Posts Tagged: cooking + baking

DIY :: making bacon

DIY: bacon making 1Last year, Robert and I took a DIY workshop at Save On Meats learning how to make our own bacon, sausage, and pancetta. The bacon and sausage was delicious and since we were inbetween homes, we didn’t have a place to cure the pancetta properly and decided to just turn it into more bacon. I can’t believe it has taken us this long to create a second batch! Once you try to home cure your own bacon, I promise that you will never buy that generic supermarket kind ever again.

adapted from Save On Meats Makes 2 1/4 lbs of bacon.

DIY: bacon making 2
Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb skin on pork belly
2 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 finely chopped garlic clove
Maple syrup * optional

You will need:
parchment paper
one large ziplock bag
cookie sheet / metal tray
sharp knife

DIY: bacon making 3Trim the pork belly to square off its edges.

DIY: bacon making 4Rinse the pork, pat it dry with paper towels, and transfer it to a large sheet of parchment paper.

DIY: bacon making 8Optional: Rub the pork with maple syrup with extra flavour.

DIY: bacon making 5Measure and blend all of the seasonings in a spice grinder.

DIY: bacon making 6Combine the ground spices and garlic in a small bowl.

DIY: bacon making 7Rub seasonings all over the pork and place everything into a large ziplock bag. Shake the bag to distribute the seasonings and then place in the refrigerator for 7 days on a metal tray. Flip the bag every other day as some brine may accumulate as the salt draws water from the pork.

The bacon should firm up over the week. After 7 days, remove bacon from the ziplock and wash off the spices under cold running water. Pat bacon dry with paper towels. Heat oven to 200F and roast until meat is lightly browned and a measures 150F at the center (approx 2 hours).

Transfer bacon to a cutting board and slice off the skin. Let the bacon cool at room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate until completely chilled and enjoy! Bacon should be good for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 3 months, but you’ll likely enjoy it WAY before the expiry date!

tutorial :: canning spicy beans

guest post by Jackie Dives

Take advantage of the bounty of harvest time by canning foods so they are available to eat in the winter months. Despite the rumours, canning is not as difficult or time consuming as people make it out to be. It is a fun activity that keeps your mind and body healthy. Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October.

Equipment:

  1. 4 500ml canning jars with lids and rings
  2. 3 pots – small, medium, large

For inexpensive jars keep a look out at your local thrift store. Double check that the jars are crack and chip free. Jars and rings are reusable, but lids are not. Once the lid’s sealing compound is used it will not reseal properly again.

If you find a bunch of jars at a thrift store with no lids or rings it’s no problem. You can buy them at most grocery stores. If you prefer to buy new jars Canadian Tire has a great selection.

Optional equipment: (These things will help, but are not necessary)

  1. canning tongs
  2. lid lifter
  3. plastic spatula

If you are missing some equipment have a look at this website for DIY canning equipment instructions.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup kosher or canning salt
  • 2 ½ cups of white vinegar
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • 2 lbs green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 4 sprigs of dill
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Step 1: In large pot sterilize jars by boiling them for 10 mins. Water should be one inch above jars.

Step 2: While the jars are sterilizing, cut up the jalapenos and garlic.

Step 3: After 10 mins, take the jars out of the water. If you have tongs, use them. If not, wait for the water to cool before you take them out.

Step 4: Fill the jars with beans, jalapenos, garlic, dill and pepper.

Step 5: On high heat, stir the water, vinegar and salt in the medium pot, until the salt is completely dissolved. This liquid is the brine.

Step 6: Pour the brine into the jars, leaving about 1 inch of room below the top of the jar.

Step 7: Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth or paper towel. There can’t be anything on the rim, or else it may not seal properly.

Step 8: Remove any air bubbles by using the plastic spatula. The first time I canned I just used a plastic fork.

Step 9: Put the jars back in the large pot, adding water if needed, and boil for 10 mins. This is called heat processing.

Step 10: After 10 mins, take the jars out of the water. See step 3. Leave your jars to cool. The lids will make a snap or pop sound when they have sealed. If any of your jars do not seal, keep them in the fridge and eat from those jars first. Store the jars for a min of two weeks before eating.

These are basic instructions for canning. You can use this method for other foods including turnip, beets, okra, carrots. Simply look online for ingredient lists and heat processing times.

Originally posted on Granville Online August 31, 2010.

cook :: homemade yogurt

I love yogurt and include it in my daily breakfast routine, but buying organic yogurt at the local supermarket can quickly add up on your grocery bill! I decided to take the leap the other day and discovered that it is a ridiculously simple process. So why make your own yogurt? By making your own, you control what you put into it and for those that are lactose intolerant or vegan, a soy option is also available.

My inspiration for this project comes from two sources: The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrel-Kingsley and the April / May 2010 issue of ReadyMade.

Ingredients:
1 litre milk* (I used organic 2% from Avalon)
2 tbsp plain yogurt* (this is your starter)

Tools:
A pot (2.25 litre is a good size)
Wooden spoon
Whisk
A container that can hold 1 litre of yogurt (I used two 500ml mason jars)
A container that can keep the yogurt warm (see picture below—I used a large soup pot with towels for insulation or you may use a camping cooler).
An instant read thermometer to ensure the milk reaches a high enough temperature and then cools to the right temperature for the starter.

Makes 1 litre of yogurt
* For a vegan option, substitute milk with soy milk and yogurt with soy yogurt.

Step one
Clean everything in your work area with soap and hot water and leave out to air dry. Remember that we are working with a cultured dairy product and we want to ensure that no unwanted bacteria is introduced.

Step two
Heat your milk in a pan. I used a basic, fairly thick bottomed pot. You want to bring the temperature to 180° F/83° C, which takes approximately 10 minutes. This is just before it starts to boil and you will begin to smell the milk as it heats.

Step three
Once it hits 180° F, let the milk mixture cool down to 115° F/46° C and then whisk in the yogurt. Make sure that the yogurt is mixed in well.

Step four
Pour the yogurt into your container. This recipe makes 1 litre of yogurt, so I used two 500 millilitre mason jars to hold the yogurt. Make sure to keep the jars warm and still for 6 to 12 hours. I used a soup pot that I stuffed with towels to keep the heat in.

If you do not have a soup pot, the Home Creamery suggests placing the jars in a picnic cooler along with jars of hot water, then pouring the mixture into a thermos bottle.

Step five
After 6 to 12 hours, your yogurt should look like yogurt! Place the finished product into the fridge to cool.

When ready, mix well and enjoy. The yogurt will last up to a week.

Originally posted on Granville Online April 30, 2010

cook :: chicken tex mex salad


Since moving to London, we have been cooking A LOT and since some of the foods that we used to enjoy is not as accessible, I have started scouring the internet to create some of our old favourites.

I present to you my version of the Red Robin chicken mesa salad! Let me tell you, finding black beans and ranch dressing is no easy task in this City. I have only found two places in London that sell black beans (Whole Foods + Waitrose) and one place that sell ranch dressing (ASDA). Although my recipe below is not exactly the same, it has become one of my favourites.

ingredients:
makes 4 dinner size salads

One can of black beans
One can of corn niblets
One red pepper
Diced red onion
Lettuce
Red cabbage
Chicken breast (1 per person)
Fajita seasoning
Shredded cheese (I used white canadian cheddar)
Broken tortilla chips

Dressing:
Salsa (I made my own using this recipe)
Ranch dressing
1 tsp of fajita seasoning (from the package above)
(mix to taste – start with 1/4 cup ranch, one tbsp of salsa and seasoning)

Coat chicken breast with fajita seasoning. Once lightly coated, bake or cook on the stove as you normally would. Slice in strips and put aside.

Shred lettuce and cabbage. It depends on how big your cabbage is, but I bought a small head and used about 1/4. Dice red pepper and onion and put aside.

Rinse black beans and corn niblets. Mix together and add the red pepper, onion and cabbage.

In a separate bowl, place enough lettuce and bean / corn / pepper / onion / cabbage for one person. Add dressing to taste and mix until thoroughly coated. Place mixture onto dinner plate and add chicken breast. Sprinkle shredded cheese and broken tortilla chips on top. Enjoy!

** omit the chicken to make a vegetarian meal!

cook :: homemade bbq pizza


I love pizza. Back in Vancouver, Robert and I used to make our own pizza dough all the time using this recipe. We had read about making pizza’s on your BBQ before and after trying to bake a pizza without a pan and having the dough drop through the rack and bake into the crust, I can’t wait to try this recipe out. Plus now that we have a private roof terrace, I see a summer filled with sun and BBQ fun. Enjoy!

4 C All-purpose flour; more for dusting
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Package (2-1/4 tsp) Active-dry yeast
1-1/2 C Warm water (110°F)
2T Olive oil

Mix the flour and salt.
Pour in the water & yeast. Stir.
Add oil – be generous without flooding it.

Split the dough into two balls. Cover each bowl with saran (or an Abeego!) Leave it for as long as you can go – 40 minutes or more is ideal.

Pre-heat your BBQ to as hot as it goes (between 450° – 600°).

Cover a large cutting board with cornmeal. Lay your dough out in a parallelogram (you’ll see why later) and add your toppings. I prefer to keep it down to about four flavors for the base – tomato paste, olives, capicola, a sharp cheese and mozzarella blend. Shred some Romano and have some chilli flakes ready too. For added pleasure I like to salt the crust with sea salt.

When pulling the pie onto the BBQ be sure to give the cutting board a good shake to ensure that the pie will slip off. Get the board in deep and pull quickly. See video example here.

Allow the pie to cook a bit on the bottom rack. Once it’s cooked enough that you can lift it, move it to the top rack and pull your second pie (and so on) to the bottom.

Leave the pies on the grill for about 10 – 12 minutes.

When cutting the pie, cut in a ‘W’ to give nice large, New York sized slices. Yum!

images via Miranda McMurray