Creole Okra with Chicken and Tomatoes

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 23

I don’t really know that much about southern food except that I like it a lot, and whenever I’m down south (I’m talking the southern US states here) I eat as much of it as I can. This dish started because I found okra at a good price at the grocery store and is more Creole-inspired than actually authentic (because again I don’t know much). It is adapted from something I found on The Kitchn. I doubled the amounts, prepared half this recipe in the pan and then chucked half of it in the freezer for later, like the clever person that I am†. Not that this recipe isn’t dead simple. I’m just lazy.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 1

I accompanied this one-dish meal with another dish: steamed beet greens.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 4

Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Zest 1 lemon.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 3

Gather your spices. Creole spice blends tend to run to mixtures of the following, so make one to suit your own taste (this one is about 1 teaspoon of each): onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, parsley, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne. The recipe I was looking at didn’t use creole spices; instead it called for a bit of cumin and coriander. So I just used everything. Set that aside for a few minutes.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 2

Start with your okra, about 1lb, and slice the tops off before cutting it in half lengthwise. Apparently people either love or hate okra, because it’s a bit slimy. I am ambivalent so far.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 5

Lay that on your baking sheet and sprinkle with about 1 cup (canned/drained/rinsed) black-eyed peas.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 7

Next, slice up a small white onion.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 8

Sprinkle that onto the pan, together with a few cloves crushed or minced garlic.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 11

Give that a good drizzle with some nice olive oil.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 12

Now here’s where I kind of diverged from the recipe. This dish is a good meal all in itself as a vegetarian option, but I feed boys (boys who are not vegetarians) so I had to chuck some meat in here somehow. In a large bowl, I threw 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs together with a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and your lemon zest.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 14

Then I chucked in all those lovely spices and gave it a good mixing.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 16

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 17

Spread the chicken and tomatoes evenly across the top of your peas and okra and shove it in the oven for about an hour. Give it a stir once or twice to make sure everything is browning evenly.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 18

We served ours over rice with the beet greens and it was pretty good. The Pie thought the okra was a little slimy (#1 reason why many people dislike it) but I thought it was pretty good!

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 20

If you plan to freeze this recipe for later, I would recommend freezing it in two parts: in one bag goes the okra, peas, garlic, rice, and oil, and in the second bag goes the tomatoes, chicken, and spices. It just seems like a logical thing to do to tenderize the meat and prevent the peas and okra from getting too soggy.

Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake

Fudge Cake 26

I made this (from Recipe Tin Eats) for Nana Nice’s birthday a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I had the plague and couldn’t partake but I can assure you that it’s equally good the next day …

Fudge Cake 28

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter that too. You can never have enough butter.

Fudge Cake 10

In a smallish pot on the stove, combine 8.5 ounces dark chocolate with 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 sticks unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup milk. Stir on medium low until the butter and chocolate have melted. Don’t let it come to a simmer.

Fudge Cake 7

Tip in into a bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup milk.

Fudge Cake 12

Then mix in 2 eggs – WAIT, I ONLY HAVE ONE EGG!

Fudge Cake 2

Not to worry. You can substitute an egg with 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons milk, cream, butter, or yogurt.

Fudge Cake 3

Whisk in those “eggs.”

Fudge Cake 13

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 3/4 cups plain flour, and 2 tablespoons instant coffee.

Fudge Cake 8

Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Fudge Cake 14

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean (a little residue means your cake will be extra fudgey!).

Fudge Cake 15

Remove the sides of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.

Fudge Cake 17

You can frost this with whatever you want but a nice ganache is never a bad thing. Heat 1 cup whipping cream on the stove until it’s about to start simmering, then pour it over 8 ounces dark chocolate of your choosing.

Fudge Cake 16

Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted, and then leave it to cool until it spreads like peanut butter.

Fudge Cake 19

Frost your cake, and have fun with whatever swirls and squiggles you’d like!

Fudge Cake 22

I went a step further and added some dragees

Fudge Cake 25

… and some sprinkles

Fudge Cake 24

It was a birthday cake after all!

Fudge Cake 27

Cheesy Corn Fritters: In the Woods

Fritters in the woods 8

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.

Fritters in the woods 1

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

Fritters in the woods 9

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

Fritters in the woods 2

Beat in 1 large egg and 3/4 cup milk.

Fritters in the woods 3

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).

Fritters in the woods 4

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!

Fritters in the woods 5

Fritters in the woods 6

Fritters in the woods 10

Petite Piglet Patties

Petite Piglet Patties 14

I was going to call these things “savoury sausage sliders,” or even “summer savoury sausage sliders,” but then the Pie suggested the above title and for some reason I started to laugh so hard I needed a tissue and had to sit down.  And then he suggested that, since we used hot italian sausage meat, we call them “picante petite piglet patties” and I may have told him to shut up at that point.

Petite Piglet Patties 13

Anyway.  These are sliders, if you hadn’t gathered that by now.  I picked up a package of ground sausage meat the other day and this is what we did with it.  Basic ingredients are about 1lb ground pork, 1 egg, half a white onion, and some fresh summer savoury.

Petite Piglet Patties 2

Mince up the savoury and the onion and chuck them in a bowl with the sausage meat and the egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

Petite Piglet Patties 3

Give that a good stir with a spoon and then mix in about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or whatever kind of bread crumbs you have on hand).

Petite Piglet Patties 4

Form the goo into balls slightly larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cricket ball and flatten them into patties (I ended up with eleven patties).

Petite Piglet Patties 7

Fry those suckers up.  For some reason the light was such in my kitchen on this particular afternoon that it took us twelve tries (the Pie tried to help) of blurry patty photos before I gave up and used flash.

Petite Piglet Patties 11

While that’s on the go, why don’t you have yourself a salad, too?  Here we have a mixture of baby spinach, a small hunk of plain goat’s cheese (chevre), a handful of sliced almonds, another handful of dried cranberries, and a diced ripe pear.

Petite Piglet Patties 9

Then the dressing is 3 equal parts vegetable oil (I used almond, because we’re trying to use it up), rice vinegar, and orange juice).

Petite Piglet Patties 10

Toss it up!

Petite Piglet Patties 18

Top your sliders with whatever floats your boat.  I used mayo, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  The Pie voted for barbecue sauce and cheese.  We had them on some picnic buns I grabbed in the bakery section.

Petite Piglet Patties 8

All in all, a good summer meal. Don’t forget to eat your veggies! You see them peeking at you in the background? Don’t forget them!

Petite Piglet Patties 16

Slutty Brownies for My Birthday

Slutty Brownies 34

It’s my birthday.  Hooray!  Happy birthday to ME!

Slutty Brownies 25

As such, it means I can do whatever the eff I want to do today.  And I choose to be totally lazy and completely unhealthy and make these brownies*.  I’ve been hearing amazing things about this thing called a “slutty brownie,” and after looking them up on the interwebz I decided to go to the source, which, apparently, is a lady known as The Londoner.  Seems legit.  I could definitely get behind this sort of recipe.

Slutty Brownies 22

Normally I’m not one to make stuff out of pre-packaged food.  It’s just not my style.  For the most part, if you make something from scratch it tastes way better and is far more satisfying to make.  In this particular case, however, I think I can make an exception.

Slutty Brownies 1

It IS my birthday, you know.  But I have to say that the word “chocolatey” versus “chocolate” is always worrisome, though these did include real chocolate after all.

Slutty Brownies 2

Slutty Brownies 3

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking dish with parchment.  I figured that seeing as some of the contents of my dish would fit normally into a square pan, and because I had extra ingredients on top of that, I should use a bigger pan.

Slutty Brownies 21

So you take a some chocolate chip cookie dough. In the British version, cookie dough comes in a box like cake and brownie mix, but here, unless you want it in bulk, it generally comes pre-made in refrigerated rolls.  The Londoner recommends using a teaspoon extra oil and water than recommended for the dry mix, because the cookie dough will be baking longer than usual and might dry out.  And you want this baby to be moister than moist.  So mix that up according to directions and add a bit more liquid. Smoosh the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan.  Use your fingers to make it all even and stuff. I decided I needed an extra roll of cookie dough.

Slutty Brownies 6

Take a package of Oreo cookies (double-stuffed is better, apparently), and line them up in the tray.  She says not to use the broken ones, but how else would one fill the gaps?  It’s thrifty.  However, I didn’t have any broken ones.  Way to go, modern packaging.

Slutty Brownies 7

And I didn’t have enough Oreos, actually.  So I moved everything to a smaller pan, which just involved some re-smooshing, and was very easy.

Slutty Brownies 9

Still didn’t have enough Oreos, though, and I couldn’t justify going out for another package when I was only a few short.

Slutty Brownies 10

So I just moved them over a bit.

THEN.  Then.  You take a box of brownie mix.  And you mix that up according to its directions. Mine had chocolate chunks in it!

Slutty Brownies 11

No need to add anything extra.  Just do it.  Giv’er.

Slutty Brownies 12

Pour that loveliness over top of the Oreos.  I’m serious.  Do it.  If you used a bigger pan like me you will need to spread it carefully so everything is covered.

Slutty Brownies 13

Bake that sucker for 40-50 whole minutes, then remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.  Mine was big, so it actually took an hour.  A smaller pan would probably take you about 30 minutes. Look at that lovely shiny/crackly top!

Slutty Brownies 17

When it’s still a little warm, use the parchment as handles to remove the gloriousness from the confines of the pan, set it on a cutting board, and cut it up.  I recommend smallish cubes, as larger cubes of the stuff might result in DEATH.  And nobody likes death.

Slutty Brownies 19

Serve it up with a dollop of ice cream on top, or whipped cream, or caramel sauce, or fudge sauce, or all four in combination.  With a cherry on top.  And sprinkles.  Okay maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Slutty Brownies 27

And I’m not going to give you storage instructions because if you have any sense, there won’t be any left to store.

Slutty Brownies 31

* This is actually a lie.  I don’t do ANYTHING on my birthday.  It’s a rule.  I made these a week BEFORE my birthday (because despite what you may believe I don’t get up at the crack of dawn and bake in time for a 7AM NST post).  The Pie is creating a magical birthday cake for me as we speak.  There may be a post on it.  Who knows.

Slutty Brownies 35

Fluffy Gluten-Free Waffles

Gluten-Free Waffles

This recipe is a modified version of the one that Iris over at the Daily Dietribe came up with.  I am indebted to her extensive experimentation.  Jul, who eats only gluten-free foods, is also indebted.  And the Pie and Cait are just full.

Iris has experimented enough that she knows which flours will do what, so I followed her advice and used a combination of almond flour and brown rice flour.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Take 1 1/4 cups of the flour and whisk it together with 1/2 cup starch (potato works best but I used corn starch because I can’t find it here), 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Gluten-Free Waffles

In another, larger bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and between 1/2 and 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (the amount will depend on what kind of flour you are using.  Here I used about 3/4 cup).

Gluten-Free Waffles

For a dairy-free version (and this is already egg-free), you can use 2 tablespoons vegetable oil instead of butter, and instead of the buttermilk you could go for coconut milk.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Add more liquid, if necessary, a little bit at a time.  If you are making waffles, you’ll want your batter to be a little thicker, while with pancakes you’ll want it a bit runnier.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Then you just pour the batter into a pan or smooth it into a waffle iron and you’re all set. I loved how this was just as simple as making regular buttermilk waffles and took no time at all.

Gluten-Free Waffles

These came out a little darker than I was expecting but they were lovely and crisp, even after I left them to warm in the oven.   Just make sure to spray your waffle iron or your pan frequently or they will stick.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Put a Lid on It!

Put a Lid on It!

Like my mother, containers are my passion.  Bowls.  Vases.  Tins.  Boxes.  Jars.  I love them all, vintage ones especially.

I used to have a number of vintage jars to store various items in my pantry.  The Pie has broken two of them (*I* only break things that are new and expensive), but I’ve got some left.

IMAG0248

The lids are a little finicky, though, I guess from years of denting and twisting and probably a faint patina of rust and grime on the lid itself.  It’s hard to get everything to thread properly sometimes.

So my trick is pretty simple.  I take a piece of paper towel and I put a drop or two of vegetable oil on it.

Put a Lid on It!

Then I rub it on the inside edge of the threaded part of the lid, making sure that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that might touch the contents of the jar.

Put a Lid on It!

It’s the same sort of logic as spritzing cooking spray on a recalcitrant zipper.  A little lubrication goes a long way.

Put a Lid on It!

Chicken Fried Rice … for Danger K

Chicken Fried Rice

I got a tweet on Friday from Danger K over at Project: Priceless, looking for a good fried rice recipe.  We happen to have one.  Actually, the Pie has one, which he modified himself from one of our many stir-fry books.  We make this one with chicken, but you can leave that out for a vegetarian option.  If you want to go vegan, you can leave out the egg as well.

So this is what you need:

Half an onion, diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

A boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed.  Add a splash of soy sauce to that.

Chicken Fried Rice

An egg, beaten.

Chicken Fried Rice

Two carrots, peeled and diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

About one cup peas.  These are defrosted frozen ones.

Chicken Fried Rice

A pinch or two of sliced green onion.

Chicken Fried Rice

About two cups cooked rice, cold.  Preferably a day or two old.  The rice needs to be dry and no longer sticky.

Chicken Fried Rice

In a large frying pan or wok, heat a tablespoon oil with a tablespoon minced garlic on medium heat.  Chuck in the onions and cook until they’re translucent.

Chicken Fried Rice

Toss in the chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Fried Rice

Make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg in a thin layer. Allow it to cook through and then break it up with your spatula and mix it in.

Chicken Fried Rice

Add in all the vegetables and heat through, then add the rice and stir to mix.  Splash in some more soy sauce to taste.  When everything is heated up to your satisfaction, you can serve it.  And it’s as simple as that!

Chicken Fried Rice

O Canada: Moose Pizza

Moose Pizza

Gren killed a moose and was kind enough to share it with us.

Big Game Hunter

Just kidding.  Gren is about the size of a moose’s hoof.  If anyone were to be killed and eaten in that situation it would surely be the tender tasty corgi.  Hell, sometimes *I* want to eat him.  He does look pretty delicious.

Moose Pizza

Fusselette’s dad likes to hunt and fish and as a result we have a pile of fresh-frozen cod and moose roast and moose sausages in our freezer.  This can only mean good things for you, my readers.

In any case, I couldn’t continue my Canadian feature month without including a dish made from Newfoundland’s biggest (and I mean that in more ways than one) pest.  On an island where “Nature comes in extra large,” moose are certainly vermin to be reckoned with.  I had some more to say about moose back when Rusty and Mags were in town.

Moose Pizza

So.  Yes.  We have moose.  We are going to eat it.  When we were in Gros Morne this summer, I had the opportunity to try moose pizza for the first time.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s a Canadian dish, most likely invented right here on the Rock.  Of course, Hawaiian pizza was invented on the Canadian prairies, so who’s to say?

Moose Pizza

First we start with the dough.  For the sake of variety, I’m going to use a different dough recipe than normal.  This one I pulled out of The Joy of Cooking and cut it in half.

Sprinkle 1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast on the surface of a small bowl filled with 2/3 cup warm water.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is all dissolved; then you can stir it up.

Moose Pizza

In a larger bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.

Moose Pizza

Pour in the yeast and water and stir until all ingredients are completely combined.  Then keep stirring for another minute or so.

Moose Pizza

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.  You will find you have to add quite a bit more flour in to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to make sure all the sides are coated.  Cover it with a clean cloth and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour.

Moose Pizza

Preheat your oven to 475°F and start prepping your toppings.  If you are going to use a pizza stone (like we did) then put your stone onto the rack in the oven when you turn it on, so it can preheat too.

I decided that mushrooms and red onion were a good complement to the moose sausage that was sizzling in a pan.

Moose Pizza

I sliced up the sausage as well, and grated some mozzarella cheese while I was at it.

Moose Pizza

When your dough is ready, flatten it into a pan sprinkled with cornmeal, or, if you’re using a stone, onto a peel or surface covered with parchment paper.  I made a circle out of ours, to match the stone.  Make a slight lip at the edges of the dough to keep stuff from spilling off and press your fingers into the dough to make dimples.  This prevents crust from bubbling up.

Moose Pizza

Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil to prevent it from becoming soggy, and sprinkle with some herbs.  We like herbes de provence in our pizza.

Moose Pizza

Crack open a can of pizza sauce.  We generally use half a can for each pizza.  Smooth that sauce on the dough.

Moose Pizza

Add your ingredients.

Moose Pizza

Don’t forget your mounds and mounds of sausage. There might be a bit too much sausage on this pizza, but what’s done is done.

Moose Pizza

And lots of cheese.

Moose Pizza

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Slice and serve!

Moose Pizza

Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream

Espresso Cupcakes

So here I was, trying to come up with a good morning cupcake for my Sweet Treats committee at work.  Everyone at the firm seems to need a bit of a caffeine kick in the morning, so I thought I would modify my espresso brownies into cupcake form.  Then I thought, what about a smooth mocha buttercream icing on top?  Yeah, that sounded good.

Espresso Cupcakes

And then, lo and behold, what did I find on the internet?  The exact recipe I wanted!  And I didn’t even have to make it up myself!  Score one for the lazy part of me and big thanks to Nam for cooking it up and writing it down.

Brew  up a pot of strong coffee and save 1 cup coffee for this recipe.  Do what you like with the rest (preferably drink it, or save it for iced coffee).

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two muffin pans with cupcake cups.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and set aside.

Espresso Cupcakes

Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in 1 cup coffee and set that aside.

Espresso Cupcakes

Clear the spider out of your stand mixer.  Apologize profusely to it as you send it on its merry way, but explain that despite its residency of nearly two weeks in your bowl, it does not qualify for squatters’ rights.  Then decide that, as you are doubling the recipe, the batter won’t fit in the mixer anyway, and opt for a larger bowl and a hand mixer.  Sorry, spider.

Espresso Cupcakes

In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add in 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar and mix some more.

Espresso Cupcakes

Pour in the coffee and beat for another minute.

Espresso Cupcakes

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Espresso Cupcakes

Using a spoon, fill the paper cups about two-thirds full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.

Espresso Cupcakes

Let the cupcakes rest in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to a rack.  Remember that a super hot dropped cupcake will explode all over your floor, while a cooler cupcake will just bounce a bit.  That’s a handy fact to remember.

Espresso Cupcakes

Now for the luscious buttercream frosting.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you know, like the one you just used), whip 10 tablespoons room temperature butter (which, by the way, is 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter) until it’s fluffy, light, and creamy. Add in 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder and whip until combined.

Espresso Cupcakes

Slowly add in 3 tablespoons room temperature espresso (you can make this by following the instructions on your bottle of instant espresso powder).  As with most buttercreams, it will look a little curdled and gross at this point, but don’t you worry.

Espresso Cupcakes

A little bit at a time, add in 3-4 cups icing sugar.  You may need more or less, depending on the consistency you want, or the temperature outside, or a bunch of other variables.  Just go with what looks (and tastes) right to you.  Refrigerate the buttercream for at least ten minutes before using.

Espresso Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled and the frosting has chilled out a little, you can frost your cupcakes, or pipe on the frosting, if you wish.

Espresso Cupcakes

Garnish each cupcake with a dusting of cocoa powder (or some shaved chocolate) or a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Espresso Cupcakes

Your coworkers will be appropriately wowed, especially once the caffeine kicks in.  Good morning to you, too!

Espresso Cupcakes