Fettuccine with roasted chicken in Chardonnay cream sauce

Posted on 18 February 2013 | No responses

FETTUCCINE WITH ROASTED CHICKEN IN CHARDONNAY CREAM SAUCE

350g fresh fettuccine, cooked al dente
.   .   .
1 skinless chicken breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp olive oil
.   .   .
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 cup butter
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
150g cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Chardonnay or any dry white wine
750g 35% cream
50g baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
.   .   .
Fresh basil leaves to garnish
Freshly-shaved Reggiano Parmigiano to garnish

Marinade chicken breast in garlic, oregano, and olive oil for at least half an hour. Roast in the oven at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes. When cooked, let cool, and then pull into chunks. Set aside.

In a medium-sized pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook until translucent. Add mushrooms, cook until browned. Add sundried tomatoes and garlic.

When the bottom of the pan starts to caramelize, pour in Chardonnay to deglaze. Add cream; allow to reduce until it achieves a thick consistency.

Add spinach, cooked pasta, and grated Parmesan cheese. Toss. Season to taste.

Serve topped with fresh basil leaves and freshly-shaved Parmesan.

Pickled hot peppers

Posted on 3 December 2012 | 3 responses

This is a long overdue post. Jem made this over two months ago—on summer’s tail—but we’d forgotten that we had taken pictures of it. When Kathryn again gave us this awesome rainbow of chilis that she grew in her backyard, Jem decided to pickle them. And we’re still up to now very much enjoying them.

PICKLED HOT PEPPERS

1 1/2 cup assorted hot peppers, sliced (Wear gloves when slicing!)
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns

Put all the sliced hot peppers in a jar. Set aside.

Throw all the rest of the ingredients in a medium pot. Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow the pickling liquid to cool and then pour into the jar with chilis. Makes 1 jar.

Liver pâté

Posted on 18 November 2012 | 7 responses

This is a recipe that our friend Janice likes. We gave her this as a present for her birthday a few weeks ago. In fact, we’re having it for breakfast this morning. When frozen, the pâté will keep indefinitely. When refrigerated, it is good to have a layer of duck fat on top of the pâté to help preserve it for a few weeks.

DUCK FAT

150g duck fat, rendered
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp peppercorn

In a small saucepan, simmer duck fat—along with all the rest of the ingredients—on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, making sure all the flavours are mixed into the melting duck fat. Set aside at room temperature.

LIVER PâTé

6 strips bacon, sliced
1/2 cup salted butter, chilled and cubed
3 shallots
6 cloves garlic
750g chicken liver, trimmed and cleaned (make sure veins are removed)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 sprig thyme, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup 35% cream
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, render the bacon. (Sauté in its own fat and then remove fat.)

Add just one small cubed piece of butter to the pan. Add the shallots, and then the garlic, and sauté until the shallots are translucent.

Add the chicken liver, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and rosemary. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes and then add the cream. Continue cooking for about 8 more minutes or until liver turns pinkish. (Be careful not to overcook—completely browned—as that will make the texture of the pâté grainy.)

Strain the whole thing and then purée using a food processor. While puréeing, add the rest of the chilled butter, one cube at a time. Continue puréeing until it has a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Place pâté in mason jars. Add a layer of the duck fat on top. Let it cool. (If duck fat is not available, clarified butter is an option.)

This recipes makes approximately 4 small jars of 250ml.

One of our favourite ways of serving it is with butter and honeycomb. Another is with butter, herbed goat’s cheese, and blueberry compote. Enjoy!

Apple walnut tarte Tatin

Posted on 11 November 2012 | 12 responses

Hi, happy Sunday morning!

We’re excited to share with you a dessert this time, a perfectly autumnal one, too. Our friend Janice celebrated her birthday a couple of weeks ago and we brought her these apple walnut tarte Tatins that Jem decided on because it’s a fairly easy recipe and doesn’t take much time to make. Delicious, too. Plus, apple pies—in any form—are always a hit with all our kids.

APPLE WALNUT TARTE TATIN

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, diced
125 grams walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 golden delicious apples, or any firm apple, sliced evenly
your favourite puff pastry recipe

Place sugar and butter on pie plate. Heat in preheated 375˚F oven for about 10 minutes or until butter and sugar are melted.

Add walnuts and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Put back in the oven and heat for another 5 to 8 minutes or until caramelized.

Arrange sliced apple pieces in two layers over caramelized sugar, butter, and walnuts. Cover with puff pastry. Bake at 375˚F for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Place cake platter over the cooked pie and flip over.

Makes 1 pie. (As seen in the pictures, we made 2 recipes.)

Prosciutto-wrapped turkey with apple cranberry stuffing and turkey gravy

Posted on 30 October 2012 | 8 responses

So a few weeks ago on (Canadian) Thanksgiving Jem made this dish, pictured above, which included several components. The recipes for the cranberry sauce, the green beans with pancetta, and the roast baby potatoes we’ve already posted, as well as the roasted butternut squash soup that we had with this meal.

Today we’re giving you the recipes for all of the rest: the prosciutto-wrapped turkey, the apple cranberry stuffing, and the turkey gravy.

All of these, while we gave them to you staggered, Jem actually made in one day in 3 hours so it is doable. But if you feel like it is too much work for one day, some of these can easily be made ahead.

Even with Thanksgiving far behind here, it’s still around the corner for our neighbours down south. And these are perfect for the holiday season ahead, too.

APPLE CRANBERRY STUFFING

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
4 slices multigrain bread
6 to 8 medium kaiser buns (or any similar)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 sprig parsley, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs thyme, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs sage, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery until nice and tender. Add garlic. Deglaze with white wine. Add chicken stock or water. Let boil and immediately add bread, cranberries, parsley, thyme, and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

TURKEY GRAVY

1 kg turkey bones
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into chunks
1 large onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
5 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup red wine, preferably not sweet
3 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
2 tsp peppercorn
1/2 cup soft butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper

Season turkey bones with salt and pepper. Spread turkey bones out on a roasting pan or baking sheet with carrots, onions, and celery. Roast at 400˚ for about 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.

In a stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the roasted bones and vegetables. Add tomato paste and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the bottom of the pot starts to brown from the tomato paste.

Deglaze with red wine. Deglazing helps to dissolve the browned residue from the bottom of the pot and to gather all its flavours. Let the red wine reduce to half.

Add turkey or chicken stock. Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and peppercorn. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Make beurre manié by mixing the soft butter and flour together. Drop the beurre manié in the pot and whisk it in until thoroughly dissolved and gravy thickens. (While most recipes would call for a roux, Jem likes to use beurre manié instead because it’s easier to do and yields the same result in terms of thickening the gravy.) Cook for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Strain. (See above photo, right.)

Note: Another option is to use the same roasting pan for the whole process instead of removing from the pan and into the stockpot.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED STUFFED TURKEY

2 pcs of about 450g skinless turkey breast, butterflied
salt and pepper
apple cranberry stuffing
10 slices of prosciutto
olive oil

Lightly season turkey breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Be careful not to over-season because the prosciutto already adds salt to the dish.

Spread butterflied turkey out. Spread apple cranberry stuffing over them. Roll tightly.

Lay 5 slices of prosciutto together, overlapping. Cover the stuffed turkey with the prosciutto by rolling over.

Drizzle olive oil over the prosciutto-wrapped turkey.

Roast at 400˚ for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice the turkey. Plate and serve.

Serves 8 to 10.

Happy belated or advanced Thanksgiving!

Roast baby potatoes

Posted on 24 October 2012 | 2 responses

ROAST BABY POTATOES

12 pcs baby Yukon Gold potatoes
12 pcs baby red potatoes
1 pc leek, white and light green parts only
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
herb medley of chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour at 400˚. Serves 4 to 6.

Previous Thanksgiving recipes:

Cranberry sauce
Roasted butternut squash soup
Green beans with pancetta

Green beans with pancetta

Posted on 21 October 2012 | 2 responses

Following up on our Thanksgiving series, which we started with cranberry sauce and then roasted butternut squash soup, next is the vegetable to go with the dinner. Traditional green beans enhanced by the flavours of Italian pancetta.

GREEN BEANS WITH PANCETTA

kosher salt
1 lb green beans
75g pancetta, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 pc shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
ground pepper to taste
lemon zest

Prepare green beans by washing and cutting off the ends. Prepare a pot of salted boiling water and an ice bath, which is basically a bowl filled with ice and water.

Blanch the green beans in the pot of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked but still crisp.

Remove cooked green beans from the hot pot and shock them by plunging into the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and will help to retain the flavour and the bright green colour of the beans. Keep them immersed in the ice bath until completely cooled, before removing from and draining the water off. Set aside.

In a stainless steel pan over medium heat, cook pancetta and render the fat. Strain the fat off the pancetta and then continue cooking the pancetta in the same pan.

Add the butter, shallot, and garlic, and sauté until translucent.

Add the cooked green beans and lemon juice, and then season with pepper to taste. (No need to put salt as the green beans have been blanched in salted water and the pancetta adds enough saltiness to the dish.) Toss for about 30 seconds or until the beans are heated through, and serve immediately. Garnish with lemon zest.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Roasted butternut squash soup

Posted on 20 October 2012 | 4 responses

Continuing on with our Thanksgiving dinner series, here’s Jem’s take on the butternut squash soup. This one’s my favourite. I would eat it by itself as a stand-alone meal. And I would eat it with anything, even with non-autumn fare. While it is best to have in cold weather, it’s versatile enough for me.

Butternut is my favourite squash to have as soup because it’s moist and sweeter and nuttier than any of the other winter squashes. It’s also easier to peel. But you may definitely substitute with other squashes, like buttercup squash, acorn squash, kabocha, or calabaza. Sweet potatoes are also a delicious alternative. Pumpkins are another option, too.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil for roasting + 2 tbsp oil for sauteing
1 tbsp butter + 1/4 cup cubed butter
1 large carrot
1 rib celery
1 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock or water
3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup heavy cream 35%
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the peeled and deseeded butternut squash into cubes. Quarter the onion. In a mixing bowl, toss the butternut squash, onion, and garlic together with 1 tbsp oil. Arrange on a baking tray and broil in the oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until soft and caramelized.

(Note: Should you choose not to have soup, the above roasted butternut squash procedure is sufficient to make a side dish. Just season with salt and pepper and you’re good to go. Rosemary and thyme would also add more life to the dish.)

Continuing on with the soup. . .

In a pot, heat 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter. Saute together carrots and celery until translucent. Deglaze with white wine. Add the roasted butternut squash pieces, the vegetable stock (or water), maple syrup, and cream. Simmer on low heat for 40 to 45 minutes.

After cooking, while still in pot, puree with a hand blender. Add 1/4 cup cubed butter, continue pureeing with the hand blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(That’s ground nutmeg sprinkled on top.)

Here are photos that I found from four autumns ago, in our old kitchen. Here we used acorn squash and carnival squash (which are also sometimes considered as a type of acorn squash).

These have a thicker and tougher skin as compared to the butternut, so instead of peeling the skin off before roasting, we roasted them with skin on, at 350 for about an hour. After roasting, let the soft roasted squash cool and then you’ll be able to peel the skin off easily. Then slice them into chunks prior to cooking them into a soup.

You may also roast the seeds separately, spread out on a cookie sheet, for a few minutes, to make squash seed snacks.

Cranberry sauce

Posted on 15 October 2012 | 3 responses

In honour of last week’s Thanksgiving, we’re posting a series of dishes that together constitute one complete Thanksgiving dinner, starting off with this cranberry sauce which can be made ahead of time.

Cranberries are traditional Thanksgiving fare, but that doesn’t stop us from having these all the year round. When not in season, there are dried or frozen ones to use.

One of the things we most love around here—especially the little one who’s 4 years old—is the cranberry raisin focaccia from Ace Bakery. We’ll try to replicate that someday. Someday. For now, this cranberry sauce will do.

CRANBERRY SAUCE

680g or 6 cups fresh cranberries
2 oranges, juice and zest
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

Place all ingredients in a small sauce pot. Simmer over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 1 jar.

Keeps for 4 to 6 weeks.

More Thanksgiving dinner posts to come!

Soy maple salmon

Posted on 7 October 2012 | 6 responses

One of the things Jem prepared the week my in-laws were here was this soy maple salmon that’s a staple dish at home. This is the dish that turned our eldest son into a salmon fanatic. Five years ago, when he was in first grade, he brought home schoolwork where they filled in their favourite things and he put down salmon as his favourite food. What six-year-old would have salmon over chicken fingers or burgers or pizza or fries? His dad was secretly elated, of course. When asked how he’d like his salmon cooked, he would always answer, The way Dad makes it.

These days, he’d eat salmon cooked and marinated any way, but this one remains one of his favourite ways to have it.

And, by the way, my dad-in-law says he’d never have salmon any other way again after this. Very flattering compliment, but we hope he still tries other salmon recipes we’ll most surely put up here in the future.

SOY MAPLE SALMON

1 side (about 2.5 lbs) salmon fillet, cut into pieces
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp white ground pepper
1/8 cup canola oil, for marinade
1 tbsp canola oil, for searing

Marinade salmon in maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, ground pepper, and canola oil, for about 1 to 2 hours. Do not over-marinade as it will start curing the meat. Strain and set the marinade aside.

In a non-stick pan over high heat, heat oil. Sear one side of each salmon slice, flesh down, for about 30 seconds or until the flesh starts to caramelize. Flip over and transfer salmon pieces, with skin side down, onto a baking sheet (with parchment paper) and oven-grill for about 6 minutes, just enough not to overcook them.

(This oven-grilling step is only necessary when cooking a big batch of fish, so as to make everything cooked and ready to serve all at the same time. When cooking for just 2 to 4 persons, skip the oven-grilling and just flip the fish over in the same pan, skin side down, lower the heat to medium, and continue searing until done, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan.)

In the same pan, pour the marinade and cook over medium heat. Reduce sauce by half or until syrupy. Pour sauce over salmon and serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Serve with any vegetable of your choice. Here, we served the fish with simple steamed bok choy topped with crispy shallots.

Madeira-braised beef back ribs and sweet potato mash

Posted on 2 October 2012 | 4 responses

Hi. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks around here, which accounts for why we haven’t been posting. This doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking.

The other week, when my in-laws were here, Jem made a big batch of beef back ribs braised in Madeira wine (so tender!) and a big plate of mashed sweet potatoes.

Is it cliché to say that the meal was wonderful? I get to taste-test everything and won’t allow for anything to be posted if they weren’t, but I still want to say how delicious these were. Dad has been bugging us to post the recipes already!

MADEIRA-BRAISED BEEF BACK RIBS

5 lbs beef back ribs or short ribs
kosher salt
black ground pepper
3 tbsp canola oil
1 medium white onion
2 ribs celery
3 medium carrots
1 red sweet pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Madeira or Port wine
4 tbsp tomato paste
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme
fresh parsley
chicken stock (or water), enough to cover meat

Season beef with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sear beef on both sides until browned. Remove the beef into a roasting pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, sauté all the vegetables until lightly browned. (While Jem sautéed the vegetables on this occasion, he usually roasts them beforehand, which is another option.)

Place the cooked vegetables onto the roasting pan with the beef. Pour the wine and add the tomato paste and the herbs. Pour the chicken stock, just enough to cover the meat. (If no chicken stock is available, water is fine.) Cover with tin foil and place in the oven. Cook for two hours at 400˚. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Mashed sweet potatoes are a great option to pair with your beef dish if you’d like something other than your regular mashed potatoes. The flavours of the braised beef and the sweet potatoes here just absolutely jibed. Fantastic match. I think I ate too much that night.

SWEET POTATO MASH

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
3 Yukon Gold or white potatoes, peeled
1/2 lb butter, chilled
1/2 cup heavy cream, 35%
kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Cut all the potatoes into cubes. The pieces should be about the same size, to ensure that they are cooked evenly. Place all the cubed potatoes in a stockpot. Pour in cold or lukewarm water, up to about two inches over the potatoes. (Using warm or hot water will cook the outer part of the potatoes prematurely, making for uneven cooking.) Cook over medium-high heat and let boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Make sure not to overcook as that will make the potatoes starchy and gooey. Remove the potatoes from the pot and strain.

In a deep mixing bowl (or: Jem prefers the same stockpot, drained of water), mash the potatoes, while they are still hot, with the chilled butter and the cream and the salt and pepper, until butter is completely melted and blended in. Makes about 6 servings.

Chorizo corn chowder

Posted on 18 September 2012 | 4 responses

Weather’s getting chilly. Jem’s parents are here on a week-long visit from Indiana. The first day Jem made corn chowder that we had for supper. This recipe calls for a lot but we almost finished it in one sitting. This is a complete meal in itself. Protein, starch, fat, and vegetable in one bowl.

CHORIZO CORN CHOWDER

8 strips bacon, sliced
1/8 cup butter
1 medium white onions, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 medium white potatoes, diced
3 Portuguese chorizos (or any similar), cooked and diced
1 tsp paprika
kosher salt to taste
5 ears of sweet corn
8 cups of vegetable stock or plain water
1 cup heavy cream, 35%
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped, stalks and leaves separated
3/4 cup melted butter + 3/4 cup water, mixed together

In a stock pot, cook bacon, render fat off. Remove fat. Add 1/8 cup butter. Sauté onions, red pepper, and celery together, until translucent. Add garlic, bay leaves, potatoes, chorizos, and paprika. Season with salt. Sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Cut kernels off the cob. (See below.)

Add corn kernels into the pot, and the cobs as well, to enhance flavour. Add vegetable stock or water. Cook on medium low heat for about half an hour.

Add cream, jalapeño, and chopped cilantro stalks. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the butter and water mixture. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until soup attains a thick consistency. (You may thin it down with more vegetable stock or water if you prefer a more runny consistency.) Remove cobs.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Add the chopped cilantro leaves. Sprinkle a bit more paprika just before serving.

Makes 10 to 12 servings. (One serving is as shown below.)

Chili oil

Posted on 17 September 2012 | 4 responses

A friend from work, Kathryn, gave Jem a bunch of chilis from her garden. (Thank you, Kathryn!) He was thrilled because he loves spicy food and would eat chili with everything if he could.

This recipe calls for any kind of chili, so whatever you’d like or whatever’s available is fine. What we have here is an assortment.

CHILI OIL

fine minced chilies of your choice
oil
salt

Place the minced chilies in a jar. Add oil up to the same level as the chilies, just enough to cover them. Season with a bit of salt. Use as a condiment for any dish or as a base for a spicy sauce.

In the pictures above and below, you will notice there’s more oil than what’s called for in the recipe. This is also another way of doing it. Jem added the extra oil because he likes to use it for cooking, say, spicy fried rice or chili garlic tiger prawns or spicy ceviche, &tc. He likes using them for marinades as well.

Snapshot | Turkey and vegetable sandwich

Posted on 14 September 2012 | 4 responses

Some days are sandwich days. Because not everyday can we cook. I dug this photo up from two years ago. This picture is pretty indicative of the sort of sandwiches we normally have at home. It differs every time but this gives you a general idea.

This was a turkey and vegetable sandwich on multi-grain bread. The turkey slices were bought from the deli, but it would be much better to use home-cooked chunks of turkey instead. We do that with leftover turkey meat from Thanksgiving, for example. Or we roast a whole chicken and strip or slice the meat to make chicken sandwiches for the kids to bring to school for lunch. The bread here was bought from the bakery as well. We have yet to experiment with bread making!

The rest of the stuff in it: jalapeño Havarti cheese, tomato slices, cucumber slices, big strips of leafy lettuce, and herb mayonnaise. The herb mayonnaise was just a mixture of regular store-bought mayonnaise with a medley of herbs that Jem minced. Some days he’ll make mayonnaise from scratch but it takes time and he doesn’t have much of that, so mayonnaise in the jar will most often do. (We use Hellmann’s. The real one, never the light.)

It’s true, we avoid anything labelled “light” like the plague.

A happy sandwich Friday morning to you.

Heirloom tomato salad

Posted on 12 September 2012 | 4 responses

This tomato salad is an absolute favourite of ours. I can honestly say that it’s a family staple. Well, a couple staple, since the children have to be forced to eat it. I hope in time, and soon, they acquire the taste for it and learn to love it like their parents do.

We love it as a side for anything and everything. When having meat and too tired to fix a veggie dish to pair it with, this is the easiest and tastiest thing to whip up. It also makes a wonderful appetizer. Very simple but just lovely.

This is the time to bring out your best bottle of extra virgin olive oil, the sort that you’ve been hiding in the cupboard and saving for a recipe that truly needs it. One way, too, to step the dish up is to top it with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

(If you have no heirloom tomatoes on hand, it’s fine to use beefsteak tomatoes or any sweet variety.)

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD

1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
1/2 pint medley cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
basil chiffonade, about 6 to 8 leaves
kosher salt & pepper to taste

Lay heirloom tomato slices on a plate.

In a bowl, mix together cherry tomatoes, onion, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the mixture from the bowl on top of the heirloom tomato slices. Sprinkle a bit more EVOO as needed. Serves 2.

Roast chicken, the first of many

Posted on 10 September 2012 | 12 responses

Who says roasting is done only on special occasions? In fact, it’s the easiest thing to do. Rub with marinade, pop in the oven, and forget about it. (Just don’t forget to turn the timer on.)

In this house, when the cook’s lazy, he grabs a chicken and roasts. When someone unexpectedly stops by for dinner, he grabs a chicken and roasts. When he can’t think of anything to bring to a pot luck, he grabs a chicken and roasts. He does it so often that he’s probably experimented with 50 different marinades, typically with whatever spices and stuff are currently in the cupboard.

When someone asks for the recipe, he gets confused because he changes things up a bit every time, although there are a few things that make their way into his marinades more often than others.

This is the most recent marinade he did.

ROAST CHICKEN

1.5 kg or approx. 3 lb whole chicken

Marinade:
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbsp kosher salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
3 stalks green onions
1/8 cup diced sweet pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (medley of rosemary, thyme, and Italian parsley)
2 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients. Rub on chicken, and in the cavity, and allow to marinade for at least 4 hours.

Roast at 350˚F for 1 hour. Continue roasting at 375˚F for another 1/2 hour. Baste chicken every 30 minutes with the drippings.

Let the chicken rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Slicing the meat immediately after removing from the oven will cause the juices to ooze out and you don’t want that to happen. Resting helps to keep the juices (thus, the flavours) in the meat.

Note: No two ovens are exactly alike. You know your oven best. The idea is to slow roast first and then finish at a higher temperature to get a nice caramelization on the outside while the meat remains nice and moist inside.

Serve with any vegetable or side you wish. Here, he paired the chicken with roasted carrots and parsnips and a leafy green salad with cherry tomatoes.

Watermelon Feta salad

Posted on 7 September 2012 | 4 responses

Vacation may be over for the children but we’re not ready to say goodbye to summer! Cherishing a bit of the warmth left over, we lug an enormous ball of watermelon home and have been chipping away at it slowly the past couple of days. A third of the watermelon left today, Jem checks the fridge for Feta cheese and decides to make this salad. Mmm. Sweet watermelon with salty Feta. It’s perfect and summery and leaves a fresh aftertaste of mint in our mouths.

WATERMELON FETA SALAD

3 cups watermelon, cubed
1/8 bulb red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Feta cheese
3 sprigs mint, leaves torn
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp white sugar (optional)
freshly-cracked pepper

In a bowl, combine watermelon, onion, Feta, and mint.

To make the dressing: In another bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.

Toss the watermelon and Feta mixture with the dressing right before serving. Add freshly-cracked pepper. Serves 2.

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Posted on 6 September 2012 | 8 responses

I’m still sometimes surprised by the thought of my children being much in love with brussels sprouts. One of my biggest challenges as a mother is how to make them eat vegetable without force and it’s much more likely to imagine that they’d favour other vegetables but not brussels sprouts, never brussels sprouts. But in fact they do.

Probably the most common way of cooking brussels sprouts would be blanching them first before anything else. Jem prefers not to blanch to keep the crunch. He introduced brussels sprouts to the children as baby cabbages, and added two of their favourite things—bacon and maple syrup—to the mix. The sweetness of maple syrup and the smokiness of the bacon lift the brussels sprouts up from its slight bitter taste into scrumptious goodness.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON

10 pcs brussels sprouts
2 strips bacon
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
kosher salt and pepper

Trim bottom of brussels sprouts and cut in halves. Wash and set aside.

Slice bacon into small pieces. Using a 6 or 8-inch sauté pan (preferably NOT nonstick), cook the bacon over medium heat. Render the fat off and continue cooking the bacon until it has a chewy consistency. Set aside.

Over medium heat, using the same pan (don’t worry about the bacon bits stuck to the pan, they add to the flavour), cook butter, maple syrup, and halved brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pan every now and then so the maple syrup doesn’t burn. Add the cooked bacon. Let the brussels sprouts absorb all the liquid, until caramelized.

1 serving if you’re eating the dish by itself (as I normally do). 2 servings if you’re having it as a side or an appetizer.

Note: To elevate this dish even further, you could try using double-smoked bacon instead.

Pan-seared rainbow trout with sautéed Swiss chard and orange saffron sauce

Posted on 5 September 2012 | 2 responses

Thinking of ways to use up the stash of oranges at home. Most of the time our 4-year-old just gobbles them up since he learned to peel them on his own. And then other times Jem makes the favourite orange fennel salad (if we happen to have fennel lying about) or some other salad spontaneously thrown together. Or we make orange juice. Then again sometimes he gets inspired to be this creative with the fruit. I love how he rarely ever gets lazy in the kitchen.

PAN-SEARED RAINBOW TROUT WITH SAUTéED SWISS CHARD AND ORANGE SAFFRON SAUCE

First, make the orange saffron sauce:

2 tbsp white wine
juice from 2 oranges
pinch of saffron
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup chilled butter, cubed

In a small sauce pot on medium heat, combine white wine, orange juice, saffron, and shallot. Reduce until it has a syrupy consistency. Turn heat down to low.

Add butter gradually, one cube at a time. (Whisk each cube of butter with the sauce until it dissolves before putting another cube in.) Sauce should be silky when done. Set aside.

Next, pan-sear the rainbow trout:

1 fillet of rainbow trout, scaled and scored and cut in half
1 tbsp canola oil
kosher salt to taste

Lightly season fish with salt on both sides. Preheat a medium-sized nonstick pan before adding the oil. Sear fish, skin side down. Gently hold the fish down for about 30 seconds to prevent it from curling up and to sear it evenly. Continue searing for about 4 minutes or until edges are browned, then flip over and sear the flesh side for about a minute or two. (Note: Searing time may depend on the thickness of the fish.)

Then sauté the Swiss chard:

1/2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 bulb Spanish onion, sliced
1/8 tsp garlic, minced
6 stalks green Swiss chard, washed and stemmed
1/4 tsp lemon juice
pinch of nutmeg
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat a pan over medium heat, add oil and butter. Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic, Swiss chard, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes or until chard is wilted.

Plate as you wish. 1 serving.

Orange fennel salad

Posted on 4 September 2012 | 3 responses

Our favourite summer salad, fresh and light like no other. It’s something we like to have a lot these days. Some days Jem throws in a bit of thinly-sliced red onions and other days (like today) he prefers chives as a lighter substitute, which I think look so much nicer anyway.

ORANGE FENNEL SALAD

1/2 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
2 oranges, segmented
a few fennel fronds
1 tsp chives, chopped
2 tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt & pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine fennel bulb slices, orange segments, fennel fronds, and chives.

To make the dressing: In another bowl, whisk together the orange juice, grainy Dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, and olive oil.

Toss the orange and fennel mixture with the dressing right before serving. Season with salt and pepper. 1 serving.

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