"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."
-Julia Child

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New obsession Chaise lounge

I know this has nothing to do with food but these past days this has been what I’m obsessing over –

I would like to get one for my living/dining room but finding the perfect one that I can afford seems almost impossible so I search and drive hubby nuts- heck even little Missy is tired of my ramblings over the chaise
I pulled an old love seat apart trying to come up with something that would resemble the vision I have in my head ( that didn’t work ) and here I am looking at that empty space …whereas instead could be telling the kids to please not touch it/sit on it come near it LOL
My adventures in the kitchen continue I just haven't had the time to post them I will shortly -as soon as I'm over this phase I guess :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pan seared steak with caramelized onion

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes the craving for barbeque and fresh cool salads
We can’t use our barbeque ( our deck is not up yet) so a good substitute for some bbq steak is to sear it on a heavy skillet Not the same thing but still pretty good !!
On the side a simple salad with a tropical twist

Pan seared steak with caramelized onion

Season the steaks with salt , pepper and peppercorns

In large skillet, heat oil over high heat; fry steaks, turning once, until browned and medium-rare inside
Transfer to plate; tent with foil and keep warm

In the same pan add the onion; sauté until just tender, Add minced garlic, thyme, salt , pepper and reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden, stirring often, add 1/4 cup wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates,
Season to taste and serve over steak


4 grilling steaks
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup ) red wine
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cracked black peppercorns
2 medium onions sliced

Pineapple salad

Crisp lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
2 slices fresh pineapple cubed
¼ onion
1/3 cup tablespoons orange juice
1/3 cup Grape seed oil
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
Salt/pepper to taste

Toss vegetables together in a bowl whisk ingredients for dressing drizzle over and serve

Hummingbird cake

When I came across this recipe I was intrigued hummingbirds are so lovely , I just had taste it
So this weekend I gave it a try the recipe seemed pretty straightforward and simple I was confident I couldn’t mess it up

And it was fairly easy to prepare but as for the results …I was a little disappointed guess because of it’s name and the ingredients I was expecting something else more exciting… different …
I felt like the banana overpowered the pineapple ( I love bananas but not crazy for banana cakes) perhaps had I made the cream cheese frosting it be better? Not sure, it didn’t stop me from eating it though as I kept tasting to see if I liked it better with each new bite … I will try it again with the cream cheese frosting I’m curious if it will make a diference and bring out the other flavors in the cake
It is very moist as I had expected it to be, and in my opinion it actually tastes better the next day

Hummingbird cake adapated from Joy of baking

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

I love potatoes

Growing up they were a staple at our home ( I am Portuguese after all, and from the north tras os montes)
There are so many ways to enjoy them so many different dishes you can make with them so many variations and yet we used to have them either boiled or roasted on rare occasions perhaps fried or in some Cod dish

As I grew up and my kitchen experiments began, I started playing around with potatoes preparing them in different ways some better than others...

This is my version of scalloped potatoes very simple to prepare and healthy

Extra virgin olive oil

4 Potatoes peeled and sliced

1 Onion sliced thin

1 Garlic minced

1/2 cup Bechamel Sauce

Salt/pepper , nutmeg

Sprinkle of parsley

Preheat Oven 375-400

In an oven proof dish drizzle bottom with olive oil

Layer potatoes sprinkle salt and pepper, cover with sliced onions and the garlic-salt and pepper and nutmeg freshly grated pour over the sauce sprinkle with a little cheese I used parmegeano but the cheese is not really necessary-Put in hot oven and bake until potatoes are soft , golden and bubbly 20-30 min

Enjoy with a serving of mixed greens and a side of protein but it’s just perfect on it’s own !

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Childhood Memories

Whenever I think of Orange Cake or Yogurt Cake ( one of my favorite cakes growing up) it always brings me back to my childhood These were the few cakes my mom would bake My mom was not much ( still isn't ) much of a baker -guess I know who I took after ...

This past weekend I was craving Orange cake ( guess I'm going through a fruit based cake period, first apples now oranges ) anyway after I pulled it out of the oven and the aroma of sweet oranges filled my kitchen I could close my eyes and feel like that child again anxiously waiting to eat it -and that's what I did soon after

It's a great cake for afternoon tea or whatever- time- of- day tea-, simple ingredients and easy to make

Orange cake
Here's the recipe :
150 gr butter
150 gr sugar
1 orange
3 eggs
150 gr flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

Orange syrup
Orange juice from 1 orange, sugar, water and grated orange peel

Have all ingredients at room temperature
Prehaet Oven to 350, grease cake pan with butter and flour

Beat sugar with butter untill creamy
Add the juice of the orange and grated orange peel, add one egg at a time mixing well
whisk flour with baking powder and salt
Add flour to egg mixture mix gently Put batter in pan and bake for about 20 to 30 min
Check with toothpick to see if done

Take cake out of oven remove from pan and pour orange syrup over it

Let it cool and serve

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Apple Cake Obsession

These past weeks I've been obsessing over apple cake( that explains why no posts ) so strange as it's not even apple season and I've never been crazy for apple desserts
Can't explain it or fight it !!

I've made more apple cakes in Februaury than I ever have in my entire life !!
I've tried several recipes my favorite so far has been Barefoot Contessa's Apple cake taken from here http://foodlibrarian.blogspot.com/2008/12/barefoot-contessas-apple-cake-tatin.html
I also enjoyed this one taken from Smitten kitchen " Mom's apple cake" a simple to make cake and perfect for tea http://http//smittenkitchen.com/2008/09/moms-apple-cake/

  • Wonder what obsession will be next !!!

Easy Risotto with mushroom and parmeson cheese

Here's an adaptation of the risotto recipe I made for the daring cooks challenge

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cups white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds button mushrooms, you can use any kind you like (for example, chanterelles, morels, portobellos, cremini)
3 to 4 cups of hot chicken stock ( I used homemade)or water
2-3 tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan and some for garnish
Parsley to garnish

1. Heat the olive oil in a in a deep thick-bottomed pan sauté pan. Add onion and sauté for 4 minutes, until soft and clear. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat. Sauté until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the wine. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the mushrooms that were sliced. Bring to a boil and add the hot chicken stock, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Add more stock and cook,do not cover stirring constantly for about 15 more minutes,add the Parmesan cheese keep stirring until risotto is cooked and creamy.Season to taste

3. Garnish with parlsey and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with a side of your choice or on it's own

March Daring Cooks Challenge-Risotto

This month‘s Daring cooks challenge is Risotto http://thedaringkitchen.com/-
I have never attempted to make it , rice is not something I'm good at LOL I ‘m still trying to find what I’m good at anyway
For whatever reason I either overcook it or undercook it ...and risotto is something I have always heard is hard to make so this is a dish I would have never tried this is why I'm so glad I joined this group it forces me out of my comfort zone
I Risotto I hear is a bit more complicated to make so why try? It would just be another frustrated experiment

As part of the challenge we must make the chicken stock-I enjoy making my own stocks anyway I usually make big batches and freeze for future use , we have to make the risotto base provided but we can chose to flavor it as we wish

I planned to make a saffron risotto with wild mushrooms but I had no saffron at home and for whatever reason the 2 supermarkets I went to in the morning didn’t have any either so I used just button mushrooms, some good parmeson cheese, and followed the risotto base given with the challenge

To my surprise it turned out quite well really tasty it was creamy and had a slight bite in the middle of the grains of the rice I was so happy plus the kids and hubby loved it!! well worth the trouble making it

Unfortunately my camera was not cooperating with me on Saturday so the picture doesn’t do it justice

Will I make risotto again ?
For sure I just don’t think it will be a dish I will make for a big crowd as I can see how it can get guppy easily

Can’t wait for next month’s challenge !!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My "Chef's" Knife

My New knife
Have I mentioned how much I love my knife ? I really really do
It’s not an expensive oneor a top of the line one

I bought it at one of the Real Canadian Superstores http://www.presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnline/ and given the price I’m surprised to see how good it is
Perfect for the non chef to use

I find it well balanced it has a good weight , it’s forged german steel blade made in Portugal It seems sturdy enough to stand the abuose I will put it through
I have a santuko by Kitchenaid and so far I’m very pleased with it I use it for all my slicing
My next one will be a Boning knife I may go again with the PC brand will see how this one fairs with use

But my problem now is how to store them ? I don’t have a knife block plus I don’t really want another thing on my kitchen counter so was thinking why not a magnetic holder? I think I read somewhere that the blades get easily scrached –not sure this is true or not but I think I’m going to buy one and try-I like the idea of having them on the wall easily accessible instead of taking up space on the counter or drawers, speaking of drawers my kitchen drawers are in a state of … calamity –mess- disorganized ..

I really need to do something about them –I have Monkey as an excuse for part of the mess but not for the top drawers he can’t reach there yet –and it’s a disaster there too On my next trip to ikea I have to see what drawer solutions they have. One thing is for sure something has to change everytime I open any of those drawers it just annoys me arghh and my pantry that’s getting out of hand too just thinking about it is making me stressed out I should go and empty it and place everything back in order instead of sitting here talking/typing about ..what was this post about? Oh yes my knife –did I mention how much I love it so shiny and sharp I just love chopping with it Ahh... I feel much beter now

Daring Cooks Challenge

Mezze was the challenge this month for the Daring Cooks this month it ‘s was also my first The challenge couldn’t have been a better one for me . My husband always has always asked me to try middle eastern cooking ( He was raised in Damascus) but I have never felt I could do it especially knowing how his aunts cook , how can I ever compare to them they cook so well ?

This is why I like challenges they put me on the spot, I’m forced to try something new, take a risk

I am a big fan of Middle Eastern cuisine even though I was only introduced to it after meeting my husband and the first Mezze we had I still remember so well. It was at a local Lebanese restaurant I enjoyed so much the different flavors , the colors the way the food is presented I just loved it

For this challenge I decided to keep it simple since I’m back to work , time is something I really don’t have much now , so I made pita bread, hummus, fatayer, falafel, walnut and red pepper dip that I absolutely love

I would have never attempted to make pita bread had it not been for this challenge It was so much fun seeing the pitas puff up in the oven like balloons wish my daughter had been home to see them and as usual I forgot to take a picture

Unfortunately I didn’t spend much time with the presentation Michael was hanging on my legs when I was about to take the pics but I thought the food tasted pretty good and hubby was happy too

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Monkey!

Today Little Monkey turns 1 -I can't believe a year has past already it seems just like yesterday
mommy daddy and big Sis love you so much!!
right now you're on my lap and as always touching the keyboard not letting me type, but I just want u to know how special you are there is so much I would like to write but you just won't stop messing up the keyboard LOL
love you Money!! happy first!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tina's Spaghetti

Yesterday I made what I call Tina's spaghetti
It's a simple rustic spaghetti dish with cabbage -perfect for this time of year
Tina is an Italian girl I used to work with , and as a typical Italian woman she would always bring a big lunch to share
I enjoyed almost everything she brought her pasta with eggplant ( julienned eggplant ) but my favorite has to be this very simple Spaghetti with cabbage and at home we all love it also so I make it often in the winter
Here's my version adapted from her recipe
I start by sauteing garlic in olive oil ( 2 cloves ) adding some pepper flakes for a kick - then I add the chopped cabbage ( about 2 cups ) I didn't chop mine too thin I kinda like it this way -splash of wine, one tablespoon of tomato paste -add half a cup of either vegetable stock or even water (as it cooks you may need to add some more ) simmer until cabbage is cooked.Taste for salt -season with black pepper
In a pot cook your spaghetti in well salted water ( save some of the water where you cooked the pasta ) add pasta to cabbage I usually add a couple tablespoons of the water from cooking the pasta. Mix it together and there you go Tina's Pasta !!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kitchen Island

When we moved to our new house (2 months ago) I told my husband that we would not be doing any projects anytime soon –Nothing !!
In our previous house we did at least one project a year, it felt like we were always under construction I used to joke that I should just buy some yellow tape wrap it around our house with a sign Danger –Under Construction- Permanently

During the holiday season while baking some cookies ( I love to make Christmas cookies it’s the only thing I can bake besides bread- I was raised with home baked bread…but that’s another story for another time )
Anyway while baking with my daughter I soon realized that my kitchen although generous in size is not very functional I have to do most of the prepping on my kitchen table as the counter space is not adequate
I soon realized we need a kitchen island !!
So I made a sketch to show my husband ( he’s pretty handy ) it’s a very simple project… until I showed it to him and from there he started talking about adding a "peninsula" instead , -move the dishwasher and in that space create a garbage/recycling station etc etc Even replacing the counter ( which is a standard builder one ) with granite …..
I’m already measuring, making sure there ‘s enough space for our large kitchen table when it hits me –Hey No Reno’s remember ?!!
He doesn't understand why –
I explain my reasons... plus an island will be way cheaper ( throwing some numbers at him )
He continues with his thoughts on changing the kitchen I argue there’s no reason for this –It’s a brand new kitchen … this is going nowhere - we drop the subject
My sketch is hanging on my bulletin board ...there will be no island anytime soon LOL