" I truly think it is best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest" ~Maurice Sendak

Learning Curve


We are on holidays this week and getting a lot done around the house. Today was rainy so we ran errands and then I found myself puttering around the kitchen afterwords. A visit to our local Italian bakery and deli inspired me to try making my own olive tapenade, something I've never done before.
I am pleased with the result and plan on making different variations.
By the way I installed blogger on my iPad.  This is my first posting using it. It may look different..please bear with me while I get the hang if it! 

Black Olive Tapenade

I cup pitted sliced black olives
2 tbs parsley
1/8 cup of olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs capers
1 garlic clove minced
2 anchovy fillets
1tsp Dijon mustard 
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until blended.
Serve on bread or crackers. Will keep in fridge in a jar  for about two weeks.


Cheers! 






Real Men Do Eat Quiche

Although its been around forever..quiche had its heyday years ago back in the 80's and 90's. It was popping up in cookbooks and restaurant menus everywhere.

I must admit I have forgotten about it until last weekend when I was looking for something different to make for brunch, instead of my usual frittata.
I created this hearty layered version using leftover potatoes from the night before.
It took no time to assemble.
I know I should have made my own crust but I had a ton of yard work to get too so I cheated and used a store bought I had in the freezer.
This could be served for supper as well with a salad.
My husband loved it and asked for it to be served more often.
So there you go...contrary to that popular 80's book, real men do eat quiche!


Layered Ham and Potato Quiche
  • pie crust
  • cold sliced potatoes
  • sliced cooked ham
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • sliced green onions
  • 5 beaten eggs for each quiche with cream and parsley mixed in. 
Preheat oven to 425F
Layer ingredients in pie crust in order given.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F
Reduce oven to 350F and cook until golden and eggs are set (about 20 to 30 minutes)

Cheers!






Buried Treasure

While rooting around in my deep freezer the other day I found a bag of small packages of roasted tomatoes  from last fall. I was very pleased as I thought they got all used up.  I thawed a bunch and created this Mediterranean inspired dish.
If you don't have any on hand you can roast any type of small tomato in the oven quicker than I did previously...just turn the oven up to 375F and roast for about 30 minutes.
They will be a little more moist but that is fine for this recipe.

I chose quinoa for my starch here however, couscous, rice or a short pasta would work well here too.
It  really does pay off to tuck things away in the freezer to enjoy when certain vegetables or fruit are out of season.


Roasted Tomato Chicken over Quinoa

  •  ~olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
In a large deep skillet heat a bit of olive oil and brown the chicken.
Remove to plate and set aside.
Over medium high heat deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar.
Add remaining ingredients except quinoa and combine.
Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the mixture in the pan.
Bring to a low boil then reduce to a medium low.
Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened a bit.
Meanwhile cook quinoa or starch of choice according to package directions.

Serve chicken over quinoa.

Wine Suggestion: Chianti

Cheers!













Life as we know it...

Life has been a bit crazy so I took a bit of hiatus from Hall in the Kitchen..but wow... four months go by fast don't they?
The hot topic of conversation these days is the long harsh winter we are having. Has anyone heard of the term Polar Vortex until this year? I know I haven't!
All I want to do is either sit in front of my warm fireplace or cook comfort foods in the kitchen.
That said here are two hearty dishes to help us get through the last few weeks of the "Polar Vortex" winter we are having.


Savory Veal Scaloppine
Over Rice
  •  ~olive oil
  • 1 pound of thin sliced veal
  • 1  can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup of hoisen sauce
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • rice

In a large deep pan  heat a few glugs of olive oil and brown the veal lightly on both sides.
Add remaining ingredients except rice ,cover and cook on medium low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. Veal should be fork tender.
Meanwhile cook rice according to package.
Serve veal over the hot rice.





Sausage Penne
  •  ~olive oil
  • 1 lb of mild Italian sausage
  • 1 orange pepper chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 cup each of  milk and cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • penne
In a large deep pan  heat a few glugs of olive oil and cook the sausages until browned.
Remove and slice. Add the vegetables to pan and cook until softened.
add the sausages back to pan with Italian seasoning and toss together.
Cover and cook on medium low until sausages are cooked through and no longer pink in center.
Meanwhile boil the pasta according to package directions while you make the cream sauce.
In a small saucepan  heat the olive oil.
Add the flour whisking until smooth .
Add the milk or cream whisking until the cream sauce is to your desired consistency. Add the cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
You can add oregano or basil if you wish.
Drain the pasta.
Add the sausage mix and then the cream sauce, toss together and serve with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese on top.

Wine suggestion for both dishes: Malbec

Cheers!









Switch it Up

Thanksgiving weekend will see many tables filled with the traditional turkey and ham.
Why not switch it up this year with something different? 
If your gathering is small a leg of lamb is perfect and is far less work than a turkey.
Grilling creates a nice crispy layer on the outside and really brings out the flavour.
Place a foil pan underneath the rotisserie to catch the drippings for gravy.
Anything goes on the side, potatoes, rice, squash ect.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Greek Style Grilled Lamb
  • leg of lamb
  • 1 head of garlic peeled and sliced
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • lemon juice
  • pepper  


 Make slits in the lamb with a small knife and stuff the slices of garlic all over the lamb.
Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and rub all over the lamb.
(if you have time you can marinate the lamb in the fridge for a few hours.)
Place lamb on the rotisserie and cook until done.
Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Slice and serve with gravy recipe below if desired.


 Gravy

In a saucepan heat the lamb drippings. 
Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock. 
Add 1 tsp each of rosemary, oregano and mint.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to low boil. In a small jar mix 1/4 cup each of flour and water and shake until smooth. 
Stir into boiling liquid to thicken to you liking.



Wine Suggestion: Shiraz

Cheers!




Indulge

Every year my husband goes an annual fishing trip with the boys, so I  invite my friend over for a girls weekend.
We enjoy  treating ourselves to shopping, manicures and indulge in good food and wine.
This year I had quite a bit of  brie on hand so I created this decadent dish for Sunday brunch.
You could vary the cheese to suit what you have around such as Camembert or Gorgonzola.
I served this alongside crispy bacon and toast but  could  also be served with a green salad on the side.

Baked Brie Eggs with Herbs

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • small bunch of fresh chives and basil chopped fine
  •  1/4 to 1/2 a pound of brie cheese sliced
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F

Butter a baking dish.
In a bowl whisk the eggs with  the cream.
Add the herbs and salt and pepper and mix.
Pour into the baking dish and arrange the cheese slices on top.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and top is golden.
Slice into squares and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne 

Cheers!




Gettin' Figgy

Whenever I go visit my friend Adriana I try things I haven't had before such as grilled duck breast and fresh figs.
Both were amazing and I am now hooked forever.
This fig appetizer is super easy to prepare and tastes like an appetizer from a five star bistro menu.
While Adriana served me a green type fig I found black mission figs in my local grocery store for a fraction of the price. The taste is very similar.
I tucked in slices of different cheeses in a few some to mix it up a bit.


Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with a Balsamic  Reduction
  • 6 to 10 fresh figs cut in half
  • slices of thin prosciutto
  • small slices of various cheeses (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar 
Preheat oven to 400F


Wrap figs with prosciutto slices and arrange on a cookie sheet.
Insert pieces of cheese under the prosciutto on a few if desired.
 In a small saucepan bring the balsamic vinegar to a low boil and reduce heat and simmer stirring until thickened.
Place in oven until prosciutto starts to crisp.
Remove from the oven.
Arrange on a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Vinho Verde

Cheers!





Easy Breezy

Well here I am again in the middle of summer and feeling lazy.

I have to admit when it comes to cooking I am a cold weather gal.
I love making those cosy oven or stove top dishes that simmer for hours that warm you from nose to toes.
I get lazy in summer...throw a steak or burger on the grill...toss a salad...voila dinner is done. 
Well I decided that has to change and am challenging myself to be more creative in the warm months.
So I give you today a roast with a dry rub that can put together quickly and be put on the BBQ.
Anything goes on the side such as baked potatoes, beans or seasonal vegetable.

So here is to an easy breezy lazy summer!



Sirloin Dry Rub Roast

  • one 2 to 3 pound sirloin tip roast
  • 2 each tbsp chili powder and paprika
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp each oregano and thyme
Combine all seasonings in a bowl. 
Rub the roast on all sides with the spice mixture.

Roast on the BBQ on medium heat until thermometer reaches desired doneness. Turn occasionally.
  Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.
Wine Suggestion: Malbec

Cheers!






Mayday

So the calendar says it will be May next week. 
Did Mother Nature forget about giving us a spring this year?
We really need some spring weather around here, as I look out my window it is windy and pouring. Yesterday we had snow if you can believe that!

I am really looking forward to sitting on the patio soon so here is a summery easy appetizer that can be served at anytime of the year. This recipe was given to me by my cousins friend who was visiting from Germany last summer. It is light, healthy and takes minutes to assemble. Bocconcini cheese is found in the deli section. You can substitute any mild  soft cheese if you cant find it.
Try to use the best quality olive oil and balsamic you can find for the best flavour.

Hey Mother Nature ...enough already! Bring on Spring... please?


Cheese and Tomato  Canapes

  • 1 container of bocconcini cheese drained and sliced
  • 1/2 a dozen or so of ripe cocktail tomatoes sliced
  • a bunch of fresh basil leaves 
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • black olives
  •  salt and pepper 

On a platter arrange the tomatoes. 
Top each tomato with a basil leaf and a slice of bocconcini cheese.
Scatter black olives on the platter.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Season with ground course pepper and sea salt.

Wine Suggestion: Chianti

Cheers!





When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I'm so glad that March is here.
For me that signals that spring is just around the corner and for many, Spring break.
St. Patrick's Day is also coming up soon, and for that I have an authentic Irish stew recipe to share.

The stew's key ingredient here is Guinness
This beer is made from Guinness brewery a  brewery founded in 1759 in Dublin Ireland  by Arthur Guinness.
It is very dark and full of body and helps give the gravy a rich taste.
Browning the meat in small batches slowly allows the meat to become golden brown on the outside and not grey. By over crowding the pan the meat will cool down the pan and release too much water. So take your time it is well worth the effort.
I started the stew on the stove and then slow cooked it in the oven for a few hours.
By thickening the broth with cornstarch instead of flour  keeps the gravy color nice and dark.
Serve with Sourdough or Irish Soda bread.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!


Guinness Beef Stew
  • ~ vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 pounds of stewing beef or blade roast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 carrots and parsnips cut up
  • 5 potatoes cut up
  • 4 cups of beef stock
  • 1 cup of  Guinness Beer
  • 2tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp each of thyme and parsley
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water to thicken gravy
Preheat oven to 300F
In a dutch oven heat a couple of good glugs of  the oil and brown the meat slowly in batches until golden brown on all sides.
Remove to a plate.
Add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes until the onion softens.
Return the meat to the pot and add the liquids and spices.
Combine and bring to simmer.
Cover and place in the oven for about 3 hours.
Remove and place on stove top bring to low boil add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
Serve with warm bread.

Drink Suggestion: Guinness Original or Shiraz

Cheers!