dimanche 16 novembre 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

A fall alternative to pesto made with basil is one made with roasted red peppers.  Roasting brings out the sweetness and a richer flavour in the peppers.  I prefer to roast peppers on the barbecue but have also done it under the grill in the oven.  I tried over the gas element but found that that was too much trouble.  The skins should be blistered and blackened for the best flavour and ease of removal. 
For this recipe, I also roasted the garlic which makes it milder in taste.   Roasted Red Pepper Pesto makes a great sauce for pasta.  It can also be used on pizza, as a spread for bread or crackers or as a dip for vegetables. 

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

3 medium red peppers, quartered, seeds and membranes removed
3 unpeeled cloves of garlic
60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 small red chile
30 mL (2 Tbsp) pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Grill peppers, skin side up, until skin blisters and blackens. Smash garlic cloves with the flat blade of a large knife. Add to peppers for last 5-10 minutes. Peel skin from peppers and garlic. Place the peppers, garlic, pine nuts and chile in a food processor. Turn on and add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth. Add cheese and process until smooth. Remove to a bowl.

dimanche 9 novembre 2008

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

It has been a few years since I made stir fry dishes on a regular basis.  
The secret to stir fry cooking is to prepare everything in advance - chop and measure out the various ingredients.  Woks are designed for hot and fast cooking.  They do not hold heat like other pots and casseroles.  Each ingredient will added according to how much time it needs to cook.  The cooking time is short so  you have to be prepared to add the next item or the first one(s) will be overcooked.

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry 
Serves 4

700 g (1-1/2 lbs) beef, cut in thin strips
125 mL (1/2 cup) mild chile sauce
15 mL (1 Tbsp) lemon zest
60 mL (1/4 cup) lemon juice
60 mL (1/4 cup) water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
15 mL (1 Tbsp) oil (vegetable or peanut)
250 mL (1 cup) broccoli florets
30 mL (2 Tbsp) fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped

Marinate beef strips in chile sauce in a glass or ceramic bowl for 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat until almost smoking; add beef and stir-fry until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining oil in the wok; add garlic, chile and lemon zest; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli, lemon juice and water. Cover and steam, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the broccoli is tender, about 3 minutes. Return beef and sauté until heated through. Garnish with coriander leaves.

dimanche 2 novembre 2008

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Muffins are no longer something that I make on regular basis but I do have some traditional ones that I like to make once or twice a year.  I like to make Blueberry Muffins when the tiny wild blueberries are available in late summer and Pumpkin Muffins in fall.  This year I cooked the pumpkin myself rather than buying it canned.   I bought a small pumpkin, removed the tough skin and boiled the pulp.  An alternative would have been to roast it in the oven.   The taste of pumpkin works well with many spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.  A combination of these are used in this recipe.   You can always substitute an equal quantity of the 4 spice mix for the individual spices.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Makes 12

430 mL (1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
160 mL (2/3 cup) brown sugar
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) baking powder
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) baking soda
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) cinnamon
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) ground ginger
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cloves
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg
60 mL (1/4 cup) chopped walnuts
60 mL (1/4 cup) raisins
2 eggs
180 mL (3/4 cup) cooked pumpkin
60 mL (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; mix in walnuts and raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla; pour over dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 20-25 minutes.