Monday, December 31, 2007

Shrimp Linguine


Since seafood is a relatively new discovery to me, I am always trying to find good new shrimp recipes. I'd also like to try muscles, scallops and more fish but as of yet, I haven't made the effort to go to a good fish market.

But, here is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that I make once in a while.



It's great both freshly cooked and for leftover lunches/dinner. I don't follow the recipe exactly. My variation in parenthesis.

Vegetable oil (I don't use this)
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons (I use about 1/2 tsp total)
3/4 pound linguine (I use whole wheat)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use margarine....please don't kill me)
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (I use about 8 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined (I leave the tips on)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds (I don't always include this)
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. I also use spaghetinni.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily!

Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.

Chop the parsley (mine is only partially chopped here)



Add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.



When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.





I'm going to submit this post to presto past night round up. Hopefully it will be accepted at some point. StumbleUpon

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stew




I had the shivers all day today and thought it would be just the perfect day to make a comfort food. Everyone has their version of stew - here's mine.

Ingredients
1 1/2 - 2 lb. stewing beef (I like to cut it small - cooks faster)
1/2 c flour
1 tbsp Mrs. Dash
1 tbsp Paprika
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 carrots cut in coins
1 stalk celery diced (I really hate celery so I cut it so small you can't find it once it's cooked)
2 good sized potatoes large dice
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Mix flour, Mrs. Dash, paprika, parsley flakes, salt, pepper



2. Put olive oil in dutch oven to heat (approximately 4 tbsp)
3. Dredge beef in flour mixture and add to hot Dutch oven (if it starts to stick add a little more oil)



4. Once beef is seared on both sides, add onion and celery until onion is translucent
5. Boil water in a kettle and add to dutch oven to almost cover the beef. Turn heat down to a simmer.
6. Allow beef to braise for a while (1/2 hr or so), add garlic and carrots.
7. Add diced potatoes about 1/2 hour - 45 minutes before meat is done (the whole process is about 1.5 hrs.)
8. Mix in ketchup
9. Reseason to your taste. StumbleUpon

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Borscht






Borscht

3 good sized square ribs or meat of choice (my mom uses chicken)
1 head green cabbage – shredded
3 or 4 mid sized beets – grated
1 large onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp sugar
1 large can tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut ribs, wash and put in good sized pot (I used a stock pot)
Cover ribs with water and bring to a boil removing scum that forms on the surface.
Add cabbage, onion, beets and garlic and allow to simmer until the meat is nearly cooked (approximately 1 – 1.5 hrs) Salt and pepper to taste.
Add tomato juice, lemon, and sugar
Cook another ½ hr – 45 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Note: If you add the tomato juice too early on in the process the meat won’t be as tender. This soup makes a large volume and is terrific served with a boiled potato per serving. StumbleUpon

Friday, December 28, 2007

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


There's something about chocolate and banana...such a good pair. I (or in this case R) make this recipe, from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook, of banana chocolate chip muffins (see small variation at botton of picture, above, for muffin-specific directions; click to enlarge) about twice a year and it never fails me (or, rather, I never fail it).



Here are the ingredients and instructions below:

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, butter, milk and eggs:






Pour flour mixture and stir just until blended.



Although the recipe says to add chocolate chips with the dry mixture, I add them at the end. This may result in me over-mixing my batter, but it still tastes good.



Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.



Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops are firm to the touch. Makes 12 muffins.



Because it's important for my muffins to be well-travelled, I took this one on the flight...Unfortunately, the only destination it made it to was R's stomach.

StumbleUpon

Mystiko


Went out for dinner with our neighbours tonight (this post was originally written about two weeks ago). Usually, they want to go to the same Chinese restaurant, but with the sidewalks being covered in snow, I pushed for something nearby.

A new Greek restaurant opened under new ownership. The older restaurant, although decorated in way too much dark velvet and needing a makeover, was my favourite Greek restaurant in the city.

For the most part, Mystiko has nice clean lines. Although some aspects looks like an early-mid 90s style.

Maybe it's just me being snobby...but I think that a restaurant charging $8-10 for appetizers and around 18 for a basic main course should not put prepackaged butter on the table. The bread was definitely not made in-restaurant. I ordered grilled calamari as a starter:



Bleh. Probably the low-light of the meal. The calamari was rubbery and had a spice on it that left a bad taste in my mouth.

The meal came with soup or salad...I opted for salad, which was good.



I ordered chicken souvlaki. Not as good as the old restaurant's, but decent.



Overall, I'd give it maybe a 6.5-7 out of 10...The price was too high for Greek food.

Mystiko on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Baklava




It's tradition isn't it?? It must be tradition somewhere in the world to have Baklava for New Years. Although probably only a modest runner up to the Greeks and the Turks who, in my humble opinion are the gods of this heavenly dessert, this one is pretty darned good and will guarantee you a couple of oooh's and aaaah's when you serve.

16 oz. walnuts (4 cups) finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 16 oz pkg phyllo pastry
1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks unsalted), melted
1 - 12 oz jar honey (1 1/2 cups)

In a large bowl, with fork, mix finely chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

Cut phyllo (very carefully) into 13"x9" rectangles. In greased 13x9 baking dish, place 1 phyllo sheet, brush with some melted margarine or butter.
Repeat with phyllo and margarine or butter to make 5 more layers, overlapping any small strips of phyllo to make rectangles, if necessary.
Note: Keep the unused portion of your phyllo covered with a damp cloth so it doesn't dry out and crack becoming pretty useless.
Over phyllo in baking dish, sprinkle 1 cup of walnut mixture.
Repeat phyllo process and then walnut mix to make 3 more layers (4 layers total). Pleace remaining phyllo on top of last walnut layer and brush with melted margarine or butter. (you need to brush each and every layer of phyllo with the butter)

With sharp knife, cut just halfway through layers in triangle pattern to make 24 servings. Cut lengthwise into 3 strips, cut each strip crosswise into 4 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally into 2 triangles).

Bake in 300 F over 1 hour and 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
In small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat honey until hot but not boiling. Evenly spoon hot honey over hot baklava.
Cool Baklava in dish on wire rack at least 1 hour, cover with foil and let stand at room temperature until serving.
To serve: with sharp knife, finish cutting through layers to make 24 Baklava triangles. StumbleUpon

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pecan Shortbread Chocolate Squares



This falls into the category of "it can't get any easier than this"!
9x13 pan 350F(aka HealthPsych Friendly Recipe) It's a good thing we took pictures because they're officially all gone - gobbled by the chocolate gnomes who reside somewhere in the house.

Base

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sifted icing sugar

2 tblp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter


Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper long enough to extend over the edge to make for easy removal from the pan. Using butter is what makes it taste so good, but I guess you could substitute margarine.

Combine all dry ingredients and then cut butter into the mixture with a pastry blender or fork until it resembles course crumbs. Pat into bottom of pan.


Add a layer of coarsely chopped pecans to cover crust.


Filling

1 cup butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

Combine butter and sugar in small saucepan, cook over medium heat stirring constantly til boiling. Cook 2 minutes longer. Drizzle over the pecan and shortbread layer. (You have to work fast here as the caramel becomes hard to spread) Bake in 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until caramel layer is bubbly and crust is light brown. Remove from oven.


Topping:

1 pkg of chocolate chips (I used Hershey's milk chocolate chips).

Immediately sprinkle a full package of chocolate chips over the top. Spread the chocolate evenly as the chips melt. Cool completely and allow chocolate to set before cutting into bars. This may take several hours or overnight. Do Not cool in fridge.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tips for the Holidays


This time of the year many of us are entertaining and all too often little mishaps happen. It seems fitting to share some very old tried and true tips for not getting stressed out when a "stain" happens. So here you go:

Stain Removal Remedies

- For varnished floor or woodwork, rub with cold tea
- To remove heel marks, try lighter fluid or an eraser
- Use silver polish to remove crayon marks from vinyl tile or lineoleum
- Dust talcum powder into cracks of squeaky wood floors
- Remove polish build-up from furniture with a solution of equal parts of vinegar
and water
- Cover burns with mayonnaise and let it stand awhile, then wipe off with cloth
- White rings on furniture can be removed with a paste of cigarette ashes and butter or a cloth dipped in ammonia or oil over stain or ring
- Make your own furniture polish with 1/3 cup boiled linseed oil, turpentine and
vinegar
- Ballpoint Ink: Apply hairspray to stain - rub with a clean dry cloth
- To restore discoloured aluminum cookware, fill the pot with water, then add a little vinegar and let it boil for 10 minutes
- The best wall, rug and upholstery cleaner around is a mixture of 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup washing soda and a gallon of warm water
- To remove grease spots from wallpaper, make a paste of cornstarch and water. Apply to the spot, let dry and then brush off.
- To clean pewter, rub it with cabbage leaves
- Baby Clothes - for stains - white vinegar and salt or lemon juice and salt, 5 minutes and then launder
- Blood: Cover area with meat tenderizer. Apply cool water to make a paste. Wait 15 to 30 minutes. Sponge with cold water.
- Grease on knits - Club soda works wonders
- To clean silk flowers - place them in a paper bag with 1 cup cornmeal. Shake the bag - good as new StumbleUpon

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Potato Knishes


On a snow day - what's a girl to do???




Make knishes, of course!


4 good size potatoes (I used russet)
2 small or 1 large onion
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
boxed pastry dough (the type that opens into a rectangle)

Boil potatoes.
Grate onion and fry in small amount of olive oil.
Mash potatoes and add fried onion - mix well.

Place puff pastry on lightly floured board and put a row of filling along the long side of the rectangle. You're going to use 2 rows of filling for each rectangle so each row should be the width of about a tablespoon of filling. Gently roll pastry over to the width of about 1 1/2 times the width of the filling. Slice and repeat.
You now have 2 full rolls. Cut into equal size portions - about 6 or 8 per roll. Seal both ends and place each one on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.
Top each knish with egg wash and bake at 350 F until golden brown - approx 30 minutes.

Note: I used 2 packages of puff pastry dough and ended up with about 6 dozen small knishes. These are a wonderful with beef or poultry. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gingerbread People




I love this time of year! Even though I'm Jewish, gingerbread is just one of those annual traditions that fits so well into an "Equal Opportunity Kitchen". Go crazy at the bulk stores (you can see I did), gather friends over for an afternoon, share a bottle of wine or whatever your choice of beverage is and make it into a fun thing to do.



1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp groung nutmeg
Drinking straw or large skewer for making holes (optional)

Method:
In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and egg until well blended. Gradually add sifted flour, banking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg into the molasses mixture and beat until blended. The dough will be sticky.
Divide the dough into 4 balls, cover each ball with waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours. (NOTE: This step is critical - we found out the hard way). When tightly wrapped, this dough will stay in the fridge for a week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the centre of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or leave ungreased and set aside.
On a lightly floured board, roll one of the chilled balls of dough 1/4 inch thick. Lightly dip a cookie cutter in flour (this makes it easier to release the cookie) and press it straight down into the dough. Press the edges of the cutter to make sure it has cut through the dough evenly. Cut cookies close together to avoid rerolling. The excess dough can be saved and rerolled once, but the cookies will be tougher.
With a spatula, gently transfer each cookie to the baking sheets. If a cookie is to be hung, use a drinking straw or large skewer to press a hole through the top. If not frosting the cookies, you may decorate them with raisings or nonmelting candies before baking by gently pressing them into the dough.
Bake until cookies are set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate the cooled cookies with Decorative Icing using a decorating bag (or just get the icing tubes and tips - works just fine). Let the cookies dry on a wire rack until the icing is set - 20-30 minutes. Store in an airtight container, separating successive layers with sheets of wax paper.
Check out this how-to video.

Get creative, make family likenesses, gingerbread heroes - the sky's the limit. I don't think we ever laughed so hard.
Note: Also this really seems fussy - once you get a few people together and a rythym going you'd be surprised how fast this really goes and the results are deeee-licious.


Then we pushed the limit and created a gingerbread train - I'm sure it looks like we had our eyes closed but the fun we had far outweighed the embarassment at the lack of creative genius. Memories last a lifetime - make this one of yours.
P.S. If you have a tree - hang them and make up stories about them - such fun! StumbleUpon

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snowballs


Nothing says Christmas food like Snowballs. They're quick and easy and yummy. They freeze well, but they need some time to defrost to be edible.

Snowballs



1/4 cup margarine
1 cup milk
1 cup nestle quick (square box)
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan until mixed and having reached a slow boil. Add 2-3 cups of graham wafer crumbs (I needed at least 3 cups for the right consistency).



Give the mixture some time to cool down. Then roll it in finely shredded coconut.



Speaking of Equal Opportunity Kitchen...R actually did most of the ball rolling for this recipe. Plus he helped make the yummy coconut birds you see here. You may notice that his snowball (on the left) looks like it ate my model snowball (on the right).



Not that I'm complaining... StumbleUpon

New Cookbook & Beef Stroganoff


I picked up this cookbook (for myself) during my xmas shopping yesterday:



Anything with the word "booze" in the title can't be bad. Plus, it has some great looking recipes and a fair ratio of pictures to recipes. Not to mention recipes that start off by saying "drink half a can of beer" (to use the other half in the recipe).

Each recipe is matched with a alcoholic beverage of some sort. Such as the recipe associated with the picture below for Apricot and Vanilla Chicken Baskets. This recipe is paired with a Mangopolitian.



Or, this recipe for Cuba Libre Back Ribs, paired with Cuba Libra (rum and coke):



I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but the lady at the store had tried three and gave them strong endorsements. Only potential drawback is that average number of ingrediants/recipe. I didn't calculate it, but they're fairly elaborate.
I'll be sure to update on the recipes I try.

Tonight I made Beef Stroganoff for dinner. My version of stroganoff is much different from other's. Maybe more of a poor man's/woman's version.

Beef Stroganoff



- ground beef or turkey (1 pound...actually, I have no idea how much...enough for 2 people)
- cremini mushrooms, sliced
- garlic, crushed
- low-sodium cream of mushroom soup (1 small can)
- onion powder, paprika, pepper, chilli peppers
- sour cream (to taste - I usually add about 2-3 heaping tbsp)
- rotini (or pasta of your choice)

Instructions
- brown and strain ground beef/turkey (note that ground turkey tends to have less flavour than ground beef). Add in mushroom and garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add cream of mushroom soup, and spices. Let cook for a while. Approximately 10 minutes before serving, add sour cream. StumbleUpon

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Braised Short Ribs




3-4 lb beef shortribs
1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash
¼ c olive oil

Cut up 3-4 lb of beef short ribs


Season with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash or other seasoning of choice
Heat olive oil in dutch oven
Sear short ribs, both sides, on medium heat – about 6 minutes per batch. 3-4 lb of ribs will be approximately 3 batches. Remove from dutch oven.


Add onion and cook until onion is turning brown
Return ribs to pot, add garlic (minced or pressed)
Add boiled water to approximately 2/3 volume of the short ribs. When it starts to boil, turn down to simmer and allow to braise for approximately 2 hours.

Variations: You can add carrots and celery or include either ½ cup ketchup or a can of diced tomatoes.

Freezes well – great with noodles or rice. StumbleUpon

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Schnitzel and Sweet Potato Fries


I found an interesting-sounding recipe for sweet potato fries. It was in the back of my mind while I was at the grocery store last weekend, so I picked up these:



They made more fries that I had anticipated and they didn't shrink in the oven the way potatoes often do.



In addition to sprinkling cumin, salt, and olive oil on the sweet potatoes, as the recipe specified, I added spicy paprika (one of my favourite spices) and crushed pepper.

As I've said before, I tend to like my food on the softer side, so I cooked it longer than 15 minutes in the oven at 425 F (probably closer to 20, including 3-4 minutes of broil).

While the fries were cooking, I made my schnitzel. Schnitzel is a food I associate with my mother. I have a distinct memory from around age 10 of getting off of the school bus, running into the house and smelling schnitzel. While there are many variations, including a more scallopini-style thickness, I usually just cut chicken-finger sized pieces for frying. I dip my chicken pieces into egg and then a bread-crumb mixture.



This bread crumb mixture is about half parmesean and half bread crumbs (I was low on bread crumbs). I also added a generous sprinkle of basil, oregano, onion and garlic powder, and pepper. I should have also added spicy paprika.

Another option would be to add a dip in flour before egg...so you use a dry, wet, dry pattern.

Fry the chicken in a hot oil pan on medium-high. Careful, it will burn if left too long. Particularly if you use cheese. Thankfully, another wierd food preference thing of mine is slightly burnt food. I like burnt potatoes, popcorn, cheese and marshmellow. Not all together, of course. My bizarre food combinations only extend to strawberries and full sour dill pickles (no mom, I am not pregnant).



The verdict: sweet potato fries are good. Not as a good as potatoes...but considering the health benefits, definitely a recipe to repeat. Schnitzel - good as always. Note: if working with frozen chicken it tastes best if it defrosts naturally in the fridge. Microwave defrosted schnitzel is distinctly less juicy.

StumbleUpon

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hello Dolly Squares






This is the sugar high from hell but really yummy! Note: Not diabetic friendly.

Pan - 9x13
Oven Temp: 350 F
1/2 cup walnuts, almonds or pecans (I used pecans)
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used the sweetened variety - just in case there isn't enough sugar in it already)
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in 9x13 pan in 350 F oven. Mix in the graham wafer crumbs stirring and forming a crust at the same time. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, raisins, coconut and nuts. Drizzle condensed milk over evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Variation: You can substitute 1 1/2 cups granola for graham wafer crumbs.
StumbleUpon

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why Equal Opportunity Kitchen?




It's difficult to think of a good name for a blog. Often, I am pursuaded to check out a new blog based on the blog title alone. So, I think that the title of your blog is an important consideration. As I mentioned in my first post, I was considering "World's Worst Vegan" because most of my recipes contain some sort of meat and/or dairy product. R and I have even considered (mainly as a joke) a pre-nup where we specify that neither of us can become vegan. I don't have anything against vegan and vegetarian lifestyles and in fact agree with many of the reasons behind these choices (environmental, animal cruelty, use of hormones, etc.). I just like meat and dairy products too much to give them up. I would like to do more to live organically and reduce waste and it's something I'm working on. Here's a good blog if you're interested in doing more to live organically yourself. I think my next step will be to purchase more organic household cleaning items. I promise I won't link to Oprah's items very often (although Giz might), but I was considering this optionfrom Oprah's favourite things list.

Anyway - this post isn't about living organically...it's about the title of our blog. The picture above is of a magnet that I've had on my fridge for the past 5 or so years. R's aunt gave it to us. To me, it's representative of my generation and the lifestyle I want...equal. I love seeing men/fathers taking an active role in taking care of household chores, raising children, etc...and I feel equally strongly about women having the choice to pursue careers of their own. This doesn't mean I feel that women (or men) should not stay home, if this is a feasible preference that works for you and your family.

Although this blog may make it seem like I do all of the cooking, it's not true. I do all of the blogging about cooking. Also, typically, I'm the one cooking the meals I blog about because R wouldn't have the patience to let me take multiple pictures at every step. But be assured, that behind my (hopefully) yummy blog recipes is a slightly disgruntled, but supportive R doing the dishes. Or...acting as my "kitchen bitch" (as he calls it). On other days, we reverse roles and I play the kitchen bitch role.

Case in point. R washing dishes. Do note the subtle hand gesture.

StumbleUpon

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Accidental Post: Latkes


I really wasn't going to do any latkes posts. But, after seeing this one and this one I lost all self control and started blending potatoes. If you look at the links, you'll notice that their latkes look different from the ones below, they're grated whereas mine are blended. Usually I do grate them, but I didn't feel like going to to the effort of grating a bunch of potatoes.

Technically, here's the recipe (with my recipe in parentheses):

4 medium potatoes, unpeeled (I was following a different recipe at first that called for 6 potatoes)
1 egg (because I had 6 potatoes, I used two eggs)
1 onion
1 tsp salt (I only used one tsp and probably could have had more salt)
1/3 cup flour (used 2/3 cup)
1 tsp baking power (used 2 tsp)
cut potatoes and onion
place in processor with eggs.
process really, really well
add remaining ingredients
process just to blend into smooth mixture



fry in hot oil



The potatoes I used were quite large and I ended up with 22 latkes (anyone hungry?).

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