Monday, November 29, 2010

Do you like Lentils?

If you ask my Mum-in-Law how to cook thriftily, she will ask you this: Do you like beans? Lucky for us, we do. My kids love them and so do we. So many things can me made with them; soups, stews even salads. Lentils are a little like beans both in their economy and ability to fill you up (without filling you out- and that's always good around Christmas). I could eat the Orangette Quiet Soup every day. The two cups of red lentils and carrots make this soup a very pretty orange colour. I like to put out a big pot of this soup for lunch with some cheese, crackers and apple slices. This recipe is perfect, in my option. We are eating it twice this week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sesame Beef

I was reading Grace's post about how much she loves Costco and saw her pictures of her freezer full of pretty little packages of meat and felt inspired to do the same. I bought a few very large ribeye steaks and sliced them up finely and went to December's Everyday Food mag and found this tasty little number in the 'Grocery Bag' section.
We don't eat much red meat around here but everyone loved this and the meat came out tender and saucy. Even my meat skeptic, Clara, enjoyed it and ate her whole portion. The ingredients for this are things that I always have on hand. (I think pork tenderloin would also work well here.)

Sesame Beef

3Tbsp soy sauce
2Tbsp dry sherry (I used a dry white wine)
1Tbsp sugar (honey would be good too)
3tsp rice vinegar
1/2tsp red pepper flakes
1/2tsp cornstarch
1Tbsp + 1tsp sesame oil (olive oil would work)
3/4lb boneless NY Strip steak, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Cooked rice, for serving
thinly sliced scallions, for serving

Whisk soy, sherry, honey, vinegar, pepper flakes, sesame oil and cornstarch in a small bowl.
In a large skillet, heat 1tsp oil and brown beef strips in 2 batches over med-high heat. Max 2 minutes per batch.
Transfer to a plate, add a little more oil if you have to and add peppers. Cook peppers until tender crisp, 2mins. Add garlic, 30seconds. Stir in sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, 1min.
Stir in sesame seeds.
Serve over rice, with a sprinkle of scallions on top.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Remembering Summer Brunches

I woke up a couple weeks ago expecting to have brunch with friends, as we did most Saturday mornings this summer.
These were good Saturdays.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Birthday S'mores

S'more bars, another easy dessert, and a fond memory of the summer nights at the cottage, take about 10 minutes to make. Crushed crumbs of graham wafers on the bottom, chocolate melted with sweetened condensed milk, topped with marshmallows. (Next time I make these I will also add chopped reeses pieces with the mallows.)

S'more Bars

3Tbsp Butter, cut into chunks
12 Graham Wafers
3/4C sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2t vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 C mini marshmallows
1C chopped reeses pieces and teddy grahams

1. Line an 8inch square baking dish with tin foil. Grease foil with butter.
2. Put butter in a pan and melt over med-low heat. Cool.
3. Crush Graham wafers with a rolling pin or can in a zip-lock bag. Should yield about a cup.
4. Stir together crumbs and butter. Scrape into baking dish pressing in firmly to create a crust.
5. Heat condensed milk and chocolate in a pan over med-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt. Stir again.
6. Pour filling over crust and spread evenly.
7. Scatter marshmallows, reeses pieces and grahams over the warm chocolate. Press them in gently.
8. Refrigerate until firm. About 4 hours.
To serve, lift foil out of pan and peel away from the sides to totally remove it. Cut into squares. Store in the fridge.

If you happen to be in a marshmallow-y mood, as we often are...these Joy Milkshakes look pretty amazing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthday Cake

When we sat down to think about Clara's birthday party this year, she was very decided about what she wanted to serve; Oreo Ice Cream cake, S'more Bars and Ritz mini cheese sandwiches. The ice cream cake recipe is one I know I will use again and again. The base is a very simple, thinn-ish layer of chocolate cake, topped with a tub of ice cream, topped with sweetened vanilla-infused heavy cream, topped with a crumble of oreo cookies. The cake could be modified by using any other ice cream flavour and topping. Candy cane ice cream on Christmas Eve, with crushed After Eights on top would be amazing...

Ice Cream Cake

1C All Purpose Flour
1/4C cocoa powder
2t baking powder
1/4t salt
3/4C sugar
3/4C milk, warmed
1 egg
1/3C oil
1T vanilla

1/2 gallon Ice Cream any flavour
1 1/2C Whipped cream
3Tbsp sugar
1t Vanilla

Topping of your choice: crushed chocolates, candies, cookies or sprinkles...

Heat oven to 325*
1. Put flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a sifter and sift into a large bowl. Stir in sugar with a whisk.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, egg, oil and vanilla until well blended.
Pour egg mixture into flour and whisk.
Pour into a 9x13 inch dish (pre greased).
Bake 20mins. Cool completely. Freeze 30mins.
2. Remove ice cream and soften 15mins or so on the counter.
Spread over the cake, cover with plastic and freeze 4 hours.
3. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla about 3mins, until stiff peaks form.
4. Crush topping.
5. Spread whipped cream on ice cream and top with whatever you just crushed.
6. Freeze again until ready to eat.
Cut with a knife dipped in warm water.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lakeside Fish

Growing up with a fisherman dad and a cottage meant that we did a lot of fishing and ate a lot of fish in the summertime. I have so many great memories of sitting in the boat or on a dock with my dad and my brother fishing. Dad generously spent most of his time on the lake untangling our lines, re-baiting our hooks and stringing our fish. Thanks Dad!

After getting the fish back to the cottage, Dad would clean the fish and prepare it one of two ways. Fish Fry was an obvious and delicious choice, but my favourite is fire roasted.
Butter, lemon juice, onion, potato, carrot, the fish and a little salt and pepper wrapped up in tin foil and set on a bed of hot coals is how I like fish the best. Bass and pickerel work really well this way.
For pike you just take away the fins, head, tail and guts, stuff the belly with peppers, carrot, onions, salt, pepper and butter in a package of tin foil, over coals. When you open the package the skin sticks to the tin foil and the meat falls off the bones. Perfect for camping.

Now, it never tastes quite the same at home as when you reel the fish in fresh and cook it on the shore, but it is still so good.

Here is how I do it at home.

Reminiscent of Lakeside Fish

2lbs Cod or if you're at the cottage, Bass or Pickerel
2 carrots sliced thinly in half moons
2 potatoes sliced thinly in half moons
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
Butter 1-1 1/2Tbsp per package
1 lemon sliced
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400*.
Rip off pieces of tin foil or parchment paper about 12 inches long. Put pieces of fish in foil or parchment topped butter, lemon slice squeezed a little, veg and salt and pepper. Pull foil piece over fish and scrinch to seal package well.
Place all the packages on a baking tray and cook for 30 mins.
Eat the fish and vegetables right out of the package on your plate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Magical Muffins

There is something about 'real' that kids LOVE. It's that, buy a child an expensive present and they'll play with the box it came in, phenomenon. I have witnessed that very thing with my own children.
With that in mind, I have allowed my kids to do a lot of real things in the kitchen. It's amazing how fast "helping mom in the kitchen" truly becomes helpful. Clara has always loved the kitchen and, now, with very little guidance, produces delicious food.

Molly Katzens cookbooks for children are amazing. We love them for their step by step pictorial instructions. Sunny lemonaide from Molly's Salad People has become Clara's Lemonaide as she can now make it all on her own.

My girl just had her sixth birthday. One of her presents was a new cookbook. (Like mama like daughter, cookbook=awesome present) The newest addition to Clara's cookbook collection is Cooking For Girls, put out by a company called, Imagine That. It has a lot of recipes in it that look very tempting, such as the "Magical Muffins".

Clara loves cupcakes and these had such a simple recipe and beautiful finished product. The recipe is so easy to remember, 4oz of everything and 2 eggs. Easy. The icing gave Clara a chance to experiment with colour blending. She came up with such a pretty mauve and a near Tiffany blue. Not only do they look pretty, whip up in a flash, they also taste delicious and light...dangerously light, perhaps.

Magical Muffins

4oz(1C) self rising flour or (1 Cup All Purpose flour + 1 1/2 t baking powder)
4oz(1/2C) butter, cold, cut in small cubes
4oz(1/2C) Sugar
2 Eggs
4oz (1/2C) Milk

Set a 350* oven.
Put muffin cups in muffin tray.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Rub in butter cubes with finger tips until mixture crumbly. Add sugar and mix. Stir in eggs.
Add milk, stir until creamy.
Spoon into paper cases.
Bake 10-15 minutes.
Ice and decorate the little cakes.

Icing: 4oz (1/2C) Icing sugar mixed with 1Tbsp Milk or Lemon juice. Whisk in food colouring.

Clara would like everyone to know she did these single handedly.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Moosewood Pasta Primavera

Another winner from the Moosewood collection. This pasta primavera is loaded with vegetables and in a very tasty, tomato-wine (ricotta) sauce. If you have Moosewood's Lowfat Favourites, turn page 206, get out a pen and make some changes to the original recipe. My humble recommendation is that you add a few things to the recipe as shown in the cookbook. I love adapting recipes and this one needed just a few tweaks to make it perfect.

To make the sauce a little creamier, I added a tub of ricotta cheese with some salt, parsley, butter and parmesan cheese stirred in, to the pasta just before adding the tomato sauce. The cheeses and butter will melt into the pasta so nicely.

I love vegetables and the brief steaming keeps them tasting fresh and sweet. A lot of vegetables would work in this dish, so feel free to add what you like or subtract any that you don't.

Pasta Primavera

6 cloves garlic, minced
2tsp Olive oil
3Cups Chopped tomatoes
1/4C White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
1t salt
1/2C chopped basil
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 carrots, 2inch matchsticks
1 bunch asparagus, 2 inch pieces
2 heads broccoli, bite-size
1 bell pepper, 2 inch matchsticks
1 zucchini, 2 inch matchsticks
1/2C green peas
salt, pepper
1 tub ricotta
3Tbsp butter, diced
1/2C grated parmesan
1/3C chopped parsley
1 lb pasta- any shape works
extra parmesan for topping

Warm olive oil in a large deep skillet, add garlic and cook over med heat 2 mins.

Add tomatoes, wine, salt and stir 5-10mins. Add basil and red onions and remove from heat.

Bring a large pot of water to boil with a steamer basket inside. Starting with the carrots for 1 minute, add peppers, asparagus, and broccoli to basket and cook another 3 mins. Add zucchini and cook 1 min. Add veg to tomato sauce, season if necessary and keep off heat.

Cook Pasta.

While pasta is cooking mix ricotta, butter, salt and parsley to taste and parmesan in a serving bowl. Add cooked pasta, stir well. Add tomato-veg mixture and stir well.
Top with lots of fresh pepper and grated parmesan cheese.

Jibs says "Dont forget a healthy sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan on top!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

Stumbled upon this recipe for chicken and dumplings the other day. Jim loves chicken and dumplings...The Jim collective love chicken and dumplings, actually. There's not much to dislike about chicken and dumplings. This C&D, however, is noteworthy and from Pam Anderson's new book, Perfect One-Dish Dinners. (Pam Anderson the cook--not the TV "personality?")

So, this dish starts of with a very basic roux with chicken stock, milk and the very intriguing addition of a whole jar of salsa verde. (I added some corn and green beans to it as well.) The chicken is topped with a pretty, slightly yellow dumpling that is flecked with green onion, and other herbs. The pot comes out full of lovely pieces of chicken in a thick bubbly sauce that's mildly spicy and topped with buttery cornmeal dumplings.

This cookbook definitely looks promising and worth owning. I love a good one-dish meal for company. Anything to decrease the stress of having everything hot and on the table when the guests arrive, and increase the joy of having people sit around the table together.

Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

4Tbsp Butter
1/2C flour
1 1/2 C chicken broth
2C salsa verde (about one whole jar)
1 jar evaporated milk
1/2C green beans, 1 inch pieces
1 C corn
6 C cooked chicken, chopped into large chunks (I used 10 thighs, salt + peppered in a 350 oven for 30 mins)

1C whole milk
3Tbsp butter
1 1/2C flour
1/2 C yellow cornmeal
1Tbsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
1/4C chopped scallions
1/4C chopped green herbs (I used basil and parsley. Cilantro would be good too)

Chicken: Melt butter in a deep dutch oven 5-6quarts or a deep, oven-proof skillet. Whisk in flour to make a paste. Whisk in stock, milk and salsa. Whisk vigorously until it thickens. Add vegetables and chicken. Cover and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 400*.

Dumplings: Heat butter and milk in a saucepan until steamy. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, onions and herbs in a large bowl. Stir in milk mixture to form a dough. Dot golf ball sized bits of dough atop the chicken in pot. Return chicken to simmer over med-high heat.
Cover and place in oven for 15-20 mins.