Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Asian Sweet and Spicy Pork Sandwhiches

Once again I have leftover gyoza filling in the freezer (see the post Pork and Cabbage Stuffed Pork Chops ). I never seem to get the amount of filling to wrapper ratio right! Anyway, it's not really a big deal as the filling freezes well, and can be used to make more gyoza, or other meals, as I did last night.

I also found a small amount of edamame beans in the freezer, which would be great added to the meat.

I bought some more ground pork, added the gyoza filling (ground pork, shredded cabbage, carrots and green onion, garlic, ginger and soy sauce) as well as Hoisin sauce and sriracha. I made some Hawaiian sweet rolls, and added thinly sliced cucumber. This was an easy meal to make, very tasty, messy to eat and there is some left for lunch today!

Using a bit of vegetable oil, cook until soft:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Stir in, and cook for a minute:

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced


1 pound ground pork

Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon until the pork is almost no longer pink.

Stir in:

Leftover gyoza filling; I had about 1 1/2 cups


1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2 green onions, minced
1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced

Continue to cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it is all fully cooked.

Stir in:

2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
2 - 3 teaspoons sriracha
1 teaspoon soy sauce


3/4 cup Edamame beans

Continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. Warm the Hawaiian sweet buns, thinly slice some cucumber, and you are ready to assemble and serve the sandwhiches.

Cut the buns in half, and place a large spoonful of the hot meat onto the bottom half of the bun.

Top with thinly sliced cucumber.

I served two sandwhiches per person, as the sweet Hawaiian rolls are small. I also made some slaw, with fresh cabbage, carrots, green onions and a peanut dressing.

  • When I make the gyoza filling, I finely shred the cabbage, then blanch it in salted water and after allowing it to cool, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. If you are adding cabbage to the meat instead of gyoza filling, this is optional. All extra liquid will reduce away as the meat cooks.
  • The varied amounts given for hoisin sauce and sriracha are there so that the sweetness and spiciness can be adapted to your taste. I started with the smaller amounts, and found that I added more. 
  • When the meat is cooked, taste; adjust the salt by adding more soy sauce if you feel it is necessary.
  • This meat filling can be served in lettuce wraps, steamed buns, tortillas, with rice or noodles.
  • The meat filling can also be frozen once it is cooked.
  • This can be made using any ground meat...chicken, turkey, beef.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Pear, Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Bundt Cake

I was craving something sweet...but not cookies...coffee cake or banana bread were what I was thinking, but when I spied the hazelnuts and dried cherries in the cupboard, and the two ripe pears, this recipe evolved. The hazelnuts and cherries were bought for a recipe that I had wanted to try, but I honestly couldn't remember what, so I used some of them for this. The pears were perfectly ripe and needed to be used, because as everyone knows, pears are perfect one day and overripe the next!

Start off by turning the oven on to 350F and greasing a bundt pan.

In a food processor, combine:

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Process until the nuts are fine.


1/2 cup dried sour cherries

Process briefly, until the cherries are chopped into smaller pieces.


3 tablespoons room temperature butter

Process by pulsing until the butter is combined with the other ingredients and you have a slightly sticky, crumbly mixture.

Set aside until needed.

Cream until light and fluffy:

1 cup soft butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

Add, one at a time, scraping the bowl down in between additions:

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients:

2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Add in one third, mixing until just combined.

Add half of the wet ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

Repeat these two steps once, and then add the final third of the dry ingredients.

Mix in:

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced

Scrape a third of the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and spread evenly.

Sprinkle half of the hazelnut and cherry crumble over the batter.

Repeat using a third of the batter, and then the last half of crumble and finally the last of the batter.

Bake until the cake is fully cooked, and a wooden skewer comes out clean when used to test it. This took approximately 50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes, then gently loosen the sides of the cake with a butter knife, invert the pan onto a cooling rack and allow the cake to release.

The cake can be served hot or at room temperature. It is perfect with tea or coffee, can be eaten as breakfast or even as dessert, with the addition of whipped cream or ice cream.

  • I used a bundt pan simply because I like the shape! This can be baked in 8" X 5" loaf pans (you will need two), a 9" X 13" pan or a 10" round springform pan.
  • The cherry and hazelnut crumble can be sprinkled on the top of the batter if you are baking the cake in something other than a loaf pan; it can still be layered in these pans as well. If you are using a 9" X 13" pan you will spread half the batter, all or half of the crumble, and then repeat.
  • The baked cake can be frozen. If not frozen, it will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for about 5 days.
  • Any nuts can be used; any dried fruit can be used....cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots.
  • Instead of pears use apples, peaches, plums, fresh or frozen berries, rhubarb.
  • Spices such as ground ginger, aniseed, five spice or nutmeg can be used with, or instead of, the cinnamon.
  • I did not have 1 cup of sour cream, so I added milk to make up the cup needed. Plain yoghurt or buttermilk can also be used.
  • Why not make extra crumble and store it in the freezer? It's perfect to use as a topping for muffins, other loaves such as banana bread, sprinkle on top of ice cream, or add to your next batch of scones.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Cannellini Bean Ragout

I don't often buy chicken thighs with skin on, or bone in for that matter, but I had been wanting to bake some with flavours stuffed under the skin, and feta cheese crumbled on top. My vision was crispy skin, moist chicken meat with lots of flavour, feta cheese that was crisp and melting at the same time.

I did have some things to use up, however, that clashed with my idea...caramelized onions, half a red pepper, some zucchini, a tiny bit of diced artichoke hearts. After a bit of thought this is what I came up with. The chicken thighs retained their crispy skin, but because they baked on top of the ragout they maintained their moisture, and it added another layer of flavours to the meat.

Turn the oven on to 350F.

Start by making a rough paste to push under the skin of the thighs. Combine:

1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon pinenuts, crushed

Add in:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Divide the paste between:

8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

Gently lift the skin and push the paste underneath. Place the skin back down.

Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Using a large skillet, that can be placed directly into the oven, heat a bit of olive oil until very hot.

Carefully add the chicken thighs, skin side down and allow the skin to brown and crisp. Carefully turn the chicken over and brown the other side.

Remove from the pan and set aside. Drain the excess fat from the pan.

Keep the pan on the heat, but turn it down to medium. Add the vegetables:

1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, caramelized

Cook until the vegetables start to colour and soften.

Stir in:

1 x 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and juice
1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts

Bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape the caramelized bits off the bottom of the pan. This is where all of the flavour is!

Turn the heat down to simmer. Stir in:

1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed

Add the browned chicken thighs back to the pan, resting them on top of the ragout, and making sure that the crispy skin is not covered by the liquid.

Place the whole pan into the oven, and bake until the chicken is fully cooked, about an hour and a half.

Remove the pan from the oven, and turn the broiler on.

Crumble feta cheese over the top of the ragout and chicken.

Place back into the oven.

Broil until the feta cheese becomes golden and crisp on the edges, and soft in the middle.

The chicken skin will also crisp up and get a bit more golden.

Remove from the oven.

To serve, place some ragout in the bottom of a shallow bowl, and the gently place the chicken thighs on top, making sure that each portion receives some of the feta cheese. I added some warm pita bread to soak up the sauce.

  • By crisping the skin before baking the chicken, and keeping it exposed and not covered by the liquid, it retained it's crispy, crunchy texture. The paste that was stuffed underneath the skin added flavour to the chicken meat and the skin.
  • That being said, this can also be made using skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Omit the pinenuts from the paste, rub it into the chicken thighs and brown them, before adding them back to the ragout. Serve garnished with toasted pinenuts of you wish.
  • I added the feta cheese at the end as I wanted it to stay as a separate part of the meal, not melt into the ragout during cooking. You can use other cheese such as goat cheese, Asiago or Parmesan.
  • Fresh tomatoes can be used...peeled, seeded and chopped. Add some chicken stock if more liquid is needed.
  • Originally I was going to use chick peas, but found that I had a can of cannellini beans instead. Use whatever beans you have. If you are using canned beans, make sure to drain and rinse them. If you are using dried beans, soak them in cold water overnight, then simmer them until they are tender, using fresh water and no salt, before adding them to the ragout.
  • Other vegetables can be added...carrots, celery, rutabaga, squash, mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potatoes.
  • I used basil and oregano as they were available; try rosemary, thyme, parsley.
  • This can be served over rice, pasta, polenta or with fresh crusty bread. 
  • The chicken can be stuffed, browned and baked on its own. The ragout turned it into a complete meal, as well as used the bits and pieces I had left from another meal.
  • Leftovers can be frozen, or turned into a soup by adding chicken stock to the ragout. Remove the chicken from the bone, dice or shred it, and add it to the soup.