Category Archives: other food

Snowy Sunday cooking projects: bread and oxtail.

So I am making up for months without blogging by making a bunch of things at once. We’ve been doing some work to our kitchen, but mostly I have just been busy and uninspired, and light is so bad here in the winter for photos. Anyway, just bad excuses.

So I made a gluten-free bread today, which is based on this bread mix from Schär:

I am generally a bit sceptical about these pre-made mixes, because they are often so starchy, but at the same time the bread I made from this recently, just with some added seeds and fibre, turned out so great.

So I decided to mix it with some wholegrain flour and see how it acted. Instead of the 500g of breadmix suggested in the recipe on the bag, I used 250g, and then added 100g teff flour, 100g of this other mix that I had on hand. Added yeast according to the instructions and some flax seeds and fibre supplement and psyllium. (I am not really putting a recipe here since these products are quite Norway-specific, and since I was just mixing stuff somewhat at random).

Somehow the bread didn’t brown on top, but it is otherwise very good! Great texture and taste. I had some with quince paste and goat cheese and froze it in slices. Looking forward to toast!

Braising oxtail

I had a kilo of oxtail on hand, which is something I have never cooked before. It needs a low and slow braise, so that’s what it got.

First, I dried off and seasoned all the bits of oxtail with some oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika and chili flakes, in a vaguely  Mexican twist.

Then, they went into the Dutch oven with half an onion, two ribs of celery and a few carrots (classic mirepoix mix), and water enough to almost cover the bottom oxtail bits (big ones at the bottom, small ones on top).

This got to simmer at a 150C oven for about 4 hours, at which time all the collagen and cartilage and whatnot had mellowed out and it was all starting to fall off the bone. I picked out the oxtail pieces and took the meat off the bone and shredded it with a fork.

I served the shredded oxtail on a sort of open-face arepa (I figured I wouldn’t be able to make proper tortillas – not quite the right masa and no tortilla press), with some onion and coriander on top. I served it with the braising vegetables (I think carrots and celery taste by far the best after several hours of cooking with the fatty meat… too good to throw out!)

The remaining juices/cooking liquid from the braising will go into lentil soup later in the week, I figure. Should make it rich and delicious.
Stay tuned!

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Sorry about the lack of new blog posts..

I just moved a week ago and we are still settling in. I am also still getting to know my new oven, and it seems that the thermostat is a bit off — judging by the bread I made the oven is colder than it claims to be…

I did make an absolutely perfect gluten-free version of my mother’s apple cake last night, but it was made completely randomly without proper measurements, and it was too dark to photograph it. This morning it was all gone… But I will recreate it in the near future and write about it! It is truly divine!

Dinner tip.

This is not a real blog posting, but just to say that this Autumn Millet Bake, a Mark Bittman recipe, is a really nice thing to make for dinner. I make it in my Dutch oven, so there is no fussing around with tin foil. I don’t always use the pumpkin seeds and the cranberries, but I do sometimes throw in a seasoned chicken drumstick or two on top. By the time the millet is cooked through, so is the chicken. Nice one-pot meal kind of thing.

A frugal, and local, dinner idea for Torontonians.

A dish that I make every few weeks, without fail, is a simple lamb stew in the dutch oven. It’s cheap, tasty and local, so there is an abundance of reasons why this is a great dinner.

Fiesta Farms, my local supermarket, stocks fresh Ontario lamb stew meat at their meat counter. It’s left over bits and pieces, admittedly mostly bone, but it packs loads of flavor and is ridiculously cheap. I recently picked up three packs at about $1 per pound! One 400g pack is good for a dinner for 2, so I just stick them in the freezer. I also picked up a bag of Ontario carrots at 99 cents at PAT supermarket, and a $1.29 bag of Ontario parsnips at the vegetable stand across the street at Bloor and Manning. I had garlic and a red onion lying around, plus half a bottle of red which was slightly off, and some left-over rosemary (I usually use dried, but for once I had some fresh lying around). That’s all there I needed!

How do you do it?

Chop 2-3 carrots, 2 parsnips and one medium or half a big red onion in chunks. Preheat oven to 160C. In the dutch oven on the stovetop, brown the lamb bits for a few minutes. Set lamb aside, and deglace the pan with a healthy glug of red wine. Add garlic and chopped rosemary and some salt and pepper. Layer lamb and vegetables, and add a bit of water or stock (depending on how generous you were with the wine). Pop the lid on and bake for anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours. 1.5 should be enough. You want it all to be falling apart off the bone etc. You might want to check that it doesn’t dry up at some point and add more wine or water if it looks like it is.

It’s an extremely forgiving “recipe” which does not require any kind of measurements. Just throw it all in there and slow-roast it in the dutch oven and it will all come together.

Serve with boiled potatoes, or even just on its own, depending on how hungry you are. It’s kind of greasy and with lots and lots of delicious, deep flavor from the lamb and the red wine. The parsnips, in particular, are amazing once they have soaked up all the loveliness.

Dinner for 2, for about $2-3, and almost all out of Ontario!

Making granola.

With so many dietary restrictions, it’s not always easy to find cereal we can both eat. I have a particularly hard time because I can’t have any nuts or sunflower seeds. We have usually eaten Kashi GoLean Crunch, but since Al is avoiding wheat it is no longer an option for him. That’s why I decided to make my own granola for once. I’ve done it before, but it’s been a while. I am often a bit skeptical because many recipes use a lot of oil, but not this one! It still has some sugar, of course, but it’s not really that sweet.

I started out with this recipe from David Leibovitz (originally Nigella Lawson’s), but made some changes to the actual content to make it nut-free. I halved it, and used oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, sesame seeds, some chia seeds and brown sugar (not very much). I added ginger (a full tsp) and cinnamon. For the wet ingredients, I used oil and apple sauce as directed, but I added a little bit extra of the brown rice syrup instead of the honey.

I baked it at 300F for 3×10 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to avoid burning. Once it was nice and toasty, I mixed in dried cranberries, raisins, and some chopped caramelized ginger. It’s a really lovely, not too sweet, crunchy granola. I think I could have added even more ground ginger for an extra zing, will try that next time!

(Slightly) balsamic truffles.

In another attempt to fight consumerism (homemade gifts!) and use the kilo (!) of Valrhona 61% chocolate I got from my darling mother, here come the truffles. They turned out gooey and chocolatey and perfect, in all their sugary dairy fattiness. So, so good! 

The balsamic idea comes from Soma (credit where credit is due), the incredible chocolatier in Toronto’s Distillery District. I had a balsamic chocolate there back in the day (years ago!) and I still remember.. This turned out more like a slight hint of balsamic, but it’s a pleasant one nonetheless. You could flavor them any which way you like, though. 

The actual recipe (sans balsamic) is from a booklet that came with the big chunk of chocolate. 

(Slightly) balsamic truffles

  • 150 g double cream (ie 1,5 dl)
  • 25 g honey
  • 190 g Valrhona 61% couverture chocolate (nice chocolate with a high cocoa butter content — not 70%)
  • 30 g butter
  • some balsamic vinegar
  • some sugar
  • cocoa for rolling

Heat about equal parts vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan (a few tablespoons of each, I didn’t measure). Boil to reduce. 

Chop the chocolate finely and put in a bowl. Boil cream and honey. Pour 1/3 of the cream over the chocolate and wait a second — it will start to melt it. Start stirring briskly with a spatula, and add the cream gradually (“as if you are making mayonnaise”, according to the instructions — I certainly never made mayonnaise!). Stir until you achieve a shiny, uniform and elastic mixture. Ooh, beautiful chocolate. Add the butter and incorporate. Add about 1-2 tbsp of the reduced balsamic syrup.

At this point the instructions tell you to actually put it all in a pastry bag and pipe onto a surface. This seems quite redundant. Prepare some wax paper on a plate/tray and spoon portion-sized heaps onto it. Chill for several hours. Then peel off and roll into balls and roll in cocoa. They will shape up nicely, but work quickly so they don’t melt too much.

I put them in cellophane with a gold tie around, I figured that would be very Christmasy. I then put them in a Christmasy box along with some of the fleur de sel caramels as well as candied orange peel which I made yesterday. This should make a nice Christmas present, non?

Messing up chocolate mousse.

I have made this several times before, but somehow today I messed up the texture. I got a bit carried away with the electric whisk..

This concept is genius. Chocolate mousse with very few ingredients, very little effort, and to top it all off, it’s almost healthy. Normally chocolate mousse is full of both eggs and dairy, but that is easily replaced in one fell swoop by silken tofu. And with this much chocolate, even the most ardent tofu hater won’t be able to taste that it’s there. Just don’t whisk it too much, because it will (apparently!) suddenly set into a sort of strange, crumbly texture…. At least it still tastes great!

Somewhat messed up chocolate mousse..

(Almost) healthy chocolate mousse, sans eggs and dairy

  • 150 g silken tofu
  • 150 g dark chocolate (I used 61% Valrhona)
  • 3 tsp Cointreau
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Whisk tofu with Cointreau and vanilla until it’s nice and smooth. Carefully melt the chocolate over a bain-marie. Let cool for a little while. Progressively add chocolate to tofu, combining as you go.  Whisk to combine properly and get a nice texture, just not for too long.. Spoon into glasses or cups. Chill until dessert time.