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Posts from the ‘Breads’ Category

Dinner Party Menu: January

Thai Carrot and Yam Soup
Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Bourbon Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Since January is a time when Julie and I feel like eating a bit more healthily, we devised this menu with that in mind, but also with some suggestions for possible add-ons. The soup is based on a recipe that we enjoyed at our friend Laura’s house and she generously shared it. I love the combination of ingredients which produce a rich tasting and deep, nourishing flavour.

For the main course, we have a refreshing citrus-y salad, featuring blood oranges which are available in markets now. I like the addition of seared tuna, which connects to the Asian theme of the soup, but the salad can be prepared with or without the tuna, served as a side to chicken, or as an appetizer with the addition of crumbled feta, as photographed here.

The dessert pulls out all the stops – with such a healthy start to the meal, why not splurge on a comforting bread pudding? The recipe for the pudding is very simple and quick to put together and smells amazing when it’s in the oven. Make it late in the day and greet your guests with the aroma!

Thai Carrot and Yam Soup
The only adjustments I made to the original recipe were to use yams instead of sweet potatoes and 1 tablespoon, not 2, of red curry paste. I have included a recipe for vegetable broth but you can of course use store-bought.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups onion, peeled and diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon red curry paste, or to taste
4 cups vegetable broth, more if needed
¼ cup almond butter, room temperature
3 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups yams, peeled and chopped
salt and black pepper to taste, cayenne pepper to taste
Garnish suggestions: cheese straws, limes, roasted and chopped tamari almonds

Melt coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent. Stir in the curry paste and cook and stir for one more minute.

In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup of the broth with the almond butter until smooth. Add to the pot along with the remaining broth, carrots, yams and seasoning.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Cool the mixture slightly, then purée in batches in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, adding more vegetable broth if necessary and check the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to taste.

Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish as desired.
Makes 8 servings.

Vegetable Broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1” piece of ginger, sliced
2 large onions, unpeeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of parsley and thyme

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the water, bay leaves, parsley and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot and discard solids. Once the broth has cooled, transfer to airtight plastic containers and refrigerate it or put into freezer bags and store in the freezer. Makes about 6 cups.

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

12 oz. ahi tuna
1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced, about 1½ cups
4 blood oranges, peeled and sliced, cut slices in half (remove zest for vinaigrette before peeling)
½ cup fresh mint, finely sliced, more for garnish
1 large or 2 small avocados, peeled and cubed
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced, about 1½ cups
1 small head lettuce, chopped, about 2½ cups

Season tuna with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan and sear tuna over medium high heat about 1½ minutes per side. Remove from heat and slice.

In a large bowl, mix fennel, oranges, ½ cup mint, avocado, radicchio and head lettuce. Toss with about ¾ of the dressing. Divide salad among 6 plates, top with sliced tuna and drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with mint. Serves 6-8

1 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon blood orange zest
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix juices, vinegar, shallot and zest in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil and season to taste.

Bourbon Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
⅓ cup bourbon
8 oz. 72% dark chocolate, chopped
4 cups day-old challah, cubed
¼ cup turbinado sugar, or brown sugar

Whisk milk, eggs and bourbon together in a large bowl. Add the chocolate, bread cubes and sugar. Toss to coat and set aside to soak for about 45 minutes. Stir once or twice while soaking. After soaking for about 40 minutes, preheat oven to 350ºF.

Pour mixture into a 1½ quart baking dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the custard has set and the top of the pudding is slightly crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature with   Bourbon Caramel Sauce or bourbon-flavoured whipped cream. Serves 8

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
pinch of salt

Simmer sugar and water over medium heat, swirling the pan but not stirring for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a rich amber colour. Watch closely as the caramelization happens quickly at the end. The photos below show the mixture just before it starts to caramelize, what it looks like when it is ready to come off the heat, and the finished product.


Remove pan from heat and very slowly add the cream, stirring. Add the bourbon and a pinch of salt and place back on the still warm burner for another minute and stir. Transfer sauce to a heat-proof dish or bottle and let cool. Store covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. You can also microwave it for about 30 seconds to warm it.


Pancakes & Ribs

Ribs and Pancakes

These pancakes make a terrific accompaniment to a meal, whether meat or fish, or vegetarian. They can be made well ahead of time and reheated, or not, to serve. I love the combination of flavours here, and plan to try them with different vegetables. My mother used to make zucchini pancakes and I have tried various versions of those over the years, but this recipe is now going to become the base for shredded zucchini too. Bonus: kids love them!

Both the pancake and rib recipes, with a few adaptations, are from Food52, a website rich with ideas and inspiration.

Cauliflower Pancakes
1 large cauliflower, washed and trimmed into bite-sized pieces
3-4 shallots, peeled and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 T. olive oil
3-4 large eggs, beaten
3 T. chopped Italian parsley
1/2 – 3/4 C. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. grated mozzarella
1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. whole milk
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil for frying

Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil and add the cauliflower pieces. Cook until tender, but not mushy. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Sauté the shallots and garlic in 2 T. olive oil until soft but not brown. Remove and set aside. Using your hands, break cauliflower into very small pieces into large bowl. To this bowl now add the eggs, cooked shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix this well, then add the flour and milk to create a batter-like consistency. If the batter looks too thin, add a bit more flour. If too thick, add more milk. Add the grated cheeses and the parsley.

Heat a large non-stick pan to medium-high and add a drizzle of olive oil. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto pan and cook in batches until golden brown, adding a little more oil as needed. Cool on a platter. These pancakes may be reheated, or served at room temperature. They keep well stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Makes about 12 pancakes.

Honey Hoisin Ribs
Here is a 2-stage recipe for pork ribs. You may do both stages the day of serving, or you can do the first step (the braising) one or two days ahead, then glaze and bake them just before serving.

Braising the Ribs:
1 rack of baby pork back ribs, cut in half
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into disks
1″ piece of ginger, sliced
1 head garlic, cut in half across the cloves
1 C. soy sauce

Place the ribs into the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot with a lid (I used a large Le Cruiset). Add the rest of the braising ingredients, then pour in water to cover the ribs by 1″. Place the pot over medium heat and bring slowly to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer ribs until they are tender, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Test for doneness: the meat should be just tender, but not falling off the bone.

Remove ribs from the pot and discard braising liquid. OR, if you plan to serve the ribs one or two days later, store them in the liquid in the refrigerator until ready to finish in the oven.

Glaze and finishing ribs:
2 T. hoisin sauce
2 T. oyster sauce
1 T. rice wine vinegar
2 t. soy sauce
1 t. sesame oil
1-2 t. sriracha sauce, or your favourite hot sauce, to taste
1/3 C. honey
1 green onion, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 T. toasted sesame seeds

Ribs Ingredients

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place ribs onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Whisk glaze ingredients together and brush over both sides of the ribs. Bake, brushing a few times with the glaze, until hot and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven and cut them into pieces. To serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with green onion.
Serves 2.

Sunday Brunch

Twice-Baked Cheddar Soufflés
Bacon and Turkey Sausages
Cinnamon Bun Muffins
Oatmeal Soda Bread
Grapefruit, Orange and Mint Salad

Brunch has increasingly become a favoured family/friends meal in our household. It seems to suit the schedules of all generations who gather around our table these days. Planned ahead, much of the preparation for this menu can be started in advance: fruit salad the night before; bread and muffin ingredients measured in advance, then finished and baked quickly in the morning;  and yes, even the soufflés can be baked for the first time the day before, then refrigerated and finished just before serving. Read more

Copper River Salmon and Bread Salad

This main course salad can, of course, be made with any kind of fresh salmon, but during the very short season of Copper River salmon (approximately mid-May to mid-June), this is a perfect time to use it and Seafood City at Granville Island Market is where this came from. The Copper River flows in Alaska and is almost 300 miles in length, challenging the salmon by its length and its strong, cold rapids. Therefore, Copper River salmon are strong and contain healthy stores of natural oils (Omega-3’s) and body fat, making the salmon extremely rich, flavourful and nutritious.  Read more

Czechoslovakian Vánočka

This post is in honour of my Czech heritage, generations past, and my cousin Mary who has kept this bread-making tradition going over the years. She bakes several loaves of this bread and delivers one to my father, who looks forward to her visit and the enjoyment of this celebratory loaf, just before Christmas. Read more

Who Kneads Pizza Dough?

I love bread and have kneaded it in various countries, in 45ºC kitchens, in electric, gas and wood ovens. While the kneading part (and the stoking the fire part) can be a satisfying and even a therapeutic exercise, it is more labour-intensive and time-consuming for many cooks these days. And we can buy such good bread here now that it hardly seems necessary to make it at home. Enter Jim Lahey, whose revolutionary no-knead bread dough has been written about in food columns for several years. And for good reason. Mixing the dough briefly, then a long slow rise, results in a crispy, chewy, flavourful loaf. Provided you plan ahead, the method is uncomplicated and you get the joy of smelling the intoxicating aroma of bread-baking at home and the kudos you receive for producing it! Read more

Yogurt Pancakes with Blueberries

I’m thinking about making these little gems on this rainy morning. They’re easy to put together and you might even feel virtuous eating them…mostly yogurt and fruit, after all. I found this recipe a long time ago in an early cookbook of Bonnie Stern’s, but have tweaked it a few times since. Read more

The Pleasures of a French Baguette: So Simple, So Perfect

My friend, Kathleen, is immersing herself for a month in French language and culture in the south of France. I have long admired her way of diving into experiences, pushing herself to learn new things and getting the most out of every minute.

Here is her story:

Diane, this does not qualify at all as a “recipe” but I wanted to send you something from my “aventure Français” here in Villefranche. Of course it’s customary to stop in to the boulangerie on the way home from class for a fresh baguette — but one person can’t eat the whole thing while it’s still fresh. So, my landlady has supplied a sort of grill pan that is exactly the same as the toaster we use over the campfire at the ranch. She gave me a small tin of beautiful local olive oil and a carton of fleur de sel from the Camargue. I toast a few slices of the not-so-fresh baguette over the gas flame, drizzle it with the olive oil and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. So simple, and so perfect. All that’s left is to pour myself an apéritif, and settle down on my little balcony to watch life unfold in the village at my feet, with small boats bobbing on the blue, blue Mediterranean below. Can this be real?