Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corn chowder

This is a hearty late-summer soup that makes use of the abundant sweet corn of the season. The recipe is inspired by the ever wonderful America's Test Kitchen (ATK).

8 ears of corn
3 tbsp butter
1 onion
1 clove garlic
4 slices of bacon
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
0.25 cup flour
4 cups water
3 red potatoes
1 cup milk
black pepper

Cut the corn off the cobs, then with a potato peeler shave the remaining liquid and fiber into a separate bowl. Place into a kitchen towel and press out the juice.

Cut the bacon into quarter inch pieces. Add the butter, chopped onion, minced garlic, thyme, 1.5 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper to a pot. Stir and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until a nice fond coats the bottom of the pot.

Add in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the cold water. Add the corn and the washed, diced potatoes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

Blend two cups of the chowder in a blender until smooth. Add back to pot. Add in the milk and corn juice, bring  back to a simmer and remove from heat. Serve with nice crusty bread and basil to garnish.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beef with snap peas stir fry

I love fresh, sweet green peas. As a consequence, I need a tasty recipe to tempt me from eating them raw as a snack. This one was a pretty good one.

1 pound beef steak meat
8 oz fresh snap peas
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp minced garlic

Slice the beef into super-thin slices. Toss with 1 tsp starch. Set aside.

Mix the soy sauce, water, wine, Sriracha, brown sugar and starch.

 Preheat a large pan to hot. Add the oil and when it's almost smoking, add in the beef. Brown quickly, stirring a few times. Do not overcook! Add the garlic, ginger and the peas. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Pour in the sauce and simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crispy garlic green beans

A super-quick side dish, best made when the freshest green beans are available on the farmers market.

1 lb green beans
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp breadcrumbs

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add the olive oil. When the oil is very hot, toss in the washed and dried green beans. Spread out on the bottom of the pan and stir every 2 minutes. If you agitate the beans, they won't brown quickly.

Cook until it is slightly softened (very slightly). Remove from heat and add in the minced garlic. Mix with beans for 30 seconds, then throw in the breadcrumbs. Salt to taste.

Transylvanian eggplant spread

 Transylvania...most of you have probably heard that name in relation to vampires and count Dracula. Well, if you did, you must know that eating garlic fends off vampires. This delicious, vampire-repellant eggplant spread comes from Transylvania.

2 large eggplants
1 small yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
black pepper
0.5 cup mayo

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the eggplants for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and scrape out the inside (make sure you are not using aluminum cutlery for this).

Mince the onion and two cloves of garlic, and grate the remaining 3 cloves of garlic. Mix it with the eggplant and the mayo, salt and pepper to taste.

 Allow to sit in the fridge overnight, before serving spread on fresh toast (please, do not use the weird, sweet American bread for this!).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Steak omelettes

What to do with leftover steak? Well, this omelet is a delicious way of taking care of such splendid leftovers. If only I always had leftover steak in the fridge...

2 eggs
3 oz sirloin steak
0.25 cup chopped fresh tomato
3 tbsp fresh minced chives
0.25 cup chopped pepper
5 Kalamata olives
1 tsp vegetable oil
0.25 cup grated Italian four-cheese mix
1 tbsp blue cheese

Whisk the eggs and preheat a 12-inch teflon pan on medium-high. Spray lightly with oil. Salt the eggs and add 1 tbsp water. Mix well.

Slice the steak into thin strips, add to a small teflon pan with the tomatoes, peppers, olives and 2 tbsp chopped chives. Cook on medium-high until warmed through.

Pour the egg mix into the preheated large skillet, swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Cook until it's possible to flip the sheet without ripping. Flip and distribute the meat and veggies on the middle. Sprinkle with the cheese and fold over the sides of the egg sheet.

 Cook until cheese melts, slide onto plate and sprinkle with Feta or blue cheese and the remaining 1 tbsp chives. Serve with toast.

Sirloin steak

I do not own a charcoal or any other type of outdoor grill. My electric grill is wonderful for certain meats and some veggies, but not great for preparing a juicy steak. It simply does not heat up to high enough temperatures, neither is its heat capacity large enough to prevent a large temperature drop when the meat is placed on it. So for me, steak is pan seared. And how delicious pan-seared steak can be! Particularly one acquired from a local farm raising grass-fed beef.

1.5 lb sirloin steak
Montreal hot steak spice
vegetable oil

Allow the steak 15 minutes to equilibrate to room temperature. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium-high, until it is very hot.

Pat the steak(s) dry and rub with the steak spice. Spray with oil and place into the hot pan.

Allow to sear for 3 minutes. Turn and sear the other side for 3 minutes as well. Sear the edges, holding the steak up with a tongue. Sear each side for another 1-2 minutes. It should still feel somewhat soft when you poke it with a finger (not rubbery).

 Remove onto a place and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Technicolor bruschetta

 With the summer winding down and tomatoes abundant in every store, this is a perfectly delicious evening meal for any day. Serve with some fried bread and keep away from people that you haven't fed the same food to. Why? Well...the garlic may cause you some trouble.

1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
1 pint red cherry tomatoes
15 large basil leaves
6 large cloves of garlic
1 tbsp Colavita balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to a glass bowl.

Mince the garlic and julienne the basil leaves. Add to the tomatoes. Pour in the olive oil and the balsamic. Salt lightly and mix well. Set aside for an hour in the fridge.

 Serve on top of freshly toasted crusty bread. Toast the bread brushed with olive oil in a pan over the stove top. Heaven!

Ham and onion quiche

 I had a 9-inch pie crust in the fridge and wanted to use some of the fresh veggies on hand in a filling meal. This quiche took minimal effort to prepare and was very tasty even the next day.

one 9-inch pie crust
1 plum tomato
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small yellow onion
5 scallions
2 ox blue cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
8 eggs
2/3 cup milk
0.25 tsp nutmeg
0.25 tsp cayenne
0.25 tsp garlic powder
8 oz ham steak

Brown both sides of the ham steak in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Set aside to cool. Dice the onion and scallions, saute in the same skillet in one tbsp olive oil until nicely caramelized.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the pie crust and press into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Beat the eggs with some salt. Add the milk and mix. Add the spices and mix. Shred the cheddar cheese and mix into the eggs.

Dice the ham and sprinkle in the bottom of the pie crust. Spread the onions on top. Pour the egg and cheese mixture on top.

Distribute the thinly sliced tomato and the diced jalapeno on it for decoration. Crumble in the blue cheese. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until center has just set. Cool a bit and serve.

Potato galette

A healthier alternative for scalloped potatoes and mashed potatoes recommended by ATK. Very delicious with a touch of rosemary added. The type of potato you use is crucial, as their starch content is quite different. Yukon gold is the best for this one.

2.5 lb large Yukon gold potatoes
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp starch
1 tsp table salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp chopped rosemary

Wash and slice the potatoes using a food processor. Preheat oven to 450F, adjusting oven rack to low-middle part of the stove.

Wash the potatoes in a colander under running water. Pat them dry. Mix the spices, starch and 4 tbsp of melted butter. Toss with the potatoes.

In a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet melt 1 tbsp of butter. Arrange the first layer of potatoes on it in concentric circles. Place the remaining slices on top, disposing of the excess starchy liquid. Carefully arrange potatoes to fill any major holes.

Cook on medium-high heat on the stove top until the edges are beginning to turn translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Spray aluminum foil with oil and cover the potatoes with it. Press down with a 9-inch pie shape filled with pie weights. Lower the oven temperature to 425F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pie pan and foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

Cook 2-3 minutes more on the stove top and flip onto a plate once it can wiggle in the pan. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicken spiedies

A grill recipe from Chef John. Simple, quick and surprisingly tasty. While it does not displace my favorite marinade, my husband did like it more than the usual recipe I use.

1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
0.25 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
0.25 cup + 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
0.5 tbsp sugar
4 cloves garlic
0.25 tsp pepper flakes
0.5 tsp dried oregano
0.5 tsp dried basil
0.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 cup packed fresh mint leaves

Wash and clean the chicken thighs. Cut into equal size quarters. Remove excess fat.

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Chop the garlic and add it with everything else into a blender. Blend until smooth, with only small pieces of mint leaves present.

In a Ziplock bakg, marinade chicken pieces in the marinade. Reserve 1/3 of the marinade and add 0.5 tbsp starch to it. Bring it to a simmer. Allow to cool and reserve in the fridge. Marinade the chicken overnight.

Skewer the chicken pieces, wipe off excess marinade and grill until cooked through on 350F (on my grill). Serve on toasted sub rolls with the simmered sauce.

Strawberry cake

 This recipe is easy to prepare, though it takes a while in the oven. For those cool summer nights with abundant strawberries.

1 pound strawberries
4 tbsp butter
0.5 cup white flour
0.5 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 small egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter a 9 inch cake pan and line its bottom with baking paper. Preheat oven to 325F. Wash the strawberries, hull them and cut each in half.


Set aside 2 tbsp sugar for the top. Beat butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, milk and vanilla. Add in the flour mixed with the baking powder and the salt.

Pour into the cake shape. Top with strawberries cut-side down. Sprinkle with sugar.

 Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (about one hour).

 Serve with whipped cream.


 A delicious savory bread from Macedonia. It can be eaten with ajvar, or served by itself as an appetizer. The Feta cheese gives this a nice taste. I did not top mine with sesame seeds, but for an improved taste and nicer presentation you may use them.

3 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1.25 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 tbsp salt
3.5 cup flour
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp duck or chicken fat
10 oz Feta cheese
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 egg

Mix the yeast, sugar, 0.25 cup flour and 1 cup warm water. Allow to bloom. Mix the softened butter and fat with the crumbled Feta.

Add two room temperature eggs, the remaining 0.25 cup water, the salt and the rest of the flour. Knead until smooth dough forms.


Allow to rise for about 20 minutes, then split into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Grease an 11x9 inch baking shape. Stretch each ball to the size of the baking shape. Spread the cheese and fat mix between the layers, as you place them into the baking shape.

The top layer should be brushed with oil, an egg wash prepared from the third egg, and finally sprinkled with sesame seeds. Let the dough rise until it fills the baking shape. Bake in a 350F oven until golden brown.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Zucchini cakes

 It is zucchini season and everyone who plants a garden can now complain about the overflow of zucchini in their yard. Well, in my opinion an excess of zucchini can only be a good thing. Take these delicious zucchini cakes, for instance. If you have a food processor, they are super-easy to make.

2 medium zucchini
1 tsp salt
1 small yellow onion
1 jalapeno pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp dill
1 tsp dried mint leaves
0.25 cup crumbled feta

Using your food processor (or grater), shred the washed zucchini. Salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Squeeze lightly to remove the excess salty water.

Mince the onion and jalapeno, mix with the zucchini. Crumble in the feta cheese and add the eggs. Mix well.

Add the spices and the flour. Mix lightly, until all parts are just moistened.

 Adding dollops of the batter to a preheated pan with 1 tbsp oil, brown both sides. Serve with yogurt.

Hungarian fruit soup

While I have returned from the land of delicious fruits and vegetables (the Mediterranean), my thoughts still linger on the things I ate (and grew fat on) in the last two months. Tomatoes ripe and juicy with a taste I have nearly forgotten, cucumbers and onions bursting with flavor, salty tangy Kalamata olives and fresh cheeses to top all my salads with. I could be a vegetarian if I lived there. But lets focus on the fruits first. The soup featured here is a delight when eaten cold on a hot summer day, but it is similarly amazing when consumed warm for breakfast on a cool morning. 

1 pound sour cherries
28 oz can of sliced peaches
14 oz can of pineapple chunks
1 sour apple (optional)
1 fresh lemon
ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
200mL sour cream
1 tbsp flour
pinch of salt


Add the cherries, peeled and diced apple and the pineapple to a pot. Sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar on top. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top. Add the cinnamon, salt and the vanilla sugar. Pour water into the pot to cover the fruits.

Bring to a boil and add the drained peach pieces on the very end. Meanwhile, mix the sour cream with the flour, add quarter cup of water to make the mixture easier to pour. When the soup comes to a boil, pour in the sour cream mix. Bring back to a boil and immediately take off the heat. Adjust spicing while it's still warm.