Posts Tagged ‘Sunday’

Piparkukas

February 9, 2011

Well, better late than never!

Before Christmas I embarked on the difficult task of making Latvian gingerbread (Piparkukas). With the help of two great friends, the lengthy process was complete with good conversation, knife mastery and champagne. My dad was very well known for making the thinnest cookies (think potato chip thin) and I did my best to fill his shoes. Although my standards were set extremely high, I think that our end result was pretty good.  

This is another secret family recipe (sorry!), but please enjoy the photos (thanks Lisa!). Please also excuse my messy “bed head”. It was a Sunday.

My cat Isla is always a big help in the kitchen 🙂

The Garden is Back

September 26, 2010

I don’t even know how long it’s been since my last post, but I am happy to announce that I am ready to pick up where I left off.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult. After a 15 year battle with brain cancer, I lost my father on August 31, 2010. My dad had been in and out of the hospital since February, when we learned that his cancer was back. He underwent lengthy treatments, physiotherapy and attempts at rehabilitation. His last few months were spent in palliative care at Bridgepoint Health. Being just a few minutes away, my visits were very frequent.  It gave me so much joy bringing him home-cooked food, his favourite chocolate and pictures that made him smile. He was the most courageous, giving, thoughtful and sincere person I have ever known. His strength and passion for life, no matter how limited, is something that I will never forget. There isn’t one day that has gone by that I don’t think about him. I really miss him, but know that he is finally free. Thank you to all of my beautiful friends and family for being so supportive.

Cooking has always been my go-to hobby of choice. It helps me relax, keeps me busy and is my way of being creative. I owe much of my passion for food to my dad. He cooked a lot and was pretty good at it. He didn’t complain when I started taking over the family kitchen. He did, however, give me hard time about keeping it clean. He was also a great dishwasher.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Sunday is my favourite day to cook and today was no exception. I scored an incredible deal on a pork loin big enough to feed a party of 12 for less than ten bucks at the grocery store…perfect for braised tacos. We’re huge fans of Chipotles and I think I did a pretty darn good job replicating their pork carnitas. Braising meat is incredibly simple, you just need time. That’s why doing it on a Sunday is perfect! We’ll also have enough leftovers for lunch (probably until Friday).

Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp chili
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Mix all of these spices up in a bowl and rub it into the pork. I like to cut the pork into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process a bit. This also creates more surface area for the rub. I also cut off much as much excess fat as I can. A little is ok, but I don’t like my braised meat too fatty. This is also a great technique to use with pork shoulder.

For extra flavor, slit the pork in various locations and stuff these slits with chopped garlic and ginger (2 cloves garlic and 1 tbsp ginger is plenty).

Place the coated pieces of meat in a casserole dish and cook uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes (do not add any liquid or anything else to the casserole during this step). This initial cooking time creates a bit of a crust on the pork before the braising step, as well as a ton of extra flavour.

After 45 minutes, add water to the casserole to fill the dish about 1/3 of the way to the top. I like to add a little bit of beef OR chicken soup base to the water for extra flavour, but this isn’t necessary. Cover the casserole with foil and cook in a 325 oven for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, the meat should fall apart at the touch. Pull it all apart using two forks and top your taco the way you like it! Today, I made coleslaw for extra crunch.

Here’s one of my favourite pictures of my dad and I, summer camping as a kid

Stuffed Shells

March 23, 2010

For whatever reason, I’ve been really taping into my inner Italian.  After all, who can resist the infamous FWPP (fashion, wine, pasta and pizza)? And yes… I did just make that up.

This week, my Sunday night dinner project had stuffed pasta shells on the menu.  I decided to fill them with a Bolognese/lasagna style meat sauce, complete with copious amounts of mozzarella cheese. Is your mouth watering yet?

I was extremely pleased with the result and really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today. The assembly did take a little bit of time, but the end result was well worth it!

Stuffing

  • 1 package extra lean ground beef (or chicken, sausage, turkey…whatever you prefer)
  • 1 bottle tomato sauce (to avoid sodium induced jar sauces try this recipe by Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • ½ an onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by placing all of the veggies that are coarsely chopped into a food processor (if you don’t have one, you can use a grater, but this method will take much longer). Mix until all the veggies are finely chopped.

In a deep pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the veggie mixture for about 5-10 minutes on medium high to build flavour.

Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the can of tomato paste and sauté for another 5 minutes to keep building on this flavour.

Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring from time to time. Let the mixture cool a little bit before handling and then stir in 2 cups of the grated cheese.

Cook the large pasta shells according to package directions.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a large baking dish or casserole.

Spoon in about a tbsp of the mixture in each shell and then place in the baking dish, in a single layer. Once all the shells are stuffed, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (add more if you wish). Bake for about 20 minutes until all the cheese is melted and golden brown.

I served them with asparagus that I roasted on a cookie tray for ten minutes while the shells were in the oven. I drizzled them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a tsp of dijon mustard, a minced garlic clove and salt and pepper.