Personally, I’m friends with it. Whether in the Kitchen or just in life, it’s inevitable, but it also means you’re LEARNING, you’re T R Y I N G , you’re getting out of the box – and isn’t that what counts?! If you play life safe, you MAY never fail – but you never grow, either. Nowhere is that more easily apparent than in cooking.
In cooking I absolutely count more failures than successes. WAIT – so why DO I spend so much time in the Kitchen again?! UGH. Cooking is creative. It has more variables than my Husbands spreadsheets. I think – who knows what he really does… I digress.
Food is taste and touch and smell and feel and textures and heat and cold and sharp and soft, fire and ice. That said, cooking has far more room for acceptable error than baking, which is probably why I typically avoid baking altogether.
Until bread. BREAD is creating a massive failure out of me these days.
I started my bread journey last year when my ‘gluten free’ daughter was home for summer break. It quickly became a beast of it’s own – not that it was difficult, but more so the enormous number of steps involved, only not to rise well in my crappy old oven. Once my starter was left a few days too many, I let it die and we were done with bread. Or so I thought…
Since quarantine, everyone has been posting about Jo Cooks ‘No Knead’Bread and it’s perfect and delicious in every way. Literally foolproof – my Husband even made it once. But dry yeast has become quite the rare commodity, so onward I ventured. I started working towards a recipe that uses wild yeast AND does not need kneading (as does the labour-intensive aforementioned Sourdough). And try after try, it’s JUST. NOT. WORKING. (Yet?)
A few weeks ago, as I was about to throw out a batch of dense, solid, WOULD NOT RISE bread dough one day, I suddenly stopped to ponder what other tasty treats this dead-looking mass could yield.
AND WHO KNEW these heavy balls of failure could make the most delicious Flatbread! The boys can’t stop eating it. It’s light, crispy and cracker-like, and it works so well with TOPPINGS like the Tapanade or Tuna Spread. Or even the massive batch of Guacamole we made the other day. Or a simple Lemon-Ricotta spread. Or … I mean, it’s endless, honestly.
Now that’s what I’d call turning lemons into lemonade! We’re eating these like madness around here because, well, I’m failing at bread a lot. And no one here seems to mind a bit. SO, yes, I’m friends with failure. I mean, look where it can take you?!
Do you have a particular recipe you just can’t seem to work?? Share it below!
It’s another quarantine-induced quandry… How to feed a larger household 3 squares a day without killing myself – or someone else – but also to recognize and be grateful that food does bring us together… To treat it all in a way that the work of food and eating won’t turn us into tired, hungry, full, snippy little zombie-esque animals.
Normally in a family with 4 kids, even though we almost always had dinner together, it was otherwise more rare that everyone is home or home at the same time for meals other than dinner. With the girls living on their own, it’s a slightly lesser load, but still mostly focused on 1 meal – dinner. But QUARANTINE?! We’re almost ALL here. 6 of us. Full time. Breakfast, lunch + dinner. Every. Single. Day.
Sure, feeding everyone isn’t just MY responsibility, but being organized so that none of us are overwhelmed with cooking is. If any few of us want to eat well, that is. And I do want the yummy food. Food absolutely brings people together in a beautiful way – when we’re all relaxed and enjoying a well-cooked meal together. Now to make sure none of us regret this time … haha ha haha <Oh, did that laughter sound crazy and NERVOUS to you?! It was… >
For the next few weeks we’ll be back to a full house of 6 FULL TIME HUMANS – Six! SIX!! – with lists of ‘special orders’ they’re wanting to eat, things they’ve missed from home or have been craving. Take-out can be REALLY expensive for 6-8 people. It’s a bit cheaper to break it up by ordering in Lunch, vs a full Dinner. My ultimate solution for it all? A LOT of prep… We’ll see if it works.
Ready?! I’m figuring this out in real time here! Braces yourselves! Also, I got a brand new Vitamix, so – bear with me …
DINNER: Pan-Seared Steaks in Butter (make 1-2 extra Steaks for Pho, save pan juices) Grilled Veg + Kale Caesar Salad Mashed Potato (Vitamixed smooth!!) (make extra for Eggsluts tmrrw) Fresh ‘No Knead’ Bread (started the day before) (save extra loaf)
BREAKFAST: Poached Eggs on bed of leftover Ravioli filling on Cracklebread
LUNCH: Other Tomatoes/Cucumber/Lemon/Chive from Pasta for “Greek” Salad w Meat Skewers
DINNER: Extra Pasta (rolled as Tagliatelle, dried on counter) with Carbonara, Strong (melty) Cheese, grated Cured Egg Yolk – a few days later … Kale Caeasar Salad Fruit Crisp with Ice Cream
BREAKFAST: Leftover Fruit Crisp Yogurt Bowls w Fresh Fruit from Pavlova
LUNCH: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w last night Strong Melty Cheese, Sage from Ravioli, Bacon from Tagliatelle Carbonara
DINNER: Thomas Keller Sous Vide Salmon (MasterClass) w Green Beans or Asparagus (if leftover) + Bearnaise Sauce Buy 1 extra salmon for curing – start it earlier if possible Souffle (Julia Child style EVERY time) JUST BECAUSE! Zucchini Mandolin Salad French Butter Cake w home-canned Peaches (only a few left!!) and Grand Marnier Whip
BREAKFAST: Leftover French Butter Cake, Yogurt w Peaches
LUNCH: Salmon (extra, cooked) Pasta Salad w Celery, Mayo, Chives
DINNER: Homemade Gnocchi w Fresh Pesto Sauce, Fried Pancetta, sliced Portobello Artichokes w Mayo / Parm / Cured Egg Yolk dips Apple Pie w Filling made from our Trees last year
BREAKFAST: Round #2 of Eggsluts w extra Gnocchi potato, pureed with a few pcs of Pancetta – because they ARE that good
LUNCH: Portobello ‘Pizza’ Melts from whatever is in the Fridge / leftovers / etc, including leftover Artichoke Hearts, Fried Pancetta
DINNER: Thai Takeout from Kids Work 🙂 Start No Knead Bread + Flatbread for tomorrow’s Lunch/Dinner
BREAKFAST: Bagels w Cured Salmon (2 days), Capers, Cream Cheese etc.
LUNCH: Another leftovers / veg/dip / Antipasto platter w Flatbreads
DINNER: Seafood FEAST from Lobster Man (treat day!) incl Clam Linguine (buy Prawns, but save for tmrrw) Ottolenghi Celery Lemon Salad Fresh No Knead Bread for all them juices!!
LUNCH: Seafood Ramen (w fresh Stock, extra celery) add saved Prawns, Bok Choy, Pho fixings
It looks overwhelming – and that covers only 8 or 9 days! – but with prep, I don’t actually have to do all the work. Anyone can easily prep the Eggsluts the day after our Steak Dinner. In fact, it’s already half done. Once the ‘base meal’ has been made, anyone available can chip in quite easily for the secondary meals. Shopping can easily be done ahead and with fewer trips, knowing what we’re having ahead of time. A bit OCD on the Prep? Well, my very sanity is at risk, PEOPLE! Haha.
There is NO need to follow THIS list precisely – that’s not why I wrote it out. Although if you do I’d love to hear how it turns out for you LOL! I actually had to think through it for myself, so thought I’d share it. But maybe there’s a few ideas in there, and maybe it helps to think about ‘carrying over’ the meals you are ALREADY making so it’s less work in the end. Maybe this all still looks like a lot of work and you’d rather do take out LOL – can’t blame ya! Really, it’s my fault for having so many kids that love food, and for letting them date and bring in more humans to the fold who also love food … LOL
That’s not 12 days! Here are a few extra ideas to fill in the other meals, to give you some flexibility filling in a day here or there:
Big meals like Lasagne that feed masses – just put in the oven, add salad, and go!
Easy ‘everyone help’ meals, like grilled veg and meats on the BBQ – simple chopping – are good anytime
If Breakfast can be mostly ‘pre-made’ while already in the Kitchen prepping Dinner the night before, then why not?!
Bond over a more labour-intensive meal prep together once or twice, such as fresh Gnocchi or the Poached Egg Pasta
Easy snackables like peas in shells, small cucumbers, baby carrots and dips
Don’t feel bad – we all mix in the odd McDonald’s drive-thru, Kraft Dinner or Frozen Perogies smothered in bacon + cheese for lunch, or some local take-out for dinner. It’s all good!
MELTS! You can put just about any leftover on a piece of bread, add cheese, toast and VOILA!
Movie + Nacho / Popcorn Nights are all you need for dinner sometimes – it’s our favorite!
We often designate the night before who will be helping with what (cooking, table setting, dishes) the next day, so that everyone can ‘schedule’ it into their brains what needs to get done. ANYHOW, we’ll see how it goes… ! Will all these meals happen EXACTLY as planned? Absolutely not. But at least it’ll work out more often than not. As I was sorting through photos, I realized this is basically 6 weeks of Quarantine food squished into a 2 week ‘hilight reel’ LOL!
WISH ME LUCK! After these few weeks, it’s back to our regular programming of *just* the 4 of us. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. EVERY DAY.
With just a few easy tips and tricks introduced into your everyday cooking habits, you can reduce ACTUAL food waste by a LOT! I’ve been shocked to see how much of my ‘garbage’ during cooking can actually be re-purposed or used later.
Most of the steps (15 ++!) below have become part of my everyday habits now, reducing what ends up in the bin – or at the very least, getting a second use out of it before it does.
Some of these you may have heard of, but hopefully there’s a new one or two in there for you! Ready for some win-wins?!
Vegetable Odds + Ends > Stock
When doing a big cook, I typically end up with a lot of scrap – but FEAR NOT! There are a lot of ‘still useful’ bits in there, perfect for a future meat, fish or vegetable stock. If I’m not using it right away, I make ‘stock baggies’ of these bits that go in the freezer until needed.
Leftover Egg Yolks > Cured Egg Yolks
A lot of recipes use EITHER egg yolks or whites. Whites are easily added to many dishes, but what to do with extra yolks?! SALT CURE THEM! Add that umami-touch to just about any dish you would typically add parmesan cheese to. I’ve started salt/sugar curing Egg Yolks and shaving it on just about everything for some added protein, and to cut down Panko carbs or cheesey fats that I normally would have used.
Seeding Potatoes > New Potato Plants
Forgot about that bag of potatoes on the floor?! Yep. Did you know you that as long as the ‘eyes’ have grown out, you can plant them for a fresh, new potato?? YOU CAN!
Although shown here cut, I would leave them whole next time and see what happens. Will update when they grow, but so far so good!
Bacon (or Duck) Fat > Cooking Fat
When I’m making bacon for breakfast, I often just leave the fat in the pan, ready to be used for lunch or dinner. BUT you can also keep it in the Fridge. I keep one container for Bacon Fat and one for (rendered) Duck Fat. It’s perfect to pull out for extra flavor when searing steaks or a roast – or when sauteeing your Green Beans!
Asparagus Ends > Cooking Bits
Where you break off the Asparagus stalk (if you do), isn’t where the usefulness of Asparagus stalks end. Asparagus ‘Dimes’, as I’ve seen them called, are perfect for adding to any variety of dishes, soups, stocks, etc. I keep them in a bag in the freezer and pull out a fist-ful anytime I need it!
Bones + Shells > Stock
Yep – more stock! We love a good seafood feast, and pretty much always save the shells (white wine chorizo sauce drips and all) and freeze them until we have enough variety to make a ‘super stock’. Same goes for packs of bone marrow bones (roasted), beef roast bones, etc. There are purists when it comes to making stocks, and sometimes I do the same, but when I’ve collected a variety of fish heads, crab shells, clam/oyster shells with ALL their drippy flavors left on, I make a SUPER STOCK. (See also my Stock making PRO TIPS above!).
Citrus Rind > Spices
Before juicing lemons or limes, I grate the rind off first. As it’s left on the counter, it dries enough to be used for any dish you like. I don’t worry about covering it tight or leaving it in the fridge – honestly, it gets used up far too fast anyhow. It’s one of my favorite ‘spices’ and I add it to almost everything!
Fresh Herbs > Dried Herbs
Some herbs just don’t get all used up – and some dry better than others, but Thyme, Rosemary and Tarragon are actually much easier to use slightly dried out. Rather than keep it in the fridge, I leave it out on the counter (alongside the rest of my little countertop science experiments LOL). Even though it’s technically dried, it still packs a lot of that fresh flavor if you use it within a week or two.
Parmesan Rind > Gooey Umami Flavoring
Don’t throw these away!! Skim off the waxy printed outside and keep in the freezer. Add to all kinds of risottos, pasta sauces or dishes that could use a bit of umami-y cheesey gooeyness, like the Cauli + Leek Soup.
Garlic > Garlic Confit
Tired of buying heads of garlic, only to open it and find it’s already growing green sprigs of bitterness? UGH – ME, TOO! For most dishes, though, I also just prefer a softer garlic taste. ENTER Garlic Confit! I’ve been making it so long by now, it’s become a staple. And it’s SO EASY!
The extra perk is that not only can you add the garlic to any dish or salad dressing – or just spread on Flatbreads – you can also use the garlic-infused oil for even more options. A win-win.
Green Onions > More Green Onions
Yep – you heard it right. Mo’ equals Mo’! Once you’ve cut the green off your delicious green onion, you can put the rooted bits in water and they’re GROW AGAIN! FOR FREE! The only catch is that you need to change the water EVERY day. It gets really smelly, and the roots will rot after awhile, so use the new shoots right away.
Beet Tops > Grilled Veg + Greens
I used to throw away all these goodies and just eat the beets, because the first time I tried sautéeing beet tops it was sinewy like celery and really unappetizing. But once I diced it – and the green leaves – and sautéed them, turned out they were delicious. Now I save them – whole – in the fridge, and chop a handful to add to any other vegetable sautées like garlic Bok Choy, Green Beans, Asparagus… I’m making myself hungry…
Lemon Inners > Lemon Ice Cubes
Once you’ve saved your rinds, and used the juice in a recipe, what’s left? The citrus ‘walls’! What the heck can you do with them?! Well, usually there is still a lot of juice and pulp sacs attached, so pulling them out, adding a leaf or two of mint and you have great ice cubes. Add a bit of the lemon juice while you’re at it – did you know citrus helps your body absorb iron from your food?
While you’re at it, use the mint leaves for your dishes, and dice up the stems for these water perk-ups.
Citrus ‘Inners’ + Rind > Marmelade
I was introduced to this GENIUS hack on a trip to Palm Springs! We were drinking SO MUCH fresh citrus juice we were gettting overrun with peels – and waste. Our lovely host showed us how to use the rind (NOT the white pithy parts – they’re too bitter) and all the innards (the walls and leftover juice sacs) to make a DELICIOUS MARMELADE!
It was so good I made a batch with Mandarin Oranges one holiday season since we were eating so many of them, and it became everyone’s Christmas Stocking treat.
‘Butt’ Bread Ends > Toasted ‘Panko’
No one ever wants the hard, extra crusty ‘butts’ of the loaves of bread around here. Well, I sure don’t! BUT -save them! You can dry them out on the counter a few days, or toast in the oven then leave out to finish drying, and pulse in a food processor until you have gorgeous, toasted bread crumbs!
If they’re already dry, I toast them AFTER processing, as I typically do with Panko crumbs. They’re perfect to sprinkle on your Salads, or grilled Veg dishes.
Want a few MORE tips?!
Eggshells > washed, inside skin removed and finely ground, eggshells can be added to your garden for calcium-loving plants – or to deter pesky slugs!
Coffee Grinds > acid-loving plants like Blueberries love to have coffee grinds added into the mulch. And apparently they ALSO deter slugs, so another win-win!
Any of these tips new for you? Can’t wait to see how you use them! ENJOY!
This past Saturday began innocently enough, but then SO MUCH FOOD ensued LOL. To be fair, though, I had planned SOME of it ahead. I’m trying my best to focus on MINDFUL COOKING as much as possible, especially as we stare down another month of quarantine – using leftovers, saving bits for a whole other meal, freezing scraps for stocks, etc.
The night before, to celebrate 6 weeks of quarantine (SIX weeks! SIX WEEKS!! Who would have even thought?!), I made two Thomas Keller’s MasterClass F O U R D A Y (yep, you read that right) Roast Chicken that I started on the Monday prior. In short, it spends a day brining, then 3 days in the fridge to ‘dry out’, to somehow become the most sultry (See? I didn’t say MOIST!), crispy, decadent roast Chicken you’ve ever had in your life. I made two knowing we’d eat one, I’d have lots of bones for Soup stock, and I’d have enough Chicken + beautifully roasted veg for Chicken Pot Pies for lunch the next day. In freshly made crusts, OF COURSE.
The Chicken Pot Pies were A M A Z I N G, and did well to honour our little leftover Chicken bits.
As I was in the Kitchen, I remembered I had some bread that didn’t rise… Still working on a batch of wild-yeast, no knead bread (vs the labour intensive sourdough that it usually works with), so I did a dozen Flatbreads. Oddly they didn’t crisp the same but maybe because I left it too long and it wasn’t quite as dry. Will chat about that ongoing failure later this week LOL!
I can’t remember what I made earlier that needed some crushed tomatoes, but having opening my gigantic Costco jar, I knew I had to finish the Puttanesca Sauce today and get it in the freezer. It’s seriously the easiest thing on the planet as it doesn’t take ANY COOKING AT ALL to prep for the freezer, and tastes delicious when you don’t have a ton of time and have pasta on the go.
BULK-for-Freezer Puttanesca Sauce : Find Recipe at bottom of the page!
Since I was making the Puttanesca in a massive batch anyhow, I separated a bit of the Tuna and made a Flatbread Tuna Spread. AND separated a few of the Olives for a quick blender Tapenade.
DELICIOUS!! As was the Tapenade…
My son made an amazing lemon-onion-tomato white Fish for a snack (as teenage boys do LOL), so he and I ate it with the Tapanade on flatbreads and HELLO was that ever good! I kept feeling like I was lunching in Greece! I’ll have to get him to write that one down for me.
A few ideas, with some planning, sparked into multiple meals, snacks, and sauces for future dinners. Scraps and extras can easily be re-imagined into many meals, creating less waste AND potentially fewer grocery trips! Mindfulness in cooking is a simple as planning ahead. After awhile, you’ll find you are always cooking with mindfulness.
AND, that was it. I spent the rest of the day transplanting my wee seedlings (all 300 or so?!) into the front Gardens. Praying they take and grow into food for the summer!!! 72 of them are Basil, which typically means at least 3 harvests topped off for Pesto for the freezer. Still working on the ‘perfect’ Pesto recipe. It’s tricky in the blender as it overheats the leaves and oil, but I have too much to mortar + pestle, so … I’ll figure it out eventually.
In the meantime, here’s your EASY bulk-for-freezer Puttanesca Pasta Sauce recipe!! ENJOY – and don’t forget to tag me in your Insta-stories if you try them!
BULK-for-Freezer Easy Puttanesca Pasta Sauce
If you shop at places such as Costco on a semi-regular basis, you'll have no problem making this dish for the freezer in JUST 10 MINUTES!
I’m always looking for new side dish recipes – or new ways to amp up old ones. Usually green beans get a bit of butter, topped with some parm and done – quick and easy. But I had a few extra bits laying around last time, and the tasted so good we I N H A L E D them! Since I often wing it in the Kitchen, I quickly jotted down the ingredients I used before they were long forgotten.
If you know my cooking style, you know I’m usually just throwing things together that I found in the fridge. Sometimes ‘happy accidents’ happen! But it also means my recipes aren’t terribly focused on quantities and preciseness – more on feels and flavors (like this happy Cauli-Leek base soup!).
Good luck and don’t forget to share your versions on Insta and tag me! I’d love to see all the ways these green beans can be interpreted.
ALSO how gorgeous are these Middle Kingdom Porcelain bowls I grabbed on a trip to Portland a few years back?! I’m obsessed and use them all the time.
Needing some food ideas / tips for this crazy, quarantine time-out?
It just feels strange writing that… But this is our world as of March 2020, I suppose. I’m very fortunate in general – I have a warm house to seclude in, work I do from home, and 3 freezers worth of food to get through before we need to panic in any kind of pandemic.
I made a massive grocery haul at our local market on Granville Island to stock up on wine, fresh veg and some of my fave foodie treats. And wine. Did I mention wine?! Good thing, too – a day later my throat was hurting and the time inside became a little more critical (turned out it was nothing – whew!). To boot my Food Kid had brought home 2 more bags of Peking Duck bones that needed to be stripped and stocked, creating more meals for the week.
So what do you make for a week of breakfast, lunch + dinner for a foodie family of four (as my girls are off quarantining on their own)?!
I started with doing a stock take of the freezers and pantry. I mean, what better time is there than self-initiated seclusion to clean out berries from 2014?! LOL – I wish I could say that was an exaggeration… I may or may not have also slipped down to the local tiny grocery on our corner once or twice, and here are some tips if you’re doing the same:
Try buying things no one else seems to know about, like Crackerbread or Burrata Cheese – they’re delicious and useful, but not every knows that – yet…
Look for bigger stocked items that you’ve never used before – provoke your own creativity a bit! Who doesn’t like a challenge once in awhile? It also helps save the more oft-used items for people who really need them
Buy only a few of regular items that are heavily stocked, versatile and long-lasting, like canned tomatoes or capers. They can flavor a wide variety of dishes
BUT FIRST, the fresh stuff from Granville Island, just in case we can’t get it again for while…
Can we pause for a moment and acknowledge the fact that the sauce I made for the Oysters was AH-MA-ZING?!?! Easy Recipe, too >
Also I had grapes starting to go in the fridge, so Google came up with a recipe for Sunken Grape Almond Cake. My cooking of said cake was a FAIL, but it still tasted good LOL. What can I say? I am NOT a Baker!
I’m already wondering, at this point, when my desire to catch up on decades of sleep loss will win over my energy to cook…
Once the newest batch of Peking Duck carcasses were sufficiently made into stock, and a few extra packages of Smoked Duck Breast had been procured the day before at the Market, Pho was the obvious next step!
Artichokes, trimmed and steamed, are one of the few vegetables ALL of us enjoy. Dipping them in mayonnaise and parmesan brings up the fat quotient, but OH WELL – they’re delicious!
I’ve been wanting to try Risotto with Farro instead of Arbario rice, hearing that it’s considerably healthier, so now was about as good a time as any to do so. It was Delish! I would definitely make it again, but it has a bite the rest of the fam wasn’t as happy about. They’ll get used to it LOL.
Sometimes I’ll purposely cook a few “extras” so that I can make up some deluxe Poached Eggs in the am. Literally anything can go on a piece of toasted, cheesey Crackerbread (which gets far less soggy than actual bread, and is often gluten free if that matters to some). Two extra Artichokes from Day Two became a delicious breaky on Day Three!
We figured social distancing is just as good as quarantining, and my sore throat hadn’t done anything else in awhile, so Food Kid and I spent the morning crabbing at the Pier. SUCCESS – we managed to forage for ONE whole Dungeness Crab! He made a Crab + Prawn Ceviche with it — SOOOO good.
Naturally all the Oyster, Clam and Crab shells have been saved in the Freezer in case we need a shellfish Bisque sometime soon!
I’ve never been happier that I spend all that time canning in the Fall LOOOL!! Also, if you don’t know Crackerbreads yet (similar to THESE), they’re the BEST, especially for end-of-world zombiepocalypses where you need to buy/store long-term pantry items. They pretty much never go stale, and can do lots of things bread can do, like hold a mean Poached Egg or messy Melt!
We don’t use a ton of flour, and were completely out of regular AP Flour, but I also love the molasses’y taste of Spelt anyhow. It, obviously, flew off the shelves far slower than it’s whiter cousin. It’s a good time if you’ve been wanting to try different ingredients, to try them now! The more eclectic they are, the more likely they’ll still be on a shelf or online somewhere.
It was largely a Leftovers Day. Leftover steak (I had to tear a few pieces away from the hungry teen-boys!) was used with cheese I found in the back of the fridge (?!) for DELISH Portobello Pizzas, and Prawns saved from the other nights’ Ceviche were added to our Sole en Papillote.
We still have quite a bit of fish in the Freezer – will have to think of what else we can do with it… Time to get creative.
I made it to our tiny local grocery a block away for Yogurt – much needed, apparently! I tried to only buy a few things there was a LOT of in stock (anti-hoarding?!) AND that would last a long time. I also grabbed Basil and made a quick Pesto at home to go with a Spaghetti Squash that was lying around.
There were also plenty of Russet (baking) Potatoes, but not sure what I’ll do with them yet – haven’t made Mashed Potatoes in forever and I have some whip cream about to expire… They also still had flour, but no one has bread, so I thought it’d be good to get back into making my own again!
Cauli + Leek Soup is a staple Freezer item around here, but I was out and the grocery had PLENTY of both, so I made a big batch for lunch + freezer. It’s such a great base to use w ANY leftovers – such as the rest of the Okra I knew was just going to go bad – and the remaining filling from our Portobello Pizzas. Really, it’s a Kitchen-Sink kind of dish, which is excellent and adaptable these days. I keep Toulouse sausage in the freezer, and it’s perfect for adding a bit of fat + flavor to this otherwise rather bland soup.
When I dipped into the local grocery on my street, NOBODY was buying things like Burrata Cheese, so I grabbed one to satisfy todays cheese cravings – Bruschetta is one of our favorite things!
ALSO, because I know you were all so worried for me, my WINE DELIVERY arrived today! WHEW, that was a close one 😉 Thanks, Marquis Wine!
WELL, Day Seven hasn’t happened yet – it’s TODAY!, but obviously I’m a PLANNER so of course I’ve given it thought! I try to start each day by looking at what’s going bad in the fridge, needs to be eaten first, or I have plenty of to go around.
I usually start with whatever protein/meat I have in the Fridge, but it’s officially cleaned out and we’re onto more Freezer stocks now.
SO, Today will include … leftover Ham + Burrata on Crackerbread w Poached Eggs for Breaky, Freezer Chicken, Green Beans that need to be used soon, probably some Mashed Potatoes and hopefully some fresh Bread (!!).
SO what about YOU?! Are you having to get experimental? Using up your Pantry? Learning any fabulous new recipes?? I’d love to hear!
I’m anticipating next weeks menus will be quite different, as rations get lower and we’re digging deeper and deeper into the freezers, but that just means MORE creativity, right?!
In the meantime, we can all dream about Oysters with this Dressing Sauce – yummmmmmy.
Oyster Dressing Sauce
This was a DELICIOUS accompaniment to our regular Oyster nights! And SO easy.
Strain the juice of a half lemon into a small serving container
Slowly drizzle 1 Tbsp of Lobster Oil, stirring to emulsify
Stir in minced shallot, and any salt needed (I didn't use any)
ENJOY! Spoon with a tiny serving spoon over your shucked Oyster!
PICKING YOUR OYSTERSEveryone has their own oyster preference. Some love the tiny varieties – I personally feel a bit ripped off when they're so small haha! How easily they'll shuck is another consideration. If the shell is quite curvy or too tiny, it can be harder on your hands, especially if you're doing dozens at a time!The best way to determine is to host a tasting for yourself, making notes of each type, how easy it is to shuck, how meaty it is, how sweet / creamy / metallic / etc. I love Raspberry Points and the Royal Miyagi's. Leave me a note and let me know your favorite!
Need more flavor varieties?! Try some of these!
Add drops of Tabasco
A minced slice of anchovy instead of any salt
A touch of Habanero Hot Sauce
Keyword base, dressing, lemon, lobster, oyster, side, side dish, starter
Things shifted this Christmas, and I’m totally ok with that. With the loss of my beloved Nana, it was also an opportunity to renew traditions that had been on for decades. And this year, that meant my sister and myself taking over Christmas Dinner!
Tired of turkeys since Thanksgiving and other meals (including our 50-60+ person Christmas Eve, based around a gigantic turkey), somehow my sister and I decided that we would be free in creating new traditions to cook something new, delicious and – anything not turkey LOL. This year, we chose my favorite Duck Breast with Cassis and Raspberries, from my ultra-dog-eared and well-used the Food of France book.
I found the exact recipe (and photo) from the book here (although disappointingly not credited?!). I highly recommend purchasing the book – I use SO VERY MANY recipes in it, but this is by far one of my favorites!! The Pommes Anna (scalloped potatoes) was also taken from this book.
To add a fresh element, I also added a chopped Brussel Sprout Salad, which seems to be a winner every time I make it! I generally just google a recipe, then make it up with what I have, but this one is close.
In the end, it was relaxing, yummy and enjoyable for everyone (except my Pescatarian daughter who had smoked fish).
Sometimes change can be good. Sometimes traditions can evolve into newer versions of themselves. And sometimes it all works out just DELICIOUSLY!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… OK, it wasn’t THAT bad, but when trying a new dish – especially a slightly technical one – with guests is always a bit of a dice roll. I DID warn them all that we might end up ordering pizza by the end LOL!
I’ve made Poached Egg Ravioli many times, with it’s beautiful silky yolks resting in a nest of truffled ricotta and spinach. After a perfect 3.5 min boil, a single giant ravioli is plated and, once cut through, the creamy yellow flows into a bacon Brown Butter sauce. VOILA! <a combo of these recipes HEREand HEREare simply magical>. It’s the #1 request from guests – when I give them a choice.
SO OF COURSE, always on the lookout for ways to challenge myself, I figured how much better it would taste SMALLER with tiny quail eggs?! The trick is that a chicken egg poaches perfectly with the cook time of #6 rolled fresh pasta – 3.5 minutes. Quail eggs poach in only 1.5 minutes (see my notes about these little devils HERE), which means a thinner pasta is required.
My big mistakes were starting with a pasta that was too wet. This is one instance where a drier pasta is preferred, and mine was WET. No matter how much extra flour I used, the recipe I usually use <included in Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass HERE> just wasn’t doing what I wanted, but I was short on time and used it anyhow. Let’s just say it did NOT willingly do a #7 roll, but I thought it would still work at the time…
The second mistake was not letting my ricotta strain to get all the extra moisture out. In the end, about half of the prepared ravioli disintegrated on me, but thankfully the half I did have were enough to feed my dinner party 3 pieces each with a DELICIOUS tomato/lemon/pepper sauce – and the mini quail egg “surprise” in the middle was perfectly poached along with the pasta in 1.5 minutes precisely!
All things considered, mistakes do happen. Maybe one day I’ll learn to test a recipe at least once before inviting people over, but not likely! And no one seems to mind. Worst case, I can always pull a Cassoulet out of the freezer, or make a quick dried pasta to soak up my delicious sauces. But now that the troubleshooting has been done, I’ll definitely be making this dish again!
Do you have a dish you’ve been practicing?? Share the details!
NEMESIS! ‘An inescapable agent of one’s downfall’. Quail eggs – and my obsessive desire to master them – will ultimately be my downfall, as I can’t see how I’ll possibly ever succeed against these maniacal little beasts… *sigh*
I’m not even sure how I was introduced to these insufferable little ovals of madness, but now every time I’m down at our local market, Granville Island, I have to grab my tiny little 2doz tray and continue to conquer this foreign land.
What makes these little devils so disagreeable? The thin, ultra brittle shells have a thick, tacky, inner coating which makes them impossible to simply crack. Instead they crumble AND stick at the same time. UGH.
To get in, the “easiest” way is to score around the top with a sharp knife, and hope against all odds it doesn’t shatter as you peel back the top which would leave tiny shards of pretty blue shell in your egg.
Is there a better way? ANYONE?! Open to suggestions! LOL
Is it even worth it?
The best part of a poached egg is the soft, runny yolk. Quail eggs are almost entirely yolk, which is a pain when you’re trying to avoid breaking them, but delicious in your dishes for pillowy pops of creamy goodness. Delicately poached, these little gems add that silky yolk texture without being overly “eggy”.
Poached Quail Egg Asparagus
A delicious twist on traditional roasted asparagus
Grilled Pancetta, Lardons or ultra-thin sliced/salted Beet Chips
1/2tspAncho chili powder
Pre-heat oven to 350d. Place Panko crumbs on a pan and roast until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Poach a dozen Quail eggs and put aside. See pro TIP >
Grill your chopped pancetta, or lardons in a pan, or prep ultra-thin sliced and salted beet strips by frying in a Tbsp of oil
Pour half of the melted butter on a flat pan.
Add asparagus tips (break bottom third off – see pro TIP!) lined up back and forth, top to bottom.
Pour other half of melted butter over the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt/pepper, Ancho chili powder, and Parmesan cheese.
Place in oven at 350d for 10-15 minutes (check with a fork – should go through, but not have become mushy).
Once cooked, top with Panko crumbs, Quail eggs and pancetta, lardons or beet chips.
Keyword Roasted Asparagus
I suggest trying them on cheesey crab melts for breakfast, or on asparagus with bacon – or salty beet chips – as a side dish! I’ve also recently tried them as a Poached Quail Egg Ravioli, but that’s a whole other story…
I LOVE good Foodie Movies – and if half of them could also be set in Provence as well, that’d be great please. I spent HOURS in my Kitchen, and music is great once dinner begins, but while I’m prepping, chopping and doing other such mundane but necessary tasks, the TV is on, my glass of wine is nearby, and I’m in THE ZONE.
The kids get annoyed that mostly I watch the same 6 movies I’ve seen a thousand times, but it’s rather critical to have something on that I don’t actually have to LOOK at since I’m, you know, holding sharp(ish) knife and all. Subtitles are definitely OUT lol!! I can fully “watch” all of my faves in my head as I listen and cook.
Although not a COOKING movie per se, the ambiance of A Good Year (click for the Trailer) keeps it near the top of my go-to’s. I can FEEL the warm, Provençal sunshine and yearn to spend time on a stone patio eating food prepared from the local Marche… *sigh*… Soon…
Every time I watch it I’m reminiscing my own trip to the south of France, biking along the Dordogne River, up and down through little towns and their fresh food markets, cheese and baguette, dinners along the river bank, cute little farms and farmers with berets, old abandoned bicycles by the side of even older wood fences, cheese and baguette… *sigh*…
The Hundred Food Journey has food AND sunshine AND southern France – (AND QUEEN HELEN MIRREN)! I found a few recipes here at a Crazy Good Life, like this Apple Tarte Tautin (click the image for the recipe).
Unfortunately the recipes I’d love to find – the Omelette “a la Hassan” and whatEVERtheheck he did with those Sea Urchins – are nowhere to be found.
Ratatouille is the first time I realized Food could be an integral character in a film – or in life. I still remember the first trailers and being SO FREAKIN EXCITED for the movie to come out. It didn’t disappoint then, it still doesn’t now.
If you’ve ever found the Extras that come with Ratatouille, there’s one called “Fine Food & Film” that goes back and forth between Brad Bird (Pixar) and Thomas Keller (French Laundry), the Chef who consulted on the movie. Chef Keller talks about his now-famous Ratatouille recipe in it as well.
If I were a big veg fan, I’d be all over this recipe. I’ve watched this clip SO.MANY.TIMES! It’s so inspiring. Chef Steps, below that, has taken the time to not only go through the original recipe “Confit Biyaldi” but added in some hot riffs like (can we pause to applaud APPLETOUILLE?!) on it as well.
BURNT with Bradley Cooper and adorable Daniel Brühl is easily in rotation, and a constant reminder (along with the Paris days in Hundred Foot Journey) that I need to get back to using my Molecular Gastronomy Kit… !
I’ve found 7 of the Official Recipes online over at BakeSpace that all look pretty amazing.
Julie & Julia is an easy, light watch and I actually use Julia Child’s books ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘ whenever I want to learn something really technical, like Souffle or Omelette techniques. And how relatable are Amy Adams kitchen meltdowns?! LOL!
Chef Movie (BRAVO, Jon Favreau!) makes it on rotation for so many reasons, but mainly because it’s also the movie I’ve cooked the most from – the Carne Asada, Pasta Aglio e Olio, Cubano Sandwhich, and of course the Berries & Cream <heart>! Oh and the Grilled Cheese, and …
A few are found back on BakeSpace (click). And I’m actually willing to drive 3 days back and forth for that Franklin Barbeque in Austin from Vancouver… I’m just going to leave this little video right here… Busy salivating now… BRB.
Perhaps the BEST part of Chef Movie, is the subsequent The Chef Show on Netflix with Jon and Roy Choi (Chef consultant on the movie – interesting interview w him here) – they review recipes from the movie, but also dozens of new ones. I’m sure I’ve watched the Hog Island Oyster Farm one about a dozen times by now, and hope to drive on down there in Spring, if I can convince Tt + Boo on another SoCal roadrip…
It’s hard to catch the ‘recipes’ (ingredient lists) without a screen shot ability, but where there’s a will … A bit of kitchen know-how and common sense should be able to decipher them reasonably well. ALL of these are next on TOP of my list of things to try soon.
Another ‘honorable mention’ from TV is David Chang‘s “Ugly Delicious” – I really MUST learn to make that Ramen, and I just love his thoughts on the psychology of food and eating and gathering. Also, it’s just cute when he keeps saying everything is ‘delicious’ LOL!
And that’s about what I have on rotation while I cook! What’s your ‘zen’ mode when in the Kitchen? Music? Movies? Silence? Screaming kids?! lol… If you need something less visual, try this Fall Playlist by the young gen at Vancouver Opera. Enjoy!