Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rosemary, lemon, garlic barbecued chicken

It is only the end of March, but we are enjoying summer like weather and it is a 4 day weekend, it does not get much better than that.  Friends had just arrived home from a trip to Rome and we invited them over for kind of Italian meal on the deck.

I had some chicken legs in my freezer from Hopcott's and as it was such a beautiful day, I decided to break out the barbecue for the first time in 2013.  This I am afraid required quite a bit of cleaning as there had been critters under that cover!

Feeds 6

6 chicken legs cut in half
1 lemon cut in half
4 cloves of garlic sliced very thinly
2 sprigs of Rosemary with the leaves pulled off
4 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

Place the chicken in a container to marinate and squeeze the juice out of one half of the lemon and cut the remaining half in to small pieces.  Add the lemon juice, lemon pieces and the remaining ingredients and marinate the chicken.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lime and blueberry pavlova

I am not a big dessert person and I rarely make one unless I am entertaining and sometimes not even then.  But I had some lime curd left over from making the coconut lime cake last week and it seemed a pity to see it go to waste.  Cooking for an appreciative audience is always a pleasure and I knew if I made a meringue based dessert I would have an appreciative audience in Nancy who loves meringues and pavlovas.

And so a dessert is born
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Lime or lemon curd, you could buy this if you did not want to make it.
1 small carton of whipping cream whipped
Preheat oven to 250. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, when it has all been added beat for 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy. 

You could just dollop this on to a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, or, as I did pipe it into two equally sized oblongs. I had marked out shapes on the paper and then turned it over.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Coconut lime cake

There are some flavours that seem to just be perfect companions for each other, such as tomatoes and basil and lamb and mint, and in my opinion coconut and lime.  So when I saw this recipe for pina colada cake at I decided to swap out the pineapple filling for a lime curd.

Apart from the filling and the frosting I stuck exactly to the recipe after all it was a winner at the Ohio State Fair. Though I did not have any coconut extract, so had to leave it out, but actually it had a strong coconut flavour any way.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
5 egg whites (keep the yolks for the filling)

Mix flour, baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with a mixer for 1 minute. Add sugar and beat for another minute. Add coconut milk and coconut extract to butter mixture. Gradually add flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat for 2 minutes.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the batter and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and divide batter evenly between them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mushroom Lasagna

We hosted my husbands family for a games afternoon on Sunday.  He is one of 5 siblings and they all enjoy playing games and each others company, so we try to bring the family together a few times a year to do this.  I decided to cook lasagna as it is easy to cook for a crowd and who doesn't love lasagna.  My Sister in law however is vegetarian and so I try to make some main course that she can eat, and decided to make a vegetarian lasagna.

It turned out to be a good job as my nieces husband had also given up eating meat for lent!

This made enough for 4 if that was all you were having

1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 cups of mushrooms chopped
2 cups of white sauce (see below
lasagna noodles (preferably the oven ready ones)
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese.

White sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan

Put the butter in a large microwavable bowl and microwave for one minute.
Add the flour stir and microwave for one minute
Add the milk and using a whisk mix together microwave for 2 minutes
Whisk again and microwave for a further 2 minutes.
The sauce should now be thickened, but if not whisk again and microwave for a further minute.
When the sauce is the required consistency add the Parmesan cheese and mix well.

Add the olive oil, onion and garlic in to a large pot and cook until the onion is translucent.

Then add the chopped mushrooms.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

spinach and potato soup

On the weekends I like to make soup, sometimes a large batch to last a few meals during the week, and sometimes just to use up some ingredients languishing in the fridge.  This weekend I had a container of baby spinach sitting in my fridge, which the plans I had had for it did not come to fruition.  So spinach soup it would be.

This made enough for 3 for lunch.

1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 bag of baby spinach
3 cups of chicken stock
3 small potatoes chopped into about 11/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup of milk
a couple of gratings of fresh nutmeg.

Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the spinach.

Stir in, this will soon collapse down to almost nothing.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roast pork tenderloin with roast vegetables

I really like pork tenderloin, it is pork and I love pork, but it also low fat and tender, and therefore fits in with my healthy eating plan right now.  I picked up a couple of pork tenderloin's from Hopcott's and though there was only two of us for dinner, I decided to cook them both, so that I had left overs for dinner or lunch during the week.

This is a one dish meal (less washing up) and with an addition of a green salad is healthy and very tasty. I used potatoes, carrots and fennel, because that is what I had in the fridge, but winter squash, eggplant or red peppers would have been great too.

Enough for 4

2 pork tenderloins
grated zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of chili powder
4 medium potatoes
4 large carrots
1 bulb of fennel
1 sprig of rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Toss the vegetables with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil  and rosemary and place in a roasting tin.

Put this in a pre heated 400 oven for about 15 minutes.  While this is cooking prepare the pork tenderloin, by rolling it in the spices and lemon zest.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sour cream chicken

I am always on the look out for quick and easy (and low fat) dishes to make for dinner.  I saw on Pinterest a recipe for cooking chicken breasts with sour cream on top, which seemed like a good idea, but they had added a packet of ranch salad dressing powder.  I do not like to cook with packages of anything, as then I am not sure how much salt and chemicals I am getting and any way often I do not like the taste.  So I took the idea and changed it up a little.

Feeds two

1 clove of garlic crushed or grated
1/2 cup of grated parmasan cheese
4 tablespoons of low fat sour cream (not no fat)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Place the chicken breasts in a small baking dish.

Combine the sour cream garlic and most of the cheese and spread over the chicken.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ecuadorian ceviche

Ceviche was everywhere in Ecuador sometimes fish, sometimes shrimp and sometimes vegetarian.  It was not quite like ceviche that I had had before, as the marinade had tomato in it and the prawns did appear to be cooked.  On doing research on my return I found out that after a large cholera outbreak in the 1990's it became a policy to cook the shrimp lightly first, so this is what I did.

3 cups of raw shrimp
1 red onion thinly sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Juice of one orange
6 tomatoes chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

Chop until pureed, then place a sieve over a bowl and push as much of the liquid through as you can.

This will give you about 1 cup of tomato liquid, but it really does depend on the tomatoes.

Add all the other ingredients except the shrimp.

Now for my least favourite job (right after peeling pearl onions) peel and devein the shrimps.

Toss in a non stick frying pan until just turned pink, you really want to barely cook them.

Add to the sauce and taste for seasoning.  

Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to soak up the flavours and let the acid from the citrus finish cooking them.  

These were delicious and would make a wonderful addition to a buffet in the summer, though I would have to have Connie over to do the peeling and deveining.  I am sure for a price you can buy them that way.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ecuadorian chocolate brownies

When we were in Ecuador we visited a chocolate factory and we brought home a large puck of unsweetened chocolate so for our Ecuadorian reunion I had to use this to make dessert.  One because we had bought it in Ecuador, but two because it was a lot of chocolate and would make dessert for a large crowd.

Luckily this came with a recipe on the package, or it would not have known how to use it.

The quantaties were large and the directions a little cryptic, but I think this could be used by halving the amounts and using unsweetened chocolate to replace the large puck which comes in a more conventianal bar.

I melted the butter and chocolate over a very low heat, my stove has a melt setting on one of the burners, and I got to use it for the very first time.

While this was melting I whisked together the eggs and added the vanilla.  I also added one tablespoon of chili powder.  In this quantaty of chocolate this did not make them hot but just added a little depth of flavour.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lower fat shepherds pie

I have called this lower fat, because I think anything cooked with ground beef can't really be called low fat.  I got this idea from a friend at work.  She and I and a couple of others have formed a "support group" to check in with once a week to help us with our weight loss journey. I think the thing we all have in common, is that this is a lifetime journey for all of us, and we enjoy food and do not like to feel deprived.  She described this recipe that she had seen on, though she sent me this link I am afraid I had already gone ahead and made it based on her description.

I love shepherds pie and this sounded like a good way to make it a little healthier.

1 lb of lean ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
4 carrots chopped
2 cups of chopped green beans or peas
2 cups of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
A good dash of worcestershire sauce
3 large Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons of low fat sour cream
2 tablespoons of milk
A little Parmesan cheese for the top

Add the first 3 ingredients into a large pot and stir until the ground beef is cooked.  I find that there is enough fat even in lean ground beef that you do not need to add any.

Now add the chopped mushrooms.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Locro de Papa and aji criollo

Almost every meal in Ecuador starts with sopa (soup) and it is often some version of locro de papa, (potato soup).  This soup is not dissimilar to the french leek and potato soup, but with the addition of cheese and avocado. Saturday night we were having a reunion party with some of the participants of our epic to adventure to Ecuador last fall, and I offered to cook an Ecuadorian dinner. Obviously it had to start with this soup

It is simple and easy to make, but does require a good chicken stock. Fortunately in the process of making one of the other dishes I had a large amount of very flavourful chicken stock.  I suspect like all traditional ubiquitous dishes there are as many recipes as there are families making it, so I combined several making it the way that I liked it best. I made enough for 20, but it would be very easy to cut down the quantities to a make more reasonable amount of soup, so I will give the measurements for  6 servings.

1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 pounds of yellow potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
5 cups of chicken stock
1 avocado sliced
Crumbled queso fresco cheese, or a mild feta would work as well.

Place the oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic, cook slowly over low heat until the onions are translucent. Then add one cup of the stock.

Pour this into a blender or food processor.  Blend until the onion is pureed and add back to the pot.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chicken braised with tomatillo

It was Saturday evening, mid winter and nothing much on except cooking dinner for some good neighbours who were busy renovating their house.  They had spent the day preparing and painting their living and dining room and needed a good meal and a glass of wine as a reward.  I was feeling like Mexican flavours and I had seen some fresh looking tomatillo's at the local IGA, and so this dish was born.

This fed four with no left overs :(

4 whole chicken legs cut in half
1 small onion chopped
1 clove of garlic sliced
1 tablespoon of cumin
 About two cups of chopped tomatillos

Brown the chicken legs in a large skillet, Place them skin side down so that they will render their own fat to cook in and there is no need to add any olive oil.  When they are just browned remove from the skillet and add the onion, garlic and tomatillos