Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Last Sunday, as you probably have gathered already if you’ve been reading my previous posts, we made a supper of lamb chops and perogies. My wife and daughter were in charge of the perogies while I looked after the lamb chops and the rub for them.

We had never eaten lamb chops before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve had so many people tell me that it’s a strong meat and that they don’t like lamb at all but we wanted to try it for ourselves.

I created a rub for the lamb chops, with some ingredient suggestions from my wife. I rubbed it all into the chops, wrapped them up in plastic, then let them sit in the refrigerator for a few hours (more like 5). When supper time neared, I sauteed about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms then removed them from the pan. Then I pan seared the lamb chops in some butter and olive oil in a hot pan. I let them brown for a minute or so on each side then allowed them to finish in the oven.

Earlier in the day, about the same time I was making the rub, my wife and daughter began making the perogies using this recipe. They cooked up the potatoes, mashed them and added the rest of the filling ingredients. They then whipped up the dough, let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, then divided the dough into 16 balls. Each ball was rolled out individually and a spoonful of filling was placed in the center of each rolled dough round, which was then folded over and sealed closed in the traditional perogy shape. Aren’t they beautiful?

The finished perogies were then boiled, 4 at a time, for about 6 minutes per batch. They were then set aside until it was closer to supper. My wife pan fried them all in some butter in a hot pan, until they were golden and crispy on each side. They were served up with the requisite sour cream at supper time. See what my brilliant wife did with the leftover filling?

Our lamb chops and perogies came together beautifully for supper, accompanied by some steamed asparagus. If we make the perogies again, we will make them a bit smaller, and use the stick blender to make the filling smoother. Our verdict on the lamb chops is that we really enjoyed the flavour. Neither of us felt that it was strong tasting and we probably would have been hard pressed to tell it apart from beef, but that may have been due to the very savoury rub on it too. We did find the chops to be very fatty so if we have lamb again, we might go for a different cut next time. Maybe we’ll do lamb kabobs, or lamb stew, or lamb roast, or… so many possibilities.


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On Sunday, my wife’s mother and significant other came over. It was a dual purpose day. They had given us a range hood for Christmas and the gift included installation. Seeing as I am going to be cooking more, I thought it was time to install the hood. So they came over and M & I pulled out the stove and made a hole in the wall (and a small one in the floor by mistake- oops. No worries. It will be hidden by the stove.)

In the end end, we spent MUCH longer installing the range hood than I thought we would so our menu had to be modified somewhat. Thankfully, my wife had pre-cut all the vegetables for the ratatouille and I sliced the chicken and she marinated the strips for about 5 hours. So by 6pm, we started whipping up the meal. Well I did the whipping since I was making the whipped cream for the dessert.

Instead of basmati, I cooked a nice sticky rice. My wife skewered the chicken strips, interspersed with little grape tomatoes and button mushrooms. Then she set about browning all the vegetables for the ratatouille a bit at a time, in this order: eggplant slices, zucchini slices, sweet bell pepper chunks, red onions, garlic, and plum tomatoes. She deglazed the pan with a splash of white wine when there was only tomato, onion and garlic left in the pan. All the other veggies had been layered in a casserole dish. Then the tomato onion mixture was poured into the casserole and the whole dish was topped with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum! The ratatouille was popped into a 350F oven while I grilled the chicken brochettes and the rice took care of itself.

While that was going on, my wife made up a simple layered parfait of fresh whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and Nilla cookies (whole and crushed).

When the chicken was done on the grill outside, everything inside was also ready. We sat down to eat around 7pm. My mother in law and her man loved the meal, as did my wife and daughter. It was a great combo! The ratatouille tasted so fresh and cheesy. The rice was perfect with a bit of soya sauce. The chicken brochettes had great little char marks on them and the little mushrooms and tomatoes were juicy and delicious. The raspberry parfait was nice and light, and just the right thing to end our meal with. Afterwards, we retired to the livingroom to all watch Chef Academy on the Food Network and sipped on coffee or tea. It was a great evening.

How can it be better than that? Everybody loved the food, we had great company and I now have a range hood over my stove. I’m a happy guy.

Now I probably wouldn’t serve ratatouille in my diner but I could probably convince people to try a simpler version with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and mozzarella. I think they might go for that.

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A nice little bowl of chicken with rice soup

On Saturday, after closing up my little store uptown for the day (I own a handmade soap shop), I headed to the grocery store to pick up something quick for supper. My wife was in the mood for some supermarket roasted chicken so that’s what I got; a fully-cooked little rotisserie chicken.

We brought it home and had the chicken and some potato wedges, and my wife whipped up some quick coleslaw, complete with chopped dill pickles and a touch of the pickle juice in the creamy dressing. It was delicious.

Making the stock: After supper, my wife took all the meat off the chicken. There was still an entire breast left, as well as a fair bit of dark meat. The bones and all the fat, juices, wing tips, even the string that held the chicken together, all of that went into a small stock pot. We added a chopped carrot, chopped celery, the tops of a few onions that had sprouted in the pantry, two minced cloves of garlic, and some dried herbs (classic parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme). We added some water (about 7 cups) and 1 cup of leftover dry white wine from a previous gathering. I brought it all to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer for 2 hours.

When it was done simmering, the chicken stock was strained and the bones and cooked vegetables were set aside to cool so they could be picked through for any remaining meat the next day. Once the stock and strained veggies were cool, they were refrigerated.

Making the soup: The next day, my wife re-strained the stock through a fine mesh strainer, which did a great job of separating any floating fat globules. In a stockpot, we tossed in 2 large diced carrots, 2 stalks of sliced celery, 3 diced shallots, and 3 cloves of minced garlic, which we then drizzled with olive oil. The veggies were sweated over a medium heat until the onion and celery appeared somewhat translucent.

Our 6 cups of stock plus 6 cups of water were added to the stockpot, as well as more dried parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. The parsley was especially nice because we had recently dried it in our dehydrator and it was still in big natural pieces. I think it was the parsley that really gave it a great rustic soup feel. We added salt and pepper to taste (probably about 2 teaspoons of salt) and let it all simmer for about an hour and a half.

After it had been simmering for 90 minutes, my wife added all the chopped chicken she had salvaged from the bones and body, which was probably about 2 cups. I also tossed in 1/3 cup of raw basmati rice and about 12 mixed peppercorns.

The soup continued to simmer for about another 30 or 40 minutes and then it was ready to serve. It was probably the best chicken and rice soup I have ever had. It was perfectly seasoned and was full of flavour. I was initially concerned about how much salt my wife was adding but it was just right. This is a recipe that I would definitely make again, and could possibly be a keeper for my diner. My wife and I ate it with cheddar sourdough bread, while my daughter had hers with vegetable thin crackers. She loved hers too, especially since she’s been fighting a cold for a few days. I think the loving touch of homemade chicken soup will be just the thing to get her feeling better again.

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Fluffy Pancake Re-do

Yesterday morning I made the pancakes again, this time with fresh baking powder, and it seems to have made all the difference. This batch definitely cooked up light and fluffy. I’m not ready to call it a complete success yet though. There were a couple of things that I will improve on next time.

For starters, when I added the hot melter butter to my egg, I didn’t stir it up quickly enough and the heat from the butter cooked the egg a little bit. I don’t think it made a difference in the end product, but I will ensure to stir it up right away next time. The other thing I noticed is that my pan was too hot, and by the time the pancakes had the characteristic bubbles on top, they were a bit overdone on the bottom.

Regardless of my continuing pancake challenges, they still tasted delicious. I popped a nice large pat of butter on the stack and served them up with pancake syrup (instead of the maple we had last time, which my wife finds overly sweet), some sliced bananas (these add a real creamy richness to the breakfast) and some crisp bacon.

I have to say that my bacon is still not where I would like it to be, or at least not the way my wife would like it to be… yet. She is very specific about how she likes her bacon and I rarely succeed in preparing it exactly the way she craves. She likes nice, thinly sliced bacon, that is crisp, and just about melts in your mouth. I tend to prefer my bacon to be thick cut and very meaty. She finds that this always produces a hard, tough bacon that is difficult to eat. I welcome any “perfect” bacon tips you might have.

In the meantime, I will keep working on the pancakes again, possibly another morning this week. Look for more pancake pandemonium from me.

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I’m going to Diner School

Well sort of. It’s more like a self-imposed, self-led education. You see, I love food. I know, who doesn’t? I mean, if you saw me, you would say “That dude loves his food”. I’m fairly adventurous with my food and my cooking. My favourite kind of food is just good home-style cooking, especially breakfast, like the kind you might get in a logging camp, with baked beans, crisp bacon, home fries, eggs any way, thickly sliced toast, pancakes with syrup and a great coffee. Yup, I love my food.

I’m in my 40s now and I don’t think it’s ever too late to learn something new, or even take a new path in life. My love of food has had me thinking that I might like to own my own diner someday. I don’t have any culinary training. I just know what I like. So I’ve decided that I want to learn to cook new recipes or perfect the ones I already know. I want to push myself to try new techniques and flavour combinations. If I want to open a diner, well I had better know how to make good food and make it right, every time.

I’ve decided to really pay special attention to recipes that could work well in my fantasy diner. I’m going to document my own cooking learning path, and I’ll share my creations with friends, family and co-workers, and see what they think. And I’ll share them here with you too, using pictures and words, and the recipes I’m using.

I hope you’ll even try some of my food ideas and maybe someday, I will open that diner and people will come in and love and appreciate my food as much as I do.

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