Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Liver and Onions

Fern wanted something for dinner that wasn't 'fatty' so I picked up liver the moment I saw it. I already had bacon and nugget potatoes so I only needed greens, broccoli won. I cooked the bacon in the pan first then caramelized the onions. The potatoes were boiling away on the stove and I had the steamer loaded with the broccoli. I put flour in a bag and shook the liver in it to coat fully. Everything was out of the frying pan, add a little oil and lay the liver in the pan.  Save On slices the liver too thin so it's impossible to cook it perfectly, it's well done or raw. I certainly don't want to eat it raw!

I plated the liver under the bacon and onions but Fern said that made the bacon soggy. So next time I'll make a bed of the onions and lay the liver on that then top with the bacon. The broccoli was steamed then cooled under cold water and reheated in olive oil. The potatoes were boiled and served with butter. Ordinary Heinz ketchup on the side. Fern had never tried liver with ketchup and he was surprised that he liked it. It was impossible to eat the whole plate of food. The dogs finished it off.

The plating would have looked better if I had sane portions. The plate is just overwhelmed with the quantity of food. Otherwise, everything tasted great.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry

I saw an Uncle Ben's Stir Fry Kit at the grocery store for $10. That's the kit, you still have to buy the food! A stir fry is about the simplest thing to cook so buying a 'kit' is a complete waste of resources. Let's lay it  out so we can see what it should cost.

3 tbsp canola oil $.001
1/2 tsp sesame oil $.02
300gm Chicken cut in one inch cubes $4
1 celery stick $.10
1 onion $.33
1/2 cup cashews $.25 (buy bulk in the spring when they're cheap)
3 different peppers from garden $.75
1/2 cup rice $.05
1 tbsp flour $.001
2 tbsp soy sauce $.15
2 green onions diced

These are extremely rough estimates but give some idea of what this meal should cost. The total is $4.65 to feed this meal to two people. The kit comes with instructions so I'll provide those next. Dice all vegetables into large bite size pieces. Dust the chicken with the flour. Add canola and sesame oil to the pan. Get the pan hot and sweat the onion till it starts to soften then add the chicken. Get some brown on the chicken  then add the mushrooms. Sear them a bit then add the celery. Toss the pan add the peppers. Add the soy sauce.  A splash of white wine or chicken stock in the pan will draw the water out into a sauce. When the peppers have softened serve over rice and garnish with green onion.

It's really hard to screw up a stir fry. To ensure success, have everything cut up and the chicken floured before starting cooking. Trying to dice vegetables while something is cooking ends up with burned food combined with under cooked food. Having everything ready before starting cooking is the secret.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fresh From the Garden Chicken Curry

I had lots of peppers and tomatoes from the garden so I picked up some chicken breasts for a curry. Nugget potatoes were on special again so I bought some of them to go with the curry. I diced an onion, a few peppers, numerous cherry tomatoes and a carrot. I diced the chicken and salted and dusted it with flour and added it to the pan once the onions were sweated translucent. Once there was a bit of brown on the meat I sprinkled 2 teaspoons of curry powder over all. I tossed it a bit and added the carrots, peppers and tomatoes. I added  a splash of white wine. It simmered for about twenty minutes then I plated the curry over the boiled nugget potatoes.  I put fresh diced green onion on top as a garnish. Fern said some butter on the potatoes would have been nice. Next time.

It was a really nice curry. Having it on potatoes instead of rice was a nice touch too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pork Loin with Pear Sauce

I brined the roast in salt water and molasses for a few hours before roasting at 300ºF till the thermometer said it was done. I had laid bay leaves and sprinkled thyme and a sprig of rosemary on the roast going in.  

The vegetables were steamed and finished in olive oil with a little salt. Mashed potatoes with salt, butter and milk.  The pear sauce Fern made a few years back, it's dreamy with the pork.

It looks pedestrian but it's packed with flavour.

White Wine Lemon Sole en Papillote

This sounds intimidating but it really does all the work for you.  I bought a box of parchment bags to try out but I think using two layers of parchment would be better.  All I did here was put carrot, celery, green onion and leeks in the bag.  Then I laid the fish over top and finally sprinkled salt and dried thyme on the fish.  (putting salt and thyme on before putting the fish in the bag would have been very smart) I laid a sprig of dill on the fish then a splash of lemon juice. Finally an ounce or so of white wine then seal up the bag and put in a 350ºF oven for twenty minutes. 

Rice is just boiled with salt, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. Plate the rice, empty the bag beside it on the plate and serve. 

Tomato and cucumber salad was just that. The dressing was 

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
black pepper

It was great! I like this better than fish & chips!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Breaded Pork Cutlet

It sure looks good in that photo! I finally got Fern to eat butternut squash by cooking it and removing it from the rind. Add a little salt and butter and it's good to go. The potatoes were boiled and mashed with butter, milk and salt.  I steamed the broccoli then cooled it under cold water and finished it in olive oil. The cutlet was seasoned by Save On Foods so all I had to do was fry it in plenty of hot oil. This time I actually waited long enough for the pan to heat up so none of the breading stuck to the pan. It looks pretty good but it tasted even better. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chicken Curry

Does it look a little sickly yellow? Once I put the coconut milk in, the colour started coming out of the green peppers and colouring the sauce, not a pretty colour either. The coconut milk was watery and thin, translucent instead of opaque. I thought I left all the solids in the can. Nope. It was a can of Western Family Organic Coconut Milk I bought hoping it would at least be acceptable.  I was sorely disappointed. I don't know why, I can buy a can of good quality coconut milk for $1.49 so why can't WF put one out for $2.99?

I sweated an onion then added the chicken cubed and coated with flour. Salt on top and brown the chicken all over. I sprinkled about two teaspoons of curry powder over the chicken. Then I added the celery, peppers and after a minute, coconut milk. I reduced the sauce but it was still sickly looking. It tasted ok which was good enough at this point. I plated it with rice made with salt, olive oil and lemon juice.

The salad was fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden with black olives, red onion and feta cheese from the store. 


1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar (or any vinegar)
black pepper

The meal had potential but the anaemic coconut milk spoiled it for me. I know not to buy that brand. Why did I do it? Why? 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lemon Sole en Papillote

I was so busy trying the dish I forgot to photograph it. I only had celery, onion, carrot and dill fresh. So I used them and dried thyme and fresh chives. Even though I didn't use all the ingredients in Ramsay's recipe, it was still the best sole I've ever made.

You owe it to yourselves to try this!


Fern made the sauce from garden tomatoes and it was wonderful. It has peppers and from the garden as well but I'm not sure all the ingredients he put in it. In any case, home made sauce from vine ripened garden tomatoes is far better than ready-made.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Palomino Pork Cutlet

I left for the store to get some pork cutlets for dinner. In a rare coincidence, Save On had some in a package small enough that two adults and two children (the dogs) could eat. I didn't have the pan quite hot enough so the coating stuck to the pan a little, hence palomino cutlet. There was still sufficient coating on the white patch to give crunch and flavour so it wasn't as bad as it looks. I paired that with mashed potatoes and corn. Both had salt and butter and the potatoes had a little milk.

Greek Salad

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
black pepper
1/4 inch slice red onion
2 tomatoes
4 inch length English cucumber
black olives (I buy pitted, cheap brands are awful)
feta cheese

English cucumbers have sweet skin so they don't have to be peeled. I often take a potato peeler and take three strips off the cucumber for appearance. It looks nice if you have the time. Whip up the vinaigrette and toss everything in it.

The cutlet was excellent as usual. It pains me a little to cook what someone else prepared, but until I can do better, it will have to do. I cut down my potato portion to help keep weight off. I used frozen corn because a) I had some b) $.79/cob is too much.

The fresh cucumber and tomatoes from the garden made the salad a highlight. Overall, I won't aim for palomino pork but won't cry if I end up with it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bacon Fuzzy Chciken

I don't know why but my camera didn't want to auto focus correctly this time, hence blurred photo and fuzzy title. The boneless chicken was salted then shaken in a plastic bag with 60/40% onion powder/flour. I brushed the entire breast with oil and put it off the heat in the centre of the BBQ. I didn't turn it over half way through and that was a mistake. So after 15 minutes turn the breasts over. Then cook at 450-500ºF for 25-30 minutes total cooking time.

Simple new potatoes with butter, salt and chives. The vegetables on the breast were green pepper, mushroom and bacon.  I finely diced a strip of bacon and fried it crisp. Then I fried the mushrooms in the bacon fat and added the green pepper. Once the pepper had softened a bit I sprinkled a little flour over all, turned it over and cooked the flour taste off. Then I added a splash of beef stock, salt and pepper, tossed to coat and served it over the chicken.

Greek Salad

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Whisk then add:
two tomatoes diced
4 inches cucumber sliced and diced
1 slice red onion finely diced
black olives
feta cheese
black pepper

I was proud of this plate, it looked good. Everything on the plate belonged there. If I had grill marks on the chicken so it looked better I would have plated the chicken on top of the vegetables. As it was this looked better than my usual plate. I'm finally getting out of the suburbs with my plating. The secret was choosing the chicken coating to go with the vegetable medley. Onion was missing from the vegetables but it was on the chicken so the meat and vegetables together tasted better than either alone.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pan Fried Cod

I picked up a nice piece of cod at Save On. Fern didn't want fish and chips so I pan fried it.  First I salted the fish then ground a little fresh mixed pepper and finally some dried thyme.  I dusted the seasoned cod with flour and put it in a pan with plenty of hot oil The potatoes were just boiled and served with butter, salt and fresh chives. Fresh carrots steamed with frozen peas and finished with butter, salt and pepper. 

I put a few drops of lemon juice beside the fish and called Fern for dinner. The potatoes were really good, glad I bought more.  The vegetables were nice but frozen peas will never impress anyone. I under cooked the fish a little, Fern's piece was a little thicker so I think that's why. Mine seemed cooked through to me. The flavour was a bit weak.  I didn't put enough thyme on and it really needed something else, fresh garlic maybe or onion powder. Cod by itself, while good, is a bit boring. A sprig each of fresh thyme and rosemary would have been better too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicken, Greek Salad and bad borsht

First the borscht. Kevin sent some beets over from his garden and I finally made soup.  I diced the beets and just covered them with beef stock and brought them to a boil.  While they were cooking I added a little salt and some paprika to perk it up a bit.  That was a mistake. I don't think I used too much paprika so, beets and paprika must not taste good together. I couldn't finish mine and told Fern not to try his. It had a bitter unpleasant taste. Live and learn.  I put black pepper on grey cod the first time I tried it. That was really terrible. It's amazing to me that a small amount of the wrong thing can completely ruin an otherwise wonderful dish.

The chicken was coated with Shake'n Bake which should have had oil sprayed on the skinless breasts so they would brown. I put them off the heat in the BBQ for 25 minutes. If I had turned them over half way, they would have browned nicely all around. They were tasty if not browned to perfection. New potatoes with fresh butter and salt, hard to beat. The Greek salad was  tasty and quickly washed the beets off my palate. All in all, a satisfying meal.

Pork Schnitzel with Greek Salad

Again I was impressed with the flavour Save On manages to coat these pork cutlets in.  All I had to do here was boil potatoes and corn, fry a piece of meat and make a salad. All I did was add butter and salt to the corn and potatoes on the plate.  The salad was simply tomatoes and cucumber with black olives and feta cheese. A vinaigrette of olive/canola oil, raspberry vinegar, salt and black pepper perked it up. 

So far I haven't managed to teach Storm, the younger dog, to eat corn on the cob. Eliot, the elder, has always been able to do it. It's really quite funny to watch him biting a couple of rows of corn off the cob, exactly like we do. It all tasted terrific too, so I didn't feed the dogs too much off my plate because there was an extra cutlet for them to share after we finish. Lucky dogs!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chicken and Pepper Stir Fry

More peppers ready in the garden so I wanted to use as many as possible. This dish took two bell peppers and a pasillo pepper. In canola oil with a few drops of sesame I seared some sliced mushrooms then browned the chicken which was dusted with a little flour and removed all from the pan.  I sweated a diced onion and carrot. Next I added the peppers. Then mushrooms and meat back in the pan.  A few drops of oyster sauce, a small splash of beef stock and some soy sauce. When the peppers were cooked I plated it all on basmati rice. 

I practically inhaled mine, I was really hungry. All the flavour was there but the pasillo pepper wasn't hot and I wanted a little heat. The dish was a tasty dish without so I won't beat myself up over it. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pork Souvlaki

I still can't season pork as well as Mitchell's souvlaki so I can't claim credit for the delicious tasting meat. I have tried the Gourmet Souvlaki products from Safeway and Save On Foods and  The rice and veggies are mine though! The basmati rice was cooked with two teaspoons of olive oil, salt and a splash of lemon juice. A few drops will provide acid that brings out the flavour of the rice without making it taste of lemon.

The vegetables were carrots and bok choy. I did get the soy sauce out but remembered my last foray into Greek/Chinese fusion cooking and quickly put the soy sauce away. I par cooked the carrots in the microwave then drained them. I put some olive oil and a little sesame oil in the pan and added celery seeds, followed not quite quickly enough  by the carrots and bok choy.  The seeds seemed to burn off in a few seconds and didn't add significantly to the flavour. Next time I'll put the seeds on the vegetables in the pan. I also added a little salt and pepper. The sesame oil didn't clash with the cooked olive oil flavour but they didn't enhance each other either so next time keep the sesame oil and soy sauce in the cupboard unless I'm making Asian style food.

I BBQ'd the pork till it was firm. It doesn't have to be burnt black, just cooked till it's firm and it's cooked through. Bok choy works in this meal but it needs different seasoning than it usually receives. It's a good winter vegetable so I'm going to experiment with it some more. Fern gets tired of broccoli pretty fast and frozen vegetables just don't cut it anymore.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Paprika Chicken On Tomato Puree

There is probably a fancy name for this dish but I have no idea what it might be. I seasoned the chicken breast with salt and mixed pepper then coated it with paprika and finally flour over top so it would brown.  Then I brushed the whole thing with olive oil and put it on the BBQ, off the heat, to roast for 25 minutes at about 400-500ºF.

Basmati rice with salt, olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Green peas done in  the microwave and butter-nut squash. I coated the squash inside with butter, salt and brown sugar then put in the microwave.  Once the microwave had done it's thing I put the squash in the BBQ to finish cooking with the chicken.

Fern made tomato sauce from his garden which had, onion, celery, tomato and several kinds of peppers. I added half a cup of grated cheddar to a cup of Fern's tomato sauce and stirred it in. Then I put it in the microwave for a minute to heat up. I plated the chicken on top of the sauce which looked quite tasty now that I see it in the photo.

One way to judge a meal is to listen to how much conversation there is while eating. When the food is really good, there's no talking, just eating. There was no talking here except to tell Fern how good his tomato sauce was. Fern didn't like his squash, he usually doesn't, but I thought it was terrific!

This was a really good meal and I think my first with chicken and tomato sauce. I'll definitely use this combination again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Basil Snapper

I felt like fish and when I got to Save On they had snapper on special.  So I bought a pack and headed for the vegetables. Broccoli is really expensive for some reason but bok choy is cheap! I was planning rice so it should work. I headed home.

I added salt, olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice to the rice. Not enough to make it lemony, just enough acid to bring out the flavour. Into the microwave and hit the Rice button, a moisture sensor determines when it's done and white rice comes out perfect every time. Brown rice, not so much.

I boned the snapper and seasoned it well with salt and pepper. I went next door and stole some fresh basil from their garden. I laid the fish in plenty of hot oil in a frying pan and laid the basil on top. Then I turned to the bok choy. I diced it up with a stick of celery and put it all in a big frying pan with canola oil and a bit of sesame oil.  It needed some liquid to get it cooking so I gave it a few drops of rice wine vinegar. Not enough. No stock open. Soy Sauce! That did the trick and everything started to soften. I wondered how the soy sauce would pair with the floral taste of basil but hoped they would be happy together. 

The snapper had taken on a delicate flavour from the basil that contrasted nicely with the salty soy sauce on the bok choy. I'm not sure a chef would combine the flavours, but for a home cook trying to find new vegetables, it worked, once. Next time I'll have stock open and ready and I'll use olive oil and hope I can Mediterraneanize the bok choy. It's a type of cabbage so it should travel. I'd put fresh basil on the fish while it's cooking again. That flavour is really nice.

Another Attempt at Bread

I wanted to try bread again so I set out these ingredients:

1 cup + 1 tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup cold water

I added a bit too much water and the dough was a bit too sticky. I kneaded it for 5 minutes and the texture felt soft so I was hopeful I wouldn't end up with another hockey puck. My biggest problem beside toughness was density. I was getting it too hot and killing the yeast instead of rising it.  I warmed the oven then shut it off so it was just slightly warmed inside. That seamed to work fairly well, it rose enough, could have done a bit more. 

We ate half the loaf so that's the best so far. I need to get the water right and the kneading long enough.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I had too many eggs and didn't feel like quiche, what to do? Lemon Meringue Pie uses lots of eggs, but I've never made one and it looks difficult. I went looking for a good recipe. The Food Network is the first place I look, they usually have a good recipe for whatever.

I chose Anna Olson's Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. I followed all the directions including making dough in the food processor. I've tried Food Processor dough before and it didn't work for me but I followed her directions and it at least came together into some kind of dough.  

I followed all the rest of the directions but I think my meringue should have been beaten a bit longer. It was good enough for a first try. I burnt the rim of crust because I didn't turn the foil over the edge while the centre cooked under foil and beans. The crust was tough, not flaky. It was a solid layer. I probably over processed the butter before adding the liquid. I'll try one more time, later.

This pie is not as good as Fern's mother's, close but not quite there. Fix the crust and Fern said the texture of the lemon filling was too eggy. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean but I'll pay attention to the texture next time. Other than those minor flaws the pie was terrific. Just enough lemony goodness and not too sweet. The most important lesson: Lemon pie is unbelievably easy to make.