Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Showdown Chili

London officially has snow on the ground. We got about 10cm the other day, so not enough to result in any snow days, but enough to have it feeling a lot like Christmas. I wish it was December so I could start celebrating! Starbucks has its Christmas drinks and cups out as well, and I admit to already having a few peppermint mochas.

Though, the snow does make walking the dogs a bit more eventful. Since their hair is so curly, they often get back into the house with huge snow growths on their legs. Zoe gets them really bad and ends up waddling all the way home (which I find hilarious, but then I have to bundle her up in towels and blankets and cuddle her until she defrosts. Which isn't a hardship, really). Today, Sarah got their jackets out and, though I lean more towards big dogs and not dressing your pets up, I gotta say that they looked pretty damn cute.

And what's better to have after a walk on a cold, winter-ish day than a bowlful of chili? I love having a steaming bowl of hot goodness when it's cold outside- nostalgia and comfort and deliciousness. It's even better when your friend buys you a slow cooker for your birthday! So this was my chance not only to make a hot, scrumptious meal, but also to break in my new kitchen toy. The chili recipe I chose to make has been on my to-do list for ages. Has anyone tried recipes from Bite Me? I've done nearly every recipe in their book. I absolutely love it.

Now, as with most chili recipes, you can make it as hot or as mild as you want to. I went more on the mild side this time, as my friend is not a huge fan of so-hot-I-sweat food. However, it's as easy as adding a few more pinches of chili powder or a few more jalapeños if you want to make it hotter. I made my chili in my new, shiny slow cooker, but it'd be just as easy to simmer the stew in a pot over the stove for a good few hours on low heat. Either way, the result is a delicious, belly-warming chili that is bound to get you through the cold days.

Showdown Chili
Adapted from Bite Me
Serves 8 big bowls

• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp chili powder
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
• 1 red pepper, chopped
• 1 green pepper, chopped
• 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 can of pickled jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
• 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can of your favourite baked beans
• 1 3/4 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup mild salsa
• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tsp packed brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 cup canned cream style corn
• shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Put everything into your slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often, until everything is stew-soft and awesome.

For stove top: in a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and all the beans, salsa, vegetable broth, cocoa powder, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every so often. Add corn and serve in bowls with cheese.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Curry Tuna Wraps

Happy Thursday everyone! Can you believe how fast September flew by? I feel like my roommates only just started school days ago, but it's already been two weeks. I graduated last June, so I'm the bum of the house; no job or school, just my medical school applications to do. But! I will be off to Europe in October soon. My friend and I are going to backpack through Italy, France and Spain for 3 weeks. It'll be awesome. I can't wait to try all of the food- pasta, pizza, bakeries, coffee. Ah, it's going to be great.

The weather is really weird here in Ontario. We go from fall weather back to summer humidity over 24 hours. Today it's going up to 30˚C! I don't know what to cook half the time- fall-warming soups or summery salads? I probably should enjoy the warm weather while it lasts, because before you know it that Canadian winter will hit. This week, though, I decided to make a tuna wrap from Chef Michael Smith's book Fast Flavours. Does anyone else absolutely love that man? I think I have all of his cookbooks. They're so great; delicious recipes and huge, colourful pictures. And they're nice and thick, so you get a lot for the price. For those of you who like buying cookbooks but balk at the price, try looking online. Here in Canada, often has cookbooks for half the price online as they do in store.

But more on the food. I was totally impressed with this wrap. I don't often do wraps, don't ask me why, but this one has definitely become one of my favourites. Not only is it extremely easy to buy for and make, it tastes amazing. The curry definitely brings another level to the filling (I tried it without and while it's still good, the curry makes it amazing). The avocado and tuna bring in a lot of good fats. Add some spinach in there and you have quite the healthy meal! I used Miracle Whip with Olive Oil for the wrap. Regular mayo will work fine, but that olive oil mayo is so very delicious that if you haven't tried it, you are definitely missing out! I really recommend this recipe for those who like simple, quick meals that look and taste elegant. Like many of Chef Michael Smith's recipes, this one is a definite must-try!

Curry Tuna Wraps
Adapted from: Chef Michael Smith Fast Flavours (110 Simple Speedy Recipes)
Makes 4 wraps

• 2 cans of your favourite tuna, drained
• 1/2 cup Mayonnaise with Olive Oil
• 2 tbsp green relish
• 1 tbsp curry powder
• 1 avocado, cut into chunks
• 1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
• 4 large whole wheat tortillas
• Salt and pepper to taste
• A few handfuls of fresh spinach

In a medium bowl, mix the tuna, mayonnaise, relish, curry powder, red or green pepper, and salt and pepper. Gently stir in the avocado to combine.

To assemble, lay out the tortillas. Divide the tuna salad among the wraps and top with a small handful of spinach (not too much or you won't be able to wrap it!). Roll each wrap up tightly, folding the sides in as you do. Cut in half and enjoy!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Daring Bakers: Crostate

Phew, this summer has been boiling, hasn't it? Here in Ontario, this season took it's time arriving, giving us cool weather all through May and half of June. The second that summer officially hit, though, it was like someone kicked Mother Nature in the butt and suddenly it was 28 degrees (Celsius, mind) with a humidex of 36. Jesus. Bless air conditioning.

I've been a horrible foodie and neglecting my blog. I have no real excuse. But I promise to attempt to redeem myself and nurse my poor Phenomenom back to health this summer! We have a bunch of food festivals heading our way, so I should have plenty of inspiration.

Today, I come back to the online foodie world with a recipe from the Daring Bakers. Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! :)

I chose fruit pie and went tropical with a mango jam filling. It's a little twist that worked amazingly. This pie is fruity, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day (especially if you scoop on some coconut ice cream!). Try it out yourself- you can use any jam, nut paste or curd (ugh, I was tempted to go curd- a rhubarb curd would be awesome, don't you think?).

The recipe was adapted by our host Rachael from Carol Field's "The Italian Baker".

Italian Crostate with Mango Jam
Filling: You'll need about 2 cups of jam/curd/nut paste for this pie. Use more or less, depending on your own pie. You can make your own, demand a jar of your friend's homemade stuff or buy it. As long as you like how it tastes, go crazy! I used this recipe for mango jam from (I put in saffron and found it a bit overpowering, so next time I'll probably leave it out).

Italian Pie Pastry (Pasta Frolla)
•2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
•1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar
•1 large egg, room temperature
•1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
•grated zest of 1 medium lemon
•1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
•pinch salt

Note: This will make more than you need. Store leftover glaze in a jar in the fridge and reheat before using. It should keep indefinitely.
•1/4 cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam (or any jam, really. I used my mango jam)
•1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2-5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it's lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a shallow 9"/24cm metal pie dish.
7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (2/3 is about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. You can use parchment with a circle traced on it so you can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips (or cut it into shapes, like I did).
15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.
16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides - you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I've done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Guava Curd Bars

Oh man, nothing like the first post of the year. Full of expectations and hope! I got a new flash for my camera for Christmas, which I'm still trying to figure out. I have a bunch of photography tutorials saved on my Pinterest, but I never seem to find the time to spend a whole afternoon learning from it. Probably because I'm usually sick of learning anything by the time I have a free moment, haha.

Did everyone have a good holiday, though? It sure went by fast. Holy crap, it feels like November was just yesterday. I've now started my last semester of my undergrad. It's a bit daunting and unbelievable how fast these past four years flew.

But enough of my personal issues, let's talk about food! I made these jam curd bars over the Christmas holidays, just following a simple recipe for oatmeal bars and stuffing it with the goods. I never thought to combine jam and curd before, but I had leftover lime curd and guava jam so I thought: 'why not? They're both tropical!'.

I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out! They're sweet, but balanced by the tanginess of the lime curd. I added coconut to the base and topping and it adds another tropical kick. I really enjoyed these. They make a good dessert or a power snack during the day. My mom's friend went bonkers for them- he absolutely loved it!

Guava Curd Bars
Yields 1 8x8" pan
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar (you can use brown, white or honey)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup guava jam (if you can't find guava, use your favourite jam! Marmalade would be nice in this too)
1/2 cup lemon or lime curd

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a square 8x8" pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Once light and fluffy add the egg and 1/4 cup sugar until combined. Add in the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt until it's a big sticky mess.

Press 3/4 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the curd and jam evenly over the base and crumble the rest of the batter over the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!