Thursday, January 27, 2011

Potato and cauliflower gratin

I made this a couple of weeks ago, and a week ago my brother-in-law was looking through the pics on my camera and came across it. “You take pictures of potatoes?” he cried. So I had to explain my weird blogger thing of taking pictures of my food and posting them to my blog.

For Sunday supper a few weeks ago I was planning to make creamy potatoes and I had a cauliflower that I was going to make a gratin with. Then it occurred to me (I’m a bit slow sometimes) that the potato dish and the cauliflower dish had basically the same ingredients and assembly so I should combine them into one bigger gratin. So I did. And while it is easier to combine them, it is also very tasty.

Potato and Cauliflower Gratin
Mummydinosaur original

1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 small to medium red potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 c cream (or ½ c cream and ½ c stock)
¾ c grated gruyere cheese
Pinch of grated nutmeg

Oil a roasting pan and toss the cauliflower florets into the pan and roast at 375 deg F until the tips are brown, ~ 15-20 minutes. In a greased baking dish, (I used a 9x13) add one layer of potato slices, spread about half of the florets over the potatoes evenly, season with salt and pepper, add another layer of potatoes and then the second layer of cauliflower. Top with the remaining potatoes. Mix the cream, cheese and nutmeg together and pour evenly over the top of the potatoes. Cover with tin foil and bake for 50 minutes at 350 deg F. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

He’s Five

Today my little boy turns 5. So I spent a good portion of last night baking. I made a wheat free chocolate cake with buttercream, sprinkles, gummy bears and smarties for his party at preschool this morning.

The children are probably eating cake right now as I write this. I’ve been promised pictures. And I baked chocolate cupcakes for dessert tonight and dessert for the family supper on Saturday. Those will be decorated tonight.

When we were talking about T’s cake yesterday he suddenly asked me, “when is your birthday mummy?” I replied that it had been a couple of weeks ago. “But we didn’t bake you a cake” he said, sounding a bit worried. “What kind of cake do you like? Chocolate or lemon?” I told him I liked both so he told me he would help me make a lemon cake for my birthday next year. “Cause you need cake on your birthday”.

This was my baby on his 1st birthday - he still loves cake this much!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

don't like it

It’s hard to think back, once you are a parent, to the days prior to, and trying to remember what you thought it would be like. I never imagined I would learn so much about trucks and construction equipment or even guess that my husband would start collecting machines just like our son. I never imagined conversations about death and love and cats and all manner of things that you have with a 4 year old. I didn’t know how close to the edge certain theme music could make you go (Bob the Builder……can we build it!). Or how much I would resort to bribery. Although I call it motivation and behaviour reinforcement rather than bribery. I didn’t know how important friends are in the world of a 4 year old.

Parenting is just what you do most days. You try and do a good job. If you are impatient or mean or inconsistent one day, you try and do better the next day. It’s a journey with no destination. You do the best you can. Because in the end that is all you can do. There is no pass/fail exam at the end. If one day you look and your kids are relatively social, smart, funny adults I think you might think you did a good job. It’s probably one of those situations where other people can see more easily that you can. I think my nephews are great kids and my brother and his wife are awesome parents. They probably only see what they think they aren’t doing right.

With my own boy, I think any faults he has are entirely my doing. I’m not training him well. A bit like what I once said about one of my employees – any deficits in his work are manager related (me not providing support/training/ clear expectations, etc). I see a lot of correlations between being a manager and being a parent. Unfortunately I can’t put co-workers in a time-out or take away their toys if they are not being a team player or sharing…

D and I laugh sometimes about the way we talk about our boy. Sometimes it must sound like we have a large dog that needs lots of fresh air and exercise. Because an active 4 year old does need lots of fresh air and exercise. And healthy food. And lots of sleep. And lots of love. I think I’m doing ok on the fresh air and exercise, definitely ok on the lots of love, doing better on the lots of sleep, it is the food that is the challenge in our house. People are often amazed by the fact that our boy doesn’t like chicken or pasta (what – no chicken nuggets or mac & cheese?). He’s not a meat eater, no potatoes, rice or pasta. His favorite foods are chocolate and French fries. (So now I have to take back all the nasty thoughts I ever had pre-kid about “my child would never eat…..”). He eats peanut butter sandwiches (and no other kind), cheese and crackers (according to the dentist cheese is great, crackers are bad, for teeth), oatmeal bars, bran muffins, all kinds of fruit, some vegetables (cucumber, carrots, peas, beans), yogurt….but I keep telling myself – if this is my biggest challenge I am so very blessed. I am.

But I’m getting tired of repeating myself. No, my child does not eat chicken or pasta or pizza. We went over to a friends for dinner last night and the other kids had bisgetti. Our boy won’t touch bisgetti so he had some sliced cucumber and crackers. Because the other thing is that if he doesn’t eat what’s for dinner, he doesn’t get a whole other cooked dinner. Partly because he wouldn’t eat the alternative anyway and partly because we are not short order cooks. If you are hungry you eat what is in front of you. If you don’t like it or don’t want it then you can have cheese and crackers and yogurt and fruit or you can go hungry. Your choice. But it’s hard to think that my child is hungry. Or now to face the comments about how thin he is. Because he takes after my husband, he is tall and thin, with skinny long legs. But he’s a stubborn boy. And he won’t eat what he doesn’t like. That is fine. But he also won’t eat anything he doesn’t think he’ll like. My biggest frustration is that he won’t even try things. Not even one little taste. On the rare occasion he will and discovers that he likes other things. Like radishes. We grew radishes in his garden this year so he tried one and liked it – not as much as cucumbers and carrots but still, a new vegetable for his plate. Yay!

Mushroom spinach wrap casserole

I got the idea for this recipe from a crepe recipe. It ended up being made in wraps instead of in crepes as I didn’t get to making the crepe batter until almost dinner time and then it wouldn’t have had the sitting time it needed. So I used sundried tomato tortillas instead. And it isn’t enchiladas because I used flour tortillas and it isn’t remotely Mexican. The idea of using tortillas came from reading this.

Mushroom spinach wrap casserole

1 bag (9 oz) baby spinach, washed
1 lbs of mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
½ c cream
1 c milk
½ c grated gruyere cheese
6-8 large tortillas
½ c grated parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, sauté the spinach until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain.

To the saucepan, melt the butter and then add the mushrooms. Cook until tender and turning brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, leaving any residual fat behind. Add the cream, milk and flour and whisk until smooth. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken, turn down the heat and add the cheese. Stir until smooth.

Assemble each tortilla by adding some of the spinach across the bottom of the tortilla. Add some of the mushrooms on top of the spinach. Roll up the tortilla and place, seam side down, in a greased baking pan. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled, evenly (as much as possible) dividing both the spinach and mushrooms between the tortillas. Pour the sauce over the filled tortillas. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 deg F or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Serve. (Sorry, there are no pictures - the sauce was a bit grey because of the mushrooms and the light wasn't great. And they were eaten very quickly.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

deconstructed stuffed potatoes

What this really is  - is a mess of mashed potatoes, mushrooms, collard greens, ham, seasoning and some saucy bits to hold it all together. Of course, T took one look at it and pronounced it "gross". D and I ate all of ours and it was good - otherwise I wouldn't share. Or, I would tell you not to make it.

Ham and Collard Green Potatoes (mummydinosaur original)

4 oz (120 g) sliced ham (I measured using my new Oxo kitchen scale - love it!)
1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons
1 c sliced mushrooms
2 1/2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp flour
350 mL milk
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp dry mustard
3 potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed and seasoned with sour cream and butter

Dry saute the collard greens over medium high heat until just wilted. Set aside. In the same pan, add the butter, mushrooms and ham and saute until the mushrooms are just starting to get brown. Add the flour and milk and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Add the mustards and pepper to taste. Add the cheese and let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add back the chard and stir to break up the chard. Heat for another 5 minutes. If the sauce is a bit thick, add more milk or some stock. Add the mashed potato and mix well and heat for another 5 minutes. Serve. This is a good, stick-to-your ribs supper for a cold and rainy night. If you have those.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

new year's eve dinner

As usual, D and I stayed in for New Year's Eve. We aren't big party types and D had to work early on Saturday so I decided to make a special dinner for the occasion. I made boeuf bourguignonne, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. I had meant to make sour cherry dumplings for dessert but in the end we settled on mince tarts I picked up at a local bakery - not as good as mine but I haven't made any yet. D liked them enough to polish off the whole box!

Boeuf Bourguignonne (adapted from la femme cooks)

3 lbs chuck pot roast, cut into 1" cubes
1 bottle red wine
1 carrot, cut into 1" pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into 1 " pieces
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 slices pancetta, cut into small cubes
3 tbs canola oil
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp flour
2 1/2 c low-fat, low-sodium beef broth
Bouquet garni (5 sprigs thyme, small piece of rosemary, 10 black peppercorns, in a teaball)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp  butter
10 oz white button mushrooms, quartered

Place the beef, wine, carrot, celery and onion in a plastic or glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving separately  the vegetables and the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To cook the beef, heat a large, heavy-duty pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 mins. Remove the pancetta and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat from the pan, add 2 tbsp of the canola oil and heat until shimmering.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear the beef in two or three batches, without crowding, until nicely browned on all sides and set aside. Add the reserved vegetables from the marinade and cook until they start to color, about 5-7 mins. Sprinkle on the flour and toss again to lightly coat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour turns brown, 2-3 mins. Return the beef to the pan. Add the reserved marinade liquid and enough stock to barely cover the meat.

Add the bouquet garni, tomato paste, and garlic to the pan. Bring to a boil on high heat on the cooktop. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 2.5-3 hrs.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, a sprig of thyme and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender, 5-7 mins. Set aside and keep warm.

Remove the bouquet garni from the beef and discard. Transfer the beef with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Puree the sauce and vegetables until smooth. Cook the pureed sauce over med-high heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon; if needed, thin with more stock to achieve this consistency. Return the beef to the sauce and turn to coat. Add the mushrooms, and reserved bacon to the beef and sauce and stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until warm and the flavors marry and blend, 5-7 mins. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

happy new year and a giveaway

Happy 2011 everyone! I wish you all good health and happiness.

I started off the year with somewhat of a resolution - to take my boy outside and be more active with him. So yesterday morning we went sledding on a local mountain - up in the snow the sun was out and it was beautiful. And we were early enough to get a parking spot and not have to walk for miles and beat the line ups. T had his pick of the 3 sliding runs each time and had a blast bombing down the hill and up the snowbank at the end of the run - then dragging his sled behind him up the hill to do it all again.

After about an hour we went for hot chocolate and on the way home we stopped to play at his favorite park (which has been refurbished so there is more to play with). Then it was home for lunch.

And to start off the New Year, I thought I would start off with a present for one of you. I have a box of Purdy's English Toffee to give away (Purdy's is a Canadian chocolate maker), so if you'd like it, please leave a comment by midnight PT Tuesday Sunday, January 4 9th and I'll pick a winner on Wednesday  next week.
The winner is Goldie. Thanks for reading!