Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fresh Lake Trout with Roasted Tomatoes & Greens

                                                 - a nice big picture to show off that beautifully seared fish :)

During yet another appointment at the hospital last week, I decided to take a thorough read through the infamous Canadian Food Guide.  That most beautiful rainbow of nutrition. For the most part, I was pleased to see that us Giles' are doing pretty well.  I know that I should still be striving harder to reach those 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (boy, that sure does seem like a lot of fruit and vegetables!) but otherwise, we were doing quite well ... That was, until I got to be FISH section.  Did you know that the Canadian Food Guide recommends that all adults eat a MINIMUM of two servings of fish per week? I have to admit, that for probably a good 50 out of the 52 weeks in a year, that is, well, two serving more than I usually eat.  We will occasionally get some nice salmon steaks and, on pub night, I'll have a few bites of Jerms' fish from his fish n' chips, but that's pretty much it. Right there in that doctor's office, I had a revelation. A big fishy revelation. It was time to start adding more fish to our diet. Realistically, I don't know that I can jump full throttle to eating fish two times per week, but I can start with baby steps.  I am now committed to including at least one fish meal into our weekly menu (woot! woot!)

I don't have to tell you that the trip to the fish aisle in our grocery store was unbelievably foreign to me.  I realized then and there that there are so many different kinds of fish that I have never even tried (or heard of for some of them!).  I, like I assume many of you are too, am scared of fish.  Not in the same way that my fish biologist sister is afraid of those "silent, presumably dead on the bottom of the boat floor until they scare your lunch out of you suddenly flapping and thrashing and carrying on" kind of fish, but of the questionably uber fishy tasting kind of fish. Needless to say, I was treading in to unchartered waters.

I figured that lake trout would be a really safe place to start because I so often hear of folks eating trout right out of the water. This fish really was quite delicious. We cooked it up with some lemon and nice, fresh cracked black pepper and oh boy, was it ever yummy. I decided to try a new recipe for roasting tomatoes too - also very yummy. Most importantly though, I think that I have taken that first, most important step of discovery. Bon appétit!

ps - a very special thank you to dad Giles for his wonderful fish tips. I will try to remember to post the fish that he recommends that aren't too crazily priced and aren't too crazily 'fished' in flavour :)

for the tomatoes:
6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (I cut the most rounded spot at the top to help them sit flatter on the pan)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for one of the baking sheets
1/2 a red onion, chopped lengthwise
pinch sugar
coarse salt and ground pepper

for the fish:
1-3 tablespoons of oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon cut in to wedges
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 lake trout fillets (skins on)

1. Preheat toaster oven to 400. Place tomatoes and onions on a rimmed baking sheet (arrange tomatoes cut side up). Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. You may want to broil for 2-3 minutes at the end. Watch closely.

2. Meanwhile, make your fish. In a large frying pan, heat 1-2 tbs. of olive oil (or more depending on the size of your fish and the amount of oil you want to use). Fry the fish skin down at med-high temperature (you'll be removing the skin later so it does not matter if it gets really dark). Squeeze your lemon juice over the fish as they cook and add the lemons directly to the pan. Season your fish with the pepper. Reduce heat to medium, flip your fish and cook the non-skinned side for 2-3 minutes. Watch it carefully so that it browns up nicely. Fish is done when you can stick a fork in and it starts to flake but still comes out clean and easily. Remove skin from fish before serving (we had to cut ours off with scissors!).

4. Serve fish with your tomatoes and a nice green salad. Make sure you put some additional lemon slices on your plate for freshly squeezing juice as you eat. Fish will probably need some salt to bring out the flavour. Enjoy!

         And here's a close up of those yummy roasted tomatoes. Mmmmm.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tandoori Chicken

This dish was tonight's dinner and oh boy was it ever good. And when I mean good, I mean G O O D.  I don't think that I've had such a good dinner in a long time (that's quite a claim, I know!). Jeremy and I really enjoy Indian food but have never made our own tandoori chicken. This dish is a little scary because you`re cooking your chicken at an insanely high temperature but that is to replicate working in a `tandoor` (a giant, unglazed clay oven). Sadly I didn't have one of those, so my oven had to do the trick. The nice thing about this particular dish is that, for those of us who are trying to keep our food clean and healthy, you use skinless chicken, your yogurt can be low-fat and everything is baked. The nice thing as well about this recipe is that it doesn`t call for any crazy ingredients. Turmeric may be the only spice missing from your cupboard but you shouldn`t have any trouble finding it at the grocery store - it's a beautiful golden yellow colour (ie. almost electric!). As a warning from experience though: be very careful not to get it on your clothing!   This is definitely a recipe that we will be making again. I highly recommend that you give it a try! Bon appétit!

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 bone-in, skinless chicken breast halves (10 to 12 ounces each)

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together 1/2 cup yogurt, garlic, turmeric, ginger, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat.

2. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes.

If you`re interested, here`s a picture of a tandoor:
Ooooo. Doesn`t that naan look good?

Baking Powder Biscuits

I will be the first to admit that I am definitely on a biscuit baking kick. They're so darn good, what can I say? I also find cooking and baking in general to be very therapeutic. There's something very calming about working with your hands, delicious smells, and in the end, something really yummy that you made entirely by yourself. I decided to try these baking powder biscuits because, well, admittedly I ran out of cheese (shame, shame I know).

I have to warn you that these little guys have a ridiculous amount of heavy cream and butter in them that even I couldn't  really justify adding in whole. If you have no concerns about the state of your arteries (or thighs for that matter!) go ahead and splurge, but I for one decided to only use a quarter of the cream that was recommended (substituted the rest with milk). If you are as Martha-y as I am, you will certainly agree that she uses a boat load of the heavy stuff in her cooking that really isn't all that necessary.

Chef`s final thoughts on these biscuits: sooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. They were so incredibly flaky  and went along beautifully with our beef stew. We plan on toasting them in the morning and serving them up with some yummy, homemade strawberry jam. I can`t wait. Bon appétit!

ps - as a final thought, I highly recommend that you check out this slide show on different kinds of homemade biscuits. They have everything from buttermilk to corn meal to sweet potato biscuits. Yum!
pps - jamming to the Temper Trap while baking is also very therapeutic. Mrs. Giles highly recommends this :)

Ingredients: (for 10 biscuits)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing (or 1/2 cup cream + 1 1/2 cups milk ... this worked very well and the biscuits were still DELICIOUS).

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

2. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Add remaining 2 cups flour, and toss to combine.

3. Pour in heavy cream; using a rubber spatula, fold cream into dough, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until dough just comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky.

4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With floured fingers, gently pat dough into a round about 1 inch thick, pressing in any loose bits. Do not overwork the dough. Use a floured 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits as close together as possible. (Use one cut edge as the edge for the next biscuit.)

5. Place biscuits on an unlined, lightly greased baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Generously brush tops of biscuits with cream. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until biscuits are golden and flecked with brown spots, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
(recipe cred to

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Mum's Best Cheese Biscuits

This next post is quite the treat. My mum used to make these cheese biscuits for us all the time as kids and I'm pretty excited to be making them now as an adult. I mean, what else makes you prouder than making your own biscuits? These cheese biscuits go through a couple of generations of Hartley women - they are that good. One recipe should make about 5-6 size medium-large sized cheese biscuits.  In total, these biscuits only take about 20 to 25 min. to make (including preparation and baking time) so they are perfect for lunch or when you're having people over for dinner. I've found that this biscuit recipe also works well if you want to make different variations, say a lemon cranberry, blueberry, ham & cheese, or chive. Be creative and use up your left overs in biscuit form! As you can see from the picture below, I sure do love a good cheese bun. Bon appétit!

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoons of baking powder
3 tablespoon butter
2 cup of grated cheese (save some for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup of water

1. Mix all of your ingredients in a large baking bowl. Again, I highly recommend that you double the cheese and butter. Save a little bit of cheese for sprinkling on top of your biscuits.
2. Flatten your dough out onto a floured surface. Using a 3 inch wide cup or cookie-cutter, cut out your biscuits. Arrange your biscuits on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle some cheese on the top of each of them. Again, one recipe should make about half a dozen biscuits.
3. Bake your biscuits for 12 min. in a 425° oven (or until they are lightly browned on top). Serve hot and enjoy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sweet Water

"Sweet Water" is the name of a Giles drink that was perfected in Venezuela. Having married in to this wonderful family, I have had the privilege of being introduced to this yummy, fresh drink. When the Giles were living in Caracas, they had a oodles and oodles of delicious, very inexpensive fruit at their fingertips and Sweet Water was born.

Now, I'm afraid that the recipe can't exactly be well, exact. Somehow though, that's the beauty of this little drink. Do enjoy. Bon appétit and a special shout out to the Gilesies in Niagara Falls!

Ingredients: oranges, lemons, water, sugar
Directions: squeeze all of the juice from your oranges and lemons in to a pitcher, add some water, add some sugar to your liking. See, I told you there wasn't much of a recipe!

Really Easy Chunky Tomato Sauce

As promised, here is the recipe for the easy chunky tomato sauce that accompanies the Chicken Parmigiana recipe posted earlier this week. I was excited to use some of my mum's canned tomatoes from the garden. This recipe comes from Everyday Food, about 7 years ago. The sauce can be used on pasta or pizza and spooned over vegetables, rice, or fish. You could also add some hot peppers and maybe some beans to it and make it in to a chunky salsa instead. That said, you`ll want to drain some water if you`re going down the salsa way. I had to skim some anyways because I found the sauce a little watery. I don`t know if that was just because of my canned tomatoes, but either way, go ahead and skim some off if need be. Bon appétit!

Ingredients:  (Makes 6 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (3 cups)
3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 can (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or Italian seasoning

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the thyme; simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Parmigiana

Continuing on with the delicious rotisserie chicken menu series, I now introduce to you ... Chicken Parmigiana. From what I understand, this dish is commonly paired with pasta but going with a nice fresh salad is a much healthier substitution. This recipe also calls for breading your chicken but, being a little short of time (and bread!), I  decided to skip that step. Of course, I also didn't have to cook my chicken as I just cut the portions I needed from the breast of my beautiful rotisserie chicken that, incredibly, was just waiting for me in the refrigerator. 

The wonderfully rich and delicious tomato sauce is very easy to make. I highly recommend taking the 20 min. and making your own sauce rather than using a store-bought version. Of course, that is an understandable option if you are short of time. The tomato sauce I made came from the my mom's garden canned tomatoes– it was heavenly.I am including the recipe for this easy, chunky tomato sauce in my next post. In the fall, my mom sent up an army of canned, garden tomatoes. She had an abundance of tomatoes and I was the lucky recipient (go miracle grow!). This Christmas we got some canning equipment of our own and are now very keen to start our own preserves. I do hope that you enjoy this meal. I saved a little bit of my chicken and paired it with a big dose of spinach salad for my lunch the next day. Everybody loves a dinner that just keeps on giving. Bon appétit!
*recipe creds to Everyday Food

3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds total), or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups jarred tomato sauce or Easy Chunky Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh, cut into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices

1. Heat broiler. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a shallow bowl. Season both sides of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dip chicken in the beaten egg, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat both sides.
2. Spread tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 10-by-15-inch baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 4 chicken cutlets in skillet; cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Using a spatula, transfer browned cutlets to baking dish, placing them on top of sauce. Repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.
3. Top each cutlet with a slice of mozzarella. Broil about 4 inches from heat source until sauce is hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tostadas Salsa Verde

This week I decided to do something a little different and picked up a whole cooked chicken from the grocery store (as in, one of those delicious smelling chickens from the rotisserie). I was rather amazed to find out that a whole cooked, bar-b-qued rotisserie chicken costs the same amount as its frozen protégé. While planning my menus for the week, I thought of recipes that would work well with different parts of my beautiful little chicken. Admittedly, this also worked very well for tired Giles' who spent most of their day traveling in the car.

This is a tasty little recipe right out of my brand-new Everyday Food cookbook. This cookbook is actually the first in a series of two of Martha's Every day food magazine compilations. I have the second one but had never had the opportunity to check out the first ... until now - thank you Santa! I know that I have mentioned Poncho Villa restaurant on here before, but once again I am giving them a special shout out for the best tostadas in town. This recipe really is pretty darn tasty though. We switched the salsa Verde for regular salsa as we are not so keen for the green variety. If you have never had a tostada before, you are in for a treat. It is kind of like the Mexican version of the sloppy Joe (kudos to anyone who knows the Mexican name for Joe). In a nutshell you have a toasted, cheesy tortilla shell on the bottom followed by yummy chicken laced with salsa and cumin and then topped with lettuce and sour cream. You can also add, hmmm, I don't know, red onion, avocado, more cheese... be creative! As always ... Bon appétit!
ps - don't you just love my new Amy Butler fabric??? Eeeeeeeee. Can't wait to sew with that!

Serves 4
4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
3 ounces shredded (3/4 cup) pepper Jack cheese
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded Poached Chicken Breasts
1 cup jarred green salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 cup chopped plus 2 tablespoons cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tortillas; bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together chicken, salsa, 1/4 cup cilantro, and cumin. Spoon mixture evenly over tortillas; bake until heated through, about 8 minutes.
3. Top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve immediately, with additional green salsa, if desired.

Here is a little close up to up the yum factor :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicken Tenders with Creamy Honey Mustard

When I was young, whenever we`d go out for dinner I`d always order chicken tenders. Always, always. I just loved`em. For all of my blogger friends out there with little ones, I think that you can relate to this. I can guarantee that your kids will love these crunchy little guys. It`s a nice home-made version of the kind that you can buy at the grocery store, but I feel so much better about knowing what`s in my food and keeping it as clean as possible. This recipe comes along with a yummy honey-mustard sauce. I liked the sauce as is but my family seemed to think that it was a lot better with double the mustard.  Your little guys may not be super keen for high quantities of mustard ... just go with what you and they like. We`ve made these a couple of times now - the 2nd time with corn flakes instead of rice krispies... both were very tasty. Do enjoy and as always, bon appétit!

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups crisp rice cereal
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (tenderloins)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat oven to 475. Place flour in a shallow bowl, and egg in a second one; season both with salt and pepper. Pulse cereal and oil in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a third shallow bowl.
2. Coat chicken: first in flour, shaking off excess; then with egg, letting excess drip off; and finally in cereal mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Place on a baking sheet, and bake until light golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, turning over halfway through.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard, and honey; season with salt and pepper. Serve tenders and vegetables with creamy honey mustard on the side.
*photo creds to Zoe`s Café :)
*recipe creds to Everyday Food

Sautéed Chicken in Mustard-Cream Sauce

I`ve noticed that I`ve been adding mostly SWEET recipes lately on the blog. Hmmm. Seems like it might be the holidays or something! I guess that that`s not all bad. But here`s a more savoury dish that it sure to please :)

I think that any recipe that calls for heavy cream has to be good. Just has to. And when you get to add some white wine to it. Oh boy. Yum, yum, yum. Preparing this dish made me feel like I was cooking at the Cordon Bleu. Sadly the picture leaves a little to be desired, but believe me, the recipe itself was delicious.  I decided to pair the chicken with some super-good-for-you asparagus (covered in more cream sauce of course!) with some toasted slivered almonds on top.  Bon appétit! 

 Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)

1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate; keep warm.
2. Pour wine into hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream, mustard, and tarragon. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

3. Pour any accumulated chicken juices into sauce. Right before serving, drizzle cream sauce over chicken.