I love food, and you do too, if you are reading this. I especially love food that is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients and few processed foods.
My recipes have all been tested in my own kitchen by me. My “support team” and hardest critic is my husband Kevin. He is my board to bounce ideas off of, he helps me research recipes, he tests and tastes along the way and encourages me every step of the way.
Tonight we had a salmon feast to round out a week of celebrations! While we chose to make this week of school vacation a ‘staycation’ it ended up to be filled with day after day of reasons to raise a glass. Here are just some of the highlights.
On Easter Sunday last weekend we spent the day with both of our parents, enjoying a feast of roasted lamb, with scalloped potatoes and roasted veggies. It is such a joy to see our parents get along and our evening was filled with laughter and storytelling.
Tuesday was our two year wedding anniversary! To mark the day, we went to a fancy dinner in town at Alden and Harlow. (If you love good food and you visit Boston I highly recommend this spot!) Instead of bread they give you pickled green beans. They have just the right amount of flavor and…
I had never heard of Longos , an Ontario grocery store, until I finally got around to reading magazine a friend from Canada brought me this past winter. While I am always grateful for reading material brought down from “The Great White North, I did not rush to read this particular item, mainly because I figured it would be like most other supermarket rags with lots of emphasis on pre-packaged, processed foods. As a general rule, we have always avoided these types of foods and are not interested in starting to eat them any time soon.
Turns out, this magazine does advertise pre-made products, but it is also chock full of recipes and tips to make fresh food from scratch! So much for judging a book by its cover. Here is my version of their Habanero Pineapple Chutney. Pretty much as they wrote it, but you can find the original recipe in their Summer 2016 edition.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pineapple, tough centre core removed and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 2 cups)
1 small habanero, seeds and stems removed, minced
3 Tablespoons Amber Rum
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, roughly chopped
Mint leaves for garnish
1 6 – 8 oz round of Camembert Cheese
In medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, ginger, cumin and salt and cook, stirring, until onions are tender. About 5 minutes. Stir in pineapple and habanero and cook , stirring, 3 minutes more.
Add rum and lime juice, bring to boil. Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, return to boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in cilantro and green onions.
Place Camembert on microwave safe plate or shallow bowl. Microwave on Medium using 15 second blasts until cheese is hot and beginning to melt.
Spoon chutney over top, garnish with raspberries and mint leaves. serve with crackers or crostini.
Nothing puts me in a pancake frame of mind more than a long weekend. So, inspired by last nights pineapple chutney, and the fact that we still have a few bananas leftover from our “crop” at Casa Madera, I came up with this for breakfast this morning. Serves 2 – 4, depending on appetites, and can easily be doubled.
For the Topping
2 cups fresh (or canned) pineapple – If using canned, drain and discard liquid
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons Spiced Rum (optional)
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Finely chopped mint leaves
Combine first 6 ingredients pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer 10 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Set aside while you cook the pancakes.
1 batch of your favourite pancake mix
1 banana, sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mixed the pancake batter according to package directions for 2 – 4 people. Gently stir in vanilla and sliced banana, taking care not to over mix your batter.
Cook pancakes as directed, keep finished ones warm.
To serve, stack 2 pancakes per plate & spoon pineapple syrup over top. Top each serving with raspberries, coconut , and fresh mint.
Not too taxing in the cooking department and still tastes great. There are lots of ways to dress this, but honestly, a simple drizzle of good olive oil is really all you need. This is on the lighter side, but still satisfying.
This serves 2 as a main course.
For the Salad
2 bunches spinach, washed well, dried, & larger leaves torn and tough stems removed
small handful of arugula, torn (optional, but highly recommended!)
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 radishes, quartered or sliced
1 green onion, white and green parts thinly sliced
Heat oil in frying pan, over high heat until oil is shiny. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to frying pan and sear on both sides. About 2 minutes per side. Partially cover pan with lid and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked thru. I like an internal temp of 155 – 160. Remove chicken to plate, tent with foil and let rest until internal temp reaches 165, about 10 minutes. (Yes, the temperature does increase after you take it off the heat)
Meanwhile, toss all the salad ingredients except olive oil to combine and arrange on 2 plates.
Slice chicken crosswise into 1/4 inch slices, and lay on top of prepared salad.
Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over each plate and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and serve.
COOKS NOTE – if using spinach from a bag, ALWAYS give it a wash. Even though the package says it is washed and ready to use, the stuff in those bags can be loaded with bacteria!!
This drink is made from pineapple rind, and is fermented on your countertop. It is commonly made all over Mexico and probably anywhere else pineapple is grown. Because of the fermentation, you should be aware, there may be a trace of alcohol in the drink, but certainly not enough to make you woozy or unable to operate heavy machinery.
I have been making this for several years now, with great success. I did have 1 bad batch but that was because I used a different type of sugar. Lesson learned, white sugar, not brown must be used here!!
3 cups water (more if needed)
1 cup white sugar
2 quart glass pitcher or jar
Fermentation lock (found in any wine making store. Optional but handy to have)
Remove leafy top of pineapple and discard. Cut peel off of pineapple, taking about 1/4 inch of fruit with the peel. Set fruit aside to eat fresh.
Place the peels in a 2 quart glass jar or pitcher, arranging so peel will stay submerged. ( I put the larger peels on top and jam them in so they cannot get past the neck of the jar. A small, heavy glass or fermentation weight will also work very well.)
Dissolve the sugar in 2 cups of cool water and pour over peel in jar, adding additional water as needed just to completely cover the peel.
If you are using a pitcher, Cover loosely with plastic wrap. If using a fermentation lid, just screw it on to the jar . Put the jar on a saucer to catch any drips if it happens to overflow while it is fermenting.
Place in a warm, spot on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. Cover with a kitchen towel if you don’t have a shady spot to put it.
Mixture will become cloudy and start to bubble after 12 – 24 hours, depending on how warm it is in your kitchen. This is supposed to happen, it tells you that fermentation has begun. Soon after that, you will notice it is also becoming fizzy, and may overflow from its container. Dont worry, this is normal, and perfectly ok.
After 2 days of fizzing check the flavour of your Tepache. It should taste sweet, and a little tangy. If you have achieved this goal, strain, pour into an ice filled glass and enjoy.
If , on the other hand, your tepache tastes “off”, has a bad smell or has darkened in colour, throw it all out, sterilize all your equipment and start over with the next pineapple you buy.
The whole process will take from 1 to 5 days, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. On a hot summer day, if I start this in the morning, it can reach the fizzy stage within 24 hours! Keeps, refrigerated 3- 4 days.
Today, I missed my workout. Now normally I am pretty uncompromising about my workout time – I feel guilty about it on a regular basis but a bigger part of me knows that it is a non-negotiable if I am to remain somewhat sane. I always used to watch those oxygen mask demonstrations on airplanes and think that they had it kinda backwards when they said that if you were travelling with a child or dependant, put your own mask on and then look after your littles. Now I get it, but I learned the hard way that I must look after myself first or I am no good to anyone.
Anyway, my younger kid has been sick for the whole week and unable to go to school. Not catastrophically ill, but just enough that it would be irresponsible of us to send her into an environment with a lot…
When it comes to snow-storm preparation, there are three kinds of people: Survivalists, Comfort-Junkies, and the Wilfully Oblivious.
Survivalists are easy to spot because their pantries are filled with canned beans. Survivalists have a weird passion for brown beans in tomato sauce. They also stockpile granola bars and those little containers of individualized apple sauce that are a staple item in kid’s lunchboxes.
Survivalists have back-up plans for their back-up plans. There is a case of Aquafina in their hall closet and a bucket of water sitting ready in the bathtub; lighters and waterproof matches in their kitchen junk drawer; and “family packs” of batteries in a plastic container that sits underneath another plastic container filled with candles.
Survivalists also have multiple styles of flashlight – big square ones, pocket-sized ones, some with bendy cords that wrap around stuff, and at least a couple that attach to your…