Super quick noodles.

I’ve been missing my sense of smell & taste for almost 3 weeks now due to The Plague™ and for some reason, the only thing that has been remotely appealing to eat is pasta.
It started with Mom’s garlic noodles (lots of chopped garlic, fried in butter, can of tomatoes, some herbs & spices, plus noodles and lots of cheddar cheese) and since then, it’s kind of been a rather unconventional combination of ingredients that I wouldn’t have considered throwing together under normal circumstances that I’ve been making over & over again this past week.

While your noodles are cooking, put into a large bowl: a pat of butter, a decent drizzle of garlic olive oil, and a good sprinkling of your favourite furikake (if it happens to have bonito, rice balls & egg bits, even better!). Set your bowl over the pot and let it melt the butter. While that’s doing its thing, grate some parmesan cheese & set aside, give your melty butter concoction a good stir so it’s all nicely combined. When your noodles are cooked to your liking, add them from the pot, directly into your bowl with the cooking water still dripping. Mix everything together so that every strand has been sufficiently coated in the buttery emulsion and season with pepper. Add your cheese, extra furikake if desired, and stir well, making sure to add extra pasta water if needed to get the right consistency. Eat fast while it’s still hot! :D

As a side note: I have recently discovered the perfect method for cooking pasta so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally overcooking it. Apparently that Serious Eats tip for cooking dried pasta totally works!

Put your pasta into a pot just large enough to accomodate the size/length of your noodles and cover it with about 1-2″ of cold water (don’t forget to add salt). Bring to a boil, stirring a couple times as needed, then cover the pot, shut off the heat and set your timer for 10 minutes. Yea, seriously. When the time’s up, taste test your noodles and it should be the perfect doneness! Add noodles to your hot sauce, stir to combine and you’re good to go!

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Crumbly crumbles

Ever since we started getting our weekly groceries delivered from Spud.ca back when our CSA finished for the year, I’ve been making sure to include whatever fruit that’s in season — something we don’t get much of with our CSA.

It’s interesting, I have never been a huge fruit fan, I much prefer veggies, but this year I’ve probably consumed more fruit in the last three months than I have… Well… To be honest: Ever.

Until now, I hadn’t actually taken stock of the quantities I order with our weekly delivery and it’s actually a fair amount to consume before the next week’s order arrives. Since we’re currently in winter mode, this is what we’ve been getting: 3lb box of mandarin oranges, 2lb bag of mixed pears, 3 kiwis (this is what usually constitutes a single “count” when ordering small fruit), and sometimes 3 apples (unless I’m ordering apples for baking, the I’ll order a 3lb bag).

With the exception of the apples, I have discovered that all the fruit has to be consumed within the week or they’ll be lost. The surprisingly great thing about our Spud deliveries is that our fruit’s been arriving at the perfect ripeness for eating but of course doesn’t have a very long window for enjoyment so I’ve had to come up with a reliable recipe I can use across the board for all my fruit just to extend their “eatability” and not throw them into the garbage bin.

Enter fruit crumbles, stage left!

It turns out that I don’t like fruit crisps, but I really, really, like fruit crumbles and with that thought in mind, I wanted to find a recipe that could be easily be customized or doctored up to my heart’s content. This recipe, I discovered, is supremely easy to wing using whatever fruit you happen to have onhand. I really like that this recipe, even though it has measurements, doesn’t actually require anything resembling proper measuring accuracy. At least, I certainly don’t much bother when I make it — I’ve been tossing in a little handful of this, a few heaped spoonfuls of that, as well as a little bit of that over there and whatever else happens to pique my interest of the moment.

My current flight of fancy happens to include all the pears we keep getting, along with a bit of candied crystalized ginger chips, plus some raisins for The Hubbs, and the usual spice suspects. But like I said, whatever you’re keen on works perfectly fine, so have at it!

The recipe that I’m going to include below is going to be really messy to read as I will be giving the basic, loose “template” based on my current use of pears, so if you’re not keen on, let’s say, the ginger chips, just substitute with something you prefer or else ignore the ingredient(s) entirely. As for the topping, the ingredients are easily scaled up or down as needed depending on the amount of fruit, or size of baking pan, you’re using.

As a loose guideline for determining how much sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch to use in your recipe:
* Use more sugar and less lemon juice when cooking with tart fruits
* Use less sugar but more lemon juice for sweet fruits — taste a piece of fruit to adjust everything to taste.
* Use more cornstarch with very juicy fruits and less with firm fruits.

Pear Crumble (aka Your Favourite Fruit Crumble)

Pears (or chopped fruit of choice), enough to fill pan about two-thirds full
1/2 cup sugar, to taste
lemon juice, to taste
1-3 Tbsp cornstarch, depending on juiciness of fruit
cinnamon, nutmeg, other fave spices, to taste
couple handfuls, each: crystalized ginger chips, raisins, walnuts, etc…

Crumble Topping:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 generous tsp baking powder (if using whole wheat, otherwise use level teaspoon)
cinnamon & nutmeg, to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, add your fruit with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, spices and ginger chips, raisins & nuts, if using, stirring well to combine.
Pour filling into your baking dish of choice.
In a smaller bowl, combine all the dry topping ingredients together and mix well. Add the butter and use your fingers to squish it in with the flour, just until you have assorted sized butter chunks.
Pour the crumble topping evenly over the fruit and bake for 30-35 mins until the fruit bubbles around edges of the pan and the topping is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
Let crumble cool to room temperature before serving so the fruit has time to set up.
Enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

Late night dindin recipe

Yesterday afternoon we had our second annual(!) inaugural Friday Summer Salad Lunchie which comprised mainly of salad, obviously, but also these great leftover meatball-salad rolls that I made from the surprisingly tasty grilled meatballs I had made on the night we picked up our veggies. I absolutely love the salads we make during the summer. They’re hearty, but not heavy, and really filling. The addition of those salad rolls seemed to make our lunch a bit more special because it also included my very first garden-harvested cucumber!

…I just realized that I haven’t posted anything about my brand new garden! O_O;;

This summer, The Hubbs gifted me with a custom-designed & custom-built, raised-bed garden! I’d been wanting a raised-bed garden for quite awhile and I found a company, The Dirt Boys, at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmer’s Market during the Winter market! They did an amazing job of making the bed substantially higher than normal for a raised bed since I have mobility issues, designed it with stability rails around the perimeter so I would have something to be able to lean against so as to garden more comfortably, and not only that, took a chance on trying a new type of garden entirely: they made me a hugelkultur bed! The extra bonus was having the framework for a cold frame on the top so we can protect the garden from things like hail and frost, as well as potentially extend the growing season by a bit.

I am super, super chuffed about the work they did and I’ve been really enjoying planting all sorts of fun stuff in the garden – all of it an experiment.

Currently, what I have going on in the garden is (from left to right, front to back): rosemary (1), tomato (1), basil (2), cucumber (1), and alpine strawberries (2).

Since the dirt is actually somewhat raised in the middle, I have these “gutters” around the perimeter of the bed and thought that I should make good use of that design “feature” by planting a bunch of seeds. There is 4 feet (front to back) worth of Parisian market carrots on the left side of the rosemary in the photo above, followed by 4 feet of Chinese watermelon radishes. The back of the garden has 6 sweet pea plants which have finally made their appearance, and on the right side of the garden towards the back are 4 corn(!!) transplants I had purchased from Country Thyme Farm when we picked up our bi-weekly eggs & CSA flour from the Farmer’s Market on July 10th!

Wow… I can’t believe how much I’ve failed to post, here on the blog over the last few months… o_O;;;

You know those days where you just don’t know what to eat, and time keeps on ticking by as you get more and more frustrated trying to make a decision?

Yea, I had one of those days last night.

I was exhausted after my fabulous Friday lunch with my Goddaughter Bug & her Mama, Miss R and I just couldn’t stay awake by the time The Hubbs got home from work. So we did what we always seem to do on Fridays: have something light before I go down for a nap, then a few hours later, when I wake up ravenous, I make something more substantial and nutritious to eat. Well… the ‘nutritious’ part could be argued some days, but I think I did a really great job last night!

We picked up week #2 of our Summer CSA veggies from Noble Gardens on Wednesday and brought home a lovely bunch of yellow rainbow chard, some Russian kale, a couple spring onions, a clamshell of multi-coloured cherry tomatoes and a head of red leaf romaine lettuce.

I know I am far, far, behind on the massaged kale bandwagon, but I tried it for the first time with our first CSA delivery and I guess my only excuse for never having tried the massaged kale salad is because I’ve been perfectly content to eat it as I had always been making it – braised until tender, then stir fried lightly with lots of garlic and olive oil. It’s pretty hard to dislike any veggie when you have the addition of a ton of garlic & olive oil. A few squirts of lemon juice just before serving is also a great addition.

So anyhow, I’ve come to the realization that when we get CSA veggies, the smartest thing for me to do is wash and clean all the veggies and then store them in the fridge so they are ready, willing and able to contribute to whatever I feel like making. I’ve also discovered that having a pre-made massaged kale salad in the fridge is a great, long lasting vegetable component that practically won’t deteriorate into anything nasty – unlike, let’s say, dressed salads made of lettuce.

Of course when making a massaged kale salad, or any kale dish for that matter, you always end up with the stripped & unloved stems. What most people seem to do with them, I’ve noticed, is just discard them, which seems to be such a shame & a waste of perfectly edible kale parts. I admit, I’m guilty of throwing away the stems, too, because I just can’t be bothered with coming up with a tasty enough reason to eat them… until now.

I finally found a great recipe that uses only the kale stems, and has become a really quick meal that also only needs a few pantry ingredients that most people should have on hand. I present to you: the kale stem & bacon crostini, topped with a fried egg!

I honestly didn’t have very high hopes for it and now I am supremely blown away by the combination – a toasted piece of sourdough bread with a light spreading of cream cheese, fried bacon & onions to flavour the kale stems really nicely, and topped with a fried egg, drizzled with my intervention-warranting addiction of Blue Door garlic-infused olive oil just to push the whole thing right over the top. Having just a few cherry & cocktail tomatoes on the side was great addition for cutting through the richness of that crazy egg yolk which acted as an amazingly great sauce when you flipped the egg over, puncturing the yolk so it would ooze all over the greenery.

It’s really, really, tasty and I can’t say it enough!

I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try, especially if you’re tired of throwing away and wasting those unloved kale stems. After you’ve made your massaged kale salad, make the topping and once you’ve eaten your fill, stash the rest of the mixture in the fridge for a future late night, super quick, and relatively healthy meal… though I can attest that it also makes for a pretty darned fantastic breakfast, too ^_^

The recipe below makes enough for 4 servings, or four slices of bread, depending on how you define a serving. I found that one slice of bread, with the bacon & kale topping, plus an egg was really filling and was essentially a meal in itself. Serving it with a salad on the side would probably make it a more well-rounded meal, but do as you so choose!

Kale Stem & Bacon Crostini

1 bunch kale stems, chopped into 2cm pieces

½ onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 slices bacon, chopped into matchsticks

Salt & pepper, to taste

To serve, per person:

Thick-cut slice of your favourite bread

Cream cheese (or goat cheese, would be awesome), softened

Fried egg

Cherry or Cocktail tomatoes

In a medium sized skillet, over medium heat, begin cooking the bacon until some of the fat starts rendering.

Add the onion, garlic and kale pieces.

Cook everything together, stirring constantly, , so that all the veggies are happily dressed with the bacon fat.

Season generously with pepper, but keep a light hand with the salt and mix well.

You only want to cook everything for a couple of minutes – nothing should be even remotely cooked.

Add 1/3 to ½ cup of water to the veggies, cover the pan and let cook until everything is pleasingly tender.

How do you know? Taste it!

The stems were cut quite small, so taste test after 5 minutes, if everything is to your liking, cover the pan back up and turn off the heat.

At this point, toast your bread and fry your egg.

I would recommend that when you cook your egg, make sure the yolk remains runny!

When your toast is done: spread with cream or goat cheese, cover with a spoonful of the still warm bacon & kale, then place your perfectly cooked egg on top!

Drizzle with some garlic-infused olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

If you happen to have some black truffle salt on hand, go ahead and gild the lily with a generous sprinkling.

Plate your fantastic crostini with some cherry or cocktail tomatoes on the side and enjoy while it’s still warm!

Banana Fritters

In honour of Doughnut Day, yesterday, I made something resembling homemade doughnuts for the first time ever! The rest of the world I suppose refers to these as “fritters” but I’ve never really understood what the difference is between the two.

The recipe is easy, easy, easy, but I did have a bit of an issue with undercooking the larger doughnuts, never having made deep fried sweets before.

I had made two different sizes because I wasn’t quite sure which would be a better size for eating. Turns out the larger ones were the perfect snack size but the minis were the ones that cooked through in the amount of time I had left them in the hot oil.

I think the biggest problem I had with frying the regular sized doughnuts was that the bananas were so ripe and full of sugars, that they coloured within 90-120seconds and I had to pull them out of the oil or they would burn. The minis, on the other hand, were the perfect size to cook right through such that they had turned a nice darker brown. The thing is, I really didn’t want to be standing in front of a hot pot of boiling oil forever dropping little itty bitty scoops of banana batter, hence why I had chosen to use the larger, yet still decently snack-sized scoop.

To fix my issue of uncooked centres (undiscovered until my parents had each taken a bit out of their first pieces), I popped the cooled doughnuts into a 350F oven for about 10 minutes or so, testing with a toothpick to ensure they were no longer gooey in the middle. This was actually a great idea because not only did it finish cooking the insides, but it also reheated the doughnuts to piping hot without drying them out, which was actually my biggest worry when I discovered the error of my ways.

Banana Fritters

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

2 very ripe bananas

1 tablespoon vanilla

Oil, for deep frying

Heat your deep fryer to 365°.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Whisk the eggs, bananas and vanilla together in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet into the dry and stir gently until just mixed.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.

They will float to the surface when they are done.

Flip them so they fry evenly.

Drain on paper towels until ready to serve. **

** You may at this point want to double check to see if your doughnuts are cooked through by splitting one in half just to make sure.

If it turns out they are still raw in the middle, chuck them all into a 350F oven for ~10minutes and check again by stabbing with a toothpick & seeing that it comes out clean.**

Seafood Chowder

Mmmmm…. seafood chowder.

Generally speaking, I would be apt to calling this just clam chowder, even though there are no clams in it. It just happens to be what I refer to all chowders which contain seafood… less syllables to pronounce, thus revealing my laziness of speech.

The original recipe came from the July issue of the UK delicious.magazine and serves a lot more than my adapted version. To be honest, I am exceedingly surprised and pleased that my attempt at the recipe worked! I’ve never made any kind of chowder before, thinking it was a wholly complicated and difficult process, and I keep forgetting that soups are supremely easy recipes that are practically impossible to make badly.

So without further ado, here is my recipe for seafood chowder, which will serve two to three people, depending on appetites, of course ^_^

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Seafood Chowder

Olive oil

2 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped

1 small onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 baked potato, skinned & roughly cubed

1 cob of corn, kernels removed, cob saved

6 large frozen, shelled & deveined shrimp, thawed

Handful frozen, baby scallops, thawed

2 cups clam broth

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs of thyme

½ Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in a bit of water

1/3 cup heavy cream

salt & pepper, to taste

In a medium pot over medium-low heat, render the fat from the bacon slices with a bit of olive oil.

Once bacon has rendered, but meat is still soft, add the onions, garlic, thyme & bayleaf, cooking until soft & fragrant. Season generously with pepper.

Add the clam broth, and make sure to stir up the tasty bits on the bottom of the pot.

Turn up the heat, add the sliced corn, the naked cob, the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir until everything’s nicely combined and let everything cook until the corn is tender and the potatoes are warmed through.

Stir in the scallops and shrimp, let simmer for 5 minutes or until shrimp are cooked. Remove & discard corn cob.

Mix the cornstarch with a bit of water and add to the simmering pot, stir until slightly thickened.

Turn off heat and ladle chowder into bowls, adding cream to bowls, individually, to achieve your own perfect taste & creaminess.

Serve with crackers.

CSA Veggies & Homemade Basil Pesto!

HOLY CRAP!

Okay, I readily admit, I do not much care for pesto.

It’s just never float my boat. We’ve bought it before, in a jar, and I’ve eaten it before in restaurants with pasta, but never would I have ever imagined it to taste this good when made at home.

HOLY. COW. Words fail me.

Homemade Almond-Basil Pesto

Today was our very first CSA Veggie Pickup from Noble Gardens at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmer’s Market. An email was sent out this morning reminding everyone to bring reuseable shopping bags, a cooler if it was going to be extremely warm out, and also included a few tips & pointers in regards to what we were getting.

It felt like Halloween, standing there, holding my shopping bag open to see what was being dropped into my bag: head of butterhead lettuce, a small bunch of teeny tiny onions with the greens still attached (either that or it’s just a green onion with a really generous purple bulb at the bottom), and two bags of greens. I think one is a bag of swiss chard with gorgeous red stems and the other bag of greens, well I’m truly embarassed, I just got so excited, I totally blanked out hearing what he was giving me as he was dropping them gently into the bag. All I knew was that I was getting veggies and I was excited. The biggest surprise for me was that we were also given a beautiful basil plant! I have never ever been given a live basil plant before!

I’ve always considered the idea of buying one at the grocery store or at the garden centre, but of course with the recent discovery of my Aero Garden, I’ve not really thought much about it since. Even though I have a small basil growing, it’s never looked as beautiful & lush as the plant Tim gave me this afternoon! That and I’ve never really known what to do with basil or how to get it to bush-out and be prolific. Starting with a super healthy bunch of basil and being given instructions on how to make it bushier was both helpful and an eye-opener.

I have to say, this is an exciting year for us — CSA Veggies AND CSA Farm Fresh Eggs! If our poor little deep freeze hadn’t died, we could have also had bison this year and we would have been totally set to spend very little time grocery shopping for food unless absolutely needed.

Seeing as I am once again all by myslf for dinner (Geez! Two weeks in a row!?) and the lovely basil plant looked like it could use a little pruning, I decided to try my hand at making a kitchen sink basil pesto with a little bit of linguini, and a few slices of garlic bread to go with the few remaining spoonfuls of marinated tomatoes from last night. I have to say, it’s pretty damn tasty compared to anything store-bought, and I am super impressed that it is so easy to make.

I figured since it was just me eating dindin tonight, I would clip off a bunch of the basil tops and stuff it all into my itty bitty mini food processor along with a few other ingredients I managed to find languishing away in the pantry — I am now running on empty with my olive oil stash and I think that tonight’s pesto was the best use of the few remaining dribbles I had left of the wonderful extra virgin olive oil.

Along with the basil, I tossed in two large cloves of garlic, (Sorry Darling, kissing you when you get home tonight will probably be a bit shocking, but it was so totally worth it…) just chopped into a few pieces to help it along in the whizzer, a generous thumb-sized chunk of parmesan cheese also chopped coarsely, a couple pinches of slivered almonds and seasoned it all with a bit of kosher salt and a few grindings of pepper.

It took a few stops & starts to get everything amalgamated, cleaning off the sides with a small spatula and adding extra oil until it came to a consistency I was pleased with — but I still left the pesto on the chunkier side. Interesting side thought: Almonds are a great addition to pesto! I never have pine nuts in the house. In fact, I seem to have this weird mental block towards them for some reason. A long time ago, Mom bought some packaged salad box and you just tossed everything together before serving. Well this boxed mix came with pine nuts, and I had never had them before, so I poped a few in my mouth and they must have gone rancid or something because from that point on, I’ve never willingly eaten pinenuts if I could help it. It was that traumatizing an experience, if you can imagine.

So yea. ALMONDS! Honestly, I probably could have happily eaten the pesto from the bowl of the food processor with nothing but the last of the french bread we’ve got sitting around from the weekend’s bread-purchasing extravaganza. I’m not sure what happened, but I ended up buying a ridiculous amount of bread this weekend for some reason and with the exception of the butter buns The Hubbs had chosen, and the industrial garlic bread that I froze, most of it’s all gone now. French bread, swiped with a glob of homemade pesto? I have to say, it’s petty fantastic, kids!

Eating the pesto with pasta, though.Whoa. I am very aware that I sound like a goof, going on as I do about discovering homemade stuff that I’ve made. Just a small scoop of pesto, hot pasta, a few spoonfuls of pasta water to help it all slick together nicely.. yowza. I really like having that little bit texture from the almonds, when the pesto’s not been completely blitzed to oblivion. Some of it might also be cheese & garlic, but it’s quite pretty to look at!

Recipe.. I don’t really have a recipe for this, unfortunately. Is a recipe really required when you’re cooking just slap-dash for yourself?

Almond-Basil Pesto
Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese, coarsely chopped
Garlic, coarsely chopped
Slivered Almonds
Salt
Pepper

Smoosh all your ingredients, except the oilve oil, into the bowl of a teeny tiny food processor.
Blitz everything together with a few pulses just to get stuff reduced in volume, then add a small glug of olive oil.
Pulse a couple more times, scraping down sides, adding a bit more oil to moisten.
Pulse again, scrape again and add a smidgen more oil if you think it needs it.
Blitz the pesto until you get a consistency you like and make sure to taste for seasoning.
Store any remaining pesto in a small container, covered with a film of olive oil, a piece of plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.

Pork Cutlet Sammich

I made this sammich somewhere around the middle to end of last week when I was feeling better and craving “real food”.

By real, I am referring to something that isn’t in a mostly liquid form used to help replenish electrolytes and is easy on the tummy to digest. After awhile, consuming nothing but Gatorade, Coconut Water, salted crackers (occassionally toast) and bowlfuls of joak gets kind of depressing.

As much as I like joak, when you’re sick & seriously unwell, you just wanna be able to chew and have something with flavour.

Enter pork cutlet, stage left.

I was spending most of my days either bed or sofa-bound with two heating pads (one on my tummy and one under my back for my kidneys) and more often than not my iPad with digital magazines & Youtube videos to occupy my time.

I discovered that Martha Stewart Everyday Food has a Youtube channel that shows quick meals once a week. The videos are at most five or so minutes long and they’re pretty quick recipes. One of them was this pork cutlet sammich. Yea, while I was down & out with food poisoning and my insides were feeling still rather touchy at best, I made myself a pork sammich. It was really, really, really good. OH. MY. GAWD. GOOD.

The recipe is actually not all that different from fave pork katsu & risotto recipe that I make for The Hubbs. In fact, the only difference is that there’s no thyme or sage in the breading. To take it totally over the top, I used a thin, toasted slice of Charlesford, my homemade picante sauce from last summer and melted mozzarella. Admittedly, the sammich could have used the requisite greens to freshen it up just a smidge, but otherwise, it’s a damn good & satisfying sammich.

Not only that, but I swear, it took me less than 20 minutes, start to finish to make these sammiches, and that was with me feeling less than stellar. There’s not all that much more I can say about it other than: Make it.

Pork Cutlet Sammich

1/4 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko
salt & pepper
4 pork cutlets
olive oil
shredded mozzarella
bread of your choice
1 cup picante sauce
arugula (optional)

Place flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in separate shallow dishes.
Season flour and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.
Coat pork in flour, shaking off excess, dip in egg, then coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere.
Set pork aside.
Heat broiler.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.
Cook pork until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Line rack with paper towels.
Transfer pork to towels and let drain 1 minute.
Top pork with cheese, place on sheet, and broil until cheese is melted, 1 minute.
Divide among bread and top with picante sauce and arugula, if using.

Fish Pie! Sorta..

I am feeling incredibly rough around the edges still — so exhausted, so drained, just so tired. I don’t know if it’s because of last night’s sleep study that made me feel so beaten but it just seems like I can’t kick this since we got back from our trip.

This afternoon I went to do my chest X-Ray that Fam Doc ordered — though highly unlikely, the worry is that with my complaints of chest pain and difficulties breathing lately, I might have a case of "invisible pneumonia". He’s not thinking that it’s what I’m suffering from, but it can’t hurt just to check. He also did a throat swab because The Hubbs’ been sick for two weeks and my throat’s been kina meh and my nose has been spewing all sorts of nasties. He doesn’t ever want to be lazy with me and he’s quite happy to bombard me with all sorts of tests just to make sure we don’t ever miss something.

After I did the X-Ray, I decided to make a trip to the North Sea Fish Market so I could pick up some stuff for dindin. I was watching SORTED videos and decided that Fish Pie just sounded like a good idea. I have a few different versions of fish pie that I’ve perused, mostly from Jamie Oliver & Nigella, and I’ve always been curious as to how it would taste since it seems like such a strange concept to mix fish with a cream sauce and top everything with lots of mashed potatoes like you would for a shepherd’s pie. Jamie’s Happiest Fish Pie has always been a recipe that I’ve wanted to try making, but Nigella’s Nursery Fish Pie is a pretty enticing, too.

The biggest thing with fish pies is that there’s just so much work to make one, it seems! You have to boil potatoes to make a mash, you need to make a bechamel sauce, blah blah blah… Which I guess is why I was rather attracted to SORTED’s version of fish pie.

I’ve been watching their videos for over a year now and I am really impressed by the stuff these boys can churn out. Their whole goal is to making meals fun, easy, affordable and tasty. Their format is especially geared for the young adult-uni student crowd who tends to live off takeout and crummy ichiban noodles. The videos & recipes are easy, affordable, and absolutely polished from start to finish — and the boys are all super cute with British accents, to boot! Gotta like that, right? ;)

I admit, I didn’t have all the ingredients on-hand, so I doctored the recipe somewhat with Jamie’s version, Happiest Fish Pie, and it came out pretty darned tasty! The only thing I am disappointed about is that I should have considered making some garlic bread to go with it because there wasn’t much in terms of starch/carbs in this recipe compared to the others, where mashed potato’s on top. I should also mention that I’ve just had a bowl, leftover, for latenight snack and I added to it macaroni and extra cheese. Verdict: Very awesome and to be honest, probably tastier than the original…. but then again, I guess I’ve just turned my fish pie into an upscale tuna mac with the addition of the noodles, eh?

Fish Pie

1 onion, chopped
2 rashers bacon, chopped
knob of butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp flour, heaped
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk
1 small fillet of cod, cut into large chunks
1 small fillet sole, cut into large chunks
1 small fillet of salmon, cut into large chunks
smoked paprika, salt & pepper, to taste
handful of Ritz crackers, crushed
chunk of parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400°F
Mix half the grated parmesan with the crushed crackers and set aside.
In large frying pan over medium heat, fry bacon for a few minutes until some of the fat renders out, but isn’t crisp or completely cooked.
Add onions to the pan and cook until soft, letting everything get sticky on the bottom of the pan, but not burning.
Add garlic & cook until fragrant.
Add just a few small splashes of water to help deglaze the pan, then add butter, stirring well until melted.
Sprinkle bacon-onion mixture with flour, stirring until well combined. Cook until flour is slightly golden brown.
Add milk about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well until smooth, letting sauce come to a bubble.
Add a generous pinch of smoked paprika and season well with salt & pepper to taste.
Add the fish pieces, stirring well to coat, along with the parmesan cheese, and let mixture bubble for a minute or two.
Pour the whole mixture into a small casserole dish, sprinkle with the crushed crackers & parmesan mixture on top.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes until the crumbs turn golden and the fish sauce is bubbling.

Amazing… decadent… fudgey… mind boggling, really!

Saturday night, after I got back from the first backyard BBQ of the season, I decided that it was time to start the Cesamet again.

Instead of doing the “smart” thing regarding how to start the new meds, I chose to do the stupid method instead. You know, start at the lowest doseage and increase it a bit a week later. Don’t go for full on “kill an elephant” dose, it will generally make you feel a lot rougher when you wake up three days later…

Here’s the problem:

The Cesamet definitely doesn’t kill the pain, but it does make it so I can choose to ignore the pain (relatively easily) for a few hours if I want to, instead of taking The Moose which is actually kinda cool. Problem is that the pain will eventually make its appearance known under no uncertain terms and at that point I’d better be damned sure I have The Moose hanging around.

And in the end, it makes me an absolute Zombie…. or sleep like the dead… a vegetable… whatever. It’s almost impossible for me to wake up after I’ve had the Cesamet. I’ve had three, relatively decent, days worth of straight sleep which is sort of nice, but weird. Biggest problems: I didn’t get up to pee too often, I couldn’t (care to) get up to eat, I was pretty dizzy/unbalanced, I couldn’t wake up at all! I also fell asleep while talking on the phone with Mom without realizing I fell asleep. Basically this boiled down to being a bit of a worrisome experiment because if I had been left completely on my own, I probably would have slept for days without waking up to eat, drink or take my meds and The Hubbs is very much not a fan of me being so broken.

So we’re back at square one again… still stuck between a rock & a hard place in regards to how we deal with my pain & my pain meds.

*sigh*

So I made raspberry jam brownies.

They were supposed to be for The Hubbs’ work snacks, but I was craving chocolate & raspberries and may have actually eaten a whole slice all by myself, still hot from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I don’t crave desserts too often, but I’m pretty sure that the Cesamet may have contributed some cravings I had over the last two nights.

This brownie recipe is wonderfully simple and it requires no butter or eggs, something I would never have imagined myself trying to make. In the world of baking, I am one of those girls happily encouraging the full use of butter, sugar, eggs and cream to make a proper tasting dessert. The thought of desserts not incorporating any of these ingredients generally confuses me, so you can imagine my delight (and relief) that this recipe worked when I pulled the brownies out from the oven.

The nifty thing about this recipe is that you can take any jam you might have lying around, mix it into the brownie batter until smooth (or as smooth as possible if your jam is dense with fruit) and doing this gives you an incredibly fudgey brownie with the most amazing fruit flavour. Not only that but if you wait just long enough for things to set up just slightly after removing from the oven, you can eat the brownies still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream & be the happiest clam on the planet.

Jam Brownies
1 cup dark chocolate chips, divided
1 jar (250ml+) raspberry jam
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F
Line 9×9″ pan with parchment & set aside.
Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every thirty seconds until melted. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl with a whisk, combine the jam, milk, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir well, until smooth(-ish).
Add the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well, then add the cooled melted chocolate.
Fold in remaining chocolate chips, then spread batter out into lined pan and bake for 45 minutes.

When the time is up, the brownies will not appear to be done but take them out anyway and let them cool for 30-45 minutes…. Or just wait long enough for the sides of the cake to set up, after being cut into pieces, and serve still hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Side Note: These brownies were originally a Vegan recipe, adapted, but can also be GLUTEN-FREE! If you want the GF version of the recipe, check it out, here.

So many recipes, so little time… and 2-Minute Chocolate Cake!

I have made so many awesome meals the last couple of weeks and I haven’t posted any of them here.

I have been wanting to write for ages, but the last two weeks have just been an absolute gong-show. *sigh*

Well, to start things off in what is I am sure to be an onslaught of recipes to come, have some chocolate cake ^_^

I figured I should share the love for the two-minute chocolate cake since it was kindly pointed out to me that I actually have the recipe on-hand at home to do so… silly me.

2 Minute Chocorate Cakie!

For a generous single-serving of cake, this is your recipe — though we discovered last night after a very rich meal that the recipe is actually more fitting for two, post dinner ^_^

Two-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

(from Lucky Peach Magazine Issue 3)

1 egg

3 Tbsp milk

3 Tbsp oil

3 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 Tbsp chocolate chips

splash of vanilla

pinch of salt

Microwave safe coffee mug

Add egg + wet ingredients to mug and stir well.

Add dry ingredients & mix again thoroughly.

Add chocolate chips, vanilla & mix again on more time.

Microwave for 2 minutes, allow to cool, then EAT!

P.S.: The cake WILL rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be afraid! ^_^

P.P.S.: This can also be done with gluten-free flour mix instead of regular flour.