About Chatty Kathy

Living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in BC, we have an abundance of fresh food to cook with, and believe me, I do! We have 5 daughters, 3 grand daughters, and lots of honorary daughters ...I love cooking for family and friends and they all keep me busy in the kitchen. Here is hoping that this blog will allow my entire family to access those recipes they ask for, and maybe even enjoy a few travel photos!

Peanut Sesame Noodles

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, you won’t be sorry!

YES, I mean it, get in there … play with this noodle dish.  Experiment with textures and colours, and then when its time to mix with the dressing your hands are the best tools in your kitchen, a great time to get the kids to help ….. (after they’ve washed up).

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, halved
  • One 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2  cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

 

Heat peanut oil in sauce pan, and add peanuts.  Heat until golden brown and allow to cool slightly.

Grind garlic, jalapeno and ginger with a 1/2 tsp of sea salt with mortar and pestle.  (Yes, you can use a food processor if you have one and would rather!)  Add sliced scallions.  Pour warm peanuts (with oil) over top.  The warmth allows the flavours to bloom.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.  I can’t say this strongly enough but taste it!  Taste, taste, taste.  Everybody has a different brand of each ingredient, and that will make the overall taste slightly unique in every household.  Get a balance that you like, in other words, when you realize you are still tasting just to eat it ……

Soften rice noodles according to package instructions.

Thinly slice coloured sweet peppers, celery and any other vegetables you are inclined to add – this is so forgiving and just allows you to express yourself.

Asian noodles

Toss everything together until well blended.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This noodle dish is easy to turn into a main dish, or one dish meal by adding chicken or seafood.  Keep it the way it is for a vegetarian meal or add some cubed, fried tofu.

Ginger Garlic Sticky Chicken Thighs

Ginger Garlic Chicken Thighs

It’s really important to allow the sauce to reduce before coating the chicken thighs.  This allows the flavours time to play together and makes these chicken bites finger licking good!

SAUCE

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan, and over medium heat allow to gently boil, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.

Allow to cool, then coat chicken in sauce generously and convection roast at 375 until cooked through ….. 30-35 min depending on the size of your chicken thighs, turning half way through.

Turn broiler on and allow to brown – watching carefully!

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

 

 

 

 

 

Almost Shake Shack sauce!

IMG_4127

Almost famous all right …. Make your own Shake Shack sauce.

 

This creamy sauce will take your home made burger right to the level of that famous burger at Shake Shack.

In order to replicate the burger all the way – make sure you use good beef, 1/4 pound of it per burger, and cook it on a flat surface … without greasing the pan!  That creates the crisp exterior.

Use soft potato buns, lightly butter and grill or toast.

Lettuce, tomato, pickles and this amazing sauce will complete the deal.  And you may never buy another burger!

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 4 slices kosher dill pickle
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
IMG_4134

Maybe not the best presentation photo, but this creamy, slighty tangy sauce takes your burger to lip smacking, napkin required level.

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

Easter means brighter, fresher desserts, and this fits that description perfectly.  Ideal for brunch, lunch or dinner, these are a real treat.  I found the recipe on “Live Well Bake Often”, and, unusually for me ….. I didn’t change a thing!

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

When spring is peaking around the corner, I immediately think of lighter, fresher desserts …. and usually lemon figures in there somewhere!  These light, lemony cheesecakes topped with fresh whipped cream and berries are an ideal way to finish off dinner.

Cheesecake graham crumb

If you have a mini cheesecake pan, that would be ideal, but this straight sided silicone muffin tin I had worked perfectly.

For the crust:
  • 6 full-sheets (90 grams) graham crackers (or ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
Graham crumb 2

It’s important to get the crumbs settled smoothly into the bottom of the tin, and I used the bottom of a small glass to get it all flattened out.

To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray each cavity of a 12-count mini cheesecake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (or silicone muffin pan).  If you want to use a traditional muffin tin I would recommend using liners for easier removal.
  2. Add the graham crackers to a blender or food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Scoop the crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the melted butter and sugar, and mix until everything is well combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities in the mini cheesecake pan, making sure to press each one down firmly into one even layer. Bake at 325°F for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Keep oven temperature at 325°F.
Mini cheesecake

These muffin tins used 1/4 cup of the cheesecake batter to make the perfect little mini cheesecake.

For the lemon cheesecake filling:
  • 12-ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
To make the cheesecake filling:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar and mix until well combined. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed, then mix in the egg and egg yolk on low speed until just combined.
  2. Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling between all 12 cavities of the mini cheesecake pan (or muffin pan) and return to the oven. Bake at 325°F for 17-20 minutes or until the tops of the cheesecakes are set.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Once the cheesecakes are chilled, remove them from the pan. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired, serve, and enjoy!

 

Classic Mac …… & cheese

Meals on wheels Mac

Creamy cheesy elbow macaroni hiding under a crispy crackly coating of panko.

Classic macaroni and cheese is one of those comforting dishes for a cool night.  I like to serve this with either cubed ham baked right in with the pasta, or alongside crispy chicken tenders.  Kids love it either way!

I’ve done recipes with the pasta cooked right in with the sauce in the oven; they are great, quick and easy.  But for comfort food, creamy and delicious, it is classic all the way.

You can use skim or whole milk in this recipe, either works just fine.  We used gluten free elbow pasta and it also works just great.

BREAD CRUMB TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Stir crumbs & seasoning into butter until well coated.  Set aside.

MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 1 tbsp (plus 1 tsp table salt)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cups milk
  • 5 cups shredded cheese, sharp or old cheddar works best

Grease a 9×13 baking dish

Preheat oven to 350

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tbsp salt and the macaroni noodles.  Boil until just al dente and strain immediately.

Bechamel

Classic béchamel sauce ….. stir, stir, stir until it is creamy and smooth – so easy to turn into delicious cheese sauce for vegetables or this macaroni and cheese bake.

In the now empty saucepan, melt the butter, and stir in the flour, mustard, cayenne and remaining 1 tsp salt.  Whisk until mixture becomes fragrant and slightly deepens in colour, just around 1 minute.  Gradually add milk, drop in a splash of worcestershire, and keep whisking well so you don’t get any lumps and the milky mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.  Allow to come to a full boil in order for the thickening action to get going.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened and is the consistency of a thick cream.  Remove from heat, stir well and then add cheese.  Once cheese has been fully incorporated, add the macaroni noodles and combine it well.  (If you are adding ham cubes this is the time to do it)  Give the mixture a generous grind of fresh black pepper, to taste. (my grandkids aren’t crazy about pepper, so when it is for them, I’m lightly seasoning the pasta)

Mac & Cheese

Turn mixture into prepared baking dish and lightly cover with the panko crumb mixture.

Oven ready Mac

Ready for the oven, this classic dish will soon be crispy on top and creamy underneath.

Bake, just until you see the cheese mixture bubbling and the topping has browned.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

KFC – Korean Fried Cauliflower

KFC

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness.  Welcome to KFC.

I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment.  Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver.  I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love.  (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed)   We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places!  Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out.  We went twice.  This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too.  Once we got home I went on the search.  There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of.  Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it.  The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.

(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)

1 head cauliflower

green onions (for garnish)

Cauliflower

BUTTERMILK MIXTURE

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

FLOUR MIXTURE

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder

KFC SAUCE

  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets.  Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.

To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup.  (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.

KFC Sauce

Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.

Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!

Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.

Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off.  Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat.  Place on plate.  Repeat until all florets have been coated.

In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil.  Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together.  You don’t want either to happen!  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.

In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly.  Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.

Messy kitchen

Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it?  You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon.  (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)

Perfect Pulled Pork

During the winter months we just can’t use our smoker ….. too cold, it’s buried under snow and nobody wants to be out there checking the temperature.  I have a perfectly acceptable and delicious slow cooker recipe for pulled pork, but I’ve been looking for one that roasts low and slow in the oven for those crispy bits around the outside.  I found this one on a website:  www.kevinandamanda.com

Pulled pork rice bowl

I know, I know …. pulled pork sammies are the way to go, but we have not been eating a lot of wheat products, so for the second night we had “pulled pork bowls” and you know what???  I liked it even better!

It’s rare that I don’t make any changes, but this was phenomenal just the way it was written, and we all devoured it.

1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast

Dry Rub

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cups cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and dry rub and stir well to combine.

Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place in a 2 gallon ziploc bag (or a container big enough so the shoulder is completely covered in brine solution). You can add more water if necessary to completely cover the pork.

And add two dried bay leaves.

And refrigerate for at least 12 hours. 24-36 hours is best. I usually do it about 24 hours. Make sure that however you keep it, either bag or container – that it is completely submerged.

At least 12 hours later…

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. (Yes, 225 degrees, that is not a typo :)) Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution and place in the roasting pan

Pat the skin dry with paper towels so you’ll get a nice, crisp crust.

Generously, generously, cover the WHOLE thing in your dry rub mix.And massage it into that skin real good. Be sure and get it up under any flaps you may come across.  Make sure the fat layer is on TOP.

Place uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack.  This is totally adjustable.  The original recipe had the roast cooking for 13 hours, but I just didn’t have that much time.  I adjusted the temp to 250 for a 4 1/2 pound roast, and it took about 6 hours.

When shoulder has reached 200 degrees, turn off the oven and let the roast rest for about 2 hours before removing from the oven.  Keep the thermometer in the meat, so you can monitor the temperature. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the resting period. Mine still had a lot of moisture in the bottom, so I didn’t cover mine.

Pulled Pork 1

After a couple hours, when the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove the shoulder from the oven.

Remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Using two large forks, begin pulling the meat apart. It will fall apart *very* easily and it should not take you long at all to pull apart this whole roast.  If you can stop yourself nibbling while you do this, it will feed quite a crowd!

Pulled Pork

Serve on buns with creamy cole slaw and prepare to be licking your fingers. My recipe for:

Jean’s creamy cole slaw 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.