Chilled Cucumber Soup with Fresh Herbs

When I was younger, my family enjoyed cucumber soup in the summers so I was excited to come across this recipe on the blog Dishing Up the Dirt. It looked so much quicker than the family recipe that I just had to give it a try on a lovely warm sunny day.

The result is a light tasty cucumber gazpacho, but I have to admit, I prefer the family recipe so I will make it and post it soon.

Chilled Cucumber Soup - A Pat & A Pinch

2 large slicing cucumbers, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt

3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup dill, stems removed and diced

1/4 cup parsley, thick stems removed and diced

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

a small handful of ice cubes

In a blender combine cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, dill, parsley, ice cubes and olive oil. Blend until smooth.

Keep soup chilled until ready to serve. If you use ice cubes it should be ready to eat right away.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

 

Black Pepper and Cheese Biscotti

It’s exam time which means it is snack time and I desperately needed a break from studying and a snack. Making these delicious biscotti was the perfect solution – not healthy, but very satisfying. A warning, you have to love pepper or you will find the pepper too dominant in these delights.

Black Pepper & Cheese Biscotti - A Pat & A Pinch

This recipe is adapted from the Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti recipe found on the blog Smitten Kitchen which in turn was adapted from Gourmet, December 2006. Being somewhat lactose intolerant, I prefer to make it with a Pecorino Romano which I find easier to tolerate. This time I made it with a lactose free Bella Lodi that I found at the Chop Shop at the Root Cellar here in Victoria. The recipe yields 5 to 6 dozen biscotti but I often cut the recipe in half.

Black Pepper and Cheese Biscotti

1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 oz hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 large eggs

1 cup milk

Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse peppercorns in grinder or grind in a mortar until coarsely ground.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). I find that this is most easily accomplished by forming the dough into a 12-inch sausage with my hands and then flattening the sausage to a rectangle on the floured counter or board. Transfer the logs to 2 parchment-lined or ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart. Being a fan of easy cleanup I prefer to use parchment.

Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange the slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool the biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

Black Pepper & Cheese Biscotti - A Pat & A Pinch

These would be perfect with a glass (or two) of red wine and are a simple solution to those events where you are asked to bring an appetizer. As my son moves into grade school, I anticipate that this will be a go-to recipe for bake-sales aimed at adults. For now, they are the perfect escape from studying.

Beetroot Tarte Tatin with a Hazelnut Crust

This recipe is one I’ve been dying to try from Cannelle et Vanille.  I adapted it a bit: doubled the recipe to make a larger tart and used purple sweet potatoes as opposed to potatoes.  The result was a healthy, savoury tart with the perfect amount of caramelization to appeal to my sweet tooth. The process was a little time consuming but it made for a fun and tasty side to our dinner steaks.

Roasted Beet and Purple Potato Tarte Tatin with Caramelized Fennel and Gruyere Cheese

(makes a 9-inch tart)

Buckwheat and Hazelnut Tart Crust

1 c. brown rice flour
2/3 c. buckwheat flour
2/3 c. tapioca starch (the same as tapioca flour)
2/3 c. hazelnut flour (ground hazelnut)
4 tsp. ground chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, diced
12 to 16 tbsp. ice water

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until dough comes together. It will not form a ball. Simply press it between your fingers to see if it holds.

Transfer dough to flat surface and knead a couple of times. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, flatten it with your hands, and refrigerate for one hour.

Meanwhile…prepare the filling

8 assorted colors baby beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium purple sweet-potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 springs thyme
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 oz. grated caprano cheese (the original recipe suggests gruyere) 

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the slices beets and purple potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pinch salt and black pepper. Bake the vegetables for 30 minutes until potatoes are done (they take less time than beets) and remove them. Continue to bake the beets for a few more minutes until tender, about 10 more minutes. Set aside and cool while making filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 375F.

Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Lightly dock it with a fork. Dust your cold surface with a bit of superfine brown rice flour. Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut a circle that is slightly bigger than your mold. The scraps can be saved for another time.

Transfer the tart base to a sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate the tart base for 30 minutes.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the rest of the olive oil and cook the onions, fennel, garlic, and a pinch of salt until tender and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and remove from heat. Set aside and let cool slightly.

Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Lightly dock it with a fork.

Place the roasted vegetables inside the tart mold tightly packed. Spread the caramelized onion and fennel mixture on top and sprinkle the Gruyere on top of that. Place the tart dough on top and tuck it into the edges.

Bake the tart for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Joanne’s Simple Artichoke Dip

This dip is simple and divine…but (warning) not particularly healthy.  It got passed onto me by my mum who got it from one of her best friends, Joanne.  Of course it pairs perfectly with crackers or tortilla chips and is always a party hit!

Many thanks to the brilliant Peter of Joshua Lawrence Photography for the camera tutorial.  Hopefully my pictures will now better reflect the appetizing recipes I post.

12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts

1 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. grated parmesan

3 cloves garlic

Pepper to taste

Chop the artichoke hearts and finely chop the garlic.  Mix all ingredients together and bake in a shallow pan at 350F for 20 minutes.  Broil for another 2 minutes to get a nice brown colour on top.

Thai Beef Salad

This is a recipe that my talented mother came up with. It’s tasty, fresh, fun, and I love it.  She came over to help (read: make it for me) tonight to share with you all.

Thai Beef Salad

1 pound beef tenderloin tail, sliced in half lengthwise (tonight we used NY strip)

1/2 c. soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

4 tsp. sugar

3 tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce

1/4 c. lime juice

2 tbsp. fish sauce

3/4 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. sliced green onions

1/4 c. chopped cilantro

2 tbsp. chopped peanuts

fresh baby greens, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or orange), shaved carrot, and sliced cucumber (really you can make the salad how ever you so choose but this is what mama suggests)

Place tenderloin in a shallow dish. Combine 1/4 c. soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 tbsp of the hot sauce.  Pour over steak and marinate for at least 1 hour turning several times.

In blender, combine remaining soy sauce, sugar, hot sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, green onion and cilantro and blend until cilantro is finely chopped.

Grill steak over hot coals, turning once until done as desired.  Let stand 5 minutes (hint: always do this to help the steak retain its juices). Slice steak thinly on diagonal and place on salad.  Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Serves 4

Makhouda D’Aubergine from The Traveler’s Lunchbox

This dish is one I came across on one of my favourite blogs, The Traveler’s Lunchbox, in which this is described as a Tunisian Eggplant Frittata.  The recipe is originally from Kitty Morse’s North Africa: The Vegetarian Table.

Now I do not love eggs, I think they’re great for baking with, but when it comes to breakfast, no matter how they are served, I simply cannot have them so I also don’t eat quiches or frittatas…ever.  But I love eggplant (ever since I was old enough to contemplate that eggplant was entirely unrelated to egg – as a child my parents could only convince me to eat it if it was called Aubergine), so here we are with this Makhouda D’Aubergine in my terrible little electric oven and I am excited! I’ve made a couple changes due to lack/want of ingredients.  This dish is suggested as a side to tagines, but I intend to call it a meal given the effort that went into making it. Verdict is it’s delicious, eggs and all.

1 large eggplant
salt for sprinkling
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and diced
8 large eggs
a handful (about 1/2 cup packed) chopped fresh parsley or coriander/cilantro leaves, or a mixture
(I used parsley)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz (225g) gruy
ère cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup (50g) dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon bharat (Tunisian spice blend; you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon rosewater)
(I used the pepper and the cinnamon alone)
about 3/4 teaspoon fine salt

harissa (North African hot pepper paste) or cayenne pepper, to taste (optional) (I added a seeded and minced serrano pepper)
lemon wedges 

Peel and cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch dice. Sprinkle generously with salt and place the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the eggplant, onion, and pepper, stirring occasionally until golden and soft, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a colander to drain off as much of the oil as possible.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and add the herbs, garlic, cheese and bread crumbs. Add the eggplant mixture. Season with the bharat, salt, and a small spoonful of the optional harissa or cayenne pepper, (and the serrano if you want the extra heat).

Grease a 2-quart soufflé dish (I don’t own one and used glass cookware instead). Pour the egg mixture into the dish and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and puffed in the center, 40-45 minutes (a knife inserted into the center should come out clean). Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a serving platter (you can also just leave it in the dish). Cut into wedges or squares to serve. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges on the side.