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Category Archives: Food

Lemonade from lemons, Bouillabaisse from the open freezer door?

I admit it… I once again left the upright freezer door open. I know, I need to slow down and make sure I shut it without anything hanging off the door to prevent its sealing… I have done it before…and not just once before…  For me this is like blasphemy. Losing food because of bad actions.  One year I had freezer issues 3 times.  First our little 20 year old 2 cubic chest freezer threw in the towel… actually she threw in the motor… and I didn’t open the freezer for probably a week.  By then, I had wine.  I used that particular freezer for fruit and veg. Don’s dad found me crying in the freezer room because we had spent so much time freezer everything and now it was all gone!  I replaced the little one with an upright that has an alarm on it… but that only works if you actually hear the alarm.  At least the next time, I didn’t lose the whole freezer.  Then I left the meat freezer open. It doesn’t have an alarm.  I lost about 1/3 of the meat that time.   Now I don’t cry… I usually just swear and get really mad and stomp around. And vow to not be so careless.

Fast forward to yesterday and the meat freezer had been open overnight.  I have gotten a little smarter, I put things that aren’t as affected by warmth in the areas of the freezer that lose coldness first when the door gets left opened.  Might as well play to my weakness.  Tonite’s dinner was determined then.  My parents are coming over for an Easter meal so now we are having pork blade… it was one of the items that thawed. Actually half of it did.

We were going out last night to friends place for dinner so instead of making this last night, I made the best of the lemons I got handed and today’s lemonade was Bouillabaisse with scallops and shrimps.

Awhile back at the hairdressers I read a magazine that had what sounded like a fabulous recipe for the seafood soup.  I googled it when I got home, made some adjustments and now have a fantastic recipe for Bouillabaisse.  Here is the recipe from the magazine:

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 900 ml container of chicken broth
  • 236-mL bottle clam juice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 Spanish or red onion
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 small orange grated rind.
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme leaves and salt
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads,
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb sea or bay scallops
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen large uncooked tiger shrimp
  • 1 cooked lobster

The adjustments that I made are:  I used crab stock because I had some frozen.  I replaced the clam juice and chicken broth with the crab stock.  I used 4 frozen whole tomatoes from last summer’s garden.  I just removed their skins and cut them up a bit. I didn’t have jalapenos, so I used dried chilis.  I had cilantro and forgot to put it in.  I used some shallot and red onion.  I used lots of thyme and twice as much orange rind.  I also only used shrimp and scallops.

Chop the onions and saute in butter.  Meanwhile heat the stock etc, when simmering, add the softened onions and butter. Add everything but the seafood.  Bring to a good simmer and cook for 5 -10 minutes for flavours to blend.  Turn down heat and add seafood.  If using mussels, start by only adding them and cooking until they open.  Then add the rest of the seafood and only cook until opaque.

This will keep in the fridge for 2 days.  It is actually a better dish the next day.

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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Food, Recipes

 

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Happy Goat Yogurt and Happy Husband…

I try not to make a huge focus on this blog that Don is a person with celiac disease.  But the long and short of it is… Don can’t tolerate gluten.  As I love to cook and experiment, this rarely poses any problem for me.  As gluten is a protein, a lot of celiacs also cannot tolerate cassein, which is the protein in dairy… and to be more precise..its cassein from cow sources only.  We discovered that Don can tolerate goat dairy the best.  This makes sense because goat milk is far more similar to human milk and so can be much easier digested than cow.

With celiac disease… you have a bad gut.. and you have a bad gut A LOT of the time.  As we all know, bacteria found in yogurt is beneficial to the gut.  So some where a long the way, we started making goat yogurt for Don.  It started out with his Mom making it for him and eventually reverted to me.  The problem with goat milk… is that its naturally homogenized… actually it’s not a problem.. its one of the reasons it’s so much better for humans.  But the problem when making yogurt is that its hit and miss with getting the yogurt to thicken with this natural homogenization it has going on.  Finally I spoke to someone at the Happy Days Goat Dairy and they explained it to me… I thought that I was doing something wrong.  So now, I add a half packet of gelatin to the process and it’s just enough to make the consistency right.

So here is the process:

 1 litre of Goat Milk
 3 scoops of powdered goat milk powder
 1/2 packet gelatin
 Agave syrup to taste
 lemon extract
yogurt starter
 

I start by adding the milk to the pot along with the powder and gelatin.  Keep whisking until all the lumps are out, this will be easier as it starts to warm.  I turn it on to simmer.  Keep whisking and insert the candy thermometer on to the side of the pot.

It’s not supposed to boil… its supposed to get just to boiling point.  I usually get distracted at this point and then I have boiled on goat milk all over the range…. this is why I only turn it to simmer…. the boil isn’t so violent when this happens.  Once the temperature of about 200 is reached, I remove from stove and immerse in the a sink of cold water…. I also add the agave and lemon extract now.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Now I cool it down to about 105 – 110 degrees.  You don’t want it to be any warmer because then the yogurt starter will die and if its any cooler…. well I am not sure what happens scientifically… but it doesn’t turn out either.  Once the correct temperature is reached, you add the starter to a little bowl and add a soup ladle of warm milk to it.  You whisk this like crazy, then dump it back into the main pot…. then you whisk like crazy again.  Then you pour it all into the little yogurt containers and put in the maker for 10 hours or so.

There are a few variations…. if you save a bit of the yogurt from your last batch…. this is your starter.  If you don’t, you can purchase starter… and then start saving it each time.  I just skim off 2 tbsp from one of the containers and put into a cute little Tupperware container.  When you save the starter… the yogurt turns out a bit different from when you use commercial starter… I have not figured out why, but as Don describes it, its more ‘chewy.’  I was using starter out a package until just recently when I ran out, then I saved some yogurt and it worked so now I just do it this way…plus its cheaper.

You can add any flavour extract you like… or none at all.  We find that because goat milk is stronger in flavour than cow milk, the agave and extract cut a bit of that strong flavour out.  I experimented with vanilla but Don didn’t care for it. You could also use honey or sugar for a sweetener.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Food, Recipes

 

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Rolling in the dough with Farmer Sausage Rolls….

Ok… I don’t usually post this close together.  Well last night I made an old time comfort food.  Don is STILL away on the REIN road, so I decided to make some mini sausage rolls.  The recipe was given to me by my Mom a long time ago and I think her sister, Auntie Alice, gave it to her.

Where we live we have a local butcher named Remple who makes THE BEST farmer sausage ever.  There are many a dispute among the Mennonites who is actually the KING of the Farmer Sausage, but my loyalty is with Remple.  There is just nothing quite like it.

So here is the recipe passed to me by my Mom.

 

 

 

Farmer Sausage Rolls

 

This is a very rich dough and is what makes this so nice.

I don’t cook the sausage ahead of time and it turns out.

You can make them as small or large as you like.

I use a large area on my island for rolling  out the dough

and just skim the knife down the dough and make

columns the width of the sausage and just roll them and

cut them as I go …. and then place on a cookie sheet.

 

3 3/4 cups flour

1 lb butter or margarine

2 cups cottage cheese

 

In blender, blend cottage cheese until it is very smooth

Cut butter/mar into flour

Mix smooth cottage cheese with flour mixture

Put dough in fridge for at least 15 min or overnight

Cut farmer sausage pieces into desirable size for the

size of sausage rolls you would like

If sausage is fatty, render it down by frying it a bit,  cool

Roll out dough quite thin

Place cooled sausage onto dough and use knife to cut

pieces and roll up sausage, seal edges well they like to separate.

For golden rolls, brush with beaten egg

Bake 400 F oven until done, about 20 minutes

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Food, Recipes

 

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Triple B… and Gluten Free… Beer Braised Beef becomes a take away meal

Finding time to get together with friends can sometimes prove challenging when everyone’s schedules need to converge to make it happen.  We made arrangements last month with new friends who have recently moved into our neighbourhood.  The lady of that house has just recently found out that she needs to eat gluten-free… after years of struggling with a bad stomach, at 40, cut out gluten and the symptoms cleared up.  So when we coordinated on a day, I offered to bring the main meat dish for the meal.

We just filled the freezer up with this years side of beef.  We love knowing where our food is coming from.  We are very fortunate and grateful to have the ability to raise our own cattle and then get the satisfaction of exceptionally great tasting cuts all year.

Our friend Carla Johnson, has written a great book called ‘Cooking With Sin…Great recipes dipped in alcohol and wrapped in a wonderful story…’   She also has a blog, http://cookingwithsin.com/wp-content/themes/cookingwithsin-newtheme/images/headerad.png.

I know… you are wondering where I am going with this…  well Carla wondered if I had a great Gluten Free recipe that featured alcohol (that’s the Sin part of her book!) and whether I could give with her one so that she could share it on her blog.  I got to thinking that I could combine my homegrown beef with a some beer, get a nice hearty winter meal AND a blog post at the same time.

I decided to take an existing recipe and adapt it to Gluten Free.  The recipe also called for it to be cooked in a crock pot and that the beef be cut into stew sized chunks.  I did neither.  I did use the slow cooker setting

on my oven,  but I hadn’t left quite enough time for that so I ended up finishing it on top of the stove.  In the recipe I won’t put the stove option as this step would actually make the recipe more time-consuming and most home cooks are looking for ease these days.  Not everyone is interested in slow food…

Beer Braised Beef (Gluten Free)

5 slices thick bacon, diced
3 large onions, halved and sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
salt
black pepper
vegetable oil
3-4 lbs round steak, 3/4 inch thick cut in desired portion sizes
all-purpose celiac flour or other GF flour
1 bottle, 12 oz, of GF beer or ale
1 cup GF beef stock or other stock or water.
2 tsp dried thyme ( I used more than the original recipe)

Cook the bacon dice until crisp and transfer to paper towels and set aside. Add onions to drippings and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until soft.  Sprinkle brown sugar over onions and increase the heat to medium high and cook onions until they are golden,  about 8 minutes. Add vinegar, salt and pepper.  Transfer the onion mixture to your baking dish. Large enameled oval roaster works well.

Sprinkle the beef with a bit of salt and the flour.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the beef on both sides.  Transfer the beef to the roaster on top of the onions.  Add the beer and stock to the heated pan and scrape up the brown bits,  reduce the liquid a bit, then pour it over the beef in the roaster.  Top with the bacon and thyme.

Cook in a 350 over, approx 2 hours.  Check after 1.5 hours for desired tenderness. Alternately, you could slow cook for about 8 hours or braise on the top of the stove for about 1.5 hours.  More stock would be needed for stove top braising.

When I checked my beef about an hour before we left, I realized that I had not left enough time to use the slow cook setting in my oven.  I have a VERY large All Clad straight sided Saute pan so I transferred the beef and liquid to it and braised it on the stove top.  The result was great and the liquid cooked down nicely.

The flavours in this dish are considered Flemish… or Belgian… so our friends cooked up Belgian frites(twice cooked) to go with it.  I must say the combination was fabulous.  Will definitely be adding this one to the cooking roster and with the deep fryer that I hope to be getting for Christmas… I am sure you will be seeing a future post when I start experimenting making fries….yum.

 
 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Toronto… the centre of the universe… or is it? Maybe its Orangeville.

Earlier in fall, I went on a road trip to the wonderfully concrete and highway heavy Toronto.  I don’t usually go along with Don, but decided to this time as there were some very cool extra events planned.

Our friend Rodney Hough (http://readysetlaunch.ca/about-us), arranged for me to cook at his former restaurant One99 in Orangeville (http://www.one99.ca/)  They have a program at the restaurant where wannabes from the public can come and cook with a chef for the afternoon and part of the evening…. then they feed you a fabulous meal(and wine)   This dinner had been a while in the making…  I don’t often get to Toronto.  When I do, I sometimes see Rodney, sometimes not. He and I have been conversing about all things food related for a number of years now. And then finally, our schedules converged and we had a date.

I spent the afternoon hanging out with Chef Roger and we made a variety of dishes.  Then for part of the dinner service, I cooked with Chef’s Mike and Craig and got to serve out some mains.  Mike is the Executive Chef and Craig, his brother, is the Sous Chef.  The team at One99 is exactly that….a team.  They respect each other and all get along famously.  The experience was fabulous and hopefully they will have me back one day to do it again.

Menu

Vension tenderloin 'wrapped' in a mousseline of shrimp and scallop

Vension tenderloin ‘wrapped’ in a mousseline of shrimp and scallop

-mousseline usually means that its bound with egg whites, but in this case we kept everything very cold, bowl, crustaceans, blade,  then pureed in spurts to bind the proteins.  Then we ‘wrapped’ the mousse onto the outside of the tenderloin piece, held on with caul fat.  After assembled, put all back in the fridge to keep together.  Upon an order, its baked in the oven until rare and served, cut in 3, on some Spaetzle with vegetables.

Spaetzle

  • 1 pound of flour
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Spaetzlebrett

…and you need a Spaetzlebrett!  This is the way its made in Germany.  I must say, labour instensive but oh so fun…. (http://germanfood.about.com/od/potatoesandnoodles/ss/spaetzle.htm) …. so instead of going into the long winded way we did it… here is a link to what we did. ( I know, I cheated, but I was so busy at this step that there are no pictures)

After the we pulled it out of the water, we put it on large, parchment lined pans and put a little oil on it to prevent sticking.  Then it was all put in a fridge drawer and single portions were pulled out as needed… sauteed with some butter and you have it.  A few blanched, then sauteed veg and the dish is ready.

Slow cooked Duck legs

Some of the other items were, smoked harvest vegetable soup, wasabi crusted tuna, mussells, duck…

Serving up Mussells

I had a blast doing this and hopefully will get to do it again in the future.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Food

 

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Loco Moco….and no we are not crazy… just crazy for this dish!

I was recently on a road trip to the wonderfully concrete and highway heavy Toronto.  I don’t usually go along with Don, but decided to this time as there were some extra events planned.

One of the events was our REIN meeting.  While attending it, one of our REIN members, Andrew MacDonald asked if I could send him my loco-moco rescipe….I said I would send it to him… so if I have to type out the recipe anyways… I thought I may as well make a blog post.  Unfortunately I have never taken a picture of the dish when I have made it, but as it is such a basic dish I have attached others I have found that look the same.  So here we go…

Patties (can easily be doubled)
 
1 lb ground beef
1/4 – 1/2 cup grated white onion (not choppped)
salt and pepper
 
Gravy
 
beef broth ( can just use hot water and some bovril, or knorr or…?)
corn starch
butter
worchestire sauce, ketchup, dijon mustard
eggs
hot cooked white rice
carmelized onions (optional)
 

I didn’t give quantities because I found it gets adjusted due to everyone’s personal taste. Start with 1 tbsp of cornstarch, and see if you like the consistency.  I like to keep it a bit runny so that the rice gets a bit goopy.  Some recipes don’t have the ketchup or the dijon, but I found it added some depth to the flavour.  Also, one time I carmelized onions on the side and served them as a layer in the dish.  In Hawaii, where we discovered this, if you go to the local food places… the dish is basically always served with macaroni salad.  This seems very odd to me, but I think they just serve macaroni salad on the side of most platter meals there.

Heat your NON-non stick fry pan…. or as you would know it,  your STICK ON pan…. get it nice and hot, add some oil.  Place the patties in the pan, sear and get a litte charred… you want it to cook on a bit and get some ‘brown bits’ in the pan.  Flip and do the same thing other side.   Place burgers off to the side on a plate.   With the pan hot, add the broth, reduce down.  Add the worcestershire, ketchup and dijon ( just a little of each)  I like to have mixed them together in a small dish ahead of time.  Mix the cornstarch with water.. then slowly incorporate it into the pan, ensuring you don’t get lumps. Add some butter when its nice and smooth.

In a NON stick pan,  cook your eggs to your liking. Eggs do not cook well in pans that are not non-stick… Sunnyside up, or over easy is preferable… you want the yolk to be a bit runny.  To put it all together….rice, hamburger patty, gravy, egg, a little more gravy… Tip:  cook the eggs right at the last minute,  have the dishes ready to go and then serve immediately.

And then say …. ahhhhhh… comfort food.  This is a really basic easy dish that never fails to deliver.  We are off to Hawaii again very soon and I am looking forward to trying a few more versions of it.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Sautéed Beets… Nope, nobody has done it.

Sautéed Beets?  Well I looked high and low on the internet and couldn’t find a recipe that said to pan fry beets at high heat, with a little bit of salt and let carmelize… The only recipes I could find were the latest rage ones that have you wrapping beets in foil and putting in the oven…And there were recipes to do this… and more recipes.. and even more recipes.  But I didn’t want to heat the oven and the house so I figured I could just make it up as I went.

And so my sautéed beet and feta and pine nut salad was exactly that… made up as I went.  Beets have a lot of sugar so it only made sense that they would saute very nicely… making that nice crispy outside crust that we like to call carmelized.

I have to say that I was never a beet fan.  I am not sure why, but it must have been a throw back to all those ‘weird’ foods that I refused to eat as a child.  When I think about it, I didn’t like anything with too much colour.  Beets, tomatoes, mustard, relish, lettuce, most fruit, all peppers…. Its amazing I grew fast and furious and was towering over my classmates by grade 5. Obviously eating your veg doesn’t have a lot to do with height.

Then a few years back I visited Earl’s with my Mom and I had a salad that had beets in it and I was hooked.

Here is what I made up:  Peel your beets, take care to not get EVERYTHING purple. Chop the beets in small dice.  This would be about 1/4 inch squares.  Heat the pan then add olive oil.  Throw in beet dice, add a little salt and start sauteing.  Get them nice and coated in the oil.  Lower the heat and stir/shake them up every so often.  They go through a few stages.  They will sweat out, then the sweated out liquid will steam them a bit soft,  then they will eventually carmelize on the outside.  You can even toss a bit more salt and some sugar in he pan to help it along.  It will take about 30 minutes.

 

 

I also lightly toasted pine nuts on another burner while the beets were cooking.

To serve:

Goat feta (young and not too salty) small dice

Pine nuts (toasted)

Arugula

Beets

Olive Oil and salt, if needed, to dress.

I toss it all together and the feta ends up pink.  If you don’t care for the ‘pink’ feta,  add it only at the end on the top of the salad but the result with ‘pink’ feta is better.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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