Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cleaning Out The Freezer

I found some frozen tomatoes in my freezer the other day. I know, it seems weird to use frozen tomatoes at the peak of tomato season but I had thrown them into the freezer a few weeks back when I had to go away for a bit. So, in the midst of a diet, I thought I would also try cleaning out my freezer and so the frozen tomatoes were put to work.

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There's really not much you can do with frozen tomatoes except to make sauce or soup with them, since they turn to complete mush once thawed. With the cooler weather these past few days (a little sigh of relief anyone?), it made me crave something hot that I can sip on while snuggled on the couch.

Originally, I was going to make a tomato soup from a Cordon Bleu recipe that I really like, but then came across this recipe for a Spicy Tomato Soup over at christina EATS. I love how easily this soup comes together. Because I used frozen tomatoes, I didn't even need to chop them up. I just smushed them with my hands and threw it into the pot. I used chicken stock in place of the water to give the soup a bit more flavour, and used fresh corn since it's corn season and I had a lot sitting in my fridge. I'd also love to add a can of black beans or red kidney beans next time to make it into a heartier meal. If you're not a big fan of chunky soups, you can also throw it into your blender and puree until smooth.

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This is a wonderfully aromatic, spicy soup (the sweetness of the corn, the slight tartness of the tomatoes, the heat of the cayenne and can you resist such flavour combinations!) that warms the soul on a balmy summer evening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

But Who Gets To Lick the Bowl?

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This past weekend was my friend’s birthday, and as she is a self-professed cupcake lover, I thought the best birthday gift was to bake her a few cupcakes. Looking for something fast and simple to make, I turned to the beautiful Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book that I had bought a while back ago but had yet to try a recipe from. Flipping through the book, it seemed like the One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes would be one of the easiest to make (not to mention that cleaning would be a breeze. And you can’t go wrong with chocolate, right?).

And easy it was. I halved the recipe since I didn't want extra cupcakes leftover to tempt my sweet tooth. They were in the oven in less than 20 minutes and yielded incredibly rich tasting cupcakes with a light and fluffy crumb. I frosted the cupcakes with my favourite fudge frosting, and they were ready to be passed on to the birthday girl! Seems like everyone else had the same idea as me; the birthday girl ended up with 20+ cupcakes to devour!

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Hope she survived the sugar high! But then again, it’ll be good preparation for the upcoming Cupcake Camp in Kitchener-Waterloo. My friend’s one of the organizers, so if you find yourself free on September 19th, in the area and craving some serious sugar (and fabulous cupcakes!), be sure to check it out, and all for a good cause!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beat the Heat

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The heat has ultimately chased me out of the kitchen these last few weeks. With an air-condition-free apartment that can reach temperatures of the high 20s on the hottest days (I'm melting!!), I wasn't digging the thought of heating my place even more. Furthermore, the hot weather made me want something cool and refreshing to eat, and that only lead to thoughts of cold noodles.

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As I've said before, I really enjoy tofu, and with my being on a Korean cuisine kick lately, I discovered kongguksu, a cold noodle dish that's served in a soy milk broth. It's cold, it's refreshing, and it has all the soybean goodness and flavour I like so much in tofu. While I could have easily made the broth from scratch, my crappy, dull blender just wouldn't result in a smooth soy milk broth, and nothing could be less appealing than chunky soy milk (ewww...). I cheated and bought some soy bean soup concentrate at Galleria. You simply add equal parts water, cook the noodles and serve with your preferred toppings, like julienned cucumber, sliced tomatoes, or hard boiled eggs. I even added some shredded chicken breast that I had steamed in advance.

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Which is a bit ironic, considering that after having kongguksu, I had cravings for something hot and spicy, and you can't get any more Korean than kimchi. With some leftover kimchi in the fridge, I quickly whipped together a kimchi jeon, a savoury pancake (it did look pretty at first. And then all hell broke loose as I tried to flip it). Hey, if you can't beat the heat, you might as well join it, right?

Kimchi Jeon
Makes one 12-inch pancake

1 cup well-fermented kimchi, squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup water (or if you want, do half water, half kimchi juice)
1 egg
Pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the flour, salt and water and mix until just combined. Add the kimchi and mix to combine.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly across the surface of the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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