Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coq Au Vin

Magnus has had a strong strong urge to make coq au vin for a while now. He found a place in town that sells good quality capons as well, so it was going to be a full on authentic coq au vin...I was willing to supply the wine (my Dad makes it and keeps me well stocked) and space as a good excuse to get together over the holidays and make yummy food.
I admit to knowing little about coq au vin...I thought it involved cocoa somehow and was completely uninterested until I heard it was mainly poultry slow cooked in wine and spices. THAT I can get into :)

So, yeah...Coq au vin day was the 27th. Magnus arrived, with capon and we began the elaborate's what we did:

First off, the ingredients:
~1 1/2 bottles of red wine (thanks Dad!)
15 baby carrots
1 white onion coarsely chopped
12 pearl onions
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
~ 1/2 c walnuts, crushed up
4 cloves garlic, crushed
~1 T thyme (called for 6 sprigs fresh but we couldn't get any)
1 bay leaf
~1 T sage ( fresh stuff to be found)
1 25 Lb capon, cut up into 8 pieces.
5 T butter
12 ounces large mushrooms, quartered (mix of oyster, crimini and white)
4 bacon slices, chopped + 6 cubes of prosciutto fat
vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups Port (again, thanks Dad!)
2 T flour and some cornstarch

While marinading the bird in the wine, we cooked the pearl onions in pot of boiling salted water 3 minutes, then drained and peeled them. Then we melted 3 tablespoons butter and added the pearl onions, some garlic and mushrooms and sauteed until mushrooms were tender, about 10 minutes, and put them aside. In the same pan, we then sauteed the bacon and fat cubes and sauteed until brown and crisp and put them on paper towel to drain. We then sauteed the walnuts and celery for ~ 5 minutes in come of the bacon fat and set aside, saving a bit of the bacon fat. (mmm...bacon fat)

We transferred the bird with tongs onto a cookie sheet and brushed with the bacon fat and added salt and pepper and reserved the marinade. We then broiled the bird, flipping half way through, until it was all brown and crispy on the outside, instead of trying to brown it in a skillet on the stove...there was just too much bird! We then put the marinade into a dutch oven and then brought it to a boil, adding the bird to it, along with the white onion, carrots and and most of the walnuts and celery and garlic. We reduced the heat and simmered uncovered until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes (turning the pieces occasionally).

We removed the meat and saved the cooking liquid, setting the bird aside. We strained out the veggies in there and then returned the liquid to pot, added the port and brought it to a boil. We mixed melted butter and flour together and added it to the liquid to thicken it (and used a bit of cornstarch and water too to get it a bit thicker). We let it boil lightly over medium heat for ~ 15 minutes until the sauce thickened. Then we returned the capon to the pot and added the pearl onions and sauteed mushrooms, bacon and celery and walnuts. We let it all simmer until it was heated through and the flavour had a chance to blend together - about 15 minutes.

While this was going on, I had the bread robot making some cheddar beer bread. I also steamed up some asparagus, and made some nicely oven roasted baby potatoes with peppers, onions and some fresh herbs to go with it...and viola!

It was a lot of work...I personally would modify it and use chicken breasts and more herbs, but for a first jaunt into french obscure cuisine - I gotta say. This was top notch.
Yes...well done everyone. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The one and only Mizfit inspires me with her fitness thoughts and ideas, and especially the example she sets with her family - she's all about being real and caring about the things that really matter to me as well. She happens to be Jewish, and was talking about making challah bread with her daughter in a recent post...and it got me thinking that I hadn't had challah in years and years...mostly as it takes a lot of kneading to get it right. I read up a bit on the tradition of challah, and I really like the idea and the attitude that goes into making challah weekly for your family to enjoy together on shabbat. My friend Eleanor used to make it and it was yummy. I don't like kneading bread so I've never tried.
If you've never had challah, it's a slightly sweet, rich, eggy bread, often made with poppy seeds. Depending on the time of year it's formed into various shapes.

Now that I have a bread maker -Bwaha! No kneading for me :)
So I thought, hey, why not try it out?

I found a simple challah recipe that would work in a breadmaker and I tossed the following ingredients into the bread robot on the dough cycle and let it go for 1 and a half hours:

1 cup warm water
21⁄2 teaspoons yeast
2 eggs (whisked together)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups bread flour

Once it was done the dough cycle (manually it would be kneading ~10 minutes, and first rise of about an hour) I divided the recipe in half (it's for 2 smaller loaves) and froze half for another time. The machine was struggling towards the end as it's a thick heavy dough. Glad it was him and not me!
I divided the dough into 3 pieces and rolled them out into log shapes and rolled them in poppy seeds. I wet the ends with water and then made a nice braided bread and let it rise for about 40 minutes. Then it was baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees...and voila!

It was delicious. I will definitely make it again. J and I loved it just the way it was. It was delicious...we went through a whole loaf by the next afternoon...!

I put it on the baking stone to rise and bake, but I think next time I'll just put it on a cookie sheet, as the bottom could have used a bit more browning. Apparently you can add nuts or sun dried tomatoesto this recipe and it works great. I look forward to more bread experiments.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken: Two Different Meals

Chicken stew for all! I was watching Chef at home and saw that he had served a chicken and mushroom stew. I missed what he did but I figured I am capable enough to figure out my own stew.
I browned six chicken thighs in one pan and caramelized onions in the other. I lay green onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms in the bottom of a large pot along with the herbs parsley, savory rosemary and thyme. (sage went on vacation) Once browned the chicken was laid on top and I filled it with water to about an inch and half over the chicken.
Once it came to a boil I added in around 1/2 cup of corn meal (yup, polenta again) and some black pepper. I let that cook for a couple of hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. I also added in 2 ounces of bourbon. I am not sure how it affected the flavour of the stew in one's mouth, but it did loan an aromatic quality, and seeing as how it is made from corn it would match up nicely with the corn meal I would expect.
The fist nights serving was overly peppery, but it seemed to become more tame with each meal. The flavour improved and was the best on day four. I tore up some multi grain bread and served the stew over top. Mmmmmm.

Last Night I made a roast chicken. The Bulk Cheese Warehouse sells free range birds and they are delicious. I decided to make it a warm up to when I prepare Coq au Vin.

The stuffing: I mixed yellow and bue corn meals together and cooked them with some dried kale and mixed in margarine. In a pan I sauteed onions, rosemary, sage and thyme with some hot panchetta and mixedthat into the corn meal and kale. I had enough left over so I had that with carrots and the chicken heart and liver for dinner proper.

The bird: After stuffing the bird withthe corn meal, I poured around 600mL of red wine over top and place in the same herbs I used in the stuffing along with a bay leaf. On top of the that went button mushrooms and a number of pearl onions. I then melted some butter and drizzled it over the top of the chicken and sprinkled pepper over top of that.
I set the oven to broil to brown the skin. I have never actually seen wine burn, but I did last night. It had no affect on the contents - i.e. nothing was burned - and the fire went out when I quickly opened and then closed the oven door. I place a lid on and covered my beautifully browned bird.

The gravy: In a small pot I had water with some salt, pepper, carrots and diced onions and mushrooms. I simmered it for a while with the chicken liver and heart in the pot as well. Eventually I removed the carrots and seared the heart and liver for my dinner. (I prepered the bird for future meals) When the bird was done I cupped out the wine stock and placed it into the gravy stock. To thicken I used blue corn meal (which was more like a course flour) and two and half tblspns of cocoa powder. I cooked that for 20 minutes.

The results: Wow. Great bird, fantastic stuffing and an incredible gravy. The cocoa really makes it and suggest using it with any wine based stock.

- Magnus

Friday, November 20, 2009

Homemade Udon Soup

I love Udon soup. LOVE it. Delicious broth full of veggies and some noodles...and even some shrimp. Fantastic.
Today was a crazy day-I went into work an on my day off and worked all day to finish a proposal paper, and after a bit of emergency cat food shopping (...they had none, poor guys...), I came home and raked the entire back yard - 8 large bags of leaves. I hate raking, but what can you do. So yeah...I wanted good, healthy food as a reward...and I wanted it FAST. I knew I would be hungry after all that.
My husband doesn't like seafood, so whenever he's away, like this weekend, I usually have some. While in the store for cat food I walked by the seafood and saw tiger prawns on sale and stopped dead and thought "oooooh..." (there was some drooling too I admit). So I bought six big ones. I went home and tried to think of all the yummy things that are in Udon soup and put together a homemade version from my head....
And IT WORKED. I admit I want to keep fiddling with it to get away from the packaged noodles and totally get it from scratch...but for now, this will be...well...spectacular.
OH. MY. So good.
It made 1 giant (think meal size japanese soup bowl) noodle bowl of soup.

1 package chicken Ichiban Noodles (the good stuff! )
1/2 t low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 t miso
1/2 t chinese 5 spice
~1/4 t pepper (to taste - it was 6 grinds on the mill)
1 small carrot sliced very thinly
a finger length of celery cut into matchsticks
1/2 small onion cut into very thin slices
1/4 c peas
2 mushrooms sliced thinly
6 tiger prawns, tailes trimmed (precooked)
1 c Japanese cabbage, shredded thinly

I boiled ~3 1/2 c water in a small saucepan. Basically enough liquid to cover everything...not exact measurement or anything. I added the all veggies but the cabbage and all the spices (including the soup spice packet) and boiled them for 2 minutes. I added the noodles and cabbage and cooked for another 3-4 minutes unti lthe noodles were done...and that was it. Seriously. That's it!
I poured it all into the giant bowl and let it cool for a few minutes (OK I admit I added an ice cube because I was STARVING) and then ate the most yummy bowl of homemade soup I've ever ever (ever ever EVER) had.

Ever. :)
Mmmmm....Try it for yourself :)

And the very next day...

OK. I made it again. Yum.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Polenta: A Plea for Consideration

So I was finally able to lay my hands on some actual polenta corn meal. (I found out that early polenta was actually made from chestnut meal! Droooollll...) It is courser than some corn meals on the market but not as course as others I have seen. The Steep Hill Food Co-op carries Red Mills polenta. I had been using the polenta in log form but wanted the authentic experience, and polenta is sadly lacking from the menus of most Italian restaurants. This is a sore oversight I assure you.
I cooked my polenta for about 45 minutes and added in a sauce I made from roma tomatoes, spinach, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, savory and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.
Good Lord this a good meal. I plan to make more traditional polenta in futre - especially if I can ever get my hands on some chesnut meal!

- Magnus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Surprise cookies

While up at the lake at thanksgiving after many weeks of being busy and stressed we had a snowy cloudy day... and I wanted nothing more than to bake something fun and yummy for everyone.
My Mum had an old Canadian Living magazine and in it was a recipe for Peanut Butter SUrprise Cookies. They looked like a bit of fun and so Yukiho (my brother's exchange student) and I happily whiled away an hour making some of the most delicious little cookies I've had in ages. They aren't too tricky and taste heavenly. I'm not even a peanut butter fan and I loved them. I made them with celiac flour so we all could enjoy them and you couldn't tell at all. I tried out the "food" setting on my new camera. The picture does not lie - they were THAT good...1/2 c unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c smooth peanut butter
1 egg
1 T milk or cream
1t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
3 T sugar (for decoration)

For filling:
1/2 c smooth peanut butter
1/4 c butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c icing sugar
1 T cornstarch
32 chocolate chips

First make the filling:
Beat the 1/2 c peanut butter and 1/4 c butter until smooth. Blend in icing sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap, use the wrap to shape the filling into a 1/2" thick log and put in the freezer for 10 minutes. While it's cooling make the cookie dough.

Cookie Dough: Beat the remaining butter, peanut butter, and sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients; stir into butter mixture using a wooden spoon. Mix and chill about 10 minutes in the fridge.

Cookie Assembly: Slice peanut butter log into 32 equal pieces. To make cookies, flatten tablespoons of chocolate dough into thin disks and place a piece of the peanut butter filling in the center. Skooch chocolate dough around peanut butter filling to form a ball. Smooth the edges to seal and roll a bit in your palms gently to round them up. Roll balls in sugar.

Baking: Arrange cookies 1" apart on parchment lined baking sheet (we just had a Bakers Secret pan and it worked fine). Flatten slightly with hands to make them ~1/2 " thick and decorate top with a chocolate chip. Bake in 350° F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on the pan (so they don't fall apart when you take them off) and then transfer to cooling rack or newspaper with a flipper to cool completely.


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Polenta of Champions

I was given a "log" of polenta a little while back but only just got around to cooking it. I have been trying to stay away from commercial tomato sauces and learn to make more "homestyle" sauces from Italy. I doubt this would classify as "homestyle" but it was damn good. I hope to learn to make proper polenta at some point, but for now the log will do.

Preheat a pan with olive oil, place chilies and one star anise and one clove in the oil to simmer. That will get the essential oils from the clove and the star flowing and should an aromatic quality to the olive oil.

- Two roma tomatoes , diced. Romas are fleshier than beefsteak and vine tomatoes.
- One vine tomato for the moisture.
- One half a white onion.
- Two cloves of garlic.
- One handful of chopped walnuts. (I have big hands, btw)

Sautee all this in a pan and pour an ounce of single malt whisky for sweetness. You can blanch the tomatoes first if you want the skins completely off. I add the classic "Italian herbs and spices" at this point - basil, rosemary, oregano and sage. I also added 1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika to the mix, just because it was there. And yes, I added a bit of salt. In another pan I had browned some ground pork and add that into the mixture.
After cooking that for a while I add it into a pan over top of the now cut up polenta and grate parmesan over top. The oven has been preheated to 450. Covering the pan I put the polenta in and set the dial down to 400. I let it cook for an hour and then let it stand for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


One of my goals for this year (Oh I reach high don't I?) was to eat breakfast every day. I never did, and I need to. It bumps my metabolism and (surprise surprise) I'm more alert and happy when I do and not ready to gnaw my arm off by lunch.

I've looked and tried many things and found my favourite quick, filling breakfast to be this: oatmeal with fruit. Don't laugh. Oatmeal gets a bad rap...when you make it up right it can be fantastic. It's good for you, comfortingly warm, healthy and really gives me the energy I need for my day. Oatmeal is full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, potassium and fiber and it's been shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol too. I used to think I had no time for breakfast, but seriously - I realised that with all I do all day, I'm worth getting up 10 minutes earlier. And that's all it takes - it takes less than 10 minutes to make this, and just a few to eat...and it's delicious. I really could eat this every day. Here' s how simple it is:

Boil 1c water and toss in 1/2c wild oats (to me quick oats are sludgy and have no texture) and stir occasionally. Cook 4 minutes. Put in bowl with 1/2 banana sliced or 1/4 c blueberries or strawberries and a tsp of brown sugar and 1/4c 1% milk and there ya go. I like mine with milk, but some people drizzle on maple syrup and skip the milk. Whatever you like...experiment to find your thing. You can toss in cinnamin too...there's so many different ways to have it. This weekend I'm trying a new way -chai oatmeal. Sounds yummy to me. Any way you have it, it's super healthy and full of energy and maybe 250 calories for it all. Keeps you full all morning.

I challenge you to eat breakfast every day. You would not believe the difference it makes :)

image source

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Best sausage in the world

My husband's lovely Aunt brought us some of the sausages of the gods when she last came to visit and we finally enjoyed them last night. She has amazing taste in food, so we have been curious.
Spolumbo's Deli in Calgary makes the most amazing sausages I have ever had. Now I'm not normally a fan of sausage unless it's Mennonite garlic farmer's sausage. I find it to be fatty and less tha flavourful...but this sausage is, for lack of a better phrase, "to die for".
Seriously. you have no idea.
So we had their chicken and apple sausage...grilled to perfection on the BBQ by yours truly, along with some coconut ginger rice and veggies. Light and flavourful...and slightly peppery.
The best sausage.
I've been told they ship and sell across Canada in some stores and deli...I'm looking into anywhere local. J's Aunt went on an on and on about this stuff. Now I know why. The next time J's Aunt comes out to visit I'll be humbly asking them to bring us more sausages. LOTS more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saskatoonberry pie

It's fruit season.

Therefore it is pie season.

Do not argue with the logic of the pie.

The pie must be obeyed...

I'm embarrassed to use an online photo for this (our was way better trust me), but some asshat stole my camera while I was on holidays, so I can't offer you any photos of Magnus' and my pie baking extravaganza on sunday afternoon. He had some saskatoon berries and I inherited some blueberries and had a shwack of peaches from holidays in B.C. so it was indeed time for pie. Magnus had wanted to try a gooseberry pie, but I've never made one and don't know anyone who has and have no recipe to go with, so he kept them for another time...he wanted to learn how to make proper fruit pies. I was happy to show him.

We made my favourite fool proof pie crust recipe which is conveniently enough for 4 pies. I made 2 peach pies, with my same recipe from my peach pie post last year. The remaining crust was free for us to make saskatoon berry and blueberry pies. I made the blueberry pie the same as the saskatoon berry one, as the regular recipe I have from my Mum is for wild berries, and I wanted to try something new. Usually I'm not too much a fan of saskatoon berries as they are rather seedy, but having never actually made one before I had to try it out. I hunted about for a good recipe for saskatoon berry pie filling and chose this one:

4 c berries
1/4 c water
2 T lemon juice
3/4 c white sugar
3 T flour
1 T butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F.
This makes a 9 inch pie. In a large saucepan, simmer berries in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice with berries. Combine sugar and flour together in a medium bowl, then stir into berry mixture and allow to thicken up. Pour mixture into a pastry lined 9 inch pie pan. Dot with butter (optional). Place second crust on top of pie; seal and flute edges and cut a few vents in the top crust. I made little pie crust leaves and decorated the top...cuz that's what my grandma always did and she made the best pies ever. It make berry pies taste better - trust me :)

We baked the pies at 425 for 12 minutes with something underneath to catch the drips (trust me berry pies tend to make a BIG mess that is impossible to clean). Then we reduced the oven 350 F and baked until the crust was a nice golden brown (for ~35 min ). Let cool 30 min before you eat to let the filling set. Serve with some vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

All in all, another successful pie event. I have been given rave reviews on the blueberry and peach pies and have been told by Magnus that the saskatoon berry pie is also yummy.

It's berry season people! Get out there and make yourself some pie!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Next on my list


I was reading my latest addition of Vegetarian Times and salivating over the walnut stuffed eggplant and flipped a few pages further to see this:


And AND - you can even get a MINI DONUT PAN!


I have a twinkie pan from these fine folks at Norpro. It rocks... makes the finest derbies in the land. I haven't had homemade donuts since my Mum made them when I was little...and they are deep fried, so seeing as I am without a deepfryer (whish really is a good thing, trust me) I haven't made any.

I think I will be ambulating forthwith to the local Peppers and ordering myself one of these. I mean $15 for baked donuts? And Veg Times had a bunch of different recipes for them.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Queen was not amused

Just tweaking things.
Not happy with it yet...I need some photoshop time...the logo have a long way to go.
I just couldn't put up with the food whore thing any longer...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mmmm, Chutney

So I made a salmon salad for dinner tonight. I had the assorted greens, the tinned salmon and... a very disappointing salad dressing I bought from Bulk Cheese Warehouse. Bulk Cheese is an exceptional place for food - despite it's rather factory sounding name. So when I bough their Greek salad dressing, I was expecting magic in a bottle. I hate store bought dressings by and large, thus I usually just use a vinegar or citrus and olive oil. From there I will add pepper, onion, garlic or whatever else as I require.
I added my dressing and there was no zip whatsoever. If I were Greek, I would sue the makers of this dressing for sullying the reputation of my people. That it uses canola rather olive oil should have tipped me off right away. What to do? I had no citrus and vinegar would not suit this at all. I added pepper. Hm. I added reggiano cheese that my Mum brought from BC. Better but no cigar. Then I tried the made in Zambia mango chutney that my Mum bought for at Christmas time from Ten Thousand Villages. Hit! Hit! Hit!
I didn't use a lot of it, just enough for some extra zip and it works well. If you are ever at a loss for what to do about a dressing, I would suggest giving chutney a try.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'll just have salad thanks...

Lately I'm trying to focus on eating healthy, especially now that there's more options for fruits and veggies. Lately when I go visit my brother for supper we have hugeass salads for supper. I've gotten into the whole thing...turns out I like salads a LOT-trick is making them filling enough. I also just found out our city has a Good Food Box program that lets you get fruits and veggies from local sustainable farmers/sources every 2 weeks. VERY cool...we're setting up a pickup here where I work and so I'm looking at ways to eat more veggeis...cuz it turns out I *like* them and will have more of them very soon!
I put this salad together the other day for lunch and it was delicious!

2 c spinach
~1/2 c ea diced red pepper, cucumbers & cauliflower
1/8 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c grated mozza cheese
1 can drained tuna
2 oz low fat greek salad dressing.

Mixed it all up and it was amazing...enough so that I'm still thinking about it days later. I'm going to do this at least once a week and vary up the veggies and nuts in it...whatever I have around -maybe have diced chicken or some hard boiled eggs in it to change up the protein part a bit. Kept me full until supper and was delicious...any ideas from the world about your favourite salad toppings?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

All that and a cupcake

What's better than a cupcake?
A mini cupcake!
I like bite of a petite feur, they're just a hint of yummy cakey dessert. I like them when they are particularly rich or chocolatey, as normally it's too much for me to want a whole piece of cake or cupcake but just one bite? Heaven.
I've had the idea to make these for ages, but no mini muffin pan. Tonight, I finally got around to making minicakes as a practice run for a family tea we're having on the weekend. I got me out today to buy a nice commercial grade baking pan from Chicago steel (courtesy of Peppers, the keepers of all good things)- here's my little speech of the day: never chimp on bakeware. People go on and on about Wilson's or Baker's Secret if you're feeling a bit posh, but really even they only last about a year or so and then the finish starts to go and they aren't non-stick...and the pro bakeware is solid metal, conducts heat evenly, cleans up very well (no finish to worry about scratching) and lasts forever. They're non-stick as long as you keep them very clean and spray with cook spray...I like to use muffin papers anyways, so it's perfect for me...

Back to the cakes. Yes...yummy cakes.

I found a good rich cake recipe at my brother's place a while back I've been itching to try, so I made this up. It makes a 9 X 13 cake...this is enough for 6 dozen minicupcakes. It's nice and moist from the bananas and is chocolatey and rich without being too sweet.

Chocolate Banana Cake

In a mixing bowl combine:

2/3 milk with 1T vinegar added - let sit 5 min
3/4 c softened margarine
1 2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 c mashed bananas (I pureed mine with a blender)
1 t vanilla
Mix until combined

Sift together into wet:
2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c cocoa
For the cake, bake at 350 for 40-45 min. For the minicakes, put about 1 T batter in each paper in a sprayed muffin pan, so the paper is about 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the they bounce back when tapped.
Cook a few minutes on a rack and eat. I'm going to ice them up for the tea. For now, they'll go in my belly as is....and they are just delicious as is!

Wahoo! I've got cakes for both J and I to take to work and still have a few to nibble on here...:) I've got 66! I mean 64....:)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Geo's Pasta Salad

When I was little I didn't like pasta was usually just overcooked macaroni with some cheese and celery thrown in and some mayo. My Mum (who is an awesome baker) is not the queen of spices and likes simple food. I found it to be just too boring to make on my own - I did not like her pasta salad.

Now? I like pasta salad. I've tweaked a version of it, with a greek flavour. Last night I made some for our lunches today and threw in some chic peas for the first time - definitely a good addition. I just finished eating it and I'm still tasting the yumminess on my tongue - so I thought I'd post the recipe quick. It makes enough for 4, as a stand alone meal.
The amounts below are estimates...I usually end up with far more veggies than pasta.

2-3 c cooked whole wheat pasta (I usually use rotini or penne)
1/2 c cucumber cut up into 5mm square pieces
1/4 c carrots sliced up
1/3 c celery cut up into 5mm square pieces
1 roma tomato diced up
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c feta cheese crumbled
1/2 c both red & green pepper cut up into 5mm square pieces
1/3 c red onion cut up into 5mm square pieces
1/4 cup diced fresh parsley
1 c cooked and rinsed chic peas (I just use canned ones)

For dressing: 1/2 c low fat greek style oil/vinegar herb dressing, 1/2 c fat free sour cream, dash of cayenne, 1/2 t garlic, 1 t oregano, 1 T lemon juice, 1/2 T fresh black pepper (or more to taste).
Mix it all up and let sit a few minutes before you eat. It's even better the next is a picnic favourite of mine. Tossing olives or parmesan into this is always a good thing too. Usually it's whatever veggies are around, but if I have all these it's a bonus. I'm trying to find a way to get less oil int he dressing to be a bit healthier, but for now...pastaliciousness.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I am on a bit of a Swiss chard kick these days. Last night I steamed chard in white wine with parsley, sage, pepper, garlic and onions. I served it with rice - partially cooked in white wine - and chicken seasoned with pepper, sage and rosemary. Excellent meal. Tonight, I am steaming chard in beer to see what difference it makes.

Update: the slightly sour taste that the wine lends to the dish (a good thing, believe me) is absent when cooked with beer (I used an amber ale) but still excellent.

- Magnus

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wrapping it up

Okay, I feel guilty about culture schilling for Kraft so I figure I ought to push some homemade food. Tonight I felt a bit lazy so I made wraps. I had been thinking about the 1988 film, The Milagro Beanfield War, (which is actually on the idiot box as I type - great film) and got in the mood for some Hispanic flavours. I used some pork shoulder that I had steamed for four hours last night and proceeded thusly:

- Sauteed steamed pork in olive oil on medium/low heat with two cloves of garlic, diced onion and chilis - including chipolte.
- As they cook together, I added 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, 1/8 a cup of parsley and a pinch of hot paprika.
- I added a small amount of 5 year old English cheddar.
- Lastly, I added in some brown rice and black beans and sauteed it with the rest of the ingredients for about five minutes.
- I rolled it all in white flour tortillas and consumed.

Gotta say, it was damned tasty. Geo - learn to love the cilantro.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting Curried Away

When I was in my teens I put curry in just about everything. I loved it and the sensory overload it provided in the way only a teenager truly can. It started actually because my Mum was concerned with my salt intake and wanted to find ways to drastically reduce it. She had made her own spice mix at first and it was good, but eventually I wanted something with more punch so out came the curry.
One of the things I loved to dump curry into was Kraft Dinner. Not that I want extol the "virtues" of a major food manufacturer, but I revisited that flavour twice recently and was not disappointed. But how to add it? When I was a kid it went in with the cheese mix, but what if I let it cook into the margarine for bit? Sounds like a good idea, makes sense in a more grown up sort of way - but it actually doesn't work as well as adding it straight in. Figuring I might try using coconut milk the next time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


When I was little and we went to see my grandparents my grandma always baked amazing things. One of my all time awesome favourite things she would make for us was Johnnie Cake - a simple sweet buttermilk cornbread loaf that you'd slice and have warm with syrup for breakfast. My Mum would make it occasionally as a treat too. I LOVED it.

A few years ago, long after my Grandma passed on, I had a craving for Johnnie Cake...and the recipe could not be found. My Mum misplaced it (after we all left the nest she didn't make it anymore) and every cornbread or johnniecake recipe I tried just wasn't right. Just not good enough to match up to what I remembered. My husband J just didn't get why I just had to make it...the recipes I had found just weren't that memorable. He had not tasted the deliciousness...

A few weeks ago I was over at my brother's place and we were talking about favourite foods...I mentioned Johnnie Cake and he said "Oh, I have the recipe for that. Mum gave it to me when I moved out". Wah! SCORE! I wrote it down (along with a few other awesome things I had no written recipe for) and that very saturday morning I introduced J to the awesome wonders of Grammacake AKA Johnnie Cake.

I think you all should make this for yourself on a lazy weekend morning. It makes enough for a few breakfasts and reheats great...

Grace's Johnnie Cake

3 c cornmeal
1 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 c sugar
1 t soda
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2-2 c buttermilk (sour milk works in a pinch, but buttermilk is WAY better)
2 t melted margarine

Mix dry ingredients. Add beaten eggs and enough buttermilk to make a smooth dough. Add melted margarine last. Mix well. Bake in a loaf pan @ 325 for 50-60 minutes (until a toothpick/knife comes out clean).
Let it cool out of the pan for 5 minutes. Slice 1 cm thick slices and serve with syrup and some bacon.

Heaven in a cake...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mmmm Meatbuns

Back in college my roommate's mom would send her meatbuns in care packages...yummy little mennonite buns with meat baked into them. I spent time once I had a kitchen of my own working out my own perfect version of meat buns...there was (of course) cheese involved, and some spice added to the meat.
I like milk bread as the bun dough. I make a TRIPLE BATCH of the following recipe for 1 loaf of milk bread (It's a bit of work so I make a whole bunch (~5 dozen) as these freeze well):
Dissolve 2 1/4 t yeast in 3 T warm water for 5 minutes. Add:
-1 c skim milk, warmed in the microwave.
-5T melted butter
-3T sugar
-1 large egg
-1t salt

Mix well with mixer. Mix in 1 c whole wheat flour and 1 c white flour. Then add another 1 1/2-2 c flour until the dough is soft and sticky, using the dough hook on your mixer. Then knead the dough by hand for 8 minutes until it is soft and elastic. Place it in a BIG covered oiled bowl and let it double in size (~1.5 hours)

While the dough rises the first time, make the filling so it can cool.
Gouda cheese works well in these - it's not a greasy cheese. I cut a regular brick of cheese into ~0.7 cm cubes, and fry up 1 Lb of ground beef together with a few T of finely minced onion, seasoning it with garlic pepper sauce and taco seasoning...the low salt taco seasoning work well for this. Then this must cool to room temperature or the buns will have weird air pockets in them from rising strangely.

Once it's risen once, pound the dough down and divide it into 4 quarters. Each of these quarters can be flattened and cut into 16 pieces, 1 piece for every bun. Now you must make the buns by flattening the dough piece, and placing 1t of meat and 1 cube of cheese in the centre of it. Use your fingers to pull the dough around the filling and pinch it shut.

Place the buns finched side down into a greased cake pan. Continue until they are all done and cover them and let them rise about 1 hour. If you run out of meat or cheese, just improvise...

Then bake the pans of buns at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.
Like all baked goods, these are best frozen if they aren't to be eaten within a few days. They warm up quickly in the oven or microwave for a great quick lunch or snack.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Exotic Rice

I am sure some culture somewhere is doing something very similar, but I must plead ignorance as to which one it might be. I bought fragrant jasmine rice recently to vary up my consumption (which is typically brown) and have been experimenting. Most recently I took my french press, removed the filter and filled it with cold water and added one stick of cinnamon bark,, slices ..errr, things of star anise and some cloves to it. I let that sit for two days in the fridge and cooked my rice in it. It doesn't overpower the rice but adds a very subtle flavour and aroma to it. It is also good drinking.

- Magnus

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Duck Amuck

I was experimenting recently with a breast of duck from Bulk Cheese Warehouse, a refined cheese shop and butchers here in Saskatoon. I had gone in for pork, but the guy behind the counter drew my attention to the duck. As he put it, no pun intended it would seem, the duck breasts were "flying out the door." What to do with the breast, though? Canard a l'orange would be great, but a bit beyond my means right now. It was left to me to experiment.
One thing that I recall from the duck cooking demos in Montreal was to cross hatch the skin so the fat could more easily melt away from the duck. A good thing to do, believe me, duck is fatty. But I had to season it somehow, so first settled on marinating it in Irish whiskey (Tullamore Dew) for a couple of hours. I then chose nutmeg, saffron, ground allspice and Dutch cocoa to coat the meat. I let that sit for a bit and pressed cracked black pepper into the skin.
I overcooked it for sure - I am not that familiar with duck. However the flavour is good and cocoa seems to compliment duck quite well. I served up baked carrots and an orzo "salad". I chopped up parsley and with onion, mixed it in olive oil and a pinch of salt and then added that to the still hot orzo pasta.

- Magnus

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Sort of Spanish Rice Dish

The past year has seen me become rather obsessed with paprika. At one time I was rather non-plused by paprika and only thought of it as that spice you have to add to make chili. However, my Dad's wife introduced me to good quality paprika and especially smoked paprika. Yesterday, I made a simple rice and bean dish with chicken.

1 cup of rice and 1 cup of Great Northern Beans. Cook ahead of time and mix together.

Add olive oil to a pan, heat it up and add 2 cloves of garlic and 1/4 diced white onion. (my preference) As you sautee, add 1 mildly heaping tsp of smoked paprika and a couple of dashes of saffron. I also added 7 pepper pods - these small dried pods containing seeds - and a dash of nutmeg. (I have to grind whole nuts)
I cooked this for a about 35 minutes in the pan and served with a chicked thigh that I had stripped and spooned green salso over. I garnished this with fresh cilantro. I would have served it with a beer of some sort, but didn't have any. Oh well. ¡Arriba!

- Magnus

Monday, February 16, 2009

stuffed chicken breasts with roasted garlic cheddar mashed potatoes

Last night's supper was to involve phyllo somehow, but I forgot it in the freezer, so I made up a meal with what I had on hand and whoooo boy. You have to try it. Delicious!
It looks tricky but it is rather simple to do and worth the extra time

2 large chicken breasts
1/2 package frozen spinach thawed and drained well by squeezing in a towel
1/2 c crumbled feta
1 lemon
1tb alsamic vinegar
1t greek salad dressing
3 black olives
1 green onion
4 large mushrooms, diced up small
1/4 c diced red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 T oregano and pepper
1/2 c bread crumbs

4-5 red potatoes
1 toe garlic
olive oil
1/2 c grated old cheddar cheese
1 T butter

Warm the oven to 350.
Take a toe of garlic, cut off the top and drizzle a T or so of olive oil on it and wrap it in tin foil, with the cut off part facing up. Place it in the oven for ~20 minutes until roasted to softness. You'll need it for the potatoes later.

Take 2 large chicken breasts and pound flat and thin. Set aside.
In a bowl, add spinach, feta, green onion, red pepper, mushrooms, olives (cut up small), garlic (crushed) and oregano and pepper,vinegar and dressing (olive oil of you don't have it). Mix the filling together well.
Divide the filling in half, and place it on the chicken breasts, folding the breast around it and holding it shut with a few toothpicks as best you can. You just need to keep it together for baking - nothing perfect. There might be some leftover filling that won't fit in- just sprinkle filling on top of the dish once it is in the pan. Roll the stuffed chicken in breadcrumbs as best you can.
Take a lemon and cut one half of it into 4 slices. Place the 4 slices on the bottom of a small baking dish. Place the two stiffed chicken breasts on top of this. Squeeze the juice of the remaining half of lemon over the chicken. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle remaining topping on top of the chicken.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is done and the top is turning golden. Overbaking will make it a bit dry, so pull it out as soon as it looks done. Serve immediately with a steamed veggie of your choice and the potato side I did last night - roasted garlic cheddar mashed potatoes.

For the potatoes:
While your chicken is baking, you can make the potatoes easily. You'll need to boil up the peeled red potatoes, cut into smaller pieces to speed cooking. Once cooked, drain and add 1T butter. Take the toe of roasted garlic you made with the chicken and squeeze in the yummy baked garlic (1/2 of it - all of it, depending on your love of garlic. Roasted garlic is very mild, so put in a bit more than you think you need to. I used it all). Then add about 1/2 c grated old cheddar cheese and 1/4 t fresh black pepper. Mash/puree the potatoes with a hand mixer into a yummy cheesy garlic goo.

Enjoy with a glass of your favourite white wine.
Go on...:)

Monday, February 9, 2009


I made pork, bean and cabbage soup the other night and it is good. Pretty standard stuff aside from two ingredients. The proportions weren't accurate so I am guessing.

Take your onions and garlic and saute them in butter or margarine. (I cut my margarine with olive oil) Add cracked black pepper, 1 level tspn of salt and 1 heaping tspn of Dijon mustard. I also tossed in about two ounces of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey. (Standard Blend for those who are wondering)

Once the onions are caramelized, (or there in abouts) toss in two ham hocks. As the ham hocks begin to brown toss in your veggies. I used one whole Spanish onion, two russet potatoes, three large carrots, a handful of chopped parsley, half a head of green cabbage and also tossed in some left over spinach. (1/8 of a cup)

After an hour of simmering in a closed lid pot, I added a mixture of navy beans and Great Northern beans. (both organic and I soaked them in water for 24 hours. I added water and one whole leek and let it cook for another 2 hours.

After removing the bones I had enough soup to fill three large yogurt and two medium margarine containers. It is also bloody spectacular.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Food Porn

After a few days bored at home I have found a great website for you....
Yup. It's food porn at it's finest...with recipes.
Can ya dig it? :)

I've been sick lately. Not feeling well at all.
I have killed time by looking at all the pretty pictures...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cauliflower and apples? Together in a soup? You're Mad! MAD I tell you!

I love soup. My mum made it almost every day when I was growing up and she makes the best homemade soup. To me, in the winter a big bowl of thick soup is the perfect thing to make you feel content. The January issue of Vegetarian Times had a bunch of great cream-free thick & yummy soup recipes in it. I've already made the Kabocha soup from this issue and it was insanely good, so I thought I'd try another one:

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Hey! Where are you going?
Stop sneaking off - come back really is fantastic. It's also super easy to make, low fat and healthy too-even gluten free! Honest...try it out and you'll see.

Here's all you need:
2 T olive oil
1 small onion chopped (~1 cup)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (~1 cup)
1T curry powder
1 or 2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch pieces (~ 6 cups)
4 c low sodium vegetable broth (I use McCormick's vegetable bullion cubes - they rock)
1 t honey (or agave nectar if you have it)
1 t rice wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar will do in a pinch)
Pinch of salt (if you think it needs it)

In a large pot, over medium-high heat, heat oil and saute onions 5-7 minutes until soft and turning golden. Don't burn them...the slow browning adds flavour. Stir in apple, curry, garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add vegetable broth and cauliflower and bring to a strong simmer, stirring all the yumminess off the bottom of the pot. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Cool 20 minutes.
Blend soup in food processor in batches until it is smooth. Add the honey and vinegar and a pinch of salt. Enjoy.

This soup grows in flavour as it sits, so it's even better the next day.
The first time I made it I didn't quite puree the soup enough, so it almost had the consistency of cream of wheat, but still tasted delicious!
Try this out - it's a bit unconventional, but it's amazing, and a pot makes enough soup for 3 or 4 lunches - how perfect is that? I had yummy soup for lunch all week. Score!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Burmese Food

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is not known for being a cultural hotbed within Canada. It's Irish pubs are distinctly not that Irish. It's British pub is okay but lacking in the food department. There is no Szechuan here. No Korean food. No shabu-shabu. Italian restaurants are noticeably absent. Ethiopian Food? Nope. (Actually yes - Geo) Shawarma/Donair places? Not that I have seen. In fact, there isn't even a pizza by the slice anywhere in the downtown area that I can think of. Four, maybe five pubs/clubs in a short radius and NO PIZZA BY THE SLICE! Now that is an indication of something dire.
However, what Saskatoon lacks in the finer and blessedly vulgar things in life it makes for with a little out of the way place called the Golden Pagoda. This has become my favourite place in town, a small Burmese restaurant that can be impossible to get in to without a reservation. (Geo posted about it in her other blog back in 2006) Burmese food is best explained as a fusion of Indian, Southern Chinese and Thai flavours and ingredients. I wish I had a menu handy, but the picture below is a lemongrass curry chicken dish that I ate with the best coconut rice have ever had. I also had the pickled mustard leaf soup in chicken stock. Have Burmese food. Have it soon.

I agree :) Geo

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm gonna make me a sammich. SAMMICH!!

My husband likes egg salad.
Up until recently, I would have said "me? not so much..."
My Mum, bless her heart, makes the blandest squidgiest egg salad in all the land, so I've never made it, other than when I had to in restaurants and such for work...and even then, other's tasted it to see if it was "good". She uses hardly any spices and her paprika was older than me, so as for proper salad taste? Well, I had no frame of reference...

Last year, I was tricked into eating a curried deviled egg by a bottle of shiraz and Maggie. She told me she made a wicked curry and fresh paprika devilled egg and that it also made good egg salad. So, I had some...she's cool. I trust her.

And you know what? Turns out I like curried egg salad and curried devilled eggs, with lots of paprika and curry. I like a lot. Now, I'll just up and make it for lunches or supper sometimes, even without J suggesting it.
I did tonight...and as I sat about relaxing/wasting time/becoming a crazy cat lady I thought "hey - the world should all get in on the yummy sammichy goodness".
So here ya go:


I like big seedy buns or pumpernickel bread, with some cheddar, lettuce, sliced cucumbers and sprouts and a few slices of apple and pickles on the side. J likes pepperoncinis in his. I glorp in the egg salad until it's enough...It's also yummy with crackers and in wraps...go nuts. It's yummy.

For 2 sammiches:

-3 hard boiled large eggs (boil 12-15 min and cool rapidly with ice water -easier to peel and the eggs don't go green inside) Cut up into small pieces with a knife...I don't mush them with a fork as I like the texture. If you're posh enough to have an egg slicer do that and cut across the middle.
-2 green onions diced up small
-One 3" piece of celery diced up fine
-fresh ground pepper to taste
-dash dill
-1 t curry powder
~1/2t paprika (or more to taste)
~1/3c light mayo (more if you like more goo)
~1/4t mustard (to taste)
-dash tumeric

Skoosh it all together and enjoy in the sammiches with all your favourite fixings. I've tossed in diced red pepper or some red onion when I lack celery or green's good too. It's even better if made a bit ahead...the curry flavour comes out a bit more.
Simple, but yummy :)