Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olive Oil Bread

I simply love this recipe, it is one of the easiest recipes I know for baking bread. Today was a perfect day to prepare it and I figure I just had the perfect excuse, as I have a spicy balsamic bread dipper that one of our friends gave us for Christmas and it has been sitting in my counter for a couple of months! So I figure today I wanted to try it, and I needed a delicious home made bread to make the whole experience so much better!

Olive Oil & Herbes de Provence Bread

1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups flour, more if needed
1 tablespoon herbes de provence or whatever herbes you happen to like.


Stir the sugar and yeast into the water, and set aside for 10 minutes to dissolve. Put the olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl, and add the yeast mixture. Beat in 1-1/2 cups/285 g of the flour, until smooth, along with the herbs. Now work in the remaining cup/125 g flour, turning it onto the counter top to knead, until you have a smooth dough, 10 to 15 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place to rise to double, about 45 minutes.
Punch the dough down and shape into a loaf. Let rise again 30 minutes, and bake at 400ºF for 25 minutes until done. Let the bread cool a little before slicing to serve.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rajas con Queso!!

Rajas con Crema y Queso is a very popular Mexican dish. I love the mix of spicy which is delivered by the chile, and smoothness, delivered by the Cream & Cheese. These ingredients just combine beautifully in your mouth. The way we regularly eat this in Mexico is with corn tortillas, you really have to have this with corn tortillas, there is just no better way!.. Here in Canada you can buy corn tortillas at "La Tortilleria" it is almost identical to the ones we have in Mexico!! .. And all the ingredients for this recipe can be found at Kensington Market.

Rajas con Crema y Queso


1/2 cup of white onion finely diced
6 Chiles Poblanos (You can only use this type of chile as the skin can be removed).
1 1/2 tbsp of flour
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup of chicken stock
1/3 cup of your favourite cheese (I used a mix of Cheddar and Gouda cheese).
1 cup of frozen corn
salt & pepper to taste


How to prepare the Chiles Poblanos:
First you have to burn the chiles. And by burn I mean you have to put them in a very hot saucepan and keep turning them until the outside skin gets black. It's easier if you can put them directly into the fire, but as I have an electric stove I have to do it that way. When all the chiles have black skin, you have to wrap them in a kitchen towel and put them inside a plastic bag for approx. 10 mins. Then take them out and with the help of your kitchen towel you will be able to easily remove the blackened skin. Then you have to clean the chiles, so get rid of the seeds and stem. Finally cut the chiles into strips and set aside.

In a hot sauce pan add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, when hot, add the onion and let it cook until tender. Then add the chiles strips, and cook for another 15 mins. Add the flour and mix everything together until you are not able to see it. At this point you can add the chicken stock and let it cook until the chiles are tender. You should have a glossy thick sauce. Then you have to add the cream, cheese and frozen corns and mix everything together. The frozen corns will easily melt on the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a couple of corn tortillas.

It might not be the best looking picture but it does taste amazing!!

This is the end result you are looking for!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Home Made TAMALES!!!

Yes people I was able to cook homemade tamales!!! I have to say they are a pain to cook and real messy but the taste is just amazing.. it tastes like Mexico!!! I'll upload the recipe soon!!

No Pain, No Gain!

I believe that all the famous chefs around the world have had bad experiences when it comes to 'doing your thing' in the kitchen. I mean, there are knifes, hot pans, spicy chiles, etc.. that can really ruin your day.

Have you ever hurt yourself while cooking????? Well that's a YES for me!!...And I want to be the first "cook" to write about my traumatizing experiences in the kitchen. It can be hurtful, but the worst part of all, is that your inner chef gets disappointed, at leats, just a little!! So, on my 2 years of cooking I've got not just a couple, but several battle wounds!..

First, a small burn in my poor little thumb with boiling caramel sauce... then, several knife cuts. I have to admit sometimes I can get easily distracted and get myself into a bad situation. But I have to say, BURNS are the worst, they hurt like hell and will leave you with a forever lasting gift.

The other day while I was cooking, I put a pan in the oven. When it was time to take it out, I properly did, making sure of course not to burn myself. I left it cooling down on the side, while I did some other important stuff, you know?? chop, chop, chop... when all of a sudden my head being somewhere else in never ever land, I felt like something was in my way. Without giving it a second thought, I just grabbed the pan to move it away and... Ohhhh MY God!!! I burnt my poor little hand!!!!! So please, please, make sure you are paying attention in the kitchen!! Don't be a day dreamer like me and get yourself into trouble!!

It's hard to believe how no one really takes the time to warn you from disastreous accidents around the kitchen. I mean, things like that are pretty obvious and basic stuff that you should avoid, right?. DO NOT touch hot pans just minutes out from the oven!! Please DO NOT stick your fingers into boiling liquids!!! or DO NOT and I mean DO NOT clean a chilli with your bear hands, as it might take all night for that awful burning sensation to disappear. But even if it is basic stuff, sometimes you need to be reminded of that, in order to be more careful and pay just a little bit more attention to what you are doing!!!

Have you had any bad experiences too??!!

Please share them with me so I won't feel as silly as I do NOW!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Brunch

For a cold morning like today with -10°C outside, you can never go wrong with french toast. I personally love the combination of sweet and savoury, so when it comes to sandwiched french toast I always have to drizzle them with a little bit of maple syrup. It's such a delight and a comfort to have them for breakfast!!!


Peppery Prosciutto French Toast


4 pieces of white bread (fresh from the store or homemade)
2 tbsp of finely chopped red onion
6 slices of prosciutto
60g of Gouda Cheese
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
salt and pepper
a knob of butter
Maple Syrup

In a hot pan sautee the onions until tender. Then cook the prosciutto until crisp. Spread the bases of the bread with the sauteed onion, top with the prosciutto and Gouda cheese and sandwich with the tops. Whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper and salt in a bowl. Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture and cook for 3 to 4 mins. on each side on a buttered pan until golden and the cheese is melted. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My version of "Spring Rolls"

In my first year of cooking I wanted to try almost everything. I had so much free time when I first got to Canada that I was able to try all kinds of things, but cooking was the one I enjoyed the most! As I started with the cooking thing, I wanted to become an open mind chef. I explored foods that were not very familiar to me, one of them being Thai food. Soon enough those little things called spring rolls became one of my favourites. After trying a couple of spring rolls recipes, I found THE ONE!.. and Now I am sharing it with you!!..

Spring Rolls
Yield: 6

Dipping Sauce:

3/4 cup water
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce or to taste
1/3 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen.... or cherries...

Spring Rolls:

1 cup of carrots, julienne
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 lb. white mushrooms, chopped
3 x scallions, finely sliced
4 cups finely sliced napa cabbage
1 cup of cooked rice noodles
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt and pepper


Dipping Sauce:

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients to a boil. Let simmer 2 to 3 minutes until the cranberries start to split. Strain if desire.

Spring Rolls
In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook the carrots in the oil until soft. Add mushrooms and scallions and cook until all the liquid in the skillet has evaporated. Add the cabbage and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the noodles, soy sauce and fish sauce. Transfer to a bowl and let it chill.
Preheat oven to 400F. Lay a sheet of phyllo paper on a flat surface. Brush oil and cover with another sheet. Brush again with oil and spoon 1/3 of the filling along one of the long sides. Roll into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 6 rolls. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake until crisp and brown, around 25 mins.

Discovering Donna Hay

After a cold walk on a Sunday afternoon and a couple of cooking books later, I ended up owning a copy of "Modern Classics" by Donna Hay. I've never heard of her before but as I was flipping the pages and looking at those amazing pictures, I knew, it was love at first sight. The pictures were so beautiful it felt like I could really smell the flavours. As I started reading the recipes, they looked really simple. In a matter of seconds I decided to take her book home with me.

I've been using it pretty much for my everyday cooking. I just love her style. So simple and yet so delicious. I guess the secret is on the ingredients, as long as you buy local, real food, results will be no less than perfection.
I loved her so much I felt the urge to go back to the bookstore. Now I own 3 of her books and can't wait to continue cooking her recipes.

Rocket & Blue Cheese Salad
Yield: 4


4 slices of crusty Italian bread
150g Arugula leaves
2 baby fennel sliced
8 cherry tomatoes
200g blue cheese
balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper


Grill or toast the bread until crisp. Arrange on plates with the Arugula, fennel, tomatoes and blue cheese. To serve, drizzle over a little vinegar and oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.