Just a little ole working gal, who loves food

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Hidden Gem!

I have a very long commute, every day, into Downtown Toronto for work. I have been doing this commute for quite a few years now so it doesn't really bother me too much. However...I do love working downtown because of the food options (this foodie is stretching her wings!). One of my favourite food options is hitting up the St. Lawrence Market.

This place is amazing...you walk in to the warming smells of fresh breads, fish, meats and cheeses. I have spent many lunch hours walking the stalls and picking out gorgeous cuts of steaks and fresh farmers veggies. BUT, the real reason why I come here?

Oh my god...so good.

Mustachio is hidden in the corner of the basement level in the St. Lawrence Market. Every. Single. Time. I have visited there is this huge lineup of others who came for this reason as well

Eggplant and Veal Parmesan Sandwiches.

Thin Crispy Slices of breaded eggplant and Veal, slathered in marinara sauce and sauteed veggies on warmed foccacia bread. Its the best Italian sandwich in town. Hands down. Its also massive...you need to eat this baby in stages.

And for you non-veal lovers? They have chicken too. And pasta.

So get on down there and grab yourself a sandwich, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake!

WARNING: You will need a giant class of milk with this dessert!

It is Rich, sinful, delicious. And a major crowd pleaser!

But honestly...when has chocolate and peanut butter ever not pleased people!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
This is why I really love making this cake...because it starts with a box mix! That's right ladies...BOX MIX. You will need Devil's Food Flavour...nice dark rich chocolate.

 You also will need about 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups. Get those ready before you start!
 In your mixer combine the cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Mix until combined then add the peanut butter cups.
 Mix until just combined...then lick the spoon to make sure it tastes good. Yep. It does.
 Pour the cake into 2 non-stick 8 inch round pans. Bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes, then turned off the heat and let them sit in the oven for 10 minutes. It kept the cake much more moist.
 Once the cakes are baked let them cook in the pans until room temperature. You can always bake these the night before and frost them the day of. Or do some laundry...whatever you feel like doing is fine...just don't try to frost them when they are still warm.
 When you are ready to frost invert 1 cake onto a plate or cake stand.
 Now to make the frosting...or in this case..chocolate, peanut butter ganache. Melt 8 oz of dark chocolate. I was pretty lazy and just stuck it in the microwave for 30 second at a time and whisking in between until melted.
 To the melted chocolate add 1 cup scalding whipping cream. You want to bring the cream to just before the boiling point.
 Also add in 1/2 cup peanut butter

 Whisk until combined!! It should be a little on the thick side.
 Put about 1/2 cup of the ganache on the inverted cake and spread evenly.
 Pop the other cake on top of the other cake
 Using the rest of the ganache, cover the cake completely.
Garnish with more chopped peanut butter cups and gobble up this baby!
This was my lame attempt of 'styling' the cake photo shoot. I probably should have ironed the sheet in the background...Learned that for next time!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Braised Turkey with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Braised meat of any kind. The searing of the meat, then slow cooking in liquid really brings out a delicious flavour in both the meat and the gravy. This lovely recipe was very good..and the turkey was really tender and juicy...I guess a play on thanksgiving if you think about it..Turkey and Sweet Potato's?? Yes Please!

Braised Turkey with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

 When I went to go pick up the turkey meat i was on the hunt for Turkey thighs or Turkey Breasts...both bone in. However...all my butcher had was turkey legs :(
The recipe came out fine, however, turkey legs have a LOT of connective tissue, so it was a bit of a pain when I took the legs out of the braising liquid and had to remove the meat from the bone. My suggestion..use breasts or thighs. Much easier. Season your Turkey with Salt Pepper and Olive Oil.
 Sear the Turkey in a heavy bottom pan (cast iron preferred) on high heat. You just want to lightly brown all sides of the meat. Once browned remove from the pan and set aside for now.
 In the same pan, melt about 3 Tbsp of butter and throw in about 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are slightly browned.
 Add 3/4 cup high quality balsamic vinegar to the mixture. Lower the heat to medium and cook, reducing the liquid by at least half.
 The balsamic will start to thicken as it reduces and take on a syrupy consistency.
 Add about 15 cloves of blanched garlic. I read about blanching garlic on the web a couple of weeks ago. To blanch garlic place cloves in a small sauce pan covered in cold water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, drain water and repeat process at least 3 times. The blanching process removes the bitterness from the garlic and allows the sweetness to come through.

 Once your blanched garlic has had a few minutes to saute and become fragrant, add 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth to the pan. Now...I don't own a lovely cast iron dutch oven. If you have one you probably could do this entire process in that pot. I transferred all the ingredients to my corning ware...it still worked fine.
 Make sure that your turkey is pretty much all covered in braising liquid. If not..turn the turkey every 20 minutes. Bake in a 375F oven for about 30-40 minutes or until Turkey is juicy and falling off the bone.

 When the turkey is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside on a cutting board. We will deal with that in a minute. Pour all the pan drippings including mushrooms and garlic back into a saucepan (or just leave it in your dutch oven). Over medium high heat, start to reduce your sauce...stirring occasionally. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon..so reduce by at least 1/2.
 In the meantime, remove all the chicken off the bone, making sure to discard any skin and connective tissue.
 When your sauce is reduced, add the turkey pieces back to the sauce along with 1 cup baby spinach. Cook until Spinach is wilted and serve over sweet potato gnocchi or rice.
Enjoy with a nice expensive bottle of red wine and your sweetie!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Basil

One Word. YUM.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Basil

First make sure you have plenty of Sweet Potato Gnocchi boiling in lightly salted water. I made extra Gnocchi and froze it for future meals...like this one!!
 While the Gnocchi is boiling, melt a couple chunks of butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
 Swish around the butter every so often keeping a close eye on it. It will start to foam a little bit.
 Now watch for it...watch for it..THERE..see? It starts to turn a nice golden brown...its ready!
 Turn heat off and add the cooked Gnocchi to the butter.
 Add a couple dashes of Ground Nutmeg and a nice bunch of fresh torn basil leaves. The nutmeg really goes well with the brown butter. You really don't want to add too much though as it can be overpowering.
Top with nutty Parmesan cheese and serve.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I am warning you...DO NOT attempt to make this on a weeknight after work. Although delish, Hubs and I didn't eat dinner until 9:30pm. However, all the work was worth it and I highly suggest you make these in advance and freeze them. They are perfectly light little pillows of slightly sweet heaven.

This recipe does yield a lot of gnocchi...and really needs your patience in order for it to come together properly. The 'dough' is also very delicate and needs your patience to work with it.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Take 3 Large Sweet Potato's and pierce all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and in a 450F oven for at least 1 hour. My oven cooked them in about 1 hour 15 minutes. You want them cooked through and soft.

Once the potato's are done let them cool until you are able to handle them without burning your hands. Slice in half and scoop out all the potato into a large bowl.

Add 1 Tbsp Brown sugar to the potato mixture and mash very well with a potato masher.

In another bowl combine 1 tub of Ricotta (about 2 cups) cheese, 1 Egg, 2 Tsp White Pepper (black is fine) and 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt.

Add the Ricotta Mixture to the potato mixture and start to combine with a spatula. If you try to combine with your hands it will be way too sticky at this point.

Once the mixture is combined you want to start adding your flour. Add 1 cup at a time and combine. In total I added about 5 cups of flour. You want the dough to still be slightly sticky but workable with your hands. Next time I make these I am going to try adding the flour in my mixer with the dough hook instead of by hand.

Cut about a handful of dough off and start gently rolling it into a ball on a lightly floured surface. The key to handling the dough is with very gentle hands. Lightly rolling it in the flour. Start to roll out the dough like a snake until it is about 1 inch thick.

With a knife cut off 1 inch sections. You can be fancy and roll the gnocchi on a fork..but it was 9pm...and I was hungry!!

Roll each gnocchi in some flour to prevent it from sticking and let them sit on a floured baking sheet. You can flash freeze the gnocchi on the baking sheets then transfer them to a freezer bag for another time.

I could have made gnocchi all night with the size of this batch. But I basically just made enough for us to eat that evening and put the rest of the dough in the fridge to make the rest to freeze the next day.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and gently add the gnocchi. These cooked in about 4-6 Minutes (they floated to the top).

There are so many ways to eat the gnocchi...and pictured above is Gnocchi with Braised Turkey.
I will be posting a couple of different ways of eating Gnocchi over the next week (starting with the above recipe)...because trust me...you will have A LOT of gnocchi from this recipe!