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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Curry Couscous

I love curry, I love couscous... Yeah!

Put the amount of water your couscous package says to use for 2 servings into a small pot. Add:

1 1/2 tsp Curry Powder (I used 1 tsp Sweet Curry and 1/2 tsp Maharajah with saffron in it)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Lemon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Finish couscous according to the directions and add 1 Tbsp butter. Serve as a side dish (I suggest with baked chicken).

Info on my spices:
Sweet Curry:
Maharajah Curry:
Poultry seasoning:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cottage Pie

Or rather, Ivayla's bastardized version of an English classic :). Ideas from here and here.

Ingredients for a 12-inch (30 cm) pie:

4 medium potatoes
milk, butter, salt to taste

~ 1 lb/500 g ground beef meat*
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 medim carrots, sliced
3 roasted peppers, cut into strips
7.5 oz/200 g canned green peas
7.5 oz/200 g canned chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt, pepper to taste

* I had pot roast leftovers that I ground in the food processor, and since it was already seasoned, I skipped the spices.


Boil the potatoes in water until soft.
Drain and mash with the butter and milk.
Season with salt and pepper

Heat some oil in a skillet.
Add the onion and carrots and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft.
Add the ground beef and brown it.
Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme.
Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
Add cornstarch.
Stir in peas.

Spread a thin layer of mashed potatoes on the bottom of an oiled pie pan.
Spoon the meat mixture on top.
Cover with strips of roasted pepper.
Top with the rest of the mashed potatoes.
Bake on 375 F/190 C for about 30 min or until golden brown.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Twice-baked Potatoes

I put the vegetarian (vegan?) and low-fat labels on it, because you can take out the bacon, add a little salt, and have no negative effects. But, since I'm a carnivore, there's bacon. :-P

Twice-baked Potatoes
Yield: 2 servings

1 Big honkin' baking potato
2 Strips bacon
2 1/2 Tablespoons pesto
2 Handfuls of fresh spinach, rinsed

Bake the potato on a 1 hr. at 425 F (220 C) on a baking sheet. Fry bacon and drain on a paper towel in a small bowl. Crumble them. When the potato is done, take it out and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the meat into a medium-sized bowl and add the pesto and bacon. Stir until it is just brought together. Roughly chop spinach into smallish pieces and mix with the potato. Put the mixture evenly in the two potato skins. It won't look like it will fit, but it will (spinach shrinks). Put it back on the tray and bake in the oven for 30 min.

You can throw a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese in it if you so desire.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chocolate Cake for Tiziri

This recipe was originally my Great Aunt's, but then I changed it a little (which is what ends up happening to just about every recipe I've ever made). I hope you like it!

1/2 c Butter
2 t Baking Soda
2 c Sugar
1 t Salt
2 Eggs
3/4 c Cocoa Powder
1 t Vanilla Extract
2 c Boiling Water
2 c All-purpose Flour
Strawberry or raspberry pie filling/syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, soda, and salt in a separate bowl. In yet another bowl (that can hold 3+ cups), pour the boiling water over the cocoa and stir. Mix a little of the flour mixture with the butter, then a little cocoa/water, then a little flour... Repeat until all is combined. Bake for 30 minutes in a 9x13 pan. When cooled, pour a little too much of the pie filling or syrup over the top and spread it around. Let it soak in and serve.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Berry Pie

I've been eyeing this recipe for a while, especially since it's from a book that I am contemplating getting. I finally got a chance to make it - my first ever American pie, yay! It's delicious too :). The crust takes in from the filling and gets wonderfully juicy, but not soaked and it holds the filling beautifully. And the filling has this divine tartly sweet taste that cooked berries have. OK, enough with the self-promotion, on with the recipe :).

Ingredients for one two-crust 9-inch (23 cm) pie:

For the crust:
14 tablespoons (7 oz, 200 g) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups (320 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water*
1 tablespoon vinegar**

* Ice water = water with ice in it. I don't remember why the cold temperature is so important, but it is.

** The vinegar's purpose is to prevent the dough from forming tight gluten bonds and help it stay flaky. You can't taste it, so don't skip it. The recipe said cider vinegar, but I used wine vinegar. I assume any type will do.

For the filling:
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) cornstarch (cornflour)
a pinch of salt
the zest of one lemon (about 2 teaspoons), finely grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups (about 1 lb, 500 g) berries. The recipe uses fresh blackberries, I used a mix of frozen raspberries, blueberries and marionberries.


For the crust:

* The crust is not labor-intensive, but it takes a while to make, as it has to rest in the fridge a few times in increments of 1 hour, 30 min, and 1 hour, so a total of 2 and a half hours. The resting is important, as it allows the dough to settle, not shrink during baking and form the flakes that it should. If you don't care to wait, just use store-bought crust.

Divide the 14 tablespoons of butter into 2 portions: 9 tablespoons and 5 tablespoons (130 g and 70 g).
Refrigerate the 9 tablespoon portion and freeze the 5 tablespoon portion for at least 30 minutes.
Place the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Process for a few seconds to combine.
Add the refrigerated butter, cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes, and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the frozen butter, cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes, and pulse until the frozen butter is the size of peas.
Add 5 tablespoons of ice water and the vinegar and pulse 6-7 times
Pinch a small amount of the mixture to see if it holds together.
If not, add another 1 tablespoon water and pulse 3 times.
Try pinching again to see if it holds together.
If not, add the final 1 tablespoon water and pulse 3 times.

At this point, my dough still looked like a mess of dry crumbs, but I am happy that I resisted my urge to add more water in it :).

Divide the dough in half. Wrap each portion with plastic wrap and flatten into discs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Remove one disc of pie dough from the fridge.
If it's too hard to roll, let it sit out for about 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) thick and about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter.

I always have trouble rolling buttery doughs, as they tend to stick to the counter and tear. So I cover the counter with plastic wrap, cover the rolling pin with plastic wrap and roll it like that. Easy to clean up too!

Carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie pan.
Trim the dough edge to about even with the edge of the pan.
Cover with plastic and let dough rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest.
Whisk in the lemon juice to make a slurry.
Add the berries and gently toss them to coat with the slurry.
Mine were frozen and easy to handle, but if you are using fresh, be careful not to crush them.
Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Assembling the pie:

Toss the berries once more and then pour the mixture into the bottom crust.
Roll out the remaining disk of dough to about 12 inches in diameter.
Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water and gently place the top crust over the berries.
Tuck any overhang under the bottom crust and press down to seal the two crusts.
With the tip of a knife, cut 3-5 slits in the top crust to allow steam to vent.
Cover pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.

Set your oven rack to the lowest position, so that the bottom crust bakes well.
Preheat oven to 425F (220 C).
Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juice.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Check the pie after 20 minutes and protect the edges from over-browning (mine did!) with a ring of foil if necessary.
Allow pie to cool on a rack for at least 4 hours before serving. This is not only to protect you from burning your mouth :) but also to allow the filling to settle.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quick bread recipe

This is the ultimate quick bread recipe, in my opinion. It's called "Zucchini Bread", but today I didn't have zucchini, so I decided to use applesauce instead. Figures I wouldn't have applesauce either, so I dug out some frozen mashed pears, peeled and chopped up a granny smith apple into it, and called it good enough. And it was good enough!

Oh, and your mouth will thank you to let the bread sit for a few minutes before devouring. Apple chunks get pretty hot... :-/

3 Eggs
1 c Vegetable Oil
2/3 c Sugar
2 c Grated zucchini (or whatever)
2 t Vanilla extract
1 t Salt
1/4 t Baking powder
3 c All-purpose flour
1 t Baking soda
3 t Ground cinnamon (optional, but strongly suggested)
Fresh-ground nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8X4 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, and sugar together. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into egg mixture. Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few little crumbs left. Let cool as long as possible before you or a family member devour it.

You can ruin it with 1/2 c chopped walnuts if you absolutely must.

Sweet Chocolate Fruit Cake

I just invented this cake for the fun of it today, based on various other cakes, and it’s scrumptious – moist, sweet, chocolatey, fruity . . . oh, try it. It’s good.

This quantity makes a small cake in a loaf tin, but it’s easy to make it bigger.


4 ounces (110g) margarine
4 ounces (110g) caster sugar
2 eggs
4 ounces (110g) self-raising flour
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup (125mL) mixed dried fruit
Heaped ¼ cup (60mL+) desiccated coconut (shredded coconut)
Golden syrup


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F) and grease a loaf tin (pan).

2. Cream margarine and sugar.

3. Add eggs to margarine and sugar, and mix until incorporated.

4. Sieve (sift) flour and cocoa and mix until incorporated.

5. Add milk, dried fruit and coconut and combine until mixture is even.

6. Place about half of the mixture in the loaf tin (pan) and spread it out evenly. Drizzle golden syrup (generously, but not completely covering the mixture) over the top of the mixture, then add the rest of the mixture, smooth out and repeat drizzling of golden syrup.

7. Bake in 180 C oven for half an hour.

8. After cooking, turn cake out onto cooling rack and immediately flip over so that the top of the cake is facing upwards. The top of the cake will be extremely soft and may stick and tear if allowed to cool onto the cooling rack.

9. The cake should be left to cool for a while as the hot fruit may burn the mouth, but it can be enjoyed warm once it has cooled a little – that’s what I did!

I have no plans to ice the cake but I’m sure it would be superb with a vanilla cream cheese icing or even just a drizzle of basic glacé icing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mediterrean Pasta

I had no idea what to call this, my friend introduced me to the preparation and given the ingredients I thought the name fit. :)

It's quite easy and very versatile. It makes a nice side or a hearty vegetarian lunch for two.

4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (any pasta can be used, but spaghetti is best)
1/2 cup chopped broccoli OR zucchini (and/or onion) or both :D
enough EVOO to coat the spaghetti, about 2 tablespoons or so
(*optional 1 tablespoon EVOO and 1 tablespoon butter instead, I prefer straight oil, but I compensate for my husband)
to taste:
garlic powder
dried basil

Do I even need to explain? *Grin* Cook spaghetti and vegetables, toss with oil (and/or butter) and spices. (You don't even need the veggies if you don't want, but really, why not?)

It's so easy but the taste is somewhat, I don't know, sophisticated? At least for this domestically-challenged girl. :D I adore basil so I use a lot. Normally I would recommend just cooking with fresh (or minced) garlic but the powder makes sure the flavor is evenly distributed and the texture is smooth instead of chunky, depending on how/if you do the veggies. You can use regular spaghetti but the slightly nutty taste of the WW makes it better, in my opinion.

Boring recipe, but I haven't posted in a while and I just made this tonight and wanted to share.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Leek and Potato Soup

I was looking for a recipe and I found a recipe for microwavable Leek and Potato Soup. I don't have any microwavable dishes. I didn't have the spices they were looking for. So I created my own version and it was delicious:

Leek and Potato Soup
- Four cups of vegtable broth (I used boullion)
- Two Bay Leaves
- Two Potatoes or Three Small Potatoes - roughly chopped
- 1 Small Onion - roughly chopped
- 6-7 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Leeks - roughly chopped
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- In a large stockpot heat vegtable broth until it boils. Add in potatoes once it's boiling, turn the heat to medium. Add in three cloves of garlic and bay leaves
- In a pan add olive oil, heat until it's spitting. Add in three cloves of garlic, sautee until fragnant, then add onions and leeks. Sautee until they become brown.
- Add onions and leeks to broth, turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are done. - Top with a sprinklilng of parsley