Easy Beer and Panko Fried Pickles

By Corinne

I like to use the pickles that are already sliced for sandwiches to make these to save a step- you can of course slice whole dills, or even slice them into little rounds if you prefer.

If you’ve never used panko crumbs, they are NOT the same as regular Italian style bread crumbs. They are lighter and cook up much crispier than regular crumbs. Panko style crumbs are made by cooking bread using an electric current rather than heat- so the loaf has no brown outside crust. This video from Upper Crust Enterprises doesn’t have the most engaging narration, but does take you on a factory tour and through the panko making process if you’re interested.

You will need:

  • 10 large slices of pickle
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • Vegetable, canola, safflower or sunflower oil for frying
  • salt if desired

Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp snipped fresh dill

Heat oil over medium heat. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix flour and beer. Stir in snipped fresh dill. In another shallow bowl or pie plate, add panko crumbs.

Dip pickle slices into beer batter, then transfer to panko crumbs, pressing crumbs in slightly. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all pickle slices have been breaded.

Use a few sacrificial crumbs and place them in the oil- they should vigorously bubble. If the oil is too hot and starts to smoke, remove immediately from heat. If the oil is too cold, your breading will absorb more oil then necessary.

Stir together sour cream, 1-2 cloves minced garlic and snipped fresh dill. Set aside.

Fry battered pickles in batches, one to two minutes on each side, placing on a piece of paper towel to cool until all are finished. Serve with sour cream dip.

** if you are making a larger quantity, you can keep them warm in the oven while you’re cooking the next batch, but place them on a wire rack on a cookie sheet to keep them from getting soggy bottoms.

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Quinoa Taco Salad

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By Corinne

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa as I shared in my post on Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. I find it tends to suck the flavour out of things, and isn’t really that exciting on it’s own. Ha, ha, am I selling you on this yet? This really is a wonderful supper full of savoury flavours and delightful textures. I have found that red quinoa seems to have a bit more flavour, and I prefer it for this dish and most others. It is vegan as long as you either use dairy free cheese shreds and either omit or use a dairy free version of sour cream.

This recipe was inspired by one from Thug Kitchen 101- but edited for both additional flavour and simplicity. It could also easily be used as a filling for tacos, or as a topping for nachos 🙂

 

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed (to rinse or not to rinse? I buy mine in bulk so rinse)
  • 1 3/4 cups water or veggie broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup canned (cooked) black beans
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño, minced (don’t be afraid to use at least one here! The quinoa really does make things less spicy somehow)
  • 2 heads romaine, washed and chopped
  • juice of one lime, + additional lime wedges for each salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • garnishes- avocado or guacamole, additional jalapeño, green onions, diced cherry or regular tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or queso fresca

Combine 1 cup quinoa with water or veggie broth. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp oregano. Bring to boil, and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir every few minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy- about 20 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit more of everything to your taste, or leaving it as is. While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.

Add 2 tbsp oil to pan on medium high heat, and add onion, black beans, bell pepper,  and jalapeño to pan. Fry until veggies are starting to get tender and getting some colour- about 5-7 min. Add cooked quinoa, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Stir for an additional minute or two.

Serve hot over lettuce with toppings of your choice. Also delicious cold for lunch the next day!

 

 

Chicken with Chardonnay Cream and Pancetta

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By Corinne

I love cooking with wine! You don’t have to buy a super expensive bottle, but you should buy one that isn’t horrific or that makes you gag. I often use Grey Fox Chardonnay from California for cooking, as it’s inexpensive but also not the worst if you’re going to have a glass to finish the bottle.

This recipe was inspired by one in Niagra Cooks by Lynn Orgryzlo, but has been adapted. I wanted it to be gluten free, with more sauce, and a few less steps. A grainy mustard also works well here, though will give the finished sauce a slightly different texture. I have made it before with 1/2 and 1/2 cream, if you do this, you will need more time for reducing and definitely need to finish by thickening with corn starch.

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 

You will need:

  • 4 chicken cutlets (about 1.5lbs or 0 .66kg)
  • 4 slices of pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup (about 1/2 a large onion) finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  •  1.5 cups chardonnay
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp broth, water or wine
  • a few tbsp safflower, or canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Cook pancetta until crisp in the pan you will be cooking the chicken in. Only cook pancetta over medium/medium low. It will get quite smokey if you do it on a higher heat.  Remove pancetta, add butter to pan. Add minced onion, cook until softened and starting to get golden, about 7 min. Add minced garlic and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove onion and garlic from pan, but leave any residual oil.

Add enough oil to the pan so that the bottom is covered in a thin layer. Turn up heat to medium high. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan, it should sizzle loudly. You want some nice browning action so the pan has to be hot (though it should not be smoking). Cook 3-4 min on each side, turning once, until cooked through. If you are not using cutlets and are using rather thick breasts, brown both sides and then finish in a 400F oven until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You may have to cook in batches. Remove when cooked and keep warm in oven.

Add the chardonnay to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the onions you cooked earlier. Let reduce for a few minutes until reduced by about a 1/4. Add chicken or vegetable broth and cream. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. If sauce requires additional thickening, mix together 1/2tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp broth, wine or water. Mix into sauce.

Serve cutlets with a generous scoop of sauce, and a piece of pancetta crumbled over top. Delicious sides that go well with this sauce include rice and almost any vegetable, though tonight I made twice baked broccoli potatoes- which also worked well 🙂

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Skillet Chili Pasta

By Corinne

For a long time I had mixed feelings about chili. I don’t care for kidney beans. Sometimes people put mushrooms in their chili, and mushrooms happen to be one of the few things that I REALLY don’t like. I’m a bit picky about my ground beef. But one of the glorious things about making things yourself is you can do it how you like it. I usually make chili with stew beef rather than ground beef, but though I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I have been inspired to make more plant protein based meals. This chili is a riff on something between my regular chili, and the chili mac from Thug Kitchen 101. It is vegan as long as you stick to vegan ‘toppers’ to finish.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp safflower or olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped (I often use red onion, but yellow onions work fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery (or two small)
  • 1 jalapeño finely minced (use half if you are cautious about the heat, it is always easier to add more than to try and adjust it if you’ve made it too hot for your taste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (500ml)  of a plain tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes (I usually use my ones I canned from my garden until I run out!)
  • *2 tbsp (30 ml)- 1/2 cup tomato paste the amount of tomato paste needed will depend on the tomato sauce you use and whether you used just canned tomatoes or an actual sauce
  • 1 can of beer
  • 2-3 cups (750ml) of vegetable broth (start with 2, add more water if needed for the pasta to cook)
  • 3 cups of small pasta (about 240g) (today I used a tri-colour rotini, but I also love small shells for this)
  • 1 can (540ml 19 fl oz) of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lime juice + zest from one lime
  • any or none of the following to finish – cilantro, cheese, sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, additional jalapeño. This dish is vegan as long as you stick to vegan add ins.

In a large skillet, add  2 tbsp oil and chopped onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper,  and jalapeño pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are fragrant and getting tender. Add garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, veggie broth, and beer. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add pasta, cover and cook until pasta is a bit before al dente.  The amount of time here will depend on the size of your pasta, but about 7 minutes should probably do it. Add lime juice and zest, maple syrup and tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve topped with any or none of the the suggested toppings. Do you have any toppings you love for chili that aren’t mentioned here?

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Maple Balsamic Slaw and Sausage

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By Corinne

If ‘coleslaw’ makes you think of mayo- banish it from your mind!  This is not your mayo based coleslaw for sure. Red cabbage is beautiful, inexpensive and an excellent source of vitamins C, K, and A. You could do all red cabbage for this slaw, or all green if that’s all you can find, but I like a combination of the two for the colours. In the middle of winter it can be difficult to find good produce that is reasonably priced. This colourful meal checks a number of boxes- easy, fast, healthy and economical!

RANDOM SCIENCE FACTS AND FUN HOME LAB FOR KIDS– skip this and scroll down if you want to straight to the foods!

You can also make an AWESOME natural indicator with red cabbage. An indicator is a substance that changes colour depending on pH. Red cabbage contains a pigment molecule that is an anthocyanin- this is what is responsible for the colour changes. Want a fun little science lab you can do at home?  I have done the following MANY times with my science students. I usually have them test a variety of ‘mystery liquids’ with both pH strips and a few drops of the red cabbage indicator. They are always surprised with the variety and brightness of the colours produced.

To make the indicator, boil some chopped red cabbage(about a cup or cup and a half) with a half a cup of water for about 5 minutes- it doesn’t matter too much proportions, but you want to end up with a dark purple liquid – that being said, the colour of the liquid will very much depend on the pH of your tap water and how close to neutral your  water is. Strain and cool (keep tightly sealed in the fridge) Once cooled, you can test a variety of household substances.

Start with something you know is acidic- lemon juice or vinegar and something you know is basic- bleach for example, so you have a baseline and know what colours to expect from acids and bases. In science class we use spot plates and pipettes, but you can just place a few drops of your testing liquid onto a plate. You want just a few drops of the substance you are testing, and then place a few drops of your indicator into it and record your observations.

If you drip this liquid into a substance that is basic, it will turn green, and if you drip it into an acid it turns bright pink. (Neutral solutions will stay purple). Have fun checking a variety of household liquids!

Time: 40 minutes for the sausages, about 15 minutes for the slaw or less if you are using a food processor.

Oven: 400F

Serves: 2-3

You will need:

  • 350 g (about 4 cups) red cabbage thinly sliced
  • 200 g (about 3 cups) green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 140 g (1 large) carrot grated
  • 3 salt and pepper sausages (can be found at Maltese if you are in Thunder Bay) or 3 mildly flavoured sausages of your choice
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) safflower or olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (37 ml) pure maple syrup (don’t use maple flavoured whatever!)
  • 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, finely minced (about 1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper

Heat oven to 400F while you make the dressing.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. This makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Thinly slice cabbages and grate carrot. I used a food processor today, but have often just sliced by hand. Dress slaw in half of the dressing and refrigerate and reserve the other half of the dressing. (This is fine made ahead, but ensure you don’t add the toasted sesame seeds until serving)

Add 1 additional clove of garlic to the reserved dressing. Place sausages in a small casserole dish with the half cup of reserved dressing. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping them over periodically and basting in the dressing.

In a small frying pan, add the sesame seeds and toast over medium heat, shaking them up until golden- about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add a generous amount slaw to each plate. When sausage is thoroughly cooked, slice on the bias and place on top of slaw. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of toasted sesame seeds.

 

Broccoli Potato Beer Soup

By Corinne

Life has been crazy. I hope you can forgive my slacking in the blogosphere. I’ve made a lot of great things, but those extra steps of taking pictures and writing things out has just been beyond what I’ve been able to do the last month or so!

It has also been freezing. The last two weeks it’s been colder in Thunder Bay than it has in the Arctic- like the actual north pole! We just got back from a few days of skiing where we had a high of about -30C everyday. Brrrrr… I have to say, that perhaps the one good thing about this wintery weather is soup.

Originally, I was feeling more of a cheddar beer soup… but we just spent 3 days eating out and I was really craving more veg. Plus, a cheddar soup is so much (delicious) cheese, but it’s January so everyone is trying to be good! Thus, I thought I would do a soup that was somewhere closer to being a little more virtuous and yet had the spirit of something more decadent.

This is quick to put together, is loaded with savory flavours, and vegan if you either omit the cheese or use a vegan shredded cheese to finish.

Time: about 10 min prep about 40 min total

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2.5 cups russet potatoes diced with skin on
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups veggie broth (chicken broth would also work)
  • 1 can of beer (355ml, 12 fl oz) (I would recommend a ‘boring’ beer like a lager rather than an IPA. If you use something bitter and hoppy, the bitterness will really come through)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (I actually really like the President’s choice one)
  • 1 tsp your favourite hotsauce- I used Heartbeat hot sauce, our local hot sauce (dial this up if you’re feeling it)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp safflower or olive oil
  • Several generous grinds of fresh pepper and salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish if desired
  • * I didn’t have any, but it would be delightful with a hit of chives to finish!

Add 2 tbsp oil to a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot to pot. Cook for about 10 minutes, until you start getting some nice browned bits on the bottom. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes more until garlic is fragrant.

Deglaze pot with beer, scraping up those delicious browned bits. Add diced potatoes, and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add the dijon, hot sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add the broccoli and boil for about another 6 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to blend soup to desired consistency, I like mine where there are still a few chunky bits left. Taste and adjust seasoning- adding more salt (depending on the saltiness of your broth, this may or may not be needed) more pepper or more hot sauce if you want to dial up the heat a bit.

This would be delightful topped with some fresh chives, but I forgot to buy them so had to go without. Top with cheese (vegan if desired) and enjoy with garlic toasts!