My daughter’s school is planning on bringing back students to their campus in a few weeks. Before she heads back to university, I wanted to make sure she gets meals she won’t get there. When there she mostly eats vegetarian as, well, dining hall meat and seafood doesn’t always set a high bar. As she loves seafood I thought I’d make this incredibly easy but delicious Fish en Papillote for her. I do wish I could cook her dishes and mail them to her safely but well, that’s not possible.
I am curious how long open campuses will last. These issues are the same closer to home. Our school system is looking to have in-classroom learning. Not quite sure how they will pull this off when, in the high school, there will be 1400 students walking through the hallways every 84 minutes. Who will be cleaning the classrooms between classes? Not an easy problem.
Technique for Fish en Papillote
I bought a nice piece of fresh cod for this dish and the fresh thyme from the garden was a lovely compliment. This fish was a reminder to pay attention to what the fishmonger is handing you. I pointed to a thicker filet and without me paying attention, I got this thin piece. I didn’t notice until I was back home. Slightly small for two people, especially when one is a teenager.
Place the fish in the parchment paper and twist the ends to make a boat shape. Add the ingredients into the boat.
Seal the package so the liquid is contained.
Bake at 350F/175C for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You want the cod to be nice and flaky.
It was a lovely pairing with salad and roasted sweet potato. This is also a great dish to whip up for a quick lunch.
A big component to my joy of traveling is being able to try new food and get inspiration for new dishes at home. My husband and I aren’t big shoppers, we’d rather budget for experiences. I prefer having a memory of a lovely meal in some far off locale than fill the house with stuff. Though stuff seems to multiply anyway, not sure what happens there! A couple of decades ago I was in Scotland on the west coast. I had a meal that I remember til this day because not only was it delicious but the simple flavours just came together to be amazing. It was Seared Duck with Cherry Sauce.
Prior to this I’d never had duck. I don’t think it was something, at the time, readily available in the States. I was also not a fan of cherries as it was difficult to get really fresh cherries and the flavour that gets stuck in your mind is the awful chemical cherry flavour of ice creams or medicine. Seriously, who taste tests those? But this was a revelation.
Technique for Seared Duck with Cherry Sauce
The key to this, as is for most dishes, is fresh ingredients. I love being able to pop into my garden for the fresh herbs and veg.
Coarsely chop the cherries and finely chop the garlic. I really wish I had a cherry depitter but it’s not big deal to cut away the cherry from the pit, just slows it down a bit. Start cooking the cherry in a small pan with a bit of water.
Prep the duck by scoring the duck fat without cutting into the meat. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Place into a skillet face down to start with. Keep the heat just under medium so the fat renders down as much as possible while giving you that really nice sear. Every few minutes flip the duck so it cooks evenly without burning either side.
Add the garlic, thyme and lemon juice to the cherries. Let that simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the butter, sea salt and pepper. Stir well.
I do like a crispy duck. Cook the duck to at least medium. Allow to rest for several minutes before slicing.
Slice the duck and place over a bed of greens. Spoon over the sauce. We also roasted potatoes in duck fat. That is next level good.
Score the duck fat without cutting into the meat. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a skillet, put the duck face down. Keep the heat just below medium so the fat renders out without burning the duck. Flip the duck every few minutes so it cooks evenly. Cook until it is at least medium in the centre. Let it rest for several minutes before slicing.
Cooking the Cherry Sauce
Sautè the cherries in the water for a few minutes.
Add the garlic, thyme and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes to cook the garlic.
Add the butter and stir well. Reduce the liquid by about a third.
Serving the dish
Slice the duck and arrange it over a bed of greens.
I mentioned in my last post of my Tofu Burrito I was struggling with a dish so I had put it aside. It called for hot spring eggs, which are made by covering with boiling water. The recipe is from Harumi’s Japanese Cooking and said it’s very easy to make. Not so! I tried it different ways and all I ended up with was the yoke. I gave up as making poach eggs is faster and I knew what I was getting. So this is my Poached Eggs with Tofu, loosely based on the Hot Spring Eggs.
I love the subtle flavours of this dish and the ingredients are relatively easy to find. With a bit of prep you’ll have an easy lunch to enjoy.
Technique for Poached Eggs and Tofu
About an hour or so before the dish is made a stock has to be made and the tofu needs to be wrapped in paper towel/kitchen roll. Slice two rectangles of tofu per serving and wrap it. Set aside. This helps remove excess water for when you pan fry the tofu. In a cup add equal parts bonito flakes and kelp and cover with boiling water.
Set this aside and let steep for about an hour.
When it’s time to make the dish bring water and a 1/4 cup (2oz) of white vinegar to a boil. Poach the eggs for 3 minutes.
Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small serving bowl.
Meanwhile, heat up the sesame oil in a skillet. Fry the tofu until both sides are golden and crispy.
Drain the tofu of excess oil and place the eggs over the tofu. Drizzle some sauce over the eggs and top with fresh scallions/green onion.
I enjoyed this with smoked mackerel. I’m glad I switched to the poached eggs as I love the flavours of the dish so it was nice to finally get it together!
I find it interesting the so called shortcuts people like to take when cooking. How so much processed food seems to be the go to when they don’t really save time or money. In fact, it’s more expensive for the most part. When I was doing my pinning on Pinterest I came across a recipe for Chicken Flautas that called for canned chicken that came already seasoned. I wouldn’t want to even guess what preservatives and junk would also be in that can. No way, thank you.
I mean, how hard is it to mix a few ingredients together and slow cook chicken? Not very hard! While I cooked the chicken in the oven, you can use a slow cooker and walk away.
Our garden is doing so much better than last year so this is dish was a great way to use what is just outside our door. I was able to use tomatoes, hot peppers and sweet peppers for this meal.
Technique for Chicken Flautas
Pre heat the oven to 300F/150C.
Mix the marinade ingredients and make sure the chicken is coated. I cooked twice as much chicken so I could use some for salads and lunches.
Slow cook for 3-4 hours, until the chicken is tender and shreds easily. Using two forks, tear the chicken apart.
Set aside. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic until the onions begin to soften. Add the peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken, seasonings, lime juice and chicken stock. Stir well and simmer. You want to reduce the liquid so the mixtures stays moist but isn’t overly liquid.
Heat up the vegetable oil in a saucepan to about 335F/170C.
Place the filling on flour tortillas. I accidentally bought quinoa flour gluten free tortillas. I was a bit worried that this would end up a failure. Thankfully they fried up well. Roll the tortillas tightly and spear with a toothpick. Fry until they are golden brown and crispy. Drain and place on a piece of kitchen roll to absorb the extra oil.
In an attempt to keep this somewhat healthy, I served it over a bed of lettuce. I chopped up a fresh tomato, a spring onion and cilantro to top along with queso fresco. You can also serve with dollops of sour cream or guacamole.
Slow cooked chicken, seasoned with hot peppers, then wrapped in deep fried goodness.
AuthorOur Growing Paynes
1lbboneless chicken breast
1/2tspfreshly ground black pepper
Chicken Flautas filling
1cupfinely chopped onion
1mushroom, finely chopped
2-3cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1hot pepper, chopped
1cupsweet pepper, finely chopped
2 cupsshredded chicken
2tspfresh cilantro (coriander leaf)
1/2 cup chicken stock
Tomato and Spring Onion
1tomato, coarsly chopped
1small spring onion, chopped
sea salt to taste
Completing Chicken Flautas
1/2deep sauce pan of vegetable oil
12half 8" flour tortillas
1 cupcrumbled queso fresco
Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.
Mix the ingredients together in a baking dish and add the chicken. Make sure the chicken is nearly covered and coated. Bake for 3-4 hours until the chicken is fork tender. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Set aside.
Chicken Flautas filling
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sautè the onions, garlic and mushrooms until the onions start becoming soft. Add the peppers and the chicken. Mix in the seasonings, lime juice and chicken stock. Simmer until the liquid is nearly reduced to zero. You want the mixture moist but not overly wet.
Tomato and Spring Onion
Add the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Completing the Chicken Flautas
Spoon a couple of tablespoons of filling onto each half tortilla. Roll tightly and secure with a toothpick. Heat the vegetable oil to 335F/ 170C. Deep fry the flautas until golden and crispy. Drain and place on kitchen roll to absorb excess oil.
Place the flautas on a bed of lettuce, top with the tomato and spring onion along with the cheese. Serve immediately.
Pork Wellington has been on my list of things to blog for awhile now, waiting for a special time to make it. My husband just had a business trip that was crazy busy and when he comes back from these trips I like to treat him to a special meal. Understandably he gets tired of restaurant food and eating on the run.
The meal had to wait a day as we had tickets to go see Heart. Those two ladies at 65 and 69 years of age can seriously rock. Leaping about and belting out the songs, it was amazing. I would love to have that energy!
This is a time consuming but not difficult meal to make. You can save time by buying puff pastry but making the rough puff pastry is relatively simple and tastes a lot better than store bought pastry.
Technique for Rough Puff Pastry
The main key for a good rough puff pastry is keeping everything cold. Some people will grate frozen butter for this but you can get away with butter from the fridge.
Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour until you have a coarse mixture.
Add a bit of water at a time until the clumps come together in a rough ball. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes. If you find that you add too much water, don’t panic you can fix it when you knead the dough.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. If you made the dough too wet add extra flour while you are kneading the dough. You don’t want to overwork the dough but you want a smooth ball where you see marbling of the butter. Roll out thinly into something close to a rectangle.
Fold into thirds like an envelope.
Rotate 90 degrees and roll out into a thin rectangle.
Fold into thirds again.
Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes and until you are ready to use it.
Technique for Pork Wellington
Melt butter in the skillet. Season the pork with sea salt and pepper. Sear all sides and cook it to about two thirds done. This is probably the trickiest part as you need the pork to be cooked through by the end of baking but you don’t want it dried out. It’s not like the beef wellington where you want it medium rare.
Remove from the skillet and set aside while you cook up the apple mixture.
Finely chop up the apple, mushrooms, garlic and sage. Add additional butter to the skillet and sauté the ingredients for several minutes until the mushrooms start to brown.
Deglaze with the calvados and cook until the liquid reduces to nearly zero. Remove from the heat.
On cling film lay out the prosciutto and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the prosciutto and spread it out. Coat the pork with the mustard and place the pork in the centre.
Tightly wrap the pork and chill for half an hour. After the half hour roll out the dough, remove the cling film and place the pork in the centre of the dough.
Trim the ends and wrap the pork like a burrito. Place seam down on a baking sheet and brush with a beaten egg.
Bake in an oven set at 425F/220C until the pastry is golden and flaky. About 30-35 minutes.
Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Though if it is really flaky, the darn thing will fall apart as you slice.
I roasted up a bit of parsnip and made up a side salad to keep the meal light.
This Pork Wellington was well worth the effort and the flavours were even better the next day.
Sift the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut up the cold butter and add it to the flour. Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the flour until you have a coarse mixture. Add a bit of water at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. It will be coarse and sticky. But you don't want it overly wet. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.
On a floured surface, knead the dough until it is a smooth dough where you can see a marbling of the butter. Don't overwork the dough.
Roll out thinly into a rough rectangle. Fold into thirds in an envelope. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again into rectangle. Fold again into thirds. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or until you need it to wrap the pork later.
Heat half the butter in a skillet. Season the pork with sea salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the pork. Cook it about 2/3 thirds of the way. When it's done baking at the end you want the pork to be cooked thoroughly but not dry. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Add more butter to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, apples, sage and garlic. Sauté for several minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown. Pour in the calvados to deglaze the pan. Cook until the liquid is reduced to nearly zero.
On a piece of cling film lay out the prosciutto. Spoon the mushroom and apple mixture onto the prosciutto and spread it out. Coat the pork with the mustard and place the pork in the centre of the apple and mushroom mixture. Tightly wrap the pork in the prosciutto and seal with the cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry thinly. Place the pork into the centre. Trim the sides and wrap the pork like a burrito. Place on a baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
Brush the pastry with a beaten egg. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
While I don’t like the heat and humidity we get this time of year, I do love that we are starting to be able to benefit from our veg garden. Miraculously, thanks to my lovely husband, we still have a rosemary plant going strong. It’s an annual where we live and he’s managed to get it to grow to a decent size. I would have killed it by now.
To keep it a manageable size, I’ve been using it a lot in various dishes, including my Lemon Rosemary Pork. For a side dish I sautéed some swiss chard we’re growing. The swiss chard is going gang busters this year, it’s rivaling the rhubarb!
Technique for Lemon Rosemary Pork
Get the dry ingredients of the marinade together before adding the olive oil and lemon juice.
Add the pork and marinate for at least a couple of hours in the fridge. When it’s time, start prepping the sauce ingredients while the grill warms up. Heat up the butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms.
Cook for a couple of minutes before adding more garlic and rosemary. Once you add the pork to the grill, add the remaining marinade to the skillet. Bring up to a simmer.
Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove about a 1/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.
Once the pork is cooked and resting, sautè the swiss chard in the remaining sauce. Cook the stalk pieces first then add the leafy bits. I like them slightly wilted but not mushy.
Spoon the chard onto the plate, top with the pork and drizzle the reserve sauce over the dish.
I need to come up with more swiss chard dishes as well because they aren’t showing any sign of letting up.
Doing oven baked brisket was just one of the family events from the past several weeks. It’s been an emotional roller coaster what with our daughter’s graduation high school, our son’s birthday and my husband’s parents staying with us for a few weeks. I managed not to embarrass myself with too much crying as our daughter received her diploma but watching her drive off for her summer job of a camp councillor was tough. She is completely ready, us? Not so much. But we’ll adjust.
For our son’s birthday, I thought it would be fun to have a BBQ of grilled corn on the cob, mashed potato and a brisket. My in-laws don’t have much BBQ back home so I wanted to treat them as well. The thing is, it’s hard to keep the grill at a set temperature for 20 minutes, never mind the 10 hours needed to do a brisket on the grill. Plus, I didn’t think the propane would last. So the oven it was.
While it may not be traditional, you can get a very tender and flavourful brisket in the oven. You also don’t have to stand by the grill all day.
Technique for Oven Baked Brisket
As this isn’t Texas, I wasn’t able to find the Texas size brisket but that’s ok as we’re fans of portion control.
The only downsize to a smaller piece of meat is you don’t have a lot of fat on it. Make up the dry rub. Spread stone mustard all over the cut of meat, then rub the dry rub so the meat is well covered. This will help the brisket keep moist.
Cover and keep in the fridge overnight. An hour before you put it into the oven remove it from the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.
Wrap the brisket well in tin foil, you don’t want any moisture escaping into the oven. Bake until the brisket is fork tender. For the 1 1/2lb of meat I used, it was about 2 1/2 hours.
Spread with BBQ sauce of your choice. I used my Fresh Peach BBQ Sauce for this. Broil on high for a couple of minutes to heat the sauce and crisp up the outside of the brisket.
Allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Slice and serve with your favourite sides.
I got a thumbs up from my son who enjoyed his birthday dinner very much. Success!
I start grilling as soon as the grill can hold its own in the cold weather, usually when the temperatures are hovering round freezing. When the heat and humidity kicks in, the grill goes into overtime. Since it will be a few months before I get tired of salads I made a Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken for dinner and my food bowls.
To be honest, when I do get tired of salads, this would be great with rice noodles and the like. Plus you can make this with pork or fish.
For the dressing, there are many different Asian inspired ones you can choose from but I confess my guilty pleasure is salad cream. We tried to explain it to our stateside friends and they were like is it mayo? No! There were many guesses so I think we’re going to have to share our stash. Luckily, it isn’t hugely price prohibitive to get it delivered. Not like Marmite, where you have to mortgage your house to get it here. Fortunately, my in-laws are coming next week and they are bringing that with them.
Technique for the Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken
The chicken should be marinated for at least a couple of hours. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Before adding the chicken check the flavour of the marinade to make sure the balance of the flavours are as you like them. With the honey, you want to make sure the sweetness comes through but doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. As the marinade sits, the volume of the sweetness increases. So at the start have the honey just making the marinade a bit sweet.
Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise. Aside from lessening the cooking time for the chicken it makes it easier when cooking with honey. When using honey, you need to keep the temperature at medium on the grill. I always find that food photography that shows dishes with honey glazes still honey colored deceptive. Honey will brown when cooked. You do have to be careful as it will catch and burn very easily.
After marinating for at least a couple hours, grill the chicken making sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch and burn.
I do seem to be on a mushroom kick, not just the vegetarian kick. Growing up, the only mushroom I was really exposed to was the button mushroom. Not to knock it, because that type is fine, but there really is such a variety to choose from. Different “meatiness” and flavours which can make dishes exciting. We were at the library a few weeks ago and my husband found a cookery book by Yotam Ottolenghi called Ottolenghi Simple. I love his approach to food. His recipe featuring mushroom and feta caught my eye so here is my version. It’s not too different from his though I adjusted the amounts of the ingredients a little here and there. I also added garlic because I love it paired with mushrooms and thyme.
When making this dish, try to find as many different varieties of mushrooms as you can. It should celebrate them. I was unlucky as when I went there wasn’t any variety! So strange as I can usually find about 5 types.
Technique for Mushroom and Feta
Prep the ingredients prior to starting to cook, including the bulger wheat, as it does not take long to cook. The original recipe calls for adding salt and pepper to the bulger before soaking but I decided not to do that. I’m a huge lover of salt but I knew there would be plenty of that flavour from the feta and I seasoned the mushrooms as they cooked.
In a skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the onions for several minutes until they soften and begin to caramelise. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Stir and keep an eye on the seeds. You don’t want them to burn but you do want them to brown. Remove the onion and seeds, set aside.
If need be, add a bit more olive oil and then sauté the mushrooms. Once they begin to brown add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add another 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed and the thyme. Again cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. This will reduce and absorb quite quickly. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the onions, and let warm through, about a minute. Spoon over mixed lettuce and garnish with more fresh dill. Serve immediately.
We really enjoyed this dish and I’m going to add this as a choice for the food bowls we do for lunch. Hopefully I’ll have better choice with the mushrooms.
Mushrooms flavoured with thyme and dill, accompanied by feta over lettuce.
Mushroom and Feta
AuthorOur Growing Paynes
boiling water, enough to cover the bulger wheat
1/2cupfinely sliced red onion
1-1 1/2cupssliced mixed mushrooms
3cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1tbspfresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
1/2cupcrumbled feta cheese
1-2tspred pepper flakes
2cups mixed lettuce
Place the bulger wheat into a bowl and cover with boiling water until the water is an inch over the wheat. The bulger wheat will expand by quite a bit. Keep covered by a tea towel until all the water is absorbed.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet and add the onion. Cook until it starts to soften and caramelise. Should take about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. Cook, careful not to burn, until they are nicely browned. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside.
If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Heat on high and add the mushrooms. Because the olive oil has a low smoke point, keep an eye on it and lower to medium-high if it starts to catch. When the mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the thyme and the rest of the cumin seeds. Stir well and again cook for a few minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar while stirring. This will reduce and absorb quickly. Add all the other ingredients including the onion mixture. Allow it to warm through.
To serve, divide the lettuce between 2 plates, top with the mushroom mixture and garnish with fresh dill.
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.