Sunday, May 29, 2005

Chocolate Fudge Pudding

My mom used to make this for us once in a while and it's still one of my favourites. I made it the other night before my friend went back on her wheat free diet and it was a big hit. The cake is dense, moist, and fudgy and the beauty of this is that it's self-saucing! This is a great low-fat chocolate fix. It's very simple to make, and be sure to serve it warm - it's not the same cold. And there should be no leftovers!

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder, divided
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp veg oil or melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups hot (not boiling) water

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In an ungreased 8" square pan, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and 2 tbsp of the cocoa.
2. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining cocoa powder, nuts, and brown sugar; set aside.
3. Stir milk, oil, and vanilla into the flour mixture in the pan and blend well. Spread out evenly. The batter will be thick.
4. Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over the batter and carefully pour the hot water over everything. DO NOT STIR!
5. Bake until tester inserted comes out clean. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Notes to the readership.

- Whatever you do, mind you DO NOT STIR the mixture after the water has been added! This is going to make the lovely pudding-like sauce. It will thicken on it's own – trust me.
- For some strange reason, the nuts tend to all gravitate towards the centre of the cake during baking. I have never been able to figure this out, but you may notice this, too. You'll just have to live with it.
- Make sure you use an 8" pan for this. They didn't have one here, so I had to make it in something a bit smaller and it nearly overflowed over the sides. I would also recommend you put the pan on a baking sheet when you go to bake this, just to be safe.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pasta with Seafood, Sundried Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

Who says pasta needs to have sauce? Not I!

Remember this? Well, today's recipe is a variation and it's just as easy and tasty. With one day to go before I head off into the great wide world, where, remember, my blogging may be irregular, I present to you Pasta with Seafood, Sundried Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese. Enjoy!

You will need:
Pasta - as much as you need or want
Shrimp - large, shelled and deveined - as many as you like (or other shellfish - clams, mussles, squid, etc.)
Salmon filet - an equivalent amount to your shrimp
Some oil-packed sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
One or two green onions, finely sliced
Good quality olive oil, salt & pepper
Feta cheese, crumbled

Season your salmon with some olive oil, salt & pepper. Bake in the oven at 400F until cooked through. Remove from oven and take a fork to it, chunking in up. Cook your pasta & shell your shrimp. When the pasta is nearly al dente (with a bit of bite to it), put in the raw shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp are pink. Drain the whole thing and return it to the pot. Drizzle some olive oil over and season with salt & pepper, giving it a good stir. Add the onions, sundried tomatoes, salmon, parsley, and feta. Stir together and serve, garnished with a little parmesan cheese (and remember to spend the cash and get the real stuff, eh?).

Easy enough for you?

Notes to the readership.

- Italian flat leaf parsley is lovely stuff, with a more distinct flavour than the curly parsley. It looks a lot like cilantro, so make sure you know what you're buying.
- You can use any pasta you like or have in your pantry. I have used penne and spaghettini and both work well.
- I know shrimp are expensive, but the less expensive frozen shrimp are just fine. You can often find them "zipperback", which means they've made a slit in the back to remove the vein, and it is so worth it get these as opposed to fresh shrimp, because deveining shrimp can be a time-consuming and annoying task.
- If you're not fond of salmon, omit it, or use a fish you do like. You might get a good result with tinned salmon, too, though it tends to be a bit mushy.
- Seasoning the water you boil your pasta in very well with salt is something I've just recently started doing, and I recommend you do, too. It makes a huge difference! Add enough salt so the water tastes salty.

Questions? Comments? You know the deal!

Ta ta for now! Be well and eat well everyone! I shall return, never fear!

Monday, May 09, 2005

ReTorte Reappearance, But...

Thanks to my vigilant readership, I was alerted on Saturday that this blog was unaccessible over the weekend. I couldn't access it myself, and quickly fired off an email to Blogger, who quickly responded with a form email containing some useless links. Later on that day, shortly after I emailed them back again to tell them their links were useless, the ReTorte reappeared. I do not know what the issue was, but I was panicking quite a bit. Thank God the problem seems to have been solved.

I am experiencing some upheaval in my life right now and will be moving shortly. I will have access to a computer, but with dial-up instead of high-speed. So I won't be posting here very much after next week, but rest assured, I won't have disappeared from the world of blogging, and I'll update as I can. Same goes for my Wandering Coyote blog. I will try to visit your blogs as often as I can, too, but just not as much as usual. And please keep commenting on both blogs!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Thai Curry

Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

My husband claims this is as good as what they serve at our local Thai restaurant, Sweet Basil. If nothing else, this will clear your sinuses! Here's what I did:

For the stirfry: I took two boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced them up, and stirfried them until cooked through in some sesame oil. When that was done, I added: some broccoli florets, 2 julienned carrots, some sliced mushrooms, a sliced onion, 1 can water chestnuts (sliced in half), 1 can bamboo shoots, and 1 can miniature cobs of corn (quartered). I obviously drained the canned stuff first! I stirfried this a few minutes until the broccoli turned bright green. Then I added the sauce.

For the sauce: Thai cuisine has a balance between salt, sweet, sour, and spicey. Here are the five ingredients for the sauce: red curry paste (spicey), fish sauce (salty), coconut milk, lime juice(sour), sugar (sweet). As you can see in the picture, I used Thai Kitchen brand fish sauce and curry paste, and I basically followed the recipe on the jar of paste when making this. But I don't like really spicey food, so I cut down the amount of curry paste. The approximate measurements were 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp curry paste, juice of 1 - 2 limes (mine weren't juicy so bear that in mind), 1 - 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 can (398mL) coconut milk. I whisked this all up in a glass liquid measuring cup.

I added the sauce and stirfried until heated through. I then added a couple of handfuls of freshly chopped cilantro, and garnished with bean sprouts. I served this over a bed of basmati rice.

Notes to the readership.

- Fish sauce smells RANK. The first time I bought it, back in my university days, I chucked it out before using it because I thought it stank too much. But, those were my salad days and I was concentrating on things other than food. Do not sniff this or you may be put off! But it tastes great and is a must for any Thai dish.
- Make sure you buy coconut milk for cooking rather than baking. The baking variety is much thicker. Also noteworthy about coconut milk is that it isn't so bad for the waistline: 1/4 cup contains only 60 calories and 1 gram of carbs.
- Re. the sauce, do everything to your own taste. My husband likes this much spicier, and if you like it hot, add more curry paste. When you're mixing the ingredients, put them in a glass measure as I did and taste the sauce first before adding it to the stirfry, so that you can adjust it at will. Also, many Thai sauces tend to be more soupy as they didn't adopt thickeners when their cuisine was evolving, so don't do anthing stupid like adding cornstarch to this - it isn't necessary.
- The key to any good stirfry is having everything chopped up and ready to go before even starting to cook. This is essential! You don't want to be chopping one thing up as another cooks. That is a recipe for stirfry disaster! Also essential is that you ensure that your ingredients are approximately the cut the same size and thickness, to promote even cooking.
- You do not need a fancy wok to stirfry, although it's more fun. A cast iron skillet or large frying pan is perfectly fine - as long as you don't get overzealous and start flinging your veggies around as you stirfry.
- Always add the cilantro last. It's a fresh herb and very delicate. Overcooking it will only kill it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lemon Squares

Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

The recipe is here.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Two Grain Cranberry Bread

This is a fantastic breakfast item full of fibre and flavour. I usually have it with some cheese to add some protein.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup quick oats
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp each baking powder & baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9"x5" loaf pan - grease & flour, or grease & parchment (what - you haven't bough parchment paper yet? C'mon!).
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Is this sounding familiar?
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oats (reserving 2 tbsp), flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves. Add cranberries & pecans. Stir into butter mixture alternately with applesauce, making 3 additions of oat mixture and 2 of applesauce.
4. Scrape into loaf pan. Sprinkle with reserved oats. Bake approximately one hour or until tester comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes to the readership:

- Hmmm...I have no notes this time. That's a first! If you have questions, you know what to do.


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