Bolognese Sauce

This is a simple and delicious tomato meat sauce for pasta. It’s a staple in my kitchen. I usually make a big batch and freeze it in 1 or 2 cup containers. That way I can use it for a quick meal when I’m short on time or just to mix it up. This recipe isn’t traditional, but it’s tasty none-the-less. You can use leftover wine, or, do what I do; buy a bottle and use half for the sauce and drink the rest! It makes for a relaxing night. This is great comfort food for cold nights.

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  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (or grated)
  • 2 carrots, finely diced (or grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 325 ml dry red wine
  • 2 bottles passata
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large sauce pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it apart and stir it while it cooks. You want the beef to be broken apart into very small bits. Once the beef is cooked add in the celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow any liquid from the vegetables to cook off. Add in the wine and simmer until the liquid is cooked down again. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly thick.

This recipe makes about 8 – 1 cup portions of sauce. It costs roughly 2$ per portion, depending on which wine you choose.

Buttermilk Brussel Sprout Slaw

Yup! A salad made of brussel sprouts. It’s a great way to make them  more approachable. It’s super simple and will chase away any memory you  have of gross overcooked steamed brussels. This slaw has a good crunch and nice tangy flavor. It makes a super healthy and light side dish for your hearty winter meals.

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  • 10 brussel sprouts
  • 2 baby carrots, julienned or grated
  • 1 stalk of celery, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Lemon Garlic Buttermilk Dressing

  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane, or minced
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Trim off the outer leaves of the brussel sprouts. Hold them by the stem end and thinly slice into rounds, top to bottom. Break apart the rounds and mix in carrots, celery, shallot and seeds. Stir the dressing together and dress the salad with desired amount, there will be extra. Season the slaw with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and enjoy. This slaw will benefit from marinating in the dressing. Makes 2 generous servings.

Breakfast Bread

I usually don’t have time to make my own bread. When I do, I like to make this loaf. It’s great for fried egg sandwiches in the morning. It has a crisp and crunchy crust. Oat flour gives it a moist center with rich toothy texture. If you’re more a fan of sweet breakfasts, omit the garlic.

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  • 1 cups oat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil,
  • 1 clove garlic, grated using a microplane
  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water

Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over it. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and form a well in the center. Stir the yeast mixture and pour it into the well. Mix the liquid into the dry and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 8 minutes to make it smooth, elastic and develop the gluten. Add flour if necessary while kneading to achieve a tacky consistency, it should not be wet or sticky. Shape it into a ball and leave on a floured surface, loosely covered with plastic wrap, to rise 45 minutes. Knead 2 minutes, shape into a ball and allow to rise another 45 minutes. Flatten it into a rectangular shape.

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Fold one of the sides in towards the middle.

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Fold the other side over and form a seam by pinching the 2 sides together.

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Gently roll the dough into a nice even shape and place it, seam down, on a parchment or ‘Silpat’ lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife make a few shallow cuts across the top of the loaf.

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Cover and allow to rise another 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 500F.  Place one oven rack at the very bottom and one in the middle. When your bread is ready to bake, fill a metal baking pan with 1/2 inch steaming hot tap water. Remove the plastic wrap and generously brush the bread with water. Place your bread on the middle rack and the tray of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Quickly close the door to keep as much of the heat and steam in as possible. The hot water will create a steamy environment which makes a really nice crispy crust. Bake for 15 minutes then turn the pan and reduce heat to 350F. Bake another 20 minutes, until brown on the bottom. Place it on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Molasses Baked Beans – a nod to my heritage

I’ve been craving these for a couple weeks now. The crazy cold snap that’s taken a hold over Ottawa has given me the motivation to whip up a batch. I need some warmth! They’re not only a comfort food for me, they’re also homey. Molasses baked beans are a traditional food in Acadian Canada, from which my mother’s side of the family stems. I’ve been trying to replicate the flavour of my mom’s baked beans for years. The first attempt wasn’t worth writing home about. I’m now onto version 12 or so and I think I’m getting pretty darn close. She might protest since I don’t use the same ingredients, but, come on mom, ketchup isn’t an ingredient. It belongs on top of hot dogs and hamburger patties. I switched that and a couple other things out for a more “whole foods” oriented recipe. I use a bean pot in this recipe. If you don’t have one, you can use a crock-pot, a large deep casserole dish with a lid, or a covered pot on the stove top.IMG_20140102_213356

Molasses Baked Beans

  • 2 cups dried navy beans
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into small strips
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup fancy molasses
  • 3 c water
  • 1 tbsp salt

Soak the navy beans, uncovered, overnight in plenty of cold water.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a medium sauce pot cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Add in the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the ground ginger and mustard seed and toast 1 minute. Add everything but the beans to the pot and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, strain the soaked beans and place them into a bean pot (4 qt or larger). Once the sauce is simmering pour it over the beans and give them a stir. Cover and bake for 2 hours, stirring halfway through. Remove the lid, stir and bake for another hour, uncovered.

This recipe makes 6 small servings and only costs 5$ to make.

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Favorite winter dishes

Hey folks! Happy New Year! We’re ringing in 2014 with a frigid cold snap here in Ottawa. It’s -25C today with a strong icy wind. This weather has me thinking about classic winter dishes to help warm your bones. I’m soaking some navy beans to make baked beans later today.

Is there a go-to dish you like to make when it’s this cold outside?

Chicken Stock

Every now and then whole chickens go on sale at my favorite grocery store and I always take the opportunity to pick up a couple. It makes buying chicken affordable for me and I get to use the bones to make my own chicken stock. This recipe is mainly meant for use in brothy soups and other hot foods. It has great flavor but is not concentrated enough to set when cooled. It takes some time to make, but it’s worth it. I like to freeze it in 2 cup containers for convenience.

Chicken Stock

  • bones from 2 chickens
  • 6 L cold water
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 5 celery stalks, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 bunch italian parsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme

Place the chicken bones on a parchment lined baking tray and roast them in a 400F oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Once roasted, place the bones in a large stock pot and cover with the water. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat and then reduce to medium. It should only ever be at a gentle simmer, adjust heat as necessary. Let it simmer for an hour. Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer another 2 hours. Strain, separate into small 2 cup containers and cool. Freeze what you will not be using right away.

Makes about 5 L and only costs 4.50.

 

Chicken & Rice Soup

A classic winter comfort food. Warm your bones with this delicious and healthy soup. It’s quick and easy to make. You could also switch the chicken for turkey if you have leftovers from a holiday dinner.

Chicken & Rice Soup

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  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 stalk celery, diced
  • 8 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried summer savory leaves.
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice

Place the rice in a small pot with a pinch of salt and 1 3/4 cups water. bring to a simmer on high heat, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed, then uncover and remove from heat.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook 2 minutes. Add in the chicken breast, stock, thyme, savory and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are done. Add in the rice and serve.

Makes 4 large or 6 small servings.

Using the breast meat from a small frying chicken I got on sale, this recipe only cost $6.30 to make.

 

Related Post – Chicken Stock

 

Caesar Salad

So yesterday I ate pretty much non-stop all day. My family got together for a big holiday feast. I haven’t been very hungry at all today, still full I suppose. Though I’m not hungry I can’t very well fast the entire day, it’s just not healthy. So I decided I’d make something light. I’ve been craving caesar salad for a while, so today is the day! Sadly, I didn’t have any bacon, so it went without. I added shaved fennel for a little extra flavor, texture, and substance. Clearly not the same as bacon, but it’s actually not an uncommon addition to a caesar, and I had it on hand. This recipe makes enough for 1 large salad or 2 small side salads.

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Caesar Salad

  • 6 belgian endive leaves, torn
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, torn
  • a handful of shaved fennel
  • a handful of croutons
  • freshly grated parmesan, to taste
  • ceasar vinaigrette to taste (see previous post for recipe)
  • a generous amount of black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Caesar Vinaigrette

This is a delicious lighter version of the classic creamy salad dressing.

Caesar Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp capers with brine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other mild flavored oil

Place everything but the oil in a blender and puree. Slowly drizzle in the oil with the blender running.

Mushrooms on Toast – quick and easy for breakfast, lunch or dinner

This is a classic British dish. It takes about 10 minutes to whip up and is great any time of day.

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Mushrooms on Toast

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 medium button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup leek, halved and cut into half moons
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • a handful of parsley leaves or other greens
  • 2 slices of toast

In a frying pan, melt the butter and brown the mushrooms over medium high. Add the leeks and saute 1 minute, add in the cream, mustard, thyme and parsley and simmer 30 seconds, until the cream thickens. Season with salt & pepper, spoon everything over your toast and enjoy!

This recipe only cost about $2.25 to make. Inexpensive and delicious.