Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Panini Heaven

So, this is what I made with my herbed focaccia from the previous post:

If I ever open my own cafe, this is a sandwich I will definitely be serving!

Coyote's Ultimate Panini!

Focaccia bread
lemon & garlic mayo
mozzarella cheese
caramelized onions
Assemble. Grill.Inhale.

Yeah, this ain't no pedestrian ham & cheese, lemme tell ya! Let's take another look, shall we?Totally fracking orgasmically out-of-this world amazing!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Magazine Monday #42: Herbed Focaccia

I've had this recipe from the May 1994 issue of Canadian Living Magazine for quite some time, and I've made it several times, particularly when I worked at a retreat centre and we needed a quick pizza crust. I didn't do the sponge step back then, but I did it today and it was well worth it!

Herbed Focaccia (adapted by me)

1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups bread flour (all purpose will work)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried herbs of your choice (I used thyme & oregano)

1. Make the sponge. To do so, combine 1 cup flour, the sugar, and the water in a bowl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap & let sit at warm room temperature for at least an hour.2. Once the sponge has done its thing, add the salt (I forgot to do this, and man, could I ever tell the difference!), herbs, olive oil, and enough additional flour to make a nice dough.

3. Proceed as per these instructions.

In the end, I got enough dough to fill a 9x9" pan. I docked the dough with my fancy docker and set it to rise under a towel.Docking the dough allows for it to rise and bake evenly, with fewer big giant air bubbles making the surface all weird.

After baking, I had this:Nice, eh?

The loaf was feather light and had very little weight to it. And it was bland, despite the herbs, because I'd forgotten the salt.

And you'll just have to wait and see what amazing sandwich I made with this focaccia for dinner - but I can tell you it was outstanding!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garden Bounty 2009, Part 1: Arugula Meatballs

Last year's lettuce fiasco in my little garden plot resulted in a rethinking of my veggie plans for this year's garden. I decided not to grow leafy greens that grew in tight bunches, so I opted for arugula. I also had seen lots of arugula appearing in various blog posts amongst my regular food blog friends, and I thought it would be a good idea to try out some new things with it. One recipe that stood out to me was Bellini Valli's chicken & arugula meatballs, seen here. Tonight, after harvesting some young arugula, I made a bison version of this meatball.

I got some bison on special at the local overpriced grocery store. There might have been about a pound or so. I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and about 1/2 cup of finely chopped arugula.
After mixing well, I got out one of my favourite and most-used kitchen gadgets: my #70 cookie scoop. I scooped out the meatballs and put them in a pan to brown.When they were nice and evenly browned, I added some homemade pasta sauce I whipped up last night using some of the tomatoes I canned last summer.I let the sauce and meatballs simmer until the meatballs were cooked through, then served them over pasta.
Arugula, especially if it's relatively young, has a pungent smell and is quite peppery. I have to say, however, that they didn't add much in terms of flavour to the meatballs. Perhaps I didn't add enough. Who knows. The bison might have been too strong a pairing, too. Still, it was an excellent meal.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Plaited Loaf: Redux

It was necessary to take Juno, my cat, to the vet again today. It's a long story, but she's OK. It was kind of an impromptu trip once more, so as my dad taxied me home - once more - I told him I'd bake him another loaf, since he thought the last one was so fantastic.

So, I came up with this recipe. I really enjoyed braiding the last loaf but realized I needed to practice my rope-making and braiding skills, so I decided to make another plaited loaf.

The recipe itself is a variation of the Healthy Heart loaf I've made and blogged about previously.

Sesame Flax Loaf

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp vital gluten
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp barley malt syrup
1 1/3 cups (approx.) water
poppy seeds

Directions here.

I just talked to my dad and the bread is a hit!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life is a Box of Chocolates, and Father's Day Dinner & Updates

So, one weekend my cat gets sick, the next weekend I get sick. There is obviously something in the water up here. Yesterday, I had to bail on work, but I was feeling well enough to go in this morning and bake, so that's what I did.

Technically, what I do at this place is categorized as volunteering, though I do get a supplement to my disability pension that makes life a lot easier for me, but the organization itself doesn't pay me. They are always telling me how well I do my job and how good the kitchen smells when I'm in there baking, and today I was presented with a lovely gift from the staff as a token of their appreciation. I got a really nice card, a huge box of chocolate, and a gift certificate to a store I regularly haunt. I was so surprised - even more so because I was up to my elbows in muffin batter at the time of presentation!
Nice, eh? It felt so great to be so appreciated. I can't tell you what this meant to me!

Sunday was Father's Day, as many of you might know, and my family & I celebrated with a dinner I held at my place. I made this chicken lasagne, which my father had been nagging me for since my article containing the recipe came out. My brother brought some focaccia bread from Safeway, and for dessert I served a selection of desserts: spicy molasses cookies, snickerdoodles, and sour cherry loaf.
And here is Juno, the cat who caused me so much stress a couple of weekends ago! She loves to roll onto her back, tuck up her feet, and show me her belly. I don't know why, because if I try to tickle the belly, she bites me. I always find it funny when she assumes this position; it reminds me of a seal!
FYI, I talked to the cook today about last week's Hawaiian Rice adventure, and he said it was great and that it was very much like a rice pudding! He really liked it, and said the residents did, too!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

101 Uses for a Roast Chicken #16: Chicken & Biscuits

One of the consequences of roasting so many chickens is that I tend to accumulate a lot of chicken carcasses, and since I'm a little sick of chicken soup and coming up with new variants of chicken soup, I had to come up with some new and exciting way of using the carcasses up. When I went to my freezer last week, I had three carcasses sitting in there! That's a lot of carcasses!

Thankfully, the universe has a way of speaking to me indirectly at times. For one thing, I've seen several chicken pot pie recipes crop up in the posts of many of my regular food blogger pals. And then at work a couple of weeks ago, chicken pot pies were on the menu and I made the pastry for them. The wheels started turning...

So, I got out the carcasses and put them in my crock pot and made a stock with less water than normal. I also used fewer aromatics - just carrots, onions, garlic, and cilantro. I wound up with quite a bit of chicken meat and about 4 cups of stock. I had left over cream and whole milk from my hamburger buns, so I put that to good use.

Here's what I did, approximately.

3 cups chicken meat
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 green pepper diced
4 green onions, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp basil
1 tsp ground sage
salt & pepper to taste
garlic, crushed, to taste

Saute the veggies until soft & have released all liquid. Add stock and spices and bring to a simmer. Combine the milk & cream and add flour to make a slurry. Add slurry to the pot & simmer until thickened. Season. Allow to cool slightly. It will thicken further as it cools.

Now, I thought this was too liquidy for a pie filling so I opted for a biscuit topping instead. The biscuit recipe I used is here, as part of a recipe for a similar dish by Canadian Living's test kitchen. I my filling fit into a 9x13 pan, and this is how it turned out:

Pretty fracking great, IMO. I got lots of meals out of this and wound up freezing some of it, too. It was tasty and not as rich as some fillings I've had before - lighter but still creamy enough. I'd definitely make this again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hawaiian Rice

So, the place where I work provides dinner for the residents, and dinner always includes a dessert. The menu rotates over 8 weeks, and last Monday happened to be Hawaiian Rice night. I've never been around for Hawaiian Rice night.

The relief cook hadn't been around for Hawaiian Rice night, either, because when he looked at the recipe, he was really skeptical. He thought it looked weird and was asking if I'd ever seen the regular cook make it before, and if I'd ever tasted it, etc. I said no, it was a first for me, too.

It does look strange - kind of like a combination of ambrosia salad and rice pudding. Here is the recipe.

Hawaiian Rice (makes 6 servings)

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- combine these ingredients and chill for 3 hours

Add: 1 cup cool whip or whipped cream and 3 tbsp sugar. Fold into rice mixture. Chill again. Sprinkle with coconut. Serve.
Here is step one...

Here it is just before step two...

My shift ended before the dessert was finished so I have no idea how this turned out. But I will see the cook again soon and ask him how it went.

What do you think? Does this appeal to you or not?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Book Review: Well-Preserved

The flap reads: "Most of us remember our mothers or grandmothers painstakingly canning tomatoes or pickles outside on a sweltering summer day so they'd be able to grab them from the basement pantry come winter. But how can a busy person with limited time and space put up the seasons' delicious bounty to savor later in the year?"

The essence of Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved is summed up in the subtitle, "Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods." Bone herself lives in a small New York apartment, and if her book is any testament, she can pump out an incredible amount of stuff in a small, limited space.

Covering water bath canning, pressure canning, pickling, smoking & curing, freezing, and oil preserving, Well-Preserved covers a lot of ground in a slim volume. Bone's highly readable tone makes quite a scientific subject engaging and inspiring. Methods for these different types of preservation are well-laid out and the language is accessible. Her recipes look delicious and inventive. When canning time comes around this neck of the woods, I will for sure be making some of the recipes I've bookmarked, like the Strawberry Balsamic Jam and the Stewed Onions with Marjoram.

Bone structures the book around one master recipe, like the Strawberry Balsamic Jam, and then provides a series of recipes that use that one master recipe as a staple ingredient. There are a lot of cool ideas for everything from desserts and main dishes to salads and soups. As one might expect, there is a ton of variety.

So, I am very much looking forward to canning season (which is usually around the end of August in my family), though this book has some great ideas for non-canning preservation methods that I can totally see myself using. I am very grateful for my freezer, I can tell you that!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Restaurant Review: Nelson Fisherman's Market

Today Dad and I took one of our frequent trips to Nelson, ostensibly for the purpose of shopping at Save-on Foods, but we always have lunch, too, and we always debate and agonize where to go to eat. This time, Dad actually suggested the Nelson Fisherman's Market, even though he detests fish. We'd never been there before but had heard good things about it. One side of the business is an actual fisherman's market, selling fresh and frozen fish and shellfish, and local hormone, grass-fed beef from Creston in addition to other meat products in a small butchery section. The other side of the business is a fish & chip shop - I think it's called The Dock, but I can't find anything online to confirm this. The address is 577 Ward St. In addition to fish & chips, there is a beef burger option, which is what my dad went for. I had cod & chips.

My meal came wrapped in a newspaper cone and the presentation was really cool. Unfortunately, I found it a bit awkward and eventually asked for a plate. I didn't really want to eat this with my hands. My dad's burger came in a little basket with plenty of chips and he said it was really good. The coleslaw that came with my meal was nice and creamy, just how I like it.

The fish was excellent! The batter was lightly seasoned and feather-light, and the cod was perfectly cooked - moist and flaky. The chips were excellent, too, and you can always tell the ones that are fresh cut on the premises and blanched before deep-frying. A simple iced tea topped off my meal and I came away very satisfied.

There was one dessert on offer, and here is the little sign advertising it:
I though this was kind of funny, but as you can see, it's apple pie and nothing made from seal meat. But both Dad and I were too full to partake.

Lunch for the two of us was about $24 with drinks. The service was nice & friendly and the atmosphere was casual and relaxed. Here is a shot of the interior:Definitely a recommend in my books if you're ever in Nelson and in the mood for great fish & chips. Next time I'm trying the calamari.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lunch at Trail's End Cafe

Yesterday, my very kind SIL treated me to lunch at the Trail's End Cafe in Trail. I've previously blogged about them here. We had another excellent lunch! Most items on the lunch menu - which includes meal-size salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and pastas - are around $10 and the service is fast and efficient. They also have really delicious iced tea. Here's the rundown.

I had the BBQ chicken & mango wrap with the house soup, which is a super Hungarian cream of mushroom, with dill & paprika. I've had this wrap before and it's very yummy!

Shan had the grilled ham, tomato & swiss sandwich with the house soup. She loved it.

Here is a closer look at the soup. I can't tell you how good it is! Shan & I speculated over what was in it so we could try to recreat it at home. Another little project for me!

We indulged in dessert. Shan opted for the Grand Marnier Creme Brulee, which was topped with some berries. I love the dish this is served in.

I had the Chocolate Paisano cake, which is to die for. It's basically layers of chocolate cake & ganache topped with a layer of...wait for it...tiramisu! Oh, this was so heavenly and so worth the calories! I asked the server if this was made on site, and it's not; it comes from their supplier. But I don't care - it's amazing!

Thanks for the treat, Shan! I really appreciated it - you're the best!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dad's Plaited Loaf

My dad was very good about making an emergency trip to the vet's this past weekend, so I owed him a loaf of bread big-time. Dad doesn't believe in white flour at all, so the loaves I make for him are often dense, rich, and a bit funny-looking because of their low gluten content. He's totally OK with this, plus he buys me the ingredients, so I'm not complaining.

Tuesday, I made a version of the Healthy Heart loaf I posted here quite some time ago. I added 1 tbsp of vital gluten to the recipe, and used barley malt syrup instead of sugar. I also put in a spice blend my dad got specifically for his loaves.

I decided to make this an extra special loaf by braiding it.
I haven't done this in a while, so it looked a little weird...
To me, it looked like a section of intestine, but whatever. I egg-washed it and added some poppy seeds...And the end product looked like this:Dad said it was super! He said the consistency is perfect! Thanks, Dad!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Salmon Burgers

OK, I've had some serious cat drama for the last several days, so I'm very behind in my posting and commenting. I do have several things coming down the wire, I just need to get my act together and my anxiety under control so that I can sit down & write the posts.

Here, however, are the burgers I made to go with my homemade burger buns the other night, burgers I had to abandon in mid-meal because I had to rush Juno to the vet.

Basically, ground salmon, formed into a patty & seasoned with salt & pepper. I grilled them on the old George Foreman, and served the burger with a lemon garlic aoli, sliced avocado, and on the side I had a nice spinach salad.
Hopefully, regular food-blogging will resume shortly.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Magazine Monday #41: Hamburger Buns

Despite having a seriously ill kitty over the weekend, I still managed to bake, and I chose to make hamburger buns. The recipe came from this month's Gourmet magazine in a feature about making the ultimate burgers and accompaniments all from scratch. The recipe looked simple enough but the high cream and whole milk content is what drew me to it. I was intrigued with how they might turn out using such ingredients.

The recipe is here. You can also make your own hot dog buns with this dough.

Man, were these ever fan-fracking-tastic! They are probably the nicest buns I've ever made in my life. The cream and whole milk made them incredibly rich and buttery, and the higher sugar content gave them a nice sweetness. I used a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter rather than a 3" because I felt that the 3" one would have been too small.

The burgers I made to try my buns out will appear in a future post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Dinner

Last night I went over to my brother and SIL's place for dinner with my dad. Dad donated a roast of beef that Shan BBQed, and it was fabulous! We also had a variety of other stuff, too.

Here is the roast of beef on the BBQ. Shan made a spice rub for it, and a homemade BBQ sauce. She started the roast off at a higher temperature, then brought the temperature way down to slow roast it.

She also somehow stuffed the beef with whole cloves of garlic - yum!

For an appy, Shan sauteed edamame in garlic, six spice mix, sea salt, and a bit of soy sauce. It was awesome!
Shan makes wicked salads...
And we had some grilled veggies...

There were also some potatoes with fresh dill & sour cream. Here is my dinner...

For dessert, I brought a selection of cookies I've made recently and frozen, including these, these, and these. There was also ice cream with Shan's homemade caramel sauce, which is just to die for!

Awesome dinner, and I came home with a pile of left-over roast beef, so I'm set for sandwiches for a while now!


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