Monday, January 31, 2011

A comforting soup for a lousy day

Fall days are usually pretty nice, but the dreary ones do visit once in a while (or maybe I was coming down with a cold). Either way, I postponed my previous dinner plans (something from the Caribbean just wasn't going to happen) and opted for an old fashioned split pea soup.

I was going to chicken out and just make a tube of Manischewitz, but instead, I tossed the "soup mix" packet in the trash and used the dried split peas as a starting point. I really like the peas from Manischewitz because they're not only split, they're quartered. This means that the peas dissolve very nicely and you don't end up with chunks of split peas on your spoon. If I didn't happen to have the package lying around, I probably would've pulsed regular split peas in the food processor until they were a little more broken up.

The soup itself turned out okay. I might do a bit more in terms of the broth next time, however, serving it with a sweet and cheesy bread did the trick.

Recipe: Split Pea Soup

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Notice: Schedule Change

We haven't forgotten anything! The Haggis and the Herring is moving to a Monday-Wednesday-(and the occasional Friday) schedule. Remember to follow us on Twitter or Facebook for other daily updates.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Robbie Burns day at the Haggis and the Herring

When I woke up Tuesday morning, my first task was to shovel the driveway do some cleaning. By eleven, I was in the car heading to Scarborough to the But 'n' Ben Scottish Butchers to pick up the haggis for dinner.

But 'n' Ben specializes in pies and puddings and it showed. Even in the middle of the day, there was a queue to order. There wasn't much haggis left, but I managed to get one just big enough for the two of us, along with a couple of Scoth meat pies.

Haggis and pie with brown sauce, along with
mushy peas, roasted potatoes and turnips.
Oh, and my single-malt, of course.

We've served But 'n' Ben before when I wrote about serving haggis and herring immediately before Jeremy was born.

It was on my way out that I noticed the chippy two doors down just opened for the day - St. Andrew's Fish and Chips. I was guessing that if it's that close to the butcher shop, it's likely good, and to my delight it is! St. Andrew's has a take-out window up front and a full-service restaurant just beyond. The menu is fairly extensive and includes a wide variety of fish, pies, puddings, and appropriate sides.

Salmon and Chips

Reading the menu, what caught my eye was the salmon and chips option. It was without a doubt the best we've ever had. Salmon and chips is a very special dish for Meredith and I. At our wedding, we asked the chef to serve battered salmon and sweet potato fries as the fish dish - as a nod to Meredith's Scottish, Welsh and English background. On our honeymoon in Seattle, we also dined on salmon and chips at Pike's Place Market.

The two of us with our honeymoon salmon and chips.

We'll definitely be returning to that corner of Scarborough for another trip to the butcher and to dine in at St. Andrew's to sample more goodies - including their mushy peas and haddock.

And back to Robbie Burns: we'll conclude with Address to a Haggis:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race! 
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 
Painch, tripe, or thairm: 
Weel are ye wordy of a grace 
As lang's my arm. 

The groaning trencher there ye fill, 
Your hudies like a distant hill, 
Your pin wad help to mend a mill 
In time o' need, 
While thro' your pores the dews distil 
Like amber bead. 

His knife see rustic Labour dight, 
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight, 
Trenching your gushing entrails bright, 
Like onie ditch; 
And then, O what a glorious sight, 
Warm-reeking, rich! 

Then horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: 
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive, 
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve 
Are bent like drums; 
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, 
'Bethankit!' hums. 

Is there that owre his French ragout, 
Or olio that wad staw a sow, 
Or fricassee wad mak her spew 
Wi perfect scunner, 
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view 
On sic a dinner? 

Poor devil! see him owre his trash, 
As fecl;ess as a wither'd rash, 
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash, 
His nieve a nit; 
Tho' bluidy flood or field to dash, 
O how unfit. 

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, 
The trembling earth resounds his tread, 
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll make it whistle; 
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned 
Like taps o' thrissle. 

Ye pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, 
And dish them out their bill o' fare, 
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware, 
That jaups in luggies; 
But if ye wish her gratfu' prayer, 
Gie her a Haggis!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Basil-honey Dressing

  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a tall container and mix using an immersion blender.

Note: shake well before serving.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The last of my basil

The first weekend in October got cold. I noticed that the basil in the garden was dying and I started to panic.

That weekend also happened to be immediately after Girlchef's Grow Your Own roundup was posted. Basil and tomatoes were showcased in several of the recipes (including my bruschetta!).

Anyway, about halfway through the roundup, I saw a recipe for basil-honey dressing from Shockinglydelicious. Moments later, I ran out the door, rescued what was left of the basil and made the dressing. It tastes amazing and it's a great way to use your basil if you've already had your fill of tomatoes (or opted out becuase pine nuts were just too expensive this year).

Recipe: Basil-honey Dressing

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ophidiophobia and spaghetti tacos

Meredith is frightened to death of snakes (Ophidiophobia). She also "doesn't like the taste of spaghetti." She insists that one has nothing to do with the other, however, she'll eat any other type of pasta.

Anyway, one of Jacob's favourite TV shows is iCarly. It's about a girl named Carly who lives in a fancy studio, airs her own webcast and is being brought up by her eccentric artist brother, Spencer. On one occasion, Spencer serves spaghetti tacos, and an Internet culinary sensation was born.
Spencer creating a legend.
The hype was really about the fact that the spaghetti taco made pasta portable. You could hold it in your hand. Pasta suddenly was on par with a sandwich! Quite amazing.

I pitched the idea to Jacob, and he was okay with it as long as there was either: no sauce, or, cheese sauce. I pitched the idea to Meredith, and her criteria was "don't use spaghetti."
Jacob helping himself to more
spaghetti taco goodness
The first time we tried it, we used Fusili. Big disaster. The short, chunky pasta didn't really stay in the shells. Take two - we're using Linguini. It's not spaghetti, so it meets Meredith's criteria.
My taco (with a flour shell) and Meredith's with a corn shell.
Both are dressed with guocamole, sour cream and cheese.
For sauce, I used fake kraft powdered cheese sauce for Jacob's tacos, and I put some hot chunky salsa through the blender for the grown-ups. I also made some guocamole and served some sour cream.
Jacob chowing down on his "Jacob Approved" taco.
Jacob later told me that this is his new favourite food. Just don't tell my mom that her pizza has been bumped to number-two!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tomato Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 6 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 carton (900 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp orange rind, grated
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste
  1. Heat the butter on medium and fry the tomatoes and onion for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, bay leaf, pepper and rind and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Remove bay leaf and puree in a blender or using a hand blender.
  5. Add lemon juice, sugar and salt to taste.
  6. Bring back to a boil and serve.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A warm soup after a long day

By the beginning of October, Meredith was completely exhausted, and so was I. I was preparing for my time off, preparing for the baby, preparing, preparing, preparing.

It was Friday night, and there weren't going to be any guests. Just the two of us and a comforting meal.

I wanted to keep the meal simple enough, but, of course, I had to do it the hard way. Grilled cheeseburgers and tomato soup from scratch. Ever since I saw the tomato soup recipe at Babootie, I've been itching to try it out. I went to the grocery store and bought a basket of tomatoes (probably 20), figuring that whatever was left over would just go in salad.

Turns out that 3/4 kilo of tomatoes is roughly six tomatoes. Whoops. I guess it's tomato salad for dinner tomorrow!

Anyway, the soup tasted fantastic. Quoting Meredith, "this doesn't taste like Campbell's." Thank goodness!

I didn't actually add any additional salt when I prepared the recipe. Between the butter and the prepared stock, there was more than enough there already. The soup had more of an orange colour, but that could just be because of how the immersion blender whipped things up.

Recipe: Tomato Soup

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trying it Thursday

Well, not really. I just needed to make something up for this random Thursday post.

I suck at making maki, but when scavenging in the pantry for lunch on Monday, I found sushi rice and seaweed. I have no idea how long they've been there. It moved with us.

Anyway, I usually make a mess of maki, mainly because I never let the rice cool properly. But it was only 11:00 a.m., and I had a snack so I could wait.

Not too shabby, huh?

The wasabi was fiery. Prepared from a tube, it had Meredith jumping up and down in her chair. Perfect nonetheless.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

Relaxing with our friends

In late September the temperature suddenly dropped. Meredith still liked it cold in the house and I was freezing. It was going to be a busy week between band practice, Meredith's evening out with friends, our final "caring for baby" class and my parents dropping by for Meredith's birthday.

We spent the weekend cleaning, fixing, building, sorting and anything else you could think of around the house. By Sunday evening, the house was chilly and friends were stopping by for some hot tea. Tea turned into dinner, to my delight.

It was time for comfort food. Specifically, time to break out a version of the mashed potato casserole recipe I had recently found. Although the original recipe listed it as a side dish, chock full of cheese, bacon and creamy goodness, it's really a meal in one bowl (aside from my obligatory salad). The four of us pretty much finished the entire dish, with a little snack set aside for a midnight snack or lunch the following day.

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
  • 6 cups potatoes, hand mashed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 package (250g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup extra old Cheddar cheese
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat potatoes, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, parsley, garlic salt and nutmeg until mixture is smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture into a 13x9 casserole dish, sprinkle on Cheddar and bacon.
  4. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake for an additional 5 minutes uncovered.
(Based on Easy to be Gluten Free's recipe)

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cider-glazed Chicken

I'm always looking for good chicken recipes for Friday nights.

In September I started following the Food Floozie blog, and there are tons of gems. The most memorable so far are an insane kugel with cherries and chocolate (that I have yet to attempt) and a chicken dish cooked in cider.

In late September, at the grocery store to buy ingredients for a Thai basil chicken recipe, I was confronted by a freebie booth giving away samples of pumpkin pie and cider. The samples were okay, and then I started thinking about the cider. Then I started to think about how Meredith probably won't like all of that garlic in the Thai basil chicken, and maybe I should wait until after the baby is born and Meredith likes garlic again. Then I started to think about the cider chicken recipe.

Then I walked away with half a gallon of cider.

I didn't have herbs de Provence or bone-and-skin-on chicken on hand, but I improvised a bit and the result was excellent. I imagine following her recipe to the letter would have tasted even better, but I'll save that for another time.

Cider-glazed Chicken
  • 3+1 tbsp oil
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, cut in half)
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup apple cider (use apple juice for gluten-free)
  1. Heat 3 tbsp oil on medium in a deep pan.
  2. Toss chicken in 1 tbsp oil and brown on both sides for 15 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.
  3. Set the chicken aside in a separate bowl and saute onion in remaining oil for 1 minute. Add mustard, vinegar, fennel, rosemary and thyme and stir.
  4. Add cider, stir and add back chicken.
  5. Cover and let mixture boil on high for 30 seconds before reducing to low.
  6. Let simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Set the chicken aside again and boil down the sauce until thickened.
  8. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Chicken

Post Christmas Dinner from YEG to YYZ

For Christmas, we had the pleasure of a visit from my brother (Beez) and sister-in-law (Amanda) of Gluten Free Edmonton. Although their visit was really about seeing their nephews, Beez humoured me and made us dinner one evening between Christmas and New Years. Meredith also used her new Whirly-Pop to make everyone fresh stove-top popcorn.

As I mentioned before, I'm not great with rice noodles, so it's nice to have them done right without having to go out. Beez was very accommodating and set up an assembly line on my counter. He also made me grill the chicken (so much for a labour-free dinner).

Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Chicken
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts sliced butterfly-style (making four portions)
  • 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, sliced
  • 1 package vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 carrot, sliced julienne style
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced julienne style
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 8 tbsp fish sauce (Beez uses Blue Dragon brand available at Wal-Mart)
  1. Marinate chicken in soy sauce and garlic for at least 30 minutes (overnight is best).
  2. Grill chicken until cooked it reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit and then slice into strips.
  3. To build the bowl, layer as follows:
    1. lettuce
    2. noodles
    3. carrots and cucumber around the edge of the bowl
    4. chicken in the centre
    5. garnish with green onion
  4. Serve with 2 tbsp fish sauce on the side for diners to pour into the bowl.
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