Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rib Steak with Mushrooms and Baked Potato

I felt like a steak before leaving home so it didn't take much time to decide on what to buy. The smallest rib steak. I used to buy a big one but now I take small and share a large piece of it with the dogs. I did the potato in the microwave, buttered the outside and put it on the plate in the oven to keep warm. The steak was done on the BBQ in 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. Broccoli and frozen corn were done in the microwave and finished with butter.  A little oil and vinegar over the salad. The mushrooms fried in butter. The potato is topped with sour cream, fresh chives and artificial bacon bits. When the bacon bits are gone I'm not allowed to buy more. Real bacon or nothing.

It's hard to fail with a rib steak and this one is no exception. Most surprising was that the corn and broccoli both came out perfect when done together in the microwave. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Breaded Chicken Breast on Carrot Puree

I needed fresh chicken stock so I bought two chicken breasts and boned them. The skins I fried for the dogs.  I put flour and a little corn flour in a plastic bag and bread crumbs in another bag. An egg whipped up with salt, pepper and paprika.  First shake the breast in the flour, then dip in the egg and shake in the crumbs.  I put the breasts in a pan and sprinkled some thyme over top, placed a sprig of rosemary on it and sprayed the whole thing with oil. I then put it in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes.

The rice was done in the microwave with salt and a little oil.  The peas were done in microwave, salted, buttered and stirred into the rice when done. Since Fern was away it was safe to experiment so I decided to try to improve the carrots. I boiled then blended them with butter, salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg and tiny pinch of cinnamon, few drops of lemon juice and a drop of molasses. Fresh parsley and chives over all.

The first thing I noticed when I started eating was how good the rice and peas were. I've served rice with peas many times but never mixed together. The peas made the rice taste better and the rice made the peas taste better. So together, they were better than each alone. I always thought people ate peas and rice because that's what they had, it never occurred to me that they ate it because it tasted better. Somehow that makes me feel a bit bigoted.

The carrot puree was really good.  I would have put a dollop of mayonnaise on the chicken but the carrots provided all the moisture and flavour needed. The breading stayed fairly crunchy too so it worked in all respects. This plate is starting to look more sophisticated and cohesive. I'm starting to understand how to assemble a plate. If the assembled plate tastes better, Fern will be more likely to enjoy it. A carrot puree that isn't better will be rejected.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Elevated Tenderized Pork Cutlet

I was planning on chicken but when I got the store there wasn't a bone in breast packaged singly. There was a tenderized pork cutlet and I looked and thought, "Can I elevate that? Let's try." I grabbed the pork and headed home.

I was reaching for a potato when I remembered that Stove Top stuffing in the cupboard.  If I have stuffing instead of potatoes, the dogs finish off the excess and love it and I don't have to peel potatoes! So that's what I did.  I have realized lately that two vegetables on the plate make it look confused. A single cooked vegetable with a salad looks better and is more satisfying over all. I was pairing it with frozen corn which is difficult to do wrong. I did finish the corn with salt and butter instead of olive oil.

To elevate the chop I set out some flour with a bit of corn flour and added a sprinkle of salt.  I put out another bag with panko like bread crumbs made from my ciabatta and added salt to that as well.  My coatings usually lack salt so this time I decided to season the egg dip instead.  One egg, salt, mixed pepper, dried thyme and whisk it up.  I coated the meat with the flour mixture then dipped it in the egg. I got as much egg on it as I could, then rolled it in the bread crumbs and dropped it into hot oil in a frying pan. The pan was too hot initially so it had a small amount of scorching on the breading but it didn't affect the overall taste. The condiment is Fern's home made ketchup made with tomatoes, pears and onions. Yummy!

I whipped up a quick vinaigrette of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a dot of dijon mustard. Two parts oil to one part wine vinegar .  Whisk it up and toss the salad in it. 

When I tasted the cutlet I just stopped and was amazed.  It was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  It had enough salt so the corn flour and thyme flavours came through. Even my Ciabatta bread crumbs added flavour.  It was delicious. The best pork cutlet I've ever had. Finally I succeeded in elevating a humble ingredient. I'm not quite ready for Chopped Canada, but I'm getting closer!

Rib Steak

Another heart stopping fatty red meat meal. Yummm! I microwaved (poke holes with fork so it doesn't explode) a potato then wrapped it in foil with butter, salt and chives and put it in the BBQ to finish.  The steak was seasoned with salt, black pepper, brushed with oil and done in the usual 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides.  The vegetables were steamed, then finished in olive oil. I sliced open the potato and added sour cream chives and bacon bits. Plop it all down on a warm plate and it's a meal worthy of any steak house.

Korean Pork BBQ Ribs

I went to the store thinking chicken would be it for dinner.  At the meat counter I spied some Korean BBQ marinated pork ribs and thought, it's just me, might as well give it a try. So I picked them up. I wasn't going to BBQ them so I put them in a 275ºF oven to slow roast and hopefully come out juicy and tender.  I covered the pan with foil for the first hour and a half, then removed the foil and turned the temperature up to 400º to brown the meat for the last half hour. That made it look much more palatable.

The carrots and broccoli were done in the steamer and finished in the pot with olive oil. Microwaved basmati rice. That's it. Not much work for such a large meal.  

The pork was good, an interesting flavour.  I'm not sure I'd make it again unless I planned to actually BBQ the meat and see how that turns out. I finished the rest for lunch next day so it was good enough to eat twice.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pineapple Prawns

It was time for prawns and pasta and I had pineapple tidbits in the fridge.  I wasn't aiming for sweet and sour so the dish stayed firmly in the savoury end of the spectrum.  All I did was sweat an onion to golden then add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and dried basil.  I precooked the prawns in the pan then removed them while I made the sauce.  The sauce was a can of organic tomato sauce which I reduced in the pan. I put penne pasta on to cook and during it's last 5 minutes I put the prawns back in the sauce to finish cooking.  I also added some drained pineapple pieces.  I whisked up a vinaigrette of 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a dot of dijon mustard. Tossed the salad in it and served the pasta with parmesan cheese grated on top.

It was surprisingly good.  The sauce was savoury but the pineapple pieces gave a sweet note. Fern probably wouldn't like it though so it most likely won't be made again.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tenderized Pork Cutlet

Home alone again. I see no shame in less expensive cuts of meat, what matters is how it tastes and eats. Today I chose a tenderized pork cutlet paired with Fern's ketchup, vegetables, salad and Stove Top Stuffing! It's easy, different and the dogs can finish what I don't eat.

The cutlet I salted and peppered then coated with flour and corn flour. I fried it in plenty of oil. The vegetables I steamed then ran cold water to stop cooking and put them back in the pot with olive oil to finish. A simple vinaigrette on the salad.


2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
dot dijon mustard

Whisk and toss the salad in it.  My plate is back in the suburbs again but it tasted wonderful! Even the stuffing was a nice break from the usual. I really enjoyed this meal.

There is a place for pre-processed packaged food in a serious kitchen, it's small but it's there.

Rib Steak - Dinner for One

When Fern goes away the steaks come out to play! I bought a wonderful rib steak for dinner to have with mushrooms, baked potato and a salad. I was going to BBQ it but the wind was howling over 60mph so I thought, frying pan is good! I didn't have fresh greens and when I thought about it I decided to go with only a salad. I seared mushrooms in butter, salt and black pepper. The potato was done in the microwave and topped with sour cream, chives and bacon bits. Eventually I'll use up all the artificial bacon bits and Fern won't let me buy them again. Then I'll have to use real ones or nothing. What a choice.

One thing I noticed.  The plate looks a lot better without the vegetables.  Had I tried just a little harder the plate would have looked just like it came from a restaurant kitchen. It's my first unified plate. Another case of less is more.

The salad is my usual.


2 tsp oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
dot of dijon mustard

Whisk and toss the salad in it. I should try to come up with a different dressing so we aren't having the same thing all the time. I've found if I have the same great food every day, it starts to taste not that great. Variety keeps the taste buds alive.

Sole with Almonds and Lemon Sauce

Fern is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow so something light was in order.  Fresh sole is available now so I picked up 200gms.  I cut each fillet in half, salted, peppered and floured it.  The vegetables were done in the microwave and finished with butter.  Mashed potatoes have just butter, milk and salt.


2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
dot of dijon mustard

The lemon sauce started with a roux of 1 tsp flour and 2 tsp flour. Cook the flour briefly then added a splash of chicken stock and salt.  Add a few drops of lemon juice and taste.  Add more lemon till the sauce is lemony but balanced. It shouldn't pucker your mouth. Add a little water to thin it down if necessary. I toasted slivered almonds so they had a hint of colour then added them to the sauce.  I plated the sauce over the fish. The salad has the same vinaigrette I've been making regularly. It was a good pleasant meal and should travel well tomorrow.

Roast Chicken Breast

I think I need to sear chicken in the pan before putting it in the oven.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning but that left it looking quite anaemic. The vegetables were steamed, then finished in olive oil.  Mashed potatoes have just salt, butter and milk. I roasted the breast at 375ºF for 30 minutes. It was good but not outstanding. My plating is still firmly entrenched in the suburbs. Maybe when my plating improves I will have taken the next step to chefdom.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Roast Pork Stir Fry

The very best thing to do with leftover roast pork is a stir fry. It's quick, easy and pleases everyone.  First, cut up all the vegetables. Once you start cooking things move fast.  I diced half a large onion and cut the rest into chunks. The diced onion I sweated till starting to golden then added the mushrooms.  I got a good sear on the mushrooms then added the pork.  The pork was thin sliced into bite size pieces and floured and seasoned with ground ginger. I couldn't taste the ginger so fresh is called for. Next the carrots, wait till they start to soften and add the green pepper and bean sprouts. A dash of oyster or fish sauce will give it an umami undertone that you'll like. Soy sauce of course. I like China Lily, Chinese people hate it. There must be something they know that I don't. 

Serve with rice. As an alternative, a red pepper and molasses would turn it into a delightful Teriyaki. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Greek Inspired Pork Tenderloin

We felt like something lighter than beef so I perused the meat counter and found a nice pork tenderloin on special.  I picked it up and headed out, I had everything else at home.  I made a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, mixed pepper, paprika, fresh oregano and fresh parsley (forgot the garlic). I cut the meat into bite size pieces and that marinated for about an hour and a half.  I put rice on and the steamer with the carrots. I put broccoli in too and par cooked it then ran both under cold water to stop cooking. For the salad I made a simple 


1 tbsp olive/canola oil 
2 tsp white wine vinegar
mixed pepper
dot of dijon mustard

Whisk and toss the salad in it. I've been using the Fresh Express bag of iceberg/red cabbage and carrot mix that costs only $1.79 for 4 salads. We probably wouldn't have salad if I had to cut it all up myself.

I drained the pork and put it all in a large frying pan on high heat.  I put too much oil in because I wanted it to boil off the liquid from the meat. It worked, a bit messy but it worked. The meat managed to get a sear without becoming dry. I put the carrots and broccoli in a pot with olive oil to reheat and finish cooking.  

I called Fern and he came in saying, it sure smells good! I never get to smell my own kitchen, I think I might be missing half the fun.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Roast Pork

Sorry for the out of focus picture, camera autofocus missed. I brined the roast in 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons molasses and 1 teaspoon sugar.  I dissolved it all in hot water then added cool water to dilute. It brined for an hour, which helped.  To roast I put bay leaves, thyme leaves and a sprig of rosemary on top and put the roast in the oven at 350ºF for about two hours. I always use a good meat thermometer. Walmart has one for about $20.

The potatoes and carrots I tossed in olive oil then set in the roasting pan. Frozen peas microwaved are the vegetable.  The condiment is Fern's home made ketchup, tomato, apple and pear, it's really good. 

Another delicious meal for not very much work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Roast Chicken Breast

I really wanted to bread this breast and roast it but I didn't have any bread crumbs. So instead I seasoned it with salt and pepper and sprinkled some ground ginger over it. I sprinkled some flour and corn meal over that and brushed it evenly around the breast.  I put the breasts on a small baking sheet and put them in a 375ºF oven for 35 minutes. I served it with steamed broccoli finished in olive oil, corn with butter and mashed potatoes.  For a sauce I simply added a bit of mayonnaise beside the breast.

It was good but not particularly gingery. I guess I've never made ginger chicken. Still haven't. This is chicken with possibly a little hint of ginger. Maybe a little lemon ginger sauce would be the answer.  I'll keep that in mind for next time.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pizza Sauce Prawns

This meal started off as leftovers from making pizza, but it turned out better than the pizza.  The tomato sauce I made for the pizza did double duty as the sweetish and sour sauce for the prawns.  First I put rice on to cook. Then I sweated a shallot in a sauce pan and dropped in my prawns with a little salt. When they had colour on both sides I removed them from the pan.  

The tomato sauce went in along with a dash of chicken stock and a half cup of water. A handful of drained pineapple pieces went in along with some cayenne and black pepper. Taste. Needs a little oomph so I added 2 drops of rice wine vinegar. Some ginger would have been nice too but I didn't think of it in time. When the rice was done I put the prawns back in to finish cooking while I prepared the plates. I also made the same salad we've been having lately, the vinaigrette is detailed several times on previous posts.

It was absolutely delicious. Fern commented several times while eating. That's a very good sign. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ham and Pineapple Pizza

I made mozzarella cheese again.  I'm getting better at it but I think I need to heat and stretch it a bit more to improve the texture. Also my recipe doesn't call for salt and it really needs some.  I started by making crust dough.

Pizza Crust

1 1/4 cup flour (I use All Purpose with a bit exchanged for Vital Wheat Gluten)
1/2 cup water
2 tsp honey
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Mix the dry ingredients then add the honey and water and mix with a fork. Stir with a fork till all the flour is taken up, then take the dough out and knead it on the counter.  It should be kneaded at least 5 minutes.  If it isn't kneaded enough the bread will be tough. If it is sticky, dust with flour.  I let it rise in a warm oven for an hour then I stretched it out to size. (that took at least 20 minutes) While the crust was proofing I reduced some tomato sauce to a thick almost pasty consistency. I sweated garlic and basil into it too. 

First brush the dough with olive oil then spread tomato sauce over all.  Add a layer of thin sliced ham. Sprinkle pineapple pieces around.  Spread green pepper rings around the pie.  Cover with grated mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 400ºF oven for 25 minutes.  I have a pizza stone and wooden paddle to transfer the pie from counter to oven and back again. (Hint: use parchment under the pie or it will stick to the paddle and fall apart.

I had no idea what it tasted like so it was reassuring when Fern bit into his and said, "MMMMM this is really gooooooooooood!"

Nuf said.

Ham and Cauliflower

I don't always get this dish right. Sometimes so much water comes out of the vegetables that the sauce becomes watery, as it did here.  It still tastes good but the sauce is a little thin. To make this I layered thin sliced ham in a pan, I forgot to sweat a diced onion so I just spread it over the ham.  Next a layer of thin sliced potato. A thin layer of cheese and a layer of cauliflower.  Finally cheese sauce is poured over all.  I sprinkled some chives in there at some point too.

It's a good way to use up some ham.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fresh Sole with Lemon Sauce

There was beef tenderloin on sale but I didn't feel like beef yet. Sole was fresh! I decided not to use almonds this time and just made a lemon sauce instead. The only thing new is the salad every day.  I've found that the bags of pre cut salad can be a good buy if I choose carefully. The Iceberg Garden Mix is $1.79 and makes 4 small salads, so it lasts 2 days. That is more expensive than buying fresh and making it myself, but this saves enough work that we can have a salad every day. For that reason it's worth the price.

I put potatoes on to boil and readied the carrots and broccoli for the steamer.  The sole I salted, mixed peppered and floured both sides, then laid it in plenty of hot oil. Sole cooks in about a minute each side so I had everything ready this time.  I had dressing ingredients ready to be whisked and vegetables steamed ready to be finished in olive oil.  I had mashed potatoes finished before putting the fish in the pan.  The vegetables went into oil just before the fish went in the pan.  When the edges show some brown, turn the fish over. 

The lemon sauce was a roux of a heaping teaspoon of flour and a tablespoon of butter.  Cook the flour briefly and add a little chicken stock.  A squirt of lemon juice and taste.  Add enough lemon so it tastes good but isn't too sour. This time I thinned it with water but more stock might have been better. It was a simple uncomplicated sauce. The sauce was good with both broccoli and carrots so simple doesn't mean bland. This was really good. I've made better, but it was still very good. Even if it tastes a little better, I wouldn't want to have the same thing all the time.


2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 dot dijon mustard
mixed pepper

Whisk, toss the salad in it and serve. When it's that simple, we can have it every day. At around 60 years old, we need it!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chicken with Mushroom White Wine Sauce

I had mushrooms in the fridge so it was easy to decide on how to cook the chicken.  It had to have a mushroom white wine sauce. It was getting late so I made rice and only one vegetable.  I put olive oil in the rice for flavour and the broccoli was steamed just till it was dark green then run under cold water. A few minutes before everything would be ready I put the vegetables back on the stove in the pot with olive oil to reheat and cook the oil.

The chicken was seasoned with salt, mixed pepper, paprika and then coated with flour to brown. I fried it on the stove to brown each side then put it in a 375ºF oven for 25 minutes.  The mushrooms were fried in the sauce pan in oil and butter.  When they had a sear I took them from the pan.  A pad of butter and a heaping teaspoon of flour in the pan.  I cooked the flour for  a minute then added a splash of chicken stock, followed by an ounce of milk and half a cup to one cup white wine. I cooked that down and tasted it. The oak in the Chardonnay clashed with the milk producing an unpleasant flavour. It was an unpleasant bitterness so I  added 1/4 teaspoon sugar to the sauce and tasted it.  That hid the bitter flavour but it didn't taste good year. I added salt, pepper and paprika and tasted again. It was getting better. I let it cook some more while I finished everything else.


2 tbsp oil 
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
dot of dijon mustard

Whisk and toss the salad in it.  

I tasted the sauce one more time and it had developed a nice flavour so I plated it and put the chicken on top.  Fern really liked the sauce so I think I really lucked out this time.  I'll have to remember that, no milk in oaked white wines. Maybe the bitter taste will always cook off but I'd hate to count on that and have it fail to occur. In any case, it was a great meal we both enjoyed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Roast Loin of Pork with Roasted Potatoes

I was planning on pork chops with a white wine mushroom sauce but when I go to the store I found a loin roast was the same price as a few pork chops so I bought that instead.  When I got home Ryan was there with Fern so I invited him to stay for roast pork dinner.  That's what we did.

I didn't have time to brine the roast so I salted it well. It wasn't enough, it really screamed for more salt. Otherwise it was fine.  I put two bay leaves, a few sprigs of rosemary and some dried thyme on the roast.  I diced up three potatoes and three carrots and tossed them in salt and olive oil in a lasagne pan. I cleared a space in the middle for a rack and put the roast on the rack in the centre. That took an hour and a half to get to 170ºF in the centre. I had a piece of foil ready for the roast when it came out of the oven I set it on the carving board under foil to rest.  If you don't let a roast rest all the moisture will escape as steam when you carve it and the meat will be dry. Let it rest and cool and it carves beautiful moist slices, still hot but not steaming.

I had the broccoli cut up so I put it on the steam when the roast went under foil.  While it was steaming I made a vinaigrette for a small salad.


2 tbsp oil (olive/canola) olive oil by itself is too pungent so use your favourite oil to dilute it.
1 tbsp white wine vinegar 
1/2 tsp salt
mixed pepper
small dot dijon mustard - half a chocolate chip

Whisk and toss the salad in the vinaigrette.

When the broccoli is still crisp run under cold water to stop cooking.  Drain.  Empty the water and put olive oil in the pot.  Put the drained cold broccoli in the pot and toss to coat in olive oil. Burner set to just over medium low, reheat the broccoli in the oil.  Cooking the oil gives it a wonderful flavour and the broccoli finishes cooking in the oil. 

I served the roast with Fern's home made ketchup - onion, pear and tomato - delicious

It was clear I hadn't brined the pork, it really needed salt. Next time even if it's just 15 minutes I'll still brine it just to get some salt in it. Otherwise it was a wonderful meal.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lemon Pound Cake

I found this recipe on and it works really well. I love having a little cake I can whip up when there is nothing to munch on. This one is easy because the butter is melted instead of creamed. Served with home made ice cream it is heavenly. I'm looking forward to trying this cake with home made frozen yoghurt, which has a lemony flavour. It might be too much lemon but it might be terrific!

Lemon Pound Cake

1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs - beaten
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter and mix in the sugar. Add eggs and lemon juice, mix. Add salt, milk and flour, mix. Add baking powder, mix, pour into parchment lined loaf pan and quickly pop in the oven. Bake at 325ºF for 1 hour. When it's done remove from oven, poke holes along centre line end to end. Have 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar mixed, pour over the holes immediately.

This cake has nice texture and great flavour. I didn't bother to ice it and it really doesn't need it. I served it with ice cream and last night by itself. Alone or together, it's a piece of cake!

Baking with parchment means I can lift the cake out of the pan by the parchment and place on cake stand. Cover with dome and using a sharp knife, cut all around the dome.  Tear away the paper and I have a perfect display, easy as ... cake.

Prawns on Homemade Pasta

Fern wants less beef so we're having seafood a lot more than before.  Prawns and pasta has become such an easy goto dish I felt it needed a little extra effort this time.  So I made fresh pasta.  First, estimate the size of the eggs. My Ameraucana chickens lay small eggs but my ISA browns lay extra large eggs.  For extra large eggs start with 2/3 cup flour. Small eggs start with 1/3 cup flour.  break egg into well in flour.  With the tines of a fork pointing down, move the fork in a circular pattern until all the egg is taken up in the flour.  If the dough is still sticky, add flour.  Knead the dough to a smooth non sticky consistency. If the dough is even a little sticky it will turn into a ball of wet dough when it's cut. To knead dough place dough on counter and push down and away with the heel of your palm. The dough can be rolled by hand and cut into noodles with a knife or run through a pasta roller.

The sauce was simply a can of Tree of Life organic tomato sauce with a tablespoon of dried basil. I did sweat an onion with garlic then par cook the prawns and remove them from the pan first.  They went back into the sauce during the last 2 or 3 minutes cooking so they wouldn't be rubbery. I cooked probably 1/4 of the water out of the tomato sauce before serving.  

The salad vinaigrette is becoming a standard. If I put a salad down with the meal, we both eat it.  If I plan to get it later, we never get it. As long as the proportions remain the same, a lesser or greater amount can be made to serve more or less than two people.

Vinaigrette for two

2 tbsp oil (I use half olive, half canola)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (Maille brand is very good)
1 dot dijon mustard (half a chocolate chip)

Whisk then toss the lettuce in it.

I forgot to salt the water for the pasta so it was bland. Otherwise it was a great meal.