Thursday, October 27, 2011

Salmon Hash with Dilled Creme Fraiche

This slightly more substantive breakfast-for-dinner recipe was a first for us. I've never made any type of hash, with the obvious exception of hash browns (do those even count?), probably because corned beef and ham don't appeal to me and until this week I'd never seen a salmon option. So, armed with some leftover salmon and some creme fraiche in the fridge just waiting to be used, we figured we'd give this a try. After browning up some potatoes and onions, you add a mustard-milk (you can use cream but I was trying to keep it on the lighter side) mixture and cook it all together to bring together the flavours. Loved the zing of the "sauce" that basically evaporates during the cooking. Add the flaked salmon and bingo, dinner is ready. Austin and I ate it this way along with the refreshing easy-peasy dill creme fraiche sauce and were happy as clams. Q was a bit hungrier when he got home so I poached two eggs and laid them on top for him and that rounded out his meal. This would also be a perfect brunch option.

Salmon Hash with Dilled Creme Fraiche
For the dilled creme fraiche

1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and set aside in fridge.

For the hash
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into small 1/2 dice
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp half-and-half, cream or milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lb cooked, skinless salmon fillet, flaked
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Optional garnishes
Fried or poached egg on top
Drained capers
Fresh dill
Prepared horseradish

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat for around 15 minutes, turning often, until there are browned edges. Stir in the onions and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until onions are soft and brown too.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk or cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir this mixture in with the hash and toss gently. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Mix in the salmon and dill and cook until heated through, another 2 minutes.

Serve hot, topping each portion with a poached egg (if using) and a dollop of the creme fraiche.

Rest of the week

Oct 26 Assorted quesadillas with baked sweet potato wedges and roasted garlic aioli

Oct 27 Salmon hash with creme fraiche

Oct 25-26 Curried Parsnip Soup

Oct 25    No supper because The Kid and I are both sick
Oct 26    Curried Parsnip Soup

The kid was sick all day on Tuesday with a fever and aches and a sore throat and by dinner time, I thought I was coming down with the same thing so there wasn't much in the way of dinner other than lots of green tea, juice and some toast. By Wednesday morning, he was still sick but it was clear that I had been feeling the beginnings of a migraine and not the same virus that was plaguing poor Little Shack so we both spent most of the day in bed reading and sleeping but I was still in better shape than he was. By about 3pm I was feeling good enough to drag my butt out of bed and think about making something to eat for the two of us (luckily for Shack, he had to go out of town to take care of some business stuff so it was just the two invalids) and I was also going to have to cook something that would appeal to sick people but using only what we already have in the house.
I had parsnips, carrots and celery and couldn't get a nice, curried parsnip soup out of my head when I realized I had no chicken stock of any kind. Thank god we have the best neighbours in the world because they rescued us with a carton of chicken stock AND a lovely apple for our soup.
Simple, comforting, just a hint of curry to clear up a stuffed up nose and best of all, I didn't have to get out of my pjs and brave the rain while feeling like I had been hit by a truck. THAT alone makes it the most delicious soup I have ever eaten.

Curried Parsnip Soup
makes about 4 cups of soup

small glug of olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1.5 cups diced parsnips
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tsp mild curry powder
900ml chicken stock
1 small, tart apple, peeled and diced
1 tbls coconut powder
* greek yogurt and cilantro to serve with it you like

Heat the oil in a med sized pot over med heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Saute for another couple of minutes and then add all of the diced vegetables. Continue to cook that for about five minutes until the veggies soften and might start to take on a bit of colour. Add the curry powder and stir well for a minute until you can really smell it and then pour in the stock. Add the apple and the coconut powder, bring to a light simmer and let it cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Don't worry if you let it cook a bit longer because you are going to puree it anyway. When the vegetables are all well cooked, either use an immersion blender or pour into a blender to puree it until it's nice and smooth.
Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt and a bit of chopped cilantro if you like but it's tasty enough on it's own to skip any garnish too

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Riopelle Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto

If you are looking for an easy peasy and impressive meal, this is it!  You likely noticed my lack of posting my last couple of days but I have a couple of delicious things to share and plan to back post them today or tomorrow.  Work has completely caught up with me so I barely cook let alone have the time to take pictures and write.

One of my favorite cookbooks is Barbara Lynch's Stir, as I thumbed through it on Sunday looking for inspiration, I came across the recipe for Taleggio Stuffed Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Prosciutto.  The name just sounds like decadent goodness, doesn't it?  On a whim I had picked up some Riopelle at the cheese shop on Saturday and while it's no Taleggio, I know it would work really well in this recipe.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good Old Chicken Noodle Soup

Whenever I make a veggie soup, Maddie always asks why can't we just have chicken noodle soup? But for whatever reason, I just associate chicken noodle soup with someone feeling under the weather and therefore that's generally the only time someone eats it in this household. But she's right; it doesn't always have to be linked to "get well soon" and it actually hit the spot on a cool, rainy, October night. With five simple ingredients, it couldn't be simpler either. We paired it with some crusty bread and enjoyed the simplest of comfort meals.

Chicken Noodle Soup
serves 4

1 whole chicken breast, bone in, skin on
1 tsp olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups celery, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 cups carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 cups egg noodles
parsley, if you like

Rub the chicken breast with the olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and then roast it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin and dice into bite-sized cubes.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the carrots. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until the carrots are soft. Add the celery and egg noodles and cook an additional 10 minutes until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through. Season to taste and serve.

Rest of the week

Oct 24 Twice-baked potatoes with cheese, creme fraiche and leftover chorizo

Oct 25 Chicken noodle soup

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oct 20-26 Gnocchi and Chicken with Brown Butter and Sage

Oct 20     Wing night with The Neighbour
Oct 21     Dinner at my sister's 
Oct 22     Dinner at my sister's
Oct 23    Junk food on the train
Oct 24     Gnocchi with browned butter and sage

The kid and I went to spend the weekend with my sister and her family and I usually do some of the cooking while I am there but that didn't happen this time. We got in late on Friday so my sister whipped up some tasty tacos, Saturday she made her much requested pork schnitzel and then we left right at suppertime on Sunday so we didn't really eat dinner. Little Shack had a pizza from the little restaurant in my sister's village and took it with us to eat at the train station and I had an apple, a few bites of his pizza, some swedish berries and a few handfuls of kettle corn. It was not a stellar eating day for me lol.

Monday I made the dinner that I had planned to make last Thursday before I was swept away for wing night. It's nothing complicated and I didn't make the gnocchi myself but it was tasty and simple and quick and we were all very happy with it. I added the chicken so that it would be a complete one pan meal but it's delicious without any chicken and just more gnocchi and you can serve with some sort of meat or fish as a side.

Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage
500g potato gnocchi, cook according to package instructions
4 tbls salted butter
15 to 20 sage leaves, chopped
a small glug of chicken stock.2 tbls maximum
salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thingly

Salt and pepper your sliced, raw chicken and set aside. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and while you wait for that, heat a sauté pan over med to med low heat and melt half the butter. Add the chopped sage and swish around for a minute before adding the chicken. Stir the chicken around and cook until all the pink has disappeared which will only take a couple of minutes, tops, since you have sliced it really thinly. By this time, your water is boiling so drop your gnocchi in to cook them for about 3 minutes or until they all float to the top of the simmering water.
This is when I add the other half of the butter to the pan with the chicken and let it melt. Push the chicken over to one side of the pan and let the butter just start to turn golden brown. As soon as that happens, splash in a touch of chicken stock - probably no more than 2 tbls if you need an exact measure and let that come to a boil.
By now your gnocchi are done so remove those from the pot with a big slotted spoon or pour out into a strainer and add the gnocchi to the pan with the buttery chicken and sage. Give it a good toss to coat well and serve.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa and Chorizo

Lately I'd be perfectly happy to sit down and eat a plateful of roasted veggies for dinner every night. I could even figure out enough different combos to legitimately finish off the rest of this challenge for the year without cheating. There's just something about caramelized, crunchy, salty vegetables that are satisfying my autumnal eating needs right now but somehow I think I'd have a mutiny on my hands if I completely skipped serving carbs and protein from here on in. This recipe claimed that Brussels sprouts were the star of the show (perfect!) and that the quinoa just rounded things out for a nice meatless-Monday meal. But since it was Sunday and since I knew at least a couple of family members would be happy to see meat on the plate, I added in some chorizo for good measure. I admit I've never served it before but since the Shacks are such big fans, we decided to give it a try. Big hit. Huge. Although the presentation was a bit of a mess, what it lacked in aesthetics it more than made up for in taste. Deep, earthy, salty and delicious. The balsamic vinegar can't be skipped--it perked up what would have otherwise been a somewhat bland dish and gave it total zing. I'm hiding the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa and Chorizo

serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 lb Brussel Sprouts, peeled and cut in halves

1 large Spanish onion, peeled and cut in thin slices

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 lb chorizo, cut into slices

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts and onion on a baking sheet with the oil and butter and season well with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized, tossing occasionally, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, place quinoa and chicken stock in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff lightly with a fork.

Toss the chorizo with the Brussels sprouts and onion, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Combine the veggies and meat with the quinoa and toss lightly. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar on top and serve.

Rest of the week

Oct 21 Eggs for dinner since we'd both had big lunches

Oct 22 Family dinner at Cafe Diplomatico

Oct 23 Roasted Brussels sprouts with quinoa and chorizo

Friday, October 21, 2011

French Onion Soup

Until this challenge, French onion soup was like gazpacho in our house... something that Q would order in a restaurant but something that I wasn't likely to make at home. But this week it was finally time to give it a try and leave it for the menfolk to eat while I was out for a prolonged, seemingly weeklong birthday celebration extravaganza. This recipe was so simple to pull together and filled the house with one of our favourite smells--slow-cooked, brown and golden, caramelized onions. One of my colleagues had warned me that the onions tend to get "ropey" in the soup but I soldiered on and had faith it would work out. How bad could it be, anyway, when topped with a slice of toasted baguette and some salty, nutty, melted Gruyere? Exactly. I took a quick sip as I was making it and loved the earthy flavour but was saving my appetite for dinner out so I can't qualify as a full critic. Austin ended up giving it just a so-so (I think he was ultimately hoping for a more substantial dinner) and although Q gave it the thumbs-up, the soup had basically lost its shine when reheated for him later in the evening. Definitely a dish that's best served fresh out of the oven. Live and learn.

French Onion Soup

serves 4

1 lb yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise

3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups beef stock

1 cup water

half a baguette, sliced

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

In a heavy, large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the onions, paprika, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavours to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to broil. Toast the baguette slices until crisp on each side.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into the ovenproof bowl, float the bread on top and cover with a thick layer of the cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

Rest of the week

Oct 18 Leftovers; everyone fended for themselves

Oct 19 Mustard-crusted salmon with roasted broccoli, cauliflower and onions

Oct 20 French onion soup

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oct 18-19 Pork in Black Bean Sauce

Oct 18     $10 pizza night at Il Fornello
Oct 19     Pork in Black Bean Sauce

I was craving beef with black bean sauce but I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge and, basically, anything is better in black bean sauce so pork worked for me! I used to joke that I'd even eat dog poop if it was in black bean sauce, so you know that I am very fond of the stuff.
I sort of cheated and used black bean garlic sauce like this and did not make my own from scratch using fermented black beans but I only had half an hour to whip some dinner together and this stuff tastes good, so sue me. Cauliflower is not a vegetable you would ever see a lot of in a chinese stir fry but we love it so it goes into most things it doesn't belong in.
This is a really simple dish and you can have the whole thing ready, from start to finish in half an hour. Sometimes, back in the days when I could make the same thing as often as I liked, I would cut up the meat and the vegetables in the morning and put everything in the fridge and then I could get the stir fry done in the time it took to cook the rice at dinner time. These kinds of quick dishes are perfect meals for busy week nights and there is really no end to the meat/veggie combos you can use - it's great with tofu and seafood too, although the black bean sauce is a bit overpowering for shrimp or other delicately flavoured proteins. Protein. I have clearly been watching way too much Top Chef.

Pork with Black Bean Sauce
Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin, sliced as thin as possible
1 tbls soy sauce
1-2 tbls of vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls grated ginger
1/2 red onion cut in wedges
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
2 handful of green beans (I steam them with the cauliflower for 5 minutes first)
1 handful of cauliflower florets, halved if large (pre steamed with the green beans)
3 tbls black bean with garlic sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch

toss the sliced pork with the tbls of soy sauce and set aside.
Steam the green beans and cauliflower for five minutes, run under cold water and set aside in a strainer.

Heat 1 tbls of oil in a wok or large sauté pan over med-high heat. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 30 seconds or so until really fragrant. Now add the pork and stir fry the meat until all the pink is gone. Remove all of that to a big bowl and set aside.

Pour in the second tbls of vegetable oil and add the celery and stir fry for a minute. Now add the peppers and stir fry for another minute or two, until you start to see little brown bits on the skin of the peppers. Next comes the green beans and cauliflower and after another minute, add the pork/onion mixture back in  along with any juices that have collected in the bowl. Stir fry for another minute before you add the black bean sauce. Mix that in really well and then add the chicken stock. Whisk the cornstarch into the water and add that. Mix it all up really well, let the sauce come to a simmer and let that cook for one more minute, two tops.
Serve with rice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birthday Macaroni and Cheese

Maddie turned 11 this week and I predicted she'd be asking for macaroni and cheese for her dinner birthday meal. And she did. She also asked for a familiar version, just to be assured full satisfaction on her special day, instead of her mom throwing in cauliflower or squash or some exotic ingredient that she'd never heard of, let alone wanted to eat. And that seemed a reasonable request, considering that she's eaten (or at least sampled) a whole lot of different stuff over the past several months, some of which she really didn't like, and has generally been a pretty good sport about this whole culinary journey.
So, in the interests of full disclosure, I'll admit that this recipe is a slight repeat of something I posted earlier in the year, although we didn't actually eat it that day--we had a healthier veggie-crammed version since Q was off to some sporting event. But this is probably our fave mac/cheese recipe that we've found and I was willing to make an exception of a repeat for her just for this one day. Hopefully the gesture will buy me some goodwill as we complete the final two months of the challenge.
This recipe is simple but incredibly rich, mainly due to the addition of the mascarpone. Decadent, delicious and hearty for a fall night. Lots of leftovers too.

Rich Baked Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Bittman's How to Cook Everything

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1 lb pasta of your choice
4 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar (set aside 1/4 cup for topping)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta; drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another pot.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and oil and then add the onions. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of the warmed milk, stirring with a wire whisk. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, gradually add more milk until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the two cheeses. Toss the cooked pasta with the cheese mixture and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with parmesan, reserved cheese and breadcrumbs. Cook for 20 minutes.

Rest of the week

Oct 14 Pizza night

Oct 15 Pre-half-marathon carb-loading of pesto/sundried tomato spaghettini with chicken

Oct 16 Shared birthday dinner at The Keg

Oct 17 Maddie's birthday macaroni and cheese

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Oct 16-17 Nachos

Oct 17     No dinner - boys ate out and I forgot to eat
Oct 17     Nachos

I know, I know, how can someone who likes to eat as much as I do forget to eat? It happens. I was still not feeling really well and I had a bowl of chili for lunch and then I finally got the new Apple Tv working in my bedroom and spent the rest of the evening watching the first half of season one of The Big C on netflix.
It happens.
Anyway, Monday we were supposed to go visit a friend who was going to cut Little Shack's hair and she said she would feed us so I didn't play anything. She had to cancel at the last minute and so I had to cobble together a dinner with what was on hand and what was on hand was chili and tortilla chips and, therefore, nachos. At first I felt guilty because nachos doesn't seem all that different from the way we eat our chili in the first place and it uses most of the same ingredients but let me tell you this: nachos are NOT the same thing as eating a bowl of chili with some cheese sprinkled on top. Nachos are ooey, gooey and crunchy and delicious and they are there own delicious beast.

Nachos with Chili
I like to do them in individual servings so everyone gets their own nice, little parchment parcel

tortilla chips
chorizo chili
sharp cheddar (or monterey jack or jalepeno jack would be great too), grated
1 tomato, diced
1 lime
kosher salt
red onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh jalepeno, seeded and thinly sliced
chipotle crema

Chipotle Crema:
2 tbls plain greek yogurt (I am trying to be healthy here but you could use sour cream)
1 tlbs mayo ( I use helmans light)
1 tsp chipotle powder or to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch kosher salt

To assemble your nachos:
Preheat the oven to 450. Warm up the chili in a pot or, easier still, in the microwave.
Mix the tomato, some cilantro, a squeeze of half a lime and kosher salt and set aside.

Cut a square of parchment for each serving and lay it on a baking sheet. In the centre lay out a small handful of tortilla chips (only you can determine how much a single serving of nachos is in your household. I am not here to judge). Put a couple of spoonfuls of chili on top of the chips, a scoop of the tomato mix, a handful of cheese and then pop that into the oven until the cheese gets good and melty. Take it back out and repeat with another layer of chips, chili, tomato, cheese and this time scatter some thinly sliced red onion on the top. Bake until the cheese is all melty and then turn on the broiler and get the cheese really bubbling and you will start to see the edges of the chips getting brown.
Take it out, scatter some jalepeno, more chopped cilantro and drizzle some crema over the whole thing.
I like to put the crema into a snack sized baggie and snip a small hole off of one corner so I can pipe it on but feel free to just spoon it on if you want to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oct 13-15 Chili with Chorizo

Oct 13     Wing night at the pub
Oct 14     I was sick in bed and Shack cooked rigatoni with meat sauce for the boys
Oct 15     Chili with Chorizo

I made the mistake of taking some new drug that my neurologist gave me after drinking a couple of glasses of wine. You know, they say not to drink when you take everything so I did not heed this particular warning from my pharmacist. I will not make this mistake again. I spent the entire day in bed on Friday wanting to die and was in no shape to cook anything for anyone. The only reason I even ate myself was because my friend, Kate, was an angel and went and got me Pho. That meant that Shack got to make meat sauce again because he isn't part of this challenge and I am sure they weren't thrilled that I was in bed wanting to die but I do know that they were pretty thrilled that they could cook whatever they wanted for once.
Saturday, I woke up feeling quite a bit better but it was cold, windy and generally horrible outside so that meant either chili or stew and chili was requested. To make it a bit different, I bought some mild chorizo but Shack asked that I don't make fancy changes and to keep it really simple. I liked the chorizo in my sloppy joes and thought it would work really well in a pot of chill and I was right.

Chili with Chorizo

small glug olive oil
500 g ground beef
300 g mild chorizo sausage, removed from casing and broken up into chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
796 ml can kidney beans
2 tbls cumin
5-6 tbls chili powder
1 heaping tbls mexican oregano
341 ml bottle of beer
700 ml tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock
kosher salt

optional to serve: sour creme, grated sharp cheddar, cilantro, lime and tortilla chips

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over med heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes before adding the meats. Brown the meat until all the pink is gone. Add the cumin, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the beer, the stock, the beans, tomato puree and oregano. Stir well and bring to a light simmer, cover partially with the lid and let it cook like that for an hour. Taste after an hour and adjust seasonings if you need to, add more salt if it needs it. Keep cooking it until it has reduced to the consistency that you like at this point. We like our chill pretty thick so I usually have to cook it for another 45 minutes or an hour.

We all eat it differently so I serve all of the condiments on the side - Shack likes it with sour creme and cheddar, I like a bit of cheddar, cilantro and a squeeze of lime  and The Kid likes it naked. We all like to eat it with some tortilla chips

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken 'n Biscuits

The in-laws are celebrating a belated Thanksgiving up at the cottage, but between my day job and the short film I'm doing on the side I had a ton to get done at home and actually relished in the idea of a bit of alone time this weekend.  Today was horrendously cold and wet day.  The kind of day where it's comfort food you crave.

In case it wasn't clear from previous posts, I LOVE comfort food.

The cool nights of fall and winter are my favorite times to cook.

If I can spend the day in the kitchen roasting meat, working on sauces.  Putting together a stick to your ribs kind of meal, I'm happy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Salmon Cakes

These salmon cakes ended up being a nice change from our typical grilled salmon in some form on a weekday night. Why I've never made salmon cakes before is a mystery to me now that I've come across them, but will definitely add them to the repertoire from here on in. This recipe sound appealing because of the additions of sweet potato and panko, which I knew would be well received at the dinner table. Three out of the four of us loved this (the fourth doesn't like salmon so she would have been a hard sell even if it had been dipped in sugar, deep-fried and then dunked in chocolate), although I probably will zip up the flavour in the future with some added hot sauce and maybe chopped onions or something. Not totally bland but could have been a bit more flavourful.

Baked Salmon Cakes
(makes 8 salmon cakes)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, whisked
1/4 cup and 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
3/4 tsp hot sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp chopped capers
2 6-oz cans wild salmon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook sweet potato until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients (reserving 2/3 cup of panko for breading later) in a large bowl. When sweet potato has cooked and cooled, add to bowl and mash mixture together.

Form mixture into 8 patties, using your hands, and then bread patties in the remaining panko. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 5 minutes. Finally, put them under the broiler for 2 more minutes, to get them nice and crunchy and brown.

Rest of the week

Oct 12 Tacos with salad

Oct 13 Salmon cakes with broccoli

Oct 10-12 Turkey Scotch Broth

Oct 10     BBQ lamb at our friend's house
Oct 11     Penne a la Vodka from Supperworks
Oct 12     Turkey Scotch Broth

The weather was so beautiful all weekend and it really was a perfect Thanksgiving even though we didn't get to spend it with my sister and her family but we will be going there in a week so I will get another turkey dinner then. This is never a bad thing in my books because I adore a turkey dinner. This year we had our thanksgiving dinner with The Neighbours and they kindly gave me the turkey carcass so that I could make soup for all of us. Shack's scottish Aunt Annie made us a big pot of scotch broth when we went to visit her in Aberdeen and that was the first time I had eaten this hearty, comforting soup. I have made it with beef a few times (he doesn't like lamb at all because he is insane) but his favourite is this turkey version so he was very happy about it and was really looking forward to it. This is a recipe that I never really change, I don't try to fancy it up or make it more elegant or infuse elements from some other exotic, ethnic cuisine into it. It's perfect as is.

Turkey Scotch Broth
(you will probably have way more turkey stock so you can either double this recipe and make a ton of scotch broth, or you can use the rest of the turkey stock for other stuff - I freeze mine and use it for sopa de lima at a later date)

Turkey Stock:
1 leftover carcass from a roast turkey, cut up and ripped apart
3 large carrots, cut in four chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into four chunks
2 whole onions, skin on, quartered
2 or 3 bay leaves
Kosher salt

10 cups Turkey stock
1 tbls oil
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup parsnips, diced
1 cup med turnip, diced
1 leek, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 cup potato diced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup pot barley
about 1 1/2 cups turkey from the carcass
kosher salt and pepper

Break your turkey carcass apart in big chunks and put it in the largest stock pot you own. Cover it with cold water until it's covered by at least a couple of inches of water. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring it to a boil and then turn it the heat down until you have a nice, light simmer and let it cook for at least a few hours. I often let it go for about 4 or 5 hours until it's reduced by quite a bit and tastes good. Since this is going to be the base of your soup, if it tastes weak or watery now, it's probably not going to be strong enough. If you don't think it tastes right, let it simmer longer. After it's been simmering for a couple of hours, I start tasting and salting. I also like to make it the day before so I can put it in the fridge and let all the fat congeal on the top so it's easier to dispose of. I also think the stock is tastier the next day. If you can't do that, let the finished, strained stock sit as long as you can off the heat and skim the fat off.

Anyway, when the stock tastes right to you, remove the huge pot from the heat and strain the contents of that pot into another, smaller but still large stock pot. I have my method - I use a large slotted spoon to start taking out the guts of the stock pot little by little and putting them in a mesh strainer that fits over my second stock pot. I have a giant bowl for the fat, bones, vegetable chunks etc and I pick out all of the good meat and put that in a big bowl to use later in the soup. This is kind of messy, tedious work if you are in a hurry so that is just one more reason why, if you can, make the stock the day before so you can let the bones and meat cool before you start picking through it or else you will burn your fingers a bit.

When this is all done, you will have a bowl of good turkey meat, an empty huge stock pot and a second stock pot full of strained turkey stock. Either put that in the fridge to use the next day or try to get as much fat off the top of the stock as you can manage.

Now you make the soup.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over med heat and sauté the leek, carrot, turnip, parsnip, garlic and bay leaf for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are softened.  Add the barley and sauté for another minute before adding in the turkey stock. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about half an hour before adding the potato and the sprigs of thyme. Let cook for another 25 minutes and throw in the shredded, cooked turkey meat and cook for another 5 minutes or so and serve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A working Wednesday

I'd love to have some super easy and delicious recipe to share with you today.  But the fact of the matter is, I am at work.  I ate lunch at 4pm today and the chances of me making anything tonight are slim to none.

The next few months will no doubt be more than interesting for me. First because of the movie I have been working on since the summer, our hours while not long in the film world, will very often go long enough that the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook or eat.  Second, I am producing a short film which will take up the bulk of my free weekend time, worrying me as to how much I'll be able to cook in the next month or so.

Both fo those factors are the main reason I don't have anything to share today.  I apologize for that, but it's the reality of my situation and we did all go into this under the assumption that we would "keep it real."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eggs in Purgatory

Phew! After a weekend of non-stop Thanksgiving cooking and baking, I was craving something light, quick and easy for dinner on Tuesday night. Make it meatless and it'd be even better. I've been meaning to try this egg dish for several weeks now--I think it's mainly the name that appeals to me and makes me smile since anyone who lives with teens knows that some days you definitely find yourself in purgatory, if not something even farther south. But I digress... Although there were lots of versions of this recipe that showed it served in a large dish, family style, I knew the kids would like the individual servings in the ramekins. Even better, I was able to use up some of my veggie leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner so I whipped up the onions, carrots and potatoes with the canned tomatoes and allowed it all to simmer while the oven heated. Then cracked a couple of eggs on top and, voila, dinner in minutes. Great rustic, peasanty food for a cool fall night after a weekend of overindulgence.

Eggs in Purgatory
serves two

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 tsp minced garlic

4 eggs

chopped thyme or basil for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and gently saute onion for about 5 minutes. Add carrot, potato and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add can of diced tomatoes and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon warm tomato mixture into ramekins and make slight indentation on top to allow for egg. Carefully crack each egg and place it in the indentation without breaking the yolk. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until white is set.

Rest of the week

Oct 8 Turkey, gravy, brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, roasted potatoes and carrots, sweet corn, pecan tarts, Corbin's birthday carrot cake

Oct 9 Chicken caesar club sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches with roasted garlic and horseradish mayonnaise, cranberry pecan wild rice salad, caesar salad, Greek salad, caramel apple streusel cheesecake bars (technically this was all brunch but we were still stuffed so it was dinner too)

Oct 10 Out for dinner

Oct 11 Eggs in purgatory with salad and toast

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oct 6-9 Malloreddus with Tomato/Fennel/Sausage

Oct 6     Dinner at Banjara in NYC
Oct 7     Lunch at Il Brigante in NYC and drive home so doritos, a crispy chicken wrap from McD's
Oct 8     Malloreddus with tomato/fennel/sausage
Oct 9     Thanksgiving = turkey dinner with The Neighbours

Seeing that Shack and I had just spent 3 1/2 days in New York eating delicious food that someone else cooked for me, I was actually really looking forward to making dinner our first night home. It was killing me to go to Eataly and walk around and see all of these beautiful ingredients and not be able to buy stuff and take it home and cook it. I actually contemplated buying a cooler and filling it with ice and all manner of mollusks, fish, cheese and veal to drive home until Shack reminded me that despite the pretty environment, Toronto already has all that stuff. That place is actually kind of overwhelming and, in the end, we went there twice and never ate anything at all and only bought a big bag of goodies for The Neighbours as a thank you for watching our devil spawn while we were away. That's not true, I did buy myself two kinds of pasta that I had never heard of and one of those was a bag of malloreddus. They kind of look like the love child of an orecchiette and an uptight sea shell. After googling I found this simple, delicious sounding recipe and although I didn't have wild fennel, I made it using a fennel bulb so it would still sort of have the same flavours, more or less and capture the spirit of the original.
It was really simple and delicious and just what we were all craving.

adapted from this recipe on Aglio, Olio e Peporoncino

200 grams mild italian sausage
1 white onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 bulb fennel, finely chopped (set aside the chopped frilly green tops)
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste
three handfuls of grated parmesan

300 grams malloreddus

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Remove the sausage casings and chop up the meat, add it to the hot pan and sauté it until the sausage is cooked and starts to brown a tiny bit. At that point, add the onion and cook for a few minutes over med low heat, until the onion is translucent. Now add the chopped fennel and garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
At that point, add the tomato puree , add a good pinch of kosher salt and let it simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, add the malloreddus, cook for about 8 minutes and drain quite al dente. Drop the pasta into the pan with the tomatoes and also add the chopped frilly fennel tops, blending and tossing until well coated and simmer over medium heat for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle 3 handfuls of grated cheese, and stir some more. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Roasted Tomato & Caramelized Onion Salad

I saw this salad about a month ago and knew I had to make it.  Chock full of some of my favorite ingredients and something that keeps well in the fridge, you can't go wrong as far as I'm concerned. Last weekend, as I was preparing to go back to work seemed like the perfect time, since it would be an easy bite to grab after a long day on set.  
I sadly couldn't find faro, at least not as easily as I'd like, so I went with Joy's suggestion to try it with Israeli Couscous. It turned out to be a great suggestion and I'm in love with this delicious salad.  I seriously would make and devour it every week, but I guess that will have to wait until next year. Unless of course simply switching it up for faro would be enough of a change to make it a noREEAT, what do you think?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Faux Tamales

Monday was an early day at work meaning that I was able to cook myself something quick and easy for dinner.  I remembered seeing a recipe for easy "tamales" in my canning book, one that used some of the salsa I made and canned a few weeks ago.  It met the requirements for an easy recipe with few ingredients so I set about making it and adding in a few extra ingredients of my own.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream for Dinner... just following doctor's orders, honest!

Austin had three teeth pulled yesterday and the dentist told him he'd have to be on a soft diet for the next several days. Kinda a bummer, considering we're heading into Thanksgiving dinner but them's the breaks, kid, if Hollywood teeth are what you're after. Since I'm always up for sympathetic eating, I decided that if he had to eat ice cream, he may as well eat some homemade stuff. Carole has been raving about a super-easy key lime pie-flavoured ice cream she had made earlier in the summer... all without an ice-cream maker, and with just a few simple ingredients, so today was the day to give it a try. Just beat some whipping cream in one bowl; in another bowl, combine a can of condensed milk with whatever flavours you want to add. Even though it seemed overkill to add dulce de leche to the condensed milk, that's what I did, and if the little guy hadn't needed this to be super-smooth, I would have also thrown in something crunchy like sugared pecans. Next time. Then combine the two bowls together, store in the freezer for the rest of the day and dessert (or in our case, dinner) is on the table in about 5 or 6 hours. I tasted a quick spoonful as I was photographing it and I'd say Carole and I could have a showdown on this one. Amazing. Can't wait to make it again and mix up the flavours/textures.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
makes about a quart

2 cups whipping cream
1 can condensed milk
several spoonfuls of dulce de leche

Whip cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks appear. In another bowl, combine the condensed milk and the dulce de leche (add however much you want... it'll get diluted once you mix it with the cream so it's probably better to add more than less). Fold together all the ingredients and then pour into a plastic lidded container. Put in freezer for 5 to 6 hours.

Rest of the week

Oct 5 Sesame broccoli beef with noodles

Oct 6 Everyone fended for themselves while Mom went to theatre w girlfriends

Oct 7 Dulce de leche ice cream

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cosi Salad

Work is in full force and I am beyond exhausted as I type this post.  Shooting hours are a killer but I'm still pushing through with making at least a few dinners a week.  On Sunday the Boy broke out the smoker and decided to smoke a whole chicken.  He found a recipe he liked and went out and bought a gorgeous free range chicken.  Prepped it with a rub the night before and put me in charge of sides.

I had a full Sunday with a trip to the Leslieville Farmers Market and a whole bunch of baking. So I knew I needed an easy side.  That's when I remembered a salad my sister used to always make when we lived together.  For some reason it's called Cosi salad, though I have no idea why.  To me it's the perfect thing for fall because it's chock full of apple, pears and dried cranberries.  It's super delicious super easy and can easily stand on it's own as a main if needed.

Oct 3-6 Tonkatsu-ish Pork Chops

Oct 3     Pork Tonkatsu with Tonkatsu sauce
Oct 4     Dinner NYC  
Oct 5     Dinner at Po NYC

Monday night was the last dinner I was going to cook for a few days because Shack and I were ditching The Kid with The Neighbours and running away to New York for the rest of the week. I wanted to use up stuff that was in the fridge and I had some pork chops so it made sense to follow up our Japanese curry with tonkatsu. It's not totally traditional since the pork chops are not deep fried, they were marinated in a bit of mustard and butter milk instead of dipping them in egg before I panko'd them but I did make the sauce and they were close enough for me. We had it with a spinach salad using a japanese sesame dressing that I am not sure I am 100% sold on but it is kind of growing on me. What's not to like about a nice, breaded pork chop with a sweet, slightly spicy yummy sauce on it? Since I knew that I was going to spend the next week eating my face off and The Kid was going to be spoiled rotten by The Neighbours, we are lucky that I even bothered to cook anything and not just hand everyone a peanut butter sandwich and call it a day.

Pork Tonkatsu-ish

3 centre cut, boneless pork chops
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbls dijon mustard

1 cup panko
salt and pepper

1-2 tbls oil
Tonkatsu sauce

mix the buttermilk and mustard and let the chops marinate in that at least a couple hours or all day if you can. Mix the panko with a bit of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
Heat a frying pan with the oil in it over med heat. Remove the chops from the buttermilk and coat them on all sides with the panko. Put the breaded chops in the pan and fry them for about 5-6 minutes per side.
Serve them with the tonkatsu sauce

Tonkatsu sauce
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup sake
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls mirin
1 tbls grated ginger
1 tbls finely chopped garlic

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and then lower heat so that it simmers lightly for about 20 minutes. It should thicken up and reduce by about half. Let it cool to room temp.It will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roasted Apple and Sweet Onion Soup with Zucchini/Sweet Potato Loaf

We're planning on going apple picking over the Thanksgiving weekend so we've been thinking about all our fave apple recipes to make over the next little while. And then I came upon this recipe and liked the idea of the fruit being the main taste, rather than the veggies, for a change. Although it called for roasting the apples, you can basically just cook them in a pot on the stovetop and you'll be good to go; if you want to go an extra step and pop them in the oven with the onions to roast further after the initial browning, that'd work too and probably add some added depth of flavour. Regardless, this soup was fairly light but delicious and gobbled up quickly by all of us.
But the real hit of the meal was the zucchini sweet potato quick bread that I whipped up as well. Total yum, studded with chewy dried cranberries and crunchy walnuts, and moist and savoury/sweet throughout. Immediate requests for it in lunch bags the next day so that's the highest compliment, and even beats out our family's all-time favourite date-nut loaf, which we've all been eating forever.

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into thick chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
few sprigs of thyme
1-2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk or cream
1 cup old cheddar

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the apples, onion and sugar, and cook over medium heat, gently stirring until the apples are soft but not mushy. Add the stock and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a handheld blender, puree the ingredients. Return to the stove and add the milk or cream until you have the consistency you want. Add the cheese and allow to melt into the soup. Season to taste.

Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread

makes one (overflowing!) loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup peeled and grated sweet potato
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside. Sift the first seven ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar, oil eggs and vanilla. Mix in the zucchini and sweet potato. Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Fold in the nuts and cranberries and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cook break in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges with a butter knife and turn out on a rack to cool completely. Can be prepared one day in advance. Wrap in foil and keep at room temperature.

Rest of the week

Oct 2 Dinner at Amaya

Oct 3 Apple/sweet onion soup with zucchini bread

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sept 29-Oct 2 Japanese Chicken Curry

Sept 29     Meatloaf from SupperWorks potato/arugula pancakes with feta
Sept 30     Dinner out to celebrate the birthday of a friend  
Oct 1        Japanese Chicken Curry
Oct 2        Mid Afternoon Dim Sum which left us all too full for supper

The Kid loves all things Japanese so this week I made him a curry. He likes Japanese curries because they are sweet and rarely spicy at all . Well, that and the mere fact that it is Japanese alone makes it better. I am going to be honest here, and admit that I use store bought curry base because every Japanese person I know also uses store-bought  curry base so you can use it too, guilt free. I am sure I am now going to be inundated with emails from all of you who only make this stuff from scratch and that's cool because I would love to try that too at some point but, for now, I am using the pre made curry blocks.  It's a popular dish here so I am sure I will make it again but use different meat/veg the next time. It's not the prettiest meal I have ever had to photograph but it is easy and tasty, it's quick and it just gets better the longer it sits in the fridge so it's the gift that just keeps on giving in terms of tasty lunch for me for the rest of the week.

Japanese Chicken Curry
serves 4-5 (it is great as leftovers - gets better as it sits)

1 onion (or in my case 4 shallots because I didn't have an onion) in bite sized dice
2 large carrots, diced into bite sized pieces
2 large potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces
about 1 tbls veg oil
300 grams boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1.5 cups chicken stock
1.5 to 2 cups water
100 grams curry sauce mix

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan that accommodate the finished curry. Throw in the onions and cook until they start to just take on some colour before adding the chicken. Saute the chicken until it starts to brown and then add the potato and carrot and cook for a few more minutes. Add the stock and 1.5 cup of the water (or just 3 cups of water if you want), cover, lower the heat to med low and cook it until the veggies and chicken are cooked, about 20 minutes or so. When it's cooked, this is the time to add the curry sauce. It generally comes in a block. The brand I use has two blocks in a package and I use one of them for this amount of curry. Stir it in and continue to stir until it melts and incorporates and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Taste it at this point and if it seems thicker than you would like, add a bit more water, stir and check and do this until you get a consistency you are happy with. It is quite a thick sauce but some people don't like it that thick, it's up to you. Serve with rice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baked Chicken with Mushrooms

Spent all of Friday afternoon baking for Corbin because Q was heading down to see him on Saturday at university for homecoming weekend. I figured that him and his res buddies would be happy to see some homebaked treats so I made brownies, pecan tarts, seven-layer bars and chocolate chip peanut-butter cookies. Maddie came home from school that afternoon, took one look at the stacks of stuff on the counters and immediately begged, "Don't give it all away!" because that's precisely what she expects me to do with any extra baked goods. It wasn't any consolation to her that it was all headed to her oldest bro but probably good incentive for her to think of university possibilities that lie ahead in her future and the care packages that'll inevitably be sent to her.

The weather turned really cool on Saturday in Toronto so a one-pot meal of chicken with meaty portobellos seemed the right choice for dinner that night. Let's just say that everything was going swimmingly until life got in the way--family details too boring to recount but I suddenly had to run out mid-way through the cooking stage to pick up one of the kiddies on the other side of town so the chicken didn't cook quite the way it was intended to. As a result, it wasn't the most delicious for us but the cook (or spouse, depending on how you look at it lol) was definitely to blame, not the recipe. Maybe you'll have more success.

serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves (I couldn't find any so I used thyme instead)

4 chicken pieces (either breasts or thighs, your choice)

4 portobello mushroom, stems removed, and cut into thick slices

2 tsp lemon juice

Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, sage and mustard in a large bowl. Add chicken and mushrooms and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer mushrooms on bottom of ovenproof casserole dish and lay chicken pieces on top; scrape any remaining marinade onto chicken. Bake for 35 minutes or until chicken juices are clear. Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon juice and any pan juices.

Rest of the week

Sept 30 Dinner at The Beacher Cafe

Oct 1 Chicken with mushrooms and roasted asparagus

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