Sunday, April 29, 2012

Watercress soup and Scotch eggs

Scotch eggs are a personal favourite food of my child hood.  And although they are available at every grocery store in England, nobody in North America has heard of them. When I go to England I consume as many as I can and certainly more than is healthy.  When we went on the crumpet club weekend Connie very kindly picked a couple of scotch eggs from a local butchers in Coquitlam, oh happy day.

Scotch eggs are hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat then deep fried and are served cold with salad.  Now unwrinkle your nose, both Connie and The cottagers wife were very skeptical, but in fact they both came round and I did not get to eat both of them myself.

When we went hunting and gathering for food we came across some beautiful looking watercress, so I decided to make some watercress soup to go along with our scotch eggs.

1 small onion chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 bunch of watercress
1 potato peeled and chopped
2 cups of broth (preferably chicken, but we only had beef)

Add the oil and onion and cook until the onion is translucent, then add the watercress. At first it will fill the pot, but will very quickly cook down.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Individual pavlovas

My good friend Nancy's favourite dessert is pavlova, or in fact any dessert made with meringue, when she heard that I had made a hazelnut meringue with nutella cream she was sorry she had missed it, so I decided to make a meringue based dessert last Saturday over at her house.

4 egg whites
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of vinegar

Whipped cream and fruit

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then start adding the sugar a 1/4 cup at a time whisking well between each addition.  After the sugar has been combined continue to to whisk for about 4 minutes, the meringue should be stiff and glossy and the sugar should be dissolved completely add the vinegar and whisk for a further minute.

Plop the meringue on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and shape into rough nest shapes.

This made 6 nests, but you could of course just make one large one.

A close up of one of the nests

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crumpet club and sausage and mash

Two good friends and I decided after a bottle of wine or two a few weeks ago, that we would like to watch season 1 of Downton Abbey. And where better than at the Cottagers wife's cottage in Gibsons BC. We decided not only were we going to watch this critically acclaimed  English TV series, we were going to eat English food all weekend. Cottagers wife.  dubbed us the Crumpet Club, though in fact we did not have any crumpets, but maybe during season 2!

We decided, having found some good looking home made "English Bangers" at the local IGA that we would have bangers and mash for dinner on Friday

We considered Toad in the Hole (sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding), but I was warned that the stove might be a little uneven so bangers and mash it would have to be.  One of the most important parts of this dish is a good tasty gravy, as well as a decent sausage and of course creamy mashed potatoes loaded with butter.

Sausage and Gravy

4 sausages (only one each but we ate 4 meals that day)
1 onion sliced
2 cups of beef stock
1 tablespoon of flour mixed with a 1/4 cup of cold water.

Prick the sausages all over to stop them from bursting then put into a non stick frying pan and then turn on the heat so that the sausage will give up some of its fat as it warms up.  When the pan is heated up and the sausages are sizzling add the onion.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Roast rack of pork with apples

We had a friend and her husband coming over for dinner on Saturday evening, but I was taking a ferry home that afternoon, speed was of the essence.  I really had lamb in mind when I headed to the store, but when I got to there this rack of pork was speaking to me. I love this cut of pork, it is fairly lean, but keeping it on the bone seems to add flavour as we well as keep it moist.

Also this is the perfect size to roast for four.

1 apple peeled and cut in to large chunks (I used granny smith)
1/2 onion sliced thickly
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh sage
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 rack of pork
1 cup of chicken stock.
1 glug of white wine (optional)

Place the apples onion and sage on the base of a small roasting tin sprinkle with the olive oil.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken Tagine

The theme on Sunday Evening's get together was Moroccan, so I had to use my tagine.  Tagine is the name of a type of cooking dish and the name of all the dishes that are cooked in it.  I first discovered these years ago in New York and dragged one back on the plane, this was before the stringent luggage rules of today.  Then my husband and I went to Morocco 5 years ago, which renewed my interest again.

Tagines are traditionally made of clay and have a large conical lid. They are used on top of the stove and so to stop the clay from cracking you soak the bottom in water for an hour or so before using.  I think that gas is actually easier on them, my first tagine cracked after a few uses on my electric stove, but I can not remember now if I had read the trick about soaking them. Anyway this one is still going strong after many uses.  You can use a frying pan with a lid, but frankly for some reason cooking in the tagine really does add something.

I often make chicken with preserved lemon tagine, but on Sunday afternoon I did not have any preserved lemons and they take 3 weeks to make, so I had to come up with another idea.

1 chicken cut up or equivelant in pieces
1 onion sliced
1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper both cut in large pieces
1/2 cup of chicken stock or water

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home made granola

A friend of mine very kindly gave me a bag of her home made granola a couple of weeks ago. I have been enjoying this on my yogurt every morning, but when it ran out I missed it, so I figured I had better make some for myself.  I did a little research and it looked like this would not be too hard to do.

The base of all granolas seems to be rolled oats, but over and over I was told not the quick cooking type so I bought 2 cups of traditional rolled oats.  After that it seems to me it was about what nuts and fruit you like, so this is what I used, but from what I can gather it really does not matter which nuts or which dried fruit.

2 cups of traditional rolled oats
3/4 cup of slivered almonds
3/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup of maple syrup (or you could use honey)
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or melted butter
1 cup of dried fruit - cranberries, crystalized ginger, blueberries, crystalized orange peel

Combine the rolled oats and nuts.

Combine syrup and oil in another bowl and then thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.  Spread the mixture out evenly on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hazelnut meringue with nutella cream

For Easter dinner I wanted to make a special dessert, and I had 4 egg yolks in my fridge left over from making custard, so a meringue dessert was in order.  I got the inspiration for this from the Donna Hay on line magazine, which I highly recommend.  The pictures are beautiful, and the lay out of the magazine is innovative, and works as a resource so much better than taking the printed version and converting the pages to screens. I changed the recipe a fair bit and my pictures are not nearly as beautiful, but it tasted great any way

4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 cup of ground hazelnuts
2 cups of whipping cream
2 heaped tablespoons of nutella

Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Then continue to whisk for 4 or 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Add the cornstarch and ground hazelnuts.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Roast carrots and parsnips

To go along with my wonderful baked ham for Easter dinner, I wanted to use in season vegetables as much as possible. This early in Spring in Vancouver we still have to be relying on the root vegetables of the winter and asparagus. So I made a warm asparagus and almond salad and roasted some carrots and parsnips.

I often roast vegetables, but this was the first time that I had done just these two together and they were a match made in heaven.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ham with brown sugar mustard glaze.

I was hosting Easter dinner for the family this year and when I asked my sons and husband what they wanted, they all agreed, baked ham.  So I drove out to Hopcott's to pick up one of their hams and came home with a much larger ham than I had intended.  But after feasting on left over ham all week I do not regret it all.  Any way it was a beautiful ham and made a wonderful center piece to the Easter dinner table.

I cooked it simply, as I had every faith as it was from Hopcott's it would be a very good ham.  All at the dinner table said it was a great ham, was that because it was just a good ham or did the cooking method have something to do with it?  I guess I will never know, but any way this is how I cooked it.

one picnic ham (in this case it was boneless)
2 cups of apple juice
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of dijjon mustard

Place ham in large roasting pan slice off most of the fat and score in diamonds, just because it looks pretty no other reason.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Crusty bread in less than 2 hours

I love the no knead bread and make it occasionally, but I have to say remembering to start 12 hours before I want the bread is sometimes a challenge for me.  So I wanted to see if you could use the same cooking method using a regular dough and successfully get the wonderful crunchy crust.

And I am happy to say as you can see by the picture you can.  Any way this is how you can impress your family and friends with a crusty loaf of bread pretty much any time.

1 package of yeast (1 ounce)
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt.

Mix the yeast with the water and sugar to ensure and leave for about 10 minutes to make sure it is live.  A slight froth should appear on the surface of the water.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and pour in the yeast and water.

Mix with a fork until the dough comes together, if you need to add a little more water.  If the dough is too sticky then add a little more flour, there really is no way to stipulate exactly the right quantities with bread, it is not that important, it is just important to get the correct texture.  It should be a soft dough but not sticky.  Then knead for a few minutes and return to the cleaned out bowl.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring roast lamb with lemon and rosemary

Saturday was warm and sunny, warm enough to eat lunch on the deck, finally spring is here.  This made me crave rack of lamb for some reason.  Probably because the day before I had seen some really good looking Canadian lamb at the local grocery store.  Any way I went back and picked up a very meaty 6 bone rack of lamb for dinner.  I had been browsing around on the Donna Hay magazine that I had on my Ipad and saw this rack roasted on top of potatoes, I thought that sounded like a really good idea, and so I decided to give it a try.

Serves 2

4 small potatoes thinly sliced
Sprig of rosemary
1/2 lemon thinly sliced
Rack of lamb
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Line a roasting tin or high sided cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the potatoes on the  bottom making a bed big enough to place the lamb on. Place on top a couple of slices of lemon and sprinkle on some rosemary leaves.

Sprinkle on some salt and pepper then place the lamb (which you have already dusted with salt and pepper) on top with the bone side down.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mushroom stuffed pork tenderloin with roasted tomatoes

I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was mulling over what to cook for a dinner party, she wanted to cook fish, but she said the fish alone was going to cost over $40.00.  I said I entertain a lot and most of the time I make chicken or pork, one reason being that you can feed quite a few people very reasonably.  Actually I like chicken and pork as well though.

Any way we were have a couple of neighbours over for dinner and I went to an old standby pork tenderloin.  This is not only relatively cheap, but it is low fat, tasty and very versatile.  Since it is a long weekend and I have a little more time than usual, I decided to do something a little fancier than normal.
Which involves "butterflying" the tenderloin to make it much larger and flatter, therefore making it easier to stuff.  I took pictures, so I am hoping it makes sense.

First take the pork tenderloin and cut it length ways 1/3 down and do not cut all the way through, so that you can open it up making the meat already twice as wide with one side being twice the thickness of the other side.

Now turn over the tenderloin.

On the thicker side (that would be on the side closest to my camera, cut length ways again from the middle and again not all the way through so that you can open it up again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Roasted Vegetables lasagna

I was cooking a couple of items for a colleague at work for her husbands birthday.  She could probably have done this herself, but with me taking the main courses, she could throw together some salads and decorate and hit the party rested and relaxed.  The food theme was to be Italian, so I made a couple of dishes of pasta al forno ready to put in the oven 30 minutes before dinner I also made a vegetarian lasagna using roasted vegetables.

I am not a big lasagna or even pasta eater myself, but it is a favourite in my family.  Having said that I do like roasted vegetable lasagna better than the regular meat version, and so this is what I made as a vegetarian option for their dinner.

1 Asian eggplant sliced, you could use a regular one, but I prefer the mildness of the Asian type
1 zucchini sliced
3 large bell peppers or 8 small ones
1/2 fennel sliced
8 small tomatoes halved
About 1/4 cup of olive oil
Sprig of rosemary

1 cup of ricotta
3 cups of shredded mozzarella

Slice all the vegetables fairly thickly so they do not completely fall apart, and lay in a large roasting tin. Sprinkle with the rosemary salt and pepper toss and then drizzle with the olive oil.  Place in a 400 oven for about 1/2 an hour, stirring up half way through.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Corn bread

I bought some corn bread pans in the shape of ears of corn many years ago in New York, and though I do not use them too often I have to say corn bread made in these does look very pretty.

Since we were going to a Texas themed pot luck I thought that these would be appropriate to take along with my salad.  If you are not lucky enough to own corn shaped tins, regular muffin tins would work well.  Or you can use a cast iron frying which is what the original recipe suggests.

I got this recipe from one of my all time favourite cook books by Jon Hadamuscin "Special Occasions" and other than I usually do not cook it in a cast iron frying pan, I follow the recipe exactly! This quantity makes 1 10" cast iron frying pan or about a dozen muffins.

3/4 cup of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups of ground yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage
1 large egg beaten
1 cup of milk
3 tablespoons of melted bacon fat or butter
1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used white cheddar)

Pre heat the oven to to 425 generously grease either a 10 inch cast iron frying pan or corn pone pans or heavy duty muffin tins.