Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cajun Snapper with Cabbage Tomato Slaw

It's Friday so typically Mitchell's has fresh fish, usually snapper and I think it's local. There was also half a cabbage on sale so I picked it up. I got started cooking late so I didn't start out ambitious but it tasted that way by the time I was finished! First I got the rice on. Salt, olive oil, lemon juice and a few drops of Tabasco Sauce then into the microwave. If my microwave didn't have a 'Rice' button I'd have a rice cooker. Next I got the bones out of the filet and cut off the extra bits of skin. I was afraid I over salted the snapper but it was delicious so I guess I found the sweet spot. After salt I sprinkled Cajun spice over it. Put plenty of oil in my pan but didn't get it hot yet.

The slaw started out with a handful of chives from the garden chopped into the bottom of the bowl, maybe a tablespoon or so. Then I diced up a stick of celery because it's Fern's favourite vegetable so I always try to work it into the meal. Next I took thin slices off the head of cabbage till I had about a cup of shredded leaves, I picked out the chunks. Then I diced up two tomatoes. I looked at the salad bowl and decided two tomatoes would overwhelm it so I added only one. Next I diced up over a tablespoon of fresh parsley and added that. I had more stuff in the fridge but wasn't sure more would be an improvement so I stopped there. I drizzled about two teaspoons of olive oil over the salad and one of canola oil. Salt, probably about half a teaspoon. Mixed black pepper and several drops of Tabasco sauce. Juice from half a lemon. I tasted it, it was interesting, not necessarily good. I left it for a bit while I got the pan hot for the fish and put it on to cook. 

When I turned the fish over in the pan I added the second diced tomato with a pinch of salt to the sides of the pan and spread it out so it would cook a little. I plated the tomato on the side but Fern mixed his into his rice and said it was fantastic that way, so I did it and he was right. The Tabasco, tomato and snapper pan flavours brought the rice to life. Definitely going to do that again. I drizzled more lemon juice over the snapper on the plate and turned to plate the slaw. I looked at the bowl for a second and thought, the cabbage really needs a little sweetness so I sprinkled about half a teaspoon of sugar over the bowl and tossed it again before serving. This is dangerous because Fern doesn't like 'sweet' meals but if I don't use too much it's usually an improvement. 

I'm not sure if I got the salt perfect or the fish just tasted better than usual but it was unusually good. Paired with the tomato rice it was a delight to eat. The slaw was absolutely amazing! We both really enjoyed it and look forward to it again. That really surprised and pleased me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chicken Fajita Cranberry Lake

I forgot to buy taco shells so wasn't sure what to call this but it sure was good! Refried beans, Old El Paso brand reheated with a teaspoon of lime juice and 1/4 cup sour cream, wonderful! In the centre is a chicken breast that was salted and coated with taco seasoning, brushed with oil and BBQ'd. Plain basmati rice cooked with a few drops of lemon juice. A ragout of red and green pepper, red onion and celery were sweated then a splash of chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon of taco seasoning then strips of chicken stirred in. All that was topped with a fresh salsa.


1 tomato diced
1 jalapeno seeded diced
1/2 small red onion diced
1/2 lime juiced
black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro chopped

This was absolutely wonderful and I didn't have to make Fern a salad!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pork Cutlet with Fresh Apple Sauce and Greek Salad

Breaded pork cutlet from Mitchell's. They're cheap and taste pretty good fried in olive/canola oil. I boiled potatoes and finished them with butter, salt and milk. The carrots were cooked for a minute on high by themselves and then the peas were added and I hit the Frozen Vegetables button on the microwave. Peas and corn survive freezing and microwaving fairly well. Most everything else turns to mush. I had half a Granny Smith apple so I peeled it and cut it up into a small sauce pot with a tablespoon of butter and one of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Put a lid on it and bring it to a boil, turn heat down and simmer till it's soft or the pork is plated. Serve.

Greek Salad

3 inches English cucumber
1 tomato
green onions
black olives
1 stick celery
feta cheese - I use cow feta
olive/canola oil 
lemon juice
mixed pepper

That makes enough for two salads. It was a good meal. I liked the fresh apple sauce, much better than any canned or jarred.

Cajun Chicken with Red Pepper Pesto and Broccoli

I started demolishing the upstairs bathtub today so I didn't have the energy put out a huge meal. A chicken breast that I can salt, season, oil and BBQ is as easy and fast. Rice done in the microwave with salt, oil and few drops lemon juice. The broccoli was steamed, cooled and reheated in olive oil with a bit of salt.

While all that was going on I did have enough time to look at my jar of Roasted Red Peppers and wonder if I could make a little pesto for the chicken. I had a taste of Roasted Red Pepper Pesto years ago and never encountered it again. I loved it and always remembered it so now that I can cook a little bit, it's worth giving it a try.

Red Pepper Pesto ( not particularly successful )

2 roasted red peppers, skinned
5 pecans
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
few drops lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

I stuck the immersion blender in and processed it. It tasted ok, not great. I put it on the plate and Fern said it was delicious but I think he was being kind. It did taste better with the chicken. The spice improved it, which is what I was after but it should be the pesto improving the chicken, not the chicken improving the pesto.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chicken Cordon Swiss and Asparagus under Hollandaise with boiled potatoes

It was Fern's idea to have boiled potatoes with sauce on them so that gave me the idea for the plating. The chicken is assembled at Mitchell's Grocery here in Cranberry Lake. Any butcher can also make them up or just get thin sliced black forest ham, put chicken breast in a plastic bag and hammer it flat. Lay it out and lay ham on it and a nugget of cheese in the centre. Roll it up, roll in salted flour or flour and corm meal with a little butter in it. I also spray them with oil on the roasting sheet so they'll brown. Roast at 375F about 20-25 minutes till the cheese starts to leak out.

Asparagus is easy. Hold the root end of the stem and bend the stalk away. It will snap where the fibrous part ends. Put ends in stock pot or discard. Steam asparagus for 4 minutes.

Hollandaise Sauce

1 egg yolk
1/4-1/3 cup butter
1/2 lemon juiced - use a fresh lemon, the reconstituted juice is flavourless next to fresh
1 tsp water

Separate an egg. Just wash the egg white down the sink with lots of cold water. Put yolk in small sauce pot or glass bowl to use the microwave. Melt the butter but don't get it hot. Slowly, one tsp at a time, whisk the butter into the yolk. A silicone sheet holds the pot or bowl steady and helps enormously here. It will get thicker as butter is added. If you add too much butter at once, the sauce will break and separate. Once all the butter is taken up, slowly whisk in the lemon, water and pinch of salt. Put pot on induction burner at 3 or 4 or over boiling water. Alternatively put bowl in microwave and cook on high for 20 seconds. Whisk. If using pots, keep whisking. As soon as it thickens, it's done. In the microwave, cook 10 seconds at a time then whisk till it's thickened.  Sauce everything.

I liked the potatoes that way. It was all wonderful with rich buttery lemony goodness. The produce manager said the asparagus was particularly sweet and delicious and she was right. 

Roast Pork Loin with Roasted Potatoes and Jalapeño Jelly

Pork loin was on special so I picked one up and brined it. I heated 1/2 a cup of water in the microwave and added 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 tablespoon sugar. Immersion blender to mix that up then add 1/2 cup cold water, blend. Put brine and pork in a small bowl, make sure the pork is covered with liquid. Add water if not. Salt water if it needs a lot. Let sit in the fridge at least 2 hours.

Remove from brine. Coat diced potatoes and carrots in olive oil, salt and ground garlic. Put roast on rack in centre of potatoes. Lay bay leaves and fresh rosemary sprig on meat. Roast 2.5 hours at 325F or till meat thermometer says pork is done. Let rest under foil 10 minutes minimum out of the oven. This lets the juices cool so they don't escape as steam and dry the meat when it's cut.

The broccoli was steamed, cooled under running water and reheated in olive oil. 

The condiment is neighbour jillian amatt homemade jalapeño jelly.

It was quite wonderful. I invited Martin across the street to join us and he particularly liked the potatoes. The jalapeño jelly worked great instead of apple sauce too.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Garden Herb Chicken with Greek Salad

The rice was done with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and a few drops of fresh lemon juice. The chicken was marinated in herbs from the garden then BBQ'd.

Chicken Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp chopped chives/green onion

I just rolled the chicken in it and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. It was enough, the flavour was better than I hoped. I BBQ'd the chicken for 20 minutes on medium high. I managed to squeeze a few drops of lemon on the breast on the plate too.

Greek Salad

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
2 medium tomatoes diced
4 inches English cucumber diced
tbsp chopped chives/ green onions
2 tbsp feta cheese
10 black olives

Toss and serve.

The chicken was outstanding. The oregano came through beautifully with a nice garlic background, the lemon tang carried it home. Everything else was merely delicious.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pork Dinner Sausage with Caramelized Onions, Cabbage, Turnip, Carrot and Crimini Mushrooms

I like cabbage, sometimes, so it's an occasional purchase. One was cut in half already so I bought half to go with the turnip I already had in the fridge. I've started buying Brian's pork dinner sausages at Mitchell's, he makes them in-store and they're very good and inexpensive. I also picked up some crimini mushrooms to add some earthy flavour to the dish. I started with the turnip, it takes an hour to cook so I set it going. I diced up the cabbage and put it in the steamer and set it over the turnip. For the turnips last twenty minutes I added a diced carrot to the pot. The onion I sliced thinly then caramelized and removed from the pan then the same for the sliced mushrooms. I fried the sausages to get a nice sear all round then let them cool. 

In the empty pan I put a big teaspoon of flour and enough butter to make a paste and cook the flour taste off. Once it's bubbled a bit, slowly add beef stock. I used up beef stock that was in the cupboard for a while. I probably put in two cups of stock. If you whisk the stock in slowly it shouldn't have lumps. Add a bay leaf.  Add the pre cooked ingredients back into the pan, cutting the sausage into pieces. I drained the turnip and carrot and added that and the steamed cabbage. Bring it to a simmer adding salt and pepper as needed. The pork sausage needs to be cooked in the centre so I let it simmer for a few minutes to also develop more flavour. I plated the stew with mashed potatoes.

It developed good flavour but in hindsight I think cabbage goes really well with a hint of liquorice flavour so I'll try that next time. Anise, star anise, caraway seed, fennel, dill and tarragon all have a version of this flavour so it should be easy to find something to try.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Breaded Pork Cutlet with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli and Jalapeno Jelly

Breaded pork cutlet from Mitchell's, good enough flavour and so easy to cook, just fry it. I boiled a couple of potatoes and steamed some broccoli. The broccoli was cooled and reheated in olive oil. the potatoes were finished with butter, salt, milk. The condiment is Jalapeno Pepper Jelly made by my neighbour Jillian Amatt and I sprinkled fresh lemon juice over the broccoli on the plate.

It looks simple but it tastes great and took almost no effort.

Lemon Dill Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes and Greek Salad

I was beginning to wonder if I could make chicken without Cajun spice. I was looking at spring growth in the herb garden and dill was coming up from root so I grabbed a stalk and took it to the kitchen. I stripped the leaves from the stems, chopped them up a bit and put them in a bowl. To that I added 2 cloves garlic diced, 1/4 cup olive oil, juice from half a lemon, teaspoon of salt, pinch of cayenne. I rolled the breasts in the marinade let them sit for a few minutes. The acid in the lemon whitened the meat but it cooked out nicely. The flavour would still come out with less lemon so next time I'll use half as much. I BBQ'd the breasts for twenty minutes on medium high heat.

Mashed potatoes were boiled, drained, mashed, salted, buttered and finished with milk whipped in with a fork. Using a fork prevents over whipping the potatoes and turning them into a thick unpalatable paste. Green onion dropped over top so it doesn't look so bare. Turns out the onion tastes good with it too.

Greek salad is one of the easiest to make. Chop up a tomato or two, 4 inches of English cucumber. a couple of green onions. Add a few black olives and break some feta cheese over it all. Drizzle some olive oil over it and the juice from half a lemon. Pinch of salt and come black pepper. Toss and serve.

The chicken was wonderful. So were the potatoes. The salad was good too. No wonder I'm fat.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cajun Chicken with Caesar Salad

This meal usually loosens up our 60ish constitutions. Lettuce is finally on sale for .98 a head instead of $3 so it's a joy to have a plate of crisp romaine again. I actually used a big pot instead of smaller bowl for mixing. Helped a bit, an even larger pot would have been easier. A Caesar Salad has 3 components, romaine lettuce, croutons and dressing. The croutons I usually make from Alpine Bread.  Dry it, cut it up and fry croutons in olive oil with a bit of salt. 

Romaine lettuce cut up, washed and spun dry. Use the whole head.

Caesar Dressing

1 egg yolk
1/3-1/2 cup olive/canola oil
1-3 cloves garlic
few drops Worcestershire Sauce
anchovy fillet (if you have one)
black pepper
juice from half a lemon
parmesan cheese

Separate the egg yolk and wash the whites down the sink unless you really want to make pralines. One teaspoon at a time whisk the oil into the egg yolk. Whisk in all the other ingredients except Parmesan and croutons. Toss the dried lettuce in the dressing till evenly coated. Add croutons and parmesan cheese and toss again. Serve.

The Cajun Chicken was seasoned, salted and coated with olive oil then cooked on the BBQ for about 20 minutes. 

I always feel good after eating this meal.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pork Dinner Sausage in Southern Gravy with Fresh 10 Grain Bread

I wasn't sure what to call this but I found a recipe for Southern Gravy that was flour and milk so I went with that. I started in the afternoon deciding to make 10 grain bread. I got out my french bread recipe, swapped 1/4 cup 10 grain cereal for 1/4 cup flour and adding a tablespoon of molasses. It worked but a couple of things I could have done would have made it much better. I cook for two people so my recipes are always for small amounts.

French Bread

1 2/3 cup flour - I use all purpose flour but swap a tablespoon of wheat gluten
2/3 cup water
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

1/4 cup 10 grain cereal
1 tbsp molasses
2 tsp sugar

Turn oven light on, the light alone warms the oven to the perfect temperature to rise bread and make yogurt. Warm the water to 35C or till it feels neither warm nor cold when you stick your finger in it. Yeast likes the same temperature your body does. Add the yeast and struggle a bit to get the lumps out. No doubt there is an easy way to do this I have yet to discover. I let the yeast rehydrate for a few minutes before making the dough, it seems to work much better. If I had put the cereal in the water first the soften up for a couple of minutes it would have produced a better result. I'm not sure if I have to add more water for this, we'll have to see next time.

Put water in stand mixer bowl. Add wet then dry ingredients. Lower dough hook. Turn mixer on for 5-10 seconds then turn off for 5 seconds. Repeat this until all ingredients are taken up. It makes better dough than just turning the machine on. Once the dough has been made, increase the speed and let it run so the dough is slapping against the bowl. The dough needs to be on the hook and stretched against the bowl by centrifugal force to be kneaded by the machine. If it's too dry it will form a ball and require hand kneading.

Once the dough is soft enough to slowly stretch under it's own weight it's ready to go. It will be soft and supple. If it's firm it will bake into a rock. Put one tablespoon olive oil in a bowl, roll the dough in it and put it in the oven till it doubles in size, an hour or so. Remove from bowl, punch down or stretch into a roll or baguette and put on baking sheet. Let rise to double again. Remove from oven. Turn oven on and warm up to 375F. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Dinner Sausage with Southern Gravy

3 strips bacon
2 onions sliced thinly
2 sticks celery
1/2 red pepper diced
1 large potato

3 pork dinner sausages - fresh made at Mitchell's they are wonderful
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 tsp beef stock powder
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Peel, dice and boil the potato then drain. Fry 3 strips bacon. Fry the onions in the bacon fat adding oil as needed. When the onions are caramelized add diced red pepper and celery. Sweat these vegetables then remove all from the pan. Fry the sausages so there is colour all around them. Remove from the pan. Turn heat in pan below medium and add flour and butter. Cook the flour in the butter for a minute or two. The longer it cooks the less it will thicken so go easier on the milk. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and beef stock and add the corn. Put back on burner, bring up to a simmer, add thyme. Chop sausage and bacon and add everything back into the pan including potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the corn is cooked and the gravy has thickened plate with sliced bread and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Liver, Bacon, Onions, Turnip, Peas and Potatoes

I liked liver even as a child, especially with ketchup. This time I tried plating the onion and bacon in the centre, then the liver over top. The liver is too spread out and maybe there's too much so it wasn't effective. 

I thoroughly cooked three strips of bacon first then caramelized two onions in the bacon fat. Even thinly sliced the onions still took 20 minutes to slowly turn sweet and golden without drying to paper. While they were cooking I salted, floured the liver. The turnip was boiled for over an hour so it was completely softened, finished with butter. The mashed potatoes were finished with a little butter, milk and pinch of salt. The frozen peas were done in the microwave and finished with butter and a pinch of salt.

When the onions were done I removed them from the pan and put the liver in. If it's thinly sliced, liver cooks really fast so everything else should be ready first. 

I let the peas sit in the hot water a minute too long. I cooked the potato in a little too much water so they were a touch mushy. The turnip was over cooked but still tasted good. I sliced the onion very thinly which gave a better result. I ate everything on the plate so it was good enough not to leave any.