Who needs a recipe! Sort-of braised garlic pasta

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By Corinne

This is one of my go-to pasta recipes. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never measured anything and I really do use whatever I happen to have handy in terms of herbs. In the summer I use a generous amount of fresh herbs and sometimes omit the dried ones entirely.

This recipe is a great chance to experiment with flavoured oils or vinegars as well as with herbs. If substituting a flavoured oil, I recommend only substituting 1-2 tbsp rather than the whole 1/4 cup. I also like using a full 1/4 cup of balsamic, but it really does depend on the balsamic you are using- start with the smaller amount and increase according to taste.

What is Braising? 

Braising is a combination cooking method where both dry and moist cooking techniques are used. Usually it involves browning meat in a pan with a bit of oil (dry cooking) and then cooking in a broth, or wine for a long time over a low temperature (moist cooking). You CAN actually braise garlic- you saute it first and then usually finish it by cooking in cream until garlic is tender. Garlic prepared this way is usually used for soups, creamy sauces or mashed potatoes. Technically, the garlic in this recipe isn’t braised, because there’s no ‘moist cooking’ component, but it borrows from the ‘low and slow’ technique used in braising. 

Time: about 20 minutes start to finish – everything should be done by the time your pasta water has boiled and your pasta has cooked (unless you have a crazy induction cooktop and your water boils in 2 minutes)

Serves: 2 people who like pasta 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 cups (uncooked) of your favourite smallish pasta that will hold onto the minimal ingredients for this recipe. I love conchiglie (small shells) or cappelletti (little hats)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, or a mix of olive and canola, or a mix of a flavoured olive oil and regular
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme – or any mix of herbs you like
  • About 1 ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  •  2 -4 tbsp, depending on the flavour of the balsamic being used
  • Additional generous handful of fresh herbs to finish-flat leaf parsley, basil, whatever you have from the garden!

Over low heat, braise the garlic in the oil. DO NOT brown the garlic. You want this cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Garlic should be soft, mild flavoured and fragrant.

Grate cheese and set aside.

While garlic is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions(remember to season your water!)

About 1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the dried herbs to the garlic and oil.

**This part you need to work fast! The heat from the pasta is what melts the cheese.

Drain the pasta, add the garlic, oil and herbs, fresh herbs to the pasta and give a quick stir. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, stirring as you do so you don’t end up with a big ‘clump’.

When cheese has melted, add the vinegar.

Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.

 

 

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Raisin Bran Muffins with Greek Yogurt and Applesauce.

By Julie

Makes 12 muffins

Time:  30 min including baking

Wheat Bran is amazing stuff.  Just 1/3 of a cup has 26% of your daily fiber and 10% of your iron.  It also tastes like cardboard.  Really dry cardboard.  In order to get the cardboard to taste like something, I opted for easy muffins.  These bake in just 15 min and are on the table start to finish in about 30 min.  If you’re one of those morning people, you could even manage these on a weekday (I think it’s insanity to wake up an extra half an hour early to bake so I just make ahead and freeze them).  They will also keep well for a couple of days in an air-tight container.

I was in search of a raisin bran muffin recipe that was moist, flavorful, but also not packed full of fat.  I didn’t find one, so I made one.

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One of the first things you will find is that most raisin bran muffin recipes contain buttermilk.  For the same reason that most chocolate cakes do… it provides richness but also lift because it works with soda to make bubbles and a light and fluffy crumb.  Buttermilk is not something I have in my fridge.  That being said, it’s easy to make but I find it never quite tastes the same.  One thing I DO always have in my fridge is greek yogurt.  It’s high in protein, but not fat.  It’s thick, and rich, and possess the acidic quality you need to wake up the soda in the cake and start that reaction before you even begin the baking process.  Also it’s delicious with a tang that is hard to beat.  I used vanilla greek yogurt here but any flavor will work and by using a flavoured yogurt you can change up this recipe easy-peasy so that it becomes a staple in your household.  I also removed the oil and substituted applesauce, and skipped the sugar and replaced it with natural maple syrup.  The batter for these muffins came out super light and airy, almost mousse-like, which resulted in beautiful, fluffy, moist muffins.  And the raisins?  Well you know how I feel about raisins, but if you absolutely must leave them out these muffins will stand up well on their own.  Or you could replace them with any dried fruit, such as dates or cranberries.  These are an easy way to add a ton of fiber to your breakfast routine or snack.

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You Will Need

  • 1.5 Cups of Wheat Bran
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt ( or buttermilk if you have it)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of raisin (any variety)

Preheat Oven to 375F

Grease your muffin tin well, I use cooking spray because it’s just easier.  As I’ve explained in my previous muffin posts, I don’t like to use the muffin wrappers.  I hate it when the muffins stick to them and they are unnecessary.  If you grease your muffin tin the muffins will slide out easily, and they will have a lovely crispy exterior that will make you glad you listened to me.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a separate, medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry and fold the dry into the wet until just combined, do not over mix or your will squash all of the fluffiness out of your muffins.  Fold in the raisins.  Place in center of the oven for 15 min.  Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean or with only a few crumbs they are done.  Rest for 5 min and if you remove them while they are still hot you will get the previously mentioned crispy exterior.  Enjoy.

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Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Dill

By: Julie

Serves:  About 3 cups.

Time:  15min plus egg boiling time.

I dreamed this up on the way home from the grocery store while starving, eating Triskets (olive oil and black pepper of course) right out of the box, and praying that the baby wouldn’t wake up before I had access to a bottle warmer and the remote control.  I thought: you know what this trisket needs?  Some egg.  And some dill.  And maybe a little mustard.  Oh, and that super crunch pickled celery that I put in my potato salad, yep, that’s what it needs.  So I went home and immediately boiled the eggs… and then everything descended into pandemonium and the eggs got put in the fridge and forgotten.  Fast forward to the next day – 20180906_115127_HDR eating triskets directly from the box, again, and I thought, you know what this trisket needs?  Some egg!  These are a great replacement for making deviled egg appetizers for your next get-together.  It will really hide the fact that you’ve completely messed up the eggs during the peeling process and that it’s impossible to fit all of the filling back into the eggs.  You can make this in record time and they look beautiful.  If you’re making sandwiches instead, I like them toasted on plain old sandwich bread.

If you don’t like dill (yes mom, I am talking to you), there is still a ton of flavor here with out it.

You Will Need:

  • 5 hard boiled eggs (the original plan was for six, but the snack fairy stole one in the night).  roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (can substitute mayo)
  • OPTIONAL – 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped plus 1 TBSP for garnish.
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 heaping Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 Tbsp onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

First, chop the celery, place in a small bowl and add the vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar.  Give it a good stir and set aside.  This needs to soak for at least 10 min.  Stir occasionally.

I like chunky egg salad, so I just roughly chop the eggs and place in a medium bowl.  Add the yogurt, dill, black pepper, mustard, onion and stir gently until combined.  Remove celery from brine but RESERVE BRINE!  Add celery, stir, and taste.  Add 1 – 2 tsp of the celery brine, tasting between each addition.  It’s salty so be careful!

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This makes 4 healthy sized sandwiches or about 30 crackers.  For the crackers I used about a Tbsp for each and put a sprig of dill on the top.  I’d like to say I made these for company, but really I had them for lunch and then hid the rest in the back of the fridge to share with NO ONE so I could eat it all the next day.

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Fast and Easy Vegan Mini Batch Cinnamon Rolls

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By Corinne

These are an adaptation of a recipe I’ve used for my hospitality class. They make a perfectly acceptable cinnamon roll, even if you aren’t vegan. While they don’t have the richness of a yeast based recipe, the fact you can make them on a whim makes them totally worth it.

I personally prefer mine without icing, as I find them sweet enough. But the icing is good, especially if you make it with a liquor instead of non-dairy milk.

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Makes: 6 rolls

Time: prep 10 minutes or less, bake 15 min, total 25 minutes

You will need

  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (pinch of salt)
  • 5 tablespoons non-dairy milk (75 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8th tsp salt (pinch of salt)
  • 2 tbsp chopped, toasted pecans (if desired)

ICING

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of non dairy milk (OR a liquor of your choice you think will go well with cinnamon- I like grand marnier!)

Preheat oven to 375 . Spray muffin tins (6) if you are worried about sticking. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir until combined. Keep separate until later!

In a separate bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon white sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir. 

In a separate bowl, combine milk, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the melted coconut oil.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until a sticky dough forms.

Lightly flour the counter. Knead the dough until no longer sticky.

Roll out into a rectangle about 6 inches (15 cm) long and about 4 inches wide. Brush 2 tablespoons of coconut oil onto the dough and spread it out. Now you get to use the sugars! Sprinkle sugars and cinnamon on top of dough. Sprinkle toasted nuts on if using. 

Roll up dough lengthwise, pinch the seam together and cut into 6 equal pieces. Place each piece in a muffin pan, brush with the last of the melted coconut oil.

Bake for 14 – 15 minutes in muffin pan.

Mix powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of milk(or liquor!) and stir until combined. Frost the rolls.

Caprese Chicken with Balsamic and Red Quinoa

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By Corinne

Summer is the season for tomatoes and basil and caprese everything! While we are heading into fall here, my basil plants growing out on my deck are still doing well, though I think this meal will probably be the last harvest I get from them.

Chicken breasts these days seem obscenely large. If you’re using gigantic ones, half is certainly enough for a serving.

Time: 30 min or less

You will need:

  • 1C red quinoa
  • 2C chicken or vegetable broth or bouillon
  • 2 large chicken breasts, halved, or 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3C cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1/2- 3/4C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 4 generous slices of mozzarella

Thoroughly rinse quinoa and add to a medium pot with 2 cups of the broth of your choice. While quinoa is regularly touted as a super food, it’s also super bland, so don’t just cook it in water! Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. It will take about 20 min to cook. Stir occasionally. It’s finished when all liquid is absorbed.

If your chicken breasts are quite large, hold flat on a cutting board with your non-knife hand. Using a sharp knife, slice horizontally into two even pieces.

Place chicken breasts in a large frying or sauce pan that you have a lid for. If you don’t have one with a lid, you can probably cheat and place a dinner plate over top. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat 6-7 minutes on each side until cooked through, then remove from pan.

While chicken is cooking, halve cherry tomatoes. After chicken has been removed from pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes have just begun to soften. Add the 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 3/4C balsamic. Stir for an addition 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts back to pan, and place mozzarella on top. Cover pan with lid or plate for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Divide quinoa between 4 plates. Top each with a generous amount of tomatoes and sauce and then with one of the cheesy chicken breasts. Top with additional basil for garnish if desired.

Summer Garden Pesto Stirfry

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By Corinne

This is a bit of a garden miscellany recipe that will work with whatever fresh veggies you have, in basically any amounts that you have them! Don’t have snow peas? Use snap peas instead. No chard? Try kale or spinach. No garlic scapes? Use some fresh garlic at the end- or if your pesto is quite garlicky, pass on the garlic altogether! You can serve it on it’s own finished with a drizzle of balsamic as a side dish, served on top of rice, or mixed into pasta.

 

Time: about 15 minutes

You will need: some mix of the following, though substitute according to availability!

  • about 10 oz, 300g cherry tomatoes *
  • 3-5 leaves of chard
  • small/medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • a few garlic scapes if you have them!
  • 2-4 tbsp of your favourite jarred pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated asiago or parm
  • drizzle of good quality balsamic to finish
  • 1 tbsp of canola, olive oil or butter
  • rice or pasta for serving if desired

If making rice- prepare first.

Add oil to large pan on medium/high heat. Chop zucchini into thin rounds or half moons. If the peas you are using are large, you can halve them, otherwise leave them whole. Trim flower end from garlic scapes if it seems tough or dry, then give a quick chop into small pieces. Thinly slice chard. Add vegetables to pan in the following approximate order, giving them a minute or two in the hot pan before adding the next ingredient. First tomatoes, then peas, followed by zucchini. When these veg are getting hot and a bit softened and maybe browned, add the scapes. When veggies are done to your taste- I like things more crisp, but to each his own so cook accordingly, add a few tbsp of your favourite pesto and stir until all veg are covered. Add the chard and cook 1-2 more minutes until still bright but softened.

Finish by adding the fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.

*note- if your cherry tomatoes haven’t ‘burst’ while cooking (which is fine) be careful when you eat them as they will be hot juicy tomato bombs if you pop them into your mouth whole!

Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish 🙂
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait 🙂