Friday, July 29, 2011

Chicken Tajine with Zucchini

It was the first nice Friday in spring - warm enough to sit on the patio for a bit after supper as the sun set, with the crazy lights attached to the fence all lit up. It was also the Friday of a very busy and taxing week at work, so I was ready to get cooking as soon as I got home. I needed to decompress.

Meredith did her own research to find a recipe that she wanted to try, and she picked a good one. John Spottiswood's chicken and eggplant tajine. John is one of the founders of Cook, Eat, Share, and is an excellent chef - I've tried his recipes before.
I didn't feel like eggplant, so I substituted zucchini, and substituted another spice (just because I didn't have it on-hand), and the result was excellent. John's choice of adding fennel seeds gave it a unique aroma.

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Chicken Tajine with Zucchini
This chicken and vegetable tajine uses fennel seeds to add a unique flavor. It's also gluten-free.
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 medium chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 zucchini, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and add theonions and peppers. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Cover and cook until onions are soft, about 8 minutes. 2. Add the paprika, salt, turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, cumin, ginger and thyme and 3. stir for 1 minute. 4. Add the canned tomatoes and lemon juice and bring to boil.5. Add the chicken and zucchini and stir. Bring to boil and reduce heat to medium.6. Cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes. 7. Uncover and simmer for 20 minutes. taste and add additional lemon juice, salt or pepper if necessary. 8. Serve on couscous or rice. Garnish with cilantro and almonds or simply stir in cilantro and almonds before serving (that's what I did).
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Several years ago, when I was living on my own, I frequently ate what I called "kitchen sink salads." It was my entire meal. I'd buy some nice bagged lettuce or spinach (I'd refer to it as "garden weeds"), use either grilled chicken or hard-boiled egg for protein, and add whatever else I had around. That usually meant tomatoes, some sweet onion, hearts of palm, feta, and olives. I frequently made my own dressing as well because I've never been fond of store-bought vinaigrette.

This salad was one of the first things I made for Meredith. When we moved in together, I practically wasn't allowed to buy salad dressing - I had to make it myself. I think the only recent exception to that is the occasional bottle of Caesar dressing.

Recently, when a friend visited, I was asked what ever happened to the balsamic vinaigrette I used to make. I realized that I hadn't made it in some time and frequently make other less complex (and less tasty) dressings (and salads, for that matter). I decided it was time to give the kitchen sink salad another whirl.

Balsamic Vinaigrette (for a kitchen-sink salad)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp mustard (dijon or hot)
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • dash salt
  1. Add all ingredients to a small jar and mix with a fork until combined.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hungry Jenny's Fish Cakes, Chips and Peas

Fish cakes, chips, mushy peas and coleslaw.
It was just me and the little guy tonight and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I saw a great dinner at Hungry Jenny's and I had even done some preparation last night. The peas were already in the fridge soaking and the fish was defrosted.

Not thinking that it might be a little hectic making fish cakes, chips and mushy peas while at the same time entertaining and feeding a nine-month-old, I went full-steam ahead. As a result, I only partially followed Jenny's instructions. For instance, her recipe is titled Baked Fishcake and Mushy Pea Supper. The key word being "baked." I neglected to bake both the fries and the fish cakes and ended up frying them in a pan - a much less healthy option. Whoops!

Anyway, since I was a bit all over the place, I didn't do a bang-up job documenting this adventure. I'll probably try it again. I can tell you that for the fish, I poached some Scottish Haddock, used a couple eggs and used additional flour since I couldn't find the breadcrumbs. The chips were pan fried (very yummy, by the way), and the peas turned out very well as I let them sit for a bit in the pot after adding a bit of mint and sugar and having a go at them with a potato masher.

I also made a major discovery: Jeremy is very much like his mother. He'll eat just about anything, but he's definitely not a fan of peas. I mean, I know he's not a fan of strained peas - he was never as eager to eat them as other vegetables. However, I gave him a big spoonful of them and he made a face like I've never seen! I wish I had my camera on me for it.

Anyway, please take a look at the real thing, visit Hungry Jenny's Baked Fishcake and Mushy Pea Supper.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creamy Dill Sauce (Magic Sauce)

Creamy dill sauce with my chicken on rice dish.
Photo courtesy of Simon's smartphone. 
I realized today that the creamy dill sauce (or, as my good friend put it, Magic) I included with the chicken on rice recipe needs to be on its own since it can be used with several other recipes. It was a smashing success with chicken shawarama as well. So here it is, on its own page.

Enjoy, and don't eat it all at once, because I know you will.

Creamy Dill Sauce
  • 1-1/4 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp lemon juice or juice from half a lemon 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp dill
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix thoroughly.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mousse

With friends over for dinner a couple nights in a row and family birthdays on the horizon, Meredith was pretty busy with desserts. So busy, that one evening I had to make dessert (and I don't make dessert). I ended up turning some leftover rice into rice pudding and calling it a night!

We have a bumper crop of mint leaves in a garden along the side of the house. One evening, Meredith wanted to use a bit of it in dessert, so she adapted a Martha Stewart recipe and prettied it up. Meredith has never made mousse before, so it was an experience to watch. She had to improvise with the double-boiler as we didn't have one. I forgot to take a picture of her using a stainless-steel salad bowl on top of a pot of boiling water, but it worked!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
  1. In a double boiler, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt for 2-3 minutes, until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm.
  2. Remove mixture from heat and immediately whisk in chopped chocolate until melted. Add cocoa powder and continue to whisk until smooth.
  3. Let mixture cool to room temperature. In the meantime, using a standing mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Whisk half of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Transfer to a serving dish, cover with paper towel and then plastic wrap (or lid) and into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Before serving, removed from fridge and let stand for 15 minutes. Garnish with 1/2 cup raspberries and mint leaves.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rhubarb Curry Chicken

This curry gets its flavor from the brown sugar caramelized
on the chicken and the super-tasty rhubarb sauce. 
When rhubarb was ready to harvest, a generous colleague handed me a bag with at least a couple pounds of the red stuff. My first thought was "I can only eat so much pie!" Then I realized that there might be an alternative.

After tweeting about my newly found produce, and lamenting that I could only find dessert recipes, the Food Floozie came through. She had just finished making a chicken curry in a rhubarb sauce, and if I could sit tight, the recipe would be posted by the next morning. What luck!
The Floozie's curry was an interesting one. The sauce was made separately the chicken and it used wine. The chicken was pan fried, and the whole concoction goes into the oven to finish off. It looked great.

After a short conversation about the dish, I discovered that I could use orange juice (which I had) instead of wine (which I didn't have) and I made a few other changes to make it my own.

When I took it out of the oven, it was awesome. The brown sugar had caramelized and the sauce was sweet and spicy. Meredith said that it reminded her of the curries her mom made when she was a kid.

Rhubarb Curry Chicken
  • 2 tbsp + 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp mango powder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-1/4 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 kilo chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425-degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat and saute onions for 2 minutes, 
  3. Add 1/2 tsp salt, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, ginger, curry powder and mango powder and saute for an additional minute.
  4. Add orange juice and rhubarb, bring to a boil and cover and let simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir, re-cover and let cook for an additional 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be reduced to a sauce.
  5. In a large skillet, heat remaining oil on medium-high. Place chicken in pan and season with remaining salt and black pepper. Brown chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  6. Place chicken into a greased 9x13 baking dish and cover with rhubarb mixture; sprinkle with brown sugar.
  7. Place baking dish into  oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with rice.

Inspired by Food Floozie's Curried Rhubarb Chicken.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Jarlsberg Cheese and Sauteed Mushrooms

I'd been meaning to blog about grilled cheese for some time, but I'd never got around to it. The grilled cheese is an amazing sandwich, and according to The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, first appeared in the 1930s - around the same time sliced bread made its debut.

Years earlier, in 1917, Kraft started selling canned cheese to the U.S. Army. They bought out Velveeta in the late 1920s. The individually-wrapped slices didn't appear until the mid-1960s - known as "square cheese," in our home. When Wonder's sliced bread hit the shelves, processed cheese quickly became the original filling for the grilled cheese sandwich.

So the original grilled cheese isn't something fancy - it's Wonderbread and Velveeta. Truth be told, I still think that processed cheese is a perfectly acceptable filling for grilled cheese. Jacob has graduated from plain sliced bread and now prefers his square cheese in between two slices of marble rye. I actually think it's quite good. On special occasions, I one-up it with this:

Jacob's double-decker barbecued-grilled cheese
sandwich with square cheese and marble rye.
I've also been meaning to visit a very special restaurant in Kensington Market for quite some time. The Grilled Cheese is dedicated to making (in what my opinion are) the best grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever tasted. The decor is very rustic, with wooden tables and benches and a wall full of preserved vegetables.

Jacob drinking his water with the wall of preserves
behind him.
I ordered the Blackjack that is served with Jalapeno Havarti, tomatoes, spinach and black olive pesto. The sandwich was served with a slice of pickles and potato chips. The bread was perfect - crunchy on the outside with a buttery flavour.

My Blackjack grilled cheese sandwich.

The Grilled Cheese on Urbanspoon

Secret Recipe Club

For the July edition of Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Hoosier Homemade. Hoosier's grilled cheese really caught my eye. Sauteed mushrooms on Jarlsberg cheese all in between two slices of garlic-parmigiana French bread. That ain't no Velveeta on Wonderbread!

I definitely wanted to do a variation on it, but at the same time, too much variation is just another sandwich. I was sticking to the Jarlsberg cheese and mushrooms but I wanted to give a salute to Jacob's sandwich as well, so I'm sticking with the marble rye.

The final sandwich turned out great. The thinly-sliced bread turned out crispp on the outside and helped the sandwich heat up quickly. The thinly sliced mushrooms didn't release much water (could be because I used cremini mushrooms). The cheese wrapped around the mushrooms perfectly. I was very happy.

Unfortunately, I had run out of pickles during the weekend and forgot to buy more, so I had to serve the sandwich with a side of carrot sticks instead. It's just not the same :-(

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Jarlsberg Cheese and Sauteed Mushrooms
  • 1 + 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices marble rye
  • 4 slices Jarlsberg cheese
  1. Heat one tsp oil on medium-low and saute garlic for one minute. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft and slightly browned.
  2. Assemble the sandwich using bread, cheese, mushroom mixture, cheese and bread. 
  3. In a larger pan, heat remaining two teaspoons of olive oil and fry sandwiches for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. 
Makes two sandwiches.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Chicken on Rice with Creamy Dill Sauce

Photo courtesy of Simon's smartphone. Our camera
went AWOL during picture time!
It all started with an article I read about street meat in Manhattan. The dish sounded good, but the recipe was off. A little vague, mostly in the method, how to cook the chicken, etc -- and I could tell right away: this isn't how it's prepared at a vendor's cart.

I still didn't care because the ingredients sounded great and I could just do my own thing with it - and I did. Our friends were over for dinner as taste testers and it was a hit. Simon called the sauce "magic." I think that says something. 

Chicken on Rice with Creamy Dill Sauce
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 8 cloves, ground or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • dash salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1+2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (or 8-10 thighs) 
  • 1 recipe Creamy Dill Sauce (Magic Sauce)
  1. Combine the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cloves, paprika, curry powder, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil in a medium bowl and whisk in yogurt.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large zipper bag, add onions and chicken and seal bag. Shake bag to coat chicken and let marinade overnight.
  3. To cook chicken, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on high in a large pan. Add chicken and onion mixture and cook for 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid is gone.
  4. Serve with rice and creamy dill sauce.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salmon Ball

This salmon ball is creamy with a bit of crunch, and gluten-free.
Continuing on the holiday brunch theme from a couple weeks ago, I wanted another protein dish that could be served in a sandwich or just on crackers. I didn't want to make another salmon salad - too boring. That's when I remembered Shannon, an old friend from the university residence I lived in.

Shannon's favourite thing to bring to a party was a tuna ball. It was basically a can of tuna mixed with a block of cream cheese. It was very rich, but very tasty. I wanted to use that concept as a base for what I wanted to make.

I had a can of boneless, skinless salmon (about the size of a can of tuna), but I wanted to do a little more. Cutting out some of the cream cheese and adding some sweet onion, celery and mustard for flavor seemed like the way to go. For added presentation, I rolled the final product in slivered almonds to give it some crunch. It was a hit - something I'll definitely make again.

Salmon Ball
  • 1 can boneless, skinless salmon (drained)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1 tsp sweet hot mustard
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  1. Mash the salmon with a fork.
  2. Fold in the cream cheese, onion, celery and mustard using a spatula.
  3. Spread almonds on a cutting board. Roll the salmon mixture into a ball and then roll it on top of the almonds.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and let set in fridge until ready to serve.
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Friday, July 8, 2011

Curried Egg Salad

This egg salad has an added zip from curry and cilantro.
It's also gluten-free.
The Monday of the May long-weekend brought guests for lunch. Completely forgetting to plan for that meal, I was out of luck in the grocery department - everything was closed.

Meredith says that I have a knack for putting a meal together in an emergency, or when "there's really nothing to make." When we first started dating, I had dropped by her place in the middle of the day but I was starving. Meredith wasn't ready to go out yet, and I'd "just have to wait until we leave because there's nothing here." Well, by the time I she had emerged from her room, to Meredith's astonishment, I had whipped myself up a sandwich from what little there was in the fridge.

For this brunch, we had some soup from the previous evening, and out of the fridge and pantry, I pulled out some eggs, half a sweet onion, some celery, a can of salmon, a half-empty tub of cream cheese, and a bit of cilantro from the bunch I planned on using later during the week. I set the salmon and cheese aside for another dish and went to work.

Curried Egg Salad
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and mashed or shredded
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

This is the final post for Strawberrypalooza at the Haggis and the Herring. The final recipe was the only one I specifically requested. Meredith was just about to make a sorbet when I suggested frozen yogurt. I was already picking up a container of yogurt for the muffins, so Meredith didn't mind the slight change in plans.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
  • 1 pound/450g strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain balkan yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Toss strawberries in a bowl with the sugar until the sugar begins to dissolve.
  2. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for two hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Transfer mixture to a food processor and add the yogurt and lemon juice. Pulse mixture in food processor until smooth.
  4. Transfer mixture to refrigerator for at least one hour, then process in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions, adding chocolate chips slowly near the end.
Based on David Lebovitz's recipe.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry Pie

Continuing Strawberrypalooza, Meredith was determined to duplicate one of my aunt's pies. This pie is basically whole strawberries set in a fairly solid jelly. My aunt only made it on special occasions and I was always excited when it landed on the dessert table.

Strawberry Pie
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 package raspberry Jell-O powder
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 baked or packaged 9" pie shell, cooled
  • 5 cups strawberries, hulled
  1. Mix sugar, dry Jell-O powder and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and gradually stir in water.
  2. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Let cool for ten minutes.
  3. Fill pie shell with strawberries and cover with jelly glaze.
  4. Let refrigerate for at least three hours to set.
Mostly from Kraft's Glazed Red Berry Pie recipe.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins

More of Strawberrypalloza!

Meredith's next project was some muffins. not surprisingly, she found a recipe on that looked good - so she went for it. The result was a tasty and moist muffin that really showcased the flavour of the strawberries.

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees and prepare a 12-muffin tin with paper cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sugar. Add milk, yogurt, vanilla, and melted butter and continue to whisk gently.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add to milk mixture and stir until flour is completely absorbed. Gently stir in berries.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into muffin and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool before removing from muffin tin.
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