Friday, December 17, 2010


You must go buy an ice cream maker, now! Seriously. Go. Go now.

I credit William Sonoma whom I don't really like as I find them to be snooty and overpriced but I'm on their mailing list and low and behold they had a 1 day sale on the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and it just happened to be in red, with a extra bucket and it just so happened to be my birthday so we went and got one. I have no regrets.

I have 2 memories of making homemade ice cream before now and both of them are fond. The first was at my Grandma's cabin in LaPine Oregon one summer. She had the old a fashion kind that was a wooden bucket that you filled with ice & salt and a metal canister sat in the middle with a iron crank. I remember we all took turns for what seemed like an eternity turning the crank and adding more ice and salt and after what seemed like a ridiculously labour intensive process we were finally all rewarded with a small bowl of glorious homemade vanilla ice cream. I think I was vaguely disappointed in the fact that it was vanilla but that was when I was young and foolish and didn't understand the pure simple elegance of what is vanilla. We also probably didn't use a vanilla bean.

My second memory of homemade ice cream was in Sandy Hill's 8th grade science class. I think he was demonstrating the use of salt to raise the boiling point of water and how it makes ice water cooler, or something like that, clearly the lesson to me was homemade ice cream rocks. He used a similar old fashion maker to what my grandmother had but his was broken somehow and using it involved someone standing on a desk with one foot on top of the maker as we furiously cranked away.

Well I'm happy to say that ice cream makers have come a long way and are very simple in design. Put bowl in freeze the day before, make a custard or at least I like the custard kind best but you can literally just mix milk, cream and sugar and use that. Let the custard chill in the fridge for a couple hours. Pour into bowl, turn on maker and 20 minutes later you have pure creamy goodness.

I can't claim the recipe as I just followed Cuisinart's instructions although I did use half & half instead of heavy cream, and next time I make some (tomorrow) I'm going to use a tad less sugar. But that is the beauty of making your own ice cream, you can control the fat & the sugar.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slow Cooker: North African Beef Stew

I love beef stew, but after making this recipe I really love beef stew. I spice it up a little so if you don't want the heat but still want a very flavourful stew just omit the chipotle chili pepper.

olive oil
2 pounds trimmed & cubed stewing beef
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 large white onion coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots chopped
4 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 cups chicken stock
1 can of chick peas or mixed beans or lentils
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp sherry

Salt & pepper beef and brown on all sides in olive oil. Transfer to slow cooker on low. Careful not to crowd the pan and brown the beef well. Add onions and soften for a couple minute before adding the carrots and the garlic. Cook for a couple minutes before adding the spices. Toast the spices for a minute and then deglaze the pan with the sherry. Transfer the veggies to the slow cooker, add the raisins and the stock. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with wild rice or couscous.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slow Cooker: Drunken Irish Pork Chops

So cooking with a new baby presents an interesting challenge, time pressure. Bascially my window of opportunity for anything revolves around Otis' nap schedule which is somewhat unpredicable. If I'm lucky I get an hour, not so lucky 30 minutes and really lucky 90. Of course in that time I have to shower, pump, eat and try and make dinner. So my new best friends has become the slow cooker.

I found this recipe for Smothered Bourbon Pork Chops that turned out amazing. I didn't have any bourbon but we did have a bottle of Irish Whiskey so I fiddled with the ingredients a bit and I guess my take on it is Drunken Irish Pork Chops.

Olive Oil
4 1 inch thick bone in pork chops
2 tbsp butter
1 large white onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/2 cup Ketchup
1/4 Irish Whiskey
1/3 cup Maple syrup
1 tsp Frank's Redhot
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 chicken stock

Premix the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

Salt & pepper chops and then brown chops on medium high heat in a skillet with olive oil. About 2 minutes each side. Remove and set in slow cooker set on low.

Add butter to skillet, melt and add onions. Cook onions until soften, add garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the sauce and deglaze the skillet, scraping up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce for about a minute and then pour over chops.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Don't rush it. Let it cook low & slow and you'll have sweet and yummy melt in your mouth chops. Serve over rice or polenta.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blueberry Muffins

I adapted this recipe today and it was so good I will make these again. Sorry we ate these so fast there wasn't time to take photos.

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
zest of half a lemon
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups blueberries
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon sugar mixed with 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon until light, about 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Fold dry ingredients into batter, a little at a time, alternating with milk. Fold in blueberries and the pecans. Spoon into 8 paper lined muffin cups.
Sprinkle each muffin with the sugar and spice mixture.
Bake until muffins spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bastardized Red Beans & Rice

Ian having grown up in the South always wants Red Beans & Rice and the problem is I have no clue on what they are supposed to taste like since I'm of Northern stock. I googled about a dozen recipes and I finally settled on combining about 3 different recipes into 1. I know this is by no means authentic but here's my bastardized version of Red Beans & Rice. It was damn tasty and I will definitely make it again.

6 strips double smoked thick cut bacon, rough chopped
1 double smoked link of farmer sausage, quartered & chopped
2 cans red kidney beans
1 white onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 pods of garlic, minced
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp cumin (less if you don't want to feel the burn)
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you don't want to feel the burn)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 l low sodium organic chicken stock

In a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot with a bit of olive oil render off the bacon on medium heat. Let the bacon just begin to brown up not crisp and then set aside. Keep about 1/4 of the bacon fat in the bottom of the pan. Add in farmer sausage and let it begin to brown. Add in onion, celery & pepper, reduce the heat so that the veggies soften but do not brown. Add garlic once onions are soft. Toss in cumin, cayenne & red pepper flakes and stir gently, I like to toast the spices a little to get more flavour out of them. Drain & rinse the beans well before adding them to the pot. Toss in the bay leaf and gently pour in the stock. With a wooden spoon scrap the bottom of the pan to deglaze it and get all the yummy caramelized bits off and into the sauce. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat so the beans can simmer for about an hour. I'm told the consistency is thinner than chili but not soupy so use your judgment, if it gets too thick add more stock. Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Serve over rice. And I know this isn't authentic but I like it with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Celeriac 2 ways, Apple Chop Salad and Fried Pork Chop Dinner

I'm a big fan of sit down Sunday night dinners and I like to make them special. Ian and I usually eat all of our dinners together but during the week I usually make 1 pot 30 minute meals so for the weekends I try to put in a little extra effort.

It all started with this giant celeriac that I bought that was clearly more than what could be consumed by 2 people. So I decided on Celeriac Gratin, which I've already posted the recipe. And I had just read another one of my favourite food bloggers David Lebovitz post for Celeriac Remoulade which I love and used to have to make in vast quantities when I worked at La Baguette and L'Eschalote on Granville Island.

Since both of those dishes are fairly rich with mayo or cheese I had to figure out what would pair well. It just so happened that I these amazing pork chops in the fridge from a recent trip to Organic World in Maple Ridge which is now only place I want to buy meat from. Nicole told me about the place when I was searching for a new raw meat supplier for Boomer as his diet was costing us a fortune in the city. Not only are they inexpensive, they are organic, free range and humane, plus they stock every type of meat you can think of, make their own sausages and sell raw organic dog food for $1.50 per lb. I now have a freezer full of elk, bison, pork, lamb & chicken and Boomer has discovered that he's quite fond of deer liver.

Anyway so I had these gorgeous bone in pork loin chops. What to do, what to do. I started surfing my usual sites and flipping through the Fanny Farmer and I found a couple different recipes for pan fried chops and here's what I did

1/2 cup flour
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup canola oil
2 1"-thick pork loin chops (fry with the bone in)
1 tbsp granulated garlic
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

Salt & Pepper chops

Mix flour, cornstarch and garlic with a pinch more pepper and salt into a wide shallow dish.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge chops in flour mixture, shake off any excess, and fry, turning once, until well browned and cooked through, 5–6 minutes per side. Transfer pork chops to a rack to drain off excess oil, this will keep the coating crisp, don't just drain them directly on paper towel unless would want soggy chops.

Transfer pork chops to a cutting board and cut meat away from bones before plating.

Lastly pork and apple just have to live together, so I made a quick little apple chop salad. I just made this up and it is now a new fave.

1 granny smith apple (buy organic, read about the dirty dozen and you'll know why)
1/2 a lemon juiced
handful fresh chives (I grow my own, they grow like weeds)
1 tbsp Hazelnut oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

dice up the apple, leave the peel on
squeeze lemon over apples
roughly chop chives
toss in oil
salt & pepper lightly

Serve with a healthy dose of Glee or the Fringe and if I wasn't pregnant right now I would recommend a nice cool glass of Riesling.

Two recipes to share

I can't take credit for either of these recipes but I have to share them because they are simply so darn good.

The first one came to me from my friend Nicole who posted it. I tried it and Ian went nuts, literally for them. Now usually I shy away from things that try to be glutton free because I often find the substitute ingredient more offensive than just using flour, but in this case it totally works and makes for an enjoyable cookie experience.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from clean eating magazine)

1 cup almond butter (go to Costco and you can get a giant jar for a very reasonable price)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds


preheat oven to 350f. line baking sheets with either parchment paper or silpat. racks should be in center of oven.

in medium bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients until blended. stir in chocolate and almonds.

drop dough by rounded tablespoons, a few inches apart. do not squish these down. they will spread slightly.

bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet to set up, then transfer to cooling racks.

Now this second recipe is also crazy good, like I mean crazy. I couldn't stop eating it and just thinking about it makes me want to go make more. This is from a blog that I read by Molly Wizenberg who is a Seattle food blogger who just published her first book A Homemade Life and she is co-owner of Delancey which I haven't been to yet but I've heard makes incredible pizza. She has great recipe ideas and I highly recommend reading her blog.

Roasted Rhubarb
Inspired by Canal House Cooking, Volume 3

2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
½ cup sugar
½ cup crisp white wine
1 vanilla bean, split

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven or other deep oven-safe pot. Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean, and stir to mix. Bake (uncovered) for about 30 minutes, or until very tender, giving the pot a gentle stir about midway through to ensure that the rhubarb cooks evenly.

Note: I like to eat this cold, though I imagine you could also serve it warm.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings, depending on how greedy you are.

I used Red Rooster 2009 Voigner because that's what we had open in the fridge at the time but it worked beautifully. I also didn't have a vanilla bean so I used some vanilla sugar that I had made from another left over vanilla bean and a splash of Watkins Double Strength Vanilla. I also varied the size of the pieces of rhubarb so some of them dissolved into the sauce and others stayed firmer. I started eating it straight out of the pot when it came out of the oven but we had it for dessert with ice cream and ginger snaps that night. I also had it on plain yogurt the next morning with granola. I'm contemplating make more and taking the juice and reducing it down into a syrup. Right now rhubarb is in season and you can likely get a bunch at your local farmers market.

Sorry I didn't take any photos, it was all eaten so quickly :)