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

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!




Matchmaker

I am a big fan of pairing foods with wine.

This Christmas I received a bottle of wine as a gift.
It said on the label that the wine went well with Hoisin Steak.
So I set out to find the perfect recipe to go with this wine however most of the recipes I researched had the steaks being grilled outside.
Well, we all know that right now it is way to cold to be outside grilling so I made up my own version using the oven.

Hoisin sauce is found in the Asian section of grocery stores. It is made from soybeans and spices.

I was so pleased with how this turned out and with the wine it was a match made in heaven.



Oven Hoisin Steak
  • 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  •  1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 4 strip loin steaks
 Mix first 4 ingredients and place in a zip lock bag.
Add steaks and marinate in fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F
Place steaks and remaining marinade in baking dish.
Cook in the oven until streaks are done to your liking. (about 20 minutes for medium)
Let rest for a few minutes and serve with rice and broccoli. 


Wine Suggestion: Red Velvet by Cupcake Winery


Cheers!



Rerun

Now that the cold weather has finally descended upon us our thoughts once again turn to warm comfort foods.
I have previously posted this recipe before however I recently made it again and revamped the ingredients. I think it is much better so I am posting it again.

Hungarian Goulash has been around since the early 19th century. It was very popular among herdsmen who worked in the fields. They cooked this cross between a soup and stew over an open fire in a cast iron pot.

This hearty dish can be served on its own with crusty bread, over potatoes or rice as I have done here.

I guarantee this dish will warm you from the inside out.

Hungarian Goulash


  • ~olive oil
  • 2 pounds of diced stewing beef
  • 3 onions sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1  cup of strained tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325F
In a dutch oven heat the oil and saute the onions and peppers until light brown.
Add the beef and cook until browned.
Add garlic and seasonings and continue to cook until a few more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients bring to a low boil.
Cover and place in the oven.
Cook until meat is tender and stock is reduced.
About 3 hours.


Serve over potatoes, noodles or rice.


Wine Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheers!







Sidekick

Its that time again.
 Time to get back to reality. No more over indulgence. Time to get back to healthy eating and exercise  to work off all those holiday treats.
This side dish is made with one of the labeled "superfoods",  sweet potatoes.
Ive mentioned before that they are chock full of nutrients and goodness. I am always looking for different ways to prepare them.

This dish is pretty easy to get together and goes well with just about any meat, especially pork and chicken. You can vary the amount of bread crumbs and cheese you put on top to suit your liking.

So there you have it, comfort food that is also good for you!
What a way to kick start the New Year!


Two Potato Layered Gratin

  • 1/2 a garlic clove
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound of Yukon gold potatoes sliced thin (peeled if you wish)
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thin.
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of light cream  ( or you can use all milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • breadcrumbs
  • grated old cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
 Preheat oven to 350

Rub a shallow baking dish with the garlic clove and then brush with a layer of olive oil.
Arrange Yukon gold potatoes slices in the bottom.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Arrange sweet potato slices over top.
season with salt pepper.
Continue layering in this fashion until you have used up the potatoes.
Heat the milk, nutmeg and cream if using together in a saucepan.
Pour over the potatoes . Top with bread crumbs and grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 60 to 70 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Cheers!