Sunday, 29 September 2013

Goodbye Breaking Bad!

I'll miss you, my Monday night dinner and a show wont be the same anymore after you leave.


Blue Buttercream cake, with cream cheese frosting and white sugar crystals.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Regenerating Green Onions

I don't know about you but I certainly go through an awful lot of green onions and since I do not have a yard to have a garden yet or a house to build a sun room onto I needed to find a better way to get more fresh green onion in my house. It is also stupid simple which is of course always excellent.

Regenerating Green Onions:

After cutting the green part off the green onion to use in a delicious recipe, tie the remaining white stems and roots together into a bundle and place in a glass of water in sunshine. Wait a few days until the roots are growing and the green part of the green onion is growing longer. If you like you can just keep it in the water and let it grow hydroponically or transfer into a pot with soil.



Cut off green sections to use as needed. Mine have been growing for about a week in the picture, as long as you keep some water in the glass with the green onion roots you can keep growing fresh green onion for a pretty long while.

Enjoy!

PS mine lasted for about 4 months before they ran out of steam, pretty decent results!

Horseradish Herb Crusted Pot Roast

I wasn't sure if I would like Horseradish but several different foodie places I trust told me that it was a pretty tasty ingredient. So I decided to give this a shot and oh my goodness this might be my new favorite way to prepare a pot roast! It is so simple and has a nice warm spicy goodness to it without being over powering. If you love pot roast, or even prime rib, I suggest giving this a try next time you have a nice cut of beef to roast.

Horseradish Herb Crusted Pot Roast

Ingredients:

1 Small Beef Roast
2 Clove minced garlic
1/4 Cup prepared Horseradish
1 Sprig fresh rosemary or 2 Teaspoons dried
4 Fresh thyme sprigs, or 3 Teaspoons dried
1 Tablespoon pepper
1/4 Cup Olive oil

Mince the fresh herbs and garlic if you are using them. In a small bowl mix everything together and massage it into the beef roast on all sides. Marinade the beef for at least an hour before roasting or up to over night.  Be sure to remove the roast from the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to roast it so it doesn't get heat shock. 

Roast the beef at 350°F to medium rare. Use a meat thermometer! Let rest 15 minutes before carving and slice thinly.

You can also sear the roast on all sides in a hot skillet over medium heat and then roast in the oven to finish. 

Enjoy!

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Could not be easier and since we are into the fall harvest season now is the time for corn on the cob! Get it local and fresh and serve it with salt and butter. Guests will rave over how good it is. Last time I served it to new friends they were crazed by how juicy it was and how much stronger the flavor was.

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Ingredients:

Corn on the cob in husks
water
salt

Special Tools:

Good knife
Tongs

Instructions:

Preheat Oven to 350-400°F, it doesn't matter too much so the corn can be cooked with other things to get them ready in time for dinner. It

Cut off the top portion of the corn on the cob just above where the corn starts to separate the corn silk from the good stuff. Pull as much of the silk off as possible. Place the prepared corn cobs in a water bath and soak for about 10 minutes. If you are in a rush you can just rinse the cobs under some running water and then roast them.

Remove from water and shake off excess. Place into the hot oven and roast until the husks look dried out and yellowed. Between 15-20 minutes.

Remove the corn husks from the oven with tongs or an oven mitt, place onto a cutting board and chop the end off at the stump end, and just at the tip of the silk end. The rest of the husk should just fall off easily now, and the silks should also come off without much effort. Serve hot with salt and butter.

Alternative: BBQ

Cut off the top portion of the corn on the cob just above where the corn starts to separate the corn silk from the good stuff. Pull as much of the silk off as possible. Place the prepared corn cobs in a water bath and soak for about 10 minutes.

Place prepared corn on a grill over low heat. Turn every couple of minutes until the corn husk is getting charred and beginning to peel back, about 10-15 minutes, maybe a little longer.

Carefully remove corn cobs from grill and place onto a cutting board and chop the end off at the stump end, and just at the tip of the silk end. The rest of the husk should just fall off easily now, and the silks should also come off without much effort. Serve hot with salt and butter.

Enjoy!

Beer Bottom Roast Chicken

Beer Bottom Chicken

Ingredients:

1 can of beer, with about 1/5th -1/4 of the beer gone
1 Whole Chicken
Dab of butter

Tin foil

1-2 Clove Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
1 Teaspoon smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon basil
2 Teaspoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Glaze

All the pan drippings
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Special Tools:

Roasting pan
Basting Bulb
Strong Hands

Instructions:

If your oven has two racks, take one out and move the one oven rack left to the lowest level possible.

Preheat oven to 300°F

Lightly mist roasting pan with cooking oil spray.

Prepare the chicken rub in a small bowl by combining the minced garlic, poultry seasoning, paprika, pepper, cayenne pepper, basil, brown sugar, honey, and olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken cavity if they are there, and if there is a neck place it in the roasting pan right next to your beer can that has some missing. The neck will cook down and help make the glaze for later even richer.

Rub the spice blend all over the chicken, seriously all over and under the skin anywhere you can. Also try and get some on the inside of the cavity walls. Use all the spice rub for 6-8 pound chicken. Pick up the chicken with both hands and confidently wedge it down onto the beer can in the roaster. When I was doing it I thought the chicken was down as far as it could go but it was only half way. Make sure it goes all the way down. Dab some butter on the top of the chicken, under the skin at the top, and tops of the wings and legs. Cover the chicken with tin foil and place into oven.

Roast for 40 minutes. Baste. Baste every 30 minutes thereafter until a meat thermometer says it is ready to go. About 2-2.5 hours. If the chicken isn't getting brown take the tin foil off after about 1-1.5 hours and roast till the color improves.

When the chicken is finished cooking, remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes before moving it off the beer can. I wrapped the chicken up in tin foil and used my silicone oven mitts to lift it up off the beer can. Then place it on a plate to rest about 15-20 minutes before carving.

Make the glaze to serve with chicken:

Dump what is left in the beer can into the roaster and transfer to a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat and once boiling add the honey and cider vinegar. Stir often and remove from heat once the sauce starts to thicken and is a rich glaze. Serve over the sliced roasted chicken.

This recipe goes great with roasted corn on the cob and mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Back in the days of university and terrible mall jobs I use to spend a lot of time just walking around bad mall stores and Bed Bath and Beyond I used to see really expensive kits for beer can kitchen with a strange little roasting pan contraption and a spice blend and then you could buy refills of the spice blends to make more chickens. What a racket that nonsense is. I assure you that if you get a standard can of beer and take a healthy gulp, or a few lady like sips, and wedge a standard 6ish pound chicken on it, it will remain standing in your normal chicken roasting pan, without the rack in it if you have one with a rack. But getting the chicken wedged on the beer can is only half of the deal. I also suggest maybe giving your chicken a quick brine, and of course using a spice rub on the poultry before roasting. Normally I would never use any spice blend on chicken that has brown sugar in it, because I am not a huge fan of sweet on meat tastes, but this recipe needs just a pinch of sugar to tone down the spice and help glaze the chicken down.

Also the brine and spice rub aren't needed, you can just roast a chicken whole on the beer can and season it with a Poultry Seasoning, or salt and pepper. But I will suggest that if you aren't using a spice blend that you dust the chicken with just a light touch of flour and of course, dab some butter on the top of the chicken and baste often!

Also this recipe is not for the faint of heart when it comes to raw chicken, you are going to need to touch it and be forceful with it in order to get it wedged far enough on the beer can. It should look like a cute fat little headless man sitting in your roaster. Bad imagery but an apt description.

Home Made Poultry Seasoning (No Salt)

Poultry Seasoning

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons dried rosemary
3 Tablespoons oregano
2 Tablespoons sage
1 Tablespoon Summer Savory or Savory
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 Tablespoons marjoram
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:

Crush the rosemary leaves and then in a medium container with a good seal combine the rest of the spices and herbs, close the lid shake and done!

Examples of ways to use it:


  • Rub all over a whole chicken, or bone on chicken breasts before roasting, dust with flour and dab some soft butter all over. Add a little chicken stock to the roasting pan and baste a few times while cooking for moist, yummy roasted chicken. Bonus chicken stock/pan juices can turn into awesome gravy!
  • Blend some into a 4:1 Panko bread crumb and flour mix to use as a fried chicken coating. Cut chicken into strips or pound flat. In a medium bowl whisk an egg with salt, pepper and garlic, and coat the chicken in the egg, then the bread crumb and flour mix and fry in a medium heat pan, with a thin coating of veg oil for about 5 minutes a side.
  • Use it as a base! Spice it up with crushed chilli flakes, go half and half with the pizza spice or taco seasoning mentioned above to push for either Italian or Mexican flavor in some chicken recipes. 
  • Use it in chicken noodle soup.
  • Use it in some Chinese Chicken Ramen Noodles, with extra ginger and green onion slices.
Enjoy!

Notes:

Sometimes I am lazy. I know, truly shocking to admit that but it is true. On these lazy days I like to have a small hoard of pre-made things on hand so my life is easier. Things like all my proteins and meat separated into portions just right for either my small weekly dinner parties, or for me and the man-friend soon to be husband. But that is only half the game, I still need to actually cook something to eat since lovely man friend cooks with his debit card or a cereal bowl. So I also have on hand; Pizza SpiceTaco Seasoning, and now Poultry Seasoning! Extra bonus, no salt so I don't even have to pretend to feel bad when I cook the chicken with butter. Basically this is just a nice herb and spice blend to add some flavor and act as a base for most simple chicken recipes.

Parmesan Zucchini Chips

I mean it when I say I love chips in all their shapes and forms.

These are awesome by the way. I don't often like zucchini, but the crunchy shell, sweet baked zucchini and awesome taste of Parmesan cheese and olive oil is delightful. I made them as a vegetable side for my last fancy roasted chicken dinner.

Parmesan Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

1 Zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
Olive oil
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, fresh shredded is best but the powdered kind will also work
1/4 Cup Panko bread crumb
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F and prepare a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.

Toss the zucchini rounds in olive oil, set aside. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.  Working with one at a time, press each side of the zucchini rounds into the cheese and bread crumb mix. Place coated rounds in one layer onto the baking sheet. Repeat with all the rounds.

Bake the prepared rounds for 20-25 minutes or until they are a nice roasted brown color. Serve right away for best results.

Enjoy!

Fresh Garlic Bulbs, How to Tips

So my mother was an excellent cook, she knew how to roast and make some pretty decent meals, but dessert is where she really shined and it wasn't until I had moved out and lived with some more cultured people that I learned most of my savory cooking skills.

One of my favorite lessons was when my friend tried to show me for the first time how to use fresh garlic.  She started by telling me how to peel the garlic and her tip was to put a large flat knife over the garlic bulb and smash it with the heel of my hand so the husk around the garlic would split and the garlic flesh would be easy to get at. Well I followed her instructions, but I spent my childhood raised in a legit Nova Scotian Trailer Park, and when people say smash something, I tend to think that near full force is required. So when I "smashed" my garlic clove, I created some awesome garlic paste as I smashed the whole thing. But live and learn!

So here is a dandy guide to fresh garlic, in case someone other than me was raised a bit on the sheltered foodie side of life. I will also include examples of other ways I stuffed up with fresh garlic, because I find that knowing other peoples mistakes makes me both feel better and remember better.

Fresh Garlic, How to Guide

1) Store fresh garlic in a terracotta un-glazed ceramic dish. I have one that was meant to be a candle holder and is shaped like a chicken. I love him.

But WHY? Shouldn't I keep it in the fridge so it lasts longer?

Nope! If you keep garlic in the fridge several things can happen, the garlic can dry out and lose its flavor. This is bad for you because it means that flavor and aromatic hydrocarbons that started in the garlic have left it, so the garlic clove wont have as much flavor anymore. This also means that the smell from the garlic is now in everything else in your fridge. Like your milk, eggs, or butter and that is not pleasant.

2) Do not cover fresh chopped garlic with tin foil.

Why ever not?

Well, one time I thought I would be fancy and try and celebrate my then future fiance's culture and heritage, which is British. So I made a baked chicken leg dish and a potato and leek pie which called for some fresh onion slices and minced garlic on top. So me being me and wanting to be on top of everything I made the potato and leek pie the night before like my recipe said I could, and then covered it with tin foil until ready to bake. Like I do with most things I make ahead to bake later.

What went wrong?

Garlic turns blue when it comes in contact with some oxidizing materials, like tin foil. So my fancy, culture and heritage celebrating pie that was supposed to have a beautiful golden brown crust on top, had some golden brown hues, but also a lot of weird blue-green coloring. Blue-green is not my favorite color to eat. So that is what went wrong, and why I never made it again, and why there isn't a recipe for leek and potato pie here.

3) How should I peel the husk off a clove of garlic?

I now pluck the clove I want to use off the garlic bulb, peel away any loose husk, and then using the heel of my hand and placing the garlic clove on the counter so it is curved like a rainbow over the counter and press firmly but slowly with hand until I hear the tough bottom of the husk split. Then I just peel out the clove and we are good to go.

4) How should I incorporate fresh garlic into recipes?

If it is just going into a stock or being fried off, slicing the cloves is fine, but if it is going into a recipe and the flavor needs to disperse better than I usually use a really fine cheese grater and grate the garlic into the recipe. One average clove is about equal to about teaspoon of garlic powder. If you have colossal or elephant garlic you might need to adjust a bit, since those cloves are huge.

Also try and chop the garlic as close to cooking as possible, the flavor will get lost to the air if it cut too far from cooking time. Also the more garlic flavor you want, the smaller your chop should be. Hence why I usually use a fine zester or grater.

5) Gross! Now my hands reek of garlic! How do I fix that?

If you have a stainless steel sink, then rub your smelly garlic hands all over it to neutralize the garlic smell. Then wash with soap and water. Failing that rinse your hands with vinegar and then wash them and the smell should be nearly gone.

Enjoy!

Cheating Cooks Baked (But Fried-Tasting) Chips

Baked - But Fried Tasting Chips

Ingredients:

Potatoes, cut into fry or tater shapes
2-3 Tablespoons white vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
salt
Cooking spray oil

Parchment paper** Because baked fries like to stick to ANY kind of pan, the parchment paper is needed to ensure we get a crisp shell on the outside.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F-400°F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking oil spray.

Be swift and cut the desired amount of potatoes for your fries, do not cover them with water or anything until they are all cut and in a large bowl together. Splash the white vinegar over all of the potato fries in the bowl and toss for several minutes with your hands so all the potatoes are covered with the vinegar evenly and your hands reek of vinegar. Wash your hands and hope the vinegar smell fades, and then add the olive oil to your bowl and toss again until all the potatoes are covered evenly. Pour the potatoes out of the bowl and onto the prepared pan with parchment.

Season the fries with some salt and any other spices or herbs you might want. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turn over the fries and bake for another 20-25 minutes. This is the point when my fries were done but I had done a pretty standard small straight cut fry. If you did a thicker cut or a tater style yours might still need some time baking, just be sure to turn the fries/taters around every 15-20 minutes or so after this and check on them often.

Fries are ready when they have a crisp golden brown shell and look too yummy to resist any longer.

Enjoy!

Ps: March 2014, Switching out white vinegar for a nice cider vinegar gives the fries a really nice extra flavor. Soon to be husband loved them.

Notes:

I think this has come up more than once before but I seriously love potatoes, especially potatoes prepared in a way that is devastatingly bad for you. Like deep fried french fries or taters. Which isn't very good for me since deep frying can add a heaping amount of empty calories.

So what is a girl to do? Goodness knows I wont be cutting out my favorite snacks and foods because that is just no way to live. Instead I've been trying to find a healthier way to get the fried potato experience, last night I think I got it figured out.

So for those nights when you want a deep fried french fry, or the morning when you need a poutine to save your soul but can't bring yourself to leave the house I have Cheating Cooks Baked-Fried Chips!

I am a Nova Scotian Raised Irish-Scottish peasant kind of girl and I prefer my home made fries made with the skin and all. To leave the skin on safely I have a lovely little hedgehog brush, with medium-stiff plastic bristles, and all that is needed is a quick through scrubbing all over to remove any dirt and loose flaky skin. Also be sure to scrape off any eyes, and cut off any discolored, or damaged parts of the potato. Remember the potato is still a good potato as long as it is firm, the discoloring can be caused by a bruise, or a cut or even just sun exposure, if there is a blemish that goes through the skin and into the flesh just cut out the discolored parts, as these nooks and crannies in the moist flesh can harbor some bacteria. Potatoes are a low risk food, but always better to be safer, so says captain safety, who is me.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Meatloaf with Sweet and Spicy Glaze

Meatloaf with Sweet and Spicy Glaze

Sweet and Spicy Glaze

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 Cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

In a small bowl whisk all ingredients together until evenly combined and set aside.

Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1.5 Pounds ground beef
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon allspice
1 Egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 Tablespoons basil
Salt and Pepper to season
About 8 butter flavored crackers, crushed to crumbs
about 1/2-3/4 Cup bread crumb

Instructions:

Heat a small skillet over medium heat until hot, then melt butter in the pan. Add the finely chopped and minced garlic, onion, and carrot and stir fry cook for about 7 minutes or until onions begin to get soft and carrot starts to cook. Transfer cooked vegetable mixture to a bowl and add the ground beef, season with a bit of salt and pepper and mix well with your hands and set aside.

In another small bowl whisk the egg with the Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, allspice, parsley, and basil. Add the egg and spice mixture to the beef and vegetable mixture and add the crushed crackers and about 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Mix well with your hands.  The meat mixture shouldn't be sticky or overly wet, keep adding a small amount of bread crumbs and mixing well until everything looks to be evenly mixed, and when the mixture is shaped into a loaf it holds together in the right shape.

Transfer the shaped loaf to a greased pan that has at least a 1 inch side on it to catch any fat that will render out of the loaf.

Bake the loaf for 20 minutes at 350°F. After 20 minutes remove the loaf and coat the top of the loaf with the sweet and spicy glaze, reserving some glaze for serving time. Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake for about another 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer says it is good to go.

Once cooked, allow the meatloaf to sit outside the oven for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with potatoes and a green veg with the leftover sweet and spicy glaze as a table condiment.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Because occasionally I start to feel nostalgic and want to feel like a 1950's house wife, but without using the same recipes. I have nothing against most traditional recipes, but my family always made meatloaf with onion soup mix. Which is not worthy of being called a source of food as far as I am concerned. But without onion soup to flavor it, it takes a bit more effort to get a yummy moist meatloaf.

After carefully testing out several different meatloaf recipes over the past year, and deciding they were all pretty bad,I have compiled my own recipe! Filled with the best elements of all the recipes I tried. Basically we need to start by creating layers of flavor in the meatloaf itself, and then to add a little zip so it doesn't just taste like a big meat ball, I made a nice and spicy glaze to be baked on top. I tested this on my skeptical fiance who does not like traditional fare as much as he should and he had two helpings. I consider this a success.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pan Fried Fish Fillets

Pan Fried Fish Fillet

Ingredients: 

Serves two

2-4 Haddock fillets, depending on size
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Stem fresh rosemary or thyme
Salt and Pepper to season
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1/2 Lemon cut into wedges for garnish
1 Teaspoon dry thyme (or rosemary, or dill)
About 3/4 Cups flour
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 -1 Tablespoon butter

Instructions:

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat until a drop of water dropped in the center of the pan sizzles immediately.  Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the stem of rosemary and heat for about another 3 minutes. While the oil is heating and infusing with the rosemary, prepare the fillets. Arrange your work station so that the lightly beaten egg is in a shallow dish large enough to accommodate each fillet, in another shallow dish that can hold the fillets combine the flour, salt and pepper, dry thyme or rosemary, garlic and onion powder. If desired here is where the zest from 1/2 a lemon would also go. Whisk the flour so all the spices are evenly distributed.  Working with one fillet at a time, dunk the fillet in the egg wash, and then dredge the fillet in the flour coating. Place each dredged fillet on a piece of parchment paper for about a minute to let the coating set. Then begin frying.

Carefully place each fillet in the pan, and pan fry for about 3-4 minutes. Carefully turn the fillets and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Drop the butter in the pan and cook each side an additional 1/2-1 minute in the butter. Check that the fillets are cooked either with a thermometer or by checking to see if the fish is starting to flake when opened with a fork.

Enjoy!!

Notes:

As a proud Nova Scotian by birth I prefer to use this recipe with a lovely haddock fillet, but since I moved to the little rock island of Newfoundland I have discovered that this recipe works equally as well with a lovely cod fillet.

There are also a few nice little tricks to use when doing a pan fried fish. First never ever crowd the pan, the fish needs space to cook evenly. Second fish is a delicate protein, fish spend their whole lives in water and water gives a lot more support than air, so the protein itself is so much more delicate than chicken or pork. This makes it difficult to turn the fish over in the pan. So you will need a nice wide spatula, and in an ideal world it would be one with a smooth and really thin edge so it can nudge under the fillet easily. Don't use the spatula you let your boy friend use and he melted the edges down into the shape of your bbq grill for fish basically. Finally don't drown the pan in oil, pan fried fish should have a nice light flavor to it, without tasting like it was deep fried. Pan fried is the lighter version of fish an chips.

Some other little tidbits, I like to finish the fish with about 1/2 tablespoon of butter at the end just to add some extra flavor, but that is a skipable step, the fish is delicious without the butter as well. Also feel free to get creative with the spices used, my standby spice blend for fish is salt, pepper, garlic, onion, with rosemary or thyme as the herb note. But some lemon zest in the coating is also awesome, and while I do not enjoy the taste of dill, some dill weed instead of the rosemary of thyme is something others really enjoy. Sometimes I also do half flour and half panko style bread crumb as my coating for a crunchier finish.

So let us get this fish fry started!