Archive for the ‘Daring Cook’s Challenge’ Category

Hi Everyone,

October and November have been overwhelmingly crazy and so I haven’t been able to blog lately. I actually haven’t been taking any pictures of my baking or my cooking, nor have I been trying out new recipes 😦

I’m happy to have gotten back on track in time to complete the Daring Cooks December challenge!  This month Jenn from Jenn Cuisine and Jill (jillouci) challenged us to make Eggs Benedict or Oeufs en Meurette.  They allowed us to play with recipes as long as we ended up poaching something.  I chose to poach an egg, but chose to top it with a cheese sauce rather than the Hollandaise sauce that usually goes with Eggs Benedict.  I surely am NOT the most healthy eater out there, but since my husband and I are trying to be healthier, I opted out of the butter and egg yolk mix which is also known as Hollandaise.  SIDEBAR!  Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s the holiday season, and I know that this is the time to be merry and throw all of inhibitions (in regards to food!) out the window, but I simply could not bring myself to whip egg yolks with clarified butter and serve it with good conscience to my family!  In my personal opinion, the taste of the sauce doesn’t even warrant…wait, who am I trying to kid.  Hollandaise sauce is AWESOME.  I just made a healthier decision 🙂  ANOTHER SIDEBAR! You might be saying to yourself, “ILLOGICAL! How can you substitute a fat and calorie filled Hollandaise with a fat and calorie filled Cheese sauce?”  Good question.  I used olive oil instead of butter, 13% MF cheese instead of 35%MF, and skim milk instead of homogeneous.  It actually tasted pretty good considering the amount of fat I cut out of it.

Back to the eggs. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE eggs. If I could eat 5 a day without the worry of cholesterol and fat, I would! Actually, I would probably eat more than 5. I’d eat them poached, fried, soft boiled, in soup, in pasta, as an omelet, as a Quiche, or shirred.  I probably would skip scrambled eggs if I had a choice.

Anyhow, I made poached eggs on 5 grain toast, with ham and a cheese sauce. We had a gigantic salad on the side which made for a really good Saturday lunch!  I only took pictures of the poached eggs since I figured most of you know how to make salad 😛  Take a look-see and tell me what you think!

This is the roux.

It’s equal parts fat (Olive oil in this case) and flour.  Don’t worry if it looks watery, you don’t want to have a ball at this stage.

Cook the roux until it’s lightly browned.  You just want to cook out the flour taste.  I used 3 Tbsp of oil and flour.

This is the roux after you add a bit of milk to it! See how it seizes up and becomes a thick mass!

I added about a 1/4 cup of skim milk and stirred like a mad woman.

If I were a chemist, I’d explain what’s happening here, but I’m not. NEXT!

This is the cheesy goodness that is also known as my sauce.

To get to this point, I added about a cup of milk (I didn’t measure).  Add about a 1/4 cup of milk until the roux becomes a medium thin sauce.

Then add about 3/4 cups of cheese.

If the sauce is too thick i.e. it’s like the consistency of yogurt, add more milk.

Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Add a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

This is the egg poaching in water.

Bring your water to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low.

You want the egg to poach in water that is not a rolling boil, nor a heavy simmer.  My water barely had bubbles at all!

Some people use vinegar in their water, but I didn’t and the egg came out perfectly fine. I took about 3 minutes to cook.

The way I tested my egg out was to poke at it with a wooden spoon. When the yolk part of the egg resisted my poke, I took it out of the water.


Here are both the poached eggs.

Can you tell which one I got and which one I gave to my husband? 😛

These eggs are different because I used two different techniques. I used the “tornado” method for the egg on the right.  That’s where you swirl the liquid in the pot to make a “tornado”.

The swirling water was too rough on the egg.

The egg on the left was simply lowered into the water and left to do its thing.

No more tornadoes for me!


Here is half of a toasted 5 grain bread with the cheesy goodness.  Seriously, you only need one whole slice for this recipe.  I mean, I love my carbs, but eating two slices with this meal would have been overkill.

Yep! Then I topped it off with some ham.  My friend Ceci would probably say, “WTF are you doing using processed ham??”.  My answer to her would be, “I didn’t plan on making this last Sunday and didn’t have any back bacon in the house!”

Oh yes sireee, then I added the other half of the toasted 5 grain bread, and the poached egg.  This is clearly MY plate 😀

And to top it all off! I added more cheese sauce and finely grated pepper.


This was Daniel’s plate. Both were delicious, but mine just didn’t have a bulging egg yolk!

And of course, to end it all off, here’s the classic sliced egg with oozing egg yolk picture that still makes my mouth water.

The only negative thing I have to say about this meal was that I waited too long to eat it.  See how the sauce is thick on top of the egg? It takes a while to get from plating our food to actually eating it because I have to get my little girl eating and set up for her meals before I actually sit down and eat mine.  Then, when I was ready to eat,I realized that I didn’t have the camera close to me so I had to get up and get it.  By this time, the cheese sauce had cooled down and was thick.  Regardless, the meal was so good! I’m definitely going to make this whenever I can!


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Hi Everyone,

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the Daring Cook’s deadline but here I am!! I loved this challenge. I love grapevine leaves, I love rice, I love tomatoes, I love meat…I love, I love, I love!!

I made the cold stuffed Dolmas last night while watching The Blindside. How lovely was that?? My husband put my daughter to bed so I had 3 hours to “relax”. I’ve made this recipe many, many times and I never tire of it. I’ve also been wanting to make them again but had never found the time! SOOOO Thank You Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness for making this challenge!

(Next month I’ll have more time to post properly.  I only have pictures of the final results this month.)

Wara Einab or Dolma/Cold Stuffed Grape Leaves
Adapted from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food a Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


24 – 30 preserved or fresh grape leaves.
2 cups (300 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) long grain rice

4  tomatoes, peeled and chopped

3 lbs of half extra lean ground beef and lean ground pork (you can make whatever meat mixture you like or even leave it out!)
2 large onion, finely chopped or 4 tablespoons (60 ml) (35 gm) finely chopped scallions
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced **optional**
4 cloves garlic
2/3 cup (160 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon or more


If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.

If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.


1.Rinse rice with cold water  3 times and let drain.

2.Mix the rice with the chopped tomatoes, onion, cinnamon, allspice, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

3.Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up. Take off stem.

4.Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.

5.Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.

6.Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

a.(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)

7.Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a large pan lined with tomato slices or imperfect grape leaves Place a whole garlic clove in between them for extra flavor. The tightness will help prevent the rolls from unraveling.

8. Pour stock or water over the stuffed leaves. The liquid should be 1 inch over the top of the leaves. Put a small heat proof plate on top of the leaves to prevent them from unwinding, cover the pan and simmer very gently for about 2 hours. You may need to add more water after 1 hour.

Here they are!!!

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