Tortillas 9 2014

Beyond Easy Tortillas…

Quite a while ago now I pinned some tortilla recipes swearing I would try them but never got round to it.  The whole time flying by would be the excuse but not a very good one.  I mean I’ve posted some complicated recipes so I can’t say I never had the time to try them out.  For my birthday I asked for a tortilla press because I hadn’t read the flour tortilla recipes all the way through.

Turns out the press is for corn tortillas and you roll out the flour ones.  Doh!  So I’ve added corn tortillas to my list of things to try.  I did try the press on this recipe and yes, like they said, it won’t work.

However, that being said, flour tortillas are so easy to make it’s ridiculous.  It only has five ingredients!  The recipe I followed was this one but there are tons out there that are very similar.

In a mixing bowl add 3 cups flour, 1 cup lukewarm water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and a third of a cup of vegetable oil.

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Using the dough hook mix the ingredients on low speed for a couple of minutes, scraping the sides as you go.  Once the dough comes together dump out on the counter that is lightly floured.  Knead for a couple of minutes.

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Divide the dough into 16 somewhat equal balls.  Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes.

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Heat a skillet that will take tortillas 6-7″ in diameter.  You want this hot but not so hot it will burn the tortillas.  A golden brown is what you are going for.  Roll out the first ball so it’s 6-7″ or so.  You’ll want to keep the surfaces floured as well as the rolling pin.  Also, don’t stack the dough.  It will stick and be on the soggy side.

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The first one was as close to a circle as I got.  :)  Brought to mind those who post comparisons of the pinterest pictures vs reality.  So don’t stress if these aren’t shaped perfectly.  They will still work and taste good.  Place the first one into the skillet.  While it is cooking roll out the next one.  I got a sort of assembly line going.  This process does go quickly as you only need to cook for a minute or so on the first side and just over half that on the second.

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They do puff up a bit and get all bubbly.  When you flip them over press down to deflate the bubbles a bit.  Don’t cook them too “firm” as you want them to fold easily when you eat them.

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So of course I did tacos.  I did our normal mixture with a bit of beef and veg.  I decided to do a different topping to our usual sour cream.

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Mash up an avocado, add about 1/3 cup of homemade salsa, a few squirts of lime juice, a bit of adobe seasoning, and some cilantro.

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I really liked this as an alternative to sour cream.  Just something different.  Of course melted cheese goes well with this.  :)

This recipe makes 16 tortillas. The ones you don’t use freeze well until needed.

So one more week of tax season and I can get back to reading everyone’s posts and having the usual chats.  I hoped it would be different this season in keeping up with everything but it just proved to hard with everything going on.  But next week I can’t wait to start the regular reading!

 

Blackberry duck 4 2014

A Blackberry and A Duck Got Together

Things have been looking up this past week which has been nice.  Still waiting for my husband’s car to be fixed but hopefully that will be within the week.  Our seedlings are growing like crazy and we’re back to looking like we live in a jungle.  It will ease once the weather warms which can happen any time now as I’m tired of wearing snowpants!  It’s a formal protest now as it shouldn’t be this cold this far into March!  I’m wondering when the lamb part will show up.

Despite all the craziness I did want to cook a nice meal and I found a pin on pinterest that was for a blackberry sauce for duck.  Ooh, I thought, this looks wonderful.  Until I clicked on it and all it was about was an article about wine.  Now normally I am more than happy to learn about wine but I was looking for food!  So it was time to get creative and come up with something myself.  Given that I have a food blog I should be able to do that!

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C

In a baking dish place the duck legs with the skin scored into the pan.  If you have duck breast or a full duck this will work as well.  Our duck legs were frozen so they are a bit funny shaped at first.  In the dish I drizzled a bit of olive oil and about a 1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  Roast uncovered until cooked about medium.

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While the duck is roasting chop up 1/2-3/4 cup onions and saute in olive oil.  Once they are softened add about a cup of blackberries.  Bring to a simmer with 1/2 cup water and 1/8 cup of white balsamic vinegar.

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As the blackberries soften and cook down add a few teaspoons of freshly grated ginger.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Once the duck is done remove from the oven and let rest.  Add a few tablespoons of the duck fat and juices from the baking dish to the sauce.  Simmer for a few minutes to reduce.  Then spoon over the duck and serve.

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The tartness was a great pairing with the richness of the duck.  I kept the sauce rustic but as the blackberries had dehydrated a bit the seeds were tough.  If you aren’t a fan of the seeds the sauce can be strained.

Lamb mustard 6 2014

Irish Luck Was Not With Us But The Lamb Was Delicous

The past couple of weeks have been very difficult.  The kind where having then engine blow up requiring a new one wasn’t the worse thing to happen.  Fortunately things are looking up again and things getting back on track.  I did manage to find time to make an Irish meal for St Patrick’s Day for the two of us.

I found the inspiration for this dish on pinterest and it was for a rack of lamb with a mustard shallot sauce.  I couldn’t find a rack of lamb but I was able to find 4 lamb chops which were the perfect size for us.  And as it was a week night I had the added bonus of it being really easy to put together.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Season the lamb chops with sea salt and pepper.  In a skillet heat up some olive oil then place the chops, fat side down, into the skillet to brown.  Brown all sides for a couple of minutes each.

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Roast in the oven until it is cooked to the doneness you desire.  We prefer medium rare heading towards the rare side.  In the same skillet, reduce the fat about half and add about half a cup to 3/4 cup of chopped shallots and cook until softened.  Add a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.

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Add 1/2 cup of veg bouillon, a 1/3 cup of dry white wine, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard.  I used the garlic flavoured one that we have.

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Simmer until it’s reduced to about 1/3 of liquid you started with.  After you let the lamb rest for a bit serve with the sauce.  I also served this with roasted potatoes and some yellow beets that were simmered in homemade chicken stock.

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I loved this sauce.  It would be fabulous on all sorts of proteins.  I’ll be trying this on grilled fish once the weather warms up.  The rate we’re going though it will be awhile!

Goat burgers 7 2014

Don’t Let It Get Your Goat

Reading other blogs definitely helps spark the imagination.  I come across ingredients that I would never think of using or trying.  Goat is one of them.  I love goat cheese but never thought about the meat.  I found some ground goat meat at our local co-op and thought now was a good a time as ever.

Of course then I had to figure out what to do with it.  Because I knew I wanted cheese to be one of the components I had to come up with something that would work with jarlsberg as my husband doesn’t like goat cheese.  I found this recipe for goat burgers and I adapted it to make it mine.  For the burger bread I made the baguettes that we like.  The crumb on it is getter better and better with practice.

I started with the carmelised onions first as those need to be cooked slowly.  Heat some olive oil and toss in the onions.

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Don’t cook them fast or on high heat otherwise you’ll burn them instead of carmelise them.  For the pound of goat meat I chopped up a few garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and thyme, seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

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Mix together without overworking the meat then add a few squirts of brown mustard and a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce.  Form into patties and set aside.

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Add a few teaspoons of brown sugar and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the onions and stir well.

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While this continues to cook heat up some olive oil in another skillet and brown both sides of the burgers.  I cooked them about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove and put them on a baking tray.  Add the cheese to melt.

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Bake in the oven at 375F/190C until the burgers are cooked to the desired doneness and the cheese has melted.  Place them on the buns and top with the onions.

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Serve with the veg of your choice.  We found these enormous asparagus and they turned out to be lovely even though they were hard to cook without overcooking them.

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We really enjoyed the goat meat.  I’ll have to find goat chops to try something else but we’ll definitely be making goat burgers again.

Setting up the iPad has gone well.  I found an app to let me put a watermark on the photos which I’ll be trying as soon as I get the adapter delivered that will let me take the photos off the SLR.  The only app I need to find now is one that allows me to resize photos taken with the iPad or iPhone.  Haven’t figured that one out yet.  Any suggestions?

 

Parsnip curry soup 8 2014

Warming Parsnip Curry Soup

It’s been a wonderful weekend.  The sun has been shining and the temps above freezing.  What a treat!  Even though it’s not our week for the kids we had to help our son get supplies for a water project he has to do for school.  His experiment has to do with hydroponics which we are very curious about.  It gave us a chance to take him to lunch and hang out with him a bit.

I like being able to do one on one with the kids.  Gives them a chance to natter on about whatever they would like and get our full attention.  After we dropped him off we puttered about downtown.  Loads of people were about enjoying the good weather.  It was good for the shops as well.  It’s hard on Main St with the cold weather.  I did more research on tablets and decided on an ipad.  It was my early birthday present and I love it.  And there is a solution to getting my photos off of my slr onto the ipad when I travel.  Now I just need to find the photo editing apps and I’m good to go!  Last night was topped off by seeing a show of Dueling Pianos where they took requests for songs.  Like I said it’s been a fabulous weekend.  :)

We had the kids for supper on Thursday and with it still being chilly I made parsnip curry soup.  My husband has made this soup several times and it’s wonderfully warming when you are sick.  I thought it would give it a try.  A very simple quick soup full of flavour.  We got the recipe of American’s Best Recipes.  I did change it a bit.

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Peel and dice a pound of parsnips.  Do this first as this takes a bit of time.  Set aside.  Chop half a red onion and coarsely chop a couple of garlic.  In a saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Cook the onion until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add about 2 tsps of cilantro and 2 tsp of cumin.  Stir well then add the parsnips to coat and cook for a few minutes more.  Add two heaping spoonfuls of the curry paste of your choice.  Here you can make it as spicy or mild as you would like.

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Add two cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the parsnips are cooked and softened.

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Add 2 cups of milk, 2 spoonfuls of sour cream, and a few squirts of lemon juice.

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Remove from the heat and blend the soup.  We use the immersion blender and we are ok with it not being 100% smooth but blend to the smoothness you like.

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Heat through and it is ready to serve.  Add a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.

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It was enjoyed by all and having fresh bread and butter with it didn’t hurt.  :)

Now off to play with my new tablet and finish setting it up.  I’m such a geek when it comes to gadgets and tech stuff.  Just wish I knew more about it!

Slow roasted pork belly 6 2014

Such A Treat – Pork Belly!

A few months ago I was able to try pork belly for the first time.  I had heard how wonderful it was so I kept an eye out for it. One of the restaurants downtown had it as a special so I couldn’t pass up the chance.  I was hooked.  Buttery, tender, and oh so good.  But then I couldn’t find it in any store so I could try it at home.

That is until recently.  Our local co-op was selling big pieces of it so I snapped one up.  I figured I would cook a small piece for dinner and save the rest for my attempt at homemade bacon.  That is still on the list for something after tax season.

Preheat the oven at 300F/150C

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Cut off the piece that you want to roast and score a diamond shape into the fat.  Don’t go so deep that you hit the meat.  This will help render the fat down into the pork.

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Rub some sea salt and pepper into the skin with some olive oil.  Place into a baking dish.  Next I added some rosemary, a few cloves of garlic, half a red onion, and red wine.

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Bake covered for a couple of hours until nearly done.  Remove the cover to brown the top. If you want more of a crispy crackle then uncover sooner.  This would be too much fat for me so I wasn’t overly worried about how crispy it was.

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Some will remove that fat and roast the fat to make it really crispy as a treat.  Set aside the pork to rest.  In a skillet pour about half the juices in and add some more red wine and about a 1/2 cup of veg broth.  Simmer to reduce down.

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Once it’s reduced by half remove from the heat.  It is ready to serve.  I added roast potatoes and some corn for my dish and my husband had some Brussels sprouts.

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I really loved it.  I’m looking forward to trying my hand at the bacon.  But I will make something along the lines of this again.

Mushroom grilled cheese 4 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons Make Grilled Cheese!

Thank you for those that watched my daughter’s episode, the feedback made her smile.  :)  As you know the trick of adding acid to a dish was mentioned though the surprise was to add it to grilled cheese.  Never thought of that.  But I loved the idea.  Of course I had to wait until the show came out so I didn’t spoil any surprises.

Last night I gave it a go.  When I asked what kind of grilled cheeses I should make our son piped up with ham and pineapple!  Crazy kid but I said sure.  I bought some fontina cheese to go with it and he loved it.  For the rest of us who aren’t as adventurous I thought I would do a mushroom grilled cheese.

I slices up a few mushrooms, chopped about 3 large cloves of garlic, and prepped some fresh thyme.

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I heated up some olive oil in a skillet and sauteed the mushrooms first until they started browning.  Then I added the garlic, thyme, and a few teaspoons of lemon juice.  I think Luca likes to add a bit of lemon juice while you are cooking the actual grilled cheese but I wanted to incorporate it into the mushrooms.

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Once the garlic is cooked set aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.  We were also do sweet potato and regular potato fries to go along with the sandwiches and that bit can take awhile!  Especially when we are using a saucepan to fry.  For our mushroom sandwiches I used Jarlsberg.  Butter the outside of the bread and layer the cheese and mushrooms.  We use our homemade sourdough for this.

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To grill we used our cast iron griddle and press.  Make sure both are hot and cook until golden and the cheese is melted.

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My daughter and I added some ham to ours.  This got a thumbs up and our son hopes we make his again as well.  ;)  A fun dinner for a laid back weekend.

Pancetta risotto 6 2014

Please Spear Me Some Risotto

I’m being an optimist.  Officially it’s 19 days til spring and my fingers are crossed that spring will arrive.  It’s turning out to be a lovely day today with barely a cloud in the sky.  This afternoon snow should be wandering through for the next few days again.

The kids have enjoyed their downtime this past week being off from school and it’s been relatively quiet which is nice.  We’re not those parents that schedule their kids within an inch of their lives but it is nice to have a break in routine.

There was a request for risotto as we haven’t had that recently so I decided to switch it up a bit.  We had some asparagus that needed to be used up and I thought pancetta would be a great pairing.

For risotto I always prepare the ingredients before I start cooking to keep it easy.  I sliced up half a red onion, chopped 4-5 cloves of garlic, and cut up the asparagus.  While I am doing this I heat up the stock for the risotto.  The ratio I used is 5 cups to about 1 1/4 cup of risotto.

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In a large pan melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and saute the onions until softened.  Then add the garlic and chopped up pancetta.  I found this pancetta at the co-op that was uncured and thinly sliced.  I think next time I will get thicker sliced pancetta because while this was tasty the flavour wasn’t as bold as I was hoping for.

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After a couple of minutes add the risotto.  Stir well then add about a third of a cup of white balsamic vinegar.

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Gradually add the heated stock stirring well.  As the liquid is absorbed add more.

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While this is simmering I grated parmesan, asiago, and fontina cheese until I had just over a cup.  In the last five minutes of cooking or so add the cheese.

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In the last few minutes add the asparagus.  You still want it bright and crunchy.  Nothing worse than overdone asparagus.  Also the risotto should be on the slightly al dente side.  Not crunchy but firm.

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With the three cheeses this was really creamy.  And it is hard to go wrong with a bit of bacon.  And the plates were cleared quickly so that is always a good sign. :)

I may have asked this question already so if I did I apologise but with new tablets out now I was wondering for those who use their tablets to blog, what do they use?  I need one that I can easily transfer pictures from my camera to the tablet then put watermarks on.  I think the big sticking point is getting the pictures from the camera to the tablet so I can blog on the go.  Thank you for any advice!

Beet puree 7 2014

And The Beet Goes On….

We finally got to watch our daughter’s cooking show episode last night!  So exciting.  :)  She did a fabulous job and we’re really proud of her.  And Luca does a great job with the kids.  What a wonderful way to get more kids cooking.

Here is the episode:

Kids in the Kitchen

I tried to insert from youtube but it wouldn’t do it so another thing for me to figure out!  I love technology but sometimes it doesn’t like me.  Ok, a lot of times.  Ah well.

Here are a few stills from that episode as well:

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In honor of her doing this I decided to be inspired by the dishes and make something with beets.  Now, I do not like beets.  Right up there with Brussels sprouts. But when I tasted the beet puree made in this show I liked it!  I find beets lack brightness but this was different.  Because my husband and son really don’t like seafood I decided to do roast chicken with a beet puree.  I did this with my own twist but it went very well with the chicken.  And my husband was happy because he loves beets but it doesn’t find it’s way to the table.  It will now.  :)

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The beets will take a bit to cook so I started them early.  I peeled them and cut them up into chunks.  I used three beets because I knew whatever I didn’t use for the puree would be eaten by my husband.  In a saucepan add the beets and about 2 cups of chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper then add about 1/3 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and cook until tender.

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Meanwhile mince some fresh garlic and slowly cook in olive oil until tender.  I used 2 large cloves.

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Once that is done set that aside.  To prep the roast chicken legs I coarsely chopped several garlic cloves.

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In a baking dish I added the legs, rosemary and the garlic.  Seasoned with salt and pepper.  I added a bit of water and some white balsamic vinegar.  I baked this at 375F/190C covered until mostly cooked then uncovered to brown the chicken. This keeps it nice and moist with all the flavours.

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To do the puree I thought I’d save on dishes and tried to use the blender we already had out.

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That failed so I switched over to the food processor.  I wanted to keep this somewhat rustic so I pulsed the beets then added some olive oil, the garlic, and a bit of the liquid from the saucepan that I cooked the beets in.  It’s not the traditional smoothness that you would call a puree but just a smidge coarse.  If you want it smoother add more liquid until you have the consistency you would like.

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I served it with roasted potatoes and parsnips with a bit of corn.  The brightness of the beets worked well with the garlic rosemary on the chicken.

It was such a fun process to watch our daughter do this show and to share it with everyone.  And yes, Luca, I will be doing a post on the grilled cheese.  ;)

Eggplant parmesan 4 2014

Eggplant-Aubergine-Al Badinjan Parmesan

Words fascinate me.  With all the different languages one thing can have many different names.  Take eggplant.  Which is a strange thing to call it as the common ones are large and purple.  But various countries in Europe called it eggplant because they used to be the size of a goose egg and even whitish.  In the UK using the word aubergine shows a bit of the French influence on our language but if you continue back the roots are found in the Arabic word al-badinjan.

Years ago when my mum and I would work together we had a little game we’d play.  This was when the internet was new to us and I would look up the word of the day and try to test her.  It would always be a big word or something really obscure and she would have to try to come up with the definition.  I think I tripped her up a small handful of times.  She has an excellent vocabulary and because she took Latin she could figure out the root of the word.  I may not have the vocabulary she does but I love the history of words.

I asked the kids what they would like for dinner this week and our daughter piped up with eggplant parmesan.  As I’ve never made it before I thought why not?  And really it’s not very difficult to make.  The only time consuming bit is the homemade pasta.  For the tomato sauce I used our homemade base and added our usual group of veg and a bit of red wine.

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Slice the eggplant about 1/4″ thick or so and remove the skin.  I then sliced them in half so it is more manageable.

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Dip them in egg and panko bread crumbs and pan fry in oil until browned then turn them over.  On the browned side I seasoned with salt and pepper and grated fresh parmesan cheese over the eggplant.

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After both sides are browned finish off in the oven to complete cooking.  Toss the pasta in the sauce.  I prefer the Italian way of just letting the sauce coat the pasta rather than have the pasta swimming in the sauce.  Grate more fresh cheese over the dish and serve.

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Super easy to put together and the kids loved it.  And hey, any time the kids ask for a veg based dish I won’t be saying no!  Though we are lucky, they love their veg.  :)