Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chicken with Coconut Lime Peanut Sauce

You'll be seeing other Thai-inspired meals shortly, but since I've now made this dish twice in the last month it was time to post it. Ruedi and I prepared this dish for extended family and their neighbours without any knowledge of food preferences. Luckily their weren't any allergies to consider, but we felt pretty confident they would love the meal. They did!

Adapted from:

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 T Thai red curry paste
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 t toasted sesame oil
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch cinnamon

The Chicken:

  • 1 t canola oil
  • 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus

Garnishes: cilantro, toasted peanuts, green onion and/or toasted coconut flakes.
Sauce: In a medium bowl whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, curry paste, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, honey and spices to form a sauce. Taste and change anything if you want to. Set aside.
Chicken: Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until softened. Add chicken, cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally for even cooking. Stir sauce into the chicken. Partially cover and simmer for about 5 minutes to let the flavours combine. Add asparagus during the last few minutes of cook time.
Serve with garnishes mentioned above.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

  • In the interest of using up the canned pumpkin from my pumpkin pudding experiment, I threw it into a pot with some oats, spices etc. and savoured every bite of it. I discovered this idea last year when surfing for other pumpkin recipes and thought this was marvellous. Chopped up walnuts, hazelnuts and dried fruit would spice this recipe up even more.

  •     ·      1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
·      3/4 cup water, or as needed
·      2 T milk 
·      1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
·      1/2 t cinnamon
·      1/4 t cardamom
·      1/4 t ground ginger
·      1/4 t nutmeg

·      2 T maple syrup
·      Handful of nuts (I used almonds)
·      Yoghurt to top

  • Mix the oats and water in a pot on medium heat letting the oats absorb the water. Add the pumpkin puree, spices, nuts and syrup, stirring well. If dry, add a the two tablespoons of milk to moisten the mixture. Top with yoghurt and a few more nuts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chinese Braised Beef with Carrots

I love stews and injecting a little Asian influence into a classic reinvents this Western dish. Although I have access to a number of great Asian markets, I opted not to make the trip and used like-ingredients such as sherry in lieu of the Chinese cooking wine and five individual spices instead of the Chinese five spice blend. If you cut the beef into smaller cubes and adjust the cooking time down a few minutes, your beef will absorb more of the surrounding flavour.
Adapted From:
  • 2 lbs beef chuck steak, cut into large cubes
  • olive oil for frying
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5-6 green onions, thinly sliced and separated into white and green parts
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cm (1-2 inches) piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 t Chinese five-spice powder (fennel, anise, cloves, cinnamon, pepper)
  • 3 T Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (you better believe I went with the sherry)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 T soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 t light brown sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 3 large carrots, sliced thickly
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large, oven-proof pan (such as a Le Creuset pot) over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in batches and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add more oil between batches if necessary.
Once you have finished browning all of the meat, add to the pan the garlic, white part of the spring onions, chilli, ginger and Chinese five-spice powder. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Pour in the Shaoxing rice wine and let it bubble away for about a minute, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to make sure that any bits which have stuck to the pan are dissolved in the wine.
Return the meat to the pan, together with any juices which have collected while it has been resting. Sprinkle over the flour and stir everything together until the flour is dissolved and the liquid in the pan starts to thicken.
Pour in the beef stock and soy sauce. Add the sugar, pepper and carrots. Mix everything together well. Place the lid on the pan and put the pan into the oven for about 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so. Alternatively, you can cook this on the stove-top over low heat, making sure that you stir regularly.
The beef is done when it is soft and easily falls apart when pierced with a fork. Taste the sauce for seasoning and see if you want to add more soy sauce. If you would like to have more sauce, you can add some boiling water to the stew, though you might have to thicken it with some cornflour if the sauce is too thin.
I like to serve this stew with a good sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro, green spring onions (scallions) and some finely sliced red chillies for more kick. Serve with steamed Jasmine rice and some steamed green veggies, such as broccoli, on the side.

Cider Roasted Carrots & Apples

I did it again! I managed to make a meal from odds and ends around the house! Man, this should become a reality show cooking challenge. I am on to something.

I am a meal planner and enjoy looking forward to my next meal. Perhaps this is a little unhealthy at times, but this is my thing. Last night I couldn't think of what to eat or where to go to eat if all else failed. I just wasn't inspired. We had a little leftover chicken, some salami, a few old vegetables and some herbs remaining from past menus. My leftover cabbage was sautéed with butter, a few greens onions, salt and ground pepper. The chicken was cut into smaller pieces and thrown in our cast iron skillet with slices of salami to spice things up. The carrots I forgot to take to lunch this week were tossed with apple slices in a mix of olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, rosemary and roasted to round out the meal. They were a delicious and modernized take on the orange-glazed carrots my mom used to make for us as kids. Hooray for scraps!


  • 1 lb baby carrots, peeled and tops removed
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • 1 T honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F
In a large bowl toss carrots and apples in olive oil and rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer carrots and apples to a medium roasting dish and pour apple cider over top. Cover with foil and roast for 15 minutes. Remove foil and drizzle carrots with honey. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, until carrots are tender and liquid has reduced. Serve warm, drizzled with sauce.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fennel & Parmesan Salad

If a recipe calls for rice and doesn't specify that it should be cooked, do you assume you need to cook the rice? I didn't and ended up with a charred casserole. Despite adding a few cups of stock to the mix before putting it in the oven, the rice won over and took the casserole to its death. Man, it was a good one too. We'll shoot for version 2.0 of it next week. In the meantime, this light and lovely salad was to go with it. Score on the salad. 


Serves 4

  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved paper thin with a mandoline or meat slicer
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 t of chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 T chopped flat-leafed parsley
  • 2 T shaved Parmesan cheese

Carrot & Dill Soup

This was part of last week's cooking rampage and I was expecting cold weather would accompany the soup and stew I made. No such luck; we had some of the mildest temperatures on record. Didn't stop me from gobbling up the soup. 

Adapted From:


  • 2 T butter
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 5 cups chopped carrots
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

    3/4 cup of buttermilk

In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter over medium heat; cook celery, onions, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add carrots; cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add stock and bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 35 minutes.

In food processor or blender, puree soup in batches. If you've got a hand mixer, pat yourself on the back for your swift decision and use that bad boy! Add in the dill mixing will and serve.

Baked Pumpkin & Sour Cream Pudding

I really am trying to deviate from Deb Perelman's food blog, but her photography and recipes beg to be made. This recipe is no exception. Between this post, and tonight's mix of lamb-stuffed eggplants, carrot soup and fennel salad I realize that I may need to pick a direction for future meals. This menu is all over the place. No regrets tonight though as far as I'm concerned. Somehow all of these flavours haven't detracted from each other.

Makes approximately 8, 1/2 cup servings

1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (unsweetened; not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t table salt
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.
The quickest method: In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the pudding ingredients.
For creamier, silkier puddings: Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Transfer to a saucepan and heat over medium-high. Once simmering in the pot, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture will thicken and get a bit darker. Reduce heat slightly and whisk in milk and cream. Off the heat, slowly whisk in eggs.
Both methods: Divide between 7 to 8 ovenproof 5-ounce pudding cups or ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until puddings barely jiggle when shimmied and/or a knife tip inserted into the center of puddings comes out clean. Try not to overbake.
While they bake, combine topping ingredients in a small bowl. When the puddings are cooked through, transfer to a cooling rack on the counter and leave oven on. Spoon 2 tablespoons of sour cream mixture onto first pudding and use a small offset spatula, butter knife or spoon to quickly (it will get melty fast) spread it over the top of the first pudding. Repeat with remaining puddings.
Return puddings to oven for 5 more minutes, then cool completely at room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours. Chill until ready to serve. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

Confessions of a Bisquick user. Yes, that's right, this recipe came from the back of a box Bisquick-brand biscuit mix. You know, I'm not sure I'd bother buying it again, but I was keen to see whether it made my life a littler easier...guess it did. Anyways, this recipe is basically just biscuits with strawberries and whipped cream layered onto them. Nothing fancy going on here, so enjoy the pride that comes with making something delicious, in as little time as possible. I will be trying these again with a biscuit from scratch so I can compare the two. 


  • 4 cups strawberries, sliced

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 4 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • tablespoons sugar
  • tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Heat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, mix strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by 6 spoonfuls.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw & Carnitas

  I've made pulled pork in a crockpot earlier this year, but was keen to try baking it in the oven in order to get that crispy surface area that makes pulled pork so noteworthy. Even with a dry rub, the pork retained quite a bit of moisture. It looks like a lump a charred turd once cooked, but should fall apart easily with a little prodding from your fork and knife and I can assure you, this will be the best turd you've ever prepared! Our first meal with it was a simple sandwich with plum chutney as a sauce. If you have soft buns (lunges will help!) and barbecue sauce, I can only assume you would moan at the pulled pork sandwich combo Paula Deen puts together on her recipe available through the coleslaw link below.

Serves 8


  •  3.5 lbs. pork shoulder (bone in)

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
1 T chili powder

  • 1 T cumin

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 T smoked paprika

  1. To make the rub, thoroughly mix together the brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and cayenne.
  2. Pat dry the pork shoulder and then liberally apply the rub to all sides. Place in a leak-proof container. Cover and refrigerate for as long as 24 hours, or as little as overnight. It will give up a cup or more of liquid so make sure your container is big enough to prevent spillage.
  3. Remove the shoulder from refrigerator, brush off any excess or caked on rub. Move to a clean roasting pan with the fat side up.
  4. Heat the oven to 275F. Place in the oven and let roast for 9 hours. Yes, I’m serious about it taking that long. After about 3 hours, there will be enough fat rendered to allow you to baste the shoulder every 1 to 2 hours. With a large spoon simply pour the rendered fat over the shoulder.
  5. You will know it’s ready because the outside of the shoulder is extremely dark, nearly burned looking. The pork should pull easily from the bone and the fat/skin on the top should be nearly crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 min. Using a pair of forks or very clean hands pull the pork away from the bone. This should be very easy to do.
  7. Serve on a bun with bbq sauce, on tortillas..this list goes on!

Buttermilk Coleslaw Recipe:

Serves 6

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1½ T Dijon mustard
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • ½ t celery salt
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about ½ head)
  • 4 cups finely shredded purple cabbage (about ½ head)
  • 2 large carrots, grated

Whisk together the mayo, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery salt, kosher salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cabbages and carrots and toss to combine. Cover and chill until serving time.

 The following night, we made carnitas with the pork. I opted for tortillas from the Argyll Foods on 63 Avenue. Their little corn tortillas are made with masa flour and make all the difference as far as flavour is concerned. With tomatillo salsa, avocado slices, cilantro and a little sour cream, these were delicious little meals. 

Tomatillo Salsa


  • 4 tomatillos, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 large red onion, diced
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simply combine the ingredients and serve. Tomatillos are firm in texture and not as juicy as a tomato, so don't be surprised when you slice them open. I remove the seeds from one half of the pepper and leave the seeds from the other half in. This gives me a medium salsa.


As far as the carnitas are concerned, heat your tortilla shells in a dry frying pan on high heat for a minute on each side. Pile as much sour cream, avocado, pork, salsa and other treats that you can handle on top and eat carefully: These babies are messy.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I have mentioned before that I have a love for beef. I am Canadian and better yet an Albertan so meat often comes with the territory. At a young age I became aware that the cow was not so much a friend, but an entree. These days I enjoy meatless dishes and other meats as well, but I will always be partial to steak.

Okay, okay I got a little off track there. This post is actually about cheese. It ranks second among my favorite foods. I like 'em stinky, ripe, soft and/or hard...still talking about cheese here. After purchasing a crossbow (lord, that's another story), we ventured further west to a new cheese shop called Everything Cheese to pick up a few samples. In the center we have a little Roquefort Blue, one the far left some Tomme de Savoie, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar and Bothee on the right. Anchovy-stuffed olives and some spicy and mild salami round out this plate. Apparently we get a kick out of abusing our digestive tracks as there are no fresh vegetables in sight. 

Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble

Why don't you hop on the dessert train like I did? I'll tell you why might want to rethink this little engine that could: my pants are getting irritatingly tight. I have one more dessert post for the month and then I'm going to cool it for a little. I guess the problem isn't that I make these desserts, it's that I eat them...and the leftovers...again and again. Dear lord, where did I put my restraint? Perhaps in my tight pants.

This recipe is a winner and I couldn't say no to the use of gingersnaps. I had some leftover from my cheesecake recipe. I used the same excuse for my strawberry shortcake recipe which you will see shortly (get it?!). I bought instant biscuit mix the other day and had quite a bit left over. Don't bother buying instant biscuit mix, by the way. I can't imagine it would save you any time. Unfortunately for me, the back of the box included a number of gut-busting recipes and I just couldn't help myself. 

Oh right, we're here to talk about ginger, pear and something crumble.  Here's the scoop:



1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 T (37 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (about 16 store bought cookies)
1/8 t ground ginger
1/8 t table salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 to 5 large ripe pears (I used Anjou, suggested in the original recipe) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t finely grated lemon zest
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
In a 9 inch baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan. 
Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. Serve with whipping or ice cream. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Basil, Goat Cheese, Tuna, Red Pepper, Spinach and Mozzarella Orzo

I might obsess about food a little...

Mmm, maybe a lot. I don't know of too many individuals that mull over their meal plans as much as I do, although I know my female colleagues definitely talk about what they should have for dinner near the end of the day. If I don't have a stocked fridge, I feel naked in the food department. At times like this you may here remarks such as:
"Well, I guess I should just raid the vending machine, because that's as good as it gets tonight for this cook".

The reality is usually quite different, although I didn't feel that way when I got home last night. We had goat cheese, mozzarella, rice, orzo, old spinach, two red peppers, half an old shallot, some fresh basil I had forgotten about and many other ingredients. I had been dying to do something with a can of tuna we bought for a backcountry hike and never used, so this recipe took shape pretty quickly. 

My new cast iron skillet (perfect murder weapon, by the way) was coated with olive oil so that the garlic and shallots could saute themselves silly. While this was happening, I let the red pepper roast face down on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the garlic and shallots were sauteed, I added the goat cheese and chicken stock to the pan. Once the cheese had melted the orzo went in and was tossed to mix with the cheese sauce. The spinach, chopped roasted red pepper and tuna followed about 2 minutes later to mix with the other flavours. I topped this off with some grated mozzarella and basil and mixed them in well. Salt and pepper was added to taste. Call it a modern day tuna casserole.

Serves 4-6


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 150g of goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo cooked
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3 T basil, chopped
  • 1 can of tuna
  • salt and pepper

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lentil, basil, pinenut & heirloom tomato salad

This salad is not unlike a lentil salad I made earlier this year, but the addition of toasted pine nuts and celery change the dimensions a bit. We enjoyed this with the chicken soup I just posted and last night's leftover cheesecake. 

Adapted from:

1 cup dry french lentils
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced in quarters
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 T chopped fresh basil

2 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup mozarella cheese cut into cubes

Cook lentils according to package instructions. Rinse and let cool. Combine all ingredients and serve immediately.