Tag Archives: cooking

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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verdict is: the sauce does NOT suck!

I hadn’t attempted to make spaghetti & meatball sauce using the patented family secret recipe in about 7 years.  It was one of those things that I attempted and failed miserably at each time, possibly out of contempt for the stuff as I saw it growing up.  A huge pot would be made at the weekends then part of it eaten as a meal and the rest put into the fridge to be used in various and sundry meals through the week.  We literally ate the stuff in one way, shape or form 4 nights out of a week.  Being the variety loving creature I am I just stopped eating it.  Instead I would eat my pasta with olive oil and garlic and a little romano cheese with a couple meatballs on the side and all of the vegies I could fit on my plate after that.  I boycotted the sauce.  After moving out I learned to make a wicked napolitano sauce & kickass greek meatballs (not to be eaten together) while my sister mastered the family sauce & the meatballs to go with it.  I never refused an offer to partake in her mastery when she lived 2 and a half blocks away from me.  Now she lives an hour and a half away and I had a hankering so I gave it another shot…and it didn’t suck.  It was actually quite good if a little less thick than I wanted it to be.  That being said, I didn’t exactly follow the family recipe to a T, either.  And I made bison meatballs.  And served it with zucchini.  But for all of my improvisations, it did not suck and I’m quite happy with that.

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Cornbread

Lazy Sundays at our house tend to lead to one of my favourite lazy Sunday breakfasts: grilled steak, fresh cornbread and pico di gallo. Today I’m making the cornbread and pico di gallo bits to take to a potluck we’re attending this evening, so it’s a good time to share lazy Sunday recipes as it’s an industrious Saturday and I’m not pre-occupied with spending as much time in my pyjamas, exerting as little energy as humanly possible.

I tend to like my cornbread more on the dense and crispy and yellow side than on the light and fluffy side as it holds up better to the various abuses I will inflict upon it in the interest of making it OTT yummy. This, however, is counter-intuitive to the cornmeal’s efforts toward self-actualisation; it’s very much its own leavening agent so sometimes I add a little extra butter to keep that cornmeal down. Though the verdict’s out on whether proper cornbread should be sweetened or purely savoury, I’m in favour of adding sugar to mine for the same reason I like it dense and crispy – it holds up better to whatever I put with and in it. Here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. In another mix the wet ones. Stir the wet ones into the dry ones until they’re all coated in each other. Toss the lot in a greased 8×8 baking dish. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Easy peasy.

Variations

This is the fun part of cornbread. To today’s batch I added 1 and a half cups of grated old cheddar cheese and about 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped chipotles to the bread. Other yummy additions could be dill and lemon peel, chopped jalepenos, onions, red or green peppers…the list goes on. This stuff’s great because it’s so easily adapted to whatever you’re serving with it. It can quickly become a one-dish, vegetarian meal by thinning the batter over a larger surface and topping it with seasoned tofu, beans and oven-worthy vegies like mushrooms, peppers, zucchinis, etc…Or one could simply add taco seasoning, if one believed in that sort of thing.

mmmMMMmmmm…cornbread:
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Alright, I promise that my next post will be more atkins-friendly.

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Jambalaya

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Jambalaya has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Never having lived in Africa or Louisianna, my first experience with it was in a Toronto Cajun-style restaurant as a side dish. I later got to enjoy another, Canadianized version of it in its ‘red’ form, then watched Emeril Lagasse make it on TV. A local Cajun inspired restaurant serves the brown type as a side which is distinctly different than the version I tried at an international potluck…and so on and so forth.

Though I’ve never had it in either of its ‘true’ forms, I’ve always felt that I had a good feel for what jambalaya is all about and how to make it better than the specimens I’d been exposed to. So, as is wont to happen, I made several attempts at creating this mysterious dish, going by nose, until I made it what I want it to be. Luckily a friend’s father (who ended up in Canadia as a draft dodger from the deep south) happily assisted me in fine-tuning (not to be confused with ‘authenticating’) my bastardised version while cursing my name as an appropriatrix of his culture all the way.

Here is the recipe in its current manifestation. Don’t be intimidated by all of the writing, it actually goes together in about an hour but I tend to reserve it for lazy sundays or those evenings when I feel like parking myself in the kitchen with a book:

Ingredients:
1tsp. cumin seeds.
1tsp. coriander seeds.
2tbsp. olive oil.
1 large cooking onion.
1/2 bulb of crushed garlic, divided.
1lb. chorizo or andouille sausages (these are sometimes hard to come by in our small city so I often subsitute Italian sausages for them)
1/2 lb. mushrooms of your choice (I don’t recommend anything too fancy dancy as they’ll need to withstand some abuse of flavour.)
2 pints beer of your choice (lots of things will work in this instance but fruitier stuff is probably not a good match.)
3-4 chipotles.
1lb. uncooked shrimp of your choice.
2 cans of diced tomatoes.
2 roughly chopped red bell peppers.
1tbsp. Thyme leaves.
2tsp. Oregano leaves.

Instructions:
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes then toss in the crushed cumin and coriander. Continue to heat until your kitchen reeks of warmed spices. I gauge this by the day I was heating said spices and my brother-in-law came to the kitchen door but would not come in because of the stink…if your spices are smelly enough to drive family away that’s the time to add the olive oil.

2. Add the olive oil and about two seconds later add the onions and half of the garlic. Saute until translucent.

3. Add the sausage.

4. Pay attention. The next steps are not for the faint of heart. 2 pints of beer is sacrificed to the mighty jambalaya gods to bring good ju-ju to this dish. At this point you’ll need to cook the sausages over high heat until you get that brown stuff which sticks to the bottom of the pot. Keep it up high and add beer as needed to lift the brown stuff from the bottom of the pot – not too much at once, though. You want this to reduce to almost no liquid between beer additions. Continue heating and reducing and adding beer until the beer is gone.

5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the mushrooms and chipotles. Simmer about 5 minutes

6. Add the diced tomatoes.

7. Let simmer for at least 20 mins over med-high heat (or as long as you desire over a lower heat, adding water or more beer as your little heart desires – I’ve been known to let this brew over a lower heat and a few days; turning the heat off during sleepy times and starting it back up again in the morning – this leads to a distinctly different-tasting dish.)

8. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil Add herbs, peeled shrimps and the rest of the crushed garlic and allow to boil for 10 minutes.

I like to serve my jambalaya in a bowl over brown rice with a sprinkle of chopped, fresh cilantro. My jambalaya is one of the yummiest things I eat.

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