Tag Archives: daring

Daring Nut Butt

Rice Noodle Salad with Thai-style Cashew sauce and Shrimp

This month, we dare to make our own nut butters, and use them in a savoury dish. I’ve done the peanut sauce thing before, and have used ground almonds to thicken curries (almost counts as a nut butter… almost more of a nut flour, but close enough!). I’m totally open to having a nutty dinner.

Being busy as I have been lately, I took the path of least resistance and used cashew butter in a Thai-inspired noodle salad (one of the recommended recipes). I know I should have picked something a little more challenging for myself, but how could I resist a simple meal that was destined to be amazing?

Amazing it was. I am a sucker for this kind of thing.

Daring Cashew Butter and Roasted Cashews

Daring Cashew Butter and Roasted Cashews

First, I had to make the cashew butter. I figured it would taste that much better if I roasted the cashews first, so I quickly pan roasted them. Some of the oils escaped in the roasting, so I had to add some vegetable oil when I made the butter. My trusty food processor was great at grinding up the cashews, but they needed the extra oil to come together properly and form a paste. I probably would have thinned it out a little more but I knew I was making a sauce next, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

I decided to follow the sauce recipe as closely as possible. I was tempted to add some of the things I add to my own sauce, like keffir lime leaf, but I stayed pretty true to the recipe. What’s the point in remaking my own sauce recipes over again? I wanted to try something new. I chickened out about the amount of garlic, though. As much as I love garlic, 8 cloves sounded a little bit steep. I used 4, and it was plenty garlicky enough.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

Recipe after the jump!

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Go Team Steph! Daring Pâté and Bread

Trout and Shrimp Pâté round

I have a bit of a history with pâté. Growing up German, I ate loads of Braunschweiger, which may be a liverwurst and not technically “pâté” per se… but kinda is pâté in its spreadable variations. I used to gross out my friends, who were normal and didn’t eat weird things like Braunschweiger.

One time in grade school, in particular, I had spooned some into a little lunch container and packed it with some crackers. Knowing what it was, and that people thought it was gross, I showed my friend Heather. She just smiled and made yummy actions. Confused, I asked her if she ate Braunchweiger… also confused, she told me she had thought it was chocolate ice cream. I totally grossed her out by telling her what it actually was. I never did figure out how she thought I kept the ice cream frozen in my bag.

Braunschweiger is one of the weirdest meat things that I missed when I stopped eating meat.

Raw Trout and Shrimp

Raw Trout and Shrimp

I can’t say I’ve tried to replace Braunschweiger with something veg. I sampled a couple of vegetarian pâtés at the Veggie Food Fair, but I never really felt the need to buy them. Now that I am an occasional meat eater, I haven’t jumped at the chance to have meat pâté again.

Not sure why, but it just hasn’t been on my radar.

Then I got the Daring Cooks‘ challenge for June. Make a pâté –  and like it! I chose to make the trout and shrimp pâté partly because it’s made up of seafood, and partly because the description claimed it was passed down through a variety of nameless people, and possibly their grandmas and their grandma’s neighbours or something. I like recipes that just randomly work their way through people.

Sourdough Ciabatta, with Vinifera

Sourdough Ciabatta, made with Vinifera flour

The second part of this challenge is to make a bread, which is where the “Team Stephfood” silliness comes in. J is the bread maker in the house, and I’m very happy to leave that to him. We opted to complete this challenge together. For his part, he made a ciabatta bread with his sourdough starter and Vinifera flour. Vinifera is neat, because it’s made from the skins of grapes. It imparts a purplish hue (depending on how much you use, and what you mix with it), and adds a tart flavour.

Trout and Shrimp Pâté on Sourdough Ciabatta, with Vinifera

Trout and Shrimp Pâté on Vinifera Sourdough Ciabatta

The bread was amazing, and added some complexity to the pairing. The pâté was very mild, and I thought it needed some extra zazz. The bread definitely helped with that.

I enjoyed this challenge. It wasn’t something I would have looked for on my own, which makes it a good challenge for me. I don’t know for sure that I will make this regularly, but we thought it was tasty and different. It definitely goes well with our ‘spread’ dinners.

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

Daring Crab Enchilladas

Crab Enchiladas with Ancho Salsa

Time for my third Daring Cooks challenge!!

This month’s challenge was exactly what I had been looking for…. yummy Mexican food! Toronto doesn’t have many great Mexican restaurants, unfortunately. There are a couple… and we had one that I really liked that closed a couple of years ago. Booo!

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.

Poblanos and Tomatillos

Fresh Poblano peppers and Tomatillos

The challenge recipe was for chicken enchiladas, and of course I had to modify the recipe and swap out the chicken. I chose to make crab enchiladas instead, after a dish that I had in California and haven’t had since. These were not going to be “crab” enchiladas, but contain nice chunks of King crab. I bought some crab legs, pulled out the meat for the enchiladas and used the shells to make the broth.

The enchilada sauce was really simple to make, but required some items that I couldn’t find in the grocery store. I ventured out to Kensington Market, where Mexican shops carry almost everything a silly Canadian girl could want… except for the Anaheim chiles. It’s ok – I got Poblanos instead. I think I secretly wanted to have to get Poblanos, after watching a show on Chile Rellenos. (I think that might be my next Mexican challenge! Yumyum!). I also got a hand full of lovely green tomatillos. These are so nice to look at (and photograph), and have a crazy tartness that you can’t get from a red tomato. The peppers and tomatillos were roasted in the oven first, the peppers were skinned and seeded and all of the ingredients were blended together.

Roasted Poblanos and Tomatillos

Oven roasted Poblano peppers and Tomatillos

Realizing how simple this was, I adapted this process to make my ancho salsa. I roasted some red tomatoes and onions, and soaked and de-seeded some dried ancho peppers. I blended it all (pulsing, rather than pureeing… I wanted to keep some of the texture). I added  a touch of ground chipotle pepper at the end, for some smokiness. SOOOO GOOOD!

Another “secret ingredient” was some crumbled queso fresco… it doesn’t melt like other cheeses, so I used a few different cheeses in this dish. Queso fresco is a fresh cheese, like Indian Paneer, so it has a bit of a grit and chew to it that is unlike other kinds of cheeses. I think this cheese is the reason you see feta sprinkled on Mexican dishes sometimes… feta is one of the closest common cheeses, when comparing flavour (saltiness) and melting properties.

This dish did take some time to make, considering the broth, roasting of peppers, assembly and baking. It would be considerably less time if I did some of these things in advance… so really not a bad dish to make when you’re having company over! We thought it looked – and tasted – really impressive.

Hm, I even think I managed to make this one totally Gluten Free! You could also make this vegetarian by substituting the seafood stock for veg, and the crab meat for either some faux meat, or some nice roasted vegetables. Maybe even beans?

Crab Enchiladas - oven

Four crab enchiladas – fresh out of the oven!

Crab, Shrimp & Veg Stock


  • 2 Tbsp oil + butter (I used 1 Tbsp of each, but you can mix it how you like. The butter adds a nice warm flavour)
  • 1 med onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2-4 loose cups of “frozen veggie bits” (see note below)
  • shells from 1LB of shrimp
  • shells from 1.5lb of king crab legs (or equivalent)
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp small whole black peppercorns
  • 8-10 cups of water


  • Crab – I’m not sure how you get crab where you live, but I started with frozen pre-steamed crab legs. If you get them fresh, you’ll want to cook them first. If you can’t get whole legs, feel free to use lump crab or canned. If you get the pre-cooked frozen crab, I would advise against steaming the legs whole – just thaw, pull crab meat out, so the only cooking will happen in the oven when assembled in the enchilada. You don’t want overcooked crab.
  • Frozen Veggie bits – If you read my blog regularly, you probably saw a post about this a week or so ago. If not, ‘frozen veggie bits’ is a bag of bits that I cut off of my vegetables when preparing them for dinner and then freeze for use in stocks. These are not rotten vegetable parts, but maybe a little drier bits, or stems, or the bits that you might not want to include in the dish. For me, this includes herb stems, mushroom stems, broccoli stalks, bits of pepper that are close to the membrane or stem, carrot peels, etc. etc.


  1. Heat the oil/butter in a stock pot over medium heat , until it has coated the bottom.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and golden. You’ll be able to smell when it is ready.
  3. Add the veg bits, shrimp and crab shells, and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 1 hour.

Daring Crab Enchiladas

(with Steph’s substitutions)


  • 1½ pounds Poblano chiles (about 6 medium) – roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely.
  • 7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium) – peel, remove stems
  • 4 cups broth (see above for the recipe I used)
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
  • Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
  • Crab meat, from 1.5 lb of crab legs (shells removed, presumably these are pre-cooked and frozen crab legs)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
  • 6 ounces grated cheese, I used a combination of jalapeno havarti, sharp cheddar and queso fresco
  • Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional


Roasting Fresh Chiles and Tomatillos

  1. Coat each chile and tomatillo with a little vegetable oil. Lay them on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
  2. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove the chilis to one bowl and the tomatillos to a second bowl and cover with plastic. Let them rest until they are cool. Put the tomatillos aside for now.
  3. To de-seed the chiles, pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds.
  4. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.

Green Chile Sauce

  1. Take the roasted tomatillos and puree in a blender or food processor.
  2. Put the puréed tomatillos in a saucepan along with the broth, chopped and roasted green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Crab Enchiladas

  1. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
  2. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
  3. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
  5. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
  6. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
  7. Divide half the crab meat among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
  8. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the crab meat, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
  9. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
  10. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  11. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

Daring (New) Brunswick Stew

(New) Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I opted to make a variation on the first recipe given. I usually don’t eat meat, so this dish posed quite a challenge for me. I think there were three or four different kinds of meat in the recipe… I replaced all of the meat with shrimps and seitan, the broth with a vegetable/shrimp broth. Since this likely changed the flavour quite a bit, I’ve jokingly labelled my variation of the recipe (New) Brunswick Stew. Any Canadians reading this will get the New Brunswick/seafood reference… right? (I’m sure there is nothing specifically New Brunswick about it. I just wanted a cute title).

I started by making a broth, which I based on one I got from a Seafood Gumbo recipe I plan to try eventually. I also had to make some seitan, a vegetarian meat substitute made with wheat gluten (sorry, GF folks!). Both of these things added to the cooking time, since I had to make them from scratch.

Next, I fried up some chile peppers. I got some fun dried chiles called Chilhuacle Negro that have a medium heat (5/10). I’m pretty new to chiles, so I didn’t want to get any that were too hot. That said, I should have kept some of the seeds in for a little more heat. This was where the excitement starts – the smell of the peppers and the oil in the pan are heavenly!

Chilhuacle Negro

Chilhuacle Negro

Here is what the stew looked like in the early stages – the seitan is still in large chunks (to be sliced into thin strips in a later stage). While the broth started off looking quite red (from the chile peppers and the smoked paprika), it mellowed into a nice warm golden colour by the end.

(New) Brunswick Stew - in progress

(New) Brunswick Stew – in progress

Here is the final product, and the shot that everyone on Daring Cooks seems to be doing – the standing spoon shot. This came from the original recipe. To describe the texture of the finished stew, they said that Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”. Everyone has been doing their version of this shot, so I felt obliged to do the same. It was a hearty hearty stew, but the broth was not too thick and gloopy.

(New) Brunswick Stew - Standing Spoon

(New) Brunswick Stew – Standing Spoon

In the end, the stew turned out great! It was a bit of a challenge deciding what to use instead of meat, but I think the seitan worked wonderfully! This is definitely something I wouldn’t have known to seek out, and there’s no doubt I’ll be making this again.

Recipe after the jump.

Continue reading Daring (New) Brunswick Stew