Kate's Cuisine

Nov 04 2016

Jamie’s Roast Rack of Lamb with Crushed Potatoes

jamies-rack-of-lamb

I got a treat at the grocery store the other day. I wasn’t even expecting it. There, in the meat cooler, were some of the most beautiful racks of lamb I had ever seen. They were on sale, and they didn’t even have a huge throng of gawkers around them. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve eaten rack of lamb, but I’ve never purchased it because it’s just so expensive. I always opted for the cheaper lamb loin chops instead. But there it was, right in front of me. Begging to be taken home. So I took it.

Something like a beautiful rack of lamb needs to be treated properly, and after watching him cook this cut about a million times on the Food Network, I decided to use a Jamie Oliver recipe for it (lamb must be a lot cheaper in the UK). The particular recipe popped out at me because: 1) I’m halfway in love with Jamie Oliver, and 2) because it isn’t your typical salt/pepper/oil/lemon juice combo that I’ve seen done with lamb a hundred times. The sauce you drizzle on at the end really makes the dish and brings everything together. And if you need to, feel free to buy a jar of salsa verde while you’re at the store getting your lamb. I’ve never once seen a tomatillo in my Canadian grocery store and I found the jarred stuff to be pretty good.

  • 10 fingerling potatoes $2.99
  • 10 – 12 cherry tomatoes (a good handful) $1.25
  • 10 – 12 Kalamata olives (also a good handful) $1.99
  • Olive oil (a good lug) $0.06
  • 1 6-8 bone rack of lamb $15.99
  • A few sprigs of rosemary $0.50
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed $0.06
  • Salt $0.01
  • Freshly ground black pepper $0.01
  • Salsa verde $1.50

Total cost $24.36
Cost per serving $6.09

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, then drain. Meanwhile, squeeze the seeds from the tomatoes and destone the olives. To get the seeds out of the tomatoes, cut them in half and squeeze them gently. To remove the stones from the olives, lay an olive down on the cutting board. Just as you would smash garlic, lightly place your knife on top of the olive and gently tap down. The stone should be pushed right out of the olive. If not, try tapping the knife a bit harder until the stone is removed.

3.) Heat the oil in a cast iron frying pan (or other heavy-bottomed, oven-proof skillet) over high heat. Add the rack of lamb and sear until golden (about 4 minutes per side) then transfer to a plate.

4.) Crush the drained fingerling potatoes and tip them into the frying pan. Fry for a couple of minutes over medium-low heat.

5.) Stir in the tomatoes and olives, then season with salt and pepper. Pick in the rosemary, scatter over the garlic cloves, and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Place the rack of lamb on top, and transfer the entire dish to the oven.

6.) Cook the lamb for 20 – 30 minutes. You’ll need to use your own judgement when it comes time to remove the rack from the oven, as it will depend on the size of your meat and your own oven temperatures. Using 20 to 30 minutes as a guideline, your rack should still be pink inside when it comes out of the oven. If you like your meat well done, add another 10 minutes to cooking time.

7.) When the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven, cover with foil (it’s okay to keep it on top of the rest of the dish when you do this), and let rest for about 5 minutes.

8.) When time to serve, scatter the potatoes, tomatoes, and olives onto a large serving platter. Slice the rack into chops and lay these on top of the rest of the dish. Drizzle salsa verde over everything.

9.) Serve and enjoy!

Nov 01 2016

Estonian Chicken

estonian-chicken

I’ve talked a lot about my grandma on my blog, but I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that she’s Estonian. She fled from the country when she was in her late teens/early twenties, and she’s got one of the most interesting stories of anyone I’ve ever met. Scratch that. She’s got the most interesting story of anyone I’ve ever met.

When I think back on it, Grandma cooked pretty traditional Canadian/North American dishes while we were growing up. Split pea soup, meatloaf, and casseroles were all big favourites at Grandma’s, and I never really identified a lot of it as being traditionally Estonian. However, she does make this incredible pickled beet and potato salad that’s known affectionately as just “Red Salad” at my house. And with the addition of herring, as kids we all knew it was a dish that Grandma had brought with her from Estonia. It’s crazy good, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to have to make it and post that for you, too.

But for now, we have this Estonian Chicken recipe. It comes from the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, which is perfect because, I am also Canadian. The Globe calls it “Chicken from Tallinn,” which just happens to be the actual city that Grandma grew up in, but I did make some adjustments. Some of the things they called for – like Kalamata olives and pancetta just weren’t things that I grew up with, and I really did want to make something that I knew would be easily found on Grandma’s table back in the day. So this is my Estonian Chicken recipe, and I hope you like it as much as I did!

  • 1 head garlic, with cloves separated $0.30
  • 2 pounds (about 8) boneless, skinless chicken thighs $5.00
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel $0.06
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes $0.23
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped $0.50
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.09
  • 1 onion, chopped $0.47
  • 1/2 cup red wine $1.25
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained $1.49
  • 1 cup chicken stock $0.50
  • Zest of 1 lemon $0.15
  • 1 cup frozen peas $0.49
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped $0.20
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $10.75
Cost per serving $1.80

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove root ends from garlic and add cloves to the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes. Drain, peel garlic cloves, and set aside.

3.) Cut chicken thighs in half. Sprinkle with fennel, chili flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

4.) Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Brown chicken in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

5.) Reduce skillet heat to medium-low. Add onions and garlic cloves and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until everything is soft.

6.) Add red wine, bring to a boil, and let simmer until it’s reduced by half. Add tomatoes and stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the peas. Return the chicken to the skillet.

8.) Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until the chicken is entirely cooked through and no longer pink in the centre.

9.) Remove skillet from the oven and sprinkle the entire dish with chopped parsley.

10.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 27 2016

Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

goat-cheese-stuffed-cherry-tomatoes

These delicious little stuffed tomato nuggets were whipped up as a quick appetizer on an episode of Dinner Party Wars, a show that’s was aired on the Food Network until recently. Shocked that the hosts didn’t have anything for their guests to nibble on as soon as they walked through the door, Chef Corbin suggested that they take little tomatoes, stuff ‘em with goat cheese mixed with chopped herbs, and set them out for their guests to enjoy. After that, I couldn’t stop thinking about them! I had to try them for myself, and my girls and I gobbled up all two dozen of them in about an hour.

When scooping out the tomatoes, I suggest using the end of the smallest teaspoon you can find. This will help scrape the seeds out rather than scoop, which can break the skin of the tomato and cause it to break apart. And if your cherry tomatoes have little white walls inside them like mine did, the end of the spoon can also be used to just break that down slightly and scrape that out, too.

  • 24 cherry tomatoes $2.99
  • 1 head of garlic $0.20
  • 1 cup goat cheese $4.29
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped $0.30
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $8.28
Cost per serving $1.38

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice off just the top of the head of garlic and remove any loose papery skins (but no need to peel it completely). Sit the garlic in a small baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When oven is preheated, place the garlic in and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, until the garlic cloves are soft and slightly browned.

2.) When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out into a small bowl. To the garlic add the goat cheese, herbs, and a touch of salt and pepper. Mix to incorporate all ingredients, taste, and then adjust seasoning if needed.

3.) Slice just the tops off the cherry tomatoes. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds of each tomato and remove any fleshy walls. As you remove the seeds from the tomatoes, place the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel. Let sit and drain for 10 minutes.

4.) Sit cherry tomatoes upright and sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper inside each. Using the same thin handle of the spoon, scoop a little bit of the cheese mixture into each, making sure that the stuffing sits slightly above the top of the tomato.

5.) Place stuffed tomatoes on parsley or other herbs (it will help keep them upright) and serve and enjoy!

Oct 20 2016

Go Lo Yuk (Sweet and Sour Pork)

sweet-and-sour-pork

I had no idea what yuk meant in Cantonese speak before doing this recipe, but I could only assume that it meant pork, or at least, sweet, or maybe even, sour. I mean, it can’t actually mean the same thing it means in English. Who would name a dish after that?! But, this is a sweet and sour pork recipe, so it only makes sense that  yuk would mean at least one of those things, right? Well, it doesn’t.

In Cantonese, yuk actually means “roast meat”, which is odd, since this meat is actually deep fried, like most other sweet and sour pork recipes.  After deep-frying, you can leave the meat as is to keep its crispy, crunchy texture, and serve the sauce on the side for dipping; but I like to throw the meat right into the sauce for that truly Chinese take-out element. Also, doing it that way lets me cook the pork in the morning and just warm it through in the sauce at dinnertime. And those make-ahead meals that can be pulled together right at dinnertime are some of my favourite kinds.

For the sweet and sour pork batter:

  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, cut into 1″ pieces $5.89
  • 2 large eggs, beaten $0.40
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch $1.08
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour $0.03
  • 1/4 cup water Free, with your water bill!

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons water Free with your water bill!
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup $0.09
  • 1 small can of pineapple pieces, with juice $1.99
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce $0.08
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons sugar $0.02
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced $0.02
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced $0.05

 

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in a large dice $0.71
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut in a large dice $0.71
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying, plus 1 tablespoon $2.25
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling $0.01

Total cost $13.43
Cost per serving $3.35

1.) Prepare the batter.In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, cornstarch, and flour. Add the water slowly, and add just enough that you get the batter to a consistency that will coat the pork. Add the pork and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

2.) Prepare the sauce. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the water, ketchup, pineapple juice, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Set over high heat and bring to a boil then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is reduced slightly, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

3.) Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven (or a wok) over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or until bubbles form along a wooden spoon that’s held in place in the oil). Working in 2 or 3 batches, place some pork cubes into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on the outside and the pork is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pork using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Continue with the remaining pork.

4.) Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bell peppers, sprinkle with salt, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another 20 seconds. Add the pineapple and the sauce and stir to coat the vegetables.

5.) Let the sauce simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the pineapple to become tender. Return pork to the frying pan or wok with the sauce, and stir to coat. Leave in the pan for a few minutes, just so the pork can warm through.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 17 2016

Harvard Beets

harvard-beets

Harvard beets are a funny thing. They’re kind of like pickled beets, but instead of being simmered in a pickling liquid and served cold, they’re quickly run through a warm gastrique and served hot. I spent some time trying to find out why these particular beets are known as Harvard beets, but my search was in vain. I still don’t know how this dish got its name, but I can only guess it’s because some Harvard genius served pickled beets warm one day and, rather than admit their mistake, simply gave them a new name. What I do know is that they’re damned good!

  • 4 beets, scrubbed and trimmed $1.00
  • 3/4 cup white sugar $0.15
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar $0.27
  • 1/4 cup water Free, with your water bill!
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.18
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch $0.27
  • Salt, to taste $0.01

Total cost $1.88
Cost per serving $0.47

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Toss the beets with the olive oil and a bit of salt. Individually wrap each beet with aluminum foil and, when the oven is hot, place inside and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the beets are fork-tender. When beets are finished, unwrap the foil and let cool for just a minute or so. When cool enough to handle, slip the skin off the beets. If you wait too long, as the beets cool, that skin will tighten up and cling to the flesh once again so it’s easiest if you do this as soon as you can.

2.) Once the beets are peeled, slice them about 1/4″ thick, if using large beets or, slice in half if using smaller beets.

3.) Place the water in a medium-sized saucepan and add to it the sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to mix and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until the sauce is thickened.

4.) Add the sliced beets to the sauce in the pan and stir to mix through. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, just until the beets are heated through.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 12 2016

Bruschetta Stuffed Peppers

bruschetta-stuffed-peppers

Peppers were on sale at the grocery store the other day. A huge bag of about 8 or 9 peppers sat right beside a bag of about 3 or 4. While reaching for the smaller bag, a produce worker saw me and suggested I opt for the bigger bag – it’s a great deal after all! No, no, I insisted, I only need the small bag. But, I wasn’t strong enough. She talked me into the bigger bag, convincing me I simply didn’t have a brain if I didn’t choose that one.

I wasn’t sure about the purchase, and only became more unsure as I took the bag home and stared at it, wondering what in heck I was going to do with all these peppers. Then, in what can only be described as a stroke of genius, I had it! Stuffed peppers, of course! But I already had my main all set for the night, and stuffed peppers are a bit much for a side dish. Ah, of course! Don’t stuff them full of rice and meat, but instead, use something lighter, like say, a beautiful bruschetta mix? Perfect. I guess I should give into produce pressure a little more often.

  • 4 bell peppers $2.80
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped $1.20
  • 1 onion, finely diced $0.47
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped $1.99
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced $0.03
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.09
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese $0.75
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $7.35
Cost per serving $1.83

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice peppers in half and remove ribs and seeds.

2.) In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil leaves, garlic, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

3.) Place a small handful of the bruschetta mix into each pepper, filling them up as much as you can. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese over top of each pepper and bruschetta mix, and place in the oven.

4.) Bake stuffed peppers for about 30 minutes, until peppers have slightly softened and bruschetta mix is hot throughout.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 06 2016

Salted Caramel Popcorn

caramel-popcorn

Is there anything better than caramel? I mean, really, I’d argue that it’s even better than chocolate. After all, we don’t try to get our roasts and vegetables to chocolatize now, do we? No, we want them to caramelize, because only then do you get the buttery, sugary tastiness that only comes from caramel and almost-burnt sugar.

Making salted caramel popcorn is a bit of work, but it’s so worth it. And it’s really more time-consuming than it is manual labour, but at the end of it all you’ll be able to sit back and munch away on a huge bowl filled with salty/sweet snacks. Caramel popcorn balls also make for great teacher’s gifts; not to mention that Halloween is coming up, for those who need to bring party treats. If you want your popcorn to be more caramel-y than salty, just leave out the dusting of salt at the end, and reduce the salt in the caramel sauce to just half a teaspoon.

  • 10 – 12 cups popped popcorn $1.82
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter $1.50
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar $0.19
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract $0.03
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided $0.02
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda $0.01

Total cost $3.57
Cost per serving $0.44

1.) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.) Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar and stir until the sugar is slightly moistened. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure the mixture does not burn.

3.) Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt, and baking soda. The mixture will likely bubbly violently at this point, just keep stirring carefully until a smooth, glossy sauce is formed.

4.) Place the popcorn into a large bowl and pour the caramel sauce over top. Using your hands (if the sauce is cool enough) or two large spoons, stir the popcorn to ensure it gets completely coated with the caramel sauce.

5.) Distribute the popcorn evenly between the two baking sheets. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about one hour, stirring every now and then to break up any clumps.

6.) Remove popcorn from oven and immediately sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to thoroughly combine. Let popcorn cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to one week.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

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