Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oat cakes

The first time I took my husband back to the old country I introduced him to oat cakes with cheese, he loved them.  Back then you really could not buy them in British Columbia except perhaps a speciality store, so whenever I came back from England I bought him a package or two of Oat cakes.

They are one of my favourite foils for cheese, and these days with the ever shrinking world, you can pick them up at almost any grocery store.  But when I found a recipe for making them in a cook book celebrating the food of London I had to have a go at making them.

11/3 cups of medium ground oatmeal (I used instant)
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
11/2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 cup of warm water, or as needed

In a bowl stir together the dry ingredients, using a wooden spoon stir in the melted butter and warm water. At first it seems impossible that this will turn in to a dough.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vegetarian option to turkey

Every year I have the pleasure of hosting my husbands extended family to Christmas dinner, this year it was 16 of us.  The numbers have been diminishing every year with grown children moving away to Alberta and sadly we have lost both my husbands parents and my mother.  But this year there was addition to the family my niece gave birth to a baby boy at 1:30 on Christmas morning. What a joy it will be next year to have a baby at Christmas, this year we had to make do with my rather prickly kitten.

Christmas Kitty
My sister in law is vegetarian, and so every year I try to make a dish that will give her some protein, and as she loves beans it often involves some kind of beans. This year I set my self a challenge to create a dish that would be full of the flavours of turkey but with out trying to imitate the meat and be completely vegetarian.  So this is what I came up with.

1 cup of black eyed peas
1 cup of small white lima beans
4 cups of water
1 onion chopped
1 large garlic clove sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 vegetarian stock cube (try McCormick's vegetarian chicken stock cubes)
2 tablespoons of fresh sage finely chopped
1 stalk of fresh rosemary leaves stripped and chopped
1/4 cup of chopped parsley.
1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs
zest of one lemon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Italian sausage white bean soup

The other soup that I made for the carolling party this year was using Italian sausages and white beans.  These two things go very well together I have always thought and I had some home made beef stock in my freezer and this was a good way to use it. I also added Kale as the dark green flavour of the kale really complements the slightly sweet spiciness of the Italian sausage.

I made a very large amount of soup that would have fed 30 people a mug of soup so unless you are expecting a crowd you might want to scale it back.

12 hot Italian sausages cut up
2 onions chopped
2 very large cloves or garlic sliced or 4 smaller ones
6 cups of beef stock
2 cans of tomato puree
1 lb of dried white navy beans soaked in water for an hour.
2 bunches of kale chopped

Monday, December 19, 2011

Asian flavoured slaw

On Friday we had our annual Christmas pot luck, we celebrate most things in my department like birthdays, retirements, marriages and anything else we can think of with a pot luck.  But the Christmas one is different we set a table with table cloths, decorations and Christmas crackers, people make even more of an effort with their contributions.

Then at the end we do our secret Santa gift exchange, it is a highlight for me and gets the Christmas season off to a good start. I usually bring a salad as any good buffet needs something a little lighter to counter all the rich and calorie laden options. This salad has become a favourite, though I do change it up a little using different fruit and nuts. This year I used pomegranate and cashews, but I have used mango and papaya and almonds and peanuts.

1/2 white cabbage shredded
1 red onion very thinly sliced
2 red peppers thinly sliced
1 cup of toasted nuts (cashews this time)
2 cups of fruit sliced in most cases (pomegranate this time)
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (optional as there are those that hate cilantro)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ginger Carrot Soup

Every year we have a Christmas Carolling Party, where we have 40 or so good friends over and we go out along the street singing Christmas Carols to our neighbours.  We collect donations to the food bank and get into the Christmas spirit.  When the Carollers return I give them some hot soup to warm them up, this year one of the soups I made was ginger carrot soup.

We have a collection of over 40 Christmas mugs that we have collected over the years and these make a wonderful vessel for serving soup to a crowd.  Even though you do need a spoon to eat the soup it is much easier to juggle a cup and spoon when you are not at a table than a bowl.  And anyway I do not have that many bowls.

I love carrot soup but I wanted to put a little bit of a twist and ginger and carrots go so well together. I used both fresh and dried ginger as they each has its own flavour and cumin seemed to be the natural spice to use,  this is what I came up with

2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of ground dry ginger

1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds

Over medium high heat, add butter and onions, cumin and cook, stirring often, until onions are limp.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Valdosta Pecans

This is a recipe that I got from my good friend and fellow blogger Cottagers wife she made these and brought them over one evening when they were here for dinner.  And my husband just loved them, he loved them so much he tried making them.  Now my husband is a very good person with many talents, but cooking is not one of them.  But after two attempts and a little prodding in the right direction he made some very tasty pecans.

So now that the holiday season is here I thought they would make a great addition to the snacks and appetizers at our annual carolling party.

2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp butter (best) or margarine
Pinch of salt

1 and 1/2 cups whole pecans
1 tsp finely grated orange peel aka zest
1 tsp course salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

In a medium sauce pan combine sauce ingredients and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbling. Cook one minute longer, then remove from heat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pot Roast Indian style

It is no secret that Pot Roast is one of me favourite winter meals, it is a lot cheaper than a standing rib roast and it cannot really be over cooked. You can put it in the crock pot on the way out in the morning and not only do you have a delicious warming meal at the end of the day, but also a kitchen that smells like some one has been cooking all day.  I do like to mix it up a little though and I am always looking for new flavours and ways of enhancing the good old pot roast.

This recipe is very loosely and I mean loosely based on a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey , which a good friend had suggested as we were cooking Saturday night meal together and we had picked up a pot roast from Hopcott's.

2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of ground coriander
1 tablespoon of ground dry ginger
1 tablespoon of paprika

2 cups of plain yogurt
1 large or 2 small onions chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 medium sized pot roast.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lukes Corner Bar and Kitchen

I work on South Granville and have done for nearly 30 years, so I have got to know it very well and am on first name terms with many of the merchants.  There are so many options for eating out, it is only my wallet and waist size that stop me from eating at a different restaurant every day.  Lukes Corner Bar and Kitchen is situated on the corner of Granville and 14th.  This is a little further up than I usually get on my wanderings at lunch time so I am not sure when this opened, the last time I had noticed it was called the red door.

Any way we went there for lunch on Monday to welcome a couple of new members of our finance team and I was pleasantly surprised with the food.
macho chicken salad,   this was grilled spicy chicken with angry pecans chopped egg crisp salami-prosciutto and an avocado-rocket dressing

As usual I asked for my dressing on the side as I am trying to cut down calories and anyway I find often restaurant add too much.  This was a large plate and the chicken was freshly grilled and still warm. The salad was fresh and crisp with spicy pecans and crisp shards of prosciutto sprinkled through it.  All in all in very tasty fresh lunch.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sticky toffee pudding

There are some (probably the French) who say "If you want to eat well in England then eat breakfast for every meal." Though the British do make a mean breakfast I contend that where they really shine is dessert (or pudding).  I further contend that Sticky Toffee Pudding is the one of the best of all those delicious sticky dense rib sticking puddings.

This iconic British dessert is dense and moist on one hand but almost light on the other and a wonderful toffee sauce is poured over the top when warm which soaks into the rich moist cake.  I did not make my mother's recipe as I could not find it, so I used (with a little alteration) a recipe I found on Rock Recipes a blog from Newfoundland They suggested making it in muffin tins which I think is a great idea and I am going to try some day, but as I did not want to be fussing at the last minute I made it in a spring form pan.

8 ounces chopped pitted dried dates
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

3 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp golden syrup (or substitute dark corn syrup)
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Place the dates and water in a small pot and bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for only a couple of minutes. Let stand for a few minutes while preparing the rest of the batter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Puree of white winter vegetables with Roast beef

When ever I make a turkey dinner  I always cook Trio of root vegetables which is carrot, turnip and sweet potato mashed together.  This dish is similar and comes from a book by John Hadamuscin  as well.

I love both parsnip and celery root and at this time of year they are some of the few vegetables that can be bought that are grown locally.  I had 18 people for dinner on Sunday, I was serving roast beef and I thought that this dish would complement the beef.

A beautiful and very large prime rib roast
Puree of white winter vegetables

Equal portions of:
celery root
1 pear
butter to taste.

Peel and slice the vegetables and chop in to equal size pieces then place in a large pot of cold salted water.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Home made crackers

I am having a Christmas party this Sunday (I know it is awfully early) and so I decided rather than going out and buying crackers for my cheese and quince paste platter I would make my own.  I had seen these being made when I was lying on the couch a couple of weeks ago sick and unable to do anything but watch the Food Network.  I found the recipe from Laura Calder on the food network web page. I have of course changed it a little but not materially

2/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 egg
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Put the butter, sugar, salt, water and egg in a food processor and mix until the ingredients have formed a smooth paste.

Then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like course bread crumbs,
do not overwork. Then pour into a bowl.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quick and easy mushroom soup

We are waking up to frost in the mornings, and even though the days have been sunny there is little warmth left in the sun, so my thoughts turn to soup.  Home made soup is a real comfort food for me, but I have to say I really do not like canned soup and making soup does not have to be too time consuming or difficult.  One of the canned soups that I can remember my mother serving when I was a child was cream of mushroom, and I would not eat it, as I declared I did not like mushroom soup

I came to terms with my hate for mushroom soup a long time ago when I realized it was not mushroom soup I did not like it was canned mushroom soup. I made this the other evening after work, and it filled my need for a warming soup and was very quick and easy to make.

1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 cups of sliced mushrooms (any mushrooms will do I used one portabello and the remainder button)
A sprig of fresh thyme if you have one
2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of cream (or milk if you are feeling virtuous)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

Sweat off the onion and garlic in a large saucepan until the onion is transparent but has not started to go golden.