Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pork Cutlet on Basil Garlic Penne

The sauce I made for the pizza the other day ended it's life on penne pasta tonight. I also added the left over sliced mushrooms and green pepper. I left out the pineapple chunks. Left over cheddar cheese that was grated for sandwiches. I put the cutlet under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese while the vegetables were finishing. This was a nice way to use up left over sauce and a new way to serve an old favourite.

Cajun Chicken with Asparagus and Hollandaise

My plating is getting a lot better! I salted and coated the chicken breasts with Cajun spice from Save On bulk spice bins. I brushed olive oil all over them and put them on the BBQ for 25 minutes. I cook them on medium low heat and take the smaller ones off the heat during cooking so they roast without drying out. 

The asparagus I snapped the stems off and steamed them. Asparagus will snap where it changes from stringy to edible. The basmati rice was cooked with salt, several drops lemon juice and olive oil. When it was cooked I added lemon rind.


2 egg yolks
juice of half a lemon
tsp water
1/4 cup butter

Melt butter but don't get it hot. Slowly add butter to the egg yolk while whisking them so all the butter is taken up by the yolk. Add a pinch of salt. Add the lemon juice and water.  Dip a spoon in and see if the balance is correct. If it's too acid add salt. If it's too bland add lemon juice, too thick, add water. Cook over medium heat while whisking. It's done when it's steaming.

This was my best batch so far. The chicken was perfectly cooked, the asparagus had just the right amount of crunch. The hollandaise was perfect and the rice had plenty of flavour too. I even managed to sprinkle some fresh parsley over top. It was every bit as good as it looks and then some.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I was so eager to dive into it that I forgot to photograph my plate. The last lonely piece.

I bought a crust from Mitchell's meat counter, you have to ask for them.  
1/2 cup tomato sauce with garlic, red onion, fresh basil, 1/4 tsp flour
150gm sliced ham 
1/4 cup pineapple chunks drained
1 green pepper sliced into rings
1 slice red onion in rings
6 mushrooms sliced
400gm mozzarella cheese grated

I set my pizza crust on parchment on a pizza peel. My pizza stone was in the oven at 450F. First I brushed the crust with olive oil then tomato sauce. All the other ingredients in order and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. I should have used the broiler, would have done a better job. As it was it was pretty good. I could taste a bit of soda in the crust so if I have time to make my own crust from scratch, I'll try it next time.

Over all, it was a good pizza.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pork Cutlet with Apple Sauce

Another easy meal, I think I'm getting lazy. Mashed potatoes finished with butter, milk and salt. The vegetables were steamed, cooled in cold water and reheated in olive oil with a little salt. The cutlet is from Mitchell's and all I did was lay it in a frying pan.  Plain old apple sauce right out of a jar.

I was standing in the kitchen with nothing to do but watch meat fry. So I got out butter for a cake or cookies after dinner, that was as far as I got. But at least the butter will be soft when I'm ready to attack the kitchen again.  I think a vanilla cake with vanilla bean in it. Some kind of jam filling. I hope I have some jam!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cajun Chicken with Asparagus and Hollandaise in One Paragraph

This meal tastes so good and is so easy I'd do it once a week if asparagus was available all year. Lemon Basmati rice, just add salt, few drops lemon juice and olive oil to the water and cook.  The chicken was simply salted and sprinkled with cajun seasoning. I brushed it with oil and put it on the BBQ. I take the breasts off the heat for half the time so they don't scorch and dry out, but roast nicely for about 25 minutes total cooking time. The asparagus, break the stems off, discard and put tips in the steamer. I have an asparagus steamer which works amazingly well. The 5 times a year I have asparagus....nah, I like the pot. Hollandaise, put 2 egg yolks in small sauce pot. Melt 1/4 cup, or a little more, butter but don't get it hot. Whisk the butter into the egg yolk a little at a time so it doesn't break.  If it breaks, whisk it into another egg yolk, slowly this time. When it's all taken up add the juice of half a lemon. A pinch of salt. A teaspoon of water. Whisk and heat over medium low heat. If it's too thick add a little water. If it's too acid add a little salt.

Get free run or free range meat. Muscle gets flavour from being worked so animals grown in boxes, like commercial chickens, have flavourless meat.

Salisbury Steak with Crimini Mushrooms

This is about the only way I can get Fern to eat beef. The fat burns off in the BBQ so he finds it acceptable. Beef tenderloin would also be acceptable but this makes the mortgage payment easier. The broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil.  I over cooked it just a bit but it still tasted good and had the memory of a crunch.

Under all that gravy is mashed potatoes finished with salt, butter and milk. To the beef burger I added salt, black pepper, handful bread crumbs, 2 cloves garlic finely diced. I kneaded it for a minute to thoroughly mix and separated the 500gms beef into 3 meat patties. I make them thinner in the centre so they will be flat when they cook and puff up. I gave them about 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. 

In a frying pan I cooked 4 pieces of back or Canadian bacon. I removed them from the pan and added six sliced crimini mushrooms. I seared them and took them from the pan.  A tablespoon of butter went in the pan and half a tablespoon of flour.  Next I added a packet of Bovril beef stock (a good brand tastes better). Cook the flour taste off in the butter then remove from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time so it doesn't lump. I used about a cup of milk so it could cook down a bit.  I added the mushrooms and bacon back in and added a few drops Worcestershire Sauce. A tablespoon of tomato ketchup, which was twice what it needed. I cooked that down a bit and plated the sauce over the meat and potatoes.

I like this meal, it's not fancy but it tastes good and isn't too heavy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

New Baby Chicks! Back Yard Chickens

These are 5 Araucana chicks that will lay green eggs when they mature.  They will start laying about the end of September. They are 1-2 days old. They get visibly bigger and appearance changes every day as their feathers grow in. They are under a heat lamp until they have enough feathers to stay warm on their own. That white one is already getting up on the edge of the bin. Chickens are not smart but they are persistent so they will eventually get out if they can.

Back yard chickens are really great. They keep the compost pile in good shape and they work the ground in the gardens. They lay about 6 eggs per week and they are social so you need at least two. A dozen eggs a week is probably enough for a small family. It costs about $4 per month to keep two laying chickens producing so they are a real money saver.

Children raised around farm animals have stronger immune systems and fewer allergies. In an emergency when food delivery is interrupted, chickens keep laying, turning insects into eggs. I don't name my chickens, they are just 'the girls'. They live a comfortable life, but they are farm animals producing food for me. 

Pork Chops with (disappointing) Crispy Spring Rolls

I bought a pack of spring rolls on special and cooked them up as a first course just to try them out. Glad I did! They were quite awful. If I had relied on them as a major component it would have been a very sorry meal. That gives me an idea, I have a deep fryer and I have thumbs so I can roll things up myself. One day soon I'll try to make spring rolls from scratch. probably.

The actual meal consisted of mustard dill pork loin chop, mashed potatoes and snow peas with carrots. Mashed potatoes were boiled with salt and mashed with milk, butter and salt. The carrots and peas were steamed, cooled quickly and reheated in olive oil.  They were really good this way..

I salted and brushed mustard powder over the chops then sprinkled dried dill over top and a little flour on top of that.  The flour will brown where the herbs would scorch. 

The pork was good but not outstanding so it got lost in the disappointment of the Crispy Blech Rolls.
Fern did comment on the vegetables being particularly good so it wasn't a complete let down.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kevin Gifts Us a Fresh Trout!

Our good friend Kevin went fishing yesterday and caught several trout so he gave us one.  Asparagus was on sale so Hollandaise and rice were called for. I cooked the rice with salt, olive oil and lemon juice. The asparagus was steamed. 

The trout was cleaned, scaled and the fins cut off. I salted it all over, it needed more. A bit of black pepper in the cavity and sprigs of rosemary, chives and bay leaves. I whisked up some olive oil and lemon juice and coated the fish with that then wrapped it up in double foil and put it on the BBQ for 45 minutes. I had set it off the heat so it wouldn't scorch on the bottom. Unfortunately the fish was barely cooked because there wasn't enough heat circulating around the foil. With the BBQ burners on low the food needs to be over the burners to cook properly. I put the fish in the centre, between the end burners and it just didn't get enough heat under it. It was just cooked, it could have stood another 5 or 10 minutes. The temperature in the BBQ was at least 400F so it was hot enough 

One Minute Hollandaise

Separate an egg yolk. 1/4 cup butter melted but not hot. Slowly whisk the butter into the yolk.  When it's all taken up add some lemon juice and a few drops of water.  Put on medium heat and add lemon juice till it tastes lemony. Add a pinch of salt.  Thin with a little water and lemon juice. Small amounts of liquid can make a big difference so be careful not to turn it to soup.

It was all lemony and delicious. I've got to learn to fish.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Raisin Scones or Biscuits in America

A few weeks back I bought a scone from Mitchell's and was astounded at how good it tasted. Their baking is always good but everyone has a stupendous day once in a while. I haven't seen them again since so it might have been just lucky that I got the spectacular batch. That seeded biscuits in my mind so last night, armed with half a cup of butter I forgot to make into cookies, I made a batch.

Preheat oven to 325F

Raisin Scone or Biscuit in the US

1/2 cup soft butter forgotten about all day
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder - yes 4
1/2 cup raisins or two handfuls or that looks like enough
1/2 cup milk at least

Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Use pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until about 1/8-1/4 inch grained mixture is obtained. Add the raisins. Make a well in the centre and add most of the milk. With a fork or your fingers, work the flour into the milk. Add more milk until it forms slightly sticky balls. Gather the dough into a ball and place on floured surface. Flour the top and roll down to 1 inch thick. Cut out 2 inch rounds or squares if you don't have cookie cutters. Reform and re-roll the dough until it's all used up. Makes about 6 to 8 scones. I didn't do this but they would have been considerably better if I had brushed the top with butter before putting in the oven. So do that and bake them on parchment for 25-30 minutes on a ceramic cookie sheet or 15-20 minutes on a metal one. 

Scones are a bit dry so they need butter and something like honey would be nice too. Sugar contains quite a bit of water so it might make them less dry to use just a little sugar, even though they should be savoury. I might try that next time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Not a TV Dinner

This looks disturbingly like a TV dinner but it is in fact Mailale Parmesan. Those are snap peas steamed and finished in olive oil and garlic. Mashed potatoes to complete the plate. That is home made tomato sauce, the last of the summers bounty. I started with a breaded pork cutlet at Mitchell's. They were on sale so that was a nice gift. All I did was fry the cutlets, heat the sauce, cover with grated parmesan and put in the broiler.

The mashed were boiled, drained, mashed and finished with butter, milk and salt.

The snap peas were really good. They were stringless so I just nipped the tips off both ends and steamed them then dunked them in cold water to stop cooking. Emptied water from the steamer, added olive oil, garlic and salt, heat to medium low. I put the peas in the pot to reheat when the pork went under the broiler. The whole thing took under 50 minutes to put together. Much less to eat. Fern asked for this again before he finished eating. 

I suppose pasta might make a more traditional starch but the potato was quite happy on the plate.

Cajun Chicken with Back Bacon Brussels Sprouts

An easy meal and it's even a decent looking plate. Chef Dave explained how he got his chicken so tasty but I didn't have time because I was building kitchen cabinets and shelves. I salted and seasoned the chicken breasts with Cajun spice, then brushed them with oil and put them on a hot BBQ. I seared them on both sides for a couple of minutes then turned the heat down and let them roast over low heat for 25 minutes.

The rice is Basmati with salt, teaspoon olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. My microwave has a moisture sensor in it so it knows exactly when white rice is perfect, every time. For vegetables it knows when they are overdone and mushy. No technology is perfect.

I steamed the sprouts then when they were almost done, immersed in cold water to stop cooking. I got a frying pan hot and added a bit of oil and two diced slices of Back (Canadian) Bacon. I let that sear for a minute while I gathered a thinly sliced onion and added it to the pan. More canola oil to cook off the water in the onion and caramelize the sugars in it. When the onions had some nice colour I added the drained sprouts and kept them moving in the pan. A bit more olive oil to keep the pan from drying out. A pinch of salt over the sprouts and when they are hot they are ready.

I brought the breasts in from the BBQ and let them sit for a minute to rest. If you cut meat right off the heat, all the moisture will escape as steam and the meat will be dry. Plate the sliced breasts over the Basmati rice and add the sprouts on the side.

The usual chicken, good but not Michelin star. The sprouts were the star on this plate. They had great flavour and my treatment brought out their best. Where I bought these sprouts probably made all the difference. Sprouts from Save On Foods or Safeway never have great flavour like these did. They were locally sourced and the same price as the chain stores. Lesson: a small local grocer will source the best of local produce so it's fresh and full of flavour. Chain stores are chained to their suppliers.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eat Out Out Occasionally

We went to the Laughing Oyster for dinner, our table reflected in the window. It was Chef Dave's Sunday Night Family Buffet which is the affordable option for spring and fall. I prefer the buffet because menu items are designed to be cooked and assembled quickly when the restaurant is busy. They tend to be simpler dishes that could conceivably be made by a home cook. The buffet was lovingly brought to life over the course of the day and it has the flavours I can't develop easily at home. I never have room for everything offered.

Fern's second helping with Red Snapper Taco currently under the knife. Also chicken and mushroom gravy, slow roasted ham with apple sauce and Dijon mustard, cooked cabbage beside zucchini and carrots. These were all new flavours and it was all excellent. Even the cabbage tasted really good. 

It's challenging to not over eat at Dave's buffet.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pork Cutlet with Apple Sauce, Broccoli and Fresh Cut Fries

Every once in a while I feel like getting the deep fryer out and tonight was one.  I got out the Star Frit french fry cutter, which still works after ten meals, (the moving parts are your hands) and quickly dispatched a couple of potatoes each and one for the dog because he's going to get it anyway.

I put the broccoli in the steamer early, got it cooked and cooled down. That made it easier to get the fries and pork cooked. I did the cutlets in a large frying pan with plenty of oil.  The apple sauce was right out of a jar. The cutlets were ready first so I put them on the plates in the oven and started the broccoli warming up in olive oil and black pepper. The fries were done in two batches 3 minutes at 325F then 3 minutes at 375F. I used canola oil in the fryer and I missed the nutty flavour of the rice bran oil. So when it needs more oil I'll add rice bran oil to help the flavour.

Everything was perfect this time. The broccoli was hot and had a slight crunch. The fries were crisp but not dry. The pork wasn't cooked to death. Overall, a successful meal. The quality of meat we're eating now is great and it doesn't cost more than the chain stores. The fat is cut off and the price is a little higher but it's actually cheaper at the till because you're buying only solid protein, not a bunch of fat. So give your local butcher and try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Garlic Lemon and Black Pepper Chicken with Rice and Greek Salad

I was adding the deck planters to the watering system today. I'm pooped. I managed to marinate the chicken for half an hour. It helped.


1 tbsp ground garlic
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice

I've been using Real Lemon and it really isn't doing the trick. The lemon barely came through. The garlic and black pepper was a nice change from the Cajun spice I've been over using. I put soy sauce on my rice and I slopped it on the plate a bit. It was a nice entre despite it's simplicity.

Greek Salad

2 tomatoes 
1/2 english cucumber
1 slice red onion, I used white
handful of black olives
feta cheese to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Toss and knosh

Monday, April 6, 2015

Quick Pork Tenderloin

I was working in the garage all afternoon. Both kayaks are now hanging off the wall and I have room to make cabinet doors for the new kitchen. I picked up a pork tenderloin at Mitchell's and deliberately didn't marinate it in anything. I seasoned it with salt and pepper then mixed up a small bowl of

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp mustard powder
few drops tabasco sauce
few drops fish sauce

Stir it up and brush it all over the meat then put the meat on the hot BBQ under medium high heat. Cook till the meat is firm or almost firm if you want a tiny bit of pink in the middle. 

One yellow flesh potato and several new potatoes each, I didn't have enough small new potatoes for both of us. Fresh carrots and broccoli steamed, then cooled under water and reheated in olive oil and salt. The Greek salad was left over from the other day, I just added another tomato, tossed and served it. It was better the first day.

I really liked the pork this way. It hinted at Asia but stayed comfortably close to home. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pork Souvlaki on Lemon Dill Rice with Greek Salad

Pork Souvlaki from Mitchell's. It tastes great and it's easy. Put it on the BBQ and cook till firm. The rice I did in the microwave with olive oil, salt, lemon juice and dried dill. The dill didn't come through unfortunately but the rice was great none the less. 

Greek Salad

1 cup diced English cucumber skins on
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion - I used spring onions this time to use them up
1/2 cup black olives - pitted ones save your teeth
1/2 cup feta cheese - I use local cow feta
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar - or whatever you have

Toss and serve. One of my favourite salads.

Easy Banana Bread

I've always liked Banana Bread and this recipe is the best I've found so far. Preheat oven to 350ºF

Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas - mashed
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour

Mash bananas, egg, melted butter and Vanilla together.  Add the salt, sugar and mix. Finally add the flour and baking soda. Mix and pour into parchment lined bread pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, use a skewer to poke the centre right to the bottom. When it comes out clean it's done. I turned the heat down to 325º after 65 minutes to prevent over browning. It cooked 75 minutes altogether. The bread comes out heavy, moist and delicious.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cajun Chicken with Broccoflower and Hollandaise Sauce

I bought an extra breast because they were small, hence the extra piece, from Mitchell's in Cranberry. I seasoned them with salt and Cajun Seasoning (bulk bin at Save On). The broccoflower was being cleared out, had a few spots I cut off but it was fine otherwise. I steamed the broccoflower, ran under cold water to stop cooking then reheated them in olive oil.

Basmati rice with a few drops lemon juice, teaspoon olive oil and salt. 

Practically Instant Hollandaise

1 egg yolk
1/4-1/3 cup butter melted, not hot - 20 seconds in microwave
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cold water
pinch salt

In a sauce pot whisk the butter into the egg yolk a teaspoon at a time. If you add too much butter at once the sauce will break. When all the butter is taken up add half the lemon juice water mix. Whisk. It should be thinner than it needs to be so it can thicken as it cooks. If it curdles, don't worry that melts out when you cook it. More liquid can be added while it's cooking. To cook it use an induction burner or pot of boiling water and keep whisking till it steams. If it's too thick add a bit of lemon mix. Add salt and serve.

Hollandaise on anything I'd probably like but it goes particularly well here. The sauce tempers the heat in the Cajun so it works well all around. That broccoflower was particularly good.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Breaded Pork Cutlet

The day after my birthday dinner, not a bad effort considering my tender head. I fried the cutlets, boiled the potatoes and steamed the broccoli. The potatoes were finished with salt and butter. The broccoli was steamed, cooled under running water, then reheated in olive oil and salt. Ordinary apple sauce for the condiment.  It all tasted great too!