Lemon Risotto with Garlic Shrimp

Well this may be my favourite experiment to date. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve found recipes I’ve always wanted to try but for whatever reason, never did.

Risotto is very intimidating as an amateur chef after years of watching Food Network and professional chefs being chastised for their risotto not being cooked properly. Too loose, under-done, bland…. so many ways to screw it up!

Found this recipe on Bon Apetit and decided I was ready to give it a go. Made a few tweaks and adjustments from the OG ingredients based on my own taste, but here’s what I used.

I think chicken or scallops would also have worked well with this, but I chose shrimp as the protein of choice this evening.

Ingredients:

Risotto:

  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay from one of our favourite vineyards – Ravine)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used dried parsley and it was fine!)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Shrimp:

Used this PC Lemon and Garlic Shrimp and it was super easy to make and a great addition to the risotto.

Instructions:

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently.

Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes.

Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

Transfer to bowl and place desired amount of shrimp on top.

Sprinkle with a little more parsley and season with freshly cracked pepper and Maldon salt

Also, the chardonnay was a great pairing with the dinner (and a great way to finish off the bottle)

Cheers!

Jalapeño Cheddar Ale soup

Mmmm. Good soup.

Many years ago I had some soup from the cafeteria at work. It was so good, I spoke the chef and asked if they could share the recipe. Well, I lost that recipe but have continued to make this from time to time from memory.

Decided I should finally put pen to paper (err, keystrokes to blog?) and make sure I have a copy of this recipe forever more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 2 bunches of green (spring) onions, diced
  • 3 cups of chopped celery
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, diced
  • 1 tall can (about 1 1/2 cups) of beer (pale ale or IPA are best)
  • 4 cups of low-salt chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup of 18% table cream
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups old cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp dried parsley
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste
  • croutons to garnish (or some fresh buns to dip!)

In a French oven or stock pot over medium-high heat, cook onions, garlic and jalapeño in butter until onions are translucent. (approx 10 mins)

While that’s cooking, take celery and run through a food processor until it’s a pulpy texture

Deglaze pan with 1/2 the beer then add celery. Add spices, mustard and Worcestershire. Mix well and add rest of the beer. Tonight I used Instigator IPA from a local Toronto brewery Indie AleHouse.

Add chicken stock (save 1/2 cup) and bring everything to a simmering boil. Make a slurry with your cornstarch and chicken stock and stir in.

Put your lid on and leave to simmer for 30 mins, stirring occassionally.

Turn heat down to medium and add cream and stir well. Add cheese in small batches, stirring thoroughly each time to make sure it’s melted (and not just congealing at the bottom).

Hit it with the immersion blender and let it cook over medium heat for an additional 10-15 mins. At this point add some salt, tasting as you go. You DO NOT want to salt-bomb this soup and ruin the layers of flavour.

Serve with croutons or some bread, or even a dollop of sour cream. It’s not too spicy, but it still has some heat.

And that’s that! Delicious soup and lots of leftovers for this weekend, where it’s going to feel like -30ºC here in Toronto (Brrrrrr!) Glad to have some good soup to warm up for lunch tomorrow.

2021 Christmas baking round-up

Welp, it’s January 2022 and the last 3 weeks have flown by.

Between the Omicron variant running rampant, my husband having emergency surgery (spoiler alert: he’s ok!) and me trying to make the best of things, there was a lot of stress baking. I’m one of those immunocompromised folks, so leaving the house hasn’t really been a thing over the last month or so.

Here’s the round-up of what went down:

These beauties used a standard sugar cookie recipe and a royal icing design that I found on TikTok. Yes, TikTok.

Vanilla Confetti cake with Peppermint buttercream

Next up was a Christmas cake. I used the recipe for the cake and the buttercream from the AWESOME cookbook I received for my 40th birthday last year – The Magnolia Bakery Handbook: A complete guide for the home baker. Only additions were the peppermint extract for the icing (I added sparingly and tasted as I went to make sure it didn’t end up tooth paste-y) and I also added a package of red-green-white quins for the confetti.

New Years Eve rage cake

The days leading up to NYE were particularly not great. I was pretty angry and decided I needed to channel that anger. So, this cake happened.

It was my first time playing with candy melts to make lettering. Some cracked, but it was fun to test out different designs. I used 3 cups of white chocolate candy melts, and melted them in batches in the microwave. Once it had cooled down enough, I put some into a piping bag and started making my lettering/designs on some wax paper.

The cake was a small chocolate cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (my FAVE baking/cooking blogger) I made 2 layers with a salted caramel filling and the icing was chocolate ganache and some sprinkles/dragées.

Ginger and Black Treacle cookies

So I didn’t take any pictures of these cookies, but this is my go-to recipe from the BBC for soft, pillowy gingerbread cookies. Highly recommend! You can usually find black treacle in a UK shop that carries baking supplies. We love A Bit of Home here in the Greater Toronto Area. I can usually find sugars, treacle and a load of other goodies there.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

And finally, I had wanted to make cinnamon rolls at some point over the holidays, but life happened and they were left to the last possible vacation day. But, well worth the wait. Didn’t use any pecans for this batch, but that didn’t make them any less delicious.

This is a recipe I’ve used several times from Williams Sonoma. A full post dedicated solely to these yeasty bois can be found here.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

It’s our 7th wedding anniversary tomorrow, and after 408 days of stay-at-home because of a frickin’ pandemic, I wanted to make a fun dinner for us. And fun dinner calls for a fun dessert.

Happy anniversary, my love!

I adapted this recipe from It’s Always Autumn‘s Dark Chocolate Fudge ice cream recipe.

You’ll need an ice cream maker for this recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 cups 2% milk divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 cup 60% or darker chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package of 2-bite brownies

Instructions

  • In a medium pot, heat cream and unsweetened cocoa over medium heat, whisking until well combined.
  • When edges begin to bubble, remove from heat and add chocolate chips.
  • Let them sit for a few minutes to melt, then stir until smooth.
  • Whisk in one cup of milk. Pour mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Heat remaining cup of milk, sugar, and salt in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring until combined.
  • While that continues to heat, separate 5 eggs, discarding whites. Whisk yolks.
  • Pour all the eggs back into the warm milk, whisking well.
  • Continue to heat mixture until it starts to thicken. When it’s thick enough to coat a metal spoon, remove from heat and pour milk/egg mixture over the chocolate mixture.
  • Add vanilla and stir until completely combined.
  • Cover mixture and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours until cold.
  • Chop 2-bite brownies into small pieces and set aside.
  • Once cooled, churn in ice cream maker for 20-25 mins until it’s a soft serve consistency
  • Put ice cream into freezer safe container and fold in brownie pieces until incorporated
  • Freeze for 3-4 hours (or overnight) and take out of the freezer for 10 mins prior to serving

So I got an air fryer…

And delicious things have been happening.

So the joys of being home for 310 days (friggin’ pandemic, eh?) is you have a lot of time to think about how to improve things in your house and I kept seeing articles/ heard friends talking about air fryers. What’s an air fryer? An air fryer is essentially a concentrated convection oven. Cooking at a high heat with air circulation.

My parents got one and I think that was the final straw for me to actually start researching brands/features and figuring out which one I wanted. There are A LOT of makes/models. They take up a significant amount of counter space so I had to make sure I found one that fit under the counter for storage when not in use.

I ended up getting the Philips Analog Airfryer with Twin Turbostar Technology. I actually found a refurbished version of this, as I couldn’t justify spending $250 on a new appliance that really, is a want vs. a need.

I’ve had it for 3 weeks now and I am loving it. Have gotten recipes from friends, my fave food blogs and done a lot of experimenting on my own.

Some things I’ve tried:

Roasted garlic potatoes
Panko-crusted mozzarella sticks
Pepperoni and garlic pizza rolls
Soy sauce and brown sugar glazed rainbow carrots

We’ve also tried a few frozen foods, like chicken nuggets, fries and pierogies. All of them came out crispy and delicious with nothing more than a quick spray of vegetable oil over top.

Do we need an air fryer? No.

Would I recommend getting one? Yes.

Looking forward to the many recipes and experimentation to come!

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate Swirl Cookies

Yah. these were mighty tasty! Adding them as a regular to my Christmas cookie recipes.

Inspired from Alton Brown’s Peppermint pinwheel cookies

Ingredients (start by making a sugar cookie dough):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For when sugar cookie dough is done:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate wafers, melted (I’m sure you could use chocolate chips if you can’t get your hands on wafers)
  • 3 tablespoons high quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes (word to the wise – Bulk Barn has crushed candy canes, or you can toss some regular candy canes in the food processor for a little spin)

Instructions:

Divide the dough in half and add melted chocolate, cocoa powder and vanilla to 1st half and incorporate (I used my mixer for this)

Add egg yolk, peppermint extract, and crushed candy canes to the 2nd half of the sugar cookie dough and incorporate (I used my mixer for this)

Cover both with plastic and chill for approximately 5 minutes.

Roll out doughs separately to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Place peppermint dough on top of chocolate and press together around the edges. Using waxed paper or flexible cutting board underneath, roll dough into log. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours. It’s ok if your dough breaks a bit while rolling. This give it the fun swirly effect!

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Place cookies 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat (I used a silicone mat) and bake for 11 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. Watch these cookies carefully, as they can turn from done to borderline burnt in a real hurry (speaking from experience!)

Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Yorkshire pudding

My kitchen nemesis.

For too long I would try to make them and they wouldn’t rise and would end up being little oily/dense discs of sadness.

But today, today I conquered them and I’M SO EXCITED!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! to Nicky and her foolproof recipe:

https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/perfect-yorkshire-puddings/

My Yorkshire puddings!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Servings 12 small Yorkshire Puddings

Author Nicky Corbishley

Ingredients

  • 140 g (1cup+1tbsp) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200 ml (¾cup+1tbsp) Semi Skimmed milk (I prefer to use semi-skimmed or half fat milk)
  • 6 tsp beef dripping or lard (replace with vegetable oil for a vegetarian version)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the flour in a jug and make a well in the centre. 
  • Add the eggs and stir together with a balloon whisk, bringing the flour into the centre with the eggs bit-by-bit. 
  • Add in the milk and stir again with the whisk until combined. It’s fine if it’s a little bit lumpy.
  • Place the jug in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight) to chill. This is important to allow the flour granules to swell (also, cold batter hitting a very hot pan should result in a good rise). * I put mine in the fridge for 2 hours
  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. 
  • Add ½ tsp of lard to each hole of a 12-hole metal bun tin. Place in the oven to heat for 10 minutes.
  • Take the jug of Yorkshire pudding batter of the fridge, add in the salt and pepper and stir once more with the whisk.
  • Open the oven door, and if safe to do so, pull out the tray and quickly (be careful, the melted lard will be very hot!), pour the batter into each of the prepared muffin holes. Close the door immediately and cook for 15-18 minutes until risen and golden.
Sunday slow cooker roast with potatoes and mushrooms and an onion gravy

Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

So yesterday we went for a drive down to the Niagara Region and found this ridiculously amazing Cheesy Garlic loaf from Harvest Barn. We shared this loaf with friends at a picnic and oh my, was it ever good.

Since I got home, all I could do was think about this bread. It was that good.

I told another foodie friend of mine about this amazing bread and he sent me this recipe from Chew Town this afternoon.

I had all the ingredients on hand, so decided to give it a shot and while it wasn’t as good as the Harvest Barn loaf, it’s a very close second. Definitely recommend you give it a try.

The search for the perfect loaf continues…

Before going in the oven
Garlic pull apart deliciousness

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Day 49 of quarantine

I’ve already baked my “go-to’s” several times over so today I decided to try something new.

We’ve been receiving produce delivery from Mister Produce and yesterday I got some delicious honey crisp apples. So this morning I looked over several of my favourite recipe sites looking for apple recipes and settled on trying this cake

I made some small adjustments (a little more milk and added yogurt) to this recipe but otherwise, followed it word for word and am very pleased with the results.

Caramel Upside Down Cake

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large apples peel, cored, and thinly sliced

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and a round of parchment paper on the bottom and set aside.
To make the topping:
  • Add the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, and evenly spread it on the bottom.
  • Arrange the apple slices in an even layer on top. Set aside.
To make the cake:
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla and mix until fully combined.
  • Alternate mixing the dry ingredients and milk into the wet ingredients, starting with the flour and ending with the flour.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan on top of the sliced apples.
  • Bake at 350°F degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before flipping over onto a large plate.

Doughnuts!

With great power comes great responsibility

Last weekend I wanted to give doughnuts a try. They turned out all well and good but they were super dense and very oily

During the week I reviewed several other yeast doughnut recipes and decided to give it another go. SUCCESS!

My thanks to Immal and her recipe for finally getting things right.

Doughnut Batter

  • 2 packs 1/4 ounce packages yeast or 4-½ teaspoon yeast
  • 1/3 cup water 105-115F / 40-46C
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup lard (75 grams)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil for frying

Doughnut Glaze

  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5-7 tablespoons evaporated milk

Instructions

  1. In a standing mixer, combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in a microwave safe medium bowl, heat milk for about 2 minutes. Remove and let it cool.
  3. Add, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening or butter and 2 cups of flour to bowl of yeast.
  4. Mix with dough hook attachment for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and continue mixing dough. Scraping down sides.
  5. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover loosely with a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours or until doubled.
  6. Roll dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a donut cutter or cookie cutter about one 1-inch and one 3 or 4-inch .Let stand for about 10 minutes.
  7. In a large French oven, pour in canola oil until it is at least 3 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high and place on medium heat until oil is 375 degrees.
  8. Carefully drop doughnuts into hot oil, only a few at a time. (I used a slotted spatula to ease each doughnut into the oil) Fry, turning once, for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on prepared paper towels.

Doughnut Glaze

  1. In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter.
  2. Remove and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla extract until everything comes together
  3. Then evaporated milk (or sub water) until you have reached desired consistency
  4. Dip doughnuts in glaze and let it drip on the rack.
  5. If desired, dip glazed donut into sprinkles or topping of your choice