Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kale 'Chips'

Hello again!

I just wanted to share this little tid-bit of a recipe with you. It's nothing fancy, but they surprised me.

For a couple weeks now I have been hearing whispers about these 'Kale Chips'. That's right. Chips apparently made from kale. And I don't mean processed Kale. I mean Kale chopped and baked from your garden...

I had to try.

Kale Chips
Click here for recipe source

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 325F.

With scissors, cut the sides (the leafy part) of the Kale from the stem. You don't want any of the center stem included. Cut the leafy parts into bite-sized pieces (or a little bigger because they shrink in the oven) and put them in a bowl. Toss with a tiny drizzle of Olive Oil (about 1 TSP), Salt and whatever other seasonings you want (I did Paprika.)

Lay on a non-insulated baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in oven for 5-10 minutes until crisp but not burnt! (I burned my first batch because I was not watching close enough... luckily I still have a tone of Kale in the back yard!)

Remove them from the oven and let cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl and eat them! Eat them all! They are so addictive!

That being said... I will not pretend to think they are a good substitute for chips. Jesse won't be impressed if you give him these instead of some Ruffles... however for the ladies, it is a nice little 'munchy' snack.

Have a good long weekend!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Healthy (and Delicious!) Cookies

Dear Jess,

Words cannot express how much I long to see you. I feel like we have so much to catch up on and share with each other.

Today has been lovely. It has been a wonderfully sunny and breezy day. I have all my windows wide open and fresh air is seeping into my house. This inspired me to browse my cookbooks, and within one I found an intriguing recipe that I had to make to see if it was any good. The result: success!

I found this one in the Quinoa 365 The Everyday Super Food cookbook that my mom picked up for me from Costco. Well... truth be told... I'm not sure it was for me... but it has ended up in my kitchen... so I'm going with it!

On page 131 you will find a recipe for Healthy Cookies. The only part of this recipe I don't like happens to be the name. They should be called Energy Bites or something a little more attractive. I, however, did not write this book. And thank goodness too, because I never would have been able to think this puppy up! As you already know, Quinoa is full of so many good things (it's a full protein, and a big source of fibre etc etc) that to add even more good things to these cookies is just a bonus! I look forward to sending these in Jason's lunch. They promise to give him lots of energy for his laborious days.

Healthy Cookies
from Quinoa 365, page 131

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/3 cup flax (ground or whole seeds)
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 6 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a large baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

Cream the butter with the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oats, cooked quinoa, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax and sesame seeds to the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Combine with the butter mixture and stir until well mixed. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake on the center oven rack for 8-10 minutes, until the bottoms are light brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store the cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

My house smells so good right now from these little darlings. (That's right... I couldn't wait another moment before sharing it with you... the last tray is still cooling behind me.) So easy. So yummy. Such a good idea.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Sher Ping Pancakes

Dear Jess,

On Mondays I do the grocery shopping. So on Sundays I always ask Jason, 'What would you like to eat this week?' He then goes through some cookbooks and picks one or two things he would like to have. I then add a third 'new' thing that I would like to try to make.

This week I was craving Sher Ping Pancakes from Jamie's America. That's right. I'm back to Jamie. I missed him and his creative food genius. I have, in fact, made this once before when I first got this cookbook. Probably just over 2 years ago. I made them the day Jason asked me on our first 'official' date. I remember I had trouble with the dough and was interested to see if I could do better. Also: they are delicious. Jamie says:

'Sher ping translates as "pan-cooked filled pancake," and they are one of the best things I've eaten in ages. A lovely lady from the north of China taught me how to make them at her food counter in the Roosevelt Food Court. It sounds like a cheat to explain how to make these pancakes, but it's well worth mastering, because you can swap the pork for other delicious fillings like chicken or seafood.' - Jamie's America, page 49

If you make these (which I definitely think you should) keep in mind that you will need the whole afternoon. The dough has to sit for a couple hours, and then after stuffing them they need to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before you cook them.

I doubled this recipe and used whole wheat bread flour instead of white. (I know... risky... but it turned out so good!) I am going to try to freeze half of them and see how they turn out. (One single batch will make 8. A double makes 16.)

On last thing that is very important... I find you need way more water or less flour. You want your dough to be really stretchy. Whenever I do it exactly like the recipe it's always too dry.

Sher Ping Pancakes
from Jamie's America, Page 49

For the dough
3 1/4 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting (I used whole wheat bread flour)
scant 1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling
14oz ground pork, the best quality you can afford
a handful of finely grated white cabbage (No Frills didn't have any... so I used Savoy cabbage)
a small bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves and stalks finely chopped
a thumb-sized pieces of root ginger peeled and finely grated
4 scallions, trimmed and finely grated
sea salt
freshly ground Szechuan pepper (I used Cayenne pepper)

To serve
sweet chile or hot chile sauce
soy sauce
2 limes, cut into wedges

Make the dough by mixing the flour, water, vegetable oil, a bit of pepper, and a pinch of salt with a fork. Then use your hands to knead it until smooth and elastic. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for a couple of hours.

When you're ready to make your pancakes, mix all your filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your hands to really scrunch everything together, and season well with a good pinch of salt and Szechuan pepper.

Dust a clean surface with flour and cut the dough into 8. Divide your filling into 8 even piles. Oil a sheet pan and your hands. Pick up a piece of dough and create a patty like a mini pizza about 4 3/4 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. (I just do it as thin as I can while pretending I'm making a pizza with Dad's secret recipe dough.)

Take one of your piles of filling and pop it into the middle of the dough. Pat it flat with your fingers, then slowly stretch the edges of the dough out, folding them back in over the pork mixture. Do this all the way around and, once closed, press down on the stuffed pancake with your hand. It should be about 1 inch thick and 3 1/4 inches across. (mine were wider because I find it easier than doing it on the frying pan...)

Do the same with the other 7 pancakes, then lay them on your oiled sheet pan and put them into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or so. After that, get a large dry frying pan on a medium heat. Add a tiny drizzle of oil and lay each pancake, folded side down, in the pan. Gently push down on them with a spatula to flatten them slightly. Keep doing this until they're about 1/2 inch thick and about 4 inches wide. Be careful that the pan's not too hot, though, otherwise your pancakes will brown before they're properly cooked through.

After about 4 minutes you'll have a nice golden color happening, so turn the pancakes over, push them down lightly, and cook them for 4 minutes on the other side. Only push down once on this side. When they're golden and crisp, the meat will be perfectly cooked, but you can always break one open to check.

To serve, pour some chile sauce into one bowl and some soy sauce into another. Pop a few wedges of lime on the side for squeezing over, and dunk away in your sauces. These pancakes hit all the right spots!

So yummy!

I have so much to tell you about Spain! The trip was incredible (duh!) and I will post an entry all about the food we tried once I get all the pictures together! I have already tried to make a couple of them at home!

I love you and miss you. I hope we can get together soon.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Onion Soup and Homemade Croutons

Dear Sally,

I feel like I haven’t been in my own kitchen in ages and that is probably because I haven’t. As you know Jesse and I decided to refinish our hardwood floors and it is quite an undertaking. After spending more than a week at other people’s houses I have been dying to get back into my own kitchen. My happy place.
While is displacement Jesse and I took a stroll through an onion field on his street that had just been harvested. We could still smell the scent of fresh onion in the air. Walking through the field we picked up a few of the onions that the machines had left behind and would soon become fertilizer. I knew immediately what I wanted to make with them. Fresh French Onion Soup!

Today while working on my plans for the 2012-2013 school year I took a break to make this delicious soup. It is the simplest thing and yet so delicious and meaty without  the need for beef or chicken

I know you are having an amazing time in Spain. I can’t wait to hear all about the sights, the laughs and of course the food.


Onion Soup
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook


2 tbsp. Earth Balance (this is a vegan product I use instead of butter)
4 large yellow onions sliced thinly
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
a dash or two of thyme
4 cups water (or more if needed)


1.     Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and salt, and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.     Add mustard and thyme: stir and cover. Continue to cook very slowly about 35 more minutes. The onions will be exquisitely soft and simmering in their own liquid.
3.     Add water and more salt and pepper if needed. Simmer at least 10 minutes more. Serve topped with croutons and cheese.

Homemade Croutons


2-4 slices of bread or bun cut into cubes
1-2 tbsp melted butter
2-3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste


1.     Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.
2.     Add the bread cubes and salt and pepper. Stir to coat and toast.
3.     If needed you can toast the crutons further in the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes depending on the level of crunch you are looking for.