Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Italian Wedding Soup- a happy marriage of great ingredients

This soup is a happy marriage of great ingredients: meatballs, noodles, green and eggs.  You get to choose which of these ingredients to invite!

If I am freezing my soup, I use noodles; if I am serving right away, I use eggs- poured in to form beautiful ribbons in the soup...

Well worth the effort, it is a crowd pleaser.

This recipe will serve four to six.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hot pepper slices- fermented and deliciously hot!

More deliciousness from Batch.  I set aside a selection of hot peppers from making the hot sauce to make a jar of sliced peppers.  They will be great to add to chilli, top nachos, or add to burgers.

This recipe will fill a 500 ml jar.

A Hot Sauce with a Few Twists- it's wood fermented

Thanks to the folks at Batch for the idea of tucking in a few wood chips to add another layer of flavour to this fermented hot sauce.  An easy sauce to make, it delivers quite a flavour punch!

Summer is the best time to find a great assortment of colourful, hot peppers.  You can arrange the peppers in your crock or a large jar and set aside in a corner of the kitchen while you work on other preserving projects.  Just remember to check on the "brew" every few days.

This recipe makes 2 litres of pure hot sauce or 4 litres diluted with vinegar.

A trio of pestos... stock up the freezer... these are delicious

Frozen pesto is a boon in the winter kitchen.  Great with pasta, in soups, in sauces, it doesn't get much better than this.  So, when I found myself with too many peppers, a lot of basil and extra sun dried tomatoes (that's a problem everyone should have!), it was time to make pesto.  A traditionalist would use a mortar to make the basil pesto, but I much prefer the food processor.  I freeze it in ice cube trays, ready for use anytime...

(clockwise from the top: traditional basil, pesto rosso- dried tomato, red pepper pesto)

Pesto no. 1 is the traditional basil pesto made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic (fresh and local), olive oil.  I add the parmesan cheese after thawing.

Pesto no. 2 is pesto rosso- dried tomatoes in olive oil, olives. fresh garlic, rosemary, toasted almonds. olive oil- delicious.

Pesto no. 3 is red pepper pesto- fresh garden ripe sweet red peppers, toasted almonds, a little onion, garlic, olive oil.  Parmesan cheeses added when thawed.  Fresh tasting and delicious.

Each recipe made about 12 cubes with a little left over for immediate tasting.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Calabrese Explosion- it's hot, it's spicy and it's truly amazing!

Preserving the Italian Way is an interesting book- full of great ideas for preserving some of my favourite ingredients: eggplant, tomatoes, squash, hot peppers...  For years, I have been meaning to try out this recipe and finally I have.  Well, I started with their recipe but have made it my own and can't wait to try it!  on bruschetta, on cheese, added to a sauce for heat...

This is a multi-step recipe, spread over a few days.
My jars of spicy deliciousness!

This recipe made six 500ml jars.

Fig Paste- Looking forward to trying it with cheese

This is a grown up fig recipe.  Instead of just sugar and figs, there is wine and a little thyme.  It takes it our of the realm of toast and dessert and melds it happily with wine and cheese.  So much more refined.

Fig season is short in Ottawa and prices are usually high.  So when I could buy 12 figs for under $10.00, I just needed to do something special with them.  This is it!  I based my recipe on one I found in the Washington Post.

This recipe should make approximately four 125-ml jars.

Tomato Meets Raisin - make Delicious Tomato Chutney

My usual tomato season is all about bottling passata for the winter.  But I can't resist making old favourite tomato treats and trying new ones.  I based this chutney on one shared by Liz the Chef mostly because I could use my freshly dehydrated and amazing tasting grapes/raisins.  I don't think I will ever buy those dry, shrivelled and tasteless raisins offered up at the grocery store ever again.

It is worthwhile taking your time with this chutney.  Just let it slowly simmer away at the back of the stove.  Give it a stir once in a while and it will do just fine.  Be sure to let your jars sit for about four weeks before opening- let those flavours mellow out.

Serve it with meats, a cheese board, with curries.

This recipe makes about 8 250 ml jars.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tart and Spicy Asian Plum Sauce

Plum sauce - a pantry must have.  This one is definitely not as cloyingly sweet as the stuff you buy.  It is spicy and just a little tart.  Use it as a dip for egg rolls, as a baste on duck or chicken, with cheese and crackers...

Makes approximately 7 250-ml jars

Jo is creating... Fresh Corn Chowder

It's corn season in Ottawa and the ears are everywhere!  One of my favourite ways to enjoy all that corn is in a corn chowder.  I don't really have a set recipe, but this is an easy one!  A bit of this, a bit of that- add what you like and what you have in the refrigerator...

To make approximately two litres...

Mixed Berry Pie Filling

Canning pie filling is new for me.  I like the idea that my pantry will stock beautiful pie filling, ready for pies, of course, but also for turnovers, layer cakes, all kinds of other great uses.  I varied the mix of berries.  As long as the total weight of the berries remains the same, feel free to play with the amount of raspberries, blueberries, etc you want to use.  These look great in their jars.

ClearJel is the product to use for thickening the filling for this canning recipe.  The only other thickener you can use is cornstarch.  Do not use anything else to ensure safe canning.

This recipe makes 3 one-litre jars.

Indian Spice Mango Chutney

My inspiration for this chutney came from Saving the Season- my newest go to book for inspiration.  The recipe calls for tamarind paste, which adds a sour component to the recipe and is delicious.  However, I had problems sourcing it, so had to settle for tamarind sauce.  It worked just fine, but I made sure to taste, taste, taste and adjust the spices.

Mango chutney is a must for your pantry.  Serve it with your favourite Indian curry, include it on a cheese tray, add it to mayonnaise for a flavourful dip...  I love the flavour of tamarind in this chutney.

Siempre Sunset Hot Pepper Jelly

Siempre? It's a new, award winning, Canadian tequila, bottled in Mexico and fabulous.  Smarter folks will sip it happily, it is that good.  But, I rarely drink so I use it for this jelly and for many Mexican pickles.  Did I mention, the owners are family?  So proud of them.

In addition to the Siempre tequila, this jelly features sweet and habanero peppers.  It is perfect on cheese and crackers.  Your family and friends will love it.

This recipe make four 250ml jars.

Siempre Tequila Taqueria Carrots- Ole!

While everyone is busy mixing and drinking their favourite tequila cocktails, I am always looking for ways to add my favourite tequila, Siempre, to my dishes and preserves.  What better way than to combine it with beautiful baby carrots, perfect for eating with your favourite tacos.

I adapted a recipe from Saving the Season- a superb book.

This recipe makes one one-litre jar.

Perfect with tacos!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's Spring! Peas, Parmesan and Prosciutto Soup

This soup has been on my menu for years!  I make mine without the prosciutto and it is delicious.  Go ahead and add it for another layer of great flavour.

This recipe will serve six.

8 tbsp         butter or olive oil
1/3 cup       shallots ( or onions) finely diced
1 head        bibb or boston lettuce, washed and coarsely chopped
2 16-oz packages   frozen green peas, defrosted
2 tsp           sugar
2 tsp           salt
4 cups        chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup         Parmesan cheese, grated (please use real Parmesan, not the stuff in the green container)
1 cup         light cream
4 oz           prosciutto

In a stockpot, heat the butter or oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until softened and translucent.  Add the salt, sugar, lettuce and peas (reserve 1/2 cup peas for garnish) to the pot, cover and cook gently for approximately ten minutes.

Transfer the peas to a food processor or blender and puree in batches.  Return the mixture to the pan.  Stir in the broth, cream, Parmesan cheese and prosciutto and heat gently for an additional ten minutes.


Sauteed Eggplant and Onions- taste those great Indian Spices!

One of my favourite activities in India was shopping for spices in the markets.  A little challenging for a non-hindi speaker; a great way to explore for a geographically challenged explorer (me!).  I was most successful when accompanied by newfound (and great) Indian friends.  Thank you Mehesh and Nina!

I've added mango to this sautee..

Buying local spices was a wonderful experience.  Some of the spice merchants offered their own blends of spices- masalas- which they made up right in from of you.  " A little bit of this, a little bit of that", ummm smelling good.

This recipe, from Vij's in Vancouver, will incorporate some of my spices and will serve six.

4               black cardamom pods
1/2 cup     grapeseed oil
8               cloves
1/2 tsp      asafoetida
1 tsp         turmeric
2 lbs         eggplant, cut into 1/2" dice
1 1/2 stp   cayenne
2 tsp         salt
1 med.     onion (white or red) sliced lengthwise
2 1/2 tsp  mango powder or 2 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 cup    fresh cilantro, chopped

Lightly crack the black cardamom pods to extract the seeds.  Crush them with a rolling pin.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot on medium-high heat for 45 seconds.  Add the cloves and cardamom seeds and saute for about one minute, until fragrant.  Add the asafoetida, turmeric and stir.  Stir in the eggplant, cayenne and salt and cook for about ten minutes.  Add the onions, stir well and cook until the eggplant is ready.  Stir in the mango powder (or tamarind paste) and cilantro, remove from heat and serve immediately with rice and naan.


Spicy Cauliflower Steak - Even meat lovers will love it!

This is the Indian version of cauliflower steak- thanks to Vij's in Vancouver...  You can even serve it with a poached egg on top- not so Indian but sooo good!

This recipe serves six to eight.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Oven Fried Chicken- All the Goodness Without All the Oil

I love   I based my recipe on one I found on the site.  Fried chicken is a perennial favourite but who needs fried these days?  This oven "fried" version is for Aaliyah, my granddaughter and my sous-chef.

The best part of the chicken to use for this recipe is the drumstick.  Chicken breasts just get too dry and drumsticks have way more flavour.  The buttermilk marinade will guarantee even more tenderness.

This recipe serves 9 2-piece portions.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Taste of India- Murgh Malai Khorma (Chicken Cream Curry)

I am just back from India and in love with all Indian foods- an explosion of flavours!  This dish is easy to prepare.  Better still, I can use many of the spices I brought back to Canada!  You can buy them at any well stocked supermarket or Indian food store...

Indian dinner- Murgh Malai Khorma, Vegetable Jalfrezzi,
rice and naan.

Serves four to six.

Sauerkraut- eat it right out of the bowl or top your favourite dish... Pure gold!

Sandor Katz is the king of kraut... that's sauerkraut.  It's magical- fresh cabbage and a little salt and voila!  sauerkraut- full of live, health bacteria and great flavour.  This recipe is pure Sandor.

Gisele and I spent one Sunday morning chopping and tamping and stuffing into 1 litre canning jars to let them ferment until they are jars of goodness.  Now you could process and can like other "pickles" but don't be tempted- that would kill all the live bacteria.  After one week, you should be able to begin enjoying and the flavour will change as it ages.

To make approximately 6 litres.

Kimchi - Love it or Hate it- it's good for you! and it's awesome!

Koreans love their kimchi.  I had the pleasure of sampling homemade kimchi- delicious- but just couldn't find a store bought one I really liked.  So, here is a version that does the trick.  Kimchi is easy to make, the most challenging part was finding Korean chili powder in Ottawa.  Found it!

Every Korean family has its own recipe so feel free to adjust your batch to suit your preferences.  Make it as hot and spicy as you like, add whatever vegetables entice you, enjoy!

This recipe makes approximately 4-5 litres of kimchi.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

When it's Snowing Outside- Eat Creamy Tomato Soup

Last summer, I bottled litres and litres of tomatoes- perfect for making this winter comfort soup.  Your kitchen will erupt with the summer smells of fresh, fruity tomatoes...

Creamy tomato soup garnished with fresh tomatoes

This recipe will serve six.

Salad in a Jar- Kale

One of my favourite salad features kale as the main ingredients and is loaded with great, healthy vegetables and other stuff.  I've taken the ingredients and made them into a salad in a jar.

Begin with my original Kale Recipe.  Instead of mixing all the ingredients in one large serving bowl,  place all the ingredients in individual bowls to make filling the Mason jars easy.  You will need about six 500ml wide mouth Mason jars.

Place your ingredients in individual bowls.
Kale Salad- in a Jar

Fill the jars in layers beginning with the tomatoes.  Try to layer the different colours of vegetables, ending with the kale.  I usually add the dressing to the bottom of the jar, but with kale salad, I add it to over the kale layer to help soften the kale.  Top each jar with the toasted nuts.

Feel free to vary your vegetables depending on the season, what's at the greengrocer's, what's in your refrigerator.

It will keep in the refrigerator for about one week.


Salad in a Jar- Pomelo and Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing

Salad in a Jar- Pomelo 

Ever wonder what to do with a pomelo?  

It looks like a grapefruit but has extra thick pith and is a little sweeter than a regular grapefruit.  Well, this salad is delicious and provides a nice healthy break in the middle of winter.  

There are all kinds of variations but this is my favourite- for now.

Makes four salads in a jar (500 ml Mason jars)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Jungle Maans- from the House of Diggi in Jaipur India

What better introduction to Indian cuisine than a celebratory dinner at the House of Diggi in Jaipur India!  House of Diggi is a Palace Hotel and that's where our group dined al fresco, enjoying great traditional India entertainment and a delicious buffet dinner.  Magic!

One of the dishes they are known for is the Jungle Maans.  I was honoured to be given the recipe (among many others) so I could make it at home and share it with friends.

I was able to find a masala mixture at a local market with the whole spices, ready to grind and use in this recipe.  Lucky me1

Welcome to the House of Diggi.

To serve four.

Baingan (Eggplant) in a Yogurt Sauce- for A Maharaja's Table

Another amazing state we visited in India in February was Orissa.  This state is located in Eastern India and is the home of traditional arts, crafts and textiles that predate many of the great empires of India.  We visited weavers and dyers in their workshops and homes- amazing!

For three nights, we stayed at the Palace Dhenkanal, home to the Raja of Dhenkanal and his family for generations.  It was a fabulous experience!  I was honoured with an informal cooking class with the palace chef.  This is what we made- so simple and so delicious.  Cooked outside over a small fire...
An amazing cooking class- outside, over a small fire.

We cooked in my favourite style- a little bit of this and a pinch of that... so the quantities are approximate.  Taste and adjust  the seasoning before serving.

Baingan in yogurt sauce

To serve four.

A Gujarati Specialty (and a great dessert)- Fada Lapsi

Where is Gujarati, you might ask?  Well, it is India's westernmost state, famous for its textiles.  I had the absolute pleasure of visiting a few villages near Bhuj, on the edge of the Kutch desert, all providing opportunities to explore the world of textiles- families of weavers, block printers and dyers- fabulous fabrics to see, feel and purchase.

You don't need a fancy kitchen to make this dish!  Cooking outdoors, over a small fire... 
We were invited for lunch at one of the villages.  I had the pleasure of spending time with the ladies as they prepared our food.  One of the dishes on the menu was daliya lapsi, a famous Gujarati dessert usually prepared for festivals and other special occasions.  This recipe combines "broken wheat" (that would be cracked wheat in Canada) with fragrant cardamom and a few other ingredients.  We certainly enjoyed it!  Here is my version of this dish.

Green Tea Lemon Power Bars- you'll get hooked on these!

When I fly, I love to take along healthy snacks- something that is hard to find on the airline snack cart.  These bars fit the bill.  I made a batch for my friend Susan who was off to South Africa a few years ago.  Next week, we're taking off for India - fourteen hours on the plane - and, of course, I am making a batch of bars.  They taste great, they are healthy, and they travel well.

These would be great to bring to the office, tuck into your children's lunch boxes, take along on a hike.

The list of ingredients is long, but the preparation is simple.  Feel free to substitute your favourite nuts, seeds, dried fruit... it's completely flexible.

Makes a lot of bars.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Maida Heatter's Eight Hour Cheesecake- my way

I love making cheesecakes and I especially love making Maida's cakes.  Her recipes are exacting and they always taste amazing.  But the thing is, I prefer making individual cakes- I can freeze small portions and individualize the servings.  It's a perfect gluten-free recipe if you omit the graham cracker crust...  The small cakes were made in 250ml wide mouth canning jars.

This recipe makes 15 cakes in jars.