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Slow Cooker Islands’ Stew

Slow Cooker Islands’ Stew

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Fall has come to Ontario much too early in my opinion. I love autumn but starting in early September already? Toooo early!

It is fun make slow cooker meals again though and this interesting stew recipe will be ready when you are! Always a bonus after a busy day.

A few notes: very often when using stewing beef in a slow cooker, it needs to be browned first. Not here! It comes out very tender.

It also seems that if you set the cooker on LOW for only 6-7 hours, the meat and potatoes will not be cooked but they were.

One more thing – with just the coconut milk as the wetting agent, the original mixture seems dry at first but the sweet potatoes will release a lot of liquid while cooking and you end up with a thickened creamy sauce.

Ingredients:

1 T all-purpose flour

3-4 tsp. curry powder (I used mild but you can increase the heat by adding more or using a medium-to-hot curry powder instead)

1/2 tsp. allspice

Salt

Pepper

1 to 1 1/2 lbs stewing beef

2 very large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 “cubes

1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 14 oz can coconut milk

3 T fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 limes – 2 juiced and one cut into wedges as garnish

1 green onion, sliced

Method:

1. In large bowl, whisk together flour, curry powder, allspice, salt and pepper. Add stewing beef and toss until well coated.

2. Carefully lift the beef and place it into the slow cooker.

3. Add sweet potatoes and red pepper to bowl and toss in remaining flour mixture.

4. Spread the veggies over the meat and sprinkle with any remaining flour/spice mixture.

5. Open the can of coconut milk and carefully add the chopped ginger or pour into a bowl and add ginger. Stir.

6. Pour over the vegetables and beef.

7. Set cooker on LOW and leave for 6-7 hours.

8. Remove cover and add lime juice. Stir thoroughly and season with salt.

9. Plate and sprinkle green onions over top. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho

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Interesting……2 days ago it was sweltering hot, humid and perfect for a cold vegetable soup. Today……not so much! Very chilly, super windy and very fall-like. Oh well. I am going to post this recipe anyway. Who knows? The heat could be right around the corner again. Such is the month of September.

I have always enjoyed cold soups: borscht, vichyssoise and especially gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a very adaptable recipe – use almost whatever veggies you like but be sure to include tomatoes, onion and garlic.

My mother often added chopped hard boiled eggs as a garnish for most of her cold soups and they go well here.

Ingredients:

3 very large ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/2 lbs.)

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed with mortar and pestle

2 cups tomato juice

4 T sherry vinegar

3 slices day old bread or 3 slices lightly toasted

2 cups water

2 T olive oil

salt, pepper to taste

3 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients except salt, pepper  and eggs into a large bowl and let stand several hours.

2. Gradually add ladles of soaked ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Refrigerate until cold.

4. Season with salt and pepper

5. Serve with hard boiled eggs as garnish

Serves many!

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Spaghettini with Shrimp, Pine Nuts and Red Peppers

Spaghettini with Shrimp, Pine Nuts and Red Peppers

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Some nights, pasta is all I want. Here is a recipe that I’ve had for many years and which I have altered from the original. It makes a hefty batch so it’s possible to have it as leftovers later during the week or to take for lunch.

The highlights of this spaghettini dish are the onions, that soften as they cook in wine; the delicious plump shrimp; the toasted pine nuts; the red pepper sauteed with garlic and the fresh herbs at the end.

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Watch when toasting the pine nuts – they burn quickly if left unattended (and they are way too expensive to throw away!)

Ingredients

2 good handfuls of dry spaghettini

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup chopped onions or shallots

6 T butter

4 T olive oil

1 lb (450 g) shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-size pieces

2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 large red pepper, chopped

2 T fresh oregano, chopped

2 T fresh basil, chopped

2 T fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. Boil onion in wine for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk in butter, 1 T at a time. Set aside

3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add shrimp and saute until pink. Remove from pan using slotted spoon

4. Saute red pepper with garlic until pepper is softened

5. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghettini and a good big pinch of salt. Boil until pasta is al dente. Drain and return to pot

6. Add shrimps, red peppers, garlic, pine nuts and chopped herbs to pasta. Toss.

7. Add wine/onion mixture and toss until pasta is well coated.

8. Dig way down to the bottom when plating to get all the goodies under the pasta :)

9. Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 4

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

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This pie is like a giant chocolate pecan butter tart! I remember bringing it to a New Orleans-theme evening that our Gourmet Club was hosting back in the 80’s. It was a big hit then and still makes a lovely dessert for family or guests.

The original recipe suggests using a frozen pie shell from the grocery store so that’s what I do. It must be pre-baked to harden it up a bit.

The pie can be served as is or with a garnish of unsweetened whipped cream.

(Sorry about the ugly crust – half of the edge fell off!! I guess that’s what happens when you drop the box on the kitchen floor  before baking  :( :(

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 8″ frozen pie shell

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

2 extra large eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

Unsweetened whipped cream (Optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325F

2. Bake pie shell for 8-10 minutes

3. Remove from oven and sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips evenly into shell

4. Stir together corn syrup, sugar and eggs in medium bowl. Mix well

5. Add melted butter and mix until smooth

6. Pour mixture slowly and evenly into the shell.

7. Bake until firm, about 1 hour

8. Serve warm or at room temperature

9. Garnish with unsweetened whipped cream, if you like

10. Can be frozen.

Serves 6

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Hints for using AVOCADOS

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My family loves rich, creamy, high fibre, anti-oxidant, heart healthy avocados! They are terrific in recipes or can be eaten alone with just a squirt of lemon.

Most stores now separate very ripe (read: use right away) avocados from those that need to ripen. If you buy firm ones that you only need later, store them in a paper bag in a dark cupboard. They will be nice and soft in a few days.

I didn’t know this before but if you pinch out the last of the stem, if the small area underneath is green, it’s a good bet that inside the avocado will be green. If the small area revealed under the stem is already brown, leave that one in the store.

I bought this terrific avocado cuber at Williams Sonoma several years ago after I saw it featured in a magazine.

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I think they are quite readily available now. You just cut the avocado open lengthwise and push the cuber into the soft green area. Give it a slight twist and the “meat” comes out in one piece but as you tap it firmly onto a plate or bowl, the avocado drops in already cut into cubes. How cool is that???

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When making Guacamole ahead of time, add lots of lime juice, mix well and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that’s pushed right into the mixture so no air gets at it. The guacamole will stay green until serving time.

If you type “avocado” in the search box on my home page, you will find my recipes that feature avocados.

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Summer Salad with radishes and peas

Summer Salad with radishes and peas

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Northern Europeans serve a lot of fresh salads that include radishes. I have always found radishes to be kind of bitter and when I was a kid, I would fish them out of my salad and leave them at the edge of the plate.

That was then…this is now. I have seen a number of interesting, pretty radish salads on the internet lately and decided to combine a number of them to see how they’d taste. I’m happy to say that my experiment worked!

By leaving them to soak in a bit of lemon juice first, the bitterness of the radishes disappears! And the prettiness is not diminished.

This salad provides an interesting mix of flavours and textures: radishes, lemon, baby peas, mint and crunchy pistachios.

A very refreshing summer salad that we served alongside of BBQ’d fish.

Ingredients

3-4 large romaine lettuce leaves

9 large radishes or one medium bunch

2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

3-4 T red onion, finely diced

good pinch of salt

Frozen baby peas, boiled and drained

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled, roughly chopped and toasted

3 T mint leaves, chopped or shredded

1-2 T olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

1. Wash and dry lettuce leaves and arrange on plate or small platter

2. Slice radishes (not too thinly) and place in medium bowl

3. Add lemon juice, diced red onion and salt to bowl. Stir until radishes are coated with lemon juice

4. Set aside for 10 minutes

5. While radishes “marinate”, boil peas 3 minutes max, drain and cool

6. Mix peas and mint with radish mixture

7. Arrange on lettuce leaves

8. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

9. Scatter pistachios on top

10. Serve immediately

Serves 2

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Ice cream with liqueur and berries

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When I started entertaining in my early 20’s, a very easy go-to dessert was ice cream with some Grand Marnier or Framboise poured on top. The dessert featured here is slightly embellished incorporating berries and a sprig of mint.

As much as I like the aforementioned beverages, my absolute favourite is Cassis, a black currant liqueur. Growing black currants and making jam out of them is a very European summer pastime. I can’t be bothered so I cheat and buy a Swiss-made brand black currant jam at the local deli. Love it on toast and crepes.

Serve this dessert after a filling meal – it’s light, easy-to-make and looks gorgeous.

(PS – I apologize for the fake mint leaf – I used up all my mint leaves in the salad I was serving for dinner and forgot to save one :)

Ingredients:

1-2 scoops vanilla ice cream (or in my case vanilla frozen yogurt)

1-2 T black currant liqueur

1/4 cup black currants, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries (or any combination of your favourites)

Sprig of mint (for decoration)

Method:

1. Scoop ice cream into a small bowl

2. Scatter berries around and on the ice cream

3. Pour the liqueur over top

4. Decorate with a sprig of mint

Serves 1.

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