St. George’s Day

Last year for St. George’s Day, fat from a failed Toad in the Hole recipe (sausages cooking in Yorkshire pudding) shorted the elements in the oven. It took a week of frustration and bad pizza before it was fixed.

Tons of fresh rosemary and red onions for this bad boy.

I was determined to do better justice to the English holiday. And, with the damp, cold weather that we had on April 23rd, a steak and stout pie was the remedy. No possible way to break the stove this time – pastry armour would keep everything in place.

Jamie Oliver’s Steak and Stout Pie

Substitutions made in the recipe were a few, mainly out of availability. I used  a local English-style dark ale for the gravy, because I wanted to give it a Canadian twist. I couldn’t source the cheese (used medium cheddar deli-style), some of the fresh herbs (dried herbs to the rescue), and the particular cut of meat requested (but that was okay, because roasts were on sale).

Indeed, it was a dark and stormy St. George’s night. 

Cooking down the onions and herbs in butter and oil, until they were nice and golden.

Adding the meat and mushrooms and gravy fixings to cook down for the long haul. (Yes, I hate mushrooms, but Ben doesn’t and they were big enough to pick out.)

All ready to be put in a pie!

It was REALLY good – that night and as leftovers for a couple of days’ lunches.

The finished pie and some beverages

Dark n’ Stormy Steak Pie

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Beef Korma

The first time I had Indian food, I was visiting friends at university in Waterloo. Near the campus there was this strip mall curry house, and once I got my hands on some butter chicken, I was hooked. I can’t believe that I spent 19 years sans curry. Then again, I was a picky eater growing up (understatement) and likely would not have welcomed a plate of curry with open arms. (Plus, growing up in the 80s and 90s meant sauces largely came from Campbell’s Soup cans. Or suspended in animation by the miracle of Jell-O.)

Today’s supper did not come from a can – nope, I didn’t even cheat with one of the wide variety of jarred curry sauces (which are getting to be pretty good for quick suppers). But I had a day off and wanted to make homemade curry, going with my favourite: Beef Korma (really, any excuse for cow).

Stewing beef cubes, sitting for a couple hours in plain yogurt, which eventually becomes the cooking sauce.

 

The recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes, but we had a fresh variety pack from a previous supper.

I deviated from the recipe in two ways:

  • Using a red vs. a green pepper (as I’m more partial to them, and figured the sweetness would help balance the spice)
  • Using fresh vs. canned tomatoes (bye, sodium city)

Overall, we were pretty happy with the flavours and the quantity – enough for supper and leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I wish it was a bit creamier (like I’ve had at restaurants), but maybe adding some more plain yogurt at the end would fix that.

Beef Korma and jasmine rice

Beef Korma and jasmine rice

A Few Words on Butter Horn Rolls

Because I wanted to feel like a fancy-pants for our penultimate Easter supper, I made these little fellas from the America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) Family Baking Book. Even typing or saying them sounds fancy. I even affect a slight British accent when I say it, although none of my relatives across the pond made them in my memory or presented them alongside a turkey dinner.

Anyhow.

Easy to assemble, all was well until the tray cooking on the lower rack burned their bottoms. (Which I promptly took care of by ripping off the tops and eating.)

Neighbours

I have two great neighbours right now.

Aside from being nice to talk with, they’ve been awesome possums every winter. On one side, we have a couple in possession of a plow-equipped ATV; the other, a man with a snowblower. Without asking, one of them will always help clear our driveway (and this winter, it was even more appreciated). Heck, one night, I went to bed and saw the snowblower neighbour clearing out his driveway during one of the many storms that we got buried in a foot of snow overnight. Figured he was getting his car out for a night shift, but he wasn’t – and he stayed up until midnight to clear ours for the following work day.

So, they rock. And as we get ready to move, we wanted to say thank you for being awesome neighbours. Not sure how best to do this, I made Easter cupcakes for the long weekend, using the frosting recipe and technique from this post, and the chocolate cake recipe from this one (but baking for about 13-15 minutes). And the boxes are super neat – only $2.00 each from Bulk Barn!

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Ready for delivery tomorrow after supper!

la cuisine, pt. 1 (ideas)

After many months, we finally sold Ben’s house, and found “our” house. Having moved about 12-13 times in the last 15 years, saying that I’m excited is a rather gross understatement. I know some people who love setting up shop again and again – I am not one of them. Love love love travelling – HATE moving. Each move has been purely out of necessity rather than want, so to finally have something that we can call ours and make it a home, is awesome.

It’ll be full throttle once we take possession in a few weeks, and while we’ll be painting the whole house in general, we’re going to focus mainly on four rooms to start: the 3 kids’ bedrooms, and the kitchen. I wanted to focus on the kitchen, as it’s such a focal point. Maybe it’s the Maritime kitchen party in us, but the kitchen is so much more than cooking – it’s entertaining and sharing meals. And with the layout being fairly open, it will be the focus from the adjacent dining and living rooms.

There’s won’t be a lot of food posts from my own hands in the next few weeks, but I will share the kitchen journey. Here’s two photos I took with my phone of the “blank canvas”:

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In terms of design style that I like in general, I think it’s an eclectic, warm space – lots of textures, with some cool art work and a laid-back, cozy feeling. A place where people can just walk in and have a cup of tea and feel at home themselves. In my head, this is where we’re going to start:

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Overall, the game plan is to paint the walls the robin’s egg blue (for a great post on matching different paint chips to an actual robin’s egg, check out CobiStyle.) The cupboards are going to get redone with a Cabinet Transformations Kit, going as light as possible to brighten up the space. From there, new lights, hardware (including a pot rack! Whee!) and some neat design things I’ve been coveting on Pinterest, such as framed coffee sacks and a wall-mounted herb garden using pallets and mason jars. For now, we’ll keep the countertops, white tile backsplash, appliances and floor untouched.

The proof, of course, is in the proverbial pudding. (And for an amazing chocolate pudding recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding by the Kitchen Paper.)

Stay tuned.

Jerk

Hello, again. Apologies for the absence. I’ve still been busy cooking, but lots outside the kitchen also going on (I’ll get to that in a new post soon).

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I don’t know what it is about this winter, but it’s the first time that I’ve honestly hated a season. I look for any recipe to make it seem like it isn’t howling with wind or screaming with ice outside. And one particular Sunday two weeks ago, I had a random craving for spicy chicken. After some quick searching in the grocery store, we came home with the fixings for jerk chicken.

Oh, man, the house smelled AMAZING.

Allspice, ginger, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon

It was a really easy recipe to make: Jerk Chicken , though I would do two things differently next time:

  1. Be patient: I wanted the chicken that day, and while the flavours were great, the marinade should sit on the chicken at least overnight, as per the recipe. It would really help the spice get in the chicken and not just slide off.

Ready to sit and think about what it’s done

2. Barbeque it: We baked it in the oven, and then finished in the frying pan. The BBQ at a good temperature would help crisp up the skin and caramelize the sauce onto the chicken. It tended to slide off a bit when we ate it (making for less-than-ideal leftovers).

The finished product, with sour cream mashed and steamed broccoli

Again, definitely a keeper for the upcoming BBQ season – would be deadly with some corn-on-the-cob and a cold one!