Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Some more of our pictures from the ghost tour...









The Daring Bakers are daring and baking without me this month.

D'oh! What the hell happened to October? How can it possibly be over????????

I've messed up and run out of time to participate in this months Daring Bakers challenge. Yep, I suck.

Sorry Mary!

Please head over to The Daring Bakers Blogroll and check out everyone's dessert. This month it's a yummy looking Bostini Cream Pie.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Presto Pasta Nights - Mushroom Parmesan, sorta.

I have to start this off by apologizing for pictures that are worse than usual. Our camera seems to be dying a slow and painful death and is making every picture either blurry or yellow. Sorry for the ugly.

Last week I saw this great recipe for mushroom Parmesan over at Mixed Salad Annie. It had been a while since we'd made baked portobello mushrooms - I'd totally forgotten how super wonderful they are. I've been in the mood for pasta lately, so I combined baked mushrooms and pasta into a faux Mushroom Parm. Why faux? Well, I forgot to use Parmesan cheese. But I'm keeping the name because Mushroom Parmesan sounds better than Baked Mushrooms and pasta. To me. Right now.

I used a package of 6 medium sized portobello mushrooms, 1/2 an onion, 3 cloves garlic, some oil, mozzarella cheese, 1 jar pasta sauce, and spaghetti noodles.

I cleaned my mushrooms - I wiped them with a damp paper towel, then removed the stems and the black gills. When they were ready I diced my onions and garlic, then heated some oil in a pan. I added the onion, garlic and 3 mushrooms and cooked the mushrooms on both sides until they were softening. I set aside the mushrooms and the onion and garlic and cooked the other three portobellos. I divided the jar of pasta sauce into thirds. One third was spread over the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. I added the mushrooms, stem side up, and topped them with the cooked onion and garlic. One third of the sauce was spooned over top of the mushrooms, then the mushrooms were topped with grated mozzarella cheese. I baked the dish at 425 until the mushrooms were tender and the cheese lightly browned, 20 minutes or so.


Just before the mushrooms were done I cooked the pasta noodles and warmed up the final third of the sauce. Toss the spaghetti and sauce together. Place some spaghetti on each plate and top with one (or more) mushrooms.


This is a perfect dish for portobellos, they go so well with tomatos and pasta. Mmmm! I wish there had been leftovers, I could go for some right now. And did you know that mushrooms are a good source of potassium and riboflavin? They are also low in carbs, calories and fat. Well, at least until you fry them in oil and cover them in cheese...

Check out the weekly round up of Presto Pasta Nights on Friday at Once Upon a Feast.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Indian Food in a jiffy

If before last night you tried to tell me it was possible to make high quality Indian food in your home in 30 minutes. I would have called you a liar. And maybe pulled your hair a little.

But now! I have seen the light, and it is called Gourmantra.

Gourmantra is a family run company from Ontario that was started by Rekha Prasad and her two daughters. They have created 4 meal kits containing the spices and sauces needed to make authentic Indian food in your very own kitchen.

I was lucky enough to receive a kit to make Butter Chicken, one of my favorite Indian dishes.
Here's what the kit contained:

We've got rice, ginger and garlic puree, tomato puree, and butter chicken spice blend. All you need to have at home is oil, chicken, water and cream.

The directions are clear and easy to follow. In just under 30 minutes I had a pot of basmati rice and a pan of the most wonderful smelling butter chicken. The sauce on the chicken was fantastic - spicy, but not over the top, and so flavorful. The kit (which says it makes 3-4 servings) easily fed all 4 of us. Although at first I thought that perhaps there was too much sauce for the chicken, we scraped that pot clean.

In addition to the Butter Chicken, Gourmantra also has kits for Channa Masala (chickpeas), Tandoori, and Korma, for which you could use whatever meat/vegetable you so desire.

I was sorely disappointed to learn that currently these kits are only available for sale in Ontario. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the company will (soon!) be selling their great products out West too.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 21 - Halloween! Round up.



Hello hello! The round up for WCC 21 is up. Please check it out.

Thanks to Michelle for hosting this month, and to Cady for hosting in November!

Sausage and Beans - JO Stylie.

This is another recipe I've cobbled together from an episode of Jamie Olivers new show Jamie at Home. I'm in love with this series. He's cooking some great simple food and I am coveting his garden and his outdoor oven. They are both stunning. This is old - I think I made this back in May but I just found the pictures and my recipe notes. I'm surprised I forgot about this one, we enjoyed it very much. I am not feeling too creative right now, so I've named this dish....

Sausage and Beans

250 g black eyed peas

soak the beans in lots of cold water overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a large pot and cover with fresh water. Add to the pot:

1 whole head of garlic, top cut off
2 roma tomatos, cut in half
1 red or white skinned potato, cut in half



Simmer the beans, covered, until tender. 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Remove from heat.

Remove the tomatos, garlic and potato from the pot and set aside. Place about 1/3 of the beans and 1/2 cup of cooking liquid in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Remove the skins from the tomato and potato and add the tomato and potato to the bowl. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skin and add that as well. Mash again, adding more cooking liquid if needed to smooth the mixture out. Season with salt and pepper and olive oil. Drain the remaining beans and stir in. Taste and season again if needed. (I didn't think of this until now, but if you had some fresh rosemary, that would be wonderful to add.)



Et voila! You have a big bowl of mouthwatering beans. Then we bbq'd up some turkey sausages and made a fancy plate:

;

Mmmmmmmm! Can't wait to see his show again. I've been watching more Food Network again lately; I'm enjoying it more than I was a year ago. I've been watching (OK this is going to make me sound like I do nothing but sit in front of the TV, but I swear I don't!) Ace of Cakes, Chef at Home, Food Jammers, anything with Jamie Oliver, anything with Nigella Lawson, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Glutton for Punishment, and Barefoot Contessa. Mostly though, I've been MISSING Rob Feenie. Food Network, bring back my Feenie!
What about you? Do you watch Food Network? If so what programs are you watching? What don't you like? What shows aren't on any more that you miss?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Things I have eaten at the Farmers Markets here in Kamloops that I want to make at home.

Italian Wedding Soup($5) and grilled garlic bread

Bannock. ($2.50)


Soft polenta with tomato-meat sauce and cheese ($5)


If you've got a recipe for any of the above, please email me the link! I'll love you forever.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Presto Pasta Nights - Rapini and Pasta

Kamloops has a great Farmers Market and we've gone every Saturday since we got here, and one Wednesday market too. I bought my very first bunch of Rapini a couple of Saturdays ago for $1.00. The lady next to me was buying 6 bunches and she told me to chop up the rapini and saute in with garlic in some olive oil. That sounded good, and easy, but I've always wanted to try the rapini with pasta.

Here's my bunch of rapini. I trimmed the ends and got rid of a couple of stalks that were yellowing. Then I chopped it up.


I sauteed the rapini with 3 cloves of minced garlic and 1 finely chopped hot pepper in some olive oil, then added 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered everything until the sauce was reduced and the rapini was tender.


I added 125 grams of crumbled feta cheese and cooked (obviously) whole wheat rotini. Toss, season with salt and pepper, and serve.



Pretty easy, pretty fast, and pretty good for you. I'm sending this to Ruth for Presto Pasta Nights. Check with her on Friday for the weekly round-up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Broken Cookies Don't Have Calories

It has been ages, or maybe 3 months, since I've taken part in the Food for Thought Cooking Club. I missed out on some good recipes, but when I saw that this month was cookies I knew that nothing could stop me from some time in the kitchen.

The cookies we were to make are from the show Sugar hosted by Anna Olson. I've never watched her show - I don't bake much - but she's got a couple of shows, books, and a bakery so you know that her recipes are gonna be good. Chocolate Cookies a la Anna Olson is different than other cookie recipes I have tried - the cookies have cornstarch in the recipe to make the cookies soft and chewy. I don't know about you, but I prefer chewy chocolate chip cookies to crisp ones myself.


These are some delicious cookies. They were fast to make, and I love that the recipe uses chocolate cut into chunks instead of chocolate chips - there were some little pieces of chocolate and lots of big pieces, which of course are the best. I liked the taste of the bittersweet chocolate in the cookie - I've always used milk chocolate but I think I'm going to make a change to bittersweet for future cookie recipes. .All 3 of my testers thought they were great - and how could they not?

Get in the kitchen and give these a try - I bet you'll love them. If you want to take part in this month's cooking club, email your post to Catherine by October 31.

Friday, October 12, 2007

“A savage place! as holy and enchanted / As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted / By woman wailing for her demon lover!” Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

In the summer, Scott and I were lucky enough to hear about a very cool company in Calgary that does walking tours of different parts of Calgary. But they're not any old walking tour.....they're Ghost Tours.

Calgary Ghost Tours was stared by Johanna, a smart and talented lady from Calgary who a couple of years back went on a haunted walking tour in Boston, Ma. She loved it so much that she started researching haunted stories in Calgary and developed a walking tour to take her friends and family on. When it was suggested that she make this more than a hobby, Calgary Ghost Tours was born.

In the summer two tours were offered in Calgary. One of Downtown Calgary, and one of the Inglewood area. We chose the Inglewood tour on Johanna's suggestion as there are many spooky restaurant stories in that area.

The tour, led by a guide in a hooded robe and carrying a lantern, is fascinating and creepy. We visited a church where, in the 1930's an unmarried pregnant girl leapt to her death. Residents in the area see her and hear the church bells ringing. But, there are no church bells at the church.

We also visited a pub where two spirits - a male and female - are regularly seen sitting at one of the window tables. Staff have also reported feeling a presence in one of the back rooms. Some employees feel the spirit is not friendly and refuse to enter parts of the pub alone.

Another pub down the road is a former fire hall. The firemen once had a pet monkey named Jacko who had to be put down after he bit a child. He was buried on the property - where the restaurant patio is now. Jacko's presence can still be felt in the pub however; the beer taps have been known to turn themselves on and off; one of the toilets in the ladies washroom flushes when no one is there; and if you are playing pool, don't turn your back on the table. You may find the pool balls are not in the same position they were.

There is also a small restaurant in the area that is built from building materials salvaged from old buildings. Staff have reported finding all the coffee cups lined up on the floor in a row when arriving for the morning shift. Employees and patrons have also reported hearing footsteps coming from the second floor. The only problem with that is that there is no second floor!

One of the most beautiful houses in Calgary is the Cross House, which is now home to Rouge Restaurant. Owned by A.E. Cross, who was one of the "Big Four" that started the Calgary Stampede, the house and garden are lovely. And full of spirits. Two of their small children who passed away in the house due to illness can be seen from time to time playing in front of the fireplace. It has been said that the ghost of Mrs. Cross can be seen sitting in the window upstairs, waiting for her husband to come home.


The Deane House is one of the highlights of the tour. Also a restaurant, the house was built in the early 1900's as a residence for the head of the North West Mounted Police. The stories and hauntings of this place are too numerous to tell you. It is one eerie, but beautiful place.




This was an amazing way to spend a couple of hours and we had a blast. Our tour guide was beyond informative, and a wonderful storyteller. No one on our tour saw anything amiss, but it has happened on other tours. I was absolutely spellbound the whole 90 minutes. And a little freaked out when I downloaded my pictures the next day. Pictures I'd taken at two locations - one that reported to be the most haunted, and the other that scared me the most (I swear, inwardly I was FREAKING OUT at that stop) - did not turn out. Some were blurry, and some were completely black. The rest of the pictures? Perfectly fine.

Calgary Ghost Tours are running through the end of October. What better time to go on a spooky walk than just before Halloween? Visit their website for more information.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

del.icio.us recipe of the week - Pretzels!! Made with my own two hands!!!!!!!

Written before we left Calgary.....

After my recent foccacia success , I was just itching to get in the kitchen again and continue my winning bread-product-baking streak. I flipped through my handful of remaining cookbooks (most are already in BC) for a relatively easy bread or bun recipe, but came up with nothing. I checked out the Internet. Google gave me nothing. I really wanted to try Mary's Hamburger buns but I don't have potato flakes or know where to get them. And then while searching thru my del.icio.us files, I found it; the perfect recipe to try - the recipe that started the whole Daring Bakers group - the Pretzel Recipe!

The ingredients were all in my cupboard so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I used my stand mixer and followed the directions. My dough was quite stiff, not "quite slack" as the recipe stated. I tried adding some more water, but that didn't go well. I could feel my enthusiasm fading; this was going to end up like all the other times I failed at bread making. I left the dough to rise for 30 minutes, and when I came back it looked exactly the same as it had when I left the room. I gave it an additional 30 minutes, but not much happened.

I did not have a good feeling about this.

I divided the dough into 8, rolled the first piece out into a rope and formed a pretzel. After dunking the pretzel in the water/baking soda mixture I looked at what I had just made.


Umm. That's a bow, not a pretzel. I had to go turn the computer back on and Google pretzels to see what shape they were supposed to be. Hi, I am a dork.

Once I got the shape less crappy perfect and the pretzels dunked in the water/soda I sprinkled 4 of them with coarse salt and 4 with garlic salt.


Almost pretty!

I gotta say, even with the stiff dough and the no rising, these suckers were amazing. And so easy, I could not believe it. I did forget to brush them with butter when they were done, only because I was so excited that they turned out OK. I don't think they were lacking in any way though. When I make these again, I'm going to top some with rosemary and garlic, maybe some with cheese and garlic. If you've got a couple of hours to kill and you want to spend some time in the kitchen, this recipe is a perfect choice.

Recipe: Hot Buttered Pretzels.


del.icio.us recipe update - as of today - 201 recipes!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Juicer and NaBloPoMo

A couple of weeks ago I told you that we'd received a juicer. I've been having a wonderful time with it, juicing pretty much everything in sight.

Here's our juicer. Sorry for the poor photos, our camera is being more of a shit than usual. The juicer is a Breville:


It came with some recipes so we thought we'd start off with some of those as opposed to making up our own flavors. (We went to a juice bar once in Vancouver and I ordered some juice, I can't remember what was in it, but it was all ingredients I liked. My first sip literally brought tears to my eyes, it was so awful. I was afraid that would happen if I experimented too much.)

The first juice recipe we picked was for beets and carrots, but we decided to add some apples. We used 2 apples, 3 beets and enough carrots from the garden in Calgary to approximate 2 regular size carrots.

The color is beautiful, if a bit off putting. The camera is not showing how RED this juice was. This would have been a good recipe for WCC 21 - Halloween. I could have called it Vampires Blood or something.


We cleaned the machine and tried a tomato based drink. We juiced 2 tomatos, 2 stalks of celery, 1 peeled lime and 1 carrot.


The color on this one was not pretty at all, but the flavors were so bright. This would be cool to serve in little shot glasses as an appetizer on a warm day, like the "Tomato Juice".


We juiced some nectarines we needed to get rid of before the move, and wow, was that ever good. It was almost velvety in texture and taste.

We've also made a few batches of just straight apple juice. I haven't had apple juice since I was small. Freshly juiced apple juice is about 1 TRILLION times better than any crap that comes out of a carton. I have seen the light!

One of the small markets here had Mac apples on for 49 cents a pound so we've introduced my parents to juicing too. My Mom made her first juice - apple, pear and peach - on the weekend.

As much as I love my juicer, throwing out the pulp really bothers me. The pamphlet gives some ideas for using certain pulps in recipes, but nothing that is interesting or inspiring me. Does anyone out there have a similar juicer? What do you do with the pulp?


In other news, I have gone certifiably insane and signed myself up for NaBloPoMo, aka National Blog Posting Month. WTF you say? It's simple. Just post on your blog every day in the month of November. Want to join me? You totally should! And then we can be in over our heads together!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 21 - Halloween!

OK, first off, take a look at this totally adorable and amazing logo that Michelle from Je Mange La Ville made up for her round of hosting Weekend Cookbook Challenge:



Ahhh! My eyes are blinded by the wonderfulness!

Michelle chose Halloween to be her theme this month, and I decided to do something with apples, as apples used to be what all kids hated to receive for a treat on Halloween.

I figured I'd end up making an apple dessert, but came across this savory apple dish that just called my name. I made it before we moved, for brunch to celebrate Scott's last day of work. My WCC submission is Pam's Ham and Apple Breakfast Pie.


Pam's Ham and Apple Breakfast Pie
adapted from Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork: A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat

Crust

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tb cold butter cut into pieces
3 tb cold water

Filling

oil to coat baking pan
5 granny smith apples peeled cored and thinly sliced
2 tb cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
200 g ham, chopped (I used deli ham)

Stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, then add the water and stir until just combined. Knead the dough gently until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to350'. Lightly oil a 9 or 10" pie plate or baking dish. Toss together the filling ingredients. Pour the filling into the baking dish. Roll out the pastry and cover the dish. Make a few slits in the crust for steam. Bake for 50 minutes until the crust is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


I am not a fan of pies because I don't like crust. I didn't like this crust either. It was difficult to work with - you can see in the top picture it's basically just a bunch of scraps of dough - and not much in the taste department either. The filling is fantastic though and I was glad I tried this. It would be a super brunch dish to have on a cold day when you don't have to go outside. I will look for a better crust recipe, then try this again.

Get your Halloween themed post to Michelle by October 21 to take part in the scary fun. Michelle's email is mlb at jemangelaville dot com.

Friday, October 05, 2007

i like to cook has landed!

....in our new temporary home in BC.

We arrived sort of late on Sunday night...who knew that there was so much to do when vacating the house you sold?

I've been back in the kitchen finally! Tuesday we made Pasta with Myzithra Cheese. Wednesday night I made chicken and biscuits with some leftover chicken from Sunday. I found a great recipe at Epicuirous. We made some changes and it turned out super. The biscuits were the best I'd ever made. And we forgot to take pictures until we were almost done eating. Durn.

Here's the original recipe.

Chicken and Biscuits with no pictures.
altered slightly from Epicurious.

Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tb butter cut into small pieces ( I think we used 7 or 8 or more tb, I just eyed it)
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450'. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the butter until it is in small crumbs. Add the milks and stir just to combine. Move dough onto a floured surface and knead gently for a couple of minutes. Pat into a circle about 1/2" thick and cut into 6 wedges. Place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Chicken and gravy

3 tb vegetable oil
2 carrots, washed and diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
salt
pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 tb flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup of a mixture of milk and buttermilk
3 cups chopped chicken

Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the veggies until tender but not brown. Season with salt and pepper and add the sage. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is thickening, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and buttermilk and the chicken and simmer until the chicken is hot, about 4or 5 more minutes.

Place a split biscuit on your plate, top with chicken and gravy, EAT!

Just wait until I have time to tell you what I made for dinner last night. Oh baby, was it goooooood.


I was going through all my emails last night and I think I'd better take part in a meme I was tagged for wayyyyyy back in July by Shaun. Sorry it took me so long! Shaun's passed me the torch on a meme called 7 Random Cookery Books. I panicked last week at the thought of all my cookbooks being packed up for who-knows-how-long and I grabbed some books to bring with me, totally forgetting that half of my cookbooks had been packed up in the summer and are being stored at my parents house. So I'll adjust Shauns meme slightly and tell you about the four cookery books I brought with me in the car on the weekend.


Super Natural Cooking. I received Heidi Swanson's book this summer as a very thoughtful gift from Mary. I've read it cover to cover but haven't made anything out of it yet. Lots of pages marked though. I'm a bit worried about being able to find some ingredients - like Mesquite flour for the Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.


Simply in Season. I bought this book a week before we moved, using the last of my credits at the used book store by my work. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but from the recipes I glanced at before I bought it, it looks like a good one. I really want to try the recipe for Naan bread.


Feast. Love Nigella, and this is my favorite of her books. All of the recipes I've made from this book have been perfect, a rare treat.


Tofu 1-2-3. Ideally I'd like to get our meat consumption down to only a couple of days a week. This book is a great help. I'll be cooking from this one next week. And if you think you don't like tofu, make yourself a batch of Tofu Chocolate Mousse. Soooo good.

Alrighty, I'm off! Have a great day, I am hoping to have some time to catch up with your blogs this weekend.