Cooking Classes


Some Prizes...some prizes!

Thank you Saveurs et Gourmandises for this lovely award.  I would like to pass it on to a few good friends with wonderful blogs that you should check out:

Deana at lostpastremembered 
Valerie at A Canadian Foodie
Rita at Sage Cuisine
Grace at Sense and Sensibility

And thank you, also, to Deana at Lost Past Remembered for another award!  I could pass this on to everyone because you all 'make my day' sunny.  Please check out these inspiring blogs:

Monique at La Table de Nana
Marjie at Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet
Mags at The Other Side of Fifty
Kate at A Spoonful of Thyme


Classic Oatmeal Cookies

My friends (whose house I am sitting at the moment) returned from winter in Arizona and, of course, I wanted to feed them.  I made the date squares a few days ago but I thought these cookies would be better...and...they were!

Classic Oatmeal Cookies            adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease baking sheet or use parchment paper so the cookies won't stick to it.

Whisk together thoroughly:
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg

Beat on medium speed until well blended:
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 t vanilla

Stir the flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended and smooth.  Stir in:
1 c raisins, chopped
3 1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets, spacing about 3" apart.  Bake about 10 minutes, or until done.  Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes to allow them to firm up slightly.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.


The Daring Bakers Challenge - Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I had never heard of Orange Tian until this challenge.  It has made my brain do a little work so that I can make an interesting variation.  The definition of a tian is a layered dish whether savoury or sweet.  So really, even lasagna could be considered a tian.

Aren't the Clementines an amazing colour!  They were a bit fussy to work with but I prefer the flavour over oranges.  Overall, this whole dessert is a bit fussy for my usual baking.  It is definitely a project.  The best idea would be to use your homemade marmalade (assuming you do that every year) so one big step is done in advance.  I also felt that the filling was way too soft.  I would suggest freezing it before unmolding and slicing.

I am starting with the top as the first layer and work in a sort of ‘upside down cake’ method but you could make it from the bottom up.  I think this is an entirely personal choice and a matter of the ingredients used and pans available.

My sablé base uses finely ground pecans.  I think this goes well with the buttery base of the sablé.  Brushed over the sablé is a homemade marmalade.  The next layer is the cream filling flavoured with Clementine zest.  And then on top, segmented Clementines marinated in the caramel mixture are arranged.  And finally it is served with more of that rich buttery Clementine pecan caramel.

Note: There are quite a few steps to making this dessert; however a lot of them can be made in advance. The orange marmalade can be made several days or even weeks ahead of time. The caramel sauce can be made several days in advance and orange segments preparation should be made the day before you make the dessert.

Pecan Sablé            adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Place in a large bowl:
½ lb cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 c all purpose flour
½ c finely chopped pecan
Using a pastry blender cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Beat together until well blended:
3 large egg yolks
½ c white sugar
¼ c powdered sugar
1/8 t salt
1 ½ t vanilla
1 T finely grated Clementine zest

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, and then knead to form a smooth dough.  Divide the dough in half.  Place each half between two layers of waxed or parchment paper.  Roll out between these sheets of paper to ¼ - ½ inch thickness.  Be sure to check the underside of the dough and smooth out any creases.

With the paper still in place, layer these on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Working with one sheet at a time, remove from the freezer and gently peel away one layer of paper.  Replace this with a new sheet of parchment paper.  Then with the pastry on a flat surface, peel away the second piece of paper.  Cut to desired size and place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Cook on a greased cookie sheet until lightly coloured but not browned.  Let the pastry cool on the sheet before removing.

Alternate baking method:
If you are making one larger tian, then you may wish to use a spring form pan as the mold.  Rather than rolling the pastry and cutting it, you could press it into the parchment line spring form pan.  Let it cool completely before attempting to remove.  Then run a knife around the edge of the pastry before opening the spring form pan.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Additional Notes:
This dough can be made and kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days or 3 weeks in the freezer before baking.  After baking, the pastry can be successfully frozen for 3 weeks.  I used 1/3 of this dough for a 6 ½ “ spring form mold.  Leftover dough can be made into cookies.

For the Marmalade:             I like David Lebovitz’ tutorial on making marmalade found here.  And see my recipe and tutorial here.

For the Clementine Segments:
For this step you will need 4 Clementines.
Cut the Clementines into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice.

For the Caramel:
granulated sugar 1 cup
1 ½ c Clementine juice

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.  Be very careful not to burn the sugar.  It will melt into a liquid and then caramelize.  When it has reached the degree of caramelization that you like, add the Clementine juice.

At this point it will bubble and foam, but continue to heat until the sugar has once again melted.  Pour some of this mixture over the Clementine segments.  Reserve the rest for garnishing the dessert.

For the Filling:   adapted from           Epicurious  

    * 2 teaspoons water
    * 1/4 teaspoon plain unflavored gelatin
    * 3 large egg yolks
    * 1/4 cup sugar
    * 4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    * 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Clementine peel
    * 1 cup whole milk
    * 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Place 2 teaspoons water in small cup. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, 10 to 12 minutes.

Whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Bring milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk hot milk into yolk mixture. Return to same saucepan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved and custard is smooth.

Transfer custard to another medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes (custard will be very thick).

Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Whisk custard until smooth. Fold whipped cream into custard in 3 additions. Transfer filling to crust. Chill tart until filling sets, at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours.

Assembling the Dessert:
1.  Drain the Clementine segments.

2.  Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

3.  Arrange the Clementine segments at the bottom of a 6” spring form pan. Make sure the segments all touch each other and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.  To make it easier to remove the dessert from the pan, I line the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap.  Just wrap the base of the pan before clipping in the side ring.

4.  Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom the pan, add a layer of the custard and whipped cream filling.  Gently spread it so that it makes an even, compact layer.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a thin even layer of orange marmalade on the circle of sablé.

Carefully place the circle of sablé over the whipped cream (the side of sablé covered in marmalade should be the side touching the filling). Gently press on the sablé to make sure the dessert is compact.

Chill at least one hour or up to 8 hours.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the pan to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold.  Remove the outer ring of the spring form pan.  Place the serving dish upside down over the dessert and flip the dessert onto the plate.  Remove the bottom of the spring form pan.


Community cookbooks make for interesting reading

I spent all day yesterday reading old cookbooks in my friend’s house.  They are all published by community or special groups as fundraisers.  I think the oldest was published around 1952 and the newest about 1976.

They are very amusing.  The older books leave a lot to your own discretion.  I guess they thought everyone knows how to cook and that specific directions were not necessaray.  Also, they never called baking soda by its full name.  It was always called soda.  I had never noticed that before.

One interesting book was published by the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  This is a quote:

How to grow thin –
From an 1860 recipe book:  “Drink as little as you can get along with comfortably, no hot drinks, no soup, no beer and only milk enough to colour the lukewarm tea or coffee you drink.  Eat chiefly stale bread, lean meat with such vegetables as peas, beans, lettuce in moderation.  Avoid watery vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, turnips, etc.  no pastry whatsovever.  Limit yourself to seven hours sleep out of the 24 and take plenty of exercise in the open air.”

This is hilarious!  Who wouldn’t lose weight on this regime!

It was also interesting to see recipes like ‘Southern Cornbread’ submitted by someone in Montana!  There were lots of chop suey recipes from obviously English people on the prairies! 

I copied several recipes to my laptop and will try them sometime.  There were a few ethnic recipes passed down through generations.  So those will be fun.

The recipe I made today was matrimonial cake.  I think this must be a truly Canadian sweet  and a truly Canadian name (rather than calling them date squares) because my new friends in the South had never heard of it.  And I couldn’t find the proper dates until I returned home to Canada.  I am not sharing the recipe because I didn’t think it was that great, boo hoo!  I could have done better without a recipe.  But I guess that is the fun of using these books.

And my day isn't complete without a Miss Sugar picture.  We just had a bath and next is the blow dry!


On-Line Photography Classes

Heaven knows I can use all the help I can get.  My good friend Marlene at I Teach People (from whom I bought my camera second hand) is offering online lessons!  I signed up immediately.  They are free - so anyone can sign up for a few pointers.

In my first class, the assignment was to take 100 photographs with the specific settings she dictated.  The real challenge was to practice composition.  I won't bore you with a bunch of really bad pictures.  But I will bore you with these three!

As I drove in to town today, I was wishing I had my camera.  Spring is coming and I just love it.  The water is running, the birds are chirping and today, the wind was blowing really hard.   I love weather.


Quick Trip to Calgary

I had some business in the city so made that trip last week.  I only spent two nights but that meant almost a half dozen meals out.  I didn’t eat at the same place twice and visited some very interesting places.

Dinner on my first evening was at Char Cut.  It is brand spanking new.  The theme is charcuterie, really.  We shared three items – whole fish baked, poutine and house cured duck prosciutto. 

The meal was out of this world.  The fish was so flavourful and nicely seasoned.  We just pulled the meat from the bones and enjoyed.  The poutine had potatoes fried in duck fat with the traditional cheese curd and gravy.  And the duck prosciutto was served with parmesan reggiano shaved over the plate.  It was delicious with crostini.  And I was the brave soul and took pictures!

On day 2 I enjoyed sushi for lunch and dined at Petite for dinner.  My hotel hosted a cocktail hour before dinner and I had a chance to meet other guests.  It was a very nice social time.

Petite is exactly that, very small.  The scallops were served with a cauliflower puree and cauliflowerlets lightly stir fried.  It seems odd to have white with white but it was tasty.  It didn’t hurt also that they comped me a beautiful glass of cava!

Breakfast on day 3 was a European experience at Manuel Latruwe with a lovely ham and cheese croissant and cappuccino.   Then lunch at El Bombazo for pupusas and tamales.

I bought a ton of groceries, everything from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla to jasmine rice.  I haven’t had real prosciutto in almost a year and also splurged on some Serrano ham.  I am stocked up on Maseca for tamales, anchovies, fish sauce, rice for paella and for risotto, nice cocoa, truffle sauce and so much more.  

My favourite shopping spots are Lina's Italian Market, El Bombazo Latino Market, The Cookbook Company and Superstore, to name a few.


The Daring Cooks Risotto Challenge

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker.  They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

With this challenge, we were required to make out own stock and our own risotto base.

I have made risottos many times over and wanted to challenge myself.  My risotto is a take on the Southern favourite – sweet potatoes.  They are served as a side dish at almost any meal but are a special favourite for Thanksgiving.

I am serving my sweet potato risotto with rack of lamb flavoured with a persillade.  A persillade is a flavouring made with chopped parsley and garlic.  I added lemon zest and panko and olive oil to bind it all together.  I like the panko rather than regular breadcrumbs because it seems to be crispier.

Arancini is another dish made from leftover risotto.  Balls of  cold risotto are dipped in beaten egg and then rolled in breadcrumbs.  They are fried or deep-fried usually, but one could bake them in the oven.  The panko does not absorb much oil so this is my preferred preparation method.

My arancini are a take on the Indian dessert, gulab jaman.  Gulab jaman are sweet balls that are deep fried and served with a sugar syrup.  My syrup for the arancini is made from the sugar syrup that was left after making candied ginger.  I thinned it out with a little water.

Just one little brag...OMG were these arancini delicious!  I would make the sweet potato risotto just so I could make the sweet arancini.  I cooked up all the little balls and put them in the freezer so I could enjoy every last one.  They will be like fresh made if I put them on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes.

Rack of  Lamb with Sweet Potato Risotto

For the risotto:

1 c sweet potato, cubed
1 c Arborio rice
½  c mascarpone
¼ c chopped pecans
8 whole pecans
4 T white sugar
¼ c sorghum
¼ c butter
2 t freshly grated ginger
2 c  ginger broth
½ c sugar

Peel and dice the sweet potato into ½ ” cubes.  Steam until just tender.  Melt 1 T butter and add 2T sorghum and 1 T grated fresh ginger.  Toss in the sweet potato cubes.  Saute until just turning brown.   Set aside half of the cooked, cubed sweet potato.  Mash the other half, and set aside for later.

Candy 8 pecan halves as described in note below.

Meanwhile, melt 2 T butter in a saucepan.  Add chopped pecans and 1 T grated fresh ginger.  Saute until the nuts are toasted.  Add 2 T sorghum.  Add the Arborio rice.  Saute for about 2 minutes.

Add ½ c ginger broth.  As the broth is absorbed, add broth a couple of tablespoons at a time until the rice is tender but still toothy.  When the rice is cooked to the right texture, stir in the mascarpone cheese and mashed sweet potato.

Toss with the candied sweet potato and serve.  Garnish with garnished candied pecan halves and strips of candied ginger.

Note:  To make the ginger broth slice 6 tablespoons of fresh ginger and simmer in 3 cups of water for ½ hour.  To candy the pecan halves, melt the sugar in a sauce pan.  When the sugar has melted, add the pecans.  Continue to cook until lightly browned.  Turn onto parchment paper to cool.

For the rack of lamb:

Make a persillade by combining the following in a small bowl:
½ c finely chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 t lemon zest
¼ c olive oil
1 c dry bread crumbs

Quickly sear two racks of lamb, meat side down, in an ovenproof pan.  When browned, turn over.  Press the persillade onto the meaty portion of both racks.  Put in 450F oven for 15 minutes, for medium.  Remove from oven and tent with tin foil.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

To put it together:

Place a mound of risotto on each plate.  Slice the racks of lamb and place 3 or 4 ribs on each plate.  Garnish with candied pecans and fresh parsley.  Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Arancini with Ginger Syrup

Chilled sweet potato risotto
3 egg whites
1 c panko
½ t dried ginger
¼ c white sugar
pinch of salt

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger:
Thinly slice 1 c fresh ginger.  Gently boil until tender, about 30 minutes.  Add 1 c white sugar.  Continue to boil until the ginger is translucent.  Cool.  Remove the ginger and reserve the syrup.

To make the arancini:
Season the panko bread crumbs with the dried ginger, sugar and salt.  Lightly whip the egg whites. 

Form the chilled risotto into 2” balls and chill for 30 minutes.  Dip each ball into the egg white and roll in bread crumbs.

Fry in 350F oil on all sides until browned.  If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil with a 1” square of bread.  If it browns in 30 seconds, the oil is ready.  Serve in a bowl with the ginger syrup.  Garnish with candied ginger.


Oeufs à la Neige

This was a favourite dessert in both France and North America alike until recently.  I have never made this but years ago was served this dessert at a friend's house.  I didn't fully appreciate the effort until making it now.  It is like eating clouds!  I really enjoyed it.

Oeufs à la Neige             from The Joy of Cooking

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 t vanilla
¼ t cream of tartar
¼ t salt
2/3 c sugar, preferably superfine

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Then add the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt.  Continue to beat until soft peaks are formed.  Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until the peaks are thick and glossy.

Line a baking sheet with a thin tea towel or two layers of paper towels.  Pour 2” of water into a large skillet and heat to 180F (or until tiny bubbles form along the bottom of the pan).  Adjust the heat to maintain this temperature.  It must not simmer.

Using a 3 to 4 ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3 to ½ cup measuring cup, scoop up a slightly heaping mound of meringue.  Round the top of the mound with your fingertips to form an egg shape.

Drop the meringue into the skillet.  If you are using a cup scrape the egg out with a rubber spatula.  Preparing 5 to 8 meringues at a time (or as many as will fit in the skillet), poach the meringues for 2 minutes on each side, turning once with a slotted spoon.

When done they should feel firm and bouncy all around.  If soft spots remain, flip the meringues onto their undercooked sides and poach a bit longer.  Remove the meringues from the skillet with the slotted spoon, briefly hold them aloft to drain, and set each one on the lined baking sheet.  Poach all the meringues in the same manner.

Prepare a custard sauce and pour it into a wide, deep glass dish or bowl, then float the meringues on the custard.  For a classic oeufs à la neige, prepare caramel glaze.  Cool it slightly before drizzling the hot caramel over the dessert by spoonfuls, waving the spoon to create a delicate filigree of threads. 

Serve at once or refrigerate up to 12 hours.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Bite Me Kitchen had this on her blog awhile ago and I have always wanted to try making gnocchi.  When I was in Florence about ten years ago, I took a couple of cooking classes.  They were totally in Italian...eek!  But I was studying Italian at the time so I wasn't totally clueless.  And it is amazing how much you can understand when the food is right in front of you.  My teacher's trick to making good gnocchi was to add parmesan cheese.  You can see that this recipe uses parmesan cheese.  I boiled up a few and just had them with browned butter and yummy!

A couple of hints, do not incorporate any more flour than necessary.  Too much flour will make them heavy and doughy.  Also, work with lots of flour on the counter top.  As you roll the rope you may need a bit more flour so it isn't sticky.  Also, after you have cut the rope into 1" pieces you will want to toss them in flour so there are no sticky.

I made ricotta on yesterday's post and it is so easy.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1 lb sweet potatoes
½ c fresh ricotta
2 T finely grated parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
approx. 2 c all purpose

1.    Preheat oven to 375F.  Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and wrap in foil.  Place in the oven directly on the rack and bake for 1 hour or until very tender.

2.    When done, remove the foil and let cool to room temperature.  Remove the skin and mash in a bowl with a fork.

3.    Stir in ricotta, nutmeg, parmesan, salt and pepper.

4.    Begin adding the flour, ½ c at a time, gently mixing with a fork or your hands.

5.    Continue adding flour until it becomes a dough that you can roll into ropes.  You still want a soft dough and only incorporate enough flour to make it a touchable dough without adding too much floury weight.

6.    Tear off a piece of dough and roll out into a ½” thick rope on a floured surface.  Use a lot of flour on the counter so you can add more if the dough is too sticky.  Cut the rope into 1” pieces.  Toss them in the flour to coat all the cut ends.  Roll each gnocchi across the back of fork tines.  Set them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

7.    When all of the dough has been made into gnocchi, place them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.  If you are not using them right away, place the frozen gnocchi in a tightly sealed freezer bag.  These can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

8.    To serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil.  Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the surface.  When they float, they are done.  Drain and serve with desired sauce.


Making Ricotta

This seems to be very popular right now and I would like to make gnocchi so I thought I would also try making ricotta.  It was dead simple!  Just sour some scalded milk.  Let it sit.  Strain.  I love how the cheesecloth leaves its pattern on the cheese.

Homemade Ricotta

2 litres of whole milk
2 T (30 ml)  white vinegar

Bring the milk to just scalding temperature and turn off the heat.  Stir in the vinegar.  Put the lid on and let it sit for an hour.  Carefully strain the clotted milk through a cheesecloth lined strainer.  I like mine quite dry, so I let it sit in the strainer overnight in the refrigerator.

The whey can be used for other cooking, such as soups and sauces.


Update on my New-to-Me Home


This is a before picture of my new home.  I call it a before picture, because I have big plans for this little house!  To me, it is a blank canvas.  Those three cedars in front have to go.  Due to the dry climate they require a lot of watering, and that has caused problems for the basement.  So I will replace them with some nice landscape grasses that are better suited to the climate.
All of the windows have to be replaced and the eavestroughs.  But that means I can get rid of all the brown.  Thankfully, it has a nice neutral roof colour.

This is my kitchen!  It will do for now but when I can get a contractor in, it will be replaced, too.
And what does Miss Sugar think of all this?   Hmmph....not my problem!


Pecan Sablé

Christmas is a distant memory and I had a hankering to make cookies.  A sablé is a French style shortbread.  It is lovely and buttery rich but is different from a shortbread because it uses eggs.  The word sablé is French for sand and they have a crumbly  texture, hence the name.  I decided to finely chop pecans and add them to the dough.  I also added Clementine zest.

Pecan Sablé            adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Place in a large bowl:
½ lb cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 c all purpose flour
½ c finely chopped pecan
Using a pastry blender cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Beat together until well blended:
3 large egg yolks
½ c white sugar
¼ c powdered sugar
1/8 t salt
1 ½ t vanilla
1 T finely grated Clementine zest

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, and then knead to form a smooth dough.  Divide the dough in half.  Form each half into a log that has about a 2" diameter.  Roll the logs in more finely chopped pecans.  Wrap in waxed paper and put in the refrigerator to chill for about 1/2 hour.  These can also be tightly wrapped and frozen at this stage and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Take the log out of the refrigerator and slice into scant 1/2" cookies.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes.  The bottoms should brown lightly.  Be careful not to overcook.  

When cooked, remove from the oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for a minute or two.  Then transfer to a cooling rack to thoroughly cool.  Be sure the baking sheet is cool before baking the next batch.
Note:  these can also be rolled and cut into circles.  Roll to about 1/4" thicknes.  The scraps can be rolled and re-rolled.  The last is as tender as the first.


Clementine Marmalade

It must be marmalade season, or have I missed it.  At any rate I saw these wonderful clementines  at the wholesale store.

I also see that David Lebovitz is blogging about marmalade this week, too.  He has a very good tutorial that you might want to check out although we won't find something so exotic as bergamot.  Just click here.  This recipe can be made in any amounts.  It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

Clementine Marmalade

4 Clementines, sliced
¼ c cold water
granulated sugar equal in amount to the amount of Clementines

Trim off the blossom ends and then slice into quarter.  Then finely slice these quarters and place them in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes and discard the water.  Blanching the citrus helps it to maintain the vibrant colour that can be lost if you just simmer to make the marmalade. 
Measure the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the orange slices, sugar, water and the juice. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Allow this to fully cool and then finely chop the fruit and peel.  Put in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.  This can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks or it can be preserved using the hot water bath method.


Butter Chicken

I have been cooking from Chatelaine magazine this month.  They have had some really good chicken recipes.   I haven’t had Indian food for such a long time and this recipe is so easy.  Serve with basmati rice and steamed veggies for an easy, healthy meal.

I didn’t have any garam masala so I used Madras curry powder.  Garam masala is just a mixture of Indian spices and the mixture varies from region to region.  Curry is also a mixture of Indian spices.  

Tandoori Chicken with Butter Sauce                   serves 6
      adapted from Chatelaine magazine March 2010

4 t finely minced ginger
4 t finely minced garlic
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 t paprika
generous pinches of salt
2 lb skinless (and boneless if you wish)  chicken thighs and breasts
½ c plain yogurt
3 ½ t garam masala
generous pinches of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 T vegetable oil
14 oz (398 ml) can of crushed tomatoes or 5 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
½ to 1 small hot chilli pepper, finely minced (optional)
4 T cold butter, cut into cubes
1 T honey
½ c heavy cream

     1.  For the tandoori chicken, prepare the ginger and garlic.  Add the lemon juice to a large bowl.   
          Stir in paprika and salt.  Make a few slits in the chicken and add to the lemon juice mixture.

  1. In another bowl, stir yogurt with 1 ½ t garam masala, cayenne and 2 t each of ginger and garlic.  Add this to the chicken and stir to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

  1. When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 500F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Arrange chicken in single layer on foil.  Roast until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes if boneless and 25 to 35 minutes if bone-in.

  1. Meanwhile, for sauce, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the remaining garlic and ginger.  Stir for 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and hot pepper.  Bring just to a boil, 1 to 3 minutes.  Whisk in cold butter until blended, then whisk in honey, remaining 2 t garam masala and cream.  Reduce to medium-low and simmer until reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with pinches of salt.  If you like it creamier, add more cream.

  1. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, if you wish, and add to sauce.  Continue simmering until the chicken is hot.  If making ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.





Linguine with Lobster in a Saffron Cream Sauce

I have never used frozen lobster tails before.  Here in this small, prairie city there is a lot of frozen fish and seafood.  So putting my snobbery aside, I tried the lobster tails.  They were delicious!

Linguine with Lobster in a Saffron Cream Sauce             serves 2

1 lobster tail
1/4 c finely diced carrot
1/4 c finely diced celery
1/4 c finely diced shallots
2 T unsalted butter
sea salt to taste
pinch of saffron
2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c lobster stock

1.  Place the frozen lobster tail in a pot with a little water and steam until done, about 10 minutes. 

2.  Remove the lobster meat from the shell and slice into medallions.  Reserve the stock in the pot for the pasta sauce.

3.  In a saucepan, saute the mirepoix (carrots, celery, shallots) in butter until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the lobster stock and pinch of saffron.  Continue to saute for a minute or two.  Add the heavy cream and gently simmer for a minute or two.

4.  Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to package instructions.

5.  Toss in the cooked pasta and parmesan cheese to coat the pasta.  Add the pieces of cooked lobster.  Serve immediately.


Portuguese Chicken

I am not good at remembering dates but in January of about 1998 I decided I needed to take a budget trip to Portugal.  I searched on line for B&B’s and settled on two.  One was a fabulous old summer home in Lisbon still in the aristocratic family that built it.  The other was a covey of cottages in the countryside in the Algarve.

I am the first to admit that math is not my strong point but how could I get it all backwards with exchange between the Euro and the Canadian dollar, I don't know?  Rather than being cheap, it was actually quite expensive.  

I am so thankful for my mistakes.  Both B&B’s were magical.  In the Algarve I rented a car and did a lot of driving through the countryside and along the coast.  My B&B host told me that there was a good little restaurant in the nearby village.  It was the only restaurant in the quaint village.  I drove up and down every tiny little lane until I found it.

There was no worry about the language.  The only thing on the menu was chicken dinner.  How lovely.  When I saw this recipe in the March 2010 for Portuguese chicken, it took me back to all the fond memories of that trip.

I sat down.  We smiled at each other.  There were only 3 or 4 tables.  They brought me food.  The chicken was cooked in their wood-fuelled oven and served with fries.  Dessert was simply a lovely, sliced orange picked from their own tree.  It was a meal I will never forget.  That was before I had a digital camera, so my pictures are packed away with the rest of my household.

Portuguese Chicken         adapted from Chatelaine magazine March 2010

1 whole chicken, 3 lb
1 lemon
generous pinches of coarse salt
½  c olive oil
½ c white wine
1 t piri piri sauce
3 large cloves of garlic
1 T paprika
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled

  1. Using kitchen scissors, cut the backbone from the chicken and discard (or save for stock).  Cut off and discard any excess fat or skin.  Place, skin side up, on a large cutting board.  Using both hands, press down on breastbone until chicken is as flat as possible.  Massage to cover chicken with juice.  Refrigerate at least 1 ½ hours.

  1. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 400f.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Place a rack on the foil, then set chicken, breast side up, on the rack.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk oil with wine, piri piri sauce, paprika, parsley, bay leaf and a pinch of salt.  Brush chicken with oil mixture.  Continue roasting and basting ivery 10 minutes until chicken is cooked and skin is crispy, about 45 minutes.

  1. Slice into pieces and spoon pan juices over top.  Serve with fries or roasted baby potatoes and a green salad.


I Am No Longer Homeless...

Finally I made a decision!

Here is the big news…sit down (especially if you are an old friend who really knows me)…I bought a house in this little prairie city called Swift Current.  Tada!  Here I am!  I made a commitment…finally!

It needs Sarah’s touch in the decorating realm.  I mighty be knocking out a few walls and putting hardwood throughout.  The kitchen needs some work.

But I love the location close to the parks and green spaces and swimming pool.  The town has a vibrancy uncommon in many small towns.  And I can drive to Calgary in 5 hours or Saskatoon in 2 ½ hours…both cities that I love. 

And last but certainly not least, I love the sunsets, the sunrises, the freshness of the air, the blackness of the night sky, the slowness of the traffic and the people who want to get to know me.  It is my home province and regardless of my straying from the fold, I am home again.

Now, I just have to break the news to Miss Sugar.  I don’t know if she is ready to settle down yet.  She is a bit of a city gal.


Sarah's Chili

I have been obsessing about making chili.  Deana from lostpastrembered knows!  One of you had an intriguing recipe a couple or so months ago and I should have book-marked it.  It used chunks of beef and a variety of chilis.  And no tomatoes!  If you know who has this recipe, please tell me.

I brought back a few dried chilis from the South and have been dying to try them.  And I know I told Deana that I was 'beefed' out but when in Rome.....    Unless I want to have a feast on Mennonite, German or Farmer's sausages on a regular basis, beef is next in line here in cattle country.

In Neville, Saskatchewan we are in the centre of Hutterite and Mennonite country.  Hence, the sausages.  I also see lutefisk at the grocers.  Perhaps I will gather the courage.

So, back to the chili.  I decided to invent my own recipe.  And you wanna know what?  It wasn't half bad.  I loved the complexity of using the different dried chilis and the subtle flavours.  I grew up serving chili with rice - a little odd for a farming community perhaps.  I also love it with homemade bread. 

Sarah's Chili

1 lb. chuck or stewing beef, cut into cubes
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 dried mulato chili
1 dried ancho chili
1 dried guachillo chili
1 t dried red chili flakes
1 star anise
1 T rich, dark chocolate
1 t ground cumin
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 c water

Saute the beef chunks and set aside.  In the same pan, warm all of the chilis and spices (grind in a coffee grinder or mini-prep first).  Add the onions and saute until clear.  Add back the beef.  Add the canned tomatoes, chocolate and water.  Cook in a 350F oven for about 2 hours or until the beef is tender.  Add the rinsed and drained canned black beans about 30 minutes before the dish is done.