Friday, April 20, 2012

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Dear Jess,
Here is another little treat from Janet and Greta's Eat, Shrink and be Merry. It's simple and tasty. It would also be delicious with chicken or navy beans if you wanted to make it a little more filling.

Melancauli Baby! (Serves 8)
Curried Cauliflower Soup from Eat, Shrink and be Merry by Greta and Janet Poldeski

1 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large)
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups small cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cups cooked brow and wild rice blend
1 cups evaporated 2% milk
1/2 cups packed shredded light Swiss cheese (2 oz/57 g)

1. Heat butter in a large, non-stick soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook and stir until leeks begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in cauliflower, sweet potato, curry, and cumin. Cook and stir for 1 more minute. Add broth, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
3. Transfer half the soup to blender and puree until smooth.* Return pureed soup to pot with remaining soup and mix well. Stir in cooked rice, milk, and Swiss cheese. Heat soup for 1 more minute Serve hot. 
* I didn't do this because I do not have a blender. Mine turned out chunkier than it would if I had blended it... sometimes I prefer it that way anyways.
I don't now what else to say other than the wedding is getting close. In just a couple weeks we will be on our honeymoon! 

As you already know I love you and miss you.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Dark Sticky Stew


I have been watching Sense and Sensibility and BBC's Pride and Prejudice. 'Dearest' is one of the great pet-names in Sense and Sensibility. So imagine I am addressing you with an English accent wearing a great bonnet and a dress with a frilly apron. It will have more of an effect.

Other phrases that have infiltrated my dialogue include: 'don't vex me!', 'make haste!', and 'capitol!' - all of course said in an English accent.

My meal last night followed this theme. I picked (yet another) Jamie Oliver recipe. It's called 'Dark Sticky Stew' and I believe it also sounds much better when paired with an English accent.

I'm not sure this one will make it in the binder. I really wish I could have found some Lamb to use as the recipe called for. I really believe it would have made it a little thicker, (I used pork tenderloin) which I think was Jason's main issue. He was hoping for something a little thicker. We also ate it straight out of the oven. I believe the left overs will thicken as any chili/stew/soup does overnight.

 Although it was actually quite tasty, I think it was too flavourful for this time of year. It would be better suited for a freezing blizzard day in January (if we are to ever get that weather again...) This recipe was mainly attractive because it was a blustery day and it looked so cozy. Also... it calls for half a pint of Guinness... my mind was made up pretty quickly once this fact was revealed.

This recipe fills your house with such savoury aroma and (other than the Guinness) the ingredients are quite humble and (including the Guinness) compliment each other quite well.

Dark Sticky Stew (Serves 6)
adapted from Jamie Oliver's Dark Sticky Stew, from Jamie's Dinners

1 1/2 lb Pork Tenderloin, diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
2 heaped tablespoons flour
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion peeled and roughly chopped
8 mini-bello mushrooms, torn in pieces (any mushrooms will do)
1 handful of baby carrots, cut in half
1 parsnip, peeled and grated
1 dessertspoon Marmite
2 heaped tablespoons pearl barley
1/2 pint rich ale (Guinness, Caffrey's, John Smith's)
1 pint chicken stock
3 Italian sausages, taken out of casing and chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Put your pork into a bowl and season well with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Finely chop your rosemary leaves and add to the bowl with the flour. Mix around so that the meat is completely covered. Fry the port in a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a hot casserole-type pan - do this in batches so the pieces get a nice bit of colour, then remove from the pan and put to one side.

2. Turn the heat down, then fry your onion, mushrooms and carrots for about 5 minutes until softened and slightly coloured. Add the pork back to the pan along with the parsnip, Marmite, pearl barley, ale and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes while you prep your sausages. Just before the stew goes in the oven, add the sausage. Then place a lid on or make a cartouche*, wet it and tuck this over the pan. Cook for around an hour.

3. Serve with some crusty bread! 

*A cartouche is simply a piece of parchment paper cut to the size/shape of the top of your pot. You simple cut it out, wet it with some water, and place it on top of your stew instead of a lid. 

I was also stoked because I was able to use my brand new Lagostina pots! I actually got them for Christmas a couple years ago but have never used them. They have been taunting me for long enough! We took the convenient opportunity to move them from my parents' house to Jason's (our future home). It was a dream cooking with this pot! I love everything about all of them. The shape, the way the food stirs in the bottom, the way you can see your reflection in the side, how they are oven safe (an important fact for this recipe), how they react immediately to any heat adjustments, how they all match, how they all have glass lids, how the handles don't get hot when using them on the stove, and how they're mine!

I hope all is going well. I miss you dearly, but am comforted by knowing I will see you in a couple weeks! Both our weddings are creeping up on us. I believe we need to do a Skype date soon. Let me know what time works for you!

All My Love,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Italian Cuisine & Hair Gel

Dear Sally,

I miss you. Nothing else needs to be said.

Over here in Newmarket Jesse and I have started doing “theme” meals. Our first was an Italian night. We wanted to pair a new Italian red wine with a cheese and crackers appetizer plate. We followed this with a spicy mushroom and sausage risotto from the 2011 Holiday Special Food & Drink magazine. The recipe doesn’t call for sausage but Jesse wanted to add a little something more. His suggestion added a wonderful flavor to the dish. The wine went quite well with the meal and the risotto was so silky smooth. It was like butter in your mouth without any butter at all. As usual I made any alterations that were needed for my ‘special’ diet. I also added lots of my father’s homemade white wine for more liquid and flavor. I would love to try a dessert risotto recipe next, possibly with fresh peaches and cinnamon.

Mushroom Risotto (with sausages)

3 cups chicken stock

1/3 cup olive oil

6 oz mixed mushrooms

¼ unsalted butter (I left this out completely)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups carnaroli rice

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup grated Grana Padano

or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I left out the cheese)


2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp lemon juice

1. Heat chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reserve on the back burner.

2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat, reserving remainder of oil. Add mixed mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Finish with 1 tbsp butter. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add rice and stir with a wooden spoon until rice is toasted and slightly opaque, about 3-4 minutes. Add white wine and continue to cook till all liquid is absorbed.

4. Add warm chicken stock a few ladles at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed between additions, until rice is cooked and has a creamy texture, about 22 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add grated cheese and remaining 3 tbsp butter, then fold in reserved mushrooms.

5. Let risotto rest on stove, covered for 2 minutes before plating to allow starches to re-absorb slightly. Serve garnished with parsley and s squeeze of lemon juice.

Thank you for sharing the video from your mother’s party. As I told your dad, I watched the slideshow of pictures and was crying at my desk. It is amazing to see how so many came out to celebrate such an amazing woman.Yes you can come for a tour any time . . . maybe around roofing time! Yay shingles :)

Love ya lots,

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Perfect Eggs for Brunch

Dearest Jess,

This weekend was my mom's surprise 50th birthday party! It went off without a hitch! There was Line Dancing and food, and laughing and contests and the unveiling of the website! So much fun!

On the Friday we had smuggled Bill and Caitlin into Peterborough without Mom knowing. We all stayed at Jason's house for the night. On the Saturday morning Kristy and Steve joined us for breakfast. They brought seasoned home-fries and bacon, and we provided the eggs and fruit salad (and of course coffee and tea.) I found these on Pinterest and made them on Christmas morning this past year. I think the original source was a blog called Snacking in the Kitchen. Unfortunately, I never got around to sharing them on this blog, so this time I made sure I got some pictures!

The first time I tried these I was sure they would stick to the pan and get all messy and no fun. Much to my surprise and delight they turned out exactly the way they said they would! They bake nice and fluffy, they are full of flavour, they are easy to adapt to the tastes of your guests and they look super cute on your plate! (I think the last time I was surprised like this was when I made Juicy Chicken Thighs, and Stuffed Tomatoes.) This is in my binder, and I plan on repeating it often.

Broccoli and Sausage Egg Muffins  (Makes 12 muffins)
1 lb Italian Sausage
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
2 scallions (green/spring onions)
8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese as needed

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, brown Italian Sausage for about 5 minutes, or until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in broccoli and scallions.
3. Whisk together eggs, milk, oil and baking powder. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Lightly spray a 12-cupcake pan with oil. Spoon out the sausage and broccoli mixture evenly into each cupcake.
5. Ladle the egg mixture over sausage and broccoli.
6. Sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

It is so easy to 'alter' these. You can basically put whatever you want in it. Instead of sausage and broccoli you could do corn, chili powder and cumin; chopped spinach, basil and tomatoes; bacon and cheddar; black beans and salsa... the list is endless!

Seriously. Make these. If you never make anything else in your whole life... make these!

I love you and can't wait to see you next. I hope your house is coming along nicely! I'm sorry we can't come and see it yet... hopefully soon you will be able to give us a tour!