Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mushroom salad

Mushrooms are one of my husbands favourite foods, if I ask him to pick up a vegetable he will invariably pick up mushrooms, which as neither of my sons will touch them is a bit of a problem.  Tonight I was making Italian sausage pasta and needed a salad to go with it, so I decided to make what I call mushroom salad.

This is easy and quick and as long as you have mushrooms in your fridge, just about everything else is probably there.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Potato scones

These are a traditional scottish dish, which my Mother used to make when I was young.  I spent the the first 4 years of my life in Scotland, so I assume that is where she learned to make them. This was the way that she used up leftover mashed potatoes and frankly it is worth making extra mashed potatoes just so you can make them.  Traditional they would have been cooked on a griddle, but I remember her cooking them in the oven so that is how I cooked them, and they go particularly well with cheese.

These are not a light fluffy scone like the normal english scone, but like their english cousins they are really better eaten fresh warm with butter melting on them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fridge dinner - frittata

After a week of overindulgence, too much food, too much wine and too much money spent, it is time for pulling in the horns of plenty and making a light dinner from what is left in the fridge and eating it with a nice glass of sparkling water!

I have made this frittata with many different ingredients depending on the fridge I am emptying out (but you do have to have eggs).

Really any vegetable or combination will do, I do like a little potato and it always helps if you have some fresh herbs. If you have left over cooked vegetables you can also use these just add them at the end just before the eggs.

This is what I found in my fridge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spicy garlic chicken

This a recipe that I have adapted from a Martha Stewart every day food recipe. It is reminiscent of the Philippine dish adobo, but much quicker, and using ingredients that are in almost any kitchen. So it is a good weeknight dinner.

4 chicken legs cut in half or 8 chicken thighs (Leah you could use a couple of those chicken breasts)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon of sugar.

Place the chicken skin side down in a pre-heated frying pan, cook until golden then turn over.  The chicken will release enough fat, you really do not need to add any.  Cook on both sides until golden brown then remove and put aside.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Party food - Sausage rolls

This could hardly be called a recipe as the only two ingredients are pre-made, but it is delicious, takes hardly any time and makes a great addition to any holiday buffet table.  These would also work very well for taking along to a pot luck.

The key to these is using really good sausages. My favourite are Oyama sausages at Granville island.  They have many different ever changing and always delicious sausages.  Most good butchers will have house made sausages, but if you are struggling to find some then use a good quality Italian sausage. This time I bought lamb sausages and duck sausages, both were delicious.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Respite from rich holiday food - Light Asian salad

Today was potluck Christmas lunch at work, everyone brings a dish signing up ahead of time so that we do not get all desserts and no meat.

I noticed we were heavy on starch and meat and low on vegetables or salad (by low I mean none) So I signed up for salad. I made one that is not only light and refreshing it is also light on calories a bonus at this time of year, and also one that travels well.

For lack of a better name I will call it light asian salad.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This Saturday we had our annual Christmas party, many of the same people were coming that went to the retirement party last week so I had to make some different dishes.  I also wanted to make food that could be eaten with fingers or toothpicks and I did not want to spend the entire day cooking so I chose things that were not time consuming.

This recipe is one version of what is sometimes called Provencal pizza.  It can be made with a bread dough or puff pastry, I chose puff pastry as I was already making foccacia two ways.

1 package of puff pastry
6 small onions thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 can of anchovies
About 20 pitted nicoise olives

Thursday, December 16, 2010

foccacia bread

Foccacia bread is one of my favourite breads to make and there have not been very many occasions where I have entertained and I haven't produced a couple of loaves.  I like it because it is easy and tastes so good .

4 cups of all purpose flour
1 package of dried yeast or about a 2" cube of fresh
1 1/2 to 2 cups of water
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt

mix the yeast sugar and 1/2 the water together and leave for a few minutes until some bubbles start to form, this shows that the yeast is alive.

Place the flour and the yeast mixture along with the olive oil and salt in to a food processer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

party food - Curried chicken in endive

This is a dish I have made a few times, it is mostly prepared ahead and is a lo carb option on the often carb heavy buffet table. It is one of my few exceptions to the not using curry powder rule, as it really works well with mayonnaise.

Rather drunken looking appetizers
4 Belgian endive all leaves split apart
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of curry powder (or more to taste)
Small handful of chopped coriander
1/3 cup of chopped cashews
1/3 cup of chopped green grapes

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daring Cooks challenge - Eggs benedict

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I chose to do the eggs benedict as I love them and it is something I never make. I varied the recipe slightly as I was cooking for a crowd, two of whom do not eat pork so I used smoked salmon to replace the ham (often done here on the west coast)

There were several people who not only poached the egg and made the hollandaise sauce, but also made the English muffins.  I am afraid I bailed on that and bought the muffins.

My recipe for hollandaise sauce is from my text book from when I was going to college back in 1977 learning classic french cooking.  This method is not for wimps as there is no double boiler you have to regulate the heat by pulling off and on the burner, and you need a good pot with a heavy bottom (which is what you will have if you eat these too often)

Hollandaise sauce.

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 lb of butter Melted(yes half a pound)
2 egg yolks

Place vinegar, lemon juice and fresh ground pepper in a small heavy bottomed pot and reduce to half.  1 1 tablespoon of cold water, allow to cool.

Mix in the yolks with a whisk and return to a gentle heat  and whisking continuously cook until they are thickened about the consistency of whipping cream. Remove from the heat.

Then very gradually whisk in the melted butter a little at a time until all the butter has been absorbed and it has the consistency of sour cream .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Party food - Roasted prawns

One of the most popular items at a appetizer buffet always seems to be prawns. I much prefer to buy raw prawns and cook them fresh rather than buying pre cooked as they taste so much better. I have taken this method of cooking the prawns from my friend Candy who served them at a recent get together at her house.  It was simple to do, did not require a lot of last minute work (I want to enjoy the party) and most importantly tasted good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Party food - Cheese straws

It was a very good friends retirement party this weekend, and of course I was helping with the food. There were going to be 40 people so not a sit down dinner, and we decided that all the food should be able to be eaten from small plates with out the use of cutlery.  I will share several of the items I made this week as this is the time of year to be partying. The first thing I made was an old standby as it can be made ahead, presents well and tastes good, cheese straws.

Cheese straws ready to party

You could make your own puff pastry for this, but at the moment I really do not have the time or the patience for that, so I buy it.  Lat year I discovered the Presidents Choice brand, I really like this one as it is all butter and it comes in a sheet, so you do not have to roll it out which often destroys the layers and it saves time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fridge dinner - stuffed peppers

One of my absolute favourite things is to be given a challenge of making dinner from what you can find in the fridge and pantry. Friday night I arrived at my friends house laden with all kinds of wonderful produce from Granville Island, she arrived from Costco also laden with purchases.  All this food was for her husbands retirement party on Saturday and neither of us had given any thought as to what we would have for dinner.

Open fridge what is there to use and what did she need using up? 1lb of lean hamburger, an open can of tomato paste, 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes, 4 rather sad looking bell peppers.

Stuffed peppers it would be.

I have no pictures of the making of this, as it wasn't until we were ready to put it in the oven that Nancy said "you should blog this".  Any way here is what we did

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pork stroganoff

Pork tenderloin is a great meat for mid week, it cooks fast, it's lean, it's cheap and versatile.  Tonight I made a twist on the normal beef stroganoff using pork tenderloin instead of steak.

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
One pork tenderloin cut into strips
1 small onion chopped
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon of flour
1 tablespoon of mustard
a handful of chopped parsley

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Roast cauliflower and chicken thighs

This recipe is adapted from one that I saw on the everyday food website by Martha Stewart.  I am always a little cautious of Martha Stewart recipes as they don't always seem to be tested properly but this one sounded good. I recently discovered how wonderful cauliflower tastes when it has been roasted.  Previously I had only had it boiled in cheese sauce, which I love, but it takes on a whole new dimension when it is roasted or fried.

8 Chicken thighs (bone in)
1 small head of cauliflower cut up
2 tablespoons of sherry or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of capers.

Place the chicken thighs skin side down in a frying pan and cook until the skin is golden brown and has released the fat.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chili verde - Green chili

This recipe is for  The Cottagers wife .  When I told her that I was writing a blog, the first thing  she said was post the green chili recipe, so as requested here it is.

There are a couple of unusual ingredients the first being green chili powder.  I was first introduced to this on a trip to Santa Fe about 15 years ago, in New Mexico you were always given the choice of red chili or green chili sauce with all your dishes this was a revelation and I always chose green.  I bought some green chili powder then and this is the dish I have mostly made with it.  Now when ever I am in place that might sell it such as California or again in New Mexico  I always try to pick some up.  Last month I found my self in a mexican store down near Pike Place market in Seattle and sure enough they had some.

Green Chile powder from Seattle

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Simpsons visit Karnak

Tonight my husband was out for dinner, so it was just me and the boys, so I cooked their favourite dinner, buffalo chicken, Caesar salad and cheesy potatoes, all of which I have blogged before.  I am now officially the best Mother, (for an hour or so anyway)

So I thought I would share  a moment from Egypt.

Karnak temple
Karnak temple was the largest of all the temples we visited and it was awesome and fascinating to walk around.

Row of rams guarding the entrance.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easy butter chicken

Tonight my Father was coming for dinner and my youngest son was not home for dinner, so Indian food it would be and I had defrosted 3 chicken breasts so butter chicken was on the menu.

I do not know how authentic this is, but it tastes good and I suspect butter chicken is really a western thing or at the very least an Indian dish in the same way as sweet and sour pork is to Chinese food.

1 tablespoon of oil
1 onion chopped
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1/2 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of salt
3 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup of light cream

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grandma Naylor's meat and potato pie

Grandma Naylor was my Maternal Grandmother and though she had a very limited repertoire of very simple food, she cooked what she did very well, and meat and potato pie (after her Yorkshire puddings) was my favourite.  She was born and brought up in Yorkshire in the north of England and believe this dish is local to the area that she lived in.

It is very plain with no spices no herbs this was the England of mid 20th century, but don't be put off by that it has a wonderful simple clean flavour and well worth making on a cold rainy early winter day. This can be a week night dinner if you start the night before which is what I did.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spice rubbed pork tenderloin

This is a quick, easy and healthy weeknight dinner, I have had a bit of a gippy stomach since Egypt, so I wanted something that was not too rich or heavy for dinner and I picked up a pork tenderloin this weekend. (You could also use chicken breasts if you had those instead Leah)

Preheat the oven to 350 then mix together the spice rub.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving - Pecan pie

Thursday was American thanksgiving, and though I was born and brought up in England and live in Canada, I don't see that as any reason not to celebrate it.  Luckily I have several American friends, one of whom invites us every year to a wonderful turkey feast.  Everyone brings something, and as it is a traditional holiday and we are traditional people we always bring the same things.  My mission is to bring pies.  Usually I make Pumpkin pie.  (for some of us it is not thanksgiving with out pumpkin pie) and at least one other for non pumpkin pie eaters.

This year I am making pecan pie, and apple blueberry pie.  It was going to be apple pie, but I had less apples than I thought and there were some blueberries in the freezer. The pastry for the apple blueberry pie was the same as for the apple pie I made earlier in the fall, I just mixed some frozen blueberries with the apples and tossed in about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken some of the juices.  Any way it turned out well and Dov a good friend declared it the best blueberry apple pie he had ever had (I suspect it was the only blueberry apple pie he had ever had but thank you any way) He said he usually found blueberry pie to sweet and sickly and the apples helped cut the sweetness.

Blueberry apple pie
For the pecan pie I used a traditional french pastry Pate Sucre (sugar pastry) this is rich with butter and cuts almost like a shortbread cookie and I think it goes well with Pecan pie.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Egypt a Nile cruise

I was lucky enough to spend 7 days drifting down the Nile with my Father, a woman I have known since I was 5 and she was a new bride and her husband.  We flew to Luxor from London and were picked up by our tour company representative.  Thank heavens I do not know how we would have made it out of the airport to the boat without him.

The Nile cruise boats
The boat was moored along with many others just South of Luxor, we settled into our room and went for dinner.  The food on the boat was about what I had expected, nothing special.  This normally would have been a major problem for me as one of the reasons I enjoy traveling is the food, but this was Egypt the place I had always wanted to go to.

The first day we visited the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens along with many other tourists in many other buses.  This was my first time on guided trip and though I am not sure how many others I will go on, for Egypt it did make things easier as there were so many people and most of the people working both on the boat and all the tourist destinations had only a rudimentary understanding of English and I have no Arabic.

Hatsheput's temple
On the back side of the Valley of the Kings was Hatsheput's Temple massive and Awe inspiring as were all the temples.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A day in Capri

We had decided that this was the day to go to Capri as the weather was warm and fairly clear, so we climbed down the many, many steps to the harbor and bought 3 two way tickets to Capri, there was a time for our return journey of 3:15, which as we were getting a 9:30 ferry would give us a few hours to poke around the island.

On the ferry to Capri
we were approached by a friendly man offering to show us around the island on a bus promising "free time to shop"  but after a little consideration we turned him down and turned out to be very glad that we did.

We walked down the same sea wall the that the cars used to drive on to the ferries with. BC Ferries would be horrified, then went to find a cafe to relax and watch the people go by.

Very good very expensive Cappuccino

Monday, November 22, 2010

Barbecued lamb

First night back in London from Italy Jacky's husband (from New Zealand) volunteered to barbecue a leg of lamb for dinner, this is his speciality and I was really looking forward to it.  We decided to make an appetizer using the buffalo mozzarella and lemon oil that we had bought in Italy.  And as we still had celeriac left over from last week we thought we would make a variation on the previous weeks side dish using sweet potato and regular potato along with the celeriac.

This was a meal made with whatever we found in the house.  O happy day when you find fresh buffalo Mozzarella from Italy in your fridge.

We had a whole leg of lamb which Jacky studded with garlick and surrounded with beautiful fresh rosemary from the garden, then wrapped in foil and baked in a medium oven for 40 minutes.

ready to bake
After the lamb was baked Howard (Jacky's husband) took it outside to their built in wood fired barbecue where he had readied the fire so that the wood was mostly burned down to charcoal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Evening in Sorrento

We had had a good drive down the coast, came back to the hotel had a bottle of wine that we had got at the super market (not great) and contemplated where to go for dinner. Having not come to a decision we went down below the central square and sniffed out something that looked good.  It was getting late about 9:00 and we were not too hungry so just wanted something light.

We found a place in a piazza that we could sit outside and watch the world go by.  Candy ordered a salad that though it was not called a salad nicoise  in fact was.  Jacky ordered an omelet and I ordered a seafood salad. But before our meal arrived we received a free pizza bread.  It was like a pizza base with a brucshetta topping, another thing I like to try when I get home.  We all loved it and ate it though we were not that hungry,

free bruschetta bread

Drifting down the Nile

Currently drifting down the Nile with very limited very expensive internet.

Beautiful weather beautiful views not so good food, but you can not get everything.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Amalfi coast

After a morning of shopping (mostly window shopping) in Sorrento, we decided to take a drive up the Amalfi coast.  This was something that I had really been wanting to do as I heard it was very beautiful and I was not disappointed.

We set off around the coast road, the sun came out for a while and it was stunning.  Again I was really glad Jacky was driving, as the roads were very twisty and the Italians were driving like no one else was on the roads again.

We drove for an hour or so and then started looking for somewhere for lunch. We stopped at a place on the side of the road to look at some pottery and there was a restaurant down the side of the cliff.  So we went on down and found we were the only diners, again we worried about the food and again in vain.

we ordered the a pizza to share and mixed meat and cheese again as we had enjoyed it so much the night before.  The pizza was we all agreed the best pizza we had ever had.

The best pizza ever
The topping was mushroom and pancetta with fresh mozzarella it was fabulous and the crust was thin but not too thin.

meats and cheese
the mixture of meats and cheese were good but not as good as the night before.

After we had eaten we continued down the coast after buying some of the wonderful lemon oil that was served with the bread, I can't wait to use it at home.

As we were setting back along the coast road the sun set and gave us quite a show.

The sun setting over the Amalfi coast 

An evening in Sorrento

We blew in to Sorrento (literally) at about 5:30 and checked in to our hotelHotel Antichemura. We were situated right in the central square the room was  quite large and pleasant with one very large bed and one single bed. It was a little more than the hotel in Pompeii but worth it as we were spending 3 night here. Though we did pay for internet it was so desperately slow that it was impossible to upload pictures for the blog so my plans of writing up each night were thwarted.

The concierge made a reservation at restaurant Filippo they even sent a driver to pick us up, so we were a little nervous that we might be set up for a tourist trap.  But in fact the restaurant was great, good atmosphere and wonderful food.  We started with tuna carpaccio and assorted meats and cheese, and eggplant Parmesan.

Tuna carpaccio
We were all blown away with the tuna carpaccio it was  very fresh and served on a bed of arugula with generous amounts of lemon squeezed on it.  It was probably one the best dishes of the holiday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We were staying at Hotel Diana in Pompeii which was very centrally located and was extremely reasonable at 85.00 euro about $119.00 for the three of us. Not luxurious but clean and pleasant with a beautiful garden with lemon trees in it had the weather been better we would have breakfast out there.

The day started out well, warm and not raining. Unfortunately we got up too late for the breakfast at the hotel, but they kindly brought the most delicious croissant and cappuccino from the bar.  We then headed out to find Pompeii which we were assured was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel.  Well if you didn't make any wrong turns and jogged it might have been.

As soon as we entered the gates we were offered a guided tour which we decided to take up.  For an hour we were shown the best parts of Pompeii including almost complete houses, the amphitheatre and shops. Soon after our tour finished the rain started to come down but we continued around in the wind and rain and toured the remainder of the site it is quite amazing and far larger than I imagined.
Lost in Pompeii
Walking around rainy Pompeii

Fountain in Pompeii

Found a roman kitchen

So after all this culture and weather we needed some lunch and headed to a restaurant not too far from the entrance, always a bit of a bad sign.  But beggars can't be choosers and we wanted to have lunch before driving to Sorrento so in we went.

The walls of the restaurant

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Stuck in Sorrento (there are worse places to be stuck) with out a decent internet connection, so I can not upload any photographs.  Weather is gradually getting better and better and the food for the most part has been wonderful.

Back to full internet on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potato, celeriac and fennel side dish

Whilst enjoying my peaceful evening in front of the fire on my first night in England I came accross this on a cooking show on The Cooking network UK it sounded like just the thing to go with roast pork on Sunday.

A short list of ingredients and little prep time just my kind of recipe, let the ingredients speak for themselves.  I think fennel and celeriac are both much underrated vegetables and this is a wonderful way to use them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Simple English dinner

I arrived in England mid afternoon and my school friend Jacky kindly picked me up at Heathrow. She and her family were abandoning me for the evening as they had a prior engagement. (this is something only a friend who has known you since were 9 could do.) So I was on my own for dinner

We stopped at waitrose to pick up my supplies, I wanted to have something not easily available in Canada as well as pick up some twiglets and scotch eggs. I found in the fish section something that I loved as a child that I called "yellow fish" this is in fact smoked haddock. So I decided on that and got some interesting looking potatoes (there are so many more varieties easily available here) There was also some purple sprouting broccoli which looked very interesting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roast chicken and pasta

Recovering from jet lag so this is the last meal in Canada.

This is a recipe adapted from one by Jaques Pepin, he described this as a dish his mother would make and it is a favourite in my house too. Normally I would not have time to cook this after work as it takes at least 1 1/2 to roast a good size chicken, fortunately (for this any way) I have a son at home that could put the chicken in the oven at 4, so when I got home at 6 it was beautifully cooked.

Feeds a family of 4 with lunch for one the next day.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Well I have not even left the ground yet to fly to London and already major disaster.  Just coming off the the Canada line and dragging my luggage down the ramp I suddenly felt something around my ankles I looked down it was my skirt!!!!!  Thank God I had a long coat on, nevertheless I had to muster what ever dignity I had and pulled it up, of course while convulsing with laughter.

Well this looks like its going to be a good trip stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mushroom ragout

One of my husbands favourite foods is mushrooms. So since I am about to take off and abandon him for over two weeks and fresh mushrooms are everywhere at this time of year  I thought I would make mushroom ragout.

I bought a container of chantrelle mushrooms and another with a mixture including portabello and oyster as well as the more common button mushrooms.

This recipe is quick and simple and just shows off the wonderful flavour of the mushrooms.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Comfort food at its best - Cassoulet

Earlier in the week I was bemoaning the lack of time for a long slow cooked meal, well Sunday night my craving was sated with the wonderful french Cassoulet. Though the sun was shining you could feel winter in the air and it is just a matter of days until all the trees are bare. Also it was Halloween so I felt like Cooking the ultimate in slow cooked dish.

The autumn leaves soon to be just a memory

This is a dish from the south west of france where it is a way of life and there are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks cooking it. In fact every time I make it, it is a little different, changes made based on meats, sausages and beans available.  So I will write up how I cooked it this time with some suggestions for other variations.

These quantities served 8 of us and there was enough for lunch for one left over.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saturday night in Seattle at Tulio

After an exhausting day of shopping, tasting and being over stimulated by the sights and sounds of Pike place Market we headed back to Kathleen's hotel, which was close by, for a glass of wine to recuperate and to discuss dinner plans.

A fish watching me at Pike place market

Due to lack of planning  we find our selves yet again with out reservations, but Kathleen's husband suggested Tulio Restaurant where he had eaten the night before.  He was not joining us as he had a late lunch.  A quick call to the concierge and a booking was made with a enough time left for another glass of wine.

Tulio's was just a couple of blocks away, which was good as the heavens had opened. We waited for a little while in the hotel lobby as we were little to eager and arrived a little too early.

We had a table right next to the open kitchen, always my favourite place to sit.

We started with a couple of salads which were good but not memorable, Connie and I shared arugula with crisp pancetta and hard boiled egg.  It was pleasant and I was glad I had it as my main course did not come with any vegetables

I know it is a little hazy, but frankly I think we all look a little better that way