Blue Cheese Burgers and Crispy Kale

So by now you might have noticed that I am a big fan of comfort food. I love to cook comforting meals and thinking up ways to reinvent classic combinations is always fun.  This week its burgers!

Blue Cheese Burgers with Crispy Kale

 

I serve these bun-free… you know… to make it healthy 🙂 I top mine off with blue cheese but you can use any kind you like.  This combination is so tasty you don’t need the usual burger staple sauces like ketchup or mayo.

Blue Cheese Burgers with Crispy Kale

My secret to keeping the burgers really moist is adding grainy mustard into the burger mix.  It helps to bind them and keep them moist.  The little mustardy zing goes great with the blue cheese and kale too.

Sweet Potato Fries

You can’t have a burger without fries… in my opinion. So I serve mine with crispy sweet potato fries and a sriracha dipping sauce. Getting your sweet potatoes actually crispy in the oven may have been tough before, but I guarantee if you follow my recipe they’ll turn out every time! (These ones may have been left a little too long…but they were still tasty!)

Blue Cheese Burgers with Crispy Kale

Blue Cheese Burgers with Crispy Kale

Ingredients

    Burgers
  • 300g of high quality ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of grainy mustard
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • 50 grams of blue cheese
  • Crispy Kale
  • 1 big handful per person of chopped kale
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Crispy Sweet Potato Fries & Sauce
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup of creme fresh
  • *1 teaspoon of sriracha (more or less to taste)

Instructions

    Sweet Potatoes & Sauce: (they take the longest so start these first!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 225C
  2. Take your peeled and sliced potatoes into a big bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for at least an hour but you can also do this the night before and place in the fridge.
  3. Drain your potatoes and pat dry with a clean towel.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the arrowroot or cornstarch and then drizzle olive oil overtop. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and line up so there is space in between each piece. Don't crowd or they will steam.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and then flip and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until crispy.
  7. Meanwhile make your sauce by combining all the ingredients and mix well together.
  8. Burgers:
  9. Mix all your burger ingredients (save the cheese) in a bowl and form into patties. Put the patties in the fridge. You can make these a day in advance if you prefer.
  10. When ready, cook your burgers for 4 minutes on each side in a grill pan or frying pan over medium high heat.
  11. When you flip your burgers, place the cheese on the cooked side.
  12. Once cooked, let the burgers rest on the plate for about 5-8 minutes before serving.
  13. Crispy Kale:
  14. Place your kale on a baking sheet and "massage" the olive oil into the leaves.
  15. Sprinkle with salt.
  16. Place in the oven and cook for approx 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it. It doesn't take long for it to go from perfect to burnt!

To Serve: Pile the kale on top of the burgers. I like to serve mine with roasted cherry tomatoes on the side.

*If you don't like sriracha you can substitute with chipotle powder or a minced whole chipotle in adobo sauce.

http://www.alotofyum.com/blue-cheese-burgers-and-crispy-kale/

Corn, Bacon & Shrimp Bisque

Hello All!  Sorry its been so long since I’ve posted.  I don’t really know why its been so long.  I think I was hit with a two week low motivation streak.  But the good news is I’m back!

Corn, Bacon & Shrimp Bisque

My parents have been here visiting and helping me with the boys so I’ve been repaying them with lots of good food.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can see some of the yummy things I’ve been making. After a pretty heavy weekend, I thought I would make something light.  I know – shrimp bisque isn’t really something you consider to be light.  But this one is!  It uses only a little cream and no butter… I know…  unusual for my cooking 🙂

Bacon, Corn & Shrimp Bisque

This bisque actually started out as a chowder, but somehow the texture was way off and so to remedy that I blended the soup and then strained it – turning it into a shrimp bisque. And this is one time I’m actually thankful for whatever mistake I made because it turned out soooo good.  One of the key steps to this recipe is making the shrimp broth.  It seems like a bit of a hassle, but really its easy to do and adds such a nice sweet shrimpy flavor to the bisque. The end result is what I am confidently calling my best soup ever!  I served this with warm cheddar biscuits – bonus recipe included.

Corn, Bacon & Shrimp Bisque

Corn, Bacon & Shrimp Bisque

Ingredients

    For the Bisque
  • 100g of bacon diced
  • 1 lb or 500g medium/large shrimp, peeled, deveined and shells put to the side
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels - I prefer to use fresh but you can use frozen or canned
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Cheddar Biscuits
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cold butter chopped
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese chopped
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Place your shrimp shells in a roasting dish and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes then transfer to a pot on the stove, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until shells are soft. Approx 30 mins. Once softened, blend in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth and put the broth aside.
  2. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Add shrimp to the stockpot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add garlic and onion to the stockpot, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in paprika, oregano and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Whisk in chicken stock, corn and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 12-15 minutes; discard bay leaf. Puree with an immersion blender.
  6. Once pureed, strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth. Take the remains and blend in a blender then strain again into the soup. This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but the results are worth it. Its building layers of flavor.
  7. Add in your sherry, heavy cream and shrimp broth and bring the soup up to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve immediately with shrimp, garnished with bacon, basil leaves and loads of fresh ground pepper
  9. Cheddar Biscuits
  10. Mix your flour and baking powder together then place in a food processor.
  11. Add your cheddar cheese and pulse until the mixture resembles a fine breadcrumb.
  12. Add in the butter and pulse 3-4 times to break butter up into pea size pieces.
  13. Pour in your milk and mix until a dough forms.
  14. Remove the dough and roll out on a flour surface. Cut out your biscuits and place on a lined baking sheet.
  15. Bake for 12-13 minutes.
  16. Serve warm.
http://www.alotofyum.com/corn-bacon-shrimp-bisque/

This recipe was adapted from Damn Delicious

 

 

 

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Blossom

We are 5 days into our holiday and have only eaten in a restaurant twice! Everyday we shop the local markets and then head home to make dinner ourselves.  It has been so nice to cook, each evening, without the usual time pressures and with just a few simple ingredients.  What I love about Italian cooking is that it is so simple and that they use everything.  Nothing goes to waste.  One of the most popular dishes throughout Italy is the fried zucchini blossom.  This is a flower that grows at the top of the zucchini (or courgette) and is usually discarded – but in Italy it is a favorite appetizer! The flavor and texture is very delicate which complements the crispness of the friend batter really nicely.Edit

I am stuffing mine with a fresh ricotta.  If you have never had fresh ricotta, I implore you to go out and seek a Italian deli and ask for it immediately.  It is so light in flavor and in texture and so creamy.  You will never go back to that mass produced, supermarket stuff.  It’s a totally different cheese.

These were so good that I’ve made them 2 nights in a row! P.S The lighting in my country kitchen isn’t the best…

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

  • 4 zucchini flowers
  • 50g of ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • 1 cup flour
  • 125ml soda water
  • oil for frying
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Start by heating your oil in a heavy bottom pot.  You want to have about 2inches depth for ideal frying.  For your batter, combine your flour and soda water, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until there are no lumps.  You should have a consistency of a thinner pancake batter.  If yours is too thick, add more water, if too thin add a little more flour.

Mix your ricotta and lemon zest in a bowl and spoon the mixture into your blossoms.  Coat each blossom in the batter and then fry in the hot oil.

They only take a minute or two to cook.  Make sure to turn them while frying to ensure its evenly cooked.  Remove and drain excess oil on a paper towel.  Season with a little salt. Serve while still hot and cheese will just ooze out. Bon appetito!

Rome

Traveling Through Umbria

Day 1 – A few yummy hours in Rome

This is my 6th trip to Italy and my 3rd to Rome.  Rome is a city you could visit a 1000 times and never tire of it.  At least that’s how I feel.  It is a city so rich in culture it grabs hold of you and never lets go.  Its beauty and intrigue stays with you long after you’ve left and calls to you from afar.  Of course the history and the architecture are second to none but a great way to visit Rome is to just stroll the narrow alleys, sit in a piazza and take in the local scenery…and this is just what we did. We only had a few hours in Rome and my main focus was to spend the day with a dear friend and to eat what my husband assured me was the best Pasta Carbonara he’s ever had.  Not a bad way to spend the day.

My friend Lori recently relocated to Rome from Cairo and was lucky enough to find an amazing apartment right in the heart of Rome’s best food neighborhood – Testaccio. So we started our day just a few doors down from her flat with a cappuccino from Barberini Caffetteria. Coffee culture in Rome – or Italy in general – is so different from anywhere else.  There is no coffee to go. You walk up to the coffee bar, order your drink and stand there to drink it.  There is also protocol on what is drunk and when – cappuccino or latte before 11am and espresso or macchiatto (espresso with a little milk) anytime after that. So after our cappuccinos we headed next door to Volpetti – or better known as a foodie paradise.

Volpetti

Inside Volpetti

Olives & Blood Oranges

New Flavor Combinations: Olives & Blood Oranges at Volpetti

I was in heaven and our short “stop and see” turned into a personal food tour around the shop from one of the friendly old men behind the counter.  We started with different kinds of goat cheese – tasted 3 or 4 – and ended up buying two.  Then we moved on to meats and this kind, and very persuasive salesman, introduced me to a whole ham baked inside a bread shell – called Prosciutto cotto in crosta.  I am not a ham fan, but this was the moistest ham I have ever tasted.  The marbled fat just melted in my mouth.  Yum…Ill take some of that too! Then on to olives.  Black olives with blood oranges, something I’ve never had before and was intrigued to try.  We finished off our order with a pound of Burrata (a silky, creamier version of its cousin buffalo mozzerella), a loaf of bread studded with dried figs and couple slices of polenta cake.  There was dinner sorted… Now on to lunch.

With our bellies full from samples we walked and walked…with a little detour to the Forum…leading to our next destination – Da Enzo in Trastevere.  

Kris had been here in November and raved about their Carbonara – he even dared to say it beat out the one we had on our last trip!  Needless to say, I had to try it for myself.  We were the first to arrive at the restaurant.  They don’t take reservations and the 30 seats fill up fast.  We had perfect timing as it was flooded with hungry tourists and locals just minutes after we sat down.  Luckily the weather was sunny and warm-ish so we took our seats at one of the tiny outside tables.  Since Kris and I already knew were what we were ordering, Lori decided on her favorite – bucatini all’Amatriciana – a very traditional Roman pasta dish made with tomatoes, pork belly and pork jowl.  We also chose a deep fried artichoke starter and a 1/2 litre of the house red.

Deep Fried Artichoke

I never had an Artichoke done like this before and it ended up tasting like Artichoke chips. Delicious!

Pasta Carbonara

Very rich and creamy and bright yellow. This is worth the indulgence… although I needed a nap after mine 🙂

bucatini all'Amatriciana

Lori’s bucatini all’Amatriciana. My new favorite!…can’t beat anything made with that much pork.

Final results – everything was absolutely delicious – but I’m still holding out that the best carbonara I ever had was that random find years ago.  The hunt for the best Carbonara continues (for me anyway!).

Ciao from Roma!

Next up on the blog – a rainy day in Spoletto, a 3 hour lunch and a simple recipe inspired by my Italian adventure so far.

Mini Fish Pies

The weather has turned here and in Amsterdam and we’ve been enjoy clear sunny days. So needed after months of dark, damp and cold! The boys have started using their balance bikes and we have spent our mornings (and afternoons) out riding and enjoying the sun.  Which means, we’re usually back later…and tired…and hungry.  So I’ve been making these yummy fish pies that I prepare in advance and just throw into the oven while having a little down time in front of the TV with the boys.

Mini Fish Pies

Yup, you heard me right.  Fish pie.  I had never tasted or even heard of a fish pie before moving to London.  Having grown up in Nova Scotia where fish is a mainstay, I thought I had tried it every which way…but a pie?  I have to admit, I was a little leary…but it’s delicious.  There are so many ways to prepare it that its hard to fault a dish that has so many possibilities.

Mini Fish Pies

I went pretty simple with leeks, peas and salmon for my toddlers but when I’m preparing it for myself, I always add a smoked salmon. It gives the whole flavor a real smokey boost – kind of like what bacon does to a really good fish chowder. If you don’t like smoked salmon, don’t worry, it’s not the strong flavor you are thinking of.  I guarantee you won’t mind it in a fish pie!

Mini Fish Pies

Mini Fish Pies

4 single servings

Mini Fish Pies

Ingredients

  • 300 grams of your favorite fish cut into small cubes (salmon, cod, mini shrimps etc)
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 leek finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 flour
  • 400ml milk
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese of your liking
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C.
  2. Place your leeks and butter in a medium sauce pot and cook until soft.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for another minute.
  4. Then add your milk slowly, whisking continuously to avoid clumps.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer until it thickens.
  6. Once thickened, remove from heat and add your fish, cheese and peas and mustard powder. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour into individual ramekins, top with the mash potatoes.
  8. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake in the oven until the potatoes start to brown and the pie is bubbling.
  9. Remove and let cool before serving.
  10. These are great for preparing ahead and freezing. Instead of baking, wrap in aluminum foil and place in the freezer. To reheat, place frozen pies in a cool oven and bring up to temperature and cook until bubbling. Alternatively, let the pies defrost in the fridge overnight and then cook in a hot oven.
http://www.alotofyum.com/mini-fish-pies/

 

 

 

Grain Free Carrot & Orange Muffins

So the boys slept for 2.5 hours today!  And what did I do? I’d love to say I cleaned all the things that need cleaning or maybe acknowledged the massive pile of laundry that is permanently installed in my hallway, but no.  Instead I binged watched Shameless, had a cup of tea and ate two of these delicious muffins. Sorry not sorry.

Grain Free Carrot & Orange Muffins

As a stay-at-home-mom I make a lot of muffins.  They are easy to make and travel well and something a toddler (and who are we kidding – everyone) always wants to eat.  So when we were following a grain free diet I still wanted to make sure we had some of our favorites to keep us motivated.  Learning to bake with almond and coconut flour has been a bit of a learning curve (ongoing!) but I absolutely love the taste and texture these ingredients give to the finished product.

Grain Free Carrot & Orange MuffinsThis recipe produces a moist and fluffy – almost cake like – muffin.  I love the flavor of orange and carrot together.  Its a classic combination and the added cinnamon really brings out the flavor of the orange.  You can add nuts and/or raisins to this as well for a more traditional carrot cake feel.  If you’re looking for a grain free cupcake recipe, these are a great option as well – just add your favorite frosting.

Grain Free Carrot & Orange Muffins

Grain Free Carrot & Orange Muffins

A new way to enjoy a old favorite.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • zest and juice of one large orange
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrots

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and grease or line your muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (almond flour through nutmeg). Set this aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, honey, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest.
  3. Add the dry mix to the wet mix just until combined and then gently fold in the grated carrots.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the liners and bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. This are best stored in the fridge up to 3 days.
http://www.alotofyum.com/grain-free-carrot-orange-muffins/

 

Blue Cheese Tartiflette

If you are on a low-fat diet, look away now. Or don’t. But I warn you, once you read what’s below, you won’t be able to resist.  And how can you.  I mean I’m talking bacon, cheese, cream, potatoes.

Blue Cheese Tartiflette

With all this horrible cold, wet and windy weather, I was craving something warm and comforting.  I first came across this recipe in Delicious Magazine. A Tartiflette is a very traditional French dish made with Reblochon cheese.  I, however, mix it up and do mine with a soft blue cheese. I also add a few other less traditional ingredients like dried herbs, mushrooms and courgette.  For some reason if I add a few vegetables I feel a whole lot better about consuming all that yummy cheesy, creamy, bacony goodness. This is also a great meal to make with leftovers from a roast chicken dinner – using the leftover chicken and even the leftover vegetables!

Blue Cheese Tartiflette

So with the twins fully entrenched in some serious train track building, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite comfort foods.

P.S My mouth is already watering…

Blue Cheese Tartiflette

Blue Cheese Tartiflette

A new take on a traditional French Classic

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts or the leftovers from a roasted chicken - shredded
  • 3-4 medium sized waxy potatoes sliced thin
  • 200g of smoked bacon - I used traditional French Lardons
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 courgette - sliced thin
  • 200g of chestnut mushrooms - sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons of flour (or you can use arrowroot powder for grain/gluten free)
  • 250g of soft blue cheese chopped
  • 200ml of chicken stock
  • 200ml of double cream
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C and grease a roasting dish.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the bacon.
  3. Cook the bacon until it just starts to crisp up. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the onion to the frying pan and cook until soft.
  5. Once soften, add the herbs, mushrooms and courgette and again, cook until they start to soften. Once softened, add the bacon back in and sprinkle over the flour. Mix to combine. Take of the heat and set aside.
  6. If you don't have any leftover chicken, poach the chicken breasts in a pot of stock for about 10-15 minutes. Take the chicken out and shred.
  7. Add your potatoes to the pot of stock (or a pot of boiling water) and cook for 5 minutes, then drain. Mix together the chicken stock, cream and a dash of salt and pepper.
  8. Now you're ready to assemble. I like to do two layers. First some potatoes, then veg, then chicken, liquid and 1/3 of your cheese. Repeat one more time then cover the whole top in a layer of potatoes.
  9. Put in the oven and cook for 40 minutes until the potatoes are nice and brown. Add the remaining 1/3 cheese to the top with 15 minutes left.
  10. Remove from the oven and ideally let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it
http://www.alotofyum.com/blue-cheese-tartiflette/

Although I’ve never been able to wait – but when you go back for seconds the sauce will have thickened up a bit and taste even better.  This is just as delicious the next day.

Blue Cheese Tartiflette