Saturday, December 28, 2013

Light dinner of sable fish with green olive sauce

It was the day after boxing day and We were turkeyed out.  Boxing day I had turkey eaten straight from the fridge dipped in cranberry sauce, lunch I had turkey sandwich with all the trimmings and Dinner was heated up turkey and gravy served with fried up left over mashed potatoes and vegetables.  Don't get me wrong I love turkey but I was craving something different and lighter. So I went for a walk down to the local fish store to see what looked good, and I found sable fish (black cod)

That is all I bought as I wanted to use up what I had in the fridge.  What I had in the fridge was green olives, green onion, basil and 1/4 bottle of white wine so I used this to make a light sauce to go with the fish.

Serves two

2 pieces of sable fish or any firm white fish such as halibut.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 green onions
1/4 cup of green olives pitted and chopped
1/4 cup of white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 large basil leaves shredded

lightly salt and pepper the fish.

Heat the olive oil up in a small frying pan and pan fry the fish.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home made olive oil crackers

This is something that I have wanted to make for a while. I love the artisan crackers that seem to be everywhere these days, but they are very expensive and really it is just flour and olive oil so how hard could they be?  Anyway I had a Christmas party for work colleagues so I decided to give them a try, and indeed they are not difficult at all. I found the recipe on

3 cups of all-purpose flour (or half semolina flour half regular)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
toppings you like – sesame seeds, caraway seeds, rosemary, coarse sea salt

Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the water and olive oil and mix together

before kneading 
Knead on a floured counter-top or in a mixer for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with.

After kneading

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Turkey and cranberry balls

Tis the season of potlucks and appetizers and it always a struggle to find something vaguely healthy and tasty that can be made ahead and please a crowd.  To add to all the Christmas cheer we were also having a potluck lunch for a baby shower at work. Often these potlucks are heavy on the starch and desserts, so I thought some lean protein would be a good idea, and this close to Christmas what could be more appropriate than turkey and cranberries.

This made enough for about 35 walnut sized meatballs

2lbs of ground turkey
1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1 large garlic clove
1 onion
1 cup of frozen cranberries
1 sprig of fresh sage or parsley

Place the turkey and breadcrumbs in a large bowl.

Place the remaining ingredients in to a food processor.  I added the cranberries after the onion and garlic had been fairly finely chopped up as I did not want to turn them into mush.  Add this mixture to the turkey and breadcrumbs.

It looks like Christmas already

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Easy mediteranean Pork chops

Saturday night I was looking for something easy to make and since we have such cold weather right now, I wanted a dish that would cook long and slow in the oven.  I used the oven because I was at home, but in fact this would have been good in the slow cooker too.  I did not get inspiration from anything but what I found in my fridge and freezer, as I did not want to go shopping.  What I had was 4 pork chops, a can of crushed tomatoes from the summer, and some olives, so for a very cold mid winter evening I came up with a dish with a taste of summer.

This made enough for 4 or 2 for dinner and 2 lunches to pack to work!

4 pork chops
1 quart of home canned tomatoes or Italian jar of tomato puree
1 large garlic clove sliced
8 pitted olives cut in half
the zest of one lemon taken off with a potato peeler

Place the pork chops in a casserole and top with the remaining ingredients and a little salt and pepper.

Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in a 350 oven for 2 hours, during which time you can busy yourself with quilting, and preparing for Christmas.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

egg biryani

To go with the indian spiced marinated roasted chicken I wanted to make a biryani which is an Indian rice dish.  Rice has never been a favourite of mine, but cooking it this way gives it some flavour and can actually be a main dish not just a side dish. I used several different recipes as an inspiration for this.

This made enough to feed 12 as a side dish or 6 as a one dish meal.

1 onion sliced and browned in oil until crisp
1 tablespoon of oil or ghee
1 bay leaf
5 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom
1 broken stick of cinnamon
1 large onion chopped
2 garlic cloves grated
1" fresh ginger grated
4 medium tomatoes or equivalent cherry tomatoes chopped
1 jalapeno chili chopped
small handful of fresh mint chopped
small handful of fresh cilantro chopped
6 eggs hard boiled
1/4 cup of roasted cashew nuts
2 cups of almost cooked rice

Fry the whole spices in the oil along with the chopped onion and garlic.  When the onion is soft and just turning golden, add the tomatoes and cook down a little, then add the grated ginger and jalapeno peppers.

Stir in and cook a little longer, then add the min and cilantro

Add the hard boiled eggs sliced in half and cashew nuts stir in.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Indian spiced marinated roasted chicken

I was having some long time friends over for dinner on Saturday.  It was a good job that they were good friends as we were redoing our main floor bathroom. On Saturday morning, not only was the bathroom gutted and empty the entire main floor was covered in a thick layer of drywall dust and littered with plumbing supplies and tools.  Amazingly with a lot of help from friends and family by 6:00 the worst of the dust was gone as were all the plumbing supplies and we had a working bathroom!

This is a recipe that I have done many times, it is easy can be done ahead and is incredibly tasty.
I was cooking for 12, but I will give the ingredients for 6, but having a little left over chicken is never a bad thing. I used chicken thighs as they are my favourite part of the chicken, but you could use 6 breasts or even a whole chicken cut up.

1 cup of yogurt
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric
one clove of garlic grated or through a garlic press
1" of fresh ginger grated
1/2 teaspoon of salt
12 chicken thighs

Sunday, November 17, 2013

East side art Crawl and a taste of Russia

November in Vancouver is not my favourite month, the days are short, rainy and cold. The only thing that makes it bearable is that next month is December with all that brings. Another thing to look forward to in November is the East side culture crawl.  I go every year, for at least one day, and wander round the studios until I am too tired or satiated with all the art. This year instead of going to large studios one of which holds 128 artists we decided to wander around Strathcona and visit individual artists sometimes in their own homes.

After an hour of wandering aimlessly looking at art and buying jewellery, we stumbled across someone with food in a take out container that they said they got from the Ukrainian church basement. As this was only a block away we headed over for a perogie lunch.  The church basement looked just like a church basement should, institutional with bad lighting, hard stacking chairs and grey walls.

The food on the other hand was great. Made by the woman of the church with pride and my friend who had grown up in Winnipeg said that it was very authentic to the large Ukrainian population on the prairies.  We got two lunches to share between the three of us $13.00 each plate.  A vegetarian lunch perogies, cabbage rolls, coleslaw and borscht.

vegetarian borscht

We also had the non vegetarian lunch, perogies, cabbage rolls, coleslaw and Ukrainian sausage.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chicken Tortilla soup

I am always inspired to try cooking dishes of the country that I have just visited, and so at the moment I am exploring the cooking of Mexico.  I did not have this dish in Mexico, but I have had it before and a love the clean bright flavours.  I found this recipe at Melissaguerra Latin kitchen Market. Though of course I have changed it a little.

4 dried  chilies
4 tomatoes or equivalent small ones
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
8 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice of 4 limes

In a small saucepan, boil chilies until they are softened.

When soft and cool, remove stem, seeds, and veins. Place chilies in a blender/food processor container, along with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and about 1 cup of chicken broth (enough to facilitate blending). Puree well.

Puree well.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fishing in the Sea of Cortez

One day while staying in Mexico we chartered a boat to go marlin fishing.  This was not necessarily my idea, as I really do not like fishing that much, but I am always happy to go out on a boat so I happily went along.  We started early before it got too hot, boarding our boat at about 7:30 in the morning.

It turned out the marlin fishing was a bit of a non event, but we spent a very pleasant couple of hours sitting on top of the boat enjoying the view and listening to the crews music selection.

 The crew on the other hand were busy putting out all the lines and watching to see if there were any bites.  But there were no marlin to be found, so they took in all those lines and dropped different bait to catch bottom fish.

This was far more successful and within minutes a line was pulled in with two fish on it.  Then another and then another.

Before long there was literally a bucket load of fish.

I am not sure what they all were, the crew said the red ones were scorpion fish which had poisonous spikes, they carefully cut these off.  Then one of the crew very quickly and efficiently filleted and cut up the fish on the back of the boat.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Barbecue in Mexico

I am lucky enough to have a friend, who has a friend who lives in a house on the beach in Mexico! This is not the Mexico of all inclusives and resort hotels, this is the Mexico of middle class Mexicans and "gringos" living the dream of endless summer. The town is  called San Carlos in the State of Senora on the Sea of Cortes.

We spent much of our time rolling between snorkeling, swimming and just sitting on the deck enjoying the view and the warm sunshine. On the first night that we arrived a Mexican family that had adopted our host arrived to cook a Mexican barbecue.  Senora is renowned for it's beef and and a traditional Senorian barbecue starts out very similar to a Canadian barbecue with steak.

They brought some beautiful rib eye and sirloin steaks that had been sprinkled with sea salt and left to rest in that for a while.  When the coals were burning and before any food was put on, they wiped the grill with a cut onion to clean and season it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

slow cooked pork with apples and garlic

Fall is here with full monsoon rains.  Gone are the long evenings eating on the deck, summer dresses and sandals, time for comfort food, sweaters and boots.  I am trying to embrace this change, though this year for some reason I am finding it harder than ever.  The only way is to cook some really good comforting food and buy some new warm weather clothes.

I made this last weekend up at Pender Harbour where it was pouring rain, and we had spent the afternoon in front of a roaring fire playing quidler and drinking a full bodied red wine. It was so simple and cooked away all afternoon filling the house with the most glorious smells. Bring on winter.

1 pork butt roast, this one was fairly small and fed 4 with some left over
3 apples peeled and chopped
1 onion chopped
1 whole head of garlic cut in half
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 1/2 cups of white wine.

Add all the ingredients except only add 1/2 cup of wine, with a little salt and pepper to a large cast iron pot.

Put on a tight fitting lid and place in a 300 oven.  You could also do the same thing but place in a slow cooker. Cook for at least 3 hours, but 4 or more is really better.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chicken cacciatora

I believe I got my love of food from my father, though he never really cooked, getting good food was always important.  Today he sends me recipes that he sees on the Internet that he thinks I will be interested in.  I take this as a request for me to cook it for him, and so being the dutiful daughter I made the chicken cacciatora recipe from The Guardian newspaper that he had emailed me recently. Though of course I changed it a little, I just can't help myself, I get that from my mother!

2 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks (skin removed if desired)
1/2 heads of garlic, cloves cut in half
1 small onion chopped
Small bunch of rosemary
1 carrot, peeled and diced
Half a glass of white wine
250ml decent chicken stock
1/2 quart home canned tomatoes or small can of chopped tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown on all sides.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Fry the garlic, onion, rosemary and carrot, with a little more oil if necessary, for a few minutes until slightly golden.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fresh corn chowder

Fall is here and we are just coming to the end of the all the wonderful local crops such as corn and tomatoes, so now is the time to make the most of them.  I can only eat so many boiled buttered ears of corn, never mind how good they are, I can not say the same for husband however, who could eat fresh buttered corn for dinner every night and I mean just corn!

After the Terry Fox run a couple of weeks ago, there were 6 for lunch, so I used the 5 ears of corn that I had left over from the previous night to make soup.

I am sure you can buy some special gadget for stripping corn, but I do not have such a thing so I had to do it with a knife.  This works fine but does make quite a mess.

Soup for six

4 slices of back bacon (regular bacon would do, but I am trying to cut out fat)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion chopped
5 ears of corn stripped
5 small yellow potatoes chopped into about 2" chunks
6 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage
1 cup of milk

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Grilled rack of lamb and duck fried potatoes

I have been absent from the blog for a few of weeks, as summer, catering and weekends out of town got in the way.  But the summer is over :( the catering is all done and time to settle back down in to my routines.  This meal is one that I cooked up at Pender Harbour earlier in the summer and was enjoyed by my good friend and I as we spent a couple of days capturing a little peace and quiet.

If the sun is not shining and you do not want to use the barbecue, these would be just as good cooked under the broiler.

1 rack of lamb
2 tablespoons of grainy mustard
Sprig of fresh rosemary stripped from the stalk
Salt and pepper

Cut the lamb rack into cutlets and then coat in the mustard salt and pepper.  then press the rosemary into the meat.  

I left this to mellow while we went for a walk. then heated up the barbecue. These cook quickly as lamb chops are really best when pink in the middle.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 spice duck breast

I had promised my Father when were in Naramata earlier this summer that I would cook one of his favourite things, duck breast, when we returned home.  So last week we went down to Granville Island and picked up two magret duck breasts.  We chose these as they were far more substantial than the regular breasts.  As it turned out it was a good job that we did as we had an unexpected guest for dinner and there was plenty of meat for three.  I love asian style duck and so decided to use some chinese 5 spice to flavour the duck.

2 duck breasts
2 tablespoons of 5 spice
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of white wine

Score the skin in diamond shapes (being careful to cut through the fat but not the meat) this helps the fat to render out. Rub the 5 spice and salt all over the breasts.

Place them skin side down in a heated frying pan and cook on medium high to high until most of the fat has melted and rendered out of the skin.  I poured about a cup of delicious duck fat in to a container to use at a later date to cook some potatoes in.

When the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered off pour as much fat off as you can and turn the breasts over.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Moroccan cous cous salad

This is a go to salad for me, when cooking for a crowd. It ticks all the boxes, it is quick and easy to make, keeps well without refrigeration and tastes good. Also it is something that can be made with items that are probably in your pantry right now. Nancy found a recipe for this a few years ago, neither of us can remember where, and it has definitely morphed over the years.

Cous cous is actually a very small pasta, though it looks like a grain. I made this the other evening when we were enjoying yet another beautiful warm evening and wanted to throw dinner together quickly with out shopping.

Feeds 6

1 cup of cous cous
2 cups of boiling water or hot chicken stock
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 small can of garbanzo beans or half a large
1 bunch of green onion chopped
1/3 cup of chopped dates (or raisins)
1/3 cup of roasted almonds slivered or chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Put the cous cous  and cardamom into a bowl and add the boiling water and 1 teaspoon of salt or stock.

Cover with a plate or saran wrap and leave for at least 5 minutes.  The cous cous will absorb the liquid and should be dry enough to seperate when picked up with a fork.

While the cous cous is absorbing the liquid prepare all the other ingredients.