Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

This flame-roasted tomato salsa is excellent any time of year, even in the cooler seasons when it is challenging to access super tasty tomatoes. It’s really easy to whip up, but you do need to plan ahead so that you will have some roasted garlic on hand. I’ve started roasting a bunch of garlic bulbs and freezing them so I can make this awesome salsa anytime I want. I have served it with tortilla chips, but my favourite way to eat it is on beans and rice.

Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the Las Margaritas fresh salsa – it is just so good! But I can only find it in one store, and it is often sold out. So the difficulty finding it, combined with the nearly $8.00 price tag, made me start looking for a way to make it at home.

And . . . I found it! In the Thug Kitchen Cookbook! Yay!

I only made one change to the recipe, and it was a tiny one. I used sweet onions, and typically use them in all my recipes that call for onion because they don’t make me cry as much, plus I think they taste better. The most recent time I made this salsa I didn’t have any green onions, and it was still really good without them.

If you are looking for a fresh tomato salsa you can find one here, and this is a link to a creamy avocado salsa called gaucamolata. This roasted tomatillo salsa is also really flavourful.

What you need:

  • 1 can (398mL / 14.5 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-3 Serrano peppers, minced (depending on how much heat you like)
  • a whole head of roasted garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste

What you do:

  1. Chop the onion, green onions, cilantro and Serrano pepper.
  2. Put all the ingredients (except for the salt) in a blender, or use an immersion blender to whiz everything up. Leave it a little bit chunky.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

Avocado and Salsa Toast

Friends have been encouraging me to share some of my simple, go-to recipes. I often don’t think of them as a recipe, because it’s something I throw together based on what I happen to find in the fridge.

Today I had some leftover avocado, leftovers of a gorgeous fire-roasted tomato salsa (recipe to come soon!), and some sourdough bread. Although the rest of the continent seems to have eaten a lot of avocado toast, I had not until today!

The hardest part of this recipe is buying the perfectly ripe avocado.

I also made a sunny-side-up egg so I could dip the toast in the egg yolks – mmm good!

What you need:

  • a slice of bread – I used sourdough
  • half an avocado
  • your favourite salsa
  • hot sauce (optional)

What you do:

  1. Mash the avocado up with a fork. Add a bit of salsa and mix it in.
  2. Toast the bread. Top it with the avocado and hot sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pâté (Instant Pot Version)

This week I bought an Instant Pot, so I’m now busy trying recipes to get a sense of how it works. I’ve tried out a few recipes, and I’m learning how to tweak them in ways that I enjoy. You can totally make this in a pot on your stove too!

This one is a delicious winner! It has a nice creamy texture and lovely flavours of mushroom, white wine, butter and olive oil. So nice on a piece of toasted bread or crostini! It satisfies those umami cravings. For me this was a part of a picnic spread of cheese, mushroom pate, bean salad, and some veggies.

I made a few changes to the original recipe: In my instructions I have clarified a few details that were not well-described in the Instant Pot Recipe Booklet, and some that were omitted. I used a combination of dried mushrooms instead of just porcini. I also cooked off some of the moisture after pressure cooking because it seemed to liquidy. I added pepper at the end instead of before cooking (I think cooked pepper tastes more butter), and I topped up the liquid in the dried mushrooms with white wine instead of water – yum! I transferred my mushroom mixture to a food processor instead of using an immersion blender because I wanted to make sure I had a really creamy paté; I’m sure the immersion blender does a nice job too – and who doesn’t love fewer dishes!!! I also used a high quality olive oil to add in the last stage. I might also drizzle some on the top in the future!

Next time I will add a sprig of rosemary to the pot before it cooks – doesn’t that sound delicious?

The recipe serves 4-6 people. Or two. If you are self-isolating or just selfish.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
  • boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (use olive oil for vegan recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 500 grams (1 lb) cremini or white button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (plus a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons good quality Parmesan cheese, finely grated (use vegan Parmesan for vegan recipe)

What you do:

  1. Place the dry mushrooms in a measuring cup. Pour boiling water over them until it reaches just over 3/4 cup. Push the mushrooms down, then put a tight lid or plastic wrap over the measuring cup.
  2. Slice the shallots and mushrooms.
  3. Add the olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot, then sauté the shallots for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they are golden brown (mine didn’t get golden, and it was awesome anyways).
  4. Pour the 1/4 cup wine in and allow to evaporate.
  5. Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, along with an extra splash of wine. Add the salt and bay leaf.
  6. Close and lock the lid, and then set the Pressure Cooker to 12 minutes. When the time is up, use the Quick Pressure Release.
  7. At this point I sautéd off a bit of the liquid – you can decide if you think this is necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
  8. Once slightly cooled, add the cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until smooth.
  9. Enjoy on crostini or whatever form you choose!

Fig & Anise Bread

fig and anise bread - trustinkim.com

The other day my sister was lamenting the fact that Terra breads had closed during the pandemic because she was craving their fig and anise bread. So I said, “Why not bake it yourself?” 

My sister wasn’t really into that idea, so I decided to give it a whirl, and it ended up being quite awesome!

I used my super easy no-knead bread recipe, and added figs and aniseeds to it. It was really delicious, and I only made one modification to my first try – more aniseeds. I thought that one tablespoon would have been more than enough, but it was actually quite a mild flavour. So I upped the amount in the next batch.

After I made the bread, my guy was quite jealous that it was going to my sister, so I ended up cutting off a portion for him – gotta try to please everybody! I have more friends who are fanatics about this bread, so I look forward to making more loaves to share with them.

If you give this recipe a try, please do let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it! The comments let me know if there’s anybody out there who is interested in my recipes.

This bread is lovely with a little bit of butter, cream cheese or goat’s cheese. 

If you have a hard time finding anise seeds, you can buy them in store in Vancouver or online at Gourmet Warehouse.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup dark rye flour (or whole wheat, or only white flour if that’s what you have)
  • 2 & 1/4 cups white flour
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons whole aniseed
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups room temperature water

What you do:

  1. Combine the flours, salt, yeast and aniseeds in a large bowl and mix them together.  Add the water and mix it in with a spoon, adding the figs part way through the mixing. You will end up with a shaggy, sticky dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm-ish place, and out of direct sunlight. The dough should about double in size and become dotted with bubbles. If your house is a little on the cooler side you will likely need the longer rising time. 
  3. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and place it on a countertop where it can sit undisturbed. Coat the parchment paper with a bit of oil using your hands, then turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cover the dough loosely with some plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
  4. About 1/2 an 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. Pick up the dough by gathering together the corners of the parchment paper. Carefully (remember the pot is smoking hot!) place the dough (still on the parchment paper) into the pot. I cut away any really long bits of parchment that are sticking out of 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 the loaf on a rack to cool. It needs to cool for about 1/2 an hour before slicing.
  6. Enjoy!

fig and anise dough rising -trustinkim.com
dough after the first 12-18 hours

fig and anise dough - trustinkim.com
dough after second rising

fig and anise loaf - trustinkim.com
the loaf, fresh out of the oven

 

Rye Bread, like Oma made

Rye Bread - trustinkim.com

My Oma made the best bread. Nobody that I know of in my family ever learned quite how to make her bread the way she did. I’ve tried a number of times to recreate it, including baking it in a brick oven once like she did sometimes. This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to making bread that tastes like hers, and I think the potato water is a big part of that. Also the method of baking it in a lidded dish helps to create that nice dark crust.

This is a version of the popular no-knead bread making method. I added the potato water to make it more like Oma’s bread. No-knead bread is super easy to make, and so delicious. Now that my favourite local bread bakery (Terra Breads) has closed due to the pandemic, I’m making this bread regularly.

The potato water adds some flavour and gives the bread a nice texture. To make potato water you can boil some potatoes ahead of time for another meal, then save the cooking water in the fridge until you want to make this bread. Just bring the potato water to room temperature before mixing the dough.

I used a lidded baking dish for this, my le Creuset French oven. At other times I’ve used a Romertopf baker. I imagine a casserole dish with a lid could work too. You could bake it without a lid too, which I haven’t done with this recipe yet.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup dark rye flour
  • 2 & 1/4 cups white flour
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups room temperature potato water

What you do:

  1. Combine the flours, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the potato water and mix it up. You will end up with a shaggy, sticky dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm-ish place, and out of direct sunlight. The dough should about 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. 
  3. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and place it on a countertop. Coat the parchment paper with a bit of oil using your hands, then turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cover the dough loosely with some plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
  4. About 1/2 an 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. Pick up the dough by gathering together the corners of the parchment paper. Carefully (remember the pot is smoking hot!) place the dough (still on the parchment paper) into the pot. I cut away any really long bits of parchment that are sticking out of 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 by the second day, it should be refrigerated frozen.

Chili Lime Pepitas

chili lime pepitas - trustinkim.com

Here’s a tasty and simple way to spice up some pepitas/pumpkin seeds. It’s a nice little appetizer, or a snack with your favourite beverage. Vegan, gluten-free and all that!

It’s super simple:

  1. Squeeze some lime onto a bunch of pepitas in a baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle on some salt and Ancho chili powder, or any chili powder that you have on hand.
  3. Throw them in the oven at about 250F for 10-15 minutes, until they get a bit crispy. If you hear them popping you know it’s time to take them out. Just make sure you move them around in their baking dish once or twice through the process.
  4. Yum! Once they are cooled you can store them in an airtight jar for a few days – if they don’t get gobbled up right away!

Baked Falafel Loaf with Tarator Sauce

falafel loaf - trustinkim.com

Love falafel, but hate to deep fry? Then this one’s for you!

It’s got all the yummy and protein-y goodness of a falafel, minus the deep frying. It’s super easy to whip up if you’ve got a food processor. It is delicious. (this photo doesn’t do it justice; I’ve made this a number of times, and we end up eating it before I remember to take a photo. So finally I got this shot, not the best, but not nothing.)

I served it with a tomato and cucumber salad on the side, and my guest made it into a pita sandwich – both were delicious! In my opinion it must be served with this delicious tarator sauce, but maybe you have your own favourite.

This recipe came from the awesome cookbook called Taste of Beirut by Joumana Accad. I’ve taken it out of the library so many times and tried a whole bunch of recipes, and I think I finally need to buy this book!

The recipe says to serve at room temperature, but it was also good straight out of the oven. I didn’t change much with this recipe, just the order in which the ingredients are added to the food processor. The most recent batch I made I halved the recipe, using one egg. It was plenty for dinner for two plus leftovers – love leftovers!

What you need for the loaf:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/ 2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup cilantro (I like to use the stems too)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

What you need for the tarator sauce:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • salt to taste

What you do for the loaf:

  1. Heat the oven to 375F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add the chickpeas, eggs, bread crumbs, onions, parsley, cilantro and garlic to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture becomes doughy.
  3. Add the baking powder, seasonings and olive oil and process again until all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Spread the mixture into the lined loaf pan and even out the top surface a little.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes, then check to see if it is done; mine needed more time. You will know when it is done if a knife inserted in the centre comes out pretty much clean.
  6. While the loaf is baking you can make the sauce.

What you do for the sauce:

  1. Mix the garlic in with the tahini.
  2. Add a little bit of lemon juice and mix well. Add lemon juice and water a little at at time until the sauce is creamy but not too runny.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!!

parchment paper 1 - trustinkim.com
fold parchment paper in the bottom of the pan

parchment paper 2 - trustinkim.com
open the parchment paper

parchment paper 3 - trustinkim.com
Fill the parchment paper with falafel

 

Turkey Barley Soup

turkey barley soup - trustinkim.com

This soup made the perfect meal on a cold winter evening, and paired well with Savoury Cheddar Muffins.

As with most soups, the broth you use is so important to bring a fullness of flavour. I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but turkey broth would also be perfect here. If you don’t have a homemade broth it might be wise to splash out a bit on a better quality broth like the one made by Pacific.

I bought some raw turkey breasts for this recipe, but left-over roast turkey or chicken would also be great.

What you need:

  • olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and then sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 turkey breasts (or leftover turkey or chicken meat)
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of sage
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup pot barley
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Chop the veggies.
  2. Heat a small glug of olive oil in a large pot. Add the veggies and cook, stirring from time to time, until they soften a bit.
  3. Push the veggies to the sides of the pot (or remove them from the pot if you want) and place the turkey breasts in the pot. (Unless you are using leftover meat which you will add with the broth). Cook the turkey breasts for a minute or two on each side; it doesn’t need to cook through yet, as it will continue to cook when you add the broth.
  4. Add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, broth and barley. Bring to a light boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is cooked but not too soft.
  5. Remove the turkey breasts from the soup and shred them, using two forks or your hands. Put the turkey meat back in the pot.
  6. I like to keep the salt and pepper until the very last moment, as the flavours of the soup develop as it cooks, and you may over-season if you add it sooner. Also I think the salt makes the veggies a bit mushier. So add salt and pepper to taste just before serving.

Sour Cherry Almond Muffins

sour cherry almond muffins - trustinkim.com

Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times   . . . and they’re really good with tea!

We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.

I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.

The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!

What you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  •  1 large egg, slightly beaten
  •  1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
  •  1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon pure almond extract 
  •  1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted 
  •  1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
  2. Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
  5. Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
  7. Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
  8. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
  10. Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
  12. Enjoy!

Magret de Canard (Duck breast)=YUM!

magret de canard - trustinkim

The first time I tasted magret de canard was at Chez Janou in Paris. We had been invited to someone’s apartment one evening, and I thought we were there for dinner. Turns out it was just for drinks. By about ten pm it became clear that there would be no food served, so we headed over to Chez Janou where I ordered the magret de canard for the first time. It was served medium-rare with roasted potatoes, and a red wine pan sauce.

When I made it this time (I’ve made it several times before, but always forgot to take photos) I served it on greens, but what you don’t see in the photo is the  potatoes roasted in duck fat, nor the pan juice I poured over the duck after I took the photo. I also served it with a baguette, which was perfect for mopping up extra juices.

In my opinion the duck breast in the photo is cooked to perfection. You might be thinking to yourself – isn’t that a little too red for poultry? Duck is a red meat, and the breast must not be cooked to well done or it will be dry. I was served a well-done duck breast on a subsequent visit to Chez Janou (they must have thought North Americans liked it this way) and it tasted like liver (ick). Some sources say that rare duck meat is unsafe, but most say it’s fine, and restaurants typically serve it even rarer than the one I have show here.

Here is a quick guide to testing for doneness so you don’t have to poke into the meat with a thermometer, using the feel of the meat compared to the feel of different parts of your face as a guide. When you prod the top of the breast with your finger, you are checking for the following:

  • feels like when you prod your cheek = rare
  • feels like when you prod your chin=medium rare
  • feels like when you prod your forehead=well done

To make the pan sauce you will use the bits of meat that are stuck to the pan acter cooking the breast, along with some wine and a bit of butter. The stuff left in the bottom of the pan is called “fond,” (silent ‘d’) from the French word for bottom. It is concentrated flavour that you don’t want to waste, and makes a really easy and tasty sauce.

You don’t have to eat the skin (but it is crispy and delicious), but you need to cook the breast with the skin on or it will be very dry. And that would be such a shame.

What you need:

  • duck breast
  • salt
  • red or white wine for the pan sauce
  • butter

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Remove the duck breast from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to cook it. Score the fat using a very sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way down to the meat. Salt the fat side quite a bit, then salt the other side a bit.
  3. Heat an ovenproof pan (I used cast iron) to high, then lower the heat to medium high. Add the duck breast skin side down and cook for 5 minutes – it should sizzle quite a bit. Flip the duck breast.
  4. Put the breast, still in the pan, in the oven for 4-8 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the breast and how well you like it done. When cooked to the desired doneness remove the breast from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  5. While the breast is resting, put the pan on the stove again and add a little wine to loosen up the fond. Let the wine cook down a little, then add a pat of butter to make a glossy sauce.
  6. I like to slice the breast before serving, and for a small meal the one breast can be shared between two people. After slicing pour some of the pan juice over the top.
  7. Enjoy!