Sunday, January 31, 2016

Breaded Chicken Breast with Hollandaise and Fresh Green Beans

Mitchell's had whole bone in chicken breasts way cheaper than the boned ones. I bought one and got two huge breasts out of it, a piece of skin for the dog and it was the same price as two boneless breasts. They don't always have them but they're a bargain when they do. I paired that with fresh green beans and mashed potatoes.

I separated an egg yolk for the hollandaise and whisked the white up to coat the chicken.  I whisked two tablespoons of butter into the yolk then whisked in some lemon juice with a little water. It becomes lumpy but smooths out as soon as it warms up. I leave cooking the sauce till just before plating, then do it on the induction element, it's faster than electric stove.

I salted and sprinkled poultry seasoning over the boned breasts, coated them in flour, dipped them in egg white and shook them in a bag of crumbs. Onto a baking sheet and into the oven at 325F for 35 minutes, they're large. I tried brushing some melted butter over the breading to make it brown but it didn't work. I have to put the butter into the bread crumbs first. Next time.

The beans were boiled for 4 minutes then set in butter, salt and black pepper to finish. 

Mashed Potatoes

Peel, salt water boil twenty five minutes, drain, mash, add butter, salt, milk, stir with fork.

It tasted great!

Beef Patty with Mushroom Gravy

I bought some ground beef. Added salt, black pepper, a few bread crumbs and some ground garlic. Made two patties out of it and put them in the frying pan.  I already had potatoes peeled and boiling for mashed. The sugar snap peas I cut the tips off and boiled for a couple of minutes then drained and finished in butter, salt and black pepper.

Mushroom Gravy

5 crimini mushrooms sliced
1 diced onion
1/2 cup pork loin pan drippings
1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
3/4 cup milk

Caramelize the onion, then sear the mushrooms. Sprinkle the flour over the pan and cook the flour taste off. Add a dash of red wine vinegar and cook it in. Add the pork drippings and slowly whisk in the milk. Taste, add some salt and pepper as needed.

Fern loved the peas. I only buy them when the bag is marked down to $2 but I make the whole bag. A nice treat. Probably lots of fibre too. The gravy was terrific. I'm going to roast some pork before beef from now on so I can make that gravy!

Pork Cutlet with Baked Apple

Breaded cutlets from Mitchell's, store made fresh, easy to cook, taste good. Paired with new potatoes boiled, salted and buttered. Peas and celery on the side. I cook the peas, drain, add butter and let the celery heat up with the melting butter. A little black pepper on the peas goes well.  That leaves the apple. Fern made the apples from cored granny smith. He just roasted them in the oven till mushy. Mine needed a bit of salt. Apple sauce is definitely cheaper.

A hearty meal at the end of the day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rotini and Cheese

Oddly, I can't seem to get macaroni in Baria Plus pasta so I have to use alternatives. This time it's rotini. Tastes the same but needs better draining to get the extra water off.

2 cups pasta
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
1 packet chicken stock powder
1-2 cups grated cheddar
2 cups milk

Cook pasta in salted water, drain.

On medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour letting it bubble a bit to cook off the raw flour taste. Remove pan from heat and slowly whisk in two cups milk. Return to heat and bring to simmer. Add grated cheddar and stir to melt and mix. Drain pasta, add pasta to sauce, stir.  Serve.

I really liked the addition of chicken stock, deepened the flavour nicely. I have had ketchup on my mac and cheese since I was a child. Still love it that way. Fern hates it. We both loved this quick easy meal.

Wine Vinegar

Wine vinegar is easy to make but it's only worth it if you make your own wine or have it made at the you brew. That's what I do. 

Vinegar is alcohol that is turned into acetic acid by bacteria. What is the source of that bacteria? Apples. Apple cider vinegar naturally encourages the bacteria needed. Buy unpasteurised apple cider vinegar from the supermarket and use 1/4 cup of that in a bottle of wine.  Put the mixture in a glass or ceramic container with the top covered with cheese cloth or anything that allows gas exchange but excludes fruit flies. Put in a dark room temperature place for at least 6 weeks and you have wine vinegar. Use this to make more. Use a coffee filter to clean out the sludge, there will be a lot at this point. The sludge proves it's still alive so it's a good thing, just not so much of it. The acid content will still be low at this point so filter the vinegar and bottle it loosely so gas can escape while it works. Acid content will continue to increase till you use it. The longer you leave it before using it, the better it will be.

Cajun Chicken on Rice with Peas in Beurre Blanc

We haven't had chicken for a few days so it was time. The BBQ was almost out of fuel but I have two tanks so I only had to watch that it didn't go out. It lasted till the last 5 minutes cooking then died. I quickly switched tanks and relit. Then back inside to finish the peas. I did the rice in the microwave then the peas in there too. The beurre blanc was 2 tablespoons of my home made white wine made into vinegar then reduced by half in a small frying pan. Add butter and whisk it into an emulsion as it melts. Add a dash of salt and pour over the peas. I never knew frozen peas could taste so good.

It doesn't look like an award winning plate but the chicken was moist and delicious, the rice had a hint of acid from the wine vinegar I dripped in and the peas in the beurre blanc were amazing. Really, frozen peas cooked in the microwave can taste amazing! Who knew!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Apple, Cinnamon Brittle and Raspberry Coulis

I made a pizza for dinner with a crust from scratch and it was terrific! Unfortunately I forgot to photograph it so it'll have to wait till next time. This was dessert. I made the ice cream in the afternoon with a whole vanilla bean, milk, sugar and whipping cream. It started out as an apple. I asked Fern if he'd like one and he said, "how about with some ice cream?"

So I thought about it and I felt like more. So I put a tablespoon of sugar and a small frying pan and gave three small shakes of ground cinnamon into the pan.  I had the burner just below medium heat and the sugar melted quickly. I didn't fuss with it, as soon as it was all melted I poured it out onto a silicon sheet and spread it out to thin.  When it was cool I put the broken pieces around the apple pieces.  A bit of raspberry compote on top and it was a really treat!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lamb Chops with New Potatoes and Snow Peas

It was fish Friday but the ship didn't come in so it was off the menu. Right where the fish would have been were lamb chops with delicious written all over them. It took me .006 seconds to decide on them. (an eternity for an android) There was a bag of sugar snap peas on clearance and I picked up a bag of new potatoes. I cleverly waited till after dark to remember to go out into the cougar and bear infested back yard for fresh mint. I chopped up a few meagre leaves and soaked them in a tablespoon of water, another of vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.

I boiled the potatoes and finished them with salt and butter. The peas I took the ends off and boiled for 4 minutes then finished in butter, salt and pepper.  The chops I salted and peppered then fried in a little olive and canola oil. I did them for just under 4 minutes per side, just over medium heat, and they were perfect.

I definitely have the taste down, now I have to learn how to plate. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Salisbury Steak with Pork Gravy

A simple beef patty tarted up with gravy from a roast pork. mmmmmmmm. I bought a big pork sirloin on sale for the dog so I roasted it up and saved the pan drippings. 

400 gm of ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground garlic or fresh clove if you have it

Mix the meat and form into two patties. Fry them till pink in the middle, about twenty minutes. Alternatively, fry them to get a good sear and put in the oven @ 325F for twenty minutes.

The rice was done in the microwave with 

1/2 cup rice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
3 drops vinegar/lemon juice

The beans were boiled, drained and finished with celery in butter, salt and pepper. The mushrooms were fried in the pan then 

1/2 tsp beef stock powder
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup pork pan drippings

were added. The pork drippings melted immediately and I had a wonderful gravy. Everything was really good. Fern doesn't like beans but he loves celery so the combination was good to his tastes. I cleaned up my plate and then the dog licked it to a polish, but I put it in the dishwasher anyway.

Breaded Pork Cutlet with Tater Tots!

I bought some Tater Tots just for a change. It's a bit of a production getting the deep fryer out so these things are an acceptable occasional change of pace. Processed foods are the most expensive way to eat too much salt and a host of chemicals on top of the most unhealthy fat, but they taste good enough.

I bought a bin of baby spinach salad and added a tomato and some cucumber to it. A simple vinaigrette of 

1 tbsp oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder
fresh ground pepper

Whisk, toss and serve.

The breaded cutlet is from Mitchell's so all I had to do was fry it. I steamed the broccoli, cooled it and reheated in olive oil with a bit of salt. Apple sauce for condiment on the cutlet. tomato ketchup on the tots.

It's a good hearty winter meal.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Liver and Onions with Broccoli

I liked liver even as a child and I still do. I caramelized a couple of thinly sliced onions first and put them aside while I floured and fried the liver. The mashed had butter, milk and salt and the broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil. As you can see, I dug in before I remembered to take a photo.

Corned Beef with Celery and Green Peppers

Corned beef from Mitchell's. They make it there and it's almost as good as mine. Be sure to simmer it for 3 hours or it'll be stringy. Mashed potatoes with butter, milk and salt. The vegetables were green pepper, celery and and onion. I cooked them together and sprinkled a little flour over top. Add half a teaspoon of beef stock powder and a quarter cup of water. Toss it around to coat everything and plate.

That's Dijon mustard on the plate and the beef was really wonderful. Great flavour, tender. The vegetables were really good. Potatoes, while humble, it wouldn't be a meal without them.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Roast Pork with Roasted Potatoes

It suddenly occurred to me standing at the meat counter that buying a whole roast is a lot cheaper than a bunch of chops. So I bought the roast and couldn't bring myself to cut it into chops. I gave it a quick brine with salt, sugar and molasses and put bay leaves on top when I put it in the oven. I sprinkled a little dried thyme around it too. I set it on a rack in the roasting pan so it would cook evenly. A meat thermometer went in the centre. 

The potatoes and carrots were tossed with olive oil and salt in the pan before the roast was set in the centre. That's store bought apple sauce, my last jar. Once it's gone I'll be cooking down a fresh apple instead. The vegetables are fresh beans, green onion and celery. I boiled the beans, drained, added the celery and onion and finished it all in butter with a little salt and black pepper.

It was as delicious as it looks. Fern liked the beans this way, first time I've come up with  a recipe for beans he likes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lamb Loin Chops

My mother never made lamb so I never saw it being prepared. I can count on one finger the number of times I've cooked lamb, I like it but I was afraid I would screw it up. Finally I had enough confidence to buy 4 little chops for $10.84, totally blowing my protein budget for today. 

I had Greek Salad ingredients in the fridge so I only needed a cooked vegetable and I toyed with a few ideas but ultimately went for mashed potatoes. Fern doesn't like to 'try new foods' when he's hungry for dinner.

I salted and peppered the chops, brushed with oil and put them on a hot BBQ for 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, 2 minutes rotate, 2 minutes and they're done. They could have done with just 30 seconds less cooking time. I'm happy  with almost perfect on practically my first try.

Mashed potatoes were boiled, mashed and had butter, salt and milk added. The broccoli was steamed, cooled under cold water and reheated in olive oil. I made a weak mint sauce from some mint from the garden. January mint as it turns out isn't all that minty. I managed to get most of the mint leaves on my lamb so I had just enough for a hint of mint.

Greek Salad

3 inches cucumber
1 tomato
1 green onion
black olives
feta cheese

Whisk up some oil and lemon juice with salt and black pepper. Toss with the salad.

It was so good I kept saying 'this is so good!' while we were eating. I really wished I had one more chop. Next time, now that I know how!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cajun Snapper

Fresh snapper from Mitchell's and mushrooms, green pepper and celery fried up for vegetables. Mashed potatoes with butter, salt and milk. I salted and seasoned the snapper with cajun spice mix and fried them.  I did manage to cut up a fresh lemon for the fish. It was all really very good.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Roast Pork with Roasted Potatoes and Greek Salad

Roast pork from Mitchell's with roasted potatoes and carrots, apple sauce on the side. When that jar of apple sauce is gone I'll use baking apples instead. Fern complained about the jarred stuff and the butcher said he always roasts an apple because it's so easy to do. So I'll have up my game.

I brined the roast in salt, sugar, molasses and water for about an hour. My brine could have been saltier but it helped. I roasted it at 300F for 2 hours and it took 2.5 so dinner was a little late. When it was finally done it was great. We both love roasted potatoes so it was a bit of a feast.

Greek Salad

1 tomato
4 inches English cucumber (don't peel, skins aren't bitter)
diced onion of some type
black olives
cow feta

Dressed with olive/canola oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper. About 2 parts oil to 1 part lemon. 

I could have plated it better but it tasted great!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pork Souvlaki with Greek Salad and Cheddar Scone

Hmm, the basmati rice is from India, the souvlaki is Greek and the scone North American. 3 continents on one plate! I just realized that. I guess this is food fusion but it really looks rather suburban. The souvlaki is from Mitchell's, it's always good.

The rice had a little olive oil, few drops vinegar and salt.

Greek Salad

green onions
black olives
cow feta


2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp canola/other oil
2 tsp vinegar
pinch salt

Whisk and toss salad in dressing.

I did the pork on the BBQ, just below high for 15 minutes.

It was really good.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

500gm Ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 tsp thyme
black pepper
(garlic would have been nice, didn't think of it)

Mix up the meat and form into patties.  I fried them on the stove top for about 10 minutes then put them in the oven @ 325F for 20 minutes. They could have come out a little earlier but they weren't dry. Mashed potatoes and broccoli were straight up ordinary. Butter and salt in the mashed and the broccoli steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil. 

In the meat frying pan I first caramelized a diced onion, then added the meat patties and scraped the onion to the side. When the patties were well seared on both sides I put them in the oven and added sliced crimini mushrooms to the pan.  More oil so the pan doesn't dry out.  Fry the mushrooms to a nice sear then sprinkle a teaspoon of flour over all. Add a tablespoon or two of butter and let than melt in.  Once the flour taste has cooked off, add a teaspoon of beef stock powder, add milk slowly, stirring so it doesn't get lumpy. Thin the sauce down with milk then let it cook down a bit. I added a bit of salt and a few drops of red wine vinegar. Serve over the meat and potatoes.

The sauce was a bit pasty, a little too much flour or not enough milk and stock. Otherwise it was a very good meal.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Roast Pork Loin

I tried a whole pork loin roast from Mitchell's. All I did was salt and season with thyme and lay bay leaves on the roast while it cooked. It tasted better than Save On pork loins from the first bite. Paired with new potatoes and broccoli with a beurre blanc. Pan gravy from the roasting pan.  

For the gravy I put a heaping teaspoon of flour in the roasting pan and a tablespoon or two of butter. I cooked that for a minute then slowly added a little milk till it was a good consistency. That was all it needed.

A little vegetable stock, water and lemon juice cooked up to heat the pan then taken off the heat to incorporate the butter. Adding the butter in  3 or 4 pieces makes it easier to emulsify it. Pour over broccoli. 

This meal was a fitting end to a great year.

Cajun Chicken and Broccoli with Lemon Beurre Blanc

The chicken was salted, seasoned with Cajun spice mix, brushed with olive oil and cooked on the BBQ.  I use medium high heat and turn it 3 times in the 20-25 minutes cooking time. The broccoli was steamed, cooled in cold water and reheated in olive oil. Mashed potatoes were boiled and finished with butter and milk.

The really interesting part of this meal is the lemon beurre blanc. A beurre blanc is shallots, acid (white wine, vinegar or lemon juice) and butter but it's not a true sauce. To prepare fry the shallots then add the wine, stock, vinegar or lemon and reduce it till just a little liquid remains. About a tablespoon with maybe 2-3 tablespoons of butter. The secret is to take the reduction off the heat and use residual heat in the pan to melt the butter while it's whisked into the liquid. Pour the emulsion over the chicken and broccoli and serve.

I'm definitely going to make Beurre Blanc more often, it's easy, fast and tastes great!