Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blueberries, Pancakes, and Pie...Oh My!

July is national blueberry month and this past weekend was the Barrie Hill Farms Blueberry Pancake Festival.  If you follow my blog, you may remember that we visited the farm last month to celebrate the Strawberry Festival.  On Saturday, we woke up early in the morning so we could be one of the first to enjoy the delicious blueberry pancakes!  We arrived at about 9 am.  The weather could not have been any more perfect - it was warm, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining!

I asked the friendly gentlemen if I could snap a couple of photos.  It was so nice talking with them!

Our breakfast consisted of 3 pancakes, and 2 sausages!  It was delicious!

Now that our tummies were full, it was time to go blueberry picking!  We headed out on the wagon ride that lead us into the blueberry fields...

We saw a large field of gorgeous gladiolus growing there too! 

I bought a few stems of gladiolus to take home and put in a vase!

Blueberries for sale!

We had a wonderful morning at Barrie Hill Farms.  The pancakes were delicious, and we really enjoyed the blueberry picking. what to do with all those berries?  Why, a blueberry pie, of course!

Making the pastry dough

2 pounds of blueberries

Filled with blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch and a little bit of cinnamon!

The pie is ready to go in the oven!

Bubbling blueberry pie, right out of the oven.  Now to cool & set for at least a few hours...

The pie turned out delicious!  

It is really special when you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  The sweetness from the ice cream really complements  the tartness of the blueberries!  I do hope you enjoyed reading this post.  It's another beautiful day here in my neighbourhood.  I hope it's a nice day where you are too!  Thanks for stopping by! XO

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Short and Sweet

For the past couple of weeks, we have been dealing with extreme heat and high humidity (and no relief in sight!).  What could be more refreshing on a hot summer day, than a tall glass of cool, refreshing lemonade?  It is so simple to make at home and tastes better than any store-bought lemonade I've ever tried. 

Here is my recipe.  I would like to share it with you...

Squeeze the juice of 8 lemons and pour through sieve to get rid of seeds and pulp.   
In a large pitcher add 8 cups of cold water, juice of 8 lemons, and approximately 1 1/2 cups of sugar (more or less, according to your taste).  I use instant dissolving granulated sugar, which dissolves easily into cold liquids.  Stir well.  Lastly, add a couple of fresh mint sprigs into the pitcher.  Ta-da! It's that easy.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold.  Add ice to a tall glass and pour.

Wishing everyone a happy Sunday.  Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend and keeping cool, somehow or another.  XOXO

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caldeirada / Portuguese Fish Stew

Caldeirada is a very typical Portuguese dish.  It is similar to the French dish, Bouillabaisse.  It's a type of fish stew cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, paprika, and of course fish.  I remember the first time I ate this was at my Mother-in-law's house, back when my husband and I were dating.  This is one of my husband's favourite meals.  I know how much he loves it, so I made it for dinner last night.  I would like to share the recipe with you:

Caldeirada - serves 4

1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
1 green bell pepper OR 1/2 green, 1/2 red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves
12-15 small boiling potatoes (of similar size)
3 tsp coarse salt
3 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 pounds assorted fresh fish
fresh seafood (if desired)

First, peel and cut onion into thin slices.  Chop 2 large tomatoes into coarse chunks.  Cut green pepper in half, lengthwise, remove seeds, and slice into thin strips.(You can also use 1/2 green pepper & 1/2 red pepper). Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves.  Set aside.  Peel 12-15 small potatoes, cut in half, and keep submerged in water until ready to use.

The trick to Caldeirada seems to be the importance of layering.  Here's how I do it...

Layer 1 - In a large pot, add half of each (onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers).  Add 1 tsp coarse salt, 1 tsp paprika powder, and bay leaf.

Layer 2 - Add all of the halved potatoes over the first layer.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of paprika powder.

Layer 3 - Over the potatoes, add remaining half of each (onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers).  Add 1 tsp of coarse salt, 1 tsp of paprika and 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro leaves.

Next, add 1 cup dry white wine to the layers and fill the rest of the pot with water, just until the potatoes are covered.  (I used 6 cups of water for my large pot).  Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  Bring the water to a boil, over high heat. 

Let the stew boil for 5 minutes before you add the fish.  This is what it should look like.  Set the heat to medium high.  Now it's time to add the fish...

You can use 2-3 pounds of fresh fish.  I used sea bass, grouper, red snapper, skate fish, and 2 sardines (typical of Portuguese Caldeirada).  This fish was bought fresh and cut at the market.  You must use fresh, frozen just won't give you the same flavour.  I also added some mussels, clams, and a couple of blue crabs. (You don't have to add the seafood if you don't want to).  You can also add shrimp or scallops, if you like. Seafood adds great flavour to the stew. 

Place mussels, clams, and crabs on top of your stew, and then the sliced, assorted fish over top.  Cover the pot with its lid and cook over medium high heat for approximately 20 minutes, or just until potatoes are cooked.  The steam from the sealed pot will cook the fish, without having to immerse it in water.  Be sure to check the potatoes, you wouldn't want them to overcook and break.  It will make a mess in the stew. And of course, don't forget to taste for salt. 

And here is the stew, served on a typical Portuguese plate.  Use a ladle to pour some of the delicious sauce over the fish and make sure you have some fresh, crusty bread for dipping!  Add some chopped cilantro over top and you have a delicious meal! 

ENJOY!!  xoxo

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Tale of Henrietta the Hen - Part 1

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a happy little family of four - a Mommy, a Daddy, and their two little girls - Anita and Annabel.  They lived in a little red brick house with a white painted porch and heart cutout shutters. Behind the house was a large fenced-in yard with lots of room for the children to run and play.  There was plenty of grass, pretty gardens, bird feeders, baths, an apple, cherry and crab apple tree too! 

The family had a sweet old house cat, named Buddy,  four dear bunnies (Max, Caramel, Clover and Honey), and a large family of quails.  The cat lived inside with them and the other animals were housed in the yard, in a wooden shed built by Daddy - a carpenter by trade.  The shed had two large windows for sunshine and a door, which was securely locked every evening, for fear of intruders, like raccoons! 

Although, they had many pets, there was still something missing, and that something was a hen.  Why a hen, you ask?  Well, hens lay eggs, you see, and Mommy loved to bake for her family.  How wonderful it would be if they had fresh eggs daily!  And so it was decided, they would look for a hen!

The day finally came, in early Spring, when the little family drove a good, long way to a livestock market that sold chickens, rabbits and other birds.  The air was still very cold and crisp, you could tell Winter still hadn't given way to Spring.  There were cages and cages on the yellow grass floor, filled with hens and roosters of every sort.  You could here them clucking and cock-a-doodle-doodling all the while.  Mommy couldn't help thinking that many of those unsuspecting chickens would end up in a pot, in a stew, a soup, or roasted with carrots and potatoes.  She was happy to think they could save, at least one of those chickens, from such a fate. 

Daddy and Anita picked the perfect one, a Rhode Island Red hen.  It wasn't the prettiest one they could find, as you may have suspected.  No, she was very dirty, and was being pecked and stepped on by the other hens.  That's why she was perfect!   She was placed in an orange, mesh, onion bag with a drawstring pulled tight, to keep her from escaping.  Daddy put her in the trunk and drove the long way home.  The hen did not make a peep the entire way.  She was quite concerned, wondering where she was going, but was enjoying the freedom of being on her own, for the very first time.  The family thought of names for the hen, and it was decided - Henrietta, they would call her! 

Once at home, Henrietta was taken inside, through the hallway, down the stairs, and into the sink, for her very first bath. Henrietta was very stinky and dirty (all that time in a small cage with the others).  Daddy gave her a bath, while Mommy, Anita, and Annabel watched in delight.  They couldn't believe how calm she was.  Henrietta was loving her fresh new self, and was quite pleased with all the attention!

To be continued...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Barrie's 10th Annual Ribfest

Last Thursday was the first day of Barrie's 10th Annual Ribfest.  The much-anticipated  festival consists of several rib teams, from Ontario and USA  who cook their best ribs, pulled pork and chicken for lucky festival-goers.  There were teams from as far as Florida, Texas, and New Mexico!  Rib teams compete with each other to see who wins "best ribs" and "best pulled pork" at the show.  The festival ran from Thursday, July 7 to Sunday, July 10 at Memorial Square in downtown Barrie.  I, of course, visited the festival on day one.  It is something we, as a family, look forward to every summer, since moving to this wonderful city.  I must warn you that these pictures were taken on the first day of the festival, therefore, you don't see very many people.  When I went back a second time on Saturday evening, it was very crowded, with the only seating being the grass!  The festival is getting bigger and bigger each year! 

Rib teams from left to right- Hawg's Gone Wild, Gator BBQ, Camp 31, and Silver Bullet

Rib teams from left to right - Uncle Sam's BBQ, Crabby's BBQ, and Bibb's BBQ

There were 7 rib teams showcasing their best ribs, pulled pork, and BBQ chicken.  This was my 3rd time to Barrie's Ribfest.  Last year, we tried Camp 31 from Alabama. The ribs were delicious, but this year we wanted to try something new, so we went to Crabby's BBQ, a team from Ontario, Canada. 

Here, on display, are the trophies won by Crabby's BBQ! 

Here, you can see one of the team members basting a rack of ribs with their famous sauce.
Mmm!  I wish you could smell the smoky, BBQ goodness in the air! 

Ribs weren't the only yummy thing to eat, there were also vendors selling roasted corn, bloomin onions, butterfly fries and freshly squeezed lemonade!  Live bands also played throughout the weekend!  The weather couldn't be any more perfect, maybe a little too hot! 

We brought our rib dinner across the street to Centennial Park and sat in this large gazebo.  We spread out our blanket on the table and had a picnic by the bay.  It was great, because we had a room with a view and we could also hear the live band playing from here.  It was perfect!

These are called butterfly fries - very crispy and highly addictive! 

The ribs were fall-off-the-bone delicious and the pulled pork was so moist and juicy!  We all agreed that we liked Crabby's pulled pork even better than the ribs, but they were both delicious! 

I would like to share with you some pictures of  Barrie's Centennial Park, overlooking Kempenfelt Bay...

The gazebo where we ate our dinner.

I hope you enjoyed reading today's post.  We had a wonderful time at the Ribfest and can't wait to do it all over again, next year!  Unfortunately, I still don't know who won, as I wasn't at the festival yesterday.  I should find out soon, as I'm sure it will be announced in tomorrow's newspaper.  Have a great day and thank you for stopping in! xo

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pissaladiere S'il Vous Plait!

Yesterday evening, I made something new for dinner, something I had never made (or even heard of before) -  it's called Pissaladiere.  It resembles a pizza, but is topped very differently.  It originated in the region of Southern France.  Before I go on, I have to thank my dear friend, Rachel, for giving me the inspiration to try this new dish.  She posted it on her delicious food blog .  When I saw the photo of the scrumptious looking pissaladiere she made, I looked on-line for a recipe so I could try it myself.  My friend Rachel, made the dough for hers from scratch.  I cheated and bought ready-made pizza dough.  It turned out so lovely, I am going to make the dough from scratch next time. 

I found a great recipe for Pissaladiere on the Epicurious website.  I adapted the recipe to my own liking.

I sliced 3 large vidalia onions very thinly and minced 4 cloves of garlic.  I used 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme and 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary (finely chopped) from my garden.  In a large skillet, I heated 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and sauteed the onions, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and a bay leaf over low heat with the lid on for approximately 40 minutes.  Every once in a while, I gave it a little stir with my wooden spoon.

This is what it looks like when it is done - the onions are sweet and caramelized and the liquid is evaporated.  DELICIOUS!  This will be the "tomato sauce" for your pizza.  Now stir in one tablespoon of capers (drained).  Let it sit and cool.  In the meantime, get your pizza dough from the fridge and let it rise on your counter top for approximately 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough using flour to prevent sticking.  Place in a round pizza pan, lightly dusted with yellow cornmeal.  Spread your onion mixture evenly on your dough, leaving an edge for the crust.  Next, add approximately 20 kalamata olives and anchovies.  It is common to use anchovies, but I only put it on half the dough, because the girls wouldn't like and I am not a big fan either.  They are a bit too salty for my taste.  But, Nuno loves them!

Unfortunately, in all the excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the dough and all the toppings before I popped it in the oven at 425 degrees F (400 degrees F using my convection oven) for 30 minutes.

And here it is, in all it's glory!  I must say, I wasn't sure if the girls were going to like it, but they did!  The onions almost melt into the dough and become crispy.  The flavor of the onions is so mild, with a hint of thyme and rosemary and the saltiness of the olives and anchovies counter balance the sweetness.  This was wonderful.  Nuno and loved it.  It was something new and different.  I will definitely be making this again.  Thank you to Rachel for the inspiration!  Maybe I have inspired YOU?

I will leave you with this great quote...

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Shiny New Toy

This past week, Nuno & I went out and bought our very first kitchen stove.  The one we owned previously, was used and given to us by a friend a few years ago, when we still lived in our first apartment.  It was a white, coil top electric range and was still in good shape, but I had been wanting to purchase a new stove, for quite some time.  At first, I wanted a gas range, but then decided against it, after weighing the pros and cons of owning a gas oven.  I opted for a new stainless steel smooth top range with convection oven. The glass top is smooth and so easy to clean and the convection baking seemed like the best way to go!  I'm certainly loving the new buttons and gadgets!  And I have 3 racks!  I only had one rack in the last oven! Can you believe it?!

This is the first thing I cooked on the range - corn on the cob & sweet potato fries.

On Saturday, I made pesto sauce for a pasta side dish.  It is so easy to make!  All you need is 2 cups of fresh basil leaves (from my herb garden), olive oil, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and a little salt and pepper.

Throw it all into the food processor and pulse until it is smooth. 

This was our dinner on Saturday night - grilled pork and pesto pasta!  

Sunday, I wanted to experiment with the new convection bake mode in my oven.  So, I decided to bake some brownies.  I adapted a recipe from the book Baked, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  I played around with the recipe and made a few changes here and there.

Buttered a 9x13 inch glass baking dish

Melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Contrary to the authors' brownie wisdom, I DID add a teaspoon of baking powder and found that it gave the brownies a little height, but did NOT make them "cakey" in the least.

The brownies are baked to perfection and cooling on a wire rack

Here they are - chocolatey, rich, moist and chewy!  And perfect with a tall glass of milk!

I was very pleased with the way they turned out.  This recipe will definitely be in my cookbook.  I can't wait to share it with everyone.  Thank you again, for stopping in and spending some time in my kitchen!  Please leave a comment.  I love hearing from you!  Happy Tuesday! xo