Thursday, March 5, 2015

15 Minute Meals: Chicken Cacciatore

I made a quick run to the indoor farmer's market at lunch to pick up a few ingredients for this next recipe.  I'd defrosted four chicken thighs overnight, decided to use two for a quick pot of Spanish rice for the kid, and save the other two for myself.  It's been a while since I made one of Jamie's 15 Minute Meals!  I think this one got skipped originally because I knew the kids wouldn't like it.

470.  Chicken Cacciatore (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, page 186)

A Glug Of Oil recipe
Daily Motion video

I bought a bunch of fresh basil, and then spotted these two jars near the cash as I was checking out.  I figured that they would add authenticity, so I splurged and bought them.  Since no one but me would be eating this, why not?


I was smart and did all my "mise en place" before turning on the stove.  I skinned and deboned the thighs, then chopped them into small pieces.  I roughly chopped my mushrooms, finely sliced a frozen red chile, and washed and tore up my basil.  I assembled the rest of the necessary ingredients on the counter, so that I wasn't searching through the pantry at an inconvenient time.  Then it was time to cook!  I put a large frying pan over a medium heat, filled a pot with water for the pasta, and brought it to the boil.

This came together very quickly.  I fried the chicken and mushrooms in a lug of EVOO with the rosemary for a couple of minutes, then added the anchovy, the red pepper, and the olives.  I added some capellini to the water, then added garlic and chile to the frying pan, along with the tomato sauce.  When the sauce was simmering, I turned off the heat and threw in most of the basil.  I drained the pasta, keeping some of the water aside in case I needed to loosen the pasta up later.

I combined the pasta with the sauce, and tore over the rest of my basil leaves.  The full recipe serves six, but since I only used half quantities, I portioned this into three separate bowls.  Because of my dairy restriction, I didn't use any parmesan cheese, but I'm sure it would be a lovely addition.  However, I didn't miss it at all.  This was so flavourful!  It's been a long time since I allowed myself a big bowl of pasta, and I wolfed it down.  It had a little kick from the chile, but no fishy taste at all from the anchovy. 
I was impressed!  Quite a healthy pasta, really, if you consider the basil, garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms.  I read all about their health benefits this afternoon.  Who knew!  And you can really stretch a small amount of chicken with this dish.  I mean, two thighs for three portions!  But it was plenty.  I was quite stuffed afterwards.  I look forward to left overs.  :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

March Madness!

How do the birds know it's March?  They were chirping up a storm this morning, even though the temperature is still well in the negative.  The sun was shining, though, and somehow something felt just a bit different, so they damned well were singing all about it.  Don't get me wrong...I'm sure we're still in for a few more snowstorms before winter gives up it's hold around here.  It's also going to take weeks to melt the deep snow, once the temperatures rise above zero.  But there's light at the end of the tunnel.

I decided to make a batch of ginger molasses cookies yesterday morning, while I waited for it to be late enough to hit the grocery stores.  I found a great little gluten free & vegan recipe on the interwebs, and mainly it used up stuff that I've had kicking around my pantry for ages.  Molasses (duh), candied ginger, ground cloves & ginger, oats, rice flour, brown sugar, arrowroot starch, cinnamon, olive get the picture.

I rolled a bit of dough into a ball, then rolled it in a sugar/cinnamon mixture, then flattened it on the pan.  I put a drop of water in the centre of each cookie and admired my work.  I put them in the oven and wondered if they might spread a bit.  Ha ha ha, ya think?!?!

Ok so I'll call these "ginger molasses cookie bars" if anyone asks.  They cooled and went quite chewy and a bit crispy, just a perfect cookie texture.  I broke the massive cookie into pieces, and I can't stop eating them.  I'll have to keep this one in my back pocket because I sometimes spend more money than I should on these at Starbucks.  They are about the only dairy-free food option they offer.

As for the week ahead, I spent some time yesterday getting prepared by boiling half a dozen eggs and a large bag of golden beets.  The eggs are great for sandwiches or a quick snack, and I plan to roast the beets tonight for dinner.  I also made the kid a large broccoli cheese casserole, much to his surprise and delight.  Sometimes I just feel like cooking.

Not the most exciting plan, but I do have a new 15 Minute Meal included.  I planned to do it a while back but never got around to it.

Monday - left over roasted cauliflower & rice pilaf (lunch), Farm Boy Thai sausages and roasted beets (dinner)
Tuesday - frozen fish pie (lunch), left over sausages & beets (dinner)
Wednesday - frozen beet burger with sour dough bread (lunch), Jamie's 15 Minute Chicken Cacciatore (dinner)
Thursday - frozen fish pie (lunch), left over chicken cacciatore (dinner)
Friday - frozen beet burger with sour dough bread (lunch),  home made mini pizza with Daiya cheese & veggies (dinner)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sobey's JO Rice Pilaf and Fish Cakes

My son complains that my freezer is full of Jamie Oliver products (most of which he won't eat).  He's right!  I tend to pick them up if they are on special, either by price or by Sobey's points.  This week I've used a few of them, including a blackberry crisp that I somehow managed to drop into the door of the oven when lifting it out.  With help, I salvaged the majority of it, but what a mess!

To complement my roasted cauliflower the other night, I used these two frozen entrees as side dishes.

Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada:  Tasty Grains Sweet Leeks & Mushroom Pilaf (with a blend of whole grains & savoury mushroom medley)

Sobey's JO products page

Text on back of box:  "A delicious twist on a classic rice dish, this rice pilaf combines wild rice, pearl barley and tender wheat berries with roasted cremini and button mushrooms, as well as slow cooked leeks and garlic for full-on flavour.  A wholesome dish that's super versatile and ready in minutes - try it as a side with roasted meats or use it as a base for a big warm salad."

I believe these were priced at $5.99 each.  Unfortunately, they aren't vegan, as milk ingredients are listed.  Still, I thought I'd sneak one in as I'm sure it's pretty minimal.  There are a variety of different flavours available, so I'm not sure this one is going to be my favourite.  Sometimes, I find mushroom dishes to be a bit earthy, and this one was.  I mean, it was ok, but I don't think I'd buy it again.  However, I'm not really a fan of brown rice (nor is it a fan of me).  LOL

Cooked whole grain blend (brown rice, barley, wheat berries, wild rice), roasted cremini mushrooms, white mushrooms, leek, water, butter (contains milk), parsley, olive oil, sea salt, white wine concentrate, garlic, dried champignon mushrooms, mushroom juice concentrate (mushroom extract, sunflower oil), thyme, corn starch, honey, concentrated lemon juice, black pepper.
May contain:  peanuts, tree nuts and soya.

Nutritional Info (per 1/3 tray):
Calories 150
Fat 3.5 g
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 350 mg
Potassium 230 mg
Carbohydrate 24 g
  Fibre 2 g
  Sugars 1 g
Protein 5 g
Vitamin A 4%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 2%
Iron 8%

Jamie Oliver "Keep It Simple": 4 Crispy Pollock Fishcakes (with crunchy parsley breadcrumbs)

Text on back of box:   "I love fishcakes...and these are as good as they get with bite-sized pieces of Alaska Pollock fillet, smooth potato mash and crunchy parsley breadcrumbs made from our specially baked loaves.  Made with love, Jamie O"
I love the JO fish fingers, so I figured I'd love these as well (but again with the milk ingredients, Jamie!)  The other varieties contain corn, which I definitely can't eat, so I went with this one, even though it lists corn flour.  As expected, very tasty, crisp on the outside, and soft and delicious, almost creamy on the inside.  Quite pricey at $4.99 for four little cakes though.
Fishcake core (Alaska Pollock, potato, onion, wheat flour, cream, potato starch, parsley, white pepper), breadcrumb coasting (wheat flour, corn flour, water, sea salt, yeast, mustard powder, parsley, yeast extract, salt, olive oil), rapeseed oil.
Nutritional Info (per 2 fishcakes):
Calories 180
Fat 8 g
Cholesterol 25 mg
Sodium 190 mg
Carbohydrate 18 g
  Fibre 2 g
  Sugars 4 g
Protein 8 g
Vitamin A 2%
Calcium 4%
Iron 4%

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

On Friday night, I was feeling tired and hungry.  I briefly considered calling for some sort of delivery food service, then kicked myself in the butt and put the oven on.  There isn't a much simpler recipe than this one, and I figured I could complement it with some ready-made frozen JO products.

469.  Whole Roasted Cauliflower recipe

I remembered seeing this one before Christmas, because it was included in Buzzfeed's Vegan Christmas Feast article.  I bought this cauliflower on clearance for $1.29 last weekend.  Nothing wrong with it!   So I wiped my trusty pestle and mortar clean, and bashed up four cloves of garlic with a teaspoon of smoked paprika and some of my dried garden thyme.  I added some salt and EVOO and rubbed this mixture all over the cauliflower.  This was strangely satisfying.  It was so cool to see the white vegetable stained red!

It fit perfectly in my casserole dish.  I zested a lemon into a bowl, then squeezed the lemon juice over the cauliflower.  I didn't have any sherry on hand (ha ha) so I added 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar, and then a few more tablespoons of water.  I put the lid on, and put it in a 350F oven for an hour, before removing the lid for another 20 minutes.  At that time, I was supposed to put 400g of canned tomatoes in.  However, a search of my pantry yielded only tomato sauce.  Oh well, go with what you have, right?  I found half of a fresh tomato, so I combined the two and poured that around the base of the cauliflower, and sprinkled everything with the lemon zest.  This went back in the oven for 10 minutes to heat through.

At this stage, I was supposed to sprinkle it with toasted, sliced almonds, and fresh parsley.  I had neither, so I chopped up some almonds, and used fresh cilantro leaves instead.  It was definitely festive looking!

Jamie suggests serving this as a vegan roast, accompanied by rice pilaf.  I just so happened to have some rice pilaf in the freezer, so I almost went with a vegan meal, until I spied some frozen fish cakes, which also made it onto the plate.  The roasted cauliflower, however, was the star.  It was amazing!  Cooked until tender, with the tomatoey goodness, the crunch of almonds, and of course the spicy coating, it all worked wonderfully together.  I would never in a million years have thought of roasting a cauliflower whole, but it's really a no brainer.  I'd definitely do it again!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting in under the wire

Yeah yeah I'm late, whatever.  Yesterday was not a good day.  I went to the dentist and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening on the couch.  I'm back on track today, however, so wanted to get a meal plan in before the week is gone.

Do you ever post something in your meal plan that you hope to make, but then never get around to it?  I went back and looked at mine over the last year and a half and made a list of those "misses".  One of them was the awesome Curried Fish Pie I posted about yesterday.  Hopefully I'll get a few more done in the future.

Monday - left over beet burgers (lunch) and left over curried fish pie (dinner)
Tuesday - left over curried fish pie (lunch) and South American Style Brunch (dinner)
Wednesday - Asian veggie soup with buckwheat noodles (lunch), dinner out with a friend
Thursday - Asian veggie soup with buckwheat noodles (lunch), Farm Boy Thai sausages, roasted beets, carrots & potatoes (dinner)
Friday - Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sobey's JO Sweet Leek & Mushroom Pilaf

Monday, February 23, 2015

Curried Fish Pie

I've come to love fish pie, but they are usually heavy on dairy products like cream and cheese.  Sadly, most of the fare in Jamie's Comfort Food is not really in my comfort zone to eat.  But I knew as soon as I saw this next recipe that it was a match made in heaven!  A fish pie with an Indian flair.

468.  Curried Fish Pie (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 36) ingredients list

I started out making a big pot of boiled potatoes.  I decided that I'd use 2/3 for this huge fish pie, and the other 1/3 for a shepherd's pie for my red meat-eating son.  Ok, not a British shepherd's pie, because that would be lamb.  Here, we make shepherd's pie with ground beef.  In Britain, they'd call it a cottage pie.  I added onions, carrots and garlic for flavour, simmered with some flour & stock for a few minutes, then topped it with the potatoes, mashed with butter and milk.  Done!

Next up, I started on my filling.  I made a "temper" of curry leaves, garlic, ginger, fresh red chile and mustard seeds, by frying them in a lug of olive oil for a few minutes.  I reserved some of this for later, then added two sliced onions to the pan, along with some fenugreek seeds and turmeric.  If you watch episode #5 of Jamie's Comfort Food, you will probably be as amazed as I was to see little Buddy, all of 4 years old, confidently hand his dad each of these spices when called for.  How awesome is that?

After about 5 minutes, I added a tin of coconut milk and four big handfuls of fresh baby spinach.  I put a lid on loosely and let that come to a boil for a few minutes, then took it off the heat to cool.  I chopped up a few tomatoes and scattered them over the filling.  I covered this with a clean tea towel and went out for a while.  When I returned, I quickly chopped up my fish (two tilapia fillets & some salmon) and shelled my shrimp.  I also added a very small packet of bay scallops that I'd defrosted.  I made sure all the seafood was well drained and dried off with paper towels.  Then I added it to the mixture, pushing it down into the filling, and topped the works with mashed potatoes (using vegan butter and soy milk).  Into the oven it went at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

I took it out of the oven and scattered the temper over the top, then put it back under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to crisp up.  It looked pretty impressive...too bad there was only me to appreciate it!  LOL
It was very creamy but almost a bit soupy.  Perhaps I should have let it cool a bit more before dishing it out, but I couldn't wait.  However, it was as delicious as I expected it would be.  The only thing I realized that I didn't do was to season it at any stage of cooking, so I gave it a liberal amount of salt on top.  This makes enough for six people, so I portioned the remainder out into five containers, and put them in the fridge.  I'm sure I'll eat it for at least three nights running, but I may freeze the rest for another day's quick meal.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pukka Yellow Curry

I seem to be on a colour theme.  What's next?  Perhaps something red.......I've got a lot of beets.  LOL.  Tonight I finally got around to making this dish from last week's meal plan.  It's been another crazy week!

467.  Pukka Yellow Curry (Save With Jamie, page 104) recipe

I made a quick curry paste in the food processor, using half an onion, half a yellow pepper, cilantro stalks, red chile, garlic, ginger, honey, turmeric & curry powder.  Neither kid tonight was remotely interested in trying this, so I fried eight chicken legs, but removed four to another pan, to be eaten plain, with rice and boiled broccoli.  Whatever.  Their loss!  I put my four partially cooked legs aside, then chopped up the remaining onion & pepper and sauteed them in the chicken juices. I added a bit of tomato paste, boiling water, and half a can of navy beans, and simmered this for a few minutes.  Then I seasoned, and put the chicken back in the pan, covered, and let it bubble away for about 45 minutes.

This was such a simple meal to throw together, but it didn't lack in taste!  I was really amazed at how good it was, considering it used curry powder instead of individual spices.  The navy beans really worked in place of the chick peas Jamie calls for....reminded me a bit of those tins of "pork and beans" I grew up on, but with attitude!   I garnished it with cilantro leaves and served it over basmati rice.  Delicious!