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Quick Croque-Monsieurs

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Croque-monsieurs are a fantastic quick recipe to have up your sleeve. I used to eat them for lunch from the local bakery, but more recently, they were a treat when we hosted a family brunch. Plus, you can make a thwack of them at the same time… and you get to sound very dignified every time you call these a “croque-monsieur” instead of a “cheese and ham toastie.”

Follow these instructions loosely and you’ll have something delicious no matter what variations your tastebuds demand.

Pro tip: Make this into a croque-madame by adding a fried egg!

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Posted: August 17th, 2014 under Breakfast, Easy, Recipes, Sides - No Comments. Tags: , ,

Laksa, Delicious Laksa

laksa

When I get sick, I don’t crave chicken soup. I crave one of two things — tomato soup from a can with grilled cheese and dill pickles (hat tip to Kate and our dining hall days — I also crave this when perfectly healthy), or spicy beef ramen noodles (hat tip to football player roommates who once bought a 48 box of these from Costco for the house). Unfortunately for me, my favourite spicy beef ramen noodles are no longer accessible to me, for two reasons. One, my fave brand was Safeway’s own, which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere near me in Australia. Two, I refuse to buy a one-use styrofoam cup just to enjoy guilty pleasure empty calories.

What does all of this have to do with laksa, you may ask? It seems that in my quasi-invalid state today, I craved what is arguably the grown up version of these two comfort foods. Laksa, that spicy, creamy, savoury, tart, sweet, and overall delectable goodness. I’m a convert.

Just fyi, my invalid state today was caused by surgery on my ear — cosmetic, as I had a big keloid scar lump there from an old piercing. It was my first time ever going under in complete anaesthetic, which on the whole wasn’t so bad. Other than nerves in the morning, I’d say the whole experience (so far) has been about as pleasant as getting a cavity filled. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if you’re sick in the gastro way — a really hot laksa could sure do wonders for a head cold though!

Another disclaimer. I think I’ve had laksa only a handful of times in my life, and two of those were my own homemade version. As a gal who grew up in small Canadian town with no Asian food other than Westernised Chinese and Japanese, I’m no connoisseur or particular whiz at Asian dishes (yet). But frankly, so long as it’s delicious, who really cares, right? Enjoy this with a nice cold beer any time of ear. Er, year.

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Posted: November 5th, 2013 under Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains, Recipes - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blueberry Banana Oat Muffins

blueberry banana muffins

Every now and then a recipe comes along and you say to yourself: “This is it. I’ve found it.”

And that’s what these muffins are! I’ve made many a muffin in my time and there’s a difficult balance to find between taste, health, moistness, and of course flavour. Some muffins are just too healthy. Some are a cupcake by another name. To me, a good muffin is one that sits pleasantly in the middle of the scale, with a great flavour to boot.

The next time you have blueberries in your fridge/freezer just begging to be baked into something, pull up this recipe and enjoy!

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Posted: June 22nd, 2013 under Baking, Breakfast, Easy, Joni's Blog - 1 Comment. Tags: , , , ,

Butter Tart Squares

Ahh, butter tarts. That delicious, gooey, rich treat that you can really only justify eating in the middle of a dark, cold, Canadian winter. Or, if you’re me, in the middle of a hot Australian summer because Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without butter tarts!

I’ve shared my family’s usual recipe for butter tarts here, but I have to say that this method really measures up. It’s got the same wonderful flavour and you don’t have to make your own pastry or try to get store-bought pastries home in one piece. And, you can slice them up a little bit smaller, so you can savour the squares just a little bit longer.

It’s your choice to add raisins, pecans, or walnuts — I used lightly roasted walnuts in this recipe and it turned out a treat. Enjoy!

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Posted: May 27th, 2013 under Baking, Desserts, Easy, Joni's Blog, Recipes - No Comments.

Random Post: Chicken Stock

If you read one of my recent posts about the Art of Feast Cooking, then you’ve been expecting this recipe for chicken stock! I’m so pleased I’ve started making my own stock, because it tastes so much better compared to the powdered or cubed pre-made stuff which I’m pretty convinced is just garlic powder and salt. Actually, one of our chicken “stock” powders is pretty much just that (though I was pretty impressed I could pronounce all the ingredients and they were all vegetarian, which was amusing).

There are a few reasons to start making your own chicken stock. The top two are that one, it’s dead easy so why not, and two, it’s just one thrifty thing you can do to work towards a sustainable kitchen. I mean “sustainable” in a few senses of the word—perhaps most importantly is making sure that when you do eat meat, you use as many parts of the animal as you can, and then some. You’re also creating less waste, by getting more use out of what’s already in your kitchen. Second most importantly is that your kitchen itself will continue to thrive—both on the taste of your delicious homemade stock, and because you’re getting your money’s worth out of fresh ingredients so you’re not having to buy a pre-made powder or cube or some such. Last but certainly not least, making your own stock means you can control the salt & fat content. Most stocks are ridiculously salty (see my previous comment about them being salt & garlic powder), far more than they ever need to be for your homemade soup. In fact, I almost always use half the amount of stock mix which I’m supposed to add into a given amount of water, jazzing the recipe up instead with fresh garlic and dried spices.

And just because I had to do some research to figure out if there’s any Aussie or Canadian/American predilections to calling this stock or broth, some fun facts! Stock (also known as bouillon) is this recipe, which includes the bones—broth, on the other hand, is made just using the meat from an animal (and who has that lying around? I’d rather eat it, thank you very much). Consomme (because you asked) is stock which has gone through a clarifying process. Now you know!

So the next time you do a roast chicken or turkey, save those bones & bits and get ready to make your own delicious stock!

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Posted: August 22nd, 2010 under Basics, Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains, Recipes - 4 Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,