Maple Pecan Pie Squares

This makes a fantastic dessert to share in potlucks and gatherings.

Ingredients
For the crust
1 cup unsalted butter, to room temperature (2 sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
2 2/3 cup flour
1/4 tea spoon salt

For the filling
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 table spoon milk (or cream)
2 cups halved pecans

ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Use a paper towel to spread on any missed spots and remove the excess.
foil

2. In a mixer or food processor, cream together the sugar and butter.
crust1

3. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed.
crust2

4. You want to have pea-sized chunks of butter. crust3

5. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press down into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
crust4

6. While the crust is baking, combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and milk into a sauce pot. Allow to simmer for 1 minute.
filling1

7. Stir in the pecans.
filling2

8. Remove the crust from the oven. it should barely be starting to get golden.
crust-cooked

9. Pour the hot filling unto the hot crust and spread the pecan as evenly as possible. Return to the oven for 12-18 minutes. It’s best not to overcook, the filling will thicken and set as it cools.
pour

10. Allow to cool fully.
cook

11. remove from the dish using the aluminum foil sling. Discard the foil.
remove

12. Cut into small squares and eat.
cut

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Chai Masala

The weather took a turn for the chilly side, so I’m craving warm drinks. This usually his the spot.

Ingredients
2 cups water
2 table spoon Chai Masala
1 table spoon Garam Masala
2 table spoon turbinado sugar
2 cups milk
ingredients

***

1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the tea and whole spices. Bring down to a simmer and brew for 10 minutes, uncovered.
simmer1

2. Add the milk and stir in the sugar. Simmer for another 10 minutes, covered or partially covered.
simmer2

3. Serve warm. My teapot has a built-in strainer so I don’t bother straining it beforehand. Depending on your equipment you might need that extra step.
serve

Garlic Scapes Cubes

Garlic scapes are versatile and delicious, but really only available in season. This is how I store them so I have them on hand whenever I want. They are delicious in potatoes or with any pan cooked vegetable.

Ingredients :
A generous pile of garlic scapes
5 table spoon olive oil
3/4 tea spoon salt
pile2

***

1. Trim half of the garlic scapes and cut into smaller chunks. Put into the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt and olive oil.
robot1

2. Pulse a few times to make room.
robot2

3. Add the rest of the garlic scapes.
robot3

4. Pulse until finely minced, almost like a paste.
pulse

5. Spoon into an ice cube tray, pressing down gently.
cubes

6. Freeze for at least one hour. Pop the cubes out and store in a freezer bag.
cubes2

Mechoui Lamb

This makes for succulent, spice-crusted lamb that falls off the bone. Makes the whole house smell delicious too.

Ingredients
1 leg of lamb
70g butter
3 cloves of garlic
2 tea spoon cumin
1 tea spoon paprika
3 tea spoon coriander
1/4 tea spoon salt
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
Grind the spices and combine with the butter.
butter1

2. Crush the garlic and add to the butter. Mix until smooth and incorporated.
butter2

3. With a small sharp knife, make little incisions into the lamb all over, making little pockets.
meat1

4. Rub the butter mixture all over, making sure some goes into those pockets. Place on a grill in a roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
meat2

5. Put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Baste the meat and lower the oven to 315F. Cook for an other hour, hour and a half, basting every 30 minutes. The roast is done when the meat pulls easily from the bone (or starts to fall apart, if you have a boneless roast).
meat3

6. Slice and serve.
serve

Soft Pretzels Two ways

For some reason, my brain thinks anything bread-like is hard. But these came together super easily.

Because I can’t ever make up my mind between wanting a salty pretzel or a sweet one, I split the dough and made both,

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces flour
2 ounces butter, melted + some for brushing
Olive Oil
10 cups water + 1 table spoon
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 cinnamon stick
ingredients

***

1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the salt, one table spoon sugar, and active dry yeast. Make sure you have a dough hook attachment installed.
yeat1

2. Add the warm water, stir gently to dissolve. Leave alone for the yeast to wake up, about 5 minutes.
yeast2

3. It should start being a bit foamy and bubbling.
yeast3

4. Add the two ounces of melted butter and the flour.
flour

5. Turn on to speed 1 and mix to combine.
mix

6. Increase the speed to 2 and knead until it pulls away from the bowl, about 2-3 minutes.
knead

7. Remove from bowl and hook. Clean the bowl and lightly oil the surface. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Allow to proof for 55 minutes in a warm place with no draft (inside the cold oven with the light turned on is good).
rest

8. While the yeast is doing its thing, grind the cinnamon stick and combine with the half a cup of sugar. Combine the baking soda and 10 cups of water in a large soup pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl with a table spoon of water.

Clean the kitchen. Anything, you have 55 minutes to wait.
sugar

9. Once the dough has doubled in size, set up a shaping station. For easier shaping, the surface should be lightly oiled. Turn the oven on to 450F.

You’ll need to cut the dough into 8 parts. Roll each part into a rope and fold into a pretzel shape.set-up

10. To make the shape: make a horseshoe shape with the dough, open end facing you. Twist the ends over each other. Flip the twisted bit into the middle of the circle, reshaping the circle if required, then push the ends into the edges.  It took me a few tries to get it right. They taste good when misshapen anyway.
shape

11. I was running out of hands so no pictures of this… Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Drop each pretzel into the alkaline solution for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking tray.

Brush the salty pretzels with the beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle coarse salt over them.
salt

12. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
salt-baked

13. For the sweet ones, brush melted butter over the baked pretzels, then toss in the prepared cinnamon sugar.
sugar-baked

 

Duck Skewers

The duck meat turned out incredibly tender. The spices may overwhelm the taste of the meat, so adjust accordingly. The same marinade would probably work great with beef.

Ingredients :
2 duck breast
2 table spoon Sri Lanka style curry
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 tea spoon lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tea spoon salt
ingredients

***

1. Put the spices in a mortar and coarsely grind.
spices

2. Put the ground spices in a food processor along with the shallots, garlic, salt, and coconut milk.
blender

3. Pulse until mostly smooth.
blend

4. Cut the duck into cubes. I left the skin on thinking I might be able to crisp it up, but that didn’t work. Just remove it altogether.
cubes

5. Pour the marinade over the meat and stir to coat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, up to overnight.
marinade

6. Thread onto skewers.
skewers

7. Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Sear the skewers in a pan to color all sides.
pan

8. Then transfer to an ovenproof dish and finish in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
cooked

9. Serve with peanut sauce.
serve

Shawarma style chicken wraps

There are a lot of “do ahead” steps, but they don’t all need to be done at the same time.

Notes for next time :

  • Cook the chicken on a grill to let the fat drip away
  • Roast the garlic for the yogurt sauce.

Ingredients :
8 chicken thighs
Pita bread

For the marinade
3 table soup olive oil
1 tea spoon cumin
1 tea spoon paprika
1 tea spoon turmeric
1 tea spoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of a lemon
Zest and juice of an orange
Black pepper, to taste

For the garnish
1 red onion
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 table spoon olive oil
1 tomato, diced
Bread and butter pickles
Iceberg lettuce
ingredients

***

1. Combine the yogurt, garlic and olive oil for the garnish, Set aside and allow to mellow overnight.
garlic-sauce

2. Thinly slice the onion, cover with cold water. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
onions

3. Combine the marinade’s spices and grind them to a rough powder.
spices

4. In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients.
marinade1

5. And stir to dissolve the spices.
marinade2

6. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Cut each thigh in half. Put in the marinade and stir to coat. Cover and marinade overnight.
chicken

7. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Cook the chicken on both sides to get some color.
color

8. Finish in the oven until cooked through.
cooked

9. Open the pita bread. Slather with some yogurt sauce. Add the chicken, tomato, lettuce, onions, and pickles to taste. Roll and enjoy.
assemble