Cucumber Tomato Salad with Lemon and Dill

By Corinne

This salad comes together quickly and makes a delicious side. If you’re looking to make it a little more hearty, add some crumbled feta- if you do you should omit the salt until after you’ve tasted it with the cheese as feta is quite salty.

Makes: about 4 side servings

Time: less than 10 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 long English cucumber
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of fresh garlic
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill (add more if desired)
  • several grinds of fresh black pepper
  • salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)

Halve the cucumber and thinly slice into half moons and put in a medium sized bowl. Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to cucumbers. Mince or press garlic and add to the cucumber and tomato. Chop dill and add to the vegetables. Add the juice of one fresh lemon and several grinds of fresh pepper and salt. Stir together. This salad can be eaten immediately, but is best if left to sit at least half an hour before serving in order to let the flavours marry.

 

Hominy with Kale and Chicken

By Corinne

Living here in the great white north I’ve only recently been introduced to hominy.  After a bit of looking around on the internet, it seems like canned hominy is easy to find and can usually be found near beans in the grocery store. Most sources recommended using canned rather than dried, and if you can find them, it will certainly save them a step. If you’re living in Thunder Bay, I haven’t found canned hominy anywhere (though word on the street is that Bulk Zone has brought in some canned hominy now!) and the only place I’ve found whole dried hominy is Renco’s Foods on Court St.

Once you’ve figured out the hominy part, this is an easy supper.

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Time: about 35-45 minutes (depends on the thickness of the chicken you are cooking)

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups of hominy* (rehydrated and cooked) or probably one can drained will do
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 6 cups of washed and finely chopped kale leaves – no stems
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I used mini san marzano because they are my fav)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or one crumbled red chili
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth. I used white wine.
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a large pan heat 1 tbsp canola over medium heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to pan. If your chicken breasts are quite thick, you may wish to cut them in half to reduce cooking time. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken) until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from pan.

Add 1 tbsp canola to the pan and turn up the heat a bit to medium high. Add the hominy and stir and cook for about 10 minutes until some of it is getting a bit browned on the edges. Add the onion and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken breasts and add back to pan with the other ingredients. Add the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and kale. Add the white wine and the lemon juice. Stir until chicken is reheated,  kale has wilted and the liquid has been mostly absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Some of the tomatoes may have just started to break down, that’s ok, but if they’re all still whole that’s ok too. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Quinoa and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Ginger Vinegrette

By Corinne

I haven’t quite managed to jump on the quinoa bandwagon, but have discovered that I do prefer the red quinoa to the white variety. It seems to have a little more flavour than the white variety and it cooks up exactly the same. This is a healthy and filling supper salad. It’s even better if you make the quinoa and dressing the day before and it has a chance to really soak in, which means it makes for amazing lunch the next day

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water (I use a little less water because it’s going to absorb some of the dressing later)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 crispy apple (I used Red Prince variety)
  • 3/4 cup of pepitas
  • goat cheese- I’m not putting an amount because I like a lot. Full disclosure, I even added a few more chunks after I took the photo.
  • salad greens of your choice
  • Not pictured – but some slices of cucumber also work well with this dressing

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • zest of one orange
  • 4 tsp freshly grated ginger (taste, you may want to add more)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • Several grinds of fresh pepper and a generous pinch of salt

Before cooking quinoa, give it a good rinse in a fine colander under running water, scrubbing it a bit with your fingers. Cook quinoa in 1 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff and remove from heat- leave uncovered to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients.

In a dry pan, toast pepitas over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes. You will hear some of them start to ‘snap’ and get a bit brown. They don’t all need to brown, but when they start to smell toasty they are done.

When quinoa is finished cooking and has cooled a bit, add half of the dressing to the quinoa. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes, though this could be done earlier in the day and refrigerated. Let the quinoa cool to about room temperature. (Though if you’ve made it earlier in the day or the day before and it’s cooled completely, that’s great too!)

Slice apple just before serving so it doesn’t brown.

Place salad greens in bowl, add several spoonfuls of the dressed quinoa on top of the greens. Top with apple slices, goat cheese, toasted pepitas and additional dressing.

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Pozole Soup

By Corinne

I first came across pozole at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais MN. I then returned home to spend several hours reading about this delicious soup and about hominy, which I had only vaguely heard of in reference to movies that take place in the south.

If you’re new to hominy, What The Hell is Hominy, Anyway? is a pretty basic primer.

Finding hominy in Thunder Bay turned out to be something of a challenge. It seems like it’s something that’s probably more widely available in larger (or more southern) centers. If you can find canned hominy, I’m sure that would work just as well and be a lot less trouble than using dried. If you’re in Thunder Bay, you can find dried hominy at Renco’s Foods on Court St. They have it at the Bulk Zone too, but it’s sort of ground (maybe what gets used for grits? I have no idea) but that’s not what you want for this recipe.

While traditional pozole generally  uses pork shoulder, making enough soup to use such a large cut of meat would make a lot of soup. I’ve substituted two bone in chops instead. It seems like a lot of traditional recipes also call for tomatillos- which I also had difficulty finding in Thunder Bay (I did find them at the Bulk Zone, but didn’t use them in the recipe)

I make no claims that this is anything like traditional pozole, but it is delicious and worth the time. It also has had the side effect of making me a bit obsessed with hominy.

Time: about 25 minutes prep, 2 hours simmer *see note about hominy prep, if not using canned

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 2 bone in pork chops (about 500g, about 1lbs)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 1 beer, preferably something Mexican like Corona (omit or use a GF beer for this recipe to be GF -or you could just use broth to deglaze)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely minced (measure after mincing) plus more for garnish if desired
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapeños minced
  • 2 cups hominy* canned if you can find it
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin (I always toast and grind mine so it’s more flavourful, you may want to add more if you’re using regular ground cumin)
  • 10 cups water or combination of water and chicken broth (3 tbsp veggie bouillon if using plain water)
  • juice of one lemon
  • lime wedges
  • avocado for garnish if desired
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, add 1 tbsp canola oil and heat over medium high. Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper, and cook, turning once, until they have some good colour – it doesn’t matter if they are cooked through as they will cook in the soup. When both sides are browned, remove from pot and add chopped onion.

Cook onion for about 5 minutes until translucent. It will probably pick up a lot of colour from the browned bits from the pork chops. Add minced garlic cloves and stir for one more minute. Add the beer a bit at a time, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot until you’ve added the whole beer. Return the pork chops to the pot, and add the water/chicken broth.

Add the 1/4 cup minced cilantro, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp minced pickled jalapeño peppers and two cups of hominy to the pot. Simmer soup uncovered over medium for 1 hour.

While soup is simmering, char poblano peppers. This can be done on the BBQ, in the oven under broil, or in the flame of a gas stove. You want the outside skin to be charred and blackened all over. This took me 20 minutes in my toaster oven on the broil setting. When peppers are charred all over, either toss into a paper bag and close, or put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off skin, chop roughly and add to soup.

After soup has simmered for an hour, remove pork chops and shred the meat from the bone. Discard bone and return meat to the pot. Add the juice of one lemon. Simmer uncovered for another hour.

All of this uncovered simmering is going to cause your soup reduce somewhat and that’s just fine, though you can taste and add more liquid if desired.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional cilantro, slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime slice, and cheesy tortillas if desired.

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Easy Hermit Cookies

By:  Julie

Serves:  Makes 3 dozen cookies

Time:  10min mixing, 12 min baking.

My grandmother made hermit cookies that were one of my favourite treats.  When I think of them, I remember the sound of the screen door on the porch, the texture of the carpet under my bare feet, and the way the smell of raisins and spice hit you when you opened the door into the house.  She would be standing there in a crazy-patterened house-dress, one fist on her hip, stirring something and humming under her breath.  If you were really lucky she would be singing.  I’m shocked to say that these are actually better than hers, (which were almost sort of muffiny-fat dense cookies).  There is no dough- chilling involved, just mix and bake!  Perfect for homemade in a hurry.

I should tell you that I love raisins. I probably put them in more things than I should. Even if you’re not a raisin cheerleader like I am, I encourage you to try these.  The dough is sweet so the walnuts are important to provide balance, salt too.  Watch these carefully –  with the addition of the spices it’s hard to tell when the edges start to brown.  You want them to to be browned around the edges and slightly coloured on top.  If you over-bake them they will still be delicious… just dunk them in some milk!

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You Will Need:

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups of raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts – toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cream the butter with the sugar and beat on high for 2-3 min.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between.  Add the vanilla and beat for 2 min.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, baking soda and spices.  Add to the cookie mixture a third at a time, beating well in between.  Add the raisins and the nuts and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

Using a cookie scoop is a bit challenging since the dough is so fluffy.  You want 1 inch balls of dough dropped onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  This makes the perfect size cookie. Don’t flatten them out, they will settle as they bake.

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Bake at 375F for 9-12 minutes.  See that gaping hole below where once there was a cookie? I may have stuffed one in my mouth while they were still 375F, possibly burning the roof of my mouth and impairing my ability to taste for the rest of the day.

Worth It.

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Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

By Corinne

I love goat cheese and there is a generous amount of it on this salad – do feel free to cut back to a more reasonable amount. There is a pub in town that serves a delicious goat cheese and steak salad that was definitely my inspiration for this. Making it at home means I can add more cheese and make the dressing exactly how I want it.

Serves: 4 

Time: about 25 minutes – but it depends on how long you let the steaks come to room temperature and how long you let them rest for at the end

You will need:

  • 3 strip loin steaks (you can do one per person if they are particularly small or if you are very hungry – you can also do 2 steaks if you are looking to cut back on the meat portion)
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Worcestershire sauce (gluten free if you use a gf worcestershire – alternatively use balsamic here)
  • 10 oz (284g) salad greens (I used “tender ruby reds”, but spring mix or romaine work as well)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, VERY thinly sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes if desired. Sometimes I feel them, sometimes I don’t.
  • 250g goat cheese (if you can find it, try ‘Celebrity’ brand – it’s one of the best ones I’ve found in a grocery store. If you live in Thunder Bay, you can find it at Maltese)

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar *
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

*as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I tend to prefer my dressings more on the vinegar side. The classic oil/vinegar ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil – feel free to adjust this to taste.

Sprinkle steaks liberally with Montreal steak spice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to room temperature – at least 30 minutes, but 45 if you have time.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Slice peppers and onions and tomatoes if using. Divide salad greens among plates, distribute onions and peppers on top of greens and sprinkle with goat cheese. I find raw onion can be quite strong. Slice it very thin, as thin as you possibly can. Give it a taste, the amount  you use is going to depend very much on the strength of the particular onion.

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Grilling the steaks – preheat bbq for 5-10 minutes. Sear steaks- place on grill for 1 minute, close the lid. Flip and place on the other side for 1 minute. Flip again and cook for 10-15 minutes flipping half way through, depending on desired doneness. If you haven’t tried it,  you should start trying the touch test for doneness.  It’s a more reliable test than purely timing, and once you have it down you’re golden. If you have a meat thermometer, you can use that, but it requires you poking the steaks and losing potential juiciness. Allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Divide greens, vegetables and goat cheese between 4 plates. Thinly slice steak and place on salad. Divide dressing between 4 plates. If desired, add a few more chunks of goat cheese on top of the steaks.

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Creamy Braised Pork Chops

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By Corinne

I don’t have any sort of clever story to tell about these. Suffice to say that the sauce is savory and creamy and the chops end up so tender you can cut them with your fork. You should make them because they are easy and delicious and make amazing leftovers for lunch the next day.

You will need:

  • 4 pork chops (boneless, or bone in, whatever your preference)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • several generous grinds of fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp butter + 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

Preheat oven 350F

Mix together paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Apply to pork chops, ensuring you use it all. In a large, preferably cast iron, but otherwise in an oven safe pan, heat 1/2 tbsp of butter and 1/2 tsp of canola. When melted and bubbly, add pork chops to pan, allowing about 3 minutes for each side until browned- they will finish cooking in the oven.

Remove pork chops from pan and add the other 1/2 tbsp of butter. Add minced onion to pan and stirring for about 2 minutes until slightly softened. It should pick up quite a bit of colour. Add the 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Then add the lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, thyme, mustards and milk. Whisk sauce together and return pork chops to pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and place in preheated oven.

Cook in oven for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the thickness of your pork chops. If you are braising for more than 1 hour, at the 1 hour mark remove from oven and flip them over if they are not covered by the braising liquid. If you plan on leaving them in for longer, you may want to add some additional water/wine/or stock as liquid.

The sauce is delicious over rice and goes well with just about any vegetable you enjoy.