Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cheddar Soup

Photo from
I made another amazing recipe from Healthy Starts Here the other day for Apple Cheddar Soup. It is perfect for the cold wet weather we've had lately. Tyler liked it, but declared it not to be in the "man soup" category. Apparently "man soup" has to have red meat or sausage. I served it with a quick bread made with beer, however, so that helped up the man-quotient.

A note about the recipe: If you cannot find unsweetened apple cider, use a little less cider and more water or some chicken stock. We found the soup a bit on the sweet side.

Two Years Ago: Deep Dish Pizza

Recipe: Apple Cheddar Soup via Cityline

Adapted slightly from Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009
  • 8 oz old cheddar cheese, 4 oz shredded and 4 oz cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle light-bodied beer (I used Blue)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in middle. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Combine the cheese, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the beer and mix well. Pour the batter (it will be quite thick) into the prepared pan, pushing batter into the corners and smoothing the top. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top.

Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean (try a couple of spots because it may look wet if you hit a pocket of cheese), about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a rack. Can be kept at room temperature for 3 days in an airtight container, although is better toasted on the 2nd day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Years + 100th Post!

This post marks both 2 years of Four Seasons Kitchen AND my 100th post! I didn't even plan that, I swear. Actually, I really should have planned a bit. When I realized that both these blog milestones were coming this week I figured the recipe for this post should be an amazing one. However, we hadn't done grocery shopping for real food (just Thanksgiving food) for a couple of weeks. Hmm... what to make?

The best thing I've made lately was something I didn't think I would even post, let alone allow to represent these milestones. But the more I thought about it, it came to me that this dish really represents why I write this blog and how my cooking has evolved in the last few years. It is quick, easy, healthy, and unexpectedly delicious.

I started Four Seasons Kitchen because I wanted to share my recipes and inspire anybody reading to get cooking and try something new. Comparing posts from the start of this blog to now, I now put more thought into eating healthy, especially in the last year since Parker was born. Since my first post October 17, 2009 I have gotten married and had a child. Amazing.

So without further ado, here it is- Lentils with Chorizo, Brussels Sprouts, and Balsamic Vinegar.

Ok, a little more ado. I feel I have to justify this dish. I had some lentils, chorizo, and brussels sprouts hanging around in the fridge and I needed a quick lunch for myself and Parker. I wasn't sure I'd like what I had created but I figured it'd have to do cause I was starving. And the rest is history. I loved it and so did Parker (I know, the kid will eat anything). I beg you to try it. Report back on how much you like it. I won't even say I told you so.

Two Years Ago: Caldo Verde Soup (also with chorizo, funnily enough)

In true Four Seasons Kitchen style, this is not a recipe so much as a method. Use your judgement on amounts and seasoning. 

To cook lentils, cover dried lentils in a pan with water and add a carrot, celery stick, a couple whole cloves of garlic, half an onion, and a bay leaf. Simmer until lentils are tender, drain and remove vegetables and bay leaf. Can be frozen for quick meals.

  • brussels sprouts, quartered
  • olive oil
  • dry chorizo sausage, sliced
  • cooked lentils
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Heat a pan with olive oil over medium high heat. Add brussels sprouts and saute, turning them over a few times throughout cooking, until golden brown on all sides. Add a splash of water and cover pan. Let steam until brussels sprouts are just tender. If there is still some water in the pan, uncover and increase heat to high to let it evaporate.

Add chorizo, saute a couple of minutes. Add lentils to heat them through. Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar and cook until pan is almost dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Review and Reveal

Photo from Serious Eats
So Thanksgiving at my place was a hit. All the food turned out as planned, amazingly, and I even had time to sit down to eat and chat because I did so much in advance. The pumpkin pie was announced "the best I've ever had" by my dad.

Also, remember the secret dish I alluded to in my last post? That was turducken. Turducken! I know. It was amazing. I used a recipe from Serious Eats that makes a smaller turducken. Usually turducken is a a deboned turkey, stuffed with a deboned chicken, stuffed with a deboned duck. That is a lot of work and apparently takes a whole day to make. Serious Eats made one using duck breast, chicken thighs, and turkey cutlets. Much easier. I doubled the recipe to make enough for everybody to have a little, and I used the same stuffing we had for the meal rather than what the recipe called for. To do that pulse dry, uncooked stuffing mixture in a food processor (or Magic Bullet) until fine, add stock or water a little at a time to make a cohesive, but not soggy, mixture.

The one tip I have from all the recipes is that the pumpkin chocolate tart recipe makes A LOT of filling. After I baked the tart shell it looked like it wasn't going to hold all the filling. I also realized the recipe called for a 14 oz can of pumpkin, not a 22 oz like I had, so I doubled the rest of the filling ingredients. I pulled a Tenderflake crust out of the freezer to make a straight up pumpkin pie (Tyler got his wish in the end). There was still filling left, so I filled another pie shell. In all I ended up making 5 (!!!) pies, 3 of them pumpkin. Two days later there is only half a pie left.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Image Bon Appetit
We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year for my family on Saturday. This should be interesting, considering Parker doesn't like anybody but Mommy or Daddy to hold him. Despite inquiries from everybody as to whether they can bring anything, I am doing it all myself. Otherwise I'd be sending out an email such as this - The Thanksgiving Letter. Type A personality over here much?

Usually I end up writing a post after the holidays, but then nobody can use the recipes until next year (who's going to make another turkey between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Not I). And the reason I write this blog is to share recipes and ideas that people can use. So, here is what I will be cooking this weekend, along with a secret dish as long as I can find the ingredients for it. More on that later if it comes to fruition.

Anybody else hosting Thanksgiving? What are you cooking?

Images: Foodland Ontario, Bon Appetit, Cityline, Martha Stewart

Pre-Dinner Nibbles:
Cheese, Chorizo, Crostini, White Bean Hummus, Rosemary Fried Almonds

Parsnip, Apple and Brie Soup - I tested this recipe last week and it is delicious.

Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy - I made this for Christmas a few years ago and it was amazing!
Whole Wheat Stuffing with Bacon, Chestnuts and Parmesan
Italian Roasted Vegetables
Polenta in place of mashed potatoes cause I love it

Chocolate Pumpkin Tart - Tyler wants straight pumpkin pie, but being me I have to jazz it up of course
Lemon Tart

The Plan:
Thursday: Defrost turkey (I bought turkey parts rather than a whole turkey so that I can cook the white and dark meat seperately to ensure it's all cooked perfectly)

Friday: Dry brine turkey, start stuffing, make desserts, cut up vegetables, make secret dish, make soup (all this after grocery shopping and while Tyler is golfing, go figure)

Saturday morning: Cook vegetables, clean house, make almonds and hummus, assemble app platter

Saturday afternoon: Everyone arrives 3-4 pm, put in dark meat at 4:00, white meat at 5:00, 5:30 put in stuffing and secret dish, 6:00 take out turkey and rest, make gravy, polenta, put in vegetables to warm, warm up soup and eat soup

So we'll see how this all goes down, but I feel better having a plan. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fried Udon Noodles

These noodles are my favourite. Udon noodles are thick, slightly chewy noodles. I think they hail from Korea, but correct me if I'm wrong. When I was in backpacking in Australia at 18 I stayed in Melbourne for a couple of months and there was a small Asian restaurant down the street from our hostel. My friend Liz and I would go there once in a while when we were feeling flush (which was not often when backpacking, to be honest) and I would always order the udon noodle dish with chicken. Liz would order vegetarian. Either way it was delicious. This is my attempt to recreate it. It's close. I think. It's been 10 years.

I've had a hard time finding udon noodles here. They finally carry them at Zehrs (aka Loblaws for other folks) and they were on sale a few weeks ago for $1.00 each. Score! One package will serve one of me, perhaps two of you if you don't eat as much as I do, which is entirely possible since I eat a lot.

Serves 1

Adding some chicken, shrimp, tofu, beef or pork would be delicious and make this a more filling meal for dinner- I made it for a quick lunch here so I didn't use any of that. The vegetables can be whatever you have available.
  • 200 g udon noodles
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • handful shredded cabbage (I shredded 2 brussels sprouts which I had in the fridge)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, sliced
  • sesame seeds, for serving
Pour boiling water over noodles, let sit for 1 minute, then drain and set aside. This is to loosen them from being vacuum packaged.

Mix together soy sauces, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add vegetables, stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add noodles, fry a couple more minutes. Add sauce, fry 1 minutes until sauce thickens slightly and is bubbling. Serve sprinkled with green onion and sesame seeds.