Category Archives: Recipes

I’ve been a busy bunny, but the carb-reduced diet is shot to shit

The mister and I have rather slovenly spent the entire day in our PJs making shit.

He made this:

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Yummy coffee cake. I’ve not tried it yet (well, I had a wee bit of the stuff that stuck to the sides of the pan), but it looks and smells incredible.

I’ve been working on this:

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That’s a big puddle ‘o quilt I’m working on for a wee button due to shuffle onto this spinning rock sometime next month. I kind of love quilting. My way of quilting anyway. The way a colour story comes together and can be screwed with is my kind of fun.

In between quilty things, I made challah, using this recipe.

A few words about the recipe:

  1. I often cook breads on the top rack of the oven with a pan of water on the lower rack. This caused the cook time to be much longer than what is cited in the recipe.
  2. The recipe makes 4 x 1 pound loaves. I did a plaited loaf + gynormous rolls. This also upped the cook time considerably.
  3. I used silicon muffin ‘tins’ for the rolls & a cooking stone for the loaf. If you do not have these things, go get some now. They will revolutionize the way you bake.

This stuff is easy peasy, lemon squeezy. No kneading required, just a little time to let it rise a couple of times. Soooo delicious. 2 of the humongous rolls from the batch disappeared within about 30 seconds. So good:

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I also did a proper braid:

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Well, maybe not proper. There are only 3 strands in the plait as opposed to the usual 6ish. Next time I’ll do a 6-strand plait.

So yeah, in the end: totally gratifying recipe.

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chicken soup

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I’m normally an anti-bouillon, build it from scratch, chicken soup girl.  I really hate the either too salty or no flavour qualities bouillon brings to the table so hardly a carcass, asparagus end, mushroom stem or handful of wilted parsley crosses my path without being tossed in a bag and frozen for future use in homemade soup stock.  One day I will get around to documenting my process for creating homemade soup stock but today is not that day.  Last night, out of a lack of time & energy & the need to provide the eldest sprog with the nasty bottom sustenance in somewhat liquid form, I caved and made a not-from-scratch chicken soup.  It gave me an opportunity to get rid of some rice leftovers and to test drive a product I’ve only recently discovered.  It was the quickest, easiest chicken soup I’ve ever made & it was pretty damned good so I’ll share that recipe with you instead.

What you need:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

A good pinch of black pepper

1 large cooking onion

2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled

4 cloves of garlic

6 bay leaves

6 cloves*

A healthy pinch of ground nutmeg

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs**

2 (UK) quarts of water (10 cups)

2 cups of pre-cooked rice

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon(tm)***

3 cups of vegetables of your choice (I used a frozen mix of carrots, broccoli & cauliflower)

6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried

I started with heating the olive oil in my large stock pot over medium-high heat and because I was concerned with getting the oniony/garlicky flavours into the soup quickly I puréed them together before adding them to the pot.  I should have added the ginger to that mess as I neglected to tell my family that there were large chunks of it they may not want to consume and I think everyone but me got one.  Good times.  So, then I added the onions, garlic, ginger, cloves, nutmeg & bay leaves to the pot and cooked until everything was a lovely, translucent slop.  I then added the thighs and cooked those until lightly browned.  At this point they were easy to pull apart into bite-sized pieces in the pot with a couple of wooden spoons so I did that.  Then in went the water, the bouillon-esque stuff and the rice.  I brought all of that to a boil then added the frozen vegetables & thyme sprigs & let the lot of it simmer until the vegetables were tender.

*The French word for cloves is clous which translates back to english as nails.  I don’t know why I like that so much but it always makes me think of making orange/clove pomanders as a kid at Christmas time.
**Why thighs?  The slightly higher fat content lends itself to better flavour distribution as well as holding its own against other flavours & being easy to pull apart once cooked.
**This stuff is like magic.  The instructions on the jar called for 1 and 1/2 tablespoon per quart of water used but I got away with 1 and 1/2 for the entire batch of soup.  It wasn’t too salty (the stuff is worth about 39% of your daily sodium intake recommendations per 6 gram serving which, compared to others with 45% for 3.5 grams is pretty decent) and my chicken soup tasted chickeny and not bouillony.

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experimentalicious

tikkanaan

That’s last night’s pantry-busting-inspired experiment.

I took some pre-made naan from the freezer, sauced it up with a 1:1 mix of tikka sauce and sour cream (yoghurt could be substituted), added some roasted snow peas, spinach, peppers and broccoli, then some bits of cooked chicken – all topped off with grated marble cheese.  Tossed them on the pizza stones in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes and out they came all gooey and golden and pizza-esque.

Next time I’ll use goat cheese but otherwise wouldn’t change a thing.

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squishy experiment

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So tonight it was experimental squash canelloni for supper.  This baby’s not going to win any beauty contests any time soon.  I was going to cook a nice, innocuous tenderloin but forgot to take it out of the freezer so here we are. Plus, there were squash guts leftover from the lovely soup the mister the other night so this is all in the name of using what I’ve got.   I was determined to use only things we had on hand for this dish. I almost did it but had to run across to the convenience store across the street and buy a can of tomatoes.  It was very tasty but the texture was lacking…something.  Everything was just too the same.  I know that’s par for the canelloni course and maybe it’s my palette which is picky but I have a few thoughts on making a new, improved version.  Beyond that I was really happy with the milk sauce I chose to go with it.  It has been ages since I’ve had a milk pasta dish and this one really served its purpose in balancing flavours; it wasn’t so hearty that it overpowered the squash and wasn’t so meek that it needed a lot of help holding itself up.

Here’s the skinny on the filling:

2 cups of mashed, cooked squash

3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 red onion, minced

1/4 cup pesto

Mix everything together and stuff into canelloni noodles laying out them in one layer across the bottom of an 11×13 casserole dish as you go.  I used oven-ready in the interest of time and because I hate working with the cooked ones.  This recipe uses about one box.

The sauce:

2 cups tomato sauce of your choice

2 cups of milk

1/4 cup pesto

Mix all of that together then use it to completely cover the stuffed canellonis in the casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then top with slices of provolone, mozzarella or havarti and cook for another 30 minutes or until the noodles are tender.

So I would totally make this again but, instead of making a squishy squash filling I would transfer a lot of the flavour elements, like the feta and more pesto, to the sauce and use uncooked squash spears inside the noodles.  This would eleminate a lot of the mess involved in stuffing them and help give the dish a little more textural backbone.

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roasted capon with perfect fall stuffing

We have a lovely organic poultry vendor at our local farmer’s market from whom I (and the rest) get tremendously good deals on his capons (2 for $40 – can’t beat that) so I’ve usually got a couple in the freezer at any given time.  I was feeling like we needed a toasty, warm, autumnal meal this weekend so here’s what I made:

I tend to prefer dryer bread for stuffing than the fresh sesame bread I ended up using just because it keeps it from getting soggy.  To it I added 2 diced macintosh apples, which are about two weeks out of season here and are getting a little softer as a result.  This makes them perfect for cooking in this manner and add a little moisture to the stuffing.  I also tossed in some chopped proscuitto, ground sage (can’t WAIT until the stuff my Megan provided is ready for rubbing), ground nutmeg,  oregano and lemon juice.  Capons don’t need a lot of help in the flavour, fat or moisture department so I wanted a lot of that to come infused through the stuffing, rather than treating the meat itself but I did pour the better parts of the remnants of a bottle of white zinfandel from last night’s wine night (donated by a well-meaning guest rather tragically to a group of red snobs) into the pan to help it out a little.  The results were great.  The proscuitto gave it a low smokey flavour, the sage came through in a subtle tone, that apples lent their juices to getting everyone to make friends and the lemon juice and wine perked things up nicely.  We ate our chicken and stuffing with mashed potatoes and yams, fresh green beans, & beats in horseradish butter.  It was lovely.

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snow

Yesterday was our first snow up and over here in the borough.  It snowed big white, wet snow fluff from about 10 in the morning until 6 at night.  It snowed enough that it collected on the ground in spite of the plus zero temperatures but was mostly melted by morning.  Living on the main drag I’ve seen cars coming through with a good 2-3 inch covering of the white stuff still on them today.

Although there are many things I love about winter I don’t feel prepared or equipped with the skills to deal with it and all that it implies just yet.  I still have lavendar to harvest, a rosemary plant to pot up and winter coats to buy for the kids.  I have zippers to replace and orders to fill and the early onset (17 days earlier than last year) makes me feel more frantically behind than I did the day before it snowed.

The dog hated it too.  I’m sure if his first introduction to snow was a lighter, shiner, less wet and blustery one he would have been ok.  I tried to take him to the park and let him off the leash so he could tear around the basketball pad as he loves to do but he just stood there and looked at me scornfully.

Yesterday was miserable so I treated myself to this:

A variation on this dish, sans polenta.  The kids protest when I make them eat placenta polenta.  The mushroom guy at the market had loads of oyster mushrooms last weekend and proclaimed his undying love for me when I bought two lots of them as well as my usual stock of creminis.  I cheated and nuked the arborio rice rather than making it a true risotto in the name of timing and not burning the rice.  I even let us eat in the living room, curled up under blankets, watching the first episode of True Blood (the kids fast forwarded through all the sex scenes I’d forgotten were in it) me with my glass of wine.  It was lovely.

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black bean & tomato soup

This is probably the easiest meal we put together in our kitchen on a fairly regular basis.  Its roots are found in the CPHA‘s publication, The Basic Shelf Cookbook, which is something I feel every household should have a copy of.  I don’t actually own the book right now (and before you call me a hypocrite you should know that I’ve owned the book and given it away at least 7 times.)  The contents are brilliant on a fundamental level: simple meals comprised largely of ingredients with long shelf lives which focus on maintaining nutritional integrity.  It can be ordered here for CDN $7.50.

My recipe differs from the original by a couple of steps and ingredients but still maintains the inherent simplicity while stepping up the flavour quotient a couple of notches.  Oh, and it’s entirely vegan if you omit the cheese or replace it with a soy based cheese.

What you need:

1tbsp olive oil

1 tsp. coriander, ground

1 tsp. cumin, ground

1 medium sized cooking onion, finely chopped (vidalias and reds are my favourites for this soup)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 cans of diced tomatoes (or jars if you do your own)

1 can of black beans (or soak the dried kind if you want to)

1 can of sweet or baby corn (or use leftovers if you’ve got ’em)

2 cups of vegetable broth (or dissolve 2 cubes/packets of bouillon-esque stuff in your 2 cups of boiling water)

1 tbsp dried or 1/4 cup fresh oregano

1 tbsp dried or 1/4 cup fresh basil

A pretty, fresh herb and some cheese for garnish (I’ve got cilantro and cheddar in the pic above but parsley &/or basil are great alternatives to the cilantro if you don’t have any on hand.

Toast the spices in a large pot over medium-high heat until fragrant.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, sweat the onions and garlic in it for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, corn, beans & stock.  Up the heat again to medium-high and keep it there, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a low boil.  Stir in the herbs.  Move to large bowls and garnish.

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