Another busy weekend to bookend another crazy week.  It’s a good thing that time is also spent with great people and there is always something good to eat while we gab.

Yesterday was all about getting the basement ready to paint so that we can get my father-in-law’s temporary space ready.  He’ll be in this space until the reno is done in the early summer.  He has been a terrific sport about being in our den/guestroom but really needs his own area of the house.  We should be able to get some paint on the walls today and by the time he returns from down south, the room should be fully decorated.  I can hardly wait to see the finished space.  You see, our basement (in our old house) when we moved in was so scary that I didn’t even want to step foot in it.  To see it transformed into something usable and attractive didn’t see like a possibility but it is turning into a really beautiful space.

The slowcooker was brought out yesterday to babysit dinner while the guys worked on the project, the baby played and I made the cookies for our cookie exchange.  The cookies are really good and tripled very well.  If you are going to make Espresso Bean Shortbread you totally want to make sure you make them a few days ahead to allow the coffee flavour to permeate. 

We had just been given some venison (not a fav of mine but a really kind gesture and Stephen loves it) so I made venison stew.  I followed the same method that I normally do for stew but marinated the venison in wine, juniper berries and garlic for 24 hours before browning the pieces.  I also added a good dose of pancetta to the browning process as venison is so lean.

For a special treat I also called upon my inner Nigella and made a chocolate and chestnut terrine from her “Domestic Goddess” book.  This could not be simpler.  In a food processor combine a tin of pureed chestnuts (500 grams) and 175 grams of butter and 1 T. of sugar.  Whiz until smooth.  Add in 300 grams of melted dark chocolate and 3 T. of dark rum.  Fold into a loaf pan that has been lined with cling film and let set in the fridge until firm.

I was inspired to make this after eating again at the most excellent, Wellington Gastropub on Saturday night.  FABULOUS food and casual but attentive service.  I even get to go again tonight to celebrate the lovely Michelle’s birthday!

I have photos ready to go (not as awful as usual) but I will have to wait until later to upload as I walked out the door without the necessary cord today-or my phone.

Our week will be rounded out with;

1)  Rolled Apple Turkey Breast

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

Cooking Time: About 1 1/2 Hours
Servings: 8
5 lb (2.5 kg) boneless turkey breast, skinned
Pinch each of salt and pepper
3/4 cup (175 mL) apple juice or apple cider
2 tbsp (25 mL) dry white wine
1 tbsp (15 mL) curry powder
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
2 Ontario McIntosh Apples, peeled and diced
2 slices whole wheat bread, crumbled
1/2 tsp (2 mL) poultry seasoning

1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger

Spinach leaves
Unpeeled Ontario McIntosh Apple slices
Trim fat from turkey and discard. Flatten with meat mallet to an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Combine apple juice, wine and curry powder. Reserve 1/2 cup (125 mL) to use for making sauce.
    In skillet, sauté onion and celery in butter 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in 1/4 cup (50 mL) apple juice mixture, apple, breadcrumbs and poultry seasoning. Spread down centre of turkey breast to within 2 inch (5 cm) of sides. Roll up, jellyroll fashion, starting with short side. Tie at 2 inch (5 cm) intervals with heavy string. Place seam side down on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with 2 tbsp (25 mL) apple juice mixture. Roast, basting occasionally, in 325°F (160°C) oven 1 1/2 hr or until meat thermometer registers 185°F (85°C).
    Sauce: In saucepan, combine reserved apple juice mixture, chicken broth, cornstarch and ginger; bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Line platter with spinach. Place turkey on spinach; remove string. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with apple slices. Serve sauce over turkey slices.

And Finally…
2)  Polish Shish Kebob
I grew-up in a big factory town and as a result we were lucky enough to have a lot of Polish and Ukrainian neighbours who had come to the the town directly after World War II to build cars.  This meant we had a lot of great Eastern European food at gatherings or if you played your cards right-you were invited to dinner often.  This dish is one that our next door neighbour made all the time.  She also taught my mom to make them.  She somehow still managed to reduce them to being really dry by cooking them forever but it was MUCH better eating than her watery, stew or the porkchops that were in the oven for 2 hours or so.

This recipe is more of a method than a recipe.  Take a pork shoulder roast and cut it into 2 inch cubes (roughly-don’t go all Martha Stewart and measure this).  Salt and pepper the cubes then thread them onto thick, short skewers.  Have a breading station set-up with; flour (seasoned), egg wash and bread crumbs.  Have a pan ready to brown the skewers once they are breaded and place in a roast pan.  Cook until meat is no longer pink in a moderate oven covered.  Serve with LOTS of mustard.  Yummmm….  these are great frozen (I make a humungous batch) and pulled-out when you are starving but have lost the will to cook.