Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Oysters on the Half Shell, Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Loaded Yorkies, and Banoffee Pie

I'm really liking having friends around to sample my Tuesday efforts - not to say Mark's not enough, but its great to sit around the table with others, and between courses, have a good chit chat!
This Tuesday I had my girlfriend, Laural, over. I had posted my menu on my Facebook status, and she commented how good it sounded, so I took that as an opportunity to invite her over.
I'm so glad she came, the timing on the Yorkshire puddings was completely off in the original recipe, so she actually saved the main course with her great Yorkie-making expertise! Yay, Lo to the rescue :)

Oysters on the Half Shell


Scrub oysters with a brush under cold running water (do not soak).
Shuck oysters with an oyster knife, cutting the muscle to remove the top shell.
Leave oysters in their shells.
Arrange opened oysters on a platter of crushed ice with lemon.
Do not open oysters more than three hours before consumption. Ideally, they should be opened 15 minutes ahead of time and served over ice on a large oval platter.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup


4 large red peppers
1 tbsp ( 15 mL) olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
2 onions, chopped
3 cups ( 750 mL) chicken broth or bouillon


Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Place whole peppers on a baking sheet and roast, uncovered, about 18 minutes. Turn peppers and continue roasting about 18 more minutes, until skin is blistered. 
Remove from baking sheet and place in a heavy paper bag. Seal bag and let stand until peppers are cool, about 10 minutes. Remove peppers and peel off skins. 
Slice in half and remove seeds. Cut into large chunks and set aside. Refrigerate if making ahead.
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions. Sauté until onions are very soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in roasted peppers and continue cooking until peppers are very soft. 

Add chicken stock. Then whirl in a blender or food processor, using an on-and-off motion, until smooth. Return to saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soup is warm, from 8 to 10 minutes. 

Loaded Yorkies


Yorkshire Pudding (recipe follows)
6 oz (180 g) shaved beef
Red Wine Gravy (recipe follows)
2 oz creamy horseradish
Chives, for garnish

Yorkshire Puddings
½ pint (885 ml) milk
4 oz (125 g – approx ½ cup) flour
Pinch salt
3 eggs
Vegetable oil for muffin tins

Red Wine Gravy
1 tbsp flour
½ cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, mix milk, flour, salt and eggs. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat muffin tin with ½ inch oil in 6 sections.
Divide rested batter into muffin tin. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until crisp and fluffy. Do not open oven door.
Heat the pan the beef was cooked in over medium heat and stir in flour. Deglaze pan with wine and whisk until gravy is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Make a pocket in the centre of the Yorkies and stuff with a couple of slices of beef. Add a dollop of horseradish and drizzle with gravy. Garnish with minced chives.

Banoffee Pie


Pie Crust

1 ⅓ cups (325 ml) All Purpose Flour
½ tsp (2 ml) salt
½ cup (125 ml) Vegetable Shortening, chilled and cubed
3-6 tbsp (45-90 ml) ice cold water


1 can (300 ml) Eagle Brand® Dulce de Leche Caramel Flavoured Sauce
3 large bananas
1 ½ cups (375 ml) whipping cream
2 tbsp (30 ml) Icing Sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Shaved Milk Chocolate for garnish


In food processor, blend flour and salt. Work in shortening until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle 2 tbsp (30 mL) water.
Mix until dough is slightly moist. Add remaining water if needed. Shape dough into a ½” (1.3 cm) thick disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a circle measuring 11” (28 cm). 
Loosely roll dough around rolling pin, and then unroll, easing dough onto a 9” (23 cm) pie plate. Crimp edges. Refrigerate 20 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Remove pie shell from fridge and prick bottom with a fork. Bake 16-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool completely, 20 minutes.
Bring caramel flavoured sauce to a boil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly, cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into baked pie shell. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Cut bananas into ¼” (0.6 cm) thick slices and place over caramel flavoured filling.
Using an electric mixer, beat whipping cream with icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Place cream over bananas and garnish with shaved chocolate.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My Very Own Veggie Lasagna

This is a lasagna I've created myself...I guess I've made enough lasagnas now to know what is basically required.
I've got to say, I must have learnt well, because Mark says this was the best veggie lasagna he's ever had - and he was a veggie for years! 
I might add, at first when I told him it was veggie, he was disappointed -  it had to have been a good one to get such rave reviews!!

So this is what I did...

I started with a bit of olive oil in the pan. Added 1 chopped onion to soften for about 3 minutes. Then added about 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and let cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Next I added 2 grated carrots.

Next I added 1 can of pasta sauce and let simmer for about 5 minutes while I figured out which seasonings to use.
I decided to add 3 cloves of garlic, pressed, 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano and dried parsley.

While the sauce was simmering, I sliced 2 zucchini lengthwise and grilled the for 3 minutes per side on a preheated grill (400 degrees).

I started layering my pan with sauce followed by 3 whole wheat noodles, another layer of sauce and some mozzarella cheese.

Then a layer of grilled zucchini.

And then a layer of cottage cheese and egg mixture and a sprinkle of ground black pepper. 
(I had combined 1 cup of cottage cheese with 1 egg)

Add another layer of noodles and repeat layering.

Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella and a scattering of fresh parsley.

Bake for 30 minutes, covered in a 350 degree oven.
Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Broil for an additional 3 - 5 minutes until golden.
Remove and let rest for about 5 minutes. 

Serve with additional parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner...Roasted Spatchcock Chicken with Grape Sauce, Buttery and Sweet Acorn Squash, Smashed Herbed Potatoes and Mini Classic Apple Pies

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken with Grape Sauce


whole chickens, about 1 kg
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
6 fresh sage leaves
head of garlic
½  kg red seedless grapes


Position racks in centre and lower third of oven. Preheat to 375F. Have a large roasting pan and a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment ready. Wash chicken and pat very dry with paper towels. 
Place breast-side down, on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone from end to end and remove. 
Flip chicken breast-side up, and open like a book. Press firmly on the breastbone with your palm to flatten.
Mix butter with salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Loosen skin of each chicken at neck-cavity end with a finger. Spread 1/2 tsp butter mixture under the skin, reaching in as far as possible. Gently push 2 or 3 sage leaves under skin on each side of breast, keeping leaves flat. 
Rub skin all over with remaining butter mixture.
Arrange chicken  on roasting pan. Slice garlic in half horizontally. 
Place between chickens. Using a potato masher, gently mash half of grapes just until the skins burst, and scatter around chickens. Add remaining whole grapes.
Roast chickens in centre of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165F, about 1 hour. 
Transfer chickens to a cutting board. Cover with foil to keep warm. Remove garlic from pan. Pour mashed grapes and pan juices into a medium saucepan. Squeeze in garlic. Reserve some whole grapes. 
With hand held blender, puree mixture. 
Add whole grapes. Gently boil.
Cut chicken into portions and serve with grape sauce.

Buttery and Sweet Acorn Squash


1 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar


Turn acorn squash upside down onto a cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 oven until it begins to soften, approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove squash from the oven and turn onto a plate so that the flesh is facing upwards. Place butter and brown sugar into the squash, and place remaining squash over the other piece.
Place squash in a baking dish (so the squash wont slide around too much) while baking.
Place squash in the 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven and bake another 30 minutes.
Scoop roasted squash into a bowl and mix well. 

Smashed Herbed Potatoes


1 kg large Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Quarter potatoes and rinse.
Cover with cold water in a pasta pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until fork-tender, about 25 min.
Whisk oil with Dijon and salt in a large bowl.
Drain potatoes and cool slightly. Break up into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon and stir into oil mixture along with parsley. Serve warm.

Mini Classic Apple Pies


Pie crust

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ to ½ cup ice water
1 egg yolk


4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 6 cubes


To make the crust, blend the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
With the processor running, slowly pour in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. Do not overprocess. Remove the dough from the processor and mix by hand until well blended.
Roll out the dough to ¼" thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut six 6" circles from the dough.
Set the remaining dough aside to decorate the tops of the pies as desired. Press each circle into the bottom and up the sides of a 4" ramekin.
Refrigerate until ready to fill. Preheat the oven to 425°F. For the filling, combine the apples, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.
Spoon the pie filling evenly into the prepared ramekins and top each pie with a cube of butter.
Cover with the remaining dough and decorate as desired. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until juices begin to bubble.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until juices begin to bubble.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Vegan Southwestern Salad and Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

A pseudograin, quinoa is actually the seed of a plant closely related to spinach, beets and chard. It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from orange to black, purple, pink and white, but red and transparent yellow are the two most widely available varieties. Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s rich in magnesium and manganese, and also contains significant levels of dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins E and B-2. Because it’s wheat and gluten-free, quinoa is an ideal choice for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance.

Southwestern Salad

2-4 cups chopped romaine lettuce or leafy green of choice 
1 serving red quinoa cooked and chilled (1/4 cup dry) 
½ cup black beans 
½ cup corn 
½ cup jicama, sliced 
½ cup red pepper, chopped 
1 small tomato, chopped 
2 Tbsp red onion, diced 
1 avocado

For the dressing :
1/4 of a 10oz container of soft silken tofu, drained 
1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
1/2 tsp minced garlic 
½ tsp mustard 

To cook Quinoa:
Measure the amount of red quinoa you’d like to cook. Pour the seeds into a fine-mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse them under cold running water, lightly rubbing the seeds with your fingers.
Taste a seed once you’ve finished rinsing them. If it has a bitter taste, continue rinsing them until any bitterness is gone.
Measure your cooking liquid, which is twice the grain measurement. For example, 1 cup of quinoa requires 2 cups of liquid. You can use plain water or, for added flavor, vegetable, chicken or beef stock.
Place the rinsed quinoa and the liquid together in a saucepan large enough to accommodate the amount you’re making. Much like rice, quinoa expands as it absorbs the liquid. A 1-1/2 qt. saucepan is ample enough to cook a cup of quinoa.
Set the saucepan over medium heat. Stir the quinoa a couple of times as the water comes to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer. Stir the contents once or twice before covering the pan.
Cook the seeds until they absorb all the liquid, or about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When red quinoa is done cooking, it looks soft, and the germ ring along the outside edge of the seed becomes visible and separates slightly.
Serve immediately or allow the quinoa to cool before storing it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to five days.

Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
·         1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 cup white sugar
·         1/4 cup cocoa powder
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1/3 cup vegetable oil
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
·         1 cup water

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2.    Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
3.    Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25  minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
I added 1/2 cup chocolate chips and shredded coconut

For a vegan 'buttercream' frosting I mixed together 1/4 cup softened margarine, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and about half a tablespoon soymilk or enough to make the consistency spreadable.