Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chicken Katsu Curry

I would not have attempted this dish last night had I not already marinated the chicken.  I was not feeling 100%, but everyone wanted dinner, so I soldiered on.

456.  Katsu Chicken (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 100)

I have some fussy eaters to hates coconut and curry, one hates onions, and one is vegetarian.  I made this meal for me, not omitting anything.  I figured they could pick and choose whatever bits and pieces they wanted.  ;)

I had marinated two chicken breasts in soy yogurt with garlic & curry powder overnight.  I got them out of the fridge, and rolled each of them in panko bread crumbs.  I put about half a cup of oil in a frying pan (not 4 cups, WTF Jamie!) and heated it until the chicken was sizzling.  I turned it every so often so it wouldn't get too dark on either side, and would cook evenly.

I put a pot of basmati rice on, with some creamed coconut and salt.  And then I got to work on my curry sauce.  I chopped onion, carrots, ginger & garlic, and added some of the frozen, chopped cilantro stalks from my garden.  I sauteed these in a pot with a bit of oil and a combination of turmeric, curry powder and garam masala, and once the veggies were carmelized and soft, I added a spoon of mango chutney and a bit of  flour.  I boiled the kettle and added the water, then let the sauce simmer until thick.

Last but not least, Jamie wanted me to pickle some red onion in lemon juice.  I didn't have any red onion, so I sliced some sweet onion and cucumber instead.  I zested the lemon and then juiced it over the veggies, added some salt, and let this sit for a few minutes.  I sprayed a ramekin with olive oil, so I could mould my rice.  Jamie cracked me up in the live video about the moulded rice (it starts about 21:30).  Ha ha ha, I love it when he disses Gordon Ramsey!  I sliced up my chicken breasts, for sharing.

As Jamie would say, this looks like a dog's dinner. But it tastes amazing!  The sauce made the whole meal.  The chicken was moist and tender with a nice crunch on the outside.  The rice was very coconut-y, and the pickle cut through was just a perfect combination of ingredients on a plate.  I'd make this again in a heartbeat.
One kid had chicken on a tortilla wrap with BBQ sauce.  One had rice and chicken with no sauce.  One had rice and sauce with no chicken.  LOL.  To each his or her own.  :P  There were no left overs!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Meal Planning

I took a week off of meal planning because it took me that long to make everything I posted about last time!  Work was crazy last week, with two offsite, all day conferences.  The beauty of it was that all food was catered, and I let them know about my food sensitivities in advance.  They had so many goodies, changing the selections from breakfast to lunch to mid-afternoon snacks....things like fresh fruit, crispy sliced beets that tasted like potato chips, sweet & spicy whole pecans, crispy green beans, vegan sandwiches...I did not go away hungry.  They also had soy and almond milk, and all the Tazo teas.  Amazing!

This week it's back to normal, so I spent a lot of time cooking, reading, relaxing and catching up on the PVR on the weekend.  I'm really noticing the effects of gluten lately, so I'm going to try to take it easy this week.  However, the banana bread sitting on my counter isn't helping....LOL.  I'm my own worst enemy sometimes.  My naturopath says I need to eat more fish (um, is that even possible?), so I'm going heavy on seafood this week.  Such a hardship.  :P

Lunch - left over spaghetti vongole
Dinner - left over roasted veggies & beet greens, sauteed shrimp
Prep - marinate chicken for Katsu Curry (Jamie's Comfort Food)
        - marinate tofu for vegan feta

Lunch - left over roasted mushroom risotto 
Dinner - Chicken Katsu Curry
Prep - defrost beef

Lunch - beet salad with vegan feta, rice crackers, deli chicken
Dinner - ground beef wellington (for the kid), left over roasted veggies & shrimp for me
Dessert - it's vegan doughnut night at Veg Out!
Prep - defrost fish

Lunch - beet salad with vegan feta, rice crackers, deli chicken
Dinner - Sicilian Fish Soup because I love the combination of squash & tomatoes!
Prep - defrost pork

Lunch - left over Sicilian fish soup, rice crackers
Dinner -  pork roast w applesauce and whatever veggies I have left in the crisper/freezer

Hopefully I'll find interesting ways to use up the pork leftovers on the weekend.  ;)


One year ago, I made Trout Al Forno.
Two years ago, I tried to complete Pork Steaks & Hungarian Pepper Sauce in 15 took 30.  :P
Three years ago, I was recovering from seeing Jamie in Toronto.
Four years ago, I showed my kids how to make Farfalle Carbonara.
Five years ago, in an attempt to eat my fridge, I made a Lamb and Red Wine Stew.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Overly Ambitious Carbs

Do you ever get overly ambitious?  Yesterday, I had a lot of ingredients I wanted to use up.  I started out by making a banana bread in the morning, to use up three spotty bananas.  While that was in the oven, I made the spaghetti vongole for lunch, and briefly forgot about the bread.  I overcooked it by at least 15 it's edible, but a little crunchy.  :P

I spent a lot of money yesterday morning at Sobey's, and one of the goodies that found it's way into my cart was a monstrous bunch of fresh Ontario yellow beets.  I defrosted some trout for dinner, and planned to eat it with the sautéed beet greens, plus this colourful roasted veggie tray that Jamie tweeted about yesterday.  However, I also had some defrosted turkey stock waiting in the fridge, so I decided to make a pot of risotto for Stuart.  Then I remembered a flat of cremini mushrooms in the crisper, and thought "why not make some risotto for myself too?"  I got to work on that, while also assembling the potatoes and beets for the tray bake.  My head was spinning.

455.  Risotto ai Funghi e Prezzemolo (Roasted Mushroom Risotto with Parsley) (Jamie's Italy, page 142)

I've made a few varieties of risotto in the past couple of years.  As usual, this recipe starts with risotto bianco.  It also wants wild mushrooms, garlic, butter & thyme.  I sliced some creminis and added them to a dry pan with about 6 cloves of garlic, each cut in half.  I then added a pat of vegan margarine and some of my dried garden thyme, and put the pan in the oven to roast for about 10 minutes. When the risotto was just about done, I scooped half out into a pot for myself,  and finished the other half with butter and parmesan cheese for Stuart.  I added half of the mushroom/garlic mixture to mine, along with some chopped parsley and a pat of vegan margarine.  I covered this for a couple of minutes, then seasoned it with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkled it with my vegan parmesan "cheese" (aka ground cashews, nutritional yeast and salt).

This was delicious.  It was also filling!  I didn't need the colourful, roasted veggies, the beet greens or the trout.  Those will have to wait until tonight's dinner!  LOL

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blushing Spaghetti Vongole

It's nice to have a day off to chill out and relax!  This morning I was able to start catching up on all the YouTube videos I've bookmarked since prior to the cruise.  One of them was an hour and a half long live video from Jamie's Feastival in the UK.  It's an event I would love to attend in person one year.  He and Gennaro cooked four dishes on stage, and chose members of the audience to come up  and sample the food.  I decided it was high time I did another new recipe, so I chose one for my lunch.

454.  Blushing Spaghetti Vongole (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 180)

I've never eaten or bought clams before.  I sourced them fresh at Sobey's for about twice the price of mussels, but I decided what the heck, I deserve a treat!  So I picked up a pound, along with a package of GoGoQuinoa spaghetti.  I also stopped at the liquor store and bought two single-serving bottles of wine, one white and one red.  After my son vacated the kitchen (complaining all the while about the smell of the raw clams, which was non-existant), I started cooking.  First up, I boiled the spaghetti in salted water.

Jamie suggests that you have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go prior to starting, so I quickly chopped garlic, dried chile, parsley stalks, and tomato.  I put the parsley leaves aside until later.  After the pasta had been boiling for about 5 minutes, I put a large pan over a high heat and added a lug of olive oil.  I went in with the chopped veggies, washed clams and two tablespoons of tomato paste.  I mixed everything together, added a splash of each type of wine, and covered the pan with a lid to let the clams cook.

I found the clams very slow, unlike mussels which open quite quickly.  I took the lid off when a few had popped, to let the alcohol evaporate, but kept the heat high.  I added a few scoops of pasta water so that things didn't get too dry, but the clams were really being stubborn.  Once the spaghetti was ready, I drained it and added it to the sauce.  I ended up throwing away at least 10 clams, because they just wouldn't open.  I was quite disappointed....that was close to half of them.  I have to think they weren't very fresh.  I added the parsley leaves and served the pasta up into bowls.

The sauce was tasty,  but I would have liked a higher seafood to pasta ratio.  The next time, I'll make this dish with mussels.  I don't know where the clams came from, but the mussels I get are generally from PEI.  Perhaps that's the difference in quality.  Live and learn.  Oh to live closer to the sea...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Meal Planning

Things are finally getting back to normal. I picked up some specialty items on the weekend - lots of non-dairy goodies.  I got a great buy on So Delicious Vanilla Cultured Almond MilkYogurt at the market (it's to die for) along with some Cultured Coconut Milk.  I picked up a couple more butternut squash, while they are plentiful and inexpensive, because they keep well. I treated myself to some pure maple sugar candies, a vegan date & seed bar, and more of those Luna Lemon Zest protein bars.  I also took a run through Sobey's because I love their health food aisle.  They carry most of the same items as the farmers market, but usually for a bit less.  Ok, I also wanted to get a peek at the new, seasonal Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada items that they are advertising, but unfortunately most of them I can't eat.  He has a great new line of rice pilaf dishes, but they all contain brown rice, wild rice, chick peas or butter...none of which are on my diet.  However, I picked up more of the Gogo Quinoa gluten-free pastas, because I don't feel so heavy and sick after eating them as I do with regular, wheat-based pastas.

I've been eating some things from the freezer this past week, including these great vegan lentil burgers from Michael Smith that I made a big batch of prior to the cruise.  They go well with my homemade dill pickles.

I need to make a plan this week so I can get through until next payday without grocery shopping.  I don't have a lot of meat in the freezer, so I need to be smart about what I do with it.
Fresh Veggies:
Bok Choy
Baby carrots
Ideas for dinners:
Left over Cod Stew
Turkey  & Sweet Leek Pie (use up the frozen Thanksgiving turkey)
Pork roast with roasted potatoes & carrots
Dim Sum Pork Buns (with the left over pork)
Ideas for lunches:
Buckwheat noodles & bok choy (Asian soup)
Fennel/apple salad
Rice Krispy squares

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Squash Rigatoni & the S word

Almost a year ago to the day, I blogged about the threat of snow in the forecast, and made Cod Stew to warm myself up when it actually arrived.  Coincidentally, that's what I plan to make tonight.  I braved the cold, went out and pulled all the leeks a few minutes ago.  I should probably pull the herbs too, but I don't have the energy.  Hopefully the snow will hold off until the beginning of the week, and I can find time to freeze the parsley & cilantro, and dry the sage and thyme.

Last night, I was on the hunt for squash recipes, to use with the butternut I roasted whole the other day.  There is a page called Roasted Squash:  4 Exciting Ways in Save With Jamie, but so far I've only done one - Squash Hummus.

453.  Squash Rigatoni (Save With Jamie, page 46)

I put some finely chopped garlic & fresh chile in a bit of olive oil to fry, along with some fresh thyme from the garden.  I scraped in half of my roasted butternut squash, then had to alter the recipe slightly, as of course I am still off all dairy.  So instead of creme fraiche and blue cheese, I added soy milk and Tofutti sour cream until the sauce was a nice consistency.  I let this simmer on a low heat while I boiled the pasta (saving a cup of the cooking water).

When the pasta was al dente, I seasoned my sauce and mixed the rigatoni in, along with a bit of the cooking water.  My next challenge was Parmesan cheese, but then.I remembered a recipe I'd seen on the web for a vegan alternative, so I pulled it up.  It was just a simple mixture of raw cashews, nutritional yeast and salt.  I put these ingredients into the food processor and let it run until they were finely ground together. It really does smell like cheese!  I sprinkled some of this over the pasta and called it dinner.

I found this a really filling meal.  Next time, I'll eat half the amount with a big garden salad, I think!  But it was tasty, with a nice kick from the chile.  I love the combination of squash and pasta, in any form.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sicilian-Style Tuna Carpaccio

I came home from the cruise with a head cold, and spent the first two days on the couch, eating takeout Chinese.  The third day I ate packaged noodles for lunch, but managed to make burgers and potato salad for dinner.  The fourth day, I made myself a fennel & apple salad for lunch, and cooked a pan of Chicken & Chorizo Paella for dinner.  I also threw a whole butternut squash in the oven to roast, for future use.  That's always how I know I'm getting better, when the desire to cook nutritious food comes back.

I'm still not 100%, but this morning I woke up with enough energy to do the dishes and prepare the ingredients for a nice lunch to take to work.  Tonight, I plan to use that squash.

452. Sicilian-Style Tuna Carpaccio (Jamie's FoodTube) recipe
FoodTube video

I saw this update come through on YouTube and knew I had to make it.  I still have a few tuna steaks in the freezer, and I planted a second round of arugula in the garden at the beginning of September that is still kicking.  It probably won't be for much longer, with the threat of snow looming!

So this morning, bright and early, I thinly sliced my defrosted tuna steak and put it in a container to take to work with half a lemon wrapped in clingfilm.  I went out and picked the arugula and the only remaining soft herb, cilantro.  I also had some nice fennel fronds in the fridge.  I attempted to blacken a fresh red chile from the garden, but after I seeded it, all that was left was blackened skin.  Maybe it was too small for this process?  So I just chopped half a fresh one instead, and chopped half a clove of garlic.  I soaked some capers in red wine vinegar (the closest I could get to rosé wine). 

I combined the chopped herbs, the drained capers, the garlic and the chile with some EVOO and packed it in a little container.  I put the washed arugula in a separate container with some EVOO, and threw a whole lemon into my bag just in case it needed it.

At lunch, I squeezed lemon juice over the tuna slices, and let it sit for a few minutes to "cook".  Then I spread it with the herb paste, and topped it with dressed arugula.  What a gourmet work lunch!  Not much I love more than raw tuna.  I almost feel like I'm back on the cruise....of course my co-workers were horrified!  :p