The weather has been a bit wonky here. Feels like summer one day and chilly the next. This is a perfect cozy meal. I wrote about this recipe a long time ago, but my very amateur photography skills didn’t display it in the best light. This is a post worth repeating.
The household (read: the husband) doesn’t eat red meat, but I don’t miss it with this recipe. The bbq sauce is worthy for vegans and meat eaters alike. Even if you’re not a big tofu fan, it’s worth making the sauce. This is a great vegan recipe to have in your repertoire.
Pomegranate molasses are called for in this recipe. You can find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but I’ve also found the ingredient quite easily in gourmet shops.
Pomegranate BBQ Tofu (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
1. Marinate the tofu in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon tamari. Bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes in the oven then flip the slices and bake for 15 minutes longer.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat sauté the shallots and the garlic for about 5 minutes, add the 5 spice and sauté 1 minute more. Add the rest of the ingredients in order of the recipe. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir frequently.
3. When the tofu is done, smother with the sauce and bake for 15 minutes longer. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
The Dirty Apron is a cooking school and delicatessen in Vancouver. I’ve heard that their classes are great, but I haven’t made it out there yet. I had a great experience at a cooking class I took in Toronto. You get to learn new techniques, but I think the best aspect of those classes is how social it is. It’s fun for everyone to sit down and eat together.
The Dirty Apron now has a cookbook
with fail-proof recipes. So if you can’t make it to there, this book has a bunch of recipes from the cooking school as well as from their catering menu.
The skill level ranges from beginner (smoked salmon bagels with lemon and dill cream cheese) to advanced (crab cannelloni). There isn’t a “mains” chapter, but instead a “meat and poultry” and “seafood”. Looking through the pages, there are very few vegetarian dishes. The ones that are there are mostly salads. If you’re a vegetarian, this book may not be your thing. For me, most of these recipes aren’t simple enough for weeknight fare (especially with a baby!). These are the recipes to pull out for weekends or when company is coming over. I like the chef notes that are accompanied with the recipe like what items can be prepped in advance.
I put a lot of faith in this book and made my Thanksgiving dinner from it. I made the roasted turkey breast and boneless roasted stuffed turkey leg with cranberry compote. It was just R and I (and baby) for dinner, so I just made the turkey breast instead of doing a whole turkey. Everything came together with ease and it was a low stress affair. I brined the breast first for two hours using the Cook’s Illustrated brine that is a sugar and salt solution to keep things simple. For the stuffing, I substituted hazelnuts for the chestnuts because I couldn’t find any in the store. These were game changer recipes for me! The stuffing was better than the one that I always do and the turkey was incredibly moist.
With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to make the dirty twixter bars. They’re described as a combination of a Twix and Skor The recipe is a bit time consuming as you need to make the shortbread base, dulce de leche and then the salted caramel ganache. I guess to simplify things you can always buy the dulce de leche. I broke it up into two days making the base on the first day and then everything else the next day. For the ganache, I simply just stirred everything together. Two reasons: my immersion blender is busted and the baby was asleep. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this with a food processor. Just put the chopped chocolate in the bowl and with the motor running pour the caramel mixture in.
For the dulce de leche, it tells you to boil the cans with water. I’ve heard about about cans exploding (this usually happens when there isn’t enough water covering them). Exploding cans make me nervous and I’d be likely to forget to check to see if there’s enough water covering them. Most importantly, on the can of condensed milk it has a warning to not heat the can. So I used the less nerve-wracking oven method. David Lebovitz’s dulce de leche recipe is simple. Pour the contents into a glass pan that’s nested in a deeper dish, add water and in an hour or so you get the same result.
These bars are rich and gooey. Don’t be caught without a napkin when eating these! The mix of dark chocolate with milk and the fleur de sel makes them not overly sweet. People who have eaten them have used the word “amazing” to describe them. Note: it’s best to cut these when they’re cold. My dulce de leche wasn’t that firm so it oozed when I cut them. For the cleanest cuts, use a long serrated knife and wipe clean.
The Dirty Twixter Bars
Original recipe yields 36 bars, but you can halve the recipe and make it in a 9×13 pan
Brown sugar shortbread base
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
2 cups unsalted butter, in small cubes
Dulce de leche filling
2 cans (each 12 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
Salted caramel ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 lb plus 2 1/2 oz milk chocolate, roughly choped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
Brown sugar shortbread base Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12×16 inch half sheet pan that has a 1-inch rim with aluminum foil. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the brown sugar and flour until combined. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the butter, one cube at a time, and beat at medium-low until the dough is just combined. Press the shortbread dough evenly into the prepared pan, then prick it all over with a fork. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Dulce de leche filling Place the cans in a pot large enough to cover them with 4 inches of water. Add the water, bring to a boil on high heat and cook, uncovered for 4 hours, checking occasionally to be sure the water is still covering the cans. (Add more water, if necessary, to be sure the cans are constantly covered with water.) Turn off the heat and set aside, leaving the cans in the water until everything comes to room temperature.
Open the cans and spoon the sticky brown dulce de leche into a bowl. Using a spoon, stir until the mixture is smooth, then spread it over the shortbread base. Sprinkle evenly with fleur de sel. Set aside.
Salted caramel ganache Place the dark and milk chocolates in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the butter and cream in a small pot over low heat and cook until warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the sugar and water in a large pot over high heat and boil the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 250F (use a candy thermometer to test the temperature.) slowly pour the cream mixture into this syrup to make a caramel. Stir in the fleur de sel and vanilla, then pour the salted caramel over the combined chocolates and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Using a handheld blender, emulsify the mixture to make a ganache. Avoid making large bubbles. Pour this ganache over the dulce de leche and refrigerate the bars overnight. Cut into individual bars before serving.
Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Note: Make sure to sprinkle a thin line of fleur de sel on top to make this an extra-special indulgence Excerpted with permission from The Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson (Figure.1)
Disclosure: I received a review copy. As always, my opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this post.
I was really excited to receive How to Feed a Family
for review when I was pregnant. I also received this as a gift (signed by the author!). While my kid won’t be eating the meals in this book for awhile, I don’t have the same luxury of time to be in the kitchen for hours. It’s tiring work growing a human being, so a lot of the cooking was done by R. He can cook, but he doesn’t like recipes. His meals are much more laid back: grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, nachos and cheese, tuna melts or a frozen meal. While he is happy to eat that all the time, I need some variety. So I made him test out the cookbook.
He bookmarked a bunch of recipes to try which is always a good sign.
Apple and chicken curry was simple to make and the directions were straight forward. It’s quick enough for a weeknight dinner and the yogurt gives the dish a nice creaminess. It wasn’t too spicy so it’s very kid friendly. 2 chicken thighs didn’t seem enough, so we used more. I wish the weight for the chicken was given as pieces can vary in weight.
For an easy breakfast, I made the Oatmeal and Strawberry Blender Pancakes. Because all the ingredients are just thrown in, the batter comes together in no time. The pancakes tasted…well…healthy. I’m used to making fluffy, not very wholesome, but delicious pancakes on the weekend. I understand as a parent you want to feed your kids more nutritious meals. Would I serve these to my kids? Absolutely! Would I make them for a brunch with friends? Probably not. Balance is key so I would consider these as everyday pancakes and the version I usually make as a weekend treat.
The last recipe I tested was Risotto, Spinach and Kale Cakes with Parmesan. These are bite sized and easy to take on the go. Once I made it, I had to make it again that same week. Doubling the recipe and freezing it would make an easy last minute dinner option. I’d also mow down these as a snack. I usually take pictures of what I make, but none of the pictures turned out.
There’s a handy legend letting you know which ones are quick to make or my favourite, the ones that make little mess. I would have also liked to see a quick index for the legend. That way I can see a list of make ahead meals at a glance.
The book is geared to older children so you won’t see any first foods like purees. While I still have a couple of years before my baby will be eating any of the food in this book, I like how it’s fast and uncomplicated.
image courtesy of Random House
Risotto, Spinach and Kale Cakes with Parmesan
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Makes: about 8
1/2 cup (125 ml) arborio rice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (250 ml) chopped kale, fresh or frozen
1 cup (250 ml) chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup (125 ml) Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400F(200C). Using a nonstick spray, grease a muffin tin.
Cook the arborio rice according to the package directions. If you’re using fresh greens, wash and remove any tough stems then chop. If your greens are frozen, thaw them for a few minutes and squeeze out any liquid.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the kale and spinach and sauté for about 5 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Transfer to a medium-size bowl and add the rice and cheese. Beat the eggs and then add to the rice. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) space at the top. Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the egg is set and the edges are golden brown.
Allow to cool for a few minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn the cakes onto a plate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I have books that languish on my shelves for ages before I make something from it. The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is different. I keep reaching for it when I’m looking for something to make. To be honest, it had me as soon as I saw the “s’more pie” recipe. I was even willing to buy a kitchen blowtorch for it.
Cheryl and Griff Day own a bakery in Savannah and have compiled the recipes from the bakery into one sweet book. Southern comfort food is instantly obvious when you begin to flip through the pages. The recipes draw you in and you’ll want to make everything out of the book. I love the gorgeous photography and the way the authors take the time on instructing you on how to get the best results out of your baking.
The first recipe I tried was the s’more pie for my Western themed party. This chocolate was deeply intense (I used 70% cocoa) and I think a standard bittersweet (50-60%) would make the pie less rich. I had to scale back in using all of the meringue topping because it was already starting to look like it was a mile high. You can easily just make the chocolate pudding portion as a quick dessert option. This pie screams showstopper:
I have a habit of going on cookbook binges and then having them sit on my shelf for ages without trying a recipe. It’s not that I do this intentionally, life just happens.
I never bought the Momofuku cookbook that everyone has sitting on their shelves. But Momofuku Milk Bar was instantly on my list when it came out. I can’t even tell you how long it has been sitting on my shelf before I used it. Continue reading →