Monthly Archives: July 2010

Green Beans Galore!

Jamie Oliver's Best Ever French Beans

With summer in Chilliwack comes the fresh produce!  Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and green beans have been on the menu so far, and we’re eagerly waiting for our world-famous corn! 

Last night and tonight we had green beans.  Oh man!  There is nothing better than fresh green beans picked and eaten on the same day!

I made two different recipes, each good in its own way.  I think that the second one is my favourite, but that is probably because it is an old family recipe, one my grandma always made!  Grandma Jacob’s recipe seems a bit odd, but try it!  It is soo good! You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

To prep the green beans, pinch off the stem end, but leave the wispy end on.  Wash under running water. 

To cook the beans, boil a pan of salted water.  Put the beans in, and cook for 6-8 minutes, until tender, but still crisp.  It’s a bit of a personal thing, but cook them a bit under what you think is good, as both of the recipes will cook the beans a bit more.  Drain the beans in a colander and let steam dry for a minute.

Best Ever French Beans
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Food Revolution
Serves 4-6

1 lb fresh green beans
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Prepare beans as noted above.  When you drain your beans, save some of the cooking water (about 1/2 cup or so).  Return the pan to the heat.  Add in some olive oil and the garlic.  Stir.  When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the beans and stir around.   Add a ladleful of reserved cooking water, the cheese and lemon juice.  Stir and simmer until the water and cheese start to form a sticky sauce, then remove from heat and serve immediately!

Grandma Jacob’s Green Beans
Old family recipe
Serves 4-6

1 lb green beans
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper

Prepare green beans as noted above.  Return the pan to the heat and add butter.  When the butter melts, stir in flour.  Add in the green beans and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the beans are coated.  Serve immediately!  So good!!!!

Enjoy summer’s bounty!
The Hungry Teacher

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Spicy Margarita Shrimp

The sunny weather brings out the barbeque-er in all of us!

While looking for a quick, healthy and easy dish for dinner one night this week, I stumbled upon a recipe for Spicy Margarita Shrimp on Tasty Kitchen.

It was really good, and really easy!  I adapted the recipe a bit, of course, as we all tend to do!   The recipe says to marinate the shrimp for no longer than an hour, because otherwise the acid in the marinade will start to cook the shrimp.  I marinated my shrimp for about half an hour, and it was the perfect amount of time!  The recipe also called for the remaining marinade to be reduced down in a saucepan to serve on top of the shrimp and rice.  I didn’t do this.  It would be a nice touch, but unnecessary!  You could also cook the shrimp on the stove by sauteeing them.  If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about half an hour before you use them so they don’t catch on fire.

On the side, I served rice and grilled zucchini.  The shrimp take about 3 minutes total on the hot grill, so make sure everything else is ready to go before you put them on!  To grill the zucchini, I cut it into 1/2″ thick slices.  In a small bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Brush the zucchini slices with this mixture on one side and put oiled side down on the hot grill.  Cook for about 4 minutes, then brush the other side with the oil mixture and flip.  Cook for about 4 more minutes! 

Spicy Margarita Shrimp
Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Serves 2

1 lb shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined

Marinade Ingredients:
2 limes
2 oranges
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup tequila
1 Tbsp Triple Sec
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley, chopped

Zest the limes and oranges into a bowl.  Juice the oranges and limes into the same bowl.  Add in the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well.  Mix in the shrimp and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. 

Preheat the BBQ.  Remove the shrimp from the marinade, put them on soaked skewers.  Turn off the heat on one of your BBQ burners, so you have indirect heat.  Turn the other burner down to medium-low.  Place your skewers on the burner that’s turned off.  Cook for a minute or so, until shrimp start to turn pink.  Turn over and cook for another minute!

Enjoy this light summer meal!
The Hungry Teacher

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Grilled Pizza

Our summer finally arrived!  We had a beautiful, sunny afternoon… a perfect day for BBQing!  I am beginning to enjoy this form of cooking!  I went from burning everything I put on the BBQ to turning out moist chicken breasts!  I’ll let you in on my secret– indirect heat.  Our BBQ has three burners.  Put one on high or medium, and the other two on low.  Cook your food over the low heat.  You still get the amazing grilled flavor and the charred marks, but without the black crust over your entire food!  Plus, food like chicken breasts, which dry out so quickly, stay moist!

Grilled pizza has mystified me for a while.  Three years ago, the last summer we had a BBQ, we tried grilling pizzas, and it was a disaster.  But, I thought that I had to try again to perfect something this enticing.  It was a giant success!  Delicious!  Impressive-looking!  Fun to make!  You can use whatever you would like on your pizza.  Let your imagination and taste buds be your guide.

The main secret.  You must, I repeat, MUST have your ingredients prepped and by the BBQ before you begin this adventure.  You won’t have time to run back into the kitchen to grab something.  It has to be within arm’s reach.  I marinated the chicken for my pizzas in Greek salad dressing and quickly grilled them before making the pizza.  You can  bake, fry, grill or do whatever to your chicken!  I would recommend making individual sized pizzas, but if you want to try making a big one, go ahead!

The first thing to do is make your pizza dough.  This recipe is quick and requires no rising.  Perfect for a weeknight!

Fast and Easy Pizza Crust
Recipe from The Best of the Best and more, by The Best of Bridge

3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix the warm water, yeast and sugar together.  Let sit until the yeast gets foamy, about 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, (I use my stand mixer with the dough hook), stir together the flour, salt and cornmeal.  Add yeast mixture and olive oil.  Knead to a smooth dough, about 10 minutes.  If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you don’t need to knead your dough.  The mixer does it for you!  You can use this dough in your normal pizza recipes for the oven.  If you’re using it for grilled pizza– keep reading.

Make sure all of your ingredients are prepped.  I made a BBQ Chicken Pizza for the husband (chicken, BBQ sauce, chopped onions and grated cheddar cheese) and a Greek Chicken Pizza for myself (spinach leaves, chicken, Greek dressing, chopped tomatoes and onions, and crumbled feta cheese).

Now, make sure your BBQ is hot and have one burner on medium, and the other two on low.  I had the burner on the far ride side on high and the other two low. 

Stretch out your pizza dough.  I spread some vegetable oil on my crusts to prevent them from sticking.  I’m not sure this is necessary, as once the grill is really hot, the dough won’t stick once it’s cooked.

Put your pizza dough on the BBQ.  Close the lid and wait for about 3-4 minutes.  Open the lid.  Using a big, metal spatula, flip over the dough.  You’ll have nice grill marks on the top.

Now, put your toppings on your pizzas!  Close the grill and let them cook for a minute or two, to melt the cheese and warm everything up. 

Using my spatula and the aid of my tongs, I successfully maneuvered both pizzas onto plates without incident!

ENJOY!

The Hungry Teacher

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Strawberry Jam!

Hello!!  I’m back!  Hopefully I’m back for longer than just one or two blog posts before going on another extended vacation from my blog!  My life has been too busy.  Too busy to blog.  Sometimes, even too busy to cook.  But it’s summer and you don’t want to hear my sob stories.

I learned how to make jam on Monday.  I took a class with 4 other girls.  It was great fun!  My Auntie Becki (who is a great cook, by the way!) taught the class on making jams and jellies.  By the way, if you live near Bellingham or the Vancouver, BC area, Becki is available to teach private classes on any kitchen skill.  They’re about 2 hours long, and cost $15 per person per hour.  She’ll do the class at your place, or hers.  The classes are hands on, and we got to sample our jam on scones (yum!), and take home a jar of strawberry jam, grape jelly and freezer jam.  Leave me a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll pass on Becki’s contact information.

Jam is not nearly as difficult to make as you may think it is.  I made freezer jam last year, but I though cooked jam would be pretty difficult and very time-consuming.  It’s not!  I made two batches of strawberry jam, which yielded 16- 250mL (8 oz)  jars of jam.  It took me about two hours, and considering that it’s my first time making the jam by myself, I think that’s pretty awesome!

Strawberries are just finishing up their season here, and man, are they good!  They are sweet and tasty!  I went to the produce store to pick them up, and the farmers were unloading their pickup truck!  Fresh from the farm, how awesome is that!

To make jam, you need a few things:

  • large pot (8-10 qt)– this is important, don’t go smaller, because your jam will boil over!
  • measuring cups
  • wooden spoon
  • bowl to measure sugar into
  • potato masher
  • jars and rings
  • sealing lids
  • pan of some sort

Plus, you’ll need your ingredients for making the jam:

  • fruit
  • sugar
  • pectin
  • possibly lemon juice.

Pectin is the substance that makes jams and jellies gel.  It is naturally present in fruit, but the amounts vary.  You buy it in small boxes at the grocery store (mine sells it with the baking supplies).  When you make jam, you need to follow the recipe and instructions that come with your pectin.  Each brand varies, and it’s important to follow the instructions that come with your brand!  Now, you can only make one batch at a time.  And, you need a lot of sugar to make jam, but you can’t cut it back, otherwise your jam won’t gel properly.

You need to make sure everything is ready before you start.  Wash your jars in the dishwasher so they’re clean.  Prepare and mash your berries with a potato masher.  Don’t use a food processor (the instructions said).  Plus, mashing your berries is really fun! 

It's not a very clear picture, but this is what the crushed berries look like!

I’ll walk you through the basic process.

  1. Boil some water in a tea kettle.
  2. Put your crushed berries in your pot and combine with pectin (and lemon juice, if directed in recipe!).  Stir well, and bring to a boil.
  3. Measure your sugar out into a bowl.
  4. Once boiling, add all of your sugar at once.  Stir well.
  5. Let come to a full, rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute (or however long your recipe says).
  6. My recipe said to take the pot off the heat at this point, and stir and skim the foam off.  You’ll probably have foam on top of your jam.  Skim it off with a spoon into a bowl.  You can eat it if you want to.  It tastes delicious!  I had to stir mine for about 5 minutes at this point.
  7. Put your jam jars into a pan, and pour boiling water over the rim of each one.  This sterilizes them.  Put the sealing lids in boiling water as well.
  8. Dump out any water in your jam jar, fill it with jam (use a ladle).  Leave about 1″ of head space at the top of the jar.  With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jar well.  Take a lid out of the boiling water, place it over top, and screw the ring on.  At this point, put your jars aside!  If you did everything right, you’ll probably hear a few pops, which means your jars are sealed.
  9. Continue the process until all of your jam is in jars!  Clean up!
  10. If your jars don’t seal (the tops will look pressed inwards), put that jar in the fridge and eat it first!  The rest of the jars will happily sit on your pantry shelf until you use them.

That’s the whole process!  Next time I make jam, I’ll try to be more diligent and take pictures of the process for you. 

It’s really actually quite easy and super rewarding to have 16 little jars staring you in the face, waiting to be eaten!

Go and try it!
The Hungry Teacher

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