Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo Tarts

Occasionally my husband and I don’t feel like cooking so we do a bread and cheese night with nibbles. He’ll bake some fabulous bread like Ciabatta. I usually pick up some things to throw in the oven. One of my favourites was a mushroom tart with golden phyllo dough. But it looks like they don’t sell them anymore! How hard can it be to recreate? Luckily making Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo Tarts is easy and quick to put together. Which is the whole point if you aren’t in the mood to cook but need to eat.

When we moved into our rental we transplanted a lot of plants from our old house. A lot of the soil lacks nutrients, unfortunately and we’ve been contending with a woodchuck. Boy is that animal hungry! We’ve been putting down blood meal and hot pepper sauce but with the crazy amount of rain we’ve been having, it gets washed away. The one area that is doing well, is our herb bed. I’ve never had as much luck as we’re having. The sage plant seems to be trying for some sort of championship. We have lots of thyme and it’s perfect in this dish.

Technique for Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo Tarts

Pre heat the oven to 350F/175C.

Heat up the oil in the skillet. Sautè the mushrooms until they start to brown. Cook for a minute or two. Then pour in the sherry.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the spinach. Cook until the cheese has melted. Add in the spinach and toss until the spinach begins to wilt.

Melt the butter. Cut the phyllo into rectangles and spoon the mixture into the centre.

Brush each layer, as you fold it over the mixture, with the melted butter. Turn in the edges to make a packet.

Bake until the phyllo is golden brown.

Serve immediately. This works well with a dry white wine or a dry rosé. As well as cheese, of course.

Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo Tarts

A perfect compliment to a cheese and wine night

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo Tarts
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 package of phyllo dough (you won't use all of it)
  • 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 5-6 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry 3oz
  • 1/2 cup freshly ground parmesan
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 2oz

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Make sure the phyllo dough is thawed before prep.

  2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Sautè the mushrooms until they begin to brown. Add the sherry and thyme, reduce for a minute or so.

  3. Add the cheeses. Stir until the cheese melts. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

  4. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts.

  5. Cut the phyllo into rectangles. Spoon some of the mixture onto the centre of the rectangle. Brush with the melted butter on each layer as you fold the phyllo over the mixture. Tuck in the ends and place a baking sheet.

  6. Bake until the tarts are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Black Pepper Tofu

It has been too hot to even grill so I needed quick meals that didn’t heat up the kitchen too much this week. I have also been trying to incorporate vegetarian meals as meat can be expensive, even though we have small portions of meat. It does add up! My husband is very lukewarm when it comes to tofu so I try to make dishes that have loads of flavour. I saw several different recipes for Black Pepper Tofu and decided to come up with one myself.

I can’t complain too much about the heat, the rest of the states are getting pummeled by unyielding heat at the moment. Hopefully it will break soon and there will be relief.

Technique for Black Pepper Tofu

This meal takes about 20 minutes to make, just prep the tofu about 1/2 hour before hand. You don’t want the tofu wet otherwise it won’t crisp up.

Cube the tofu and place between paper towels/kitchen roll. Press and set aside.

Add the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently. Simmer on low while the rest of the dish is cooked.

Dredge the tofu cubes in corn starch/corn flour and tap the excess off. In a large skillet, heat up the peanut oil.

Cook each side until the tofu is crispy and golden. Remove the tofu from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towel/kitchen roll. Set that aside. Add more peanut oil if need be to the skillet. If there are allergies to consider, vegetable oil will work just as well. Start cooking the udon noodles at this point.

Sautè the mushrooms until they start browning and then add the scallions. When the noodles are cooked add them to the skillet. I don’t drain the noodles but rather I use tongs to transfer the noodles as some of the cooking water comes along for the ride. This helps thicken the sauce a bit.

Add the tofu back into the skillet to make sure they are warm. When the noodles are cooked add them to the skillet. I don’t drain the noodles but rather I use tongs to transfer the noodles as some of the cooking water comes along for the ride. This helps thicken the sauce a bit. Add the sauce that has been simmering and reducing a bit at a time to the skillet. You don’t want to flood the dish but you want to make sure all the ingredients are well coated with the sauce.

I really enjoyed the punch of the black pepper with the ginger. Having leftovers the next day, the mushroom flavour really came through. Even though this wasn’t a heavy dish which we don’t want in the height of summer, it would be a very warming dish when needed.

Black Pepper Tofu

A easy vegetarian dish that is packed with great flavours of ginger and black pepper.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Keyword Black Pepper Tofu
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of udon noodles
  • 15 oz extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp corn starch/corn flour
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce/amino acids 4oz
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar 4oz
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 spring onions/scallions, chopped
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Drain the tofu for about half an hour. Then cube it and press between paper towel/kitchen roll. You don't need to press hard but you want the paper towel to soak up the moisture.

  2. Put the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small saucepan. Simmer until it reduces about a third.

  3. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet. Dredge the tofu in the corn starch/corn flour. Tap the excess off and place in the skillet. Cook until both sides are golden and crispy. Remove from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep warm.

  4. Add more peanut oil if needed to the skillet. Toss in the shiitake, scallions and jalapeño. Sautè until the mushrooms start to brown and turn golden.

  5. Add the tofu, noodles and sauce into the skillet and mix well with the veg. Serve immediately.

Chicken Curry with Mint

This year is just ticking by so quickly. Our daughter went back to college for the spring semester and poof she’s back again. Which is fine by us! Before she dashed off to be an EMT at overnight camp for the summer, we tried to make the dinners she liked to get some good homemade food into her. Times like this gets rarer and rarer, as it should be, as she starts leading her life. With one more year of having our son home, we best get on board with the empty nest bit. Despite having an early nasty heat wave, we’ve been lucky with having a decent spring this year so I was happy to make, at our daughter’s request, a Chicken Curry with Mint and my husband made Naan on our grill.

During the heat wave here in town, there was a food festival downtown. Our town had lifted the mask mandate a few days prior as our vaccination rates are pretty high. It was so nice to do something normal but also felt so weird walking round without a mask. We did come away with a few new inspirations for dishes to make at home. Despite the heat, we had a lot of fun letting our hair down so to speak!

Technique for Chicken Curry with Mint

I took inspiration from the book called the Best Ever Curry Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar. The original recipe is call Karahi Chicken with Mint. A Karahi is like a wok. Given where we are currently staying, we can’t use the wok on the glass stove top so I used a skillet. I also adjusted the recipe based on what I had in the pantry. The recipe called for boiling the chicken. I’m not a fan of that technique, I prefer sautéing chicken.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and begin to sauté the chicken. After a few minutes, when the chicken starts to brown add the scallions/spring onions and ginger to the skillet.

I’ve been using minced ginger as I find it’s less waste than buying the fresh and not being able to use it up in time. It still has quite the punch of flavour. Stir well and cook until the scallions/spring onions start to soften.

At this point, add the rest of the ingredients. Instead of fresh tomatoes that were called for in the original recipe I like to used diced fire roasted tomatoes. The flavour is more concentrated which is perfect for this dish. Bring to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes on low medium heat. This is when you should taste test the curry. Adjust any flavours as needed. I added more ginger to this. I should have added more mint as it wasn’t as strong a note as I would have liked. There isn’t any right or wrong way to do this. If you like it, it’s good.

Once the naan is grilled, serve up the Chicken Curry with Mint. It was a lovely spring evening in the back garden listening to the cat birds demanding more grape jelly. They are so vocal! We finished off the evening with having a fire and making s’mores. I love family evenings like this.

Chicken Curry with Mint

Chicken Curry with Mint is a warming curry that is flavourful and very easy to make

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Chicken Curry with Mint
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 3
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegtable oil
  • 1 lb skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into strips 450g
  • 3 scallions/spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger 30ml
  • 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice 30ml
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro/coriander leaves 30ml
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped mint 30ml
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. Sauté the chicken until it starts to brown.

  2. Add the scallions/spring onions and ginger to the skillet. Stir well and cook until the scallions/spring onions begin to soften.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low medium for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavours to come together. At this time adjust any flavours as needed to your liking.

  4. Serve with naan or rice. Garnish with the fresh herbs.

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

Every St. Patrick’s Day I like to do a special Irish meal as a nod to my ancestry. There is so much to the Irish cuisine with the variety available. I have never had corned beef, well that’s Irish American, not Irish and I don’t cook with cabbage really as I don’t like it. I would always be horrified when people couldn’t wait for the boiled corned beef and cabbage. But to each their own. I found a recipe on the BBC for a Potato and Parsnip Gratin. Of course I played around with it!

While beef, corned or otherwise, isn’t an Irish tradition, bacon or ham is. I hoped to do a pork loin on the grill but I couldn’t find one so I settled for pork chops to grill. I marinated the pork in olive oil with lemon, thyme and garlic. I am not a fan of time changes but at least it is now light enough to see the grill! I am so ready for the sun to come back up north.

Technique for Potato and Parsnip Gratin

This is an easy and delicious dish to throw together. It goes faster if you have a mandolin to slice the veg. I couldn’t find mine, not sure where we put it after we moved. I’ve no doubt it was right in front of me but couldn’t see the wood for the trees!

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Prep all the ingredients before layering. As I was only doing three ramekins, I only needed one medium sized potato. The best thing about this recipe is that it is easy to scale up or down depending on how many people you need to feed. To keep this recipe low FODMAP friendly, I used scallions/spring onions but use whatever onions you would like.

Start layering with the potatoes, then the parsnips. Add a bit of cream, scallion/spring onion, thyme and season with sea salt and ground pepper. Grate the jarlsberg over the ingredients. I added more after taking the photo and I wanted all that cheesy goodness.

Keep repeating the layers until you are at the top of the ramekin. Finish with a layer of potato before grating the cheese to cover the potato. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and cover with tin foil. Place into the oven. Bake for about an hour. At that point pierce the potatoes with a knife. If soft, remove the tin foil to brown the cheese. Serve with the sliced pork and garden peas.

We love doing roasted potatoes and parsnips, potato and parsnip mash, and this will be something we make more often. It’s easy and has lots of flavour. An elegant comfort food.

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

A lovely Irish dish with cream and cheese.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Keyword Potato and Parsnip Gratin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 3
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized potato, thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion/spring onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large parsnip, thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2-1 cup heavy cream 4-8oz
  • 1 cup freshly grated jarlsberg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

  2. Thinly slice the potato and parsnip. Grate the jarlsberg and remove the thyme leaves from the stems.

  3. In the ramekins, layer the potatoes in the bottom and add the parsnips, scallions/green and thyme. Pour a bit of cream over the layer and season with some sea salt and pepper. Grate the jarlsberg cheese over until it covers the layer. Repeat this until it is near the top. Finish with a layer of potato and cover with the cheese.

  4. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and cover with tin foil. Bake for about an hour. Test with a knife to make sure the potatoes are soft. Bake uncovered until the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Last week I wrote how we were treated to a teaser of spring and how it probably won’t last long. It didn’t. It’s been brutal this week, especially Tuesday. Dangerously cold with March definitely coming in like a lion. I got my first dose of the vaccine yesterday which is done outside and I was so impressed with the set up, though one of them said it took about 4 hours to warm up after Tuesday, the worse day this week. They really are stepping up in difficult circumstances and doing an incredible job getting this country safe. I’m sure tons of soup like this Hungarian Mushroom Soup were eaten to ward off the bitter cold.

The National Guardsman who checked me in had a bit of a chuckle. He asked how I was doing and I replied “I’m so excited!” And I was. It’s been a long 12 months of anxiety for so many of us, it’s good to see that the rollout of the vaccine is being successful and people are queueing up to get the jab. It will be nice to get back to some type of normalcy. I do think it won’t get back completely pre-COVID but I’m looking forward to traveling and enjoying live music again.

Until then, I’m enjoying cooking again and being creative. Global anxiety is such a creativity killer. Hungarian Mushroom Soup is one of my husband’s favourite soups. It goes so well with homebaked ciabatta so he baked up some fresh ciabatta to go this soup.

Technique for Hungarian Mushroom Soup

There are loads of variations of this soup and this is mine.

Coarsely chop the mushrooms and slice the scallions/spring onions. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the mushrooms.

Once they start browning, add the scallions/spring onions, paprika and fresh dill. Sauté for a few minutes to bring out the fragrant flavour of the dill and paprika.

Add the broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer.

Simmer on low for several minutes to allow the ingredients to come together with their flavours. Add the flour to the milk and stir well. Every time I do this step for soups or gravy, I’m always taken back to a silly advert in the ’80’s selling gravy and saying “just like homemade, but no lumps!” My mum never made lumpy gravy so I had absolutely no idea what they were on about. I did once I started making gravy. You need to mix it well enough that there are no lumps before putting into the soup.

Bring to a high simmer to cook the flour and thicken the soup for a couple of minutes. Cook for several more minutes at a low simmer. Add the lemon juice, chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Once it simmers for a bit adjust the seasoning as needed. I sometimes add more paprika at this stage. There isn’t any wrong way, as long as you like it, it’s good! The last step is to add the sour cream, again don’t boil but make sure it’s all heated through.

Once the sour cream is incorporated (it won’t incorporate 100%) and is heated through, it is ready to serve.

Add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with parsley. Fresh ciabatta and butter is perfect for dipping into this soup. Pair with a Belgian Trappist Ale and life is good.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

A delicious warming mushroom soup

Course Soup
Keyword Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup scallions/spring onions sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (if using dried, 1-2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 cups vegtable broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to brown. Then add the scallions/spring onions, paprika and dill. Sautè for a few minutes.

  2. Add the broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low for several minutes. While this is simmering, mix the flour and milk and work out all the lumps.

  3. Add the milk mixture to the saucepan and cook it on a high simmer until the flour is cooked. Add the salt and pepper with the lemon juice and parsley. Cook for a few minutes on a low simmer and then adjust the seasonings if need be.

  4. Just before serving add the sour cream and cook on a low simmer until it's heated through.

  5. Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh parsley.

Sun-dried Tomato Tuscan Sauce

Yesterday we got a teaser of spring and it was wonderful. Warm, sunny and energizing. I was very happy to see the sun battling the ice. The ice and I have been on particularly bad terms this year as I slipped at the beginning of January and broke my finger. I did finally order Yak Traks, though they don’t work on very slick ice. There have been a few near splits as well so bring on spring. Sadly, I know there will be a few more snow storms but I’ll just pretend while it lasts.

As we’re still in winter, comforting food is still important. I had seen several versions of a Tuscan Parmesan sauce and thought I would do my own version and make a Sun-dried Tomato Tuscan Sauce. I had my dish with pan seared salmon and did up pan seared chicken for my husband and son. I love salmon, I could eat it every day.

While this would be perfectly delicious with pasta but I wanted to keep it lighter so I did roast potatoes and a bed of fresh baby spinach.

Technique for Sun-dried Tomato Tuscan Sauce

Because this is a relatively quick sauce, particularly if you use sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, start cooking the chicken first. I pan seared the chicken in a large skillet before finishing it off in the oven while I made the sauce.

In the skillet that was used for the chicken add a bit more olive oil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook on medium low for a few minutes. Since we moved, we no longer have our gas stove and boy do I miss that control gas gives you over electric. You have to anticipate the heat level. Once the sun-dried tomatoes have cooked for a couple of minutes, add the scallions and garlic. Cook for a further couple of minutes.

Add the white wine and let reduce for a minute. At this point start pan searing the salmon. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Add the cream to the skillet with the sun-dried tomatoes. Bring to a simmer but don’t boil.

Once the sauce starts to thicken a bit add the parsley and parmesan cheese.

When the chicken and salmon are almost finished toss in the spinach and allow it to wilt a bit.

To plate, place a handful of fresh baby spinach on the plate. Lay the salmon on the spinach and spoon the sauce over the salmon. Grate fresh parmesan over the dish and serve immediately.

Sun-dried Tomato Tuscan Sauce

Flavours of Italy can be found in this easy and delicious sauce

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Sun-dried Tomato Tuscan Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 Salmon fillet per person
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-7 sun-dried tomatoes sliced
  • 1 scallion/spring onion sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine 4oz
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream 6oz
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 handful of fresh baby spinach per plate
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes.

  2. Add the garlic and scallions. After cooking for a couple of minutes add the white wine. Simmer to reduce down about a third. Lower the heat and add the cream. Don't boil, just simmer.

  3. Start pan searing the salmon in a skillet with some olive oil so it will be done about the time the sauce is finished.

  4. As the sauce starts to thicken, add the parmesan cheese and parsley. Season the sauce with sea salt and pepper.

  5. Once the salmon nearly finished, add the cup of spinach to the sauce to wilt.

  6. To plate, add a handful of fresh baby spinach. Place the salmon on the spinach and spoon the sauce over the salmon. Grate fresh parmesan over the dish and serve immediately.

Bok Choi with Shiitake Mushrooms

This longer than intended break from blogging occurred because we had a big change in our lives. As those that follow me know, we’ll be moving back to the UK next year so we would have had to sell our home. We always thought it would take awhile to sell our home as it’s not like a lot of people are clamouring for Queen Anne Victorians. Who’d have thought in a raging pandemic, the real estate market would set itself on fire? So suddenly we were faced with several weeks going flat out to get the house ready and list it. In a few days it was under agreement. So we had to find a rental quickly and get a move on, literally.

This all meant we were too tired and stressed to think about cooking creatively. There were a lot of takeaways and routine throwing meals together. As we’ve settled into our temporary home, we’ve started to breath again and it was time to have fun with cooking again.

My sister loves authentic Chinese food and we were talking about how hard that is to find in this country and I was intrigued about recipes. Luckily, I have a colleague, whose family is from China, and I picked her brains. She gave me a couple of recipes, one of which is this one. I added the rice noodles and seared marinated pork.

Technique for Bok Choi and Shiitake Mushrooms

This is a very easy meal to make, you just need to do a couple things at least an hour before.

Boil water and cover the shiitake mushrooms until they are covered by at least an inch/2.5cm. Set aside to rehydrate the mushrooms. You’ll want to keep the liquid for later.

Trim any tough fat and fibers from the pork. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and make sure the pork loin is coated well. Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Heat up the garlic infused olive oil in a large skillet. Sear both sides of the pork and transfer the pork to a baking dish and cook until done. Cook the rice noodles at this point according the directions on the package.

Depending on the size of the bok choi cut in half or quarter them. Wash and dry them and set aside.

In the skillet the pork was seared in add the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Sauté them in the oil for a minute or so and then add the liquid from the mushrooms and the sherry, simmer on low for a couple of minutes.

Add the chicken stock with the corn flour and bring to a boil. Reduce slightly and lower the temperature so it is a low simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Add the bok choi. Keep turning as it cooks so the bok choi is evenly coated with the sauce. Cook until the bok choi starts to soften. I like my greens to be on the crisp side but feel free to cook until soft all the way through. It’s a texture thing with me. Remove the bok choi from the sauce and then add the rice noodles to the sauce and toss until the noodles are evenly coated.

Slice the pork once it’s had a chance to rest for several minutes. Add the noodles to the plate and then layer the pork and bok choi. Serve immediately.

I found this Bok Choi with Shiitake Mushrooms delicious but very mild in flavour. When I talked to my colleague, she mentioned sometimes adding hoisin sauce to make this dish bolder. I will have to try that next time. It was so nice to get cooking again, I can’t tell you.

Bok Choi with Shiitake Mushrooms

A flavourful dish with sherry and mushrooms

Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Marinade for Pork Loin

  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Sea salt and Pepper
  • 1 lb pork loin 453 grams

Bok Choi and Shiitake Mushroom

  • 3 medium sized bok choi
  • 7-10 dried shiitake mushrooms depending on size
  • 1/2 cup liquid from mushrooms 4oz
  • 3 tbsp dry cooking sherry
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 4oz
  • 1 tbsp corn starch/corn flour
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 package of rice noodles

Instructions

Pork Loin

  1. Trim the pork loin of any tough fat or fibers.

  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the pork, making sure it's well coated. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Sear both sides of the pork loin and then cook in the oven until done.

Bok Choi and Shiitake Mushrooms

  1. Cut the shiitake mushrooms in half or quarters. Boil water and cover the mushrooms by at least an inch/2.5cm. Set aside to rehydrate. Keep the liquid.

  2. Cut the bok choi in half and clean and dry.

  3. Once the mushrooms have rehydrated add them to the skillet with hot olive oil. Sautè for a few minutes before adding the liquid from the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes on a simmer, reducing the liquid then add the sherry. Keep it on a low simmer.

  4. Mix the corn starch/corn flour with the chicken stock and mix well so there aren't any lumps. Add it to the skillet and bring to a boil. Stir well so it doesn't catch on the bottom then reduce to a simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add more sherry if needed.

  5. While the sauce is being made, cook and drain the rice noodles.

  6. Add the bok choi to the skillet and turn as it cooks so the sauce coats the bok choi evenly. Cook it to the degree of softness you prefer.

  7. Remove the bok choi and set aside. Add the rice noodles to the skillet and toss so they are coated in the noodles.

Plating

  1. Add the noodles to the plate. After resting the pork loin for a several minutes, slice it and place it on the noodles. Add the bok choi, serve immediately.

Trappist Ale Risotto with Grilled Pork

Where we live, the length of our growing season isn’t guaranteed. Winter can be 4-6 months long depending on the mood of Mother Nature so second harvests of veg usually isn’t in the cards. But my husband decided to experiment a bit with the peas. The packet always says you can do two plantings but we’ve never had luck with that but he took peas from the pods that had gone past it a bit and planted those peas. Lo and behold, it worked! We did have to cover them a few times with the frosts we’ve had. Thank goodness as there seems to be a shortage of peas in the grocery shops and it’s a key veg in my Trappist Ale Risotto with Grilled Pork.

With this insane year it has been fascinating what becomes scarce in the shops. Now it’s peas but I’ve had trouble getting Coleman’s mustard, Old Bay seasoning and sour cream. Olives were scarce but that must be because of the spike in martini drinking. Like most people, a crystal ball would be handy so I can try to stay ahead of the curve!

I like mixing it up with risotto, it is such a versatile ingredient so it’s fun to think outside the box. I was in the mood for more German inspired flavours for this dish and I love trappist ale. It’s a great pairing with Jarlsberg cheese that is in this dish.

Technique for Trappist Ale Risotto with Grilled Pork

You couldn’t get an easier marinade if you tried. Beer, mustard, sea salt and pepper. That’s it.

Stir the ingredients and add the pork. Cover and chill for about an hour.

When it is time to cook the risotto, prep all the ingredients and get the grill heated. In a large skillet, heat up the garlic infused olive oil. Add the scallions and mushrooms.

Sauté for a few minutes, then add the risotto.

Cook for a minute. Add the mustard and stir well. Cook for another minute then add the beer.

As the liquid reduces, gradually add the veg bouillon to the dish while stirring frequently. When you start adding the bouillon, add the peas. At this point start grilling the pork. Cooking the risotto will take about 20-25 minutes. You don’t want it boiling but a decent simmer is good.

When you put in the last of the bouillon, add the cheese. There needs to be enough liquid for the cheese to melt into.

Once the pork is cooked, allow it to rest a few minutes before slicing it.

Top the risotto with the sliced pork and grate some Jarlsberg over the dish. Serve immediately.

It’s such a good feeling to be able to use and eat food that we grew ourselves, can’t get more local than that!

Trappist Ale Risotto with Grilled Pork

A fun twist on risotto with trappist ale and Jarlsberg cheese.

Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Keyword Trappist Ale Risotto with Grilled Pork
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Grilled Pork

  • 1 lb Pork Loin 453g
  • 1 cup Trappist ale 8oz
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Trappist Ale Risotto

  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized scallion/green onion chopped
  • 3-5 shiitake mushrooms chopped
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 cup Trappist ale 8oz
  • 1 1/2 cup risotto 290g
  • 1 cup frozen peas 130g
  • 5 cups veg bouillon, needs to be hot. 40oz
  • 1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese 85g
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

Grilled Pork

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the pork loin. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

  2. Heat the grill to medium high. Cook the pork until very light pink in the centre. Once cooked, let it rest for several minutes before slicing.

Trappist Ale Risotto

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the scallions/spring onions and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes.

  2. Add the risotto and cook for a minute. Then add the mustard. Stir well and cook for another minute. Then add the Trappist Ale. Cook again for another minute.

  3. Begin adding the bouillon 1/2-1 cup at a time. Add the peas at this point as well. You don't want the risotto to be boiling but you want a good simmer going. As the liquid reduces, add more bouillon. Throughout this process stir frequently.

  4. When the last of the bouillon is being added, add the cheese. Stir well and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Putting it all together

  1. Slice the pork. Spoon the risotto onto a plate. Place the pork on top of the risotto and grate Jarlsberg over the top. Serve immediately.

Roasted Curry Chicken

I got the idea to do this Roasted Curry Chicken during this past weekend when we had a yard sale. There was a definite need for a clear out and I hate throwing things in the tip when someone else might find a use for something. One customer had some butternut squash in her car and she gave me some. As she loves habaneros, we did a trade. I thought the butternut squash would be great with a curry dish. Sadly the squash was rotten from within.

Luckily I bought some Japanese sweet potatoes. They aren’t orange like regular sweet potatoes and aren’t as sweet but their flavour is perfect to pair with a spicy curry.

This dish is perfect for a busy evening. Most of this was cooking while I walked the dogs. It’s important to have quick flavourful and nutritious meals in the back pocket for when life gets hectic. Still need to eat well!

Oh, I had forgotten to mention the excitement we had in my previous post. It was a Sunday afternoon and we noticed some activity in our front yard. Out we went and the people immediately said “don’t go into your back garden!” Turns out there was a 400lb male black bear on walkabout. This photo was about 50 feet from our driveway. A beautiful beast.

Technique for Roasted Curry Chicken

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. If you have a convection/fan oven, use that.

Slice the Japanese sweet potato and brush with olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a baking dish, place the chicken thighs in the dish. Add the chicken stock and season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and curry powder. Cover and place the chicken and sweet potatoes in the oven. It will take 30-45 minutes for both to cook. Half way through cooking, remove the cover from the chicken so the skin will roast nicely.

In a skillet, heat up the garlic infused olive oil. Begin sautéing the scallions, red pepper, mushrooms and the habanero. As the habanero came from our garden, I only used half as they pack quite the punch.

Add the minced ginger, tomatoes, chili powder, curry powder, cumin and cilantro/coriander leaves. Bring to a simmer. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

I do love roasted chicken.

The chicken and sweet potato should be done about the same time. Serve immediately after spooning the tomato mixture over the chicken. Enjoy!

Roasted Curry Chicken

A warming meal that is quick and easy to make on a busy evening.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Keyword Roasted Curry Chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 Japanese sweet potatoes sliced in half
  • 4 chicken thighs with bone in and skin
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 4oz
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions/green onion 11g
  • 2 tbsp chopped red pepper 18g
  • 1/2 habanero chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes 14oz
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2-1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro/coriander leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. If you have a convection/fan oven, use that.

  2. Slice the Japanese sweet potato in half lengthwise. Brush the halves with olive oil and then season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on a baking sheet.

  3. In a baking dish, place the chicken thighes in the dish, skin side up. Sprinkly the curry powder over the chicken and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the chicken stock. Cover the dish.

  4. Place the sweet potato and chicken in the oven. Cook for 30-45 minutes. About halfway through, remove the cover from the chicken so the skin roasts and gets nice and crispy.

  5. Heat the garlic infused olive oil in a skillet. Add the scallions/green onions, red pepper, mushrooms and habanero. Sauté for a few minutes.

  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently so the tomato doesn't catch on the bottom. Simmer until the sweet potato and chicken are cooked.

  7. To serve, place the sweet potato and chicken on the plate. Spoon the tomato mixture over the chicken and serve immediately.

Grilled Salmon with Dill Sauce

I spied a treat at the shop the other day in the form of Coho wild salmon. I’m not a fan of farmed fish so I love it when certain types come into season. I was in the mood to recreate a dish my mum used to make when I was younger. When I used to work with her she would bring in the previous night’s leftovers so I was lucky to eat well right out of university. At least one decent meal a day! One of my favourites was salmon, peas and potatoes. So I made Grilled Salmon with Dill Sauce with jacket potatoes and peas from our garden.

I chose dill sauce because I had a lot of fresh dill left over from making my husband Hungarian mushroom soup. I’ve realised I have not done a post on that so I shall have to make it again and do up a post to share.

Technique for Grilled Salmon and Dill Sauce

Heat the grill so it’s nice and hot. This will give the salmon a nice sear while keeping the centre moist. Slice a lemon. Place the slices on the grill and place the salmon on the lemon slices. It keeps the salmon from burning and gives it a lovely lemon flavour.

In a small saucepan, heat up some garlic infused olive oil. If you can have garlic, use two chopped cloves and regular olive oil. Sauté the chopped dill for a few minutes.

Add the mustard and the white wine and simmer to reduce a bit. Turn down the heat to low.

Add the cremé fraîche, this is a lovely alternative to regular cream. Stir in the cremé fraîche and keep it warm on low heat. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Spoon the sauce over the salmon and serve. This is such an easy dish to make but you are rewarded with high end flavour.

Grilled Salmon with Dill Sauce

A perfect pairing of dill and seafood.

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Fresh salmon 226g
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1/3 cup white wine 2.5oz
  • 3 tbsp cremé fraîche
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

Grilled Salmon

  1. Season the salmon with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Slice the lemon

  2. Heat the grill to high heat. Place the slices of lemon onto the grill and place the salmon on the lemon. Grill until the fish has a nice sear and the centre is cooked to medium. Slightly pink in the centre.

Dill Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, heat up the garlic infused olive oil and sauté the dill for a few minutes.

  2. Add the mustard and white wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce for a couple of minutes.

  3. Lower the heat to the lowest setting. Add the cremé fraîche. Mix well and keep it just warm. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Putting it together

  1. Place the grilled salmon on a plate and spoon the dill sauce over the salmon and serve immediately.