Kate's Cuisine

May 14 2017

Estonian Red Salad

Estonian Red Salad

Happy Mother’s Day to all the outstanding mothers out there working hard every single day for their families!

This recipe didn’t come from my mother, but rather her mother, my dear grandma! I grew up on this salad and while I’m sure it has some very official Estonian name, in my house we came to know it as simply Red Salad. And we ate it. A lot. We loved it so much and were always excited when the big bowl of Red Salad would make its way onto the table. My brother and I have had bona fide fights over who gets the last of the red salad. It’s that good, worth fighting over.

My version isn’t exactly my grandma’s version (and therefore, not as good). But it’s still pretty darned tasty. In place of the traditional pickled herring, I put in anchovy paste for that umami flavour, and I’m sure I mixed some other things up along the way, too. For instance, I don’t know if my grandma puts fresh dill in it. But I do know she puts it in a lot of other stuff and I happened to have some on hand, so in it went. It still ended up with that brilliant pink/red colour that will make a splash at any table, and it tasted awfully close to what my grandmother makes. It takes me right back to my childhood and on this Mother’s Day, is a tribute to one of the greatest and strongest women I’ve ever known. My grandma.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound beets, whole and unpeeled $0.99
  • 1 pound Russet potatoes, whole and unpeeled $0.49
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, plus 1 or 2 for garnish $0.60
  • 2 dill pickles, roughly chopped $0.39
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or more, depending on how dressed you like your salad) $1.44
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste $0.55
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for boiling water $0.01
  • 1 teaspoon sugar $0.01
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped $0.06

Total cost $4.54
Cost per serving $0.75

Directions:

1.) Place beets in a large pot with enough salted water to cover them completely, with at least an inch of water over top of them. Bring the water to a boil then lower to a simmer and boil just until the beets are fork-tender.

2.) Place potatoes in a separate large pot of salted water and again, add enough water to cover them with an extra inch of water. Boil until they too, are fork-tender.

3.) When potatoes and beets are both finished boiling, drain and when they are cool enough to handle, the skins should slip off easily. Both need to be chopped. The potatoes should be diced in about a medium dice, but the beets should be chopped a little more finely. Place both in a large bowl.

4.) Chop the eggs (to about the same size as the beets) and add them to the bowl, along with the dill pickles.

5.) In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, anchovy paste, salt, sugar and fresh dill. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients together. Pour over the bowl of potato mixture and stir to combine well.

6.) Quarter the remaining hard-boiled eggs and place on top of the salad as garnish.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

May 08 2017

Rigatoni in a Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni in a creamy vodka sauce and garnished with basil

There’s not a lot that can compete with my love of pasta. I love it in all shapes and forms, and I love trying out new sauces to go with them. The one I tried most recently was pasta in a vodka sauce and OMG, guys. It’s incredible. It only takes a few minutes to whip up (I did it during intermission while the playoffs were on) and it brings in all these new flavours that you may or may not have tried in pasta sauce before.

Of course, it all starts with tomatoes. I chose crushed because I wanted it to be saucy and not just tomato-y, but there are lots of recipes out there that call for whole tomatoes to be crushed slightly with your hands. So you can definitely take it that way if you’d like. Then, in addition with the vodka (that’s not too much,) a bit of cream also goes in to share the spotlight and take a bit of that acid away from the tomatoes.

It’s delightful and just like when you cook with wine, it’s perfectly suitable for kids. The alcohol in the vodka boils off so there’s no need to worry, even if Brent couldn’t help but call it the “get your kids to sleep hack.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta $3.99
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes $1.29
  • 1 tablespoon butter $0.13
  • 1 small onion, minced $0.47
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.01
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes $0.05
  • 1/2 cup vodka $2.39
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream $0.51
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese $1.49
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped $0.75

Total cost $11.08
Cost per serving $2.77

Directions:

1.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. When boiling, add the rigatoni and cook until just before the pasta reaches the al dente stage. I used durum semolina pasta, which takes a bit longer to cook, about 10 minutes. When done cooking, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain.

2.) While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, just until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.

3.) Remove the pan from the heat and add the vodka, tomatoes, and salt to taste. Return the pan to the heat and cook for another 7 minutes to boil the alcohol off. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for another 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the Parmesan and basil.

4.) Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with the reserved cooking water. Toss and taste, adding more salt if necessary. Garnish with more Parmesan and basil, if desired.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

May 05 2017

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

It’s Cinco de Mayo! Every year I get excited about this holiday and use it as an excuse to partake of all kinds of Mexican food and drink. Little bit of trivia for you, while Mexicans do celebrate the day, they don’t actually call it Cinco de Mayo – that’s something reserved for the rest of North America. Instead, they celebrate The Day of the Battle of Puebla or rather, the day that the Mexican Army rose up over the French soldiers that were occupying their land and won that very significant battle. So that’s the history behind it, now on to the celebration!

Anyone that follows my blog knows that margaritas hold a very special place in this house. I make them often and if Brent and I are out celebrating something special, we usually order one (or two, or three.) This year though, I wanted to do something different. I mean, there has to be another drink that highlights tequila but doesn’t require a bunch of ice to be crushed beforehand.

Just as I thought, there is. And it’s one of the prettiest drinks I’ve ever made.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (6 parts) orange juice $0.38
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 parts) tequila $0.84
  • 1/2 ounce (1 part) grenadine $0.01

Total cost for 1 tequila sunrise $1.23

Directions:

1.) Place orange juice and tequila in a cocktail shake and give it a good shake. Pour over ice into a tall glass.

2.) Add the grenadine to the glass. Do not stir. It will sink to the bottom and give the illusion of that sunrise for which the cocktail got its name.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

May 03 2017

Proper Beer-Battered Fish

Deep Fried Beer Battered Fish

So, before making this recipe, it had been nearly 10 years since I made fish and chips at home. That’s right. 10 years. Why? Because the last time I made it, it turned out to be a big bland awful mess. The beer batter stuck to the fryer basket, fell off when I tried to take the fish out, and just didn’t end up tasting like anything at all. I vowed to just leave it to the professionals in restaurants and chip trucks.

But, then I went back to working in a restaurant and learned how to make proper beer batter. I made it repeatedly, I used it to fry fish repeatedly, and it never ever stuck to the fryer basket. It wasn’t bland. In fact, it might be the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. So, summoning up all the courage I had, this past Good Friday I decided to give it a go and try to make fish and chips at home once again.

As you can see from the picture, the only place the batter stuck was onto the fish, and we all sat down to a beautiful fish and chips dinner to kick off Easter weekend.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup $0.28
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder $0.03
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1 bottle dark beer (I used Guinness) $1.75
  • Juice of 1 lemon $0.30
  • 4 haddock fillets $6.86
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Total cost $9.23
Cost per serving $2.31

Directions:

1.) Place 1 cup of flour on a plate and set aside. Fill a Dutch oven or other heavy pot halfway with vegetable oil. Turn heat to medium-high and let it preheat to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit while preparing beer batter.

2.) In a large bowl combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Add the beer and lemon juice and whisk to incorporate all ingredients.

3.) When ready to start frying, place haddock fillets, one by one, into the plate of flour. Turn to ensure that the entire piece of fish is coated. Shake off excess flour and dip the fish into the beer batter. Remove from the batter and allow excess to drip off.

4.) Slowly place the fish into the hot oil, moving the end piece in the oil a bit as you do. This will prevent it from falling to the bottom of the pot and sticking. Fry for 2 minutes on one side then flip and fry for another 1 – 2 minutes, just until the fish is entirely cooked through. Drain excess oil by laying the fillet on paper towels. Repeat with remaining haddock fillets.

5.) Garnish with lemon slices and tartar sauce.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 30 2017

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento Grilled Cheese

The month of April really came in like a lamb and went out like a lion at our house. It began with a wonderful family vacation to Quebec City, and ended with me in bed pneumonia-ridden and suffering from several antibiotic side effects. That sickness almost made me miss Grilled Cheese Month altogether, but here we are. It’s the last day of the month, I’m healthy, and I have a delicious grilled cheese sandwich recipe that I made pre-sickness and have just been waiting to share with you.

The cheese in this sandwich isn’t your typical cheese. It’s pimento cheese, which I believe you can get in handy little jars if you live in one of the Southern states, but I’ve never seen it on my grocery store shelves. The good news is, it’s super easy to make.

If you’re going to pile it into grilled cheese sandwiches like I did after whipping it together, do yourself a favour and leave it to just about 1/4 cup. I used about twice as much and ended up with a sandwich that, while delicious, could’t be picked up and eaten but needed a knife and fork. Not terrible, but definitely not something you can eat on the go either. However you choose to eat it, this is one sandwich that’s sure to have you looking differently at grilled cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pimentos, roughly chopped $1.99
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated $2.50
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise $0.72
  • Pinch of salt $0.01
  • Pinch of black pepper $0.01
  • 8 slices white bread $1.12
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature $1.07

Total cost $7.42
Cost per sandwich $1.85

Directions:

1.) Place the pimentos, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix to combine well.

2.) Heat a pan over medium heat. Butter one slice of bread an place it butter-side down in the preheated pan. Spoon on 1/4 cup of the pimento cheese and spread it across the bread. Butter another piece of bread and place it, butter-side up, on the pimento cheese.

3.) Fry the sandwich on one side for 3 – 4 minutes, until it’s golden brown on that side. Flip and fry for another 3 – 4 minutes, until that side is also golden brown and the cheese inside is melted. Repeat with remaining pieces of bread, making 4 grilled cheese sandwiches in total.

4.) As sandwiches are finished, remove from pan and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Allow to rest for just a minute or so before cutting in half.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 16 2017

Salty and Sweet Easter Treats

Salty and Sweet Easter Treats

For the past couple of years, I’ve made super simple, super easy Easter treats. I don’t know what it is – maybe because Easter falls on a Sunday and in this house ‘Sunday’ equals kinda lazy – but while I enjoy making treats just for the holiday, I don’t like knocking myself out making them. Maybe it’s just that I like the challenge of finding something that can be whipped up in just a couple of minutes. This year, I made the ultimate easy Easter snack.

It’s so easy in fact, that all you need is three ingredients and about 15 minutes of time. And if you’ve got some eager little hands hanging around wanting to help, they can even do it all on their own. The little hands at my house still aren’t totally comfortable around the stove just yet, so I did that part. But I promise you, the rest of these treats were made completely by a 9 and 11 year old. Now you can’t get any easier than that.

Ingredients:

(You’ll notice I haven’t given any amounts. You’ll need 1 each for every treat you make, but how many that is in total is completely up to you.)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet (or two or three) with parchment paper.

2.) Lay the pretzels out on the baking sheet and place a Hershey hug in the centre of each.

3.) Place the pretzels in the oven for about 5 minutes, just until the chocolate has melted. If some of them still have their points after this time, don’t worry about it. They’re about to get squished down.

4.) Remove the pretzels from the oven and place a mini egg on top of each, pressing down on any of those points some of the chocolate may still have.

5.) Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes so the chocolate can set.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 10 2017

Chicken Quesadillas

Chicken Quesadillas

I love quesadillas. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they’re so tasty! Which is why when I made them for Girls’ Night a little while ago, I was appalled to find that I didn’t have one quesadilla recipe on the site. Not one! Well, that was something that had to be corrected right away, so I give you a great chicken quesadilla recipe!

I used to eat my quesadillas the way you’ll find them in most restaurants – tons of goodness stuffed inside, with salsa and sour cream on the side. Let me tell you, this is not the best way to do it. It wasn’t until I was working in a restaurant that I saw a better way. Instead of piling salsa into a little cup on the side, put it right into the quesadilla. You won’t have to dip it in, inevitably causing all the goodness inside to spill out, and I promise you, the tortilla will not get soggy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil $0.11
  • 4 10-inch tortillas $1.64
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed $4.84
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded $1.35
  • 1 cup salsa $1.11
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped $0.75

Total cost $9.80
Cost per serving $2.45

Directions:

1.) Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil and allow it to also heat.

2.) Place one tortilla inside the pan. On one side of the tortilla, sprinkle about 1/2 cup cooked chicken, 1/2 cup cheese, 1/4 cup of salsa, and 1 tablespoon of cilantro.

3.) Flip the empty half of the tortilla over the chicken mixture and allow to cook for about 3 minutes, until the bottom half is golden brown. Flip the quesadilla over and fry for another 3 minutes, until that side is also golden brown.

4.) Remove quesadilla from the pan and allow it to sit while you prepare the others. (This will not only help keep the heat inside, but will also prevent the cheese from spilling out while it’s lava hot.) Repeat entire process with the remaining quesadillas, even adding more oil to the pan if it runs dry.

5.) Once all the quesadillas have been cooked, slice them into wedges.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

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