A Spoon Full of Lovin'

One Scoop of Love at a Time

Brussel Sprout mix with Prosciutto — December 29, 2011

Brussel Sprout mix with Prosciutto

I think that we should create a section in our blog that includes simple dinner and veggie ideas so as to ensure that all us hungry and, well let’s admit it, slightly ‘I seem to always be tired when I think of cooking’ students. Being home, I am surrounded by different ideas and ingredients for some delicious dishes. There is nothing like spending an evening in the kitchen, surrounded by family and a glass of wine in hand. Sometimes, I must shield my eyes as my brother is a French chef and insists on adding extreme amounts of butter to everything. But, he happens to be so right because some of these dishes just makes my mouth drop.

As a child, my mother never forced me to eat brussel sprouts. In fact, I didn’t even know what they were until I took my first trip to a Farmers Market in Halifax. I was amazed by the long stalk of buds. I devour almost any green vegetable, and the chance of being introduced to yet another beautiful, leafy green vegetable made me a tad too excited. Although I eat brussel sprouts in any form, including raw, coming home to a kitchen where spoonfuls of butter and love are never too far definitely added a mouth watering element to my typical brussel sprout ways.

Start with a spoonful of butter in a pan that is on medium heat. As my brother would say, wait until the butter stops singing, and then slowly add your ingredients. So, when the butter had settled, we added some sliced mushrooms, onions, and prosciutto. Meanwhile, some brussel sprouts were boiling in a small pot on the side. Adding slight sprinkles of oil to the mushrooms when necessary, you want to make sure that you aren’t making the mushrooms or onions crispy, but soaking them. Essentially, you want to make them a little mushy. When the mushrooms, onions and prosciutto look well soaked, you add in your boiled brussel sprouts, in hopes that they will soak up that nice combination of tastes that have been simmering in your pan. You can adjust your heat and stir constantly, slightly browning the sides of your brussel sprout mixture. Everything should be golden and succulent as you remove the veggies from your pan, onto a fork and directly into your mouth. I suggest you do this while your family is scrambling to set the table and you can enjoy this moment all to yourself. Or, in the spirit of the holidays, you can actually try and wait and share the moment, and brussel sprouts, with your family. I pulled a scrooge with this dish and stole a few bites before announcing they were ready..simply irresistible, it can turn you greedy!

(I forgot to take a picture..this one is generously provided by : http://www.italiansrecipe.com/side-dishes/quick-recipe-deep-fried-brussels-sprouts.html)

Baby it’s cold outside: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirls and Chocolate Chips —

Baby it’s cold outside: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirls and Chocolate Chips

Mmmmmm the holidays. Christmas happens to be one of the only times of the year where you can nap, eat, and read, and of course nap again, all by a fire that is wonderfully and conveniently built by family members that are shuffling around throughout the day.

In my household we love to eat, especially those Christmas sweets! The joys of listening to smooth Christmas jazz as you sway your hips and melt some chocolate is a magical moment (and if you haven’t tried it yet, then you are missing out!) Naturally, I have stuffed my belly with all sorts of different chocolates that are of various shapes and sizes, slowly making myself drunk with sugar and laughter. Luckily, I have a sister who is just as eager to set up the chocolate fondue, although, I somehow end up being the one who chops the strawberries and she seems to be the one who dips and eats them. But, she is a great inspiration during this cold season.

Any excuse to buy more chocolate chips is always a welcome recipe to try. So, my sister and I made a list (checked it twice…and added two more bags of chocolate chips) and set out to whip up some Vanilla Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirl and Chocolate Chips. The tart taste of raspberries is so delicately balanced with semi-sweet chocolate chips and the sweet, smooth taste of real vanilla bean. I practically dove head first into the pot of boiling cream and vanilla bean!

This recipe was provided by Scoop, a book full of ice cream recipes written by Ellen Brown. We also happened to receive an ice cream maker from good ol’ Saint Nicholas, but there are ways to make ice cream like this that are described in the book and do not require the ice cream maker. It’s oh so sweet, and oh so good.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirl and Chocolate Chips

Ice Cream

1 1/3 Cups of Heavy Cream

1 1/4 Cups Whole Milk

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar  (we used Brown sugar)

1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup

1/8 Tsp Kosher Salt

2 Vanilla Beans

3 Tblsp Nonfat Dry Milk Powder

2 Tblsp Cornstarch

1/4 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips

Raspberry Swirl

1 Cup Fresh Raspberries

1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup

1 Tsp Lemon Juice

1 Tblsp Cornstarch

First, in a pot you want to combine your main ice cream ingredients : 1/2 cup milk, whipping cream, sugar, corn syrup and salt. You then slice the vanilla beans length wise and remove the vanilla seeds. Then place the pods in the pot as well and stir it on medium, without boiling it yet.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of your milk, milk powder, cornstarch and the Vanilla extract. When smooth, add this mixture to the steaming pot. Over medium heat, whisk every minute and allow mixture to come to a boil. Once boiling, simmer down to low heat and stir, while allowing the mixture to thicken. When thick enough, we removed the mixture from the heat and placed it in a bowl. You directly cover the mixture with Saran Wrap until it reaches just above room temperature. When this occurs, you can place the mixture in an ice cream maker or proceed to hand make the ice cream.

While in the maker, we made the raspberry swirl. In a saucepan on low heat, you combine the raspberries, corn syrup and lemon juice. Stir until raspberries break apart and it starts to simmer. In a small bowl on the side, mix together the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of water (2-3). Add this mixture to the pan when sauce is sufficiently heated. You want to whisk the cornstarch in fast over medium heat, and this should give you a thick raspberry mixture within one quick minute. If not, whisk briskly until it thickens. Set in the fridge and wait to fold it in to the ice cream.

When Ice cream is frozen, fold in the chocolate chips and raspberry swirl. We only added half of the raspberry sauce and found that it was a perfect amount. Mmmmm it was the perfect dessert!

Warm food for a warm goodbye: Curry Lentil Burgers and Cucumber Peanut Salad — December 15, 2011

Warm food for a warm goodbye: Curry Lentil Burgers and Cucumber Peanut Salad

Our tastebuds become overwhelmed quite easily in our household. The mere mention of Curry, Garlic, Lentils and oh so much more just makes us weak in the knees. Who doesn’t love that tangy taste of roasted garlic? Some of us may take this love too far, spreading awkward stares around the kitchen, while ingesting a raw bulb of garlic. But we don’t judge…no we don’t.

I am one of the only one’s who actually LOVES eggplant. There aren’t many of us out there…and I realise this. But I am absolutely convinced that when the right amount is added and when cooked appropriately, everyone can become an eggplant lover. The way eggplant can soak up oil and crisp around its’ edges is simply marvelous and I vow to include as many eggplant recipes (without overdoing it of course…) in order to surprise your tastebuds one night.

I have always wanted to tackle the task of making a lentil burger. I say it is a task, simply because when you are cooking this beautiful veggie burger for others, it has the tendency to flop outside of its pita bread and reveal its sloppy consistency to your guests. Why are they so hard to make just right? Luckily, I have friends who are willing to eat anything, as long as it tastes good of course. So, in name of our dear roommates departure for the Christmas holidays, we decided to make Lentil Burgers. Not just any lentil burger…an eggplant curry lentil burger. Served with a side of cucumber peanut salad, this night might have been the weakest so far for my knees! Adapted from For the Love of Food: http://www.fortheloveoffoodblog.com/2010/10/lentil-and-eggplant-burger.html

Lentil Eggplant Burgers

1 Large Eggplant

1 cup Whole Wheat Bread crumbs

1/2 Onion, Finely chopped

2 Large Cloves of garlic

1 cup Cooked Lentils

1 tsp Curry Powder

1/4 tsp Coriander

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Agave Nectar

Dash of Salt

*These came out delicious but a tad floppy. You can add a tablespoon of flour or perhaps two tablespoons of oats to try and give them a better consistency.

 

Preheat the oven to 425 F

To prepare the eggplant, soak a pan in oil on medium. Peal the skin off the eggplant, cut it in half length-wise and then cut each half width-wise to create semi-circled shapes that are of medium thickness. Soak them in the oil, on low heat and remove from the pan just when they are beginning to brown. Throw all the pieces into a food processor with your two bulbs of garlic and create an eggplant paste. Try not to make it too runny.

In a separate bowl, mix all of the other ingredients. You can add spice after spice, lentils and onions in any order you want! I added a bit more cumin and it was delicious. When you have mixed all the ingredients in a bowl, add 3/4 of the eggplant puree (you can add the whole thing, it just makes the burgers a bit harder to handle) and mush away with your hands.

On medium heat, place flattened eggplant burgers in a pan. Flip on both sides until slightly brown. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. When you are done frying your burgers slightly, place them on your baking sheet. Place in the oven at 425F for 20 minutes. And voila!

DELICIOUS. If not the burgers, people must make this salad. It was such a great surprise and addition to the meal. This recipe was slightly modified from the original found on http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/cucumber-peanut-salad-recipe.html

Cucumber Peanut Salad

3 Cucumbers

1/2 cup Unsalted, Roasted Peanuts

1/4 cup Coconut Shred

Lime Juice

1-2 Tbl Butter

1/4-1/2 tsp Cumin

Handful Chopped, Fresh Cilantro

Place peanuts on a baking sheet and bake at 300F for 5-10 minutes (or until golden brown).

Peal the three cucumbers and chop them into small rectangle pieces. Throw cucumber pieces in a large salad bowl. Chop Cilantro and add it to the cucumber. Add in the coconut pieces and peanuts.

On low heat, melt butter in a pan. Add the cumin and stir quickly for about a minute or two. Add this mixture to the salad and squirt some lime juice on top. Mix together and enjoy.

As usual, light those dinner candles and pour some wine….indulge.

 

‘Tis the Season… So Let’s Make Shortbread! — December 7, 2011

‘Tis the Season… So Let’s Make Shortbread!

‘Tis the season to bake delicious holiday treats and then eat way too many of them. And this past weekend that is exactly what I did. Meg hosted a wonderful cookie exchange, where so many wonderful people gathered together sat on the floor chatting for hours, eating the most scrumptious cookies, fudge and brownies. For this occasion I decided to make, for the very first time, my great grandmothers shortbread. My mom has made them every Christmas since I can remember and they state like pure brown sugar buttery heaven. They taste like home. I usually am tempted to deviate just a little from recipes but this one is just perfect the way it is. So here is my great grandmother’s shortbread recipe for you! So simple and yet oh so scrumptious.

Great Grandma’s Shortbread Recipe:

½ lb butter (two sticks)

2/3 cup brown sugar (if you don’t have a 2/3 cup it is 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)

2 cups flour

2 tbsp. Cornstarch

When you put all the ingredients into a bowl you will want to cut the butter into small pieces so it’s easier to work into the dry ingredients. It will also be easier if your butter is at room temp.

Roll out on floured surface and cut into shapes. Small cookie cutters work best so the cookie is more evenly cooked. Decorate with cherry pieces, sprinkles or make designs with a fork.

Bake at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes or until slightly brown.

Happy baking!

-L