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Spätzle with Beer-Cheese Sauce and Sauteed Onions

19 Aug

This is for my darling Aunt Rhoda. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Spätzle, [sh-pay-tzel] is a dish that was introduced to me when I was four or five years old from my German AuPair Tanja when she was living with us. Essentially, spätzle is a soft dough pasta, similar to the Italian gnocchi but made from a mainly flour base rather than potatoes (gnocchi). If you like gnocchi, you’re likely to be a spätzle fan. It became a go-to in our household when Tanja was living with us. Back then, I was a terribly picky eater. Spätzle was my dish of choice.

More recently during a bout of nostalgic cook-book searching, I came across an old German cookbook with my sister and cousin and we decided to make some spätzle, it just made too much sense. It was our favorite and we hadn’t eaten it in years.

To be honest, I did a double take on the sauce. The sauce pictured is not the same sauce that I’m writing for the recipe here, but either way it will look the same. Part of cooking is trying things out, messing up, reformatting the recipe for the next time, and learning from mistakes. The recipe I used said to just pour cream all over the spätzle, then top with cheese and then onions. It was too bland to me, so I put in an open beer from the fridge. Problems? The cream, beer and cheese didn’t get cook together and therefor never gained the creamy consistency I was hoping for.  The sauce that I made in this recipe is more of a bechámel-like white sauce with sharp cheddar cheese and less beer than the original version I made.

When we make it we use this amazing spätzle-dough press gifted to use from Tanja. Nevertheless, some kinds of potato presses could work for this job, or after making the dough I’m about to describe you can alternatively roll out the dough and form it into small dumplings which you will boil the same way you boil the spätzle dough.

So, let’s get cooking!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound of flour (around 3 cups)
  • 3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for an omelet or something!?), and one whole egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • a dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  • water if necessary to form into a dough

For the Sauteed onions:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • garlic

For THE {Beer-Cheese} SAUCE you’ll need:

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk /cream (whole milk would be best)
  • 4T stout beer
  • dash of salt, pepper, and cardoman
  • LOTS of cheese, we used around 8oz of cheddar and shredded it.

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour and eggs in a mixer with a dough hook or with your hands.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend for several minutes.
  3. Dough should form, it should be a bit sticky but manageable.
  4. Then, in a large pot, bring about a gallon of water to boil with salt. If you don’t have a spätzle press, you’ll probably want to roll out your dough and make little dumplings which are slightly larger than gnochi dumplings. When the water has boiled, you can start to get your spätzle cooking.
  5. Over boiling water, get your cousin David who’s really strong to help you by squeezing the spätzle through the press into the water, and help him by cutting the dough from the press so it will fall in the boiling water.
  6. Within three minutes, the spätzle should float and be finished. You can take it out using tongs or a sieve thing like the one in this picture!
  7. Fish out your Spätzle and place in a dish like the one pictured. When you’ve made all your dough, you can move on to make the yummy bechámel-like sauce.
  8. For the sauce, cook the butter in a small saucepan until melted, and then carefully dust flour in little by little, whisking it with the butter.
  9. Once all the flour has been added, you’ll have a roux! Add the milk in a slow stream, constantly whisking it into the roux.
  10. Let this mixture come to a boil and thicken up, and add the spices. After it has been boiling for several minutes and the mixture sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, you know you’re ready. Add the beer. Then, add the cheese!
  11. Sauté some onions in butter and garlic. Set aside.
  12. Pour the cheese mixture all over your spätzle in the dish. Top it with the sauteed onions and fresh salt and pepper. Add some sausage if you like! Enjoy!

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French Onion Soup Portobello Burger

19 Aug

So I know what you’re thinking. Soup-burger? It really makes no sense, but it will. Allow me to explain.

I love french onion soup. It’s one of the unhealthiest of all soups, there’s tons of cheese, buttery-sauteed onions and a whole bunch of bouillon. It’s delicious for those reasons. I also love mushrooms. While there’s not a whole bunch of bouillon in this recipe, its essentially french onion soup, less broth, and the bowl is the portobello mushroom. One served on a bun, I thought that rather than making any dear lettuce or tomato get soggy from all the sauciness of the mushroom, that it would all taste best by serving it with cole slaw. I thought it paired phenomenally.

I hope you love it. Serves 2.

You’ll need:

  • 2 Portobello mushroom
  • 2 burger buns
  • 1/2 of 1 onion, sliced in thin strips
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • sage or rosemary for sprinkling
  • 1-2 T butter
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • cole slaw
  • Gruyere cheese (2 slices)

For THE SAUCE you’ll need:

  • 1-2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T beef or chicken broth
  • Optional: a taste of a stout or dark beer

Directions:

  1. In a pan over medium-high heat, cook butter until its a bit browned (this gives it a delicious nutty taste), turn heat to medium and add minced garlic and sliced onions.
  2. Cook until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add THE SAUCE and allow to sauté for several minutes.
  4. Remove onions from pan but save THE SAUCE for the portobello mushrooms!
  5. Place the [cleaned] portobello mushrooms in greased pan that has a lid over medium heat. Pour THE SAUCE from the onions over the mushroom and lid it for several minutes to allow the mushroom to enter its sauna-of-savory-sauce state. After several minutes check the mushroom.
  6. When its nice and tender, top the mushroom caps with a bit of sea salt and pepper, sage/rosemary. Then, fill the caps with the sauteed onions and top with Gruyere cheese.
  7. When the cheese has melted, remove the mushroom caps and place them on toasted buns with whatever condiments you would like. Add coleslaw and top with the bun.
  8. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Green Beans with Honey and Sesame Seeds

13 Jul

I love Asian Fusion. I think its because this past year I lived in China Town and my closest grocery stores were all Asian grocery stores. Whether or not that was the case, my roommates and I have found out honey goes well on EVERYTHING, including Asian dishes. We’ve made these beans with a butter-honey and slivered almond type of dressing, but in the spirit of our Asian Fusion dinner I decided to go with the sesame seeds.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb of green beans
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2T honey
  • many sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, throw the green beans in and blanch them for about 3-5 minutes. Pour them out over a collander or seive and set aside to cool for a moment.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, warm the butter and garlic until melted. Add honey. Then, add green beans.
  4. Toss the green beans in the melted butter and honey mixture for several minutes. Once the mixture has covered the green beans, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Better yet, serve with scallops!

Seared Scallops in Creamy Peanut Sauce with Cranberries and Pine nuts

9 Jul

My darling aunt Jen has recently been appointed as a federal judge. (Go aunt Jen!). For the past month or so, my aunt and my cousin Steve have been living nearby so that aunt Jen could get trained as a federal judge. Likewise, we’ve had more family time to enjoy each others company and do fun things like go out to dinner, brunch, and lunch. In fact, last week we went out to celebrate her judgeship by getting lunch at a fun Spanish restaurant. I got some gazpacho and bacalao (cod fish, something I’ve been dying to try because from what I can gather from Profesora Manuela [my Portuguese Professor], Portuguese  people basically eat bacalhau for breakfast lunch and dinner). Well, I’ve never had either bacalao (Spanish for cod) or bacalhau (Portuguese for cod, yes the two languages ARE different), but either way, I had to try the bacalao because it was on this menu… it was served with a white cream sauce and grapefruit? Interesting eh? It was fabulous. This Spanish restaurant was really good with adding hints of different flavors, savory and sweet, sour and salty…. genius.

Well get this, they served my mom a dish with scallops, peanut sauce (we think), raisins, and pine nuts. It was to DIE for. First moment we had to recreate it, we did. My mom bought the scallops and said “attack”. So, this is me trying to attack and recreate what was served to her, and the panel judges (my parents) enjoyed it quite a bit. Hope you do to.

Aunt Jen, congratulations on becoming a federal judge! I know you love seafood, hope you like this recipe too.

You’ll need:

  • 14-15 scallops
  • sesame seeds
  • butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup of pine nuts
  • 1/8 cup of crasins/rasins/whatever you desire
  • Parsley or cilantro to garnish

For THE {Creamy Peanut} SAUCE You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of peanut sauce
  • 1 T dark liquor, we used Pimm’s
  • 2 T cream (half and half worked great)
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 t cider or rice vinegar
  • dash of lime
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Directions:

  1. In a pan on medium heat, warm butter and garlic until fragrant
  2. Pour sesame seeds onto a plate and place scallops in the sesame seeds, coating either side
  3. Place in the butter pan and sear until it gains a browned coating
  4. Next, place cranberries and pine nuts in the pan with additional butter and cook them. Add some brown sugar if you would like to caramelize the pine nuts and cranberries. Set aside.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce.
  6. Finally, in a pot or in the same pan, warm up the mixture and allow to thicken slightly, and remove from heat.
  7. Serve your scallops with the cranberry-pine nut garnish and creamy peanut sauce. Side of beans would do it well too. Add parsley and enjoy!

Citrus Summer Greek Dressing

19 May

I saw something like this at a local grocery store in a sampling station. Using my trusted taste buds I tried to recreate it the best I could. Here it is!

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Naan and Sundried Tomato Egg Breakfast

19 May

I made this as kind of an egg casserole that you can make the night before, stick in the fridge and heat up in the morning. It was a hit this morning so I decided to share!

For the egg caserole, you’ll need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, minced
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • salt and pepper

Serve with:

  • toasted Naan bread
  • tzatziki spread

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Mix milk and tomato paste with a whisk until the tomato paste dissolves.
  3. Add eggs and whisk until well blended.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and place in a casserole dish.
  5. Bake for around 35-40 minutes
  6. While baking, toast/broil pieces of naan
  7. Spread tzatziki on naan, and place baked egg on top and serve!

Leek Galette

19 May

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

For the Dough you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup of butter
  • 2 T milk
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t honey
  • Additional flour for sprinkling

For the Filling you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup of tzatziki
  • 1 egg
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

Directions for dough:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Place flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Cut butter and cream cheese into small cubes and place them in the bowl.
  4. Mix well with a hook attachment to a mixer or simply with your hands.
  5. Add milk and honey and continue until you’ve formed a dough.
  6. Spread flour on a cutting board and on rolling pin. Roll out dough until its around 10-12″ wide
  7. Move crust to a baking pan.

For the Filling:

  1. Melt butter and brown sugar in heavy pan over medium high heat
  2. Add leeks and bacon and cook until caramelized
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and tzatziki. When leeks and bacon are cooked, add to the bowl.
  4. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour this thick mixture over the middle of the galette crust and fold crust onto itself.
  6. Place into oven for around 25-30 minutes and serve.

White Wine and Turmeric Mussels

13 Apr

Ohhhh Mussels, so delicious. They’re so easy and fast to make.

Did you know?

Mussels have more iron than red meat.

If you are cutting red meat out of your diet, this is a great option to maintain your iron. Also, at $2 a lb (at least, here in Toronto) they are a relatively inexpensive way to get protein without damaging your wallet.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound of mussels, washed and scrubed

For THE {White Wine Turmeric} SAUCE:

  • 1 cup of white wine (or chicken stock)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 2 t turmeric

Directions:

  1. First, put garlic, butter, and lemon in a large non-stick saucepan on medium heat. Cook until garlic is fragrant and butter is melted.
  2. Then, add the wine/stock to the mixture. I recently found out the key to making these right: When cooking mussels, you need to conserve the natural juices that they release when opened by making sure they are not submerged in liquid.
  3. Carefully, add your mussels into the pot.
  4. Turmeric… I have an unearthly love for this spice. It’s known for turning things yellow, and was used as a dye back in the day. Turns your food yellow too. If you don’t have turmeric, consider purchasing- its the cheap man’s solution to saffron, great for paellas and anything Persian. Also- its just fun. Add some to  your mussels.
  5. All you really have to do now is cover the mussels. Like a nice friend, they’ll open right up for you. If any of the mussels don’t open up to you, they’re bad. Discard them. Only friendly mussels allowed.
  6. Mmmm. They’re ready to serve after they’ve opened, so just pour the mussels with juices into a bowl.
  7. Scoop up some of your broth with each mussel, and enjoy!

Honey-Hollandaise Sauce

13 Apr

I don’t know about all of you guys… but I sure have an affinity for breakfast foods. I love eggs. I decided recently I would make Hollandaise sauce to go with asparagus and for some eggs Benedict latter on.

For THE {Honey-Hollandaise} SAUCE you’ll need:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 T Honey
  • 2 T Dijon Mustard
  • Juice of about 1/4 of a lemon
  • 1t alspice
  • 1t salt

Directions:

  1. Separate your eggs, reserving the egg yolks in a double broiler pot. Use the egg whites for something else, like an omelet or for egg white eggs Benedict, or something of that nature. Perhaps a meringue? There are many options!
  2. Juice the lemon wedge into the eggs, add honey, dijon, melted butter (slowly), and spice and whisk the egg yolk mixture.
  3.  Move to a double boiler, continuing to whisk mixture. Over time, it will thicken and gain a creamier consistency. In the end it should stick to the whisk like this:
  4. Make some Slivered Garlic Potatoes and Blanched asparagus:
  5. And dress it with your freshly made Hollandaise! Makes a great side dish.
    Enjoy!

Green Eggs and Ham

21 Mar

Everyone loves Dr. Seuss. Everyone loves green eggs and ham. If you’ve tried them at least.

This recipe necessitates pesto. That’s how my eggs are green. It’s a fun surprise for kids, and a good laugh for anyone else. Finally, its delicious.

I made this recipe like a breakfast sandwich, but you can make just the eggs with ham if you like. I used prosciutto. Do what makes you happy. Let’s get started!

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