Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Jar Key, my newest toy, tool.

I'm so excited, had to share this with everyone.   

I get gift certificates to Amazon and tend to bank them up until I get enough to buy something off of my wish list. 

I had been looking for these Jar Key's for a long time in stores, and for some reason didn't think of looking on Amazon for them until a couple of weeks ago.  One of the reason's that I'd been looking for them,was that my cousin's husband invented them,  and they sell them all over Europe.

Here's their link if you want to check them out,  Brix Design   And I was curious as well.  

So I ordered one, got it, used it and then bought some more to use as gifts.

This is amazing.   You use it to lever the lid til the lid pops the vacuum seal, then just unscrew the jar.   And...
The jar is resealable. 
No more tapping the lid, or whacking it, or trying to find someone who has strong hands to open that jar.  (and no more broken jars cause you hit the counter just a tad too hard and the jar slipped out of your hand and shattered in a sticky mess on the tile floor. No idea how that one happened.)

Nope, just pop and it's done.  

And these little guys come in colors as well.   My first one, was white, but then I found a red one, and orange one and a yellow one and another orange one, giggle.  

I'm just going to show the picture of the white one here, and then go look for some more jars to open.  
Well, at least I'll keep the Jarkey handy.

It's going right there with some other essentials in my kitchen, like, the corkscrew and can opener and .....

  I'll be reviewing the other toys, tools as well soon.   
 **updated to add:  The current Jarkey I have is a pretty red one, cause a friend admired the white one and I in the nature of generosity gave it to her.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March Tapas Night

It was another wet and stormy night this month for Tapas, but people persevered and came anyway.   At one point the rain was falling at the rate of 6 inches an hour, YIKES!!!!!  But we only received just over an inch of rain, but that came in about 15 minutes or so.

Now that you've read the weather report, here's the round up of some of the great dishes that were brought.

And one thing I loved about this month, we had Thai, Polish and Indian food.   What a combination of tastes, textures and fun. 

 Chicken Satay with a killer Peanut Sauce, I could have just eaten the sauce by itself.   I am going to get the recipe and try my hand at it.


Sausage and Sauerkraut.   A great Polish dish.   And to think I used to avoid Sauerkraut, but have really grown to enjoy it over the couple of years.  Probably because people who know how to cook with it have made some incredibly delicious meals with it.







I made some Carrot Pakoras and they were very well received.











There was also this wonderful Salad, with all kinds of good stuff inside.











As well as a Bean Salad, yum.   I do love a good bean salad.











 Wonderful Green Beans, and look at the Kumquat slices on top, aren't they cute?

 Guacamole and Pita Chips...   again, people make and bring the most wonderful tasting food.  
Sliced meat and some wonderful sliced Roast Pork.   Very good and it disappeared in short order.










I also made a Carmelized Onion and Mushroom spread and served it with Goat Cheese.   I'll tell you about it in another post.











And then there were the desserts.   From Cupcakes, to Cake to Brownies and Eclairs.  Chocolate was the flavour of the month here.   And I neglected to get a picture of the eclairs, but I have one I took from Boat Club, so I'll just reuse it here.  You didn't notice, did you?



So there you have it, a round up of deliciousness, a cornucopia of flavours, all right,  enough adjectives, sigh.    We had fun, as usual, and even though the rain kept a few people from the soiree' a good time was had by all.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carrot Pakora for Taste and Create

I was asked to join with some other bloggers in a new place called Taste and Create.   Basically, you are paired with another blogger and make a recipe from their blog, take pictures, and blog about it.   Much like another group I'm a member of.  And since I really don't go out into the blogosphere and look for more food blogs, I'm more a stumble upon and gee where did I see that recipe at person, being assigned a blog is great.   And I got assigned a doozy of one, and I'm so excited to explore it in more detail.

I love Indian food, the hotter the curry, the better, but I really only know a few dishes to make,  and this blog makes a lot of Tamil dishes, so I get to learn  about Tamil cooking as well.  And I'm also trying to eat more meat free dishes as well, so being assigned this blog Veg Nation was serendipitous.  I love that word, anyway.

And gee, guess what, we're having Tapas this week so I get to try a recipe out on a bunch of people.    My only problem, there are too many good ones on her blog I want to try.    I want to try some of these, Corn Cheese Balls, and then there was this one, Carrot Pakora.  ,And as soon as I can locate finish making some Gram Flour, I'm making these for Tapas Night.
 Roasted some canned chickpeas til they dried out.


 I then put them in my spice grinder to make the meal.  











 Also had to make some rice flour.  

Which was interesting, and even though I didn't get it as fine as maybe it should be, I tried. 










Finally I was ready to make the Carrot Pakora's. 
Grated up the carrots, and chopped the onion.
Added them to the rice and gram flour.   Mixed it together with the spices, tasted it, and added more chili powder and some cumin.  Just felt it needed it.   However, I did need to add a fair amount of water.   I didn't measure it, but the whole mixture was so dry, that when I tried to make it into balls and fry it, they just fell apart in the oil.   And I really think I should have added even more water, cause I lost a lot of the carrot in the oil.
Since we were entertaining last night, I wanted to make these as part of our Tapas Night.
So I made the balls, and set them aside.
And fried them up a little later on, and they were very tasty, different, but tasty.   I am going to try and buy some real rice flour and real gram flour and make these again.    I liked them a lot.
These were served with a mango chutney, which I happened to buy a while ago and had no idea what I was going to use it for.  Just wanted it, in the pantry, just in case.

Here's Veena's recipe

2 grated Carrots
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup gram flour
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp Asafoetida  (I didn't have any of this)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp. cut coriander

Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them and transfer it to a bowl, add the onion and coriander and then add in the flours and the spices.   (Veena says that the moisture in the carrot is enough to mix the flours but I had to add more water).
 Heat the oil in a pan or in my case, I used my Fry Daddy, ( I don't use it often, but boy am I glad I have it.) 
Make small balls of the the dough and drop them in the hot oil, let them fry for about 3 minutes or until they brown up, remove from the oil and drain on some paper.   
 
Serve warm with chutney, I used some mango chutney I had in the cupboard.  

There you have it, my first recipe for Taste and Create.    And I'm so glad I was asked to join.   I got to try to make something I'd never heard of before and it was good.  


Monday, March 18, 2013

Penguin Eggs

Gotcha.

 I'm not really going to tell you how to cook Penguin Eggs, really, I'm not.   But if you want to have some fun with some chicken eggs, the next time you make and bring Deviled Eggs to a gathering or just at home, try holding out a few eggs and make some Penguin Eggs.

I made these for Boat Club and got a lot of positive response, in other words, people laughed and had fun with the whole idea.

Now for the confession. I had planned on making some Deviled Eggs to bring with me to Boat Club, and so I boiled a dozen eggs.   I then got out my new container, the one made to hold Deviled Eggs and transport them, and counted the slots.  Well, gee, I had more eggs then slots.   And while I knew I could just go ahead and stuff the eggs and put them in the middle, and they would get eaten anyway, I decided to have fun.

I knew I had a can of black olives in the pantry, turns out it was the medium size and you really want the jumbo black olives, if you decide to play with your food too.  But the medium size  worked.
I also had some carrots in the fridge, but unfortunately I just had the slender, dieting type, you do want fatter carrots for this as well.  At least the ends have to be fatter.    But I made it work, cause that's what I do.   And so what if one of the penguins kept falling off of his feet, I just told everyone he had too much to drink.

To start with, peel a few hard boiled eggs.  You know how to make hard cooked eggs and if you don't have much luck making them, then you need one of these.

 I have one I've used for a very long time now, they are called Eggsact Egg Timers, and all you have to do is watch the dark lines and you too can make, not only great hard cooked eggs, you can also make soft boiled eggs and every version in-between.  Oh and Eggsact Egg Timers have no idea who I am, I just like to share some of the great toys tools I've found over the years.




Didn't mean to get side tracked there, but now that you know how to make a great hard cooked egg, and you've peeled it, you're ready for the second step.
Set the eggs aside while you open and drain the can of black olives, pick out the best looking and firmest ones.   Then get your carrots out and cut a nice slice off of the top of the carrot.  This is the foot for the penguin.  Cut a little 'V' out of the front, and set aside.
OK, you are now ready to assemble.  Oh, and before I forget you do need some toothpicks as well.

Take one of the eggs, and place a black olive on top, slide a toothpick through and into one of the slices of carrot, making sure the 'V' you cut is to the front.

And that little 'V' you cut out, cut that in half and use it to stuff into the little hole in the olive, and you now have a beak.









Oh, and before I forget, you also want to cut some of the olives up so you can make little wings for the Penguins as well.  Just cut a slit in the side of the egg, and slide a piece of black olive in there.  I cut the olives in fourths for that one.  Just eat the ones you don't use.  No point in them going to waste. 


When you are done with all the Penguins you're going to make, take the rest of the olives and place them around the Penguins, and serve that way.















For transporting these guys, I did lay them down,














And here they are at Boat Club;

Go forth and have fun with your food.   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spanakopita Bites

Spanakopita

I found some Phyllo tart shells on sale a while back and bought them without knowing just what I was going to make with them.   And then I remembered my friend Debi and the great Stuffed Grape Leaves she showed us how to make.   Well, that day we also made some Baklava and since there was a bunch of Phyllo dough scraps left over, Debi made some Spanakopita tarts.  And they were so good and disappeared so fast.   

So, guess what?   I was totally shameless and stole her idea so I made some for the Boat Club Potluck this month.   I'm not using leftover phyllo dough, but I am using the phyllo or fillo if you insist, pre-made tart shells I bought. 


It just so happened I also had some Feta Cheese in the fridge, as well as some Parmesan Cheese and the tart shells, and onions, and eggs, and I found a package of frozen spinach buried in the bottom of the freezer as well.   I had all the ingredients.    Doncha just love it when it all comes together? 

   Nice little bites of goodness, well, I thought they were.   Although Debi did tell me I didn't put enough onion in them, so next time, I'll up the onion, or better yet remember to put the minced onion and garlic in them in the first place.  I don't know what I was thinking, but I sauteed the green onions, and totally spaced mincing another 1/2 onion and the garlic clove, well it was sitting on the counter all by its lonesome afterwards as well.  sigh.   I was in a hurry to get these made and I forgot stuff.  

So here's the real recipe and do as I tell you, not as I did.  However, the Spanakopita Bites, still tasted good, just not as good as they could have.

Recipe: Spanakopita Bites
 
30 Mini Fillo Shells, brushed with butter and set aside.

1 8 oz package of Frozen Spinach 
4 oz. Feta Cheese, either the block or crumbles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
4 green onions
1/2 cup onion 
2 cloves garlic 
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. 
Thaw the spinach and put into a colander to drain, then squeeze out the liquid.  Do a rough chop if needed, makes it much easier to fill the tart shells if you don't have to deal with a bunch of stems.
Saute' the onions til they are softened about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, stir around for about 30 seconds, take off the heat and set aside.
Place the spinach, cheeses, onions and garlic into a bowl, then pour over the lightly beaten eggs and milk, mix together.  
Spanakopita
 
 Spoon some of the filling into the tart shells, and bake for about 20 minutes or so until they are browned and the egg has cooked through.   

Don't forget to sample one as you take them out of the oven, you need to make sure they are edible after all.   

Serve warm or at room temperature.    You can also make these ahead of time, and just warm them in the oven for a few minutes, they are very forgiving that way.  
   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March Boat Club Potluck

Every month it's the same, an astounding variety of dishes and not only variety but deliciousness abounds.    This month there was such a gracious bounty I wasn't able to taste it all.

I do want to say Thank You to Cheryl-Ann, Quinn and Doug for hosting our monthly get-togethers,  we do appreciate them.

We had a crowd this month, and quite frankly some of the dishes were gone by the time I got to them.  But I did get to taste Miss Merle's Coconut Cream Pie.  She's a bit of a legend around here, and brought two pies for dessert.  I felt privileged I was able to snag a piece.  OK, so I went and got dessert before I finished eating my meal, I just didn't want to miss out on the pie.

So for those who keep track of these things, here's the round up of the dishes that were brought and shared this month.
 Deviled Eggs with Penguins guarding the olives, but they didn't do a good job, the olives and the eggs disappeared.   See the fingers reaching for the eggs, sheesh, some people. 

 Above, some Spanakopita Bites, I'll detail the how to's later on.
To the right here, Meatballs in a really yummy onion gravy.   By the time I got there the meatballs were gone, but the gravy, was awesome.  Of course I'm a sucker for onions anyway.
 Boiled taters and beans. 
 Taco Dip, and pardon the picture, but my camera decided to add some lines to this.  This was very good as well, and it disappeared in short order.

 Above, coleslaw, the good vinegary kind.

To the left, a rice dish that was very tasty,  I love rice.
 And to the right, Sausage Rolls, giggle.   Made by an English lady, so you know they were done right.   I indulged, and it made me realize just how much I love those.
 Grilled Sausage cooked with some cabbage, but served separately.   Found out they are stocked in our local grocery store, so guess who's going to buy some soon.

 An interesting salad.  Topped with cheese and mixed nuts.  And I had managed to snag some of this as well.
 Boiled Shrimp, simple and beautiful. 
 A salad made with apples and other good stuff. 
 Another plate of Deviled Eggs, which was a good thing, they are always a popular dish.
 Meatballs in Mushroom gravy.    I don't know if I should admit it, but I spooned some onto a slice of the herbed bread and had that.  I do love gravy on bread.  A little indulgence on my part. 
 Above some cheese and tomato topped Foccacia.

To the right, really awesome guacamole, with pico de gallo on top.  YUM
 The herbed bread I had with some mushroom gravy on top.
 Spinach Salad, with bacon and hard cooked eggs.   I really have to remember how much I like this kind of salad, so I can make it for myself sometime.
And last but certainly not least, Ham.  I have to learn how to make ham like this.  Tender, juicy, flavourful.











And for the desserts:

A nice mousse and cake layer.
 Miss Merle's Coconut Cream Pie.   She brought two, which was a very good thing. 
 Eclairs.  Nuff said. 
 Chocolate Cake
And last a Cherry Jello dessert.













You can understand why I didn't get to taste everything, there was just too much food.   I did overhear one lady asking who I was, cause I was taking pictures of the food, and it was explained that I had a food blog.   And you know when you're surrounded by awesome cooks and people who make wonderful food and best of all, share it at our monthly potlucks, it's nice to document it a little.   And besides which, this way I get recipes and how-to's and manage to add to my repertoire as well.

And that's it for March, whew.   Now to see if I can figure out what to make for our Tapas Night, which is coming up.   Putting the thinking cap on...