Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Three P’s (Pineapple, Pizza and Pork) … Pineapple Ice Cream Topping

The cold weather has returned to south-western Ontario, breaking the streak of above average temperatures we’ve been enjoying. Another reason to stay in and cook. This weekend I made sourdough thin crust pizza dough, roasted a boneless pork loin and then made a pineapple ice cream topping/sauce.

After opening up a can of crushed pineapple to make a Pineapple Margarita, I was left with the pineapple (~ 1 1/3 cup) and the remaining pineapple juice (~1/3 cup). I had thawed a boneless pork loin and considered making a marinade and/or basting sauce for the roast using the pineapple. However, I woke up late, and then spent an hour shoveling the wet snow that had started falling yesterday and continued sporadically until earlier this morning. By the time I staggered into house, too tired to do more than put one foot in front of the other, to make my first cup of instant coffee, I had to change my plans.

A single scoop of ice cream in ice cream pedestal bowl from the 70’s

Pineapple Ice Cream Topping – makes ~ 1 1/2 cups of topping

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 can crushed pineapple (~1 1/3 cups)
1 tsp unsalted butter

Drain the pineapple juice and reserve the crushed pineapple.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, syrup and pineapple juice to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer the contents for 5 minutes. Add the drained pineapple and the butter and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Pour the pineapple topping into a scrupulously clean 2 cup glass jar and seal. Listen for the seal on the lid to pop as it cools. Once the jar has reached room temperature, refrigerate. Good for 1-2 weeks.

 

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February and Love and Loss

February is the shortest and, arguably, the coldest month of the year. Although it is now associated with love and romance and Valentine’s Day, with its pink and red themed hearts, seen everywhere in the western world, in ancient Rome, it was originally located at the end of the year and associated with death and purification.

 

In fact, its name is derived from the Latin word ‘februum’ a thing used in ritual purification. Check out the preceding link for more interesting information.

And for a moving song about love and loss and renewal, listen to Josh Groban’s “February Song”.

For me, February is my birth month and, though I used to get quite excited at the thought of another birthday, the magic is pretty much gone as the aches and pains of growing older (and better … yeah, not so much) become more evident.

 

I thought I’d do something special for myself this year to celebrate. I haven’t decided on what it’s going to be yet. All the best to my fellow February-ites.

The Humble Baked Potato … Gets Dressed Up

The classic baked potato with sour cream and butter. Delicious. But it can be so much more.

Like twice baked potato skins. Which I’m going to make too. In the meantime, here are some other toppings for that baked potato.

Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potato – A simple bechamel (white sauce) becomes a mornay sauce when you stir cheese into it. Sharp/old cheddar cheese adds a nice punch but you can use whatever kind you prefer. Microwave some broccoli florettes just until tender, chop them up coarsely and then stir them into your cheese sauce.

The result … like having a bowl of cream of broccoli and potato  soup but with a lot more substance. Makes a tasty side dish to a pork chop or a piece of roasted chicken.

Dress up a pan of baked potatoes with various toppings for game day.

Chili Baked Potato – chili con carne, sour cream, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese, green onion

I was going to make and post each of the toppings below but I got distracted by other things so I’m sending this out into the LJ/blogging world. I may make and post pictures at some point … but I’m not making any promises.

Other Baked Potato Toppings

1. Pulled Pork – bbq sauce, shredded pulled pork, coleslaw, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions
2. Breakfast Sausage and Gravy – pork sausage gravy
3. Tex-Mex – spiced meat (ground beef or turkey) mixture, salsa, queso fresco (or paneer cheese)

Romanian Cozonac, Hungarian Kalacs/Beigli or Ukrainian Babka

Whether you call it cozonac, kalacs/beigli, or babka, this sweet bread filled with ground nuts (usually walnuts), poppy seeds, raisins or even rahat/lokum (a gummy middle eastern candy known in the west as ‘Turkish delight’) is served at Easter and Christmas in many eastern European countries. I can’t remember my mom ever making this though, knowing her difficulties with yeast based baking, it’s unlikely. However, I HAVE eaten it at Romanian and Hungarian church and community center bake sales.

Poppy seed isn’t a filling I’ve used often so I thought I’d give it a try for a change of pace. I bought a fresh, one pound bag at the grocery store, even though I’ve got a couple pounds, at least, in the freezer downstairs. I’m not quite sure how long it’s been there. Several years at least, I think, so I didn’t want to take a chance that the poppy seeds were stale.

I followed the shaping instructions on one of the web sites I researched which said to fold in the ends of the roll but I wasn’t happy with the ‘knobs’. Next time, I’ll risk the filling oozing out and leave them open.

The end piece … dough is nice and fluffy, or as they say in Romanian, pufos.

Cozonac cu Mac (Cozonac Filled with Poppy Seed) – 1.14 kg (2 1/2 lb) of dough, makes 2 11 by 14 inch rolls

For the Filling

200 gm ground poppy seeds
100 gm of sugar
150 ml of milk
1 tsp butter
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1 tbsp of lemon zest (reduce to 1 tsp)

For the Dough

4-5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk, warmed to 80 deg F
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 eggs, 1 egg divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp salt

NOTE (12/10/2017): used ~2 tsp grated lemon zest, increased butter to 4 tbsp, used close to 5 cups of flour

Making the Filling

Mix the ground poppy seeds, milk, butter and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until a creamy composition is obtained, about 5 min, while stirring constantly. Add vanilla and lemon peel and leave to cool.

Making the Dough

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cup of flour, warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Cover the mixture and place it in a warm place for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.

Separate ONE of the eggs, placing the white in a separate bowl and setting it aside. (White is whisked until frothy and used later to brush the bread before it goes into the oven.)

Once the flour and yeast mixture is nice and bubbly, mix in the 2 eggs and one egg yolk.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, the soft butter, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.

(Alternately, you can mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.)

Place the dough into a clean, well greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until it has roughly tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and roll out into a rectangle about 11 inches by 14 inches. Spread with half the poppy seed filling to 1/2 an inch from the edge.

Roll the dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough and filling.

Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of food wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Beat the reserved egg white and brush over each of the two loaves. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is golden brown. Check after 15-20 minutes and if the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking. Rotate the baking sheet half way through the bake.

Let cool completely before cutting.

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.

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

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 …

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?