Zucchini/Courgette Flans

In the interest of complete transparency, I need to confess.  I hate zucchini.  Right up there with Brussels sprouts.  However, we are currently growing them in our garden.  We let our kids each pick a veg to grow and my daughter picked zucchini.  Sigh.  And they are huge!  So of course I have been on the look out for recipes.  Something that would make me like zucchini.  I have recently found the blog Manger which is a wonderful blog with amazing pictures and recipes.  I would love to have her photographer.  Whoever it is knows their stuff.  This past weekend she blogged about Bastille day and in among the recipes was one for zucchini flan.  I thought it would be perfect to try.

Now in her recipe she mentioned using two large zucchinis.  I don’t think she had in mind what I harvested.

Zucchini flan 1 2013

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C

In her recipe she said to thinly slice in half rondelles.  This thing was 3″ in diameter in some spots.  For this recipe I used 1/3 of the above zucchini and cut it up in small triangles.  I didn’t have shallots so I used 1/2 an onion from the farmers market.  These were the sweet ones I found and used last week.

Zucchini flan 2 2013

I finely chopped the onion and a clove of garlic.  Use either a large clove or 2 smaller cloves.  I drizzled a bit of olive oil into a skillet and heated that up.

Zucchini flan 3 2013

Saute the zucchini, garlic and onion.  While this is cooking beat 5 eggs in a large bowl.  Her recipe calls for 4 T of corn starch to be mixed into the eggs.  I had about 2 1/2 T so I supplemented with flour and it came out well.  The hardest part was getting rid of the lumps!

Zucchini flan 4 2013

Grate 105g of cheese like a guyere.  I used the Jarlsberg we have on hand.  I grabbed a handful of fresh mint from our garden and chiffonade the leaves.  Mix all this together.  Once the zucchini mixture starts to become lightly brown remove from the heat.

Zucchini flan 5 2013

Add to the egg mixture and mix gently.  Add the remaining ingredients of 2 T of lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

Zucchini flan 6 2013

Use a tin with small muffin wells that are sprayed with oil.  Spoon in the mixture.  This made about 8 flans with the size I had.  Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

Zucchini flan 7 2013

I had decided to make these when it was much cooler.  The day just got hotter so by the time I needed to make these I didn’t want to cook!  So I thought these would be perfect with a light salad given that the humidity was drifting back up.

Zucchini flan 8 2013 Zucchini flan 9 2013

The kids loved these and so did my husband.  The lemon juice and mint added a brightness to the dish.  I would have loved it if it didn’t have zucchini.  My son did ask me if I could make these again for his birthday.  Which is next June so hopefully I don’t forget!  🙂

Bacon Dressing and the Revolutionary War

Are you a loyalist or a patriot?  We were asked that when we went to the kids camp for lunch.  Little did he know!  My husband said pacifist but apparently back then if you said that people just assumed you were a loyalist and were treated with suspicion.  Now my husband doesn’t have any American history in his family but I do.  My mum is American and people have been coming over nearly every generation in this family since the early 1600’s.  Including me.  So it makes for an interesting genealogy.  There was a good number of my family that had to high tail it to Canada as they were loyalists.  They came back down about fifty years later.   You know, when it was safe.  🙂

Not sure if the gentleman playing the father of the camp noticed my Union Jack on the back of my phone!  But we were served anyway.  Lucky us as the kids did an amazing job.  They made blueberry jam, butter, cornbread, pickles and soup.  The soup was tasty but a bit much on a very hot day.  So I was wilting a bit at the end.  Loved the butter and the jam.  So yummy.  We were impressed with everything they did.  And it was hard work keeping the fires going so they could boil the water and keep the tavern guests fed.

After a hot lunch it seemed like a good idea to do a cool dinner.  I had some bacon to finish up.  I know, tough problem to have.  🙂  But didn’t want it to go to waste.  I thought I would have a go at some bacon dressing.  Once I started cooking the bacon the dogs got very focused on what I was doing.  Boy were they optimistic!

Bacon salad 1 2013

To make the dressing I scraped the bacon fat into a bowl and added some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.   I think I put a bit too much vinegar in.  It was tasty but either less vinegar or more bacon drippings.  Which would mean cooking more bacon.  But it had a brightness to it that went well with the salad.

Bacon salad 2 2013

The genius of salad is you can tailor it to the individual taste.  My husband likes beets and onion on his and he’s not a fan of blue cheese.  So for his I added some jarlsberg.  I love blue cheese and bacon together.  A great combo.

Bacon salad 3 2013 Bacon salad 4 2013

Very filling on a hot day and I just love all the fresh flavours of the veg.

Roasted Mushroom and Parsnip Ravioli

It is spring break from school this week for the kids and I set up yesterday to be a bake day for them as they like to get into the kitchen.  While they were making cookies and congo bars I thought I’d make raviolis for dinner.  I hadn’t made them in awhile as it is somewhat time consuming.  Question was, what to make?  I knew I wanted mushrooms but wasn’t sure what else to do.  As my gaze wandered round the kitchen I saw the parsnips my husband pulled from the garden.  This is a great treat as we planted them last year.  So I decided to do a roasted mushroom and parsnip mixture.  I was really pleased with the results!

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 1 2013

I bought oyster, baby bellas, and shiitake mushrooms.  I coarsely chopped them along with the parsnips and tossed them with olive oil and salt and pepper.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 2 2013

These were roasted at 400 F/204C stirring occasionally as they roasted.  About halfway through I added some fresh thyme.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 3 2013

Once they had browned nicely I set the veg aside to cool completely.  While this was cooling I prepped the pasta to rest.  Once the mixture cooled I put it into the food processor and grated some Jarlsberg cheese.  It was about 1/2 cup of cheese.  I also added a couple of splashes of dry sherry.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 4 2013

I pulsed the processor until it was a coarse mixture.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 5 2013

Now I haven’t gotten round to getting ravioli molds yet so I am still doing this by hand.  Well I do have a Kitchen Aid to roll it out so we’re halfway there.  🙂  I roll out a sheet at a time and fill as I go.  All that is needed for the filling is about a teaspoon of mixture then brush a beaten egg round the mixture to help seal the pasta.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 6 2013

It is important to get the air out! Though that isn’t always easy but you could end up with burst balloons if there is too much air.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 7 2013

Before I cooked the ravioli I sauteed up some garlic and mushrooms and prepared this cream and butter sauce to complete the dish.  The ravioli only needs to cook for about 4 minutes in boiling salted water.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 8 2013

Drain and toss in the sauce and serve.

roasted mushroom and parsnip ravioli 9 2013

It had a lovely earthy flavour and it was great on a cool night.

Jarlsberg and Chive Souffle

Cheese souffle is one of those dishes that is considered difficult enough to use as tests on cooking competitions.  Contestants dread them.  So I thought it was high time to try one.  And I stressed through it enough that my husband thought I was being a bit nutty.  🙂  The result is that it is time consuming but not overly difficult.

I found a recipe on epicurious.com for this and used Jarlsberg and some garlic chives that are just starting to come up on our garden.  Easy to follow but why does it have to be another recipe that uses 4 egg yolks but 5 egg whites?  Tiny pet peeve of mine.  The first part of the recipe through adding the egg yolks can be made a few hours ahead of time if need be.  Helpful when the dogs need to be walked.  🙂

It called for 1 1/2 quart dish, which I used, but I think in the end it was too big so next time I’ll try something a bit smaller.  Butter the dish and then coat with finely grated parmesan cheese.  A tip from Alton Brown is to freeze this for about 5 minutes to set it.

Cheese Souffle 1 2013

To start warm a cup of milk in a small sauce pan.  Warm it to steaming but not boiling.  Their recipe called for whole milk but we used 2% and it was fine.  Also all we had.  In a larger sauce pan melt 2 1/2 T butter.

cheese souffle 3 2013

Once the butter is melted add 3T of flour and whisk it all together.  Cook this roux until it isn’t raw anymore.  Don’t brown it.  Mine turned beige but it was ok.

cheese souffle 4 2013

Remove from the heat for about a minute then whisk in the warmed milk.  Whisk until it is blended.

cheese souffle 5 2013

Put it back on the stove and reheat on low to medium while whisking the mixture.  You want to keep stirring until it thickens.  This will take a few minutes.  And when it thickens it happens quickly.

cheese souffle 6 2013

Remove from the heat once again.  Add 1/2 tsp of paprika and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Just a sprinkle of nutmeg then blend it all together.

cheese souffle 7 2013

Add one egg yolk at a time and blend well each time.  Again this calls for 4 egg yolks.

cheese souffle 8 2013

Set this aside to come to room temperature.  Then coarsely grate a cup of Jarlsberg.  Like brown sugar this should be a tightly packed cup.  And chop the chives.

cheese souffle 2 2013 cheese souffle 9 2013

When you are ready to do the second part of the souffle pre-heat the oven to 400F/204C.  I did it on convection but I don’t recommend it as it browned the top well but the very centre of the souffle was a bit undercooked.  So next time I will do it regular to the browning and the centre will finish together.

Take 5 egg whites and use a mixer to whip them until “stiff but not dry” according to the recipe I was following.

cheese souffle 10 2013 cheese souffle 11 2013

Take a 1/4 of the egg whites and gently fold into the souffle mixture that has cooled.  For these final steps you don’t want a heavy hand.

cheese souffle 12 2013 cheese souffle 13 2013

Gradually add the cheese, chives, and the egg whites gently folding as you go.  You want a light airy mixture.

cheese souffle 14 2013 cheese souffle 15 2013

Pour it into the dish and place it into the oven.  Turn the temp down to 375F/190C.  Set the timer for 25 minutes.  As the recipe states “Do not open the door for at least 20 minutes!”  That is really hard for me not to do!  🙂  When it is golden brown remove from the oven.

cheese souffle 16 2013

Again I would use a smaller dish for this.  Also as I did it in convection I removed it a few minutes before the 25 minutes was up so the centre was just undercooked a bit.  This recipe served 4 of us and we served with salad.

cheese souffle 17 2013

It was a delicious light meal.


Cottage Pie

I’m a firm believer in that people should make what they will of recipes. After all they are the ones that have to eat them.  So not a lot irks me when it comes to food.  Except maybe this bit.  People calling cottage pie shepherd’s pie.  So indulge me a moment as I’d like to get up on my soap box.  Ahem, here we go.  Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.  Easy to remember as sheep get herded by a shepherd.  Shepherds don’t herd cows.  Therefore a shepherd’s pie doesn’t have beef in it.  Which is why it is generally known as cottage pie.  Thank you, I will climb down now and put the box away.

I made this last night as it was a raw day.  Well miserable in fact.  It was supposed to snow and instead we got a cold pouring rain that wasn’t quite freezing but nearly there.  So it was a good night for comfort food.  This is also a quick dish to make if you aren’t overly particular about presentation.   Now if you want presentation you need to check out Conor’s Cottage Pie.  Epic.  🙂

To start I chopped up carrots, garlic, onion, and mushrooms.

Cottage pie 1 2013

In a bit of olive oil I saute the carrots, garlic and onions.

Cottage pie 2 2013

Once the onions are a bit translucent I add the beef to brown.

Cottage pie 3 2013

I used our veg broth for this.  In hindsight I probably should have used 1/2 cup but I used 3/4 cup of broth.  I added the mushrooms, 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and a good squirt of stone ground mustard and brought it to a simmer.

Cottage pie 4 2013

In the meantime boil potatoes for the mash to go on top.  Once they are cooked I added a healthy pat of butter and enough milk to make it smooth.  I wanted it to be easy to put over the beef.  I also added some grated Jarlsberg to mix in along with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  And yes I do keep the skins on.  Adds colour and keeps the nutrition with the potato!

Cottage pie 6 3013

As it was just my husband and I the dish was kept pretty rustic.  I divided the beef mixture into two bowls for us.

Cottage pie 7 2013

I spread the mash over the beef and shredded more Jarlsberg over the mash.

Cottage pie 8 2013

Stick it under the broiler until the cheese is melted then it is ready to serve.

Cottage pie 9 2013

My husband, who isn’t normally a huge fan of cottage pie, enjoyed this one.  🙂  And it was lovely with red wine.

Lovely Cheesy Pinwheels

Stephane seems to be a bit of an inspiration this week with fellow bloggers as I also am blogging about something he posted.  On Monday I came across his mini appetizers as I was planning my dinner.  I wanted something to go with the mushroom soup I was making.  As I had different ingredients in my pantry than what was in Stephane’s recipe I came up with these cheesy pinwheels.  It was perfect for using up the last bit of puff pastry I had in the freezer.

cheese pinwheels 1 2013

I grated some Jarlsberg, Cheddar, and Parmesan Cheese.  You want enough to cover the puff pastry once it is rolled out.

cheese pinwheel 2 2013

Roll the pastry firmly all the way lengthwise.  If you have time chill in the fridge to make it easier to slice.  If you don’t have time then just use a sharp knife and nice even cuts.

cheese pinwheels 3 2013

Have the pinwheels about 1/2 inch to an inch thick.  Place evenly on a cookie sheet and pop into the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes.

cheese pinwheels 4 2013

Once they are golden brown they are ready to serve.  You can make these ahead of time but they are so quick to make that they are great right out of the oven.

French Onion Soup

For the longest time I wasn’t a fan of French Onion soup.  It was always overpowering and heavy on the stomach.  Then I met my husband who loves this soup.  But he had the same problem of finding a decent recipe.  We found one from Hannafords and then changed it a bit and now we have a soup that is very easy to make and we all love eating it.

To start melt 2 T of butter in a saucepan.

I thinly slice about 1 1/2 large onions and saute in the butter.  Cook until they start to soften and then add a tablespoon of sugar.  Stir well.  I found a lot of recipes called for 3 large onions but it would be too much of an onion flavour and you wouldn’t get a balance of all the flavours.

Saute for another 5 minutes or so.  Add 4 cups of broth.  We use the veg broth though most recipes call for a beef broth.  Heat until simmering.  Add a few squirts of stone ground mustard, 3 T of cognac, 3-4 T of Worcestershire sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I like it to simmer for awhile if I have the time for the flavours to really come together but once it is heated through it can be served.  I butter some bread and toast them to top the soup.  Then grate some Jarlsberg cheese over it all.  Broil until melted and serve.

This is perfect on a cold day or when your schedule is hectic.  And if you want a variation of this try the french onion grilled cheese sandwiches.   A big hit in my family.  🙂

French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

My family is a big fan of French Onion soup but in the summer time it is way too hot to think about soup.  I came across a pin on Pinterest for French Onion Grilled Cheese sandwiches.  Problem was the recipe didn’t appeal to me at all.  Very picky about my french onion!  So I decided to modify our recipe for the soup to make the sandwiches.  The inspiration was from the Hannafords magazines they have.  I modified that as well to make it the way we like it.  I can’t help myself! 🙂

This recipe makes four sandwiches:

1 large red onion sliced somewhat thinly

1 T butter

1 tsp sugar

1 T Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base Organic (this is really good!)

1/2 cup hot water

couple of squirts stone mustard

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T brandy or cognac

Melt butter and saute the onions in the butter with the sugar until softened.  Dissolve the bouillon into the hot water.  Traditional French Onion calls for beef bouillon but I like the veg version for a more layered taste.  Add to the onions and bring to a simmer.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and cognac and cook down until the sauce is reduced.

Slice the bread and butter the outside of each slice.  Place slices of cheese of your choosing onto the bread.  We use jarlsberg for most dishes that require some sort of swiss but that is our preference.  Spoon some onions on the cheese and top with the second slice of bread.

Grill on the griddle or frying pan until the cheese is melting.  Serve immediately.

This meal only takes about 30 minutes to make and goes down a treat.


Chicken Cordon Bleu with Grilled Corn

My daughter had a friend sleep over so she got to decide what was for dinner.  Our kids really like Chicken Cordon Bleu but I really don’t like the frozen stuff you get that takes 25 minutes or so to bake.  Too much junk that is hard to pronounce in the ingredients.  The way we make it takes about 20 minutes to prep and cook and it is tastier!

For a family of four I do the following:

2 chicken breasts divided lengthwise down the center

1-2 slices of ham per serving

1-2 slices of Jarlsberg per serving

1 egg beaten

Panko bread crumbs

I place the ham and cheese on one half of the chicken and fold over.  I then dip it in the egg and then the Panko bread crumbs.  I pan fry in olive oil to brown both sides.  I usually finish off in the toaster oven at about 375 F.

Always soak the corn before grilling.  Feel free to take off a few layers of the husk and the silk but it’s not necessary.  You want to soak them for at least 10 minutes.

Once on the grill turn every 5 minutes.  The hotter the grill the more roasted the corn will be.  And sometimes it starts on fire!  Blow it out and carry on.  🙂

All in all this is a very quick and easy meal to make and the kids love it.