Chocolate Cherry Rum Cake

Yummy, rummy and chocolatey.  What could be better?  The dried sour cherries are soaked in rum, plus there’s chocolate chips for the extra hit that you’re craving.

This one makes half a recipe, one 9-inch round pan.  It’s from David Lebovitz’s cookbook Ready for Dessert.

What you need:

3/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped

4 tablespoons of light rum

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted

2/3 cup chocolate chips

for the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons rum

What you do:

1.  Bring the sour cherries and 4 tablespoons of rum to a boil in a small pot.  Set them aside with a lid on for about an hour.

2.  Butter a 9-inch round square pan and dust it with flour.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

3.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4.  Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and yolk and vanilla and beat in.

5.  Stir in half the flour mixture, then stir in the buttermilk or yogurt.  Add the rest of the flour mixture.

6.  Stir in the nuts, chocolate chips and cherries.

7.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  It might have a little bit of the chocolate chip on it, so don’t mistake that for not being done.

8.  Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then poke the cake all over with a toothpick and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of rum.

9.  Let the cake cool for about another 1/2 hour, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove it from the pan to cool.  Peel off the parchment paper.

10.  To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and the remaining rum.  Spoon it over the cake and let it run down the sides.

11.  The cake should last about 5 days, but if you’re going to keep it that long it’s best to glaze it shortly before serving.

Thank you Corey for editing!

Beef Quesadilla

A great comfort food – I love fried onions and steak together, add the salsa and yogurt and it’s a dream come true!  This one is great to make if you’ve got some left over  steak from your barbecue the night before.  Another amazing addition is some slices of avocado – that puts it over the top!

I don’t eat cheese very often, so when I do but it I grate the unused part and keep it in the freezer.  Same goes for the tortilla, just pop them in the freezer to use later, maybe even in a tortilla pizza.

What you need:

1/2 onion, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 beef steak

cheddar or another favourite cheese, grated

salt

olive oil

yogurt or sour cream

salsa

tortilla shells

What you do:

1.  Take the steak out of the fridge so it isn’t completely cold when you cook it.  Rub a little olive oil on each side, then liberally salt each side, then set aside.

2.  Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the sliced red peppers and continue to cook until the onions are quite browned.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

3.  Heat the pan to medium high.  When it’s good and hot, place the steak on the pan.  Cook it for just a few minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak and your preference.  I love mine quite rare, so I don’t leave it for long, plus it continues to cook while it rests out of the pan before cutting.  Use tongs to flip the steak and cook the other side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Slice very thinly.

4.  Clean your pan out and place a tortilla in it, on medium-low heat.  Sprinkle a little cheese on one half, then add some onion and pepper and some slices of steak.  Add a little more cheese, then pull the other half of the tortilla over the fillings.  I like to put the cheese on the top and the bottom because I think that when it melts it helps hold all the fillings in.  Plus people love cheese, so often a little more is better.

5.  Let the quesadilla cook until that side it slightly brown and crispy, then flip it over and do the same to the other side.

6.  Serve with some salsa and yogurt or sour cream on the side.

Thanks for the great photo, Megan!

Pistachio and Chorizo Bread

I wish I had gotten to posting this recipe earlier in the summer, because it makes a great picnic food.  It would be a great appetizer too, any time of year.  It’s pretty easy, impressive, and loved by many.   Feel free to add more or less of the chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes, chili powder and pistachios depending hon how much you like each of those ingredients.

I forgot to put the pistachios in when I made it, so I piled a few on top when I ate a slice.  This worked great because the nuts stayed crunchy.

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s blog.  I also recommend his book The Sweet Life in Paris for a taste of life in Paris and some good recipes.

What you need:

butter for greasing the pan

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for the bottom of the pan

1 & 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chile powder

3 eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup plain yogurt

85 grams or so of chorizo sausage, diced (the kind that doesn’t need cooking)

8 or so sun-dried tomato halves, finely diced

3/4 cup unsalted pistachios (hard to find, but they are available at Trader Joe’s)

1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)

What you do:

1.  Grease a 9-inch loaf pan with some butter.  Toss the sesame seeds around in the pan until there is a layer of them over the bottom.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

2.  Mix the egg and yogurt together in a bowl.  Add the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt and chili powder.  Stir, being careful to mix only until just incorporated.

3.  Fold in the chorizo, tomatoes, nuts and parsley.  Pour into the loaf pan.

4.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, then let it sit in the pan for about 15 minutes after you’ve taken it out of the oven before removing it to cool on a rack.

When it’s cool you can cut it into thin slices to serve.  Wrap leftovers up tightly in plastic wrap; apparently it lasts a few days at room temperature.  Mine didn’t last the night, so I didn’t get to test that out.

Let me know how you like it!

Avocado Yogurt Dressing

Served on salmon this simple dressing was delicious.  It would also be great as a veggie dip.   I found the recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.  I only made half of this recipe for a salmon dinner because Bittman said it doesn’t keep well . . . and he was right.  It tastes fine the next day, but it turns a little brownish, so it’s probably a good idea to make a half recipe unless you’ve got a big crowd to eat it up for you.

What you need:

1 large ripe avocado

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons minced shallot or sweet onion

1/2 cup plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

1.  Scoop the avocado flesh along with the lemon and orange juices into a food processor or blender.  Puree.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree again, tasting to see if you need to correct the seasonings.

Belgian Waffles, Yeast-Raised

I’ve made lots of waffles before, but I wanted to try something new for a birthday brunch.  I saw a few recipes online about yeast-raised waffles and figured I could try that out.  I balked at the amount of butter the recipes called for, so I cut back on it a little.  They are not difficult to make, but you need to plan ahead as you need to let the batter raise for about an hour before you want to use it.  This recipe is huge – I think it made more than 15 waffles.

I found this recipe on kitchen addiction.

What you need:

2 & 1/4 teaspoons yeast

3 cups lukewarm milk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled (original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup sugar

1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups flour

3 eggs, separated

What you do:

1.  Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm milk and let sit for 10 minutes.  To do this, just sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk; if it gets foamy you know it is working.

2.  Whisk the melted and cooled butter with the 3 egg yolks and 1/4 cup lukewarm milk in a large bowl .

3.  Whisk the yeast mixture into the butter mixture along with the sugar, salt and vanilla.

4.  Next you need to add the flour, alternating with the remaining 2 & 1/2 cups of warm milk.  Add half the  flour, then half the milk, the remaining flour, and the last of the milk.

5.  Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the batter.

6.  Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in volume.

7.  Preheat your waffle iron.  Give the batter a little stir to deflate it, then add about 1/2 cup batter to the waffle iron, or more or less depending on the size of your waffle iron.  I know my waffles are almost done when I see steam escaping.

8.  Top with maple syrup and any other toppings you like.  I love some fresh fruit or a warm fruit sauce, and a dollop of yogurt.

I cooked up all the batter, then put the leftovers in the freezer to pop into the toaster another day – soooo much better than eggo!

Quick and Yummy Chicken and Veg Noodles

This is another old standby, usually with just the broccoli, but I try to add extra veg whenever I can.  It’s comfort-foody, plus it’s pretty easy.  Feel free to switch it up with your favourite veg.

I use plain yogurt in this, but you can use sour cream if you prefer.

What you need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2-3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 red/yellow/orange peppers

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups chicken stock

3 cups medium egg noodles

1 large head broccoli, broken into florets

1 cup yogurt or sour cream

salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

1.  In a large frying pan heat the oil, then add the onions and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and chicken and cook for a few minutes.

2.  Add the stock into the frying pan and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook for about 6 minutes, or until the noodles are almost cooked, stirring from time to time.

3.  Add the broccoli and cook for a few minutes, making sure the broccoli is still bright green when it is served.

4.  Add the yogurt/sour cream just before serving and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe is from More Six O’Clock Solutions by Ruth Phelan and Brenda Thompson.

Oven-baked Onion Rings

I’ve been trying for a while to find the right way to do this.  I tried one recipe that had cornmeal, and they were awful and cardboardy.  And a lot of the recipes I googled were coated in potato chips – pretty much defeating the purpose of oven-baking.  I wanted them to be delicious AND healthy – too much to ask?  Apparently not!

I just did what I usually do with breaded foods, but I added some yogurt to the egg coating to make them a little more tender.  And yum, it worked!  And it’s easy!

What you need:

1 egg

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

1 sweet or red onion

What you do:

1.  Crack the egg into a bowl and add the yogurt.  Mix well with a fork.

2.  Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl with some salt and pepper.

3.  Cut the onion into thick rings, about 2cm wide.

4.  Dip each ring into the egg mixture, then coat thoroughly with the breadcrumb mixture.

5.  Place the breaded rings on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 400F.  Flip the rings over and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  They are done when they are quite browned.

Serve with a yogurt dip.  I like to add a bit of dill, salt and pepper to some plain yogurt.  Adding some curry powder to the plain yogurt is nice too.