Monday, 24 October 2016

Stir-fried Okra

Image result for okra

I picked up some okra at the Horton Market on the weekend.  I've never tried okra before so I was curious.  I found a stir-fried okra recipe on and decided to give it a try.

Here is the original recipe:

2 cups fresh okra, washed, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced into 8 thin wedges
1/4 cup green onions, sliced, white and green
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
Prepare all vegetables as indicated and have ready for cooking. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Heat oil and butter in a wok or large skillet. Add vegetables and seasoning mixture all at once. Toss and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Serves 4

Now here is what I did:

I prepared the okra as directed.  I didn't peel the tomato.  I used diced red onion.  I have all kinds of herbs and spices but couldn't find thyme anywhere.  I have a funny feeling if I go back and look now it will be in the front row of my spice shelf . . . LOL . . . I added a handful of shitake mushrooms and a sliced red pepper to the pan as well.  The shitake mushrooms were an excellent idea.  The red pepper (which I love) ended up on the side of the plate because they made the dish too sweet.  I served the stir fry with low-sodium soy sauce and rice noodles and really enjoyed it (minus the peppers).

I will definitely make this recipe again.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Caramel Custard

6 servings
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
Standing time 2 hours
190 calories per serving

3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups milk, partly skimmed, 2%
2 tsp vanilla extract
salt, about one pinch
6 servings Microwaved Caramel (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the caramel. Divide it among the ramekins, then tilt and rotate each ramekin to thinly coat it. The caramel may not initially cover bottoms and sides completely, but it will spread and even out after the hot cream mixture is poured in.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Add sugar and 1 pinch of salt, then mix well.

Warm up the milk in a saucepan until hot but not boiling and pour it slowly into the egg mixture. Stir constantly but lightly, in order not to create too many air bubbles. Add the vanilla, then portion out into the caramel-covered ramekins.

Put a towel or piece of cloth into a large baking-pan (either a rectangular cake-mould or a roasting pan). Place the ramekins on the cloth and fill the pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I didn't put a cloth in the bottom of the pan)

Bake in the middle of the oven 35-40 minutes or until the outside is set but the centre still trembles slightly when moved. The custard will continue to set as it cools. Check with a toothpick or knife to see if it is cooked through. (The knife should come out clean)

Take the ramekins out of the water bath right away to avoid overcooking. Let cool and then chill a few hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Run a thin knife around the edges to help remove the custards, then turn upside down onto serving plates and serve cold.

Microwaved Caramel

6 servings
Preparation 5 minutes
Cooking 5 minutes

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp warm water
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Be careful:  melted caramel is extremely hot!!!

Mix all the ingredients in a glass or Pyrex container of average size.  Cook in a microwave oven at maximum power until the syrup starts boiling.

Consider the suggested time as a reference only, since the precise cooking time depends on your oven's power.  Continue to cook using 10 seconds:  the syrup is ready when it turns golden-brown.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Tofu Ratatouille

I made this recipe up the other night. It is supposed to make 4 servings but it actually seems to be enough to feed a small banquet. Hal didn't like it, but Hal doesn't like zucchini or eggplant. I loved it. The recipe won't freeze well and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I took the leftover ratatouille and some red quinoa to Ladies Day Out. All the ladies seemed to enjoy it. So, here goes . . . 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup green beans, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 zucchini, diced into 1.5 cm squares
1 eggplant, small, diced into 1.5 cm squares
1 yellow or red pepper, cut into 1.5 cm squares
1 carrot, cut into 1.5 cm squares
salt and pepper to taste
300 g firm tofu, cubed
1-1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp Herbs aux Provence
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Saute the crushed garlic and chopped onion, taking care not to burn. Cook 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Boil or steam green beans, drain and set aside.

Prepare the remaining vegetables (except tomatoes and green beans) and add them to the saucepan with the garlic and onion. Salt and pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add tofu, tomatoes, herbs and cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer ten minutes, until vegetables are tender but still slightly al dente. Add the cooked green beans and heat through 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve.

This dish can be cooked in advance and reheated, but it is not advisable to freeze. 

Serve the ratatouille with rice or quinoa.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Pot Luck Pasta Salad

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A fellow letterboxer brought a delicious pasta salad to our meet up in May.  I begged for the recipe and she sent it to me.

Whole package of tricolor spiral pasta
Whole cucumber, sliced up and cut in half
Whole plastic container of grape tomatoes, tomatoes cut in half
Whole jar of pitted kalamata olives (make sure to drain the brine well before using)
Whole yellow or orange pepper, diced
Whole red onion, diced
Bunch of green onions, diced
Whole package of kraft crumbled feta cheese (I like the one with oregano)
Whole small bottle of balsamic salad dressing (for the picnic, I used the real olive oil kraft version with fig - I like the sweetness of it)

Cook the noodles and then mix everything together. It's nice warm, too - but let it chill in the fridge if you like it cold. If you're making it the night before (like I did), it's better to leave out the salad dressing until the day of then mix it in - the noodles suck up the dressing like crazy and it dries out a bit if you put it in early.


Thanks Jo aka Bumble

Baked Tofu with Braised Baby Bok Choy -- DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE

Image result for tofu bok choy

1 lb (454 g) firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 Asian chili paste or hot pepper sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups sliced shitake mushroom caps or cremini mushrooms
1 green onion, sliced
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
4 baby bok choy
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper

Place tofu on large plate. Cover with second plate and weigh down with 2 large, heavy cans. Let stand for 10 minutes; drain. Cut in half horizontally.

Meanwhile, in shallow baking dish large enough to hold tofu in single layer, whisk together soy and hoisin sauces, garlic, sesame oil and chili paste. Add tofu; turn to coat. (This can be done up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to complete the meal.) Bake in 350F oven, turning once, until golden, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, green onion and ginger until golden, about 5 minutes. Cut bok choy in half lengthwise. Add to skillet along with red pepper, stock, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Cover and steam until bok choy is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

Cut each piece of tofu in half diagonally. (I cut the tofu into little squares which is what I prefer.) Arrange on warmed plates and serve with bok choy mixture and basmati rice (or I like rice vermicelli).

Serves 4.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Carrot and Leeks with Fresh Mint

Image result for carrots and leeks

2 servings
Preparation 10 minutes
Cooking 50 minutes
170 calories per serving

2 carrots, cut into 1 cm rounds
1 leek, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp ginger root, grated
2 tbsp fresh mint
salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the carrots and cut them into rounds about 1 cm thick.  Prepare the leeks, remove about 1/4 of the dark green part, and cut them into 2 cm pieces.

Transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet or dish.  Add the oil, minced ginger, salt and pepper.  Mix well to coat thoroughly with oil, then put in the oven and bake about 35 minutes.

Finely chop half of the mint leaves then add them to the dish, mix and continue baking for about 15 minutes more.  Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Italian Meatballs

Image result for italian meatballs

4 servings

1 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 slices whole wheat bread, stale or day-old
2 cups My Mother's Tomato Sauce (below)
40 g mortadella sausage or ham, finely chopped
1 tbsp marjoram, fresh, finely chopped
1 large egg
400 g lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp bread crumbs

These meatballs can be either baked in the oven or fried. If using baking method preheat the oven to 400F and lightly oil a baking dish. If frying, preheat peanut oil to 350F in an electric fryer or large skillet.

Put the bread slices in a small bowl then cover them with water. Let soak 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make tomato sauce.

Drain the bread well in a sieve, then squeeze it to remove most of the liquid. Finely chop the bread and add it to a bowl. Finely chop the mortadella and marjoram, then add them to the bowl. Add the egg and ground beef, followed by salt and pepper.

Using your hands, blend the mixture together until it is just combined well. Form the mixture into small balls (about the size of golf balls), then flatten them slightly and coat them with the bread crumbs. Plan on about 3-4 meatballs per serving.

Baking: Transfer the meatballs to the previously oiled dish, then cook in the middle of the oven 12-15 minutes until they are golden-brown, turning them once. Deep-frying: Working in batches, deep-fry the meatballs about 4-5 minutes per side until they are golden-brown, then set them on paper towels to drain.

Transfer the meatballs ot the pan with the tomato sauce then continue to cook 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat, turning them once. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.

I served these yummy meatballs with pasta . . . of course . . . 

These meatballs may be served at room temperature. They are ideal for a picnic, served with a few slices of bread. 

My Mother's Tomato Sauce

makes 2-1/2 cups

1-2/3 cup canned tomatoes (diced or chopped)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

A food processor to chop the vegetables and a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time would make things easier with this recipe.

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.

Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped vegetables. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times; the vegetables must soften without burning. Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

If you are using a pressure cooker, cover, close and bring to high pressure. Cook 15 minutes from the time it starts to spatter (Follow the manufacturer's directions to determine when high pressure has been reached. If you are not using a pressure cooker, simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

This sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze larger quantities.