Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shredded Sweet Potato Pancakes

Seems like recently l've been doing a lot of cooking with sweet potatoes. They're just so darn tasty. Growing up I was only introduced to the mashed variety, which I wasn't really keen for, and have really been enjoying branching out in the sweet potato world. 

That said, these Sweet Potato Pancakes were last night's dinner. I had initially planned to make the little guys with chicken and corn on the cob ... needless to say, after we saw how much the recipe made (a dozen!) we decided we'd gorge ourselves only on the pancakes :) For this recipe, you have to grate the potatoes - which is a lot easier than it sounds. Sweet potatoes are brutal to chop up and I find grating them much, much easier.Gives them a neat consistency too. The recipe I had called for sour cream as a side, but we went for plain yoghurt instead for a slightly healthier alternative. Also, if you wanted a 'sweeter' variety, you could substitute some nutmeg and cinnamon for the onions. If you 1/2'ed them, I think that these would make nice little appetizers. Or, like us, just serve em' up for dinner! Bon Appétit! 

ps - I don't know if this photo does these little guys any justice... they were very, VERY tasty. 

- 1 pound sweet potato, peeled
- 3 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- sour cream or plain yoghurt, for serving (optional)

1. Coarsely grate the sweet potatoes on the large holes of a box grater (or use a food processor fitted with the shredding blade). Transfer to a large bowl; stir in scallions, eggs, flour, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
2. Using a packed 1/4-cup measure per pancake, divide your potato mixture into 12 portions, placing them on a baking sheet. Form each into a firm ball with your hands, then flatten into 3/4" thick cakes.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 of your oil over medium heat until shimmering. Using a metal spatula, carefully place 6 pancakes in the skillet; flatten to about 1/2" thick. 
4. Cook until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. 
5. Transfer your pancakes to a paper towel-lined platter, sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining cakes. Serve hot, with sour cream or yoghurt alongside if desired.

* to keep these pancakes from browning too much, cook them over medium (NOT HIGH) heat, and lower the temperature if they start to darken too quickly. 

Banana-Oat Smoothies

This is me recovering from my latest back surgery... drinking smoothies. Nothing says, feel better soon, like drinking a delicious banana smoothie and catching up on my blogging! I am now up and about and asked Jerms to get the blender out for me so that I could blend away the afternoon. Life gets a little boring when you're moping about all tender-like and why not make a smoothie to make life a little, well, smoother? 

This recipe is from my newest Martha cookbook. I like it because it calls for ingredients that you are likely to have around your house - let's face it, it's not often that I have pomegranate juice and mangoes just kicking around ...

This would be a good breakfast smoothie for on the road, or just for relaxing on the back porch. It's quite good - different, but good. Very oaty. Very banana-y. VERY filling. Bon Appétit mes amis!

Ingredients (makes 2):
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 2 bananas (I chopped mine up and then froze them to make the smoothie a little colder)
- 4 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
- 1 cup of milk

Directions: toss er' all in the blender, puree on high speed until smooth and enjoy! 

Fried Green Tomatoes

Yup, so it seems that I'm pretty antsy to get at my field of green tomatoes that can't seem to redden up fast enough. Last year I dived in to the wonderful world of growing tomatoes, full of ambition, determination, green-thumbed resolve ... only to realize that I'd planted my little guys far too late and that we had a crummy summer. Tomatoes lllllove sun. The summer of 2010 has brought about a new resolve and I think that come mid-September I will have a gorgeous crop of red beauties. Til' then, I am trying to come up with new and exciting ways of eating my green tomatoes. The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, fried green tomatoes. These serve up as a delicious side dish or a nice lunch that are quick and easy (if not a little messy) to make up. If you've never tried them, then you're in for a treat! 

There are a couple of different ways of making fried tomatoes - often recipes will call for a mixture of flour/spices or you can dip your tomatoes in straight up cornmeal. It's up to you! The recipe we made up used only flour and Adobo seasoning. Adobo is a south-american seasoning that you can buy at any Latin American food store or probably at Loblaws too. We put it in everything to give our dishes a bit of a kick. Adobo is very flavourful but not hot. It's a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, Tellicherry black pepper, cumin, salt and powdered mexican oregano. You can also fry up red tomatoes with this recipe but make sure they are not over ripe or they will be mushy. Bon Appétit! 

- Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-1/2" thick
- Salt & Pepper to taste (or Adobo Seasoning if you have some on hand)
- 1/2 cup of flour 
- garden basil 

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices. Salt and pepper them to taste. Dip in your mixture of flour and seasonings and fry in hot oil about 3 minutes or until golden on bottom. Gently turn and fry the other side. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice

If you're in the mood for some 'bowl food' as a most-lovely Ozzie frau-mate of mine used it call it, this yummy dish is for you. Just try to overlook the fact that in my picture, it's served on a plate.  Instead of going out and buying a 'sweet & sour' sauce, why not try making your own? It's surprisingly easy and you'll save yourself a few $ at the checkout (there's my frugalista spirit coming out!). This is an easy recipe to double & then freeze for lunches later on. We made ours with rice, but there are lots of yummy alternatives to change things up a bit like bulgar, which is made from wheat, it has a nutty flavor and can be either cooked or soaked and eaten raw; barley, which has another 'nutty like' flavour and a very chewy consistency; or quinoa, “The Gold of the Incas”, a yummy protein-rich seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture when cooked. Enjoy & Bon Appétit!

- browned chicken
- 1 red pepper, cubed
- 1 onion, large chunks
- 1-2 tbs. olive oil
- wild rice (or couscous, barley, quinoa, bulgar ... etc.)

For the sauce:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbs. corn starch
- 2 cups pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 3 tbs. soy sauce
- 2 tbs. granulated sugar
- 2tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water

1. Start by getting your rice going: we make ours in a saucepan on the stove by covering the rice with an inch or two of water, boiling it down until all the water is gone and then letting it stand, covered, heat off. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes.
2. Brown your chicken, onion and red pepper with a little olive oil. Set aside.

To make your sauce:
1. Mix 2 tbsp. of cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl and set aside, this will need to be re-stirred a little later.
2. Combine all of the other 'sauce' ingredients in your saucepan and heat over med.-high heat, stirring continuously.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Re-stir your cornstarch/water mixture and pour it into the boiling saucepan - continue stirring.
5. Stir while the mixture is boiling until it thickens to a thick syrup consistency ( this may take several minutes)
6. Remove from heat when desired thickness is achieved. Mix in the chicken, onion and pepper and then serve over your grain.

A New Spin on a Sweet Potatemo: Chili-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Ahh the delicious sweet potato. How I love you. And how good you are served up with sugar & chili powder. This is another recipe from Martha's famous Everyday Food magazine... you'll be seeing many more of these delicious little dishes in future posts, I can guarantee it. What I love about this recipe is that a) these little guys only take about 20 minutes to make, b) they're baked, not fried and c) they're a neat way to spice up an old favourite. These potatemoes are frequent flyers in the Giles' household. Hope that you enjoy them too! Bon Appétit! 

- 1 1/2 pounds (2-3 medium) sweet potatoes
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- coarse salt & freshly ground pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges; halve long wedges crosswise.
2. In a plastic bag, toss your potatoes with the olive oil, sugar, chili powder, 1tsp. coarse salt & 1/4 tsp. ground pepper, until well coated.
3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the sweet potato wedges cut sides down.
4. Roast potatoes until browned and tender, only 15-20 minutes. Season with additional salt, if desired, before serving.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer bar-b-qu'ed steaks

Need I say more? I mean, really? A special thank you to the Peacock family for providing these yummy "Peacock Steaks". No, they're not from real peacocks ... they're from the Peacock Family hobby farm close to the Giles' home in Niagara Falls.
Us Giles' are a hibachi charcoal-only family. Many of you will remember the hand-made brick-pile charcoal bar-b-que of 2009. Oh baby. Working with charcoal means that bar-b-queing is a little bit more tricky than turning your bbq to 'on', but oh boy is it ever worth it. We recently procured a charcoal chimney starter which makes lighting the charcoal much easier. We made these yummy steaks with nothing but charcoal and some hickory chips. Served up with some corn on the cob and Diana Sauce... Yummo! Bon Appétit! 

Roasted Tomatoes & Tomatillos

To start... my apologies for seriously neglecting this blog for the past month and a half. I'm going to be better from now on. Promise!

As many of you know, I am a Martha-lover at heart. I think that she's pretty darn amazing. I recently picked up her Everyday Food: Fresh Flavours Fast cookbook. It's fantastic. I love it. I absolutely love it. Not only does it have TONS of exciting, fresh recipes, but it also has PICTURES for all of them. How fantastic is that? Let's face it, if a recipe does not come with a picture, we're much less inclined to try it. Hence the premise of this little bloggidy blog. I also have a subscription to Martha's Everyday Food and think that it's hands down one of the best foodie magazines out there. Highly recommended by Mrs. Giles. This recipe comes out of this new favourite cookbook of mine. Go and get it. You won't be disappointed. It's also a great way to use up lots of those green tomatoes that you have in your garden if you can't find tomatillos at your grocery store. Bon Appétit! 

- 3/4 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, washed and halved (we used fresh green tomatoes from the garden)
- 3/4 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise 
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- red onion, quartered
Coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place tomatillos and tomatoes, cut sides up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with coriander; season with salt & pepper. Toss to combine, then spread in an even layer. We did ours in the toaster oven, they turned out GREAT.
2. Bake until tomatillos and tomatoes are very soft and browned in spots, about 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes. Serve hot, room temperature or chilled.