Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk & Chip Cookies

It was a few months back on National Chocolate Chip Day, that I realized - I have virtually no chocolate chip cookie recipes on this here blog!  Whaaa?  Not sure how that is even possible.  There is a bottomless cookie jar in my kitchen.  Each week a different type, flavour, method, of cookie is in that jar, mostly it's kid's choice though.  And usually their favourite ends up being the most basic: Chocolate Chip.

I stumbled across the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook on the shelves at work, and took it home for a little night time reading.  Honestly, I found it to be super intimidating, and really pretentious.  The tools and instructions in the book are all just too much.  I mean...60 grams of eggs?!  Yeesh.  Just say 1 egg for goodness sakes!
But there is genius behind the method, 'cuz these are some darn delicious cookies.  I've made this recipe probably 6 times in the last month, and have adapted it in a few ways.  First, I make the cookies much smaller, so that a batch makes more than 6 ginormous cookies the size of your head, that's just silly.  Also, I make the cookies with browned butter, because, yum!

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk & Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Page 34, Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter (optional - brown & cool)
1 egg
2/3 cup 70%-72% cocoa chocolate chunks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

**If using browned butter, make ahead, allowing time to cool and reharden in the fridge**

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and baking soda, and set aside.
Place the butter (browned or regular) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until it has the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.
Add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture and beat for 3 to 4 minutes, until fluffy.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowel, then add the egg, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined.
Add 2/3 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and pulse to combine the chocolate into the dough.  Wrap & Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

While the dough is chilling, position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350F.

When the dough has chilled, use a scoop or just break off the dough using your hands, and shape into large balls, or simply drop generously onto pan.  Space the cookies well-apart, to allow for spread.
Bake until golden brown, around 15 minutes.  Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ruhrei: A Memorial dish for our "Bucka"

If you've noticed a gap to the frequency of my posts, its because our family recently said good-bye to Cory's father, Ike: our beloved Bucka.  
When my daughter, Sloane, was just beginning to talk, she could not pronounce Grandpa properly for all her might.  What she called him instead was "Bucka".  Bucka kinda sounds like a bad word (I'll let you figure it out;)), which of course made him love the name more, and so the title Bucka stuck.  Bucka was the teller of all the dirty and inappropriate joke, collector of beautiful vehicles, and we will miss him so much.

Bucka loved good, traditional German food like his mom used to make.  Bucka's mother, was a stoic German woman, who also had a major part in the care of my husband, Cory, as a child.  She was also a killer cook.  She passed away shortly after Cory and I first started dating (17 years ago!), and unfortunately I never got to learn from her all the recipes that these boys were raised on.  Ruhrei was one of those dishes.

Ruhrei was a typical "grandma" recipe, in that the way it was described to just adding a little bit of flour, and a little bit of milk, that you'll know by the consistency...I could never get it right.
I searched in every German cookbook I could find for this recipe, never knowing how to properly spell Ruhrei, as it is pronounced "Ree-ai".  I happened to flip through the Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbook at work about a month ago, and low and behold it was filled with so many of the recipes that I had been searching for!  There's even a recipe for Rollkuchen, another frequently requested Grandma classic.

Ruhrei is kinda like scrambled eggs in consistency, but has the taste of almost a pancake.  Cory said they always ate it topped with brown sugar or maple syrup, even through it was often served as a dinner dish.  In the Mennonite Girls can Cook cookbook, they mention that they serve theirs with salsa, we'll have to give that a whirl sometime.

Bucka, I was so excited to make this dish for you, and I'm so sad that I never got the opportunity.  However, I do get to serve it to my own children, and share the history of your family, and Cory's childhood memories that go with it.  You'll never be far from our thoughts.  Peace.

Ruhrei (ree-ai)

1/2 cup milk
6 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 Tablespoon butter

In a medium sized bowl, using a fork or whisk, blend together the flour and milk into a smooth consistency.  Add the eggs and salt, continuing to whisk into a thin batter.  Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a pan, and then pour in the egg mixture.  Cut and turn small sections of the mixture until completely cooked through and lightly browned.  Serve hot, sprinkled with brown sugar or maple syrup.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Double Done Rib Rub & BBQ Sauce!

Remember waaaay back last July, for my Mr's Bday feast, I shared pictures of some fab ribs, promising that I would share the recipe that summer?  Ya, well, I'm a liar liar pants on fire, I guess.  That recipe has yet to be shared, even though I have made it countless times since.  It's just that there's very rarely any leftovers to take pics of!  Which surely means, that this is a recipe to be adored.

This recipe is a little labour intensive.  I usually break out the ribs on a Sunday when I have extra time, or if there's company coming for dinner, and we wanna get a little fancy schmancy, and sauce up our faces.  I'll prepare the ribs and sauce usually in the morning, or even the night before if I'm really slim on time, or want to avoid having the oven on in the heat of the day.  Finally pulling them out to grill along with whatever sides are accompanying.

I know some people take their BBQ seriously, I'm so not one of them.  I make no claims on knowing what's what for doing up meat, I've just found that this is the recipe that works best for me, taste and technique wise.  I've got a lot to learn when it comes to grilling, but am having lots of fun experimenting and learning as I go.  The labour involved here is worth the result; a mouth-watering fall off the bone rib dish, perfect for summer BBQ season!

Double Done Rib Rub

I generally use 2 slabs of Pork Back or Side Ribs..whatever's on sale!

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First I rub 'em in sauce and bake 'em all wrapped up in tin foil on low for a couple hours.

Preheat oven to 250 F.  Mix all ingredients together and slather both sides of the ribs.  Wrap in tin foil, and bake for about 2 hours.  While the ribs are baking, get your sauce ready!
Note:  You will (Optionally) use the juices from the baked ribs in the BBQ sauce, read ahead!

Double Done Ribs BBQ Sauce

1 small onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup Bullseye BBQ sauce or your fave BBQ sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
reserved rib juice or water (about 1/2 -1/2 cup in lieu of grease)

Using a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil, and saute onions until translucent.  Add garlic and ginger, and saute for an additional minute.  Next add ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, salt & pepper, followed by reserved rib juice.

Once the ribs are baked, let them cool for about 10 - 15 minutes.  Then carefully open tin foil, just enough to create a small funnel to release the juices.  Funnel those juices directly into your homemade Double Done BBQ Sauce, and stir to combine.  If you'd prefer, feel free to swap water for meat juice instead.

Re-wrap ribs (using same tin foil), and place somewhere cool, if preparing ahead.  Or unwrap tinfoil from ribs and proceed to BBQ.  Same with sauce: pour into jar, and refrigerate until ready to begin grilling the ribs, or stir up sauce and grill right away.

Preheat grill, to a medium - high heat with a low flame.  Slather ribs generously with homemade sauce, and turn ribs every 5 minutes or so, reapplying sauce on each side, so you get a delicious caramelized exterior with your preferred amount of char.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Holy Moly, Guacamole!

I'm always in pursuit of the next best food creation, it must be the researcher in me.  Always searching for something tastier, faster, better...that I forget all about my tried and true recipes.  This guacamole recipe, is one I can always rely on, and is much requested, and repeated dish in my house.
I learned how to make guac (guac = is short for guacamole, in Koots speak;)), from my best friends mom, Kathy.  Kath's guac was THE best guac in the Kootenays!  Once, before I moved to Calgary with all my girlfriends, they even had it shipped via airmail (!), from Nelson, with disastrous results!  I'm sure all the girls would have a giggle at the memory of this oozing care package.  But, I would imagine, in our late teens, far from home, to have that taste of Kath's guac, and all the memories that go with it, would make it worth a shot!

When I was home last summer, all the girlfriends got together at the Harris', and of course Kath had a big ol' bowl of guac on the table along with an amazing spread.  I noticed that her recipe has changed slightly, one thing I remember is the addition of cilantro?  Darn that wine!
My interpretation of the recipe has also changed slightly over the years.  I used to add sour cream and mayo, but have found I don't miss it (or the calories!) without them.   An avocado is creamy enough on it's own!  A couple-few avocados, along with a few other simple ingredients can be thrown together in minutes, never fails to impress, and for some of us, brings back the best of memories!


4-5 ripe avocados
1-2 lime(s), juiced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped (purple or white)
1 tomato, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Have ready a medium sized bowl.  Slice each avocado from stem to tip, rotating the knife 'round the pit.  Twist, and them turn the avocado, pulling apart as you do so, and the pit should remain on one half.  If the avocado is sufficiently ripe, you should be able to pop out the pit by grasping/gripping with your fingers. Or alternately, carefully using a sharp knife, bring swiftly down onto the pit, so it adheres, and then remove then knife, that will take the pit with it!
Using a spoon, scoop out the ripe fruit of the avocados, and place in the bowl, and then mash it all up up with fork.  Add the juice of the lime, minced garlic, as well as the salt & pepper, and mash some more, chunks are yummy, leave them.  Finally add the chopped onion and tomatoes, and stir to incorporate.  Taste, and add more salt & pepper, or lime as you wish!  Serve straight away, accompanied by tortilla chips or veggies, or smear it on toast!
If making ahead there are a few options to avoid browned (brown = oxidized) guac:
1) Place a spare pit or two in the top of the guacamole, and cover securely with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
2) Squeeze extra lime juice over the top, and then mix well prior to serving.
3) Using a well-sealing container, cover the guacamole with a layer of water until ready to eat, and then pour off water and mix before serving.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Trail Mix Popcorn!

I cannot believe it has been so, so, long since I've shared a popcorn recipe with you!  My air popper kicked the dust a few months back, and I kinda lost my popcorn mojo along with it.  I still had my Whirley-Pop as a back up, and was still faithfully eating my Friday popcorn meal, but just hadn't got my stuff together enough to post about anything I could get excited about.  But low and behold, for my Mother's Day present, my sweet little fam gifted me a new air popper!!  A beautiful red Cuisinart model of my dreams!  It was enough to reignite my popcorn inspirations, with a new muse at my side.

For this Trail Mix Popcorn, I used my coconut oil, honey and sea salt recipe, and built on it with the addition of cinnamon, and then a whole bunch extra yummy's.  I was originally just going to add nuts and seeds, But once I got started adding stuff, it was hard to stop!  You know how when you buy a big ol' bag of trail mix, and you end up picking out all the raisins & chocolate chips, crossing your fingers behind your back when somebody calls you on it?  Can't be just me?!
The addition trail mix to this sweet and salty popcorn is pretty beyond, plus you get to customize your trail mix your way, so you don't feel like something is missing, or end up picking through it for the good stuff you crave!

Trail Mix Popcorn

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
sea salt to taste
Trail Mix ideas: shredded or ribbon coconut; chocolate or carob chips; sunflower seeds; cashews; peanuts; almonds; M&M's; pumpkin seeds; raisins; pretzels; Etc. Etc. Etc!

I use a air-popper for my popcorn, and then do my best to remove any unpopped kernels.  My technique is to use two bowls, shake the the first bowl so the seeds fall to the bottom, and then transfer to the second bowl by hand.
In a small pot, melt your coconut oil, and add honey, stirring until the two blend (you could also do this step in the microwave).  Pour about half over the popcorn, sprinkle with sea salt and cinnamon, and give popcorn a toss (you may need to toss with your hands), then add the second half of the coconut oil & honey and another sprinkling of sea salt and more cinnamon, tossing again, so that it's distributed throughout the popcorn.  Finally add in all your Trail mix goodies! Because of their weight, the trail mix add-ins will naturally gravitate towards the bottom of the bowl, so toss as you nosh!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chewy Toasted Sesame Kamut Bars

I was reorganizing my pantry this past weekend, and unearthed some long forgotten treats and treasures.  One thing I found was a big ol' bag of Puffed Kamut cereal, it was about to expire, and I needed to find a way to get the kids to eat it!
Kamut (ka-moot), if you're not familiar, is an ancient grain which closely resembles puffed wheat, and tastes very similar as well...maybe slightly more nutty in flavour.  Kamut does contain gluten, but has been said to be "easier to digest", and some people who don't tolerate wheat well, can tolerate kamut.  I myself don't have Celiac disease, but I would love to hear from those of you who do, and your experience with kamut!  

What I love about these bars in particular, is the taste of the roasty-toasty sesame seeds, the crunch of nuts and sunflower seeds, and the chew of the kamut, almost like a "rice crispy"square, but replaced with healthier ingredients.  It's a fast and easy no-bake recipe, and got a thumbs up by grown-ups and kids alike at my house!

Chewy Toasted Sesame Kamut Bars

1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or roasted peanuts (optional)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups Kamut Puffs

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, or grease with coconut oil or butter, and set aside.  
Using a medium sized pan, over medium-high heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring & keeping an eye to ensure they don't burn!  Using the same pan & keeping the same heat, add the peanut butter, honey, brown rice syrup, and salt.  Stir until whole mixture is warmed through, and well combined.  Remove pan from heat, and add the cereal, and sunflower seeds or peanuts if your using them.  Stir until completely incorporated.
Pour into the prepared baking dish, and spread as evenly as your able.  Transfer the dish to the fridge to cool completely, before cutting into bars.  They stay chewy when kept in the fridge, but are more soft kept covered at room temperature. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Falafel Roasted Chickpeas

During my first pregnancy, which ended in the birth of my lovely daughter, I took the term "eating for two" quite literally.  I was lucky to never have experienced morning sickness, with either of my pregnancies, but when I got hungry...I got REALLY hungry.  Like, that kind of hungry where you feel like your stomach is eating itself, hungry!  It would almost turn to nausea if I didn't eat right away!! I even had to keep food in my pockets, lest the hunger grumbles came on in the middle of a work shift or mid-commute.  What's a regular amount of calories a pregnant woman should add to her diet?  100?!  I probably ate quadruple that!  My husband always tells the tale of when he knew I had given up; I was sitting on the couch watching Oprah, and crying into the container of ice cream I was just eating straight out of! hahaha.  I had cravings galore, not crazy person cravings, I just wanted everything.  All of it.  In my mouth.
One of my regular hankerings, was for falafels.  I worked in downtown Calgary at the time, and would waddle my way to Falafel King at least once a week.  By the end of my pregnancy they knew me by name, and even gave me free baklava!

Every once in a while, I still get an insatiable craving for a falafel, but I just can't afford the calories.  One way to indulge the craving, but still stay on track is with these Falafel Roasted Chickpeas.  They are an amazing crunchy little snack, and make a great topping to a deconstructed falafel sandwich salad.  All the flavour, but none of the guilt.

Falafel Roasted Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, drained, well-rinsed, and dried.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together all the spices, and set aside.  Lay out paper towels on a large baking sheet, and pour out the chickpeas onto the paper towels.  Gently pat/rub the chickpeas to remove excess moisture.  Use the paper towels to move the chickpeas momentarily to the side.  Use the same baking sheet, and add the olive oil, then return the chickpeas to the pan, and evenly sprinkle the spices over the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  I kept mine stored at room temperature, in an uncovered container, so they would retain crispiness. These are great to top a falafel inspired salad, or simply enjoyed as a snack.