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Dinner for Seafood Haters - Fish and Chip Cakes with Lime Tartar Sauce, Brown Butter Scallops on Cauliflower "Risotto" and a Giveaway!

So, we all want to try to make better choices when we are buying food, right? We try to figure out which foods really need to be organic and which foods need to be, at least, certified hormone free. We are encouraged to go for a drive, meet farmers and see how their animals are raised, go to farmer's market and forge relationships with the growers and make better, informed purchases. 

Brown Butter Scallops on Cauliflower "Risotto"

I love a challenge. I was asked by MSC (the Marine Stewardship Council) to throw a little #OceanToPlate dinner for friends using MSC certified seafood and because that felt too easy, I chose to invite my friend who claims to hate seafood. To add to the challenge, she and her husband are on a restrictive diet at the moment and so they couldn't have rice, potatoes, beets, or pasta which are all my usual suspects when I am feeding them.

My First Pressure Cooker CheeseCake with ButterScotch Shortbread Crust and Raspberry Chambord Coulis

If you live in Toronto, you have probably had shortbread from Mary Macleod's at some point. Unlike most other self named companies, there really is a Mary Macleod and she started baking her famous chocolate crunch shortbread in 1981. Even after 30 years in the business, Mary, herself, still spends time in the kitchen coming up with new treats like the Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs I used to make the crust for this cheesecake.

I was more than happy to accept a free bag of cookie crumbs to experiment with because I would happily buy them anyway. I used to live right across the street from Mary's shop on Queen St East for a few years and so I was very familiar with the product. It's not like I had ever run over there in my pjs and grabbed a few cookies to go with my morning coffee or anything.....

The Week In Yum is Back with visits to Cresta, Torteria San Cosme, Foodoes and Beast

You know, even people like me get sick of eating out all the time and need to take a break. Even when we went to NYC before Xmas, it was so nice to not feel like I had to hit all of the hottest restaurants and if I forgot to photograph what we ate, oh well. For the first time, in a long time, we just wandered, popped into any old place that looked interesting, snacked here and there and just concentrated on being in the city. I put photos on instagram and updated fun stuff that we did but it wasn't all just food, food, food.

Per La Famiglia review, Sweet Potato with Pickled Eggplant and a Giveaway to Boot!

If you are not lucky enough to have a nonna of your very own, you can soothe your inner Italian soul with Per La Famiglia, Memories and Recipes of Southern Italian Home Kitchen, the newest cookbook by Emily Richards. Part cookbook, part scrapbook, the book is full of photos, memories and family stories and as soon as my complimentary copy showed up on my doorstep, I read the whole thing, cover to cover.

Maple Leaf Foods and Gastropost Team Up For #FeedItForward

Feed Tomorrow 2015

Most people who read food blogs probably don't have to worry about having enough healthy, whole foods to eat and to feed their families. We might complain about that $8 cauliflower and wait, crankily, for the price to come back down before we start buying it again but, on the whole, while still watching for sales and clipping the odd coupon, we go about our daily business, never having to agonize over how we are going to make the food in our kitchen stretch out and last until the next payday.

Instant Pot Korean Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce

*I don't know what is going on with my template but at this time, I can't do anything about this damned all caps sitch, so my apologies in advance. I am not screaming at you.

I haven't met a pulled pork that I don't love. I love South Carolina style with a mustard mop, I love it with tomato based BBQ sauce and a carnita will never be kicked out of my bed for eating crackers. All that said, the one I like to make at home is this recipe - gochujang is my spirit animal. 

Lunch at Diwan in the Aga Khan Museum Is a Delight for the Eyes As Well As the Stomach

Getting to the Aga Khan Museum is not easy if you don't drive so let's get that out of the way right now. It's tucked away on Wynford Drive (basically Don Mills and Eglinton), a stone's throw from the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and there is ample parking available on site. The last thing you would expect to see here, on the outskirts of the city proper, is a large, ultra modern building with a shimmering white granite top. The grounds are huge, with gardens and reflecting pools and I cannot wait for summer so that I can return and explore them. 

Instant Pot to the rescue - Avgolemono Soup

One of the most comforting soups that I make is this Greek lemony chicken soup that is thickened with egg. Sometimes I make it with orzo but because I prefer to use a nice, starchy rice like arborio it usually takes a solid 45 minutes or so to make even if I have the chicken stock on hand. That's not super time consuming, by any means, but on nights where I realize that it is 7pm and I forgot to make dinner (which actually happens more than you can imagine),  knowing that I can whip this up in about ten minutes is thrilling in my little world. 

Making Chicken and Vegetable Broth in the Pressure Cooker

Jackfruit Pozole uses vegetable stock 

 So many dishes start with stock or broth so having a freezer stash of 1/2 cup pucks of stock is a life saver, especially if you are pressure cooking because you can just throw those frozen pucks in without worrying about defrosting or measuring.

There is no magic formula to making broths and stock in the pressure cooker and I am not going to talk to you about "bone broth" which is kind of just the hipster term for a super long cooked meat stock that turns to gelatin when it's cooled down. I am just talking about the good, old, dependable workhorse of the kitchen.

I am also not going to get into the semantics of whether this is broth or stock because we are not kitchen scientists (okay, I do play one on TV) and we are just looking for flavourful liquid to use in most of our recipes that is homemade, not full of additives and fake flavourings and, because of the pressure cooker, take a fraction of the time as a stock simmered in a pot on the stove.

Starting with frozen ingredients? No problem with a pressure cooker but keep in mind that when you start with frozen, it will take a longer time to come to pressure but, once it does, it's all the same

You can't make a great soup without a great stock as the base and then, you can add almost anything - let your imagination and your fridge inspire you

I found some silicone muffin trays that hold 1/2 cup of liquid and the silicone makes it easier to pop them out after they are frozen. I have also used my traditional metal muffin trays but you have to let them sit out for a few minutes to be able to pop out the pucks without warping your muffin tin as you twist it, swear, bang it on the counter and then throw it against the wall in an effort to pop the frozen pucks out quickly.

I vacuum seal packs of four for 2 cups of stock for use when I am making things like risotto or soup but I pop the rest of the stock pucks into a normal freezer bag so that I can just grab one at a time for recipes that only require 1/2 cup or 1 cup of stock. Just freeze the stock in the muffin trays, pop them out when they are rock hard and pop them into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible and keep them in the freezer. If you make more than one type of stock, make sure to label the bag with a sharpie. As I make more stock, I just keep adding to the same bag so I don't really go through that many freezer bags at the end of the day.

Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup  needs a good stock base - vegetable stock works just as well as chicken

Lemony Chicken Risotto - the two most important elements to any risotto are the type of rice and the stock you use

This Chicken and Beluga Lentil Stew is a snap when you have frozen chicken stock at the ready

Turkey Scotch Broth  uses turkey broth - just replace your chicken bones with turkey - don't ever throw out your turkey carcass again!

Avgolemono Soup absolutely depends on a rich, lemony chicken broth

Vegetable Broth

Fill your pot 1/2 way with vegetables and vegetable scraps
make sure you have:
onion, halved and unpeeled
a clove or two of garlic, unpeeled and smashed lightly
a bay leaf
kosher salt
fresh herbs like a sprig of thyme
some black peppercorns

It's nice to add:
potato peels
mushrooms (dried are great too - throw in a couple dried chinese mushrooms)
fresh parsely

avoid strongly flavoured vegetables like:

brussels sprouts

Cover the vegetables with water (don't fill more than 2/3 full) and a good pinch of kosher salt, close the valve and cook on HP for about 20 to 30 minutes - the longer you cook, the more flavourful the broth. Let it NPR for about 10 minutes afterwards, strain through a fine, mesh strainer into a bowl and discard solids.

(it takes my cooker about 15 to 18 minutes to come to pressure but you can speed that up by adding boiling water if you are in a hurry)

Chicken Broth (sub in turkey bones/carcass if you want)

about 2-3 lbs of chicken carcass, wings, drumsticks, chicken feet or a whole, small bird
an onion, halved
a couple cloves garlic
bay leaves
black peppercorns,
kosher salt
a lemon is often nice

Put everything but water in the pot and then fill with cool water until everything is covered (don't let it get past the 4L mark inside). Close the lid, make sure the valve is on the sealing position and program it on manual for at least 20 minutes. If you have the time, cook it for longer - the longer you cook it, the more intense the broth will be. I like to cook it for between 45 minutes and an hour if I can.
When it's done, you can quick release but, again, if you have the time, let the pressure come down naturally. Pour the broth into a big bowl, using a strainer. When the contents of the strainer cool down enough to handle, pick through them and get all of the meat off of the bones and put aside to use in a soup and then discard the solids. If not using it right away, freeze the chicken for another time.

Put the cooled stock in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and scrape off most of the excess fat.

* Feel free to cater your broths to the finished product so, for Asian dishes, throw in ginger, scallion, fish sauce etc
For Italian dishes, throw in oregano, basil, some tomato, a dried up old rind of parmesan

Lemony Chicken Risotto Under Pressure

One of my favourite things to make in my Instant Pot is risotto, which surprises nobody more than me. I have always railed against any recipes that claim to result in a creamy, rich risotto that ditches the need to stand in front of the stove, glass of wine in hand, and stir for 20 solid minutes.
BAH! I said as I laughed in the face of the no stir, oven baked, microwaved risotto methods that were going to change my life.


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