Monday, November 26, 2007

Chili con Carne y Chocolate


This recipe is a TOTAL variation on a theme ... a little bit Mexican, a little bit Italian, a little bit Indian, either way, you will love it . No ... chili did not originate in Mexico (sorry Enrique) s'posed to have originated in South-western US. And, there is a big debate over whether there should be beans or not. I for one, like the beans so ...... do whatever you want. Also I prefer the chopped and sliced beef over the ground beef but both work well. ........ and just one other thing ...... when you are adding the chocolate .... make sure it's good ..... 85% or so xxxxxx Serving suggestions: a good, green salad (with a light dressing), french bread, tortillas or panini and the best ingredient of all, BEST FRIENDS xxx (P.S. If you do not have all ingredients .... no bother ..... you can change to make unique but you MUST use coffee, chocolate and chili ...... the three Rs)

1 red onion, quartered
1 small carrot, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 T. fresh sage, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 oz. pancetta
8 strips bacon
3 T. olive oil
2 lbs. beef chuck or skirt steak, cut into 1-inch strips (or add 2 lbs ground beef)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. garam masala
16 oz. can plum-tomato purée
1/2 t. cumin1/2 t. fennel seed
1 1/2 T. chili powder
2 cups water
1 small potato, cut into 1/-inch cubes
1 cup brewed coffee
5 cups beef broth
2 cups red or kidney beans
3/4 oz. unsweetened chocolate

For garnish: freshly grated Parmesan, 1 small white onion and 1 avocado, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Place onion, carrot, jalapeño, rosemary, sage, celery, garlic, and pancetta in a processor and chop. Place the bacon on a sheet pan and bake in oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove, dry with paper towels, and set aside. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan with the processed ingredients and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. (1) In a large bowl, season the meat with salt and pepper and the garam masala. Add meat to saucepan and continue cooking for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato, cumin, fennel seed, chili powder, potato, and water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the coffee and 2 cups beef broth and cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously. (2) Add beans and 1 cup broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the remaining broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chocolate and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.(3) Garnish with Parmesan, crumbled bacon, white onion, and avocado.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


1 lb (450 g) cooked chicken, sliced into shreds 1 pint (600ml) coconut milk (you will need to buy two tins)
For the green curry paste:
8 green bird eye chillies (whole) 1 lemon grass stalk, sliced thinly and soaked for 30 minutes in 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 rounded teaspoon kaffir lime peel, pared and thinly shredded 7 thin slices Thai ginger (galangal) 1 heaped teaspoon coriander stalks, chopped ½ level teaspoon roasted ground cumin ½ level teaspoon roasted ground coriander 3 garlic cloves 5 Thai shallots peeled (or normal shallots if not available) 1 level teaspoon shrimp paste
For the finished sauce:
3-4 level dessertspoons Thai fish sauce 1 level teaspoon palm sugar 3 level dessertspoons fresh green peppercorns (or preserved in brine) 7 kaffir lime leaves ½ mild red chilli, de-seeded and cut into hair-like shreds 1 oz (25 g) Thai basil leaves


The curry paste can be made well ahead of time and there's absolutely no work involved if you have a food processor or a liquidiser because all you do is simply pop all the curry paste ingredients in and whiz it to a paste (stopping once or twice to push the mixture back down from the sides on to the blades). In Thailand, of course, all these would be pounded by hand with a pestle and mortar, but food processors do cut out all the hard work.
What you need to end up with is a coarse paste but don't worry if it doesn't look very green – that's because I have cut the chilli content; in Thailand they use about 35! If you want yours to be green, then this is the answer! Your next task is to prepare all the rest of the ingredients.
To make the curry, first place the tins of coconut milk on a work surface, upside down. Then open them and inside you will see the whole thing has separated into thick cream and thin watery milk. Divide these by pouring the milk into one bowl and the cream into another. Next place a wok, without any oil in it, over a very high heat and then as soon as it becomes really hot, add three-quarters of the coconut cream. What you do now is literally fry it, stirring all the time so it doesn't catch. What will happen is it will start to separate, the oil will begin to seep out and it will reduce. Ignore the curdled look – this is normal. You may also like to note that when the cream begins to separate you can actually hear it give off a crackling noise. Next add the curry paste and three-quarters of the coconut milk, which should be added a little at a time, keeping the heat high and letting it reduce down slightly. Stay with it and keep stirring to prevent it sticking. Then add the Thai fish sauce and palm sugar, stir these in and then add the chicken pieces and the peppercorns. Stir again and simmer everything for about 4-5 minutes until the chicken is heated through. Then just before serving, place the lime leaves one on top of the other, roll them up tightly and slice them into very fine shreds. Then add them along with the red chilli and torn basil leaves. Serve with Thai fragrant rice.


Friday, May 04, 2007

OK, OK I know .... a bit OTT ...but you can't overdo a good thing!!

The two following recipes are not for the faint of heart but if you really want to impress at a dinner party use them. To be honest, they are very easy -especially the last one!! ... and soooo very yummy!

Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Tarragon Vinaigrette
1 pound fresh, trimmed asparagus, ¼ cup minced shallots, 3 Tbs. tarragon-flavored white wine vinegar, 4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1¼ tsps. dried), 1 tsp. Dijon mustard. 7 Tbs. hazelnut, walnut or olive oil, 4 cups baby lettuces or inner leaves of curly endive, ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and coarsely chopped.
Steam asparagus till crisp-tender (or boil as above in deep-sided skillet), about 3-5 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water and cool. Drain. Place asparagus on paper towels. Combine shallots, vinegar, tarragon and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the lettuces or endive on a large platter. Arrange the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, then sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serves 4.

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 ½ lbs. slender asparagus, trimmed, 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, Salt & pepper, ¼ cup ( ½ to 1 oz.) Parmesan cheese curls
Place a 10-in. ovenproof frying pan in a 500° oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and swirl oil in pan. With tongs, roll asparagus in oil. Bake asparagus till tender-crisp to bite, 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste. Scatter Parmesan cheese curls on top.

So if you are having a party .... invite me!!

A couple of nibbles (easy peasy) to serve your guests now that the sun is shining, the sap is rising and we're finally out of our winter lair:

Asparagus with Prosciutto (this recipe is with cooked asparagus -as in first para above-)

4 ounces whipped cream cheese, 1/3 teaspoon finely minced garlic, pinch each of salt and pepper, 12 thin slices of prosciutto, cut crosswise into halves, 24 asparagus spears, cut to 4 inches, cooked to crisp-tender

Combine whipped cream cheese with garlic, salt and pepper.
Spread each half slice of prosciutto with some of the cheese mixture and roll around an asparagus spear. Arrange on a baking sheet.Heat in a preheated 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately..24 bundles, 6-8 servings.

Asparagus en croute (the lazy way) ... this recipe calls for cooked asparagus as above

12 slices of good-quality white sandwich bread (Italian, Belgian, etc.), ½ pound Jarlsberg or other Swiss-style cheese, ½ cup Dijon mustard, 12 asparagus spears, cooked till tender-crisp, 4 tablespoons melted butter, approximately

Roll the bread as thin as possible with a rolling pin; trim crusts. You will have pieces of bread about 3-4 inches square.Lay squares out on a work surface and cover them with a damp towel for 10 minutes. Cut the cheese into fingers approximately the size of the asparagus spears. Spread each bread square with mustard. Lay an asparagus spear and a strip of cheese on each bread square and roll up. Place seam side down on a buttered baking sheet.Brush rolls with melted butter. Bake in the upper third of a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.12 rolls, 4-6 servings.

Spring is here .... so it is asparagus, asparagus, asparagus

So many things to enjoy now that Spring is finally here in Canada .... and one of them is fresh asparagus!!!! Yes, we could eat it with our fingers in melted butter as they do in France or use one of the recipes below (my favourites).

Asparagus officinalis
The asparagus is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic.They have been cultivated for more than 2000 years in Southern Europe. The green type is most common but you can also find white asparagus.
Health benefits Asparagus only contain 24 calories per 100 grams and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of folic acid, vitamin A, B and vitamin C. They are also a good source of calcium and fiber. 100 grams provides 146 mg of vitamin B9 which amounts to 1/3 of our recommended daily allowance. Vitamin B9 is particularly important for pregnant women since not enough of it can cause spina bifida in babies.
Asparagus have detoxifying and diuretic effects. Their fibers help us clean out our gastrointestinal tract. They also help the body get rid of the excess water. Asparagus also contains the phytochemical glutathione, which has antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties


For the uninitiated ...... rinse the asparagus under cold running water, bend near the coarse end .... it will naturally snap where the "woody", uneatable area is, cover with cold water and bring to boil for 3 to 5 mins. (fork tender). Lay out on paper towel to drain and follow any of the recipes below. By the way, you can buy expensive asparagus cooking pots, use a steamer (good) or do what I do, lay out in a deep-sided saute (frying) pan (I find that saucepans are not the best).

Stir Fried Asparagus with Ginger and Cashews***
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cleaned and cut into 1 1/2" pieces, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
Heat the oils together in a wok or frying pan. Cook the ginger for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the asparagus and cook for 4 minutes, until barely tender and still bright green. Stir in soy sauce and cashews and continue cooking for 2 more minutes to heat through.
Makes 6 servings *** this recipe is for uncooked asparagus

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It Made Everyone Happy!!

Yes, they're doing it again!! Walking in the Weekend-to -end Breast Cancer event, a two-day 60 kilometre walk which will take place in Montreal on August 24-26, 2007!!
This year they have other friends joining them: Linda, Stephanie and Tania.
So good luck to all of you ..... you do us proud!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year

18 February 2007 is the start of the Chinese Year of the Golden Pig or more formally the year of DingHai

The pig symbolizes prosperity and good fortune

The festival celebrates the earth coming back to life when ploughing and sowing can begin, so food plays an important part. Much of the food consumed for the festival has symbolic meaning.

Enjoy the recipe below ..... it is easier than it looks (or reads)!!!

To Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese Duck Soup
(You could make this with chicken)

For the duck sauce: ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp hoi sin sauce, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 3 tbsp water, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 x 175g/6 oz duck fillets, skin on
For the noodle soup base:1 litre/35fl oz chicken stock, 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 200ml hot water for 20 minutes, 100g/4oz Chinese leaf (or bok choy), shredded, 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 200g/8oz flat udon noodles, cooked, 3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal, 40g/2oz bean sprouts, 1 large handful coriander, roughly chopped, salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/. Place all of the marinade ingredients into a shallow bowl and mix well to coat the duck (or chicken breasts). Marinate for as long as you can - preferably overnight, but anything more than 20 minutes will do.
2. Heat a dry frying pan until just warm. P lace the duck skin-side down and cook for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
3. Turn up the heat, turn over the duck and cook for a further minute until crisp.
4. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and rest for five minutes, before slicing.
6. For the noodle soup, pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the shiitake mushrooms and their soaking liquid, and the Chinese leaf.
7. Add the light soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar and udon noodles to the pan. Bring to the boil.
8. Scatter over the chopped spring onions, bean sprouts and coriander. Season to taste.
9. To serve, ladle some of the noodle soup into a bowl, place the duck breast on top and serve straightaway.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A few ideas when you visit China

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, dubbed the railway on the "roof of the world", is proving to be stiff competition for regional bus companies and it's encouraging a lot more people to go home for the Spring Festival holidays. News from Paul:
I think Apart from Great Wall and Yangtsee river, there are many places that are worth visiting in China. Si`an ,the capital of Shaanxi Province ,is one of the most famous cities in ancient China with a long history. It was the capital city of China for more than 1100 years in 13 different dynasties. Beijing , another historical city in China , is still the capital of since 1421 . Shanghai ,which developed very quickly recently, is the symbol of modern China. Besides , there are also amazing natural beauties in China. One of them is called Jiuzhaigou (Nine-Village Gully) which is a scenic spot tucked away in the depth of mountains at Jiuzhaigou County, a county in the northern part of Sichuan Province. It is 470 kilometres away from Chengdu, the provincial capital, with an elevation of about 2500 metres. The scenic spot actually consists of three major gullies, spread over a total area of 60000 hectares, which formerly was the site of nine stockaded villages of Tibetans. Hence the name Jiuzhaigou. Jiuzhaigou is well-known for its network of alpine lakes, spectacular waterfalls and wonderful vegetation. Yours Paul (Nagasaki) --Posted by 狩人 (Hunter in Japanese) to Walking to Win at 2/27/2006 07:33:51 PM Thanks for your insight Paul .... and hope to hear from you soon. Below is a Chinese Chicken recipe.

A Chinese Chicken

You can use a whole chicken or cut into smaller pieces for this recipe.
For the marinade, combine 1 cup dark soy sauce, 1 tsps rock sugar or brown sugar, 1 tsp five-spice powder, ginger and the chopped scallions. Place the chicken in a large bag and add half the marinade. Reserve the remaining half of the marinade to baste the chicken during cooking. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) turning the bag occasionally (when you are not sleeping) so that all the chicken is coated Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Roast the chicken, basting frequently with the reserved marinade, for another hour or until it is cooked. (To check for doneness, pierce the chicken in the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should run clear. If using a meat thermometer, the temperature should read 170 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh.Let the roasted chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brand-new Sweet William

4 and 1/2 months already .... so this is no longer brand new but a very fresh, brand-new chicken and mango salad to brighten up the winter days:

4 medium chicken breasts
1/2 cup Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing, divided in half (you can use store-bought dressing ..... so much easier!!!
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 red onion, sliced
1 mango, peeled and cubed

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

MARINATE chicken in 1/4 cup dressing (in plastic, sealable bag) for 5 min. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade and plastic bag. Barbecue (or broil in oven) 6 to 7 min. on each side or until cooked through.
TOSS together spinach, onion, mango and avocado. Drizzle with remaining dressing.
DIVIDE salad mixture onto 4 plates, top each with sliced, grilled chicken breast.