Tuesday, November 30, 2010

i made meatballs

I finally did it. After hemming and hawing about making them I did it. Granted it took me 2 nights to do it but I did it. I made Molly's meatballs. And sauce. And it was good.

So I made the meatballs on Saturday night and the sauce on Sunday night because it seemed that it would take too long to make it all in one go based on the cooking time when I read through the recipe late on Saturday. So I made the meatballs alongside Saturday night dinner and made the sauce and simmered the meatballs in the sauce on Sunday. It is probably not the way you are supposed to do it but it worked.

Meatballs and Sauce from Molly

1 c fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 c milk
8 oz ground beef
8 oz ground pork
1 c finely grated (microplane) parmesan
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic, minced
500 g linguini
2 - 796 mL cans whole tomatoes in juice, tomatoes squished
1/2 c butter
2 onions, halved
1/2 tsp salt

In a large saucepan add the tomatoes with juice, butter, onions and salt and heat to simmer. Simmer at low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onions. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce to the texture you prefer. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the milk to the breadcrumbs and stir to moisten. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, add the meat, breaking it up with your fingers into small chunks. Add the cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and garlic together and add to the meat.

Squeeze the milk out of the breadcrumbs, adding the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture and reserving the milk. Using your hands like salad servers, briefly mix the meat mixture,

gently until evenly combined. Chill for 15 minutes or up to an hour. Wetting your hands with the reserved milk, form golfball size balls with the meat mixture

 and place the balls into the sauce. All the meatballs should be in a single layer in the sauce.

Heat the sauce to a simmer at medium low heat, cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Cook the linguini in salted water until al dente. Remove the meatballs from the sauce. Add the noodles to the sauce and mix to coat. Serve the pasta with meatballs on top and finely ground parmesan to go on top.

snow day

A few days after our first snowfall of the year, we had a day of falling snow. Late in the afternoon, after we had shovelled the driveway with some help from T and his trucks - we had a snowball fight. T had a bit of trouble with packing the snow into balls, so mostly he would pick up a big hunk of snow and run it at me. After a walk in the snow, and a stop for some warm hot chocolate, I took these pictures. (It started raining the next day and now the snow is mostly gone.)

And it was a perfect night for stewed lentils. Funnily enough, even though I had the cookbook, I didn't start making these until I read this.

Stewed Lentils (from the Barefoot Contessa at Home)

2 tsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 large carrots, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 796 mL can whole plum tomatoes (puree them in a food processor with the juice)
1 c green lentils
2 c vegetable stock
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, lentils, stock and seasonings to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I served this alongside some mashed potatoes to soak up the juices.

a hit and a miss

D's been having stomach troubles of late and was recently diagnosed with GERD. In an effort to solve his gas issues and get away from medication he started googling the other night. Among other somewhat contradictory information, we found lists of foods to avoid with GERD. And right there, at the top of the list, is tomatoes. Now, my people, you know I love cooking casseroles. And usually I use tomato sauce or tomatoes in my dishes. So I was a bit stymied the other night when I tried to make a tomato-less version of what I call mexican lasagna. I tried. I made the veggie sauce with a half an onion (onions aren't the best either), some diced celery, carrots, red pepper, sliced mushrooms, drained black beans, creamed corn (I didn't have any frozen), Yves non-ground round and some stock. It looked odd without the tomato but I carried on - adding a bit of cayenne and lots of cumin.

 Then I made the white sauce - 3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour and 1 c each stock and 2% milk. Now normally to this I add about 1 c of salsa but mine is heavy on the tomatoes so I gave it a miss. So in a greased 9x13 pan, I layered the two sauces, some plain tortillas and some sharp cheddar and shredded parmesan and baked it all at 350 deg F.

Now this part is where it all fell apart because it might have all worked if I hadn't baked it for too long and it got too crispy around the edges. D liked it but I hated it. Sigh. So if you can eat tomatoes make mexican lasagna - and add a jar of your favorite tomato sauce to the veggie sauce and 1 c of salsa to the white sauce - making it pinkish, I know - and then layer with tortillas....and don't bake it for more than 30 minutes and it will work.

On the plus side, I made this cake. It was (and is) delicious. 

Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
pinch of salt

1/2 c soft butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/3 c molasses
1/3 c honey
1 c buttermilk (1 c milk with 1 tbsp vinegar)
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar over medium heat and stir for 4 minutes. Add the salt, stir and pour into a greased cake pan. Lay the apples slices in a ring over the caramel, fitting in all the slices.

Beat the butter until fluffy and light. Add the sugar and beat until well blended and light. Beat the eggs with the molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together. Add the flour and the egg mixtures alternately, blending well after each addition. When all incorporated, pour over the apples.

Bake at least 45-50 minutes (I did 60) at 325 deg F until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes and then invert on a larger plate, in case there are drips.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

boy makes apple cake

It was a stay-at-home type of day - no snow today but cold and windy. So I baked a batch of muffins and did loads (and loads) of laundry. T wanted to bake as well today, so I printed off this recipe while T donned his apron and chef's hat and got out his mixing bowl and measuring cups and spoons and we baked. I held the flour container and the sugar container while T measured out flour and sugar and then dumped into the mixing bowl. He cracked the eggs (with a bit of coaching) and Mummy got the bits of shell out and then T took his piggy wisk and wisked until they were frothy. We peeled (T tried peeling first with his teeth and then with a peeler but in the end Mummy did most of the peeling), then cored and diced the two apples I found in the vegetable bin and one pear. T made sure they were good.

I added the whiskey (the original recipe calls for dark rum) and vanilla when T was focused on the fruit. But he added the fruit to the batter and folded it in

and then we put it in the pan and baked it.

French Apple Cake (with Pear) - adapted from Dorrie via David at David Lebovitz

3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 apples and 1 pear
2 large eggs
3 tbsp whiskey
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a springform pan (mine is 10" which resulted in a wider, thinner cake than the original recipe). Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the sugar, whiskey and vanilla. Add in half the butter and half the flour and whisk well. Add in the remaining flour and butter and mix. Peel, core and dice the fruit into small pieces. Fold the fruit into the batter and mix to coat all the fruit.

Pour into the greased pan and bake for 40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and then undo the springfrom pan and leave the cake on a rack to cool. Sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon over the top of the cake.

scalloped sweet potatoes - version 2

Well, I was pondering what to make for supper tonight when I wrote this post about a dish I made a few weeks ago. And it got me to thinking - I had two sweet potatoes that needed some attention, as well as a few hangers on in the vegetable bin that needed something doing to them pronto. So I made a new version of scalloped sweet potatoes.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Ham (inspired by this recipe from Tasty Kitchen)

2 sweet potatoes
1 cup cubed or shredded cooked ham
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 1/2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk
1/2 c feta, crumbled
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into thick slices. Place the slices into a foil lined pan with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and roast for 30 minutes at 375 deg F.

Meantime heat 1 1/2 tbsp butter over medium heat and add the ham and onion and heat until the onion is soft. Add the celery, carrot, leeks, mushrooms and cook until the leeks are soft and the mushrooms are a bit browned. Add the rest of the butter, flour and milk and stir until a sauce forms. Add the cayenne, mustard and seasoning and stir until bubbly and thick. Stir in the feta.

Layer half the roasted sweet potatoes in a greased casserole dish. Pour half of the sauce over the top and spread somewhat evenly. Top with the rest of the sweet potatoes and the sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 30 minutes at 350 deg F or until golden brown and bubbly. This was delicious!

scalloped sweet potatoes with chard

I saw this recipe over at Tasty Kitchen and made it for Hallowe'en night. I made it ahead and called D to put it in the oven to warm up once shark boy and I were headed home. It was good but a bit bland so next time I'll add more spice to the sauce and maybe roast the potato slices rather than boil them.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Chard (adapted from tasty kitchen)

2 large sweet potatoes, sliced
2 strips of bacon
1 medium onion, sliced
2 1/2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
2 c milk
1 1/4 c parmesan crumbles
1 bunch of chard, stems removed, sliced thinly

Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Steam until fork tender and drain well.

Meanwhile saute the chard in a saute pan until wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside. Slice the bacon into 1/2" slices and heat in a saute pan. Once the fat is rendered, add the onion slices and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the flour and milk and whisk to form a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the wilted chard and distribute evenly through the sauce.

In a greased baking dish (I used a 9x13) form a layer with half of the potatoes. Pour half the sauce over this. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top

and bake at 350 deg F until golden brown and bubbly or about 30 minutes.

hello winter

 Our boy has been waiting 2 years for snow - he loves the idea of snow - snowball fights, building snowforts and snowmen and going sledding. We had a snowy Christmas 2 years ago but last year we didn't get any snow. Apparently it snowed one morning but I was away that morning and where I was it didn't arrive until after I left so I didn't see it- all good with me. But yesterday we woke up to a skim of snow in our garden and snow on our neighbour's grass which meant that there was snow on the soccer field so no soccer for our boy yesterday.

 And no standing on the sidelines freezing for D and I. So we took our boy visiting. And there was snow to play in at his uncle's house which made a boy happy.

And cold. So he had to warm up with warm hot chocolate - perfect!

Meantime it was a perfect day for me to continue crafting. I just got a new order of wool felt in time to make gifties for christmas so I've been working away. First was a charity mouse

- this was a prize in an auction to raise money for our chuch - the tag in the pocket reads - made with love. The potholders and mug cozies are based on patterns in Kata Golda's book.

 - now I just have to whip up some goodies and I'll be on my way - I'm thinking ginger shortbread, maple fudge, and peppermint bark but as I always have grandiose ideas before christmas - I'll see how far I get....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

4 and a half world

T is such a funny boy. In a sweet, crazy, wonderful, little boy way. He is very proud that he is 4 and a half. He tells everyone. I do mean everyone. In line ups, at soccer, at swimming (where he also announces that he's a killer whale), in the park, - you get the picture. He gets so excited about ordinary things which makes our life so much more fun. A couple of weeks ago, we had an unexpectedly glorious fall day (weather forecast had been rain) so we were headed to the park to play and he announced from the back seat "it's a beeyewtiful day." Or when he skids across the kitchen floor on his knees and bounces up and says " that was amazzzzing!" And if he bumps into the cupboard while doing it, he bounces up and says "I'm ok. I'm not hurt." Last week there was a huge rainbow that I followed all the way to pick up T and the kids at daycare were so excited when I told them there was a rainbow - they all stood in the doorway watching it. T tried to watch it all the way home - until it was covered by a cloud. And every night now he gets excited to see the moon. He's not so crazy about it being dark early. "Why are the days getting shorter?"

Tonight he told me the dog could not sleep on his bed. The dog was only allowed to sleep on his sleeping bag. We don't have a dog. T asks for one all the time. As in "why don't we have a dog yet?" We tell him our cat is anti dog and she's old and wouldn't appreciate a new addition to the family. She's still getting used to me. So then he tries to talk us into getting a bunny. A nice, soft bunny. "Wouldn't that be fun mummy?"

We got a Max and Ruby movie from the library a couple of weeks ago. T thinks Max is funny and tricky. So he says to me " mummy, if Max lived in our world, me and him would be friends because we're both tricky and we both like chocolate and trucks." Ah - the essence of friendship!

And then there is the soundtrack. Lately he's been singing "yellow submarine" and "it's a long way to tipperaree" - and when he first sings them he is astonished to find that D and I know the words. And as Christmas is coming the other day in the car I got the kid version of "jingle bells" - the one about batman and robin....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

mustard roasted chicken thighs

I made this again the other night as I came across a big bag of chicken thighs when excavating the freezer. I've been trying to cook through the freezer, as my sister-in-law calls it - that is using freezer ingredients for dinner instead of running out to the grocery store all the time. After all, that is the reason for stocking the freezer, to preserve the essence of the season, and take advantage of sales, etc and eat the food. D loves chicken and T will now eat tiny (he calls them mouse bites) morsels occasionally and let's face it, a big bag of chicken thighs frees up quite a bit of freezer real estate. So I went back to Luisa's recipe for mustard roasted chicken thighs - easy and delicious. I forgot the smearing of herbs but did season with salt and pepper - I also forgot the melted butter topping but it all worked out.

Here's how I did it - adapted slightly from the Wednesday Chef

1 bag chicken thighs (I think I had 9)

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Coat each side of the chicken with about 1/2 tbsp of mustard (I used dijon) per thigh. Place into a greased baking dish, skin side up. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top -

here Luisa suggests panko crumbs but I've used regular bread crumbs and gluten free bread crumbs (made from a failed attempt at gluten free bread which yielded very fine gluten free bread crumbs so all was not lost!) and the finer crumbs worked the best. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 deg F. This last time I sprinkled a bit of parmesan over the chicken about 5 minutes before removing from the oven. Yum.

Here it is, served with panade.

Friday, November 12, 2010

chard and gruyere panade

I made this a while ago and have been meaning to write about it ever since. I'd never heard of a panade before and had no idea what one was. I read about it on Tea and Cookies which pointed me to Molly's recipe. Molly always writes so eloquently and made this sound intriguing, given the simple ingredients - onions, bread, oil, stock, chard and cheese. I had high hopes for this recipe given both glowing reviews.
We did like it but for me, it was just too rich. The two cups of cheese put it over the top for me and in the end I couldn't even manage the leftovers. In the end (because I hate to waste food) and D had eaten it leftover once, I stirred it into a savory bread pudding, so it became all the cheese and about 1/3 of the vegetables and bread in that dish. If I make it again, I will only use about half the cheese and possible 1/3 of the oil as I think both contributed to my issues with it. (It should be noted here that I have a problem with over rich food mainly as a result of having no gallbladder - it was removed years ago but I still have issues with some things).

If you would like to try it - and it does slurp deliciously here is how I made it:

2 onions, thinly sliced
About ½ cup olive oil
2 tsps minced garlic
1 lb Swiss chard, thick ribs removed, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
10 oz day-old chewy artisan bread, cut into rough 1-inch cubes
2 cups good-quality chicken broth
About 2 loosely packed cups good-quality Swiss gruyère

Place the onions in a large, saute pan, and add about ¼ cup olive oil. Cook until the onions have some colour, reduce the heat to low, and stir in the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender or about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place handfuls of chard in a large sauté pan, sprinkle with water and a few pinches of salt. Stir the leaves until they are just wilted, a few minutes. Set aside. Using your hands, toss the cubed bread with 2 Tbs olive oil, ¼ cup of the broth, and a few pinches of salt.

Using an ovenproof pan, assemble the panade in layers. Start with a good dollop of onions, followed by some bread cubes, a thin layer of onions, a layer of chard, and a handful of cheese. Repeat, continuing until all ingredients are incorporated and the dish is full. Aim for 2 layers or more of each ingredient.

Bring the remaining 1 ¾ cups broth and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Pour the warm liquid slowly, over the assembled panade, pouring it down the sides of the dish. The liquid should come up nearly to the top of the layers. Bring the panade to a simmer, with bubbles around the edges. Cover the top of the dish with parchment paper, and very loosely cover the top again with aluminum foil. Place the panade on a baking sheet to catch drips, slide it into the oven, and bake it until hot and bubbly, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. The top should be pale golden and a bit darker on the edges.

Uncover the panade, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and leave for another 10-20 minutes, until brown. Let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

stuffed shells

I read Molly's article in Bon Appetit on making the perfect meatballs when the issue came out. A week or so ago I was reminded of the article by someone at work talking about making meatballs. So I came and searched out the article and was planning on making the meatballs for supper Hallowe'en night until I realized it was Hallowe'en night and it wasn't really condusive to eating on the run. Well, it would be if I made everything in advance and then just heated it up and cooked the spagetti. Anyway long story short, I still haven't made the meatballs and the meatball meat has been frozen into blocks in the overstuffed freezer. But the thought of pasta has logged itself in my brain so we've had it a bit in the last couple of weeks. So a couple of weekends ago, when we had been planning on going out for dinner but that fell through, I rummaged through my cupboards and came up with a box of giant pasta shells. And inspired by Ree's recent recipe, I returned to a classic from my teenage years, when this was in regular rotation on the night's I cooked.

1 tub (500 ML) ricotta cheese
1 bag baby spinach
1 egg
2 tsps roasted garlic
grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 c grated mozarella
1/3 c parmesan crumbles

1 jar favorite marinara sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
handful of mushrooms, sliced

~ 24 cooked giant pasta shells

Cook the pasta  shells in salted water. Saute the spinach until wilted. Once wilted, drain well and squeeze as much of the water out as possible. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, garlic, cheeses and seasoning.

 In the saute pan, add 1-2 tsp of olive oil and saute the onion and mushrooms until tender, then add the marinara sauce. Simmer and season as desired. Into a greased 9x13 casserole dish, pour about 1/2 c of the marinara sauce and spread somewhat evenly over the bottom. Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture - a largish tablespoon of filling per shell. Place each shell into the dish, nestled into the sauce. Once all the shells are filled, pour over the rest of the marinara sauce and then sprinkle with more cheese. Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a rare sighting

T has been working his way through a number of Hallowe'en costume ideas since last Hallowe'en. Last year he was a monster truck. He started off with astronaut (and I thought - great, that'll be easy to do) and moved on through batman, dump truck, and other things I don't remember anymore and about 2 months ago he came up with the idea of being a shark. A great white shark. With big teeth. So I waited for him to move on and he didn't. A couple of weekends ago we shot off to the fabric store to find some shark costume stuff - grey and white fleece and some foamcore from the arts and crafts store. In a meeting at work one day, I doodled a pattern after a search on google yielded one out of print pattern. Then last Tuesday at the supper table T said, "Mummy, it's our Hallowe'en party on Thursday and I need you to make us something yummy to eat" at which point D and I looked at each other and went - "you/I need to make his costume!". So Tuesday night I made the tunic and attached one white tummy bib, 2 flippers (arms), 1 tail fin and 1 dorsal fin. I cut out a hood

and Wednesday night I attached foamcore teeth, eyes and gills and made a small orange fish and attached it to the shark's mouth.

 Thursday morning the fish was removed by T because it didn't have eyes. And when I went to pick him up at daycare I discovered he'd removed most of the shark teeth "because they were broken". Grrr. And then T told me they were having another party the next day and he wanted another costume for that. And when we got home he said he wanted to go trick or treating as a caterpillar. So I told him he better get busy making his caterpillar costume. After a bit he reconsidered things. And decided he would go as a monster truck again. In the end he didn't wear a costume to his Friday party and on Sunday morning I asked him if he wanted me to fix the teeth on his shark costume. So I made new felt teeth and he was happy to be a shark again. I took him to the local mall for a quick trick or treating session and then we met up with his little pal C (big green butterfly) and they went on a running tour of their neighbourhood until they collapsed with thirst and hunger and exhaustion - those candy bags were heavy!

And on the way home, T announced he would go trick or treating as a shark forever! So maybe there will be another sighting of the rare Horseshoe Bay shark next year.