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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Spätzle   

    Daring Cooks 27th challenge: German Spätzle 

    Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with! Well, Steph had me at spätzle. I love the stuff. I hadn’t made it in ages, though I had bought it a couple of times pre-made. Again, this Daring Cooks challenge was a timely reminder of how quick and easy making pasta dough can be. As a bonus, I got to use the spätzle grater I bought eons ago, that has been dutifully sitting in the bottom of one of my kitchen drawers. I added some garlic salt and cayenne to the dough. My honey gave me a hand with the “grating”, and we served it with the suggested recipe for butter and bread crumb sauce. It accompanied a simple meal of bbq sliders. An unusual combination, perhaps, the result of a “OMG, the Daring Cooks challenge is due next week!” realization on Saturday morning. 😉 I had the leftovers the night after, heated up in a pan, with a bit of butter. Hmmm….

    German Spätzle


    2 large eggs
    ½ cup (120 ml) milk (any style of milk you what, but I believe buttermilk may be traditional. I’ve always used 1 or 2%.)
    1½ cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
    up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of herbs and spices (optional – I added some cayenne and herbes de provence)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3 gm) fresh parsley, chopped (optional – I added this for color mostly)


    1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and any herbs and spices that you want to incorporate into the spätzle.
    2. Incorporate the flour in small batches, by sifting in a small amount at a time and mixing until the flour is completely integrated. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes elastic, smooth and very hard to stir.
    3. Boil a large pot of water. Dip a table spoon into the boiling water to wet it. To form the spätzle, fill the tablespoon about half way with dough, and release into the boiling water.
    4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
    5. Drain the water from the spätzle. Because it’s full of fun craters where water can hide, you will need to drain it especially well. Toss with the chopped parsley.
    6. Plate, and dab a bit of the sauce on each spätzle. Don’t add too much – it’s really more of a light dressing than a sauce.

    Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce (for Spätzle):


    ½ cup (120 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) fresh breadcrumbs OR ½ cup (120 gm) (60 gm) (2 oz) dry breadcrumbs (either variety can be used)
    salt and pepper, to taste


    1. Melt the butter… this can be done in the microwave, or on the stove.
    2. Mix in the breadcrumbs. If needed, gently heat further (especially if you store breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer).
    3. Season to your taste
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on January 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cassoulet, duck   

    Daring Cooks 21st Challenge: Cassoulet 

    Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

    This dish is not for the faint of heart, as the amount of fat is astounding. But it definitely is tasty. I’ve made cassoulet a couple of times before, so was familiar with the multiple steps involved. I was also off this week, so, a good time to spend it cooking. Luckily, cassoulet freezes well, so I’ll have a taste of this hearty stew a few more times this winter.


    Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman (as featured on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”)
    Serves 4 – 8 (unless you’re Lisa Michele)

    Ingredients for Duck Confit

    4 whole duck legs (leg and thigh), size does not matter
    sea salt, for the overnight (at least 6-8 hours) dry rub (the amount varies depending on the size of your legs, so just know that you need to have enough on hand for a good coating.)
    2 cups/480 ml/450 gm/16 oz duck fat
    a healthy pinch or grind of black pepper
    4 sprigs of fresh thyme
    1 sprig of fresh rosemary
    1 garlic clove

    Day One

    1.Rub the duck legs fairly generously with sea salt, place in the shallow dish, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. At all times, keep your work area clean and your ingredients free of contamination – meaning don’t allow any other food, like bread crumbs or scraps, to get into your duck, duck fat or confit, as they will make an otherwise nearly non-perishable preparation suddenly perishable.

    Day Two

    1.Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375ºF/190ºC/gas mark 5.
    2.Render (melt) the duck fat in the saucepan until clear.
    3.After seasoning with the black pepper, place the duck legs in the clean, ovenproof casserole.
    4.Nestle the thyme, rosemary and garlic in with the duck legs, and pour the melted duck fat over the legs to just cover.
    5. Cover the dish with foil and put in the oven. Cook for about an hour, or until the skin at the “ankle” of each leg pulls away from the “knuckle.” The meat should be tender.
    6. Allow to cool and then store as is in the refrigerator, sealed under the fat. When you need the confit, you can either warm the whole dish, in which case removing the legs will be easy, or dig them out of the cold fat and scrape off the excess. I highly recommend the former. A nice touch at this point is to twist out the thighbone from the cold confit. Just place one hand on the drumstick, pinioning the leg to the table, and with the other hand, twist out the thighbone, plucking it from the flesh without mangling the thigh meat. Think of someone you hate when you do it.

    Ingredients for Cassoulet

    5 cups/1200 ml/1100 g/39 oz dried Tarbais beans or white beans such as Great Northern or Cannelini (if you use canned beans be aware that you will need double this amount!)
    2 pounds/900 gm fresh pork belly
    1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
    1 pound/450 gm pork rind
    1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme and one bay leaf)
    salt and pepper
    1/4 cup/60 ml/55 gm duck fat
    6 pork sausages
    3 onions, thinly sliced
    1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
    4 confit duck legs

    Day One

    1.Place the beans in the large bowl and cover with cold water so that there are at least 2 or 3 inches (50mm or 75mm) of water above the top of the beans. Soak overnight. That was hard, right?  (Beans will double in size upon soaking, so use a big bowl!)

    Day Two

    1. Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot.
    2. Add the pork belly, the quartered onion, 1/4 pound/115 gm of the pork rind, and the bouquet garni.
    3. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more.
    4. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni.
    5. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 2-inch/5-cm squares, and set aside. (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then.)
    6. Strain the beans and the rind and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately.
    7. In the sauté pan, heat all but 1 tablespoon/15 ml/15 gm of the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent.
    8. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides.
    9. Remove sausages and set aside, draining on paper towels.
    10. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic and the reserved squares of pork rind from the beans (not the unused pork rind; you’ll need that later).
    11. Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon//15 ml/15 gm of the remaining duck fat and purée until smooth. Set aside.
    12. Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4.
    13.Place the uncooked pork rind in the bottom of a deep ovenproof non-reactive dish. You’re looking to line the inside, almost like a pie crust. Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, then more beans, then pork belly, beans, duck confit and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion and pork rind purée between each layer.
    14. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 cup/240 ml in the refrigerator for later use.
    15. Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF/130ºC/gas mark ½ and cook for another hour.
    16. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.

    Day Three

    1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4 again.
    2. Cook the cassoulet for an hour.
    3. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add 1/4 cup/60 ml of the reserved cooking liquid. (Don’t get fancy. Just pile, dab, stack and pile. It doesn’t have to be pretty.)
    4. Reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF/130ºC/gas mark ½ and continue cooking another 15 minutes, or until screamingly hot through and through. Then serve.

    • lisamichele 11:24 pm on January 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic job on the cassoulet and confit! I wish I had frozen what I had left, I actually trashed it – no idea what I was thinking!! Thanks so much for taking part in our challenge!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on December 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: eggs benedict, poached eggs   

    Daring Cooks 20th Challenge: Poach to Perfection! 

    Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

    I was grateful for a simple technique and  choice of recipe for this challenge. It’s been a busy November, and I knew I could easily complete this one, while making one of my favorite breakfasts: eggs benedict. I am no stranger to poaching. While working in one of my part-time cooking gigs, I had to par-poach (no less) 300 eggs, in preparation for Mother’s Day brunch at a local country club. I used the huge soup kettle for this task, poaching a tray of 24 eggs at a time.  I’ll always remember trying to figure out which egg I had cracked first, as the eggs swirled in the simmering cauldron, to scoop it up as soon as the last egg of the tray hit the water. Quite a feat and a challenge. I cheated at the end of this challenge and used a powdered mix for the hollandaise. My timing was a little off in putting everything together in the end, but we both cleaned our plates nonetheless. 🙂

    Eggs Benedict

    Serves 4


    4 eggs (size is your choice)
    2 English muffins*
    4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
    Chives, for garnish
    Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

    For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
    3 large egg yolks
    1 tsp. (5 ml) water
    ¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
    12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces º
    ½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
    2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

    • for gluten free, use gluten free English muffins or bread of your choice

    º for dairy free, use a dairy free margarine


    1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

    2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.

    3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.

    4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.

    5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.

    6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).

    7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.

    8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.

    9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.

    10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.

    11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.

    12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: donoughts, donuts,   

    Daring Bakers 44th Challenge: Mmmmm…doughnuts! 

    The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. Doughnuts!? Oh yeah! Also a proud canuck, I knew where this host was coming from. Tim Horton’s is more than a doughnut shop, it’s an institution in this country. Hun and I often have our Saturday breakfast there, and no matter the location, it’s always busy with a spectrum of people.

    I’ve always wanted to make donuts, but for some reason, was a little worried. Not sure why. Especially after doing this challenge. I was on my way home from holidays when I looked at this month’s challenge and emailed Hun right away. Glee, all around! The debate about what we would stuff in some of them started in Orlando, and continued while I waited for my connection in Houston airport. We’ve been playing with mini snickers stuffed in wonton wraps or funnel cake batter and fried, and doughnuts seemed the next natural step.

    For good measure, I tried both recipe. I was pleased to see (or taste) how less sweet homemade doughnuts can be.  The recipes suggested were straightforward. We fried the doughnuts outside on the bbq burner. Cooking time was quite less than the one suggested. Also, we found that 375F was too hot, cooking the outside before the inside was properly done. Reducing the heat to 350F fixed that. We tried a couple of glazes (white and chocolate) found on the web, but we’ll need to revisit those. Too watery and didn’t coat very well. The snickers stuffed doughnuts, done with the yeast recipe, worked well enough, though I’ll have to use more dough next time, to make sure the dough really rises around and covers the half mini-snickers piece well, as we ended up with some chocolate canola oil.

    All in all, a great challenge. We came out with four dozen donuts (not including the holes). Thankfully, these freeze well. 🙂 Looking forward to making some fresh ones at Christmas time, when my mother visits. She adores them — as a treat, of course.

    Yeast Doughnuts:

    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
    Rising time – 1.5 hours total
    Cooking time – 12 minutes

    Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
    Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
    Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
    Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
    Eggs, Large, beaten 2
    White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
    Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
    Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
    All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
    Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)


    1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
    2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
    3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
    4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
    5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
    6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
    7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
    8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
    9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
    10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
    11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
    12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

    Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:

    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
    Cooking time – 12 minutes

    Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Sour Cream ¼ cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz
    All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
    White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
    Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
    Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
    Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
    Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
    Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
    Egg, Large 1
    Egg Yolk, Large 2
    Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
    Powdered (Icing) Sugar ¼ cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)


    1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.
    2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
    3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
    4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
    5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
    6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
    7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.

    Sift powdered sugar over doughnuts and serve.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pierogis, smoked salmon   

    Daring Cooks 16th Challenge: Pierogis 

    The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

    So, this month I got the privilege of co-hosting the Daring Cooks Challenge. I agreed to do this way back late last year. I chose pierogis after Hun gave me the recipe his mother used to make pierogis. His sister Sara then gave us a copy of the The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes. I thought this would make a nice versatile challenge, easy on the pocketbook. The additional challenge for our cooks was to come up with a fillings that reflected their locale. I was very lucky to have been teamed with Anula. Turns out Anula is Polish and an old hand at pierogis. She and her husband, who turns out to be a professional chef, provided wonderful pictures to illustrate the challenge for the Cooks. Thanks Anula!

    The fillings that came out of this challenge were amazing. Everything from sweet potato to mexican style to various fruit and seafood and haggis! For mine, I settled on a typical Northwest Coast ingredient: smoked salmon. I made a mash of smoked salmon bits, capers, red onions, dill and lemon rind. Added a bit of whipping cream to smooth everything out. I served it with a lemon and dill white wine sauce. Not bad at all. I bought some pierogi moulds to make a better seal. Never had a very consistent result when doing these by hand.

    Drop by The Daring Kitchen to see pictures of everyone’s pierogis.


    Equipment list

    • Measuring cups/spoons
    • Scale
    • Knives, utensils
    • Bowls to mix ingredients
    • Pans, pots to cook fillings and pierogi
    • Pierogi forms (really not necessary, you can get them easily in Polish or ethnic shops, they are very(!) cheap and handy too) if you don’t have these forms don’t worry! your hands and a fork will do.

    Cottage Cheese Wareneki (pierogi)

    ½ cup (125 ml) milk (can be whole milk, 2% or skim milk)
    ½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
    3 large egg whites
    1 tsp (5 ml) salt
    3 cups (450 gm) all-purpose flour

    1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough. (I kneaded this dough quite a bit, and it yielded a nice, pliable dough).
    2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8” or about 3 millimeters), cut into 2” (5 cm) squares, and fill with 1 tsp (5ml) cottage cheese filling (see below).

    1 lb (455 g) dry cottage cheese (this is usually found beside the “wet” cottage cheese in the supermarket’s dairy aisle. If you can’t find it, please see below for how to proceed with the “wet” cottage cheese.)
    3 large egg yolks
    Salt to taste

    1. Mix well all the ingredients for the filling.
    2. Put 1 rounded teaspoon (5 ml) of the filling in each square, fold corners to form a triangle, seal edges well using your fingers or a fork
    3. Cook in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.

    Boiled pierogi can also be fried after boiling for a nice crunchy dumpling.

    If you can’t find dry cottage cheese, simply drain normal cottage cheese by nesting the cottage  in a few layers of cheese cloth or a fine sieve over a bowl.

    Adapted from The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes

    • You can very easy make a sweet version of Warenki – just add some fruits and sugar to the cheese filling and mix well together (strawberries or blueberries are great idea!).

    Russian style pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
    (Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula’s family recipe)

    2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
    About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

    3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
    1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
    1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
    3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
    1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
    1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
    1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
    pinch of pepper to taste

    1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

    2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

    3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi – this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

    4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

    5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried.  Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

    Gluten-free pierogi recipe (from Recipezaar)

    Other types of fillings:

    Potato and cheese
    4 – 5 boiled potatoes
    4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml)
    50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) milk
    1 egg white (from medium egg)
    about 120 ml (½ cup) farmers’ cheese (any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer)
    salt and pepper

    Meat and cabbage
    200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely)
    500 g white cabbage (chopped and simmered in a little bit of water, until soft)
    1 onion (diced and fried)
    1 whole medium egg
    1 tablespoon (15g) butter
    dry breadcrumbs (add as much to hold the filling together, about 2 tablespoons)
    salt and pepper

    Soy bean filling
    350 g soy beans (canned, drained and minced)
    2 medium eggs
    1 onion (diced and fired)
    100 g (2/3 cup) dry breadcrumbs
    salt and pepper

    Sauerkraut filling
    2 cups (500 g)  sauerkraut
    1 big carrot, grated
    1 shallot, chopped and fried with a tablespoon of butter
    few (about 3) wild mushrooms (I used dry ones, you can use fresh but chop them and fry on some butter before adding to the sauerkraut cabbage)
    salt, pepper and cumin

    • Saute all the ingredients together until soft, cool before filling pierogi.

    You can also fill pierogi with whole seasonal fruits for example- strawberries, blueberries, morels, grated apples etc. To prevent the fruits from ‘sogging’ just add a little bit of potato flour inside with the fruit and sweeten them after the boiling on the plate rather than putting sugar inside.

    A little visual help:
    Video: How to make varenyky / pierogi (Youtube)
    Video: How to make pierogi (About.com)

    • sarah 5:27 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic challenge, thanks Liz! I really enjoyed making the little dumplings. I tried using a whole wheat dough, which was delicious, though maybe a bit hard to roll out thinly. Thanks for hosting this month!

    • Shelley 5:55 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for choosing such an awesome challenge. I love pierogis and had a blast coming up with something fun to fill mine with. This was really a great challenge. Thank you!!!

    • Ruth H. 6:18 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for such a great challenge! I love the creativity you inspired, and it was a lot of fun to re-familiarize myself with a favorite dish!!

    • Mary 7:01 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This was a great challenge, Liz. Thank you! I think I’ll be making these again in the future.

    • Lindsay 7:37 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Liz! Thanks so much for a great challenge — the boyfriend has declared this a repeat recipe, so it will definitely be made again and again here!

      Thanks for all your work to challenge and educate us!

    • chef_d 9:17 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for co-hosting this month’s challenge. Your pierogis look yummy!

    • Heather Mulholland 1:12 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Liz for co-hosting this months challenge 🙂

    • Debbie 3:37 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for hosting this months challenge! That was what I would have chosen if ever asked to host a challenge, so I think you made a perfect choice. Great Job!

    • Chantel 8:15 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great challenge! Thanks!

    • tariqata 6:36 am on August 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for the challenge! I had a great time, and I’ll definitely make them again!

    • Valérie 4:48 pm on August 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for this challenge! It was a great idea, and lots of fun! Great job as hostess!

    • lisamichele 3:08 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Liz, thanks so much for a great challenge! Loved it and ate way too may of them LOL Beautiful job on your pierogis!

    • Margie 7:08 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh my goodness, your smoked salmon pierogis were a great idea and look amazing! I gotta get me one of those pierogi molds. Thanks so much for co-hosting such a wonderful challenge. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch today!

    • Suz 9:14 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for introducing me to pierogi. I think I’m hooked! Mmm, and your smoked salmon pierogi look divine.

      Great challenge!

    • Monkeyshines in the Kitchen 5:23 pm on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for hosting a great challenge Liz! We very much enjoyed the opportunity to make something new to us. Your local salmon and caper pierogi sound delicious too – it’s been a blast seeing how everyone has localized this versatile dish.

    • Kelly @ It's a Food Life 8:03 pm on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for a great challenge. I am so glad that I now know how to make perogies!

    • cuppy 3:48 pm on August 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I have had a great time making pierogi, and it’s the sort of thing that adds perfectly to my meal plan. Thank you for sharing your recipes and hosting this month’s challenge!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bacon, butter, pecan, salad, spinach   

    Daring Cooks 15th Challenge: Nut Butters – Warm bacon and pecan butter dressing on a chicken spinach salad 

    The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

    Another challenge squeezed in the nick of time! Although I pureed my butter almost as soon as the challenge hit the wire, I didin’t use it until tonight. To be honest, though the recipe was left up to us, it had to be a savoury one. Took me a while to settle on one and ended up with a warm bacon/pecan butter dressing on a chicken spinach salad. A good choice, I thought, for a warm, but hot Summer night. Just mixed some hot bacon fat, white wine vinegar and pecan nut butter in hot pan, cooked it a bit and drizzled it over a bed of spinach, cooked chicken and bacon. Not bad at all. Next time, though, I’m going to add a few drops (!) of bourbon. Just to keep it southern and give it an extra kick. 🙂

    • Audax Artifex 4:20 am on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      OMG that is an inspired flavour profile and the photo looks so enticing well done on the challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • pixeltheatre 4:00 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Audax. Much appreciated.

    • Kelly 9:42 am on July 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      That salad looks wonderful!

    • cuppy 9:31 pm on July 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Haha! I LOVE the idea of bacon and bourbon on a salad! 😀 I can’t wait to see what you guys have for us tomorrow. ^_^

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on March 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Risotto   

    Daring Cooks 11th Challenge: Risotto 

    The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

    I was glad to see this challenge. For one, I love risotto, and two, I have made it many times. So, perhaps not so much of a challenge for me, but I was grateful for a familiar challenge. February had been nuts with the Olympics in town — which is why I never got around to the Daring Bakers’ challenge of tiramisu — and March kicked off with my oven going on the fritz. My new one should be hooked up Sunday (today). Eleanor and Jess added a component to this challenge by requiring we also make the stock to be used in the risotto. Gosh darn, wouldn’t you believe I had some homemade already frozen. So, I spent a relaxing 45 minutes on Thursday night completing this challenge. I paired the rice with some left over General Tao chicken. A nice fusion of italian and chinese. I used a prosecco wine for my first liquid laddle. Hmmm…Hmmmm….


    Preparation time:
    Stock: 20 minutes prep time, 3 hours cooking.
    Pumpkin Risotto: 10 minutes prep time, 20-30 minutes cooking. ,
    Lemon Risotto: 10 minutes prep time, 20-30 minutes cooking.

    Equipment required:
    • 5 Litre stock pot, or other large pan
    • knife
    • chopping board
    • tablespoon
    • teaspoon
    • sieve
    • ladle
    • hand blender (optional)
    • wooden spoon or other stirring implement
    • grater
    • saucepans
    • measuring cups
    • scales

    Chicken Stock

    1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
    chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
    2 onions, roughly diced
    1 medium leek – white part only, roughly diced
    2 sticks celery, roughly diced
    2 cloves garlic, halved
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
    2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter.)
    peel of 1/2 lemon
    1/4 tsp. allspice


    1. Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
    2. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
    3. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
    4. Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
    5. Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
    6. Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
    7. Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don’t need for later use.

    Risotto Base

    Ingredients:olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
    1 small onion, quateredrice 14 oz 400g
    Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
    white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
    chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L


    1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
    2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
    3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
    4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don’t actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
    5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
    6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
    7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
    8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , oreos, pho, snickers, , wonton   

    Daring Cooks 6th Challenge: Chicken Pho 

    The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. A perfect recipe for Fall, this vietnamese staple was a welcome challenge. You can’t go wrong with soup at this time of the year. I had pho once before in a local restaurant and had made a mental note to return once the weather would turn to our typical northwestern rainy season. I’m glad to now have a straightforward recipe I can do at home. One  small change I would do, however, is a little less fish sauce. Aside from that, it was a great recipe.

    We had an optional challenge this month involving dessert wontons. The filling was left to our imagination. I chose “flavours of summer”. We had tried deep fried oreos, jelly beans and mars bars at the last PNE. The jelly beans and Mars TM bar weren’t very good, but the Oreos TM had definite potential. We had also had a deep fried Snickers TM before and quite liked it. So, our fillings for this challenge was a frozen mini Snickers and crushed Oreos. Well, the deep fried wonton, I think, proved an even better cover than the traditional funnel cake batter. We’ll be testing other similar fillings (hum…Reeses’ peanut butter cup…) in the chilly months to come. Thanks for a great pair of challenges!

    Chicken Pho

    Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

    Servings: Makes 4 servings


    For the Chicken Pho Broth:
    2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
    4 whole cloves
    2 whole star anise
    2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
    1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
    ½ onion
    1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
    1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
    1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

    1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


    2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
    Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
    ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
    ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
    Sriracha chili sauce
    Hoisin sauce
    Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


    1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
    2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
    4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
    5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
    6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
    7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
    8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

    Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons


    • Small bowl
    • Pastry brush
    • Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
    • Wok or medium-sized pot
    • Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)

    Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)

    Servings: Makes 12 wontons.


    1 large egg
    1 tbsp. water
    12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
    12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
    High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
    Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling


    1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
    2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
    3. Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
    4. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
    5. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
    6. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
    7. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
    8. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
    9. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
    10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.

    • Frenchie 3:32 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful job! The fried oreo wontons sound unbelievable.

    • Heather B 3:54 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! I love your wontons!

    • Olive 7:55 am on October 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      great job with the challenges, love your wontons! 🙂

    • Lauren 3:02 pm on October 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Everything looks amazing =D.

    • lisamichele 1:03 am on October 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your Pho is fantastic, but those oreo wontons have stolen my palate completely..and i love the presentation! A must try for me 🙂 Well done all around!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dosa, Indian, , vegan   

    Daring Cooks 5th Challenge: Indian Dosas 

    This month’s challenge was hosted by Debyi, of the The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She chose a dish I recently discovered, the dosa. Dosas are crispy indian crepes, traditionally made of lentils and rice, stuffed with a savoury filling. Thanks to an important East Indian population in Vancouver, there is a fair amount of restaurants offering this dish. My mouth fell open the first time I saw one of those. They look huge, extending well beyond the plate. The filling however is usually just in the middle of it. We had our choice of filling for this challenge, so long as it remained vegan. I stayed with the one Debyi suggested, a curried garbanzo filling, accompanied by a coconut curry sauce. The pancake batter introduced me to a new ingredient: almond milk. Didn’t even know that existed and managed to find some in my favorite baking supplies store, Famous Foods. What don’t they carry?… The results were very flavourful and healthy. Very nice recipe. Thanks for the challenge!

    Indian Dosas
    This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take awhile to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if need be. You can serve them as a main course with rice and veggies, or as an appetizer. This does take a little planning ahead, so make sure you read the recipe through before starting (I forgot & didn’t start making the rice until everything was ready, oops).

    Serves 4

    Equipment needed:
    large bowl
    griddle or skillet
    ladle (or large spoon)
    vegetable peeler &/or knife
    large saucepan
    food processor or bean masher

    Dosa Pancakes
    1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
    ½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
    ¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
    cooking spray, if needed

    Dosa Filling
    1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated

    Dosa Toppings
    1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
    ¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
    ¼ cucumber, sliced

    Dosa Pancakes
    1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
    2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
    3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

    Curried Garbanzo Filling
    This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don’t be afraid to make a full batch.

    5 cloves garlic
    1 onion, peeled and finely diced
    1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
    1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
    2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
    2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
    1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
    1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
    1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
    4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
    ½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

    1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
    2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

    Coconut Curry Sauce
    This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same though. My picture of this sauce is one that I had made, had to freeze, then thaw to use. It tastes great, but the texture is a little runnier, not quite as thick as it was before freezing.

    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    ½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
    ¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
    3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
    3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
    3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
    2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
    3 large tomatoes, diced

    1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
    2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
    3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
    4.Let it simmer for half an hour.

    • Simon 4:49 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I was new to almont milk as well. Don’t know if I’ll ever use it again but it was interesting while I did.

    • Lauren 7:25 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      my husband drinks almond milk because he is lactose intolerant. he loves it! —the recipe looks fantastic!

    • Mary 2:28 pm on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your dosas look beautiful. I hope you enjoyed them. I loved the challenge but thought it was a lot of work.

    • Lauren 3:08 pm on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed the challenge!! Your dosas look amazing =D. I love almond milk, and have it from time to time as a treat (especially the vanilla kind =D)

    • Heather B 6:08 pm on September 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job on your dosas! They came out perfectly!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: allioli cuttlefish, paella, rice   

    Daring Cooks 4th Challenge: Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes 

    Our hostess for this month’s challenge was Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes. The recipe was a Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés. The recipe was from his US TV show Made in Spain.  I had never cooked cuttlefish before, but since I love calimari, I was more than up for this challenge.

    I had paella once before, made by a Spanish friend of mine, a long time ago. I remembered it as a spicy and homey dish. Unfortunately, I confess I found this particular version of paella, well, bland. 😦 (sorry, Olga…)

    I did use all the ingredients listed and used fresh artichokes, but there was definitely a need for some spices. I couldn’t find the real paella rice but, after reading around the web, settled on sushi rice. Seems to have worked ok. I made the allioli the traditional way, but I’m not sure I got it quite right, especially after reading Mark Bitten’s latest post on this key catalan ingredient. All in all, and interesting foray into spanish cuisine but next time I’ll definitely be throwing in a healthy dose of spicy chorizo.

    Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
    Cooking time: 45 minutes

    • 1 Chopping Board
    • 1 knife
    • 1 medium saucepan
    • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
    • 1 Saucepan

    Ingredients (serves 4):

    • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
    • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
    • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
    • 1 glass of white wine
    • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
    • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
    • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
    • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
    • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
    • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional


    1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
    2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
    3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
    4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
    5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
    6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
    7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
    8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
    9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
    10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
    11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
    12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
    13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

    Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

    Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour


    • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
    • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 small onions, chopped
    • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
    • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • Salt
    • Touch of ground cumin
    • Touch of dried oregano


    1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
    2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

    Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

    Allioli (Traditional recipe)
    Cooking time: 20 min aprox.

    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
    • Pinch of salt
    • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
    • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


    1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
    2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
    3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
    4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
    5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
    6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

    José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

    Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)

    Cooking time: 3-4 minutes

    • 1 small egg
    • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
    • Salt to taste


    1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
    2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
    3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
    4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
    5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
    6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
    7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
    8. Add salt to taste.

    José’s tips for modern recipe:
    (1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
    (2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

    Olga’s Tips:
    (1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
    (2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
    (3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
    (4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
    (5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
    (6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
    (7) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
    (8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
    (9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
    (10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

    • climbhighak 1:49 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the Bittman link. His perspective is usally very informed.

    • Lauren 3:54 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this dish very much. However, the fact that you know exactly how you’re going to modify it shows such spirit =D. Wonderful job with the challenge, regardless of the outcome!

    • Simon 10:30 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Blandness seems to be a common thread for a number of posts I’ve been reading about the challenge. I thought it was just me until I started reading around. I put chorizo into mine (only because I had half of one lying around).

      Was there no final shot of the dish?

    • Audax Artifex 11:48 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry to hear it wasn’t spicy enough mine was very good though I added spicy chorizo with the very strong fish stock. I liked the pix in the forums you didn’t post them in this post??? Cheers from Audax in Australia

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