Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“My Life in France” by Julia Child




 Just finished this book and I’m hoping for the cook book for Christmas.  I am also hoping to visit Batifole some time soon since I have an intense craving these days for butter, beautiful rich sauces and duck, maybe the winter weather has something to do with it.  Do not read this book when you’re hungry, even though when I’m not hungry and reading in bed I later find myself in the kitchen nibbling on cheese.

My Life in France was inspiring.  Julia arrived in France not knowing how to speak the language or a thing about food or cooking.  From there she went to the Cordon Bleu cooking school and joined a class of all men.  After that she started her own cooking school and later of course, wrote many famous books on mastering the art of French cooking.  What a life!  This book was written with her nephew Alex Prud’homme who I think really captured Julia’s voice.  From the few appearances I’ve seen on TV I think he did a remarkable job.  Julia and her husband Paul, also documented their life in France in great detail through letters written to Julia’s sister and Paul’s brother, which were all kept.  It’s almost as if they knew this book would be written in the future. 
 
Julia Child is so passionate about food and France.  She remembers with great detail the first mouth-watering meal she had arriving in France – Sole Meuniere.  I now must also go to France and find my memorable meal. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs




There are so many different kinds of spaghetti sauce recipes, and I make a different one just about every time; however, this is my tried and true spaghetti and meatballs recipe.  This makes a pretty huge amount so feel free to freeze whatever you don't use. 

Meatballs:

- 1/2 pound of ground beef
- 1/2 pound of ground pork
- 1/2 pound of ground lamb
- 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tsp of salt
-  1 Tsp of ground black pepper
- 1/4 Cup vegetable oil

Sauce:
- 2 Tbs of olive oil
- 1 Small Onion, chopped
- 1 Celery stalk, chopped
- 1 Carrot, chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves,minced
- 1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 Tsp of fennel seeds, ground
- 1 Ounce of red wine
- 2 Large cans of tomatoes




 Pour breadcrumbs in small bowl with milk and let sit for a couple of minutes.  Combine all ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl and add breadcrumb mixture.
Form into 2 inch meatballs.
Heat a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet.
On medium-high heat brown meatballs on all sides in batches and set aside.
Drain oil and turn down to medium heat and add olive oil.
Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot, basil and fennel and saute until onion starts to brown.
Add red wine and scrape up brown bits from the pan.
Add tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer with lid slightly ajar, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.

Puree sauce in food processor working in batches if needed. 
Return sauce to skillet and add meatballs.
Cook for about 45 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

Transfer meatballs and sauce to a plate of spaghetti with a little Parmesan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Perfect Roast Potatoes




These are my absolute favourite!  I've had many failed attempts before I finally found this technique.   One of these days I would like to try roasting with duck fat instead of the oil because I’ve heard that’s the absolute best, but in the meantime I’ll stick to olive oil. 

Yukon Gold potatoes cut into quarters or smaller if you like
4-5 garlic cloves chopped finely
1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of chopped rosemary plus 2-3 sprigs
Good glug of olive oil to cover pan

To cook the potatoes:

Parboil potatoes in salted water until slightly tender when pierced with a fork.
Drain potatoes in colander, sprinkle with a good amount of salt and cover with a tablespoon of flour.
Meanwhile set oven to broil or highest temperature and heat oil.
Once the oil is good and hot place potatoes using tongs one by one in the oil turning the potatoes so all sides are starting to turn golden brown and crispy.
Turn oven down to 350 F and roast adding the rosemary and garlic.
As soon as you notice the potatoes are crispy and golden they’re done.

If you’re not eating the potatoes right away you can make these about 2-3 hours ahead and drain in a dish covered with paper towel.  To heat and crisp up again place in oven with your roast beef or whatever you might be cooking, or if it’s just the potatoes you can reheat at 350 F.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Coming soon.


 
 

Tourtiere Part Deux

And here are the leftovers with ketchup,  marinated peppers and some bread from the Monastery Bakery

Tourtiere


This is a dish I learned to make in a cooking class at George Brown last year.  We made our own pastry, but this one here is with frozen butter puff pastry.  Pastry isn't exactly my friend so I avoid using it as much as possible.   Side note: let puff pastry thaw for about 30 minutes before you unroll. 





I served this last night with roasted butternut squash and pickled beets.  This morning I had it for breakfast heated with a side of ketchup... just as good.  I'll list the recipe I used, but feel free to use a combination of different meats and vegetables.

You may want to experiment a little with the spices, as they're all pretty powerful.  Maybe add half when you Sauté the vegetables and add more when you adjust the seasoning.




Regular size package of ground pork (approx. 560 kg.)
1 small onion chopped
1 celery stk. finely diced
1/2 carrot grated
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 tbs. parsley chopped
1 small potato (Yukon Gold is nice) grated
1 tbs. of vegetable oil
1.5 tbs. butter
2 tbs. breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. of each of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice ground
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz of chicken or beef stock
1 egg

Sauté the meat in the oil without browning and add salt and pepper.
Add carrot, celery, onion, spices and butter and cook until tender.
Add stock to mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Grate potato into the meat and add bread crumbs - this will give it a smooth texture.
Adjust seasoning and let cool.
Line pie plate dough and fill with the cooled meat mixture.
Egg wash edge of dough, cover with another sheet of dough and seal.  Egg wash top and cut a small chevron.  I also cut out two leaves and berries using the scrap pieces of dough.
Bake for 40 minutes at 375 F.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leek and Potato Soup

I don't know about you, but with the cooler weather here I've been making a lot of soup lately.  It's comforting, inexpensive and I always seem  to have the ingredients on hand.    These leeks are from Phil's grandfather's garden.


Exotic Finishing Salts


Thank you Madeleine!  I haven't tried these guys out yet, but I pull them out from the kitchen cupboard and admire them at least weekly.  What to make!?  There are 10 salts here, but I think I like the sounds of Bolivian Sea Salt the best.  Should I start with something as simple as scrambled eggs?   I don't think it needs to be really complicated... I've had Fleur De Sel sprinkled in butter and that was very enjoyable. 

Lemon and Thyme Chicken with a Potato and Tomato Medley


 
 

I almost always buy chicken with skin and bone, as it’s cheaper and much more flavourful compared to boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  The chicken here is marinated with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and Thyme.  Ideally it’s best to marinate overnight or for at least 5 hours, but if you don’t have time to marinate that’s okay too.  

You can choose to marinate in all ingredients the ingredients below, or add to the chicken about 30 minutes before you cook.

For Chicken:
2 chicken pieces with bone and skin
1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme chopped
Zest and juice from one lemon
¼ cup of olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 f.
Place chicken in dish and let roast until skin is brown and crispy.  I find the best test for a whole chicken or for chicken thighs is to shake one of the bones, and if it breaks apart easily from the chicken, it`s done.

Potato and Tomato Medley:
Mix of purple, red and white small potatoes cut in half
Bunch of grape tomatoes cut in half
2-3 garlic cloves minced
Clean and parboil potatoes in salted water.  Heat frying pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the potatoes with the garlic and cook for about 10 minutes.  Once they`re starting to brown a little add your tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5-10 minutes until done.  This is colourful side that looks great with any main dish, plus it's easy and takes no time at all.

Pickled Beef

A recent visitor (thank you Jen) gave us a pickled beef.  My instructions were to rinse the pickling spices off the meat, place in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 hours.  I have to admit I have never had homemade pickled meat and wasn't sure what to expect.  Oh.My.God.  It was amazing!!  So tender and delicious.  We made a version of Reuben sandwiches with it for lunch today.  Jen will be sending me the recipe soon so if anybody is interested I'll pass it on.


 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Breaded Tilapia with Sundried Tomato, Caper and Olive Tapenade



 I love this dish.  It's really easy and is also good enough to serve guests.  I used to fry the fish, here I baked the fillets.  Frying them is tastier, but baking is of course healthier and it also allows you to cook more of the fillets at once giving you more time to prep the side dishes, set the table or whatever.

 Fish:
4 tilapia or other white fish
1 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup of Parmesan
1 tablespoon of red chili flakes
1-2 eggs
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Tapenade:
1/4 cup of black or green olives chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
1.5 tablespoon of capers drained and chopped
2 tablespoons of  sundried tomoatoes in oil drained and chopped
1 tablespoon of flat parsley chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper.

Mix cornmeal, pepper flakes, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper and spread onto a large plate.
Whisk eggs in bowl.
Take one fillet and dip into whisked egg allowing excess egg to drip off.

Next place fillet in cornmeal breading and cover.
Once fillet is breaded place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper and set aside for baking until all fillets are breaded.

Cook in oven until slightly golden and fish is a little flaky when you test with a fork.

Meanwhile, chop all ingredients for the tapenade and set aside until ready to serve.
Once fish is done spoon tapenade on top of the fillets.

Side note:  I love this tapenade and really like lots of it on the fish so feel free to double the recipe.  Also, when you're breading the fish and notice you're running low just add more cornmeal.  It all depends on how large the fillets are and how many you're using.

Enjoy!