Kate's Cuisine

Feb 12 2015

Chilled Asparagus Salad

Chilled Asparagus Salad

A new menu item at work led to a brief discussion on what constitutes a salad. Do the ingredients need to be cold and raw? Does it need to be dressed, or can salads be left “naked”? A quick look online won’t give you many answers either, as the many, many definitions from the purists to the modernists range in what can actually be called salad. An explanation that quickly stood out as my favourite is that from The Free Dictionary. While it’s not actually a definition, it is a look into the origin of the word “salad“. According to their website, “Salt was and is such an important ingredient in salad dressings that the very word “salad” is based on the Latin word for salt.” While this Chilled Asparagus Salad isn’t served entirely raw, it is cold, dressed, and contains a bit of salt. Did I mention that it’s delicious, too?

1 bundle asparagus, washed with ends trimmed $4.99
2 tablespoons sugar $0.02
2 tablespoons orange juice $0.04
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar $0.16
1 teaspoon honey $0.03
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard $0.24
4 tablespoons olive oil $0.12
Salt $0.02

Total cost $5.62
Cost per serving $1.40

1.) Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the asparagus and let it soak for a few minutes. This helps refresh the spears and will wake up any of them that are limp.

2.) Place a large pot of water over high heat and salt generously. Bring to a boil and then add asparagus spears. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until asparagus is bright green and still very crispy. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove stalks from the boiling water and transfer immediately to the same ice bath they soaked in before being cooked.

3.) Line a plate or a casserole dish with a tea towel. Using the same slotted spoon or tongs, remove the asparagus spears from the ice water and transfer them to the tea towel. Place another tea towel on top and lightly press to dry the asparagus. You want the stalks to be as dry as possible, so that the dressing will stick to it.

4.) Just before you’re ready to serve, combine the orange juice, white wine vinegar, honey, mustard, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to blend all ingredients and then, while whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil until it’s fully incorporated and the dressing is smooth and slightly thickened.

5.) Place asparagus in a bowl, pour dressing over top, and then arrange stalks on a plate.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Feb 07 2015

Valencia Style Rice

Valencia Rice

When I first saw “Valencia Style Rice” in The Recipe Encyclopedia, I thought it might be a new way to prepare rice using different techniques and – a quick look at the ingredient list told me – items that I had never put with rice before. As I was making it I couldn’t help but wonder what made it “Valencia Style”. Is it the ingredients? Is this a dish that’s eaten quite often in Valencia? Is there a real place called Valencia? With so many questions, I had to look it up.

Turns out, Valencia rice is a short grain rice, although it is sometimes also called paella rice because, as you could probably guess, it’s often used to make paella. It also comes from Valencia – the real place, that’s the third largest city in Spain. It’s a fairly starchy rice and is distinct from other types of rice because it can absorb quite a bit of moisture without breaking down. It’s sometimes compared to Arborio rice, although the Italian variety is much starchier and will result in much creamier dishes. And as it turns out, you can also substitute the regular short-grain rice that you can find in any grocery store here in North America.

1 1/4 cups short grain rice $0.32
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
1 tablespoon butter $0.06
1 medium onion, chopped $0.47
Zest and juice of 1 orange $0.58
1/2 cup white wine $1.05
1 1/2 cups chicken stock $1.50
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish $0.33

Total cost $4.34
Cost per serving $1.09

1.) Soak rice in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

2.) Heat oil and butter in a medium pan over low heat. Add onion and cook until golden brown and soft. Reduce heat to low, add rice, stir, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the grains are lightly golden.

3.) Add the orange zest, juice, wine, and stock. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 8 – 10 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

4.) Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

5.) Separate grains from each other lightly with a fork. Gently pour onto a serving platter and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Jan 31 2015

How to Get the Highest, Fluffiest Pancakes (Plus the Best Pancake Recipe)!

Pancakes

The phrase “flat as a pancake” has never made much sense to me. I mean, yes pancakes are supposed to be flat in that they are smooth, lie horizontally, and don’t have major bumps or indentations. But, when it comes to how high that stack stands, it should be as tall as possible. That is after all, the only way to get pancakes that are light and fluffy on the inside, and that stand up tall and proud. Achieving that result has been my mission for the past couple years, I’m ashamed to say. I just haven’t been able to do it. And no matter how many tricks I tried, I haven’t been able to master light, fluffy pancakes. Until now.

Okay, so you want to know the secret? It’s in the bubbles. Undoubtedly you’ve seen that just about every single recipe for pancakes says that once they’re in the pan, let them cook for a few minutes “until bubbles appear.” But, that’s pretty vague, isn’t it? I mean, how many bubbles are you supposed to wait for? Just a couple? All 187 that will eventually appear? And does it matter where those bubbles are on the pancake? In the middle, around the edges? It can drive a person mad trying to figure it all out, and that’s only if you know that bubbles equal fluffy. Otherwise, you’re just flailing spatula in a pancake world. Trust me, I know.

So here’s the thing. After a Sunday morning when I was running a bit further behind on breakfast than usual, I let my pancakes sit in the pan before flipping them longer than I typically would. When I finally got back to the stove, the tops of them were nearly completely covered in circles, and the batter on top was even nearly set. Not cooked mind you, but set to the point where they had stiffened and were almost set. I thought the other side might be burned, but I flipped it over and it was perfect! Not only did I have golden pancakes, but they were actually fluffy, and all my pancake problems were solved! Now I pass this info on to you, so that you can also avoid flat-lining when it comes to your morning cakes.

And when you’re making those fluffy pancakes, make sure you use this recipe. It’s the best, and I’d been on the hunt for it just as long as I’d been waiting for my cakes to rise.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour $0.21
1 tablespoon baking powder $0.03
1 pinch of salt $0.01
1 teaspoon sugar $0.01
2 large eggs, beaten $0.40
2 tablespoons butter, melted and fully cooled (it has to be completely cooled, or you’ll get crystals in your batter) $0.06
1 1/3 cups milk $0.37
Butter, for frying $0.06

Total cost $1.15
Cost per serving $0.28

1.) Put all the ingredients, except for the frying butter, in a blender and blend until smooth. Let the batter sit for 20 minutes.

2.) Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat (but with the burner set closer to medium than to high.) When the butter starts to sizzle, pour small circles into the pan. Let them cook for a few minutes, until LOTS of bubbles have formed on the top, and the top is nearly set.

3.) Flip the pancakes and let them cook through on the other side for 2 – 4 minutes. Move to a platter and repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remaining batter.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jan 30 2015

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas have become a regular staple in my house and, like any other dish that starts to make a regular appearance, they stand the risk of becoming boring. I try to mix it up by adding Spanish rice sometimes, switching out beef for chicken or pork, and playing around with different enchilada sauces. This time I left out the rice, and instead served them with some chips and salsa (which the girls were just tickled by). But my enchiladas are always, always served on a bed of shredded lettuce. It cools them down if you feel the chipotle may be too much, and also adds a bit of freshness to each bite.

For the enchiladas:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil $0.02
3/4 cup pico de gallo $1.25
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of sauce from the can $0.33
3/4 cup water
1 cup black beans $0.59
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed $4.50
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped $0.25
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, plus 1/2 cup $1.88
8 12-inch tortillas $2.64
2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce $0.66

For the sauce:

3 fresh tomatoes, pureed in a food processor $0.84
2 1/2 cups chicken stock $1.25
2 tablespoons cumin $0.69
2 tablespoons chili powder $0.94
1 tablespoon onion powder $0.29
1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.33
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01
1 tablespoon butter $0.06
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour $0.01

Total cost $16.55
Cost per serving $4.14

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray or brush a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish with vegetable oil.

2.) Wrap the tortillas tightly in aluminum foil and place them in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes to warm them. This will help make them more pliable when it’s time to fill and roll them.

3.) For the sauce, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet set over medium heat. When melted add the flour and the chili powder and whisk the mixture smooth. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is golden and bubbling, and then add the pureed tomatoes, chicken stock, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder, whisking until everything is smooth. Let the sauce bubble and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until it’s slightly thickened. Season and taste, then adjust seasoning as necessary. Set sauce aside.

4.) For the filling, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup pico de gallo, chopped chipotle and sauce, and cook until the mixture begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the beans and water and bring to a gentle boil. Add the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper, and stir. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

5.) Spread some of the enchilada sauce along the bottom of the casserole dish. One by one, lay out each tortilla and spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling down the centre of each. Top with 3 tablespoons of the Monterey Jack cheese and drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of the sauce over top. Roll the tortilla up by first taking hold of the edge closest to you and folding it over top of the filling, pressing the tortilla in tightly around the filling as you do. Then, grab both sides at once and fold those up and over the filling, and the portion of the tortilla you’ve already rolled. Then just continue rolling the rest of the tortilla up. As you finish rolling each enchilada, place it seam-side down in the casserole dish.

6.) Once all of the enchiladas have been rolled, spoon some of the enchilada sauce over top each of them. Use the remaining 1/2 cup Monterey Jack to spread over top the enchiladas. Cover the casserole dish with foil, place in the preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes.

7.) Remove from oven and let enchiladas rest for 2 minutes. Place about 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce on each plate, and place one enchilada on top. If desired, garnish with salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and/or sour cream.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

Jan 29 2015

How to Make Meringue Nests

Meringue Nests

Pavlova is a dessert that shows up regularly in my house and while I typically serve it in a wine or cocktail glass for presentation sake, sometimes it can be awkward to eat this way. So last time I went to make it, I wondered about making meringue nests in which the fruit and whipped cream could sit. It would be easier to eat, and it might also make for a nice presentation. Turns out I was right on both counts, and all you need to form meringues into meringue nests is a spoon.

6 egg whites $1.20
1 teaspoon cream of tartar $0.29
3/4 cups icing sugar $0.42
1 teaspoon vanilla extract $0.22

Total cost $2.13
Cost per serving $0.53

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.) Place egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer and, using a whisk attachment, beat on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Then, with the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the icing sugar a little at a time, until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla extract.

3.) Drop mounds of the meringue onto the parchment paper, about three inches in diameter each. Using the back of a spoon, make a well in the centre of each meringue, forming the nest for the berries and whipped cream.

4.) Place the meringues into the preheated oven and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meringues are just beginning to crisp on the outside and are cooked throughout.

5.) When the meringues are finished cooking, turn the heat off in the oven, and crack the door slightly. Let the meringues cool in the oven for 30 minutes before removing them.

6.) Spoon in the filling of your choice before serving and enjoying!

Jan 27 2015

Pork Roast and Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pork

I love recipes that you can make in the slow cooker. Not only are they super easy, but for working parents such as myself, it’s reassuring to know that the family is still eating a nutritious meal even while you’re at work. This recipe gives you an entire meal – including protein, starch, and vegetable – and it’s super tasty, too. I used a bone-in roast, which gave us some gorgeous pork chops once the roast was cut; and because of all the onions in there the sauce that you spoon over top of the lot once it’s done is reminiscent of French Onion soup. Have you ever had French Onion soup poured over pork? It’s pretty darn good.

2 small onions, thinly sliced $0.94
3 1/2 pounds bone-in pork loin roast $13.10
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
1 cup hot water Free!
1/4 cup sugar $0.05
3 tablespoons vinegar (any kind you like) $0.42
2 tablespoons soy sauce $0.10
1 tablespoon ketchup $0.05
1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.33
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce $0.03
5 potatoes, peeled and quartered $1.05
1 – 2 cups baby carrots (depending on how much you need or want) $1.14
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish $0.30
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $17.59
Cost per serving $3.51

1.) Season the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When hot, add the pork roast and sear on all sides for 3 – 5 minutes, until it’s browned on all sides. Turn off heat and transfer to a plate.

2.) Lay half of the onion slices evenly on the bottom of the slow cooker. Evenly spread the potato quarters over top of the onion slices and spread the remaining onion slices over top of the potatoes. Place the pork roast on top of the potatoes and fill in the sides with baby carrots.

3.) In a bowl combine the hot water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic powder, hot sauce, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk to thoroughly mix all ingredients together, and then pour over the pork roast and other ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker with a lid and set on low for 6 – 8 hours, or high for 4 – 5 hours.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jan 26 2015

Pork Chops and Green Beans in a Beurre Blanc Sauce

Beurre Blanc

Pork chops didn’t use to be my favourite thing to eat. They always seemed to turn out too dry, too flavourless, or just too boring. But I’m still mindful of the many plates of boring, plain pork chops that I’ve served in the past and I’m always trying to find ways to make them better. Luckily the last time chops showed up in my fridge,I was reminded of a Julia Child quote, “With enough butter, anything is good.” I decided to take Julia to task, and see just how much butter I could put on the plate and still stand it. Turns out, when you make Julia’s beurre blanc sauce, that amounts to quite a bit.

Remember when making a beurre blanc that it can be quite finicky. It separates easily and cannot be held, even over the lowest of heat, for very long. It’s for this reason that you need to have the rest of the meal prepared before you even start making the sauce. This way you can just pour it over your meat or side the second the sauce is ready.

4 boneless pork chops $5.72
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
1 pound green beans $3.49
2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar $0.20
2 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine (lemon juice can be substituted) $0.36
1 tablespoon shallots, very finely minced $0.18
1 cup butter, well chilled and cut into 16 pieces $0.89
1/2 teaspoon white pepper $0.03
Salt $0.02
Black pepper $0.01

Total cost $10.96
Cost per serving $2.74

1.) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Place a steamer basket inside of a large saucepan with about an inch of water. Wash and trim green beans, and place them inside the basket. Season the beans lightly with salt, then cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the water to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat off, keep the lid on, and leave the beans inside while the rest of the meal is cooking. By only having the water boiling for just a few seconds, you will steam the beans without over-cooking them.

3.) Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot, place them in and cook the chops for five – 7 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned and caramelized. Then flip and cook the other side for another 4 – 5 minutes. After the chops have been seared nicely on both sides, place them on a baking sheet and put them in the preheated oven. This will keep the chops warm, without overcooking them.

4.) Place the shallots, white wine vinegar, wine or lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and white pepper in a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan. Turn heat onto high and boil the mixture until it’s reduced to the consistency of syrup. There should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining.

5.) Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately beat in 2 pieces of the chilled butter. Continue whisking until the butter is softened and creams into the rest of the mixture. Then, set the saucepan over very low heat and beating constantly, continue adding the remaining pieces of butter one at a time, waiting until one piece is softened and creamed into the mixture before adding another. Once all the butter has been added, the sauce will be thick and ivory-coloured, and the consistency of a light hollandaise. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper.

6.) To plate, mound the starch (potatoes or rice, typically) in the centre of the plate, and plate pork chops and beans on top of each other. You can do this in whatever order you’d like. I chose to place the beans on top of the chops, but I might do it differently next time, for presentation sake. Drizzle the beurre blanc sauce over top.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

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