Category Archives: mains

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.)

Advertisements

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

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

Bakudan Onigiri (Bomb Rice Balls)

ETA (08/23/2017) : Some additional notes on onigiri ideas added to bottom of post.

In these last couple of weeks, before school starts again, I’ve been in a frenzy of cooking.

I broke open the one kilo bag of frozen raw shrimp, from Costco, and made two different pasta dishes (I’ll post a picture of the second one soon) with home made semolina pasta. Sales on fresh fruit meant that I finally made another batch of raspberry curd so I could take some pictures. It’s hard to believe the last time I made raspberry curd was before I owned a camera. I made red chile pulled pork for tamales … and then changed my mind and made a vegetarian filling instead and froze away the rest of the pork.

The nigiri in this post had been planned for on the same weekend that I did the last bbq. In fact, I was going to grill a foil wrapped package of teriyaki basted salmon belly meat on the grill, for the onigiri, at the same time. And then I forgot the salmon in the fridge. So I had to bake it off in the oven. Instead of shaping the onigiri into the most commonly seen triangles, I made rice balls or ‘bombs’.

Bakudan Onigiri Platter

Two different ways of serving the rice balls

Instead of stuffing the salmon, or other seasoning, in the middle of the balls, it was stirred into half of the hot rice. Wrapping the rice balls in a half sheet of nori keeps it moist longer. For including in your bento/lunch bag, wrap the rice ball up tightly in food/saran wrap. Biting into the neat package can be a wonderful surprise if you’ve made an assortment.

And for something even simpler, a couple of tablespoons of furikake (rice seasoning or topping) were stirring into the other half of the rice.

Making the Rice Balls:

1 cup of raw sushi rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp of salt
6-8 half sheets of nori
90-100 gm cooked salmon, flaked for ver. 1
2 large shiso leaves, julienned for ver. 1
2 tbsp furikake (rice seasoning) for ver. 2

Garnishes (optional)
tobiko (fish roe)
bonito flakes, moistened with some soy sauce

The cooked rice was divided into two halves and the salmon (and julienned shiso leaves) and furikake were stirred into each respective portion. The salmon portion was divided into 4 larger rice balls as the salmon added a lot of bulk, while the furikake half only made 3 somewhat smaller rice balls.

Various Types of Onigiri/Omosubi

1. Filled onigiri

fish – salmon (sake), tuna, shaved bonito moistened with soy sauce (okaka), shrimp
umeboshi (pickled plums)
tempura shrimp
tsukudani style kombu (sheets cooked with soy sauce and mirin until tender, shredded and tucked into rice ball)
meat – Japanese friend chicken (karaage) or regular friend chicken ***
miso glazed baked eggplant
fish roe – tobiko (flying fish), tarako (salted sac of cod roe) and mentaiko (spicy sac of cod roe), ikura salmon

*** very perishable, transport refrigerated or on ice packs

2. Mixed rice

sushi and brown rice

3. Seasoned

a) Stir the flavourings into the rice after it is cooked
furikake (nori seaweed and egg, ume (pickled plum), shiso, shrimp, and dried fish)
shredded baked, fried or smoked fish
veggies ie sauteed onion, shaved carrot, edamame, green onion
sesame seeds
pickled ginger

b) Cook along with the rice
julienned gobo (Japanese root vegetable)
peas
hijiki (Japanese dried seaweed)
julienned carrot
dashi kombu/soy sauce/sake/sugar

4. Shaped

triangular (traditional)
bakudan (bomb)
hockey puck – dimple and fill then serve filling side up
cylinder shape or tawara (bale of hay)

5. Grilled (Yaki) – brushed and grilled ** Usually NOT filled

soy sauce
miso butter

6. Wrapped

nori is traditional
takana mustard greens
ooba leaf
tororo kombu kelp
salted lettuce
salted green shiso
parcooked bacon and then grilled

7. Coating

furikake
sesame seeds or salted sesame seeds (black is more striking)
ground shiso leaves

8. Onigirazu

Tamales – Black Bean & Sweet Potato and Red Pulled Pork … and a BBQ Pizza

I haven’t made tamales in some time but a craving, a trip to the local Mexican grocery store for various types of chiles, and the timely sale of boneless pork loin, meant that I decided to invest a hot weekend in the second half of August (and an efficient A/C system), on making a batch of red pulled pork. The vegetarian option came about due to a large sweet potato that had been languishing in my basement for a couple of weeks and most of a can of black beans in the freezer.

The basic masa recipe can be found here. The red pulled pork recipe is here.

  

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Filling

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamale Filling – makes about 5 cups, enough for 24-28 tamales

a splash to 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large tomato, peeled and seeded and coarsely chopped or 1 cup diced, canned tomatoes with juice**
1/2 onion, finely diced or 1/2 tsp dried minced onion**
1 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
1 cup corn kernels, thawed and drained if frozen
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced into ~1/2 inch cubes, drizzled with oil, salt and some chili powder and roasted until tender
salt, to taste

Optional
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese (separately or in any combination desired)

** I added canned tomatoes and the dried minced onion as that’s what I had. I had made red pulled pork the day before with pureed chiles, onion and pepper and after straining the braising liquid, I added a couple of tablespoons to the filling below. Chile powder or cumin may be added if desired for a bit of smoky flavour.

In a medium sized saute pan, over medium heat, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and the diced onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the diced tomato and cook for 10-15 minutes until the tomato has broken down but the mixture still has a bit of moisture in it. (If using the dried minced onion, just add a splash of oil, your diced tomato and cook until the onion is rehydrated.)

Add the black beans, corn and sweet potato. Stir through to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add a bit more salt if needed.

And if you have leftover pulled pork, give this quick pizza try.

BBQ Pizza with Red Pulled Pork (on Sourdough Tortillas) – BBQ sauce, shredded pork, grated cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese and sliced green onion on a sourdough tortilla. Baked at 400 deg F for 8-10 minutes.

 

Pesto Goes East – Shiso Pesto

My surviving green shiso plant (the red leaf plant died seedless) flowered and I made the mistake of NOT saving any of the seeds for the spring but shook them all into one pot. Long story short, I ended up with four crowded pots of shiso plants. The plants are leggy with huge leaves that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. So I went net surfing and ran across a genius idea on “Summer Tomato” … treat the shiso leaves like you would those from basil or mint plants and make pesto.

Creamy Pesto Shrimp Alfredo over Home Made Fettuccine Pasta

Instead of Parmesan cheese, the blogger suggested miso for its salty umami flavour. I used red miso, cause I had run out of the white, and instead of pistachio nuts, I used equal parts of pine nuts and roasted, salted sunflower seeds.

Creamy Pesto Alfredo Shrimp over Fettuccine – serves 2

150 gm fresh fettuccine pasta

8-10 raw large shrimp, seasoned with salt, white pepper and garlic powder

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oi
3 tbsp pesto (basil or shiso)
6 tbsp whipping cream
salt, to taste

Fresh pasta cooked for 2 1/2 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drained, rinsed with cold water.

In a large saute pan, heat up the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Cook the shrimp until pink on both sides and starting to curl up. Remove to a small bowl.

Add the whipping cream and pesto to the same saute pan that you cooked the shrimp in. Simmer for a couple of minutes, add drained pasta and stir through. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Serve immediately with shrimp on top.

Seeing if I can root some miso cuttings on a sunny kitchen window. (PS: I have long roots now … I should really plant them. But WHERE?)

Mexican Street Corn and another try at Mititei/Mici

I set aside a couple of the grilled corn on the cob from last week’s barbecue and finally got around to making the dish I had planned … Mexican Street Corn.

It’s a remarkably easy dish which can add flavour and moisture even to corn that’s no longer at its peak in terms of flavour and texture because it’s been sitting in your fridge for a day or three longer that it should have. Incidentally, the result tasted SO good, I wish I had more grilled corn available.

Mexican Street Corn – serves 2

2 grilled corn on the cob
1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp fresh herb or herb mixture (cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint**), julienned
1/2 – 1 tsp lime zest
several shakes each smoked or regular paprika and cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes
1-2 tbsp grated cheese (manchego, asiago, Parmesan, Romano**)
1 tbsp sliced green onion
paprika, to taste
lime wedges

** I used mint leaves and the Romano cheese

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, paprika, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs and lime zest, stir and refrigerate covered for at least one hour to allow the flavours to meld together.

Brush the mixture on all sides of the warm corn on the cob. A silicone pastry brush will help to load the thick mixture onto the corn and help spread it out.

Sprinkle on the cheese, green onion and more paprika to taste. Squeeze the lime wedge over your corn just before eating.

This is my second attempt at making these skinless Romanian sausages called “mititei” or “mici”. (The Serbian version is called “cevapcici” or “cevapi” and uses equal parts ground beef and pork.)

I used a package seasoning mix which contained: garlic powder, salt, onion powder, summer savory, MSG, ground black pepper, ground coriander, bicarbonate of soda, ground caraway seeds as well as a bunch of preservatives.

As suggested on the package, I added the contents to 1 kg of ground beef along with 50 mls of cold water, and hand mixed it for about 10 minutes, though 15 minutes might have been better, but I got bored. If you have a stand blender with a dough hook, it will save you both time and effort. I portioned the meat into 50 gm amounts and then shaped it into 3 inch sausages using wet hands.

Grilling on the barbecue would have been the best way to cook the sausages but I didn’t want to fire it up, so it preheated a cast iron frying pan to med-hot, seasoned with about a tbsp of vegetable oil. I browned the sausages on all sides and then finished the sausages in a 375 deg F oven for 15 minutes. I think 10 minutes would have been plenty as a lot of liquid came out and the resulting sausages were drier than I would have liked.

Served with salad as part of a meal or as a snack with mustard or tzatziki sauce on tortilla wraps, they were very tasty but I know the next trial, with my own seasoning mixture, will be even better.

Pie … Sweet or Savoury

I haven’t made a pie in ages but the various flyer sales for stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums) tempted me and so I scoped out what was available. I ended up going to Food Basic and picking up a clamshell of nectarines cause I had a bad experience with last year’s basket of peaches. They were firm but not as sweet as I would have liked and I had to guess-timate how much sugar to add. I erred on the side of caution. With a scoop of ice cream the result was perfect but it was a bit tart on its own.

The next question was … which of several pie crust recipes should I use. I went with the one on the Crisco vegetable shortening package, though I replaced half the shortening with unsalted butter. The recipe makes enough pastry for a single double crust pie, but I made two minis in disposable aluminum pie tins instead.

Crisco Pie Crust Recipe – makes 1 double crust pastry, ~580 gm pastry, enough for 2 8″ bases, and 2 6 1/2″ tops, plus leftover pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)**
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

** What I used this time

 

Nectarine/Peach Mini Pie Filling Recipe – rough formula for filling

2 – 2 1/2 nectarines per mini pie shell
1 tbsp sugar per nectarine (if the fruit is fully sweet, reduce to 2 tbsp per each 3 nectarines)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch** per nectarine
pinch of salt

** If planning to freeze baked tart, use flour, otherwise, use cornstarch. For every 1 tbsp of cornstarch, you’ll need to use about 3 tbsp of flour. Also, cook whatever you’re thickening a few minutes longer to get rid of the raw flavor of the flour. Baking should take care of that issue. Plus, the filling will be more matte than glossy when using flour.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bake pies for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet in case of overflow or melting of butter

The remaining pastry became a savoury tart with broccoli, Canadian (peameal) bacon and cheddar cheese. No waste at all. Though I still have five nectarines in the fridge to deal with.

NOTE: For a filling recipe, I used the same amounts and timing as in an earlier quiche recipe baked in the same ceramic pan. Pre-baking the crust is advised.

PICSPAM: Last BBQ of the Season

I love the taste of bbq’d foods but only bbq’ing a few things at a time seems wasteful to my frugal nature. So I make it worth my while with enough meat and veg for a week’s worth of meals.

I recently saw a post for Mexican market corn which made my mouth water, so I picked up a half dozen corn on the cob on sale to throw on the grill and make a batch. At 6 for $1.99, it wasn’t the best deal ever but I didn’t quibble. I didn’t quite have the energy to make them today, but there are two cobs set aside for it. The other three will probably end up in a corn chowder.

The full spread.

Here’s a picture of today’s Civic Holiday meal.

And some close-ups … sirloin steak and a sweet potato

Sweet corn on the cob and pork chops

Jumbo hot dogs