Fresh Pineapple

I love fresh pineapple. For years, I tried to figure out a way to remove the woody core from the centre of the slices and still end up with a nice looking pineapple ring.

All you need is a sharp biscuit cutter approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Once the pineapple has been sliced, I just place the cutter over the core and “punch” it through. This is a great way to prepare the pineapple for an upside-down cake where the pineapple at the bottom becomes the top when you invert the cake.

20120330-142048.jpg

20120330-142104.jpg

Advertisements

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

If you go to “www.foodnetwork.com” and check recipes from The Barefoot Contessa, you should be able to access this recipe. The episode was aired yesterday at 12:30 p.m. The title of the show was “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner”.

If you are lucky enough to own “Barefoot Contessa at Home”, the recipe is from that book.

While making the recipe, I was relieved that I had cooked the whole package of lasagna noodles since I had some sticking and tearing issues so it was good to have extra pieces. As you can see from the photos, I placed the cooked noodles on a silpat to avoid sticking.

I also didn’t discard the mushroom stems, as stated in her recipe. I just trimmed the ends and sliced the stems into 1/4 inch slices.

I made this ahead of time which I always do, if possible.

20120329-122557.jpg

20120329-122607.jpg

20120329-122625.jpg

20120329-122633.jpg

20120329-122648.jpg

20120329-122701.jpg

20120329-122712.jpg

20120329-122723.jpg

20120329-190521.jpg

Kyocera Slicer

This is a great tool for slicing vegetables into very thin slices. I want to saute this onion so I am using this tool to obtain thin slices. I always slice and saute the whole peeled onion. I can always use the leftovers in salads or on sandwiches.

I purchased this at Williams-Sonoma and I think it was around $40.00 two years ago. I have also seen it on ebay.

The best part is that you just put it in the dishwasher when you are finished.

It is great for most firm vegetables – even potatoes!

20120328-120158.jpg

20120328-121420.jpg

20120328-131247.jpg

20120328-131255.jpg

Roasted Peppers

I bought a large bag of peppers at Costco last week. The price was just too good to resist. I knew I would not be able to use them all up before they started to go bad. I decided to roast and peel them. I then sliced them into strips and stored them in olive oil. The olive oil will act as a “confit” – a method of preserving food in fat. I have them in the fridge and and can use them on sandwiches, in salads or even in a pasta dish or on homemade pizza.

20120326-095753.jpg

20120326-095807.jpg

20120326-095835.jpg

Spring Cleaning for the Fridge

About four times a year I gut the fridge. I can never figure out why it is gets so dirty! I generally do a decent cleaning about every two weeks, but this is a “project”.

I remove everything that I possibly can, wash it in the sink and if the weather is co-operating, dry the shelves and drawers outside.

When I put it all back together, it looks like a brand new sub-zero.

This is also a great opportunity to purge old food and you get a good inventory of what condiments you actually have on hand. It seems to be some kind of law of nature that stuff just gets pushed to the back of the fridge and “lost”. It can be quite amazing what you find!

20120322-120821.jpg

20120322-120853.jpg

20120322-120905.jpg

20120322-120924.jpg

20120322-120937.jpg

20120322-134218.jpg

20120322-134232.jpg

Make-up brushes

Over the years I have invested a lot of money in good make-up brushes. The reason they are still like new is that once a week I try to wash the concealer brushes. Once a month I do all of the brushes. I love to dry them outdoors on a sunny day so the sun can act as a disinfectant.

I fill my bathroom sink with warm water and a capful of The Laundress All Purpose Cleaner. I place the brushes in the soapy water and let them soak for about five minutes. I usually have to rub the concealer brushes with a little extra cleaner until there is no residue on the brushes.

I drain the sink and fill it with warm water and return the brushes to the sink and leave them for a few minutes.

I remove them from the sink, give the larger ones a shake to remove the excess water and place them on a clean towel. I like to arrange the brush head so they hang over the edge of the towel to avoid any bends in the bristles.

Depending on the weather they are usually fully dried within a few hours especially if is a warm sunny day. You can place them on any flat outdoor surface to dry.

20120322-105159.jpg

20120322-105210.jpg

20120322-105227.jpg

Strawberry Tart

I am making a strawberry tart. Refer to my pastry recipe on January 22 when I made an apple pie. You will only need half the recipe, but make the whole thing and freeze the other half in a ziplock bag for another day. Just defrost it in the fridge overnight.

Here is the filling.

2 pints of fresh strawberries, washed, drained and sliced into approximately 1/4 slices
2 tsp white sugar or to taste for sprinkling on top of finished tart

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (use the Italian)
1/2 heavy cream
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the cheese and heavy cream in the bowl of electric mixer Place bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. Beat cheese and cream with sugar and vanilla until it is very stiff, but not broken. Refrigerate until needed.

After you have rolled and chilled the tart dough for thirty minutes, cover it with foil and pie weights and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil and weights and return to the over for approximately five minutes. I just keep checking on it because you want it a nice golden brown, but not too dark. Remove tart shell from oven and cool completely.

Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of the tart shell and top with sliced strawberries. Sprinkle desired amount of sugar on top.

I use this mascarpone filling for different fruit tarts.

20120318-173304.jpg

20120318-173339.jpg

20120318-175121.jpg

20120318-181617.jpg

20120318-174400.jpg

20120318-184212.jpg

20120318-184222.jpg

20120318-184534.jpg

Pansies

When this unbelievably warm spring weather arrived last week, I decided to empty my front planters and get rid of the “Christmas” look.

Pansies are a cheap and cheerful way to welcome spring. They can tolerate relatively cold night-time temperatures.

Nothing looks sadder than empty pots on a beautiful day just begging to be filled with flowers.

20120318-153747.jpg

20120318-153808.jpg

Pissaldadiere

This is a “french pizza”.

Here is the recipe. I would serve it with a simple green salad and a bagette and you have dinner.

For the topping

1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/12 tsp kosher salt
2 whole cloves of garlic

For the dough (makes 2 pissaladieres)

1/ 1/4 cup warm (100 to 110 degrees) water
2 envelopes dry yeast or 2 oz fresh yeast
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt

To assemble each pissaladiere

cornmeal
12 French black olives (pitted)

For the topping heat olive oil in large saute pan, cook onions, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic over low heat for 45 minutes. Toss onions from time to time. After 30 minutes, remove garlic, chop it roughly and return to onions.

For the dough combine, water, yeast, honey and olive oil in bowl of mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix for a few seconds and then add three cups of flour and salt. While mixing add the remaining flour, if you need it. You are looking for a soft dough. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl and knead a few times on a well floured board. Transfer dough to large bowl with olive oil in the bottom and cover. Allow to rest for about thirty minutes.

Preheat over to 450 degrees.

Divide dough in 2 equal parts. There is only enough topping for one so I roll the remaining dough in a ball, wrap it well and freeze it for another time. Place the remaining ball on a well-floured board and cover it loosely with a damp towel. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough with a rolling pin and stretch it to a 10 X 15 inch rectangle and place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

Spread the onion mixture onto the dough leaving a 3/4 inch border all around. Artfully arrange the olives on top and brush the edge of the dough with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is crisp. Serve hot.

Sometimes I also top this will some sliced tomatoes, if I have them on hand. If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge, warm them in a low oven and you have lunch the following day.

20120317-161753.jpg

20120317-161802.jpg

20120317-161813.jpg

20120317-161820.jpg

20120317-161833.jpg

20120317-161840.jpg

20120317-161902.jpg

20120317-161929.jpg

20120317-161937.jpg

20120317-162533.jpg

20120317-162541.jpg

20120317-174537.jpg

20120317-174552.jpg

20120317-175002.jpg

20120317-180122.jpg

20120317-180639.jpg

20120317-190912.jpg

20120317-190956.jpg

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

I was watching the Barefoot Contessa this morning and she made this recipe. I have been making these scones for years. I got inspired and decided to make a batch. Here is the recipe.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal plus additional for sprinkling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 lb cold unsalted butter diced
1/2 cold buttermilk
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 extra-large eggs lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with milk or water for egg wash.

Glaze

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of the electric mixer combine all dry ingredients on low. Blend in diced butter on lowest speed until butter is in pea-sized pieces. Combine buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add quickly to the flour/butter mixture. Mix until just blended. This dough is sticky.

Roll the dough on a very well floured surface. Flour your hands and the rolling pin and roll until about 1 inch thick. Use a 3 inch round or fluted cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.

Make the glaze by combining confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes and drizzle each scone with 1 tbsp of the glaze and sprinkler some oatmeal on top for garnish.

20120315-135754.jpg

20120315-135805.jpg

20120315-135821.jpg

20120315-135831.jpg

20120315-135840.jpg

20120315-140417.jpg

20120315-135848.jpg

20120315-142241.jpg

20120315-142248.jpg

20120315-144803.jpg