Ghoulish Goodies



Before leaving for vacation, my daughter was very concerned about the notion of being away for Halloween. Never one to pass on a party myself, we decided to throw a little pre-dinner soirée for our little fairly princess and her guests.

With thirteen members of the 4 and 5 year old set, I knew I’d need extra hands and entertainment but as far as the food went, I figured I had it covered.
Between the green goo and witches brew, there were ghost pops, goblin cakes and these Casper cookies.

The cookies are great for cutting out cats, witches, pumpkins and ghosts alike. Pretty quick and easy to make, just err on the underdone as the edges can brown fairy quickly.
Continue reading Ghoulish Goodies

Whole Grain Crackers


WHOLE GRAIN FLAT BREAD CRACKERS

1/2 Cup Whole or Twelve Grain Cereal
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/3 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/3 Cup Soy Milk, or water
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

Pour the boiling water over the cereal to soften
Let sit 20 – 30 minutes.
In a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar.
Cut in the shortening until it is blended into a crumb consistency.
Add the moistened cereal then through the feed tube, drizzle in the milk, bringing the dough together into a soft ball.
Cut the dough two disks and quarter each of those leaving you with eight pieces.
Heat the oven to 400ºF.
Roll each piece as thinly as possible between two pieces of parchment paper.
If desired, lightly spray the rolled dough with oil and top with any desired combination of truffle salt, sea salt and rosemary or parmesan and black pepper.
Bake for 8 – 9 minutes; until crisp but barely golden, watching as they brown quickly.

Five Things And A Basket Of Peaches – Part One



It’s peach season and baskets of these delicious, fuzzy juice spheres are everywhere. They’re beautiful and so many peaches for next to nothing, it’s practically produce robbery!
Or worse, they have slices out at the Farmer’s Market. Golden orange fuzz, as far as the eye can see…. just a little taste, then I’ll leave, or so you think. The next thing you know you have a basket at home and you’ve eaten only 3, then they are all suddenly ripe. If you don’t get to them faster they won’t look as vibrant in your kitchen as they did in the warm, morning peach like summer sun. How does this happen, that they are all ripe and they have to get eaten right now?

Since we’re right, smack in the middle of peach season, I’ve decided to devote the week to the juicy beauties. Why? Well tomatoes and zucchini just don’t lose the same luster as a perfect peach – quite as quickly, and so far, I haven’t tried a toasted peach sandwich. But then again, it is only Monday.

INDIVIDUAL PEACH PIES

1 Round of Pastry Dough (Pate Frisée), enough to roll one crust.
5 – 6 Peaches, peeled & sliced, about 2 1/2 Cups
3 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
4 Ramekins

Prepare the pastry dough, or thaw and leave wrapped pastry round in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the peaches.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Other than being slippery, it’s especially easy to slice and peel peaches when they are freestone, firm and ripe.
I just halve, then quarter the peach, cutting along the stone.
With a slight twist, or a turn of the knife, the stone will either be freed completely or stay in just one of the quarters.
With a sharp, paring knife, catch and drag the skin between your thumb and the knife. The skin will more than likely peel off all together or in two attempts.
Cut the quarters into 1/4″ thick slices and reserve in a large bowl until all of the peaches have been pitted and peeled.
Sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon, if using; tossing to coat.
Allow the peaches to rest while you roll your dough.
Lightly dust a board with flour and roll your dough to a 1/8″ thickness.
Using either a small bowl or a 2 cup measure as a guide, trim the dough to four 6″ circles; repeating rolling as necessary.
Fit a circle of dough into each of the four ramekins; patting to fit.
Using a fork, dot the bottom and sides and bake for about 10 minutes.
While the crusts are baking, roll out the remaining dough and cut into 1/2″ strips.
Fill the crusts with the peaches and interlace a basket weave top crust by interlocking the strips of remaining dough into a lattice pattern.
Place the pies on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Cool, Minty Green For A Hot August Week


I normally steer clear of mint in food – drinks maybe, as I had found it’s a better staple for candy canes and toothpaste. Until you combine it into a classic Indian condiment that we ironically call “Green Heat”.

With green peppers a plenty, I usually have only one thing to make with them, as they are about the only vegetable I do NOT like, but blend it with a sweet onion, a small, green chili and a good handful of fresh mint and you’ve got a spicy cool that goes great with so many things. Keeping it classic, I thought I’d do up a little Onion Bhaji to dip into it for appetizers – and how perfect for the Happy Sorceress’s Minty Blog Party.

All I have to do now is grab a cocktail, strap on my heels and make my way to the do.
Or how about the cocktail as an after dinner, party picker upper?

MINT GINGER FIZZ

1 Tablespoon Ginger Syrup*
1 Candied Ginger Slice
5 – 6 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 oz Vodka
3 oz Seltzer Water
Handful of Ice

Add everything to a cocktail shaker; shake.
Strain into a chilled glass.
Add a squeeze of citrus, if you’re feeling zesty.
Garnish with extra mint, if desired.

For a virgin version, absolutely omit the Absolute and up the soda.

*GINGER SYRUP

1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Scrape the ginger with a spoon to remove the peel.
Thinly slice the ginger lengthwise and set aside.
In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water, add the ginger and bring to a slow boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the syrup has thickened slightly.
Strain the ginger slices.
Shake the ginger lightly in sugar and dry in a low oven for about 1 hour.

ONION BHAJI

1/2 Cup Chick Pea Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1 Dried Red Chili
1/2 Cup Filtered Water
1 White Onion
Vegetable Oil, for deep frying

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
Crush the coriander seeds and chili well with a mortar and pestle; add to the flour mixture.
Stir in the water to create a pancake batter-like consistency.
Peel and slice the onion 1/8″ thick.
Heat the oil. Test by dropping a small drip of batter. It should immediately begin to bubble and cook.
Drop the onion batter by tablespoonfuls, turning once to lightly brown evenly.
Remove bhaji with a slotted spoon or tongs to a papered plate to remove any excess oil.

GREEN HEAT SAUCE

1 Sweet White Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 Green Onions (scallions)
1 Green Chili, stem removed
1/2 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, packed
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor; purée until smooth.
Squeeze over the lemon juice, stirring to combine.

Early Summer Market Mystery



I gathered up and headed out to one of our favourite Summer Farmer’s Markets.
We have an old fashioned farm here in the city and every Tuesday most of the organic vendors within a 200Km radius lay out their wares. The food is fresh and I’ve learned the hard way that you don’t want to delay as the good stuff goes quickly.

Today was no exception, especially when seeking out something new to try. It was hot, very hot today and the call of the city splash pad down the path only reminded me how to me, today marks the eve of the summer’s turn. Harvest moons and browning grasses, routines to the local pool has become regular almost making us take this treasured season for granted.

We’ve “U-Picked until our fingers turned a brilliant scarlet and explored every local summer market’s offerings. We’ve found tried and discovered many new things and people at this and the other city markets.

Perhaps it’s the heat or just general indecisiveness but upon returning home, I chose to whip up a salad with a couple of my newest discoveries. Fresh and crisp, this is a bright flavour combination that would be great for serving to guests.

DAIKON & FENNEL SALAD

1/2 Daikon Radish
1/4 Fennel Bulb
1/4 Small Red Cabbage
1 Cup Pea Shoots
2 Red Grapefruits

Peel and segment the grapefruit, set aside. Reserve the skin and membrane to extract and reserve the juice.
Peel then continue to slice the daikon with a vegetable peeler or mandolin for paper thin slices.
Slice the fennel as thinly as possible then slice again into matchsticks.
Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible and trim the stems of the pea shoots.
Toss everything but the grapefruit and set aside.

GRAPEFRUIT POPPYSEED VINEGRETTE

1/4 Cup Grapefruit juice
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
pinch of salt to taste

Combine everything and whisk with an immersion blender.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

To assemble the salad, take approximately 1/4 of the tossed mixture and place it into a bowl add 1/4 of the reserved grapefruit segments and using your fingers, toss the salad with about 1 tablespoon of the vinegrette. Plate and repeat; serving immediately.

Serves 4.

Caramelized Rhubarb & Strawberry Crisp


Rhubarb, I find is one of those thing people either love or not. I like it, in fact I used to pluck it from the garden as a kid, peel the curly red strings and carry around a little bowl of sugar for dipping to gnaw on it raw.

There is something about the tart and sweet combination. That must be why strawberries love it too. The two are a traditional summer combination however, the problem I usually find is that people cook rhubarb to death, stewing it, leaving it a limp, stringy mess.

Rhubarb doesn’t need any water added when it’s cooked. Like most things from the garden, rhubarb is full of juice. All it needs is a spot of sugar and a bit of heat to pull out those juices and soften the rhubarb. Just a little brown sugar coats and creates a great, caramelized sweetness for the tart fruit. Add some berries and you’ve got yourself a fresher twist on an already classic dessert.



CARAMELIZED RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY CRISP

1 1/2 Cups Rhubarb
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Strawberries

TOPPING

1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal (Whole)
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Margarine
pinch of salt

Wash and trim the ends from the rhubarb. Chop stalks into 3/4″ pieces.
Add the rhubarb to a medium sized saucepan. Sprinkle over the 1/4 Cup of brown sugar and bring flame to a medium setting.
Stir occasionally to coat the rhubarb as the sugar melts and to keep it from sticking until the rhubarb begins to release it’s juices.
Simmer to soften, about 10 minutes.
Once the rhubarb is fork tender, add the strawberries.
Simmer for another 5 minutes or until everything is just softened (not mushy) and juicy.
In the meantime, in a medium bowl, add the margarine, oats, flour, brown sugar and salt.
Mix everything with a fork until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a short baking dish (7″x4″ x2″deep), add the fruit and cover it evenly with the topping mixture.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.