Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Chocolate Drizzled
Pecan Pie
 
Mm mm mm, Pecan Pie!
A classic Southern comfort dessert. Visually spectacular
with a touch of orange!
 
I remember travelling through Georgia, on our way to Florida. 
A beautiful luscious green State, full of friendly people.
 
Huge signs, competing with one another, directing us where to get off of the Interstate. Swaying our desires with sweet promises of pecan rolls, gooey caramel, richly coated pecan candy. Shelled, toasted, roasted or soft shell nuts.
Generally we stopped on our way home so I could have goods to bake with when we arrived home to use with all of my creature comforts!
 
On our last trip, years ago when the children were small, I got a tutorial from the local seller.
I asked why there were so many types of pecans?
Truthfully I only see one type in the bulk or grocery stores.
With or without the shell.
 
Well, I got the pecan lesson of my life.
 
All these years I thought pecans came in red shells and he explained that, the shell turns red when refrigerated or frozen and becomes hard as it ages.
Which is why you need nutcrackers.
 
The soft shell, a certain variety is picked sooner which is why you could crack the shell with your fingers just by squeezing the nut!
 
Who knew?
 
Those shells were all brown and not polished and red like they are here.
 
Needless to say that year I baked the most wonderful textured pecan pies and boy could everyone who ate them taste the difference with the crunch of the nuts. They truly had a different texture to them.
 
They were so inexpensive I literally brought back pounds for consuming, baking and sharing.
 
Well if we ever venture back,
driving down to Florida...
I'll certainly know what to look for!
 
I make it a rule when travelling to any country to find out what foods represent their region. We always stopped at the side markets to get snacks and talk to the locals. Who better to give you information?
 
Unfortunately when we travelled through Georgia we were never there in peach season. Another treasure that Georgia has to offer!
This recipe has a touch of orange flavour for an added subtle taste in it's gooey texture and it is not too sweet. This crust has butter and brown sugar in it, lending a texture similar to a cookie crunch, preventing it from becoming soggy...not that it would last long enough to get soggy in my house.
lol
  
 
Crust: 
2 3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed or shredded
1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 lg egg, whisked
pinch of salt
ice cold water (a bowl of water with ice cubes in it)
 
This makes two crusts. Divide in half
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
 
Place dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk ingredients to remove any lumps.
Cut in the shortenings with a pastry cutter or rub shortening into the flour with your hands, working quickly so as not to melt the shortenings.
 
Pour the liquids in and stir with a fork. It will look raggedy.
 
Add 4-5 tbsp of water, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing to see is the mixture sticks together.  The amount you need depends on the humidity in the air. Do not over mix. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate to allow the dough to rest and harden for 1hr.
 
Roll between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper. This prevents the dough from coming into contact with your body temperature, softening the dough.
 
Peel back the top paper when you have rolled as much as you can. Flip the package over. Now the bottom is on the top, peel back the wax paper and continue to roll and peel to the desired size. This allows the dough to expand without sticking to the paper.
 
If the dough begins to stick to the paper, lightly flour it.
You may also get cracks or tears.
 
No worries, take a chunk off of an uneven part and patch it up and continue rolling.
When it has been rolled 2" wider than your pie plate, peel top layer of wax paper off.  Place the pie plate upside down, centre the dish over the dough. Place one hand under the wax paper and flip the dough into the dish.
The bottom wax paper is now on top. Peel it off. Using a knife or scissors, evenly cut around the dough, leaving an inch overhang. Set scraps aside.
Roll the overhang under, creating an even and thick edge. Begin to pinch ridge as seen in diagram, to create a design. Pierce dough all over with a fork to allow air to escape when baking. This process is called docking.

Layer the nuts decoratively over the crust and pour in the filling. Press the toasted nuts down, immersing so as to coat the nuts with the sugar filling.
Filling:
 
3 lg. eggs
1 tbsp orange or mandarin zest
3 tsp orange or mandarin juice
1/3 cup each of sugar and brown sugar
1 cup light golden corn syrup
2tbsp butter, melted
 
2 cup pecan halves, toasted
Place pecans onto a baking sheet and toast for 10 min on 350F, cool, set aside.
 
In a large stand mixer bowl with a paddle attached, whip on medium speed all of the filling ingredients.
 
Drizzle:
2 squares of dark chocolate
Melt in the microwave for 1min on high. Remove and stir to melt all of the chocolate.

Bake in a preheated 350F for 40-50min until top is golden brown.
 
Drizzle melted chocolate over completely cooled pie.
Enjoy with love!
 
 






Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Panko Crusted Veggie & Mozzarella
with
Arugula Pesto
 As Autumn approaches with it's cool crisp air, it signifies time for getting back into our daily routine from a laid back  lifestyle.

Personally it is the
"most wonderful time of the year"
for me.
I have the house to myself
as everyone heads back to school!
 
Quite time for coffee or tea depending on my mood and then I can decide what my schedule will be like for the day.
My only vegetable in my so called "garden" this year consisted of 2 plants of zucchini.
I don't have space for gardening nor do I want the work of a garden anymore as I used to have a very large one.
My plants gave me a prolific amount of zucchini blossoms and zucchinis!
Some I ate, some I baked into sweets and some I stored for winter months.
One of my favourite sides is breaded and fried veggies.
I only make them once a year so eating them now doesn't make me feel guilty.
This recipe, I used for lunches and it is delish
hot or cold!
But,
you could use this recipe for a side dish too.  
Cut into finger lengths, it is fabulous for appetizers as well.

As a side note:
It is difficult for me to get my growing men to eat veggies!
They are huge carnivores.
Having said that, they were so amazed at this hot sandwich that when I asked "do you miss the meat?" and "you know you're eating vegetables".

They actually said this was one of the best sandwiches they had every eaten.
It may have something to do with oozing cheese and the pesto is to die for!
 
My mom's response to this enigma?~
Kids will eat anything that is fried!

So here is my huge summer discovery...
  Panko Crusted Zucchini & Mozz
with
Arugula Pesto


Crust 

2 cup panko, bread crumb 
1 tsp each garlic powder and dried oregano
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
pinch of salt

1/2 cup flour for dredging


Egg Wash 

2 lg. eggs             
1/2 tsp each garlic powder & dried oregano 
1 tbsp water      
pinch of salt
  Vegetables

 
1  Chinese eggplant, cut into 1/2" rounds
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2" rounds

4,  1/2" slices mozzarella
1  Olive Ciabatta  loaf, cut lengthwise
vegetable oil, for frying

Pesto 

2 cup washed fresh basil
2 cup washed fresh arugula                        
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts                                          1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled

Preparation;
Place all pesto ingredients into a food processor and puree. If the mixture is too dry add some more oil. Set aside.

Make a dredging station using 3 pie plates.
Combine bread crumb mixture into a pie plate. Mix and set aside.
Pour flour into another pie plate.  Whisk egg wash ingredients together into remaining plate, set aside.

Dip a piece of vegetable into the flour, coating both sides.  Dip into the egg wash mixture and press into the bread coating both sides. Continue until all vegetables are coated.

Dredge and coat the mozzarella with the same breading station. Set aside.

Preheat a skillet on medium high heat with 1" of vegetable oil. *Test for temperature by dropping in a crumb. If the crumb immediately floats and begins to sizzle the oil is ready*

Fry all vegetables until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Assembly:

Spread a generous amount of Pesto on both sides of bread.

Layer alternating vegetables, overlapping slightly, filling the loaf.

Meanwhile fry the mozzarella quickly and drain slightly. 
Place on top of the vegetables and top with the bread.
Cut into 1/3's or 1/2.
Serves 2 or 3 

Enjoy with love!

Thursday, 5 September 2013





Bellini Kitchen Master
Thermal Blender




Get ready Canada the Bellini is here!
When I was having espresso with different family member's in Italy this summer, I noticed several of the younger generation had these
" modern gadgets"
propped up on their counters.
AS I AM
all about cooking and the kitchen...
my inquisitive mind wanted to know what it was.
I had never seen anything like this and I shop in kitchen stores like most women shop for shoes as an obsession,
so I asked
"cosa e quello?"
What is that?
 
Well to my utter shock
they told me it was a machine that did everything!
They literally meant everything it:
chops
stirs
cooks
steams
mixes
whips
minces
kneads
and fry's too!
 
Because electricity is costly in Europe they have developed Thermal Blenders that make cooking meals fun, fast and more economical!
It's a huge time saver and is more cost effective.
I didn't see any in action but,
they swore that it was amazing~
 
Well if I get chosen to sample this Bellini I will finally get to see for myself what this little
whirlwind wonder machine
can do!
What would you like to see me create?
I would love to see it chop and cook a stew since the weather is now getting cooler topped with fluffy rice or quinoa.
Chicken broth should be a breeze.
I would love to see it knead bread or pizza dough.
I'm sure when my daughter finds out about this machine she definitely will want to try to whip up some frozen yogourt!
http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/BELLINI-ADDICTS-RECIPES-revised-Apr-25-2013.pdf over 200 recipes in this Bellini Addicts Recipe Book
 
Well the Bellini Thermal Blender
is from Australia and it's the first of it's kind in
North America.
 
I have seen others in stores and they are the height of a blender.
Quite frankly I am not sure about the height of those. They become difficult to stir the ingredients all the way down to the bottom. Some can splash dangerous hot liquids when you are stirring.
 
I really like the casserole dish shape of this and shorter wider bowl.

The width of the bowl would most likely have better heating because the depth is not so high. Scraping with a spatula would be easier for the length of my arm, since I am short and you can steam food while the bottom bowl cooks the other part of your meal!
What other small appliance does that?
Think of the small amount of space you would need to prepare a meal with less fuss and easy to clean!
but...
I don't know, I would have to try it!
Hope I get the opportunity to test this
Bellini Kitchen Master
for myself....
It definitely would free up time spent in the kitchen so I can get to important things like driving the kids around :D 
and making lunches for the next school day
Below are more features that the
Bellini Kitchen Master by Cedarlane Culinary offers:
 
The Bellini Kitchen Master ships complete with:
  • External Kitchen Scale
  • Mixing Tool
  • Heat Resistant Spatula
  • Steaming Set
  • 2 Litre Stainless Steel Bowl
  • Cooking Basket
  • Stainless steel chopping blade
  • Stainless steel stirring blade
  • Lid with built in measuring cup
  • Motor Based Housing

 

Why Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master - Product Features:

  • High powered motor allows you to chop, mince, whip, knead, blend stir and crush ice
  • Precise heating element enables you to simultaneously cook, fry and steam
  • 1000W Heating Power
  • 800W Power Motor
  • Variable 10 speed rotary control
  • Adjustable temperature control
  • LCD display with blue background
  • Bilingual recipe booklet with over 60 recipes
  • Beautiful external scale
If you are as excited as I am about this new product into Canada
click on the link below
for more information.
Happy Exploring!




Get the complete information by clicking here:
https://cedarlaneculinary.ca/Products/Detail?code=BMKM510CL&lob=Culinary,

This article is for a product review from:

http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/2013/08/back-to-school-simplicity-test-and-review-the-bellini-kitchen-master/


Grilled Ratatouille & Tabouleh Salad
with
Coriander & White Balsamic
Dressing

Whenever I have BBQ;
These are my go to veggies!
Easy, available and there is no clean up as it is all cooked on the Barbie!
Best of all
Hubby is the one doing it!
I just dress it~
This year when I came back from Italy, I lovingly waited for my zucchini to grow.
Truthfully,
I expected my family to have picked some already, since I was accustomed to seeing the bounty in Italy.
So I waited;
Well, if you grown zucchini you don't have to wait for long!
My patience was rewarded with fast growing zucchini. So much I have already blanched and frozen some and some I made chocolate zucchini cake, which my family loved.
Much of it was cooked fresh and added to many dishes at dinner time.
But this dish is my all time favourite.
Bursting with fresh flavor and I combined Mediterranean with Middle Eastern for this dish.
 
 


Tabouleh
 
1 cup fine cracked wheat
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 cup EVOO
3 tbsp each chopped parsley and mint
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped or quartered grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped unpeeled English cucumber
 
Ratatouille
2 peppers: green, red or yellow
1 eggplant, sliced 1/2" lengthwise
1 zucchini, sliced 1/2" lenghtwise
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup EVOO
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp White balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste

2-3 tbsp. Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese shards
 
Tabouleh
Soak the cracked wheat in water for 1/2hr - 1hr. Depending on how you like the chewy factor.
Drain any remaining water. Toss in vegetables, herbs and coat with oil, salt and pepper. Mix it up well to blend flavours. Set aside. This can be made up to 2 days in advance.
 
Ratatouille:
On a hot grill or BBQ scorch the skin of the peppers until blackened. Remove to slightly cool to the touch. Scrape off peel with your hands or a knife. Seed and cut into desired serving sizes.

Meanwhile grill slices of vegetables turning to cook. They have no extra oil so they will slightly dehydrate but, you will be adding the dressing later, so no worries. When softened remove to a platter to cool to the touch. Cut into desired servings.

In a small heated skillet, toast the coriander seeds. Toss to evenly distribute heat. Remove to cool. Crush in a mortar & pestle or place in a baggy and smash with a meat pounder/hammer or bottom of  an empty wine bottle.
Dressing:
Whisk, oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, parsley and coriander.
Presentation:
Family Style: toss both plates together and serve on a large platter or
Companies Coming: Spread Tabouleh on a large platter and decoratively place the grilled vegetables over top.

Sprinkle warm salad with cheese!
 
 
Enjoy with love!