Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomato, Shrimp, and Basil Frittata

Driving home from work today I wasn't sure what to cook for dinner.

And let me tell you, it's been a lousy couple of days.

Cloudy weather, work pressures, and the feeling I'm fighting off a cold have made me slightly less motivated to cook something time consuming, yet still in need of delicious, soul satisfying yumminess.

But what?

Before I left the office I called the Man I Married, aka Poolboy, to see if he could give me any indication of what he might like to have, and while I was at it, I polled my son who is currently home from university.

Their responses:

Son: I'm going to the movies so don't worry about me. I'll have a chunky soup.

Wonderful! (I thought) If TH was having chunky soup, perhaps I could talk the PB into having the same, leaving me free to pick up sushi.

Man I Married: I`m starving so whatever - but I don`t feel like soup.

Great.

So as I drove home, I began thinking about some of the ingredients I had on hand.

Tomatoes out the ying yang
The last basil in my garden, just getting ready to turn
Beautiful fresh eggs from my neighbour's lovely chickens
A package of frozen tiger prawns
Parmesan arregiano
Feta cheese

Eureka!

I had the makings for a tasty frittata.

Flavourful and easy to make, frittatas make a wonderful weeknight meal.
I started by putting a large pot of water that had been seasoned with one tsp coarse sea salt on to boil.

When the water was boiling, I added 2 cups of frozen prawns and let them boil app 2 minutes until tender and pink.

Drain and set aside.

Add to the warm shrimp:
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
The flavours of summer on a chilly fall day...



Set aside.

Beat 6 eggs with a whisk















And pour into a well oiled heated cast iron frying pan set to medium.

Add the shrimp and vegetables

















One cup feta cheese

















1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

















Continue to cook over medium heat until egg begins to bubble (app 5 minutes)

Finish under broiler in oven until frittata is puffy and the cheese is golden brown.

Serve with a green salad and a nice chardonnay.
















For PRINTABLE RECIPE click HERE

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lynne Crawford I Ain't...Acorn Squash and Coconut Goop, erm, I Mean Soup...

After a recent run of recipe successes, I got it in my head yesterday to take things up a notch and concoct the perfect soup for fall.

BAM!

I know, Emerill would be so proud.

I even had the nerve to brag about it on Facebook - my amazing soup and incredible Sunday dinner prowess - letting the whole world (aka the 18 people who have hit the "like" button on this blog) know that I am the next Lynne Crawford.

Cook's note: I love Lynne Crawford. She's cool.
And because I just watched a Food Network show that featured Lynne and a squash, I decided to make my soup accordingly.

With acorn squash, no less.

Acorn squash can be peeled with a potato peeler. Do not try to remove skin with a paring knife. Almost. Lost. Finger.







To get started, I boiled the squash as per Martha's Stewart's directions in my bible: Martha Stewart's Cooking School, mashed it up and set it aside.

Mashed Squash - Oooh!!! Aaaaah!!!!!!!!!!


















Onward to the broth!

Coconut, I thought, would be very Top Chef.

With curry. Chicken stock. Onions. And Evaporated milk.

I began to cook.

First by sauteeing an onion and some celery in a couple tbsp of butter, adding the curry, some salt, pepper, a little flour, the chicken stock, coconut milk, Jamaican hot sauce, and evaporated milk. Last, I added the squash.

Then I chucked all that into a blender to puree.

Mmmm right?

Have you ever seen an episode of Top Chef where they've made something that wasn't quite right so they keep adding more stuff to it?

Well that's what happened to me.

I tasted the soup.

It was all right.

Tasty even.

But not the culinary materpiece I had envisioned when I first set out.

I tried it again.

Definitely missing something...

But what?

Fall... sweetness...harvest...

Apples!!!

That was it!! it needed apples.

And bacon.

Definitely bacon.
















Note:

It takes a particular kind of person to throw bacon into a soup she intends to puree and then feed to her husband.














It takes a whole other level of crazy to take pictures while you're doing it.

I am that kind of crazy.

With a cream of acorn squash, coconut, apple, and bacon soup that still didn't taste right.

Go figure.

So I added lime.

More salt.

More pepper.

And a handful of cilantro.

(Don't ask)

The result:

Maven's Fresh Goop

Bon appetite!














I'd include a printable recipe but no.

Epilogue:

The Poolboy (aka my husband) loved the soup so much he asked for a second bowl. Let's keep the pureed bacon our little secret.

And that's the blog!

***

Post script...

I wrote a companion blog for this on A Fabulously Good Life:
Maven - The next Food Network Star?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grilled Corn with Jalapeno Butter

I came up with this recipe several years ago when my husband developed an affinity for the flavour of jalapeno peppers.


We had an abundance of peppers on hand along with late summer corn.

Since then, they've become a family tradition come summer and early fall - often served with creole rubbed grilled pork, and twice baked potatoes.

It's a simple recipe with big flavour. Better still, it can be made ahead.

Grilled Corn with Jalapeno Butter
For PRINTABLE RECIPE click HERE
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
The colours of late summer in a bowl
Add the juice of one whole lime
And mix everything together.

















Using your hands, massage evenly into four cobs of corn and then wrap in tinfoil.




Can be made ahead at this point, refrigerated and grilled later

































 Grill over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently.

















Enjoy!



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Emeril's Creole Seasoning Mix

This recipe by Chef Emeril Lagasse has become such a mainstay in my cooking, I decided to post it so that I never lose it!

One of my favourite things to use this amazing rub on is grilled pork chops.

Tender juicy grilled pork is taken over the flavour edge with Emeril's rub

Here are the links to the recipes posted aboved:

The Ultimate Twice baked Potatoes
Grilled Corn with Jalapeno Butter

Creole Seasoning Ingredients:


* 2-1/2 Tbsp paprika
* 2 Tbsp salt
* 2 Tbsp garlic powder
* 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
* 1 Tbsp onion powder
* 1 Tbsp cayenne
* 1 Tbsp dried oregano
* 1 Tbsp dried thyme

Preparation:

Combine paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme thoroughly in a bowl.

Store in an airtight container away from light. Use within three months.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Crispy Chicken with Orange Ginger Sauce

Do you have a favourite grocery store?

I know I do. And the interesting things is, the more I've gotten into food - learning how to work with fresh ingredients and interesting flavour combinations - my taste in grocery stores has changed.

Where once I favoured the large markets filled with generic items and bulk goods, I now like to get my shop on at a locally owned grocery store where an abundance of produce, meat, and dairy, can be found from from our local farmers.

I won't lie.

I pay more to shop the way I do.

But I've come to the point in my love affair with flavour to believe that you get what you pay for. Besides, there are better things to skimp on - like not eating in fast food restaurants or paying $5.00 for a cup of coffee when you can grind your beans and brew at home.

***

I spent the afternoon in foodie heaven. Roaming the meat and produce aisles envisioning the kinds of meals I could create with the Pacific salmon, prawns, greens, cheeses, and free range eggs that were in abundance.

And then I began to think about dinner.

It was a grey drizzly day here on the west coast - a day that needed some brightening with, perhaps, a little citrus.

As I walked through the poultry aisle, I spotted bone in, skin on chicken breasts, and began formulating a crispy skinned chicken dish with some kind of Asian inspired orange sauce.

Mmmmmm...

And the more I thought about it, the hungrier I got.

So that by the time I arrived home, I set to cooking!

















I have to admit, as a novice recipe creator I am really quite proud of this one - and the secret is most definitely in the sauce which was not only absolutely delicious, it could be served alongside any Asian inspired chicken dish.

Here's what I did...

I preheated the oven to 350 and then created a rub for the chicken using:
  • 1 tsp good quality salt
  • 1 tsp salt free lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Rub the chicken on both sides with about a half tsp of spice rub per breast. (use as much or as little to suit your tastes)

Place chicken skin side up in a shallow roasting pan on a roasting rack in a 350 oven for app 45 minutes to one hour. Chicken breasts should be an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

While the chicken roasted, I made the sauce:

















To make sauce:
  • Gently heat 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp minced ginger in one tbsp butter
  • Add 1 tbsp brown sugar and stir well to incorporate.
To that add
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • pinch of salt to taste
Stir well over medium heat and then mix 1 additional tbsp orange juice with one tbsp cornstarch in a separate dish. Add to the pot. Heat and stir until thickened.

When the chicken came out of the oven I re-set the heat to broil and then put the breasts under the broiler for about a minute. Watch carefully so chicken doesn't burn - this will give the skin a nice crispness.

To serve, place a generous ladle of sauce on plate, place the chicken on top, and drizzle with a little more suce. Accompany with jasmine rice that is garnished with scallions, roasted unsalted cashews, and a tbsp of sauce.

















Enjoy!

For PRINTABLE RECIPE click HERE

Creating everyday magic in the kitchen is a great way to look after yourself, unwind, and enjoy wonderful flavours with friends and family.

Until next time...

Boo!




***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Seafood Pasta in Savoury Tomato Sauce

Click play for the step by instructions or read on...



This morning when I began thinking about what I should take out of the freezer for dinner it occurred to me I hadn't been to the grocery in awhile.

Further inspection into the empty cavern that was once a full freezer confirmed this.

I had two boneless pork loin chops, a quarter bag of tiger prawns, and four Alaskan King crab legs left over from a seafood feast a few weekend ago.

In other words, dinner wasn't looking promising.

But I've been so busy workwise, the last thing I felt like doing this afternoon was hit the grocery store - especially since my trusty sidekick, Max the adorably cute miniature schnauzer, would be with me after a long day at doggie daycare.

Two words people: Judge not.

So on my way home from the office I began conjuring...

What could I make?
What flavours might go nicely together?
And most importantly, what did I feel like eating?

As mentioned in my last blog, Fresh Sole Topped with Olive Infused Salsa Cruda, I have an abundance of end of the summer tomatoes that need some attention.

So I began thinking about tomato flavours infused with the King Crab and Prawns.

Mmmmmmm.....



I began to salivate as I drove.

When I arrived home, I set a pot of salted water onto the stove to boil and added the crab legs...

















When they had reached a nice boil, I added my 1/4 bag of tiger prawns to the water and let the whole thing cook for about a minute until everythinhg turned nice and pink.

















I set that aside to cool, and then I began my sauce by sauteeing four cloves of chopped garlic in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil...

Sautee over medium high heat stirring constantly just until you begin to smell the garlic.

Then take 3-4 fresh ripe diced tomatoes

There are more health benefits derived from eating a tomato than ever imagined proving benefits in preventing cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol.


Continue to saute over medium heat until the tomatoes soften and break down. (about five minutes)

















To that I added one large can of good quality tomatoes, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, hot sauce to taste, and 1/3 cup dry white wine.

Turn to medium low and let gently simmer for about an hour until the sauce reduces and thickens.

















Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the shells from your king crab, and then shell your prawns.

















Set aside.

When the sauce is at a desired consistency, cook your pasta in boling well salted water just until al dente.

Add your seafood to the sauce during the last five minutes of cooking.

















Add 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, freshly grated parmesan, and chopped parsley.

Spoon over pasta - preferably fresh or homemade fettucini - I served mine over middle of the road shell pasta and and know the entire dish would have been better over fresh.

Don't get me wrong, though, it was still damn good for a Monday :-)

















For printable recipe click HERE

 

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fresh Sole Topped with Olive Infused Salsa Cruda

Today's recipe is absolutely DELICIOUS!

Honest.















For the longest time I thought coming home from work and cooking dinner was a chore. But as I've gotten a little older, and a lot more appreciative of the abundance in my life, the cooking of dinner has become somewhat of an evening meditation.

It begins in the morning as I get ready. Brush my teeth, do my hair, slap on a little makeup, and then - what to cook for dinner?

Oftentimes, because I'm a Food Network, Food blog, and cookbook junkie, I've been up for an hour reading or watching something that inspires me and already have a basic idea of what I would like to prepare.

Like this morning.

I was looking at a recipe for sole meuniere and thought fish might be nice.

And I just happened to have sole that I purchased fresh last weekend in my freezer.

At first I had every intention of re-creating a lovely lemony meuniere, but as the day wore on, I began to feel less excited about eating buttery fried food.

Work has been stressful, cold and flu season abounds, and the late bounty of tomatoes coming from my garden was enough to have me reconsider something healthier.

And then I remembered! I still had a container of tapenade that I had made last weekend for a Giada recipe: Rib Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette

What if I used half as a marinade to steam the sole in and then mixed the other half with fresh tomatoes, parsley, and capers as kind of salsa cruda for the fish?

Cooking can be so exciting!

So that's what I did...

Starting with the sole.

I laid her on a cookie sheet all debutante like, covered her with foil and then sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, and about a 1/2 tsp herbes de provence.
















It became apparent our girl needed some suntan oil. So I generously slathered her on both sides with Giada's Vinaigrette.















I covered the fish with a tent of tin foil and put her in a 425 oven for 12 minutes.

Then I went to work on the topping.

Two red, ripe, juicy tomatoes, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, and 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette

















Et voila!

















Fresh, flavourful, easy, and delicious fish - the perfect meal for the tail end of a busy week.

For PRINTABLE RECIPE click HERE

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fine Art of Baking Bread

On Baking Bread...



I've talked a lot about my grandmother over the years, but what I haven't mentioned is that my mom (Aurora) is also a fantastic cook/homemaker.

Sure, she wore platform shoes and frosted afro wigs in the 70's - mortifying me at more than one parent teacher night - but despite her groovy appearance, she was an old fashioned girl at heart.

We always had a garden and at this time of year my mother would be blanching vegetables to freeze, canning tomatoes and making pickles and jam - in fact I just got off the phone with her not two minutes ago after having had an animated discussion about the freezing of tomatoes.

Like her mother before, my mom was and is a great gardener and it wasn't unusual for me to have an orange ring around my month come Autumn from eating raw carrots which she grew in abundance.

The funny thing is, I took absolutely no interest in any of it.

Friends who knew me back in the day can't believe it when they find out I turned out to be so domestic.

They remember that I failed home economics in grade nine.

Oh yes I did.

Unlike my mom who was always a genius with a needle and thread; sewing her own clothes, upholstering furniture, making curtains, and even going so far as to make a lampshade out of cloth a few years back, the sorry ass blouse I made in grade nine garnered me my first ever "F."

I wish I had a picture.

***

We were a household that seldomn had things in our pantry like store bought cookies, potato chips, or Wonder Bread.

In fact, for most of my childhood all the bread in our house was homemade.

My mom would bake bread every couple of weeks doing up two or three batches of five loaves each and freezing them.

Though I didn't appreciate it at the time, baking bread has now become a favourite past time for me.

I find it relaxing.

No bread machine for this gal either. I like to get my hands right into the dough, kneading as I go, imparting my own special brand of care with every fold and punch.

Though it may seem daunting, baking bread is really very easy...

Want to learn how?

Let's begin with my mom's simple recipe for white bread... next week we'll make my Uncle Glen's Sunflower Health bread which is a lot more complicated, but for this week, I'll start you off easy.

My Mom's White Bread

One of the things I'm hoping to do with this blog is to define my style as a cook, which would best be described as simple and rustic.

I want to show you that cooking and baking aren't as scary as you think, and that the preparation of good food is attainable for all, no matter what your experience or skill level in the kitchen.

In food as in life, don't be afraid to experiment, have fun, and mess up.

Messing up, after all, is the best way to learn...

***

Being old fashioned as you know I am, I subscribe to the Indian way of baking and do most things by hand and by feel. But you can also mix your bread up using a Kitchenade or other mixer.

So...

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, starting with yeast and water and mix for a minute with a wooden spoon.

4-1/2 cups warm water
3-4 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons oil



Next add five cups of flour and mix for several minutes in a mixer or with very clean hands. Keep adding flour (5-7 more cups) gradually blending it in until you reach the right consistency: a little soft, a little sticky, but still easy to handle.

Now turn the dough out on a clean, floured work surface.

Flour your hands well.

Use the heel of your hands to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself.



(not my picture but I thought it was a good depiction of what kneading looks like for someone who may not know)

Give the dough a little turn and repeat Step 4. Put the weight of your body into the motion and get into a rhythm.

Find your Zen.

Be the bread.

Do this for ten minutes.

Seriously.

As my father in law Victor Wells would tell you, "The secret to great bread is in the kneading."

No one on earth made better bread than him when he as alive.

Just ask the Poolboy.

***

Yours will look something like this when you're done:



Put it in a bowl that's been rubbed with vegetable oil, and get it all good and shiny.

Again, think Dr. McSteamy, and leave it in a warm place to rise.

Oh mama.



Let double (which looks like above) and punch down. Let rise again ( to look like above) Punch down.

Here's what it should look like when you punch it down. Basically you're punching the air out of it...



Now roll it out into a rectangle and cut into five equal pieces.

Put each piece into a bread pan that you have buttered and form it to the pan.

Let rise to the top of pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter before baking if desired.



Like my mother did so many years ago, I baked ten loaves this weekend, sliced them, placed them into freezer bags and froze them all.



It will be really nice to take sandwiches to work on fresh homemade bread...

A simple pleasure that adds so much to daily life.

***

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