The Message of the Table

kitchen-3.1A number of years ago my parents made the big decision to move from our farm and family home into our small, very quaint town. As many of you know, a move like this is huge. With well over 30 years, 4 children plus countless family members and friends who have created memories in the home and on the property, it was a big task. Read More

Split Pea & Ham Soup Recipe

Surprisingly this is a family favorite. I know, I can hardly believe it. My kids love it, my hubby devours it and…..get this, we’ve had kids over just hanging out and I’ve served it and they LOVE IT. Crazy as it is, this green number serves as a crowd pleaser, it’s budget friendly and is a huge tummy filler. Plus… as an added bonus, it pretty much cooks itself.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Chopped Brown Onions
Left over Ham ~ whatever you can salvage. I usually try and get as close to 2 cups as possible and I cube it small {the size of your ring finger, finger nail ~ how’s that for sharing a family recipe. Couldn’t think of any other way to give the size}

500 grams or 1 bag of split peas

8 cups water
2 tsps Chicken Stock {I prefer the powdered but if you’re going to use liquid substitute one of the cups of water with stock}
1 tsp of dried thyme {if you have, if not don’t worry not necessary}

Method:
Saute your onions in Olive Oil. Add Ham. Add Peas. Pour water over. Add stock {in whatever form} and that’s it. Let it cook away, stirring every once in awhile. Cook for about 2.5 hours. Your house will smell divine and you will have enough for 6 healthy servings. Serve with a crusty, whole wheat seed roll and you have a meal that everyone will enjoy.

Note: you can add carrots and celery to the mix if you want. I do most times however when cooking it the other day I was out so didn’t bother.

Yumm-o.

Susan

The Perfect Poached Egg

{Image by Brown Eyed Baker}

Are you an egg lover? Is an egg something you enjoy once, twice or even three times a week?

The egg is an interesting food, it really covers a lot ground. Served on it’s own it can be fried, scrambled, made into an omelet, soft boiled, hard boiled, pickled or my favourite…. poached.

The egg is also used in so many other dishes it can be used whole or broken down into the white and yolk and used for totally different purposes. All parts of the egg can be eaten, however the shell is usually discarded.

My quest for the perfect poached egg started long ago. I’m sure I have frustrated many a wait staff with my request whilst ordering the poached egg I desired. On occasion, in some of the finer restaurants, I have been successful and have enjoyed an amazing, gastronomical treat. On other occasions I have been extremely disappointed when served a less than perfect poach.

I finally decided it was time for me to take matters into my own hands. I needed to conquer this cooking style and develop my own ‘Perfect Poached Egg’.

After many Google searches, reading cooking websites all in an effort to understand this inexpensive super food that is so rich with nutritional value it was time to put my research and taste-buds to work.

I pulled out a medium sized pot, grabbed a carton of eggs from the fridge and three eggs, from the counter, that I had let come to room temperature. I filled the pot with water, brought it to a boil and the fun began.

After a few failed attempts I persevered and finally created the ‘Perfect Poached Egg’. I have since shared the experience with my husband, my children and I even taught my own mother how to make this culinary treat.

I am now ready and willing to cook a poached egg for any palate, whether you like your poached egg {like mine} whites all cooked but yolk super runny or like my husband yolk slightly firm I am pleased to say Bon Appetite.

The Perfect Poached Egg

  • Bring a medium size pot of water to a full boil
  • Add 2 tsp of white vinegar
  • Using a long skinny dessert spoon begin stirring the boiling water counter clockwise {you want a strong stir happening}
  • Using a refrigerated egg, crack egg into a shallow bowl {a ramekin would be perfect}
  • Once your water is swirling pour your egg, slowly and carefully into the water.
  • Once the egg is in, keep stirring the water. Don’t worry if the egg looks like the whites are separating, keep stirring. {Note: if your yolk breaks whilst pouring it into the water. stop and start over….. it isn’t working}
  • Keep the water swirling but as you can see the egg forming you can slow down but do NOT let the water stop moving the egg could stick to the bottom on the pan which would cause it to break.
  • Using a large strainer spoon pull out some of the excess whites that are floating in the water.
  • Cooking time is about 2 minutes for runny and 2.5mins for harder yolks. Using your strainer spoon you can carefully bring the egg to the surface to check doneness. If the poaching is not to your liking simply place it back in the water for a further 15-20 seconds.

Once ready use your strainer spoon and gently shake off excess water. Place your Perfect Poached Egg on your toast, English muffin or however you desire.

Enjoy!!!

Susan xo

Angry Mussels in White Wine

{photo credit BBC Good Food}

This post and recipe comes from my eldest brother, Robert. He is an incredible cook and those who know him and who have had the opportunity to sit at his table and  enjoy some of the incredible morsels he has created, know exactly what I’m talking about…. If you’d like to check some of his food out visit ‘Taylor Made Supper Club‘. Needless to say, after tasting his Mussels and having the pleasure of enjoying them more than once I simply had to have the recipe to share…. I hope you enjoy…

Thank You for sharing Robert….

Angry Mussels in White Wine (Adapted from JCT Kitchen)

Ingredients

1lb mussels
1 cup dry white wine
1″ thick slab of bacon, diced (or equivalent in sliced bacon)
1/2 red onion
3 green onions
1 seranno chili or a good pinch of crushed red pepper
some good crusty bread

Method:

Get your bacon in a good pan and render it down. Once rendered, remove it and place it on a paper towel. Use the smokey rendered fat and sautee some aromatics (garlic, red onions and the whites of some scallions/green onion). Once the flavours start to saturate, add some crushed red pepper flakes and a little bit of cayenne to spice it up. Now, turn up the heat, toss your mussels in and a good glut of dry white wine. Pop the lid on and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, remove to a bowl, toss in the bacon, topp with green onion tops and get out your crusty bread to dip in and enjoy all the juices that have developed.  The liquid that cooks out of the mussels mixed with the wine, bacon, chilis and all that other good stuff makes for some seriously awesome flavor.

Use the method above or, keep it simple and just sautee, steam and eat. Way too easy.

Best Lasagna Recipe

 

{photo directly from my oven}

 

Over the past few weeks, I have made meals for a few friends who have either been under the weather or just on the run and crazy busy.

I find Lasagna an easy meal to make for friends for a number of reasons: 1) Most kids like Lasagna 2) It’s an easy meal to transport 3) You can jazz it up by adding spinach, grated carrots and other ‘hidden’ veggies 4) Couple it with a salad, some garlic bread and the meal is ready to go.

For whatever reason, our famous Sohn Lasagna is something people seem to love. The recipe has been requested time after time so tonight I finally found a moment to pull it all together. This recipe is familyroom tried and true, it has passed even the toughest of palates so relax and know that it won’t disappoint..

Best Lasagna Recipe

Oven Temp: 375 ~ Cooking Time: 1 hour ~ Pan Size: 9X13 inch ~ Serves 12-14

Meat Sauce:

2lbs ground beef

4 cloves of chopped garlic

½-1 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp salt

2-15oz cans diced tomatoes

2-6oz cans tomato paste

1 cup chopped onions

Or….. If you’re pressed for time, you can cheat and buy a store prepared sauce. If you do this I would buy the roasted garlic meat sauce and as natural as possible.

Cottage Cheese Mixture:

3 cups dry cottage cheese {if you can’t find dry put your wet cottage cheeze in a strainer and let it drain}

3 beaten eggs

2 tsp salt {you can leave this out if you want. I usually do}

½ tsp pepper

2 Tbsp parsley flakes or preferably fresh parsley chopped

½ cup parmesan cheeze {the finer the better}

1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese

Method:

Fry ground beef and drain grease {IMPORTANT}.

Add other ingredients and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Combine cottage cheeze mixture, except mozzarella

In a greased baking pan place a layer of noodles + ½ the cottage cheeze mixture followed by a layer of mozzarella then the meat mixture {this is where I add my own flavour to the mix…. I add spinach, eggplant, zucchini or whatever you want. Alternatively, you can grate veggies and add them to your meat sauce if you have a ‘picky’ eater. This is an excellent dish to ‘hide’ a lot of goodness. Get creative and make this your own}.

Repeat beginning again with the layer of noodles, cottage cheeze mixture, mozzarella and finish with the meat mixture and mozzarella and any left over parmesan to sprinkle.

Bake. Recommended baking time is 1 hour however I usually take it out after 50 minutes. The last 10minutes seems to brown it up just a little too much. This is best cooked ahead of time and then reheated. For some reason it holds together better that way.

This recipe freezes well. If you slice it up and put it in zip lock bags it works really well for kids lunches {if microwave is available}. I take it out of the bag in the morning, place it in a glass container, pop it in their lunch bags. The Lasagna coupled with a piece of fruit a veggie and maybe a cookie and your child has a perfect, very filling hot lunch.

Susan xo

Jamie Oliver’s Killer Jerk Chicken

I understand that getting dinner on the table can be a challenge. Especially when you’re working, looking after kids and trying to find that balance that allows you not only the time to create something nutritious for your family but the head space and the energy to pull it all together.

In an effort to help I am pulling together a few thoughts | ideas | and workable solutionsTweet This to help bring that balance into play. As many of you know, I’m passionate about seeing individuals and families thrive rather than strive so today marks Day 1 of a number of posts where I will tackle ‘WorkPlace & Family Balance‘ and hopefully provide solutions for busy people who desire to find, create and live balanced lives. Endeavouring to do so ultimately offers the best to your family, your workplace and allows you space to create quality and quantity time. I’m excited because this is a space that I love to occupy.

1 CHALLENGE we all face is food. With the rise in obesity, the lure of take away and the absence of time it can ~ and for all of us has been challenging. Today, I’m going to share a solution from our home which comes in the form of a recipe. Every recipe |thought | idea I share here are all ‘Tried and True‘ through our personal test situations {I promise to share some of the disasters too!}

Here we go… If you’re interested to follow on Twitter or Instagram or now Periscope (susanjsohn) you can check out everything that is offer.

The other day my beautiful 8 year old daughter, Ella, and I found ourself glued to the TV watching the Food Network and another edition of Jamie Olivers 30-Minute Meals. On this particular episode, Jamie was making his Killer Jerk ChickenTweet This. A few things I loved about this show:

1) Nothing was pre-prepared for Jamie, he had to open every packet, get everything from his fridge, turn on and preheat his own oven, boil his own water {you know how on some cooking shows everything is usually ready and waiting and the chef just goes to work and makes it look like it’s 30mins… when in actual fact our ‘at-home-experience’ turns out to be more than a 1hr endeavour}. I loved this!

2) Although there were a number of ingredients, most we all probably have in our pantry’s with the exception perhaps the chilli’s, black beans and fresh herbs. I like these recipes.

3) I made the Jerk Sauce in the morning and it took only minutes, popped it in the fridge and it was ready and waiting for the dinner prep.

4) Cooking times were exact so I was able to tell my family ‘Dinner will be ready in 6 minutes’ all based on the oven setting {sometimes cooking times can vary. I like when they work according to the recipe/chef}

So, here  you go… Jamie Oliver’s Killer Jerk Chicken Recipe with Rice & Black Beans & Cinnamon + Grilled CornTweet This {on the show Jamie included a salad which I will do next time, just didn’t have the head space to make it last night. In saying that, I have included the recipe for you}. Now go, create and gather your family around the table and enjoy!

Information: Minutes to Prepare: 30 Minutes to Cook: 30 Number of Servings: 4

Ingredients
CHICKEN
• 6 x 180g chicken breasts {Jamie uses skin on. I used thighs and skin off}
• 1 tablespoon runny honey
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
• a few sprigs of fresh coriander
CORN
.5 large corn on the cob, husks removed {I used medium cobs}
RICE & BEANS
• 2 spring onions
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 250g long-grain rice
• 600ml organic chicken stock
• 1 x 400g carton of black beans
JERK SAUCE
• 4 spring onions
• a small bunch of fresh thyme
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• ground cloves
• ground nutmeg
• ground allspice
• 6 tablespoons golden rum {if you don’t have rum just buy the tiny bottle from the liquor store it’s exactly 6 tbsps}
• 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon runny honey
• 1 Scotch bonnet chilli {I used a Jalapeño instead}
• 4 cloves of garlic
SEASONINGS
• olive oil
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt & black pepper
YOGHURT
• 1 x 250g pot of natural yoghurt
• a few sprigs of fresh coriander
• 1 lime

Directions

TO STARTGet all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large griddle pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

CHICKEN: Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Clear away the board and wash the knife and your hands.

CORN: Put the corn into the saucepan with a good pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Put the lid on.

JERK SAUCE: Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into the liquidizer with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme, 3 bay leaves (stalks removed), a large pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice, 6 tablespoons each of rum and vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of salt. Remove the stalks and seeds from the Scotch bonnet chilli {I used a Jalapeno for extra zing} and add the chilli to the liquidizer, then quickly crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and blitz with the lid on until you have a really smooth paste. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to loosen, if needed.

CHICKEN: The undersides should be golden now, so turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a snug-fitting baking dish and use tongs to lay the chicken on top, skin side up {if you have skin on}. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary and the remaining thyme sprigs {I rub these with olive oil to keep them moist whilst cooking}. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully pour away the oil from the griddle pan and wipe clean with kitchen paper, then put back on a high heat.

RICE & BEANS: Put a large wide saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good lug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and chicken stock. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to the pan. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes. OR, you can do what I did to save time and stress… I popped it all in my rice cooker {if you have one} and let it do the work. Saved time and turned out beautiful!

YOGHURT: Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of 1/2 the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in, then take to the table with the other lime half for squeezing over.

CORN: Use tongs to move the corn to the hot griddle pan and drizzle over a little olive oil {I added a bit of salt too} . Cook and turn frequently until charred. Once ready, put on a platter and take to the table.

TO SERVE Take the chicken out of the oven, sprinkle over some coriander leaves and take straight to the table {I cooked it in a oven proof pan so it looked amazing and went straight from oven to table}. I used a cutting board and put my rice {from the rice cooker} on the board and then the corn and it looked beautiful. When serving, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

Number of Servings: 6

*Note: This recipe is actually for 4 but I simply added 2 extra thighs and made it serve 6 without adjusting anything. It works 🙂

 

Margarita Chicken

A few months ago (whilst still living in Canada) my mum and I were having a nice, relaxing evening, we were enjoying a glass of wine with some yummy food. It was one of those nights where we decided to eat ‘tapas’ style. One of our dishes was another of Chef Andre’s scrumptious creations ‘Margarita Prawns‘. Needless to say, as with anything Chef Andre makes, the prawns were absolutely divine.

The next night, we were having people over and with the ingredients we used for the prawns still in my fridge and bursting with flavor, we decided to play around with this tasty recipe and change it up a bit for a bit of variety. This resulted in ‘Margarita Chicken’ and it was equally as good as the prawns and enjoyed by everyone. So, as with anything great we manage to prepare, we wanted to share. These recipes are great for summer or those cool, crisp fall nights I am now enjoying in Australia. So, Northern Hemisphere friends take this recipe and dine Al fresco whilst we in the Southern Hemisphere will enjoy under our deck heathers.

Enjoy friends (picture beside is the actual pic of the prawns we made)

Margarita Chicken

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tequila

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lime (for zest and juice)

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Method: In a large bowl, combine cilantro, garlic, tequila, oil, lime zest, lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat grill. Grill the shrimp 6 inches from the heat, turning once, for 3 minutes, or until just opaque.

Serves 4

 

Finding Amazing Food When Travelling with Notes From A Broad

 

Notes From A Broad by Nicole Liboiron is a weekly commentary on Lifestyle, Fashion and Travel

If there is one thing I love more than travelling, it’s hunting down the perfect meal while travelling. Finding great eats in a strange town can lead you to some of the best adventures and memories a vacation can bring.   I honestly believe you can’t experience the culture of the place you visit, until you ‘taste’ the culture of the place you visit.  Unfortunately finding a great restaurant in a foreign land can be a challenge. However, just a few useful tips can help go you go beyond the mediocre dining experience.

First and foremost, you need to be willing to go beyond the hotel doors.  Are there restaurants in your hotel? Probably.  However, there is a greater chance that you won’t have a truly great eating experience unless you leave the confines of where you’re staying.  Walking through the neighborhood will allow you to stumble upon that hidden gem of a restaurant. Look in windows, read menus, check out the dining crowd.  It’s also best to venture off the beaten path, beyond the touristy areas, in order to get a better price and a better meal.

Your best resource is a local.  Talk to your cab driver, the lady beside you on the bus, or the girl behind the cash register.  Just like at home, the locals know the best places to eat.  Remember, this doesn’t always mean the hotel concierge.  They often have a reason for sending you in a certain direction.  I’ve never been steered wrong by a cop.  One of New York’s finest led me to one of the best dessert experiences of my life.

If you can’t speak the language then watch where people gather or where there’s a lineup.  Sometimes it pays to follow the crowds.  Avoid places filled with similar camera and map-toting tourists like you, and head for those places filled with locals.  If there is a wait, it’s usually a good sign.

As you know, I ‘m a firm believer in scouring the Internet.  Any major city around the world will have an on-line guide for restaurants.  If you’re lucky there will even be an app for your smart phone.  In North America we have OpenTable, Urbanspoon, Eat Canada, Happy Cow (for vegetarians) and Yelp to name a few.  If you’re an avid Twitter user simply type in your location followed by the word restaurant and you’ll be surprised at the results. More importantly, your technology should include a GPS that can assist you in getting in and maybe out of places; if need be.

And my final tip: if it’s offered, eat it, or at least try it.  Sitting down and breaking bread with locals can bridge any language or cultural barrier.  Food, and sitting down to enjoy it, is the one thing we all have in common.  Whether its guinea pig in Peru, chicken hearts in Brazil, or conch in the Caribbean I’ve always dug right in only to be rewarded, not so much by the flavour of the food, but friendships and memories that accompanied it.

Food is the commonality that brings cultures around the world together.

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