Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gingerbread Cake & WÜSTHOF Knife Giveaway

By: The Food Hunter

Think about it most knives get used several times per day. In fact, it's rare to prepare a meal and not use a knife. Since I cook a lot you can imagine how many times knives are used at my house and how many knives I've collected over the years. In practicality though, I could live with three knives. If forced to choose three, I would pick:

WÜSTHOF CLASSIC Extra Wide Chef set (2 knives)
WÜSTHOF CLASSIC Serrated Slicing knife

The CLASSIC set includes a 4 inch wide pairing knife which is perfect for small kitchen tasks, think peeling and cutting thinks like apples, garlic and potatoes. Also included in the set is a 6 inch wide cooks knife. This larger, heavier knife is a multi-use knife great for chopping. Together they are essential knives for the home cook.

My third knife, the WÜSTHOF Serrated slicing knife, is a sleek knife with a comfortable handle that effortlessly slices through meat, bread and even thick skinned produce. It is a versatile knife that cuts clean and smooth every time. WÜSTHOF knives are known for strength and durability. All three of these knives are precision forged from one solid piece of steal making them ideal for all kitchen tasks.

So there you have it...the three knives I couldn't live without!

***Want to try them for yourself? The nice folks at WÜSTHOF are giving one lucky reader the chance to win all 3 knives. Find out more below.***

But first here's a delicious recipe perfect for the holidays. This moist almond rich gingerbread loaf cake makes a great addition to your baking rotation this season. Serve it with a cold glass of milk or a steamy cup of coffee to enhance the classic holiday flavors.

Almond Gingerbread Loaf
1 1/4cups cake flour
3/4 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60ml) dark molasses
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1-2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Whisk together the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Place butter in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and alternately incorporate the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Remove half of the batter and transfer to another bowl. Stir the vanilla extract into one half of the batter and the molasses and spices into the other. Pour one half of the batter into the prepared pan. Pour the other half on top. Using a paring knife swirl the batters together to get a marbled effect. Tap the pan gently once or twice on the work surface to remove any air bubbles.

Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan over a wire rack for 15-20 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack to cool completely.

Slice using a WÜSTHOF Serrated slicing knife.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the following Virtual Potluck Blogs for more chances to win:

WÜSTHOF provided me with a CLASSIC Two Piece Extra Wide Chef Set and a CLASSIC 5″ Serrated Slicer for review purposes plus a second set of knives to give away. All opinions are my own. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

All-In-One Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Pie!

By: The Food Hunter

The only thing better than having a pumpkin, pecan and chocolate pie on your holiday table is having one pie that combines all three. Which is exactly what I made for the Kerrygold  & King Arthur flour November pie challenge.

I took my favorite three holiday pie flavors and made them into one decadent dessert. I topped a chocolate crust with a creamy pumpkin pie and a layer of sticky praline like pecans. The result was out of this world delicious.

The idea of combing these three desserts has been on my mind for some time now and I'm glad this challenge finally gave me an excuse to make it a reality. There's no longer a need to make three separate pies to please your holiday guests. This one dessert does it all.

All -In-One Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pie Crust
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup almond flour (I used King Arthur)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerrygold)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until lift and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg and vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients just enough to form a soft dough.

Scrape the dough not a large sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a disk, and wrap it tightly. Chill the dough until it is firm enough to roll, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pumpkin filling
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch pie plate.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, for 2 minutes. Leave the filling in the processor for the moment.

Pecan topping
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used Kerrygold)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves, toasted

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients except the pecans together until smooth. Add Pecans.

To assemble pie
Roll out chocolate crust and place in prepared pie plate.

Pour the pumpkin filling into the prepared pie crust. Top evenly with the pecan mixture. Spread the pecans as evenly as possible.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes, or until it is set and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Le French Oven & Le Creuset Review & Giveaway

By: The Food Hunter

Le French Oven by Hillary Davis is a beautiful informative cookbook on how to cook authentic French food in a French/Dutch oven. Hillary takes you through the pros and cons of using a French/Dutch oven and tells you how to choose the perfect oven for your meal.

If you love beautiful cookbooks with lots of gorgeous photos this cookbook is for you. There are nearly 80 recipes that all include a short introduction with history and some suggestions on ingredient swaps and serving ideas. The recipes are grouped according to cooking method; braising, baking, stewing and roasting to name a few. The cookbook is perfect for both the novice and more advanced home chef, and would make a fabulous holiday gift for just about anyone on your list. Don't have a French/Dutch worries these recipes can also be done in a deep oven-proof skillet or oven-proof soup pot.

But wait....this may be your lucky day! The Virtual Potluck team has partnered with Le Creuset to give one reader a chance to win a Le Creuset Dutch oven along with a copy of this wonderful book. When it comes to French ovens Le Creuset is the brand that comes to my mind first. They are known throughout the world for their quality colorfully-enameled cast-iron cookware and bakeware.  If you have a piece of Le Creuset in your kitchen you know how awesome they are...if you don't I suggest entering the contest below!!

There were so many delicious recipes in this book, choosing only one to make was very difficult. I finally decided to try the Lemon Braised Chicken with Green Olives. The finished product is fork tender chicken with a tasty gravy that pairs perfectly with pasta or egg noodles. It's a wonderful meal to serve for guests and something the entire family will love.

Lemon Braised Chicken with Green Olives
 (adapted from Le French Oven)

8 boneless chicken thighs with skin on
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small onion, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery with leaves, sliced
10 large cloves garlic, divided
5 tablespoons (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons (15 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (480 ml) dry white wine
2 cups (480 ml) chicken stock
1/2 small organic lemon, sliced paper thin and then into fingernail-size pieces
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stemmed and leaves minced, divided
1 large tomato, sliced into small dice, reserving seeds and juice
8 ounces pitted whole green olives

Pat chicken thighs very dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.

Place the onion, carrot, celery and leaves, and 2cloves garlic into the food processor. Pulse vegetables until finely chopped.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in the French oven over medium heat. Place the chicken in, skin side down, and brown until golden and crispy, for about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Pour remaining oil into the French oven and heat over medium heat to shimmering hot. Add the vegetables from the food processor and stir while cooking for 6 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir while cooking for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stock, bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken, remaining garlic, lemon, and half of the rosemary and cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken thighs over and cook for another 10 minutes, or until they are tender. Cook a few minutes longer, if needed.

If you would like a thicker sauce, use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken and garlic to a plate. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook to reduce to the consistency you like. Put everything back in the sauce.

Stir in the remaining rosemary, tomatoes with their seeds and juice, and whole olives. Stir and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, if needed. Gently reheat the dish. Serve over noodles, rice or pasta.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli for #SundaySupper

By: The Food Hunter

Beans, both dried & canned, are an important ingredient when it comes to creating delicious budget friendly meals. Using beans instead of more expensive proteins is the ideal way to nourish your family with a hearty and tasty meal at half the cost.

Pasta e Fagioli is a soup I grew up eating. If you search the internet you will find there are many different ways to prepare this mouthwatering soup so have fun with the recipe below adding or subtracting to make it your own.

Pasta e Fagioli
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, small diced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cans whole tomatoes, crushed
1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight or 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 bay leaves
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, or 1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 cups ditalini pasta
1 small bunch kale, chopped
salt & pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and rosemary, cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the beans, 2 quarts water, bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 30 mins.

Uncover and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the kale and cook about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook about 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and cheese rind. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Save-Your-Pennies Soups: Bean and Bacon Soup by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks Mexican Turkey Bean Soup by What Smells So Good? Pasta e Fagioli by The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine Turkey and Dumpling Soup by Palatable Pastime Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup by Pancake Warriors

Budget-Savvy Bread and Salads: Mom’s Buttermilk Biscuits by Grumpy's Honeybunch Turkey Salad by Food Done Light

Money-Saving Mains: Black Bean and Bell Pepper Quesadillas by My San Francisco Kitchen Cajun Blackened Chicken Thighs by Feeding Big Chicken Enchilada Casserole by Cosmopolitan Cornbread Chicken Enchiladas by The Freshman Cook Chicken Piccata by Monica's Table Chicken Tetrazzini by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures Chimichurri Chicken Thighs by Life Tastes Good Dutch Baby Pancakes by Brunch with Joy Easy Cheesy Egg Breakfast Bake with Potatoes and Sausage by From Gate to Plate [or breakfast] Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes Egyptian Rice and Lentils by Wholistic Woman French Onion Soup Twice Baked Potato by Sew You Think You Can Cook Gnocchi with Fennel and Pork by Caroline's Cooking Italian Baked Chicken by A Day in the Life on the Farm Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash by Cupcakes & Kale Chips One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Orzo with Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potatoes by Cooking Chat Sauteed Vegetables by Party Food and Entertaining Turkey Sausage and Pasta by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings Twice Baked Sweet Potato Bar by Momma's Meals Yakisoba (Japanese Stir Fried Noodles) by Curious Cuisinere

Don't-break-the-bank Desserts: Apple Pecan Bread Pudding by That Skinny Chick Can Bake Marshmallow Popcorn Balls by Pies and Plots Slow Cooker Apple Gingerbread Crumble by The Crumby Cupcake

And more saving suggestions from the Sunday Supper Movement: Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas for #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

How to Eat A Healthy Lunch Every Day

By: The Food Hunter

It might take a little planning on your part, but bringing a healthy homemade lunch to work every day is not impossible. What helps make it easy is having a fully stocked kitchen. Having all of your favorite good for you foods, along with storage containers for transporting, available is the first step to making sure you eat healthy.

A healthy stocked pantry can include the follow items:

1. Whole grains such as 100 % whole wheat bread, quinoa or barley.
2. Low sodium canned beans to make healthy dips or spreads.
3. Portable fruit such as apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes.
4. Mixed leafy greens, like spinach, kale or lettuce for salads or to add to sandwiches.
5. Eggs; hard boiled in advance make a quick snack.
6. Pre-sliced cheese.
7. Unsalted nuts.
8. Homemade granola.
9. Plain Greek yogurt.
10. Fresh pre-cut vegetables like carrots, celery, snap peas and bell peppers
11. Olive oil & balsamic vinegar to make healthy dressings.
12. Lemons to flavor water.
13. Mustard for sandwich spread.
14. Avocados

A couple tips to make the process easier:

1. Prepare your lunch menu on the weekends. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and ready to go.
2. You can also batch cook on the weekend. Prepare soups, salads, dressings, and veggies in advance.
3. Packing lunch and snacks the night before so you are not scrambling in the morning.
4. Keep non-perishable snacks at your desk for those days you don't have time to pack. A good example would be whole wheat crackers and nuts.
5. Use small containers to portion out lunches for the entire week. Have them ready to grab-and-go in the morning. Using small containers eliminates the temptation to overeat.

The Arugula & Tomato Grilled Cheese
2 slices whole-grain bread
1 medium tomato, sliced
¼ cup fresh arugula
1 oz Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
1 tsp. butter

1. Spread butter on one side of each piece of bread.
2. Place on slice of bread on a warm skillet face up. Add tomato, arugula, and cheese. Top with other slice of bread, butter side up
3. Cook over medium high heat. 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip, then cook for 3 to 4 more minutes or until cheese has melted.

We’re getting ready for #HealthyLunchDay on November 17th! Join us in encouraging and motivating people to eat healthy! Follow our pinterest board for lots of healthy lunch options.