Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I just read an interesting statistic on Kayotic Kitchen: Most blogs don't make it past the first three months.

I've been thinking about this blog a lot over the last few days.  I've been cooking and baking like mad but haven't taken pictures.  And feeling guilty that I haven't been memorializing all of it.  I'm going to blame our extremely active summer schedule and resulting hungry, no starved, children.  Seriously, K turned off his beloved TV before Dora's happy dance finished to eat supper.  That never happens.  He and his sister watch almost no TV and when they do they watch a 10 min episode of Word Word or 15 min 4 Square.  Dora and the rest her Treehouse friends are a rarity.  So when we agree to put Treehouse on there's usually a fit when we turn it off.  I still can't quite believe he turned it off early and ran to the table.
Strawberry Ice Cream anyone?
This is your basic Philadelphia Style Ice Cream with a strained strawberry puree mixed in. YUM!
2 c half and half
scant 2/3 c sugar
1 T vanilla extract
1 c strawberry puree, strained

Combine the half and half, sugar, and vanilla.  Stir until dissolved.
Add the strawberry puree and freeze an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  I had to freeze it in two batches because mine doesn't hold much.

Mark Bittman recommends that this be eaten within two days.  Ours, to my uneducated palate, was still delicious when M & I finished it 2 weeks later. MMMMMMM!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Farmer's Market Friday - On Sunday

We went a little fruit crazy at the farmer's market this week: two containers of nectarines, two containers of plums, one medium basket of peaches, one large basket of apples, two small baskets of zucchini, one large basket of semi-mini-cucumbers, a dozen corn and some patty pan squash. YUM!
Not sure what we'll do with all of this...but I'm sure it will be enjoyed!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Supper

A few days ago K asked if we could have meatballs for supper.  Me: Sure.  Would you like them with rice or noodles?  K: Noodles please.  Me: And tomato sauce?  K: Oh sure.

And there you have it, my 3 year old making his first request for a "special" meal.  That's not counting the nearly daily requests for a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch & supper.  If ever he had a favourite food, grilled cheese would be it.  I wonder what got into his head and distracted him from his beloved grilled cheese?  No matter, we hadn't had either for quite some time so I was happy to oblige him.
My goto tomato sauce is from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano.  You can find it here.  It really is all kinds of awesome.  I really have only made one change to his recipe: I puree it.  Velvety smooth deliciousness.  From the time she was an infant, P has gobbled this sauce up.  Her favourite was is rice.  Pureed first, before she could chew, and then straight up.  K, while liking the sauce has never cared for it over rice.  Oh well.
I use my food processor to chop the onions and carrots because it's faster than doing it by hand and it speeds up the cooking a little when the pieces are smaller.  And I love me a kitchen appliance.  I got a little carried away with the carrots this time so this is actually more like a tomato and carrot sauce.  Regardless, it was delicious.
Next came the meatballs.  I decided to use a friend's mother's recipe.  They are from her very first cookbook when she got married 40ish years ago. I did modify the original recipe slightly, only to accommodate the what I had on hand.
Mmmm Meatballs
Made 50 medium 

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1 ½ cups soft bread crumbs (3 slices of bread)* 
½ cup milk
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.  Shape into balls as best you can.  It'll be very sticky and a little hard to work with.  Persevere, they're worth it!
Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 min.  Can be frozen raw or cooked.  I've done both.  Can't report on the ones I've frozen cooked yet.  We need a bit of a meatball break before having at them again.

* The first time I made these we cut white bread into small cubes.  This time I didn't have any nice bread for bread crumbs so I used dry bread crumbs and soaked them in milk.  I really mean soaked.  I think I ended up using about 1 c of milk in total.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vegetable Jalfrezi

I was flipping through Jamie' Oliver's Food Revolution the other day, trying to find inspiration for supper, and came across his recipe for Vegetable Jalfrezi.  I love almost all vegetables - beets and rutabega are the notable exceptions - and I love me a curry so this seemed like the perfect fit.  Between the farmer's market and our pantry I had all of the ingredients for this interesting dish.
I didn't have the suggested butternut squash so I substituted a couple of zucchini and a few potatoes.  Not exactly the equivalent of a butternut squash but I really didn't want to go to the store.  Yup, too lazy.  And frugal.  Why buy another veggie when I have a fridge full of them.

As much as I wanted to love love love this dish, I only liked it.  I was very worried about it the whole time it was cooking and M's less rave review confirmed my fears.  There was something about the balsamic vinegar in the curry that just didn't work for me.  P & K ate their servings without much complaint.  I was a little worried about the level of spice because I was using a new curry powder (Arvindas) but I didn't find it too spicy.  Interestingly, all of the nooks and crannies in the cauliflower seemed to hold some of the spices and those bites were a little more piquant than, say, the potatoes.

This made an enormous potful of curry which would have been excellent had we loved it.  Since we only liked it I pawned some of it on our neighbours.  Did they like it?  Tough to say.  One enjoyed it and the other not so much but mostly because it was lacking meat.

Will I make this particular curry again?  No.  Will I try another Jamie Oliver curry?  Absolutely!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Prince Japanese Steak House

Great Food + Excellent Company = Best Saturday night out in a long time.

M & I booked a babysitter and went out with friends for dinner.  By the end of the evening we all vowed that we have to do it again soon.  And regularly.  Why we haven't done this sooner is a small mystery.

The restaurant was a Japanese Steak House (teppanyaki) with regular restaurant seating as well as 3 x 2 iron griddles.  M ordered Chicken Teriyaki with Filet Mignon and I ordered Chicken Teriyaki with Shrimp.  Our friends ordered similarly.  I think I was the only one with shrimp though.  It didn't occur to me until after the salad and vegetable maki to take pictures (bad food blogger!).
Miso soup.  Comfort food in a bowl.  I must look into making some of this soon.  Anyone have a good recipe?
Sticky fried rice.  This was rice heaven.  It was served quite early in the meal but I waited to eat it so that I didn't fill up on rice.  And I didn't.  I was able to bring 2/3 of the bowl home.I think I hear my leftovers calling my name from the fridge.  Pardon me while I take a short snack break.
The very talented chef preparing the onion volcano of fire.
Small Fire.
Big Fire!  Very cool.
No more fire, time to move on to the meat: there was shrimp, scallops, chicken and steak.  There was also a gigantic pile of veggies just waiting for the grill.  Yup, there's a lot of food there to be cooked; in addition to our party of four, the chef was cooking for a group of 3 and a group of 2.
First came the shrimp.  Five succulent shrimp.  I ate them all.
Then came the bean sprouts.  I never knew bean sprouts could be so tasty.  Don't get me wrong, I love bean sprouts but there's something about them being cooked in garlic butter that transcends them to an entirely new plane.
Then came the veggies.  I could have, and maybe should have, ordered only veggies.  They were so good.  I wish I hadn't eaten as many veggies at the restaurant so that I could have brought more of them home.
And then came the chicken.  Sweet and tender teriyaki chicken.  The plate was huge so this may not look like much food but it was.  It was a lot.  As much I wanted to eat every last morsel, I couldn't.  I just couldn't.  I brought home some of the bean sprouts, veg and most of my rice.  (M ate the last 4 pieces of my chicken.)

Thanks for the great evening guys!  Shall we book our next night out?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

While there are some days that seem to go on forever, usually there are cranky and/or sick children involved, others seem to fly by with barely a moment to catch my breath.  The last few days have been of the speedy variety.  I've made vegetable curry, strawberry ice cream, and birthday brownies.  And chocolate chip cookies, apple crisp, and chicken stock.  And I really do mean to write about all of these.  Well most of them.  I don't think you need to hear about chocolate chip cookies again.  I've even taken the (bad) pictures in preparation for the posts.  Now if only I could get to writing the posts....

Farmer's Market Friday

The kids and I had such a good time at the Farmer's Market this morning.  We browsed all of the booths before buying our fruits and veg.
Clockwise from the top: yellow plums, freestone peaches, wax beans, green beans, cantaloupe, cherries, nectarines, yellow tomatoes, red tomatoes, red, yellow, and orange peppers, strawberries, empire apples, dill, green and yellow zucchini, and mini English cucumbers.  Phew!

We bought so much that we had to head back to the car midway because I was afraid of the umbrella stroller falling backwards; I was hanging all of our purchases on the stroller while P rode along blissfully oblivious.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Raspberry Ice Cream

The gorgeous raspberries I bought at this week's Farmer's Market were calling out to me: make me into ice cream.  Delicious velvety ice cream. Okey Dokey.
I pureed one container of raspberries in the food processor and then strained it through my sieve to take out the seeds.  I wanted this to be as velvety as it could be - without using heavy cream.  This yielded 1 cup of juice.

To this I mixed in 2 c of half-and-half and a scant 3/4 cup of sugar. Once the sugar was dissolved I froze it in our  ice cream maker.  I froze mine in two batches as my ice cream maker doesn't hold very much.  Two cups total of liquid is about all it can handle.

Ice cream in our ice cream tub.  This particular Rubbermaid container holds one batch of ice cream.  In this case it held both mini batches.  I would have taken a picture of the scooped ice cream but K & P were insistent on having their dessert immediately.  P even had a second, very small, serving.  Could it be that she's discovering her sweet tooth?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The perfect summer supper

Summer perfection: 2 mini cucumbers, 1 red tomato, 1 yellow tomato, 1 red pepper, 1 small zucchini, 1 large zucchini, 3 x 1 inch pieces of leftover grilled chicken souvlaki cut into small pieces and ranch dressing.

Organic Farmer's Market Saturday

I was desperate to get to the Organic Farmer's Market this morning because we were out of Glo Bars.  And K was insistent that we buy some long bread from the bakery.
Glo Bars, spices from Arvinda's, and freshly baked treats.
I can't wait to use these tonight. I'm ever so glad I was planning on making a curry!  Vegetable Jalfrezi here I come.
A salty cheese roll of some kind, a cheese and pesto roll and cinnamon scones.  The cheese and pesto roll didn't last!
I can't wait to eat these.  This may be lunch.
K's "long bread".  It's actually a loaf of French bread rather than the longer baguette.

Is it syrup or is it jam?

Seems like this should be an easy question to answer, and I guess it is.  I started out with the intention of making blueberry syrup and ended up with blueberry jam.

There were some aging blueberries in the fridge and rather than throw them out (the horror!), I decided to try to make a syrup.  I, again, turned to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  Are you really surprised?  I had about half the amount of blueberries he suggests but no matter.
I did forget that I was halving the recipe before I added the cornstarch and water and thus my blueberry syrup turned into jam.  Oh well.  Kids didn't know it was supposed to be syrup and they are quite happy with the jam.  One taste and P was asking for more.  Poor girl has to wait until morning!

Blueberry Syrup, or Jam
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 c blueberries
1/4 - 1/3 c water
1/4 - 1/3 c sugar - this is really a matter of taste.  I wanted mine sweet
1/2 T cornstarch mixed with 1/2 T water - for a more jam like consistency use 1 T of each
splash of lemon juice (optional) I think it's optional but most find they need it to cut a little of the sweetness

Mix the first four ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened.  This will take approximately 10 minutes.  Taste, carefully now, don't burn yourself, and add more sugar, water or the splash of lemon juice as desired.

Keeps in the fridge for about a week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Farmer's Market Friday

Rain.  And lots of it.  That's how we started our day.  I kept hoping that the rain would let up so we could have a dry trip to the farmer's market but we had no such luck.  I'm actually quite grateful for the rain; it's watered our desperately dry lawn - for free!  It's also come with a cooler air mass so we have a temporary reprieve from the humidity of the past week.  (Which I love but not everyone has air conditioning.)
This week's loot: red new potatoes, wax and green beans, cauliflower, peaches, apricots, mini cucumbers, raspberries, zucchini, strawberries, white nectarines and cilantro.

M & P stayed nice and dry in the car while K & I did our best to stay dry as we shopped.  I'm so proud of my little man.  Not only does he know that Friday is the day we go to the farmer's market, he really enjoys choosing the produce.  I wanted a basket of white potatoes and asked him to choose the basket for me.  He choose red ones instead.  So we bought the red ones.  It maybe because he doesn't remember our having bought them before.  Kind of like when he insisted we buy the white cherries.

Meal ideas for the next few days: Jamie Oliver's Vegetable Jalfrezi with his Cilantro Lime Basmati Rice (to use up the cauliflower), new potato and bean salad (will post recipe and pictures after I make it), and plenty of salads with cucumber and steamed zucchini.  How I love steamed zucchini!  Ever since reading about how Trainer Momma finds it very filling I've been adding to my salads or making it one of our vegetable side dishes.  I've always enjoyed zucchini but never thought about just eating it steamed.  I was missing out.  The kids love it too.  Last night the had pizza with a side of steamed zucchini (1 each) and they both ate it before they touched their pizza.  And before anyone points out that they might be saving the best for last, I don't think they are old enough to consciously decide to do that.  Certainly not P.  Maybe K.  Anyway, let's not ruin my proud mummy moment.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pasta a la Caprese

While much of Ontario, Quebec and parts of the US are going through a heat wave, I'm not inclined to do much that adds to the heat in the house or strain the hydro system.  Not be a good time to loose power!  This recipe requires only minimal stove time and can be served hot, room temp or cold, thus allowing it to be adapted to your needs.

Pasta a la Caprese
Taken from Lovingly Prepared Dishes, a charity cookbook prepared, in 2005, by Revenue Canada's Legislative Policy Directorate (or whatever they were called then or are called now)

1 lb pasta: something short like penne or ziti
5 c tomatoes (12 plum tomatoes or 4 large ones - I used a combination of red and yellow tomatoes) thinly sliced lengthwise
3 to 4 smashed cloves of garlic (typo in my recipe book: it calls for smashed gloves of garlic HAHA)
1 long thing, red or yellow sweet pepper thinly sliced (I use two large peppers, often one red and one yellow)
20 leaves fresh basil, torn into pieces
1/2 c olive oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1 t salt (I leave this out because of K and P.  We add our own salt at the table.)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz mozzarella cheese cubed (I use grated mozz because that's what's in my freezer)
Parmesan cheese for the table

At least 1.5 hours before serving, combine tomatoes, garlic, sweet peppers, basil, oil, and s&p in a bowl large enough to contain both cooked pasta and sauce.  Let stand without refrigerating.  I cover it with plastic wrap or the like just to keep the misguided flies and other bugs that have taken up residence in my kitchen out.  (I often prepare this in the morning or during K&P's afternoon nap and let it stand until supper time.)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions or however you like your pasta cooked.  While the pasta is cooking, add the cheese to the sauce.  
Drain well and add to the sauce and cheese mixture.  
Mix quickly but well.
Serve immediately*.  Pass the Parmesan cheese for those needing more cheesy goodness.

*This is also excellent cold or even at room temperature.  I think the recipe should say serve as you like. ;)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to Salads

It feels like ages since I've had a salad for either lunch or supper.  This madness must come to an end!

I'll be topping what's already in the bowl with a steamed zucchini.  Yum!

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Focaccia

Need I say more?

Mine was a little crispy due to a crazy oven but it was still awesome.  Oh, and it was a little too salty and for that I blame P.  She was trying to climb up me, through my legs and practically onto the counter while I was salting the bread.  Doesn't really matter.  We scraped off the extra bits and scarfed it down.  And true to form, I ate too much.  But it was delicious.

I don't have any pictures of the focaccia making process so please visit The Pioneer Woman Cooks and check out her Olive Focaccia.  I used her pizza dough recipe and was inspired by the olives so this is really her focaccia.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Farmer's Market

Summer's travel season has started so we've missed a couple of the Friday Farmer's Market.  No matter, we made it to Sunday's market after a somewhat leisurely start to the morning.

Please just imagine that you are looking at this from the proper angle.  I've tried saving it a few different ways and it looks perfect and then Blogger turns it.  Without being asked.  How rude!

Today's purchases included mini cucumbers, red and yellow tomatoes, grape tomatoes, empire apples, white nectarines, teeny tiny apricots, zucchini, peppers, and raspberries.  I'm seeing Pasta a la Caprese in our future this week and some barbequed zucchini too.

Can't wait to start cooking...even though it's in the upper 30s outside (Celsius)...I love summer!