Sunday, January 23, 2011

Curried Coconut Chicken Soup

First off, this recipe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks and the best slow cooker cookbook I have come across, Art of the Slow Cooker:  80 Exciting New Recipes by Andrew Schloss (p 42).   You can even  find this book on iTunes as an app... great if you are at the market and wondering how much lemongrass you need to pick up!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices (I usually put 2, and cut them on the diagonal)
1/2 red pepper, cut into 1/4-by-1-inch strips (I usually use a whole red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large stalks lemongrass, trimmed and cut into thin slices
1 can (about 14 ounces) coconut milk
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I prefer chunky peanut butter)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (gluten-free of course)
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, such as Sriracha
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat half the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat.  Saute the chicken in 2 batches until it is lightly browned, about 4 minutes per batch, trasfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and bell peppers

and saute until almost tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder and cook for a few seconds, until aromatic.  Add the broth, salt, and lemongrass and heat to boiling.  Pour into the slow cooker, cover, and cook for 3 to 5 hours on high, or 4 to 8 hours on low, until the broth is full-flavoured and the vegetables are all tender.  

Meanwhile, mix the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, and brown sugar to combine.  Pour into the cooked soup and cook on high for 15 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and serve.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Caldeirada com Mariscos

Caldeirada com Mariscos (Fish Stew with Shellfish)

Basically a Caldeirada does not contain shellfish, usually it contains more than one kind of fish--whatever fish was caught by the fishermen.  Here in the prairies, we like to be creative!  Feel free to use whatever kind of fish or seafood you like... just remember to assemble it in a large pot just like you would a lasagna.

1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced white onions
2 1/2 cups potatoes, scrubbed, skins intact, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 cup sweet peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 small littleneck clams or mussels
2 pounds fish cut into 3 inch pieces (halibut, eel, red snapper, salmon--basically your choice)
1/2 pound medium shrimp or scallops or seafood mix
1 teaspoon saffron
1 cup white wine

In a bowl mix tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, sweet peppers, parsley, and crushed red pepper.  Set aside.  In a little bowl or plate mix together the sweet paprika, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Also set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a thick bottomed 10 quart pot.  Add the onion slices forming a thick single layer.  Then add a layer of potatoes, overlapping the slices.  Add 1/3 of the tomato-garlic-sweet pepper mixture followed by a sprinkling of the seasoning.

Add shellfish (clams or mussels) then fish pieces.  Top with 1/3 of the tomato-garlic-sweet pepper mixture followed by a sprinkling of the seasoning.

Add shrimps, scallops, or seafood mix and the remaining tomato-garlic-sweet pepper mixture.  sprinkle saffron, pour in the white wine, cover with a tight fitting lid and place over medium-high heat for about five minutes.  You should hear the wine start to boil.

Quickly reduce to medium-low and simmer gently, without uncovering.  I know, it will be difficult but in 30-45 minutes it will be all worth it.  If you need to keep your fingers busy you can occasionally give the pot a gentle shake back and forth.  Check the fish for doneness and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve in soup bowls with a nice thick slice of Portuguese Water bread or Lorenzo's Triple Fibre bread is a nice alternative too.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day Yummy-ness!

Starting the New Year off right...   


3 lb (1.5 kg) boned loin of pork
olive oil for brushing


2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs
1/2 cup cranberries
4 tbsp apricot, peach, and passionfruit jam
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp chopped fresh lemon thyme 
1 egg, beaten
freshly cracked black pepper
freshly cracked sea salt

Make the stuffed goodness:  melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and cook gently, until just soft but not browned.  

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the jam, bread crumbs, cranberries parsley, and lemon juice.  Mix together, add the beaten egg and season with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.  Leave the stuffing to cool completely.    

Open out the loin of pork and spread the stuffing over the meat.  Roll the pork around the stuffing and tie with fine string.  Place the pork loin in a roasting pan, brush with olive oil and season generously with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.  Cook the pork in a 350 degree F oven for about 2 hours or until the meat thermometer registers 190 degrees F.  

Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and leave it to sit for about 10 minutes so that the juices are sealed into the pork.  

You can use the pan dripping if you like to make a gravy.  Just add 2/3 cup of chicken stock and white wine along with a tablespoon of gluten-free flour.  Whisk together and simmer for about 3 minutes.  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

as New Year's Eve approaches...

As New Year's Eve approaches I've been thinking about what resolutions I would like to make and well...
Seriously, I guess I can come up with a few resolutions... 

1.  Try to be understanding (to right-wing conservatives) I guess they think they are trying to do some good no matter how messed up I think they are.  Okay, the new year hasn't started yet so technically I haven't failed this one.    

2.  Read more... borrow time from reading newspapers and tackle that ever growing pile of I want to read books.

3.  Exercise more... okay that is given since I have to get the knee back in shape post-op.  

4.  Stop drinking Tim Horton's coffee.  Heck, I don't even like it... it is just next door and sometimes it is just nice to get away from work and yeah, I have no idea why I drink bad coffee.  Gotta stop that.  

5.  Hug my parents everyday and let them know how much I love them.  I've gotta make up for those teenage years while we're still together.    

Okay, that's all folks.  Hope you have a great New Year's Eve.  Celebrate safely!    

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Always someone to try something new, I discovered Quinoa at my favourite local gluten-free bakery Lorenzos Specialty Foods.  And shortly thereafter I discovered Red Quinoa at the local Bulk Barn.  It kept popping up everywhere, how could I not try it?

I have to say that Quinoa is a new favourite.  It kind of has a nutty taste to it and it cooks just like rice.  I love it so much that on my next quinoa run I picked up quinoa flour and Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming's Quinoa 365 The Everyday Superfood.  This cookbook rocks!  

And so does their website Quinoa 365 which contains new recipes that are not found in the cookbook.

I love their recipe for Quinoa Pancakes.

I tweaked the recipe by adding about 3 heaping tablespoons of gluten-free all-purpose flour just because I found the pancake mix a wee bit thin.

I also made their Strawberry Banana Muffin recipe using gluten-free flour, and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum and substituting the strawberries for raspberries.  But even if you use the original non-gluten-free recipe you must try this recipe out--the quinoa adds an interesting texture.

Anyway, new favourite food and cookbook that I thought to rave about and share.    

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I made a conscious decision to let my hair go grey.  I just happen to like it.  It is something different from the mundane brown hair colour that I was sporting to fit into my conservative suburban place of employment.

I love the new organic me!  My hair is free of chemicals and other artificial agents.  It feels healthier, and it is less hassle.  No more special shampoos and conditioners to help maintain the artificial colour.  No more spending hours at the hair salon.  Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun colouring my hair when I was in my twenties and even into my thirties.  But I've done that.  Change is good, right?

Not so according to some.  

When I asked my youngest brother what he thought about my new look his response was that I "look like an old hag".  Not that I really care what he thinks, I was just interested because of the reaction I have been getting from others that dare speak their uninvited opinion.  Not that I value his opinion, I just find him rather amusing.    

Is it sexism, agism, or grayism that motivated his observation?

Our hair, in Western culture, has become one of the principal reflections of ourselves that we make to the world.  Or should hair be viewed through the social and cultural settings that we are confined within?

Referring to someone as an old hag contains the tone of a misogynistic attitude when delivered from a male to female figure.  It refers to a woman who has been frightful in view of what is considered aesthetically pleasing within a culture.  Yet there is no cultural equilibrium distinguished between a man or woman exposing gray hair.  Yes, men are often seen as distinguished when they embrace their gray whereas women are viewed as old.

American make-up artist, author, and photographer, Kevyn Aucoin eloquently said "[y]ou can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do your hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction".

I don't think that it is my hair that needs correcting, maybe what needs correcting is perceptions of beauty.    



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conservative attack ads and the Gun Registry Debate

Conservative MP, Shelly Glover sent off an attack ad flyer in the mail trying to promote herself and her government as the only option for keeping Canadians safe.  It reads "our Conservative Government is taking action to get tough on crime and keep Canadian families safe by proposing legislation that will..."

Someone needs to tell Glover and the Conservative Government that "proposing legislation" is the same thing as empty promises.  This is the same government that prorogued government not once, but twice, and in doing so twice killed several crime bills that were going through parliament.  These are the same proposed legislation that are continually being resent through the process...  

Unfortunately, the Conservatives like to talk about crime and keeping Canadian families safe more than they like to actually take any action on the issue.  

I find it hard to believe that Shelly Glover, as she said in a recent news conference, became a Conservative MP so that she can change the laws to make it safer for her when she goes back to work as a police officer.  I don't see any of the proposed legislations outlined in the flyer that would make her position as a police officer any safer than it was before she left the Winnipeg Police Service.  Glover, a former police officer,s is backing the party line against the gun registry while many police chiefs across Canada have come forward in support of the gun registry as a valuable tool that save Canadian lives.  

Excuse me if I find it hard to believe that the Conservatives are serious about keeping Canadian families safe.  

Long gun registration has polarized Canadians on whether or not it violates privacy issues to the cost.  I really can not buy into the cost issue.  If you want to own a gun then I don't see why you should be exempt from the cost of registration of your firearm.  We're all expected to register our vehicles and you don't see anyone in an uproar about that.  Heck, in this province you can't serve alcohol unless you pass a responsible server program.  Get with the program Conservatives and long gun owners... no one is attacking or picking on you.  This is not a rural versus urban issue... it is about expecting everyone to behave like a responsible Canadian.  Suck it up!  You don't see the drivers and servers crying about being a responsible Canadian and doing their small part to keep our country safe.