Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchilada

avocado and pinto bean enchiladas - trustinkim

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:

  1. Begin by soaking the beans the night before you want to cook them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Discard the vegetable pieces and bay leaves.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

avocado and pinto bean enchilada - trustinkim

Homemade Croutons

homemade croutons - trustinkim

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:

  1. Heat the oven to 300F.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up.
  4. Add the bread and toss it right away so all the pieces of bread get coated.
  5. Pour the bread onto a baking pan and shake it out so it is distributed around the pan evenly in one layer.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the baking so it doesn’t burn.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Apple Carrot Bran Muffin

carrot apple bran muffin -trustinkim

Healthy, delicious and moist is the way I’ll describe these. An excellent item to have in the freezer for snacks or quick breakfasts. A great source of fibre, not too much fat or sugar, and I added nuts to up the protein. Did I mention really really yummy? I’ve already made them a half dozen times and given many away.
I found the recipe on the All-Bran website; I bought a box of Bran Buds and realized I was never going to eat it (ew!), so I searched for recipes to use it up. Now I’m purposely going out and buying it so that I can make these muffins. I could probably just make bran muffins, but I’m so addicted to these that I don’t want to risk a change.
I only made a few changes in this recipe; I added nuts, and I soak the raisins in milk. I find the raisins burn too easily on the top of the muffin if they aren’t soaked first.
What you need:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups All-bran Buds cereal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk (or add a tablespoon of vinegar to regular milk to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 cup apple, unpeeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Soak the Bran Buds and raisins in milk for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Add the egg, oil and vanilla to the Bran Buds and stir it in. Add the grated carrots and apples and stir them in too. At the last minute stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the cereal mixture into the dry ingredients only until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins; it makes quite large muffins.
  6. Bake immediately for 20-25 minutes. At 20 minutes insert a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done. If not bake for a few more minutes and test again.
  7. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack. You can eat them before they are cooled, but allow them to cool completely before freezing.

Almond Cake

Almond Cake - trustinkim

At Christmas I made the best-ever stollen, and had a whole lot of marzipan left over that have been storing in the freezer. Recently I searched for the perfect way to use the marzipan, and found a lot of sites where people raved about this Almond Cake recipe from Amanda Hesser’s book Cooking for Mr. Latte. I used the recipe from this site, and I can see why so many people raved about it. The cake is quite moist, has an amazing sweet almond flavour.

To make this cake you will need to plan ahead by giving refrigerated items time to come to room temperature.

The recipe calls for a springform pan, but you could try using a loaf pan. When using a springform pan the cake sinks in the middle, and that might not happen in a loaf pan – please let me know if you do experiment with it!

This cake keeps well for a week or so unrefrigerated. I froze half of it and pulled it out a week later when I needed it.

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted and then measured
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 ounces almond paste, cut into pieces (I used marzipan)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • optional: icing sugar for sprinkling over the cake before serving.

What you do:

  1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and butter it. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2.  Mix the sour cream and baking soda together in a small bowl.
  3. Sift the flour and salt.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste little by little, then beat for 8 minutes.
  5. Beat the egg yolks in one at a time, then beat in the almond extract and sour cream mixture.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and salt, beating just until combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the springform pan and use a spatula to even out the top.
  8. Bake immediately for about an hour; it will be done when you press the top lightly and it returns to its original shape. I rotated my pan carefully half way through baking so it would bake evenly.
  9. After removing the cake from the oven, allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. To serve, remove the ring from the springform pan, and if you wish you can sift a little icing sugar over the top.

 

17th Century Italian Cucumber Salad

cucumber salad - trustinkim

I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. This blogger has a love for old recipes, and published this one, which is her version of a 17th century dish. She says it is “An interpretation of a dish described in Salvatore Massonio’s Archidipno overo dell’insalata e dell’vso di essa, published in Venice in 1627.”

It’s a really simple recipe, as are many of the best vegetable recipes. It should be prepared an hour or two before you plan to eat it.

I substituted sweet onion for regular, as I often do, and I peeled my cucumber because the peel on this variety is a little too bitter for me. In the original recipe the basil is added before refrigerating, but I like to add it at the end so that it retains its green colour. My version of the recipe is for two, and the measurements are approximate.

Please, please, please, don’t use dried basil for this recipe. It’s just not right. It really doesn’t taste like fresh basil. If you have no fresh basil, I’d opt to leave it out. You can freeze basil, so it retains the fresh flavour; if you use previously frozen basil in this salad it will be darker than fresh basil, but will still taste good.

After eating the salad I used the remaining dressing to pickle some cucamelons – these adorable little cucumbers that resemble a miniature watermelon. It was this summer’s garden experiment. The verdict? Cute, but I prefer a regular cucumber. The peel to inside ratio is a little high on the peel side.

cucamelon salad - trustinkim

What you need for two people:

  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 an English cuke
  • a small chunk of an Onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • a few pinches of salt
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

What you do:

  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl or large jar.
  2. Cut the cucumber in half, then slice it lengthwise. Slice as thinly as you can, using a mandoline if you have one. Cut the onion in half and slice it as thinly as you can. Place the cucumber and onion in the container with the dressing and toss it well so it’s all coated.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  4. Before serving chop the basil finely and stir it in.

Enjoy!

No-Knead Rye Bread

no-knead rye bread - trustinkim

Yes, this crusty beauty was soooo delicious! It’s a slight variation on my usual recipe; I’m always trying to replicate my Oma’s Russian Black Bread, but I can never get it quite right. All the experimenting certainly is delicious, though!

So for this version I used part dark rye flour, and used a coating of oil on the outside of the bread for that really crusty finish – awesome results! The bread has just the right density, with a bit of chewiness to it, and the crust is pretty thick with a crisp outer layer. Excellent with or without butter! A little salted butter is magic, though!

If you’re not familiar with the no-knead concept, here’s the gist of it.

A) It’s delicious. Like the bread you pay $6 for at the Farmer’s Market. Or the stuff you eat when you’re on holiday in Europe, and you wonder: why eat any other kind of bread? I know, I wonder the same thing.

B) It’s really cheap

C) It’s so easy. Yes, you have to plan ahead by mixing the dough (2 minutes) then wait (12-18 hours), then wait (an hour or two), then bake (under an hour), then eat (worth it all!). So the actual hands-on time is minimal; you just have to be home to do a few of the steps.

D) It’s SOOOO delicious!

Here are a few ideas for bread toppings: creamy homemade hummus, tzatziki, grilled Japanese eggplant, sun-dried tomato and basil cream cheese spread, or sopping up the sauce in these delicious ouzo prawns. Please share your favourite bread toppings! I’d love to hear from you.

What you need:

  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups water (I use slightly warm water in winter)
  • canola oil for coating the bread

What you do:

  1. Combine the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the water and mix; add more water if needed until you have a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid (not airtight), and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm-ish place, and out of direct sunlight. The dough should double in size and become dotted with bubbles. If your house is a little on the cool side you will likely need the longer rising time. I put mine on top of the freezer, which gives off a bit of heat.
  3. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and place it inside a large bowl, roughly forming it to the bottom of the bowl. Coat the top of the dough in oil using your hands, then turn it out into the parchment paper-lined bowl. Coat the new dough surface dough with oil. Cover loosely with a lid or with some plastic wrap, tucking it in loosely around the edges. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
  4. About 1/2 hour before you want to put the bread in the oven, set the temperature to 475 F  and place your baking pot on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Let the pot heat up, and when the oven has reached 475 F, remove the pot from the oven. Remove the lid from the dough and pick up the dough by gathering together the corners of the parchment paper. Carefully (remember the pot is smoking hot!) place the dough in the parchment paper into the pot.
  5. Put the cover on the pot and bake for 30 minutes while the bread forms its nice thick crust. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more.  The bread should become a deep brown when it is done, and if you tap on it, it should sound hollow.  Remove the pot from the oven, lift the bread out of the pot, remove the parchment paper, and place it on a rack to cool. It needs to cool for about 1/2 an hour before slicing.
  6. This bread has no preservatives, so if you don’t use it up of the second day, it should be frozen.

Japanese Grilled Eggplant

Japanese Roasted Eggplant - trustinkim

I’m always looking for new ways to prepare vegetables, and with barbecue season finally arriving, this seemed like a great dish to try out. It’s got a slightly sweet sauce that glazes the soft eggplant. I will definitely be making this one again.

I found the recipe on this site, where they suggest serving the eggplant in an udon noodle dish. We ate it on its own as an appetizer, but I think it might also be good on small slices of bread, used like a spread.

What you need:

  • 3 japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones)
  • 2 tablespoons red miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or a sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • vegetable oil for griling
What you do:
  1. Whisk the miso, mirin, tamari and sugar together in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook briefly, just until it has thickened. Set aside to cool.
  2. Trim the stems from the eggplants and halve them lengthwise. Cut slits into the flesh of the eggplants, cutting almost through to the skin, but being careful not to slice all the way through it.
  3. Preheat the grill. Brush the fleshy side of each eggplant lightly with oil. When the grill is hot, place the eggplant cut-side down, on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes; the eggplant should have grill marks on the fleshly side, and be somewhat softened.
  4. Turn the eggplants skin-side down, and spread the sauce over the fleshy side, all the way to the edges. Cook for about 3 more minutes. The eggplant should be very tender, and the sauce bubbling up.
  5. Enjoy!

japanese grilled eggplant - trustinkim