As a matter of fact….

…that is bacon in that pancake.

I have mentioned once or seventeen times that one of my children is not an enthusiastic eater. This wavers from amusing anecdote to gross understatement, depending on factors I have yet to be able to determine and/or anticipate. Some days are better than others. He and I will occasionally make lists of things that he will eat. We both know that these lists are largely based in fiction – he throws in a few extra items to make me feel better and I pretend to believe him to make me feel better.

However, there is no such debate about his beloved bacon. If I could find a way to incorporate bacon into every dish, my child would probably wear his pants a size or two bigger. Which brings us to the photo…

Every Sunday morning, I make pancakes and bacon. Every Sunday morning, I watch my son horde all of the bacon and then proceed to scrape his pancakes into the garbage bin after he has spent an enough time pushing them around his plate so as not to seem rude or ungrateful. So last Sunday, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I would marry the pancakes and the bacon. Surely was he was digging out the bacon, he was bound to get a little pancake into his system.

This pancake recipe is my weekend go-to. The batter has a consistency that allows all sorts of fantastic add-ins; chocolate chips, bananas, grated apples (included here), various berries and yes, bacon. It is also easily doubled.

Weekend Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large apple – peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted and then cooled

Bring on the Superbowl: Fried Chicken with Mushroom Gravy

There are certain people who are more fun to cook for than others. My friend of Dan is one of these people. He loves food and is very grateful to those who provide it for him. Dan happens to be a huge football fan so Superbowl is a big day for him. I made this chicken for him last year on his hallowed  Sunday…it is so good, I thought I should share it with you for this year. Go Pats (my husband will be so upset if I don’t throw in a plug for his beloved team)!

Mushroom Gravy – Bacon Optional (I suppose)

  • 4 strips of high-quality bacon, cut into match stick pieces
  • 1 c mixed mushrooms, cut into medium dice
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into finer dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 c  red wine
  • 3 c chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley (optional)

Spicy Fried Chicken

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried mustard
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • enough canola oil to come about 1.5 inches up the side of your flat-bottomed sauté pan

Sunday Dinner – Chicken Bouillabaisse

I was feeling sort of French on Sunday. I think it was due to the fact that we finally made it to Pied-A-Terre, a beautiful restaurant down the street, the night before. So lovely….a sophisticated room with a menu to match. Definitely left me wanting more.
So there I was, Sunday, leafing through my cookbooks when I came across a recipe for Chicken Bouillabaisse. Chicken? Really? I had always associated this dish with fish. However Ina Gartner (aka the Barefoot Contessa) had a different take on it. Now, totally confused, I decided to do some research. According to Wikipedia, bouillabaisse is derived from the Provencal Occitan (a dialect spoken in south of France/Spain) words “Bolhir” (to boil) and “Abaissar” (to simmer). So, it seems as though the term references the cooking method, as opposed to the ingredients. Mystery solved – although in hindsight, I don’t think I had ever bothered to translate bouillabaisse any further than “yummy fish soup”….tres french, non?
Chicken Bouillabaisse
Adapted from Ina Garnter
  • 3 lbs chicken (I used thighs but you can mix it up with whatever parts you like)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp saffron threads
  • 1/8 c. pernod (I didn’t have any so I used cognac – equally as lovely, or you can skip it entirely)
  • 1 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb yellow fleshed potatoes (I like Yukon Gold, but that’s just me)

CousCous with Dates, Almonds and Roasted Lemon Dressing

Do meals call to you? An occasion presents itself  and from somewhere in your stack of cookbooks or your grandmother’s recipes, you hear a meal…calling to you. Perhaps it is Eggs Benedict for a lazy Saturday brunch? BBQd ribs for the 4th of July? Spaghetti Carbonara on Wednesday? For me, it is quite frequently a chicken I hear calling for Sunday dinner. In the spring, you can poach it in milk, a la Jamie Oliver. In the summer, I like to butterfly the bird and grill with some lemon and rosemary. When the weather turns colder, it is a nice roast chicken with crispy skin straight from the oven that I hear.

In all honesty, this particular meal has called to me a lot over the years so I find myself looking for ways to mix it up a bit. A few Sundays ago, I tried a Moroccan roast chicken that I found on-line. It sounded so lovely…a paste of paprika and herbs rubbed under the skin with some  lemons quartered and tucked away in the roasting pan. I am not sure if it was the recipe or user error, but let’s just say that this dish won’t be calling to me for a while. However, all was not lost as I salvaged the roasted lemons and turned them into the most beautiful dressing for my couscous…a true lemonade out of lemons occasion.

CousCous with Dates, Almonds and Roasted Lemon Dressing
or what I fondly refer to as the “1/4 cup salad”

  • 1 1/2 cups of couscous
  • 3 cups of water
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of pitted dates, cut into smallish pieces
  • 1/4 cups of dried cranberries/blueberries/whatever you like
  • 1/4 cups of slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup of diced green onions
  • 3/4 cup of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • the juice from one roasted lemon (see above)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp white sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional but yummy)

Welcome Back (to me)

Hi! After a long hiatus I think I am back in the swing of things…just in time for Hallowe’en.

This started out as a frosted cake with ganache topping but I was overly enthusiastic with my pouring and found my cake entirely covered with chocolate. Terrible, no? The ghosts are simply icing piped in stacked circles (I did pop the cake in the fridge after each round of circles) and the eyes and mouths are chocolate chips.

If you are looking for a quick and fool-proof recipe for ganache – read on:

Continue reading

Sesame Noodles with Chicken (or not)

I have noticed, after many years of subscribing to (ahem) many cooking magazines that there seems to be recurrent themes that run throughout the year. You can count on the BBQ issues in your mailbox in late June or early July and the Thanksgiving dishes are on display in October (for which we Canadians are truly thankful). April delivers delicate dishes with things like pea tendrils and salmon fillets and November’s issues are guaranteed to include some very impressive holiday desserts. January has a theme too; it’s all about the new. New year, new trends, new ingredients, and so on. There is also a heavy dose of atonement for all of the over-indulging you did over the holidays, but that is sort of a separate post, isn’t it?

Sesame Noodles (with Chicken)

Normally, I don’t pay too much attention to their proclamations (Pie is the new cupcake…pass it on!) but there is one trend that I feel is worth paying attention to; flexitarianism. Wikipedia describes it very succinctly with this definition; “a term used to describe diets that are not vegetarian but include less meat than typical diets”. Many cooking magazines have been exercising this concept by showcasing dishes that are wonderful with/without meat. This is one of those dishes…just as great with or without the chicken. Be on the cutting edge, and try it out both ways.

Sesame Noodles (with Chicken)
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (optional)
  • 1 bell pepper (pick your favourite colour)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, green and white parts chopped and separated
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil

Sesame Sauce (can also be used for sate….omit the water)

  • 1/2 c smooth peanut butter (or you can try tahini, if you would like)
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cooking sherry (or you can use red wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 c brown sugar
  • 1 Tbps sesame oil
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 package of spaghetti
  • handful of toasted sesame seeds

Continue reading

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

One of my least favourite smells is that of over-ripe bananas. I suspect that I am not the only person that has a deep aversion to it, as someone, long ago, caught a whiff of their the fruit bowl and decided that instead of throwing out the offending fruit, they would beat it to a pulp and turn it into a delicious treat (and thanks be to them).

I found myself with a few stinkers last night and decided to use them up. When I went to my pantry to gather the ingredients to make my Aunt Dee’s famous recipe, I discovered that the holiday baking season had left it in a state that Old Mother Hubbard could relate to. No white sugar, no butter and barely enough all purpose flour (did I mention that Aunt Dee was not the most health conscious baker I’ve ever met). It was time to improvise. I substituted whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose and turned to brown sugar instead of white. Vegetable oil replaced the melted butter. I also fiddled a bit with the baking powder/soda ratios to see if I could get a lighter loaf. I also added cinnamon, just because I like it.

Overall, very pleasing results. The bread had the perfect consistency and texture. Moist and a bit crumby and the brown sugar on the top was the perfect finishing touch. I would also recommend popping a slice in the toaster for a few minutes for a breakfast treat.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 over ripe bananas, mashed up beyond recognition
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c brown sugar + some for sprinkling on top of loaf
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Continue reading

Maple Vanilla Granola

I am sort of a one-trick pony when it comes to breakfast…oatmeal with vanilla yogurt pretty much every morning. Lately, however, I have been looking for a healthy/tasty alternative to my usual fare. I remember loving Quaker’s Harvest Crunch as a kid so I set about trying to recreate it, albeit it with a bit less sugar, sodium and fat (jury’s still out on whether or not that aspect of the experiment was a success). My mom and I made a few batches from a Jamie Olive cookbook in the summer which were very good. After trying out a few more recipes, I have come to realize that it isn’t really the ingredients that are so different – oats, nuts, fruit- but the technique that seems to vary from cook to cook.

This is the method that I found gives me the results I like; lots of toasty flavour, not too sweet, and those little crunchy nuggets that make my yogurt so delicious!

Continue reading

Bear with Me…

I swear I haven’t given up on this blog, it’s just been a very hectic few months. New house, new job for both my husband and me, all the kids now in school, and so on and so on. I have been busy in my new kitchen (which has infinitely more counter space – yay!) and will soon be posting recipes for sesame noodles with chicken, beof bourguignon, maple vanilla granola, quick Thai chicken soup and more. Stay tuned!

Killer Kebabs – Sirloin with Mustard Soy Glaze

When I sit down to write a post, I usually figure out the recipe first, upload the photo and then turn my mind to writing the preamble. There is something funny about WordPress (or something funny about my limited skills with WordPress, I should say) that won’t allow you to insert text above a photo that is already loaded. I usually plug in some silly and random words before adding the photo so I don’t run into this problem. When I opened up this post to finish it off, I realize that my placeholder text read “yum, yum, yum, meat on a stick, yum, yum, yum”. Really, I don’t think I have much more to add.

Sirloin Kebabs with Mustard Soy Glaze
adapted from a recipe by Lucy Waverman

  • 2 lb sirloin steak
  • 20 or so button mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

Mustard Soy Glaze

  • 1/4 c dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Continue reading