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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Two days ago, I wrote out some instructions for roasting red peppers.  Now that you know how to roast red peppers, you have been looking for an excuse to try it, right?  Look no further!

I love hummus.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I love dips!  Hummus is an incredibly full-of-flavour, healthy and garlicky dip.  My love affair with hummus started about a year ago.  Since then, I’ve made a few different types, and traditional hummus. 

Roasted red peppers add a delicious twist to hummus, plus they give it some extra nutrition.  To the hummus I made today, I threw in some feta cheese and some chipotle chili powder.  This gave it a bit of a kick, but it’s totally optional!  You can add it whatever you want. 

I love hummus with pita chips.  (I posted the recipe for them a few months ago.)  You can also serve it with cut up veggies. 

Hummus traditionally uses tahini, which is a sesame seed paste.  For the longest time, I couldn’t find tahini when I looked for it.  Peanut butter is a good substitute.  I prefer tahini, and I think it’s worth seeking out (you can find it by the nut butters in the grocery store).  If you use peanut butter, you can drizzle in some sesame oil to give it that sesame flavour.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Recipe adapted from Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal

1- 540 mL (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 gloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
juice of 1 lemon
2 roasted red peppers, seeds removed
salt and pepper to taste

Put garlic in the food processor and process to finely chop.  Add everything else and whiz, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until everything is pureed together.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and a little water if it’s too thick.  Serve with pita chips or cut up veggies.

Have a great day!
The Hungry Teacher

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Strawberry Jam!

Hello!!  I’m back!  Hopefully I’m back for longer than just one or two blog posts before going on another extended vacation from my blog!  My life has been too busy.  Too busy to blog.  Sometimes, even too busy to cook.  But it’s summer and you don’t want to hear my sob stories.

I learned how to make jam on Monday.  I took a class with 4 other girls.  It was great fun!  My Auntie Becki (who is a great cook, by the way!) taught the class on making jams and jellies.  By the way, if you live near Bellingham or the Vancouver, BC area, Becki is available to teach private classes on any kitchen skill.  They’re about 2 hours long, and cost $15 per person per hour.  She’ll do the class at your place, or hers.  The classes are hands on, and we got to sample our jam on scones (yum!), and take home a jar of strawberry jam, grape jelly and freezer jam.  Leave me a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll pass on Becki’s contact information.

Jam is not nearly as difficult to make as you may think it is.  I made freezer jam last year, but I though cooked jam would be pretty difficult and very time-consuming.  It’s not!  I made two batches of strawberry jam, which yielded 16- 250mL (8 oz)  jars of jam.  It took me about two hours, and considering that it’s my first time making the jam by myself, I think that’s pretty awesome!

Strawberries are just finishing up their season here, and man, are they good!  They are sweet and tasty!  I went to the produce store to pick them up, and the farmers were unloading their pickup truck!  Fresh from the farm, how awesome is that!

To make jam, you need a few things:

  • large pot (8-10 qt)– this is important, don’t go smaller, because your jam will boil over!
  • measuring cups
  • wooden spoon
  • bowl to measure sugar into
  • potato masher
  • jars and rings
  • sealing lids
  • pan of some sort

Plus, you’ll need your ingredients for making the jam:

  • fruit
  • sugar
  • pectin
  • possibly lemon juice.

Pectin is the substance that makes jams and jellies gel.  It is naturally present in fruit, but the amounts vary.  You buy it in small boxes at the grocery store (mine sells it with the baking supplies).  When you make jam, you need to follow the recipe and instructions that come with your pectin.  Each brand varies, and it’s important to follow the instructions that come with your brand!  Now, you can only make one batch at a time.  And, you need a lot of sugar to make jam, but you can’t cut it back, otherwise your jam won’t gel properly.

You need to make sure everything is ready before you start.  Wash your jars in the dishwasher so they’re clean.  Prepare and mash your berries with a potato masher.  Don’t use a food processor (the instructions said).  Plus, mashing your berries is really fun! 

It's not a very clear picture, but this is what the crushed berries look like!

I’ll walk you through the basic process.

  1. Boil some water in a tea kettle.
  2. Put your crushed berries in your pot and combine with pectin (and lemon juice, if directed in recipe!).  Stir well, and bring to a boil.
  3. Measure your sugar out into a bowl.
  4. Once boiling, add all of your sugar at once.  Stir well.
  5. Let come to a full, rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute (or however long your recipe says).
  6. My recipe said to take the pot off the heat at this point, and stir and skim the foam off.  You’ll probably have foam on top of your jam.  Skim it off with a spoon into a bowl.  You can eat it if you want to.  It tastes delicious!  I had to stir mine for about 5 minutes at this point.
  7. Put your jam jars into a pan, and pour boiling water over the rim of each one.  This sterilizes them.  Put the sealing lids in boiling water as well.
  8. Dump out any water in your jam jar, fill it with jam (use a ladle).  Leave about 1″ of head space at the top of the jar.  With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jar well.  Take a lid out of the boiling water, place it over top, and screw the ring on.  At this point, put your jars aside!  If you did everything right, you’ll probably hear a few pops, which means your jars are sealed.
  9. Continue the process until all of your jam is in jars!  Clean up!
  10. If your jars don’t seal (the tops will look pressed inwards), put that jar in the fridge and eat it first!  The rest of the jars will happily sit on your pantry shelf until you use them.

That’s the whole process!  Next time I make jam, I’ll try to be more diligent and take pictures of the process for you. 

It’s really actually quite easy and super rewarding to have 16 little jars staring you in the face, waiting to be eaten!

Go and try it!
The Hungry Teacher

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Roasted Potato Bacon Salad

Well, BBQ time is supposedly upon us.  We’ve had a couple of nice days in June, but it’s been pretty rainy so far.  Nevertheless, we have been out in the rain, BBQing away!

Potato salad is a classic summer food.  Although it’s delicious, your typical potato salad can get a bit boring.  This recipe is fresh and tastes lighter than the original.  The texture is unique and overall the salad has a delicious flavour!

Now, this salad has chopped up pickles, which my husband hates (I know, how can anyone hate pickles?).  He picked some of them out of the salad, but he did eat a few of them.  You could use a spoonful of dill pickle relish instead of the chopped up potatoes, which would probably be harder to detect.  I had no red wine vinegar, which the recipe called for, so I used white wine vinegar instead. 

Oh, and by the way, my herb garden is planted, and I was able to use my own fresh parsley for this!!!  What a treat!!

Roasted Potato Bacon Salad
Recipe from The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smit

4-5 slices of bacon
20 or so baby potatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
a few pickles, finely diced
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
a splash of red wine vinegar

Slice the bacon into thin pieces.  Brown in a saute pan until crispy.  Reserve the fat. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the baby potatoes in half.  Toss them with the reserved bacon fat and some salt and pepper.  Roast them until they are golden brown, about 40 minutes, and then cool to room temperature.  Toss the potatoes with the bacon pieces, parsley, pickles, mustard, mayo and vinegar.  Serve right away, or refrigerate till later.  This is a great dish to make the night before you’re having people over!

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Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula

The weather is supposedly turning warmer, the sun is supposed to be coming out…. but… it’s not!  Apparently we’re now paying for our beautiful Winter Olympic weather in January and February with a rainy, chilly June. 

But, the days are definitely longer and I am feeling ready for summery, light food! 

I was perusing my cookbooks, looking for a quick, light pasta dish, and I stumbled upon this recipe in Jamie’s Italy.  It’s quick, simple and it tastes delicious!  I had some for lunch the next day, and it was pretty good (of course, a light pasta dish with shrimp is truly best right after it’s made).

Arugula is a delicious, slightly bitter green.  It’s native to the eastern Mediterranean region (I looked it up on Wikipedia!).  I first had arugula in Florence, Italy this summer.  It was on this beautiful light tortellini dish covered with good quality olive oil, cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese.  It was one of the best dishes I have ever had, and since then, the sight of arugula transports me right back!

My amazing Florentine dinner!

In Italy, people eat dinner late.  Most restaurants don’t even open until 8:00pm, when it’s cooler outside.  These restaurants are typically tiny, and so they set out tables and chairs right on the sidewalk or on the street!  Talk about sidewalk dining!  It’s a fantastic experience!  One day, I hope to recreate the amazing meal I had in Florence, but, tonight is not the night!

In my grocery store, they sell baby arugula prepackaged in a plastic container.  I have only seen it this way in my town, never in bulk.  In the original recipe, it says to roughly chop the arugula.  I didn’t, because mine was already quite small.

If you have leftover arugula after making this dish, it’s fantastic in a salad with a slightly sweet poppy seed dressing, fresh sliced strawberries, sweet-spiced pecans and some goat cheese.  I think I feel another blog post coming with that recipe!  Yum!

By the way, I find that most recipes have very large portion sizes.  The original recipe calls for 1 lb of dried spaghetti for 4 servings of pasta.  This makes way too much for my husband and I.  I used 1/2 lb. of dried spaghetti and I had leftovers for lunch the next day.  I did serve the pasta with garlic bread on the side.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula
spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Italy
Serves 2 – 3

1/2 lb dried spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4- 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red chili flakes
1/2 lb. peeled raw large shrimp
1/2 small wineglass of white wine
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato puree (I whizzed a few spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes in my mini food processor)
1 handful of baby arugula

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.  In a large pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp of  olive oil.  Add the garlic and chili.  As the garlic begins to color, add in the shrimp and saute them for a minute.  Add the white wine and the sun-dried tomato puree and simmer for a couple of minutes.  When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.  Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and add some of the arugula to it.  Taste, add some of the reserved water if necessary to loosen the sauce and correct the seasonings, if needed.  Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the remaining arugula.

Arrivederci!
The Hungry Teacher

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Foraging and Risotto

Fresh morels, ready to be used!

My family has a tradition of foraging for morel mushrooms in the spring.  When I was a kid, my parents would force me to go out into the forest in the spring and hunt for these mushrooms.  We had to dodge devil’s club and stinging nettle and stay out for what seemed like hours!  Plus, I never wanted to actually eat the morels, because they looked like something kids don’t want to eat.  But… needless to say, it was a memory.

Now, as an adult, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing.  The morels are only up for 2-3 weeks, and I missed going out with my family.  So, last night, after our early family Easter dinner, my dad took my husband and I out. 

It was my husband’s first time going morel hunting, and it was pretty exciting!  The morels hide under fallen leaves and are camouflaged incredibly well.  My family has secret morel picking spots, and you have to know what kind of areas are good to forage in.  My dad told me that I am the fourth generation of our family that has picked morels in the forests around my childhood home.  That’s pretty exciting!

This was the first time that I have actually picked morels with the purpose of cooking something with them.  It’s incredibly gratifying to go walk around in the forest, picking mushrooms, and then use them to create an amazing meal!

I decided to make an Asparagus and Morel Risotto.  I looked online for some ideas, and I ended up adapting one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes to make my risotto.  This is the same base recipe that I used for the Daring Cook’s Challenge last month.  If you would like to try the risotto, but don’t have access to fresh morels, you can substitute other varieties of wild mushrooms as well.

Now, I read up on morels last night, as I don’t really know a lot about them.  Basically, they are a wild mushroom that grows throughout North America, concentrated in southern Canada and the northern US.  They also grow in Europe.  They are ready to be picked in the West (where we are) first, and continue to ripen throughout central and eastern North America during the spring and summer.  They are difficult to cultivate in farms, and so as a result are very expensive to buy.  Now, this may go without saying, but please don’t go out into the forest and forage for mushrooms, unless you are with an expert.  There are many mushrooms that are poisonous, and it’s just not worth the risk!

To clean the morels, I rinsed them in a bowl of cool water, and then I ran them under water to make sure all of the debris and bugs were off of them.  My family always soaks them in salt water, and maybe that would have been a good idea, but I decided not to.   My grandma always sautéed the morels in butter with salt and pepper, and I have some left over that I am planning to saute for dinner tomorrow.

Asparagus and Morel Risotto
Serves 6-8
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Italy

6 cups chicken stock (you can substitute veggie stock if you prefer)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a dollop of butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 bunch of thin asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
2 cups morels, cleaned, halved or quartered if large
2 cups risotto (Arborio) rice
2 wineglasses of dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp. butter
approximately 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the stock.  Put the first amounts olive oil and butter in a separate pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and morels.  Stir and cook for a minute.  Add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring!  After a minute, it will look slightly translucent.  Add the wine and keep stirring. 

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add a ladle full of hot stock and some salt.  Turn the rice down to a simmer, so it doesn’t cook too quickly.  Once the stock is absorbed, add another ladle full.  Keep stirring the rice, and waiting until all of the stock is absorbed before adding the next ladle.  After about 15 minutes, check the rice to see if it’s cooked.  If not, keep on adding stock until the rice is cooked.  If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, you can add boiling water in place of the stock.

When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add the 5 Tbsp. butter, Parmesan and parsley.  Stir well.  Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Season carefully to taste.   Serve with grated Parmesan to garnish.

 Have fun celebrating Spring!
The Hungry Teacher

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Cinnamon Buns

Oh my blog… how I’ve missed you!  I have been incredibly busy over the past two weeks… our moving day is now only 3 weeks away, so we’ve been busy with all of the decisions that need to be made, plus packing, meetings and softball started!   But, I’ll try to blog when I can!

Cinnamon buns are something I have always loved (who doesn’t, really?).  I like mine without frosting.  I’m not quite sure why… but I feel like it adds too much sweetness to something that is already perfect!  I have been making them for a long time… but they always lack something!  I think it’s that ooey, gooeyness that comes with amazing cinnamon buns.

So, I went to a family friend, who is an awesome cinnamon bun maker, for help.  This lady is amazing!  One time, we went on a road trip and this family came with us.  We picked them up at 7:30 or something pretty early, and she had gotten up to make fresh cinnamon buns for the trip!  Wow!  That’s dedication!  She gave me a tutorial on making cinnamon buns and then sent me home with the recipe.

Her recipe for cinnamon buns is sooooo good!  We had them for lunch… and most of them are now gone, as it is now almost 4:00 in the afternoon and my husband and I have both been home all day!

The sweet dough recipe makes enough for two batches of cinnamon buns.  I froze half of my dough for another time.  When it’s time to use it, I’ll let it thaw overnight in the fridge and then probably bake cinnamon buns with it!

Cinnamon Buns
Recipe from Carol

Basic Sweet Dough

1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
4-1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour

Scald the milk.  Pour it into a large bowl.  Add the first amount of sugar, salt and shortening and stir until the shortening melts.  Cool to lukewarm.  Meanwhile, dissolve the second amount of sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir with a for.  Add to the milk mixture along with the egg.  Stir.  Beat in 2 cups of flour.   Then, gradually beat in the remaining 2-1/2 – 3 cups of flour until the dough is well-formed and coming away from the edges of the bowl.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.  Shape into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease surface.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour and 15 minutes). 

Cinnamon Buns

1/2 of the basic sweet dough recipe
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Roll the punched dough into a 9″x12″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  Brush with first amount of melted butter.  Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the dough.  Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, starting at the longer side.  Cut into 12 one inch slices. 

Combine the second amount of butter and the brown sugar.  Spread in the bottom of an 8″ square pan.  Place the slices, cut side down, in the prepared pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled (about 45 min).  Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 20 -25 minutes.  Invert at once on a serving plate.

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Caramelized Onion Dip with Microwave Potato Chips

I’m sorry.  I have to apologize for putting these two recipes on my blog.  They are so good, you won’t be able to stop making them.  These two recipes may change your life like they did mine.  Every time I get a snack food craving, these are the two recipes I reach for.  Seriously.  They are amazing and incredible. 

The Caramelized Onion Dip is better than the containers you buy from the grocery store.  The potato chips are so good that you cannot believe it until you try them.  They are thick and crunchy and actually taste like potatoes!  Imagine that!

By the way, if you need a new blog to check out, check out Life’s Ambrosia.  There are tons of great recipes over there with beautiful photos. 

Now, a few tips.  When you are caramelizing the onions for the dip, use a low temperature.  Don’t burn the onions!  You want them to brown really slowly and get soft.  If they are cooking too quickly (you’ll know it when you see it), turn down the heat and keep stirring!

I know you don’t believe me about the microwave potato chips.  But they seriously work and get crispy!  I use a mandolin (food slicer) to get my potatoes pretty thin.  I like the chips that way. You can slice them thinner or thicker, as long as they’re uniform.  The times it takes for the chips to cook seem to vary… so, I’ll give you my approximate times, but because all microwaves (and all potatoes!) are different, keep your eyes on the chips and use your judgment.

Caramelized Onion Dip
Recipe barely adapted from Life’s Ambrosia
Makes just over 1 cup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and garlic.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and soft.  Set the onions aside, and let cool.

Combine the rest of the  ingredients, including the cooled onions.  Refrigerate the dip for at least 30 minutes.  Longer is better because the flavours really meld together and improve. 

Serve this dip with chips or cut up veggies.

Microwave Potato Chips
Recipe from Food Gal
Basically, this recipe makes as much as you’d like.  Use one potato for an individual snack… or more for more people!

Russet potatoes, scrubbed well
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Cooking spray

Slice your potatoes thinly, using a mandolin, or a knife.  You want them at least 1/8″ thick or thinner.  Toss the slices in a medium sized bowl with some olive oil.

Take a large microwave-safe plate, and coat with cooking spray.  Arrange the oiled potato slices on the plate in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt.  Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2-3 minutes (mine always take at least 3 minutes) or until some spots start to brown (or until the slices begin to look dry).  Turn the slices over (CAREFUL, the plate and potatoes are HOT!).  Continue to microwave for 2-4 minutes until the slices are crisp and brown in spots.  I actually let mine get quite brown.  They don’t taste burnt, but I also like my food well-browned and crispy!    Keep checking frequently, and rearrange the slices if necessary and take them out once they’re done.  Transfer the chips to another plate when done.  Let them cool, because they crisp up more and taste better.

The chips can be stored in an airtight container.

Get snacking!
The Hungry Teacher

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