Showing posts with label Casual Friday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Casual Friday. Show all posts


Casual Friday - Trofie al Pesto

I like fresh ingredients but I prefer them in season. We seem to have a penchant for fresh food regardless if it is in season. I remember being in Florence and ordered a pizza al funghi. It was winter and obviously wild mushrooms were not being harvested. They had no qualms about using the dried version. So I say, if it is good enough in Italy it is good enough for me on the prairies.

This ramble is to introduce the pesto. Fresh basil is terribly expensive and shipped from afar at this time of year. An ideal way to preserve basil is in a pesto. I don't use it often enough. These interesting little pasta bits gave me the push I needed to use pesto.

I rarely eat only pasta these days. Too many calories! No fibre! No protein! But these carbs are sometimes so satisfying. I live in a small prairie city so when I get to a bigger city I always visit the Italian store. I buy things I cannot get at home. Finally I opened this package of trofie. This is a Ligurian pasta that is traditionally dressed with pesto. Top with freshly grated parmesan.


Casual Friday - Beef au Jus

I write a food column for a weekly farm newspaper. Often I wonder if my recipes are too fussy for the lifestyle but I just like good food made from scratch. It usually isn't any more work than tossing it together with a mix. There are only 8 ingredients and all of them can be kept on hand in your pantry.

This is so easy and so tasty! Just toss it all in a slow cooker and you are ready. Nice side dishes with this are coleslaw, baked beans or oven baked fries.

Beef au Jus
3 lb. beef chuck roast                                    
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 tbsp. butter                                                
2 c. beef broth                                               
1 c. cooking sherry                                    
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp. Italian seasoning                        
1/2 c. soy sauce                                    
grated mozzarella, if desired
Saute onion in butter and add to slow cooker. Place roast on onions, add other ingredients. Cook on low setting 6 to 10 hours.
Shred meat with two forks until all large chunks are gone. Serve immediately or continue to simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Strain beef from liquid. Reserve the ‘au jus’ for dipping. Can be refrigerated overnight. Remove hardened fat from top before reheating. Serve on toasted crusty buns. Top with cheese and place under the broiler, if desired.


Casual Friday - Grown Up Grilled Cheese

April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month is the U.S. These sandwiches were first made in the 1920's and then became popular in the Great Depression of the 30's. Sliced bread and processed cheese were affordable.

The original grilled cheese sandwich was actually an open face sandwich. And I was not aware that it was not until the 1960's that the second piece of bread was added. Now that really makes me feel old.

Taking only a few minutes to make, this is a perfect Casual Friday food. I made mine with Camembert, toasted pinenuts and my homemade fig chutney. I melted herbed compound butter in the pan and carefully placed the sandwich in as the butter began to bubble. Serve with a lightlly dressed green salad.

Share your favourite Adult Grill Cheese Sandwich with us by commenting.


Casual Friday - Cinghiale Ragu

Wild boar has long been favoured in Europe. It is now available at specialty grocers and farmers’ markets across Canada.  Young animals are tender and milder in flavour, therefore, can be cooked in a variety of ways. Animals over 1 year have a gamier flavour and less tender so marinating and moist heat methods such as stewing or braising are recommended.
Boar is low in sodium, a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, and protein. It is lower in saturated fat than beef.
Wild boar has a darker colour and distinctive flavour and is lean meat that combines the best of beef and pork. It makes wonderful bacon, hams and a whole animal can be pit or spit roasted successfully.
The rule of thumb when cooking with boar is low and slow. This breaks down the connective tissue resulting in fork tender meat. Overcooking will result in dry meat. Roasts can be cooked at 275-300F. The rack, ribs and tenderloin of a young animal can be cooked in the same manner as pork but the other cuts, such as shoulder or neck are best if braised, ground or diced. Do not cook or thaw in a microwave. This will toughen the meat. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator and thaw before marinating.
The robust flavour stands up well to aromatic spices and herbs such as sage, juniper berries, marjoram, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and rosemary. Wild mushrooms, dried fruits like cherries, cranberries and raisins are complimentary.
The long cooking times along with aromatic spices produce wonderful aromas in the kitchen. The anticipation is rewarded. A little goes a long way with these rich flavours and portion sizes need not be as large as with other meats.
Pappardelle is not available in my little city so I have substituted with what I had on hand, linguine. This would also be nice with a penne.

Wild Boar Ragu    (adapted from Epicurious)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
2 tbsp. olive oil                                                            
2 lbs. boneless wild boar meat (cut for stew)            
1 can chopped tomatoes                                   
3 bay leaves
1 c. red wine                                                            
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 dried chili peppers (crushed)
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
3 sundried tomatoes
3 anchovies or 1 tsp. anchovy paste                        
Fresh or dried oregano, basil, and sage
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar                                                
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pasta pappardelle, fettuccine or penne
Grated pecorino, being sheep cheese, compliments game but can substitute Parmesan
In a large cast-iron pot, heat oil and brown meat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add canned tomatoes and bay leaves.
Add wine, garlic, dried chili, cinnamon stick, cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, basil, sage, red wine vinegar, and salt and black pepper, to taste.
Simmer on low on stovetop, and stir occasionally for at least two hours. The ragù is ready to eat when meat is fall apart tender and most of liquid has been absorbed. Take out cinnamon stick and bay leaves before serving.
Serve over pasta and top with grated cheese.


Casual Friday - Tacos, Tortas and Tamales

I won this cookbook a couple of months ago from Justin at JustCookNYC. Check out his blog. He reviews a lot of cookbooks.

These fish tacos were fantastic! I love the homemade tartar sauce that accompanied them. It was so good that I could eat it with a spoon but that would not be good, would it! I used wild Saskatchewan pickerel. This is a nice sweet mild white-fleshed fish that comes from the cold northern waters. Corn tortillas are now readily available in my small city. Yeah!

Tacos de Pescado   (Fish Tacos)    adapted from Tacos, Tortas and Tamales by Roberto Santibanez

1 large egg
1 c. panko bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 lb. pickerel
canola oil for deep frying

Mix egg, salt, pepper and oregano in small bowl. Place panko in another small bowl. Cut the fish into smallish pieces and add to the egg mixture.

Using a heavy pot, add 3 inches of oil. Heat to 375F and use a thermometer to help maintain the correct temperature.

With tongs, remove fish one piece at a time and let excess egg mixture drain off and roll firmly in panko. Add 2 at a time to the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown on the outside. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Serve with 12 warm corn tortillas and top with shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce and Mexican tartar sauce and pico de gallo.

Mexican Tartar Sauce

1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. finely chopped dill pickles
2 T. finely chopped pickled jalapenos
2 T. finely chopped red onions
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix all and chill. Will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.


Casual Friday - Red Chicken Posole

Pork Posole
I wrote about posole a couple of years ago when I visited New Mexico. That was my first time enjoying this delicious stew. You can find my recipe for pork posole here.

Since I am cooking from my freezer at the moment, I thought a  nice chicken posole would be equally tasty. And it was. As with any soup or stew, it is better the next day. This also freezes well.

This can be topped with sliced radishes, crispy tortilla strips, chopped fresh tomatoes or avocados, as I have done. A dollop of creme fraiche is also a welcomed addition.

Red Chicken Posole

1 whole chicken
2 pasillo pepper
2 ancho pepper
2 guajillo pepper
1 onion
2 tablespoons water
bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
14 oz can of hominy

1. Quarter the chicken, place in a large pot and cover with approximately 10 cups of water. Add sliced onion and simmer until the chicken is fall apart tender.

2. Meanwhile, make the posole sauce.  Tear the peppers into pieces and remove seeds. Toast them in a pan with the olive oil. Add minced garlic and sautee until lightly browned. Add all to a blender with water and a teaspoon of salt. Puree to make a paste.


Casual Friday - Bourbon and Apple Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Bourbon and Apple Marinated Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Mix marinade ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat for approximately 20 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool completely.
Place tenderloin in a zip top plastic bag with the marinade and refrigerate overnight to fully absorb the flavors.
When ready to prepare, remove tenderloin from the marinade, pat dry and set aside.  Grill  or pan grill until done, approximately 45 minutes.  Turn periodically until an internal temperature of approximately 155F is reached.
Remove, rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction alongside bourbon and baked sweet potatoes.

I have enjoyed this both hot and cold. The sauce is fabulous. However, I did forget to use the balsamic glaze and it was still so richly flavourful. It is full of flavour without fat. I cooked the tenderloin to 155F in the thickest section and it was perfect. It was cooked but still pink.

A touch of bourbon can make Casual Friday a little more interesting.  Any time you are working with pork tenderloin it is an easy meal.

I used my pure unfiltered Okanagan apple juice. I pan grilled with my cast iron skillet. After grilling the meat and vegetables, I removed them from the pan and returned the marinade to the pan. I reduced it to a sauce and drizzled it over the pork.



Casual Friday with Linguine and Lemony Herbed Halloumi

Casual Friday is all about whipping up something with little effort. It is about digging into the pantry and freezer and using what is on hand. Join me each Friday for something simple and hopefully, interesting.

Guest bloggers are welcomed. Just shoot me off an email.

Halloumi cheese is a firm, Mediterranean cheese that can be nicely pan grilled or put on the barbecue. I love its meaty nature.

Linguine with Lemony Herbed Halloumi

Marinade slices of halloumi cheese in olive oil with dried thyme and oregano.

Make your linquine just the way you like it.

Put the linquine in a pasta bowl and toss with a little of the olive herb marinade from the halloumi. Heat a heavy pan until hot but not smoking. Place slices of halloumi in the hot pan and grill until golden. Turn and grill both sides. Remove from heat and squeeze fresh lemon juice over it.

Each person's bowl of linguine can be topped with two slices of grilled halloumi with lemon juice. Grate parmesan or Greek kasseri cheese over. Serve immediately.


Casual Friday - Southwestern Succotash Stuffed Squash

 Succotash is a food dish consisting primarily of corn and lima beans or other shell beans. Other ingredients may be added including tomatoes and green or sweet red peppers. Because of the relatively inexpensive and more readily available ingredients, the dish was popular during the Great Depression in the United States. It was sometimes cooked in a casserole form, often with a light pie crust on top as in a traditional pot pie. Succotash is a traditional dish of many Thanksgiving celebrations in New England as well as Pennsylvania and other states. In some parts of the American South, any mixture of vegetables prepared with lima beans and topped with lard or butter is called succotash.  (From Wikipedia)

I spent the day making layer cakes for a newspaper food column that I am writing. You know the drill,  a little taste here and a little taste there makes one feel like they have had too much sugar by the end of an afternoon of shooting pictures.

A kabocha squash has been patiently waiting for me to turn it into a wonderful dinner. Today feels like the day for a wholesome and healthy meal.

I am so excited about this recipe. It is a bonafide 'created by me' recipe and it is so good. The variations are endless. Leave out the turkey and it is vegetarian. I can see it being delicious with shrimp. I love the variety of textures, shapes, and colours.  The heat of the jalapenos is balanced by the creaminess of the kabocha squash.

Wild rice adds interesting texture. I have black beans in the pantry so they are replacing the traditional lima beans. All in all, it is looking like a southwestern style succotash.

Preparation is easy. I use the pressure cooker for cooking both the wild rice and black beans, separately.. After sauteeing the onions and peppers, the remainder of the ingredients are tossed together before filling the squash. You can cook as many as your oven will hold so it is great for a large gathering.

This is a very large serving so be sure to have doggie bags available for your guests. I could only eat one quarter of a stuffed squash so it could serve 8 if you had other items on the menu.

Southwestern Succotash Stuffed Squash
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh or canned jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 2 kabocha squash, or butternut
Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and rub inside with olive oil and salt. Set on a baking sheet and put in oven while you prepare the filling.

Heat oil in a 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper if using fresh, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, black pepper, cumin and salt and continue to saute, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add corn, tomatoes, turkey, wild rice, chiles.

Remove squash from oven and stuff mixture into each half squash. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until squash is tender and the filling is hot. Cover with aluminum foil if necessary so it does not over brown.

Serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serves 4 generously. Serves 8 if you have other dishes with the meal.


Casual Friday - Potato Latkes

Casual Friday!  I am hosting Casual Fridays.  Be my guest.  Drop in for ideas for simple and casual meals. 

If there are any bloggers out there that would like to join in, just let me know. You can opt in and out as you wish. There is no need to commit. We can have a virtual Casual Friday! It would be so much fun to share.  Email me at sgalvin 'at' to join in the fun.  Or if you would like to guest post for Casual Friday I would be honoured.

This will be an interesting journey.  I am looking forward to getting out of the rut with casual food.  I keep a well stocked freezer and pantry.  This will encourage me to rummage through and pull out something different every week. I hope you do, too.

I was introduced to potato latkes when I was invited to a friend's home during Hanukkah.  Her uncle had the auspicious title as the best latke maker in the family.

Latkes are traditionally served with sour cream and apple sauce but you can up the ante with a bit of smoked salmon or caviar to make it dressy.  You could also drizzle the sour cream with a bit of truffle oil to add a touch of glam.

For variety you can make these using sweet potatoes or add some grated carrots or parsnips along with the potatoes.  Serve with a piece of poached or pan sauteed salmon and steamed green vegetables.

Latkes are one of those dishes that when you have made it once, you no longer need a recipe.  They are pretty easy to put together.  Potato, egg, flour, salt, pepper, onion...that's it.  A perfect latke is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

I just cleaned my stovetop this morning and didn't want to do it all over again after frying latkes.  This oven method worked great.

Potato Latkes
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 425F.

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated.  Soak for 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water.  Soaking in the water will prevent the potatoes from turning colour.  Then drain well in colander.

Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up.  Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.  Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg, salt, pepper and flour.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat and liberally brush with olive oil.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of potato mixture per latke, spreading into 3 inch rounds.

Bake until bottoms are golden, about 15 minutes.  Turn over and bake again until bottoms are golden, about 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. 

Latkes may be made up to 8 hours ahead.  Reheat on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350F oven, about 5 minutes.

These appetizers are a take on the traditional latkes. Click on this link to view the recipe.