Wednesday, November 13, 2013

corned beef hash

It wasn't something I planned on doing, but standing in the butcher shop a few weeks back, I spied a lump of meat labelled corned beef. And feeling in an adventurous mood, I picked it up. I got home and googled how to do it and was taken aback at the preparation. It isn't hard, but the instruction to brine something for 10 days is a bit of a surprise when you don't know what is involved. I went with Alton Brown's recipe for corned beef, when in doubt he's a good go to.

Corned Beef (adapted slightly from Alton Brown)
8 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (3 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
2 lbs ice
1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
In a large saucepan or stock pot, add the water, salt, sugar and spices and cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the ice and let cool. To a large zip lock bag, add the meat and the brine solution. Put the bag into a container and place in the fridge for 10 days, checking periodically to make sure the meat is submerged in the brine solution. (Note: the recipe calls for salt peter which I didn't have, which keeps the meat pink. Mine stayed pinkish with out it).
After 10 days, remove the meat from the brine and rinse well in cool water. In a pot just big enough to hold the meat, add the meat, onion, carrot and celery and enough water to cover the meat completely. Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer over low heat for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until the meat is tender. Slice thinly (if your meat doesn't fall apart) and serve.
I served the corned beef with roasted potatoes and carrots for supper. Then a couple of nights later I made corned beef hash with the leftovers.
Corned Beef Hash (inspired by a variety of sources and the memory of one my mum used to make)
4 c frozen hash brown potatoes
 1 lb of corned beef, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
a handful of button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 small dill pickles, diced
1 tsp of worchestershire sauce
1/2 c vegetable stock
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and peppers over medium high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the mustard, pickles, worchestershire sauce, potatoes, corned beef and stock and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often to keep everything from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more stock if the mixture gets too dry. Serve with or without a fried egg on top. It is completely worth brining your own corned beef to make corned beef hash. Delicious.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

keep on tryin'

So one of my challenges now is, to see if I can limit the amount of refined sugar and chocolate in our boy's diet.Of course, chocolate is it's own food group for him so this will be a challenge. And we got the suggestion the week before Hallowe'en.

our bald eagle takes flight?
So I didn't start right away. I mean I know parents who take their kids trick or treats away from them and sub in no sugar, no chocolate organic candy but I'm not that organized and my boy knows, to the piece, what he got in his bag and would not be on board with me taking anything but the twizzlers away. So I'm starting now. My first experiment is with granola bars. These are a big part of his food intake right now and I'm not proud of that but for me it is a way of getting cereal into him. So I rootled around google the other day and found this recipe and thought I would give it a go. I have yet to have the boy's take on whether they fly or not, but my husband likes them.

Chewy Granola Bars (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
1 c rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c rice krispie cereal
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp oat flour (I used ground rolled oats)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 c brown rice syrup
1 pack stevia
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp applesauce
1 handful each of chopped dried cherries, cocoa nibs and mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Pour the mixture into a parchment lined, well greased 8x8 pan and squish the mixture very flat (with a can). Bake for 18 minutes, then squish down again. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before cutting. Keep refrigerated to set.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

back in the swing

Erm - we were having a few technical difficulties over here, as in our hard drive packed up and left on holidays and we had to get a replacement. Still, we had a lovely, sunny summer with picnics at the beach and lots of fruit galettes. And crepes. Have you read Molly's ode to crepes? I love the way she makes everything she writes about seem so doable. So I have - made crepes several times this summer. Usually of a weekend morning, if fact, one morning, after hearing me putter around in the kitchen, my husband was most put out when it turned out, on that particular morning, that I hadn't been making crepes. So the crepe recipe is a hit. Also a hit has been Deb's burst tomato, corn and zucchini galette. We've had it most weeks since she posted the recipe, sometimes more than once. Hopefully, I'll remember this recipe next summer.

And one night, I had the galette filling and a stack of crepes in the fridge, so I combined the two. It was a lovely idea and made a delicious patio dinner outside, with the wasps. We didn't let them join in with us, though.

Molly's Crepes from remedial eating
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup flour, unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat
1 1/4 cup milk, ideally 2% or higher
3 tablespoons salted butter

Add the eggs to a mixing bowl, along with the salt and sugar. Whisk well, for about 30 seconds. Add half of the flour and half of the milk and whisk until no lumps remain. Then add the rest of the flour and milk and whisk again until no lumps remain. Melt the butter in your crepe pan. Pour 2 tbsp into your crepe batter and reserve the rest to grease your crepe pan. Use a 1/3 or 1/4 c measure to bring the crepe batter to the pan, swirl the batter until the bottom of the pan is covered and cook until the edges start to curl and brown. Flip and cook until slightly brown. Transfer to a plate and continue cooking until all the batter is gone. The crepes keep in the fridge for a few days, layered between sheets of wax paper and well wrapped in plastic wrap.You can also freeze them.

Filling - burst tomato, zucchini and corn from smitten kitchen
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher
3 cups grape tomatoes
1 ear corn, cut from the cob (about 1 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (or substitute 1 medium eggplant, diced and roasted)
1/2 bundle green onions, thinly sliced
10 basil leaves, sliced thinly
1/2 cup grated parmesan

In a saute pan, heat the oil. Add the tomatoes and salt and heat over medium high heat until the tomatoes have burst. Add the zucchini and cook for about 2 minutes, lowering the heat slightly. Add the corn and cook for another minute. Take the mixture off the heat and add the onions and basil.

To assemble the crepes, sprinkle a couple of pinches of parmesan over 1/4 of the crepe (triangle), add a couple of tablespoons of filling and then fold the crepe over the filling (in half, then in quarters). Continue until all the crepes or filling are used up. Place the filled crepes on a baking sheet and heat in a 350 deg F oven for about 10 minutes until the crepes are warmed through and the cheese is melted. Serve with a thin bechamel if desired.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

summer fruit galettes

The other day, there were lovely plums and peaches available at the fruit stand, so I bought some of both, thinking of making fruit galettes. I made my usual sweet dough pie dough and used an Ina Garten recipe as a jumping off point and turned out a lovely plum galette which was given away and then today, a peach galette.

Summer Fruit Galette (inspired by Summer Fruit Crostata from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home)

Dough (from Laura Calder)
1 c + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter, cold, diced
3-4 tbsp cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt and sugar and whiz until blended. Add the butter and pulse briefly so the butter is in large chunks through the flour. Add the vanilla and the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse briefly until the dough starts to come together. Remove from the processor, press together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

1 1/2 lb fruit, sliced into wedges (plums, peaches)
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp lemon juice
half a lemon's worth of zest
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Add the fruit to a bowl. Add the sugar, flour, vanilla, juice and zest and mix.

Preheat the oven to 450 deg F. Remove the dough from chilling and roll out into a 12" circle. Move the dough onto parchment paper, add the fruit filling over the center of the dough, evenly spreading it out to an inch or so of the edge. Fold the pastry over the fruit, towards the center, pleating the dough as you go around the pie. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle about 3/4 of it over the pie (over the crust and the fruit center). Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.

Monday, August 5, 2013

escape to the rock

Recently Molly has been writing about family traditions. And I was hard pressed to come up with our family traditions. It suddenly hit me on our long drive south to this place, for the seventh year in a row (I counted in my head) that this was one of our traditions. I should have realized earlier of course. And that our boy a few weeks earlier had called it, "our cottage in Oregon" should have been a big clue.

The drive down was fairly uneventful, no long border lines, no crazy traffic jams, only a slow drive from Seaside to Cannon Beach thanks to a utility pole replacement. This year it took some electronic amusements for the boy to stop the inevitable antsiness that sets in around hour 6 of the drive - the fascination for big trucks has waned but luckily the logging trucks in and around Longview Wa still entrall. We hit the beach and the boy immediately ran into the freezing surf and emerged half soaked before we made our way to the tidal pools around Haystack Rock. Luckily for this visit, low tide was mid-morning and early evening which allowed lots of time for exploring the tidal pools. There was also a morning riding fun cycles, some afternoon kite flying, a hike in Ecola State Park, and afternoon BBQ lunch, the usual digging in the sand and a beach bonfire while watching the sun go down. A lovely break from our regular busy days.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

summer so far

We've been so lucky in this neck of the woods, to have had a lovely, long stretch of sunny, hot (for us) summer days. We've been trying to make the most of the weather - picnics at the beach, dinner outside in the garden, ice cream cones, swimming/wading in the ocean, skateboarding, tennis, bike riding, slip and sliding at camp, a few days away, etc.

How has your summer been?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

thank you bags

I made these bags as teacher thank you gifts, which I packed with some home made cookies for our boy's favorite teachers, although lots more of his teachers and school staff got cookies as well, I ran out of time to make bags for everyone. I got the pattern over at the lovely and so helpful purlbee - this is listed as a 40 minute bag. It did take me longer to make these, as I couldn't find my rotary fabric cutter and had to do the cutting with scissors, but the bags do come together quite quickly and are a lovely size. I think the hardest part was chosing the fabric for the outer and inner bags.

I was really pleased with the way the bags turned out and will remember this pattern when stuck for gift ideas in the future.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dinner from the oven

Although our weather has been a bit too hot to do dinner from the oven lately and has been more salad based suppers, this is a good option if you aren't going to be in your kitchen while this is cooking. It's especially good when using new local potatoes.

Chicken with roasted shallots and roasted potatoes (adapted from David Lebovitz)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp soy sauce
2 shallots, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
6 chicken thighs
A couple of large handfuls of scrubbed new potatoes, sliced and chopped
Glug of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F.

In a baking dish big enough to hold all the chicken pieces, mix the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, shallots and some salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Turn so the pieces are all skin side up. In another baking dish toss the potatoe pieces with olive oil and then smooth the potatoes into a single layer. Bake for 40 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are golden brown.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

basil black pepper goat cheese and onion bread

I made this bread the first time fairly soon after Dana wrote about it. I remember we ate it quickly. And then, I forgot about it. Fast forward to last weekend, when I picked up a book from my overflowing shelves and found the recipe written on a scrap piece of paper. So I pulled up the post again and made the bread. This time I used black pepper and basil goat cheese from the market that was first to hand out of the cheese shelf. I was a bit haphazard with stacking and laying the dough in the loaf pan and ended up with a more layered effect but it still tastes wonderful.

Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread (adapted from Dana Treat and Food &Wine)
Makes one 9-inch loaf

1½ sticks cold butter, 1 stick cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely grated black pepper and basil goat cheese (3 ounces)
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk (1 c milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a large metal loaf pan. In a large skillet, melt the ½ stick of butter; pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a small bowl and reserve. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is softened, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the onion mixture onto a plate and refrigerate for 5 minutes, until cooled slightly. Stir in the cheese.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse 5 or 6 times, just until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into a 2-by-24-inch rectangle. Spread the onion mixture on top. Cut the dough crosswise into 10 pieces. Stack 9 pieces onion side up, then top with the final piece, onion-side down. Carefully lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan and brush with the reserved butter.

Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until it is golden and risen. Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding and serving.

warm asian salad with feta

This recipe was adapted from a Canadian cheese booklet of recipes I got somewhere, probably one of the grocery stores I frequent. This recipe caught my eye as I had substitutable ingredients and it sounds pretty good. And it was. It was meant (according to the recipe) to serve 4 but it barely served 2 for supper but maybe as I used mixed greens instead of spinach, it wasn't as chewy as it should have been.

Warm Asian Salad with Feta (adapted from All you need is cheese magazine)
1/3 c roasted cashews, in pieces
1/2 lb ground pork
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ginger, minced
 2 tsp thai green curry paste
1 medium red pepper, diced
4 c mixed green salad leaves
1 c crumbled feta

To a saute pan, add ground pork, shallot, garlic and ginger and cook until the pork is cooked all the way through. Add a bit of water to the green curry paste and stir it into the mixture.

Add the red pepper and salad leaves to a large salad bowl. Add the pork mixture, cashews and sprinkle with feta. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

evening picnic at the park (and a rice salad)

Our boy's field hockey ended a week ago which meant the end of late afternoons sitting around a field chatting with friends watching the boys play. So I thought of inviting a few of them to have a picnic in the park at the beach just over the railway tracks from where the boys played hockey. It was a grey and drizzly day but there were patches of blue developing through the afternoon. By the time we all rolled into the park, it was mostly sunny and clear and warm enough to be pleasant. We snagged a couple of picnic tables, shooed off the birds, and laid out our shared meal. Some buns, deli meats, a roast chicken and a couple of salads.

The kids ran around playing war and dodgeball and my boy waded in the surf up to his armpits. We watched the new lifeguards in training and enjoyed the evening. This went by.

My contribution was this brown rice salad from Catherine at Ben and Birdy which was a big hit.

Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus, Feta and Lemon (adapted from Ben and Birdy)
2 c brown rice
1 large bunch of asparagus
1 shallot, minced
5 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 c crumbled feta
3/4 c chopped, toasted almonds

Add the rice to boiling water (cook it like pasta) and let cook for 25 minutes. Drain well and then add back to the pot, cover with a towel and the lid and let steam for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, lay out the asparagus on a baking sheet, and roast for about 5 minutes in a 375 deg F oven until the asparagus is slightly tender and slightly browned. Cut into 1" pieces.

Dry roast the almonds over medium high heat until the almonds are toasty brown.

Mix the lemon juice, shallots and olive oil in a small jar and shake to mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

For the picnic, I kept all the pieces separate - rice, asparagus, feta, almonds and dressing and then combined them all at the table. Lovely.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

more baked eggs

The other night, another late home, starving, need dinner fast night I made a switched up version of the baked eggs I recently wrote about. I didn't have asparagus and leeks in my fridge but I did have mushrooms and spinach so that is what I used.

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms (adapted from Edible Vancouver)
4 oz bacon, sliced thinly
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 bags (~14 oz) spinach
salt and pepper
1/2 c vegetable stock
1/4 c cream
1 tsp dried thyme
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. In a large saute pan, cook the bacon and mushrooms until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and let it start to wilt then add the stock and cream and stir to mix. Add in the thyme and then create 6 wells. Break the eggs into the wells and then put the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the eggs are set. I sprinkled some parmesan shavings over the top and served with some hot french bread.

Monday, May 27, 2013

magic sauce

I recently wrote about the addition of white fish to our diet. We have continued to eat fish (twice more this week) which is still shocking to me. I put it down to my magic sauce I serve with most of the fish. It is just my version of tartar sauce.

Fish Sauce
2 small dill pickles, chopped (from my pantry)
1 large soup spoon full of mayonaise
l large soup spoon full of plain greek yogurt
1 big squeeze of lime juice (or lemon juice if that is what you have)
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
3-4 shakes of dried dill

Chop the dill pickles and add to a small bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed. Serve with fish.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

in the garden

It was rainy for most of yesterday but it cleared in the late afternoon. I wandered around my garden, looking at the progress of some seeds I planted and other things I had purchased and replanted and things are coming along. The Korean lilac is blooming and is a heady scent.

 I clipped some blossoms to make a small bouquet for the house. Wandering around between the plants,

herb planter

giant aliums




I could smell the lilac and the lemony scent of the chicken wings baking in the oven (a Nigel Slater recipe - mustard, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and I subbed maple syrup for the called for honey).

chicken wings before baking
baked chicken wings - delicious

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I've been surrounded by camouflage material recently. Our boy needed a weighted vest to help him focus at school and I knew he likely wouldn't wear the style of vest available through the specialty website as he was reluctant to wear it even in the house when we got one to try out. So I thought I would try and make one he would like to wear. I lucked out a the fabric store and found a whole rack of camouflage type fabric and settled on the navy (navy) and brown (army) in the hopes that the camouflage would feed into his love of army and navy enough to encourage the vest use at school. I ordered the vest weights online
one weight lying on the inside pocket

weights inside the pocket
and waited so I could make the interior pockets the right size to hold them. I chose a basic vest with lining pattern, laid a piece of heavy cotton on the inside of the navy piece to hold the weights and sewed the vest following the pattern. I admit, I did have to unpick my work a few times but in the end I have a reversible vest, that holds 6 - 1/2 lb weights that looks cute and so far he likes to wear.

Early days yet, so I'm hopeful this will last.

And inspired by this post of Molly's I made a couple of camo outfits for his tooth fairy mice- which got to go to school for montre et raconte (show and tell).