Main Courses · Pasta

Gnocchi with Bacon, Tomatoes & Cream

Inspiration for this came from LCBO, whose recipe included Speck and Taleggio cheese.  Ingredients I have no hope of finding here in PV, so I  switched those ingredients for ones more easily found in my grocery.    If you are unable to find Taleggio, Manchego or Smoked Provolone, you can sub in Fontina or even regular Provolone.

The flavour of the bacon really shines in this dish, so buy your favourite brand to make this.

 

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Gnocchi with Bacon, Tomatoes & Cream

1 Tablespoons olive oil

6 thick-cut slices bacon, cut into 1/2 ‘ pieces

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 springs fresh thyme

1/4 cup red wine

3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup manchego cheese, grated

1/2 cup smoked provolone, grated

2 packs store bought Gnocchi (500 gms each)

In large skillet, over medium heat, cook bacon until nearly crispy.   Be careful not to burn it, you don’t want bacon crunches in this dish.   Remove from pan , set aside and drain all but 2 Tablespoons bacon fat from the pan.

Add onions to bacon fat and cook over medium – high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.  About 10 minutes.  Do not let them brown.  Add tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring for another minute, until tomato paste darkens a bit and garlic becomes fragrant.  Add thyme sprigs, white wine and chopped tomatoes.  Cook, stirring often over high heat for about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil over high heat.

Reduce heat under tomato mixture to very low and add cream and cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted then let simmer slowly while you cook the gnocchi.  Stir in bacon

Break apart the gnocchi and carefully add to the large pot of boiling water.  Cook Gnocchi only until it rises to the surface of the water.  Skim out the cooked gnocchi as it rises to the top of the water with a slotted spoon and add to the tomato cream mixture.

Once all gnocchi has been transferred to the tomato cream mixture, stir the mixture to coat gnocchi.

Pour into serving dish and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

As always, once our Christmas Turkey was picked pretty much down to the bones for turkey sandwiches, after the Big Day, I bagged the carcass and tossed it along with any leftover meat into the freezer, already looking forward to the soup I would eventually make with it.

This soup was inspired by one I made several years back, but as luck would have it, while the memory of great flavours remains with me, the recipe seems to have gotten lost along the way.

Actually not a bad thing, because this version is very tasty.

As a main course it will serve 2 very hungry people or 4 for a light dinner or lunch.

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Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot peeled and diced

1 small sweet potato or, peeled and diced

1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/ 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Madrass)

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek (optional)

2 litres home made Turkey Stock

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey – pulled from carcass after making the stock

1 cup frozen peas

3/4 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

freshly ground pepper

chopped green onion for garnish

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and sweet potato and cook, stirring until onion becomes translucent.  Do not brown.    Stir in ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add curry powder, garam masala and fenugreek (if using), and stir 1 minute, until spices become fragrant.

Add Turkey stock and bring mixture to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until carrot and potato are tender.  Stir in coconut milk, cooked turkey and frozen peas and simmer until heated through.   Add salt and pepper, taste for seasoning.  Sprinkle with chopped green onion for garnish.

Serve immediately with crusty rolls.

 

 

Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Mushroom Fried Rice

Aside from being great with a stir fry or a batch of ginger beef, this makes a great side dish for a pork roast or chops.   Or, toss in a diced chicken breast and you have a complete meal in a bowl (and one pot!)   Cook the rice a day in advance for best results.  If you forgot to cook your rice in advance, you can use warm rice.  The flavours will still be there, but the texture may be a bit mushy.    Inspiration for this dish comes from LCBO Food and Drink Holiday 2017

Mushroom-Fried Rice

4 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper (optional)

4 cups sliced button or brown mushrooms

4 green onions,  sliced – white and  green parts separated, greens sliced and reserved

1 Tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked white rice, cooled

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons sherry

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups roughly chopped spinach, tough stems removed

Sesame oil for garnish

Sesame seeds for garnish

Additional thinly sliced green onion for garnish

In small bowl, combine water, sherry, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Set aside

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a large wok over high heat.  If using chicken, add to wok and stir fry until nearly cooked through.   Using more oil if needed, add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute, just until they begin to soften.  Add 2 more Tablespoons oil, the white parts of the green onions, ginger and garlic.  Stir quickly around in the pan for 1 minute.

Add rice and stir to coat rice with oil, pressing to break up any lumps.  Add sliced green onion tops, stir briefly, then add reserved water/sherry mixture.  stir to combine, season with salt & pepper.  Stir in the spinach until it is mostly wilted, about 30 seconds.

Transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds and sliced green onion over top.  Serve hot.

 

 

Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Lentils with Sausage

This is a tasty budget friendly meal and it is ready in under an hour.  After all the over the top food eaten during the holidays, I am happy for a simpler, lighter meal this week.  For a vegetarian version, skip the sausages and serve over cooked brown rice.

This recipe comes from the Lentil Hunter, and one of my favorite TV personalities, Chef Michael Smith.  Did you know Canadian lentils are shipped world wide?   Awesome!

Lentils with Sausage

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 cloves  garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups green lentils
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
6 Italian sausages
1 baguette
Additional olive oil for drizzling

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Stir gently without browning for about 5 minutes,  the heat will brighten the flavours and colours. Add the tomato and stir a few minutes longer, 10 minutes in total.

Add the lentils and stir for a few moments, evenly coating each seed with a thin film of oil. This will help the lentils stay distinct. Pour in the water and toss in the salt.  Increase heat to high, and, stirring gently, bring the works to a full, furious boil.  Reduce heat, lowering the pace to a slow, steady simmer. Cover and continue cooking until the lentils cook through and tenderize, about 30 minutes.

As the lentils simmer, cook and brown the sausages in frying pan.  When they’re done  transfer the sausages and any liquids or brown bits to the lentils in their pot.  Alternatively, you could simply submerge the raw sausages in the simmering lentils. By the time the lentils are done, the sausages will have cooked through.

Cut the bread into long, thin slices and toast, bake or grill until lightly browned and delicious.

When the lentils are done, serve them with the sausages and crisp bread. Feel free to slice the sausages or simply serve them whole. Drizzle the works with olive oil, too. Enjoy!

© Chef Michael Smith

 

 

Beef · Main Courses

Oven-Braised Beef Short Ribs

One of the best things about going back to Alberta, is of course, THE BEEF!!

I was very fortunate during my last trip home, as we were gifted with the most wonderful beef short-ribs  from the farm of a family friend.  Yes, free range, grass fed, IMG_7138hormone and antibiotic free (Dare I say organic?) Alberta Beef!

As always when I am home, there isn’t a ton of time to be standing over a stove so we skipped the searing and just popped the roaster straight into the oven.  This is a very simple recipe, with the oven doing all the work to bring out the flavour of the meat.  You can fancy it up any way you like, if you are so inclined, by using a rub on the ribs, subbing red wine or beef stock for the water or adding additional vegetables to the braise, but the great thing about this recipe is that is excellent just as written.

I was very happy with the way our simple recipe turned out, and think we did that cow proud with our results.   I turned the leftovers into a Ragu to serve over pasta later in the week.  Predictably, I did not think to take photos of our efforts, but I did find some reasonable likenesses on the good old internet.

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Oven-Braised Beef Short Ribs

5 – 6 lbs beef short ribs

3/4 cup water or beef broth

2 onions, sliced

salt and pepper

Mashed potatoes for serving

Preheat oven to 325F.  Season ribs with salt and pepper and place in large roaster.  Scatter onions over top and add water.  Cover tightly with foil or lid and place on rack in middle of oven.

Check after 3 hours, and add a bit of water  if most of braising liquid has evaporated.

Continue to cook, covered, for another hour, or so, until meat gives no resistance when pierced with a fork.  Remove short ribs to serving platter.  Pour braising liquid through a sieve into a bowl, skim fat and serve alongside the ribs and mashed potatoes.

 

 

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.

 

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.