Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sushi


Really you can't have one little piece of sushi when you're pregnant?  What's the deal with that?  This was Phil's and I wanted so badly to pop one of these guys in my mouth.

Instead I had a chicken teriyaki dish but it just wasn't the same.  If I could cheat I would have this though.

Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Feta and Pear

Between the parties, shopping, decorating and wrapping I’ve haven’t had too much time to cook. I did manage to make this tenderloin on Sunday though. It’s a meal that tastes like it takes a long time to prepare but really it takes no time at all.

Awhile back I saw a tenderloin stuffed with blue cheese, peach and walnuts in Boffos. By the way, Boffos has a nice selection of marinated meats if you’re in a rush and want a good meal made with high quality ingredients. It was that dish that inspired me to try my own stuffed tenderloin.



Ingredients:

1 Pork tenderloin
Salt and Pepper
½ Cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1 Pear, thinly sliced
1 Egg, beaten
1 Cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbs of olive oil or vegetable oil

Flatten pork with a mallet keeping the tenderloin as even as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Spread or crumble the feta (depending on the consistency of your cheese) almost at the end of the flattened pork and layer with pear slices. Roll pork and secure either with kitchen string or toothpicks.

Dip pork into egg mixture then roll in panko breadcrumbs. If you’re making the tenderloin ahead of time place pork in the fridge until ready to use. Previous steps can be taken several hours ahead before cooking.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat oil in large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Wait until the oil is nice and hot and add pork browning on all sides. Place pork in greased roasting pan and cook until thermometer read 160F. Remove from oven and tent for 10 minutes in foil before serving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Est West


I can’t believe I forgot to tell you about this place. It’s amazing. Last year I was at a meeting and they ordered these salads for lunch and I’ve never looked back.

This is a small salad but as you can see they really load it up. Salad options include: chickpeas, rapini, glass noodles, kimchi, pasta salalds, mango, beets, tofu.  The best part is the small is $3 and change and the large $5. This is a hidden gem in the food court near Queen's Park subway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Potluck


Do you have a favourite potluck dish?  At work we have an annual potluck for the holidays.  I know they’re not everybody’s favourite, but I like them, probably because I enjoy cooking.  The only problem is we don’t have access to an oven at work and if possible I like to avoid the cues for the microwave leading up to the party.  That means the options can be pretty limited.  So what can I bring that’s easy to commute with on the train and something a little more exciting then dip? 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart

Saturday Bri and Beth came for dinner. I had to cater to one vegetarian and a pregnant lady (not me) who has an aversion to tomato sauce.

After some consultation with Jenna (another food lover who was planning her own dinner), I decided on butternut squash soup, a wild mushroom and gruyere tart with herb salad. Oh, and Beth brought over the most delicious shortbread and chocolate chip squares.







Thank you Bon Appetite for the tart recipe!

Butternut squash soup:

Ingredients:

1 Butternut squash
1 Onion, chopped
2 Celery stalks, chopped
1 Tbs of olive oil
1 Tbs of butter
1 Pear, chopped
4 Cups of vegetable stock (or chicken)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Pierce squash all over and place in dish with about a little water flesh side down and bake for about 40 minutes or until flesh is soft.
Meanwhile, cook onion and celery and nutmeg in olive oil and butter until onion is slightly brown. Add squash and pear to onion mixture and about vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer until pear in soft. Puree and serve.


The funny thing is I had one more vegetable in the soup but I don’t know what it was! I thought I was buying celery root but as I cut it up I realized the texture was off and once I tasted it I really knew it was something else. I still have no clue.


For the Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart:

Ingredients:

Tart

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg yolk
2 Tsp plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup of sour cream
1 1/2 pounds assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, or stemmed shiitake), sliced
2 Tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs butter
1 ½ Cups of green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1 Sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 Large egg yolk, beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
4 ounces thinly sliced Gruyere cheese

Salad

6 Tbs fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/3 Cup 1/2-inch pieces fresh chives
3 Tbs fresh tarragon leaves
1 Bunch of Arugula
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tsp fresh lemon juice

For tart:

Puree ricotta in processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 1 yolk and 2 teaspoons oil and blend. Transfer ricotta mixture to bowl; fold in crème fraîche.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 7 minutes. Mix in thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add butter and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Mix in green onions.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface to 13x9-inch rectangle. Using sharp knife and starting 1/4 inch in from edge, cut score line around entire perimeter of dough, cutting halfway through. Brush 1/4-inch dough border with glaze. Transfer dough to ungreased heavy baking sheet. Spread ricotta mixture over dough, inside border. Top with half of mushrooms, half of Gruyère, then remaining mushrooms and Gruyère. Bake tart until crust is golden and Gruyère melts, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare salad:

Toss herbs with oil and lemon juice in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut tart into rectangles. Transfer to plates. Garnish with herb salad.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Crepe Kitchen


Phil and I went here for brunch on Saturday.  Really enjoyed the cozy atmosphere with press back chairs and antique collectibles on the wall.  And of course the smell of crepes really adds to the overall coziness of the place. 



They serve french press coffee and tea in china teapots.  As a tea drinker I really love that.  They have a huge selection of savory and sweet crepes.  I wasn't sure what I was in the mood for so I chose one in between and had "Ed's Choice" with Brie, strawberries and sugar.  Phil had the "Spanish" crepe with Chorizo, peppers, potato and cheese. 

The service was excellent and it was Ed himself who served us.  He noticed Phil and I sharing our two crepes and said to let them know next time so they can split them up for us and serve the savory first followed by the sweet.  What service!

$35 for two crepes, coffee and a tea.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Weekend!


One of my favourite parts of the weekend is having breakfast with Phil. Usually prepared by him, but since he’s been painting the house almost every weekend I’ve taken on the responsibility of keeping him fed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sausage, Mushroom and Fennel Tortellini

This was both tasty and warming. I used my Favourite Spicy Italian sausages from Boffo’s and bought fresh pasta from the grocery store. Such a great quick and easy weeknight meal.




Thanks Bon Appetite for the recipe!


Ingredients:

Fresh cheese tortellini
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs of olive oil
3 sausages, casing removed and sausage crumbled
1 8-ounce package of Cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs of fennel seeds, ground/crushed
½ Cup of heavy whipping cream
1 Cup of chicken broth
1 5-ounce package of fresh spinach leaves
½ Cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil on medium-high in large skillet pan. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12-15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup of broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini in a large pot with salted boiling water. Drain tortellini and return to same pot.

Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in ½ cup of cheese; Add more broth by ¼ cup of mixture to moisten is dry. Season with salt and pepper and add more cheese.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm not very good at this


Any experts who are willing to pass on tips on how to use a slow cooker? It’s supposed to be easy, but I can’t seem to figure out how much liquid to add and my dishes are turning out runny.


I made short ribs on Monday night and I added too much beef broth. I ended up having to reduce it on the stove top and I also added some barley to thicken it. Something else I noticed was it was a little fatty. I’m not sure if that’s something you have to be careful of when using a slow cooker or it was from the bacon I added to the dish.

The final product was tasty, but I’ll wait until I get the hang of it to pass along my recipes. I feel like this is something I need to figure out before the baby comes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade Holiday Scents

 
Potpourri can bother my eyes after awhile and I find the smell can be overpowering, so a natural scent you can make yourself seems perfect. Notes from the Republic has a great recipe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stocking Stuffers

If you don't have one of these get one immediately.  Used for grating/zesting Parmesan, lemon, coconut and garlic.  You can get the fancy pants kind at William - Sonoma but Kitchen Stuff plus has one for half the price and just as good.  I often see them at Home Sense as well.

p.s. now you know how much cheese I really put on my pasta. Actually, I don't think I was finished grating yet. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Victorian Barbeque Sauce


 Jen was kind enough to share a jar of her homemade BBQ sauce.  This isn't the BBQ sauce you're used to, you serve it like a chutney along the side of meats rather then cook with it.  The flavour is hard to describe.  It almost reminds me of the mince pies my granny used to make.
Here it is: 

(from Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving)  - makes about 4 pint jars

8 cups chopped rhubarb
2 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

Prepare canner, jars and lids.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, raisins, onion, vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial barbeque sauce, about 30 minutes.

Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if necessary, by adding more hot sauce.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tip tight.

Place jars in canner (or large pot), ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Jen's notes: 

I doubled this recipe so I had more than 4 pint jars. As you well know, it is a fair amount of work, but the finished product is usually worth it.

Since the rhubarb season is over, you can always buy the frozen rhubarb you find in the grocery store and use it.  I chopped up our rhubarb and put it in the freezer so that I have some over the winter if I need to make more of this stuff.

Thank you Jen! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca


Literally translates to "whore's spaghetti" in Italian.  Really, check it out.

I didn't know what this dish was called whether it's in English or Italian until I was flipping through my December issue of Fine Cooking and saw a dish I make regularly on weeknights.  I started making this when I was living on my own because I pretty much always had the ingredients on hand and it was quick. 

Ingredients:

2 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
4 Large cloves of garlic, minced
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
1 Tsp of Crushed red pepper flakes
1 jar of homemade or store bought tomato sauce or a can of crushed tomatoes
Spaghetti
1/2 Cup of pitted brine-cured black Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs of capers, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs of fresh oregano or 1/2 Tbs of dried
Freshly ground pepper

Boil water for pasta.

Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil with garlic in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes and add the anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes.  Cook until garlic is golden.    Stir in tomato sauce.  Increase the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the olives, capers, and oregano and continue to stir.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Stir in remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and serve. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five Months Pregnant

Keri who I don't get to see very often asked me to post a pic of my pregnant belly, so here it is! 

Weekend

This weekend was busy! Friday we took off of work to run an all day hockey camp. Phil was of course in charge of the hockey and I served lunch with help from Meg.  I'm not much of a baker so Meg made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies. Thanks Meg!


I was a little stressed the night before considering I don't have much experience feeding kids (not yet at least).  I decided on turkey, ham and tuna sandwiches.  I found some whole wheat Ciabatta rolls and also bought a lot of white country bread for the more pickier kids.  I love provolone cheese on sandwiches but I was worried about the flavour being too sharp for the kiddies and opted for Havarti and some crunchy Romain lettuce.  For the tuna, I used a little mayo, finely chopped celery and Alfalfa sprouts.  I knew I was pushing it with the tuna and sprouts and I was right, it was only tuna left at the end of the day.

After doing a look around the room I saw some of the kids removing cheese, lettuce and some eating up to three sandwiches just as I made them.  I think I learned that there is no pleasing all kids.  At the end of the day waiting for the parents to pick up the kids I sat with the last two very chatty boys and tried  to get their feedback.  I asked them what some of their favourite foods were and got "Kraft dinner" and "Hamburger Helper".  The next sessions are for three days just before Christmas so I better start brainstorming some new ideas.  This is so new to me!

Panko, Bay and Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin


 I haven't made this dish in awhile.  Actually, I think the last time I made it Phil and I were living in our condo in Toronto.  I used to have a lot more time to cook in those days since it took me five minutes to walk home from work.  We also had the convenience of a grocery story below the building, and if we didn't feel like cooking we had a pub down there too.  I miss that condo, but I also love our little bungalow and the beautiful old trees surrounding.    


Here's a recipe that tastes like it may have taken a long time to prepare, but there really isn't much to it.  That's what I like about pork tenderloin, it's really quick to cook.  As well, you may know, the possibilities of what you can do with pork are endless since it works well with most flavours.  It just all depends on what you're in the mood for.  And if you find you made too much, you can use the leftover pork for sandwiches with a little peach chutney.   Or Jen's famous Victorian BBQ sauce (recipe to follow soon). 


Ingredients:  

Pork tenderloin 
1 Cup of Panko breadcrumbs 
1 Large sprig of fresh rosemary, stem removed and chopped 
5-6 Large Bay Leaves, stems removed and chopped finely 
1 Tbs of Parsley, chopped 
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper 
1 Tbs of butter 
1 Tbs of olive oil   

For the pork tenderloin: 

Preheat oven to 375F.  

Season all sides of the tenderloin with salt and pepper and set aside. Combine breadcrumbs and herbs and place on a plate ready for breading.   Dip the tenderloin in egg, place the tenderloin into the breadcrumb mixture and pat all sides so all of the tenderloin is breaded.  Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes. Transfer to an oiled shallow baking pan and roast in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until instant-read thermometer reads 155F.  Remove from the oven, transfer to cutting board and tent with foil loosely for ten minutes before carving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roast Chicken

To me a roast isn’t a lot work like some may think, so it’s no bid deal to have midweek, but if you’re in a rush to eat by a certain time that can be a problem. I wonder how our eating will change once the baby arrives. We definitely won’t be eating at 8:00 like we do know I assume, at least not as a family.


I kept it simple and didn’t bother with the usual roast potatoes I usually make alongside my roasts.  Instead I used up some carrots, parsnips and mini Yukon Gold potatoes I had and cooked in the same roasting pan as the chicken. Nothing like a roast chicken on a cool fall evening to make the house warm and inviting.



Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh Thyme
1 Lemon
1/2 Tbs. of olive oil
1/2 Tbs. of butter
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1-2 Large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Large parsnip, peeled and chopped
Small Yukon Gold potatoes, lager ones quartered
5 cloves of garlic, smashed

For the chicken:

Preheat oven to 425F

Wash chicken inside and out and pat dry. Salt the inside of the chicken and squeeze all the lemon juice, stuff the lemon inside as well as all the Thyme and garlic. Drizzle olive oil and place butter on chicken and a good amount of salt and pepper. Place chicken in roasting pan and surround with the vegetables. Add a little water and chicken stock to the pan so the bottom is just covered. Not too much as you don’t want to steam the chicken. Cook until browned. The best test to tell if your chicken is done is by shaking the leg and it breaks away easily your chicken is perfectly cooked. Let rest tented in foil for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sandwich Box

It's finally here!  You have no idea how happy it made this pregnant woman when I saw they were finally open for business.  They have a few locations in the city but when they closed their Queen and John location it just wasn't convenient for me to go to the others.  I couldn't believe it when I saw one was opening up about a 10 minute walk from my office, but they really took their time with opening.

Here's my sandwich eaten at my desk.  I wish I took a photo of the actual restaurant so you could see the choice of breads and other ingredients, but I felt self-conscious of others around me.  I also guess I was trying to play it cool and not let on how very excited I was for my sandwich.
 




For $10 you build your own sandwich with a wide variety of high quality ingredients. I had a turkey breast sandwich with an olive spread, caramelized onions, country mustard, arugula and provolone cheese.  Every sandwich is topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon and olive oil then toasted.  The sandwich is served in a plain white paper container alongside mixed greens lightly doused in a balsamic vinaigrette.  They also offer soups daily like lentil and spinach and they offer a salad bar.  Of all the places I've eaten out at you won't find a lunch like this for that price anywhere.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sausage Ragu with Penne Pasta



This was one of my best best pasta dishes I have ever made... almost as good as my meatballs.  This dish is classic and easy to make.  It's perfect any day of the week.  Since it was a rainy Sunday I was in no rush to go anywhere so I let it simmer on the stove for a few hours, but this could also be ready in 30 minutes if you're making it on a weeknight.

I think what makes this sauce are the sausages.  Make sure to buy high quality from your favourite butcher.  I've mentioned Boffos before and my love for them and even more so their sausages.  I barbecued their sausages all summer either served on a bun or quartered with grilled veggies on a side of chicken or ribs.  In this recipe I used Hot Italian sausages but they have tons of other kinds.

Because the sausages from Boffos are so perfectly seasoned I didn't use much seasoning for this recipe; however, if you've purchased a grocery store brand I would add fennel, basil, oregano, marjoram and any other herbs you usually add to your tomato based sauces.  

Ingredients:

Dry Penne
5 Hot Italian pork sausages, casings removed
1 Yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1.5 Tbs. of tomato paste
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced
1.5 Cups of white wine
1 Can of diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 Cup of fresh parsley

Start boiling water for the pasta.
Brown sausage in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, breaking sausage into small pieces.  Add bell pepper and onion; cook 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and garlic, cook 1 minute stirring frequently.  Degalze pan with wine, then increase heat to high and cook until liquid has reduced, almost evaporated.  Add tomatoes with their juice along with any spices you may be adding.  Simmer sauce until it's thickened, 5-6 minutes.  Or if you're like me and in no rush carry on simmering. 
Stir in parsley.  Serve ragu over pasta and garnish with Parmesan. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ripening Green Tomatoes

End of the season and you're still left with a crop of green tomatoes? Me too.  Phil's mom mentioned to me today that I can ripen all my green tomatoes by placing them on newspaper in the basement and they'll eventually turn red.  There's so much to learn about gardening!  I always thought you needed the sun for that and imagined all my windowsills lined with tomatoes.


After doing a quick search on the web there are all sorts of ways to doing it - like placing them in plastic bags with ripe bananas - but I think I'll stick to the way she told me because it seems the easiest. 

I've started off with removing the stems, gently cleaning them, followed by air drying.  I'll check in with you and let you know if it turned out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Phew, it’s finally here. Are you as pumped as I am for the long weekend? 3 full days away from work!
So what are everybody’s plans for the weekend? I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with my family the one day and Phil’s the next, and we have my sister’s birthday. The weather is also supposed to be incredible so I will definitely take a trip to the Farmer’s Market and maybe do some cleaning up in the garden. We’re also painting the house, well Phil is. So I can’t wander off too far.



What are you favourite Thanksgiving recipes? Having family around the corner Phil and I always just go to their homes for dinner so I’ve never actually cooked a turkey. What I do know is my mom makes the very best stuffing in the world. I know everybody loves the stuffing they grew-up with but I really think my mom’s is the best. I’ve been bugging her to give the recipe to me. I know my mom puts sage, sausage, bread and corn in it and maybe that’s it. So simple.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beef, Barley, and Butternut Squash Stew

Haha - okay maybe I do have my cravings!  This recipe is oddly similar to the one before.

This was a satisfying meal to have on a rainy Saturday night.  I found this recipe by Liz Pearson published in Fine Cooking.  It was recommended to serve this with salty blue cheese and walnut croutons, breaking them into the stew as you eat.  By the time I saw that it was late and still raining so I didn't want to go back out.  Next time I definitely will though.

My photos haven't been the greatest lately.  I think it's partly because it's getting darker again and I don't have any natural light by the time I photograph the finished product, and to avoid the shadows I have to do these close-up shots.   Anyway, this will have to do.


This recipe is for six. I don't usually cut recipes down for the two of us because meals like this make such good leftovers.  I now have stew for two more meals in the freezer.  I'll have to really get into the hang of that once the baby comes.  

I added parsnip to the recipe. Feel free to add any of your favourite root veggies especially even more so now that they're all in season.   I also added beer as opposed to a cup of dry white wine since I don't have open bottles of wine in the house these days, but I can always count on Phil to have beer. Oh, and I skipped adding a 1/4 cup of half-and-half because I didn't feel like it was needed.  

Ingredients:

1.5 Pounds of stewing beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 Tbs of all-purpose flour
41/2 Tbs of unsalted butter
1 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
2 Large Leeks, halved and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 Medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Large parsnip, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Cup of of beer
6 Cups of low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 Cups of pearl barley
3 Dried Bay leaves
1 Tbs of fresh sage, chopped finely
1 Tsp of freshly ground nutmeg
1 Small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the stew:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Season the beef with salt, pepper and toss in a large bowl with 2 Tbs of the flour.  Heat 1Tbs of the butter and the oil in a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat.  Cook half of the beef until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the beef to a plate.  Repeat with remaining beef.
Melt 2 Tbs of the butter in the pot.  Add all the veggies and a pinch of salt, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the beer or wine and cook, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon, until evaporated, 7-8 minutes.  Stir in  the remaining 3 Tbs of flour and cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in 5 cups of of the broth.  Stir in the barley, bay leaves, sage, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of salt and the beef along with any accumulated juices.  Bring to a boil.  Cover the pot snugly with foil and then a tight-fitting lid and braise in the oven until beef is almost tender, about an hour.  Stir in the squash and the remaining cup of broth.  Cover with the foil and lid and continue braising until the beef is tender and squash are very tender, about 30 minutes or more.
Remove and discard bay leaves from the stew, and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chili Con Carne

I think I’m getting back into the swing of cooking.  I think it’s partly the cooler weather making me crave comfort foods and that I’m getting my energy back.  I could tell I was getting back to normal when after work the other day I dropped off dry cleaning, went grocery shopping and whipped up chili all by 7:30.  I’m unbelievable, I really am. 

The lack of energy I’m told is normal when you’re pregnant.  That’s right Phil and I are expecting a baby in March!  I’m now into my second trimester and things are feeling good.  I’m one of the lucky ones who haven’t suffered from morning sickness.  I found if I let myself sit down on the couch that would be me for the night.  I’ve heard all sorts of weird cravings people get, like my mom craving stale green marshmallows, and I didn’t think I had any until I realized I was going through bread like madwoman making grilled cheese all the time.  

Ingredients:

2 Pounds extra lean ground beef
4-5 strips of bacon, diced
2 cooking onions, diced
2 Cobs of corn, corn removed with knife
2 Jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups canned kidney beans( if you're using dry beans soak overnight, drain and rinse)
10 Plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 Cup of tomato paste
1 Tbs cayenne pepper
3 Tbs of chili powder
1 Cup of beer
1 Handful cilantro, rinsed and chopped fine
1 Olive oil

For the chili:

Put a large pot on the stove on medium high heat. Brown the bacon,  onions and garlic in the olive oil. Add the beef to the pot, allowing it to brown. Once the beef has browned add in the tomato paste. Stir well, coating the contents of the pot and browning the tomato paste.
After a minute or two, add the tomatoes stirring well. Add kidney beans. Add peppers, cilantro, cayenne, chili powder and beer. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.  Allow to cook for at least one hour.  If you like garnish with cheddar cheese, cilantro leaves and sour cream. Enjoy!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baked Pork Chops with Apple Stuffing


When I eat pork chops they have to be stuffed or marinated with something really tasty, otherwise I find them bland. This started when I was little.  Since my mom knew my dislike for them she used to say we were having 'pork cutlets' and that fooled me into thinking we were having something completely different. I always found them dry and boring and if not cooked the right way I still find this.  These on the other hand have lots of flavour and have made me reconsider how I feel about them.


Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of olive oil
2 Apples, cured and chopped (try Cortland apples)
2 Thick pork chops
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs of fresh Basil, chopped
1/2 Tbs of Fresh Chevril, chopped (optional)
1/2 Tbs of Fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 Tbs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 slices of multi-grain bread or any other type, cut into small cubes
1/4 Cup of butter
4 slices of bacon, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

For the pork chops:

Preheat oven  to 325F.

Sweat the bacon and after a few minutes add the onion, cook and add celery and apple and sweat another 5 minutes, add herbs at the last minute or two.
Deglaze the pan with about a 1/4 cup of red or white wine or chicken stock.
Cool slightly, combine with the bread, add the soft butter.
Cut a slit in the pork chop side without puncturing the other side.  Don't make the slit too wide in length, place your finger and/or knife in the opening and spread open to form a pocket.
Fill with stuffing.  You may need to fasten the opening with a toothpick.
Brush with a little olive oil.
Heat remaining oil in a pan and brown chops on both sides.
Bake in oven until done. about 20 minutes.  Baste frequently with a bit of extra butter, don't overcook.


If you  have have extra stuffing,  freeze and use the next time you're making the dish or stuff chicken or a pork tenderloin.  

Serve with brussel sprouts and sweet potato mash with a little nutmeg.  This is a perfect fall meal.

Breakfast Time with Phil

My favourite part of the weekend.

Breakfast usually consists of a fruit smoothie, breakfast sandwich and some lovely fruit arrangement ... love it!  Last night we had to pick up painting supplies for the weekend and our only other priority was to make sure we had all the makings for breakfast the following day. 

Do you see that packaging the bacon comes in?  It's packaged in a clam shell container that's easy to open and store.  What a great idea, eh?   Years ago I talked about how it should be that way and then one day I see it at the super market and it now looks like I missed the opportunity. Don't you ahte it when that happens??   It's so much easier this way and you don't feel like you have to use all the bacon in one go. sigh... it's really a very good idea.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicago

This is a place we ate at while in Chicago.  Unfortunately the photos didn't really turn out since we were on a dark patio.

Phil and I never really have a plan for when we set out in search of food, we just get ready at the hotel and walk.  This time we stumbled upon Vermilion. We browsed the menu and were on the fence, mainly because I just didn't know what I was in the mood for. I think what made us decide to go with it were the reviews they had posted.  I'll admit it, I saw Oprah had eaten there and that did it for me.

I just noticed all the smears on the plates of goat cheese and pomegranate molasses.... does that make it fancy when a restaurant does that?  It used to be foam, but I heard that's 'so yesterday' I guess smears still cut it though.   
Blue Corn Crusted Scallops
Kali mirch Latin calabasa, goat cheese puree
 Duck Vindaloo Arepa
Brushed pomegranate molasses, curry leaf mango
 Caldeirada de peixe
Traditional Brazilian seasonal seafood stew, Indian seasoning, tomato rice
 Shrimp Paella
Ancho tequila marinated, Indian flattened rice poha, shrimp and mussels

We shared pretty much everything and I especially loved the appetizers.  The Seafood Stew was my main and that was just okay.  The coconut milk was a little overpowering.  My favourite was the Duck Vindaloo.    And no I didn't see Oprah. 

Since we're on the topic of tomatoes...



For my American readers a caesar is a drink similar to the Bloody Mary but with Clamato juice instead of tomato juice.  Clamato is exactly how it sounds, clam juice with tomato juice.  That sound unappetizing, but trust me it is delicious!  One of the things I like best is the liquid isn't as thick as tomato juice.  To me the other key ingredient is horseradish. 

Phil makes a killer caesar.  This one here that he made me was like a meal with all the garnishes.

1-2 Ounces of vodka (or no vodka if that's your thing)
2 Drops of Worcestershire sauce (I obviously had to look up that spelling)
1 Tsp of hoseradish
Pepper, to taste
Clamato juice
Montreal Streak Spice, to taste
Celery salt for rimming

Garnishes:
Baby Bell cheese
Celery stick
Pickled onion
Wedge of lime

Rim the edge of the glass with lime and dip into the celery salt or store-bought caesar rimmer.  Add ice, vodka, seasoning and juice to glass and stir.  Add garnishes just before seasoning.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Salsa Recipe

As I mentioned before, I went a little overboard with all the tomato plants.  It was my first time planting a vegetable garden so I had no idea how big they would grow.  I was also told this summer was a really good year for tomatoes.

After making a lot of tomato sauce I decided what I needed next was a good salsa recipe, so I bugged my friend Jen for one.  Jen lives on a huge property by the water in Kingston and plants tons of tomatoes among other things and has a big party at the end of the year to do all her preserving.  In the past when we were living in Toronto in a small condo without a garden she was nice enough to bring us salsa and pickled tomatoes.  So thank you Jen for sharing your recipe! I made a few changes to work with what I had in the fridge, but this is pretty much what Jen gave me.  Included are also preserving instructions. 



Ingedients:

7 cups Peeled tomatoes (to remove skins place in boiling water for about 2 minutes and remove and place in ice water)
2 cups Jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 cup of seeded jalapeno peppers, chopped (if you like the heat, leave some seeds in)
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
½ Cup cider vinegar
¼ Cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
1 Tsp salt
2 Tbsp lime juice

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened about 10 minutes.

Prepare jars and lids.  (I usually just run the jars through the hot rinse cycle of the dishwasher.  This ensures there is no bacteria and that they are sterile.  You can also simmer them in a big, big pot ensuring they are covered with water.  Just bring the water to a boil and then put the jars in the pot.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Keep them warm until you are ready to use them.)

Ladle hot salsa into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch of headspace.  Remove air bubbles by inserting a spatula/spoon/utensil and moving it up and down the inside of the jar.  You will see the bubbles come to the surface if there is excess air.  Wipe the rim of the jar.  Centre lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tip tight.
  
Place jars in large pot, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. (i.e. leave them in the boiling water).  Turn heat off and leave jars in pot for 5 minutes.  Remove jars (preferably with tongs because they are going to be very hot), cool and store.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rib Eye Roast

First of all is 'rib eye' one word or two? 




Phil and I picked up a nice piece of beef from Boffos for dinner.  Every once in awhile we like to treat ourselves to nice Saturday evening meal.  Actually, I didn't realize what a treat is was going to be until after they weighed it and the price came up.  They already cut off enough for two and I didn't want to tell them I changed my mind.  I'm not sure why I get awkward about those things.  What am I worried they're going to think if I say it's more than I expected and I'll go with the chicken?  Anyway, dinner was a little pricier than what we had planned.  Don't worry I got over it about 10 minutes later. 

Before Boffos we stopped in at the Kerr Village Farmer's Market.  I picked up vegetables and went to my new favourite stand called Smokeville that I've mentioned before.  They smoke trout, salmon, chicken and pulled pork.  I'm looking forward to having the pulled pork sandwiches later this week.  It's a great weeknight meal because you just have to thaw the meat and heat up in a saute pan and add some BBQ sauce and you have delicious pulled pork sandwiches without  having to spend hours yourself slow cooking the meat.   

Now back to the dinner.  I always think if you have a really good piece of beef you should hold back from over marinating and seasoning.  I kept this one simple. 


Ingredients:

1 Tbs Freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs fleur de sel (salt)
Rib Eye Roast
1/4 Cup of olive oil
2 Onions, quartered
2 Tbs of unsalted butter
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Tbs of fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbs of fresh oregano, chopped


For the Rib Eye:

Remove beef from the fridge an hour before your ready to cook and bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Season outside of the meat with pepper and fleur de sel, pressing into the meat with your fingers.  If not already done by your butcher, tie around the eye of meat with kitchen string to allow meat to keep its shape during cooking.
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add beef to pan and sear all sides until dark brown.  Place in oven and allow to cook for about 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in sauce pan and add herbs and garlic.  Turn beef over and pour butter and herb mixture over beef and place onion quarters around beef.  Continue to cook until desired temperature using a meat thermometer.  Remove meat from the oven and allow to rest in tented foil for about 10 minutes.  I usually pull the meat out about 10 degrees before my desired temperature because it continues to cook while resting. 

I served the beef with goats cheese mashed potatoes and steamed carrots and beans.  The potatoes are simple, just add the cheese to how you usually make your mashed for an extra rich flavour that compliments the beef very well.  I think a blue cheese would have been nice too. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple Juice

Have you tried this?  It's amazing.  I also recommend the lemonade and orange juice.  I'm a big fan.  

Tomato Mushroom Polenta

This is a quick meal I put together with the leftover polenta that works great on a weeknight.  I also make this with that polenta roll you sometimes find at the grocery store.  The only difference is I bake it with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese and top off with a tomato sauce.

 There’s no recipe here, really.  Just use whatever tomato sauce you have in the fridge weather it’s store bought or something you’ve made.  When I know I’m making this I pick up a variety of mushrooms like Crimini, Chanterelle, Shitake, Oyster, Porcini and whatever other favourites you may have.  I never really choose Portobello, I think they’re overrated, but that’s another blog post.   

  

Chop up your mushrooms and sauté with some olive oil, Thyme and garlic.  If you have some sherry pour a little of that, or red wine - and if you don’t have any wine try sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar.  Once  they’re soft add the tomato sauce and let simmer.  When heated through pour over polenta with a healthy portion of parmesan cheese. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Grilled Mustard Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta


This recipe was so tasty!  But the photo here doesn't really tempt you - does it?  I think I was in a rush to get stuck in.

It's finally that time of year when everything is in season.  I decided to take a break from all our zucchini and tomatoes and pick up some fresh corn at our local farmer's market. Peak-of-the-season corn is really the best.  If you love corn (Phil and Mom) this is the perfect summer evening BBQ recipe for you.  I would even serve this when entertaining.  You can do the marinating ahead of time and just throw the chicken on the BBQ once guests arrive. I always say it's best if you marinant for 5 hours but 1 hour will do if you don't have the time.

We had a lot of extra polenta, so I'll follow with an easy vegetarian recipe for later in the week using up the leftovers.

Thank you Bon Appetite magazine for the summery recipe!

Ingredients:

Chicken:
6 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 Cup of Dijon mustard
1 Tbs of fresh lemon juice
1 Large garllic clove, minced
Chicken thighs with skin and bone
Olive oil

Polenta:
5 Cups of water
1 cup of polenta (course cornmeal)
11/2 Tsp of salt
1 Tsp of sugar
1/2 Cup of mascarpone cheese

For the chicken:
Whisk onions, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in medium bowl to blend.  Using fingertips and leaving one side still attached, loosen skin on each chicken thigh.  Lift skin flap on each and fold back.  Spoon half of mustard mixture atop thighs, dividing equally and spread to cover meat.  Fold skin flap back and seal with toothpick.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and turn skin side up, and spread remaining mustard mixture over skin.  Transfer chicken to baking dish and let marinate.

Heat BBQ to medium-high heat.  Brush grill rack with olive oil.  Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning chicken occasionally and moving to a cooler spot if browning too quickly., 40-50 minutes.  Transfer chicken to another baking dish and keep warm in the oven while preparing polenta.

For the polenta:

Boil 5 cups of water in heavy large saucepan.  Gradually whisk in polenta, then 11/2 teaspoons of salt and sugar and cook.  Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer until polenta is tender, thick, and creamy, whisking often and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, 25 to 30 minutes.  Add corn kernels (removed from cob) and cook, stirring constantly, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in mascarpone cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomato Zucchini Gratin

 
 I've had quite a bit of zucchini to use up from our garden.  We've had it in salads and on pizza as well as in this delicious gratin.  I was ready for more zucchini dishes but for some reason all the plants just died.  I'm thinking it's the 14 tomato plants I planted this year that took over.  I over did it a bit.  I'm learning a lot of lessons for next year's garden.  Good news is the tomatoes are thriving!  I've already made two big batches of tomato sauce!  Speaking of, I'll post two versions of sauce I've made possibly three. 
This gratin is great as a side dish or as a Vegetarian main course.  I found the recipe on Epicurious but I substituted the white rice for brown and added some basil.  I think the basil was key.  



Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown rice
2-3 zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tsp thyme, chopped
2 Tbs basil, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided


For the gratin:

Preheat oven to 450F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Cook rice.
While rice cooks, toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another baking pan.
Roast zucchini in upper third of oven and tomatoes in lower third, turning vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes for tomatoes; 20 minutes for zucchini. Leave oven on.
Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir together onion mixture, cooked rice, eggs, thyme, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread half of rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, then top with half of zucchini. Spread remaining rice mixture over zucchini, then top with remaining zucchini. Top with tomatoes and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.