A Lot of Things Is Moving!!!

Hello my loyal readers! (Mom, Lori & Alana)

So I started this blog without a whole lot of direction.  Planning to just blog about daily life and so on…but as I’ve gotten into it, I’ve realized what I really enjoy is sharing my yummy recipes.  So I’m going to follow that direction and move over to a new food blog called A Lot of Yum.

So you may be thinking to yourself – wow thats a great name!…but did she realize it sounds a lot like A Lot of …another kind of website… Why in fact I did!!  Maybe it will bring in new traffic…because really isn’t a food blog a bit of food porn anyway?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  And also, if you’re a fan of what I’ve been doing here in my short run, please follow me over there too!

See you soon and I can’t wait to share A Lot (more) of Yum with you!

Only The Best Tartiflette…

If you are on a low-fat diet, look away now. Or don’t. But I warn you, once you read what’s below, you won’t be able to resist.  And how can you.  I mean I’m talking bacon, cheese, cream, potatoes.

Tartiflette

With all this horrible cold, wet and windy weather, I was craving something warm and comforting.  I first came across this recipe in Delicious Magazine. A Tartiflette is a very traditional French dish made with Reblochon cheese.  I, however, mix it up and do mine with a soft blue cheese. I also add a few other less traditional ingredients like dried herbs, mushrooms and courgette.  For some reason if I add a few vegetables I feel a whole lot better about consuming all that yummy cheesy, creamy, bacony goodness. This is also a great meal to make with leftovers from a roast chicken dinner – using the leftover chicken and even the leftover vegetables!

Tartiflette

So with the twins fully entrenched in some serious train track building, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite comfort foods.

P.S My mouth is already watering…

Tamara’s Tartiflette

Tartiflette

Ingredients:

  • 3 cooked chicken breasts or the leftovers from a roasted chicken – shredded
  • 3-4 medium sized waxy potatoes sliced thin
  • 200g of smoked bacon – I used traditional French Lardons
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 courgette – sliced thin
  • 200g of chestnut mushrooms – sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons of flour (or you can use arrowroot powder for grain/gluten free)
  • 250g of soft blue cheese chopped
  • 200ml of chicken stock
  • 200ml of double cream
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200C and grease a roasting dish. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the bacon.  Cook the bacon until it just starts to crisp up.  Remove and set aside.  Add the onion to the frying pan and cook until soft.  Once soften, add the herbs, mushrooms and courgette and again, cook until they start to soften. Once softened, add the bacon back in and sprinkle over the flour.  Mix to combine. Take of the heat and set aside.

If you don’t have any leftover chicken, poach the chicken breasts in a pot of stock for about 10-15 minutes. Take the chicken out and shred. Add your potatoes to the pot of stock (or a pot of boiling water) and cook for 5 minutes, then drain.  Mix together the chicken stock, cream and a dash of salt and pepper.

Now you’re ready to assemble. I like to do two layers. First some potatoes, then veg, then chicken, liquid and 1/3 of your cheese. Repeat one more time then cover the whole top in a layer of potatoes.  Put in the oven and cook for 40 minutes until the potatoes are nice and brown.  Add the remaining 1/3 cheese to the top with 15 minutes left.  Remove from the oven and ideally let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it – although I’ve never been able to wait – but when you go back for seconds the sauce will have thickened up a bit and taste even better.  This is just as delicious the next day.

Tartiflette

Take A Break From The Negotiations…

You know that funny blog, Reasons My Son Is Crying? Well today mine was because I offered grapes.  Apparently just the offer was enough to set him off…even though most days he’ll eat an entire pack. Thats the pain beauty of toddlers, you never know what you’re going to get.

So that’s why its so nice to have a few dishes in your mealtime arsenal that don’t involve negotiating for every bite.  I already shared one of our favorites – the veggie pancake – and today I’m sharing my recipe for Fried Rice, which I might add is popular with the whole family – not just the crazy little ones. Just like the pancakes, you can add any vegetables you have in the fridge and/or leftover meat. I often add ground chicken or even frozen shrimp. We order a cheeky takeaway more than I like to admit – don’t judge me – and I always save the rice to make this dish the next day. Using cold, leftover rice is best as it holds its shape and texture better than fresh prepared.

Loaded Vegetable Fried Rice

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Ingredients:

  • leftover rice Vegetable Fried Rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 courgette
  • handful green beans or mangetout
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 a pepper – any colour
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or oyster sauce
  • olive oil

Using a food processor – or your cutting board and knife – fine dice all your vegetables. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok.  Add your vegetables and saute until soft.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Beat your eggs in a small bowl or cup.  Push your vegetables to the side of the pan and pour in the eggs letting them cook before incorporating them into the vegetables.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Once your egg is cooked and combined with the vegetables, add your leftover rice.  Heat through, stirring occasionally.  Add your soy and hoisin sauce and continue to stir to combine, making sure the sauces are mixed through evenly and you’re done!  A super fast and easy meal to feed yourself or the family.

Physiology of Foie Gras

Whether you are for or against fois gras, this is a really great article that puts the practice into perspective through the biology of the bird. Read the research and decide for yourself whether this is humane or not.

scienceandfooducla

Photo Credits: (flickr/Ulterior Epiculture) Photo Credits: (flickr/Ulterior Epicure)

Decadent, diseased, silky, sinful. The adjectives that follow foie gras range from the disgusting to the luxurious. The fattened liver of a duck or goose polarizes people, and there seems to be no middle ground wherein a person can both enjoy foie gras and ethically question it. Because it is such a controversial food, the discourse surrounding it is often steeped in emotion, but the best way to make an informed, fact-based decision is through science. Here we will examine physiology, pathology, and a bit of genetics regarding waterfowl and foie gras in an attempt to promote overall awareness of what we eat (or don’t eat).

Foie gras is French for fatty liver, and that is exactly what it is. The liver of a bird, usually a duck or sometimes a goose, that has been force-fed to the point of having a fat, enlarged liver. The…

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Vietnamese Kebabs

Hiya!

Don’t worry…you’re in the right place! I played around with the layout of my blog and found that I like this design better.  I hope you do too!

So I realized yesterday when trying to get my 2 overtired toddlers out of the stroller, up the stairs, clothes off and into bed, that it somewhat resembled when you had to get a drunk friend out of the bar, off the phone, in a cab, up the stairs and into bed.  So maybe life hasn’t changed as much as I thought…its just shifted. Although at least when I had to help a friend, chances were I was a little drunk too…

It can be hard to find these links. Those little bites of life that remind me of what it used to be like before these two came along.  Yes, its been a while since I had to help a friend like that, but at least I’m reminded that there were hard times then too. I’m learning that there is no perfect and that’s ok.

Which is why it’s ok that these Vietnamese Kebabs, which started off as lettuce wraps, ended up as a salad – I was just too tired to wrap them up.  If you have a little extra energy, I recommend you try it out!

Vietnamese Kebabs

Vietnamese Kebabs

Sorry about the pic…nighttime lighting 😦

For the kebabs:

  • 300 grams of pork belly cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 thumb of ginger – minced
  • 4 gloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (I used coconut but you can use olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • skewers soaked in water

For the wraps/salad:

  • salad leaves – I used butter lettuce
  • rice noodles
  • 1 julienned carrot
  • 1/4 julienned cucumber
  • pickled radishes 
  • 1/4 cup of chopped salted peanuts

Take all the ingredients for the pork, mix together in a bowl and let marinade for 20-30 minutes.  During this time, prepare your pickled radishes and put in the fridge.

Vietnamese Kebabs

Once your pork is ready, preheat the oven to 180C and skewer your pork. There should be enough for around 6 skewers with 3-4 pieces on each. Place your skewes on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until they are browned and a bit crispy.

Prepare your noodles by placing them in a bowl with a dash of rice vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

When you pork is done, assemble your wraps by taking a lettuce leaf, adding the noodles, carrot, cucumber, pork. Top with pickled radish (and a little drizzle of the pickle liquid) and chopped peanuts.

** Make this recipe grain free by omitting the rice noodles**

Baked Chicken Parm Meatballs

I am a comfort food cook.  I confess. I love hearty and indulgent meals, the kind you have to loosen your belt for. Sadly, I’m not 24 anymore and can’t eat like this all the time. BIG SIGH. Even now when we do crave one of these meals, I try to find alternatives that make them “a little” healthier. I developed this recipe when I was trying to reduce the amount of carbs we were eating (a stepping stone to grain free).  I had been making the chicken parm meatballs for a while – for some reason I have never really been into traditional chicken parm – but have loved the meatballs. So when we were reducing our carbs, I was looking for ways to still keep those “indulgent” meals without “cheating”. I came up with the idea of using nuts instead of breadcrumbs and it worked! Not only did it work, but it tasted so much better.  The nuttiness goes perfectly with the chicken and adds depth to the entire dish. I’ve tried this with a variety of nuts – pecans, hazelnuts – but have found that coarsely ground almonds to be the best for taste and texture.  This recipe should feed 4 or enough for leftovers.  I might add that these reheat beautifully or can be frozen, thawed and baked.

Grain Free Chicken Parm Meatballs

Grain Free Chicken Parm Meatballs

Meatballs

  • 500 grams of ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard (my secret ingredient that helps bind and keep the meatballs moist)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package of mini mozzarella balls
  • 250g of almonds coarsely ground
  • freshly grated parmesan for serving

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 jar of passata
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 1/2 aubergine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 200C. Put your chicken, mustard and seasonings in a bowl and mix until combined.  Be careful to not over handle the chicken, this can make it tough. Form your meatballs. Using your thumb, press one ball of mozzarella into each meatball, then roll in ground almonds. Place your completed meatballs on a lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until the nuts are nice and toasted.

Making Chicken Parm Meatballs

While the meatballs bake, make your sauce.  Saute your onion, carrots, courgette and aubergine until soft, add your oregano and cook for another minute and then add your passata and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the meatballs are done.  My boys don’t like “chunky” sauces so at this point I add some more water and then blend. You can do this too or leave it chunky – which is way better to mop up with toasty garlic bread… when you’re not totally grain free 🙂

Put some sauce on a plate, add your meatballs and grate some cheese over top. Ta da…even the toddlers will eat this up!  I might add that these meatballs made without the mozzarella taste really nice too…I make them and serve over pureed celeriac with a pomegranate reduction.  So make extra for the freezer and mix it up!

Chicken Parm Meatballs

Pancakes for Two

If you have never heard of Pancake Tuesday then you’re probably from the States… where instead of pancakes its King Cake. I’m originally from Canada and eating pancakes before ash wednesday is a tradition there, like in most commonwealth countries. This year, lent and Chinese New Year are colliding, so to honor both holidays, I am making Chinese Duck Pancakes.

Before moving to Asia, we had one firm rule while traveling – no eating from places that had pictures on the menu.  This rule has served us well (mostly to avoid tourist traps!) but when we moved to Shanghai and couldn’t read or speak the language, pictures on menus became much more appealing.  One of our first meals after we arrived in Shanghai was at a restaurant in a shopping mall near our hotel.  Thankfully it had pictures and we ordered what we could most easily recognize.  One of those items was duck with pancakes.  I still remember when it came to the table – a huge pile of duck all cut up – on the bone.  It wasn’t exactly how I had imagined it, but it was delicious!  I still remember it 5 years later…

Chinese Duck Pancakes

Chinese Pancakes with Duck and Hoisin

For the Duck:

  • 2 duck breast or if readily available, a whole duck
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • olive oil
  • hoisin sauce
  • cucumber green onions finely sliced for garnish

For the pancakes

  • 2 cups flour plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cold water
  • seseme oil
  • a pair of chop sticks

Start by preheating the oven to 150C. Place the duck on a rack inside a roasting dish, rub with oil and dust all over with the 5 spice.  Cook the breasts for 1.5 hours or a whole bird for 3, making sure to check on it periodically and removing some of the fat drippings as it cooks. Turn the heat up to 200C for the last 15-20 minutes to crisp up that skin.  When done, remove the bird and put it aside to rest.  Once cooled, tear the meat into pieces with your fingers or some forks.

Crispy Duck Breast

While your meat cools, make your pancake dough.  Place your flour in a bowl and mix in the hot water and then cold water, stirring with your chopsticks until a dough forms.  Dust a clean surface, turn out your dough and knead until it forms a smooth ball.  Let is rest under a clean damp towel for 20-30 minutes.  Once rested, roll your dough into a log and then cut the log into 10-12 pieces.  Sprinkle your board with more flour, taking one piece at a time (while the others rest under that damp towel) first pat it down into a free form pancake.  Brush the top with oil, then flip it over and roll it out to form a 6inch pancake.  Don’t worry if its not perfectly round – that’s how you know its homemade 😉

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet and add a drop of oil to coat.  Cook your pancake on one side until its brown and bubbling (about 1 minute) and then flip.  The second side will cook faster so make sure to keep an eye out! Keep your cooked pancakes under a damp cloth until serving.

*Sorry no photos of the pancakes. I was also trying to feed my boys their dinner at the same time – but I loosely followed this recipe – Mandarin Pancakes

To serve, take a pancake, add a good helping of the duck and garnish with fresh cucumber and spring onion.  Finish with a drizzle of hoisin sauce.  If your hoisin is too thick, thin it out with a little water.

This recipe left us with plenty of leftovers…and was just as delicious out of the fridge cold for breakfast.  Don’t take my word for it though…ask my two year old…who wouldn’t even let me finish this shot 🙂

Chinese Duck Pancakes

Brunch At Home – Sweet Potato Hash

I spent almost 10 years in New York during my 20s and a better part of that time was spent “brunching”.  I was in heaven. Breakfast or really brunch has always been my favorite meal of the day. So much so that my mother always said that I would end up having a wedding brunch instead of dinner…and that’s just what we did…and it was delicious.  Eggs and potatoes will always be my answer to the question “What would you eat as your last meal?”.

Now that we have the twins, going out for brunch is a rarity, so I make a brunch at home. Every. Single. Weekend… and sometimes for dinner too.  This is my go-to and something I developed when we started our grain free diet.  No more eggs benny on english muffins 😦 But even now when our diet has finished, it has remained a favorite.  There are so many ways to adapt this recipe to your own diet – swap out the bacon for portobellos, arugula for spinach or the goats cheese for shards of parmesan.  There a million different ways to make this tasty dish – let your imagination (or tastebuds!) go wild.

Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash

  • 1 sweet potato diced
  • 1 sweet vidalia onion or 1 red onion diced
  • 50 grams of bacon – diced
  • 1 half of a red pepper diced
  • 30 grams of goats cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • handful of arugula
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan and add potato, onion and bacon. Fry the hash until the potatoes start to soften, then add the red pepper.  Fry until the potatoes are cooked through, the bacon is crispy and the onion will be slightly charred. Remove from heat.

Sweet Potato Hash

Meanwhile, lets get those eggs started.  I make soft boiled eggs to go with this dish but you can make any kind you like!  To soft boil, I bring a pot to boil then add my eggs and cook for 4 minutes.  I then remove the eggs and place in a bowl of cold water.  Once cooled, they will peel easily. Peel and then place back in the hot water for an additional minute to warm through.  This will give you perfectly set whites with runny yolks.

Sweet Potato Hash with Soft Eggs

To serve, add the hash to the plate top with arugula and cheese and eggs.  Drizzle with a little high quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

Pork Cheek Tacos

A few years ago when we were in Tokyo, we had this amazing meal of tuna jowl and it was life changing.  Still to this day that meal is in my top five – very near the top.  I had learned long ago from Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations that the cheeks were the best part of the animal and this meal proved it.  From then on, I have looked for cheeks on menus and at the butcher.

Which leads me to to this recipe – there is no better way to make tacos than with some slow cooked pork cheeks.  When cooked properly, the cheeks have this creamy, melt in your mouth texture and after a couple hours of braising or in the slow cooker they are falling apart.  Yum!!  Tacos are no joke and I take them pretty seriously, that’s why this recipe has a lot more steps than many of my others.  It’s not difficult, it just requires quite a few components but let me assure you that the effort is repaid ten-fold and these tacos are delicious!

Pork Cheek Tacos

Pork Cheeks

For the cheeks:

  • 300g of pork cheeks
  • 1 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 400ml of water
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder (or more for if you like it extra spicy)

For the garnishes:

Avocado “salsa”

  • 1 avocado
  • handful of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons of diced pickled red onions (or you can use regular red onions)
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slaw and sauce

  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded white cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of cream fresh or sour cream
  • 1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce diced or 1 Tablespoon chipotle pepper salsa
  • zest and juice of half a lime
  • salt

For Serving

  • 8 flour gorditas
  • pomegranate seeds for serving

Sprinkle pork cheeks with salt and pepper, pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a hot pan or heavy bottomed braising pot and sear your cheeks.  Once seared, remove the cheeks and pour in your tomatoes and water to deglaze – scraping up all the nice cheeky bits.  Put your pork cheeks into the slow cooker along with your onions, garlic and spices and then pour over the the tomato water mixture.  Alternatively, place everything back into your braising pot.  Cook the cheeks on low in your slow cooker for 6-8 hours or in the oven at 150C for 3 hours.

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When your cheeks are done, remove them from the sauce. Take one cheek and some of the onions and break it up onto a lined baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet under a hot broiler until it crisps up and gets charred along the edges.  Keep on eye on it!

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Take the sauce from the pan and drain it using a fine sieve, making sure to push down to release the juices from the remaining tomatoes, onions and garlic.  Take the sieved sauce and place it in a pan to reduce over a medium heat. Once reduced into a bbq sauce texture, break up your pork cheeks into the sauce and combine – including the crispy pork.  The burnt edges of the crispy pork will give it a nice smoky taste. Reduce the heat and keep warm until serving, stirring occasionally.

For the Tortillas:

Preheat your oven to 200C.  “Hang” your tortillas over the oven rack and bake until crisp – around 10 minutes but keep an eye out!  This will create a nice hard taco shell.  Thanks Pintrest!

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For the Salsa:

Super simple! Chop up your avocado, tomatoes and onions, pour over lime juice and salt, mix to combine.

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For a quick pickled onion, check out this recipe:  http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/quick-pickled-onions

For the Slaw and Sauce:

Combine yogurt, creme fresh, chipotle, lime juice and zest and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine your cabbage.  Pour over 3/4 of the sauce and mix to combine.  Reserve 1/4 sauce for serving.

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Now you’re finally ready to dish up! Place the meat, slaw, salsa into the taco shell, drizzle some sauce on top then finish over with some pomegranate seeds.

Pork Cheek Tacos

Dinner For One

My husband travels quite a bit and most of the time that means toast for dinner. But sometimes I take the opportunity to make a yummy salmon dish – he’s not so crazy about salmon.  This particular dish was inspired by a meal my mom recently had at a local restaurant where she and my dad are staying in southern Spain.  She raved about the dish so much that I decided I would give it a try…and it did not disappoint.  It was delicious and very easy to prepare. Salmon and rosemary are a great combination!

Salmon En Papillote

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  • serving of salmon
  • 1 potato sliced very thin (I used a mandolin)
  • handful of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
  • zest of half a lemon and its juices
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 bunch of arugula (rocket) for serving
  • grated parmesan for serving
  • 1 piece of parchment paper

Preheat oven to 180C.  Lay your thinly sliced potato in a row on the parchment paper, making sure not to pile them too much or they won’t cook in time (lesson learned from mine last night!).  Pour a teaspoon of olive oil over the potatoes. Place salmon on top, then the rosemary on top of the salmon. Spread the tomatoes around the salmon. Sprinkle lemon zest and lemon juice over the salmon, then add your salt and pepper.  Rip up your butter and place it around your fish.

Wrapping the papillote

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Take the length side edges of the parchment paper and fold them together. Keep folding down until you reach the salmon, then take the edges of the wrapper and fold them under.  You can also tie the ends with some kitchen twine.

Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To serve, open the paper, add the arugula and shaved parmesan and drizzle with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and you’re ready to go.

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