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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thai In A Rush

The inches of rain are accumulating and you don't want to step out of the house, but at the same time, you are craving that Thai food more then ever. Without having to spend tons of money on ordering in, here's how you can make a quick and easy Thai flavored dish. "A Taste Of Thai" offers a line of products that will get you exited about eating exotic while staying in the comfort of your own home. Here's how to make dinner in 3 simple steps!


1. Fry up a blend of fresh vegetable or even frozen if you are in a hurry. 
2. Make a Thai sauce by heating together the package contents and a can of coconut milk.
3. Cook the shrimp in the vegetables and then toss in the sauce. 



For extra flavor you can roughly chop a cup of fresh cilantro and stir it in the dish. Then serve it on a bed of instant rice or a good amount of egg noodles as shown in the picture below. And VOILA! A taste of Thai at home for the entire family, and it won't break the bank!


Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!
Astérix

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hot Dog Pizza

Can't decide what to make for dinner? Pizza or Hot Dogs? Why not both, all combined into one dish! Believe it or not, this concept is far from being something new. Where is was first thought of, we shall never know, but we do know that the hot dog wieners for one, go back to the 9th Century B.C. This is found in Homer's Odyssey: "As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted. . ."  And just when you thought that the Italians were responsible for the first pizzas, Ancient Greece takes it again with being responsible for the first "pizzas". These were large flat breads which were brushed with oils, herbs and dates. Tomatoes weren't even discovered at that point in history. Concluding, i would like to dedicate the following "recipe" if you could call it that, to the Ancient Greece, for having given us Hot Dogs and Pizza. 



To assemble your own Hot Dog pizza, just think hot dogs, and all the fixings you want or usually have on them. You will then want to either have a premade crust, use tortillas, or made fresh as I did. For a delicious whole wheat pizza dough, follow this next recipe. 


WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH 


- 1 Cup Warm  water
- 1 Tsp Dry Active Yeast
- 4 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Cups Whole wheat flour
- 1/2 Cup All purpose white flour
- 1/2 Tsp salt
- 1 Tsp Onion powder
- 1 Tsp Dried oregano ( or dry herb mix)


Step 1: Combine the warm water, yeast and honey; set aside and let foam at the top, 5 minutes. 
Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, onion powder and herbs, make a well in the center. When the yeast mixture is starting to foam, pour into the well which you made in the flour mixture. Stir in the center of the bowl, gathering more flour as your mix. Form a ball with the dough and cover with oil, placing it in a bowl and covering with a towel to let dough double in volume. 
Step 3: When dough has double in volume, bring to a lightly floured counter and split dough in half. Roll each part of dough in a loose ball and roll out to the shape of your pizza pan. Make sure that you have brushed your pizza pan with olive oil to prevent the pizza from sticking to you pan. You are now ready to assemble the pizza to your liking. 



For this Hot Dog Pizza I went with just basic fixings. First off, for the base sauce, you can use a regular tomato based pizza sauce. Using ketchup would only make the crust very soggy and hard to bake. After that, if you like Zucchini relish, or happen to have some home made, please put on one. At this stage you could also add sauerkraut instead. The point is to get the acidity from something pickled.




 Next step would be the hot dogs. Simply slice the hot dogs in quarters lengthwise and the chop them in smaller pieces, spread them onto the pizza. I used a pack of 6 veggie wieners for 2 pizzas, 3 wieners on each pizza. Onions were then added, and then squirt some mustard on the pizzas, remember, have fun with this! 




Want some kick to your pizza? Squeeze some hot sauce with the mustard. You would then add the cheese to the pizza and place them into a 450F Degree oven until the crust is to a golden brown (if you whole wheat), or to your preference of crispy. 



Make a quick and easy to assemble Caesar salad, and you are ready to go! This meal will please anyone, not to mention, get your taste buds VERY confused. As you get ready to bite in what you think is a pizza, you will be taken by the familiar aromas and comforting taste of a well assembled hot dog! Enjoy, i know you will!


Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!


Astérix 

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

For those of you who are situated in the central/western region of Canada, you are probably experiencing a nice blast of hot air for the weekend! Like you me, you are probably wanting to head to the beach a.s.a.p and put on your bathing suit. Sadly, the water could still be a little too chilly. For those of you who don't BBQ year round, the warmer weather is definitely a good time to take out that BBQ and start grilling what ever you can see in sight (apart from your neighbor's cat)!

The other day, my best friend and I took the concept of a sandwich and rose to it a very exciting and tantalizing new level of taste and textures. Who said that a sandwich should be plainly buttered and pressed together anyhow?! Switch it up by allowing your BBQ to do all the work, and seal in flavors you might have never tasted before. Here's what we ended up with.

(Roasted Vegetable Sandwich) 

Step 1: Marinade your vegetables (zucchini and bell peppers) in a mixture of olive oil, finely chopped garlic, and herbs, for a couple hours. 
Step 2: When your vegetables have marinated, bring them to the piping hot BBQ with your favorite veggie patties. (Keep your marinade from the vegetables for the toast) Grill your vegetables without charring them too much, you still want other flavors to come out. 



Step 3: Place your favorite cheese (goat, gouda or anything works) with chopped garlic on the patties to let melt and intensify even more flavors for the sandwich. 



Step 4: When your vegetables are done, remove them and place them on a plate. Turn the flames to medium-low. Brush your slices of bread (or buns) with the leftover oil from the marinade, and grill slightly, not to dry them out. 


Step 5: When everything is grilled and ready, bring inside and start assembling you sandwich. Now at this point, anything and everything is possible for dressings. I would highly recommend mango chutney on there to give it a little heat. Also, some crisp iceberg lettuce and fresh slices of tomatoes gives it a nice sandwich feel. 




Step 6: Highly enjoy this puppy you have created! You will not be let down by this sandwich, even though it is completely vegetarian and PACKED with vitamins. So WHY NOT indulge with a nice glass of wine! :) 



Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!

Astérix




Thursday, May 6, 2010

Very Easy Fruit Cobbler


You've slaved over a hot stove all day long to create the perfect dinner for a special occasion. Nothing must go wrong! You then realize that you didn't even think about dessert! What to do? Simple pull out this very simple and quick to pull together dessert. The following recipe for Fruit Cobbler Batter will get you rave reviews every time. As if it wasn't enough that it's easy to make, it's also extremely versatile. Assemble this recipe in less then 10 minutes to put a tasty end to your feast.

You'll surely wonder who thought out of such a wonderful recipe? Well truth be told, it has been reinvented millions of times throughout history. When settlers arrived in America, they were forced to improvise with what they had on hand. As for the cobblers and all of its derived recipes, they all came from English steamed pudding. Early settlers were so fond of this juicy concoction, that it was served at any time of the day for any meal, even supper. Only during the 19th Century did the cobbler became more of a dessert.


FRUIT COBBLER BATTER ( 4 large portions)
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 3/4 Cup All-purpose flour
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 Tsp salt
- 3/4 Cup Milk
- 2 Cups of either sliced fresh fruit and berries of a 12 oz package of frozen mixed berries

DIRECTIONS:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.





- Place butter in an 8-inch square OR a 9-inch round also works; set in oven to melt. When butter is melted remove from oven.








- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.








- While mixing with whisk, slowly add the milk. Make sure the batter is of a smooth consistency.











- Pour the batter on top of the melted butter and scatter fruit on top of the batter. Sprinkle with a small amount of granulated sugar.












- When the cobble is assembled, it can be refrigerated and brought over unbaked at a friends house or a pot luck. Then simply place it in a 350F oven and it will be ready and piping hot when dessert rolls around. Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes.








Serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or even  better, a scoop of fresh tasting lemon sherbet. This particular recipe of cobbler, was made with fresh bananas, fresh mango and frozen blueberries. The bananas make it taste like banana bread with an interesting twist of tropical fruits coming from the mango and blueberries. Absolutely delicious!

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!
Astérix

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whole Spelt Bread

You've probably heard of Spelt Bread by now and other bakery products containing Spelt flour. So what is spelt? And how does it differ to Wheat flour?


Don't be fooled by thinking that spelt's new commercial trend is it's first debut. Spelt has been around thousands of years before Christ and grown for hundreds of years in Europe. This is because it has always been cultivated to feed animals with it's grains. It's recent popularity is due to the, more and more common discoveries of its nutritional benefit. The "ancient grain", not only has a nuttier and sweeter flavor then wheat, but it contains a higher level of protein. Not that that higher protein count was a winning fact, it is also a protein which is easier to digest then the one found in wheat grains. This makes it a great choice for individuals who have an intolerance to wheat. Spelt DOES contain gluten, just like wheat, which makes it NOT SUITABLE for wheat free diets. 

Triticum aestivum var spelta, as it's formally known, is being used nowadays, to make many products. These ranging from beers and gin, to pasta and all products where wheat flour is already used. As I was doing a routine stop at my favoutire bulk food store, I thought of taking the plunge and purchasing some Spelt flour and trying out a bread recipe which I had my eyes on for a while. Following is the recipe and the end result of my first time using spelt in my baking.  


WHOLE SPELT BREAD RECIPE (Makes 2 loaves)

Ingredients:
- 1 Tablespoon Active dry yeast 
- 2 Cups Warm water
- 3 Tablespoons Honey
- 3 Tablespoons Butter (melted)
- 2 Teaspoons Sea salt 
- 6 Cups Spelt flour

Instructions:
- In a 1 Liter glass measuring cup, measure out your warm water. Water temperature should be between 40 and 43 degrees Celsius. Add to the water the yeast and the honey, stir well to dissolve the yeast and honey. Let stand mixture for about 10 minutes or until foam starts to form on the top. During that time, measure out the flour and place in in a large bowl, while creating a well in the center of the flour. When the flour bowl is ready, add the melted butter and the sea salt to the yeast mixture. Pour immediately inside the flour well and stir in the center of the bowl with a wooden spatula, gathering flour from the sides as your are stirring. When all flour has been gathered more-or-less with the liquids, start kneading the ingredients with your hands. 
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, being careful not to overknead, and forming it unto a smooth ball of dough. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl (Olive oil is best). Cover and let rise in a warm and draft-free spot for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. During that time, grease 2 8 1/2" by 4 1/2" loaf pans. 


- When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch the dough down and divide in two portions. For the doughs into a smooth loaf and place one in each loaf pan. 


- Cover once more and let rise another hour of until it has reached the top of the pan. Preheat the oven at 350F (175C).


- Uncover the loaves and place on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the tops are of a slight brown color and crusty. At this point, TURN THE OVEN OFF, remove the loaves from the pans and place then directly onto the baking tray. Return them to the oven to crisp up for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack. 


If you are feeling adventurous, you can also omit the loaf pans and create some artisan spelt breads, as shown in this post.  


Spelt flour is a great alternative to use in place of regular wheat flour, for almost any recipe. It's nuttier flavor will create an aroma in the air which you will definitely become addicted to. Try it out today!

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!
Astérix