Author Archives: saltandserenity

Crunchy Winter Slaw

ginger-crinkle-cookies_17As we enter the festive season of butter and sugar, I thought it would be a good idea to have a new recipe at the ready to provide a healthy counterbalance. This slaw recipe was inspired by an Asian slaw I read about in Milk Street Magazine. This new publication is Christopher Kimball’s first venture since leaving Cook’s Illustrated last year.

I have been a huge fan and supporter of Kimball and Cook’s Illustrated since it’s inception in 1993, so I was curious to check out the premiere issue of Milk Street. The premise behind Milk Street is to bring techniques from the world’s kitchens to America’s weeknight dinner table. Christopher explains that, “There’s no ethnic cooking. It’s a myth. It’s just dinner or lunch served from somewhere else in the world…. Milk Street offers an invitation to the cooks of the world to sit at the same table…All food is everyone’s food.”

This is my take on Milk Street’s “Coleslaw by Way of East Asia.” I loved the combination of cabbage, radishes and sugar snap peas, but I wasn’t fond of the dressing (coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and serrano chili). I preferred an apple cider vinaigrette with honey and grainy mustard.

I settled on a combo of Brussels sprouts, red, green and Napa cabbage, radishes and sugar snap peas for my vegetables. Cilantro and mint were also invited to this fresh party.veggiesI believe that every salad needs an element of crunch. Croutons are good, but nuts are better! I was inspired by a maple spicy nut crunch I read about in the LCBO’s Holiday 2016 issue of Food & Drink.  I’m very excited that the magazine is now available online.

I used a combo of pine nuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, sliced almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds. nuts-and-seedsThe nuts get coated in a hot bath of maple syrup, brown sugar, paprika, salt and cayenne. coating-nuts-and-seeds20 minutes in the oven crisps up everything beautifully. I added some dried cherries to the cooled nut mixture. The recipe makes more than you will need, but it keeps perfectly for at least a month in an airtight container. It makes a very yummy afternoon snack.crunch-mixtureready-to-mix

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy-Winter-Slaw.

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Breakfast Pizza

cutting-leek-pizzaI blame my addiction to online shopping on my late paternal grandmother, my Bubbe. I grew up in Toronto, but she lived in Philadelphia. At least twice a years would send us her special poppy seed cookies. She always packaged them in a shoe box for mailing. I was conditioned to anticipate the arrival of apparel boxes at a very early age. It’s not my fault.

If you think about it, online shopping is really just the evolution of 20th Century catalogue shopping. If you are Canadian and of a certain age, you will remember The Eaton’s Catalogue. As a child, I spent many happy hours lusting after Barbie clothes and accessories. Not much has changed.

I recently discovered an unexpected bonus of online shopping. With my Amazon Prime subscription, I have access to Amazon TV. While making these breakfast pizzas, I began binge watching Good Girls Revolt. I had been feeling a bit lost after finishing Downton Abbey, and this series is filling the void.

Feel free to use store-bought pizza dough, or make your own. I am a big fan of Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough. All you do it mix flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Cover it and let is sit overnight until it becomes all bubbly. I have included the recipe for it at the end of this post.

My breakfast pizzas were inspired by an episode on Cook’s Country

The first one I created starts with a ricotta and feta base and is topped with nests of sautéed leeks cradling golden eggs.leek-pizza-mise-en-placespreading-ricottapouring-egg-into-leek-nestEach bite delivers a perfect combination of texture and taste; crispy, bubbly crust, creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, tangy Gruyere and golden brown caramelized leeks.  Topping this pizza off with eggs may seem like excess, but trust me, when your fork breaks the sunny yolk, and you drag the crust through that golden eggy goodness, you will thank me. slice-of-leek-pizzaMy second breakfast pizza is Southwestern, featuring tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, avocado and cilantro.tomato-nestsThinly sliced grape tomatoes form the nests to hold the eggs. pouring-egg-into-tomato-nestThe avocado and cilantro are added after cooking. tomato-avocado-pizza-sliced

 

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Click here to print recipe for Ricotta-and-Leek-Breakfast-Pizza.

Click here to print recipe for Tomato-and-Avocado-Breakfast-Pizzas.

Click here to print recipe for Jim-Laheys-No-Knead-Pizza-Dough.

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Gingerbread Autumn Leaves (Gluten-Free)

drying-on-black-background-72-dpiWhile the leaves have already finished falling where I live, I couldn’t resist making these gorgeous edible ones. It’s just too soon to start making winter cookies. I refuse to get sucked into that vortex this early in the season.  I wanted to make the cookies gluten free since one of my sons follows a gluten- free diet and I was curious to try out Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. It is a blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum. You just substitute it cup for cup in your regular recipes.

I was inspired by Elizabeth over at  lizybakes and crouton crackerjacks on youtube.

Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper and freeze for about 30 minutes before trying to cut out shapes.rolling-out-doughI got some beautiful copper cutters from coppergiftscom. They have thousands of different shapes. If you are a cookie lover it is easy to spend lots of time (and money!) over at their site. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. cutting-out-leavesI mixed up 4 colours of royal icing for my leaves. The formula to get these colours is in the recipe at the end of this post. I like to place the piping bags in a tall drinking glass. I place a crumpled up dampened paper towel in the bottom of each glass too keep the icing from drying out and getting all crusty, once you cut a hole in the piping bag. autumn-coloursYou can only decorate one cookie at a time as the icing must be wet to create the marbling effect. You will need toothpicks and a paper towel to wipe the toothpick off after dragging it through the wet icing. ready-to-pipeI created a video to show the technique.

The cookies will need to dry overnight before you can package them up. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. drying-on-wire-rackPerfect with a glass of milk or an afternoon latte!cookies-and-latte-72-dpi

Click here to print recipe for gluten-free-gingerbread-autumn-leaves.

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Pan Fried Butternut Squash and Apple Salad

black-round-serving-platter-2Guys, I have big news! Perhaps not internet breaking caliber news, but still, kind of exciting. Did you know you could make a vinaigrette with melted browned butter instead of oil? Kind of mind blowing, I know!

There are no shortage of butternut squash and apple salad recipes out there. A quick Google search unearthed 613,000 of them! What makes this one special is the dressing. It’s a brown butter and apple cider vinaigrette and it’s bonkers awesome.

Regular readers of this blog know my love for brown butter. I have used it in seven different desserts. But it had never occured to me to use it as the fat in salad dressing. I have to give credit for this genius idea to Toronto chef Haan Palcu Chang.

If you have never had brown butter before, you are in for a treat. It adds a layer of toasty, nutty deliciousness to anything it touches. Making it couldn’t be simpler. Butter is composed of butterfat, milk protein and water. When you brown butter, you are essentially toasting the milk protein. As you heat the butter, and it begins to bubble and sputter away, the water evaporates and the hot butterfat begins to cook the milk solids, turning them from creamy yellow to a splendid speckled brown colour and your whole kitchen smells like toasted hazelnuts.

The squash is thinly sliced and pan fried until is is almost charred. A cast iron skillet is perfect for this, but a non-stick skillet will also do the job.charring-in-cast-iron-panYou can cook the squash ahead of time and warm it in the oven just before assembling the salad. A tart apple like Granny Smith is a wonderful contrast to the sweet squash. Brown the butter just before you are ready to serve the salad. If you make it ahead of time the butter will start to solidify.black-round-serving-platterWhile the vibrant orange hue of butternut squash is gorgeous on its own, adding a crunchy topping of toasted hazelnuts, a verdant shower of mint and green onions and ruby red jewel-like pomegranate seeds turn this salad into a pretty stunning masterpiece.dinner-for-2

Click here to print recipe for Pan-Fried-Butternut-Squash-and-Apple-Salad.

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Thai Lamb Larb

all-the-fixings-2You may know larb (pronounced “lawb”) from seeing it on the menu of your local Thai restaurant, but it actually originated in Laos, Thailand’s neighbour to the north-east. It has become a staple dish of Thai street food.

Larb is a salad, but not a regular vegetable salad. It is best described as a meat salad. Typically made with  minced pork, chicken or beef, it is seasoned with fish sauce, chili flakes, lime juice and toasted rice to give it a crunchy texture. It is finished with green onions and an assortment of herbs (cilantro, mint and thai basil) to give it a verdant freshness and bring it all together.

Larb, wrapped in a lettuce leaf, (because anytime I can wrap something in a leaf and call it dinner, I am exceedingly happy), with a spoonful of sticky Thai rice, is a magical flavour bomb. Salty, spicy, sour, sweet and crunchy, it hits all the right notes.1-wrap-72-dpi    I decided to make it with ground lamb. While not totally authentic, my version is still quite delicious. I think it would also be great with ground turkey or chicken, for a lighter version.

No discussion of larb is complete without chatting about toasted rice. Browned ground rice adds a crunchy bite and a toasted fragrance. Leela over at shesimmers says, “ Whenever a Thai recipe calls for toasted rice powder, even just a smidgen of it, don’t be tempted to leave it out… This insignificant-looking (ingredient) is what differentiates a vaguely Thai-inspired dish from what a Thai mother serves her family somewhere in Thailand as we speak.”

Toasted rice powder is available at many Asian markets as well as on-line, but it is simple to make at home. Start with about 1/2 cup uncooked Thai rice and toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until light brown and fragrant. (It will smell like you just made popcorn!) Let the rice cool and coarsely grind a few tablespoons at a time in a spice grinder. You only need 1-2 Tablespoons of the ground rice for their recipe. Just store the remainder in an airtight container in the pantry. toasting-rice Once the toasted rice is done, this dinner comes together in about 30 minutes, if you follow this timetable.

Start with making a quickle. (That’s short for a quick pickle!) Julienne some cucumber and carrots and thinly slice some purple onion. Let them hang out in a vinegar/salt/sugar mixture for about 20 minutes, then drain and discard the pickling liquid. The pickled vegetables add a perfect sour note that contrasts beautifully with the rich lamb meat. making-a-quicklePut some Thai rice on to cook. While a rice cooker turns out perfect rice everytime, I have always resisted getting one because I don’t want another kitchen appliance. The reason rice made in a rice cooker always turns out light and fluffy is that it has a mechanism to release steam, which forces out additional moisture that normally gets trapped in a pot resulting in wet rice. Here is my fool-proof method for cooking rice.

I wrap the pot lid in a kitchen towel. The towel mimics the steam release mechanism by absorbing all the excess steam and leaves you with perfectly cooked rice. lid-for-rice-1lid-for-rice-2lid-for-rice-3While the rice is cooking and the vegetables are pickling, cook the lamb. I find a potato masher is the perfect tool for breaking the meat up.

Once the lamb is cooked through, take it off the heat and stir in the toasted rice powder. Start with 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 Tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Stir well and taste. Add more of whatever you think it needs. You want a balance of sweet, spicy, sour and salty. Stir in some sliced green onions.

Let everyone assemble their own wraps. Chopped peanuts add extra crunch. 2-wraps

Click here to print recipe for Thai-Lamb-Larb.