Monday, 20 February 2012

Cafe au Lait Carrot Cake

Cafe au Lait Chai Carrot Cake

1c crushed pineapple, drained                          pinch of salt
3c shredded carrot                                              1tbsp cinnamon
1c shredded zucchini                                          1 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2c flour                                                          2 tbsp Kalua, liquor
1/2c whole wheat flour                                     1/2c vegetable oil
1tbsp baking powder                                          1/2c applesauce
1tsp baking soda                                                 1  1/2c brown sugar, packed
4 lg. eggs                                                               2tsp vanilla
1/2c strong coffee (espresso)                           1c toasted, chopped coarsely hazelnuts, skin on
1 500ml container Mascarpone cheese          1tbsp instant espresso powder
2 c icing sugar plus extra                                   1c 35% whipping cream
2tsp vanilla                                                           1tbsp each cinnamon
1 tbsp Kahlua
In a large mixer bowl beat oil, eggs, applesauce, vanilla, coffee, sugar, spices and pineapple on med. speed.  Fold carrots, zucchini and nuts into wet ingredients using a spatula On a piece of parchment/wax paper using a fork blend flour , baking powder, baking soda, salt,  to remove any clumps. Thoroughly incorporate dry ingredients into wet mixture, making sure all vegetables are blended.

Pour into 2, 8" or 9" rounds or one spring form pan, greased and floured. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until toothpick comes out clean, approx.30-40min. for round pans and up to70min. for spring form pan.   Let cool approx. 15min. loosen edges with the back of a knife and remove to cooling racks.  When cool slice horizontally in half  for 2 thick layers or 3 thin layers.    

In a small mixer bowl whip cream to firm peaks, set aside.

In a large mixer bowl beat mascarpone cheese until smooth, add coffee, vanilla, Kalua and  cinnamon.  Add  icing sugar reduce speed to low.  Fold in whipped cream gently. Spread some icing in the middle of each cake layer.  Spread remainder of icing on top and sides if desired. 

*Garnish with extra sprinkled espresso powder, chocolate covered coffee beans, cinnamon sugar , fine chopped hazelnuts or shaved chocolate*

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Light Pasta & Fagioli (beans)

Pasta & Fagioli

This is a delicious and nutritious complete meal. It has vegetable protein from the beans and many plant vegetables.  Use an type of pasta you like, wheat would be more nutritional, try spelt, kamut or even gluten free. I would always follow with a crisp fresh salad to complete the meal.

2tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 each onion, carrot, & celery, chopped fine
3 asparagus stalks, snapped at end, chopped med.(opt)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 mushrooms (opt)
1 cup zucchini chopped
1 1/2cup tomato puree
1 can white kidney beans(your favourite), rinsed and drained
4-5 parsley sprigs, washed, minced (including stem)
pinch of pepper flakes (opt)
1/2 tsp  dried oregano
sea salt & pepper to taste
500-600g pkg short cut pasta(I used wheat elbow)
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling on top

In a med. sauce pot, heat oil, add onion, garlic & pepper flakes.
Saute for 1-2min until softened. Add other vegetables stirring, saute on med.high heat do not let brown.~ As I finish chopping one vegetable at a time that's when I toss it into the pot and continue sauteing and chopping~
Pour in puree, add seasonings, herbs and spices. Stir and bring to a boil. Add beans and 1 1/2cups water.  Cook for 20-30min on low, stirring occasionally.
~This can be made 2 days in advance, refrigerated or frozen and stored for 1 month.~

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Tip in pasta and stir. Under cook the pasta while it is still hard to the bite NOT al dente. Rest the pot at the edge of the sink and tip pot to begin to drain water into the sink, using a colander to catch any pasta that may slip out. Pasta will sit on bottom of the pot, so you will have quite a few inches of water before you see pasta.  Draining water to determine consistency of the dish.~ You now can decide if you want soup or stew by how much water you leave in the pot!~If you drain all of it, you will have a drier pasta dish.
Add the sauce to the large pot and stir to combine.  Cover pot and let it sit for 10-15min. on the turned off burner to allow the pasta to continue to cook and absorb the liquids.
Serve with grated cheese and garnish with parsley.

Enjoy with love!

Serves: 6
*Use your imagination utilise any vegetable you have at home that you would use in any stew or soup.  I sometimes use broccoli stems, chopped fine, with the hard outer fibre discarded.  If I have bits of prosciutto rind I use that when sauteing the onions to add more flavour*

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

The short grain that is used in Risotto is what lends the creamy texture that developes when you stir the liquid frequently while cooking this rice dish. It is deceivingly luxurious without the calories.  The added squash adds flavour, colour and is rich in antioxidents.  No one needs to know that except the cook, who will get rave reviews!
1tbsp grape seed oil (EVOO can be substituted)
1 small onion chopped fine
1cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/3cup short grain brown rice
1cup white wine
2cup butter nut squash, peeled, seeded and  medium dice
1 tbsp basil pesto
1/2tsp ground coarse black pepper
6 cup hot chicken broth approx.
1/2cup grated pecorino romano cheese (parmegiano can
2tbsp butter (opt)

Sauté onion in oil on med. heat in a med. size saucepot until onions begin to become translucent.

Add brown rice stir to coat, toasting for 1-2min.  Add white rice and repeat process, stirring continuously so that rice does not stick to bottom.  Add wine, increase heat to #6 or #7 until wine begins to simmer stirring frequently until wine incorporates into rice.  Begin to ladle in broth approx. 1cup at a time stirring until liquid begins to absorb into rice and more is needed. Adjust heat if rice begins to absorb liquid too quickly.  After 2nd cup is absorbed tip in squash and add more liquid following the previous steps until all of it is finished and rice is cooked al dente (has a bite). 

When rice is cooked to your desired texture, readjust for seasoning, stir in cheese, butter if using and just before serving stir in pesto. 

*Pesto is added at serving time to prevent from turning black from the heat of the rice and for optimum*
Enjoy with love!


Venison Roast w Blueberry Chipotle Jus

Venison Roast w Blueberry Chipotle Jus
Venison is not easy to find but, when we do, a little goes a long way because it really is very high in protein.  It is so lean, you should not over cook it or it will dry out. This roast is quite quick to make given the timing of most roasts.  The blueberries and espresso give the sauce a rich dark colour with a touch of sweetness.  It is served over a butternut squash risotto which you can find my recipe on another page.
3-4lb roast of venison
2cup red wine + more for gravy
2tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (chopped if whole)
1tsp each black peppercorns, garlic powder, rosemary, turmeric, instant  espresso powder
1 bay leaf
1 carrot peeled, cut into thirds
1 onion peeled, quartered
1 celery rib,  halved
1/2cup blueberries
salt to taste
Using a non metallic dish, pour wine over roast to cover.  Sprinkle on all spices and herbs.  Cover and marinate minimum 4hrs or overnight in refrigerator. When ready, remove from fridge and bring to room temp. for 1 hr.   Preheat oven to 375F.fits inside a
Place roast on fitted rack of roasting pan.  Pour marinade over meat, add vegetables around dish. Do not cover.

Roast for 1hr for medium rare or longer for medium well, turning over half way through cooking to brown on both sides. Do not overcook as venison has very little fat and will become dry.  If the gravy begins to evaporate rapidly add more wine or water.
Remove from oven and let rest for 15min. under a foil tent, to allow juices to settle before slicing thinly.

Jus:  Place vegetables into a small saucepan on med. heat, with any remaining gravy from pan.  Add more wine or beef broth if needed.  Adjust seasonings and add blueberries. Simmer over medium heat until all vegetables are soft and jus is reduced by 1/3.  Reserve some of the blueberries and  puree the rest of the sauce in a blender and strain with a fine sieve. Serve over roast. Add reserved berries to sauce.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Peas & Smoked Salmon Alfredo

2tbsp. EVOO(extra virgin olive oil)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2cup frozen green peas
1 1/2cup half & half cream
200g smoked salmon + extra for garnish
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
pinch each of black pepper & pepper flakes
sea salt to taste
500g corn pasta, fusilli or any shape or type

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Tip in pasta and stir so it will not stick. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until cooked to your taste.

Meanwhile preheat a small saucepan with the EVOO and saute onions until softened.  Add peas and peppers, stirring to coat and cook for 2-3min
Add cream and lower heat to simmer, do not allow to boil or it will curdle.
Drain pasta in a colander but, return it quickly to the pot so it retains some of the pasta water, this will help extend the sauce. Add cheese to the cream mixture, stirring to melt, taste for seasonings. Add cream mixture and salmon to pasta, stir to incorporate.

*Serving Suggestion: Divide into 4 portions top with extra smoked salmon*

~Using half & half cream instead of 35% greatly reduces the fat calories~

This dish is restaurant worthy! The sauce is fast and so easy that is can be prepared any day of the week.
Enjoy with love!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Cozze Marinara w White Wine & Tequila

 Cozze Marinara
White Wine & Tequila

Mussels are so delicious and inexpensive!
You can have them any night of the week, you won't have to save them for special occasions.
If you buy the frozen ones that are already clean it will save you an extra step.
If they are fresh immerse in water and scrub away to remove any sand. Pull of the "beard" which is on the outside of the shell.
This beard is how the shell adheres to it spot in the water!     

4lb of cleaned mussels
2tbsp EVOO(extra virgin olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, smashed + extra for toast
1/2 cup parsley, chopped + extra for garnish
1/2 onion, chopped medium
1 cup tomato, pureed
1/2 cup dry white wine (opt.)
1/2 cup Tequila (opt.)
pinch of pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
toasted wheat bread points for garnish

Heat a large pot on med. high for 5min. or until your hand placed over the pot feels some heat. Drizzle in EVOO and saute garlic, onion and pepper flakes, until fragrant and golden. Do not allow to burn.
Tip in puree, stir and bring to a light boil.  Add parsley and seasoning, reduce for 5 min. Add alcohols and continue cooking and stirring until sauce reduces for 10 min. to intesify the flavour of the sauce.  Add mussels stir to coat and cover pot. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until mussels open approx. 5 min. Ladle into dishes, garnish with toasted bread points drizzled with EVOO and rub a garlic clove over bread.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Enjoy with love!

*Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as dinner*
*Do not eat any mussels that have not opened*

~Cooks Hint~
The marinara can be used on any carb (pasta, rice) or cooked vegetables.
By rubbing the garlic over toasted bread you still get garlic bread but with 1/4 of the calories.