Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sausage and Garlic Pasta

I stumbled across this recipe from a Nigel Slater book. The picture caught my attention first followed by the ease of making the dish. The original recipe calls for fresh thyme and no sausage although I think he does mention that you can add sausage or chorizo to the pasta.

I normally strip the sausage meat from the skin and break the sausage up into bite size pieces before pan frying them but today I bought the wrong sausages so I just sliced them instead. Any flavored sausage works well although I do try to avoid heavily herbs sausages as they can take the flavor away from the fresh herbs in the pasta sauce.

You also want to try to use a pasta that can hold the sauce. Pasta shells and penne would work well unlike tagaletelli or linguine where the sauce will slip off. I make this recipe by eye so the recipe below only gives an approximate amount of ingredients, so go with your gut feeling

Sausage and Garlic Pasta (serves 2-3)
2 Medium Garlic Bulbs
2 Cups Pasta (Fusilli)
1 Cup Half and half
2-3 Sausages
1Tbsp of finely chopped fresh Oregano
Salt and Pepper
Oil

Firstly you will need to roast the garlic bulbs. Place the garlic onto a piece of foil. Sprinkle with Oil and seal the foil around the garlic. Roast in a pre heated oven at 350 for approx 30 minutes or until the garlic is soft. When roasted alllow to cool before squeezing out all the garlic from the cloves.. Meanwhile strip the sausages from their skin and fry off bite size pieces in a skillet. Drain off any fat and remove the sausage. Over a medium heat add the roasted garlic to the skillet and some of the cream. Mash the garlic with the back of the spoon and combine with the cream. Simmer until the sauce gets thicker and keep adding the cream until you get the right consistency and enough sauce.(The longer you simmer it for the thicker it will become). Season with salt and pepper and add the oregano and the sausage. Stir to combine. Cook the pasta until al dente and add to the skillet and coat well in the sauce. Serve immediately alongside a crisp salad. Sprinkle wit Parmesan cheese if desired.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Greek Spinach and Feta Flatbread

I am undergoing an experiment and I hope to God it works, as my kitchen is producing some fantastic aromas and the thought of this flat bread is making my mouth water so much. Our kitchen cupboards are pretty bare this week and I have a fridge full of odds and sods. Nothing seams to go together. Sitting alone in the cheese box of my fridge was a medium piece of feta left over from a previous salad that needed to be used up. I scoured the fridge for any remaining ingredients that could go with this tangy cheese. There is was, half a large box of baby spinach leaves. I really didn't have to think too hard as to what I wanted to do. Originally a spinach and feta pie came to mind but I had no eggs to make pastry as Ian and I had devoured them over brunch yesterday. My thoughts then turned towards a type of flat bread. I had seen a recipe some time ago using two Indian roti's that sandwiched together some potato, onions and spices. I thought this idea might work with the spinach and feta...hence the experiment.
Spread the filling out flat leaving space at the edges

As I was making the filling I new what flavors I wanted and added them by taste. The filling turned out darn tasty..with a dash of this and a dash of that the perfect filling was made. I used my trusty tortilla recipe minus the oil to make the flat bread and allowed it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling it out into small discs. A small amount of filling was added onto the top of the discs before being covered with another disc and rolled out to make a thin flat bread. At first I found that some of the filling did ooze out of the edges but with a bit of practice that ooze was minimal. These were then pan fried in a dry pan until the flat bread began to brown. The smell was amazing..I couldn't wait to tuck in. These would be perfect served alongside a Greek salad salsa. I had some of the filling left so I used this to serve alongside as a dip. Hummus would work well too.

For the Filling
2 Tbsp Cream Cheese
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
1/2 Onion finely diced
1 Garlic Clove minced
Small box of Baby spinach leaves
1/2-1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Grated Lemon zest
Feta Cheese Crumbled (Add to taste)
Salt and Pepper

For the flat bread
Click here
(Do not add oil)

Prepare the flat bread, cover in clingfilm and chill for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a frying pan soften the onion until translucent, add the garlic, spinach, cumin, oregano, lemon zest and lemon juice and wilt the spinach. Season with a small amount of salt and plenty of pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Add the sour cream and cream cheese to the pan and allow to melt together. Chop the spinach mixture up finely and add back into the pan with the crumbled feta. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

Remove the flat bread dough from the fridge and divide into several golf ball pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. On a floured surface press the dough ball flat with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin roll the dough into small discs approx 5-7 mm thick. Add a teaspoon of the filling into the centre of one disc and spread thinly. Brush water around the edges of the dough before covering with another disc. Seal the two pieces of dough together and gently roll out to a thinner disc approx 5 mm in total. In a dry frying pan over a high heat add the flat bread and brown the underside. The bread will begin to bubble and brown spots will appear on the dough. Flip the bread over when this happens and brown the other side. Continue to make up the flat breads untill all dough has been used. Serve warm with a dip of your choice.
This experiment worked so well. The flat breads do need to have a dip served alongside otherwise they may be too dry.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thumb-print Cookies

My mum used to make a similar cookie to these, she called them Viennese whirls. Mum's had a lighter  shortbread cookie  underneath the jam. She used to pipe the cookie mixture into a paper case and then add the hot jam once they were baked. These cookies are the closest I can get to them and  as I am not much of a baker, these were darn good. The only downside is that you can't eat them straight out of the oven unless you want third degree burns to your mouth. (Not nice). They are well worth the wait though.

Thumb-print cookies (makes 12)
1/2 Cup Softened Butter
1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Flour
12 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
2/3 Cup Melted Jam
1/4 Tsp Salt

Cream together the butter, sugar and egg yolk only until light and fluffy. (Reserve the egg white in a separate bowl). Stir in the flour, vanilla extract and salt. Shape dough into small balls. Coat in egg white then roll in the walnuts before placing them on a lined baking sheet approx 2 inches apart. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a wooden spoon handle poke dents into each cookie. Add a dollop of the melted jam into these dents and continue to bake until the cookies are browned and baked through. The original recipe called for 8 minutes. I let mine bake for approx 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before enjoying....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Warming Chilli

You can't beat a bowl of hot steamy chilli on a cold fall or winters day. It warms you up through and through and can be served almost alongside anything, nachos, cheese scones, biscuits, crusty bread, rice, baked potatoes, corn bread, salad...the list is endless. I find chilli so versatile and for that reason I tend to make a large batch of chilli and freeze any leftovers (that's if we ever have any). I have been experimenting with my chilli for a while trying to get the spiciness right. Ian likes a hot hot chilli where as I like a mild chilli. I do believe though that my taste buds can take a little more heat than what they once did. I always stick to the main ingredients when making a chilli but  recently have been trying out new flavors to make my chilli more rounded.

I have been reading a few recipes and some have used a shot of coffee to give the chili a rich flavor. I thought that I would give this a go. Other options included adding plain chocolate to the pan and using different chilli's. After my experiment tonight I think I have perfected the perfect chilli....well at least for moi!!!

Chilli
500g Minced Beef
1 Small Sirloin steak cut into 1cm cubes
1 Medium Onion
1 Medium Green Pepper
3 Garlic Cloves
2 Smoked Chipotle Peppers and 1tsp Juice from Can
1Tsp Ground Coriander
1Tsp Smoked Paprika
1Tsp Paprika
2 Tsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Shot of Espresso
Salt
1 Can Crushed Tomatoes (300ml approx)
1 Can of Kidney or romano beans 
11/2 Cups Beef Stock
Flour for coating the steak
To begin with finely dice the onion, garlic and green pepper. In a large pan add a splash of oil and gently sweat the onion,garlic and pepper until they become soft. Meanwhile coat the cubes of steak in the flour and add to the pan and brown. Add the minced beef and brown. Then add all the spices and stir well to coat the contents of the pan. Add the liquid ingredients and tomato paste and mix well. Finally add the beans. Season with salt and simmer on a low heat for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop whilst stirring occasionally. (The longer the chilli stays simmering the more flavorsome it comes). I simmer the chilli with the lid on but if the sauce is not thick enough I remove the lid for a while until it thickens up. Serve warm.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winter Salad (Feta, Cranberries and Walnut salad)

With Christmas and the American Thanksgiving  coming up there will be many heavy meals eaten and I'm sure some people will be fed up of full on meals. So to break this pattern I came up with this winter salad. It is based on the holiday season but much lighter than the traditional foods. It incorporates the holiday flavors of cranberries, toasted walnuts and cheese. It is finished off with a fruity raspberry vinaigrette which makes for a lovely refreshing salad that works well with cold cuts of turkey. We served the salad alongside hot turkey rolls for a mid week dinner.

Winter Salad
4 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
1 Small Head of Steamed Broccoli florets (cooled)
Thin slices of 1/2 small red onion
1/2 Cup Walnuts
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
Raspberry vinaigrette (enough to coat the salad)
Pinch of S&P

In a large salad bowl toss all the ingredients together except the vinaigrette. Just before serving add enough vinegarette to coat the leaves and toss well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gooey Chocolate fudge cake

We all need chocolate and some of us who are impulsive need it straight away. This cake is for those impulsive ones. It takes 5 minutes to cook and less than 5 minutes to devour. It comes out as a light chocolate sponge with a gooey chocolate sauce hidden around the bottom. Yum yum.

This recipe cooks the cake in the microwave but for those of you who don't possess a microwave you can bake it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. I think I will play around with this recipe at a later date to make treacle sponge and sticky toffee pudding.

Funny looking hey...but oh so tasty
Gooey Chocolate fudge cake
110g All purpose flour
1tsp Baking powder
110g Brown Sugar
55g Melted Butter
1 Egg
4 Tbsp Milk
30g Cocoa powder
Pinch Salt
1Tbsp Vanilla extract
For the sauce
110g Brown Sugar
30g Cocoa Powder
125 mls Hot Water

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract, milk and egg to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a microwavable bowl. The sides should be about 5 cm high as the cake will rise. Mix the remaining sugar and cocoa powder together and sprinkle over the dough. Pour the hot water over top of the cake gently. Cook in the microwave on a high heat for 5 mins. The cake will rise and there will be a lovely sticky chocolate sauce seeping down towards the bottom.  Best served with ice cream.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Coconut Prawns/Shrimp

I have attempted to write this post at least two times and everything I write sounds wrong. Nothing flowed together...a bit like dinner tonight. I knew I wanted to have a picky dinner and potato wedges were a definite but what was to go with it. I had a turkey breast thawing and some left over ham but these didn't float my boat. I hunted into the depths of the freezer and found a bag of plump juicy prawns. My thoughts turned towards coconut coated prawns. That was it dinner was decided, coconut prawns, spicy coleslaw and potato wedges. Not the most healthiest of dinners but it will be definitely be tasty.


The issue was do I fry the prawns or bake them... To be healthier I think I will bake them....lets hope the coating stays on hey!!! (To be honest I'll probably experiment and do a bit of both.... A taste test).


It has been 4 hours since I started this post and the experiment is in progress. So far the pan fried coconut prawn is in the lead. The baked prawn is a close second though. Now time for the taste test. The fried prawn is a little more crispier than the baked prawn and the coating has turned a much nicer shade of brown. To help the coconut brown on the baked prawn I slightly toasted the coconut before using it in the coating but to be honest this didn't really make any difference. I think for tonight I'll have the pan fried prawns. 

Coconut Prawns
Raw shelled Prawns (20)
1 Egg White
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut
1tsp Salt
1tsp Paprika

In a bowl mix together the breadcrumbs the coconut, salt and paprika and set to one side. In another large bowl slightly whisk the egg white until it becomes loose and then add the prawns and coat thoroughly in the egg white. Take a few prawns out of the egg white mixture and toss in the coconut mixture and coat well,  before pan frying the prawns in a hot pan with vegetable oil. Once browned and cooked through place on kitchen roll and blot of any excess oil. Serve with a variety of dips. I chose sweet chilli and garlic mayo.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Posh cheese on toast with onion marmalade

This is a twist on a welsh rarebit recipe, a thick cheesy sauce grilled over toasted bread. Basically a posh cheese on toast. Apparently it is Britain's version of the continental European fondue. It works really well with the onion marmalade. The sweetness of the marmalade cuts through the creaminess of the cheese. This recipe will make for 2 slices of toast.

Onion Marmalade
1 Large Onion sliced finely
1/2 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Brown Sugar (Add enough to suit your taste)
Olive Oil
1-2 Tsp Chilli Flakes

Over a medium heat fry the onions in a little olive oil until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar, chilli flakes and vinegar. Bring to a slow simmer stirring occasionally until the marmalade begins to get thicker. This should take approx 20-25 minutes. Allow the marmalade to cool slightly.

Cheese Sauce
3/4 Cup Grated Cheddar
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tsp Mustard
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1 Egg Yolk

Into a bowl add the sour cream, mustard and egg yolk. Whisk to combine. Add the cheese and mix well.

Now its time to assemble. Toast thick slices of good quality bread on both sides. Spread a good spoonful of the onion marmalade on one side of the toast. Top with the cheese sauce mixture, then grill under a medium heat until the cheese sauce begins to brown and bubble. Remove from grill allow to cool for 30 seconds before delving in.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegetable Torta

Having had 3 weeks of work and indulging myself in hearty meaty dishes it was time to think vegetables..... How can you spruce up vegetables? A torta!!! which I have to say  is not what I would have called it. My understanding of a torta was a Mexican sandwich, not a layering of vegetables. Maybe I should call it layered vegetables. That still doesn't sound right doesn't it? Anyway enough of me rambling, lets get the recipe up. 

The original recipe calls for some of the vegetables to be roasted. I found that this took too long and dried out the vegetables too much, therefore I pan fried most of the veggies. This recipe will make enough for four people to have as a side or two people to have as a light supper. It would be great served alongside a fresh crusty baguette. We had it with grilled sausages and garlic pasta.

Vegetable Torta
2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Medium Eggplant
2 Zucchinis
1 Large White Onion
1 Garlic Clove minced
Handful of Basil and Parsley finely chopped
6 Rashers Bacon (Optional)
Grated Havarti Cheese (Optional)

Cut the bell peppers in half and place on a baking tray flesh side down. Place under a very hot grill until the skins begin to char and blacken. Remove from the grill and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled removed the skins, stems and cut out the seeds. Cut the halves into quarters and lay flat.

Fry the bacon until crispy, remove from pan and allow to cool. Chop into small pieces. Reserve the bacon fat in the frying pan for the pan-frying of the onions. 

Slice the eggplant and zuchini lengthwise approximatley 5mm in thickness and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and coat with a generous amount of olive oil. (This is where the original recipe stated you can roast this on a baking sheet in the oven until brown) I pan fried the eggplant and zucchini in batches in a dry frying pan until  the vegetables were cooked through and browned on each side. Once again allow the veggies to cool.

Slice the onions into rings and fry them in the bacon fat with the garlic until they become softened. Once again remove from pan and allow to cool.

Now that all the veggies have been prepared, this is where the layering begins. Line an 8inch spring loaded cake pan with plastic wrap allowing extra plastic wrap to fall over the sides. This will be used to cover the vegetables once layered. Firstly layer half of the eggplant followed by a sprinkling of the herbs. Then layer with half the zucchini, peppers and onion mixture. Sprinkle with some more herbs, the cheese and bacon. Top with the remaining zucchini, peppers and onion mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs and seal the torta with the remaining eggplant. Wrap the remaining plastic wrap over the top of the torta, press down and refrigerate for as long as you can.

To serve loosen the spring from the cake pan and gently remove the torta. Flip onto a plate and remove the plastic wrap. Allow to sit until it reaches room temperature then cut into large wedges. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ribs with beer and barbecue sauce

We bought a slow cooker!!!

Wow, is all I can say.... I have been wanting a slow cooker for a while now and I am so glad we have one. I spent many times dreaming of coming home to a hearty fall of the bone meal. Well yesterday that dream came true. Yay!! And to top it off I didn't spend hours slaving over the stove. It all went into one pot which took about 15 minutes to prepare.


Our first slow cooked meal was a cowboy dinner, BBQ ribs with baked beans and mash. Bring it on. The ribs were awesome. They were tender and definitely fell of the bone. Both Ian and I went back for seconds and thirds!!!! I can't wait to cook in the slow cooker again.

Ribs with beer and barbecue sauce
3lbs 5oz pork ribs (I used a combination of  side and back ribs)
3/4 Cup Beer
3/4 Cup Barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp Sweet Chilli sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Spring onions thinly sliced
2 Crushed Garlic cloves
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Handful Cilantro

Firstly cut the ribs into individual ribs and trim any excess fat. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients with the exception of the cornstarch and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ribs and thoroughly coat them in the sauce.

Transfer the ribs and marinade into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the ribs are tender. When cooked removed the ribs and keep warm. Mix the cornstarch with 1tbsp of water and stir into the remaining sauce in the slow cooker. Continue to cook for ten minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Serve the ribs piled onto plates and spoon oversome of the sauce. Garnish with the cilantro.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Caramel Nut Tart

Yes...I'm thinking Christmas already. Christmas is going to be a very busy time of the year for us. We are moving up to Quesnel,

In preparation for our move, we spent last week in Quesnel organising our new house and buying a new winter wardrobe for both Ian and I. Whilst we were up there some kind new friends invited us to spend Christmas eve with them to have our Christmas dinner. We jumped at the chance as we know our house will be in chaos, and what better way to see in our new life with friends. We do plan to have a Christmas dinner on Christmas day in our new home hence the menu planning. The starter and main course have been decided, it is just the dessert we are struggling with. Ian and I are not fans of the traditional Christmas pudding at all so I have been trying to find a recipe for a delicious Christmas dessert.

I found a potential Christmas dessert yesterday when I picked up the 'Taste' magazine at the liquor store. As I was flicking through the pages the Caramel Nut Tart jumped out at me. I went to the grocery store, picked up a few essentials and by the afternoon I had the tart baking in the oven. By the evening Ian  and I were gorging on slices of nut tart, brie and sliced apples. It was divine.
The original recipe calls for bourbon, we didn't have any bourbon so I added rum. Unfortunately the rum flavor never came out so I think next time when I  make this I will soak the nuts in the liquor for 20 minutes  to see if the flavor will develop. Although we enjoyed the tart last night, the piece I had today tasted much better as the caramel had set more and the nuts had slightly softened. Definitely a tart that improves overnight. The longer it stays in the chiller the better.

Caramel Nut Tart
(Adapted from 'Taste')
1 Pie shell
1/4 Cup Butter
3/4 Cups Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 Cup Bourbon/Rum
1/3 Cup Whipping Cream
2 Cups Salted Mixed Nuts

Bake the pie shell blind until it crust just starts to turn golden around the edges, approx 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Allow the shell to fully cool before making the filling. To make the filling place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over a medium heat, Add the sugar, honey, and liquor and bring to the boil stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in the whipping cream and nuts. Bring back to the boil for one minute and removed from the heat. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake tart for 20 minutes until the filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature and then chill for at least 1 hour to allow the caramel to set properly. To serve cut into wedges.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Coronation chicken

Yesterday I was in the mood for Coronation chicken. Shredded chicken bathed in a mild curry flavored creamy sauce. This makes for a wonderful sandwich filling or baked potato filling. It is so quick and easy to make and is perfect when your needing to use up any left over roast chicken. Yesterday I used poached  chicken breasts which I shredded up rather than roast chicken but to be honest any cold chicken would be fine. 

Coronation Chicken
Shredded Chicken
For the Sauce :
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
1 Tsp Curry Powder/Paste
1 Tsp Mango Chutney
1/4 Spoon Honey
Chopped Almonds (Optional)
Chopped Apricots (Optional)
Chopped Cilantro
Salt & Pepper

Mix all the sauce ingredients together, season with salt & pepper. Allow the sauce to chill for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Then mix the shredded chicken into sauce until all the chicken is covered and voila an instant filling or salad side. I doubled up on the sauce and used 3 chicken breasts.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Steak and Potato Pie



Today I was feeling a little bit home food sick.  We all know that British food is not known for it culinary delights. Many people feel that it is stodgy and heavy. I like to think of British food as good wholesome comfort food. Fish n Chips, Roast Beef and Fish pie are but a few. If spruced up in a posh restaurant would critics think of it negatively. I think not. Today's post is a homage to British food and my memories of it.

Steak & Potato Pie
For the pastry.
300g Flour
75g Butter
75g Shortening/Lard
4-5 Tbsp Water
Salt and Pepper
Egg Yolk and milk to glaze

For the filling.
500kg Stewing Steak
4 Rashers of Bacon sliced
1/2 Large Onion diced
1 Medium russett potato diced
1 1/2 Cups Beef Stock
Splash Worcestershire Sauce
Large pinch mixed herbs (rosemary,thyme, tarragon etc)
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
Flour to coat the meat

Pastry:
Cut the butter and shortening/ lard into the flour until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and slowly add tbsps of water one at a time until the mixture can be mixed into a ball of dough Try not to overwork the dough. Wrap in cling-film and store in the fridge for 20 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll one half out, then line the pie dish. Cover in cling-film and place back in the fridge. The second half can go back in the fridge until the pie filling is made.

For the filling:
Using a paper towel blot of any excess water that is present on the meat. In a large bowl add enough seasoned flour to coat the meat. Pour the meat into the bowl of seasoned flour and coat well. Meanwhile in a medium pan melt a good knob of butter and oil and add the sliced bacon rashers. Cook down until fat renders. In batches fry the stewing steak until brown on all sides. Its doesn't need to be cooked through. Remove the steak from the pan and add the potatoes, onions and dried herbs to the pan. Stir well to combine. Cook for approx 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and scrape of any brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. It should simmer. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and the bay leaves. Stir the meat back into the pan, cover and simmer on a low heat for approx 40 minutes. After making the filling remove the bay leaves. If the sauce gets too thick add some more water. Allow the filling to completely cool before pouring into the pastry lined pie dish. Roll the remaining pastry out and cover the pie. Pinch the pastry sides together, brush the egg wash over top of the pastry and poke a hole in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape. In a preheated oven at 400 degrees bake the pie on the middle shelve for approx 30 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
Before...
and after....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ginger Snap Cookies

As you can see my posts have been a little sparse recently. Back in August I told you that we were going to ride whatever came our way and our potential move was postponed. Well the wave we rode has sent us back on course to our potential move. We are excited, yet nervous as we don't want to count our chickens before they have hatched. We want to celebrate but are scared to do so until all the t's have been crossed and all the i's have been dotted. As a result my cooking has taken a side step and has not been that experimental. I am sticking to trusty recipes that are easy and quick to make. Recipes that I feel are to weak to post on my blog.

I would however like to share a ginger snap cookie recipe which I found on epicurious.com. These cookies are slightly cakey and are wonderful on there own but would be even better served with vanilla ice-cream and a hot caramel sauce. I wish I had pictures to show you but what with all the goings on in our house at the moment my camera has been a little ignored. (I even cut and pasted the recipe!!!! That's how crazy we have been).

Ginger Snap Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (I used golden corn syrup instead...only because I didn't have molasses)
  • 1 large egg
  • parchment paper
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar





Into a large bowl sift together 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking soda, and spices and whisk in brown sugar. In a small saucepan melt butter and whisk into flour mixture with molasses and egg until combined well. With a wooden spoon stir in remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour until combined well. Chill dough, covered, until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350°F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and in a small bowl roll balls in granulated sugar to coat. Arrange balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until flattened and a shade darker, 10 to 12 minutes. (Cookies will puff slightly and then collapse slightly, and tops will be covered with little cracks.) Cool cookies on baking sheets 2 minutes and transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cheese scones

I was making a huge pot of chilli for tonights dinner and thought what else can I have with it besides rice. After racking my brain I decided that a cheese scone would go nicely. I had a rough idea of how to make a scone mixture, but pretty much went by the trial and error theory. The trial and error theory worked out very well. I was so impressed that I bypassed waiting for chilli to cook and decided to have the scone with an avocado pear for my lunch.

Cheese Scones
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Grated Cheese
250mls Milk
1 Egg
3 Tbsp Olive Oil




Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In alarge measuring jug whisk together the milk, egg and oil. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix at the same time (You may not need all the wet mixture) until the dough becomes slightly wet and soft but not too sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface, mold gently into a circle and flatten down with your hands until the dough is approximatley an inch thick. Cut into quarters and brush any remaining wet mixture over top before baking on a parchment lined baking sheet (on the middle shelve) for 12- 15 minutes or until golden brown,

These can be served alongside chillis, soups, stews or just on there own.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegetable Soup


The weather is definitely turning, the mornings are crisper and there is that cold chill that rides on the tail end of the breeze. The farmers markets are abundant with the late summer harvest, crispy green apples, juicy nectarines, fuzzy peaches, assorted varieties of squash, zucchini's and every potato imaginable. Even hazelnuts have appeared, a sign that Autumn is on its way. Our meals also show signs of Autumn. A chicken casserole with fresh sweet carrots was enjoyed last week, apple pies were made and ginger snap cookies were just what the doctor ordered. A nice spicy warming cookie enjoyed with the perfectly brewed tea. Oh I love it when a season changes.

Soup is a great way to welcome in Autumn and use up those remaining vegetables that sit in the bottom of the fridge. I always find that I have a few veggies left over that don't quite make up a meal but I hate the idea of wasting them. What I tend to do is freeze any left over veggies so that I can make a nice hearty vegetable soup. Something that I have been craving for a couple of days.

I had collected a good selection of veggies so I knew my soup would be satisfying and nutritious. Vegetable soup always reminds me of when I worked as a kitchen assistant in a residential home. Every Sunday we would serve a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, carrots, brussel sprouts, swede (rutabaga) and roast potatoes. After serving, my job would be to make stock with the remaining chicken carcasses. Into the pan went the carcasses with a large onion a couple of carrots and a leak or celery, salt and pepper and a collection of herbs. This simmered away in water for a couple of hours whilst the residents enjoyed there lunch. This was then strained and any left over veg was added to the stock, simmered for a short while and blitzed to make a thick soup. It always tasted soooo good especially alongside fresh bread lathered with thick butter. Happy Days!!!! 

Today I wanted to revisit those happy days, so to go alongside my soup I made some fresh country bread. It was perfect and made for a lovely supper.

Vegetable Soup
1 Large Russet Potato Diced
1 Large Red Onion Diced
1/2 Roasted Butternut Squash Diced
1 Ear of Corn (kernels cut from corn)
2 Carrots sliced
1/2 Green zucchini diced
1 Head of Broccoli Florets
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
3 Cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

In a large stock pot over a medium heat add some oil and soften the onion, potato, zucchini and carrots. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and simmer with the lid on for 5 minutes. The potatoes, squash and tomatoes will begin to break down. Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for 20- 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Blitz the soup in batches and return back to the pan. Add a good swig of olive oil and salt and pepper for seasoning. (Season to your taste). If you find the soup is too thick add some more water. Serve in large bowls with hunks of fresh bread and butter.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies


When I was a child my mother always used to make homemade cookes. My favorites were her ginger snaps and oatmeal cookies. Yesterday I was craving her old fashioned oatmeal cookies, so I decided to attempt and make a batch. I am no baker, but these turned out excellent. It took me all of 20 minutes to make and bake them. I had visions of them being tough and claggy...but no... they were light and above all very very tasty (not that dissimilar to my Mums). 

I reminisced and reverted back to my child hood as I was dunking them in my cup of tea and sucking on all the sugary goodness. You can't beat a good dunk!! Some things never change.

Oatmeal Cookies (makes approx 24)
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of Soft Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Quick Rolled Oats
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
Pinch Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
Handful of Sultanas and Nuts(I used a mixture of Cashews and Pine Nuts...It's all I had)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl using a mixer cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon mix all the remaining ingredients into the bowl until cookie dough is formed.  Pinch off pieces of the dough (approx golf ball sizes) and roll into a ball, then push the tops flat. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet leaving approximatley an inch and a half between the cookies. Bake on the middle shelve for 10-12 minutes. Turn the baking sheet around half way through to ensure even baking. Allow to cool and then enjoy them with a large cup of tea... Alex style!!!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Flat Bread Pizza's


You can't beat a good pizza!! Whether it is a deep pan  loaded with cheese or an elegant thin crust with sumptuous toppings. They can be dressed up or dressed down, served as a main or as a side or eaten just as a snack. I used to love deep pan pizza but now sway toward the thin crust as I love to gorge on the flavour of the toppings and not feel too breaded out. Deep pan does have it's place though, for me this is on a movie or sports night, when drinks are flowing and entertainment is had.

Today I decided to make a thin crust pizza using my flat bread recipe and loaded it up with sour cream, pesto, tomato, cheese and olives. This went perfectly with the left over salmon from last night and a fresh zucchini lemon dressed salad.


Flat bread Pizza (Makes 2)
For the base:
1 3/4 Cups All purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
3/4 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Olive Oil



Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly pour in the oil and water and mix into a dough. Kneed four to five times, you  may need to add a little more water if dough is too dry.  Divide dough into two pieces. Wrap one in clingfilm whilst rolling the other out on parchment paper finely to approx 5mm. Spread a thin layer of tomato paste over top add pesto and sour cream and then load with you favorite toppings. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

Transfer the pizza whilst still on the parchment paper onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the base and toppings are golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More pictures for my book

Prosciutto and Squash salad

Mexican Chicken with Avocado cream

Beef Stew

Lamb Pitta's


Now its time for Mussels and Fries!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The book.....

My poor book has been ignored too many times now. There are no excuses that I can use. I have just been too lazy and caught up in other things. Our potential move have now been postponed and to be honest I can't see it happening in the imminent future. Planning the future is sooo exhausting... now it's time to just ride whatever comes our way for a while. The pressure has decreased a great deal and has allowed Ian and I to relax and concentrate on having fun and getting back into our hobbies and passion for life. Thank goodness.

One of my first thoughts was my book and the dust it would have collected if it were a real book!!! I opened the program and nearly had a heart attack when I couldn't find the file. I scanned my computer and there it was cowering away in the dark depths. I opened the file and showed it some luurrvve and again felt proud of what had already been achieved. I should however be feeling guilty at this point as hardly any progression has been made in a long while. I think the last photo entry was of my rice wraps which was entered back in April... That's three months ago. It is a good job that a publishing house is not waiting for me. I think I would be fired!!!

I scoured through my book and am 17 photos down. Luckily for me it's summer and most of the remaining photos are for summer recipes. So next week we are going to be eating our way through the salad chapter and some of the main's chapter.

I was telling Ian of my plan and what was needed to complete the book and he was more excited than what I thought he would be. He has even put a day aside so we can process the photos and input them into the book together. God, I love him. I know it sounds slushy but he has been so supportive of everything I do ranging from the blog to the book. Maybe he knows that he going to get fed well in the next couple of weeks. The other thing I must tell you, which has no real relevance to the book is that Ian was researching our upcoming American road trip by watching Anthony Bourdain's no reservations. He loves the way Anthony expresses his opinions about the places were he visits. You never know we may just be visiting some food joints recommended by Mr. Bourdain himself!!!

Anyway I'll keep you all updated on the progress of the book and of course the imminent publication date (hahaha) :)

Ian enjoying some local Oysters

Polenta with corn succotash


I owe this blog post to Dana who has the most fantastic fresh recipes on her blog (danatreat.com). Recently I have been off meat... I am finding it over facing. I don't know whether I have been 'meated' out or that a stomach bug I had last week is still lingering. Whatever the reason it has made me look at different vegetable and salad recipes.

As Ian is an avid meat eater I always like to choose veggie dishes that can be served alongside any meat. Yesterday I chose Dana's dish as it was light, summery and looked fantastic. I originally was wanting to make the polenta from scratch however my local store didn't sell cornmeal, so I cheated and bought a roll of basil herb polenta (which worked well but was a little to firm for my liking and wasn't buttery enough). All the ingredients were locally sourced, the corn from Chilliwack, the tomatoes from Abbottsford which for me makes it taste even better. I added an additional onion which was not called for in the original recipe. To be honest you could make it a true succotash and add lima beans and possibly a red pepper. Anything that is fresh and summery. The most important ingredient which sets this dish alive is the basil. Please please please make sure that this is fresh. I used to find basil really soapy but on this recipe it is the best.

I made a huge dish of this summery delight and was surprised that we had no leftovers. A good meal was had by all. I served this dish alongside Cajun crusted chicken for Ian as it had a spicy kick to it from the jalapeño pepper and I had it with tuna mayonnaise. It would go so well with grilled pitta bread or even just on its own. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks Dana.

Polenta with Corn Succotash. (Serves 4 as side dish, 2 as main)

Polenta
3 Ears of Corn (shave the kernels off)
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes cut in half
1/2 Red Onion finely diced
1 Cup of Tomato Sauce (I used passatta)
1 Clove of Garlic minced
1 Jalepeno pepper diced
1 Cup of  Basil finely sliced
Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
S&P

If making the polenta from scratch make according to the package and allow to firm up so you can cut it into triangles. If like me you use the rolls of polenta slice up into 1cm thick discs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Meanwhile sauté the kernels and onion in a little oil until tender, season with S&P and allow to cool. Whilst these are sauteing marinade the tomatoes in a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. When the corn and onion mixture is cool add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of basil and the jalapeño pepper and mix to combine.



Pour the tomato sauce into a 9 x 13" baking dish. Sprinkle over the garlic and season with S&P if needed. Layer the polenta slices/triangles all over the base of the dish.. Evenly spread the corn, onion and tomato mixture over the polenta and sprinkle with Parmesan.. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes covered, remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese has browned. Remove from oven, allow to stand for 5-10 minutes ans sprinkle with remaining half cup of basil. Et voila a gorgeous yummy summery dish.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Citrus Marmalade


A couple of days ago I had a go at making citrus marmalade. I spent two hours zesting and slicing 41/2 lbs  of mixed citrus fruit before watching everything boil together to make a lovely orange sticky goo. The original recipe called for a sugar thermometer. Something that I don't possess, so I was very nervous when testing to see if the marmalade was done. I once tried to make marmalade about 7-8 years ago, which did not turn out well at all. It smelt great and tasted great but was more like a thick sticky syrup. I did not want this to happen again and thank goodness it didn't. I chilled my plate and every so often I dropped a large dollop of hot runny marmalade onto the plate...waited a few minutes and pushed my finger through it to see if it was firm enough. After three attempts I was happy.

After canning the marmalade I couldn't wait for it to cool to see if my creation had turned out OK. I prepared my toast and began to spread my homemade marmalade over top. It was lovely. The only criticism I had was that I had probably boiled it for a few minutes too long as it was more firmer than I would have liked. But for my first attempt it was great. It took Ian and I three days to finish off one jar. I even traded a jar of marmalade for a large bag full of organically grown beet greens from our neighbor. How perfect is that.

Citrus Marmalade (Adapted from www.foodinjars.com)
41/2 lb Citrus Fruit.(Grapefruit, Navel Oranges, Lemon, Limes-weigh with peal on)
I used 3 Grapefruit, 4 Oranges, 1 lemon and 1 lime.
6 Cups Sugar
4 Cups Poaching Liquor

Wash fruit thoroughly. Using a vegetable peeler slice the rind off all the fruit, then slice these thinly into medium size shards. (I used a zester as my vegetable peeler is useless) Add these shards with six cups of water to a pan set over a medium heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile remove the pith and membrane from the fruit (I slice the top and bottom of the fruit and then using a sharp knife I cut down the sides of the fruit removing the pith and membrane). Once removed cut the fruit segments out over a bowl reserving the membranes and pips. Wrap all the reserved membranes, pith and seeds together in a piece of cheesecloth and secure tightly. Next drain the zest reserving the poaching liquor.

In a large stainless steal pot or enameled cast iron pot combine the citrus fruit, 6 cups of sugar, 4 cups of poaching liquor and the cheesecloth package and boil vigorously for approximately 30-40 minutes, until the marmalade reaches a temp of 220 degrees. (I kept stirring it every 5 minutes or so to stop it from potentially burning at the bottom) You can test whether the marmalade is ready by dropping some onto a cold plate. Once it cools you should be able to push your finger through the marmalade to see if it is firm enough or not. If not boil for another few minutes.

While the marmalade is boiling you can prepare your jars. I washed mine is hot soapy water and then boiled them in a large pan for ten minutes. The snap caps were place in the water once boiling had finished. This just softens the seal. Once the jars are air dried and still warm ladle your marmalade into them add the snap cap and secure with the screw ring. Lower these into a water bath and boil for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 12-14 hours and voila, fresh yummy marmalade.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Clam Chowder

I absolutely love clam chowder. I first had it when we came to Canada in 2008 served with a huge corned beef and sauerkraut toasted sandwich. It was bliss.

I don't know why it took me so long to make it......but I'm so glad I did. It was a triumph. As with most of my recipes I adapted a good old fashioned recipe and put my own spin on it. Have a go and let me know what you think

Clam Chowder
I Large can of Clams in Juice (400g)
1 Cup chopped red onion
3 Cups small diced red potatoes
2 Cups of half and half cream
1Tbsp Butter plus some extra for sautéing
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Dill chopped
S&P

In a large saucepan add a good knob of butter and melt over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté' until softened, then remove and set aside. Keeping the pan on the heat add the Tbsp butter and melt. Stir in the flour until you get a thick paste. Strain the clams and retain the juice. Add this juice slowly  into the flour paste and stir to blend them together making a thickish sauce. Add the diced potatoes and simmer with the lid on for 10 mins or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally You may need to add some water or more clam juice if the stock gets too thick Once the  potatoes are tender return the onions to the pan and the clams. Mix well and then add the cream. Season with salt and pepper and dill. Simmer for a further 3-5 minutes. Then serve.

PHOTO'S TO FOLLOW :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cherry Overload....Scones and Iced tea


Last week I bought half a pound of cherries from the farmers market and they seam to have lasted forever. They have been on several picnics with us and we have often been snacking on them so why so many left? Today that answer didn't matter.... they came into their own, making a wonderful drink and a sweet snack. Originally I had just planned to make scones with them but once stoned and chopped there were even more, so cherry iced tea came into play and I am so glad it did. Currently I'm sipping on a nice cool glass of the iced tea, mmm mmm.

I was surprised at how easy both recipes were. In total it took me half an hour to make both and that included baking times etc.

Cherry Scones
1/4 Cup of stoned chopped cherries
2 Cups of Self Raising Flour
30 grams Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Water
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Sugar
Brown sugar for sprinkling

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and sugar, then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the water and milk. Using a knife, cut through the mixture until combined. Flour the work surface and kneed the dough until smooth (This should only take a few minutes.). Using your finger poke holes into the dough and add cherry pieces, turn the dough over and repeat. Roll the dough to a 2 cm thickness and cut into medium size pieces or use a cookie cutter (5 cm in diameter). Whisk the egg in a small bowl with a tablespoon of water. Dip the top of the scones into the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar. In a preheated oven at 400 degrees bake the scones on a parchment lined tray for 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Et voila!!!


Cherry Iced Tea
1/2 Cup of Chopped Cherries
6 Regular Tea bags
3/4 Cups of Granulated Sugar
3 Cups Boiling Water
5 Cups Cold water.

In a large measuring jug add the cherries and tea bags. Pour in 3 cups of boiling water cover with clingfilm and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Once steeped, strain through a sift and discard the tea bags and cherries reserving the liquid. Add the sugar to the liquid and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved add the cold water and stir. Pour into jugs and allow to chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Serve over ice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sea asparagus salad



I spent Saturday morning at the most wonderful farmers market with my friends Allison and Janine. Stalls were abundant with fresh produce. There was huge bunches of bright colored beets, thousands of deep purple cherries, fresh green lettuces, aromatic herbs, plump garlic bulbs, tri-colored peppers and so much more beautiful produce. It was amazing and the best thing was that everything was so fresh. We wondered around the market picking up veggies and stopping  for the odd taste of homemade cheese and fresh fruit.

From the corner of my eye I saw a stall selling wild sea asparagus also known as samphire. I decided to buy one of the last remaining bags and try it with pan fried fish. Janine had told me all about white salmon that another vendor sold, so that got my taste buds going. Unfortunately there was no white salmon for sale but that didn't stop me from buying the samphire.

I had no idea how to cook the samphire so I asked the vendor  and he told me that I could pretty much do anything with it, from sauteeing it to steaming it. I trawled through the internet and decided to blanche the samphire and then dress it with olive oil and lemon juice. This would compliment the pan fried plaice (I was planning on serving) nicely. 


Sea Asparagus Salad (Serves 2)
1 Cup of Samphire
Olive Oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Fresh cracked black pepper

Remove any tough stems from the samphire and wash thoroughly. Blanche for two to three minutes in simmering water. Strain. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice (to taste) and season with pepper. Serve immediately.