Monthly Archives: June 2011

Summer Fresh.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about food is the vast world of creativity and artistry it opens up. Suddenly bread is stuffed french toast, s’mores are cookies, almonds are flowers, soda is cake. You are forced to look at everything from a different perspective.

When you take an ingredient or a recipe and apply it in a different way or reshape it you not only see the dish differently but also the world. Ingredients are not spices or sugars, but instead keys to a different dimension where up is down and black is white.

So when I was contacted by Summer Fresh and asked to produce an original recipe including one of their delicious dips, hummus or salads you can understand how excited I was. I have never had the opportunity to experiment with anything like hummus and I was so happy with my results. My Greek Hummus Pizza was so good!

Today you can see mine and many other yummy recipes using Summer Fresh products on the Summer Fresh Facebook page. Just for liking one of those recipes you can receive a buy one get one free Summer Fresh coupon and enter for a chance to win a Summer Fresh party kit so you can play with your food too!



Greek Hummus Pizza

Makes 2 medium pizzas.

Source: Crust adapted from Annie’s Eats’ Basic Pizza Dough.

1/2 cup water, warm
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 cup bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cornmeal

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Summer Fresh Roasted Garlic Hummus
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 cocktail tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Note: This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas but I like to freeze one half of dough for later. You can choose to make two pizzas now and double the topping ingredients.

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In a medium measuring bowl sprinkle the instant yeast over the warm water.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment stir together the bread flour and salt. Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast bowl and gradually pour it into the flour mixture while it’s mixing on low.

Once it’s mixed into a cohesive dough switch to the hook attachment and knead the dough on low for about 5 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to ensure all the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit undisturbed to rise until it’s doubled in size for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees and position a rack in the middle.

Press down the doubled dough to deflate it then transfer it to a floured work surface. Cut it in half evenly then wrap one half in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer safe resealable bag to freeze for another time. Or, if you’d prefer, you can make two pizzas at once. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 – 30 minutes.

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your pizza stone then sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal. Cornmeal is the secret to crispy pizza crust. Spread the word! Lightly flour your hands and shape the dough gently using the backs of your hands to stretch and form it without tearing it with your fingertips. If the dough springs back too much when you’re trying to shape it then let it rest for another 15 minutes and try again. This should relax the gluten and make it easier to work with. Your goal here is to form the dough into a circle 10 – 12 inches wide with a slightly thicker 1/2 inch rim for the crust.

Brush the olive oil onto the crust with a pastry brush. This gives the crust a golden sheen and a satisfying crunch.

Spread an even layer of the Summer Fresh Garlic Hummus over the pizza dough. Sprinkle half the mozzarella on top followed by the spinach leaves, onion, tomatoes, olives, the rest of the mozzarella and finally the feta cheese.

Slide the parchment paper onto a cutting board or pizza peel then onto the preheated pizza stone and bake it for 8 – 12 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and the crust should be golden brown. Slice and enjoy!

How To Tuesday: My Sweet Josephine.

After seeing Kristin’s friendship bracelet giveaway on Idle Wife, I’ve hauled out my old bracelet books and thread from when I was a kid. Naturally I’ve been furiously making all sorts of bracelets. After making six friendship bracelets in two days I decided I needed a new pattern. Following an extensive google session I found these beautiful recycled t-shirt bracelets and vowed to make them my own.

And now you can too! Because you should. Really.

All you need is…

2 pieces of fabric about 18 x 6 inches
Scissors
Pliers
2 ribbon clamps (found at Michaels)
2 jump rings
1 clasp

Cut 2 pieces of fabric from your t-shirt about 18 x 6 inches. Fold up the fabric lengthwise to hide the unfinished edges and lay them next to each other.

Make a loop with the first scrap and lay it over top of the second. Take the second piece and lay it over the end of the loop you just made.

Take that end and alternate weaving it under and over the remaining fabric lengths. Grasp all four ends and pull it tight to your liking. You may need to fluff some areas of the knot and tighten others.

Pair up the ends of fabric and wrap it snugly around your wrist. Measure the length you’d like and cut it accordingly. Take the pairs and fit them each into an open ribbon clamp then securely shut them in place with the pliers. Attach the jump rings and clasp.

And there you have it! A one of a kind bracelet made especially for you for next to nothing! Try experimenting with two colours, patterned and solid fabrics.

Guest Post With Idle Wife: Napkin Folding 101.

I am so happy to introduce you to my talented friend, Kristin from the lovely blog, Idle Wife. Don’t let the name fool you, she’s not what you’d consider idle! She designs, she bakes macarons, she photographs, she sews, she collects vases, she gardens, she makes her own jam, she thrift shops, she absconds with neighbours flowers. She’s a whirling dervish of creative energy. My kind of people and yours too!

Today she’s here to give us a couple brilliant tutorials on pretty napkin folds that are classy enough that you can try out at your next dinner party and simple enough to have at your next picnic.

I’ve been really keen on food and table decor lately. It’s a weird thing for me as I never have any reason to make little cupcake toppers or prepare tablescapes. I don’t have parties and no parties means no themes, no cutesy decorations, and no elaborately decorated food tables. I drool over party pictures on other blogs, I really do. Everything’s so together and stylish. But it’s probably never going to happen for me. Why? Well, as much as I love all of that, I’m terrible at planning and coordinating and going all out for things. I’m a simple gal who likes simple things. One tiny vase of flowers is more my style than a table runner of elaborately matching bouquets.

So maybe it’s weird that when I found these two cute napkin folding techniques, I jumped at the chance to learn them. But I’m also a sensible gal, and I thought these would be a fun skill to have in my back pocket. You know, for that “What?! The inlaws are coming tonight?!” dinner or while quickly and quietly trying to whip up a surprise anniversary breakfast before my sweetie gets out of bed. It’d be impressive to be able to quickly fold up some napkin pockets for your inlaws (Look! You totally remembered they were coming!) or be able to place some cute napkin bows beside a plate of fluffy pancakes and strawberries. And these folds are so basic and quick, you really will have time to do them last minute because you’ll learn and remember them after doing it once. I promise they’re not hard at all!

Did I mention that this is also something that can be done super cheap? You know those really pretty, cheaper packages of multicoloured and multi-patterned paper napkins you can pick up in places like IKEA? You can totally do this with them! I used paper napkins for the tutorial below (the paperclips on the pocket fold are just there so I could photograph it without my hands getting in the way. The folds stay once finished). So you don’t even have to go out and buy fancy fabric napkins. Either work, it doesn’t make a difference. What does make a difference is size. Both work with any larger sized napkin. Smaller would work for the bow fold (you’d just end up with a smaller bow), but you definitely need the larger size for the pocket fold. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something resembling more of a pouch (which wouldn’t be half bad in some applications, actually!).



For the bow fold:



1.
starting with the napkin face down, fold the top and bottom edges in to meet at the middle;


2.
then fold those top and bottom edges in again to meet at the middle;


3.
finally, fold the long edges into the middle so they slightly overlap;


4.
turn the napkin over and tie a ribbon, string, or twist tie around the middle, cinching it tight to create the bow. Fold and     fluff as necessary.



For the pocket fold:



1.
starting with the napkin face up, fold the bottom edge up to the top edge (this is going to form your pocket, so you can     vary the size of it by going higher or lower to the top);


2.
fold the edge (you just folded up) back down to the bottom edge of your first fold;


3.
turn the entire napkin over (be careful not to undo your folds!);


4.
finally, fold the two sides in to meet at the middle;


5.
Repeat step 4 with the outer sides again;


6.
turn the napkin over, and you’ll have a little pocket. Tuck anything your little heart desires into it!

I hope you have fun impressing your guests with your new awww-inspiring napkin folding skills!

How To Tuesday: Means To An End.

We all have them. Bread ends. Stupid, tiny, crusty, thin, burn in the toaster bread ends. But why throw them out like most people when you can use them to make delicious bread crumbs?

And go one step further and make your own seasoned bread crumbs. There are so many options and the best part is you can make it exactly the way you want. Italian, Greek, curry, Herbs de Provence, Thanksgiving. Be creative! The possibilities are endless!

Then why not take it another step further and do your own Shake and Bake? Mind blowing right? All you do is dredge your chicken, pork or fish in flour, then beaten egg, then your bread crumbs seasoned to your liking and bake or pan fry.

Let’s start with the bread crumbs and let your imagination go from there.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and position a rack in the center. Place your bread ends or slices on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 – 25 minutes. They should be dry and hard but not necessarily toasted. Transfer them to a cooling rack until they’re room temperature.

Break the dried bread into chunks and blend it in a food processor until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You could make it superfine or coarse. It’s completely up to you! You can stop now and keep your bread crumbs plain or you can play the flavour game.

Now the fun part! Mix and match your flavours to create the seasoned bread crumbs of your dreams. Here are a few of my favourites to get you started.



Italian

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp parmesan



Thanksgiving

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage



Herbs de Provence

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried savoury
14 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried lavender flowers
1/4 tsp dried fennel seeds



Indian Curry

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp dried cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cloves

Just mix together the spices and bread crumbs of one recipe and store them in an airtight container. The Italian mixture should be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months because of the parmesan cheese. Any of the other mixtures can be store at room temperature indefinitely.

For Dads Everywhere.

They say that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. When I think of my dad certain smells indicative of dads everywhere come to mind. Cedar sawdust, freshly mowed grass, crisp soap, gunpowder, campfire smoke, soft leather, pine trees and BBQ. Especially BBQ.

Instead of making a dessert to celebrate Father’s Day this year I decided to make something that dads appreciate most. Meat and lots of it. A quarter pound of beef mixed with fresh pesto and grilled to perfection. A dinner any dad would be happy to eat.

Just a little way to say thank you for all the wheelbarrow rides and movie nights. Photography advice and piggy back rides. Butter and sugar on soda crackers. Guitar solos and surround sound. Blueberries and Carnation milk. For patiently sitting through makeovers complete with hair gel and bobby pins. Target practice at the gun club. Grapefruit and Led Zeppelin. Extra rare filet mignon and Lipton noodle packages. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!



Pesto Burgers

Makes 6 – 7 burgers.

Source: My imagination.

1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
Black pepper to taste
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten

6 – 7 slices mozzarella
Lettuce for topping
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
6 – 7 kaiser buns, sliced

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In a food processor combine the basil leaves, garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, fresh ground black pepper and olive oil. Blend all the ingredients until there are no more chunks.

In a large bowl combine the pesto, ground beef, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and egg. Mix it just until all the ingredients are combined. Divide the mixture into 6 – 7 even balls depending on how big you want your patties. Between your palms squish each ball into a round disc then sandwich them between sheets of wax paper.

Grill the patties on a BBQ or grill on high heat about 3 – 5 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of grilling top each with the slices of mozzarella. Transfer them to the sliced kaiser buns and top with the lettuce, tomato and onion. Enjoy!

How To Tuesday: Pop Goes The Garlic.

There are a few schools of thought on the best way to peel garlic. Some people crush it under a chef’s knife. Some people soak the cloves in cold water. Some people just diligently pick away at the skin with their fingernails.

I used to use the latter method until a few months back when I discovered a quick and easy way to peel garlic. I’ve been doing it this way ever since and been able to avoid messy juice, slippery knife cuts, garlicky fingernails and dirtying another bowl.

Want to know how? Sure you do!

Grasp the clove vertically between your thumb and first finger.

Squeeze it slightly so the clove begins to bend and you hear a satisfying snap when the skin pops away from the garlic flesh.

Slide your fingernail underneath the skin and easily pull it off the clove.

Now you’re left with a beautifully skinned clove all shiny and whole. Easy peasy!

Thick As Thieves.

Two of my very favourite things are in season right now. Cherries and lilacs. To celebrate I thought I’d combine the two.

I made you a Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Tart and planted my very own lilac bush.

The latter was no easy task. Let me explain.

First you must know that you should consider me a frugal person. Not cheap. Frugal. If I can spend little to no money on anything I’ll go for it. Who wouldn’t, right? There are things I do not scrimp on. Cream cheese for one – why anyone would put anything other than Philadelphia in their mouths is beyond me. Eyeglasses – Gucci, Armani, Versace yes please. Laptops – sorry, but I’m not going to let an off brand hard drive anywhere near all my photos, videos and documents for fear they might spontaneously combust.

Pretty much everything else is up for grabs. All the clothes hanging in my closet were either very reasonably priced or very much on sale. I compare prices on flour. All the boxes in my pantry are generic brand or the next best thing.

So you can understand why I was not about to spend money on something like a lilac bush when they grow free and wild. I was also not about to be caught cloak and dagger in my neighbour’s backyard absconding with their precious lilacs, pail and trowel in hand. So we took a drive. A long drive. And wouldn’t you know, the further we got outside the city the less and less prevalent the tiny little flowers became. We drove down muddy roads, over potholes and through neighbourhoods we had no business being in. No luck and no lilacs.

So after all that we ended up spending less money on a lilac bush at the garden center than we spent on gas to fuel our little adventure. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a lilac thief.

Biting into this delicious tart makes me feel loads better though. At least I have that.



Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Tart

Makes 1 12 inch tart

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 hazelnuts, blanched, toasted and ground fine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 egg

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp hazelnuts, blanched, toasted and chopped
1 cup sweet cherries, pitted

Note: To make it easier to grind the hazelnuts blend them in a food processor with the powdered sugar. That way they stay dry and won’t ball up.

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In a food processor pulse together the flour, cocoa powder, ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar and salt. Barely cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg a little bit at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition. The dough will appear granular at first and after a few 10 second pulses it will clump together.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it ever so slightly so it holds together. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to roll out the tart shell take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 10 minutes to take a bit of the chill off. Butter a 12 inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and set it aside. Sandwich the dough between 2 large sheets of wax paper and roll it out into a 15 inch circle. Rolling it out with wax paper helps you avoid sticky dough, messy flour, reduces cracks and makes it easy to turn it over into the tart pan. Once the sheet of dough is centered in the prepared tart pan press it into the corners of the pan and fold the excess dough back over the sides to create a nice strong double edge crust, making sure to keep the dough level with the edge of the pan. Pierce the dough a few times with a fork and freeze it for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it buttered side down tightly against the inside of the tart shell. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake it for another 10 minutes. Transfer the tart to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

To make the ganache put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a small sauce pan combine the cream and butter and heat it on medium heat. When it comes to just a boil pour it over the chocolate, cover it and let it sit for 3 – 5 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate until it all melts and you’re left with a smooth pudding like consistency. Pour it into the cooled tart shell and smooth it out with a spatula. Top it with cherries and chopped hazelnuts. Enjoy!