WFD? Chorizo & Black Bean Soup with Corn Bread


Lately I’ve been reminding myself of what I probably will be like as an 85 year-old woman.
I shuffle around the place dressed in a faded jogging suit, its pockets and sleeves stuffed with Kleenex, and smelling like Vic’s Vapor Rub. I’m perpetually cold, and wear two pairs of socks, even when I go to bed (which is around 8:30).
I can’t concentrate for two minutes on anything; guaranteed time-wasters like Twitter or Facebook hold no interest for me and I find myself wishing I had a good knitting project.
The kicker, though, amid all this depressing evidence, is that I re-used a teabag today. Ugh.

In my defense, our household has been sick for almost two weeks with colds & the flu and it tends to suck the life right out of you after a while. Not to be down or anything, but you should know it’s not always all rainbows and sunshine around here. There are Kleenex boxes stashed at one meter intervals around the house and my stomach muscles ache from coughing. I’m at the point where I have to complain to someone and it may as well be you! Sorry.


It’s strange to not have an appetite, especially for me, still the family has to eat and so we’ve been enjoying our fair share of comfort food.
Take this hearty soup and batter bread, for example. The chorizo give off enough heat to clear the sinuses a bit and the bold flavors of cilantro, lime and garlic can awaken even the most desensitized taste buds. There’s no doubt a good soup does wonders for the soul; I’m even cheering up just writing about it.
Oh, and it’s high time I shared my favorite corn bread recipe. Moist and rich, it’s a cinch to make and always comes out like a dream. We eat ours drenched in honey.

Chorizo & Black Bean Soup
Serves 2

1 chorizo sausage (about 150g)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 green onions
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon whole cumin

2 cups cooked black beans

1 large fresh tomato, chopped

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup corn

garnish: fresh cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream

In a small, heavy skillet set over medium heat, gently toast the cumin until the aromas begin to be released and seeds are lightly colored. Set aside to cool, then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

Slice chorizo lengthwise and lay the flat, cut side down on your cutting board. Slice entire sausage in 1/4 inch pieces. Heat a heavy, medium sized pot and add chorizo. Cook for about five minutes, until the pieces start to color a bit. Remove from pan and reserve.

Slice white parts of onions, reserving the green for later, and add to the pot along with olive oil, garlic, and cumin. Saute gently, combining everything well together. Add black beans, tomato, stock, and corn to the pot and mix well.

Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls, add chorizo pieces, and squeeze some lime over. Slice green onions and toss over the soup. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with sour cream.

Corn Bread
Serves 6

1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup milk

1/4 cup cream

1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Butter an 8-1/2 x 11-inch baking pan. Sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Beat eggs and milk together until well mixed, add to cornmeal mixture and combine well. Beat in the cream, and lastly, the butter.

Pour batter into the buttered pan and bake for 18-20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Slice into triangles and serve warm.

An Indian Film, A New Spice Blend and a Giveaway


This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to the winner, EMILY of Sugar Plum!

I don’t write about movies very often on this space simply because it’s a food blog, and also since I don’t watch very many films. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love movies, but let’s just say the the opportunity doesn’t present itself very often. On the rare occasion that I find myself with a few hours to myself, I’d much rather spend it in a book store (AHH, the silence!) or perusing the shelves of my favorite gourmet food shops. If a film is released that I think I want to see -i.e. not a summer blockbuster or holiday fluff- I tell myself that I’ll just rent it. Famous last words, for Danny and I seldom rent films either! There’s always something better to do with our time in the evenings, like play Agricola or…[glancing out the window]…shovel snow. Not More Snow?!
However, I couldn’t wait to see Slumdog Millionaire after all that I had heard about it and so when my sister agreed to come hang out with the boys on a lazy Sunday afternoon, Danny and I were out the door as fast as you can say ‘popcorn’.
The film does not disappoint and pins you to your seat for an emotional and exhilarating journey to a colorful, yet often brutal India. I loved it, but it certainly tugged on a mother’s heart! Upon my return home I hugged my boys a little tighter than usual and cooked a simple dinner in honour of the movie. That’s where the spice blend comes in.


From Montréal’s spice expert, Philippe de Vienne, comes a special new blend: Route de la Soie or Silk Road Blend. Inspired from his travels to Kashgar and containing only the very best of spices, Silk Road Blend is to the palate what Slumdog Millionaire is to the eyes.
This blend marries the flavors of traditional Chinese, Persian, and Indian cooking. It contains over fourteen spices including Iraninan rose petals, green and white cardamom, casse, fennel, ginger, long pepper, saffron, anise, black pepper, white pepper, cloves, cumin, and rose buds. I used it in perhaps the simplest way possible: a rub for a Cornish game hen that I finished with a drizzle of honey. It was excellent! This dish perfumed the house with its extraordinary bouquet and transported us back to Central Asia.


Since you absolutely must try this blend, I am giving away one can to a lucky winner! Leave a comment before February 1 and your name will be entered to win. To get a second entry, blog about this giveaway and let me know where you have done so. Winners will be announced sometime on Sunday, February 1.
Good luck to everyone!

Silk Road Blend and more of M. de Vienne’s spices can be purchased online or at
Olives et Épices
Marché Jean Talon

7070 Henri-Julien etal C-11,

Montréal, Quebec



Roasted Cornish Hens with Silk Road Blend
Serves four.

(You can find Philippe’s original recipe here, which I only just discovered! It’s in French, but likely far better than mine below! I’ll give it a try next time.)

Two Cornish Game hens, rinced and patted dry
1 tablespoon Silk Road Spice Blend

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup butter, melted

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup honey

Grind spice blend until fine and place in a small mixing bowl. Add garlic, salt and melted butter and mix well. Using your hands, rub spice mixture generously all over the hens. Marinade for an hour or two.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Place hens in a roasting pan and then in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender and the leg easily pulls away from the carcass. Remove hens from oven and pour honey all over them. Allow to rest for at least five minutes.
To serve: use a sharp carving knife to remove the leg. Slice down the breastbone and remove the breast and wing.
Serve a leg and a breast per person.

WFD? Lemon, Chicken & Leek Pot Pies

What’s For Dinner? Individual Chicken Leek Pot Pies with Lemon and Tarragon.

It’s feels natural to jump on the comfort food bandwagon in January. Enough with the holiday finger food, the bowls of nuts, and elaborate dinner parties; what we need now is a one-pot meal to sink our fork into and forget about how dang cold it is outside. I think you’ll find this updated pot pie pretty satisfying.

Although I’ve been making variations on this dish for my family for a while, I might never have posted the recipe if it wasn’t requested by an old friend of mine. OK, maybe ‘request’ isn’t the right word, it was more like an order. In fact I believe her exact comment in response to this post was:

“I want your chicken leek pot pie recipe. I don’t like baking, but I like cooking so lets get on with the real food!”

Yes madam! Well, she did used to boss me around something fierce back in the day, so it comes naturally to her. I guess some things never change, eh?
So here you go, Kelly, I’ve done my part. You better make these now to feed all those bambinos of yours. Trust me, they will thank you for it.


I usually make these in massive batches as they freeze and re-heat wonderfully.
(edit 1) Since we sometimes need ‘heat & serve’ instant meals (little children’s tummies don’t understand waiting), I bake these as I normally would for a dinner, then cool them down, wrap them well and freeze for a later date. I re-heat them in the oven to keep the pastry crisp.
(edit 2) I find blanching my garlic alleviates some of the not so fun side effects while maintaining the full flavor that we love around here. However, this is not scientifically proven, just an opinion. I don’t do it often, perhaps just when I want to serve the dish to 10-month-old Mateo.

Chicken, Leek and Lemon Pot Pies

About 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I prefer dark meat and usually use thighs)
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and de-germed

3 leeks

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup white wine (Optional)

1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dry
(thyme is good, too)
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1/4 cup whipping cream

Salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup green peas, defrosted if frozen

1 recipe pie crust or 450g puff pastry
(my lazy way out, although in the photos I used my usual pie dough.)
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Place garlic in cold water, bring to boil, and boil for a minute or so. Drain and roughly chop. Reserve.

Cut very dark green leaves from leeks and discard. Wash leeks well and slice into 1/2-inch (1-cm) sections (I use about 2/3 of the leek)

Heat butter in skillet on medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes or until leeks soften. Stir in flour and cook until pale gold, about 4 minutes, adding more butter if needed. Stir in chicken stock, white wine if using, tarragon, lemon juice and rind. Bring to boil. Add cream, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick and glossy. Season well with salt and pepper.

Stir in green peas and chicken. Place in a 6-cup baking dish or individual baking dishes. Roll out pastry 1/4-inch (5-mm) thick to cover top of dish. Cut a steam hole, decorate with any extra pastry cut in shapes, if desired. Brush with egg.

Bake pies on middle shelf of oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden and mixture bubbles.
I usually set my baking dish or dishes on a cookie sheet as I inevitably get one that overflows.

WFD? Linguine with Turkey, Thyme and Petits Pois

Life is different with this much jam.

I’m not used to making these kinds of big decisions so early in my day, and I find myself standing with the fridge door open for long periods of time contemplating what kind to have on my bagel. The bagel/toast/whatever, by the way, is by far secondary to the jam, and acts merely as a platform to get the jam into my tummy. Mmm, jam. Which one to open next?

Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors to the south! I’m sure you all wined and dined on turkey and the trimmings and whether you know it or not, you will all drive me crazy with your various posts over the next few days featuring your tantalizing menus from the holiday. Not to worry, I’m already in Christmas mode and my home smells like gingerbread.

In case you find yourself standing with your fridge door open wondering what to do with all your turkey leftovers, here’s a simple, but tasty pasta dish. It freezes very well, allowing you to spread the turkey love over a few weeks if you don’t feel like dining on fowl yet another night in a row.

Of course, this is just an alternate version of Turkey Tetrazzini, but I dislike that name, having had one too many gray, nasty pasta dishes by that label.
Did I mention that this dish freezes great? I make this recipe and freeze half for another night. Isn’t it nice to have a casserole or two in the freezer when you are out Christmas shopping all afternoon and don’t have time to cook? Oh, and the kids eat this one too. Bonus.
That’s all for now. I’ve got to get cracking on some canapes for a party tomorrow and there’s gingerbread to decorate for my cookie swap on Sunday. I better brew an espresso, it’s going to be a long night!

Note: I’ve made this without the wine and it’s still great.

Linguine with Turkey, Thyme and Petit Pois
(adapted from Chicken Tetrazzini)
Serves 8

Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves OR 1/2 tsp dried
1 pound linguine, broken in half
4 cups cooked turkey, skin removed, meat shredded
1 cup fresh peas or grated zucchini.

1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan melt tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 1 1/2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, turkey, and peas. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

To freeze: After placing pasta mixture in baking dishes and sprinkling with Parmesan (step 3), cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 3 months.
To bake from frozen: Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Serve.
To bake from thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes.

Thanksgiving Part 2: Side Dishes

Guess what arrived in my mailbox yesterday? The Martha Stewart Living November issue with a big, fat, perfect turkey on the front and the title “Thanksgiving Solved!” We’re a little ahead of the game here at UtHC.
I think my side dishes–not to mention my stuffing–were better than the ones she featured, but you can decide for yourself! Let’s continue with our meal.


First up we have Maple Glazed Baby Carrots, harvested from the earth the same day they were served. They were so naturally sweet, the syrup was an unnecessary, but lavish touch. Wondering why they are a funny color? These are my purple carrots, which look almost black when they are cooked.


I’ve enjoyed brussel sprouts every time I’ve had them; I can’t understand why they have such a bad rap. They brought such gorgeous color to our Thanksgiving table and were far more elegant than the common green bean (and don’t even get me started on canned peas!). Just a head’s up for the mama’s reading: there were plenty of brussel sprouts rolling around under the high chair as these were not a hit with the little ones. More for us grown-ups, that’s all!

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Lemon

Brussel Sprouts
Butter

Lemon,
zested
Walnuts, lightly toasted

Salt and Pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Prepare brussel sprouts by peeling away one layer of outer leaves and scoring an ‘X’ in the bottoms, about 1/8th of an inch deep. Drop brussel sprouts into the boiling water and blanch for about 3 minutes, less if they are really small. A sharp knife poked into the center should still meet with some resistance. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a tray. (This part can be done well before the meal)
Just before serving, melt butter in a sauce pan and toss in a pinch of the lemon zest. Add
brussel sprouts and pan roast until they start to get some golden patches. Some people prefer to slice them in half and brown the cut side generously. Mine were very small, about the size of a grape, so I chose to leave them whole. Toss in the rest of the lemon zest and a handful of walnuts. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
This dish held up well in a warm oven for about 15 minutes while I brought the rest of the meal together.


Lest I lead you to believe I cooked this entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own, let me assure you that I didn’t! It was a joint effort, a well-executed pot-luck, I would go so far as to say, and that made all the difference. How else would I have been able to photograph every dish for your viewing pleasure?!
The best part of a pot-luck is getting to try new dishes that you may not necessarily have made on your own. My brother-in-law, Kevin (of the Egg McMuffin) contributed this amazing Butternut Squash Gratin, which was so light, it reminded me of a soufflé. I am not accustomed to cooking with Miracle Whip–I’ve never purchased it in my 30 years–but this gratin just might make me a believer. Maybe.
If you have family members who protest when you serve squash, try this dish and see if any one is complaining! I don’t think you’ll hear a peep.

Butternut Squash Casserole

3 cups chopped butternut squash
1 onion, chopped

2/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

15 crackers (Ritz like), crushed

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip dressing

Heat oven to 350F. Cook squash in boiling water in covered saucepan 15min. or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain. Mix squash and remaining ingredients; spoon into 8-inch square baking dish.
Bake 1 hour or until heated through.
Enjoy!

Dinner is served! Clockwise from top center: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Onion Buttermilk Rolls, Apple & Fruit Stuffing, Maple Glazed Purple Carrots.



My sister contributed these Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes; comfort food at it’s best. She also found time between volunteering at the SPCA and writing an essay to whip up a gravity-defying deep-dish Apple Streusel Pie, but I’m saving that for the next post! Stay tuned.

Click here for Thanksgiving Part 1: Turkey & Co