Saturday, March 12, 2011


There is a dish I am particularly fond of from various areas across Northern Europe which is just simply cabbage or kale mixed in with mashed potatoes and an onion. My Mum made it as "Bubble and Squeak" and the old Irish Heather in Vancouver served it up as Colcannon. Similar dishes have names like "rumbledethumps", pyttipanna, biksemad, champ, hash, stoemp and stamppot. All are variations on the same thing, including or excluding certain vegetables with potato as the core.

The Dutch variation is stamppot but most Dutch people I knew back home simply referred to it as boercole, their name for kale. Kale is exceptionally good for us and I love it, so I made boercole for dinner. Kale is very tough and typically harvested after the first frost, making it sweeter and more edible. I stick my kale in the freezer for at least 15 minutes (sometimes I just leave it in there) before taking it out and chopping it up, stripping it away from the thicker stalks. I use quite a bit of it and boil it in a pot. You may be able to find chopped kale in a tin or dried kale as well.
The Dutch use a smoked sausage called rookworst, but I can't find that here so I double smoked farmer sausage which tastes close enough. Slice up the sausage and cook it with the kale. If you are worried about the fat content, cook it separately, strain it and add it in latter. Make your mashed potatoes (sometimes they can be cooked in with the kale as well) how you like. My Dad barely adds butter, preferring his course, chunky and dry. (he enjoys suffering for some reason) I use milk and butter/margarine and add onion into the mix. Once the potatoes are ready, I add in my strained kale and sausage and eat.
The Dutch sometimes make a gravy for stamppot and Germans will make a white sauce with onion. I like the white sauce, but it is too much fat. I also added in wild mushrooms for my dish. Another variation I made for my Dad was to take his left over ham and cabbage and mix it into potatoes.
Anyhow, if it is still cold where you are try this dish. It makes for a good winter dish, warming, filling and nutritious.

Baked almond chicken fingers

My favourite way to make chicken is to sort of "schnitzelify" it, with my own twist...I cut a chicken breast into thin finger strips, dip in flour, egg wash and then a crunchy mix of roughly equal amounts of coarsely ground up roast salted almonds (done in food processor)and Panko flakes, with some spice added (pepper, cumin, Mrs.Dash, oregano). I used to fry them in a pan in about a cm of oil to golden brown, but I haven't made them in a while as they really aren't the healthiest. They are incredibly amazing tho - the almonds and Panko make for crunchy tasty chicken. So good.
Last night I had an idea - bake them.
So I prepped them the same as usual and then put them on a non-stick cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes or so until the chicken was cooked and the coating started to brown up. They were amazing! Incredibly tasty and crunchy but not greasy. Score.

To go with them I served one of my favourite sides: I cooked up a spaghetti squash in the microwave and sauteed some garlic, green onion and red pepper (~1/8 c each) with some oregano and pepper in some olive oil. I took the cooked spaghetti squash and added the sauteed veggies with it, with just enough flavoury oil and herbs to sort of break up the spaghetti squash, tossing it up together and coating it a bit for flavour.
That with the chicken?
Divine :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pirate Bakery: Oat Spice Coconut Muffins

I've been diddling about a bit in search of a good oat spice muffin. I've come up with these. They're not overly spicy - you could add more if you like a lot of spice. I think they're delish...and full of healthy goodness.

In small bowl mix:
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 +1/3 c white flour
1 t b. powder
1 t b. soda
pinch salt

In another large bowl mix:
1 c sour milk (add 1 T vinegar to 1% milk, stir and let sit 5 minutes)
2 eggs
1/3 c unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c molasses
1 T oil
1/4 c shredded coconut (plus a bit more to sprinkle on top if you want them to look pretty)
1/2 t vanilla
1 heaping t pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 t cinnamon + 1/2 t ginger)
1/4 c sliced almonds
1 c oatmeal

Mix together wet until there is no lumps and stir in oats. Sift in dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. If you like sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and coconut on top of them.(ooh. pretty...)
Bake in a well greased muffin pan (or use papers) for 15-18 minutes at 400 until a toothpick comes out clean or the tops bounce back when you tap them. Don't overbake. They come out to ~145 calories each and I love them.

Healthy and could add fruit to them too. That's my next batch...I'm thinking peaches. Yum...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lasagna of Paradise!

Well, Geo may disagree, as she is the only one who has tried my lasagna, but I like themes. I have had a craving for lasagna for a while. But not just any lasagna, the lasagna Luigi served at The Mocha on Commercial Drive when I was a kid. Luigi was from Calabria and he had said that the Calabrese in his region used sliced hard boiled eggs. I see online that some people mix the eggs in with their ricotta, but did it Luigi's way. I was also lacking a pan, but then Geo gave me a Corning wear dish exactly like the one that went missing on me a few years ago. I had also bought ricotta that was more like the mascarpone I bought in texture than the slightly courser variety I am used to.

1. I sauteed onions and fennel seed in olive oil, unto the onions became translucent. I added garlic, oregano and black pepper before adding the ground beef. As that browned I added shredded basil and spinach.

2. Once the beef was finishing up, I cooked the noodles until they were very al dente. Basically, I the were too long and I needed to fold or cut the noodles to make them fit.

3. I laid down the first layer of noodles and then a layer of ricotta, a layer of beef and a layer of sauce - which was just from a can of crushed tomatoes. (I was a bit lazy that day) I laid more noodles over top and then a layer of mascarpone, beef, sauce, six sliced hardboiled eggs and topped it with mozzarella. I added the last layer of noodles, beef, sauce and mozzarella with dabs of ricotta on top.

4. I cooked at 325 until it was boiling through the top, removed the lid and set the oven to broil in order to brown the cheese.

Personally, I think it turned out well.

Chili of the gods

A few nights ago I threw together a pan of chili in a hurry that ended up as fantastic. I wanted to write it down before I forgot so I can make it again.

Start off with:
~1/2 Lb lean ground pork
1 small onion diced
1/4 red pepper diced
1 can mushrooms with the juice
1 stalk celery diced up fine
1T minced garlic
1 t oregano
1/2 t red pepper flakes
2-3T chili powder (to taste...I used at least 3 -I'm just guessing here)
~3/4 t cinnamon
1 veg bullion cube

Brown up the meat in a splash of olive oil and toss in the veg for a few minutes to saute. Add spices and stir a minute more and then add:
~1 c red wine (I used a cheap merlot) and continue to stir until liquid is nearly gone and veg are clear. At this point, stir in and 1 large T of molasses and ~1 t of good mustard powder (you could probably add a squirt of fresh stuff). Simmer a minute. Then add:

1 small can spicy pizza sauce
1 large can diced tomatoes with chili peppers
1/2 c salsa

Let simmer ~ 5 min to incorporate flavours. Adjust chili powder and add a bit more garlic or pepper if desired. Right before you eat, stir in:
large can black beans, drained and rinsed
large can chic peas, drained rinsed

Cook to warm through and serve with soft buns or some rice. It was enough for a few days of yummy bowls of chili. Chock full of good stuff :)