Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes add a punch to just about anything. Add them to a grilled cheese sandwich, charcuterie plate or even as nacho toppings!

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Picked Radishes
1/4 litre jar

from David Lebovitz’s pickled radishes recipe

1 bunch of small red round radish
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
1 clove of garlic, peeled

Slice the radishes into rounds.

In a saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorn and garlic.

Pack the radishes and garlic in a clean 1/4 litre jar, and pour the hot liquid over them.

Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Easy Spicy Focaccia with Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Paul Hollywood’s focaccia recipe is a winner.

Focaccia bread make the best sandwiches. They’re so springy and full of lovely pockets of air just begging to soak up all of the flavours. Imagine filling these fluffy Italian breads with roasted veggies and pesto OR grilled meats or salami and cheese, like mozarella and provolone. The possibilities! If sandwiches aren’t your thing, they’re just as good for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar OR eaten with a big, hearty bowl of soup.

Now, this focaccia that I made…it’s quite spicy. My whole body broke into sweats while eating it.  If you can’t take the heat replace the scotch bonnet peppers with something milder! OR not.

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Scotch Bonnet Focaccia 

From Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia recipe  on BBC Food 

Ingredients

Bread
500g/1lb 2oz/3-4 cups of strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast OR 30 g of fresh yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml/14fl oz/1 1/2 – 2 cups of cold water

Topping
olive oil, for drizzling
fine sea salt
1 scotch bonnet pepper, julienned and seeds removed

Preparation

Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. (If using fresh yeast dissolve the yeast in water first.) Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.

Rub some oil on your hands and stretch the dough in the bowl by tucking the sides into the centre. Turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Line a deep baking dish (I used a 9 x 9-inch tray) with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten it a bit, careful not to pop the air bubbles. Sprinkle the peppers on top then leave to proof for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done by tapping the bottom of the bread and hear a hollow sound. Once cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.

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Bon appetit!

Orange Blossom Madeleines

The trick to the madeleine’s characteristic bump is a chilled batter and cold madeleine pan. But bump or no bump, these classic shell-shaped teacakes are dainty and absolutely lovely with tea or coffee.

Back when I was studying in London, there were brief periods of time when all I had for breakfast was a madeleine with coffee. It became part of a daily routine: wake up, make coffee, have madeleine (Bonne Maman brand), check Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, watch an episode of Bob’s Burger or Archer, maybe have a second madeleine, and, finally, get dressed and leave room to join the rest of humanity (sometimes). Student living wasn’t the most glamorous, but the weeks when I did have madeleines on hand, even though they were store bought, just felt a little bit special.

My breakfasts have been more hearty lately. But… I do make madeleines at home now! My lovely Mom gifted me a set of madeleine pans for my birthday back in October, and I’ve made about 12 dozen madeleines since then. I think it’s about time I share them with you!

So, today, I’m sharing Bouchon Bakery’s traditional madeleines. The only tweak I made was to substitute lemon oil with orange blossom water.

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From experience, I find that my madeleines rise much better when the batter has had a long time to chill in the fridge. Freezing the madeleine pans also helps. I’m not exactly sure of the science behind this, but it does have something to do with the interaction of the cold batter and heat from the oven.

Bouchon Bakery's Traditional Madeleines

  • Servings: 12 madeleines
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From Sebastien Rouxel’s and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book.

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Ingredients

All-purpose flour – 68 grams | 1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons
Baking powder – 2.2 grams | 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – 0.6 gram | 1/4 teaspoon
Eggs – 83 grams | 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon  (about 2-3 large eggs, room temperature, beaten)
Granulated sugar – 55 grams | 1/4 cup + 1 1/4 teaspoons
Unsalted butter, room temperature – 66 grams | 2/3 ounces
Dark brown sugar – 9 grams | 2 teaspoons
Honey – 9 grams | 1/4 teaspoons
1 to 2 drops lemon oil OR 1 teaspoon of Orange Blossom water

Preparation

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed for about 1 minute. Gently warm the bowl to dissolve the sugar. (I do this by setting up a bain marie, placing the stand mixer bowl on top of a pot of gently boiling water.) Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the bowl back to the stand and mix on high speed for about 4 minutes, until the batter doubles in volume.

Meanwhile, melt the butter, brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat, bout 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in half of the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the warm butter mixture over the batter. Add the lemon oil and/or orange blossom water, and fold until the mixture becomes a smooth batter. Place batter in a covered container and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

While the batter is in the fridge, prepare madeleine pan. Brush the pan with butter and refrigerate or freeze to harden the butter. When ready to bake, remove the pan from the fridge and dust with flour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Spoon the batter into the molds (1 tablespoon each). Tap the bottom of the pan against table to smooth the top of the batter.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes in convection oven, 8 to 9 minutes in standard oven, until the tops are lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Immediate unmound the madeleine and cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

 

Easy Homemade English Muffins

Making English muffins from scratch is much easier than you think. You don’t even need an oven. There are plenty of recipes out there that look promising (each with different dough consistency, method, fermentation time, etc…), including one I’ve bookmarked in my favourite bread making book (Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley), but today I present a relatively fast and simple recipe adapted from beautiful French blogger extraordinaire,  Mimi Thorisson.

These muffins can be made within an hour and half. (That’s a good thing to know, especially on days when you wake up craving a certain breakfast sandwich from a certain fast food chain.)

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Because the rise time is so short, the muffins won’t have time to develop much flavour. (Longer rise time = more flavour.) Buttermilk, which adds a bit of a tang, will help give it some depth. But don’t worry if you don’t have any, water works just fine.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you won’t need those English muffins molds. The dough is firm and can be rolled and cut (or shaped by hand), then pan fried. The muffins will puff up once they hit the pan. If you prefer thinner muffins, lightly press them down. (Also, if your muffins look misshapen and weird, like mine on the first try, that’s totally fine!)

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Once baked, cut the muffins open and toast. (In our hungry rush to eat, we didn’t even think of toasting the muffins! Shame. Just imagine the photo of the muffin above all brown and toasted.)

Homemade English Muffins

  • Servings: 10-16 English Muffins
  • Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
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Recipe adapted from Mimi Thorisson’s Eggs Benedict post.

Ingredients

300 g  (1 1/4 cup) of lukewarm water or buttermilk
560 g (3 1/2 to 4 cups) of all-purpose flour
10 g of fresh yeast / 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs whites, beaten to soft peaks
1/2 cup of coarse cornmeal

Preparation

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm water and/or buttermilk and mix in the yeast. Add in the dry ingredients followed by the egg whites. Mix well until smooth. (If it doesn’t seem like the dough will combine, use your hands to pinch them together.) Once the dough starts to stick together, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until elastic and silky. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a clean cloth. (To prevent the dough from drying, I sometimes rub a bit of oil over the dough.) Let rise 1 hour in a warm place.

Once risen, roll out the dough and cut out into rounds using a cookie cutter or a glass. Dip the dough in cornmeal and let rest for another 30 minutes.

While the dough is proofing, heat a slightly oiled frying pan or skillet until hot. Reduce to medium high and fry each muffins on the pan for 4 minutes on each side. If it seems like the English Muffins are burning, reduce the temperature.

Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

The Super Bowl is over and you don’t know what to do with all the garlic bread you made, obviously.

For when you have stale week-old garlic bread in your fridge. Why? Because your family goes all out with party food and you’ve been eating leftovers all week. So, nobody’s been cooking and now it’s the weekend again and all the food is gone–not even any rice left!–BUT there’s garlic bread.  And some kale… Oooh, look, a piece of chorizo. Cheese? Yes, there’s cheese. Do you still have eggs? Yep. Milk? Cream? What are you waiting for?

For sure, this bread pudding is a heavy hitter. No hungry stomachs will be left behind. You’ll feel full for the rest of the afternoon, which is fine, because it’s the weekend (I’m assuming you’ll be making this on Saturday) and you can take a nap and digest it off.

If you have some leafy greens or some slaw, they’ll make a nice addition to the plate.

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Of course, if you don’t have any garlic bread, kale or chorizo, that’s fine. In the original recipe, which comes from Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson uses mushroom, leeks, radicchio and ham for his savoury bread pudding. The recipe is a basic formula that would work with any sort of cooked vegetables and/or meat.

One other note: make sure the egg custard goes as close to the rim of your baking dish or at least covers the top of your bread. I didn’t do that and the exposed top bits were just a tad difficult to chew. So, do as I say, not as I do.

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Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour maximum
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Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread

You can also assemble the dish a day ahead and store it in the fridge, letting it come to room temperature before baking.

Savoury Bread Pudding
3 slices of leftover garlic bread…or any stale crusty bread, torn into large chunks
Handful of kale, stems removed and leaf roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chorizo, cubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Custard
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup of sharp cheese, grated
Herbs of choice (fresh or dried thyme, sage or oregano should do)

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, pan fry the chorizo until crispy. Add in the kale, season and cook until tender. Set aside and let cool down.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add milk, cream, herbs, half of the cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place the bread, chorizo and kale in a large souffle dish or any suitable oven-proof dish (1-quart pyrex casserole dish). Pour in the custard so that it comes all the way to the rim, stir once or twice to get an even mix of everything. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Let stand for 8 to 10 until the custard saturates the bread.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Bake until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 35 to 50 minutes. Let the pudding rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Candied Orange and Cardamom Bread

A light, airy loaf using spice-infused milk, candied orange peels and ground cardamom. It will make the perfect winter toast to brighten up any cold mornings or afternoons.

This is a multi-step recipe and it’s kind of a long process on account of the candied orange peels–not as long as making croissants–but in the end you’ll have a fluffy, sweet loaf with pockets of zesty orange and the warm and fragrant scent of cardamom wafting across your kitchen. Who doesn’t want that?

Do note that this recipe produces a very sticky dough. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using a standmixer, but if kneading by hand, invest in a dough scraper to make picking up the dough easier. The biggest challenge will be the temptation to add more flour. Just don’t do it! As you knead, the flour will eventually absorb the water and the gluten structure will develop, leading to a more manageable dough. If the stickiness really does get to you, just flour your hands in-between handling the dough.

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Continue reading “Candied Orange and Cardamom Bread”

Buttermilk Rye Scones

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ButtermilK Rye Scones

If you like sourdoughs, you’ll probably like these buttermilk rye scones.  I made them on a whim, wondering what rye flour would taste like in a pastry instead of bread one weekend aaaaaaaaaand I was instantly converted. They taste pretty amazing! The dark rye flour imparts a nutty and rich flavourful note that somehow, despite full knowledge of how much butter and sugar are in scones, made every bite feel wholesome and healthful. It. Is. Incredible. And buttermilk…mmm. You can’t ever go wrong using buttermilk in baked goods.

Serve with jam, butter and/or sharp cheese.

Buttermilk Rye Scones

  • Servings: 12 scones
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Joshna Maharaj’s Buttermilk Scones recipe,  from the Toronto Star Cookbook.

Ingredients & Preperation

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark rye flour
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup cold salted butter, cubed
1 1/3 cup cold buttermilk + 1/4 cup more for brushing tops

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add cubed butter to the flour and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the mixing bowl from the fridge. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut the butter and the flour together until it becomes crumbly. Alternately, you can use a food processor and blitz the butter and flour.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the buttermilk. Using a fork, stir until it just comes together into a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a cutting board and gently fold and press the dough until it comes together completely. (The dough will be stickier than usual, but that is normal when using rye flour.) Pat into a round disk about 1-inch thick and cut as desired.

Transfer the scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with leftover buttermilk. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Lemon Ricotta Yoghurt Tea Cake with Cranberries

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Fall is officially here. The trees have turned, the air is crisp, and all my sweaters have been unearthed from under my bed, all ready for their weekly rotation. It’s perfect.

So now we have cranberries.Tart, rosy, crisp cranberries. They will soon be making their way into stuffings and sauces for holiday dinners or used in delicious crumbles, muffins and cookies. How about pairing fresh cranberries with a buttery and tangy tea cake made for morning, afternoon and evening? With just a hint of lemon throughout, this could be, as my Mom declared to me after her first bite, “Your best cake yet.”

The best part is that this cake can be thrown together at any moment’s notice. No butter and sugar to be creamed or eggs that need to reach room temperature. The dry ingredients and wet ingredients are mixed separately, then folded by hand (if you want) to create a thick, viscous golden batter. The cranberries pop up here and there, like pretty little jewels.

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Lemon Ricotta Yoghurt Tea Cake with Cranberries

  • Servings: Two 9x5-inch pans
  • Difficulty: easy
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RicottaYoghurtCake_4Loosely adapted from Ina Garten and Bon Appetit

You can easily substitute the cranberries for blueberries or any type of berries. The cake is just as delicious with just a hint of lemon and can be made with solely ricotta or yoghurt.

Ingredients Preperation
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon flour, set aside
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar + 1 tablespoon of sugar, set aside
  • 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup ricotta, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon milk*
  • 6 large eggs
  • Zest from one large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, halved

*If you’re using regular yoghurt, you may not need to add milk. The batter should be thick like that of a pound cake.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with butter and flour.
  2. Chop cranberries into halves and toss with one tablespoon of flour and sugar. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, ricotta and yoghurt. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Add lemon juice, then fold in butter, followed by cranberries. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
  5. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Easy Basmati Rice with Raisins and Crispy Onions

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Growing up in a Chinese household, it’s impossible to imagine a day where rice was not part of our regular dinners. Everyday. Without fail. Plain white rice to go with stews, curries, stir frys. Sometimes congee (rice porridge). On very, very special occasions my grandmother would make biryanis, an Indian dish of basmati rice cooked with curry spices and vegetables or meat…usually with a good amount of ghee (Indian clarified butter). She would start in the morning, peeling and cooking the potatoes, searing the meats (usually beef), warming up the spices, etc… By late afternoon the whole kitchen would smell fragrant… I drool each time I think about it.

Grandma’s biryani was definitely one of things I missed the most when I lived abroad. Stuck in student residence, the closest I got to making biryani-like dishes was by making Ottolenghi’s Cardamom Chicken, which used some of the same spices and method. It never reached the same level of depth and warmth that I craved, but it was always just enough to keep me happy. (If you’re on a student budget and looking for a one-pot meal, Cardamom Chicken is a real winner for ease and quantity!) Here, I’ve reduced it as a side by keeping it to just rice, raisins and onions.

Basmati Rice with Raisins and Crispy Onions

  • Servings: 3-4 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup of basmati rice
1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of dried raisins
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 tablespoons of flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sunflower or canola oil
Sliced green onions, optional

Preparation

Peel the onion and cut into thin slices. Toss in a bowl with the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high. Add half of the onions into the pan to fry for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onions take on a nice golden brown color and turn crispy. Adjust the temperature as you go, making sure the onion doesn’t burn. Transfer the onion to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt. Do the same with the other batch of onion.

Clean the saucepan and add some more oil. Stir in the basmati rice and let it toast for about one minute before adding the water and the raisins. Bring the pan to a boil, cover with a lid, and let simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes or more. Usually, you’ll be able to tell it’s cooked through when you see uniforms of pockets throughout the rice.

Remove the pan from the heat, lift off the lid, and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. Once it has rested, add the fried onions and stir gently with a fork. Top with some sliced green onions if desired.

Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette

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If you’re looking to practise your dicing skills, then this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quinoa salad is a winner. Similar to a tabouleh, all the vegetables are diced as small as possible and then mixed with your favourite grain/protein and choice herbs. In this version, I’ve gone with corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes paired with mint, parsley and green onions. For the dressing, a really fresh, but hearty tasting lemon and cumin vinaigrette makes it perfect for easing into the end of summer.

Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4-6 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the salad
2 cups of cooked quinoa*
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 of a cucumber, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
1/4 of green onions, chopped
Handful of mint and parsley, roughly chopped

*One cup of dry quinoa will yield three cups of cooked quinoa. To cook them, rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water and soak it in a bowl of water for 15 minutes before rinsing again. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the quinoa. Cook for about 1 minute until the water evaporates and the quinoa is toasted. Add 2 cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt. After the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook until the water has all been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and it stand for 5 more minutes.

Fluff and dress the quinoa as desired!

Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

In a bowl whisk together the the lemon juice, cumin, cracked pepper, salt and oil until emulsified.

After combining the vinaigrette with the quinoa salad, cover the bowl and let it rest in the fridge for about 10 to 15 minutes so the flavours are all absorbed!