Countless numbers of us, on a daily basis, are faced with the challenge of filling multiple roles. We must be spouses, parents, professionals, etc., and still find time and energy after all that to be health-conscious individuals! Life shouldn't be an exhausting struggle, it should be a collection of one enjoyable, memorable, fulfilling, experience after another, should it not? I mean, pardon the cliché, but life's too short to let it be anything else.

I am a self-proclaimed food hobbyist on a quest to find delicious, healthy, fast, easy-to-make recipes and to successfully make those food adjectives actually belong together in a sentence. I am looking for after work meals that don't come out of a can, that I can enjoy preparing after a long work day, that my family will enjoy eating, and that will allow me to rest assured knowing that we are eating healthy. When I find these meals, I wish to share them with others. Cheers :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Citrus Glazed Grilled Duck Breasts

I love duck, as does my hubby and 3 year old. It was such a sunny beautiful day today I for sure wanted to grill dinner on the Bar-B tonight, but we've had chicken, ribs, steaks, dogs and burgers recently so I was hankering something a little different. I've had duck breasts sitting in my freezer for weeks, so I thumbed through some of my cookbooks in search of a grilled duck recipe, and voila, I found one in a book I was least expecting to: one of my Weight Watchers books.

I love the classic French dish Caneton a l'Orange, so I was equally excited to see that this recipe involved a citrus glaze too.


1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb duck breast
1 small onion
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

1) Combine 3/4 cup orange juice, and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar in a large ziploc bag. Add the duck breast, squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal. Turn the duck to coat all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator for minimum of 2 hours, turning occasionally (I marinated mine for 6 hours).

2) Make the glaze: Chop the onion finely. In a medium non stick saucepan, combine onion, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, orange zest, chicken broth (I luckily had just finished making homemade soup stock, so I had some fresh stock on hand), and salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture has a syrupy consistency and is reduced by approx. half (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

I didn't like how lumpy the glaze looked so I used my immersion blender and pureed it a little, added some water, and reduced it again.

3) Preheat the BBQ grill to medium. Remove the duck from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the duck on the grill. Grill, turning once, and basting with the glaze for the 1st 5 minutes of grilling. Continue grilling until cooked through; approx. 20-25 minutes, until it is pink in the center and an instant read meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast registers a temp. of 155F.

4) Place the duck on a cutting board, let stand for 5 minutes, and cut on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices.

5) I served the duck with one of my favorite summer BBQ salads:


1-2 romaine lettuce hearts coarsely chopped
2/3 cup mandarin oranges drained
1/2 cup strawberries chopped
3 tbsp red onion chopped
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds


In a blender on high; blend

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp strawberry jam
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil (drizzle in slowly while blender is working so as to emulsify the oil giving dressing a thick, creamy consistency)

like this:

6) Place a mound of salad in the center of the plate and arrange the duck slices around the salad slightly overlapping the slices. Drizzle the leftover glaze over the duck slices, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

This was delicious (I even got a pat on the tail feather for this dinner!)

Cheers :D

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Newfoundland Blood Pudding

For our most recent date night, my man and I ventured downtown to a restaurant called The Black was amazing!!

I was told that the chef sometimes has a blood sausage on the menu that is to die for.....I was immediately intrigued, and had to find out if the blood sausage was anything like my grandmother's black pudding (one of my all time favorite foods in the world). Unfortunately there wasn't any blood sausage on the menu that night.

Ever since our evening out, however, I have been craving my grandmom's blood pudding, and the only access I have to it (other than going home to NF and getting it) is to drive out to my cousin's Newfoundland Store in Cambridge, where he has fresh, homemade Newfoundland black pudding in his cooler, just like my grandmom's -in fact, it's the recipe she used!

It's the Sunday of a long weekend, we were struggling trying to decide what to do for din din tonite, it was a beautiful day, and my craving got the better of me, all these factors contributed to my decision to take the fam and go for a nice drive out to Cambridge. And now sitting here watching my little one enjoying one of my favorite foods just as I did at my grandmom's as a child, and watching my husband enjoying my cultural cuisine as I very often enjoy his, I'm certainly glad I did!!

To prepare the pudding, just slice and pan fry in a little butter or margarine for approx. 5 minutes per side on high heat. Use a very wide spatula to turn or pudding may crumble when turning.

Serve and enjoy!

Looooooove blood pudding!!!

For dessert: Another blast from my past Purity Lemon Creams with Purity Partridgeberry and Apple Jam, and a nice cup of tea!! (I couldn't just stop at the blood pudding in my cousin's store after all!)

I'm in heaven. *siiiigh* if only we could be here:

(Rocky Harbour, Gros Morne Nat'l Park)

or here (Gros Morne Nat'l Park):

or here (the battery):

or here (whale - there she blows!!)

or here (the Narrows and Fort Amherst):

or here (my hometown, St. John's)

Cheers :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kari Ayam (Malaysian Chicken Curry)

I, a little Newfie girl with a love of cooking who would someday love to attend cooking school, have the honour and the privledge of learning firsthand how to prepare authentic Malaysian and Chinese dishes from a very very talented cook, a master in my opinion, and I don't even have to leave my home!

My mother-in-law is an amazing cook. She has been preparing Malaysian, and Chinese dishes all her life; her methods and skills handed down through generations by her mother, grandmothers, and so on.

She has volunteered to come to our home and teach me her skills. There is a language barrier, but hopefully with my enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and my husband as a translator, I am hopeful that I can learn and with practice master her dishes.

Today's lesson: Curry Chicken properly denoted as Kari Ayam.

My mother-in-law makes the BEST curry chicken I have ever had, really, and I've seen it in action, served at parties, with experienced palates making comments such as "Who brought this curry? It's better than my mom's curry!"; "This is amazing"!!; and "This is the best curry I have ever had in my life"! All the ingredients we are using today are readily available store bought products (we're not grinding our own spices from scratch or anything, as would be the case if we were in Malaysia in my husband's grandmother's kitchen), and thus this recipe can be easily reproduced.

Our first task was to gather the ingredients. My husband called his mother up on the phone to coordinate our lesson, and receive specific instruction on what ingredients are necessary. We then visitied an Indian Supermarket and a Chinese Supermarket to gather the list of ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken (approx. 2 lbs)
8-10 tbsp. Curry Powder to cover chicken (Baba's Meat Curry Powder)
Salt to taste (approx. 4 tsp)
1/3 cup Canola Oil
4-5 Garlic Cloves
1/2 medium Onion (or 2-3 shallots)
2 stalks Lemongrass
1 tbsp Red Curry Paste (Maesri brand)
15-20 Fresh Curry Leaves
2-3 Lemon Tree Leaves
1/3 cup Coconut Powder (Mr. Goudas)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup dried fried onions
2 tsp. Knorr Chicken Broth Mix
1 cup Milk
Hot Water (amount as needed)

Curry Leaves (Indian Store)

Lemon Tree Leaves (Indian Store)

1) Cut 1 whole chicken into serving size pieces

2) In a mixing bowl, coat all chicken pieces thoroughly with Baba's dry curry powder (requires 8-10 tbsp. curry powder), and approx. 3 tsp salt. Let stand for 15-20 minutes while remainder of ingredients are prepped

3) Finely chop 1/2 medium onion and 5 cloves of garlic *optional - with a mortar and pestle, grind onion and garlic into a paste (we did not do this today)

4) Peel outer layers off lemon grass. Cut lemon grass into 3" long pieces. Cut thicker pieces of lemon grass lengthwise in 1/2. Pound lemon grass pieces with blunt handle of cleaver to bring out juices and flavor.

5) Tear 15-20 curry leaves off stalks, and 2-3 lemon tree leaves

6) Peel 4 potatoes, and cut into large pieces, place in a bowl with a small amount of water and partially steam in microwave

7) Heat a large pot over high heat for approx. 2 minutes

8) Add 1/2 cup canola oil, let heat for approx. 3 minutes

9) When oil is hot, add garlic, onion, and lemon grass and saute until onions are tender and golden brown (5 minutes), stir constantly to prevent sticking!

10) Add 1 tbsp. Maesri brand red curry paste, curry leaves, and lemon tree leaves, and continue to saute for approximately another 5 minutes , stirring constantly and adding small amounts of hot H2O periodically to prevent sticking

11) Add chicken to pot, scrape all curry from bowl into pot, saute for approx. 5 minutes stirring constantly, and continuing to add small amounts of hot H2O to prevent sticking. *Take care not to damage or tear skin off chicken pieces during stirring

12) Add 3 tbsp. dried fried onions

13) Add partially cooked potatoes and push to bottom of pot to enable cooking to continue. Cover pot and simmer over medium heat for approx. 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as before to prevent sticking and burning of ingredients. Add 2 tsp. dry chicken stock. Taste test and add more salt if desired. Fork test potatoes to see if cooked.

14) While waiting for potatoes to cook, prepare coconut milk (mix 1/3 cup coconut powder, 1/2 cup warm coconut milk and 1/2 cup hot water)

15) Heat 1 cup of milk in microwave

16)Once potatoes are cooked, add coconut milk mixture and hot milk, stir to blend ingredients. Reduce heat to low, remove cover, and do not let the ingredients simmer after milks are added as this will cause curdling. Let stand for approx. 10-15 minutes.

17) Transfer to a corningware pot for serving

18) Serve over steamed basmati rice *optional, infuse the rice with coconut milk immediately after cooking for added coconut flavor

Tastebuds: Brace yourselves!!!!! This dish is SO packed with flavour, it is beyond good! I can truly say this is one of the best things I have ever eaten!

There is a fair amount of heat to this dish, it's not crazy hot, but it has some kick, so I like to follow it with a juicy variety of fruit that has been chilled. Choices include pineapple, watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, or my favorite - durian, not because it is juicy but because it is so rich and creamy and helps reduce the burn.
(the national fruit of Malaysia - so 'stinky' that airlines, and other mass transport have made it illegal to bring this fruit on board )!! Yummmmmm!!!

A very special thank you is being sent out to my mother-in-law, for volunteering her time and expertise and for being the 2nd woman in my life to take on the role of teaching me how to cook wonderful food!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

One lonely lil Morel

Well we've gone out in search of morels a total of 4 times, not to much avail unfortunately.

In our search we were able to find 1 morel - hardly enough to do an entire recipe (or recipes) and share them with you here....and we call ourselves shroomers?!? lol it's laughable, really.....we did anticipate this year's conditions resulting in a poor yield though, and we talked to a fellow shroomer who has had about as much luck as we have :(

Isn't he lovely?

So we took our poor unfortunate little yellow morel home with us, and cooked 'im up (sauteed in butter)....served him atop toasted mini croissants.

This is actually my favorite way to eat morels, simple and delicious. They have a mild flavor, and I find their taste is often overpowered when cooked "in things", but nonetheless, they are a delicious addition to just about any sauce.

Hoping for better luck next year

Fall-off-the-bone-ribs done quick

Ooohhhhh the weather outside is delightful, and the BBQ fire's so hmmmm...insightful? I've stumbled upon a way to prepare BBQ ribs as they should be - succulent, tender, juicy, fall off the bone, and bursting with flavor, and here's the doesn't have to be an all day affair!!

The secret? Pressure baby, pressure. Here's what you need:


Pork back ribs (side ribs are fine too but I prefer back)
Diana brand BBQ sauce (Western Smokehouse flavor - Blue Label)

Finely chopped garlic (approx. 4 cloves)

Worcestershire Sauce 10-15 dashes
Veg. Oil 1/4 cup
Salt and Pepper
Pressure cooker

Cut ribs into single bone portions

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup Diana Sauce (I didn't have the Western Smokehouse flavor today, so I had to use Honey Garlic - not nearly as good), chopped garlic, veg. oil, worcestershire sauce, honey, and salt and pepper

Add ribs, and entirely coat them with the marinade, let sit for approx. 1/2 hour

Spray the entire inside of a pressure cooker with non stick cooking spray

Transfer ribs into pressure cooker

Add water so that 2/3 of ribs are covered

Cook stovetop in pressure cooker on high heat for 30 minutes (start timing from the point where full steam pressure is reached - or when steam starts to escape from cooker)

Remove from heat and leave lid on pressure cooker for an additional 30 minutes

Run pressure cooker under cold water in case contents are still under pressure

Remove lid, take ribs out, and place in a large pan (ie. lasagna pan)

Brush ribs with Diana BBQ sauce, coating all sides

Place ribs on BBQ and grill over LOW HEAT, for approx. 20 minutes, turning once.

Serve and enjoy!!

And that's all there is to it folks, your guests will think you slaved all day tending to these ribs, slow cooking them, constantly turning them, coating them with sauce and recoating, making sure they are cooked to perfection - these ribs are soooo good, they'll never know the difference!! ;)

I looooooove the B-B-Q!!!!