Pasta with Shrimp (or without!) in Tomato White Wine Sauce

By Corinne

If you live in Thunder Bay and haven’t tried Big Lake Pasta you should track some down at your earliest convenience. This pasta dish could probably be made with any pasta, but the Saffron Campanelle really did give it an extra something special.

Speaking of special, you may have noticed a real lack of fish and seafood posts from me on this blog. That’s because when I make them, it’s only as something special for my husband or company that I really love as I have a fairly severe allergy to them. Full disclosure, I was told that the shrimp were really good, but I didn’t (and can’t) actually taste them myself. I have the feeling that three of these large prawns would have been a fine serving, but since it’s a special treat, hubby got all six. Obviously this isn’t vegetarian if you use shrimp, but I ate it without and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Serves: 4 (though you would need more shrimp for 4 people, there is enough pasta and sauce for 4)

Time: about 1 hour including simmering time for sauce

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 dried chili pepper or about 1/2-1tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 cups of white wine (preferably dry, preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lemon
  • 350g fresh pasta, preferably Big Lake Saffron Campanelle

For the shrimps – I used tiger prawns and serving size will depend on the size of your shrimp!

I used this amount of butter/spice mixture for 6 large tiger prawns (probably 2 servings)

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced flat leaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 tbsp olive or canola oil. Add the onion to this and stir around for about 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chili pepper and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of white wine, slowly at first to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then add the can of tomatoes and paprika. Allow to simmer for about 45min to 1hr. Taste after simmering for a while, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering, prep the butter mixture for the shrimp. Rinse and clean shrimp if necessary and slide onto bamboo skewers. Baste with butter sauce before putting on BBQ, and if you have enough, one more time when you flip them over.

The shrimp will take less than 10 minutes on the bbq, so when you are ready to put your pasta in the boiling water that would be the time to put them on.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (parsley or basil) and squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving.

 

 

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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Loaded Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Leftover Roast Beef

By Corinne

Shepherd’s pie is something I don’t make very often, mostly because I rarely make mashed potatoes, so even more rarely have any leftover mashed potatoes to use for the topping. However, I am the owner of a beautiful deep dish pie plate from Pampered Chef, and felt like shepherd’s pie is something that would suit this dish perfectly.

But, when I went to make it, I only had a couple potatoes, so decided to make a mixed vegetable mash for the topping instead of using just using potatoes. This had the side benefit of being both delicious, and probably more healthy as well.

You will need:

  • 2 cups leftover roast beef
  • 2.5 cups peeled, diced potatoes
  • 2.5 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup chopped parsnip (peeled if desired)
  • 1 cup carrot
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 3-4 tbsp horseradish
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven 400F

Peel and chop potatoes and parsnip. Cut cauliflower into florets. Put potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower into a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until vegetables are fork tender.

While potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower are cooking, place 2 cups of leftover roast beef, 1 cup of diced carrot (do quite a small dice to ensure the carrot gets cooked!), 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup frozen corn into a small casserole dish or a deep dish pie plate. Whisk 2 tbsp of corn starch  into 3/4 cup of beef broth and pour over beef and vegetables.

When potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower are fork tender, remove from stove and drain. Using either a hand or stand mixer, whip vegetables together with 1-2 tbsp of butter and 3-4 tbsp of horseradish until smooth.

Top beef and vegetables with the vegetable mash. Cook in 400F oven for one hour, uncovering for the last half hour so the vegetable mash gets some colour.

 

 

 

Growing Sprouts

By Corinne

I don’t remember what originally inspired me to grow my own sprouts, but it’s so easy and economical that I’m continually surprised it’s not more popular. Why should  you bother? Well, other than being simple and cheap, it’s also fun, and it seems like it would be a fun thing to do with kids. In terms of effort, its only a few seconds a day, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’m still amazed at the changes you see everyday. Once they are ready to eat, sprouts are a yummy addition to salads and wraps, or really anywhere where you might use lettuce.

In terms of nutritional benefits, it seems sprouts may have beneficial enzymes that are part of this early growth. If you do a little googling, there are a lot of claims about just how amazing sprouts are, however, I’m a little skeptical of some of them since few of the sites making these claims back them up with any sort of evidence, references, or studies. That being said,  a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is well established as being beneficial, and sprouts are a fun way to get a little more variation.

There are a few cautions though – it is important to source seeds that are meant for sprouting and raw consumption. Often seeds meant for planting in the garden are treated with fungicides and other things that you don’t want to be eating, or can even potentially be contaminated with salmonella. I order my seeds from Mumm’s, though there are certainly other reputable sites.  My favourite mixes of seeds I’ve tried so far are Spicy Lentil Crunch mix and Crunchy Bean mix.

Equipment

You can buy a special sprouting jar, tray or sprouting bag. But you really don’t need to. If you buy a sprouting jar it will come with a mesh top, but an elastic and piece of cheesecloth work just as well. I use a 1L jar (2 pint), you can use a smaller one, but ensure you reduce the amount of seeds you put in. A wide mouth jar would probably be a good idea, though I generally don’t have too much trouble getting them out of the one I use.

Process

The amount of time it takes to get your sprouts to edible form depends a bit on the type of seeds. Most packages will give you both instructions for sprouting and the number of days it will take to sprout. In general, many are about 5 days, though some seeds take less time, others take more. General directions and helpful hints below.

Step 1. Place 2 tbsp of sprouting seeds into a 1L jar. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Step 2. Drain water and refill with cold water, swirling seeds around to rinse and drain again. If there are a lot of seeds stuck to the cheesecloth, just give them a little flick with your finger to knock them down. Sort of roll the seeds around in the jar so they aren’t all clumped up together- as seen in the middle photo below. Lay the jar on an angle and place it out of direct sunlight.

Step 3. Rinse and drain sprouts twice a day for the next 4-6 days, leaving jar at an angle between rinsing.  For the last day of sprouting you may wish to place the jar somewhere it will get sun for a few hours for the sprouts to green up.

Step 4. When your sprouts are ready for eating, take the cheese cloth off and rinse and discard the seed hulls. Depending on your jar, you may find it easier to put sprouts into a large bowl and skim the hulls off the top. You don’t need to worry about getting them all.

Step 5. Allow sprouts to dry for a few minutes on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. They can be stored in a covered container with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. They are best if eaten sooner rather than later – I often plan to use them the day I know they will be ready, but they can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

As you can see in the above photo, 2 tbsp of seeds made a lot of sprouts, about 4 cups as they are really packed into that jar!  I probably could have let them grow for another day, but I wanted to use them in Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus.

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The photos above are all of the Spicy Lentil Crunch mix. Below are photos featuring the Crunchy Bean mix.