On my ad-free cooking blog I only post recipes that people tell me they love – some are healthy, some are not, but they are all delicious! I record these recipes because I love to cook, and people tell me they appreciate looking at and trying out my recipes. Please write a comment if you have any thoughts about my posts so I know if I should keep experimenting with new recipes, documenting them, and paying to keep this blog advertisement-free. Thanks for the feedback! Enjoy!
Here’s my own recipe a yummy turkey meatball in tomato sauce. It something I’ve been making regularly for years, but I never think to record what I’m putting in, or to take a photo of it. So, at long last, here it is.
I love this recipe because the turkey makes it a bit lighter than a beef meatball, and both the sauce and meatballs have a great combination of flavours. At the end of the sauce cooking time, a little secret is to add some garlic that you have just heated in a bit of butter. This one is so great if you make it ahead of time, as it only gets better when it sits. It freezes well, so if you make a big batch you will have a quick meal that you can thaw someday when you need it.
You can make the meatballs and add them to your favourite tomato sauce, or use the recipe that I’ve provided. Fresh basil is a must for the sauce, and the Parmesan rind adds some great flavour.
I’ve served this with pasta, or zucchini noodles, with some Parmesan grated on top.
What you need for the sauce:
about 1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar passata (strained tomato sauce)
1/4 cup tomato paste (optional)
red wine (optional)
pinch of flaked chili pepper
parmesan rind (optional, but really makes this taste great!)
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
What you need for the meatballs:
about 1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs
about 1/4 cup milk or cream
400-500 grams (less than a pound) ground turkey breasts
In a large frying pan or pot, heat a glug of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the diced onion and lower the heat a bit so that it cooks but doesn’t brown. Add half of the garlic and cook for a minute, just until the onions are translucent.
Add the passata to the pot, then put some water into the jar and give it a shake to get the rest of the tomato sauce out, then add that to the pan. Add the oregano, chili pepper flakes, some of the basil, as well as the optional tomato paste and red wine. Place the Parmesan rind in the pot and let that simmer on low heat while you prepare the meatballs. The longer you cook the sauce the better!
To make the meatballs, combine the bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl, then add the egg and mix it all together.
Put the ground turkey, some salt and pepper, nutmeg, grated Parmesan, garlic, onion, and optional chanterelle powder in the bowl with the wet bread crumbs. Use your hands to bring the ingredients together, being careful not to over-mix.
Add a bit of olive oil and/or butter to a large frying pan and let it get hot without burning. Form meatballs with wet hands; I find that this works best when I roll them a bit with my palms and then toss them back and forth a bit to make them round. After you form each meatball place it in the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan – you may need to do this in several batches. Roll each meatball once one side has browned, until most of the outside has been browned. They do not have to cook through, as they will continue to cook in the sauce for quite a while. Once the meatballs have browned move them from the frying pan into the pot of sauce, then continue to brown the rest of the meatballs.
Let the sauce cook on a low simmer for at least half an hour, but preferably longer. I find that tomato sauce splatters so much, so I like to put a splatter guard over it; it keeps in the sauce, but lets the steam escape.
Near the end of the sauce cooking time, heat about a tablespoon on butter with a clove of minced garlic in it. Add the butter and garlic to the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
As with most soups, the broth you use is so important to bring a fullness of flavour. I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but turkey broth would also be perfect here. If you don’t have a homemade broth it might be wise to splash out a bit on a better quality broth like the one made by Pacific.
I bought some raw turkey breasts for this recipe, but left-over roast turkey or chicken would also be great.
What you need:
1 leek, halved lengthwise and then sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3-4 carrots, sliced
1-2 turkey breasts (or leftover turkey or chicken meat)
Heat a small glug of olive oil in a large pot. Add the veggies and cook, stirring from time to time, until they soften a bit.
Push the veggies to the sides of the pot (or remove them from the pot if you want) and place the turkey breasts in the pot. (Unless you are using leftover meat which you will add with the broth). Cook the turkey breasts for a minute or two on each side; it doesn’t need to cook through yet, as it will continue to cook when you add the broth.
Add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, broth and barley. Bring to a light boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is cooked but not too soft.
Remove the turkey breasts from the soup and shred them, using two forks or your hands. Put the turkey meat back in the pot.
I like to keep the salt and pepper until the very last moment, as the flavours of the soup develop as it cooks, and you may over-season if you add it sooner. Also I think the salt makes the veggies a bit mushier. So add salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
The roasted tomatillo salsa on these enchiladas is really what makes it a special dish; you get that slightly smoky taste, and there are those authentic bits of char you can see in there. You can use whichever fillings you like, or you can follow the suggestions in my recipe.
There are three main steps to this recipe: roast the vegetables for the salsa and cook them, assemble the tortillas and pour the salsa over top. Then bake for just a few minutes. The best part of course is devouring them, nicely garnished with cilantro and maybe some Cotijo cheese.
This recipe comes from Rick Bayless’s website. After visiting one of his restaurants in Chicago a few years back I started searching through his recipes and trying some out. This one was a big hit when I made it recently. (Once again, the eating experience outshines the photo.)
Some changes were made to the chicken filling. The recipe called for just shredded cheese, but I squeezed some lime juice over the chicken, then I added some cilantro, avocado, Cotijo cheese and a bit of Ancho chili powder and salt. I also meant to add some pinto beans but forgot about them, so they were served on the side. I love a nice crumbly, salty Cotijo cheese sprinkled on top of these; I buy a locally made one at Whole Foods in Vancouver.
I also made one change to the tomatillo salsa – I chopped up some of the cilantro stems and tossed them into the salsa as it was cooking.
If you have some bottled tomatillo salsa on hand it can be helpful in case you don’t have quite enough to cover the enchiladas, or if you really don’t have time to make the salsa you can substitute with bottled green salsa.
I served this with a jicama/cucumber/mango/orange salad, and some pickled red onion to put on the enchilada.
Warning: serving this meal may cause arguments over who gets the leftovers.
What you need:
1/2 kg tomatillos
4 garlic cloves with peels on
2 fresh Serrano chiles
1 small onion, sliced about 1cm thick
1 & 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used a bouillon cube)
olive or vegetable oil
1 bunch chopped cilantro
cooked, shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken, mainly the breasts with a bit of other meat)
juice of one lime plus more for serving
1 avocado, sliced
pinto beans (optional)
Ancho chili powder
8 corn tortillas
What you do:
Preheat the broiler in the oven and move the rack to the highest position.
To prepare the roasted tomatillo salsa, remove the husks from the tomatillos and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the garlic, onion and Serrano peppers on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven for about 4 minutes. The vegetables should begin blackening. Flip them over and let the other side blacken for a few minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool somewhat.
Turn the oven heat to 400F (200C).
Remove the skins from the roasted garlic and take the stems off of the peppers.
Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the vegetables and any of their juices, along with half a teaspoon or so of salt, leaving some chunks of tomatillo.
Sprinkle some salt and Ancho chili powder over the shredded chicken, then pour the juice of a lime over it. Add the chopped cilantro and toss the chicken to evenly coat it. Prepare the sliced avocado and crumble some of the Cotijo cheese. Set the chicken ingredients aside while you finish preparing the salsa.
Add a drizzle of oil to a pot and bring it to medium-high heat. Add the salsa ingredients to the pot and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, and allowing it to thicken. Add the broth and about 1/4 cup of cilantro and continue to cook for about 5 minutes more until thickened a bit. Season with salt, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer while you assemble the enchiladas.
Wrap the tortillas in a cloth and microwave for a minute.
Stir a little bit of the salsa into the chicken mixture, then add a little bit of the salsa to the bottom of a baking dish.
Lay out one tortilla at a time, adding some chicken, avocado, and Cotija cheese (reserving some to garnish). Roll the enchilada, the place each of them in the baking dish. Spoon the salsa over the top of the enchiladas, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges.
Bake the enchiladas for about 4 minutes, then garnish with cilantro and Cotija cheese before serving.
The first time I tasted magret de canard was at Chez Janou in Paris. We had been invited to someone’s apartment one evening, and I thought we were there for dinner. Turns out it was just for drinks. By about ten pm it became clear that there would be no food served, so we headed over to Chez Janou where I ordered the magret de canard for the first time. It was served medium-rare with roasted potatoes, and a red wine pan sauce.
When I made it this time (I’ve made it several times before, but always forgot to take photos) I served it on greens, but what you don’t see in the photo is the potatoes roasted in duck fat, nor the pan juice I poured over the duck after I took the photo. I also served it with a baguette, which was perfect for mopping up extra juices.
In my opinion the duck breast in the photo is cooked to perfection. You might be thinking to yourself – isn’t that a little too red for poultry? Duck is a red meat, and the breast must not be cooked to well done or it will be dry. I was served a well-done duck breast on a subsequent visit to Chez Janou (they must have thought North Americans liked it this way) and it tasted like liver (ick). Some sources say that rare duck meat is unsafe, but most say it’s fine, and restaurants typically serve it even rarer than the one I have show here.
Here is a quick guide to testing for doneness so you don’t have to poke into the meat with a thermometer, using the feel of the meat compared to the feel of different parts of your face as a guide. When you prod the top of the breast with your finger, you are checking for the following:
feels like when you prod your cheek = rare
feels like when you prod your chin=medium rare
feels like when you prod your forehead=well done
To make the pan sauce you will use the bits of meat that are stuck to the pan acter cooking the breast, along with some wine and a bit of butter. The stuff left in the bottom of the pan is called “fond,” (silent ‘d’) from the French word for bottom. It is concentrated flavour that you don’t want to waste, and makes a really easy and tasty sauce.
You don’t have to eat the skin (but it is crispy and delicious), but you need to cook the breast with the skin on or it will be very dry. And that would be such a shame.
What you need:
red or white wine for the pan sauce
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Remove the duck breast from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to cook it. Score the fat using a very sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way down to the meat. Salt the fat side quite a bit, then salt the other side a bit.
Heat an ovenproof pan (I used cast iron) to high, then lower the heat to medium high. Add the duck breast skin side down and cook for 5 minutes – it should sizzle quite a bit. Flip the duck breast.
Put the breast, still in the pan, in the oven for 4-8 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the breast and how well you like it done. When cooked to the desired doneness remove the breast from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
While the breast is resting, put the pan on the stove again and add a little wine to loosen up the fond. Let the wine cook down a little, then add a pat of butter to make a glossy sauce.
I like to slice the breast before serving, and for a small meal the one breast can be shared between two people. After slicing pour some of the pan juice over the top.
Duck confit is one of my favourite special dinners. Locally I am lucky enough to eat at Les Faux Bourgeois once in a while – so tempting since it is mere blocks from my home in Vancouver. When I’ve been to France I’ve brought home cans of confit de canard to enjoy with friends. When I was in the Périgord region of France a few years ago I bought some ready-made confit de canard and cooked it up in an outdoor kitchen , along with Potatoes Sarlardaise, and lovely fresh summer vegetables.
Confit de canard is a method of preserving duck in its own fat. After the curing process which makes the meat tender and flavourful, the duck is cooked so that the skin becomes crispy.
When I made this at home recently I prepared four duck legs, figuring that if I’m going to do this multi-step process I might as well make a larger batch. In retrospect I realize that I could have made even more, as they keep well in the freezer. I understand that the confit process and the storage in duck fat is a way of preserving the meat, but I prefer to use it within a week or freeze any legs that are not used in that timeframe, just to be on the safe side.
Now that I’ve made this recipe a number of times I’m not exactly sure what all of my sources were, so I can’t attribute this recipe to anyone in particular. Some recipes call for using thyme instead of bay leaves, which is also delicious. I draw the line at adding juniper berries, because I find the flavour to be unpleasant.
This is a somewhat decadent meal, and best served with a full-bodied red wine, potatoes, a lovely salad or side vegetable, and possibly even a baguette. In the photo it is served with roasted potatoes and a green salad dressed in a light vinaigrette with a little bit of goat cheese crumbled on top – heavenly!
What you need:
plenty of salt (I used Maldon)
bay leaves, fresh or dried, enough to have 2-4 per leg
garlic cloves, sliced thinly, enough for half a clove per leg
duck fat, enough to cover the legs (olive oil is a substitute if you absolutely can’t get the duck fat)
What you do:
Remove the duck legs from their packaging and lay them on paper towels. Blot the legs dry.
Cut excess skin and fat off the bottom of the legs; reserve it to render the fat. Keep the skin on the top of the leg – when you cook them later the skin will become deliciously crispy.
Sprinkle salt in the bottom of a flat dish, then toss in a few peppercorns and bay leaves. Place the legs, skin side up, on top of the salt. Sprinkle more salt over the legs, then place bay leaves, sliced garlic and peppercorns on top of the legs. Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
Preheat the oven to 110°C (225°F).
Remove the garlic, pepper corns and bay leaves from the duck legs and brush off as much salt as you can.
Place the legs in a single layer in a high-sided oven-proof dish.
On low heat melt the duck fat. Pour the fat over the duck legs. If they are not quite submerged in fat, add some olive oil to top them up. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook for three hours, until the meat is almost falling off the bone.
Allow the legs and fat to come to room temperature to refrigerate until used. The legs can be refrigerated in the fat until they are to be used.
To prepare the legs for your astonishingly awesome dinner, remove the legs from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature so that the fat softens.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Remove the legs from the fat, scraping off excess fat and saving it for later use (such as roasting potatoes or making another batch of confit de canard).
Heat a cast-iron or other oven-proof frying pan on high heat, adding some of the duck fat. Place the legs skin side down in the pan, then place them in the oven for about 15 minutes. By this time they should be easy to turn over, and you can put them back in the oven for about three more minutes.
This frittata makes a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner with a salad, and it is also extremely delicious served cold the next day. I’ve made frittata in the past, but I’m finally happy with how this one turned out – practice makes perfect! It’s quite simple to make, and you can cook it in a frying pan on the stove-top, or you can finish it in the oven.
I used a cast-iron frying pan, but you can use whatever kind of frying pan you have. If you’re going to put it in the oven, make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle. I have read that you can cover a plastic handle with aluminum foil to protect it, but I haven’t tried it myself.
You can put whatever kind of herbs you like in your frittata; I used fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano.
To prepare the potatoes: If you are using smaller potatoes, slice them about 1 cm thick. For larger potatoes, peel and cube them, about 2cm cubes. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
In the frying pan heat half of the olive oil on medium heat, then fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. Add the herbs, some grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, then beat them in.
You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan, especially up the sides, so the frittata won’t stick.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the frying pan along with the onions and garlic. Pour the eggs over top, then distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan. With the heat on medium-low, place a lid on the frying pan and let the frittata cook for 6-8 minutes.
At this point, if the frittata is not too liquidy, you can flip it. To do this, loosen the edges with a knife, then place a plate on top of the pan and flip the frittata onto plate. Slip the frittata back into the frying pan and cook without a lid for about 5 minutes. Now… if you don’t want to do this flipping thing, you can simply put it under the broiler for a few minutes – Watch It Carefully! You don’t want it to burn, you just want to firm up the egg until it has just set. No browning necessary; we want the egg to remain tender.
Enjoy it while it’s hot, or allow the frittata to cool, then refrigerate and eat it within a few days.
I have seen a number of recipes for roasted chickpeas lately, but I wasn’t very interested in making them because of a bad experience with some chalky store-bought roasted chickpeas. For some reason I decided to give them a try, and was really happy with the result. They come out just the right texture, not too dry, not too soft. I love the bit of saltiness topping off the creamy eggplant and tahini sauce. Add the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a pretty perfect vegan meal.
This dinner is quite simple to make. Most of the work is done by the oven, roasting the eggplant and the chickpeas, and while it is roasting you just have to whip up a quick sauce.
I made this a few months ago, and I didn’t actually measure the sauce ingredients, so this is my best estimate of the amounts I used. I cobbled this recipe together from ideas I’ve seen in various cookbooks, most notably the Ottolenghi (drool) cookbooks.
What you need:
1 – 540 mL can chickpeas
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
3 – 4 long and skinny, or 8 small eggplants
For the sauce:
1/3 cup tahini paste
2/3 cup greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup water or more as needed
parsley to garnish
pomegranate seeds, of they are in season. Chopped dried sour cherries might be nice too.
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean towel. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper and cumin. Spread out into a single layer on a baking tray.
Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side up on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
Roast the chickpeas and eggplants for 30-40 minutes, tossing the chickpeas halfway through the time. The eggplant should be very tender when you poke it with a fork. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy, but not hard. It’s a good idea to test the chickpeas a few times in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
While the oven is doing its thing you can make the sauce. Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly add the water to make a pourable yet still thick sauce. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed.
Plate the eggplant, drizzling the sauce over them, and then top with the chickpeas. Garnish with chopped parsley and optional pomegranate.