Sunday, August 24, 2014

ROASTED PORK LOIN

This summer we got a new barbecue which has a rotisserie function.  With about 7 people coming over for supper we decided to try a pork loin on the rotisserie.  As the meat is very lean, I made a marinade.  The loin done on the rotisserie turned out really well and everyone enjoyed the meal.  Because the loin was so long, I cut it to make two smaller loins.  I thought it would be easier to cook and handle on the barbecue with smaller sizes.

Pork loins tied with kitchen cooking twine.

Loin put into bag for marinading. 

Loins placed on the skewer for the rotisserie.

The cooking has started.

The cooking is done.

Ready to be carved.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinade:

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce or Braggs soy seasoning
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

7 pounds pork loin
kitchen cooking twine
2 extra large zip lock bags

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the marinade in a medium size measuring cup.

Cut the pork loin in half.  Wrap cooking twine around the loin to secure its shape.  Place each of the loin into a zip lock bag and add half of the marinade to each mixture.  Close the bag and roll the marinade around the meat.   Store in the fridge for one to two hours.  Take the loin out every so often and roll the meat around in the bag.

Take the loin out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking to warm to room temperature.  Before cooking, take each loin out of the zip lock bag and dry it with paper towels to remove the excess moisture.

If cooking on the barbecue or in the oven, roast for 2.5 to 3 hours at 325 degrees F.  Serves a large crowd.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

GRILLED SALMON

When salmon is cooked on the barbecue, I think it can tastes much better than when I cook it in the oven.  I recently made this recipe for a Sunday supper and the taste was amazing.  Instead of cooking the whole skinless and boneless filet, I cut the raw salmon into chunks, marinated the chunks and then  I threaded them onto bamboo skewers.  When buying the salmon, choose a filet that is thick so that it can be threaded easier on the skewers.  I didn't take a photo of the cooked skewers as the photo wouldn't do justice to the taste of the cooked salmon.  Both the DH and I thought that this salmon was one of the better salmon dishes I have made.  Of course, the grilling by the DH on the barbecue added to the taste.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of skinless, boneless salmon filet, cut into about 2'' by 2''
1/4 cup soy sauce or temari sauce or Bragg soy seasoning
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
salt and pepper, optional
6 to 8 bamboo skewers

DIRECTIONS:

Add all of the ingredients, except the skewers, to a container with a lid or a zip lock bag.  Coat the salmon chunks with the marinade.  Place in the fridge for an hour.  During this hour, take out the container or bag and rotate the salmon so that the marinade is mixed around all of the salmon.

Fifteen minutes before you are ready to barbecue, soak the bamboo skewers in a pan of water.  Thread about three pieces of salmon onto each skewer leaving space between each piece of fish.

Barbecue for about 15 minutes, rotating the salmon skewer half way through the cooking time.  The barbecue time depends on your cooking heat.  The heat when the DH cooked these skewers was about 325 to 350 degrees F.  Serves 3 to 4.


Monday, August 11, 2014

STRAWBERRY PIE

On a recent Saturday morning we went to the farmer's market.  There are all sorts of stands, from vegetables, to fruit, to jams, to baking, to clothes and soaps.  After looking at all of the pies, the DH was debating on whether to buy a pie.  My inside voice was saying, geez, I can make a pie so I spoke up and volunteered to make one.  The DH wanted a strawberry pie and since we had strawberries in the fridge, this was a done deal.  In making the pie filling, I used 3 tablespoons of minute tapioca and I could have used 2 tablespoons since the berries were not overly juicy.  If the berries are juicy, then use 3 tablespoons.   I also like to use a deep pie dish.  The pie was delicious and the DH ate almost half the pie.  He also said that my pie was better than any of the pies he saw at the farmer's market.




INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:

Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or splenda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening  until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk together water, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and vinegar. 
Stir into flour mixture and knead dough briefly, just until smooth.  Divide the dough into two
and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling
out.  Pastry is easier to work with when chilled.  It can also be stored in refrigerator for up
to one week.

Makes two crusts.


Crust adapted from allrecipes.com

Pie Filling

4 heaping cups of hulled, chopped or thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar or splenda
2 tbsp minute tapioca
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the pie filling in a bowl and add to the pie shell with the rolled out bottom pie crust.  Place the top rolled out pie crust, cut the edges of the crust that hangs over, press down with your fingers or fork all along the rim of the pie plate and then using a fork, make a number of spears into the crust in order to let the steam out.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

NICKY'S LENTIL SOUP


A restaurant that I have gone to over the years is known for a few of their dishes including their lentil soup.  The owner, Nicky, even gives out the recipe.  He has nothing to hide.  I recently made lentil soup using his recipe and of course I tweaked it and modified a few of the ingredients.  I added a wedge of chopped cabbage to the soup.  Since I didn't have tomato juice in the cupboards, I pureed a few tomatoes to make juice.  I didn't add the bay leaves for any other reason than just not adding them.  I also used an electric pressure cooker to make the soup and set it at medium pressure for 16 minutes.  Since there is an abundance of parsley in the garden, I added about half of cup of fresh chopped parsley along with fresh dill.  Another variation that you could do is instead of adding the fresh cabbage, you could add some sauerkraut instead.

The soup turned out to be delicious and both the DH and I enjoyed it this past week.  There is still another serving or two in the fridge which I may freeze for future work lunches.


A bowl of lentil soup 


INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 wedge of cabbage, chopped (optional)
2 cups green lentils
1 large can diced or chopped tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice or 5 tomatoes pureed into juice
9 cups water or stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally.   Cook for an hour to 90 minutes, until the beans and vegetables are soft.  Serves 8.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FISH WITH HERB PESTO

The word pesto is derived from the Genoese word 'pesta' which means to pound and to crush.  This is likely because it was originally made with using a pestle and mortar to pound the ingredients.  The modern day pesto uses basil, oil, garlic, grated hard cheese such as parmesan and basil but depending on the region or country, not all use pine nuts.  Different regions or countries will use other herbs besides basil and may almonds or tomatoes in making the paste.  I don't think the original pesto was used for fish but was added to pasta.

I made this pesto using a combination of basil and parsley to accompany baked halibut.  I made more pesto than what was needed for a pound of fish.  I also didn't finely chop the pesto and make it really smooth.  It had some texture to it.  To make it smoother I would have had to add a little bit of water or olive oil.  I also did not add grated cheese to the recipe.  Adding a bit of cheese could have helped in making a smoother paste.

The pesto did add wonderful flavour to the halibut and both the DH and I enjoyed this dish.



Halibut with pesto.


INGREDIENTS:

1 pound halibut, cod or other fish fillet, cut into four pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Pesto

1/2 cup parsley, basil combo
3 tbsp dill
3 tbsp roasted almonds, whole or slivered
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Using a small blender, add the herbs and nuts.  Using the pulse feature, pulse a number of times to finely chop the mixture.  Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth or coarse if you want to have more texture.  If the pesto is too dry, add one tablespoon of water to make a smoother paste.  This makes more than what is required for the cooked halibut. Set the pesto aside in order to cook the fish.

Heat a non stick frying pan on medium high and add the oil.  Once hot, add the fish and salt and pepper to your taste.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about five to six minutes on each side to golden brown.  

Add a spoonful of pesto to the fish once it is plated.  Serves 3 to 4 depending on appetite. 




Saturday, July 19, 2014

THE DOG


My four legged companion Shane is turning nine this weekend.   Time has gone by quickly.  From getting him when he was a pup and lying on my lap in the car (I wasn't driving) going to his new home to the present day, a lot has happened.  He has been a busy fellow:

  • he has had some major surgeries, 
  • chewed a number of shoes, 
  • damaged some underground sprinkler lines in the background, 
  • pulled a toilet paper rod holder off the wall which resulted in patching a wall and repainting a bathroom,
  • chewed two seat belts in the back seat of a car,
  • rolled in some awful smelling stuff on a number of occasions, 
  • cools off in the fish pond in the backyard and disregards his own wading pool,  
  • has mastered the art of licking a bowl,
  • developed a fondness for ice cream, carrots, banana and peanut butter,
  • discovered how to pick cucumbers off of the vine and dig for carrots,
  • taking food off of the kitchen counter,
  • learned to supervise me while I prepare and cook meals,
  • took a number of obedience classes, 
  • attempted but never succeeded mastering agility competitions (too many distractions),
  • never met a ball he didn't like,
  • loves his morning walk, and
  • loves to grab socks, gloves or shoes and trot off with them.

All dogs are wonderful and I have never met a cat or dog owner who doesn't like to talk about their pet.  Lab retrievers never quite grow up and I reckon that he will have that teenager dog sense of play  until his dying days.  He is a very social dog and on our daily walks, has managed to suck up to several walkers, non dog owners, who have to stop to pet him, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is.  This can happen on a daily basis.  I like to call him the Johnny Carson on the walking path.  All he needs is a chair and couch and he could have a reality TV show.

I have posted some pictures to share of the one and only Shane.


























Sunday, July 6, 2014

EDAMAME SALAD WITH FRESH HERBS

I have a fair number of frozen packages of edamame beans which need to be used.  Edamame beans are also quite tasty and lend themselves to being added to salads, quinoa or couscous dishes or just eating them on their own.  The frozen beans I buy are still in the pod so I cook them for close to six minutes in the microwave and then let them cool.  Each frozen package has close to a cup of shelled beans.  I made this salad as I also had fresh green beans and lots of herbs in the garden.  The herbs add a delightful freshness to the salad and I used fresh dill, parsley and mint.  I used about 5 large mint leaves and it added a nice flavour.  You could add quinoa or couscous to this salad as an option.  I had about a quarter of a cup of cooked chick peas in the fridge which also got added to this salad.   It was a good way to use up this small amount of chick peas.  I have a collection of flavoured balsamic vinegars and olive oils.  But that is another story for another post.  I used lemon white balsamic vinegar in this salad.   If you don't have white balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic vinegar is fine to add.


INGREDIENTS:

1 cup shelled cooked edamame beans
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cups of cooked green beans, chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup of fresh herbs: parsley, dill and a few mint leaves
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Add all of the ingredients except for the oil and vinegar into a medium size bowl.  Mix well.  Add the vinegar and oil.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.  Serves 3- 4 depending on whether this is a side dish or part of your main meal.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

MUSHROOM POTATO SOUP

I had over two cups of sliced mushrooms in the fridge which needed to be used.  When grocery shopping I sometimes buy a big package of sliced mushrooms and they have a limited shelf life.  The package is usually fine for about a week in the fridge.  This soup is like a vegetable chowder but does have fewer vegetables, it is pureed, it does not include any thickener such as flour and it also includes adding a cup of milk when the cooking is complete.  As a meal, this soup would not be a complete meal for me as it is low in calories, carbs and protein.  I will include adding some form of protein to my meal when having this soup as part of lunch or supper.  The soup would also be good to have as a snack instead of fruit or an energy bar if you are looking for variety.  I used baby potatoes in the ingredients but you could use two regular size potatoes.  You could also add more potatoes than what I added.  I didn't add carrots and used zucchini instead.  I made the soup in an electric pressure cooker and set the timer for 14 minutes.


INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 plus cups of mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen niblets corn
10 small baby potatoes, chopped
7 to 8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup of milk
salt and pepper to taste
Mrs. Dash no salt vegetable seasoning, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, add all of the ingredients, except the milk, and heat to a boiling point.  Reduce the  heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour.  Turn the heat off and using an immersion blender, puree the soup.  Add the milk.  Serves 8.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

VEGETABLE SAUSAGE QUINOA SOUP


For the past three weeks I have been making versions of this soup each weekend.  It is vegetable soup with the addition of sausage and quinoa or rice.  I have used italian sausage or breakfast pork sausage in the versions I have made.  I prefer italian sausage as it has more flavour than pork sausage.  I use mild italian sausage but you may prefer to use hot or other varieties of sausage.   There are options you can use in what vegetables you want to use to make the soup.  I use a variety of vegetables and like a soup that is thick and has many kinds of vegetables.  You could include cauliflower, potatoes, turnip or cabbage as other choices.  I have been using quinoa or a blend of sprouted brown rice and quinoa that is made by truRoots.  I buy this package at Costco.  Instead of cooking the soup on the stove, I used an electric pressure cooker and cooked the soup on medium pressure for 16 minutes.  The soup will great for lunches this week for both the DH and I.

Ready to eat.
INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 to 3 small zucchinis, chopped
4 to 6 mushrooms, chopped
2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped
6 fresh or frozen skinned tomatoes, chopped
1/2 heaping cup of quinoa or sprouted rice quinoa blend
3 raw mild italian sausages, chopped into small chunks
10 cups of water or chicken bouillon
2 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
6 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash seasoning, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, add all of the ingredients.  Heat to a boiling point.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes.  Serves 10.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

TURKEY CHILI STEW

Even though it is late Spring, with the rain and cool temperatures, I was in the mood to make a chili.  My chili is sometimes a cross between a chili and a stew.  I like to add more vegetables than a typical bean and meat chili and I don't add a lot of heat in terms of spices.  I used extra lean ground turkey in this recipe but ground chicken or beef can also be used.  If you want a spicier chili, you can add chili pepper or hot peppers.  I also used a pressure cooker to make this dish.  The directions provided below are for stove top cooking.  I can sauté in the electric pressure cooker before using the pressure cooker function and followed the same directions and then set the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.  The DH said that the chili was very good.

Ready to eat!


INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp oil olive
1 medium to large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
2 small zucchini, medium to finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1.5 to 2 pounds ground lean turkey
1 large can of tomatoes or 6 frozen tomatoes
1/4 cup dry pearl barley
1 - 540 ml (19 ozs) canned white kidney beans
1 tsp herbes de provence
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

On medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic and celery for 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the coloured pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.  Add the ground turkey and continue to sauté for about 8 minutes.  The turkey needs to be broken up if it clumps into pieces that are too large.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat for an hour.  Stir occasionally.  Serves 6 to 7.