27.11.12

Baked French Toast

There are so many versions of what I call 'breakfast casseroles'. If you are having a big group for a brunch this is a great recipe that easily doubles and triples to fit your crowd. Feel free to add and subtract to change the flavour profile to your taste. Leftovers taste just as good as the fresh made French Toast.
 
Baked French Toast
Serves 6

6 – 8 thickly cut slices of bread
2 c. whole milk                                                500 mL
4 eggs
1/3 c. sugar                                                            80 mL
unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla or almond flavouring                        5 mL
1/2 tsp. orange zest                                                3 mL
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                                3 mL

Any type of bread is fine in this recipe. French bread, challah, raisin bread or cinnamon buns are especially good. Be creative with flavourings. Cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and nuts are a few ideas. Rather than sugar, try maple syrup. Fresh or frozen blueberries or saskatoons can be added on top of the bread slices.

Generously butter a 9” x 13” glass baking dish (23 cm x 33cm). Generously butter the thick slices of bread. Place the bread, buttered side up, one layer deep in the dish.

Whisk milk, eggs, sugar and flavourings. Pour over the bread slices. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. Bake in a 375F oven (190C) for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool for a few minutes, slice and serve with maple syrup, berries and dusted with powdered sugar.

This past week or so I have been featuring brunch and breakfast ideas. Let me know how it all works for you!
 

22.11.12

How to Make Eggs Benedict for a Large Group

I have never made Eggs Benedict at home and seldom order it in a restaurant because I am afraid of all the fat! But they are so yummy. Once in awhile it is okay to indulge. These are directions if you would like to serve them for a larger group. Double or triple the recipes as required.
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Eggs Benedict
Serves 6

6 eggs
6 pieces Canadian or peameal bacon
3 English muffins
Cooking oil spray
Hollandaise sauce

Spray skillet with cooking oil and heat over medium high heat. Cook bacon, turning once, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Place 1 slice bacon on each muffin half; top with poached egg and then top with hollandaise sauce. Smoked salmon, Black Forest ham or prosciutto can be substituted for the bacon. This is nice accompanied with steamed asparagus.

To poach eggs
Put 2 or 3 inches (5 – 8 cm) of water in a pot. Add 1 tsp. white vinegar (5 mL). The vinegar will help the protein in the egg white coagulate faster. You will not taste the vinegar in the finished dish. It can also be made without vinegar. Bring to just below the boiling point but be sure it doesn’t bubble.

Break egg into a small dish. Make a whirlpool in your pot by stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon. This current will help the white wrap around the yolk. Slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Cook in the hot water for 2 or 3 minutes. When it has reached your desired doneness scoop out with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towel. Continue like this until all eggs are cooked. Depending upon the size of your pot, you can cook a few at a time. Don’t overcrowd.

If you are making them in advance, poach the eggs and drop them into a container of cold water. Refrigerate in the water if done a day ahead, or just set aside if you are using them soon. When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to place them into a pan of barely simmering water just to heat. If you use a wide pan, you can put in quite a few eggs at a time, and by the time the pan is full, begin removing them in the same order. The eggs don't have to be really hot, just warm. Don't let them cook any further.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce
    3 egg yolks
    1/2 tsp. salt                                                3 mL
    Dash of cayenne pepper
    1 tbsp. cream                                    15 mL
    1/2 lb. melted sweet butter, heated until bubbling but not brown            500 gm
    1 tbsp. lemon juice or white wine vinegar                                                15 mL

Place egg yolks, salt, pepper and cream in blender, blend for a few seconds at high speed until you have a smooth frothy mixture. Still at high speed, start adding hot butter in a thin, steady stream, not too slowly. As you add butter, the sauce should thicken. When half the butter has been added, add lemon juice or vinegar. Continue blending until all butter is used. You can keep this warm in a thermos until time to serve. (Source epicurious.com)

If you want to make this in advance, chill after making. Reheat in the top of a double boiler over hot but not boiling water. Whisk constantly. It will not be as silky smooth but will be totally acceptable.

20.11.12

Huevos Rancheros




My cousin married a man from El Salvador and they always treat us to Huevos Ranchos for a special breakfast. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group. Huevos Rancheros was invented as a way to use up leftover tortillas and salsa and was a Mexican rancher’s breakfast. Corn tortillas are usually used but may be more difficult to find. Flour tortillas work fine and since they are larger use one for two eggs.

Cousin Lorna’s Huevos Rancheros
Serves 6 people.

4 - 5 tomatoes pureed with 1/2 cup water in blender            
6 tbsp. white onion, finely chopped                                                
6 tbsp. green pepper, finely chopped                                    
4 tbsp. cilantro                                                                        
2 tbsp. cooking oil                                                            
pinch of garlic salt
4 drops Tabasco Sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup                                                           
Pace brand or your favourite purchased mild chunky salsa
1 avocado
6 eggs
6 corn or flour tortillas

Sauté white onions, green peppers, in pot with cooking oil, then add garlic salt; cilantro. Add blended tomatoes with water; cook over medium heat for approx 12 minutes and add Tabasco sauce and ketchup for more color and flavour. Add salsa to thicken; extend recipe as needed. Fry eggs sunny side up and put on corn tortillas that have been heated either in microwave or on the grill. Use 1 egg per tortilla and ladle sauce over the egg. Garnish with cilantro leaves and avocado wedges. This can also be served with refried beans topped with grated Monterey Jack cheese.

Sorry, I don't know why the recipe didn't show when I first published this post! You must have wondered why I only published a picture!



18.11.12

Make a Christmas Wreath

It is a beautiful day after suffering through a huge dump of snow and cold winter temperatures. I thought it was a good day to go outside and clip some branches from my evergreen trees. I have 3 different varieties.

I have always wanted to make my own Christmas wreath and I was up to the challenge this afternoon. All you need are 3 items plus the evergreen boughs. You need 2 coat hangers, florist wire and some clippers to cut the wire.

Pull the coat hangers out of shape into a diamond shape and wire them together. I tried it with one hanger and the bundle of boughs just would not stay in place.

Make 12 bundles of boughs and twist each with some florist wire. Make sure you have a variety of boughs in each bundle. Then you simply attach them to the coat hanger frame with more florist wire.

I started at the top and overlapped each bundle so you hide the ends of the branches and the wire. You can fill in any obvious holes later.

The most time consuming part was deciding how to decorate it. In the end, I simply used some pheasant feathers and two sparkly pear Christmas decorations. I also added a few extra pine cones. Use your florist wire to attach the decorations. I am sure I will be tweaking it in the days ahead to make it just right.

17.11.12


See you on Saturday at Christmas Spirit! This will be my most extensive menu throughout the Christmas Season. There are over 90 vendors and I am so excited about this show. If there is anything in particular that you want, just leave me a comment here. I will hold it for you so that you don't have to be there first thing in the morning. And, I can also let you know if I will have it available.

14.11.12

Pheasant Escabeche

First of all, thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Calgary Herald photo contest. I won! Yeah! Now I just have to find a way to pick up my cookbook! They don't mail it out.

It is pheasant season and awhile back I was showing off my prowess in dressing pheasants. I have been hesitant to cook with them until I found a truly inspiring recipe. The inspiration for this comes from a wonderful blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Hank has several recipes for game birds.

This escabeche uses the entire bird. Everything I need is in my pantry. And it keeps well refrigerated for a week or more. The vinegar works as a preservative. I wanted to try it.

Even though it looks nothing like the escabeche recipe on Hank's blog, the flavour is amazing. It looks like a curry but that colour comes from the carrots in the stewing mixture. Directions told me to puree the mixture but next time I would puree only half and leave the texture of some of the vegetables in tact. I am serving this with a saffron and almond rice pilaf.

Pheasant Escabeche      adapted from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
  • 2 pheasants
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • lemon peel from 1 lemon, white pith removed
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar 
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 bay leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 cloves 
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled 
  • 1 onion, sliced into half-moons 
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • Salt
  1. Cut birds into serving pieces and salt well. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid over medium heat and cook the lemon peel in the oil until it browns. Remove and discard.
  3. Saute birds until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.
  4. Saute the onion in the lemon-flavored olive oil until just beginning to brown.
  5. Add the carrots and garlic and saute for a few minutes, stirring often.
  6. Pour in the vinegar, white wine, all the herbs and spices and bring to a simmer.
  7. Put in the pheasant and add a little water. You want the birds to be almost submerged, but not completely. Cover and simmer slowly for 90 minutes.
  8. Remove the birds and discard the bay leaves.
  9. Puree the sauce.
  10. Return it to the pot and bring to a simmer. Return the birds to the sauce. Turn off the heat and cover. Let the birds cool in the sauce for an hour or so.
  11. Serve cold, warmed up or at room temperature.


10.11.12

Vote for Me TODAY!

It is only a cookbook but I am very competitive! I submitted a recipe in a contest and I need your votes TODAY! Only one day of voting. This is the link Vote for Sarah   Thank you :)

This is my Heirloom Tomato Soup that I posted back awhile.

Fixing Rather than Tossing Broken Appliances

It is difficult to decipher from this picture but all the plastic pieces from my Cuisinart food processor are wearing out. See the broken piece on the pusher? The bowl has a broken clip so the lid does not sit in place without holding it. But the motor is still working very well. What a shame to throw this out. My model has been discontinued so I was not sure if I would be able to find replacement parts.

I am so thrilled to find all these pieces from Myric Electronics Ltd in Calgary. They are amazing. The service is great. I am so happy no to be throwing something away that is still functional. You can see that the new bowl handle is black and my old one is white. Do I care? Not a bit. The parts cost me $119 as compared to almost double that to replace the entire unit. I am set for another 6 or 7 years of happy food processing!

9.11.12

Winter Storm Warning in Saskatchewan





Snug as a bug in a rug. That is how I feel tonight. As the first real winter storm blew in I was fortunate to not have to work today. I shoveled the sidewalk this morning and within a couple of hours these drifts formed on my back walk. Can you see the sparkles in the night time picture. The snow is full of diamonds.

7.11.12

Pastitsio or Greek Style Lasagna

Being a cook is often akin to being an improvisor. Take tonight for example. I was a substitute teacher all day and still thought I would like to make a real meal tonight. The freezer yielded a pound of ground meat that I took to be beef. Yum. I had my mouth ready for spaghetti and meat sauce using my preserved heirloom tomato sauce.

After browning the ground meat it was clear to me, by the aroma, that I had lamb and not beef. Still with pasta on my mind, I decided to make pastitsio. It was one of my favourite meals when I was on vacation in Crete. That, with a tumbler of their homemade wine!

I  only had evaporated milk. I reconstituted it with water and used it instead of fresh milk. All the other ingredients were in my pantry. The evaporated milk worked perfectly. The spices are essential. Don't wimp out and omit them.


Pastitsio or Greek Style Lasagna

For meat sauce:
    1 medium onions, finely chopped
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large clove of garlic, minced
    1 pounds ground lamb
    2 cups homemade tomato sauce
    2 thyme sprigs
    1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


For béchamel sauce:
    1/4 c tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/4 c all-purpose flour
    3 cups whole milk
    1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or kefalotyri cheese
    2 large egg yolks
    2 tsp salt


For pasta:
    1 pound ziti
    1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or kefalotyri cheese

Make meat sauce:
Cook onions in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to high, then stir in lamb and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps with a fork, until meat starts to brown, about 15 minutes.

Pour off excess fat from skillet, then stir in tomato sauce, thyme, spices, and 1 tsp salt. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until some liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist, about 40 minutes. Discard thyme.

Make béchamel while meat sauce simmers:
Melt butter in a heavy medium pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, until pale golden, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk in a heavy medium saucepan until just about to boil. Add milk to roux in a stream, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, cheese, and 1 tsp salt.

Lightly beat yolks in a bowl. Gradually whisk in 2 cups béchamel, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining béchamel in saucepan. Cover with a round of buttered wax paper (buttered side down).

Cook pasta and assemble pastitsio:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Cook ziti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Drain pasta, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 cup béchamel.

Arrange one third of pasta lengthwise in 1 layer in a large (9- x 11-inch) baking pan (about 2 inches deep). Add half of meat sauce to baking pan, spreading evenly over pasta. Make another layer of pasta and top with remaining meat sauce, then arrange remaining pasta on top.

Spread remaining béchamel evenly over top layer of pasta. Sprinkle with more grated parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown and sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes.

2.11.12

That's What Christmas Means to Me

STOP NOW AND DOWNLOAD LIZZY'S SONG FOR FREE! It is only available until November 8 so don't waste any time. It is a lovely new song for Christmas. Request it on your favourite radio station. We want all the best for Lizzy with her new album.

Free download now

Aren't they adorable? Lizzy is an amazing singer and just happens to be related. Her Christmas album is out but you can download her title song for free.
http://www.elizabethmacinnis.com/

Elizabeth MacInnis is a first soprano with a five octave range who’s striking out on a new solo career. You’ve heard Elizabeth’s voice before in television commercials and movie soundtracks (most recently “Population 420”.CBC), and now she’s releasing an extraordinary new Country/Pop recording produced by Billy Sherwood ( Yes,Circa) showcasing her distinctive voice.




1.11.12

Hunting Season and I Scored Some Pheasant

It is nice to have friends who hunt. Kim and her husband actually raise pheasant to be released into the wild.  Her husband is also a hunting guide. As a result of the guiding, they often have more pheasant than they can eat before freezer burn sets in. So lucky me! I put in my offer to help them eat their pheasant and today when the phone rang it was the farthest thing from my mind.

It was lucky because I was home today and I was also caught up in getting ready for the market on Saturday. I was so happy that I had made my Saskatoon Berry and White Chocolate scones and I sent Ron home with a dozen.

These are wild pheasant and not ones that were released. You can tell because the farm raised and released are banded on their leg.


I have never cleaned a bird before but Ron gave me a quick lesson. Don't look too closely at the wings! I can hardly wait to make these lovely birds into something extraordinary. I kept the livers and hearts, too. I was amazed to hear that most hunters simply 'breast' the bird and discard the legs and thighs. I believe in utilizing as much as possible.

I have dreams of crystal clear pheasant consommé, braised pheasant with madeira, a lovely pheasant stew with risotto, pheasant pot pie and a wild pheasant terrine. Hmmmm....what should I make first?