Mexican Wedding Cakes

Ah Seagull, you look like Cindarelly!

The reason I haven’t been writing very much is that I’m home in Vancouver and the main purpose of my visit was to be a part of one of my oldest and dearest friend’s wedding. The wedding was this weekend and it was gorgeous! She had it at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology, which is quite possibly the most stunning venue in the city, an uninterrupted view of mountains and ocean and forest. Not to mention the amazing collection at the museum and cocktails in the long house. And of course all of the fabulous people.

The ceremony was really lovely, a fusion of a lot of different wedding traditions — Jewish, Mauritian and Swedish. At one point, the officiant ground cinnamon sugar into the bride and groom’s hair – an Iranian custom (sans cinnamon) , though as far as I know there were no Iranian family members. In honour of the wedding, here is one more tradition — and a little more cinnamon sugar!

Congratulations Sarah and Alan — August 6th, 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup pecans or hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add half a cup of powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Beat in the flour and add the pecans. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap each in plastic and put in the fridge until cold, about 30 minutes or so.
  2. Heat oven to 175℃ (350°F). Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
  3. Take half of the dough from the fridge. Roll dough into two teaspoon sized balls with your hands. Arrange the balls on a large baking sheet, spread well apart. Bake cookies until they are golden brown on the bottom and a pale golden on top.
  4. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for five minutes and then toss the warm cookies in the sugar mix to coat. Move cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Posted in Cakes, Cookies | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Lamb Popsicles in Fenugreek Cream Curry

Vancouver's famed occupants: Squirrels and Vikram Vij

On Wednesday night I went to Vij’s with my friend Dan. For those of you not from Vancouver, Vij’s is a bit of an institution. Fine-dining Indian food. It was, as always, delicious and wine-soaked. I am starting to think I would enjoy my trips home more if they didn’t involve constant, crippling hangovers but that never seems to stop me from getting into the wine at night. Usually it’s the only way to make the hangover better!

This is the recipe for Vij’s signature dish. This recipe seems to turn up everywhere, I have about four different cookbooks from different authors who have borrowed the recipe for their own collections. And there’s no question why. These are divinely delicious and a real showstopper when served up at a dinner party.

Adapted from Vikram Vij
Ingredients

  • 2-3 French cut racks of lamb, with the bone cleaned down to the chop
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup grainy mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 litre whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried green fenugreek flakes
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Instructions

  1. Cut the racks of lamb into popsicles by slicing the chops between the bones.
  2. Mix the wine, mustard and salt together in a big bowl and add the chops, turning to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the whipping cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek and lemon juice.  In a medium-sized heavy pot saute the garlic in canola oil. Once the garlic is golden, add the turmeric, stir and heat for one minute.
  4. Add the whipping cream mixture and stir, heating on low heat for a few minutes. The water in the whipping cream will evaporate, thickening the sauce. If the heat is too high the cream will separate.
  5. Grill the popsicles just before you are ready to serve the meal. Gently reheat the sauce and pour on top of the popsicles.

Posted in Lamb | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chilled Cucumber Buttermilk Soup

Swell summer soup

I’m not dead. Just jet-lagged. The poor blog has taken a hit the last week or so, but I’m back on it. I’ve arrived in Vancouver and so has the sun. Today I was actually feeling hot, something that hasn’t been an issue for people in Vancouver at all this summer so far.

Being in Vancouver in the summer always makes me wish my grandparents were still with us so I could go and sit in their back garden, swing on their framed hammock and eat bowls of chilled soup and fresh raspberries. My grandmother was a big fan of the chilled soup, and although I couldn’t eat buckets of the stuff it is a nice way to start off a summer meal.

This recipe is from one of Vancouver’s favourite chefs, John Bishop. He runs an upscale restaurant in Kitsilano which inexplicably has always had a coat rack made of billiard balls in the window. A weird greeting for a $40 a plate restaurant.

Adapted from Fresh by John Bishop  
Ingredients

  • 6-7 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped mint
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and use a grater to grate the cucumbers and onions. Allow to drain for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Transfer cucumber and onion to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  3. Strain pureed vegetables through the sieve, discarding any solids.
  4. Whisk in buttermilk, mint, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  6. Serve in chilled bowls and garnished with mint.

 

Posted in Buttermilk, Cucumbers, Soups | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sweet Corn Salsa

All dressed up!

Ah, summer, I can almost taste it. It’s still the dead of winter here, but I’ll be back to Vancouver summer tomorrow. Which is the reason the blog has been so neglected the last couple of days. My dear husband is being left behind, and it was our five year anniversary, so for once something took precedence over animals in clothes… a rare occurence!

This is the kind of food I’m dreaming about right now. Winter is awesome, the perfect time for loading up on carbs and cheese and meat and other nuggets of deliciousness. But around this time you start to crave a change in season. It’s like a weight in the gut. Or is that just my ultra-tight pants?

I can’t wait to be back home with my nearest and dearest, eating fabulously fresh fruits and vegetables, enjoying every minute. The only tinge of sadness is that my dear husband won’t be there… but I’ll just have to eat for two! This is the perfect dressing for barbecued meats.

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 – 4 shakes Tabasco sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 175℃ (350℉).
  2. Toss the corn with the oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  3. While the corn is cooling, prepare the other ingredients. Toss everything together, season to taste and serve alongside grilled meats or enchiladas.

 

Posted in Corn, Red Onion, Red Pepper | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nigel Slater’s Hot Cheese Muffins

Nice muffins, Daryl!

I’m gearing up to go on holiday, so all of my willpower and resolve has flown out the window. Tonight I was going to go to the gym, but ended up wandering around the mall looking for an anniversary present for my husband. Then, unsuccessful in my efforts, meeting my co-workers for a beer. I’ve been lazy in updating my blog, and even lazier in my cooking. Nigel Slater’s hot cheese muffins are the perfect thing to come home to, exhausted from work and shopping and beer and devoid of any self control whatsoever. Delish!

By the way, this pig’s name is Daryl. Which is even better than cheese covered muffins.

Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food  
Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 spring onions, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 hot, toasted English muffins, split

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes until soft and golden. Stir in the cheese until it is melted and slide the whole mixture onto hot toasted muffins.

Posted in Bread, Cheddar, Sandwiches | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

Roasted Red Delicious

Brrr… this Sydney winter feels like it’s never going to end. At least the torrential rain has finally ceased, which means it has finally stopped raining in our kitchen. Given the rust-coloured liquid leaking over our stove, last week was not the best for cooking, or blogging really (my computer fogged up behind the screen because of condensation!). It’s  cleared up — the weather, the kitchen, the screen — but it’s still freezing. The perfect time to make this hearty and delicious soup.

Ingredients

  • 15 Roma tomatoes, cut in half and seeded.
  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 200℃ (400℉).
  2. Put the tomatoes, fennel, garlic and onion in a bowl and toss to coat in olive oil.
  3. Spread veggies on two baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once, until soft and browned.
  4. Combine the vegetables and stock in a soup pot and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Blend the honey and balsamic together and mix into the soup. Puree with a hand blender until smooth.
  6. Serve with crusty bread, garnished with flavourful olive oil and chopped parsley.

 

Posted in Fennel, Soups, Tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coconut Pancakes

The perfect fit for a Saturday morning

I really do love Saturdays. Sleeping in and sipping coffee and watching bad reality television on On Demand. Today I watched Pregnant in Heels for the first time. It terrifies and disgusts me on almost every level, which means I will surely continue to watch it every Saturday from now on. Watching a couple hold a focus group to decide on a name for their baby is hungry work. As the credits rolled I immediately made my way to the kitchen.

These are a nice change from normal pancakes. They are an excellent option if you’re out of eggs (or don’t eat them) because they can be made entirely with dry goods from the pantry. They are great served with fresh fruit, jam, or lime juice and raw sugar.

Adapted from Mark Bittman 
Ingredients

  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • One 414ml (14 oz) can of coconut milk
  • 1½ cups warm water, more as needed
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 100℃ (200℉).
  2. Combine the flour, coconut and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut milk and warm water. The batter should be fairly thin, but not watery. Add more water if needed.
  3. Put a large skillet over medium heat. Add a thin film of vegetable oil and allow it to get hot. Spoon batter into the pan to make the size of pancake your prefer. Allow to cook until bubbles form on the top, then flip over and brown the other side. Keep warm in the oven.
  4. Serve with raspberries, jam, or sugar and lime.
Posted in Coconut, Pancakes | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

A little bit of elegant crunch

I’m a bit obsessed with finding the perfect oatmeal cookie. I just think that cookies are better with oatmeal. And chocolate. And if possible, pecans. These cookies are pretty awesome. I’m not sure that I’ve found the perfect recipe yet but these got devoured at work faster than a pack of Tim Tams, which has to count for something. What’s your favourite oatmeal cookie recipe?

Ingredients

  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 180℃ (350℉).
  2. Melt the butter in a small pot and allow to cool for a minute or two. Mix butter together with oil and then mix with the sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in milk and vanilla.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together with butter mixture until blended. Fold in oats, chocolate chips and nuts if using.
  4. If possible, chill dough for 20 minutes before using. Spoon into small balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Chill dough between batches.

Posted in Cookies | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Recipe Roundup

Another two weeks has come and gone and here are the recipes to prove it!
While I’m always full of ideas, I’m also always looking for inspiration. If you have any recipes or animals you’d like to see here, please send them to me! itsfeedingtimeatthezoo@gmail.com

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Coconut Macaroons

Sweet Potato Ravioli in Cheese Broth

Creamy Rhubarb Cocktails

Penne Alla Vodka

Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins

Buttermilk Mac and Cheese

Butter Lettuce with Basil Almond Dressing

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

Avocado with Warm Bacon Dressing

Damper (Campfire Bread)

VB Stew

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Get that chicken in your pot!

My mother used to make chicken a la king for us with the leftovers from a roast and it was my all-time favourite dish as a child. When I was really young, she’d always serve it on top of toasted white sandwich bread. When I got a little older she graduated to puff pastry vol au vents purchased from the French patisserie that opened up in the strip mall next to the 7-11. And then she stopped making it, and never wrote down the recipe, leaving me now with nothing but a memory of it. I’ve tried to reproduce it from recipes, but mom’s version was obviously not tradtional, it’s always turned out wrong.

Having put the chicken a la king out of my mind, I was experimenting with an easy way to make chicken pot pie when I made this recipe. It’s not so traditional. The bechamel-style sauce is replaced with pure, heavy cream — not the healthiest of substitutions for sure, but one that really makes the dish lovely. There are no carrots or peas to be had in this one either, just a lovely hit of mushroom, leek and garlic. Perfect companions to both the chicken and the cream. Adding a little sherry to the mushrooms at the end of cooking would be awesome, I didn’t have any around the day I made this, so the recipe is without.

The pie turned out delicious, and surprisingly remniscent of mother’s chicken a la king, although I can guarantee hers was made with half and half. We always had a litre carton of the stuff in the fridge, mom drank her coffee creamy and sickly sweet– at least 6 cups a day. I’m seriously tempted to make this again, but served on toasted white bread. Somehow that would seem even more like home.

makes 4 small pies
Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped, white and light green only
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1½ – 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lots of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 sheets ready rolled frozen puff pastry

Instructions

  1. To poach the chicken: put breasts in water or stock in a pot on the stove so that they are covered by at least half an inch. To this liquid you can add any or all of the following: celery, onion, garlic, peppercorns, a bay leaf and dried herbs. These will add flavour, but aren’t really necessary considering the richness of the sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to sit in the liquid for another 10 minutes. Remove breasts and allow to cool.
  2. Heat the oven to 200℃ (400℉).
  3. In a large, heavy saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and the garlic. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates. Pour in the cream and allow to come to a simmer, let it cook down a little until the sauce is thickened a little. Remove from heat. Shred the chicken and stir it in, season to taste with salt and pepper and add the chopped parsley.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4 ramekins. Cut a square of puff pastry to sit on top of each. You can seal the pastry around the edges with a little water, making sire to cut a few slits to let the steam escape, or you can set a loose square on top of each (the pastry will puff more, but it will look less like a pie). Brush with egg wash if desired and bake on a tray for about 20 minutes.

 

Posted in Chicken, Mushrooms | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments