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Archive for April, 2009

Green salad, green salad, green salad. Not lettuce! So like I said before, this dinner involved some recipes and some inventions. This one was my invention. I got the idea from a few things but because of various ingredients that I did and didn’t have I couldn’t follow the particular recipe.

This was also a chance for me to try out a new technique, I tried out blanching for the first time which I am now obsessed with and do all the time. I know, I know, blanching is probably one of the simplest and most basic techniques there is. But I have just started going beyond sauteeing chicken and this was big for me.

For this recipe I had basically taken out all the things in our crisper, put them out on the counter and thought what I could make. This was made with beans and broccoli with an indian-spiced yogurt. The idea stemmed from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver, but after looking over the recipe I did the proportions on my own and used the ingredients I had.

This was a huge success and the whole thing disappeared before the main course got to the table. This whole dinner really gave me a lot more confidence as a cook. It was great.

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Warm Green Salad

2 cups broccoli

1 cup green beans, ends trimmed

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

Black pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice

Mortar and pestle

  1. Boil enough water to submerge the  broccoli and beans. Put the broccoli and beans in for 3-4 minutes and then put them into cold water.
  2. Heat up a nonstick pan with olive oil or vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Saute the broccoli and beans for 4-5 minutes until slightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile crush the fennel and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle. Combine fennel, cumin, lemon juice, and yogurt and season with a little pepper to taste.
  4. Plate the broccoli and  beans and drizzle with yogurt sauce.

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So last weekend was my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary! So my gift was pretty much to cook the whole family dinner. This is the second time I’ve done this and I was really excited to try out a few new things. It ended up that I used a few recipes and also made up a few things on my own based on what I had in my house. Considering that one year ago I claimed that I could not make up a single recipe because I lacked the creativity, I have been making a lot of my own things recently. There are still things that I need to learn the basics of like breads, risotto, pastry, cakes, etc. These I can’t do without a recipe. But sauces, dressings, salads, meat, muffins, etc. I can do myself. It’s huge for me!

The first thing I made Pitas from Tante Marie’s Cooking School Cookbook (again). Great recipe in which I finally realized how to use yeast. Something apparently simple that I have managed to mess up several times. Now the recipe calls these tortillas, but my pan wasn’t as big as the one in the recipe, I think. The fun thing was that as I’m cooking (one pita at time) the dough kept rising. I had a roll of dough under a towel that persistently grew. It was pretty funny, since my last attempt barely rose at all. cooking-015

Everyone adored the pitas and there were only about 5 triangles left for the next day. Usually after my family dinners we have lots of leftovers (we have lots of food to start with) but this time everything I made got eaten completely! We are Russian and at our dinners we start with lots of little starters, caviar, salads, pickled things, etc. Then there is the main course and dessert. So lots of food to prepare and to eat.

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So here is the recipe…this one is all white flour but I think that next time I will make it half whole wheat to make it a little more nutritious. Watch that the pan is not too hot and take it off the burner between pitas unless you are using cast iron (something my dad taught me when I was making them).

Flour Pitas

(adapted from Tante Marie’s Cooking School Cookbook)

1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast

large pinch of sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

coarse salt

  1. Stir the yeast into a cup of water (110-120 deg.) with the sugar. Let it proof until it is bubbly.
  2. Mix together the flour and 1/8 tsp of salt. Make a well in the center and pour in, two cups of warm water, with the butter, and add the yeast mixture. Mix the ingredients together with a spoon
  3. Mix with the dough hook until it is soft, smooth, and slightly sticky (about 10 minutes). Put it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour (mine took slightly less)
  4. Punch down the dough, bring it into a ball on the counter and roll it into a log shape about 3 inches in diameter. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch lengthss and cover the dough you are not using. Sprinkling with flour as needed, shapethe dough into a round and roll as thin as possible.
  5. Heat a nonstick pan without oil to medium-high heat (closer to medium). Place a round ofthe dough and cook until light brown on the bottom. Flip. Cook each pita about 15-20 seconds on each side  until it is cooked through with  brown spots. press it down with a clean towel if it puffs up.
  6. Cut into rough triangles and serve!

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So this was a dinner I made for my family a couple weeks ago. I cook almost every night for my parents and I try to stay away from generic grilled chicken or sauteed pork. I like to try and add new flavours but not do anything toooo complicated.

This recipe is a combination of a recipe from Tante Marie’s Cooking School Cookbook  Mary Risley and Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver. The onion compote is from Tante Marie and I use a pork tenderloin which I crusted in fennel and and rosemary, an idea I got from Jamie at Home. Result? An amazing dinner that looked so nice and fancy on the dinner table! The pork was tender and not dry at all and the onion compote…wow! I am not a big fan of onions but this had no onion flavour, it was sweet and a bit tart from the balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. (note: I didn’t have sherry vinegar so I used red wine instead). I also made a small salad for the side, just mixed greens with a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette.

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Here’s the recipe!

Pork Tenderloin with Onion Compote

Adapted from: Tante Marie’s Cooking School Cookbook

Onion Compote

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

coarse salt

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

pepper and salt to taste

1 small green apple, 1/4 inch dice

3 prunes, pitted and thinly sliced

  1. Heat the onion with olive oil and salt (about 1/2 tsp) over medium high heat, stirring from time to time until golden (about 10 minutes)
  2. Add balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, 1 cup water, and a little more salt and pepper
  3. Continue cooking until all liquid has evaporated and onion is soft (about 20 minutes)
  4. Stir in apple and prunes and cook another 10 minutes

  Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from: Jamie at Home

2 pork tenderloins

1/4 cup fennel seeds

1/4 cup dried rosemary

1/8 cup dried or fresh thyme

Olive oil, salt, pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Put a roasting pan into the oven as it heats up
  3. Remove the silverskin and fat from the tenderloins
  4. Rub the tenderloins with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  5. Break up the fennel seeds, rosemary, and thyme in a mortar and pestle
  6. Spread the seeds over a large cutting board and  roll the tenderloins in the seeds, covering completely
  7. Take the roasting pan from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and put the tenderloins in
  8. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning after 10. After removing, cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 minutes before carving.

 

 

 

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Thumbprints

So this recipe is from Pinch My Salt. I wanted to try thumbprint cookies and I had some raspberry jam on hand! The batter was really easy to make and had a really good texture. the only mistake I made was not pressing the hole deep enough, when I checked the oven I saw that it had risen a bit. So I took them out before they were fully cooked and pressed them down a bit more. I also filled them up a little too much but, that didn’t really matter. Still tasted good!

Overall a good recipe, one last little thing. The recipe called for almond extract in the ingredients but not in the steps. I was following the steps pretty closely and realized I hadn’t added the extract until it was too late. I also ground up my own almonds. The final cookie crumbled really nicely in your mouth and was not too sweet. Good recipe that I may make again.   

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

(adapted from Pinch My Salt)

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted almond meal or flour (toasted ground almonds)
Raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Whisk together flour and almond meal then add to butter mixture and blend well.
4. Put cookie dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place on baking sheet; make an indentation with your fingertip in the center of each ball.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just slightly brown.  Let cool on wire rack.
7. Fill cookies with raspberry jam.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

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First Post!

So pretty excited to start the blog. Don’t know if it will catch on but I can hope.

Basically I am a high school student who loves to cook! I’m going to try and do as much as I can for the blog. I love to bake but I cook regular food all the time as well. I’m also a bit of a health food junkie, though I tend to ignore that aspect of myself when baking. So my regular food is pretty healthy, baked goods not so much.

I really want to use this blog to test myself and try as many things as I can. I want to start out by trying out other peoples’ recipes and then start making my own versions hopefully. I read a lot of food blogs so most of my recipes will be from there and I will source them back! I love reading the commentary on the recipes which helps me a lot so hopefully I can do the same here.

-Talia

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