Creamy seafood chowder and oregano biscuits

This past August, my husband and I traveled to Prince Edward Island to celebrate the wedding of my best friend and her husband.  We were lucky enough to get a few extra days off work, giving us the opportunity to travel around the province a little before heading back home.  Aside from the beautiful landscape and charming people, we experienced an abundance of fresh seafood prepared in a variety of delicious ways.  One of the dishes PEI is known for is their seafood chowder, and after one bowl we were hooked (in fact, my husband requested this for his birthday dinner).  My best friend’s Aunt has her own delicious version and, although I didn’t use her recipe, I was inspired by her advice: when using delicious seafood, who needs potatoes?  There are many recipes of this dish online: mine is inspired by them and utilizes our favourite seafood selections.  If you choose, you could use different fish or remove/add another type of seafood to add your own spin on the chowder.  This is a very versatile recipe so be creative and have fun!

6 cups stock (I used chicken, but a pescetarian could substitute vegetable)
3/4 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped into 1 cm chunks
2 stalks of celery, chopped into 1 cm chunks
1/2 lb salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb scallops, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I purchased frozen shrimp and defrosted them)
1 lobster tail, chopped into bite sized pieces
Bag of mussels (I believe the bag was approximately 2 lbs)
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups ‘half n half ‘cream
1 cup butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Large pasta pot

Add your stock to the pot and bring it to a boil.  Add your chopped onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are tender; about twenty minutes.

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Next, add your seafood (minus the mussels) to the pot.

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Turn down the heat to medium and cook until your salmon is firm but slightly translucent in the middle; about ten minutes.

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Next, add your mussels and both kinds of cream.  Finally, top off with the chunks of butter and season with salt and pepper.  Cover your chowder and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until your fish is fully cooked; about twenty minutes.

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While your chowder is simmering, pre heat your oven to 425 F and prepare your delicious fluffy biscuits.

2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling and cutting your biscuits
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 cup milk
Large glass or biscuit cutter
Baking tray
Parchment or Silpat mat

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients.  Next, grate your cold butter into the dry ingredients and mix with your fingers until the mixture resembles a course meal.  Add your milk and stir until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of your bowl.

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Knead your dough (either by hand or with your mixer) until it has fully come together in a smooth ball.  Turn your dough out onto a floured board and roll it out to 1 inch thick.  Dip your glass rim into flour then use it to cut circles out of your dough.  Continue, reusing the extra, until all the dough is used.  Lay your biscuits onto your baking sheet.

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Bake your biscuits for 13-15 minutes; until golden brown and fluffy.

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Serve your biscuits fresh out of the oven with a large bowl of hot chowder.  Enjoy!

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Spicy mustard chicken with zuchinni and orzo

This chicken marinade was, like many dishes I come up with, borne out of necessity due to lack of standard ingredients.  I regularly make my chicken marinade with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoning; but I realized too late that I was out of my beloved vinegar.  I don’t especially like the taste of chicken with lemon, so I was forced to find another acid to balance out my lovely olive oil.  I was introduced to Inglehoffer mustard by a friend who used it as a dip for appetizers, and became hooked immediately.  It is spicy and a bit creamy: very different from your regular deli mustard.  If you don’t have this particular mustard any spicy version will do, but I highly recommend picking up a bottle.

1 lb chicken breast, skinned and deboned
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp mustard (my favourite is Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Pepper Mustard, found in the deli section of your grocery store)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Mix your marinade ingredients thoroughly.  It will be more of a paste and less of a liquid: don’t worry, it will still flavour your chicken beautifully.

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Spread the marinade over your chicken and set aside in the fridge until ready to barbeque.

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2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Pastry brush

Brush over your zucchini and barbeque.

1 cup orzo pasta
3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade but you could also use Campbells if you’d prefer)
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried basil
Pepper, to taste
Pasta pot

If you are using a homemade stock from a roasted chicken carcass, a pinch of salt is all that is required.  Heat your stock until it boils then add your pasta and cook to 1 minute less than al-dente.  Drain your pasta and set aside.

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Barbeque your chicken at medium high heat until browned on both sides and thoroughly cooked.  When pierced, only clear juices should run out.  The marinade will caramelize and leave your chicken a blackened colour, don’t worry it’s not burnt.  Remove the chicken from the heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving.

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Finally, pour your pasta back into the pot and mix with the grated Parmesan and seasoning, mix until thoroughly combined then serve immediately with your chicken.

 

Enjoy!

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Baked farfale and mushroom casserole

This is a variation of a comfort food dish my mother used to make when I was younger.  She would use loads of yellow cheddar and bake the whole mixture until it browned and bubbled.  Cheese and pasta are two of my favourite things so combining them in a dish is like comfort food heaven.  I decided to make this dish a bit more complex by using mushrooms as well as several kinds of cheese instead of just cheddar.  I added ricotta because of the creaminess it adds to baked pasta dishes; ensuring they stay moist and delicious in the oven.  Although ricotta is delicious, it has a mild flavour which is nicely balanced by the sharpness of the old cheddar.  Finally, I finished it all off with a salty favourite, parmesan.

7-8 large Crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced (they will shrink when baked and you still want some texture)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar (I like using white old or extra old for added flavour)
Box of farfale pasta (these are shaped like little bow ties.  I buy Barrila)
1 cup ricotta
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups marinara (I used my homemade recipe from earlier posts)
Parmesan, grated to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dried basil, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste

Cook your pasta for 2 minutes less than al dente: you want it slightly undercooked so it doesn’t get mushy when baked.  Once your pasta is fully cooked, drain and pour back in the pot.

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Spoon a bit of marinara onto the bottom of your baking dish, spread to ensure the bottom is covered.

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Next, add the remaining marinara to your pasta and mix.  Grate your cheddar and set aside.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cheddar, and add the rest to the pasta along with your ricotta, garlic, salt and pepper.  Taste, and add more salt or pepper as needed, add your mushrooms and mix well.  Pour your pasta mixture into the baking pan and spread to ensure it is even.  Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over your pasta and grate some fresh parmesan over the top.  Add your dried basil and chili flakes then cover with aluminum foil.

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Preheat your oven to 400F and bake for 30 minutes.  Finally, remove the foil and finish your pasta for 10 minutes at 425 F until browned.

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Enjoy with a fresh salad 🙂

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Garlic lemon salmon with green beans and couscous

This is the first barbeque post on my blog.  Unlike many couples, I’m the one that barbeque’s.  I love cooking, so why not cook on the giant outdoor grill we have available in the summer?  We use a propane grill but I would imagine any of my dishes would work just as well with charcoal, just adjust the time accordingly.  This meal, as with many I make, came about when I opened my fridge with no idea about what to make for dinner.  I had fish and green beans, but no starch.  I could, theoretically, have made fish and green beans alone but I always feel that something is missing in a meal without starch.  I decided to make couscous simply because I hadn’t made it in some time and it’s a favourite in our home.  The lemon and garlic marinade was also an afterthought, I was out of balsamic vinegar and needed a good acid to balance out the extra virgin olive oil; lemon seemed very summery and appropriate.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp garlic powder
Dash of chilli flakes
Salt, to taste

Mix your marinade and pour over your salmon in a sealed container.  Leave at least 3o minutes to marinate.

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4 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dash of chilli powder
Evoo

Trim then cook your green beans until done but still crunchy.  Drain and lay out on foil.  Season and seal the foil package.

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Make the couscous the same as my earlier recipe, Roasted chicken with Israeli couscous and mushrooms.  Once the couscous is nicely cooked, pour onto some foil and fold the edges to make a dish.

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Preheat your barbeque at medium high, I had mine around 500 degrees.

Cook your fish skin down to prevent sticking and place your foil packages on the grill.  Barbeque until your fish is cooked through; your couscous and green beans will be nicely cooked at that point.

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Drizzle a bit of olive oil over your couscous and serve immediately.  Yum 🙂

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Satisfying kielbassa and potato hash

This is a meal that my Father frequently made when I was growing up.  It’s a typical Polish meal, involving sausage, potatoes, and of course, paprika.  For those who aren’t used to paprika, it is an extremely common seasoning in Hungarian food and is made from dried red peppers (chilli peppers, however it is not normally spicy).  It adds an earthy flavour and is delicious on meat and root vegetables, as well as in soup.  My Father always made this dish by first frying the ingredients, then transferring them to a baking pan and roasting them until brown and crispy.  If you prefer your kielbasa and potatoes less browned, simply roast for less time or omit the oven all together.

300 g turkey kielbasa sausage (you can also use pork or beef, I personally like the taste and low fat of the turkey)
1 bag mini potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (this type of food doesn’t normally have any heat, but both my husband and I love chilli flakes)
1 tsp paprika
Large pot
Stainless steel pan (if you don’t have one, you can use a regular pan but you will need a roasting pan for the oven as well)

First, peel the plastic casing off your kielbasa.

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Boil a large pot of salted water.  Next, cut your potatoes in half and cook until fork tender.  While your potatoes are cooking, heat some olive oil on medium heat and add your onion and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, then chop up your kielbasa and add to the pan.

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When your potatoes are cooked, add them to the pan.  You may wish to add a bit more olive oil at this point as well.  Add your seasoning to your mixture and cook until it starts to brown.  During this time you can pre heat your oven to 375 F.

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Once your mixture has browned, put it in the oven for 30 minutes until crispy.

Enjoy with a nice tossed salad!

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Shrimp pad thai

One of my favourite meals is pad thai from Kao San Road in downtown Toronto.  Something about the sweet and spicy sauce mixed with the tangy citrus of freshly squeezed lime is absolute perfection.  As much as my husband and I love it, the restaurant is too far from our home to allow for regular visits so I decided to try my hand at homemade pad thai.  I looked up some recipes and after finding several, some with disconcerting ingredients like tomato sauce, I found a few that I adapted to make this one.  My pad thai is no where near as delicious as Kao San Road and if you are ever in the Toronto area I strongly recommend a visit, but it’s a pretty tasty substitute.  You could easily make this dish with chicken or tofu instead of shrimp depending on your tastes.

Package Thai rice noodles
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp tamarind paste disolved in 1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp Sriracha
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp white pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Handful of cilantro, chopped
2 chives, minced
Canola oil
Peanuts, chopped
Lime
Large pot
Wok (you can also use a regular frying pan, but this will likely be harder and more messy)

First, dissolve your cornstarch in the soya sauce then mix with your shrimp and set aside.

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Next, mix your tamarind, fish sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha and white pepper and set aside.  This will be the sauce for your pad thai.

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Finally, chop up your veggies and set aside.  This dish cooks very quickly and if you have to chop as you go your noodles and shrimp will become overcooked.

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Put a large pot of water on to boil, then add your noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes (or the time on the bag).  The noodles should be cooked through, but essentially al dente.  When they are finished, rinse immediately with cold water to prevent sticking and set aside.  Next, heat some oil and the minced garlic in your wok at medium heat until fragrant, then add your shrimp and cook.  The shrimp are finished when they become entirely pink.  You do not want your shrimp to be completely curled up, this means you’ve overcooked them and the result will be the texture of rubber and less flavourful.

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When your shrimp are cooked, add your noodles and pad thai sauce.  Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes then add your peppers and cook for another 1-2 minutes then turn off the heat.  Taste your dish to decide if you’d like more fish sauce at this time, I sometimes add another tablespoon or two.  Finally, squeeze half a lime over your pad thai and mix.

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Portion your pad thai into servings and top each bowl with some chives, cilantro and peanuts (plus more lime juice).  Enjoy!

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Ricotta mushroom frittata with roast potatoes

This dinner was inspired by ingredients in my fridge.  I wanted to make a delicious homemade meal but didn’t have much in the way of meat for protein.  I decided to make a frittata because I had more than enough eggs as well as delicious potatoes to roast.  A frittata is essentially an Italian dish similar to a crustless quiche.  My mother used to use salami and potatoes in her frittata, they were delicious but I thought I’d try something different.  I left the potatoes separate and instead made a rich vegetarian version with some beautiful ricotta I had in the fridge along with some fresh cilantro.  You could try substituting different cheeses or vegetables, the options are endless, but I hope you enjoy this version.

Bag of fingerling potatoes
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Chilli powder, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Olive oil
Baking tray

The reason I didn’t include any measurements with my potatoes is I season by sight.  I tend to use a lot of seasoning with potatoes and simply shake it on until it looks sufficient.  Potatoes absorb seasoning and always seem to need more so it’s hard to over do it.  In fact, after tasting my finished potatoes I added a bit more salt.

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Bake for 30-45 min at 375 F until beautiful and golden brown.

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6 Crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 white onion, diced
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Whisk
Stainless steel frying pan (this is a must have!  Otherwise, you will need to transfer your frittata to another dish before baking)

While your potatoes are in the oven you can work on your frittata.  Heat a stainless steel pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add your onions and let them sweat a bit.

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Next, add your garlic and mushrooms.  Allow them to cook down and brown before adding your egg.

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Whisk your eggs and milk with salt and pepper.  Finally add your egg and ricotta to your pan.  Sprinkle with cilantro and place your frittata in the oven on the bottom rack.

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Cook for 30 minutes until cooked through and slightly golden.  The parts where the ricotta is will look less cooked, if you are unsure simply test with a toothpick.

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Serve immediately and enjoy!

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