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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on June 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , pavlovas   

    Daring Bakers 30th Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse 

    The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. I nearly missed this one. I totally forgot to check the new challenge after it went live on June 1st. I clued in mid-month and got busy. I’m glad I got to make the mascarpone cheese from scratch, since I missed the Tiramisu challenge. A tub goes for $8 in the store. Quite the markup for curdled cream…:)  It took a little longer than expected, and I may have over cooked it a bit, but it all came together fine in the end. I spread this challenge over a couple of nights. I did not have any Grand Marnier or Sambucca, so used Limoncello and Crème de cacao instead. Despite the copious amounts of cream present in each component, the taste was quite light and not too rich. Time consuming dessert, for sure, but I can see the mousse in crepes down the road, and the mascarpone cream as a nice dressing for many types of desserts, from fresh fruit, to tarts and tortes. Very nice challenge.

    Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

    Mandatory items: The recipe is comprised of three parts, four if you include the crème anglaise. You must make the chocolate pavlovas, the mascarpone mousse and the mascarpone cream using the recipes provided.

    Variations allowed:

    • You can use orange juice for the Grand Marnier in the mousse if you don’t use alcohol
    • You can omit the sambuca from the mascarpone cream.
    • You may substitute any crème anglaise recipe you might already have in your arsenal.

    Preparation time: The recipe can be made in one day although there are several steps involved.

    • While the pavlovas are baking, the crème anglaise should be made which will take about 15 minutes.
    • While it is cooling, the chocolate mascarpone mousse can be made which will take about 15 minutes.
    • There will be a bit of a wait time for the mascarpone cream because of the cooling time for the Crème Anglaise.
    • If you make the Crème Anglaise the day before, the dessert should take about 2 hours including cooking time for the pavlovas.

    Equipment required:
    • Baking sheet(s) with parchment or silpat
    • Several bowls
    • Piping bag with pastry tip
    • Hand or stand mixer

    Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):

    3 large egg whites
    ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
    ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
    1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder


    1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
    2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
    3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
    4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)
    5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

    Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):

    1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
    grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
    9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
    1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
    pinch of nutmeg
    2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)


    1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
    2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
    3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

    Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):

    1 recipe crème anglaise
    ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
    2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
    ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream


    1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

    Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

    1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
    1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
    1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    6 large egg yolks
    6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar


    1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
    2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
    3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
    4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

    Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on May 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chile, enchiladas   

    Daring Cooks 13th Challenge: Stacked green chile and grilled chicken enchiladas 

    Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on http://www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. Grilled chicken, melted cheese and spicy salsa, how can you go wrong. I was on this challenge in no time. Hun did the grilling and I assembled the salsa and final dish. We couldn’t find any Anaheim chiles, so used Poblanos instead, spiked with a few jalapenos.  It packed a kick in the end, but what’s Tex-Mex without some heat. Great recipe!

    Stacked green chile and grilled chicken enchiladas

    Preparation time: Below are the approximate prep times for each step of the process. The sauce is the most time-intensive, but it can be made ahead and several of the steps can be done simultaneously. See additional information below for more preparation times and tips.

    Roasting/preparing chiles and tomatillos: 30 – 60 min.
    Assembling/simmering enchilada sauce: 30 min.
    Grill chicken: 10 – 15 min.
    Assembly/ baking enchilada stacks: 30 min.

    Equipment required:
    • Grill, broiler, or gas stove to roast Anaheim chiles
    • Grill, broiler, or saucepan to cook tomatillos
    • Bowl and plastic wrap to cover the bowl or a paper bag to steam Anaheim chiles
    • Blender or food processor to puree tomatillos (or very finely chop)
    • Small frying pan (for frying tortillas)
    • Baking dish – either one large (10×15 inch) or individual gratin dishes
    • Cheese grater
    • Knives for cutting chicken and roasted chiles
    • Spoons for stirring sauce
    • Tongs are helpful for turning chiles as they roast, chicken as it grills and tortillas as they fry


    1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams – roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Other green chiles (NOT bell peppers) could probably be substituted but be conscious of heat and size!)
    7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)212 grams – peel, remove stems
    4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams)
    1 clove Garlic, minced
    2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    ½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
    ¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
    2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
    Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
    2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
    3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
    Kosher salt and pepper
    12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
    6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
    Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional


    Roasting Fresh Chiles

    1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
    2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
    3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
    4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.
    5. DO NOT RINSE!

    Green Chile Sauce

    1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
    2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
    3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
    4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
    6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

    Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

    1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
    3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
    4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
    5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
    6. Drain on paper towels.
    7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
    8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
    9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
    10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
    11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
    12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
    13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
    14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

    • Olive 5:30 pm on May 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I love this month’s DC challenge too.. your enchiladas looks so yummy! 🙂

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: english pudding, suet   

    Daring Bakers’ 28th Challenge: English Pudding 

    The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I had heard of English pudding before, but never had it. The beef suet was interesting, so I decided to try to use it. I found it fairly easily, in frozen pellet form, at Famous Foods. The recipe was pretty straightforward. I didn’t have any self-rising flour, so I added some baking powder, as suggested. I don’t think I used enough, though, as the top lid did not rise much. I went with a bacon and leek filling. I steamed it for an hour and a half. The result was interesting. The beef suet definitely has a distintive taste. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I liked it. But it was interesting nonetheless.  As a good challenge should be. I still have some suet left and will try this recipe again, but baled instead of steamed.

    English Pudding

    Preparation time: Preparation time is 5 to 20 minutes depending on the filling. Cooking time is 1 to 5 hours so do this on a day you have jobs around the house to do or are popping in and out as you need to occasionally check the pan hasn’t boiled dry! However it is otherwise a very low time requirement dish.

    Equipment required:
    • 2 pint (1 litre) pudding bowl or steam-able containers to contain a similar amount they should be higher rather than wide and low
    Traditional pudding bowl so you know what is normally used.

    • Steamer or large pan, ideally with a steaming stand, upturned plate or crumpled up piece of kitchen foil
    • Mixing bowl
    • Spoon
    • Measuring cups or scales
    • Foil or grease proof paper to cover the bowl
    • String

    Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.

    Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


    (250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
    (175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
    (a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
    (210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

    1. Mix the flour and suet together.
    2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
    3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.
    4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
    5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
    6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
    7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
    8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
    9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

    This sort of pastry can also be used as a topping for a baked meat pie and becomes quite a light crusty pastry when baked.

    Bacon and Leek filling

    8 slices of bacon, chopped and cooked
    3 small leeks, finely chopped and cooked
    enough chicken broth to soak the filling
    salt and pepper to taste
    dash of smoked paprika.

    • Audax Artifex 12:52 am on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      WOW that does look like a wonderful photo (I only saw it for a moment then flickr shut down LOL) well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Elra 4:16 pm on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I am not sure why, but I can not see your photographs. I can only imagine, must be superb.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , stew   

    Daring Cooks 12th Challenge: Brunswick stew 

    The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club. I can’t say I’m too fond of stews, but when I saw that the first ingredient was a 1/4 lb of bacon, I was in! ;0

    The history of this stew, as explained by Wolf:

    Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact.

    However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned. The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more.

    Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia.

    In the early 20th Cent, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipe call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.”

    However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”

    I did version one of this recipe. I substituted pork ribs for the rabbit, used lima and kidney beans, since I couldn’t find any butter beans and used store-bought chicken broth. I also needed more than the 4 cups of broth stated in the recipe. It just wasn’t enough to submerge the potatoes and everything else for simmering. I used closer to 6 cups in the end. I was going to do this recipe on a Tuesday night, to have the next day, but then decided to use a quiet Easter Monday afternoon at home instead. I’m glad I did, as it pretty much took all afternoon and part of the early evening. But the work was definitely worth it. It was one of the best stews I’ve ever had. It doesn’t have the customary dark sauce you would expect, but a very nice, spicy (I left the seeds in of one of the serrano peppers) thick creamy broth. And your spoon really does stand in your bowl, for all the goodness it contains. Very nice recipe. Thanks Wolf!

    Brunswick Stew

    Prep Time-

    Recipe 1- Estimated time-3-4 hours, longer if making the Sunday Chicken Broth, or your own stock from scratch
    Recipe 2- Estimated Time- 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on whether you have your meats already cooked first.

    Equipment needed-
    Large stock pot, at least 10-12qt OR Dutch Oven , or smaller if you halve the recipe used
    Cutting board
    Measuring cups and spoons
    Large bowl
    Large wooden spoon for stirring


    Recipe One, the Long Way-
    From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

    Serves about 12

    1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
    2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
    1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
    1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
    2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
    2 Bay leaves
    2 large celery stalks
    2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
    1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
    3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
    2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
    3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
    1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
    ¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
    Juice of 2 lemons
    Tabasco sauce to taste

    Recipe 1-1-In the largest stockpot you have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

    2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

    3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

    4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

    5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

    6- You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.

    Recipe Two, The Short Way-
    This version goes on the assumption that you already have cooked your meats and have broth on hand. This was also my first experience with eating Brunswick stew. It’s got more of a tomato base, has larger, chunkier vegetables, but is just as wonderful as recipe one. However, it is a lot quicker to make than the first recipe.

    Brunswick Stew recipe from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.

    Serves about 10

    2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth – yes, all three meats
    3 medium diced potatoes
    2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
    2 medium diced onions
    3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
    1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
    4-5 strips crumbled bacon
    ½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
    Dash of red pepper
    2 diced carrots (optional)
    Tomato juice


    Recipe2- In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

  • 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 November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: sushi   

    Daring Cooks 7th Challenge: 寿司 

    Sushi rollThe November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. This was a nice throwback for me. When I first moved to Vancouver 12 years ago, I fell in love with sushi. Not a difficult thing to do in a city that sells it on practically every corner, including the grocery store (with full sushi stations) and gas stations. In fact, the first course I ever took in Vancouver at the VSB was sushi making. I still remember standing in that high school hall, one early Saturday morning, waiting for Ron Suzuki, our instructor, to show up with all his paraphenelia, for my sushi making class. In that one day class, I learned about the ingredients used, the techniques, the history and where to shop for those ingredients. I bought my bamboo mat and made sushi at home a couple of times. But it had been years since I had done it from scratch. With Fujiya a few blocks away, there was no need, really.

    Still, I welcomed this challenge to try these recipes. It involved four parts:

    Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
    Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling (broiled eel and japanese cucumber)
    Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut (medley of japanese cucumber, carrots, broccoli, radish sprouts and avocado)
    Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings (raw and seared tuna and salmon)

    Again, thanks to Fujiya, which not only sells fresh sushi, but is also a fully stocked Japanese grocery store, finding all these ingredients was a snap. The recipe for the rice also proved to be perfect. Mind you, my hands were numbingly cold by the time I finished rinsing the rice, but I’m sure it must have contributed to the success of it. 🙂

    PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)4094807696_2dc6ef0c94_m

    Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
    Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
    Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
    Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
    Finishing the rice: 15 minutes


    • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
    • 2½ cups water
    • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

    Optional Ingredients

    • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
    • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

    Sushi vinegar dressing

    • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
    • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
    • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

    Rinsing and draining the rice

    1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
    2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

    4094043915_13c291c919_mSoaking the rice

    1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminium foil to make the seal tight).
    2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu.
    3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

    Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

    1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
    2. Heat on low setting.
    3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
    4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

    Cooking the rice

    1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
    2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
    3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
    4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

    Finishing the rice

    • Turning out the rice4094045059_8b4aeca39b_m


    1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
    2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
    3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

    • Dressing the rice with vinegar


    1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
    2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
    3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

    • Fanning & Tossing the rice


    1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavour, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
    2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

    • Keeping the rice moist


    1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

    4094046691_94eddf6dc9_m* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

    Though I was shocked to see the amount of rice it produced, I was equally shocked to see we nearly used all of it for these recipes. Hun and I dined well that evening, the meal finished with November’s Daring Bakers Challenge (come back on November 27th for the reveal). The bonus was that this was the first Daring Cooks Challenge we didn’t have to worry about our dinner getting cold while we took pictures of it. 🙂

    Snaps, courtesy of Hun (while I dealt with sticky, rice-covered fingers, building the various rolls. 🙂 )




    • Lauren 1:00 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks amazing, I chickened out of using the sushi grade fish, just not my sort of thing!

      I also had problems with taking photos and making the sushi at the same time. Got myself into quite a mess, but it all turned out fine in the end!

    • Audax Artifex 3:23 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      That spiral roll looks like a rare jewell so shiny and gleaming with dewy class. Your sushi rolls are wonderful well done you don’t seem to have lost any for your sushi-making skills. I love how you seared the nigiri topings. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

    • chef_d 9:37 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great looking sushi!

    • Jenny 10:55 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks great! I wish I also had access to a Japanese grocery store with all the “correct” stuff (here in Sweden we just have to wing it sometimes). Congrats on a challenge well done!

    • Lauren 2:11 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Stunning sushi Liz! The flavours look delicious =D. Fabulous job on this challenge!

    • Amy I. 2:35 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks beautiful! I’m also thrilled to hear that there are great sushi-making resources in Vancouver (although I’m not at ALL surprised), as we’re seriously considering moving there next year. Cheers!

    • Frenchie 6:41 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I love the seared tuna nigiri, I wish I had the right fish for this challenge, although I still loved how mine turned out. You did a great job, I think I could learn a thing or two from you. Your pictures are beautiful too.

    • suzon 3:12 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Spectacular. Your sushis are.

    • lisamichele 6:19 am on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I echo Aud’s comment, that spiral roll does look like a precious jewel with the glistening tobiko. Great writeup, with clear and concise instructions. I just sent everyone to the site for the recipe..lazy and not happy with how my sushi turned out, although it tasted great. Nicely done all around!

    • pixeltheatre 8:09 pm on November 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      @all. Thanks for dropping by and commenting! It is appreciated! 🙂 The recipe for the sushi is straight from the instructions put together by the hosts of this challenge: Audax and Rose. They deserve the credit. 🙂

  • 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 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , puff pastry, vols-au-vent   

    Daring Bakers 23rd Challenge: Vols-au-Vent 

    The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  I was grateful for this particular challenge, as it only involved four basic ingredients. Well, five, if you include the water. 🙂  This was also a nice chance to revisit puff pastry, which we did for the strudel challenge last May. (Nice video with Michel Richard and Julia Child showing the technique) It’s a pretty straightforward process, involving letting the dough chill out more than anything else. Again, a nice reprieve from the usual labour-intensive challenge. We had a choice of savoury or sweet filling. I went with my usual for this pastry, chicken à la king — cooked chicken in a white sauce, spiced with a nice dose of smoked paprika, served with green peas. Hum… hum… Nice Fall challenge. Thanks Steph!

    • Nicole 2:39 am on September 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm… comfort food. That sounds delicious. I’ll have to use some of my leftover dough for something like this!

  • 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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