Fish and Seafood · Main Courses · Pasta

Mussels in White Wine with Linguine & Fresh Herbs

I spent a summer in PEI when I was (much) younger.  Our cabin overlooked the very water from which we dug the mussels for our dinner almost daily.

Even now, some 30 years later, (oh, wait, I’m sure its only been 3 years!) whenever I see a package of mussels, I am, briefly, transported back there.  Its good to have such memories.

Of course, because of Kevin’s  allergy, I rarely cook shellfish anymore.   Since I was dining alone last week, I could not pass up that package of mussels I found in Costco!

Bonus:  I put this all together in 35 minutes!  It is quick enough for a weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to serve guests.  If you do your prep work in advance, you will be able enjoy cocktails with your guests and whip this up in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti !

 

This will serve 2 and can easily be doubled.

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Mussels in White Wine with Linguine & Fresh Herbs

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 cup white wine (I used a Barefoot Pinot Grigio, but any white you like to drink will work here)

1 pound mussels, rinsed, scrubbed & beards removed

250 grams linguine

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I had mint, cilantro, parsley & basil on hand, but toss in whatever you happen to have)

1 small tomato, diced

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy pan over medium heat.  Once foam subsides, cook garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until garlic is softened and begins to brown,  3 – 4 minutes.

Add wine and boil about 4 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half.  Add mussels, give the pan a good shake, cover and cook, shaking occasionally, until mussels open wide.  5 -8 minutes.    Turn heat off.  Remove mussels from the broth, discarding any that have not opened.

While mussels are cooking, add linguine to the pot of boiling salted water and cook until just slightly underdone.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Add 1/4 cup pasta water to the mussel broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium, add drained linguine, tossing with tongs until linguine is coated in sauce. About 1 minute.  Thin sauce with additional pasta water if needed.

Divide linguine and mussels between 2 plates.  Sprinkle chopped herbs and tomatoes over top and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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!

Breakfast · Beverages

De-Constructed Smoothie

I am going to take an unpopular stance today.  I am well aware that everyone, from my friends and family, celebrity chefs to food magazines have embraced the smoothie craze.   Invented by sellers of blenders and diet lifestyles, the world has embraced smoothies as part of an apparently healthy and nutritious diet.

I am also aware that by now, smoothie lovers far and wide have stopped reading this post and moved on to something more supportive of their dietary choices.   To those very few of you who are still reading, thank you!!

Who doesn’t remember their first Nutri-bullet and that smug, oh-so-healthy feeling we all got from sipping that drink in our cars as we battled rush hour traffic in our morning commute?  Honestly, until Nutri-bullet came along, I had no idea that I was supposed to feel so stressed in the mornings that I needed to eat in my car.  I had been in the habit of taking 10 minutes of calm for myself at my own kitchen table to enjoy a light breakfast before the days craziness began.  But, clearly, that was incorrect, so I changed my routine  to fit society expectations.

So, like (seemingly) everyone else,  I started making smoothies, often packing an entire days worth of fruits and or veggies into a single serving.  Wow!!   I thought, thinking how health-smart I was.  After a certain length of time, I began to wonder…’I just drank a serving of yogurt, half cup of apple juice, 1 banana and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.  More  than I would have eaten at a regular breakfast, yet  I was  starving by 9:30 or 10am.   And, why haven’t I lost any weight?

I started doing some research .  Turns out, smoothies are NOT the health elixir that we have been led to believe.   In fact, they can be harmful to your health.

To quote from Colin Campbell from the Centre for Nutrition Studies   “you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food[1]. In addition, you may be changing the rate and effect of nutrient digestion in important ways.”

Of course, the occasional smoothie in your life isn’t going to harm you, but before you embark on a smoothie based weight loss plan, Fitness Magazine.com offers 8 reasons NOT to do this,  including potential digestive issues and the increased risk of developing gallstones because of your liquid diet.

If you add juice to your smoothie for “extra nutrition”,  you should know that some juices on the market contain up to 72 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams per serving. That’s comparable to about five slices of white bread—or a 20-ounce sugar-filled soda. Meanwhile, yogurt- or sherbet-heavy smoothies are little more than 600-plus-calorie messes with more carbs and sugar than you will find in not one but two candy bars.

As I continued to research this, I found that most smoothie pushers were selling something:  blenders, juicers, protein powders to give your smoothie more staying power, diet plans with tall, fit blonde models as their spokesperson and horror of horrors, even Gordon Ramsay, who was the first I heard to speak out against smoothies is now publishing recipes for them.    Sigh…whatever brings in the bucks, right?

In reality, smoothies are pre-digested food.  Once you have put all those fruits and veggies thru your blender, you have destroyed the fibre content, altered the nutrients and basically given your stomach nothing to do but forward all that sugar directly into your system.  No wonder we all feel so energized after downing one.

I could rail on for days against the smoothie, but I think you get my point:  FOOD YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHEW IS HEALTHIER.   If you are trying to loose weight, chewing your food is an excellent place to start.   For your own sake, please,  ditch your blender at least some times, and layer those ingredients into an 8 oz glass instead.

 

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De-Constructed Smoothie

1/4 cup homemade or pro-biotic yogurt (unsweetened)

3 Tablespoons coconut granola

1 Teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/2 banana, sliced

4 frozen strawberries, diced

1 teaspoon liquid honey (unfiltered if available)

Layer first 7 ingredients attractively into a glass.  Top with honey.  Sit down at your table and take 5 minutes to really taste your food.  I think you will enjoy it.

Serves 1

Beef · Main Courses

Korean Beef Bowls

This is pretty much straight out of ‘A Pretty Dish’, by Jessica Merchant.   It is a well written book, and we are enjoying our way through it, with some tweaks here and there, of course.

I have increased the sauce from the original recipe as it goes so well with the rice.

You will find it easier to thinly slice the steak, if you pop it in the freezer for about an hour, until it begins to freeze.  Remove from freezer and slice immediately.

Another win for dinner in under an hour, and even with no marinating time, the flavour on the beef is very good.

Serves 2

 

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Korean Beef Bowls

Korean Beef Bowls

1 lb sirloin, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoons white flour

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons regular soy sauce

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon peanut oil (for frying)

2 cups cooked basmati rice

1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal or julienned for garnish

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced for garnish

Toss sliced beef with flour and set aside.

In another bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauces, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes.  Stir with fork until sugar is mostly dissolved and mixture is well combined.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or wide deep skillet over high heat.  Add beef and saute for about 2 minutes, until beef is beginning to caramelize and nearly cooked through.

Reduce heat to medium and add soy mixture to pan.  Cook, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.

Assemble the dish:  Divide the cooked rice between 2 bowls, top with the meat and sauce.   Garnish with carrot slices and sprinkle sesame seeds and scallions over top.

 

 

 

Chicken · Main Courses

Classic Fried Chicken

Is there anything better?  We all know this isn’t the healthiest meal, which is why we don’t eat it every day.  Or even every month.   So, when you do decide to indulge your craving for fried chicken, why waste your calories on sorta okay chicken from the local take out joint when you can create something so much better in your own kitchen?

I have been using this recipe since the lovely people at Bon Appetit magazine published it in 2012.  I have included their instructions for deep frying in a pan, but I recommend you use your deep fryer instead.  It is a much safer method to get the same result.

Start this a day in advance to let the spice rub work its magic.

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Classic Fried Chicken

Classic Fried Chicken

1  3 – 4-lb. chicken, cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
 
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
 
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
 
Canola or peanut oil (for frying)
 
Place chicken pieces in non-reactive bowl.
Combine next 6 ingredients well and rub all over chicken parts.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
 
Remove chicken from fridge and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
 
Whisk buttermilk, egg and water in medium bowl.
Whisk flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper in another large bowl or  baking dish.
 
Following manufacturers instruction, fill and preheat your deep fryer to 350F.
 
If you do not have a deep fryer, pour oil into 12″ cast iron or other heavy deep sided skillet to a depth of 3/4″.  (Be careful not overfill.  The level of the oil will rise when the chicken is added.) Prop deep -fry thermometer in oil so that bulb is submerged.  Gently heat over medium – high heat until thermometer registers 350F.  Keep a lid and a box of baking soda handy in the event of any splashes

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess.

Place up to 5 pieces of chicken in the oil; whatever is a comfortable fit. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving

 

Main Courses · Pork

Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad

For me, this was a “way-out-there” dish, but I trust the source so I threw caution to the wind and served it, untried, to friends one evening.  It was a hit;  there were no leftovers.   This is basically unchanged from the original recipe I used.  Some things you just don’t need to mess with.

I did learn that you will need to scrape as much of the marinade off of the meat as you can before grilling so you get a better char on the meat, which is essential to this dish. My first attempt was more steamed meat than grilled.

You can shred the cantaloup for the salad ahead of time, but wait to toss with the rest of the ingredients until the pork comes off the grill.

Serves 4

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Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad

 

For the Chops

8 thin cut (fast fry) pork chops

salt & pepper

1cup grated cantaloupe

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Toss all ingredients together in re-sealable plastic bag and massage well so meat is coated with cantaloupe mixture.  Chill one hour.

Prepare grill for medium – high heat.  Remove pork from marinade, scraping off as much cantaloupe as possible.  Grill, turning once, until browned and cooked thru, about  4 – 6 minutes.   Remove from heat and transfer to serving platter.

For the Salad

4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 red jalepeno, thinly sliced (your call as to how much you want to add)

2 cups grated cantaloupe

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice.

1/4 cup roughly chopped salted peanuts

Toss first 6 ingredients together and arrange over pork chops.  Top with chopped peanuts & serve.

 

 

 

Appetizers and Snacks · How To... · Sides

How to Make Sauerkraut or Kimchi

Over the past few years, I have developed an interest in fermented foods and their health benefits.

I could launch into a diatribe so much longer than you care to read and still only scratch the surface as to why we need more of these foods in our diets, but this is a cooking blog.  So, for more information on the benefits click on the highlighted areas.  People much smarter than me will give you more well researched information than I can begin to provide.  Aside from so many healthy reasons to eat fermented foods, the real reason our household eats them is simply because they taste good.

Sauerkraut is #3 on the list of good things to eat for your gut health.

It can be put together in about half an hour and demands very little attention once you have mixed it up.  Just a simple glance daily to confirm the process of fermentation is on track.  It does not require a starter, and if you choose to take a break from making it, you can do so without having to worry about taking care of the starter or mother during your break.    Making it fits in very easily with todays fast paced lifestyles.

Of all the websites I have visited, (and there have been several!) Holly Howe has the best instructional site to learn how to make this wonder food.

Her instructions are clear, easy to understand and, perhaps most importantly, very well photographed.  She offers trouble shooting advice if you are unsure of any part of the process and her resources page offers excellent advice on which are the best products available.  Her passion for sauerkraut and its myriad of variations is clear.

Here is the link to Holly Howes’ sauerkraut recipes, including Kimchi.

Enjoy!!

https://www.makesauerkraut.com/make-sauerkraut-101/

Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a from scratch soup.   Of course, you can speed things up by using commercially made chicken stock if you are pressed for time, but the soup is more satisfying when you make the stock yourself.

You can break this down into smaller steps by making the stock up to 3 days ahead.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, cover once completely cool.  Remove chicken from bones and chill separately. Reheat stock before proceeding with recipe.
Chipotle-spice purée can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Actually, there are several short cuts you could take to make this soup, and each of you will figure out those that work best for you.  I have given you the long version, because, after all, this site is all about “fresh cooking”, using as few pre-made ingredients as possible.  The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, December 2008.  I have made a few changes, but not many.  The recipe is great as written.

This will make 8 – 12 servings, depending on appetites.  Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze the leftovers so you have a time saver when your schedule gets out of control.

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Chipotle Tortilla Soup

 

For the stock

1 whole chicken (about 1/1/2 kilos)

3 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly  chopped

1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise

3 1/2 litres of water

1 small bunch cilantro stems (25 – 30 stems)

1 bay leaf

5 peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours.  Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth and discard.

Remove chicken from broth, set aside and allow to cool.  Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into large bowl.  Discard solids and wash pot and return broth to pot.

 

Make the Soup

3 whole allspice berries

1 whole clove

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

8 black peppercorns

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 – 3 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo (depending on your preference for spicy heat)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice, not cooked

1 lb sweet potato or camote, cut into spoon size pieces

1  19 oz can canellni beans, drained and rinsed

15 fresh corn tortillas

5 Tablespoons canola oil

Toast the allspice, clove, cumin, peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking pan to prevent burning, .  About 2 minutes.

Transfer toasted spices to blender and add onion, carrots, garlic, chipotles, salt and 1 cup of the chicken stock.   Puree until smooth and spices are ground.  About 3 minutes.   If mixture seems too thick to properly puree, add a bit more chicken stock.  (Be careful if chicken stock is still hot).

Add puree to stock in pot, along with brown rice.  Bring to low boil over medium heat.  Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until sweet potatoes and rice are tender – about 15 minutes more.

While soup is simmering, remove meat from chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces.  Discard bones.

Add chicken and beans to simmering soup.  Remove from heat once chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F, stack tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss strips with oil, place on 2 baking sheets, season with salt and bake, stirring frequently until crisp and golden.  About 25 minutes.

Garnish 

2 ripe avocados, cubed

2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges

3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice

sour cream

Spoon soup into bowls, top with avocados, tomatoes and tortilla strips.  Serve sour cream and lime wedges alongside.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Coconut Granola

Oh, I know, you can buy granola literally everywhere.  Unfortunately for my taste buds most I have tried taste almost as good as the box it came out of.

Do yourself a favour,  make your own.  I think you will be glad you did.

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Coconut Granola

In a large mixing bowl, combine

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut.  Sweetened or not, your choice.

1/2 cup raw, sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Set this aside and preheat your oven to 300F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In microwave safe measuring cup, stir together

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

dash nutmeg

1/2 cup honey

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons dried cranberries  (add in later)

Microwave mixture on medium until easily stir-able (about 10 – 20 seconds, depending on your microwave). Give it a stir to completely combine, then pour over the oat mixture and stir until all ingredients are evenly coated with the honey-spice mixture.

Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes  for 30 – 40 minutes, until oats are golden in colour.

Remove from oven,  sprinkle dried cranberries over top and stir to combine.  Let cool on baking sheet, then transfer to air-tight container.   Store at room temperature.  Keeps well for 2 – 3 weeks.