Monthly Archives: April 2011

Authentic Bruschetta

CH and I were very fortunate to travel throughout Europe in 2009.  We hit 9 countries in 9 weeks and it was amazing.  We rented a car and drove through all the little country towns, trying to get as an authentic experience in Europe as possible.  We ate some of the best food of our lives and for that I am eternally grateful.

We rented a small farmhouse in Tuscany for a week as it gave us the opportunity to experience country-life and to explore all of the small hill-towns nearby.  The owner of the farm gave us the contacts of this winery, Castello di Verrazzano, and it was truly one of the highlights of my life (besides you know…my wedding day!) We had a one-on-one tour of the winery/property and then sat down and enjoyed a 3 hour traditional meal, with wine, that was beyond description and beyond hyberbole. It was rustic, wholesome, and no adjective can get close to how delicious it was.

The first dish we enjoyed is what inspired this recipe.  Simple, authentic, fresh bruschetta.  This isn’t the North American version you can get in a restaurant that includes basil, onion or mozzarella – which I enjoy regularly – but this recipe brings me right back to being in Italy with CH, at the winery, living the good life.

For all of the delicious flavours in this dish, it is one of the easiest recipes I will post.  It’s truly about the quality of the ingredients – a fresh baguette (or bread) perfectly toasted, sharp garlic, vine-ripened tomatoes and the best quality olive oil you have. The way they come together is how this dish truly shines.

We are very fortunate in Ontario to have some amazing hot-house tomatoes.  Although not as good as fresh garden tomatoes, they still taste amazing.  And as the summer tomato season hits us, bruschetta will be on our table more and more.  I hope you give it a try, sit back on your patio and enjoy the simple things in life – good food, good wine and good company.

Enjoy!

Authentic Bruschetta

Yield:  Appetizer for 3-4 people
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  5 minutes (toasting)

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh baguette (whatever type you enjoy the most)
  • 3 large perfectly ripe tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • dash of salt
  • plenty of your best extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Pre-heat your broiler to high setting.  Allow it to warm-up.

Slice your baguette into thin slices (about 1/2 inch in thickness).

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and place under the broiler.  Allow bread to toast until slightly golden brown (do not over-brown – you want it crisp but still chewy).  Flip and toast on other side.

While the bread is toasting, peel and slice the garlic.  Take one clove of garlic and slide it in half lengthwise.  Set aside.

Wash and slices your tomatoes – about 1/4 inch thick.

Remove the toasted bread from the oven and immediately rub warm bread with garlic halves.  I usually do 4-5 slices of bread per garlic half.

Top each piece of bread with tomato slices, sprinkle with salt and drizzle (generously!) with olive oil.

Take your plate outside, grab a glass of Italian Pinot Grigio (or whatever you like best) and enjoy!

An Original JBean Creation (inspired by Italy/Castello di Verrazzano)

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Filed under Appetizers, Bread, Healthy, Italian, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Chicken Pot Pie: Oh My!

Simply put, this was delicious.  Friday night was here and I was finally wanting to be back in the kitchen.  I hadn’t been grocery shopping all week, but I knew that I had some staples in the pantry/freezer.  I wanted something warm and comforting as Spring hasn’t official “sprung” here in Ontario yet (but France is awaiting me with 22 degree weather!).  The idea of a chicken pot pie came to me and away I went without a recipe, inspired by my glee to be back in the kitchen.

Let me tell you… it was perfect.  A delicious, healthy balance of comforting flavours that just wrap you up like a blanket.  CH called it a cross-over between chicken noodle soup and chicken stew, but better.

I used no cream or milk in this recipe but it was still thick and creamy from the potatoes and I loved the pop of color and spring feel the peas gave!  Feel free to throw in any vegetables you have on hand… I imagine this would taste delicious with asparagus and corn added in too!

I chose to serve this dish in individual serving bowls, topped with homemade pie crust.  Don’t feel the need to make pie crust if you don’t have some in the freezer like I did from making my Tourtiere a few weeks back.  Feel free to use puff pastry or phyllo dough – whichever you prefer.  Thinking about it now, I would have preferred puff pastry actually, but CH loved the pie crust topping, so it’s definitely a matter of personal preference.

This is definitely a great meal for a cool Spring evening and makes enough to have leftovers in the freezer too!  Don’t be afraid by the length of the recipe, it is a lot of little steps but trust me, it is worth it.

Enjoy!

JBean’s Chicken Pot Pie

Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  1.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 7 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 5 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups of carrots, diced
  • 2 cups of green peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
  • S&P
  • 1/4 batch of pie crust (or 1 package of puff pastry)
    • 1 egg, slightly beaten (to brush top of pastry with)

Directions:

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken thighs generously with S&P.  Add the chicken thighs to the pan and cook thoroughly, ensuring a nice golden crust on both sides (about 15 minutes).

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Place the pan back on the heat and add the 1-cup of white wine to deglaze the pan.  Allow the alcohol to cook off and scrape the pan with the back of your wooden spoon – you definitely want all of those yummy bits of chicken flavour.  Once the liquid has reduce by half, remove from heat and place the juices in a bowl until you are ready to use below.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, place the potatoes in the pot and cover with cold water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat and cook until fork-tender.  Be careful to ensure you do not overcook the potatoes, you want them to retain their shape in the pie!  It’s better to undercook them, then to overcook them! Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the heat and drain immediately.  Place back in the pot and allow to cool.

In a large stock-pot or dutch-oven, heat the butter over medium heat until sizzling.  Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and mustard powder to the onion, carrot and celery mixture.  Stir well to ensure even distribution.  Cook the flour mixture for 2 – 3 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add 2 cups of chicken stock to the flour/vegetable mixture, whisking constantly as you add it in.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil and continue whisking until thickened.

Add the remaining chicken stock, reserved chicken pan juices (above), hot sauce, bay leaves, thyme and a generous amount of S&P.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, preheat your oven to 375.

While the sauce is simmering, dice your potatoes and cooked chicken into 1-inch pieces.

Once the sauce has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the chicken, potatoes and peas to the pot.  Stir well to incorporate.  Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Distribute the chicken goodness evenly among 6 bowls or alternatively, in one very large casserole dish.   Top each serving bowl with pie dough, ensuring that you pinch the edges well.  Slice the top of each piecrust with a knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.  After about 15 minutes of baking, brush the top of each piecrust with egg wash to get a nice, golden brown crust.

Enjoy!

An Original JBean Cuisine Recipe

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Filed under Healthy, Mains, Soups & Stews

Banana Muffins

I’m sorry for the lack of posts in the past few days.  I have been down for the count with a horrible stomach flu.  You know it’s bad when I can’t watch The Food Network, read my food blogs or visit WC.  I can’t stand the thought of food and even as I write the post-up, my stomach is not impressed. Not fun at all.  Anyways, I had this recipe photographed from a while back and I didn’t want to go too long without a post, so here it is (and it’s a good one!).

You already know that CH loves banana bread, but he is the first to admit that my recipe isn’t the healthiest (although he really doesn’t have to worry about anything in the weight department, ever, which isn’t fair.  But don’t get me started on that topic!).

I went searching for another banana bread/muffin recipe that I could make for quick breakfasts’ or snack.  I came across this recipe on So Tasty So Yummy (go check out her blog, she has some great recipes!) and they sounded like the perfect fit.

I stayed pretty true to the original recipe. I didn’t bother making them mini, CH would just get frustrated if he had to peel that many paper liners or deal with that many small muffins.  Speaking of which, my only tip with these muffins is to not use paper muffin liners.  I had so much trouble with the muffins sticking to the paper liner and it was so frustrating. I have a feeling because of their low-fat content, which isn’t a bad thing, so I just sprayed my muffin tin with cooking spray and went along my merry way.  I also added some flax seed for extra fiber, it didn’t change the texture or flavour at all – just some added health benefits!  Just a note – flax seed is totally optional!

Each muffin comes in at 94 calories – which CH uses as an excuse to eat about 7 immediately out of the oven.  They definitely don’t taste like 94 calories, but hey, I’ll take it :)!

Enjoy!

Banana Muffins

Yield:  12 muffins
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  18 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 brown bananas, peeled and mashed
  • ¼ cup sugar*
  • ¼ cup natural applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp flax seed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts (optional)

*I’ve substituted 2 tbsp of Splenda on several occasions and they were just as good – plus less calories!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins lightly with cooking spray.

Using your KitchenAid stand-mixer, place the bananas, sugar, applesauce and egg in the bowl.  Mix on medium speed until well combined and smooth.

Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flax seed.  Continue to mix over medium speed until well combined.

Stir in chocolate chips and/or walnuts, if you are using them.

Pour into 12 muffin tins equally, about 2/3 of the way.   Bake at 350 for 15 – 18 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely on wire rack.  Store in air-tight container and enjoy!

Recipe Adapted Slightly from So Tasty So Yummy

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Healthy