Spicy ketchup 10 2014

Kicking Ketchup

When I was little I was told the corniest joke but it cracked me up and I still remember it.  A mama tomato and a baby tomato were walking along but baby tomato kept lagging behind.  So mama tomato stomped on baby tomato and yelled “Ketchup!”  Told you it was corny.  :)

It was high time I tried making my own ketchup.  Given that we are currently being overwhelmed with fresh tomatoes we had enough to make some.  With the experiment using the Epsom salt for the tomatoes this year I have some results.  We have a crazy amount of tomatoes this year and very little cracking which has been an issue in the previous years.  On the flip side the fruit are ripening in a weird way.  Not sure if it’s because the season is cooler than normal.  They fall off before they are ripe and then they are going off a lot faster so we are struggling to keep up with it.  I will try this again next year to see what is what.

Spicy ketchup 1 2014

I did a bit of research on ketchup recipes and figured I could come up with my own recipe without too much trouble.  I estimate we had about 6-7 pounds of tomatoes which we chopped and added it to a large pot.

Spicy ketchup 2 2014 Spicy ketchup 3 2014

In addition chop 1 large red onion, 1 medium white onion, a jalapeno, 2 Ring O Fire peppers, and 2 cloves of garlic.

Spicy ketchup 4 2014

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, 2-3 tsps of sea salt, 1-2 tsps of pepper, and a handful of celery leaves.  Bring to a simmer stirring well.

Spicy ketchup 5 2014

Simmer until the sauce reduces by about a third.

Spicy ketchup 6 2014

Let it cool and then use a hand blender to process the ingredients.  Press the sauce through a sieve to remove the remaining solids into a clean pot.

Spicy ketchup 7 2014 Spicy ketchup 8 2014

Bring back up to a simmer.  Add a cup of red wine vinegar and 3/4 cup of brown sugar.  Simmer until the ketchup is reduce by another 1/3 and is the consistency you want.  I like it on the thicker side so it reduced a bit more than a 1/3.  If you want it thicker add a bit more brown sugar.

Spicy ketchup 9 2014

Can in sterilised jars and process for 10 minutes.

Spicy ketchup 10 2014

I am really pleased how this came out.  Certainly makes me want to whip up some burgers and fries!  Maybe some onion rings.  :)  This has a lovely heat finish to it.

Ooh, as I write this I got a little trophy thing saying it’s my two year anniversary!  Woot!  :)

Ale chutney 5 2014

Ale Chutney

One of the things I have on my list when we go home to England is getting a ploughman’s lunch at the Red Lion in Swanage.  It’s a pub that is still an English pub with the old beams, back garden, and amazing ciders on tap.  And they are willing to do their best at making a black velvet for me.  They also do a fabulous ploughman’s with ale chutney.  It’s one of my favourites.

As we’re getting into the season to make chutneys I thought I’d give it a go.  There really isn’t a lot of choice for ale chutney recipes but I figured I could make up my own.  It didn’t come out like the Red Lion’s but it came out really well with a bit more heat to mine.

Ale chutney 1 2014

Chop about 350 grams of onion and 300 grams of apples.  This equals about 3 apples.

Ale chutney 2 2014

Next chop 3 cloves of garlic, 60 g of dates, and 60 g of dried apricots.  In a large pot add the chopped ingredients with a 1/3-1/2 cup of malt vinegar and bring to a simmer.  As it begins to simmer add 1 heaped tbsp of mustard powder, 3 tsp of ground nutmeg, 1-2 tsp of sea salt, and pepper to taste.  Add 350-400g of demerara sugar or brown sugar and stir well.

Ale chutney 3 2014

As it simmers add the zest of one lemon as well as the juice.  For me I found it to be a bit sweet so I added 2 tsp of red pepper flakes to balance the sweetness.

Ale chutney 4 2014

Simmer until the apples have broken down and the chutney starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add 12 oz of ale or stout.  I used our oatmeal stout.  Bring it back up to a simmer to thicken. I found it wouldn’t thicken as much as I wanted so I added pectin rather than sugar which would make it sweeter.  The next time I make it I’ll back off a bit on the sugar and add more pectin.

Ale chutney 5 2014

The great things about chutneys is you make it your own.  Adjust as needed to your tastes.  Perfect!  Now I just need to make a ploughman’s.  :)

PS, there must have been enough people disgruntled with the new wordpress site when writing posts as they are now giving people a choice to revert.  Excellent!  :)

Apricot chutney 7 2014

Apricot Chutney

My husband and I joke about hoping the mould was broken when Murphy was born.  I mean he’s a wacky dog.  It looks like the mould wasn’t broken!  I have started volunteering at the local humane society by walking dogs and playing with them.  There is one puppy, a very large puppy, that is just all over the place. Reminded me of how Murphy was when we first got him.

It is fun volunteering there as I get my fix for the dogs and cats without actually bringing them home.  Our house is full enough! 

It’s apricot season!  So it’s time to make our apricot chutney.  It was a shorter season than normal this year, I think because of the harsh winter.  There are rumblings that we are facing another harsh winter.  My tolerance for this is getting less and less!

This is done over two days, nothing too difficult but it is time consuming on some of the steps.  I have no idea where we got our recipe.  We have a print out but it doesn’t say who’s it is.  This is our version of it.

Apricot chutney1 2014

Dice 3 1/2 pounds of apricots, 3 small onions, 5-6 garlic cloves, and 4 ounces of dates.

Apricot chutney 2 2014 Apricot chutney 3 2014

Place these ingredients into a big pot.  Add 3 inches of fresh ginger grated, 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole cloves, 1 teaspoon of whole allspice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of tumeric, and 2 teaspoons of mustard powder.

Apricot chutney 4 2014

Add two cinnamon sticks and 1 chopped hot pepper.  We used Ring O Fire from our garden.  Also add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.

Apricot chutney 5 2014

Add 4-6 oz of malt vinegar and bring the heat up to medium.  Once it gets to a roiling simmer lower the heat to medium low.  You want to stir frequently because you don’t want it to stick on the bottom.  If it is dry add a bit more vinegar.  Once the apricots have broken down a bit and softened add 7 oz of raisins along with the zest of 3 lemons and their juice.  Our chutney got to this point at about 45 minutes but it can take up to an hour. 

Apricot chutney 6 2014

If the apricots are pulpy enough add 8 oz of brown sugar.  Stir well and bring back up to a simmer.  Once it thickens like a jam cover and remove from the heat.  Allow to sit overnight.  The next day add 4-6 oz of brown sugar and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  If the chutney is too stiff add a bit more vinegar.  Sterilise the jars you need and then spoon in the chutney.

Apricot chutney 7 2014

After hand tightening the lids on, process the jars for 10 minutes.  Allow the chutney to be stored in a cool dry place for a couple of months to allow for the best flavour. 

This is great on naan, over rice, or with a cheese plate. 

Grilled leeks 3 2014

Grilled Leeks and Dealing With Customer Service

We all have those days where one thing is planned and after a few left turns you end up with something completely different. 

I had planned to do the oven roasted tomato sauce with pasta that I made last week.  I have an irritating quirk that I’ll take the time to make a grocery list and still forget something.  This time I forgot pasta.  I had to come up with plan b as our pasta attachment is making weird loud noises.  Not a good sign!

So I decided to do grilled leeks, the oven roasted tomato sauce over grilled steak, and roasted potato medallions. 

As I was prepping the food for the grill the skies opened up and sheets of rain just poured down.  I thought I was heading for plan c thinking I’d have to grill them on the stove top.  Workable but just not the same.  Fortunately at the last minute the skies cleared.

I kept the steak simple with just salt and pepper as I was going to use the sauce with it. 

Grilled leeks 1 2014

Cut the leeks to size and coat them in some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ratio is 2 to 1.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Grilled leeks 2 2014

The leeks need to be grilled on medium heat, turning them as they cook.  Sear the steak on high heat.

Grilled leeks 3 2014 Grilled leeks 4 2014

Then I nearly derailed dinner again.  I got my mobile phone bill and saw they were overbilling me.  Whenever we travel overseas I get an international plan for the time we travel.  I call when we get back I call to get the plan canceled and prorated.  I’ve never had trouble with this before but they didn’t do as I asked so I made the mistake calling while I was finishing dinner.  It should have been a five minute call to be done while the steak was resting.  Wrong!  I had the bad luck of getting someone with a bad attitude and not the brightest bulb.  So while I was alternating being on hold and trying to get a supervisor I was plating and taking pictures.  Not the best combo!

Grilled leeks 5 2014

And I missed most of dinner with the family which, while my fault for calling, wasn’t cool!

Grilled leeks 6 2014

I did get a good resolution with someone else in the end and I got a thumbs up from the family on the sauce with the steak and the grilled leaks.  Just could have done without the twisty turns.  :)

Grilled carrots 2 2014

Something New to Grill – Carrots!

I love grilling season and have tried several things when it comes to veg.  The normal things like corn, peppers, onions.  Love grilling mushrooms but I came across a post by Farm to Table Life for grilled carrots

I was intrigued.  And as they said in their post, why haven’t I tried this before?  And I’m also wondering what else I can grill. 

Grilled carrots 1 2014

Mix a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and some chopped rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Wash and dry the carrots.  Lightly coat the carrots with the marinade.  Heat the grill to about 350F/175C.

Grilled carrots 2 2014

Grill until it is cooked the way you like.  Some like them firm like I do and some like it cooked much softer.  Do turn them as they cook keeping in mind that smaller ones will cook faster.

Grilled carrots 3 2014

Serve immediately.  I really enjoyed this and will make it again. And the colours really pop.  What do you grill that might be unusual?

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

Eggs Benedict with Avocado

There was a break in the humidity this weekend which allowed us to take advantage of weather to do a lot of little chores in the garden.  I am a bit worried about the potatoes as the leaves are looking a worse for wear.  After some research I realised that we aren’t given enough nutrients for them.  Hopefully I can get that sorted this week. 

Still no sign of the parsnips.  I mean none sprouted.  I find it really strange so I’m wondering if the packet of seeds was any good.  Keeping fingers crossed we chased off the rabbits again this year.  We were dealing with squirrels and the rabbits snuck in.  One was bold.  I ran towards it making all sorts of noise and it just looked at me.  Guess I need to work on my technique. 

After several hours of puttering about I was in the mood for a hearty lunch.  I had an avocado and some homemade ciabatta bread so it was a small leap to eggs benedict.  Makes sense, right?

As delicious as this meal is there is some of juggling with the prep to get it all done at the same time.  I made a half recipe from the Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook as a 1/2 cup was enough.  Set up the ciabatta to be toasted and buttered, then set up the eggs to be poached

If you are new to hollandaise sauce definitely use a double boiler.  When I started I didn’t have one and so learned in a small saucepan. 

In the pan over very low heat whisk two small egg yolks.

Eggs Benedict 1 2014 Eggs Benedict 2 2014

These need to be whisked but not so much you scramble them.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and slowly add 1/8lb of melted butter while stirring.

Eggs Benedict 3 2014

Slowly add a tablespoon of hot water, dash of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir for a minute or so until thickened.  

Eggs Benedict 4 2014

Layer the bread, avocado, poached eggs, and the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

Eggs Benedict 5 2014 Eggs Benedict 6 2014

This is such a treat when the egg is cut into and the yolk blends with the hollandaise sauce.

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

After a hard morning working in the garden this was a great reward. 

Corn bacon 7 2014

I Love the Colours of Summer Food!

We were spoilt when we were in England with the summer weather. My kind of summer weather where I don’t feel like I’m about to melt and I start to wonder if there is room in the fridge for me.  My husband heard a report on the BBC talking about how muggy the weather was.  Ha! I’ll take their version over the mugginess we get here any day of the week.  It was fabulous sleeping weather.  Right now there is a wall of humidity waiting for us just outside the door.  Ugh.  Thank goodness for A/C.

Of course this time of year comfort food is right out the window.  At least the heavy stick to your ribs kind.  Yesterday I reached back to one of my earlier cookbooks that I got when I moved out on my own to make a corn dish that is packed with flavour but is light and easy to make.  I drew inspiration from “Skillet Suppers” by Andrea Chesman.  It was published back in 1994.  I haven’t opened it in years so it was time to dust it off.  This is my version of their Cajun Macque Choux.  Their version has evaporated milk and prawns.  I took out the milk and replaced the prawns with chicken.

I also love this dish for all the bright colours of the ingredients.

Corn bacon 2 2014

This is a one skillet meal which makes for very easy clean up.  Chop about 5-6 slices of streaky bacon depending on how thick they are and cube a breast of chicken.

Corn bacon 1 2014

Start cooking the bacon in the skillet to render the fat.  Once it’s about half way cooked add the chicken in. 

Corn bacon 3 2014

Thinly slice a quarter of a red onion and add it to the bacon and chicken.  When the onion begins to soften add the chopped jalapeno and a cup of chopped pepper.  Any colour you wish.  Stir well as this cooks.

Corn bacon 4 2014

Add about 10oz of frozen corn, 1/3 – 1/2 cup of chopped scallion, and a teaspoon or so of fresh thyme. Have this on medium heat.

Corn bacon 5 2014

Once the corn is about half way cooked add a handful of chopped fresh basil and a chopped tomato.  I used about a cups worth of tomato.

Corn bacon 6 2014

Season with salt, black pepper, and white pepper.  Stir well and cook until the corn and chicken are finished. 

Corn bacon 7 2014

This is a very simple but flavourful dish.  I only used one jalapeno in this dish but you could use hotter peppers or more hot peppers if you wish.  My son and I liked the mild heat in this dish but my husband would have loved more omph.  :) 

 

Seared Tuna Avocado 5 2014

Seared Tuna in a Cup

Our son turns 10 soon, where does the time go?  But because we did the family celebrations this past Sunday he gets to enjoy a month of celebrations.  Needless to say he’s tickled pink.  But given our kids live in two households and then the various extended families their birthdays can go on for a few weeks.  It takes awhile to get it all in!

As a treat for the birthdays I did up my raspberry lemon cupcakes and decorated a few of them as minions.  You can’t go wrong with minions!

Seared Tuna 6 2014

In addition to the chicken salad on apple slices I wanted to do a seafood dish.  This dish would be great for a tapas night as well.  In a bowl add two avocados.

Seared Tuna Avocado 1 2014

Finely chop up a bit of red onion.

Seared Tuna Avocado 2 2014

Mash them together and add lime juice to taste, adobe seasoning, cilantro, and chili powder.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.  To keep it from browning add the avocado pits to the dish.  I made this a few hours ahead of time as this gets put together at time of serving.

Seared Tuna Avocado 3 2014

For the BBQ we had wood available to cook over.  I brought a grill pan to sear the tuna.  Season with salt and pepper then sear both sides.  This only takes a couple of minutes.

Seared Tuna Avocado 4 2014

Fill mini phyllo cups with the avocado and then top with the sliced tuna.

Seared Tuna Avocado 5 2014

It was an enjoyable day enjoying good food, beautiful weather, and listening to the kids playing and laughing.

 

BLT Grilled Cheese 4 2014

A Most Indulgent Grilled Cheese…

I do my best to stay healthy and eat well.  You know, try to avoid clogging the arteries.  But there are times you just have to go for it.  Throw caution to the wind and indulge.  I had seen variations  on the theme of adding a fried egg to sandwiches so I thought I’d some fun with a grilled cheese.

This is a BLT, bacon and egg, grilled cheese treat.  I’d say I’d kept it somewhat healthy by adding the tomato and lettuce but who am I kidding!

BLT Grilled Cheese 1 2014

It’s amazing how the mention of the word bacon can light a fire under someone.  My husband uttered the word and I’m not sure my son’s feet touched the stairs on the way down!

BLT Grilled Cheese 2 2014

After cooking up the bacon and making our dogs drool in optimism I fried my egg in the bacon fat.  I love eggs fried in bacon fat but this is a very rare treat as it wouldn’t do a body good so to speak to have it too often.   While the egg was frying we grilled the sandwich with jarlsberg cheese, the bacon, tomato, and lettuce.  Don’t forget to butter the outside!  Separate the sandwich and place the egg on one half, season with salt and pepper.

BLT Grilled Cheese 3 2014

Carefully cut the sandwich in half.  I recommend doing this on the actual plate as the egg is runny.

BLT Grilled Cheese 4 2014

It was a my oh my kind of sandwich.  A bit messy but delicious.  :)

Grilled salmon 7 2014

Early Taste of Summer With Grilled Salmon

It was my kind of day yesterday.  Warm sun, a slight breeze, and time available to get in the garden.  Perfect weather!  We are doing a major tackle of our flower garden this year which will be shown in an upcoming post.  But suffice it to say, the grass has been winning.  So we’re rolling up our sleeves and plotting our strategy for winning back the space for our flowers.

Yesterday definitely put me in the mood for bright flavours and grilling.  It also reminded me that I need to get our outside table cleaned and set up with the chairs.  It would have been lovely to have dinner outside.

I discovered at the co-op that wild sockeye salmon is back in season so that was the base of the meal for my daughter and I.  For my husband and son I grilled up some curry chicken sausages and grilled veg.  But for me the salmon was the prize.  I found this recipe for tomato avocado relish and thought I’d do a version for our dinner.  One thing I love about the warmer weather is many dishes that go on the grill are so easy to throw together and you can have a fabulous fresh meal in less than 30 minutes.  And clean up is even easier!

I prepped the food in stages as the sausages had to go first.  I sliced up the lemon for the grilling.  This is one of the lightbulb moments when you first see it.  Grill the salmon on the lemon!  It is such a no brainer but really raises the flavour profile on the dish.  I will definitely be using this method going forward.

Grilled Salmon 1 2014

To make the tomato and avocado salad I first did up the dressing of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part white balsamic vinegar and whisked it to an emulsion then seasoned with salt and pepper.

Grilled salmon 3 2014

I sliced up an avocado.  This is fast becoming one of my favourite foods.  It goes well in a lot of dishes but is also a superfood so for me it’s a win-win.  My other favourite foods include crisps which isn’t on the superfood list by any stretch of the imagination.  So I’m getting one right!  :)  Chop up a fresh scallion.  I’m not a huge fan of raw onion as it is too much for me but in dishes like this it gives it just enough zip.

Grilled salmon 2 2014

I found at the co-op some local cherry tomatoes, they must be grown in a hot house and while not the same as fresh from the garden they taste better than those trucked in from afar.  Slice them in half and add them to the dressing along with the scallion and avocado.  Toss to coat with the dressing.

Grilled salmon 4 2014

Set aside and spread out the lemon slices on the hot grill and place the salmon on top.

Grilled salmon 5 2014 Grilled salmon 6 2014

This is a great trick for two reasons, one it doesn’t stick to the grill, and second it imparts a lovely lemony flavour to the fish without overpowering it.  Once the fish is cooked place it on some mixed greens and top with the tomato avocado salad.

Grilled salmon 7 2014

I’ll admit I went for presentation for the photo then added more of the tomato avocado salad!  My daughter and I loved this dish and I look forward to having it again.