I awoke last night to the sound of rain pummeling the roof. It was a welcome sound as we south shore Nova Scotians in Shelburne County have been experiencing drought conditions recently. It’s still raining, mid-morning as I write. Some folks in town have been without water since the end of June. Glenn and I are lucky to still have water in our well, but it is getting low.
We’ve been invited out for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner this evening and my plans to make a large Grilled Veggie Salad have been foiled by current weather conditions. It’s most definitely not a day for firing up the BBQ. So I’ve been thumbing through my ragged old notebook (filled with recipes and clippings collected over time) trying to decide what to make for Georg and Harry’s gathering.
I’ve finally decided on a recipe given to me at least 25 years ago by a dear friend from my Yukon days, Heather Alton. Perhaps this recipe, Buns for Fifty, was passed along from grandmother, to mom, to daughter … or; maybe it originally came out of an old, self-published church cookbook. It kind of has that feel to it.
6 C lukewarm water
1 T sugar
4 T baking yeast
½ C white sugar
1 C softened butter
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp salt
6 C unbleached white flour
4 – 6 additional cups of unbleached white flour
Dissolve 1 T of sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes until the yeast gets soft and bubbly.
Combine the soft butter and ½ C of white sugar and beat, using a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to beat using the mixer on a low setting. Pour in the yeast/water mixture and add 6 cups of flour, one cup at a time, while continuing to mix.
Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time mixing by hand until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with flour and knead for 15 – 20 minutes, adding flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil a large bread bowl and place the dough inside the bowl, rolling it around until it is lightly coated with the oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a warm draft-free place to rise, until double in bulk (about 1 ½ hrs). I place my bread bowl in the oven with the internal oven light turned on. The heat from the light bulb makes the oven a perfect warm and draft-free spot for rising bread dough.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a rope about 3 inches thick. Cut each rope into 10 equal sized chunks and form these chunks of dough into round, bun shaped balls. Line cookie pans or round cake pans with parchment paper and place dough balls on the pans so they are close but not touching. Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter and let rise for 25 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the buns on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top.
When you are in a hurry this recipe for barbequed Korean style ribs will fit the bill. Whip up the marinade a day in advance, cover the ribs with the mixture and refrigerate overnight. All you have to do at meal-time is fire up the barbie to medium high and grill these babies for 3 or 4 minutes per side. Serve with a side salad and some steamed rice for a yummy and satisfying meal.
¾ C soy sauce
¼ C Mirin ( Japanese rice wine) or sweet Sherry
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1/3 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 T minced garlic
2 tsp, minced ginger
½ tsp cumin
3 – 3 ½ lbs Korean style short ribs, 1/3” thick (16 pieces)
2 scallions, cut diagonally for garnish
Make the marinade by mixing together the soy sauce, Mirin, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Place the ribs in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the ribs. Seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours but preferably overnight. Flip the bag over periodically.
Pre-heat the BBQ to medium high. Remove the ribs from re-sealable bag and discard the left-over marinade. Place ribs on the BBQ over direct heat and grill for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Watch them closely and don’t overcook or they will be chewy instead of tender.
As you know, I’ve recently been thumbing my way through, Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. Today I am sharing a slightly tweaked version of a traditional Arabic casserole. Maqluba means “Upside-down” and that’s exactly how this savoury chicken and veggie casserole is presented. Once cooked, the pot, layered with tasty food is flipped over and if luck is with you, the casserole drops out in one piece onto the awaiting platter. Last night luck was with us and, posted here you see the results.
Traditionally the veggies are fried before being layered into the casserole dish but I roasted mine instead. This way, less oil was used and the vegetable flavours were deepened and intensified during the roasting process.
Now, the list of ingredients might seem long and daunting but really, most of what you see below is various spices. They add distinctive flavours to this upside-down casserole making it hard to resist.
1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2 ” slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, cut into quarters lengthwise
½ medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
¼ C olive oil
1 tsp oregano
¼ tsp kosher salt & grinding of pepper
1 C basmati rice
8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
¼ C cooking oil
1 ½ C chicken broth (or water)
1 small onion, cut into quarter sections
1 bay leaf
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp black pepper
Lay the eggplant pieces out flat on a piece of paper towel. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt. Leave for 15 – 20 minutes. Beads of moisture will appear on the eggplant surface during this time. Pat the slices dry.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Coat the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, onion quarters, and cauliflower with the olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the veggies out on one or two baking pans lined with parchment paper and place on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Roast the vegetables for about 40 minutes removing individual veggie slices/pieces as they are done.
Cover the rice with water and leave it to soak for at least ½ hr.
While the rice is soaking and vegetables are roasting, heat the 2 T of cooking oil in a large heavy pan with a tight fitting lid. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Add the broth or water to the pan, along with the onion halves, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil then lower the heat so the broth is just simmering. Cover with lid and braise for 20 minutes. Remove chicken using a slotted spoon and strain the chicken broth. Set both chicken pieces and broth aside for later use.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the casserole pot you will use to assemble the Maqluba. Select a pot that has a tight fitting lid and doesn’t slope inward from bottom to top. The sides should be straight up and down with the top opening of the pot being the same size as the bottom of the pot (see what I used pictured below). Spray the sides of the pot with cooking oil.
Now it’s time to layer the casserole. First place the roasted cherry tomatoes on the bottom followed by the roasted slices of eggplant. The chicken thighs come next followed by the roast onion sections and cauliflower florets. Strain the soaked rice and distribute it evenly across the top layer of the casserole. Press everything down firmly.
Add the remaining spices (turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper) to the reserved chicken broth and stir. Slowly pour enough of the chicken broth mixture over the last casserole layer to completely cover the rice. Cover the pot with its lid.
Place the covered pot on the middle rack of the 350 F oven. Bake for one hour. Leave it for a bit longer if there is liquid that still needs to absorb and reduce. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before flipping onto platter. Good luck but don’t worry; the Maqluba tastes great even if it’s not in one piece when served.
Garnish with lightly browned pine nuts if desired.
We have had hot muggy days over the past week; the type of weather that isn’t conducive to indoor cooking. Who wants to slave over a stove in the summertime anyway? Not me. Tabouleh is a perfect option when the temperature soars and there’s no need to even crank up a burner. Just use the kettle to boil water for the bulgur. That’s it! Even though tabouleh is a filling salad, the fresh mint along with the lemon juice in the dressing keeps it tasting light and refreshing.
3/4 C bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 C boiling water
1 C tomato, small dice
1 small red onion, fine dice
1/2 C red bell pepper, fine dice
3/4 C peeled & seeded cucumber, fine dice
1/2 C minced fresh parsley
2 T minced fresh mint
1 tsp kosher salt flakes
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C olive oil
Pour hot water over the bulgur and set aside for about 30 minutes. During this time the bulgur will absorb the water and soften up. Chill the prepared bulgur in the fridge for at least an hour before mixing with the remaining ingredients. I often prepare the bulgur the night before I make tabouleh.
Combine the tomato, red onion, bell pepper,cucumber,parsley, mint and kosher salt.
In a separate container mix together lemon juice, olive oil and chili powder.
Add the chilled bulgur to the vegetable mixture and combine with the prepared dressing. Chill before serving. Garnish the salad with sprigs of fresh mint.