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Feeding the boys

Updated: 2016-11-08T07:07:06.626-05:00


Mustard and herb-crusted lamb shoulder


Again, this is one of those "non-recipes" that I have :)

I used a 4-lb boneless lamb shoulder here.

1 heaping tbsp. whole grain mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
big handful of fresh herbs (I used what I had in my herb planter)
     1 sprig rosemary
     3 sprigs thyme
     flat leaf parsley
     2 leaves of sage
     1 sprig basil

(Use whatever you can find.  I find that this is a great way to use up extra herbs you have in the fridge as well.  If you don't have fresh herbs, dry works too.  Just remember that you need about 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of dry to fresh herbs)

Blitz all of the above in a small food processor and rub all over the shoulder.  Marinate for 4-6 hours, or overnight, in the fridge.

Take meat out of fridge about an hour before cooking to bring it closer to room temperature.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stick a thermometer into the thickest part of your meat and roast meat until thermometer registers 145 degrees.  It took about 2 hours for this piece.  Rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

I served this with the drippings (skin off the fat!) and some mint jelly. 

Roasted veal shank


I binge-watched "Mind of a Chef" one weekend and got hooked on April Bloomfield.  Her vision, her honesty, and her down-to-earth approach to cooking and eating really resonated with me.  One the episodes I enjoyed the most showed her cooking with Marcella Hazan.  This is one of the dishes they cooked together.

For those of you who have been reading this blog from the very beginning, you know my profession of love for Marcella Hazan.  Her cookbook has been a great source of inspiration and imagination.  It's sad the she is now gone, but her legacy truly lives on in her food.

This is not truly a recipe but rather a technique.  But the end result was so good, I don't think I would even tweak it much.

4-5 lb veal shank
1/4 cup olive oil

5 shallots or 2 onions, sliced
1 whole garlic, separated into cloves, not peeled
1 cup dry white wine

Salsa verde (optional)

To make:

Rub the shank with oil and salt.  Place in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the shank.  Heat oven to 400 degrees and roast the shank for 2 hours, turning every 30 mins.

Lower oven to 300.  Place the onions or shallots and garlic around the shank and roast for 10-15 minutes.  Add the wine to the bottom of the pan and roast the shank for another 2 hours or so, basting every so often with the wine and aromatics.

The texture you are looking for is slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and slightly chewy on the inside.  You want the end product to be unctuous and tender but not falling off the bone.

Let shank rest for 15 mins then carve.  Serve with the remaining liquid and aromatics in the pan.  Some salsa verde adds a bit of freshness and acidity.

Salsa verde: I like to use parsley, arugula, basil, capers, vinegar and oil.  Blitz until it comes together.

Caesar salad


So simple yet so good.  I like Caesar salad as much as everyone does but when I tried this recipe inspired by April Bloomfield, no other Caesar salad dressing now comes close.  I love the balance of the fat from the eggs, acid from the vinegar and mustard, and umami from the anchovies and parmesan.  My favourite way to make this is in a major jar, with a quick blitz from a hand-held mixer.  You could make this in a blender or a food processor too.  Just more clean up that way.

I like to top this salad with parmesan croutons, bacon bits, and marinated white anchovies.  Typing this is making my mouth water...

The recipe:

7-8 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup white wine or red wine vinegar
3 tbsp dijon or whole grain mustard
1-2 garlic cloves
1 large egg
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 cup neutral oil like sunflower, grapeseed (or canola, which I actually don't like using...but that's another post)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make:
Combine the first 5 ingredients and pulse until smooth.  Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream while your machine is on.  When everything has emulsified and come together, add the cheese.  Pulse again just until blended.  Season with pepper (and salt if needed, although this if often unnecessary).  Pulse again for a few seconds.  Done!

Bicol express


Bicol Express

1 can coconut milk (70%)
1 lb diced pork (I used shoulder, but belly is more traditional...just too much fat for me)
5-6 cubanelle peppers, sliced (you can vary the variety of pepper you use depending on the amount of heat you can tolerate)
3-4 thai bird chilies (optional, for added heat)
1/2 bottle alamang, drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, boil pork until almost tender and the water has evaporated leaving the pork in its rendered fat.  Add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes until soft.  Add the drained alamang and coconut milk.  Simmer until the coconut milk is reduced to at least half, and the oil from the coconut milk floats to the top.  Add the chilies and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the chilies are soft but not mushy.  Season with salt and pepper.

A few notes...

1.  Try to find coconut milk that has no added additives/preservatives.  The one I use is 70% coconut milk and water. That's it.  I find that the ones with added guar gum, etc, don't produce the coconut oil that is the mark of a true bicolano dish :)

2.  Whenever you cook with coconut milk, reduce it first before adding ingredients that cook quickly (like shrimp, veggies, etc).  It takes a while to reduce coconut milk, and if you add these ingredients too early, they will be overcooked before you get that nice reduction.

3.  Bicol express traditionally is chilies in coconut milk, with a bit of pork just for added flavor.  This version has a bit more pork to make it more substantial so it can be eaten on its own, and not just as a condiment, which is what bicol express usually is in the Bicol region.

Serve this with lots and lots of steamed rice!

Sticky Toffee Pudding


This has got to be one of my favorite desserts.  Gooey, sticky, buttery, caramel-ly.  The warm sauce drenches the dense cake, and when served with cold whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, the additional temperature contrast takes it to another level.This recipe is pretty simple to make, quite forgiving, and very adaptable.  When I made it today, I didn't have enough dates so I used some raisins to make up for the date deficit.  I imagine dried figs would work too.  And perhaps even prunes.  The dried fruit does make a difference in the end product.  Even if you think you don't like dates, give it a try.  You won't be able to pick out the flavor in the cake, but it definitely adds depth and texture to the finished product.Sticky Toffee Pudding (adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe)Dates:2 cups of chopped dates1 cup water1 tsp. baking sodaCake:1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour1 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp grated nutmeg1/2 tsp salt3/4 c packed brown sugar6 tbsp unsalted butter2 eggs1 tsp vanillaToffee sauce:1/2 cup brown sugar6 tbsp butter1/2 cup heavy creampinch of salt2 tsp whiskey or bourbon (or port or rum)In a saucepan, boil water and dates over medium heat.  Add the baking soda and stir until dates are soft.  Set aside to cool.Mix the dry ingredients for the cake.  Set aside.Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with dates, mixing on low after each addition.Bake at 350.  You can use an 8 inch square pan or a 12-muffin pan.  For a whole cake, bake for 40-45 mins, for the muffin pan, bake 20-25 mins until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Set cake aside.While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce by combining sugar, butter, cream, and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a  low boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add liquor of choice.To assemble, pour sauce over cake, top with freshly whipped cream.  Some vanilla ice cream on the side never hurts.[...]

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting


This cupcake has a very sophisticated flavor...nice to serve when you want something fun but different.  The brown butter in the frosting gives it a nice nuttiness that you can't really get any other way.  And the Meyer lemon is a more subtle, more floral citrus than a regular lemon.  Really lovely.

Makes about 18 cupcakes

1 cup neutral oil (I used sunflower)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated meyer lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream

1.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.
2.  With an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs over medium-high speed until light in color.
3.  Add oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.
4.  Add half of flour mixture then half of sour cream.  Mix.
5.  Add rest of flour and rest of sour cream.  Mix just until batter is uniformly mixed.
6.  Bake in lined muffin tins in a 325 over for about 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
7.  Cool and prepare frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 bar cream cheese
1 tsp. meyer lemon zest
2 1/2 cups sugar

1.  Heat butter in a small saucepan until melted.
2.  Once butter starts to bubble, swirl butter around until you get brown butter bits at the bottom of the pan.  These are the milk solids in the butter.  Be careful not to burn the butter!
3.  Cool the butter for a few minutes then place in the bowl of an electric mixer.
4.  Add in the cream cheese and mix on medium-high until well incorporated.
5.  Add lemon zest and sugar and beat some more until frosting is a spreadable, light, fluffy consistency.
6.  Pipe or spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Banana Nutella Muffins


As a fun "stocking stuffer" for Christmas, I got Son #2 (who absolutely adores the stuff) a 5 kg jar of Nutella.  Now, he has Nutella with bread, crackers, in a mug of hot milk (which I must say is hot, sweet, hazelnut-chocolate goodness), on bananas, on ice cream, on a spoon, on his fingers...anyways, you get the picture.

I had a few overripe bananas and an excess of Nutella, so this recipe was a natural product of the circumstances.

3 overripe bananas
1/2-1 cup Nutella (depends on how much you like the stuff!)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Mash bananas.
2.  Add oil, eggs, sugars and vanilla.  Mix well then set aside.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
4.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix with a spatula just until incorporated.
5.  Line 2 12-cup muffin pans and fill with batter about a third of the way.
6  Swirl the Nutella into the batter gently.  I found that the best way to do this was to place the Nutella in a piping bag.  Or you could use a zip lock and snip of a corner.  Faster and easier than using a spoon.
7.  Add rest of batter to fill muffin cups to about 2/3 full.  Swirl Nutella on top.
8.  Bake in a 350 over for 22-25 minutes.

Asian Baked Chicken


This is what a perfect week night dinner recipe should be...easy, inexpensive, delicious, and most of all, fast.

I adapted this recipe from here but instead of chopping the aromatics, I grate them.  Much, much quicker.  And all moms know that on week nights, every minute counts!

I marinate the chicken the night before so that I can just pop the entire thing in the oven when I get home.  But if you're using boneless chicken pieces, even just a couple of hours in the marinade is enough.

Anyway, here goes...

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tbsp grated ginger (depending on how much you like ginger!)
5-6 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10-12 pieces of chicken

For the chicken, I sometimes buy a whole one and have it chopped, or I use a combination of chicken pieces (like in the photo above), or I will also use boneless, skin-on thighs or breasts.  You can use skinless chicken pieces too but I find that it dries up too much before the sauce gets nicely caramelized.

And another tip: When I buy ginger, I cut them up into 2-3 inch pieces and grate as I need. I could never finish those huge pieces and used to end up throwing a lot of shriveled ginger.  Now, I always have fresh ginger on hand.  Plus, if you grate it, you don't even have to peel!  How grate (pun intended) is that?!

On to the rest of the recipe...

In an oven proof dish, mix the first 6 ingredients.  Coat chicken pieces well with the marinade and leave for 12-24 hours in the fridge.  When you're ready to cook, take the chicken out about an hour before to let it come as close to room temperature as possible.  Bake in a 475 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.  Baking time will largely depend on what pieces you decide to use and whether you use bone-in or boneless chicken.  If you don't get that nice crust on top and the chicken is already done, turn on the broiler for a few minutes.  Watch closely because the sugar in the marinade will cause it to burn quickly.

Serve with lots of white rice to sop up all the sticky, sweet, savory sauce.

Chili Mushrooms and Tofu


Stir frying is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It's quick and always produces such excellent results. There are a few things to keep in mind when stir frying though. First, have a HOT pan. Second, have dry ingredients. These two factors will contribute greatly to the success of the dish. Third, make sure the ingredients are cut in relatively small pieces. They will need to cook in a very short period of time so size is important. Fourth, work quickly. Mise en place is especially important when stir-frying. And last, serve the food while it's hot. They Cantonese have a term for the aroma that comes from freshly stir-fried's called wok hay, a concept I came to know through one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 bag pre-fried tofu squares (any Chinese grocery should have this)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used king oyster)
2 stalks green onions, sliced
2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. XO sauce ("bits" and oil)
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp. bland cooking oil with a high smoke point (e.g. peanut, safflower, etc)
few drops of sesame oil

1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan until very hot. Stir-fry garlic and green onions.
2. Add mushrooms and all the sauces. Stir-fry for a minute or two.
3. Add the tofu. Mix until all the tofu pieces are coated with the sauce.
4. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil. Stir a few times.
5. Done!

Braised short ribs


I found this recipe from Anne Burrell and was intrigued by the fact the the mire poix in her recipe is not chopped but pureed.  Plus, she also asks you to from a crud.  Now any recipe with the word crud is certainly worth trying!

Here's the recipe

And here's my finished product:

I have to say, crud makes for very good short ribs!

Sweet and sour meat balls


Once in a while, I like to pretend I'm on Iron Chef or Chopped :)

I had more beef patties left over after I made this so I checked my pantry and looked at what I wanted to finish off.  I found half a bottle of teriyaki sauce, 1/3 bottle of banana catsup, 1 can of mandarin orange slices in syrup and these: packets of ketchup and chili sauce from previous take out and delivery meals:

So I divided up the beef patties into meat balls and stuck them in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes to brown.  Into a sauce pan went the teriyaki sauce, banana catsup, the entire can of oranges with the syrup, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 diced onion, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, several packets of tomato ketchup, and several packets of chili sauce.

I simmered the sauce for a few minutes then threw in the browned meat balls.  Simmered again for 15 minutes or so until all the flavors came together and the sauce thickened up to just the right consistency.

Success!  I love it when I'm able to put a dish together on the fly, made with ingredients just sitting in the pantry.  And using up the chili sauce and ketchup packets cluttering my kitchen...that was the best part :)

Burger steak


We had a barbeque a couple of days ago and I set up a burger bar here at home.  Chili, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, 3 kinds of pickles, the works.  Of course, true to Filipino form, I bought too much food and now had to contend with lots and lots of burger patties in the fridge.  It's a good thing Son #1 absolutely loves, and I mean LOVES, burger steak.

6 large beef patties (got mine from Costco so they were gigantic) or 12 smaller ones
1 can low-sodium Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced into rings
steak seasoning
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard

1.  In a large pan, brown patties well on both sides.  They don't have to be cooked all the way through, but a nice brown crust is essential.
2.  In the same pan, saute the onions and mushrooms.
3.  Add the mushroom soup.  Fill the can with water and pour that in as well.
4.  Mix in the mustard and season with steak seasoning (alternatively you could use liquid seasoning, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, beef bouillon, or even just salt and pepper).
5.  Place the patties back into the pan, partially submerging them in the sauce.
6.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes until beef is cooked through.
7.  Uncover and continue to simmer until sauce thickens a bit.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Son #1, this is for you :)

Korean Chicken Wings


I'm not happy with the fact there BonChon Chicken does not have a presence in Toronto. I am quite displeased, in fact. So what does one do when one cannot buy Korean chicken wings? One googles a recipe and tweaks it to one's own taste.... (A) 48 Chicken Wing Pieces (cut off excess thick skin/fat) 4 Tablespoon of rice vinegar 1 Tablespoon of salt ½ Teaspoon of black pepper 4 Garlic Cloves (whole) 1 Small onion (whole) (B) Some rice flour (about a cup) for dredging wings Peanut oil for frying (C) 2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce 4 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar 3 Tablespoons of Koh Chu Jang (hot red pepper paste) 4 Garlic Cloves, grated 3 Tablespoons of Thai sweet chili sauce or honey 2 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar Directions: 1) Soak wings in cold water for about 5 minutes, drain and repeat 2 times. 2) In the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil and add in all the “A” ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes. 3) Add the chicken wings to the pot and boil until the meat is cooked (do not over cook). 4) Drain the wings in a colander. 5) Lightly dredge wings in with rice flour. 6) Heat up the oil for frying. Fry wings until lightly golden brown and crisp. 7) Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, add all the “C” ingredients. Simmer until sauce thickens (about 5-10 minutes). Should not be too thick, about the consistency of maple syrup. 8) Toss wings in sauce. Add a bit at a time. Don’t put too much sauce or the wings will become soggy. [...]

Olive Oil Almond Cake with Brown Butter Glaze


Please make this glaze. The cake is very good, but the glaze is AMAZING.

From here on, I will use this glaze at every opportunity. I imagine it would be good on banana cake, pound cake, sour cream cake, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, or even a spoon. Enough said. Best. Glaze. Ever.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup orange juice

1. Whisk flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to combine.
2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and olive oil until light yellow and slightly thick. This will take a couple of minutes. Add the zest and the juice and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.
4. Pour batter into a 9-inch round cake pan that has been greased and floured.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes.

2 tbsp. butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp. cream (or milk)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1. In a light colored pan, heat the butter until its color changes from yellow to golden brown. Be careful not to burn the butter!
2. While the butter is cooling, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
3. Whisk in the cream until the mixture is smooth then slowly add the butter.
4. You want your glaze to be pourable but not too runny. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of cream at a time until your get the consistency you want.
5. Add the sliced almonds and mix gently.
6. Pour over cooled cake.

Mussels with Chorizo


Moules there anything better than briny, sweet mussels bathed in a sauce redolent with the taste of the sea accompanied by crisp, salty fried potatoes? Once in a while I will get a craving for this dish and yesterday was one of those days. So armed without a recipe, I just decided to wing it and make a big batch for me and the boys. I missed the frites, but the moules definitely hit the spot!

Mussels with Chorizo

2 lbs. mussels
6-10 inches of chorizo, cubed
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato puree (or you could just crush some canned whole tomatoes)
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
handful of parsley, chopped

1. Wash mussels well with cold running water.
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute the chorizo until the sausage renders its fat.
3. Add onions and garlic and saute until transluscent.
4. Add tomato, white wine, sugar and water.
5. Simmer for 5 minutes to let all the flavors meld together. Meanwhile season with salt and pepper.
6. Place all the mussels into pot and cover.
7. Cook until all the mussels have opened, about 15 minutes.
8. Adjust seasoning and add parsley right before serving.
9. Serve with lots of crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.

Arugula with Grilled Portabella and Blue Cheese


The title is the recipe.

Arugula (or rocket/roquette) is by far my favorite salad green. Sturdy, bitter, nutty. Yummy.

Portabellas (or portobellos) are one of my favorite mushrooms. Meaty, substantial, flavorful.

Blue cheese. Tangy, salty, creamy. Love. Any cheese for that matter.

Balsamic reduction brings all these together. Sweet, sour, smoky.

This is what makes a great salad...different flavors, different textures, all combining into one perfect mouthful.

Cider-brined pork chops


For our Christmas grab game at work this year, I snagged a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, which I put to use straight away. The original recipe called for grilling the chops, but since it was below freezing outside, grilling was a definite no-go. So I followed the recipe (almost followed the recipe, that is) and the result was definitely a make-again dish for the boys. I think the most crucial part is using a good cut of meat. I bought these pork chops from Cumbrae's, a local butcher known to supply fine restaurants around Toronto. These particular chops were from a Yorkshire-Duroc pig, a cross of two heritage breeds.

When I first started cooking, I didn't think that using heritage pork breeds, or free-run eggs, or dry-aged beef, or wild (non-farmed) salmon made a difference. But when that particular ingredient was the star of a dish, like here, I soon realized that the extra $$ was very well worth it.

Anyways, on to the recipe.

4 pork chops, each at least an inch thick.

3 cups apple cider
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
10 peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 star anise

1. Combine the ingredients for the brine.
2. Place the pork chops, making sure all the pieces are submerged in the brining liquid.
3. Brine in fridge for at least 8 hours (up to 24).
4. Remove chops from brine, rinse, and pat dry.
5. Heat a heavy oven proof pan on the stove (I used cast iron).
6. Place a bit of oil and when the oil is very hot, sear all sides of the chop, making sure to sear the top where the fat is (yum!!! crispy pork fat!).
7. Place chops in a 400 degree oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pork is no longer pink but NOT overdone.

I used a thermometer to make sure I took the pork chops out just before they were done. Even though pork chops have a cap of fat, the rest of the chop can become dry and tough when overcooked.

I served this with a cranberry sauce, pan-roasted asparagus and broccolini and roasted rosemary potatoes.

Dates, Goat Cheese and Bacon



This picture may not look like much, but trust me on this one.

Grab some pitted dried dates, stuff with good aged goat cheese (I imagine some sort of blue cheese would be lovely too), wrap with half a bacon strip and bake in a 350 oven for 10-15 minutes until the bacon is slightly crisp. I actually did this in my toaster oven!

This goes so well with a glass of bubbly :-)

Sausage, mushroom and apple stuffing


This was our Thanksgiving table this year :-)

I made this stuffing (in the boat-shaped container on the left), which I baked outside the turkey. I find that that gives me better control of how cooked I want the stuffing and the bird to be. Plus I like my stuffing with some crisp parts, which you can't get if you cook it inside the bird. Don't forget the gravy and cranberry sauce!

500g package mild Italian sausage, casing removed
2 apples, chopped into half inch cubes
2 cups chopped mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mined
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp. dried fennel
1 whole baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 7-8 cups of bread cubes)

1. Saute the sausage and break up the meat as it cooks.
2. When the sausage is no longer pink, add the onion and garlic.
3. When the onionis soft, add the celery. Saute for a few minutes until the celery softens.
4. Add the apples and mushrooms, season with salt, pepper, thyme and fennel.
5. Saute until everything is cooked and the flavors meld together.
6. In a large bowl, put the bread and pour in the sausage mixture.
7. Pour in the milk, broth and eggs.
8. Mix everything well until the bread has soaked up all the liquid.
9. Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Pecan Tarts


Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Yesterday, I made this...a yummy, gooey, nutty version of pecan tarts. I like my pecan tarts with LOTS of pecans and not too sweet. This tart fit that bill perfectly :-) And yes, I cheated. I used premade tart crusts. But one has got to prioritize when making a full on Thanksgiving dinner, right?

24 tart crusts
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1. Mix sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, butter, eggs and salt.
2. Fill tarts with chopped pecans (about halfway full)
3. Slowly fill the tarts with the gooey mixture.
4. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
5. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or nothing!

So good!!!

Banana Oat Bread



The hubby doesn't like it when banana bread is too banana-y (they should add that word to the Mirriam and Webster dictionary). I tried this recipe and he liked it much more than this one. Plus this one kept for much longer and stayed moist for days.

I've been leaning toward quick breads that use oil as the fat rather than those with butter. I find that they stay fresh much longer and don't get tough when refrigerated. Don't get me wrong, butter is irreplaceable in some cakes, cookies, scones, short breads and whole host of baked goodies, but quick breads have so many other flavors that you don't really miss the richness that butter gives.'s the recipe.

3 cups flour (I used half all purpose and half whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 cup whole rolled oats
1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil.
3. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
4. Mix in bananas and buttermilk.
5. Divide batter between two 9x5 loaf pans.
6. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Zucchini muffins


I have to confess, I don't really care much for zucchinis. So when my weekly vegetable delivery service dropped off 4 zucchinis, I knew I had to get creative or to the compost bin they would go. These resulting muffins were moist, tender and kept very well for several days. The boys really liked them and were surprised that those lovely green bits were actually bits of zucchini!

1 3/4 cups flour (I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini (don't drain!)

1. Whisk the first 5 ingredients together.
2. In another bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil.
3. Add the zucchini.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. You don't want to develop the gluten in the flour otherwise, your muffin will become tough.
5. Fill muffin cups.
6. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

This recipe made 12 regular-sized muffins.

Shrimp Curry


This Chinese-style curry is very mild but very flavorful. Just make sure you get Chinese-style curry powder and not the Indian one because Indian curries tend to have quite a bit of heat.

The original recipe I found called for crabs but I didn't want to cook anything so messy since we were going to serve it for dinner along with a few other dishes. So I improvised and this shrimp version was a hit!

A few tips...this dish comes together very quickly so have all the ingredients ready before you start. Also, use high heat to stir fry so that the veggies and shrimp stay crisp and sweet.

3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons curry
1/4 lb lean ground pork

500-600 grams large shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 medium green bell pepper cut into squares
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
2. Season the ground pork with salt, sugar and curry powder. Mix well and set aside.
3. In a wok or large pan, saute the garlic until light brown.
4. Add the pork and saute until no longer pink.
5. Add the onions and green peppers and stir-fry for a minute or so.
6. Add the shrimp and saute just until pink.
7. Add the sauce mixture and mix until thick.
8. Stir in the beaten egg and cook for a few seconds more.

This dish is best served with lots of white rice to sop up all that wonderful sauce!

Chicken Lettuce Cups


Another post with no exact proportions...

But, lots of pics!

Cast of characters:


lean ground chicken, chopped carrots and celery, sliced green onions, chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, ground pepper, iceberg lettuce

1. Saute green onions, celery and carrots until soft.
2. Add garlic and grated ginger. Saute until garlic is soft.
3. Add ground chicken. Cook until no longer pink.
4. Add mushrooms.
5. Season with hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, pepper, and sesame oil.
6. Keep sauteing until all the liquid is absorbed and you end up with this:


Meanwhile, pull lettuce leaves apart very gently. I must say, this is probably the hardest part of this recipe! If you are so inclined, like I was, trim to perfect little so:


To serve, place some chicken into the lettuce cup and enjoy!

Braised lamb shanks


I didn't write this recipe down (again!) but it was very, very good! If I remember correctly, it was just a basic braise.

Season meat. Brown. Remove from pot. Saute the mirepoix. Add one cinammon stick, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary. Put meat back in. Add whole tomatoes in juice. Cover and braise for a couple of hours. Remove meat. Stick under broiler while thickening the sauce. Serve with carbs of choice, in this case roasted carrots, roasted yams and herbed rice.

Sorry no proportions!