Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pork Loin Roast

The camera is finally being sent for repair today however, it could take 15 days or longer depending on the backlog of parts. Hopefully I can come up with a loaner.



As you know I was a little sceptical of this recipe, but it was really good! It was so tender and reminded me of something I would have at a ribfest. We’re eating the leftovers on sandwiches today. Actually, I think I’ll make this pork again but especially for pulled pork sandwiches.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as shown on the Food Network webpage. I only used cider vinegar and was out of Worcestershire sauce. I also didn’t bother with the rice and peas. I decided to have the pork on top of mashed potatoes so we could enjoy some of the juices and the carrots we had just because they were in the fridge. Glad I found this recipe and tried it, as I would never usually make something like this.

Because Not Everybody Drinks Coffee...


Did you know Tazo chai lattes at Second Cup are better than Starbucks? Yup, it’s true. We ended up at Starbucks last night and it just wasn’t the same. I’m not a coffee drinker and mainly stick to my usual English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe tea, but once in a while I like to be adventurous. It’s also just become a thing to do in the winter to get out of the house mid-week. We walk downtown to the library and stop off for a latte before we head home. I think I need to try out some independent coffee houses now because I imagine those are even better.  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Food Network Cooking Club Challenge

This recipe really doesn’t appeal to me, but it’s in my slow cooker as I write this.  Vicky lent me her cooker on Boxing Day for the mulled apple cider and said I could use it for a while. I sort of forgot about it until I came across the January Cooking Club Challenge. Who knows maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. It calls for a can of coke, 1 cup of ketchup, ¼ of molasses among other things -- that’s so much sugar!! I’ll let you know how it turns out. 

Stuffed Peppers

Sorry still no camera, we’re stuck with these photos.



Look veggie friends I haven’t forgotten about you! I’ll admit I usually make these stuffed peppers with sausage meat, shredded zucchini, parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients. I didn’t have any sausage in my fridge so I substituted basmati rice.

I used this recipe here and made the following changes:

Rice instead of couscous
Canned tomatoes since fresh are out of season
Sweet Potato
JalapeƱo Pepper
Parsley
Thyme

Next time I’ll add olives too…. maybe even walnuts. I think this is a good recipe you can really get creative with using whatever you find in your fridge.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beef Tenderloin and Onion Chutney

My camera broke so these low quality Blackberry photos will have to do.  I really hope I can get it fixed!  It was dropped and now the lens won't open.  Can you believe the warranty expired 7 days ago?  So annoying. 

Anyway, Phil and I had a nice relaxing weekend.  On Saturday I stopped at Boffo's and picked up a beef tenderloin we roasted with mushrooms.  If you haven't checked it out yet, go!  I'm excited to try their peameal bacon they make on site. 

For the beef:

1 Beef tenderloin. About 1 lb
5-6 Tbs of unsalted butter
1 Tsp each of fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Package of white button mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thickly.

Preheat the oven  to 400F.

If you need to, trim the tenderloin of any fat.  Place the tenderloin in an oiled roasting pan,  coat the meat with 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle on the herbs and salt and pepper.  Toss  the remaining butter with the mushrooms and garlic until just coated and add to the roasting pan.  Roast the tenderloin and mushrooms while basting the meat with the juices until the thermometer reads 130F for medium rare, approximately 40 minutes.

Transfer the meat to the cutting board and tent with tinfoil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. 


Of course with beef you have to have horseradish, but this time we also had an onion chutney.  I was peeling pearl onions to cook with the beef and mushrooms and came across a really nice recipe on the package.   Tonight we're having the leftover beef  in sandwiches with the chutney.




Onion Chutney:

20 Red pearl onions, peeled.
1/2 Cup of of red wine vinegar
3 Tbs of balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup of brown sugar
1/2 Tbs of ground pepper

Place onions in saucepan with the vinegars, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Add sugar and simmer uncovered for 1 hour and let cool.

I love this chutney so much and plan to make it again.  Like my marinated peppers, it'll be nice to have ready in the fridge to put on sandwiches and to go with a cheese plate.  I'm so happy I found this!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roast Chicken



There’s just something about the smell of roast chicken cooking on a cold afternoon.  I did this with thyme and Meyer lemon.  Have you heard of Meyer lemons?  It’s a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.  They’re native to China but they are also available in North America .  The flesh is more orange in colour and they’re sweeter -- my mouth is watering as I type this!  They're difficult to find so grab one or two if you see them.

For the chicken:

1 Chicken *
A good handful of fresh thyme
1 Meyer lemon or regular lemon, juiced
1 Tbs of unsalted butter (room temperature)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Rinse the chicken, pat dry and season the cavity with salt and pepper.  Rub the chicken with butter, and pour lemon juice over chicken, season with salt and pepper and the about 1/2 a teaspoon of the chopped thyme.  Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the rest of thyme and rind from the squeezed lemon.  Place the chicken in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken and a splash of chicken stock.  If there’s room in the pan I like to add whatever vegetables I have in the fridge.  I chopped up some parsnip and onion.  Roast the chicken until it’s golden brown and the chicken leg breaks apart easily when shaken – about 45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the oven once cooked and tent in foil for a few minutes while you prepare the gravy. 

For the gravy:

Please note: I’m not the best at gravy.  It’s often too oily, but when it works Phil and I get pretty excited.

Remove pan from oven and place on stove top and skim as much fat off the top as possible.  If you need more liquid add white wine, chicken stock or a little water and scrape up those brown bits.  Cook on medium heat on the stove top for about 2 minutes whisking in about a tablespoon of flour.  Return pan to oven and start carving the chicken.  Once the gravy has thickened serve!   You shouldn’t have to add more seasoning to the gravy becuase you have all the lemon and chicken juices that have lots of flavour.

With the chicken we had steamed green beans and truffle mashed potatoes.   For the potatoes I added the truffle oil, a little butter and salt and pepper…. that’s it!  

*I used a free-range chicken I found at Boffo’s

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dessert



Almost forgot Meg's scrumptious Chocolate Fudge  Brownie Sundaes we had after the spaghetti .  She was supposed to bake cookies, but we had no complaints when she whipped these up. 


Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs



When I saw the title of this recipe I opted to make it because it sounded nice and simple and that’s the theme of our Thursday night club. It also has to fall into the category of comfort food – and I think it hit the mark there too.   Everybody has their own idea of what comfort food is.  I don’t think I’m too far off if I say most of us crave roasted vegetables and meats, pasta and hearty soups… no salads when it’s impossible to find good quality fresh ingredients living where I do.

When I was slicing the fennel it felt like there would be far too much; however, I was wrong and it was the perfect amount.  Something else I second guessed was I wasn’t sure if there would be enough heat.  That’s always a hard one when you’re cooking for a crowd because it’s personal preference, so I stuck to the recipe and used two chilies without their seeds.  Next time I’ll use a third or keep the seeds in.  The only changes I made to the recipe was I added two spicy Italian pork sausages and a large shallot.  The shallot I didn’t notice so much, but I really enjoyed the sausage and will definitely add it again.  


For the recipe go here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tea!


Don’t you just love this tea cozy? My mom gave it to me for Christmas. It makes me smile every time I make a cup of tea. It goes perfectly with the rest of the set I already had. Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thyme Update




sigh...the thyme hasn’t improved.  I’ve been giving it tea and this weekend it got lots of sun.  Maybe I should move it to a bigger pot and change the soil.  The rosemary is thriving though!  

Monday, January 11, 2010

Basic Tomato Sauce



Phil and I are trying to eat on the cheap these days. Mainly though, I’m trying to use up all the ingredients in our fridge before we go shopping to avoid waste.  I can sometimes be bad with finding an old soft zucchini at the back of the fridge that I bought for stuffed peppers or something else I never made.  When we lived in the condo I wasted less.  I think because I used to pick up food after work as we needed it.  These days I’m shopping on the weekend trying to work out what we’ll be having for dinner for the week ahead, then last minute plans come up or I’m just not in the mood for those stuffed peppers.   Anyway, this here is a basic tomato sauce using 1 tomato we had left and a leek that was starting to look like it had seen better days. 

For the sauce:

Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
3 Small carrot, chopped
2 Large celery stocks, chopped
1 Leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 Tomato, diced
1 Large can of tomatoes
1 Tbs of tomato paste
4-5 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs of fresh thyme, chopped
½ Tbs of Fresh rosemary, chopped
½ Tbs of dried oregano (I only use dried when I don’t have fresh)
2 Bay leaves

Take a large pan and heat up a good glug of olive oil on medium heat, add onion and garlic and let sweat.  Once the onions are translucent add the carrot, celery, leek, garlic and herbs. Add the tomato paste and cook the vegetables until they’re starting to become tender.  If it seems dry add a splash of chicken or vegetable stock.  After coking for about 10 minutes add your tomatoes with juices and seeds and bay leaves.   I cooked my sauce for about 2.5 hours.  

It’s up to you if you want to blend it in the food processor -- both ways are good.  

Calphalon Cooking School


My class at Calphalon was a lot of fun.   The food turned out great, but I was a little disappointed at the end when it felt like we were being rushed.  The instructors seemed stressed once they realized the class would run over so they weren't taking the time to explain things like they did at the start.  Having said that, I realize these things happens and look forward to when I take Beef 201 in February.  Sorry the photos didn’t turn out that well.



This here is a little snack  they prepared for us.  Such a good idea since most of us come straight from work.  It was lamb skewers with a citrus mango salad.





My Potato Anna is a little on the well done side.  If I make this again (not sure if I will) I’ll make sure to cut the potatoes thinly.  Here I’m going for more of a... um... rustic look.  



Next time I'll probably try the filet mignon stuffed with a blue cheese instead of the Boursin.  I’ve never cooked a nice piece of meat like this on the stovetop and it came out beautifully!  I can’t wait to try it again.  Because of all the smoke I think when I do try this at home I’ll have to disconnect my fire alarm first. Yes this is the filet mignon with the pan jus, glazed baby vegetables on the potato... just a little hard to tell by the photo. 




Friday, January 8, 2010

It's the weekend!

 What are you up to this weekend?  Meg and I are going to this new pizza buffet place (that’s right a whole buffet of pizza!) and later to a friend’s 30th b-day.  Phil and I went there on Wednesday night (yes I’m going twice in one week) and we really liked it a lot.  Actually, it’s mainly because the service was so great and I really liked the owner and want to see him do well.  It’s sort of a strange concept... almost like Chucky Cheese without Chucky and the games.  Anyway, they opened just before Christmas and we haven’t seen too many people in there when we drive by.  When we went the other night they only had two pizzas, salad and a pasta.  We thought they were closing but the guy was very persuasive and insisted on making more pizzas “anything we want!” and presented each pizza to us at our table.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Calphalon Cooking School


Disclaimer:  Before I begin I just want to say this post was not a hint for Phil on what to get me for Christmas. One year for my birthday he got us both a cooking class at Calphalon that we took together and I loved it, so that’s why I mentioned it. For the record, Phil had finished my Christmas shopping when I posted that anyway. He knows me so well!





This will be me tonight!

We’re making:
Boursin Stuffed Filet Mignon with Shallot Pan Jus
Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash with Cumin
Glazed Young Root Vegetables
Pomme Anna with Pancetta
Dark Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries

How good does that sound?

In case you were wondering how these classes compare to a course you might take at George Brown or another culinary institute, well it’s a big difference. These classes are meant to be fun. You definitely learn a lot, but they do a lot of the tricky parts for you. You’re also able to enjoy a glass of wine while you cook! I noticed when we were there last time that a lot of people go with friends or in a couple… this time I’ll be going on my own. At George Brown you’re training for a career in the industry or you’re an at home cook like me who wants to learn more. I recommend both!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brunch with Keri and Scott

Our friends  from NYC were in town and they came over for brunch yesterday.  We had such a nice visit!  It was far too short though.  They brought over this lovely German wheat beer they said goes nicely with brunch, and of course we also had mimosas. 

On the menu:

Soft boiled eggs in my favourite egg cups
Toasted sesame bagels
Chocolate Raspberry Strudel from the Monastery Bakery
Roast Potatoes
Roasted asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto
Salmon Strata

Unfortunately I only remembered to get photos of the salmon and the asparagus before they went into the oven.  



Salmon Strata

Serves 6 but the 4 of us polished it off no problem.

Ingredients:

3 Croissants, cut into big cubes
 6 oz Smoked Salmon or more if you like, in small pieces
250 g of Camembert cheese, diced
1 1/2 Cups of milk
1 Cup of Sour cream
6 Eggs
2 Tbs of onion, chopped
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp of dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
6 Wedges of lemon

The night before:

Butter a large baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the croissant pieces, salmon and cheese.  Spread evenly in the bottom of the buttered baking dish.

In a bowl, beat together the milk, sour cream and eggs by hand for 1 minute.  Add the onion, capers, dill salt and pepper.  Pour over the salmon mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Remove from the fridge and place on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the mixture is nicely puffed and well browned and the eggs are cooked.  Serve with lemon wedges.



Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto


These are nice dipped in soft boiled eggs or as a side dish with roast beef.

Ingredients:

Bunch of asparagus spears, trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil for coating
Enough prosciutto to wrap around each asparagus spear, paper thin
Black pepper
1 Tbs of lemon est, grated

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Arrange asparagus spears in an oiled shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold them.  Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and turn to coat.  Wrap each spear with prosciutto and then sprinkle with pepper to taste.

Roast the asparagus turning once with tongs, until the spears are tender-crisp, about 15 minutes.  Arrange on a platter and sprinle with lemon zest.  Serve hot or warm.

Sole Poached in White Wine and Mushrooms



Happy New Year! As I mentioned Phil and I decided to take it easy this year by having a nice supper at home.  I decided to make something out of my Mastering the Art of French Cooking book Phil got me for Christmas.  We started off with oysters and champagne and leek and potato soup as the second course.  With the fish we had had green beans and fingerling potatoes sauteed in butter and fresh tarragon.  By the way, I'm really a fan of tarragon lately. 


It would be best to reference the cookbook, but here is a similar version for now.  There are a lot of steps to this recipe and it's easy to miss something if you don't read it before you begin cooking.  My fish was a little overcooked but the sauce was very tasty.  I changed the recipe to suit 2 people roughly.




Ingredients:

1 Cup of mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs of finely minced shallots
2 Tbs of butter
1/8 Tsp of salt
Pinch of pepper
2 Sole filets
1 1/2 Cups of cold white wine and water, mixed
2 Tbs of flour and 3 Tbs of softened butter blended to a paste
3/4 Cup of whipping cream
Lemon juice
1/4 Cup of of grated swiss cheese
1 Tbs. of butter cut into bits
Buttered parchment paper

For the sole:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Toss the mushrooms in hot butter over moderately high heat for a minute or two without browning.  Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Sprinkle half the shallots in the bottom of the buttered baking dish.  Season the filets lightly with salt and pepper and arrange them in one slightly overlapping layer and arrange mushrooms over them.  If the fish is thin, they may be folded in half so they make triangles.  Sprinkle the filets with the remaining shallots and dot with butter.  Pour in the liquid and water so the fish is barley covered.

Bring almost to a simmer on top of the stove.  Lay the buttered paper over the fish.  Then place dish in bottom third of preheated oven.  Maintain liquid almost at the simmer for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets.  The fish is done when a fork pierces the flesh easily.  Do not overcook!  I did and my fish was a little dry and flaky. 





Place a cover over the dish and drain out all the cooking liquids into a saucepan (The cookbook recommends an enameled pan).  Preheat the oven to broil on high.

The fish is now poached and ready for saucing.  It may be covered and kept warm for a few minutes over hot, but not simmering water ( I think this is where I overcooked mine).  Or set aside covered with its piece of paper, and reheat later for a few minutes over simmering water.  Before saucing the fish drain off any liquid which accumulated in the dish.

For the sauce:

Rapidly boil down the poaching liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup.

Off heat, beat the flour and butter paste in to the hot liquid, then 1/2 cup of cream.  Bring to a boil.  Thin out the sauce with additional tablespoons of cream until it coats the spoon.  Season with salt and pepper and drops of lemon juice.

Spoon the sauce over the fish.  Sprinkle on the cheese and dot with butter.  Place dish 6 to 7 inches from broiler for 2-3 minutes to reheat fish and brown top of sauce lighlty.  Serve as soon as possible.


Here are they oysters we enjoyed before all the cooking began, and the beans and potatoes we had with the fish.  These potatoes were sauteed in butter and sprinkled with fresh tarragon.  Let me know if you would like more information on how to prepare.