31 August 2008

Beef and Pepper Stew on Basmati Rice

This photo is a couple days old now, and I've even finished the leftovers. But I do want to get it posted before the end of the month and also there might be something new tonight, if I can keep myself up long enough to post that new potential photo.

Anyway, this was one of those dinners where I didn't pay enough attention to the instructions - it's got a 2-1/2 hr cooking time, and suddenly it was 6 in the evening and I had to get up early for work the next day and didn't need or want to be eating dinner at 8:30/9 at night. So even though I'm about to say that this was a braised dish, it maybe wasn't quite, since I cranked the heat up a fair bit and cut the cooking time down by half.

So delicious. My succinct explanation from my flickr account is probably the best one I could give: a braised beef stew with lots of luscious red peppers (which, though not roasted, tasted as if they were) and a sweet tomato sauce.

The meat was fall apart tender and the peppers were sweet and soft and even the skins didn't bother me as they sometimes do when left on in something like this. It tasted like it'd be cooked for ages. Definitely a make again dish.

27 August 2008

Mushroom and Spinach-stuffed Chicken with Green and Wax Beans

I have no fish pictures again this week, but I did actually eat fish once this week. I went out to a restaurant here in Calgary last night, Redwater Rustic Grille, for my birthday and had Salmon with Pear and Thyme Gastrique with Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers and Asparagus. Tonight's dinner was plated as an homage to yesterday's dinner, this time with chicken stacked up on the vegetables rather than salmon.

I'm not sure that I've actually got anything else to say about this meal. It tasted very good, the beans especially, but I am a fiend for fresh beans. (My favourite thing about going to my parents' house in summer is raiding their garden for fresh beans and peas.) It probably wasn't a special enough dinner for a birthday, but I got to combine two of my favourite food things - stuffed things and yellow things - and also I cooked it for myself and ate it alone, so it's just lucky I didn't eat peanut butter on rice crackers or something.

24 August 2008

Five Spice Pork with Basmati Rice and Spicy Vegetables

So... I got another new plate. I love this plate. I always get like this with new dishes, and never want to use any of the others, at least until the sheen wears off. Isn't it pretty though?

So this. This is a kind of weird combination of the two main components (the meat and the vegetables, that is, the white glare of rice makes it look more important than it is and I could have done without), since the meat is quite Asian in flavour and I guess the vegetables are a little more... American South or something.

The recipe for the vegetables called it an Asian-style Succotash, but I'm not sure what makes them Asian-style, except for the presence of snap peas. What it actually reminded me of was a Spicy Creamed Corn that I made a while back, except without the creamed bit and with some added peas. It was pretty good this way, but I liked it better as creamed corn.

I've made the five spice pork before, but it was a pretty different treatment, hence the new photograph. This was really very good, but I actually preferred it the other way. (See it here. So. Good.) It's slightly too sweet, which is something that I need to work at fixing, without ruining the sauce. You rub the meat with brown sugar and then later top it with Hoisin sauce, which seems to be primarily made of sugar, so it's a pretty heavy hit of sweetness. The sweet really works well with the cinnamon and licorice tastes of the five spice, but I didn't want to go quite so far. Probably I could just scale back the brown sugar a little more without ruining the taste.

21 August 2008

Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Soup

It was soup weather outside today, miserable and rainy and very cold. I had planned to make turkey meatballs and spaghetti, but then I thought I wanted mushrooms instead, and then I wanted soup instead of that, and so I found a recipe online that combined all of them. I'm not sure anymore where the recipe came from (I guess I could dig through my history and find it, but that seems like a hassle) but I'm glad I found it because it was an interesting soup and something I could and probably will make again.

I ended up making my own sausage, since I had ground turkey in the fridge rather than actual sausage meat. The recipe I found was meant to be a variation on Andouille sausage. I've never had it before, so I don't know how close to the real thing it is. (Probably not close at all, even setting aside that I used a totally wrong meat.) The sausage recipe itself was really good, definitely worth the small work of making it, and I could use that easily in other recipes as well.

Recipe: Homemade Turkey Sausage

I sort of made my own sausage today. I mean, only sort of because it's not like a put it in casing or anything like that, and I only made a 1/4lb of it and uh, yeah. But it was really good!

I found this recipe somewhere online for a variation of andouille sausage, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I had to kind of futz around with it, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out. I mean... really good. There's something oddly warm about it, which is probably that some of the flavours are very fall/winter flavours for me (clove and allspice and sage), and it wasn't as spicy as I'd thought/hoped it would be, but that's probably because I didn't have any cayenne and under-guessed how much red pepper flakes to put in instead.

Anyway, so I don't lose it, this is how I made the spice, for about 1lb ground pork (or turkey, which is what I used):

1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground bay leaves
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
(and 1 clove crushed garlic, when you mix it all together)

Like I said, it wasn't as spicy as I'd hoped it would be, but I did like the flavour a lot, and I added a lot of spice into the soup that I used the sausage in. That had some similar flavours - thyme and red pepper flakes, anyway, and then onions, garlic, sliced mushrooms and pasta. It came out looking a little bland because of the colour of the sliced mushrooms, pasta, and sausage. But it tasted really good. I think I'd definitely make this again on a rainy day.

ETA: Since I didn't put it in a casing - I wouldn't have wanted to even if I had a machine to do it, since I was cooking it for use in a soup - what I did was put all the raw meat into a zip-lock bag, then cut off a corner and used it like a piping bag. I piped out little three-quarter inch lumps of sausage meat straight into the hot frying pan and cooked it that way before adding it to the soup.

20 August 2008

Tagliatelle with Garlic and Tomatoes

It's kind of been a while again since I last posted. There are two excuses:

1. We had guests. While they were here, we either ate out or else someone cooked for everyone and I never got around to taking any pictures. It's funny, but I guess I actually felt a bit weird about taking food photos while they were here, though I don't know why since we took all sorts of pictures of all sorts of things. Still and all.

2. It was hot. There was a record-breaking high this week and the days before weren't all that far off. So I wasn't cooking. The only thing I made during those hot days was a Greek salad, which isn't interesting enough to photograph (and I have before). Mostly I ate nothing or else I ate out.

At any rate, after a week without making anything much, I had to ease myself back into the cooking saddle, so this is something easy and delicious: tagliatelle with a bit of garlic, barely heated diced tomato and some basil. So good. This is a really good way to use up slightly aged tomatoes.

13 August 2008

Baked BBQ Chicken with Sour Cucumber Salad

Today I made may be the most boring thing I've made (and photographed) in ages. It tasted good, but... it's just boring. There's really nothing to be said about it. It's the most basic chicken you can make, short of, say, poached chicken. The salad isn't a salad so much as chopped vegetables, with vinegar on them. I guess I spent too much time cleaning today to spend any energy on food.

To make: coat one chicken breast with barbecue sauce. Bake. Slice, then eat.

For the salad: Slice cucumbers. Grate carrots. Drizzle over vinegar. Eat.

12 August 2008

Chicken-Lentil Salad with Green Beans

I'm sometimes a little scared of lentils. I make plans to cook things with lentils, and then I don't. I think about ordering dahl when we get butter chicken, but then I don't. I'm not sure what makes me so uncertain - I feel like I must have had a bad experience with lentils at some point in the past, though I don't remember one - but I'm glad I finally got over my lentil fear. This was really tasty.

This salad is made up of green lentils, steamed green beans, diced chicken, diced tomato, green onion and a dressing made of mayonnaise, lemon juice... and I must be forgetting something. Dill weed. Salt and pepper. It still feels like I'm missing sometime, but at any rate, that is the basics.

Surprisingly good, a keeper recipe. I'm going to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, stuffed inside pita bread.

10 August 2008

Steak and Eggs with Fresh Tomato Salsa and Fried Potatoes

I'd thought that I'd posted a picture of this particular thing before, but I don't see it anywhere in the archives here, so I guess not. I know I have a better picture of it, when I made it some time back, but it's hidden in my archives at flickr. (I haven't got a professional account, so I have a limited number of photos that can be seen at any given time.)

Anyway, this is one of my favourite breakfast for dinner meals - steak and salsa on scrambled eggs with fried potatoes. It's a simple meal, the steak, eggs and potatoes are seasoned only with salt and pepper, and the salsa is just chopped tomato with garlic, some oregano and cilantro, and lemon juice. I had to use lime juice today, though, since we've run out of lemon juice and the stuff can't be found, fresh or bottled around here.


06 August 2008

Red Beans and Yellow Rice

Well, I don't know when or if this will get posted, at this rate, as my internet is up and down tonight and every time I try, I wind up having to retype this message. And that's nothing if not annoying.

At any rate, this is another recipe from a cookbook I recently picked up on Volumetrics - I think I mentioned it a couple days ago, with the Pasta Primavera recipe. Basically it's about a way of eating that lets you eat a lot of food in terms of volume, without eating a lot of calories. (IE. Eating mountains of vegetables.)

So this is a volumetrics version of rice and beans. I've never had whatever proper rice and beans would be, so I'm not sure how this compares to a more standard version of the dish, but it was quite tasty. Spicy and flavourful, even though it sort of had more bell peppers than I'd necessarily go after in any one sitting. I think it could have benefited from roasting the peppers first, just to get the skins off, because it bothered me to have little bits of skin peeling off here and there as I ate. (I don't like tomato skins in things either, if I cook them.)

The rice part I sort of made up on my own, trying to remember the ingredients for a yellow rice that I often make when I made Indian food. All I could remember is that it's got cumin and turmeric in it, so I did that again, and added some garam masala as well. It looks like it needed more turmeric to brighten up the colour, but I've never tried making yellow rice with brown rice before, so that might be why the colour didn't really take.

Anyway, this is what I'll be taking to work for lunch for the rest of the week, since the recipe makes a ton of the stuff.

05 August 2008

Baked Salmon with Garlic-Dill Sauce and Vegatable Pilaf

I've been sitting on this photo since Sunday, trying to decide if it would be worth posting or if I should just trash it. I mean... it's ugly. Really ugly and I can't imagine anyone would look at it and think it's a good menu for a meal.

It all tasted good. I should say that. It was just a meal suggestion from a cookbook - this fish with that salad and this pilaf - and I maybe shouldn't have followed it, because it did seem a bit silly to me. (I don't know why, just the light, tangy sauce on the fish doesn't seem to belong with a heavy rice dish.) I could have done with just plain rice and maybe green beans or asparagus or a leafy salad.

Still, I think I'm a tiny bit in love with the taste of that pilaf and the method of cooking it. It's really flavourful, and it's got this great bit of crunch (from just barely cooked zucchini) and all kinds of flavour from all the vegetables and just a bit of tarragon. But the colour is atrocious. It's cooked with mushrooms, and the only thing I can think of to explain this mess is that the colour of the gills stained the rice. How else did white rice get to be so dirty and dingy looking?

And then the salmon was light and nicely cooked and the garlic-dill sauce was perfectly garlicky and wonderful. But it had bones in it. I usually buy fillets of fish, not whatever this was (steaks? I guess), so I'm not used to dealing with the bones. I mean, they were large enough to pick out easily, but they just sort of gross me out anyway. Still, I have now managed to have fish two Sundays in a row. So I'll have to, metaphorically, pat myself on the back for that.

02 August 2008

Pasta Primavera with Tomato-Corn Chowder

A really tasty dinner, though clearly a bit much for one meal. I got this cookbook a week or so ago that's based on the idea of volumetrics, which is eating food that is high in volume, but low in calories. The idea is that most people in North America have lost the ability to know when they're full based on calories, and instead believe they're full when their body feels full. (Which is the difference, I imagine, between North Americans and the French, who seem to eat a lot of high calorie food, but who don't eat as much of it as we would.)

I can't remember if it was in this book or another one that I read about a study where people we given essentially bottomless bowls of soup, though they didn't know it, it would just keep filling as they ate it, and people would eat, say, four times what they'd have eaten if they'd been given a single bowl.

At any rate, the idea here is to eat the things you like, but to eat them in ways that volume is added without adding a lot of calories, so that you can feel full, without consuming too much calories or fat or whatever. So the pasta and the soup both have lower (or no) quantities of cream and other high calorie ingredients compared to similar, traditional recipes for the same things. They also have more vegetables in them, because vegetables are pretty well always big in volume, but low in calories.

The real test was how good it would taste, and they did taste good, though I should or could anyway have added some extra pepper to both dishes. (I love pepper.) It's fortunate that I like the taste of good fresh vegetables, because that's really what I got from these. They tasted bright and fresh.

I don't particularly like the colour of the soup, though; it looks like something from a can. Although maybe not because it isn't a fake bright red like canned tomato soup. At any rate, maybe it just needs some more tomatoes to bump up the colour a bit.