Garlic Confit

garlic confit - trustinkim

Garlic confit is simply garlic that has been slow-cooked in olive oil – but it is also magical! It can be added to pizza, vegetable, soup and so many other foods, and the garlic-infused oil can be added to salad dressing or used for roasting.

I made up a batch recently and I’m quickly making my way through the jar of garlic, which has a lovely mellow roasted flavour. So good!

What you need:

  • a few bulbs of garlic
  • olive oil

What you do:

  1. The most labour-intensive part of this recipe, peel the garlic cloves. Mine had the green “germ” growing inside, so I cut the cloves in half to remove it. I think it adds a bitter taste.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200F.
  3. Place the peeled cloves in a dish and pour in some olive oil, until all the cloves are covered. Use tin foil to cover the container, then place it in the oven for about 2 hours.
  4. Remove the container from the oven and let it cool. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge. It should keep for a few weeks.

 

Healthier Butter Chicken

healthier butter chicken - trustinkim

Let me start off by saying that this is not a traditional Butter Chicken recipe. I referred to a traditional recipe when making this, but my goal was to create a lower-fat version of Butter Chicken. So now it’s ‘A Little Butter and No Cream Chicken’. I used yogurt rather than cream, and I cut down greatly on the amount of butter (about 1/6 the amount).

Even with out all the butter and cream, it’s still delicious! I recognize that it would it be much more decadent with them, sure, but the lower-fat version is healthier while still tasty.

I served this with brown rice, and roasted cauliflower and eggplant.

What you need for the marinade:

  • 400 to 500 grams of chicken
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoons cayenne powder
  • 1/s teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • pinch of turmeric
What you need for the sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup cubed onions
  • 1 & 1/2 cups finely chopped deseeded tomatoes (I used canned tomatoes)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoons garam masala powder
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoons kashmiri red chilli powder (or a combo or cayenne and sweet paprika)
  • 1 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon  butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup yogurt (not low-fat)
  • cilantro for garnish
 

What you do:

  1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and coat them in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon butter or in a large pan and fry the onions on medium heat until the raw smell goes away.
  3. Add the tomatoes and some salt to the pan, then add the cayenne, garam masala and coriander. Cook for a few minutes, until the onions are soft.
  4. Cool and purée the tomato and onions with 3/4 cup water, and set it aside.
  5. Heat a large pan on medium heat and add a teaspoon of butter. Fry the cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf, and cardamom. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a for less than a minute.
  6. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and sauté on medium heat until it is dry, just a minute or two. Pour in the tomato purée, adding cayenne and garam masala to taste. Add more water if needed. Cook until the chicken turns tender. Stir in the fenugreek, and try to fish out the bay leaf and other whole spices.
  7. Stir in the yogurt, and serve with rice or naan, garnished with cilantro.

Healthy Oatmeal Apple Muffins

healthy oat muffins - trust in kim

Searching for a low-fat muffin recipe, I came across this recipe online. These muffins taste surprisingly good, especially considering there’s no oil or dairy in them, and they have a nice light texture. Rather than using butter or oil, this recipe uses apple sauce.

The original recipe says, “no flour, no sugar, no oil,” but I consider honey a sugar, so I can’t say this is really sugar-free. I cut the amount of honey from 1/3 to 1/4 cup because the applesauce has natural sugar. I changed the milk to almond milk. The original recipe calls for mashed banana, or apple sauce substitute, but I don’t love banana breads, so I made some apple sauce and put that in. As a topping, the recipe called for sprinkling some oats on, but I don’t like dry oats; instead I sprinkled on a tiny bit of brown sugar to give it a little colour. And who doesn’t like that little bit of sweetness?

You can add anything you wish to these; I added 1/2 cup pecans. Other nuts or dried fruit, or apple chunks would be nice in here.

Remember to use a delicate hand in the last stages of the recipe, taking care not to over-mix – this will ensure that delicate texture that you want.

What you need:

  • 2 &½ cups old-fashioned oats (1 &1/2 cups ground, 1 cup whole)
  • 1 cup applesauce (or mashed very ripe banana)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 tsp real vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional, for topping)

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the oats on a baking sheet and toast them for 5-6 minutes, stirring partway through. Allow the oats to cool, then grind 1 & 1/2 cups in a spice or coffee grinder (you could substitute 1 & 1/2 cups of flour if you have no grinder). Turn the oven up to 350F for baking the muffins.
  2. Pour the apple sauce (or mashed banana – no lumps!) into a large bowl. Mix in the eggs, then the honey, milk and vanilla.
  3. Combine the oats with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and gently stir the dry ingredients into the liquids. Allow this to sit for 10 minutes so the oats can absorb some liquid. The batter will become light and fluffy.
  4. Gently fold in nuts or fruit if you are using them.
  5. Scoop the batter into lined muffin tins. Bake for 19-22 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if it is done.

Enjoy! I froze most of my batch, and they were delicious in the coming days.

Sugar Snap Peas and Bell Peppers in Soy Sauce Glaze

fullsizeoutput_15f3

Simple and healthy, this is one of the vegetable dishes I make up on a regular basis. Add a little protein and rice, and it makes a complete meal for one. But truth be told, sometimes I just make up a giant bowl of this and eat it on its own for dinner.

What you need for one serving:

  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • a handful of sugar snap peas
  • sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • soy sauce
  • black chinese vinegar
  • mirin
  • hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

What you do:

  1. Prepare the vegetables by slicing the pepper and removing the strings from the sugar snap peas. Slice the garlic.
  2. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add a drizzle of sesame oil. Add the peppers to the pan and fry until they begin to get soft. Add the garlic to the pan, then throw in the snap peas.
  3. Add a splash each of soy, vinegar, mirin, and a few drops of hot sauce. Adjust the flavours to taste. Cook this until the sauce begins to thicken up, only a minute or two, so the snap peas still have some crispness to them.
  4. Serve immediately – enjoy!

Croccantini Flatbread Crackers

croccantini flatbread crackers -trustinkim

These crispy crackers were a big hit at the New Years party I brought them to last night. They are reasonably easy to make, but take a little bit of time. It is so worth it though – they are nice an crispy, a little salty, and the bubbles are pretty cool.

My friend Sarah often buys La Panzanella Croccantini to serve with cheese. They are delicious crackers, but quite expensive. So this was my attempt to make a cracker like those. I also made some into uniform rectangles and poked them with a fork to get rid of bubbles like the store-bought version, but they didn’t get into the photo. For presentation I really liked these big ones, and the bubbles in them.

I served it with a red pepper jelly, an apricot and peach jam, and a beautiful Manchego cheese.

I found the recipe here. The original recipe had rosemary in it, which I will try next time, but for this appetizer I wanted to stick to this salted version to highlight the flavours of the jams and cheese. Also, it was a messy slushy afternoon, and I couldn’t be bothered to head out into that weather again for an herb. In the original recipe they were baked for 3 minutes per side, but I didn’t read that part of the recipe (oops), and it worked well to just bake them on one side.

It is really helpful to have a pasta machine for this, to roll the dough out to a uniform thinness. You can also do this carefully with a rolling pin.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • more salt to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Combine the flour, salt and sugar on your countertop and make a well in the centre. Pour half the water and the olive oil into the centre. Little by little, add the flour to the centre, until you can mix and form it into a ball, adding more water as you need it (as you knead it). (Or you could do this all in a food processor by drizzling the liquid in as the food processor it running.)
  2. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, adding a little flour to the countertop if it gets sticky. Divide the dough into four pieces and cover with a towel for 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking pans with parchment paper. A pizza stone would be great here!
  4. Use a pasta machine or rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible. I did the same process I would use for making pasta: start by running the dough through the thickest setting, then fold the dough over in thirds, run through again, and repeat one or two more times, until you get a nice rectangle. Change the setting to one thickness lower, run the dough through, then keep going until you get to the thinnest setting. Part way through you will get a really long strip of dough – you can cut this in half at any point.
  5. Carefully place the dough flat on the parchment paper lined pans. Spray with a little water, then sprinkle some salt on top (I ground some kosher salt).
  6. Bake immediately, starting to watch it after about 3 & 1/2 minutes. It should be slightly browned.
  7. Place the crackers on a cooling rack. They will crisp up more as they cool. If they don’t seem crispy enough they can go back in the oven for a minute or so, even after they have cooled.
  8. Once they have cooled completely, store in an airtight container. I have no idea how long they will keep because there were no leftovers this time!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Rum Cake Soaked in Buttery Rum Sauce

rum soaked chocolate cake - trustinkim

Brownie-like, this chocolate rum cake is dense and rich without being too sweet, and it is packed with rum! I served it with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce, but it’s delicious on its own too.

The cake is easy to make, and you get this perfect rectangle shape by putting another loaf pan on top and putting something heavy in it.

My recipe has, believe it or not, less rum than the original recipe. It was the dessert for our family Christmas dinner, and I thought some people might not appreciate quite so much booze in their dessert (no, the kids didn’t eat any!) Most of the rum cooks off, but the last 1/4 cup (1/2 cup in the original) it still potent.

Feel free to use different proportions of chocolate. The original recipe didn’t specify which type of chocolate to use. I settled on some semi-sweet and some bittersweet, but depending on how sweet you like your desserts, you could use all of one, or half and half.

Enjoy!

What you need for the cake:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (110 grams)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (55 grams)
  • 125 mL butter (1/2 cup)
  • 250 mL black rum (1 cup)
  • 4 eggs
  • 125 mL granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 125 mL brown sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 250mL flour (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (5mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2.5 mL)
  • 125mL cocoa (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt (2.5 mL)

What you need for the  rum sauce:

  • 125mL butter (1/2 cup)
  • 60mL black rum (1/4 cup)
  • 60mL granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 60mL more black rum (1/4 cup)

What you do:

  1. Butter and flour a large loaf pan (5&1/2 by 10 inches). Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place the chocolate, butter and 1 cup of rum in the top of a double boiler, or in a large bowl that you can microwave. Heat in the double boiler on low, or microwave for 30 seconds, whisk, then repeat until melted.
  3. Whisk the sugars into the butter mixture, then whisk in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa into another bowl.
  5. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing completely. Now add the other half and mix again.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes (original recipe says 1 hour), or until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanish (just not wet).
  7. While the cake is baking, place the remaining butter, 1/4 cup rum, and sugar in a small pot. Boil for a few minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/4 cup of rum.
  8. When the cake comes out of the oven, keep it in the pan and poke it all over with a skewer or toothpick. Pour the rum sauce over top – it will all get absorbed into the cake. Place another loaf pan on top of the cake, and weigh it down with something heavy like a rum bottle.
  9. When the cake has cooled completely, flip it onto a serving dish. Serve on its own, with a little whipping cream, or ice cream and hot fudge sauce!

Oma’s Jam-Filled Christmas Cookies (aka Ammonia Cookies)

fullsizeoutput_15f0

My Oma used to make cookie like this, a spice cookie with damson jam inside, and coated in a crispy egg white frosting. As far as I know she never had a recipe, and I never got to learn to make them from her. Since she is gone now I’ve been trying to recreate, as best I can, her cookie recipe. This is year two in the attempt. This one was successful! Countless hours researching and working, but success nonetheless!

Oma called her cookies “ammonia cookies,” which never seemed unusual to me – that’s just what they were called. Now I realize it doesn’t sound very appetizing, so I’ve renamed them. Baking ammonia, also known as ammonium carbonate or hartshorn, is a substance that was used before baking powder and baking soda. It makes baked goods nice and crispy. But…

it smells soooo bad!

But only before they are baked. Then they smell heavenly.

I was surprised when I first opened the bottle of baking ammonia last year, after I finally tracked some down, and was assaulted by the foul smell. Ammonium carbonate is what was used in olden days to rouse a person who had fainted – also known as smelling salts. So this year I opened the patio door wide before opening the bottle and working with the baking ammonia. You can find baker’s ammonia at Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, or online here.

This might not seem like the most appealing recipe, but once you’ve dealt with the smell, mixing up the dough, rolling out and cutting circles of dough, filling them with jam and pinching shut, baking, making the frosting and going through the tricky process of coating the cookies with your fingers, well, after that you have some amazing cookies! The nostalgia of trying to make something that my Oma had made, and knowing that some of my family members would appreciate trying them, made the process enjoyable.

And the soundtrack for this lengthy process helped: The Over the Rhine Christmas album, Snow Angels.

The recipe I used is from the 1962 edition of The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes. With instructions like “flour enough to make soft dough,” beat egg whites “well,” cook sugar and water “until it strings??,”and no indication of how to mix, or what temperature to bake at or for how long, I did my best to figure out how to make this work. And (after one batch of cookies was too thick at the seams, and a batch of frosting had sugar lumps in it). . . success! Delicious, no jam leaking out (thanks mom for the extra thick damson plum jam), crispy exterior and frosting. So good! I think Oma would say I did a good job.

A word on the frosting method: last year the struggle was with the jam oozing out, but this year that problem was solved. Today I battled the frosting; the recipe didn’t specify how much to beat the egg whites, nor did it tell me what sugar and water forming “strings” meant. So after one bad batch (I was stubborn and used it on some of the cookies – not terrible, but they have a lumpy appearance), I managed to figure out how to do it right. I brought the sugar and water to a low boil AFTER beating the egg whites, so it was ready to beat in right away, and didn’t continue to cook or crystallize in the hot pot. Research revealed that the right temperature for the sugar and water is between 110 and 112C, but my candy thermometer isn’t so precise, so I overcooked it. In the instructions below I wrote about how to test when the sugar “strings,” or makes threads. Oh, and then there is the messy messy job of applying the frosting. Yay. I wish I had someone here to film it. My hands were too messy to do it myself.

Needless to say I’ll probably never make these again. Oma, how did you do this, with 5 kids, and all that other food to make? Amazing. Simply amazing.

For me these cookies brought back some good memories – I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

What you need for the cookies: (this is half a recipe)

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoons baking ammonia (or 1 & 1/2 tablespoons baking powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon star aniseed (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 & 1/2 to 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup very thick tart jam (damson plum jam is what Oma used)

What you need for the frosting:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg white

What you do:

  1. Beat the butter and brown sugar together. Add the molasses and beat in, until fluffy.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk, until it makes a soft dough. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Knead it until it is smooth.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions and roll them out thinly, about 3 mm thick.
  6. Use a circular cookie cutter to cut the dough. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the centre of each cookie. If your jam isn’t very thick, sprinkle a little flour on top.
  7. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges to seal each cookie. Place them on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for about 14 minutes. The cookies should look slightly browned.
  8. Allow cookies to cool completely on a rack before making the frosting.
  9. To make the frosting, learn from my mistakes. Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form when you pull the beaters out.
  10. Put the sugar and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Test using a precise candy thermometer, at 110-112C, or use the finger test. Put a small amount of the syrup on a finger, then touch it with another finger. If a string forms between the fingers, it is done.
  11. As soon as you reach the right temperature, slowly add the syrup to the eggs whites, beating on high, until incorporated and fluffy.
  12. Now. Get ready to get messy. Place a cooling rack on the counter. Dip each cookie in the frosting, then use your hands to rub off some of the frosting. I know, if you’re doing this right now you’ve already spent countless hours making these cookies. And you’re wondering if they will be worth it… I sure hope so!
  13. Place each frosted cookie on the cooling rack. Leave them to dry completely, for a few hours, before storing in an airtight container.

Merry Christmas!

p1070179p1070180

img_0711
Oma and Opa