Friday, January 29, 2010


A New Year, A New Project

Today I am very excited to share a new project with you that has been in the works since last fall and one that I am thrilled to be a part of.

It is not so much a secret anymore, as I've been Tweeting and talking about it for a while, but nevertheless, it is finally time to make the official announcement...

In just a few days, (on February 8, more specifically), I will be taking an editorial position at Simple Living Media and launching..............Ta-Da!

Go on, click the link above and go check it out. I'll be here, waiting for when you get back and we can chat. I'll bake off some cookies while I wait, how about that?

Simple Bites Topics

As of next month, Simple Bites is where you'll find me hanging out, dishing several times a week on everything that I am passionate about. Dedicated to all things food and drink, but with an emphasis on simple living, this new website will focus on important topics such as sustainable eating, wholesome recipes, and cooking with (& for!) kids.

I'm particularly excited about topics such as 'Preserving' (Jam & Jelly 101, anyone?) and 'Cooking School'. I haven't written much here about my experiences in culinary school previously (mostly because I'm still in therapy to deal with them), but you're going to hear all about it there, with TONS of tips and tricks to implement into your daily cooking.

Other topics I'll regularly visit are Quick Bites, Menu Planning, Entertaining, and for once and for all, getting Organized in the kitchen!

Simple Aimée

I feel as though I've been preparing for the role of editor for the past ten years and am confident in what I have to offer readers. As a bonus, I've assembled an impressive team of contributors to support me in that role. Head here to check them out; you'll probably recognize a few faces! They hail from three countries, all of them mothers, and even one grandmother (you'll never guess which one, don't even try to figure it out).

I'm immeasurably proud to be a part of the Simple Living Media family, lead by administrator Tsh, of the hugely popular and ever-inspiring Simple Mom.

Oh yeah, it's not just Simple Bites that will kick-start in a few days, but an entire network. Joining the already established Simple Mom and Simple Kids, will be Simple Organic and Simple Homeschool, both going live the same day as Simple Bites, making this event rather remarkable, if you ask me.

But Wait? What About UtHC?

OK, I know what you all are thinking and so I'll address the elephant in the room.

YES, I will still be maintaining Under the High Chair.

After four years, how could I not? It's a huge part of my life, as are all of my readers.

Sure, things may get a little quieter around here, because, well, we all know new babies get all the attention, but I'm not shutting down shop, and on most days, I'll be just a click away over at SB.

Launch Date: February 8

I hope you will join me over at Simple Bites on February 8th for a little blog warming. Perhaps you'll even subscribe and stick around; nothing would make me happier than to see your familiar names and faces in the comments section.

Hey, a girl can always hope!

In the meantime you can follow me on Twitter @simplebites, I'll be dishing most of my food ramblings from there now. You can also become a fan of Simple Bites on Facebook.

That's it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken Pot Pies with Leek & Lemon

I've been flattened by a stomach flu that has left me without energy or appetite, it's pouring rain outside and it's Monday. Ick. Of course I still have a million things begging for my immediate attention, so I hope you will forgive this re-run from the UtHC archives. It's a good one--tasty enough to even tempt my fickle stomach right now. Enjoy!

It's feels natural to jump on the comfort food bandwagon in January. Enough with the holiday finger food, the bowls of nuts, and elaborate dinner parties; what we need now is a one-pot meal to sink our fork into and forget about how cold it is outside. I think you'll find this updated pot pie pretty satisfying.

Although I've been making variations on this dish for my family for a while, I might never have posted the recipe if it wasn't requested by a friend of mine. OK, maybe 'request' isn't the right word, it was more like an order. In fact I believe her exact comment in response to this post was:

"I want your chicken leek pot pie recipe. I don't like baking, but I like cooking so lets get on with the real food!"

I usually make these in massive batches as they freeze and re-heat wonderfully.

Since we sometimes need 'heat & serve' instant meals (little children's tummies don't understand waiting), I bake these as I normally would for a dinner, then cool them down, wrap them well and freeze for a later date. I re-heat them in the oven to keep the pastry crisp.

I find blanching my garlic alleviates some of the not-so-fun side effects while maintaining the full flavor that we love around here. However, this is not scientifically proven, just an opinion.

Chicken Pot Pies with Leek & Lemon

This is where comfort food meets gourmet. The addition of leeks, which are perhaps the most underestimated winter vegetable, and fresh lemon zest transforms a ho-hum chicken pot pie into something special that will brighten up a cold winter’s evening.

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and de-germed
3 medium leeks
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried, (thyme is good, too)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup green peas, defrosted if frozen
About 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded

450g puff pastry or 1 pre-made pie crust
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Place garlic in cold water, bring to boil, and boil for a minute or so. Drain and roughly chop. Reserve.

Cut dark green leaves, which are tough, from the leek stalk and discard. Wash leeks well and slice into 1/2-inch (1-cm) sections. Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes or until leeks soften. Stir in flour and cook until pale gold, about 4 minutes, adding more butter if needed. Stir in chicken stock, white wine (if using), tarragon, lemon juice and rind.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat, stir in cream and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick and glossy. Stir in green peas and chicken and season well with salt and pepper.

Pour chicken mixture into a 6-cup baking dish or individual ramekins. Roll out pastry 1/4-inch (5-mm) thick to cover top of dish. Place pastry on top of baking dish and press edges to seal. With a sharp knife, pierce pastry once or twice for a steam hole and brush pastry with egg.

Bake pies on middle shelf of oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden and mixture bubbles. I usually set my baking dish or dishes on a cookie sheet as I inevitably get one that overflows.

Cool slightly before serving to avoid burns!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Mother's Butter Tarts

I have three siblings, all of whom are terrific cooks, and when we left home I was lucky enough to make off with my mother's handwritten cookbook. We all grew up learning to cook from its stained and tattered pages, so I'm surprised no one kicked up a fuss when I claimed it for my own.

Perhaps none of them know I have it, nevertheless, one of my favorite rainy day pastimes (who am I kidding, those don't exist in 2010) is to leaf through it and remember how we ate as kids - and how I cooked.

There are many favorite recipes, recipes that got me started on this whole gastronomical adventure. How many hundreds of times did I mix up Easy Wheat Pancakes or Quiche Lorraine? Crazy Chocolate Cake was my go-to one bowl chocolate cake for every occasion, while Kate's Never Fail Pastry stood by it's promise every time.

Sometime, I'm going to have to get my act together, scan the entire cookbook and preserve it forever. It's literally in pieces, but that doesn't affect the recipes, nay, they are as good as ever.

Like my mother's butter tarts, for example.

I can't accurately compare them to any other butter tarts, because honestly, I don't eat any other butter tarts but these. Years of disappointment left me wary, as all I encountered were overly sweet and gooey concoctions with no texture to speak of save a stray raisin, and I mean raisin, singular.

These ones are chock full of raisins, coconut, and walnuts, chewy, and yes, a little bit gooey. They are perfection. I don't make my mother's butter tarts nearly often enough because well, Oh My Heck! they are rich and I can't stop eating them even after two or seven. It may be my mother's cookbook, but since I've left home she isn't around anymore to limit my intake!

Butter Tarts

2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

18 2-inch tart shells, or 36 mini, usually the equivalent of two double-crust pies*.

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until light. Beat in eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla and mix well. Mix in raisins, walnuts, coconut, salt and cream. Combine thoroughly.

Spoon into tart shells and bake until set. 12-15 minutes for mini tarts, 20-22 for large.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen 2 inch tarts.

*And a quick word about those crusts. Your pie dough is your business, whether you like it flaky or crispy, all-butter or all-lard, but please, don't roll it too thick for these tarts. It should complement the filling, not overwhelm it.
If you've ever had a butter tart at a popular coffee chain in Canada, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say TOO THICK. I won't name names, because people love it so much, but I will say that it rhymes with Jim Shmortons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Beef Chronicles: Ossobuco in Bianco

January is always dubbed The Budget Month, as people tighten their belts after weeks of holiday extravagance, and turn to pantry staples for their dinners. I'm all for that, believing there is a time and a season for everything, so I don't expect anyone to rush out and purchase a brown paper package of fresh veal shanks upon reading this recipe.

But you should. Oh, trust me, it would be the best thing you've done all year.

Now before I lead you to think that we have thrown frugality to the winds at Under the High Chair, let me assure you, we are eating basic home cooking along with the rest of you this month. This particular Ossobuco feast was enjoyed back in December; in fact, it rather kicked off a slew of dinner parties that lasted for two weeks straight and only came to a screeching halt as we said adieu to 2009.

What a shame.

It may or may not surprise you that I have never prepared ossobuco before, well from scratch, anyway. Sure I served about 87 plates of it during my One Night With Rocco (DiSpirito), but that was merely a heat n' shave truffles n' serve kind of deal, as he flew the ossobuco in from NYC already cooked (no comment).

Ever since we purchased a calf (and the Beef Chronicles were born), I've had the lovely veal shanks in my freezer, just waiting to fulfill their destiny and give me a chance to make ossobuco.
Of course, rebellious me didn't want to go the traditional route with tomatoes & red wine, but instead chose a recipe from my beloved River Cafe Cookbook for a 'White' ossobuco that uses anchovies, white wine and celery instead.

We loved every morsel. I served it with the traditional Risotto Milanese (that had been perfumed with fresh-bought saffron) and we were in carnivore heaven.

Sure, the bank account is a lot less padded after the holidays, but you may just want to start a change jar labeled 'Ossobuco Fund'. At least, that's the best idea I've got. There's no more shank in my freezer and I DO have to try the traditional way now, right?

Ossobuco in Bianco

From the River Cafe Cook Book
Serves 6

8 or more veal or beef ossobuco bones, at least 2 inches across
75g plain flour
salt and fresh ground pepper
120g butter
2 tbs of olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 celery sticks, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
9 salted anchovies
½ bottle dry white wine

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300F

Dust each piece of ossoebuco meat with flour and salt and pepper.
In a large, heavy bottomed casserole dish or pot (I used a Dutch oven) melt half the butter and the oil and seal the ossobuco on each side.

Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.Pour the fat away for the pot, then add remaining butter and gently fry the celery and onion until they are soft but not too brown.

Add garlic and anchovies to the onion mixture and mash them together for a minute or 2 with a fork. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil and reduce a bit.
Carefully put the ossobuco back in the big pot, arranging the shanks to that they make on layer in the bottom of the pot. Scoop some of the celery/onion mixture on their tops.

Cut a circle out of parchment paper the size of the pot and cover ossobuco with it. Cover pot with lid and place in oven

Cook for at least 2 - 2.1/2 hours. Liquid will reduce and veal will become quite tender.

Mean while, prepare gremolata by stirring together the finely chopped garlic, lemon zest and chopped parsley.
Carefully transfer ossobuco to a serving platter and sprinkle with gremolata.
Serve with Risotto Milanese.

More Beef Chronicles:

In Which we Buy A Cow

An Introduction

Rib Steak With Red-Wine Butter

Rosemary-Garlic Marinated T-Bone

Cumin-Scented Kebabs

Sesame-Beef Lettuce Wraps

Beef Tacos with Salsa Cruda

Classic Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Purée

Steak au Poivre & Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, January 08, 2010

Foodie Facebook: Cheri

It was Cheri's stunning photography that first drew me to her blog, Kitchen Simplicity, but her warm and friendly nature that kept me coming back.

For a self-professed kitchen 'amateur', Cheri certainly can turn out some gorgeous food. There are days when I think about hopping on a plane to Oslo just so I can get in on some of it.

Hey, it can't be that much colder in Norway than it is now in Canada, right?

Name: Cheri

Place: Oslo, Norway

Occupation: Mom

UtHC: What is your earliest childhood food memory?

When I was 3 or 4 my imagination got the better of me and I could not get myself to eat scrambled eggs. To me all the shapes looked like little animals. A plate full of little sheep, puppies and kitties. How could my mom expect me to eat such cute little creatures? Eventually, I was able to get it out of my head and now I enjoy eggs almost daily.

UtHC: What did you eat today?

Breakfast: Eggs and Toast (see daily!)
Lunch: Shrimp and Asparagus Penne
Supper: Tacos
And a couple of truffles sprinkled throughout. :)

UtHC: What will your kids never be allowed to eat?

Can their own feces be an answer? I cannot count the number of times that I have had to stop my son from putting his hands in his mouth after waving them around in the forbidden poopy zone while I change his diaper. So far no feces has been eaten.. that I know of.

Other then the obvious, I don't know if there is anything that I wouldn't allow my kids to eat EVER, but on a daily basis we keep things fairly healthy. And, homemade is always best. :)

UtHC: What do you always have on hand in your fridge?

My fridge is pretty tiny. I am 5'4" and can see over the top of it, and it includes a freezer! So my fridge does not stay stocked with too much outside of the basics, like milk and eggs. I shop every couple days to last only a couple of days. It took me a while to get used to it but on the bright side, nothing goes to waste! :)

UtHC: What is you beverage of choice?

Water. I know, how boring! I wish I could say something else, but I am just not that exciting. Nothing quenches thirst to me like water and it is not very often that I crave something different.

UtHC: If you could have dinner with anyone n the history of man, who would it be?

I would have to say Jesus. Anyone who can turn water into wine and make a meal for one stretch to thousands is very welcome at my table.
Besides, I love Him and would love to see His smile.

UtHC: OK, it's your last meal ever, what do you have?

Hands down my mothers Turkey dinner. Nothing beats a classic.

Ed Note: Thanks so much, Cheri!! A very Happy New Year to you, with side of turkey & cranberry sauce, too!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Stocking the Cheese Board with Rosemary Pecan Crisps

If you analyzed my diet over the past two weeks, you'd conclude that cheese and dessert had combined to make a new food group. I feel as though they have been the main staples of my diet since the holidays started and am scratching my head trying to remember consuming an actual ordinary meal--massive multi-course dinner parties excluded, of course.

I'm partially blaming Julie for this influx of artery clogging ripened milk products in my diet because she introduced me to these Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps, and once one has the perfect transportation for the cheese from wooden board to lips, there is no stopping the heavy traffic.

Similar to Raincoast Crisps, the deadly addicting, yet expensive cracker that Julie brilliantly patterned her recipe after, these treats, plus a wheel of triple creme Brie are a Girl's Best Friend. They are delicately flavored with buttermilk & honey, scented with fresh rosemary and contain just enough nuts & fruit to eclipse the rest of the accompaniments on the cheese board.

OK, the crisps are very simple to make--and don't worry, you're not going to have to knead bread dough! The batter, which is leavened with baking soda, comes together quickly and two hefty loaves are baked off in a jiff. When cooled, the loaves are sliced and the slices baked again into the crisps you see here; yep, it's a similar method to making biscotti.

The longest part is probably slicing the loaves, but if you do this while they are very cold or partially frozen, the result will be uniform, thin slices of bread which will produce lovely, lovely crisps.

Do visit Dinner with Julie for her entertaining post on the subject and a few ideas for alternative add-ins.

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
via Dinner with Julie

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flax seed, ground

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.

Pour the batter into two 8”x4” loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer.
Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (Julie likes to slice and bake one loaf and pop the other in the freezer for another day.)

Reduce the oven heat to 300° F and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden.

Cool and store in an airtight container.
Makes about 8 dozen crackers.


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