Monday, July 28, 2014

Lemon Chicken, Saffron Rice, Broccoli and Greek Salad


I picked up chicken at Mitchell's when I bought buns for lunch. Mid afternoon I put it in the marinator.

Lemon Marinade

Rind a lemon
juice the lemon.
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
white pepper
few drops Tabasco

I should have pierced the meat with a fork to get the flavour right into it. It was good but the lemon could have been more prominent. Kevin phoned to ask to come over and Fern took pity on him. I suggested if Kevin wanted to stay for dinner Fern should pick up another chicken breast on the way home. I simply put it in the marinator with everything else. Then I cooked it on the BBQ. 2 minutes over the flame then 28 minutes roasting off the heat.

The broccoli was steamed and finished in olive oil.  The rice had salt, olive oil, lemon juice and saffron. 

Greek Salad

2/3 cucumber
3 tomatoes
slice of red onion
handful ripe olives
chunk of feta cheese, crumbled

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

Toss and serve. Kevin loved everything.

Shake'n Bake Chicken Thighs, Asparagus with Beurre Blanc


I went shopping late so I pulled this meal together in record time. I got the chicken in the oven first, it would take 45 minutes to cook through to the bone. I followed the directions on the Shake'n Bake. The potatoes were boiled in salted water then finished with butter and milk.  I steamed the carrots and broccoli together, which worked fine. 

In a small sauce pan I boiled 1-2 oz. of white wine till it was reduced by half then let it cool a bit. I whisked the melted butter in and to my amazement the emulsion held together. I heated it up and drizzled it over the asparagus. It was a really nice change from lemon juice.


Breaded Pork Cutlet


Save On had pork cutlets again. Apparently they get them at the whim of some faceless manager on the prairies. The breading they use is really good so it overcomes the fact that the meat was cut and packaged on the prairies last week and trucked here, priced and put out for sale. Steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. No salad because we had a late lunch.

I simply fried the cutlet in olive oil. That is Fern's home made apple sauce condiment. The broccoli was steamed to half cooked then cooled under running water and finished in olive oil.  The potatoes were boiled in salted water, mashed and hand whipped with butter and milk. I've seen people use an immersion blender to process potatoes and it turns them into a thick, unpalatable paste, but it's how their mother made them!

No doubt I could find a better way to arrange the plate, but Fern always complains that the broccoli is cold so I plate and serve as fast as possible. Broccoli has tremendous surface area to lose heat from  so that is why it gets cold so fast. There is a smear of fat on the plate I didn't clean up. My bad. 

The food was really good, better than it looks in the photo. I manage to get flavour out of each component now so I guess it's time to start working on the look of the plate. I know the secret is to plan the whole plate so every component makes sense together. Maybe at this point looking through cook books would give me some ideas.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Prawns and Pasta with Greek Salad


I was busy all day so it wasn't till around 5pm I started thinking about dinner. With time short I decided to go with prawns and pasta. I only need to pick up some prawns and tomato sauce. Fern asked for sauce I didn't make from tomato paste. I guess I'm not doing it right yet.

Save On has a new brand of tomato sauce, Antonellas's, which comes in a box with a capped spout, a slightly larger size and half the price of Mezzeta's Bistro sauces. If it's good it's a bargain. To me, it had a slightly tomato soupy kind of flavour but Fern liked it and the customer is always right. It's convenient to have a bit left in the fridge too, so I can experiment with it. 

Jumbo prawns were on sale so I bought a bag of those. Larger prawns = fewer prawns = less work. I just found that out. I used the sauce right out of the box. Barilla pasta, boiled in salted water. Wow it's almost like real cooking! The pasta was on sale and all the penne was gone so I bought Farfalle. Fresh grated parmesan on top. I used to buy Canadian made grated parmesan until I tasted the real thing. 

Greek Salad

2 tomatoes diced
1/2 small English cucumber diced
1 slice white onion finely chopped
black olives - I buy pitted kalamata
feta cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp lime juice - ran out of lemon
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1 small clove garlic

Mash the garlic with the salt. Put oil and lime in salad bowl and whisk. Add garlic and onion, whisk. Add tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and toss. Add feta cheese, toss lightly and plate.

I finely chopped the remaining onion and put it in my sauce pan with some olive oil. I sweated it and added the prawns after removing the shell and tails. Once they had colour on one side I turned them over. I don't want them fully cooked because they will finish in the sauce. I removed them from the pan and added the sauce. Just before the pasta was ready I put the prawns in the sauce to finish cooking. When the pasta was ready I drained it and added it to the sauce. I plated everything and topped with fresh grated parmesan.

Easy, fast, delicious. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chicken Curry with Asparagus Greek Salad


I had two onion chicken breasts left over from the other night and Fern suggested I curry them. So I picked up a can of coconut milk and got to work. The half cup of rice had just salt, a few drops of lemon juice and two teaspoons of olive oil. I diced an onion and sweated it then added a green pepper from the garden and a little salt. Next I sprinkled a tablespoon of curry powder over all and heated it up then added some beef stock. Next about 2/3 of a can of coconut milk. I cooked down the curry to thicken it and about 3 minutes before serving I added the diced chicken. It was already cooked so I held it back so it didn't become rubbery.

I bought the asparagus a few days ago on sale and haven't made a meal I could serve it with. I thought about how I could prepare it so it would go with the curry. Nothing came to mind. I looked at the cutting board. I had a bunch of asparagus and a couple of tomatoes out. Then I remembered a woman at Save On buying the same asparagus saying she was going to blanch it and use it in salads. That's what I'll  do.

I put the asparagus in the steamer basket and set it in the pot with a bit of boiling water at the bottom. I cooked it just till a fork pierced it then ran it under cold water to stock cooking. I cut each stalk into 3 pieces and added to the diced tomato. I also broke a piece of feta cheese into it and added some pitted Kalamata olives and a slice of onion finely diced. I made the salad in reverse order because I wasn't sure at the start where it was going. Now I had all the ingredients in I put a teaspoon of olive oil in a separate bowl.  To that I added a teaspoon of canola oil and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. 1/2 teaspoon of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Whisk that up and pour over the salad, then toss it together.

The curry was very good, nothing special, but it was nice. The salad was the star. The asparagus lifted that salad up to heights I didn't know a salad could go. Asparagus Greek salad with Coconut Chicken Curry on basmati rice. It just doesn't sound like a meal from my kitchen, but it sure was good! A meal like this really makes me feel a bit more like a chef.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tacos!


Tacos is a way I can sneak beef into Fern's diet. In a bow to middle age digestion, I used whole wheat soft tacos. This time I got two parts ground beef to one part ground pork for extra flavour. I browned the meat with salt then added one tablespoon of taco seasoning and half a cup of beef stock. I sprinkled a little bit of flour over the meat so some of the moisture would stick to it. Stir it up and simmer.

I warmed the taco shell and put meat and grated cheddar in and rolled it up. On top I put a stripe of Guacamole, then sour cream and finally fresh salsa. The Guacamole was store bought but I made the salsa.

Salsa

1 tomato diced
1 slice white or red onion finely diced
1 jalapeƱo seeded and diced
1 tsp chopped cilantro or 2 tsp chopped parsley
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
2 tsp olive oil

I was going to leave it at that but the plate would look like I didn't care. I forgot to get refried beans, so I opened a can of pinto beans into a small pot and put it on a burner. I added a tablespoon of tomato ketchup, salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning, a few drops Tabasco sauce, stirred and heated  it up. Much to my surprise it tasted good! I plated that with a little grated cheddar over top.

Fern remarked twice during the meal that it was really good. That is remarkable because he usually doesn't like sour cream and he had plenty on his plate. Neither of us could clean our plates so the dogs got lucky tonight! Fern almost didn't have to wash the dishes when they were finished!


Chicken Breast with Apple Caesar


This onion chicken has become a favourite. Salt the chicken breasts then coat it in an equal mixture of onion powder and flour. Brush with olive oil, make sure all surfaces are covered with oil and put over the heat on the BBQ for 2 minutes.  Then turn the breasts over off the heat and let them roast for a total cooking time of 30 minutes.

1 head romaine
1 apple
1 clove garlic crushed chopped
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup olive/canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
few drops Worcestershire Sauce
few drops fish sauce
1-2 tsp lemon juice
Black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put yolk in salad bowl and slowly whisk in oil to make mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, fish and Worcestershire sauces and whisk.  Taste and add lemon or water to adjust the dressing. Add a thinly sliced apple and toss. Toss the lettuce and add the parmesan cheese and toss till everything is evenly coated.

The chicken can be served as is or with a sauce or mayonnaise or salsa. It will go with almost anything. I really like the sweet crunch of the apple instead of croutons in this salad.