Category Archives: lunch

Sourdough Bagels

My sourdough starter jar was getting a bit full (relatively speaking, as it was in a BIG jar, rather than my usual 2 cup one) so I had planned on refreshing the contents by making a batch of sourdough flour tortillas.

And then I was inspired by a themed post on a FB group I belong to to make sourdough bagels. After posting a request for a recommended recipe, I decided on the simplest of the bunch, which I actually found by net-surfing. And it only made eight bagels, which was perfect as my upstairs freezer is getting VERY full, again. I used up the last drop of starter in the jar (though I’ve got a couple of jars of dried starter in the pantry) so I won’t have to do weekly starter feedings for a while.

The results were very tasty, dense and chewy in texture. Breaking out the stand mixer to knead the dough was a smart idea as that’s a tough dough to knead by hand. And, although the bagels weren’t shaped as nicely as I’d hoped, none of them came undone during the boiling step even though I used the “sealed rope” method of shaping. The hydration of this dough meant that the two ends stuck together during the shaping, especially as I didn’t use additional flour when rolling out the dough into a rope.

Fried Egg, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Bagel Pizzas

Sourdough Bagel Pictorial

Dough was kneaded in a stand mixer for 10-15 min on medium speed, rested, shaped and proofed at room temperature for 3-4 hrs until puffy and then cold retarded for 4-8 hrs before being boiled and baked. The cold retarding develops flavour and lets the bagels harden enough to be easily picked up and transferred to their boiling water bath without deformation. (Especially if you don’t crowd your fridge and end up dropping a container on top of a couple of your bagels.)

Even though the bagels spread during refrigeration and I was sure I was going to end up with bagel pancakes, oven spring during the baking gave them a nice lift so they were plump and lovely.

Crumb – Sliced into while still warm, because who can resist a bagel fresh out of the oven? I know I can’t.

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Convenience Foods: Inari Sushi

Inari sushi are one of my favourite specialty sushi at the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants I frequent. If you’re watching your pocket book, however, they’re a snap to make at home with just a few ingredients. Traditionally filled with cooked and seasoned sushi rice, they may be served plain or topped with egg salad, tuna salad or a variety of other sushi fillings. I’ve also filled the tofu pockets with a somen noodle seafood mixture and with leftover Arborio seasoned Korean style (Yubu Chobap).

You can make your own fried and seasoned tofu pockets, but why bother, when you can buy a can of 16 half pockets for a fairly reasonable price (~$5 CDN, locally) and save yourself the mess? Leftover tofu pockets freeze well in the seasoning liquid once the can has been opened, so they’re practical for single diners.

Seasoned Fried Tofu Pockets

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi – makes 15-16 inari sushi

1 cup raw sushi rice, cook as per package instructions
4 lap cheong sausages
2-3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar to season the cooked sushi rice
1 can Hime brand inarizushi

Optional add-ins:
1/4 cup of finely cubed cooked carrot, thawed frozen peas or thawed corn kernels (omitted)
6-8 shiso leaves, julienned
a couple of sweet Japanese thin omelettes (usuyaki tamago), rolled and cut into 1/8 inch strips

Once cooked, you’ll have about 3 cups of rice, enough to fill 15-16 inari sushi. When cooking the sushi rice, lay the sausages over the top of the rice, cook, then remove the sausages and dice. Add the diced sausage to the cooked rice and cut in along with the rice vinegar.

For ease of stuffing the tofu pockets, use 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture, shape into an oval and insert it into the opened tofu pocket.

Convenience Foods: Buffalo Chicken Wings

Convenience foods are … convenient.

However, you have to factor in the price you’re paying for that convenience and decide if it’s worth the trade-off.

In this case, I picked up a package of prepared Buffalo chicken wings (hot sauce and Parmesan garlic sauce included) on sale and said ‘the heck with it’. Especially as raw chicken wings are rarely ‘on sale’ and even if they ARE, you still have to coat/bread, bake, make the sauces etc. At 4-6 whole wings (8-12 pieces) per serving size, the package barely serves two people as a meal, if that’s all you’re having, but I stretched things with a lot of raw veggies like carrot sticks and broccoli florettes. I used Ranch dressing as a dip for the veggies and saved the garlic sauce for another purpose. Instead of french fries as a starch side dish, I made crispy skin-on smashed potatoes.

And I feasted.

A more modest dessert of one of my Jammie Dodgers and my Sunday meal was a success.

Other convenience foods I buy and use are onion rings, tater tots and canned inari sushi. And if that last one seems a bit out of left field … well there’s a reason.

Later

Battered, Crumbed and Baked … Chicken Tenders

I’ve made these tenders before, but it’s been a while, and I don’t know that I put enough emphasis on the positive aspects of the technique involved.

The usual 3 dish (seasoned flour, beaten egg and seasoned bread crumbs) method for preparing these tenders/fingers, or even chicken cutlets, usually ends up with flour and beaten egg to discard. By combining the flour and egg (only ONE) into a single step, along with some flavourings, the wastage is minimized. You can easily batter up to one pound of chicken pieces in the batter. You may also reduce the crumb wastage by judicious addition of the crumbs over the top of your chicken pieces. Another feature of this technique is the addition of the mustard, for flavour, and the mayonnaise, for moisture retention. In the past, I’ve spread mayonnaise or Miracle Whip over the top of a skinless chicken breast and then dipped the breast into seasoned bread crumbs and baking. This is incorporated into the technique.

Battered, Crumbed and Baked Chicken Tenders – for 2

250 gm /1/2 lb chicken tenders or skinless and boned thighs, cut in half, try to get all your chicken about the same thickness
~ 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Batter – makes enough batter for 500 gm/1 lb of chicken tenders

1 egg
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard (or any other mustard of choice)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

oil spray or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 200C/390F, spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray or brush on a thin layer of vegetable oil. If using parchment paper, to reduce cleaning, you should still use the spray/oil as it will help promote browning.

In a metal pie tin, add your bread crumbs and set aside.

Place the batter ingredients in a medium sized, shallow bowl (a 1 lb margarine tub works for me) and whisk with a fork until combined.

Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, to the batter, using a fork to turn the chicken over to coat both sides, and letting the excess drip off. Transfer the chicken pieces, still using the fork, to the bread crumbs and shake the pie tin back and forth gently to help coat the bottom of the chicken with the crumbs. With clean dry fingers, sprinkle some of the bread crumbs over the top of the chicken pieces, then gently turn them over to make sure all sides are crumbed.

Place the crumbed chicken onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness. You may want to turn over the pieces about half way through the baking to get both sides crisped and slightly browned. Don’t bake too long or any thinner parts of the chicken will dry out.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce of your choice. ie honey mustard, ranch dressing or spicy Sriracha mayo.

Sriracha Mayo – serves 1

1 tbsp of your favourite mayonnaise
Sriracha, to taste

Since I’m cooking for one, I utilize whatever mixing vessels are available, nearby … usually in my draining board.

The price tag was to remind me that I bought 0.856 kg of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $10. The cutlets below served three and I have over a half kilogram chicken left.

Gyudon (Japanese Beef Rice Bowl)

A donburi is a delicious and easy-to-make bowl of sushi rice. There are a number of variations depending on the toppings.

I haven’t had the the beef version or ‘gyudon’ before but I had some leftover steak from my ‘shooter’s sandwich’ so I threw this together.

Gyudon (Japanese Beef Rice Bowl) – serves 1

Ingredients of the Dish

1 cup hot cooked sushi rice (unseasoned) or regular cooked rice
1 recipe for ‘simmering sauce’
2 oz/ 57 gm thinly sliced leftover steak
2 tbsp leftover onion/mushroom mixture, from the ‘Shooter’s Sandwich’**
poached egg (optional)
garnishes – thinly sliced green onion, toasted black or white sesame seeds

** In the absence of the onion/mushroom mixture, half and thinly slice 1/3-1/2 medium onion and poach in the simmering sauce until soft before adding the sliced steak to warm through.

Simmering Sauce

1/2 cup dashi stock (or 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp dashi powder, or 1/2 cup chicken stock)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar (brown sugar may be used)
1 tbsp sake (dry white wine may be used)
1/2 tsp wasabi paste (optional)

Simmer together in a small pan or wok.

Assembly/Serving the Rice Bowl

Add the hot cooked rice to a deep bowl.

To the pan of simmering sauce, add the steak and onion/mushroom mixture and stir through just long enough to warm the steak through. With a slotted spoon, transfer the steak and onion/mushroom mixture to the top of the hot rice, leaving behind the majority of the simmering sauce. You may poach the egg in the sauce, place it on top of the steak in the bowl and then spoon the sauce around the periphery of the bowl. Scatter the green onion and/or sesame seed garnish on top. Serve.

An alternative to poaching the egg is to lightly scramble it in a small bowl, and then add it to the simmering sauce in the wok. Stir the egg through the sauce just long enough to cook/poach the egg and then spoon the egg and the sauce around the periphery of the bowl. Garnish and serve.

Some more pretty pics of the Shooter’s Sandwich … next time, I’d put the mushroom underneath the steak to make cutting neater


One Pot – Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles

Cooking for one (or two) means you often have leftovers from things you’ve thawed. In this case, I had a cup or so of diced ham from a 2 cup bag I’d frozen for soup. (I used the other cup for a broccoli, cheddar cheese and ham quiche.)

I found an online ‘one dish’ recipe and scaled it down to suit the amounts I had. Although I halved all the other ingredients, I used the full 2 cups of chicken stock (1 1/2 cups of stock and 1/2 cup of water, works too) because I needed to have enough liquid to cover the noodles. The noodles were cooked in the pan and didn’t suffer taste-wise from the substitution. I also omitted the lemon juice because I was saving my lone lemon for something else. Instead of using half and half, I used 1/4 cup of whipping cream.

Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles Pot

The dish was quick to assemble and delicious and the leftover portion could be taken to work the next day for lunch or enjoyed for a repeat supper.

Sourdough Bread Bowls and a Shooter’s Sandwich

Warning: Another Picture Heavy Post

ETA (09/09/2018): Recipe for the Shooter’s Sandwich added

I rarely expend as much effort on a dish/recipe as I did for this glorified steak sandwich.

And, at the end, I didn’t USE the bun I had spent all that effort on.

The shooter’s sandwich is a relic of the shooting parties of the nobles and elite in Edwardian Great Britain, who would arrange to have the kitchen produce this sandwich to be tossed into their hunting bags, before they went out for a day of grouse shooting. The sandwich was wrapped in butcher’s paper and pressed so that the juices given off by the mushrooms and steak would permeate the hearty bun. Eaten at room temperature, it was an expensive dish if prepared with filet mignon. My steak choice was more modest. A blade steak cooked as quickly as possible in the hopes of not ending up with shoe leather.

And now the story behind the sandwich:

First, I had to research a recipe for an individual bun in which I could build the sandwich, since I knew that I was unlikely to find something suitable locally. And, once I decided on a sourdough bread bowl recipe, I had to make sourdough starter. Luckily, I had some dried sourdough starter in the pantry so I didn’t have to start from scratch. It took me two days but the result was a lovely bubbly and fragrant mixture. It took a third day to bake the buns.

Rehydrated Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with chili

Sourdough Bread Bowls – top and bottom scooped out

I ended up with extra starter (something sourdough bakers have to deal with) so I experimented with part of it. I repeated the KAF Italian bread recipe but substituted ~200 gm of my bubbly new starter in place of the ‘overnight starter’. I was torn between reducing the amount of commercial yeast used but decided to stick with the original recipe. A bad choice as it turned out. I over proofed the dough during the bulk proof stage. And during the final proofing stage. And my kneading/shaping probably needed work.

Hybrid (Sourdough Starter and Yeast) Buns

I SHOULD have increased the baking temperature although the buns looked fine when I pulled them out of the oven. And then, the next day, after making the sourdough buns, they looked  pale and anemic in comparison.

When I cut into the buns, I was pleased with the crumb.

I froze the other two hybrid buns I made, and used the one I had cut into for my steak sandwich … after I hollowed it out.

Bun, onion/mushroom mixture, French’s mustard (use Dijon or a coarse brown mustard) and blade steak. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the steak after it had been seared off

Wrap in plastic food wrap, press, cut and eat.

Hybrid Bun Shooter’s Sandwich – cut it in fourths for an appetizer

Shooter’s Sandwich – makes 3 sandwiches

Three  12 cm/ 4 1/2 inch sourdough bread bowls, top removed and contents removed leaving 10 cm/1/2 inch rim around the edge and on the base

500 gm/ 1 lb blade steak, seared or grilled to rare/medium-rare

Mushroom Mixture

1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
227 gm/ 1/2 lb mushrooms, finely diced
1/4 tsp Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

mustard, Dijon, coarse grained
horseradish (optional)

Making the mushroom mixture

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until the onion has softened and starts to get golden brown. Remove the onions to a small bowl and reserve. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute in the remaining butter until softened, slightly browned and fairly dry. Return the onions to the pan and sprinkle the Worchestershire sauce over the top, stirring into the onion/mushroom mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread some mustard over the base of the bread bowl. Divide the steak into thirds and fit tightly into the base. Spread some horseradish over the steak. Top with about 1/3 of the mushroom mixture and fit the lid of the bread bowl on top. Wrap the sandwich in a large sheet of plastic food wrap. Place the sandwich into a bowl. Place a flat plate on top and then a heavy weight on top. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into fourths and serve.

Repeat with the rest of the bread bowls and other ingredients.

Boneless Pork Loin

This is another reason that my freezer keeps filling up, in spite of my attempts to clean it out.

A local grocery store tempted me with a meat display refrigerator filled with vacuum packed boneless pork loins at a crazy cheap price. For $11 I brought home this vacuum packed beauty and stood there looking at it with a chef’s knife in hand. Oh, the possibilities.

In this picture, the ‘fatty’ end is on the right.

After cutting off and discarding the fat cap and removing as much silver skin as I could from the loin, I started at the ‘not so pretty’ fatty end and cut it off. I bagged and weighed it at about three pounds before freezing. I haven’t decided if I’m going to cut this piece into 2 1/2 inch wide strips to marinate for Chinese barbecued pork or turn it into pulled pork. Still, this left about two thirds of the loin to play with. I also removed the streaky ‘rib portion’ of the loin, about three finger widths in size, that you can see at the top of the picture above. It was set aside until I got to the end.

I moved to the other end of the loin and cut off two 1 1/4 inch portions for butterflying and then continued cutting until I got to a portion of the loin that transitioned in appearance between the pretty loin and the fatty end that I had already cut off. I ended up with a baker’s dozen (that’s thirteen, if you don’t know) 1/2 inch pork chops.

The rest of the pork, between the fatty end and the pretty loin end in appearance, along with the streaky ‘rib portion’ that I had set aside earlier, was cubed, bagged and frozen for pork stew. I ended up with a bit over one pound (500 gm) of meat.

Butterflied pork chops before and after pounding and after seasoning

Delicious meal of pan fried butterflied pork chops with mashed potatoes, pan gravy and raw broccoli florettes with ranch dressing

Pan-Seared Butterflied Pork Chops – serves 4

1 pound pork loin boneless center cut butterfly chops, fat trimmed and pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix together 3/4 tsp each salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, set aside.

Trim off any excess fat from the chops and rub the spice mix on each side.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron frying pan until it’s hot, then reduce heat to a bit under medium.

Carefully place the chops in the hot oil. Cook and brown approximately 1 minute per side.

When both sides are evenly browned, cut into the thickest part to make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Allow them to rest a minute or two then serve.

I used one of the boneless loin chops (about 2 oz each) to make two huge pork and shrimp udon noodle bowls.

Pork and Shrimp Udon Noodle Bowl – serves 2

2 x 2 oz pkgs uncooked udon noodles, or 100 gm dry spaghetti noodles
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups pork, ham, chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sake, dry sherry or dry white wine*
1 tsp honey
cooking spray or 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup sliced mushroom (~5-6 medium mushrooms)
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot (~1 small/medium carrot)
2 oz lean pork loin, thinly sliced
2-3 oz shrimp**
salt and white pepper, as needed
1/4 cup broccoli florettes, and a half dozen or so leaves for garnish
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

* I used the wine as I had an opened bottle in the fridge
** I used 6 large raw peeled shrimp

Cook noodles per package directions; drain and set aside.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and broth to a large saucepan; bring the broth to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes to flavour the broth.

Combine soy sauce, sake, and honey in a small bowl; stir and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray or a tsp of vegetable oil over med-high heat. Add in broccoli, mushrooms and carrots, stir/saute 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.

Add vegetable mixture to broth mixture. Stir in sliced pork, raw shrimp and broccoli leaves. Cook for 2 minutes or until the pork turns white and the shrimp turn pink. Taste the broth for seasoning level adding a bit more salt and some white pepper, if needed.

Divide cooked noodles among two bowls. Add half the soup mixture over each bowl of noodles.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: If, like me, you forgot to add the red pepper flakes to the broth, add some Sriracha sauce to your bowl of soup, stirring it into the broth.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Hash Brown Patties

During the summer, my monthly discretionary budget is pretty strict, but I recently had to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” due to some unexpected expenses. Which means that the pantry clear-out is even more important.

There was a large bag of frozen hash brown patties in the freezer with a paltry six patties left. What to do … what to do?

Bake the patties off first (20 min at 400 deg F) and then use your imagination.

If you’re cooking for a family of two to four, you can make all kinds of casserole dishes. Replace lasagna noodles with the patties for a potato lasagna and fill with sauteed veggies for a tasty Italian vegetarian option. However, the patties are also convenient for singles who don’t have a lot of time to whip up something filling.

I decided on Eggs Benedict (eggs are relatively cheap) on a potato patty with leftover Hollandaise. The sauce stands up to refrigeration far longer than the experts advise and with gentle reheating in the microwave just until you can spoon the sauce, you’ve got a great breakfast or lunch dish. Instead of ham, I used the last couple of slices of peameal bacon from the freezer. I had bought a peameal bacon roast on sale, a while ago, and sliced it myself into eight 3/8-1/2 inch slices and then portioned them for easy thawing, as needed.

Another option for the leftover Hollandaise: Add a couple of tablespoons of the cold Hollandaise to a serving of hot pasta. The heat of the pasta will melt the cold sauce creating a rich and creamy sauce. I like linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti.

The potato patties also make a tasty base for a pizza. I had some grated mozzarella cheese in the freezer and spooned on a couple of tablespoons of that spaghetti sauce that I got such a great deal on. A couple of fresh basil leaves from my sturdy Italian basil plant … and you’ve got a hash brown potato pizza Margherita.

Three patties down and three to go.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust and Herbs Inside and Out

Last year I was feeling a bit adventurous so, along with my usual purchase of a 20 kg bag of Canadian all purpose flour ($19.99 including tax), I came home with a 1 kg bag of imported Italian Tipo 00 flour (Camino brand, $2.99). This is a very finely milled wheat flour often used for pizza dough and pasta, in Italy. This particular bag is listed as being made from soft wheat flour, though that’s not necessarily the case with all Tipo 00 flours.

I decided that, at that price, it better make some pretty amazing pizza dough.

And I kept putting off trying it out.

Until NOW … mostly because I want pizza and I’ve got less than a cup of all purpose flour in the house, and no intention of replacing my stash until some time in August.

NOTE: I calculated the protein content (5 gm per 42 gm of flour) at 11.9% confirming, that in this case, it IS a low protein flour.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for one 12 inch pizza

250 gm Tipo 00 flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant/bread machine yeast
140 gm room temperature water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix through. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast, water and olive oil. Mix through with your finger tips until all the flour has been moistened and then gather together into a ball.

Transfer the ball of dough to a clean working surface and knead, without adding any additional flour, for 5 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another 3-5 minutes until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled medium sized bowl, turning the ball in the oil to lightly cover. Cover tightly with a sheet of food wrap and drape a towel over the bowl. Put the bowl of dough into a warm place and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Degas the dough and round up into a ball, cover with the food wrap and then the towel and let the dough rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450-500 deg F about an hour before you want to bake your pizza.

Prepare your pizza baking sheet by sprinkling ground cornmeal lightly over the top. Stretch the dough onto your baking sheet. Top and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, the cheese is nice and bubbly and the underside and crust is golden brown. Remove the pizza to a cooling rack and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting so that the cheese has a chance to set.

Trial 1: The dough weighed 403 gm and it took 13 1/2 minutes to bake the pizza. I estimate that the oven had only been at temp (500 deg F) for about 15-20 minutes. The next time, I’ll start preheating the oven as soon as the pizza dough is ready for its hour of rest instead of waiting half an hour.

Review: There were only a few big bubbles in the pizza crust but they WERE there. I have a couple ideas of ways in which to get more of those bubbles. The underside of the crust was crisp, relatively thin and golden brown and the pizza crust itself was nice and chewy. It’s a good pizza, similar in taste and texture to one available from a popular local pizza restaurant and delivery place. And a lot cheaper. I’d buy the flour again if it was a good price.

And, on a side note: I like using fresh herbs in my cooking but nurturing them is a chore.

Cause … I get bored.

And distracted … so I don’t use them at their peak. In any case, this is my current inventory of culinary herbs.

Inside

Italian Basil

Japanese shiso/ perilla (3 overcrowded pots) and a sad lavender plant

Outside

Mint and Thyme – with a couple of green onion bulbs that I transplanted after harvesting the tops a few times

Thai Basil and Sage