Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cheddar Ham and Cauliflower Casserole with French Bread

The first bite of this plate I said, "Oh my God this is absolutely delicious!" and put my fork down and took a picture 'cause I forgot to before I dug in.

French Bread - turn on oven light, it warms the oven perfectly for rising bread and making yogurt

2/3 cup water - warmed
1 tsp yeast

Stir in the yeast and give it a couple of minutes to get started then add:

1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Mix it into a dough by hand and kneed it for 10 minutes or use a dough hook and start slow, stop intermittently, then turn it up once the dough is made. The machine can slap the dough around and kneed it beautifully if you have just the right water content. I found I couldn't add water after the dough is made so it is easier to carefully measure the water and flour to get it right. This time I had to kneed it for 4-5 minutes by hand to get a nice soft dough. I had just a little excess flour.

Coat dough with olive oil and let rise in oven with light on for an hour or till doubled. Punch down once, form into baguette and put back into oven to double again. When it's risen, remove dough. Heat oven to 400F and bake for 25-30 minutes till browned.

Cheese Sauce

1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp beef stock powder
2-3 cups milk

In medium sauce pan melt butter and mix flour into paste. Turn up heat and let it bubble a little to cook off the flour taste. Turn off heat. Whisk in beef stock powder, two tablespoons of milk, then two more till you have two cups or more milk and it's not lumpy. Put back on heat and bring to simmer. If it's too thick add a little more milk. 

1 1/2 cups grated extra old cheddar ( Armstrong is good )

Add cheddar to sauce, stir it in till it all melts and smooths out. 


6 medium potatoes peeled, thinly sliced
3 onions thinly sliced
1 cauliflower cut into florets
600gm ham cut into small pieces

Cook the potatoes till softened but not mushy, drain. Steam cauliflower till softened but not mushy, drain. Fry the onions till caramelized.  In lasagne pan spread potatoes evenly across bottom. Spread caramelized onions over the potatoes. Spread ham over the onions. Spread the cauliflower over the ham. Pour cheese sauce over all and put in the oven at 375F for 30-40 minutes.

Today I also set up my new Patriot Node wireless hard drive & file server. Went to the library to get a book I'm using to teach my neighbour to draw and bought him art supplies to get started and went grocery shopping. So this meal really doesn't take all day to make!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chicken with Couscous and Beans

We had a late fast food lunch so neither of us wanted a big heavy meal.  Small chicken breasts with fresh veggies and something other than potatoes or rice or pasta. In my pantry that left couscous again but this time I knew how to make it taste good! I seasoned the breast with Cajun spice mix and brushed it with oil. Onto the BBQ for about twenty minutes total, turning 3 times. The beans were boiled, drained and finished with celery in salt, pepper and butter. 

The couscous was instant stuff from bulk bin. I used 1:1 for water and a pinch of salt. I diced up three roma tomatoes and a handful of parsley. I boiled the water and added it to the couscous. Then I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pot and added the tomatoes to it. I heated them up but didn't stew them. I added the couscous to the tomatoes, turned off the heat and stirred in the parsley. I added fresh lemon juice, about two teaspoons. That made it quite acid but it tasted good. I should have tasted it without the lemon juice to see if it was already acid enough. Next time.

A bit too acid but good flavour. Now I have another alternative to potatoes. Yay!

Cajun Snapper with Couscous and Broccoli

Fresh snapper at Mitchell's today. I got one nice big fat fillet. I boned it, salted and Cajun spiced it then fried it in oil. Fresh broccoli steamed, cooled quickly and reheated in olive oil. The couscous I added a little beef stock powder to the water, pepper and dried thyme. I added a few drops of lemon juice but it wasn't enough.  When I squeezed the lemon on the fish on the plate, some of the lemon drained into the couscous and the flavour was immensely better. The secret unleashed! Couscous needs lemon or at least acid.

The fish and broccoli were excellent. The couscous made it through the meal with a little help. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cat's Away Rib Steak

Fern drove a friend into Vancouver overnight so I had dinner alone. That means I can have anythinig I want and that means a rib  steak! I paired it with Crimini mushrooms fried in butter with black pepper and garlic. Broccoli steamed and finished in olive oil and black pepper.

The steak I salted, peppered, brushed with oil and cooked on the BBQ in 2x2x2x2 minutes on high heat to get perfect crossed grill marks. They're covered in mushrooms but trust me, they're beautiful.

The potato was poked with a fork, microwaved and finished with butter, sour cream and green onions.

It was wonderful, the whole meal.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Apricot, Cinnamon, Date, Pecan Maple Sticky Buns

I couldn't find a recipe I liked so I found a recipe for machine egg bread and used that for the dough. 

Egg Bread

3 oz water - warm it for 10 seconds in the microwave to lukewarm  
1 tsp yeast - add to water, let stand 5 minutes

Add water to mixer, add remaining ingredients

1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tsp butter
5 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cup flour

It can help to pulse the mixer on and off a bit at the beginning to get a good dough going. Once the dough is made the machine usually does a great job of stretching it in lieu of kneading. I didn't think the machine did a good enough job so I kneaded it by hand till it was soft and supple. Then into the oven with the light on, it makes it just right for rising bread. Probably work for making yogurt too but haven't tried it yet. Wait till it doubles in an hour or so.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (at least)
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup chopped pecans. (I used too much)
1/4 cup chopped dates

Working from underneath gently spread the dough out into a rectangle about 12-14 inches long and about 8 inches wide. Spread butter over the dough. Sprinkle plenty of brown sugar over all the butter. Shake cinnamon over all. Spread apricots over cinnamon. Roll the long side up on itself. Cut into three equal pieces, then each of those into three so you have nine. Place in a parchment paper lined square pan. Let it rise to double or fill the pan.


1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Bring to rapid boil for a minute or two. Spread pecans and dates over buns. Pour sticky over all. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes till top is browned. Cool completely.

The apricots inside go really well with the cinnamon and the dates and pecans give the outside a special richness crowned with maple syrup. These are really good.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Breaded Chicken Breast with Hollandaise and Fresh Green Beans

Mitchell's had whole bone in chicken breasts way cheaper than the boned ones. I bought one and got two huge breasts out of it, a piece of skin for the dog and it was the same price as two boneless breasts. They don't always have them but they're a bargain when they do. I paired that with fresh green beans and mashed potatoes.

I separated an egg yolk for the hollandaise and whisked the white up to coat the chicken.  I whisked two tablespoons of butter into the yolk then whisked in some lemon juice with a little water. It becomes lumpy but smooths out as soon as it warms up. I leave cooking the sauce till just before plating, then do it on the induction element, it's faster than electric stove.

I salted and sprinkled poultry seasoning over the boned breasts, coated them in flour, dipped them in egg white and shook them in a bag of crumbs. Onto a baking sheet and into the oven at 325F for 35 minutes, they're large. I tried brushing some melted butter over the breading to make it brown but it didn't work. I have to put the butter into the bread crumbs first. Next time.

The beans were boiled for 4 minutes then set in butter, salt and black pepper to finish. 

Mashed Potatoes

Peel, salt water boil twenty five minutes, drain, mash, add butter, salt, milk, stir with fork.

It tasted great!

Beef Patty with Mushroom Gravy

I bought some ground beef. Added salt, black pepper, a few bread crumbs and some ground garlic. Made two patties out of it and put them in the frying pan.  I already had potatoes peeled and boiling for mashed. The sugar snap peas I cut the tips off and boiled for a couple of minutes then drained and finished in butter, salt and black pepper.

Mushroom Gravy

5 crimini mushrooms sliced
1 diced onion
1/2 cup pork loin pan drippings
1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
3/4 cup milk

Caramelize the onion, then sear the mushrooms. Sprinkle the flour over the pan and cook the flour taste off. Add a dash of red wine vinegar and cook it in. Add the pork drippings and slowly whisk in the milk. Taste, add some salt and pepper as needed.

Fern loved the peas. I only buy them when the bag is marked down to $2 but I make the whole bag. A nice treat. Probably lots of fibre too. The gravy was terrific. I'm going to roast some pork before beef from now on so I can make that gravy!