Category: Organic

Spiked Sourdough Hybrid Dinner Rolls

I have a Sourdough starter that goes all the way back to 2008. I did not create it but got a sample a couple of years ago – and I have managed to not kill it.

Which is astounding because I hurtle every form of abuse and indignation in its general direction; starvation, neglect, disinterest… etc. OK, maybe it’s not that bad because it lives on.

For those who don’t know what a sourdough starter is: In its simplest terms, it is flour and water (those are ingredients that you provide…) The environment (or the World around you…) provides the “natural” yeasts. It is easy to say that they “exist” within the flour that you provide, but yeasts (and molds) are everywhere around us.

And in my case, my Sourdough starter which was created in a neighbourhood around 12 km away from where I live must have evolved after it was relocated. Which is to say, while there are “yeasts” everywhere, they are not all the same and they each (collectively) impact different flavours on the different creations (breads, rolls, scones, even pancakes!) you come up with.

So: Sourdough starter is flour, water and a wild yeast that, yes indeed, creates a ferment. Ferment creates alcohol and gas, which is the leavening that we are looking for.

The ferment in the bread making process also fundamentally changes the flavour and the structure of the gluten in the finished product. I could devote 100 pages to what is going on with bread starters and natural bread making. It’s all on the internet but I will integrate my spin on it here if anyone is interested (use the comment field!) Anyway. Onwards.

This recipe is a “spiked” sourdough – meaning there is some powdered yeast that is going to accelerate the process – significantly – reducing some of the nutritional benefits of the longer “ferment”.

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 -4 cups flour (1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat.)
butter, melted

Instructions
Lightly oil two 1/2 dozen muffin tins (or 3 for smaller rolls)
In a large mixing bowl combine starter, water, yeast, salt, sugar and oil.
Stir in flour, adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough is manageable.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well.
Place dough in a bowl and cover, set in a warm place to double in size.
When double, punch dough down and with lightly floured hands, form into rolls.
Place in muffin tins and let rise until doubled then bake approximately 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Last 5 minutes of baking, brush with melted butter and return to oven.

These are mad delicious right out of the oven – this recipe makes 12 big rolls or 18 slightly smaller rolls. You can freeze them as well, but trust me: They are not going to last!

Living with the INSTANT POT – CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

My New Years resolution for 2018 was doing more meal planning and preparing meals in our gourmet country kitchen. Now don’t get me wrong. I do my share of sous chef work; chopping, mincing, blending and eating!

Part of this plan was getting onto the pressure cook bandwagon that is currently sweeping the nation. So, off to the online marketplace to get an Instant Pot – and after watching a handful of instructional videos from Florence Lum and her husband of Vancouver, B.C. I was ready to dig in and start steaming!

My favourite foods are South Asian Punjabi spiced cuisine and Italian – so the Instant Pot was the right tool to start the experimentation and learning process.

Chicken tikka masala is good recipe to start with, and one of the most popular Indian dishes ordered at South Asian restaurants in Western Canada. It goes great with basmati rice to help soak up all of the delicious sauce, or with some plain naan bread on the side.

I enjoy Indian dishes that most of us Westerners simply label as “Curry”, which is completely inaccurate and misleading – Curry literally means “gravy” or “sauce” – so calling South Asian cuisine “Curry” does not do this very broad spectrum of cuisine justice.

Anyway – as I said, chicken is really easy to work with and really showcases the fragrant and aromatic spices that make up this dish.

Let’s do it!

Ingredients

For marinating the chicken:
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup Buffalo yoghurt (you can use cows or sheep yoghurt)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

For the sauce:
15 ounces canned tomato sauce or puree
5 cloves garlic minced
4 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup heavy whipping cream added last

The process

Rice: I prepared 1 cup of Basmati rice with a 1 cup of water and a few scratches of salt in the Instant Pot in 4 minutes of pressure cooking. Perfect! I set that aside while I moved on to the chicken.

Marinating the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients (minus the chicken) in a bowl and mix well.

Add chicken chunks and coat with the marinade.
Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pressure cooker saute mode:

Select the saute mode on the pressure cooker for medium heat. When it has reached temperature, add chicken chunks (along with any marinade sticking to them) to the pressure cooker.
Saute until the chicken is cooked on all sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the saute mode.

Pressure cooker high pressure mode: Add all of the sauce ingredients except the cream to the pressure cooker, over the chicken, and stir. Secure and seal the lid.

Select the manual mode to cook for 10 minutes at high pressure. Use the quick steam release handle to release pressure.

Pressure cooker saute mode: Select the saute mode on the pressure cooker for low heat. When it has reached temperature, add cream to the pot, stirring with the other ingredients. Simmer until the sauce is thickened to your liking, a few minutes.

Serving: Serve with basmati rice or naan. Garnish with cilantro. It’s crazy delicious and there is enough here to serve 4 folks hungry for some great South Asian eats!
You can check out Florences YouTube channel for more hands-on recipes and inspiration.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and coffee drinker who is always looking for better ways of cooking great food faster with less hassle.


Winter Storm Muffins re-mix Chapter 2

I have been doing most of my own baking since I was 12 – and although I do not have a cookbooks worth of experience, I have come up with a few good things. These are a Daylight Saving Time classic to get over the shock of the time change!

One recipe that I have been making for over a decade is my Winter Storm muffin recipe – and I do reference it quite a lot on my blog as it has evolved some – so here is the re-mix:

The Dry – mix in a large bowl

2 Cups Whole Wheat flour
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Cup Each; Rolled oats, Corn meal and (oat or wheat) bran
(A variation for me is using 3 cups of All-Bran for a classic Bran muffin or a sugar free granola mixture)
1/2 to 1 Cup dark brown sugar
1.5 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Magic Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
1/2 – 1 Tbsp Organic Saigon Cinnamon
1/2 whole fresh ground nutmeg

Wet Mix

3/4 Cup unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
3 Eggs
1 Tbsp Organic Vanilla
2 Cups Almond milk OR 2 Cups Goat’s milk
Almond milk (sugar free) is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk
and if you like an interesting flavour consider some organic Goat’s milk – great for the lactose intolerant among us.

Add Wet to Dry Mix – Do not over-mix.
I use a Kitchen-aid mixer.

Add from 2 to 4 cups of the fruit of your choice – I use finely chopped mango, or apple, or fresh Turkish figs, blueberries or anything in the way of frozen fruit medleys – the sky is the limit.

Another option is 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (any kind) in lieu of single cups of fruit.
A couple of times the mix seemed a little dry after the liquid was added.
Solution: Add a shot glass (2 fluid ounces) of your favorite juice; Orange, Cranberry, Lemon – whatever you have.

Pam spray 2 Muffin tins (I use a 12 and a 6)

Use an Ice Cream scoop for loading up the muffin tins – paper definitely not needed!

Bake for 24 minutes in a 375 degree oven – check for degree of done with a toothpick.
Poke the muffins. If the picks come out clean, you are good to go.

Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes and then air dry on cooling grid. Makes about 20 freezer ready muffins.
Ziploc freezer bags suggested for long term storage.

Christmas Turkey Enchiladas – spicy leftover delight

I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cuisine – can’t get enough of it but I am humble enough to admit that, apart from nachos, I have never learned to cook very much of it at home. Now admittedly, some of the cuisine is pretty complicated and filled with steps – but many, if not all, of the ingredients are readily available locally. So, get out there and give this one a whirl. You can use chicken, beef, pork, some kinds of fish I would imagine, or beans for a vegetarian approach. Let’s get busy.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked shredded Turkey (I have used leftover Christmas turkey breast meat)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup lo-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 small (284ml) cans enchilada sauce (La Victoria is my go to)
3 cups shredded cheese (tex-mexican blend)
1 small tin mild green chiles (diced)
Tablespoon of Cumin
Tablespoon of Chile powder
10 flour tortillas

Preparing your ingredients

Chop the onion and parsley, and shred the Turkey.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Step One Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring all the while.

Step Two Add the turkey to the onions in the frying pan. Add Cumin and Chile powder and stir until combined.

Step Three Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the turkey and onion mixture.

Step Four Add sour cream and parsley. Add diced chiles – stir until combined.

Step Five Once all the ingredients are fully combined, turn off the heat. now add the shredded cheese. I usually add 2 heaping cups. Mix to combine.

Once the cheese is melted and combined with the Turkey sour cream mixture, taste it, and see if it needs anything else – like additionally seasoning or more sauce.

Step Six Now it is time to fill the tortillas and make the enchiladas. pour just enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Step Seven Take each tortilla and spoon some sauce on the tortilla coating the entire side that will hold the turkey mixture. Then spoon on some of the turkey mixture.

Step Eight Roll up the tortilla and place it in the baking dish.

Repeat steps to make enough tortillas to fill your baking dish, or until the Turkey mixture is all used up.

Step 9 Pour enchilada sauce over the completed enchiladas. spread it evenly over the top.

Step 10 Top with more shredded cheese and garnish with chopped parsley.

Now they are ready to place in the oven. cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Since the turkey is pre-cooked, you only need to bake them long enough for the sauce to start bubbling, tortilla edges are slightly crisp, and the cheese is melted.

We serve with homemade guacamole and a suitable salsa – you can make the salsa yourself if you are so inclined. These yummy enchiladas are great with your favourite strong beer!
This dish can make 10 to 12 single serve enchiladas. Plenty for leftovers!

Victoria home cooking – Slow roasted garlic and tomato marinara

As Fall and harvest comes upon us, it is time to start making some of those tasty sauces that we will start enjoying throughout the fall.

Most of our best tomatoes are now ready and they are being converted to sauce for pasta dishes in the future. One of our favourite building block sauces: Marinara – it cannot be beat. It scales up well and you can add nothing to it or your favourite protein.

Let’s go!

Necessary ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, 1 medium onion,
2 medium celery ribs, 1 medium green bell pepper, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, chili flakes, 1/2 cup red wine or vegetable stock,2 bay leaves, 2 Tablespoon tomato paste, bunch of fresh parsley…

Take 3 pounds of Roma tomatoes.

Boil some water. Trim the stem end of each tomato and then cut a 1/4” X at the blossom/stem end.
Drop the tomatoes a few at a time into the boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds OR until the skin starts to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

Pull the skin off of each tomato.

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees (F).
Line one or more large baking pans with parchment paper.

Cut all of the tomatoes in half. Set a fine sieve over a bowl. Squeeze out all the seeds over on and onto the sieve. Keep the juice that comes out! We will use this later.

Place these tomatoes onto the parchment paper.
Mix together 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3 to 5 garlic cloves crushed and minced.
Paint this oil/garlic mixture onto the tomatoes. Put a twist of fresh ground pepper and salt onto each of the tomatoes.
Roast the tomatoes on the parchment paper in the oven for 2 hours.

Put all of these roast tomatoes into a bowl and add the reserve juice from the earlier seed removal.
Puree this mix with a hand mixer to medium fine puree eliminating all the lumps and clumps. Personal preference kicks in around here.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add onion (diced), celery (diced) and bell pepper (diced).
Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon or more of basil (fresh or dried) and oregano (fresh if you have it), a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds (use a rolling pin — releases the aromatics), a pinch of chili flakes and cook for another minute.

Added the pureed tomatoes, wine or stock, bay leaf and tomato paste and simmer, stirring occasionally for 35 minutes or so.

Discard Bay leaves and add chopped parsley (1/4 cup chopped)

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Makes around 10 cups of sauce.

Bon apetit! This is one of our favourites and mirrors one of our all time favourite sauces from Victoria restaurant Zambri’s. Original recipe by Eric Akis of the Times Colonist.

Are you ready? Chapter One

It is 2:22 AM on the dot when the ground starts to move in Victoria. You are sleeping soundly in your bed and, initially, the noise and vibration doesn’t fully awaken you. Like emerging from an under water dive, you gasp at first as you reorient yourself to the full reality of being awake. By now 10 seconds has passed by and the side to side movement appears to be intensifying. You are now fully aware as the thunderous grinding noises of earth and rock pitched against each other unfold. Everything moves helplessly atop this geologic canvas in a way that is at once fully terrifying and at the same time cartoonish.

Everything that is not tied down is being thrown around as if in a childhood toy box. And now, you are just one of the toys at the mercy of forces both devastating and unseen.

You roll out of bed trying to stand up and as you reach for some clothing in the darkness, you realize that you control nothing – you are entirely at the mercy of this event. It starts and ends when it is good and ready. Through the window and in the street power poles pendulum back and forth, whipping power lines taut. They fracture, power transformers hum, flash and explode in a shower of sparks.

Before you know it you are pushing your way to the front door of your home, oddly still standing, its corridors littered with a lifetime of personal possessions. Common sense mixed with a supreme quantity of fear and dread set in. You remember some of the things you have heard about earthquakes, how most of the injuries occur while fumbling around in the minutes following the shaking. Much to your astonishment, you discover that you have pulled on a pair of shoes because it is a good thing: the floor of your home and the outdoors are layered with broken glass. It’s everywhere.

The suburb where you live has just been hit with an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 – the shaking lasted 27 seconds which seemed like much more. As you look around you are struck by the normality of everything on first glance. Nothing fell over, you think. As your hearing starts to kick in amidst the darkness and chatter of neighbors emerging from their homes, you take stock of your immediate surroundings. In the distance you can hear the hiss of broken gas lines, the report of people calling to each other, and even the sound of terror – those alone, staggering into the street wondering what is next.

Your earthquake check list is well established in your head. You instinctively reach for your tool kit that you keep in your car (and an extra set in the garage) and shut off the gas main to the house. Thankfully, there is no water rushing into the street as evidenced by a ruptured water main. Even though you are almost frozen with fear, you keep moving and pushing yourself through the experience.

Your check list scrolls in your head:
a.) Water… got at least a weeks worth in bottles (and lots of beer!)
b.) Candles… check c.) dried food… (enough for a dozen or so neighbors for a week!)
d.) first aid kit… check e.) shelter… house is still standing. It’s summer and I have a 4 person tent. Excellent.
f.) Radio. You grab it on the way out of the house. It’s tuned to a local AM station and has fresh batteries.

The local radio station is running on emergency power. This is your first and primary way of assessing what has happened on a broader scale. Your cell phone is currently a paper weight overloaded by panicked 911 calls and toppled towers. As you divide your attention between the crackling radio and the downtown horizon in the distance, you are overwhelmed by the site of a rising orange glow over the city.

To be continued


Colin Newell is a writer, technician and advocate for emergency preparedness – who is, more or less, prepared for anything nature can throw at him.


Cuban influenced BBQ Rotisserie Chicken

My wife’s gal-pal Sheila A. got us a Weber Rotisserie attachment as a house warming gift.

A suitable grilling recipe seemed in order — and to have her over to treat her to the dish.

So off to the Weber recipe guide – which is very expansive. Original link here

The Dry Brine

Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges (around 3 tablespoons of zest)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Old Bay® Seasoning

1 whole free-range chicken, about 4 pounds, neck, giblets, wing tips, and excess fat removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine the dry brine ingredients. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken all over with olive oil and season evenly, inside and outside, with the dry brine.
Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 36 hours.

Next day – Rinse the chicken briefly under cold running water to remove most of the dry brine.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with the pepper.

Prepare your grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

Truss the chicken: Slide a four-foot length of butcher’s twine under the legs and back. Lift both ends of the twine and cross them between the legs. Then run one end under one drumstick. Run the other end under the other drumstick and pull both ends to draw the drumsticks together. Bring the twine along both sides of the chicken so that it holds the legs and wings against the body.
Tie a knot in the ends between the neck and the top of the breast. If necessary, push the breast down a little to expose more of the neck.

Following the grill’s instructions, secure the chicken in the middle of a rotisserie spit, put the spit in place, and turn on the motor.

Place a large disposable foil pan underneath the chicken to catch the drippings.

Cook the chicken over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until the surface is a deep golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 160° to 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone), abut 1¼ to 1½ hours. Make sure you use a digital thermometer – and make sure you achieve these internal temperatures! Food safety!

When the chicken is fully cooked, turn off the rotisserie motor and remove the spit from the grill.
Tilt the chicken upright over the foil pan so that the liquid that has accumulated in the chicken’s cavity pours into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during this time).

The chicken was melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy and gently fragrant with the sublime influence of the spice rub and brine. We served this wonderful chicken dish with pasta salad and BBQ corn on the cob (about 10 minutes on the grill while the chicken rested) – apply a garlic butter mix to the cobs while turning every two minutes. Serve with the beverage of your choice; beer, wine, fruit juice, tropical cocktails, or whatever you like.

And Enjoy! This chicken could have easily served 6 – 8 people with various sides.

Fall harvest cooking – Slow cooker Chicken Stew with Dumplings

It is that time of year when it is cold and damp when we arrive at work and dark and wet when we leave work. And what is better than coming home to a steaming hot pot of slow cooked stew!
Only thing you need to do when you get home is whip up the dumplings.

This is a heart warming dish that is perfect for this time of the year – it pairs well with any full bodied Red Wine – like a Cab S.B. – We had a California Sonoma Cab SB that was perfect with this dish. Enjoy and welcome to the Fall home cooking season!

Ingredients:

2 kg skinned boneless Chicken thighs
2 cups chopped / diced carrots
2 cups chopped / diced celery
1 chopped onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (low salt)
1 cup water

Directions:
Cut chicken into large – medium pieces.
Brown (in oil + pork fat if you have it!) chicken in dutch oven or pot seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme
Remove chicken to crock pot
Saute onions carrots celery in Crock pot (that you used for browning chicken)
Place onions, carrots and celery on top of chicken in the Crock pot.
Put all the sliced mushrooms on top of the veg and chicken mixture.
Stir soup, water, thyme and black pepper in a bowl.
Pour soup mixture over the chicken / veg mixture in the crock pot.

Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours.

Dumpling recipe.

2 cups of flour – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (opt) – 4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt – 2 tablespoons butter – 3/4 cup 2% milk (approx.)

In bowl whisk together flour, parsley, baking powder and salt.
Using pastry blender OR two knives cut in butter into coarse crumbs.
Using fork, stir in enough milk to make sticky spoon-able dough.
Leaving space around each, drop by tablespoon full (dough) onto simmering stew.

Cover and cook (without lifting lid) for 15 minutes or until dumplings are not longer doughy underneath.

Pork tenderloin on a spinach salad

Easy to prepare and low in fat.

1 – 500g pork tenderloin

Preheat oven to 450 (F)

Heated a frying pan with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Rub your tenderloin with some pepper, olive oil and garlic salt.

Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides (2 minutes per side) in the pan.
Place the tenderloin in a ceramic baking pan (pan is coated with left over olive oil.)
Spread honey mustard all over the seared tenderloin with a sprig of oregano.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 (F)
Bake for 30 minutes or until core temperature is 165 (F)

Remove from oven – rest for 10 minutes (tented in tinfoil)

Make the salad of your choosing –
Take the tenderloin and slice into thing medallions – serving over salad.

Party time – Queso Fundido Cheese dip – rated HOT

Who doesn’t like something hot and spicy to get the party rolling? Andrea’s and my take on a great Mexican snack dish cannot be beat – it has the blazing hot molten appeal of sharp cheeses dangerously tinged with the bite of chipotle peppers (to taste!)…

Not only that, it is served right out of the oven so it has double-trouble heat – but seldom a complaint is heard as it disappears entirely before it cools.

It is very hot, thermally, when it comes out of the oven so be very, very careful with this dish – a scald hazard always exists!

Ingredients

Shred 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese (the older and sharper the better)
Shred 1 cup Monterrey cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 4 oz. can chopped green chili peppers (drained)
1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, canned, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Combine and mix in a large bowl.

Spread into 1 quart baking dish.

Baked in 375 oven for 20 – 25 minutes stirring once.

Remove from oven – stir again.

– garnish with chopped green onions,
tomatoes, and even some sliced black olives or cilantro if you are so inclined.

Serve immediately with Tortilla chips and the frosty Cerveza or two of your choosing
This is a wickedly satisfying dish at any party – just warn people in advance: It has the hot hot heat!