Kate's Cuisine

Aug 20 2014

Salsa

Salsa

Today is Wednesday, and that means that yesterday was Taco Tuesday in our house. Usually I just make Pico de Gallo as a topping, but now that I’ve been working in a restaurant for the past several weeks, I’ve been able to see  how really, really good salsa is made. And even more, I’ve been able to see that it’s okay to use canned tomatoes for it. I always wrote canned tomatoes off if they were being eaten raw, just because they’re so soupy and not very fresh. But I have to tell you, that’s exactly what you want in your salsa. Or, it’s what I want, anyway. I don’t like my salsa to be very chunky, but rather a smoother concoction that can be easily scooped up. And that’s exactly what you get when you use canned tomatoes. This is a pretty close adaptation to that salsa recipe I’m always making when I’m at the restaurant, but I did change a few things up from it. (Not because their salsa isn’t good, only because I don’t want to give away all their secrets.) And no, sorry. This time I can’t tell you what I did differently. I can just tell you that it’s really, really good.

1 can diced tomatoes $1.19
1/2 green pepper, chopped in a small dice $0.35
1/2 onion, finely diced $0.23
3 cloves garlic, minced $0.03
2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, diced $0.20
1/2 teaspoon cumin $0.15
1 teaspoon ground coriander $0.27
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped $0.10
Juice of 1 lemon $0.50
Juice of 1 lime $0.30
Salt $0.01

Total cost $3.33

1.) Place a colander over a large bowl and empty can of tomatoes into it. Allow the tomatoes to sit for about 15 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally. This allows as much water to drain as possible so that your salsa isn’t too wet. When tomatoes are finished draining, place them on a cutting board and roughly chop them to break them down even further.

2.) Place the drained tomatoes into a large bowl and add all other ingredients. Stir to combine all ingredients very well and then cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so to allow all flavours to marry.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 19 2014

Beef Stock

Beef Stock

I’ve already given you recipes for chicken stock and vegetable stock, and they’ve been two of my most popular recipes on the site. It’s not hard to see why. If you can make a great stock, you have an instant flavour boost for just about any dish. And you can even spend a few hours making a huge batch and then freeze it in smaller portions. This recipe for beef stock isn’t that much different than the other two. Throw some vegetables in a big pot, add some meat bones, and fill with water. But it’s the technique you’ll use after this process that makes beef stock just a little bit different.

5 or 6 beef marrow bones $2.90
3 large carrots, roughly chopped $0.51
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped $0.39
1 onion, whole with skin still on $0.47
5 garlic cloves, smashed $0.05
2 bay leaves $0.32
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $4.66

1.) Place all ingredients into a stock pot and fill with water (I typically hold off on the seasoning until everything has come to a simmer and I’m able to taste it.) Bring to a boil then turn heat down to low and simmer for 3 – 4 hours. Taste throughout the entire simmer time and adjust seasoning as necessary. Because there is so much fat in the beef marrow bones, you’ll also find a grey sludge forming at the top of the stock, especially at the beginning of cook time. At this point, it’s not absolutely necessary that you skim this off as the stock cooks, but I find it gross and so, I do.

2.) When the stock has finished simmering, place a large colander into a large bowl or another large pot. Pour the contents of the stock into this colander and discard the vegetables and beef marrow bones that you are left with.

3.) Place the remaining bowl or pot of stock, uncovered, in the fridge. Allow to sit for 3 or 4 hours, until the remaining fat in the stock rises and settles at the top, forming a solid layer.

4.) Remove the stock from the fridge and, using a large ladle or spoon, remove the layer of fat and discard.

5.) Portion the stock into smaller freezer-safe containers and freeze or use immediately. Then…

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 18 2014

Zucchini Pizzas

Zucchini Pizzas

Looking back on when I made these zucchini pizzas (which was just a couple of days ago) I’m so conflicted. I mean, they were good – really, really good. But I was so hoping that by slathering slices of zucchini with spaghetti sauce and cheese, my older daughter Paige – who hates zucchini – would love them. I mean, she loves cheese pizza, and you can slather spaghetti sauce on just about anything and kids will love it, right? Well, I hate to tell you, that wasn’t the case this time. She still hates zucchini and when I asked how she was enjoying this particular lunch, she said “A little bit,” which is kid speak for “I hate it. Please never make it again.” (Well, in my house anyway.) But I loved them, and my other daughter, Maddie loved them. I don’t know if I’ll make them again, simply because I don’t believe in making different things for different people and Paige really does despise zucchini. If I don’t, it’ll be a shame because they’re so incredibly easy to make and use only five ingredients (including your salt and pepper!)

1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2″ inch circles $1.00
3/4 – 1 cup pizza or spaghetti sauce $0.50
1/2 cup – 1 cup mozzarella cheese $1.25
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $2.77
Cost per serving $0.69

1.) Place zucchini slices into a colander and sprinkle with salt. This will draw the water out so the zucchinis don’t go soggy in the oven, but don’t be too liberal with the salt, as you won’t be rinsing it off. Just sprinkle the zucchini, toss, give another small sprinkle, and then toss again. Let the slices sit in the colander for 15 – 20 minutes to get some of the water out of them.

2.) While zucchinis are being salted, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

3.) When zucchinis are salted and ready, place them on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Place about one tablespoon of spaghetti sauce onto each zucchini slice. The amount you use on each slice will vary depending on how large your zucchinis are, but try to completely cover the tops of each. Then sprinkle generously with the mozzarella cheese.

4.) Place baking sheet in the oven and cook zucchinis for 5 – 10 minutes, just until both the zucchinis and sauce are hot and the cheese is melted.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 17 2014

Recipe Roundup

Recipe Round Up

This week was reason for true celebration in the culinary world – on Thursday it was Julia Child’s birthday! The woman who changed the way North America cooked would have been 102 and so, we start this week’s Recipe Roundup with a dish that pays homage to her. Also included are recipes that will help you cut down on your carbs (for those of you that are still trying to do that) and of course, a bunch of seasonal dishes as well.

It’s not often that you’ll find shellfish recipes on my site (damn allergy,) but The Little Ferraro Kitchen posted this Julia Child Mussels Mariniere recipe on their site and I thought it looked fitting. Plus, Julia Child and shellfish are both so fascinating to me.

Also happening in August, gardens and farms are overflowing with all kinds of fresh produce. Watermelon is one of them, and it’s one of my very favourites. I’d never considered making watermelon salsa before, but that’s just what Daily Leisure did and I have to say, the results look fantastic!

In addition to watermelon, zucchini is also popping up all over the place and those who are lucky enough to grow it seem to always have so much. If you’re lucky enough to have some given to you (or you live close to a fresh produce stand,) stock up on it now to make zucchini breadzucchini sticks, or these Chocolate Zucchini Cookies from Stockpiling Moms.

You don’t need to use fresh raspberries for this Layered Raspberry Dessert from CookLime; fresh or frozen, it doesn’t take much to pull this one together.

If you need something to serve before dessert, I find that meatloaf is always a safe bet – and potatoes are a natural side to this dish. I had never thought of making a One Pot Meatloaf and Potatoes before but, now that From Val’s Kitchen did it,it’s definitely something I’m going to try. You should too!

If you’re looking to cut back on your potato intake, I showed you one way to do it with my Loaded Cauliflower. Perhaps that’s why this Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Poutine from Closet Cooking caught my eye.

Quinoa is one of my favourite substitutes for carbs, and the Cooking Quinoa blog has tons of great ways to do it (naturally.) These Quinoa Egg Muffins are just the start of it!

Aug 16 2014

“Summertime” Pasta

Summertime Pasta

Did I mention that we had a high of 14 degrees Celsius the other day? And that it was the 14th of August? Did I mention that it was also raining? Despite all of this, we had just gotten a new gas tank for our barbecue and I was dying to grill, char, and smoke something. So, neither rain nor chilly weather would stop me – off I went! I pretty much just threw as much onto the grill as I could so all it went, except for the actual pasta and the spaghetti sauce. The result was a pasta dish that reminded me of summertime in the middle of August.

1 package bow tie pasta $1.99
1 can of spaghetti sauce (about 3 cups of homemade) $0.99
4 Italian sausages $5.49
1 cob of corn $0.62
1 cup cherry tomatoes $1.00
1 green pepper, cut into chunks $1.00
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks $1.00
1 tablespoons butter $0.06
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated $0.62
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $12.85
Cost per serving $2.14

1.) Place the spaghetti sauce into a small pot, cover, and set over medium-low heat, allowing it to fully heat through.

2.) Place Italian sausages into a medium-sized pot and cover with water, making sure there is about 2 inches of water above the sausages. Place them on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to low and allow sausages to simmer for about 10 minutes. I find this allows the sausages to fully cook through before placing them on the grill to get nice and charred. When sausages are done cooking, turn off heat and remove them from the water.

3.) Place the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and green pepper in a grill tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Smear the cob of corn with the one tablespoon of butter and place in the grill tray.

4.) Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. When hot, place the sausages on and let them cook for about 10 minutes, until their casing is nicely browned and charred. When they are finished, move them to the upper rack of the grill to get them further away from the heat.

5.) While the sausages are cooking, place the cob of corn right onto the grates. Lower the lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until some of the kernels become nicely charred. When corn is finished cooking, place on the top rack with the sausages.

6.) While everything else is cooking, place the grill tray with the veggies inside onto the grill. Lower the lid and cook for about 5 minutes, turning the vegetables at least once, until they too start to become nicely charred and the tomatoes have just begun to split. When everything on the grill is finished cooking, place it all into the grill tray with the veggies and turn off the grill.

7.) Set a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. When boiling, add bowtie pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, just until it’s al dante.

8.) Meanwhile, cut kernels off cob of corn (you can do this by standing it up on a cutting board on its flat end and running your knife down the cob) and add to the grill tray of veggies. Slice the sausages up on a diagonal and also add them to the veggies in the grill tray.

9.) When pasta is fully cooked, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta and place it back into its pot. Pour spaghetti sauce over top, with the reserved cooking water and mix to fully coat all the pasta with the sauce.

10.) Place pasta on individual plates or a big platter and then top with the sausage/veggie mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

11.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 15 2014

Storing Vegetables for Winter

 

Peas

It’s August 15 and the smell of fall is already in the air. Yesterday we had a grand high of 14 degrees Celsius and today it’s supposed to get up to a balmy 16 so I guess we’re lucky (or something.) The weather has  had me thinking of back to school (yay!) but also, of no longer having an abundance of just-picked-this-morning veggies in my fridge (boo!) This summer I was especially lucky when it came to veg. Not only are there two vegetable stands just down the street from me, but my husband also works with someone that’s got lots of land, lots of garden space, and that has been gracious enough to bless me with new, fresh veggies every single week. I’ve actually been getting so much veg every single week that there’s just no way I could ever eat them all before they turned bad so since June I’ve been spending at least a couple days a week preparing and freezing fresh vegetables. And it’s not just a matter of throwing them into bags before putting them in the freezer.

If you were to do that, the vegetables would not only lose colour and texture, but also some of their delicious taste! And when you’ve got fresh veg, you don’t want to lose any of it! Instead, you’ve got to blanch them. They say that by blanching, you also slow the loss of vitamins from the vegetables. I don’t know how that works, since cooking veg usually means the loss of vitamins but they usually seem to know what they’re talking about so I’m gonna’ trust them on this one, too.

Blanching is a very simple process and I can’t think of a vegetable with which it would not work. All you need to do is bring a pot of water to a boil. I always salt the water, as my grandmother told me once that this helps keep the colour of the veg and I know for a fact that she’s never wrong (she even knows more than they do.) Once the water is at a rolling boil, place the veg in and let it cook for just one minute. Then, remove the vegetables from the water and place immediately in a bowl full of ice water (also known as an ice bath.) This shocks the vegetables and most importantly, stops the cooking of the veg so that you’re not freezing boiled veg, you’re freezing blanched veg – and that’s exactly what you want.

Once the vegetables have been blanched, just throw ‘em into resealable bags and find a nice spot in your freezer for them. For smaller veg like peas, I like to place them in sandwich bags and then place about four of those bags into large freezer bags. I do this for two reasons. The first is that when it comes time to cook them, I don’t have to fight with a block of ice trying to remove only what I need. And the second reason is because my grandma always told me to double bag things that go in the freezer to better protect the veg inside (and I mentioned how she’s always right.) For larger vegetables like beets, I fill a freezer bag about two-thirds full and then place another bag around it. Whether or not you choose to do this is up to you, but I’m not going against my grandmother.

Okay, so I wouldn’t give you that big spiel without also giving you a recipe. This one is something I always do with veg when I need something on the plate, but also don’t have any great inspiration with what to do with it (yeah, that happens sometimes.) Besides, a little oil, garlic, onion, and  salt and pepper go a long way sometimes.

2 cups blanched, frozen peas $1.00
1/2 onion, diced $0.04
2 cloves garlic, sliced $0.02
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil $0.06
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped $0.10
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $1.24
Cost per serving $0.31

1.) Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and garlic and saute for just a couple of minutes. You don’t want to carmalize the onions, just get them to the point where they’re translucent and still a bit crunchy.

2.) Add peas and roll them around in the pan so that they can get coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook for just another couple of minutes, until the peas are bright green and softened slightly.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Aug 14 2014

Orange Sesame Chicken Thighs

Orange Sesame Chicken

There are two things to be learned from this recipe. The first is to always have a grill pan handy in your kitchen cupboards. That way, if your outdoor grill runs out of gas (the way mine did,) you can still have some of that smoky flavour (and grill marks!) rather than just putting your protein into a skillet. An indoor grill pan is a must and just this summer has gone onto my list of “Absolutely Necessary Kitchen Tools.”

The second thing to be learned from this recipe is that toasting sesame seeds is a very precarious thing; and that the difference between toasted sesame seeds and burnt sesame seeds is about two seconds. Start by heating a skillet over medium heat and waiting for it to get hot. Add as many sesame seeds as you’d like (I like to do a bunch so that I don’t have to toast them every time a recipe calls for it,) and then wait just about a minute or so. Toss or stir, and then wait another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Keep on eye on them! Don’t walk away, don’t start emptying or filling your dishwasher, don’t even take a sip of wine. Watch those sesame seeds because they will turn from brown to black in an instant. As soon as they’re about a shade shy of what you’d like them to look at, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a bowl or plate to get them out of that hot pan. They’ll continue darkening slightly as they sit. Get them just right, and you’ll be able to use them as a delicious garnish in dishes such as this orange sesame chicken.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs $6.64
2 navel oranges $0.60
Juice of 1 lemon $0.33
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar $0.08
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard $0.04
2 tablespoons sesame oil $0.20
2 pounds or 1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends removed $3.99
2 small zucchini, sliced 1/4″ thick $2.00
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil $0.01
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds $0.18
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $14.09
Cost per serving $3.52

1.) Zest and juice the 2 oranges into a glass or plastic bowl (so that the acid doesn’t react with stainless steel.) Whisk in the lemon juice, vinegar, pepper, and mustard. Slowly whisk in the sesame oil and set aside.

2.) Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and pound lightly, just until the chicken thighs are of even thickness and about 1/2″ thick. Place the chicken into a separate glass or plastic bowl and pour half of the marinade over top. Turn the chicken to ensure all pieces are coated thoroughly and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least one hour and up to two.

3.) Heat a grill pan or an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Place the marinated chicken onto the grill and cook for about 6 minutes per side, basting every now and then. Cook until chicken is brown on all sides and fully cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover with aluminum foil and let rest while you cook the vegetables.

4.) While chicken is cooking, brush the zucchini and asparagus with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt. At this point you can also skewer the vegetables if using an outdoor grill to get roasted asparagus and zucchini without losing any of your vegetables.

5.) Once the chicken is cooked and your vegetables are ready, place the veggies on the grill and grill about 2 minutes on each side, just until they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a knife.

6.) Arrange zucchini and asparagus on a serving platter and then arrange chicken thighs on top. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

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