Treating yourself, a Valentine’s day celebration menu for one

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There’s nothing I enjoy more than cooking up a celebratory meal, wether it be for friends and family, or for myself. I’ve never been much of a believer of Valentine’s day celebrations while in a couple, I feel you should be showing your appreciation all year long. But when you celebrate it with children or yourself, I find it’s a great excuse to treat yourself 🙂 So  I’ll be opening a small bottle of bubbly (my favorite!) and enjoying this simple but delicious meal. Happy Valentine’s day!

Tender chicken thighs with leek julienne and creamed butternut squash with a tarragon cream sauce

Ingredients

115 gr, chicken thighs

1 cup julienne leek, white and pale green parts

1 cup butternut squash, cubed

1 small shallot, minced

50 ml coconut cream

2 sprigs tarragon

Butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Boil squash cubes in salted water, check for doneness, 10-15 minutes. Melt a nugget of butter in a small pan over medium heat and add shallot to sauté until glassy. Add cream and 1 sprig of tarragon and let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Mince other sprig of tarragon and set aside. Meanwhile, season chicken thighs and sauté in skillet with a little butter on medium heat until browned on both sides.  Be careful not to crowd pan to avoid boiling the meat. Take off heat and slice against the grain, set aside. Rinse off skillet and place on medium heat, add a little butter and add leeks to sauté until glassy and soft, season with salt and set aside. Remove squash when cooked and purée with a nugget of butter. If you have a plating ring, place in the middle of plate and add leek julienne, then place chicken and finish with squash purée. Even out using a spatula. Serve with tarragon cream, removing sprig, and garnish with minced tarragon.

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Microwaved Chocolate ricotta cheesecake with stewed strawberries and hazelnut brittle

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Ingredients

1/2 cup ricotta

35 gr dark chocolate, melted

1 Tb sour cream

1 egg, separated

1 tsp cocoa

5 ml vanilla

3 1/2 Tb sugar

1 Tb hazelnuts, crushed

6-7 frozen strawberries

25 ml red wine

5 ml rum

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Instructions

Using frozen strawberries is ideal in the winter months, when strawberries aren’t in season, they will be ideal for stewing. In a small bowl, combine wine, rum, 1 teaspoon sugar and strawberries, cover and set aside. Allow to stew for 1-2 hours. In a small skillet, brown hazelnuts in a small nugget of butter. Place hazelnuts on small sheet of parchment paper.In a small saucepan, add 2 Tb sugar with 1 Tb water and place on medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved then leave until golden amber in colour, roughly 10 minutes. Keep an eye to avoid burning the caramel. Pour over hazelnuts quickly and set aside to allow to harden. Meanwhile, blend ricotta with the egg yolk, 1 Tb sugar, cocoa, melted chocolate, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. An immersion hand blender is ideal for this, whisking by hand is fine. Whisk egg whites until stiff and foamy. Fold in whites into ricotta batter. Place in microwave safe dish and cook on medium-low heat for roughly 5 minutes. Keep an eye out as microwave temperatures vary greatly. Allow to cool before unmolding. Serve in dessert plate with stewed strawberries and garnish with brittle that you broke down into 1 decorative piece and roughly grind remainder. Serve and enjoy!

 

Clam chowder for a blistery winter Sunday

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It’s snowing… I can’t complain so much about the snow, we haven’t gotten that much this winter. But the cold… The cat’s have cabin fever, they regularly pull out new toys from their basket or they mope around. I’m not an emotional eater, however when I’m bored, I suddenly have all sorts of cravings! So I’m constantly searching for dishes that satisfy me deeply and that way I can steer away from the bad stuff!

I have great childhood memories from spending summer vacation in Maine. The ocean, the sun, friends, watching the 4th of July fireworks on the beach, surfing and eating all sorts of stuff we weren’t allowed the rest of the year, i.e. chips, sugary cereals, soda… A rainy day was an excuse to go for day trips to Ogunquit or Kennebunk Port, buy fudge and candy at the candyhouse or go buy some christmas decorations at the christmas shop! And there was always one day we’d walk on the beach to go eat lobster rolls, clam chowder and fried clams from a shack by the beach. Funny how the simplest things make us so happy and give us our most cherished memories 🙂 This chowder is super quick to make and super satisfying, a perfect pairing would be these biscuits, it’s not exactly what I ate as a child, but I love it!

scn_0047Clam chowder

Ingredients

1 can clams

1 large potato, diced and blanched

1 cup corn kernels

2 large slices bacon, diced

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Minced chives for garnish

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Instructions

Cook bacon in skillet until browned, add shallot and toss until translucent. Add corn, paprika and toss then add clams in their juice. Transfer into a pan add potatoes and coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Serve and garnish with chives. Enjoy!

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My spanish roots & the queen of all comfort food: My Yaya’s spanish meatballs

If ever I had to choose from all the delicious comfort foods in my repertoire, this would probably be it. It was one of my favourites as a child and I would get really excited when I would see my grandmother preparing them. When my grandparents retired, they would spend winters in Spain and my grandmother would always prepare me a large batch of these in the freezer. They would, sadly, never last that long… I just couldn’t resist! When she passed away, I had one regret, that I still hold to this day, that I didn’t put down in writing all of the family recipes. Most of them I manage by experimenting, memory or with the help of my mom and aunt that have their versions of the recipes as well, but one thing I found out after discussing this specific recipe with my mother, is that we have different versions of the recipe. Clearly, as with all good cooks that experiment and are always trying different things or ‘perfecting’ their recipes, the dish evolves as does the individual that is cooking it. So my recipe is completely different to the one my mother has and neither of us has ever even seen let alone eaten the others version! Funny that, no?scn_0044

So getting back to february being the month for comfort food, here is my version of spanish meatballs! My version uses minced mushrooms instead of the classic breadcrumbs and egg  for the meatballs. I find it lightens it up, adds veggies and depth to the meatballs. You can, of course, revert to the classic. I also use coconut cream instead of milk, but you’re welcome to do the milk version! Boy am I a happy camper to have these ready to eat!!!

 

Spanish meatballs

Ingredients

225 gr. mix of ground beef, pork & veal

1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms

1 Tb pine nuts

1 large onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large potato

2 medium carrots, sliced in 1/4 rounds

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 almonds roughly chopped (or 2 Tb almond butter)

1 Tb olive oil

1/4 tp smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions

Heat olive oil in cast iron pan, add 1/2 of the onions and stir until translucent. Add 1/2 of the garlic and stir for a minute or so then add almost and continue until fragrant (2-3 min.). Add paprika and combine well then add carrots. Stir for another minute then add just enough water to cover. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Meanwhile combine ground meats with remaining garlic & onion, pine nuts and dash of paprika, season with salt and pepper. Roll into golf sized balls, you should have 8 meatballs. Set aside. When carrot mixture is ready, transfer to a blender with coconut milk and blend on high until smooth. Return sauce to pan and add meatballs. Make sure sauce is almost covering the meatballs. If pan is too large, transfer to a smaller pan, cook on medium-low heat to simmer, occasionally stirring. Peel and cut potatoes and place in small pan, cover with water and season with salt. Cook covered for 5 minutes once water comes to a rolling boil. Remove from water and add to meatballs and sauce. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure elements are covered in sauce and correcting seasoning of necessary.  Serves 2, can be frozen without the potatoes. If you only want one portion and freeze the other, use a small potato. You can freeze the remaining meatballs on their own with enough sauce to cover.  Enjoy!

February is for comfort food & the classic comfort duo: Cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but soups seem to be a recurring theme at my house. I guess soup is the perfect quick comfort food. It’s nourishing, tasty, can be made in every colour of the rainbow and can be made as light or as hearty as you desire. So today I’m sharing my cream of tomato soup recipe. I’ve been making it for over twenty years and the ingredients have evolved over the years. You can swap from milk to dairy alternatives, coconut milk/cream, from the cream cheese to greek yogurt or anything you want to use, experimentation leads to perfection!

Cream of tomato soup

Ingredients

1 28 oz tin of canned tomatoes

1 medium onion with 1 clove inserted

1 medium carrot, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups milk (or alternative)

1 Tb flour

1 Tb butter (or alternative)

Dash of grated nutmeg

1 cup cream cheese (or alternative)

Instructions

Place tomatoes, carrot and onion in saucepan, season with salt & pepper and cook on medium-low heat , covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan make a béchamel by melting butter on medium heat, add flour and stir until well incorporated and whisk in milk slowly, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the milk has thickened, allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. After 30 minutes, add cream cheese to tomatoes to warm. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth. Makes 2-3 servings, can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Grilled cheese

Ingredients

1 large slice country bread cut in 2 (or 2 slices regular bread)

2-3 slices of cheese of your choice

Cranberry chutney

Butter

Sliced scallion

Instructions

Butter outer sides of bread. Spread cranberry chutney on the inside of bread, place 1-2 slices cheese on top, sprinkle scallion and add another slice of cheese. Close with 2nd slice and cook on medium heat in a cast iron pan until well browned on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

Stick to your ribs chili and can’t stop eating them biscuits

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so I was inspired to cook up some comfort fare, such as a delicious chili with biscuits to sop up all that juicy goodness. Each are absolutely delicious on their own ( I actually ate ALL the biscuits, I just couldn’t stop! ), but why deny yourself perfection?  The long simmer of the chili breaks down the chicken and ends up melting into the sauce. The biscuits are so flaky and delicious, they can be eaten alone, with jam & butter, anything really! I used a combination of whey leftover from making greek yogurt and yogourt instead of buttermilk and the result is fantastic! So let the chili simmer, crack open a beer and enjoy your Sunday!

Chicken chili

Ingredients

230 gr. chicken thighs, cubed

2/3 cup red lentils

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 of each orange, red & yellow peppers, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cup corn kernels

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 stick cinnamon

1 tablespoon mexican chili

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, diced avocado and cilantro

Instructions

Sauté chicken thighs until browned, add onions and continue cooking until soft and translucent. Add garlic, chili, cumin and paprika and sweat the spices for 1-2 minutes. Add peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn & cinnamon. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Check that chicken has pulled apart, if not muddle with a wooden spoon until meat pulls appart. Continue simmering for a further hour uncovered. Add lentils and cook for 30 minutes more. Serves 2 with toppings and biscuits. Both can be frozen seperately for 3-4 months. Enjoy!

Biscuits

Ingredients

1 cup flour

4 tablespoons butter

45ml whey

45ml yogourt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 ° . Sift all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter until rough crumbles occur without overworking, add liquid and stir in using a wooden spoon. When you have a shaggy dough, lightly need with your hands 5 or 6 times. It’s important not to overwork the dough, keeping pockets of butter will make the dough flaky. Roll out the dough to 1″ thickness and cut using a floured cutter or glass. PLace on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool. Makes 6 medium or 8 small biscuits, biscuits can be frozen in an airtight container for 3-4 months.