Thursday, May 15, 2008

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

This is so easy to make! It's something I just made up one day and my husband loved it so I've been making it ever since. It's healthy and delicious.

Ingredients & Preparation:

  • 2 packages of Yves Veggie Ground Round (Italian)
  • enough olive oil to stop things from sticking!
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce - please be aware that most of these sauces contain anchovies, so if you are a vegetarian (and i'm sure you'd know this already!) try to find one without any anchovies or skip this step altogether. Thanks to Les for this tidbit!

Mashed Potato

  • 6-7 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold), peeled
  • milk or cream to taste (I used creme fraiche this time)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chives
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese for the topping

I like to make my mashed potatoes first, usually a day ahead of time if I'm busy so I'm not doing everything on the same night. If you are doing them on the same day, make your mashed potatoes before any of the other steps. Once those are finished, set aside. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook up all your vegetables until soft in some olive oil - start the onions first as they take longer. Once finished, set aside in a bowl. In the same pan, heat the veggie "meat" with salt, pepper and Worcestershire until warmed through. Transfer the "meat" to a corningware and pack it down a little, add the mashed potatoes next and then top with some cheese.

Pop into the oven for 20 minutes until bubbly. Move to the top rack and broil for another 2 minutes or so until the cheese is golden.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I had a few ingredients in the fridge and freezer that I wanted to use up so I whipped up some easy enchiladas for a quick and delicious dinner. I normally make black bean enchiladas (vegetarian) so this recipe is a first for me!

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 2 with leftovers
  • tortillas (4)
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced & sauteed in olive oil
  • small red onion, chopped fine
  • shredded cheese of your choice (I used mozzarella)
  • tomatoes & red peppers, diced & mixed together
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce (I used the mild green one today)
  • salt & pepper to taste on the chicken

Cook the chicken first with the onion and salt/pepper. Once cooked, roughly cut the chicken into small bite size pieces. Put a little bit of the sauce in your casserole dish. Take one tortilla at a time and fill with 1/4 of the chicken and tomato/pepper mixture. Roll the tortilla up and place folded side down in the dish. Continue until tortillas are all filled.

Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven at 375 F for about 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.

Serve with a green salad for a quick weekday meal!

Honey Oat Cookies (For furry friends only!)

My dog was quite sick for the past 2 days from eating a store-bought dog treat. I stayed home with her today to make sure she was drinking water and not messing up the house and decided to make her some home-made cookies. She loves them and her tummy seems to be settled now. She is spoiled rotten!

They were very simple to make. I made 1.5 dozen and stored the remainder in a ball (freezer) for the next time I need some.

Ingredients & Directions: (Recipe from Cooking for your Dog by Ingeborg Pils)

  • 1 1/4 cups of flour

  • 1 1/2 cups of porridge oats

  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 2 tablespoons of honey

  • 2 eggs

  • 2/5 cup of milk

  • flour for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add butter in small flakes, honey, eggs and milk. Knead together thoroughly.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out round cookies shapes. Place on baking sheet with some room between them. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the cookies to dry for another 2 hours in the oven.

Serve with hugs & ear scratches!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Niçoise Olives

Did you know that 2 preserved lemons is $23? Neither did I. I had to buy them at this price because only ONE store in the whole region carries these as a grocery item. Needless to say, I now have preserved lemons in the fridge and have no idea what to use them for next! This dish felt like a lot of work for little return. I did not love the flavour but it was quite good overall.

I used chicken breast and chicken thighs instead of the whole bird (as recommended in the recipe). Most epicurious reviewers suggested to go this route. The flavour is very different and quite complex.

The recipe was translated from French and so it reads a little off. I started making this not realizing the recipe was only for 4 people. I was serving dinner to 7 so I quickly adjusted the amounts. I found the garlic was a bit much so unless you LOVE garlic, use only 3 cloves.

Ingredients & Preparation: (From Epicurious, Original Gourmet, October 1990)

Serves 4.
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
  • a 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh coriander plus additional for garnish if desired
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • a pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
    a 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, trussed
    1/4 cup Niçoise or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon (small), chopped fine
In a large ovenproof kettle stir together the onion, the garlic, the gingerroot, the cinnamon stick, 3 tablespoons of the coriander, the parsley, the lemon juice, the saffron, the oil, and 1 cup water, put the chicken on top of the mixture, and season it with salt and pepper.

Bake the chicken, covered, in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 45 minutes, transfer it to a cutting board, and let it stand, covered loosely, for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters.

To the onion mixture add the olives and the preserved lemon, bring the sauce to a boil, and simmer it, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Return the chicken to the kettle and simmer the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the chicken is just heated through. Discard the cinnamon stick and serve the chicken with the rice pilaf, sprinkled with the additional coriander.

Morrocan-Spiced Roasted Vegetables

The spices certainly gave these veggies a new depth. While I didn't use all the vegetables suggested in the original recipe, I will list them all below for those who wish to try the dish as written. I used shallots, onions (red & white), red peppers and sweet potatoes. There were quite a few comments on these veggies - all positive!

I didn't cook the veggies as directed, instead I cooked them at 425 for 45 minutes in the middle of the oven, mixing them up twice. I did not bake the shallots first either. Next time, I won't add as much butter.

Ingredients & Preparation: (From Epicurious, Original Gourmet, February 2000)

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr
Servings: Serves 12

  • 2 lb shallots, halved (or quartered if large)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 4 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss shallots with 1 tablespoon oil and roast in a shallow baking pan in lower third of oven 25 minutes. Toss together squash, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add roasted shallots and divide between 2 large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Dot vegetables in each pan with half of butter and roast in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes total.

Cooks' note: Vegetables may be roasted 1 day ahead, then cooled before chilling, covered. Reheat in a 350°F oven until hot, 15 to 20 minutes.

Arugula Salad with pomegrante, orange & goat cheese

This salad was not a show-stopper but it was quite good and looked very pretty.

Ingredients & Preparation: (From epicurious, Original from Bon Appétit, November 2002)

Servings: Makes 10 to 12 servings
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 oranges
  • 14 ounces arugula (about 16 cups)
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
  • 1 5.5-ounce package soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
Whisk first 5 ingredients in bowl to blend. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.)

Cut off peel and white pith from oranges. Cut oranges into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Cut each round into quarters. Transfer orange pieces to large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat and serve.

Lemon Curd Tart with an olive oil & almond crust

This picture doesn't do this tart any justice at all. This is the best lemon tart I've had (if I do say so myself!). My husband says this should become my "go to" dessert.

This tart is dead simple to make - even for the non-baking type.

Ingredients & Preparation (from Epicurious, Original from Gourmet, 2008)

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 4 hr
Servings: Makes 6 servings

For tart shell (I doubled this part of the recipe since many reviews on Epi recommended that you do so)

  • 4 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cup2 all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • Big pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)

For lemon curd

  • 3 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)

Equipment: a 9-inch round tart pan with removable side; a small offset spatula

Make tart shell:

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and sea salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Add yolk and oil and pulse until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed.

Spread dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan with offset spatula. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake shell until golden brown all over, about 13 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make curd:

Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons.

Whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking, 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth.

Assemble tart: Pour lemon curd into cooled shell and chill until set, at least 2 hours.

Cooks' notes: Tart shell can be made 1 day ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature. Assembled tart can be chilled up to 4 hours.

Toasted Israeli couscous with pine nuts & parsley

This is a very simple dish to make. I love Israeli couscous. Due to the size of the pieces (much bigger than "normal" couscous), the flavour from the broth is captured much better. The toasted pine nuts really added a great layer. The cinnamon added only a slight scent and was not overpowering at all.

I will definitely make this again.

Ingredients & Preparation (Recipe from Epicurious, Original from Bon Appétit, December 2004)

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 cups (16 ounces) Israeli toasted couscous
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 3/4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add couscous, cinnamon stick, and 2 bay leaves and stir until couscous browns slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add broth and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and pine nuts. Season with black pepper. Transfer to serving dish.