food amongst family and friends

Slow cooked BBQ Pork stew October 30, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Pork,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:07 am
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Yet another recipe straight out of Canadian Living; once in a while they put out a real gem of an issue. This was healthy and easy and a nice change from the usual sort of stew flavours. Plus I love slow cooker recipes that don’t involve any sort of browning or cooking at the beginning; you just dump everything in, turn it on low and move on with your day. I would recommend chopping up the meat, onion and potatoes the night before to make this really quick and easy in the morning. Also, this called for a pork shoulder blade roast, which I got, but will not do again; it was way too fatty and I spent a ton of time trimming it. I have purchased pork shoulder roasts that I think would work just fine and not have all that extra fat or a loin roast for that matter if you shy away from the darker, fattier cuts of pork all together. Also, I have added in a Tbsp of agave syrup, but maple syrup or even brown sugar would work, it just needed a little sweetness to bring out the flavours. Also, BBQ flavours require worchestershire sauce in my book, so I added that in to; in other words, make it your own, this is just what I did. And like all good stews and chilis, this was better as leftovers, I think the flavours benefited from sitting for a day.

3 lb pork roast (shoulder is ideal, but go with what you want), cubed

2 onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 bay leaves

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp each, cumin, coriander, oregano

1/2 tsp each, dry mustard, salt and pepper

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup passata (strained tomatoes, find it usually with the pasta/pasta sauces)

1 cup chicken broth

3 Tbsp each, molasses and cider vinegar

1 Tbsp agave syrup

a few good shakes of worchestershire sauce

3 Tbsp flour

a big bunch of rapini, roughly chopped (about 4 cups) – the original recipe used kale, but rapini goes over a lot better with my gang. Basically any really hearty green should work.

1. In your big slow cooker, combine pork through salt and pepper, then top with sweet potatoes.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together passata, broth, molasses, vinegar, agave syrup and worchestershire sauce. Pour over pork mixture and cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. Remove one cup of liquid from the pot and stir to combine with the flour. Add back in to pot, stirring to combine. Top with rapini and cover and cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until the gravy has thickened and the rapini is wilted.

We had ours with this quick apple cheddar bread, which was amazing (and the leftovers toasted and smothered in peanut butter was to die for).




Two Cakes October 28, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts,Make Ahead,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:53 pm
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Two cakes for two seasons: a rhubarb ice box cake for Spring and a pumpkin cake for Fall. They both made my “repeat this recipe soon” list and I’m late posting both of them, so they’re here together!

The ice box cake is delightful in the Spring or Summer, but I think I will make it anytime I have rhubarb kicking around. I had big plans to make a few of these and leave a constant supply in my freezer, but luckily my freezer is small and will not allow for such gluttonous behaviour. I found the recipe in the August Bon Appetit and I made it word-for-word, so I will just link to the recipe here. The ginger snap crust is filled with tart, rhubarb ice cream and topped with a mixture of whipped cream and creme fraiche. The creamy top has very little sugar and is exactly how you imagine frozen whipped cream to taste – heaven.

The pumpkin cake is another score from Bon Appetit and I have already made it twice since Thanksgiving. I modified the recipe as I’m not a fan of raisins and excessive chunks in my cake. I also up the booze and zest content in any recipe as a general rule, so I applied that here as well. I tried making this as both a 2-layer and 4-layer cake. While a 4-layer cake always looks impressive, the 2-layer version tasted better in this cake. The frosting overpowers the cake when you get into too many layers and this cake has a lovely flavour of its own. Save yourself the hassle of constructing 4 layers and let it be a floppy, 2-layer mess. J’s sister told me that the messy 2 layers looked artistic. Thanks Lan – I will bring dessert to your house anytime.


Spicy Zesty Pumpkin Layer Cake, serves 10

3 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 T cinnamon
2 t ginger
1 3/4 t allspice
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 T vanilla extract
1 heaped T orange zest

1 8-ounce package light cream cheese
10 T unsalted butter
2 T spiced rum
2 t vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper, then dust pans with flour.

2. Sift together flour thru nutmeg.

3. Beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until it looks grainy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add pumpkin, vanilla and zest, beating until well blended.

4. Add flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Pour batter into the 2 pans and smooth the tops.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans then invert cakes onto cooling racks and remove parchment paper. Turn cakes over and trim the rounded tops to make them level.

6. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, then mix in the rum and vanilla. Beat in the sugar 1 cup at a time and stop adding sugar when the frosting is stiff enough to spread and not slide off the cake. You should use 4-4.5 cups of sugar.

7. When the cake has cooled, assemble as follows: 1 layer of cake, 1/2 the icing, second layer of cake, 1/2 the icing. Easy peasy!


Amla Chickpeas

The changing weather has reminded me how much I love these chickpeas, another stellar recipe from the Indian Slow Cooker cookbook (slightly adapted). This is one that you can quickly throw in the slow cooker in the morning; when you’re ready for dinner, you put on the rice and can finish the chickpeas and make a salad in the time the rice takes to cook. This is another “quadruple threat” meal: cheap, easy, healthy and tasty. If you like having meals in the freezer, make 1.5 times the recipe and freeze the leftovers.


makes 4 XL servings or 6 medium servings

3 cups dry chickpeas, washed ($1)
1 bag black tea ($.10)
4 cups water
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced ($.25)
1/2 big tomato, chopped ($.35)
1″ piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced ($.10)
2 cloves garlic, chopped ($.10)
1 green chili, chopped ($.10)
1 T chana masala, or a mix of your fave Indian spices ($.20)
1 t red chili powder ($.05)
1 t kosher salt ($.05)
1/2 t turmeric powder ($.05)
2 1/2 t whole cumin seeds ($.25)
3-4  T olive oil ($1)
1/2 lemon, juiced ($.35)
fresh cilantro ($.20)

1. In the morning, throw the chickpeas, water and tea bag in the slow cooker and set on high for 7 hours. If you’re home, stir it a couple of times throughout the day. If not, don’t sweat it.

2. When you get home, throw out the tea bag, give the chickpeas a stir and put your rice on to cook.

3. Make a well in the top of the chickpeas and pile in the onion thru cumin seeds – ensure that the cumin seeds are on top.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it starts to steam; pour the hot oil over the pile of spices and veggies in small circles so that you hear the cumin and onion crackle. Put the slow cooker lid back on and let sit 10-15 minutes.

5. Add the lemon juice and cilantro and mix well. Serve over rice with a salad or veggie on the side.

The total cost of this recipe as posted is $4.15 – that’s a per plate cost of $0.69 (based on 6 servings). Adding in 6 servings of rice ($1.50) and a basic seasonal salad ($2), you can have a complete meal for 6 people for $7.65, or $1.28 per plate.


Tasty and good for you Carrot Muffins October 27, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Make Ahead,Muffins — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:56 am
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When I saw this recipe in Canadian Living, I knew I had to try it, because they had already done everything I do to all my favourite muffin recipes; replaced fats with yogurt, cut the sugar, upped the spice and made it whole grain. And other than adding in some raisins and spelt flour, I had nothing left to change. These are tasty and spicy and moist and you can feel good about eating them or feeding them to your kids (mine ate these right up). Plus, browned butter; who knew what that could do to a muffin?

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, loosely packed

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt (I used fat free greek style)

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/3 cup ground flax seeds

2 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Pinch ground cloves

3/4 cup raisins

1. Brown butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, by melting it, then cooking until it stops foaming and browned bits appear on the bottom, swirling occasionally. This should take about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350 and prep 12 large muffin tins or 24 mini muffin tins (I did half and half).

3. Whisk together flours, flaxseeds, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together browned butter with sugar, then beat in eggs and yogurt, finally adding the carrots. Add dry ingredients and raisins to the wet ingredients and stir just to combine.

4. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake big muffins for about 23 minutes, small ones for 15-18 minutes or until the top springs back to a light touch. Let cool in tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.





Apple Pie – It’s Gouda! October 20, 2011

Filed under: Baking,pastry — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:23 am
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Usually when I make apple pie it’s an assembly line attempt to use up all the apples from my tree, and I don’t really put any thought or effort into it. But this time I had come across some lovely honeycrisp apples from Washington and the first bite made my brain scream pie, so I thought I would step it up a bit. I also had some lovely Grizzly Aged gouda from Sylvan Star Cheese Farm, and since gouda and apples are a match made in cheese heaven, I thought I would try my hand at a gouda crust. I will be making this again for sure; the apples were perfect for pie and the gouda crust let it stand well on its own (although the Bourbon Ice Cream Katie brought topped it off beautifully as well). I also made some savory crackers out of the leftover crust that we all agreed were perfect for having with wine and olives (or maybe a tapenade?). Anyway, cheese crust will make it into my regular pie rotation for sure; so many cheeses, so little time.


2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup lard

6 Tbsp sour cream (or yogurt)

1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded old gouda (easy subs would be aged cheddar or gruyere)

1. I used my food processor to shred the cheese, then switched the grater for the blade and added in the flour and salt, then pulsed a couple times to mix. If you don’t have a food processor just stir it together in a bowl.

2. Cube the lard, then add to flour mixture. Either pulse or use a pastry cutter until crumbly looking, then add in sour cream, a tablespoon at a time until it starts to come together (I almost always use all 6 Tbsps).

3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until everything is staying together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for half an hour.


2 1/2 to 3 lbs baking apples (I used 7 big apples), peeled, cored and sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup each, white and brown sugar

1 rounded tsp cinnamon

1 or 2 dashes each, nutmeg and allspice (I like apple pie fairly spicy, if you don’t, cut the cinnamon in half and skip the allspice)

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch

1. Toss apples with lemon juice, then stir in sugars and spices (through salt). Allow to sit and macerate for at least half an hour, and up to 3 hours.

2. Drain the juice out of the apples and into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the butter and bring to a simmer to reduce the liquid. I had about a cup of juices and I reduced them roughly in half, however, I don’t think you would want much less than 1/2 a cup of liquid, so reduce accordingly.

3. Meanwhile, toss the cornstarch in with the apples, stirring until the cornstarch is no longer visible. Once the juices are reduced, add them back in with the apples and stir to combine.

4. Take out your pastry and cut in half. Roll each pastry out to fit your pan (I have become a big fan of metal pie plates, as the bottom crust crisps up much better). I found this dough a little trickier to work with, so flour your surface and rolling pin well.

5. Place bottom crust in plate, then add filling and top with your second sheet of pastry. Trim and pinch your crust, then slice a few vent holes in the top.

6. Bake at 450 for ten minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for another40-50 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling (you can see in the vent holes). After the first ten minutes, add an edge protector or cover the edge of the crust with foil to prevent over browning (I was out of foil, as you can probably see from the picture).

7. Let cool for a couple of hours before serving.




Everything but the Kitchen Sink Chicken Stew October 17, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Mains,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:07 pm
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Ah, sweet, sweet comfort food. This was a great way to use up a random smattering of vegetables from the CSA and prepare dinner early then throw it in the oven on a timer so that it was ready to eat when we got back from dance class. I can see this dish as being completely different every time I make it, just depending on what I have in the house, but my one suggestion would be to make sure you have fresh tomatoes and you chop them big and put them on top of everything else so that they roast more than stew. The tanginess of roasted tomatoes made this stew. Thanks ELS for the inspiration.

4 – 6 chicken thighs, skin removed (the bone adds a nice flavour to the stewing juices here, so don’t go boneless if you don’t have to)

1/4 -1/3 cup flour (1/3 if using 6 thighs)

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tsp each, garlic salt, basil, oregano and thyme

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 cloves of garlic, quartered

1 large onion (red, white, yellow, whatever), chunked

1 – 2 tsp of olive oil as needed

enough chopped veggies to fill your dutch oven 3/4 up (I used carrots, potatoes, turnips, yellow summer squash and golden beets)

3 big tomatoes, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to tase

1 tsp thyme

3/4 cup each, white wine and chicken stock

1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Combine flour with spices on a plate and dredge the chicken in it to coat, then brown the chicken, about 3 minutes a side.

2. Remove chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon, then add onion and garlic to oven, along with more oil, if necessary. Saute until translucent, then put chicken back in on top, all your veggies on top of that, with the tomatoes as the crown on top. Pour over wine and stock, then sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

3. At this point, I put mine in the oven, set the timer for when I wanted it to start (about an hour or so after that) and then it cooked at 400 for an hour, I removed the lid and let it cook for another 15 – 20 minutes to thicken the gravy.  I think if you were to put it straight into the oven, you could probably shave off 15 minutes of the cooking time.





Vanessa’s Squash Mac & Cheese – Sort of October 14, 2011

Filed under: Ham,Mains,Pasta,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 4:21 pm
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I really did set out to make this exactly as the recipe stated, which is unusual for me, but I had just received my very own copy of my friend Vanessa’s cookbook, which she has spent countless hours putting together, and I was excited to pick a recipe and run with it. I had also just picked up my second to last CSA bundle, which contained what I thought was a nice, smallish spaghetti squash, so I thought I could make her Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese, and just sub the spaghetti squash in. But then I didn’t have macaroni, I only had fusilli, and I didn’t have ricotta cheese or regular breadcrumbs (and I was too lazy to make my own), plus I had a bunch of broccoli that needed to be used up, as well as some leftover ham. So I finally determined that I would sub in what I could, skip the ricotta entirely this time, use Panko breadcrumbs, and add in some ham and broccoli to round out the meal.  And then I cut into my ‘spaghetti squash’ to find this:

If anyone knows what the heck kind of squash that is, please, let me know.

Regardless, the meal was a success; it was tasty and surprisingly filling and the girls loved it without me having to sell them on the merits of squash. Plus it made enough for a meal of leftovers for after swimming, which makes me happy. So thanks Vanessa, and congratulations on your cookbook, I can tell it is one we will be getting a lot of use out of!

1 small butternut squash (or, apparently, whatever kind of winter squash you happen to have handy), peeled, seeded, and diced

1 cup vegetable broth (I used bouillion, as I didn’t have any broth)

1 1/2 cups of milk

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of whole wheat pasta (I think rigatoni, penne, or something heavier like that would be best)

4 oz extra sharp cheddar (I used an old white one)

4 Tbsp grated parmesan (divided)

1/2 cup part – skim ricotta (I skipped this, but will try it next time)

2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs

1 tsp olive oil

Broccoli florets, about 1 1/2 cups, steamed (optional)

1/2 cup finely diced, cooked ham (optional)

1. Combine squash, stock and milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce heat to medium and cook until squash is fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your squash.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just barely al dente, maybe even a little firmer (it will cook a bit more in the oven), then drain, rinse with cold water, and return to pot.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a 3 quart casserole dish. Puree squash mixture, using either an immersion blender or an old school one. Add puree to pasta along with the salt, pepper, cayenne, cheddar, ricotta and half the parmesan. If using the broccoli and ham, add now as well. Give everything a good stir, then dump into the casserole dish.

4. Stir together the remainder of the parmesan, bread crumbs, and olive oil, then sprinkle over top of the pasta. Give the top a good salt and pepper as well, then bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Feeds 6 hungry people or 8 moderately hungry people.