Friday, January 29, 2010

Honey and Maple Syrup

Making salad dressing has sometimes been a bit of a struggle for me. Why I have no idea. The result is always, always worth the effort. There are two salad dressings in the book that are so incredibly good that you have to try them. One of course has honey in it and the other maple syrup...two winning ingredients for all.
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
1T maple syrup; 2T balsamic vinegar; 1T soy sauce; 1 Minced clove of garlic; 1 T sesame oil; 1t pepper and 1/2c olive oil.
Place all in mason jar or mayo jar or any jar with screw on lid and shake away. This is great with green salad.
Honey Curry Dressing:
1t paprika; 1t curry powder; 1t dijon; 1/2t turmeric; 1/2t celery seed; 1/2t salt; 1/3c cider vinegar; 1/2c honey; and 1c safflower oil.
Again, shake all ingredients together in a jar, this one is great with spinach or any other darker greens.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Something a Little Different

I really like making the Moroccan Chicken Phyllo Pie because it is something different to do with chicken. The flavours are unique and it is kind of fun to say that we are having pie for dinner!
3T veg oil; 1 chopped onion; 1 garlic clove chopped; 6 chicken breast, diced (really easy to do when the chicken is partially frozen); 1t cumin; 1t cinnamon; 1t harissa (do not have therefore do not add) 2t tomato paste; 2t honey; 4T lemon juice; 1/4 c chopped blanched almonds; 1 1/2 dried fruit soaked for a couple of hours in 1/2c boiling water (I use dry apricots because they are liked by all and find you don't really need to soak for that long); 8 sheets phyllo pastry and 1/c melted butter.
Saute onion and garlic in oil. Then add chicken and cook till brown. Add cumin and cinnamon and saute for two minutes. Stir in harissa and t paste, honey and lemon juice. Cook for 5mins. Then add almonds and fruit. Place one sheet of phyllo in springform pan. Paint it with some of the melted butter and do the same with 5 more sheets. The phyllo will drape over the sides of the pan. Pour the chicken mixture in to the springform and then fold the phyllo back on top and use the last two sheets which need to be brushed with butter too to top it off. Bake at 350 for 40 mins until it is lovely and brown. Slice it up and serve with tzatziki left over from the burgers and a green salad!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pad Thai at Home

It is so good and covers the noodle lovers and the veggie lovers...and the rest of us too. You can omit the prawns all together or you totally add chicken if you like instead. The tofu is actually good here, the flavours it absorbs are wonderful.
16oz rice noodles; 1/2c veg oil; 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped; 1lb cooked prawns or shrimp; 1/4c pickled radish, chopped (I could not find today so am not using, oh well, will not wreck it, I will add a little chile sauce or relish instead) 1 pkg of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes; 1/2c white vinegar; 1/4c fish sauce; 2T ketchup; 1/4c sugar; 2eggs; 1/4lb bean sprouts; 3 green onions, sliced; 1/4c roasted peanuts; cilantro and wedges of lime for garnish.
Cook your noodles. In a large skillet, heat oil and fry garlic. Add shrimp, radish and tofu. Everything should be golden, 3-5 mins. Remove on to a plate. To that same skillet now add vinegar, ketchup, fish sauce and sugar. Heat well and add drained noodles. When the noodles are completely coated spread them to the sides of the pan and scramble the eggs in the middle. Then fold the noodles over the eggs. Add the shrimp, tofu, radish, green onions and sprouts. Serve with cilantro, if you like it, lime wedges and peanuts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Worth the Effort

This is the Whitewater Veggie Burger and it is full of good ingredients and tastes divine...
1T veg oil; 1 onion diced; 1 clove of garlic, minced; 1T cumin; 1.5T chili powder; 1 19oz can of black beans well drained, rinsed and roughly pureed; 1t oregano; 1/4c parsely or cilantro, chopped; 2T sesame oil; 1/2c roasted and chopped almonds; 1c sunflower seeds; 3c bread crumbs; 1/2c soy sauce; 5eggs; 2c grated carrots; 2c oats; flour for dredging and 2T oil.
In a really large skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil. Place in a large mix bowl and cool. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and shape patties. Dredge lightly in flour. Heat the last 2T oil in your skillet and brown burgers on both sides. You may have to do in batches and add a little more oil. I have made up to 20 burgers and they are great with tzatziki, tomato, onion and lettuce. But the best thing about these other than they are so good is that you can freeze what you do not eat and then reheat on a baking sheet for twenty minutes once they have defrosted. Try them, you will really like them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whitewater Cooks

Based on the fact that I think that this really is the best cookbook I have read and used in years I thought it high time I should tell you about it. We discovered it through our great friends who had us for dinner and for this I will be eternally grateful! The food was fantastic, so much so that I thought, we need that book...but...I did not need another cookbook. Well, I did buy it and I can not tell you how happy I am that I did. This book has everything I think a good book should have. The recipes are easy, healthy and...a huge hit. So this week I am going to devote to Whitewater Cooks.
And the really good news is that they have published a second book, called Whitewater Cooks at Home, which of course I bought but, more on that one later.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Wonderful Food Processor

I love pesto, I really love pesto. I love how easy it is to make in the food processor or in a blender. I love it because you can have it on pasta, on fish, on chicken, on pizza...straight...!!! So when the perfect herb called basil is not in season and you have had a crazy day, week and all you want to do is throw some pasta together here is another way to do it...don't forget to throw some parsley on top so you have just a little green!!!
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto from Cooks Illustrated
3 med unpeeled cloves of garlic; 2 med red peppers. roasted, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces; 1 small shallot, chopped; 1 T thyme leaves; 1/4c parsley, washed and chopped; 7 T olive oil; 1/4 c parmesan or 1/8 c parmesan and 1/8 c crumbled feta; s&p.
Toast the garlic in their skin in a skillet on the top of the stove. Approx 8 mins until they are brown. When they are cool, discard the skin. Throw peppers, garlic, shallot, thyme, parsley and oil in to the bowl of the machine and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl and add parmesan. After you boil the pasta (this makes enough for one pound of pasta) you can sprinkle feta on top. So good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The S Word

In our house whenever I mention the s word they all say, are you cooking it while holding their breaths. The word is spinach and I rarely cook it now.
My husband loves it cooked with a little vinegar and a little butter. I love it sauteed straight or with other veggies. But the reality is that because our kids love it raw I tend to follow their lead, which in this case is great. Anything raw retains so many more nutrients so I am happy to make spinach salads a lot!
And you can add so many different toppings to spinach. Sliced oranges, red onion, toasted almonds and if you want top with grilled chicken or prawns.
Or you can always go the good old bacon and egg topping.
Any way you do it, it can be a meal or a great side!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crock Pot Conundrum

My very best friend asked me the other day for crock pot ideas. I did not own one but thought hm., her reasons for using it make so much sense. Dinner ready before your family wakes up? Dinner ready when you walk in from work? Dinner ready when your kids come home school/sports/activities and are ravenous? So off I went and bought one...
Slow Cooked Pot Roast with Mustard and Horseradish Gravy from Fine Cooking Mag sounded like a great start. I did not make the gravy because I did not get to the store to buy more horseradish and I must say, you need this, so make sure you have horseradish!!!
2 Carrots; 1 med onion, quartered; 3 cloves of smashed garlic; 3 sprigs of thyme; 1 bay leaf; 3 whole cloves; 1 c stock; 1c white wine; 2 Tomato paste (used salsa, alas ran out of t paste too; 1 boneless beef chuck roast (2.5-3lbs) 2 T olive oil s&p.
Put the carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, cloves in the bottom of the slow cooker crock. Whisk wine, stock and paste together. Put your heavy skillet on the burner and turn it to almost high. Rub oil all over the roast and then sprinkle generously with the s&p. Sear it until a dark crust forms on all sides. 5 mins total.
Reduce the heat and put the roast on top of the veggies in the crock. To the hot pan add the broth and scrape the bottom while bringing it to the simmer. Then pour over the roast. Turn the slow cooker to LOW and cook without lifting the lid for 9hours.
When fall apart tender lift the roast to a plate and then strain the cooking liquid. You can pitch the veggies. For the gravy: Pour the strained liquid in to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it reduce by half, ten mins. Then whisk in 2T brandy; 1/2t horseradish and 1/2t grainy mustard.In a small bowl mix 2T sour cream and 1t flour.Whisk a little of this to the hot mustard and then slowly add all of it.
Pour gravy on top of the sliced beef with potatoes and brocoli, easy and filling!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Really Nice Treat

When you find yourself wandering the aisles of the grocery store and end up at the fish counter and the sweet man behind the counter tells you that the freshest sole has just arrived and it is a great price, what are you going to do???!!!
Of course buy it and then go home and grab Julia Child's recipe for Sole Meuniere:
4 sole filets (she says to do them whole but not me); s&p; 1/3c flour; 2T oil; 2T butter; 2T chopped parsley; 2-3T butter; 1T capers 1T lemon juice.
Season filets with s&p and flour, heat oil and butter in heavy flat saucepan. Dredge both sides of the filet with the flour and then saute both sides of fish in butter/oil combo. Should take approx 3-4mins on either side until crispy. When the fish are done remove and place on warm platter. I use the same pan to do the sauce...but you could use a clean one. To the pan add the second batch of 2-3T butter and let it darken to a hazelnut colour. When it does, take it off the heat and add lemon juice, capers and parsley. Pour over the fish.
Make some rice and any veg, and honestly, you are going to love the lemony flavour, it is a really nice treat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Glorious Soup

Soups can be the best dinner ever. You can make them the day before or days before and freeze. And you can pack in so many healthy ingredients in there. But they have to be hearty and substantial if that is all you are making. One of the best I have made comes from the Canadian Living Cookbook that I was given when I got married. Lot's of good and reliable treasures in this book. I am going to give you the recipe for Main Dish Minestrone, but I like the variation with sausage and lentils.
2T olive oil, 2 T butter, 1/2 lb pork sliced, 1 lg onion chopped, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 cup each of celery, green pepper and carrot all chopped, 2 T parsley chopped, 1/2 t dry basil and dry thyme, 1 bay leaf, s and p, 1 19 oz tin of chopped tomatoes, 4 c of stock, 2 c of kale chopped (great way to get that in) 1.5 cups lentils.
In large saucepan, heat oil and butter and add sausage and brown. Then add onion, garlic, celery, carrot and green pepper. Cook until softened a little. Add herbs, s&p. Stir in tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and add lentils. Cover and simmer for 45 mins. Then add kale and simmer 5 mins more...Buy a crusty loaf of bread and enjoy!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

August in January

Just when the weather seems to be getting more miserable the sun comes out. So right after I talked about tinned tomatoes in January yesterday I am now thinking of summer tomatoes. Growing up, August meant corn on the cob, blueberries and tomatoes. Every day we would eat these three foods and a lot of these three foods. More recently my mother in law made us dinner that she called "Tortellini August". And because of the sunshine today I can not help but dream of a warm august day that is capped with this super easy and most divine of pastas.
Enough tortellini to feed your family.
Good brie cheese.
Lot's of tomatoes, I bought some small Amorosa tomatoes, not great but fine for this. Chopped in to bite size pieces.
A bunch of basil chopped.
Boil your tortellini and drain. Throw back in the pot and quickly add cheese first (so it melts on the hot pasta) then basil then tomatoes.
Cover the pot and let it sit for a good five minutes.
I hope you enjoy it, it is a favourite of mine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Importance of Local...

Some of us are very fortunate to live near farms who produce fruits and vegetables year round. We all have our reasons for supporting local businesses of all kinds and mine are similar to most I expect. The first time I stopped at Madrona Farm I was blown away by the photo hanging on the wall behind the ledge of veggies. It was of a truck driving down a dirt road. The caption read: This is how far your food has travelled. Meaning from the field behind the hut to the hut...300 metres would be my modest guess.
Amazing to me then.
So when I have to use tinned tomatoes in January for chicken cacciatore tonight with egg noodles I will have the satisfaction of knowing that when we are nibbling on the sweetest raw carrots imaginable (my godson even ate them and he is a sworn no carrot eater) we have done a little bit to support our local farm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Freezer

We were the lucky recipients of a chest freezer years ago...I say lucky because all I could think was wow, I can make tonnes of pesto or freeze fifty flats of berries or, what I did last fall, buy a cow. Well not a whole cow but I swear, every time I look it appears that way. I did this for three reasons. Number one, I have a family member who looooooooooooves meat. Secondly, my fabulous butcher gave me a good price. And lastly, I thought it would help on those dinner dilemna I did it. Just had to do a little rearranging of my berries that really need to be eaten anyway.
So today we are bbq'ing...well, the truth is I do not do that so tonight my husband is going to grill some steaks. I grabbed some fries and romaine lettuce at the store and actually made a great new caeser dressing from Micheal Smith. It is lighter than most and really good.
Pour the following into a Mason Jar:
1 cup olive oil; 1/2 cup lemon juice; 1/2 cup grated parmesan; 1 Tbsp minced garlic; 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce s and p to taste.
Shake and you are good to go!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Challenge of Brussels Sprouts

A friend of mine recently challenged me to come up with a way to get her child to eat brussels sprouts. So for today I would like to offer a couple of recipes that I hope will prove successful. The problem with these funny little green cabbages is that they are often over cooked which makes for a smelly and mushy vegetable, not too appetizing for anyone. I have two ideas:
The first is to clean off the outer leaves and with a sharp knife place an X in the bottom, at the core. Instead of using water, pour chicken stock in the saucepan, bring the stock to the boil and then toss your sprouts in. Watch them, and keep checking with fork...a little undercooked is what you are after...if you can smell them they are ready. Always a good rule, I think.
Drain them and add some butter and caraway seeds, great combo.
The second idea is to cook as above but then slice thinly and add some crispy bacon with the caraway seeds, no need for butter but maybe a slosh of olive oil instead. This you can toss with pasta...
I am hoping that this will be the answer!
We are going to do the first way with some leftover turkey pot pie...bought a huge bird this Christmas and this is the end of it!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The inaugural post...

When deciding what to make for my very first post I did what I often do in the morning...I asked my kids. Sometimes I hear "whatever", "it doesn't matter" or my favourite, which comes from my husband "what do you feel like making?" Love that one!!! But today was easy because everyone is excited about the blog. I was asked to make a favourite and I think it is a perfect way to start because it has all of the important qualities in a dinner which include, healthy, easy...and... everyone loves it.
It is from Fine Cooking magazine which is a resource that I love.
Sear Roasted Halibut with Tomato and Capers. Make it and mash some potatoes and blanch some green beans, great combo and you will feel so good feeding it to your family!!!