Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting in under the wire

Yeah yeah I'm late, whatever.  Yesterday was not a good day.  I went to the dentist and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening on the couch.  I'm back on track today, however, so wanted to get a meal plan in before the week is gone.

Do you ever post something in your meal plan that you hope to make, but then never get around to it?  I went back and looked at mine over the last year and a half and made a list of those "misses".  One of them was the awesome Curried Fish Pie I posted about yesterday.  Hopefully I'll get a few more done in the future.

Monday - left over beet burgers (lunch) and left over curried fish pie (dinner)
Tuesday - left over curried fish pie (lunch) and South American Style Brunch (dinner)
Wednesday - Asian veggie soup with buckwheat noodles (lunch), dinner out with a friend
Thursday - Asian veggie soup with buckwheat noodles (lunch), Farm Boy Thai sausages, roasted beets, carrots & potatoes (dinner)
Friday - Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sobey's JO Sweet Leek & Mushroom Pilaf

Monday, February 23, 2015

Curried Fish Pie

I've come to love fish pie, but they are usually heavy on dairy products like cream and cheese.  Sadly, most of the fare in Jamie's Comfort Food is not really in my comfort zone to eat.  But I knew as soon as I saw this next recipe that it was a match made in heaven!  A fish pie with an Indian flair.

468.  Curried Fish Pie (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 36)

Mastercook.com ingredients list

I started out making a big pot of boiled potatoes.  I decided that I'd use 2/3 for this huge fish pie, and the other 1/3 for a shepherd's pie for my red meat-eating son.  Ok, not a British shepherd's pie, because that would be lamb.  Here, we make shepherd's pie with ground beef.  In Britain, they'd call it a cottage pie.  I added onions, carrots and garlic for flavour, simmered with some flour & stock for a few minutes, then topped it with the potatoes, mashed with butter and milk.  Done!

Next up, I started on my filling.  I made a "temper" of curry leaves, garlic, ginger, fresh red chile and mustard seeds, by frying them in a lug of olive oil for a few minutes.  I reserved some of this for later, then added two sliced onions to the pan, along with some fenugreek seeds and turmeric.  If you watch episode #5 of Jamie's Comfort Food, you will probably be as amazed as I was to see little Buddy, all of 4 years old, confidently hand his dad each of these spices when called for.  How awesome is that?

After about 5 minutes, I added a tin of coconut milk and four big handfuls of fresh baby spinach.  I put a lid on loosely and let that come to a boil for a few minutes, then took it off the heat to cool.  I chopped up a few tomatoes and scattered them over the filling.  I covered this with a clean tea towel and went out for a while.  When I returned, I quickly chopped up my fish (two tilapia fillets & some salmon) and shelled my shrimp.  I also added a very small packet of bay scallops that I'd defrosted.  I made sure all the seafood was well drained and dried off with paper towels.  Then I added it to the mixture, pushing it down into the filling, and topped the works with mashed potatoes (using vegan butter and soy milk).  Into the oven it went at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

I took it out of the oven and scattered the temper over the top, then put it back under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to crisp up.  It looked pretty impressive...too bad there was only me to appreciate it!  LOL
It was very creamy but almost a bit soupy.  Perhaps I should have let it cool a bit more before dishing it out, but I couldn't wait.  However, it was as delicious as I expected it would be.  The only thing I realized that I didn't do was to season it at any stage of cooking, so I gave it a liberal amount of salt on top.  This makes enough for six people, so I portioned the remainder out into five containers, and put them in the fridge.  I'm sure I'll eat it for at least three nights running, but I may freeze the rest for another day's quick meal.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pukka Yellow Curry

I seem to be on a colour theme.  What's next?  Perhaps something red.......I've got a lot of beets.  LOL.  Tonight I finally got around to making this dish from last week's meal plan.  It's been another crazy week!

467.  Pukka Yellow Curry (Save With Jamie, page 104)

JamieOliver.com recipe

I made a quick curry paste in the food processor, using half an onion, half a yellow pepper, cilantro stalks, red chile, garlic, ginger, honey, turmeric & curry powder.  Neither kid tonight was remotely interested in trying this, so I fried eight chicken legs, but removed four to another pan, to be eaten plain, with rice and boiled broccoli.  Whatever.  Their loss!  I put my four partially cooked legs aside, then chopped up the remaining onion & pepper and sauteed them in the chicken juices. I added a bit of tomato paste, boiling water, and half a can of navy beans, and simmered this for a few minutes.  Then I seasoned, and put the chicken back in the pan, covered, and let it bubble away for about 45 minutes.

This was such a simple meal to throw together, but it didn't lack in taste!  I was really amazed at how good it was, considering it used curry powder instead of individual spices.  The navy beans really worked in place of the chick peas Jamie calls for....reminded me a bit of those tins of "pork and beans" I grew up on, but with attitude!   I garnished it with cilantro leaves and served it over basmati rice.  Delicious!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Green Chili

I am not always inspired to do much in these horrible Arctic temperatures except get under a blanket, drink tea and eat toast.  But today, with the wind chill down around -30C, I figured it might help heat the kitchen to do a bit of real cooking for a change.  ;)

466. Green Chili (Jamie's America, page 165)

JamieOliver.com recipe

I've been on a bit of a green kick lately....bok choi, spinach, avocado, edamame...so this recipe caught my eye, and made it onto my short list of things to cook.  I thought that this might be one of those rare meals that my son and I would equally enjoy, because there are no beans in this chili, and he dislikes beans.  Of course, I had to make a pretty major substitution - chicken for pork - but otherwise I had everything required.

Another anomaly with this chili recipe is the lack of spice.  Just veggies, herbs and meat.  I browned off some ground halal chicken ("hand slaughtered" plastered on the package) along with a bit of dried sage leaves from my garden, and salt and pepper.  I added a chopped onion, green pepper, and two jalapeno chiles, along with a large, thinly sliced garlic clove.  I let this fry over high heat for about 15 minutes until it lost all of it's moisture and was starting to get a bit golden.  Then I added two chopped, red tomatoes and a small splash of water, and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so over a medium heat.  I seasoned it again and took it off the heat.

In the meantime, I sliced up a couple of green onions and a small bunch of fresh mint.  I washed and roughly chopped some fresh romaine lettuce (not the bagged hearts either) and left it all on the cutting board to be added to each bowl of chili.

I threw a couple of tortillas into the toaster over for myself, but my son insisted he would rather eat his meal taco-style, so I left his tortillas soft and cold.

Jamie describes this as a dry chili, but just the tomatoes alone made this fairly wet, I found.  It worked for me as a chili, but my son used a slotted spoon to put the mixture into his taco.  He also ignored the onions and the mint, which was definitely his loss, because to me, they are what pimps this up to the next level.

My son loaded his taco up with cheese, real sour cream and lettuce, and declared that it was bland.  I loaded my bowl up with mint and green onions, and topped it off with some delicious homemade cashew sour "cream".  The chile wasn't knock your socks off spicy, but it had a nice hum from the jalapenos, and the flavours of the garnishes rocked.  It was amazing!  Like nothing I've had before really.  I went back for seconds before I'd even finished my first bowl.  Hopefully Mr. "Bland" will leave the left overs for me!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vegetable Soup Three Ways

My son, who headed off to Regina this morning for six months of RCMP training, requested his favourite home-cooked dinner last night:  Chicken tikka lentil, spinach & naan salad.  I made a big pot of rice to go with it, for the curry and lentil haters, and figured I could repurpose the left over rice, cilantro and spinach in other meals through the week.  I decided to make this next recipe as a vegetarian offering for dinner as well. I loved the possibilities for left over lunches this week! 

465. Easy Vegetable Soup - Three Ways (Jamie's Food Tube)

FoodTube Video

I jotted down the following notes while watching the video:

1 onion,
2 carrots,
2 garlic,
bunch of thyme,
1 tbsp each of cumin seeds & fennel seeds

In a pot over medium heat, add a lug of olive oil and sauté until soft

Chop 2 sweet potatoes and 1/2 a butternut squash into equal sized pieces.  Add to pot.
Season with sea salt and pepper, top up pot with vegetable stock.  Simmer 20-30 minutes
Add a few big handfuls of baby spinach to wilt down before serving.

Three ways to serve:
Keep 1/3 of the soup chunky, and blitz the rest with hand blender.
1. Bash a red chile, thyme and salt, add EVOO.  Drizzle over bowl of blitzed soup.
2. Add 4 tbsp canned canelli beans to bowl of chunky soup, top with crispy fried sage leaves.
3. Add a scoop of cooked rice to bowl, then add blitzed soup and top with yogurt.

I had a bowl of the blitzed soup before the kids arrived, and ate it with a delicious, rustic slice of sourdough bread and vegan butter. OMG to die for!  Tiffany ate a bowl for dinner over rice, and took a container home for lunches, too.

I really like the videos I've seen on FoodTube so far from Anna Jones.  I might have to buy her cookbook entitled A Modern Way To Eat.  It's vegetarian, but also doesn't emphasize dairy as much as most vegetarian cookbooks do.  I'm adding it to my wish list along with Oh She Glows.  :)

And since it's Monday, it's time to plan out my week!  I've made a resolution to get my ass to the gym/pool at least once a week going forward (but better if it's two). I feel my weight starting to creep up again and I don't like it.  I also don't like how couch potato-ish I've started to become this winter.  Here's what I hope to be eating.

I got some really nice, fresh mint, basil, and beets (with greens) at the farmer's market this past weekend.  I will have to use the herbs up quickly, perhaps in a pasta or else I'll make a batch of vegan pesto.  My fridge is also pretty full of left overs that need to be eaten.  However, when I run out later this week, I hope to make a few of the following meals:

Green Chilli from Jamie's America
Posh beans on toast from Save With Jamie
Pukka Yellow Curry from Save With Jamie


This is what I was doing and/or cooking
1 year ago:  A big pot of minestrone soup in between watching events at the Olympics
2 years ago:  Citrus & Almond Polenta Cake
3 years ago:  Creamy Asparagus Soup
4 years ago:  Vegetable Jalfrezi
5 years ago:  Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake

Monday, February 2, 2015

Back to Basics

Life is finally slowing down and getting back to normal after a couple of weeks of skating competitions and special occasions.  Lots of meals in restaurants lately have really opened my eyes to the fact that people eat WAY more dairy than they realize.  It was next to impossible to order anything from a menu without making special requests (except for in Asian restaurants, which are of course my favourite!)  When you are out with a group of people, you just have to go with the flow and do the best you can.  I spent six days away from home and am very thankful that I thought to prep and bring a lot of food with me. 

Tofu schnitzel - probably the weirdest thing I've ever ordered!

Since I've been home, I've had a few make-your-own pizza nights. The kids love pepperoni (the turkey variety, for those of us who don't eat red meat), mushrooms, peppers, and onions.  I always load mine up with fresh spinach and arugula first!  I finally broke down and bought some Daiya shredded cheese, which is better than I expected!  It's awesome to have cheesy pizza again. 

This week I hope to make a couple of big pots of vegan soup.  It's cold and snowy and I love having left over soup to bring to work for lunch, and/or come home to for dinner.  I also plan to cook trout and/or salmon a few nights, as I have it in the freezer.  I bought ground beef for the kid ... he's always happy with tacos.  I also got some boneless/skinless chicken breasts on sale.  Not very specific meal planning going on I guess, but I'm definitely making this:

Easy Squash & Sweet Potato Soup 3 Ways - I love being able to make different meals from the same base recipe!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pan-Fried Squid & Shrimp with Chilli, Tomato and Fennel Salad

So, I went squid shopping today.  The guy at the fresh fish counter at Farm Boy told me that they no longer stocked fresh or frozen squid because it is not sustainable.  That was news to me.  I did a quick Google search, and it seems as though they are quite sustainable.  The lady at the fresh fish counter at Metro directed me to the freezer, and proudly pointed out this product.

Yes, it's a 5 lb block of frozen solid squid.  When I asked if they sold it in a smaller size, she said it was delivered that way and there would be no way to separate it without thawing it...so, no.  The only other option was the ever popular frozen squid ring.

I still had a partial pack of these in my freezer, so I went home empty handed....well, except for a bag of fresh lemons.  You can never have enough fresh lemons!
464.  Pan-Fried Squid with Chilli and Tomato (Jamie's Food Tube)
I wanted to try this recipe because I love the fennel salads that I've made in the past.  I've used frozen squid rings in a few other recipes and they aren't that bad.  It's just a shame that they are the only option around here.  Not everyone wants to make fried calamari!  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  ;) 
There isn't a written recipe, as this is an outtake from Jamie's Italy, filmed in 2005.  I jotted some points down while watching, and winged it.  I decided to crack open this cool little JO spice collection I got for Christmas.
After my seafood was defrosted, I dried it on paper towels and seasoned it with salt, pepper and chile flakes.
For the salad, I used my new, colour-coded, super-sharp JO knives to thinly slice up a bulb of fennel and some ripe tomatoes.  I dressed it with white wine vinegar, EVOO, lemon zest, salt and fennel fronds.
I heated a frying pan, added olive oil, and quickly sautéed the seafood until just done.  Nothing worse than rubbery squid rings!

This was filling and tasty!  A quick and easy dinner to throw together.  I didn't measure anything.  I have lots of salad left over for lunches, because I ate all the seafood.  Oops.