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Crisp – Rhubarb and Other!!

October 4th, 2013 — 8:06am

I love a good fruit crisp!!!  And I’ve tried many recipes over the years looking for the perfectly crisp, not too sweet topping that will stay crisp for at least another day!!  I finally came up with this recipe.  This crisp does not contain oatmeal so I suppose it’s not as “healthy” as other recipes.  Haven’t tried whole wheat flour yet but it might work. My family prefers no oatmeal but I will post a recipe including oatmeal that is and stays crispy another time.

A couple of pointers for a really crisp topping:  The crisp is done once the juices start to bubble at the sides.  If you continue to bake it and the juices bubble more this will soften the topping.  For this reason, you also don’t want too much juice from the fruit in the bottom.  To store crisp for the next day do not cover it tightly with plastic wrap or foil – simply lay a sheet of wax paper or parchment over the top to protect it.  If bugs are an issue, the microwave is a good place to store something like this.  Unless you are really vigilant about checking your oven before you turn it on I wouldn’t recommend storing anything in the regular oven.

Reheat leftover crisp at 425 F for about 5 minutes and it should stay quite crisp.

Try serving the rhubarb crisp with strawberry ice cream!!

 

 

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Crisp – Rhubarb and Other!!

October 4th, 2013 — 8:06am

Serves 4 – 6.

Topping:
1 cup flour
¾ dark brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted gently – see recipe
pinch of salt

Filling:
3 cups chopped rhubarb or other fruit* – frozen fruit should be thawed and drained
3 tbsp. sugar or to taste depending on the fruit
1 tbsp. cornstarch
generous pinch of spice – nutmeg for rhubarb and blueberry or cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Lightly butter baking dish – I used an oval dish approximately 6 in. X 10 in. X 1 ½ inches deep.

Mix flour and brown sugar well.  Melt butter until it is about half melted then remove from heat (or microwave) and stir until it is a creamy liquid.  (You don’t want the butter to separate – if it does simply cool mixture a little and stir well.)  Stir the butter into the flour mixture and mix well.  Use your hands to make it clump together a bit.

In bowl, mix filling ingredients.  Pour into baking dish.  Sprinkle topping over top.  If very full, place on a cookie sheet (lined with foil for easy cleanup) to catch any drips.  Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F for a further 15 – 20 minutes or just until it starts bubbling at the edges.  Let cool about 5 – 10 minutes before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

To reheat:  Reheat leftovers in a 425 F oven for about 5 minutes.

*Rhubarb is delicious combined with other fruits.  Even people who don’t think they like rhubarb tend to like it combined with another fruit.  Substitute any of the following for up to half of the rhubarb:  strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, plums, cherries, even peaches!!

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Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp

April 25th, 2012 — 2:33pm

Deliciously fresh tasting, healthy, and quick to make this easy dish is great for a quick week day meal and more than good enough for company.

The cooking time for this dish will depend on the size of your shrimp.  When buying the shrimp the size is called a “count” – the number of shrimp in a pound.  I used a 35 – 45 count frozen shrimp or prawns as the larger shrimp are sometimes called.  Shrimp are cooked as soon as they turn from translucent to pink. Although I really prefer the flavour and texture of using raw shrimp in this recipe, you could use cooked shrimp for this recipe – bake the sauce until very hot and bubbly and then stir the cooked shrimp in and bake only a few minutes longer to heat the shrimp.  Shrimp that are overcooked become quite tough and chewy – not good.

Do not thaw the shrimp before you are ready to make this dish.  A quick soak in tepid water thaws them very quickly and if left uncooked for too long after they are thawed the flavour deteriorates. Frozen shrimp come peeled and unpeeled.  The unpeeled ones are usually split along the back and very easy to peel even when just partially thawed.  A good job for the kids.

The spices in the sauce make it very “Greek” tasting.  If you are not sure about the spices, add half the amounts first, taste and then add the rest if you like.  Fresh dill makes this dish – if you can’t find it you can use dill weed.  Do make sure that the dill weed smells like dill and has a distinct dill taste.  Dill weed can get too old and lose its flavour easily.  If you don’t like dill, you could use chopped fresh parsley and still have a delicious dish.

Kalamata olives taste better if you buy the unpitted ones and pit them yourself.  This is easily done by pressing the flat side of a knife on the olive.  The olive breaks in half and the pit is easily removed.  Since you don’t need to use a sharp knife kids can do this job.

A note re feta cheese:  I discovered that I could freeze feta cheese. Sometimes I don’t have an immediate use for the leftover feta so I decided to try freezing it – whole and in the liquid.  It worked.  The cheese was fine – maybe a little softer but it still crumbled beautifully and tasted exactly the same as before freezing.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp

April 25th, 2012 — 2:33pm

3 – 4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ – 1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice – don’t leave out!!
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained (pureed if you prefer)
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 – 2 tsp. brown sugar – add 1 then taste, etc.
1 lb. bag frozen shrimp/prawns (uncooked), peeled and deveined – thaw slightly by
rinsing with tepid water –makes them easy to peel
½ lb. feta, crumbled into chunks
¼ cup chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish

In large sauté or frying pan, cook onion in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until onion is softened but not browned. Add garlic and spices and cook about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes with juice, olives, and brown sugar. Simmer uncovered, for about 20 minutes to reduce liquid and blend flavours. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste – keep in mind that the feta will also be salty.

In 2 quart glass or ceramic shallow baking dish place prawns in single layer. Pour hot tomato sauce over, sprinkle with feta and dill. Bake at 350 F until just cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with more dill.

May be served as is with bread, over rice or tossed with linguini or other pasta.

Note: You may use already cooked prawns BUT reduce time in oven to just long enough to heat prawns through or they become tough. I really prefer the flavor and texture of using raw shrimp/prawns.

Adapted from: Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp – Epicurious

 

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Savoury Beef Pot Roast – Slow Cooker

April 19th, 2012 — 9:11am

I am a cook who uses the slow cooker very selectively – some recipes just come out too bland, colourless, mushy and generally lacking “something”.  This pot roast is none of those things.  The meat is tender and the gravy rich with flavour.  It goes together quite quickly especially if you use the oven method to brown the roast.  I have found it not really necessary to brown the roast – it comes out just fine!

To brown or not to brown meat when using the slow cooker?!?!?!?  More browning should mean more flavour. I’m not sure it makes that much difference in the flavour.  One of my criteria for a slow cooker recipe is the ease and speed of putting the recipe together.  If browning puts you off the recipe – don’t do it.  Simply carry on.  I came up with a quick oven method for sealing and browning the roast which I’m quite happy with.

Ready for browning in 500 F oven.

 

 

Ready to simmer for 8 - 10 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any pot roasted meat will dry out quickly if left without any gravy or other liquid on it so try to avoid cutting the roast until ready to serve or place back in the gravy.  For any leftovers – place meat back in the gravy to store.

Since my daughter is celiac, many of my recipes are gluten-free or at least easily adapted to gluten-free.  One of my discoveries since I started cooking gluten-free was potato flour as a thickener.  Potato flour is NOT potato starch – they are quite different.  Unfortunately, to add to the confusion, the potato flour sold in a box in our grocery stores is really potato starch – very white and very fine.  Potato flour is creamy in colour and coarser than the starch. It mixes easily with liquids – simply sprinkle the potato flour over whatever you wish to thicken – and most people will have no idea that you did not use regular flour.  I have come to prefer potato flour for thickening gravies –  simmer any liquid you have added it to to cook the raw potato taste out.  You will need to go to a store which sells gluten-free products to find potato flour – around here that includes health food stores, produce stands and some delis.  While you are there, look at the potato flour versus potato starch and you can see the difference.  Potato starch will thicken liquids but is “gummier”, ie. not as nice a consistency.  It is used more in gluten-free baking.

 

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Savoury Beef Pot Roast – Slow Cooker

April 19th, 2012 — 9:11am

1 beef cross rib or any other less tender roast– whatever size fits your slow cooker

salt and pepper or Montreal steak spice

½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)
1 small (2l3 ml.) tomato sauce (a bit less than 1 cup)
1 cup beef broth
½ tsp. salt
2 bay leaves
pinch of thyme or marjoram or fresh springs of thyme

At end of cooking:
1 cup beef broth
3 – 4 tbsp. potato flour – great for gluten-free gravy
(or 3 – 4 tbsp. all purpose flour shaken in a jar with water or beef broth)

 

You can skip ahead to step 3 if you are in a hurry. If you want to and have a few extra minutes:

1. Brown the roast on all sides in a little oil in a frying pan OR line a roasting pan with foil, season roast with salt and pepper or Montreal steak spice and place in 500 F oven for about 15 minutes. This is a fast and easy way to brown and seal the roast.

2. I prefer to sauté the onions in a little oil until translucent – makes the onion flavor less sharp, more mellow. Stir in garlic for last minute or two.

3. Place roast in 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Mix onions, garlic, tomato sauce, beef broth, and salt and pour over roast. Drop in bay leaves and thyme or marjoram. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 – 10 hours depending on size of roast.

4. Remove roast and cover with foil to keep warm. It should stand for at least 20 – 30 minutes to make it easier to cut. Some roasts will be so tender that all you can do is cut chunks!!

5. Heat beef broth (microwave) and add to gravy in slow cooker. Slowly whisk in potato flour. Cook on HIGH until thickened and bubbly.

If not serving right away, place roast slices or chunks back into the gravy and keep warm.

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Basil Green Goddess Salad Dressing

April 18th, 2012 — 11:17am

 

 

When you can find large bunches of fresh basil in the market, this dressing is so worth making.  Just this dressing on a wedge of lettuce is delicious.  Adding shrimp and avocado cubes is even better!!  It is also a great dip for large shrimp or prawns or a vegetable tray.

Do not be tempted to leave out the anchovy paste.  I reduced the amount from the original so it is subtle but contributes to the overall flavour.  Even people who think they don’t like anchovy (I was one of them) will love this dressing.  Just hide the anchovy paste tube in the back of drawer in the fridge to avoid any questions.

To keep a bunch of basil – and most other fresh green herbs – fresh, simply place in water, cover loosely with a plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect and place in the refrigerator.  I usually put a plate underneath to catch any drips or condensation.

A mini herb greenhouse!!

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Basil Green Goddess Salad Dressing

April 18th, 2012 — 11:17am

Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 cup real mayonnaise
1 cup chopped green onions – white and green parts
1 ½ cups roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 large lemon) – start with less if you like and taste
1 – 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup thick sour cream

 

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. (If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.)
Cut each head of lettuce into quarters, remove some of the cores, and arrange on 6 salad plates. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and add to the plates. Pour on the dressing and serve.

Note: I served this dressing with butter lettuce, avocado, and shrimp – yum!!
It is also delicious with extra sour cream stirred in and used as a dip for large shrimp.

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Rhubarb Currant Chutney

April 12th, 2012 — 10:07am

Rhubarb Currant Chutney

 

Rhubarb is one of the first signs of spring around here.  This is an easy delicious chutney that anyone can make.  You really can’t buy chutneys like this.  Makes a great hostess gift, too!!

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Rhubarb Currant Chutney

April 12th, 2012 — 10:06am

 

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic – white or dark both work well
1 ½ tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger or several large slices
1 cinnamon stick or several pieces cinnamon bark
3 cups rhubarb, cut in ½ inch pieces – fresh or frozen, thawed
½ cup dried currants

In a large saucepan, stir all of the ingredients together.  Heat slowly until sugar dissolves.  Cook over medium high heat until rhubarb is tender and the consistency is as you like it.  When first made there will seem to be too much liquid but the chutney thickens as it cools.  Remove cinnamon and ginger if in large pieces before serving or when desired flavour is reached.

This chutney is delicious with pork, ham, or chicken.  Try it in sandwiches or paninis!!  It would also be delicious served over cream cheese, goat cheese, or a brie as an appetizer.

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