Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy Easter! Greek Lamb Chops with Tzatziki Sauce, Greek Salad and Cheese Blintzes

 May joy fill your day,

Hope light your path,

And the many blessings of Easter 
warm your heart...


 
Wishing you a Happy Easter!!

 

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, and Easter is this weekend.
Time flies when you’re in a Covid-19 induced mind fog and, basically, time has lost all meaning.


But, even though we’re not enjoying our usual holiday traditions or large get-togethers, we’re still here and that’s something to celebrate.

Hoping you and yours stay safe and well!
 

Hints:

If you’re preparing a meal for two, here’s a marinade for 3/4 pound lamb chops:
1/4 Cup olive oil                        
2 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder, more or less
salt and pepper to taste

Lamb chops are best when they are medium – medium rare (62ºC / 145ºF).
The meat should be blushing pink in the centre.
Be sure to allow them to rest before serving so they will stay juicy.


Wondering what to serve with Greek lamb chops? Here are some ideas:
Mashed potatoes or garlic baked potato wedges
Asparagus, marinated white bean salad or buttery carrots
Greek salad with feta cheese and pita bread


About that Greek Salad…
In Greece it is called horiatiki (Village Salad) and has cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, Kalamata olives, green pepper, and Feta cheese, with a dressing made from olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and seasoned with a little dried oregano.
But no lettuce.
Greeks eat seasonally, and that means fresh. A Greek Salad is usually a summer dish. Since lettuce only grows in Greece during the winter months a traditional horiatiki does not include lettuce.

Feta is Greece's most famous cheese and, according to many recent reports, it's also the healthiest cheese in the world. Mainly made from sheep or goat milk (often combined), Feta cheese is nutrient-rich.

If, in your household, a salad isn’t a salad without lettuce, just add it and enjoy.
Zorba won’t be visiting with the salad police.


Tzatziki Sauce is also excellent as a dressing for gyros or Greek Salad, or as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables.


A box of phyllo usually has 24 leaves in it.
If one set of blintzes has one leaf more or less, no problem.


                        Tzatziki Sauce

Place in a food processor or blender
8 ounces plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 teaspoon garlic powder, more or less)
salt and pepper to taste
Process until well-combined.
Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavour.


                        Greek Lamb Chops

Place in a large bowl
1/2 Cup olive oil                        
1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Add
2 pounds lamb chops
Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes, the longer the better.

Heat a griddle pan or outdoor grill.
Cook the lamb chops for 3 to 4 minutes per side until they are almost charred.
Stand the chops up to allow the fat to render and crisp up.
Remove the lamb chops from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Garnish with lemon slices or wedges before serving.


                        Greek Style Cheese Blintzes

Makes 12 blintzes

Place in a medium bowl
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 Cup orange marmalade
1 large egg
Beat until smooth.

Melt
1/2 Cup butter or margarine

Unroll on waxed paper
8 ounces phyllo leaves
Place a damp towel over the leaves when not layering and brushing with butter or margarine.

Place on a cutting board
1 phyllo leaf
Lightly brush with melted butter or margarine.
top with another phyllo leaf and brush with melted butter or margarine.
Repeat with another 6 leaves.
Cut into thirds.
Using 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture in total, spoon mixture on each portion.
Roll up the 3 blintzes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Repeat 3 times with the remaining phyllo, cream cheese mixture and melted butter or margarine.

Preheat oven 375º F
Brush tops with remaining melted butter or margarine.
Bake 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox / Bourbon Chicken

 

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday is the start of the Year of the Ox.
Think of it as a second chance to make - and KEEP - New Year's resolutions!
The festivities last until the full moon rises, about two weeks from now.
Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.


There are many traditions observed over the New Year period:
    •    Decorate your house with apricot and peach blossoms,
                 symbols of new beginnings.
    •    For happiness and wealth eat persimmons.
    •    Do not cut your hair or use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day
                 as you may cut off good fortune.
    •    Wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.
    •    Give red envelopes to friends and family for good luck and prosperity.


There are also food traditions and meanings:
Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
Uncut noodles is a symbol of longevity
Fish and chicken are symbols of prosperity
Oranges and tangerines will give you luck, wealth, good health, and a long life

Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year.
Day seven is the birthday of human beings. Long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are traditionally eaten on that day.
On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to settle their stomachs.
The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival and eating leftovers.


Covid-19 has brought changes to our lives over the past year.
One of the simple pleasures of being a senior is going to a mall for a bit of mall walking, doing some shopping, maybe seeing a movie and enjoying a meal at the food court.
I believe that food courts are so much better than restaurants.
We don’t have to choose a particular type of food, but can enjoy Chinese and Italian food at the same time.
Does it get any better than that!

Our local mall has a Chinese outlet next to a Cajun one, and they seem to be operated by the same family, whose members could often be found cheerfully handing out samples of Bourbon Chicken in pre-Covid times.
It is actually a Cajun dish named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Whatever… it’s delicious and easy, so we can enjoy it, even during the pandemic.


Hints:

Don’t have boneless, skinless chicken breasts? This recipe also works with pork.

If you want more of a kick, add more bourbon.

If you want a thicker sauce, double the cornstarch water mixture.

This recipe makes enough for two, but it’s easy to increase if you're feeding the family.
Don’t worry about the kiddies - the alcohol burns off.
If you’re cooking for more than two people fry the chicken in batches and remove the fried pieces to a bowl. If the chicken is crowded it won't brown as nicely.
Return the browned chicken to the pan before adding the sauce.


                        Bourbon Chicken

Cut into 1-inch cubes
two chicken breasts (about 10 ounces)

Place in a small bowl
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Place in a large skillet
1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat and add the chicken.
Sauté until fully cooked and browned.
Add
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the bourbon sauce to the chicken and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, place in a small bowl
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Stir together and slowly add the mixture to the sauce.
Stir frequently until it thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.

                           ~~~
If you’d rather not cut the chicken, here’s an easy variation that feeds four.

                        Bourbon Chicken

Place in a large skillet
3 tablespoons oil
Sauté
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
Remove garlic and onion from skillet with a slotted spoon.
Add
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Brown on both sides.
Add
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons bourbon
salt and pepper to taste
the fried garlic and onion
Stir all together.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Anna Sultana’s Dark Chocolate Cheesecake and Impossible Brownie Pie


Oh, my… tomorrow it will be February!
And in two weeks it will be Valentine’s Day.

Don’t panic... just plan a menu.

February first is National Dark Chocolate Day.
It’s a sign!
It’s still a stressful time, so why not make a cheesecake, preferably a chocolate cheesecake.
Chocolate may not be a scientifically backed aphrodisiac, but it is a traditional favourite.

Gotta love tradition!

We still have to get through another two weeks.
Impossible Brownie Pie is easy to make for supper.

Stay safe and well, everyone!


Hints:

Not a fan of dark chocolate?
You can substitute sweet or semi-sweet cooking chocolate or chocolate chips.

About the Dark Chocolate Cheesecake…
Due to the high moisture content of this cheesecake, you don’t need to bake it in a water bath to prevent cracks from appearing.

When cutting a cheesecake, clean your knife after each slice with a towel and hot water.
The warm clean knife will give you perfect slices every time.

About the Impossible Pie...
If you’re using a blender have it two minutes on high, stopping blender occasionally to stir.


Dark Chocolate Cheesecake


Preheat the oven to 350° F
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

For the crust

Place in a large bowl
20 chocolate wafers, crushed
1 Tablespoon sugar
Stir together, then add
1/4 Cup butter, melted
Stir until evenly distributed.
Press the cookie crumb base into the parchment lined pan.
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.
Set aside to cool.


For the cheesecake

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F

Melt
10 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Place in a large mixer bowl
32 ounces cream cheese
Beat until smooth and creamy.
Add
1/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Cup sugar
Beat until the mixture is well blended.
Gradually add the melted chocolate.
Beat until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add one at a time, beating well after each addition
4 large eggs

Pour the chocolate filling over the baked crust.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until the centre is set.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven.
Allow it to rest at room temperature until completely cool.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Once cheesecake has cooled and set, make the ganache.

For the ganache

Place in a saucepan
5 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 Cup heavy cream 
Stirring constantly, melt together over low heat until completely smooth.
Pour and spread over the top of the cheesecake.
Refrigerate the cheesecake another 30 to 60 minutes to let the ganache set.

When ready to serve, run a knife under hot water, then run it around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan.
Transfer from the springform pan to a cake stand or plate and serve.


Impossible Brownie Pie

Heat oven to 350°F
Grease a 9-inch pie plate

Melt and cool
4 ounces sweet cooking chocolate

Place in medium bowl
4 eggs
the cooled cooking chocolate
1/2 Cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1/4 Cup butter or margarine, softened
Beat all ingredients until smooth.
Pour mixture into the prepared pie plate.
Sprinkle over batter
1/4 Cup chopped nuts

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool 5 minutes.
Serve with ice cream (optional)

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Eaton’s Cheesecake / Crumb Crust Recipe / Shortcrust Recipe / Santa Claus Found Me

 


A huge thank you to each of my 1,000,000 visitors!!
I’m so glad that you visited and I really hope you returned frequently to try one of the recipes that were in the 1106 posts I've written for I’m Turning 60…
I hope that you found many recipes that you have enjoyed and have become favourites.

About those recipes…

Recently I was asked if I have the recipe for the Winnipeg Eaton's cheesecake.

It was tart and creamy, and, as near as I can tell, this recipe is it.
I sure hope that you agree.

Please, if you have been looking for a recipe, let me know. I’d love to help in the search.



Everyone in the world has been going through a very stressful year.

As I’ve said before and I really believe, a comfort food, such as cheesecake, can help.

If the Eaton’s recipe isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you’ll find a favourite in this post.

There should be a cheesecake for everyone's taste.



Thank you again for visiting and have a safe, healthy and happy 2021!

Hints:

If you’re in a rush, substitute a graham cracker or a vanilla cookie crust:
Grease a 9-inch pie pan or springform pan
Melt in a medium saucepan over low heat
1/4 Cup butter
Stir in
2 Cups finely crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Press the cookie crumb mixture evenly over the pan.
Place in a refrigerator to chill.

Shortcrust can be used for either savoury or sweet dishes.
For a lighter pastry combine 1 Cup each of all-purpose flour and cake flour.
For a richer flavour use a beaten egg for some of the liquid to hold it together.

The main rules to remember are:
Run your hands under cold water before starting to mix the pastry.
Work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm.
If the fat becomes too warm, place it in the refrigerator.
Roll pastry on a cool surface (a marble slab is perfect) dusted with flour.
Keep the ingredients, the bowl and your hands as cool as possible. If the mixture becomes warm you’ll get a greasy or heavy pastry crust.

Be sure to let the pastry rest in the refrigerator. This allows the gluten to relax so that it will roll out easily. The resting after rolling prevents it from shrinking when it is baking.

To ensure your crust is crisp, place a heavy baking sheet in the oven while it is preheating, then place the tart or pie on the heated tray.

If using a Food Processor: Place the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of the processor.
Using only the pulse setting, pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Through the funnel add water a little at a time until the mixture comes together.
Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and chill.


                        Shortcrust

Place in a large clean bowl
2 Cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 ounces butter, cubed, or an equal mix of butter and lard

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add to the mixture
2 to 3 Tablespoons very cold water or a beaten egg

Using a cold knife stir until the dough binds together.
Add cold water, a teaspoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 15 to 30 minutes.
Roll out, then let it rest at least 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425° F
Place the rolled out shortcrust in a pie plate or springform pan.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and allow to cool.


                        Eaton’s Cheesecake Filling

Place on a counter for at least an hour to soften
16 ounces or 500 grams cream cheese

Place in a medium mixer bowl
1 Cup heavy cream
Whip to the soft peak stage.
Set aside.

Place in a large mixer bowl
the softened cream cheese
1/4 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat until well blended.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust lined pan.
Refrigerate the cheesecake for several hours until firm.
Top with cherry pie filling.

~~~~
In 2004 I wrote this story for our CKUW radio show '2000 & Counting - Older & Wiser'. 
For a while it was our annual tradition. 
I got a few e mails asking if I could post the original story.
Here it is for Epiphany, the day when Befana visited us!


     
Change follows us from the cradle to the grave. When I was five years old I was hit with a megadose of change. I moved to another town, got a baby sister, got to go to kindergarten and got Santa Claus.
     
Five years earlier my parents and I had emigrated from Malta to New York and settled in Corona. We didn't have much choice. Five of Pop's brothers and sisters lived in Corona. So, we had to live in Corona, too.  
     
Corona was a little slice of Italy on Long Island. The store clerks were bilingual: English and Italian. The grocery stores in Corona were stocked with Italian necessities. Almost everything in all the other stores had been imported from Italy.  
Corona was where we learned how to be Americans.  
     
Nonni's children, Betty and Angelo, had married two of Pop's siblings, Joe and Helen. So, Nonni was a double Grandma in my family. Since all my grandparents were in Malta, Nonni treated me as a grandchild, too.      
     
Every Christmas Eve we gathered at Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty's home. A whole corner of their living room was filled with Nonni's manger scene. It was not just a shed with Mary, Joseph, three kings and one shepherd standing around Baby Jesus. Nonni had a complete village with houses, trees, hills, paths, ponds and animals. There were people walking around just minding their own business. Some of the figures were really old and we couldn't play with them. But each year Nonni added something new: a woman carrying a basket of eggs, a farmer carrying a head of cabbage, a man carrying a bundle of wood. Nonni’s manger scene was better than any store window on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
     
Dinner was a feast. Fish was traditional: eel for the parents, bluefish for the children. There was also soup, pasta and vegetables, followed by ricotta pie, anise biscotti, pizzelle and cuccidati cookies, strufoli, creamy roasted chestnuts and torrone candy. My favourite was the huge golden mound of strufoli: tiny doughnut balls covered with honey and multi-coloured sprinkles. After dinner we played games and our parents talked until it was time to walk to the Midnight Mass at St. Leo's. After Mass we returned to Uncle Joe's for some panettone, a holiday bread made with butter, raisins, almonds and citron.

Then Nonni would tell us to look at the manger scene for the surprise. The blessed Bambino, Baby Jesus, had suddenly appeared!  


Christmas Eve was a wonderful night. But the big day for us children was January sixth. The night before we had hung our stockings and waited for La Befana to bring us toys.  
  

   
La Befana was a little old lady who had been sweeping her house when the Wise Men knocked on her door. They were looking for Baby Jesus and asked La Befana for directions. Then they invited La Befana to join them. The old woman refused, saying she had work to do.
     
When it was dark, a great light and angels appeared in the sky. La Befana realized that the Wise Men weren't kidding about somebody special being born that night. Broom in hand, La Befana tried to catch up with the Wise Men. She never found them or Baby Jesus. Every year she searches for Baby Jesus and leaves presents for good little boys and girls.  
  

  
La Befana took care of me for four years. Then we moved to College Point so we could live closer to Lily Tulip where Pop worked. Then it was time for my sister to be born. While Ma was in the hospital I stayed with Aunt Betty, Uncle Joe and their two daughters. It was nice living in Corona again. The next day, Nonni took me to the local 5 and 10 and gave me a quarter.  
     
"Buy for sister."       
I didn't know what a baby sister would want. I liked westerns, so I grabbed a toy gun.     
"No. Buy a rattle."      
A rattle? That sounded boring, but I bought a pink plastic rattle.  
     
In those days children were not allowed to visit anyone in the hospital. When Aunt Betty visited Ma, she gave the rattle to my new sister. I waited outside the hospital and waved to the window of Ma's room. When Aunt Betty returned she had a gift from my new sister for me. Three pieces of chocolate.  
     
Well, wasn't that nice of her. Not as nice as a toy gun, but maybe that was all she could get from where she'd been.    
     

After Rose was born we didn't go to Corona as often. It was easier to walk to the local church instead of driving to St. Leo's. I missed seeing my family.  
     
That September I started kindergarten in St. Fidelis School. Some of the good sisters had wanted to travel and meet exotic heathens in far away places. Well, they almost got their wish. I was the first Maltese child they'd ever seen. College Point had been settled by Irish and German families. It was time for me to learn about America through their eyes.  
     
As Christmas approached, the windows of the German bakeries were filled with the most beautiful cookies I'd ever seen. They were in all kinds of shapes: stars, angels, animals and wreaths. They were decorated with coconut, jam, icing and tiny silver balls. Some of my classmates brought in samples of their mothers' baking. I brought some biscotti. My friends were polite and tasted the dry, double-baked bread. Then we ate the lebkuchen, pfeffernuesse, zimtsterne, and jam filled spitzbuben. The stollen reminded me of panettone.  
     
I thought a German Christmas was delicious. I planned to eat German and Italian holiday food every Christmas for the rest of my life.
     
We helped Sister decorate the Christmas tree with sugar cookies which had been twisted into figure eights. Then Sister told us to gather around her. She was going to read us a story. Sister showed us the picture of Santa Claus and his eight reindeer. My friends were delighted.  
     
I was confused.  
     
I had never heard any of this before. Santa was supposed to slide down a chimney and land in a fireplace. We didn't have a fireplace. We had a huge, oil-burning furnace in the basement. Ma hung our stockings, along with all the other wet laundry, on a clothesline near the furnace. It made awful noises and had fire in it. If Santa landed in the furnace he'd fry like a strufoli. That would end Christmas forever. I didn't think Santa would take such a risk for a total stranger. The lovely cookies felt like lead in my stomach.
     
Sister talked about Santa checking his list of good little girls and boys. Santa had a list? I knew we were on the Registered Aliens list. Every January the TV reminded Ma to fill out green cards so we wouldn't go to jail or Malta. How could I get on Santa's list? Could Santa get my name from the Alien list? Did I need to fill out another card?  
     
The afternoon went from bad to worse. Sister told us we could put our letters to Santa in the special mailbox in the classroom. A letter? What language did Santa speak? He'd never heard from me. I wasn't on his list. What could I say?  
     
"Hi, you don't know me, but I'd like some toys." I'd never written a letter to La Befana. She just gave me toys. Would Santa shoot La Befana if she came to College Point? Oh, boy… I was in big trouble.     
     
In kindergarten we learned about God the Father, about how we should pray to Him and tell Him what we needed. I didn't need another Father. I figured if my Pop was always busy working, this guy who took care of everything in the whole wide world would really never have time for me.
     
I needed a Grandma.
     
The next time we went to Corona I told Nonni about Santa Claus and that he was in charge of Christmas in College Point. Nonni listened patiently as I explained the rules.    
She repeated the main points: "Santa Claus. A letter."     
I nodded.    
"I fix. I write letter to Befana. She give to Santa. No hard feelings. Christmas come."
     
I had my doubts. Nonni had never been to College Point. Maybe nobody ever had to change from La Befana to Santa Claus. Maybe Christmas was lost forever, like some of the packages we never got from Malta.
     
On Christmas Eve we all gathered at Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty's home in Corona. We had the Christmas Eve dinner. Then we went to St. Leo's for the Midnight Mass. Everything was familiar. Latin and Italian. Why couldn't we have stayed there?  
     
When we were leaving the church I saw a pale cloud in the sky. It looked long and thin, with a sort of lump on one end. For a moment I thought it looked like Santa and his sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. I kept looking at that cloud. It followed us from the church to Uncle Joe's house, where we had panettone. When we left, the cloud was still there. I watched from the car. The cloud followed us from Corona to College Point.  
     
I never noticed clouds before. Did clouds always follow people from one town to another? Was it really a cloud? Sister had told us that Santa had millions of helpers, tiny people called elves. Could it have been an elf picking up the letter from La Befana?
     
Christmas morning, Pop was eating breakfast while Ma was cleaning Rose. Ma sent me to the basement to get some dry diapers that were hanging by the furnace. Being a big sister wasn't much fun. I pulled down two diapers. Then I noticed some lumps by the furnace. I thought some clothes had fallen off the line. I walked toward the furnace.  
     
But the lumps weren't clothes.  
They were boxes.  
They were wrapped.  
They were presents!  
They were for me!!

Santa had found me.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!! Welcome 2021!




Happy Holidays, everyone.
Sending you and yours wishes for a happy year filled
with health, prosperity, love and loads of fun!

Thank you for visiting ~
Hope to see you throughout 2021!
~ Margaret