Sunday, August 23, 2015

Breaded Snapper

I was quite tired at the end of the day so I didn't feel like making a big complicated meal. I also didn't want Cajun Snapper again. I started out putting salt, olive oil and lemon juice in the rice and putting it on to cook.  The corn was boiled and served with salt and butter. The salad was iceberg lettuce, celery and tomatoes and cucumber from the garden. I used my new white wine vinegar for the dressing, it was quite wonderful.  That leaves the fish.


1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground garlic - the grainy stuff, not the powder

I pulled all the bones out and cut the fillet in half.  Then I salted both sides and dredged it in a mixture of bread crumbs, dried thyme, ground garlic, black pepper. This turned out to be the best snapper I've ever made! The breading was terrific, which totally surprised me. I served it with fresh lemon juice. The plate looks almost incomplete but every component was loaded with flavour. I can't wait for next Friday when Mitchell's will have fresh fish, probably snapper, again.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pork Cutlet

Pork cutlets again.  Mashed potatoes with butter, salt and milk. Apple sauce right from the jar and a vegetable medley.  Three different peppers from the garden with onion, celery and carrot from the store. Once I had the onion sweated I sprinkled some beef stock powder over all and added half a cup of water.  I let that boil off a bit before adding half a teaspoon of flour to thicken everything a bit. I added a tablespoon of butter to the veggies and stirred in at least a tablespoon of chopped fennel leaves. I didn't cook the fennel long to preserve the flavour but even so it wasn't enough, I could barely taste the fennel.  It still tasted good, it just didn't taste exotic. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cajun Chicken on Caesar Salad

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, I must have jiggled my phone. Anyway, It's easy as toast to make this.

Cajun Chicken

Sprinkle salt and Cajun seasoning over both sides of the breasts. Brush with olive oil and BBQ on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.


Cube up some Alpine bread into croutons. Dry in a paper bag on the counter then they can sit in the cupboard till used. Get a frying pan hot with olive oil and put croutons in it. Drizzle a little more oil over them and keep tossing till they brown a bit. Add a pinch of salt and put on a plate to cool. Diners have said they would be happy with just a plate of my croutons!

Caesar Salad

1 egg yolk
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil with a bit of canola
1 clove garlic
few drops Worcestershire Sauce
black pepper
anchovy if you have one, I never do
juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan 
1 Romaine lettuce

Put a bowl on a damp cloth or silicon pad to hold it in place. Whisk egg yolk then add 1 teaspoon of oil and whisk it into the yolk. Keep adding oil one teaspoon at a time till all oil is taken up. If you add too much oil at once, the sauce will break and separate when you stop stirring. If you break mayonnaise or hollandaise this way, slowly combine the broken sauce into another egg yolk to rescue it. When you have a nice mayonnaise, add the other ingredients. Add croutons and parmesan after the lettuce. 

Slice the top papery leaf tips off the lettuce. cut the bottom off and slice across it in 1 1/2 inch bands. Wash and dry in salad spinner. Add lettuce to dressing, toss. Add croutons and parmesan, toss.

Slice the chicken breast into thin slices and plate over the salad. I quartered a yellow plum tomato, seasoned it and placed on chicken as a garnish.

A few drops of lemon juice over the chicken to finish it off.

A really great summer meal.

Beef Tacos!

I managed to put this together in about 45 minutes, working quickly. It's pretty simple, the only thing to watch out for is avocado turns black in air unless it's treated with an acid like lime juice. So I do all my knife work first, then make guacamole. 

Open a can of Old El Paso refried beans, they taste so much better than any other brand, they're worth the price. Watch for them on sale. Put beans in a small pot on medium low heat. They just have to heat up. Before serving I add a tablespoon of sour cream and a little grated cheddar.

Put plates in the oven to warm with a soft taco shell on each one.


4 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup cooked corn
1/4 cup diced peppers
tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
black pepper

Combine in a small pot and simmer briefly.


1 avocado mashed
1/2 tbsp lime juiced
1 tbsp sour cream
1/2 clove garlic
tbsp finely diced onion

A fork usually works well to mash the avocado and mix the dish.

Taco Filling

1 onion
1/2 clove garlic
1 stick celery
1 poblamo pepper
1 small, not very hot habanero pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 lbs ground beef
1-2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup grated cheddar 
1 cup julienne lettuce 

Dice everything. Sweat the onion, celery and peppers. Add the ground beef and brown. Sprinkle taco seasoning over meat. Add 1/2 cup stock, stir. Cook off most of the moisture. Add a bit of grated cheddar. Sprinkle grated cheddar over taco shell, fill and roll up.

Plate the beans beside the taco, top with sour cream if desired. Plate lettuce beside taco, top with salsa and guacamole.

Despite the apparent complexity, it only took me about 45 minutes to pull this together. The key is 'mis en place' meaning have everything chopped, sliced and diced before starting cooking. 

Pineapple Pecan Banana Bread

It comes out more like a moist cake than a bread and this recipe is really easy! 
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a bread pan with parchment. I used the parchment to lift the bread from the pan and set it on the cake plate then used a sharp knife to cut around the glass to get a nice round doily on the plate. 

3-4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup drained pineapple chunks
1 tbsp pineapple juice
1/2 cup pecans

Beat the egg, mash the bananas and melt the butter but don't get it hot. Combine. Add sugar, mix. Add salt and flour, mix. Add baking soda, mix. Add pineapple, juice and pecans. Mix. Pour batter into parchment lined pan. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick in centre comes out clean. I think I gave this one about 7 minutes extra.

It's moist enough to eat like cake but spread a little butter on it to knock it up another notch. Our friend Kevin said this is the best banana bread he's ever tasted. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pineapple Coconut Chicken Curry

This took about 45 minutes to put together. First I put rice on to cook with olive oil, salt, a few drops of rice wine vinegar. A diced onion was sweated then a diced carrot, celery stick and chopped garlic clove went in the pan. The chicken was cubed, salted, coated in flour and put in the pan. I only got a light sear on the chicken all over then removed it from the pan. Next I added a few drops of sesame oil. The carrots were still quite raw so I added half a cup of chicken stock and let that boil off. Then I sprinkled a teaspoon of curry powder over all and stirred it in. Next a can of coconut milk was added. When the coconut milk was half boiled off I added the diced peppers. I think I had a jalapeño, poblamo and chili pepper all seeds removed. I diced the red chili particularly small. A few minutes before the curry was done I added the chicken and pineapple chunks (half a can). Taste the curry and if it's too spicy add a bit of pineapple juice from the can. When the pineapple chunks are heated through add a couple of tablespoons of butter and stir. When the butter has been taken up, plate the curry over the rice.

Fern said this was the best curry I've ever made. I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prawns and Pasta

This was my best pasta dish so far thanks to Betty Ann showing me how to finish the dish correctly.  It's still really simple.  Dice and sweat an onion then add a diced garlic clove. Put cleaned prawns in pan and get both sides pink but don't cook them through. Remove prawns from pan.  

Get the pasta cooking in salted water. Next I added a mostly yellow pepper diced and sweated it. Next a 16oz can of tomato sauce. Add the prawns back in. Add an ounce or so of butter to the sauce and stir it in.  Add the drained pasta. Add a handful of chopped basil, stir it in and turn off the heat. Plate and top with fresh grated parmesan.

The butter and not cooking the basil were the secrets I learned.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cajun Chicken

Lunch was a little heavy so we felt like something lighter for dinner.  Chicken isn't fatty and rice is lighter than potatoes so that part was easy.  The peas were fresh from the garden and the carrot was store bought. The parmesan roasted tomato, from the garden, should have had a little more colour but I had to cook them in the toaster oven which doesn't do such a good job. I put soy sauce on my rice because Fern likes plain white rice and I like more flavour.

The peas were a bit starchy, picked a bit too late I think. The tomato had salt and black pepper under the parmesan and it was sweet and delicious. I used Cajun spice on the chicken, brushed with olive oil and cooked on the BBQ for twenty minutes. 

It took 30 minutes to prepare this meal, start to finish. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Indian Butter Chicken - my version

The chicken I seasoned with salt and Cajun spice mix then brushed with oil and put on the BBQ for 20 minutes. Turning several times to get even cooking.

I didn't have pineapple so I couldn't make pineapple coconut curry but we have loads of sweet fresh tomatoes! I diced an onion and sweated it. Sliced a carrot and added to pan then diced a potato and added it also.  I added half a cup of chicken stock and a little salt and pepper. I diced up 6 roma tomatoes and added to the pan.  Half a teaspoon of curry powder.  Half a teaspoon of celery seeds. (I was out of celery, gasp!)

I simmered the curry down to about half it's volume then added less than a quarter cup butter. Once the butter was melted and incorporated, add one tablespoon of fresh basil then turn the heat off. Serve over rice and the chicken breast.

This was the best curry I've tasted in a long time. I think it was the quality of the tomatoes and the fresh uncooked basil, but it could have been my incredible skill as a chef! Could have, probably wasn't.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop

I salted, peppered and oiled the chops before putting on the BBQ. I got a good sear on them first then turned the heat down a bit to cook them evenly.  I mixed up a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with a tablespoon of honey and basted both sides of the chops every few minutes. Mustard powder mixed into honey might work better, I'll try that next time.

Mashed potatoes and over cooked broccoli complete the plate. Over cooking broccoli is my most common mistake. It usually springs from not completing prep before starting cooking.

The salad was fresh tomatoes and cucumber from the garden, celery, black olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. Salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the salad with a little canola oil to reduce the raw bitter taste of olive oil. Then a few drops of white wine vinegar or lemon juice and toss and serve.

Fern said the artichoke hearts didn't belong in the salad. I didn't mind them but they didn't improve the over all flavour so shouldn't have been added.

Serving Two with One Piece of Cake

There was one piece of cake left and no caramel sauce. I cleverly asked Fern if he'd like a piece of cake and he quickly said, "Yes." Now I had to serve both of us with one piece of cake. So I cut it on the diagonal to make each piece seem as big as possible. Then in a small bowl I mixed up icing sugar with a few drops of milk into a thick sauce. A bit of chocolate sauce over a too small piece of cake isn't going to do it. I looked in the fridge. An apple! I cut it into eight wedges, placed around cake and one on top with more chocolate sauce over it.  It's a bit sloppy but it worked as a dessert.

Chicken Stir Fry

Put rice on to cook with a pinch of salt and a few drops lemon juice or rice vinegar. Cut up chicken breasts into bite size pieces.  lightly salt, then flour the chicken pieces.

Dice half an onion and brown in oil in the pan. Add the chicken and more oil to give it a sear all around. Remove chicken from pan.  Add mushrooms to pan start searing. Add to pan the half chopped onion, stick of celery, carrot and large diced peppers. Add the chicken back in and toss all till the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables have started to soften.  Add a few drops sesame oil and chinese fish sauce. It smells like dirty socks but leaves a wonderful flavour if it's not overcooked. 

Fern had the rest for lunch and said it was terrific even reheated.

Easy White Cake with Caramel Sauce

White Cake

Preheat oven to 350º 

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Line a 9x9 pan with parchment. Cream butter. Cream sugar into butter. Beat eggs into creamed mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Add flour. Finally add milk and baking powder. Pour into pan and bake 30-40 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

Melt sugar over medium low head. It's said that swirling the pan is better than stirring it. As soon as the last sugar crystal melts, add the butter and stir in vigorously.  Add the cream and keep stirring. Boil hard for 5 minutes. Cool and serve.

Don't count on serving caramel sauce to guests until you've tried it a few times and are sure you can execute it properly every time. This batch had a hint of over cooked, still tasted good, barely.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Liver with Bacon and Onions

I like liver, I always have. I like it with tomato ketchup and plenty of caramelized onions.  Bacon works too.  For this meal I fried four strips of thick cut bacon, then removed them from the pan.  In went three onions sliced. The onions came out and the liver went in, dredged in flour.  I kept adding oil to the pan to keep it from drying out and scorching.

The beans were boiled and finished in olive oil.  I tried steaming beans and they didn't come out too well. Boiling them seems to work best. The carrots were boiled and finished with butter and a few drops of molasses. Plain white rice with salt, olive oil and a few drops of apple cider vinegar. 

This was a really nice meal.