Friday, January 9, 2015

Quick Bites - January 2015

One might think that living in developing country would mean limited home cooking options to experiment with different cuisines. And while it is true that some ingredients can be hard to come by, it's more than possible to adjust and adapt any number of recipes to produce some pretty awesome dishes. Here are just a few I whipped up over the last several months.

Home made pasta with corn, tomatoes, and garlic confit

This is a great summer meal and super easy to do. First I made the garlic confit by taking 12 unpeeled cloves, making a small hole in each one, then popping them into a saucepan with about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Brought it to a boil, then turned the heat down to a simmer and let the garlic mellow away for about 15 minutes. Your knife should slide easily into the cloves and that's how you know they're done. Let the garlic and oil cool.

Once the garlic could be handled, I put about 5 tablespoons of the oil into a large saute pan and squeezed out the garlic from their skins. Gave the cloves a good mash with the back of my wooden spoon, then turned the flame to a medium heat. With the oil hot, I dumped in some diced tomatoes, corn, and a pinch of salt.

After cooking the pasta, I strained it and dumped it into the sauce. Gave it a good mix, then onto the plate and garnished with some fresh basil.

So, so good! There was a bit of sauce left over and we ate it as a quasi-bruschetta the next day on some lightly toasted bread. Will definitely do this dish again.

Apple Flowers

A friend of ours posted this recipe video on my Facebook timeline. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it. 

The process is pretty straightforward, just be sure that your thinly sliced apples extend a little bit over the edge of the pastry. If they don't you'll end up having something that looks more like a piece of sushi than a flower.

These are the perfect sweet bite and would be an awesome addition to a dinner party. 

View the recipe here

Tuscan Basil Chicken

This is a super easy and fast meal to make and the taste is delicious. And with the carrots, onion, and celery in it, I could check off the veggie component of the plate! I served this over rice, but it would work just as nicely with pasta.

Go get this recipe

Rosemary and Garlic Roast Leg of Lamb

We were gifted with a leg of lamb, and having never made one before, off I went looking for recipes. I landed on this one from Emeril Lagasse and wasn't disappointed. The smells coming from the oven were amazing. But how can you go wrong with garlic and rosemary?

Final plating of the roasted leg of lamb. The meat was so juicy, and the red wine sauce added just the right amount of richness. This meal was a real winner.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

From time to time, it's near impossible to find a loaf of wheat bread. It's one of those things like butter that will disappear from grocery shelves for a bit. I decided it might be high time for me to try making my own loaves. 

The result? Using this recipe I may never buy whole wheat bread again. Matter of fact, I've been turning out loaves on a regular basis. There's a slightly sweet taste and the crumb/density is perfect for sandwiches. And when slices are toasted? Oh man, it just seems to bring out all the flavors.

Dinner Rolls

For as long as I've been cooking and baking, dinner rolls -- for some unknown reason -- have been a challenge for me. I've tried different recipes over the years, but frequently the end result were dry, almost cracker-like disks. 

Then I found this recipe and decided to give it another try. And voila! They turned out great! Soft, light, and buttery. I found a winner!

Oh but here's the irony - after nailing the recipe I came to find out that David isn't a big fan of dinner rolls. After being together for 17 years, how could I not know this? Guess that just means more for me!

French Sponge Cake

On a recent BBC baking show, a chef was making a Genoise cake, which I was unfamiliar with. Turns out, what sets this sponge cake apart is the fact it's made with butter (how bad can that be?). I had been casting around for ideas on what to make for a New Year's day party and figured I would give this type of cake a go and found a recipe.

With only five ingredients, the process of putting the cake together is pretty straightforward. Once the cake had baked and cooled, I took a round cutter (about 1 1/2" dia.) to make individual portions. Between the top and bottom layers, I spread some strawberry jam. To make them all a little more festive looking, I dusted the tops with confectioner's sugar.

The end result? Considering this was my first attempt at making a sponge cake of any kind, I was pleased with the results. The cake itself was very light, moist, and, hey, spongy!

I want to make this again and try other fillings and presentation methods. This one is a keeper.

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