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!