Mushroom Leek Pie

I’ve been on a bit of a vegetarian kick lately when I’ve been looking for new recipes. I came across a Mushroom Leek Pie with a creamy gravy, though Attachment Mummy’s recipe was vegan. I’ve no problem, obviously, with vegan dishes but I’m not a fan of dairy substitutes so I decided to go just with vegetarian for this dish. And since the hill towns in our area saw snow this week, comfort food is all the range round here!

We did manage to start to get some plants in that won’t do well in frost. I may have been tempting fate but we’ll see. We’re going to have a bed for edible flowers and then a bed for cut flowers. Any suggestions for what to plant would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, if all goes well this summer there will be some recipes inspired by the edible flower bed.

Technique for Mushroom Leek Pie

Chop up all the ingredients. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and mushrooms.

Depending on how much butter the mushrooms soak up, you may need to add more butter when it comes time to make the roux. They can be quite the sponges!

When the mushrooms start to brown add the oregano and leeks. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and mustard.

I like my gravies in pies to be thick so I added the 1/3 cup of flour. If you don’t like it overly thick go with a 1/4 cup. The mixture will get thick and a bit stiff. Stir while cooking for a few minutes then add the white wine. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil while stirring. You don’t want a roiling boil and keep an eye as it can boil over quickly if you aren’t paying attention. Add the parmesan cheese.

Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. You want to make sure the mustard and oregano come through the milk. Make up the pastry and roll out thinly. Spoon the mushroom and leek mixture into ramekins. Cover with the pastry. Use a knife to pierce the top and brush milk all over.

Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is flaky and golden brown.

Serve immediately. If you save some of this for another day, go with the 1/4 cup flour as it does get even thicker as leftovers.

Mushroom Leek Pie

A creamy pie with a lovely flaky crust.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Mushroom Leek Pie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour 70g
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Mushroom Leek Filling

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-8 mushrooms (depending on size), sliced
  • 1 cup chopped leek
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Pastry

  1. Using a pastry fork or fingers, blend the butter, salt and flour until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs.

  2. Add the water bit by bit to the mixture, using your fingers to incorporate the water into the pastry. You may need more than 2 tbsp but add water until the dough comes together.

  3. Roll out thinly and using a cookie cutter, cut to the size you need.

Mushroom Leek Filling

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the leeks and oregano. Cook for a few minutes.

  2. Add the flour and mustard. Stir while it cooks for a few minutes so the flour is cooked thoroughly.

  3. Add the white wine then season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Don't have it a rapid boil or it will boil over. To finish add the parmesan cheese.

Constructing the pie

  1. Fill four ramekins with the filling. Top with the cut pastry. Use a knife to put slits in the pastry and then brush the pastry with milk.

  2. Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

I’ve discovered, in our local co-op, a sweet potato called Hannah Sweet Potato (sometimes called a yam) which has a lovely flavour without being overly earthy like the normal sweet potato. I found a recipe for Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato by Simply Quinoa that looked interesting. Something easily adaptable to what I had on hand.

I was struck, as I made this while watching the rain come down for weeks on end, how lucky we are to have readily available ingredients. If we have a bad season in the garden it isn’t make or break. I’ve been watching Wartime Farm on YouTube which is a documentary about what the farmers had to go through in the UK during WWII. The historians living as they did in the ’40’s struggled with the wet weather. During wartime it would be catastrophic. If you like history and/or homesteading, it’s a fascinating 8 part series.

I do wonder how many people would thrive or survive in those conditions now. We live in a time of buying one use items, fast food, fast fashion etc. I do hope the trend of getting back to basics continues. There are a lot of skills that shouldn’t be lost.

Technique for Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

Here is my version of this dish based on what we had and what we like. But that’s the beauty of this dish, very versatile.

Roast the sweet potatoes and cook the quinoa according to the directions. Rinse the black beans and drain. Chop the veg. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet.

Start by sautéing the garlic, scallions and mushrooms.

Add the beans and corn. Cook for several minutes as the corn is frozen when tossed in. Add the spices and lime juice.

Near the end of cooking add the pepper. I always add the pepper so it just cooks but still stays crunchy. I really don’t like mushy peppers.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through cut them in half. Combine the quinoa, tomatoes and veg together. Spoon over the potatoes and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Add a dollop of sour cream and serve.

It’s a very inexpensive, very filling and very tasty meal.

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

An inexpensive flavourful vegetarian meal.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 Hannah sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and cooked
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp habanero flakes optional
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream to top

Instructions

  1. Bake the sweet potato at 400F/200C in the oven until tender. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sautè the garlic, mushrooms and scallions for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the beans and corn along with the spices, lime juice and cilantro. Cook for several minutes then add the pepper.

  4. Once the potatoes are cooked, slice them in half. Combine the veg, quinoa and tomato then spoon over the potato halves. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Serve while hot.

Tabouli Salad and Resolutions

We’ve forgotten what the sun looks like in our area. Mother Nature has taken the April Showers bit very seriously, enough to continue into May. Really hope there will be a plethora of flowers soon! Even though the weather calls for a lot of comfort food, sometimes bright light food lets me pretend it’s a lovely spring. Tabouli Salad fits the bill with the fresh ingredients and flavour.

I’m not one for resolutions. We all know how long they can last, we’re lucky if it’s the end of January. But after several years of working on my mental health, injuries, etc, it was time to work on the physical stuff and lose the weight I gained from meds I was on. A big key was doing food bowls with various healthy choices to mix and match so I wouldn’t get bored. Tabouli salad is a great addition to this.

For this version I went heavy on the bulger wheat as some of the ingredients are quite strong and if I was going to be in a small cubicle with clients I couldn’t have dragon breath. I mean, dragons are cool if you are in Games of Thrones but not when you want clients to come back. The recipe will reflect the usual balance rather than what is shown in the photos.

Technique for Tabouli Salad

The bulger wheat needs to be prepped first. You can either boil the wheat for 12-15 minutes or add boiling water to the wheat, cover and let steam for 45 minutes. I tried both ways and they work but the steaming gives it a better texture.

Add the wheat to a bowl and add boiling water until it’s about 1/2in/1.5cm above the wheat. Cover with a tea towel and let steam for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

While the wheat is steaming prep the fresh ingredients. I used parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint and scallions. You can add other ingredients such as celery or garlic. For the tomatoes discard the seed pulp. Chop all the ingredients into small bits. Mix the dressing and toss the ingredients and set aside until the wheat is ready.


Rinse the bulger wheat with cold water and drain. Toss with the other ingredients. It’s ready to serve but when not serving keep it covered and chilled in the fridge.

I enjoyed it with a soft boiled egg and smoked salad. Brain food!

Tabouli Salad

A fresh flavourful salad is a great choice for dinner or food bowls.

Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Tabouli Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Bulger Wheat

  • 1 cup bulger wheat, coarse
  • Boiling water, enough to cover wheat

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions

Bulger Wheat

  1. Boil water.  Pour over the wheat until it’s covered by about 1/2in/1.5cm.  Cover with a tea towel and let stand for 45 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.  Rinse with cold water and drain.

Fresh Ingredients and Dressing

  1. Mix the fresh ingredients and dressing together.  Set aside until the wheat is cooked and drained.  Toss everything together.  It is ready to serve.  Store in the fridge covered.  

Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

It’s official, our daughter has chosen where she is going to university, deposits paid, and so begins the journey. We’re excited for her but will miss her very much. It’s time though, she’s ready to fly. Now that tax season is over we’ll be going over any gaps in her knowledge with recipes, budgeting, etc. She actually is pretty good with this stuff but she has a list of things she wants to make sure she knows. Trust me, we are not sending our kids out into the world without knowing how to write a check or do laundry.

A big thing as she heads out into the world is knowing how to cook cheap and delicious meals. The kids had mentioned an idea of Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese that they were playing round with at the other house which would fit the bill. As it is a cool and rainy spring, we’re still in the comfort food season which makes this meal perfect.

Making the Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

This can definitely be made on the cheap. Use chicken thighs instead of breast, lemon juice instead of white wine, etc.

Marinate the chicken a few hours beforehand. Whisk the ingredients together and add the chicken. Cover and chill in the fridge.

Grill the chicken until just cooked. It will then be cooked more in a skillet and oven so you don’t want to end up with rubbery chicken. It’s bad enough as a strange toy but awful when eating! I discovered I was out of propane for the grill so inside it was. We use our cast iron griddle constantly. Pity it’s so heavy!

While making the sauce cook up the pasta. Melt the butter and add the onion. Cook until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic and mustard. Bring to a simmer, careful not to let it catch. Add the flour and whisk thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes while whisking, Then add the remaining marinade, wine and milk. Keep stirring until it comes to a boil but don’t boil over! With milk it can happen in a blink which creates quite a mess.

In goes the cheese, chicken (cubed) and ham. Simmer until the cheese has melted and you have a creamy thick mixture.

Pour into the baking pan with the pasta and mix well. Top with panko bread crumbs.

Bake until the top is nice and golden.

It is ready to serve as soon as it is out of the oven. We did carb overload with fresh baked bread my husband made. It’s so good with butter! It went quickly as I found when I went to have some for lunch and it was all gone!

Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

Comfort food with a twist.  Grilled chicken with corden bleu flavours.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Marinade and Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast 16oz/454g
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Mac and Cheese

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp brown mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 2 cups shredded jarlsberg cheese
  • 3-5 slices ham, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta
  • Panko Bread crumbs to cover top

Instructions

Marinade and Chicken

  1. Whisk the ingredients together.  Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  Coat and cover the chicken with the marinade and chill in the fridge for a few hours. 

  2. When it’s time to make the dish, grill the chicken until just done.  Cube and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/175C

  2. Cook the pasta

  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic, mustard and sea salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes then add the flour to create the roux.  Cook additional few minutes.  Add the remaining marinade, wine and milk.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Next add the chicken and ham.  

  4. Add the pasta and sauce to a baking dish.  Top with the panko bread crumbs. 

  5. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden.  Then serve.  

Apple Brie Chicken

“Out of the mouth of babes” is a very apt phrase.  Obviously it’s important to listen to your children.  Aside from the fact it’s healthy for them and can be a lot of fun for all, you never know when they will be a source of inspiration.  

One of my son’s chores is to help me walk the dogs.  It’s my favourite “task” to have him do as it means one on one time with him.  I get to listen about his day, find out how things are going for him, etc.  We also, surprise, surprise talk about food.  He mentioned trying a frozen stuffed chicken with apples and brie/camembert.  Ooh, I said, that sounds really good.  It promptly went on my list of thing to make.

Technique for Apple Brie Chicken:

This is a quick easy meal to put together with breaded chicken and a mushroom garlic sauce.

Sweet apples with brie is a lovely flavour combo.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Slice pockets into the chicken breasts and fill with the apple and brie.

Coat the chicken with beaten egg and dredge in panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown the chicken on all sides.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven.  In the same skillet add the mushrooms.  Sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic and rosemary.

Add the butter and wine and simmer for a few minutes.  Once the chicken is finished cooking serve with the mushroom sauce spooned over the chicken.

I served this with corn and roasted potatoes.  See, it does pay to listen to the kids. 🙂  

Apple Brie Chicken

A quick meal with apple and brie. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Apple Brie Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 slices brie or camembert
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine 3oz
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

Chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

    Slice pockets into the chicken and stuff with the brie and apple.  Dredge in the beaten egg and Panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Brown all sides of the chicken and finish cooking in the oven.

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  1. Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil in the skillet for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and rosemary.  Cook for a few more minutes.  Add the wine and butter. Simmer for a minute or two.  

Serving

  1. Slice the chicken and spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.  

Cheesy Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

I’ve been in a definite comfort food mood this week, what with winter settling in and the holiday season having started.  Now that Thanksgiving has passed I’m well into the Christmas mood.  We had the perfect day this past weekend to find our tree.  Just above freezing with gorgeous blue skies.  Our daughter will be heading off to university next year so the traditions are a bit poignant this year. She just got her first notice of acceptance to the University of Manchester and we are very proud.  We just need to hear from all the ones she applied to then we’ll know where she ends up being.  It is an exciting time but it will be good to have it all sorted.

I did a rummage through our freezer and found a filet of beef that was the perfect size for my husband and I.  I’m getting ready for a craft fair this weekend so I needed an easy meal to make.  I came up with a cheesy pasta to go along with the pan seared filet of beef.

Technique for Creamy Pasta and Pan Seared Filet of Beef:

Cooking the Beef:

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Melt the butter in a hot skillet.  Season the beef and brown on all sides.

Cook in the oven until it is the desired doneness.  We prefer it medium rare on the rare side.  Cover and let the meat rest.

The Pasta and Sauce:

Prepare the pasta according to instructions.

In the same skillet used for the beef, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the brandy and the beef stock.  I took a page from Conor Bofin and had reduced my beef stock and created “ice” cubes out of them.  Certainly does save space.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the rosemary and cream.  Once that is heated through add the grated cheese.

Add the pasta.  Slice the steak and grate a bit more cheese over the dish and serve.

Perfect for when you need a fix of comfort food.  Makes getting snow a lot easier!

 

Cheese Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

An easy and flavourful comfort food with cheese and filet of beef.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Filet of Beef
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 cup beef stock 4oz
  • 1/3 cup heavy/double cream 3oz
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup equal part cheddar and jarlsberg
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cooking the Beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

    Melt the butter in a skillet.  Season the beef with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides of the beef.  Finish cooking in the oven until desired doneness.  Cover and rest before slicing.

Pasta Sauce

  1. In the same skillet you pan seared the beef sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Once the mushrooms start to brown add the brandy, rosemary and beef stock.  Simmer for a few minutes then add the cream.  Once it is heated through add the cheese.  Add the cooked pasta once the cheese is melted.  Stir well.

Putting it together

  1. Serve the pasta and sauce onto the plate.  Slice the beef and place on top of the pasta and grate fresh cheese over the dish.  

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

Those that have followed my blog for awhile know I have a list of food I like to eat when we go back home to the UK.  Fish and chips, sausage rolls and pork pie.  Obviously I don’t eat them the entire time we’re there, I have to fit in the plane seat on the way back.  But I do get through the list!

It’s been on my to do list to make homemade pork pie for quite awhile now.  When my father in law mentioned that he loves pork pie as well I decided now was the time.  They’ve gone home now and it’s strange not to have them here.  We really enjoy visiting with them.  Holidays seem to go by way too fast.  We are already planning the next few visits and the way time flies, well it won’t be long.

Technique for the pork pie filling:

Now, I won’t lie, this is a time consuming dish.  Worth it, but yes it will take awhile.  Mainly because of finely chopping the meat.  I didn’t want to use mince for this.

The recipe I used as a guide was from the BBC for Raised Pork Pie but with my twist.  As it is apple picking season, any excuse to use up the apples will do.  Pork goes really well with sage, thyme and apple.  Finely chop the meat, apple and garlic. When you chop the meat remove any hard fat.  You do want a balance of fat but you want that fat to render into the meat when cooking.  Add the herbs, sea salt and pepper.

Mix well and set aside.

Technique for pastry:

Next prepare the baking tin.  I used an 8″/20cm springform pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.  In a saucepan melt the butter in the water.  Bring it to a high simmer but don’t boil.

In a large mixing bowl add the flour and make a well.  Carefully pour the liquid into the flour.

Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.  When it becomes cohesive turn it out on a floured surface.

This will be fiddly!  Make no mistake.  Knead for a minute or so then divide it 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover and set aside the 1/3.  Flour the rolling pin to minimise the stickiness.  Roll out the pastry out thinly.  Fold it into a quarter.

This helps get it into the pan a bit easier.  Gently unfold it and press it up the sides.  Make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks.  Use your knuckles as nails are not your friends here!  Add the filling pressing it firmly into the pastry.

Roll out the remaining pastry then lay it on top of the pie.  Pinch the ends together and take a wooden spoon and poke the end in to make a hole in the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180C.  Reduce the heat to 325F/160C and bake for 90 more minutes.  Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie with the egg.

Bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.  In a small saucepan add the chicken stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil and add the gelatin.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the thyme. Using a funnel, gradually add the stock liquid to the pie.  This takes awhile as you don’t want the liquid to overflow.

Allow the whole pie to chill in the fridge overnight.

Serve with a side salad.  On the table we had salad cream, brown sauce, coleman’s mustard and branston pickle.  Can’t get more English than that!  🙂

 

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

A classic English dish with a twist of apple and thyme

Course Main Course
Cuisine English
Keyword Pork Pie
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2.25 lbs pork shoulder/butt 1000 grams
  • 1/2 lb pork belly 200 grams
  • 1 large apple
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh sage
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Pastry

  • 575g all purpose flour
  • 200 grams salted butter
  • 220 ml water

Remaining ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 packets gelatin a packet equals 3 leaves
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • handful thyme sprigs

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the meat, apple, garlic and herbs.  Mix well and set aside.  Make sure you remove the hard fat.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

    Heat the water and butter until a high simmer.  Add the flour to a mixing bowl and create a well.  Pour the hot liquid into the bowl and mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so.

    Line the bottom of an 8"/20cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the pastry in a 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover the 1/3.  Roll out the rest thinly and place into the pan.  Press the pastry up the sides, make sure there aren't any holes or cracks.  Press the filling into the pastry.

    Roll out the remaining pastry and place it on top of the filling.  Pinch the ends together.  Use a wooden spoon end to create a hole in the top.

  3. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325F/160C and bake for 90 minutes more.  Brush the beaten egg over the top and bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.

  4. Bring the chicken stock and thyme to a boil.  Add the gelatin and let cool.  Using a funnel, carefully pour the gelatin liquid into the pie.  Chill overnight in the fridge.  Serve with a side salad.  

 

New England Clam Chowder Brings Back Memories

New England Clam Chowder, or Chowdah if you want to get it right, brings me back to our family trips to the seashore in New England.  There is nothing like the sound of the sea and the smell of the ocean.  We would spend a day wandering round and it would invariably include a lobster meal with New England clam chowder.  Back when a lobster dinner didn’t require a mortgage to get!

With my in-laws visiting, I try to make meals that are a treat for them so when my father-in-law mentioned how much he loves New England clam chowder I knew I had to make it for him.  It’s been years since I had it so it was a treat for me as well.

Technique for New England Clam Chowder

As this doesn’t take long to cook, prep the ingredients up front.  Finely dice the potatoes and onions.  If you can find a large onion, you only need one.  For some reason we’re still getting tiny onions.

Coarsely chop the salt pork and brown in a saucepan.  Do this on medium heat as you want to render the fat a bit but don’t want to burn the meat.  After a few minutes add the chopped onion with the butter and bay leaves.

Cook until the onions start to become translucent.  Then add the flour to make a bit of a roux.  The goal is to have a hearty soup, not a watery soup.  Then add the potatoes and sautè for a minute.

Add 2 cups/16oz of chicken stock and 10oz of clam juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the clams.

At this point, if the soup is still watery, make a slurry of flour and water and add that to the pot.  Later when you add the cream and white wine it will thin it back out so it’s ok to go thick here.  Allow this to simmer for about a half hour to reduce a bit and to get the flavours going.  Just before you serve remove the bay leaves and add a cup/8oz of heavy/double cream and a third of a cup/3oz of dry white wine.  Don’t bring it to a boil but rather allow it to simmer.

Perfect with crusty bread

Serve it with some fresh baked bread.  Not surprisingly this was even better the next day.  It was very much enjoyed and it did bring back some lovely memories of when I was a child.

 

New England Clam Chowder

A delicious stick to your ribs soup for the cool nights.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup salt pork, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped or two small onions
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10 oz clam juice
  • 28 oz clams
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • 2 cups heavy/double cream
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

Instructions

  1. In a sauce pan, brown the salt pork on medium heat.  Add the butter, onions, and bay leaves.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour to create a roux.  

  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a minute then add the stock and clam juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the thyme and season with the sea salt and white pepper.  Add the clams.  Cook for a half hour.   Add a slurry of flour and water if the soup needs to be thicker.

  3. Just before serving add the cream and wine.  Bring to a simmer but don't boil.  Serve with crusty bread.  

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) and Will There Be Progress?

Once again the world watches.  Watches while a woman testifies about sexual assault in front of powerful men whose first reaction is to say boys will be boys.  When I was my daughter’s age I remember the world watching as well.  The message was the same then as it is now.  That breaks my heart.

I want better for my kids.  It seems a reasonable ask to for those who have been assaulted to heard and to raise boys to men who know “boys will be boys” is outdated and dangerous.  I’m inclined to believe Dr Ford, given the timeline of who she told.  Whether or not it’s true, I believe a proper investigation needs to be done.  I’m surprised things were delayed and today they are hearing her given how many have seemed to come to a conclusion already.  I don’t believe the proper venue is in the senate.  I’m curious what the result will be but I’m doubtful as much hasn’t changed since Thomas was confirmed 27 years ago.  On the flip side, Cosby has been sentenced so maybe, just maybe the tide is shifting.

Thai Food:

It is a quiet week as my in-laws drove to New York to visit old friends.  I don’t envy them doing the 8+ hour drive.  It is not a very exciting highway, straight and dull.  Hopefully they will have a good trip.

That leaves just my husband and I.  I’ve gone to cooking up a storm for 6 people to 2.  You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to adjust but I always find it hard to do that.  I either end up making too much or too little.  Because we did a traditional roast this past Sunday I had leftover chicken to use up so I thought it would be great to make a Thai dish.  We are both fans of the cuisine and luckily it’s very easy to cook.

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) Technique:

I have a cookery book called The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.  In it, there is a recipe for Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) that was a great choice to use up the chicken.  The interesting thing is the first ingredient in her recipe was wood ear fungus.  But the directions never mentioned putting it in the recipe!  At any rate, I used it as a light guide so I could use what I had on hand.

Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods are great meaty mushrooms.

The co-op had hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms and I wanted them to be the highlight the dish.  Because I wasn’t sure when my husband would be home I prepped all the ingredients first as it only, when using leftover chicken, takes a few minutes to cook.

You can make this in a skillet but it’s better in a wok if you have one.  Heat the peanut oil.  The 2 tablespoons may sound like a lot but when the mushrooms get tossed in, it’s needed.  But first cook the onions for a few minutes.  When the onions start to become translucent add the garlic.

Keep an eye on the garlic!  The oil is very hot and you want the garlic to be golden, not burnt.  If you are using uncooked chicken, start cooking it now.  Add the mushrooms to the wok.  This needs to be cooked for a few minutes given how hearty the mushrooms are. While this is cooking add the ginger and stir well to coat the mushrooms.  The book mentioned making the ginger less “pungent”.  No way!  The ginger is a great flavour, I have no desire to dull it.

Allow the mushrooms to start to brown a bit.

Add the soy sauce/vinegar mixture along with the leftover chicken.

Near the end of cooking add the scallions.  I don’t like them full on raw but you don’t want these mushy or overcooked.

Garnish with a bit more scallion and serve right away.  As per my usual, I asked my husband how he liked it.  He really liked it but then said though you’ll probably not make it again.  Not true, but someone needs to remember and request.  Fingers crossed one of us doesn’t brain cramp.  🙂

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger)

A flavourful Thai dish with chicken, ginger and mushrooms

Course Main Course
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Mushrooms, coarsely chopped I used Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chicken If using raw, use about 1/2 lb cubed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 scallion, sliced

Instructions

  1. Mix the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar together and set aside.  

  2. Heat the peanut oil in the wok.  Cook the onions until they start becoming translucent.  Add the garlic.  Cook for another minute before adding the mushrooms.  If you are using raw chicken, add it now.  Add the ginger and stir to coat the mushrooms.  

  3. After cooking for a few minutes add the soy sauce mixture.  Stir well.  Allow the mushrooms to begin to brown a bit.  Near the end of cooking add most of the scallions to cook a minute or so.

  4. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining scallions.

Basil Wine Sauce Over Grilled Salmon

It’s been a very interesting week getting the new business off the ground.  Aside from opening up the Etsy shop I also did a local art show called Art in the Park.  It was a great experience as I was able to get advice from fellow artists and everyone was so positive.  In addition to getting a few sales I also got great positive feedback which lets me know I’m not tilting at windmills.

I also upgraded this site to the business level and spent quality time with the “happiness engineers” to get a shop set up on my blog.  It took several hours as I seem to have a knack to ask for stuff that require special coding.  I still have a few more things to do but it’s all a go now!

Earlier this summer, when we were in Swanage, we took my in-laws out to dinner to thank them for putting us up and putting up with us.  We tried an Italian restaurant in town which wasn’t too bad.  The highlight of the meal was for my daughter and I as we ordered poached salmon with an amazing basil sauce.  She and I raved about it.  Once all the summer adventures were over I knew I needed to make this again as a treat.

I will admit, using fresh basil in it’s prime is best.  Our basil in the garden is a bit past it’s prime but the flavour was still there.

Making the Basil Wine Sauce

Prep the salmon first.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Slice a lemon to grill the salmon on.

Basil Sauce 2 2018

Grilling over lemons gives it a great flavour.

Pick a bunch, about three handfuls.  Wash and blend with a third a cup of dry white wine.

Basil Sauce 1 2018

In a saucepan melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter.  Add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, along with the basil and wine.  Sauté on low to medium heat.  The goal is to have a hint of the white wine come through with the basil being the highlight.  If need be, add more butter to get the right balance.  Sometimes the wine can be a bit harsh.

Basil Sauce 3 2018

While this is cooking, grill up the salmon.  I also grilled chicken for my husband and son. Do up a fresh salad and top with the salmon and the basil wine sauce.

Basil Sauce 4 2018

I was hoping this meal was the swan song of the summer but the summer just won’t quit!  My daughter enjoyed this and was happy I can recreate the dish for us.  I think the best trips down memory lane are food related.

 

Grilled Salmon with Basil Wine Sauce

A delicious sauce of basil and wine drizzled over grilled salmon.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 1/2 lb wild sockeye salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Season the salmon with the sea salt and pepper.  Slice the lemon about 1/4"/.6cm thick.  Heat up the grill and grill the salmon on the lemon slices.

  2. Blend the basil and wine together.  Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the basil and garlic and sautè.  Add more butter if needed to keep a balance of flavour with the wine.  

  3. Make a salad, top with the salmon and basil wine sauce.