Meat and Potatoes: Pan-seared Ribeye with Hasselback Potatoes

These candy cane striped gems are Hasselback potatoes. Named for the Hasselbacken restaurant in Stockholm, they're simply roasted potatoes with a fancy cut. Just a few thin slices and the potatoes will fan out like little accordions in the oven.

In addition to looking pretty, the cuts leave pockets for butter and seasoning. They also allow the potatoes to cook faster. Baking potatoes might crisp up better, but I went with red-skinned ones for their autumnal hue.

Recipe after the jump!

eaT Tea: Earl Grey Cupcakes

When I'm in need of a caffeine boost, I usually reach for tea rather than coffee. My tea of choice is usually plain ol' English Breakfast, no matter the time of day. I rarely drink Earl Grey, but I really like the floral qualities in this fragrant cupcake. Earl Grey's distinctive flavour comes from bergamot orange rind which translates surprisingly well in baked goods.

The recipe I used comes from the quaintly named Hummingbird Bakery in London. The tea flavour is fairly light in the cake so I'd recommend infusing two extra tea bags in the milk overnight before using it. Cold infusing the tea gives a better, stronger flavour in the batter. 

I improvised the Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting here since I couldn't find an official recipe. I stuck with the Earl Grey theme, but a zesty citrus frosting would be great too. In addition to steeped tea, there are tea leaves in the buttercream (which, truth be told, don't add that much more to the flavour). They're very finely ground so that they don't interfere with the silky smooth texture of the buttercream. I think the Earl Grey flavour definitely comes through in the frosting more than in the cake.

Recipe after the jump!


Almond Biscotti

Yes yes, this is yet another almond cookie. But this time, we're travelling from, erm, Chinatown to Italy for biscotti. This twice-baked cookie is crunchy and perfect for dipping into coffee or wine. The recipe I used incorporates butter so it deviates slightly from traditional recipes which don't use any fat. The added butter gives it the perfect not-too-hard texture so you can enjoy it sans dunking.

Contrary to my earlier advice, I find it is actually easier to get nice slices without crumbling if you use a serrated knife and a sawing motion. Also, chopping up the nuts a bit before adding them allows the dough to hold together better, again minimizing crumbling. It's a good idea to toast the nuts before adding them for maximum crunch, but they will toast up a bit more during the final (second) baking.  

Recipe after the jump!


Bites of Beet: Roasted Beet, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Maple Glazed Salmon

I can't believe it's taken me four years to get around to writing a post featuring the blog's namesake root vegetable. So, in its blog debut, the beetroot is featured in a simple salad with some classic flavour combinations, perfect for the warm and sunny weather that has been sticking around lately.

The Salad Formula

Sweet: Roasted beets, d'Anjou pear
Sour: Maple vinaigrette
Salty: Goat cheese
Bitter: Mixed greens
Creamy: Goat cheese
Crunchy: Toasted pecans

Beets can be a bit messy to prepare. This is how I usually cook them to avoid leaving the kitchen stained bright pink:
Coat whole, unpeeled beets in olive oil and wrap them in a foil packet. (You may want to quarter them if they're really large.) Roast at 400 F until tender. You can test this by poking one with a paring knife. Let the beets cool until you can handle them easily. Use a paper towel to rub the skins off and keep your fingers from getting stained. I find it also helps to coat your fingers with a little oil so the beet juice washes off more easily.  

The sweet and salty glaze on this salmon gives it a nice char if, like me, you're too lazy to use a grill. I don't have a particular recipe for this; it's just a combination of soy sauce, maple syrup, and pepper. Coat the fish in the glaze and pan-fry both sides over medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes a side. 


Operation Bakery Clone: Chinese Almond Cookies

I was a fan of the Top Secret Recipe books when I discovered them a few years ago. As their title suggests, the recipes are formulated to mimic restaurant dishes and commercial food products. There are recipes for everything from Big Macs to Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. 

This recipe is supposed to clone Twin Dragon Almond Cookies. I'm not familiar with that particular brand-- I just know that these crunchy little cookies are just like the ones that are often served with dessert at Chinese restaurants. They're less delicate than shortbread but have a similar crumbly, sandy quality. 

I made some substitutions (using shortening, unblanched almonds, and whole wheat flour) so the colour is darker than the bakery versions. I've made them before following the recipe exactly as written and can confirm that it does indeed make some pretty tasty clones.

Recipe after the jump!


Appetizing Aromatherapy: Thai Green Curry

I make curry quite regularly, especially when I'm pressed for time. Toss some curry paste, coconut milk, meat and veggies into a pot and you get a pretty tasty meal that can last a few days. In those cases, I'll use jarred curry paste that you can get at the store. However, I always find that I need to use a lot of it and the flavour is a little flat (maybe I just need to look for another brand...) Since I had too much time on my hands (such luxury!), I made the paste from scratch this time.

Curry paste preparation is virtually aromatherapeutic. Just chopping up lemongrass, cilantro, basil and lime releases incredibly appetizing smells. When the curry paste comes in contact with a hot pan, the delectable fragrance that is released is enough to call your diners to the table. I don't know if I'll go back to using the jarred stuff again!  

Thai green curry with tofu, bell pepper, carrot and green beans

Recipe after the jump!


Summer Salad: Fig, Prosciutto and Parmesan Frico

You know it's late summer when fresh figs start popping up everywhere. This salad makes use of a classic combination of ingredients. The figs' grainy, jammy sweetness works really well with salty proscuitto. In fact, goat cheese stuffed figs wrapped in prosciutto make a great appetizer, but that's another recipe.

The lacy parmesan frico adds some extra crunch and is a simple salad garnish to make. Finely grate some parmesan cheese and drop tablespoonfuls onto a lightly greased parchment lined baking tray. Bake at 300F for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned (Keep an eye on it. It burns easily!) Allow it to cool before serving. 

The Formula:

Sweet: Black Mission figs
Sour: Balsamic vinaigrette
Salty: Prosciutto, parmesan frico
Bitter: Mixed greens
Creamy: Goat cheese
Crunchy: Parmesan frico