Steak and Mushroom Pie

It’s time to get in the festive mood! It’s the fun month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though I’m already over the cheesy modern Christmas music. Just not the same as the standards. My husband and I had a quiet Thanksgiving as our kids were in South Carolina. My aunt very kindly invited us to her place for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a lovely meal and a lovely time. She is an awesome aunt and she’s very good to us.

Even though the weather can’t decide to be warm or cold this season there has been been opportunity for comfort food. And you can’t go wrong with steak and mushroom pie.

In a small bowl, add about 3 oz of flour and season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well. Take a half pound/8oz of stewing steak and cut it into small cubes. Toss in the flour until well coated.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and start browning the steak.

Coarsely chop a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.

Cut up enough mushrooms to make half a cup/3-4oz. Sauté in the pan then add about 2 1/2 cups/20oz of vegetable bouillon. Bring to a simmer. For seasoning and flavour I added a half cup of dry sherry and a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped. Slow cook on low for a few hours until the steak is tender and falling apart. To thicken the broth, add either a couple of teaspoons of flour or corn starch(flour) to a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan and bring up to a boil to cook the flour and thicken the broth. Adjust the seasoning as needed as sometimes the flour can dull the flavours.

Split the stew between ramekins. I made enough for two. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush individual layers of phyllo dough to top the ramekins. Broil/grill til the top is nice and golden.

Perfect with a nice deep red wine on a chilly night!

Parsnip and Roasted Mushroom Soup

I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me?  Didn’t sleep the night before.  It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids.  Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream.  Think he’ll be ok.  😊

Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds.  Definitely soup season!  On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup.  Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese.  Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious.  But I went off on a tangent.  


As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms.  Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake.  Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.


Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned.  In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.


Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so.  Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry.  Bring to a medium simmer.  Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.


Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter.  Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.


Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.  This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth.  The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.  

Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Croque Monsieur, Fun Food for the Kids

In some of the tourist places we visited in France I came across croque monsieur.  An inside out grilled cheese sandwich!  The kids tried it and thought it was fun.

I loved the inspiration I got while over there.  So much good food and ingredients.  I got a kick out of this vending machine we found:

Croque Monsieur 11 2015

I mean how cool is this idea?  Fresh veg, fruit, and homemade soups.  Don’t get me wrong I loved the Cadbury vending machines when I lived in London but still, this was refreshing to see.  Much better than these fish sticks I found:

Croque Monsieur 10 2015

How sad.

There are several recipes for croque monsieur, all pretty similar.  I used Ina Garten’s from Barefoot in Paris as a guide.  I used our sourdough bread for this.  I really didn’t want to use the soft storebought white bread she recommends.  I just don’t like that stuff!  I needed to make 4 sandwiches so I toasted the bread ahead of time.  Also, prep 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1/2 cup of jarlsberg and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add 3 tablespoons of flour to the butter.

Croque Monsieur 1 2015

Keep it on the heat and continue whisking to cook the flour.  You don’t want the mixture to burn.

Croque Monsieur 2 2015

Her recipe called for 2 cups of milk but I felt that was way too much.  I decided to go with 1 1/2 cups of milk.  We still had too much sauce leftover.  Gradually add the milk to the flour mixture, again whisking the whole time to work out the lumps.

Croque Monsieur 3 2015

Croque Monsieur 4 2015

With the heat on medium bring the mixture to a near boil.  You don’t want to have it actually boil but you need it hot enough to thicken.  Keep stirring to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.  Once the sauce thickens remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Dust the top with nutmeg and season with sea salt and pepper.

Croque Monsieur 5 2015

Spread stone ground mustard of your choice onto half the slices of the toast.  Add slices of ham and top with the other slices of bread.  Then spoon on the sauce.  Top with more jarlsberg cheese.

Croque Monsieur 7 2015

Croque Monsieur 8 2015

Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  Serve with a side salad.

Croque Monsieur 9 2015

I have to say as crazy as this dish sounded to me it was a lot of fun to eat and it was delicious.

Rosemary Garlic Pork

Apparently we missed one hell of a game last night.  We don’t have cable any more so I started the day checking out the ads from the Superbowl.  I’m guessing the game was way better than the ads.  I made the mistake yesterday of going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  It was mobbed.  Not only was the “big” game last night but we are also now in the middle of yet another big snow storm.  So there was game shopping on top of the panic shopping people do before a storm.  This storm didn’t shift to the east this time so we’ll be getting a lot of snow today.

My husband lucked out with the travel and was able to come home safely.  I had a good time with the kids last week but it’s great to have him home with us.  I was struck the other day how much our kids are growing up.  After taking them out for a light meal we drove back and bad music was playing on the radio.  Our daughter decided that we needed to listen to some real music.  So she put on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and she and I belted out the song.  Slightly to our son’s dismay!  She took us through the 80’s and we ended with the Cupid Shuffle dancing in the kitchen.  Then we topped it off watching Master Chef Junior.  Those kids are incredible cooks.  We are just blown away that an 8 year old can do restaurant quality dishes and an 11 year old did up a branzino.  It’s insane.

To welcome home my husband I decided to make a pork loin with garlic and rosemary.   I found this recipe from Daily Dish Magazine to use as an inspiration.

Rosemary garlic pork 1 2015

Coarsely chop the rosemary and garlic.  This recipe takes a lot of garlic which is fabulous.  I used almost a whole bulb of garlic.  Place in a bag and add about 3/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Season the pork loin with sea salt and pepper and marinate for at least an hour.

Rosemary garlic pork 2 2015

In a skillet heat up olive oil and pan sear the pork loin on both sides.

Rosemary garlic pork 3 2015

Finish in the oven at 350F/175C.  In a small skillet heat up the marinade and begin to reduce down.

Rosemary garlic pork 4 2015

Add butter a tablespoon at a time until there is a nice balance of the wine, lemon, and butter.  While the pork is resting saute some swiss chard with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Slice the pork and serve over the chard.  Top with the sauce.

Rosemary garlic pork 5 2015

It goes very well with roasted potato and parsnip.  It was wonderful catching my husband up with how our week went and listening to him tell us about his.  🙂

Carrot Ginger Soup

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

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

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

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

Carrot ginger soup 1 2014

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

Carrot ginger soup 2 2014

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

Carrot ginger soup 3 2014

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

Carrot ginger soup 4 2014

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

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.

 

Seared Scallops with Cream and Butter Sauce

I often ask my family what they would like me to cook for meals.  Our son recently began requesting pulled pork sandwiches because that is one of the school hot lunches he likes.  We let them have a hot lunch once a week at school if they choose for something different.  So I told him that I’ll do that in a few weeks once Thanksgiving has died down.  Unbeknownst to me he requested that from a friend’s mom this week.  He got invited to go a book signing for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and she asked what she should make for dinner.  I don’t think he realises what goes into making these sandwiches!  But she was a great sport and made them.  Awesome.  🙂

For last night my husband requested the cream and butter sauce over pasta.  Which I was happy to do but because I’m on very low gluten/gluten free I needed to do something for myself that would allow me to get both dishes done at the same time.  I originally wanted to do some salmon but the salmon at the shop was really sad looking.  However they had some lovely sea scallops.

Instead of pasta I roasted potatoes for my dish.  I made the cream and butter sauce the way I usually do.  In a skillet saute 5 slices of  streaky bacon.  After a few minutes add half an onion chopped.

Seared scallops 1 2014

After the onions have softened add 3-5 finely chopped cloves of garlic and sliced shiitake mushrooms.  Deglaze the pan with a few teaspoons of sherry and stir well.

Seared scallops 2 2014

For colour add some red or orange bell pepper.  While the pasta is cooking prep the scallops by patting them dry on paper towels.

Seared scallops 3 2014

Heat up a skillet with olive oil and starting searing one side of the scallops.  Because of the bacon involved I seasoned mine with a spicy dry rub.

Seared scallops 4 2014

To get a good sear on the scallops don’t play with them.  Let them be until they freely move in the pan.  Sometimes they will slide round before the sear is complete but definitely don’t try to force them up to flip them over.  Once you have a nice sear turn them over to sear the other side.

Seared scallops 5 2014

I prefer my scallops to not be overly translucent but cook them to the level you desire, just don’t cook them so that they are tough or dry.  To serve I layered the roasted potatoes with the sauce then topped with the scallops.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

Seared scallops 6 2014

I loved this substitution for pasta.  I felt like I ate enough without that awful stuffed feeling.  And cream and butter sauce is such an indulgence.  I could eat bowls of it!  🙂

 

Roasted Duck with a Port Wine Fig Sauce

Usually when we watch cooking competitions I will either get inspiration or be really impressed with what they pulled off.  This weekend we watched an episode of Top Chef from season 10 where they had to cook an omelette as a test.  I was not impressed!  None were fluffy and light, many were browned quite a bit, and to top it off Wolfgang Puck showed them the proper technique and his came out browned and not so fluffy either.

It’s a strange feeling that if I was there, I might have passed the cooking test over the established chefs!  With that in mind I thought it would be a great way to start the day of spoiling my husband for his birthday with delicious food.

Port Fig Sauce and Roasted Duck 1 2014

I started dinner off with charcuterie and cheeses as the first course.  For the main course I wanted to use a recipe I came across on Armchair Sommelier for a Port and Fig Sauce with chicken.  I thought this would work very well with roasted duck.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

In a baking dish place the duck pieces and season with salt and pepper.  I had duck legs and duck wings in the freezer to use up.

Port Fig Sauce with Roasted Duck 2 2014

Bake the duck covered for half an hour.  While this is baking chop up about a cup of dried figs.  In a saucepan bring to a boil the figs, 2/3 cups of tawny port, a cup of water, and 2 tsp of lemon zest.

Port Fig Sauce with Roasted Duck 3 2014

Once it boils lower to a simmer, uncovered.  When the duck is nearly done raise the oven to 400F/205C and uncover the duck.  Remove from the oven when the skin is crispy.

Port Fig Sauce with Roasted Duck 5 2014

Add a couple of tablespoons of duck fat to the sauce, mix well, and simmer for a few more minutes.

Port Fig Sauce with Roasted Duck 4 2014

Because I had to divide the duck with four of us I cut all the meat off of the bones that I could to share among us. Top with the sauce.  I also did roasted parsnips and pan roasted brussel sprouts.

Port Fig Sauce with Roasted Duck 6 2014

We all really enjoyed this meal but I think the next time I make this I will add something to offset the sweetness of the sauce with onions to help balance the sweet along with the richness of the duck.

After this we were too full for dessert so last night we had choux pastry with Bird’s custard, raspberries, my salted spiced rum caramel, and whipped cream.  Yum!

 

 

Spicy Crab Salad with Crispy Shallots

When we were in Austin I had the most amazing raw oysters with a spicy cold “broth” that I would love to recreate but I’m not sure how to be honest.  So instead I would use it as inspiration for a crab salad.

We had a get together with friends that we usually do every autumn this weekend. It’s a potluck so we always eat well and there is always too much food!  A good time to try out a new recipe.  🙂

Crab Salad 1 2014

I used the claw meat as it was a lot less expensive than the lump meat and it’s still tasty.  In a small mixing bowl add a few spoonfuls of chilli garlic paste, a few squeezes of lime juice, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.

Crab Salad 2 2014

Chill for a few hours in the fridge.  Just before serving thinly slice a shallot and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.  I chose not to flour the shallots because several of us are doing gluten free or low gluten.  After frying place them on a paper towel to blot the extra grease and season with salt and pepper.

Crab Salad 3 2014

The crab salad can top anything you like.  I used lentil crackers with sea salt.  Funny I really don’t like lentils but these crackers are delicious.

Crab Salad 4 2014

While not quite the raw oysters this was delicious and easy to make.  Which is perfect when you are getting ready to host a party.  🙂