Monday, March 30, 2009

McDonald's facing a moral dilemma? That can't be good...

From a Humane Society press release:

McDonald's shareholders will soon receive proxies asking them to vote on The Humane Society of the United States' resolution urging the fast-food chain to stop lagging behind its competitors and start switching to cage-free eggs. A representative of The HSUS will present the resolution at the company's May shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Ill.

Unlike many of its competitors, McDonald's-U.S. only uses eggs from hens confined in battery cages—barren enclosures so tiny, the birds can barely move an inch their entire lives. McDonald's closest U.S. competitor, Burger King, started using cage-free eggs two years ago. Retailers such as Quiznos, Denny's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. also use cage-free eggs.

Read more here.

Let's hope they do the right thing. 

Light pastas

It's time to abandon heavy winter pastas and casseroles for (what else?) light sping/summer pastas!

I feel another series coming on. For the first installment, I've chosen to feature my favourite light pasta from Giada's repertoire. (No adaptation necessary.)



1 (10-oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (oil reserved)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup dry white wine
8 oz angel hair pasta (1/2 a standard package)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Heat 2 tbsp of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 min. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 min, stirring constantly. Add the wine and sundried tomatoes and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 2 min.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture and toss to coat, adding some reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and parsley and stir. Mound the pasta into bowls and serve.




PS — LCBO shoppers: This is the perfect amount for the recipe. You can find them by cash. (You're welcome.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tips for tenderloin

Pork tenderloin with mustard sauce.

Tonight's post will focus on recipe alternatives. This recipe's alternatives to be extract.

You see, a reader recently called me out for my inaccurate pan sizing. (I indicated a 8x8 pan pan while the pics clearly show a rectangular pan. (For the record: I doubled the recipe and forgot to note it.)

Thankfully my omission did not affect the finshed product, I was assured, but it did make me realize the importance of adapting cooking instructions to accommodate whatever equipment that someone might have on hand. After all, very few of us have a full complement. For example even I don't have anything approach the super-huge skillet required to make Rachael Ray's Franks 'n Beans Casserole.

Ingredient alternatives are also good. (I always welcome a good cilantro substitute.)

A good example of this recipe adaptation/alteration would be how to cook pork tenderloin when you don't own a non-stick oven safe skillet that the the original recipe calls for. (Most non-stick skillets are not. And , if you're not sure, Iwouldn't risk it. And, if the handle is plastic, I will not be held accountable for what might happen if you do risk it. )


Stovetop/oven method: Season tenderloin with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, sear on all sides (6–8 min). Tranfer skillet to oven and roast at 350˚ for 10–15 min.

Stovetop method: Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over high heat and sear meat on all sides. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover skillet; cook pork, turning occasionally for 20–25 min.

Oven method: Season meat with salt and pepper. Cut 5 shallow diagonal slices in meat greae a baking pan and bake at 450˚ for 25–30 min.

Note: Pork should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 140˚.


Pan sauce: After pork has been removed from the pan, stir together 1/4 cup grainey mustard, 2 tbps Dijon mustard, 2 tbps sour cream and pan juices.

Oven method coatings/rubs: Hoisin sauce, Honey garlic sauce, marmalade; Chinese five spice.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sei what, Gwyneth?

Photo from GOOP. (The stuff that looks like meat is seitan.)

First came news of the amazing curative powers of coconut water, now Gwyneth is spreading the word about a new superfood — seitan.

Never been one to shy away meat substitutes, (I'm a big fan of the Yves line of products) I googled this unfamiliar ingredient.

One of the first hits was from the website of the venerable Real Canadian Superstore chain. There they describe seitan's flavour and texture as "interesting" under the heading "Learning to Enjoy Seitan." Hmm... not terribly enticing, Superstore, but I'm too intrigued not to try it.

I'll attempt a GOOP seitan recipe next week. If I'm feeling really adventurous, I can even make my own seitan from wheat flour.

And, yes Setian also appears to be a punk band. (I'm purposely not linking to their MySpace.)




Where Jamie and I collide: My weird sandwich

I remember, years ago, watching an episode of one of Jamie's shows, I think it was Oliver's Twist, in which Jamie makes a sandwich with cheese and picked onions.

He admitted to the viewer that the combo sounded strange, but assured his audience that it tasted great.

Jamie does this a lot. So, how did I know he was telling the truth this time?

Because I had been making a very similar sandwich for years. I have to credit my grade 11 home ec teacher (formerly the school's football coach) for this recipe.


Grated old cheddar
Sliced olives (with or without pimento)
Just enough mayonaise so that the mixture comes together (should not be goopy!)

Spread filling on toast and serve with Campbell's tomato soup.

If I find Jamie's version, I'll compare our recipes. But, if memory serves, I'm pretty sure that both are equally strange.

Don't knock this until you try it. (I'm sure Jamie would agree.)




Cooking with Jamie – Part 3: Jools' favourite Sunday afternoon pasta

I cooked an old (already blogged about) favourite tonight, so I decided to post about another recipe that I enjoyed from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.

Here is my adaptation. (I've added a narrative title in honour of Jamie):


Olive oil
1 red onion , peeled and finely chopped
1 to 2 fresh red chilies, deseeded and finely chopped (leaves in a few seeds for extra heat)
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp prepared basil pesto*
1 can (28 ounces) good-quality plum tomatoes
2 cans (10 ounces) good-quality tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound, 2-ounce good-quality rigatoni or penne
1 to 2 lemons , zest and juice
Small handful freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onion, chili, and cinnamon  on a medium to low heat for 5 minutes until onion has softened and is slightly sweet. Turn up the heat and add your tomatoes, pesto, tuna and a good pinch of salt. Break the tomatoes up using the back of a spoon, then bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in a pan of salted boiling water according to the pack instructions. When al dente, drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water.

Toss the pasta into the tuna and tomato sauce, the lemon zest and juice and Parmesan, and mix together well. Loosen the pasta with a little of the reserved cooking water if needed. Check the seasoning and serve immediately.

A healthy and delicious recipe that I will be adding to my rotation!




*I substituted pesto for the basil and oil of the original recipe because I had forgotten to add basil to the grocery list.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two extremes of the food culture spectrum

Only Slate can make this little guy seem Machiavellian.

I have to plead ignorance. I was not aware of this disturbing food trend.

This is kind of thing that cam turn reasonable people off the idea of having children.

Your kids can have the sidewalks, the food courts, the cool accessories, but they cannot and should not be the next celebrity chefs!

I agree with Slate — this phenomenon has gone too far!

Thankfully, Dlisted introduced me, and I'd imagine many, many others, to something completly different.

Meet Clara, of Depression Cooking (as in Great Depression):

I can't tell you how much I love this series. (Also, I can't help but mention that episode one features the "reduction" pasta cooking style, which happens to be quite trendy right now.) If nothing else, this one-of-a-kind cooking show certainly captures the zeitgeist.

You can subscribe on You Tube, and the webisodes will be available on DVD soon.

Thanks MK!




Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nobody's perfect or Clearly I still have issues with Rachel Ray

According to Ray: It's franks and beans, corn dogs and chili dogs all in one!
I'd add that it's also a disaster in your oven.

This week let me know that we, as a society, are getting over our collective issues with Rachael Ray. In honour of this, I decided to make a recipe that I've been wanting to try for a while.

First, I should clarify that I always thought that RR was undeserving of the enormous amount of hate that was regularly directed at her. There was even a website dedicated to hating her — the aptly named, "Rachael Ray Sucks!," that I'm glad to see has been abandoned. My only real issue with her was when she decided to ruin both salad and mini cheeseburgers by creating the heinous Mini Cheeseburger Salad.

Then came the Franks and Beans Casserole (video; recipe) — a dish that I thought would be suitable for what I decided would be he last casserole of the year, and kind of appropriate for eating while watching Rock of Love Bus (if that's what you choose to do with your Sunday evening).*

Unfortunately, the recipe didn't work out. I should have watched the video, instead of just following the recipe. Had I done that, I would have noticed the following:

1. Her skillet was anything but standard-sized (the recipe calls for large, not enormous).

2. She seems to suggest that you should follow the package directions for prep on corn muffins box, whereas the recipe just calls for corn muffin mix by weight and adding the listed liquid ingredients.

3. Her hot dogs seem to "reduce" quite a bit; mine didn't. Probably because mine were free-range organic all-beef hot dogs, and definitely looked different.**

The result: My largest casserole dish could not contain the mixture, the cornmeal topping never fully cooked, and the hot dogs tasted kinda funny. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.




*Happy Birthday Brett!
**I guess there
is no natural hot dog. 

Click here for my second attempt.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cooking with Jamie – Part 2: Lemon drizzle cake

I made a Jamie dessert too! This one is almost perfect — I found the icing to be a little chalky. (I must find a suitable alternative.)



1/2 cp unslated butter, softened
1/c cu plus 1 tablespoon of sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
1 1/2 cups ground almonds,
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 scant cup self-rising flour, sifted

1/3 cup sugar
7 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 350˚. 

Using electric mixter beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one beating each in well. Fold in your ground almonds, poppy seeds, the lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Spoon the mixture into a prepared cake pan – cook for 40 min.

Make the syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a pan untilthe sugar has disolved. While the cak eis still warm, make holes in the op of it with a tooth pick or fork or in my case chopstick) and pour the syrup over.

To make the icing, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, and stir until smooth. When the cake is almost cool, pour the icing carefully over top.




Cooking with Jamie – Part 1: Old school pork chops

One of my new year's cooking resolutions was to cook a recipe from Cook with Jamie, Jamie Oliver's newest cookbook. (I had bought it as a Christmas present for a family member before realizing that it might be a little advanced for said person.)

But, I'm not only going to cook one recipe. This week, I'm cooking three!

First, though, a breakdown of my longtime love/hate relationship with Jamie:


— His insistence on free-range meat and meat products (Morrissey can suck it!)
Jamie's School Dinners
— His unwillingness to compromise his standards (including his dissing of Bill Clinton on School Dinners! [so sorry I couldn't find a clip of that])
— His habit for wrapping things in bacon (you really can't do go wrong with that)
— His love of legumes as sides
— His instructional, unpretentious tone


— The Jamie vernacular (especially "pukka" [that was even unpleasant to type])
— Overly complicated recipes (while he aims to appeal to the beginner cook, he an get pretty fancy [which is how I ended up with the book])
— Unappealing recipes (I am not a picky eater, but some of his recipes look questionable (like his "Oozy Egg Ravioli")
— His intimidating coolness

On the whole, as you can see, I really do love Jamie. Here is one of his best recipes:


Ingredients (I halved the recipe)

4 bone-in pork chops
hand full of sage leaves
2 Macintosh apples
4 oz stilton or taleggio
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 400ยบ.

Using a sharp knife, make 2cm deep cuts all along the fatty side of them. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.

Pour a lug of olive oil (1 tbsp) into a hot pan. Carefully place your chops in it and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. If you need to, open out the little pieces of fat along the edge so they don’t stick together.

When the chops are nearly done, lift them out of the pan and put them on to an oiled baking tray. Add the apple wedges and a knob of butter (1 tbsp) to the pan and fry until lightly golden. Lay wedges of apple on top of each pork chop.  Top each apple stack with a few sage leaves. Top it all off with a knob of Stilton or taleggio. Put the baking tray into the oven for 4 to 6 minutes until everything is golden and melted.

Enjoy kickin' it old school!