Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Veggies on the BBQ

Last night I threw on some cauliflower to go with our lamb chops and beets. I was a little worried that too many beets would be overwhelming. And beware of how beets make a repeat performance as they exit your system! It can be a little scary for those who aren't expecting it...

About the cauliflower, one wouldn't think of it when picking out veggies to grill but it does well. I like to toss it with olive oil and some spices. Last night I used a tandoori marsala spice mix. I cook them over low heat or even indirect heat while grilling something else on the other side of the BBQ. You can grill them over high heat but you need to either steam them a bit first or reduce the heat under them and let them cook through on the BBQ. Nice thing about them is that it is hard to overcook them this way. I had mine all done last night but still had to grill the lamb chops. I wrapped them in foil and put them on the warming rack over the lamb chops. Perfect!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

At the Cottage with Internet!

We decided to get internet access at the cottage. It's not much of a "roughin' it" type of place. Our latest addition will have air conditioning! Oh well, I can't complain.

We re-did the kitchen out here a couple of years ago so it's a better space for prep work but somehow the additional counterscape ends up getting used for clutter. I got a new BBQ cookbook, Better Homes and Garden New Grilling Book. It's excellent. It has recipes for indoor grills, smokers, turkey fryers and rotisseries as well as the standard charcoal and gass grills. I find it very inspiring.

I do like to keep it simple at the cottage. Last night we had salmon fillets on sugar maple planks with steamed broccoli. Tonight it is rosemary lamb chops and roasted beets. All I'm going to do with the lamb is marinate for an hour or so in red wine, then rub it with chopped fresh rosemary and on to the grill it goes! The beets well get cut into 1/2 inch pieces, tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I'll cook them on low heat directly but I'll turn the other side of the BBQ on medium-high so they will roast. After they are done I may toss them with a little lite blue cheese dressing. A lovely Zinfandel will complete the meal.

A beautiful day deserves a nice meal!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Week at the Cottage

We've been at the cottage for the last week. We tend to eat too much and drink too much and it is just too much fun! I never thought of myself as a cottage gal but who doesn't love relaxing and wearing nothing but sweats and a smile...

Some helpful hints for those who cottage, camp or get away for a weekend. Do as much food prep at home before you go. It'll make it easier to do it in a space you are used to working in and won't cut in to relaxation time. Also stick to one food theme. I had some fresh lemons so I made a nice lemon, garlic and herb cornish game hen one night. I used a lot of the same ingredients to make a nice greek dish another. If you are going to be gone for a whole week or longer, pick two themes, maybe tex mex and greek. Or Indian and Mexican (yes, a lot of the spices and herbs are common like cumin, cilantro, coriander, peppers...) Keep it simple. The best tastes are often simpier than we think!

If you have a good knife or knife set, consider taking it if you are going to be cooking a lot or gone for along time. Sometimes the tools make all the difference in the world.

Also watch out for prepared foods and frozen foods. They are often laden with sodium and often have processed ingredients. I make a huge batch of gourmet burgers with different flavors at the beginning of the BBQ season. I freeze them and we are set for the summer! You can prep all your meats ahead of time. I put my marinade in with my frozen meats before heading out to the cottage. Then they get really flavorful as they defrost. All I need then is a fresh veg to round out the meal. Stop at those road side stands! If you don't have a farmers market in your area, then this is the best way to get the freshest veggies!

Here is my Cornish Game Hen recipe. It was delicious. And it can be done on the grill or in a frying pan.

I cut them in half, remove the skin and the rib bones from the hens. It makes it easier to eat and lighter in fat content. It will still be juicy, don't worry.

Mix in a ziplock bag or in a glass pan the following:
1/2 cup white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of salt substitute of any flavor like herb and garlic or lemon pepper. I used 1/2 a teaspoon of each.

Add hens and marinate at least 8 hours but I've left them sit for 36 hours and they are perfect!

cook them over a medium grill heat, toss them in a grill pan or frying pan and brown on each side then lower heat and cook for around 20 minutes. They will be juicy and tasty!

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's About Time!

You may wonder why I've been so quiet the last few days. Well we've all been sick around here. This is the first day I have the energy to sit here and type. Yup, it's been that bad. But I do have to make a point. Part of being a Personal Chef means that we make meals for the freezer for our clients to have at their convenience. I also do that for myself for two reasons. One is so that I can determine which meals freeze best and how best to reheat them (that is always an eye opener!). Second is so that I have meals at the ready when I don't have time or don't feel like cooking. Just like this week. Even though I was too sick to cook, we weren't stuck eating pre-fab soups or dinners. Instead we had healthy homemade meals! Last night we had stuffed shells with spinach and cheese. The night before we had chicken cordon bleu (a healthy version) and steamed cauliflower. And I even had homemade chicken soup in the freezer from the last time Tim was sick.

Soups, casseroles, pasta dishes all freeze well. Double up when you make them and keep your freezer ready for those nights when you need a quick meal. We'll cover more about freezer ready meals in the future. It's a great way to eat!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Ordinary and The Not So Ordinary

Wednesday night we had a basic meal. There is much to be said for keeping it simple. We had a roasted chicken breast. I sauteed it skin side down (although half of it didn't have skin!) in olive oil, sprinkled it with ms. dash and another herbs salt substitute, drizzled it with lemon juice and tossed it in the oven. This was bone-in so I cooked it for 40 minutes at 350. Perfect and tender! Served with carrots and a salad and that was dinner.

Last night we had Pad Thai. One of my favorite dishes. I used Bonnie Stern's recipe and it was delicious. I find that using fresh cilantro, green onions (or scallions) and some peanut pieces thrown on at the end really makes the dish.

Of the seedlings I started the other day, I noticed today that the Arugula is sprouting! Now lets see how long it takes me to kill it....

Tonight it's what we call "Swedish" pizza. We call it this because we had it in Sweden and it was the best pizza ever. I have friends who spent time in Italy and they say the pizza from this pizzaria in Sweden is the best. We use a thin crust, add a little sauce, mozza and parmesan cheese, proscuitto, and arugula. Tonight I'll add some fresh basil and red, yellow and orange tomotoes. I have a multigrain crust that I got at the market that we may use too. Either way, there is a nice Californian Zinfandel to have with it. Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Home alone again!

Since I'm home alone again, I thought I'd make something that only I like. So I'm going to bake some salmon with a maple glaze. And I'm going to have a side salad with a maple balsamic dressing I'm working on for a summer wedding lunch. I love maple and whenever my friend Troy comes over, I jump at the chance to make something with maple because he loves it too! And Balsamic?! I could just swim in the stuff! My better half, Tim, doesn't like either of them that much so I'm going to go big with it tonight while he is out with clients.

I spent much of the day pulling weeds. As someone who loves to cook, I also have a great appreciation for gardening. Small problem though... I'm allergic to weeds and grass. That's right, weeds. And today I was up to my eyeballs in them. But it had to be done. I'm developing a new appreciation for all things organic. Maybe I should word that differently... I'm developing a fear of all things not so natural and chemically poisenous. I have large hairy dogs and I'd prefer not to put down chemicals in the yard that is anywhere near them. So I ended up pulling weeds by hand. Now I'm about to start some seeds for our veggie garden at the cottage. I tried to find some heirloom variety seeds but it was hard. I did get 3 varieties of beets and 3 varieties of tomatoes. We'll add some plants once we actually break ground but I thought I try some seeds again. I have a bit of a black thumb (don't tell my relatives.. my mom and my grandmother can grown a silk purse out of a sows ear....) Mom isn't handy to the cottage but Tim's mom is and she is like my mom... can grow anything. So hopefully we'll have some fruits to show for our labour (pun fully intended!)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Now it's leftover night!

Last night ended up not being a leftover night because my better half ended up home for dinner. We had BBQ chicken pizza from the grill. First I BBQed the chicken breasts. I had some store bought crusts which I spread with part pizza sauce and part BBQ sause. I put on some green onion, some frozen peppers and onions and cheddar cheese. I put the diced cooked chicken on top and put them on the BBQ. What I did was I turned one side of the BBQ on high to cook the chicken, I left the other side off. When it came time to cook the pizzas I just put them on the side with the heat turned off. Served with a salad, it was delish!

Tonight, lefteover refried beans tacos! Can't wait!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

BBQ Season has begun!

Last night we took advantage of the improving weather and planked some Salmon. For those of you who haven't had this experience, let me tell you, you are missing out on something fantastic! Planked Salmon was originally a cooking method used by the native people here in Canada. They would take a wooden plank and put the fish on it. The whole thing would go over the fire and the wonderful aromas from the wood would penetrate the food.

I used a Cedar plan, soaked it in water for about an hour and then put it on a hot bbq. Once it started to smoke, I put the salmon steaks on it. I turned the heat down to med-high. After 15 minutes I put on the sauce. I made a Southwest Sauce out of the following:
  • 2 tbsp fat free mayo
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, oregano and salt substitute
  • a couple of drop of hot sauce and a pinch of chipotle powder
  • 3 tbsp of fresh cilantro, chopped

I mixed it all, except the cilantro (I sprinkled that on right before serving)

I served this with leftover Black-Bean Mango Salsa from the night before and a salad.

Tonight it's leftovers. I enjoy the challenge of trying to make something edible out of the leftovers in my fridge. I'm thinking corn tortilla with leftover refried beans and a salad.

We picked up some fantastic multi-grain pizza crusts and I can't wait to try them out tomorrow night. I like to make non-traditional pizzas so stay tuned!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Tonight it's Mexican for sure. I'm doing Pork Kebabs with a Mango Salsa. The Salsa is made of the following:
  • 1 can of Black Beans
  • 1 Mango, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (wear a glove or use a sandwich bag to prevent the irrating chemicals from getting on your hands and eventually into your eyes.... or maybe that's just me....)

Mix the following and pour over the above ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (I'll have fresh ones on had for making margaritas anway!)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt

This recipe is from the Weight Watchers "Take Out Tonight" cookbook. It's great. I love this book. A friend of mine has tried just about every single recipe in it. She wasn't impressed with the Chinese recipes but she lives in NJ so she has access to awesome chinese food. Living here in Canada, I don't so I like the Chinese recipes too.

For the Pork I'm going to marinate it in some chili powder, cumin, hot sauce and cilantro. I'm thinking to serve it with either refried beans or polenta. I know polenta doesn't sound very mexican but it should be, it's just cornmeal. I think I'll season it with mexican spices... Ooo, I have some chipotle powder and some Chedder and Monteray Jack cheeses to mix in. yum!

And of course there will be margaritas and mexican beer. And the best part of it all? It's a beautiful warm day! 20 degrees (that's 72 for you non-metric folks) which is just perfect!

Adios and Buenos Noches

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tonight it's Spaghetti Squash with a Rose Sauce. Out of the freezer! I made this one a couple of weeks ago. I love spaghetti squash. It's so easy and it's a veggie serving without even thinking about it! I love that. I always roast the squash by cutting it in half across the middle (versus from end to end) and putting a little drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper on the inside, then putting it cut side down on a cookie sheet and baking it at 350 for 45 -55 minutes. Then you scrap out the strings with a fork. I made these with a rose sauce made of cream cheese and leftover jarred pasta sauce. I also sauted some peppers and sun-dried tomatoes and added them to the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and your done! Quick, cheap and extremely nutritious. My favorite kind of meal. Want a protein added in? I believe we had Baked Chicken Breasts seasoned with a bit of Italian Seasoning and cooked for 20 minutes in the oven with it when I originally served it a couple of weeks ago. YUM!
This is the first post of The Gourmet Goddess cooking blog! And I decided to start this on a day when my better half is out of town and I won't even be cooking! I'm logical that way. Actually, today I'll be eating a homemade frozen dinner out of my overstocked freezer and planning for tomorrow. Cinco de Mayo! Yup, it will be Mexican tomorrow night for sure. We already have some San Miguel beer on hand. I'm doing something with a pork tenderloin and a mango. I'll keep you posted as the details become finalized.