Kate's Cuisine

Jul 19 2017

Air Crisper Fries

Air Crisper Tray

Air Crisper Fries

I recently moved into a new home and my mom came up just a couple of weeks later for a visit. Knowing how much I love to be in the kitchen, and how much I probably loved being in my brand new kitchen even more, she brought me the perfect housewarming present – the Gotham Air Crisper, brought to you by the good people that bring you all good “As Seen on TV” things. This crisper claims to be able to crisp anything from veggies to French fries in one fell swoop. There’s no parboiling, no vats of oil on your stove that could be dangerous, just super crispy fries straight from your oven.

After cooking with it (and doing a bit of research for this post) I quickly learned that there are questions all over the Internet wondering whether this thing is a scam, or if it’s a legit way to get crispy fries with just a fraction of the work. I am here to tell you that while their recipes might need some work, this advertises itself as a crisper. And it is indeed, a crisper. No scam here.

At first, the recipe looked like any fries recipe I’ve made before, scrubbing potatoes and cutting them into French fries and then soaking them to get rid of the excess starch. But my regular fries recipe ends there. Once the fries have been properly soaked, drained and dried, you then just toss them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and throw them into the crisper. Wanting to follow instructions to the tee, but not being exactly sure it would work out, that’s just what I did.

I found that the fries were in fact crisp, both inside and out. While the surface of the fries were nice and brown and crispy, the inside unfortunately was, too. Not to the extent that we couldn’t eat them. I mean, they definitely weren’t raw, but I did get some side-eye from my picky husband who wants his fries *just* perfect. But to be honest, maybe I just overloaded the Crisper and so it couldn’t fully work its magic. With a sleepover going on that same night, there were a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of fries needed.

I will certainly be using the Air Crisper again, even for French fries, but you definitely do need to parboil them a bit just to get the inside fully cooked and soft. I mean, even with this additional step, there’s still no massive amounts of oil needed so they’ll still be healthier and let’s face it, deep-frying on your stove is a ton of work. Work that now I don’t have to do.

If you’re still not completely sold, here are a few of the other great things about the Crisper. It’s non-stick (bonus for those of us who hate buying copious amounts of parchment paper just to cover our sheets!), it’s dishwasher-safe, and it can take heat up to a whopping 500 degrees – so you can even put it under the broiler! Thanks, mom, this new gadget makes my new kitchen even better!

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 potatoes, sliced into French fries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Place the French fries into a large mixing bowl and cover completely with water. Let the water take off some of the starch, then drain and refill with fresh warm water. Repeat a few times over the course of 40 minutes. Drain the potatoes one last time and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.

2.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.) Place the French fries into another large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the potatoes into the Crisper.

4.) Making sure that the fries are in the Crisper basket and the basket is on the accompanying tray, place the potatoes into the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are desired crispiness.

5.) Show everyone at the table your new gadget, then serve and enjoy!

Jul 10 2017

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

It has been a busy time lately! I’ve been moving, unpacking, getting a new house organized and of course, working so I can still keep my job throughout it all. Before the big move, there was a lot of takeout going on, as we used up all our food and didn’t want to buy more just so we’d have to move it and risk it all going bad before getting it into the new fridge. Needless to say, after just a few days, I was sick of it.

So when we finally got things a bit settled, I walked into my beautiful brand new kitchen, desperate to cook. But being a bit tired, I also didn’t want to do anything that was particularly labour-intensive. I just wanted to make something that was beautiful, comforting, and of course, delicious. Chocolate pudding seemed to be the answer (because really, when isn’t chocolate pudding the answer?)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup sugar $0.06
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder $1.33
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch $0.74
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 2 1/2 cups milk $0.70
  • 4 large egg yolks $0.64
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces $0.26
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract $0.22

Total cost $3.96
Cost per serving $0.99

Directions:

1.) In a medium saucepan, with no heat under it just yet, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa powder. Very gradually using just a few tablespoons at a time, whisk in milk making sure all the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in egg yolks.

2.) Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the first large bubble appears. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine mesh sieve, into a large bowl. I find it easiest to do this using a rubber spatula to push the pudding through the sieve.Stir in butter and vanilla while the chocolate pudding is still piping hot.

3.) Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 23 2017

The Classic Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary cocktail

I have always been fascinated by the classic cocktail, Bloody Mary. It’s not so much about the actual drink, or even the liquor in it, but all of those yummy garnishes that stick out of the top of the glass. Of course, it all started with just a celery stalk but people have taken it to a whole new level, adding pickle spears, asparagus, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, and even chunks of cheese and sliders. Yes, little burgers on top of your drink! How fun is that?

Here I’ve kept it to just the classic version. It was my first time enjoying one and so, I wanted to get the full purely authentic experience. And I have to say, while celery is one of my favourite vegetables, the actual drink was pretty good too. If you’re not a fan of vodka, you can substitute tequila, but it then becomes a Bloody Maria (which not only sounds really fun but probably tastes just as good!)

And of course, if you don’t have a severe shellfish allergy you can also substitute the plain tomato juice for Clamato, making it a Caesar. Being that the Caesar originated in Canada in 1969 at the Calgary Inn (now known as the Westin Hotel), it’s a perfect cocktail for the upcoming Canada Day weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tomato juice $0.64
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka $0.84
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish $0.04
  • 3 dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Frank’s $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice $0.01
  • 1 pinch salt $0.01
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper $0.01
  • 1 lemon wedge $0.05
  • Celery seed, for garnish $0.75
  • 1 celery stalk, for garnish $0.17

Total cost per drink: $2.63

Directions:

1.) Place about 1/4 cup of celery seed on a plate. Run the lemon wedge, flesh-side down, along the rim of a tall cocktail glass. Turn the glass upside down and place the rim in the celery seed. Turn the glass back and forth a bit to make sure the entire rim is coated.

2.) Fill the glass with ice cubes and then pour in the tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, hot sauce, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Using a straw or spoon, mix the drink very well to distribute all ingredients evenly.

3.) Garnish with a celery stalk and anything else you wish to sit atop your drink!

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 14 2017

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

A bowl loaded with loaded baked potato soup

This is a soup I used to make at the restaurant all the time because it’s so very easy and takes no time at all to pull together. The secret is to use leftover mashed potatoes. After that, all you really have to do is fry up some bacon, grate some cheese and add some stock. I’m not joking. It really is that easy. And if it’s too warm for soup in your part of the world right now, just remember that you won’t break a sweat while making it. So, balance.

Oh, and that spinach that’s included? I know loaded baked potatoes don’t usually come with spinach, but I had some in my fridge along with those leftover potatoes and I thought, why not boost the nutritional value a bit? If you don’t have any on hand, or you just don’t want to include it, it’s really not necessary.

    • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (or about 4 or 5 Russet potatoes, mashed) $1.25
    • 6 cups chicken stock $4.00
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped $0.25
    • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped $0.50
    • 6 strips bacon, chopped $3.24
    • 4 green onions, chopped, divided $0.68
    • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated, plus 1/2 cup $1.87
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, slightly chopped $2.22
  • Salt, to taste $0.01
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste $0.01

Total cost $14.03
Cost per serving $2.33

1.) Place mashed potatoes and chicken stock in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture is hot and the potatoes are nicely incorporated into the stock.

2.) While the soup is warming, fry the bacon in a pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and add half of it to the soup. Add the thyme, rosemary, 1 cup of Cheddar cheese, 2 chopped green onions, and salt and pepper to taste.

3.) Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the flavours have married and the soup is piping hot. Add spinach, if using, and cook just until wilted.

4.) Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon bits, shredded Cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 05 2017

How to Make the Perfect Burger

The perfect burger

The weather hasn’t been all that cooperative for those of us around these parts that would like to start grilling, but that hasn’t stopped us either. And they say that sunnier days are in the forecast – hopefully for many months to come – so that means the grills are just getting warmed  up! With that in mind, let’s take a minute to talk about what actually makes a perfect burger.

It’s a subject of much debate, but to me, a burger needs to be juicy, not overly seasoned, and without a lot of binding agents. The meat really should speak for itself, although I do find a couple additions are necessary. The perfect burger can’t be as flat as a pancake, but it can’t be so large I find I have a hard time eating it either. And of course, it needs to stay together from the time it’s shaped to the time it makes it to the bun, otherwise you may as well have just browned ground beef in a pan.

Here are some tips and opinions I’ve picked up along my burger-making way. Sometimes I agree with the pros, sometimes I don’t.

  • Start with the right kind of meat. Ground beef is the obvious choice for most burgers, and it has to have enough fat content to keep the burger from drying out while cooking. I don’t have a butcher I see regularly, and I don’t own a meat grinder, so I just pick up a package of regular ground beef, content that is has the fat content I need.
  • Don’t go crazy with seasonings. I used to fill my burgers with seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce, but it’s a practice I’ve stopped. Like a good steak, I now find that burgers really do taste best when the meat is largely left alone.
  • Use eggs. I find one egg to a  pound of meat is enough to keep the burgers together while they’re cooking. Bobby Flay is a true purist and argues time and time again against adding anything – even eggs – to the meat. I respectfully disagree.
  • Don’t use breadcrumbs. It’s a burger, not a meatloaf. Breadcrumbs have no place in burgers.
  • Mix the meat, but don’t over mix the meat. Mixing the meat is really just to incorporate the egg and get everything to come together. As soon as it’s done that, stop mixing. Over-mixed meat means tough burgers.
  • Weigh the burgers so that they’re about 5 to 6 ounces each. Grab a small handful, place it on a scale and add or take away meat as necessary. Shape it into a patty about 1/4″ thick.
  • Once the patty has been formed, make an indent in the center with your thumb. This is another tip from Bobby Flay, and one I happen to agree with. This will prevent “softball burgers” and will also prevent the burger from shrinking.
  • Place burgers in the freezer for half an hour before cooking. This will help them firm up, reducing the chance that they’ll fall apart, especially on an outdoor grill.
  • Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill, cast iron pan or other skillet over high heat. Allow it to get very hot before placing burgers on.
  • Drizzle the burgers with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place onto the grill or skillet.
  • Let the burgers cook for about four minutes per side for a medium cook on the meat, about 6 minutes per side for well done.
  • Only flip the meat once. Letting the meat cook will help form a crust, which will prevent the meat from breaking up and falling in between the slats, or breaking up in the pan.
  • Add as many toppings as you’d like! Like tacos, the toppings are one of the best parts!

May 24 2017

Beet and Arugula Salad

Beet and Arugula Salad

It was the long weekend this past weekend. It was Victoria Day and Brent had yesterday off too, so although it’s Wednesday I feel as though I’m just getting back into the swing of things for the week. But, point being, it was the long weekend this past weekend. And I feel as though I ate my way through it.

There were burgers, both beef and chicken, there were Club sandwiches piled high, and there was pulled pork and poutine. All of this, plus assorted chips and other snacks, scattered over the course of four days. We ate and and ate, and then ate some more. Now it’s Wednesday already and it’s time to get back on track. And it all starts now, with lunchtime.

What’s needed is something light, something healthy, and something that doesn’t skimp on the delicious. Something that I whipped up last week for lunch too, a quick Beet and Arugula Salad.

  • 3 beets, cooked and thinly sliced $0.75
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced $0.47
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar $0.01
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil $0.11
  • 4 cups fresh arugula $1.25
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted cashews $0.62
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese $0.72
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar $0.33
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder $0.26
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.33
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard $0.03
  • 1 teaspoon sugar $0.01
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper $0.01
  • 1/2 cup olive oil $0.91

Total cost $5.83
Cost per serving $1.94

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the onion slices in a small bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lay the beets on a baking sheet and sprinkle onions on top. This step is really just to soften the onions and bring out some of their sweetness while just kissing the beets with heat. When oven is hot place beets and onions in and bake for about 10 minutes.

2.) Place arugula on a large platter. When slightly cooked, add the beets and the onion slices. Sprinkle cashews and feta cheese over top of the salad.

3.) In a measuring cup or mason jar, combine the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Whisk well to incorporate and then slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil to incorporate and emulsify. Tate and adjust seasoning if necessary and then drizzle over the beet and arugula salad.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

May 16 2017

Butterscotch Pie

Butterscotch Pie

Can you believe I have not posted a dessert recipe on this site in 4 months? Okay, there were some Easter goodies last month, but no actual dessert since that pretty cool tie-dye cake back in January. So, I thought it was time to remedy that and post something sweet and delicious!

To be honest however, that wasn’t the reason for making this Butterscotch Pie. In 45 days we’ll be moving and I’m trying to empty my cupboards as much as possible before we do. Having some butterscotch chips on hand, I thought they’d work perfectly in the pie. So I diligently gathered all the ingredients only to find out that, when making butterscotch pie, you don’t use chips. You actually make the butterscotch, which is kind of fun, but didn’t fulfill the reason for the pie in the first place. I guess that means I have to come up with another way to use the chips, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Ingredients for the pie filling:

  • 2 1/4 cups milk $0.63
  • 1 cup heavy cream $1.53
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter $0.78
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed $0.25
  • 3 egg yolks $0.24
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch $0.37
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky $0.99
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract $0.33

Ingredients for the meringue topping:

  • 2 egg whites $0.12
  • Pinch salt $0.01
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar $0.16
  • 1 pie crust, baked blind    $1.44

Total cost $5.86
Cost per serving $0.73

Directions:

1.) Start by preparing the pie filling. In a large saucepan, combine the milk and cream, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside.

2.) In a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the brown sugar, raise the heat to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to caramelize the mixture.

3.) Whisking constantly, gradually add the butter/brown sugar mixture to the hot cream/milk mixture. The caramelized mixture may seem as though it’s seizing as first. Just keep whisking, making sure the whisk stays in the hot mixture. It will loosen up and incorporate after a few minutes.

4.) Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Whisk in the cornstarch and salt until dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch mixture back into the hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Add the scotch and whisk in.

5.) Whisking constantly, cook over medium-high heat until thick and just boiling. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Pour into the pre-baked pie shell and chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours or overnight.

6.) Close to baking time, make the meringue topping. Whip egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Continue beating and gradually add powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

7.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread meringue on top of the cooled pie and bake for 5 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let chill for about 10 minutes before placing in the fridge and chilling completely until ready to serve.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

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