Yesterday I was thinking of going to Costco to buy chocolate but decided to go bowling with the Travel League instead. LOL. Now that’s interesting, I wanted to do a g for grin inside brackets but instead got a gift box. Never knew that before. So anyway, it was our Travel League yesterday and we headed off to New Hamburg (about half an hour out of town) and ate at The Old Country Restaurant. Then on to the bowling alley where I tried something slightly new and bowled much better than I did on Monday so I was a happy camper. Sadly Matt was not bowling too well. There is another a very good restaurant in New Hamburg called The Waterlot where we used to go for dinner and often for Sunday brunch. We haven’t been there for years but one of our friends said it is very expensive these days. Pity.
Now here’s an odd article, they are apparently making crash test dummies fatter to match American drivers. It turns out that obese drivers are more at risk of death. They say 35% of drivers are obese. Not exclusive to American drivers of course. Next thing you know there will be diet programmes for crash test dummies. This one on the right certainly looks pretty obese. I hate that word, I'd rather hear fat than obese however medically correct it might be.
These look pretty good, but at 218 calories per serving, not sure I would eat them. Well, not a full serving anyway.
Crunchy wheat cereal, pretzels and almonds coated in bittersweet chocolate makes an addictive sweet-salty snack.
1 cup Wheat Chex cereal, 2 ounces
1 cup pretzel sticks, broken in half; 2 ounces
1/4 cup salted roasted almonds, 2 1/2 ounces
3 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Combine Chex, pretzels and almonds in a medium bowl. Drizzle with melted chocolate; stir to combine. Spread the mixture on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
I had this already to publish when I got an email from Costco. They are advertising a chocolate gift basket, full of lots of different chocolates and quite a lot of it. But it's $1,699.99. I am absolutely gobsmacked. Who in their right minds would pay that much for a basket of chocolate. OK it's full of good stuff such as Lindt and Godiva, but I just couldn't believe anyone would pay that much not even a company. For that kind of money I would want something in gold not just something which disappears over time.
Hallowe’en is getting close now. I am being inundated with spooky recipes which I just have to share with you. I couldn’t resist these cookies, biscuits in England of course.
Let a friendly bat perch on your glass of milk or cuppa this Halloween with these spooky biscuits - add vanilla buttercream for bourbons
125g butter, softened
85g icing sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk
175g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tsp fine espresso-style powder coffee (I used Azeera)
50g cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
100g bar dark or milk chocolate
chocolate hundreds and thousands
coloured writing icing (or make your own with 100g icing sugar, 3-4 tsp water and some colouring)
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and pale, then beat in the yolk, the vanilla and milk. Sift the flour, coffee, cocoa and salt into the bowl, then mix together to make a soft dough. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap and chill for 15 mins.
Dust the dough all over with a little flour, then roll it between two large sheets of baking parchment, to the thickness of a £1 coin. Remove the top layer of the paper, stamp shapes with an 8cm bat (or other) cutter, and carefully lift to the lined sheets using a palette knife. Re-roll the trimmings. Cut a 1.5cm x 5mm notch at the base of each bat’s body. This is about right to sit the bats on thick tumblers; if your glasses are finer-edged, make the notches thinner so that the bats stay put. Bake for 10 mins or until the biscuits feel sandy and smell rich and chocolatey. Cool on the sheets for 5 mins, then lift the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To decorate, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. One biscuit at a time, brush chocolate over the bat ears and wings with a small paintbrush, then cover with chocolate sprinkles. Tap off the excess. Pipe faces and fangs onto your bats, then leave to dry. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Then there’s these spidery eggs from My Recipes. Now this one I would advise you to make your favourite recipe for devilled eggs and then just add the spider decoration.
Halloween Spooky Spider Devilled Eggs
By Lighthouse Rita
6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash.
2. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.
3. Cut whole olive in half.
4. Put one half on mashed yolk for the spiders body.
5. Thinly slice the other half for the spiders legs. Put four legs on each side.
I have been talking about getting enough leafy greens in to my diet so Tuesday morning I made myself a smoothie with 1 cup skim milk, a good handful of mixed kale and chard and a banana. It was delicious. Very simple to make. I meant to add flax seeds but forgot so I will tomorrow. I eat a banana every day anyway – good for cramp which I get a lot of thanks to cholesterol meds. It replaces my regular breakfast which is 181 calories and adds 116 so that isn’t a bad substitute. The banana is already built into my diet. Having read a lot of smoothie recipes I wasn’t sure how this would turn out but it was fine. Gave me the best part of two glasses. I did think of adding a touch of honey if I needed it, but it was quite sweet enough.
The film about Paddington Bear is due to be released in the UK for Christmas. There are several trailers, this is one of them. I will be certain sure to go and see this movie, it looks hilarious. There is another trailer on Facebook which is even funnier.
If you are on Facebook do look at the latest trailer, as I said, it is even funnier than this one. Just go to the Paddington Bear page.
I mentioned that I was reading Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward. I have now finished it and put up a review on Goodreads. It was an excellent book with a great story. OK some of the science was a bit beyond me, but it didn't detract from the story. The concept of a race living on a neutron star who live 100 years in one of our hours was absolutely fascinating. I have ordered the sequel from my library because I enjoyed it so much.
Having some beef, admittedly already cooked, I thought this sounded adaptable.
Ginger Beef Salad with Miso Vinaigrette
Skip the grated cheese and croutons and serve an Asian-inspired salad with homemade seven-ingredient vinaigrette. Serve with soba noodles, followed by dessert.
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons white miso (soybean paste)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
6 cups torn Bibb lettuce (about 3 small heads)
3/4 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Sprinkle steak evenly with ginger, salt, and garlic. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.
3. Combine cilantro and next 6 ingredients (through chile paste) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle half of miso mixture over lettuce mixture; toss to coat.
4. Place 1 1/2 cups lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each with 3 ounces steak; top with miso mixture.
Dessert: Heat 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup torn mint, and 1/4 cup water until sugar melts. Strain; cool. Stir in 4 cups halved strawberries.
I’ve just started a book called Dragon’s Egg (no nothing to do with dragons) by Robert L. Forward, which is pretty scientific and at first I wasn’t sure I was going to continue as there was so much science, but I persevered and am now enjoying it. However there was one bit which said there were 4 black holes in the sun and that it would fail in a few million years but that humanity, having decided there was nothing we could do was ignoring it and hoping it would go away – what a very true statement about our attitude. Think of global warning. The existence of black holes in the sun is fictional by the way. Not that any of us would be around to see what happened. There is a report of a star managing to evade being swallowed by a black hole which has scientists somewhat amazed. They can’t believe it happened and with only minor damage. The picture shows plasma being drawn off a star as it passes a black hole. The book is actually turning out to be a very good one - it is an old book (1980) which has been re-issued.
Bowling yesterday was disastrous to say the least. My average dropped by 3 points. A woman on our team, who is generally not a very good bowler, beat me in all three games. Matt didn’t do that well either. Oh well, having to throw practically every ball due to a lack of strikes and spares means I got lots of exercise. Thursday we are bowling in the Travel League; we are in New Hamburg this month. Let’s hope we do better, although of course it doesn’t matter that much not like the league scores. The way this little picture works is better than I was bowling most of the time. I could NOT get the head pin.
I like Kraft recipes they are so easy to do.
New Classic Chicken Bake
Boneless chicken breasts are baked to tender, juicy perfection in this delicious new take on the classic chicken bake.
What You Need
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
3 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 cups milk
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lb.)
1 tsp. oil
HEAT oven to 350°F. PREPARE stuffing as directed on package. WHISK flour and milk in large microwaveable bowl until blended. Microwave on HIGH 4 min., stirring after 2 min. Add broccoli, cheese and thyme; mix well. COOK chicken in hot oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 3 to 5 min. on each side or until browned on both sides. Place in 13x9-inch baking dish; top with vegetable mixture and stuffing. BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF).
Kraft Kitchens Tips
Serve with a mixed green salad and your favorite fresh fruit to round out the meal.
Prepare using your favourite flavour of STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix.
Thursday we dropped into the mall where we do our grocery shopping and I bumped into an acquaintance from our building who told me she had just had a flu shot at the pharmacy in the supermarket. We thought we would go and get ours done. Should have gone to our regular pharmacy, I had to fill in forms up the kazoo and when we went last year our regular pharmacy filled those in for us. However, it’s all done now and I have a sore arm. Matt never has a problem. We have been having flu shots for years. Of course we get them free. Last year in North Carolina I saw they were charging $20 for them. I wonder how many people bother – that would mount up for a family.
We needed our car undersprayed for the winter. However, they told us we had to have 3 dry days before they could do it. Friday Matt was finally able to go and much to his horror there were cars lined up all round the block. I guess we weren’t the only ones waiting for the weather to dry up. This is, of course, very important in Canada because of our winters with lots of ice and snow on the roads and heavy doses of salt as well. When Matt phoned me to tell me he wasn’t sure how long he would be, he figured he might get home around supper time!! He actually got home shortly after 11 so it wasn’t that bad. Apparently they had 4 guys working at spraying and two at sorting out the cars and issuing them with numbers. $73.35 which is 35 cents up on last time. Not too bad. Matt was #32 by the way.
I have recently started a problem with flaky nails and checking on reasons, one possibility is that I am not getting enough leafy greens. Could be as I seem to have “gone off” those I used to love. Kale is touted as a miracle green these days and coming across this one I thought it sounded good. I have never heard of Cotija cheese so I have linked it to Wikipedia.
Shrimp-and-Potato Cakes with Kale Braised in Chile Broth
Food and Wine
Contributed by Silvia McCollow
Husband-and-wife team Cory and Silvia McCollow make this elegant dish at their Oakland, California restaurant using local ingredients. It's popular during the spring because the crispy cakes showcase seafood (eaten more frequently during Lent) and scallions or spring onions, as well as greens.
2 baking potatoes (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions, finely chopped, plus 1 thinly sliced scallion, for garnish
2 serrano chiles—stemmed, seeded and minced
3/4 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the saucepan to dry and cool completely. Using a box grater, coarsely grate the potatoes into a large bowl.
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the finely chopped scallions and the serranos and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the scallions and serranos to the potatoes and let cool.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Add the shrimp, egg, 2 tablespoons each of Cotija and chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon of salt to the potatoes and fold gently to combine. Form the mixture into 6 patties, a scant 3/4 inch thick and transfer them to the baking sheet. Refrigerate the cakes until just chilled, about 20 minutes.
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of canola oil until shimmering. Add 3 of the shrimp cakes and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cakes to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining 3 cakes.
Spoon the kale into shallow bowls and top with the shrimp cakes. Garnish with Cotija, chopped cilantro and the sliced scallions and serve right away.
An brilliant vegetarian twist on the classic French dish of potato gratin - you can also make it ahead
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large red chilli, seeded and chopped
700g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into wedges and peeled, then cut into chunks
450g potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
6-8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
140g dolcelatte cheese, cubed
50g parmesan, finely grated
150ml vegetable stock
284ml carton double cream
For the topping
140g fresh white breadcrumbs
25g walnuts, chopped
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
The gratin can be prepared up to 3-4 hours before baking.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until starting to soften (about 5 minutes). Lift the onions out with a slotted spoon and place in an ovenproof dish.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan, then tip in the garlic, chilli, pumpkin chunks, chopped potatoes and sage and toss them together in the hot oil until lightly browned all over. (This takes 5-6 minutes.) Add to the dish containing the onion.
Scatter the two sorts of cheese over the vegetables, season and toss together until well mixed. Combine the stock and cream and pour over the vegetables.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the breadcrumbs and walnuts together until lightly browned. Stir in the parsley and scatter the crumbly mixture over the top of the vegetables. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Serve hot, with a chicory salad.
Sorry no blog yesterday, I just couldn’t scare up any enthusiasm to write about anything. I am toying with the idea of writing a blog less frequently than I do at present.
I told you about my socks and the survey I had to complete. At least one other woman I heard about was doing the same trial but her legs were bigger than mine and she couldn’t get on with them. My foot nurse is going to check, but it is probable I might get these socks as well. Whoopee. That should do me for socks for a long, long time and all for free.
We’ve been having a lot of rain lately. We are waiting to get the underspraying done on the car and we need 3 dry days before they will do it. Yesterday was dry and according to the forecast today and tomorrow will be.
Canada is a bit stunned at the moment because of the attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa which ended in the tragic death of a soldier on guard, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, and the not so tragic death of the perpetrator. I guess we will never know exactly what he was intending. Everywhere flags are flying at half mast in honour of the soldier and there was a ceremony in parliament (caught a bit of it on TV whilst bowling) in his honour as well. The shootist’s mother said she was crying for the soldier but not for her son. This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often in Canada so it comes as quite a shock to the populace.
Smoked trout is absolutely delicious and curried anything is usually very good. This recipe is from Food and Wine.
Chef Adam Evans uses any kind of smoked white fish (grouper, snapper, flounder) for the fragrant rice he serves. For a milder dish, seed and de-rib the chile before mincing.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced Thai bird chili
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
3 cups leftover or cooked and cooled basmati rice
1 cup flaked smoked trout (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and light green parts only
1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
In a large skillet, melt the butter over moderately high heat. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, ginger, chili, garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the rice and trout and cook, stirring once or twice, until the rice is toasted and crisped, about 3 minutes. Using a spoon, make a hole in the middle of the rice and pour in the olive oil. Add the eggs and let them cook, undisturbed, until the bottom starts to set. Stir in the basil, cilantro, mint and scallions and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the fried rice to a serving platter, sprinkle with the peanuts and serve immediately.
Recipe Corner this is a link to the MP3s I have of me on the radio at various times talking about recipes. I think it will work OK. When you download any one of the “Me on Radio” links the first time it will ask you to link it to a player. Mine went to Windows Media Player. Once you have done it one time, it will automatically link to it each time you play one. I have actually done 7 radio spots now, # 6 was too big apparently, but there are 5 links here. Yesterday’s I don’t yet have of course. When I did my recipe spot yesterday the DJ asked if I enjoyed Hallowe’en – never thought about it before, but I guess I do although we don’t see much of it any more living in an apartment block. Years ago a friend used to have parties and they were great fun. Somewhere we have a picture of Matt in drag. Two other friends came in diapers (husband and wife) dressed as babies with soothers and rattles, Matt kept offering to change the female's diapers!! I’ll have to look for it, I think it’s probably on a slide.
Watching Jeopardy I learnt about the Shakespeare Mas in which brightly dressed Peirrots engage in a battle of wits using only lines from Shakespearean plays. The competitor without a quick reply earns a playful stroke from his opponent's stick. I assume that should be Pierrots. This takes place in Carriacou in the Caribbean and is part of their festival. which takes place before Lent. That would be absolutely fascinating and I would love to be there. I couldn’t do it any more but I was pretty good at Shakespeare once upon a time.
I posted these cookies for Hallowe’en last year but thought I would do so again, they are such fun.
Broken Finger Cookies
“Fingernails” made from almonds or banana chips add a realistic touch. But avoid the nuts if allergy is an issue. Courtesy of Jennifer Low
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons red cake-decorating sugar
20 whole blanched almonds OR 20 pieces banana chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat until mixture is no longer “scratchy” sounding against bowl. Beat in egg, vanilla and salt.
In separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder (tip for measuring flour: stir flour, spoon into measuring cup, then level).
Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Switch to working in flour mixture with hands when dough gets too stiff to beat.
Knead into smooth dough. Roll into 3/4-inch thick “ropes”. Break ropes into 3-inch sections. Pat one end smooth. Dip tip of other end of each piece into milk then red sugar.
Place on lined baking sheet. Pressing in sides of rope to prevent flattening, insert almond or piece of banana chip into rounded end. Repeat process to make 20 fingers.
Bake on middle rack of oven 17 minutes, or until dough is lightly golden.
For those of you who have asked about hearing the radio spot I am doing today, I have been looking into adding MP3s to my blog. I think I’ve made a start but it is a tad complicated and I am not quite sure what the hell I am doing. Ve shall see. I will persevere. I found a helpful site by googling so I think I have created a media page. Unfortunately I am currently on my laptop and the MP3s I already have of radio interviews are on my desktop which hubby is using to play Bookworm at the moment.
Bowling was moderately good. My average stayed the same, Matt’s went up by 1. I like to wear black socks when bowling as – particularly in bad weather – one is required to take off shoes at the entry and then walk shoeless to one’s lane area. Wetness on bowling shoes can be very dangerous when actually bowling. Needless to say, white socks become filthy (also very difficult to get clean) so I wear black. Some months ago I ordered some black diabetes socks from our foot nurse. I got the white ones but she had got me beige instead of black. She phoned me last week and it turns out that the manufacturer, Simcan, have someone new making these socks and they wanted to collect opinions. So long as I fill in forms, I now have 4 pairs of socks free. Suits me. 3 pair of white cost me $15 so I guess I have saved $20 just by filling in a few forms for 4 days running.
Here’s another interesting recipe from MyRecipes.
Lime-Cilantro Pork Tacos
4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos)
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and black pepper. Add oil to pan. Add pork, and sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Remove pork from pan; place in a bowl. Add onion and jalapeño to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add broth; reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in tomato; simmer 2 minutes.
Return pork and accumulated juices to pan. Stir in cilantro and lime juice; cook 1 minute or until pork is done.
Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/2 cup pork mixture into each tortilla; roll up.
Browning the pork improves its color, and the browned bits enrich the sauce's flavour. Add more jalapeño pepper if you enjoy spicy food. Use the same pan to brown the pork and make the rave-worthy sauce.
We had been invited to a retirement party on Saturday. We turned up there at around 8 as requested. There was absolutely nobody there that we knew, not even the retiree and his wife or his daughter; the son we don’t really know and grandkids we wouldn’t have known anyway. All the people that were there looked like they had escaped from kindergarten. I had a glass of wine and we stayed for about half an hour and then – feeling like fish out of water – we came back home. We were also somewhat overdressed. Presumably the idea was to have the retiree arrive late as a surprise, we didn’t realise that otherwise we might have arrived later ourselves. Not really our scene anyway. Not only that, Matt doesn’t drink on such occasions so it is less enjoyable for him.
Today of course is our bowling league so keep your fingers crossed that I continue to bowl well. I hope Matt bowls well too of course.
Tomorrow, Tuesday at 11:30 I am going to be talking about the Black Widow Spider recipe which I posted the other day. This will be on the local radio station and then I will post it on their Facebook page. I must admit I think it is one of the best Hallowe’en recipes I have ever seen. I even found myself looking at twigs to make the legs the other day even though I will not be making it. There’s only us after all.
Here’s something very different – we enjoy stuffed vine leaves (grape leaves) done by the Greeks, dolmas, they are absolutely delicious. However this is another take on stuffing the leaves. Be warned, it’s not that easy to roll them up. Although these are basically just folded so maybe it won’t be difficult.
Grape Leaf-Wrapped Salmon with Serrano-Scallion Sauce
Food and Wine’s Justin Chapple makes a quick, creamy sauce spiced with hot serrano chiles that’s terrific with luscious roast salmon fillets.
16 large jarred grape leaves, drained and patted dry
1 cup orange or yellow grape tomatoes, halved
5 scallions, julienned, plus 2 tablespoons minced scallion
3 serranos with seeds, halved and thinly sliced
Four 6-ounce, skinless salmon fillets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 450° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the grape leaves in groups of 4 on a work surface, overlapping them slightly. Mound the tomatoes, three-fourths of the julienned scallions and one-third of the sliced serranos in the center of the grape leaves and season lightly with salt and pepper. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place on top, then wrap the grape leaves around the fish. Carefully turn the packets seam side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the salmon is medium within. Transfer the packets to plates.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the minced scallion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cream and bring just to a simmer, then cook over moderately high heat, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining serranos and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Cut open the salmon packets and drizzle the sauce over the fish. Garnish with the remaining julienned scallions and serve right away.
Using Dijon mustard is very common in classic French cooking. It’s a flavorful way to build an elegant and interesting sauce for very little expense. Bold Dijon mustard gives the sauce for braised chicken depth and character and a surprising creaminess. If you don’t already have Dijon mustard in your pantry, it’s a worthy addition to your shopping list.
servings: Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (about
8), rinsed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tomato, cored, halved, and chopped, or 3/4 cup canned chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth, plus extra if needed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken on a cutting board and remove and discard the skin. Season the meat with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the thighs, smooth side down, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn over the thighs and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
2 Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil along with the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, and then add the tomato and flour and cook, stirring, until the tomato begins to break down, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tarragon. Raise the heat and pour in the wine, letting it simmer for 1 minute before returning the chicken to the pot. Pour in enough broth to reach halfway up the sides of the chicken, then cover the pot and place it in the oven to braise, until the chicken pulls away from the bone easily, about 45 minutes, removing the lid halfway through cooking.
3 Remove the pot from the oven, use tongs to transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside. Add the mustard and sour cream (if using) to the sauce and stir to combine. Then return the chicken to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes to bring the flavors together before serving.
I was delighted how well I bowled again yesterday. I just wish Matt could have bowled as well. He had some good frames but wasn’t able to turn them into really good scores. Last year I nearly got to an average of 160 and would really like to achieve that this winter.
It appears that in the Texas hospital where the two nurses caught Ebola had given no training to anyone to deal with this and from pictures it turns out that the nurses necks were uncovered!! I hope hospitals will be given training ASAP because you just never know who is going to land on your doorstep.
Passing our regular gas bar on the way to bowling we saw the price was $1.12 per litre. That’s the lowest we’ve seen in a very long time. However, in the headlines they are saying falling gas prices are hurting Alberta. Much of their gas is sold to the States anyway, although I heard a report the other day that the States were now producing as much gas as the middle east.
Having a Hallowe’en party? How about this for your table? By the way, I am going to be sharing this on my local radio station next Tuesday.
Sautéed shallots and feta cheese flavour this simple spread, which is a delicious hors d'oeuvre at any time of year. Here, it's formed into a spooky spider.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 very large shallots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
10 ounces fresh goat cheese, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces Greek feta cheese, at room temperature
Black sesame seeds, for garnish
1 piquillo pepper, for garnish
6-inch painted twigs, for spider legs
Crackers, flat breads and bread sticks
In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape the shallots into a food processor and let cool. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese and feta and puree until smooth. Scrape the cheese into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Shape one third of the cheese mixture into a ball and roll in black sesame seeds to coat; shape the remaining two-thirds into a larger ball and coat with black sesame seeds. On a serving board, press the balls together to form the head and body of a spider. Cut the piquillo pepper into 2 small triangles and place them on the body in an hourglass shape. Serve with crackers, flat breads or bread sticks.
Make Ahead The unformed cheese mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Wednesday morning we were finally expecting a painter to fix the wall/ceiling where there had been a leak so I got cracking as far as getting dressed was concerned. When I went into the bedroom to put on my clothes, I was struck by how nice the park looked and how good the colours were right outside our window. This picture looks better on my desktop and the colours really stand out. Hope they look good on your computer. This picture is particularly for Fil.
A propos, the leak damaged area has been fixed.
Today we are bowling again, just for a change. Actually this has been a somewhat boring week for us. I spent a fair time yesterday cooking. I had boiled up the turkey remains so today I made a vegetable soup. I also made Alice’s Beets but I left out the sugar, the beets are quite sweet enough. We ate some for supper, they are very good. Luckily I was wearing an old shirt as it is covered in beet juice. Not happy with the soup, something missing, Matt says seasoning, but I think it is lacking "mouth feel" if you know what I mean. I tried a spoonful with a tiny drop of olive oil in it, it seemed to be better.
Did everyone get frightened off by my conservation statistics? I haven’t had so few comments in a long while.
I was asked for more chocolate, here’s more chocolate from BBC Good Food. Of course, as I say so often, this would be so much better with thick English cream.
Espresso, chocolate and chilli cake with coffee cream
Serves 8 - 10
The warmth of coffee and chilli combine beautifully with chocolate in this impressive dinner party dessert, finish with double cream.
3 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for the tin
250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
250g salted butter, softened and chopped, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 red bird's-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
¼ tsp chilli powder (optional)
6 medium eggs, separated
4 tbsp brown sugar
175g caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
4 tbsp ground almonds
cocoa powder, to serve
For the coffee cream
300ml double cream
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin with soft butter and line the bottom with baking parchment. Shake a little flour around the buttered edges.
Melt the chocolate and butter together over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. Once melted, whisk together until smooth and add the espresso powder and chillies and chilli powder, if using. Whisk the egg yolks with the brown sugar and caster sugar, either in an electric mixer or with an electric hand whisk, for 5-10 mins until thick and pale. In a separate bowl, using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft rounded peaks form.
Pour the chocolate mixture onto the beaten yolks and sugar, and gently mix until smooth. Add the almonds and flour and mix again. Spoon the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 mins until the cake is set but with a slight jiggle in the centre. (If the cake is starting to brown too quickly, cover with a piece of baking parchment.)
Leave to cool in the tin – it will sink a little as it cools. Run a knife around the inside of the cake tin to loosen. Remove the baking parchment and place on a cake stand. Whisk the cream and espresso powder until soft peaks form. Serve on the side or spoon on top of the cake dusted with a little cocoa powder.
I had a very frightening email from the World Wildlife Fund yesterday:
50% of wildlife lost in 40 years Are you a child of the 70s? If you are, global wildlife populations have declined by more than half in your lifetime. Our 10th Living Planet Report shows that our wildlife is in a sorry state, but we continue to use more natural resources than our one planet can replenish. It's time for a wake-up call. You can download the 10th edition of their Living Planet Report. We have to do something if nothing else by supporting organisations like World Wildlife Fund otherwise soon there won’t be any wildlife at all. It is important because of the interaction of all species which is part of our biodiversity. Don’t just read this and say “terrible” then go on to something else. Do Something. Wildlife in our rivers, lakes and wetlands has suffered a 76 per cent decline – an average loss almost double that seen in land and marine species populations. Land-based species populations declined by 39 per cent, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Marine species populations declined by 39 percent. Species in decline include marine turtles, many sharks, and large migratory seabirds like the wandering albatross. Wildlife populations are declining in tropical and temperate climates, but the biggest decline – 63 per cent since 1970 – has been seen in the tropics. Central and South America shows the most dramatic regional decline – a fall of 83 per cent.
On the website there are examples of many endangered species, the African forest elephant above being one. There are dolphins and tigers on the list amongst others.
I am presently cooking up our turkey carcass for some soup and thought this recipe would be a good one to share.
Ravioli and Vegetable Soup
Fresh or frozen ravioli cook in minutes and turn this light vegetable soup into a main course. Look for whole-wheat or whole-grain ravioli in the refrigerated or frozen section of the supermarket. Tortellini can be used instead of ravioli as well.
Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups frozen bell pepper and onion mix, thawed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste (optional)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 15-ounce can vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon dried basil or marjoram
1 6- to 9-ounce package fresh or frozen cheese (or meat) ravioli, preferably whole-wheat
2 cups diced zucchini, (about 2 medium)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pepper-onion mix, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, water and basil (or marjoram); bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add ravioli and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add zucchini; return to a boil. Cook until the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with pepper.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Thin with broth before reheating, if desired.