Mushroom tarragon soup 5 2014

Roasted Mushroom Tarragon Soup

It has been a gorgeous weekend.  The weather is perfect and we’re getting loads of fresh air.  Though it was on the nippy side yesterday morning it was just warm enough with our winter coats and hats to have breakfast outside downtown.  We enjoy walking the dogs down and grabbing a bagel and do some people watching.

Yesterday afternoon I started tackling the garden.  Today we’ll be bold and plant a few things.  We need to thin out the jungle in the house and the brussel sprouts should be fine outside now.

Friday was chilly and I needed to use up some mushrooms so I came up with a mushroom tarragon soup.  It’s that time of year where you never know what the temperature will be so we can’t shake off the comfort food just yet.  This soup has a lot of flavour but isn’t heavy.

I find taking the step to roast the mushrooms really elevates the flavour of this soup.  I made enough for two people with a little leftover for one lunch.  I sliced about 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms and tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper.

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Roast at 400F/200C for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

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In a sauce pan saute 1/2 a cup of chopped onions and a couple of chopped cloves of garlic for a few minutes.  Add the mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes.

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Add 2 cups of veg bouillon and 1/2 a cup of marsala wine.  Bring to a simmer and then add a few teaspoons of fresh chopped tarragon.

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When it is time to serve add about 3/4 cup of cream and heat through.  Don’t let it boil!  Just simmer until it’s hot.  At this point add salt and pepper to taste.  While you are doing this do up some cheesy toast with parmesan cheese.  The pairing of the parmesan with the soup was very good.

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We both liked this a lot.  It’s a shame our son doesn’t like mushrooms as I’d like to make this for the kids.

Now on to a day of making cupcakes and gardening!  It’s gorgeous out so enjoy the day!

Stuffed cucumber 5 2014

Stuffed Cucumbers and If It Looks Like a Duck and Walks Like a Duck…

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination but there are times when the military or government are so blatant it beggars belief.  About 2pm on Wednesday afternoon there was a massive boom that shook all the homes over several towns and it lasted just a second or so.  Because it snowed the night before a lot of us thought snow was falling off our roofs but as we only got an inch and most of it melted by then we were very quickly puzzled about what the hell just happened.  It felt like a truck hit the house.

So of course a lot of people were circling their homes and businesses looking for damage.  What was it?  A sonic boom.  Which is illegal over populated areas.  So the MA National Guard are saying it was just normal jet noise.  The only ones that seem to believe that are the people at the MA National Guard.  It isn’t the fact it was a sonic boom that bothers me, though given how it freaked out our dogs I’m ok without the booms, it’s the fact they are lying about it.  I mean, give over people.  Guinness was very needy for about 24 hours.  Murphy was just fine in his armchair of choice.

Fortunately this past Sunday was much quieter.  We got the family together to celebrate a few birthdays and we did a sort of tapas lunch.  Loads of flavours but not a ton of cooking required.  My mum loves peaches so we did up some peach bellinis which was fun and went down very easily!

I came across a recipe for cucumber feta rolls that looked interesting and I did a variation of those for Sunday.

I decided not to make them into rolls as it would be less messy and I wouldn’t have to worry about toothpicks making their way to the floor then into the dogs.  So I sliced the cucumber into 3/4″ or so slices then hollowed out the top.

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My husband found some locally made feta cheese that was quite nice.  Crumble about 4oz and add a few dollops of plain greek yoghurt.

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Slice up a few pieces of sun dried tomatoes.  It’s on my list this summer to try to make some with the tomatoes from our garden.  Should be an interesting experiment!

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Mix with the cheese and yoghurt, add some chopped oregano and salt and pepper.  Squeeze a splash or so of lemon juice and stir it together.  My husband and son don’t like olives so instead of chopping the kalamata olives and mixing them in I just topped most of these with a slice of olive.

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Very easy to make for a dinner party or for a healthy snack.  And I do love the pairing of sun dried tomatoes and olives.

 

Pizza burrito 6 2014

A Hawaiian Twist For A Fun Dinner

We woke up to snow this morning.  Typical.  I was so hoping that the warmer days would have continued this week so I could get out in the garden and start getting veg in.  I’m getting a bit antsy to be outside!

Even though it was the last bit of tax season and all the craziness that goes along with it I was able to get some cooking done this past weekend.   I found a pin for a fun sandwich to make though unfortunately no recipe was attached so I just used it as an inspiration.   Our son calls this a pizzarito.  It’s a hawaiian themed pizza burrito.  So easy to make and the kids love it.

This is also great for when you don’t have a ton of time for dinner.  The longest bit is getting the chicken grilled.  Marinate thin bits of chicken breast in the BBQ sauce of your choice.

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Slice up some red onion and pineapple.  For those that love jalepenos slice up a few as well.  It adds a nice bite.

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Lay out a wrap and spoon the BBQ sauce and spread it out.   We used a somewhat sweet sauce but I’d recommend something on the spicy side to balance the sweetness of the pineapple.   Layer the sliced grilled chicken with the onion, pineapple, and cheese.  Then layer ham over the top.

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Wrap tightly then heat up using a panini press or on the stove top like a grilled cheese.

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Cut in half and serve immediately.

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It was delicious and perfect for a fun dinner with the kids.

And now that tax season is over I get to finally start catching up with all the posts!  I’ve missed reading them all.  :)

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.