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SweetChiliSauce_First

Has spring arrived where you are? It sure hasn’t over here, in fact there is very little sign of it. Yes, we can be grateful that the snow has finally melted and that it hasn’t snowed in any measurable quantity for a few days, but these temperatures are killing us. Since I’ve begun my morning walks through High Park again (8km most mornings) it’s been so cold that I’m still wearing my long down-filled coat, hat, gloves and a balaclava around my neck at the ready when the howling wind rudely slaps my face. I’m ready for spring. With these cold temperatures, I’m still craving warming foods like my dear friend Sissi’s Dried Apricot and Chili Jelly. If you don’t know Sissi, she is an experienced cook with a passion for the Far East. Her recipes are uncomplicated and her writing style is elegant and beautiful and that’s something because English isn’t even her first language! I’m always drawn to Sissi’s recipes because she combines flavours that hit my palette perfectly. And she enjoys similar foods and textures that I do. Please visit Sissi’s blog for the original recipe because she has generously provided more details than I am providing.

Sweet Chili Sauce with Dried Apricots

Makes 250 mL sweet chili sauce

Ingredients:

  • 175 g dried apricots
  • 150 mL +100 ml cider vinegar
  • 100 g red Thai chili peppers
  • 200 g sugar
  • 50 mL water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 package pectin in powder (25 g)

Directions:

  1. Bring 150 mL vinegar to a boil and add the apricots to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. To a small food processor, add the hot peppers (discard the stalks and seeds) and the soaked apricots and pulse to chop reasonably finely.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients (including the additional 50 mL vinegar) and boil 20 minutes,stirring constantly.
  4. Sprinkle the pectin over the surface and cook 10 more minutes, mixing well.
  5. Transfer the hot jelly into the sterilised jar or jars and cover with lid(s). Allow the jar to cool and refrigerate. If your jars are smaller (I used one 250 mL jar) you will want to process them as you would any canning project. I popped my single jar into the fridge and will use over the next month or so (or I will freeze for later use).
This is a very hot sauce.

This is a very hot sauce.

Notes:

  • I had intended on reducing the sugar but believe me, it NEEDS the sweetness because these peppers are HOT!
  • This is an excellent condiment but use conservatively as it is VERY HOT.

 

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Our Easter menu included a traditional ham and I’m always looking for ways to jazz up the same-old, same old so when I discovered I had a good nub of fresh horse radish in the refrigerator, I knew it was destined for glory on the Easter Table! I found this recipe from Food Network Canada and it really was as easy as it reads! I just eyeballed the vinegar, added a pinch of sugar and pulsed until I got a nice consistency for the horse radish. This is not a sauce, it is your typical grated horse radish.

Horseradish_2495

Don’t let being home made deceive you, this is one powerful condiment!

Home-made Horseradish

Ingredients:

  • 1 nub of fresh horse radish root (mine was about 10 cm around 4 inches), peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
  • 3-5 tbsp Cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sugar

Directions:

  1. Add the chopped horse radish to your mini food processor and pulse to get a coarse grate.
  2. Add Cider vinegar and white sugar and pulse further, adding a bit more cider vinegar until you achieve a nice fine grate for the horse radish.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

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Did you have pancakes on Tuesday? Pancakes are traditionally served on shrove Tuesday, not sure why but because we love the ‘cakes of pan’ we had these beauties for dinner Tuesday night. Thank you Sissi.

In early February, mid-February, late-February and now early March, we have been going through a bit of a deep chill which always makes us crave hearty, spicy foods. We invited my nephew, niece and her beau to dinner last month and I wanted to serve something new, for them and for me (I’ve never made this before!) so I turned to the hearty West Indian Rôti, always comforting with it’s warm flavours and great textures.

I chose Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Trinidadian Chicken Roti recipe, with some very minor alterations. I also used this recipe* for my Jamaican Curry powder; I actually liked the second one because I was able to make as much or as little as needed — I used 1 teaspoon as my single measure for the ratios which made more than enough for 4 tablespoons! You may also buy Jamaican Curry Spice ready made from the store.

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this entirely vegetarian, you can even add tofu but the chickpeas are likely filling enough.

Below is the calorie count for one of the Rôti’s served at our favourite takeout place.  After the success of this recipe, I suspect that rôti will not be bought take out ever again! For the record, I always cut my rôti in half and shared it with someone else!

Calories: 1,013 YIKES!
Fat: 43 grams DOUBLE YIKES!
Sodium: 1,617 milligrams OMG!
Carbohydrates: 106 grams
Protein: 51 grams

Chicken Roti_2099

A perfectly seasoned and slightly spicy Chicken, chickpea and kale roti

Trinidadian Chicken Rôti

Makes 8 servings. Please see Chef Marcus Samuelson’s original recipe here. Make the curry a day in advance because it will taste better!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried sprouted chickpeas**, rehydrated over night (or low sodium can of cooked chickpeas)
  • 3+ cups chicken stock
  • Quick spray of non-stick spray
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Chinese egg plant, cubed
  • 2 generous cups kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Jamaican curry powder*
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 800 g chicken breasts, no bone, no skin, cut into even chunks
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Directions:

  1. Add the sprouted chickpeas and stock to a slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours.
  2. Spray a large dutch oven with non-stick spray and sweat the onions until translucent on medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, eggplant and kale and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the Jamaican curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper and stir until fragrant. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir. Using a silicon spatula, scrap this mixture into the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. About 1 hour before serving, reheat the dutch oven and sear the chicken pieces in the spice laden dutch oven. Add the chicken to the curry in the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add to the curry.
  5. Give the curry a good stir and reset the timer and heat to Low for 1 additional hour.
  6. You may need to add a bit more more stock if the curry is too thick because you want a lot of gravy.
  7. Serve with Roti bread.
Chicken Roti_2097

Delicious!

** I tried sprouting my chickpeas for the first time on my friend Norma’s suggestion, not sure it made much of a difference the taste but it was fun to do.

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Nutrional Facts for the Curry

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Nutrional Facts for the Roti Bread

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My nephew Brian came for dinner in late January and it was a bitterly cold day so I thought starting out with a soup would be welcome. I’ve always enjoyed Italian Wedding Soup but recently had a very bad version while shopping in Buffalo which has jaundiced me from ordering it again at a restaurant, surprisingly it was in an Italian restaurant, but it was a chain, so I should have known better.

I have updated the traditional recipe using some unusual ingredients, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think. I ground my own beef and pork but you can easily buy already ground meat (extra lean of course). You’ll be surprised that I used puffed quinoa in the meatballs because I didn’t want to use bread crumbs or panko! Pretty clever don’t you think? I also used kale instead of the traditional spinach because I like the way kale holds up in a soup. Israeli couscous was my clever substitution for the pasta, it’s still pasta but I really liked the look of the balls in the soup.

ItalianWeddingSoup_1882

A flavourful broth with a variety of textures make this soup a welcome addition to my soup repertoire.

Italian Wedding Soup, my way

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
  • 1.5 g each of lean beef and pork
  • 1/3 cup puffed quinoa
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp freshly chopped oregano
  • 1/4 tsp each nutmeg, salt and freshly ground pepper (I use a mix of mainly white, s little black and a little red)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • 1 1/2 L (about 1 1/2 qt) Home-made or Low Sodium Chicken stock
  • 1/2  (about 1 1/2 cups) large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 bunch kale (about 4 cups) finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots (about 2-2 1/2 cups), cubed
  • 2 celery ribs (about 1 cup), cubed
  • 3 tsp canola oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • water, if necessary
  • 1 good size Parmesan rind

Directions:

  1. In a large, chilled metal bowl, combine the onion, beef and pork, puffed quinoa, parmesan cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the lightly beaten egg. Shape into smallish meatballs and set on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 177° C 350°F. Heat a skillet with 1 tsp canola oil and fry each meatball to brown all sides in two batches. Use the second tsp of canola oil for the second batch. Replace on cookie sheet lined with clean parchment and bake the meatballs until done (about 30 minutes).
  3. Cook the Israeli Couscous as per package directions to al dente. Set aside.
  4. Pre heat a large soup pot with 1 tsp canola oil, sauté the sweet onion until translucent, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the chopped kale, carrots and celery and stir for about 4 minutes.
  5. Cover with chicken stock and top off with additional water if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the Parmesan rind.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables have reached their desired consistency, I like a very slight crunch so that they are not mushy in the soup. Add the couscous and baked meatballs just before serving to heat through.
  7. Remove theParmesan rind and eat.
  8. Serve garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese.
ItalianWeddingSoup_1887

The shaved Parmesan adds a delicate saltiness to this delicious soup.

Tips:

  • If you are making this soup to freeze, I would recommend freezing the meatballs and the Israeli couscous in separate bags to the soup and adding to heat just at serving. I kept a batch in the fridge with the couscous and meatballs and they got mushy in two days.

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Firstly, I would like to add a disclaimer that Kristy from Eat, Play, Love Our Family Food Adventures is not paying me to blog about her recipes (unless she wants to, of course ;-)). It’s just that there are some recipes that click for me, and her choices are often those kinds of recipes. Recently she and the kids made a Piri Piri Shrimp, in a post called Heating Things Up that really caught my interest for a few reasons: garlic and lemon juice, heat and shrimp! Of course, JT and I are still on the low carb, sugar, fat diet for another day or so I’ve had to modify the recipe (not that it wasn’t unhealthy to begin with, it just did not fit the chemical profile we are restricted to). So Kristy, I hope you don’t mind, but I did change it up a touch, hopefully not altering the recipe’s taste. Thanks again for a another flavourful dinner (and incredible lunch the next day!).

Roasting the hot peppers doesn’t really take ALL the heat out of them.

Piri Piri Shrimp My Way

Serves 3 (dinner and 1 lunch, each 100 g protein)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Serrano chiles
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock as it is slightly sweeter than chicken stock, because I replaced the wine vinegar with white vinegar)
  • hand full of roughly chopped parsley
  • hand full of roughly chopped cilantro
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) uncooked, deveined, and peeled shrimp
  • lemon wedges (oops, I forgot)

I forgot the lemon wedges.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven on high broil. Cut the chile peppers in half (don’t bother removing the seeds and stems, they come off easily after roasting). Place the chiles on a lightly sprayed (with fat free cooking spray) baking sheet and roast until blackened, Kristy says about 10 minutes (I didn’t time it).
  2. Trim the stems and remove the seeds (the seeds are the really hot bits)
  3. In your immersion blender container, combine the chiles, garlic, paprika, lemon juice, vinegar, vegetable stock, parsley and cilantro and purée the ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour 1/4 of the marinade over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours (see note).
  5. Heat a large cast iron grill pan on the BBQ (had to involve JT in the cooking, you know how it is). Spray lightly with fat free cooking spray and when hot enough, cook shrimp until done (pink both sides).
  6. Serve over greens with a few sweet red peppers drizzled with a bit more of the sauce (but reserve the remainder of the sauce because I have a GREAT IDEA for it for Saturday!)

Notes:

  • Citrus can cook seafood quite easily (ceviche is based on this) so if you do leave the shrimp marinading for more than a few hours, check it to see if it’s cooking (starting to turn pink). Otherwise you may end up with rubbery shrimp.
  • The Piri Piri sauce was INCREDIBLE — perfect for my taste, JT said it was OK, but perhaps he was just uninspired because the shrimp was served on greens (I live on greens so it was second nature to me) next time, I’ll serve his on Quinoa or Whole Wheat Couscous.
  • Roasting the peppers did not minimize the heat, so beware. I adore it and JT found it tolerable, but it could be too hot for some.
  • You may wish to add a teaspoon of agave nectar (or some red pepper coulis) to help subdue the heat, I did for JTs dressing but not for mine.
  • The sauce is definitely better the next day so you may wish to make it up in advance and let it sit. I used this sauce in a dish I prepared last Saturday for Cinco de Mayo.

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My friend Angela (Titanic dinner party) sent me this link. Her boys (the lovely stewards of the same party) said it reminded them of a play dough toy they once had. It is pretty gross so be warned if you’re squeamish! I’m not sure what disturbs me more, the video or the comments!

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo a wonderful holiday sadly not celebrated to any degree in Canada, in fact, it’s only been a few years that I have even heard of it, believe it or not. Being one who loves to celebrate, I thought, why not this lovely holiday? And it could and should be celebrated with celebration food, of course. Still watching my carbs, sugars, fats and such, I had to come up with a recipe that would work in this regime I am following.

Celebrate with Ceviche

Serves 1 (or multiply by the number of people you wish to serve)

A little Ceviche never hurt anyone!

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Shrimp, deveined, cleaned, tails removed
  • 1 tbsp mint, chiffonad finely
  • 1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, cubed
  • 1/4 cup apple, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, cubed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Piri Piri Sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper coulis (or you can use honey or agave, but I am limiting my sugars)
  • 1 tbsp toasted shredded coconut (unsweetened, desiccated), plus a pinch for garnish
  • Arugula greens

Directions:

  1. About 3-4 hours before serving, chop the shrimp up into relatively even bits (this is so that they ‘cook’ in the citric acid evenly).
  2. Combine the mint, green onion, cilantro and celery together and mix well. Add about 2 tbsp of this mixture to the shrimp. Toss.
  3. Combine the lime juice and Piri Piri Sauce and red pepper coulis and mix well. Pour over the shrimp mixture and coat evenly. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until shrimp is opaque. You may wish to stir this from time to time.
  4. When the shrimp is totally cooked, add the remaining mint, green onion, cilantro and celery combo. Toss in the apple, toasted coconut and stir well.
  5. Garnish with the pinch of toasted coconut and extra hot sauce. Enjoy!

Tangy, sweet, crunchy, soft; it’s everything I dreamed of.

Piri Piri Sauce

(Inspired by Kristy at Eat, Play Love Our Family Food Adventure)

  • 1-2 Serrano chiles
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock as it is slightly sweeter than chicken stock, because I replaced the wine vinegar with white vinegar)
  • hand full of roughly chopped parsley
  • hand full of roughly chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven on high broil. Cut the chile peppers in half (don’t bother removing the seeds and stems, they come off easily after roasting). Place the chiles on a lightly sprayed (with fat free cooking spray) baking sheet and roast until blackened, Kristy says about 10 minutes (I didn’t time it).
  2. Trim the stems and remove the seeds (the seeds are the really hot bits)
  3. In your immersion blender container, combine the chiles, garlic, paprika, lemon juice, vinegar, vegetable stock, parsley and cilantro and purée the ingredients until smooth.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, you won’t regret making an extra large batch!

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