Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes

This is my family recipe for scalloped potatoes.   I've been making this since I was a teenager (35 years now - wow time flies!).  This is going to be the second recipe that uses canned soup and while I promise you that I am not one of those "open a can of soup" cooks - this recipe is worth making.

You need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees and use some non-stick spray on a casserole dish.

3 large (or 6 smaller) potatoes
can of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
cheddar cheese (about a cup and half grated)

Usually I peel the potatoes but today I'm using new crop potatoes with thin skins so I just scrubbed them and sliced them thinly (one cm thick).  I chopped up about half a cup of sweet onion.  You can also layer thinly sliced mushrooms if you like.  Put the can of soup into a bowl or measuring cup - add about a quarter cup of milk and stir.  You want a fairly thick sauce-like consistency - you might want to add a little bit more milk.

Spread a few tablespoons of soup over the bottom of the casserole dish and start by layering potatoes.

After the potatoes, add half of the onions - then salt and pepper and a sprinkle of dried herbs - I used savoury but parsley or dill or thyme would be nice  You could also use fresh herbs but in a casserole like this that bakes for a long time, I find the dried herbs are just fine.  Next another layer of potatoes, a few tablespoons of soup and half of the cheese.  Another layer of potatoes, then onions and seasoning.  Finally a last layer of potatoes, a few more tablespoons of soup and the rest of  the cheese spread over the top.  Don't worry if you don't use all the soup mixture.  I only do when I use a big casserole.

I bake for half of the time with a lid on and then take it off for the end.  Usually it takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours to cook through.  I find that the newer the crop of potatoes - the longer it takes to bake.  Stick a knife in to check periodically.  When it goes in easily, you know the potatoes are tender and ready to serve.  They can be held easily in the oven for a time.  Give this recipe a try and I think it will become one of your family favourites too.  It's a good dish for a potluck.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pink Lemonade Ice Cream Cake

My favourite summer dessert - a slice of pink lemonade ice cream cake with strawberries.  Step one is to buy an angel food cake at the grocery store - makes it a very easy dessert.  Freeze the cake because it is easier to cut into 3 layers when it is cold.

Stir 1/2 can of pink lemonade into 4 cups of vanilla ice cream.  I like to buy the no-name lemonade from President's Choice as it is really pink and not too sweet.  Once that is well mixed, you need to re-freeze it so it will spread and not melt too quickly.

Once it is chilled enough, use it to spread between the layers of cake. Then refreeze again for a couple of hours.

The icing is whipped cream - 2 cups of whipping cream, 1 tsp of vanilla and 2 tsps of icing sugar (hint: use icing sugar - not regular sugar - it will help the cream whip quickly).  Use a hand mixer (or a whisk if you have lots of muscles!) and whip until stiff.  Ice the cake and freeze again for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days (great dessert to make the day before a party).  Serve it with sliced strawberries piled on top.  You might want to take it out of the freezer about 10 minutes before slicing so the whip cream softens a bit.

Pretty, isn't it!

Braised Goat

It was Caribbean night at my sister's pool yesterday.  Rum punch in my glass and Bob Marley on the stereo.....a wonderful day.  I braised some goat meat for dinner.  It was great!

I used about 4 lbs of goat meat - loin and shoulder chops and marinated them for 24 hours.  The marinade was the juice of one lemon, a cup of white wine, 3 hot chilies diced, 4 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 5 cloves of garlic minced and 1Tbsp of dried oregano.

I diced a sweet onion and cooked it til softened in some olive oil.  I then scooped it out of the pot and browned the goat in a little oil.  I used a Dutch oven and needed to brown it in batches.  Once it was browned, I poured a little of the marinade into the pan to deglaze the lovely brown bits on the bottom.  The meat and onions are then added back to the pot with the rest of  the marinade. Salt and pepper to taste. I simmered it for a few hours but it really needed only a couple. This is nice served with some plain rice.  A little island spice added to the dinner menu - enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Helen's Tuna Casserole

I'm on holidays right now and the living is easy.  It's not really the time for spending a lot of time in the kitchen but today I decided to make my Mom's Tuna Casserole.  I know we are in the middle of a heatwave but the air conditioner is on and my new stove doesn't heat up the kitchen when the oven is on.


4 cups of dry egg noodles
1 can of mushroom soup (Campbells)
Can of tuna, drained
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup diced onion
1 cup of peas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Boil salted water to cook your noodles.  By the time your noodles are cooked, you'll have everything else ready to go.  Chop up your onions.  In a large bowl, empty your can of soup and add milk to it (1/3 to 1/2 of the can filled with milk).  I used 1/3 of the can because I like my casserole just creamy but not really wet. Whisk the soup and milk together, add salt and pepper to taste, onions, one cup of cheese, a can of drained tuna and a cup of peas.  I usually use frozen peas for this recipe but today I had fresh peas from the garden.  They were scrumptious and added so much flavour to the casserole.  You can also add some fresh herbs - parsley or dill would be especially nice but my Mom prefers it plain.  Stir the mixture together, breaking up the tuna.

Drain your pasta when it is al dente and add it to the bowl.  Stir to combine and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Top with about half (or a little less) a bag of crumbled potato chips and 1/2 cup of grated cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes until it is browned and bubbly and hot.  I put a lid on it for the first 20  minutes and then take it off to brown.   Enjoy a tasty dinner!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Apple Streusel Crisp

A little dessert prompted by the birds!  I picked a pint of black raspberries in the garden.  I didn't plant them but obviously the birds did!

I decided I would make my version of apple crisp and add the raspberries.  A simple comforting dessert.

Ingredients are:
4 apples, peeled and sliced
a pint of black raspberries
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of slivered almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter (grease or spray) a casserole dish.  In a bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, almonds, spices and honey together.  Dice up a 1/4 cup of margarine into small squares.  Stir into the topping mix and then use your fingers to blend it together.

I spread the apple slices in the bottom of the casserole dish and then I topped it with my raspberries.  However, you don't need the raspberries and you can substitute blueberries, peaches or any fruit that bakes well for the apples.  Now I used what was in the fridge but normally I would use only one type of apple.  Choose one that is good for baking.  My first choice is MacIntosh but this time of year - you can't get nice ones.

Add the topping.  I had about 50% of the topping left over so I froze it in a bag and I'll do a small apple crisp another day.  Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes until a knife inserts easily so you know the apples are soft.  If you are using a softer fruit like peaches or blueberries, you might want to check it at 30 minutes to see if it's ready.

Then the finished product......................

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Salmon Pasta Salad

I love the summer and all the food that goes along with it - BBQs, salads and margaritas by the pool.  I made up a scrumptious salmon pasta salad today.  Very quick and very delish.  I cooked about 2 cups of corkscrew pasta and then drained and cooled it.  I grilled a salmon fillet and let that cool as well.

Then I chopped up about 2 cups of vegetables.  Today I diced a quarter of a orange pepper, a couple of Tbsp of shredded carrot, a couple of radishes cut into tiny matchsticks, a couple of slices of red onion, diced as well.  Then I added the juice of one lemon, a Tbsp of capers chopped and 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley and 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh dill.  The dill and parsley came out of my garden.  So nice to have fresh herbs at my doorstep.  You can use whatever vegetables you like - cucumbers, green onions, celery, blanched green beans, snow peas for example.  The choices are limitless.

Stir in the pasta and the chunks of grilled salmon.  Then add a couple of spoons of mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.  I like to start with a little mayo and add more if you need it but just add enough to moisten the salad - don't add so much that is becomes gloppy.  Nothing worse!

This is excellent for a light supper with a little green salad or for lunch (it's what I'm taking to work tomorrow).  This is a nice salad to take to a potluck supper - easy summer entertaining but tastes special. Enjoy your summer - don't spend it all in the kitchen!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

BBQ Asian Flank Steak

Looks good, doesn't it?  I can tell you it tasted great.  Marinated Flank Steak, skewers of mushrooms, onions and yellow peppers and roasted new red potatoes with garlic scapes.  I started out by marinating the flank steak for a couple of hours.

About 2 lbs of flank steak, marinated in one cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 3 Tbsp of cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp of pepper.  I marinated the steak for 2 hours in the fridge.

About a half an hour before dinner, I cut up a large potato and tossed it with a Tbsp of olive oil and a couple of chopped garlic scapes in an aluminum pan.  I put on the BBQ under direct medium heat.  I turned the potatoes every 10 minutes.  After 20 minutes, I added the vegetable skewers (peppers, mushrooms and onions drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and the flank steak.  After about another 10 minutes, potatoes and veggies were ready so I turned the heat off under them.  I turned the steak and BBQ'd another 15 minutes.  I wanted the steak fairly rare as I will be using it to make ginger beef for dinner tomorrow.  Love it when a plan comes together!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garlic Scapes - First Harvest from my Vegetable Garden

An odd delicacy that I discovered at the Farmer's Market a couple of years ago.  I was never really sure what to do with them but I love garlic and the look of them is so intriguing.  Last fall, I planted some garlic bulbs that I got from my friend, Nancy.  They are up and covered in scapes so I got on the internet last night to look for a pesto recipe.  My sister, Connie bought some at the market this week and BBQ'd them with potatoes and butter for dinner last night.  They were excellent.

In a food processor, grind up 1/3 cup almonds, 1 cup of scapes, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Cut the bud off the stem and remove the toughest part of the bottom of the stem.  Then cut into 1 inch pieces.

Add 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and grind it to a paste.  Add a 1/4 tsp sea salt and while, the processor is running, drizzle a 1/4 cup of olive oil through the feed tube.  It will make a thick paste that I am freezing in cubes  (please don't use your regular ice cube tray or you will curse me every time you have a drink - go to the buck store and get a tray you will only use for freezing herbs, tomato paste, etc).  I will then thaw a couple and add 2 or 3 Tbsp of olive oil to make a great pasta sauce.  This is what we had for lunch today and it was wonderful.  So aromatic but just a mild, sweet garlicky flavour.

Chicken Pot Pie

Remember the lemon and garlic chicken from a couple of days ago?  This is what it looks like now....
If you know me well, you know I hate leftovers but if I can make a whole new meal from them - that's a huge bonus.  No food wasted and no boring nuked leftovers!

Make chicken pot pies with leftover chicken and gravy - potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, frozen peas and bay leaf and fresh thyme.  Just a few easy steps - strip the chicken from the carcass and cube it.  Peel and cube potatoes and carrots (hold in a bowl of cold water), dice a half of a cup of onion and a stalk of celery.

Make chicken broth with 8 or 9 cups of cold water, the chicken carcass (including legs and wings), 2 stalks of celery and a wedge of onion.  Plenty of salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for an hour and then strain.

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and add onion and celery.  Cook at medium heat til softened but not browned.

Then add potatoes and carrots.  Cook for a few minutes and then add chicken and about 4 cups of broth.

Add a bay leaf and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  These came fresh from my garden.  Simmer for 30 minutes or so until vegetables are tender.  Add a cup of frozen peas and stir in the gravy.  If it needs a bit more thickening, you can add some white sauce.  Mine needed a little less than a cup of white sauce (check one of my earlier posts for directions to make a white sauce - cheese sauce for vegetables - just don't add the cheese!).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon chicken mixture into pot pie dishes (I also did a small casserole for the freezer).  Top with cheddar and chive buttermilk biscuits (check out an earlier post for the recipe) and bake for about 20 minutes.  Delicious and economical - I used every bit of that roast chicken.  There is also about 3 cups of chicken broth for the freezer that will be soup soon.