Saturday, 29 October 2011

Chicken in a Cream + Shallot Sauce

This recipe, like many others to come, was invented when I was running on grocery-budget-fumes.  It’s surprising what you can think up when you’re under pressure! Learning how to improvise takes a lot of trial and error, and sometimes you really need to know what flavors work together. But really, if you can think up a meal you’ve had in the past, you can often recreate it while making a few tweaks here and there! But sometimes, all you need is a good sauce (this is becoming my catch phrase). So with that in mind, this recipe will be a good front-runner for a post to come on making easy from-scratch sauces that barely cost a thing! Et voila:
2 chicken breasts (skin on or off is fine)
¼ lemon, zested
S+ P
Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, sliced in thin rounds (or minced if you prefer smaller pieces)
1 Tbsp. capers
¼ lemon, zested
¾ c. stock (really, everything but beef works)
¼ c. cream
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1.Preheat oven to 400’. Season the chicken well with S+P and lemon zest. Sear in olive oil in an oven proof skillet until golden. Set aside in a bowl. Deglaze hot pan with ¼ cup of stock. Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan, and pour over the chicken.

2. Heat olive oil and gently cook the garlic and shallots until soft. Add capers and the rest of the lemon zest. Turn off the heat, and add the chicken and all liquid from the bowl.  Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.

3. Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm. Add the rest of the stock, cream, and parsley to the pan. Boil until the sauce has reduced slightly and is a little syrupy.

If using a serving dish, pour the sauce right over the chicken and garnish with more parsley, or serve the sauce in a gravy boat on the side.
I served this chicken with white rice I had cooked in more chicken stock with some herbs, and slow roasted tomatoes (olive oil, S+P, roast with the chicken).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Salad Dressings solved!

If you're at all like me, you are cooking on a budget and have realized that salad dressings cost WAY more than they should. I refuse to buy them, in part because I don't like committing to an entire bottle of one dressing (I get bored easily), but mostly because I know I always have the necessary ingredients at home and can whip one up in a jiffy (I can't believe I just used the word jiffy. But, no, it seems right.).

Despite all these things, I somehow always find myself hesitating when it comes time to make a dressing. The reason: I'm usually in too much of a hurry to look up a good recipe, and I don't know how much oil to use compared to everything else. (The worst thing is oily lettuce!)
I was watching Chef at Home (Michael Smith, Food Network) and he was making some dressings and it all finally clicked: There's a formula! A basic ratio that you can ALWAYS count on to work! Without further ado, I shall share the love:

For about 1 cup of dressing:
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar, or other sour/acidic liquid (citrus juices work awesome, as do flavoured vinegars)
1/4 cup honey, or other liquid sweetener (for sweetening with sugar, use 1 Tbsp instead)

Plenty of other things can be added such as mustard, mayo, fresh herbs - depending on your flavor preference!

Pretty much anything goes when it comes to dressings. You can stick with traditional flavors or you can play with them. For oil you can use just about any kind, though I wouldn't recommend canola, because it tends to have no flavor at all. Some inspiration, and some of my personal favourites:
Balsamic Dijon
Miso Agave (the Miso here doesn't replace anything, it just gets added for flavour)
Orange Honey
Lime Mint

And just because I'm a dork like that, I created something I hope you'll enjoy! You can right-click and save, then print! I like to attach magnets to things like this and keep them on my fridge.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Summer Omelette

This is a delicious omelette recipe I came up with in the middle of summer, on a lazy Saturday morning. I thought I didn’t have anything in the fridge to make a good breakfast with, but when I combined what I DID have with what was in the garden… I stumbled upon genius in the form of a surprising ingredient that perks any omelette right up!

(For an omelet I recommend about 2 eggs per person)
Serves 2
5 eggs
1 large kale leaf - stems removed and roughly chopped in small pieces
½ green or red tomato
¼ chopped onion (red, white, or green is fine!)
Splash of cream or milk
S+ P (I like coarse salt)
Lemon zest – just a few strokes on the grater.
Parmesan cheese

1. Combine eggs, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and cream. Whisk gently with a fork or whisk to break yokes + whites. No need to beat the living daylights out of it.

2. In a frying pan, melt a few tablespoons of butter, and add the onion and tomato. Cook until they are as firm or soft as you like them, then add the kale leaves. (Because of their moisture, they may pop and splatter a little when they come in contact with the butter – watch out!). Cook and stir until kale leaves start to wilt. They can be a little tough to chew otherwise.

3. From here, you have a few ways you can proceed.
For a traditional omelet:
Put the filling in a bowl, and pour the eggs into the pan (make sure heat is no higher than Medium!). Let sit for a few seconds, so the bottom cooks well. With a spatula gently lift one side up and tilt pan so the uncooked top runs underneath. Do this a couple of times until it is almost fully cooked. Pour the filling on one side, and add as much cheese as you want. Flip the omelet in half and let cook ½ a minute longer, until the middle is well set. Turn out onto a plate, and dot with a little more butter

The way I like:
I pour the eggs right on top of the filling and let it set for a few seconds, then I push it around just a few times with my spatula so that it still relatively holds an omelet style shape, but there is no fussy flipping involved. I divide and turn out onto plates, and garnish with the parm.

Messy Omelet:
Pour the eggs right over the filling and start stirring as you would scrambled eggs. My dad always called this a messy omelet, but my husband insists it’s just scrambled eggs with veggies added. Whatever you call it, it’s easy and still totally delicious.

I suppose you've already guessed that the secret ingredient is the lemon zest. Not a big surprise there, but it makes the eggs taste as bright and sunny as they look!
It’s recipes like this that make me long for summer again! Thankfully kale grows in the winter, and I have plenty of tomatoes stored in my pantry that refuse to ripen. 
But still… something feels out of place when the sun isn’t streaming in the kitchen window.

I love my bright green kitchen

I have so many pictures of food, I don’t even know what to do with them. A friend suggested a food blog. While I know it’s going to be challenging to always be entertaining and educating and “fresh”, I am certainly looking forward to this!

I love to cook in my bright green kitchen, I love to eat more dinner for dessert, and I love trying new things! Entertaining and meal planning are some of my favorite past times. With this blog I hope to inspire you to try new things too, as well as go over a few kitchen basics that I myself have only recently learned! Sometimes you don’t need a recipe! Sometimes a trick here or there can really save your dinner!