Saturday, August 14, 2021

Pasta Carbonara

 (picture soon)

  • 1 large egg and 1 large yolk, room temperature 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan 
  • Salt and Coarsely ground black pepper to taste 
  • 2 Tbsp water 
  • 2 ounces of pancetta or bacon, diced 
  • 6 ounces spaghetti

1.  Place a large pot of lightly salted water (no more than 1 tablespoon salt) over high heat, and bring to a boil.
2.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, yolk, garlic, and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.
3.  Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium heat, add water and pork, and sauté until the fat just renders, on the edge of crispness but not hard. Remove from heat and set aside.
4.  Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat pork in skillet, if needed. Place a stainless steel mixing bowl under colander, then drain pasta and let the draining pasta water heat the bowl.  Discard all but 1/4 C of the water, setting that aside, and use the empty heated bowl to combine all ingredients.  Stir for a minute or so.  Add some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated cheese and pepper.

 Robyn's notes: I have been working on my recipe for Pasta Carbonara for at least a year and a half.  The first time I made it, following a recipe from a well-regarded publication, I got pasta in scrambled egg.  So I did some research, and have been making slight tweaks to my recipe, trying to get it perfect.  I use very little of the pasta water, generally, but that's going to depend on taste and local conditions.  If desired, after the pork fat has cooled slightly, whisk one or two tablespoons, in a slow stream, into the egg/cheese/garlic mixture.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Friday, July 17, 2020

Chicken with Pear and Sage


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • thin slices Emmentaler or Gruyere cheese (about 1.5 oz total)
  • 1 small pear, cored and cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 C apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp finely shredded fresh sage
 1.  Place each chicken piece between 2 pieces of cling film.  Working from the center to the edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to 1/4 inch thickness.  Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
2.  In a medium skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken; cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning once.  Transfer to two dinner plates; top with cheese.  Cover and keep warm.
3.  In the same skillet cook and stir pear slices for 2 to 3 minutes or just until tender.  Add apple juice and sage.  Bring to boiling, scraping up any crusty brown bits from bottom of skillet.  To serve, spoon the pear mixture over chicken.

Robyn's notes: Good and quick.  There were a few bites where the sage was a little strong, it's not a flavour everyone likes, but it was mostly well balanced.  I used Gruyere (which it's been impossible to get for months, don't know how I lucked out this time) and the strength of the cheese against the sweet pear worked well.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Skillet


  • 1 8oz turkey tenderloin
  • 1/4 C apple juice
  • 2 Tbsp bottled hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (see notes, below)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 C thin, bite-size strips red, green, and/or yellow sweet pepper
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 small apple or pear, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
1.  Cut turkey tenderloin in half horizontally to form two 1/2 inch steaks; set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together apple juice, hoisin sauce, ginger, salt, and cayenne; set aside.
2.  In a large skillet cook sweet pepper strips and onion wedges in hot oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until nearly tender.  Remove vegetables, reserving oil in skillet.  Add turkey to oil in skillet.  Cook about 4 minutes or until brown, turning once.
3.  Return cooked vegetables to skillet.  Add apple juice mixture.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until turkey is done.
4.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer turkey and vegetables to a serving platter, reserving liquid in skillet.  Cover and keep warm.
5.  Combine water and cornstarch; add to liquid in skillet.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Add apple.  Cook, covered, about 3 minutes more or just until apple is slightly softened.  Spoon apple mixture over turkey and vegetables.

Robyn's notes: I was really exceptionally pleased with this, I thought it would be just "ok" for me and that he would really enjoy it, but turns out I liked it a ton.  I'd not used hoisin sauce before, but I was able to plan more recipes to use it, so keep an eye out for those, coming up.  I used ground ginger, because the weirdest things are selling out at this point in the pandemic (can't get frozen mango for love nor money around here, and I could get it easily three months ago, and Golden Delicious apples are an impossibility these days).  I measured generously, because ground herbs and spices are not as strong as their fresh counterparts.  I used a pear, just because apples are getting hard to come by and I wanted to use what I could get to make applesauce.  I did not cook as long as these instructions direct, because I was using my enameled cast iron skillet, which retains heat like crazy.  The turkey would have been bone dry if I'd cooked it for that long.  So I did about 3 minutes in the oil, turning once, and simmered about 6 minutes, at the most, slicing through to check for doneness.  I'm glad I pulled it when I did, it was perfect.  Thickness of the turkey will have a lot to do with this, I sliced it butterfly style so it was fairly thin.  

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently
(Bonus: the Welsh for "apple juice" is "sudd afal")

Friday, July 10, 2020

Rosemary Chicken

  • 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice 
1.  Slice chicken into half-inch strips. Sprinkle with garlic, rosemary, pepper, and salt. 
2.  Heat olive oil in skillet. Sauté chicken until lightly brown, remove to serving plate.
3.  Add lemon juice to drippings in skillet, cook and stir for one minute. Drizzle over chicken.

Robyn's notes: the lemon juice really comes along from behind with each bite, it was surprising but tasty. Be sure not to overdo it on the cooking oil; since the sauce is made of the drippings, if you use too much oil to begin with it'll be an oil slick on the plate.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Caribbean-Style Chicken


  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1.  In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken; mix well. Rub mixture on chicken breast halves. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to marinate.
2.  Spray broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray, place chicken on spray-coated pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear, turning once.

Robyn's notes: very simple, and it's good to have a couple recipes that require a very short marinade, for when you've forgotten to prepare anything or when plans change last minute. The original recipe source when this was a larger yield called it just "Caribbean Chicken", but even I know that people in that region wouldn't claim this recipe resembles their dishes, so I've added the modifier. I added the green onions for visual balance. Definitely needs the hot sauce.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Chicken with Peanut Barbecue Sauce


  • 1/4 C spicy barbecue sauce
  • 3 Tbsp apple juice 
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter 
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1.  In small saucepan, combine barbecue sauce, apple juice, and peanut butter; blend well. 
2.  Place chicken on broiler pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat for 10 to 14 minutes or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear, turning once and brushing with sauce mixture during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
3.  Bring remaining sauce mixture to a boil; serve with chicken.

Robyn's notes: this is so simple and tasty, great for a busy evening. I sometimes add just the tiniest dash of crushed red pepper, if the barbecue sauce I have on hand isn't spicy. I know I made this for the first time in 2001, because my mom was doing Weight Watchers then, and when I cooked for her I'd note the points value of the recipe. This one had "ww6" written on it (old points system).

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Marshmallows

I had long intended to make homemade marshmallows, without ever getting around to it.  I actually keep the necessary ingredients in the pantry all the time, so this made a good choice for Scratch-Made Sunday!  Personally, I'll now find it difficult to enjoy store-bought marshmallows, these are so creamy dreamy and easy to personalize with different flavours.
  • 3 3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 C ice cold water, divided
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1.  Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup of the cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Do not mix, allow to sit while continuing with next steps.
2. In a medium saucepan, stir together remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Cover and cook at medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240°F. Remove from heat immediately upon reaching that temperature.
3. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all syrup has been added, increase speed to high. Continue to whisk until mixture is lukewarm and very thick, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of mixing (if you'd like to make peppermint marshmallows, replace vanilla with peppermint extract).
4.  While mixture is whisking, prepare pan. Combine powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray an 8x6" pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add sugar-cornstarch mixture and shake to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
5. When marshmallow fluff is ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar-cornstarch to lightly cover. Reserve the rest of the sugar-cornstarch mix. Let marshmallows sit uncovered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
6. Turn pan out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or knife dusted with the sugar-cornstarch mix. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture. Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

Robyn's notes: this really isn't at all difficult, it's just time-consuming and there is a lot of dish-washing that can't be put off (get those sugar syrup- and marshmallow fluff-covered items soaking in hot water right away or you'll be chipping away at them for ages!).  I find it actually fairly soothing to make candy, but don't get complacent!  Sugar syrup at 240°F is a burn waiting to happen if you're not paying attention!  If you can get unflavored gelatin in a large canister, it's easy to measure out.  Otherwise, this is 1 1/2 packets from the box.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently