Kate's Cuisine

May 20 2016

Sleepover S’mores Popcorn

Smores Popcorn

Last weekend my house was invaded by little girls. My own two had a sleepover and it was a bash to end all bashes! We tie-dyed t-shirts, decorated a cake (which inadvertently turned out to have a tie-dye look of its own), and made S’mores Popcorn. It’s just what it sounds like, popcorn topped with all the deliciousness of S’mores. I warn you, if you’re over the age of 12, you might find the sugary sweetness of this snack a bit much. But, if the kids need a snack to nosh on during their movie and you want to up the ante, this is just the thing.

  • 8 cups of popped popcorn, lightly buttered but generously salted     $0.91
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows    $0.24
  • 1 cup chocolate chips    $1.99
  • 1/2 cup honey graham cracker crumbs    $0.20

Total cost    $3.34

1.) Over a double boiler, or a heat-proof bowl set over a simmering pan, melt chocolate chips, stirring constantly and making sure the hot water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. When all of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and allow to cool just slightly.

2.) Meanwhile, lay half of the popcorn onto a baking sheet covered in parchment. Sprinkle on half of the graham cracker crumbs and half of the marshmallows. When the chocolate has cooled slightly, drizzle half of it over the popcorn mixture.

3.) Repeat the layers, starting with the popcorn, then the graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows, and drizzle everything with the remaining chocolate.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

May 06 2016

Beef Shank Osso Buco with Gremolata

Osso Buco

Osso Buco might not be the first dish that pops into mind when you think of Italian cuisine, but it’s still one of the country’s most iconic. I’ve learned since making it that there are two types of Osso Buco – the older version, which uses wine and broth, or the more contemporary version, which uses tomatoes. This recipe uses all of the above, so I’m not sure just which category it falls into.

Traditionally Osso Buco is made with veal shanks but if your butcher, like mine, doesn’t have any, you can use beef shanks instead. The cooking time and preparation is the same, but you might find it has a bit of a meatier taste (which doesn’t have to be a bad thing,) and that they’re cheaper, too! Beef shanks will also still have that trademark marrow bone from which the dish takes its name; Osso Buco literally translates into “bone with a hole”. Whether or not you choose to slurp the marrow out of that bad boy is up to you. I have not yet found myself brave enough to do so.

  • 4 12-ounce beef shanks $22.50
  • 1 cup vegetable oil $1.10
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.14
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced $0.34
  • 2 celery ribs, diced $0.26
  • 1 onion, diced $0.47
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed $0.06
  • 1 cup dry red wine $2.57
  • 7 cups chicken stock $3.50
  • 3 cups whole canned tomatoes, drained and crushed $1.19
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme $0.50
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary $0.50
  • 1 bay leaf $0.16
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish $0.27
  • Zest of 1 lemon $0.30
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped $0.06
  • Kosher salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $33.94
Cost per serving $8.48

1.) Lay the beef shanks on a shallow casserole dish and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Heat a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the oil and let it heat until it’s just about to smoke.

3.) Place the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge the beef shanks through it, shaking off the excess. Brown the shanks in the hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side, or until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. If the oil starts to smoke too much, lower the heat.

4.) Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pan and cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until reduced by half.

5.) Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf to the pan. Return the shanks to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the liquid boils, cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bones.

6.) Remove the herbs from the braising liquid and discard. Remove the shanks and set aside on a plate covered with foil. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan, reserving the vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced slightly. Return the strained vegetables to the liquid and taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary.

7.) Return the shanks to the pan, cover, and allow to reheat slightly.

8.) While the shanks are reheating, combine the horseradish, lemon zest, and chopped parsley in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

9.) To serve, place the shanks on a large platter, replacing the bone in the centre if necessary. Ladle the sauce over top, with the vegetables. Garnish with the gremolata.

10.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 30 2016

Maple Syrup Tarts

Maple Syrup Tarts

It’s time for the Festival of Maples here in Perth, Ontario! Today our little town becomes frantic with  maple syrup vendors and people who want the sugary stuff in any form it comes in. I too, will be playing a part, while I’m at the restaurant trying to get our maple features out to the masses as quickly as possible. Before I do though, I just had to share a bit of the maple syrup goodness with you, and these maple syrup tarts fit the bill.

Made mostly of brown sugar and maple syrup it would be easy to think that these tarts would be cloyingly sweet, but they’re a lot like butter tarts with the distinctive taste of maple syrup that lingers just long enough for you to reflect again on how much you love it.  And while you can go to all trouble of making pastry dough from scratch, for these I just pulled some tart shells out of the freezer and had half the battle fought for me already.

  • 12 frozen tart shells $3.99
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar $0.30
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature $0.40
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.44
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup $1.33
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted $0.05
  • Pinch of salt $0.01

Total cost $6.52
Cost per tart $0.54

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate frozen shells and place them on a baking sheet.

2.) Whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add cream, maple syrup, and butter, and whisk until smooth.

3.) Ladle the maple syrup mixture into the tart shells, filling them almost right to the top of the shells.

4.) Bake tarts in the lower third of the oven until pastry is golden and filling is puffed and looks dry, but still trembles slightly.

5.) Remove tarts from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring tarts to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 28 2016

Creamy Parsnip Puree

Parsnip Puree

Purees are very simple. So simple in fact, that they can often look like baby food. But one whiff of them while they’re cooking or one small taste will quickly tell you that purees are full of flavour. And not only can they be a nice garnish on the plate, they can also be a nice switch-up when you get tired of mashed potatoes. You can puree any vegetable you choose, but parsnips are quite sweet without holding a lot of starch, which makes a parsnip puree super smooth and silky.

  • 1 pound parsnips, cleaned, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces $3.99
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced $0.02
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.44
  • 1/2 cup milk $0.24
  • 2 tablespoons butter $0.12
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped $0.25
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $5.08
Cost per serving $1.27

1.) Place parsnips, garlic, cream, milk, butter, and a bit of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the parsnips are soft and easily pierced with a fork.

2.) Transfer everything in the pot to a blender and puree until smooth. Add thyme leaves and pepper. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 21 2016

Copycat McDonald’s Cheeseburger

McDonalds Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I love copycat recipes but this one is really interesting, and perfectly appropriate for National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month.

While at work one day, my BFF (best friends ’til fired) told me about this particular type of grilled cheese sandwich that tastes exactly like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. The thing is, the copycat sandwich doesn’t have any meat at all, just good old processed cheese and pickles that are sliced very thinly. I do think you need to dunk it in a little bit of ketchup to get that exact McDonald’s taste, and I also think you could boost it even more by chopping onions very, very finely – that’s always been one of my favourite parts of McDonald’s burgers.

As for the part about how concerning it might be that you can create a replica of a McDonald’s cheeseburger without using any meat, well, we just won’t talk about that.

  • 2 slices white bread $0.28
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter $0.09
  • 1 slice processed Cheddar cheese $0.16
  • 1 pickle, thinly sliced $0.30

Total cost $0.83

1.) Preheat a frying pan over medium heat and generously butter the bread.

2.) When pan is hot, place one piece of bread butter-side down and place Cheddar cheese and pickles on top. Top with second piece of bread, making sure to place it butter-side up.

3.) Cook grilled cheese sandwich for a few minutes, until one side is crispy and golden brown. Then flip and cook for another few minutes until the other side is also crispy and golden.

4.) Remove grilled cheese sandwich from heat and let rest on a cutting board for just one minute before slicing in half.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 17 2016

Crunchy Baked Chicken Fingers

Baked Chicken Fingers

Chicken fingers are a huge hit in this house, as they are at most, I suspect. Because they are so beloved, I try not to mess with them or change them too much. But, sometimes I feel a bit guilty hitting the deep-fryer all the time and so every now and then I will bake them instead. As we all know, one of the things baked chicken fingers lack is the crispy crunchiness that comes from the bread crumbs sizzling in piping hot oil. And while drizzling oil over the chicken fingers before they go into the oven will help, there is a better way to get crunchy chicken fingers from the oven. All you have to do is toast the bread crumbs beforehand.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts $9.96
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour $0.44
  • 3 eggs, beaten $0.60
  • 2 cups bread crumbs $0.84
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.09
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley $0.21
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil $0.51
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder $0.36
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder $0.13
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper $0.01
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $14.37
Cost per serving $3.59

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1.) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering and hot, add bread crumbs. Stir to coat bread crumbs in oil and then continue to cook, stirring constantly so they don’t burn, for about 3 – 5 minutes, just until they are toasted. Remove from hot skillet immediately and allow to completely cool.

2.) In a large bowl combine cooled bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly blended.

3.) Place flour in a separate bowl and eggs in another. Line all three bowls in the order of flour, egg, bread crumbs.

4.) Pat chicken dry. One by one, place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag. With a rolling pin or mallet, gently pound the chicken breasts out until they are about 1″ even thickness. After each chicken breast has been pounded out, slice breasts into 1″ slices.

5.) Dredge chicken breasts, one at a time, through flour, making sure to entirely cover with flour and shake off excess. Dip slices through egg mixture, and then dredge through breadcrumbs, pressing the bread crumbs onto the chicken breast slices as you do.

6.) When all chicken has been breaded, place chicken fingers onto the baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until chicken fingers are crispy and brown on the outside and completely cooked through.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 15 2016

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

Who doesn’t love Spinach and Artichoke Dip? It’s a favourite on restaurant menus for a reason and, while there’s no judgement here if you want to eat it for dinner, adding pasta does make it a more suitable entree. Don’t forget to serve it with garlic bread though – so you can still dip and sop up anything left on the plate.

The only thing I love more than the fact that this pasta dish embodies one of my favourite appetizers is that, as a baked pasta, it’s also a great make-ahead meal.

  • 2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out $1.98
  • 1 pound penne pasta $1.49
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
  • 1 large shallot, chopped $0.37
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped $0.03
  • 1 8-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped $2.49
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine $1.50
  • 4 tablespoons butter $0.24
  • 3 tablespoons flour $0.03
  • 2 cups milk $0.56
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese $3.56
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese $2.99
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg $0.07
  • Freshly ground black pepper $0.01
  • Salt $0.01

Total cost $15.39
Cost per serving $2.57

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt, then add pasta and cook until al dente.

3.) Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until they are slightly brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.

4.) Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for one minute or so. Whisk in the milk gradually and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, adjust seasonings, and add the Swiss cheese.

5.) Combine the sauce with the spinach, pasta, and artichokes and stir just until combined. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and cover with the Parmesan cheese.

6.) If making ahead, allow the dish to completely cool before covering with plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil and placing in the freezer.

7.) If baking immediately, place the casserole dish on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

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