Archive for Summer Mains – Page 2

Turkey and Eggplant Pastitsio

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When we get a craving for Greek food in the fall and winter, there’s only one thing to be done, either Pastitsio (sort of a Greek macaroni and cheese) or moussaka …this is the macaroni and cheese favourite. The sauce can easily be made a day or two ahead and that’s what I do. I adapted the recipe from an old “Gourmet” magazine. You can use lamb, beef or veal but I wanted to “lighten” things up!

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

DSC_1715 nx2For the Turkey Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pepperoncino (chili flakes)
¼ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. eggplant, cut into ½” cubes
28 – 32 oz. tin crushed tomatoes

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
2 cups homogenized milk
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 whole garlic clove
½ lb. Greek feta cheese, crumbled, preferably Dodonis
¼ to ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

For the Pasta:

10 oz. penne or ziti

Butter or spray with non-cooking spray a 3 quart baking dish & set aside.

Place the cubes of eggplant into a colander & salt with approximately 2 tsp. salt. Set the colander over a bowl to catch any drips & allow to stand up to 1 hour.

Heat approximately ¼ cup EVOO in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. In the meantime rinse the eggplant with cold water & drain on a large kitchen towel, pressing out any water. When the oil is hot/shimmering but not smoking, saute half the eggplant. When it is golden/lightly browned, remove to a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with a few layers of paper towels. Remove the eggplant from the pan onto the paper towels with a spider or slotted spoon & saute the remaining eggplant in the same way. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Wipe clean when cool and use to make the turkey sauce.

Make the Turkey Sauce:

Saute the onion in EVOO over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium-high & dd the turkey, saute, stirring & breaking up lumps until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute a minute or so add the peperoncino stir for 30 seconds then add the salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar & pepper & saute, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant & tomatoes & gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove lid & simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes longer; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Make the Cheese Sauce & Cook the Pasta:

While turkey sauce is simmering, make cheese sauce & cook the pasta.

If turkey sauce has been done ahead, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt then the pasta and cook until al dente or a couple of minutes less than when it is fully cooked. Drain & set aside.

Make the cheese sauce by melting butter in a 2 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in flour & cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, add the garlic & the clove & bring to a boil, still over moderate heat. Reduce heat & simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes OR…see my microwave method for doing this bit.

Remove the garlic & the clove; add the feta, salt & pepper & cook, whisking well, until cheese is well incorporated. Gradually whisk the cheese sauce into the eggs by tablespoonfuls.

Toss half the pasta with the turkey sauce & the remaining half of the pasta with the cheese sauce.

Assemble the Pastitsio:

Pour the pasta with turkey sauce into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the pasta with cheese sauce over top, spreading evenly.

Bake pastitsio, uncovered, in middle of preheated oven until bubbling & top is golden, 25 – 30 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

**To see how do make the base for the cheese sauce in the microwave, click here.

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“Jerk” Pork Chops

The last time we barbecued the pork chops we both agreed; they are very, very good, quick and easy to put together and we are making them tonight! Mix up some Jamaican drinks, kick back and dream of those island breezes! You can easily increase the recipe too.

Makes 2 Servings

DSC_1133 nx2(2) ¾ – 1” thick pork chops
¼ cup chopped onion
½ small clove garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp. Muscavado sugar, or other brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chili (use the type & amount you feel comfortable with), the rub should have some heat
½ tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 – 2 tsp. cooking oil

Prepare the barbecue.

Mince & mash onion to a coarse paste with garlic, thyme, sugar, salt & spices with the flat side of a chef’s knife, place in a small bowl, stir in the oil. Pat pork chops dry & rub the jerk paste all over them. Grill the chops 5 minutes on the first side, then 4 – 5 minutes on the second side, until cooked medium well.

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Chiles Rellenos

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Besides growing artichokes, Donna (Glen Valley Artichokes), also sells a number of other hard to find, locally grown things such as borlotti beans and fantastic poblano peppers. The coating is a lot simpler than the traditional egg yolk, beaten egg white one. You can add a bit of Monterey Jack cheese and serve with a dollop of sour cream if you wish too! You will have leftover picadillo but not to worry, I have suggestions for that! This is definitely one of our favourite late summer meals. The chiles are nice served with Arroz Rojo, a tomato based Mexican rice containing carrots, peas and corn.

Serves 4 – 6 People

For the Chiles Rellenos

DSC_8797 nx24 – 6 large poblano chilies, charred, skins removed**
1 batch of my picadillo**
2 large eggs, beaten
Unbleached flour for dredging
Stoneground cornmeal for dredging
(opt.) grated Monterey Jack cheese
Canola or other cooking oil

Garnish: cilantro leaves or chopped cilantro, sour cream

Enchilada Sauce (makes 3 cups but you can easily cut the recipe in half)

3Tbsp. EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 ½ cups tinned crushed tomatoes with added puree or
1 ½ cups tinned tomatoes, chopped then crushed by hand
1 ½ cups low-salt chicken broth, or homemade stock**
5 Tbsp. tomato paste

Warm the oil in a saucepan; add the garlic, oregano & chili powder; stirring for a minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stock & tomato paste; bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer & simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened; season to taste with salt. Set aside until ready to reheat when ready to serve the chiles rellenos. Thin the sauce with additional stock if required & adjust seasoning.

Make the Chiles Rellenos

Heat ¼” to ½” oil in a large frying pan to 365 F. I always use my electric frying pan, it works great & I don’t have to test the oil to make sure it’s the right temperature.

Make a slit in each chili, then carefully remove the seeds, rinsing under cold water as necessary, drain them on paper towels. Fill each chili with spoonfuls of the picadillo & some grated cheese, if using, being careful not to overfill them. Place the flour & the cornmeal on plates. Dip a chili in the flour, then into the beaten eggs & then roll in cornmeal to coat.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, carefully lower each stuffed chile into the oil; fry until golden brown on one side then gently turn over & fry the other side until it’s golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Place a few spoonfuls of the enchilada sauce on each plate & top with a chile rellenos.

**Suggestions for using leftover picadillo: makes fantastic empadas. I also make a taco salad with the mixture, topping with grated cheese, avocado, thinly sliced jalapenos, a few black olives, sour cream & salsa & serve with some corn chips for scooping. It also makes a great little appetizer put into phyllo cups & topped with guacamole, sour cream & some cherry tomato & cilantro. The picadillo freezes beautifully too!  Click here for the link to the crust for empadas & here for phyllo cups (see bottom of page.)

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Anne’s Pineapple Shrimp Salads

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This recipe is in homage to the lady who hired me to take over at the executive dining room of a major Canadian bank, when she retired two years later. This salad was always welcomed at the luncheons there, especially after Christmas and New Year’s pig-outs! It is very refreshing and really good. I particularly like to serve biscuits with this salad. Click on the links at the bottom of the recipe for two of my favourite biscuit recipes.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_8695 nx2For the Salad:

1 to 1 ½ lbs. cooked shrimp
2 medium sized pineapples (the “Gold” ones are the sweetest)
2 heads butter lettuce; red butter lettuce would be very colourful

Make The Dressing:

1 cup canola oil or other light tasting oil
6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
¾ cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s light is fine)
1 ½ Tbsp. ketchup (4 ½ teaspoons)
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 to ¼ tsp. Tabasco
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

Garnish: 2 lemons cut into 8 wedges each,
cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Combine the oil, lemon juice, paprika, sugar & ginger in a jar & shake well. Place the shrimp into a large bowl. Pour half the dressing over & marinate in the fridge for an hour to blend the flavours. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the remaining dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Tabasco & white pepper; put aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the salads.

Remove the skin from the pineapples; quarter & remove the cores. Cut the pineapple into bite sized cubes. Tear the lettuce into pieces & arrange on individual dinner plates. Arrange the pineapple cubes in a mound on top of the lettuce; drain the shrimp & place on top of the pineapple cubes. Either drizzle with the dressing or pass dressing separately. Garnish with cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, green onions & lemon wedges.

**I particularly like this salad with Anne’s bran biscuits but my homemade buttermilk biscuits are equally good.

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Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

The blueberries are in season and we’re making a batch of this barbecue sauce to slather onto pork chops, ribs, burgers, chicken, turkey or even fish! It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and can be easily frozen.  In fact, I have doubled the recipe just so I could have a stash in the freezer!  Gelderman Farms has delicious, juicy blueberries grown organically. If you would like to get some of their berries, see Some of My Favourite Sources.

Makes Approximately 3 Cups

DSC_7922 nx21 cup blueberries, preferably fresh
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup water
½ medium onion, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup blueberry or cider vinegar (I’ve even used blackberry vinegar)
2 Tbsp. fancy molasses
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp. dried marjoram, crumbled
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined & finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Cool for 15 minutes then puree in the processor or blender until smooth; season to taste with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

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Dynamite Chinese Chicken Thighs

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My husband gives these his “two thumbs up.” You can absolutely substitute approximately 2 lbs. of chicken wings. The chicken can be cooked in the oven on a rack, or are perfect for the barbecue, just make sure when you barbecue them to use the “indirect” method or you’ll end up with burnt wings!  Wings would made  finger-licking good appetizers!

DSC_6561 nx26 – 8 large chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

Make The Marinade:

2/3 cup plum sauce (we like Lee Kum Kee brand)
¼ cup liquid honey
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Powder**
1 Tbsp. Chinese chili sauce (we use Maggi brand)
2 tsp. finely grated fresh orange rind
½ cup light soy sauce
½ cup dry sherry

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl with a whisk. Place the chicken into a large glass dish & pour the marinade over top. Turn the chicken over a few times; cover with plastic wrap & place in the fridge overnight; turning the chicken over in the morning.

year of the horsePreheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a broiler pan with a rack; oil the rack or spray with non-stick cooking spray. If cooking on the barbecue, place a drip pan in the middle of the barbecue with the charcoal on either side; place the chicken over the drip pan; cover with the lid; cook for 15 minutes, turn the chicken over & cook for approximately 12 minutes more or until the juices run clear.

Serving Note:  The chicken can be served with Chinese noodles or steamed rice & stir fried veggies.

**If you would like to make your own fragrant, delicious, home-made Chinese 5-Spice Powder, please see Chinese Five-Spice Powder.

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Veggie Moussaka

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I found some end of  season eggplant at the Farmer’s Market and thought, what better way to use it, than to make this for Veggie Monday…not saying you can’t make it on other days! This makes a really, really tasty vegetarian main course. A nice addition might be a salad and bread. What I like to do is broil the eggplant & make the sauce the day before, then throw them in the fridge until an hour before assembling the moussaka. Sometimes I make the moussaka in an 8” square pan and sometimes in 4 individual casseroles.

Makes 4 Servings

2 eggplants, 1 ¾ lbs., cut into ½” thick slices
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp EVO + more if needed
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (my preference is Dodonis)

DSC_4952 nx2For The Tomato Sauce:

2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 ½ onions, chopped into ¼” dice
1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into ¼” dice
½ red bell pepper, cut into ¼” dice
½ cup dry red wine
2 cloves, garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. chili flakes, or to taste
¼ rounded tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. tinned Italian plum tomatoes, drained & chopped, reserve juice
½ small tin tomato paste
Salt to taste

For the Custard:

2 Tbsp. each butter & unbleached flour
¾ cup homogenized or 2% milk
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. each nutmeg & freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta or drained cottage cheese (see below)

Prepare The Eggplant:

Layer the slices of eggplant in a large colander, sprinkling between each layer with salt. Let stand over a bowl to drain for approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold water; place on lint-free towels & dry the slices well. Brush 2 rimmed baking pans with EVOO; brush one side of the eggplant slices with more oil; place on the baking pans, oil side down & brush the tops with more oil.

Meanwhile, place the oven rack at the highest level; turn the broiler on. When the oven is heated, place one baking pan at a time in the oven & broil the eggplant for 5 – 7 minutes, or until golden, turn the slices over & broil the other side until golden. Broil the remaining pan of eggplant in the same manner. Set aside until ready to assemble the moussaka.

Make The Tomato Sauce:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add the EVOO, when hot but not smoking, add the onion, zucchini, red pepper & sauté until softened but not browned, approximately 5 minutes; add the garlic & sauté 1 minute longer. Stir in the chili flakes, oregano, cinnamon & pepper; cook, stirring for another minute; add the red wine & reduce until almost evaporated; add the chopped tomatoes & tomato paste to the pan to make a very thick sauce, you may need to add a few tablespoons of the reserved juice at this point if the sauce appears to be too thick at the beginning, otherwise keep the juice for another use. Bring the sauce to the boil; reduce the heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender; season to taste with salt & pepper; set aside until ready to assemble the moussaka.

Make The Custard Sauce:

The instructions below are for making the sauce in the microwave, however you can do the sauce on top of the stove in a pot if you must!

In a large, glass microwavable bowl, melt the butter, covered with a piece of wax paper or a glass lid or plate; whisk in the flour, return to the microwave & cook on level 5 for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the mixture is a bit bubbly. Gradually whisk in the milk until combined, return to the microwave & cook, uncovered, in 1 minute intervals, whisking between each interval, on level 10 or high, until the mixture comes to a boil & thickens. Remove from the microwave, whisk in the salt, nutmeg & pepper. Let cool for 10 minutes & then whisk in the ricotta or cottage cheese & eggs; set aside while you assemble the moussaka.

**To drain cottage cheese, place a sieve over a bowl & line with 2 layers of rinsed cheesecloth; place 2 cups of cottage cheese into the sieve, fold the cheesecloth over the cottage cheese, place a plate on top & a heavy weight on top of that, place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Assemble The Moussaka:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Oil an 8″  baking dish or 4 individual baking dishes, place approximately ½ of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan; top with half the eggplant; sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the feta cheese. Top with the remaining tomato sauce & remaining eggplant; spread the custard sauce over the top, covering completely; top with the remaining feta cheese. Place the moussaka in the oven & bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned & set. Let stand for 15 minutes; cut into squares to serve.

**If making in 4 individual dishes, simply divide the ingredients amongst the casseroles. I think it’s a good idea to place individual dishes on a baking sheet to make it easier to both put into & remove from the oven.  The baking time may be a bit shorter than 1 hour.

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Pan Seared Pork Chops

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Properly cooked pork chops are fabulous, so tender & juicy. This is one of those things to keep up your sleeve, especially after coming home from work and having to come up with something easy, peasey for dinner! Gelderman’s** is a great source for excellent pork products.

DSC_4911 nx2Makes 4 Servings

(4) 1 ¼” thick, bone in pork chops
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat a cast iron frying pan or other oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Season the chops with salt & pepper; add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil or a combination of cooking oil & EVOO to the pan. When hot, but not smoking, add the pork chops & cook for 5 minutes; turn chops over & place the skillet in the oven & cook for 8 – 10 minutes for medium well or 12 minutes for well done. Your chops will be a lot juicer if cooked medium well. Remove the chops to a heated platter & let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  If there are any juices that have accumulated, serve with the chops if you wish.

**See My Source List to find Gelderman’s products.

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A Favourite Mac ‘N Cheese

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Kid food, childhood memories, bubbly and golden mac ‘n cheese with tomatoes…what’s not to love? Because I adore tomatoes, this is right up my alley and I hope yours too! I like to make this with tomatoes that are available locally right up to the early fall; they are so sweet, juicy & delicious!

DSC_4398 nx2Makes 6 – 8 Servings

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup breadcrumbs made from crusty bread**
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. elbow macaroni or other short tubular pasta
4 cups milk (not skimmed)
5 Tbsp. unbleached flour
½ cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 – ¼ tsp. Tabasco or to taste
4 cups grated cheese (a combination of 2 cups old cheddar, 1 cup each Gruyere & Parmesan or Fontina)
1 lb. red & yellow tomatoes, cut into 1” pieces, or for small tomatoes, cut in half

Combine the breadcrumbs with 2 Tbsp. of the butter that has been melted, along with 1 tsp. of the chopped thyme 1/8 tsp. salt & ¼ tsp. of the pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease or spray with non-stick cooking spray, a 3 quart casserole or 9 x 13” baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add 1 Tbsp. salt then add the macaroni, stirring for a minute to keep from sticking. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes (it will not be fully cooked), drain, rinse & set aside.

Make the Cheese Sauce:

**I like to do this in the microwave but you can do it in a pot on top of the stove.

In a very large glass, microwavable bowl, melt the 5 Tbsp. butter on medium (level 5) heat; remove & add the onions; return to the microwave & cook on level 5, in 2 minute increments, until the onions are softened (approximately 8 – 10 minutes. One minute before the onions are done add the garlic & microwave one minute more. Whisk in the flour; return to the microwave for 2 minutes, level 5, until it bubbles a bit; very slowly whisk in the milk; add the nutmeg & return to the microwave & microwave on high for 2 minutes; whisk & continue cooking, in 2 minute increments, until the sauce comes to a boil & thickens. (If you don’t have a large enough bowl; do this step twice, otherwise it could overflow. Once the sauce is done, combine the two, then add the cheeses & seasonings.) Remove from the microwave; add the cheese, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, remaining 2 tsp. chopped thyme & Tabasco, whisking until the cheese is melted.

Stir the macaroni & tomatoes into the sauce. Pour into the greased casserole; sprinkle with the buttered breadcrumbs; bake until bubbling & golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes or so before serving.

**To make the breadcrumbs, please see How To Make Breadcrumbs.

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Phyllis’ Tomato Salsa

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A good salsa is a wonderful thing! This version has both grape tomatoes and Sungold’s from the plants in our backyard. It certainly makes an eye catching and delicious salsa! Terrific on burritos, tacos or as a topping for grilled fish or chicken. You know they say, fresh is best!

DSC_4412 nx21 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp. coarse salt

Place the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno chili, lime juice & cilantro in a medium sized bowl. On a cutting board, mash the garlic with the salt using back & forth motions with the back of a chef’s knife until it is a paste; add the mixture to the tomato mixture & lightly stir in. Cover & set aside (not in the fridge) until ready to serve; up to 1 hour or so.

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