Thursday, June 20, 2013

Warm Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Warm Asian inspired turkey filling is tucked into crisp lettuce leaves and eaten.  This meal is quick, easy and healthy - but its versatile too!  Increase the amount of noodles and omit the lettuce for a quick stir fry - pile the turkey filling on a finely shredded cabbage slaw or baby spinach for a warm noodle salad! You could even prepare as is and use as a spring roll or summer roll filling!

I've used oyster sauce to flavour the turkey but you can substitute additional hoisin if desired.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup - Mi Ga

To say Shaun and I love Vietnamese food is an understatement.  We would happily eat Vietnamese food for almost ever meal.  We almost always have a supply of home made Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) broth on hand and have an entire drawer in the freezer devoted to the supplies for making it.  But man (and woman!) cannot live on Pho alone so when I saw The Ravenous Couple's recipe for Mi Ga (a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) I knew I'd have to try it.  Mi Ga is different from Pho (and even Pho Ga) in that the broth is flavoured with dried squid rather than aromatic spices and it used egg noodles rather than rice noodles.  Steaming bowls are then topped with fresh bean sprouts, and crisp onion.  Try this soup as a break from the usual chicken noodle!

I found dried squid easily at a large Asian supermarket.  If you cannot find it, you can substitute a few tbsp fish sauce or leave it out.  The variety of egg noodles is up to you.  I found egg based chow mein noodles and simmered them briefly before adding to bowls.  If you visit The Ravenous Couple's blog you will see they've used a different variety.  Check your local Asian, or well-stocked supermarket for different types and find one you like!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

This spicy Jamaican jerk marinaded chicken was my first attempt at any Jamaican cooking.  The marinade comes together easily in the blender and you can easily increase (or decrease!) the heat level as much as you want to suit your pallet.

Traditionally, jerk seasoning or marinade is made using the habanero or scotch bonnet peppers.  If you are concerned about the level of heat these peppers pack - swap them out for less fiery jalapeno or serrano peppers!

The recipe makes enough marinade for 4 chicken breasts and would work well on pork tenderloin or chicken drumsticks as well (adjust time accordingly).  I chose to cook the chicken in a frying pan but I think this recipe would truly shine on the BBQ.

We served our chicken with a side of mango salsa.  The sweet salsa contrasted well with the spice of the marinade.  The recipe I used can be found here (I scaled it back to serve 2 people *see note below).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quinoa Risotto

Clearly not a true risotto, this quick and healthy side dish substitutes the traditional Arborio rice for the fast-cooking grain, Quinoa.  

This small, high protein, high fiber grain cooks quickly in chicken broth flavoured with lemon, thyme and garlic.  To recreate risotto's familiar creamy texture, cheese is stirred in during the final moments of cooking!

I purchase quinoa at my local supermarket - the brand I buy is the President's Choice Organics brand from Super Store.  I find this brand cooks well - with all the liquid absorbed, and the quinoa maintaining an aldente texture - but you can substitute any brand you wish - even the black or red varieties for interest - just adjust the cooking time if needed.

The entire box of quinoa contains roughly 1 1/3 cups dried quinoa but I had used about 1/3 cup in another recipe so I used the remaining 1 cup here.  I used all the liquid required by the instructions however to further replicate risotto's 'looser' texture.  If you have a full package use that and add about 1/2 cup additional cooking liquid.

I've also used coconut oil to start the recipe here.  Coconut oil has many health benefits but you can use olive oil or butter instead if you wish!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shredded Beef Pot Roast with Orange and Thyme

Hints of thyme and orange zest flavour this long-simmered beef roast.  The meat is then shredded and served with pan juices over warm, creamy, garlic mashed potatoes.

As said above, I served shredded and beef over garlic mashed potatoes but this subtly flavoured beef could be served a multitude of ways - on a crusty bun with cheese and onion, over rice or even stuffed into tacos!  Don't let the long cooking time dissuade you, once the ingredients are in the pot there is nothing to do for hours until the meat is cooked.

I used inside round roast for this recipe but any beef roast (barring a very lean cut like tenderloin) would work for this recipe - if the cut you use has bones, remove while shredding meat.  Also, to save on cooking time you can cut your roast in large chunks before searing.

This recipe is easily adapted to the slow cooker as well, simply follow recipe instructions until all ingredients are placed back into the dutch oven at step 3, and cook on high for six hours, low for ten then resume recipe steps at step 5!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Basic French Macarons

Following the recipe at Yum Sugar, I made my first batch of Macarons!  Their short list of ingredients - ground almonds, powdered sugar, egg whites and granulated sugar - make them seem deceptively easy, however the process is lengthy and the handling needs to be careful.  I did my research online, temperature, over and under mixing, imprecise measurements, impatience can all lead to disaster.  Thus, I began with low expectations and a basic, straight forward vanilla French macaron recipe.

Yum Sugar's recipe leads you through the process step by step, from sieving the ground almonds and sugar and beating the whites to the unique processes of 'punching down the batter to a molten lava consistency' and striking the cookie topped, parchment lined sheets against the counter top to form the airy 'pied' or feet on the bottom of each cookie.

The author also suggests flavour alternatives such as red velvet and colour variations using gel colouring and at which point in the process to add each.  This being my first time, and the process being notoriously difficult, I left well enough alone - vanilla it is.  I followed the recipe meticulously, the only suggestion not followed, was the 3 day aged at room temperature eggs - I was satisfied my week old carton of refrigerated eggs was old enough and used 3 at room temperature.

I encourage anyone who has been hesitating over making these yourself to give these a try - follow the recipe to the letter and you'll be pleased with the results!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thai Green Curry Soup


This Thai inspired soup is flavoured with green curry, coconut milk, and fish sauce.  Simmered gently, chicken then vegetables are added in the last few minutes of cooking to retain freshness and colour. You can easily make a vegetarian version with a few substitutions!  Soft tofu for the chicken and vegetable broth for the chicken.  If you don't want to use the fish sauce, leave it out - it will turn out just fine!

I used the green Thai curry paste in this recipe.  Here is the brand I used.  You can find it at most grocery stores nowadays in the Asian section or at your local grocery stores.  If you like, you can substitute the red curry for the green - there seems to be much debate online over which is the hotter, I'll leave it up to you to decide!

Shaun loves this soup served over warm jasmine or basmati rice - but rice noodles will work just as well.  This soup comes together quickly and easily while the rice cooks, a good option for a weeknight meal!