Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.

 

 

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Welcome

Welcome to Heathers Fresh Cooking!

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.

I hope you enjoy my offerings!

Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Parmesan

Even though this is a classic dish, much loved by seemingly everyone in the food industry,  I had never tasted Chicken Parm until last night.   Based on its appearance alone, never was I tempted to order it in restaurants.  Seeing plates of breaded chicken swimming in tomato sauce flying past our table did little to pique my interest in trying it.

The other day,  when a Chicken Parm recipe showed up in my news feed, I finally decided to see what all the fuss is about and actually took the time to read it.   As a bonus, the video included in the link made it look pretty easy to put together.  It seemed the perfect dish to serve to friends last night.

Be warned, it will take the full 1 hour and 40 minutes, but the sauce and breading can be done before hand.  So, if you want to spend time with your guests, instead of hiding behind your stove, make the sauce and bread the breasts in advance.  Then, about half an hour they arrive, preheat your oven, warm up that sauce and start frying the breasts.  You will be popping them into the oven just as your doorbell rings.  Let it bake while you enjoy appy’s with your friends.  Once it comes out of  the oven it can rest for up to half an hour before serving.

This recipe serves 6 with enough sauce for everyone.

And the moral to this story is not to judge a dish on its appearance alone.

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The Sauce

2 Tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

One 6 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

One 4-inch Parmesan rind (or 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan)

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

The Chicken Parmesan

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

6 medium chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons (plus more) canola oil

12 thin slices mozzarella

500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

 

Make the tomato sauce:

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, cook 5 minutes, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened,  about 8 to 10 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer,  stirring occasionally and breaking up whole tomatoes with back of spoon, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, discard the Parmesan rind and, using an immersion blender,  blend the sauce until mostly smooth but still retaining some texture.  (See Cooks Notes 1 )

Season with salt and pepper to taste.   (See Cooks Notes 2 )

 

Make the Chicken Parmesan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the panko bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano.

Place the flour on another plate and the beaten eggs in yet another shallow dish (like a pie plate).   Line up the 3 dishes next to each other in this order:

flour

eggs

panko/parmesan mixture.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. One by one,  dredge the chicken breasts in flour, followed by egg and then panko, making sure to completely coat each breast.  Press a little bit to be sure the coating sticks.  Place chicken breasts flat on a plate until ready to fry.  (See Cooks Notes 3 )

Preheat the oven to 375° and spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.   Cook the chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown, 5 – 6  minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan, nestling them into the tomato sauce. Spoon the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the middle of each breast.  DO NOT  completely cover all of the breasts with tomato sauce.  Put 2 slices of mozzarella over the sauce on each breast and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.

Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size.  If you have an oven-safe thermometer, now is a great time to use it.

Garnish with basil and serve over plain spaghetti tossed with a little olive oil.

Cooks Notes:

  1. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let mixture cool and puree in food processor or blender
  2.  Sauce can be made 3 days in advance, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.  Rewarm sauce before continuing.
  3. I breaded the breasts 2 hours in advance, covered loosely with plastic and refrigerated.  Maybe it will work if it sits even longer, but the breadcrumbs might get too soggy.  If anyone tries, let me know.

 

Uncategorized

Red Savina Hot Sauce 

Thinking I need to try this one.

Cast Iron Dan

The other day, I had someone on Facebook ask me what I do with all those peppers that I grow. That’s a good question, so I guess I should share what I make with all of that hot fruit! I make habanero hot sauce! The variety of habaneros that I grew this year are called Red Savina, which are about twice as big and twice as hot as the normal orange habaneros. Some of the peppers this year are over two inches in diameter!

I’ve been making this sauce for 5 years now and every time I think that I should change the recipe – I end up deciding to leave it just the way that it is! It is smoky, sweet, savory, citrussy and very hot… but not too hot! It doesn’t take much, but its a great condiment for tacos, burgers and most everything else. My youngest daughter…

View original post 277 more words

Uncategorized

Arugula Salad with Apples and Walnuts

What can be better than apples and walnuts together.    My version is pretty close to the original.  Why mess with perfection?   I served alongside Za’atar chicken breast, and some pan seared veggies.  Serves 4 as a side.

arugula salad
Arugula Salad with Apples and Walnuts

3 Tablespoons plain unsweetened yogurt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt and pepper

4 cups arugula, any tough stems removed

3 leaves romain, torn

1/4 cup parsley leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped

1 apple, thinly sliced

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 Tablespoons unseasoned sunflower seeds.

Combine yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper in small bowl, whisk to combine.

Toss arugula, romaine, parsley and apple slices together with the dressing.   Sprinkle walnuts, cranberries and sunflower seeds over greens and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Salads

Oriental Cucumber Salad

This is a nice change from plain old cucumbers in a salad.   The tender skin on long english cukes means you can peel them or not.

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Oriental Cucumber Salad

 

3 Tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 tsp white pepper (optional)

1 long english cucumber, thinly sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1/4 red Serrano pepper, minced (optional)

Mix rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, salt and pepper together.  Set aside.

Toss the cucumber, scallion, cilantro and Serrano together in large bowl.   Pour rice vinegar mixture over top, toss well and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

It goes pretty well with Gochujang pork, but I am sure you will find tons of stuff to serve this with.

 

Main Courses · Pork

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

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Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks, Asian Cucumber Salad, Grilled Yellow Pepper and Scallions with White Rice

 

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

1   2” piece ginger, peeled, sliced

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

1/4 cup sweet mirin (Japanese rice wine)

2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil, plus more for the grill

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pound pork shoulder steak (pork butt) about 1/2” thick

 

Toss everything but the pork in a blender and puree until smooth.

Put the steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour half of marinade over steak, coating all sides well.  Refrigerate, flipping bag every once in awhile, at least 2 hours; overnight is better.   Keep the remaining marinade in a small bowl, covered, in the refrigerator.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove pork from marinade and grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, and basting with reserved marinade.   If you have difficulty with flare-ups,  move pork to a cooler area away from direct heat.

Cook to desired doneness, about 12 – 15  minutes for well done.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice into quarters and serve.

DO AHEAD: Pork can be marinated 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

 

Main Courses · Pork

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

I  have never seen a chutney that actually looked nice.  Photographing this was a bit of a challenge.  The colour of this chutney isn’t all that exciting or appealing, but chutneys should be enjoyed for their flavour, not their good looks.   I used dark demerara sugar for this.   Maybe a light brown sugar would give it a nicer colour.  Really, though, once you taste it, you won’t care what colour it is.

 

Mango chutney with smoked pork chop and sauteed zucchini and peppers
Pork Chop with Mango Chutney

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

1 1/2  Tablespoons canola oil (divided)

1 small onion, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

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Mango Chutney

2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and    minced

1/4 small red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

1/4 cup water

2 cups diced mango (about 3 large)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2  1″ thick bone-in pork chops

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Add the onions and sweat them until soft.   Do not brown.  Once onions are soft and translucent, add the ginger, garlic and bell pepper and cook, stirring 1 to 2 minutes.   Add the curry powder and cardamom  (if using) and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.    Stir in the mango and  water and cook for another minute or 2, stirring to prevent sticking.

Add vinegar, sugar, and cranberries to pot.   Stir to combine, increase heat to medium and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is gone, but mixture is still “sloppy”.   Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and allow to cool several minutes.

Meanwhile,  heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon canola oil over medium high heat in frying pan.  Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add to pan and sear both sides, then reduce heat to low, partially cover and continue cooking until done.  (a thermometer inserted into centre of the chop should read 160F).    Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes to complete the cooking process.  (temp should rise to 170F while meat is resting).

Plate, spoon chutney over top and serve alongside brown rice and fresh veggies.

COOKS NOTES – I used a mild yellow curry powder, but a hotter curry might be nice in here too.

 

 

 

Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Pho at Home

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I love this soup and it is on my ‘Must Eat’ list whenever I am back in Canada.  Where we live, Pho can difficult to find.  There are 2 restaurants we know of that serve it, and strangely both only offer it on Thursday nights.  The one closest to us closes for the summer.   So we make our own.

This recipe includes instructions for making your own beef broth, from scratch, but no one will judge you if you skip that part and open a couple of boxes of store-bought low sodium beef broth (See cooks notes below).  Toss in some of last nights roast beef or leftover steak, or pork or shredded deli chicken for that matter, and your hungry family will still be awestruck by your amazing cooking abilities.

This recipe serves 4 comfortably.

Pho at Home

2  kilos beef soup bones

1/2 kilo stewing beef or beef shank (leg)

1 – 3  Tbs canola oil

1 large onion, quartered

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

5 scallions, white and green parts separated; white parts smashed, green part sliced and set aside

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 jalepeno, stem removed, halved lengthwise

5 whole star anise

1   5″ stick cinnamon, whole

2 1/2  litres water

1/4 cup soya sauce

200 gms dried rice noodles

Basil leaves, bean sprouts or shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, chopped peanuts, hoisin and Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce and those green onion tops you sliced earlier as accompaniments.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium high heat, then, working in batches, brown the bones and beef shanks, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer browned meat to platter, adding additional oil if needed, as you go.

Once all the beef and bones are browned, cook onion, ginger, white parts of scallions, garlic and jalepeno in same pot over medium heat stirring once in awhile, until onions are soft and beginning to brown.  Add cinnamon, star anise and cook, stirring 1 minute longer.

Add browned beef, bones and any accumulated juices back into the pot, along with the water and soya sauce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender but not  quite falling off the bone.

Using tongs, remove meat and bones from broth.  Set aside to cool a bit.  Line a fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard solids, skim off fat.   (do ahead:  cool broth to room temperature, then refrigerate up to 3 days.  Fat will be easier to skim off of the chilled broth, too)

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut meat off of bones and  into half inch slices and return to broth.  Reheat broth and taste for seasoning.  You will probably want to add a bit of salt here.   Discard bones.

Divide noodles between bowls, ladle broth and meat over top.

Serve hot, with any combination of accompaniments listed above.

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COOKS NOTES:  If you are not into making your own stock, simmer 2 litres of low sodium beef stock or broth with white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic jalepeno, cinnamon stick, star anise and soy sauce for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain the scallions and spices out.  Add some leftover cooked meat, and voila!  Cook the noodles and add your accompaniments.  Dinner on the table in less than 40 minutes!!

Click here for the original version.