February 18, 2017
Makes 4 servings
10 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the spinach: Bring a 4-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach in large handfuls until all the spinach is added, and cook for 15 seconds.
Drain and cool the spinach: Drain the pot of spinach in a colander in the sink and immediately run the spinach under cold water to halt the cooking. Shake as much of the water off the spinach as you can by shaking the colander.
Dry the spinach: Using your hands, press the spinach against the sides of the colander in large handfuls, squeezing to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Set aside to drain further while making the cream sauce.
Make the cream sauce: Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens enough to coat the back of the spatula, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes more.
Add the cheese and spinach: Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the spinach and mix well. Keep warm over very low heat.
Spinach shortcut: Instead of blanching fresh spinach, thaw a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach and drain well. Make the cream sauce and add the thawed and drained spinach until heated through.
Make ahead: You can make the creamed spinach up to 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap or parchment paper directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. When ready to proceed, remove the plastic wrap and reheat over low heat until it just begins to bubble.
Storage: Store leftover creamed spinach in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat gently over low heat.
Serves 4 to 6
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds total)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
Measuring cups and spoons
Thin, flat spatula
Rimmed baking sheet
Heat the oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
Cut the potatoes: Rinse and dry the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, then cut the wedges in half across the length.
Coat with seasoning: Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, and toss to coat the potatoes. Add the oil and toss to coat again.
Place the potatoes in a single layer and roast: Spread the potatoes in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Use a thin, flat spatula to flip the potatoes. Roast again until the potatoes are tender and golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Season and serve: Sprinkle with additional salt before serving if desired.
February 11, 2017
Steamed Mussels In Coconut Milk
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) light coconut milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey
1 teaspoon (5 ml) rice vinegar
2 lbs (1 kg) mussels or other shellfish (clams, cockles ...), cleaned
Salt and pepper
In a saucepan, soften the onion and garlic with the ginger in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk, honey, and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil and add the mussels. Cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently until they open, about 5 minutes. Discard any closed mussels. Adjust the seasoning.
Divide the mussels into two bowls. Drizzle with the cooking juices.
BEEF BOURGUIGNON (2)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) butter, softened
3 tablespoons (45 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 lbs (1 kg) top sirloin steak, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (500 ml) light red wine
2 cups (500 ml) beef broth
1 shallot, peeled
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
1/4 lb (115 g) bacon slices, about 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) thick, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 lb (454 g) white button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on their size
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped parsley
1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F).
2. In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour. Set aside.
3. In a large ovenproof pan, brown the meat, half at a time, in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.
4. In the same pan, brown the onion. Add oil, if needed. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the broth and kneaded butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add the meat, the shallot studded with the clove, and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Bake, covered, for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Add the carrots and cook, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the shallot, clove, and bay leaf.
6. In a large skillet, brown the bacon in the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until well browned. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 minute. Pour into the stew. Adjust the seasoning.
7. Freeze the cooked and cooled stew in airtight containers or sealable freezer plastic bags. Place the bag on a flat baking sheet. Once they are frozen, you can stack them.
February 04, 2017
Comforting Curry Noodle Bowls
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 25 MINS TOTAL TIME: 35 MINS
8 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles
1 pound jumbo shrimp*, peeled and de-veined
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil, divided (or any mild-flavored cooking oil)
1 small white onion, peeled and thinly-sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 (15-ounce) cans coconut milk (regular or light coconut milk)
2 cups chicken or vegetable or seafood stock
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
optional: 1-2 red Thai chiles**, thinly-sliced
toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, thinly-sliced red onions
Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Meanwhile, lay out the raw shrimp on a plate and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the shrimp generously on both sides with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until the shrimp are pink and opaque and cooked through. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add sliced onion, bell pepper and carrot, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
Add in the coconut milk, stock and ginger (and chiles, if using), and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and continue simmering for 5-10 more minutes.
Taste, and season with extra salt and pepper and curry paste to taste. (Feel free to add a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, especially if the stock you use is not very salty.
Serve warm, topped with a few pieces of the cooked shrimp, and your desired toppings.
January 29, 2017
Sweet & Sour Chicken
4 free-range chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 fresh red chilli
3cm piece of fresh ginger
1 bunch of spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons runny honey
6 ripe plums
8 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
300 g free-range medium egg noodles
200 g sugar-snap peas or mangetout
125 g baby spinach
1 jasmine tea bag
¼ of a bunch of fresh mixed soft herbs
Put the chicken and five-spice in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the chicken, skin-side down and cook for 5 minutes, then throw in the whole chilli.
Peel and add the ginger, trim and add 4 spring onions, along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle over the honey and fry until dark, golden and sticky.
When it’s all looking good, add the whole plums, vinegar, soy and a little sesame oil to stop everything from sticking. Put the lid on, reduce the heat and let it cook slowly for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce and get sticky, then transfer everything to a board. Let it all cool a little, then shred the chicken and return it to the pan, discarding the bones.
On a board, chop up the plums and garlic (discarding the stones and skin), the chilli and remaining spring onions, mixing to create a kind of hot chopped salad. Discard the ginger, then scrape it all back into the pan with the chicken.
Place the noodles, sugar-snap peas or mangetout, spinach and tea bag in a pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes then discard the tea bag.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the noodles and veg to the pan with the chicken. Use a little cooking liquid to loosen the sauce, then toss it all together.
Pick and roughly chop the herbs, then sprinkle on top. Serve with wedges of lime for squeezing over.
January 21, 2017
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
500 g haggis (available at Ocean Park Meats)
NEEPS & TATTIES
400 g turnips peeled and quartered
450 g potatoes , peeled and quartered
100 g unsalted butter
8 spring onions , roughly chopped
30 ml double cream
Feel free to use vegetarian haggis if you like (recipe)
Tatties (mashed potatoes) don’t usually contain spring onions, so omit them if you like.
Cook the haggis in a large pan of boiling water according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, cook the turnips or swedes and the potatoes in separate saucepans of boiling salted water for 20–25 minutes, or until tender. Drain the veg separately. Return the turnips or swedes to the pan, add half the butter, and mash, keeping chunky. Season to taste. Cover to keep warm.
Melt the remaining butter in the potato pan, add the spring onions and cook for 1–2 minutes, till softened. Add the potatoes, and mash until quite smooth, seasoning to taste. Cover to keep warm.
Remove the cooked haggis, cut open, and place a portion onto each warmed plate. Divide up the neeps & tatties and serve.
January 14, 2016
1. Cook it slow
Try to use the “low” heat setting as much as possible. You will find that most dishes will benefit greatly from the gentle heat that helps brings out those amazing flavors. You should only use the high setting if you’re running low on time or the recipe requests that you use it.
2. Less Liquids
Since a slow cooker is a sealed unit the liquid will not evaporate so try not to get the urge to add more liquid if it’s looking a bit dry at the start. You will find that there will be plenty of liquid within a few hours of cooking.
3. Trim The Fat
Trimming the fat off of the meat or using leaner cuts of meat will help reduce the amount of liquid fat produced throughout cooking. Browning the meat before adding it to the pot is also a great way to prevent extra fat from sitting on the top of your food, just don’t tip in the fat/juices from the fry pan. Alternatively, you can skim the pools of fat off the top of your food at the end of cooking.
As the liquid doesn’t reduce in a slow cooker it’s unlikely to thicken by itself. Rolling meat in flour at the start or using cornstarch at the end is a great way to thicken it. If you’re using cornstarch, mix 2 Tbsp. with a little bit of water before adding it to the dish. You may find that you need to add more if it doesn’t thicken up enough.
5. Save Money
Out of all the slow cooker tips this one is certainly great for people on limited budgets.You should try to stick to cheaper cuts of meat such as shoulder, thigh, brisket, silverside, chuck and blade. Since you’ll be cooking these for a long time they will cook to be incredibly tender and full of flavor.
You can also bulk out a lot of recipes using cheaper ingredients such as carrots, onions and beans. Of course this depends on the type of dish you’re cooking but typically you can save money without sacrificing on flavor and texture.
6. Prep ahead
If you’re often running low on time in the morning, then most slow cooker recipes can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Simply remove from the fridge in the morning, throw everything into the slow cooker and turn it on to cook.
7. Add Greens Last
When it comes to adding peas, spinach, green beans and most other greens they should be added towards the end of cooking. If you add them at the start you will find that they discolor and will not look very nice once you’re done cooking.
It’s also important to note that ingredients such as rice or pasta should also be added at the end of cooking otherwise they may go a weird unappetizing texture.
8. Leave the lid on
Whenever you’re cooking something in the slow cooker it’s important that you leave the lid on. Every time you remove the lid it allows for the heat to escape and will possibly add cooking time onto your dish.
If you’re worried about your dish not cooking right after removing the lid, then you should find 15 more minutes is enough time to compensate for the heat loss.
Since everything is cooking from the fridge temperature you may want to add 30 minutes onto the cooking time or leave it to warm up before turning on the slow cooker.
This is a very important tip when it comes to food hygiene. It’s important to not leave your slow cooker switched off with food in it for extended periods of time. The food danger zone is 4 to 60 °C (39 to 140 °F) and is when harmful bacteria will start to grow.
You may find some “keep warm” settings will not keep the food hot enough to keep it out of the danger zone for long. It’s best to check the temperature of the food to make sure it’s at safe levels.
10. Don’t Overfill the Slow Cooker
An important slow cooker tip is to remember to not overfill the slow cooker as your food may not cook correctly. A good rule of thumb is to not fill it past the 2/3 mark of the insert. You will find some slow cookers will mark this whilst others you will just have to guess.
11. Speed Up Cleaning
Using a slow cooker liner can help speed up cleaning. They’re incredibly easy to use and will prevent the annoyance of having to wash out the insert. You will find them extremely useful when it comes to cooking cakes, loafs and puddings.
12. Dairy at the end
With most recipes it’s important to add the dairy at the end of cooking as this will help prevent it from splitting. There are of course some exceptions to this rule but for something like a tasty beef stroganoff you’re best leaving it till the end.
13. Brown the meat
Not essential but can help improve the flavor and texture of the meat. Simply brown the meat before placing it in the slow cooker for enhanced flavors and better texture. You will find some slow cookers have a built in sear program so you can do it completely in one pot.
14. Not just Dinner & Stews
This might be pretty obvious but the slow cooker can be used for more than just dinners and stews. You can cook some pretty amazing desserts and even breakfasts in the slow cooker. There are even some condiments and sauces that you’re able to do.
SLOW COOKER GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN
Super Easy Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken. Way better (and healthier) than takeout!
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
green onions for serving, if desired
sesame seeds for serving, if desired
Add chicken and cornstarch to a large ziplock bag. Toss to coat the chicken with the cornstarch.
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok.
Saute chicken until golden brown on both sides about 2 minutes on each side. (Note the chicken will not be fully cooked and that is ok)
Add the chicken to the slow cooker.
Add hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil to a medium bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour the sauce onto the chicken and stir to coat the chicken.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
Serve with green onions and sesame seeds for serving, if desired.
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January 07, 2017
Greek Wedge Salad
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 head iceberg lettuce—washed, cored and quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup kalamata olives
4 peperoncino peppers
1. MAKE THE DRESSING: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil with the mustard, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the red wine vinegar and mix well to combine.
2. MAKE THE SALAD: Place a quarter of iceberg lettuce on each plate and then sprinkle with an even amount of the tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Drizzle each wedge with salad dressing to taste.
3. Garnish with 2 tablespoons feta, ¼ cup olives and a peperoncino pepper. Serve immediately.
Possibly the Best Asparagus Recipe
You can eat this as a side for 4-6 people or a main for 2-3.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 pounds asparagus
1 inch cube of ginger chopped as small as you can (I shave it with a mandoline then chop that up)
1/5 tsp cayenne (optional)
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil (or 1 tablespoon sesame seeds)
2 tablespoons brown butter (you can splurge as most of this meal is asparagus!)
1/4 cup crumbled cheese (Parmesan would be perfect; we only had blue so used that)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread to dip in sauce
Possibly the Best Asparagus Recipe – Instructions
Heat oil in a large frying pan (large enough for most of your asparagus to fit) over medium-high heat.
Snap any ‘woody’ ends of asparagus off by hand (if it’s fresh you’ll lose less than an inch). Our dog loves snacking on these.
Place asparagus in pan before oil smokes (it should sizzle on contact). Start with the thickest pieces.
Stir occasionally as you add the juice of a lemon, ginger, cayenne, honey and sesame. The entire dish should take about 6 minutes to cook; asparagus should be hot but crunchy.
Remove from heat (but leave asparagus in pan), add brown butter and stir to heat. Add cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper and serve (making sure to get enough sauce to dip your bread into).
Scatter the fennel mixture over the oranges and top with toasted almonds.