Pages

Monday, May 31, 2010

Name That Salad


This great salad is from Use Real Butter . Chris wants to name it. I’ll take suggestions if you have them because he wants to call it Hipster Salad.

The recipe Jen gave was really for this coconut-lime-cilantro salad dressing. She invented the salad it went on, and I copied it verbatim because it looked so delicious.

I would halve the dressing recipe next time; it makes tons, and the dressing only keeps for a couple of days. The salad is light and fresh, with lots of crunch, and a slight creaminess thanks to the coconut milk. I used brown rice noodles the first time, and whole wheat spaghettini the next day. Both worked well. What would you call it?

Coconut Lime Cilantro Salad
From Use Real Butter
Makes 2 cups dressing

Ingredients:
Dressing
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed and packed

3 tbsps fresh lime juice

1 lime, grated zest of

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsps oil

salt to taste

chili pepper flakes or garlic chili paste to taste

Salad
cooked noodles or shredded lettuce
red
bell pepper
julienned
 carrot
shredded 
fresh spinach
shredded
 cucumber
julienned
 mung bean sprouts
unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted

peanuts,toasted and coarsely ground

Instructions:
1. Combine the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, oil, salt, and chili paste or flakes (optional) in a blender. Blend the ingredients together well. Refrigerate.
2. Assemble the salad or noodle ingredients in a bowl and pour dressing over top.
3. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and peanuts.


Pairs well with a hot sunny day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Naanza?


 Naan pizza is one of our easy supper standbys. They sell naan in packs of two, which is perfect for us--one mini pizza each. Garlic naan makes particularly wicked pizzas. Above is mine. I baked it with canned pizza sauce (I said quick supper!), sliced red pepper, crumbled goat cheese, and dried basil. When it came out of the oven, I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled a little black pepper. De-lish!

Chris loves Hawaiian pizza--actually, maybe he just loves pineapple, because we had ham in the fridge... anyway, he had hot pepperoni, canned pineapple, and mozzarella. Very tasty. Naan pizza is fun and easy, and a good way to use up many forms of meat, veggie, and cheese that are about ready to be evicted from your refrigerator.


Pairs nicely with a nice cold pop.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pancakes


I felt like going meatless for dinner last night, so I made pancakes. I got to use my Le Creuset reversible griddle that came with my glorious pot. It's awesome. It's like cooking on cast iron, but you can wash it just like a regular dish because it's actually enammeled cast iron. I wanted to make the pancakes more exciting, so I added frozen blueberries. On to the recipe:

Pancakes
(makes 12 small pancakes)

Instructions:
Heat griddle

Sift together:
1½ cups flour
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

add:
1 egg slightly beaten
2½ tsp oil or melted butter
1¼ cups milk

Gently stir in:
1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries.

Cook on hot, oiled griddle. Flip when bubbles form in the batter.


Pairs nicely with a steaming cup of Lady Grey tea

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crazy Salad


I found heirloom tomatoes at my grocery store! So exciting! Why?... because... they're funny looking! They remind me of pumpkins. Chris educated me last night on the science of heirlooms. They're non-hybrid, which means they're open-pollinated (I'll let Wikipedia explain that one).
The dark one is a Cherokee purple from what I can tell. I'm guessing the other two are German red strawberries. Different varieties have distinct flavours.

There's only a couple of things to do with heirloom tomatoes. The most obvious one is a Caprese salad (which Chris calls "crazy" salad), so that's what I made.

Ina Garten was telling me just the other day (well, her cook book was) about how a Caprese salad can be boring or fabulous depending on how you use the ingredients. She suggested using a whole bunch of different types of heirloom tomatoes. There were only two kinds at the grocery store, so I used what I could find. She also recommended lots of sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper, so I obliged. I used lots of nice spicy basil from my Aerogarden, which gave it real zing. Recipes for Caprese salad generally call for fresh mozzarella. In my haste at the grocery store, I grabbed a ball of mozzarella, but not the soft, pure white kind. I'm not sure this was a bad thing. This firmer cheese had a bit more presence than the fresh mozza I've used in previous Caprese salads; I really liked it. I finished the salad off with some extra virgin olive oil and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.

Voila!

 Chris and I both really enjoyed this salad on its own for dinner. Maybe because we had muffins as an after-work snack about an hour earlier... Anyway, it was delicious. When you see heirloom tomatoes in the grocery store or farmers market, try them out.


Pairs nicely with a glass of chardonnay.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Juiciest Chicken EVER


Do you ever pick up those free product guides from the grocery store or liquor store? Sobey's and the NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) both put out a seasonal magazine full of recipes, product recommendations, and food and wine parings. The grocery store magazine isn't great; most of its recipes are just trying to sell you store-brand jar sauce to dump on meat or veggies. The liquor store magazine, on the other hand, is fantastic; they're not trying to sell you food, so they give you really awesome recipes from professional chefs from across Canada to try to fancy up your food and drink experience.

This recipe is by no means the fanciest; in fact, it's pretty basic, but it is GREAT. It's a recipe for lemon thyme roast chicken that makes the juiciest, most succulent chicken. The secret is where the lemon goes. You stuff the cavity with quartered lemons, among other things, but you also stick thin slices of lemon between the meat and the skin. As the chicken cooks, the lemon slices keep the breast meat moist, and impart way more lemon flavour than just lemons in the cavity. The one possible drawback of this method is that the skin doesn't get really crispy because of the wet lemons it's laying on top of. For me, this is actually not a big deal because skipping the skin can really reduce the fat of the meal. I still saved the skin with the bones to make broth. You can store the scraps in the freezer.

I served the chicken with baby red potatoes, which I boiled, skin-on with a couple of garlic cloves (I have no idea if the garlic actually added any flavour). Then I drained them, removed the garlic, and stirred in some goat cheese and garlic chives. I also served baby spinach with a balsamic vinagrette.

Here's the recipe for the chicken:

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken
From Occasions Magazine

Ingredients:
1 3-4 pound chicken
2 lemons, quartered
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, skins removed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter, softened
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Rinse and thoroughly dry chicken inside and out with paper towel.
3. Fill cavity of the chicken with quartered lemon, thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves
4. Gently lift skin and place lemon slices underneath.
5. Rub butter over outside and season with salt, pepper, dried thyme, and minced garlic.
6. Tie legs together, tuck wings under and tie to body.
7. Place chicken on rack in roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake covered for one hour. 8. Remove foil, increase heat to 375°F and bake for another ½ hour, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F in the breast, and 170°F in the thigh. Baste frequently.
9. Let meat rest for at least ten minutes before slicing.


Pairs nicely with my last Blue Star beer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Lesson in Flavour


Well, I blew it.

In his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth refers to poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings... [that] takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." As we were doing the dishes after my failed supper, I was pouting about my pitifulness. I said I might as well blog about the meal while it was fresh in my mind. Chris reminded me of this Wordsworth quote (sometimes such nerdery abounds in a marriage between an English major and an English minor) implying that I might want to wait to blog until I was ready to reflect in tranquility.

So now that I’m feeling a little more tranquil and a little less self-pitying, it’s time to write an ode to my failed salad:

Ode on Avocado, Shrimp, and Grapefruit Crushed in the Maw of Sesame Oil

Oh sweet fruits of the land and sea,
How, oh how, did I so piteously fail thee?
Thy colours bright and flavours smooth and bitter
Had my epicurious heart all a twitter.
The original recipe for thy dressing seemed lacking
In flavours to make lips start a-smacking.

Foolishly I found your foil
In sumptuous, sinful sesame oil.
Its brown velvet smoothness was quick to overpower
The bitter perfume of grapefruit’s flower.
The avocados luscious and serene,
Were trampled like a drunk-filled min-golf green.

Shrimp? What Shrimp? I couldn’t taste it.
Why, oh why, did I have to waste it?
An epic failure. A lesson learned:
Mess with sesame oil and you’ll get burned.
Sesame oil, you’re such a meany.
So why do I still like tahini?

I will now sit back and await the book deals (yes, I realize that my poem devolves into the Seussical realm toward the end).

Anyway, it’s possible that I also just don’t like avocado, shrimp, and grapefruit salads. There’s not a lot of variation in flavor and texture going on. We still ate it. Chris said it wasn’t nearly as bad as he was expecting (he thought this salad sounded positively gross and that he wasn’t even going to be able to eat it), and he cleaned his plate.
I don’t think I’m ready to give up on grapefruit, shrimp, and avocado salads altogether. I’ll try another recipe sometime and steer clear of the sesame oil. Anyway, here’s the unmodified recipe from epicurious. Hopefully you can do something better with it than I did.


Pairs well with poetic genius.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fennel Orange Salad


This is a modified version of a truly spectacular recipe I got from my fabulous friend Jannette. She made me dinner one night which included this great salad. It's light and quick, but still fancy.

Her recipe is for a blood orange and fennel salad. I had a fennel bulb kicking around a bunch of regular oranges. I figured that while there's certainly variation in flavour between oranges that makes each one special, if fennel worked with blood oranges, it would work with navel oranges. The great thing, though, about blood oranges is the gorgeous colour. The pale greeny white of the fennel and the orange-ness of the oranges didn't exactly make for a spectacular visual. To get the red back into this dish, I added dried cranberries. I also threw in some slivered almonds because I had them in the cupboard.

I thought I had made a little too much salad for just me, and offered Chris a bite (he was busy experimenting with leftover lentil burgers), but I quickly didn't want to share any more. This was de-licious. The modifications I made to the original salad are definitely here to stay. Here's the recipe:

Orange and Fennel Salad
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

For vinaigrette
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp shallot, minced
½ tsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For salad
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 oranges, peeled and segmented between membranes
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup slivered almonds
Fennel fronds for garnish

Instructions:
Combine vinaigrette ingredients except for olive oil (this allows the salt to dissolve).
In a steady stream, add olive oil while whisking constantly.
Toss salad ingredients with dressing.
Garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.

Pairs nicely with a sunny week night after a late lunch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lactose-free Banana Ice Cream and White Chocolate Ganache


What's that you say? Lactose free?

Yup. Also vegan and gluten free. And tasty! There's just one ingredient. Can you guess?

All you do is peel and slice bananas, freeze them, and then ice creamify them in the food processor (my new favourite appliance). The first time we made this, Chris added a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice and a drop of vanilla because it wasn't liquid-y enough (I'm sure there's a smarter way to say that). Apparently the riper the bananas, the sweeter and the less banana-y the flavour. The bananas we used were just about to start turning brown when we froze them and had great banana flavour.

The texture is really ice cream-y. The first bite is a little weird, but I kept going back for more bites. The more I ate, the more it was just like eating ice cream.

The second time we made this, after reading A Good Appetite's post about the same ice cream, I added Bailey's, which upped the deliciousness quotient and took care of the liquid-y-ness. Since the ice cream was de-veganized and lactosed up by the cream in the Bailey's (and since I'm no vegan, nor am I lactose intolerant), I also slathered it with homemade white chocolate ganache.

I don't really need to give a recipe for the banana ice cream, but here's how to make ganache: simmer 1/2 cup of heavy cream for every 100g of chocolate. Once the cream is bubbling, pour it over chocolate and stir until smooth. Chill for a few hours. Dip stuff in it or pour it on your ice cream.
It's funny; when I ate the last of the ice cream a few days later, I actually felt guilty eating it. But it's guilt-free! What a world.

Ice cream pairs nicely with dietary restrictions.
Ganache pairs nicely with me and a spoon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cucumber Raita


Raitas are a common condiment* in Indian cuisine. This cucumber raita went really nicely with yesterday's Tandoori-style chicken, and I sopped up all the rest with naan. The recipe is also from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. It's bright and fresh and quick to prepare. For just three people's dinner, I halved the recipe and there was still a bit left over to be eaten later with leftover bread. I have about five other recipes in mind that I'd like to try this on. It seems really versatile. I might also mix it up by substituting other herbs for the cilantro. Here's the recipe:

Cucumber Raita
From The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

Instructions:
1. Place the cucumber in a sieve, toss with 1 tsp salt, and let drain for 30 minutes.
2. Pat the cucumber dry with paper towel and set aside.
3. Put the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Using a large knife, chop and mash the mixture until it forms a paste.
4. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, garlic paste, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and cilantro, and stir to mix well.
5. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
6. Use immediately, or cover and use within two days.


Pairs nicely with things that need sauce.

*I had a long debate with myself about whether this constituted a violation of subject verb agreement. I concluded that it might be, but I'm writing it anyway. I'm wild.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tandoori Chicken



Back in my last semester of grad school when I was surviving on an alternating diet of chili and Indian take-out, one of my standbys was tandoori chicken. It's red deliciousness was great for dinner and breakfast!

I was flipping through The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook the other day and saw a recipe for tandoori-style chicken. "Style" signaled to me that this clearly wasn't going to be original recipe tandoori chicken--you need a clay Tandoor oven to make the real thing--but it still looked pretty tasty. The original recipe called for a four-pound chicken cut into pieces, but I had a couple of boneless, skinless breasts in the freezer, so I just used them. I halved the marinade recipe, but I still had enough for at least four breasts.

This recipe definitely didn't recreate take-out Tandoori chicken, but it was really tasty. Chris and my mother-in-law both liked it a lot. In fact, Chris is still talking about it! I served it with raita, which I'll post a recipe for tomorrow; roasted asparagus; and jasmine rice with peas, dried cranberries, and roasted peanuts (I was feeling adventurous). Here's the recipe:

Tandoori-Style Chicken
Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 small, yellow onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp canola oil

Instructions:
1. Brush chicken breasts with lemon juice.
2. In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients except canola oil. Process until smooth.
3. Pour marinade over chicken in freezer bags and refrigerate for at least eight hours or over night.
4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil and arrange chicken in a single layer. 5. Drizzle chicken with canola oil.
6. Roast until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Pairs nicely with apricot wheat ale.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back to my old self



Well, I'm over my confusion about whether or not I can bake. I made cookies, and like normal, I had to throw out the first attempt because I screwed up the measurements. The world is right again.

This is another recipe from Use Real Butter, which originally came from Smitten Kitchen. These lime meltaway cookies are buttery and sweet. You can make the dough ahead and freeze it, which I plan to do in the future.

You're supposed to roll the dough into a log and slice it. I couldn't for the life of me make a neat, uniform log, so I made a rectangle (rectangular prism?) using wax paper with some icing sugar and my pastry cutter.

You're also supposed to toss the still-warm cookies in a bag with some icing sugar, but they seemed too delicate to me. Instead, I dusted the tops of the cookies with the icing sugar. The dough was too wet using Jen's recipe , so I modified it slightly.

Lime Meltaways
(adapted from Use real Butter from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 limes, grated zest of
3 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Extra icing sugar for dusting

Instructions:
1. Beat together butter and 1/2 cup icing sugar until fluffy.
2. Add lime juice and zest, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. If you have a whisk attachment for your mixer, it helps.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
4. Combine dry ingredients with butter mixture, and beat at low speed until combined.
5. On a sheet of wax paper sprinkled with icing sugar, shape the dough into a long rectangle. Use the back of a pastry scraper to smooth the sides. I also used the right angle of my counter top and refrigerator to make it square (all with wax paper, of course).
6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
7. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch-thick cookies. Place cookies on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until just slightly golden, about 15 minutes.
8. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, dust generously with icing sugar.

Makes three dozen.
Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Frozen dough can keep up to 2 months.


Pairs nicely with a cup of green tea.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flax Bran Muffins


These muffins are quick, easy, delicious, and about as healthy as they come. They're great for mornings when you don't have time to make breakfast--most mornings for us. We found arecipe on a flax seed meal package and modified it to suit our tastes. We've added different things to it depending on our mood and what we've had in the house. One addition that I've stuck with is cardamom. It brightens up the flavour considerably.

Flax bran muffins

Ingredients:
1½ cups unbleached white flour
¾ cups flax seed meal
¾ cups oat bran cereal
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
1½ cups finely shredded carrot
2 apples, peeled and shredded
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup raisins (optional)
½ cup blueberries (optional)
¾ cups milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins, and nuts.
4. Combine milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla.
5. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are moistened (DO NOT OVER MIX).
6. Gently stir in blueberries.
7. Fill muffin cups with an ice cream scoop.
8. Bake for 20 minutes for large muffins, and 10 minutes for mini muffins (may take longer depending on how juicy your apples are).

Pairs nicely with oversleeping.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fancy Pants:Chocolate Strawberries


Chocolate strawberries: easy, delicious, and a little snazzy. I make these every once in a while for a snack or to take to dinner at someone's house. I usually just lay them on wax paper after dipping them, but the other day, I saw a tip to make them a little more uniform: place them stem-side down on a wire rack to cool. I tried it. I couldn't get the strawberries to stand upside down once dipped, made a big mess, and wound up having to eat all those ones (oops!).

Back to my old method. Making these really couldn’t be easier. Just melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or a heat-proof bowl on a pot of simmering water if you’re me), dip the strawberries and roll them in the coconut or chopped nuts(walnuts, pecans, or almonds), and lay them on wax paper. They can be cooled in the fridge or freezer, and you can make them a day in advance. I actually find they're a little sweeter the second day.


Pairs nicely with just about anything.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cookin' with Booze


We had gooood supper last night. I was toying with making the Pasta with Tomato-Blue-Cheese Sauce Pioneer Woman posted recently, but as much as I told myself Chris would like it if I kept the blue cheese a secret, I knew it probably wouldn't go over well. Instead, I searched for recipes that involved the parts I knew would go over well: pasta, tomatoes, and cream. I found what looked like an intriguing recipe for Penne with Vodka and Tomato Cream Sauce on andhrAPradeshRecipes.

Vodka, huh? I don't really like vodka. We've never really had a good relationship, but I figured Chris would find it less objectionable than blue cheese. Plus, booze never tastes that strong once you cook it.

Naturally, given our relationship, I didn't have any vodka in the house. At the liquor store, I hemmed and hawed for about ten seconds over which brand of vodka to buy. I was watching Anna Kristinas Grocery Bag recently, and the restaurant critic who came to taste their food said that Smirnoff does better in blind taste tests than any other vodka. I couldn't help it. I just didn't feel like it. I've only ever tried Smirnoff and Grey Goose, and I needed to branch out. I went for the Skyy vodka (same price, prettier bottle). I doubt this had a huge impact on the outcome of the recipe, but I can vouch for Skyy vodka as tasty in tomato cream sauce.

When I added the vodka to the pan, it smelled like nail polish remover (Seriously people: I don't get liking vodka. A classic martini sounds like just about the grossest drink going. Sick.). Fortunately, the nail-polish-remover-ness faded quickly. I replaced the heavy cream that the original recipe called for with half and half. If I'm not whipping it, I'm not sure heavy cream is worth it. Not to worry, though; I also upped the quantity a little to make sure I counteracted all good done by the switch to a less fatty ingredient. I also added a little sugar to the tomatoes and subbed garlic chives for regular chives because I'm wild.

I served the pasta with delicious garlic bread. This dish was just fantastic. I can't wait to eat it for lunch tomorrow. My one criticism of this recipe is the penne. I think I am just too in love with flax meal spaghettini, and I'm not used to a noodle with such presence. I may learn that I am just wrong here with a little pasta research, but I think this dish would have been slightly better with spaghettini or angel hair pasta (or are those the same thing?). Here's the recipe I used:

Penne with Vodka and Tomato Cream Sauce
Adapted from andhrAPradeshRecipes

Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
1¼ cups half and half
¼ cup vodka
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb whole wheat pasta
¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 tbsp fresh garlic chives; minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
¼ cup reserved pasta water

Instructions:
1. Drain, seed, and chop the tomatoes.
2. Melt together butter and oil over medium heat.
3. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently (10 minutes).
5. Add cream, vodka, and red pepper. Boil gently until thickened (10 minutes).
6. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper
7. Cook pasta until al dente.
8. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water.
9. Toss into the sauce. Add reserve pasta water if sauce is too thick.
10. Sprinkle with parmigiano and chives.

Garlic bread
Instructions:
Brush slices of bread with extra virgin olive oil.
Broil until crusty.
Rub bread with a cut garlic clove.
Serve hot.

Pairs nicely with a glass of ten-dollar chardonnay.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My favourite side dish


 My mother-in-law had us over for two lovely barbecues in a row on the weekend. Like a chump, I forgot to take a picture of dinner the first night, so I'll talk about the second night. We barbecued pork chops and chicken with one little snag. To explain, I'll just give you the recipe Chris followed for barbecued pork chops and chicken:

1. Heat up barbecue.
2. Season meat.
3. Place meat on grill.
4. Run out of propane.
5. Take meat back inside.
6. Go to gas station and fill up propane tank.
7. Heat up barbecue (again).
8. Place meat on grill (again).
9. Flip meat.
10. Brush on barbecue sauce.
11. Serve.

I don't know if the secret was in the technique, but the pork chops were de-lish. Rita Lyn had a few different side dishes, but I went for a heaping pile of her wonderful hashbrown casserole. It's not exactly health food, but it's worth every gram of fat. The recipe makes a veritable ton, but it’s really good reheated too (which is how I had it with this dinner). I suppose you could easily halve the recipe, though.

Hashbrown Casserole

Ingredients:
1 and 1/3 bags hash browns
2 cups grated cheddar
½ cup melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
Diced onion (optional)
Crushed potato chips or cornflakes for crust (optional)

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Thoroughly combine ingredients, top with chip or cereal crumbs if using, and bake for 45-60 minutes until golden


Pairs nicely with a full propane tank.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday Snack


This is a classic Saturday-afternoon, after-basketball lunch from my youth: the tuna melt. It's not fancy, but God is it delicious. My mom used to make these a lot. On Saturday, I had a craving.

Stewart-Family-Classic Tuna Melt

Ingredients:
2 English muffins, halved and toasted*
1 can water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/4-1/2 cup mayo, depending on how mayonnaise-y you like it
1-2 tbsp sweet green relish
2 tsp Hungarian paprika, divided
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Instructions:
Lightly toast the English muffins.
Combine tuna, mayo, relish, and half the paprika.
Divide among the four English muffins; pile it on.
Sprinkle generously with cheese and dust with remaining paprika.
Broil until cheese is bubbly.

I hadn't had one of these in years and it was A-MA-ZING.


Pairs nicely with a Diet Pepsi.

*tip: The best English muffins in the world are the No-Name brand, whole-wheat ones sold at Superstore. They have an almost crumpet-like consistency.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stacey's marinade

Stacey posted a really tasty looking shrimp and asparagus stir fry the other day using a marinade from Trader Joe's. Being Canadian, I have no access to Trader Joe's, so I asked her what a good substitute might be. She suggested the following marinade recipe:

Stacey's Stir Fry Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated ginger (I used ground ginger because I was out of fresh)
dash of hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
Here's what I made with the marinade:
Beef Stir Fry
Ingredients:
Beef strips
Stacey's marinade recipe
1 tbsp peanut oil
one small onion, sliced
1/2 a red pepper, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 a cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup baby spinach julienned
Sesame seeds to garnish
2 cups brown rice

Instructions:
Cook rice according to package directions.
Whisk together marinade ingredients and pour over beef. Stir occasionally.
When rice is just about ready, heat peanut oil in wok. Stir fry onion, red pepper, and carrot until slightly softened.
Add beef, and some of the marinade. Stir fry until meat is browned.
Add sprouts and stir fry for one minute.
Serve meat and veggies over rice, and garnish with sesame seeds and spinach. Serve cucumber on the side.

This was a really tasty dinner. I like how the marinade does double duty as the sauce for the stir fry. Thanks, Stacey!


Pairs nicely with a cold beer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Welcome back old friend


 What makes you feel invigorated in the morning? What do you need when you have a hangover? What is your favourite drink? If you're anything like me, the answer to all of these questions is beloved orange juice. Oh, how I love orange juice.

I was raised on the crappy concentrated stuff. When I moved out of my parents house and into my first apartment, I switched to Tropicana Extra Pulp and never looked back. I bought it in the big four-litre jugs. A glass of OJ felt like a real vitamin boost. It was so satisfying.

A couple of months ago, my OJ bubble was busted. One of my colleagues informed me that the process of sterilization OJ goes through to be packaged kills all of it's nutritional value. They basically boil the bejeezus out of it. She said I'd get much more health benefit out of drinking water with lemon and honey. Suddenly, drinking OJ was like being the main character in Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman. Drinking it made me feel so yucky, and we eventually just stopped buying it. I would still crave OJ from time to time, but got over it when I saw the juice cartons in the grocery store.

Are you crying yet? I know this is really sad.

The other night when we had breakfast for supper, I grabbed a few oranges at the grocery store thinking they would go in our lunches. Once I was making supper, though, I knew I was going to need OJ to really make it satisfying. So, I squeezed the heck out of the oranges.

Six oranges yields about one cup of juice (lame), so I added some lemon and lime juice to stretch it out. I can't even begin to tell you how glorious it was--especially after such a long drought. I had to stop myself from guzzling it all down in one gulp. Like truly amazing. So sweet! So flavourful! I'm glad I added the lemon and lime; I think it balanced out the sweetness nicely.

Chris promptly went out and bought a little orange press (Worth it. Squeezing it by hand is a pain)and a couple of bags of oranges. Oranges are neither cheap nor local, so it definitely won't become an everyday thing, but I'm so glad to welcome orange juice back into my life.

Pairs nicely with mornings. Well, it would if we could get up on time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Strawberry-Lemon Parfait


I discovered two new food blogs in one post the other day. Gotta like that! Velva from Tomatoes on the Vine guest posted a recipe for Lemon blackberry parfait on A New York Foodie. It looked great, and I had a cup of leftover whipping cream from the spectacular lobster pasta I made on the weekend, so I decided to make it. Blackberries don't really turn my crank, but I had a bunch of strawberries in the fridge, so I dumped some sugar on them and subbed them in. This recipe calls for store-bought lemon curd, which I thought would be hard to find, but wasn't at all. It tastes far less spectacular than homemade , but using it makes for a quick dessert, and the addition of fresh lemon zest and juice really brought it to life and made it something I would serve to guests. I used regular lemon juice and Meyer lemon zest for depth of flavour.

The lemon gave this cream-based dessert (based? who am I kidding. The entire dessert is cream) a surprising lightness. I just got a little mint plant for my kitchen, so I added some mint leaves, which I think really took the flavour up a notch.

Strawberry-Lemon Parfait (Serves 6)
Adapted from Tomatoes on the Vine from Bon Apetit

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups chilled whipping cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp granulated white sugar, divided
1 ¼ cups purchased lemon curd
Juice of one lemon
Grated zest of one lemon
1 pint strawberries, quartered
12 mint leaves

Instructions:
1. Sprinkle quartered strawberries with 2 tbsp sugar. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla, and 1 tbsp sugar in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until stiff peaks form.
3. Mix lemon curd, lemon juice and peel in another large bowl to blend.
4. Fold in whipped cream and chill for 30 minutes.
5. Divide lemon mixture among six wineglasses or dessert cups. Layer with strawberries ( I just threw them on top), and garnish with mint leaves.


Pairs nicely with green tea.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Greatest Triumph


Oh. My. GOD.

I found a lobster recipe. Actually, I found about ten, but I knew I had to make this one first. I have never made something this delicious in my life. I was home by myself eating this dish, and I kept talking to myself because I had to tell someone how incredible it was. I found this recipe for Lobster Pasta with Herbed Cream Sauce on Epicurious.com. It was unbelievably easy; I think this is in part because I didn't have to cook the lobsters--not that that's terribly complicated, but it was one less step. The original recipe serves ten, so I reduced it by two thirds. I read all the comments and made a bunch of other modifications too.

This recipe is going in my permanent collection. I froze the remaining sauce to reheat another day as per the suggestion of a commenter. If you're using live lobster, you can cook it a day or two ahead. Either way, you can make the sauce a day in advance, which makes it a great dish to make for company. One thing that became clear from the comments on Epicurious is that is it imparative to cook the lobster shells in the cream to impart flavour. If you skip this step, it will mostly just taste like cream. You can also substitute the lobster for shrimp and use the shrimp shells to make the sauce.

Here is my recipe:

Lobster Pasta with Herbed Cream Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients:
2 ½-pound lobsters, boiled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium plum tomato, chopped
1 tbsp dry white wine
½ tbsp cognac
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 fresh tarragon sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup half and half
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
2 servings of whole-wheat spaghettini
Garnish:
Lemon wedges
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil per serving for drizzling
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Fresh tarragon and parsley leaves

Instructions:
1. Heat oil in heavy skillet over high heat. Add reserved lobster shells and chopped shallot, and sauté for 3 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to low. Add tomato paste and stir for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes, wine, congnac, vinegar, garlic, tarragon, thyme, and parsley.
4. Add cream and boil 2 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer just until lobster flavor infuses cream, stirring occasionally (approx. 20 minutes).
6. Call your parents and tell them how ridiculously amazing it smells.
7. Taste and season with kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
8. Strain sauce into a bowl. Press solids to extract as much liquid as possible and discard solids.
9. Transfer sauce to a heavy saucepan. Chop lobster meat into bite-size pieces and add to sauce. Gently reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally.
10. While sauce is heating, cook pasta until al dente.
11. Drain pasta and pour sauce over top. Toss to coat.
12. Garnish each serving with lemon wedges, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, black pepper, and tarragon and parsley leaves.
13. Die of happiness.

You're welcome.

Pairs nicely with a pilsner.