Monday, December 30, 2013

Dad's turkey soup

This is my dad's turkey soup, made with homemade turkey stock and lots of veggies. I didn't take down the recipe, but it's a delicious mixture of celery (stalks and tops), carrot, red pepper, kale, onion, garlic and herbs, and of course turkey :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chicken cacciatore

This is Giada de Laurentiis' chicken cacciatore recipe. It's from my favourite cookbook of hers, Everyday Italian. It has red peppers, onions and capers, a really nice combination that cooked down into a luscious sauce. The way the peppers tasted reminded me of ratatouille. I modified the recipe in several ways: I added some sliced mushrooms towards the end of the cooking time that I had sauteed separately in butter and fresh thyme. In addition, I used six boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of the four thigh/two breast combination in the original recipe. Finally, I added some red pepper flakes and bay leaves for extra flavour.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stuffed mushrooms

Seven mushrooms may seem like a strange amount to base a recipe on, but that's all the fungi I had in my fridge. You can modify this recipe for however many mushrooms are in your fridge.

Stuffed mushrooms

7 large cremini mushrooms
olive oil for drizzling
1 shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp white wine
2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Gently pop out the mushroom stems, chop them into a fine dice and set aside. Rub the tops of the caps in olive oil and place the caps bowl-side up in a square baking pan.

Heat a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add some olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic and saute for a few minutes until soft. Add the chopped mushroom stems and wine and saute for another few minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg with the milk.

To the mushroom-stem mixture, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan cheese and egg-and-milk mixture. Stir to combine all of the ingredients into a stuffing.

Drizzle some olive oil into the cavity of each mushroom cap and then spoon the stuffing into the caps, mounding them up. Drizzle more olive oil (a scant 1/4 teaspoon) or better yet, place a small pat of butter over the top of each mound.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the tops are golden.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sweet potato and kale hash with fried egg

I love any supper that involves fried eggs so this lovely recipe from Laura Keogh over at Sweet Potato Chronicles caught my eye at once. The maple syrup made the kale and sweet potato so sweet and delicious that I forgot I was also eating something very healthy and fortifying. Yum yum. Another recipe for my "workweek dinner ideas" file. I gave some of the potatoes and kale to the babies and they scarfed it down with gusto. Yet another reason why it's such a keeper.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Salmon patties

Worried that the babies were getting sick of scrambled eggs every day for lunch, I decided to try something new. Quick salmon patties to the rescue, recipe courtesy of Kidspot Kitchen. They liked them and so did I! It made a nice change from eggs. Now off to find even more lunch ideas ...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tomatoes Provençal

I've been watching videos of French Food at Home and reminiscing about my trip to France several years ago. We ate many memorable meals in Provence. So, while the babies were napping, I made this classic — tomatoes Provençal. The tomatoes are cooked for so long they are almost candied and full of herbs, garlic and breadcrumbs.

Tomatoes Provençal

3 ripe medium tomatoes
sea salt
cracked black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp dried herbes de Provence
4 Tbsp breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400.

Core the top of each tomato as shallowly as possible. Cut in half crosswise. Gently squeeze each half over the sink and use your fingers to remove the seeds and pulp from each cavity. (Discard the seeds and pulp.) Place the tomatoes cut side up in a square baking pan (mine is 10" by 10"). Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper.

Assemble the dressing ingredients in a bowl — garlic, shallot, herbes de Provence, parsley and breadcrumbs — and mix together. Mix in two or three tablespoons of olive oil to bind the dressing together.

Stuff each tomato with the dressing, pressing some into each cavity, until you have a small mound on top. Put each tomato back in the baking pan. Drizzle the tomato tops with more olive oil.

Turn the heat down to 375 once the tomatoes are in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the tops are browned and the tomatoes are tender and caramelized.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gratin of haddock with tomato sauce and spinach

This is a wonderful dish, an Annabel Karmel's recipe in Superfoods. Friends recently cooked this for lunch and everyone — four adults, two toddlers and two babies — just loved it. We ate it with baguette and butter.

Make ahead: I cooked the tomato sauce the night before and put the spinach in the fridge to thaw so it would be ready to go the day of cooking.

Gratin of haddock with tomato sauce and spinach
(adapted from Annabel Karmel's Superfoods)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 400-mL can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
1 300-g package of frozen spinach, chopped
10 oz haddock (or other white fish fillets), skinned
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion for five minutes until glassy and soft. Add the garlic and saute for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaf and herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Thaw the spinach in the fridge. When thawed, take out a handful at a time and squeeze out the juice. (Chop up the spinach finely if using whole leaf.)

Put the flour in a large plastic freezer bag. Add the fish fillets and coat them in flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the fish for one-and-a-half minutes per side — seasoning each side with salt and pepper as you go — until lightly cooked.

Spread the spinach over the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Layer the fish fillets on top. Pour over the tomato sauce and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked all the way through.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Slow cooker chicken tacos

This is such a nice, quick no-fuss recipe that Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh of Sweet Potato Chronicles did for Cityline. I've mentally filed it under "workweek dinner ideas" for when I go back to work full-time. It inspired me to pull out my slow cooker that I really only use for two recipes — pulled pork and French onion soup. Now I'm happy to add a third to my repertoire :) I just love the fresh coriander and lime juice in it. I added more toasted whole spices that just cumin — one teaspoon of whole coriander seeds and half a teaspoon of whole fennel seeds. I'm going to keep adapting the recipe to my tastes and will keep you posted.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Spaghetti with meat sauce
If this recipe wasn't so delicious, I'd stop making it because it makes me feel old. It's the first substantial dish I learned to cook on my own and it has been a trusty standby for years. Well ... ahem ... decades. Of course it's evolved since I made it almost every week as an undergrad. Now I use whole wheat noodles and add some kale, making this a much healthier version than the one I cooked as a student. If I cut up the spaghetti then the babies like it too, which is always a bonus nowadays. How things have changed.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

1 box (454 g) whole wheat spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup kale, chopped and stems removed
1 package (~454 g) lean ground beef
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
1 rind of parmesan
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock or water (optional)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put a large stock pot of salted water on the boil for the spaghetti. Cook it according to package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and put it back into the stock pot. Set the stock pot aside off the heat. 

In a Dutch oven or a large high-sided frying pan, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute five to seven minutes until glassy and soft. Add the garlic, herbes de Provence and red pepper flakes, and saute two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini and kale and cook another three to five minutes until the zucchini has softened. Scrape the vegetable mixture onto a plate and set aside. 

Return the pan to the hot element and add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook it, stirring often, until mostly done. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add back the vegetable mixture and fold it into the ground beef. 

Add the pasta sauce, bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add half a cup of chicken stock or water if you need more liquid to cover all of the ingredients. Mostly cover the pan (leave an edge open for the steam to escape) and simmer the spaghetti sauce for about 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir.

Add a cup of the pasta sauce to the pasta noodles in the stock pot and stir to loosen them up. Slide the cooked pasta into serving bowls and top with another ladle of sauce and a sprinkling of  grated parmesan cheese. Serve with salad or garlic bread.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spinach, mushroom and red pepper frittata

The babies and I eat scrambled eggs almost every day for lunch. They love the taste. They can pick them up and eat independently. I can make them really fast. Everybody's happy. But once in a while I make a frittata for variety. I put in all sorts of precooked veggies and sprinkle grated cheese over the top. After the frittata has cooked, I slice one half into thin strips and then small squares for them, and then keep the other half for myself.

For this recipe I used red pepper and baby spinach, but you can add any combination of vegetables you like. In the past I've done red pepper and zucchini, and sweet potato and spinach, which are both nice combinations. Use a saucepan that you can put under the broiler for a few minutes (ideally all-metal and without a long handle, but do what you can — mine is non-stick and has two small handles).

Spinach, mushroom and red pepper frittata

1 Tbsp olive oil
half an onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red pepper, minced
handful of baby spinach, julienned
6 mushroom, sliced
3 eggs
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt

Heat a dry saucepan on medium heat on the stove. Add oil once it's hot.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl or measuring cup. Add the sugar and salt, and a little bit of water (a couple of tablespoons). Whisk everything together and set aside.

Fry the onion in the saucepan and stir until soft and glassy, about five minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for two minutes. Add the red pepper and mushrooms, stirring and cooking another three to five minutes. Add the spinach and cook for two minutes until just wilted. Once the vegetables are cooked, spread them evenly around the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the broiler.

Gently pour the egg mixture into the frying pan and let it swirl around the vegetables to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Don't stir. Turn down the heat and let cook for a few minutes until the bottom has set, then sprinkle grated cheese over top.

Put the whole saucepan under the broiler for a few minutes until the top has cooked through and the cheese is bubbling.

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