More Party Food

In a continuation of the party I went to last weekend and catered as well – I am sharing the food that was prepared for 30 people.  First off the party was amazing – my friends Jay and Jonathan live in Cambridge Ontario and have a fabulous historic home on a huge lot so the evening was spent under a pergola on the deck and then on the grounds for a big bonfire as the evening got cooler.  Too much fun was had by all.

Last weekend I posted the stuffed dates and salad (truth be told the salad was for another event but I liked the way it turned out). This week are all of the foods I prepared.  Remember everything was to be finger food style so plates and cutlery were not a necessity.

Here was my thinking behind the choice of dishes I made. I wanted food that could be eaten with fingers (i.e. on skewers) and to cover the basics of salad, main course meat/fish, side dishes and then dessert.

The while I had the above order in mind – we put everything out together as it worked better for people to just come to the table and pick their choices.

The menu and recipes – this is a long list so stay with me on this…

First off salad skewers made with grape tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls and chunks of baby cucumbers. Just before serving I drizzled some balsamic glaze over these skewers.

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Next on the list was smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers with some crushed dried nori (seaweed strips) sprinkled over top.

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Then came Korean grilled beef skewers and the honey mustard chicken skewers.  Below is the recipe for the meat – the Korean Beef is now a new favourite – everyone went nuts over it.

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I did the prep work for the meat the day before and marinated for 24 hours in ziplock bags.

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

So the honey mustard chicken is simple – just mix about a ¼ cup of honey with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 4 tbsp of dijon mustard – adjust to suit your taste.  I also added a few crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper. I used 6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips lengthwise so there was enough to put on a skewer.

Korean Beef Skewers – I got this recipe from Food and Wine magazine but adjusted a bit:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dry white wine – I used the same amount of chicken broth as I didn’t have any white wine handy

2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into thin long slices

1/4-inch-thick slices 16 scallions – I didn’t use these

Vegetable oil, for rubbing

Salt – didn’t add this either as the soy sauce had enough salt

1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, white wine, chopped garlic, toasted sesame oil, and crushed red pepper, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced flank steak and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the steak for at least 4 hours or overnight. 2. Working in batches, grill the steak over high heat (I BBQ’d it) until the slices are richly browned and medium-rare, about 30 seconds per side. Put pieces on a plate and let them cool – then put them on skewers just before serving.

Next was mini turkey meatballs in a sweet chilli sauce – this is my usual baked turkey meatball recipe but just made them smaller and tossed them with a store bought sweet chilli sauce instead of tomato sauce and put some into a cup for dipping as well.

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Next on the menu was my tuna and sweet potato cakes but made mini size and a cup of 1% yogurt for dipping.

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I then thought I needed something else that wasn’t meat and what do people love more than shrimp? Again I had a craving for shrimp and chorizo sausage so that was the next group of skewers.

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These are super simple – I sautéd the sliced chorizo and put aside – next I sautéd the shrimp in some garlic and put them in a dish – then it was just a matter of putting them together on bamboo skewers (they looked better on the shorter skewers than the long ones)

The side dishes were baby stuffed potatoes where you just boil the baby potatoes, then scoop out the centre leaving a bit of potato to hold the shape and then mix crumbled cooked bacon, chives and sour cream with the bits of potato you have scooped out . Once it is all mixed just spoon it back into the potatoes.  This was quite finicky but tasted good in the end so worth while.

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Last of the main course food was grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Simple and easy – just toss the asparagus in olive oil, then grill them (I did them on the BBQ) and then wrap a couple of stalks in a piece of prosciutto and you are done.

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Finally dessert – you saw the dates in my last post (I will put in again just so you see them). I put fresh fruit on skewers so they could be taken away from the table and you got several pieces at one without a mess. Each skewer had a slice of pineapple, a green grape, a strawberry, a purple grape and a raspberry.  You can make these with any fruit you like.

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And there you have it the whole party in food.  What I am not showing is the amazing evening we all had.  Great company, kudos to the hosts and all I can say is “when is the next party”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meatloaf – who would have thought it….

I have never made a meatloaf. I know it’s hard to believe but there it is. I am not even sure why I haven’t made meatloaf before.  It is really pure comfort food and after spending a weekend visiting my friend Victoria in the country and making it there I am doubly amazed that I have never made it.

Meatloaf has to be the fastest, easiest, low cost meal going. Here is how Victoria made it and I have to say it was delicious both for dinner and for sandwiches the next day served cold.  What a staple meal to have in the fridge! Have I mentioned heathly too?

Turkey Meatloaf

1lb. ground turkey

1 chopped onion

A few chopped sundried tomatoes (only because she had them on hand – experiment with whatever is in your fridge)

1 egg beaten

½ cup relish of your choosing including salsa, bbq sauce, apricot jam (we used a sweet and spicy relish from Harry and Davids)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and put mixture into a loaf pan.

Cook at 350 for 1 hour

That’s it!  How simple and it tasted great but the real treat was having it cold the next day in a sandwich (olive chibata buns).

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Another Taco Night with my Neighbours

Spur of the moment decision….. Lets do a taco night tonight!  That was the conversation my neighbour/friend Zannat and I had while picking up some groceries.

I always love the look of the table when we do this because it is full of colour.

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This time Zannat made a yummy main for the taco using ground turkey with vegetables and hoisin.  The flavour was great (so much so that I made a batch of it the next night to have for lunches and dinner when I didn’t feel like cooking).

We had tomatoes, cucumbers, sautéed mushrooms, grated old cheddar and pineapple pieces.  We moved between the hard taco shells, soft tortilla shells and lettuce wraps.  Simple meal, not hard to prepare and fun for all of us. I will admit though that it is not the tidiest meal we have ever had but that was part of the fun :-).

FYI – the ground turkey was browned in a pan with chopped and frozen vegetables, onion, a bit of garlic and just under a ¼ cup of hoisin sauce to 1 lb. of ground turkey. Add a can of lentils, stir and then add the hoisin in small amounts until it is fully mixed and you get the flavour you want.

Lunch the next day with leftovers was ground turkey and lentils with hoisin wraps 😉

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Enjoy!

Xmas Dinner 2013

Xmas dinner 2013 was had on December 24rd with my “adopted” family the McBurney clan which includes Jay and Jonathan, with Meg and Rob and the Matriarch of the family Marg and Bob – plus all the kids…

This year we had it at Jay and Jonathan’s. Jonathan is a fabulous cook so you know the meal will be wonderful when you walk in the door and start smelling the aromas of Xmas cooking.

Jonathan kindly lets me help out cooking a few things as we do love to talk food and cooking ideas. His turkey this year (as every year) was delicious and moist and devoured!

The potato galette which is a specialty of his is out of this world.  He slices the potatoes with a mandolin and layers them in the pinwheel shape you see here. He adds emmental cheese to each layer and finishes with stilton on top.  Lactose intolerance be damned – I dug into those potatoes!

The squash was slow roasted for three hours giving it the sweetest caramelized flavour ever.

I got to make the brussels sprouts which we just par boiled then sautéed with butter and topped with sautéed  crispy chopped  sage leaves and shredded parmesan cheese.

The stuffing, wine but especially the company was outstanding and I have to say when I awoke the next morning I think I was still full of good feelings, food and memories of another great Xmas spent with wonderful people.

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Turkey

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Brussels sprouts

Breaded Chicken with Lemon Sauce

I had a request for this dish as a food order and thought I would make some extra for myself. It is always so good. Now I will preface this blog with a note that this is not the most low calorie meal however it is not crazy but any stretch.  I use good ingredients and I think that makes all the difference.  Below is a shot of the finished product and then the ingredients and direction will follow the picture.  Enjoy – I know I did as did my food clients.

breaded chicken with lemon sauce

Ingredients for breaded chicken: – serves 4

1 dish with whole wheat flour for dredging chicken – I added some chopped lemon rind into this

1 bowl with 8 egg whites (you may need more depending on how much you make)

1 dish with 1/2 seasoned breadcrumbs or panko crumbs and 1/2 with grated parmesan or romano cheese (breading portion)

2 large chicken breasts boneless skinless

Pepper to taste (I use lemon pepper and then added some chopped lemon rind into the flour – you can add it to the breadcrumbs as well or instead of adding to flour)

5 tablespoons canola oil (see how much you need – I use a non stick pan so I don’t use too much oil)

Directions

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise like you are butterflying them but cut right through so you have two pieces per breast. Pound each piece till thinned (as thin as you like).

Heat canola oil in the pan and take a piece of chicken and dredge it in the flour mix, shake it off and coat it in the egg mix, then put it in the breadcrumbs and cheese mixture to coat.  Once the pan is hot, place the chicken in the pan and repeat the process for all the slices of chicken (4 in total if you used two breasts). It only takes a minute or two to brown on one side and cook.  Turn over when golden brown on one side and sear the other side till also golden brown.

I tend to wipe the pan after each group of two pieces so I don’t get burning. Add fresh oil and do up the next two pieces.

Lemon sauce

This is a no brainer – I wipe the pan clean after cooking the chicken and add about 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock (I use low salt). Add 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard and about 1/3 cup of lemon juice or the juice of two lemons. Stir till it starts to boil slightly – turn heat to low and take a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tsp – 2 tsp of corn starch – mix the water and corn starch in the little bowl till it is a milky water and then add to the sauce.  Stir and let simmer till it thickens.  If it is not thickening add a bit more water and corn starch (small bits at a time as it will come together and thicken in a short while).

Dip pieces of the chicken in the sauce and enjoy!

100 Mile Cassoulet Meal in the Country

I spent the other weekend at my friend Victoria’s place in the country.  It was a wonderful weekend full of art shows and country town drives.  We hit the farmers market on Saturday morning to get ingredients for dinner that night, still not totally sure what we were going to make but wanting to be inspired by the local produce.  We decided on a version of a cassoulet.  I had brought up smoked turkey and smoked chicken sausages from my local butcher shop that were already cooked but just needed a bit of grilling to brown them.  It was so delicious!!!!!

We got two meals for us and then another three meals to freeze out of the recipe which when we worked it out came to about $2.50 – $3.00 per serving at the most.  Full of great vegetables and flavours.  (As an aside – I added leftover cooked quinoa with vegetables to a serving I brought home and it was great).

Victoria also made a Caprese style salad on skewers for us – it was so good and so unusual. The secret is to soak the cubes of mozzarella cheese in balsamic vinegar for several minutes or longer before putting on the skewer. The cheese along with fresh basil from the garden and small grape tomatoes from the garden made for a wonder “salad”

Caprese salad sticks

Cassoulet 1

Casoulette 2

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 leek

2 medium carrots sliced

2 celery stalks sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced or chopped

1 can white kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 large red pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes (we used Victorias homemade roasted tomatoes which gave an even smokier flavour)

Pepper to taste

2 large cooked smoked sausages (turkey or chicken) sliced (1/4″ thick max.)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8-10 large mushroom (large pieces)

Pinch of cumin

1-2 tsp of chilli garlic hot sauce – quantity depends on how spicy you like your food)

Parmesan cheese to top it with

Directions:

Sauté onions and leeks. Add all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. When you plate it – add some grated or shredded parmesan cheese to the top and serve with a baguette to absorb any liquid

Serves 6

Grilling in the country

Spent a wonderful Canada Day long weekend in around the Lindsay/Peterborough area at my good friend Victorias place.  It was like a spa for the mind and body.  We had planned on experimenting with cooking up new food ideas so I was very excited.  Some worked really well while others not as much.  I decided to blog even the mediocre in hopes perhaps someone could recommend how to make it better.  Here goes several meals so keep reading after the first:

Brown Rice Paella (not your typical version)

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While this looks really good….it was lacking in intensity of flavour. We didn’t do the typical spicing which is probably why it was lacking in flavour.  Instead we opted to try lime and cilantro to flavour it for a lighter tasting paella.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice (we should have used instant rice but used regular brown rice as it was what we had)

10 large raw peeled shrimp

1 lb of mussels

1 cup of frozen green peas

Juice of 1 lime

1 lemon cut in quarters (to sprinkle over dish)

Fresh coriander

Directions

We marinated the shrimp in some lime juice and coriander first.

Cook the rice in chicken or vegetable broth until just about ready then add the frozen peas, shrimp and then the mussels on top.  Cover and steam for about 5 minutes.  Very quick and easy but the thing that made it taste okay was we added hot sauce to it on our plates.

Please feel free to comment any ideas you think would have improved on the flavour (other than the traditional style).

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Tomato and Feta Salad and Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Turkey burger

tomato and feta salad

This was amazing – We made these burgers in a way I had never made burgers before and low and behold they were awesome!!!!

We did not have any bread crumbs so we used large flake oatmeal instead.  Who would have thought!  Okay every gluten intolerant person probably knows this but we didn’t so it was amazing to learn.

No real need for instructions here as you just combine all ingredients which included the following:

1 lb. ground turkey

1 sweet onion – I caramelized the onion but you can just sauté it.

About 1 cup of large flake oatmeal

Dijon mustard – 3 tbsp

2 cloves of garlic minced

A splash of hoisin sauce

A splash of BBQ sauce

(use any condiments you have in your fridge that you think you might like)

A pinch of black pepper

1 egg

The mixture seemed very wet so we made the patties and put them in the fridge and like magic by the time we went to cook them (about an hour or two later) they had firmed right up! – apparently the oatmeal absorbs moisture (I know all you people that knew this are thinking “Well of course it does” but we really didn’t know – I am not an oatmeal eater so I never use it).

The fun part for us both was grilling on a tiny charcoal grill – after several attempts we got it going and that little sucker really got hot (we kind of charred a couple of the burgers in the process but they still tasted amazing).

Burgers on BBQ

Add to this a roasting pan full of baby carrots from the farmers market fresh that morning, japanese eggplant and asparagus topped with a bit of shredded parmesan cheese and you have a fabulous meal.

Grilled veg

What could be better to add to this meal than a salad of fresh tomatoes with feta cheese and basil from the garden fresh picked and you have the perfect summer meal. (oh yeah I also sautéed some mushrooms to put on top of the burgers…)

Lastly – for lunch Victoria made this yummy Niçoise salad with some fresh tomatoes, baby white potatoes, 2 hard boiled eggs, fresh quick cooked asparagus with a dijon dressing that was absolutely delightful!  So fresh and tasty.

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You now know pretty much everything we ate that  weekend 😉

Pretty darn awesome I have to say!

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

Once again this is a dish created because of a craving.  I was out grocery shopping and came across these fat udon noodles (shanghai style – my favourite).  I was making some chicken that night and thought “stirfry”. I picked up some nice snow peas and had some peppers and mushrooms in the fridge.  Here is this very easy recipe for a quick and delicious meal.

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Ingredients – serves 3-4

• 2 chicken breasts cut into small cubes

• 1 small package of udon noodles

• 2 handfuls of snow peas

• 1 pepper thinly sliced

• 1 cup of sliced mushrooms

• 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with less than 1/4 cup of warm water

• 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce

• 1 tbsp light tamari sauce (or use low sodium soy sauce)

• 3 cloves diced garlic

Directions

Marinate chicken in 1 tbsp of the hoisin sauce for half an hour or less. Saute the chicken until almost fully cooked. Add mushrooms and peppers and continue cooking till mushrooms are almost done. Add snow peas and noodles and the last tbsp of hoisin sauce along with the tamari or soy sauce and sauté until everything is coated and cooked (you may need to add a bit more of the sauces depending on how much of the flavour you want).  Add the corn starch liquid and stir through. Cover the pan and let steam for a few minutes.

When you serve it, a nice touch is adding some toasted sesame seeds or toasted almonds

Turkey Chili

This recipe is adapted from a beef chili recipe I had but since I don’t eat a lot of red meat these days I substitute turkey for many recipes I used to use beef with.
Ingredients
1 lb. ground turkey
2 medium onions chopped
2 clove garlic  minced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (5 ½ oz.) tomato paste
1 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
Tabasco sauce to taste
1 tsp each of paprika, cumin and  brown sugar 
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can chick peas
1 small can corn kernels
1 can black peas (optional – if you like a lot of beans)
Directions
Sauté turkey, onion and garlic. together until turkey looks almost cooked – separate turkey into pieces by stirring so it doesn’t clump. Add all ingredients except the beans and bring to a boil. Add beans and cook another 25 minutes till all heated through.  Serves 4 (at least)
***I also make this in a slow cooker where I sauté the meat, onions and garlic – then throw everything into a slow cooker give it a good stir and cook on low for 4 hours.
Feel free to add or subtract ingredients from this recipe according to your tastes – you can’t really go wrong with chili!

Healthy Baked Meatballs

These are a great go to meal if you don’t feel like cooking. I make a bunch and freeze them for those days. The pics above are made with ground chicken.

1 lb lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
4-6 egg whites (start with 4 and add if you need to for moisture)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup chilli sauce with garlic or sweet chili sauce
1/8 cup dijon mustard
Pepper plus a hint of salt
You can either add italian spices or go a more exotic route and use several pinches of cumin, cardomon, dry mustard, sea salt and paprika.
Mix well but don’t over mix
Saute a large onion till browned and let cool. Add to meat mixture

Form meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes and then flip meatballs and bake another 15-20 minutes. Let cool and serve however you like to eat meatballs.

I make a tomato sauce with sauted onion and garlic and a can of diced tomatoes. Let cook till thick. You can add a can or bottle of ready made sauce at this point too if you want. Add a touch of either sugar, agave or sweetner to take the acidic edge off the sauce. When meatballs are cooked, add to sauce and simmer till ready to serve. Serve alone or over pasta. To cut down on carbs I throw in a can of white kidney beans and serve without the pasta.
Can be frozen or refridgerated.