Friday, January 31, 2014

Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Rotini Casserole

A nice black forest ham was all that looked like a good deal at Safeway.  I already had broccoli thanks to Save-On having it for $1.29/lb and cheese from the last sale.  I hadn't thought about a starch till I got home and started preparing things.  I'll use rotini pasta so it won't seem like macaroni and cheese. Eventually I figured out I was making my first casserole. I think when I decided the casserole dish would be perfect!

I diced an onion and a stick of celery. I cut up a crown of broccoli and enough ham to feed two hungry men and two little doggies. One and three quarter cups rotini pasta cooked for half or a bit more of it's time.  It will absorb some of the cheese sauce as it finishes cooking. In a large pan I sweated the onions and celery, then added the cubed ham.  I sprinkled a teaspoon of flour over all and added a tablespoon of butter and cooked that in.  First an ounce of chicken stock, then a cup of milk, let it heat up.  Add a cup and a half of grated cheddar.  When the cheese is melted add the drained half cooked pasta and toss to coat.  Add the broccoli and toss. Pour into the casserole dish and top with grated parmesan and bread crumbs if you have them. If you use bread crumbs, spray a little oil over them so they brown. Put in a 350ºF oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

The vinaigrette for the salad is 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, dot of dijon mustard. Whisk and toss the salad in it.

It was quite wonderful for my first casserole. Having a salad every night is helping too.

Chicken Tomato Curry

Ever in search of new ways to cook the same old thing I decided to try tomato curry this time.  Fern complained about the pineapple coconut curry being too sweet. Pineapple tends to do that. So I started out in the direction of Indian Butter Chicken and diced a potato into the sauce. Turns out Fern thought the potato was pineapple. When I served dinner he complained that he was looking forward to pineapple in the sauce! I'll never win.

To make this meal, dice an onion and sweat it.  Dice chicken and flour it then add it to the pan and sear it all round.  Add up to one tablespoon of curry powder and some salt and cook it a minute.  Add a can of tomato paste and an ounce of chicken stock.  Add water till it thins into a sauce. Add a potato diced into 1/4 inch pieces, preferably par boiled. If you want to cook the potato in the sauce then remove the chicken so it doesn't become rubbery. About 5 minutes from ready add some frozen peas. Serve over rice.

The salad is garden mix bag of salad. I make a vinaigrette, toss the salad in it and put it in a bowl. If I do that, we eat salad. If I have to make the salad too, we don't eat salad.


1 tbsp olive/canola oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 dot dijon mustard. (less than half a chocolate chip)
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk and toss the salad in it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Liver and Onions

I tried to get liver the other day and didn't find it.  Turns out that Save On Foods has it so I bought the smallest package.  Broccoli was on special too so I bought two crowns. I had onions and bacon in the fridge so I headed home.  I peeled potatoes and readied the vegetables, sliced up two large onions and cut three pieces of bacon into small pieces. First I fried the bacon till crispy and added the onions and plenty more oil. I kept tossing the onions till they were golden.  When the vegetables were almost done I ran them under cold water to stop cooking.  Then put them back in the empty pot to finish in olive oil.

The liver I cut into manageable pieces, salted and floured it.  It was cut very thin which made it difficult to work with and it cooked in  a flash, literally. Turn it over quickly and brown the other side and plate. I like liver with ketchup too so I put a squirt here and there. The mashed potatoes have just butter, salt and milk in them.

I guess I could have placed the ketchup a little better, but it all tasted good and that's what it's all about.  Some day maybe I'll make it pretty too, but for now, I'm hungry.

Macaroni and Cheese

Lunch time! Mac'n Cheese is almost as easy to make as KD and tastes light years better. I like ketchup on my mac'n cheese, I have since I was old enough to hold the ketchup bottle. To start, grate about a cup of cheese. I usually use Balderson's Extra Old Cheddar but Armstrong also produces a good result. Get a large pot of water boiling and measure between 2/3 and 1 cup dry macaroni per person. Salt the water and put the macaroni in for 8 to 12 minutes depending on brand. (read the package) When it's done, drain it. Don't rinse cooked macaroni, put it in the empty pot and let the sauce loosen it up.

While the macaroni cooks, in a sauce pan put a little oil and a pad of butter, at least a tablespoon altogether. Put a teaspoon of flour on the butter and turn the heat up to a bit more than medium low.  The butter and flour should make a thin paste that needs to bubble a bit to cook off the flour taste.  Don't cook it till it starts to brown. Remove from heat and add a splash (1/2 ounce) of chicken stock to give a savoury background, whisk the lumps out and add a bit of milk.  Whisk smooth and add more milk up to about one cup, whisk again and return to heat.  Heat the sauce up to bubbling and add the cheese.  When the cheese is all melted and the sauce is the right consistency, pour the sauce into the macaroni, toss and serve. If the sauce is too thin, add a little instant blending flour over the top, mix and cook the flour taste off for a minute or two. If it's too thin, add a little milk.

Easy and delicious!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pork Tenderloin

Fern had to eat early so I had to rush things a bit.  I didn't marinate the meat like I did last time and it showed.  I didn't get the bright acid taste into the meat and I used dried oregano which didn't impart as much flavour as fresh. It was good but not great.

I started with a shallot diced and when it was sweated added a few cloves of crushed garlic.  I cut the tenderloin into bite size pieces and seasoned them with salt and pepper. The pork went into the pan and got a nice sear all around then I added the mushrooms and green pepper. A little water accumulated in the pan so I sprinkled a little flour over it and tossed it together. That gave a nice sauce. I sprinkled lemon juice over the pan and cooked it off to give the dish a little zing. I served it next to rice and put some soy sauce on mine. Fern prefers plain white rice, that's why I don't usually do a pilaf. 

For a 30 minute meal it was pretty good.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chicken Breast

The chicken was great, the sauce shouldn't have made it on the plate.  I intended to put a few drops of white wine vinegar in the sauce and half an ounce splashed out. I rescued it as best I could but Fern didn't like it at all. I should know by now if I screw up, leave it off the plate. 

I salted and floured the chicken with a little corn meal.  I browned it on both sides in a pan then put the pan in the oven for 25 minutes. Rice was plain with salt and a bit of oil. The vegetables were steamed then cooled under running water and reheated in olive oil for flavour. 

Except for the sauce, it was great!

Monday, January 27, 2014

High Fibre Pasta and Prawns

I tried other high fibre pasta and it had a gritty mouth feel, Barilla isn't gritty. I wasn't sure if the taste was exactly the same but it wasn't noticeably different. The prawns I defrosted in cold water and took the tails off.  I sweated a shallot with a bit of basil then added the prawns.  I cooked colour into them but didn't cook them through so they could finish in the sauce.  I took them from the pan and set them aside. 

I opened a can of organic tomato sauce, the best I could find (it's almost as good as Mezzetta but over $4 cheaper). I cooked it down slowly letting the water come off while the pasta cooked. Five minutes before the pasta was done I added the prawns into the sauce.  

While that was finishing I put one tablespoon oil in a bowl and added two teaspoons white wine vinegar to it. A bit of salt and some black pepper.  Whisk and toss the lettuce in it.  I'm finding a bag of cut up salad fixings can be cheaper than buying all the ingredients and have them all wilt. 

A little grated parmesan on the pasta and serve.  It was wonderful.  Having a small salad served with the pasta ensured the salad was eaten. It was all mouth wateringly good.

Sole with almond lemon sauce

I wanted a nice light fish for dinner and fresh sole is plentiful so I picked up a few small fillets. Potatoes, broccoli and carrots round out the plate.  I first put the potatoes on and prepared the vegetables for the steamer.  The sole was salted then coated with flour and pan fried.  When the vegetables were half done I ran cold water over them to stop cooking.  I let olive oil heat up and cook the bitterness off then I put the cooled vegetables back in to reheat and finish cooking in the oil.  

The sauce was a teaspoon of flour in a tablespoon of butter/oil.  Once the raw flour taste was cooked off I added white wine. I didn't have enough so I added a little milk followed by the slivered almonds. It was more sauce like but didn't taste like much. I added a few drops of almond oil. That added flavour but it wasn't better. Hmmm. I should have stuck with chicken stock but it's too late.  Can I make this taste good by adding acid?  I added a few drops of lemon juice. That seemed to be going in the right direction. I added a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and that woke the sauce up. I wasn't sure if it tasted good or just not bad but it was good enough to go with.  Just in case I didn't give Fern a lot of sauce in case he didn't like it. He loved it and finished the sauce left in the pan!

It was good but I've made better so I'll probably not go that direction again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Beef Tenderloin with Baked Potato and Brussels Sprouts

I wanted liver but not enough is sold to keep it fresh so it's only available frozen. To me that means it's not available at all. So I bought beef tenderloin instead.  First I salted and peppered the steak then I cooked it on the BBQ in 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. The baked potato was cooked in the microwave then wrapped in foil with butter, salt and chives then finished on the bun rack in the BBQ. The sprouts and carrots were steamed and finished with olive oil and bacon bits. I managed to get fresh chives and artificial bacon bits on my potato. It was a very good meal.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Greek Inspired Pork Chops

First, make the chops look more like kebabs. Next, put the rice in the microwave with a little dried oregano and chives. That was easy.  I crushed and diced three cloves of garlic and some fresh oregano and put it in a tablespoon of oil. I added two teaspoons of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of salt, fresh ground mixed pepper and paprika. Then I put the cubed pork in and toss it all together.  I put it all into a hot oiled pan and gave it a nice sear all around. When the rice was done I put the carrots and peas in. They were then finished with butter and salt when they were done.

 The lemon juice cooked up beautifully, leaving a bright note on the meat.  It was the best kebabs I've ever tasted. (not that I've tried that many!) Frozen peas cooked in the microwave and finished with butter and salt hardly bears mentioning, but I did peel and slice the carrot! The rice didn't gain a lot of flavour from the herbs but at least it had green specks in it. The meat steamed a bit until the lemon juice cooked off so it was a bit tough. Marinating would have helped a lot.

I'd make this pork dish again. Better rice and vegetables next time and marinate the meat a bit but the pork was delicious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chicken Chop Suey

I'm calling it chop suey because it has bean sprouts. If that's not a defining characteristic, my apologies. I started with half an onion diced finely, sweated in oil and sesame oil till it starts to turn golden.  Then I added the chicken pieces which were salted and floured.  When the chicken had a sear all round I added the celery and carrots and the other half of the onion in larger chunks. At this point I added a 

Next the mushrooms and green pepper and finally the bean sprouts. At some point I added a couple of teaspoons of oyster sauce and the same of soy sauce.  The bean sprouts released quite a bit of water so I sprinkled a little flour over all to thicken it. Toss, let the flour taste cook off and serve over white rice.

Really simple and really good. 

Beef Tenderloin

I felt like beef and Fern has said he only wants beef tenderloin because he doesn't like fatty cuts. I had potatoes, carrots and sprouts and I even had sour cream so it was a very quick shopping trip. I microwaved the potatoes then wrapped them in foil with butter, salt, pepper and chives and put them on the high rack in the BBQ. The carrots and Brussels sprouts were done in the steamer, cooled under running water and reheated in olive oil with crisp bacon bits.  The mushrooms were fried in butter with a little oil so it wouldn't burn. The steaks were done in 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. A two minute timer on a watch is great for this.

Simple but good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Walmart Brownies with Vanilla Ice Cream

It has been a while since I made brownies or ice cream for that matter.  Get a 400gm bar of Waterbridge Extra Dark Chocolate from Walmart. 

Walmart Brownies

6 tbsp butter (less than 1/4 cup)
4 rows or 8 ounces Waterbridge Extra Dark (or Dark) Chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup toasted walnuts

Melt the butter and chocolate.  Add sugar and beat in the two eggs then the flour and nuts.  Beat the mixture for 1 minute or until it becomes smooth and glossy.  Bake in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes. If it's underdone, it will stick to the knife when cut.

Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cream
1 cup milk

Mix and put in the ice cream maker. It was as good as it looks and sounds.

Roast Chicken Breast with Stove Top Stuffing

Our friend Ryan likes Stove Top Stuffing and I have a couple of boxes of it in the cupboard so I invited him over for dinner. That is a breaded chicken breast with stuffing and vegetables. All I did with the breast was salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Then I floured it.  Dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and put in the oven at 375ºF for 35 minutes.  

The stuffing is too easy, hot water, butter and the box. The peas were frozen and cooked in the microwave with the carrots. That's a little mayonnaise beside the chicken. This was a surprisingly good meal. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spaghetti and Salad - with a bit of brand ranting

It was time to make spaghetti sauce again.  I had Italian sausage in the fridge so I only needed ground beef and tomato sauce.  I also picked up a bag of mixed lettuce. I find I will whip up a little vinaigrette for a salad if I have a bag of lettuce.  I tend not to make a salad if I have to wash and dry all the ingredients. Also, I will use up a whole bag of cut lettuce but I won't usually finish a head of lettuce or cabbage etc. So there is much less waste with ready made salad fixings. 

The sauce was the usual.  Sweat a diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic (smashed, minced), mushrooms and peppers.  Remove from pot and brown ground beef and mild Italian sausage. Add the veggies back in and add a can of tomato sauce (I usually use Hunt's) and a can of Aylmer Tomato soup (must be Aylmer, available at Mitchell's in Powell River or smaller chains elsewhere). Simmer for an hour or three and serve over spaghetti. (Barilla pasta tastes best.)

I needed white wine vinegar so I tried a bottle of Maille brand because I like their Dijon Mustard. 
I put one teaspoon olive oil in a bowl and added two teaspoons vegetable oil and two teaspoons Maille white wine vinegar. Salt, mixed pepper and dried chives. Whisk it into an emulsion and toss the salad in it. The proportions of 3:2 oil to vinegar are standard. Too much vinegar won't form an emulsion and too little will taste oily. Just about anything you like can go into the vinaigrette to flavour it. Yesterday I used rice wine vinegar which is very bright and crisp. The Maille was also bright but had wonderful fruity wine overtones. I like it.

Fresh Parmesan grated over top of the spaghetti and serve.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fish n' Chips

I'm getting awfully brave. I went off to the store with fish in mind but I was actually wondering if the cod was still on special. Fish and Chips would be great tonight! It takes a lot of confidence to 'want' to do battered deep fried fish, and chips. It was still on special and it looked good. I chose a 300gm piece, a bag of lettuce and headed home, after paying of course. 

I made far too many french fries and even managed to make a salad and tartar sauce.

Beer Batter

1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
~3/4 bottle of beer

Mine was a bit thick and lumpy but it cooked up fine. I salted the fish first then coated it in flour and then dipped it in the batter. Hold the fish in the oil for a few seconds till it starts to float, then let it go.

I got the fries going first at 325ºF. It took four batches to pre cook all the fries for 3 minutes. Then I put the fish in the 325ºF oil and found it wasn't browning fast enough so I turned the heat up.  That helped. I cooked the fish perfectly. I'm beginning to think battered fish is more forgiving than it appears. I managed to do the final 3 minutes on the fries at 375ºF in 3 batches. Fern complained it cooled the oil too much and made the fries greasy. Next time, don't rush. 

While all that was happening I managed to mix a 

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp soy oil or any oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
a dot of dijon mustard

I bought a bag of the spring mix and tossed it in. I managed to get everything coated. My hand, ring, watch, even a bit of the salad!

Tartar Sauce

2 tsp sweet relish
1 tbsp mayonnaise
dot of dijon mustard

Salting the cod first made a difference, the fish stood up on it's own. The batter was crisp and tasty. I like the tartar sauce although I know it's not a true version. The fries were almost perfect. The salad was really nice. Those bags of mixed lettuce are fairly economical considering all the things in them. Buying all that myself would cost a bundle and half of it would rot before we could eat it.

Overall, it was a feast. A good one! For about $5 worth of cod.

Hmm. fried chicken ...... mmmmmm.......

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mushroom Chardonnay Chicken

I asked Fern what kind of chicken he would like for dinner and he asked for chicken with a mushroom white wine sauce. This is the first time I've taken an order, then shopped and prepared the requested dish. I picked up two breasts with skin and bones on so I could make skin treats for the dogs and chicken stock for sauces. I picked up about eight or ten small mushrooms too. As soon as I got home I boned the breasts and put the bones, an onion, a carrot, a stick of celery and a bay leaf in a pot of water and brought it to a fast boil.  I skim the grey foam that forms at the edges initially, it makes the stock cloudy. Simmer 30 minutes then cool and drain.

Fresh carrots and frozen peas round out the plate.  I almost never see fresh peas anywhere but I am perfectly happy with frozen. I felt butter on the vegetables would be better than olive oil with the fruity wine sauce. So after I nuked the peas and carrots together I drained them and added salt, pepper and a pad of butter. 

The oven was preheated to 375ºF.  I salted and floured the chicken then browned both sides in a well oiled pan.  Then the pan and all went into the oven for 25 minutes. 

The sauce was simple.  I fried the sliced mushrooms in oil and butter till they had a sear on them.  Then sprinkled salt and a teaspoon of flour over them.  I cooked the flour for a minute then added 1 ounce of chicken stock and 2 ounces white wine.  It looked a bit thin so I added an ounce of milk also. That gave it a little body. I whisked the lumps out and cooked it down. 

Fern loved it.

Prawn and Swiss Cheese Quiche

My chickens have started laying green eggs again.  They stopped for about 6 weeks while they moulted. So I had far too many eggs and needed to use them up. Quiche is easy and uses loads of eggs. First, pie pastry.  This makes enough for one double crust pie or, as in this case, a quiche and 6 butter tarts. The tarts were an after thought, not photographed, so I won't describe them except to say baking the empty shells first worked far better.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup lard
1 small egg
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp cold water

Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the lard into the flour and salt till it resembles coarse oatmeal. The small bits of fat form a crust on their top and bottom which makes the pastry flaky. Whisk together wet ingredients and add 3/4 to the flour mixture. Use a fork to lift the flour into the egg until all liquid is absorbed and mixture is uniform.  Add more liquid a little at a time till the dough can be formed into a ball.  It should not be sticky wet. Put dough in fridge to cool for 30 minutes so the lard will roll.

Take the larger half of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/8" thick or slightly larger than the pie plate. Roll the dough onto the roller to transfer to the plate and unroll it.  Fix any holes or tears and cut excess around the edge. Bake 5-10 minutes at 400ºF. Cool.

I thawed some cooked prawns and sweated them with a diced onion and chopped clove of garlic. My pie plates hold 3 cups of filling so I cracked open one and three quarter cups of eggs. I grated at least a quarter pound of Swiss cheese and added that. A dollop of home made yoghurt added with the prawns and onions.  Then I filled to 3 cups with milk. If you have cream on hand use that to make it richer. I'm fighting an expanding waist line so I use milk. Pour filling into shell and place in oven then turn down heat to 325ºF. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the centre is set. 

This was way better than cereal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ciabatta Bread with Beef Stew

Beef Stew I found in the freezer so all I had to do was defrost and heat it. Fern likes fresh bread with stews so I got out my little Ciabatta recipe.  I use All Purpose flour and add vital wheat gluten to it.  Less than a quarter cup gluten replaces flour in this recipe:

Ciabatta Bread

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients then make a well in the centre and put 3/4 of the water into it.  Use a fork to lift the flour into the water until all the water is absorbed.  It needs to be slightly sticky but not so gluey it leaves chunks on your hands. Add more water till it gets to the right consistency.  Then start kneading. Press and stretch the dough out with the palm of the hand, turn 90º and repeat.  At first the dough is lumpy. As it's kneaded it becomes smoother and stretchier. Once it is becoming smooth, fold it over so air is trapped in the centre each time. If it's too sticky, knead it in flour till it's the right consistency. When it's uniformly smooth it's ready to rise. Form into a ball, coat the inside of bowl with olive oil, place the dough in it and brush remaining oil over it.  Set in a warm place to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size. Place on parchment and bake in 400ºF oven for 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

This is an easy small loaf to make so it's perfect to lift a humble dish to new heights.

Roast Beef - Sirloin Tip

Ryan was here when I was deciding what to have for dinner so I invited him to stay and went off to the store to get a roast beef of some sort. A beautiful Sirloin Tip Roast was on special at half price. Perfect! I had potatoes and carrots so I only needed broccoli to complete the meal. 

I seasoned the roast with salt first, then Montreal Steak Spice and set the oven at 300ºF.  It would take about an hour and a half at that temperature, I inserted the meat thermometer and put it in the centre of the oven. Ordinary mashed potatoes and carrots and broccoli that was steamed to almost cooked then cooled under running water and subsequently reheated in olive oil. The gravy was made in the roasting pan while the meat rested under foil.  I used a tsp of flour, browned in the pan then chicken stock to thin. I think I put a little milk in it too so it wouldn't taste like chicken soup, red wine would also work. Red wine has to be cooked off so don't add it at the last minute. The white condiment is horseradish. 

It looks a bit like a suburban drive by but it tasted wonderful!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pork Teriyaki

Fern wanted something light and a stir fry usually fills that bill fairly well.  Pork tenderloin was on special so I picked up a small one, a red pepper and some mushrooms.  This dish takes less than an hour to put together and I start by getting everything out of the fridge,  washed and draining. I cut the meat into big bite size pieces, salt and flour it. I also cut into largish pieces the onions, celery and red pepper. Slice up the mushrooms and it's ready to start cooking. I usually start the rice just before chopping the vegetables. (The rice needs to be cooked a day ahead to make fried rice.)

First I sweated the onion a bit then added the pork.  I got a good sear all around the pork then started adding the other vegetables.  First the carrot, followed by the celery and frozen peas.  A splash of chicken stock, 2 teaspoon of oyster sauce (or fish sauce), 2 teaspoons of molasses (optional) and soy sauce. Add the mushrooms and red peppers.

Plate the stir fry over or beside the rice.  I added extra soy sauce to my rice. Fern thinks the molasses makes it too sweet but I like the flavour so next time I'll make it without for Fern.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rib Steak Cooking Lesson

A friend of ours expressed an interest in learning to cook.  He has a BBQ and loves steak so that seemed like a good place to start. I picked up two nice Rib Steaks, sour cream and some mushrooms. 

First was to prep everything.  All vegetables and starches must be washed and cut up for cooking. I scrub the potato with a plastic pot scrubber, brush loose dirt off the mushrooms with a brush but keep them dry. I rinse the broccoli and shake it dry. 

First I poke holes with a fork so the potatoes won't explode, then microwave them till they are almost completely done.  Then I wrap them in foil with butter, chives and salt. They go in the BBQ on the top rack, not over the heat. They are already cooked so it's just to flavour them with the butter and chives.

The steak was first seasoned on both sides with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Then the steak goes on a hot BBQ on high heat right over the hottest part. Leave 2 minutes then rotate 90 degrees for another 2 minutes. Then turn over, 2 minutes, rotate 90 degrees and cook 2 minutes more for a total of 8 minutes.  The steaks will be medium rare at this point. If the steaks are really thin then use less time. Thick, use more. Gaining that experience depends mostly on the BBQ you use, so you have to learn how your equipment performs.

The mushrooms were fried in oil and butter with a bit of salt.  The broccoli was steamed then cooled under cold running water.  The pot was put back on the burner with olive oil to cook off the bitterness.  When the oil's bitter smell is gone add the broccoli and keep tossing it with a little salt till it warms through. 

Plate the potato with sour cream and garnish with bacon bits and fresh chives if you have them. (I had only dried) Plate the steak with the mushrooms on top and set the broccoli beside. A little grated Parmesan or cheddar on the broccoli if you want to impress someone. I was keeping it simple.

My student liked well done steak because that's how his father liked his. This time however, he decided to try it the way I make it just to see what it's like. It was juicy and full of flavour, something he'd never experienced before. He'll never have well done steak again and he's determined to changed his fathers choices. At 88 I don't think he'll change much.

Teaching cooking is just as much fun as teaching computers. I think maybe teaching people to eat well could be a good direction to go for my impending retirement.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I decided on snapper even before going to the store, I knew it was on special from my previous visit. I already had vegetables so I only needed the fish. When I prepped the fish I felt each piece all over on both sides and found the hidden bones. There always seems to be one bone left and it always lands on Fern's plate so it was important to get them all. This time I did. The secret seems to be to rub fingers in all directions on both sides of the fillet. That found the little hidden bones.

I made mashed potatoes and steamed the vegetables.  The mash had butter, milk and salt. The vegetables were run under cold water to stop cooking then reheated in olive oil and salt. The fish I only put salt and pepper on one side because the fillets were thin.  I put flour on both sides and put them in the frying pan.  The oil should have been hotter because they didn't brown much. They were a bit bland and flavourless too. I'll definitely get out my snapper rub next time, lazy just didn't pay off.

The faux tartar sauce is just a spoon of sweet relish and two spoons of mayonnaise. It works. If I had seasoned the fish with anything it would have been a great meal. As it was, nobody died.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Roast Pork

We had sole last night with ham corn chowder and salad but I forgot to take a picture. Tonight it's 800gm pork loin roasted with potatoes and carrots. Frozen peas cooked with olive oil, salt and water. I brined the pork for a couple of hours in a brine of 2 tbsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp molasses in 2 or 3 cups of cold water, cover and put in the fridge.  To roast I laid 2 bay leaves, a thyme twig and a rosemary stick on the roast and put it in a 325ºF oven for 2 hours. I took the roast out and let it rest under foil and put the potatoes back in at 375 for a few minutes to brown more. The condiment is Fern's Quebecois Ketchup.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Breaded Roast Chicken Breast

I needed to make chicken stock so I picked up a couple of breasts from Safeway.  For some reason I can't buy two bone in/skin on chicken breasts at Save On Foods. I tried one day. I asked the woman at the counter if she could repackage 3 breasts from one of the packages of 7. "yes of course." she replied. So she opened a package priced at $12.14 and took 3 breasts out of it.  She packaged up the breasts and put a new price on them. $12.65! 

I'm getting good at boning chicken breasts now, I quickly cut along the breast bone to the narrow tip. Then scrape the meat away from the ribs and finally the shoulder.  Pull the skin off and put it in a small frying pan lightly oiled.  Make the skin crispy for the dogs/cats or maybe a crunchy garnish on the meat. To make stock cut an onion in half and chunk up a carrot and celery stick.  A couple of cloves of garlic (optional) and a bay leaf or two. Add the bones and fill the pot with water.  Bring to a fast boil and start skimming the grey foam that forms. It makes the stock cloudy. When grey foam stops forming turn the heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook for 35 minutes total. Let it cool then strain through a sieve or cheesecloth or whatever. Throw away the soggy vegetables and bones, all their flavour and nutrition is now in the stock.

It's best to salt the breast first but I usually forget and have to put it in the egg dip with pepper, paprika and poultry seasoning. Seasoning can also go in the breading but most of it is left in the bag. Anyway, coat the breast in flour then dip in beaten egg and shake in bag of bread crumbs. Put on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes or until juices run clear when pricked with a fork. It's a good idea to press the side of the fork against the meat see what it feels like cooked. Eventually you'll be able to tell when the meat is done simply by pressing on it.

The rice is plain, just salt and olive oil.  The carrots and Brussels sprouts were done in the steamer, run under cold water to stop cooking, then reheated in olive oil and salt. Once the bitterness is cooked off the oil it tastes wonderful. Overheat olive oil and it tastes very bitter again.

I basted the breasts with chicken fat from the skins which browned them nicely.  The remaining fat took a teaspoon of flour and an ounce of chicken stock then half a cup of milk. Whisk smooth and add 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Melt and serve over the vegetables.

For an easy to prepare meal, this is really good.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Not Turkey - Pork Chops in Mushroom White Wine Sauce

We've had enough turkey for a while so I decided to try something different.  Mushrooms were on special so I bought a bunch and headed to the meat department. A pack of boneless loin chops was $6 so that was the right price. I already had the sprouts. Rice instead of potatoes.

I put the rice on, cleaned the mushrooms and sliced them up.  Prepared the sprouts for the steamer and took the chops out of the fridge. I didn't even start with a diced shallot, don't know what I was thinking. I put lots of oil in a pan started searing the mushrooms.  When they were done I took them out put them aside.  I put the meat in the pan and seasoned it quickly. Slightly wrong order there but I kept going. I cooked the chops almost right through then spread a teaspoon of Dijon mustard on one side and turned it over.  After a minute I turned it over again to get mustard on both sides.  When the mustard was cooked on I put the chops with the mushrooms.  

The sprouts were softening so I ran them under cold water and put them aside for a minute. I emptied the water from their pot and put half an ounce of olive oil in it. Turned the burner down to just over medium low and set the pot on to cook the olive oil. When the bitterness was cooked off the oil I put the sprouts in to heat up and finish cooking.

In the main pan I added a teaspoon of flour and mixed it into the oil.  About half a cup of white wine went in and I whisked it into a sauce.  A little salt and pepper.  When the alcohol was cooked off I added a bit of milk, maybe a quarter cup at the most. I brought that back to a boil to reduce a bit then put the mushrooms and meat back in.  

I plated the rice, the pork and mushrooms over that and the sprouts on the side.  I forgot to put grated cheese on the sprouts. They didn't need it.

It was delicious and a great way to serve a pork chop.