Monthly Archives: December 2013

No Bake Cheese Cake

Seeing as how classic new york cheese cake is in my top 5 favourite desserts of all time, it comes as a bit of a surprise that I actually like Gordon Ramsay’s no bake cheese cake even more. The original recipe can be found here: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/gordon-ramsay/vanilla-cheesecake-recipe however, I had some left over Captain Morgan from the weekend among other things:

Ingredients:

For the topping:

  • 6 – Mr. Christie’s Arrowroot Cookies
  • 6tbsp – Sugar
  • 75g – Unsalted Butter

For the cake:

  • 400g – cream cheese
  • 6tbsp – icing sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600ml – double cream
  • icing sugar to dust
  • fresh mint to garnish

For the berries:

  • 200g – blueberries
  • 100g – pomegranate
  • splash of rum

Cheesecake

 

Method:

For the topping:

  • crush arrowroot cookies into tiny pieces
  • melt the sugar into a light caramel
  • to prevent the caramel from becoming too dark, take it off the heat as soon as the colour is right and add in cold butter to cool down the caramel
  • add the crushed biscuits and coat them in the caramel

For the cake:

  • Combine all of the ingredients except for the icing sugar and the mint in a large bowl
  • Keep cool in fridge to make it easier to shape

For sauce:

  • Combine berries and pomegranate in a pot and bring to a boil
  • After some of the berries burst deglaze the pan with a splash of rum and turn down the heat to a simmer
  • take off the heat when the sauce reaches desired thickness

I finish the cheesecake with the crushed arrowroot cookies on top and some fresh mint. This lighter take on a cheesecake works well when you don’t want to go into an everlasting food coma.

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Butternut Squash Soup w/ Fried Potatoes and Fresh Sage

After coming home and eating Pho 3 meals in a row I decided it was time for a change. Having had so much beef in the last 48 hours I decided to do something vegetarian. In the Mai household, vegetarian meals are not considered complete so it was to my surprise when everyone said they were on board for a soup.

I started off by roasting some butternut squash and some garlic in a 400f oven for an hour. After it cooled down I put everything in with a handful of chopped sage and a cup of cooking cream into a pot to incorporate. After all the flavours have gotten to know each other I blend it until smooth and serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Soup

 

I finish the smooth soup with some crunchy fried potatoes which I made while the squash was roasting away in the oven. The contrast in texture and the bold creamy flavours make this a great holiday starter.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi

As winter makes its presence more obvious, I decided that I use the sage in my garden before it became too late. Less than 24 hours after I picked the sage came a pretty sizeable snowstorm. Feeling blessed for what I had I decided to make something I had never actually made before. Usually, Gnocchi is made with potatoes however I decided to go with roasted butternut squash which would help explain the colour (if you were wondering).

Even after an hour and a half at 400f the squash still had a really wet consistency. I decided to cook it out in a pan to thicken it as we were going to have to make pasta after all. It was here I added the sage and nutmeg to give it a more seasonal twist. After adding an egg and some flour I rolled everything into a long stick of dough before cutting into bite sized pieces.

I was quite amazed at how much the gnocchi grew in size during the boiling period. I decided to finish the gnocchi in a pan with some brown butter.

Gnocchi

 

With all the carbohydrates and fat in the gnocchi at this point, I felt like it would be too rich. I was right. I decided it would be best if some acid came to the rescue which is why I finish the dish with some balsamic vinegar.

Gnocchi

 

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Braised Pork Belly Revisited

In June I decided to write about Dongpo Pork which can be seen here. I used the ingredients I was used to eating growing up. Here however, I decided to put a wintery touch to it. I recently met someone who did not know of Innis and Gunn / lived under a rock. After speaking with this person I realized that perhaps Innis and Gunn was not as popular as I had thought as I probably had a very distorted view of the successes of my favourite brewery. It was then that I decided to try my luck at cooking with one of my favourite beers.

Braised Pork Belly

 

The dish actually does not have very many elements to it. First, I toast some pine nuts in some butter for about 5 minutes. Blending this gives you a delicious pine nut butter that can be used in place of peanut butter if you are getting bored. Next, I braise some pork belly in some Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter and brown sugar caramel.  A low and slow 3 hour simmer will leave you with the definition of melt in your mouth. Next, I poach some turned beet root in some Innis and Gunn as well. This yields a beautiful complex sweet, bitter, and oaky juice on top of course the actual beets.

I like to sit the turned beets and braised pork belly on top of the pine nut butter before spooning over some of that magnificent Innis and Gunn beet juice. I finish the dish with some sun flower sprouts. I realize that these aren’t exactly the most wintery of plants but I personally like how it helps the beets liven up an otherwise rich plate.

Braised Pork Belly

 

I really enjoy the oaky elements that the Innis and Gunn adds to the dish. I think it enhances the effect of the massive amounts of glutamic acid imparted onto the pork belly during the slow cook. This umami dense dish is one that I will continue to work on as I am encouraged by how tasty the first attempt was.

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Gà kho gừng sả ớt | Ginger and Lemongrass Braised Chicken Thighs

There is a first for everything. I’ve always been against recipes on my blog perhaps because there are millions of them already out there and that it went against my wanting to provide transferable cooking tips. However, I’ve decided that I can still give these tips regardless of a recipe inclusion. Alas, here it is:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 lemongrass stems, finely diced (white part only)
  • 2 long red chillies, finely diced
  • 600g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 300g young coconut juice
  • 20g salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sized onion cut into wedges
  • cilantro sprigs to garnish
  • ginger to garnish

Braised Chicken

 

Prep:

Combine the fish sauce, sugar, and coconut juice and dissolve the sugar at a light simmer. Let cool and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Add half of the lemongrass, half of the garlic, half of the chilli and all of the chicken. Brine for 2-3 hours.

Cook:

Bring a large pan to medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and the remaining lemongrass, garlic, and chilli. Stir-fry for 30 seconds before tossing in the onion wedges. Sweat the onions and the reserve the contents of the pan in a bowl.

Strain the chicken before patting it dry. Make sure to keep the brining liquid. Bring the pan to a high heat and then seal the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown all over.

Now add in the brining liquid as well as the reserved onion, garlic, lemongrass, and chilli mixture. Cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. This is going to be 5-10 minutes depending on how aggressive a definition you’ve attached to the word simmer.

Garnish with julienned ginger and sprigs of cilantro.

Braised Chicken

 

I use to have this growing up all the time. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized how much I appreciated it. As the holidays draw near, I am struck with special holiday memories of traditions that only come around once a year. This came around on a weekly basis but I don’t appreciate it any less.

Tip: You may have noticed that I said to only use the white part of the lemongrass. The green part can always be steeped in hot water with a spoonful of honey to make the most delicious sweet lemongrass tea. It is a perfect accompaniment to this dish!

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