27 September 2010

Good but surely not fast

It's been a while since I've had the time to make anything in the kitchen. Eating out has it's high points but I miss the home cooking. I took a quick jaunt to the grocery store at lunch today and there was ground turkey on sale. So I bought some and the ideas for dinner started percolating. At home were still the remainders of our last food box (didn't get one this week because we just couldn't make it to the farm to pick it up) that included some corn and carrots. Also in the house were potatoes, onions. Hmm . . . sounds like the fixings for a cottage pie, or is that a shepherd's pie.

Turkey cottage pie (4-5 servings)
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (I cut 'em off the cob but you can use frozen)
  • 2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • splosh of milk
  • 2 oz of cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
Peel and cut the potato into 1/2-inch squares and boil until soft. Once ready, drain water and add milk, cheese, and salt & pepper and make a lovely bit of mash.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Chop the remaining vegetables up quite finely. Saute onion and carrot in olive oil. Add turkey and brown. Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add peas and corn along with the worchestershire sauce, thyme, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Let it all simmer away for about 10 or so minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add a bit more stock if it boils away. Add the flour and stir to thicken the mixture.

Put the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish that's been sprayed with a bit of cooking spray. Cover the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes and make a groovy little design in it with a fork. Cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the peaks you've made in the mash turn golden brown.

Eat it up!

26 September 2010

Powered by smoothies

Well it's been a bit busy so not had much time for blogging (or cooking much) lately. The busy-ness quotient doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon either but hopefully HOT will not suffer too much!

Today was a big day in our house. J ran her first half marathon and it was quite a success with her finishing a few minutes under her goal time. Three cheers for the first person in my family who has ever accomplished such a feat.

Keen to have me involved . . . or to motivate by butt or whatever . . . J signed me up to do the 5K that was also part of the running festivities on Toronto's waterfront today. I did get out there and motored through it (walking with great vigour rather than running - except for that exciting last 100 metres where I turned on the running jets).

Well after dropping J off at 6 a.m. or so this morning, I came back to get ready for my events for the day. I'm never really sure what to eat before this kind of thing, not to mention there is not a huge selection of stuff in the house right now. So after a gander into the refrigerator, I settled upon a delicious and nutritious smoothie to power the day. And it was very, very tasty and was more than enough to get me through.

Here's the recipe - or rather the ingredients as all you do is put them together and waz it all up:

1/2 banana
bunch of frozen strawberries
1 heaping teaspoon of Dagoba hot chocolate powder with chiles
3 tablespoons of Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon of honey
enough 1% milk to cover the whole lot and make it as liquid as you prefer

I'm always interested to know what people eat and drink before they excercise - run, play soccer, whatever. Comment if you've got any thoughts.

13 September 2010

Flower power

One of the ingredients I was most enamoured with using while learning the finer points of Mexican cuisine is squash blossoms. I love eating flowers, I don't know why but it seems very decadent. So every opportunity to eat flowers, I take. But usually, like nasturtiums, they are eaten raw. The squash blossom is often cooked.

Over the weekend, J & I attended the 70th birthday party of my sister-in-law's mother. They live on a farm north of Barrie and while we were sipping tea from delicate china cups, my nephew discoved a patch of squash that he took me over to see. There were many varieties of squash bearing many fruits, so to speak. But also many blossoms were showing their pretty yellow faces. I was asked if I wanted some of the squash but said I'd really rather have the blossoms. After a few odd looks, I was given permission to pick some, so I did!

Tonight we took a break from the film festival - neither of us were keen to see the Nicole Kidman movie we had on the schedule - so I wanted to make something with the blosssoms. They are delicate and don't really last long so they had to be used ASAP. My first plan was soup but J was not keen. I had had squash blossom quesadillas while in Puebla, Mexico, so that became the plan!

First thing is to clean and ready the squash blossoms. Here they are ready for dinner.

They are pretty easy to put together, so here's my recipe.

Squash blossom quesadillas
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • dozen or so squash blossoms (cleaned)
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese - grated
  • 1/3 cup queso fresco - grated/cut into little squares
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • olive oil

Roast the poblano pepper under the broiler until the skin bubbles. Take it out and put it in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes. Remove it from the bag and peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Slice it into thin strips.

Finely chop the onion and the garlic (which you can dry roast if you're feeling energetic). Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the garlic, onion, and poblanos. Saute until everything is soft and lovely. Add the blossoms and cook for another few minutes until they are fully wilted.

Put 1/3 of each of the cheeses and the mixture on a tortilla. Top with another tortilla and then fry in tiny bit of oil in the frying pan. Flip when one side is browned. Cut into four. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

I served it with some of my homemade salsa and a bit of guacamole. Mmm. Mmm. Good.

11 September 2010

All Sephardi, all the time

My Aunty Dianna from Israel is visiting and we had her over for lunch today. She's a tough old bird and I wanted to impress with some traditional Sephardi foods. So the main course was my mainstay of albondigas and rice. You can't go wrong with the good old meatball in sauce. No worries there, it's a tried and true recipe that is one of the faves in this house. But that was not enough to impress. So I had to come up with something else . . . well we had a few eggplants in our veggie box plus still quite a few tomatoes left over so I thought I might try something with them. I decided to give pastelikos a go. These are little pies that can be made with a variety of stuffings, one of which is eggplant (or berenjena as they like to say in Ladino). I have never made them before. I have not had a granny or an old aunty show me how. I was flying without a net on this one because without the wisdom of ages, the old cookbook from the shul in Salisbury/Harare does not always have enough info to guarantee success, especially when there is pastry involved. But I would not be deterred from my mission to impress so on I soldiered.

Yesterday afternoon I prepared the filling - gomo de handrajo - which is basically onion, eggplant, and tomato cooked for about an hour and a half into a soft pulp and then with some fresh parsley added.
The complicated part of the operation is making the pastry and the little cups to hold all that tastiness. The recipe calls for boiling oil, water, and salt together and then mixing it all together with flour and kneading into a "firm dough." All well and good if you know what it's supposed to feel like, not so useful if you don't. So mine ended up being a bit soft and my cups, when shaped from a ball with the thumb were not sitting up. J suggested using a muffin tin and all was saved by that bit of brilliance. So pastry was put in muffin cups, filling was added, and little lids were made and dipped in sesame seeds.

Putting on the lids is a bit of a mission as well but I figured out some system that actually got the lid and cup pastry to seal, so good news there. The tops are supposed to have a delicate frill design created by some subtle knife work but I was under a tight time constraint and this was not a road I was willing to go down this day. Here they are on their way to being ready for the oven.

Into a 400F oven for 40 minutes until golden brown and presto!!

Things of beauty, I tell ya!!! Aunty Dianna had two with minimal commentary on how they could have been better (her main issue was that there was no cheese inside). As she doesn't really eat a lot, the fact she consumed two pastelikos and a full plate of albondigas and rice made me feel pretty good about the whole affair. And now, I have conquered the fear of pasteliko preparation. I will make them again (probably not soon, but I know I can now!).

07 September 2010

More bounty

It is tomato time, there is not doubt! Went out over the weekend and picked a half a bushel of tomatoes including some beautiful yellow ones and sweet sweet grape tomatoes. Many of the heirloom tomatoes were already done but we did find a good selection of romas and they are the stars of this show! Monday was a holiday and what better way to spend it than making a whack of salsa. Here's the little red beauties readying for the oven for some roasting.

While the tomatoes were getting all delicious, I dry roasted some garlic on the comal. All dark and sweet.

And then roasted some serrano and poblano peppers.
There was lots of stuff to pull together - cilantro, veggies, salt, garlic, onion - and then it all got wazzed up in the blender. It's always a bit of a balancing act in our kitchen with limited counter space!

A couple of weeks ago, we acquired a Le Crueset dutch oven. Hadn't used it yet but needed a big pot to use for the canning of the salsa. So it got its maiden voyage. Here the jars are getting all clean.
After about four hours of all this action, about 16 jars of roasted tomato-serrano salsa stood proud.


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