Thursday, 27 December 2018

Pesto Potato Bread

Leftover mashed potato and a couple of tablespoons of pesto turned into two very tasty loaves of bread...

Using mashed potato in bread keeps the dough soft and light, and it makes the best toast, other than sourdough, in my opinion.

Adding in the last 2 tablespoons of my basil, spinach and arugula pesto gave hints of garlic, basil and peppery arugula, but the bread was not overpowered by the pesto. It was perfect for sandwhiches.

In a small pan, heat until just warmer than body temperature:

1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pour the warm milk over:

1 1/2 cups mashed potato

Whisk to combine.

Whisk in:

2 tablespoons pesto

Whisk in:

1 egg

Set aside until needed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer dissolve the yeast in warm water:

1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water

When the yeast has started to bubble, add the potato and milk mixture, along with:

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix to combine.

With the mixer running on low, add the flour 1 cup at a time, until you have a soft dough.

Continue to add flour until the dough is slightly sticky, and forms a ball around the dough hook.

I used between 5 - 6 cups of flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place.

When the dough has doubled in size, knead lightly and cut into two equal pieces. Form into loaves and place into 2 lightly greased bread pans.

Leave to rise until the dough is even with the top of the pans.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with water and bake for 45 minutes.

The loaves with be crisp and golden on top, and sound hollow when tapped.

Immediately tip the loaves out of the pans and leave to cool to room temperature before slicing.

  • If you do not have leftover mashed potato, boil potatoes in lightly salted water and then drain, reserving the boiling water. Mash the potatoes, measure out 1 1/2 cups and use the reserved water instead of milk.
  • You can use all water instead of part milk.
  • Consider using wholewheat or oat flour for the first 1 or 2 cups of flour.
  • If you have more pesto, you could roll the dough halves into 12" X 18" rectangles, spread the pesto over the dough, sprinkle some cheese over the pesto and roll it up to create a spiral. Bake these as loaves in the pans, or cut into 2" lengths, place cut side down in an ovenproof dish and bake (cinnamon roll style).
  • No pesto...add chopped fresh herbs; grated cheese; fresh or roasted garlic; olive tapenade or caramelized onions.
  • The loaves can be frozen once they are baked and cooled.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Baked Chicken Thighs in a Papaya Seed Marinade

Using up papaya seeds may seem a bit over the top to some people, but I really hate to throw out anything that can be eaten! I have used the seeds to make a salad dressing before (see the post

I have never cooked them before, so decided to make a marinade for chicken thighs. The peppery bite the papaya seeds added to the marinade was amazing; I added no extra pepper. 
Some grape tomatoes that were starting to wrinkle, and 12 asparagus spears were in the fridge, so I added them to the meal, and along with some open white wine, turned everything into a baked chicken dish.

Make the marinade by placing the ingredients in a blender and pureeing until smooth. Place into a resealable plastic bag:

Seeds from half a papaya
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt


7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, making sure that all of the thighs are covered by marinade.

Refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 375F, and have an ovenproof dish ready.

In a hot skillet, using a tiny bit of olive oil, sear the chicken on both sides.

Remove the chicken from the pan when both sides are well browned, and place in the ovenproof dish.

In the same pan, over a medium high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook until just starting to colour:

12 spears of asparagus, cut into 3"lengths
1/2 orange pepper, diced

Remove from the pan and add to the chicken.

Keep the pan on the heat and add:

a large handful of grape tomatoes

Cook, stirring often, until the skins start to blister.
Add to the chicken, asparagus and orange pepper.

Keeping the pan on the heat, add:

1/4 cup white wine

Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to remove the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour the white wine over the chicken and vegetables.

Place into the oven and bake until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I served the chicken and vegetables over a bed of coconut rice and diced avocado. Make sure to give each serving some of the pan juices.

  • Papaya seeds can be eaten straight from the fruit; they can be used to make salad dressing. They can also be washed, and then dried out in a low oven and ground up to use as a seasoning. The peppery bite that the seeds have is lessened  by drying them.
  • Both the papaya fruit and seeds contain an enzyme that helps to tenderize meat.
  • The chicken thighs can also be grilled, along with the vegetables, and served with a salad. If you grill the meat, save the marinade and use it to baste the chicken while cooking.
  • To make the coconut rice, cook 1 cup of basmati rice with 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Caramelized Onion, Cauliflower and Chick Pea Soup

It's been a while since I've posted, but we have been in the middle of moving back into our newly renovated house, with temporary kitchen facilities for a couple of weeks. Combine that with a vacation, and now a newly stocked kitchen and I haven't really had a lot of bits and pieces to use up!

The odds and ends are starting to happen, and this soup was a way to use up the piece of cauliflower in the fridge and the half can of chick peas in the freezer. My husband does not love cauliflower soup as much as I do, so I decided to add tandoori masala to give it some spice, and a hint of heat. Sprinkling an extra pinch of tandoori masala on top as a garnish was his idea, and gave the soup the finish it needed.

Slightly caramelizing the onions added a bit of sweetness, and the chick peas helped thicken the soup, along with the potato.

In a bit of olive oil, cook until softened and slightly caramelized:

1/2 large onion, sliced (about 1 cup)


1 teaspoon tandoori masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook until the spices release their aroma, stirring constantly.


3 cups roughly chopped cauliflower

Add enough chicken stock to cover the cauliflower.

Bring to a boil.

When the stock is boiling, stir in:

1 large potato, roughly chopped
1 cup chick peas

Add more stock if needed, to keep everything covered. Turn the heat down and simmer until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Remove from the heat, and puree. I like to use a hand blender.

Strain to remove any remaining lumps.

Return the soup to the pot, and keeping the heat on low, adjust the thickness by adding more chicken stock, or milk to obtain the right consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

I served the soup with a pinch of tandoori masala sprinkled on top, which added an extra bit of seasoning with each mouthful.

  • The chick peas can be omitted, but I liked the idea of having them in there. I contemplated adding them after I had pureed everything, but decided against it. 
  • The tandoori masala is spicy and full of flavour, with a vague hint of heat in the background. Think really mild curry powder if you don't have tandoori masala.
  • The onions were caramelized until just starting to become golden. I wanted a bit of extra sweetness, but not a lot of colour.
  • Use whipping cream to adjust the thickness before serving if you want an even richer soup. I used a combination of milk and chicken stock.
  • Serve the soup with warm naan bread if you have any.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cauliflower, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese Tart

This free form tart was my way of using up a couple of slices of prosciutto, a piece of blue cheese and the sour cream that froze in our temporary fridge, and was now runnier than it should be. I had a large cauliflower in the fridge, and used about a third of it for this recipe, leaving plenty more for other meals.

I chose to make a pinenut pastry, for a bit of extra richness and texture. Making a free form tart is less work than lining a tart shell, as the rolled out dough is simple folded up over the filling.

In a bit of olive oil, cook:

1/2 cup diced onion

When the onion starts to soften, add:

2 slices prosciutto, diced
Ground black pepper

Cook on medium heat until the onion and prosciutto start to crisp and colour.

Add in:

3 cups of blanched cauliflower florets

Season with salt and black pepper, and cook over medium heat until the cauliflower starts to caramelize. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before continuing.

When the cauliflower mixture is completely cooled, the pastry can be rolled and the tart assembled for baking. I used a rosemary-pinenut dough. I made the pecan crust from the post Fig, Brie and Prosciutto Crostata with a Pecan Crust, substituting pinenuts for the pecans.
Heat the oven to 425F.

Roll the pastry out to a 12" circle, about 1/8" thick, and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Set aside while you make the filling. 

In a small bowl, combine:

2/3 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix in:

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Stir in:

the cauliflower mixture

Scrape the filling into the centre of the pastry, leaving 2" of pastry around the edges.
Lightly brush the dough with cold water.

Carefully fold the pastry up over the filling, creating pleats as shown. Gently lift each pleat, and lightly brush the underside with water to help it stick to the pleat underneath.

Brush the dough with egg wash.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425F and then turn the temperature down to 350F and bake until the pastry is crispy and golden, and the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Allow the tart to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. I served mine with a green salad, with a simply balsamic vinaigrette.

  • As I mentioned, I used the pastry recipe from the post Fig, Brie and Prosciutto Crostata with a Pecan Crust. 
  • Any pastry recipe can be used; purchased pastry can also be used.
  • If you have leftover cauliflower, this would be a perfect way to use it up. I blanched mine for about 3 minutes just to give it a head start. Roasting the cauliflower would be another option.
  • Consider using cheese sauce instead of the sour cream and egg.
  • Leftover chili, chicken a la king or stew can be used as the filling for the tart.
  • As a gluten free option, bake the filling in a casserole dish, and serve as a side dish.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Chocolate Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies

I wasn't truly using anything up when I made these, other than a bit of butter, but they are so easy to make, taste so good and the transformation as they bake is such fun to see...

The batter is also very flexible as far as flavouring goes, and can be made a few days ahead and stored in the fridge, ready to bake whenever you want some fresh cookies. The balls of dough can also be frozen, then defrosted, coated in icing sugar and baked.

In a double boiler, melt:

5 ounces dark chocolate
4 ounces butter

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Using a whisk attachment, whip, on medium speed until frothy:

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Increase the speed to high and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and pale, and holds a 3 second ribbon.

Scrape the cooled chocolate into the whipped egg and sugar mixture, and mix until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl as needed.

Add the sifted dry ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix on low until almost combined.

Fold the remaining dry ingredients in by hand.

Scrape the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

To bake the cookies, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, sift together:

1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Divide the chilled dough into balls approximately 1" - 1 1/2" in diameter.

Roll each ball in your palms to slightly warm the outside of the dough.

Drop the balls into the icing sugar and cinnamon and roll around to coat them.

When thickly coated with icing sugar, place the balls on the baking sheets, spacing them out as they spread to about 3" diameter.

Bake the cookies immediately, until they are puffed, the surface is dry and the icing sugar has cracked...hence the name crackle cookies!

This should take between 12 - 14 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool before serving. They will sink down a bit, and will be soft and chewy in the inside. The icing sugar can be messy, be warned!!!

  • It is important that the melted chocolate and butter cool down before being added to the whipped eggs and sugar. If it is too hot it can cook the eggs, leaving you with little bits of scrambled egg in your dough. I aim for slightly warmer than body temperature.
  • To test the eggs and sugar for a 3 second ribbon, lift the beater out of the bowl and drizzle an 'M' with the mixture. If you can finish drawing the 'M' without the first part disappearing before you are done, it is ready. If not, whip for a few more minutes, and then check it again.
  • Sift the dry ingredients to avoid lumps, and to add air.
  • I like to finish adding the dry ingredients by hand so that the batter does not deflate too much.
  • The batter can be flavoured by adding things like orange zest, minced fresh ginger, almond or mint extract. Add spices or dry flavours to the dry ingredients....finely ground coffee, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, aniseed.
  • The icing sugar can be left plain, or have spices such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper or ground coffee added. If you are able to find freeze dried raspberries, grind some and add that to the dough or the icing sugar.
  • The cookies keep, well covered, for two to three days.