Category Archives: HM Kitchen

Recipes, tips and experiments from our very own kitchen.

Double duty

When ever you make pasta sauce save 1/4 -1/2 cup and freeze it. Most pasta sauces make excellent pizza sauce and having them on hand makes a delicious, quick meal. Last night we had Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto and Brie Pizza. The roasted red pepper sauce was served on a nice pasta a few weeks back. Just thaw and spread on a naan crust, top with brie (boursin or a tangy goat cheese as well as a creamy ricotta would also work) and bake. The pesto comes from this recipe.

Pasta Sauce Reborn 1

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Pasta Sauce Reborn 4Tonight we thawed a puttanesca sauce (cooked down a bit to thicken) for a pizza topped with some sauteed, wild-caught Gulf shrimp and some Parmesan cheese. You can replace the jalapeno in this recipe with a teaspoon of chili flakes.

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Red Eye Gravy!

Woke up this morning with an appetite after an hour of snowshoeing in the Gatineaus last evening. While I took the dog out for her morning constitutional, Rob fried up last weeks left over ham, made flaky biscuits (pillsbury :P. He’s not that good), eggs and red eye gravy.

I first encountered red eye gravy at Puckett’s in Nashville, Tennessee, where I declared I could drink a mug of this deliciousness. There is not a lot of info on where this simple, Southern classic originated but I can only think it was born of necessity from scraps on hand. I imagine a scenario where a cowboy is at morning camp on his range far from home. He has fried up some ham and doesn’t want to waste the leavings. He needs some liquid to scrape up the caramelized porky bits and all he has is the dregs in his coffee cup. He tosses that in and creates the holy trinity of of Southern cooking. Sweet, Salty and Fat!

This mornings gravy is a bit sweet as our ham leavings include the drippings from our New Year’s Day ham. These were full of the glaze, which was prepared with bourbon laced maple syrup, so there is no way this can go wrong.

As with any very traditional dish, there are hundreds of variations in the recipes for making red eye gravy, but they all have a couple things in common. With our version, we were lucky to have delicious drippings from baking the ham earlier in the week. Without them, we would have made it this way.

Ham with Red-eye gravy
Melt I tbsp. butter in a pan and add ham. When ham is cooked, remove it to plate.
Add 1/2 cup black coffee to ham drippings, deglazing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan
Add 1/2 cup water
Add 1 tsp brown sugar if desired
Bring to boil. Serve on ham, or for dipping.

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New Year’s Ham & Beans

Welcome 2013! Happy New Year Everybody. Today signals the end of the holiday season. Tomorrow we head back to school and work and ugh…those resolutions we made to better  ourselves. To ring in the year, we decided to make a family dinner that echos a Southern US New Year’s tradition. Black-eyed peas, traditionally cooked with a pork product, diced onion and served with pepper vinegar is a dish thought to bring prosperity for the coming year. Wikipedia posits that this tradition dates back to the civil war era when Union troops sweeping through the south took all edible food stuffs they could find but left the peas that they considered animal fodder.

Today’s dinner will stray a bit from that tradition and reflect my family’s Canadian roots. Dinner this New Year’s Day is baked beans and ham. Beans require a long cooking time and despite using the same recipe time and again they do not always turn out the same. The texture can be more toothsome or soft, and the colour can be dark or less so. I am not sure what makes this difference but can only surmise that it lies with the beans themselves. Sunday dinners growing up often included a crock of beans and would not be complete without my mom declaring the beans “ruined”.  She was serious and I am still unclear what constituted ruined beans, but ruined they were, and delicious. Ruined beans have become a family joke.

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The ham was a small, bone-in ham that needed to be baked.  With 30 minutes left to go, we scored the outer skin of the ham and brushed on a glaze made from a wonderful maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels, grainy mustard and thyme.

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With a nod to Southern classics and our travels, leftovers will end up in a breakfast of ham, biscuits and red eye gravy made from the drippings of tonight’s ham. Stay tuned next week.

Baked Beans (Ruined)

3 cups white pea beans
1/4 pound salt pork, fatback or salted pork belly, cut in 4 peices
2 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 28 ounce can tomatoes

Servings/Yield: 8 servings
1. Rinse beans and discard blemished ones.
2. In a dutch oven, cover beans with three times their volume of water. Bring to a boil; boil gently fro 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain, discard liquid.
3. Return soaked beans to pot along with 3 times their volume of fresh water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Drain reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.*
4. In a 16 cup casserole, combine beans,  pork, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, molasses, sugar, mustard, and pepper.
5. Bake covered in a 300℉ oven for 2 1/2 hours. Uncover and bake for 1 1/2 hours longer.

*Check on the beans periodically and add some or all of the reserved water if necessary or if you prefer looser beans.

I do not know where this recipe originated but it has been transcribed over at least three recipe scrapbooks for close to thirty years. It is quite simple and I like it because it does not require overnight soaking of the beans.

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Accidental Vegetarian Week

Rob and I  find ourselves eating less meat these days. Not sure we could commit to full time vegetarianism, but we are finding that eating satisfying meatless meals is pretty easy and sacrifice free. When we do include meat, we splurge on high quality, local produce, which has a lower carbon footprint, supports local farmers and tastes better. Every two weeks or so we commit to a meatless menu for the coming week. This is what it looks like:

Monday, is the one night where neither of us has to be anywhere after supper so I usually choose a garlicky menu item. Also known as “Bottle-of-wine Monday”, tonight’s meal will be pasta — Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino or spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili flakes, and a nice Italian red.

The pasta is simple, but flavorful with a bite from the garlic and heat from the red chile. It’s rounded nicely with a grating of parmigiano reggiano, some good olives and a nice chianti.

Tuesday sees a rush at dinner hour. I have kickboxing and get home to three animals who need to be fed, so I usually choose something that I can prepare quickly or ahead of time. This week we are having Paneer and Tomato Curry. For this recipe I quarter 5 of the tomatoes and dice the other three. I add them all at the same time. I substitute garlic and ginger paste, available at any Indian food market, for the garlic and ginger. I find the garlic more mellow and does not repeat. Perfect for a chilly fall day, warm with Indian spices, rich with coconut milk and hearty with paneer, this dish satisfies. Rob stops at our local Indian take out on the way home for naan. You can serve this with basmati rice or grocery store naan, but tandoor-oven naan is really unbeatable. We often freeze the leftovers for another day. This recipe is filling, and satisfying. It’s excellent comfort food for a cold night and truth be told, it’s even better another day after some time in the fridge to let the flavours marry.

Wednesday I am preparing a Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup. It’s good to try at least one new recipe a week. This was cheesy, delicious. and quite thick. Thin with more broth if you like.

Thursday is quiet for me. No appointments, nowhere to be until 11 pm hockey. So it’s a day I like to cook something that takes a little time, iPod on, Josie at my feet, kitties sleeping on the stairs, something that makes the house smell good and blows raspberries at November weather. This week I’m making a creamy, cheesy, Mushroom Risotto. I use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The mushrooms and liquid from soaking the dried porcinis makes this dish quite beefy tasting. Like every good risotto, this is creamy, rich and satisfying. The mushrooms provide a meatiness all to themselves.

Friday this week I have chosen something light but elegant that we can open a bottle of wine with and curl up in front of the TV and fire. We are going out to dinner tomorrow at Steven Beckta’s new resto Gezellig, so we will indulge or likely over indulge then. Tonight we will have to be satisfied with Peach and Brie Quesadillas and a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio. We used bottled peaches in juice and a white sweet onion instead of red.

I guarantee with a little planning around your schedule, you will be surprised that you can eat very well and not even realize you had no meat. That’s why we call it accidental vegetarian. We choose a recipe because it will be tasty specifically, not because it was vegetarian. That’s just a happy coincidence.


Classic Baked Mac & Cheese

It is a blustery, rainy day in Ottawa. We are experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Can’t complain, it’s really not much different than a normal rainy October day. People south of us have really suffered through more devastating effects of the hurricane weather. That said, classic Halloween weather for this region puts me in the mood for comfort food and there is nothing that fits that bill more than mac and cheese. I’m sitting in Wag, a dog cafe, enjoying a cappuccino – Josie, the newest member of our family is beside me, happily gnawing an elk antler and making friends, human and canine. A soothing soundtrack and the warm orange glow of everything Halloween warm up an otherwise dreary day.

My “family” mac and cheese recipe hails originally from Canadian Living Magazine. I’ve been making it for 25 years and can no longer remember if I have made changes or if it is intact. I  omit the salt because I find canned tomatoes salty enough. If you are using no-salt tomatoes, add salt. I like this recipe because it is cheesy, tomatoey and uses summer savoury, a Down East herb from my childhood. This version is vegetarian but you can fry up some burger and add it for more protein, calories and to see you through a hockey game. Typically I use elbow macaroni. Tonight I am using Mezzani Tagliati — long tubular pasta — but any short pasta will do.

Old-Fashioned Backed Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

250 grams Elbow Macaroni
250 grams Shredded Cheddar
28 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Summer savory
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Milk

1. Cook macaroni until tender but firm. Do not overcook. Drain and transfer to a greased 12 cup casserole. 2. Drain 3/4 cups of the juice from the tomatoes and discard. Pour tomatoes and remaining juice into bowl. Stir in half of the shredded cheese , sugar, savory, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce; pour over macaroni and mix well. Top with remaining cheese. 3. In a small bowl, blend eggs with milk; pour over cheese covered macaroni. DO NOT stir. Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes until top is golden.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.