Monday, 29 September 2014

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Phew, time sure does fly, doesn't it? I feel like every time I turn around another month has passed. Summer's over and fall is just starting to set in here in London. We've been lucky and had sunny 20˚C weather for the past two weeks, but apparently that's over starting Friday!

In just three and a half months I'll be making the big move across the globe to Sydney, Australia to start medical school. I can tell ya: it's a bit stressful to plan out. I have expressed many times how I wish someone else could plan everything and I just have to okay it. But, life is rarely that simple or convenient, right?

So on days where the breeze is getting a bit cooler (and maybe you're stressing out about moving to the other side of the Earth), comfort food is a must. To me, comfort food encompasses everything from a big casserole filled with pasta and cheese, to a a simple dish of braised chicken. Today, I have a version of the latter. Behold, the Lowe's Jamaican chicken curry. My mom has been making this for my brother and I for forever, and it's never failed to make me feel warm right down to my toes. This is truly a mother-specialty and I'm super excited to share it. Ridiculously simple, enormously delicious, and perfect for those days when you just want to bury yourself in the couch and marathon TV.

Jamaican Curry Chicken
• 8-12 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/3 package of Grace's Coconut Cream*
• 3 sprigs of thyme
• 3 tbsp Jamaican curry powder (or regular curry powder, if you can't find Jamaican)
• 1/3-1/2 cup of water, depending on how thick you like your gravy
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper
• 2 potatoes, cubed
• Salt and pepper, to taste

*if you can't find Grace's Coconut Cream Block, use 1/3 cup of coconut milk and reduce water to 1/4-1/3 cup

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onions, garlic, coconut, thyme, curry, water, and the scotch bonnet pepper.

Heat a large pot over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom. Add chicken thighs in batches and brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. After all the chicken is browned, add the rest of the curry mix to the pot and simmer with a lid for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add potatoes. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the potatoes and the chicken are fully cooked, season with salt and pepper. If you like your gravy thicker, mix together 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp water to make a slurry and add it to the pot. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Lemon Ginger Oatmeal Cake

It hits me how fast time flies whenever I sit down to type up a post and think: ‘It’s been that long since I’ve written anything?’. I never was very good at keeping a diary; sometimes years would pass before I remembered to write an entry. A blog is a bit easier- you can type for one thing.

It’s finally heated up here in Ontario- we were stuck in the low teens for all of April and most of May. This last week, though, has been perfect; sun, warmth, and only one or two thunderstorms. It’s glorious. My labrador retriever is certainly enjoying the summer weather- in the late afternoon he loves to lay down in a patch of sunlight on our balcony.

Today I have another adaptation of an LCBO Food and Drink recipe. I made this on a whim, mostly because I wanted to bake and we had the ingredients. I’ve wanted to try this for a while now, too. It’s a breakfast cake (though, really, cake can be eaten at any time of day), with oats and bran giving it a wholesome taste. The ginger gives it a nice kick, too. It’s great just out of the oven, but try it toasted the next day- absolutely delicious (especially if you add a dollop of ice cream). You can top it with a simple glaze or nothing at all; I had some cream cheese frosting lying around that I used to do a simple crosshatch. With only half a cup of butter, you can tell yourself this cake is healthy and have an extra big piece for breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all.

Lemon Ginger Oatmeal Cake
Adapted from LCBO Food and Drink Winter 2011
Makes 1 9” round cake

• 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (or 1 tbsp grated frozen ginger)
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 3/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup dried prunes (diced)
• 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup bran (I used PC Fiber Cereal and buzzed it up in a food processor)
• 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar)
• 1 tbsp chopped/grated ginger, for topping.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Butter a 9” cake pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine ginger, 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a small pot over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is melted and the mix is hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add cranberries, prunes and lemon rind. Set aside.

Combine flour, bran, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Beat together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well before each addition. Beat in half the flour mixture, the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried fruit mixture until combined.

Pour batter in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Top with your favourite icing and some grated ginger. Enjoy.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

This winter has a firm hold on us, eh? It's almost April and we have yet to have more than a few days where it's above zero- here in London, we keep going from almost-spring weather back to -10 highs. I'm tired of it! Give me the warmth- I'd take anything above 0.

Sometimes it's hard to get out of bed when it's grey and cold outside. But, having some warm, delicious cinnamon rolls made by your awesome friend sure help matters. Sarah made these rolls last year (they were devoured) and had promised to make them again this winter. I was more than excited to not only help myself to her baking, but also to show off her work here! She ended up making two batches, the first of regular sized buns, then a second with little mini ones (which are adorable). Whatever the size, these buns are beyond amazing, especially when warmed up in the microwave.

Also! The addition of pumpkin makes these rolls about as healthy as you can get them without deviating too far from the comforting dessert that this season makes us crave. Because of the pumpkin, very little butter is used in the recipe. Which means you can eat 2 big buns and not feel guilty. Or so I believe.

Sarah made these rolls with the traditional cinnamon/sugar filling, but really you could put anything in there. It actually could be quite good with a mozzarella/sage filling if you want to go savoury. I'm imagining how that would taste now- maybe I should get Sarah to make just one more batch...

However you do it, next time you're looking for a decadent treat that tastes like a warm hug feels, try out this recipe! You won't regret it.

Sarah's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 24 big rolls, 50 small rolls (depending on how small you go)

• 1/4 cup warm water
• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 3/4 cup evaporated milk
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups pumpkin
• 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
• 1 egg, slightly beaten
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 6-8 cups all-purpose flour

• 1/3 cup butter (melted)
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

• 2/3 cup cream cheese (softened)
• 1/2 cup butter (softened)
• 2 cups powdered sugar

1. Combine water and yeast in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Allow to stand until the yeast starts to bubble (5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the evaporated milk, sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and cinnamon. Add in 4 cups of the flour and stir to combine. Continue adding the flour (1/4 cup at a time) until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes).

2. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until about doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

3. In a small bowl, melt the butter. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Grease two 9” x 13” baking dishes with butter (or non-stick cooking spray).

4. Punch the dough down, then divide into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough out on a floured surface to about a 12” x 16” rectangle. Spread half of the butter on the dough, and sprinkle half of the filling mixture on top. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into equal slices. Transfer the slices to the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

5. Lightly press the rolls down, then cover and allow to rise until almost doubled (about 45 minutes).

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until golden brown (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool.

7. To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until light and creamy. Frost the rolls while still warm.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars

I can't get over how fast 2014 is flying already. I know it's the year of the Horse, but how can it already be March???? Time flies when you actually have things to do I guess!

Apart from working, the fam and I just came back from Jamaica- which was awesome. So warm. It was a bit hard coming back, though. We got so used to just rolling out of bed in our pjs and walking outside. Back here in Canada, it takes at least 5 minutes to just get dressed to weather the cold!

But enough about me complaining of the weather. On to the food! Today I have an awesome recipe that I made back in December but haven't gotten around to posting until now. It's adapted from lcbo's food and drink and I gotta say, it's probably one of the best things I've baked in a while! Shortbread base with a hint of oats, pistachios and cranberries that basically sing Christmas, and just enough decadent salted caramel to bring it all together. I seriously cannot sing enough praise about this bar. I had to exercise all my restraint not to just sit down and eat the whole batch. This one is definitely going to go on the yearly Christmas Goody List. Props, LCBO!

The only change I made was I used ground oats instead of wheat germ, since I didn't have any at the time (read: I forgot to get it at Bulk Barn). Other than that, the recipe can be found on LCBO's site here: Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars. For those of you who haven't heard of LCBO's Food and Drink, check out their site! They have a bunch of amazing recipes.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Showdown Chili

London officially has snow on the ground. We got about 10cm the other day, so not enough to result in any snow days, but enough to have it feeling a lot like Christmas. I wish it was December so I could start celebrating! Starbucks has its Christmas drinks and cups out as well, and I admit to already having a few peppermint mochas.

Though, the snow does make walking the dogs a bit more eventful. Since their hair is so curly, they often get back into the house with huge snow growths on their legs. Zoe gets them really bad and ends up waddling all the way home (which I find hilarious, but then I have to bundle her up in towels and blankets and cuddle her until she defrosts. Which isn't a hardship, really). Today, Sarah got their jackets out and, though I lean more towards big dogs and not dressing your pets up, I gotta say that they looked pretty damn cute.

And what's better to have after a walk on a cold, winter-ish day than a bowlful of chili? I love having a steaming bowl of hot goodness when it's cold outside- nostalgia and comfort and deliciousness. It's even better when your friend buys you a slow cooker for your birthday! So this was my chance not only to make a hot, scrumptious meal, but also to break in my new kitchen toy. The chili recipe I chose to make has been on my to-do list for ages. Has anyone tried recipes from Bite Me? I've done nearly every recipe in their book. I absolutely love it.

Now, as with most chili recipes, you can make it as hot or as mild as you want to. I went more on the mild side this time, as my friend is not a huge fan of so-hot-I-sweat food. However, it's as easy as adding a few more pinches of chili powder or a few more jalapeños if you want to make it hotter. I made my chili in my new, shiny slow cooker, but it'd be just as easy to simmer the stew in a pot over the stove for a good few hours on low heat. Either way, the result is a delicious, belly-warming chili that is bound to get you through the cold days.

Showdown Chili
Adapted from Bite Me
Serves 8 big bowls

• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp chili powder
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
• 1 red pepper, chopped
• 1 green pepper, chopped
• 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 can of pickled jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
• 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can of your favourite baked beans
• 1 3/4 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup mild salsa
• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tsp packed brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 cup canned cream style corn
• shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Put everything into your slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often, until everything is stew-soft and awesome.

For stove top: in a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and all the beans, salsa, vegetable broth, cocoa powder, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every so often. Add corn and serve in bowls with cheese.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Curry Tuna Wraps

Happy Thursday everyone! Can you believe how fast September flew by? I feel like my roommates only just started school days ago, but it's already been two weeks. I graduated last June, so I'm the bum of the house; no job or school, just my medical school applications to do. But! I will be off to Europe in October soon. My friend and I are going to backpack through Italy, France and Spain for 3 weeks. It'll be awesome. I can't wait to try all of the food- pasta, pizza, bakeries, coffee. Ah, it's going to be great.

The weather is really weird here in Ontario. We go from fall weather back to summer humidity over 24 hours. Today it's going up to 30˚C! I don't know what to cook half the time- fall-warming soups or summery salads? I probably should enjoy the warm weather while it lasts, because before you know it that Canadian winter will hit. This week, though, I decided to make a tuna wrap from Chef Michael Smith's book Fast Flavours. Does anyone else absolutely love that man? I think I have all of his cookbooks. They're so great; delicious recipes and huge, colourful pictures. And they're nice and thick, so you get a lot for the price. For those of you who like buying cookbooks but balk at the price, try looking online. Here in Canada, often has cookbooks for half the price online as they do in store.

But more on the food. I was totally impressed with this wrap. I don't often do wraps, don't ask me why, but this one has definitely become one of my favourites. Not only is it extremely easy to buy for and make, it tastes amazing. The curry definitely brings another level to the filling (I tried it without and while it's still good, the curry makes it amazing). The avocado and tuna bring in a lot of good fats. Add some spinach in there and you have quite the healthy meal! I used Miracle Whip with Olive Oil for the wrap. Regular mayo will work fine, but that olive oil mayo is so very delicious that if you haven't tried it, you are definitely missing out! I really recommend this recipe for those who like simple, quick meals that look and taste elegant. Like many of Chef Michael Smith's recipes, this one is a definite must-try!

Curry Tuna Wraps
Adapted from: Chef Michael Smith Fast Flavours (110 Simple Speedy Recipes)
Makes 4 wraps

• 2 cans of your favourite tuna, drained
• 1/2 cup Mayonnaise with Olive Oil
• 2 tbsp green relish
• 1 tbsp curry powder
• 1 avocado, cut into chunks
• 1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
• 4 large whole wheat tortillas
• Salt and pepper to taste
• A few handfuls of fresh spinach

In a medium bowl, mix the tuna, mayonnaise, relish, curry powder, red or green pepper, and salt and pepper. Gently stir in the avocado to combine.

To assemble, lay out the tortillas. Divide the tuna salad among the wraps and top with a small handful of spinach (not too much or you won't be able to wrap it!). Roll each wrap up tightly, folding the sides in as you do. Cut in half and enjoy!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Daring Bakers: Crostate

Phew, this summer has been boiling, hasn't it? Here in Ontario, this season took it's time arriving, giving us cool weather all through May and half of June. The second that summer officially hit, though, it was like someone kicked Mother Nature in the butt and suddenly it was 28 degrees (Celsius, mind) with a humidex of 36. Jesus. Bless air conditioning.

I've been a horrible foodie and neglecting my blog. I have no real excuse. But I promise to attempt to redeem myself and nurse my poor Phenomenom back to health this summer! We have a bunch of food festivals heading our way, so I should have plenty of inspiration.

Today, I come back to the online foodie world with a recipe from the Daring Bakers. Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! :)

I chose fruit pie and went tropical with a mango jam filling. It's a little twist that worked amazingly. This pie is fruity, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day (especially if you scoop on some coconut ice cream!). Try it out yourself- you can use any jam, nut paste or curd (ugh, I was tempted to go curd- a rhubarb curd would be awesome, don't you think?).

The recipe was adapted by our host Rachael from Carol Field's "The Italian Baker".

Italian Crostate with Mango Jam
Filling: You'll need about 2 cups of jam/curd/nut paste for this pie. Use more or less, depending on your own pie. You can make your own, demand a jar of your friend's homemade stuff or buy it. As long as you like how it tastes, go crazy! I used this recipe for mango jam from (I put in saffron and found it a bit overpowering, so next time I'll probably leave it out).

Italian Pie Pastry (Pasta Frolla)
•2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
•1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar
•1 large egg, room temperature
•1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
•grated zest of 1 medium lemon
•1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
•pinch salt

Note: This will make more than you need. Store leftover glaze in a jar in the fridge and reheat before using. It should keep indefinitely.
•1/4 cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam (or any jam, really. I used my mango jam)
•1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2-5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it's lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a shallow 9"/24cm metal pie dish.
7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (2/3 is about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. You can use parchment with a circle traced on it so you can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips (or cut it into shapes, like I did).
15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.
16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides - you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I've done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.