Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry


Lots of vegetables, that is what we both need at this time of year. A stir fry is one of the easiest ways to get lots of vegetables into one meal. I finely diced half a small onion and started sweating it.  I diced the chicken breasts, other half onion, a stick of celery, a carrot, green pepper, 6 mushrooms and baby bok choy. I put a heaping teaspoon of flour on the chicken pieces and toss them around in it to coat them. 

First I sweated and slightly browned the finely diced onion.  Then I added the floured meat. When the meat had a light sear all around I took it from the pan. Next I seared the mushrooms and cooked the carrot in the microwave when the rice was done. I slowly added all the ingredients and kept tossing them. I added a few drops of fish sauce and some sesame oil. When the green pepper was softening I added the meat back in.  A handful of cashews. and finally some soy sauce to season the whole thing.  
This was a great meal and we'll finish it off for lunch. It works well with leftover turkey as well!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pork Cutlet


This time of year I can forgive myself for not spending a lot of time cooking dinner. This is about the fastest large meal I can make.  The potatoes go in water and boil for 20 minutes then put salt and butter on them. The fresh carrots and frozen peas are done in the microwave. The cutlet was seasoned by Save On Foods so all I had to do was fry it. The salad is from a bag of Fresh Express Garden Mix. For $1.67 I get enough to make 4 salads so all I have to do is whip up a ...

Vinaigrette

1 tbsp olive/canola oil
2 tsp raspberry (or other) vinegar - to make put fresh raspberries in white vinegar for a few months
salt
mix pepper

Whisk and toss. 

The secret to frying is start with a hot pan and enough oil. I use a 12" All Clad pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and canola oil so the bottom is oiled and there is a teaspoon reserve. I get the pan hot but not smoking. A drop of water should bounce around. When the pan is hot, tip it to coat the bottom with oil and lay the cutlets in pan. Watch the edge of the cutlet, when it is brown, turn them over. If the pan dries out add a little more oil. Too much oil makes the cutlet greasy. Not enough and the breading sticks to the pan. It takes about 6 minutes one side and 4 minutes the other, but it entirely depends on the particular cutlets you are cooking. So don't time them, watch them.

Plain old store bought apple sauce is the condiment.  This meal practically makes itself in less than half an hour and it tastes light years better than a tv dinner.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ham and Cauliflower with Cheddar Cheese Sauce


Ham and cheddar were on special over the last week, too bad cauliflower wasn't, but two out of three ain't bad. All I did here was thinly slice the potatoes and par cook them. The cauliflower I steamed till it softened a bit.  Ham all thinly sliced. Potatoes on the bottom, then a layer of ham and the cauliflower on top.  Cheese sauce over top and cover with grated cheddar.

Cheese Sauce

2 tsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar
3 cloves garlic finely diced

Melt the butter into the flour, add the garlic and let it bubble for a minute to cook the flour taste off.  Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the milk.  Return to heat and bring to a simmer. Add 1/3 of grated cheese and melt into sauce.  Add another 1/3 of cheddar, mix it in.  The cheese sauce should be too thick because it will thin from water in the dish components. Pour the sauce over all and top with grated cheddar.  

Bake at 325ºF for up to an hour. Once the cheddar has a little colour it's done enough.

This is a dish from Fern's childhood, it's simple but tasty and filling for cold winter days.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cajun Snapper


The last time we had snapper I didn't check the freshness and it tasted fishy. Not encouraging. This time I checked the dates, this was the freshest. Then I pressed it with a finger. It sprang back. If it's been sitting there for two days it won't spring back. Don't buy it if it doesn't spring back. Besides making sure it's fresh, the bones have to come out. There are usually 3, but I've come across 6. I bought pliers to pull the bones but Fern didn't think they belonged in the kitchen.  Eventually I found fish pliers on Amazon.com (Canadian site didn't have any) so I ordered them. They took a couple weeks extra getting through customs but they got here eventually. The proper tool makes prepping fish a breeze.

I seasoned only one side lightly with Cajun Seasoning but salted both sides.  Yellow flesh potatoes were boiled then mashed with salt, butter and milk.  The broccoli was steamed and finished in olive oil.  I turned over the fish to brown it and plated with some lemon juice over top.  

The salad was a simple vinaigrette of olive/canola oil, raspberry vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk, toss and serve. 

The fish was wonderful. No fishy taste at all. The light Cajun seasoning was perfect. Now I know I usually use too much.

Mince Meat Tarts


I have never liked mince meat. Some years I might try one tart but only if the pastry looks good. I've never found one I like. Fern, however, loves mince meat so when I saw it on special at Mitchell's I bought a tub.  It's bulk, I'm not sure if they make it themselves, but it tastes like it.

I put a little under 2 cups flour and 2 tablespoons corn flower in a large bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix.  I added 1/3 of a brick of lard. Cut the lard into the flour until it is like coarse oatmeal. Beat an egg, add a tablespoon of vinegar and fill with cold water to 1 cup. It should take about a third of the cup to wet the dough. Gather the dough into a ball, cover with clean dish towel and put in fridge for at least 30 minutes. When the dough is holding together, dispose of the remaining egg, vinegar, water mixture.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Flour a large counter space and roll the dough out to less than 1/4 inch thick uniformly. Cut out 4 inch circles, I use a 500ml yogurt container for this.  Press the circles into the muffin or tart pan and fill with mince meat.  Put in hot oven for 20 minutes then check for brownness. When the pastry has good colour, take the tarts out to cool.

I wasn't expecting anything but I tried a tart just to test the pastry. A touch short of lard in the pastry but the taste was good.  The mince meat made me stop. It tasted wonderful! I've never tasted mince meat I like and this stuff is delicious! I couldn't wait for Fern to try one. He loved them. I bought more mince meat for two more dozen.


Pork Cutlet


Again I got started late but pulled it together at the end.  Yellow flesh potatoes, mashed with salt, milk and butter. Frozen peas with fresh carrots cooked together in the microwave with olive oil and a Save On Foods breaded pork cutlet fried. Straight apple sauce is the condiment.

The salad was the last bit of a bag of salad greens. This time of year it's more cost effective to buy bags of pre cut salad mix than buy all the fixing and have them quickly wilt in the fridge. Olive/Canola oil, salt, pepper and raspberry vinegar are the salad dressing.  

Still a great meal in under an hour.

Chicken with Hollandaise


I started late so this was supposed to be just rice, broccoli and chicken. I put the rice on and salted the chicken breast.  Then I coated the breast in 50/50 flour/onion powder.  Lay it in hot oil and brown the first side.  Turn it over and put in a 325ºF oven for 30 minutes total cooking time.  Press on the breast and it will spring back when it's cooked. If you still aren't sure, stick a fork in it. If the juices run clear, it's done.

I took the cooked rice out of the microwave, the broccoli was steamed and ready to reheat and the breast was in the oven so I stood there with nothing to do. I can make hollandaise! I separated an egg yolk and melted a 1/2 inch slice of butter, melted but not hot.  Slowly whisk small amounts of butter into the yolk until all butter has been taken up.  Mix 2 teaspoons lemon juice with 1/4 cup cold water. Add a pinch of salt to the yolk and half the lemon/water mixture.  It will thicken when it's heated. Once the breast was cooked I took it from the oven and put the broccoli in olive oil to reheat and started heating the Hollandaise.  The sauce got a little too thick so I added a little of the lemon/water to thin it. Once the broccoli was ready I plated everything.  

I love Hollandaise so I covered everything. It does look like a drive by saucing, but it tasted great.  It has taken me all this time to get to the point that I could decide to make Hollandaise at the last minute and pull it off. It was wonderful.