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Posts Tagged ‘parmesan’

 

KaleChips_first

A few years ago we purchased a reasonably priced (read cheap) awning for our cocktail patio; I never loved the fabric, it was a pinkish/beige stripe that weathered into a more horrible pinkish colour over the years, but it was about 1/10th the price of one of those swanky awnings that you can order with custom fabric, so I compromised. It wasn’t bad enough that the colour sucked when it was new, it sucked even more over the years and the birds loved to bathe in the water that collected in the divot when it was closed and they also loved to peck little bugs that drowned. Sadly, their pecking caused many tears and eventually the awning looked so tattered and torn that we hadn’t unrolled it in two years!

Old Awning

This was the last time we unrolled the awning at my benchmark birthday party a couple of years ago. That’s my lovely SIL, Wendy. The colour just gets better and better.

Fast forward to 2015 and my cousin and his lovely wife are coming for a visit from Europe in June. What is better than an actual deadline to get those nagging projects completed? So we are in fix it mode! The list is long.

Last year, I priced replacing the fabric with an awning company and discovered that it’s still out of reach (I’d rather spend the cash on a vacation than an awning!) so I checked Youtube and found a really good video on how to remove and replace the awning fabric (click here for the video) and even though our awning is a different manufacturer, the basics are the same. So off I went to purchase 11 m or 12 yards of fabric! And specialty thread (nylon in case you are interested), a specialty sewing machine foot and of course heavy duty leather sewing machine needles! If you’re interested, I can post instructions on how to sew the awning, but it’s a cooking blog so I won’t bore you with it now.

The worst part of sewing this type of project is finding the space to accommodate the enormous volume of fabric (3.2 m x 3.4 m or 125″ x 135″ finished size) so I ended up sewing it on the dining room table and pinning and cutting on the wood floors in our bedroom. Sewing on the dining room table and that I can see the awning from my kitchen window is my reason for using this post in Celia’s In My Kitchen series.

PinningAwning

I had to fold the fabric in half because that’s all the room I had!

It didn’t take me long to make the awning but I had to wait 3 days to install it because it was raining and hailing (in April)! The installation went smoothly but you really do need two people to help feed the ends into the hardware. JT was great and we got it working in less than an hour! Now we wait for summer. Hopefully!

Awning3

This is the view from my kitchen window. I guess I could have opened the window and removed the screen for the pic.

Awning1

We chose a light grey fabric.

Awning2

The awning actually extends all the way to the far end of the deck but it was too windy and I didn’t want to risk issues.

A couple of weekends ago, we had amazing weather and JT and I enjoyed lunch on the patio. I had a lovely bunch of fresh kale and I wanted to try something different so I baked Kale Chips! I know it’s been done to death, but these things were actually really tasty and if you’re looking for a healthy snack, I would suggest you try and bake some of these. I used Charles’ recipe which you can find here, the only thing I did differently is that I dressed the chips in some grated parmesan and sea salt. They didn’t last long.

KaleChips3

The olive oil gives them a gorgeous sheen and helps maintain the bright green colour.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 400 g Curly Kale
  • 2 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup fine grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 93° C (200°F )(I used my convection (fan) setting).
  2. Wash kale and remove thick ribs. Cut into bite-sized pieces keeping in mind that they will shrink to about half their raw size.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over kale and toss to coat evenly. I gave them a quick, light massage.
  4. Spread on a cookie sheet so they are on one layer and not over lapping. Bake for 15-20 minutes tossing occasionally until crisp. Sprinkle cheese over hot kale and toss to coat.
  5. Serve immediately.
KaleChips2

They were crispy and very tasty.

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We’ve all made pesto, right? Well, maybe not everyone, so here I will share my favourite recipe. You can use this mix as a dip, on toasts, as a base for pizza, a sandwich or even a dollop in the middle of a lovely creamed soup. It’s quite flavourful so you don’t need a lot of it. I usually just eyeball this recipe, but this time I got out the scale and measuring cups so I could have tangible measurements.

A delicious combo of flavours

A delicious combo of flavours

Traditional Pesto

Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 30 g fresh basil, leaves removed, washed and dried
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) toasted pine nuts
  • 35 g (1/3 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 cloves of garlic (about 10 g) or to taste
  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor with metal blades combine the basil, pine nuts (make sure they are cool), Parmesan and garlic. Pulse adding a slow stream of EVOO to the consistency desired (I like my Pesto a little chunky and not too wet).
  2. Add salt to taste, but remember that the Parmesan is rather salty.
  3. Serve mixed into warm pasta with quartered grape tomatoes and shaved parmesan.
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Quartered Grape Tomatoes add a lovely acidity to the dish.

 

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I have a confession to make: I’m in love and it’s not JT. It’s really not as bad as it sounds, my love affair is with a certain Indian. OK. I’ll ‘fess up, it’s Naan. There. I’m in love with Naan. The bread, silly! I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve made this recipe but suffice it to say it’s double digits! About the same time that Maria over at a-boleyn live journal made our delicious naan recipe into a gorgeous pizza, I had the same idea (yes, I blog well in advance!). So on the day the world should have ended (again) I made a naan pizza for dinner. What a way to go!

It’s basically whatever you have in the fridge, our ingredients were goats cheese infused with garlic and EVOO, torn prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes in EVOO and chopped spinach topped with shaved parmesan cheese. What more can you want?

Why Naan? I usually like my pizza crust super thin and crispy, what the naan brought to the table (pardon the pun) is a bit more bite and a lot of chewiness. Delicious chewy goodness. Need. I. Say. More. ?.

A slightly chewy crust made delicious by garlic infused goats cheese

A slightly chewy crust made delicious by garlic infused goats cheese

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Good day everyone, I’m still in Lyon (figuratively speaking, of course) and cooking with Chef Villard and his lovely recipes. This is a condiment that he paired with lightly cooked snow peas and a little goats cheese and boy was it good. I particularly loved the colour, unfortunately when you add the goats cheese it lightens up quite a bit, but by then you’re starving for having enjoyed the aromas of the meal all afternoon long!

That sure is green

To be honest, JT wasn’t in love with the pesto which was originally Rocket (arugula), pine nuts and Parmesan cheese so I decided to be inspired by Chef Villard and not follow the recipe 100% (of course you did, says JT). The rocket tends to get a touch bitter when processed, although I do enjoy the peppery taste I wanted to temper the bitterness so I used the same amount of spinach as the rocket. Then I was thinking of the entire meal and wanted to repeat some flavours for consistency, so instead of pine nuts, I used roasted hazelnuts (the pumpkin soup has a drizzle of hazelnut oil to finish it). So in the essence of our meal in Lyon, here is the pesto recipe.

Rocket and Spinach Pesto with Hazelnuts (on Snow Peas with Goats Cheese — not shown)

Serves 6 (I had enough pesto left over for some hors d’œuvres the next day),

Ingredients:

  • 35 g roasted hazelnuts
  • 35 g combined baby rocket (arugula) and baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp EVOO
  • Salt to taste
  • 60 g snow peas
  • 20 g goats cheese

Directions:

  1. In a small food processor add the hazelnuts, rocket, spinach, finely minced garlic and Parmesan cheese and drizzle a small amount of EVOO to get the chopping going adding a little bit to allow the purée to happen with ease (you don’t want this too runny). Taste and salt as desired.
  2. When you have achieved the consistency desired set aside (this is actually quite good if you make it in advance and the flavours have time to really develop).
  3. Cook the snap peas and as soon as they are done, immerse them into ice cold water to stop the cooking quickly. Simmer water on the stove to reheat just prior to serving.
  4. To serve, add a few tablespoons of the pesto to the hot, drained snow peas and crumble the goats cheese into it, stir lightly to distribute evenly.
  5. Enjoy warm.

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You know I’m always trying to jazz up our fish and this was no exception. It was a Tuesday night and I was riding home ‘the better way‘ and trying to figure out what the heck to do with the fish we pulled out of the deep freeze and then it hit me — Grilled Tilapia with Basil Pesto. The pesto would also allow the opportunity to utilize the gorgeous basil growing like weeds on the back deck (I may have planted a few too many plants!).

Tilapia is a firm white fish that is great grilled as long as you don’t over cook it, then it falls apart! I added a bit of hot chili pepper flakes to the top for colour and a bit of punch. It depends if you like heat, like I do. Plus it’s a nice bite with the creamy pesto. I make a classic pesto, but I’m sure you’ve made yours a gazillion times so feel free to improvise, this is, after all for inspiration. Reserve the left over pesto for the dressing for the greens and you’ll notice that I’ve added a little something to make it more like dressing (make sure the spoon you use to spread the pesto on the fish is never put back into the reserved pesto).

This fish is green with pesto, not envy!

Grilled Tilapia with Basil Pesto

Serves 4,

Ingredients:

  • 400 g Tilapia
  • 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) packed fresh, washed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) EVOO
  • 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • red chili pepper flakes
  • arugula greens

Directions:

  1. Add basil leaves, Parmesan, pine nuts, salt and garlic to your food processor or immersion blender and blend until you achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Dry the tilapia and spoon 1-2 tbsp of the pesto per side per fish and spread evenly.
  3. Heat your grill to 177°C (350°F), spray with non-stick spray. Lay the thickest parts down first as they will take the longest to cook. Cook until the fish is firm to the touch. Repeat with the thinner bits.
  4. For the dressing, add the white balsamic to the left-over pesto and stir well.
  5. Serve over arugula greens and garnish with the dressing and red pepper flakes
  6. Enjoy!

I’ve also made different types of pesto here and here. My friends who are making pesto:

;

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This post was written at the cottage including the photos taken on my lowly iPhone 3GS! Hopefully Apple’s September announcement will be about the iPhone 5, for which I am anxiously awaiting the release.

Do you have to create a meal plan for the weekends at the cottage? I do, I have to. We have no decent stores anywhere near our cottage. I once forgot cream cheese and had to settle for a cream cheese and chive dip from a 7-11. It was pathetic. I have to have everything figured out because to forget an ingredient would be devastating (well, for me anyway).

I had a menu plan for this past weekend which was our Civic Holiday long weekend (each first Monday of August is the Simcoe Day, in honor of our first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe) and it was good and it was well thought out. I had shopping lists and everything. And then I read a couple of posts which made me switch my plan. Yes, you read that correctly. I revised the meal plan to include these wonderful recipes that inspired me.
My first deviation was because of Karen at Backroad Journal Posted a healthier version of Eggplant Parmesan that I just couldn’t resist; plus it gave me an opportunity to use my adorable cast iron individual square frying pans! It was incredibly delicious!

Eggplant Parmesan

(only slightly modified from Karen’s lovely recipe)
Serves 4-6 for lunch as a main

Ingredients:

  • 4 baby eggplants, sliced 1 cm (0.5″)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp EVOO
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt to taste
  • 300-400 mL basic homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite marinara sauce
  • a handful of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 20 cm (8″) square pan plus individual serving dishes
  • Non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. After slicing the eggplant, rub each side with lemon juice to prevent ‘rusting’.
  2. Mix the olive oil with the garlic and brush each side if the eggplant slices liberally. Grill on a hot grill until slices are soft. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Set aside (may be made in advance).
  3. Mix the ricotta with one clove finely minced garlic, salt to taste.
  4. In an oven proof 20 cm (8″) pan, line with parchment and spray with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with one layer of eggplant, top with half of the ricotta. Dot with roughly torn fresh basil. Drizzle with the tomato sauce, add another layer of eggplant. Top with the remaining ricotta, roughly torn fresh basil and the remainder of the tomato sauce.
  5. Add the sliced fresh mozzarella evenly on top. Bake on indirect heat on the BBQ until fully warmed through and mozzarella has melted. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and broil until bubbly.
  6. Serve in individual serving dishes garnished with fresh basil and green onions.

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To correct or not to correct? As I read through your lovely and flattering comments, the first thing I do is correct any typos that I notice. Is that OK? I usually ask you to correct mine, if I notice. Auto correct on my iPhone is great, but it can be a drag too, often correcting to words I do not want (it does ‘do’ for ‘so’ often, ARGH!). Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Breakfast on the weekend usually has a bit more pomp and circumstance than the weekdays, mainly because I’m not rushing to get ready for work. I was dying to try an idea I found on Dara’s Generation Y Foodie and Kelly’s Inspired Edibles blog; Dara made a pizza with a white bean paste base instead of a white béchamel that I thought was pure genius and Kelly took an old favourite of Mac and Cheese and pulled the proverbial rug right out from under it and made it healthy using chick peas instead of noodles. And it got me thinking…a bean paste as a thickener…

You will recall that we had a half a tin of chick peas left over from our Moroccan Mussel recipe the other night and the bean paste béchamel was really itching to get out of my head, so I came up with this lovely cheese sauce. You can pour it over crèpes like I did, or you can use it as a base for pizza as Dara did or better yet, pour it over cauliflower or broccoli! The possibilities are endless. Thank you Dara and Kelly for this inspiration.

Gluten Free Cheese Sauce

Serves 2-4

Cheesy Goodness poured all over that Crèpe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed (you can use any canned bean for this recipe, but I would stick to the lighter ones, like navy beans, or black eyed peas or white beans)
  • 1/2-1 cup low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup finely grated flavourful cheese like Parmesan and Gruyère or sharp cheddar
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Add the chick peas to your immersion blender container (usually a tall thin cup), add 1/2 cup broth, salt and purée until smooth and about the consistency of crèpe batter adding the stock as required. Remember you will be adding cheese to this so it will thicken up.
  2. Pour contents into a sauce pan and begin heating up slowly. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. The cheese won’t stick to the beans as well as it would the béchamel, so you will likely have to emulsify again so that it’s not grainy.  Return to the heat and stir. You may need to add a bit more stock at this point, depending on how thick you would like your sauce.
  3. Serve over crèpes or what ever you wish.

 

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Sunday was a gorgeous day in Toronto so we decided to high tail it up north and do a little skiing at Mount St. Louis Moonstone. We made for an early departure because it’s about a two hour drive from our house and we didn’t know how busy it would be. It turned out to be quite empty and not particularly too cold (although that wind-chill on the lifts was pretty bitter!). We packed our lunch so we wouldn’t have to endure the disgusting deep-fried slop that’s generally served at these establishments. They have a great little area where you can eat your own lunch and quite surprisingly, it was chuck full!

I knew we’d be pretty tired from a day’s skiing, particularly since we haven’t skied since two years ago, and even then we skied only once or twice, so I dragged out the crock pot and assembled the Navy Bean and Mushroom “Risotto” the night before. I refrigerated the mix overnight (without the water) and in the morning, I just tossed the whole thing into the crock pot and added the water so that it can cook all day. I love coming home and being greeted by the warm and comforting smells of home cooking! I also made some biscuits to go with our tasty dinner, but you’ll have to wait for that post another day.

I love Navy Beans because they are so darn creamy, that is why I think of this dish as “risotto”. You can make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage and the prosciutto in the scones!

Navy Bean and Mushroom “Risotto”

Now that's a tasty looking meal!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry navy beans, rince well
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 cup chopped shitaki mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of celery root, chopped (I had a bit left over so I needed to use it up)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (I had a bit left over so I needed to use it up)
  • 1 sausage, your choice, chopped
  • 4 cups water, yup, plain old water!
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • salt
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. I like all my ingredients uniformly chopped, but that’s personal preference.
  2. Put all ingredients except the Parmesan Cheese into the slow cooker, give it a good stir and turn it on high for about 35 minutes (while you’re getting breakfast ready). Once it has warmed up, turn it down to low and cook for 4-5 hours or until beans are done.
  3. Serve with shredded Parmesan Cheese and some tasty Maple and Prosciutto Scones.
  • You may need to boils off some water if the beans didn’t soak it up, so do that before you add the cheese!

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  • A couple of days ago I posted some photos and a link to my friend Ann’s blog, Cooking Healthy for Me because I made her little cheese snacks. When I read her post I was dumb-founded — she made four, 4, read F O U R, DOUBLE batches. Now that’s a lot of cheese, and I hate to admit, I was thinking, WTF? Well, after carefully extracting my foot from my mouth, I hesitantly admit that I am now on batch 3, THREE of these golden cheesy nuggets (single batches!). Thanks Ann. No really. This recipe will definitely be making the rounds during the holidays.

    YUM!

    Last night I made batch two and three and although batch three is identical to Ann’s cheese sensations, batch two was shaken up a tad (you know me ;-)!). I’ve updated with metric measures in case anyone across the pond might wish to try it.

    Little bundles of cheesy goodness

    Eva’s Take on Cheez-itz

    from Ann who borrowed the recipe from Katrina’s Kitchen

    Ingredients:

    • a combination of 8 oz (227 g) Jarlsberg, Parmesan and Mozzarella, or sharp cheddar, grated
    • 3 tbsp (45 g) unsalted butter, room temp
    • 1 tbsp (14 g) vegetable shortening
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 cup (134 g) flour
    • 2 Tablespoons ice water
    • Coarse salt for sprinkling (I omitted this as I found the cheese salty enough)
    • 1 tsp horseradish (not creamed)*

    Directions:

    1. Combine all of the cheese with the softened butter, shortening and salt in a the bowl. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until it is crumbly (mine was rather creamy with this type of cheese).
    2. Slowly add the flour and mix until crumbly; then add the ice-water. At first it looks like you might need more water, patience grasshopper, patience, the dough will come together in a moment.
    3. Cut in half and pat the dough down into a disc, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Preheat oven to 375° F.
    5. Place disc on parchment paper and put the plastic wrap on top and roll each disc to 2mm or 1/8 inch thickness (this is the perfect thickness).
    6. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut into shapes. I found that my 2.5cm square cut the perfect size (the one’s pictured are a touch too big).
    7. Transfer to a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment).
    8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy! Be careful – there’s a fine line with these between golden brown and over done – and it only takes seconds to burn!
    9. Remove to cooling rack.

    Oh no! Not him again!?!?!?!?

    *I made these again to take to our friend’s place on New Years Day and I added the horseradish because there is a local dairy in Southern Ontario who pairs their cheddar with it and it’s outstanding!

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