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Archive for the ‘Spinach’ Category

It’s hard to imagine that 2012 has arrived!  2011 has flashed by quicker than either of us expected, and both of us have loved writing entries for gourm(eh?).  Neither of us could guess how rewarding this blog would prove to be.  We are so grateful for our reader’s supports and comments, and hope you will continue to enjoy our posts in the year ahead! In the meantime, we wanted to share with you our 10 most popular recipes from 2011.

To a wonderful 2012!

10. Coconut Turnovers – A  recipe Sitelle invented while reminiscing about her travels in Belize — these turnovers are mouth wartering.

9. Okra, Potato and Cauliflower Curry – Who doesn’t love Indian food?  Madhur Jaffrey spotlights okra is this spicy dish.

8. Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini  – Pesto is a favourite of Catherine’s, and this pasta dish (or a variant) features at least once a month in her kitchen.

7. Mocha Chip Meringue Cake – Our very first gourm(eh?) post!  This is a little taste of meringue heaven.

6. Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese – The more cheese, the better in our opinion.

5. Chocolate Zucchini Cake – One of Catherine’s top secret family recipes, she has yet to meet a picky eater who didn’t love this chocolatey, moist cake.

4. Flaky Pastry Crust: Savoury or Sweet! – A cornerstone of both our baking inventories, delicious buttery pie crust is our foundation for most pies.  And if you need a filling, may we recommend Catherine’s two favourites from 2011:

3. Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup – Concocted during Catherine’s month of vegetarianism, she’d eat this any day of the week!

2. The ultimate Canadian butter tarts! – We wrote developed gourm(eh?) partially to explore Canadian cuisine.  This here is Sitelle’s take of this delicious Canadian treat.

1. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch – The post that saw us freshly pressed (!!!!), this rich pasta casserole is keeper.

You'll devour the pine nut crunch topping!

– Catherine & Sitelle

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I often cook up a large batch of food on Sunday to last me for the week, and this Sunday I craved lasagna with a twist.  Rummaging for inspiration through my fridge, I happened upon an acorn and butternut squash.  Squash is one of my favourite vegetables, and, as winter approaches, it is one of the few you can find at the market.  The beauty of this vegetable is the sweetness and versatility of its flesh.  This recipe from the Food Network was receiving rave reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

I felt the recipe needed garlic as well as a new flavour to balance the sweetness of the butternut puree, so as an experiment, I introduced arugula to offer a bitter contrast.  The original recipe only used mozzarella and Parmesan, but I love ricotta so included it with the cheese layer.  The final lasagna was enticing: the 15 minutes of letting the lasagna sit was torture as the aromas of pesto and cheese wafted through my apartment.   And I can attest that the zesty arugula balanced the mellow squash beautifully!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Lasagna

(serves 12)

 

Ingredients:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1.5 to 2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable stock
 
PESTO BECHAMEL

1/4 cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup flour

1 litre (4 cups) milk

2 bay leaves

Generous pinch nutmeg

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a few tablespoons of pesto)
 
REST OF LASAGNA

12 spinach lasagna noodles (either fresh no-boil or pre-boiled)

2 cups packed arugula

2 1/2 cups mozzerella cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Directions:

To make the butternut puree, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the squash and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the broth into the skillet, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.  Cool slightly and then transfer the squash and any remaining liquid to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season the squash puree with more salt and pepper to taste. Set the puree aside.

To make the pesto bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and flour and whisk until slightly brown.  Gradually whisk in the milk and add the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg.  Allow the bechamel to cool slightly.  Transfer a cup or two of the sauce to a blender.  Add the basil and blend until smooth.  Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagna, preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the bechamel over the prepared baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzerella cheese, 1/4 of the ricotta, and 1 cup of arugula.  Drizzle 1/2 cup basil bechamel over the noodles.  Repeat layering 3 more times, including the other cup of arugula on the 3rd of 4 layers.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna.  Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer.  Let the lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Unsurprisingly, if I have not gone shopping in over a week, my dinner pickings tend to be slim.  Friday evening was one such occasion.  As I eyed my wilting vegetables and containers of leftovers, I wondered whether Thai take-out might be a smarter idea.  After some deliberation, my Scottish frugality won out over my laziness, and I decided to throw together a refrigerator pasta.

This turned out to be a delicious idea.  I was in the mood for something creamy, so I went for a one-pot creamy pasta.  I had some ground beef leftover from tacos earlier this week, which inspired me to give my bechamel a little kick using Worcester sauce and mustard.  And to I threw in a few vegetables that needed eating. Less than half an hour later, I sat down to a bowl of creamy pasta that could have fooled me was leftover-inspired.

Creamy penne with ground beef and vegetables  (aka refrigerator pasta)

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound whole grain penne

Generous handful of peas

2-3 generous handfuls of spinach

2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped (or any other veggies in your fridge that need eating – mushrooms and zucchini would be particularly delicious)

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

Splash of Worcester sauce (plus more to taste)

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1-2 cups of leftover ground beef

Directions:

Bring a large pot of  salted water to a boil and cook penne to package directions.  One minute before you are finished cooking, add the peas and spinach. Drain into a colander.

Saute the garlic and red pepper in the butter.  Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for another minute.  Whisk in the milk, and add the bay leaf, Worcester sauce, mustard powder, and salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally, bring the bechamel to a gentle simmer.  Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened slightly.  Taste and modify seasoning to your liking.  Toss in the parmesan, ground beef, and pasta.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I had been eyeing spinach dips for a while, and finally had a good excuse to whip up a batch on mother’s day. Artichokes can only add deliciousness to food, so when I came across this recipe in Julie van Rosendaal’s Grazing, I knew I had to give it a try. The resulting dip was flavourful and smooth, perfect served warm over crackers. It also made for delicious leftovers the next day, which only seem to have intensified the flavours.

If I were to do it again, I might use cheddar on top and sprinkle it on top just for the last 10 minutes – it would be just a little sharper in flavour and softer in texture for the top. But overall, a winning dip.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed with excess moisture squeezed out
1-14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, reserving the liquid
1-8 ounce package light cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of the artichoke heart liquid until translucent. Add the spinach and saute until all the liquid has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and cook until heated through.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Delicious serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or vegetables!

– Catherine

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