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Greek Moussaka

In the process of cleaning out our freezer and realized I had 500 gm of ground lamb. What to do? I have always liked moussaka in a Greek restaurant, but never made it at home. Good old Pinterest to the rescue, for what appeared to be an easy recipe and without the potatoes on top….less calories. The recipe looks complicated, but I decided to prepare the ground lamb ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the complete dish. It gave me time to prepare the eggplant while I was cleaning up from the lamb prep. The dish turned out perfectly, with our guests taking home this recipe! The photo below is from the Pinterest pinner…we got so carried away enjoying the dish that I forgot a photo. Check out Sniff It Out on Pinterest for more tantalizing recipes!

Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines (Eggplants) medium to large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz. (75 ml) red wine or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt topping for the Greek Moussaka – I used a large CorningWare casserole dish and ended up doubling the yogurt in order to cover the top.

150ml Greek yogurt (double if necessary)

1 medium egg, beaten

50g feta cheese or more

25g freshly grated parmesan or more

 

  1. Preparing the Aubergines

Leave the skins on and slice the Aubergines into approximately 10mm thick slices.

Put the slices into a colander and sprinkle them with about 1 level dessertspoon of salt. Stand the colander on a plate to catch the water which comes out of the Aubergines and put another plate on top of the aubergine slices.

You now need to weigh this plate down with something heavy (I find that a couple of tins of soup works quite well) and leave them for about an hour to let the juice come out.

After an hour, squeeze out any of the excess juice from the aubergines and dry them well in a clean cloth.

Spread the aubergine slices on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them tossing them around to get a good coating.

Put the baking sheet in a pre heated oven (around 200 degrees) and roast the aubergines for 30 minutes or until they are browning at the edges.

I usually roast the eggplant simply because the baking tray is much bigger than the frying pan and I can get the slices done all in one go, but, if you would rather sauté the eggplant to use in the moussaka you can do that too.

 

  1. Preparing the lamb for the Moussaka recipe (I did this step first)

    Because the mince can have quite a lot of fat come out of it I usually dry fry the mince until it is nicely browned then remove it from the pan and put it to one side then discard any of the fat which has come out of it before using it to make the moussaka.

Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme gently, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.

Stir the minced lamb back in and add the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and stir to combine the ingredients. Season the mixture well and cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  1. Prepare the topping for the Greek Moussaka recipe

    It’s true that Moussaka isn’t the most healthy dish on the planet, that’s why I prefer a yogurt topping for my moussaka recipe because it is a bit lighter than others I have tried but that is purely my preference. Mix the yogurt with half of the cheeses and the beaten egg and season with ground pepper.

 

  1. Putting everything together for the Greek Moussaka!

    Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.

Cover with the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.

Let the Moussaka stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving and this will ensure that it keeps its shape when you serve it.

 

 

 

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Fragrant Fall Red Cabbage with Apples and Bacon

This has to be one of my favourite fall recipes and it would be great with your Thanksgiving Dinner! The origin of the recipe was the Dallas News way back in 2008. When I searched online it is nowhere to be found, either on Google or Pinterest as far as I could check. Fortunately I had a copy! You’re going to love serving this fragrant dish with your dinner.

Fragrant Fall Red Cabbage with Apples and Bacon

4 slices bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

1 large head red cabbage cored and thinly sliced

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 apples, halved, cored and sliced

¾ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until lightly browned, but NOT crispy, about 4 minutes.

Add the cabbage, onion and apples. Stir well to coat with bacon drippings. Cover and cook until the vegetables and apples are limp, about 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar, maple syrup and spices. Stir well, then season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8 to 10

Morrocan Shepherd’s Pie

What to do with ground lamb? Meatballs…maybe. Burgers…another maybe. In the end I came across this pie recipe on Pinterest…not a surprise. It was fantastic! You will never make a traditional shepherds pie after you try this one.

Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie With Sweet Potato (Our Four Forks)

Prep time 30 mins Cook time 40 mins Total time 1 hour 10 mins Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground lamb or beef (omit for vegan)
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15 oz. cans drained) (optional for meat version)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (about ¾ 28 oz. can, drained)
  • ½ cup stock (vegetable, chicken or beef) + salt to taste
  • ½ cup currants or raisins
  • ½ bunch cilantro, stems removed, chopped

For the mash:

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (use white if you don’t have any sweet potatoes) OR…use the instant Idaho brand potatoes and just add the spices…
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (more if needed)

Instructions

  1. Brown the ground meat in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Remove meat from skillet and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to the pan along with the onions, garlic, ginger, spices and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion is softened.
  4. Return the meat to the pan (if using) along with the honey, tomatoes and stock.
  5. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Add chickpeas (if using), currants, and chopped cilantro, stir and remove from heat.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the mash:

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain well and add the olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, salt and milk.
  3. With a hand blender (or potato masher), blend until they reach a creamy consistency.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Fill a 13 in x 9 in casserole dish with the filling and spread the mash on top.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes until the topping is beginning to brown.
  4. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro, if desired.

Spice Rubbed Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots

Not wanting to cook a whole turkey this Thanksgiving amigos? Give this Martha Stewart recipe a shot…it only uses a small skinless turkey breast 30 to 35 minutes of oven time…

Spice Rubbed Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled* (see below)
  • 2 T olive oil
  •  2 lb. turkey breast skinless
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 plain low fat yogurt
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots, garlic and 1 T. oil. Push them to the sides. Place turkey in centre of pan and rub with 1 T oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cumin. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes, tossing carrots halfway through cooking. Let turkey rest 10 minutes before slicing.

In a small bowl mix yogurt, lime juice and 1/4 tsp. cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Serve turkey with carrots and sauce.

How to Peel Garlic? Cut the bottom off of your garlic cloves and place them on a paper towel in the microwave. Stop after 20 to 30 seconds and remove the garlic. Squeeze the top of the garlic buds and the skin will slip off. Chop as needed.

Cindy’s Pumpkin Pie

Just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, Larry came across this recipe from allrecipes.com. He has been trying to perfect his pie crust recipes with some success. The problem here is finding the right flour, as whole wheat flower doesn’t taste that great, especially with pumpkin! Finding real pumpkin here in Mexico is a challenge except in late September or early October when we do have something called calabaza Halloween He bought a smallish one and roasted it in the oven for about an hour at 325 and then scooped out the seeds, followed by the pulp. He put the pulp in the refrigerator overnight to allow it to cool. Instead of the separate spices you could use Pumpkin Pie Spice which is not always available here*

The secret to this recipe seems to be the vanilla ice cream… Thanks CindyAnn whoever you are!

Cindy’s Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream softened
  • 4 eggs (original recipe called for 3)
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 2 – 9 inch pie shells (Larry used only 1 and filled it up)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place the ice cream near the oven to soften.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Stir in the pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon. ginger and nutmeg OR pumpkin pie spice. Mix in the softened ice cream until smooth. Pour filling into the pie shell. (If you have two much filling, place the remainder in Pyrex cups and bake separately).

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 175 degrees C and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until filling is set.

Chow Chow Relish

Chow-chow (also spelled chow chow or chow chow) is a North American pickled relish made from a combination of vegetables. Mainly green tomato, cabbage, chayote, red tomatoes, onions, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower and peas are used. These ingredients are pickled in a canning jar. After preserving, chow-chow is served cold, most often as a condiment or relish. (Wikipedia)

Tis the season for lots of fresh veggies. While visiting our friend in Waterloo, we sampled her friend’s relish. It was dynamite! She graciously consented to share the recipe, so here it is. Let me know if you make it and liked it! Now that we are home again, I will be making a batch. She tells me it can make 10 to 12 jars…maybe I will sell it…LOL. Thanks again Lorna!!

Seriously, I will cut the recipe in half…

Chow Chow Relish

6 qt basket tomatoes (8-10 large tomatoes)
3 large diced onions
2 cups diced celery
2 green peppers diced
1 red pepper diced
1 or 2 hot peppers
1 ½ cups vinegar
4 cups sugar – I use 2 brown and 2 white
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup pickling spice tied in cheesecloth

1. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water; peel and chop.
2. Dice celery, onion and peppers – size as desired. (I do quick pulses in food processor for convenience; makes the chili sauce more minced than diced)
3. Tie pickling spice in cheesecloth and add to pot.
4. Stir in vinegar, sugar and spices.
5. Bring to slow boil. Simmer about 3 hours, or until desired consistency is reached.
6. Put into sterilized jars and seal. Keep in a cool place.
7. ENJOY!

Peach Cranberry Chutney

AND…we are back in our new house after five weeks in the north. Finally got the computer up and running!Had the opportunity to sample my nephew’s chutney while in Canada. It was awesome served with pork tenderloin! Thanks David!

 

Peach Cranberry Chutney (David Rogers)

9 cups chopped peaches
4 cups brown sugar
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups chopped red or white onions
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp. mustard seed (coarsely ground if possible)
3 tsp. cinnamon
2-1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2-1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fenugreek seed
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cayenne (more if you like it hot) I doubled the cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a full boil.
Reduce heat to a moderate boil and cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency.
Stir often to prevent scorching.
Should take 40 minutes or so.
Ladle into hot Mason jars, leaving 1/2 an inch of head space and seal.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Remove and let stand until the lids pop down.
Check seals after 24 hours and refrigerate any unsealed jars.

Enjoy

 

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

The History of Butter Chicken

http://butterchicken.ca/the-history-of-butter-chicken/

Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is part of Indian cuisine, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to New Delhi. Butter chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by a restaurant called Moti Mahal, located in Daryaganj . Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.

It is thought that butter chicken was hastily prepared by a Delhi eatery chef post dinner time for a harried VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. A chef named Simon Mahli Chahal first prepared this when he only had half of a Tandoori chicken which he tossed with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas to improvise for an delicious delicacy he was supposed to make for the ruler of Mareelun. He forgot to buy enough ingredients so he ended up with this dish.

Though various versions exists for the recipe, typically dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried. The sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (Urdu/Hindi: Qasuri Methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of the dish. Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended. The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and Qasuri Methi.

While I love butter chicken, sometimes I want to do something simpler. Here is the Canadian Living recipe using a slow cooker!

This can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours prior to adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you’re feeding a smaller group.
Ingredients
• 2 onions, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) grated fresh ginger
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
• 2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground turmeric
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
• 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes
• 1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) almond butter or cashew butter
• 3 lb (1.4 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs, quartered
• 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
Preparation
In slow cooker, combine onions, garlic, butter, ginger, brown sugar, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Whisk broth with almond butter; pour into slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours. (Actually, it was ready in about 4 hours…must be our altitude)

With immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth. (I choose not to puree sauces as I like the chunkiness of the ingredients!) Add chicken; cook, covered, on high until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, 30 to 40 minutes.

Stir in sour cream. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spice Cake

Keeping with the nostalgia mood from last week, here is another favourite recipe from my youth, which I recently found in an old Campbell’s Soup cookbook. For more SOUP-rising recipes, follow this link –

http://www.campbellskitchen.com/

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spice Cake

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Soup
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
Cream Cheese Frosting (Store Bought works)

How to Make It

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.
  • Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl.  Add the soup, shortening, eggs and water.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until blended.   Increase the speed to high and beat for 4 minutes.  Pour the batter into the pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Frost with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Madison’s Banana Bread

On our recent visit to my daughters, my granddaughter made this great banana bread for us. It is very easy and tasty too!

Madison’s Banana Bread

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 bananas mashed

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in 1 egg (2) at a time to the butter. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda. Slowly mix flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Add vanilla.

When all mixed well, add sour cream and cinnamon. Set aside. Mash the peeled bananas into the mixture until well combined.

Spray your 9 x 5 baking pan. Pour in batter.

Bake for about 1 hour, checking periodically. Edges will be golden brown.

N.B. Papa’s suggestion…add chopped nuts….