Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crostini con Fegato e Salvia

Hands up all of you who know that tomorrow is the last day of the month.  Okay, smarty-pants, you can put your hands down now.  And you in the back?  No one said to stand so stop showing off.  After 50 years of operating under the Gregorian calendar on a daily basis you’d think I’d have this February thing down pat.  Not so.  Today I was happily making my recipe for +belleau kitchen's Random Recipe Challenge, for which the deadline is normally a couple of days before the end of the month.  And I was thinking that I was cutting it close but would nip in under the wire.  I finished cooking, and eating, and sat down to write this, first just heading over to Dom’s to make sure I had the link correct and saw to my horror that the February recipe round up boat had sailed.

Which makes me sad.  So, let me share something with you that made me happy, albeit briefly, today.  It was the Chicken Liver Crostini from Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer’s Tuscan Cookbook.  I know chicken liver is not for everyone but I think more people would give it a chance, especially cooked like this, if we called it something different.  After all, look how many people eat pâté without a thought of liver!  Chopped Foie Crostini?  Or, since this is supposed to be Italian, how about Crostini con Fegato e Salvia.  Doesn’t that sound better?  Just give me a minute – Gotta change my title.  Okay, I'm back.  On to the recipe!

3 tablespoon butter
live oil
10 1/2 oz or 300g chicken livers, cleaned
8 sage leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tiny capers
2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaved parsley
8 slices baguette
1 clove garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and lay your baguette slices out on a baking tray.

Cut your livers into 4-5 pieces each.

Mince your sage leaves and chop your parsley.

Go ahead and measure out the capers and set them aside since it can be tricky to get them out of a small-necked bottle without their liquid.  And you don’t want their liquid, just the capers.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add in a little drizzle of olive oil.  Toss in the sage quickly followed by the livers and fry for just a few minutes.

Add in the capers, vinegar and parsley and increase the heat to reduce the liquid.  You want to do this quickly so you can keep a little pink inside the livers.  I figured they were done and enough liquid was gone when the butter started popping at me.

Transfer the livers, herbs and capers to a large cutting board, leaving behind the butter, and chop the lot into small bits with a sharp knife.

Return it all to the frying pan and stir it into the little butter that was left.   Taste a small piece and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Brush one side of the bread slices with olive oil (I forgot this step and, frankly, didn’t miss it.) and toast in the oven until golden.

Rub a clove of garlic on the toasted bread or crostini.

Pile on the liver mixture and serve immediately.  If you have spare sage leaves, they make a pretty garnish.


Tuscan Cookbook
 was randomly picked number 27 in my Eat Your Books list and, as per Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge #25 rules, I made the recipe I opened to randomly.  But it was delicious and I would definitely make it again.  I had planned to tell you all about this beautiful book, written by two icons of Australian cooking.  About how it was written with the menus of their teaching holidays when Ms. Alexander and Ms. Beer would rent a villa in Tuscany and explore markets and cook with their students.  There was much laughter and good wine and delicious food and this is a cookbook I love to read as much for their camaraderie and adventures as the recipes.  But I just don’t have the heart anymore.

Random Recipes #25 - Feb

But make sure to head on over to Dom’s blog and see all the lovely recipes from the smart people who know what day it is.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Banana Honey Bran Muffins #MuffinMonday

These lovely banana honey bran muffins, made with mashed bananas and sweetened banana chips, are further sweetened with honey and dark brown sugar.

Food Lust People Love: These lovely banana honey bran muffins, made with mashed bananas and sweetened banana chips, are further sweetened with honey and dark brown sugar.

In honor of the Academy Awards last night, I’d like to nominate this muffin for Best Muffin in a Supporting Role.  It’s got your fiber in the form of bran flake cereal as well as honey and egg and banana for your essential nutrients and protein.  (Did you know that honey can stop the growth of cancer?!  Read it in my local paper just this morning!)  And for a little crunch and extra banana flavor:  sweetened banana chips.  Truth be told, these are probably the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made.  (Yeah, yeah.  I know that isn’t saying much, coming from the woman who puts candy bars and cookies in muffins.)  But they are also tasty.

1 1/2 oz or 1 cup or 43g bran flake cereal
1/4 cup or 60ml cream
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1/4 cup firmly packed or 50g dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup  or 60ml canola oil
1 large ripe banana
4 tablespoons honey
1 egg
1 cup or 100g sweetened banana chips

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by inserting paper liners or spraying with a non-stick spray.

Soak your bran flakes in the cream and milk and set aside.  (If you are serious about the health thing, by all means use all milk, even low fat.)

Into a large mixing bowl, measure your flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.   Give it a good stir.

In a small mixing bowl, mash your banana with a fork and then add in the oil, honey and the egg.  Whisk well.

Use a sharp knife to chop the banana chips into smaller pieces and set aside about one quarter (eyeball it, no need to measure) for topping.

Add your soaked bran flakes (and any milk/cream from that bowl) into the egg mixture and stir well.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stopping before they are completely mixed.  There will still be some flour visible.

Add in the bigger pile of chopped banana chips and fold some more.

Divide your batter between the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle the tops with the remaining banana chips.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Meanwhile practice your Best Supporting Muffin acceptance/thank you speech.  Don’t forget to thank your parents for raising you right.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes in the pan.  Remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Food Lust People Love: These lovely banana honey bran muffins, made with mashed bananas and sweetened banana chips, are further sweetened with honey and dark brown sugar.


Food Lust People Love: These lovely banana honey bran muffins, made with mashed bananas and sweetened banana chips, are further sweetened with honey and dark brown sugar.

Food Lust People Love: These lovely banana honey bran muffins, made with mashed bananas and sweetened banana chips, are further sweetened with honey and dark brown sugar.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wild Mushroom Soup #SundaySupper

This wild mushroom soup, topped with beautiful pan-fried brown beech mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil is based on Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe. It's rich and comforting, a great bowl for a cold night or a light lunch.

Food Lust People Love: This wild mushroom soup, topped with beautiful pan-fried brown beech mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil is based on Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe. It's rich and comforting, a great bowl for a cold night or a light lunch.

We have a Christmas tradition of giving our girls some spending money and setting them free in a mall to buy the gifts of their choosing for each other and for us.  I’m trying to remember how old they were the first time we felt safe letting them go off together but I daresay they were around 10 and 12.  Of course, I was in the mall doing my own shopping and elder daughter had a cell phone by that time.

Our mall of choice was KLCC or Kuala Lumpur City Centre because 1. It was the best mall in KL at the time and 2. We knew it well. I found out after the first couple of years that my girls had an additional tradition of their own. They would amble around just looking until there was only a half hour left until our designating meeting time. Then they would run around the mall in a frantic attempt to buy all the things they had chosen. I am told that that was the best part, like a treasure hunt and a logistics test with a time constraint. I think they would be great contestants on the Amazing Race.  I don’t recall them ever being late, although they often arrived out of breath. And the system clearly works because their carefully chosen gifts are always thoughtful and perfect for the intended recipient.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Supper recipe, adapted from one of those precious Christmas gifts, Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  Everyone is making soup this week so make sure to scroll down to the bottom and see what the rest of the #SundaySupper group are cooking up.

My girls knew I enjoyed watching the snarky and amusing Mr. Bourdain on television and they guessed that I would love his cookbook.  They were exactly right.  Okay, we’re all friends here so I am going to embarrass myself for your amusement and show you my “delighted” photo just after I opened the present on Christmas Day 2006.  In my nightgown.  Feel free to make your own snarky remarks for my amusement and we’ll be even.

One of my favorite recipes from Les Halles is the mushroom soup.  Mr. Bourdain suggests in the after note that to boost flavor and impress friends, wild mushrooms can be added to the mix, so I usually add whatever mushrooms I have on hand and love to add the wild ones on occasion.   This soup is divine even with just button mushrooms (his original ingredient) though so use what you can find in your local grocery store.  But make this soup.

Ingredients for 5-6 warming bowls of mushroomy deliciousness
18 oz or 510g assorted mushrooms (I used Swiss brown, button and shiitake.)
1/2 oz or 14g dried wild mushrooms
1 medium onion
1/2 cup or 110g butter
Olive oil
6 cups or almost 1 1/2 lts chicken or vegetable stock
(I used both vegetable and mushroom stock cubes to make my stock for a delicious vegetarian version of which Mr. Bourdain would undoubtedly not approve.  Tough titties to him. God rest his soul.)
2 stalks fresh parsley
1/4 cup or 60ml dry sherry
Sea salt
Black pepper

For garnish
Handful brown beech or other small pretty mushrooms
2 teaspoons butter
Drizzle truffle oil

Put your dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Set aside to rehydrate.  Sticking your nose in the bowl occasionally to inhale the earthy aroma is completely optional but highly recommended.

Meanwhile make sure your other mushrooms are clean and finely slice your onion.  I know folks say that you are not supposed to wash mushrooms with water since they will soak it up but I wash mine in a colander with cold running water and, especially for soup, a little extra moisture doesn’t hurt.

In a pot big enough to eventually hold all your ingredients, sauté your onions in about one-third of your butter (just eyeball it) and a drizzle of olive oil, until they are soft and translucent.

Drain your dried mushrooms through a fine mesh strainer or sieve and retain the liquid.  Pick the mushroom pieces out of the sieve and discard any small bits that cling to it, as sometimes these are actually dirt or grit.

Add the fresh mushrooms and the rest of the butter to the pot.  Cook for about eight minutes and then add in the stock, rehydrated dried mushrooms and their strained soaking liquid and the two stalks of parsley.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Using a spoon, remove the parsley stalks and discard.

Transfer the mushrooms into your blender with a couple of cups of broth.  Blend until smooth, adding in more broth as needed.  Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in two batches.

Heat a small frying pan until quite hot and add in two tablespoons of butter and immediately throw in your small mushrooms for garnish.  Pan fry them quickly to get a little color and then remove from the heat.

Return the pureed soup to the pot and rewarm.  Add the sherry to your soup and stir well.  Taste for salt and pepper and add some according to your taste, if necessary.

Serve each bowl of wild mushroom soup with a few of the little decorative mushrooms scattered on top and a drizzle of truffle oil.

Food Lust People Love: This wild mushroom soup, topped with beautiful pan-fried brown beech mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil is based on Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe. It's rich and comforting, a great bowl for a cold night or a light lunch.


I am a soup lover so I have a very good feeling that this is going to be my favorite #SundaySupper week! Just look at all these lovely soups!

Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups) 

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken Sausage Chowder by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Chick-Fil-A Chicken Noodle Soup by Family Foodie
Chicken Cheese Soup by There and Back Again
Chicken Gnocchi at Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
Chicken Meatball, Spinach and Orzo Soup from Gourmet Drizzles
Chicken Soup with Leeks, Onions and Fennel by Shockingly Delicious
Chicken Tortellini & White Bean Soup at Flour On My Face
Chicken Tortellini Soup by Country Girl In The Village
Chicken Vegetable Noodle Soup at Cupcakes and Pearls
Family Style Tablescape featuring Chicken Tortilla Soup by An Appealing Plan
Ground Turkey and Vegetable Soup at The Messy Baker
Healthy Bean and Sausage Soup by Momma’s Meals
Smoked Sausage and Wild Rice Soup at Mama, Mommy, Mom
Yucatan Chicken Lime Soup (Sopa de Lima) by The Weekend Gourmet

Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup by Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Beef Pho Soup by No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Chili with Black Beans by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Frijol con Carne by MarocMama
Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup) by Neighborfood
Swabian Beef Spaetzle +1 Soup (Gaisburger Marsch) at Galactosemia in PDX
Vegetable and Beef Soup by Supper For a Steal

Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups) 

Louisiana Caldo by Catholic Foodie
Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae) by Hip Foodie Mom
Sweet potato and Spanish chorizo soup at My Cute Bride

Under The Sea (Seafood Soups) 

Bacon and Shrimp Bisque at Big Bear’s Wife
Chinese Fish Maw Soup by My Trials in The Kitchen
Hearty Okra Shrimp Gumbo Laced with Coconut Oil by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Lobster Bisque by Peanut Butter and Peppers
New England Clam Chowder at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Shrimp Miso Noodle Soup at Pescetarian Journal
Szechuan Fish Soup by The Urban Mrs.
Thai Curry Coconut Mussel Soup by Noshing With The Nolands

Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup by Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Chunky Vegetable and Barley Soup at Curious Cuisiniere
Coconut Corn Chowder at Mangoes and Chutney
Corn Soup with Crispy Tortilla Strips at Ninja Baking
Country Split Pea Soup with Bacon and Potatoes at girlichef
Cream of Ancho Chile Soup from La Cocina de Leslie
Creamy Carrot Soup at Cookistry
Creamy Cheddar Potato Soup at Daily Dish Recipes
French Onion Soup by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Ital Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup at The Lovely Pantry
Jalapeno Beer Cheese Soup by The Hand That Rocks The Ladle
Make Your Own (Gluten Free) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup at The Meltaways
Miso Soup by Crazy Foodie Stunts
Not-So-Mini-Strone at The Foodie Army Wife
Pasta e Fagoli Soup at Cravings of a Lunatic
Rather French Onion Soup by What Smells So Good?
Smoky Kale and Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Spicy Sweet Potato and Corn Soup at Magnolia Days
Vegetable Consommé with Semolina Dumplings – Grießknödel at Masala Herb
Vegetable Medley Soup with Broccoli and Leeks at Chattering Kitchen
Vermicelli Soup by Damn Delicious
Wild Mushroom Soup at Food Lust People Love

Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)

Bread and Tomato Soup – Gazpacho Style at Vintage Kitchen Notes
Chilled Strawberry Soup at Juanita’s Cocina

Pin this wild mushroom soup!

Food Lust People Love: This wild mushroom soup, topped with beautiful pan-fried brown beech mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil is based on Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe. It's rich and comforting, a great bowl for a cold night or a light lunch.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Passionfruit Cookies

Beautifully crunchy on the outside with sweet and tart chewy insides, these passionfruit cookies taste of Brazilian sunshine and samba.

Since I started this blogging thing, I have met some wonderful bloggers online and have learned a lot from those who have been at this a much longer time.  I would read about ingredients they had been offered by companies who wanted them to create a recipe and get-togethers with other bloggers at foodie events.  And, while I was happy for them, I was a little sad for me.  I didn’t know any other bloggers personally and no one had ever offered me free stuff.  Well, in Dubai, all that has changed!  I now belong to a great group of UAE bloggers and have even had the privilege of meeting a few of them face-to-face.  And then, some weeks ago, I received an email from a public relations person who wanted to send me some sugar.  Not some strange ingredient that I would have to work around, but sugar!  Of course, I said yes!  Hey, why not?  The company is called Aveem and they very kindly sent me not only white sugar, but some light brown sugar as well.  (And a few other goodies.  As I said, nice people!)

According to the initial email, the sugar is from Brazil so I decided that a recipe with one of our favorite flavors from Brazil, passionfruit or maracujá, would be most appropriate.  And delicious.

1/4 cup or 60ml fresh passionfruit pulp, as measured without seeds (Don’t panic!  I’ll show you how to do this.  Also, don’t discard the seeds.  We are going to put some back in for color.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 130g sugar
1/2 cup or 110g butter
2 eggs
1/2 - 1 cup light brown sugar for rolling dough in before baking

Cut open your passionfruit and, using a spoon, scoop the pulp and seeds into a bowl.  Whisk vigorously to loosen the seeds from the pulp and juice.

Pour the whole bowl into a strainer over another clean bowl, and whisk again until all you are left with in the strainer is the seeds.  Measure out your juice and set aside 1/4 cup or 60ml for your cookies.  If you have any extra, you can sweeten it with a little sugar and serve it over ice and topped up with soda water for a very fresh and refreshing drink.

Add 2-3 teaspoons of the seeds back into the juice for color.  They are perfectly edible but too many will distract from the soft chewy cookie.

Preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C and grease or spray your cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Mix together your flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Put your light brown sugar into another small bowl and set aside.

With electric beaters or in your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

Add in your passionfruit juice and beat again.  At this point your mixture might look like it’s curdling on you but do not despair.

Add a few tablespoons of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat again.

Still mixing, continue adding in your flour mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated.

You now have a soft dough and can proceed to the next step or, it might be easier to chill the dough for half an hour or so in the refrigerator before proceeding.  I plowed right ahead but next time, I will definitely chill the dough.

Using a small scoop or tablespoon, drop small amounts of your soft dough into the light brown sugar.

Swirl the bowl around until the ball of dough is covered in brown sugar.

Gently lift the little ball out and place it on the greased cookie sheet.  Leave room between the balls for the cookies to spread while baking.

Continue until your cookie sheet is full.  Bake in the preheated over for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator while the first batch bakes and continue the process until all the cookies are baked.

Remove the cookies with a metal spatula and cool on a wire rack.  Sometimes one slips into your mouth.  It's a risk all bakers take.

This recipe will yield almost four dozen beautifully crunchy outside, chewy inside passionfruit cookies.   Serve them in your blue and white Brazilian pottery and savor the sweet taste of sunshine and samba.