Ginger Wasabi Dip

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I recently served sour cream / onion soup mix dip to a friend that I hadn’t seen in almost a year. This ran completely contrary to the rep I’ve earned of “If you go to Marie’s house, she will feed you really interesting, good food”.

Thing is, we’d had no warning that she’d be in town, and she caught us with what we had on hand – and one of our dirty little secrets. Yep, gourmet food aside, we’re still a little addicted to the quick chip dip from our childhoods. (Well, with the addition of powdered jalapenos, anyway!)

Realizing the creative food rut we’d gotten in to – with regards to chip dips – we were inspired to revisit a “quick, easy” chip dip we’d had in the past.

Several years ago, we picked up a little jar of powdered dip mix in a tourist shop, back home in Winnipeg. It was a Wasabi-Ginger Dip mix, and it was really tasty. The container eventually ran out, and we … forgot about it.

So, we decided that I would take the flavors we remembered from that dip, and create a new, from-scratch version. This may not be as quick as dumping some powder into a mixture of sour cream and mayo, but it’s really not that far off, in terms of effort.

In terms of flavor, this dip is great – so much better than the original! The ginger and wasabi flavors work so well together, creating a dip that’s not only great for chips, but for crudite as well.

We like a fair amount of zing – and really, with flavors like ginger and wasabi, do you really want subtle? If you’d like a more mild dip, however, feel free to tinker with the amounts of the stronger / milder ingredients.

Either way, enjoy!

Wasabi Ginger Dip Recipe

2 Tbsp Wasabi Powder
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

In a medium sized bowl, mix wasabi powder together with water to form a smooth paste. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Once time is up, stir in ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil, stirring until everything is well combined and smooth. Add sour cream and mayo, once again stirring until everything is well combined and smooth. Add dried onion flakes, stir till well distributed.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap, chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Mushroom Soup and Eggs on Toast (Gluten Free)

So, I’ve written and deleted the first few paragraphs of this blog entry a few times. Who knew that writing a blog entry on a very simple comfort food from my childhood would be so complicated?

Bottom line? Today’s recipe was brought on by all of the Mother’s Day ads lately, it’s a sore time of year for me, etc. To say that my family’s relationship status is “It’s Complicated” would be a gross understatement.

ANYWAY. My grandmother was awesome, and this recipe was inspired by her. She used to make mushroom soup and eggs on toast for me as a kid, and I loved it. Very simple comfort food – heat up an undiluted can of cream of mushroom soup, chop up some hard boiled eggs into it, and serve it over toast. Good stuff!

Well, now I’m an adult that’s allergic to gluten, so indulging in this weekend’s nostalgic craving took a little more effort.

Not a ton of effort, mind you… and the results were so good! This is not high cuisine, and it’s not the prettiest meal ever – but it sure hits the spot. While I’ve designed this recipe to be gluten free, feel free to serve it on regular toast, and/or use flour instead of cornstarch if you’re not Gluten free. Either way, hope you enjoy it!

PS: I have no idea if it’s a regional thing, or what – but no one I know seems to have ever heard of this dish. Anyone out there have any thoughts on that?

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Gluten Free Paska! (Citrussy Ukrainian Easter Bread)

Recently, I was asked to make 3 huge batches of my Paska for a screen test for a local TV show. I was so confused at what I was thinking – it was such a great opportunity, and I love to turn people on to Paska – it’s *glorious* stuff – but I had already planned to not have to make Paska this year. It’s too great a temptation for me – last year, I went off gluten free when I made it and lived to sort of regret it. (The pain was awful, but the bread was kinda worth it – it’s THAT good!).

I really didn’t want to go flying off the gluten free wagon, especially with my health doing so well lately. I’m strong, but some temptations are too great, even for me. I know myself well, so I decided to create a gluten free version.

Sure, I’d never made a gluten free bread before this point (and this was before my recent Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza epiphany.)… but you know, I love a challenge.

Oh lord. This was amazing. It didn’t have quite the same texture as the real deal, but the flavor was there. I slathered butter on a slice fresh out of the oven, and it was heavenly. So good, in fact, that I immediately messaged local friend Alissa, of “The Accidental Celiac, to inform her that I am a GENIUS (and so humble!), and that if she was around, I had to bring her something. There may have been some capitalized expletives and exclamation point abuse involved also.

I wrapped some still-hot goodness up, stepped away from preparing supper, and went the few short blocks to deliver it. Yep, fresh out of the oven Paska is THAT urgent… especially because having access to safe, GOOD bread when gluten free can make you sort of… feral.

Says Alissa:

“GF Paska, I dub thee “Magic Bread.” My daughter already has had 2 servings..and a part of the braid on top. It was so yummy…and the scent was heavenly. Nice and lemony…mmmmm THANKS for the surprise delivery!!!”

Anyway, the screen test ended up cancelled, but at least I got THIS out of it all. This morning I was reminded that I had not posted this recipe, though all of this went down just over a week ago!

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How to Make Fresh Mozzarella, Quick & Easy!

I feel a little bad for always talking about the tornado, but… man, it’s really taken over our lives. In 2 days, it’ll be 9 months, and the repairs are still pretty far from over.

This, however, has been a great weekend! As my husband churned out new shelves for the cabinetry, I was able to start unpacking the kitchen stuff. Everything just sort of got thrown into the boxes after we surveyed the damage, so we could demolish the kitchen. 9 months of plastic cutlery and paper plates later… progress is wonderful. I swear I heard the hallelujah chorus when I unearthed the cutlery set at the bottom of one of the boxes!

As is usually the case when I’m in a great mood, we had some fun in the kitchen yesterday. Homemade, fresh cheese for breakfast. Yes!

A couple weeks after the tornado, we attended a cheese workshop at a local brewing supply store, which is where we learned this basic technique. It was a weird thing to spend our time on, at the time.. But we needed to just get away from it all. We socked the knowledge away til now, and yes – it was worth the wait!

This method takes less than an hour to do, start to finish. (About 30 minutes of “active” time), and doesn’t take much in the way of ingredients. You will need rennet and citric acid, which are available at specialty cooking stores, or home brewing / cheese making supply shops – and only cost a couple of dollars each.

Buy a fair amount of the citric acid – not only will you find this recipe becoming an easy “go-to”, I’ll be posting more recipes using citric acid. (For instance, Homemade Wine Slush Mix!)

I’ll be honest – I’d barely had my finished, still warm braid of cheese on the plate, before we ravenously tore into it. It was like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park or something – and I’m pretty sure at least one of us made raptor -like noises at each other while tearing away at our cheese with our bare hands.

Oh, and yes – the cheese was squeeky. SO good! You should definitely give this a try sometime!

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Limoncello Madeleines

Madeleines are a traditional tea cake – almost a cookie – from northeastern France. While there are several different variants of flavor for the cakes, one thing is pretty much constant – the shape. Madeleines are baked using a special pan with shallow, shell shaped indentations. Very pretty! Madeleine pans can be purchased at many department and home goods stores, or online.

Traditional Madeleines are great as is… but the addition of a citrusy liqueur kicks it up a notch. If Limoncello isn’t your thing, try this with Grand Marnier, even Triple Sec for a new take on a classic! Alternatively, try omitting the zest and liqueur, and using 1-2 tsp of homemade flavor extract. Such a simple, elegant treat… but the possibilities are endless!

The recipe is one of over 165 delicious dessert recipes featured in our first cookbook, “The Spirited Baker“.
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Pavlova Recipe

Pavlova with strawberries, kiwi fruit, and mango

Pavlovas are my absolute favorite dessert of all time! They’re basically a type of large meringue – one which is crispy on the outside, and like a marshmallow on the inside! – heaped with whipped cream, then topped with fruit. Does it get any better? No. No, it doesn’t!

Nice light texture, and a wonderful way to enjoy fresh fruit. Perfect summer dessert for entertaining, and this is a really easy recipe for anyone.

A quick head’s up though – if your meringue is not cracked by the time you remove it from the oven, it will likely crack at some other point, and will almost certainly crack when you start garnishing. Don’t worry! Totally normal, no one will notice or care!

Pavlova

4 large egg whites
1 cup super fine / castor sugar *
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract **
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp Cornstarch

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 – 1 tsp Vanilla extract**
1-2 tbsp sugar, optional

Fresh Fruits & Berries **

Pavlova with strawberries, kiwi fruit, and mango

Get ready: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove eggs from fridge and allow to warm to room temp (about 5 minutes). Line a baking (cookie) sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Fit your electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

In your mixer bowl, beat egg whites together with salt until glossy peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Turn off mixer, remove bowl.

Sprinkle vanilla**, vinegar, and cornstarch over meringue, gently fold in till combined.

Heap meringue onto the center of your baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the meringue out to approximately an 8-9″ circle. I like to have my meringue a fairly even depth throughout – some like a mound, some like it to be a little concave. If you want to get really fancy, put the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe it out as a mass of swirls that form your 8″ circle! It’s really up to you!

Put the baking sheet into your oven, and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once your timer goes off, turn the oven off and let the meringue cool in the oven for several hours. The baking of the meringue can be done the day before, if needed!

Just before serving, whip the heavy cream. I like my pavlovas a little sweeter, so I add about 2 Tbsp of sugar – add as much or as little as you want. Purists may not want to sweeten the cream at all! I also like to add a little flavoring, again – optional

Mound the whipped cream on your pavlova, and top with fresh fruits. Serve immediately!

Serves 4-6. (Or 2 Pavlova fanatics!)

* Super fine / castor sugar is granulated sugar with a much finer grain size than regular granulated sugar. It is NOT powdered / icing sugar! Super fine sugar is usually sold near the sugar in the baking aisle, in small boxes – sometimes resembling milk cartons. If you aren’t able to find actual super fine sugar, you can process regular granulated sugar in your food processor until fine. Measure AFTER you process!

** The possibilities for flavoring your pavlova are endless! Here are some of my favorites:

– Rum flavoring in the meringue and whipped cream. Top with sliced bananas, mango, and toasted coconut.

– Almond flavoring in meringue and whipped cream. Top with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, garnishing with fresh mint leaves if available.

– Substitute half of the sugar with light brown sugar. Use rum flavoring in the meringue & whipped cream. Top with cooled bananas foster and pecans!

– 1/4 cup cocoa in the meringue, 2-3 tablespoons cocoa in the whipped cream, top with raspberries (Sometimes marinated in Chambord!), drizzle with chocolate sauce. Great for Valentine’s Day!

One caveat, however: You cannot use oil-based flavoring in your pavlova meringue. Its presence will cause the meringue structure to break down.

Pavlova with strawberries, kiwi fruit, and mango