Monday, 29 July 2013

Falafel

Falafel

Ingredients:

1 Cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water over night, or about 30 hours
1 White onion, quartered (About 1 cup)
1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves
4 Cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon baking powder
Between 4 Tablespoons and 1/2 Cup flour, Because flour is a tricky devil sometimes and it was super humid on the day I made these

Instructions:

Drain the chickpeas from their water bath in a strainer and gently pat with paper towels to dry them a bit.

In the large bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add the chickpeas, onion, cilantro, Parsley, garlic, chili pepper flakes, and salt. Pulse repeatedly until a semi smooth consistency is reached. It should all look pretty even, with an even color.

Scrape the batter out of the food processor into a large bowl. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the batter, starting with only 4 tablespoons. Mix using a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. Touch the dough gently, and if it still feels really sticky add another two tablespoons of flour and repeat process until mixture isn't really sticking to your hands anymore.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for about 2-3 hours in the fridge.

Heat cooking oil to about 375C or medium heat, the oil should be deep enough to emerse the balls. When the oil is ready to go, remove the dough from the fridge and begin to roll balls that are about the size of a walnut.

Place prepared balls on parchment paper. Fry one of the balls to start, I gave mine about 4 minutes of cooking time, then I pushed them off the bottom of the pan, and let them cook another 2-3 minutes, until they floated to the top and had a nice brown crunchy shell. If the first ball cooks well, and as described and doesn't fall apart, go ahead and cook as many as will fit in the pan without touching, following the same process.

If the first test ball fell apart, add another 2 tablespoons of flour, and chill the dough for another 30 minutes. Try again.

Remove the cooked falafel from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm in a pita, roti or wrap, with tahini sauce, tomoatoes, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, onion, hummus, etc.

Enjoy!!

Notes:

Mashed and seasoned chickpea meatless meatballs! I only had these once before I made them the first time, and it was at 3am after my birthday party had ended. I faintly remember very much enjoying it and thinking I could totally make it myself.

So a few days later I set out to make it myself. With mixed success based on what I read. Plus it is not a food I am overly familiar with, I used dried chickpeas and soaked them for about 30 hours. They felt a lot like peanuts in texture and split like a peanut when squeezed after being soaked. They ended up having ideal consistency once I finished the recipe. I used the dried chickpeas because there can be and often is a lot of added salt in the canned chickpeas and since I was planning to fry the falafel I thought I ought to limit the salt. Just to try and balance it all out a bit.

I also really suggest using a large bowl food processor for this recipe. It just makes it so easy, and the texture of the finished falafel is so smooth and fries with such a nice crisp shell.

This recipe is going to only be exactly how I made them, since this is the only way I know how at the moment. I plan to perhaps try to bake the falafel another time just to see if it can be done. Since that would make these pretty much the healthiest thing in my recipe box. More cook days are needed but I need to save at least the recipe before I lose it.

PS, May 2014 I recently have started to sincerely eat healthier and change out some meat in my diet for alternative protein sources. . . only sometimes though, still a blue-rare grilled steak kind of girl at heart. Anyways I tried a recipe to make falafel burgers to stuff inside a pita, but the recipe I was looking at said to use a can of chickpeas, undrained. Which felt wrong to me but who am I to argue? I am no real chef.

Word to the wise, you must absolutely drain the chickpeas when trying to make falafel of any variety. I created mushy paste that never got crispy. Gross.

So always drain and rinse the chickpeas. No extra liquid. Trust me. I will listen to my own advice as well next time because other than the chickpea burgers not turning out well the pita snacks were pretty good. So I will give them another go but using this recipe instead. Though maybe with less parsley and herbs as husband to be was not happy with how green these ones were.  

Friday, 26 July 2013

Tahini Sauce

Excellent with Falafel or on a pita, or just to dip in really.

Heat wave is still a thing here. . . . Might break tomorrow and dear goodness I really hope it does. I know Newfoundland is a place famous for winter but the current humidity is just too much. Simply too much.

Oh also Tahini itself is a peanut butter like thing, but made from sesame seeds instead of peanuts. It is pretty awesome and I got mine form bulk barn. So I think it might be reasonably easy to find.

Tahini Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Tahini
3 Cloves garlic minced
1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1 Teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

If final mixture is very thick add 1-2 tablespoons water and mix again. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Final sauce may need to be stirred again before serving, since oil and water like to separate.

Enjoy!!

Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus

Ingredients:

1 Can chick peas, or 1 cup of dry chick peas soaked in water over night
3 Cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

In a large food processor bowl, fitted with the spinning blade attachment, add the canned chick peas and about 1/3 of their canned juices. If you used dried chick peas add about 1/3-1/2 cups of the water from soaking. Add the garlic cloves and salt and pepper and lemon juice to the bowl. Pulse several times over the span of several minutes until a thick even consistency has been reached. The hummus is now ready to eat! keep it chilled until ready to serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients:

1 Can chick peas, or 1 cup of dry chick peas soaked in water over night
3 Cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Red pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Teaspoons paprika

Instructions:

Cut the pepper into thick strips and toss the strips in olive oil. Roast at 400°F for about 5-10 minutes. Keeping a careful eye on the peppers so they do not burn. You want to see a little bit of smoke and some blackened edges. In the large bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the roasted red pepper strips, garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice and chick peas. Once again if you used canned chick peas, add the chick peas and about 1/3 of their juice, or if you used dried chick peas add them and about 1/3 cup of the water they soaked in. Pulse everything several times over the course of several minutes, until a smooth consistency has been reached. Remove from food processor bowl and transfer to the dish you plan to serve the hummus in. Sprinkle the paprika over the top of the prepared hummus, and it is ready to go. Or keep the hummus chilled until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Still experiencing a heat wave. So lets continue on with the tour of foods I like that do not need the oven.

Because that is all I have been cooking this week!

So we will start with the basic plain hummus recipe that I use all the time and then I will also explain how to perfectly roast a red pepper and add it into the hummus for a nice extra bit of flavor. I love to use red pepper hummus on chicken burgers in the summer, home made chicken burger on a bun with spinach and red pepper hummus is awesome on a hot summer day.

Summer Salad

Summer Salad

Ingredients:
For two

6 Ounces of salad greens
1/4 Cup mandarin orange segments
2 Tablespoons raspberries or blackberries
1/4 Cup cherry tomatoes
1 Kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
1/4 Cup orange or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 Cup raspberry vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

In a small bowl mix the balsamic vinegar and the raspberry vinaigrette. Set aside.  Prepare all the fruit and veg. On two small plates divide the salad greens, and then sprinkle the mandarins, berries, tomatoes, kiwi and peppers over the top of the salad greens. Chill the prepared salad plates in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve the prepare dressing in a gravy boat for your dinner guests to serve themselves. If serving with a salmon steak lay the cooked salmon to one side of the plate and serve with one lemon wedge.

Enjoy!

PS I also have added some sliced almonds or craisins to this salad. Also very yummy.

Notes:

I almost never read salad recipes. I tend to just see what I got going on in the fridge and cupboard for a salad and go with that. Usually my salads turn out pretty well. Because really no one should be capable of messing up a Caesar salad or tossed veg salad. But sometimes I do understand that a bit of inspiration can help when trying to pull a salad together to finish a meal.

So here is my version of a light summer salad. I like to use either baby spinach leaves or a mesclun mix of small baby leaves in my salad. Small leaves make for a smaller more dainty bite. But really any leaf of your choice will work well. Especially if you include a little bit of bitter arugula leaves to balance the sweet dressing and fruit. I also sometimes make this a quick lunch and serve it with a lemon pepper salmon steak. It is delightful.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Peppered Steak Stir fry

Peppered Steak

Ingredients:

About 1/2 pound of steak, simmering or marinading, or flank, or thin beef steak. Chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 1/4 inch or finger width slices.

Marinade:

1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (or just two tablespoons soy sauce if you don't have dark)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar

Stir Fry Sauce:

2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/3 Cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon mirin
1 Tablespoon cracked black pepper

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Minced white onion (about 2/3 cups worth)
2-3 Minced cloves of garlic

1 Sliced green pepper
4 Chopped white mushrooms
3 Stalks chopped celery stocks

Garnish:

2 Chopped green onion stems
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Instructions:

Slow Lazy Simmer Method

Slice the steak and prepare the marinade by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. Add the steak to the marinade and toss to coat the steak. Allow the steak to marinade for 30 minutes. While the steak is marinading prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl combine the ingredients for the stir fry sauce, the rice vinegar, chicken stock, sesame oil, mirin, and black pepper and stir well. Set aside. Next prepare the veg, first wash the pepper and celery in cold water and dry on paper towels. Chop and place in a small bowl. Gently wash the mushrooms, chop and set aside in a small bowl.

By now the beef has been marinading close to 30 minutes, so start heating up the pan to medium heat. Once the pan is heated add the olive oil and let that heat for about 3 more minutes. Add the minced onion and garlic and stir fry for about 5-10 minutes. Add the beef, sauce and green pepper and celery to the pan, stir to coat everything. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles, garnishing the top with fresh green onion and sesame seeds.

Stir Fry Method:

Slice the steak and prepare the marinade by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. Add the steak to the marinade and toss to coat the steak. Allow the steak to marinade for 30 minutes. While the steak is marinading prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl combine the ingredients for the stir fry sauce, the rice vinegar, chicken stock, sesame oil, mirin, and black pepper and stir well. Set aside. Next prepare the veg, first wash the pepper and celery in cold water and dry on paper towels. Chop and place in a small bowl. Gently wash the mushrooms, chop and set aside in a small bowl.

Heat the skillet to medium and add the olive oil and let the oil heat for about 3 minutes. Add the minced onion and garlic and stir fry for between 5-10 minutes. Add the beef and stir fry for about a minute per side. Remove everything from the pan into a medium bowl and set aside for a minute. Return the skillet to the stove top and add the celery and green pepper mix and the mushrooms. Stir fry for about 5-10 minutes Return the beef mixture to the pan and add the stir fry sauce. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly and is bubbling. Serve over noodles or rice and garnish with fresh chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Are you currently experiencing a heat wave? I am currently experiencing a heat wave and it is pretty much killing me. I dislike cold plate dinners, or sandwiches, or any of those typical hot day meals. So I need to get a little bit creative and cook using only the microwave, or stove top, or slow cooker. Something quick and easy that doesn't take too much work because I do not have the energy in this heat to bear it.

So I was an excellent little lady to my man and instead of calling it quits and getting take out tonight for supper I made a quick peppered steak simmer-stir fry dish. I tend to like my veg pretty well cooked so I throw it all in the skillet and let it simmer for about 40 minutes over low heat. Or you can also prepare this like a traditional stir fry. I'll put both ways down in the instructions so the choice is yours. The low and slow simmer method is the one my father used to use when he made this for supper. This is also pretty much the only meal inspired by my father. The man tries but he can no cook. So this is his peppered steak stir fry re-done according to my new grown up tastes.

My father always served his with rice and when we weren't in the middle of a giant heat wave also with garlic bread. Which is not traditionally served with stir-fry but it works really well with this recipe. I served this tonight with seasoned hutong noodles, and it was also delightful.



Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Spicy Mexican Beef ( for Tacos or Nachos!)

Since I finally got an excellent taco seasoning blend recipe that I enjoy, I figure that I may as well also share my tips and tricks for making spicy Mexican beef for filling tacos or topping nachos. I usually only make this with ground beef, but I have done with ground chicken as well and all I really change is that I add just a touch less of my seasoning blend to the chicken.

Speaking of the taco seasoning, you'll want to check out my recipe for that so click here to see it.

Oh, I should also mention that these aren't really authentic Mexican tacos, since I have never been to Mexico and I haven't eaten at an authentic Mexican restaurant. But regardless of my lack of knowledge of Mexican cuisine this is a recipe I have been tweaking for a few years now and it really is a crowd pleaser.

So when you finish making this recipe there are still several options open to you, you can use the spicy meat to fill tacos, along with some lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, cheese, green onion etc.

Or you can layer the meat in with nachos and your favorite nacho toppings.

Or you could make a Mexican pie, layering the meat in a casserole dish with layers of sour cream, a layer of cheese, a layer of mixed veggies (like corn, tomatoes, peppers, etc), and large round tortilla wraps. Do several thin layer of each following the order, and bake the pie at 350C for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let it set for 10 minutes after baking, and cut like a pie to serve.

 You can also just layer the meat with layers of sour cream, cheese, and veg in a deep dish style pie pan, bake until the cheese melts and serve as a dip with tortilla chips.

Not bad really, one easy spice blend to make, and one recipe for spicy Mexican beef can add up to four or five different meal or snack options. Love a good multi-use recipe. I also sometimes freeze my left over taco meat so the wonderful man in my life can make himself a nacho snack or taco supper while I am away at work. Reheats very well and keeps its flavor.

Oh this recipe also calls for fresh jalapeno pepper. I recommend either wearing gloves or hiding your hands in a ziplock bag. Because the pepper is full of capsaicin which is what gives pepper their heat, but it will also cause a burning sensation for some people on their skin. The reason I wear gloves or ziplock baggies when handling the peppers is because I am terrified that I will go from touching the peppers and then touch my eyeball or somewhere equally sensitive. So be smart and wash your hands after you handle the jalapeno pepper, and wash the cutting board so you don't accidentally get capsaicin in your eyes later on.

Spicy Mexican Beef

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Pound ground beef
1 White onion, finely minced, or pulsed in a food processor (about 2/3 of a cups worth)
3 Cloves garlic,  finely minced, or pulsed in a food processor
1 Red pepper,  finely minced, or pulsed in a food processor
1 or 2 Fresh jalapeno peppers,  finely minced, or pulsed in a food processor
1 Green pepper,  finely minced, or pulsed in a food processor
2 1/2 Tablespoons Taco seasoning mix or more for extra spice
2/3 Cup water

Instructions:

In a large wok or high walled skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Add the ground beef and scramble cook until beef is cooked and no longer pink.

Drain the fat from the beef if there is any, and add the red pepper, the jalapeno peppers, and the green pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the water and the taco seasoning blend and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Taste the beef for spice level. If it needs more add about 1/2- 2/3 of a tablespoon more of the spice blend, stir and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Taste again and adjust as needed until satisfied with the flavor. The meat is ready for tacos or nachos now!

Enjoy!

Home Made Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

6 Parts chili powder*
1 Part garlic powder
1 Part onion powder
1 Part red chili peppers*
1 Part dry oregano
1 Part paprika*
3 Parts ground cumin*
1 Part kosher salt, or normal salt
1 Part ground black pepper

*These are the spices that will make it taste spicy, so you can adjust those amounts to suit your tastes.

Instructions:

Measure out all the ingredients into a small bowl, whisk together gently. Use about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the seasoning mixture per pound of meat. More if you want a little more kick, less if you don't. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Enjoy!

Notes:

I haven't used a package of taco seasoning in probably well over three years now. I never really liked the flavor that they gave anyways really. So since my lovely wonderful fiance loves tacos to an unreasonable extent I obviously had to find a way to make taco seasoning of my own, that I also liked the taste of. But with several attempts to get the taste just right, I finally feel like I have a recipe that has excellent flavor, and best part is that it makes use of spices that I already had in the cupboard. Love it when things work out that easily.

Oh I nearly forgot I am going to write this recipe down as a ratio. Meaning that all you need to do is pick one measuring device, like for instance a tablespoon, and measure out the ingredient the number of times the recipe indicates.

Example Ratio Recipe:

3 parts soy sauce
2 part water
1 part sesame seeds
1 part garlic powder

Meaning that for this made up recipe (that is the start of a dumpling sauce) if using a table spoon measure you would measure out 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and garlic.

Why am I making things so difficult? Because this way you can decide how much of the recipe you want to make. Need a little bit to just make enough for 1 pound of ground beef (or chicken) then I might something as small as a 1/2 or 1/4 teaspoon measure. Want to make a whole lot at once so you can store it in an airtight container for easy use later? Well then 1 tablespoon as the base measure will yield about a cup of prepared seasoning. Or a using a 1/4 cup measure would yield nearly 4 cups of prepared seasoning, which is an awful lot but the choice is yours. I only use the 1/4 cup measure when I am gearing up for Christmas and plan to give away some home made gifts that year.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Berry Trifle

Because sometimes, chocolate just isn't what I want. I like to use a combination of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Nice variety of colors and they go well together flavor wise. Or just strawberries is also a good choice. Also I am not a huge lemon fan, so when I make this one I use vanilla pudding. But most people aren't me and the world at large seems to like lemon. To garnish it I sometimes make a recipe of raspberry sauce and drizzle it over the top layer.

Berry Trifle

Ingredients:

2 Cups mixed berries
1 White sponge cake, or angel food cake
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lime
1 Tub Cool Whip or two cups whipped cream
2 Cups lemon or vanilla pudding (your own recipe or the box mix will work, I use the box)

Instructions:

Prepare the cake, cool and crumble the cool cake in a large bowl, set aside.

Prepare the pudding and let chill in fridge. Zest the lemon and the lime and mix the zest into the defrosted tub of cool whip or whipped cream. Rinse and wash the berries if they are fresh or defrost and drain frozen.

Next its a matter of deciding if you want to make it in individual cups, like a disposable plastic wine glass, or in a large trifle bowl. If doing individual only do one layer of each in the order I have below. If making it in a large trifle bowl do several thin layers following the order below. Finish the top of the trifles with either a curl of lemon or lime, a bit of fresh zest, fresh berries or a berry sauce of your choice.

Order to follow:

Crumbled cake
Pudding
Berries
Cool whip or whipped cream

Final layer should be whipped cream with some garnish.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Trifle

Chocolate Trifle

Ingredients:


1 Chocolate cake
1 Cup coffee
2 Cups chocolate pudding
1/2 - 1 Cup Skor chips
1/2 -1 Cup Chocolate shavings
Defrosted Cool Whip, check your package for how long that should take. You can use fresh whipped cream instead of cool whip but I find the cool whip does a better job holding everything together.

Instructions:

You can either make this dessert in individual serving cups or in one large trifle dish. If you do individual cups only do one layer of each. If preparing it in a the large trifle bowl, do several repetitions of the layers in order. Finishing with cool whip and chocolate shavings on top.

Prepare the pudding, chocolate cake, coffee, and allow the cool whip to defrost or make the whipped cream. place the cake in a large bowl crumble the chocolate cake. Once crumbled pour the cup of coffee over the cake bits and stir again to mix.

Layer the dessert in the following order:
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Pudding
Skor bits
Cool Whip
Chocolate shavings

So basically just keep following that layer order and you can't go wrong.

Enjoy!

Notes:

When I was twelve, my class was going on a really big field trip with a ferry crossing and and everything required. To fund raise for this trip everyone in my grade six class had to help put together a pot luck dinner for the teachers of our school, they would pay a "donation" and eat reasonably well for one day. I was charged with creating a dessert for the pot luck and instead of just getting my mom to make or buy something I decided I would make something myself. My mom suggested I try making a trifle, since it is easy to make, impressive to see and awesome to eat.

It was a smash success at the potluck and my first attempt at making a fancy dessert. So since this was the first fancy dessert recipe I ever pulled off this is definitely one for the easy category. Especially since there are a lot of short cuts you can take with this one. All that a trifle is, is layers of other dessert like things all served at once. So in the chocolate trifle you can either make a fresh chocolate cake, from scratch or get a chocolate cake mix from the store. Or even just buy an unfrosted chocolate cake from the grocery store, although you may need to call ahead to get one that is still unfrosted. This recipe also calls for chocolate pudding. You could make chocolate pudding from scratch but I usually just get the jello box package and make that. It literally only takes 2 minutes to make the box of pudding verses over 10 minutes actually cooking the pudding and then waiting for it to chill for an hour. Plus I haven't ever tried to make pudding from scratch so I am really not sure how it would work out. Maybe I'll try it sometime soon. Finally the skor bits can either be from smashed skor chocolate bars, or a baking package of the chips, or the chips from bulk barn, and the chocolate shavings can be made by grating a milk chocolate bar over a cheese grater, or pulsed in a food processor. Alrighty I think that about covers the need to know bits. Let's get to it.

White Wine Sangria

It's my birthday soon! Which means time for a summer party. My new favorite summer drink is a white wine sangria, it is light and fruity and delicious, plus it also has a lot of boozey fruit which will make a nice snack after the drink is gone but the party remains. Boozey fruit is awesome in the summer time. So this is how i made mine, it was awesome according to my opinion and my party guests that night. So I am pretty confident that it will be a successful addition to almost any party this summer. And all the summers after.

White Wine Sangria

Ingredients:

1 750ml bottle of riesling white wine.
2/3 Cups white sugar
3 oz Brandy (3 shots)
1 Orange
1 Tangerine
1 Lemon
1 Lime
2 Mini sized cucumbers, or about half an English cucumber
Some other assorted fruit like berries, water melon, grapes etc
1 Can ginger ale
1 Can club soda

Instructions:

The night before ideally, in a large punch bowl or juice pitcher mix together the wine, sugar and brandy. Whisking until the sugar dissolves. Slice all the fruit into thin slices or small pieces and add to the liquor mix. Chill over night. Just before serving add the ginger ale and club soda and stir to mix. Keep it chilled and serve with ice.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Herb Roasted Taters

Sometimes you are torn between wanting a nice french fry and being a bit more fancy. Step up the Herb Roasted Taters! Home made, with olive oil and fresh herbs, slow roasted in the oven to give  a crisp outer shell and soft inner potato goodness. I serve this one to my friends probably 3 times a month and it is always a favorite. So start slicing some potatoes and get ready to show off your culinary skills to your friends.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients: (for 4 servings)

About 6 russet or red skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean
Water bath with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh minced basil
1 Tablespoon fresh minced parsley
1/2 Teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 Teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F, and use cooking spray to grease a large baking sheet, or cover with parchment paper.

Slice the potatoes into either french fry or tater shapes and transfer the cut pieces into the water bath to soak for at least 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes drain and dry the cut potatoes and transfer to large dry bowl.

Add the olive oil, basil, parsley, marjoram, coriander seed, salt, pepper, garlic and onion to the cut potatoes. Next use your hands to turn the potato pieces to coat them with the olive oil and seasonings. Once the potatoes are coated turn them out onto the prepared baking sheet and shake to evenly distribute.

Place in preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, turn the potatoes, and return to oven for about another 20 minutes. Keeping a close eye on the potatoes so they so not over cook. Once they are getting a nice crisp shell and a bit of brown coloring they are ready to eat.

You can also substitute other herbs into the recipe, for example switching out the basil for rosemary, thyme, oregano, or another herbs of your choice.

Enjoy!

Not your mother's Tempura Batter

I am a sucker for deep fried anything. Especially if it happens to have a crispy batter on it. However it's not really a wise idea to be buying deep fried take out all the time, especially since sometimes takeout loses it's fresh crunch and gets soggy. Soggy batter is no one's favorite.

So I am going to have my basic tempura batter recipe here, and a few variations to spice up different meals. The basic batter is great for making vegetable tempura, or fish or chicken balls that are going to be served with a sweet and sour or cherry sauce. The lemon pepper tempura goes lovely with cod or any other white fish fillet, and the beer batter tempura is excellent for making onion rings, chicken, or fish. So here we go!

Tempura Batter

Basic

Excellent for making home made Chinese chicken balls, or tempura shrimp/veggies

Ingredients:

1 Cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
2 Tablespoons corn starch**
1 Cup ice cold water, or soda water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

**If you don't have corn starch simply add in an extra 2 tablespoons of flour

Lemon Pepper Tempura

Great on fish fillets like cod or haddock

Ingredients:

1 Cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons corn starch
3/4 Cup ice water
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Beer Batter Tempura

Also great for fish or chicken

Ingredients:

1 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon flour
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 Cup ice cold beer, ideally not a "light" beer (you go ahead and drink the rest of it)
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 egg

Instructions:

So no matter which type of batter you plan on making there are only a few simple rules when making a tempura. First preheat the oil for frying and prepare whatever you are battering before starting to make the tempura. Tempura works best when it is made immediately before being used.

Next measure out the liquid portion, including the egg, of the recipe into a medium bowl, in a separate small bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the dry over the bowl of liquid and whisk to mix. The batter should be similar to a pancake batter, a little runny, maybe a few lumps. If the batter is too thick, thin it out with water, if it is too thin whisk in another teaspoon or so of flour until it is the right consistency.  Keep the mixed tempura bowl set in an icebath to keep it really cold. A cold batter is a crispy batter once it hits the oil.

Finally dredge what ever you are going to cook in a thin layer of flour, drop the flour coated item into the tempura batter and turn to coat.  Carefully lower the battered item into the fryer, being extra careful not to splash the oil and burn yourself. Follow your fryer's instructions for cooking your fish, chicken or veg.

Enjoy!

Ps Club soda or ice water work best, club soda tends to make the batter a little more crunchy.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Herb Steak Rub and Grilling a Steak

I am a true blue carnivore. I love me a big juicy rare steak. I usually don't even need much in the way of seasoning, the meat tastes awesome to me just as is when it is a good quality cut of steak and cooked to perfection. I actually was mistaken for a vegetarian once by a good friend, apparently I had only brought out of meat free cooking for a while and he came over one night to see me chowing down on a big bloody cut of  blue-rare steak.  Needless to say the image was a bit shocking but I have't been mistaken for a vegetarian since.

So as a lady who loves her steak, here is my perfected herb steak rub, which can also work as a marinade depending on what your plans are. I am also going to list my steps to making a perfect steak so you can impress your friends with your steak skills.

Herb Steak Rub 

For 2-3 nice sized strip loins

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Teaspoons basil
1 Teaspoon garlic
1 Teaspoon pepper
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon marjoram
1 Teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 Teaspoon onion powder

Instructions:

In a small bowl mix together all of the ingredients and set aside.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper and if you like a bit of meat tenderizer.  However only use the meat tenderizer if you are going to cook the steaks within a short time, or else the meat will start to break down too much and the texture wont be as good when it is cooked.

Next either transfer the herb rub  to a large plastic bag with the steaks, turning to coat evenly, or simply rub the herb mixture onto each side of the steaks.

Allow the mixture to settle into the steak for at least 15 minutes.  The steak is now ready to grill.

Grilling a steak:

Allow the steak to come up from fridge temperatures, the 15 minutes of settling is an excellent amount of time to achieve this.  While the steak is warming up, heat up the grill to a nice medium heat setting. Careful with the temperature you want it to be hot enough to sear the outside, but no so hot as to char the meat.

When the grill is ready, put the steaks on and cook for about 4 minutes a side.  After cooking for minutes a side, check for doneness with a meat thermometer. If you don't have a meat thermometer on hand there are a few tricks to use when trying to cook a steak.

1) When the blood begins to start pooling on the top of the steak, the steak has reached a medium doneness
2) When oil/fat begins to pool the steak is well done, or overcooked in my books
3) A steak of about medium-rare doneness should be about as firm as the ball of your palm, underneath the thumb. So poke your hand, poke the steak and compare.

Enjoy!

Fried Pepperoni with Spicy Mustard or Honey Mustard Sauce

I was born and raised in Nova Scotia and this is our choice drinking snack when sitting out on a deck at a pub. It is tasty and delightful and pairs so perfectly with many different kinds of beer. This is also a stupid easy recipe to make, and because it is such a local tradition if you aren't from Nova Scotia chances are that you have never had fried pepperonis. So whip this one up for some friends next time you are enjoying some sunshine and beer on a deck.

Fried Pepperoni with Spicy Mustard Dip

Ingredients:

About 200 - 300 grams sliced pepperoni, I like a medium heat one personally
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard (Or a fancy mustard of your choice)
2 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 Teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

In a small bowl mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, and cayenne pepper. If using your mixing bowl to serve the dip simply sprinkle the paprika over the top and it's ready, or transfer to your choice dip dish and then sprinkle the paprika over the top.

Next heat a frying pan to medium heat and toss in the sliced pepperoni.  Gently fry the pepperoni until the natural oils begin to come out and the pepperoni is just getting a nice light sear on each side.

You want the pepperoni to be heated through, have the oils running, and just a light touch of color on each side.  When the pepperoni is ready, transfer to a paper lined dish and serve immediately with toothpicks and the spicy mustard dip.

Or if you have a deep fryer and don't give a fig about the extra calories you can heat the deep fryer to a medium heat and deep fry the sliced pepperoni for about a minute. It seriously takes no time to make this.

If more spicy isn't your thing you can also make a honey mustard sauce instead. Just follow the recipe below and mix it all together.

Honey Mustard Sauce

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise(Optional, I sometimes just use honey and mustard to make this)
1-2 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 minced garlic cloves

Enjoy!

Herb and Citrus Chicken

Chicken is a meat that can get pretty boring pretty quick. It doesn't have a whole lot of natural flavor, and can dry out super easily making it nearly inedible. However I know more than one way to cook a chicken! This is a new recipe I have been tweaking on my own to make a really nice flavorful chicken that doesn't feel too heavy for the summer. Since no one wants to eat a giant roast chicken dinner in the summer it's time to be creative.

This is my version of a citrus chicken with herbs that has a really nice punch of flavor and goes excellent with a fresh summer salad with raspberry vinaigrette or roasted corn on the cob. You can also either roast this in the oven or on a grill depending on what kind of cooking mood you are in.

Herb and Citrus Chicken

Ingredients:

4 Skin on, bone in chicken breasts, or a whole chicken butchered into four parts
2-3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
2-3 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely minced
1-2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely minced
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
2 Teaspoons ground pepper
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 Teaspoons garlic powder
Zest from one Lemon
Zest from one Lime
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1/2 Lime
The other lemon and lime halves will also be used

1 Quick Chicken Brine recipe

Instructions:

Prepare the brine mixture, and soak the chicken pieces for at least 40 minutes but up to 2-3 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and dry with paper towels. Prepare the herb mixture by mixing the butter, basil, oregano, parsley, pepper, salt, garlic, lemon and lime zest and juice. Set aside. Carefully with your fingers separate the chicken skin from the meat creating pockets between the skin and meat. Divide the herb mixture into four equal portions and rub the mixture into the skin pockets on the chicken, coating as evenly as you can.  Gently replace the skin so it covers the meat. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon and lime half over the chicken evenly.

I roasted mine in a low temperature (about 350°F) oven for roughly 45-50 minutes and I had large bone in chicken breasts. Be careful if you choose to use the BBQ, I would wrap the chicken in tinfoil to ensure that none of the juices have a chance to escape. As always I suggest using a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is done, but the choice is yours.

Enjoy!

PS It's October now, and hunting season in Nova Scotia and my little brother was kind enough to get me and my man-friend some fresh partridge. Which I cooked this way, they were awesome!

Especially good since the partridge were pretty much still warm when I started to cook them and my brother cleaned them in the driveway so I knew exactly where my food came from. It was truly an epic meal. Plus my mommy was so happy to see both her children get along even if it was to butcher poultry in her driveway.



Thursday, 4 July 2013

Quick Chicken Brine

If you haven't heard, giving your chicken, or any poultry really for that matter, a soak in some brine  is probably the most delightful things you can do. It ensures the chicken is moist and juicy and you can use the brine to add some extra flavor layers to the meat before even cooking it!

I just tried this recipe for a brine that only takes about 30 minutes (or up to one hour) to really bring out the best in chicken. This is enough for about four boneless chicken breasts, or one whole chicken if you have the right brine vessel. It's pretty much perfect, and I had to this recipe in a place I wouldn't lose it!

Quick Chicken Brine

Ingredients (Basic):

About a liter of water
About 1/2 Cup Kosher salt
About 1/2 Cup Sugar

Instructions:

Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl until dissolved. Add chicken or poultry. Let sit and soak for about 30 minutes or up to about one hour. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry, season and cook as desired!.

To get real fancy with the brine you can add things like coriander, lemon zest, pepper corns, bay leaves, cloves, and other aromatic herbs and spices.

Ps This is a poultry brine more so than just chicken, and I am currently using it for some turkey thighs that I plan to roast tonight. Yummy!! (Edited July 28, 2013)

Enjoy!