Thursday, January 26, 2012

Greek Stuffed Pork Roast

It was a rare night where both of my men were going to be home for dinner so I kindly asked them if they would like to put in any requests. I got a "whatever you want to make" from The Kid and a very emphatic "I don't want any curried anything and nothing stir fried" as Shack stomped out the door.
Well, okay then. Somebody has been working and living off catering for too long I think. It was time for a manly meal of roast meat.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toblerone Shortbread Cookies

It's been a hairy few weeks and we've all been flying by the seat of our pants in terms of food... as a result, unfortunately there's been nothing of interest to post--not even baking! It must be bad! Work has been crazy so it's been a relief to be able to return to old favourites and, more importantly, to repeat them and eat them as leftovers. The kiddies have also been pitching in and, as is always the case when I'm swamped, Q promptly got on a plane and left town. The timing is uncanny and somewhat suspicious but I guess I can't really question a conference in Whistler in January. He's a smart guy, after all, and who's going to turn down that opportunity? Just bad timing for the rest of us remaining on the homefront.
Anyway, back to domestic issues. I thought I'd at least buy some goodwill from the young 'uns by doing some baking over the weekend. After all, if the cookie jar is full, they must know that their mom at least remembers they exist, even if they're not seeing her very often. Three Toblerones had been sitting on the kitchen countertop for the past week and they were driving Austin and Maddie to distraction. They begged to open them; I refused because I knew they'd be gone as soon as we had a bite. Instead, I was determined to bake with them, and since we hadn't made any shortbread over the Christmas season, chunky Toblerone shortbread cookies seemed like the perfect solution. With just a handful of ingredients and a couple of quick steps, they were minutes in the making and a huge hit for kids who'd been neglected for too long. I've seen some Toblerone cookies with the chocolate triangle embedded on top, but I've never had a lot of success with that technique. Either the chocolate burns or turns white or runs over the sides, so I figured hiding chunks inside was probably the safer bet and so far the critics haven't registered any complaints.

Toblerone Shortbread Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp icing sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch or rice flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 100-gram bars Toblerone, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter until light and fluffy. Sift in icing sugar and beat again until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Sift in cornstarch or rice flour and blend in. Sift in all purpose flour and salt, and mix until dough comes together (it'll be soft). Stir in vanilla and chunks of Toblerone.
Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, spoon cooking dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 9 minutes, turn cookie sheets, and bake for another 9 minutes until bottoms brown lightly.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on racks. Makes about 28 cookies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Third week of January and it's time for Chili with Pork

It was a drizzly, miserable morning and so comfort food was certainly on the menu. Poor Shack is back on set and so I am trying to make things that he can heat up and eat when he gets home later in the evening because even though they do feed him on set, he doesn't always have the time to eat much. Some movies have better catering than others as well, so it becomes even more important to try to make sure he has yummy food at home to even out the endless parade of chicken dishes they serve at work.

We all love chili and we although we are dying for all of our old favourites again, in the spirit of adventure and trying new things, I thought I would make a different kind of chili. Thinking I had a container of leftover canned poblano chills in the fridge, I foolish planned it around those without actually looking at them first.  I went out and bought some ground pork, PC tomatillo salsa and a can of black beans, thinking I would do a chili version of our favourite pork stew, chili verde.

Once I got my ingredients ready, I realized that my poblanos had gone bad but I was already committed so I had to forge ahead anyway. I was also out of beer so clearly this was not going to be my regular chili verde with ground pork instead of chunks of pork. I really need to take inventory BEFORE I go shopping.
In the end, I just made it up as I went along and the end result was very tasty indeed. The brand of tomatillo salsa you use will determine how spicy the end product will be so keep that in mind. I am, once again, quite thankful for this blog because this is the kind of thing I would normally whip up on the spot but then I would have forgotten how I made it. Now that I actually have to measure and write everything down, I can make this again whenever I want.
Actually, now I can make it again and again and again and again!

Oh, and Dianne has not disappeared but after her christmas break with her family, she had to dive straight into a huge work project and is most likely living on deli sandwiches and diet coke.

Chili with Pork

500g ( 1 lb) ground lean pork
glug of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, small dice
2 cups tomato puree
3/4 cup chicken stock (or beer but I didn't have any)
1 540 ml can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomatillo salsa
salt and pepper
1 tbls mexican oregano
1 tbls ground cumin
1 tbls chili powder
l tbl lime juice

Heat a heavy pot over med heat. Add a small glug of oil and brown the ground pork. When it's cooked, remove it to a bowl using a slotted spoon and set it aside. If there is more than a tbls or so of fat in the bottom of the pot, get rid of enough to leave you with about a tbls. Throw the onions, garlic and celery into the pot and sauté until softened, about five minutes. At that point, add the pork back in and stir to mix well. Add the tomato puree, the salsa, the chicken stock, black beans, oregano, cumin and chili powder and bring to a light simmer. Lower the heat and let it simmer gently for about an hour or so. It's chili so it can certainly simmer a bit longer than an hour but not less that that. During the last ten minutes of cooking add a handful of chopped cilantro and the lime juice, stir and let it simmer for ten minutes before taking it off the heat.
Chili is always better after it sits so if you can make it in the morning and then reheat it for supper that's great but it will be even tastier the next day.

Of course, you could also throw the whole think in a slow cooker after the meat and the onion/garlic/celery have been done and let it cook on low all day too.

serve with more cilantro, a wedge of lime, whatever things you like on your chili - we do sour cream or crema and some tortilla chips

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm back with my first new dish of 2012

I have been thoroughly enjoying either eating out OR eating the same thing for a couple of nights in a row since New Year's and I don't feel one ounce of guilt about that. It was a long year and we all enjoyed our spaghetti and meatballs two nights in a row at last. We would have made it three nights but we ate it all in two to be honest but it was time to find my new dish of the week.

I bought some nice looking chicken breasts and was just going to do my greek roast chicken but the need to try out something new was nagging at me. I found this dish on bon appetite and was very intrigued by the spiced oil. I just ate at Pizzeria Libretto on The Danforth in Toronto where they have an addictive spiced chili oil that I basically drank out of the bottle and so flavoured, spicy oil is very much on my mind right now.  For some reason, I didn't like the idea of throwing the chick peas in there and was just going to just steal the oil/chicken breast part and that alone made this an obvious dish for my first of the new year. The fact that I would NEVER add chickpeas to this chicken was the very reason that I MUST add the chickpeas.

The oil is delicious and I think I can see myself making this to use on other dishes or as a beverage, I mean, condiment all the time. I mixed the tomatoes, chickpeas and cilantro with the oil prior to adding it to the roasting pan and it would have made a delicious cold dish on it's own, served raw just like that. Add some slivered red onion and maybe a bit of crumbled feta and you have yourself a really great salad for dinner next time.

In the end, this was DELICIOUS! All plates were licked clean and this is definitely going into the regular rotation. As frustrating and difficult as the year was, this recipe is the reason I am happy to devote a day a week to the cause because this is something I would have never made on my own. The very idea of the roasted chickpeas and tomato was just completely unappealing to me and it ended up being my favourite part.

roast chicken with chick peas, tomatoes and smoked paprika
from bon appetite

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

  • 4 chicken breast halves, bone in and skin on

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas , drained

  • 1 350g container red and orange cherry tomatoes

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.

    Mix the olive oil with the garlic, paprika, cumin and dried crushed red pepper and set aside. I did this in the morning and let it sit all day. Whisk a generous tsp into the greek yogurt and set aside to serve with the finished dish.
    Place the chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet or a roasting pan (I always use my huge cast iron skillet). Rub 2 tbls of the spicy oil mixture over the four chicken breasts. 

    Mix together the remaining oil, the chick peas, the tomatoes and about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and pour that around the chicken. Salt pepper the whole shebang.

    Roast until the chicken is cooked through, anywhere from about 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your breasts. To serve, sprinkle each portion of chicken and tomato/beans with a bit more cilantro and serve with the yogurt sauce.
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