Chicken with spiced coffee rub.

As you all noticed I haven’t posted in a while.  The reason being is because I moved to the other side of Canada! (if you didn’t already know) For the past several months I’ve been: getting ready for my move, doing the move itself, and settling into what seems to be the best looking city I’ve ever seen.  Now that it’s finally less hectic and I have a moment to myself, I can start doing this blog again. (You would think I’d be alone everyday, however I’m hardly alone!)

I’ve decided to start off this month with something every coffee lover should love.  Spiced coffee rub, on chicken.  The reason?  well, because I really wanted coffee today.  It has been a while since I had a nice cup of coffee, and I had finally bought a bag for home brewing.  So to satisfy my craving for caffeine fully I brewed a cup, and mixed ground beans in with spices and sugar.
While I was in culinary school I had made something similar except it had cocoa powder in it as well, making it a mocha spice rub.

You can use this rub for almost anything, such as:  Roasting, braising or grilling with beef, chicken or pork.

Equipment:
1 small bowl.
Measuring spoons.
Spoons.
Frying pan.
Baking sheet.
Tongs/metal spatula (something for flipping chicken).
Coffee grinder (if using whole beans)
Air tight container (for left over rub).

Ingredients: ( adjust to your liking!)
3 tbsp ground coffee
1.5 tbsp brown sugar.
1 tsp cayenne pepper.
1 tsp cinnamon.
1 tsp salt.
1/2 tsp black pepper.
Your choice of chicken. (I used thighs)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine coffee, sugar and spices.
  3. Remove the skin from the chicken.
  4. Sprinkle spiced coffee rub over chicken till you have the desired amount.  Rub the mixture into the chicken.
  5. Heat frying pan on stove, then add the oil.  Place chicken in the frying pan starting with the side the skin was on, sear each side till a nice brown colour.
  6. Place chicken on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (tin foil also works).
  7. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked. (I placed a small amount of brewed coffee on the baking sheet as well, just to help keep the chicken from drying out.  However it is not needed.
  8. ENJOY!!

 

Spicy beef jerky.

My family and I took a road trip home to Campbellton, New Brunswick for Easter weekend;  Where we would see the rest of our family.  As we were planning out the basics like: what time we were going, who’s coming in our car, and what snacks to bring.  I had thrown out the idea of making some beef jerky for the trip.  Everyone loved the idea.  We normally buy it on the road but it’s just so expensive;  It’s so much cheaper to make it yourself and it really takes no effort at all!
So the next day we picked up a roast, sliced it as thin a possible and combined a bunch of sauces and spices together for a marinade.  I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours (because we really didn’t have that much time)and put it in the dehydrator, rotating every several hours to evenly dry each piece!

Yields: 1 whole roast  Prep time: 20 minutes  Total time: 24+ hours

Equipment:
Dehydrator.
Knife.
Cutting board.
Measuring spoons and cups.
Container for marinating.
Container for jerky storage.

Ingredients: **All the measurements really depends on how big your roast is, and how strong you like it.  This is just a basic guideline!!**
Beef roast.
soy sauce.
sriracha.
Chili flakes.
Sprinkle of sugar.
Cracked black pepper.
Garlic cloves-minced.

Method:

  1. Thinly slice your roast; The thinness should be about paper-thin.  Cutting your pieces to thick will cause it to take longer to dry and harder to eat.
  2. Mince your garlic (If you struggle with this you can follow the link to my how to on garlic).  Combine all ingredients and let marinate in fridge for at least one hour or over night.
  3. Plug your dehydrator in and evenly place your meat on the trays.  Place cover on top.  The open space on top of the cover effects how long it will take to dry (bigger space the longer it will take, closed more the faster it will be!); I like to keep mine somewhere in the middle.
  4. Rotate the trays, making sure that each level gets a good amount of heat.  Example would be taking the bottom tray and putting it on the top and continuing this everyone several hours.   As you check your jerky, remove any pieces that have already dried.  This will prevent over dehydration.
  5. ENJOY!!

 

Sushi roll Sunday.

Who doesn’t like sushi?  There’s a type of roll for everyone!  Everything from veggie rolls, to tempura rolls, to rolls with raw or cooked fish and even meat & poultry rolls.  It all depends on personal preference.  I love all of them; I have defiantly been in the mood for sushi and put anything I wanted into some nori.  That’s what cooking is all about right?  Today I decided to make sushi rolls for everyone.  I made so many of them!!  I even showed a friend how to make sushi, he calls it the candy of the sea gods.
The day started just like you would assume, shopping at the grocery store for the ingredients.  However I’m so forgetful I forgot the most important part…the sticky rice.  So we stopped at another grocery store on the way back to my place.  We may have look a little crazy.
I was also really craving kimchi that day, just like any other day…So I combined kimchi with my spicy salmon!  It was delicious and satisfying.

I can’t tell you everything about sushi but I can tell you what I know.   I’m no expert on every type and every way to prepare it.  I’ll try my best to be as informative as possible.

So if you didn’t know I’m moving across the country in the next few weeks.  All my posts may or may not be delayed because I have a lot to do, and people to see before I leave! I’ll still get posts out as much as I can though!

Yields: 2-4 rolls    Cook time: 20-30 minutes    Over all time: 1.5 hours

Equipment:
Small to medium sized-pot with cover.
Measuring cups.
Wooden spoon.
Small and medium-sized bowls.
Baking sheet.
Cutting board.
Knife.
Sushi roll mat.
Plastic wrap (optional).

Ingredients: (The roll part)
1-2 cups calrose rice/sushi rice (some stores call it by different names).
2-4 cups water.  (Ratio is 1 part rice 2 parts water)
1 tsp salt.
1 tbsp butter.
Kombu (optional)

Nori (seaweed paper).
Wasabi (optional).
Soy sauce (optional).
Sesame seeds (optional).
What ever you want inside!! I used: Avocado, orange pepper, English cucumber, salmon, imitation crab…and kimchi for one.

Ingredient:(rice vinegar seasoning)
4 tbsp rice vinegar.
2 tbsp sugar.
1 tsp salt.

Ingredients:(spicy mayo)
4 tbsp mayo.
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (more or less if you desire).
A small splash of sesame oil.

Method:

  1. Measure out rice and wash with cold water till the water becomes translucent.  By doing this you get rid of the extra toxins and starch.
  2. Add water, salt, butter and kombu to the rice and place on stove.  Bring to a boil, quickly turn down to a very low heat and cover.  Let cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.  Try not to stir the rice as it’s cooking.
  3. While rice is cooking start cutting your vegetables, meat or fish. Prepping everything while the rice is cooking saves time! If marinating your fish now would be the time to do it!! (Or marinate over night for better flavour)
  4. Combine your rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Once rice is done, keep the cover on and set in a cool area. Let stand for about 5 minutes to release the bottom.  Remove kombu.
  6. Using your wooden spoon gently pour rice seasoning over cooked rice, cutting through NOT stirring.
  7. Pour rice onto a baking sheet and spread.  This will help cool your rice down faster. I tend to put mine in the fridge because I’m impatient.  However using a hand fan would be the traditional way.
  8. Fill a medium bowl with water, this will be used to wet your hands.  You will constantly need to keep them wet, it will help keep the sticky rice from sticking to you and not the nori.
  9. This is where you use your sushi mat.  Placing the nori sheet shiny side up with the lines going vertical, each sheet will need about 1/4 cup of rice. Wet your hand and gently spread the rice across leaving and inch at the top for an easy seal.  Make sure the rice is even.
  10. Now fill!  In a straight line pile your ingredients one on top of the other, near the bottom.
  11. Now roll.  take the bottom of the roll and gently fold it over your ingredients, tucking it under everything. Continue to roll gently but tightly till you are only left with the 1 inch empty part.  Wet the end of the nori and finish rolling.  You may need to go over the seal with a small amount of water just to give it a better seal!
  12. If you want to make “inside out” sushi simply cut 1/4 off of your nori sheet.  Wet hands and completely fill your sheet with rice.  Place some plastic wrap on top and gently smooth it out.  Flip over!  You then begin to pile your ingredients the same way, except on the seaweed side, not the rice side. You will not need your sushi mat for this because the plastic wrap is helpful for this.  Roll the same way as stated above.  Once you get to the sealing part continue to roll all the way; The rice seals it off so no water is needed!  Once rolled smooth and even it out, unwrap and roll in sesame seeds if you like.
  13. Using a sharp, wet knife begin to cut into about 8 pieces.  Wet your knife every time you feel the rice is starting to become to sticky.
  14. For spicy mayo just combine mayo, sriracha, and sesame oil.  Adjust to your liking.
  15. ENJOY!!

Thanks to my friend who runs The Smiling Fool blog, he was a big help and learned a lot!  Check him out when you get a chance.

Simple, white sandwich buns.

First I’d like to tell everyone that my brother and I have been watching, and talking about 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons lately…You know the ones people got up on Saturday mornings to watch.  They don’t compare to the really BAD ones you see on television these days.  Some of them include: Johnny Bravo, Teen Titans, T.M.N.T, and Ruby Gloom.  In fact, I just finished watching an episode of Ruby Gloom and I smiled through the whole thing.  It’s so dark, yet so happy!  I highly recommend taking a trip down memory lane via old cartoons, you wont regret it.
Alright so here we go!
Bread, something nobody bakes anymore.  It’s a lost art because of how easy to buy it at the grocery store.  I’ll be honest with you all, I even buy my bread at the store.  However every once in a while I’ll roll up my sleeves, cover myself head to toe in flour, and think to myself “how come I don’t do this more often”.  The smell is what gets me, there’s nothing better than baking your own bread and having that mouth-watering smell waft through your home.  Now add your Saturday morning cartoons and you’re having the best weekend of your life.

Yields: 6-8 buns.    Prep time: 3ish hours.    Baking time: 20 minutes (or until golden).

Equipment:
Stand mixer with hook attachment (Or knead by hand).
Measuring cups and spoons.
Medium/large bowl.
Baking pan.
Dish cloth or plastic wrap.
Pastry brush.
Small bowl.
…and of course an oven.

Ingredients:
3 3/4 cups bread flour (all-purpose can be used).
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast.
2 teaspoons fine salt (I used fine sea salt)
1 teaspoon white sugar.
13 fluid oz warm water. (You can find fluid ounces on a liquid measuring cup)
Butter or coating the pan.
1 egg for brushing buns before going into the oven.

Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350/400 degrees.
2. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar together.  Let sit till yeast creates a foamy looking texture on top.
3. In stand mixer bowl combine flour and salt.  Add the water/yeast mixture to the flour on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes.
4. Continue to mix on the second lowest speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough comes together and is smooth.
5. Knead on counter surface (no flour needed) to create a ball shape. Oil your medium-sized bowl and place dough ball inside.  Place on top of the oven(or in a warm area) to rise, placing a dish cloth on top or wrapping bowl with plastic wrap.
6. Once dough is double in size punch the dough down and knead for a minute or two.
7. Cut dough into even sections and tightly roll into smaller balls.
8. Place small dough balls in a buttered baking pan.  Slightly and gently press each one down (this creates that flatter appearance you need for a sandwich bun).  Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap again and let rise till double its size (about 20 minutes).  Brushing butter on top of each roll before you put it to rise a second time will help the dough stay moist.
9. Once double in size brush each roll with egg wash, this will help the rolls turn that nice golden colour.
10. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes OR until golden.  Let rest till cool enough to handle.
11. ENJOY!!

**Note, I did not brush mine with egg wash, that is why they look so pale.

Glazed, spiced orange cheesecake.

Remember about a month ago I went through a preserving obsession?  Well it’s time to use those preserved items.  Don’t worry though, it wont be one right after another;  I’ll keep it random.  I’ve been contemplating what to do with each preserved citrus fruit, and I’m positive everyone could enjoy a spiced orange cheese cake.
A little slice of heaven can go a long way in cheering any person up.  When I mean a little slice of heaven, I really mean some form of dessert that tastes so gosh darn delicious you melt.  Which is what this cheesecake is, something so delicious I melted after consuming the first bite.

This is going to be an extra long read, because of all the different recipes and steps you have to go through.  So I’m sorry if it seems like an eternity.

**The post was delayed because my cheesecake was not cold enough to cut till after midnight!  So I thought the best thing to do was to wait till Monday.  This way I could take some photos for everyone to enjoy.

Equipment:
Stand mixer with paddle attachment (Or a bowl, whisk and rubber spatula).
Measuring cups and spoons.
Wooden spoon/rubber spatula.
A spring form pan OR whatever you can bake a cake in.
Baking pan for water bath.
Small/Medium pot.
Whisk.
Spoons for tasting.
Knife.
Cutting board.
Something for straining, such as a small colander.
2 small bowls.
Food processor/blender.
Aluminum foil, and parchment paper.

Ingredients: (Filling)
2 bricks of cream cheese (about 16oz).
2 tbsp sour cream.
1/2 cup of white sugar.
4 eggs.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1/2 cup pickled, spiced oranges (JUST THE FLESH/no peel, finely chopped or pureed; Keep the liquid)
Zest of 2 oranges.
1 tsp cinnamon.

Ingredients: (Crust)
1/4 cup granola (Plain or honey).
1 3/4 cups Graham crackers (Plain or honey, I used honey).
1/4 cup unsalted butter (More if needed).

Ingredients: (Spiced, orange caramel glaze)
1/2- 3/4 cup juice from spiced oranges.
1/2 cup water.
1 cup white sugar.
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter.

Method:
1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
2.Open your pickled, spiced oranges, strain making sure to save the juice (Set juice aside for later).
3. Peel the oranges flesh from the peels and finely chop or puree. You won’t need the peels so you may toss them in the compost.
4. Soften cream cheese by mixing in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
5. Combine sour cream and sugar.  Continue to mix on a lower speed.
6. Mix in eggs, vanilla, chopped spiced oranges, orange zest and cinnamon.  Quickly combine together being careful not to over mix.
7. Place mixture in fridge till ready to use.
8. In a food processor or blender chop granola till roughly fine. If your graham crackers are also whole do the same thing. ( I just bought graham cracker crumbs.) Combine the two ingredients.
9. Soften or melt the butter and mix with the crust mixture.
10. Butter your spring form or cake pan, place a piece of parchment on the bottom that nicely fits it.
11. Evenly spread crust mixture on the bottom of the pan, making sure to pack it tightly.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until it looks golden.  Once done, let cool.
12. If using a spring form pan wrap the bottom and up around the sides with aluminum foil.  This will keep batter from either leaking out and/or, stop the water from entering;  If you choose to directly put the pan in a water bath.
13. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.  Lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any air trapped inside.  Place a water bath in the oven to keep the cheese cake from cracking.  This method can be done by placing the two on different racks OR, by placing the cake pan directly into a water bath; Where the water is no higher than 1/2 of the cake pan.  Bake in oven at 350 degree for 20-30 minutes, or when knife/toothpick comes out clean.  Once done let cool at room temperature.
14. Combine juice from spiced oranges, water and sugar in a pot.  Bring up to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
15. Stirring occasionally letting it reduce till it becomes thicker (About 20 minutes).  Whisk in butter.  Let cool till slightly warm.  (Keep an eye on it, it will bubble over!!)
16. Cut cheesecake and pour glaze over each piece and serve, OR over entire cake before cutting.  Add whipped cream if desired! ENJOY!!

Squash- Tips and tricks.

Squash, often overlooked in grocery stores or only used during the holidays.  A lot of the time when I do see a squash in people’s fridges it has been there for weeks maybe months on end looking pretty; Till of course it gets to mouldy and needs to be thrown away.  Even though I love squash, I even find myself passing by the brightly coloured display next to the onions and potatoes.  Why? because they take FOREVER to cook.  You don’t need to keep a constant eye on them, and it surely takes no effort.  However for some reason it taking over an hour to roast seems painful; When I can just eat something at that very moment, or at least sooner.
Lately I’ve been buying squash though.  I’m starting to make myself eat more of a variety while I am at home, instead of waiting till I go to work.

In this entry I’ll be posting: different ways you can cook a squash, different types of squash, and different ways to enjoy it.

There are many types of squash, most can be prepared the same way.  However there is one in mind where roasting seems to be the only way.  The squash I’m talking about is the spaghetti Squash! When cooked it creates a stringy texture which gives it the “spaghetti” appearance.  The best way to cook it I find is by roasting.  Once cooked you can do whatever you want with it.  Saute in a pan with butter and seasonings, put it in a salad…you name it.
A list of some other squash are: Butternut, acorn, buttercup, red kuri, turban, etc..  The list could go on but I think you get the hint there are many.

For roasting you could cut the squash in half, take the seeds out and rub flesh with salt, pepper (whatever seasoning you like) and some oil…sometimes I like to use maple syrup.  Place them on a baking sheet flesh facing down and roast in oven at 350 degrees till somewhat soft. Then turn squash over so flesh is facing upwards.  Place back in often till finished cooking, this will give it a nice flavour and should be slightly golden.
Another way you could roast is by peeling and cutting the squash into chunks, and boiling the pieces in salted water like you would a potato. Once almost cooked, strain water.  Coat in oil and seasonings, place on baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees till golden.
To saute and caramelize them in a pan you would first have to boil it the same way as you were to roast them.

**Tip** By placing flesh face down first it gives a “steaming” effect.  This will allow it to cook before it starts to burn, same goes for boiling first.

There are many things you can put squash into, including desserts and lattes!  One of my favourite ways to enjoy squash is in pasta. A creamy non tomato based lasagna is so delicious when squash is involved, same goes with ravioli. Another way to enjoy it is in salad, caramelized squash with a fantastic vinaigrette based salad can be to die for.  How about a vegetarian sandwich? Soup, everyone loves a butternut squash soup.  It’s also really enjoyable stuffed inside some pork tenderloin with cranberries.   Heck, I even enjoy squash on its own. In fact I ate spaghetti squash today for lunch, with just some salt and cracked black pepper on top. Sometimes it’s nice keeping it simple, that’s for sure.

Well there’s my rant about squash, I hope you learned something from it!

Oh and to everyone in Nova Scotia right now, hope you’re enjoying the blizzard!  …Because I’m not.

images

Some squash for you!

 

How to- Stocks and broths.

As I sit here writing, sipping on my Baileys tainted coffee I contemplate whether or not stock and both are the same.  A stock, often used in many sauces, soups and bases for countless dishes.  A broth, used to make soups and so many timeless culinary experiments.  It also sounds well, better; On a menu you would say, poached with “spiced pork broth” not “spiced pork stock”. These words are interchangeable, making food items and menus sound more tasteful and more desirable to eye when read.
If you think about it both stocks and broths start off the same, slowly simmering on the stove for hours with a variety of items such as; bones, vegetables, meats, some herbs and peppercorns.  However there are slight differences to consider when being technical about something.
The definition of a stock is bones/seafood shells(and meat if you want), vegetables, and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours. The definition of a broth is meat or vegetables and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours.
What’s the difference?  It’s the bones, broth contains no bones at all, meaning there will be no gelatin.  This gives a lighter taste, and colour.  Now does this mean someone will be angry at you when you do say “spiced pork broth” yet you used bones to make it?  NO! I would never not use bones unless I was making a vegetable broth, to me it taste a heck of a lot better.  Also like I stated before, these words are interchangeable…and no one follows the definition strictly anyways.

SO, with the stock and broth lesson over here is how you make a delicious stock or broth.  You’ll never have to buy the salty boxed stuff ever again for all your soup and sauce needs.  Also, did I mention it’s super easy to do, takes little effort, and extremely cheap to make?
Scraps can be used to make any stock or broth, such as carrot or onion peelings.  Even though they are normally thrown in the compost they provide plenty of flavouring and can be used instead of using whole items. Saving you money and time.

In the photos I provide I am making a shrimp stock, using shells from the shrimp I peeled at work.  Which turned out to be very delicious and, made an awesome soup for my supper that night.

Equipment:
1 large pot.
Cutting board.
Knife.
Container (for storage).
Colander or strainer of sorts.
Ladle.

Ingredients: (for stocks)
Enough bones/shells to fill your pot almost 3/4 full. (you may use some scarp meat if you like)
A bunch of herbs.  Such as: thyme, parsley or rosemary. (If desired)
Onions/leeks. (peels are welcomed)
Carrots. (peels welcomed)
Celery. (washed)
Some whole peppercorns.
Tomato paste is optional if making a veal/beef stock.
Ingredients: (for broth)
Enough meat and vegetables 3/4 full. (no meat if making vegetable broth)
Herbs if desired.
Whole peppercorns.

Method:
**Because both are made the same way there will only be one method.
1. If you desire a different taste, roast bones and/or vegetables till slightly golden at 350 degrees or higher.   If you are making a veal/beef stock and are using tomato paste, roast bones and vegetables till golden.  Once golden spread paste all over and roast again for about 10 minutes.  You do not have to roast.
2. Place all items in a large pot (including drippings and small bits left on pan!!) and fill with water till just over your ingredients.  Bring up to a boil and quickly bring down to a simmer.  DO NO STIR AT ALL!! How long it simmers depends on what type of stock/broth you are making so here is a list of times.
Chicken stock/broth- No less than 1.5 hours.
Veal/beef stock/broth- No less than 8 hours.
Fish/shellfish stock- 1- 1.5 hours.  No more, no less. (less will be watery, more will be bitter and foggy)
Vegetable broth- at least 1 hour.
3. While simmering and depending on the type of stock/broth you’ll want to skim the fat off the top.  Using a ladle grab the fat the floats on top throughout the whole time it’s simmering. By doing this it will become less bitter and of course less fatty.
4. Take off heat and strain into your desired container, leaving no small bits.  Let cool.  End product should be clear and have plenty of flavour.
5. ENJOY!!