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Coq au Vin a.k.a. Photo Fail

1 May

Just a quick post before I get to some homework and scholarship applications…I am still working on sorting out that Epic Fail post, and I guess you can say this was a little bi of an epic fail. You see, this was an absolutely delicious dinner, but I was so eager to eat it that I neglected to take a picture of the final product. So you just have to picture it, or go take a look at Ree’s amazing photos at Pioneer Woman. Other than missing pictures, this dish was perfect and seriously tasty…may have something to do with the fact that everything is cooked in a healthy dose of wine? 😉

Why is bacon so delicious and photogenic? Start with four slices of THICK bacon. The kind you get from the deli, not the wimpy stuff sold shrink-wrapped in the cheese section. Trust me on this one. Cut the bacon into small pieces, and then fry it up.

When it’s starting to get a little crispy, put it in a small bowl and set aside. Leave all that extra bacon fat in the pan, we’ll use it later. Yum!

Now, dice a large onion (Ree used half, but my family loves onions, so I used a whole Walla Walla onion). Then, grab three carrots and wash, peel, and roughly chop them. Basically once they are peeled, take the top off, and the cut them lengthwise into quarters, and then roughly chop these. I added celery to mine for added veggie power, and I just chopped those up into small pieces as well.

These looks like a ton, but remember, everything cooks down to practically nothing, so you want a lot to be able to still taste them.

I used chicken thighs from the deli, but you can used anything you have already: chicken breasts, a whole chicken cut up, or even drumsticks. I forgot to trim off the excess fat on these before I salted and peppered them, so I had to trim them, and then re-season them. See, this is almost an epic fail! 🙂

I used 6 thighs, so I cooked them in two batches. I mixed olive oil in the pan with the bacon fat to cook them, until they were browned on the outside. The insides cook in the oven, so don’t overcook them!

The chicken should look like this when you take it out of the pan. Put it into a baking dish and set aside while you do the next batch.

When both batches are done, layer them in your baking dish and sprinkle on the bacon.

In the same pan (remove some of the oil/fat if there is too much) cook the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Remove them with a slotted spoon to drain off any excess oil and sprinkle on the chicken and bacon

Turn the heat down and add 2 cups of red wine to the pan using a spoon to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to dislodge any browned bits of deliciousness. Let the wine simmer for a few minutes as you stir it, and then pour straight on to the chicken.

This is the last picture I took of the chicken and veggies unfortunately. I put on the glass lid, stuck it in the oven for an hour and a half.

I then cooked up a package of egg noodles and then promptly forgot my camera even existed. Basically what happened was I put noodles in big, deep bowls, and then placed the chicken on top and spooned extra sauce and veggies on top. My parents and I then consumed the delicious food, leaving no leftovers. It was that good.

You seriously need to try it, and also go look at Ree’s pictures at her blog to see how amazing the final product is!

You’ll notice in her recipe she uses mushrooms which is traditionally how you make coq au vin, but neither my mum nor I like mushrooms. I also only used one clove of garlic with the veggies but again, that’s a personal taste thing.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/08/coq-au-vin/

The Pioneer Woman’s Coq au Vin (with some changes)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices Bacon, Cut Into Small Pieces
  • 6 chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 Carrots, Washed, Peeled, And Roughly Chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 cups Burgundy Wine
  • 1/2 pound Pasta (egg Noodles Or Fettucini)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions

Saute bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium low heat until fat is rendered. Remove bacon from the skillet and set aside. Increase heat to medium.

Salt fat site of chicken pieces, then place chicken, fat side down, in skillet and cook in bacon grease until both sides are nice and golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside in a 2-quart baking dish, skin side up.

Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic in bacon grease until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove from grease with slotted spoon and set aside.

Layer the bacon pieces and vegetable mixture in pan with chicken.

Drain grease from the large skillet, then place over medium heat. Pour in 2 cups Burgundy wine, using a wire whisk to scrape loose all the burned/brown bits. Lightly salt liquid and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.

Cook pasta until al dente and drain.

Serve chicken in a pasta bowl with noodles spooning juice from baking dish over the top of everything.

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Craving Chipotle…

15 Mar

A few weekends ago I spent most of the day downtown with one of my best friends which was really fun. We ended up going through vintage stores, a store selling tools to make beautiful terrariums, and stopped for lunch at The Grilled Cheese Grill’s new location. I had been dying to go to it ever since I had found out that instead of a school bus, they had converted a double-decker bus into seating. Ever since I first went there I have been craving their amazing tomato soup. I don’t know how to describe it, but I’m dying for the recipe. I had a regular “Kindergartener” (cheddar on white bread) with a cup of soup.

Camille had a vegan “Liam” ( marinated tofu, vegan cheese, artichoke hearts, and red onion on Sourdough).

Next time I go I really want to try one of their sweet grilled cheeses like “the Jennie Lou” (bacon and havarti on grilled maple bread). Anyone want to go on a grilled cheese date? 🙂

The tables are decorated with people’s’ school photos. This was one of my favourites! 🙂

We ended up passing The Waffle Window which I had always wanted to try, so I took the opportunity to indulge my sweet tooth by having a giant Belgian waffle topped with fresh bananas, hot fudge, nutella, and whipped cream. Needless to say I was on a sugar high afterwards!

It was divine. In fact, I tried to recreate it with Eggo waffles the next day but It wasn’t the same. I did however make a batch of Belgian waffles and made them into sandwiches with whipped cream, Nutella, and fresh strawberries this past Sunday. They were great, but definitely not as perfect as The Waffle Window’s!

Other than grilled cheese, tomato soup, and crazy waffles I tend to go through cravings. The one thing that I crave whenever somebody mentions it though, is Chipotle. It seems like I can’t go through a day without someone mentioning it at school which is extremely annoying especially when all you have for lunch is a brown bagged lunch. So, yesterday I decided that I wasn’t going to get the real thing any time soon so I decided to recreate it myself.

I bought groceries on Sunday and all I needed was some cilantro, tortilla chips, black beans, and fresh chicken breast. All the ingredients I already had in my pantry and fridge. Now, I’m not a big fan of condiments so I never get guacamole, salsa, or sour cream. This may be why it was so simple for me to put my usual order together.

I had pieces of chicken in the fridge leftover from my homemade chicken noodle soup on Saturday. I wrapped my portion in a piece of foil and chucked it in the oven. Next I got the Cilantro ready.

I love cilantro especially in rice and as a topping on barbecue chicken pizza. Delish! I also chopped up some lettuce and got out a handful of grated mozzarella ready to add to the meal.

I cooked some rice and added in the cilantro just before I was ready to put it in my bowl.

To top it off I added black beans that I reheated on the stove top, lettuce, my hot chicken, and mozzarella.

I even had it with tortilla chips that had specks of lime on them. See? They were nothing compared to homemade, but I wasn’t about to make my own! Overall it was a delicious meal and a great substitute for Chipotle, but it will never compare to the real thing.

In the next few days I’ll do a post about a couple of cooking disasters I’ve produced over the past few days. Hopefully I can get out of my rut, and back to some delicious creations again! 🙂

Double the Pleasure

27 Feb

You know what I love? Late Arrival. I love it because I usually wake up without an alarm somewhere between 7-8am leaving me plenty of time to get ready and enjoy the morning. I especially love it because fo the first time ever, I got to bake before I went to school last Friday. I decided that I would get up at 7am, get ready and have an hour to bake in my sun-filled kitchen. It was nice and peaceful to be able to start my morning off by baking a batch of scones and then eating one still warm from the oven as we drove past piles of snow on the way to school. It was also nice to be able to take pictures of the final product in the bright, natural light as opposed to the dim flourescent lighting that I usually have at night. Overall, it was an experience that I’ll no doubt try to recreate again this year.

The scones I made were from this recipe from Joy The Baker a great blog I just discovered.

http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2011/01/orange-and-dark-chocolate-buttermilk-scones/

Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones

makes four large or six small scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest (I just used the zest of a whole orange which was about this much)

2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used semisweet)

 

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together.    In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 4 large or 6 small  squares.     Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

 

I used a scone pan (I’m so English, I know) instead of a baking sheet, that’s why mine are triangles. Also, since I didn’t know how rushed I’d be I only took pictures of the final product:

They were a great texture just make sure not to handle the dough too much, otherwise they’ll be rock hard. Next time I might add in a teaspoon of vanilla or replace the sugar with vanilla sugar. I would also double the dough since it really did only make 4 regular sized scones or, 8 small ones in my case. These scones were perfectly sweet and sophisticated like scones always are.

This morning (being a Sunday) I decided to make something a little more savory and a little more fun. If you’ve every heard of Voodoo Doughnuts you have heard of the famous Bacon Maple Bars. If you have been there and tried one, you know how genius the combination is. Now I didn’t exactly feel like making doughnuts, though I am contemplating doing it in the near future especially as I just discovered we have a pan for baking doughnuts instead of frying them… Anyway, I made bacon maple pancakes! 🙂

Since I’m still pretty sick, I didn’t bother making pancake batter from scratch and just used a cup of Snoqualmie Falls Lodge Pancake and Waffle mix with 3/4 cup of milk (not water!), a dash of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla. The cinnamon and vanilla really make it taste like it’s been made from scratch, so don’t skip it if you do try them.

I took two strips of  bacon that had been cooked and chopped them up relatively finely.

I heated up my pan with a little olive oil and started pouring. I worked with two pancakes at a time, sprinkling bacon on the tops of them as they were starting to bubble.

Then, I gently flipped them…

As you’ll see at the end I like my pancakes a little more brown, don’t judge me!

They look so lovely from the underside with all that bacon peeking through!

I then stacked them on a plate, drizzled with some maple syrup and leftover bacon bits. Let’s just say that I was a very happy person this morning and I’m definitely making these again.

I want to know what strange food combinations you like? Many people think maple bars and bacon is weird, french fries and chocolate milkshakes or salted caramels. Do you eat something that may seem strange, or do you know someone with a strange eating habit? I’d love to know in the comments below! 🙂

 

Deep Fried

23 Feb

So I have a good reason for not posting for over a week: strep throat. I’ve been absolutely exhausted and miserable so I’ve been eating soup from a can, pistachio Haagen Daz (I’m obsessed), and strawberry popsicles. Over the past few days my mum did make a big pot of french onion soup which was a lifesaver especially after being out in the freezing cold! Last night I made a quick alfredo sauce from scratch, but of course I didn’t take pictures of either…

Enough of my excuses. For dinner tonight my mum and I made crispy green beans. They are absolutely delicious, and sooooo bad for you. Oh well, everything in moderation right? Especially when you have a HUGE bag of green beans from Costco that need to be used up, and you’re sick of plain steamed green beans. Also, don’t make a face when I say green beans! Even if you hate them, you’ll probably love them like this! If you aren’t ready to be adventurous, then you could easily do this with onion rings or onion strings.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, or as needed
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used panko breadcrumbs)
  • seasoning of choice (I used fresh cracked pepper and Mrs. Dash garlic seasoning)
  • enough oil to fill a skillet
  • green beans

First, top and tail the green beans…in other words, snap of the ends. then rinse them under the tap to clean off any dirt.

Then stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grab a small handful of green beans at a time and coat them in the flour mixture. Set them aside in a small bowl.

Whisk together the milk and egg and add to the flour mixture until combined. At this point you’ll want to season with pepper or other seasoning. If you have a penchant for spicy food, add some tabasco to the mix. Pour in the green beans and toss until coated.

Pour some breadcrumbs on to a plate or into a bowl. I use panko breadcrumbs because they seem to be the lightest and biggest flakes unlike regular boxed breadcrumbs which are tiny and the size of couscous.

 

Take the green beans and cover in breadcrumbs. place each one on a wire rack or paper towel.

Once they are all done, begin to heat your oil in a deep pan or skillet. One it’s heated (drop in a breadcrumb to test it out) drop in the green beans one by one to make sure they don’t stick together. We ended up doing it in two batches and putting the first batch in the oven to keep warm while the second was cooking. Cook them for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. You’ll probably want to transfer them to a bowl filled with paper towels to get rid of any excess oil.

Eat these with a big green salad or, you know, fried chicken or a big juicy burger. Whatever you do, don’t blame me if you become addicted!

On another note, people seem to be really interested about learning basic recipes/cooking techniques for college/life in general. Hopefully in the next week or so I’ll start showing you how to make meals on a college student’s budget, how to save money on groceries, and maybe how to make ramen taste decent? (But I reckon that’s impossible…) If you have any suggestions for recipes/skills I should cover, leave a comment. 🙂

Using My Noodle

9 Feb

So a while back I went to my favourite restaurant Papa Haydn’s downtown and tried something other than my usual Mixed greens salad and Croque Monsieur. I had the most amazing lamb bolognese, and from there I was obsessed. It took me about a week to get the recipe down, but I’ve been making it quite frequently ever since. Ground lamb isn’t particularly easy to find, so I just use beef while I wait for local stores to begin stocking it. A few weeks ago I decided that if I was making my bolognese from scratch, why not make the pasta from scratch too?

After a quick hunt I found out just how easy pasta dough is to make: it’s just eggs and flour! That was enough to get me interested, and then I remembered I had a pasta machine still in its box in the back of a kitchen cupboard. So, I unwrapped the machine and got to work. You make a well out of flour and put the eggs in the middle. Since I was just making it for my dad and I, I used 2 eggs and 1 cup of flour. The basic ratio is two eggs to one cup of flour, and one egg per person.

Slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs until you have a ball of dough. Turn this out onto a floured surface and begin kneading and working the dough until it becomes smooth like this:

You really need to let the dough rest for a while, so I cut up all my ingredients for the sauce and came back to it afterwards.

I started off with half a red onion and a carrot. I usually use yellow onions, but we had this red one, so I decided to use it or a change. And if you don’t like the idea of the carrot, just know that since it’s grated it is basically untraceable. it adds a subtle flavour, and it a great way to get your veggies. I’d usually cut up some celery too, but I didn’t have any so I had to do without. 😦

Then I cut up some fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, and thyme. I also minced some garlic, but I neglected to take a photo.

Once all of this was done, I returned to my pasta. I separated it into 4 sections just to make it easier on myself. I then put each chunk through the rollers 3 times, decreasing the size each time until I had it as thin as possible. Then I put extra flour on it and ran it through the fettucine rollers. This took a few tries, as the dough kept getting stuck (a problem I still have to deal with) and curling back under itself.  

Once I got some good results though, I started laying the strands out on a rack because I was paranoid that they would stick together. I’m also pretty paranoid about dropping my camera in bowls of batter or sauces, but that’s another thing all together.

Once all my pasta strands were laid out, I got out my dutch oven, and started to heat up some olive oil. One it was nice and hot I dumped in the onions and carrots and cooked them for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I moved the veggies to the edges of the pan and dumped in the ground beef. I cooked it until brown, slowly adding in the onion/carrot mixture until all combined.

I then poured in a can of tomato puree an a can of diced tomatoes. These were the only non-fresh ingredients in the whole dinner, and I have already begun to look through recipes using oven-roasted tomatoes. Something tells me I’ll wait until the farmer’s markets start-up again, so that if I go through all that trouble, I’ll really be able to say I have the freshest, purest ingredients.

I then added in all my fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. If you like it spicy, you could add in some Tabasco or red pepper flakes, but I’m a wimp (as we’ve already established in the last post) so I leave those on their shelves. The good news is, it tastes better the longer it simmers, so you can leave it to cook anywhere from 10-40 minutes. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes since I was in a rush. While the sauce cooks, boil a pot of water with a decent amount of salt in it.

Since the pasta is fresh, it only takes a few minutes to cook. You need to keep testing it to make sure you don’t let it get all mushy. mushy pasta= not good one it’s cooked, drain in and split it into bowls. Layer on the bolognese, and perhaps sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan?

The recipe I started out with was this: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/05/ryans-bolognese-sauce/ but I don’t really pay attention to amounts and I add in whatever I feel like. If you start of with carrots, celery, onions and meat, you’ll have the perfect foundation

I probably won’t be posting as frequently, I was just getting through a bunch of projects I had on my camera. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited to share my vegan chocolate cupcake recipe and my pistachio and white chocolate chip cookies recipe though. 🙂