Sunday, January 29, 2012

Braised short ribs - Comfort food

Continuing with our theme of comfort food on the girls birthday weekend, we found some meaty looking beef short ribs at the local meat market and decided to have long slow cooked short ribs on Saturday night.

Short ribs on the bone are really the best cut of beef for long slow cooking as the are very flavourful and the meat has enough fat to keep them moist but if you choose to the correct ones not too much as who wants to eat large globs of fat!

This quantity served 10 women, but would probably be enough for 6 or 8 if you had men and boys to feed.

6 short ribs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 cup of red wine
1 quart of crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 small handful of fresh basil chopped
1 punnet of button mushrooms quartered

Brown the beef on all sides in the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan.

You will have to do this in several batches. As they are browned transfer to a large oven proof cassserole.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Halloumi cheese salad

Last weekend was the girls birthday weekend on the Sunshine Coast.  10 of us spent the weekend ostensibly celebrating 3 of our birthdays which fall with in a few days. But really it is an excuse to get together and get away from the drab mid winter blaas that take hold at this time of year.

I get to cook for an appreciative audience try out some new recipes as well as cooking some tried and true dishes. Friday night we decided to have cassoulet one of my personal favourites, but the first time for a couple of the women. To go with this I made another old favourite halloumi cheese salad.

Halloumi cheese is a salty Greek cheese that is used for making saganaki, which I love.  I usually make this salad in the summer as it goes so well with grilled chicken and kebabs, but it also was a nice sharp contrast to the very rich cassoulet.

Halloumi cheese used to be very hard to find, but like almost everything in this ever shrinking world it appears to be available in most decent supermarkets as well as speciality stores.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leek and white bean soup

We had the first snow of the winter yesterday, and everything looks very frosty and cold, but we had a lovely sunny afternoon good for a brisk walk to blow away the winter cobwebs.  What could be more perfect than to warm up with a good home made soup.

I had 3 leeks sitting patiently in my fridge waiting to be used, so I decided to use them and make a slightly different rift on the classic leek and potato soup that I often make.

3 leeks cleaned and cut up
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 cups of chicken stock
1 can of white cannelloni beans (or any white bean)
1 sprig of rosemary (about two inches)

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pot and then add the chopped leek and garlic.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

German style red cabbage

My father's favourite vegetable is red cabbage. So when I was cooking roast pork the other evening I decided to cook some to go with the dinner, with enough left over for a meal later in the week for him.  I also really enjoy the sweet and sour tangy flavours of this dish with the rich goodness of roast pork and crackling. It is easy to make and can be made ahead and then warmed up just before serving, and it makes good use of one of the few vegetables that are in season around here at this time of year.

1/2 medium head red cabbage, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
6 whole peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf

Add all the ingredients to a large pot on the stove.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hearty ground turkey and vegetable soup

We are now in the deep dark depths of winter, the Christmas celebrations behind us, long nights, short days, drab gray weather, and the summer far in the future.  It really is my least favourite time of year, if it wasn't for my birthday this month, I am not sure how I would make it through.

The drab view from my house in early January
It is also one of my busiest months of the year at work and therefore I have been working long days, leaving in the dark and getting home long after the sun has set, really not feeling like doing much cooking.  In an effort to not breakdown and buy take out, I made a large batch of hearty warming soup that I can heat up quickly when I get home.

View in my kitchen in early January

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

San Antonio guacamole

On our recent visit to San Antonio Texas we went to a restaurant called boudros on the river walk and the waiter made a guacamole table side that was the best guacamole that I can ever remember having. So I decided to try and replicate it for the New Years party.

Included in this recipe is what the waiter described as "fire roasted tomatoes and pepper" I don't remember what pepper it was, though I do know that it was not jalapeno, but up on the sunshine coast in December that was all we could get so that is what I used. Also I did not have a fire in which roast them so I had use a hot oven.  Even with these changes actually it turned out very similarly to the original and well worth the little effort.

10 campari tomatoes
2 jalapeno pepper
1/4 red onion chopped
3 ripe avocado's
Juice of two limes
juice of one orange
bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper

Up to a couple of days ahead "fire roast" the tomatoes and jalapeno pepper by placing in a foil lined roasting tin and roasting in a 450 oven.

Cook until the skins of the tomatoes and peppers are starting to blacken about 1/2 hour to 3/4 of an hour.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bacon and onion marmalade appetizers

I saw this on Patio Daddio's blog, and I could not resist giving it a go, I mean how can you go wrong with caramelized onions and bacon together?

So while we up at Pender Harbour I made the marmalade and the crostini, so that on New years day I just had to put them together to come up with a delicious appetizer.

Ingredients for the onion and bacon marmalade
4 Yellow onions, halved and sliced
4 slices Thick bacon
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar (white wine vinegar is fine)
2 sprigs Thyme, stripped from the stem

Fry the bacon in a large frying pan, removing it when it is crisp.

OK I know that there are more than 4 slices, we had taste the bacon to make sure it was alright and it was so we had another piece.

Add the onion to the bacon fat, I poured some of it off as there was a lot left in the pan.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quick and easy sausage supper

 I love Christmas and look forward to it every year, all the parties, the food, presents and family. Though I do love all these things, after the crescendo of Christmas day I crave some peace and Quiet.  So Nancy I ran away to Pender Harbour on the day after boxing day for two nights of rest and relaxation.  We cooked food left over in the fridge from the holidays played a lot of Quiddler and worked on some appetizers for New Years.

The weather was not perfect with little shots of sun bathing the local hills and islands for a few moments then moving on. But very conducive to rest and relaxation.  We arrived up there at about 6:00 and we were hungry, so after a very quick reconnoiter of what we had available we came up with this dish which will I believe go down as another Pender Harbour classic like Sunday night sausage and potato dinner While Nancy was turning on the water turning up the heat I turned the oven on to 400 and pulled the ingredients out of the bags we had brought.

6 small nugget potatoes halved
4 mild itatlian sausage chopped (these were from Hopcott's )
1/2 white onion chopped in to large chunks
6 whole mini sweet peppers (also from Hopcott's)
2 carrots sliced fairly thickly
1 clove of garlic sliced
4 tablespoons of olive oil.
A handful of fresh herbs we used parsley as that is what we had.

Throw all these ingredients into a roasting tin toss in the olive oil and salt and pepper.

Put this in the oven, for about 1/2 an hour to 3/4 depending on the size of your potatoes. This is just enough time to enjoy a glass of wine and a game of quiddler.