Thursday, November 26, 2009

Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Rosemary and Feta Cheese

Now that the weather is cooler I'm back into making soups! Luckily I've come across some really amazing ones to share with you guys. I love lentils in soup, especially split red split lentils. I love how they fall apart mmm. So creamy and delicious. In addition to lentils, the soup has lots of other yummy things - onion, carrots, rosemary, oregano, lemons, chile flakes, and feta. A simple ingredient list with such a tasty result. The feta is a great addition but the soup is delicious without it (and then it's vegan!)

If you can use fresh herbs, of course that would be better but I used dried. The recipe gives the option of pureeing or not and I almost always prefer pureed soups so that's what I went for. I wasn't sure about adding the lemon juice for two reasons. One is because some recipes call for the addition of vinegar when I don't think it belongs. I've made several things like that and have stopped listening to the recipes and started listening to myself! Not that I don't love vinegar - I really do. But I just don't want all my food to have that sourness. And the other reason I was scared of adding the lemon juice is because of this awful experience I had once with carrot orange soup where I juiced some oranges and failed to measure the amount of juice before adding it to the soup. Disgusting!! Well not disgusting but I defnitely did not enjoy the orange flavoured soup.

This is a delicious, filling and easy soup to add to your repertoire. Do you have any favourite soup recipes? I've tried out so many but so few are keepers.

I was trying to take photos of Abby but every time I bring out the camera she runs towards it so it's really difficult to get anything other than a blur! When I took this photo, I was tapping my nails on the fridge. She loves it when we do that or scratch at things, then she gets ready to attack it. She was hiding behind the wall peaking around to see.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup
Curried Sweet Potato Soup
Beet, Barley & Black Bean Soup
Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Rosemary and Feta Cheese
Adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook

2 cups red split lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tsp salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
8 cups vegetable stock
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp minced rosemary
pepper to taste

1. Rinse lentils thoroughly in a colander under cold running water. Set aside to drain. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat and saute onion with 1/2 tsp salt until translucent. Add garlic, carrot, pepper, chiles, herbs, bay leaves and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well and saute until the carrots are just tender. Add rinsed lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. If you like, the soup can be pureed or left as is. If you choose to puree, remove the bay leaves first.

2. Season the soup with lemon zest, lemon juice and more salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir together the feta cheese, rosemary and pepper. Spirnkle over hot bowls of soup and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Epicure Selections Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the awesome Epicure Selections giveaway is commenter #12, Ricki (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) who I know will make good use of everything. =)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Cheddar Scones

I really adore scones but I don't seem to make them very often (looking back through my blog). I guess because I find them harder to make healthy and I know I'll want to eat them all! Like these apple cheddar scones. I've been really curious about the combination of apples and cheddar in baked goods (like apple and cheddar pie). These scones were super delicious and soft and perfect, though they were neither very apple-y nor very cheesy. The only bad thing was that the dried apples that were sticking out burned. I think that's unavoidable though? And for me the stoneground cornmeal added a bit too much crunch, but my boyfriend liked it.

And I have discovered (maybe you all know this and I'm a little slow) that if you freeze scones right after they cool, then when you thaw them out they maintain their crispy edges!! How insanely awesome is that. The crispy edges are one of my favourite parts. If you wait too long to freeeze them, especially if you wait until the next day (when the crispy edges are just gone period) it won't work.

If you live in Canada, don't forget to enter to win an amazing baking giveaway from Epicure Selections! The contest ends Tuesday at 1159pm PST.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins
Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
Cinnamon Apple Scones
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

Apple Cheddar Scones
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes 12 scones

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup cold apple juice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (Ashley note: I used 242 g.)
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced dried apples

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Stir the egg, buttermilk and apple juice together

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be very wet and sticky, comes together. If there are still some dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, stir them in, but try not to overdo the mixing. Stir in the grated cheese and dried apple.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, pat it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and, using a dough scraper or a chef’s knife, cut it into 12 roughly equal pieces; place on the baking sheet. Alternatively, you can just spoon out 12 equal mounds onto the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking – just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes, or until their tops are golden and somewhat firm. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Epicure Selections Baking Giveaway!

I'm super excited to be hosting a giveaway from Epicure Selections! I'm sure many of you can tell how much I love baking, so it only makes sense that this is a baking giveaway. It's quite the awesome package, including: Cherries & Berries, Crystallized Ginger, Dark Belgian Chocolate, Pure Cocoa, Baking Powder, 4 Piece Measuring Cup Set, Mini Whisk, and Silicone Mini-Loaf Pans (Set of 4). (Seriously, that is a lot of good stuff! The winner can go on a baking frenzy!)

I was lucky and got to try out some of these products for myself too. (Pictured is some of the stuff that's part of the package - one of the loaf pans, cherries & berries, and one of the measuring cups.) I baked up some mini loaves with the yummy Cherries & Berries (dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries). The mini loaf pans are so cute and make for easy sharing! And I love that you don't have to grease them. You can check out a previous post about some of their other products (which I love).

This contest is open only to Canadians, since they only ship within Canada. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post with your email address (or some way to contact you) and tell me what your favourite kind of loaf is or the best loaf you've ever had. The contest will be open until Tuesday November 24th at 1159pm PST. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tomato and Corn Pie

I would have no reservations going as far as to say that this pie is one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. Maybe a tomato and corn pie doesn't sound that good but oh it really really is. My boyfriend and I were fighting over who got to eat the leftovers and who was eating bigger pieces. And instead of the traditional pie crust, it's made with a biscuit style crust. So very delicious.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Squash & Aged White Cheddar Tart with Sage and Roasted Garlic Custard
Chayote and Corn Enchiladas
Feta and Ricotta Cheese Pie

Tomato and Corn Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from Gourmet, August 2009

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (thawed), coarsely chopped by hand or lightly puréed in a food processor, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
1 green onion, finely chopped, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7 ounces (1 3/4 cups) coarsely grated sharp Cheddar, divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Transfer the dough into a 9" pie plate carefully (you can wrap it around a rolling pin or fold it gently into quarters.) Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang. Put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 400F with rack in middle. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 of the green onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, green onions, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Easy Nectarine Cobbler

The colours in this photo are kind of weird because I was playing (unsuccessfully) with settings on our new camera. (Not a fancy new camera, just a point and shoot.)

This cobbler is really yummy and easy to put together. The top is like those perfect crunchy muffin tops, and the bottom is buttery and gooey. When I made this recipe, I halved it and baked it in a 5 inch round pan instead of an 8 inch square pan. I made this a while ago and I remember thinking that I had messed up somehow so I ended up making the recipe again immediately - which means I made the whole recipe, in two halves. And I couldn't fit all the nectarines in there - I only ended up using 1/2 cup for 1/2 the recipe (when I was supposed to use 1 1/2 cups nectarines for 1/2 the recipe). Despite my confusion with what I was doing, both halves ended up turning out the same and a delicious time was had by all.

Note: I think this cobbler is different than what's typically thought of as a cobbler (with fruit on the bottom and pieces of biscuit on top). But whatever you call it, it's good!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cocoa-Nana Bread
Plum Sour Cream Kuchen
Strawberry Cream Cake
Strawberry Lemon Sunflower Seed Muffins

Easy Nectarine Cobbler
Adapted from Joy the Baker who adapted from The Pastry Queen

If you want you can add whipped cream or iced cream but we ate it without and it was delicious.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup milk
3 cups sliced nectarines, skins left on
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan set over medium high heat until it bubbles and turns a nut brown color. Watch the butter closely, as it can go from browned to burnt in just a few seconds. The butter will have all sorts of browned bits in it.

Pour the butter into an 8-inch or 9-inch square or round baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder and spices. Add milk and stir.

Pour the mixture on top of the melted butter. Do not stir. Without mixing, arrange the fruit evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top turns golden brown.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Many Lovely Blogs

I feel so honoured and happy to have received the One Lovely Blog award from both Xiaolu of 6 Bittersweets and Sarah of Taste My Plate! Over the past few years of blogging I've received some other awards, and they always totally make my day but I've never passed any on to other people. I've been a very bad blogger. I would like to pass this award on to some of my favourite bloggers, who can then pass it on to other blogs if they like.

A Fat Cat Who Created A Vegetarian who is inspiring in her healthy living.

Diet, Dessert and Dogs who I wish I could convince to cook all my meals! ;) Ricki is so creative and talented (and makes healthy baking fun!), and has adorable dogs.

Obsessed With Baking who understands all of my crazy baking thoughts and over analysis of things.

La cuisine d'Hélène who takes gorgeous photos and is a fellow BC-er.

Dana Treat who always makes interesting and different vegetarian dishes that I love discovering.

Lisa's Kitchen who inspires me to cook more Indian food.

CookiePie who is always baking yummy things and just released a wonderful baking book.

montcarte who takes enticing photos and makes many awesome things including crepes terrine - who knew such a thing existed??

Spork or Foon? who writes entertaining posts, makes beautiful food & is recreating many of the Top Chef winning recipes.

The Veggie Patch, whose house I would love to eat at!

Elyse's Confectionary Creations who likes to bake up a storm and make super delicious things like samoa mascarpone cheesecake.

Tinned Tomatoes who adopted me for Adopt A Blogger and who makes many yummy vegetarian things.

Green Gourmet Giraffe who always makes interesting delicious vegetarian things like tofu and pesto crackers, and is still cooking and baking a ton with a baby! I hope I'll be like her.

Bittersweet who has an insane talent for everything including photography, creating awesome vegan recipes, and crocheting cute little things.

everybody likes sandwiches who inspired me to start my own blog and is a fellow Vancouverite!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Savoury Green Onion Ricotta Muffins

I've made tons of sweet muffins, and I'm starting to get sick of them. So now I'm on to savoury muffins! For me they're a lot more versatile because I can eat them as snacks or as part of a meal. I love that these muffins use ricotta, though I was disappointed to not taste it at all. I guess that makes sense since ricotta doesn't have a strong flavour - though my boyfriend thought they tasted cheesy. You can easily modify this recipe to use your favourite herbs or add in different things like olives or sauteed onions.

It's been too long since I posted an Abby photo! I need to take more.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins
Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls
Basic Focaccia
Oatmeal Knots

Savoury Green Onion Ricotta Muffins
Adapted from Lisa's Kitchen who got it from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe

Makes 12

2 cups of whole wheat flour (280 g)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup of buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons of melted butter

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and green onions.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

In another medium bowl, beat together the ricotta and milk using a wire whisk. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour the ricotta milk mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir until just combined.

Spoon the batter evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins sit in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"The" Peanut Sauce

This is basically the best peanut sauce ever and I'm so incredibly happy that I came across it. I'm done trying out other recipes - this is the one! It's full of flavour, perfectly peanut-y, and it has a nice consistency that's not too thick so it evenly distributes over everything. And you make it in a blender or magic bullet. So easy, so good. You must make it. That's pretty much it! Check out Julie's original recipe to see the different options you can choose for each ingredient. She makes peanut sauce so simple and approachable! Oh by the way, of course you can do whatever you want with the sauce but I just stir fried up a ton of vegetables and tofu and ate it with noodles or rice with the sauce on top. Healthy and so tasty.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons
Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu
Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta

Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Dinner With Julie

1/4 cup coconut milk (or I've used water if I didn't have it)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or jar and whiz or shake until smooth. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. Makes about a cup.