Monthly Archives: September 2014

Memories of Meals Past: Sesame Tofu Cakes with Dipping Sauce

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means: Memories of Meals Past! In this case, Sesame Tofu Cakes with Chili Garlic Dipping Sauce.

     Wanna take a dip?

Wanna take a dip?

I made this dish maybe a year ago, when I was trying to find healthy and tasty ways of incorporating more non-dairy protein into my diet. Also, there was a sale on tofu. (I’m a sucker for a sale.) The sesame tofu cakes turned out pretty well, although they really need the chili garlic dipping sauce to add some flavour. Tofu is healthy and all, but it’s kind of flavourless; at least, the standard supermarket kind is.

Want to try this recipe? Click here. It’s a Chatelaine recipe that I found when googling recipes for things to make with tofu. I haven’t made the recipe since because it seems like a bit much prep time (took me longer than the stated half an hour) for not a ton of food (it made waaaay less than 32-36 cakes) but it would be good for an appetizer, as it can be made ahead and then reheated.

I made the sauce recipe myself and I certainly don’t remember it now. I think it was a mix of whatever I had in my cupboard: some vegetarian hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, dried chili pepper, and chopped garlic.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Next Post: The rare situation in which Zucchini trumps Apple Pie. Also, fries.

Pie Crust Odyssey: The Ultimate Caramel Crumb Apple Pie

 

She can bake an apple pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy...

She can bake an apple pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy…

The air in my kitchen is deliciously scented, because I have a Caramel Crumb Apple Pie cooling on the counter! That’s right, I’ve combined all sorts of yummy things into one ultimate pie! It’s mom’s apple pie, but with caramel sauce drizzled in the filling, topped with a cinnamon crumb topping, and baked until golden brown and fragrant!

It’s the end of the Pie Crust Odyssey, and of course the last pie had to be apple because, well, apple pie is a staple! I’d say there’s nothing quite as American as apple pie, but I’m Canadian, so really, I should be serving the pie with cheddar cheese, eh? I’m not a fan of mixing sweet and savoury, as least not in my apple pie, so I just added caramel and crumbs to the classic that I grew up with.

Oh, it smells soooo good! The DH is hovering around the kitchen and asking if the pie is cool enough to eat yet. It’s not, so I shall type up the recipe while it cools a bit, and then we shall eat pie!

The redolent-of-cinnamon recipe:

Butter and Vinegar Crust

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. butter
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. ice water

Mix all the ingredients up in a mixer (what, you think I’m going to do this by hand? You do that. I’ll use a mixer.) until a dough is formed. Rest in fridge while filling is assembled. Then roll out and place in pie plate. And it’s done, and on to the filling!

Caramel Sauce

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • ½ c .white sugar
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. water
  • Pinch salt

Melt butter in a pot on medium heat. Add in flour and whisk until bubbling. Add in sugars, salt, and water, and stir. Cook until caramel sauce just *starts* to stick to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.

Filling

  • 6 Gala apples, or your favourite
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Peel and roughly slice the apples. Toss with the flour and cinnamon. Set aside.

Crumb Topping

  • 1 c. flour
  • ¼ c. white sugar mixed with 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cut up into small pieces

Mix up the white sugar with the molasses. Dump in everything else and mix until a soft crumb forms. Set aside.

Now we get to assemble our luscious layers!

 Good enough to eat as is.

Good enough to eat as is.

Dump the apple filling into the pie shell. Sort of spread it around, and heap it slightly in the centre. Evenly pour the caramel sauce all over the top. Lick the caramel pot clean. Top  filling with the crumbs, sprinkling evenly over the top. It’ll look like a lot of floury crumbs, but it bakes down. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and then cover with foil if crumb topping is getting brown. Bake for a further 40 minutes, covered, at 350 degrees, or until the apples are soft when a fork is stuck into the pie. Uncover during the last few minutes and brown the top if it isn’t already golden brown. Cool. Slice, serve, and wow your friends and family.

Ok, I’ve written up the recipe, it’s time to serve the pie! *interruption to eat pie* Oh, so good! I gobbled it right up. And the DH fell asleep while the pie was cooling, so I ate his slice too. I think that’s only fair. The caramel flavour isn’t as strong as you might expect, but that’s actually a good thing because otherwise the pie would be too sweet. It does need to cool a bit before cutting and serving, but I ate it while it was still warm and it was perfect! I think I’ve just created myself a new classic — try it out and let me know what you think!

 Eat me. Now.

Eat me. Now.

As for the Pie Crust Odyssey, I’ve figured out that for myself, I prefer a butter AND shortening crust, heavier on the shortening, and made with vinegar. I find that makes for the flakiest and tastiest crust.  Thoughts?

Next Post:  Probably something with vegetables (zucchini? eggplant?), because I’m buttered out after this pie. (Still worth it.)

Salads I Have Known and Loved: Topped with Candied Pecans

Pecans are healthy, even if covered in sugar...right?

Pecans are healthy, even if covered in sugar…right?

As I’ve mentioned before, I eat a lot of salad. I like it, it’s healthy, and my GI tract thanks me. But I get bored of eating the same thing every day (the DH could happily eat the same thing every day – can you? Let me know in the comments!) and I like to mix it up. So toppings it is!

Sometimes I’ll add crumbled blue cheese with sliced pears, candied pecans, and blue cheese dressing; sometimes I’ll add dried cranberries with candied pecans and a balsamic vinaigrette; sometimes I’ll add sliced almonds with mandarin segments and raspberry vinaigrette.

Candied pecans are one of my favourite toppings and that’s what I’ll show you how to make today! It’s so much easier than you’d think.

Gooey, candied, nutty goodness.

Gooey, candied, nutty goodness.

Let’s get nutty in the kitchen!

Candied Pecans

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Toast pecans in frying pan over medium heat until they start to get fragrant. Add in butter and toss with pecans. Add in brown sugar and stir until sugar is melted and pecans are coated. Pour onto wax paper to cool. When cool, break apart if stuck together. Store in fridge…if they last that long!

So easy, right? I imagine these would be good sprinkled on some creamy ice cream, perhaps along with some caramel sauce? *drool*

Tomorrow's lunch. Or tonight's midnight snack. Either or.

Tomorrow’s lunch. Or tonight’s midnight snack. Either or.

The DH was looking over my shoulder as I was making the candied pecans, so I’ve packed him some for lunch tomorrow, along with some dried cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette. He also added one of the frozen mini vegetarian meat pies that I made using this recipe. It was the last of the meat pies! I shall just have to make more. But I’m working on another use for pie crust, to finish up the Pie Crust Odyssey. It’s going to be soooo delicious! Stay tuned!

Next Post: Pie Crust Odyssey, Finis – Caramel Apple Crumb Pie

Pie Odyssey: Quiche Dreams Are Made of…This

Whole foods of the world, unite!

Whole foods of the world, unite!

No Pie Odyssey would be complete without a handed-down pie crust recipe, and this is one that comes from my family. Which I (of course) then modified, based on my pie-making experience and the ingredients I had on hand. I was going to try a purely shortening crust, but only had half a cup of the shortening, so I added in some butter. And I’m trying it with vinegar because before there was the vodka crust, vinegar was the crust innovation de jour.

Let’s see how it turns out!

Vinegar Pie Crust

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. cold water

Mix flour, salt, shortening and 2 tbsp. water and 2 tbsp. vinegar together until crumbly. Add in butter and mix until still crumbly and butter is distributed. Add in remaining vinegar to hold it all together. Form into flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour or more.

Roll it out on a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough over the rolling pin to lift it into the pie plate. Cut off any overhanging edges and use them to fill in any empty spaces.

Crimp the pie crust by squishing the edge between one finger on one hand and two fingers on the other hand. Or use a fork to make a decorative edge.

 

Layered up real nice. Or just put it any which way.

Layered up real nice. Or just put it any which way.

Now, what to put inside the crust? Well, it’s dinner time and I’m hungry, so let’s make a quiche!

A few years ago now, I went to the south of France and explored a medieval village there, St. Paul de Vence. There’s a little café in the village that makes a delicious tarte a la tomate that was the inspiration for this quiche. The owner of the café gave me a tip when she saw how much I enjoyed my lunch: a light spread of mustard on the pie crust before adding in the rest of the filling gives it a piquancy that makes the dish.

I don’t know whether it was that I had just recovered from an stomach upset earlier in my trip and was extra hungry, or whether it was the locally grown tomatoes, but it was soooo good! I’ve always wanted to replicate it, and here I’ve taken that flavour and added it to a quiche.

Ready to be popped into the oven!

Ready to be popped into the oven!

Provencal-Inspired Quiche

  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough tomato slices to cover the bottom of the pie (depends on your tomato size)
  • 2 chopped green onions

Spread mustard on the bottom of the pie crust. Add sliced tomatoes to cover mustard. Mix eggs, milk, cheese, chopped green onions, salt, and pepper together and pour over tomatoes. Bake in 400 degree oven until top is starting to brown and the quiche is set (it’s at least as firm as jello when you touch the centre), about half an hour. 

Let cool, slice, and enjoy! Serve with a soupcon of French words, mais oui?

Fresh from the oven, all golden and yum!

Fresh from the oven, all golden and yum!

Ok, so this crust is very crumbly, even though it holds together well enough to serve. I guess the vinegar really makes a difference! If you like crumbly crust, this is definitely the recipe for you! I have yet to figure out how to make a crust flaky and not crumbly, but maybe there’s no difference. Or is there? Let me know in the comments! 

Next Post: The Pie Odyssey Comes to an End, with the Mother of all Apple Pies.

Memories of Meals Past: Hungarian Sour Cream Rolls with Flax Seed

It’s 2 am on Friday morning, but I haven’t gone to bed yet. Insomnia and I are having such a good time together that we can’t bear to part. At least that’s what it tells me. My response was  slightly more creative and may have also included the odd hand gesture.

But this means that I can do the throw-back Thursday thing without being late, because I haven’t gone to bed yet! That’s how it works right? No? Well, my blog, my rules, so Memories of Meals Past is it!

Today’s delicious memory, as pulled from my computer files and the memory banks of the mind, is a recipe for Hungarian Sour Cream Rolls, which I made when I was searching for a way to avoid having some sour cream go to waste. Because wasting food just ain’t my bag, baby.

Served with Strawberry and Cabernet Sauvignon Freezer Jam. Because I am that awesome.

Served with Strawberry and Cabernet Sauvignon Freezer Jam. Because I am that awesome.

Click on recipe title in the previous paragraph for a link to the original recipe. Which, of course, I modified, because that IS my bag, baby. I added  in maybe 1/3 c. to 1/2 c. freshly ground flax and I also sprinkled the top of the rolls with more of the same. I had gotten a great deal on several bags of flax seeds at a factory outlet near my former workplace and am now adding them (after grinding them, because that’s what allows us to absorb the benefits) to everything in sight.

I’m hoping that the omega-fatty-acids will boost my brain power to stratospheric heights, or, you know, help keep me healthy. Whether they do or not, as a vegetarian, it can only be a good thing to ingest omega-fatty-acids, so I’m all in. I’ve finished the first of two bags, and that was while pushing them on all interested family members and adding ground flax to everything. Smoothie? Add that flax! Baking? Add some flax! Cereal? Flax it up! Must. Use. Up. The. Flax! (It does come in handy when I’m out of eggs though, as I can then make a flax egg.)

The buns were awesome! I think I froze some to eat later on in the next week or two with soup (this soup would be a great match) and the DH and I enjoyed fresh buns with fresh jam for the next few days. Mmm…that jam. But that’s another Memory for another post!

Next Post: Quiche, quoth the Raven. Ever more! (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe).