The Birth of Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy

 Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy came to be out of two separate events in my life. My youngest son loved to cook with me. At an early age he declared he wanted to open a restaurant when he was older, called "Tyler's Yummy in Your Tummy" He never did open that restaurant but I loved the name and decided to use it for my Blog on Cooking and Recipes.



 "Ollie" replaced the name "Tyler" in the title simply because that same son suggested the nickname Ollie when my first grandchild was born. My middle name is Olive after my Grandmother, and I became Grandma Ollie to my grandchildren. And thus Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy was born!



 This blog will be a collection of recipes - family, my own, and any others I can find in my collection. I've been cooking for almost 50 years - having started as a pre-teen. In Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy I'll share my favourite recipes, tips and techniques with you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ollie's 3-Cheese Mac & Cheese

I love Macaroni & Cheese. There's nothing more satisfying or comforting than a big scoop of bubbling Mac & Cheese when you are sick or cold or just feeling yukky!

Cook 4 cups elbow macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water. When the water starts to boil, put the uncooked pasta in, bring back to boil, reduce heat to rolling boil and cook for 8 more minutes. Test the cooked pasta to be sure it is the consistency you want! Drain the pasta and dump into a 9x12 inch lasagne pan. You can use other pastas, just make sure they will let the cheese sauce cling.

Make the cheese sauce. Put 1/3 cup of margarine into a large deep pan and melt over meduium heat. When bubbling, add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour which you have pre-mixed with 1 tsp dry hot mustard, 1 tsp fine herbes and salt and pepper to taste. I use Keene's Mustard, you can use whatever you like. You can add 2 tsp dry mustard if you like a little more bite in your Mac & Cheese.

Mix the flour-mustard into the hot margarine and continue to cook on medium heat until it all clumps together into little segments of margarine-flour bits. This is called a roux and is what makes your cheese sauce thicken.

Now slowly start adding 2% milk, stirring like crazy the whole time. Just add 1/3 cup to start and keep stirring until it is completely mixed with the flour-margarine clumps. Add another 1/3 cup of milk. Keep adding milk and stirring until you have a nice smooth sauce starting to take shape. You will need to add about 3 cups of milk total.

You must keep stirring so the sauce stays smooth and no lumps form. Now add cheeses and stil until cheese melts into the white sauce. I use Colby, Cheddar and Monterey Jack, about 5 cups total. Either grate the cheeses or do what I do and buy the bags of pre-grated! I use about 2 cups Cheddar, 1 1/2 cups Colby and 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta in your baking dish and mix it all up.

Now make large croutons for the top. There are many methods of making the crouton layer. I like to use white sub rolls and cut them into large 1 inch squares. Using a small fry pan, melt 1/3 cup margarine over medium heat and add 1 tsp fine herbes. Reduce heat and toss the bread cubes into the margarine. Turn and coat all sides, and continue cooking briefly until the croutons start to crisp a bit. Then pour croutons on top of cheese-past mixture in baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350' and cook, uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the croutons are just starting to brown.

Serve with a salad and ketchup. Yes, ketchup. Macaroni and cheese is always eaten with ketchup. If you don't like that idea, have it without but you don't know what you're missing.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Setting a Spring or Easter Theme Table

The photos here show more of a Spring Theme Table Setting rather than Easter, but you could easily nudge it into Easter with a few minor changes. The eggs in the centrepiece I've chosen to use, already say "Easter", so just switch out a few of the more formal Spring pieces such as the salt and pepper shakers in the next photo, for Easter.

This centrepiece is one of two I have for Spring Tables. I find my table setting accessories in junk stores, flea markets and antique stores, but I don't pay much for them! This object caught my eye because of its colours. I knew I could fill it with coloured eggs or flowers or anything I wanted, and create a pretty centrepiece. My second centrepiece for Spring is on the right

The ornate salt and pepper shakers and Victorian covered butter dish go well with a more formal Spring Table - for example, a nice luncheon with your lady friends.

Remember to stick with one theme and one colour scheme. I am using pink and green with a Spring theme, and I've decided to go slightly formal. If I went pink and green with Spring but casual, my table setting accessories would have to reflect that. So I could get rid of the formal butter dish and replace it with a nice little solid green depression glass open dish with butter in it.

On this table I have fancy teacups (again in pink and green) for my rather formal luncheon but if it were more casual I would change them. I'll show photos of a more casual Spring/Easter table in another post. I also have old mismatched china in a variety of designs, but all carrying the pink and green colour theme. Because this is a more formal table setting, I've also added the Victorian candle snuffer (it looks like a pair of scissors and is in front of the centrepiece).

You can also see the two different napkin holders I am using - the rabbit is for children and the Victorian figural bird theme one for adults. I could use the rabbit holders for everyone, adults and children alike.

Because I'm using a lot of different patterns and shades of pink and green, I would calm everything down slightly by using some solid colours - such as solid green glass depression glass serving dishes. I like to use my green depression glass mixing bowls that I showed in my Trifle Recipe on this blog. I'd also use solid green candles in a formal candleholder (still sticking with the formal idea)

I should add that the napkin pictured here is one of the many vintage and antique white linen napkins I buy. They don't have to match or be the same size, how easy is that!

Likewise, the water jug is one of four I have which are clear Depression Glass Water pitchers. I like my water jugs to match so over the years I've managed to find four with the same pattern. I only buy ones with small imperfections so that I am not paying huge dollars for them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ollie's Herbed Croutons

I don't like store-bought croutons. For the most part they are hard little chunks of toasted bread. I like my croutons crisp (not hard) on the outside with a semi-soft center. I like them large. Having hunted for years to find just the right croutons to suit me, I gave up and started making my own. These last for a month or more when stored in an air-tight container.

Ollie's Herbed Croutons
Use one loaf of thick white bread - you can use sourdough or any other kind you like but I use white. You can use ordinary bread or specialty breads such as a French loaf. It's your choice!

In a small measuring cup or custard dish, put 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste (I often omit the salt and pepper as the salad I'm going to use the croutons on is salty enough), 2 tsp. fine herbes.

Preheat oven to 350'

Put the bread slices on a large cutting board and with a pastry brush, brush the olive oil mixture on one side. Then using a serated knife, cut the oiled bread slices into chunks - whatever size you prefer. (If you have trouble cutting the bread once it's oiled, just leave the slices whole until they are baked, then cut them) Put the oiled bread cubes on a non-greased cookie sheet (oiled side up) and bake in the over for 10-20 minutes.

I like my croutons lightly browned, not too dark so I have to watch carefully and remove them at just the right moment.

Let the croutons cool completely before storing them or they will go soggy. These are wonderful served on caesar salad!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fussy but Yummy Pastitsio

Warning! This recipe is very fussy and takes a long time to prepare. Don't start it if you aren't willing to go the distance, because you can't take shortcuts. Pastitisio is a Greek dish, a casserole with layers of pasta covered in creamy sauce and a meat sauce layer. The traditional Pastitsio calls for ground beef but I make mine with ground turkey or chicken.

Pastitsio

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use Canola)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey or chicken

  • 2 tsp of fresh oregano and basil. If you haven't got fresh, use 1 tsp each of dried

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 each salt, pepper, white sugar

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme. If you haven't got fresh, use 1/2 tsp dried

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

  • 1 can (19 oz) tomatoes, well mashed

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

The above ingredients are for the meat sauce you will be making. Here's the pasta sauce ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups large bow tie shells. You can use a different pasta if you prefer but be sure it is a pasta that will hold the creamy sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter (I use margarine)

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 3 1/2 cups milk. I use skim, you will get a richer flavour if you use 2%

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • bit of pepper

  • 2 eggs. I use our own farm fresh eggs. If you don't have a chicken or two wandering around in your yard and you need help figuring out which eggs to buy in the grocery store, see my post Getting it Eggsactly Right!

  • 1 cup creamed Cottage Cheese

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella Cheese

  • 1/4 grated Goat's Milk Parmesan Cheese. I use Goat's Milk Parmesan for a delicous flavour but you can use any kind you like

Method:

  • In Dutch oven heat oil over meidum heat. Saute the onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Don't let them brown! They only need to be soft. Add the ground turkey and cook for about 3 minutes or until no more pink shows. Stir in the oregano, basil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, sugar and thyme. Cook for 3 more minutes

  • Add wine, tomato paste, and mashed tomatoes. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered. Add the parsley and set aside

Pasta Sauce:

  1. In large pot of boiling lightly salted water cook the pasta about 8 minutes, just until tender but still firm. Drain. Transfer to large bolw and toss with 1 tbsp of the butter or margarine. Set aside

  2. In heavy saucepan melt the rest of the butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Do not brown. Gradually stir in the milk and cook for 3 minutes until thickened. Stir in salt, nutmeg and pepper

  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream sauce and return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes stirring. Take from heat and add cottage cheese and mozzarella. Stir this into the pasta.

  4. Now spread 1/2 of the pasta mixture into a 13x9 glass baking dish. Spread meat filling over the top. Spread the rest of the pasta mixture over the meat. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 375' for 1 hour. Top needs to be lightly browned. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I serve this with a nice Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread with Goat's Milk Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting it Eggsactly Right


Photo of Barnyard co-operation. These are a few of our laying hens (chickens), guinea fowl and rabbits, all of which roam freely on our hobby farm.

We have laying hens. Our eggs are always fresh and our chickens are free range, meaning they roam the property eating bugs, seeds, worms and everything that chickens are meant to eat. This affects the taste and colour of the eggs - they are stronger flavoured than store-bought and have darker, almost orange yolks.

If you haven't got laying hens in the backyard, buy whatever eggs you want. It's a myth that brown eggs are better than white. They are brown because the hen laying them had brown feathers, no other reason. White eggs are from a hen with white feathers. The colour of the eggs does not affect the flavour nor does it mean that one is healthier or better than the other.

Free-range eggs from a grocery store don't mean much flavour-wise but it does mean the chickens have not been kept in little boxes barely able to move. So if you're in favour of being kind to chickens, buy free-range.

Only a local farmer will have true free-range eggs because that means the chickens (like ours) range free and eat whatever they find outside.

Organic eggs may be better for you but flavour-wise there is no difference.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Setting the Table: Napkin Rings

For me, cooking and eating a good meal is only part of the overall experience. I like to set a pretty table too. You probably have your own creative ways and lots of pretty things to put on the table but I thought I"d share mine, starting with napkin rings.

I should explain first that I like to use mismatched old china and mismatched Victorian Silver-Plated Napkin Rings. And antique water goblets. And various mismatched antique and vintage dishes. Sounds a little weird? I think you might like it if you try. You have to remember that you need a theme and/or a colour scheme to tie everything together.

I buy antique and vintage white linen napkins and Victorian Napkin Rings (either figural or plain) to add a little bit of formality to my table settings. The napkins don't have to match but you do have to pick one colour and stick to it. I chose white as I like to have patterns and other colours in the dishes and the centerpiece. You don't want to go too wild with a riot of colour and pattern!

We'll talk more about themes and colour schemes later but since I have some photos of my assorted napkin rings ready, I'm going to start with that. On the left you can see my plain Victorian napkin rings which I display in a Victorian Bride's Basket which is missing it's glass bowl, until I need them.

The fun part is that at Christmas I let my grandchildren choose which napkin ring they want to use. They love that and even though I have special children's pewter napkin rings in various animal and Christmas shapes, they often choose one of the silver-plated figurals.

I use both Figural and plain napkin rings. The plain ones are much cheaper and you can often find those at flea markets and antique stores for a very reasonable price. Take them home and clean them up a bit and you have a very unique conversation piece!

The figurals are stunning and they always spark a lively conversation at the dinner table. Figurals are quite sought after by collectors so they can fetch a high price. You need to have a sharp eye and be on the lookout for a bargain at flea markets, junk stores and antique stores. Avoid E-Bay as they go for far too much there!

There are many kinds of napkin rings and the photos I've put here are just a few of the ones I have on hand for creating a unique table setting. Once you place a beautiful crisp clean white linen napkin in one of these and put it on the table, it looks gorgeous. I'll add some photos of a table once it's set in another post.