Thursday, July 30, 2009
For times like this it's always good to have some standbys that you know are easy and reliable. For me, these dishes typically involve pasta, anything with garlic bread, eggs and chicken parm.
Mmm...I can't put into words how much I love chicken parm. I don't even really like chicken but when they're thinly pounded, breaded and covered with cheese, de-lish! Not to mention that it goes well with pasta AND garlic bread. Heaven.
This recipe is pretty basic. The only things I would really emphasize are to use fresh breadcrumbs if you can (it really makes the texture a whole lot better than store-breaded chicken) and to properly season at every step. I should probably point out that I am a salt fiend and may have a tendency to overseason, but even if you use less salt and pepper than I do I would still recommend that you make sure your chicken, egg and breadcrumb mixture is all seasoned. That way you won't get any bland bites. Also, the sauce isn't really anything special - just your standard tomato sauce using whole canned tomatoes, but it's nice and fairly tomato-y which works for me!
Oh, and I used a cup of cornflake crumbs because for some reason we have some kicking around the kitchen and have been adding them to everything. They were actually really good and added a nice extra crunch to the chicken, so I'm keeping it in the recipe.
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat some olive oil in a medium-sized pot and add onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. You don't want the onions or garlic to burn so make sure the heat isn't up too high.
2. Add tomatoes and give it a stir. Add herbs and let simmer for awhile. If you have a couple of hours, great but most of the time I do this for about 20 minutes to a half hour (I am clearly not claiming that this is an "authentic" tomato sauce by any means, but it's simple and tastes pretty good!). Add tomato paste to desired texture, depending on how thick you like your sauce (this will also vary based on how long you cook the sauce for)
4 chicken breasts
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)
1 cup crushed cornflakes (or just more breadcrumbs)
1 cup grated parmesan
4 tsp black pepper
3 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
cheese (I used havarti, you can really use any cheese you want)
1. Flatten chicken - Using a meat tenderizer or mallet (I use a rolling pin and cover the chicken with plastic wrap), flatten chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness. Depending on how large the breasts are, I also sometimes cut the breasts in half first.
2. Combine egg and milk in a shallow dish, beating lightly with a fork. Add salt and pepper to season. Combine breadcrumb mixture in another shallow dish.
3. Dip chicken breasts in egg mixure and coat with breadcrumbs.
4. Heat a large frying pan to medium heat and add some canola oil. Once heated through, fry chicken breasts for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. If you're worried about the chicken cooking through, cover with a lid while it's cooking. I don't generally find this a problem since the chicken has been pounded down.
5. Cover with cheese and cook under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Serve with tomato sauce and pasta, if that's what you're doing.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
3 cobs fresh corn, hulled (cobs reserved)
1 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
(you can substitute canned creamed corn here as a shortcut. I'm going to guess this is about one large 19 ounce can of creamed corn)
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp water
1 egg, lightly beaten
sesame oil (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Make the creamed corn - combine corn, water, corn starch, sugar and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until corn kernels are soft and plump. At this point you want to break up the corn kernels a bit. I used a hand blender lightly, you could use a stand blender or even just mash with a potato masher or ricer.
2. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes. If you used fresh corn, add the corn cobs to add some more flavour.
4. Reduce soup to a simmer, and add egg mixture. Wait a minute for the egg to cook slightly and give it a stir. And done.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
1 cup bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
5. Let the dough rise in a dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with oil. Lightly oil the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Friday, July 17, 2009
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk*
1 corn cob, hulled (you can also use frozen or canned corn here - it should be about a cup)
*I never actually keep buttermilk in the house, so to substitute, combine 1 tbsp of white vinegar and enough milk to make one cup and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
1. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugars, salt and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Whisk together butter, egg and buttermilk. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until just combined.
3. Add in corn kernels
4. Drop by spoonful into a greased muffin tin, about 3/4 full. This will make enough for a dozen.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Summer Shrimp Quinoa Salad
2 cups frozen edamame beans
1/2 cup canned or fresh pineapple tidbits
2 stalks green onions
salt and pepper to taste
sesame seeds, for garnish
1 tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Adam and I went to a barbeque at a friend's yesterday and I decided, in trying to break away from that Taco Dip rut, I would try something new - Potato Salad. I had seen a pretty tasty looking one on Pioneer Woman last week so I thought I would adapt that one. The particular recipe involved ricing the potatoes rather than using chunks. This seemed odd to me so I just chopped up the potatoes*. I also decided to add some apples and corn, and lemon to lighten up the flavour a tad, but not too much so as to take away from the base recipe and that fact that this WAS supposed to be potato salad, after all.
So I made this salad. And it was good - but not great. It definitely wasn't the best thing I've ever made. But, and this is the lesson here - there were so many things about it that were great, and it turned out that those things were the additions that I was hesitant to add too much of in the first place.
First off, the apples. This may sound disgusting, but when I was younger my mom would serve apple chunks slathered in mayo as a "salad". My dad loved it, and to be honest I did too. And though I may no longer eat this "salad" I thought it was perfectly acceptable to add apples to this one, and it was delicious!
And...the corn. Oh God the CORN. Just as a bit of background information, corn in general is one of my favourite foods. I love it in pretty much any form - out of the can, frozen, fresh corn on the cob. I'll add it to pretty much anything - salads, quesadillas, turkey sandwiches, or eat it mixed with mashed potatoes. It's even good on pizza, or omelettes. Anyway, I digress. Even with my lifelong love of corn, I've never, for some reason, cut corn off the. cob for other uses before. Maybe the frozen and canned versions were just too convenient, or cutting corn off the cob seemed too difficult. Either way, I had a couple of fresh corn cobs lying around so I figured I would try it (I won't lie - this was motivating. The directions in here are very helpful as well, so if you're going to try this at home follow these instructions!). And it's actually sad how happy it made me. The corn tasted SO MUCH BETTER than the other stuff. And cutting corn off the cob was so much easier than I expected, even possibly FUN (okay, I realized I sound like the world's biggest dork now, but whatever).
So anyway...I think that what I'm trying to say, is that sometimes it's okay to adapt a recipe to the point that it's a brand new dish. In this case, the next time I make this, it won't really be a "potato salad" as it will have quite a bit more of the apples and corn. I'm not really sure what it will be, per se. But that's okay. It will be delicious because there are delicious things in it, and it will be something totally new. And maybe no one else will want to eat it because I've overloaded on my favourite things and no one else's, but that's okay too - all the more for me.
*Although I've never made potato salad using riced/mashed potatoes before, I can see the appeal of it. This salad in particular seemed a bit bland, and I think largely because the potato chunks themselves had no flavour. I'm not sure if this could be improved by adding more salt to the water while the potatoes are boiling, but I do think that this is partly the reason for the ricing. The small pieces of potato you have, the more room there is to impart seasonings and flavour, and for the dressing to seep into every crevice. Regardless, I do like some chunks so I'll probably try ricing half the potatoes and using chunks for the other half next time.
3 medium russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
2 small macintosh apples, washed, peeled and cubed
3 stalks green onion
1 cob corn
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsbp yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1. Hard boil eggs - put eggs in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Remove eggs and chill in ice water bath until cool.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil - add potatoes and corn.
3. After 3 minutes, remove corn and chill in ice water bath to stop the cooking. Once corn is cool, hull corn off the cob using a sharp knife. Use the dull edge of the knife to rub off the rest of the corn nubs as well. You can use Ree's step-by-step instructions from this recipe here.
4. While potatoes are cooking, cut up green onion and apples and chop up dill.
5. Peel and roughly chop hard boiled eggs
6. Mix mayo and mustard together
7. Once potatoes are fork-tender, drain and add to a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, green onion, apples, corn and dill. Add in mayo-mustard mixture and squeeze in juice of half a lemon. Add salt and pepper and mix to combine. Season to taste as needed.
The problem with Korean food is that, unlike North American (or any other) cuisine, I can't just search for recipes online that seem to fit what I'm looking for. I need it to taste like what MOM made, so for that I need to go to the source. And since my mom (and I think this is the case with a lot of moms, or grandmothers that have been cooking for a long time) doesn't exactly write her recipes down, it's all about learning the techniques involved, or just how to eyeball the right amount of ingredients. For this reason I've started with the simplest recipes that a fairly small number of ingredients, to lessen the chance of messing up.
Hobak Jeon, or Korean Zucchini Pancakes, is one of the many popular street foods in Korea. There are only 5 ingredients involved and it's all about judging how much water to use - you want it to be fairly runny, not like a regular pancake batter at all (I'll admit - I DID try making these myself once previously using an online recipe. The pancakes were way too thick and puffy from not enough water in the batter) They don't taste anything like a North American pancake either - savoury and crispy, these are a tasty snack that is usually enjoyed with soy sauce.
Hobak Jeon (Korean Zucchini Pancakes)
1 cup flour
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1. Slice up zucchini into thin discs (the thinner the better!) and then slice the discs into thin strips. I admit, this takes awhile. You could probably use some sort of machine for this that I don't own.
2. Make the batter - Dump flour, salt and the egg into a medium sized bowl. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Continue adding water until you get a runny batter - how runny, it's hard to say. I can't think of a good comparison - like syrup? Or something like that. Add the zucchini and mix in.
3. Heat up your skillet or frying pan to medium heat with a good glug of canola oil. (My mom really emphasized that you should make sure you have enough oil to cover the pancake once you flip it as well) You don't want the heat to be too high or the pancakes will burn before cooking through the zucchini.
4. Using a ladle, pour in some batter. Make sure it's not too thick (the runniness will help with this). Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip over and continue cooking until both sides are browned and crispy. Cut into wedges and eat with soy sauce.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I also decided to try a (sort of) new pie crust recipe. I've been reading Ratio by Michael Ruhlman which is all about cooking with ratios rather than measurements, and focuses on the basic ingredients that you need to make something. In the case of pie, they are flour, fat and water. The recipe I normally use involves egg and vinegar, but I've been thinking lately that my pie crusts have been a bit too "puffy" and the egg probably has something to do with it. So I figured I would try it with just the basics and just a dash of sugar to sweeten it a tad.
And the result? Man was this good. Tart and sweet, with a wonderfully flaky crust. I forgot just HOW good strawberries and rhubarb are together. There was just the right amount of fruit chunks and slightly thickened syrup. I barely even noticed the Splenda, which when executed badly can totally kill a dessert for me (I have an unnatural aversion to artificial sweeteners).
So in short...I will be making this pie again before strawberry season is over. You should too.
from Bon Appetit via smittenkitchen
3 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
3 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda so that my dad could have a slice)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1. Cut out butter and shortening amounts, and freeze for about 1/2 hour Making sure the ingredients are cold is incredibly important when making pie crust. I try to store the tools I'm going to be using in the freezer while my butter and shortening are in there as well to keep everything cool.
2. Measure out flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl
3. Cut in (or grate in) butter and shortening into the flour
4. Add water a couple tablespoons at a time, until flour mixture starts to clump together. Form a ball with your hands (be careful not to overwork the dough or it will end up tough)
5. Divide into two discs, wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until ready to use (you can do this a day or so in advance as well)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit
6. Combine filling ingredients together in a bowl.
7. Roll out bottom of pie crust until it's about 1 inch wider than your pie plate and transfer to pie plate
8. Spoon in filing
9. Roll out second crust. Slice into 1/2 inch strips and weave into a lattice pattern on top of pie. Trim edges with a bit of overhang and fold up so that your strips stay in place. Crimp edges if desired (I usually do, mostly because I find that my crust doesn't really "stay" in place if i don't).
10. Bake for about 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until edges are golden and filling is bubbling (This particular recipe said to bake for almost 2 hours. I only baked for about an hour)
Random Pie Crust Tips:
1. Use plenty of flour
2. Turn the dough at a 90 degree angle once or twice to make sure your dough isn't sticking to your surface
3. Don't freak out - it will get easier every time you make a pie
4. When you're ready to transfer the bottom crust to your pie plate, fold into quarters and place in your pie plate so that the bottom point is in the middle, and unfold
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Yes. TACO. DIP. That fattening but disturbingly addictive layered dip that was probably at the last barbeque you attended. You can likely name at least five people that make on a semi-regular basis. It's not particularly original, and definitely isn't classy. But I've been asked to make it so many times I can't even count, and have been told more than once that it's better than the other taco dips. So as much as I'm almost ashamed to admit, this is my signature dish. At least during barbeque season anyway.
This might sound really obvious, but the "secret" to my taco dip is the guacamole. For some reason most taco dip recipes out there don't include guac, but it really makes all the difference. I make a homemade, chunky guac for this layer and I swear that the amount of compliments I get on my taco dip has a direct relationship to the amount of guac in it. Just trust me on this.
1 8oz block of light cream cheese, softened (I don't normally use light or low-fat products, but since the dip itself is so heavy and people have a tendency to eat a LOT of it I figure it's probably for the best)
1 250ml container of light sour cream (see above)
1 packet taco seasoning (I use the reduced salt kind)
1 small jar of mild or medium salsa
1-2 tomatoes, diced
Guacamole (see recipe below)
Cheese (not really sure how much...1 or two cups. Enough to cover your casserole dish)
Casserole dish...a 3 quart container in any shape should do it. Preferably glass so that you can see the layers. Or you can halve the recipe and use a smaller container. This makes a lot of taco dip.
1. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and kind of "cut" it with a fork. Start mixing small amounts of sour cream, using the fork to blend the two. This makes it easier to blend the two smoothly vs. just having sour cream with clumps of cream cheese floating around. Keep doing this until you've added all the sour cream and then mix in the taco seasoning until smooth and spread over the bottom of your dish.
2. Layer salsa. If you're using a glass dish and want the layers to show, start at the edges and work your way in with each layer.
3. Layer diced tomatoes, then guac as above.
4. Sprinkle the entire thing with cheese, enough to cover.
5. Cover with saran wrap (or a lid) and refrigerate until ready to eat. Either way, its best after it's been in the fridge for about an hour or so after the bottom layer has had a chance to firm up again.
1 shallot, finely diced (I only use about half of it)
Salt and pepper
1. Pit and scoop out the insides of avocados into a small bowl. Add shallots and the juice of 1/2 or whole lemon (depends on how lemony you like it) and season with salt and pepper
2. Run a knife through the bowl a few times until you get the chunkiness that you like. I make my guac pretty chunky, as you probably know so you can use a fork or something if you like it smoother
Thursday, July 2, 2009
So I've been thinking for awhile that I should try and set some cooking-related "goals" for myself with a deadline, as I have a tendency to get lazy and be all "Oh I'll cook that sometime..." and then never get around to it. Case in point: I've been talking about pies for probably three weeks now. I keep saying that I'm going to make pie "this" weekend and then something comes up. Though seriously...I swear I AM going to make pie this weekend! Anyway, with the beginning of a new month, it seems like the perfect time to make a to-cook list.
Note: Although I was originally planning on keeping this list limited to things that I've never made before, there are dishes that I don't make often enough (like pie) or have only made a few times but are SO good (like baked beans) that I'm also going to include.
To-Cook List for July
Homemade Pasta (not really sure what kind yet...I wanted to try gnocchi but as I've never tried making pasta before it might not be the best place to start)
That's all I have for now. I am realizing as I read this back that this is a really carb-heavy list. Unfortunately, this will probably be a pattern as I don't tend to think "now I REALLY want to try that amazing looking salad recipe I saw awhile back". Also as it's summer and have been re-reading a lot of the Little House series lately, I seem to be gravitating towards comfort-style picnic food. I'll cross these off as I go and we'll see how far I get by the end of the month. I'm going to try and do this on a monthly basis. Also if you have any suggestions on things to try please let me know in the comments :)