Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I won't be posting for over a week, as we are heading to Orlando early Friday morning, and I'm unsure of the availability of internet connection where we are staying. My parents are coming in from Australia and we are spending the week at Disney.

Marc and I will be having dinner at Emeril's Orlando on Tuesday night, so I'm hoping to get some good photos of that dinner, although I'm not sure how kindly it will be looked on if I pull out my camera and start taking photos, but I'm going to try.

We are actually staying at a time share which is not a Disney property, but we are eating at the Chefs de France in Epcot on Monday night.

I'll be back in a week!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday night omelette......

We are getting ready to drive to Orlando on Friday, so this weekend is "eat out the frigde festival". My husband offered to make omelettes for dinner, and I quickly agreed. He used to be the buffet custom order egg cook at the Elks Club. They turned out really well and we ate up the mushrooms!!

2 eggs + 1/2 teaspoon water.
3 diced mushrooms
3 pieces julienned sun dried tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons cheese - we used Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Pinch of parsley

Mix two eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of water and a pinch of parsley. Whip vigorously, set aside.

Dice mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and saute in a little butter until liquid from the mushrooms evaporates. Thinly slice cheese.

Heat pan to medium, spray lightly with PAM. Pour egg mixture in and let it form a skin. Cook until top is almost completely cooked. Lay the cheese on the omelette down the middle, and then put the mushroom and sundried tomato mixture on top of the cheese. Fold into thirds with the overlapped side on the bottom.

Cook long enough for the cheese to melt and the remaining eggs to cook. At medium heat the egg should not turn brown. The cooking time is no more than 5 mins.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Orange Pound Cake

Apparently I've become obsessed with orange cake after the last try from the retro recipe box. I decided to try Ina's version (from Barefoot Contessa Family Style) this weekend and see how it turned out. I also happened to have half a bag of oranges and I like to use my juicer attachment on the kitchen aid.

I liked how it turned out - it was a lot more moist than the Orange Velvet Cake, but I still wasn't really sold. The orange is nice, but it's just not as good as a lemon flavour, in my opinion. The bittersweet chocolate buttons that I used on the top gave it a nice lift!!

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has a fantastic orange cake recipe that they would like to share!

½ pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 ½ cups granulated sugar - divided
4 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)
1/3 cup grated orange zest (6 oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice - divided
¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ -inch loaf pans. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the orange zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine ¼ cup orange juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup orange juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and orange juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Weekend Dinners

I haven't posted for a few days as nothing really remarkable has come out of the kitchen since Thursday night! I can't even remember what we had for dinner on Friday night - so it must not have been amazing. On Saturday we had Indian. I don't make it from scratch, I use the Kitchens of India Butter Chicken paste, and also their Palak Paneer. I tried making my own chapati as well, and it was a bit of a disaster. I don't think I had enough water in the dough. Anyway, they all burned a bit and tasted like paper, so that was a waste of time and flour.

Sunday I made Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad from the ever trusty May 2008 Everyday Food. I thought it turned out nicely and was really easy to put together.

I've had some very successful Asian dinners from the Everyday Food. I've done a Green Chicken Curry, Cashew Chicken, the Thai Chicken Salad and a light salad with cilantro dressing and chicken and cashews.

We are going to have the Turkey Burgers again tonight. I need a full stomach so I can deal with Andrew Lloyd Webber night on American Idol and then of course, Hell's Kitchen!!!! I wonder what Gordon with throw on the wall tonight?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hells Kitchen - Chop up a Chicken

On Tuesdays Hells Kitchen no one messed up the risotto much to my disappointment. In fact, it looked like they actually served some risottos to Gordon's standard. Boo.

The task tonight was to cut up a chicken in eight pieces and do it properly. Ramsay demonstrated. I really hate the camera work in these segments because there is always something blocking the shot and you can't clearly see how he's doing it. I'm sure I'm not alone wishing that you could see that properly, I'd love to see him really demonstrate that.

Needless to say the dinner service was horrible, although less horrible than the last two weeks, and some people actually got their appetisers.

Then everyone started to burn meat, under cook salmon and set the range on fire and Gordon banged his head repeatedly on the counter top and then complained of a headache and then Shut. It. Down.

Can't wait for next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chicken Fajita Tostadas

We had the Chicken Fajita Tostadas again tonight. Delicious. The recipe is from April's Everyday Food and it's a really easy, healthy, quick dinner.

I made a few changes to the original recipe:

1 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 or 3 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced (I used 1/2 each of yellow, orange and red bell peppers)
1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels ( I used the frozen Roasted Corn Kernels from Trader Joe's)
1 cup prepared fresh salsa
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
4 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. On foil, combine onions, bell peppers, corn, 1/4 cup salsa (I used a lot more than this. The first time I made it 1/4 cup was not enough), and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.

Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken, stir to combine, and continue to roast until warmed through, 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken and vegetable mixture to a serving bowl, discarding foil (reserve sheet).

Arrange tortillas on sheet. Dividing evenly, brush with remaining tablespoon oil; top with cheese. Bake until edges are golden and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes.
Dividing evenly, top tortillas with chicken-vegetable mixture and remaining 3/4 cup salsa.

These have been a huge hit both times I've made them.

ps. Haven't watched Tuesday's Hell's Kitchen yet, so I don't know if Gordon disapproved of anyones risotto!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We had this for dinner tonight. An oldy but a goody!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just in time for Hell's Kitchen tonight...

I made a mushroom and pea risotto for dinner. First time I've ever made one. Gordon Ramsay, please come to my house for dinner and I'll make you a risotto that hopefully, you won't throw against the wall. Everyone ate it up no problem except my 7 yr old, but he did eat some of it, just picked out the mushrooms, onion and peas. Sigh.

The basic recipe for the risotto is is from April's Everyday Food. It's a bit time consuming and you have to prep everything before you start, but the dish turned out really well and was easy. If it's so easy, what's the problem? Every person Gordon Ramsay has ever met in either Kitchen Nightmares in England or the US or Hell's Kitchen has been unable to produce a risotto that has passed Gordon's taste test. Maybe mine wouldn't either!!

Here's the recipe:

2 cans (14.5oz each) reduced sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan.
1lb mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1 cup frozen peas

In a small saucepan, combine broth with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and keep at a bare simmer.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Add 2 cups of broth. Simmer over medium-low stirring occasionally,until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed,** about 25 minutes total. The rice should be tender (but not mushy) and suspended in liquid with the consistency of heavy cream. (I didn't need all the broth - I added the first 2 cups and then 1 cup more and that was fine)

**Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in some butter and then add them to the risotto after you have added the last cup of broth. Add the frozen peas at this time also. After stirring for about 1 minute, the risotto should be almost ready.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in Parmesan and butter, serve.

I thought it turned out well. Not mushy and not undercooked. I did not move away from the saucepan at any time during the process though. So don't wander off and start watching the Gilmore Girls or anything like that!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mesquite Ribs

The weather turned out to be fantastic last night so my husband threw some ribs on the grill and we decided to use two different rubs that we have. A regular Mesquite Rub (John Henry's brand), which is mild and the one I like, and a Sweet Mesquite Rub which is Kirkland brand from Costco. The Sweet Mesquite was too spicy for me as it has pepper, chili pepper and red pepper, along with onion garlic and red bell pepper as well as the regular mix of sugars.

The rub goes on first and then cook slowly on a low temperature for about an hour and a half.

And this is my five year old clowning around with a S'more in her mouth!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crab Cake Appetisers

I made some crab cake appetisers today for tonight's dinner. I really love this recipe from Everyday Food, and I've made it once before as a main dish. The recipe makes 8 good sized crab cakes, and I made 20 mini crab cakes with mixture left over, from half the recipe. I used a 1lb tub of Phillips lump crab meat that I got at Costco.

The full sized ingredients list is

1 pound small-sized fresh crab meat, such as special or claw

1 pound larger sized fresh crab meat, such as jumbo or backfin

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus wedges for serving)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 cup fine saltine crumbs (about 30 crackers)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, eggs, mustard, Old Bay, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add crumbs and small-sized crab meat to mayonnaise mixture; stir well to combine. Gently fold in larger sized crab meat just until combined. Dividing evenly, form mixture into 8 cakes.

(you can make these up to 1 day ahead and store them on parchment paper in the fridge).

Place cakes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with the melted butter. Broil until golden brown and warmed throughout. 12 - 15 mins.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Health Food .....Please?

We had Chicken Fajita Tostadas tonight for dinner. They really turned out well and were delicious.

After dinner I found this message from my 7yr old at his place at the table!

Retro Recipe Box - Orange Velvet Cake

I whipped up another one from the retro Recipe Box this afternoon. It's a Orange Velvet Cake. My mother assures me it's delicious and has been bugging me to make it (truth: asked me nicely once in an email)

It turned out really nicely. I thought the batter was a bit thick and strange when I made it, but it cooked up well.

This picture with the green icing is a bit off putting, but that's the 70's for you.

Here's the recipe:

6oz butter (stick and a half)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon orange juice (I just squeezed the juice of one orange and used that)
2 1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder.

Cream butter with sugar and orange rind. Add eggs, one at a time, then orange juice; beat well. fold in sifted flour and baking powder alternately with the milk. Fill into buttered loaf pan, bake at 350F for 45 mins.

Allow to stand in pan 10 mins than turn out on to a cooling rack.

I put all the batter into one loaf pan,and it came nearly to the top and the cake rose up quite high, but you could get two cakes out of it, but they would not be as high.


I made a chocolate icing for this cake, but the original recipe called for a butter icing made with 2oz of butter and then add confections sugar and beating until the right consistency for spreading. This is slightly vague for me, so I did the chocolate one this way:

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup less 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

And then you could also do an orange flavoured glaze or lemon flavoured glaze:

1 cup confections sugar sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice.

We had the cake after dinner and it was a bit crumbly for my liking, but the flavour was excellent. Next time I'd probably put in a little bit more milk and a little more orange juice to moisten it up a bit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hells Kitchen - Fillet of Halibut

Last night on Hells Kitchen it was more of the same. Blank stares and yelling. Gordon was livid that there had been so much waste in the service the night before, so he had the trash truck back up and dump the bags in the driveway and all the contestants had to go through and sort out the garbage. Totally stupid. They made so much mess in the driveway it was more repulsive than the waste. So point made, they all went back to the kitchen and the Gordon proceded to fillet a hallibut with a VERY SHARP knife. He made it look so easy, but it couldn't have been that hard because the dumbo contestants manaaged to make 41 acceptable fillets each from their halibuts. Then I guess they attempted to serve it for dinner after each team has mauled it. Yuk.

Meanwhile the men won the "challenge" of cutting up fish and got to go on a yacht with Gordon who was nice to them for 2 hours before going back to yelling at them during the dinner service.

Dinner was basically more of the same except a few more people got their dinner. It all ended in tears with Gordon screaming "shut it down". This after screaming "where's the beef" 40 times in a row. Maybe if Gordon gave them a few cooking lessons in the morning, they might be able to produce a dinner in the evening?

Sharon was utimately sent home because she spent more time worrying about her make up than her cooking. She is a "room service chef" which translated means she works in a hotel kitchen. I think.

So Gordon in scary mode has even managed to scare me, because I am determined to make a good rissoto. I've found a nice recipe in Everyday Food,so I'm going to try it out this week. You know, just in case Gordon drops by and screams at me to produce the perfect risotto!!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Garlic and Parmesan Turkey Burgers

Tonight for dinner, after the frenzy of the Banana Cake and the Whopper cookies I thought that burgers would be a good idea, seeing as I didn't actually have to go outside and cook them on the grill, I could get my husband to do that!

I adapted the burger recipe from an Everyday Food recipe for meatballs.

1 lb of ground lean turkey
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 cloves of garlic or 2 teaspoons of ready minced garlic
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and then form into six good sized burgers. They take about 20 mins on the grill.

I threw them on some ciabatta rolls with shredded lettuce and some tomato. Delicious.

Brown Bananas

And along with the Whopper Cookies, I threw together a Banana Cake this afternoon. I was on a roll! I'm totally convinced my family lets the bananas get over ripe so I will be forced into making a banana cake. I'm wising up to their tricks.


I just made the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops from Dorie Greenspans Baking: From My Home To Yours. Totally fantastic. Sort of cakey, and very chocolatey and malty, but not overly so. I think the use of bittersweet choc chunks really makes it. They were super easy to put together. I love a drop cookie. I'm too lazy to roll and cut, except if I'm making the Lemon Flowers .

So here is the recipie - well worth a try!!

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk power – Or Ovaltine
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups (6oz) Whoppers (or Malteasers) coarsely chopped
6 oz bittersweet chocolate or 1 cup store bought chocolate chips or chunks.

** Admission: I did not read/remember about the coarsely chopped Whoppers, so I threw mine in whole, and the cookies still turned out fine, if a bit chunky. However, I would recommend chopping the Whoppers.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Preheat the oven on 350F

Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 mins until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled, it will even out when the dry ingredients are added.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will look more like fudge frosting than cookie dough - and that’s fine. With the mixer on low, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the malted milk balls and chopped chocolate (or chips).

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between spoonfuls. Bake for 11 –13 mins (I did the full 13). When done the cookies will be puffed and set but slightly soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 mins before putting them on the cookie rack to cool to room temperature.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hells Kitchen?

I think I'm going to apply to Hell's Kitchen for next season, as apparently the only qualification you need is to be able to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your kids. The first guy kicked out by Ramsey was a stay at home Dad, who had apparently never cooked a scallop before. How hard can it be? I'm sure not as easy as cooking them for the family, because Gordon does have high expectations, and it is a "restaurant", but really, to throw out 30 scallops? I'm sure I would have caught on after I'd had to throw out the first two batches. Anyway, Gordon was in fine form, popping his pooffle valve every thirty seconds over some heinous insult to the world of food, mainly sucky rissotto.

I don't feel sorry for the contestants at all. They know what they are getting into when they sign up for Hell's Kitchen. And they also must know that Gordon Ramsey is totally overacting. I have a small crush on Gordon, especially after watching his Kitchen Nightmares on BBCAmerica. He's really quite caring and not the incessant screamer that he plays on Hells Kitchen. You also have to bear in mind that this show is on FOX, masters of tricky editing, producers interference and cheesy "reality TV". The only reason I tuned in this week was because there is nothing else on at the moment, and I like Gordon.

As far as the food goes on this show it's is secondary to showcasing massive incompetence, so it's not really about food at all, unlike Top Chef, which I consider one of the best reality shows on TV.

I haven't caught up with this weeks episode of Top Chef, but I did watch last weeks, when they had to cook for the block party. Miraculously no one has broken out the truffle oil yet. Maybe Chef Colichhio banned it this season? I thought that whole challenge was a bit underwhelming and I didn't like the Quick Fire - which was to make a fine dining taco. Usually all the food they come up with all sounds great, and I always feel bad for the people that get kicked off. They do put their hearts into it.

When they post the next "At Home Challenge" I'm going to give it a try.

Am I Blind?

I rushed home from the library today with Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours because I really wanted to make the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drop cookies. NO OVEN TEMPERATURE!!!! Am I blind? I re-read the page a zillion times, checked all the other recipes, they all had temps!!

I'm going to go with 350F, but if anyone knows better, please let me know!!