Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Harissa Butter, Feta & Pomegranate

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This is a very easy to make side dish for the holidays. The harissa butter adds a bit of heat that goes well with the sweetness of the butternut squash.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, sliced in half

1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon of harissa or more to taste

2 tablespoons of Parmesan

2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Salt

Extras:

½ cup of pomegranate seeds

100grs of crumbled feta

Micro arugula for decoration

Handful of arugula

Olive oil

White vinegar

Salt

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200C/390F.

Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Add ½ cup of water and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake until very tender. Mine took about 1 hour but the time will depend on the size of your squash.

Once the butternut squash is tender, spoon out all of the flesh into a bowl but leave some attached to the edges of one half so that it holds its shape for the second bake.

Turn up the heat to 230C/440F.

Melt the butter in a pan with the harissa. Place the butternut squash flesh, harissa butter, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and salt in the food processor and pulse until smooth.

Stuff the reserved butternut half with the butternut puree. Place it on a oven tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.

To serve, mix the arugula with a splash of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place the butternut squash in the middle of a large plate. Place the arugula salad all around the squash. Top it with the crumbled feta, pomegranate and micro arugula. Serve right away.

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Mini Matcha Rolls Filled With Dulce De Leche

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I love eating mini versions of food. It kind of cheats your brain into thinking that you can eat more. I made these mini matcha rolls on a stormy Sunday a while ago. Because of course, what do I do when it’s cold and crappy outside? Stay cozy inside, bake and binge watch TV with my hubby. I love dulce de leche and as a kid, I sometimes would spread it over bread as if it was butter. So I decided to fill these mini rolls with it. The result: yummy goodness!

This recipe makes 36 mini rolls. This is a small batch but you can double the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the rolls:

1 ¾ cup of all-purpose flour

3,5 grams of dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

¼ cup warm milk

1 tablespoon of matcha

½ teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of melted butter

¼ cup of sugar

½ of an egg

For the filling:

400gr of dulce de leche

 

Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Warm up the milk in the microwave and then add the matcha powder. Mix well.

After the 5 minutes for the yeast and water are done, add matcha milk and the rest of the ingredients for the rolls. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also just knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Once the hour has passed, lightly butter the oven dish in which you are going to bake the rolls. Warm up a bit the dulce de leche in the microwave. This will make it easier to spread it over the dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and lightly flour your working area. Roll out one piece into a rectangle. I rolled it out as thin as I could. Spread some dulce de leche on top. Then roll the dough tight lengthwise. Cut the uneven edges and set them aside (you can choose to bake them or discard them; I baked them on a separate tray). Now that you have an even rolled dough, cut it into 9 even pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared oven dish. Repeat for the remaining dough.

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Once all of the dough has been rolled and filled, cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour.

About 10 or 15 minutes before the timer is up for the second rise, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, remove the plastic wrap from the oven dish and bake for about 15 minutes.

They are best when served right away while they are still warm.

Coffee Rolls

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Last month I mentioned how I had been having a craving for cinnamon rolls, but then instead of making rolls, I made individual vanilla bean & cinnamon wreaths. I guess I’m not over my sweet bread cravings because I ended up making these coffee rolls (and mini matcha rolls filled with dulce de leche, but that recipe will come later).

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We had some friends coming over for lunch that day and I wanted to make something for dessert. These rolls have a double dose of coffee, a double shot of espresso in the dough and instant coffee in the filling. My hubby is the one in charge of making coffee every morning (I know lucky woman gets a nice cup of cappuccino made by her man every morning).  He got a new coffee machine a couple of months ago and I have been kind of lazy in terms of learning how to use it. It is not that easy to make a good cup of joe. There are a lot of variables that can make coffee taste unpleasant, if the water is too hot, if the beans are not grinded properly, if you are over extracting the coffee, etc.

So he made me the double shot of espresso for this dessert. Funny thing is I set it aside and then I forgot to add it to the dough.  So I had to throw it away and start making the dough again. Luckily my stand mixer does all the kneading work for me.

This is a great treat to serve for brunch this coming Easter. This recipe makes 6 big rolls, but you can slice them thinner to make more rolls.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

7 grs of dry yeast

½ cup of warm water

3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 double shot of espresso

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg

For the filling:

¾ cup of sugar

3 teaspoons of instant coffee

1 vanilla bean (optional)

2 tablespoons of melted butter

For the egg wash:

1 egg

1 tablespoons of water

For the glaze:

2 cups of icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

Water, as needed

 

Place the warm water and yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer and let it sit for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes have passed, add the remaining ingredients for the dough to the bowl with the yeast.

Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Once the hour has passed, lightly butter the oven dish in which you are going to bake the rolls. To make the filling, just mix the sugar, instant coffee and vanilla bean in a small bowl. Have the butter already melted and ready with a brush.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle of about 34 centimeters long. Then brush the top of the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar/coffee mixture evenly on top.  Roll it tight lengthwise. Cut the uneven edges and set them aside (you can choose to bake them or discard them; I baked them on a separate tray). Now that you have an even rolled dough, cut it into 6 even pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared oven dish, leaving some space in between and brush them with the egg wash. Place the remaining egg wash in the fridge to use later.  Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour.

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About 10 or 15 minutes before the timer is up for the second rise, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, remove the plastic wrap from the oven dish, brush the rolls again with the egg wash and bake them for about 25 minutes until golden.

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Once the rolls are baked, start making the glaze. Place the icing sugar in a small bowl with the vanilla essence. Whisk in a few drops of water at a time until the glaze becomes pourable. I decided not to make the glaze too thick this time. Once the glaze is of your desired consistency, just pour it on top of the rolls. They are best when served right away while they are still warm.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

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I’ve been a bit addicted to the new strawberry cheesecake Lindt chocolate bar for the last 2 months.  Whenever I get my hands on one of those chocolate bars, it just disappears within minutes. My hubby doesn’t really like those bars, so I don’t really have to share. Nom nom nom. I wanted to make a cookie version of it. I was testing the recipe yesterday with a friend of mine, who was also my hand model.  I baked the rest of the cookies today and had them for breakfast with my hubby. It was a nice way to start a very chilly Saturday morning. This recipe makes about 11 cookies.

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

57gr butter, softened

50gr sugar

50gr brown sugar

1 small egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ cup of all-purpose flour

30gr of cacao powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of milk

For the filling:

50gr cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of icing sugar

1 tablespoons of strawberry jam

2 drops of vanilla extract

 

To make the filling, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until combined. I mixed it with a fork and then blended it to make it smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the freezer until ready to use. It is better if you leave it there overnight.  The next day it will have an ice cream like consistency and will be easier to fill the cookies.

To make the cookies, first cream the butter and then add the white and brown sugar.  Mix until it is light and fluffy. Then add the egg and the vanilla. Mix well and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Finally add the milk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This dough is quite sticky so the longer it is in the fridge the better.  You can also just leave it in the fridge overnight and the next day assemble the cookies and bake them.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the fridge and grab a bit more than a teaspoon of the dough and start making a ball. Repeat for all of the dough. You will need 2 balls to make one cookie.

Take the filling out of the freezer.

To assemble the cookie, flatten 1 ball with the palm of your hand (this will be the base of the cookie).  Then flatten another ball. Grab the first flattened ball, place a bit of the filling in the middle. Then cover the cookie with the other flattened ball.  Finally seal the edges using your fingers and place the stuffed cookie in the prepared baking tray. Repeat for all of the dough.

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Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.

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Amaranth Crusted Buttermilk Chicken with a Coriander-Sriracha Greek Yogurt Sauce

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I wanted to make a lighter version of buttermilk fried chicken. Besides the obvious reason that it is too fatty, the part I hate the most about deep frying is that the whole apartment smells like a fast food restaurant.  That is why I hardly ever do it.

I added amaranth to the coating. In case you have never heard of amaranth before, it is a seed similar to quinoa, just smaller and it also packs a lot of protein. I browned the chicken a bit in a pan with very little olive oil and then finished it cooking in the oven.  I wanted to keep the lighter vibe going so I made a sauce with coriander, sriracha, lemon zest and Greek yogurt.  Keep in mind that for this recipe you need to let the chicken marinade in buttermilk overnight.  This recipe makes about 3 portions.

Ingredients:

500gr of chicken breast, sliced into chicken finger size pieces

For the marinade:

400ml of buttermilk

Juice of ½ a lemon

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Pepper

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of onion powder

¼ teaspoon of paprika powder

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

For the crumbs:

½ cup of amaranth

½ cup of panko

¼ cup of cornmeal

¼ cup of breadcrumbs

¼ cup of grated parmesan

1 teaspoon of salt

Pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon of lemon pepper

For the sauce:

170gr of Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon of ginger syrup

Pinch of salt

 

The night before, slice the chicken into chicken fingers size pieces. Place all of the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl, mix it and add the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken soak in it overnight in the fridge.

To make the Greek yogurt sauce, just mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic film and let it sit in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the coating, first start cooking the amaranth. Boil it for 15 minutes and then drain it with a very fine mesh strainer since they are so tiny. My strainer was not small enough so I stacked a second one underneath, lost a bit of amaranth in the process, but oh well. Then I dried it a bit more in a pan for a few minutes. Set aside to allow them to cool down for a couple of minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the cooked amaranth and the rest of the ingredients of the crumb mixture in a bowl. Mix well.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and coat each piece with the crumb mixture.

Brush a large non-stick pan with some olive oil. Once the pan is hot, just brown the chicken a bit on both sides. Do it in batches.  Then place the chicken in the prepared oven tray.

Bake for 8 to 10 min until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve immediately with the Greek yogurt sauce.

Baked Green Tea Pork Meatballs

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This is a very simple weeknight meal. The meatballs are baked for 20 minutes and come out juicy and tender. I like to eat them with coconut rice and some parsley or coriander tossed with lime juice, olive oil and salt.  This recipe makes about 15 meatballs.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

500gr minced pork

1 red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 egg yolk

2 bags of green tea, cut open and emptied

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1/3 cup of panko

2 tablespoons of cornmeal

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of hoisin

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and brush it with some vegetable oil.

In a small pan, add the vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened.

In a large bowl, add the minced pork, onion mixture, green tea and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well and start to form the meatballs and place them on the greased oven tray.

Bake them for 20 minutes.

Once the meatballs are cooked, start making the glaze. Add all of the ingredients to a large pan and stir over medium heat. Once the glaze is warm and well combined, add the cooked meatballs. Toss until they are evenly coated in the glaze. Serve with coconut rice and a parsley or coriander salad.

 

Olive Tapenade Biscotti


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I am a big fan of olives; I think I could pretty much snack on them every day.  I thought of making savory biscotti by adding to it some black olive tapenade and fresh thyme. The tapenade gives it a nice marbled effect as well. They are really nice to eat by themselves or you can use it as a crostini and accompany it with some cheese, or any other topping that you may like. This recipe makes one log, about 26 pieces of biscotti.

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Ingredients for the tapenade:

1 cup of black olives (I used Kalamata)

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 clove of garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon of capers

3 anchovy filets

¼ cup of almonds, chopped

5 sprigs of thyme

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

Ingredients for the biscotti:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

Pinch of sugar

85gr of butter, room temperature

2 eggs

½ cup of milk

8 sprigs of thyme

1/3 cup of the tapenade previously made

 

First make the tapenade. Just put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a paste.

To make the biscotti, first preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

In a large bowl, whisk the butter, then add the eggs and milk.

Slowly add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and mix well. Finally add the thyme leaves and 1/3 of a cup of the tapenade. Mix well.

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Place the dough in a floured surface and form a log. Place the log in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  The dough is quite soft so you will have to re-shape it a bit once it’s on the baking sheet.

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Bake for 30 minutes. Then allow to cool down for about 15 minutes.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 150C/300F.

Transfer the log to a cutting board.  Using a bread knife; cut it into slices of about 1 cm thick.

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Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for another 30 minutes.

After the timer is up, turn the biscotti and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.  Once cooled, keep in an airtight container.

Baked Chicken Quinoa Meatballs

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These meatballs are a healthier alternative since they are baked and because of the quinoa they are very filling. You can serve them just by themselves as appetizers or with rice for a main meal.

Ingredients:

500gr minced chicken (not lean)

1 cup of quinoa

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 bird’s eye chili, minced

2 spring onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

4 tablespoons of flour

1 egg

salt

For the sauce:             

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

¼ cup of hoisin sauce

¼ cup of water

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

For the garnish:

1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of black sesame seed

1 spring onion, chopped

 

First cook the quinoa. Rinse it under the sink and then boil for 13 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350F or 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix well all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl, including the cooked quinoa. Roll into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space in between.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, start making the sauce. In a pan, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and the minced ginger. Cook for a few minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients. Let it reduce a bit and then add the cooked meatballs. Stir to coat. To serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onion.