Monday, October 29, 2007

Hokey Pokey

Today I made Hokey Pokey! I was watching my number one food idol, Nigella Lawson, and she was whipping up a collection of fast eats. Since I had 10 minutes to spare, I decided to give hokey pokey a try -- a honey comb candy that is like sponge candy or the inside of a Crunchie Bar. Mine turned out not bad at all -- very tasty and sticks to your teeth! The problem I had was that the top was very sticky. How can I stack pieces in a container if they stick? I may have used too much syrup, and perhaps spreading it out was not a good idea. You should just plop it on parchment and let it be. I will try again next time, and will cover it in chocolate. I want to make the next batch drier and less sticky. Either way, it is a fun thing to make!

Hokey Pokey, Foodnetwork
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. You can't stir once the pan's on the heat, though.

Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt and then turn to goo and then a bubbling mass the color of maple syrup - this will take 3 minutes or so.

Off the heat, whisk in the baking soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing cloud of aerated pale gold. Turn this immediately onto a piece of baking parchment or greased foil.

Leave until set and then bash at it, so that it splinters into many glinting pieces.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tomaso's Pizzeria

Tomaso's Pizzeria
276 Bedford Highway, Halifax

My husband and I have been enjoying Tomaso’s delicious pizza for a couple of years now, and we have rarely been disappointed with it. The nice thing about this place is the variety of pizzas and the option for traditional or thin crust. Last night we ordered the usual: deluxe, which is not to be confused with the works. It is like a traditional works pizza, but they add olives (which I get them to hold), pineapple and hot peppers. On occasion they don’t brown the pizza enough, much to my husband’s dismay, but last night this pie was perfecto! I have also enjoyed The Inferno, Greek Style and Spinaci & Galo Arrostito. In addition to great pizza, their wings are awesome … when they have them available...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

The Greeks aren't huge Thanksgiving celebrators, but we always have someone throwing a nice dinner on that day. In this case, we ate really well at my parent's house. There was no turkey, but my mother made her mouthwatering prime rib roast. I don't know alot of people who would chose turkey over prime rib.

My mother's yemista are delicious stuffed zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. They are juicy vessels of goodness that are covered with tasty crispy hats - my favorite!

These are the smoothest mashed potatoes in the world. Honest.

This plate of spanakopita was made using puff pastry - quite tasty, but lets be honest, nothing beats the kind with homemade philo...which I make!

Tiropites are tasty triangles filled with a feta cheese mixture. My mom's are great because they are generously stuffed and she does not go overboard on the butter!

The star of the show was the prime rib. This was melt in your mouth, fall off the bone perfection. I love a dinner table where people can have huge amounts of meat attached to a bone, Flintstones style. no shame in that!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Beef and Bean Burritos

I am not one to claim that I know what an authentic burrito tastes like. All I can says is that my recipe is pretty damn good! I haven’t made these in a while, and they were well worth the wait!

1. In a skillet sauté some finely chopped medium onion and a red pepper in some olive oil.
2. To the pan add some ground beef and brown it. When it is nice and browned, drain the excess grease from the pan.
3. Create a spice mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Add this to one cup of water and then add this mix to the pan. (You can also use Taco Seasoning).
4. Make sure to stir the pan once and a while.
5. Add 4 chopped small tomatoes and a can of red kidney beans which have been drained.
6. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Once the filling is done it’s time to roll the burritos! Set up accordingly:

1. Take a larger tortilla, add a couple tablespoons of shredded nacho cheese, and 2 table spoons of salsa.
2. Add a generous helping of the hamburger mix…but don’t go overboard!
3. Roll up the burrito – fold the 2 sides, then the end facing you, and then roll!
4. Place seam down on a cookie sheet.
5. Top each burrito with some taco sauce and nacho cheese.
6. Pop in the oven for 30mins, at 375 degrees.

I never made these with beans before, but they sure turned out great! Server with a salad or some rice and you are all set. I also do a chicken version with corn – also awesome!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Better Pictures

Taking good food pics is HARD! SO I pledge to improve the quality of the pics in later posts. I am finding it difficult taking pics in between cooking I guess.

Greek Style Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

Every Greek person has grown up eating lemon chicken and potatoes, and I am no exception. No matter how good the chicken is, I think everyone's favorite part of the dish is the potatoes. They are like flavor sponges that suck up this delicious lemon flavor that is incredible. So here we go:

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I bought a whole chicken already cut up, and marinated it in olive oil, lotsa lemon juice, a generous amount of salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. I added the chicken to a lightly oiled roasting pan. I then cut up some potatoes and added the same type of marinade to it. After adding the potatoes to the pan I added some whole small onions, which are always delicious.

To the roasting pan I added a low sodium chicken stock that almost reached the top of the chicken and potatoes, but not quite. You could do this without it, and use water instead, but IT IS NOT THE SAME! And into the oven it goes. After 30mins, flip the chicken, potatoes and onions and cover lightly with tinfoil. This will make the contents of the pan nice and steamy ... consider it a flavorful sauna for the delights you will be eating later. After another 30mins, remove tinfoil and cook for another 30mins.

If you see that there is no more liquid in the pan, add a little more stock or water. In the last bit of cooking, turn the broiler on and get the chicken and potatoes nice and crispy, and you're done! This really turned out great and if you make a lot you will not have to worry about making supper the next day---wonderful!

Bread Attempt #1

Well here's the scoop on my first serious attempt at bread making. I couldn't find the exact recipe I wrote down after a lesson with my mother in law, so I went by memory. Next time I will show the exact measurements, but for now, heres only a list of ingredients. This is a white bread recipe consisting of flour, water, vegetable oil, yeast, some sugar and salt, and then sesame seeds and an egg wash for the top.

I hand mixed the dough, so at first I was concerned that it wasn't as smooth as it was supposed to be, but I left it as is. I was quite satisfied with how it grew after the first rising of 2 hours.Seeing your dough rise successfully is quite a moment for a new baker. It's a really good feeling that soemthign did indeed go right! After the first rising I punched the dough down and then kneaded it again. Then I formed my loaves.I let them rise for another hour and again, they did me proud! I gave them a nice coat of an egg wash and topped them with sesame seeds.So in to the oven my beloved loaves of goodness went. The oven was set to 350 degrees and I kept them in for 45 mins, and then lowered the heat to 300 for the last 15 minutes.All and all the bread turned out really well. My husband, brother in law and his kids were my tasters and they all liked it! The only problem was that they spread out a bit and could have been higher in height. My mother said that I needed to knead the dough ALOT more after the first rise, and then the dough would have kept its shape more.

With some extra dough I made a little flat bread like my mother in law does, and it surely did not disappoint! I added some salt to the top, after applying the egg wash and sesame seeds, and voila - a very tasty flatbread---delicious!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grilled Haddock

I try to eat seafood at least once a week. If I am not the one making it, then I can just go to my parent's fish and chip shop and satisfy the craving there. Grilled haddock is easy, good for you and delicious. So there's no excuses for not being able to make it at home.

1. Get 4 haddock fillets. On both sides add plenty salt and pepper and olive oil.
2. To bread them, have 2-thirds flour and 1-third non-flavored dry breadcrumbs in a dish. (Sometimes I use the Italian ones too.)
3. In another dish, have an egg or 2 and a little bit of milk.
4. Lightly coat the fillets in the egg mixture and then lightly bread it in the flour mix. 5. Take the haddock to a preheated grill or pan that has been brushed with olive oil.
6. Don't flip or mess with it until one side is nice and golden - 3-5 mins.
7. After the flip, add some lemon juice -- from a real lemon -- not that plastic coffin thing! You can also drizzle some olive oil on the top too.

The haddock turned out great --- it has never really failed me. We had some veggies, bread and a salad to complete the meal...beautiful!
I didn't have any feta for the salad...but it was still great for dunking the bread!

Garden Veggies - Greek Style

My husband tells me that when I cook zucchinis, green beans or broccoli, it is never soft enough. The Greek way of cooking these veggies makes them very very soft. I myself like veggies bursting with color and some texture to it. The crispier approach to oven roasted and boiled vegetables often falls on deaf ears with the older generation. My mother, mother in law, and grandmother always says its tastier when it is softer. Since they have been cooking longer than me, and since my husband grew up in Greece, once in a while I give in. (And by the way...the zucchinis and eggplants were grown in my parent's garden --- wicked!)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut up some potatoes, zucchini, eggplant in nice big wedges.
3. Quarter up 2 medium onions and add all veggies to roasting pan.
4. Generously add salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil (from Greece, ofcourse), and toss.
5. Add a 14oz can of tomato sauce and fill the can halfway with water, and add that.
6. Pop it it in the oven.
7. After 30mins, lightly cover with tinfoil for the veggies to steam.
8. It depends on your oven, but the veggies need to be nice and soft ... remember, this recipe is to please the unchangeable Greek generation that loves the softness of super cooked zucchini, eggplants, etc.
9. After an hour and a half or so, I crank the broiler for a few minutes to crisp the veggies up.

In my opinion the vegetables were too soft, but my husband and best friend loved them, and said they were perfect. They were indeed tasty, so I will probably fix them up again. Some nice bread, olives and some feta cheese would definitely make the Greeks happy about this one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Prime Rib Roast

Since today was full of rain , I figured a nice roast would warm up the house. After consulting my mother via phone, I picked up some prime rib roast. Since my house has only 2 people, I picked up 2 nicely sized rib roasts instead of the huge ones my mother buys for the family. This is a good portion for plenty of leftovers. I tackled it this way:1. Preheated oven to 350°
2. Add a little olive oil to roasting pan.
3. Generously add salt, pepper and garlic powder to roasts. Add a little olive oil on top and rub all the spices and oil into the meat.
4. Cut up 2 medium onions, quartered, and add to pan.
5. Add a 14oz. can of tomato sauce to the pan and meat.
6. Put in oven.
7. Once the meat starts to brown, cover with tin foil. Unfortunately I did this 30mins in. I think I may have waited too long to cover the meat.
8. Add some potatoes and baby carrots at this point. Another mistake was adding too much salt to the potatoes.
I removed the meat after 2 hours--way too long. The meat near the bone was quite good, but a good portion was way too dry. The potatoes remained in the oven for another 30mins, but I cranked the heat to 400°.
After putting the broiler on for 3 minutes the veggies were done. The meal was still a good one, but I definitely have lots to learn in the roast department. A simple side salad and bread accompanied the meat and potatoes, so all and all, a satisfying night in from the rain.