You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ tag.
I’ve been baking out of control the last few days–clearly I am on holiday, as my kitchen fills up with floury, sugary concoctions. But Christmas dinner is more than just bread and cookies, as much as I’d like to pretend otherwise. I took a break from the flour yesterday to throw together this charming salad.
This salad looks like any other– pretty because of its colourful ingredients, but nothing out of the ordinary. The leaves are bright green, the mandarins glow orange, the red onion offers some purple, the goat cheese matte white, and the whole thing glistens thanks to the dressing. A salad is always welcome on my dinner plate, but especially at a holiday meal, where things tend to get a bit heavy. This one is secretly special, though, thanks to its fantastic dressing, scented with Earl Grey tea to give a hint of bergamot and herbs. Honestly, it looks like any other salad, but it’s not. In fact, after I photographed it, I wolfed it down in the space of a minute and had to go back for another, bigger, bowl immediately. It’s that good. As far as the ingredients go, I used boxed mixed greens, some thinly-sliced red onion , nodded to the citrus notes of the bergamot with supremed fresh mandarins (which offered a welcome mellow sweetness), and finished the whole thing off with some salty goat’s milk feta (I think that blue cheese would also be fantastic with the bergamot dressing).
It’s a great holiday meal salad, something pretty but familiar, with just enough added “special” to make it right at home among all those carefully-laboured-over dishes you’re serving.
Adapted from an ATCO “Blue Flame Kitchen” holiday cookbook. This recipe makes about 1 cup of dressing, which should last 4-5 days in the fridge.
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of pepper
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1. Bring vinegar to a boil over low heat. Remove the vinegar from the heat as soon as it begins to boil and pour it over the tea bags in a small bowl. Cover bowl and allow tea to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing them a little to get the last drops of vinegar out of them. Discard tea bags. (Just a thought: at this point, the vinegar could be bottled in a pretty glass bottle and given as a gift. It’s pretty fancy!)
2. For dressing, combine vinegar, mustard, Herbes de Provence, sugar, salt, and some generous grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk them all together.
3. Add oil in a slow drizzle, whisking constantly to emulsify.
4. To serve, toss with mixed greens and your choice of salad ingredients (see above for some ideas).
For the past two years, good mornings in the SiS household have hinged on two drinks. One is coffee. The other is Hanne’s genius invention: The Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Yeah, you’ve seen it around, but Hanne came up with it first. It might be SiS’s most unoriginal original recipe, but the other PBBS recipes you’ve seen online are all gross.
SiS’s PBBS is more milkshake than globby smoothie. Don’t worry, it’s all illusion. Frozen bananas only seem to turn into ice cream when blended with milk. It’s a healthy drink. Protein from the peanuts and milk. Calcium… Bananas… they’re good, right? One morning I put leftover whipped cream on top, which was awesome. But I digress…
So first, you’ve got your frozen bananas. Buy lots. Peel them, split them in half and freeze. Second, you’d better use real peanut butter. Don’t make this with the sugary pretend stuff. You need to use the creamy, chunky, pain-in-the-ass natural peanut butter that takes some stirring before use. Sucks, but it’s worth it.
TIP: get as big of a jar of real peanut butter as you can so that you don’t have to do this too often. Spatula the PB out into the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough mixing attachment (the curly spike). Once the machine’s done the work for you, spatula the PB back into its jug. Refrigerate it or it’ll separate and you’ll have to mix it again.
So how to? Combine two banana halves, a cup or so of milk, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a dash of vanilla and blend. Don’t overcomplicate your morning by measuring. If you must, the recipe’s below. Experiment with proportions until you get the taste and consistency you like. The only way to mess this up is to use bad milk (guilty) or accidentally blend a loose blender seal into the drink (again, guilty). Otherwise, this drink is idiot proof.
SiS’s Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 frozen ripe banana, halved
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons REAL peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Put stuff in blender and blend.
AND, if you have a blender that blends in the same cup you drink out of, then there’s hardly any mess. Unfortunately, the only product I know that does this is the Magic Bullet. It’s cheap and also built cheap. We’re on our second machine in two years. I had to plug my ears while running the last one, which is why it didn’t make the cut when we moved from Montreal. I hope another company that makes good blenders copies Magic Bullet’s single cup style and I hope that happens before the Tasmanian devil busts out of our appliance. Man dies from Magic Bullet shrapnel?
When we went through customs in Toronto, I dutifully filled out the customs form, checking off the little box that said we were bringing food items into Canada. When we passed the customs officer, he asked me what kind of food we had with us. I started off dutifully, listing “Lemons, dried chiles, some cheese, some vinegars….” (actually three vinegars–sherry, grapefruit, and sugar cane. Cool, huh?). Then the full magnitude of our food purchases hit me and I trailed off in embarrassment. I was sure he’d judge us, so I didn’t mention the chocolates, tapioca pearls, pistachios, dried cherries, dried apricots, Valhrona cocoa powder, dried sweetened hibiscus flowers (!), chile-spiced mangoes… you get the idea.
Anyway, the star of our food haul has got to be these:
Aren’t they lovely? And so free! My very generous and food-loving uncle and aunt have a Meyer lemon tree in their backyard. Every time I say that sentence it gives me little jealousy pangs. Do you know how much a Meyer lemon costs in Montreal? Ahem. Two dollars and fifty cents. For one lemon. If you can even find one in this city, which is rare as these guys don’t transport all that well. Count the lemons in that bag. Do the math. And the ones I can find around here aren’t even fresh. Or big. They’re puny, wizened little things. These lemons are bursting with juice and flavour and scent. Owen and Gabrielle, thank you so much!
To prove we’re putting these lemons to good use, I offer you the following recipe. It’s from Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte,” which I find to be hit-or-miss. I’ve made a few stinkers from the book, but this one’s a definite hit. The peppery arugula and rich crème fraîche are livened up by a hit of herbal meyer lemon tang, and the sauce coats the pasta perfectly.
I suspect the above image isn’t beautiful, but I can’t tell because it just reminds me of the flavour of this pasta, which definitely was beautiful. Here’s the recipe.
MEYER LEMON CREME FRAICHE LINGUINE adapted from “Cooking For Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser
Cooking notes: mise-en-place is very important here. Make sure everything is prepped in advance, as this pasta cools down quickly and thus must be eaten immediately upon preparation. It makes a great first course. I can also imagine it going very well with chicken.
1 pound of linguine
a chunk of Parmesan (to be grated)
2 Meyer lemons
3 large handfuls of arugula, cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 cup crème fraîche*
freshly ground black pepper
Bring water to boil in a large pot. When the water is boiling rapidly, add salt (generously) and then the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, grate a handful of parmesan into a large bowl and zest the two lemons into the bowl. Add the arugula to this bowl as well. Juice one of the lemons and reserve the juice**.
When the pasta is cooked (make sure it’s still al dente), quickly drain it and add it to the serving bowl that’s holding the cheese and lemon zest. Don’t worry about getting the pasta completely dry. It should be slicked with water, as that will help thin out the cheese and the thick crème fraîche to a tossable consistency. Next, add the lemon juice and toss again. Last, add the crème fraîche and continue to toss well, until the sauce is well-distributed, the arugula is wilted, the the cheese is melty. Grind some pepper into all this and toss once more. Serve immediately.
*crème fraîche is expensive! If you want to make your own, at a slightly better price and with the satisfaction of do-it-yourself, here’s a recipe. I confess I’ve never tried it, but it does sound nice and simple.
**Please don’t throw away the other lemon’s juice. If nothing else, you can boil it with water in a one-to-one ratio to make a great simple syrup to add to gin for a nice cocktail– more on this in a later post.
This post is a gift for my brothers and sister, who just moved into a new house. Today is their housewarming party, and I’m all the way across the country. Since I can’t attend, guys, I’m offering you this housewarming gift. Without Mom in your kitchen, I figure you might be eating more chips and soda, starburst candies, and um… raw potatoes (do you still eat raw potatoes?) than before, at least for a little while.
Here’s a recipe that will give you a break from the junk food. Carlo and I make this all the time and we still can’t believe so few ingredients can taste so good. The secret is in the long simmer, where the tomatoes slowly absorb the butter and the flavour of the onions, cooking down into a thick and rich sauce that’s just perfect on pasta with a generous sprinkling of parmesan on top. It’s amazing that just three things can make a sauce that tastes so good and feels so warm and filling. But there you are.
This simplicity is a good thing to remember, I think. You’re all taking care of yourselves now, and that’s a lot. I still sometimes have these panics where I think “my goodness, for the rest of my life I’m going to have to do this myself.” And there’s no way to take a break from life, it’s just going to keep coming at you. That’s why it’s nice to know that it doesn’t always have to be hard to take care of yourself. Pop this in a pot, boil some pasta, and in 45 minutes, sit down together and eat. You can do it! Happy housewarming! I guess maybe I’m going to have to stop calling you “the kids.”
I’m sorry about the not-so-beautiful photo. Trust me, even though it’s not beautiful, it’s delicious.
We got this recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. We’ve adapted it so that its proportions match a large can of tomatoes (796 mL), but that’s about it. You can reduce the amount of butter in the sauce, which I always do. However, it always tastes best when Carlo makes it (he’s not careful with the butter).
TOMATO SAUCE WITH ONION AND BUTTER
1 can plum tomatoes (28 oz/796 mL, either diced or whole)
1/3 cup butter (you can be a little more generous or a little more sparing with this)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut in half
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. pasta (or whatever amount you happen to throw in the pot)
Parmesan cheese for serving
Put the tomatoes, the butter, the onions, and a generous pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Stir it occasionally, and mash the tomatoes up with your spoon. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes (it should be at a light simmer this whole time) or until you start to see the butter and tomatoes separating from each other. When it’s done, taste it and add more salt if you need to. Take the pan off the heat and remove the onions. Serve it over pasta, with parmesan cheese on top.
This is a Rick Bayless recipe from our dog eared copy of Mexican Everyday. The page in question is being held together by green painter’s tape, which is a good indication of how often Hanne and I have used the Chipotle Shrimp recipe. This dish comes together quick, making it a great weeknight meal. Bayless recommends fire-roasted tomatoes. Take his advice if you can track them down. Or better yet, roast your own!
Using two chipotles in this recipe makes for a strong steady burn. Three and you’ll be smacking your lips happily (I’m a sucker/masochist for spice) or manically searching for that ill-advised glass of water (doesn’t work. Soothe your sad gummy tongue on a gob of yogurt, wimp). Don’t even think about using one chipotle.
This dish is also a great reheater. Double up the recipe and you have leftovers for lunch. It’s not a fishy dish, so it won’t stink bomb your work’s microwave. Not that you should really care.
1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water
1 drained 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle chiles (or 3, tough guy)
1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (from the can)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Approx. 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Approx. 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 pound (or so) of shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave the tails on to make this a quick recipe)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
Step 1) Get your rice steaming. Your sauce will be ready by the time it’s done.
2) Blend tomatoes, chipotle chiles and sauce until smooth.
3) Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until golden.
4) Pour in tomato mixture. Be sure the pan isn’t too hot or your white shirt is screwed. Cook for 5 minutes.
5) Add broth, making sure to keep the sauce saucey, not soupy. Salt it.
6) Add the shrimp. When they pink and curl they’re done (about 4 minutes). If your sauce is too thick, add a bit more broth or water, if you used up the broth in step 4. If it gets soupy on you (not sure how, but this happened to me. The frozen shrimp probably released moisture), then remove the shrimp and cook the sauce down.
7) Serve garnished generously with cilantro. I recommend serving this dish on a bed of long grain white rice.
Rick Bayless, the lovable Yogi, is not Mexican. But he’s one of America’s top Mexican chefs and cookbook writers. We visited his restaurant in Chicago a couple years ago. It was really good, but honestly? We’ve gotten better results at home using his recipes. This is either a testament to Bayless as a great cookbook writer or having gone soft like a week old plantain on his kitchen staff. Probably an effective chef should let Yoga be.
Seriously though, if you love Mexican food and need quick recipes for weeknight meals, get this book. Equally seriously, skip the page picturing Bayless on his head, doing Yoga. And uh, don’t eat refried beans before your Yoga class.
We’ve been busy lately. I know, so have you. And it’s no excuse, as much as I’d like it to be. But there are some days (Monday in particular) when I’m pretty sure this all really is just too much. Those days, all I can do is bite my lip, close my eyes, and barrel my way through headfirst. Those are the days that usually end–shamefully– in a frozen pizza. Lately, though, we’ve been eating pierogies (perogies? pyrogies?) instead. They’re still frozen, but I feel slightly more virtuous after making this amazing browned onion sauce for them. We found the original recipe in the October Gourmet’s “Ten-Minute Mains” section. The following is our slightly adapted version. Gourmet’s recipe calls for boiling the pierogies before adding them to the sauce, but we’ve made the whole thing a one-pot meal by cooking the pierogies in the tomato sauce. The pierogies come out slightly chewier this way than when they’re boiled, which to me is a good thing. These pierogies also reheat perfectly, both in the microwave or panfried on the stovetop, so they’re a great lunch leftovers choice.
Pierogies in Browned Onion Tomato Sauce adapted from Gourmet Magazine
2 onions, quartered and sliced thin (the slicing be done in a food processor)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon caraway
1 bay leaf
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. dried dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. frozen pierogies, unthawed
Heat the oil in a large skillet or saucepan. Toss in the caraway seeds and the bay leaf and stir them in the oil for a few seconds. Add the onions to the hot oil and cook them at medium heat until they’re lightly caramel-coloured. This will take you about 15 minutes. Once the onions are caramlized, turn the heat up and cook them a bit more until they’re nice and dark.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, dill, some salt (about 3/4 tsp), and three or four twists of freshly-ground pepper. Bring this sauce to a nice fast boil, and keep it there for a few minutes. Then add the frozen pierogies, tossing them well to coat them with the sauce. Cover them up and cook for 7-10 minutes (or follow the package instructions on your pierogies for more accurate timing), stirring and tossing occasionally to ensure that they’re evenly coated with tomato and onion. When the pierogies are cooked through (they’ll be soft when you poke them with a fork) serve with a generous side of sour cream.
Welcome to the new! motivated! supper in stereo. We’re taking a kick in the posterior from NaBloPoMo, which in actuality will probably just mean a bunch of uninspired posts as I grope for topics to fill a-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month. Think about this. We signed up for a blog in June, and since then we’ve put up nine posts. I am now proposing to our (by now disgusted, alienated and non-existent, which is a feat considering that they’re our friends and family) audience that we will delight and entertain them with thirty posts in the next thirty days. Math’s not my thing, but that’s got to be about a 460 percent increase in posting frequency. And no, please don’t go check my calculations. I told you math’s not my thing.
And! To make the kickoff to our marathon even a little more unlikely, I’m offering you an inappropriate recipe. This is November, right? Time to settle into your armchair with a bowl full of something rich and spicy, time to savour the last days of fall before we all put on our snowpants. Well, I know that exactly what you all don’t want after your delicious beef and butternut squash stew is some refreshing, tangy, summery dessert. But that’s what I’m offering.
But you know, I think I’m going to stop apologizing for unseasonal choices. This lemon frozen yogurt is delicious; while it is refreshing (if refreshing could ever possibly be a bad thing anyway), there’s a bit of creamy richness to it that made me feel okay about curling up with a bowl of it in front of the television this evening. The full flavour of the yogurt (please use the good full-fat kind) is a good contrast to the in-your-face tang of the lemon, and the whole thing is tempered by milk and rounded out by a bunch of sugar. The best part? It only took me a few minutes to get the whole thing thrown together, and everything came straight out of our fridge and cupboards, no preplanning or errand-running necessary.
LEMON FROZEN YOGURT
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
When Grey’s Anatomy goes to commercial break, toss the milk, yogurt and sugar into a food processor or blender. Whirl it all together until the sugar’s dissolved. After you’ve measured everything out, your show’s probably back on. Go watch it. When the next break starts, add the lemon juice, and pulse it through once more. If you can get this all done in the space of one commercial break, great! Your ingredients are probably all still nice and chilled. Pour your mixture into an ice cream machine, and operate it according to manufacturer’s instructions. It will be ready before your show is over.
P.S. Dear probably-non-existent blog audience. I’m sorry if the next month contains pictures of our cats. Thirty days is a lot of recipes. And our cats are cute.
Saturday mornings, I like to play housewife. Instead of telling Carlo “make your own breakfast. You’re a grown man,” I get out of bed and cheerfully mix flour and baking powder together to make a weekend feast. Sometimes it’s muffins, but usually it’s pancakes because they come together so fast and cook quickly enough that my hunger doesn’t overwhelm my good intentions. When the food is ready, we douse our pancakes in maple syrup, sprinkle a little sugar on our lattes, and curl up in armchairs with our plates on our laps. It’s a good way to start a Saturday.
Last time I made these pancakes, I used whole wheat flour. This time I used all-purpose. It’s good both ways, but the whole wheat does make them a bit heavier. They’re very filling because of the oatmeal, which adds a rich creaminess that goes really well with tart grated Granny Smith apples.
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups cooked oatmeal (I use instant oatmeal, but this would be great with rolled oats)
3/4 cup milk
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
Preheat a skillet on medium heat.
Mix together flour, salt and baking soda. Add wet ingredients and mix gently.
Melt a generous pat of butter onto the skillet and pour batter in 1/4-1/2 cup servings onto skillet. Allow to cook until bubbles show on one side, then flip and cook on the other side until both sides are golden. Flip pancakes onto a plate, cover with maple syrup, and relax.
*By the way, can you tell we just bought a new camera? You could if you looked at any of our earlier posts. It’s a Canon Powershot G7, and we loooove it. But now that we have no excuses about image quality, any ugly photos are entirely our own faults. I’d love to hear some food photo tips!*