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

Warm Up





Warm Up


Now that the cold weather has finally descended upon us our thoughts once again turn to warm comfort foods.
I have been making this classic ethnic dish for years and have wanted to post it many times but could never get a very good picture. This one is as good as it gets.

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 rice or potatoes 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 chopped
    * 1 tbsp minced garlic
    * 4 tbsp paprika
    * 2 tsp caraway seeds
    * 2 tsp oregano
    * 4 cups of beef stock
    * 1 can of tomato paste
    * 400mo of strained tomatoes
    * 1/2 tsp cayenne
    * salt and pepper to taste


In a dutch oven heat the oil and saute the onions 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 boil reduce heat and cook until meat is tender and stock is reduced.
About 2 hours.

Serve over potatoes, noodles or rice.


Wine Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheers!


Thank You

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us at last.

This is a time to give thanks for all we have and I wish to
thank all of you loyal readers for supporting my blog, it means a lot.

Most newspapers and magazines the past week are filled with Thanksgiving recipes such as roast turkey and pies.
I don't have any new holiday dishes to offer you this week but be sure to check out my previous posts if your still looking for last minute ideas for turkey, side dishes and pie.

This light healthy dish will be a welcome change next week when everyone is tired of turkey and gravy.

Panko bread crumbs are light airy crumbs made from crust less crispy bread. You can use any type of fish fillets here such as tilapia, salmon or trout. I used sole here.

Baking the fish in the oven instead of frying makes this dish virtually fat free.
There is something to be thankful for!


Have a great long weekend and happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Panko Crusted Fish Fillets

  • 1 pound of fish fillets
  • 4 eggs beaten with milk
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried mixed herbs ( I used parsley, basil, oregano and lemon pepper)
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix the crumbs, herbs, salt and pepper on a shallow plate.
Mix eggs and milk also in a shallow plate.
Spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray or use parchment paper or a Silpat pad.
Dip the fish pieces in the egg and then press into the crumbs coating well.
Place on baking sheet and bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until fish is opaque and coating is golden.


Wine Suggestion: Pinot Grigio

Cheers!


Fall Fare

This is my favorite time of year.

I love everything about fall, the cool crisp days, the abundance of vegetables and fruits at the markets, and cooking comfort food in my kitchen.

This is a simple pork stew that takes minutes to prepare and can simmer slowly filling the house with a wonderful aroma and making the pork so tender it melts in your mouth.


I used fresh herbs here as my garden is overflowing with them right now.
A slice of hearty whole grain bread and glass of wine is all you need to complete this meal.


Happy Fall!


Pork Stew
  • ~olive oil
  • 1 pound cubed pork
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 can of white kidney beans
  • 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of minced fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley savory and thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven heat the olive oil and brown the meat
Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil reduce heat and simmer until pork is fork tender ( 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
.

Wine Suggestion: Oaked Chardonnay

Cheers!


Good Stuff

Hooray!

It looks like we are finally getting some good summer weather!

For a while there entertaining on the patio was a wash out! No pun intended. But all that is behind us now..Its looking like August is going to be a beautiful month for backyard entertaining.

This is a simple dish that can be done in the oven or on the grill.
You can vary the filling to suit your tastes. Look for large stuffing mushrooms at least 21/2 inches in diameter or small portabellos.

These are great along side a juicy steak as a side dish, on their own as an appetizer or as a light meal with a salad.

Welcome Back Summer!



Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 8 large button or small portabello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs ( thyme, mint, oregano, basil and chives)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • butter

Clean mushrooms and remove stems.
Finely dice stems. In a frying pan heat the olive oil and butter and add the stems along with the garlic and saute until soft.

In a bowl mix the cheese, bread crumbs, herbs, salt and pepper.
Add the garlic and mushrooms and mix well.

Place the mushrooms hole side up on a baking sheet coated with olive oil.
Stuff each mushroom. You can add more cheese on top if you wish.
Brush the sides of the mushrooms with olive oil. Drizzle over top as well.
Bake in 375 degree oven or place on grill and cook until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated , about 15 to 20 minutes.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot Grigio

Cheers!



Mid Week Treats

It's too bad we get cheated out of a long weekend this year with Canada Day falling on a Wednesday.
It is still nice to have a vacation day and enjoy a leisurely brunch, a real treat in the middle of the work week.

We recently had brunch at my in-laws. They served this wonderful dish that they have been making for years. It was so memorable I decided to recreate it at home.
You could substitute the apples with pears, peaches or plums.


Served alongside warm pancakes this brunch will be the perfect start to your day off.


Happy Canada Day!



Caramelized Apples and Sausages
  • 1 package of breakfast sausages
  • 3 apples cored peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup each of brown sugar and maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

In a frying pan cook the sausages until golden and done in the centre.
Remove and set aside.
Slice sausages in half if too long.
Add the remaining ingredients to pan.
Cook over low heat until sauce begins to thicken.
Return sausages to pan and cook on low for about 10 to 15 minutes until sauce has caramelized and apples are soft and golden.

Serve alongside warm pancakes.


Cheers!

Cheap Skate

The busy summer entertaining season is here at last!
This can also be an expensive time of year with vacations, weddings and gatherings.
Pork is one of the cheapest and easiest things to prepare for a crowd, It literally cooks on its own unattended and is extremely versatile.

Here are two pork recipes that can be assembled in under 10 minutes.
The first one is a long slow cooking pork picnic shoulder roast.
This cut of pork is one of the cheapest deals around and tastes just like very expensive smoked pork chops. We couldn't tell the difference.
The brown sugar glaze creates a sweet contrast to the smoky flavor of the pork.

The second is a pork tenderloin dish made with a jar of black olive tapenade. It looks and tastes like bistro fare.

You can entertain in style without breaking the bank and nobody will ever guess how little you spent on these two fabulous dishes.


Happy Summer!



Picnic Pork Shoulder with a Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze


  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 6 to 8 pound picnic pork shoulder

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside

Place roast in a shallow pan and place in a oven or barbecue set at 225 F. Cook for 3 hours.
Spread the glaze over the roast and cook for a further 2 hours.

Slice and serve.

Wine Suggestion: White Zinfandel






Pork Tenderloin Provencal


  • 1 jar of black olive and fig tapenade
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 pork tenderloins

In a bowl combine the first 4 ingredients. Place tenderloins in a shallow roasting pan if using the oven, and then spread over the pork tenderloins.

Place pan in the oven or place tenderloins on a preheated barbecue set at 325F.
Cook for one hour or until internal temperature reaches 160F.

Slice and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Malbec


Cheers!






Easy Does It

The warm weather is finally here!
Time for barbecuing and all the easy side dishes that go along with it.

Coleslaw is a summer staple that has been around for years.
It is easy to throw together to serve a crowd. This is a creamy version with a bit of added tang.
You can adjust seasonings to suit your tastes. Sweet vidalia onions and garden chives are in season now and go well in this salad.

Happy Spring!

Creamy Cole Slaw
  • 1 bag of shredded cabbage coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 sweet vidalia onion minced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix well in a bowl and chill for at least one hour.

Toss before serving.

Cheers!

Creme de la Creme

I am the first to admit it. I am not a "dessert person". Lord knows.... I don't even have a "sweet tooth!"
I am a savory person all the way, however, when I tried this dessert.... I think I could be converted.

Crème Brûlée.
My friend got me onto this famous french dessert that dates back to 1691.
Translated it means burnt cream.
Essentially it is a custard is that is chilled and immediately before serving , sugar is sprinkled over the top and caramelized with a blow torch or put under a broiler, resulting in a hot, crunchy caramelized top that contrasts with the cool, soft custard.
You can scale the recipe down depending on your ramekin size. This recipe makes 6 to 8 medium ramekins.

This is a total delight!
I can't say anymore..just go and make it...and be prepared...
For total bliss~

Thank you Adriana, for sharing your wonderful recipe.




Crème Brûlée

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 split vanilla bean

In a sauce pan warm the cream.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise scrape seeds and add both to the cream.
In a bowl mix the sugar and egg yolks well.
Add the cream to the eggs mixture whisking all the while.
Strain to remove large seeds and vanilla bean.
Pour into Ramekins 3/4 full and place on large deep baking sheet. Add water to create a "double boiler"
Cook at 375F for 45 min until firm like jello.
Refrigerate
Sprinkle sugar on top and use a blow torch to caramelize or heat under broiler.

Serve.

Cheers!







Where's the Butter?

I simply love ethnic food from distant countries. Indian food is becoming increasingly popular.
We have quite a few Indian restaurants in our city.
One of the most popular dishes is Butter Chicken. It actually has no butter in it at all. The name refers to the silky tender texture of the chicken that literally melts in your mouth.

A friend gave me her recipe for butter chicken. I tweaked it a little to suit my taste.
It was a huge success in my house as everyone loved it!

Garam Masala and tandoori paste can be found in the ethnic isle of most grocery stores.
Serve over top of a fragrant bed of basmati rice with peas and warm Naan bread on the side.




Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

Marinade
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces
  • 4 tbs tandoori paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 2tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups of cream
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • half a small minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp tandoori paste
  • pepper
  • ~oil

In a zip lock bag combine the paste, garam masala, salt and pepper. Add the chicken . Toss to mix well and place in fridge to marinate overnight.

~

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the chicken with the marinade in a dutch oven. (Cast iron works best here) Brown on stove top then place in oven for 45 min until tender and cooked through.

Meanwhile in a saucepan heat a bit of olive oil and add the onion and garlic. When soft add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Add to the chicken in the dutch oven and return to oven for 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Wine Suggestion: Gewurztraminer


Cheers!


Unexpected

As I have said before turkey is one of the leanest most nutritious meats around and
throughout the year there are often sales on turkeys better than Christmas or Thanksgiving.

So why wait until those times to enjoy turkey? Next time you see great sale on turkeys, stock up! Not only is it good for you but very economical as leftovers can provide days worth of meals. Switch it up by changing the usual ingredients for something unexpected.
I have given the traditional turkey a southern flair by glazing it with a spicy honey mixture and kicking up the stuffing a notch by adding a couple different ingredients.

So have fun cooking turkey by adding your own ethnic flair and don't pass up on all the great benefits of this great meat.



Spicy Glazed Turkey with Southern Style Stuffing


  • 1 thawed 7 to 12 pound turkey
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground chili's
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp water
  • ~ olive oil

Stuffing

  • 1 loaf of bread diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper diced
  • one green onion sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon, prosciutto or other smoky type meat.
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups chicken broth.
  • 3 tbs butter
Heat oven to 325F
In a frying pan melt the butter and cook the yellow onion and red pepper until soft add the spices, green onion and meat. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Place bread in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture and broth and mix well. Set aside to cool.
~
Prepare stuffing as above and let cool. Meanwhile, In a bowl mix spices, honey, garlic and water until well blended.
Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse inner and outer cavities of the turkey and pat dry with paper towel. Stuff turkey and brush outer skin with olive oil.
Cover and place in the oven. Cook 3- to 31/2 hours
After the first 2 hours remove the cover and brush with the honey spice mixture. The temperature of the thermometer inserted into stuffing should read 165F and in the turkey thigh 180F when the turkey is fully cooked.
Remove turkey from pan to a platter and remove stuffing to a serving dish and carve turkey as desired. Place the roasting pan over 2 burners on the stove. Heat the drippings scraping the bits of turkey off the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
Heat to boiling. In a small jar mix 1/4 cup each of flour and water and shake until smooth.
Pour water flour mixture slowly into the hot broth , stirring well until thickened to desired consistency.
Season with sage , thyme, salt and pepper or whatever you prefer to taste. At this point you may use a gravy separator to remove any fat for a lighter gravy if you wish. Strain gravy into a gravy boat and serve along side the turkey.


Wine Suggestion: Vidal

Cheers!




Vintage Fare

In a world full of cooking channels and millions of cookbooks, cuisine has come a long way over the years.
I will admit I love to try out new fads and cooking styles but at the end of the day I am still a fan of the classic recipes and cooking methods of many decades ago. Uncomplicated, traditional and wholesome.

A simple roast prime rib of beef is as traditional as it gets.
Although quality and cuts of meat have improved through the years. the method of cooking has hardly changed.

Yorkshire pudding is a bread type dish created in Yorkshire England in the 1700's.
It is made with the drippings from the roast.
I find that with today's leaner cuts I hardly have any fat drippings so I use butter instead.

It tastes just as good!

You can make a gravy or au jus by adding beef broth to the pan and scraping any bits off the bottom along with any drippings your roast produced.




Classic Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding


  • 3 to 5 lb prime rib roast
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of milk

Heat oven to 425F. Place roast standing on rib end in the roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a glass or ceramic dish melt the butter in the oven.
Mix the milk, eggs and flour in a bowl and then pour into dish with the butter.

After the 15 minutes for the roast, reduce heat to 250F. Cook for 15 to 20 min per pound.
Place the Yorkshire pudding in the oven 15 more minutes before roast is done.Raise oven temperature to 375. Bake until  the pudding is puffy and golden.



Wine Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheers!





Tender Times

In these economic times people are entertaining at home more and eating out less.
It can be difficult to put together an elegant meal on a budget that is company worthy.

This dish is perfect for those occasions.
Pork tenderloin is cheap and extremely versatile. You can assemble this in the morning and let it marinate all day.
Serve with fluffy mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus, and you have a meal cheaper and better than you would find any overpriced bistro.

Rosemary Dijon Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 3 tbsp honey Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 2 pork tenderloins

Combine the first six ingredients in a zip lock bag. Add the tenderloins and marinate in the fridge for 7 to 8 hours.
Place tenderloins in a shallow roasting pan and roast at 325 for 1 hour until internal temperature reaches 160F.

Slice and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Riesling

Cheers!





The Real Thing


I have previously posted that I have many different variations of chili recipes.

This is an authentic Mexican style chili.
In Mexico and some southwest states they do not use ground beef in their chili, true southwest style chili is made with cubes of beef.
Salsa Clasica sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. If you cant find it chipotle sauce would substitute well.
The longer cooking time results in a tender stew style chili that will warm you up after coming in from the cold.





Authentic Southwestern Chili

  • ~oil
  • 2 pounds of stewing beef or a rib roast cubed
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 can each of Mexican red beans and kidney beans drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • half a dozen or so of fresh Roma tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp of Salsa Clasica sauce
Preheat oven to 300F.
In an oven proof dutch oven heat the oil and saute the onions until soft.
Add the beef and brown on all sides.

Add the remaining ingredients, mix well cover and cook in the oven for about 2 and a half hours until meat is tender.

Cheers!



Silver Lining

Are you feeling it yet?

Whether it be the post holiday letdown, the pinch of the recession combined with the holiday credit card bills or simply the winter blues January can be a tough month. However
, it can also be a time to slow down and take it easy after all the rushing of the holiday season.
This is the perfect dish for this time of year because it is very economical and comforting.
Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon at home.


Lamb shoulder costs a lot less then other lamb parts such as the leg or loin chops. Braising it for hours allows this usually tough cut of meat to become fork tender. Be sure to cut around the blade bone before cooking so that carving will be easier.

Because everything cooks in one pot you can put you feet up by the fire, pour a glass of wine and relax while your house is filled with the aroma of this wonderful dish.

See..every cloud has a silver lining!


Braised Lamb Shoulder
  • 1 lamb shoulder (about 5 pounds)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • carrots cut up
  • potatoes cut up
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 a cup of white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • mint leaves minced
Preheat oven to 375.
Scatter garlic cloves on the bottom of a large dutch oven.
Place the lamb shoulder on top.

Mix olive oil , minced garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and rub all over roast.

Cover and Roast for 3 hours.

Add carrots, potatoes water and wine.

When vegetables are tender and the meat has pulled away from the bone remove from oven.
Place roast on a platter and cover with foil.
With a slotted spoon remove vegetables to a serving dish and keep warm.
Place dutch oven over medium high heat on stove top.
Add chicken broth and mint and bring to a boil stirring well to get bits off the bottom of the pot.
In a small jar mix 1/4 cup each of flour and water and shake until smooth.
Pour water flour mixture slowly into the hot broth , stirring well until thickened to desired consistency.
Season to taste.

Slice roast and serve.


Wine Suggestion: Syrah


Cheers!