Kate's Cuisine

Sep 01 2014

Marinated Bocconcini

Bocconcini

I fell in love with bocconcini cheese many moons ago, when I was still a teenager working in a restaurant kitchen in my hometown. Bocconcini is really just fresh mozzarella and you’ll find that it comes in a shape that falls somewhere between an oval and a square (unless you buy the really tiny pearl bocconcini, when it then – fittingly – takes on the shape of a pearl.) The term “bocconicini” means “little bites” in Italian, and while it’s delicious all on its own, marinating them like this provides an extra oomph to any dish you’re adding them to, and can also be a great stand-alone appetizer when entertaining.

5 – 8 bocconcini, cut in half (you can do more or less depending on how many you need) $2.49
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped $0.25
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped $0.45
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped $0.20
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped $0.10
1/4 cup olive oil $0.12
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar $0.44
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $4.07

1.) After chopping the herbs, leave them on the cutting board and add salt and pepper. (You can transfer them to a bowl or plate if you wish, but I find you lose less herbs if you don’t move them.) Mix the herb mixture thoroughly and then roll the bocconcini halves, one by one, in it, being sure to thoroughly coat all sides. Place bocconcini in a container that can be closed with an airtight lid, but leave it open for now.

2.) Place the balsamic vinegar in a bowl and, while quickly whisking, slowly add the olive oil. When dressing is mixed and slightly thickened, pour over the bocconcini in the container. Do not shake or roll the bocconcini in the dressing, just let it sit. The cheese will absorb some of the dressing, and moving them too much in the liquid can cause them to lose a lot of the herb mixture.

3.) Place the lid of the container on tight and leave the bocconcini in the fridge for two hours to absorb all the flavours.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 31 2014

Recipe Roundup

Recipe Round Up

I haven’t been doing these Recipe Roundups for all that long, but since their inception I’ve mainly stuck to the great recipes I regularly find on Twitter. Today we’re going to switch things up a bit and focus on YouTube – and there’s a lot of good stuff there! I’ve included my favourite celebrity chefs for this first YouTube edition of Recipe Roundup, with one special video at the end that wasn’t created by a celebrity, but right here in my own kitchen. Included in all the videos are great recipes, tips and tricks, and even a song in one, making this one of the best Recipe Roundups yet!

Gordon Ramsay has been one of the chefs that inspires me for years now, and I’ll watch him just about any chance I get. This video is lengthy, running for nearly half an hour, but I promise you, it’s worth it!

And isn’t this video from Jaime Oliver appropriate this Labour Day long weekend? As we all watch the summer wind down and try to capture the last few moments of it, Jaime “Cooks Summer” in the great outdoors and always, seems to have a blast doing it!

Chef Michael Smith was one of the celebrity chefs I first started watching when I became really serious about cooking. The tips and tricks that he’s got, plus his vast knowledge of food, make the kitchen seem approachable for anyone just starting out at the stove. This tip he’s created, opening a bottle of wine, I think tops my list of favourites.

Speaking of the first chefs that got me inspired, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Chef Lynn Crawford. I first saw her on “Restaurant Makeover” but have since taped her Christmas special, most episodes of “Pitchin’ In,” and just about anything else I know will have an appearance by her. This video of hers though might be my most favourite – a great Canadian chef talking about Canadian food, and what also makes it so great.

When I first came across this in my search for great videos, I thought at first that it was mocking the great Julia Child. But in actuality, it’s just putting a new “spin” on her that is highly entertaining – and that will get stuck in your head for at least 12 hours. I’m so glad I came across it, I watch it all the time now.

And lastly, I finish up by bringing you my very own YouTube video. It was created in an effort to win a contest held by Kraft Canada, and although I didn’t win the grand prize, I still made it into the Top 10 contestants from all of Canada, and that’s says something, I think! It also makes me an official YouTuber and now that I’ve done it, you might just see more videos like it in the future!

Aug 30 2014

How to Make Your Own Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder

The other day I wanted to try a new chicken wing recipe my mother had sent me. Reading through it while checking all my cupboards to make sure I had all the ingredients, I was disheartened by the fact that I had no garlic powder, an important ingredient I needed for the rub they’d soak up for a few hours before being tossed on the grill. Not wanting to give up on the entire idea altogether, I did remember that I had about five bulbs of garlic sitting in another cupboard. And then the idea struck! Make your own garlic powder! I don’t have a dehydrator, but I am not to be stopped when I get an idea in my head (especially if I’m in the kitchen when it strikes) and so onward I went – on a mission to make my very own garlic powder using fresh garlic. I only used one head of garlic (after all, I didn’t really know how this little experiment was going to turn out,) and that, I was hoping, would give me the amount of garlic powder I would need for  my recipe. It did; it yields about 3 – 4 tablespoons. If you want more though, just use more garlic. I promise you, this really works!

1 head of garlic    $0.33

Total cost    $0.33

1.) Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (mine was 170 degrees Fahrenheit.) Peel and slice the garlic very thinly. Make sure that you get them all to about even thickness so that they can all dry evenly and you won’t have some very dry pieces and others that are still moist and soft in the middle when they’re done cooking.

2.) Place all the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. (My one head fit onto one baking sheet, but of course use more than one if you  need to. The single layer is VERY important here, as the garlic will not dry out if it’s covered by other pieces of garlic.)

3.) Place the baking sheet in the oven and slowly cook and dry them out for about 2 hours (for one head,) checking on them every 30 minutes or so. You will know when they’re ready to be taken out of the oven when they are extremely dry and brittle. It’s okay if the edges turn slightly brown during this process but for the most part, they should remain white.

4.) When garlic is finished drying, remove from the oven and place into a blender or food processor. While my processor usually wins out, I chose the blender this time as the bowl of the processor is simply too big and I wondered if it would be able to get at all the garlic inside. If I do it again using more heads of garlic, I’ll likely use the processor. Process or blend until the garlic is completely broken down into a powder – and watch your face when you take that lid off; there’s a lot of dust! Remove any large bits that did not break down and/or are still moist.

5.) Use and enjoy!

Aug 29 2014

The Science of Baking: Infographic

Just a couple of days ago here on the blog we were talking about cake flour, and how you can use some all-purpose with just a bit of cornstarch to substitute for it. Do y’all remember that? I even said in the post that “I don’t know how this works, but some type of science happens.” Okay, that might not have made me look so smart, but if you want to look smarter when talking about baking – and the actual science behind it – you need to check out this infographic brought to you by Shari’s Berries.

The infographic breaks down everything for you from the different flours used (and why,) to leavening agents to sugars and salts and even more. By learning more about all of these ingredients, and what they’re actually doing to your baked goods once in the oven, you can actually learn how things work, and why all or some of these ingredients are needed for your baked goods. And once you know that, you’ll know everything you need to produce baked goods that are worthy of the best bakery, and it will have come right out of  your own kitchen.

Guide to Baking

Aug 28 2014

Skillet Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

Roasted chicken and roasted vegetables are two things that go together beautifully – a classic pairing, you might say. But what if you roast these two things separately, and then bring them together in a sauce that binds them together in perfect harmony? Good things, my friend, good things.

4 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts $8.47
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided $0.12
1 cup white wine $2.42
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar $0.42
2 tablespoons sugar $0.02
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges $0.56
1 onion, cut into wedges $0.47
5 cloves garlic, whole $0.05
1 tablespoon fresh parsley $0.03
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $12.58
Cost per serving $3.15

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss tomato wedges, onion wedges, and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Place this mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet (or a sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper) and place in the oven. Roast for about 15 – 20 minutes, until everything starts to carmalize and tomatoes are slightly softened. Once everything is done, remove entire baking sheet from the oven and set aside. Keep the oven on at the same temperature.

2.) While vegetable mixture is roasting, start the chicken. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to a cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, place chicken into the skillet, bone-side up. Sear the chicken for 3 – 5 minutes on one side, then flip when it is golden brown. Turn heat off the skillet and place the entire skillet, uncovered, in the oven. Roast chicken for 30 – 40 minutes, until juices run clear and chicken is completely cooked through.

3.) When chicken is fully cooked through, remove skillet from the oven. Transfer cooked chicken breasts to a warm platter and cover with a lid or aluminum foil to keep warm.

4.) Place the skillet back onto the stove over medium-high heat. When the juices and oil still in the skillet are bubbling, add the wine and balsamic vinegar and scrape to loosen brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring entire mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for about 2 minutes and then lower heat to medium so that it’s just at a simmer before adding sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Let sauce simmer until it’s reduced by about half, and is slightly thickened.

5.) Add chicken and roasted vegetables back to the skillet and turn so that everything becomes covered in sauce. Let cook for about 3 more minutes, just so that everything can become warmed through again.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 27 2014

Cake Flour Substitute

Cake Flour Substitute

Walk down the “baking” section of any grocery store and you will quickly become dazed and confused just looking at all the different types of flours that are on the shelves. There’s of course, all-purpose, but there’s also bread flour, cake flour, whole wheat flour, and if you go one step further, chick pea flour, almond flour, quinoa flour, and a host of others. And it seems, the more you cook and bake, the more you need to have at least several different types of flour in your pantry. And if you’re a real stickler about following recipes word for word, you can quickly eat up a large portion of your grocery budget if you buy them all. That’s why today, I’m here to tell you about one flour that has an easy substitute - cake flour.

Cake flour is used for more than just cakes. It’s also used in many tart and pie recipes, and any other recipe that calls for a lighter flour than all-purpose. But if you want to cut back on the plethora of flours in your cupboard, you can, just by using all-purpose with a bit of cornstarch in the mix.

I thought I already had this substitute in the page “Common Kitchen Substitutions” page that’s on the site. But when I went back to check, I was surprised that the only cake flour substitution was “1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons.” That’s true, up to a point. When using all-purpose as a substitute for cake flour, you do need to measure out 1 cup of all-purpose and then remove two tablespoons and put them back in your flour jar. But, you need to replace those 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I don’t know how this works, but some type of science happens once the heat hits that mixture and it makes the flour mix lighter and fluffier than all-purpose alone would. And it really does work! I used this substitute when I made my Lemon Zucchini Bread, and it was the moistest, lightest dessert bread I’ve ever made.

So there ya go, your new cake flour substitute that will work, and that will give you all the flour you need while buying less of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a page on my site that needs fixing…..

Aug 25 2014

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

I’ve been baking a lot this summer. I don’t really know why that is, as I’ve always considered myself someone who loves to cook – that is, fry, saute, roast meat and vegetables and barbecue – but has always been a bit of a klutz when it comes to baking. But this year, it’s been going okay for me, leading me to do more and more of it. The problem is, my dear husband doesn’t like too much of what I bake. He’s not big on zucchini bread at all, and even when I made strawberry rhubarb pie he snubbed his nose at it and asked if I could make just a plain strawberry pie the next time the urge to bake rushed over me. It didn’t happen until we celebrated an anniversary in August, and it was a hit! In fact, the best dessert I’ve ever made, he said. I think part of what made it so good was the pie crust I used.

I don’t know what happened with this pie crust. I used the same ingredients I usually do, and even used the food processor like I’ve been doing the last few times I made it. But when I made this one using The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, it just turned out…better. I don’t know why. Maybe the humidity was just right that day, or maybe the Spirit of Martha was with me when I made it. Either way, it helped bring the entire pie together in a beautiful way and made it even more phenomenal.

For the pie crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting $0.35
1 teaspoon salt $0.01
1 teaspoon sugar $0.01
1 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces $0.89
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water Free!
1 egg yolk $0.20
1 tablespoon heavy cream $0.05

For the filling:

5 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered $6.00
1/4 cup cornstarch $0.18
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar, according to sweetness of strawberries $0.12
1/8 teaspoon salt $0.01
1 teaspoon vanilla extract $0.22
1 tablespoon lemon juice $0.30
Whipped cream, optional $1.00

Total cost $9.34
Cost per serving $1.16

1.) Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube with the machine running, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.

2.) Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces and place on 2 separate sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten and form two disks. Wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using (you’ll only need 1 disk for this recipe, so you can freeze the other for up to a month to use later.)

3.) Roll out pie dough to fit pie dish. Gently press dough down into the dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. Then use a knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to trim dough to within 1/2″ border of the edge of the dish. Fold edges of the dough underneath itself, creating a thicker, 1/4″ border that rests on the lip of the dish. Then, crimp edges.

4.) Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust with a fork to prevent air pockets or bubbles forming while baking. Line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil, being sure to push the foil against the edges of the crust. Then, fill foil with dried rice, dried beans, or pie weights. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

5.) Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

6.) Make egg wash by mixing egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Then, remove ice, beans, or pie weights and foil from pie crust. Brush bottom and sides of crust with egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool crust completely before filling.

7.) Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan and mash until they are slightly chunky. Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and glaze has thickened; 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely.

8.) Combine remaining 3 cups of strawberries with cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until strawberries are well coated. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled pie crust.

9.) Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Just before serving, top with whipped cream, if using.

10.) Serve and enjoy!

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