Monday, October 23, 2006

Dad's famous subs

I love making submarine sandwiches and, thankfully, my kids love it when I make them too. This is a quick and easy supper or lunch. Serve with some kind of salad or sliced veggies. I'll give the ingredients per sandwich.
1 panini bun
1/4 lb (100g) mixed coldcuts
1 slice havarti cheese
sliced tomato
sliced dill pickle
hot mustard

1. cut bread open

2. assemble sandwiches

As far as meet selection, I like to use three different kinds in the sub. Usually two fairly plain, like smoked turkey or maple ham, but at least one that has a very strong flavour, like a good salami or summer sausage.

Tuna salad

This one's adapted from Michael Smith's book Chef at Home. I like this tuna salad a lot and use it every week or so to make sandwiches for my and kids lunches. It's also great just eating on it's own as a side or a snack. It's also one that really encourages experimentation with incredients and ratios until you find that way you like the best. This makes 4 to 6 good-sized sandwiches.
2 cans tuna
1 tbsp diced red onion
1 1/2 diced dill pickles
small handful chopped cilantro
1 1/2 stalks celery
2 tbsp dijon mustard
splash of olive oil so it all holds together
salt & pepper to taste

1. combine all the ingredients in a bowl & prepare sandwiches.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that it's a nice sandwich salad that doesn't use mayo. A very important consideration is what kind of tuna you use. The Italian style tuna packed in olive oil, but that's a bit expensive sometimes. Using one can of Italian (use the oil) and one of regular tuna packed in water (drain the water) works very well too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dad's famous potato salad

Simply Recipes is my favourite recipe site, and I slightly adapted this one from Elise's Dad's Potato Salad Recipe. I usually add the word "famous" to all my signiture family dishes: Dad's famous chile, Dad's famous burgers, Dad's famous subs. I'm sure I'll get around to posting those all one day too. But for now, enjoy this really tasty potato salad.
4 mid sized Russet potatoes
4 Tbsp juice from Kosher dill pickles
2 finely chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
1 or 2 chopped scallions

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes (skins on). Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from pot. Let cool enough to handle, but still warm. Remove skins. Cut potatoes into inch sized cubes.

2 Put potatoes in to a large bowl. Add the juice from the Kosher dill pickles. Add the finely chopped pickles themselves. Add parsley, onions, celery, scallions.

3 In a separate small bowl, mix mayonnaise with mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the dressing with the potato mixture. Again, salt and pepper to taste.

The most significant change is that I switched cilantro for parsley. Personally, I just like the flavour of cilantro better and I think it adds a real zing to this recipe. Also, the 20 minutes that is suggested for the potatoes might not be enough. To get them soft all the way through takes another 5-10 minutes (unless of course, you like them a bit crunchy).

Two bean salad

This is a kitchen-sink-style salad I made the other day, mostly using stuff just lying around the fridge and pantry. It was surprisingly good.
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar)
1/2 small red onion, diced
parsley to taste
pepper to taste (no need to add salt, beans are probably already salty enough)
oil & red wine vinegar as dressing, to taste

1. Combine everything in a large bowl.

2. Add dressing & toss gently.
What could I have added? A can of tuna would have turned this into a great lunch salad. Also, any kind of bean would do, especially canelloni instead of white kidney.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Southwestern rice

I love the flavours of the southwestern USA, guacamole, chile, the whole range of flavours. One of the mainstays of the cuisine is the spice cumin, and this recipe really showcases the earthy, rich aroma of cumin.

I adapted this one a bit from a recipe on Michael Smith's show Chef at Home, on Food Network Canada. I love that show, it 's really what inspired me to take up cooking as a forty-something. Smith has a great, easy going way of presenting, he really emphasises the ease of preparation of most recipes. He also mostly uses fairly common ingrediants in basic preparations. When he shows you how to braise something, you really get an idea of what braising is all about. His style of cooking without a firm recipe is also inspiring -- you really think, "Hey, this is easy, basic ingredients in simple preparations -- I could do that!" And, mostly, you can. I first starting watching Smith while staying home with my wife while she was recovering from an operation, so we had lots of time to watch tv together and I certainly had the opportunity to get a bit of practice in the kitchen. The rest is history! (One of these days, I'll blog the first thing I made, his clam chowder.)

Anyway, back to the recipe:
Makes 4-6 side dish servings

1 cup of basmati rice
2 cups of tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 red pepper, diced
1 12 oz can of corn kernals
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

1. Put rice, tomato juice and 1/2 tsp of cumin into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover with a lid and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Toss with fork and let cool slightly.

2. Heat oil in large skillet. Add the rest of the cumin to the oil.

3. When it begins to smoke, add onions and peppers and sauté quickly until they are softened and slightly caramelized.

4. Add corn and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add rice, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until incorporated.

5. Stir in green onions, cilantro and lime juice and adjust seasoning.

We served it this evening with a nice baked ham from Nunzio's Fine Foods on Bayview in Toronto, and it was a great combo. Another link for Nunzio's, one of my fave places for good food, especially meat and fish. I also can't speak highly enough of Michael Smith's Chef at Home cookbook.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Philly cheese steak

I've done this one a couple of times already and it's very popular with the kids. I don't follow any set recipe; I just did a google search and read a bunch of different recipes and combined the ones I liked into my own version.
For 4 sandwiches

1 large onion (red, spanish, yellow as you prefer)
2 bell peppers (green or red are probably best)
3-4 stalks celery (optional)
2 lbs steak (see below)
cooking oil
4 kaiser rolls
12 slices provolone cheese (more if you like it cheesy)
favourite BBQ sauce

1. First, when choosing the steak, any cut suitable for grilling will do. When choosing, make sure you get a thicker cut, at least 1/4" or more. put it in the freezer for about 1.5 hours until partially frozen. This will make it easier to slice into thin strips.

2. Slice onion so you'll get nice meaty slices. Chop peppers fairly small, so they'll get soft quickly. Same with cerery if you choose to add those. Celery is fairly heretical here, but I like the crunchyness so I add it.

3. slice meat into long thin strips.

4. Saute the veggies in the cooking oil for 5-8 minutes, at least. When they're starting to get soft, take them out of the pan and put them aside for a minute.

5. Now put the meat in your pan and saute for a couple of minutes, until mostly cooked.

6. Add back the veggies and cook all together for a couple of minutes to get everything combined with the juices and for the veggies to get soft.

7. Slice the kaiser rolls and put the cheese on. Kaiser rolls are extremely heretical here. However, they are nice because since they're round the filling doesn't squeeze out as easily.

8. Spoon the steak & veggie mixture onto the cheese.

9. Put some BBQ sauce over the mixture. This is also quite heretical, but I love the combination. My current fave BBQ sauce is Loblaw's PC Beer & Chipotle sauce, but whatever you have is fine.
This is a great weekday meal because it's easy and doesn't take all that long to prepare if you have all the ingredients (at least the steak) pre-sliced.