Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes

There are few things I love more than potatoes. I think that's the Albertan in me. I have a special fondness in my little heart for those bad boys.


It's been a long time since I've lived in Calgary, Alberta. In that time I've developed a raging affinity for other foods: pasta, polenta, homemade tomato sauce, chicken liver pate, cheese, wine. In fact, I often think my food-soul is Italian. 

And I have mostly managed to shake a lot of the Albertanisms that make me think of it as "little Texas" - big money, greed, Budweiser, big oil guzzling trucks, saying "get 'er done". Not that there is anything wrong with Alberta or Texas in and of themselves - I'm just a little more West coast than that. Or as the people I work with often refer to me, a little more social-communist. And I'm okay with that. I like shopping vintage thrift and up-cycling material goods. Smart cars are an excellent way to get around the city. And sauntering from one place to another, taking time to smell the flowers and breathe the air and watch the birds and lay on the beach all while being protected by universal medicine is A-okay with me.


But try as I might - potatoes linger both in my mind and judging by the popularity of the Paleo diet, my hips too, apparently.  Smother 'em in cheesy, creamy goodness and I've got the best of all worlds.

So while Italian may be my food-soul, potatoes are my soul-food. They remind me that I stem from a meat and potatoes kinda place. Filled with big trucks, oil money and bad beer. So I hold them dear and close to my heart. That and country music.

Scalloped Potatoes
(printable recipe) - serves 4.


Ingredients:

Approx 3 Lb (6 medium sized) Yukon gold Potatoes, sliced very thinly (use a mandolin on thinnest setting).
1 Onion, peeled & sliced very thinly in the same way as the potatoes.
2 Garlic Cloves, minced.
1 or 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme.
1 Bay Leaf.
2 1/2 C 2% Milk or Cream.
2 Tbsp Butter.
2 Tbsp Flour.
Pinch of Nutmeg.
1 1/2 C Gruyere Cheese, grated.
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, grated.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F & lightly grease a 9 X 9" baking dish.

Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and melt until sizzling - add the flour and stir constantly until fragrant and just starting to change color. Remove from the heat and add the milk, stirring to ensure it doesn't curdle. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, nutmeg and a generous helping of salt and pepper. Place back on heat and stir stir stir until the milk thickens. Remove from the heat and discard what's left of the thyme stem.

Ladle a little of the liquid into the prepared baking dish, followed by closely layered slices of potatoes so they overlap. Top with some of the grated Gruyere and another ladle full of the milk mixture. Repeat until the dish is full with 1/2" of headroom - you should end up with 3 - 4 layers of potatoes, finishing with the Parmesan cheese.

Cover with tin foil and place in the oven to bake for 50 - 60 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and golden.

Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting into. 

Eat.


What's your background? What foods or lifestyle choices do you hold close to your heart? What makes you who you are? What do you hang on to? What do you let go of? Are there any other country fans in the house?


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Korma Curry Paste

The Lowdown:

Curries are just one of those things that I feel everyone should love. They are full of flavour, extremely versatile, aromatic, and healthy. I'm not claiming to be a curry guru by any means. Maybe just a huge fan that's a borderline stalker. It may be the fact that they are extremely versatile. It may be the aroma that they emit as they slowly simmer. It may be the "set it and forget it" mentality. It may be the inferno from the hot peppers. It may be childhood nostalgia (there were a lot of Indian meals growing up). Or it may even be the ease of making a large batch and freezing it. What ever it is, I adore them.

This variety of curry is a product of Moghul influence in the geographic regions now known as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The word "korma" essentially just means to braise (low and slow baby, low and slow). They are generally milder and sweeter, as opposed to fiery. The addition of nuts and coconut milk make this curry a truly interesting meal.

Curries are often one of those things that annoy me the most in blogging. I absolutely hate it when you click on a blog recipe and one of the ingredients is a packaged curry paste. Using a store bought curry paste in a recipe is like calling a photo of a painting the real deal. Chances are, if you're simply just writing down the instructions from the back of the package it's not worth your time to write (or our time to read). It's rubbish. It makes me so upset that I'm being forced to use British slang. So, if you're stuck in a rut and want a make-ahead meal plan, a homemade curry paste is an excellent way to go.

On a final note, this batch of paste (noted in the photos) is green because I had spinach that was on its last legs. Not wanting to waste it, I ground it into the curry paste. I'm not sure about the legalities of this, but the flavour was excellent.



The Playlist:

3 tbsp Cumin seed, toasted then ground
2 tbsp Turmeric
1 tbsp Coriander seed, ground
1/2 cup Cilantro, loosely chopped
1/4 cup Ginger, pealed & loosely chopped
6 Chili peppers
5 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Desiccated coconut (dried and flaked)
3 tbsp Garam masala
1/2 cup Cashews, ground
1 cup Vegetable oil (canola)
Pepper, generous amount


The Skinny:

  1. Put the oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cilantro, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, garam masala, and pepper into a blender and blend until an oily paste is formed. 
  2. Once a paste consistency is formed slowly add the coconut and cashews. If the blender is labouring too much, you can manually mix these in.
  3. Put 1 cup servings into individual containers and refrigerate for 2-3 days before using. The individual servings that are not used can be frozen (just make sure you don't microwave them to thaw). 
  4. The paste highly concentrated, so I mix 1 cup of the paste with 2-4 cups of broth depending on the desired consistency and what is going into the curry. No oil in the pan is needed, as there is enough in the paste itself.


Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade

Thursday, December 13, 2012

RPI Eggs: Super Simple Poached Egg Sunday Breakfast

Happy Thursday darlings!


The best part of my day? I logged into Blogger, checked the blog's stats for the day, and opened up my draft for RPI Mission Eggs... I was greeted by this:

Jingle bells, batman smells, Robin laid an egg.
Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away.

Oh the joy of sharing a blog with a close friend who you wished lived closer. I've heard this song eight million times and was always kind of annoyed by it. Until now. Now it's the endearing gentle message my dear friend Haydn left me in my draft copy of RPI Eggs - a small but significant message that he hopelessly misses me. I miss you too, Haydn. Stupid, giant, Canadian country.

Something else that is dear to my heart? Eggs. Particularly, super simple Sunday breakfast eggs. When we established eggs as our Rock, Paper, ingredient mission this month, my mind immediately started digging into the various culinary fascinations of eggs - custards, cakes, aioli, souffle, blah blah blah. Ultimately, I chose to showcase the true nature of the protein powerhouse known as the egg. And stayed true to chicken.

Small side note: Duck eggs scare the squeezebox outta me. Much too large. Much. too. large. Pretty much anything that is larger in size than the average/normal freaks me out.

All you need for this recipe: eggs, bread, left over veggies. Maybe a little cheese. Golden. 

Super Simple Poached Egg Breakfast
(printable recipe) - serves 2.


Ingredients:

4 Pastured Eggs.
1 Tsp Vinegar.
1 Bunch Kale or Chard.
1/3 C Chicken or Veggie Stock.
2 Pieces Baguette or Sourdough Loaf, cut on an angle.
2 Shavings of Salty Grainy Cheese (ie Grana Padano, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Pre-heat your oven to a high broil. Once hot, place sliced bread on a baking sheet, brushed lightly with olive oil, and slide under heat. Broil until golden. Remove from oven and lay the cheese on warm toast. Set aside.

Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F. Re-heat winter veg in oven until hot. 

Heat 2 Tbsp of oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Once hot, throw in the greens, season well with salt and pepper and stir well to coat. Add the stock and while stirring often, allow the greens to cook through and the stock to evaporate.

To poach eggs: Bring a deep saute pan of salted water to a light boil over medium-high heat. Once the water starts to bubble, add vinegar. Crack eggs into individual bowls and gently slide into the semi-boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, corral the whites around the yolks to help them keep their shape. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked through and the yolks runny. Remove from water and gently place eggs on top of cheesy toast.

Throw it all on a plate and chow down my friends, chow down.

Yes - eat.


How do your friends let you know they love you? How do you show you love them?


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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RPI: Egg - The Happy John

The Lowdown:


Every cocktail seems to have a story. Perhaps, it put the tale in cocktail. In that case, a storyless beverage would be a... well, let's just leave that up to your imagination. This cocktail is no different. Although it may not have the disputable history of the Old Fashioned, it always makes me laugh when I order it. Perhaps snicker, laugh seems to be a bit too out there.

This story begins when we were young enough to sneak spiced rum into the late night showing of the horror-movie-du-jour. Okay,I'm not going to lie I still think it's fun. Everyone would then get their favourite pop to mix. Simple enough. That is until you order Orange Crush. You then sit down, add the two flavours up in your head, and realize that you may have to endure the grossest drink ever. Wrong! It's actually amazing.

Fast forward two years. We are all sitting at our favourite BBQ joint, when I notice that they have Orange Crush and spiced whiskey. Eureka, an instant classic. Until I was smited by the bartender and my fellow friends that is. Apparently whiskey and orange soda is some form of faux-pas in the realm of beverages. Once again I endured.

Fast forward a couple of months. The setting: the same BBQ joint, rainy night, approximately 7*c, gentle northeasterly breeze, 8:30pm PST. Everyone is sitting at the table with their drink of choice, the Happy John. The components, as you may have guessed, are orange soda and spiced whiskey. But where is the irony you say? It lies in the fact that in my absence the drink was now named after the person whom originally ostracized me for ordering it all those months ago.

Oh the humanity! The humility! Now, locked away in my attic, I have been burning the midnight oil to recreate this untold masterpiece to get my own form of justice; the Happy John v.2.0 (which is essentially a modified Boston Sour). Remove the redneck, add a touch of class, and recreate a classic. And just like that, I get my silent revenge (not to mention a delicious cocktail in front of me and my RPI: Egg post completed).



The Playlist:

The Happy John
2 oz Spiced Whiskey
1/2 - 1 oz Simple syrup (depending how sweet oranges are)
1 Egg white
1/2 Naval orange, juiced

Orange Simple Syrup

3 cups Water
2 Oranges, peels only
5 Allspice berries
Sugar 


The Skinny:

  1. In small pot: combined water, orange peels, and allspice berries. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling reduce the heat to low, uncover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain contents of the pot, keeping only the orange liquid. Using a measuring cup, make a 1:1 ratio of sugar to orange liquid. Put this mixture back into the pot and heat until sugar is fully disolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In ice-free martini shaker: combined cocktail ingredients and shake vigerously. Strain into an ice filled glass. Garnish as desired.
  4. Enjoy. 


Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Salads Ain't Just Fo' Summer Yo!

There are plenty of splendid and flavorful ingredients that can be used to make some pretty stellar Winter ones. Who needs mass produced & globally shipped lettuce when you can use locally and organically grown kale? Mmmm-mmmm - Christmas Winter salads are a wee bit of yum, yes?



I know, I know.

I promise that every post I do here up until Christmas will not be Christmas related.

To be fair though, this dish really isn't about Christmas. It's about using your Winter veg up effectively and let's be honest: Sometimes it's friggin difficult to find a fresh way to use those beets. Or leafy greens.


There comes a point, in every CSA participant's box, when we think "for the love of all that is good and holy - if I get one more (insert bastard vegetable here), I'm going to kill myself!". For me, that's usually kohlrabi. For John, it's turnips. Thence this recipe.

The fact that this dish is white, green and red just happens to make it an excellent side to a holiday meal. I promise, it's not Christmas.

Beet Carpaccio & Massaged Kale Winter Salad
(printable recipe) - serves 2.


Ingredients for Salad:

6 Small Red Beets, scrubbed and well dried.
6 Small Golden Beets, scrubbed and well dried.
1 Bunch Kale.
6 Oz Goat Cheese, room temperature.
Handful of Sweet & Spicy Nuts.
Coarse Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/2 C Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
The Juice of 1 Orange.
1 Tbsp Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar.
Coarse Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place the golden beets in one roasting pan and the red beets in another. Drizzle both with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and roast in the oven for 40 - 60 minutes, depending on the size and age of the beets. When a fork slides gently into the beet, they're done. Remove from the oven and set aside until you can touch them. Chop off the top, peel the skins off and discard and place beets in the fridge until cool.

Meanwhile: remove the stem/rib of the kale and then chop into thin sliced. Massage - yes, massage - until the kale becomes soft and edible. This can take a while so just plop down in front of the tv if you want and rub baby rub. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Dump all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake. Set aside.

Once the beets are cool, use your mandolin to slice them on the thinnest setting. Watch your fingers! You can do this with a knife but it will take longer and it will be difficult to be as consistent. Make sure you do all the golden ones before the red or you will discolor the delicate gold beets with purple.

Lay the red beets on a plate, slightly overlapping the edges until the plate is full. Slide gold slices so they lay just slightly under each red beet. 

In a bowl, dress the kale with some of the dressing and the goat cheese. Gently place on top of the beets and finish with some nuts.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Eat.


How do you feel about Winter salads? Have you ever massaged kale? What do you get in your CSA that makes your little heart happy? Angry? Confused?


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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Hearty Paprika Lamb Stew (Lamb golyas)

The Lowdown:

Yup, it's official. The weather sucks. Really, after hearing about the east coast, I will not complain. On to the next point: the benefits of cold, wet, dreary, sunless, winters. Wow, that's definitely one way to make it seem like there are no benefits. But, as we all know, there are are few. I'm not going to get into the others, because they are not food related (ahem, keeping each other warm at night). Rather, not food related in a PG sense (fondue experiments?) The benefit I am referring to is, none other than, satisfying those cravings for warm, rich, savoury stews and soups. Slow cooked, low heat, well spiced, decadent aromas whafting from the kitchen goodness.

I love having seasons. Right now we are on the verge of crossing over from BBQ season to crock pot season. A true man would probably say that the mighty BBQ supercedes the conventional rules of cooking seasons. Therefore, being a true man, I'm going to say it; "the mighty BBQ supercedes the conventional rules of cooking seasons. Now hear me roar." Now that we've got that out of the way, I also love crock pot season -- and that's no crock. I love sneaking "tasters" throughout the day, knowing full well that it hasn't reached its potential. Enjoying the warth and heartiness it provides, but knowing that it's only going to get better. Or if it tastes horrible, scrap it while nobody's looking and order in pizza. Genius.

 
The Playlist:

2 lbs Lamb, 1" cubes
4 tbsp Lard (Goose fat or bacon fat will do)
2 tbsp Flour
2 Onions, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Parsnips, chopped
4 Tomatoes, chopped 
2 cups Red Wine
3 cups Beef stock
4 tbsp Smoked paprika
Pepper, a generous amount
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1-2 cup(s) Sour cream
Salt, to taste

The Playlist:

  1. In large heavy pot: heat lard until spattering, then add lamb and brown on each side. While lamb is browning add flour & pepper and mix quickly to ensure no clumps form. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. To pot: remaining ingredients, with the exception of the sour cream. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 2 - 3 hours.
  3. Remove from heat and add the sour cream. Serve warm. 



Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade
  


 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rippin' Another Blog: Poulet au Riesling

Good morning darling readers!

I was thinking this morning... How often do we food bloggers - and food blog readers - prowl the internet in search of the most amazing looking, sounding, tasting recipes, only to bookmark or pin or comment on them...and then they go forgotten...?

They go unmade.


And as a food blogger myself, I rarely make the same dish more than once, even if it was fucking spectacular. The exception being of course, if I have company over for dinner and I want to share a recent culinary success story with them.

But because I need new posts, I need new recipes. New ideas. New new new! So I prowl. We prowl. We find inspiration in each other. But rarely, do we actually follow someone else's recipe. We think it makes us more distinguished if we create our own. What food masters we are! Yeaaahhh.....

That's why I love Haydn and my series, Rippin' Another Blog. I actually get the opportunity to make someone else's dish. Of course there are the odd modifications or substitutions based on availability and personal preference but generally, it's their recipe. And what makes a food blogger feel better than when someone actually makes their dish? Pretty much nothing. Except letting them know you made their dish. Comments my friends, we all love comments. We pine for comments!


Something else I pine for? More of Katie's Poulet au Riesling. Chicken? Good! Riesling? Good! And I relish the opportunity to use a sweeter white wine in savory cooking than a dry one. Why the heck not, right?

I first became acquainted with Katie's blog, So Tasty, So Yummy, through The Secret Recipe Club - another fantastic medium I participate in @ Gastronomical Sovereignty through which I make recipes from other people's blogs. And let me tell you, I'm glad I did. She's clever, inspiring and kind of hot. And by kind of, I mean the chick is smokin'.

...and so is this dish. Bland chicken? Hells no! Sweet, creamy, herby, fantastic chicken? Yes!

Poulet au Riesling
(printable recipe) - serves 4.
Recipe c/o So Tasty, So Yummy


Ingredients:

3 Slices of Bacon, chopped.
4 Pastured Chicken Thighs.
1 Medium Onion, peeled and chopped.
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and thinly sliced.
½ Lb Forest Mushrooms, thinly sliced.
6 Medium Sized Carrots, sliced.
2 C Riesling.
2/3 C Heavy Cream.
2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped.
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Heat a Dutch oven or enamel roasting pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Arrange skin side down in the bacon fat and cook until brown and crispy. Remove and set aside with the bacon. 

Discard all but 4 tablespoons of the fat. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté onions and garlic until soft. 

Add the mushrooms and carrots, stir and continue cooking until heated through, approx. 3 minutes. 

Turn the heat to high and pour in the wine. When it comes to a rolling boil put the chicken and bacon back in the pot. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked through, approx 45 minutes. 

Remove the chicken from the pan. Add cream and boil until sauce is reduced somewhat and starting to thicken. Return chicken to the sauce. Add parsley and serve.

Eat.

Do you ever actually make the recipes you find online? Or do they get lost in Pinterest land?



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homemade Naan (Indian Flatbread)

The Lowdown:

I'm not sure why, but Rippin' Another Blog is always the hardest post to do. When it comes to cooking I am nothing more than a carbon craving-based lifeform. I never have a plan, just a general idea. For the most part, this suits me just fine. Scrambling last minute looking for an ingredient I thought I had is common place, and substitutions are even more common.

Finding a recipe on another blog, with this in mind, can be quite a daunting task. Chances are that they will not have the same problem as I do. Chances are their tastes will be a lot different than mine - especially considering mine change on a day to day basis. And chances are I wont have the proper ingredients on hand, which makes for an annoying trip to a child infested grocery store. Don't get me wrong, I love grocery shopping... at 9pm. Also, don't get me wrong, it's not that I think I'm a better or more creative cook, I just have a very finicky (and at times odd) sense of taste.

This week, Kristy informed me that So Yummy, So Tasty was our mission (if you so choose to accept) for the week. Her page seemed good enough. It definitely has variety and a lot of lovely looking meals. Luckily for me, she had one recipe that struck my heart strings. Naan. I love every Indian dish I've ever eaten. Multiply by pi, carry the one, then subtract by 47... by my calculations that is 32 Indian dishes. Many of them I have recreated myself. Naan; however, is not one of those. I'm not adverse to the idea of making bread. In fact, I love it, which makes the fact that I've never made naan that much sillier. I guess this was that kick to the nuts that gets the balls rolling. So thank you for that So Yummy, So Tasty. 

 

The Playlist:

2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tsp Organic cane sugar

½ cup water, tepid
3 cups Chickpea flour
½ tsp salt
¼ cup Vegetable oil
1/3 cup Yogurt
1 egg


The Skinny:

  1. In large measuring cup: combine water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to prime for 10 minutes then add yogurt, egg, and oil. Mix until smooth.
  2. In large mixing bowl: combine liquid mixture, flour and salt. Mix until dough begins to form a unified ball (only partially sticks to edges of bowl), then cover with a warm towel and let set for 45 minutes.
  3. On a well floured surface roll dough out and cut into 8 equally sized strips. Form these strips into balls, then form into 6-8 inch circles. 
  4. Oil a heavy pan and heat on medium. Cook dough on each side until browned.   





Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated LeftoversFood RenegadeChef in Training33 Shades of Green

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

(Traditional) Sweet & Sour Pork

The Lowdown:

Firstly, I don't really have the right to call this traditional sweet & sour pork. I don't have a clue what traditional Chinese food entails. I'm not going to lie, I was not there hundreds of years ago to deem this dish as traditional. Also, I do not know what traditional ingredients are. I only know what is produced there now, in the import/export economy. However, I do know the Americanized version you get for take-out (when you order by number and not dish name), and this recipe is much different. In fact, the only reason I called it "traditional" is because Chef Martin Yan, from The Yan Can Cook Book (1981), asserted that this was the traditional Cantonese style of sweet & sour. I also felt that 1981, being lightyears ago, was before the large influx of American-Chinese food restaurants that have taken over.

I don't normally make this style of cuisine, because I'm not a huge fan of deep frying. Really, all it is is a potential explosion waiting to happen. But really, when you have a pineapple and a pork roast that have to be used what else is there to do? It was only natural that I make this dish. Almost as though the stars aligned perfectly for this to happen. Or, in reality, I made a few silly shopping errors and ended up with pork and pineapple that sat in the fridge. Potato potato (that really doesn't get the point across when it is typed out).




The Playlist:


Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 cup Rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/3 cups Water
1 tbsp Canola oil
2 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp Ginger, finely minced
3 tbsp Corn starch
1 Tomato, blended until smooth (optional)

Pork Marinade
2 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp White wine
0.5 kg Pork, cut into 2 cm cubes

Breading
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Rice flour

Vegetables
2 Carrots, sliced thin
1 Onion, sliced thin
1/2 Pineapple, 1 cm cubes

Oil for frying


The Skinny:

  1. Marinade pork in a shallow dish for 30 minutes, then dredge with flour (I reuse produce bags from the grocery for this step as you can shake the pork and flour vigorously ensuring all is coated).
  2. In medium pot: combined all ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and allow to simmer while the rest of the meal cooks. If the sauce is too thin add more corn starch.
  3. In large wok: heat oil to frying temperature then cook pork for 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the outsides. Once cooked, remove pork and allow oil to cool.
  4. Once oil has cooled put it in a glass jar for safe keeping (or disposal) then clean the wok. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the wok and turn heat to medium-high. Cook your vegetables, mixing often so that they do not burn.
  5. Mix the vegetables and pork and generously glaze with the sweet & sour sauce.

Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers, 33 Shades of Green, Chef in Training, Simple Living

Stay Rad -h

Thursday, November 15, 2012

RPI: Maple Syrup - Christmas Caucasian

Hey man, there's a beverage here*!


This month's Rock Paper Ingredient challenge was certainly that. A challenge. Thanks to Haydn. He's a good man; and thorough*. I mean, what the ef do you do with maple syrup??


Pancakes*? Check. Bacon? Check. Sugar substitute in baking? Check. It's been done, lovelies.


Then it hit me. Vodka*.

 
So I infused that shit and within a week I had sweet maple vodka. I was worried though - would it work? Would it be a complete disaster? Would the vodka/maple experiment end up fucking me in the ass*? Then I thought, fuck it. Let's go bowling*.


Turns out, the process couldn't be simpler. Just make sure to use real maple syrup, not corn syrup. There should be one ingredient, and one ingredient only on the label: maple syrup.

This is what happens when you meet a Russian* in Canada my friends. Even Jesus* would be impressed.

*Two points to the person who can name which movie this drink was inspired by.

Christmas Caucasian
(printable recipe) - serves 1.


Ingredients:

1.5 Oz. Maple Infused Vodka.
1 Oz.  Kaluha.
1 C Egg Nog.
5-6 Ice Cubes.
2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon + Pinch of Cinnamon.
2 Tbsp Sugar.
1 Home Baked Apple Chip for garnish.

What to  Do:

To infuse the vodka, dump a mickey of vodka and 1/2 C real maple syrup into a sterile mason jar. Shake. Place in the back of the fridge and ignore it for 2 weeks. Pull from the fridge after those 2 weeks and it should be completely emulsified. Voila!

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together on a shallow plate. 

Wet the rim of a glass and gently place in the cinnamon/sugar mixture to rim the glass. Set aside.
Dump the rest of the ingredients as well as the pinch of cinnamon in a jar and shake baby shake. Pour into prepared glass. Serve with an apple chip.

Bottoms up!

Did you catch the movie references? 

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Monday, November 12, 2012

RPI: Maple Syrup Mulled Wine

The Lowdown:

Apparently in the world of internet, there is a heated debate over mulled wine/hot punches (I'm not pardoning that pun, so just accept it). Everyone seems to have a different idea of what is acceptable, proper, or at the very least, tasty. All this means to me is that I can slip my version somewhere in that mix unnoticed and sneak away unscathed. Really, this is one punch you wont mind taking in the kisser. So for the time being, we'll just accept the fact that bickering over hot punch recipes is silly and childish. Well, I'm not sure how childish, because if any child inquired about my mulling abilities I would seriously question their upbringing. Then again, here I am sitting at 11am sipping on mulled wine.

I'm not much for Christmas spirit. Don't get me wrong, I love the tree full of memories, seeing family, getting hit in the head by freezer doors at Christmas dinner (don't think I forgot about your lovely hospitality Kristy), Baileys and coffee, mulled wine, the jazzy old Christmas albums, and a select few movies (Charlie Brown and National Lampoons Christmas). But the rest of it has gotten out of control. I'm not a present person in the first place, so this added presence of presents really kills me at this time of year. Not to mention, I swear everyones' IQ plummets into some intelligence-draining abyss when they enter the little pockets of hell known as the shopping centre.

No thank you, I'll sit here and sip on my mulled wine. Meanwhile, the commercially aspired "Christmas spirited" people can get mauled in malls, because I prefer to get mulled within my walls. So here's to one of those things that we can hopefully agree upon. Cheers, and enjoy your holiday season.



The Playlist:

1 bottle Red wine
3/4 cup Maple syrup
2 sticks Cinnamon
10 Cloves
6 Allspice berries
1 pod Cardamom
3 slices Ginger
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Mandarin, peel and juice
1/2 Lime, peel only
2-4 oz Yukon Jack (optional)

The Skinny:
  1. In large sauce pan: add citrus peels, 1/2 cup of wine, maple syrup, and ginger then bring to a boil on high heat. Boil for two minutes, as this really brings out the oils from the peels.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve warm by a fireplace.


Stay Rad -h

Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers, Food Renegade, Chef in Training, 33 Shades of Green,

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Nuts in My Mouth (keepin' it sweet & spicy!)

Holy Christmas batman!

...oh, and hello!...

I've been catching up with all my blog reading and blog writing and photography editing and pinterest ogling and everything else that keeps my computer turned on and running 12 hours a day and I am floored by all the Christmas that has infiltrated my computer already!


It's only the first real week of November and already it's like Christmas has puked all over my computer. Luckily, Christmas is puke that I welcome with open arms. And an open mouth!

That's right. I love me some Christmas. And I hold no shame when I say I am pleased as a pickle in punch at a party to put my tree up the day after Halloween. 

It isn't about the gifts - though there is nothing better than sitting in the dark with the glow of the tree lights radiating off beautifully wrapped presents. It isn't about the Jesus - I'm no Christian, swear to god. And it's definitely not about the fruit cake - blech! It's about the feeling that comes with the season.


The warm sparkle that flurries inside me and pours out of the shops and garland and cookies and crafts and music. It's about warm fires, glitter and Garfield's Christmas Special. 

BTW - I haven't been able to catch that particular show the past couple of years - if anyone has a copy I'd kill for it. Or at the very least send you a brilliant thank you card. 

Yes. I love me some Christmas.

Which is why I'm throwing a holiday recipe at you at the beginning of November. Because while John won't let me put the tree up until December, I can still make holiday friendly food. 

Sweet & Spicy Nuts
(printable recipe) - serves 6.



Ingredients:

2 C Mixed Nuts - I like cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts.
1/2 C Brown Sugar.
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper.
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.
1 Egg White.
1 Tbsp Water.

What to Do:

Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F.

As your oven heats, gently beat the egg, water and vanilla together until lightly frothy.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, save for the nuts.

Dump the nuts into the egg wash and then add the dry stuff. Mix well.

Pour onto a baking sheet and spread out so the nuts are one layer.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir. 

Allow to cool completely - stirring every once in a while to ensure even coating of the sugar/spice mixture.

 Eat.

Do you love Christmas? Loathe it? What about it? 
 Is it too early to start celebrating?


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Monday, November 05, 2012

Rippin' Another Blog: Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash)

The Lowdown:

Paprikás Csirke is a delicious (traditional?) Hungarian dish. It's silky smooth, creamy texture and mildly sweet, aromatic flavour is quite a formidable foe against blandness. It is simple to make, yet has a complex, heart warming flavour, that defeats even the most severe cases of the winter blues.

I'm not sure what Hungary's climate is like, but I can discern from their cooking style that it must be cold a lot. Seriously, all of my favourite cold weather comfort foods seem to be from that general region. This dish, which I've cooked periodically throughout my life, is no exception. Every winter I find myself craving the satisfaction that it provides -- savoury, aromatic, and comforting. Throw in a side of brussel sprouts, winter squash, or sauteed cabbage and you're in for a night of comfort. Seriously, bust out those paint covered sweat pants (that you always promise your significant other you'll throw out one day) because you'll need them to reach the maximum comfort level. While you're at it, light a fire and dust off that old copy of Home Alone. Despite my best efforts, I can't stress enough how comforting this dish is.

I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed. I went into my spice cupboard and noticed that I have four types of paprika. It is just one of those spices that I always find myself using. The "fake" stuff for adding colour to dishes or garnishing. The hot, smoked variety for adding a bit of zip and aroma to dishes. The rest, for various uses as I see fit. With the mercury dropping at a steady rate, I'm sure I'll have no problem making dishes that require paprika; after all, I always find myself craving these sorts of dishes around this time of year.

I've never used a recipe to make this dish; however, it is hard to write a post when there is no recipe to follow. So today, for the first time, I am following a recipe (sorta, kinda). The Domestic Man has provided me with said recipe. This also fits perfectly into our latest scheme. No, not taking over the world... the other one: rippin' another blog.

The Playlist:

3 Chicken breasts, bone in
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp Goose fat*
2 tbsp Hungarian paprika (sweet)
1 tsp Marjoram, dried
2 cups Chicken broth
1/2 cup White wine (optional)
1 cup Sour cream
Water, to cover chicken
Pepper, to coat chicken

* Any form of lard can be substituted for this (after reading other sites and blogs, butter is not an acceptable replacement).

The Skinny:

  1. Debone the chicken breasts, then generously cover chicken with fresh, fine cracked pepper.
  2. In large skillet: heat goose fat on medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and brown the side with the skin (the skin should be crisped up). Brown the other side of the chicken, as well as, the onions and garlic.
  3. Move the chicken and onions to the side and put the paprika into the spare portion of the skillet. Cook the paprika for 30 seconds then add the chicken broth, water, white wine, and marjoram. Cover tightly and simmer for an hour. If your lid does not perfectly fit the skillet, place a sheet of wax paper between the lid and the skillet to ensure that steam doesn't escape.
  4. Remove chicken and cut into the desired size. While chicken is out of the skillet you can simmer, on high, the liquid until it reaches the desired consistency (I prefer mine to be quite brothy, as opposed to stew-like).
  5. Reduce the heat and mix a few tbsp of the liquid into the sour cream until there are no clumps, then put the sour cream mixture and the chicken into the skillet.
  6. Serve on spetzle, egg noodles, or rice.






 

Featured on: 33 Shades of Green, Premeditated Leftovers, Chef in Training, Food Renegade

Stay Rad -h


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Rippin' Another Blog: Shepherd's Pie (Not Cottage Pie)

I don't talk too much about my romantic relationship on my blogs.


But John is instrumental in helping me get my posts done. He is endlessly supportive in his words, unquestioningly generous in his efforts to help me get the shots I need and constantly puts up with being served cold food because of said photo needs. He also eats everything. Good or bad. And he's honest too.

Honest about shepherd's pie.

I know right? In this moment you're like, wtf?

I grew up eating shepherd's pie. Or so I thought I did. Fast-forward 15 years or so and I learn that what I thought I was eating all those years was a farce. Or at the very least, a cultural hiccup.

Cottage pie V. shepherd's pie. 

Cottage pie is what we typically call shepherd's pie in North America. Ground beef, carrots, peas, onions, potatoes, baked in the oven and (hopefully) smothered in gravy. Uh, yes. Yum. Yes? Yes. 


But what this very clever and sexy beer-drinking physics-loving film-geek Brit told me was shepherd's pie must entail lamb. Hence the shepherd. Baaaahhh! (sheep noise). With beef it's simply cottage pie. And with the dish being of the English variety, he should know.

Rug. Ripped. Out. From. Under. Me.

Luckily he was there to catch me and I've been calling a spade a spade ever since - cottage pie = cows, shepherd's pie = sheep. Unless of course I want to give him a hard time... and then I conflate the two. Because I'm a bitch like that.

Speaking of bitches .... this recipe comes courtesy of a little blog titled The Domestic Man. It's okay to segue bitches because men can't be bitches. Can they? I followed his recipe to a T - actually, I followed it right into my stomach because it was Ah-mazing! Thank you Domestic Man for making my mouth happy and my blog a space to speak out about a very important issue. Baaaahhhh!

Shepherd's Pie (Not Cottage Pie)
(printable recipe) - serves 6.


Ingredients:

1.5 Lbs Ground Lamb.
3 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped.
1 Small White Onion, diced.
1 Medium Carrot, diced.
1 Celery Root, diced.
2 Cloves Garlic, minced.
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste.
1/2 C Chicken Broth.
 2 Tsp Worcestershire sauce.
1/2 Tsp each fresh thyme and rosemary, stemmed and chopped.
1/2 C Frozen Peas.
3 Tbsp Butter .
1/2 C Heavy Cream.
Coarse Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Fill a large saucepan with the potatoes and cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are fork tender - approx 20 minutes.

Drain and return the potatoes to the empty pot. Add 2 Tbsp of butter, the cream (starting with 1/4 C and adding more if necessary), and a good helping of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth but be careful not to over mash or you'll end up with a sticky gooey mess. Cover and set aside.

As the potatoes boil, heat a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the lamb and brown, stirring often. When it is almost entirely cooked drain the meat, reserving the fat. Set the meat aside and add a couple of Tbsp of fat back into the pan, along with the rest of the butter. Melt and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until softened (approx 8 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and garlic and massage into the mixture. Saute a further 2 minutes.

Dump in the herbs, broth, Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and simmer until the liquid thickens slightly - approx. 3 minutes.

At this point you can turn your oven on to 450 degrees F.

Remove from the heat and reintroduce the lamb to the mixture as well as the peas.

Dump the lot into an 8" baking dish or roasting pan and spread even.

Gently top with the mashed potatoes - little bits at a time until it's even all over. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30-45 minutes or until the top of the potatoes gets crispy and slightly golden.

Pull from the oven, let rest 5 minutes, and then dish up! Feel free to serve with your favorite gravy recipe if you like gravy. Who doesn't like gravy?

Eat.
How do the people in your world make your life better?
Can men be bitches?
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