquorice/licorice – love it or hate it? That often seems to be the way with liquorice. I happen to adore it, so for me these caramels are the perfect treat. The sweetness is balanced out by the fleur de sel sprinkled on top, and I like the like the way the flavours of the molasses and anise combine for an awesome liquorice taste.
These are not too hard to make, mainly stirring a bubbling pot on the stove. I did spend a bit too much money on some organic anise extract to make these, but now that I have it I can make them again!
It helps to have a candy thermometer to make these caramels, but the Cold Water Test works too. You drop the candy into cold water and test to see if it’s at the right stage based on the hardness of the candy once it cools. For this recipe you need to get to the hard ball stage. Here’s more information about the Cold Water Test if you don’t have a candy thermometer. I’ve used it successfully in the past, but found using the candy thermometer makes things one step easier. I bought a digital thermometer because it’s easier to read, and therefore to get the pot off the stove at the right time.
I got this recipe from the Bon Appétit Magazine, The Holiday Issue 2016.
You can keep these for a week or so in a sealed container at room temperature, or longer in the fridge.
Um, and I made two mistakes – too much molasses, and no water – but guess what – they were still awesome!
What you need:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon anise extract (not imitation)
- 10 drops black food colouring (optional – I didn’t use it)
- fleur de sel for sprinkling
What you do:
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the edges stick out over the top of the pan. Lightly coat the parchment with non-stick spray.
- Cook the sugar, condensed milk, molasses, butter, salt, and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a silicone spatula until the mixture is melted and smooth. Bring to a boil and keep stirring until the thermometer reads 246F.
- Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the anise extract, as well as the food colouring if you are using it.
- Pour the caramel into the parchment paper-lined pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Let it sit for about 2 hours to cool.
- Pulling up on the parchment paper, remove the caramel from the pan and cut into pieces. You can wrap them individually in wax or parchment paper if you wish. Otherwise, store them in a container lined with parchment paper so they do not stick.
At first I wasn’t going to post this recipe because it gave me such trouble, so all I have is this iphone photo. After I tasted a cookie, however, I decided I needed to share. These are tasty and softer than many others cookies of this type.
The recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine from Dec 2016, and it makes a huge batch, about 5 dozen cookies depending on how big you make them.
So the problems . . . at first I didn’t read that I had to make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate, so I had to bake them a day later than I wanted to. Then I made the dough, let it rest in the fridge, and started rolling them out . . . and they were too soft to get off the counter! Argh! So back in the fridge with the dough, and I rolled them out right onto the parchment paper, cut the shapes, and got rid of the excess dough. This method worked better. Eventually I found that I could roll them out on the counter if I used more flour than I thought I would need.
Oh yeah, then the first batch I put in the oven got too brown in some places – so watch for that, and don’t roll them as thinly if that happens to you.
And the recipe says to refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes before baking, but I only did this once before realizing it would take the rest of my life to bake all these cookies if I had to wait half an hour for each little pan (I have a small oven, and a small fridge, so it really could have taken forever.)
Oh, and I wasn’t very patient with the decorating . . .
But the successes outweigh the problems, believe it or not! I now have lots of delicious, pretty cookies that I’m happy to share.
What you need:
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, and more for rolling out
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- icing (I used half of this recipe)
- sprinkles for decoration (optional)
What you do:
- Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes; it should become light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Alternately add one third of the dry ingredients then one third of the sour cream until it is all mixed in. The dough will be quite sticky; make sure you don’t over mix it.
- Divide the dough into three pieces, forming a disc, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8-24 hours (I actually kept one of mine for a few days). You could freeze the dough for up to a month, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Work quickly with the dough so it stays cold – if it gets too soft put it in the fridge again. Heavily flour the rolling surface with flour. Roll half of one ball of dough (putting the other half in the fridge) to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Dip the cookie cutter in flour and cut out your shapes, then transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, giving them some space to spread as they bake.
- If you can, refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes. Otherwise, just bake them for 6-8 minutes, two pans at a time, flipping the pans around half way through.
- Place the baked cookies on cooling racks, and allow to cool completely before icing and decorating.
This is a really satisfying vegetarian enchilada. The beans are loaded with flavour, and the avocado adds a lovely creaminess. Making this the first time was a bit of an experiment, as I was testing out what it would be like to bake the enchiladas with the avocado stuffed inside them – and it’s awesome!
The beans need to be soaked a day in advance, and then they take over an hour to cook. I made the beans and sauce ahead of time, so it was really quick to just roll the enchiladas, bake, and eat. It’s a bit of an involved recipe, but it makes a lot of delicious food that is excellent as leftovers.
The recipe for the sauce is from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, and the filling is my own creation. I prefer to make the beans myself instead of using canned ones; when you cook them yourself you can add all those great flavours. Plus it’s really cheap.
What you need for the beans:
- 1 cup dry pinto beans
- about 4 cups vegetable stock, or water and a bouillon cube
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 dry Morita chilis
- 1 stalk celery, whole
- 1 carrot, whole
- 1 bunch cilantro stems, minced
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
What you need for the Enchilada Sauce:
- 2 & 1/4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
The other ingredients:
- 5-6 flour or corn tortillas
- 2 avocados
- the greens from the cilantro, chopped
- lime juice
- 1-2 cups grated aged cheddar
- salsa or hot sauce to serve
- yogurt or sour cream to serve
What you do:
- Begin by soaking the beans the night before you want to cook them.
- Drain the beans and add the broth, or the water and bouillon. Add the onion, Morita chilis, celery, carrot, cilantro stems, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Add a little boiling water if they start looking too dry.
- At this point I cook off any excess liquid by raising the heat and stirring. Keeping all that concentrated liquid retains its flavour, making the beans irresistible.
- Discard the vegetable pieces and bay leaves.
- The enchilada sauce can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Put all the ingredients for the sauce except the lime juice into a medium saucepan. Whisk the tomato paste and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has thickened up a bit. Add the lime juice and take the sauce off the heat. Let the sauce cool before making the enchiladas.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. To make the enchiladas, begin by spreading some of the sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Mix the beans with the chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, and some lime juice. Dip a tortilla in the tomato sauce so that there is some on both sides. Spread the bean mixture in down the centre of the tortilla and top it with some grated cheese. Roll it up and place it in the pan seam-side down. Do the same with the rest of the filling.
- Add any remaining sauce to the top of the enchiladas, and then sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 minutes more. Let the enchiladas sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
A photo cannot portray how addictive these croutons are. So here’s what happens – I make a batch, and most of them get snacked on before they even make it as far as a salad topping. Inevitably I save a few for a salad, and every time it is the Best Salad Ever because these things are just so delicious.
I think the best part is the hint of lemon in them. They’ve also got a little garlic (I use a clove of garlic instead of the powder that the recipe calls for), some thyme and paprika.
The recipe comes from Thug Kitchen. I use a lower baking temperature than the 400 degrees that the cookbook calls for, because I find they get a bit too blackened at the high temperature. I also add a little more lemon juice. Today I made them and (gasp!) I was out of olive oil, so I substituted butter – big thumbs up on that one!
My favourite salad to serve these on at the moment is a caesar salad with a lighter dressing made with yogurt.
You can keep these for a while in an airtight container.
What you need:
- 1/2 loaf day-old bread (about 5 cups of cubes) (I like Olivier’s French Whole Wheat)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons or more of fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
What you do:
- Heat the oven to 300F.
- Cut the bread into cubes.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up.
- Add the bread and toss it right away so all the pieces of bread get coated.
- Pour the bread onto a baking pan and shake it out so it is distributed around the pan evenly in one layer.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the baking so it doesn’t burn.