Friday, January 27, 2012

S'mores Squares


I've never bought marshmallow fluff before, however, I bought two jars of it the week before Christmas.

One jar was for a dessert Meredith was making for a get-together. When I found out that she was buying fluff I immediately wanted to make a fluffernutter sandwich, but I was told that the entire jar was already called for. So I bought myself a second jar as well and made myself the famed peanut butter and marshmallow-fluff sandwich. It was yummy.

According to The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, the fluffernutter was originally developed by one of the owners of a marshmallow factory nearly 100 years ago. However, the fluffernutter name itself is owned by the company that now owns the marshmallow flush brand.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be writing about the dessert that Meredith made. She pretty much went along with a recipe she saw in the newspaper and it turned out excellent. We bought a couple slabs of Lindt milk chocolate and they fit nicely in the pan, side-by-side. What a great idea.

S'mores Squares

1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 100g flat slab bars of milk chocolate (do not break)
1 jar (213g) marshmallow fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream butter sugar and brown sugar using an electric mixer on medium-high.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, and continue to mix for five minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.
  4. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt, and mix on low until fully combined (2-3 minutes).
  5. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and press half of the dough evenly into the bottom (about 1/2-inch thick).
  6. On top of the cookie mix, place the two chocolate slabs side-by-side, and top the pan with the marshmallow fluff, spreading evenly across.
  7. Flatten the remaining dough into small/flat circles, one tablespoon at a time. Place the dough on top of the marshmallow layer.
  8. Bake on the centre rack 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned and let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Mostly from the Christine Loueiro, the Toronto Star.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Moroccan Dijon Chicken


I only read a couple of Moroccan cooking blogs since there aren't that many, however, I enjoy reading both immensely. Recently, one of the bloggers, Nisrine from Dinner and Dreams, announced that she was being published in the Boston Globe, so, of course, I had to read the story.

Her recipe was a spicy Moroccan chicken recipe, and it used Dijon mustard. Dijon? That's clearly French, however, the French occupied part of Morocco at one point, so it made perfect sense. Just like butter chicken (Indian/English), and chicken vindaloo (Indian/Portuguese). I'd love to read more about the history of the dish, but it wasn't available. Maybe one day I'll get around to reading more about the French in Morocco, or consult another authoritative source.

The dish itself tasted great. I made some substitutes as I didn't have any harissa on hand, or ground cloves, and I wanted things extra saucy, and it still worked.

Moroccan Dijon Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or chunks.
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 whole cloves
1 tsp dried mint
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup light cream
  1. Combine chicken and mustard in a large zipper bag and let marinate in the fridge for one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in bowl, combine tomato paste, water, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, and mint, stir and set aside.
  3. When chicken is ready to cook, heat oil on medium in a deep pan and fry onions for 8-10 minutes, stirring often. 
  4. Add chicken and tomato-spice mixture, stir, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
  6. Add cream and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Serve with cous cous.
Based on Spicy Moroccan Chicken by Nisrine Merzouki.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Vietnamese Delight

The soup pictured is one of two bowls made from the
large order of take-out soup.
Thank goodness for smartphones. Snap a picture, dictate a note, and actually write about it weeks later :-)

That's what happened during the one-week-plus while I was fighting a cold. There wasn't much happening with food. Most of it was canned, or leftovers from the rare time we didn't eat something prepared, or out of a paper box. Even when we did cook something, I wasn't exactly "with it" enough to blog about it. Meredith made some muffins and emailed me her recipe for later; I took a picture with my phone before I ate it. We worked together to make the burgers with potatoes (we still have to eat!), and I took a couple pictures along the way (that recipe is burned into my brain, anyway).

So when Meredith drove me home from a doctor's appointment, she insisted that we get some take-out Pho for lunch because she wasn't going to crack open another can of soup. Who was I to argue. I couldn't stand the prepared stuff (or even worse, packaged, powdered stuff) either. I just wanted to make sure that it was eventually reported.

When we're in downtown Toronto, we get our Pho fix from Pho Hung, on Spadina - that's my benchmark. Now that neither of us work anywhere near there, however, we don't exactly visit often. That's where Vietnamese Delight comes in. It's close to home, very reasonably priced, and their spring rolls are excellent.

Vietnamese Delight is in the Skymark plaza at Finch and Don Mills, so it gets good traffic all day from local businesses, Seneca College and the local residents. The interior was recently renovated, so it's actually a nice date spot as well. Their menu isn't huge by Pho Hung standards, however, it has a good selection of spring rolls, Pho, skewered meat, and other Vietnamese dishes.

Our take-out order that day was the shredded chicken and Vietnamese sausage noodle soup (we split a large), and some deep-fried spring rolls. I keep forgetting that the Vietnamese sausage served there is more of a sliced deli meat, and not like a European sausage, but that didn't disappoint me.

The spring rolls were wonderfully crispy - not oily at all, and are served on a bed of lettuce leaves with some noodles and sprouts. The soup was nice as well. Since it was take-out, the meats and broth were packed separately from the noodles and onions, which were also packed separately from the garnish (sprouts, lime, and basil leaves). The soup wasn't too salty and there was just enough sauce (combination chili/hoisin) to add to the flavour.

It was quite comforting to eat a well-made soup when I was feeling so lousy. I like to think that it contributed toward my recovery.

Bootnote for a laugh: on a subsequent visit with the kids, our eldest suggested that he share the lemon-grass chicken and pork with rice with his toddler brother, saving the cost of buying him a separate entrĂ©e. The toddler ate the chicken and pork while the eight-year-old ate the plain rice.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins


The cold I had in November was pretty major - I was at home sick for an entire week. Coughing so frequently didn't make my stomach feel great either, so my breakfast/lunch usually consisted of a soft-boiled egg and toast and maybe some canned soup (yuck!). by day seven, I wasn't exactly hungry, but I wanted to eat something relatively healthy and filling.

I was suddenly craving bran muffins, and Meredith fed that craving. She even threw in some chocolate chips for good measure.



print recipe

Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins
These muffins are a family favourite and pack a lot of fibre. You can cut the amount of chocolate chips in half or substitute raisins if you prefer.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
1. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners and preheat oven to 375-degrees2. Combine milk and wheat bran in a bowl and let stand for ten minutes.3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla, and add to wheat bran mixture.4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.5. Stir flour mixture into batter, until blended and fold in chocolate chips.Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 muffins


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