Monday, January 31, 2011

Chana dal

Sunday night we had some people over for dinner that the rest of my family had met, but I had not. They were a family originally from India and the Mother was vegetarian, so (quite bravely I thought) I decided to make one of my favourite Indian vegetarian dishes Chana Dal.

This is a dish that comes together quickly, especially if you use canned chickpeas like I did.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lemon roast chicken

If I have to feed a crowd and I do not have a lot of time or inspiration Lemon roast chicken is my fall back dish.

Nothing could be simpler and is always a crowd pleaser.

On Sunday night there were 8 of us for dinner, so I used two whole chickens cut up, but you could use already cut up chicken pieces, allowing 2 per person.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Banana leaf and the Good Lovelies

Friday night after a wicked week of work I went out with my husband and 4 friends for dinner and a concert.  Connie chose the restaurant based on recommendations and we were all happy with her choice.  We went to the Banana Leaf on West Broadway which is a Malaysian Restaurant.  Luckily Connie had made a reservation as the place was packed.

It had a good atmosphere friendly with a good buzz, some how you just felt the food would be good.  The menu was large and a little overwhelming, and 3 of the group chose the $28.00 tasting menu, I am not sure if this was part of the dine out Vancouver, but it came with a tasting flight of wines as well for a further $15.00 which actually was well worth it, the wines were good (so they tell me) and they were generous "tastes".  Connie and shared Braised Lamb Shank in Cumin & Star Anise, Sambal green beans and 2 types of rice, and my husband chose the chicken curry and steamed rice.

Spicy calamari
We also shared a plate of Spicy Calamari, though not my favourite dish was still very good and the spicy sauce was very moorish.

One of the starters that came with the tasting menu Roti Canai was a wonderful flaky pastry/bread with a dipping sauce.

Roti Canai and satay

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday night sausage and potato dinner

Nancy and I invented this recipe several years ago on a Sunday night at Pender Harbour.  At the last minute we had decided to not go back to reality, but to stay one more night in paradise.  We checked out the fridge and there was really nothing to work with, so we headed into the village and the IGA had closed. So we went over to Oak Tree market to my favourite butcher.  They had some wonderful home made chirozo sausages and really nice local new potatoes.

So this weekend on Sunday night Nancy and I were hankering after some potatoes and sausages.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seafood pasta

When the 10 women were polled about what they wanted for dinner, there were several people who wanted seafood  but as there were 11 of us and a couple allergic to seafood we decided to make a version of surf and turf Seafood pasta (plus a small pasta with cream sauce) and barbecued flank steak 

Unfortunately the fish store in Maderia Park was closed for the month (got to love a small town) so we were at the mercy of the IGA.  We bought two bags of large uncooked prawn, but there really was no other decent seafood. luckily there was some haddock fillets in the freezer left over from the summer so we defrosted them. This is what was available but it would have been great if we had some scallops as well and just about any other seafood would do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rice and beans

This weekend was my birthday weekend and I spent it with 10 girl friends at a beautiful house up on the sunshine coast. As you can imagine there was a lot of talking and laughing, which is pretty much how we spent our time along with playing quiddler, walking, watching movies, dancing and of course the odd glass of wine was drunk. I also got to indulge my love for cooking and eating.

The first night I made the Cuban style pork roast but this time we used a butt roast and cooked it for about 3 hours.  I had a vision of rice and beans to go with it, so this is what I threw together.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of rice
1 bunch of green onion chopped
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
1 yellow (or orange or red or green) bell pepper chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 can of drained red beans
Handful of chopped cilantro.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend on the sunshine coast

Cooking in my happy place this weekend with no Internet. Plenty to share next week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lebna - yogurt cheese

I found several spellings for this, I am not sure which is correct but anyway I will spell it Lebna, but you could spell it labneh, labne or labanah.  This is a wonderful creamy cheese that can be eaten by those who are lactose intolerant.  I first had this at Nuba restaurant in Vancouver (which I highly recommend.  Having had it there I had to make some.  

It is basicaly drained yogurt, I found several versions my favourite was marinating the lebna in olive oil so this is the recipe I am blogging.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Roasted vegetables

Roast vegetables is a an old standby of mine that I cook on a very regular basis, in the winter they go well roasted in the oven along with a roast meat or poultry of any kind, and in the summer they are a regular on my barbecue.

My favourite vegetables to roast are Bell peppers, eggplant, onions, zucchini, fennel, mushrooms.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cuban style Pork loin roast

Let me start by saying I have never been to Cuba, though I would like to go some time, so I can not vouch for the authenticity of this recipe.  I was looking for some different way to cook a pork loin roast this Sunday and after a while of looking at recipes on the Internet I found many references to Cuban pork roast.  From what I can gather this would traditionally be done with a fattier cut of pork that gains from a long cooking time like a butt roast, but I had a loin roast and I am trying to cut down on the fat (a constant problem, I love fat).

The common seasonings appeared to be sour orange, oregano and cumin, up here in Canada, sour orange is not an ingredient I am going to be able to get, but many recipes suggested mixing half lemon and half orange so that is what I did. Any way this was a big hit with the family and I will certainly be cooking it again, and I would like to try the more traditional long slow cooked method too.  But any way this is what I did.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Garlic confit

After posting about the daring cooks challenge I checked out a few of my fellow daring cooks to see what they had produced.  It was great, so many takes on the theme at Stephfood I found garlic confit.  What a revelation, I could just imagine using this garlic in pasta sauces, soups and salad dressings and how wonderful would that oil be. I had to make some.

2 heads of garlic choose ones with large cloves
Olive oil to cover (depends on the size of your pot I needed about 1 1/2 cups)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Daring Cooks challenge - Duck confit in cassoulet

Finished Cassoulet
 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Duck confit

I was so pleased to see this challenge as duck confit is one of my favourite things to order when I go out and I have never made it.  Now having done it I would do it again it was not hard to do and tasted wonderful.  I checked out many different recipes and as usual I took different things from different recipes to suit my timing and ingredients. This is the second time I have done a posting on cassoulet, see Comfort food at it's best - Cassoulet. But this one is using just the duck confit and lamb.  I did not use sausages as My good friends who are Jewish were coming to dinner and I could not find any decent non pork sausages out here in the burbs.  I also did not use tomatoes as I forgot to buy any and many recipes do not include them any way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baked cheesy spaghetti

This a recipe that is based on one from one of  my favourite cook books by John Hadamuscin I have changed it a little over the years but it remains a favourite.  This is a good dish to make ahead when you want to come home and have a good hearty dinner in the oven in a matter of minutes.  Or to take away to the cottage for the weekend for that first dinner on Friday night when you arrive late. Just throw in the oven  and by the time you have unpacked and poured your first drink it will be ready.

This is cheating a little but make the same sauce as for Italian sausage week night pasta Or you could use any tomato sauce or even a jar of pasta sauce if you were desperate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Easy week night tandoori style chicken

I had some boneless skinless chicken breasts that need to be used for dinner last night and it was just me and my son and we both love Indian food so I decided to make a winter version of tandoori chicken.  Normally in the summer I would barbecue this, but it was snowing outside so there was to be no barbecuing.


  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Balsamic duck breasts

I found myself with 2 duck breasts that needed to cooking (check back January 14 to find out why) so I tried this quick easy way to prepare them.

This would serve two a nice light meal.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roast Parmesan zucchini (courgette)

I really like zucchini especially roasted this way, they are tasty easy and have more flavour than other cooking methods.

To feed 4

  • 4 zucchini sliced in half lengthwise 
  • 4 tablespoons of Parmesan finely grated 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

baby artichokes vinaigrette

I found some baby artichokes the other day at the Red Apple on Hastings and had to get them as I don't often find them especially at this time of year.  I served it as a side dish to go with my Italian Pot roast as it is an Italian dish, but in the summer I have often used it as part of buffet of salads.

Fresh artichokes can be a little intimidating if you have never dealt with them before, but actually these baby ones are easier than the large ones.

First slice them in half top to bottom and then cut the tops and bottoms off, slicing the top off just before it gets to the thickest part of the artichoke.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Comfort food - Italian pot roast

Sunday night we had 8 for dinner, it had been another cool crisp day, and my husband had been snow shoeing with a friend and his brother. I felt we needed something warming and slow cooked.  In the freezer I had a blade roast that needed to be used so I decided to to make pot roast, to mix it up a little I used some Italian flavours and called it Italian pot Roast.

  • 1 medium boneless pot roast
  • 2 large garlic cloves cut in to slivers
  • 2 large garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or a tablespoon dried)
  • 1 cup of red wine  (you can drink the rest)
  • large can of crushed tomatoes (Good Italian ones work best)
  • Handful of chopped parsley for garnish.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ground lamb and Peas - Indian style

This is an old favourite and comes from Madhur Jaffrey my favourite Indian cook book author see Cook books. She says that this is a dish that many young Indian people arriving in London would cook to remind them of home. I was feeling like Indian food and I had 1/2 Kg of ground lamb in the freezer so I phoned my Father (if he saw me blogging Indian food and he had not been invited I would be in trouble)
All though in this case it was not a week night this is definitely week night dinner material.

2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 Jalapeno and 2" of fresh ginger all finely chopped (or see make ahead Indian base)
1 Onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 medium tomatoes chopped (or equivalent canned)
1 1/2 lb of ground lamb (or beef)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of frozen peas

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aloo Gobi - Potato and cauliflower

This is my version of Aloo Gobi which is a very popular indian dish, I have used about 3 different recipes mushed them together and come up with this which works for me and tastes great.

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 cube of ginger, garlic and jalapeno see Rogon Josh recipe (or one garlic clove, 1" ginger and 1/2   jalapeno all finely chopped )
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 small head of cauliflower cut into flowerets
  • equivalent amount of potatoes cut in to the same size as cauliflower and boil for about 5 minutes
  • 3/4 cup of water.
  • Handful of cilantro

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds and cook until they are popping and fragrent.

I wish this was a scratch and sniff screen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Easy green thai pork curry

One the hardest things for me in cooking is to figure out a menu with out a starting point, like starting a picture when all you have is a large white piece of paper.  So I like to have a vision to fulfill or at least one ingredient to use a jumping off point.  For the first dinner of 2011 Nancy produced a small jar of thai green curry paste from the fridge and said "I thought we could use this." She knows this about me.

We were still up at Whistler and so had limited ingredients, this little jar is a good alternative to making a curry paste from scratch and is one that I often use.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New years day - Nita lake Lodge

New years day dawned bright sunny and cold in Whistler this year so Nancy, my son and I decided to take a walk in the snow. It was a beautiful crisp white morning and it was a pleasure to crunch through the snow.

We were walking along the trail that goes between all the lakes on the valley floor.  The trail had been cleared, but unfortunately it was icy and it was not long before I took a tumble, hurting nothing but my dignity, so we decided to take off across the frozen lake.

There was a cold wind so our thoughts turned to hot toddies (it was after noon at this point) we were right next to Nita lake lodge a relatively new small hotel on the lake that we had watched being built.  It looked beautiful from the outside so we were looking forward to seeing the interior.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

comfort food - Southwest braised short ribs

I was lucky enough to spend New Years up at Whistler this year at a friends place.  I do not ski anymore as I really do not enjoy it that much, certainly not enough to pay the big bucks.  On the other hand I have always enjoyed, and continue to enjoy apres ski. So while everyone else is on the slopes I create dinner for everyone and then we are all happy.

Last night was New Years eve and it was a beautiful sunny but cold day, comfort food was called for.  My son and I went shopping in the village (hunting and gathering) to see what looked good. We found some beautifully marbled boneless short ribs.

Nancy has a limited spice draw since everything personal has to be packed away in a small locker, but I knew she had chipotle chili powder, so I decided to make a "southwest" flavoured dish.