Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pork Cutlet with Apple Sauce

Another easy meal, I think I'm getting lazy. Mashed potatoes finished with butter, milk and salt. The vegetables were steamed, cooled in cold water and reheated in olive oil with a little salt. The cutlet is from Mitchell's and all I did was lay it in a frying pan.  Plain old apple sauce right out of a jar.

I was standing in the kitchen with nothing to do but watch meat fry. So I got out butter for a cake or cookies after dinner, that was as far as I got. But at least the butter will be soft when I'm ready to attack the kitchen again.  I think a vanilla cake with vanilla bean in it. Some kind of jam filling. I hope I have some jam!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cajun Chicken with Asparagus and Hollandaise in One Paragraph

This meal tastes so good and is so easy I'd do it once a week if asparagus was available all year. Lemon Basmati rice, just add salt, few drops lemon juice and olive oil to the water and cook.  The chicken was simply salted and sprinkled with cajun seasoning. I brushed it with oil and put it on the BBQ. I take the breasts off the heat for half the time so they don't scorch and dry out, but roast nicely for about 25 minutes total cooking time. The asparagus, break the stems off, discard and put tips in the steamer. I have an asparagus steamer which works amazingly well. The 5 times a year I have asparagus....nah, I like the pot. Hollandaise, put 2 egg yolks in small sauce pot. Melt 1/4 cup, or a little more, butter but don't get it hot. Whisk the butter into the egg yolk a little at a time so it doesn't break.  If it breaks, whisk it into another egg yolk, slowly this time. When it's all taken up add the juice of half a lemon. A pinch of salt. A teaspoon of water. Whisk and heat over medium low heat. If it's too thick add a little water. If it's too acid add a little salt.

Get free run or free range meat. Muscle gets flavour from being worked so animals grown in boxes, like commercial chickens, have flavourless meat.

Salisbury Steak with Crimini Mushrooms

This is about the only way I can get Fern to eat beef. The fat burns off in the BBQ so he finds it acceptable. Beef tenderloin would also be acceptable but this makes the mortgage payment easier. The broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil.  I over cooked it just a bit but it still tasted good and had the memory of a crunch.

Under all that gravy is mashed potatoes finished with salt, butter and milk. To the beef burger I added salt, black pepper, handful bread crumbs, 2 cloves garlic finely diced. I kneaded it for a minute to thoroughly mix and separated the 500gms beef into 3 meat patties. I make them thinner in the centre so they will be flat when they cook and puff up. I gave them about 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. 

In a frying pan I cooked 4 pieces of back or Canadian bacon. I removed them from the pan and added six sliced crimini mushrooms. I seared them and took them from the pan.  A tablespoon of butter went in the pan and half a tablespoon of flour.  Next I added a packet of Bovril beef stock (a good brand tastes better). Cook the flour taste off in the butter then remove from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time so it doesn't lump. I used about a cup of milk so it could cook down a bit.  I added the mushrooms and bacon back in and added a few drops Worcestershire Sauce. A tablespoon of tomato ketchup, which was twice what it needed. I cooked that down a bit and plated the sauce over the meat and potatoes.

I like this meal, it's not fancy but it tastes good and isn't too heavy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

New Baby Chicks! Back Yard Chickens

These are 5 Araucana chicks that will lay green eggs when they mature.  They will start laying about the end of September. They are 1-2 days old. They get visibly bigger and appearance changes every day as their feathers grow in. They are under a heat lamp until they have enough feathers to stay warm on their own. That white one is already getting up on the edge of the bin. Chickens are not smart but they are persistent so they will eventually get out if they can.

Back yard chickens are really great. They keep the compost pile in good shape and they work the ground in the gardens. They lay about 6 eggs per week and they are social so you need at least two. A dozen eggs a week is probably enough for a small family. It costs about $4 per month to keep two laying chickens producing so they are a real money saver.

Children raised around farm animals have stronger immune systems and fewer allergies. In an emergency when food delivery is interrupted, chickens keep laying, turning insects into eggs. I don't name my chickens, they are just 'the girls'. They live a comfortable life, but they are farm animals producing food for me. 

Pork Chops with (disappointing) Crispy Spring Rolls

I bought a pack of spring rolls on special and cooked them up as a first course just to try them out. Glad I did! They were quite awful. If I had relied on them as a major component it would have been a very sorry meal. That gives me an idea, I have a deep fryer and I have thumbs so I can roll things up myself. One day soon I'll try to make spring rolls from scratch. probably.

The actual meal consisted of mustard dill pork loin chop, mashed potatoes and snow peas with carrots. Mashed potatoes were boiled with salt and mashed with milk, butter and salt. The carrots and peas were steamed, cooled quickly and reheated in olive oil.  They were really good this way..

I salted and brushed mustard powder over the chops then sprinkled dried dill over top and a little flour on top of that.  The flour will brown where the herbs would scorch. 

The pork was good but not outstanding so it got lost in the disappointment of the Crispy Blech Rolls.
Fern did comment on the vegetables being particularly good so it wasn't a complete let down.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kevin Gifts Us a Fresh Trout!

Our good friend Kevin went fishing yesterday and caught several trout so he gave us one.  Asparagus was on sale so Hollandaise and rice were called for. I cooked the rice with salt, olive oil and lemon juice. The asparagus was steamed. 

The trout was cleaned, scaled and the fins cut off. I salted it all over, it needed more. A bit of black pepper in the cavity and sprigs of rosemary, chives and bay leaves. I whisked up some olive oil and lemon juice and coated the fish with that then wrapped it up in double foil and put it on the BBQ for 45 minutes. I had set it off the heat so it wouldn't scorch on the bottom. Unfortunately the fish was barely cooked because there wasn't enough heat circulating around the foil. With the BBQ burners on low the food needs to be over the burners to cook properly. I put the fish in the centre, between the end burners and it just didn't get enough heat under it. It was just cooked, it could have stood another 5 or 10 minutes. The temperature in the BBQ was at least 400F so it was hot enough 

One Minute Hollandaise

Separate an egg yolk. 1/4 cup butter melted but not hot. Slowly whisk the butter into the yolk.  When it's all taken up add some lemon juice and a few drops of water.  Put on medium heat and add lemon juice till it tastes lemony. Add a pinch of salt.  Thin with a little water and lemon juice. Small amounts of liquid can make a big difference so be careful not to turn it to soup.

It was all lemony and delicious. I've got to learn to fish.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Raisin Scones or Biscuits in America

A few weeks back I bought a scone from Mitchell's and was astounded at how good it tasted. Their baking is always good but everyone has a stupendous day once in a while. I haven't seen them again since so it might have been just lucky that I got the spectacular batch. That seeded biscuits in my mind so last night, armed with half a cup of butter I forgot to make into cookies, I made a batch.

Preheat oven to 325F

Raisin Scone or Biscuit in the US

1/2 cup soft butter forgotten about all day
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder - yes 4
1/2 cup raisins or two handfuls or that looks like enough
1/2 cup milk at least

Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Use pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until about 1/8-1/4 inch grained mixture is obtained. Add the raisins. Make a well in the centre and add most of the milk. With a fork or your fingers, work the flour into the milk. Add more milk until it forms slightly sticky balls. Gather the dough into a ball and place on floured surface. Flour the top and roll down to 1 inch thick. Cut out 2 inch rounds or squares if you don't have cookie cutters. Reform and re-roll the dough until it's all used up. Makes about 6 to 8 scones. I didn't do this but they would have been considerably better if I had brushed the top with butter before putting in the oven. So do that and bake them on parchment for 25-30 minutes on a ceramic cookie sheet or 15-20 minutes on a metal one. 

Scones are a bit dry so they need butter and something like honey would be nice too. Sugar contains quite a bit of water so it might make them less dry to use just a little sugar, even though they should be savoury. I might try that next time.