Category Archives: Dressings and Sauces

Mexican Flavor Cubes


For lack of a beter name, Mexican flavor cubes is what I have named these little cubes. Concentrated Mexican “mole-like” flavor packed into little cubes to be added to any sauce or dish that needs a little “oomph”. These little cubes are full of Mexican flavor and really pack a punch. Lots of flavor in minutes without all the hassle.
I have these as part of my standard frozen staples. I’m a true believer in a well-stocked kitchen pantry/freezer as this will ensure you’re prepared, even if you don’t have time for a last minute shopping trip , so that you can make your favourite recipes and always have the basics at hand.
There are a ton of standard items in my freezer, that I make again and again as soon as they, or almost, run out. Such items are home made chicken stock, Napolitana sauce, and a roast pepper Napolitana version for myself, Pizza bases, Bread, Bagels etc… and of course these Mexican flavor cubes.
Let me explain how and why. We eat a lot of Mexican inspired dishes at home and I say inspired because I don’t want to offend anyone, I’m sure they are far from authentic, but they’re very tasty and that’s what it all about, for us. So basically what I do is, I soak some Mexican peppers that I buy online, add spices, cooked onion, garlic and some other flavourings, then blend it all up and freeze it in an ice cube tray. I happen to have a very large ice cube tray, that makes ¼ cup cubes, perfect for us but you can freeze it how it would work best for you. Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list, you’ll have most of the spices in your cupboard already, and it actually comes together very quickly.

INGREDIENTS:

• 3 dried Ancho peppers ( aka dried Poblano peppers) Scoville scale: 1,000 to 2,000 shu
• 3 Chipotles peppers (smoke-dried Jalapeño peppers) Scoville scale: 2,500 to 8,000 shu
• 3 Guajillo peppers (aka dried Mirasol peppers) Scoville scale : 2,500–5,000 shu
• 2 tbsp. neutral oil
• 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
• 2 roast peppers from a jar
• 2 chicken or beef stock cube
• 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
• 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
• 2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• ½ tsp. ground cloves
• ½ tsp. all spice
• 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp. sugar or more to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put a large frying pan on medium high heat, place your peppers in the dry pan and toast gently all over until they begin to soften and change color. Remove from heat.
Add the oil to the pan and add the onion and garlic, cook gently while you clean the peppers.
Cut the peppers open with scissors and remove stems and seeds, place in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of very hot water (not boiling) and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Once the onion is soft and golden add the smoked paprika, oregano, the ground cumin, cinnamon, ground cloves, all spice, salt and freshly ground pepper, just a few twists. Stir and let it become fragrant, turn of the heat after one or two minutes.
Once everything has cooled, place the hydrated peppers with liquid in the blender, with the onion-spice mixture, add the peppers from a jar, add the stock cubes, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend everything until you have a dark smooth puree, taste and season if necessary.
Pour into ice cube tray or other small containers and freeze.
I use these cubes to make fajitas, chili, enchiladas and all sorts of Mexican dishes. It gives everything a really authentic flavor without hours of cooking. Just make your regular recipes, and then add one of these cubes for a flavor explosion.
Enjoy.

Broccoli Salad

With Summer on its way, it’s great to have lots of salad recipes on hand. This Broccoli salad is so colorful and fun to make, and obviously fantastic to eat. The great thing about this particular salad is that you can even make it a day in advance, it holds up really well, making it perfect for Bbq’s and Picnics.

It’s very simple to make, start by soaking the cranberries in warm water.
Then you caramelize the pecan nuts with the butter and sugar.
As these cool, you steam the broccoli florets for just 3 minutes in the microwave. You rinse them under cold water and drain.
The rest of the ingredients are then added and tossed with the delicious simple dressing.


⏰ Prep time : 15 minutes
🍝 Cooking time : 15 minutes
🍴 Serves : 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course


INGREDIENTS:

• 1 large head of Broccoli, cut into florets
• 1/2 cup of pecans
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon butter
• pinch of salt
• 1/3 cup dried cranberries
• 1/3 cup pomegranate arils, reserve some to scatter on top before serving
• 4 oz. chopped cooked ham
• 4 oz. grated aged cheddar, coarsely grated or finely chopped
• 2 tbsp. chopped chives
• 2 tbsp. chopped parsley, (1 tbsp. goes in and the other on top)
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• a good squeeze of lime juice
• 2-3 tbsp. milk
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Start by soaking the cranberries in warm water.
2. Then heat a small pan on medium heat and melt the butter. Add the Pecans, salt and the tablespoon of sugar.
3. Keep stirring until sugar is caramelizing and the nuts are golden.
4. Transfer to a plate lined with a piece of parchment paper and make sure to separate the nuts or they will form clusters.
5. Steam the broccoli florets for three minutes, rinse under cold water and drain very well.
6. For the dressing mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, lime juice, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
7. Drain the cranberries and pat dry with kitchen paper.
8. Toss all the remaining ingredients over the broccoli and mix carefully.
9. Add the dressing and toss again.
10. Place all on top of some salad leafs on a big platter to serve.
11. Sprinkle with the pomegranate arils and some parsley.

ENJOY!
MYRA

Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce for two

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I kind of feel like I am having tiny Christmas dinners all throughout the month of December. And I gotta say, I’m lovin’ it.

This is one of those dinners. Simple as can be and festive as can be.

Duck goes really well with any kind of fruit and is usually paired with citrus, but it goes equally well with berries and darker fruits like plums or cherries.

The Duck breast has been treated in a different way because I really dislike the skin. I do like the skin when it’s crispy, but how long does the crispiness last , really? By the time dinner gets to the table and you actually start eating the crispyness is almost gone.
So, what I do and what may seem as a shocker to some of you, but I remove the skin and treat the breast more like a steak. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper and pan fried. I use a cast iron pan for this because it works best in my opinion.

Then I cut up the skin in tiny bits and render the fat, where I then pan roast the potatoes and finish them of in the oven. This gives you the best roast potatoes you can ever imagine, and you’ll be surprised to see how the skin disappears in the pan almost completely.

The cherry sauce goes so well with the duck, it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit sour, perfect against the intense duck flavour, and such a festive dish.

      

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Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients Duck Breasts:

  • 2 Duck breasts
  • salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Remove the Duck from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Remove the skin and chop fine. Place in a cast iron skillet and render the fat over low heat, until all the skin has almost disappeared. You will end up with about 4 to 6 tbsp. fat.

Season the duck breast on both sides, heat a cast iron frying pan over high heat with three tablespoons of the duck fat.
Place both duck breasts in the pan and don’t move them for about 3 minutes then turn the over. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Remove to a plate and let sit covered with foil for about five minutes.
This is medium cooked, if you like it less done cook it for 5 minutes total. For completely done 7 to 8  minutes, it depends a little bit on the size of the duck breast and the thickness.

Slice and serve with the pan roast potatoes and cherry sauce.

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Ingredients Cherry Sauce:

  • 1/2 C. brown Sugar or sugar of choice
  • 1/2 C. Red wine Vinegar
  • 2 whole Star Anise
  • 1 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 3 C. frozen Cherries (no stones)
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place the sugar, vinegar, star anise and cinnamon in a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cherries and cook, turning occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until just soft and the sauce has reduced a little. Make a slurry with the corn starch and water, add to the sauce and let thicken.

For the Roast Potatoes:
1/2 Lb., potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. fat rendered from duck breasts.
salt

Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 220° C  / 428° F
Par boil the potatoes for about ten minutes, drain, and let them steam off.
Heat the (oven proof) pan with rendered duck fat and roast the potatoes until they start ro turn golden brown. Place the pan in the oven and roast for an other 20 25 minutes until crispy and golden all over, turning ocassionally. Season with salt.

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If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog  on instagram! You’ll make my day.

Harvest Pumpkin Salad, baked Halloumi and Chantherelles with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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I’ve got Pumpkin on my mind. Everywhere I look I see pumpkins, everything I read seems to be about pumpkins and now I can’t stop thinking about them So rather than fight it, I’d better embrace it.

No, in all seriousness I love pumpkins and I am very happy with the vast amount of Pumpkin recipes going around . In magazines, on tv and online. I have come up with a few myself and this is the first one. I had it for dinner tonight and it was so satisfying and delicious I couldn’t wait to share it. Usually I am not a fan of just having a salad for dinner because I get hungry after about an hour. But it has been two hours since I had my dinner and I think I am going to be ok until breakfast.

This salad does have a few steps to prepare but then again it is a dinner substitute so there is some work and cooking involved. But fun work….promise. And it is so pretty and delicious you could easily serve it for an informal dinner party with some freshly baked bread.

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Serves 4

   Ingredients for the salad;

  • 1 lb roast pumpkin cubes
  • 2 bags of lettuce mix, about 8 oz.
  • 4 oz. of canned lentils, drained
  • Traditional Halloumi Cheese, 7 oz
  • 14 oz. Chanterelles, gently wiped clean
  • 1 large red onion, peeled cut in half and into slivers
  • 1/3 C. Parsley leafs whole
  • 1/4 C.  dried Organic Cranberries, soaked for at least 30 minutes
  • 1/2 C. Bacon in smallish dice, (omit for vegetarians)
  • 1/2 C. Maple candied All Natural Roasted Pecans (Unsalted)
  • Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Roast pumpkin cubes;
  • Pre heat oven to 350 ° F/ 180 ° C
  • 1 lb. fresh cubed Pumpkin, peeled and seeds removed
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Toss everything together and place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Roast for 20 minutes. Toss pumpkin half way thru cooking.

Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature.

Maple candied Pecans;

1/2 C. All Natural Roasted Pecans (Unsalted)

2 tbsp Maple Syrup

Toast the pecans in a dry frying pan for 2 minutes until pecans smell toasted. Add the maple syrup and cook for two more minutes, until syrup has reduced and all is sticky and deep golden brown. Transfer the pecans to a plate covered with parchment paper. Immediately separate the pecans with two forks. Let cool completely.

Warning: Caramel of any kind gets extremely hot so do not touch with your fingers or taste it!!!

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette;

  • 2 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
  • 4 tsp. Maple Syrup
  • 3 tbsp. Thick Balsamic Vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Whisk the first three ingredients together until well blended and slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Add a salt and pepper.

Before we start with the chanterelle and Halloumi it is time to prepare the salad plates first. Or salad platter, which ever you prefer. Place like this

1  Salad leafs

2 onion slivers

3 roast pumpkin cubes

4 lentils

5 parsley leafs

Now back to the chanterelle. Heat a frying pan over high heat and add the bacon dice, cook over moderate heat until really crispy, remove from pan and set aside in a small bowl.

Remove some of the fat from the pan if necessary and put it back on the heat. Add the chanterelle and cook on high heat for about four to five minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate and put the pan back on the heat. Add the Halloumi slices and bake in a dry pan for about 1 and a half minutes on each side until crispy and soft.

Divide  the chanterelle carefully over the salad, scatter with the bacon and add the baked Halloumi slices. Decorate with the maple candies pecans and cranberries and serve straight away with the Maple Balsamic vinaigrette.

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Not quite what you were looking for? How about Endive Gratin with Baked Apples, Blue cheese and Thyme img_1181