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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Back in September, Mario and I decided to start a new tradition. We established a regular Friday restaurant night for our family. We didn't want this to be a fast food night, we believe the kids are getting old enough, and can be well behaved enough to eat in some nicer places. We also think that it's a good idea to expose them to some different cuisines.

So far we've taken them out for Indian, Lebanese, Cantonese and most recently we took them out to a Cajun restaurant. They loved all of it. Interestingly, they seem much more willing to sample new things when they are in a restaurant, than when they are at home. They loved the Indian food the most. Imagine that! I don't think I even tried Indian food until I was in my 30's.

As usual, I am making a really short story very long. What I am leading up to is the fact that I often get inspired by these dinners out, and when I saw my kids devour the healthy looking Jambalaya at the Cajun restaurant, I decided this dish would make a great addition to my at home repetoire.

So I set about finding a good recipe. I ended up using bits and pieces of several recipes that I found on-line. This recipe had quite a bit of kick, so if you don't like the heat (or if your kids won't eat spicy food) then ease back on the cayenne and paprika.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya
(makes about 6 cups of Jambalaya)

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 cup diced Andouille sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced tomato
3/4 cup long grain white rice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3-4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups shrimp (about 1/2 pound)
3 tbsp green onion

1. Mix the spices and seasonings together (first 7 ingredients).

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3. In a large oven proof dutch oven or skillet, saute onion, celery, green pepper and garlic in butter for a few minutes until softened.

4. Add sausage and cook another minute or so. (Note: I wasn't able to find Andouille in my local grocery store, so I used a lean Kolbassa instead, it worked fine, but Andouille would be the more "cajun" choice... or at least less "polish").

5. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, rice, stock, spices, and worcestershire. Bring to a boil and then set the pot in the oven uncovered for 25 minutes (most of the liquid will be absorbed).

6. Add the shrimp and the green onion and return to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked through.

(Note: I weighed everthing with my digital food scale as I added it and calculated the nutrional information to be roughly 215 calories per 1/6th of the recipe. The recipe makes about 6 cups.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

Nothing beats homemade doughnuts. Well, that is nothing except for Muskoka Cookies, Peach Squares, Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, Butter Tart Squares, Fresno Pudding, and Chocolate Banana Cake. Not my Haupia though, joking aside, please don't ever make my Haupia, make somebody else's Haupia.

(Note: I hope everyone CLICKED on all those links! That's why I put them there people! And I can check, you know - well I think I can, anyway, well maybe not... I mean I'm sure I could if I was at all technology savvy, but I should probably just stick to cooking.... and rambling, I'm good at that - the rambling that is.)

OK, so where was I? Doughnuts. Right.

So the doughnuts are yummy.

You can either douse them in cinnamon sugar or icing sugar. I always keep a spice bottle in my cupboard filled with cinnamon sugar that I make with 3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon (for anybody who might be fractionally challenged that means I would add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to 3 tablespoons of sugar). This is great to have on hand to sprinkle on toast. I used the whole bottle on these doughnuts.

These are best served still warm.

Old-Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
4 cups flour (plus a little more if dough is sticky)
oil for frying (lots)
Cinnamon Sugar (tons)

1. In a large bowl mix the sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

2. Add eggs, milk and melted butter. Beat well.

3. Add 3 cups of the flour, beating until blended. Add one more cup of flour and beat well. The dough should be soft and sticky but firm enough to handle. If you feel its necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour (I once got a question from a reader as to whether when I said "chill" I meant in the refrigerator... um yes that's what I meant, but I can see how this could be confusing, I could have meant "Like OK, cover with plastic wrap, and then um like chill, ya know on the couch, for like an hour... like OK?")

5. After you're done chilling on the couch, remove your dough from the fridge and begin heating about 1" of oil to 360F in a large metal skillet. I actually don't have one of those fancy schmancy candy thermometres (hello Santa are you reading?)... somebody remember to ask me after Christmas how many candy thermometres I get...

6. Working half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2" thickness. Cut out circles using a doughnut cutter. If you don't have a doughnut cutter (Santa?) then use a regular cookie cutter and cut out the hole with the screw cap off a 40oz bottle of Newfoundland Screech.

7. Decide that you are too cool for school and take a big swig of the Screech for no good reason. Once the burning subsides and you stop crying and sputtering, push the scraps of dough back together, re-roll and repeat steps 6 through 7 over and over until (a) all the dough is used up or (b) you pass out.*

8. Gently drop the doughnuts in batches into the hot oil. Flip them over as they puff and turn them a couple more times as they cook. They will take 3-4 minutes in total and they will be lovely and golden brown all over.

9. Remove from the oil and set them on paper towels (that removes all the fat, you know). Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Enjoy them hot, and eat at least four, you need some carbs in your belly to soak up all that Screech.

*Janet is Hungry will not be responsible for any mishap (foreseeable or unforeseeable) that may arise as a result of drinking alcohol in close proximity to a pan of hot oil.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bacon and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

This recipe is a long time favorite of ours (and our friends). I made these most recently for a party that we hosted on Halloween. One of my friends specifically requested that I make "the bacon things" for the party... and they go pretty fast!

We actually had a little discussion about how you could pretty much wrap ANYTHING in bacon and improve on it! Then, much to the dismay of my guests, I happened to mention that, as many times as I have made these appetizers, I have never actually sampled one. They just seem a little "dangerous" to me.... I think they would be "more-ish".

People who know me well, know that I don't do things well in moderation, I have an ALL or NOTHING kind of mentality. I compare this to the day that I first tasted Poutine... I probably should have never had that first bite, because then I wouldn't know what I was missing everytime I walk past the chip wagon that parks itself right outside my office building (solely to taunt me, I know). Ask me if I have EVER ordered a "small" poutine.... yeah, I rest my case.

Bacon and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

1/2 loaf white sandwich bread (square slices are best)
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp italian seasoning blend
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb bacon

1. Mix together the cream cheese, garlic, seasoning, parsley and pepper until well blended.

2. Cut the bacon slices in half.

3. Cut the crusts off the bread, and spread each slice evenly with cream cheese (I use about a heaping tablespoon per slice, then cut each slice of bread into 3 strips.

4. Roll up each strip of bread and wrap with 1/2 slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. I usually just keep going until I run out of bacon. This usually takes about 1/2 a loaf the bread and most of the cream cheese mixture. If you have leftover cream cheese, it is great spread on crackers or toasted bagels.

5. At this point, you can go ahead and bake them, or you can stash them in the fridge or the freezer to bake later (if baking from frozen, add about 5-10 minutes to your cooking time).

6. Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels for about 5 minutes to cool a bit, and serve.

7. Get out of the way quickly, so you don't get trampled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin and Raisin Spice Muffins

If you are anything at all like me, at some point in mid to late September when you walk into the grocery store and notice the huge display of halloween pumpkins, your heart skips a beat. Starting then, and for the next six weeks or so, you start buying pumpkins like they are going out of style (and frankly they ARE going out of style - on November 1, to be precise).

Then, sometime around now in mid November, you open the freezer to find room for some of your early Christmas baking, and you realize that you have a "type-M" personality. That is "M" for "Messed Up". You really aren't capable of doing ANYTHING in moderation. There is enough frozen pumpkin puree in your freezer to last a lifetime.

If I just described you (yes, I know that is highly unlikely but just humour me, OK?)... it's alright! I'm here to help! Because there are TONS of things you can do with frozen pumpkin puree. Just the other night, I made Pumpkin Risotto for dinner (it was too dark to get good pictures). And I always make at least one batch of my Pumpkin Soup. Of course you can never get enough Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Another thing I love to do, is stir about a half cup of pumpkin puree into my morning oatmeal with a little bit of pumpkin pie spice and molasses.

These muffins are another favorite way to use up the puree. I got the original recipe from Farmgirl Fare's Blog. They are fabulous with Pecans or Walnuts instead of the dates, but I have stopped putting nuts in any of my muffin recipes, because the school Claire and Marco go to has a "no nut" policy (there is a good joke there, but I try not to make fun of my kids on the blog!)

OK, I have to run... I need to go find room in the freezer for these muffins....YIKES!

Pumpkin and Raisin Spice Muffins

1 cup raisins
3/4 cup orange juice
3 cups white flour
1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs
450g pumpkin puree (or one 15oz can)
1 cup chopped dates (or more raisins, dried cranberries, or nuts)

1. Microwave raisins with orange juice for 2 minutes on high, and set aside.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

3. In another bowl mix butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs and pumpkin puree.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry along with the raisins and orange juice. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in dates.

5. Fill muffin tins almost to the top (makes about 18 large muffins) and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

This year for Claire's 9th birthday, I told her that I would bake her ANY kind of cake she could dream up... Claire is lucky she didn't ask for anything too complicated, it could have been a major flop.... but baking an "invented cake" was fun.

Claire was quite precise, she wanted a chocolate cake with peanut butter in the middle and chocolate on top and then crushed Oreo cookies on top of that.

I thought I could improve slightly on Claire's inspiration. I made a four layer cake with peanut butter cream cheese icing with a chocolate-peanut butter ganache and crushed Pirate cookies on top. (Note: Pirate cookies are a peanut butter cream filled cookie made by Christie... you can probably find an equivalent, if you can't find Pirate's).

This cake was "oh-my-god-good".

This post is really more about the filling and icings, than the cake itself... because I cheated and used a Duncan Hines Devil's Food chocolate cake mix as the base and concentrated on making the icing really good. You know icing is good when you purposefully decide the cake has enough when there's still a half cup in the bowl (which you cannot let go to waste). So you sneak out of the kitchen with the bowl and a rubber scraper and come back three minutes later and yell to the kids, "who wants to lick the bowl?". They come running over, and peer hopefully into the bowl in which you've managed to leave one or two small streaks of icing!!

I knew that for a family of four, we'd be eating this cake for a week if I made a whole one, so I cooked the cake mix in two 9x9 inch square pans. I froze one for later. That way I was able to make a four layer rectangular shaped cake that I could slice like a loaf of bread. The cake made 8 slices (4 each for two nights) and the pieces were frankly WAY too big (although strangely that didn't stop me from cutting the exact same size pieces the second night). The cake was so rich, I probably should have sliced it into 10 or even 12 pieces.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix (prepared according to package directions)
8 pirate cookies, (6 to crush in food processor for decorating, and 2 to eat)

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
10oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups icing sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
4oz semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Make cake according to package directions in two 9x9 inch loaf pans. Let cool completely. Wrap and freeze one cake (otherwise, double the icing and ganache and make a whole cake - square or round).

2. Slice the remaining cake in half. And then slice each of the two rectangles into two layers, so that you have four rectangular shaped layers.

3. To make the icing, in a mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and the butter until creamy. Add the icing sugar about 1 cup at a time, beating between each addition. Stir in the peanut butter. Taste. Sigh.

4. Place the first cake layer down on your chosen cake plate. Spread a layer of icing (Sorry, didn't measure how much I put between each layer), but make it about 1/4 inch thick, there's lots of icing, so you don't need to worry about running out. Repeat with the next layer, and then again with the third layer. Place the last layer on top and then frost the entire cake with the remaining icing. (Note: if you are lucky, you will have about 1/2 cup of icing left over - tee hee)

5. Chill the cake while you are making the ganache. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler and stir in the cream, peanut butter and corn syrup. Let cool a few minutes, but not too much, it should still be pourable.

6. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread slightly with an icing knife to encourage it to drip down over the sides a bit.

7. While the ganache is still wet, sprinkle the cake with crushed Pirate Cookies.

8. Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rice Fritters

Have some leftover rice? That's never a problem in my house. Leftover rice always gets used. There are so many things you can use it for. I love taking cold rice salads for lunch (leftover white rice, tomato, cucumber, green onion, garlic and a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil - yum). My kids simply adore fried rice, which I often make for them with leftovers. You can also throw leftover rice into soup or stew or a sandwich (OK. OK. You got me. I've never put in a sandwich, but I bet you could!!)

Anyway, here's my favorite way to deal with leftover rice. Usually I would make this with leftover risotto, but any leftover rice that is a little on the sticky side will do (you just need to be able to shape it into a ball that will stay formed). This time, I had some leftover Persian Rice. Sadly, I had my Mom and Dad for dinner the night I made it, and in all the excitement I forgot to take pictures of the original rice recipe.

The next day, I made these Rice Fritters.

These are really tremendous! I am surprised that you don't see this on appetizer menu's in restaurants more often, alongside the fried zucchini, potato skins and the nachos... (and they are WAY better than your run of the mill deep fried mozzarella sticks).

I am going to leave the amounts out of the recipe, because it really all depends on how much leftover rice you have. Just start with one egg and about 1/2 cup of crumbs, because you can always add more if you run out, but if you crack 8 eggs and dump out your whole box of panko... well... that wasn't very smart. Why'd you do that?

Rice Fritters

Leftover rice
Panko crumbs
Mozzarella Cheese
Dipping Sauce (Marinara Style)

1. Shape the rice into balls that are, in diameter, precisely halfway in between a walnut and a golf ball... just kidding! Just make your balls "yay big".

2. Cut some mozzarella into little cubes (about 1 cm square).

3. Make a depression with your finger in each rice ball and press in a mozzarella cube. Close the rice back up to completely enclose the ooey-gooey mozzarella goodness.

4. Roll the rice balls around in beaten egg, and then in panko crumbs until well coated.

5. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so, to set coating.

6. Preheat oven to 400F (use convection if you have it). Place the rice balls on a baking sheet that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Spray more cooking spray on top of the rice balls. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Turn them around and give them another squirt of cooking spray halfway through. (FYI - the original recipe called for these to be deep fried, but I don't like to deep fry at home).

7. Serve with your favorite marinara-type dipping sauce (I used canned pizza sauce).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crab and Avocado Mini Quesadillas

Every once in a while, I absolutely love to just cook appetizers for dinner. I will make 4 or 5 different hot appetizers and put them all in the middle of the table along side some veggie sticks, dip, bread and assorted cheeses. It's a great dinner that everyone loves (especially the kids, since they can pick and choose what they want - which is usually just a lot of bread and cheese). It is also a great way to experiment and test out some new recipes before springing them on unsuspecting friends at a potluck!

This recipe has become a real favorite of ours. If you think it seems fussy, you can always make the quesadillas full-size and cut them into wedges for serving. The original inspiration for this recipe came from a 2007 Holiday Appetizer edition of Fine Cooking Magazine.

Crab and Avocado Mini Quesadillas
makes about 60 appetizers

Mango Salsa
1 ripe mango (peeled, pitted and diced)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
salt and pepper

Crab and Avocado Quesadillas
12 8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups cooked crabmeat
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 ripe avocados, diced
1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying

1. To make the salsa, combine all of the salsa ingredients and let stand for at least one hour before serving.

2. Cut 120 circles out of the tortillas using a 2 inch cookie cutter.

3. Mix together the crab meat, cheese, avocado, green onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Spread about 1 tablespoon of crab mixture on each of 60 tortilla circles and top with the remaining circles (you can get this far and the chill the circles until it is time to cook them).

5. Heat a small amount of oil in a non stick pan over medium heat and fry in batches until golden brown. An alternative I have used a couple of times is to spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, load it up with quesadillas, spray the top of the quesadillas lightly with cooking spray, and bake in the oven at 400F until golden. About 10-15 minutes or so.

6. Serve warm with a small spoonful of salsa on top.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stuffed Calamari with Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

I've never bought whole squid before. I've bought the little frozen rings and made breaded calamari or pasta with them, but this was my first experiment with whole squid. It was a great success!

We loved this recipe, which I got from Emeril Lagasse. As usual, I made a few small changes (e.g., he used poblano peppers, real mayo and shallots... I couldn't find poblanos, wanted something lower fat than mayo, and was too lazy to go buy shallots).

The only issue we had was that the squid cooks so fast that the stuffing inside really only got warm and not hot. I'd be afraid to cook them any longer for fear of making the squid tough. For me this didn't take away from the taste at all, I still loved it, and will make it again. Next time, I might not let the filling cool down as much before I stuff the squid. Also, I might warm the sauce a bit (or at least make sure it is room temperature, and not chilled). The sauce was great, we loved it! There was enough leftover that we had it the next night on fish tacos, and we used some as a spicy sandwich spread.

Needless to say, Mario and I had this meal on an evening when we weren't eating with the kids. About once a week, we try to feed the kids and put them to bed early and then have a nice late dinner on our own. It's usually a nice quiet, CALM meal. Marco, my 5 year old always says, "Mommy and Daddy are having an o-mantic dinner tonight". He keeps asking when he can have an "o-mantic dinner" with me. I wonder if that means I have to put Mario to bed early? He might be OK with that.

Stuffed Calamari

4 large whole calamari
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 roasted red pepper, diced small
1/2 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil

Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

2 jalapeno peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light miracle whip)
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the grill.

2. For the sauce, combine the roasted jalapenos and
garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the mayonnaise,
lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. In a saute pan cook the onions and garlic until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. In a medium bowl, combine goats cheese, roasted red pepper, and bread
crumbs. Mix in the onion and garlic.

5. Stuff each calamari tube with the filling until nice and plump (secure the larger end with a metal skewer or toothpick). Brush each stuffed tube with a little oil to prevent from sticking on the grill.

6. Grill each tube for 1-2 minutes on each side, leaving pretty grill marks on
each side.

7. Cut each tube into five nice pieces on the bias. Spoon a nice amount of the sauce over the top.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chanterelle and Zucchini Frittata

I have started making lots of frittata's for dinner. This summer I signed up for a local organic farm weekly CSA delivery, and frittata's are a great way to use up vegetables that I otherwise would have no idea what to do with. In fact, there have been times that I didn't even know what the vegetables were. Those nights we have "mystery frittata". Also, the kids will eat just about ANY frittata. So I can hide all sorts of obscenely healthy stuff in there!

I generally follow the same basic frittata recipe and add in my chosen veggies/cheese/meat for the night.

Chanterelle and Zucchini Frittata

1 cup fresh golden chanterelles, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
dash hot sauce
1oz finely grated grano padano cheese

1. Saute onion, garlic, zucchini and chanterelles in butter until soft in a 8" non-stick skillet (make sure the handle of your skillet is oven proof).

2. Beat eggs with milk, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Pour over veggies in skillet.

3. Cook over med-low heat until bottom and edges of frittata are set (about 7 minutes). Sprinkle with cheese and place skillet until broiler until eggs are set in the middle and the cheese is golden brown.

4. Slice into 4 slices (a lot of frittata recipes say that they serve 6, but if you're eating this as a main dish, I'd say 4 is a more realistic serving size).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Turkish Chicken Thighs

This recipe was fabulous! I made this for the first time the other night, and it was a huge hit. I have been experimenting quite a bit lately with yoghurt based marinades for meat, because they really tenderize without adding much additional fat to your meal... and well, because they taste really good!

I found this recipe for Turkish Chicken Thighs on the website Eating Well which has tons of great healthy recipes. I had to go out and buy some hot paprika (I found "Hot Hungarian Paprika") and WOW, was it good. It was so much more flavourful than regular paprika. I threw all the rest of my regular paprika out, and I will only be using "Hot Hungarian Paprika" from now on.

Right after I mixed the marinade and tasted it, it had quite a kick to it, and I thought, "uh oh, the kids will never eat this", but after 24 hours in the fridge marinating, it mellowed and the kids never complained about the heat.

The chicken was tender and juicy and the flavour was really great.

The kids were really confused by the name of the recipe, "Turkish Chicken Thighs". Claire said, "well Mom what is it? Like, make up your mind, TURKEY or CHICKEN...." (yes she really did say "like" and she rolled her eyes too). So I explained that Turkey is a country and this recipe combines flavours and spices that are sometimes used in Turkish cuisine. Marco pipes up, "So turkey's eat chicken?" Sigh. This made me think I should try making a Turducken sometime.... THAT would be a fun one to explain.

Turkish Chicken Thighs

8 skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp hot paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix together lemon juice, yogurt, garlic, ginger, paprika, mint and salt.

2. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken. Close the bag and mush it around.

3. Refrigerate overnight.

4. Preheat barbeque grill to med-high. Remove chicken from ziploc bag and discard marinade. Grill until chicken is juicy but cooked through (about 15 minutes).

5. Alternately, you could place the chicken on a broiler rack in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes until cooked. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicken Shawarma

Mario and I have always been big fans of Lebanese food. In particular, we love shawarmas. There is no shortage of Lebanese take out places here in Ottawa where we live and when we were in University, we frequented many of them (usually in the early hours of the morning).

I have experimented several times with making shawarmas at home, but I think it's just one of those things that you will never quite get right without the proper equipment, techniques and of course the secret recipe for that amazing garlic sauce (yum).

When I saw this recipe for chicken shawarmas in the July 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine, I knew I had to try it. It didn't quite have the taste of an authentic Lebanese shawarma, but we thought this recipe was very good in its own right. The marinade on the chicken was great, and I could eat my chicken breasts just marinated and grilled this way anytime. The sauce was very good, and was probably way healthier than the sauce you would normally get on a shawarma.

Overall, we thought this recipe was a keeper.

Chicken Shawarma
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, July 2008

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into strips

1/2 cup fat free plain yoghurt
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Other ingredients:
Pita bread
Chopped lettuce
Tomato slices
Chopped red onion

1. Combine first 6 ingredients of marinade. Cut chicken into strips (I cut each breast into 3 strips) and pour marinade over chicken in a Ziploc bag. Marinade in fridge all day (or overnight).

2. To prepare sauce, combine yoghurt and next 4 ingredients. Mix well. The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.

3. Preheat barbeque grill. Shake the excess marinade off the chicken and thread on barbeque skewers. Grill for approximately 4 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through.

4. Place pita bread on the grill for a minute or two to warm.

5. To serve, place lettuce tomato and onion on top of the pita bread. Top with chicken and drizzle with sauce.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Salami Cones

Well, it's been an unforgivably long time since I've written a post, but rather than going into a whole list of excuses (most of them would be made up anyway), I'm just going to give you all a nice new recipe.

I've gotten a lot of e-mails over the past few months, hundreds probably, and to answer the most common question I've been asked.... YES, I am STILL hungry!!

This is a nice little appetizer recipe that I've made tons of times. It's a little finicky to put together, but well worth the effort for all the compliments you will receive.

Salami Cones

1 4oz package of cream cheese
1 cup finely shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1-3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp very finely chopped red pepper
1 package (at least 12 slices) hard salami, thinly sliced
baby dill pickles

1. Mix softened cream cheese with Monterrey Jack and red pepper.

2. Mix in milk. Add one tablespoon at a time until mixture reaches the consistency of cake icing.

3. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with large nozzle (this is why you have to chop the red pepper very fine, or they will clog the opening).

4. Cut each salami slice into 2. Roll each half into a cone and fill with cream cheese mixture. Secure with toothpick and a chunk of baby dill.