Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indian Butter Chicken

The meal was preordained to be chicken but circumstance dictated the recipe. Fern was taking longer than planned to process the tomatoes from the garden.  When I finally got to the stove I only had time to make curry.  I cut the chicken into bite size pieces, tossed it in some flour and cooked it almost all the way through. Then I took the chicken out of the pan and put a diced onion in.  Two tablespoons of curry powder over the onions and half a cup of chicken stock.  To that I added 3 chopped tomatoes and half a cup of milk. Boil the water off and add the meat and frozen peas. When the peas are done add a dollop of yoghurt or I used sour cream. Mix it in and serve over rice.

I'm quite sure Butter Chicken uses slightly different spices so this is Butter Chicken style, not recipe. It was good, even the dogs cleaned the plates, hot spices and all.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I had sauce in the freezer so all I had to do for dinner was thaw it out and boil pasta.  I do seem to be getting better at plating.  I actually went out in the rain to get fresh parsley from the garden to sprinkle on top. I forgot to put Fern's peppers from the garden in the sauce when I made it so I cut up a couple of fresh peppers and sweated them in the pot before adding the sauce to heat up.  I also didn't have the usual can of Aylmer Tomato Soup for the sauce so I added that as well.  It all worked, the sauce was delicious. It was just good the first time.

We've been using Barilla pasta which actually tastes better but their chairman just made disparaging remarks about gay people on a radio show.  He went so far as to say, "if gay people don't like our policies, they can buy someone else's pasta." Fine with me, ass hole.

Chicken Cordon Bleu - store made!

Neither Safeway nor Save On Foods had any skin on, bone in chicken breasts in packages smaller than small army size. I appear to be the only person in Powell River who wants to buy two undressed chicken breasts. Safeway had no bone in breasts at all but they did have chicken cordon bleu on special so I tried that.  Fern was working on the deck late so I made plain rice and microwaved vegetables as close to the last minute as possible. My rice was plated with soy sauce.

I cooked the chicken at 350º for 30 minutes at which time there was a small amount of cheese leaking out, indicating it was done. I plated the chicken with a dollop of mayonnaise.  The chicken was unremarkable.  So was the rest of the plate.  I was busy all day so I can forgive myself for not turning out an Iron Chef meal on occasion. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pork Tenderloin

I was going to buy chicken but Save On had only packages of breasts for small armies, nothing for a couple. What did I expect? Safeway also didn't have bone in skin on chicken breasts so rather than fight the packaging I decided to change my menu.  I found a nice pork tenderloin and headed home.

I didn't brine the pork.  I decided to marinate it for only a few minutes in oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, chopped oregano, parsley and a small piece of cubanelle red pepper. I thought it was a hotter pepper but it was quite sweet and mild.  I fried the tenderloin medallions in a big pan on the stove. 

The potatoes were boiled then heated with extra virgin olive oil, chopped oregano and parsley till the oil lost it's bitterness. The peas and carrots were done in the microwave and finished with salt and butter. 

The meal was amazing.  The meat was full of flavour, every bite was a succulent morsel. The potatoes were exceptionally good, I'll do that a lot more!  The buttered vegetables played a wonderful counterpoint to oil and herbs on the potatoes. I gave the dogs just one little bite each and they both licked the plates.  The older one only licks a plate if the food was really good, so even the dogs were impressed with this meal!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pork Stir Fry

I wanted something quick and easy.  Cubed pork was on special so I picked up a package.  I emptied the pork into a bowl of flour before realizing the meat needed to be diced finer.  So some of the pieces were a bit large.

I collected a shallot, stick of celery, 4 mushrooms, a carrot and a yellow bell pepper from the garden and fridge. I coated the meat in flour and browned it in the pan, not cooking it through.  Remove from pan and leave aside.  Add oil to the pan and sweat the shallot then add the carrot, celery, yellow pepper and mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have softened add the pork, chicken stock, soy sauce and finish cooking everything. Plate over rice.

Almost as easy as opening a bag of frozen food, but way better tasting.


I decided to try my new waffle plates for the panini  grill.  I used half the recipe that came with the plates.  I also added extra sugar and a dash of vanilla. They would have browned more with extra fat or sugar, I'll adjust next time. Here's the recipe I used, there must be better:


1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 oz oil
1 large egg

It didn't brown enough so I think it needs more sugar. They tasted fine dripping in maple syrop. Fern doesn't like this breakfast.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Roast Round of Beef

I felt like beef so it wasn't difficult to find a nice roast to take home.  I also picked up a rutabaga to go with it.  One thing I have noticed since moving my shopping to Save On Foods in regard to the shopping carts.  Both Save On and Safeway force shoppers to use a quarter to unlock their shopping carts.  I never have a quarter.  The result is that I use a carried basket and since I don't want it getting heavy I buy only what I need, nothing extra. It might be as much as hundreds of dollars a month I'm not spending because I don't have a quarter for a cart. I wonder if these companies have ever looked at how much this policy is costing them? It's probably thousands of dollars per day they aren't selling because they make it difficult for customers to shop. Is that stupid or what! Canadian retailers wonder why they struggle to make a profit. Treat your customers better, you idiots!

The beef is spiced with my:

Southwest Rub

2 tbsp  chili powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp  brown sugar
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp mustard powder

and roasted at 250ºF for about 2 hours till it reached 150ºF internally.

I boiled the turnip for 40 minutes and microwaved the carrots and peas.  The horseradish sauce beside the meat is by Tosca and it has an unpleasant bitter taste. It goes in the garbage. The meat was wonderful.  Tender, moist and full of flavour. There wasn't enough drippings to make gravy unfortunately but we easily ate our fill of potatoes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pork Souvlaki

I spent the day cleaning house, which was long overdue, so I didn't feel up to a big effort in the kitchen. A good meal in that situation is souvlaki from the local grocer.  They have an excellent marinade and the skewers are made up so it's easy to prepare. I put rice in the microwave and started up the BBQ. Fern spent an obscene amount of money on All Clad BBQ Tools, in their own bullet proof carrying case, so I was sure to make a production of laying them out for rocket surgery.

Fern picked a cucumber and tomatoes from the garden and made a wonderful greek salad.  He used a diced shallot, small cucumber, 2 tomatoes, chopped parsley, salt, black pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. 

I put a little soy sauce on my rice and thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Tricked Out Jello Pudding

I felt like something creamy but didn't have cream or yoghurt to make frozen something so I turned to the pantry.  There was a package of vanilla Jello instant pudding. Fern doesn't particularly like pudding unless it's really good so out of the box isn't going to fly. I could transform it a la Chopped cooking show, so I set about creating a dessert as fast as I could.

First, I mixed up the pudding and put it down to set.  I put 50gm(2oz) extra dark chocolate in a pot to melt and I got two ladyfinger biscuits out and cut them into 1cm pieces. When the chocolate was melted I slowly added half the pudding, being careful not to add too much pudding at once and break the sauce.

I mixed the ladyfinger pieces into the remaining vanilla pudding and poured it into glass bowls.  Next I carefully poured the chocolate pudding over the vanilla.  I licked the spatula and found the chocolate needed a little more sugar.  So I put icing sugar in a sieve and shook it over the pudding, enough to sweeten it a bit. Most of it melted into the pudding.

I quickly returned to the man cave with our desserts and Fern was amazed I managed to make a complex dish in ten minutes. He liked it too! So did I. Jello instant pudding definitely has a place in my kitchen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fresh Fettuccine with Prawns

I decided to make fresh pasta and this time I tried some time saving.  Instead of using a fork and mixing manually I used the dough hook in the mixer. I put 2/3 cup flour and one large egg in the stand mixer. By varying the speed I was able to get the dough to pick up all the flour.  It was just a little sticky so I only had to add a little flour and work it in by hand quickly.  Worked like a charm.  I roll the dough out to number 6 of 9 thickness, then cut into lengths. I feed the lengths into the cutter so I can flour the pasta as it comes out. I think it took me about 20 minutes to make the pasta, but it could easily have been longer. It can take an hour the first time.

I stupidly forgot to pick up a can of Mezzetta Napa Valley Tomato Basil Sauce so I had to make some. A can of organic tomatoes as the base, salt and black pepper, I put it on the stove and let it cook for a bit. Tomato sauce takes about 3 hours to make properly and I didn't have that long so I just did the best I could in the time I had. 20 minutes before serving I start sweating a chopped shallot, 3 cloves of garlic and a julienne sweet pepper. That was added to the pot and more oil and butter added to the pan.  In went the raw prawns with a little salt.  I didn't cook them quite through because they will finish in the sauce.  In the pot they went with some fresh basil chopped up. The pasta was boiling away.  

As soon as the pasta was ready I strained it, plated with sauce and topped with parmesan cheese. Pretty good but I think from now on I'll buy the more expensive black tiger prawns, for the extra flavour they are worth the price.  I have found lately that my dish looks great but the prawns lack flavour even though they are seasoned correctly. I've been using white and fresh water prawns and I'm not impressed with the result.  When I expect a burst of delicious prawn flavour and all I get is an anaemic barely shrimp taste, it's disappointing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Simple White Cake with Banana

I felt like cake for dessert.  Not the dry, tasteless variety from a mix but a fresh scratch cake.  I have no idea where this recipe came from but it produces a nice small cake without a lot of fuss. I start by lining a 9x9 pan with parchment.  A loaf pan would work just fine too but would take a few more minutes to cook. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Simple White Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Cream butter, then cream in sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in milk. Pour into parchment.

Once I had the batter in the pan I had a banana getting over ripe on the counter so I sliced it into the batter and put it in the oven. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with a crumb but no batter.

To ice the cake take two tablespoons icing sugar, a few drops of vanilla and a few drops of milk.  Mix and add milk till paste thins out enough to be poured over the cake but not run off the sides. I used to not frost the cake at all but it really does finish it nicely. The cake is definitely better with some kind of frosting on it. The banana gave the cake a whole new flavour profile, a bit like banana bread but still a vanilla cake. Very tasty.

Pork Cutlet

The pork cutlets from Save On Foods were good the other day and were still on special so I bought them again. I got some broccoli too since the new crop has arrived. I did the carrots and broccoli in the steamer and ran them under cold water when they were almost done.  Then they went back in the pan with olive oil. I made mashed potatoes the usual way. The highlight of the plate is the cherry tomato stew under the cutlet.  A little oil, salt, black pepper and a dash of red cooking wine reduced the tomatoes to a thick, somewhat sweet, sauce. I laid the fried cutlet on the tomatoes, a sprinkle of chopped parsley over all and serve.

The pork cutlets weren't cut evenly so Fern's was underdone in the thickest part. He fed that piece to the dogs.  Otherwise it was a really good meal.

Chicken Thighs

I was shopping for breasts but couldn't find a package the right size so I picked up thighs instead.  It had been a busy day and I didn't feel like boning a bunch thighs so I cooked them bone-in. First I seasoned them with salt then in a plastic bag put onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, paprika and mixed pepper. A teaspoon each plus a tablespoon of flour to brown nicely. Shake chicken in bag and fry in oil on the stove.  

Plain white rice under the chicken and frozen peas with fresh snow peas complete the plate. I put soy sauce on my rice, Fern likes his plain white. The chicken was more flavourful cooked with the skin and bone so that was a nice surprise.  The peas were finished in olive oil so each component had good flavour.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rib Steak with Green Beans

I set out looking for chicken breasts but both grocery stores only had them pre--packaged.  I could buy 6 breasts or two, no other options. I hate having to flag down a butcher to repackage stuff for me so I walked down the cooler a bit. A rib steak, 30% off! And a strip loin, another loin, a pork tenderloin...the clearance bin. The Best Before date was still two days away but the meat was already marked down to clear, I guess after two or three days they mark it down 30%. I would want fresh meat if I was going to freeze it but I was planning to cook it immediately so 3 day old meat should be just fine. I chose the rib steak for myself and two strip loins for Fern and Ryan. Fern was given some green beans from someone's garden so I didn't need vegetables.

First I scrubbed and poked the baking potatoes and got them in the microwave to cook.  When they're done I wrap them in foil with butter, chives and salt to finish on the BBQ.  I trimmed the ends off the beans, threw away the thick fibrous ones and cut the rest in half. I steamed them till they were almost done then ran them under cold water to stop cooking. I put them back in the dry pot with olive oil and salt when I put the steaks on the BBQ. I seasoned the steaks with salt on one side and Montreal Steak spice on both sides. They cooked on the BBQ over high heat for 2 mintues, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, 2 minutes rotate, 2 minutes and they're done with crossed grill marks. If the steaks are thick they'll need a little longer.

I  thought I had sour cream left but the fridge was bare (of sour cream). I had some home made yoghurt so I used that on my baked potato. Fern prefers butter anyway. I managed to sprinkle chives over the yoghurt and chopped parsley over the steak.  The tomato salad was cherry tomatoes cut in half, chives, black olives, feta cheese, basil, salt and black pepper. I drizzled some olive oil over them followed by a little red wine vinegar. Toss and serve.

We rarely have beans because they aren't my favourite vegetable and they are awful frozen. They also tend to be twice the price of broccoli for some reason and I can't bring myself to pay more for something I like less. So these fresh beans were a real treat! They were tasty and tender. Fresh from the garden beans have wonderful flavour that freezing destroys. The steaks were delicious, no hint of spoilage. The potatoes were wonderful, you'd never guess they were microwaved. The cherry tomatoes in the salad were like sweet little fruits. I ate all my salad which is unusual with such a large steak. I would be quite happy if I had been served this meal in a restaurant.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pork Cutlet

I was feeling lazy and didn't really feel like turning dinner into a production. I hadn't tried the seasoned pork cutlets from Save On yet so decided it was time. It's been a while since we had peas so I peeled a couple of carrots and tossed them in with some frozen peas. The mashed potatoes have salt, milk and butter with chives on top. I fried the cutlet. The only nod to cuisine on the plate was the stewed cherry tomatoes. Black pepper and a little red cooking wine are all that's needed to bring the flavour out of the fresh tomatoes.

Good as Fern's ketchup is, these fresh tomatoes are better. The yellow ones are so sweet they could almost be a dessert. I did the peas and carrots with olive oil and chicken stock in the microwave. The crusty corn meal on the chop picks up the sweetness of the tomatoes, wonderful! My plating is finally on the way out of the suburbs and headed towards down town. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


I felt like fish so I picked up some fresh snapper. The fillets were tiny and had plenty of small bones.  I managed to miss one and Fern got it in his tongue. When I miss a bone, why does it always end up on Fern's plate?

I seasoned the fish with salt and:

Snapper Rub

1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp cumin

Mashed potatoes had only salt and butter in them.  I steamed the carrots and broccoli till they were almost done then ran them under cold water to stop cooking.  When I put the snapper in the frying pan I put the vegetables back on medium low heat with olive oil and salt to heat up and finish cooking. This works much better than any other approach with broccoli.

The tartar sauce is just mayonnaise with half as much sweet green relish in it. I drizzled a little fresh lemon juice over the fish when it was plated. Except for the bone in Fern's fish it was perfect.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Quality Foods

It has been six and a half weeks since Quality Foods Powell River store sold me rotting pork. I have not been back in the store since and when people ask I relate my experience.  I haven't been vocal, I've only mentioned it when people ask.  After all, it might possibly be an isolated incident.

That has changed.

Kevin, one of our gardeners, said he also was sold 'off' steaks by Quality Foods. Fern met a woman who also was sold rotting meat by Quality Foods and she knew of 3 other people that also were sold rotting meat by Quality Foods. Since the store opened a couple of years ago there have been six incidents where customers were sold rotting meat that I know of.  I expect there are others.

That can mean only one thing.  It is not safe to eat food handled by Quality Foods Powell River store. I've never been in another QF store so this pertains only to the Powell River store as far as I know. That is a harsh criticism but I can make no other conclusion. There has to be multiple deficiencies and failures ongoing for this to happen. Furthermore it is management at fault. Both the meat manager and the general manager have failed in their duty to ensure the safety of the food their customers eat.

I hope no one dies.

BBQ Chicken Thighs

All I could find for chicken was bone in skin on thighs. That is the best tasting part of the bird so it isn't all bad. I decided not to bone the meat and simply season and cook it on the BBQ.  I put the thighs in a plastic bag with plenty of salt, poultry seasoning, mixed ground pepper and paprika and shook to coat. I did rice in the microwave, just plain like Fern prefers. I put soy sauce on my rice.

The Greek salad is made from cucumber, tomato and shallot from the garden.  Black olives and feta from the store along with salt, black pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar. The tomatoes are so sweet this year the salad was almost a dessert!

Fern loved the chicken.  I managed to keep it moist inside and cooked all the way through just by sight. No way I would have got that right last summer.  Experience is the only way to achieve that so it has been a long time coming.  It took 45 minutes to cook the chicken to the bone, 15 minutes longer than I first estimated.

When time is short, this chicken would be easy to get into the oven quickly, so it's a great last minute dish.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pork Chop on stewed tomatoes

I was looking for pork chops and first picked up a pack of 3 for $6. Then I spotted a sirloin roast for $5, so I bought that and cut it into 6 chops! I wanted to keep it simple so mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and a fresh stewed cherry tomatoes to carry the chops.  I foolishly didn't have confidence in my tomatoes so I put a dollop of Fern's Ketchup on each side. If I hadn't done that I would have had a perfect professional dish.

I salted the chops first then mixed in a mortar:

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
mixed ground pepper

and seasoned them with it.  I brushed them with oil and put them on the BBQ.  I gave them 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. They weren't quite done so I gave them another 2 minutes.  The mashed potatoes have only salt and milk in them. Chives and parsley from yesterday to garnish. 

The corn was OK, not great. Not my fault! The pork melted in my mouth and the tomatoes were bright and sweetened every mouthful of delicious pork. Surprising myself, I didn't touch the ketchup. I wanted those fresh stewed tomatoes with every bite. I did a not bad job of plating except the ketchup. I'll definitely make this again.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strip Loin Steak

We haven't had beef for a while and I felt like a steak. I looked at tenderloin first but decided it was too pricey and didn't look tempting enough. Strip loins were on sale so I grabbed a package and headed home.  Without that My Daily Special I liked so much at Quality Foods, I spend a lot less in the grocery store because I don't hunt for something to use my special on every day.

I did the baked potatoes in the microwave then wrapped them in foil with salt, chives and butter.  I put the wrapped potatoes in the BBQ with the steaks.  This produces baked potatoes with almost as much flavour as slow cooked ones, but in twenty minutes instead of 60. My potato has chives under the sour cream and bacon bits on top. I did the broccoli in the microwave but took it out 3 minutes before it was done and drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over it, tossed it and put it back to finish cooking. That cooks the olive oil and gives it a wonderful flavour, cooking off the bitterness.

The steak was done on the BBQ in standard 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. Eight minutes on high cooks a 3/4 inch steak to medium rare. Fresh chopped parsley on top to make it look like I tried to plate nicely. I would have to make a fourth component to unify all three components. I haven't got a clue what would do that and, when it comes down to it, I really just want to eat a steak and don't much care how the plate looks. 

The steak was a little tough but tasted pretty good for non Angus beef. The baked potato had all the flavour of the sour cream it was drowning in along with the butter, chives, salt and bacon bits. No doubt this meal shortened my life, but I'd eat it again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Southwest Chicken with Mushroom White Wine Sauce

We hadn't had chicken for a while and I needed fresh stock so I picked up some bone in breasts.  I wanted a mushroom sauce of some type so I got some mushrooms too.  I boned the breast to make stock and fried the skins till crispy as treats for the dogs. The fat that comes off the skins I brush on the breasts before putting them on the BBQ.  I sear them 2 minutes each side then put them in the centre off the heat to roast for 25-30 minutes total cooking time.

Southwest Seasoning

2 tbsp  chili powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp  brown sugar
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp mustard powder

Plain old rice, but that is what Fern likes. The mushroom sauce was brown the mushrooms in butter, then add them to a butter and flour roux. Add some chicken stock, a couple of tablespoons and the white wine. I used about 3/4 cup white wine and poured it all in the sauce. I brought that to a boil and let it reduce.

The Greek salad was cucumber, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, shallots, black olives and feta cheese. Dressed with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice and some salt and pepper. 

The wine sauce had boiled down but it was really tart. I put more salt in but it would take too much salt to fix that. I put a bit less than a teaspoon of sugar in also. That was a mistake. It made the sauce too sweet.  It wasn't cloyingly sweet, just too sweet for savoury. A quarter to half a teaspoon would have been better. I only recently figured out that a little sugar can turn a bitter or sour flavour into something delicious without making it sweet. I just found out how much sugar is too much. 

As mistakes go, it wasn't all that bad.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Prawns and Pasta

I had a can of Mezzetta Tomato Basil sauce in the cupboard which is almost as good as what I make myself so I defrosted, peeled and tailed a bunch of prawns to go in it. I put the pasta on to cook and started sweating a diced shallot.  When the shallot had a little colour I added the prawns with some salt. I turned them over quickly and did the other side being careful not to overcook to prawns.  I poured the sauce out of the jar over the prawns and heated it up.  When the pasta was ready, plate pasta, sauce and garnish with fresh grated parmesan.  

It was good, the prawns weren't particularly flavourful but they weren't objectionable either. If I have running water but don't want to cook or go out, this is an excellent alternative. 

What to eat when the sink suddenly dies.

Pizza! When I went to the sink to start preparing dinner I first checked the leak Fern reported in the drain.  Still leaking.  I tried tightening the lock nut with my fingers and it disintegrated. So did the bottom of the strainer basket assembly.  Change of plans, we're having pizza!

What's frustrating is that this morning I made an appointment to get an estimate on the plumbing work we need done, including new kitchen. I had to go out and get parts to put in a new drain basket just to last a few weeks at most. Why now?