Brauðterta – Icelandic Party Sandwich Loaf

July 22, 2020

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So here is something a bit different for you – Today’s featured recipe is for Brauðterta. Brauðterta is kind of like a big old multi layered sandwich masquerading as a cake! In English I suppose you can just call it Bread Cake or perhaps Icelandic Party Sandwich Loaf  if you were being less literal. How fun is this!

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And I’m not only going to tell you all about this delicious dish, but I am also going to finish telling you all about that fantastic trip we took with the Parents to Iceland in September 2018. So just to recap, I’ve told you all about the beginning of this trip where we toured the Golden Circle and various other South Coast gems. And then I told you about our big adventure touring Þórsmork in a Super Jeep. Now, I’m going to fill you in on the rest of the trip. On day 5 we set out to visit the Westman Islands (Vestmannaejyar). The Westman Islands are located just off the south coast of Iceland.

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The Husband and I were there in September 2017 and absolutely LOVED it! I am originally from a small island in the Chesapeake Bay myself and my father has made his living as commercial fisherman, so I really wanted him to experience Vestmannaeyjar. Turns out it was the highlight of the trip for him. These islands are often overlooked by tourists in Iceland because you do need to either fly over or take the ferry. But in my opinion, it is so worth the effort! I probably shouldn’t let you in on the secret, but I can’t help myself!

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The Vestmannaeyjar are absolutely gorgeous!

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This archipelago consists of about 15 islands, but most folks live on Heimaey, which is the largest island. We booked a day tour with Eyja Tours to make sure the parents were able to see as much of it as possible

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House at the not to be missed Eldheimar Museum which documents the story of the surprise 1973 volcanic eruption.

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Since we were there at the end of August/early September, we not only were able to see the adult puffin colonies,

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but we were also able to experience the pufflings (baby puffins) flying into town.

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You see, puffins nest in clifftop colonies, digging a burrow in which a single egg is laid. The puffin chicks, or pufflings, are then cared for by their parents for about 6 weeks. At this point the fledgling makes its way out of its burrow at night and flies toward the sea.  However, many get confused by the lights of the town and rather than flying out to sea, they end up flying into town. The Vestmannaeyjar children, or Puffin Patrol as they are known, go out at night with flashlights to rescue them. The pufflings are then taken home in cardboard boxes for the night. The next morning their rescuers take them to the Saeheimar Aquarium (*since our visit in 2018, the aquarium has closed and its residents have moved to the Puffin Rescue Center at the Beluga Whale Sanctuary – see note below) to be measured and weighed. The children can have their pictures taken with their little charges as well. Once done, the little birds are taken to the shore and released back into the wild during daylight hours so that they won’t become confused. The Husband and I had seen this in 2017. But this year we unexpectedly got to participate!

Let me explain. After an action packed day exploring, we took the Parents to one of our favorite restaurants in the whole world – Slippurinn,

we headed back to our lovely apartment accommodations for some well deserved sleep.

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However, I was hoping to get another Northern Lights show. I was on watch. So while everyone else was snoozing – I was setting my alarm every 30 minutes to run outside and see if the Aurora was doing its thing. It was a beautiful, clear night. Not a cloud in the sky. So it should have been perfect conditions. But the elusive lights were not cooperating. I was really getting pretty frustrated around 2am, when I heard this strange slap, slap slap noise. I looked down from the sky to see a tiny puffling running full out at me, with a cat close on his tail. The puffling literally ran right into my ankles. I reached down and scooped him up telling the kitty “No, no, no! Not today!” And voila, I had a puffling! I promptly woke everyone up. Look-y here! Hurray! I have a puffling! But it quickly turned to  – “OMG! I have a puffling!” We had an early ferry to catch back to the mainland. A ferry that left before the aquarium opened. So the Husband and I decided we would get in the car and go find some locals that were rescuing pufflings. We would just hand ours over to them. Sadly, at around 2:30 in the morning, we did not find families out looking for pufflings, but rather groups of folks staggering home from the pub. No way I was going to entrust my puffling to them! And to make matters worse, about 5 minutes into our drive into town, we had to pull over because there was another puffling in the road. Now we had two of them! No box to put them in. And whereas my puffling was somewhat sedate, though a little bite-y (doesn’t really hurt….its a baby…), the Husband’s puffling was a little devil puffling – biting and scratching like a champ! Talk about driving while impaired! Thankfully we did find two non-drunk locals who had just rescued a puffling themselves and were willing to take our two on as well. What a crazy night! So although the Lights were not willing to show, it was still unforgettable!

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The next morning we were up early, caught the ferry back to the mainland and set off for Reykjavík! You can see all of the live action on Vestmannaeyjar in this video:

We arrived in Reykjavík after a short drive. We had booked into The Black Pearl and as a surprise for the Parents, we had reserved the luxurious Penthouse suite for them, which had a great wrap around balcony with lovely views over the city.

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The Black Pearl has been one of our favorite places to stay in Reykjavik. The apartments are fantastic, location perfect and the service is absolutely top-notch every single time. I should mention that they offer an absolutely amazing and plentiful in-suite breakfast service consisting of freshly baked bread, pastries, skyr, various cold cuts, salmon, bacon and eggs.

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Once settled in, we set out to explore. We showed them the old harbor area,

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went up in Hallgrimskirkja for amazing city views,

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recharged with a cup of coffee and a visit with the kitties at Kattakaffihúsið

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went to the famous hot dog stand Baejarins Beztu

and might have ended up going completely Viking at Mink Viking Portrait Studio .

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We were so sad to leave. But there was one more big surprise for everyone. As I have mentioned in a previous post, Icelandair offer the option to “Class Up” from economy seats to Saga Premium. So, how it works is 10 days prior to an eligible flight, you will receive an email asking if you would like to place a bid. You are then able to decide the amount you are willing to pay, in addition to the cost of your original ticket, to have a Saga class seat. All 5 of us had our bids accepted and were able to fly home first class!

It was truly such a fun, unforgettable trip!

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But don’t leave yet. You have simply got to hear all about this Brauðterta. In Iceland, you will likely find Brauðterta at any celebrations where you would find a gathering of extended family such as a birthday party or graduation. At these events, an elaborate coffee table is often laid out for guests featuring all sorts of sweet desserts. And there you will find the Brauðterta, dressed up to look just like a cake, but filled with all sorts of savory fillings. Certainly a welcome break and somewhat of a palate cleanser against the avalanche of sugary treats.

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So it isn’t really a cake, but a multilayered sandwich. The bread for making Brauðterta are sold in stores in Iceland and can either be a loaf of bread which has been sliced horizontally or a large sheet of bread similar to the cake you would use in a jelly roll. With this type of bread you can either roll it up like a jelly roll or use multiple pieces of it stacked on top of each other to create a really large Brauðterta. I used a loaf of Soft Sandwich Bread which I had baked myself. I have seen folks use regular store bought, sliced sandwich bread with the crusts removed, but I have not tried that and would fear that store bought bread might not hold up as well.

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These layers of bread are interspersed with creamy fillings. Some versions have the same filling repeated with each layer. Others have a different filling on each layer, which is what I have done. The fillings can be anything that you would use in a regular sandwich, though the salad type fillings – i.e. egg salad, shrimp salad – seem to strike the right level of not too dry but not too wet that is required. In Iceland you will often find seafood based fillings, but since the Husband has a seafood allergy and I did not fancy having to go the the ER during a pandemic, I steered clear of that choosing instead to do a layer of egg salad, ham said and a layer of bacon/scallion salad.

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The sandwich is then “frosted” with cream cheese or mayonnaise and decorated with meats/vegetables that you might find within.

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Brauðterta is considered very traditional, yet it didn’t really become popular in Iceland until the 1950’s. In the past, a lot of mayonnaise was used for the filling as well as the frosting.  Now a days you will find not as much mayonnaise but perhaps more sour cream or cream cheese mixtures. Brauðterta’s popularity may have waned for a bit, but recently it has started to make a comeback. The Facebook group Brauðtertufélag Erlu Og Erlu has over 11,000 members. It was founded to exchange recipes, tips and pictures of perfect Brauðtertas. Check it out for some inspiration!

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We loved our Brauðterta! I was afraid we would only get one meal out of it and then the bread would go soggy. Not so! We happily snacked on it for the whole week! Surprise folks at your next party or potluck and treat them to this Icelandic Party Sandwich Loaf!

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Brauðterta - Icelandic Party Sandwich Loaf

  • Servings: One - 4 layer loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Icelandic Food & Cookery by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cream cheese (I used Philadelphia’s Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese), softened
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt
  • 6 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces cooked, finely diced ham
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced
  • 1 loaf of white or whole wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, sliced lengthwise into four slices (I used a loaf of Soft Sandwich bread which I had baked the day before)
  • cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, red & yellow peppers, chives, red onion, cilantro or parsley – for decorating

Directions:

Combine the sour cream with the softened cream cheese in a medium sized bowls. Take three additional bowls and divide the mixture equally among the four bowls. Set one bowl aside for the “frosting’.

Slice the hardboiled eggs crosswise. Reserve one center slice from one of the eggs for decoration. Chop the remaining eggs and add to one bowl with the sour cream/cream cheese combo. Set aside. Combine the finely diced ham with the sour cream/cream cheese mixture in another bowl. And finally add the bacon and diced green onion to the third bowl and mix to combine.

Take the loaf of bread and remove the crust. Slice the loaf horizontally into four slices. Spread the bottom slice evenly with one of filling mixtures. Top with another slice of bread and spread that evenly with the second filling combination. Top with the third slice of bread. Spread that evenly with the last filling combination. Place the final slice of bread on top of that. Press down evenly on the top. Wrap the entire “sandwich” in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

Unwrap the loaf and place it on a large tray or cutting board. “Frost” the sandwich with the last bowl of reserved sour cream/cream cheese mixture.

Now for the fun part! Decorate your Bread Cake as you see fit! You can get creative here. I used chopped yellow and red peppers, red onion, cilantro, cucumber and an egg slice for my decoration, but feel free to improvise. Do another garden type scene as I have done or maybe do a geometric pattern. The sky’s the limit!

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Brauðterta:

Icelandic Food & Cookery by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Wilton 9″X 5″ Loaf pan

Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday Cookbook

Travel Planning Guide:

Covid-19 InformationPlease make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the Icelandic Government’s travel requirements BEFORE you head out. All of the official information can be found here.

I Heart Reykjavik– An invaluable resource for all things Iceland! I Heart Reykjavik is a small, family run company that offers you personalized service. Planning a holiday can certainly be stressful which has become even more so with rapidly changing safety requirements due to Covid 19. I Heart Reykjavik is keeping up to date with all of the government guidelines and can provide guidance here. Additionally, they can help you plan a fantastic vacation to Iceland in a couple of ways. You can browse and book tours directly on their website. The advantage here is that I Heart Reykjavik has vetted all of the companies on their carefully curated list. Often they have even gone out on the tours and you can read a review of their experience on their blog. Their recommendations can save you a ton of time pouring over tours and reviews online and let you know which company you can best trust with your money . Another advantage is that if you book all of your tours through them and then a unforeseen change due to the weather or some sort of thing, I Heart Reykjavik can suggest changes to your itinerary and assist you with rebooking. And speaking of itineraries, if you are the type of person who likes to plan out everything yourself, I Heart Reykjavik can still be of assistance. They offer an Itinerary Review service, where they can take a look at your upcoming plans and make sure everything makes sense – such as if you have allowed enough travel time. They can give you feedback concerning accommodation and alert you if there is a must see in the area you are visiting which has not found it’s way into your plans. They are truly an invaluable resource!

Getting There: Icelandair! We love Icelandair and have always had great experience with them. Take advantage of their Stopover program on your next flight to Europe.

Car Rental:  Blue Car Rental: We ALWAYS rent our car from Blue Car Rental. Friendly Icelandic company, well maintained, newer, quality vehicles – they’ve never let us down and at this point we have rented from them on six different visits and have had excellent experiences every time. The price they quote on their website has all of the insurance included so there are no surprizes when you show up at their rental desk. Highly recommend!

Westman Island Links

To Buy tickets on the Herjólfur Ferry as well as read about all the things to see and do take a look at: Visit Westman Islands.

Accommodation:

Hotel Vestmannaeyjar – Great accommodation on the Islands.

Restaurants/ Cafés/ Bakeries/ Bars:

Slippurinn – Our favorite restaurant – not only in Iceland. Hands. Down. Favorite! Located in an old machinery shop this family owned eatery features seasonal local sourced dishes often including herbs and seaweed foraged right there on the island. Simply divine food in a friendly and casual environment. Don’t miss it!

Stofan Bakhús – Great bakery! Delicious kanilsnúðars – which are a weakness of mine.  Fantastic sandwiches as well. Everything there looks delicious. Go be tempted!

Brother’s Brewery – Microbrewery with delicious local craft brews.

Tour Companies:

Eyja Tours: Do the Puffin & Volcano Tour! Eyja Tours offers small group (minibus) tours of Heimaey guided by friendly locals who are very knowledgeable about their island home. You’ll  learn all about the history and culture of the island, see the major sights and actually get to visit a puffin sanctuary where you can see a live puffin up close! This experience is exclusive to Eyja Tours – though if you go in late August, perhaps you’ll get your own up close and personal experience with a Puffling like we did!

Attractions:

On puffins: If you travel to the Westman Island at the end of August/beginning of September there is a good chance you will see baby puffins (pufflings) being rescued by the local children. At this time of year, the pufflings leave their nests but get confused by the lights of the town and rather than flying out to sea, they end up flying into town. The children go out at night with flashlights to find them. They take them home in cardboard boxes for the night. The next morning they take them to the Puffin Rescue Centre to be measured and weighed and the children can have their pictures taken with their little charges as well. Once done, the kids take the little birds to the shore and release them back into the wild during daylight hours so that they won’t become confused. We were lucky enough to be there when this was happening and it was unforgettable!

Eldheimar museum – This museum documents the story of the surprise 1973 eruption of the volcano which caused the roughly 5,00 locals to flee on fishing boats in the middle of the night to the safety of the mainland. The eruption, which lasted for 5 months, buried 1/3 of the town in lava and destroyed over 400 houses and businesses. The resilient islanders did return and rebuilt the thriving community you will find today. Fascinating stuff! A must visit!

Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary/Puffin Rescue Centre – Back in 2018, when we visited the Vestmannaeyjar, the kids took their rescued pufflings to the Saeheimar Aquarium. The aquarium closed in 2019 and their residents moved to the new Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary. Now when you visit, you will be able to see two rescued beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, in addition to the rescued and resident puffins at the Puffin Rescue Centre!

Reykjavik Links

Accommodation:

The Black Pearl Reykjavik – Reykjavik’s Finest Apartments – We have stayed in their luxurious apartments twice and love them! The apartments are fantastic, location perfect and the service is absolutely top-notch.

Tour Companies:

I Heart Reykjavik Private Walking Tour – Do this tour when you first arrive in Reykjavík and you will be set! Auður will not only tell you about the history of the city but she will also impart a local’s insight on the best bars, restaurants and shopping that Reykjavik has to offer. She will guide you off the beaten tourist routes and back into the neighborhood streets to get a glimpse of a local’s life and to reveal some of the wonderful hidden street art. Fabulous tours catered just for you!

Attractions:

Mink Viking Portrait Studio: Unleash your inner Viking at Mink! This photo session was an absolute blast and we came away with a fantastic, lasting memento from Iceland!

Hallgrímskirkja – Reykjavík’s main landmark. Go up in the tower for breathtaking views of the city!

The Settlement Exhibition – Museum built around the remains of a home from around 871. Great interactive displays of Viking Age history.

Baktus the Cat – Yes, I’m talking about an actual cat here. But not any old cat – this cat if a Reykjavík celebrity! He has over 7,000 followers on Instagram. You might be able to catch a glimpse of him at his hooman’s store, Gyllti Kötturinn, where he lives. Or perhaps  you can see him at one of his favorite hangouts – the Icewear store, which is located across the street, which is where we found him.

Restaurants/ Cafés/ Bakeries/ Bars:

Íslenski Barinn– Love, love, love! Delicious food & local brews in a comfortable, cozy setting.

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Legendary Icelandic Hot Dog stand in Reykjavik. A one a day must for the Husband while we are visiting the city!

Kattakaffihúsið – Iceland’s First Cat Café. Here you can not only enjoy a fantastic cup of coffee, delicious pastries and sandwiches (all vegan), but you can also pet some adorable kitties while you are at it! This cat café usually has three cat residents at all times. And even better, these adorable kitties are all available for adoption. An absolute must for cat lovers!

Brauð & Company– Bakes my most favorite in the world kanilsnúðar!

Reykjavik Roasters– Wonderful coffee & vibe. Love the cinnamon scones!

Sandholt Bakery – A never ending parade of scrumptious treats and sandwiches!

Kaldi Bar Fun & hip Bar featuring beers from the Kaldi Brewery

Ölstofa Kormáks og Skjaldar (Kormakur’s and Skjöldur’s alehouse) – Or just plain Ölstofan –house brew Brío is not to be missed!

Shopping:

The Handknitting Association of Iceland – Icelandic Sweaters knitted in Iceland by Icelanders!

Thorvaldsen’s Bazar – Icelandic Sweaters (Lopapeysa) knitted in Iceland by Icelanders. All profits go to charity!

Misc:

The Reykjavik Grapevine: A witty English language Icelandic magazine. Great read whether or not you’re planning a visit! And if you are planning a visit make sure to check out their annual “Best of” edition where they give you a curated list of the best of everything to be found in the country!

Icelandic Meteorologic Office – Great for checking the weather before you go and essential while you are visiting – especially if you are visiting in the Winter! They also have an app you can have on your phone which I definitely recommend. The weather in Iceland can change suddenly. Be prepared!

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, I have written a bunch of posts about our travels there, which you might find helpful.


Spicy Taco Egg Cups

May 5, 2020

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Woohoo! It’s Cinco de Mayo! And we’re still on lockdown! No drinking margaritas in the cantina for the Husband and I. Nope – looks like it might have to be shots of tequila on the couch. I guess we better get some food on the stomach if that’s the way it’s gonna go today. And I have just the thing: Spicy Taco Egg Cups!

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These little firecrackers pack quite a punch! At least they do when I make ’em, ’cause we do love our spicy food. But don’t despair if you don’t – you can tame them down accordingly. Just don’t use any cayenne and use a very mild salsa. They will still have tons of flavor, just not as much of the “burns so good-ness” that we love.

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While I’ve got you here I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you of some other great recipes that would be perfect for today such as my favorite Guacamole (there is a secret ingredient in it!)

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Or how about this Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

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And who could forget the Double Decker Taco Cupcakes

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But let me get back to these little Taco Egg Cups. Here is another fantastic piece of information – they can actually be pretty low in calories if you concerned with the Covid 19 pounds that I’ve mentioned gaining while in quarantine. Just use lean ground beef and reduced fat cheese. There you have it, low calorie (around 100 -ish per cup) and tasty! They come together pretty quickly as well. So while you’re making a batch of these, have your quarantine buddy fire up the blender for some frozen Margaritas. Nine in the a.m. isn’t too early to start with the festivities is it? Cinco de Mayo will turn out just fine at home after all!

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Spicy Taco Egg Cups

  • Servings: 12 Egg Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Food Faith Fitness

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning
  • 3/4 Cup Salsa (your choice, but I love Green Mountain Gringo)
  • 6 Eggs
  • 4 Egg whites (or 3/4 cup store bought prepackaged egg whites)
  • Pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne if you like it spicy!
  • 1 Cup Mexican Cheese Blend or Pepper Jack Cheese

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375°F and GENEROUSLY spray the wells of muffin tin with cooking spray.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add in the ground beef and cook, breaking up, until no longer pink. Add in the taco seasoning and stir until well mixed.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salsa. Set aside.
In a large pyrex measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and egg whites with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture in the wells of the muffin tin, trying to distribute equally among the wells.
Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the beef mixture into the muffin wells.
Finally, top each muffin cavity with 1 slightly heaping Tablespoon of the cheese.
Bake until the eggs are set and lightly golden brown, about 20-23 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and them carefully remove them from the muffin pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Enjoy!
Spicy Taco Egg Cups brought to you today by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Spicy Taco Egg Cups:
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup
Cupcake & Muffin Tin
Green Mountain Gringo Salsa – here is an Amazon link, though you can likely get this at your local grocery store.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

April 28, 2020

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So yup…still in lock-down. I don’t know about you, but not only have my workouts suffered over the past two months, but my stress eating and drinking have definitely increased. I hear folks talking about the “Covid 19” just like they do about the “Freshman 15” and considering the state of me, I think a gain of 19 pounds is a serious possibility! Yikes! So I thought maybe today I would offer up a recipe that is a bit kinder on your waistline while still being delicious – Cauliflower Fried Rice!

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That’s right! Carbs be gone!!! This Cauliflower Fried Rice is just bursting with flavor with none of those pesky carbs. Will you be fooled into thinking you’re eating rice? Nope. You won’t. Buuuuut – your pants might fit better. And this dish is actually delicious. The cauliflower does take on all of the flavor from those lovely seasonings. You won’t actually miss the rice, all things being considered.

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This dish comes together quickly. Just have everything all prepped before you begin cooking. Just perfect for a Meatless Monday or a “I better lose some weight before quarantine is lifted and I have to waddle out into the light of day”, moment of reckoning. Just saying…

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4 - Two Cup Servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 64 grams chopped scallions, light and green parts separated (you’ll need 5-6 scallions)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • One 900-g head cauliflower (or 900 grams ready to cook cauliflower)
  • 4-5 Tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 130 grams frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 30 grams chopped cashews or peanuts (optional)

Directions:

Given that riced cauliflower is so easy to find in grocery stores, I urge you to save yourself a lot of trouble and just buy it “ready to cook”. However, if you truly love to grate things, see the following instructions. Grate the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with the grating disc. Alternatively, grate on the large holes of box or hand-held grater. Set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large (10 or 12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and a pinch of salt and scramble until the eggs are cooked. Transfer to a small plate and set aside. Wipe the pan clean.

Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and set over medium heat. Add the light green scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the grated cauliflower, 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots. Stir to combine and continue cooking until the cauliflower “rice” is tender-crisp and the vegetables are warmed through, a few minutes. Stir in the rice vinegar, sesame oil, dark green scallions, nuts (if using) and eggs. Taste and adjust seasoning (adding the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce if necessary). Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Fried Rice brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cauliflower Fried Rice:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook by Jennifer Segal – You will not find the recipe for Cauliflower Fried Rice in this cookbook, but will fin da bunch of other awesome tasty recipes. I love this cookbook, as well as the Once Upon a Chef blog. All of Jennifer’s recipes are easy to make and absolutely delicious!

 


Spinach Croissants

April 14, 2020

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So yeah…I told you all about how motivated I was in Stage I of our lockdown. Just an amazing little cleaning whirlwind. Full of energy, and raring to beat everything into a shining perfection of organization. Well, that anomaly has passed and I’ve moved into Stage II – complete lethargy. There is definitely still a lot that could be cleaned and organized around here, it isn’t like I’ve run out of things to do. It is just at this point I don’t really care to do them. I mostly just get up in the morning and start reading all of the depressing news from around the world. And even once I tear myself away from the old computer, I obsessively go back to those news sites again and again throughout the day to check for updates. Definitely not good. As a fun diversion, I’m trying to refocus on planning a trip for us when this is over.

Famous tourist attraction Hamnoy fishing village on Lofoten Islands, Norway with red rorbu houses. W

Yup. You were right – I’m not dreaming of a beach vacation. I’m looking at the Arctic again!

And speaking of trips, I have a bunch of blogs in the works from trips we’ve taken in the past which I have yet to write up. You know the thing, the Husband and I take a trip and then I will cook up a recipe which is inspired from the locale and share that along with some lovely photos. I also give you recommendations for accommodations, activities, restaurants and tours, should you be inspired to visit on your own. you can see the ones I’ve done previously by clicking on “Travels” in the top navigation bar. So be on the look out for a few of those in the future. But for today, I would like to share this amazing recipe for Spinach Croissants!

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Remember back in February when I told you all about those scrumptious Fruit Filled Morning Buns?

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These Spinach Croissants are also made with Baker’s Croissant Dough. This type of dough is a yeasted laminated dough. Basically you mix up a yeasted dough, roll it out and place a layer of butter on top of it. You then enclose the butter within the dough and proceed to roll it out and fold it over and over again. This creates a dough which has multiple alternating layers of dough and butter. The butter evaporates when baked and that is what forms all those lovely flaky layers in a croissant.

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Once the dough is ready, rather than filling it with anything sweet, these little devils are stuffed full of a savory filling made up of spinach, cheeses & roasted red peppers. And no meat in sight, so perfect for Meatless Monday.

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These Spinach Croissants are amazing! That buttery, flaky pastry dough simply melts in your mouth and the savory filling is just delicious. These croissants are conveniently portable and are great at room temperature but also crisp up well if you are reheating them. While it is a bit time consuming to make up that laminated dough, it is 100% worth it! Make a batch up today!

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Spinach Croissants

  • Servings: 9 square croissants
  • Print

recipe from: Sift Magazine Holiday 2018 issue: King Arthur Flour (and here)

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:

  • 1/2 recipe Baker’s Croissant Dough (detailed below)

For the Filling:

  • 1 Tablespoon (14 grams) Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces/106 grams) diced onion
  • 10 ounces (283 grams) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 ounce/21 grams) fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces/50 grams) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) diced roasted red peppers
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Directions:

For the Filling:

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the spinach and bread crumbs and stir until well combined. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool to lukewarm.

Stir in the cheeses and peppers and season with salt and pepper.

Note* This amount of filling is enough for a full batch of the Baker’s Croissant Dough. So, you can either use all of the dough, halve the filling ingredient or just save the other half of the filling for later. The spinach filling is great as a topping for pizza as well!

Line two baking sheets with parchment.

To assemble:

Roll the dough into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Trim 1/4″ of dough from the edges; this will give you a higher puff in the oven.

Cut the dough in thirds in both directions, to make nine 4″ x 6″ rectangles. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on one side of each rectangle.

Fold the dough over twice to enclose the filling, with the seam ending up on the bottom. Press the croissant down slightly to flatten it.

Place the croissants on the prepared baking sheets and let them rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. They should expand noticeably, and when you gently press one with your finger, the indentation should remain.

Partway through the rise time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

When the croissants are not quite doubled, brush with the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes more, until the croissants are a deep golden brown, even where the dough overlaps (that’s where you want to look when checking for doneness).

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving. Watch out, the filling will be hot!

Store, wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to two days. Refresh for 10 minutes in a 350°F oven before serving.

Baker’s Croissants Dough

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 large eggs + enough warm water to make 2 cups (454g) of liquid
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, divided
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups (659g to 723g) All purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (71g) Bakers Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk, optional
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional; for sweet pastry)

For the Butter:

  • 1 7/8 cups (425g) unsalted butter, cool to the touch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (60g) All purpose flour

Directions:

For the dough: Put the eggs and water in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups (362g) of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended; set aside to let the sponge work.

For the butter: Cut the butter into 1˝ chunks and combine with the salt and flour at low speed in a stand mixer just until smooth, with no lumps. Be careful not to beat too much; you don’t want to incorporate any air.

Spread the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into an 8˝ square. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish the dough: Add the melted butter to the sponge. Whisk together the remaining sugar, 2 1/2 cups (298g) of the flour, the dry milk, and salt and add to the sponge. Mix until the dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes; touch the dough lightly with your finger. If it’s still sticky, add the remaining flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is the desired consistency. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a 9˝ square, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Laminate the dough: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and gently roll it to a 12″ square.

Unwrap the butter square and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in a square. Pull the corners of the dough into the center of the butter diamond. Moisten the edges with a little water and pinch the seams together well to enclose the butter. Dust the top with flour and turn the packet over.

Tap the dough all over with a rolling pin, encouraging it into a rectangular shape. Once it’s pliable, roll it to a 20˝ x 10˝ rectangle, picking it up and dusting lightly with flour as needed.

When you’ve reached the proper size, use a dry brush to sweep off any excess flour and fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. Take care to keep the edges straight and line them up directly over each other. If the dough slides around, use a little water at the corners to tack them in place. This is your first turn.

Rotate the dough out so it looks like a book about to be opened. Roll the dough out once more to 20˝ x 10˝ and fold it as before. This is the second turn. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the gluten in the dough to relax.

Give the dough two more turns after its rest, then wrap the dough well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before using. You can also freeze the dough at this point.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Spinach Croissants:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur

Dough Rolling Mat

Pastry Tool

Silicone Pastry Brush Set

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

 


Pasta e Fagioli

April 4, 2020

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Ok…so things have really changed…for everyone…everywhere! And these changes are not going to be changing back anytime soon from the looks of it. Covid-19 has hijacked life as we know it. The world is pretty much on pause and folks everywhere are sheltering in place. At first, what I will call Stage I of my quarantine/lockdown, I was very motivated. I went on a cleaning spree, did loads of paperwork I had procrastinated on and finished our taxes. Then I totally organized my pantry, making an inventory of all that we had available and then sat down to plan out what meals were possible with the ingredients we had on hand.

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I wondered how easily it would be to have groceries delivered, so I signed up for Peapod through Giant groceries stores. Well, I found out that Giant did have quite a few items, no toilet paper mind you, but fairly well stocked all things considered. The a-ha moment came when I went to schedule a delivery. Not one time slot was available for three weeks! Yes. Three! Luckily our pantry was pretty full to begin with so three weeks was actually not a problem for us. Now, just because I put those items in my cart, doesn’t actually guarantee that I will get them. Giant does let you know that they may remove items from your cart if they are not available at the time of your delivery. So I don’t actually know what I will be getting. It will be a surprise. You know, kind of like opening Christmas gifts. So wish me luck! But let me get on with today’s recipe: Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans). This dish is also known as Pasta e Fasule (pasta fazool), which is its Neapolitan name.

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My pantry held almost all of the ingredients needed to make this hearty and filling traditional Italian soup. What I did not have, I was able to easily sub in alternatives. For instance, I did not have a yellow onion, but did have a package of pearl onions. Problem solved! Not to mention, there are many variations of this soup found in Italy. Sometimes it is completely vegetarian, sometimes it is made with sausage or beef, sometimes it has a tomato base and sometimes it doesn’t. So feel free to cook up your own versions depending on the ingredients you have on hand.

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This recipe that I’m sharing today makes a flavorful, fresh, creamy, and somewhat thicker soup with pancetta, white wine, carrots, cannelleni beans, lentils and pasta.

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And good news! This soup freezes very well. So if you are quarantined alone, you can freeze the soup prior to adding the pasta, which once added, tends to soak up a lot of the broth. When you are ready to eat it, just defrost and add the pasta before serving. It is a wonderfully delicious and comforting meal to warm you up on these still chilly Spring days! Stay safe out there and remember to wash your hands!

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Pasta e Fagioli

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 110 grams pancetta, diced (could sub in bacon)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 120 ml white wine
  • 1.5 L low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (439 gram) cans cannelleni beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained
  • 50 grams dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
  • 230 grams diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices (I only had a really spicy chili blend on chopped tomatoes – so our soup had quite a kick to it!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (I did not have any rosemary, so substituted in fresh basil)
  • 105 grams dried pasta, such as ditalini (or whatever you might have in the pantry)
  • 35 grams freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Directions:

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer 240 ml of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender. Remove the center knob so steam can escape. Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters. Purée until smooth and set aside. An immersion blender would work here as well.

Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Fish out and discard the bay leaves.

Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup. (If you’re having a hard time getting the mixture out of the blender, remove as much as you can with a rubber spatula, then add some of the hot soup broth to it and swirl around to loosen it up; it should come right out.) Cook briefly, until the soup is heated through.

Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the soup seems too thick, gradually add 240-480 ml of water or more chicken broth and thin to desired consistency (note: the longer it sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

Note: This soup is best served immediately; as it sits, the pasta and beans soak up the broth. If the soup gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the pasta, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender. (The beans may have soaked up some of the broth while frozen, so add more broth to thin out the soup, if desired.)

Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli brought to you today by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Pasta e Fagioli:

Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. dutch oven
Breville Immersion Blender

Guinness Braised Steak with Crispy Baked Chips

March 15, 2020

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Oh my goodness my Guinness! I absolutely love cooking with Guinness. It just makes everything better. But I must say, there is something so magical when Guinness meets beef.  In this tasty St. Patrick’s Day recipe, flank steak which is a rather tough cut of beef is made melt in your mouth tender by braising it in Guinness. It is served along with some crispy baked thick cut chips for the win!

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This recipe is so easy to make. You can actually braise the steak the day before you would like to serve it. Then, on the big day, just reheat the steak in the oven as you prepare the chips. I can not tell you how good your house will smell while this steak is slowly cooking away.

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And those crispy, crunchy homemade chips are fantastic as well. I absolutely love chips or french fries to those of us over on this side of the pond. The only problem with frying them up at home is that your house then smells like a big old chipper for days. That scrumptious smell of the braising beef will be overrun in no time. So thank goodness that rather than fried, these chips are dusted in polenta, sprayed with a bit of cooking oil and then baked in the oven.

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Still quite tasty and a bit healthier for you. Serve them with some ketchup, a splash of malt vinegar or dip them into the reduced Guinness cooking sauce. It will be a very happy St. Patrick’s Day indeed!

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Guinness Braised Steak with Crispy Baked Chips

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Slightly adapted from BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 2 (250 gram) flank steaks
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 500 ml can of Guinness (could use other stout if you prefer…)
  • 1 beef stock cube, crumbled
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sauce (HP Sauce)
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 3 Shallots

For the Chips:

  • 600 gram large baking potato
  • 3 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • Spray oil ( olive oil, canola oil, crisco – whatever you might have)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a frying pan. When hot, down the steaks well on all side. Transfer to a snug casserole or narrow, deep baking dish.

Pour the Guinness into the frying pan and bring to a simmer. Add the stock cube, Worcestershire Sauce an HP Sauce. Stir to combine.

Add the bay leaves and roughly chopped shallots to the dish holding the steaks. Pour the Guinness mixture over the steaks. Cover the dish tightly with foil and then add the lid. If your casserole does not have a lid, you can place a flat baking sheet over top. Bake for 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. This can be done 1day in advance.

For the chips: One hour before you plan to serve the meal, preheat the oven to 400° F (200°C). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil while you can the potatoes into 3 cm fat chips. Parboil for 3 min. Drain and let steam dry.

Place the cornmeal into a shallow bowl and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dredge the chips in cornmeal and transfer to baking sheet. Spray chips with spray oil and sprinkle remaining cornmeal over the top. Roast for 45 minutes, tossing chips and spraying with a bit more oil half way through the baking time. The chips should be crispy and golden.

When the chips have 20 minutes cook time remaining, remove the steaks from their cooking liquid. Wrap them along with the shallots in parchment, followed by foil. Place the packet on the low shelf of your oven and allow it to heat through.

Place the cooking liquid into a small sauce pan. Boil it over high hear until reduced by 3/4. Place in pitcher to serve over steaks.

Remove the chips from the oven and season with freshly cracked pepper and flaked sea salt. Remove steaks from packet and plate along with some shallots.

Enjoy!

Guinness Braised Steaks with Crispy Baked Chips brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness Braised Steak with Crispy Baked Chips:

Le Creuset Cast Iron Signature Casserole

HP Sauce This link is for a two pack of the sauce. I can usually find it in my local grocery store. You can also substitute in some A1 if you’re pressed.

 

 


Guinness & Honey Glazed Pork Loin with Roasted Potatoes

March 16, 2019

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So did I hear you say that you are totally over corned beef & cabbage? Or that you never liked it to begin with? Well, don’t fret, I’ve got a great dish that you can serve on St. Patrick’s Day and there is no corned beef in sight. What you do have is a flavorful, succulent loin of pork roasted with a Guinness & Honey glaze.

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I don’t know what it is with Guinness. I don’t really just like to sit around drinking pints of the stuff. Seriously, one pint makes me feel as though I’ve eaten an entire loaf of bread. But I absolutely love every recipe where it makes an appearance. An this pork loin is no exception. That Guinness Honey Glaze is amazing – sweet and tangy. Just the perfect flavor combination for pork.

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And these little potatoes are fantastic all on their own. I’ve rubbed them in a bit of bacon drippings and roasted them until soft and tender. Then they are sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. They’re great with or without the gravy.

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This tasty dish is very easy to prepare leaving you plenty of time for other St. Patrick’s Day activities. Believe me, with their plate piled tall with this Guinness & Honey Glazed Pork Loin & Roasted Potatoes no one will be missing that Corned Beef & Cabbage!

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Guinness & Honey Glazed Pork Loin with Roasted Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 2 1/2 lb. Pork Loin
  • 150 ml. Guinness Stout Beer
  • 50 ml. honey
  • 125 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • splash Guinness

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 355° F.

For the glaze: Place the Guinness, honey and sugar into a deep sided saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is reduced by half and thickens to make a syrupy glaze. Take care that the mixture does not boil out of the pot onto your stove. You will be very sorry to have to clean up that sticky mess!

Season the pork loin with salt and pepper. Place in in a roasting tin and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, generously baste the pork with the glaze and then continue to cook for a further 40 -50 minutes, continuing to occasionally brush the glaze over the meat from time to time. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of the glaze for the gravy.

Once it reaches an internal temperature of 160° F, remove it from the oven. Place on a cutting board to rest and tent it with aluminum foil.

Pour the 1 Tablespoon of glaze into the roasting tin, add a splash more of Guinness and one cup of broth. Place over a burner and heat until it comes to a boil. Whisk in a bit of flour if you would like the gravy to be a bit thicker.

Serve Pork with the Gravy and Roasted Potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Baby Red Potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup of reserved bacon drippings or canola oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the baby potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover them by 1″. Add the salt to the water and heat until they just reach a boil. Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain and pat dry.

Place the melted bacon drippings or oil into a shallow dish. Add the potatoes and stir them around until they are coated. Transfer them to a baking sheet.

Season with additional salt and pepper. Place them in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully turn the potatoes over and continue to bake for 25 more minutes, or until they are soft and fork tender.

Enjoy!

Guinness & Honey Glazed Pork Loin with Roasted Potatoes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness & Honey Glazed Pork Loin with Roasted Potatoes:

Chicago Professional Roasting Pan with Rack

Oxo Good Grips Large Silicon Basting Brush

Oxo Good Grips Gravy Whisk


Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks

March 15, 2019

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Yummmmmmmm! Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks! Comfort food at its finest!  This potato ale soup is so creamy and flavorful on its own with that gorgeous sharp Kerry Gold Cheddar swirled into the mix, it is sheer bliss. It is then topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and just a bit of red pepper flakes to give it a little kick.

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I would’ve said it couldn’t have gotten any better….but that was before I got a taste of those beer battered leeks. SQUEEEEE!!! Those fried leeks are so crispy with a lovely delicate flavor – they just melt in your mouth! I know deep frying stuff can be a bit of a pain in the neck, but seriously….you’ve just got to do it for these leeks. Sooooooo worth it!

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I must admit, I was a bit nervous when I was making this soup. You see, several years ago when the Husband and I were on holiday in Newfoundland, we went into a local brewery and ordered some cheddar ale soup to go along with our pints. We were expecting a little cup, but then big ole honking bowls of soup came out. It was pretty tasty I must say, so foolishly we gobbled it all up. We finished our pints somewhere along the way and ordered seconds. When we got up to leave we couldn’t believe it. It felt as though that soup had tripled in size or that I had somehow eaten all of St. Johns. I have never been that full in my life. We could barely move. I thought someone was going to have to roll us back to our hotel. When we finally did make it back there, we just laid about the place for hours moaning about our bellies. Good times right?

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But this Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup was thankfully nothing like that. Although it is hearty and filling, it isn’t heavy at all. I would recommend that you use a lighter ale or lager with this recipe to avoid weighing it and yourself down! Goodness knows there are parties & parades you’ve got to get to. And green beer to guzzle…

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Or maybe you stay in this year. Seen one parade, you’ve seen them all? You could just cozy up with a nice warming bowl of this lovely soup all topped with those glorious little leeks and enjoy some quality me time. Everyone knows beer has no business being green anyway!

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Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy - but a bit messy what with the frying of the leeks. SO worth it though!
  • Print

recipe from: How Sweet Eats

Ingredients:

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 12 ounces irish ale or your favorite beer
  • 8 ounces Kerry Gold sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated, plus more for topping
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cream, for drizzling
  • fresh herbs for garnish, like thyme, oregano or basil
  • red pepper flakes for garnish

For the Beer Battered Leeks:

  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 ounces irish ale or your favorite beer
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

Directions:

For the Soup:

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Stir in the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and even begin to caramelize slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add in the potatoes, stock and ale. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to medium-low and let it simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Carefully pour the contents in a high-powered blender (if needed, you can do it in two batches). Blend until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pot. Or alternatively, you can use an immersion blender and just keep the soup in the pot. Once blended, heat it over low heat, stirring well. Stir in the grated cheese, one handful at a time, until it completely melts. Make sure you add the cheese SLOWLY over low heat, so it melts right into the soup. Taste and season additionally if desired – you may want a little more salt and pepper depending on the saltiness of your cheese!
To serve the soup, drizzle 1 tablespoon of cream over top. Top with a handful of the beer battered leeks, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, some fresh herbs and pepper. Serve immediately.
For the Beer Battered Leeks:
Cover a large plate with a paper towel or two.
Heat about 2 to 3 inches of oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat the oil to be about 350° F. In this instance, Use a candy/deep fry thermometer to ensure it reaches and remains at the correct temperature.
Whisk together 1 cup of flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Whisk in the beer until the batter is smooth. Place the other cup of flour in a plate. Add the leeks to the beer batter in batches, covering them completely. Remove them from the beer batter and place them in the flour on the plate, tossing to coat. Shake off any excess flour. Add the coated leeks to the oil and fry until the batter is golden brown and flakey. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to drain and excess grease.
Enjoy!
Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks:
Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. dutch oven
Breville Immersion Blender
Candy/Deep Fry Stainless Steel Thermometer
Stainless Steel Spider Strainer
KerryGold Aged Cheddar Cheese

Irish Bacon & Potato Leek Cakes with Colcannon Butter Sauce

March 12, 2019

 

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Breakfast for dinner? Absolutely – especially if it is this dish! Irish Bacon & Potato Leek Cakes with Colcannon Butter Sauce is just amazing. Now, I know when you hear bacon, you might be thinking breakfast. But this is a pretty hardy meal and everyone knows, bacon is good anytime – breakfast, 2nd breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, late night snack…I think you get the picture.

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The bacon I used here is not the streaky bacon you are likely more familiar with. This is Irish Bacon or rashers. It is traditionally cut from the back of the pig rather than the belly, which is from where streaky bacon is cut. It is similar to Canadian Bacon, but I would say has a very different flavor. Irish Bacon, or rashers as they are usually called are cooked until done, but are not until crisp like American bacon. Truth be told, the original recipe for this dish calls for uncured loin of pork. A pork chop essentially, but I happened to have some rashers on hand, so there you have it. If you have pork chops, feel free to sub them in!

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One thing I can tell you is you are absolutely going to love this decadent, silky Colcannon Butter Sauce. I think the Husband wants to put it on everything now. And potato leek cakes are right up our alley as well. Can’t do wrong with fried potatoes, not to mention the leeks. We can’t get enough of them! All in all this meal was truly a winner and would be a perfect alternative to a corned beef & cabbage feast. Or maybe make it the day after St. Patrick’s…who says you can’t have it all!

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Irish Bacon & Potato Leek Cakes with Colcannon Butter Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices Irish Bacon or Rashers
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, green & white parts separated and finely sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 medium egg yolk

For the Colcannon Sauce:

  • 50 grams (1/4 stick) butter
  • 5 cabbage leaves, finely shredded
  • a small potato, finely diced
  • 4 Tablespoons white wine
  • 200 ml heavy cream

For Garnish: handful of cherry tomatoes (if desired)

Directions:

Make the potato cakes: Fry the dark green part of the leek in a little butter, and mix well with the potato, flour, cream and egg yolk.  Place the potato mixture into the refrigerator to cool. The mixture becomes easier to handle and shape when cool. Once it has chilled, then mould into four to six small round discs. Set aside until ready to serve.

Make the Colcannon Butter Sauce: Melt half the butter in a pan and add the cabbage and potato. Cook slowly for 5 mins, then pour in the white wine and reduce by half. Add the cream and reduce by half. Season and remove from the heat. Stir the rest of the butter into the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.

Cook the Bacon: Heat a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Fry the rashers of bacon until they are golden on each side. Should only take a few minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.

Add a bit more butter to the pan. Sweat the remaining white part of the leeks and some tomatoes if you desire. Season to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside. Fry the potato cakes in the remaining butter for 2 minutes on each side.

Enjoy!

Irish Bacon & Potato Leek Cakes with Colcannon Butter Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Irish Bacon & Potato Leek Cakes with Colcannon Butter Sauce:

Donnelly Imported Rashers – This is for an 8 pack of bacon. More than you need for this recipe, but you might be feeding a crowd for all I know…


Nashville “Hot” Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter

March 1, 2019

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Anyone out there heard of Nashville Hot Chicken? If you have, I’ll give you a couple of minutes to finish that happy dance you must be doing at the mention of it right now, for those of you who haven’t … Oh, good Lord child, hold onto your hat! Nashville Hot Chicken is the local specialty of Nashville. You see in Nashville, they don’t just have fried chicken, which is awesome all on its lonesome, I must say. No, they have a very special, spicy hot chicken. Served up atop a piece of white bread and topped with pickles, the chicken there is marinated in a hot, spicy buttermilk brine, dredged in a spicy hot flour dredge, fried and then slathered with a fiery cayenne glaze – and that’s the mild version! Folks in Nashville are not playing! This chicken is a taste sensation that will truly light up all of your senses! The husband and I love us some spicy food, so this is right up our alley.

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As is Nashville. The chicken isn’t the only thing that’s hot there! Obviously if you love country music, you should make a bee line for this destination. But country music isn’t the only thing on the menu – we’ve pretty much come across every genre of music when visiting there. They don’t call it Music City for nothing! Not to mention, if you love food – the dynamic food scene you will find in Nashville is amazing! The signature hot chicken isn’t all there is to be had, so those of you with more tender taste buds do not need to despair.

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The husband and I have visited two times and are always planning for our next trip there. We’ve enjoyed all sorts of music entertainment – from beloved bluegrass at the iconic Station Inn to all that the honky tonks of Broadway have to offer! And food wise – yes we have sampled the Nashville Hot Chicken (more on that to come…) but we’ve also enjoyed inspired mexican dishes at St. Anjeo

IMG_7674and to die for fusion Indian/American southern dishes at the Chauhan Ale & Masala House

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as well as all the barbecue, biscuits,

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rooftop cocktails

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and fine dining you can shake a stick at. Nashville has it all going on ya’ll! And where should one stay while experiencing this bustling town? Well both times we’ve visited, we’ve stayed in a lovely suite at the Thompson Nashville in the Gulch.

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The Gulch is a very trendy, hip neighborhood on the southwest fringe of downtown Nashville. It is only blocks from Music City Central and just steps to the downtown honky tonks. This luxury hotel shares the block with the aforementioned Station Inn and boasts a fantastic rooftop bar & lounge as well as an award winning restaurant. While I’m sure all of their rooms are lovely, the Thompson suite is absolutely decadent. So spacious, boasting floor to ceiling windows, wet bars, clawfoot bathtubs, rain showers and Nashville inspired finishes – such as sliding barn doors and Marshall bluetooth speakers – this room is a destination in itself.

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But let me get back to that Hot Chicken. On our last visit to Nashville, the Husband and I decided to go sample some of the city’s hot chicken. Although the African-American community in the area had been enjoying spicy chicken for generations, Nashville Hot Chicken as it is now known was likely introduced in 1930. Apparently, there was a gentleman who was quite a womanizer. After a late night out, after which he was unable, or unwilling to provide the details of which to his current girlfriend, she saw fit to exact a little revenge on him and fried him up a special batch of chicken on which she quite liberally applied the cayenne. In a twist of fate, the victim here ended up really loving this fiery chicken. The gentleman for whom this revenge chicken was prepared was from the family of Andre Prince Jeffries – the proprietor of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shacks, one of the better known hot chicken places in Nashville. They’ve been serving up this signature dish since the 1930s. Currently there are over two dozen establishments in Nashville serving up their own versions of Hot Chicken. The husband and I chose to check out Hattie B’s Nashville Hot Chicken.

IMG_7654Hattie B’s is a no frills kind of place, we dined on a wooden picnic table on a screened in porch, but that doesn’t seem to stop folks from lining up around the block to get ahold of some of their molten gold. We stood in line for about 30 minutes on the day we visited, but it was so worth it!IMG_7655They offer several spice levels for their chicken – southern, mild, medium, hot, damn hot and shut the cluck up! So, as I’ve mentioned, we like spicy and consider ourselves somewhat spice experienced. Spice aficionados. So I decided to go for the hot chicken. The husband he went for damn hot. And we couldn’t resist ordering one chicken tender that was designated at the “shut the cluck up” level.

IMG_7656Well, all I can say is by Nashville Hot Chicken standards, we are pretty much novices. I could eat my “hot” chicken – but it took quite a good portion of that pitcher of beer we ordered to get it down. I’m telling you this was a brow mopping, slightly sweating experience. There was absolutely no way I was going to even attempt one small taste of the “shut the cluck up’ tender that had been sitting there mocking us as we persevered through our chicken choices. But the Husband, although his mouth was already on fire, was not one to back down to a challenge. So, God help him, he took a bite!

Yup…..just as I suspected. It was pretty much life changing! There are ghost peppers rumored to be in play here. What it taught us is respect. We respect Nashville Hot Chicken now. Oh we still order it, but are always careful to get a more descriptive explanation of the spice level involved, using Hattie B’s as a baseline. That chicken hurts so good, but is not for the faint of heart!

But back to this recipe I’m sharing with you today. Do not be scared. Although I am calling this Nashville Hot Chicken, it is very very mild to what I just described.

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And if you really don’t like a lot of spice, don’t bother with the spicy glaze. What you must do is the brine. This chicken is so moist, tender and flavorful, which I think is mostly due to that brine. You don’t want to miss out on that. And just know going into this that chickens now a days are so bred to be so huge, more like turkeys really, it is unlikely you will be able to get the larger pieces like the breast and thighs done when deep-frying. You should plan to finish the chicken in the oven.

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And although it is traditional to serve Nashville Hot Chicken with a piece of white bread and pickles, I served mine up with some soft, tender buttermilk biscuits which we slathered with honey butter.

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Quite the treat I must say.  The chicken is delicious, but these biscuits are pretty amazing all on their own. Soft and airy, but with a bit of a crispy crust on the outside. Sturdy enough to hold up as a sandwich. And out of this world simply smeared with honey butter!

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So if you are ready for a taste adventure, book that trip to Nashville and give Prince’s or Hattie B’s a whirl. For an introduction to the cuisine, or to start your taste bud training, whip up this recipe!

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Nashville Hot Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy - but does involve deep-frying & all the mess that goes along with it...
  • Print

recipe from: Chef Marion Anderson with Sur La Table Cooking Classes

Ingredients:

Nashville Spice Mix:

  • 2 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons paprika
  • 4 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Marinade:

  • 1 (3 – 4 pound) whole chicken cut into 10 serving pieces
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar-based hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1/4 cup Nashville spice-mix

For the Seasoned Flour Dredge:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Nashville Spice Mix

For the dip:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup Nashville Spice Mix
  • 1 cup reserved oil from frying
  • sea salt for seasoning

Directions:

Whisk all of the ingredients for the Nashville Spice Mix together until combined and set aside.

Place the chicken in a large dish. Combine 4 cups of the buttermilk, hot sauce and the Nashville Spice Mix. Mix thoroughly and then pour over the chicken. Cover and allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 – 8 hours. I prefer a longer marinade and just let the chicken marinate overnight.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to fry the chicken, remove it from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Then leave it to rest on a wire rack which has been placed over a baking sheet. Allow the chicken to drain and come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven the 350° F. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and spice mix and set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, egg, baking power and baking soda for the dip.

Place a large, heavy Dutch oven on the stove. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side and fill with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350°F.

Pick up a piece of the chicken, dredge it in the seasoned flour. Shake any excess flour from the chicken and then dip it into the egg mixture. Give it a shake and then dip it once more into the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess again.

Slide the coated chicken, skin side down into the hot oil. Once all of the chicken you are cooking in that batch has been added to the pan, adjust the flame as necessary. Cook for about  8-10 minutes and then check the chicken. It should be golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oil to baking tray lined with paper towels. Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should register 165°F, if it has not reached this level, but is a perfect shade of golden brown, place the chicken into the preheated oven to finish cooking. Continue frying the chicken, remembering to allow the oil to return to 350°F between batches.

Once all of the chicken is cooked, move it from the paper towels to a wire cooling rack which has been set over a rimmed baking sheet. Add some of the hot cooking oil to the remaining Nashville Spice Mix and whisk until a paste forms. You want the paste to be thin enough to brush over the chicken as a glaze, so add as much oil as you need to achieve this consistency. Generously glaze the chicken and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Serve over a piece of white bread, along with some pickle chips if you want to be truly authentic. Or serve with some lovely Buttermilk Biscuits which have been slathered with Honey Butter, as I did. (Biscuit recipe noted below.)

Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter

servings: 8 – 16 biscuits depending on how you cut them!

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

  • 2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) frozen unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the Honey Butter:

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Grate the frozen butter over the flour mixture and toss until all the butter is coated. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, mix until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just one or two times. The less touching the better. Pat the dough out to a 1″ thickness. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits out, taking care not to twist the cutter. Just push straight down and pull straight up, otherwise your biscuits will not rise as high as you might hope.

Place the biscuits on the prepared tray and brush with the beaten egg. Bake until golden-brown, about 12 -14 minutes.

Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened butter, honey and salt. Mix until the butter is light and fluffy. Serve with warm biscuits and spicy chicken.

Enjoy!

Nashville Hot Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Nashville Hot Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter:

Le Creuset Signature 5 1/2 quart Round Dutch Oven

Instant Read Deep Fry Thermometer

Solid Stainless Steel Spider Skimmer Ladle

Stainless Steel Cooling Rack

Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Rimmed Sheet

Silicone basting brush set

Mason Cash Into the Forest mixing bowl

Stainless Steel Box Grater

Stainless Steel Biscuit Cutters

Links for Planning your vacation in Nashville:

Accommodation:

Thompson Nashville – This boutique hotel is located in the hip and trendy Gulch neighborhood of downtown Nashville, just a few minutes walk from  It boasts a rooftop lounge, a cozy cafe and contemporary seafood restaurant. The cozy rooms feature floor to ceiling windows, sliding barn doors and premium linens.

Restaurants/Bars:

St. Añejo

Chauhan Ale & Masala House

Whiskey Kitchen

Hattie B’s -Get your Nashville Hot Chicken here! Go ahead…try the Shut the Cluck Up level…I dare you!

Biscuit Love

L.A. Jackson – Rooftop Bar at the Thompson Nashville hotel featuring sweeping views of downtown Nashville, creative cocktails and delicious small plates.

Acme Feed & Seed 

Shopping:

Vincent Peach – Gorgeous jewelry featuring tahitian pearls, tusks, leather, vintage coins, fossils and pave diamonds as far as the eye can see. Worn by the likes of Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Stephen Tyler.

Carter Vintage Guitars – Very friendly guitar store chock full of quality vintage instruments and accessories as well as a laid back and knowledgeable staff.

 

 

 


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