Herb Cheese Palmiers

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The second-to-last installment of all the stuff I made for my parents’ wedding anniversary party. The best piece of advice I can give you when planning a big shindig with lots of food is that time management is KEY. Anything that can be made ahead of time and frozen should be done wayyy in advance so that you have time on the day of to do the little things that absolutely cannot be done until that day. These little puff pastry dreams are one of those things that must be done on the day of, but they’re easy peasy and I promise you’ll enjoy them. I modified the original Martha Stewart recipe to be less salty and to make these a little thicker. I also totally forgot the egg wash at the end. I always forget the egg wash. But fortunately it’s not crucial.

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You’ll need some frozen puff pastry. I bought the stuff that comes pre-rolled into two square sheets because I am that lazy. Defrost that overnight in your fridge. Then go out into your garden and grab some fresh herbs, enough so you’ll have about 6 tablespoons of fresh herbs once they’re de-stemmed and chopped. I have here, from left to right, oregano, lemon thyme, and summer savoury.

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And these are chives.

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Chop those finely and set them in a little bowl. Gather as well about 6 tablespoons parmesan cheese, and grate up about 1/2 cup nice sharp cheddar.

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Now you can go ahead and preheat your oven to 375°F. Put your racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay out your puff pastry sheets and brush the surface of each with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.

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Sprinkle them evenly with the parmesan, the cheddar,

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and finally the herbs.

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Fold one third of each pastry sheet over,

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and then fold the other third over that, like you’re sending a letter. This would be goopy to send in the mail. You probably shouldn’t mail this.

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Then fold that in half so the two folded edges are touching each other. Jam that in the freezer for about 10 minutes until it’s had a chance to firm up a bit.

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I suppose if you let these get really firm you could slice them thinner, but the best I could do was about 3/4″ slices and even that was pushing it. Place the slices on their flat sides on the baking sheets.

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Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating your baking sheets halfway through, until the pastry is fully puffed and a nice golden brown. Let cool slightly and then serve!

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Fast Tip Friday: Singleton’s Pizza

Singleton's Pizza 11When I was younger, and my dad was away at sea and my brothers had gone out for the evening, my mother and I would sometimes take it easy from dinner preparation for one night and do something quick and dirty with the leftovers we had in the fridge. Now that I’m a grown-up, it’s the perfect thing to cobble together on nights when the Pie is out of town and all I want to do is plant my butt on the couch with a beer and watch the game. You just need three things: leftover spaghetti sauce (the chunkier the better), cheese, and rice cakes (this also works on pita, na’an, and any other form of flat bread). Singleton's Pizza 1

Heat up the sauce a bit and grate some cheese.

Singleton's Pizza 2Gren has realized I have the cheese grater out. Singleton's Pizza 3

Gren is trying to inhale the cheese from where he’s standing. I love it when he wrinkles up his face like that because I know if he could see himself doing it he’d be totally embarrassed.

Singleton's Pizza 4Line a baking sheet with parchment, move your oven rack to the middle, and turn on your broiler (don’t move it to the top or you will simply set all this on fire). Place your rice cakes(or flatbread) on the baking sheet. Top the rice cakes with your warm sauce. Singleton's Pizza 6

Add grated cheese. Give some to your dog or he won’t go away. To make it less sad singleton, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and that made me feel a little less lazy and pathetic.

Singleton's Pizza 7Broil until the cheese is melted to your satisfaction. Singleton's Pizza 10

Eat!

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Sunday Scones

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Yes, yes, I know it’s WEDNESDAY. But I made these on a Sunday and I like my alliteration, okay? These are a great addition to a Sunday brunch (I know this because that’s what I made them for). I used turkey bacon in this recipe but feel free to use any bacon-like product you can think of.

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Start with 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and mix it in a bowl with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

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Grab 1/2 cup COLD butter and use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You can use a food processor for this if you really want, but we are going for a non-uniform texture here, so irregular chunks of butter are a plus in this situation.

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Normally I use buttermilk when I make scones because it makes them nice and fluffy. But I never have buttermilk on hand because in Canada you can only buy it in 1L cartons and seeing as I don’t drink it for its own sake that’s a lot of buttermilk to have to use up. So generally I just sour my own milk. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, give it a stir, and leave it for five minutes. Good enough. Here I only needed 2/3 cup soured milk so I adjusted accordingly. You can do the math. Anyway, mix the milk with 2 slightly beaten eggs.

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What you also need here is about 5 slices of cooked bacon, any kind.

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Slice and dice that into wee pieces. You need about 1/2 cup chopped bacon at this point. You should probably do this first before all the other stuff with the flour and butter so that the bacon has time to cool down before you cut it up. Otherwise, there might be bad things that happen.

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Harvest some green onions as well. Dice them up until you have about 1/4 cup chopped green onion.

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Then grate some cheese. Any kind you like, but you need about 2/3 cup grated cheese and then add to that about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese as well.

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Okay so now you’ve got all your bits and pieces. Add the buttermilk/eggs mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

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Add the cheese, onions, and bacon to the bowl as well and continue to stir until it’s all incorporated.

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Turn the mix out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently just until all the bits and pieces are together and it’s a cohesive mass. You just want things all barely sticking together. When in doubt, under-mix.

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Shape it into a disk about 1″ thick. Wrap the dough up tightly and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight.

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Scones cook really well from frozen, did you know that? So if you wanted to do that, cut the scones before chilling, wrap them up really well, and then chuck them in the freezer for scone-y goodness any time you want. Frozen scones make great gifts, you know.

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If you’re not freezing them, unwrap your chilled dough and slice it into wedges. I aimed for 10 wedges here. You can also flatten your dough into a rectangle and cut out squares or triangles or whatever you want. Wedges are easiest for me. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

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Plop the wedges on some baking sheets lined with parchment and brush them with about 2 tablespoons half and half or light cream.

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Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and shove them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they’re puffy and golden.

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Let cool only very slightly before serving warm with a dollop of butter!

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Chipotle Beans and Sausage: In the Woods

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This was our final hot meal on our camping trip, and the only one that involved the purchase of a pre-prepared element: baked beans (though if I’d had some of mine in the freezer you can bet all you own that I would have used them).  I did adapt it from The Camping Cookbook in that I used sausages, not hot dogs, as the meat addition.

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This is definitely my idea of campfire food.  This is something my dad would come up with over the fire – though if he made it, it would be slightly burnt coming out of his ancient frying pan. Now, this was *supposed* to be the last meal we ate at camp, but it ended up being the first meal we cooked at home after abandoning our damp post.

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Even the deer were getting the hell out.

Considering the downpour that occurred while I was cooking it in the safety of my warm and dry kitchen, I did not regret my choice to come home a day earlier.

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Drop about 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large frying pan and let that heat up.

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Add in 1 small onion, chopped finely, and sauté for a few minutes, until the onion pieces become translucent. Slice up 2 sausages (your choice, but spicy is probably better) into medallions and cook those with the onion until they’re done all the way through and slightly crispy at the edges.

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Sprinkle on as well as 1/2 teaspoon chipotle (or more if you prefer).

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Crack open a 400g can of baked beans (I chose maple, but chili style would add a kick) and add that to the mix.

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I love this can opener. It is literally the best $16 I ever spent.  I’m so miffed that Lee Valley doesn’t sell them anymore.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is hot and bubbly and nice and thick.

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Grate up some cheddar cheese (I used 1 cup grated cheddar because I am a greasy glutton) and sprinkle over top of the beans before serving.

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Cheesy Corn Fritters: In the Woods

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Seeing as most of our time camping is spent killing time between meals, it behoves me to put a bit of thought into them so they’re not a disappointment. And that means that all the lunches I made for our camping trip were hot ones. Granted, with everything mixed ahead of time, they were a snap to prepare, but I think the little bit of ceremony required in lighting the grill and getting everything ready made them a bit extra special.

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These quick fritters come from The Camping Cookbook – like most things we made for this trip – and are spectacular.

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Mix together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a bowl.

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Beat in 1 large egg and 3/4 cup milk.

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Stir in 75g corn (fresh, frozen, canned, it’s your choice, but make sure it’s well-drained), 1/4 cup shredded cheese, and 1 teaspoon fresh chives).

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Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan and drop tablespoons of the batter onto the hot surface. Fry 1-2 minutes each side until crispy and golden brown. This recipe will make about 8-12 small fritters, and we served them with some carrots on the side. Tasty and quick!

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Egg Wonton Lasagna

Egg Wonton Lasagna

I pulled this from the Get Cracking website and it just seemed so weird that I had to try it.  Plus I have a million wonton wrappers in my freezer that I bought in anticipation of making more gyoza (which of course I haven’t done).

Egg Wonton Lasagna

First we’re going to roast a few vegetables.  Put your oven on the broil setting.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and plop on your veggies.  I have here 2 red peppers and 3 Italian zucchini (or at least that’s what the sign at Costco called them).

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Roast them until the peppers are all charred and black.

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Let them cool for a bit, then peel the skins off the red peppers.

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Then we’re going to boil ourselves some eggs.  In a medium saucepan, cover 6 eggs with water and bring it to a boil.

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When it’s boiling, remove the pot from the heat, cover it with a lid, and leave that to stand for 20 minutes.  This is a different way to produce hard-boiled eggs than I’m used to, but I figure that the Egg Farmers of Canada know what they’re talking about.

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Drain the eggs, run cold water over them to cool them off, then peel and slice them.

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I liked how the cold water looked so much I took two more pictures of it.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Egg Wonton Lasagna

While the eggs are doing their thing, finely chop 1 small onion and add it to another saucepan with a drop of olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic (or 2 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar).  Sauté until everything is soft and squidgy.

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Chuck in a package of baby spinach and stir that around until it’s all wilted.

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Pour in a jar/can of pasta sauce and bring that puppy to a boil, then remove it from the heat.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get all your ingredients ready to go.

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While you’re at it, chop up those roasted vegetables of your’n.

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Find yourself an 8″ baking dish (or thereabouts) and ladle about a 1/2 cup of the sauce into the dish.  Line the bottom with some of your wonton wrappers, making sure to overlap them a little bit.

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Spread that with some more of the sauce you have left, then some of your eggs.

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Plop on a some of your chopped vegetables, then some grated mozzarella cheese (I’m not going to limit you on your cheese — we all have our preferences/weaknesses).

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Do another layer of wontons, sauce, eggs, vegetables, and cheese.

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When you are out of vegetables and eggs you should still have some sauce, cheese, and wontons left.

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Any remaining wonton wrappers you’ve got, spread them over the top, then the rest of your sauce, and then some more cheese.  Bake in your 350°F oven for 30 minutes, until you can see the sauce at the centre of the dish bubbling up through the top.  Let it stand for a few minutes before you cut it, just so the rowdiness can calm down.  Serves SIX.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

I made a pizza. From scratch. In the middle of Gros Morne National Park.

And it worked!  Beat that, Martha!

Flushed with the success of our raspberry orange crumble in the woods, we figured we’d try out one of the recipes in the wee book that came with our Outback Oven and attempt the challenge of making a pizza from scratch while camping.

First we make up the dough.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 1 packet instant yeast, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt.  I shook in a few teaspoons of grill herb mix (basil, oregano, etc.) from a Coghlan’s spice pack I had on hand.

Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2/3 cup warm water and stir-stir-stir.

Knead that sucker until all the flour is mixed in, about 5 minutes.  If your dough is still sticky, you can add more flour.

Flatten the dough into the bottom of your oven pan, and cover with lid. 

Place somewhere warm to rise for about 15 minutes.  I put mine next to our fire, because it was a chilly afternoon in our shady campsite.

While it was rising, I sliced up 3 cloves garlic, one half tomato (vegetables were hard to find in Gros Morne), some hard salami, and the Pie kindly grated me some cheddar cheese (because that was what we had).

Spread a few drops of olive oil on your risen dough.

Spoon on about 3 tablespoons pizza sauce and spread that around.

Add your toppings.

Then your cheese.

Cover with lid and the parka-tent thing and bake for about 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  You can check the crust by flipping it up, just to keep it from burning.Let it cool a few minutes in the pan or you will burn yourself.

Make sure to slide the pizza out of your nonstick pan before cutting.

The boys and I agreed that this was one of the better pizzas we had eaten recently (and we had recently eaten moose pizza, so that was saying something).

Gren didn’t get any.  Awww …