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