Old and New Meals, Again

Nothing too exciting happening in the kitchen. I made an attempt at a type of hand shaped pasta, called strascinati rigati, using a sushi rolling mat, but the results were a bit disappointing. Next time, I’d roll the pasta much thinner and cut smaller pieces for shaping. I’d also cook them fresh rather than drying them. Taste wise … well, it’s pasta with a home made marinara sauce. Tasty but nothing to write home about.

The pasta on the left was made only with all purpose flour while the pasta on the right used half fine ground semolina flour as well.

Once again, the freezer is providing the start of some great meals … leftover pork ribs (remember that blueberry bbq sauce) with purchased hash brown patties.

And pulled pork sandwiches with roasted potato wedges.

I had a sirloin steak in the freezer so I thawed it out, seared it in a cast iron frying pan and served it rare. Simple but delicious with mashed potatoes, carrots and salad. There was enough steak leftover for a steak sandwich too.

I had a bit of a chocolate craving so I whipped up some blender chocolate mousse/pot de creme, flavoured with orange liqueur (Cointreau), to pour into a couple of prebaked pastry shells from the freezer. I had visions of something like a chocolate cream pie but since the shells had shrunk so much, not much of the mousse fit into the shells. So, I poured most of the mousse into a couple of ramekins and topped them with a dollop of whipped cream.

I should have let the pies set a bit longer before cutting into them but I couldn’t wait. (Sorry for the poor lighting in the first picture.)

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Salmon Filet – Portioning for Freezing

Recently, I picked up a whole fresh salmon filet at Costco and, when I got home, I portioned it up so I could freeze it for future meals. It wasn’t as pretty as this wild caught Canadian salmon, that I got for a crazy cheap price some years ago, but I cut it up the same way so I’m recycling pictures from an earlier post on LJ.

Here’s what I did with some of the Canadian salmon – teriyaki basted and baked buttery rich and tender salmon belly meat and crispy salmon skin. (Yes, teriyaki IS my favourite baste/glaze for salmon)

As for the butchering technique:

First, rinse off the filet and pat it dry with paper towels. It looks so lovely and red, doesn’t it? 🙂

Then, cut into the filet at the tail end, about 2-3 inches from the end. (My fridge was REALLY cold. You can see some shards of ice forming on top of the salmon.)

If you have a sharp knife, and are confident in your knife skills, you can hold on to the tail with a folded over paper towel and run a sharp knife between the flesh and skin from the tail to the head portion of the filet. However, once you make that first cut through to the skin and get about an inch under the flesh, you can remove the knife and use the back edge of your hand ‘in place of the knife’ to free the flesh from the skin while firmly holding on to the tail. There’s no risk of cutting the skin or hacking up the underside of the flesh if you use your hand. Which is what I did.

The result is a sheet of salmon skin, a cleaned filet and the couple of inches of salmon from the tail cut off the skin.

I flipped the cutting board around, trimmed the fatty belly meat off and then portioned the rest of the salmon into 7 portions. I used the width of 3 fingers as my portion guide. The weight of each portion ranged from 3-5 oz depending on the position on the filet.

The underside of the skinned salmon pieces

And, what I ended up with … wrapped for the future.

On the right, in the Ziploc container: 6 lovely salmon portions wrapped up in pairs of similar size and weight. On the left, in the smaller container: the scraps from the tail portion that I used to hold onto when I removed the skin from the rest of the filet, the next tail portion, and the belly meat cut into about 5 strips. The salmon skin was baked until crispy and served with seasoned seaweed.

Crispy Salmon Skin

salmon skin, no meat remaining
neutral vegetable or grapeseed oil
salt, as needed

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Farenheit.

Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil brushed with oil on a baking sheet.

Cut the skin into approximately 2 by 3 inch portions. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning over the skin after 10 minutes. Remove the skin as it crisps up. Some pieces may be slightly thicker so may require an extra couple or three minutes. Transfer to a doubled sheet of paper towelling and let cool. Cut or break into shards and use as garnish.

Barbie’s Super Simple Oatmeal Cookies (with Coconut)

I enjoyed the taste of the last batch of oatmeal cookies that I made … but the ‘look’ didn’t thrill me.

These, on the other hand, are very photogenic. And they taste good as well. Not overly sweet … next time, I’d use half the amount of salt though cause the margarine, which I used instead of butter, was salty enough.

This recipe also came out of Edna Staebler’s “Cookies and Squares with Schmecks Appeal”. The kitchen was a bit warm for September (77 deg F) so, by the time I had mixed up the dough and started shaping it into 1 inch sized balls, my dough was pretty sticky. I persevered and then refrigerated the resulting cookie balls.

After 30 minutes, I used the back of a fork to press down gently on the cookie balls in order to flatten them and baked the cookies for 14 minutes, instead of the 12 minutes recommended, in a preheated 350 deg F oven. I left the baked cookies on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before using a thin metal spatula to transfer them onto the cooling rack, to finish cooling.

Flavoured Sourdough Tortillas

I used to buy various flavoured tortillas … pesto and jalapeno cheddar come to mind, so a recent FB post which mentioned a rosemary olive oil tortilla inspired me to flavour my own home made sourdough flour tortillas. I was going to add dried rosemary to the sourdough tortilla dough but the jar of pesto, which caught my eye, when I opened the fridge door, led me in another direction.

Shiso pesto tortillas … one tablespoon of the vegetable oil was replaced with pesto.

For these sun-dried tomato tortillas, I pureed 2 tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes with the water in the recipe and added 1 tbsp of tomato paste for colour. A couple of pinches of sugar were added as well as I was afraid the tomatoes would be a bit … bitter. They were fine, by the way.

Other flavours I’m thinking of making one day … chipotle in adobo, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, spinach, sun-dried tomato and garlic. What do you think would be a great flavour?

… And here are a couple more tortilla pizzas. I’ve pretty much stopped making regular yeast pizza dough, or even bread, as these tortillas are much more convenient for a single person. One has bacon on it and the other has a meat ragu sauce base with fresh basil leaves.

In place of sandwich bread, wraps are more fun, like in this breakfast or lunch scrambled egg and pepperoni wrap

Blue Monday … Blueberry BBQ Sauce and Blueberry Hand Pies

Happy Labour Day US/Canada!

Two ‘blue’ themed dishes for the last day of the summer holidays.

And a link to a song that just says it all.

Blueberries have been on sale for the last couple of months so I tossed a couple of clamshells in the freezer … for later.

Well, later has come, and I started with a marinade/bbq sauce for the strip of pork ribs I found in the basement freezer. I took the lazy route and didn’t saute an onion and garlic, as I should have. Instead, I added a tablespoon of dry minced onion and a few shakes of garlic powder to a bbq recipe I found on the Blueberry Council website. It was a lot looser than I wanted even after I simmered it uncovered (and unattended) for a while. You might want to hang around the kitchen and stir it every few minutes so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom and scorch.

Pork ribs before and after marinating and baking

Dessert also featured that juicy blue fruit. Hand pies using a recipe posted on one of the FB groups I belong to.

The pastry was tender and delicious but, even baking it an additional 10 minutes, didn’t brown the whole egg glazed tops as much as I wanted. And, during that extra 10 minutes, all of the hand pies burst open and oozed their tasty filling over the baking sheet. Luckily I had lined it with parchment paper so I didn’t have a mess to clean up. I plan on upping the temperature to 400 deg F, and cut steam vents in the top. (NOTE: Just had a chance to touch base with the recipe poster and she mentions that she now does both those things.)

I had halved the filling recipe because I only had two cups of blueberries, but I had more filling than I needed for the hand pies I made, so I made a mini pie with the surplus. And the extra pastry was shaped into three mini pie shells and blind baked. Disappointingly they shrank quite a bit, even though I refrigerated them before baking. When I serve the mini blueberry pie and decide what to fill those shells with, I’ll share pics.

Labour Day Meal

Quick Note on Grocery Shopping/Cooking Plans

So, I just spent an hour or so doing an inventory of the kitchen (off-kitchen, actually) and basement freezers cause I’ve lost track of what’s in there.

There are several kinds of raw proteins available … chicken drumsticks, a box of pre-seasoned chicken wings, three boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a couple of packages of boneless pork loin, a big bag of large shrimp, and a single sirloin steak.

I’m going to see if I can avoid going grocery shopping until the next set of grocery store flyers come in, on Friday, and make do with what’s already on hand. I have no self control when it comes to picking up sale items, to store away in the FREEZER, for the future.

My flour canister is almost empty and I’m down to my last 5 lb bag of all-purpose flour in the freezer so I’m not going to do any bread baking until I’m totally out. I may even (shock and horror) BUY some from the bakery or grocery store.

I’ve thawed a strip of pork ribs and will be cooking it today tomorrow.

Stay tuned …

August/Summer Wrap-Up … Butter Saffron Basmati Rice and Pepperoni Pizza Sourdough Bread Loaf

PICTURE HEAVY WARNING

Summer has been much too short. Of course, I didn’t get much accomplished. In fact, I can’t even remember the semi-ambitious plans I had made.

Next year, I’m going to have to make and post a list of To Do‘s to keep me on track.

I hope work calls are more frequent this fall than last year and that my insomnia doesn’t flare up again. Going to bed at 5am is a bad habit and I need to get my sleep patterns back on track if I keep getting 6am phone calls to work.

And now, for a quick clear out of dishes I’ve cooked and pictures that I haven’t shared in August. Posting should slow  down quite a bit as work starts again.

I made butter saffron basmati rice with which to serve some leftover green chicken curry.

Butter Saffron Basmati Rice – ~3 cups

1 cup basmati rice
1 1/3 cup water
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt

Saffron garnish
pinch or two of saffron threads
2 tbsp boiling water

Combine the boiling water and the saffron threads in a small bowl/ramekin and set aside.

Cooking the rice:

Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and then pour into a colander and drain.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the drained rice. Saute for a minute or two. Add the water and salt to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to the minimum setting on your stove and cover.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork. Every rice grain should be separate from every other. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle the saffron over the top.

Serve.

I tested the suggestion that using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour in my sourdough baking would give me better oven spring. The result did not bear that out but as I made some other changes to my ‘go to’ no-knead sourdough recipe, they’re not conclusive. The add-ins (1 oz diced hot pepperette, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, 2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp Italian herb seasonings), at least, gave me a very tasty, if flat, oval loaf of pepperoni pizza bread.

It was great as a dip for marinara sauce and toasted or plain, with butter, peanut butter or as a base for an open faced egg salad sandwich.

 

Mushroom and Tofu Egg Drop Miso Soup – It’s hard to take a nice picture of miso soup

A shrimp appetizer

Shrimp and Mushroom Scampi over home made Fettuccine pasta

Some breakfasts/lunches

 

Spicy pepperoni and mozzarella cheese stuffed omelette

Sourdough tortilla pizzas have been appearing often on my plate – from the classic pepperoni/mozzarella, with or without sweet peppers, Canadian bacon and fresh basil to pulled pork/bbq sauce to shrimp or mushroom on a base of shiso pesto. A bacon and mozzarella pizza made today isn’t pictured.

 

 

I was sure I had some fudgy chocolate cupcakes in the downstairs freezer for a quick dessert (even had a frosting idea that I was excited about) but then I had to scramble for a new plan when I discovered that I had eaten them all up, and all that was left were nine red velvet cupcakes. Making a cream cheese frosting was my immediate thought and, after weighing what was left of the last brick of Philly cream cheese (77 gm) in  my fridge, I searched my hard drive for one of the many ‘one day, I must try this’ frosting recipes that I could scale down. I was very pleased with the result … a thick, pipeable frosting with a touch of lemon juice to cut through the cloying sweetness of so many cream cheese frostings.

The last of the raspberry cupcakes with raspberry curd

Basic Corn Chowder … Chicken/Turkey or Bacon Variations

Just a quick info dump for those who aren’t familiar with chowders. A chowder is a hearty potato based soup which is often thickened with a flour roux and/or milk or cream.

For healthier alternatives, a puree of corn kernels or potatoes may be a good substitute thickener. Mixed seafood, fish or clams are seen in some versions, and there’s nothing as tasty as a chicken or turkey chowder with a decidedly southwestern or Tex-Mex twist with the addition of diced green chiles or a prepared chile verde. Ham and potato chowders are a great choice for meat lovers while for vegetarians, a vegetable stock base and the addition of roasted corn, sweet red peppers and even mushrooms, satisfy.

NOTE: For other chowders I’ve made in the past, search the ‘soup’ tag in LJ and for ‘chowders’ in the search bar at the bottom of the page in WordPress.

I set aside three bbq roasted corn on the cob a while ago and, after cutting off the kernels, added the cobs to the pot along with a mix of  chicken and turkey carcasses and made a very flavourful stock for the base of this chowder.

Basic Corn Chowder – serves 6-8

1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups vegetable stock, flavoured with corn cobs (or 4 cups of vegetable stock and 2 cups of milk, half and half or whipping cream)
3 cups roasted corn kernels, cut off the cob
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (optional)
3-4 medium, potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste, start with 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper and adjust at the end

Flour Slurry

2 tbsp flour and 1/4 cup of cold water

Combine the flour and water in a small jar with a lid and shake until you get a smooth mixture.

Making the Chowder

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, saute the diced onion in the vegetable oil until it’s translucent. Add the diced celery and continue sauteing for a few more minutes until the onion just begins to get some colour around the edges but does not brown.

Add the diced potatoes, stock, corn kernels, thyme and salt and pepper to the pot, cover with a lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the slurry to the pot and continue to simmer for at least 5 minutes until the chowder is thickened. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Serve.

Chowder Variations: For a chicken/turkey version, use a chicken or mixed poultry stock and add the shredded meat of choice (1-2 cups) along with the potatoes.

For a bacon version, use bacon fat instead of vegetable oil to saute the onions. Add about 1/2 cup of chopped crispy bacon to the pot of chowder just before serving and stir in to distribute evenly. If you prefer your bacon crunchy, sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the bacon over each bowl as a last minute garnish.

COOKING TIP: Soup can be thickened at the BEGINNING of the cooking process by making a roux of equal parts oil/butter and flour and then adding the liquid. During the cooking process, the soup gradually thickens so care must be taken to stir to the bottom of the soup pot in case the flour settles and scorches. Or, it may be thickened at the END by adding a slurry of flour and cold water, mixed or shaken together in a small jar until no lumps remain, to the pot of soup, and letting it cook together for another 5-10 minutes until thickened. Another way to thicken soup, at the end of the cooking process, is to combine equal amounts of flour and softened butter to form a kind of paste (beurre manie or ‘kneaded butter’) and then add lumps of this mixture to the soup, stirring well so it dissolves and gradually thickens the soup.

Eight cups of corn and turkey chowder for the freezer

Blast from the Past Post (Long and Dry)

NOTE: If you’re not in the mood for a long and boring ramble, go to the bottom of this post and click on the link to see many of the pretty pictures I’ve posted over the past few years.

As some may know, I started posting on LiveJournal in February 2006 … about once a month and picture free.

Oh, those carefree days, when my LJ was just a way of establishing an internet profile and keeping my account alive, with no drive to take pictures of EVERY meal and share recipes. But over time my LJ evolved into a glorified food diary, and then a recipe sharing, pic-spamming and more rarely, a life sharing vehicle.

In December of 2011, I persuaded my nephew to take pictures of some chocolate truffles I had made. It made my LJ post come to life and the reaction from my LJ and blogging friends was wonderful. Ego-stroking is a great motivator to spend money on buying your own camera cause that’s exactly what I did.

January 2012 was the start of a rather obsessive almost six year LJ journey of making food, plating/presentation and picture taking.

In April 2014, I made my first blog post and eventually started duplicating my posts there as well. Gradually, LJ became a desolate place from which people started disappearing in droves. Dreamwidth seems to be the newest refuge for people who don’t want to start a blog. I started an account there a while ago and, one day, I may transition there as well.

For the observant, you’ll have noticed a bit of an identity crisis among my LJ, WordPress blog and DW accounts.

Many MANY years ago, when I first discovered the internet, no one used their real names. It just wasn’t done. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry the VIII, was the persona I chose to adopt. Over time, I established accounts on other social media under a less fanciful, but just as fictional, persona. I mention that because I didn’t/don’t always switch profiles when I comment and there have been puzzled reactions to some of my comments. Especially when sharing links back to my LJ. Which I don’t want to abandon for a variety of reasons.

I made this post because there have been a number of new people following my blog who might be interested in the recipes I’ve posted on LJ. Since they may not have the time or inclination to scroll back through those old posts to see what’s there, there’s an alternative. Pictures catch your attention and many of mine are collected at one location.

Fridgg is a picture sharing website with links back to the originating blogs posts made by the bloggers themselves. I prefer it to Pinterest because I can use it to contact like-minded bloggers who wish to share the highlights of their posts.

Lara Quinn … c’est moi (that’s ME)

I Love Reading

I was inspired to post this by something I read recently on my friend Spikegirl’s LJ. Although it may seem that all I do with my free time is cook … I DO other things.

Like reading.

I no longer buy books the way I used to but I enjoy rereading the ones I already have. If you wait long enough, it almost seems like you’re reading them for the first time.

I’ve posted this picture before. It’s many, though not, all of my books. I have no room for two of the free-standing book cases that used to stand side by side in our last place before we moved back into the city. They’re in the attic, and the books are now in boxes, bags and stacked on the floor.

I mostly read mysteries but sci-fi and fantasy novels are also a big part of my collection.

What kinds of books do you read?