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!

Uncategorized

Dear Hipster Dude in the Coffee Shop Line Up

This made me laugh out loud. Had to share.

Stuff my dog taught me

dear-hipster-dudeDEAR HIPSTER DUDE:

I respect that you have strong beliefs about coffee industry practices. Before making your purchase, you need to confirm that the beans have been ethically harvested and that every worker in the farm-to-store process has been properly compensated for their efforts.  Good for you! 

I am in a bit of a rush to get to work and your conversation with the disinterested-looking fellow behind the counter is slowing things down a bit, but it is nice to have an educational opportunity so early in the day.  I am learning things about Guatemala and Mexico that I did not know before, so thanks for that!

I personally apologize for the lack of gluten-free options in the display case.  Kudos to you for using this moment to promote your friend’s new organic-vegan-gluten-free-nut-free-quinoa-only baking business.  I am not entirely sure that the disinterested-looking fellow behind the counter has the…

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Soups and Stews

Black Bean Soup

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Black Bean Soup with Brown Rice and Cotija Cheese

About 100 years ago (or so it seems), there was a fancy-dancy restaurant in Edmonton called The Carvery.  Basically, it was a steak house, but very upscale.   Anyone dining there could be assured of envious oooh and ahs from co-workers and friends.  Aside from the impeccable service, I will always remember certain dishes I was fortunate to taste there.

Escargots en Brioche, Peppercorn-encrusted Filet Mignon, but the real stand out item was their Black Bean Soup.   Honestly, it seemed the whole city was talking about it, and many, including myself were clamouring for the recipe!   I was fortunate to have a friend with sharp eyes who found it in one of the food columns of the Edmonton Journal.

That was over 20 years ago, and I am still making this soup!  (with a couple of tweaks, of course.)

 

The Carverys’ Black Bean Soup

 

2 cups dried black beans

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1  onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4″ slices

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground is best)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1 cup Heinz Chile Sauce (sub ketchup if you cant find the chile sauce)

4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1  litre water (about)

1 litre chicken stock

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)

3/4 cup sherry

For serving:

2 cups cooked brown rice,

Cotija (or feta) cheese

 

Sort, rinse and soak beans in water over night.

In large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let the onions brown.  Stir in tomato paste, garlic, cumin, black pepper and cayenne and cook another minute, until tomato paste darkens a bit and spices become fragrant.

Add beans and their soaking liquid to pot.  Add chicken stock and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches.  Bring to boil over high heat for 15 – 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 2 – 4 hours, until beans are soft and starting to split open.  Be sure to keep an eye on the water level, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the beans covered during cooking time.

Once beans are fully cooked, remove from heat and add salt and sherry, stirring well to combine.  Allow to cool slightly.

Working in batches, CAREFULLY, transfer to blender & puree  about 2/3 of the soup.  Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the whole beans.  Taste for seasoning, reheat and spoon into bowls.  Top with brown rice and cotija cheese and serve.

Additional topping ideas include, but certainly are NOT limited to:  sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced avocados and chile flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

How To... · Soups and Stews

Chicken Stock

Yup, it is exactly the same as Turkey Stock, but a whole lot more versatile.

In my family, there is a certain traditional flavour we expect Turkey Soup (and stock) to maintain, whereas chicken stock can go in so many different directions.

The beginning is simple.  Start with a pot full (about 2 kilos) of chicken bones, backs, thigh bones, breast bones.   (Honestly, if you are not already doing this, keep a zip lock bag in your freezer and any time you have to remove a breast bone, or de-bone a chicken thigh, toss it in the freezer bag.  You will be surprised at how little time it takes to fill it up.  Once full, it should weigh about 2 kilos, which is enough for  2 – 3 litres of stock. )

Toss the frozen contents of that bag into a stock pot, add water to just cover the chicken pieces.   Toss in 1 onion, quartered, 2 stalks of celery, cut into 2″ pieces, 2 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters, and a handful of parsley stems.

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This batch included chile d’arbole and dried chipotle, along with garlic and cilantro

Now for the fun part; any number of additions can be made in any combinations you like, depending on how you plan on using the stock once finished:  oregano, thyme, dill, ginger, cilantro, dried chilies, garlic, lemons, lime, use your imagination.

Once you have everything in the pot, bring to just below the boiling point over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.  Keep an eye on the water level, it should just cover the bones to begin with, and as the stock simmers, the level of liquid will reduce by about 2″.    Avoid letting it boil and try not to stir too much as this will make your stock cloudy.   Remove from heat, cool slightly and strain the broth.  Discard solids  (you can pick the meat off the bones at this point to use in the soup if you like, but my personal opinion is that the meat has boiled so long, all the flavour has left it by now).    Let stock stand, uncovered until it cools to room temperature.  Then transfer smaller containers and refrigerate, uncovered until completely cool.  Do not cover until completely cool or the stock will turn sour and unusable.   Once cooled, any fat can be easily removed and discarded.

And that is it!  Simple.   Stock will keep in the fridge for 5 days.  You can freeze it for up to 3 months.

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Muffins and Quick Breads · Uncategorized

Pumpkin Muffins

Victoria Day!   That means the home office is closed and a long weekend for us.   How better to use some of that free time to work on my baking skills.

These turned out much better than anticipated when I poured the runny batter into the muffin cups.  Actually, I am thrilled with the results and I think our current guest will enjoy them with her afternoon tea.

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Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups – minus 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

3 Tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

unsalted pepitas for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.   Place paper liners in muffin pans and lightly spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray.    Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk both flours, corn starch baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg together.

In large bowl, whisk eggs until well blended.  Add sugar, molasses, oil pumpkin and vanilla, milk and whisk to combine well.

Whisk  flour mixture into wet ingredients, stirring until everything is just combined.  Careful not to overstir or your muffins will be tough.   Batter will seem a bit runny, and there should be no lumps.

Pour batter into prepared muffin cups and top with pepitas, if using.

Bake 20 minutes, until tester inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around each muffin if needed to loosen from pan and turn out onto rack to finish cooling.

The original recipe was by Ellie Krieger from FoodTV, and substitutions were made as written  here to suit what I had on hand in my own kitchen.

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Pumpkin Muffins
Chicken · Main Courses

One Pot Chicken and Rice

I like this dish because it has a short list of ingredients which I usually have on hand and there is only 1 pot to wash up.   It also tastes fantastic.   The short simmer time makes this good  for weeknight dinners, and tasty enough for a casual dinner with friends.  Add some good bread, a nice salad, maybe some wine….

Serves 4

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One Pot Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs with legs attached

1 teaspoon salt  (divided)

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 cup long grain white rice

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 cups peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse and pat chicken dry.   Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy deep skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken,  on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoon fat from skillet.   Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and almonds and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, water and tumeric and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible.   Pour any juices from plate into the pan.   Cover tightly and simmer, over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in peas.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve.

 

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Muffins and Quick Breads

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

No surprise that it was my husband who found this recipe.  His love of all things chocolate is well known in our family.

This was originally published on Two Peas and Their Pod, and she has some great photos of the finished product, as well as a bunch more reasons you might want to make this.

If you mash the bananas well enough so that there are no lumps left,  it looks and tastes like a beautifully moist chocolate cake.

This works as either a loaf or cupcakes, and freezes well for up to a month.

Chocolate Banana Bread

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 large ripe bananas  (1 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350F.   Spray a 9x5inch loaf pan with cooking spray or for muffins, place liners in 12 cup muffin pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas very well with a fork. Add the melted butter and oil and stir until combined. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth

Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, taking care not to over mix. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan or muffin cups.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over top.   Bake the loaf for 60-65 minutes, muffins 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out mostly clean.  There might melted chocolate chips on the toothpick and that is fine. Just no  gooey batter.

Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.   Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then a knife around the edges of the bread (or muffins if needed) and carefully remove from the pan. Let cool on the wire rack. Cut into slices and serve.

NOTE – this will keep, refrigerated, wrapped in plastic for 4 days.    To freeze, cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap then aluminum foil.   Thaw, slice and serve.

Chocolate Banana Bread
Loaf
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Muffins
Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Vindaloo

Yes, the list of ingredients is long, but dont let that discourage you.   You probably have most of them hiding in your cupboard anyway, so you might as well give this a try.

Take a few minutes to assemble and measure everything before you start and this will be a snap!

Even for slow cooks like me, it was ready from start to finish in under an hour.

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Chicken Vindaloo

2 onions, one roughly chopped, the other sliced

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more later if you like it hot, but taste first)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces *SEE COOKS NOTES*

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peels left on, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock

 

Blend the roughly chopped onion and the next 11 ingredients in food processor until a more or less smooth paste forms.  Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, add paste from processor and cook until darkened in colour and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add the sliced onion, chicken and potatoes; sauté 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with more cayenne, if desired, and salt and pepper.

COOKS NOTES- you can sub chicken breast for the thighs, but wait until the potatoes are nearly cooked before adding to the mix.  Those small pieces of chicken breast take only a few minutes to go from nicely cooked to dry so watch carefully.

The original recipe, printed in Bon Appetit, Sept 2002 is from The Ambassador Dining Room in Baltimore MD,  I have tweaked it a bit to suit me, but it is pretty much as written.