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 ( 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)

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

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
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.