Wednesday, August 31, 2005

2 dishes........

Mache w/ grapefruit and avocado  Posted by Picasa

I love to cook, but not after a long day at a law firm. I was supposed to leave at 1:30, but didnt get out of there till 3. About 2:30, we happen to glance out the window and the husband of a client( divorce) was walking up the sidewalk carrying a yellow neon sign that said Lawyers name is an ass, liar, scum, etc, etc. Very funny, but not. Then lawyer( the one I assist) went chasing up the street after him.

Anyway, after that drama, I hit the store for some Ginger. Of course, I didnt leave with just ginger. I decided to make the clients a salad because I saw some wonderful mache. Mache( pronounced MOSH) is aka lambs lettuce. Its a total delicacy and I was shocked to see our small town grocery store carry it. I hope people buy it so they still carry it. They used to carry this great flavored tofu, but they stopped.

Anyway, I sectioned a red grapfruit( could have used another one), an avocado and made a vinagarette of evoo, the grapefruit juice, some lime juice, salt, pepper and a bit of sour cream.

The chicken dish is one I wont repeat. I tasted the rice and it wasnt worth all the effort. The dish took 2 hrs start to finish with multiple steps. I didnt have cheesecloth to soak the spice sack, so I had to fish out all the ginger and cardoman. I left the cumin seeds thinking it wouldnt matter much. I also accidentally rubbed my eye after I cut up the jalapeno. The recipe called for 2, I used 1, the client said I could have used the other one too. They like spicy.

Here it is if you want to try it. Have fun.

Chicken Biryani Posted by Picasa

This recipe requires a 3 1/2- to 4-quart saucepan about 8 inches in diameter. Do not use a large, wide Dutch oven, as it will adversely affect both the layering of the dish and the final cooking times. Begin simmering the spices in the water prior to preparing the remaining ingredients; the more time the spices have to infuse the water (up to half an hour), the more flavor they will give to the rice. Biryani is traditionally served with a cooling yogurt sauce; ideally, you should make it before starting the biryani to allow the flavors in the sauce to meld.

Serves 4 10 cardamom pods , preferably green, smashed with chef's knife
1 cinnamon stick
2 inch piece fresh ginger , cut into 1/2-inch-thick coins and smashed with chef's knife
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
3 quarts water
table salt
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess skin and fat and patted dry with paper towels
ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions , sliced thin (about 4 cups)
2 medium jalapeño chiles , one seeded and chopped fine, the other chopped fine with seeds
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 1/4 cups basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads , lightly crumbled
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Yogurt Sauce (see related recipe)

1. Wrap cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ginger, and cumin seed in small piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine. In 3 ½- to 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan about 8 inches in diameter, bring water, spice bundle, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to boil over medium-high heat; reduce to medium and simmer, partially covered, until spices have infused water, at least 15 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides; add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and dark brown about edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl, season lightly with salt, and set aside. Wipe out skillet with paper towels, return heat to medium-high, and place chicken thighs skin-side down in skillet; cook, without moving chicken, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and brown second side, 4 to 5 minutes longer; transfer chicken to plate and remove and discard skin. Tent with foil to keep warm.

3. If necessary, return spice-infused water to boil over high heat; stir in rice and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain rice through fine-mesh strainer, reserving ¾ cup cooking liquid; discard spice bundle. Transfer rice to medium bowl; stir in saffron and currants (rice will turn splotchy yellow). Spread half of rice evenly in bottom of now-empty saucepan using rubber spatula. Scatter half of onion mixture over rice, then place chicken thighs, skinned-side up, on top of onions; add any accumulated chicken juices. Evenly sprinkle with cilantro and mint, scatter remaining onions over herbs, then cover with remaining rice; pour reserved cooking liquid evenly over rice.

4. Cover saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes (if large amount of steam is escaping from pot, reduce heat to low). Run heatproof rubber spatula around inside rim of saucepan to loosen any affixed rice; using large serving spoon, spoon biryani into individual bowls, scooping from bottom of pot and serving 1 chicken thigh per person.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I need your help......

I'm calling on all my fellow food bloggers to give me your best recipes. I'm planning on entering a few catagories in our town's fair.

Here is what I want to enter.

wheat dinner rolls, banana layer cake, applesauce cake, choc. zucchini cake
lemon loaf( im using barefoot contessas), banana loaf(ive tried so many, do you have a fabulous one?)
bran muffins with fruit, oatmeal cookies
banana choc. chip muffin, muffin made with honey, 60 percent whole wheat bread loaf.

i also need a maple dessert.

Im looking forward to lots of help from ya'll

Sunday, August 28, 2005

2 dishes for my client

Braised chicken with swiss chard, tomatoes and balsamic Posted by Picasa

Im almost happy that my law firm job is ending. I havent cooked as much as I like because of time contraints. I worked today at the law firm. I could have stayed all day, but I knew I had to cook for my client.

I left work at 1:30 and went to No Frills. I needed a few last minute items. I made this dish for the first time today. Robin went to the clients house and picked some gorgeous yellow swiss chard. She also gave Robin some cukes and beans.

So, on to this dish. Braised chicken with swiss chard, tomatoes and balsamic reduction. I cooked the thighs in evoo, the added an onion and a diced shallot. My client cant have any garlic what so ever so I subbed the shallot. Next came some tomato paste and anchovy paste. Fresh thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf rounded out the herbs. Chicken stock and dry red wine, plus a can of chopped tomatoes was the balance of the liquid. This went into the oven for 40 min. The chard stems were added, cooked for 8 min. Then the leaves. cook for 3 more minutes and ta da, its done. The recipes in on the Cook's Illustrated website.

Client also requested curried couscous salad. Ive made this for her before and its so simple. The recipe comes from Ina Garten, barefoot contessa.

Curried couscous salad Posted by Picasa

The dressing consists of whole milk yogurt, evoo and white wine vinegar. Curry powder, tumeric, salt and pepper. You toss this with cooked couscous, diced red pepper, scallion, diced cukes( my addition), fresh parsley. Then you add currants and almonds.

I also made a version with quinoa. My client has a wheat intolerance so I thought Id make her the quinoa. I made it with a lemon vinagerette and some feta, pepitas( pumpkin seeds) and diced aprocots. I hope she likes it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

technical difficulties.

i cant find my posts. I changed templates and now I emailed an SOS to christine to help me. keep your fingers crossed.

More personal cheffing......

When it rains it pours eh? Today before I left work, I told R( the attorney Im assiting) that I could work for him on Sunday. I offered to clean up some files so the new person starting wouldnt come in to a big mess. Today I had so much work piled on top of me, that I cant imagine the new girl sitting down at the desk and diving head first. I remember my first few days I had a major headache. Anyway, he told me he would think about that. I think either Tuesday or Wednesday is my last day. So, when I get home, Robin tells me I got another PC job. I've cooked for them 3 times before. Its nice, because I can cook at home on my time. She called me tonight and ordered Chicken Biryani w/yogurt sauce, Braised chicken w/swiss chard and balsamic vinegar w/ polenta, a curried cous cous salad, a zucchini bread and a fish dish. I have to figure out the fish dish. This is all staggared cooking so thats good. She wants the second dish for Monday, but I'll have to cook it Sunday night. I have to search for my recipes. The chicken biryani is complicted with lots of spices( 10 pods of cardoman). I'll have to do some shopping at the bulk store on Saturday when Christine and I go to Port Huron.

Oy, its going to be a tiring week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A really easy lunch.........

chicken slouvaki Posted by Picasa

I made lunch for the girls at work. My take on chicken slouvaki. Marinated grilled chicken breasts, greek pita, thick greek yogurt taziki sauce, lettuce, seedless english cukes, red onion, feta.

This is the second lunch I've made for the girls. They seem to like it and I get to cook and everyone gets a fairly healthy lunch. Of course they paid for the ingredients which was nice.

I also made a cake, but Im too embarrased to post a pic. Its another pre-measured ingredient cake. You all are going to think I cant cook, but I really can, I promise. I bake really well, but my time is so limited. Im sad to say that my job will be over in a week. I was only temp( you can see one of the files in the backround) at the lawfirm. Hopefully, I can find some new PC chef clients.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Peach trifle......

peach trifle Posted by Picasa

Ok, the picture sucks, but it tasted good. We had friends over for dinner last night. I did the chicken fajitas( so good, i urge you to make these). I also made homeade black beans and brown spanish rice.

Christine brought me some fresh ontario peaches so I cut them up, used a yellow pound cake, a custard, fresh whipped cream and a peach puree along with some rum and threw together a trifle.

Im on the lookout for something new to cook this week. I just found out my job will end on August 30th. So, I guess Ill have more time to cook.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Chocolate and peanut butter......

Almost Flourless chocolate cake with PB ice cream Posted by Picasa

When I saw this almost flourless chocolate cake in Clotilde's foodblog, I knew I had to make. I had all the ingredients and it was the perfect dessert to make after work on Thursday. Clotilde said it would taste better the next day. I dont know how it tasted on day 1, but it was fabulous on day 2. As my neice Chelsea said " Its very rich". To gild the lily even further, I made a simple eggless Peanut butter ice cream I found on another foodblog. The recipe actually came from Cuisinart and since our Ice cream maker is a cuisinart, I thought how could I go wrong.

I still have to figure out something for tonight. Christine brought me some really nice Ontario peaches and apricots so I think I'll make a fruit gallette and serve both desserts. I know that Robin isnt a big fan of fruity desserts. Oh, wait, I just had another though. I could make a trifle with the fruit. Oy, so many recipes, so little time.

PB Ice Cream
1 1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream( I used 1 1/2 cup cream and made up the difference in milk)
1 1/8 cup peanut butter( not natural). I used my favorite which is Jiff
3/4 cup sugar( I used a tad less)
1 cup chopped PB cups

With a mixer, mix pb and sugar until well blended. Blend in Milk and cream. Pour into ice cream maker and proccess according to your ice cream maker's directions. When 15 min remain, add in the chopped candy.

I let this ripen in the freezer for about 15 min. It was creamy and delish.

Next time, I'll cut more of the cream out and use more milk.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Zuchini Spice Cake

Zucchini spice cake Posted by Picasa

Ok, I was going to delete this entry because I thought this cake was less than stellar. However, I did kinda screw it up so maybe thats why. This cake was another one using pre-measured ingredients aka cake mix. The recipe comes from the cake mix doctor. The recipe calls for a yellow mix, I couldnt rememeber what flavor while I was at the store so I picked up a spice mix because my brain registered zuchini spice cake. I also made a mistake and used 1/4 cup too much oil. I brought it into work and it was demolished so I guess it wasnt too bad. It seemed too oily and wet to me. I'm going to stay away from mixes for awhile and do some scratch baking on the weekend.

We're having company on Saturday night and Im making fajitas, rice, beans and I havent decided on dessert yet. What do you suggest?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

More poping

2 jams Posted by Picasa

My new favorite thing to do is make Jam. I havent made a lot this year because I havent had a lot of time. I did make an awesome batch of strawberry a few weeks ago. I've checked out Prize Winning preserves 3 times this year alone and I asked Christine if she wanted to make some jams with me. Of course, this was all before I got a job so its hard to co-ordinate our schedules. I had free time yesterday so I said what the hay, lets get it on.

gave me some gorgeous rasberries about a month ago. I froze them immediatly so I knew I had those. I found a recipe for rasberry plum which used small yellow plums. I bought a 3l basket and made 2 batches. I also made some strawberry margerita. The color and smell was fantastic, however I had the dreaded floating fruit problem. Oh well, I followed the directions exactly. The author says that strawberries are notorious for floating. This jam was different because it had lime juice, tequila and triple sec as the main ingredients. Im sure this will be fantastic over a baked brie.

The last jam I made was orange, ruhbarb ginger. This jam intrigued me because it uses no pectin and it uses orange sections. Ive never made a jam with oranges. The yield wasnt very high( only 3 jars) but it looks and smelled scrumptious. I still have a few more to try. Blueberry banana, pear ginger chocolate( cream de cacao) and a peach jam.

Guess what everyone is getting for Xmas?????

Friday, August 12, 2005

SHF #11 Coffee

Black Magic Cake Posted by Picasa

Welcome to my first SugarHighFriday hosted by Roland
I'm one of those rare people that doesn't need a cup of Joe in the morning to get me going. Now, my wife on the other hand is the complete opposite. The first thing she does after jumping out of bed is start her coffee maker.

Occasionally, I do enjoy a Starbucks frappacino or a Tim's Iced Cap. However, while Im not a big coffee connoisseur straight up, I really enjoy baking with coffee.

Coffee is a great partner to chocolate, it really brings out all the chocolately goodness and it helps provide a nice depth of flavor.

I decided to make my infamous Black Magic Cake. I've probably made this cake about a 1000 times in my life and it never fails to impress. Its such an easy cake too. Dump everything in a bowl, mix and bake. This cake is very verstatile. It can be made into cupcakes( but use the foil liners), baked into layers and slathered with Hershey's one bowl buttercream frosting, baked in a 9 x13 and toted to potlucks or as a bundt cake dusted with powdered sugar and served with whipped cream or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. It's also a very economical cake to make as it uses oil instead of butter.

I love this cake so much that I entered it in our towns fair last year and I won First Prize.

Please, please try it, but if you do, dont try subbing any cocoa other than Hershey's( unless of course you want to use valrhona, i'll forgive you for that)

Black Magic Cake
1 and 3/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup hersheys cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup butter milk
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup oil.
1 tsp vanilla

first measure out the dry ingredients, put into a large bowl. add all the wet ingredients except coffee. Mix well. Add coffee and bake at 350f. My oven is way off. My bundt cake took only 35 min. The smell is intoxicating.......

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Fajitas Posted by Picasa

Another winner from Cook's Illustrated. I've made fajitas before, in fact I've made them many times before, but this time I decided to actually follow a recipe. I didnt think that the marinade would have enough time to penetrate the chicken( 15 min) or have enough flavor, but it did on both accounts.

I also grilled one vidalia onion and a green pepper in my grill basket. Part of the marinade is set aside to toss with the veggies. I served these on whole wheat tortilla's with sour cream, and shredded co-jack. I put out some taco sauce, but I ended up not using any. These were so good.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blueberry Buckle..........

Blueberry buckle Posted by Picasa

If you’re going to make only one recipe with blueberries this season, make this one.

This recipe came from Cook’s Illustrated, and if you know anything about CI, you’ll know that they meticulously test their recipes. Since CI is an American magazine, I always worry about using flour from Canada. I bought a huge bag of unbleached flour at the Arva flour mill a couple months ago. ( as a side note, if you live in London and you like to bake, Id really recommend Arva flour mill, their prices are great and so is the quality).

Anyway, back to the buckle. First you make a simple crumb topping in a standing mixer. Butter, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and a small amount of white sugar. Then you, cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and then flour, salt and baking powder. After all that is combined you fold in FOUR cups of blueberries. Seriously, this buckle is loaded with them. Sprinkle on the crumb topping and bake for 45 min(55 in a normal oven, mine is way too hot).

Robin isn’t a big fan of fruit desserts, but I really hope she tries this. It’s stupendous.

weekday breakfast

french toaast and bacon Posted by Picasa

If there is one thing I've been trying to change about Robin since I met her, its her lack of breakfast eating. Every once in awhile she'll go thru a breakfast spurt, but for the most part she drinks her two cups of coffee and thats it.

However, on weekends, she is usually up for a big breakfast and she'll often ask me "whats for breakfast". The last couple weekends, we've both wanted savory items. One weekend I made turkey bacon club sandwiches and we enjoyed those. I even had a pickle and a soda with it.

Last night as we were driving home from getting our hair cut, I said to Robin " Im going to make breakfast tomorrow, can you make the bacon"? Robin is an excellent bacon maker. Her slices are always very straight and not overcooked at all.

I made us simple french toast. Beaten egg, cinnamon and a little milk. I had some peach puree from Italy on top of mine. Robin had sugar free syrup. I used some whole wheat bread from Angelo's.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Torta di Pasta

Torta di Pasta Posted by Picasa

This is another Giada recipe. I thought it would be good to serve with the seafood salad. Last night I met Christine for dinner and afterwards, I stopped at Loblaw's. They had some de cecco pasta on clearance for 90 cents. I modified the recipe somewhat. Giada calls for sun-dried tomatoes, I used mushrooms. Giada calls for fontina, I used smoked mozzarella. Cooked pasta is mixed with eggs, cheeses, and then cooked in a pan and briefly broiled. I served this with some paul newman marinara sauce. Robin pronounced it "different", and " not something you would find around here". LOL!! It was light and tasty.

Grilled Seafood Salad

Grilled Seafood Salad Posted by Picasa

You really have to try this recipe. Its fresh, light and easy. This recipe comes from Giada De Laurentis's show Everyday Italian. I've watched Giada make this numerous times and each time I though oh, gosh, I really need to make this. I had almost all the ingredients except the arugula. I sent Robin to the store this morning for some Mache( pronounced Mosh). Mache is also known as lamb's lettuce and I was thrilled to see it at Hansen's. Robin ended up getting the mix of mache, radichio and frise. I had a mini-meltdown because I cant stand those two greens, but they worked out nice in the salad.

The first thing you do is make a garlic/herb infused Olive oil. Chop up a few garlic cloves, and heat with 1/2 cup EVOO. Add some chopped herbs, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Part of this is tossed with scallops and squid. I used shrimp and squid instead. This seafood is grilled( I used a stovetop grill) and then the rest of the dressing is tossed with the mache( giada calls for arugula), carrots and white kidney beans. Its then supposed to be served in raddicio cups.

I didnt care for the squid, but I loved the shrimp. I'll definatly make this again.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad Posted by Picasa

The women in my office do a lot of interesting things to make the days more enjoyable. For instance, On Thursday's they have a loonie draw and last Friday we all had to bring in an item that would fit in a small box and everyone exchanged boxes and the person had to wear the item.

On the last Loonie draw, the woman who sits across from me won 18 dollars. The other girls joked with her that she could buy them lunch. I said " what can you get for 18 dollars"? Uhhh, pizza came the response.

I said " Or, she could give the money to me and I could make you lunch". Well, before you could say "boo" an envelope was passed around and everyone contributed 2 dollars for me to make a chinese chicken salad.

The recipe is based loosely on Bobby Flay's recipe. Chopped Romaine, chopped napa, cilantro, green onions, beans sprouts, snow peans and shredded carrot. The dressing is a mildly spicy peanut dressing. I added some fried wontons for crunch and peanuts for contrast.

I baked a loaf of whole wheat oatmeal bread to round out the salad.

Everyone raved and I'm going to ask them if they want me to do it again. This way I get to try new recipes and provide good, healthy inexpensive lunch.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Corn and Zucchini Chowder

corn zucchini chowder Posted by Picasa

I normally dont eat soup in the summer, however I make exception to corn chowders. I love fresh corn and the season is all too short here. ( It did start early this year though).

I read thru a few recipes and decided to just wing it. I knew that I had to boil the shucked corn cobs in order to extract the most flavor. I used 6 ears of corn and some scraps of onion and celery I had frozen. I threw in some fresh thyme, salt and pepper. I boiled that up and strained. I then sweated 2 shallots in some olive oil, along with some salt. I added 1 chopped up zucchini and 2 red potatoes. In went the corn and the broth. I simmered until the spuds were tender, then puree'd the mix in the blender. I left a few potato pieces a bit chunky. I finished this off with half a cup of cream and some shredded cheddar. Its very light and flavorful.

Monday, August 01, 2005

More Ham

Rotini pasta with ham and brocoli Posted by Picasa

This is the second dish in the ham trilogy. The recipe called for white pasta, frozen brocoli and skim milk. I used whole wheat rotini, fresh brocoli and 2% milk. The recipe also called for velvetta, but I ended up buying velvetta slices and using those( its a lot cheaper). I made individual servings and a small loaf pan. Before baking, I'll top with some toasted breadcrumbs.

The Curling Ham..........

Ham, green chili and mushroom filling  Posted by Picasa

Filled quesadilla Posted by Picasa

There have been a lot of new words added to my vocabulary since I've moved to Canada. Bonspiel was one of them. I never heard of that until last year when Robin joined the curling team in Exeter. I was surprised when she came home from her last Bonspiel of the season with half a Schneider's ham. Now, being the Jewish girl that I am, I dont really care for ham that much. I can take it in very small doses, usually mixed with other ingredients, but I dont like it alone.

So, that leads us from last night when this half ham was the nuisance that refused to let the freezer door close.

Clearly, it was time to defrost it and do something with it.

Enter 3 recipes from Cooking Light. I went to the website typed in HAM and no less than 167 recipes came up.

I chose 3. The above green chili, mushroom and ham quesadilla's, a rotini pasta with brocoli and ham and a potato, spinach and ham gratin. The last item will be dinner tonight( although at this point,after dealing with this ham all afternoon, Im a tad sick of it)

I rarely follow a recipe when it comes to Cooking Light. I usually add a few more spices or a bit more of this or that. For instance, this recipe called for 1 package of mushrooms and 2tbls of green chili. I used 2 packages of mushrooms, the whole entire small can of green chili's( mild, bought in Port Huron at Kroger) and I added some cumin and garlic. I also used some brie that I had from Trader Joe's and the rest of the smoked Gouda. I used 5 whole wheat wraps, assembled them and froze them. These will be nice with a salad.