Bacon Cheddar & Chives Scones // Waking Up Early

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

As Bermuda dips further into fall, the days are getting much shorter and the evenings cooler. What used to be a bright and early rise at 6:00 AM is now dark and quiet, even the feral chicken that roams our property is still fast asleep.  I’m generally a morning person. I’m the type that will get up at the crack of dawn, run 3 miles, check all emails and cook an entire breakfast spread before 9am. But now that little Ollie is around, he pretty much dictates when I’m awake with a loving paw in the face at about quarter to 6. I used to welcome his panting cute head in front of my face, but lately it’s been a real drag to get me out of bed. Sometimes my eyes will open slightly and I’ll see him still snoring away peacefully in the crate. I’ll shut them quickly hoping he didn’t hear me stir, but it’s as if he has a sixth sense! In the next blinking second, there he is pawing at my face to wake up!

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

So for the days that I’m not so chipper in the morning, making a batch of scones and freezing them for later is a great time saver. I’ve honestly never been a huge fan of scones until I tried a savory one from a bakery near my old apartment in Vancouver. The ones I’ve had in the past have been overly sweet, dry and crumbly, but the cheese & green onion scone from Beaucoup Bakery is just divine, moist and full of flavour. And what early meal isn’t complete without some bacon? So here is my go-to recipe for scones: an easy bacon, cheddar and chives recipe that is the perfect pastry for a quick breakfast and those days when you’ve hit the snooze button one too many times.

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

Bacon Cheddar and Chives Scones
adapted from King Arthur Flour 

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
4 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 pound of cooked bacon chopped
1/4 cup of chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
pinch of pepper

Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, and sugar.

Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, with some of the butter remaining in larger pieces.

Mix in the cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.

beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl and then add to the dry mixture. Squeeze and knead dough until it comes together, adding more flour if too tacky or cream if too dry. Transfer the shaggy dough to a well-floured work surface.

Pat the dough into a 7″ disk about ¾” thick. Transfer the disk to the prepared baking sheet.

Use a knife to cut the disk into 8 wedges, spreading the wedges apart a bit on the pan.

Brush the scones with a bit of cream to help brown the crust.

Bake the scones for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool right on the pan before serving warm.

After scones are cool, freeze them in a zip lock bag. To serve, remove and defrost in microwave before slicing and toasting.

 

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew // Hurricane Season in Bermuda

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew

A lot has happened here in the last 2 weeks. I apologize to all, because I skipped out a week on posts! It’s just one of those weeks you know? The main thing that happened was that Bermuda experienced their first hurricane of the year. Hurricane Joaquim (a category 3 hurricane) stormed past just shy of Bermuda on October 4th. Many would think that if a hurricane was making it’s way towards a tiny tropical island, everyone would be panicking; however, Bermuda is always extremely well prepared in dire weather situations like this. Just last year the island survived not one, but two hurricanes in one week!

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew

Thankfully this time around there was no damage to the property we live on. We were the lucky ones and didn’t lose our power and had our Internet running smooth the entire night! It ended up being a lovely night in of pizza and Netflix, even little Ollie barely even noticed the wind blowing outside the door.

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew
Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew

Besides the hurricane, Dan and I both celebrated our birthdays and my dear friend Desiree also got hitched! It was a packed two weeks of cake and a lot of champagne to say the least. I have to admit that I’ve been indulging more than normal lately (I partially blame Dan for his constant need for waffle cones and ice cream after dinner). As Bermuda is dipping into the end of hurricane season, the nights here have considerable cooled down. We can finally wear jeans at night! One of my favourite fall recipes that I always have friends asking for is a curried red lentil and kale stew. It’s my go-to recipe that I make a big batch of when I’m feeling like I need to eat clean for a few days. It’s a perfect meal to start off the week healthy with the protein packed lentils and super food kale. I like to eat it with a big dollop of yogurt on top and a dash of Valentina hot sauce. And if there happens to be a storm brewing outside your door, this soup will definitely keep you warm and cozy.

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew

Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew
a bunch of Kale tough stems removed and roughly chopped
1 cup of dried red lentils rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 large onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 28oz can of whole or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
4 cups chicken or veg stock or more to taste
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (if you like some extra heat)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes and then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook for a few minutes more.

Add the bay leaf and spices and cook until fragrant.

Stir in the can of tomatoes and break them up with a spoon if whole. Add the chicken stock, lentils, and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the lentils are cooked and fluffy about 20-25 min.

Add in the kale and continue to simmer until the kale is cooked. Add more stock or spices to taste. If you wish to have the soup a bit more of a soup consistency, use a hand blender to blend until your liking. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Nut Free Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini

Pesto Lemon Ricotta Crostini

I’ve always dreamed of being able to grow a beautiful garden full of vegetables and herbs that I can pick at my leisure. Being in Bermuda I definitely have the advantage of growing plants year round. Last year I headed to Brighton Nursery and picked out all the seedlings I wanted to grow: 4 types of lettuces, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and all the herbs you would need in a kitchen. I was determined to nurture these babies into healthy plants! At first the jalapeño’s were doing great, I had harvested my first crop of cute little green peppers but the slugs eventually got to them and the happy peppers looked quite sad. The lettuces always tasted bitter and my tomato plants never grew past 2 feet. All the herbs however, great into healthy aromatic bushes! I knew I didn’t have a black thumb…it was more like a brown one!

Pesto Lemon Ricotta Crostini
Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini

So this year, I thought I would up my gardening game and try growing some herbs from seeds. It was like a little science experiment in my kitchen window. I was so excited when I saw the little green spouts emerge from the soil. And because I was 50% sure that this project would survive I sowed way more basil than I really needed to grow. My brown thumb had succeeded again! So currently outside our doorstop in our little Bermuda apartment are giant bushes of healthy green basil plants.

Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini
Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini

Pesto is the obvious choice to me for what to make when you have an abundance of basil. For a while I didn’t even think about making the simple sauce because of Dan’s nut allergy and I just didn’t think it tasted the same without pine nuts. But toasted sunflower seeds turned out to be the perfect alternative. The last few times we’ve had company for dinner I made this easy pesto appetizer and it’s always a hit. The creamy lemony ricotta pairs perfectly with the zesty pesto and the touch of sweetness from the honey ties it all together.

Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini
Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini

Nut Free Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini
2 cups of packed basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
2 cups of whole milk ricotta
drizzle of honey
sea salt
zest of one lemon
crusty baguette

Lightly toast sunflower seeds in a pan until golden. Combine basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and seeds in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until a smooth. Season with sea salt to taste.

Mix ricotta with lemon zest and set aside.

Cut baguette into thin slices and toast lightly. Spoon ricotta onto crostini, top with a dollop of pesto and drizzle the honey over to serve.

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

For most of my childhood the only relationship I had with cauliflower was at holiday meals with my family and it was always served sautéed with an entire can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. It probably was actually a recipe for an easy casserole found on the can label, but somehow got lost in translation with my Chinese mother. So the result was the two ingredients simply heated up and mixed together. Don’t get me wrong, this dish is comfort food for me, it reminds me of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of roast turkey and with sides of BBQ pork and rice.

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Harissa Paste

These days one my favourite way to prepare cauliflower is simply roasting the florets that have been tossed in olive oil and spices. A nod to a restaurant in Vancouver called Nuba, their version called Najib’s Special is deep fried until light and crispy, an appetizer I adored when I frequented their Kitsilano location. My go-to starter for those that are vegetarian/vegan/GF, it’s not overly filling, but is certainly satisfying when shared with friends.

PS: I think the French word for cauliflower sounds beautiful, it’s chou-fleur!

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt 
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon harissa paste
2-3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
a squeeze of lemon juice

Whisk all ingredients together until a smooth consistency in a small bowl.

1 large cauliflower head
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a squeeze of lemon juice
parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 424 degrees. Cut cauliflower into large florets and toss with a few glugs of olive oil, spices, sea salt and pepper. Space the florets evenly on roasting pan. Roast for approximately 20-30 minutes until tender, set under broiler for another few minutes to brown. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley to serve. Drizzle tahini-harissa dressing over cauliflower reserving extra for dipping.

Fried Fish Gua Bao “Sandwich”

Fried Fish Gua Bao
Fried Fish Gua Bao

If there is one thing you have to try while visiting Bermuda, it would definitely be a fish sandwich. Who would ever say no to crispy battered fish, sandwiched between a toasted loaf, dressed with crunchy slaw and creamy tarter? Whenever Dan and I have friends visiting, one of the must-do’s on the list for our guests is to take them to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy for their famous fish sandwich. Piled high with crispy battered fish as tall as a fist, Art Mel’s sandwich really is a sight to see. Even my brother and his fiancée loved it so much they went twice in the week they were visiting.

Fried Fish Gua Bao

Bermudafoodie.com is currently holding an Island wide contest with local restaurants in search of the best fish sandwich. 40 restaurants are participating and if your belt can stay notched in, you have until August 14th to try each one. Needless to say, Bermuda loves their fish sandwiches.

Fried Fish Gua Bao

In honour of Bermudafood.com’s contest, I decided to create my own version of a fish sandwich. I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of my Asian heritage into this endeavour and at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. I didn’t think slapping some Asian condiments on top of fish warranted enough creativity, so I started to think about the carb portion of the meal and a light bulb went off in my head. Ah ha! I can wrap the crispy deep fried fish in a Chinese mantou bun!

Slightly sweet and steamed to softness, I grew up on this dough in the form of barbecue pork buns where the filling is actually enclosed. Bao, in Chinese, literally means ‘to wrap’. So instead for this recipe, I was inspired by the Gau Bao, a Taiwanese street food item that has been in the limelight in the last few years due to trendy eateries such as Momofuku and Baohaus. With raisins kneaded into the dough, the bun has that same hint of sweetness that makes Bermuda’s Fish sandwiches one of a kind. Add tempura styled fried fish, zesty citrus slaw and spicy tarter and you have my spin on a fish sandwich. Part Bermuda and part Chinese, this is the Fried Fish Gua Bao!

Fried Fish Gua BaoFried Fish Gua Bao

Makes 8 small sandwiches
Raisin Mantou Bao 
Adapted from A Table for Two

300 g bread Flour (2 1/3 cups)
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 tablespoons milk powder (optional)
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup raisins

Add the yeast to water and let it activate for 5 minutes until frothy. Add the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl of stand mixer with a dough hook and pour in the yeast water. Mix on low speed for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease the sides of a bowl and place the dough inside and cover with a towel. Let the dough rest for about 1 – 1 1/2 hour until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle. Shape the dough into large tight log. Using a knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces about 70 grams each. Flatten and roll each piece until smooth and place onto a tray lined with parchment paper and let rest covered for another 30 minutes.

While resting, cut out 16 small squares of parchment paper.

Take each dough and with a rolling pin, roll into a long oval shape about 6″x 4”. Fold over the dough in half lengthwise and place a piece of parchment paper on the inside to prevent sticking. Place the bun on a second square of paper. Repeat with all 8 pieces and cover with a towel and let it proof for another 30 minutes.

Set up a steamer over simmering water on medium heat. Place the buns in the steamer with at least 1 1/2” space in between. Steam for 10 minutes in batches.

*Buns freeze well and just need to reheated in the microwave for serving.
Asian Slaw
1 medium carrot
half of a small white cabbage
half of a small purple cabbage
1 green onion
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Shred carrot and cabbages with a mandolin or slice thin with a knife. Slice green onion. Mix together and sprinkle in vinegar, lemon juice and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sriracha Tarter
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or more to taste)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish

Combine all ingredients for sauce and set aside.

Tempura Fried Fish
1 pound white fish sliced in small 2oz portions (wahoo, cod, tilapia, mahimahi) * always locally caught when available
squeeze of lemon juice
salt & pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/4 cup of cold seltzer water
oil for frying
cilantro leaves for garnish

Marinate fish with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt & pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Set aside for 20 minutes while you prepare the batter.

Mix together flour, corn starch, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne, and seltzer water. Whisk to combine.

Drain the fish pieces and pat dry with a paper towel.

Line a plate with paper towels and in a large heavy pot or cast iron pan heat about 1/2 inch of oil medium heat until 360c.

Dredge the fish pieces in the batter and carefully drop into the hot oil, careful not to crowd the fish by cooking in several batches. Monitor the temperature of the oil throughout the fry, keeping it at least 360. Fry until crisp, light and golden brown about 3 minutes each side. Remove and place on lined plates.

To assemble, remove paper from the bun and peel it open. Slater a good amount of tarter sauce on the inside of each steamed bun. Layer the slaw and hot fried fish and garnish with a handful of cilantro.