Monday, August 31, 2009

Magazine Monday #46: Bean & Barley Salad

Before we get to my recipe selection for this week, answer me this simple question: which of these things is not like the other:Yeah, one of my 8 or 9 bean plants is producing green beans. They are tough and stringy and not very good - obviously the product of a bad seed. Hmph.

Anyhoo, let's get onto today's MM recipe. Since I have beans coming out of the old wazoo, I have to start getting creative with how I use them, or else I'll become bored very easily. So, I found this recipe in Canadian Living's July 2009 issue while looking for a side dish to serve with the huckleberry pork loin I made.

Recipe here.

I made a few substitutions. I used spinach instead of arugula and I used cider vinegar instead of the white wine vinegar. All in all, this was a great salad! Light, hearty, nourishing, nutritious - a huge hit. Definitely a keeper!

Also joining me this week:

Cathy of Accountants Can Cook? made a roasted cauliflower risotto from Canadian Living's most recent issue.

Andreas of Delta Kitchen made an absolutely mouthwatering Chanterelle Carbonara from German magazine Essen & Trinken.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Some Simple Bread, Award, MM Shout Out

Well, it's cooled off - thank God! I can now get back to some regular bread baking.

This week, I needed something quick & simple so I chose a recipe I use every so often from my Le Cordon Bleu: Complete Cook cookbook. I love this book; it's my go-to book for basic French stuff & simple, traditional baking.

You can find the recipe in this post. I subsituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the bread flour, but otherwise everything is the same. I decided to treat myself to a braided loaf.
Which I topped with an egg wash & sesame seeds...
And here is the finished product:
I realized while making this how much I miss making my own bread, and how satisfying this is for me. So, bring on the fall!

And now, another award! This time from Girlichef who has an awesome blog that contantly makes me want to drool! She gave me this "Tasty Blogger" award, for which I am most grateful! I try to be as tasty as possible, trust me. Thank you, Girlichef!

Finally, just a reminder that I am still hosting Magazine Mondays, and if you have a magazine recipe you've recently made and posted, send me an email at wandering_coyoteATyahooDOTca, and I'll post your link in my MM post on Monday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lunch at The Rush

Yesterday my brother and I got together for lunch, and this time he wanted to go somewhere else for a change, as we usually go to the Sunshine Cafe. He suggested The Rush.

The Rush is a coffee shop located in the Prestige Hotel, and it serves sandwiches and a small selection of very good baking in addition to its coffee menu. It's owned by the guy who runs Adrenaline Adventures, a local tour & transportation company. I'd been there for lunch once and it was very good, I just can't remember what I had; I just remember the chocolate peanut butter bar - outstanding. The last time was when my friend J was here and she treated me to a chocolate peanut butter bar for my birthday. These bars are TO DIE FOR. They are unbaked and gloriously awesome. They are also $3.25.

After considerable deliberation on my part, I opted for the Chunkanini Panini: chunks of chicken, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic aoli. DIVINE! It was huge, delicious - almost sinfully so - and totally hit the spot. It goes for $7.95 and was totally worth it.
My brother had the Chicken Caesar Wrap, which was also huge and filling and he loved it.
I think The Rush officially has the best sandwiches in town.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake for a Crowd

On Monday at work, I got to make dessert again for the residents. I knew I would be doing this the week before, when I made the strawberry-rhubarb crumble (which was a HIT with the residents, BTW!) and I came across a 2.5kg bag of frozen strawberries languishing in the freezer. I told the cook I'd think about it for a week and come up with some way to use the berries on Monday. I turned over various ideas in my mind, but eventually came up with something simple and within budgetary requirements: chocolate strawberry shortcakes.

I made the biscuit recipe before, here, and knew it to be a reliable, good recipe, as are most that come from Canadian Living. I needed 29 desserts, not of huge size, and so I doubled the recipe and got what I needed from it.

A word about cocoa powder: not all cocoa powders are created equally! Since the organization I work for is non-profit, there is a strict ingredients budget to work around, so the priority is not high quality cocoa powder. The cocoa I used in this particular dessert was the Wally World el cheapo brand, and it has a greyish hue. Hence the biscuits are not terribly chocolatey-looking or -tasting. But they were OK for this crowd.
For the filling, I used the entire bag of strawberries, thawing them out first and slicing them in half. In a large pot, I mixed the berries, their juices, some lemon juice, nutmeg, and about 2 cups sugar. I brought the whole thing to a boil and simmered for a little while...
...When the berries had cooked down a bit, I skimmed out some of the juices and made a slurry with a few TBSP of cornstarch. After the filling had thickened, I took it off the stove to cool.

The final result - fabulous!

The staff, including bosses, were really happy, so I hope the residents are, too. I tried this one and it was really, really good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Huckleberry Pikelets

As you might have read, I have an abundance of huckleberries kicking around my freezer and I'm looking for new and interesting things to do with them. I came across a post by Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast, a fellow BC foodblogger, featuring blueberry pikelets, and my interest was piqued. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I went down and made them immediately.

For an explanation on pikelets, you can read Bellini Valli's information about this treat here. I also found an interesting article on pikelets here, baking up Bellini's assertion that there are a lot of contradictions around these things. The Hub UK site has a recipe for pikelets that uses yeast, and this seems far more crumpet-like to me than the recipe I used. I grew up in a pretty British household, but had never heard of pikelets before; I must ask my dad if he remembers them.

The pikelet batter I used, got from Bellini's site here, was very much like a pancake batter, though slightly thicker. Initially, I didn't use rings because I didn' think they would be necessary, but I had a bit of a disaster with my first batch that made me rethink that strategy. I then unpacked my English muffin rings, buttered them well, and had far better results.

These are, essentially, a thick pancake. They were wonderful! Not terribly exciting or exotic, as the name might suggest, but they were certainly yummy. Thanks Bellini Valli!

Full Flickr set here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Magazine Monday #46: Lemony Potato Salad

I love potato salad - it's one of my summertime favourites. Why I only eat it in the summer is a very good question indeed. Perhaps I need to change that.

Anyway, this recipe from Gourmet's July 2009 issue caught my eye because of it's simplicity and the fact that it uses lemon. I also love lemon!

The recipe is here.

Because I have a ton of dill growing in my garden, I added about 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill - and this salad was superb. I served it for a family BBQ and it was a huge hit. Definitely a keeper recipe from Gourmet!

Joining me in trying out magazine recipes this week are:

Paninigirl made a luscious Berry Tart with Marscapone Cream from an old issue of Gourmet.

Andreas of Delta Kitchen made Chili Pasta from a German magazine called Lecker.

Bobbi of Bobbi's Art made a beautiful watermelon & cuke salad from the most recent issue of Gourmet.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Your Favourite Food Questions

I saw this over at my friend Cal's place and thought I'd take it up, as it's a relevant subject to a food blog!

What food makes you sick? Well, sick as in makes me want to puke: Fresh peas. But I'll eat split pea soup - different peas, you see. Steak & kidney pie is also rather vomit-inducing, as is any organ meat really. My dad gets a steak & kid pie for his birthday each year and it smells like ass and the odour makes me want to gag.

What is a food habit that you can't stand? WTF is up with people who put ketchup on every freakin' thing? It's disgusting! And rarely do they taste the food first to see if it even requires ketchup (and the lists of food upon which ketchup is acceptable, IMO, is small). Also, I was raised in a pretty traditional British household and we were not allowed, under pain of a smack, to crush crackers into our soup. And we never did. And I to this day I still DO NOT GET IT! Why would you do that to your soup? It really revolts me!

What food habit did your sister/brother used to have growing up that you couldn't stand? My brother Rob was an onion hater & it was almost a phobia. He had to pick everything apart to inspect it for traces of onion. My mom pureed onions and put it into stuff and he'd still pick it apart! Once, she told him there was no onion in a spaghetti sauce but that it had a lot of oregano in it, and he sat there picking the oregano out.

What food cracks you up? Count Chocula. The name says it all.

What vegetable couldn't you live without? Onions.

Food gadgets you remember as a child? One of those woks you had to place on a metal ring on your stove's element. Things have come a long way, baby.

Food that was hidden, then discovered on the top shelf of your room? None. Never had food in my room. Even now - no food comes into my bedroom.

Without mentioning robots, how do you think cooking in the future will be better? God only knows. I'm pretty happy to have a George Foreman grill.

What is an annoying thing that bothers you about men and food? This question makes me have to generalize and I hate doing that.

Food you once projectile vomited after being wasted? Ummmm...I've never projectile vomitted after being wasted. But when I put my back out in Feb. 2004, necessitating Percocet, which I am allergic to because it's related to opiates but the pharmasist assured me I'd be OK, I ate a frozen pizza because I was so housebound and the reaction was...well, projectile. Yeah. I couldn't eat pizza of any kind for a long time after that.

What would be your last meal? Tough question. Really tough question. Sushi? Chinese food? Pizza & chocolate ice cream? Bacon-wrapped filet mignon? I just don't know!

OK, my question:

What is your funniest family food memory? My brother Rob, the onionphobic, was once assigned by Dad the chore of squirting weed killer on our lawn's dandelions and other weeds. He was about 12 at the time. He did the dandelions and whatever else, and then decided to take his pent up anger out against our rhubarb plant by dousing it with weed killer. He is the only rhubarb hater in the family and I think he was very resentful that my mom made so many killer crumbles etc. with this plant that he saw an opportunity to get rid of it and went a little crazy. It was a massacre. It was ugly. My mom was furious, my dad was furious, I was furious, and Jem was indifferent as he was 8 years old. The rhubarb plant died a horrid death that year, but luckily we were not SOL because our neighbour had a huge plant, too, so we just used that (she didn't mind & we shared the baking with her sometimes). BUT - our rhubarb plant came back the next year! It lived! In fact, it flourished! And...we harvested it. And I wonder if I'll get cancer because of that. Damn you, Rob!

Saturday Laugh

Friday, August 21, 2009

Always Read the Fine Print!

Here is the label off of a seedless watermelon I bought recently. I though it was hilarious that a piece of fruit would come with fine print! This particular watermelon had one black seed in it - good thing I read the disclaimer, eh? I guess they are trying to avoid lawsuits or tons of returns if someone finds a seed. Hm.

Alrighty folks - get out the untried magazine recipes you've been hoarding and allowing to take up precious space in your recipe collections and test them out! Post the results and email them to me at wandering_coyoteATyahooDOTca and I'll post your link in my Magazine Monday post on Monday!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crumble - Commercial Style

Because we were missing muffin ingredients at work the other day, I got to make dessert for the residents instead of baking for the hospital. While I was looking for blueberries for blueberry muffins - only to find we were out, and I had the batter all ready to go...that'll teach me to make sure I have all my ingredients before starting a recipe - I came across huge amounts of frozen rhubarb & strawberries at the very bottom of the freezer. These were left over from when we made the Fruit Full muffins, which we're no longer doing because they weren't selling well. Since the cook didn't have a dessert planned for the evening's dinner yet, I offered to make a crumble. Off I went!

There are about 36 people to cook for at this place, but the portions tend to be smaller because they're all seniors. I didn't measure anything in this recipe except for the sugar and I suspect I used about 12 - 14 cups of frozen rhubarb and strawberries.
Into the fruit I put cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, the sugar, and a whole bunch of cornstarch. Like I said, I didn't measure.

I made the crumble in a large roasting pan...
I think I made way too much crumble. In the crumble mixture, I put oats, flour, brown sugar, the same spices as in the fruit, and about 1.5 cups of butter. It made a lot. I hope the seniors like their crumble!As a safeguard, I baked the crumble on a baking sheet, which is always a good idea in case your filling bubbles over and you get a mess on the bottom of your oven. As the filling bubbled up, I stuck a spoon in and tasted some of the boiling juice and it was...really good. The cook was happy, I was happy, I hope the seniors are happy. It was my only taste as my shift ended before the crumble came out of the oven, but I'm confident it'll go over well. I'll find out next time I go in!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunch at The Hume Hotel

Another week, another trip to Nelson to take advantage of Save-On Foods' weekly specials. Which also means a lunch out with my most constant dining partner nowadays, my dad.

This week, I suggested the Hume Hotel, which has a salad bar I was interested in. My appetite being what it is these days, I needed the flexibility the salad bar had to offer. That, and I really wanted some soup. The salad bar comes with soup of the day, which that day happened to be white bean & chorizo. Not my bag, so I subbed in the French Onion Soup.

Now, if you read this post, you'll see that the Hume has a history, and part of that history for me, involves a spectacular French Onion Soup I had there when I was a kid that had beer in it. To this day, it is the yard stick against which I measure all other French Onion Soups! In fact, my dad is the same - he still rhapsodizes about that soup. I knew, however, from our last lunch there that the recipe had changed and the beery soup was no longer on offer, but the current soup is supposedly made with sherry, as specified in the menu's description.

After having a sampler from the salad bar, my soup finally came. And...
...Well, it was good, but not that good. A bit weak, and not tasting too much of the sherry. It also didn't have very many onions in it. Also - they hadn't taken the bay leaves out and had used small bay leaves, so twice I took a spoonful and chomped down on bay leaves. I was a little annoyed.

My dad had ordered the lasagne, which came with garlic toast and a surprise Caesar salad. The salad was a surprise because the night shift had just come on and they put salad with their dinner entrees, so Dad got lucky.He said the lasagne was really good and enjoyed it very much.

The shift change might explain the slowness of the service. Because it was S-L-O-W.

Dad was full, but I wanted dessert, and I knew that the Hume has a great dessert list. I opted for the lemon meringue pie and was not disappointed at all - except, once again, it took forever to come out. But it was delicious and I realized I hadn't had lemon meringue pie in ages. Yum!
So, while the food was good, the service was iffy. Perhaps they were having an off day. It happens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pork Tenderloin, Starring....Huckleberries!

So this is my first kick at the can using my lovely huckleberry bounty, locally picked by yours truly. I wanted to do something different; muffins are so pedestrian! I whipped this pork tenderloin idea up on my own...divine inspiration out in the berry patch or something... My dad donated the tenderloins, of which there were two, and initially four were supposed to partake in the meal, but then plans fell apart, as they do once in a while. So, I knew there would be a ton of leftovers, I just didn't yet know if that was a good thing or not. Here's how it went.

For the rub:

1/3 cup brown sugar
ginger, cinnamon, allspice, garlic powder, salt & pepper - all to taste (I didn't measure)

For the filling:

1 package (140g) unripened goat's cheese (i.e. not feta), softened
a whole bunch of huckleberries
4 cups of spinach
3 cloves garlic
1tsp or so of the rub mixture

I was going to just put the spinach in raw, but decided against it. In fact, I wasn't going to put any spinach in at all, but I had so much left over from a salad I made that I decided what the hell. When my SIL does pork loin, she usually puts spinach in the stuffing and it's always awesome. Anyhoo, I sauteed the spinach because I wanted to cook the water out of it first. It was worth it to spend the extra few minutes to do this, I think. I sauteed the spinach in olive oil and the garlic.After the spinach was wilted, I added it to the goat's cheese & huckleberries. What I got was not particularly appetizing...But this was an experiment after all, right?Yeah, great colour, eh? At this point I was thinking, Hmmm...was this a good idea? But I soldiered on, and stuffed the tenderloins, after making a cut along the length in order to flatten them out and create a pocket for the filling.After that came the rub...I realized too late I should have rubbed first and filled second, but we live and learn, don't we?

Then, truss truss baby. You can see my blue silicone trussing thingies in this picture. Very cool gadget.Then into a 375F oven, covered with foil for about half an hour, then off with the foil and continue baking until an internal temperature of 180F was reached. And voila...While my meat rested (it took about an hour to cook, and I set my fancy-wancy thermometer with probe 180F so it would beep when the temp was reached) I made a sauce, using, what else? Well, yes, huckleberries, but also POM! The last of my POM (I have one coupon left). This was the one with blueberry juice in it as well.

Pomegranate Huckleberry Sauce

juices from the roasted pork loin
about 1/2 cup POM juice
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
a whole bunch of huckleberries

I dissolved the cornstarch in the POM as the drippings, brown sugar, and ginger came to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the drippings boiled, I added the huckleberries and the POM. I simmered for a few minutes... And forgot to take a pic of the sauce. Sorry. It looked like...blueberry syrup. Use your imagination.

Slicing the tenderloin proved difficult - it was very delicate and the filling so soft that it squished out the sides. This is what I got:Yeah...presentation-wise, I don't think this is a winner.The overall verdict, however: a hit! I loved it right away. Everything went really well together, from the rub on down. The sauce was great. The spinach, however, I could have lived without. It didn't really add any flavour and made the presentation less than stellar. I'd leave it out next time. Additionally, I would use feta cheese the next time, for a couple of reasons. A) I think the flavour contrast between saltiness of the feta and tart-sweet of the berries would be killer. B) It's a firmer cheese and would probably slice & present better than this goat's cheese.

My dad took a bit more convincing. He's not used to having sweet things mixed with his otherwise savoury dishes, and I get that. It's not everyone's cup of tea. He did, however, have seconds, and by the end of the meal, he was converted! He has half of the second loin we didn't even touch for leftovers, as do I. (I served this meal, by the way, with a barley & bean salad that will be the subject of an upcoming Magazine Monday post.)

Definitely a successful experiment! With a bit of tweaking, I might just make this my signature dish! And - I still have a ton of huckleberries frozen for future kitchen experiments!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Magazine Monday #45: Perfect All-Butter Piecrust

Well, this is Monday #1 of my hosting Magazine Mondays! To remind you, Ivonne, our usual host, is away, and in her place I'll be hosting until Sept.14th. So, if you've made a magazine recipe and would like to submit it here to be linked to, please send me an email at wandering_coyoteATyahooDOTca.

So, here is my post for today, and following are links to the post of other Magazine Monday participants.

Despite my training & experience, I'm not a huge fan of making pastry, as I've mentioned before. I've had so many failures it's embarrassing! My go-to recipes are this one from Gourmet and this one (scroll down) from an older cookbook. I make this one at work and it's been fine, though it is made with shortening, something I try to avoid like the plague. I'm always on the look-out for new pastry recipes, however, and I was intrigued by one I found in the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine. Touting itself as "perfect" I was skeptical - until I read the recipe. The butter content is extremely high compared to any other recipes I've seen & used. To 3.5 cups of flour, there is 1.5 cups of butter. Also, this recipe has a higher sugar content than most recipes; in fact, some pastry recipes have no sugar in them at all.

So, on the weekend, I gave this a go, and decided to use it to make a blueberry pie with some blueberries I got on wicked sale and froze a couple of weeks previously.

Food Network's Perfect All-Butter Pastry, from Aug./Sept. 2009

3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chilled butter, cubed
1 tbsp white or cider vinegar
1/3 cup ice water

Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in 1/2 cup butter until combined. Pulse in remaining butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add vinegar. Gradually pour in water, pulsing until combined. Turn out onto a clean surface & press into a cohesive dough without overworking (you should still see bits of butter). Press into a disk & wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out.

If you don't a have a food processor, don't worry. I don't; I used my hands, as I usually do when making pastry, and it was fine.

The dough was lovely! It rolled out beautifully!

The recipe made way more than enough for one pie, though. I got one deep dish blueberry pie and three decently-sized apple turnovers, using up some frozen apples I had from last year's apple harvest.

Here is the pie...
And here are the turnovers...My dad came over for dinner that night, and he sampled a turnover as an appetizer. The first thing he said was that the pastry was amazing, and that he could tell it was very rich with butter. So, I had a sample myself, and he was right: this is amazing pastry, and it is very rich! In fact, this is now my new favourite pastry recipe, I think.

Joining me in testing out magazine recipes this week are:

Wizzy The Stick of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Punch made some gave her hot dogs a makeover by making some gourmet dogs from Bon Appetit magazine.

Debbie of Dining with Debbie made a delicious-looking Brazilian Black Bean Soup from Cuisine at Home.

Paninigirl made a great Zucchini Curry from an issue of Gourmet from 2002.

Di of Di's Kitchen made her version of BBQ Braised Vietnamese Short Ribs with Sweet Vinegar Glaze from an issue of Fine Cooking.

Thanks for participating, you guys!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In Anticipation of Tomorrow...

OK, everyone! Tomorrow sees my stint as host of Magazine Mondays begin, so if you want to join in with your magazine recipe send me an email at wandering_coyoteATyahooDOTca. If you could have the links sent to me by, say 9pm Pacific Time, that would be great. If you don't make the deadline, don't worry at all; I'll just put your link up in next week's post.

Thanks to everyone who's already submitted. The post should go up shortly after midnight!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Shrimp & Pasta Salad

Since my appetite has been all out of whack lately, I've had to resort to making total comfort foods! Terrible! Lots of toast, lots of ham sandwiches, even some ramen noodle soup, which is something I never eat unless absolutely desperate. Then there is pasta. I love pasta. I also have, in addition to all of my beans, a great crop of dill this year. Last year I had two bug-infested plants that gave me very little; this year, I have an entire row of as-yet bug-free dill, and I just love it. I came up with this pasta salad recipe after making a lemony potato salad recipe that will be featured in an upcoming post.

Shrimp & Pasta Salad with Lemon & Dill

1/2 lb short pasta (I used penne)
1/2 lb shrimp, shelled & deveined
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 handful fresh dill, snipped with kitchen shears
3 green onions, sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1/4 cup light mayo
1/4 cup light (7% milk fat) sour cream

1. Cook pasta till al dente in salted water. In the last minute or so of cooking, add the shrimp. I roughly chop my shrimp so they go a bit further, and this cuts down on cooking time, too. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until completely cool.

2. Combine pasta & shrimp with remaining ingredients. Serve.

This was really good, and it'll last me a few days, too, which is just great. It could have used more lemon but that is easily enough improved upon. I just hope I don't lose my appetite for it, too...

Incidentally, I used the POM BBQ sauce from this post last night as stirfry sauce - I just added some cornstarch. MUCH better. Really good, in fact. Hmmm... POM stirfry sauces... Hmmm...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Magical Fruit

This year is not only a bumper crop year for huckleberries, but my 8 bean plants appear to be on some kind of manic growing spree that is providing me with about 86 bazillion yellow wax beans. I am already sick of the sight of them. Yesterday alone I picked 1.25kg of the suckers, which is about 2.75lbs. It was the third picking - and there are so many more on the way.

The whole point of this garden is to help feed myself without depending on the grocery store, so obviously I had to do something to preserve my bean crop since becoming bored with them & letting them just rot on their stems would be counter-productive. So, I blanched & froze.

Bear in mind that I have no idea what I'm doing, OK?

Blanching involved boiling for a short period of time and then immediately plunging the veggie into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The goal is to break down the cell walls of the veggie so that when the veggie is frozen, the water in the cells doesn't crystallize and expand, then rupture the cell walls, which is what causes a veggie to go mushy upon thawing.

So, here is what I did.

I washed the beans well & trimmed them. I then brought a large pot of water to a rolling boil and threw in a bunch of beans.After 2 - 3 minutes, I lifted the beans out & plunged them in an ice bath. (Yes, that is an ice pack; we have no cubes!)
Once the beans were completely cool... ...I packaged them up in small freezer bags, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible, then I put the bags of beans in a larger freezer bag (double bagging like this helps prevent freezer burn). And into the freezer they went.
I suspect I'll be doing this a lot in the next few weeks...


Blog Widget by LinkWithin