What have I done...

We do this at least once every summer. Invite over a whole truck load of people. We are never sure who exactly is going to show up. We cook ridiculous amounts of food. We call one of these events Kid #2's birthday bash. Yes, his birthday is the 4th of July. Great, except we're Canadian but whatever, it's close enough. Kid #1's birthday is December 31st so we've got some kind of holiday thing goin' on.

Now don't get me wrong. I kind of enjoy the frenzy of it, the not knowing for sure what's going to happen or who's gonna show. The crazy amounts of cooking and baking. The days of prep and cleaning. As much as I say that I hate the last minuteness that Derek and I do so expertly - well, there's a reason that we're expert at it, right. Somewhere deep down, I kinda like it.
As usual some people came who weren't expected and others didn't make it. AND as usual we had too much food. Better too much than too little. I suffer from not being able to sit back and truly enjoy my own parties though. I'd love to get some pointers on how to do that exactly - without owning a mansion or having hired help. Any ideas???

Anyway, I made a slew of stuff and my Mom-in-law too. My Mom would have helped out too but her kitchen was getting tiled and you can't cook in a kitchen which is being tiled - ya know?! My contributions were cake (another post), multiple cakes actually, BBQ's chicken, roasted potato's, greek pasta salad and a curried rice (salad???) that is one of my faves. I actually love adding chick peas to this recipe too. It's pretty interchangeable. You could use couscous instead of rice, you could use whatever veggies you have in the fridge. You could use raisins or no. You could serve this warm or cold. You get the idea, this is largely free-form. It is also very yummy and can easily make huge quantities. I made 4 cups of the rice - so probably 6 cups of salad altogether but you could easily half the rice. It's a pretty colour, it has yummy stuff in it and you can keep it outside without worrying about anything going bad. Win, Win, Win.

Curried Rice Salad
serves 10

1 onion, diced small
1 small to med. zucchini, sliced thin
2 small to med. carrots, sliced thin
2 ribs of celery, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small (optional)
2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
5 cups of broth (veg or chicken)
2 tbsp curry paste (more to taste)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
3/4 - 1 cup raisins

In a large dutch oven heat some oil for frying. Once the oil is ready, saute the veggies until they are a little wilted. Add in the rice and coat thoroughly with the veggies and oil. Add in the broth and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the rice simmer for about 15 - 20 min. Until the rice is almost done.
In a bowl mix the curry paste, Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, spices and salt. Add a little water if the paste is too thick. Once the rice is almost done, add in the spice mixture. Mix well. Let the rice finish and check for taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Once everything is done cooking, add in the raisins.

As promised...

A few posts ago I was commenting on the blogs of both my sister and my sis-in-law. (I've later learned that my sis-in-law holds down like 3 blogs or something!) I didn't exactly make the recipe that I wanted to for that post because (I hang my head) I got really distracted by this fab looking ice cream that took my breath away (Salted butter caramel ice cream... really, can you blame me?). I've felt bad about it though. I know that my sis-in-law won't say no to a good dose of caramel but her real passion is chocolate. So, here is the recipe that I had planned for that post.

When I was in university I spent a long time researching the best chocolate cake ever. It was a long, hard research project but I got it done. My criteria were: level of difficulty, texture, appearance (although admittedly that's the bottom of the list for me - some of the most delish crap I've eaten looked awful), taste. This cake isn't the cake that's going to blow your socks off when you look at it. It's made in a bundt pan - meh, looks boring but not unappetizing

However, when you slice into this cake and put a slice of it in your mouth... well, that changes everything. Beautiful, satisfying and simultaneously addictive. Silverpalate has found an ideal balance between crumb and moisture. The cake contains both whipped egg whites (I'm still waiting for my stand mixer - doing it all by hand!) and sour cream. A great combination. I've also found that this cake keeps quite well. Even a few days later it doesn't taste awful. You can ice it or not. I iced it here with a simple no-cook choco buttercream. Whipped cream, Mocha or just plain icing sugar dusted would be beautiful too. Can't get any better than that!

I made this cake for kid #2's birthday party recently and it was (once again) a hit. Once again I hang my head because although my brother and 3 nieces were with us from Calgary, sadly, my sis-in-law was not here to enjoy this with us. Ah! A good excuse to make it again when she comes out in a month. You have to try this one!

The Decadent Chocolate Cake
(The Silver Palate Cookbook)

1 cup boiling water
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 eggs separated
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (less 2 tbsp.) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Boil the water. Once boiled pour over the butter and the unsweetened chocolate. Let everything melt together and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy but not stiff. In another bowl mix together the sour cream and the baking soda.
Once the butter and chocolate have melted, add the sugar and vanilla and mix well. To the chocolate mixture add in the egg yolks and mix well.
Add in the sour cream to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Add in the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter and then add the rest of the egg whites. Stir just until mixed.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Use a cake tester to check for doneness and the sides of the cake should pull away from the pan.

Allow to cool for about 20 min. before removing from the cake pan. Cool completely before icing.

I love Risotto

I do.
I totally love risotto. I could eat risotto for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I love rice.
I love cheese.
I love peas.
I love wine.
As I've said before, there is nothing that I can think of that woudn't work well in risotto. Hmmm, so why does the thought of rice pudding make me want to blow chunks - doesn't make any sense does it?
I got this totally rad sweet pea stuff in the food box this week. Have I ever shucked (is that even the word?) peas before? No.

Who cares, it was easy and they tasted great. I was torn because I wanted to make curry with them (Keema - Oh Yeah!) but I also got really hungry and then there wasn't any meat thawed and ready to go and then I saw this recipe for pea risotto in the magazine and then... I was making it. I loved this dish so much that I had 3 helpings in about 10 minutes. Now, truth be told, it was about 4:30 and I hadn't eaten lunch yet, so this was like supch or lupper or whatever you want to call it. But, I didn't have this with anything else, just straight up, no meat, no extras. It was great. I love those kinds of meals, driven by necessity and totally satisfying in the end.
I find risotto quite easy to pull off. I'm not sure what the mystery is. Maybe I'm the only one who even thought that there was a mystery! I also used some wine (that I just happened to have chilling in the fridge) from one of my favourite Ontario Wineries (yes, we do have rather good Wineries in Ontario), Coyote's Run.

The addition really does make a difference in the taste, another layer so to speak. As always, you do have to stand and stir but really, what trouble is stirring? Either way, I don't actually find that I'm spending any longer at the stove than for any other recipe and the results are always optimal.

Pea Risotto
(inspired by BBC Good Food magazine)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup onion diced fine
1 1/2 cup peas (I got mine fresh from the pod - thanks to the Food Box)
4 cups of chicken or veg. broth heated (I used organic chicken)
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 - 2 tsp salt to taste
little bit of lemon zest (optional)

In heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and then add the veggies. Let them sweat at a fairly low heat for about 7 min. or so. Add the Arborio rice to the butter and veggies and mix well. Increase the heat just a bit. Once everything is well coated and has kind of warmed up a bit then begin to add in the heated broth by the ladle. Add one ladle and mix well, letting the mixture simmer well (the whole idea with risotto is that it simmers constantly, which is why heating the broth is so important - that way the temperature won't be affected when you add cold liquid). Continue adding by ladleful until the risotto looks like it's started get creamy and fluffy. Begin to test for doneness. Add the wine and continue to mix well (you could continue adding ladles of broth as well). Once the rice looks done add in the salt and the parmesan. Check the tastes and adjust as necessary. Enjoy....

Sticky Tamari Chicken

I've been recently singing the praises of UK food magazines - loving them. I've gone through and put post-it's on all the recipes that I want to try. I'm trying this one for the first time and of course I've gone and changed it up. It's saying something about a recipe when a meat dish inspires me. The reality is that I have trouble just doing a meat dish by itself. I need to stick other stuff in there - veggies specifically. I can't just roast a chicken without stuffing it with veggies (onion and garlic and lemon) and putting more veggies underneath it (carrot and potato). This is why I love the concept of casseroles - it's all there in one tasty dish. No fussing with multiple pots and all that crap.

Anyway, this dish is easy - if I tell ya, EASY. Marinade for as long as you wish really. I left mine for about an hour and it came out beautifully but I'm guessing that an overnight wouldn't hurt at all.
Also, I didn't use chicken thighs as it calls for in the recipe. I'm thinking about how eating a whole chicken is just all around better than eating just parts of the chicken. I bought a beautiful organic chicken on the weekend and cut'r up. Wasn't that hard either. Once you know where the breast is, the leg, the thigh, the wing, you can pretty much get chopping and do not a half bad job. It was actually kinda cool having all the different parts to choose from when filling our plates. I love the idea of meat cooking on top of veggies and with this recipe you get the juice from the chicken and the flavour of the marinade soaked up. Yum.

The real deal breaker for this recipe is that it gave me another opportunity to use the FAB honey that I got on a trip to Hawkestone. This is the stuff that won 6th place in this year's Royal Winter Fair. It made the dish quite honestly. The kids loved this one - We ALL loved this one.
Sticky Tamari and honey chicken thighs (BBC Good Food magazine)
serves 4

8 skin on chicken thighs (I used one whole chicken in pieces)

2 tbsp clear honey (I didn't measure, truth be told)
For the marinade:
2 tsp veg. oil
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp sherry or rice wine (I skipped this 'cause I didn't have)
5 tbsp stem ginger (I had to use ground ginger - about 2 tsp)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 - 2 red chillies, seeded and chopped (I just threw in a few red chili flakes)
In the dish:
3 med. carrots chopped large
2 small to med. potato, chopped large (I actually used celeriac)
1 1/2 rib of celery chopped large
1/2 a med. onion chopping in chunks

In a large bowl put together the marinade - check for taste. Place chicken in the marinade and let it sit, refrigerated for at least a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In the bottom of a largish baking dish, place the chopped veggies. Place the marinaded chicken over the veggies and pour the marinade over the whole thing. Drizzle the honey over the top of the chicken (You may want to drizzle half the honey and then drizzle some more for the last 10 minutes of baking ;-). Bake for 45 - 50 min. or until the chicken is done.
Serve with wilted greens and rice or whatever you want... it's just that good!

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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