Friday, 27 December 2013

Roasting Poultry and Making Gravy

Roasting Poultry:

Special Tools:

A roaster and ideally a Trivet, which is simply a small rack which goes inside the roaster and underneath the poultry so it is raised from the bottom of the roaster. This helps promote even cooking. If you do not have a trivet on hand you can just use some extra stalks of celery to raise the poultry from the bottom.

Also some butchers twine or trussing pins might also be useful but they aren't needed

Ingredients:

Poultry Seasoning Recipe
About 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup butter
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Savory (Or thyme, or Rosemary, or Sage, or Marjoram)
Water

If desired:
Stuffing/ Dressing

Or you can use the any of following ingredients to stuff the cavity for extra flavor
       1 small onion, sliced
       2 stalks celery, chopped
       1 small carrot, chopped
       A few Bay leaves
       Rosemary sprigs
       Thyme sprigs
        Lemon/ Ginger root

Also if you are roasting a smaller or really lean bird like partridge, you can use a brine to ensure the meat doesn't dry out.

Here are two I use. . .

Maple Brine
30 Minute Brine

Gravy:

All the pan drippings
1/2 Cup Flour
2-3 Tablespoons cold water
Few drops Gravy enhancer, like a darkener
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon thyme
1 Teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

First let the poultry sit in the roaster on the counter for about 30 minutes to warm it up a bit so it isn't shocked the hot oven.

After 30 minutes, open the packaging and if applicable, remove the neck and bag of gizzards from the cavity. I keep the neck and either place it in the roasting pan to reduce down for making richer gravy, but I have no idea what to do with the gizzards so I throw those away.

 If I wanted organ meat I would get fresh stuff, as organ meat is more delicate and the freezing and rough packing of poultry make the bag of gizzards less than ideal choices for recipes. Well at least for the recipes I know of anyways. But, moving on.

If you plan on using a brine you can just use the brine time as the warm up time. Just open up the poultry, remove the neck and gizzards as describe above and continue with instructions: After the brine process, remove the chicken from the brine bucket and carefully move it to the roaster. Let it sit for a few minutes to drain and dry, then pour the brine drippings down the sink carefully.

In the mean time, prepare the stuffing/dressing if you are planning on using it to fill the poultry cavity, or prepare the other options for filling the cavity. Or don't bother and go plain Jane with the poultry.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place poultry, breast side up in the roasting pan either on a trivet or on celery stalks. With one hand hold the chicken up by a drumstick, and season inside with salt and pepper liberally, as well as one tablespoon of the savory (or other herb of your choice). Place the poultry carefully back into the roaster.

If you are stuffing the poultry, do so now. If you are using vegetables/lemon and ginger root/herbs, just stuff as much as will fit inside the cavity easily.  If you are using stuffing or dressing, use your hands to press the stuffing into small balls and begin by pushing the small balls one by one into the cavity beginning with filling towards the back of cavity and loosely filling back towards the opening. You need to leave a bit of room in the cavity when using stuffing or dressing as it will expand as it cooks, and no one wants a stuffing explosion in their oven.

Once the poultry is prepared, you can truss it. If you have poultry pins, use them to hold the cavity closed, and the legs close together. Also try and tuck the wings underneath the bird to keep them from overcooking. 

If you have butchers twine cut off about 2-3 feet length, and place the middle of the twine underneath the bird near where the wings are. Tuck the wings underneath the bird, and use the twine to hold in place as you wrap the twine around the Poultry, crossing over on the breast, going underneath the bird again, crossing and coming back towards the top of the bird, around the thigh. Use what is left of the twine to hold the drumsticks close together, tie with a simple knot and cut off the excess. Use a bit of aluminum foil to close off the cavity.

 Lightly dust the entire poultry body with flour, making sure that the entire surface has been lightly coated. Season with salt, pepper, and the last tablespoon of your herb of choice. Dot bits of the butter all over the entire top of the poultry. Pour water into the roasting pan until their is enough that the water is about 1/2 inch deep in the roaster.  If you want to and happen to have it, place in the neck in the roaster as well.

Place the roaster in the preheated oven and roast for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes reduce heat to between 325°F- 350°F and remove the poultry from the oven to baste it. You can use a baster or a ladle or large spoon to do this. Baste the poultry well all over the entire surface. Return poultry to oven and roast for another 25-40 minutes. The larger the poultry the longer you can let it go between basting. For example I would baste something tiny like a partridge every 20-25 minutes, but a large poultry like turkey I would let go closer to 40 minutes between basting. Check the poultry with a meat thermometer during each basting. Taking note of how fast it is cooking and when it approaches being done.

If the skin of the poultry is beginning to get too dark, you can cover it with a layer of tin foil, which will help prevent further browning.

Once the poultry is cooked through, you can tell this by either using the meat thermometer, or with poultry usually once the legs are pretty much falling off the body when you gently tug them, the bird is cooked. I highly suggest a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh, or thickest part of the breast though for checking poultry. 

Once the poultry is cooked, Transfer it from the roaster to a carving platter. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest 10-20 minutes before carving. This allows the meat to relax and retain a better flavor and texture once carved.

While the poultry is resting, make the gravy

Papa's Pan Gravy

Using a fine sieve, strain the pan juices from the roasting pan into a large pot (or don't bother straining, my husband to be tells me my gravy doesn't have to be so smooth all the time). Add the gravy enhancer, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, thyme and pepper.

Heat the pan drippings over medium heat, until just beginning to boil. 

While the pan drippings are heating up, in a small water tight container, combine the water and flour and shake vigorously to mix. Shake well until the mixture is smooth and not lumpy. It should be pretty thick, but able to pour like a viscous liquid, like molasses. Add extra water if needed.

Reduce heat to low, and using a whisk, slowly pour the flour and water mixture into the just boiling pan drippings and whisk well. Once the Gravy begins to thicken, stop adding the flour mixture. Continue to stir the gravy. If after two minutes it isn't as thick as desired, add a little bit more of the flour mixture and whisk well. 

By now the poultry should be ready to carve, your gravy is ready and I hope your sides are as well. 

Enjoy!

Notes

Google is a pretty magical tool these days, I have been keeping track of Google searches which lead people to my humble little recipe index, and I know I am a bit late for Christmas dinner, but it appears that some people need a little bit more information on how to roast a turkey or really any kind of poultry. So I will be kind and share my methods for setting up poultry and how to roast it. I learned this recipe from my mommy who learned from her father who learned from his mother. It has been tested and loved by many generations of my family and it results in a really nice finished roasted bird.

This recipe works well with most forms of poultry, except for waterfowl like ducks or geese. Turkey, chicken, partridge, pheasant, squab, etc are all good choices for roasting with this method. Ducks and geese need a little bit more attention before roasting as they have a lot of fat on the breast and it takes time to render properly.

So if you want to roast a turkey, chicken, partridge, pheasant or squab, follow these basic instructions. I will also leave some tips for extra special things you can do to switch this recipe up and really make it more your own.

Finally, many many roasting recipes call for you to rinse off the poultry and pat it dry with paper towels before cooking. I never do this. It can lead to a lot of contamination in your kitchen as water drips or splashes off the raw poultry. It isn't a necessary step and I suggest just not bothering.

Ps, Because I care, it takes about; 

  • An hour or a little longer to bake a potato in an oven set to poultry roasting temperature
  • 20 minutes to roast corn in the husk along with the poultry
  • Boiled and mashed potatoes take about 40-50 minutes when done on the stove
  • 3 minutes to make frozen corn niblets (1 cup frozen corn, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons butter, microwave 3 minutes, strain water and serve)
  •  40 minutes to make rice
So time your sides accordingly!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Special Tools:

None really, but I find this works best in an 8X8 inch square pan with high sides if you happen to have one around, otherwise any high sided casserole will do

Ingredients:

About 1 pound Breakfast Sausage, Cooked and broken into little bits and cooled
About 8 eggs
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon allspice
8 Slices Bread, crusts cut off
1/3 Cup milk
1 Tablespoon butter

Optional:
1/4 cup Green onions or diced bell peppers

Instructions:

Use the tablespoon of butter to grease the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. Place the bread slices in two layers in the casserole, tossing some (About 1/4-1/2 cup) of the cooked sausage bits in between the two bread layers.

In a large bowl crack the eggs, add the milk, and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Stir in the sausage bits.

If you are planning to wait until the morning to finish this recipe, simply cover and refrigerate the pan and bowl.

About 30 minutes before cook time, remove the casserole pan from the fridge let stand at room temperature.

When you are ready to cook, Preheat the oven to 400°F. remove the bowl of eggy sausage from the fridge and give it a stir to re-suspend the sausage. Pour the entire bowl over the slices of bread in the casserole pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. Slice like you would a lasagna and serve!

Enjoy!

Notes:

Merry Christmas to all! I got a brand new set of pasta rollers I can't wait to test out, but until then how about another easy breakfast option, keep those visiting family members happy without having to slave away in the kitchen in the morning.

This is the sort of breakfast casserole my mommy always did when we went away with family on vacation, or for Christmas morning. In case you weren't aware, morning is not a favorite time for my family, most of us are pretty cranky bears in the morning and not really in the mood to be up to much. But there are times when things just need to get done; like Christmas morning where we would have to all get up early, open presents, eat a quick but filling breakfast, swiftly get ready for a day with family all before jumping in the car to drive for an hour to the Grandparents and waiting most of the day for turkey dinner, which is always promised to be served around 2-3pm, but is always closer to 5 or 6 pm. . . But I digress our presence was desired and family wanted everyone there by about 11am. In order to get where we needed to go mommy would make this casserole up the night before, do the finishing touches in the morning, bake it while we open presents and then right to a hot hearty breakfast!

So this is a savory frenchtoast and sausage kind of casserole. My mom just bought a log of breakfast sausage meat from the grocery store, but any cooked and broken up breakfast sausage will work, so use your favorite!

So there is my Christmas story for the year, I hope you had a merry December!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Divine Cookie Dough

Divine Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

1 Cup soft butter
1/2 Cup + 1 heaping Tablespoon icing sugar
1 Egg yolk
1/3 Cup Cream cheese, softened
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon lemon or lime zest, optional*
2 3/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F, grease or line baking pans with parchment paper.

With electric beaters or in a stand mixer cream the butter, icing sugar, and egg yolk together until pale and fluffy. This takes a few minutes. Next beat in cream cheese, vanilla and the citrus zest if using it. Continue to beat until smooth.

In another medium sized bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Add a pinch of salt now if you used unsalted butter. If you are trying margarine. . . you are in the wrong place.

Using a wooden spoon gradually stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until a soft dough forms. Try to not over mix the dough or the cookies wont have as nice a texture when done.

Finishing the Cookies:

Jam Drops

To make Jam drop cookies you will need about 6-8 tablespoons of a delicious fruit jam. Or a Variety of jams. 

Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes after making the dough. Then break off small 1/2 ounce sized bits and roll into balls. Gently press the center of the ball down with your thumb. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into center. Repeat will remaining dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Let stand on hot cookie sheet for 2 minutes after baking then transfer to wire cooling racks to finish.

Drops with Cream Cheese Frosting 

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Follow the instructions for making Jam Drops, except do not fill the indent with Jam. Leave them empty and bake according to above instructions. Once the cookies are cool, Frost with a star tip to make little stars of frosting in the centers. 

Use Cookie Cutters

To cut out shapes with this recipe, after forming the dough chill it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes. Divide chilled dough into 4 sections. Roll each section out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out with desired shapes. Place onto prepared cookie sheet and bake between 9-12 minutes. Keep a closer eye on the cookies as they will bake faster than the rolled cookies. Let cooked cookies stand on the hot pan about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

Enjoy!

Notes:

This is an adapted Jam Drop cookie recipe my mother had lying around the house. We aren't sure where it came from and I kind of had to fill in all the instructions because as I have mentioned before, my mother never wrote down instructions for recipes. Just lists of ingredients with a name. But it is a delightful cookie recipe and it is very versatile.

Also this recipe makes a whole lot of cookies, so unless you have a large family coming I might suggest only trying a half recipe the first time.

Definitely not Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup, With Grandma's Chicken Stock Recipe

Definitely Not Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

Poached Chicken and Grandma's Stock Recipe:

3-4 Chicken Thighs, skin and bones on if possible
6 Cups water
3 Stalks celery
1 Carrot
1 Onion
1 Shallot
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
2 Teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1 Tablespoon Sage
1 Tablespoon Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Oregano
3 Bay leaves

Other Ingredients:

3 Spicy Italian Sausages
1 Can diced tomatoes and juice
1 Zucchini
2 Bell Peppers, I like Orange and Green
About 4 Cups dry Egg noodles
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon cracked pepper or more


Instructions:

In a large stock pot add the water and herbs listed in the recipe. Roughly chop the celery, peel and chop the carrot, shallot, onion and garlic. Add to the pot. Heat over medium low heat for about 15 minutes and then add the chicken thighs. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for between 60 and 90 minutes, Until chicken is cooked and stock smells divine. Also try and keep an eye on the stock. You want it to be just below boiling so it is hot enough to cook the chicken, but not actually boiling. This will keep the stock clear, and not cloudy. The flavors will be better and the chicken will be more tender when it is cooked.

While the stock and chicken are cooking, dice the zucchini and peppers, set aside. Cook the egg noodles according to package and set aside. Cook and dice the sausages, set aside.

Once the stock and chicken are done, Remove the chicken from the pot with a slotted spoon and allow to cool, before removing the skin, and dicing into little bite sized bits. Using a large strainer, Strain the stock liquid, reserving the stock. Pour the strained stock back into the pot. Add the can of tomatoes and can juices, the sausages, chicken, and peppers. Stir in the basil, oregano and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes to lightly cook the vegetables. Add in the cooked egg noodles, and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot with bread or biscuits. Chill left overs right away or freeze in portions for later.

Enjoy!

Notes:

So in case you weren't aware it is flu season! Oh joy, oh bliss! And look at this, we are barely past the start of winter and my lovely most wonderful man friend sadly became stricken down with the bug. He was rather unwell for quite a while so I felt I had to do the only logical thing and make the poor boy some soup to cure what ailed him. However it should be noted that my lovely most wonderful man friend is a bit of a finicky eater and claims to not like noodles, or soup overly much. I mean don't get my wrong he will eat it but if I said we are having some kind of noodle for supper or soup I do not get an over-joyed reaction first. . .

So back to the point, I decided to try and get creative and mix a few different soup recipes together to make one that might do him some good.  So using grandma's old fashioned method for slow poaching chicken and making stock at the same time, let's make some soup!

Ps. To just make some chicken stock all you need is the vegetables listed in the stock recipe, and all of the herbs except for the basil and oregano. Add to the pot the bones of a roasted chicken, or the un-used parts of a broken down chicken like the spine, neck, wing tips, tail/popes nose, etc. Follow the instructions and just simmer everything down over low heat. Strain and congrats you have made home made chicken stock!

Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes

Special Tools:

1/2-1 inch Star Tip for a pastry bag, and a pastry bag. Don't worry if you don't have it, there are other ways to cook these babies!

Potato ricer, or masher

Ingredients:

2-3 Large russet potatoes (Starchy ones)
1 Egg yolk, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only finely chopped, or about 1 Tablespoon dried
2 Tablespoons Milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Bake or boil the potatoes until cooked through and soft. Once soft and cooked, peel the potatoes if you hadn't already, and finely mash them or put through the potato ricer. To the mashed potatoes add the rosemary and milk, season with salt and pepper and gently fold in the egg yolk until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.

Now if you are lucky enough to have a pastry bag and a large star tip, fill the pastry bag with the potato mixture, and pipe the potatoes onto a pan lined with parchment paper. You want to create little potato "star puffs" that are about 3 inches in diameter and about an inch or two high. Just start by making a 3 inch diameter circle and then fill it in, then add another layer or two on top of the first one to give the puffs some height. Once all the potato has been shaped, brush the tops with the melted butter and baked for about 20 minutes at 375°F, or until nicely toasted golden brown. Serve right away.

If you do not have a piping bag and large star tip, the potato mixture can be smoothed into a casserole dish. Then using the tines of a fork, score and rough up the top surface. Coat the top with butter and then bake for 20 minutes at 375°F.

Finally I also have in my possession some festive cookie presses, that are basically just a stamp to emboss a design or shape into the tops of cookies which are rolled into balls and then pressed flat. Sometimes to be creative I will roll the potato mixture into balls and using the cookie presses sprayed with Pam cooking spray press a design into the tops of the balls. Then brush with butter and bake. 

Enjoy! 

Notes:

Because mashed potatoes can only be eaten so many times before a change is needed. Duchess potatoes are basically just an extra fancy mashed potato, with egg, cream, herbs and butter added for flavor. They could also easily be described as twice-cooked mashed potatoes.

The wonderful thing about Duchess potatoes is that they can easily be made ahead and then toasted to warm right before serving. If you are planning to make these ahead of time all you need to do is follow all the instructions until just before the end. Wait until you are actually going to do the final toasting before brushing the rounds with butter.

Ps. You can also add in a tablespoon or two of Parmesan cheese to the potatoes after mashing. Adds some nice salty flavor to the potatoes.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hearty Italian Tortellini Soup

Hearty Italian Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

4 Hot Italian Sausages
1 Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Red pepper
1 Green pepper
4-6 Cup beef stock
1 Can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Oregano
Pepper to season

Garnish:

About 1 cup Cheese shredded, Cheddar or Mozzarella or both!
Parsley

Instructions:

Cook the sausages through and then break them up into small bits. So it resembles course cooked ground beef.

Finely chop the onion, and dice the peppers and zucchini.

Add the cooked sausage, chopped vegetables, beef stock, can of tomatoes and the juice all to one large pot and simmer over medium heat. Add the oregano and basil and season with pepper.

Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Then turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once boiling add the tortellini and cook according to how long the directions indicate. Once the tortellini are done the soup is ready to eat!

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle some cheese over the top, garnish with parsley and done!

Enjoy!

Notes:

So here is another recipe I stole wholeheartedly from a friend. She invited me over for dinner and served the most delightful soup. So I figured out how she made it while I was eating it, asked a few questions and have been making the soup ever since.

It's a pretty rich and hearty soup, great for a cold winter's night and goes excellent with fresh bread or biscuits. It's also pretty simple to make because I use the grocery store brand of hot Italian sausages, and the premade Tortellini's from the fresh pasta section of the deli. Which definitely makes this one of the easier recipes that I have on the go. Plus the great thing is that you can make a large pot of it and then freeze some into lunchable sized portions and they reheat excellently. One of my favorite winter lunches.

Absolute Best Fried Chicken!!

Best Fried Chicken


Seriously, Look at this chicken! That is some good fried chicken


Ingredients:

1 Whole chicken, butchered into 10 parts, bone in

Dry Coating:

3 Cups Flour
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon salt
3-4 Tablespoons pepper
2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons Poultry Seasoning
1 Tablespoon celery salt
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
2 Teaspoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano

Wet batter:

1 1/3 Cup flour
2 Teaspoons salt
2-3 Tablespoons pepper
1 Tablespoons paprika
1 Egg
About 1 1/2 Cups cold beer to upwards of one bottle of beer

Instructions:

Prepare the chicken pieces and the brine. Brine the chicken. Remove after about 1 hour and let dry on a platter for about 10 minutes.

Heat deep fryer to 350°F

In one medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dry mixture.

In another medium bowl measure out the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Whisk together. Add the egg and 1 1/2 cups of beer. Whisk together until pretty smooth and the batter is about as thick as pancake batter. If the batter is too thick add a little bit more beer, if too runny add a bit more flour or corn starch. 

 Working with a few pieces at a time, dredge the chicken pieces in the dry mixture and then dip in the wet mixture. Coating all on sides.

To have a double coating, fry after dipping in the wet batter. To have a triple coating, after dipping in the wet mixture, dredge in the dry mix again, then fry.

Fry the chicken in the deep fryer for between 15-20 minutes, depending on how large or thick the piece is.

Once cooked, remove from fryer and let stand on paper towels for several minutes before serving.

Repeat process with all the pieces until they are all cooked.

Enjoy!

Notes:

After many attempts at trying to make the best fried chicken, I think I can finally say I made the best fried that I have ever eaten last night. It was truly one of the best things I have ever made I think. But it did take a bit of work to get it done right.

So I like my fried chicken to have a thick, crunchy batter, that is still light and easy to eat. I also like one with a lot of flavor and I found most of the recipes I found to have way too few spices, nor not enough spice amounts to really notice. So I tried to keep better track of how much of spices I actually use and sometimes it was seriously five times more than the original recipe called for. So this is a flavorful batter now.

The original recipes I am working with came from my grandmothers kitchen, allrecipes.com triple coated chicken, and my own imagination. The triple coating might be a little bit excessive to some people but don't worry, if you only do two coatings starting with the dry and finishing with the wet everything will still be delicious. Double or triple coating is up to you.

Also I highly recommend using a brine before frying the chicken. I did a simple brine with about an inch of diced fresh ginger, a tablespoon of pepper corns, some bay leaves, a diced shallot, and 1/3 cup each of salt and sugar. Add all that to a large stainless steel bowl, add the chicken pieces you wish to fry, (I cut up a whole fresh chicken into 10 parts, wings, thigh, leg, back breast, front breast) and fill the bowl with cold water, stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let stand for about 1 hour.

Ps. I went all out and served this with taters, and while the chicken was in the brine, I used the parts of the chicken I wasn't going to fry to make a little chicken stock and then made gravy! We had a pretty awesome supper here last night, can't lie. Fried chicken, taters and gravy is a recipe to make me pretty happy.

Ok, I also remembered that not everyone always has a few beers kicking around in the fridge, so if you by chance are fresh out of beer and not in the mood to buy more you can substitute water for the beer. But I would also add about 1-2 Teaspoons of baking powder to the wet mixture to balance out the lack of rise from the carbonation in the beer. Baking powder will also help the batter get crunchy in a good way.

Maple Brine Recipe
Quick Brine Recipe

Seriously, use a brine. It makes life better.

PSS. July 2014, When it is hot out and you are feeling a touch lazy, you can always just make up the dry coating, dredge the chicken pieces once, and then add about 1-2 cups beer or water and the egg to the remaining dry mix and whisk well to make the wet batter. This saves you making up multiple batters and speeds the process up a bit. I just served dinner to my best friend and her mom and used this lazy shortcut and everything still worked out quite well. Plus my mom and her mom munched on the crunchy burned bits of batter left over. When people want to eat the burnt crumbs and little bits of something you made, you know you must have done something right.

Apple and Sage Pork Meatballs

Recipe for Tart Apple Sauce

Apple and Sage Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 Egg
1 Apple, I like Granny Smith, or Golden delicious for this recipe
1 small onion
1-2 Cup Fresh bread crumb
1 Pound Ground pork
About 6-8 Fresh Sage leaves, or 3 Tablespoons dried
1 Teaspoon salt
2-3 Teaspoons pepper
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Teaspoon allspice

Instructions:

Allow the ground pork to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place the pork in a large stainless steel bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Finely chop the apple and the onion. Add the chopped onion and apple to the pork. Mix gently just to incorporate the two.

Season the mixture with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Finely chop the sage and also add it to the bowl. Stir gently to mix.

Lightly beat the egg and add it along with about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Using your hands combine everything together. If the mixture is too wet and not forming balls well, then add about 1/4 cup more bread crumbs at a time until the texture is right.

Form the mixture into about 1 inch in diameter balls, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes and check to see if they are cooked. Once cooked through remove from oven and serve hot.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Found this lovely little recipe hiding in one of my old hand written cookbooks. I remember making them several times and loving them, and then I apparently must have forgotten about them. Must be trying out too many new foods lately to get bored and search through my personal archives for things to try and pull together for supper.

Also, I am in the full swing of Christmas; house has been cleaned from top to bottom, tree is up and decorations are all around. I have most of my shopping done but that still leaves me with about one hundred woman hours of crafting work to be done. So my cooking might take a turn for tried and tested favorites and less new and exciting things. But oh well, tis the season to get nostalgic for home and comfort foods you know and love!

So these are a simple little recipe that gives a big reward in flavor at the end. The onion and apple in the meat mixture help prevent the meatballs from drying out, and the reasonable low cooking temperature also helps keep moist and delicious. I usually serve these plain without any sauce, but they are excellent with some apple sauce or honey. They are also great because they can go well with almost any side from potatoes any way you want them, buttered egg noodles, rice, salads or even just alone for an appetizer or as a party snack with tooth picks so your guests can eat them easily. You can also totally freeze these and reheat them later.

Ps. The first step in this recipe is to let the pork stand at room temperature for a bit, that is because I find the ground meat is too cold to work with happily if it goes straight from the fridge.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Ham with Cloves and Maple Sauce

Baked Ham with Cloves and Maple Sauce

Ingredients:

1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
A lot of Whole Cloves, depends on the size of your ham
1/2 cup beef or vegetable stock
1/2 water
1 Ham (I used a small cooked Vermont Ham, traditionally cured)

1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Pepper to taste

Special Tools:

Tin foil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F

Thinly slice the onions and the garlic cloves and place in the bottom of the roasting dish. Season with pepper.
Place the ham on top of the sliced garlic and onions, un-cured side down on the onions.

Starting from the top of the ham being to stab it with the whole cloves. spacing about 1/2 inch apart all over the entire skin of the ham. Season the ham with pepper.

Pour the water and beef or vegetable stock into the roasting pan and cover it all with some tin foil.

Bake for about 75 minutes, or until heated and cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer the ham to plate, cover with tin foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

In the mean time, make the sauce to go with the ham! Using a fine strainer, strain the pan drippings into a small pot. Add the maple syrup and brown sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and heat over medium heat. Season with pepper and adjust with any extra seasonings needed. Sometimes I had a bit of paprika or maybe mustard to it. Reduce the heat the low and stir occasionally while finishing the ham preparations.

Go back to the ham and pull out all the cloves that were stuck into it, and discard the used cloves. Slice the ham. and by this point the sauce should have thickened slightly and everything is ready to go!

Serve sliced ham hot, with the sauce lightly poured over top.

Enjoy!

Notes:

So my soon to be husband works a lovely day job and gets off in the afternoon, but I am a slave and work 12 hour days, which makes it rather difficult to get a supper on the table for the two of us on any day that I work. The solution to this of course is to make things ahead of time so that man-friend can be a dear and put it in the oven at the appropriate time and "cook" dinner for the two of us for right when I get home from work. I am told that normal humans accomplish this by just making a million casseroles and freezing them or something equally easy.

The problem is that we are not big casserole people. Actually we never eat any casseroles. That broccoli-chicken casserole made with cream of mushroom soup basically turned me against this form of food in all its many incarnations. So if we aren't going to be eating casseroles, there must be something we can make ahead to cook the next day. My new solution, a simple little roasted ham, with a maple sauce, and I served mine with a spicy mac n' cheese. It was a great success and soon-to-be husband did an excellent job placing both bakeware items in the oven. Good team work!


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

100th Post!

Fish Cakes and Caper Horseradish Sauce




Special Tools:

Potato Ricer/ Masher
Small food processor, or patient knife skills

Ingredients:

Caper Horseradish Sauce

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tablespoon Capers
2 Teaspoons Horseradish
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Shallot
1 Tablespoon Fresh chopped Parsley

Fish Cakes

About 450 Grams of Fish like Haddock or Cod
About 350G Mashed potatoes, without any added milk or butter, just dry mashed potatoes
2 Cups Bread Crumbs
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 Cup Flour

3 Sprigs Thyme leaves
4 Bay leaves

1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup water

Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Caper Horseradish Sauce

Finely chop the shallot and combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Let sauce stand in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.

Fish Cakes

Prepare the potatoes and set aside. In a large sauce pan being to heat the milk and water and place the thyme sprigs and bay leaves in the liquid.
Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and place in the liquid. Bring the skillet to just a high simmer, but not quite a boiling. Simmer for about 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat and leave the fish and skillet on the burner for about 10 minutes to slowly finish the cooking process.

With a slotted spoon remove the fish fillets from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Let sit about 5 minutes.

Transfer the fish fillets to a medium bowl and gently flake with a fork into small pieces. Season again with salt and pepper, and maybe a little pinch of summer savory if you want a little extra flavor.

Gently fold the flaked fish and the mashed potatoes together.

Begin to heat a skillet to medium heat and add some oil to the pan. Let the oil heat up and prepare the fish cakes.

Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set aside. Place the bread crumbs on a plate and spread them out.

Shape the fish cakes to be about 2-3 inches wide and about an inch thick. Place the shaped fish fillet into the beaten egg, and turn to coat the fish cake in egg on all sides. Transfer the fish cake to the bread crumbs and turn to coat evenly on all sides. Repeat with all the fish cake mixture.

Place the breaded fish cakes into the hot oil and cook for about 5 minutes a side or until the sides are a nice golden brown toasty color.

Once cooked transfer to place lined with paper towel and serve hot.

Enjoy!

Notes:

So let's make a nice Friday night supper, and because this is apparently a milestone to be celebrated in blogging world I've even managed to remember to take a picture of this one!

So Tonight's recipe is a nice simple recipe for fried fish cakes, with a nice little sauce on the side. Plus a little bit of the sauce goes into the fish cake, giving it a nice punch of flavor. I also really like this one because there aren't any chunks of onions in the fish cake. I am still not a huge fan of onions, likely never will be.

So a few things to know, you can peel, boil and mash the potatoes, or if you want to be the kind of person who uses everything and leaves no waste I suggest baking the potatoes after scrubbing them, and rubbing some olive oil over the skin until cooked through and a fork inserted goes in to the middle easily. Once cooked, remove the potatoes from the oven, let cool a couple of minutes. Then with a sharp knife cut the skins off the potatoes leaving about 1/2 centimeter of potato attached to the skin. Place the skins on a baking sheet and top with cheese, bacon and chives and bake 10 mins at 400F. And BAM we got potato skins, serve them with sour cream and enjoy. The baked fluffy potato middles you can either run through a potato ricer if you have one, or throw it all in a bowl and mash it. Ready to go!

Also these are great because you can wrap them up and freeze them! Either before or after frying. If you freeze them before frying all you need to do is allow them to defrost overnight and then fry for about 5 minutes a side in oil until golden brown and warm in the middle. If you fry and then freeze, you can reheat from frozen in the oven in about 20 minutes at 400C. Turning over half way through cooking time. Check to make sure they are warm in the middle and you are good to go!

The dip that goes with the fish cakes calls for a small shallot, but I can understand if you don't happen to have a shallot on hand, 1/2 a small onion is a goof substitute, and maybe a little less horseradish (See my Recipe for Pot Roast to get some more use out of that horseradish jar you bought).

Without further delay, Let's get cooking!

PS 100 Posts! Maybe I have some other recipes you might enjoy. . .

Monday, 11 November 2013

Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Basil

Gnocchi

Special Tools:

Potato Ricer if you got it!

Ingredients:

2-3 Russet potatoes, cooked and finely mashed/ put through a potato ricer
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 Cups Flour
Salt
Water

Olive Oil as needed
About 1-2 Tablespoons butter
About 1/3 Cup fresh chopped Basil leaves
About 1/3 Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Get the potatoes ready by cooking, peeling and mashing them. Spread the mashed potatoes out on a large cutting board or on a large platter. Pour the beaten egg over the entire top and sprinkle about 1/2-3/4 of the flour over the top as well. Gently begin to fold the flour and egg into the potato, using your hands and a spatula to evenly blend. Fold in more flour until the potato dough is easy to handle and not too sticky anymore. Roll the dough together into one ball and divide into about 6 portions.

Working with one portion at a time, roll out the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into 1 inch sections.  Take each cut piece of dough and using the tines of a fork and firm but gentle touch roll the dough along the tines to leave grooves along the sides. Set prepared Gnocchi aside on a lightly floured surface. Get a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Finish preparing all the Gnocchi.

Once the pot of water has come to a boil, drop the Gnocchi in about 10-15 at a time and once the gnocchi float back to the top they are cooked. Cook all the gnocchi, removing from the pot of water with a slotted spoon and transferring to a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat in olive oil.

Prepare the sauce:

In a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir the butter constantly until it just begins to turn a golden brown but is not burned. Remove from heat and add the chopped basil leaves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and toss to coat.

Place the Gnocchi in a large roasting pan, using a spatula to get the sauce out of the bowl and onto the gnocchi. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Let's make some Gnocchi! Which in case you didn't know are small "potato pillows" served like pasta in a light sauce as a side at an Italian dinner. They are not exactly easy to pull off but not too complicated either. Just require a special touch to get the texture right.

So some hints, use a drier potato like russet, and have extra flour on hand. Be prepared to get your hands pretty messy. If there is a way to do this without your hands I don't know it and I don't think I would like it as much. Just make sure your hands are real clean and your have short nails. Be food safe friends. Plus we all know flour is a finicky ingredient and it sometimes takes more and sometimes takes less. Depends on humidity and the day and the flour itself. I usually just use all purpose flour because that is about all I ever have on hand.

The texture of Gnocchi has to be just right, and deconstructing the potatoes is key to this process, I bought myself a potato ricer for about 20 dollars at the mall, and it works awesome. But finely mashing the potatoes so there are no lumps at all but the potatoes haven't been whipped either. Smooth and finely mashed is the goal.

Oh right I nearly forgot you can either boil or bake the potatoes to cook them, but I do suggest leaving the skin on to keep more flavor in the potato. Plus if you bake the potatoes you can cut the skins off afterwards and make potato skins with cheese and bacon and green onion. Yummy. . . .

So boil or bake the potatoes in their skin until soft throughout. Remove from oven or pot, and let cool for about 15 minutes or until you don't burn yourself when trying to handle them. Then cut away or peel the potatoes and keep all the cooked potato to either finely mash or put through a potato ricer. Let the potatoes cool again for about 5 minutes and then follow the rest of the recipe.

Maple Brine

Maple Brine

Ingredients:

2-3 Liters of water
1 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup Maple syrup
1/2-3/4 Cup Sea salt
4-6 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
6-8 Bay leaves
3 Sprigs of thyme leaves, or 2 Tablespoons dried
1/2 Tablespoon whole pepper corns

Instructions:

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together the water, brown sugar, maple syrup and sea salt until pretty much all the salt has dissolved. Stir in the cloves of garlic, bay leaves, thyme leaves and pepper corns. Add the pork or chicken to the brine.

Let sit at least 1 hour in the fridge, or over night.

Remove pork or chicken from the brine before starting to cook it, pat dry with paper towels and then cook as desired.

Enjoy!

Notes:

This is another quick to overnight brine for either chicken or pork. I really love it, it has more herbs and flavors on the go and really adds a great flavor to pork or chicken, and helps make everything really tender and juicy.

Basically just soak the chicken or pork in this brine mixture for about an hour, or over night. Remove the chicken or pork from the brine, pat dry and then cook however you like. It's really awesome to use if you are having a dinner party because it helps prevent chicken and pork form drying out if you need to wait for guests to arrive or something else to finish cooking.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Spicy Orange Stir- Fry

Spicy Orange Stir-Fry


Ingredients: 

For about 3-4 hungry people

About 1 pound pork tenderloin/boneless chop or boneless chicken breast/thigh
About 2-3 Tablespoons corn starch

1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

1 Inch fresh ginger root, finely minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Shallot or 1 small onion, finely minced

Pepper to Season

1/2 Cup matchstick carrots
1/2 Cup diced pepper
3 Chopped Celery stalks
4-6 White Mushrooms, diced
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

1 Tablespoon Corn starch
1/2 Cup Chicken stock
2 Oranges*
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon-1 Tablespoon Chili-Garlic paste/sauce
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
1 Teaspoon Garlic powder

3-4 Green Onion stalks, Chopped
Sesame Seeds

*If you want a really really strong orange flavor go back up and read what I had to say about that.

Instructions:

Slice the pork or chicken into thin slices that are about 2-3 inches long. Thin and fine slices are much better than thick chunks I think for stir-fry.

Prepare your ginger-root, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and either the shallot or the onion. Set aside

Heat up your skillet over medium-lowish heat, and if you are using cast iron season with oil once heated. 

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan. And allow it to heat for about 5 minutes. 

While you are letting the oil heat up in the pan, Dredge the sliced pork or chicken in 3-4 Tablespoons of corn starch. I did this by spreading the sliced pork over my large cutting board, sprinkling the cornstarch over all of it and then pouring all the pieces and cornstarch back into a large mixing bowl and then shaking it all around a bit until each piece was finely coated in just a little bit of corn starch. I also suggest giving it a bit of seasoning with pepper right now.

Add the prepared ginger-root, garlic and onion to the pan. Season with pepper. Stir-fry for about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced pork to the pan. Stir-fry cook for about 10 minutes or until just cooked. Begin careful at the beginning to separate each piece from each other, and trying to cook the pieces as evenly as possible. 

While the pork is cooking, Prepare the vegetables to go in the sauce, matchstick carrots, diced pepper, Chopped Celery stalks , and diced mushrooms, or vegetables of your choice.

Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add another tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan. Add the vegetables to the pan, and add about 1/4 cup of water. Place a lid or cover over the vegetables and steam cook for about 5-7 minutes.

While the vegetables steam cook, prepare the sauce, in a medium bowl combine the tablespoon of corn starch, chicken stock, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce/paste, ground ginger, and garlic powder. Zest both oranges and add the zest to the sauce. Squeeze the juice from both oranges into the sauce. Whisk everything together so it's well blended. Remember that the chili-garlic sauce really does pack a punch so if you don't like a strong spice flavor use only about 1 teaspoon, and I wouldn't suggest more than 1 Tablespoon. It would be overpowering.

After the vegetables have steamed. Stir fry them for about 1 minute more.

Add the cooked pork back to the pan. Heat and stir in with the vegetables for about 1 minute. 

Add the sauce to the pan, reduce heat to low. And simmer for about 10 minutes. Being sure to stir from the bottom to the top so all the brown bits of flavor join with the sauce.

Garnish with sesame seeds and fresh sliced green onion. Serve over steamed rice, or rice noodles.

Enjoy!

Notes:

I still don't feel like I am a natural when It comes to making stir-fry but future husband man has been reasonably encouraging while I keep on trying.

When we go out to Asian-menu based restaurants he always wants to get some kind of orange tasting something, usually chicken or pork. He loves it, I usually like to have a little taste of it at least. I am also still not very adventurous when it comes to new foods either. I'm trying to try more is all I can say.

So after a couple of tries at making orange sauce that doesn't suck when it's done I have selected and fine tuned this one. It doesn't have a particularly strong orange flavor to it because I decided to just use the fresh oranges that I had in my fridge after a very happy grocery shopping trip.

*If you wanted to really increase the orange flavor I would suggest substituting about 4-6 tablespoons of natural orange juice concentrate, like a frozen juice. Look for one without any added sugar, or one with a really low sugar/serving. I would also add an extra table spoon of the soy sauce, as well as one table spoon of lemon juice (to lessen the sweetness), and err on the heavy side of the chili-garlic paste amount I use. That orange flavor from the frozen juice concentrates are pretty darn strong.

Personally I really preferred the light orange taste of the fresh squeezed and zest, but I am well aware that I am not a very good representation for what the world wants.

Also I used pork tonight and it was awesome! (Look I remembered to even take a picture before we completely made it disappear!)

Alright so final words of wisdom, I like to use cast iron when I do actually make a stir-fry, the heavy bottom cooks more evenly, and I like how things develop with cast iron. But any skillet will work. I also didn't quite have all the vegetables that I wanted, which is why there isn't that much color in mine tonight, but you get the idea. But feel free to use whatever vegetables you actually like in it, or none at all. I would totally eat a stir-fry with almost no vegetables in it if I was alone. . .

Serve this with steamed rice, or rice noodles. Or a seasoned rice noodle.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pierogi

Pierogi 




Sausage Cheese and Potato Filling:

Ingredients:

1-2 Potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 Spicy Italian Sausages (or a flavor of your choice, sun dried tomato is also quite yummy)
About 1/2-3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar
2-3 Green onion stalks, sliced

Instructions:

Cook the sausage and break it up or throw it in your food processor and pulse a couple times. In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, broken up sausage, cheese and green onions. Mix well and set aside in the fridge until your dough is ready.

Pierogi Dough

Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Sour cream
1/4 Cup Butter, room temperature not melted

Other Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Small onion, diced

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour and the salt. Blend the soft butter into the flour and salt mixture until it begins to resemble fine grains of sand, and is even in texture. Add the sour cream and beaten egg, mix until combined but do not over mix. Knead gently until dough isn't sticky adding a little extra flour if needed.

Cover the dough and let it rest 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, set a large pot of water on the stove, salt the water and bring it to a rolling boil.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8th inch thick. Cut with a circle cutter, I used a three inch diameter cookie cutter.

Fill the circle, fold it in half so you have a half moon shape, and seal the edges together by dipping a finger in a bowl of water, running the water around the edge of the dough and pressing the seal firmly together with your fingers. Roll, cut and and fill until all the dough is used up, or your run out of filling.

Drop the filled Pierogi into the boiling water. When they float to the top they are cooked. Remove the floating Pierogi from the pot with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack which is over a tea towel to drain the water off them. Repeat until all Pierogi are cooked.

Now you can either go on to finish them, or you can freeze them at this stage to cook/reheat with the final steps after this point.

In a large skillet melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and once gently browned add the onions. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes. then add the Pierogi. Stir fry cook the Pierogi until they are golden brown on the outside, and warm in the middle.

Serve with sour cream, or go back to the top to hear about the Polish Nachos. . .

Enjoy!

Notes:

So I made these some time back in February maybe (?) and have been carting the recipe around with me in my cell phone. I am fairly prone to losing my cell phone, or having it die in an unfortunate accident caused mostly by me not paying attention. . . More than one cell phone has met its end in the washing machine, along with countless lip balms. But oh well! Can't be perfect all the time is what I always say. So in an effort to not lose this recipe like I have countless others, let us do the smart thing and write it down here, and of course share!

Also I am not of Polish decent or anything close to that and I didn't really grow up with them ever being around. But I discovered that they are basically dough pockets stuffed with potato, cheese and sausage or pork or bacon or whatever. Which are some of my favorite things to eat and thus I decided that I probably would very much like to have some.

I was right, I found a really easy dough recipe that cooks up beautifully and I did kind of just go with my heart song for what the filling should be. Google Tells me my method (after doing some more Pierogi research) is a pretty traditional one, except for the filling and the unholy deliciously sinful dish I called Polish Nachos. Which was the following Pierogi recipe, then served on a plate with cheese, green onions, and bacon served on top with sour cream for dipping. So good, but not something I would suggest eating all the time unless you want a heart attack. . .

All good things in moderation. . .

Home Made Pasta

Home Made Pasta

Ingredients:

1 Cup Semolina Flour
1 Cup Flour
3 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Teaspoon salt

Special Tools:

Large Bowl
Pasta Roller, highly recommended

Instructions:

In a large bowl sift together the flour, semolina flour, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Add the oil and the eggs to the well.

Carefully begin to incorporate everything together until you have one, not sticky dough ball.

Knead the ball until it is smooth, keeps it shape and isn't sticky. If the dough remains sticky it really wont do what it is supposed to do later.

Roll the Dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This is a process called "resting" it is important. Do not skip it.

After the dough has rested begin the process of rolling the dough out thin. Then fold it in half and roll it again. Then fold it in half again and roll it, and then just for good measure do it one more time. This time rolling the dough out to be as thin as you want your final pasta to be.

Cut the pasta as desired.

To cook the fresh pasta simply bring a pot of salted water with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in to to a rolling boil. Add the pasta being careful not to over crowd the pot. and when the noodles float back up to the top, which only takes a minute they are done!

Enjoy!

Notes:

Simple and easy and totally impresses dinner guests. However I tried this recipe without having a pasta roller and I found it very very difficult to get an even texture in my pasta, nor did I feel like I could get it thin enough. But maybe I just don't have enough patience to roll it as much as I needed to by hand.
So if you want to give this a try I might try just making ravioli the first time, and being real patient when rolling out the dough. you need to roll it out really flat. Fold it in half, and roll it flat again and repeat at least 2 more times. This process is laminating the dough and it will help to keep the dough from shrinking back after you roll it out and cut it.

Also the unusual ingredient in this recipe is Semolina flour, Bilk Barn has it, though it took me a while to find it because it was with all the baking things, not the other flours/starches.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy and tastes extra yummy. This recipe calls for about half a kilogram of icing sugar, but that is because I planned to use this frosting with cake decorating tips and needed a stiffer frosting so it would hold it's shape. There really aren't hard and fast rules for me when I make frosting, basically just keep adding icing sugar until it tastes and feels right to you. But here is a guideline.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

About 1/2 Kilogram of icing sugar
About 1/4 Cup of cream cheese
About 1/4 Cup milk
1 Teaspoon Almond extract

Instructions:

In a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer beat the cream cheese for a minute until soft. Add about 1 cup of icing sugar, the milk, and almond extract. Mix well.

Continue to add icing sugar until the right taste and texture of frosting is achieved.

Use right away, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to about a week.

Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!


With Brains! Brains! Brains!

And some gore!


Frankenstein Cupcakes! 

Avocado Pound Cake cupcakes, so they are slightly green in a natural way (I used my recipe for Avocado Loaf), and then just divided the batter into cupcakes, and baked for about 23 minutes. or between 18 and 25 minutes at 325°F.

Plus Cream Cheese Frosting Brains!

And Raspberry Sauce blood in the middle!

The Frankenstein cupcake wrappers are from Bulk Barns holiday decorating things.

Festive, creative and yummy!

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan 

Ingredients:


2 Chicken breasts, pounded flat and even
1/2 Cup Bread crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion powder

1/4 Cup milk
2 Eggs

About 1 Cup of vegetable pasta sauce (A pomodoro Sauce)

About 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions:

In a medium bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Basil, Oregano, salt, pepper. parsley, garlic and onion powder together. Stir to mix and set aside.


Preheat oven to 375°F

In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and eggs, set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the chicken breasts into the egg and milk mixture and turn to coat on all sides. 

Dredge the chicken breast in the cheese and bread crumb mixture, pressing it into the crumbs to get a nice coating, and making sure its evenly covered on all sides.

Place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second chicken breast, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer says its good to go.

While the chicken is cooking, shred the mozzarella, and warm up the pasta sauce you are using either in a small pot or in the microwave.

When the chicken is just cooked, remove the pan from the oven. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the chicken breasts, and top with cheese and some parsley if you like. Return pan to oven and bake for about 5 minutes more, or until cheese has melted.

Let the chicken stand on the pan about 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a nice salad and bread.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Since not everyone is into a casserole, I will also leave my recipe for just making chicken Parmesan breasts. Simple recipe, but I've adapted it to be baked which cuts down a bit on added fat. However I have also fried the breasts in a little bit of olive oil and it is pretty much divine. Up to you how you cook them, I am going to leave the baked instructions in the recipe, but if you want to try frying them I suggest doing it with a medium hot skillet, olive oil and cooking about 6-7 minutes a side. Then Test with a meat thermometer to be safe.

Once again you can use a jar of sauce or make your own. I use this Rustic Bolognese Italian Pasta Sauce, recipe and just omit the meat from the recipe. So I get a rich hearty vegetable sauce.