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.  🙂

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Using the Carrot and Keeping Things Positive

Yesterday was a much needed day for so many people.  There has been so much rhetoric and hatred that seemed to have been winning out and leaving a lot of us feeling adrift and shocked.  But yesterday was an historic day.  It was a day that millions across the world stood up peacefully and said we don’t accept that.  The reports today are estimating that nearly 3 million in the US alone showed up which made it the most represented protest in US history.

I know it was called the Women’s March but it was inspiring to see that men and children joined in as well and that we are standing up together and rejecting the hate, rejecting the notion that we are going to be dragged backwards.  I’m afraid we will for awhile but I hope that we will not be silenced and we will fight to move our rights forward for all.

In our little town we had a turnout of about 500 people.  It was fabulous, though as I looked round you could see people of my parent’s generation and all I could think was that they must be so irritated they have to march for this again.  Signs around the world definitely bore this out.

Here are some of my photos of yesterday to share with you.

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I think if we can keep this positivity and using the carrot instead of the stick we can do so much.  Well, except voting.  That’s going to be a very big stick.

In the middle of tax season starting and standing up for ourselves I am finding time here and there to be creative in the kitchen.  Not as much as I’d like but it’s that time of the year!

We had great success with the carrots in the garden.  They came out massive but very sweet and tender.  There was the last large one to use up and because the kids love soup this time of the year I made a carrot ginger soup.  There are a lot of recipes out there with orange juice but that would that would make this soup super sweet so I went the savory route.

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In a saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop up about half a red onion.  You want to end up with a 1/2 cup/4oz or so.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Begin to saute while you cube the carrot.  Obviously if you don’t have a massive carrot, cube 4-6 of them depending on size.  Add the carrot to the saucepan.

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Add enough chicken stock to cover the carrots and bring to a simmer. Grate fresh ginger into the pan. I did about an inch/2.5cm square. Then add a small handful of fresh tarragon.

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I seasoned this with sea salt and pepper.  I wanted a little kick to this so I added a bit of red pepper flakes.  Once the carrots are cooked through puree and add back onto the heat.  Add a cup of cream and slowing heat that through.

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Add a dollop of sour cream and enjoy with your favourite bread.

I sincerely hope that yesterday is the beginning of hope and positivity where we find our strength to stand up against the drumming of fear.

 

Seafood Chowdah

Years ago, when my family had a small manufacturing company, my dad would make a fish chowder for the Christmas party.  Once he made it, that was it, I don’t think he was allowed to make anything else.  His dish was guaranteed to disappear.  I found his recipe that he used because I wanted to make a treat for my visiting in-laws.

Of course I couldn’t leave it alone!  I had to make it my own.  Good thing my dad is used to these kind of shenanigans.  It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t scarf down a bowl of his if it magically appeared before me.  It would not have a chance to get cold!

This is a very easy dish to put together, just make sure you have good quality ingredients.  No skimping!

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I found lovely cuts of salmon and cod at the co-op.  You want firm fish for this chowder.  I cubed three red skin potatoes and covered with water.  Bring the water to a boil and while the potatoes are cooking prep the other ingredients.  I chopped half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and begin cooking the onion.  Once the onion is translucent add the garlic.  I couldn’t find salt pork so I chose to use pancetta instead.  If you find salt pork you do not need a lot otherwise you can overpower the chowder.  I chopped about 1/2 a cup of pancetta and added it to the skillet.

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Add a handful of fresh thyme and a 1/2 cup of dry white wine.  Cook for a  few minutes.  Once the potatoes begin to soften add the contents of the skillet to the pot.  Cube the fish and add that as well.

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Add enough water to cover the fish.  Don’t bring it to a boil!  Slowly cook the fish at a low simmer. It will gradually begin to flake without becoming tough.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add a bit more wine to taste if you need to.  Wait until you are ready to serve before you add a cup of cream and two tablespoons of salted butter.  Warm through and serve.

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My husband made some homemade bread to go with this dish.  So good with butter!  And it holds up as leftovers.

Seared Pork with Creamy Cognac Mushroom Sauce

It feels good to be able to sit up at a computer and actually blog.  Which seems a strange thing to say.  The cold going round here knocks you on your backside.  There was barely enough energy to work the remote.  Forget watching anything with a plot as keeping focused was not on the cards!  Which meant silly stuff like Real Housewives.  Please, nothing real about them!  My brain may never recover.

I did find Design on a Dime.  Which is very lightweight but has inspired several ideas for our porch that I want to try out when the weather gets a bit warmer.  I’m looking forward to creating a comfy area to hang out in.

It also felt good this weekend to get back into the kitchen and work on creating dishes.  I had some pork ribs and some root vegetables to use and I wanted to do something on the French side.  There were a ton of recipes using mushrooms and cream.  A combination that I love.

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I prepped the roast veg of potato, parsnip, and carrot first and got those cooking.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, season the pork with sea salt and pepper, then brown all four sides.

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Remove from the skillet and cover with tin foil.  Finely chop a shallot (these can be potent and make you cry!) and add to the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes on medium heat.  You want the shallots to soften, not brown, then add 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic.

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After another couple of minutes add a few mushrooms that have been sliced.  Then add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, some sea salt, and pepper.

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Once the mushrooms start to brown add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  Add about 4 tablespoons of cognac and a couple of tablespoons of stone ground mustard.

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Put the pork back into the skillet and simmer until the pork is cooked and the sauce has reduced a bit.  Then add a 1/3-1/2 cup of cream.  Taste and add more cognac and mustard if needed.  Sometimes the cream can dampen the strong flavours.

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Serve over the roasted veg and top with the sauce.  You might find you have plenty of sauce left over.  I used mine to make a creamy chicken soup for tonight’s dinner.  Too good to let it go to waste!

Finally French Baked Eggs!

There are times where you have to try, try, and try again.  Such is life.  It gets a bit annoying when that happens with a recipe.

I saw a recipe in a cookery book of Barefoot Contessa’s for easy baked eggs.  Ooh, I thought, this looks amazing.  Let’s have a go.

To start her method was to broil.  I followed it to the letter.  Three times and failed each time.  I was starting to get annoyed!  The flavours were there but the yolk would over cook and the whites would stay runny.  Not the way I wanted.

In the meantime I tried Jovina Cooks Italian recipe for Marinara Baked Eggs.  I still struggled with getting the yolks runny but it was a better result.  My husband and I talked about maybe separating the eggs and cooking the whites for a bit.  Darya on Tortore mentioned in the comments the same idea so that settled it.  I was going to give it another try.

French baked eggs 1 2015

This recipe is for one serving.  Finely chop a handful of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Then finely mince a clove of garlic.  Grate about a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  Set all this aside.

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Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.  In a shallow bake safe dish heat up 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream and a tablespoon of butter.

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Separate three eggs and add the whites and half the cheese and herb mixture to the dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until the whites are almost set, fluffing a few times as it cooks.  Add the three yolks.

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Add the rest of the herb and cheese mixture.  Bake a few minutes more until the yolks are warm but still runny.  I was feeling really positive by this point!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat.  Grate a bit more parmesan over the eggs.  Toast up crusty bread to serve with.

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Look at that, runny yolks!  This was easy.  🙂  And oh so good.  I am so happy I figured this out.  There is an extra step but it means I get the result I’m supposed to.

Roast Lamb and Mint Cream Sauce

Hallo, hallo, hallo.  Been awhile since I’ve sat down and typed something other than tax figures.  It’s been crazy working a lot of hours plus I hurt my hip again so an equal amount of hours have been spent horizontal.  Boy, does that get boring!  I thought I’d complete the injuring myself by slicing my thumb.  Does that make me a real chef now?  I’m hoping my streak of self-inflicted bad luck is at an end.

But this is all peanuts compared to how yesterday went.  It ended with my sister being in a terrible accident while skiing.  Now she will be all right but she has a good 6-8 weeks to heal.  And quite frankly it could have gone in a direction that she wouldn’t be with us anymore.  So we are counting our lucky stars she will be fine in the long run.

It struck me how closely we skate to the edge.  It doesn’t take much.  Which brings me to the way the day started.  In our town it’s against the law to use skateboards, bicycles, and scooters on the sidewalk.  Common sense on why but we’re stuck with the young guys whizzing about.  I came out of a shop yesterday and almost got hit by a guy flying on a scooter.  As I was thinking that it would really hurt if he knocked me down I see him go flying over the bonnet of a car.  The driver was completely shocked, there wasn’t any way she would have seen him.  Luckily she wasn’t going very fast as she just turned onto that road.  Then he’s complaining about it being the third time being hit!  But he wasn’t hurt.  This is what drives me crazy.  My sister isn’t rash, uses common sense and gets badly hurt.  The idiot who is rash, does dumb things, and gets hits repeatedly brushes off and goes about his way.  There are times where it’s hard to not think life is grossly unfair.

Definitely looking for the luck of the Irish this week. It was just my husband and me for St Patrick’s Day and I wanted to make a special meal in honour of it.  Which means no corned beef and cabbage!  You’d think that is the only Irish food given the way social media lit up with corned beef and cabbage.  And I really don’t like that particular dish so I decided to roast lamb.  I took my inspiration from the cookbook The Irish Isle by Sharon O’Connor.  Her recipe is called Noisettes of Lambe with Sorrel-Mint Cream Sauce.  I chose this before I found out sorrel is impossible to find so I had to adjust a bit.

I found a lovely piece of lamb to roast.

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Pre heat the oven to 425F/220C.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Sear all sides of the lamb.  In the roasting pan add a few sprigs of rosemary, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a few splashes of dry white wine.

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Roast until it is medium rare or until you achieve the desired doneness.  Meanwhile in the skillet add about 3/4 cup of chopped onion.  Let the onion soften a bit then add a 1/3 cup of the dry white wine, a tablespoon of dry vermouth, and a cup of homemade chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and start reducing.  Take a handful of fresh mint and chiffonade into thin strips.  Add to the sauce.

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Allow the sauce to reduce by a third to a half.  Once the lamb is finished have it rest for about 10 minutes.  Just before the dinner is to be served add about 1/3 cup of heavy cream and the drippings from the roasted lamb to the sauce.

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Slice the lamb and serve with the sauce.  As a treat for my husband I sauteed Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes to go with the lamb.

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What a crazy week but we are so grateful that my sister will recover and for all the nuttiness that can happen in life that is the most important bit.

Carrot Ginger Soup

The sun will be starting it’s journey back our way today.  This makes me happy.  I’m not a fan of the shorter days.  After getting tired of not being seen walking the dogs we bought them LED lights to hang from their collars.  They are super bright so that should help with the close calls trying to get across the roads. Luckily they don’t seem to bother the dogs and they have an added benefit of lighting up the area they are sniffing so I can see if they are about to eat something they shouldn’t!

With all that has been going on the past few weeks I lost track what was in the fridge.  I have a bad habit of buying ingredients when we already have them because I don’t see them in there!  At some point we bought a bunch of carrots and I needed to use them up.  I have been wanting to try a carrot soup.  It’s funny growing up the only way I liked carrots was raw.  But tastes change.

I should say I only liked organic ones.  I don’t know what it is but conventional carrots are always dry to me and not as sweet.  I know for most things the taste difference isn’t huge between organic and conventional but things like tomatoes and carrots I find a big difference.  Organic carrots seem to have more water and sweetness to them.

I found this carrot soup recipe that looked really good and adjusted it to the number of servings we needed.  Their recipe said it would be 8 servings but I made what I thought was enough for 4 but it was really closer to 8 so who knows how much soup the original recipe would have made.

Carrot ginger soup 1 2014

Finely chop a 1/4 of a large red onion and saute in about 2 tablespoons of butter.

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While the onion is cooking peel and slice 3-4 medium sized carrots.  You want at least two cups of sliced carrots.  I think I ended up with nearly 3 cups.  Add them to the onion and stir well then add 2 cups of homemade chicken stock.  As it is coming to a boil grate about 2 inches of fresh ginger into the soup, season with salt and pepper, then stir well.  Simmer until the carrots are tender and cooked.  This took about 45 minutes for the carrots I had.  Then use an immersion blender or a regular blender to blend all the ingredients.  Put back on the heat and add 1/2 a cup of heavy cream.

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Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed and warm up as needed.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

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Full of flavour without much difficulty.  I discovered a few days later that it was very good cold as well so I will be having this in the summer as a light meal or a first course.  If I had some I would have garnished this dish with chives and the chive flowers.  Another thing to add in the summer when the garden is flourishing.  6 more months!  Not that we’re counting or anything.  🙂

Strawberry Cream Puffs

And poof!  Summer is over.  The kids were off to school today.  Both are in the final years at their prospective schools.  Our son is in 5th grade and our daughter is in 8th.  Seems like we were just bringing our son to kindergarten.  It can be bittersweet.  We are so proud of the people our kids are becoming but childhood just flies by.

I wanted to make a summer dessert as a special treat for their last day of “freedom” and we had some fresh strawberries on hand.  I thought cream puffs with a strawberry sauce would do the trick!

Choux pastry is easy to make, you just need a bit of elbow grease to make it happen.  I referenced Julia Child for this recipe.

You will need:

1 cup water

6 Tablespoons of butter

a pinch of salt

a pinch of nutmeg

1 tsp of salt

3/4 cups of flour

4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C

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In a small saucepan combine the water, butter, salt, nutmeg, and sugar.  Bring to a boil to melt the butter.

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Remove from the heat and add the flour stirring very well and continuously until the flour is incorporated.

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Put it back on medium high heat, mixing the entire time, for a couple of minutes until the dough starts to leave a film on the pan.

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Remove from the heat again and add the eggs one at a time.  For the first egg you’ll need to move quickly so you don’t end up with cooked egg so stir fast.  After the first egg is absorbed add the next one and so on.

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Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with a tip that is large enough for the size pastry you want.  For example if you want 3″ pastry use a 3/4″ tip.  Squeeze the pastry onto a greased cookie sheet.  I made the mistake assuming that our baking sheet was nonstick enough.  Don’t do that!  Space the pastry dollops the same distance as the diameter of the dollops.

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Beat one egg and dab the tops of the dollops without letting the egg drip down.  You don’t want the egg to pin the pastry down.

Strawberry cream puff 7 2014If you are doing small pastries that are about an 1 1/2″ or smaller bake for 20 minutes.  If you are doing larger pastries about 3″ then bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 375F/190C for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  For both sizes put an inch slit in the side of each puff and put it back in the oven with the oven turned off and the door ajar for 10 minutes.  Julia Child did mention that if the dough in the larger puffs are still moist in the centre to scoop it out.

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The strawberry sauce is super simple.  In a small saucepan add strawberries, grated ginger, a bit of lemon juice, and 1/8 cup of brown sugar.  Bring to a simmer for a few minutes to soften the strawberries and melt the sugar.  Because I didn’t grease the baking sheet properly I ended up with puff cups rather than puff balls.  So I turned them upside down and put in fresh whipped cream and topped with the strawberries.

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A nice way to end the summer before getting back into the routine of school and the coming fall.

Roasted Garlic Soup – A Slight Adventure

The other day I really wanted to try out the garlic soup in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I mean it’s Julia Child, how can you go wrong?  A lot wrong apparently.  I followed the recipe and ended up with a soup that tasted like boiled water with a bitter aftertaste of parsley.  I tried fixing it by adding some stock, dry wine, more garlic.  Just couldn’t get it to taste right.

But I still wanted garlic soup!  On Sunday night it was our daughter’s turn to have a sleepover so we did up roasted garlic and bacon for homemade pizza.  An excellent combo!  But we had plenty of roasted garlic left over and some bacon so I thought I would give the soup a go.

Because some of the ingredients were already prepped it was very easy to throw this soup together.

Roasted garlic soup 8 2013

I had about a half a cup of bacon leftover but I think I would want at least a cup next time.

Roasted garlic soup 2 2013

In a pot heat up about 3 cups of poultry stock with a couple of potatoes.   I used our turkey stock.  Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, chop up the roasted garlic.  I used about 2 heads worth.  Add that and the bacon to the stock.  Boil until the potatoes are soft.   Add a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and reduce to a simmer.

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About 15 minutes or so before it is ready to serve add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and bring to a simmer but do not boil.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and it is ready to serve.

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I did up some cheesy toast with parmasean cheese and also grated a bit of the cheese over the soup.  A nice stick to your ribs sort of soup.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Cream and Butter Sauce

One of my favourite cook books came from my good friend Corrie.  She and I have spent many a time over the years sharing good wine and food.  The feasts we’ve had!  For our wedding she bought us the “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marchella Hazan.  There are some wonderful recipes in this book and a great one is cream and butter sauce.  Also known as Alfredo sauce.  I usually make this with our Homemade Pasta.

However it was a crazy day so I used mushroom ravioli instead.  🙂

I did deviate from the recipe in the book a little so here is my version:

1 cup heavy cream

2T of butter

1 cup freshly grated parmigian-reggia

Pepper to taste.  (her recipe calls for salt.  I love salt but I find that the cheese adds plenty of saltiness as a good base.  I usually add a bit of salt at the table.)

A few shakes of ground nutmeg ( her recipe calls for whole nutmeg to be freshly ground)

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the cream. Heat slowly and stir with a whisk frequently.  Do not whisk so hard it becomes thick.  This is not a thick sauce but a lovely creamy sauce that coats the pasta.

While the sauce is warming up I saute mushrooms and garlic.  This time we had bacon left over from the Bacon Crostini  so I used a bit of that.  As the bacon starts to crisp up I add a bit of white balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.

I add the cheese to the heated cream and butter and stir thoroughly as it melts.  I then add the pepper and nutmeg.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  At this time the pasta is cooking.  Just as the pasta is done I add the sauce to the mushroom mixture and then the pasta.  Toss and serve.

Grate some fresh cheese and enjoy!  This is an uncomplicated dish that takes less than 30 minutes to make if you aren’t making fresh pasta and the flavours are amazing.