Manchego Cheese Appetizer

manchego cheese appetizer - trust in kim

My friend Sarah shared this with me the other day, along with a nice glass of red wine. It’s really simple, just some beautiful cheese with a bit of honey and some hand-ground coffee beans . . .  but it is a gorgeous combination of flavours.

Manchego is a Spanish cheese made with sheep’s milk. It is not a pungent cheese, but it’s got a great flavour. The sweetness of the honey and the bitterness of the coffee beans somehow pair perfectly with this cheese.

Sarah found the recipe in a Jamie Oliver cookbook.

What you need:

  • a wedge of Manchego cheese
  • honey – whatever you have in your house, or something fancy
  • coffee beans (don’t use pre-ground beans)
  • baguette (optional)

What you do:

  1. Remove the cheese from the fridge at least an hour before serving
  2. Use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder to grind the coffee beans finely, then make a little pile of them on a decorative cutting board or plate.
  3. Pour some honey into a small bowl, and place it on the board along with the cheese and coffee grounds.
  4. To serve, cut a slice of cheese, then dip it in the honey, and use your fingers to sprinkle on a little coffee. So delicious!

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini, Salami, and Olive Tapenade

antipasto salad with bocconcini and olive tapenade - trustinkim

Here’s a salad for the meat lovers out there, and it makes a good meal salad on a warm day, or a starter if you make a smaller portion. If you have vegetarians or non-pork eaters at your table, the salad is also delicious without the salami. You could always add a boiled egg as an alternative.

It’s an easy recipe, and just requires a bit of chopping. The dressing can be made a day ahead to speed things up.

I visited an Italian specialty store to find the ingredients, but you should be able to find similar items at your local grocery store.

I found this Nancy Silverton recipe on the Food & Wine site, and served it with a lovely homemade no-knead focaccia and a crisp white wine. I halved the recipe, and my version feeds four people. The only change I made to the recipe was to add the salami to the top instead of mixing it in with the dressing. That way it can be left off for people who don’t want any, or want less meat; I think it looks nicer with the salami on top for presenting family-style on the table.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons green-olive tapenade
  •  2 tablespoons peperoncini—stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cups bocconcini
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 small head of iceberg lettuce, halved, cored and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 85 grams (3 oz) thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6 small basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite green olives

What you do:

  1. Combine the tapenade, peperocini and half of the olive oil in a bowl, then toss the bocconcini in it. This can be refrigerated and used later or the next day.
  2. In another bowl combine the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and oregano. Whisk in the remaining half of the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the shredded lettuce in a large bowl, then add the marinated bocconcini and half of the salad dressing. Toss well, then plate the salad on a large platter.
  4. Add the salami strips to the top of the salad and top it with the basil and olives. Drizzle on a little bit more dressing, and serve immediately.
  5. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken over Soba Noodles with Gai Lan

Grilled chicken over soba noodles with gai lan

Here’s a take on a delicious salmon soba noodle meal I posted recently. Although I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog (? please comment if you like or don’t like something – I need to know you’re out there!!!), a lot of people told me in person that they have made this dish and loved it. Me too! And because I loved it so much I worked on altering it a little to make a new meal.

It’s easy, tasty, and can be used for a leftover meal the next day. The additional gai lan is something I really like, as I feel it’s important to eat a lot of veggies, and grilling them is delicious.

This recipe is designed for two people, so double or triple for more people.

What you need:

  • 100 grams chicken thigh, boneless, skinless
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • tablespoons ginger (grated finely)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 100 grams soba noodles
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers 
  • scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
  • tablespoons sesame seeds, most crushed, some whole for garnish (I used black sesame seeds)
  • lime, optional
  • a bunch of gai lan

What you do:

  1. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and crushed pepper flakes. Chop the chicken, then place it in a shallow dish and pour about 1/4 cup of the marinade (the rest will be the dressing) over it. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
  2. Toss the gai lan in some olive oil.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Boil a large pot of water to cook the soba noodles. Follow the instructions on the package (mine took about 7 minutes). Drain the noodles, then place them in a bowl of cold water until they have cooled off.
  4. Toss the gai lan in some olive oil.
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill it for about 5-7 minutes, until it has cooked through.
  6. Grill the gai lan for a few minutes, turning when the leaves on one side begin to brown. Drizzle the gai lan with a bit of dressing, or just sprinkle with a little salt when it’s done.
  7. Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can – I used a vegetable peeler to do this, but a mandoline works well too.
  8. Once the noodles have cooled, drain them and place them in a large bowl.
  9. Place the soba noodles, cucumber, scallions, sesame seeds and some of the dressing in the bowl. Give it all a good toss, adding more dressing if you need it, and some freshly squeezed lime if you wish. Chop and place the chicken on top of the salad and garnish with some sesame seeds if you wish. Serve with the grilled gai lan.

Caramel Topped Cinnamon Buns, an Overnight No-Knead Method

no-knead caramel cinnamon bun - trustinkim

I haven’t made cinnamon buns in over twenty years! Not sure what I’ve been waiting for . . . they are so delicious. The caramel on the bottom (which becomes the top) is my favourite part. And I like to roll the dough really thin so there’s a more of the buttery/brownsugary/cinnamony filling in each little bite. I love Solly’s cinnamon buns in Vancouver, and these are my attempt the recreate that recipe.

Recently I’ve been doing some experimenting with no-knead doughs. For a few years I’ve been making no-knead breads, and I’ve made a lovely foccacia, and now I’m excited to use the same method for these buns. They taste great, but I love that it’s an easy method, and that I can stir it up the night before I want to bake them, and then there’s dough all ready to go in the morning. The dough keeps in the fridge for a few days, so I was able to bake a fresh batch of cinnamon buns a few times.

I found the recipe for the dough on this site, and the basis for the filling and caramel topping here. In the first batch I found the filling didn’t have nearly enough cinnamon, and also not enough brown sugar, so I upped the amounts of both of those ingredients. And for the caramel sauce I used some vanilla ice cream in place of most of the heavy cream.

What you need for the dough:

  • 3 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup melted butter 

What you need for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed down
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

What you need for the caramel:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (or vanilla ice cream, in which case you can add a little less honey)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. A day or two before you want to eat these, begin preparing the dough. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the milk, water, honey and butter.
  2. Combine the milk, water, honey and butter in a large glass measuring cup or small pot. In a microwave or on the stovetop the liquids until the butter has just melted – if it gets too hot, let it cool down before whisking the eggs in. Stir the liquids into the dry ingredients to make a sticky dough. Cover the bowl and let it rise for about two hours. Now put the dough into the fridge for at least 8 hours, and up to three hours.
  3. On baking day begin by making the filling. Beat the butter until fluffy, for 2-3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Now make the caramel in a saucepan. Add all the ingredients to the pan, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring as it bubbles away. It should become a deep golden brown colour.
  5. Butter a baking dish, the size depending on how much of the dough you are going to bake off right now. Any remaining dough can be wrapped and frozen. 
  6. Pour some of the caramel into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Roll the dough on a floured surface, an thinly as you can. Spread some of the filling over it. Roll the dough up, then slice it into individual portions. Place each portion in the pan, arranging them so they are just touching. Let them sit with a loose covering for about an hour.
  8. Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 350F/190C. Bake the buns for about 40-45 minutes. They should be nicely browned on top, and the caramel should have firmed up, and even be candied in some places. Remove the pan from the oven for about 20 minutes before inverting the buns onto a serving plate.

No-Knead Fridge Foccacia

over night focaccia - trustinkim

Easy and delicious, this foccacia recipe has that perfect combination that makes it a winner. This is one of those no-knead breads, and although it’s easier than a typical bread, the long sitting time gives it a beautiful texture and flavour. Apparently the bubbles formed by the yeast perform the same action of creating gluten structure as the traditional hands-on kneading method.

You’ll need at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days, to make this foccacia, but most of it is hands-off time. I prefer the longer sitting time, if I’ve planned ahead enough.

I found this awesome recipe on alexandracooks.com

What you need:

  • 4 cups (512 grams all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • olive oil
  • fleur de sel/ sea salt for topping

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and mix it all together until there are no lumps. 
  2. Loosely cover the bowl with a lid, plastic wrap, or a damp towel held in place with an elastic band. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 12 hours, and up to 3 days.
  3. About 2-3 hours before baking time remove the dough from the fridge. Deflate the dough by pulling it away from the edges of the bowl.
  4. Line two pie plates with parchment paper or butter, then add about a tablespoon of olive oil to each plate. Divide the dough in two balls and place them into the pie plates. Turn the dough to coat it in olive oil. Let the dough sit for 2-3 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  6. After it has risen pour a little more olive oil over the dough, then use your fingers to poke into the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle with sea salt/fleur de sel. Place the dough in the oven immediately. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  7. Place the dough on cooling racks and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Grilled Salmon

Soba Noodles with Grilled Salmon - trustinkim

I have made this recipe twice so far, and I already know it’s going to be a regular in my repertoire. This soba noodle dish is perfect for a warm evening, or any time you want something healthy, not too difficult, and super tasty. You only need to marinate the salmon for a little while, then boil the noodles, slice the cucumbers and scallions, grill the salmon, and put it all together.

I found this recipe on the Food 52 site – one of my favourite sites because they have so many recipes, and everything I’ve tried has been delicious. The original recipe called for cedar-planked salmon – I’m sure that I’m missing out, and I may never know exactly what I’m missing out on, but . . .  I’m probably never going to buy cedar planks to make this – I just grilled mine on foil (and now that I’ve bought a copper grill mat I don’t have to use non-usable tin foil again). If you don’t have a bbq you could pan fry or bake the salmon; it might just be missing that faint smoky taste and smell, but will still be awesome.

I made my own mirin, which was really easy to do. The stuff I found in the store was either really expensive, or didn’t seem to be a very good quality. The homemade version might not be cheaper because you have to buy a bottle of sake to make it, but I think it tastes a lot better. 

Here are some tips for using ginger:  First, I recently had a revelation about the quality of ginger – those great big roots we typically find in the grocery store are really woody, and the flavour and texture of the smaller or newer crop ginger is so much better. So when I find the small kind, which is usually an expensive organic type, I buy a whack of it and put it in the freezer. Whenever I need some I have it on hand, and I just use the finest grater I have to shred whatever amount of the frozen ginger that I need for the recipe. It grates much easier after freezing! It’s taken me a while to figure this out, and this has been a really helpful discovery.

And one note on the sesame seeds – in order to benefit from the nutrients in the seeds you really need to crush them; we can’t digest the whole seeds. So I like to crush most of them, then use a few extra to scatter on top of the dish to make it look pretty. You can do this in a spice grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or just squish them with a heavy pot on top of a cutting board. When you crush them you also get more of a sesame flavour, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to add.

This portion would easily serve four people, but it’s easy to halve the recipe if you’re feeding two. It was good the next day for lunch too!

Because I like to add extra veg to my meals, another time I made this I added grilled gai lan on the side. Bok choi would also be great. 

What you need:

  • 280 grams/10 ounces wild salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • tablespoons ginger (grated finely)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 170 grams/6 ounces soba noodles
  • English cucumber, or several of the smaller onest
  • scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
  • tablespoons sesame seeds, most crushed, some whole for garnish
  • 1 lime, optional

What you do:

  1. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and crushed pepper flakes. Place the salmon in a shallow dish and pour about 1/4 cup of the marinade (the rest will be the dressing) over the salmon. Flip the salmon so that the skin is facing up, then cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill to high. Boil a large pot of water to cook the soba noodles. Follow the instructions on the package (mine took about 7 minutes). Drain the noodles, then place them in a bowl of cold water until they have cooled off.
  3. Remove the salmon from the marinade and grill it skin side down for about 5 minutes. Make sure not to overcook it – you can put a knife in it to test if it’s done and not worry about it looking bad because you’re going to break it apart for serving anyways. When the salmon is done let it rest off the grill for 5 minutes.
  4. Once the noodles have cooled, drain them and place them in a large bowl.
  5. Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can – I just used a vegetable peeler to do this, and it was really efficient for a thin uniform slice. Place the soba noodles, cucumber, scallions, sesame seeds and some of the dressing in the bowl. Give it all a good toss, adding more dressing if you need it, and some freshly squeezed lime if you wish.
  6. Once the salmon has cooled, remove the skin and break the fish into small pieces. You can either mix the salmon into the noodles or put it on top. Garnish with some sesame seeds.
  7. Enjoy!

Awesome Slow-Cooked Beef Tacos

slow-cooked beef taco - trustinkim

If you have a thing for tacos, you’re going to love this slow-cooked beef taco recipe. The blackened peppers, slightly caramelized onions, and red wine give this recipe a lot of depth in flavour. Because of the long cooking time the meat becomes super tender, so you don’t need to buy an expensive cut of meat. It makes enough for a crowd, and also freezes well.

The recipe called for using a slow-cooker, but I don’t have one, so I cooked it in my Le Creuset baker in a low oven for a few hours.

Serve with your favourite taco toppings. Cilantro is always good, extra lime wedges, and your favourite bottled salsa. I didn’t use the Mexican crema that the original recipe suggested. Nor did I get to serve it with the Guacamolata (avocado sauce)  that I love, since there were no ripe avocados available in any of the five stores I tried!. I absolutely love X’nipek on this, a red onion topping that is really easy to make; it adds a little tartness and spice, and looks really pretty on top of a taco.

Some other topping ideas you could make are roasted tomatillo salsa, tomatillo salsa, guajillo chile salsa, or salsa fresca.

I found this recipe on the Food52 site.

What you need:

  • pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • poblano/pasilla peppers
  • serrano chile
  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • medium-sized sweet onion, sliced about 1/2 cm thick
  • clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 430 mL/14.5 ounces canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular if you can’t find these)
  • tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • tortillas (I like the ones made with a combination of corn and flour)
  • 1 tomato, chopped 
  • greens for garnish; I used some salad mix and cilantro

What you do:

  1. Take the beef out of the fridge 1/2 an hour before you begin cooking, then season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. If you have a gas range or a barbecue, turn it on high. Place the poblano and serrano peppers over the flame, turning from time to time, until they are blackened all over. You can also do this in the oven under the broiler. Once blackened, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid. Let them sit for about 15 minutes before removing most of the skin, and cutting out the stem and seeds. It’s okay to have some blackened bits; this will give your tacos some smoky flavour, and makes it look authentic. Roughly chop the peppers.
  3. Preheat the oven to 250F/120C.
  4. Put a large skillet on high heat, then pour in a little glug of vegetable oil. Once the oil is smoking hot add the beef; let it brown on each side for about 2 minutes, then remove it from the pan, keeping the drippings to cook the onions in.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onions, stirring often to avoid burning. Cook until they have softened and become browned. If they seem too dry you can add a bit more oil to the pan.
  6. Add the chopped chile peppers and garlic, and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes, making sure that the garlic does not burn.
  7. Add the red wine and stir to scrape up all the nice brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by half, then add the diced tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then place the beef back in the pot.
  8. Put the pot in the oven an cook for 2-3 hours – this will give you lots of time to prepare the toppings, or make your own tortillas, and enjoy a cerveza. My beef was done somewhere after the two hour mark. It will be easy to tell if it is done – the meat will fall apart when you pull it with a fork. When it is done, shred the beef using two forks.
  9. Taste, then add more salt and pepper if you think it is needed. Sprinkle the chopped fresh oregano on top.
  10. To warm the tortillas, wrap them in a clean damp cloth and microwave on high for 1 minute.
  11. To serve, place some of the shredded beef in the middle of a tortilla. Top with a little bit of the pickled onion, chopped tomato, or whatever other topping you like. It’s nice to squeeze a little lime on top.
  12. Enjoy! Please let me know if you enjoyed the recipe, if there are any typos, or what you did differently!