Sunday, January 30, 2011

Love of my life: Macaroni and Cheese

Eat Make Read
It made my winter when I found Celia's rendition of this recipe on Eat Make Read. I think the trick is the goat cheese - it makes me want to skip the baking process and just eat the sauce with a spoon. Depending on what has been available at my grocery store, I've substituted some variant of aged cheddar for the gouda and parmesan for the cheddar (proportion-wise). Yum.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making up multiple choice questions

It's not exactly my favourite way to spend a Wednesday evening, but I like it so much better than marking. I always feel bad when I make the sort of questions that I hated answering on tests and exams.

In the interest of not providing any misinformation,
the answer is actually angelic-smiley.
However, one can entertain oneself by pasting the questions to share over MSN. The answer is martini, definitely martini.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Decorating Project: Help Needed



This is the TA office. I think I'm the only person who uses it, as everyone else seems to have found an alternative. 

I'm going to spend a few hours a week here, and I don't want to be as sad as I was last week, hunched alone at my laptop and bathed in fluorescent light. Any ideas for how to spruce it up?

Given that (in theory) I don't have exclusive use of the room, I don't want to do anything crazy, overly personal, or expensive. I'm pretty sure I'd get in trouble for trying to paint it, and I can't replace the furniture because A) that would be expensive and B) that would be heavy. 

An Appetizer Party: Grand Finale (Dessert)

They're just so darn classy.

Tuxedo Strawberries


Ingredients:

  1. Fresh strawberries (~30)
  2. White melting chocolate (~ 500g) 
  3. Dark melting chocolate (~250g)
  4. Milk melting chocolate (~250g)
Wash and dry fresh strawberries, skewer with toothpicks through stem for easy dipping and eating. Prepare a baking sheet or two with parchment or waxed paper - you'll set the strawberries here to cool once they have been dipped in chocolate. 

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Dip each strawberry in the white chocolate and place it on a baking tray. If you gently scrape the back of the strawberry along the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, there won't be a puddle of melted chocolate on the tray to deform the silhouette of the berry. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine dark and milk chocolate and melt. Dip each strawberry twice, at an angle, to form the sides of the tuxedo. Again, scrape the back of the berry to preserve its shape. Using a pastry bag with a tiny tip, pipe little buttons and bow ties (like squared figure-eights) to finish off the tux. Allow to cool one more time, then serve and bask in the praise for your adorable dessert.

We followed the method suggested by this guy on YouTube, but added the toothpicks because it made the process easier.

For the rest of the party, catch:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Next Food Project: An easy one!


I think these are the cutest thing I've seen in awhile, and the faces are just painted on with food colouring. Easy beans! I need to have a party so I can serve these. 

An Appetizer Party: Hot Appetizers

In my true dedication to procrastination, I have delayed this post by nearly a week. It wasn't when we were preparing the appetizers that I thought "This a ridiculous number of different things to serve", it was when I had to go through and write up the recipes.

Without further delay, here is the thrilling next edition to "An Appetizer Party" the tale of New Years Eve 2010 chez Arsenault, in food.

In case you missed them, Catch the cold appetizers here.

Blue Cheese Bites


Ingredients:
  1. 1 tube Pillsbury biscuit dough 
  2. 4 oz. blue cheese (we used Stilton)
  3. just under 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in the bottom of your approximately quiche-sized pan. Or rectangular pan. It's flexible. Release the biscuit dough from the tube, and cut the rounds into quarters. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese evenly over bottom of pan. Lay the dough on the cheese. They'll expand, so don't worry if there are a few empty spaces. Bake for 12-15 mins until biscuits are golden. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, and enjoy with sparking wine.

Mom's Marinara Sauce

This delicious marinara is used for both the olives and the meatballs. Leftovers can be reheated, thinned with milk, and served as an awesome tomato soup. 

Ingredients:
  1. 106 oz. San Marzano canned roma tomatoes with basil (any brand will work, though note that the best way to get mediocre tomato sauce is to buy the cheapest canned tomatoes.)
  2. about 1/4 cup of butter
  3. 2 onions, diced
  4. 2 stalk of celery, diced
  5. 1 carrot, grated
  6. Salt and pepper
Directions:

Put butter in a big pot, heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot, season with salt and pepper - no need to measure, just do what feels right. Sautee until soft. Add tomatoes, and puree. Reduce for 2-3 hours to enhance the flavour, if you have the time.

Best Meatballs Ever


Ingredients:
  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 lb ground pork
  3. 2 cups bread, cubed-no crust (baguette or rustic italian)
  4. 3/4 cup milk
  5. 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  6. freshly ground pepper to taste
  7. 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley - finely chopped
  8. 1/4 cup pine nuts - ground
  9. 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  10. zest of 1 lemon
  11. 1/3 cup grated pecorino or parmasan cheese
  12. 2 eggs - lightly beaten
  13. 1 ½ cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
  14. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + extra if needed
  15. Marinara sauce
Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk. In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the beef, pork, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, egg, cheese, salt & pepper. And Panko. Then remove most of the Panko and some of the parmesan cheese. Squeeze the milk from the bread and incorporate into the meat mixture.

Wet your hands a little (prevents sticking) and take around a heaping tablespoon of meat and form into a ball, then flatten down slightly so they wont roll around in the pan. Next coat them in the Panko and parmesan you removed and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over med heat and fry the patties until they're nice and brown. (note: you're not cooking them all the way through, just browning the outside.) Arrange them in a large casserole dish or roasting pan in one layer.


Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs evenly, adding a splash of olive oil over the top and place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. When they come out top with freshly grated parmasan or pecorino and some finely chopped parsley for garnish. Makes a ton of bite-sized meatballs.



Fried Olives

Posting this recipe makes me feel like an impostor, because I don't actually like olives, so I didn't taste it. I do have it on good authority that it is a delicious and unusual way to enjoy olives. Apparently the combination of sausage, olive, cheese, bread, and marinara is reminiscent of pizza. I think that's a good thing.


Ingredients:

  1. Pitted, big, green olives
  2. An italian sausage
  3. about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  4. a splash of olive oil
  5. about 1 cup of flour
  6. 2 eggs, beaten
  7. about 2 cups of Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  8. A lot of oil for deep frying. We used peanut oil because we didn't have enough vegetable oil.
Directions:

To prepare the stuffing, cut the italian sausage out of its casing and sauté to cook, breaking it up into small pieces of ground meat. When it is cooked, put it into a food processor with some parmesan and a bit of olive oil and puree into a paste. It should be about the consistency of paté, so add parmesan and olive oil slowly until you reach the desired consistency.

Using a pastry bag and tip, pipe the filling into the centre of the olive (we had to dig out cloves of garlic to do this, you may need to remove pimentos or seeds depending on the olives you buy). 

Once the olives are stuffed, bread them by coating in flour, then egg, then panko. If they're too dry for the flour to stick, you can brush them lightly with olive oil. They can be kept refrigerated in this state for a while (up to two weeks) if you want to get your prep work done in advance, and then you can fry them right before they will be served. We fried them later that day. 

Pour oil into a large pan (with deep-ish sides, the oil will be very hot) so that it is about 1cm deep.  Lower olives into the oil (I think we used tongs to do them one by one). Cook for about 2 minutes, turning halfway through. They should be golden brown when they're done. Remove to a paper-towel-covered plate and then serve in marinara sauce, though rumour has it that cocktail sauce works well too. Watch them disappear. 


Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts


Ingredients:

  1. 1lb of thick-cut bacon (smoky, not maple or honey, or any other strange flavour)
  2. About 40 large, whole water chestnuts 

Directions:

Cut the strips of bacon in half. Wrap each water chestnut in half a strip of bacon, and skewer with a toothpick. These can be set aside overnight and cooked later.

Lay the skewers out on a baking tray, and cook at 350-400˚ for about 45 minutes, or whenever the bacon looks done. Serve immediately with some sort of dipping sauce. Cocktail sauce is delicious.

Chicken Skewers




Ingredients: for 10 skewers
  1. 3/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch pieces
  7. 6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  8. 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, stems removed (for easier skewering)
Directions:

To prepare the marinade,  in a mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir in chicken and onion; allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Soak wooden skewers in water. On each skewer, thread a piece of chicken, onion, mushroom and another chicken piece. 

The original recipe gives these instructions for broiling: 
Place on a broiler rack. Broil 5 in. from the heat, turning and basting with marinade after 3 minutes. Continue broiling for another 3 minutes or until chicken is done. 

We grilled them on the barbecue instead.

Serve immediately. We served them with a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.


Stay tuned for the single-recipe finale: dessert. Hint: it's going to be adorable.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Appetizer Party: Cold Appetizers

We closed 2010 with a party at my parents' house. We spent much of December 30th and 31st planning and preparing a suite of appetizers to serve in lieu of a sit-down dinner. Following is an account of what we decided on, how we prepared it, and most importantly: how it looked.

Shrimp Cocktail


Ingredients: 
  1. Raw, frozen shrimp
  2. Lemon
  3. Sea Salt/Kosher Salt
  4. Ketchup
  5. Horseradish
  6. Worcestershire Sauce
  7. Sugar
  8. Tobasco
Directions: 

Thaw shrimp and toss in kosher salt. Bring a huge pot of water to a boil - if you forgot to let the shrimp sit in kosher salt, add some sea salt to the water. We squeezed a lemon in too. 

Drop the shrimp into the boiling water and watch carefully. It's done when it curls/turns pink/floats in the water (experience finds that they tend to be done 30 seconds before you're confident they're done). Drain the hot water, and rinse the shrimp in cold water to keep them from cooking any more. Shell the shrimp - you don't want to buy pre-shelled because all the flavour is in the shell - and then pop them in the fridge until ready to serve.

The cocktail sauce is prepared by combining ketchup, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, sugar, and a touch of tobasco to taste. For details, ask Dave.

Garnish with leaf lettuce and lemon wedges, and serve in a bowl over ice to keep them cool.


Oyster Roll


Ingredients: 
  1. Two 8 oz.  packages of cream cheese
  2. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  3. 2 tsp finely minced onion
  4. 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  5. 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 packages of smoked oysters
Make sure the cream cheese is soft by leaving it out of the refrigerator for a few hours, then mix together all the ingredients but the oysters. Spread this mixture on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet to form a rectangle that's about 1/2 an inch thick.

Chill.


And put the baking sheet in the fridge until firm-ish (about an hour or so).

Prepare the oysters by draining them and patting them dry. Smush them a little as you arrange them on the cream cheese rectangle for even coverage, leaving a little bit of space at the edges.

Roll along the long edge of the rectangle (like a jelly roll), and then smooth the surface with a knife.

Garnish with parsley or tomatoes and baby spinach and then serve with crackers or baguette.


Tomato, Basil, and Bocconcini Skewers



Ingredients (for 40 skewers):

  1. 40 Cherry tomatoes
  2. Fresh basil
  3. 40 "small" bocconcini balls
  4. Olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
  5. Salt (about 1.5 tsp)
  6. Fresh ground pepper (about 2 tsp)
  7. 2-3 cloves of garlic
Quick recipe: get a toothpick, skewer a tomato, a small piece of basil and a bocconcini ball. Repeat. 

For added yumminess, flavour the bocconcini in advance by soaking them in a seasoned oil. 

To make the oil, mince garlic and (about a tablespoon of) fresh basil. Add these to about 1/3 cup of olive oil with salt and pepper. Heat until quite warm, then cool. Dry 40-45 bocconcini balls (it's best to do a few extra in case of accidents or snacking), then put them in a ziploc bag with the cooled oil. Let them sit for a few hours in the fridge, and then execute the quick recipe outlined above. Leftover oil can be drizzled over the plated skewers. 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus


Ingredients:
  1. A small wheel of Boursin cheese (garlic and herb flavour is delicious)
  2. 40 medium-sized spears of asparagus
  3. 20 slices of prosciutto
  4. Zest from one lemon
  5. Cracked black pepper
Break the tough ends off the asparagus spears. We also trimmed these rough edges with a knife for presentation purposes. Blanche the asparagus by submerging it in boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop any further cooking. Pat dry and set aside. 

Prepare the prosciutto by spreading a thin layer of cheese on each slice and then cutting it in half (along its shorter dimension). Sprinkle cracked black pepper on the cheese, and then wrap the prosciutto around the middle of an asparagus spear. One slice of prosciutto should do two asparagus spears.