Archive for September, 2010

They Call It Flan

September 29, 2010

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I’ll admit, the first time someone mentioned flan to me, a supermarket-produced fruit flan popped into my head and I thought “Ooh, I like fruit flan.”  Little did I realize that flan (pronounced “flahn”) in the Mexican sense bears a striking resemblance in look and flavour to crème caramel.

This all started with the same process that led to Cari and I to make the indulgent End Of The Week Sundae some weeks ago.  We were going to spend our Friday night at home, eating fajitas and catching up on the week’s TV shows that had accumulated on our PVR.  Unfortunately we did glaze over the part of this recipe that read “chill until cold, at least four hours…”  Oops.

Anyway, we still went ahead and made the flan a few days later and it turned out really well.  It’s a recipe we’re happy to try again.  Not only is it super-easy, it only requires a handful of ingredients, all of which are always in stock at our house: sugar, water, milk, salt, eggs, vanilla.  That’s it!  We probably overcooked the caramel a bit, but it still tasted great.

Again, no adaptations on our part, so here’s Epicurious.com’s Classic Flan Recipe.  Enjoy!

Recipe-free Cooking: Fajitas

September 27, 2010

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I take full credit for fajitas being a regular part of the Miller household.

Going back about 10 years ago, my mom asked my brother and I what we wanted for Christmas dinner. Neither of us were too big into the “traditional” Christmas roasts, so we opted for our favourite meal: Fajitas! It worked perfectly as I was a new vegetarian, and could substitute black beans in place of chicken or beef. The “build-your-own” aspect of fajitas makes it an extremely easy to throw together, and one that accommodates many different tastes.

Adam had a much different experience as he grew up only liking hard taco shells, never opting for tortillas. Lucky for me, he was open to try my family favourite during his first Fort Wayne Christmas, and it soon became a favourite of his too.

Here’s how we usually do it.

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Pistachio-Crusted Tofu with Ponzu

September 25, 2010

Pistachio-Crusted Tofu with Ponzu

In our household, tofu is still served more regularly than chicken or beef.  Maybe it’s a leftover from Cari’s vegetarian days, but we enjoy the versatility and texture it provides.  It’s also cheap and healthy.

We have a few favourite tofu recipes, but are always on the lookout for new ways to prepare it.  This recipe intrigued us for a few reasons.  Most obvious was the use of ponzu.  It turns out that ponzu is a citrus-infused soy sauce available at Asian supermarkets.  For some reason, I went to Whole Foods and forked over $10.99 for it.  Next time I’ll know better.  Another thing that we liked about this recipe is that there are only five ingredients: peanut oil, pistachios, mayonnaise, ponzu and tofu.

This dish turned out very well.  The sauce was really interesting – I had never thought to whisk mayonnaise and soy sauce together, but it actually worked!  It didn’t taste unlike the flavour you get in certain sushi rolls that use mayo.  We served the tofu alongside brown rice, which soaked up the extra sauce and tasted great.  The only challenge I had was that the pistachios only partially adhered to the tofu.  Still, we definitely got enough pistachio to get the idea.  We’ll be making this again; a great weeknight meal.

Once again, we didn’t adapt this recipe.  So here it is, courtesy of Epicurious.

Broccoli Garlic Quiche

September 23, 2010

Broccoli Garlic Quiche

Cari and I haven’t made quiche more than a few times, but we decided on our latest attempt that we wanted to try something a little different.  This Epicurious recipe takes an old favourite (broccoli-cheddar) and takes it to a whole other level by infusing it with mashed garlic and a generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cari made the pastry dough from scratch, which probably wasn’t necessary but helped make this taste like the sort of quiche you’d find in a nice French bistro.

Since we didn’t make any revisions to the recipe, we’ll direct you to the source.  The only thing we’d do differently next time is double or even triple the garlic.  The flavour was there, but we bet it’d be even better with more of it.

Crispy Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon Juice

September 14, 2010

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What is it about broccoli that most kids hate with a passion?  Could it be that most of us serve it boiled to death with little or no seasoning?  A few simple ingredients and a slightly different method of preparation goes a long way, as this recipe for Crispy Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon Juice proves.  As The Amateur Gourmet‘s partner Craig exclaimed, “If parents made this broccoli for their kids, kids wouldn’t hate broccoli. They’d beg for it.”  Touché, Craig.

Evidently, this recipe actually comes from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.  Cari and I have been fans of Garten for a while now, though admittedly we have avoided many of her recipes as they are loaded with cream, butter, and more butter.  This broccoli dish likely has more oil than is advisable… but it’s damn good, and surely that should count for something… right?

Here’s the recipe, which we cut in quantity but followed more or less the same way that The Amateur Gourmet did.  Its crispiness comes from roasting it in a fairly hot, dry environment.  All flavor comes from garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.  That’s pretty much it.  Delicious.

My Mustard Has A First Name, It’s K-O-Z-L-I-K

September 12, 2010

A special place exists in my heart for condiments.  Ketchups, mayonnaises, dips and spreads can always be found in our refrigerator.  Mustard, in particular, is something I take very seriously.  At any one time, you may find between four and seven different types of mustards in our fridge: deli-style brown mustard, yellow mustard, dijon mustard, horseradish mustard, mustard with seeds, mustard without seeds… I’m beginning to sound a bit like Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba, am I not?

With that in mind, I had never been too picky when it came to the brand of mustard I was consuming.  That is, until I first tried Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard.  Sure, there are other mustards out there that I enjoy – but I’d also be content to stock my fridge with nothing but Kozlik’s.

Available in more than two dozen varieties, Toronto’s own Kozlik’s mustards have been available at St. Lawrence Market and various specialty food shops since 1948.  To date, I have tried just four: Honey Garlic, Horseradish, Sweet and Smoky, and Amazing Maple.  And they’re all incredible, well worth the extra couple of bucks a jar will set you back.

Check out Kozlik’s online at www.mustardmaker.com

Homemade Veggie Burgers

September 10, 2010

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Back when I was still a vegetarian, we tended to stick with Lick’s frozen nature burgers whenever we’d barbecue, because no attempt at making our own veggie burgers came close to the flavor and texture Lick’s had mastered.  For those outside the Greater Toronto Area, Lick’s is a small chain of burger joints that offers up the best veggie burgers in the city.  Their burgers are available in the frozen food section of most Toronto-area grocery stores.  The first time I had a Lick’s veggie burger was the only time in my life that I seriously thought they had accidentally given me beef.

As good as Lick’s veggie burgers are, though, they are expensive.  Not to mention the fact that it seemed silly to make our own hamburgers and then serve them with frozen patties.  Although now a meat eater, we still have occasion to serve veggie burgers – sometimes due to our own mood, but also because of a few close friends who happen to be vegetarian.  So when Adam decided to serve beef sliders at a party this weekend, we decided to cater to our vegetarian friends by making a vegetarian version as well. (more…)

Shana Tova!

September 8, 2010

Rosh Hashanah is here, and for those of you who also celebrate the Jewish New Year, I thought I’d share a few recipes I’ve been eyeing to mark the occasion. There’s only so many I’ll have time for this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them! And even if you aren’t Jewish, if you’re a fan of apple, honey – or (even better) apple and honey together – this post is for you.

Here are a few sweet ways to get your year off to a good start: (more…)

Garden Tomato Sauce

September 8, 2010

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Living in a prominently Italian neighbourhood, virtually all of our neighbours grow tomatoes each summer.  Cari and I have been, too, though admittedly we always end up with way more than we’d ever know what to do with.

Last year we tried preserving tomato sauce at the end of the season, but ended up burning it at the bottom of the pan.  As a result, we were left with sauce that took a lot of time and effort but tasted pretty lousy.  This year, we decided it would be more sensible to make and freeze batches of tomato sauce as tomatoes continue to grow throughout the rest of the summer into early fall.  That would also allow us to try a variety of recipes to see which we’d like the best.

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Mowgli’s Own: Our 2nd Annual Big Batch of Pickles

September 6, 2010

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After making a whopping 30lbs worth of pickles last year, we celebrated the anniversary of that event with… another huge batch! In the end we timed it perfectly as we are just polishing off the last two jars from last year now. And yes, we gave a lot of the jars last year away – so we didn’t eat *quite* that many all on our own!

We scaled back a bit this year and stuck with about 20lbs, purchased at vegetable markets in the Bloor West Village area. Our initial plan was to go to Whittamores Farm for a pick-your-own, much like we had for raspberries and strawberries, but in the end we got the exact same price per pound at vegetable markets – with a fraction of the travel time and no work on our part. Score!

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