Sunday, February 27, 2011

Garlic Shrimp and Pear Salad

Tonight's dinner is Garlic Shrimp with a Salad featuring Pear and Pecans.  It was very delicious and just the right thing when you are feeling a little tired but want to have something to eat before the Oscars start!

The shrimp is incredibly quick to cook so make sure you have everything ready to go before you start and your salad is made.   Peel and devein your shrimp first.  I do about a dozen each.  It took me about 45 minutes to make this dinner but I'm a little obsessive compulsive about cleaning shrimp so it might not take you as long. You also need butter (and there's nothing wrong with that!), wine, garlic, parsley, paprika and salt and pepper.  I chop up 4 cloves of  garlic and about 4 Tbsp of parsley.

But before anything else, make your salad!  Start with lettuce, pear, sliced red onion, olive oil, lemon, honey, garlic and mustard.

Toast some pecans and while you are keeping an eye on them, you can get your lettuce ready.

You start by squeezing the juice of one lemon into your serving bowl.  This how I always make my salads that include pear or apple as they brown so easily after being sliced.  Into the juice, I add my sliced pear and toss to coat.  I then add the rest of my dressing ingredients - a large spoon each of honey and grainy mustard and one small garlic clove minced...

I stir it all together with my tiny whisk.  This one is made by Nigella Lawson and is one of my fav kitchen tools.  I then add the onions and nuts and give it a stir.  I put the lettuce on top but didn't toss until I was serving.  I used Boston lettuce and it is so tender that it will wilt if you mix it too early.

Now the shrimp (using the same pan I toasted the nuts in), I add a couple of Tbsp of butter and then add the shrimp with salt and pepper.

 Once it is pink on one side, turn them over and add the garlic and parsley.  Cook for a minute or two until the garlic starts to lightly brown, stirring gently.

Then add a heaping Tbsp of paprika to the pan and stir quickly to mix.  Add about a half a cup of white wine and stir quickly to make a sauce.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ahhhh, Comfort Food

Tonight I just needed comfort food - nothing gourmet - just old-fashioned pasta and cheese.  Sooo the menu tonight is my own version of Hamburger Helper.

Put salted water on to boil.  Once it is boiling, add  a couple of good handfuls of dry pasta.  Something like fusilli or rigatoni.

In the meantime, brown some ground beef (about 1/2 lb for 2 or 3 servings) with a couple of slices of onions chopped and a couple of cloves of garlic minced.   Season with salt and pepper.  Now for the flavour - you can go the Italiano route and add dried oregano, basil and parsley but I prefer a couple of tsp of taco seasoning (I buy mine from the bulk food store but you can find it at the grocery store). 

I then slice 10 or 12  mushrooms and chop half a pepper (tonight I used green and red) and add them to the pan.  Cook until mostly done.

Then open a large can of diced tomatoes and add about half of the can and most of the liquid.  Add the drained pasta to the pan and stir to combine.

Finally sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over the top and let it melt a minute or two before serving.

Ahhhh, comfort food in about 20 minutes.  Makes a great leftover lunch too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Take Me To The Greek!

Tonight's dinner is my own version of Greek food.  It may not be completely authentic but it tastes good and that's all that matters to me.  Pork Souvlaki with rice and Tzatziki sauce and Greek salad....

I use a pork tenderloin and marinate it for a few hours but you could certainly marinate it all day in the fridge.

Add a couple of glugs of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, 2 minced garlic cloves and a spoonful of dried oregano to the pork tenderloin.  Turn it in the marinade and season with salt and pepper.

When you are ready to grill (yes, George again), cut into cubes and thread on skewers.

 They don't take long to cook (about 15 minutes) so you might want to make the salad first.  This is enough souvlaki for 4 servings but it's great for lunch the next day, warmed up in a pita with sauce and vegetables.


The salad dressing is simply a light oil (1 Tbsp) and red wine vinegar (2 Tbsp) and dried oregano (1 1/2 tsps).  Mix together and this is enough for a salad for 2.

For the salad, chop up a tomato, slice half of an English cucumber, thinly slice some red onions and dice some red pepper.  Add cubed feta cheese and black olives.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour  the dressing over and toss.  You can add or subtract any vegetables you prefer.

Tasty and easy and  makes great leftovers...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simple but Delicious Lamb Chops

Tonight's menu was grilled Provencal Lamb Chops with Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms and Carrot Medallions.  It took less than 30 minutes to prep and less than 30 to cook.  Delicious dinner on the table in about an hour.

The lamb chops are seasoned with salt, freshly ground pepper and Herbes de Provence.  You can buy the herb mixture in specialty stores, bulk food stores or the recipe is easy to find on the internet to mix your own.  Sprinkle on both sides and grill on a hot grill for about 20 to 25 minutes.  However before grilling your chops, peel and slice your carrots and prepare the filling for the mushrooms.

Here's your shopping list to make stuffed mushrooms for 2

- a package of mushrooms
- green onions
- garlic
- fresh parsley
- mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
- white wine
- cream
- bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Wash mushrooms - I do 3 or 4 each and a couple extra for the filling - take the stems out of the caps and dice finely.  Also dice another couple of small mushrooms and put them in a small fry pan with butter and olive oil (less than a tsp each).  Season with salt and pepper and fry until lightly browned.

Slice one green onion, mince 2 cloves of garlic, grate 3 Tbsp of mozzarella cheese and finely chop about 3 Tbsp of parsley.  You can use commercial bread crumbs or when you have stale bread, grind it up in a food processor and keep it in the freezer.  I use about 3 Tbsp of this as well.

Once your mushrooms are lightly browned, stir in the garlic and cook for a minute of two.  Add green onions and continue cooking and stirring for another minute or two.  Add 3 Tbsp of white wine and let it bubble up and reduce a little.

Add about 3 Tbsp of cream and stir quickly to mix.  Add the parsley.

Add 3 Tbsp of  bread crumbs and 3 Tbsp of grated mozzarella cheese.  Turn heat off and stir quickly to combine.

If the mixture is too gummy, add a little more white wine to loosen.  It should be the consistency below before you stuff it in the caps.  Now would be the right time to put your carrots on to boil and preheat your grill. And yes, I used my George Foreman grill again.  I didn't even use any oil to cook the chops.  I should be doing a commercial for George!

In an enamel pie plate (or similar), pour in a tsp of olive oil.  Run the caps through the oil so the bottoms are coated.  Spoon the filling into the caps and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.  Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Now I start grilling my lamb chops and as I said, with a pre-heated grill, there is no necessity for oil.  Grill about 10 minutes on each side.  Do not try to turn the chops until it's been at least 10 minutes so they don't stick to the grill.  Now I put the lid down on my grill which cooks faster and if you were cooking in a grill pan or fry pan on top of the stove, you might want to take about 30 minutes to cook the meat.  The mushrooms and the carrots can be held warm if necessary.  Just turn off the oven and drain the carrots and leave them in the pot with the lid on.

You are ready to plate....Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chili Sauce

Sunday afternoon was not as lazy as this morning.  I made a double-batch of chili sauce.  So I can pretty much guarantee that tomorrow's breakfast is scrambled eggs.

I'm making some chili sauce for friends at work and of course, I'm doing a double batch so I'll have some for my pantry and to share with family.  But today friends, I'm going to share my Grandma's secret recipe for chili sauce with you...

Here's the shopping list for one batch which will make about 6 jars-------

4 cans of diced tomatoes
4 cups of diced green peppers (about 3)
2 cups of diced celery (about 6 or 7 stalks)
2 cups of diced onions (about 2)
I cup white vinegar
2 cups of brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp pickling spice and some cheesecloth or clean white 100% cotton to make a spice bag

Put all 4 cans of tomatoes in a large Dutch oven and using a potato masher, press down to make a thicker consistency while still keeping it quite chunky.  Turn heat on high and add vinegar, sugar and salt.  Stir to combine and then add green pepper, celery and onion.

Stir and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 1 hour.

After it has simmered for an hour, add your spice bag.

Simmer for another hour with the spice bag and stir frequently.  After an hour check the taste and the consistency.  Once the taste is right, remove the spice bag.  Continue simmering if it is not thick enough.

Now you want to get your jars ready and if you've already done canning, then you can skip this next bit as it is pretty boring.

You need a pot that is big enough to cover the jars with boiling water. Bring the water to a boil and add the jars and boil for at least 10 minutes.

You also need a large metal ladle, metal tongs, a metal or plastic canning funnel and rings and lids. Sterilize all but the lids by boiling them for 10 minutes as well.

Take the jars out of the water bath with the tongs and using the funnel, ladle the chili sauce into each jar.  The lids should be boiled for about 3 minutes (any longer and the rubber edge softens too much to maintain a good seal). As you fill each jar, leaving about an 1/2 inch of head space, add the lid to the top of each jar using the tongs again.  Make sure that the chili sauce does not touch the top rims of  the bottles.  The funnel is excellent for making this easy and quick. Twist the ring onto each jar and when it has cooled a little, tighten the rings.  As they sit, you will hear them "pop".  This is  a good sign - they are sealing tightly which is the only way to keep them  fresh and edible for weeks or months to come.  You are done - Enjoy!

Lazy Sunday morning and French Toast for breakfast

A nice weekend breakfast of French toast with maple syrup and bacon....

To make French toast, you need a slice or two of white bread per person.

 Break an egg for every 2 slices, 2 Tbsp of milk per egg, 1 tsp of sugar per egg and add 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the bowl.

 Mix well and dip the bread in egg mixture.

 Fry in a pan or on a griddle that is lightly oiled.  Serve with crisp bacon and some butter and real maple syrup!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberries and Rosemary

Simple Saturday Supper of Roasted Pork Tenderloin Marinated in Wine with Cranberry and Rosemary.

Start with the marinade...

1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 or 3 minced garlic cloves
2 or 3 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 or 3 thinly sliced shallots

Mix the ingredients together for the marinade.  If I'm making the marinade in the morning, I add the shallots.  If I'm only going to marinade for a couple of hours, I cook the shallots when I'm browning the meat so don't add them.  You put 2 lbs of pork tenderloin (either one large or two smaller ones) in the marinade in the fridge.  This recipe will serve 4.  You can make some substitutions - dried rosemary (2 to 3 tsps) for fresh, dried cherries or blueberries instead of cranberries, onion instead of  shallots but make very sure you buy juice and not cocktail.   The cocktail is full of sugar and your sauce will burn terribly.  Today I used cranberry/raspberry juice and dried cherries.

With this dinner, I served mushroom rice and grilled asparagus.  The rice can be cooked earlier (even the night before) and then start dinner about 45 minutes before you want to eat.  Turn the oven to 375 degrees to preheat.

Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in metal oven-proof fry pan.  Brown the pork tenderloin on all sides and add the shallots to the pan to fry if you didn't put them in the marinade.

When the meat is browned on all sides, pour the marinade over it and bring it to a boil.  Then turn off the heat and put pan in oven (no lid).  Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Start the veg - slice 6 mushrooms and saute in a pan in a tsp of olive oil.  Slice 2 green onions and set aside. Wash the asparagus and slice the tough bottom portion off.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Your timer is probably going off right now so take the pan out of oven and turn the tenderloin over and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.  Add the rice and green onions and about a Tbsp of soy sauce to the mushrooms.  Give it a stir and cook til it is warm and then keep it warm til serving.

Warm a grill pan or your George Foreman grill (you are going to see this  a lot - got it  for Christmas and I love it!).  Put the asparagus on the grill and cook.  It'll take about 10 minutes.

Your timer is going off again.  Take the pan out of the oven.  Let the tenderloin rest on the cutting board. Put the pan with the marinade on the stove top on high and bring the sauce to a boil.  Cook until it reduces by more than half and thickens. This takes about 5 minutes.

Once the sauce is thickened, your asparagus should be ready.  Slice the tenderloin.  Now plate your rice, asparagus with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese, and slices of tenderloin with sauce spooned over it.  Enjoy!