Fast & Dirty Tartar Sauce

This is a very scaled down version of the tartar sauce my late mother-in-law used to make every morning when she worked at a big chain restaurant 50 years ago. I make this any time we have fish of any kind where it would be appropriate.

Small Batch Tartar Sauce:
1/4 C: Mayo / Sour Cream
1 Dill Pickle, fine chopped (or 1 tea relish)
1 tea Creamy Horseradish
1/2 tea: Lemon Juice, fresh / Lemon Zest, for colour (opt) / Dried Oregano
S&P, to taste

Give it a good stir and use it immediately, or chill it to marry the flavours further. Store in the fridge for up to three weeks covered. Yield: 4 regular portions, or two big portions.

Quick Butter Chicken

This isn’t my recipe, it’s Arron & Claire’s, and it’s a keeper. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s tasty. In short, this recipe gets the job done on nights where I am craving Butter Chicken and don’t have a jar sauce on hand in my pantry. Luckily, I stock all of the ingredients to make it when push comes to shove. 🙂

Quick Butter Chicken:
4 Chicken Thighs, bite size cubes
1/3 C Plain Yogurt
1 tbsp Garlic, minced (or 1/2 tea Garlic Powder)
1/2 tbsp: Garam Masala/Cumin/Ground Ginger/Chili Powder

1/2 C Yellow Onion, diced
30 g Cashews, rough chopped (opt)
3 C Passata Sauce

5 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp: Ginger, grated/Chili Powder/Cumin/Ground Coriander/Garam Masala
1/2 tea: Sugar (or a pinch of carrot, grated)/Salt

2/3 C Water
1 C Heavy Cream (18 – 35%)
5 tbsp Butter
1/4 tea Chicken Stock Powder

Mix the cut up meat in the yogurt mixture and rest it for 20 mins as you prep everything else. When ready, get your skillet heated up. After 3 mins, add some neutral oil and drop the meat in carefully in small batches. Brown the chicken to take advantage of the maillard reaction. All of that browning = flavour. (The meat will finish cooking as it rests in the hot sauce later.) Rest rest each browned batch in a bowl with paper towels set inside as you work.

In a bigger skillet, or a big pot, heat up some different oil and dump in the diced onion to soften. Add the cashews. Sautee for a minute before adding the passata sauce. Stew that together for 5 mins before adding the meat in. Stew the sauce another 5-8 mins to cook the meat through.

At the end, add the water, butter, heavy cream and chicken stock. When you’ve stirred it all together, plate some of the meat in shallow bowls off to one side, top it with a ladle of sauce, and drop the starch of choice (cooked rice, mash potatoes or naan bread chunks) over the sauce. Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired, topped with some chopped cilantro leaves.

Auntie Stacey’s Jar Meat Sauce

I was working on an idea in my head for a meat sauce I could whip up on the fly (the same way I would a salad dressing) in a mason jar that wouldn’t have to cook down like a bbq sauce, when I tripped over this idea from a random video I saw online doing a similar sauce for another application.

This is our new all-purpose meat sauce. I use it on everything! The husband thinks it reminds him of his beloved McRib sauce. I’ve never eaten a McRib, so I will defer to his expertise here. 🙂

Auntie Stacey’s Jar Meat Sauce:
1 C Ketchup
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 – 1 tea Hot Chili Paste (use as much as you can tolerate)

Mix or shake that in a small 125mL mason jar, and you’re good to go. It keeps well in the fridge if you have any leftovers. Sometimes I roll the whole batch around in pulled pork, and other times, I use a bit to top burgers or pork chops. It’s quite versatile, if you ask me.

Why this works: The complex flavours from the sugary ketchup gets balance out with the salty, umami flavour of the soy sauce. Add to that, the lovely kick of heat from the chili paste, and you’ve really got a great sauce to use on everything. Its brilliance comes from not only the low numbers of ingredients, but the distinct lack of need to cooking it down. Although, I’m sure if you wanted it even thicker, you could cook like an actual bbq sauce would be.


Smack & Cheese

(From the archives.)

My husband’s favourite pasta dish is my Smack & Cheese. I call it that in jest, but when you get this dish just right, you won’t stop eating it, It’s a fantastically horrible addiction.

Very basic ingredients were used like bacon, pasta, onions, butter, diced red peppers, milk, and grated cheddar cheese. Half the bacon went into the creamy roux sauce along with the red peppers as the milk was thickening, and it was all blended with the cheese in a bowl off the heat before serving. That’s it! No magic involved, but it tasted like there was some alchemy involved.

The main thrust of this dish is the bechemel sauce with cheddar cheese added at the very end over pasta. That’s it. Very simple, but very tasty when all is said and done.

Note: I don’t use much in the way of salt for this dish. I let all of the salt that is already present in the cheese, butter and cooked pasta do all the heavy flavour lifting while adding some freshly cracked pepper on top at the table. I also use fresh herbs when my herb garden is flourishing during the summer months.

Makes 4.

1. Cook 2C Rotini or any other similar shaped pasta like penne in salted boiling water.

2. Cut 3 Bacon strips in half for frying. Chop coarsely after it cooked and cooled off.

3. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pot. When it foams up, add about 1 tbsp of oil; swirl it around. Dump in 1/2 C diced white onions and cook down for about five minutes.

Add 2 tbsp flour; whisk in until the butter and onions clump up and the colour starts to turn brown somewhat and the flour cooks a bit.

Add one pile of bacon bits + 1/2 of diced red. Stir to coat a bit. Add 1 1/2C of milk. Whisk to combine the flour and dairy. Stir the pot so the milk doesn’t get scalded or burn on the bottom as it thickens. Taste test. Add a small pinch of salt if needed.

4. Scoop out about 1/3 C of the pasta water for your sauce; set aside. Drain the pasta about 1 minute before it hits al dente. Return the pasta to the same pot off the heat.

5.Grate 2 C of any cheese(s) you have; set it aside.

6. After the milk thickens and coats the back of a spoon, pour the bechamel sauce into the bowl over top of the waiting pasta noodles.

7. Dump the cheese in over the pasta + bechemel. Stir quickly until the cheddar is fully melted and coats the pasta in a lovely amber colour. Use any or all of the reserved pasta starch water to aid the coating process should the bechamel be too thick.

8. Plate your pasta into serving dishes and top with the second pile of bacon bits and some freshly washed and chopped herb of your choice. I love fresh basil or cilantro over my pasta, but go nuts. DH loves to add a few cracks of pepper over his pasta, as well.


This entry was posted on July 8, 2011.

Tex-Mex Crema

Have you ever make fajitas at home and thought, “This is missing something.” But you can’t put your finger on it? You know it should be something cold and/or creamy but you already put out the sour cream and that’s just not cutting it? Yeah, I’ve got you covered.

Tex-Mex Crema:
1/2 C ea: Mayo, Sour Cream
1/2 Lime, Juice & Zest
1/2 Tea Honey
1/4 Tea Cumin

Whisk up in a bowl or shake together in a mason jar. Spoon it over your fajitas and prepare to really enjoy your meal.