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Friday, August 31, 2007

Snapper with Coffee Butter

This is going to be a strange one. Because although I did make this recipe, I'm not exactly sure what it is. You see, I tend to buy things like meats and fish in large quantities and package them up for freezing with my Foodsaver machine... greatest invention EVER. I've been known to go a little crazy with the Foodsaver machine, once I tried to vacuum seal a loaf of bread before I froze it, and flattened it down like a pancake (resuscitation efforts prooved futile). Anyway... usually, I label things, but this time I forgot. So this is really "Mystery fish with Coffee Butter", I'm not actually positive that it is snapper. But, I thought it was still worth it to post the recipe, since I think any white fish would work well.

I didn't know what to expect when I tried this recipe, because it actually calls for a fair amount of coffee and you can taste it. It was unusual, but also quite good. I would make this again, but the kids didn't touch it, and I do feel it is important for them to EAT (you know once in a while anyway). I would have thought that they'd at least eat the rice I served, but apparently, the fish TOUCHED the rice... saucy fish!

Grilled Snapper with Coffee Butter
from The Catfish Institute

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 mystery fish fillets

1. Combine all ingredients except fish fillets.

2. Brush mixture very thickly onto fillets.

3. Grill over direct coals for about 5 minutes per side until fish flakes with a fork (you can broil in oven also).

4. Brush the fillets with the coffee butter again (if you have any left)and serve.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Orzo with Shrimp

Following the very challenging Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart recipe I posted yesterday, I though I would be kind and post a very simple "un-screw-up-able" recipe for Orzo with Shrimp.

I have this bad habit, I surf around on the internet looking at blogs and recipe sites, and when I see something I like, or a new idea strikes me I create an e-mail in my g-mail account and save it as a draft. I looked in there yesterday and there were 97 drafts. Some of them were notes to friends I had started and not finished, but about 80 were recipes or new ideas for recipes. I started to sort through them and clean them out. I noticed this one and I had everything at home that I needed to make it.

Mario and I loved this, but neither Claire or Marco were fussy about it. Claire wanted me to "mash" the tomatoes so they would be more like spaghetti sauce. I also made the mistake of serving this with a large slice of garlic bread, which was just enough to take the edge of their hunger, so they wouldn't eat their pasta.

Orzo with Shrimp

1 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups diced tomato
1 1/2 cups sliced green onions
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Toss the raw shrimp in 2 tsp olive oil and the clove of garlic. Let sit.

2. Boil the orzo for 5 minutes, drain.

3. In a large bowl mix orzo, diced tomatoes, green onion, lemon rind, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil and salt and pepper.

4. Place mixture in a greased shallow baking dish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes at 425F.

5. Just before ready to serve, saute shrimp over medium-high heat (no need to add more oil, the 2 tsp the shrimp have been sitting in is enough). For about 2 minutes until cooked. Serve over pasta.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

I think I should have titled this post "initiation by fire". I recently joined the Daring Bakers. Many of you have heard of them, but for those who haven't, it is a group of food bloggers (about 60 strong) who each month prepare the exact same recipe and post about it on their blogs, all on the same day. Here is the Daring Baker Blogroll.

I have always enjoyed the day the Daring Bakers posts went up. I would read all those blogs and marvel over how the exact same recipe could produce such varying results. Admitedly, I would sometimes snicker to myself in a very smug and superior way when I saw a result that turned out far less favorably than some of the other stellar creations. Well, I humbly beg the forgiveness of each and every Daring Baker that I ever snickered at.

This tart kicked my ass! To make it worse, most of the other Daring Bakers seemed to consider this one of the easier challenges. I have to say, I'm already nervous about next month's challenge.

I had quite a bit of trouble with this tart. First, the crust. It was crumbly and very hard to roll out. I had to patchwork it together in the pan. Then, the caramel. I caremelized my sugar just fine, then "la-da-da-da, I'm doing great, I rock, this is so easy..." I pour the cream in.... "holy.... what the....?!?!". Everything seized up instantly. Took me forever to get it all melted again. Then it didn't set properly.

Then there was the mousse, and this layer was my own fault, I should have known better. I whipped the cream to perfection, and melted my chocolate. Then added it to the cream... and the cream all deflated. I should have cooled the chocolate first. I knew that, but the recipe DIDN'T SAY SO, and I was just so determined to follow the recipe to the letter.

I served this tart to guests. The good news is, it tasted really good. The bad news, I had to kind of slop it onto peoples plates and it looked nothing like a piece of a pie. Note: I froze the leftovers and cut a frozen slice, just to get a decent picture, but most of the caramel had already run out.

I am honestly dreading all the other Daring Baker posts today, I'm sure everyone else's challenge turned out perfectly.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour
One 9-inch(24-cm) square pan; 1 10-inch (26-cm) round baking pan

½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe below)
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
¼ cup (50 g) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).

2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.

3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour.

5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.

6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.

8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

To decorate: melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

Chocolate Shortbread Pastry

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Refrigeration :overnight
To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
or 10 inches (26 cm round)

1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
2 eggs
4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

A day ahead:

1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter.

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together

3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly

4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.

5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Butter Tart Squares

One of my very favorite cookbooks was a free gift that I got when registering for wedding gifts at The Bay (eons ago). The book is called "A Century of Canadian Homecooking" and it has a chapter for every decade since 1900 with recipes and the history of the dishes.

This recipe is from the chapter dedicated to "The Fifties". About these squares, the book says: "Squares and bars came in all shapes and sizes and were the mainstay of suburban kitchens. Bazaars, teas, bridge luncheons, coffee parties, all required home baking."

Well, I certainly didn't bring these to a Bazaar (what the heck is a bazaar??) or a bridge luncheon. And I do wonder what the difference is between a "tea" and a "coffee party"... what if you go to a "tea" and ask for a cup of coffee? Do you get thown out? Ostracized?

I just happen to love butter tarts, and this is a nice simple (way less finicky) version.

Butter Tart Squares
from "A Century of Canadian Homecooking" by Carole Ferguson and Margaret Fraser

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins

1. For base: cream butter with sugar and blend in flour until crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 8" square baking dish. Bake at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. For topping: Combine all ingredients and spread over base. Bake and additional 30 minutes.

3. Cool in pan and cut into 16 squares.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grilled Italian Dressing Chicken

This is a real "go to" recipe for me. Everyone has that recipe they make when they have NO IDEA what the heck to make for dinner. This is mine. I always have the ingredients in the house, which isn't hard because there are only three ingredients.

Basically, you just marinate the chicken in store bought Italian dressing. It makes the chicken so moist and juicy. I always use the fat free dressing (and the recipe doesn't seem to suffer at all). The more time you have to marinate the chicken, the better. I usually, take the chicken out of the freezer in the morning and pour the dressing into the ziploc bag right away. When I get home from work, it is all defrosted and marinated.

Grilled Italian Dressing Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian Dressing (can be fat free)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Marinate the chicken breasts in the Italian Dressing.

2. Place on grill over direct heat for about 15-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

3. 5 minutes before chicken is cooked, sprinkle 1 tbsp of Parmesan on top of each breast.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Blogging by Mail Package

My Blogging by Mail Package has arrived from Karen in Canberra, Australia. Actually it arrived almost two weeks ago, just before we went camping, but I had to do a little detective work to figure out the name of Karen's blog, so I could post a link.

Finally, I sat down with a list of all the Blogging by Mail participants from Stephanie's blog, Dispensing Happiness, and a big marker, and used the process of elimination to determine that Karen's blog is A Cracking Good Egg. The funniest part of all, is that I've visited her blog many times, but never realized.

I explained the premise behind the blogging my mail event in the post I wrote when the package I sent was received by Graeme in England. Check it out here.

There were some exciting things in my package from Karen:

1. A copy of Delicious Magazine - a great food magazine from Australia (how did Karen know I have a food magazine fetish?)

2. A silicone pastry brush - if you don't have one of these, get one!

3. A jar of Rosella Flower Jam - this looks very intriguing and I haven't tried it yet. I think I am going to wait until the next time I bake homemade bread to open this and try some.

4. Koko Black Chocolates - I think these cute little chocolates were shaped like Koalas... before they melted. But no matter, they were still delicious. Actually, I think I might have to say this was the best chocolate I've ever tasted!

5. Some nougat, in three different flavours - I've never tried this before, and it was delicious.

6. A bag of cashew nuts - these were the first to disappear.

7. A couple of bookmarks - the best one was carved out of very thin wood.

8. A recipe for chocolate chip cookies - I am not sharing this today. You will have to wait until I make it and post the pictures.

So thank you Karen, for a fabulous Blogging by Mail package!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Couscous with Tomato and Olives

I can't tell you how much I love couscous. I only really discovered couscous about 2 or 3 years ago, but since then I can't get enough. I make it during the week, just about anytime I would have previously cooked rice, because couscous is simple and lightening quick. You just add boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Voila. Done. You can add anything that tickles your fancy. Make it with stock instead of water, add garlic, veggies, lemon, white wine. Anything. Once I made it with apple juice and added cinnamon and raisins to go with a pork roast. Yum!

This is the couscous that I made to go along with the lamb chops that I posted yesterday. I wanted it to have a sort of Mediterranean feel so I added a lot of the things I would normally put in a Greek salad. It turned out perfect. The leftovers of this dish we ate cold the next day as a salad and it was equally good that way.

Couscous with Tomato and Olives

1 1/2 cup water
1 cup couscous
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring water to a boil. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a bottle mix together the dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper). Shake the bottle well to thicken the dressing.

3. Add onions, tomatoes, feta and olives along with dressing to the couscous. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops

We love to grill lamb chops, they are so easy and quick. This is a recipe that I just made for the first time, and we really enjoyed it. I served these lamb chops on a bed of store bought tabbouleh salad. On the side we had a Mediterranean style couscous and grilled vegetables. Overall it was a very very nice meal.

I didn't crush the dried rosemary before I marinated the lamb. The kids weren't too impressed with that, they kept picking them out and saying there were "twigs and sticks" in their dinner. Oh well, one time somebody found a bread tab in their dinner, and another time I baked that little corner you cut off the milk bags into a loaf of banana bread... (eating my food can be a risky undertaking). So overall, a couple of twigs isn't so bad.

So, what's the strangest thing that accidentally found it's way into YOUR cooking (or maybe I'm the only one that happens to)...

Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops
adapted from Readers Digest

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tso grated lemon zest
3 tbsp, fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 lamb chops
1 lemon cut into wedges

1. Mix together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add chops and marinate for about 4 hours. Mixing occassionally.

2. Preheat the grill, and place chops directly over hot coals. We like ours medium rare, so they cook really fast (2-3 minutes per side is plenty).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chocolate Mocha Mousse Filled Cupcakes

As promised yesterday, here are the cupcakes that I made for myself for my birthday. Believe it or not, I didn't try one. Yeah, I know, I am a bit neurotic... Mario goes out and I dive into the peanut butter with a spoon (because if no ones sees you eat it, the calories don't count, right? Sort of like, if a tree falls down in the forest and there was no one there to hear it, was it fattening?). But then I deprive myself of a cupcake on my birthday. Go figure. I'm blaming it on my Mom, because she's skinnier than me.

It's OK though, all is not lost. Mario and the kids are going out without me tonight, and there are still two left!! (he he he)

Anyway, according to all my many cupcake tasters, these ones were VERY VERY good. So why don't you whip yourself up a batch, and then go hide in the closet and eat them all!

I got this recipe from Chef Jules over at Gourmet a Go Go.

Chocolate Mocha Mousse Filled Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups strong brewed coffee, cooled

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line or grease two 12 cup muffin tins.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until creamy. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients beating just until incorporated. Mix in coffee until smooth (don't overmix).

3. Fill 18 of the muffin tins with batter. Bake at 350F for 22-24 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely on racks.

4. For filling: combine chocolate chips and coffee in a double boiler. Stir until melted. Let cool slightly.

5. In a large bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in the melted chocolate just until incorporated.

6. Cut a 3/4" cone out of the bottom of a cupcake. (note: I did this for the first few, and then for the rest, I cut the cone from the top. It will be covered with icing anyway). Cut the tip off the cone and discard (i.e. make you husband eat them all).

7. Fill each cupcake with filling and replace the reserved cones. Chill.

8. Make Glaze: In a double boiler heat cream until just starting to simmer. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Dip each cupcake into the chocolate. Chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Olive and Anchovy Bites

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. I got tons of e-mails and comments. It was great!

I ended up making some chocolate mocha cupcakes for my birthday cake, but I'm not posting them today (sorry) because it was too dark last night when we were eating them to take nice pictures. I will post them tomorrow.... but here's a teaser.... my Mom said, "These are the best cupcakes I've ever had in my life!"... of course she's my Mom which obligates her to say stuff like that, but still you might want to come back and check out the recipe tomorrow, just in case...

As for my gifts, I did really well. I thought I would be getting a tacky pair of earrings or something from the kids, but I guess they are good little shoppers. Claire and Marco got me a Cuisinart Hand Blender (Mario swears he didn't try to influence their choice). Mario got me a very nice Chef's knife. When little Marco handed me the wrapped up package he said, "Mommy, this one is VERY SHARP..." OK Bud, thanks! My parent's gave me a Kitchen Aid food processor, which I can't wait to take for a whirl (ba da bum).

My parents and Mario and the kids took me out to dinner at a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant called Edoko. The Teppan chef put on quite a show and the kids loved it. Although at first when the chef lit a huge fire on the grill, I don't think Marco knew it was SUPPOSED to happen, and he looked petrified. When he notice no one else was panicking and running for the exits, he started to laugh too. He pointed and said, "that guy is FUNNY!" and Claire said, "Pay attention Mommy, OK? This guy is gonna teach you how to cook, OK?" Uh thanks sweetie...

Today I am posting a nice little appetizer that I served for my parent's when they came to dinner a few weeks ago. These were really tasty, although the kids didn't like them too much. They were salty and yummy and they went very well with a cold beer before dinner. The recipe calls for some sea salt to be sprinkled on them just before baking, but I left this off, because I figured with the olives and the anchovies, they would be salty enough.

Olive and Anchovy Bites
from "Mediterranean Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chilled butter
1 cup finely grated Gruyere
2oz can of anchovy filets in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt

1. Place flour, butter, cheese, anchovies, olives and cayenne in a food processer. Pulse until the mixture forms a dough. (It was while I was trying to make this recipe that my old food processor 'gave up the ghost' the shaft was completely stripped (overuse I guess). Hence the birthday present.)

2. Wrap the dough and chill for 20 minutes.

3. Roll out dough thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 2" wide strips and then cut across each strip diagonally to make little triangles. Don't worry if they aren't equilateral. Most of mine were isosceles and scalene triangles. (a little geometry lesson there).

4. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 400F for about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Walnut and Ricotta Cake

Well I am back from camping and my week away from the computer (it was hell), I think I may be obsessed with checking my comments and my blog traffic. So, I'm back, and I'm never leaving again, I promise!!

As today is my birthday, I thought I would post a cake recipe. This isn't a traditional birthday cake, but it is a favorite of mine. It is light and moist and just yummy perfection. I actually made this cake a week or so ago for our wedding anniversary. I will make some other sort of cake today, for my birthday.

We are on holidays this week and I was looking forward to sleeping in this morning, but Marco woke me up at 6am to tell me it is my birthday, he was beside himself with excitement. I think it is because of the present he picked out for me.

Mario took the kids shopping yesterday and let them each pick out presents for me (translation, I am getting some gaudy unwearable piece of costume jewelry that I will have to pretend to love and wear everyday for the next month). I will let you all know tomorrow what my presents were.

Walnut and Ricotta Cake
from "Mediterranean Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

1 cup walnut pieces
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
finely grated rind of 1 orange
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
6 tbsp flour

To finish:
4 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp brandy
2oz bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, grated.

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and line the bottom of a 9" springform pan.

2. Roughly chop and toast the walnuts (I toast in a dry frying pan over medium heat for just a few minuted until the nuts start to brown slightly).

3. Cream together the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, orange rind, ricotta cheese, flour and walnuts. Mix together.

4. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff. Gradually whisk in the remaining sugar. Using a large metal spoon, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the rest.

5. Turn the mixture into the prepared springform pan and bake for about 30 minutes until risen and firm. Leave the cake to cool in the pan.

6. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan with 1 tbsp water. Press through a sieve and stir in the brandy. Coat the top and sides of the cake with the brandy mixture. Decorate generously with chocolate shavings.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

I had my in-laws over for dinner last weekend, and I served lamb burgers with tzatziki. I got the idea from Brooke over at Bear Necessities. These were very good, I especially loved the homemade tzatziki. I had a pile leftover and we ate it the next day as a veggie dip.

I served the lamb burgers with my greek salad and greek potatoes.

I am going to be out of town camping without a computer for a few days this week, I will be cooking up a storm over the campfire and I'm even going to make another attempt to make a successful Camp Fire Bread. I apologize in advance for the lack of posts this week, but if you find you really miss me, and you can't live without me, I do have 126 recipes in my archives, so drop by anyway and read some of my older posts.

Lamb Burgers

2 lbs ground lamb
1 small onion, diced fine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

1. Mix lamb with onion, parsley, oregano, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and mix together. Note: you don't need an egg to bid the lamb as you do with beef, because lamb is higher in fat.

2. Grill over direct coals until the burgers reach desired doneness.

3. Serve the burgers in pita pockets with tomato, lettuce and tzatziki.


2 cups plain yoghurt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 english cucumber
2 tbsp fresh dill

1. Place the yoghurt in a strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth. Put the strainer in a larger bowl to catch liquid and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours (or overnight). This will make the yoghurt nice and thick.

2. Peel and very finely chop the cucumber. Mix into yoghurt with miced garlic, shopped dill and salt to taste.

3. This is even better made a day ahead.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Calzone with Chicken and Artichoke

Friday nights Mario and kids often take me out for pizza (OK, actually I take THEM out for Pizza, but I let them think they take me). But last Friday night, I didn't feel like going out, so I decided to make a pizza at home. My pizza ended up morphing into Calzones, because we wanted to barbecue them, and two Calzone's fit on the grill much better than two pizzas.

I decided to stuff the calzones with chicken, artichokes, assorted veggies and pizza sauce. This was despite serious familial pressure from all corners to make a boring old pepperoni calzone. I did give in on the pizza sauce, originally I was going to use pesto.

I ended up making my own pizza sauce, and I was really pleased with it. I looked up several recipes on the internet to get an idea for the general ingredients, and then I used a "taste as you go method". For once, I remembered to write everything down. This sauce was really good, and very very easy to make, no cooking involved, I just made it in the blender.

Whenever I make homemade pizza crust or bread, when it's done rising, I'll call out, "Who wants to punch down my dough".... and Marco drops EVERYTHING and comes running. He likes to punch things, and much better for him to punch pizza dough, than Claire.

Calzone with Chicken and Artichokes

Pizza Crust:
Use refridgerated pizza dough, or make my pizza dough, and you can find the recipe in my Strawberry and Asparagus Pizza post.

Pizza Sauce:
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
fresh ground pepper

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth but chunky (smooth but chunky? that sounds straightforward, doesn't it?)

2. This will make a lot of pizza sauce, so you can freeze what you don't use.

Calzone Stuffing:
1 can Artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
3 chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 zucchini, chopped
3 large mushrooms, chopped
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook chicken breasts in oven on a cookie sheet (350 for about 30 minutes). Remove from oven and cut into bite size pizzaz

2. Saute onion, red pepper, green pepper, zucchini and mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Add artichokes and chicken.

3. Assemble calzone. Roll out 1/2 dough into a 14" circle. Spread with pizza sauce, sprinkle with 1/2 of mozzarell and 1/2 of Parmesan. Place 1/2 of the filling mixture on half of the circle. Fold the other half of the dough up to cover the filling and fold and pinch the edges to seal. Repeat for second calzone.

4. Brush lightly with olive oil and dust with cornmeal. Grill on the barbeque over indirect coals for about 10 minutes per side. (Alternatively you can bake in the oven at about 400F for the same amount of time, or until it is nicely browned on the outside)

5. Serve with a little extra pizza sauce for dipping.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Decadent Scrambled Eggs

I am really a walking contradiction, and definitely a "do as I say, not as I do" sort of person. In other words what I say is, "you should eat a nice healthy well-balanced breakfast that is low in fat and high in fibre and protein."

What I do? Well...I make these scrambled eggs. But a word of warning - they will make your bottom look just as lumpy as the eggs in the picture (that is purely a suppostion...OF COURSE!)

The funniest part is, most of the time I will have scrambled egg beaters which have almost no fat. But then I'll be sitting there in the kitchen with my carton of egg beaters on the counter, ready to spray the no-fat cooking spray into the griddle to scramble them up. Then something takes a hold of me... it's something evil, and nasty. It speaks to me from within, in a deep echoey Vincent Price sort of voice.... "Jaaaaanet.... you neeeed to add creeeeam, and loooots of buttter...."

Then I realize that my problems run much deeper than a lumpy bottom, so I make the eggs anyway.

This recipe is from Bill Granger, and no you didn't misread it, there is 1/3 cup of heavy cream per heavy bottom serving.

Scrambled Eggs
per person

2 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch salt
1/2 tbsp butter

1. Whisk together the eggs, cream and salt.

2. Heat butter in a non-stick frying pan, over high heat.

3. Pour in egg mixture, and once it starts to set, begin to gently fold the eggs towrds the middle of the pan.

4. Remove the eggs when they are just set.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Chicken in Phyllo with Spinach Salad

I wanted to start this post by saying a big 'thank you' to my newest sponsor (okay okay, its my ONLY sponsor), Emeals for You.

Emeals for You is an on-line recipe and meal planning resource targeted to busy parents who struggle to find the time and energy to put nutritious well-balanced meals on the table for their families. We've all been there, right?

I went on over to the Emeals site to check it out and before long I found myself hitting the "print" button on tons recipes (that would be the recipe hoarder in me).

I chose two recipes to make for dinner last night. The first, Chicken in Phyllo really appealed to me, because I like just about anything that comes wrapped in pastry, and as pastry goes, phyllo is a pretty healthy option. The second is a spinach salad that has dried cranberries, feta and pecans. Yum-mo (that would be the Rachel Ray in me)

Best part of all? My kids ate it pretty well... yabba dabba doo (that would be the... oh nevermind)

I would definitely make both these dishes again, but the second time around, I would use less lemon in the chicken and I would use real garlic, rather than garlic powder in the salad dressing.

Phyllo Wrapped Chicken
from emealsforyou.com

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 tbsp onion, chopped
4 tbsp pecans, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/3 cup fresh snap peas
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 medium lemon
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp dry white wine
4 medium chicken breasts
8 sheets phyllo pastry
2 tbps olive oil, for brushing
pinch salt and pepper

1. Melt olive oil and butter in a hot pan. Add carrots, celery, snap peas, onions, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, zest and lemon juice. Cook until almost tender.

2. Add white wine, pecans and chicken. Season chicken breats and add to the mixture. Cook chicken for about 5 more minutes.

3. On large work area lay down one sheet of phyllo pastry and brush with olive oil. Add another sheet and brush with olive oil. Place a chicken breast and a spoonful of vegetable mixture near the bottom edge of the phyllo.

4. Fold the sides in and roll up the phyllo to make a bundle. Repeat with remaining breasts.

5. Bake on a parchment lined cookies sheet for about 15 minutes at 375F or until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle of the chicken breast registers 165F.

Spinach Salad
from emealsforyou.com

2/3 lb fresh baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/3 of a medium lemon (about 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
4 tsp romano cheese, grated
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp toasted pecans, roughly chopped
3 medium mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Lightly toast pecans.

2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Greek Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a friend of mine, "Do you have a recipe for a good Greek Salad?". Of course I do! Look who you're asking! Problem was all my recipes are tucked away in my recipe file at home, and I was at work. So, I gave her my recipe from memory (this was actually fairly irresponsible of me, as it had the potential for a great deal of reputational risk). But I figured, it's a salad, as if I don't know how to throw together a basic Greek Salad off the top of my head.

So, I sent my makeshift memorized recipe, and I never heard back. No news is good news right? Unless I poisoned everyone, then no news is bad news...

A few weeks later, this same friend had Mario and I over for dinner. She served Greek Salad. It was FABULOUS! I kept commenting, "Andrea, this is the BEST Greek Salad I've ever had". She says, "um Janet, it's YOUR recipe."....


I get home, and I immediately dig up my original Greek Salad recipe as well as the e-mail I had sent her with my memorized recipe. They were different! Ooops.

But it's OK, as it turns out, I am brilliant and I should really just stop following recipes altogether. I had remembered the basic ingredients pretty well, but I had the proportions messed up. I guess it was one of those mistakes that turns out to be a good thing... like moldy bread that cures infections (yes, that's right, I just compared myself to Alexander Flemming). But, please don't underestimate the importance of a really good Greek Salad recipe. I've made it twice in the last week.

Greek Salad
adapted from my own recipe, by mistake

1 large head Romaine Lettuce
1/2 half red onion, sliced
1 English Cucumber, sliced
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 cup Greek Feta, crumbled

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Place lettuce in a large bowl.

2. Mix dressing ingredients in a bottle and give it a good shake.

3. Toss lettuce with about 1/2 the dressing.

4. Place remaining salad ingredients on top of lettuce, and drizzle with some more dressing.