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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spatchcock Turkey - The Best Way to Cook a Turkey!

Spatchcock Turkey for Thanksgiving

How would you like to cook a 10 pound turkey in an hour?  I'm not a crackpot. It is possible!  I hardly believe it myself but this is one of the best turkeys I've ever had.  

I've talked about my admiration for The Food Lab before.  The great thing about this series is that it determines the best way to cook a dish and explains the reasons for its findings.  This is the best way to cook a turkey quickly if you want crispy skin but don't care about presenting a whole bird to carve at the table.  Tableside carving has always seemed silly to me, so this method is perfect.  And actually, I thought it looked pretty nice just out of the oven.  

onions, celery, parsnips & thyme

First you need some aromatics to provide some moisture and flavour under the bird. You can use parsnips or carrots, plus some onions, celery and thyme sprigs.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pork and Plantains with Cilantro Pesto

I used to hate cilantro, but I'm becoming much more tolerant of it.  This pesto works really well with the pork and plantains and the cliantro adds a fresh, tasty kick in this interesting dish adapted from Clean Eating magazine.

Plantains were easier to find than I expected.  I thought I might have to go to the Asian grocery store, but my regular supermarket had them in stock right by the bananas.  Plantains are shaped just like bananas but are much firmer and starchier.  They need to be cooked before eating.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Here's a full meal all in one.  You can use leftover cooked rice or cook rice specially for the recipe.  

Here's what you need:

1 large or 2 small acorn squash.
1 carrot
1 shallot or small onion
1 celery stalk
1/2 pound ground chicken or ground pork
1 apple
1.5 cups cooked rice (I used a brown and wild rice blend)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons butter

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chicken Drumsticks in the Oven

You know we love chicken drumsticks, but the weather hasn't been cooperating lately for barbecuing.  

One of the treats I received from Nordic Ware is a Chicken Leg Griller that fits on the barbecue or in the oven and  makes cooking drumsticks indoors much easier.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Guinness Pot Roast

This was our St. Patrick's Day dinner.  I wanted to make something with Guinness so I adapted this Epicurious recipe for short ribs but used pot roast instead.  I loved the curry spice mixture and the beef turned out beautifully.

I'm attending the Food Bloggers of Canada conference in April and a nice perk is getting to try out some new products.  Nordic Ware sent me some cookware to try.  This braiser pan looks similar to my beloved enameled cast iron pot, but is a little shallower and much, much lighter.  The interior is non-stick and the pan is light enough to easily lift out of the oven even when full.  It worked great for this recipe.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Green Chili Mac & Cheese

This was a quick and easy dinner. Not the healthiest thing I’ve ever made but it sure was tasty!
Matt is not the world’s biggest fan of homemade macaroni and cheese. I can see his point; it can be clumpy, stringy and dry when baked. This is the first time I’ve tried making it with evaporated milk and it was super creamy and delicious. Definitely a winner. 

Adapted from a recipe on Serious Eats, you can add/subtract just about anything to this to suit your tastes. The original recipe called for chicken but I made it without and added some Rotel (diced, spiced tomatoes) and corn. 
Here’s what you need:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Guinness Chocolate Pudding

We didn't do much to celebrate our Irish heritage today except drink some stout and Irish cider and put Guinness in all our food.  For dinner, Guinness-braised pot roast with mashed potatoes.  For dessert, Guinness chocolate pudding in mini beer glasses.

Luckily, due to Matt's beer habit/hobby we have lots of little beer sample glasses and they were perfect for this dessert.  

I halved the recipe on Epicurious and ended up with 3 full servings and one small serving that was badly poured with too much "foam". 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

This recipe comes from The Food Lab on Serious Eats.  I love this column; it has illuminated so many cooking techniques for me. The author tries many different methods until he gets the perfect result.  This might not be a 100% authentic dish, but it is 100% delicious.  

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Carne Adovada is a dish from New Mexico.  It's pork stewed in a sauce made from dried chilies.  It's not terribly spicy but you get such a rich, warm heat from the chilies and spices.  The combination of chilies actually makes it taste a little chocolatey.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Home Made Corn Tortillas

Make your own corn tortillas

This adventure came about completely by accident.  I had a meal planned that called for corn tortillas and I was planning to pick them up at the grocery store, but after trying two different stores, corn tortillas were nowhere to be found.  I did find instant masa though, and figured I could make my own tortillas.  

Masa and tortilla press

I ordered a tortilla press online and got to work!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Beer Baron: Le Chimay à la Bière

Here's a guest post from Matt, the beer expert.  

On Saturday, we decided to have lunch at the Covent Garden Market downtown so we could see them setting up for the World Figure Skating Campionships and pick up a few things at the market for Jen's carne adovada tacos. While Jen was off looking for dried chiles, I was at SmithCheese picking up some queso fresco when I happily stumbled across some Chimay cheese, specifically their Le Chimay à la Bière.

Now, to back up a step or two, Chimay is a Belgian Trappist brewery, one of only eight Trappist breweries in the world. The monks at these monasteries truly do God's work, brewing some truly wonderful beers. In fact, Chimay Bleue / Blue, which is technically Chimay Grande Réserve but is known as Blue because of its blue-coloured label, was probably the first beer that truly showed me how utterly wondrous beer could be.

So, did I pass up the chance to buy cheese made by honest-to-goodness monks to pair with one of my all-time favourite beers? Sacre bleu. I most certainly did not.

I'd been saving this bottle of Chimay Blue for about two years. For you non-beer geeks out there, don't try this with your Bud Light. Chimay Blue is bottle conditioned, which means there is still active yeast in the bottle, which also means it can be aged and the fermentation continues in the bottle. Science! Thankfully, the LCBO is possibly going to be getting more Chimay Blue this spring, so I didn't feel too guilty popping open my bottle for this tasting.

How to describe Chimay Blue? Have you ever picked fresh apricots during a golden sunset with Rachel Weisz (or Daniel Craig) and then had those apricots with a caramel fondue that is warm and lightly spicy but also light and delicate? No? Neither have I but that is what Chimay Blue tastes like.

As for the Le Chimay à la Bière cheese, it was washed with Chimay beer (not necessarily Chimay Blue) and has some similar apricot notes to the beer. However, it is also quite salty and wonderfully creamy, which is a nice contrast to the beer's sweetness as well as a nice complement to the beer’s mouth feel.

In the end, it is no surprise that the monks who make one of the better Trappist beers in the world also make a cheese that is not only fantastic on its own but also a perfect accompaniment to their beer. Cheers!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Orange Muffins with Chocolate Granola

If you wake up this weekend with nothing in the house for breakfast and a craving for muffins, you could do worse than this recipe!  

I love baking but I don't do a ton of it because there's very limited need for baked goods in a two-person household that's trying to eat healthy and rarely eats dessert.  

This recipe is adapted from the Joy of Cooking which is a terrific resource for baking.  You probably have most of these ingredients on hand, or ingredients for some other muffin variation.  Here's what you need:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Roasted Beet Salad with Blood Oranges & Beet Greens

My fantastic husband made this salad for me and it was delicious!  The recipe came from the always reliable Epicurious.

Here's what you need:

3 large beets with beet greens attached
2 large oranges
1 small onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 cup crumbled chevre (soft goat's cheese)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Roasted Turkey Drumsticks & Thighs

I do love roast turkey, especially dark meat. It's easy to find cheap drumsticks and thighs in the grocery store and they roast much, much quicker than a whole bird.  

First I placed some carrots, parsnips and onions in the bottom of the roasting pan.  They give the turkey some flavour and the turkey gives them a ton of flavour.  

I sprinkled the turkey pieces with a little oil, salt, pepper and sage.

Then I roasted the turkey pieces at 400 degrees for about an hour until they registered 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.  You can leave them a little longer because dark meat doesn't dry out as much as white meat.

I served the turkey with the roasted carrots, onions and parsnips, roasted Brussels sprouts, and my favourite turkey side dish...


Tasty, cheap and easy. This is a nice change from roast chicken in about the same amount of time.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Short & Sweet Sunday - Smoked Duck Salad

The Western Fair Farmers & Artisans Market in London is a great place to find interesting local products.  I found this smoked duck breast at Saucy Meats & More, which sells local meat and game.  

thinly sliced the smoked duck breast over some organic greens from the market.

I  made some smaller, bite-sized slices too.

Then I whipped up a vinaigrette with some cherry juice, dijon mustard, honey, white wine vinegar and olive oil.  It was a great complement to the duck.

The smoked duck tasted almost like bacon and was so tasty.  Some nuts or pepitas sprinkled over top would be a nice touch, but just the duck and greens together with the vinaigrette was lovely.