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!

Pork

Jerk Back Ribs

I recently found an article containing “11 rib recipes that we must make” this summer.   Really???  Who can resist such temptation!?  Certainly no one in this household.

11 recipes all so wonderful that my life could possibly be less than complete until I have tried each and every one?    Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be missing out on anything, especially when it is food related.

I sent Kevin to our local Sams Club for a gross of back ribs, which we separated into several weekly servings to prepare for this grand adventure.    After reading the list, we decided there were actually some we could live without trying and narrowed it down to 5.  Co-incidentally, the same number of portions we got from that enormous package of ribs.

This one happened to be first on the list.    Of course, there are a couple of tweaks to suit our tastes and what I had in the house: amber rum instead of dark, regular allspice instead of Authentic Jamaican, onions for scallions (they looked terrible at the market last week, and Habeneros for Scotch Bonnet (and fewer!), but basically, the recipe was made as written.   Click here for the link to the original recipe.

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Jerk Back Ribs

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons amber rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 habanero peppers, stems removed

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

4 racks baby back ribs

Put all ingredients except for ribs in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Place ribs in ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Gently massage bag to be sure the ribs inside are well coated with marinade.   (See Cooks Note)  Place bag in bowl large enough to catch any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a sheet pan with foil and a baking rack.  Discard marinade left in bag. Place ribs on rack on tip of the foil, cover with more foil and seal securely.  Roast at 325F until tender,  2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove top foil and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pour all pan drippings into a sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Brush half of the reduced sauce over cooling ribs.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Grill ribs, flipping and basting often with remaining pan drippings until slightly charred and heated thru – 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  •  It is best if you do not touch the marinade with your hands.  If you want to massage the marinade into each individual rack, wear rubber gloves!   This contains HOT peppers and  your hands will complain bitterly if you don’t.
  • Ribs and sauce can be cooked 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • If you want more spice in these, add a couple more habaneros to the marinade.

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Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

I don’t make a lot of vegetarian dishes.  I was raised a meat and potatoes girl and I don’t see that changing soon.  However, this one caught my eye and I am glad it did.   I have made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our tastes and what could be found in the market.  When you make this, don’t skip the salsa part!  You only need a little dab, but without it, this would be just another bland bowl of rice and beans.

Start to finish, this will be done in about the time it takes to cook the rice.  This recipe makes a nice dinner for 2, with some rice left over.   It can easily be doubled.

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Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped, divided

1 cup raw brown rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided

1  15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 Anaheim, or Cubanel pepper, halved, seeds & stems removed

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon lime zest

1 avocado, halved, pitted and chopped

12 grape tomatoes,  halved, or 1 tomato, diced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Rice:  Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in pot over medium heat.  Add 1/4 the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let it brown.  Stir in rice and stir for another minute.  Add 2 cups water, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender.  About 40 minutes.   Remove from heat and let stand, covered 10 minutes.  (See cooks notes)

While rice is cooking, make the beans and salsa.

Beans:  heat remaining tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the rest of the onion, and cook stirring frequently until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.

Add cumin and coriander to onions, cook, stirring one minute until spices are fragrant.  Add beans and chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce  heat and simmer, mashing beans until thickened.  About 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Salsa:  Pulse chiles, garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and last of the onion in a blender until a chunky sauce forms.   Taste and season with salt.  Pour into small serving dish.

Remove cover from rice, fluff with fork and stir in half of the cilantro.

Place rice in bowl, add beans and top with diced avocado, radishes and tomato.  Serve salsa and the remaining cilantro on the side.

COOKS NOTES:  Cooking instructions for rice are general.  For best results, check your package of rice and follow instructions on the package for amount of water and cooking times.

 

 

 

Pies

Fresh Mango ‘Pie’

It cant get easier than this.   It is messy, but you get fruit and graham crust all on the same plate.  Maybe I should call it a Mango Mess instead.

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1 graham pie crust (pre-baked)

3 – 4 ripe mangoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup water or apple juice

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

zest and juice from one small lime

In large saucepan over medium high heat, combine juice (or water), cornstarch, lime juice and sugar.  Stir to dissolve and continue stirring constantly to prevent sticking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  Remove from heat, stir in mangoes then transfer mixture to pre-baked graham pie crust.  Sprinkle lime zest over top.  Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.  Spoon onto plates and enjoy.

COOKS NOTE:  This does not set up like a regular pie.   You wont get neat  slices from it so you probably shouldn’t make it if you re trying to impress the in-laws, but it is pretty tasty all the same.

 

 

Desserts · How To... · Pies

(Almost) Graham Cracker Pie Crust

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Mango Pie with Graham Crust

We can buy Graham Crackers here but we must go to an import store where we pay more for that little box of crackers than it would cost to buy a whole pie from a speciality bakery.    We can get pre-made “graham” crusts for a very reasonable cost, but they tend to be flavourless.  So, I started experimenting with different types of cookies that  are readily available here and, discovered what most of you probably already know… most any unfilled cookie can sub in for Graham Crackers.

Crush the cookies in a plastic bag using a rolling pin or pop them in your food processor.  The important part is to be sure to add enough butter and sugar so it stays together when you press it into the pie pan.

It isn’t rocket science and some of you are probably wondering why on earth something so common needs to be written down.   The answer?  Because even though this is a no brainer for many of you, I  don’t make pies often enough to have this simple formula memorized.  And, now that it is written it down, I don’t have to memorize it.

(Almost) Graham Cracker Pie Crust

 

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs

6 tablespoons  butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl until well combined.   Press mixture into a 9″ pie pan, making sure it is tight and compact.   Using the bottom of a flat measuring cup to help with this.

If you are making a no-bake pie, chill the crust for at least 2 hours before adding the filling.

If making a baked pie, pre-bake the crust at 350F for 7 – 10 minutes, then continue with whatever directions you have for the filling.

Appetizers and Snacks

Cooked Green Salsa

Every taco stand we visit offers at least 3 salsas, usually mild, medium and hot.   This one is on the hotter side.

For a milder flavour, either remove the seeds and veins from the chile before blending or just use half of it.  Or both.

The key here is not to overcook the tomatillos.  They will turn from bright green to a sort of dull army or khaki green quite quickly.  Anything beyond army green means the tomatillo is overcooked and will be bitter.  If your tomatillos turn yellow, toss the batch and start over.

Cooked Green Salsa

1 fresh green Serrano or Jalepeno chile

10 medium size  (about 1/1/2 ” diameter) tomatillos, outer husks removed

2 cloves garlic

1/2 small onion, roughly chopped.

salt to taste

 taco chips for serving

in a medium saucepan, boil the serrano and the tomatillos until the tomatillos loose their shiny green colour and take on a sort of drab khaki or “army” green.  Drain well.

Put all ingredients into your blender, pulse until more or less smooth.  Add salt to suit your taste.

Pour into serving bowl and serve with fried tortilla or taco chips.

Cooked Tomatillo Salsa
Cooked Tomatillo Salsa
Appetizers and Snacks

Peach and Blue Cheese Toasts

 

The original version is a bit more complex, I have simplified this just a bit.  You can make it even easier by just washing and drying the peaches well to remove most of the fuzz, instead of peeling them

Peach and Blue Cheese Toasts

Serves 4

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2 ripe peaches

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

8 crostini

1 Tablespoon olive oil

4 oz blue cheese

freshly ground pepper

Cut an ‘x’ in the bottom of each peach and drop into a large pot of boiling water just until skins begin to peel back, about 1 minute.  With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water; let cool for a minute.  Peel the peaches, then, holding the fruit over a  small bowl to catch the juices, cut into thin wedges.  Add lemon juice and honey to the sliced peaches and their juices and toss to combine. Set aside.

Brush crostini with olive oil and spread with cheese.  Top each piece of bread with 3 peach slices.  Drizzle some of the honey mixture over top of each toast and add a bit of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Salada

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad with Zucchini Blossoms

Super simple to make, crunchy and full of flavour.

The corn is raw,  so be sure to use the freshest sweetest corn you can find.   As for the zucchini blossoms,  if you have zucchini growing in your garden right now, this is a nice way to take advantage of those blossoms.  Just be sure you have not sprayed any chemicals on your plants.

We like this as a side with BBQ Chicken.

 

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Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad

Serves 2

1 ear sweet corn

2 small zucchini, diced into 1/4′ pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)

4 zucchini blossoms, torn into large pieces (optional)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Red Pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from corn cob into medium bowl.   Add diced zucchini, basil and mint (if using).

In a small bowl combine oil, vinegar and pepper flakes.  Mix well with fork and pour over corn mixture.  Toss to combine.

Put into serving bowl, top with torn zucchini blossoms, a few red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper.