Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘onions’

Cockle Warmer

Well we all knew it would happen sooner or later, that the weather would turn on us! I hope not as bad for you as it has been for some!

Now that we have changed the clocks back to standard time here in North America,  it is time to turn to our comfort food.

The “Cockle Warmers” if you will.

Here’s a little impromptu dish I whipped up for a dreary night.

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I started with the base of my “Butter Chicken” recipe but went the lazy route.

Here is what you will need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 inch minced fresh ginger

Start by browning the chicken is a deep skillet.  When the chicken is no longer pink, toss in the onions, garlic and ginger and keep stirring around till everything is looking a bit “sweaty”.

Now I just happened to have some grape tomatoes that were about on their last days so I tossed them in.   But you could use any chopped or canned tomato if you like.

Keep cooking till the tomatoes get a bit wrinkly looking.

Then add your spices.  Curry type dishes can be very personal from heat to intensity.   I hate to admit but I really have no rhyme nor reason to my combos.  I have a big drawer full of old pickled artichoke jars that I fill with my herbs and spices.  I open the drawer and see what takes me.   On this occasion I added, more or less a “good sprinkle of”:

  • cumin
  • coriander
  • chili flakes
  • turmeric
  • commercial curry powder
  • smokie paprika
  • garam masala
  • salt & pepper

Sprinkle all of those over the chicken and then stir in thoroughly till you can smell them.

Then add about 1/2 cup or more of cream.

Stir that in well and then cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes till the flavours get good and acquainted.

You COULD stop here.

But I also happened to have some left over chick peas in the fridge that I tossed in and then some nice kale that I chopped up and added in at the last minute.

Put the lid back on for a few minutes until the chick peas heat and the kale wilts.

Then you are good to go!   Just add it to some rice or your favorite grain.

Or in my house, we even put this sort of thing on pasta!

I quickly whipped up a little cucumber salad to have something fresh along with it.

Finely slice either by hand or on a mandolin slicer some:

  • Cucumber
  • red bell pepper
  • red onion

Toss them in a little rice wine vinegar with a drizzle of something sweet, sugar, honey, agave etc and a little salt and pepper.    Let the vegetables sit in this for a little before serving.   But I like to leave as much of the liquid behind when serving.

And there you have a quick Wednesday night type dinner that was very easy and you can hide all sorts of good for you things in there!!

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Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

Pineapple Chicken

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you’ll know that I don’t usually eat in Asian style restaurants.

Not that I don’t LOVE that food, it’s just that with my shell-fish allergy it is just too high risk to make sure I don’t accidentally eat the wrong thing?

So I often have to rely on trying to recreate my favorite dishes so that I know exactly what is in them.

Pineapple chicken used to be one of my favorite dishes from the Chinese take-out.   I am embarrassed to admit that I used to love that heavily battered stuff in the super sticky unnaturally red sauce.  I even liked the frozen version that you could bake in the oven in the tin foil box!

My how times have changed.

I think you will find this version just a tad healthier.

You will need:

  • skinless, boneless chicken ( breast or thighs)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper cut into triangle chunks
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 can of pineapple chunks in own juice.  ( drain but keep juice for sauce)

Start by dicing the chicken into bite size bits and add to a hot  skillet with a few sloshes of a neutral oil.

Brown on all sides and then add onion, peppers and ginger, keep cooking.

After a few minutes, add the vinegar, soy sauce and chili flakes.   And if you like things sweeter, at this point you could add a tbsp of brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice.

Mix well, then add the pineapple chunks, stir in, turn down the heat and let simmer until everything is cooked through.

Once everything is well heated and chicken is cooked, it is time to make the sauce.

Add to the reserved pineapple juice, 2 tsp of cornstarch and mix it in until it is completely dissolved then add to the chicken and keep stirring until you see that the sauce is thickened up.

I served it with some “orange scented” basmati rice.  Which basically means I used orange juice as half of the cooking liquid and then added some fresh orange zest just before serving.

For greens, I cooked up some brocoli with a bit of bok choy and fresh ginger with a splash of soy sauce and sesame seeds.

There you go.  A healthier version of an old favorite and you know exactly what you put in it!

Pineapple Chicken

Nelson’s Beans – revisited

A while back I shared a recipe with you.

A recipe for something I called “Nelson’s Beans”.    ( click here )

I told a story about how when I was visiting my cousin in California, his son was visiting from Scotland and made “Nelson’s Beans”.

I always assumed that Nelson was a Scotland guy…….but I learned when we were there visiting over the holidays that  in fact he is actually a California guy.

This makes WAY more sense now.   I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Scottish cuisine, but “spicy stuff” isn’t really the first thing you think of.

I just wanted to clear that up.

We had a good batch of them for dinner last night, with a little salad, a little hummus and pita makes a great little Vegan dinner.

Nelson’s Beans

Vegan Vegan Vegan!

Okay, after yesterday’s Pot Roast, I just wanted to prove that I can be open-minded and versatile and am just as comfortable eating the “non-meat” meals as any respectable Vegan!

I don’t think I have ever had as many vegetables in one meal at one time as we had last night!

Please indulge me as I try to recall the list:

  1. Arugula
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beets ( red and golden)
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Carrot
  6. Chives
  7. Garlic
  8. Leeks
  9. Lettuce
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions ( red and white)
  12. Peppers ( red and yellow)
  13. Squash
  14. Tomato

Add to this, three kinds of lentils, two kinds of nuts, couscous and rice!

The meal started with a salad trio:

Salad one:

Roasted beet, thinly sliced red onion, walnuts on a bed of mixed lettuce

Salad two:

Arugula bundles, tied with chives, topped with pine nuts and a lemon & oil dressing

Salad three:

Shredded brussel sprouts with thinly sliced red and yellow peppers.

Salad Trio

The next course consisted of:

Mushrooms stuffed with couscous, carrot,  mushroom stem, carmelized onion and roasted garlic

Roasted asparagus topped with carmelized onions and sliced red and yellow peppers.

Roasted asparagus and stuffed mushrooms

The main course was:  stuffed cannelloni and spaghetti and “meat balls”

Stuffed cannelloni

cannelloni “shells” of  rounds of steamed leek stuffed with black, red and green lentils with carmelized onions and couscous.   Baked and then topped with organic tomato sauce.

Leek “cannelloni” shells

Three kinds of lentils

Lentil stuffed leek “cannelloni”

 Spaghetti and “meat balls”

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with “meat balls” made of black Thai “forbidden rice” , carmelized onion, roasted garlic and rice flour to bind.

cannelloni with spaghetti and meat balls

See, TOTALLY Vegan and not a DROP of tofu in sight!!!Veggies do not have to be boring!

Pot Roast – Vegans look away

Doesn’t it sound romantic?

They always seemed to be making “pot roast” on all those shows from the 60’s.  Laura Petry and Mrs. Cleaver always had one on the go.  In fact, didn’t even Alice on the Brady Bunch always seemed to be worried about hers being over done?

Whatever the case, to me, pot roast just sounds homey.

But to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had one.  It wasn’t something my own mother cooked.  And quite frankly, I’m not even really sure what it is, other than the obvious of course.

So I asked the Chef what pot roast was made of?  Normally I enjoy his long lessons in the proper use of cuts of meat, but not necessarily at breakfast on a Sunday morning.

Whatever cut of meat you choose, it must be a braising cut.

Most meat is to be cooked one of two ways.  Wet or dry.  So like a steak would be cooked on dry heat and a pot roast with wet heat.  Make sense?

So after may lecture, I decided to go with a hunk of brisket.  Brisket is also what they make “smoked meat” with back in my home land of Montreal, home of the infamous “Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich”, but that’s something for another time.

I started with my hunk of meat in the roast pan on TOP of the stove. 

Hunk of meat

I got it really hot and then seared the meat on all sides to lock in the goodness.

Once it was nicely browned on all sides, I tossed in a few “aromatic” vegetables like celery, carrots and onions.  You could also add a few herbs and spices, but if I were you I’d look up a recipe for exactly what kind of flavour you are going for. 

I put in some pepper corns, some hot chili flakes, some dry mustard and a bit of pumpkin spice!!  I know, that’s crazy, but I wanted that “warm” flavour to it.

Pot roast ready to be braised

Then I added some home made vegetable stock I had, to about half way up the pan.  Then covered it tightly with tin foil and put it in a 350 degree oven.

Give yourself at least 4 or so hours to cook this puppy properly!   That’s why it’s a nice Sunday afternoon project and it makes the house smell very friendly.

I’d say every hour or so, take him out, turn him over and add more liquid if necessary.  Keep doing this till he looks good and done and starts to pull apart when you poke at him.  In the last half hour or so, I added about a half of a tin of tomato paste to the liquid to give the “sauce” a nice sort of bar b q look to it, but you don’t really need to do this unless you want to.

Braised beef pot roast

I served him up with some beautiful butter milk mash potato and some of the vegetables fished out of the bottom of the pan!

Pot roast with butter milk mash potato

This was a very comforting Sunday in February dinner.

Nelson’s beans

Not really sure what the story is with these.  I don’t really know why these are called “Nelson’s beans” other than the fact that I think a guy named Nelson provided my cousin in Scotland with the recipe.  My cousin,  in turn came to visit his parents in California where I too happened to be visiting at the time.   He made Nelson’s beans, they were great, and I’ve been making them ever since!

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 onions sliced  (if you can slice them in full circles it would be great, but halves are fine)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 2 cans pinto beans (rinsed)
  • 2 small or one larger can of tomato paste
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of “Mrs Dash” – this is from the original recipe

But instead I used:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili flakes ( more if you like)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • salt & pepper

Start by heating a large skillet with oil, then add onions and cook till translucent.  When the onions have had a good head start, add in the garlic.    Then add the spices, either Mrs. Dash or your own combo, mix well.   Add the splash of vinegar and brown sugar, then the tomato paste with the same amount of water at the tomato paste can(s).  I just use the can and swish it out a bit.

Stir well and let this get nearly to the boil then add the beans.  You don’t want to add them too early so they don’t get too mashed up.  Stir them in and then let them simmer till heated through.

These can be eaten immediately with some nice crusty bread or as a side dish.   They taste even better the next day.

Or even better………cold, right out of the pan when you come home after an evening of “merry-making”!!

"Nelson's" beans

 
 
 
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