Sunny Orange, Honey and Saffron to Bring in the New Year

It always amazes me how much work goes into the holidays only for it to go by faster than a blink of an eye.  It seemed this year it went by even faster.  But we had a lovely time with the kids and enjoyed a week of just hanging out with them.  I look forward to the week between Christmas and New Year’s as it’s just family time.  No where to be, perfect.

Of course, now that the holidays are over we faced with bitter, bitter cold.  So what better time to bake?  Helps keep the kitchen toasty warm.  Anything to help keep the heating costs down!  One of the gifts my husband bought me was a baking book called Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.  He had heard an interview on the radio with Yotam Ottolenghi and found him very interesting.  Particularly the flavour combinations he likes to work with.  There are several recipes I want to try.  A while back I bought a madeleine pan so the recipe I chose to try first is his saffron, orange and honey madeleines.

Saffron Honey Orange Madeleines 1 2018

This isn’t a hard recipe but it does take a little time.  It’s also not completely traditional which allows the cookie to last more than a day because let’s face it, my hips won’t appreciate me trying to eat them all before they get stale.  My taste buds will but they aren’t the ones wearing the clothes.

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In a small saucepan melt 90g of butter (6 tbsp + 1 tsp) of unsalted butter, 2 tsp of honey and 1/4 tsp of saffron threads.  The book says the saffron is optional, say what?  I’m not leaving that out!  Keep the heat low while you are doing this.  Once melted remove from the heat and bring to room temperature.

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While the butter is melting prep the next ingredients in a food processor.  Add 2 large eggs, 75g (1/3 cup + 1tsp) granulated sugar, scraped seeds of about a 1/4 of a vanilla pod and the zest of a small orange. I used a clementine for this. Pulse until it is well blended.  Sift together  90g ( 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tsp) of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/8 tsp of salt.  Add this to the food processor and pulse again until blended.  Next add the butter mixture and blend.  Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Saffron Honey Orange Madeleines 4 2018

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C and prep the baking pan by brushing the molds with melted butter and dust with flour.  I only have one pan so the book recommends washing, drying and reprepping between batches.

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Spoon batter in to fill about 2/3s of the mold.  This was actually harder than it sounds as the flour sticks to the bottom which makes it slippery and hard to position.  Bake 9-10 minutes until golden and sponge like.

Saffron Honey Orange Madeleines 6 2018

While they are baking chop up the pistachio nuts.  You only need a couple of tablespoons of the nuts.  Melt 3 tablespoons of honey in the microwave.  Keep an eye on this as it won’t take long to melt.

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Brush the madeleine with honey and dip it in the nuts.  This was a classic case of chasing the natural light and losing. I was hoping to get it done before it got too dark.  I didn’t win the race!  But the days are getting longer so it won’t be long.  🙂

I love how these came out, the flavours were nice and bright.  Perfect for a winter’s day.

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Tomato Jam with Thyme

I did this post last week, though I thought I did.  But no one saw it, so I knew something was up.  In the meantime I upgraded to the premium plan so my site is now ourgrowingpaynes.blog.  As I was doing that I asked about this post.  Turns out I created a site page instead of a blog post!  Doh.  Hopefully now I can get this back on track.  🙂

I am really regretting removing our air conditioners.  Granted, it’s nice to have a longer growing season this year, but man, the humidity needs to go!  While we don’t like it the tomatoes seem to love this.  Which means we have to be creative is preserving all that goodness!

One of our favourite restaurants has a really good charcuterie plate and they very often have tomato jam as part of it.  It’s something my husband regularly orders there and he asked if I could make some tomato jam at home.  No idea how they make theirs but here is my version.

Tomato Jam 1 2017

I have to say, prepping the tomatoes is a messy endeavor.  But it needs to be done.  Cut the tops off the tomatoes and then cut a cross into the bottom.  Prep 2 1/2lbs/40ozs of tomatoes for this jam.

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Blanch each tomato for about 30 seconds in boiling water.

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Remove and set aside to cool.  Or you can dip in cold water.  I just let them cool.  Doesn’t take too long.  Remove the skins.

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Then it gets really messy!  Remove the seeds and coarsely chop up the tomatoes and add to a saucepan.  Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a big handful of fresh thyme.  I chopped up the thyme finely as I didn’t want large bits of herb in the jam.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Because I didn’t want a high sugar jam I just added 1 cup/8oz of sugar to start.

Tomato Jam 5 2017

Mix well and keep simmering.  I also use low sugar pectin to help thicken the jam.  I didn’t want to mask the flavour of the tomato with too much sugar.  I add a bit of the pectin at the time.  Hard to remove it if you go too far!

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This is really good with cheese and would be good with bread and butter.  It’s a nice alternative to the usual berry jam.  A reminder of summer when the cooler decides to finally arrive.

 

Gochujang Chicken Wings and the Folly of Sticking our Heads in the Sand

On my sister’s suggestion, I have decided to try bullet journaling.  I needed help with getting better organised and following through with projects and ideas.  Including getting back on a schedule for blogging.  So I bought a journal and got the supplies to start it this month, which I did on Sunday.  I designated Mondays as blog post days.  That was the plan, but when the first thing you hear when you wake up to the radio is about the massacre in Las Vegas, the joy goes out of the day.  A cheery post seemed too jarring as the news unfolded.

It’s a sad state when you start losing track of how many times you sit down with your kids and discuss these tragedies as they occur.  When your kids realise that probably nothing will be done as these get worse and worse, you start wondering what the tipping point will actually have to be.  To not be able to reassure your kids that this will stop is depressing.  It seems mind boggling to me that common sense doesn’t prevail and have this country follow the rest of the developed world.

I just hope some day soon this stops.

Gochujang chicken wings 1 2017

Awhile back Chef Mimi of chefmimiblog.com mentioned using an ingredient called gochujang which is a fermented chili paste.  It sounded really interesting and lo and behold our co-op had some.  When I cleaned out the freezer I realised there were a lot of chicken wings to use.  I kept putting it off because my husband isn’t a fan of wings but neither of us like to waste food so I thought it would be a good time to try out gochujang.

Gochujang chicken wings 2 2017

This is a very easy dish to throw together.  In a bowl add a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil and a tablespoon or so of lime juice.  I finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and snipped 3 chives.  Add a couple of large dollops of the gochujang.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

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Taste and adjust the flavours as needed.  The more of the gochujang you add the more heat there will be.  Pour the marinade into a large ziploc bag and add the chicken wings. Toss to coat the wings.  The longer you marinate the more intense the flavours will be.

Gochujang chicken wings 4 2017

Grill on medium heat until the chicken wings are cooked through.

Gochujang chicken wings 5 2017

Because we were still in the middle of a heat wave I served the wings on top of a salad to keep things light.  I really like this ingredient.  I did use it again for a quick stir fry as my husband had a bad cold.  I added a habanero pepper to it.  Let me tell you I may never have a cold again given the heat of those two ingredients!  Wowza.

Spicy Summer Grilling

Unlike last year, we aren’t dealing with dusty drought conditions so our garden has taken off and going like gangbusters.  Except the parsnips.  We planted that twice and not a sausage.  Not one seed sprouted.  But given that this is the only failure we are in great shape for the most local shopping of all, just outside our door.

By the time autumn comes, I’ll be tired of salads but I do enjoy the quick summer meals with fresh veg.  For this meal I sautéed swiss chard from our garden in lemon juice and olive oil.  I also roasted potatoes as they needed to be used up.

I think one of my favourite ingredients is garlic.  And it works really well with spicy dishes.

Spicy grilled chicken 1 2017

In a bowl big enough to hold the chicken thighs add about 1/3 cup of olive oil or peanut oil and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and add to the bowl.  Here is where you get a bit free style.  Because everyone’s taste is different when it comes to spice you want to add sriracha sauce until you find the balance you want.  We like it spicy so I added a lot.  Make sure you do adjust the lemon juice as needed so you don’t drown out that flavour.

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Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper then add it to the marinade.

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The longer you marinade the stronger the flavour will be when cooked.  You can do this quickly but the flavour will be much more subtle.

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Grill on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.  If it is a bone in chicken keep in mind that the meat will take longer to cook.

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This would work with any sautéed veg or a salad.  Thank goodness for the grill, I’d be lost without it!

Danish Comfort Food with Frikadeller

Our experience with our Danish exchange student is coming to an end, it went by too quickly, but overall it’s been a wonderful experience.  When she first arrived at our home I was more than ready to explore Danish food.  She is not a fan!  What?!?  But I had plans!  I wasn’t ready to give up.

I went through the various recipes I had pinned with her and chose to try Frikadeller which are Danish meatballs.  These can been eaten stand alone or as part of the Smørrebrød, which are open faced sandwiches.  This past weekend we had a large family get together and because of all the different dietary needs I thought it would be perfect to do a meal of Smørrebrød.  I originally made the meatballs at the beginning of her stay with us.  It was part of a light supper with BLTs and both “sandwiches” used romaine lettuce as the bread.

I found a recipe for Frikadeller on Dieplicious.com that our exchange student said was authentic.  These are very easy to put together though it is very different from most meatballs I’ve made.  It’s a very wet mixture.

Frikadeller 1 2017

Use a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon to blend everything together.  Start with a pound/500 grams of ground pork and 1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt.  The reason you need a large mixing bowl is the pork is very slippery and trying to get the salt well blended is tricky.  Because you are going to add milk the better blended the salt the better the milk will incorporate.

Frikadeller 2 2017

Next add 3/4 cup/150 grams of onion, finely chopped.  Mix well.  Add the rest of the ingredients, which are 3/4 cup/85 grams of oats,  2 tablespoons of flour, 1 egg, not quite 3/4 cup/150 ml of milk.

Frikadeller 3 2017

Season with fresh oregano and ground pepper.  This is a very sticky mixture but hand shape the meatballs in an egg shape.  To fry you can use oil or butter but because I had cooked up streaky bacon I chose to fry the meatballs in bacon fat.

Frikadeller 4 2017

To serve I mixed up plain yoghurt with fresh oregano, sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Spread that on the lettuce, top with the meatballs and pickles.

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At dinner I was proud of myself for giving her a taste of home, then she mentioned each host family had chosen to do a version of Frikadeller for her.  So much for pride!  She did love my version and all of us really enjoyed this dish.  I think we will continue to make this.

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Battle with the garden has commenced.  We may be winning but I’m not sure yet.  I find it ironic that the stuff we don’t want growing in the garden are the toughest to get rid of.  They are tenacious.  Our grass never grows as well on the lawn as it does in the flower beds.

Some of it is our own doing and not understanding how invasive something can be.  A few years ago, because we like to brew beer, we planted hops.  One was very lackluster while the other is determined to take over the world.  The first season or so wasn’t too bad, the hop plant just grew like gangbusters.  Hops can grow a foot a day, which is crazy.   But last year the hops broke the lattice that sort of held them and crawled across the rest of the flower bed.  It wasn’t pretty.

This year we’re rethinking the hops.  Not to get rid of them but we definitely need to put them elsewhere.  In the meantime we are being brutal with them.  The root system snakes everywhere under the soil.  We were taken aback by the length and thickness of those suckers. They were like tree roots.  I have a feeling there will be more battles with the hops.

Along with the work in the garden that comes with the warmer weather, the lighter dinners start up again.  Which I am very ready for!

Caprese stuffed chicken 1 2017

Recently I thought it would be fun to do a pan seared caprese stuffed chicken over salad. In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Add about a cup of sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook on low to medium heat for a few minutes.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and add to the skillet.

Caprese stuffed chicken 2 2017

Saute for several minutes until the garlic is nearly cooked and then toss in a handful of shredded fresh basil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.

Caprese stuffed chicken 3 2017

Slice 4 chicken breasts 3/4 the way through lengthwise.  Evenly distribute the caprese mix between the chicken breasts.  Season with sea salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

Caprese stuffed chicken 4 2017

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and add fresh mozzarella cheese inside the chicken and bake until the chicken is cooked through.

Caprese stuffed chicken 5 2017

Serve on top of a salad.  A dish light enough for the warm weather but gives you enough energy to conquer the garden.  Which we definitely need!

 

Catching Up With a Dublin Coddle

This a long over due post!  I cooked this meal for St Patrick’s Day weekend.  So yes, I’m behind in my posts.  Tax season is over once more and I’ve been doing a lot of catching up and getting things organised.  It was so nice to have time to be outside and see sunlight.  My office is windowless and joyless.

Since I last posted we’ve been enjoying hosting our exchange student from Denmark.  Who isn’t a fan of Danish food.  What are the chances!?  She loves Italian food but is willing to have me cook some Danish food here and there.  She also fits in at our house very well.  Very smart and a great sense of humour.  It’s turning out to be a fabulous experience for all of us.

Our student arrived on St Patrick’s Day weekend and I wanted share some of our traditions.  But I also needed something that was easy to put together because I was working 6 days a week.  The Dublin Coddle fit the bill.

Dublin coddle 1 2017

Of course I changed the way to do it a bit.  Mainly to make this even easier and quicker to make.  If you are inclined you can cook the bacon prior to assembling but it also works if you don’t.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

In an oven proof dish begin layering potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, all thinly sliced.

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Then layer thinly sliced sausages and bacon.  I chose chorizo sausage for a bit of heat.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Dublin coddle 3 2017

Repeat the layers.  Add beef or vegetable broth.  At this point you can have it more stew like or not.  I wanted it to have a more soup consistency so I added about 4 cups/32 oz of vegetable broth.

Dublin coddle 4 2017

Cover and bake until the vegetables soften.  Remove from the oven and grate fresh cheddar cheese over the dish.  Leave the cover off and bake until the top browns.Dublin coddle 5 2017

Of course I completely forgot to bake the soda bread to go with this.  Only remembered as I was serving the meal.  That would have been a nice pairing.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of blogs to catch up on.  🙂

 

 

Southwestern Turkey Burgers

Winter is back with a vengeance!  Mother nature does like to mess with us.  Offices were closed so I got a snow day.  It was lovely to watch the snow come down in the comfort of home.  It also allowed me to catch up with some projects I’m working on.  There is a possibility I might have to have hand surgery soon so all my knitting and crocheting projects need to get done.  Which might guarantee I won’t need surgery!  Fingers crossed.

We are also getting ready for our exchange student to come this weekend.  She has actually been here since August but they way they do it now is the student spends three months with a host family then moves on to another one.  So now it’s our turn. She is from Denmark and I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from there.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am looking into the Danish rye breads to give that a go.

Before winter returned we had some fabulous warm weather which meant lighter meals.  I do miss salads.  I thought it would be fun to do turkey burgers, not realising how mushy the ground turkey can be to work with.  Very sticky!  But if you can get past that you can have a great meal.

Southwestern turkey burgers 1 2017

To make the burgers I mixed a pound of ground turkey meat with half a cup of freshly grated cheddar cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix and form into burgers.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Brown both sides.

Southwestern turkey burger 2 2017

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Finely chop scallions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.  Add them to the skillet with 1-2 cups of frozen corn.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice, sea salt and pepper, finish with fresh cilantro.

Southwestern turkey burger 3 2017

As the burgers finish cooking top with pepper jack cheese to melt.  Serve over mixed lettuce greens and top with the veg mix.  We also cooked up some sweet potato fries.

Southwestern turkey burger 4 2017

An easy dinner to put together when you want loads of flavour on a busy night.

 

 

 

Lemon and Garlic Chicken and the Importance of Having a Great Team

If you have the bad luck of falling and injuring yourself over the years more than once it is very important you don’t wait years to fix yourself.  If I could go back in time I would do so many things differently.  Aside from trying to avoid falling in the first place I would get help.

Which means finding a great team and I have been very lucky in that respect.  I have Pam, my exercise guru, who is very knowledgeable with body mechanics and takes the time to make sure those of us in her pilates and TRX aren’t doing nutty things with our alignment.   I have Christine, who is an amazing massage therapist that battles my knots and tension.  And Maria, my physical therapist, spent nearly two years helping me get strong and healed.  I just finished my last appointment with her and fingers crossed I don’t do anything stupid and lands me back in PT!

Of course I’m seriously grateful that my husband supported me through all this.  I really couldn’t have done it without him.  There have been some painful and tough times and he never wavered.  He’s my rock.

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For Christmas my dad found some really cool cookery books for us.  The one for my daughter is called “150 Mediterranean Recipes” by Jacqueline Clark & Joanna Farrow.  Loads of delicious recipes in the book and I chose to make the Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic.   I mostly followed it so here is my version.

Prep the lemon by peeling it and then thinly slicing it.  Set aside.

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In a small saucepan bring to a simmer about 14oz of chicken stock.  Add 8-10 garlic cloves cut in half.  Simmer while you cook the chicken thighs.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.

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Season 4 chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper and begin to brown the chicken.  While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

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Once browned, transfer to a baking dish.  Spoon out the garlic from the stock and add it to the baking dish along with the lemon slices.  Set aside.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour or corn flour to the skillet, use a whisk to scrape up the browned bits of the chicken.  Cook for a minute or so to cook the flour.  Then add 6oz of dry white wine.  Keep stirring constantly.  Pour in the stock.

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Stir until the sauce thickens.

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Add the sauce to the baking dish and bake until the chicken is cooked through.  Meanwhile cook up some rice pilaf.

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Once the chicken is cooked, top the rice with a chicken thigh and pour sauce over the dish. Add some fresh chopped parsley and voila!  Dinner is served.

I look forward to trying more recipes from the books we were given. 🙂

Lemon Leek Pork and Not So Sweet 16

Milestones are supposed to be fun and celebrated.  Our daughter turned 16 this past weekend and there were a few fun things planned.  Unfortunately the plague is still upon this household!  Poor thing woke up on her birthday with the stomach bug.  Day canceled!  Of all days.  We’ll have to do a proper celebration when we have them back again.

That is if it doesn’t keep going round this house.  I had it last week and now my poor husband is knocked down with it.  The puppies are keeping him company, too bad their licking isn’t the cure!

With all the germs, not a lot of cooking is going on so creating new dishes has been put on the back burner.

I did make this dish a few weeks ago on one of my few days off when I had some boneless pork ribs and leeks on hand.

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For this dish, I sliced the pork ribs lengthwise and browned them in butter in a large skillet.

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Once both sides have been browned remove the pork and cook off in the oven at 350F/175C to cook off.  Just make sure you don’t overcook the pork.  Chop about a cup and a half of oyster mushrooms (12oz) and saute them in the butter.  Cook until they start to brown.  As they brown add a few cloves of garlic that are finely chopped.

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Slice about half a cup/4oz of leeks and add to the skillet.  As that cooks add about two tablespoons of lemon juice.

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Next add 8-12 oz of cream and about 1/2 a cup/4oz of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Toss in cooked spaghetti and serve with the pork.

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It goes without saying this would be great with a nice white wine and some garlic bread.

Fingers crossed we can all get germ free and take our daughter out to celebrate.  🙂