Beef · Main Courses · Pork

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Oh, just try them.  You will like them.  Even though we are using Chipotle, the level of heat is very low.  For those not familiar with Mexican flavours, this is a good introduction.

I’ve taken these to pot lucks and returned home with an empty dish every time.

If you cant find dried chipotle, you can sub canned chipotle in adobo and skip the soaking step.

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Albondigas, White Rice and Corn with Poblanos

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

For the meatballs

8oz ground pork

8 oz lean ground beef

1 onion, minced

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for frying

For the sauce

1 chipotle chili, seeds and stem removed

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup beef stock

14 oz can chopped tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

Make the Meatballs

Combine the first 10 ingredients (everything but the oil). Mix together well then roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Place in single layer on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the sauce.

Make the Sauce

If using dried Chipotle Chili:  Soak the dried chilli in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in saucepan over medium heat, and fry the the onion and garlic 5 – 6 minutes until onion is soft.  Remove chili from soaking liquid, reserving the soaking liquid.

Chop the chili and add to onions and garlic.  If using chipotles in adobo, fish at least one or maybe 2 chilis out of the adobo sauce, roughly chop them and add to the onion/garlic mixture.

Cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Increase heat to high, Add beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and soaking liquid.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered, while you cook the meatballs.

Cook the Meatballs

Heat oil in frying pan and fry meatballs in batches, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.  They will not necessarily be cooked thru and this is okay.  You just want to get a sear and some colour on them right now.

As you remove the meatballs from the frying pan, transfer directly to the sauce in the pot.  Once all meatballs have been fried, continue to simmer in sauce, stirring every once in a while, for about 10 minutes to cook meatballs thru.  Be gentle!  Stir too roughly and you will break up all those meatballs you just worked so hard to make!

Serve with plain white rice on the side.

 

 

 

 

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Chicken · Main Courses

Grilled Chicken & Grape Skewers

You can marinate the chicken for as little as 4 hours, but you will get more flavour with a 24 hour marinade.

If using wooden skewers, you can assemble the skewers and marinate the whole thing over night in the fridge.

If using metal skewers, marinate the ingredients without the skewers.  Then skewer just before cooking .

Serve with Lemony Potatoes and Greek Salad and Na’an bread for a bit of Mediterranean  feel, or keep things simple and serve with a side salad and white rice.

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Grilled Chicken & Grape Skewers

12 wooden skewers or 12 metal skewers

1/4 cup oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chili flakes

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely minced

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes

2 cups red or green seedless grapes

1 red pepper, cut into 2″ cubes

1/2 red onion, cut in half lengthwise , layers separated

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine first 6 ingredients in a non-reactive medium size bowl and mix well.   Add chicken and toss to combine.   Cover with plastic wrap and marinate over night, or at least 4 hours.

Thread skewers alternating chicken, with  grapes, red peppers and onion until all ingredients have been used.  you should end up with about 12 skewers.

Season with salt and pepper.

Grill turning occasionally until chicken is cooked thru about 5 – 8 minutes.

Arrange on serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

Chicken · Soups and Stews

Mexican-style Corn & Chicken Soup

In Alberta, corn from Taber  has hit the markets!   A sure sign that fall is on its way.

The heat of the summer has already given way to cooler days and chilly nights.  As much as we hate to see summer go (yes, even down here, I mourn the passing of the Alberta summer), the upside is all that great corn that is now available.

This recipe lets you take advantage of that golden goodness while you warm yourself up with a hot bowl of soup.

After you have cut the kernels off of their cobs, don’t forget to scrape the back of a knife over the cob to extract as much juice (and flavour) as possible from it.   Be sure to hold it over the same bowl that your corn is in while you do this.

This will serve 4 and even with all the dicing, you will have dinner on the table in under an hour.  Win-Win!!

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Chicken Corn Soup

4 ears corn (or 3 cups frozen, thawed)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1′ pieces (about 12 oz)

1 poblano chile, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon Chile in Adobo, minced and mashed into a paste (optional)

1 white onion, diced

salt and pepper

4 cups chicken stock , homemade or purchased

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 fresh tomato, finely diced for garnish

2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

crushed tortilla chips for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot (4 litres) over medium high heat.  Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to oil in pot.  Cook. stirring just until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Add the poblano, red pepper, Chile in adobo, onion, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring until onion is soft and starting to brown – about 6 minutes.

Add the corn, and any milk you scraped from the cobs, the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot.  Stir well and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes.   Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls.  Top each bowl with crushed tortilla chips, diced tomatoes and sliced scallions.

 

 

eggs · Main Courses

Poached Eggs with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Eggs are always a quick and easy meal choice, but I have always balked at eating them for dinner.   I don’t know why, it’s just a quirk I have.

But, sometimes, tired, hungry and cooking for one trumps any prejudice I may have about eating certain things.  Which is what happened the other night when made this for dinner.

As usual, when prejudices are set aside, wonderful new discoveries are often made, which is what happened with this dish.   This is s a whole different spin on Poached Eggs, and is “dinner worthy” in my opinion.

Its a good dish.  One I will make for dinner again.

Serves 2, easily doubled and ready in less than 30 minutes.

Poached Eggs with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

3/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

1 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground if you have it)

4 eggs

pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts, toasted

romain lettuce, chopped

tomatoes, sliced

sliced red onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

pita bread

 

Fill a wide deep frying pan with 5centimetres of water and bring to just below boiling.

Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, garlic, dill, olive oil, salt and pepper  in a medium bowl to blend.    Smear mixture onto 2 plates and set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a small dry pan.  Toss with the red pepper flakes and  transfer from pan into a small bowl.

Poach the eggs.  Follow this link for How to Poach an Egg

Blot the eggs dry on the paper towel, place 2 eggs on top of the yogurt smear on each plate.

Sprinkle eggs with toasted walnuts & red pepper flakes.

Toss the romaine lettuce and red onion with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.   Divide among plates, top with sliced tomatoes.

Warm the pita bread for a few seconds in the toaster (you will have to cut it in halves or quarters to make it fit).  Add to plate and serve.

 

 

Breakfast · eggs · How To...

How to Poach an Egg

As much as I love poached eggs, I realized the other day that I rarely make them at home.   I don’t know why that is.  Starting today, I am going to change that. A perfectly poached egg is a beautiful thing, and can elevate your meal from plain old every day to something really special.  Life is short.  Treat yourself to the good stuff,

It doesn’t take that much effort, or time, and if you are watching your calorie intake, it costs about 60 calories less than a fried egg.

Fresh eggs are best for poaching, the whites are stronger and hold together better.

Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to poach a single egg,  and I certainly do not know more than he does on this subject, but I can cook up to 4 eggs at a time using the method below.  It is a more practical method for me.

You will need a deep sided 12″ frying pan for 4 eggs.   This video demonstrates the technique, but he does skip the step where you drain the egg on the paper towel.    The point of the video is to give you a visual guide to the written instructions below.

How to Poach an Egg

Crack each egg into its own bowl or onto a saucer.  If there is any very runny white surrounding the thicker white then tip this away.

Give the frying pan a quick spritz of Pam, or any other cooking oil spray.   You don’t need a lot.  You just want to prevent any sticking to the bottom.  This will help you with clean up later.   (if you are using non stick cook ware, you can skip this step)

 Put at least 2 inches (5cm) of water into a 12″ skillet and bring to a simmer. 

Add 1 teaspoon of plain white vinegar the simmering water

Carefully tip the eggs into the pan. 

Cook for 2 minutes then turn off the heat.  Check for done-ness.    There are LOTS of variables for cooking time: size of egg, how many in the pan, how hot your simmering water is and even altitude come into play here.  This morning, I poached 2 eggs and they were done after 2 minutes.  So, after you have turned the water off and checked for done-ness, you may want to leave the eggs the pan for a few minutes longer.  If  you have a lot of eggs in the pan, this may take 8-10 minutes.  Or maybe less.  Like I said, there are a lot of factors to consider. 

Meanwhile, place a double layer of paper towel on a plate (or a couple of plates, depending on how many eggs you are actually poaching.  Set aside

When they have reached your desired level of done-ness, lift the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels.  This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it  is very important!  It gets rid of any excess moisture clinging to the egg so you don’t end up with soggy eggs on your plate.

Gently transfer eggs from the paper towel to plates and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Fish and Seafood · Main Courses

Blackened Fish Sandwich

A few days back, I shared a recipe for this with the bold statement that I was going to make it for dinner.   Even after putting it out there, it still took me 2 days to talk myself into it.  It is, after all, fish.

Long story short, I was in love after the first bite!

My version has just a couple of changes, to use what I had in the house, the main ones being:  subbing Red Snapper for the Bluefish (red fish, blue fish!) and adding some brown sugar to the mayo instead of marmalade.  They didn’t specify what type of paprika, so I just used regular.

I cut the recipe back, because I was only making 1 sandwich, but honestly it tasted so good I was wishing I had made all 4 servings!

I encourage you check this link to the original recipe, and watch the video on to cook the fish.  The key is a hot pan, a little pressure ,  and, most importantly, don’t move the fish until you are ready to flip it.  This will give you a nice crispy crust that you can actually hear when you take that first bite.

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A nice crispy crust!

Oh, another bonus, fish cooks quickly, so the longest part of this will be toasting the buns.  From start to table in 30 minutes!

Serves 4

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Blackened Fish Sandwich

THE RUB

2 1/4 teaspoons paprika

2 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder

2 1/4 teaspoons onion powder

2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all together and set aside.  Can be done hours or even a couple of days in advance.

THE SANDWICH

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons lime jice, divided

2 avocados, pits removed & roughly mashed

1 teaspoon olive oil

salt to taste

2 Tablespoons butter

4 burger buns, or other soft roll

4  4oz red snapper filets, without skin

canola oil

4 tomato slices

4 lettuce leaves

PUT IT TOGETHER

In another small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of the lime juice, and set aside.

In one more bowl,  mash the avocado with the remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice, olive oil and salt. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. As soon as the butter begins to melt, add the bun bottoms, cut-sides down, and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and bun tops. Wipe the skillet clean.

Season the filets with salt and coat will with the spice rub. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons of canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the fish fillets and cook, pressing down gently on fish with the back of a fish spatula, until the bottom is blackened and the sides begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Flip the fillets and sear until cooked through, another 1½ to 2 minutes.

Lay 1 piece of fish on the bottom of each bun and spoon avocado on top.   Add 1 tomato slice and lettuce on top of the avocado. Add a dollop of the mayonnaise mixture and top with the bun tops.   Serve.

 

 

 

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.