Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coming Soon to a Table Near Us

Sunday, February 14, 2010 0

This week, we're going to have a few friends over to celebrate the birthday of this wonderful woman. She was going to bring her own cake. I feel strongly that, despite the tradition in Dutch work places, the birthday girl should not have to provide the food. I had also recently discovered this blog which featured an absolutely beautiful cake. An absolutely mouth-watering cake. So, on Saturday morning, I'm going to attempt it. Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake. Mmmm.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Broth-y Goodness

Sunday, February 7, 2010 0
This weekend, I made my first ever broth soup. I have been making creamed vegetable soups now for three and a half years, but since I usually find broth soups… unappealing, I’ve stayed away from them. Why do I find them unappealing? Perhaps it’s because I’m a texture person, and I don’t like the inconsistencies of the thin broth along side the lumps of carrots and chunks of meat. It could be that they’re simply not fatty enough for me – it’s no secret that I’d take a white sauce any day over a red sauce – maybe this just follows?

At any rate, yesterday afternoon as I was staring into my fridge and freezer, wondering what I could make into a decent Sunday lunch, I noticed that I had quite a lot of tortellini that had been hanging around being frozen for quite some time. Naturally, my first thought was to cook them up with a jar of Classico Alfredo Sauce, but I didn’t have any. And I have been avoiding them when they’ve been on sale because (sigh) they’re not healthy. The next best thing to a cream sauce is a cheese soup (you don’t have to tell me that one is not healthier than the other), so I sat down at my trusty website and searched for “tortellini cheese soup.”

The first recipe to appear: Italian Meatball Soup. I was intrigued, clicked on the link, and was happy to find that I had all of the ingredients in my cupboards – something that rarely happens! As I cried over my onions, however, I soon realized that I had used up my last can of kale on a delicious dinner of boerenkale, our minced garlic was AWOL, and my can of diced tomatoes turned out to be whole stewed tomatoes. A package of frozen spinach was substituted for the kale, I used garlic salt (we don’t even have garlic powder in our cupboards) in lieu of both garlic & salt, and I chopped up the stewed tomatoes, which is a bit of a messy job.

As I was working on the soup, I sent the hubby out with the dog to the bakery around the corner to fetch some fresh buns and some real Parmesan – while we don’t have a Zharky’s in our neck of the woods, Sweet Paradise is not a bad second-best. It’s nice to have a local bakery to run out to now and again.

Once my soup was simmering away, I got to work on my meatballs, and had to substitute fake Parmesan for real, and again the garlic salt for the garlic and salt. Since I haven’t purchased ground beef in over a year I substituted ground turkey for ground beef, which resulted in Brian declaring, as he walked into the kitchen while the meat was frying on the stove, “those meatballs smell great!” This is a man who thinks that the only smell worse than burning human flesh is the aroma of ground beef as it browns on the stove.

Just over an hour after I first pulled the pasta from the freezer, soup was on the table, piping hot. The finishing touch: a teaspoon (ok, maybe a tablespoon) of fresh Parmesan cheese sprinkled on each bowl of soup. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Italian Meatballs:
(Taken from


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • 1 (12 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound frozen, cooked Italian-style meatballs - thawed
  • 1 pound fresh cheese tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat; cook the onion and garlic in the melted butter until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour the beef stock into the pot; add the tomatoes, green beans, carrot, kale, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the meatballs and tortellini; return to a boil and cook another 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top each with about 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese to serve.
Italian Meatballs
(Taken from


2/3 cup (150 mL) fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley
1 lb (500 g) lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) beef stock
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each dried basil and oregano


In bowl, combine fresh bread crumbs with water; let stand until absorbed, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, garlic, salt, pepper, cheeseand parsley. Mix in beef. Roll by rounded tablespoonfuls into balls.

Brush large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs, in batches, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Drain any fat from pan. Add onion and garlic; cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beef stock, zucchini, basil and oregano; simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes. Return meatballs and any accumulated juices to pan; simmer, turning meatballs occasionally, until no longer pink inside and sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.

Note: I skipped the sauce step, and added the pan-fried meatballs straight into the soup.

Crepe Update

The crepe dinner was quite a success, although I didn't end up making the Apple Enchiladas. The favourite crepe combo: Tomato and Pesto with Swiss.

I also ended up picking up a new crepe pan - all of our pots and pans are stainless steal as opposed to teflon coated, so when I make crepes it takes quite a bit of oil or butter. This pan is fantastic! I have never made so many perfectly round pancakes in one go! I'm excited for the next round of crepes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

On the Menu: Crepes - Sweet & Savoury

Friday, February 5, 2010 0
Tonight, we will be entertaining Nick and Hilary for dinner. Nick is a meat 'n' potatoes kind of guy - so I usually stick to fairly traditional supper menus when they come over. However, this time, I've decided to make crepes for dinner.

Brian doesn't understand why I think that crepes fall into the "dinner" category - for him, crepes are a breakfast meal - and a breakfast meal that he'd skip, too. When I was growing up, my mom made almost every meal that was put onto the table. The selection varied througout the week, but on Saturday evenings, after we were all bathed and had watched some good ol' StarTrek TNG, we'd sit down to freshly baked homemade pizza. Mmm. But that's a topic for another day.

Tonight, I'm making crepes. And every now and again when I was growing up, on a really excellent day, my dad would step into the kitchen and, instead of Saturday night pizza, we'd have Saturday night crepes, piled with homemade strawberry jam, or pseudo-Aunt Jemimah syrup, or brown sugar and butter. For some reason on crepe night, we would all drink out of the now-vintage Corelle pyrex mugs, while on every other night of the week we used our colourful Tupperware cups. My dad made the best crepes - since leaving home I have made them more times than I can count, but even when I use his recipe I can't duplicate his handiwork.

Until I met Brian, I had always thought of Crepes as a sweet food with sweet fillings. I learned shortly after our relationship started that my new man was of the opinion that suger had no business ever appearing on the dinner table. Thus my introduction to savoury crepes.

Tonight, I plan on serving 4 different crepe options:

1) Asparagus & ham with swiss cheese
2) Tomato & pesto with mozzerella
3) Banana & Nutella (a la Chez Cora)
4) Sugar & lemon juice (introduced to me by brother Steve)

Dessert will follow in the same theme: Apple Enchiladas.

I'll let you know how it went.

Basic Crepe Recipe:
Taken from

2 eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan. Cook 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.

Apple Enchiladas:
Taken from

1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Spoon fruit evenly onto all tortillas, sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down on lightly greased 8x8 baking pan.
3. Bring margarine, sugars and water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
4. Pour sauce evenly over tortillas; sprinkle with extra cinnamon on top if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
5. Makes 6 large tortillas; may be cut in half to serve 12.

Of course, since this is a crepe theme, I've replaced the tortillas with crepes.
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