May 4, 2011

On Tofu and Chocolate

Filed under: Dessert,Main Dishes,Recipes,Uncategorized — pyjamasandtea @ 3:08 pm
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Not necessarily combined, mind you.

Sorry for my delinquent posting of late. I’ll get on that, promise!  In the meantime though, I offer what I made for dinner last night.  YUM.

Cynthia’s Tofu

This is called “Cynthia’s Tofu” because it is a recipe carefully preserved during his separation by my love and mastered by his ex-sis-in-law.  It is one of those very imprecise recipes with words like “lots of” or “bunches of” or cook for “a while”.  I tried to pay attention last night and offer you a somewhat more precise version that keeps all the charm of its original.  This is delicious!

2 cakes of extra firm tofu

one bunch of cilantro

5 tbsp of oyster sauce

vegetable oil (lots!) for frying

Place tofu in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Gently remove from water and refrigerate til chilled (at least two hours or overnight). Slice into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes and brown in lots of hot vegetable oil. This takes about 10-15 minutes and requires lots of careful flipping of the pieces so they brown on all sides. Be vigilant. It is worth the effort! Pour off excess oil, then add oyster sauce and LOTS of cilantro (it may seem excessive to include a whole bunch, but it is worth it). I served this with an Asian-inspired salad and simple coconut rice. It served 2 healthy portions for dinner with one leftover lunch. Excellent!

And then, after already feeling stuffed, I brewed up some mint tea and ate a large “Knock You Naked Brownie” from Ree Drummond at “The Pioneer Woman” website.

TO DIE FOR. Two notes about this recipe. First, I could not find a German Chocolate cake mix– two different grocery stores had no record of such a mix. I substituted a Swiss Chocolate cake mix on the theory that the Swiss and the Germans are geographically close. It worked just fine. Second, I could not get my top brownie layer to cooperate in being moved from counter to cake, so I simply laid out the pieces on top in a puzzle-like fashion. There were some gaps, but they all filled in perfectly during the baking process. Next time I wouldn’t be so fussy about the top layer.

You must go make these!  My love pronounced them possibly the best dessert he has ever had.


April 10, 2011

Scallops and Shrimp with Sherry Paprika Sauce

Filed under: Recipes,Seafood — pyjamasandtea @ 3:17 pm
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This sauce is absolute heaven.  I am  now pondering all the different ways I can make use of it, for it is truly wonderful!
Scallops and Shrimp with Sherry Paprika Sauce

2/3 cup drained and chopped jarred roasted red peppers (while I imagine one could use homemade roasted peppers here, there is something about the jarring process that really pops the flavour)

1/3 cup dry sherry

2 tbsp 10% cream

2 tsp smoked sweet paprika (I just used regular paprika, but if I could find the fancy stuff, I have a feeling it would really add something here)

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (I did go to the trouble of using fresh and it is totally worth it)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

16 sea scallops

10 oz of large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a blender or food processor, puree the peppers, sherry, cream, paprika, salt and pepper.  Remove tough muscle from scallops and pat scallops and shrimp dry.  In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat.  Cook garlic until softened but not browned.  Add scallops and shrimp and cook over high heat, stirring, til shrimp begins to pink.  Stir in pepper mixture.  Cover and cook until shrimp are pink and scallops are opaque, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

The recipe is designed to make four servings, but my love and I polished off the whole thing!  I served it on brown jasmine rice.  You definitely need something to catch the sauce, it is so good.  It looks like a tomato sauce so the flavours are unexpected.  The rosemary is wonderful.  Enjoy!

April 8, 2011

Gingerbread Pancakes

Filed under: Breakfast and Brunch,Recipes — pyjamasandtea @ 7:43 am
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I promised the recipe to these a while ago when I was embroiled in Pancake Hilarity.  I have since liberated the cookbook from which this recipe springs– an old one called “On the Road to Vegetarian Cooking”.  Shhhh…. don’t tell anyone I am serving these with bacon.  The spice quantities here seem reckless but they really work so don’t mess with them!
Gingerbread Pancakes

Beat together:

3 eggs

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp molasses  (I have sometimes (like today) used 4 tbsp of honey when I don’t have molasses at hand.  Which is usually how things are.)


1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 to 2/3 cup water or soymilk.  (I never have soymilk so I use regular milk).

1/3 cup brewed coffee (this really adds something special to the flavours).

In a separate bowl combine:

1 cup white flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp allspice or cloves

1 tbsp cinnamon (yep tablespoons from here on in!)

1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tbsp ground nutmeg

Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing just until combined.


4 tbsp sunflower or other light oil and stir briefly.

Add more liquid by the spoonful if needed. Batter will be thick.  Ladle about 1/3 cup per pancake on a griddle.  When air bubbles have formed, then burst, flip to brown on the other side.  Serve with syrup.  Makes 8-10 hefty pancakes.


March 14, 2011

Duck (or Shrimp) Thai Curry

Filed under: Recipes,Seafood — pyjamasandtea @ 8:00 am
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I made this for dinner last night with rave reviews.  My love, he raved.  I made it with shrimp, though the original recipe calls for duck.  I have included both options below.  I expect this will be even better today since we were too hungry to cook it for the required “sauce infusing and thickening” time.  I suspect the effort required to be patient may be marginally worth it here.

Duck or Shrimp Thai Curry

3 whole Boneless Duck Breasts, Fat On If Desired  OR 1 pound of large shrimp
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
6 Tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste (storebought Or Homemade)(I used storebought and it was just fine)
1-½ can (14 Ounce) Coconut Milk (I suspect you could use a low fat variety without losing any flavour)
2 cups Hot Water
4 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (I didn’t want to open my new bottle so close to the move date so I omitted this– and it was still delicious)
3 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Ginger (don’t skimp on the ginger– it really adds a nice kick)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (additional)
½ whole Red Onion, Sliced
1 whole Green Or Red Bell Pepper, Cored And Sliced
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
½ whole Pineapple, Cut Into Chunks (can Use Canned Pineapple)
LOTS Of Fresh Basil, Chopped
Jasmine Rice Cooked (I used brown jasmine rice and it was perfect)
Preparation Instructions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place duck breasts fat side down and cook for several minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden brown. (Don’t worry about cooking the duck at this point. You just want to give the skin some great color.) Remove from the skillet and cut into slices. Set aside.

OR for shrimp curry:  Omit above step and cook shrimp with vegetables after they are beginning to soften.

Reduce heat to medium low. If oil isn’t overly brown, go ahead and add the minced garlic to the pan. (If oil is to brown, pour it off and add some new oil.) Add red Thai curry paste to the pan and stir. Cook paste for several minutes to release the flavors. Pour in the coconut milk, hot water, fish sauce, and minced ginger. Stir and allow to cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.  (This was the step I rushed and I think the flavours will really meld nicely if you are more patient than I was).

In a separate pan heat oil over medium high heat. Add sliced onions and bell pepper and cook for several minutes. Make sure the pan is hot, then add sliced duck (or shrimp) and stir. Cook for 3 to 4  minutes.

Add pineapple and cherry tomatoes. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Taste curry sauce, which should be slightly thickened by now. Add more spice if needed.

Pour curry sauce into the pot with the veggies and duck. Stir to combine and allow to bubble and simmer for a good 5 to 10 minutes. Add a little hot water if it seems too thick, or allow to bubble longer if it needs more thickening. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

At the last minute, stir in lots of chopped basil. Serve immediately over jasmine rice. Spoon plenty of sauce into the bowl!


March 6, 2011

Pancake Hilarity

Filed under: Breakfast and Brunch,Recipes — pyjamasandtea @ 9:08 am
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Pancake Tuesday is this week!  Hooray!  I was thrilled to inform my Jewish kids that Tuesday we can eat pancakes for dinner.  I have no idea why, but who am I to question a higher power who decrees we must eat pancakes?  I remember going to church basement pancake parties as a kid, and would blame that tradition for encouraging my sweets for dinner, except that I know that sweet tooth was put there by the higher pancake power.

My kids think it quite hilarious to have a designated pancake eating day.  I let myself give in to 7 year old humour and played the “what if pancake tuesday was on wednesday, what would happen then” game.  Secretly though, I fear that chaos.

I am making Carrot Cake Pancakes this Tuesday.  I offer that recipe below.  First though, this morning’s pancake production is my usual Sunday-Blueberry-Bonanza.  I make enough batter to get us through Monday too, on the theory that Monday mornings are bbbbaaaadddd and require a little cheer to get me up.  My favourite pancakes in the world are “Gingerbread Pancakes”.  That recipe is being held hostage by my ex, but I hope to liberate it on moving day, March 23rd, when I am finally reunited with my beloved things.  Stay tuned and I will post it!

So first the Bluebs, then the carrots.  Happy Pancake Week everyone!!



1 cup unbleached white flour (I actually use 1/2 whole wheat flour.  I am, one in a while, healthy!)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 cup quick cooking oats (I use regular oats and love the texture)


1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsps maple syrup or sugar

loads and loads of blueberries (for those of you who like precise measurements, I apologize.  My love asks that the pancake batter be a mere tool to hold the blueberries together. So “loads” is about as precise as I can be.)

Note:  My kids aren’t so crazy about blueberry pancakes.  For them, I mash a banana into the wet ingredients (hidden!), leave out the blueberries, and sprinkle a half-dozen chocolate chips onto each pancake before flipping it.

Stir together the dry ingredients.  Stir together the wet ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry.  Voila!  Do not over mix.  Heat your griddle to a high temperature.  A sprinkle of water on the grill should dance and immediately evaporate.  Use about 1/4 cup for each pancake and cook until bubbles form on the surface.  This usually only takes 2-3 minutes.  Flip once.  Serve hot with lots of maple syrup.  (And bacon.  Always bacon.)  This recipe makes about 8 pancakes.  I double it for Monday-Madness-Pancakes.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

1-¼ cup flour (you should use 1/2 whole wheat here, but since these are special occasion pancakes, feel free to use unbleached white flour.  But don’t use the bleached variety please cuz bleaching flour is just wrong.)

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (the recipe actually called for “ground cinnamon” but I figured you knew that.  Right?  I mean, without the word “ground” you wouldn’t throw in a cinnamon stick, would you?)

¼ tsp salt

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg (I left the word “ground” in here just in case.)

⅛ tsp ground cloves (again.  “ground”.)

⅛ tsp ground ginger (do people actually get confused and use whole spices?  Really?)

¼ cup light brown sugar, Packed

¾ cup lowfat buttermilk  (I don’t usually have buttermilk on hand, so I use 3/4 cup of milk into which I stir 3/4 tbsp of vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.  I don’t know why I do this– but I have always done it in recipes that call for buttermilk so I think there must be a reason.)

1 tbsp canola oil

1-½ tsps vanilla extract

2 whole Eggs

2 cups Finely Grated Carrot (about 1 Pound)

Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in the grated carrot.

Get your griddle nice and hot. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Use about 1/4 cup per pancake.  Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook for 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned.

I intend to serve this with a little cream cheese icing.  For that I will beat a package of cream cheese into creamy submission, add about a 1/2 cup of icing sugar and a little milk to make it pourable.



March 5, 2011

Creamy Shrimp and Rice

Filed under: Recipes,Seafood — pyjamasandtea @ 1:23 pm
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It is pouring rain.  Think water, think things that live in water, think shrimp!  Or so it goes for me.

Creamy Shrimp and Rice

2 servings of cooked rice (I love Jasmine Brown Rice but be daring…choose your rice with abandon)

2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp minced onion

2 cups of zucchini, peeled and shredded (note:  I never peel it.  Why on earth would you? Why take an easy recipe and make it hard?)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 pound small/medium shrimp

Melt butter in a frying pan.  Add onion and cook until clear but not browned.  Add garlic and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.  Cut cream cheese into small pieces and add to pan, stirring constantly.  Add parmesan cheese.  Add shrimp and cook til opaque.  Serve over rice.  Delicious!



February 23, 2011

Lemony-Lentil Soup

Filed under: Recipes,Soup — pyjamasandtea @ 1:00 pm
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I am making “Lemony-Lentil Soup” tonight for dinner.  I love the word “lemony”.  When combined with the word “lentil”, this recipe just makes me smile for the saying of it.

I started by making a homemade lemongrass stock.  I always wonder whether homemade stocks are worth the effort, and I can’t help feeling like it is a waste to throw out all those stock vegetables after I am done with them.  The soup recipe called for chicken stock but I thought this might be better.

Lemongrass Stock

6 cups water

3 fresh lemongrass stalks, coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 leek or onion, coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (why do I have to peel it?  I wonder.)

3 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced (the ginger makes this oh-so-yummy)

1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp salt (I leave this out.  I’m just crazy like that)

1/2 tsp coriander seeds (optional)(I add these.  But what does coriander taste like?)

In a large soup pot, combine all these ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for 35-45 minutes.


Lemony-Lentil Soup (I dare you to say that without smiling)

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

pinch chile flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed

6 cups stock (the recipe above will make about 4 cups of stock.  I will supplement with water.  I’m just crazy like that)

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp cilantro

Heat oil.  Add onion, garlic and chile flakes.  Cook on low for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add cumin and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in lentils.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and soup begins to thicken (about 25 to 30 minutes).  Puree all or part or none as you wish.  Add lemon juice and sprinkle with cilantro.



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