Bruschetta Chicken Salad

It’s a lovely rainy day today.  I say lovely because we’re still not having many of them.  Optimistically we planted more seed to replace those that didn’t come up.  Right now we have one leek and one onion coming up.  Stand back and prepare to be overwhelmed!

For the life of us we can’t grow beets.  We keep trying.  In fact we had one come up a few weeks ago but it disappeared.  So did the carrots!  So we replanted and also sprinkled blood meal round the beds.  I hope we start to make some progress.

The other night I was in the mood for Italian but nothing heavy as it was hot.  I saw various ideas for bruschetta chicken which sounded wonderful.  The drawbacks to the recipes was that they called for store bought dressings.  It’s easy enough to make it from scratch.

In a bowl mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar.  Add fresh thyme and finely chopped garlic.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Bruschetta chicken salad 1 2015

Add the chicken breasts to marinate for at least an hour.

Bruschetta chicken salad 2 2015

While the chicken is marinating prep the bruschetta part of the dish.

Bruschetta chicken salad 3 2015

Quarter the tomatoes and add a few cloves of finely chopped garlic in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper.  The fresh mozzarella and basil should be added just before serving.  Grill the chicken and the slice it to serve over a bed of lettuce.

Bruschetta chicken salad 4 2015

As a side I also grilled up some veg to make a light supper.  I love this time of year with all the fresh veg.  Not so much the heat but you can’t have it all!

Advertisements

Black Garlic and the Craziness Quiets Down

I feel like school is out for summer.  It was a long tax season inside and outside of the office.  But hey the 15th of April comes around the same time every year so I knew I’d be able to breath soon.  A woman I do Zumba with asked if I’ve been cooking up a storm.  I wish!  Well, it’s not that I haven’t been cooking and things but there just wasn’t time to actually blog about it.

I did this dish a few weeks ago.  My husband found black garlic and thought I’d have fun trying it out.

Black garlic sauce 1 2015It’s an interesting ingredient that has been fermented.  The flavour that comes through is balsamic vinegar, so much so I double checked the container wondering if anything was added.  But no that is what comes out with the fermentation.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add the chopped garlic.  For this dish I used two small bulbs.

Black garlic sauce 2 2015You want to cook the garlic on low to medium heat and let the flavour infuse into the oil.  After a few minutes add about 14 oz of diced tomatoes.

Black garlic sauce 3 2015While the sauce is cooking prepare the pasta of your choice.  Add it to the sauce.  Add a handful of fresh basil to the sauce.

Black garlic sauce 4 2015Serve with parmesan or asiago cheese grated over the dish.

Black garlic sauce 5 2015This simple dish has an amazing amount of flavour.  I have one more bulb of the garlic to use, oh the possibilities!

Now it’s time to catch up with all the blogs and get back into creating again.  🙂

Home Cooked Food – A Cure for Long Travels

It’s been a very busy year for my husband with business trips and he just did two weeks to close out the year.  It was a tricky time though, what with the kids’ Christmas concerts, teacher conferences, and the like.  Thank goodness for technology as I was able to record a few of the songs the kids did and we could have him on speaker phone so he could be part of the conference.  Which is wonderful as he hates to miss this stuff.

As you can imagine he misses the home cooked food as well.  Two weeks of sandwiches and so so hot food begins to wear a person down. So a special meal was called for.  I was ready for it too because the second week was a kid free week and I don’t really cook for myself so it was fun to get creative again.

For the first course I did a cheese plate and opened a bottle of a lovely red wine.  For the second I wanted to have some of his favourite ingredients.  Roasted parsnips and pan sauteed Brussels Sprouts were no brainers.

At Thanksgiving I was able to pick up beef tenderloin from the farm where I got the turkey.  I now have more of an appreciation of the labour that goes into perfect looking filet mignon.  My knife skills being what they are mine didn’t come out perfect but they weren’t too bad.  But there is definite room for improvement!

I purchased some grape tomatoes and I sliced them in half.  On a baking sheet add the tomatoes, pieces of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper then bake at 300F/150C.

Filet with Oven Roasted Tomato 1 2014

Bake for about 45 minutes.  Unfortunately the garlic didn’t cooporate and for some reason they came out hard as rocks.  So I chopped up more garlic, added some more olive oil into a skillet then sauteed this with the tomatoes.  Meanwhile broil the beef seasoned with salt and pepper to medium rare.  For meat that is 2 inches thick do 5 minutes on each side.  Mine was thinner so I did it for less.  Then rest the meat for at least 5 minutes.  While the meat is resting, add a handful of shredded basil to the tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Filet with Oven Roasted Tomato 3 2014

Top the beef with the tomato mixture and serve.

Filet with Oven Roasted Tomato 4 2014

It was such a lovely evening catching up with my husband.  I miss him when he’s gone and there is always so much to share.  Of course I had to step back to make room for the homecoming the dogs gave him!  Goodness me it was like a pair of dolphins leaping about, quivering with excitement.  He was licked within an inch of his life!  LOL.

 

Aubergine with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Steak

I found myself in a bit of a produce pickle the other day.  I went slightly overboard in buying produce forgetting that the kids would be off camping for the weekend.  So I was faced with the task to get rid of the produce in meals so it wouldn’t go bad.

My son loves the zucchini/courgette flans so I thought it would be great to do a zucchini/courgette side as a treat for him.  And I bought an aubergine as the kids requested an Italian meal.

For the zucchini/courgette side I used the spiral cutter again.  So much easier with the softer produce!  Very quick.  🙂

Eggplant oven roasted tomato sauce 1 2014

Set that aside and chop up some aubergine.

Eggplant oven roasted tomato sauce 2 2014

In a skillet melt some butter and sear the steak to brown on both sides then finish off in the oven to the desired doneness.  In the skillet add some avocado oil.  Once heated add the aubergine and saute for a few minutes.  Then add some oven roasted tomatoes and a few cloves of chopped garlic.  Add a bit of white balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant oven roasted tomato sauce 3 2014

While the sauce cooks set up another skillet and heat up some more avocado oil.  Toss in the zucchini/courgette spirals.  Season with sea salt, pepper, and a few splashes of white balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant oven roasted tomato sauce 4 2014

Slice the steak and stop with the aubergine sauce.  Grate fresh parmesan cheese and serve.

Eggplant oven roasted tomato sauce 5 2014

I even liked the zucchini/courgette which is unheard of!  But I noticed my son wasn’t touching the zucchini/courgette.  Apparently the only way he likes it is in the flan.  Sigh.  Fortunately my daughter couldn’t get enough so it didn’t go to waste. Sometimes it is hard to keep up!

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Got caught out with a summer cold today.  Miserable thing.  When colds come round it’s much preferable to be cosy but in the summer that’s hard to pull off.  Ah well, the dogs are keeping me company while I watch Bleak House.  Cheerful show, ahem.  I’m behaving myself so we can go out tonight to see the movie “Chef”.  It will be a quiet date night but that’s ok.  🙂

When I made the Crêpes with Roasted Vegetables I really liked the taste of the oven roasted tomatoes and planned on making a sauce once we had a few ripened tomatoes from the garden.  This week I was able to get enough off the vines to do up a sauce.  This is an easy sauce that is packed with loads of flavour.

Slice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper.  Slow roast in the oven at 300F/150C for about an hour.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 1 2014

If you are making homemade pasta, prepare it before making the sauce.  In a skillet heat up olive oil.  You want enough to create enough sauce to coat the pasta.  Saute 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.  The heat should be medium low so the garlic doesn’t burn but softens instead.  Then add the tomatoes.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 2 2014

Add a 1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar and a handful of chopped basil.  Toss the cooked pasta and serve immediately.  I also did up some parmesan toast to accompany this.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 3 2014

As I said to my husband “not to toot my own horn” but I loved this dish.  It’s hard to beat fresh ingredients from the garden.  Love this time of year!

Homemade Sausage Ravioli with Arrabiata Sauce

For Father’s Day we like to cook my husband dinner.  Just like they do for me for Mother’s Day, we come up with a menu and the kids help out with the food prep.  It was such a gorgeous weekend.  We finally got some tennis in.  We managed to get a few volleys back and forth so we felt good about that.  Plus we made a dent in the garden chores.

For my birthday my kids had given me a ravioli form so I wanted to try it out.  I need to practice with it but I did make homemade sausage ravioli and as my husband loves spicy sauces I did an easy arrabiata sauce.  This meal did take a few hours so it is definitely a weekend deal.

I started with the ravioli stuffing as it had to cool before mixing it with cheese and stuffing the pasta.  Finely chop half a cup of onion and 4 cloves of garlic.  I also grabbed thyme from the garden.

Sausage Ravioli 1 2014

In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute the garlic, onion, and a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme.  After the onion has softened add 1/2 a lb of Sweet Italian sausage or Hot Italian sausage.  Whatever you have on hand.  Add 1/3 a cup of nice red wine.  Cook until the meat is cooked.

Sausage Ravioli 2 2014

Set aside to cool.  Prep the homemade pasta and let it rest.  Once the sausage has cooled mix in half a cup of ricotta cheese and half a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  After the pasta has rested roll it out in sheets.  Place one sheet on the ravioli mold and create the dents.

Sausage Ravioli 3 2014

Fill with the sausage mixture.

Sausage Ravioli 4 2014

Coat with beaten egg. Place another sheet over the sausage mixture and then roll over the pasta.  I struggled with this bit.  I had to use a pasta cutter to separate the individual raviolis.  And it was a struggle to keep the air out.

Sausage Ravioli 5 2014

Chill the ravioli in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.  For the sauce saute onion and garlic in olive oil.

Sausage Ravioli 6 2014

Add 1/2 a cup of the same red wine used for the sausage.  Add crushed or diced tomatoes.  I could have used a 14 oz can but I used a 28 oz can and it was a bit much but my husband loves sauce so it didn’t go to waste!  Bring to a simmer and add a few teaspoons of red pepper flakes as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Sausage Ravioli 7 2014

Add a handful of basil near the end of cooking to the dish.  Start cooking the ravioli at this point in boiling salted water as it only needs to cook for about 4 minutes.  Once it is cooked add it to the sauce.

Sausage Ravioli 9 2014It knocked our son’s socks off but we all loved the simple sauce with the ravioli.  And we got to eat outside and enjoy the lovely evening.

Meatballs! With a Chance of Clouds

My kids loved the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  How they have enough to do a sequel to the movie I don’t know but the book was great.  Yesterday afternoon was definitely overcast and surprisingly cool and it was time for some comfort food.  We had some tortellini stuffed with cheese and prosciutto that I wanted to use and we needed to use some of the store bought tomato sauce we got for the homemade pizzas we made earlier in the week.  But I wanted to create something and it’s been a long time since I made any sort of meatballs.  Fortunately we had some ground beef on hand from a local farm.

This is a simple recipe which is perfect now the kids are back in school.  The summer just flew by.  Both are happy with the teachers they got and while they would prefer to still be on holiday it isn’t to tortuous heading off to school in the morning. 🙂

In a medium bowl I added the beef, one egg, 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped, fresh thyme from the garden and salt and pepper to taste.

Meatballs 1 2013

As you hand mix this be careful not to manhandle it too much.  My mixture was quite moist so I added a bit of panko bread crumbs to bring it together better.

Meatball 2 2013

To really give it some flavour I drizzled some real balsamic vinegar onto the mixture and incorporated it.

Meatball 3 2013

Form into smallish balls keeping them somewhat uniform in size.  In a skillet with hot oil oil brown both sides.

Meatball 4 2013

Once both sides have been browned I finish them off in the oven at 400F/205C.  This will only take a few minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  I add them to the sauce and pasta towards the end to make sure they are warm.  You don’t want to overcook them as they will dry out.  In the skillet I sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms, added the sauce and balsamic vinegar.  To finish I added some fresh basil.  Once the pasta is cooked I tossed it in the sauce and added the meatballs.

Meatball 5 2013

Grate some fresh parmesan over it and enjoy!  We had a lovely Merlot from Chile to pair with this dish.

Homemade Pasta

About a half hour after Rich and I got engaged we decided where we wanted to go on our honeymoon.  Italy!  A place where the house wine rivals great wine stateside.  How could we resist?

One night in Tuscany we signed up for some cooking lessons.  It was just the two of us which was perfect!  One of the things we learned how to do is make pasta.  Turns out this is very easy, so much so, we rarely buy any pasta anymore.

We make a ring of flour using 100 grams.  Now when we learned this we were told this was for one serving.  It makes enough for at least two servings sometimes more depending on how thin you roll it out.  Place one egg in the center.  Use a fork to gradually add the flour to the egg.  As egg sizes aren’t standardized you may need to add a bit more flour if it is too wet.  If it is too dry just add a bit of olive oil at a time until it comes together.  Then knead a couple of times to bring it all together.  Wrap in cling film to rest.

Resting it for about a half hour is good but you can get away with just resting it for 10 minutes if you are in a hurry.  During this time I usually gather various ingredients needed for the sauce.  It has been too hot to make homemade tomato sauce so I used what we had in the fridge and added:

3 cloves of garlic freshly minced

1 small red Italian pepper

2 shiitake mushrooms

1/2 the chicken breast we had leftover from the chicken cordon bleu

1/3 cup of Malbec wine (was a good excuse to open a bottle!)

Saute all the ingredients together then add the sauce and wine to simmer.  Once this is cooking it is time to roll out the pasta.

Make sure the pasta is lightly floured so it doesn’t stick going through the rollers.  I roll at least to a thinness of 5 but will go thinner depending on what I’m making.

When doing pasta the first thing I set up is the water.  In Tuscany we learned to never put oil in the water, just sea salt or kosher salt.  It makes a huge difference.  I get the water up to the boil then turn if off until I’m ready.  That way it only takes a minute or so to bring back to the boil and I get things done on time.

It only takes about 4 minutes to cook.  I do stir occasionally to keep the pasta separate.  Once it is cooked I add it to the sauce and toss.  Then serve.

This meal is super easy to make and it takes about 30-40 minutes depending on the pasta.