Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

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Bacon and Chicken White Bean Soup and We Have a Houdini

Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.

Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.

With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.

Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.

Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.

Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.

I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.

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. 🙂

White Wine and Sage for Pork

It was a fantastic weekend.  It just felt really productive and it was fun to hang out with the kids after our holiday.  The meds for the fibro have started to work so I feel like I’m on a roll now.  And gathering steam!

The weather was perfect and no forecast of frost so it was time to clear out the house of the multitude of seedlings we have growing.  It can be hard to time when to start them because we have no idea when the danger of frost has past.  It can be the beginning of April or the end of May.  We got most of it planted and we’re just left with the tomatoes.  I was playing it safe in case the weather people were wrong.  Which never happens.  Ahem.

I was also in crazy baking mode.  I found some burratta at the shops and wanted to do an Italian night with the kids so I made ciabatta and chopped up fresh tomatoes to go with the burratta as a starter.  I also made brioche and shortbread which I’ll be posting about soon.

I flipped through the cookery book that I have by Marcella Hazan and she had a recipe with white wine and sage for pork ribs.  I used it as an inspiration though the only two ingredients I used was the white wine and the sage.  I had a pork loin to cook for this.

White wine sage pork 1 2016

We have discovered that my son, who hates mushrooms, is ok with oyster mushrooms.  So we found some nice fresh mushrooms to pair with the fresh sage.   I chopped enough mushrooms to make up a cups’ worth.  I also finely chopped 3-4 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh sage.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

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Finish it off in the oven at 350F/175C.   In the skillet add a bit more olive oil and the mushrooms.  Saute for a few minutes then add the garlic.

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Once the mushrooms have browned a bit add 3/4 cup of dry white wine and 1/2 a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and add the sage.  After the sauce has reduced by a third season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

I also made a mash with potato and parsnip.  To dish up add the mash and topped with sliced pork and the sauce.

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I felt the sage was a strong flavour so I would back off the sage a bit for myself but my family all thought different.  Funny how taste buds work!

Curried Carrot Soup

Oooh, it was very scary in town last night.  Lots of ghouls and monsters wandering about asking for candy.   And I bet most of them slept well after their quest for the sweet stuff.  It was a little bittersweet last night as our kids were off doing their own thing this year.  It’s tradition for us to gather at a friend’s house as their neighbourhood is a fabulous place to trick o treat.  We went without them to see all the kids having fun.  The best costume was a young girl who took a parasol and stringed it with lights to be a jelly fish.  You could see her journey through the neighbourhood.  A fantastic job.

The husband of the duo where we go likes to dress up as death.  He has an old sickle that was the wife’s great grandmother’s.  Once there are enough of us to hand out candy he starts slowly walking the driveway dragging the sickle.  A bit scary.  So it’s fascinating to watch the kids.  A good number, even the tiny ones, will loudly declare “You don’t scare me!”  Some keep an eye on him as they make their way to the candy.  A couple get scared but with the rest of us yelling it’s ok, there’s candy at the end, they make it as well.  I don’t think there was one child that gave up candy out of fear.  🙂

Now I’m not one, when this time rolls by, to go pumpkin crazy.  Occasionally I make a pumpkin pie but that’s it.  Crikey, they put it in everything!  People go mad over it.  But I do enjoy good harvest soups.  The comfort rustic ones that take the chill off the bones.  And if they are quick even better!

A couple of weeks ago I made a curried carrot soup for the family as I had to teach class that night.  Nothing is easier to make ahead of time and just reheat.

Curried Carrot Soup

Peel and slice 3-4 carrots depending on their size and thinly slice them.  Chop up half a large red onion and coarsely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic.  Add about 4 cups of chicken stock.

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Bring to a boil and cook until the carrots are tender.  Use a blender or an immersion blender to blend all soup.

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Don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth, this is a rustic soup.  Put it back on the heat and bring it to a low simmer.  Now the seasoning bit is a guideline.  I used hot curry powder, curry paste, cumin, sea salt, pepper, and a bit of garam masala.  The last bit you don’t want to use a ton. A little goes along way. We really like the curry flavour and the heat so I add a good amount.  I also add a spoonful of the mango habanero sauce I made recently.  This is seriously hot so don’t go overboard with that bit!  Simmer to allow all the flavours to develop together.

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Top with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraise.  Garnish with fresh chive.  This is a very warming soup.  Wonderful on a cold day or if you have a cold!

Seared Lamb with Pear Sauce and Not Enough Hours in the Day….

I’m loathe to talk Christmas before Thanksgiving.  Growing up nothing remotely Christmas would show up until the day after Thanksgiving.  Now?  I see stuff in September.  I mean, seriously, 3-4 months of Christmas?  By the time it rolls round, we’re burned out.   I do, of course, make an exception for the lists.  Budget wise, it’s silly to try to do it all in one month.

So we were trading lists and I asked for things to match my interests.  We don’t need stuff, per se.  Honestly, those that love shopping, where do they put it all?  But I love to get books or gadgets that match our interests of gardening, photography, beer and cidre making.  Of course cooking!  Plus, we learning (or trying to learn) different languages.  The list is long.

My mum’s response?  Fabulous, I’m amazed you find the time for it all!  And there’s the rub.  I don’t have the time needed to do all the interests.  I do hope with the physio for my neck and hips, when everything is healed I can just fill the hours with productive stuff rather than icing or heating the injuries. They have taken up way too much of my time over the past several years.  I’m trying to be patient but I’m chomping at the bit to get healed and do bunches of stuff.

In the meantime, it’s one foot in front of the other.  And try to catch up with the blog posts.  It’s not tax season, this is crazy that I’m having trouble finding time to post and read all the ones I follow.  I was reading Jovina Cooks Italian a little while ago and she mentioned trying lamb with pear.  I thought I pinned it but I can’t find that post.  So, Jovina, please feel free to put the link in the comments!  But I was intrigued and thought it would be a great pairing to try.

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When I mentioned the idea I think my husband was worried it would be too sweet.  We had some dried red currants on hand that would balance the sweetness.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of butter.  Season the lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the lamb.

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Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  In the skillet, add half a chopped onion and two small chopped pears.  Throw in a small handful of the currents.

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Cook for a few minutes to allow the onions to soften and to have the pears to start to break down a bit.  Add a cup of chicken stock and half a cup of a dry white wine.  Bring to a simmer and season with sea salt and pepper.

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Simmer until the lamb is finished.  Let the lamb rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  I also roasted potatoes and cooked up some corn for the sides.

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I’m really glad I tried this flavour combo.  It is a very easy sauce to make with a great balance of tart and sweet over the lamb.  It just goes to show, you should always think outside the box!

Greek Lemon Dill Chicken

Is it rude to want to lick the plate?  Probably, so I showed great restraint with this meal.  I got up as much as I could with the fork though.  🙂

I have a cookery book called “The Foods of the Greek Islands” by Aglaia Kremezi.  All sorts of wonderful recipes to try.

This is my version of the dish.  I didn’t vary to far from the recipe but I also wasn’t in the mood to use any blender.  And I changed the amounts of the ingredients for the balance I wanted.

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In a skillet, heat up about a 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Season the chicken legs with sea salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the chicken.

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Remove from the heat.  In the scallions add about 1/2 cup of chopped scallions.  Cook to they are wilted.

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Add the chicken back to the skillet.  Add a cup of dry white wine and a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.

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Remove the chicken again.  Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and about 4 tablespoons of chopped dill.  Stir well and bring it back to a simmer.  Add the chicken once more, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked.

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To serve, cut up the chicken and serve with the sauce spooned over it.  We also served this with roasted potatoes and corn.

This has to be one of my favourite sauces I’ve made to date.  Very flavourful and bright.

Gorgonzola Risotto with Filet Mignon and Sundried Tomato Sauce

Last week I passed the three year mark for blogging.  One of the changes WordPress seems to have made is they now make it very low key.  Basically it’s “So, yeah, you are another year down, don’t forget to take out the trash” tone to it.  I liked how it was before where they gave you a great breakdown on how you are doing, what was a hit, what wasn’t.  I’m ok with a little woot, woot!

And with three years of recipes sometimes it’s hard to come up with something new.  Things have been somewhat calm this past week which would allow me more time to cook.  But then instead of writer’s block, I was having a bit of cooking block.  Broke that on Wednesday!  I wanted a special meal with flavours that wouldn’t be subtle.  We had a couple of filets in the freezer and some sundried tomatoes to use up.  Off to the store to get some gorgonzola and oyster mushrooms and I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do.

Prep the ingredients beforehand for everything.  To add a bit of crunch to the dish I toasted a third of a cup of pine nuts.  Do it in a dry skillet.  And keep an eye on it!  It can take awhile to toast but can burn quickly.

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Remove the pine nuts from the skillet and set aside.  In a larger skillet start the risotto.  This recipe is for 2-3 people.  First by melting 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add a finely chopped small shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.

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Add 1/2 a cup of risotto and saute for a minute or so.  Then add a tablespoon or so of champagne vinegar.  Stir well.

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This recipe needs about 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  This current batch I made was the best so far.  So much flavour!  Add about a 1/2 a cup at a time and allow the risotto to absorb the liquid.  At this point, in a small skillet, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  When it is hot add the filets to the skillet.  Make sure they are seasoned well with sea salt and pepper.  Baste with the butter as you cook.

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Finish the steak off in the oven at 350F/175C until the desired doneness.  Allow it to rest while you finish the meal. In the same skillet, add a bit more butter then saute some shallots, garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  Saute for a couple of minutes to soften the tomatoes then add a handful of the oyster mushrooms.

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Once the risotto is almost done add a third of a cup of crumbled gorgonzola and about the same of mascarpone cheese to the risotto.

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Mix well.  Just before serving add the pine nuts and a small handful of basil.

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Serve with the filet and top with the mushroom sundried tomato sauce.

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There were a few strong flavours in this dish but it was balanced and delicious.  When I mentioned it to my daughter she said I could make it for them.  Anytime.  I think I can swing that.

PS.  So I started this post this morning but got interrupted by doctors appointments and things.  The whole day went pear shaped and I only just remembered I hadn’t finished this when we were walking the dogs.  My husband called it postus interruptus.  🙂  As we are getting ready for date night I’ll be further behind on reading posts but I promise to catch up!

Duck a la Rhubarb and the Roller Coaster of a Garden

It’s a bit of a struggle this year.  Our garden is giving us a run for our money with it being inconsistent in deciding what it wants to grow.  Every year there is usually one or two things that are stubborn.  But with the lack of rain in May and the reappearance of rabbits this year we’re not having much luck with the eggplant, tomatillos, parsnips, onions, leeks, and beets!

I have to say though our potatoes are going gangbusters.  So far they are the best we’ve ever had.  We’re struggling to keep up with adding dirt and straw to the towers as the plants grow.  Fingers crossed we’ll get a harvest bigger than what we put in!

A while back when Johnny had the Feed the Piglet blog he sent me a link for a Rhubarb Duck recipe.  Unfortunately the link is now private, though you can see latest posts on Kitschnflavours site.  So I had to come up with my own recipe.  Gasp!

Rhubarb duck 1 2015

Rhubarb is a perfect pairing with duck with the tartness of the rhubarb and the richness of the duck.  Slice 2-3 stalks of rhubarb.  Finely chop a handful of fresh thyme and half a sweet onion.

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Score the duck skin and season with sea salt and pepper.  Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet and place the duck skin down.  You don’t want a high heat for this because you want to render the fat without burning the duck.  Once the duck has rendered turn it over to sear the other side.

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Because this was a big piece of duck I finished it off in the oven.  While the duck cooks add the rhubarb, onion, and thyme to the skillet.  Saute to soften the rhubarb and onion.  Grate an inch square (2.5 cm sq) of fresh ginger into the skillet.

Rhubarb duck 4 2015As the rhubarb cooks down add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  It was interesting because I didn’t add any citrus to this dish but there was a definite citrus taste to it.  Must have come from the rhubarb.

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Once the duck is cooked to medium let it rest before slicing.  Unfortunately we had a tough piece of bird!  I cooked up some mashed potatoes and pan roasted Brussels Sprouts.  The kids enjoyed this what with their love of duck and rhubarb.  It was mine to screw up!  🙂

Spicy Aubergine with Roasted Chicken

I could use this hot spicy dish today given how bitter cold it is.  We’re in a deep cold snap and hopefully it won’t last long.  Guinness is not impressed at all.

Rosemary from Cooking in Sens did a post with spicy aubergine and veal a few weeks ago and I loved the flavours that were in the dish.  I had most of the ingredients and two chicken thighs to use up.  Plus our kids were coming back from Florida and I wanted to make them a nice meal to welcome them home.

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Use a glass bowl big enough to hold the meat you choose to use.  Finely chop a shallot to give you about 1/4 cup.  Add 4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Then add 7 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1/8 cup of Sriracha sauce, 1/8 chilli garlic sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well.  Add the chicken and make sure it is well coated.  Cover and set aside for at least and hour in the fridge.

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When it is time to make dinner heat the oven to 350F/175C.  Bake the chicken thighs turning every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

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While the chicken is cooking add the rest of the marinade to a skillet.  Add a cup of chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Allow it to reduce by about a third or so.  If the sauce is too spicy add more chicken stock.  I had to do this otherwise I think I would have blown the kids out of their seats.

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While the sauce is simmering, cube a cup and a half of aubergine and slice up the cooked chicken.  Add to the sauce and cook until the aubergine is cooked.  Just at the end add a handful of sliced scallion.

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Serve with rice noodles or rice.

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This was very spicy!  This would have a great chance of curing the common cold.  🙂  Which given the season, isn’t a bad thing!