Tuesday, June 30, 2015

5 Spice Chicken

In another departure from Cajun I got out the Chinese 5 Spice powder and salted and seasoned the breasts with it. I then brushed the breasts with olive oil and BBQ'd them for 20 minutes or so over medium heat. The plate is filled out with new potatoes boiled and buttered and a stir fry of onion, celery, carrot and green pepper.

I browned the diced onion before adding the green pepper, so with soy sauce and a few drops fish sauce it looks rather dark but the taste is amazing. Once the dirty sock smell cooks off the fish sauce it leaves a wonderful flavour behind.

Oatmeal Date Cookies

I never thought to try dates in oatmeal cookies because date squares are the go to dish for oatmeal and dates. Just for fun I decided to try them in cookies. I used the oatmeal cookie recipe from Joy of Cooking and just added over half a cup of chopped pitted dates. A revelation! Light years better than raisins!

Oatmeal Date Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup or more chopped seedless dates

Cream butter, brown and white sugar together. Add wet ingredients, combine. Add flour, salt, baking powder and soda, combine. Add oatmeal and finally dates, combine.

Drop 2 inches apart on parchment covered cookie sheets and bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. I have two ceramic cookie sheets that Fern found at the second hand store for $5 and $3 respectively. They are $100 new. They make baking take longer but give far better results.  If you find one, snap it up, you'll be glad you did. Also I swapped the sheets up and down and front to back  halfway through so everything would cook evenly. I can't wait till I get a convection oven. The cookies should be uniformly browned so they have a nice snap when you bite them.

These taste so good I really don't know why they aren't more common.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rib Steak

Rib steak from Mitchell's. It was tough. I think it was Australian beef. Fern wasn't at all happy. He broke a tooth, which wasn't the steaks fault, but it didn't help the situation either. Potatoes with salt and butter, broccoli steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil. 

The salad was lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery with salt and pepper
The vinaigrette was 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp canola oil, 2 tsp red wine vinegar and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce.

Pork Cutlet

Pork cutlets from Mitchell's fried in olive and canola oil. New potatoes finished with butter and fresh carrots with frozen peas also with butter. I was out of apple sauce so I recruited cranberry sauce instead. It doesn't go at all, don't try it. Otherwise it was a wonderful plate of food. The salad was another story.

I was given a gift box of infused olive oils and a range of balsamic vinegars. The first one I tried was Tuscan Herb infused olive oil. I mixed it with red balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, then tasted it. I thought it was a hint of garlic that I tasted so I tossed the salad with it. When it came to eating the salad after a few bites that pleasant flavour was becoming unpleasant. About the third bite I said, "This tastes like truffle oil!" It was so unpleasant I threw away my salad. First time I've ever done that!

Truffle oil is not a food, it's a bad marketing gimmick.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thyme and Rosemary Red Snapper with New Potatoes, Broccoli and Greek Salad

Red Snapper fresh at Mitchell's today. I finally found some live thyme for the garden and after Fern planted it, grabbed a few sprigs for the fish. I also crushed some rosemary leaves and scattered them on the fish. Otherwise it just had salt and mixed pepper for seasoning. I simply laid the herbs on the fish while it fried.

The new potatoes were boiled and finished with butter and salt. Fern said he likes pepper on his potatoes. I don't so he'll have to do it himself.

The broccoli was steamed and cooled quickly while still crisp, then reheated in olive oil and salt.

Greek Salad

4 roma tomatoes diced
2 inches English cucumber diced
handful black olives - pitted are nicer to eat 
chunk of cow feta - crumble into bowl
diced red onion or chives would have been nice - ran out of time
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt, pepper

Toss and serve.

The fish was really good. So nice to not taste hot for a change.

Cajun Chicken with Spring Garden Salad

We had a big lunch late in the day so a lighter dinner was in order. Chicken breast salted and dusted with Cajun spice mix. Brush with olive oil and put on the BBQ over medium flame for 20 minutes. Thicker breasts will take up to 30 minutes. Bone in, 45 minutes. Ordinary Basmati rice with salt, olive oil and a few drops rice wine vinegar.  I put a little soy sauce on my rice, that's the brown spot in the middle. 

Fern got a bag of spring mix garden salad so all I had to do was mix a vinaigrette and toss the salad. First I diced up a tomato and a stalk of celery and added that.

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp hot horseradish
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet pickle relish
1/2 salt
mixed pepper

Yesterday Fern said he would like more flavour in the vinaigrette so that's why I added the horseradish and mustard. I tasted that and it was interesting but bitter. I added a teaspoon of pickle relish which has lots of sugar in it to sweeten the vinaigrette. I tasted that and it was delicious, so I tossed the salad in it. The whole meal was quite good despite it's simplicity. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prawns and Penne Pasta with Spinach Iceberg Salad

Dice and sweat an onion. Add diced celery stick. Add peeled prawns. get colour on both sides of prawns then remove from pan.  Add 16oz can tomato sauce. Simmer. Add salt and black pepper. 

Boil your favourite pasta, we like penne for this dish. Don't forget to salt the pasta water. 3 minutes before pasta is ready add the prawns back to the tomato sauce to finish cooking. Chop up some basil and throw it in.

Add cooked pasta to tomato sauce and toss. Plate with fresh grated parmesan on top.  

Tear up a stalk of spinach and a few leaves of iceberg lettuce. Dice up a tomato and slice a couple of inches of cucumber.  

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
mixed pepper

Whisk and toss the salad in it. The large salad plate is much more attractive than a bowl. 

A nice looking but very easy meal.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cajun Chicken under Honey Mustard Corn Sauce

This meal sprang from the realization that I have time to make a sauce when everything is cooking. I started out just doing Cajun chicken, rice and broccoli but just had to try a little more.  The rice just had olive oil, salt and lemon juice in it. The broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil. The Cajun chicken was seasoned, brushed with olive oil and roasted on the BBQ. I cook it over medium to medium high heat for 5 to 10 minutes turning once then off medium low heat for 10 minutes till done. Cooking time depends on thickness so many breasts take 25-30 minutes.

While all that was cooking I put a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a quarter cup of honey plus the juice from half a lemon and a pinch of salt in a small sauce pot and got it bubbling. I poured the honey mustard sauce, corn and all, over the breast. Fern said I should have basted the chicken with it while it was cooking. Basting it probably would have been better but I only made the sauce because the chicken was taking care of itself.

I'd make this again, a little more mustard, a little less honey.

Steak, mashed potatoes and spinach, mushroom and celery salad

I sliced up about eight mushrooms. I held stems of spinach and picked all the leaves off till I had enough for salad for two. Then I washed them and spun them in the salad spinner. Sliced a stalk of celery thinly. 

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar or malt or cider or red or lemon juice ...
1/2 tsp salt
mixed pepper

Whisk the vinaigrette and quickly toss the spinach in it to coat. Then throw enough mushrooms into the salad to look good and add the celery. Toss well to coat everything.

The mushrooms were fried in olive oil on the induction burner. The steak was BBQ'd for 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides. I didn't get to the grill on time each time and the steaks were over done. If I had mis en place I wouldn't have well done them.

There was still a little pink in the middle so it wasn't that bad. These Australian beef steaks were good but next time I'll buy the more expensive Canadian. I think it does taste better. The salad was really nice too. I put the celery in for Fern but it does give a nice highlight.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Snapper and an Artichoke from the Garden!

We ate the artichoke first which meant the fish was cold when we got to it. I didn't realize how long it takes to eat an artichoke. You could almost have a bottle of wine over it, then cook dinner. As it was I could have taken two more rows of leaves off the artichoke and discarded them. This time I boiled them and it worked much better, they were cooked. So were all the black aphids. I washed and rinsed those artichokes till nothing else came out but it wasn't enough. Next time I'll wash them in dish detergent and baking soda. Chemical weapons ought to do it. I chopped up fresh garlic, added it to butter and cooked it just a minute on the induction burner. Next time Fern wants a vinaigrette to dip it in. That might be easier than getting a pot hot.

The fish was salted and seasoned with Cajun spice mix then fried in olive/canola oil. The new potatoes were boiled and finished with butter and salt. The corn was frozen, microwaved, finished with salt, butter and love.

It would have been fantastic if it had been hot. I could have microwaved the plate but that dries out the fish, turns potatoes to mush and the corn never seems to change much no matter what you do to it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pork Cutlet with Greek Salad

I worked on the basement lighting all afternoon. It's much better now. So dinner had to be easy and quick. Breaded cutlets from Mitchell's taste good and they are pan ready. I had carrots in the fridge and peas in the freezer. They can cook together in the microwave. Mashed potatoes to fill out the plate. I grabbed some taters and got to work peeling. I had it all on the plate in about 40 minutes. Including the salad which I decided to do while I standing waiting for everything to cook.

Small Greek Salad

1 tomato diced
2 inches cucumber sliced
4 inches celery stalk sliced
fresh cut chives 
handful black olives
lump of feta cheese
2 tsp olive oil
1 rsp canola oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk the dressing up and toss everything in it. Plate. That is ordinary apple sauce with the cutlet. I was hungry so it was good.

Spaghetti and Greek Salad

Spaghetti Sauce

450gm ground beef
1 mild Italian sausage
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
1 celery stalk sliced
1 green pepper diced
6 mushrooms sliced
1 16oz can tomato sauce
1 can Aylmer tomato soup
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

Sweat the onion then brown the meat breaking it up. Take the meat out of the sausage skin and break it up into the pot browning it with the beef. Add the remaining vegetables and sweat them all. Add the cans of sauce and simmer till the pasta is ready.


salt your water and boil till al dente

Greek Salad

1 slice red onion diced
2 tomatoes diced
1/2 cucumber sliced
handful pitted black olives
goat feta (cow feta is fine - goat is richer) broken over salad

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper S

Whisk the dressing and toss the salad in it. Plate. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pineapple Coconut Chicken Curry

I picked up a mostly yellow green pepper, two chicken breasts and headed home. First I put rice on to cook then turned to the main dish.

Chicken Curry

2 tsp curry powder
1 onion diced
1 stick celery diced
1 carrot sliced thinly
1 green pepper diced
1/4 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup pineapple chunks - chunks work better than tid bits
1 tbsp of juice from can of pineapple
1 can coconut milk
2 chicken breasts diced, salted and floured
1 dried chili pepper - optional

In a 12" frying pan sweat the onion then add the chicken. Get a sear all around the chicken then add the carrot, celery, green pepper, peas, juice and curry powder. Cook a few minutes to soften vegetables. Pour coconut milk over all and keep the heat up to boil off the excess water. Once the curry has thickened add the pineapple chunks and let them heat up before plating on Basmati rice.

Fern remarked several times while eating that this curry was particularly delicious. 

Simple White Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

If I need something fast, this cake is easy to whip up. When I make cakes I substitute about 1 tablespoon of corn flour for all purpose flour to make the cake softer.  (Doing this increases the carbohydrate and decreases gluten content making All Purpose Flour more like Cake and Pastry flour. Do this only if you happen to have corn flour)

Simple White Cake - preheat oven to 350F

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk

Grease and flour a 9x9 pan or press parchment into it. I use parchment so I can lift the whole cake out and put it under a dome.

Cream butter, then slowly cream in the sugar. By creaming I mean beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour and baking powder. Stir in the milk and beat till incorporated then pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30-40 minutes till toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
splash of milk

Cream butter and peanut butter. Beat in cocoa powder and icing sugar. Stir in enough milk to thin icing till it can be spread. Spread evenly on the cake.

I couldn't wait to dig into it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cajun Chicken and Artichokes with Garlic Butter

Our second set of artichokes off the two plants in the garden. I took the bottom petals off, sliced off the top and steamed them for about 5 minutes.  Boiling in water is better I just discovered so I'll do that next time. Dice a few cloves of garlic and add to a quarter cup of butter to a small pot and cook the garlic a bit.  The leaves have only a small edible nub at their base. Dip in garlic butter and scrape it off the leaf with your teeth. When all the leaves are gone, the choke and heart are exposed, depending on ripeness it's mostly all edible and delicious. Riper ones get stringy fibres on top, the choke, that have to be cut off.

The rest of the meal was ordinary. Boiled new potatoes served with salt and butter.  Frozen peas cooked in the microwave and finished with salt and butter. Cajun chicken is boneless breasts, salted and dusted with Cajun spice rub before brushing with oil and putting on the BBQ.

It was a really good meal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Honey Garlic Ginger Chicken

Normally Fern doesn't like 'sweet' tastes in his meals but the other day I made garlic ginger chicken and Fern suggested it would be good with a honey glaze. So that's what I did here. 

2 tsp ground garlic
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
mixed pepper

Put the coating in a plastic bag and shake the breasts to evenly coat them.  Brush with olive oil and put on the BBQ. I seared both sides for at least 2 minutes before glazing.

2 tbsp honey
juice from half a lemon

Whisk the lemon into the honey and start basting the chicken with the glaze. I basted every few minutes till the glaze was all gone. 

The rice was done in the microwave with olive oil, salt and a few drops lemon juice. When it was done I stirred in some fresh chives.  The corn was frozen, cooked in the microwave and finished with butter and salt.

The plate looks a bit pathetic but I did remodel the chicken run so I've been working hard.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Not Cajun Chicken!

Even I was beginning to wonder if I could cook chicken without Cajun spice. Tonight I gave it a try.  I got out a plastic bag and added:

1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic chopped
a few anise seeds - ground with mortar & pestle

I shook the 3 breasts in the bag to coat evenly, then brushed with olive oil and put over medium heat in the BBQ. I turned them over after about 5 minutes and once the second side was seared moved them off the heat so they'd roast. They took about 20 minutes to cook. Juices will run free of blood when chicken is cooked. Also, get used to pressing on the meat on the grill to see how it changes as it cooks.

The rice had several drops of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a bit of rind to back it up. I added soy sauce to my rice, Fern likes his plain, I like soy. The peas were frozen, cooked in the microwave and finished with butter.

Fern said it tasted great but would have been better with a honey glaze. Normally he hates sweet tastes on a dinner plate so this suggestion surprised me. It was good, I could taste the garlic and ginger with just a hint of anise in the background. Definitely it will get a glaze next time.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Pork Cutlet and First Artichoke From the Garden! In June!

I harvested two artichokes. Before cooking I didn't remove enough outer petals so it wasn't quite fully cooked in the centre or maybe they weren't quite ready to pick. It was still good but I'm beginning to suspect it's the garlic butter we like so much!

Mitchell's pork cutlets again. Fried with plenty of olive and canola oil. This time there was just a little oil left in the pan and one cutlet stuck in one spot. Another teaspoon or two of oil would have been perfect. Too much oil makes them greasy so it's a fine line to tread. 

Mashed potatoes had just salt, butter and milk. Never use an electric mixer on mashed potatoes, it turns them into unpalatable sticky paste.

To finish off, a salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery and apple dressed with olive oil, salt, mixed pepper and lemon juice.

Fern finished eating before me, that means it was really good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fresh Salmon and Hollandaise!

I couldn't wait to taste the fish so it has a bite taken out of it. Kevin went fishing and caught a nice salmon for us. I had to fillet it but neither of us got any bones so I did a good job and it wasn't too difficult. I salted the fish first then soaked it in a marinade for a few minutes, before putting it on the grill.

Salmon Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup molasses

I put it skin side down over flame but turned it down to med-low and turned up the heat beside the fish so it roasted on top. It took 15-20 minutes to cook on top but it was perfect! Moist, delicious. Kevin said use brown sugar but Fern doesn't like sugar on his food so I used molasses and I liked it better too. It let the natural sweetness of the fish come through.

The potatoes were boiled and finished with salt and butter. The broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil.


1 egg yolk 
1/4 cup butter melted not hot
1 pinch salt
1 tsp cold water
1/2 lemon juiced

Slowly whisk butter into egg to emulsify. Add juice from half a lemon, salt and water. Heat till it bubbles and serve over the broccoli to keep it warm.

The fish was the best we've ever had. I'm not sure if that's because it was fresh caught or was it my skill cooking it? If I can do it twice, it's skill.

Rib Steak and Gruel

At the last minute I found out I was eating alone so I rushed to Mitchell's and picked up a rib steak. I forgot that I'd used up all the sour cream so didn't buy any. When I got home I realized I wasn't going to have a baked potato. Rice would work, especially with the cream corn I was planning to have. In fact I decided to put my cream corn in with my rice and have them both together. It turned out to be not such a good idea. the corn overwhelmed the rice and the texture was wrong. I ate my fill but only because I like rice and corn, nothing I did made them better. The steak was excellent, I can definitely BBQ meat. I salted it, added black pepper and brushed it with olive oil then on high heat for 2x2x2x2 minutes to get crossed grill marks on both sides.

It really looks like a bachelor's inept plate.