Saturday, May 30, 2020

The 2020 Canning Season Begins! Pickled asparagus- Batch recipe

This recipe is from BATCH, an amazing preserving book which includes preserving, fermenting, dehydrating recipes... I love that the stalks I don't use for this recipe are used to make asparagus relish.  Perfect! Everything was canned...

I love spending a Saturday morning in the kitchen- a wonderful beginning to the 2020 canning season.

To make three 500 ml or four 750 ml jars

5 lb (2.25 kg)      asparagus, cleaned and tops only cut to the length of the jar
3 cups (750 ml)   white wine vinegar (must be 5 per cent acidity or more)
2½ cups (625 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml)    lime juice (4–5 limes)  (substitute lemon juice)
3 tbsp (45 ml)      honey
6 cloves garlic,    peeled and slightly smashed (substitute spring garlic)
24                        whole peppercorns
1½ tsp (7 ml)       cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Make the pickled spears:
Prepare your canning pot and rack, and sterilize your jars and lids. Prepare a bowl of ice-cold water.

In a pot of boiling water, blanch the asparagus for 10 seconds; remove and place in the cold water.

Make a brine by placing the vinegar, water, lime juice, and honey in a pot and mixing them well. Bring to a simmer over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Remove the jars from the canner and turn the heat to high.

Place 2 cloves garlic, 8 peppercorns, and ½ tsp (2 ml) cayenne in each jar.

Pack the jars and process:

Pack the jars with asparagus as tightly as you can; they will shrink as they cook.

Fill each jar with brine, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Gently jostle the jars or use the handle of a spoon to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars, apply the lids, and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and allow them to cool.

Note: Eat after 6 weeks and within 2 years.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Fabulous Tomato Jam

This is a new one for my pantry and it's delicious.  The recipe is from Marissa Maclenan of Food in Jars fame.  This jam is a little sweet, a little spicy and tastes somewhat like ketchup and but so much better... My son used it as a base for a chicken wings baste and sauce- delicious...

Summer 2019 provided prodigious quantities of heirloom tomatoes in my garden.  This jam is perfect for using up those tomatoes.  Happy to be eating "my" tomatoes well into the winter as part of a cheese board, right beside the meats or as a topping for sandwiches, burgers  or sausages.

This recipe makes about five 250ml jars, depending on the thickness of the jam and the type of tomato you use.

5 lbs          tomatoes, finely chopped (the food processor works especially well)
3 1/2 cups sugar
8 tbsp        bottled lemon juice
2 tsp          freshly grated ginger
1 tsp          cinnamon
1/2 tsp       ground cloves
1 tbsp        salt
1/2 tbsp     red chili flakes (or more, to taste)
1               lemon, quartered and added to simmering jam

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, cook at a low boil until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.  Or, I bring the tomatoes to a boil, then lower to low and allow to slowly simmer for about ten hours.  Low and slow with a stir once in a while.

When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hainanese Chicken Rice - and a variation :-)

I enjoyed my first taste of Hainanese chicken in Vancouver about ten years ago.  I don't remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember the great taste of this chicken dish.  It was really nice to enjoy it at home.

This dish is easy to prepare.  You can easily multitask - while your chicken is cooking, it helps to prepare the ingredients for your dipping sauce and rice. Both of these are usually assembled after the chicken is done because they require the chicken broth, but you can get started washing and soaking the rice, chopping the garlic and ginger. In this recipe, all of the poaching broth is reserved -- some is used in the rice, a small amount is used in the chili sauce, and the remainder is saved to be heated and served as a simple soup to accompany the chicken.  This broth is delicious...

To serve six.

Korean Bulgogi Bolognese - a marriage of Korean and Italian.

I am always on the lookout for great cooking websites.  The New York Times cooking section is one of the top ones.  What I especially love are the comments from cooks who have tried and "tweaked" the recipes.  I also tend to ignore those who have lots to say about a recipe they never tried.

The Korean Bulgogi Bolognese intrigued me.  It is a mashup of my two favourite cuisine.  This is a great dish! Oh, and I forgot to buy egg noodles so I just had to make them from scratch bringing the dish to another level- delicious!
Served with homemade spinach and red pepper egg noodles.
To serve four.

Monday, February 17, 2020

General Tso's Chicken- a take out favourite made at home

I've had my share of General Tso chicken over the years- it's a staple on all the takeout menus.  This home version is easy and fairly quick to make and oh so much better than the takeout versions.  They are coated with corn starch for lighter batter and pan fried (then air fried) instead of deep fried.  Your family and friends will love it!
General Tso's Chicken served with stir fried sweet peppers and steamed broccoli.

To serve four.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Thai Vegetarian Curry

Sometimes you just want vegetables.  This is a healthy, delicious Thai curry.  Great comfort food and easy to make.  Serve over basmati rice or noodles.

 1              13 1/2-ounce can coconut milk (do not shake can)
½  cup      vegetable stock
4  tsp         soy sauce or tamari soy sauce
4  tsp         brown sugar
6  tbsp      Thai green curry paste
½  cup      diced (1/2 inch) onion
⅔  cup      diced (1/2 inch) red bell pepper
⅔  cup      diced (1/2 inch) zucchini or other summer squash
⅔  cup      diced (1/2 inch) peeled sweet potato
⅔  cup      sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1  cup       green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
⅔  cup     diced (1/2 inch) Asian eggplant
1  lime
8  large    basil leaves, cut into thin chiffonade


Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it. Spoon 6 tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the can into a medium saucepan. Pour remaining contents of can into a medium bowl, and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and palm or brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Place saucepan of coconut cream over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add curry paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until very fragrant, about 3 minutes; adjust heat as needed to prevent burning. Add onion, red pepper, zucchini, sweet potato, bamboo shoots, green beans, and eggplant. Stir until vegetables are hot, 2-3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the soy sauce mixture and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste; you may use the juice of an entire lime. Stir and mix well. Add up to 1/4 cup water if the curry seems too thick.

To serve, place the curry in a warm serving bowl and garnish with the basil chiffonade. If desired, serve over jasmine rice.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Beer braised bratwurst and sauerkraut

Bratwurst, a german sausage perfect for a backyard BBQ, served with a delicious topping of sauerkraut.  I simmered by sausage and sauerkraut in hard apple cider.  Oh, and my sauerkraut was homemade, after three weeks of fermentation, it still had some crunch.  In the winter, I serve my bratwurst on a bed of sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes.  A great opportunity to use homemade beer mustard.

And, in the summer, grill these beautiful sausages.

To serve four

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Hungarian Beef Goulash

This classic east European dish features melt in your mouth beef,  slowly simmered in a rich broth.  I added potatoes for more body and served it on a bed of egg noodles.  Wonderful!

To serve four...

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.13 kg stewing beef lean, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper or to taste
  • 2 large onions roughly chopped
  • 2 medium  potatoes, cubed
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds ground
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 122.5 ml tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp parsley chopped, for garnish


Heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over high heat then add the olive oil.
When the oil is hot add the stewing beef. Season with salt and pepper and sear the beef until it starts to brown. The beef will release liquid so continue searing on high heat, and the liquid will evaporate.
Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions soften and become translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-high.
Add the paprika, caraway seeds, oregano, bay leaves and brown sugar to the skillet. Stir everything together and cook for 30 seconds. 
Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, beef broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low for about 2 hours or until the beef is fork tender, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce down a lot as the beef cooks, so feel free to add more water as needed.
Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over noodles.

Irish Beef and Guinness Pie

Who doesn't love a home-made pot pie.  A quintessential winter comfort food.  Add a little Irish stout and you have a PIE!  The meat is marinaded in beer, then slowly simmered on the stove top for a couple of hours along with mushrooms, carrots and potatoes.  If you could only smell the aromas in my kitchen.  This recipe will make one large pie for four or four individual pies.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Devil's curry

This recipe is based on the recipe from Leite's Culinaria website.  Devil’s curry is a classic Malaysian curry, made with a complex curry paste - lemongrass, dried chiles (that how you will control the heat) fresh ginger, turmeric.  It is loaded with satisfying chicken and potatoes. Don't let the name scare you- this is delicious.

To  turn down this devil's heat use mild, dried guajillo and ancho peppers and pass around a homemade hot sauce for others to "heat it up" to their taste.  It is delicious and hearty!

To serve four.

Country Captain Chicken

I ran into this dish listening to an interview of two guys running a restaurant in South Carolina.  It turns out that it dates back to the 1700's when ships arriving from the Far East, India, came to the Southern US ports to trade.  The captains brought the recipe with them.  So, I present to you an American version of curry.

To serve four

Indian Pork Vindaloo

A staple on most Indian restaurant menus, pork vindaloo was originally Portuguese “pork marinated in vinegar and garlic.”  For me, it’s a tasty, spicy, vinegar based curry, unlike typical Indian curries. The beauty of making it yourself is that you control the heat!

I have made this with chicken as well.

To serve four.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Malaysian Chicken Laksa - an Asian favourite

This is one of my all time favourite Asian soups.  Meat and noodles in a curry broth garnished with boiled egg, bean sprouts, coriander and chilis... love in a bowl.

I based my recipe on Donna Hay's Laksa recipe.

To serve four.

2 tbsp        grapeseed oil
400ml       coconut milk
1 l              chicken stock
500 ml      water
1 tbsp        fish sauce
2               kaffir kime leaves
1 lb           potatoes, cut into chunks or whole small potatoes
720 gr       chicken thighs
200 gr       flat rice noodles, cooked

coriander leaves, thai basil leaves, green onion, bean sprouts and sliced red chilli
salt boiled egg


3               cloves garlic
3cm         piece fresh ginger, peeled
2               French shallots, peeled
3               long red chilies
1  stalk      lemongrass, white part only
4               coriander roots
3cm          piece turmeric root
1 tbsp       fish sauce
65 gr         grated palm sugar
1tsp           ground coriander
1 tsp          ground cumin


To make the laksa paste, chop the garlic, ginger, eschalots, chillies, lemongrass and coriander roots. Finely grate the turmeric.Place in a small food processor. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, ground coriander and cumin and process until the mixture forms a paste.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the laksa paste and cook, stirring, for six to eight minutes or until fragrant.

Add the coconut milk, stock and water and bring to the boil. Add the fish sauce, lime leaves, small potatoes and chicken and cook for 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Carefully remove the chicken and shred using 2 forks. Divide the noodles between bowls and top with the laksa and shredded chicken. Top with the coriander, basil, onion and chilli to serve. Serves four to six.

You can always add cauliflower florets, small chunks of carrot, sweet potato.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Jamaican Goat Curry- A National Dish

I have been craving goat for many years and finally got around to making this delicious curry.  Goat may raise a few Canadian eyebrows, but once you try it, well, it's delicious.  Just remember, low and very slow, is the way to go!

This recipe serves four to six.

Moroccan Spicy Chicken Tagine with apricots, rosemary and ginger

I love Moroccan cuisine- fresh ingredients, warm spices and I get to use that beautiful conical cooking vessel- a tagine.  Wonderful!  This dish is great served with couscous or rice.

Cooking the tagine before putting on the lid.

This recipe serves four.

Fabulous Turkey in Mole Sauce

This amazing, excellent dish was the centrepiece of a recent Mexican menu created for friends.  Mole is not a difficult recipe but it is time consuming to make.  Create over a few days or dedicate one whole day to complete this worthwhile culinary project.  Thank you for providing the recipe.

Let me save you a few steps:  I found a superb Mexican market in Ottawa- Bienvenidos Latin Market on St. Laurent Blvd.  They stock all the specialty ingredients you will need for your mole dish AND they will happily answer your food questions.

Going Bananas- Banana Upside Down Cake with Walnuts and Coconut

An easy, quick cake sure to become your family's favourite.  I always have frozen, ripe bananas ready for baking.  This weekend, I happily baked two banana breads and this very delicious upside-down cake- move over pineapple, banana is now king!

Unless I am baking for an upcoming dinner, I like to cut up my cakes and freeze in small portions.  If I thaw a whole cake, I  know that I will eat much more cake than is good for me.  But, a little piece is just fine and makes me feel virtuous and reasonable. HA!

This is another great recipe from Bake from Scratch, a great source of well-written and enticing recipes.  Highly recommended.

Cutting up my cake in small (maybe not so small) pieces for the freezer,
ready to snack on.
To make one nine-inch square cake

Caramelized Banana Bread

There are always frozen very ripe bananas in my freezer- ready for a quick banana bread.  The caramelized bananas topping this bread are well worth the additional step, adding another level of goodness. "Bake from Scratch" is my new favourite baking bible and this recipe is a great example of easy to follow instructions and delicious results.  Visit their website for online ideas.

Caramelized Banana Bread from Bake from Scratch

Makes one loaf