Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chicken Barley Soup

This is one of my most favourite soups and the one I go to when someone in my family is starting to feel under the weather. It's simply home.

Chicken Barley Soup (Serves 4)

- 4 legs of chicken
- 1 cooking onion chopped
- 1 cup of cut carrots or baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- water
- 1 cup of barley (they grow!)
- 10 or so fresh basil leafs
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 lemon

- Combine chicken, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, turmeric and cover with water in a large pot
- Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
- Take chicken out and set aside in a casserole dish for broiling (*second course which I like to serve with rice and salad).
- Add barley, basil, tomato paste, and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Add lemon juice, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.

Hot and delicious every time!

*This recipe works just as well with noodles substituted for barley

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lemon Bar Delights

Tomorrow is my last day volunteering with a group of little kids. I wanted to give something special to the other ladies I work with (the kids are already getting cookies).  So, I wanted to bring something that requires a little more of a refined taste. I love lemon bars and I hope they do too!

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold butter

Butter pan
Mix the flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add butter in pieces. The mixture should look course and have large pieces of butter left in it.
Put crust in pan. Pat down until it is firmly compacted. Press up the sides a bit. The crust should be about 1/4 inch thick
Freeze for 30 minutes
Put in oven for 20 minutes at 350 rotating once 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs lightly beaten
3 tablespoons flour
1 lime, and 2 large lemons freshly squeezed
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix sugar, eggs, flour, juice, milk, and salt
Remove pan from oven and pour topping onto crust
Bake for 20 minutes
Cut into bars and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar
And serve!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Shortbread Cookie Sticks

Winter weather brings out the baker in me... so today lets have some shortbread cookies. 

Shortbread is classic and a great recipe to master. Its so simple yet absolutely scrumptious and very versatile. You can dip them in chocolate, decorate them with icing, or just have them plain.
My recipe is for simple plain shortbread that will go great with coffee or tea. So whip some up and invite someone over to share them with.

Shortbread cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

(In a separate bowl combine salt and flour and set aside)

-In mixer bowl, cream butter (1min)
-Add sugar until smooth (2min)
-Add vanilla
-Slowly add flour mixture, stirring gently

-Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 min
-Roll out dough onto floured surface. Thickness should be between 1/2 -1/4 inch
-Cut into desired shape
-Place cookies in freezer for 10 minutes to firm them up again
-Sprinkle cookies with sugar
-Line baking sheet with parchment paper
-Bake for 10 minutes @ 350
-Let cool on a wire wrack

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Autumnal Feast

One of our favorite things is cooking with seasonal produce. And this time of year, beets and turnips are abundant. Not only are they both delicious in their own ways, they are super foods that pack a punch nutritionally. So any chance we get, we cook them up with whatever we have around the house. This time it was sausage and pasta. We fried up the sausage and then added the beats and turnips. After the meat was cooked well and the roots were tender we threw them in with a favorite pasta and presto we had on our hands a delicious autumnal feast. Enjoy!

1 package of your favorite sausage
4 medium sized beats
1 large turnip
1 box or bag of pasta

Mix them together and eat up!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dining on Dumplings

Toronto has one of the best Chinatowns in North America. Even with its wind-tunnel-like streets and overcrowded sidewalks, there's always a warm and delicious place waiting for you at the Dumpling House. And if you don't have time to go there, then the next best thing to do is to stock up on dumpling shells.

Dumplings can be made with anything. Really. Eggplants, cucumbers, apples, beef, chicken...you get the idea. One of our favourite standbys is pork and chives. Yummity yummity.

It's the perfect dish to make as a family or with friends who don't mind getting their hands dirty.

Making dumplings

1 package dumpling shells (about 50)
1 lb ground pork
1 bushel of green onions or chives
1 tablespoon of ginger
salt and pepper to taste

~Boil 4 quarts of water
~Mix the pork with finely chopped green onions and finely chopped ginger. Add a bit of salt and pepper to mixture.
~Take a rounded teaspoon amount of mixture and put in shell.
~ Pinch outside closed. It may help to use some water along the outside edge of shell to seal together.
~Do this until they are all filled.
~Place all dumplings in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Don't over cook.
~Strain dumplings and Serve!

A nice dipping sauce mixture is black rice vinegar and soy sauce.

We made fried rice, an asian inspired salad, and spring rolls as our side dishes. But the dumplings are just as nice on their own or with a simple soup or salad.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pizza and Pavement

Sort of. Actually it was pizza and music a la Stephen Malkmus. We wanted everything to be made from scratch. All the fun is in kneading the dough, mixing up the sauce, and selecting choice toppings for yourself. So we made an easy dough recipe  and then created a simple sauce with a special twist. We decided on having two pizzas with separate themes. The first pizza was covered in salami, mushrooms, and orange bell peppers. The second pizza donned pancetta (an Italian bacon), red onions,  pineapple, and orange bell peppers. The toppings are of course left up to the tastes and mood of the creator. To finish off the meal we toasted some delicious bread baked with fresh garlic cloves inside.

Because the dough takes a little time to prepare, allow about two hours preparation time so you aren't starving by the time its ready.

The dough recipe is for two large pizzas.

1 packet active dry yeast (If you want a more doughy crust use two packets of yeast.)

2 cups warm water

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

5 teaspoons olive oil

1 egg

5 1/2 cups flour (I used half white and have wheat flour)

Mix yeast with 2 cups warm water in large mixing bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Mix in salt, sugar, olive oil, and egg. Slowly mix in flour.

Knead dough for a couple minutes. If you are doing this in a kitchen aid stand mixer use the dough hook. When the dough clings to the hook and the sides of the bowl are clean it is ready.

Put dough in a greased bowl and turn over until the top of the dough is greased. Cover dough and leave in a warm dry place for an hour.

After dough has sat for an hour punch down.

Roll dough out and put on pizza pan or cookie sheet.

Cover with toppings and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

The sauce was simple.

1 can of tomato paste

4 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 cloves pressed chopping garlic

2 pinches of oregano

2 pinches of mint

Mix all ingredients together and spread away!