Monday, July 29, 2013

homemade barbecue sauce

Dear Reader, I have not been having an easy time of it in the kitchen.

In the past couple of weeks, I have attempted to adapt my grandmother's brickle recipe to be gluten-free. That's a kind of frozen pecan and caramel crumble with a layer of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Kind of hard to get wrong. You would think.

Well, it was OK. A bit too sweet, not quite crumbly enough, kind of hard on the teeth.

Then I pulled out my. favourite. cook. book. ever. and attempted a white gazpacho soup with almonds and grapes.

It was so odd that I can't even think of the words to describe it. Kind of fluffy and acidic. Which probably doesn't make your mouth water.

Well, how about a simple mango gelato recipe with yogurt, honey and lime? Just  weird. The lime reminded me of salsa, which is not what I was going for in a dessert.

Saturday morning, I pulled out a very reliable breakfast cook book, mashed up some bananas and made banana oat cakes.

I fried them on the griddle, in lots of butter as directed, and they became mushy, gritty pucks.

  Instead of photos of bad food, here's my deck pot.
Isn't it pretty?

Now, when I go into the kitchen, Scott says, "Please don't make any more weird recipes." Which really boosts my confidence.

However, in the midst of all my bad luck, I did learn how to make a good barbecue sauce.

I don't know about you, but I get very frustrated when I try to buy barbecue sauce because the first ingredient is always some kind of chemical sugar. I did find a local company that makes barbecue sauce sweetened with honey, and I like it, but I wouldn't mind a bit more kick.

Enter Martha Stewart. (I won't call her "ever-reliable" because, with my recent track record, who knows what will happen the next time I attempt one of her recipes?)

With hot sauce, ketchup, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic, this barbecue sauce has a kick. It also has brown sugar and molasses, so it is sweetened but I wouldn't call it a very sweet sauce.

Martha has an excellent technique for barbecuing oiled and salted chicken (we did all thighs with skin that got crisp and tasty), where you don't baste the meat with the sauce until just before it's done cooking. That means the sugars don't burn black and the chicken finishes up with a nice glaze.

We had extra sauce, so we also tried it on sausages, with the same technique of just brushing it on at the end. We loved it. It was, I thought, finally good enough to be a recipe I could share with you.

Make this sauce. It takes 10 minutes. It actually works.

one year ago: eton mess with boozy berries
two years ago: german zucchini soup and sun tea
three years ago: minestrone with summer herbs and chocolate raspberry horse turds

martha stewart's barbecue sauce
from Martha Stewart
yields about 1 1/4 cups of sauce

1/2 c. ketchup
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/3 c. cider vinegar
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer for 5  7 minutes, or until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups. Use what you need and store the rest in the fridge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

silken chocolate mousse

Years ago, I discovered the chocolate mousse with raspberries at the Ogden Point Café in Victoria.

It was served in a tall parfait glass with a thick layer of raspberries in the middle and a few more on top for good measure. With a cup of hot tea, it was just the thing after a bracing walk along the breakwater at Ogden Point.

For such a rich and creamy dessert, it always sat surprising well in my tummy.

Years later, I heard that the mousse was actually made with silken tofu. Mystery solved, I thought, and filed it away. Why I didn't act on that information immediately vexes me now that I have made this mousse myself.

Fast-forward to this June.

Sheri and her family were coming from New Zealand to stay with us for a couple of days. Sheri and I met in university and got to know each other over many cups of tea and chocolate-y cookies and treats.

Even though we haven't lived in the same city for 13 years, we've always shared recipes over the miles and treats when we meet up. But now Sheri can't eat gluten, dairy or eggs.

Given our history of sharing treats, I was determined to serve dessert  and not just fruit salad. (Scott and I have heated debates about whether fruit salad is a valid dessert and I maintain it is not.)

I thought and thought and eventually pulled the Ogden Point chocolate mousse out of the recesses of my brain. Aha! A quick search turned up the ever-reliable Michael Smith with a recipe. With three ingredients. I was sold.

Michael Smith calls this the "world's fastest chocolate mousse" and I have to say I agree. It's all done (and chilling in the fridge) in under ten minutes  although I will not discount the dish washing, which includes a pot with melted chocolate. So let's say 20 minutes from start to mousse chilling to clean kitchen.

If you have some doubts about including tofu in your mousse, try to let them go. As long as you get silken tofu, it really does whip up to be smooth and creamy. The mousse doesn't taste even remotely like tofu because tofu is just the carrier: it absorbs the chocolate and vanilla flavours and gives them body.

You may also choose to do what I did for other dessert guests. I didn't mention it had tofu until they were licking their lips and asking me for the recipe.

related: caramel chocolate mousse 
one year ago: salmon with warm tomato basil oil and balancing tofino and the plane
two years ago: kristina's nuss kuchen and german zucchini tomato soup
three years ago: loganberry jelly

silken chocolate mousse
from Michael Smith
serves 6

227 g. (8 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped roughly
227 g. (8 oz.) silken tofu
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
250 g. (1 c.) rasperries

Put the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or a metal bowl suspended over simmering water. Melt the chocolate and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Blend the tofu in a food processor until smooth and uniform. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and process until perfectly smooth. Scrape into individual dessert cups. Refrigerate until set (not long, perhaps one hour).

Serve with a generous amount of raspberries on top.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

asian slaw

This is Asian slaw piled on top of pulled pork, which has been piled on top a homemade (gluten-free!) bun.

It's one of those iconic summer dinners that I could eat any time of year.

The dressing for the slaw is flavoured with nutritional yeast flakes. I know, I know, that sounds too healthy to be tasty, but you just need to trust me here. You should be able to find nutritional yeast flakes in the healthy section of your grocery store. I don't even know how to describe what those little flakes do to the dressing they make it savoury and umami and totally moreable.

Here's what one brand looks like (along with their friend the toasted sesame seed):

Otherwise, this slaw is pretty darn easy. Slice your cabbage as finely as you have patience for, grate your carrots (hopefully without grating your fingers) and toss them with cilantro and green onion. Stir in the mystery dressing, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and voilà! you're eating Asian slaw.

You don't have to pair it with pulled pork. We also like it with West Coast crab cakes and mango and fennel chutney, adapted from Whitewater Cooks. I think it would work with burgers, too, and pretty much anything you could barbecue.

I've given you proportions to make extra dressing because it is so very good. You could put it on the glory bowl or plain quinoa or cous cous or any kind of salad, just for starters . . .

P.S. Speaking of barbecues, we just got one! Very exciting times at our house. Do you have any favourite barbecue recipes to share?

one year ago: penne with sausage and greens and salmon with warm tomato basil oil
two years ago: kathleen claiborne's hotcakes and kristina's nuss kuchen
three years ago: chilli pasta and honey orange cream

asian slaw
slightly adapted from Whitewater Cooks by Shelley Adams

2 c. green cabbage, chopped finely
2 c. red cabbage, chopped finely
1 c. carrots, grated
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

1/2 c. nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. tamari or soy sauce
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. neutral oil, such as grapeseed, canola or vegetable

First, mix up the dressing. Stir the nutritional yeast flakes, water, tamari, vinegar, tahini and garlic together in a bowl. Blitz with an immersion blender until it's consistent. Then add the oil slowly and blitz it in. Set aside just over 1 cup for the slaw and put the rest in the fridge for another use.

In a big bowl that gives you lots of room to move, mix the cabbages, carrot, cilantro and green onion together. Stir in the cup of dressing. Add more to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

*You won't need all the dressing for the slaw. But it's so good that I think you'll be happy to have it around. Otherwise, halve it.