Food

Pad-Thai Inspired Soup

Soup is the ultimate food and no, I’m not taking feedback on that opinion. And while my family is saying its starting to get too warm for it, I don’t agree and will continue to feed them soup for as long as I can get away with it.

This is one of my favourites, it’s a pantry staple friendly chicken and rice soup that takes its inspiration from pad thai with absolutely no authentic quality to it. It’s endlessly riffable, the kind of thing you can skip, substitute, and add ingredient to with little chance of failure. I’ve made it with only rice, only chicken, with mushrooms and veggie stock for a vegetarian option.

Pad Thai Inspired Chicken and Rice Soup

4-5 chicken breasts (or thighs, both work)

1/2 onion (or 2 shallots)

4(+) cloves of garlic

6 c liquid (all broth, all water, half and half, run wild)

1/2 c white rice

1 tsp soy sauce

1tsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbs crunchy peanut butter

siracha to taste

1 inch fresh ginger + 1 tbsp sugar

cilantro, lime juice, green onion

  • in a large pot or dutch oven, add onion, garlic and chicken and cover with liquid. bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked
  • remove chicken (shred and set aside), remove and discard onion, smash garlic into broth
  • bring broth up to a boil, reduce to simmer and add rinsed rice. let cook for 20ish minutes
  • chop ginger and cover with sugar and enough hot water to cover
  • when rice has cooked add soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, and peanut butter. Stir in ginger and sugar water
  • return chicken to pot, let warm through
  • serve with lime juice, cilantro, and green onion

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Food

apple & cranberry crumble pie

Its pie season, the best kind of dessert season. We don’t eat pumpkin pie or apple pie in my family sadly, my life is full of pecan pie that I lobby against every year to no avail. However, just because it won’t be on my thanksgiving table doesn’t mean I can’t take it to a different thanksgiving. Honestly the best part of ‘friendsgivings’ is that there are no limits, multiple meals means multiple menus. So this pie (and some veggies) came to one friendsgiving already and is headed to another (along with this BA pumpkin pie) tomorrow. Its tart enough to not get lost in the richness of seasonal desserts, filled with warm spices to make it feel like autumn in the best way, and fuss free thanks to a crumble topping that saves you from latticing pie crust until you cry.

I love this pie crust from Erin McDowell (the pie queen, I am very excited for her upcoming pie cookbook), and this video is great for really showing each step! I like to leave mine in the fridge for a day or two so it’s nice and cold and saves time when it comes to assembling and baking.

pie crust

1 pie crust (the recipe above, or any other)

  • par-bake pie crust until just taking on colour (about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven) – this will keep the bottom of the pie from getting soggy from the filling and help it travel well
  • let cool before filling

filling

3 medium tart apples (peeled and sliced)

2 c cranberries

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 c brown sugar

3 tbs butter

2 tbs cornstarch

  • in a large pan on the stove, melt butter and add spices and sugar
  • add in cranberries and apples, cook until cranberries have burst and apples have softened
  • add cornstarch tbs at a time until filling is thick, but still easy to stir

crumble topping

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c demerara sugar (or granulated sugar if you don’t have it)

4 tbs butter

1 c oats

1/2 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom

  • combine in bowl, rubbing in butter until crumble forms

assemble and bake

  • pour filling into pie, and top with crumble in the middle
  • in a 400 degree F oven, bake for 20 minutes or until crumble is golden. If using a glass pie pan, crust will have take on colour
  • let cool before slicing, but the filling should hold its shape to slice. best with ice cream and or spiced whipped cream

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Food

peanut butter & chocolate tart

This tart was my Dad’s birthday dessert, because I knew there was no going wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. The filling is inspired by peanut butter buttercream, which I have seen him eat straight from the mixer, but with cream cheese to play up the texture and tang from peanut butter. This isn’t a particularly sweet dessert, but you could easily make it a little more sweet tooth friendly by using milk chocolate for the ganache!

This tart crust is my absolute favourite, it’s just about fool proof and the foil trick (from Smitten Kitchen) is a million times better than dealing with pie weights. You could do it by hand, or with a pastry cutter, but a food processor makes the trickiest part of this dessert much faster!

Tart Crust

1 1/4 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 c powdered sugar

1/2 c (one stick) cold butter, in pieces

1/2 tsp vanilla

  • preheat oven to 350
  • in the bowl of food processor, combine first three ingredients until mixed
  • add butter and vanilla, blitz until combined and dough comes together
  • set aside marble sized piece of dough (for future repairs)
  • press dough into tart or pie pan, coming all the way up the sides and getting dough as even as possible
  • freeze for 10-15 minutes
  • prick with fork all over and up sides
  • press lightly oiled foil onto dough, no pie weights needed
  • bake for 15 minutes covered, then slowly peel off foil and bake for another 5, crust should be lightly golden
  • chill tart case

Peanut Butter Filling

1/2 c cream cheese

2 tbs butter

1/4 c powdered sugar

3/4 c peanut butter (I microwave the jar to make it easier to measure)

1/2 tsp vanilla

  • beat all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or really really hard by hand) until fluffier
  • chill until ready to fill crust
  • scrape into cooked and chilled crust, smooth into an even layer, place in freezer for 10 minutes

Chocolate Ganache

1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c heavy cream

  • in a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl, slowly melt until incorporated
  • let cool slightly
  • pour over cold tart
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Food

blueberry cardamom scones

scones are the kind of baking you can do half asleep before anyone else is awake without sacrificing much sleep yourself, which means they are probably the only baked good anyone wakes up to in my house. Luckily they’re endlessly riffable and everyone loves a scone, so I haven’t heard any complaints.

blueberry muffins are one of the best foods on earth, but blueberry scones don’t always have the same magic. These scones are dense but soft, and lean away from the buttery sugary richness of muffins into a less sweet and layered flavour that passes as a breakfast food a little easier.

Blueberry Cardamom Scones

2 c flour

2 tbs baking powder

2-3 tbs sugar (adjustable as to how sweet you’d like these to be, also good without sugar in them and just the glaze or sugar on top)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cardamom

2/3 c butter, cubed and cold

1 c blueberries

1/2 c dair (milk, heavy cream, or a mixture of milk with greek yogurt – the later two lends extra moisture to the scones)

  • mix dry ingredients, then rub in cold butter until fully combined. Mixture should hold together when squeezed, but not have visible pieces of butter remaining
  • add milk/cream, bit by bit, until dough fully forms. As it does, fold in blueberries, trying not to overmix.
  • turn out onto a floured surface, and pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 triangles. Place on baking tray lined with parchment paper

before baking top with raw sugar or after cooled top with the glaze below

  • bake at 350F for 15 minutes, until edges pick up colour

Cardamom glaze

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/3 c powdered sugar
  • milk

in a small bowl slowly add milk to combined sugar and cardamom until thick glaze forms. after scones are cooled top with glaze

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Food

peach jam

If summer was a fruit, it would be a peach. It’s peaches from road side stands all over the city, the strange feeling of peach fuzz against your tongue, peaches over vanilla ice cream.

It turns out even though peaches don’t grow all over england like they do central texas, summer is still peach season and therefore there have been peaches in my kitchen non-stop for a month now. Occasionally creative things are done with them, savory dishes, interesting salads, but mostly they’re eaten over the sink with juice dripping everywhere, as god intended.

However, a large number of peaches were made into jam this summer as the filling for this chocolate and peach cake I made for a friend’s birthday. It had been a while since I’d made a layer cake, and to go all out and make the jam as well. And while peach and chocolate may sound like a strange combination, they absolutely work wonders together.

This recipe made 2 jars of jam (someday I’ll measure things, but today is not that day). Most of one went into the 3 layers of cake, so it’s one you could easily cut in half if needed. Peaches don’t have quite the pectin content of something like berries, so there is a fair amount of lemon juice in here.

  • 4 (ish) lbs of peaches (peeled and cut)
  • 3 c white sugar
  • 3 tbs lemon juice

to peel peaches: boil a large pot of water. Cut an ‘x’ into the bottom of each peach. Drop peaches into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then place directly into cold water. This should help the peel come off easily. If not, turns out a vegetable peeler works pretty well (thanks Q for peeling all the peaches that went inside the cake)

Remove pits and cut peaches into pieces, (quarters or slices work).

Add all ingredients to a large pot and stir till combined, bringing to a simmer. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, peaches will fall apart. From here, begin the wrinkle test (I do this by putting a spoon or two in my freezer while the mixture comes to a boil and then testing if the jam sets when dropped onto it), jam should come up to about 220F if you like to measure things by temperature.

When the jam is set, feel free to run an immersion blender through it (off heat) if you want it smoother.

Store in sealing jars, or can if you so desire!

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Food

apple & pecan cake

There are currently 5 cakes in my house. 4 of them are actually layers for one massive cake, but still, it’s a lot of cake. The layer cake is a story for another day (*fingers are still crossed it all works out*) but this one is worth sharing now.

I had a few apples I needed to use up, and since every other ingredient is a pantry-staple, it’s the kind of cake that’s easy to throw together in a few minutes. It’s dense, sitting closer to a bread than you’d expect, and the almond really compliments the apples. While it’s not a flashy, decorative cake, it’s the kind that gets better as it sits on your counter and is perfect to serve with coffee.

2 apples, cored and chopped (approx 1/2 inch pieces)

1 tbs ground cinnamon

3 tbs sugar

chopped pecans (optional)

1 3/4 c (230g) plain flour

1/2 tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 c oil

1 c sugar

2 tbs lemon juice

2 eggs

1-2 tsp almond extract

  • core and chop apples, add pecans and toss with cinnamon and 3 tbs sugar in a small bowl
  • preheat oven to 350/180
  • stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl
  • whisk together oil, sugar, lemon juice, eggs, and almond extract (make it as almond-y as you like)
  • mix wet ingredients into dry and mix till incorporated
  • here the mixture will look way to think, close to dough rather than batter, that’s okay!
  • in a greased and lined loaf pan, layer half the batter, then the apples, then the other half of the batter over top (the top half of the batter may be difficult to spread, doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • bake for 45 minutes to 1 hr (when checking, make sure you test the batter all the way to the bottom, making sure the batter underneath the apples is cooked)
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Food

Brothy Cannellini Soup

Even in July, I crave soup. All seasons are soup season. It’s comforting and easy, and I love foods eaten out of bowls. British summers are mild and cool in the evenings, meaning a light and brothy soup like this works even in the middle of summer. This whole recipe is pantry ingredient friendly, and was the result of wanting to change the beans-on-toast from last week into a different meal the next day. This would also be great with some small pasta or hearty greens added if you have them around.

Brothy Cannellini Soup

1/2 of the beans-on-toast from last week (alternately, plain cannellini beans, you may need to season this simple broth a little more since the beans won’t already be seasoned)

a small onion, peeled and cut in half

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

a few sprigs of tyme

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 parmesan rind (the hard bit at the end of a slice of parm that you should absolutely be saving)

1 veg stock cube

6 c water

  • in a pot, combine all the ingredients except the beans
  • bring to a simmer and leave for about an hour, longer if you have it
  • pull out the garlic cloves, which should be soft, and smash them, adding the paste back to the pot
  • strain broth, discarding the remains
  • if adding pasta, return to heat and add here and cook until the pasta is al dente, or add hearty greens and wilt in residual heat
  • add beans, and season to taste (salt and pepper, I added chili paste for some more heat)
  • serve with bread and a squeeze of lemon juice

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(Cannellini) Beans on Toast

Beans are a truly amazing food, and while black beans will (probably) always be my favourite and british baked beans my least favourite, there is room in the middle for a lot of others. The can of cannellini beans that became these meals sat in my cabinet for months, after I read this Smitten Kitchen recipe that looked like an ideal lunch. However, finding artichokes is much harder than I’d like, so the recipe took a different turn when I got around to making it.

(Cannellini) Beans On Toast

1 can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)

4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

3 tbs olive oil

red pepper flakes

salt

a few handfuls of kale – toss in olive oil and salt/pepper, roast in the oven at about 375f for 10 minutes or until crispy

slices of baguette, toasted

  • heat olive oil in a small pan on medium heat, adding garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking until just turning golden (do not look away, garlic is fickle and will burn if you give it the chance)
  • add in rinsed beans, stirring until warmed through
  • pull off heat, salt to taste
  • top bread with beans and roasted kale, add a grating of parm is you like

I used the second half of these beans to make a very easy soup the next day, since this makes 2-3 portions – that easy soup will be up next week!

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spinach and cheddar strata

you know the last like 1/4 of a loaf of bread, the nice kind you bought for pasta or made but didn’t get around to eating before it got just a little to stale and hard to eat normally? this a constant problem in my life and I have settled on a solution that is nearly as easy as forgetting to eat the bread and results in a great brunch/lunch/dinner because this is one of those foods that has no set time of day and gives you amazing leftovers.

while you could easily add lots more veg and probably some kind of meat to this, this version is very much a clean-out-the-fridge kind of meal than a detailed version. that does not prevent it however, from being incredibly delicious

spinach & cheddar strata

3(ish) cups of cubed dried out bread

1/2 onion white onion diced (aka the onion sitting in the back of your fridge)

1 tbs butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp oregano

most of a bag of spinach (probably about 3 cups?)

1 cup grated cheddar

1/2 grated parmesan

1 cup milk

3-4 eggs

2 tbs wholegrain mustard

  • saute onion in butter until soft, add salt, pepper, and oregano
  • add spinach, cook until soft and remove from heat
  • grease baking dish with butter
  • layer half the bread along the bottom of the dish
  • top with the spinach and onion mixture
  • top with half the cheese mixture
  • place the rest of the bread on top
  • top with the rest of cheese
  • beat together eggs, milk and mustard, pour over dish
  • let soak for about 6+ hours, or overnight
  • bake for about 40-50 minutes, at 350F/180C
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blood orange curd

Apparently, lots of people hate the word ‘curd’, but since people also hate the word ‘moist’ I’ve decided to stop listening when people hate the way words sound. Languages are strange, yes, though I will agree its strange because it comes from/means coagulated milk and unless we’re talking about butter there is no milk in this kind of curd. Cheese curds obviously, but those are also delicious. Curds of all kinds are welcome here.

I have a deep and longtime love of lemon curd. I’ve made it many times over the years, given it as gifts, eaten it with most imaginable pairings (and with a spoon), and my favourite pie is made with it. But after falling in love with blood oranges this year, I wondered why I had never really had much less made any variation on the traditional lemon. So after many a google and search through my favourite recipe blog, I found enough varieties to get comfortable with the kinds of changes involved in switching out the citrus.

If you’ve ever made curd before, you know its much easier than it sounds. And varying the fruit involved is just as easy – I think it comes down to adjusting the sugar ratios to make sure you have the right flavour at the end. After all, not many fruits are quite as sour as lemons. So after a few batches, here a not too sweet quick and easy blood orange curd! This makes essentially a personal sized amount, as in you could eat this before it goes off on your own, about 1 1/2 cups I think.

blood orange (or any citrus) curd

5 egg yolks (I always save the egg whites and only use them about half the time)

3/4c sugar

zest and juice of 4-5 blood oranges

7tbs cold butter, cubed

  • zest and juice oranges
  • in a small saucepan simmer juice until reduced by about half
  • Over a double boiler (heat proof bowl sitting over not touching a pot of boiling water) whisk together eggs, sugar, zest, and concentrated juice
  • add butter cutes one at a time, whisking until combined before adding the next
  • whisk constantly for approximately 10 minutes until thickened
  • strain if desired to remove zest and any possibly cooked egg (I never do, but it may remove some bitterness from the zest)
  • store in air tight jars, refrigerated
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