Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tomato Marinated Chicken Breast


I went into Mitchell's intent on buying chicken and since I hadn't tried their marinated breasts I thought this time I would.  I never asked what the marinade was so I had no idea what it would taste like. I decided to keep things simple and put only salt, olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice in the rice.  

The vegetable medley has a small orange and a yellow pepper, several mushrooms, a carrot, celery stick and diced onion.  I sweated the onion and celery, then seared the mushrooms.  I microwaved the carrot by itself while I added and fried up the peppers in the pan.  I ground a little mixed pepper and tasted a piece. It needs something and I don't want to use soy sauce. I thought for a moment. Fresh basil would have been great but the plant wasn't big enough yet. I decided on dried Thyme and sprinkled a bit over the frying pan.

The marinade turned out to be tomato based and it was mild but quite tasty. The vegetable medley was really good, thyme was the right herb to use. I'll buy Mitchell's marinated chicken again, if I'm running late it will help a lot and still taste great.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mitchell's Pork Cutlet


The chicken is far better at Mitchell's grocery than Save On Foods or Safeway, so I was hoping their pork cutlet was similarly outstanding. Not quite, but it's still good. I think the Save On Foods cutlets use corn flour in their breading so they taste sweeter. The Mitchell's cutlet was breaded but it doesn't taste like the Save On one. So it's a toss up, they're both good. One has better meat and one better breading. To cook I fried them in plenty of olive/canola oil.

Mashed potatoes were buttered, salted and milk folded in. The broccoli was steamed, cooled under running water and reheated in olive oil. Apple sauce is the condiment.

Vinaigrette

1 tbsp olive/canola oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

The plates look fairly pedestrian but they have great flavour.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cajun Chicken on Saffron Rice Under Asparagus and Hollandaise


This tasted far better than it looked thanks to chicken from Mitchell's. Save On Foods and Safeway both sell the usual completely tasteless chicken. I never noticed till now. The chicken from Mitchell's tastes good without anything on it. Season it and it's like awakening in a new world.

I put a pinch of saffron on the bottom of my rice bowl. Half a cup of rice and a cup of water, teaspoon of olive oil, half teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons lemon juice. Put it in the microwave to cook. Mine has a moisture sensor so it does white rice perfectly every time. Brown rice, not so much.

I salted and shook the chicken in a bag with cajun spice mix. Then fried it in olive/canola oil to brown the breast top and turn it over and put it in the oven at 325F for 30 minutes.

I have an asparagus steamer so that's easy. Break the ends off and put them in the basket. 5 minutes before plating put them in the steamer. 

A quarter cup of butter melted and whisked into an egg yolk in my sauce pot. I add a tablespoon of water and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Add a good pinch of salt.  Taste for balance, adjust as necessary. It takes about 3 minutes to cook the sauce so a few minutes before plating set it on boiling water or an induction burner on 3 of 10. Keep whisking it and don't let it turn into scrambled egg.

Vinaigrette

1 tbsp olive/canola oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

Whisk and toss the salad in it.

This was one of those meals where every mouthful tasted incredible. It was entirely the quality of the chicken that made the difference. I guess going to a good butcher in your area will produce the same result. Save On had three breasts for $7 but I paid $8.80 for three breasts at Mitchell's. A tiny bit more expensive but it's the difference between hot water and soup.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Marinated Pork Cutlet with Sweet Pepper Medley


I picked up the chops at Mitchell's. I have finally started to realize that even though the per gram price might be slightly higher, the quality of the meat and the extra care to trim off all the fat is worth the price. It's actually a better deal than supermarket meat because bite for bite, Mitchell's meat tastes better.

I sat mesmerized in front of the tv for longer than I should so it was a few minutes after 6pm when I headed for the kitchen. I had to marinate the meat and serve dinner at 7pm so Fern can get to his meeting. I pulled out my Food Saver marinator and added to it:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic minced
sprig fresh thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
mixed pepper

Whisk and lay the chops in the marinade. Turn them over a few times to make sure they are coated, then put the lid on and suck the air out. This is supposed to do hours of marinating in 20 minutes. It won't tenderize the meat in that time but it does get flavour right into the meat.

I put my potatoes on the boil for mashed and diced up an onion, celery stick and 3 small yellow and orange peppers. I sweated the onions and celery for a few minutes then added the peppers and plenty of salt.  I took about half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and dropped it into the peppers. Stirred it around and let them cook. I let air into the marinator slowly so the marinade would be drawn into the meat as pressure increases. I had a pan hot and put the chops directly into it. I turned them over a few times so the chops didn't curl up.

The potatoes had butter, salt and milk. The only way to screw up mashed potatoes is to use an immersion blender on them. It turns them to a thick unpalatable paste. The chop was absolutely delicious, plenty of marinade flavour. Marinating longer would have been better but it was certainly good enough.

Fern liked the pepper medley. I sort of did. I didn't put the mustard in early enough for it to caramelize so the sweetness had a bitter undertone. I felt like something was missing from the medley. I think some snap peas or something to give a little crunch would have been welcome. Also, the medley needed another flavour to tie it together. Fern thought it was delicious just as it was so I'll keep my eyes open for an idea before I try the medley again.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pork Cutlet with Asparagus and Hollandaise


I fiddled with the kitchen ceiling a bit and decided I couldn't fix it today. So I put plastic up to keep plaster dust out of dinner and started cooking.  Despite a sauce and a condiment it is an extremely simple meal to make. The potatoes are yellow flesh, boiled in their thin skins. Asparagus was steamed. The Cutlet is from Save On Foods, the condiment is home made apple sauce that turned black in the jar from too much light. It tastes fine but it's just very dark and mysterious. The Hollandaise I whipped together almost as an afterthought. 

Quick Hollandaise

1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
salt

Doing it this way you make it cold and put it aside till you need it, then just heat it up in the last minutes before plating. Have either an induction burner or a pot of boiling water handy. In a glass measuring cup melt the butter but don't get it hot or warm, just melted. Put an egg yolk in a bowl. Slowly whisk the butter into the yolk as for mayonnaise until it is all taken up. If you did it right, you'll have a thick paste. If you did it wrong you'll have a bowl of oily egg yolk. To fix a broken sauce, slowly work it into another egg yolk. To the paste add lemon juice, water and salt.  Whisk. It will most likely turn into a coagulated mess that looks like scrambled eggs. Don't be fooled, when you put it on the burner or boiling water it will melt out, thin and then thicken as it cooks. When it's heated taste it for salt and lemon balance. Add more water, lemon and salt as necessary.

Vinaigrette

1 tbsp olive/canola oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Whisk and toss.

This is a surprisingly good meal for the small effort it took. Of course, I could put Hollandaise on an old shoe and I'd like it.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baked Ham Broccoflower and Potato in Cheese Sauce


Slicing all the potatoes takes longer than you might think. Then par boil and drain them. Prepare the brocoflower or cauliflower and put in the steamer till it begins to soften. Then run it under cold water to stop cooking. Drain completely. Thinly slice the ham then julienne the slices. Dice an onion or two and a few cloves of garlic. Sweat the onions.

Spread the ham in the bottom of a 9x13 pan and spread the sweated onions evenly over top.  Spread the par cooked potatoes evenly over the pan. Lay the broccoflower over the potatoes and drop some grated cheddar over them. 

Cheese Sauce

In the pot used to sweat the onions, put 2-3 tsp flour and 1/4 cup butter and the the garlic. Melt the butter and let the flour bubble for a minute to cook off the raw taste. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in 2 cups milk. Put back on heat and bring to simmer then turn down. Stir in 2 cups grated cheddar and stir till melted and smooth. I added a few drops lemon juice, not sure if it was enough to boost the flavour but I didn't want to curdle the sauce at this point. I expected the extra old cheddar and ham to provide most of the salt but I tasted to see how much it needed. Milky paste, definitely needs salt. I added 1/2 teaspoon salt and tasted it again. Cheese Sauce! Success! I poured the cheese sauce over the broccoflower and potato and put it in the oven at 350ºF for 45 minutes to an hour.

Vinaigrette

1 tbsp olive/canola oil
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
pepper

Whisk, toss the greens and plate.

This was one of my best cheese sauces. The final taste depends entirely on the ingredients. Extra old cheddar tastes best. With cheese, the smell and the taste can be quite different so don't judge a cheese till you taste it. It needs to be good quality, Kraft isn't good enough. Tillamook probably is. If not sure, ask the grocer which cheddar is better than Kraft? Price is not always the best indicator. If the cheese tastes good, the sauce will taste good. I'm using Armstrong Extra Old which goes on sale for $7 for 600gm from time to time, then I buy two or three.




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Curry Pork


I bought pork chops at Mitchell's. It seems all their meat tastes better and they trim the fat off so the quality is significantly better even if the price is the same. I bought a bag of red and yellow peppers on sale and that is what inspired me to make curry.

Dice, salt and brown the meat, giving it a good sear, then remove from the pan.  Add diced onion and sweat. Add garlic finely diced as well as a stick of celery. Finally I added the two small diced peppers. Once the peppers were starting to soften I added a tablespoon of curry powder. I sweated the curry powder a moment. I don't know if it needs sweating but it didn't hurt. Then I added tomato sauce, about a cup. Bring it up to a simmer and add the meat. Warm the meat for a minute or two in the sauce then test for salt.

I served it on 

Basmati rice

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water

Fresh green onion on top to give some colour. I don't think the photo did it justice, it was really very good.

The red cabbage and iceberg lettuce salad is dressed with Kraft Golden Italian Salad Dressing. It was a free sample grafted onto another product, I liked it at one time. Now it tastes like not much at all. A fresh simple vinaigrette tastes better than bottled salad dressing! I never would have predicted that! Fresh is a lot cheaper too. The food industry really doesn't do us a whole lot of favours.