Mini quiches with proscuitto cups I made for a holiday party this year. I got the idea from this recipe on Epicurious, but improv'd the quiche filling itself because I was in a rush. Chive and asiago, anyone?
Look, the weather stinks, it's been nothing but cold, windy and wet the past week, and I want to do nothing but curl up in a blanket by the fireplace and drink soup. Done and done, minus the fireplace. Mad Men episodes will suffice, also here's a great cream of mushroom soup recipe.
I spent several weeks in Toronto (and Montreal, briefly) in September and am now just going through my photos and food memories.
One of the few great dining experiences I had was at Le Paradis. The simple appetizer of grilled sardines and tomatos was amazing! I was also impressed with the modestly priced menu. At Nota Bene, the rabbit and papardelle was perfect. Pho Hung in the heart of Chinatown served their noodles in a refreshingly light broth. At Trattoria Nervosa, I had the braised veal meatballs with osso bucco which was a carnivore's delight.
The most memorable meal was a late lunch I had across the street from the AGO. I was between film showings and wanted some real food. Swayed simply by the Illy sign outside, I popped into a small gallery/cafe, passing through the long gallery to the creperie in the back. To my delight, they had a hidden garden space with a few small tables between the narrow buildings. There was also a cooler full of handmade truffles. Very tempting, but it was impossible to choose between the dozen or so flavors. I ended up having just the smoked salmon crepe with goat cheese, resolving to have their truffles someday.
I spent most mornings at B Espresso inside the Royal Conservatory of Music. A flaky croissant and an impeccablely made latte. The sun-filled atrium was one of the few places I found in Toronto that was still and quiet. Though the city doesn't have the same coffee culture as the west coast, Dark Horse on Spadina Ave (thanks to Will for taking me there) brewed 49th Parallel beans. Tasty, tasty americanos and a disconcertingly Seattle-like atmosphere.
One thing I was envious of is the proliferation of pubs in Toronto. Vancouver is inundated with restaurant/bar chains that look like nightclubs/sportsbars. Toronto pubs have the most colorful names...The Spotted Dick, The Village Idiot, The Overdraught Irishman. I'm tempted to turn my next visit there into a city-wide pub crawl!
Last night's impromptu salad (I am clearing out the fridge) yielded this lovely creation. Your favorite salad mix + valencia orange segments + avocado + figs = jewelled salad. A light, fruity vinaigrette made with the juice of your orange, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Summer grilled beans! Few things are more simple and snack-worthy than long, crispy green beans grilled with olive oil and tossed with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt. While they're grilling, mix 1 part sriracha with 4 parts mayo for a spicy dipping sauce. YES.
Here's a crappy picture of a completely uncrappy Cobb salad I made with the scraps of proscuitto and blue goat cheese from the BC Day long weekend. I was so famished, I hastily took the pic before I devoured this.
Forgot to talk about how refreshing Zaru Soba is in the summer heat, served cold. These are the green tea buckwheat noodles. Easy peasy.
That's it. The last remains of the wonderful long weekend. The final slice of the proscuitto and ricotta pizza with red onions. Tub ricotta, italian proscuitto and pizza dough from Duco's on Granville Island. I accidentally threw in a too generous portion of red pepper flakes to the onions which imparted a nice heat to the thin crust pizza. Served with a walnut and blue goat cheese salad, a glass of pinot noir, and a soft summer breeze.
It's been a delicious summer so far and now that Vancouver's fully engulfed in a heatwave, it's all about the dips! Pita chips (baked in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and paprika) and tzatziki. All about home made iced tea and cold sandwiches by the water. A 2 foot long herbed salmon on the BBQ. Sushi and air conditioning. Fig and roasted almond gelato. And lots and lots of mouthwateringly sweet local berries.
I got sidetracked just when I began my Arugula week. Instead, here's an impromptu spring salad with lightly blanched asparagus, green bean and defrosted frozen peas. Toss with baby spinach, thin slices of cucumber (I used Japanese mini cukes), chopped dill, a few glugs of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. And some generous splashes of lemon juice.
I think this week will arugula week, all because I bought a box of baby arugula and I'm trying to use it all up. Dinner tonight was a simple spaghetti with pesto, garlic and wilted arugula. Some butter while sauteing the garlic, and some parmesan to top it all off in the end. I also tend to use a pinch of nutmeg in non-tomato-based sauces, which I did here.
Doesn't sound very glamorous, but "tub salad" is what I'm calling this excellent lunch I made the other day. I based the recipe on the Smoked Salmon with Egg Salad and Green Beans recipe from Gourmet magazine, substituting thin, steamed asparagus for the green beans. Using three free range extra large eggs, dill and extra mustard, I made egg salad which topped off this four layer salad. Packed nicely in a 3-cup Gladware container, it was a compact and immensely satisfying patio lunch on a sunny afternoon.
Quick catch up after spending weeks in a culinary wasteland...I made a proscuitto, mushroom and chives tart using organic frozen puff pastry.
Feeling deprived of fresh greens, I also had an enormous craving for caesar salad.
And a quick snack..."japanese" meatballs.
Basically pan-fried Ikea frozen meatballs (not bad for frozen meat) with ottogi (pork cutlet sauce), Kewpie mayo, toasted sesame seeds and dried nori strips.
The weather's suddenly beautiful, spring is arriving, and hopefully I'll be hitting some markets soon. It's good to be back.
So Sunday night during the Oscars, I had this hot artichoke dip simply because I needed a reason to finish up those baby artichokes from last week. And like all my recipes, I just eyeball everything and adjust according to taste and ingredients on hand (and sudden whims).
Prep and steam (or grill, or sautee) the artichokes until cooked, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, roughly 1 cup of light cream cheese gets mixed with a tablespoon of mayo, handfuls of grated parmesan and romano cheese, some finely chopped green onion, a big dab of dijon mustard, a dash of Worchestershire sauce, grated garlic, salt, pepper and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Chop up the artichoke and add it to the mix. Spoon the mixture into a ramekin (did I mention the oven should be at 400F?), top off with powdered parmesan cheese (for texture, and also because I keep it around for making cheesy croutons) and bake until brown and bubbly! Sometimes I add some bell pepper to this and if you have crabmeat around, this could easily become a great Crab & Artichoke Dip. In any case, you need to serve with homemade pita chips or Guiltless Gourmet tortilla chips, because those tasty mofos are the crispiest beeyotches you have ever had. Trust me.
Maybe it was because I was feeling a little under the weather today, maybe it was the rain finally reappearing after weeks of sun....but when I finally tossed everything together for this salad, I nearly fainted from the deliciousness. Using a roast chicken from Safeway cut back on a big chunk of time, so dinner was done in under half an hour. The salad can be served hot or cold, which makes it a good lunch for work the next day.
Asparagus and Almond Salad with Chicken from Breakfast Lunch Tea - The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery
- 18 asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1 handful of whole almonds, skinned
- 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- extra virgin olive oil, for frying chicken
- salt and ground black pepper
- arugula, for garnish
For the dressing
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 4 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 2 large handfuls chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Place asparagus in simmering water and cook for about 5 minutes until the spears are just cooked. Drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, place almonds in a roasting pan with a little olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes--until they're golden. Set aside to cool. Fry or grill the chicken breasts until they are cooked through. Season with salt & pepper.
Cut the asparagus into 3 - 4 cm pieces. Slice the chicken breasts diagonally into four or five pieces (I just hand shredded them). I also decided to chop up the almonds as well. Make the dressing by combining the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, adding oil at the end. Carefully fold in the chicken, asparagus and almonds into the dressing and garnish with arugula.
From the lunch section of Breakfast Lunch Tea - The Many Meals of Rose Bakery, I made the recipe for Braised Artichoke, Lemon and Lamb Chops recipe for dinner. I used baby artichokes and New Zealand shoulder lamb chops that were on sale, and served it all on a bed of brown and wild rice.
Braised Artichoke, Lemon and Lamb Chops from Breakfast Lunch Tea
- juice of 2 lemons (for prepping artichokes)
- 12-14 medium globe artichokes
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (plus more for frying lamb)
- 3 onions diced
- 1 celery heart finely sliced (I omitted this)
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- grated zest of a lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 cups veg or chicken stock
- 1 tsp sugar (I omitted this)
- 1 tsp of thyme (my addition for the lamb)
Prep artichokes (fill a bowl with water and lemon juice, cut off artichoke stalks and remove tips and outer leaves, slice in half and discard chokes if there are any, then place artichokes in the bowl).
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onions until softened. Add carrots, seasoning and lemon zest. Cook for about 15 minutes. Then add garlic and artichoke hearts, and pour in the stock to cover everything. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. Taste and see if sugar needs to be added.
Season the lamb chops (salt, pepper and thyme) and fry them in oil or grilled until they are cooked through, but still slightly pink inside--about 5 minutes each side.
Serve with artichokes on the side.
Fish is really the protein I forget to eat. It's not that I don't enjoy it--it's just that when I think of meat, I think of the rich hearty texture of beef, the tasty fat from pork, and let's face it, the ease of cooking chicken. Time to change my ways. I've had the Chopped Lemon Bagna Cauda recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook in the back of my mind for a long time, so I tried their suggestion of serving it with fish.
In the bagna cauda, I substituted anchovy paste for anchovy fillets. For the main, I grilled a fillet of snapper in a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel seeds. I also toasted some crostini as per the book's direction, and topped it with roasted tomatos, garlic and onion. Spoonfuls of the bagna cauda all over everything. Success! The bright lemoniness went well with the licorice taste of fennel, and the tomatos were sweet like the fish. I still had some of the sauce left over after the meal, which prompted me to quickly blanch some spindly asparagus, which I then used to eat up the rest of the bagna cauda.
Grapefruit from California + blackberries from Mexico + Fraser Valley Wildflower Honey from The Honeybee Centre in Surrey. I couldn't resist when I saw blackberries for sale. It was like heaven in a bowl.
Inspired by this post for an easy fish meal, I made a simple snapper meal last night. Using:
- chunks of fresh snapper
- about 2 cups grape tomatos, halved
- 2 large shallots
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- a giant handful of pre-washed baby spinach
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tbsps of tomato paste
- olive oil
- dash of dried oregano
- salt, pepper
Heat the olive oil in a skillet on med-high heat, then crush the cloves of garlic and throw them in. As it gets fragrant, thinly slice the shallots and throw them in, stirring until they get translucent. After that, the tomatos and then let the mix sautee slowly until the tomatos get really broken down and mushy. Add tomato paste, salt, freshly cracked pepper, oregano and keep stirring and add a more oil if needed. After about 10 more minutes, add the white wine (this is always my favorite part because I just love the splashy, bubbling sound it makes). While it's reducing, quickly blanch the spinach in a small pot of lightly salted water. Drain and remove the spinach as soon as the leaves get bright green. Set aside. Return to the skillet and throw in the snapper, turning the pieces around every so often to make sure it cooks evenly. It shouldn't take more than another 5 minutes, because you don't want dry, overcooked fish. Scoop the mixture onto a bed spinach and serve.
This would be great using a whole fish, and another good variation on the recipe would be to use lots of fennel instead of oregano.
Ok, I'm not into football at all, but Super Sunday gave me enough of an excuse to make chicken wings for breakfast. Yes, that's chicken wings. For breakfast. Donald's Market usually carries non-medicated and/or free range chicken and from time to time, even chicken wings. For less than 3 dollars, I picked up a pack of fairly sized half dozen wings--drummettes and tip attached. I discarded the tips and separated the chicken into drummettes and wings. To keep things somewhat "light", I opted not to do buffalo wings (because one has to draw a line somewhere when indulging in a bowlful of wings for breakfast). My standby breaded chicken wing recipe is a simple mix of breadcrumbs, panko, salt & pepper, paprika and chipotle seasoning. No egg mix for dredging, the chicken pieces have no trouble getting coated on their own. 395 degrees on a greased baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes makes perfectly browned and crispy wings. Burp.
I made a big bowl of this for lunch today, and I think a smaller portion of this would also be really nice with a bowl of fish chowder. Using a mix of frissee, arugula and curly lettuce, I added strips of proscuitto and a light mustard-y vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil + teaspoon of dijon mustard + dash of sherry vinegar + 1 squeeze of lemon juice + sprinkle of sugar and sea salt). Tossed with some parmesan & herb croutons (a stale whole wheat baguette cut into cubes, tossed with olive oil, powdered parmesan cheese and oregano, then baked). Top off with a poached egg and lots of pepper.
Ahhh, weekends. I made salmon eggs benedict, a popular spin on the classic eggs benny here in the Pacific Northwest. First off, I've never liked the overly spongy texture of English muffins, so I decided to use a potato base. I finely shredded a small Yukon gold with with my Benriner (a gift from my sister when she went to New York). After squeezing out the excess moisture from the potatoes, I lightly salted it and fried small cakes of in a shallow pan with grapeseed oil, a little like making potato latkes.
I alternated two potato cakes with slices of smoked salmon in between. Top with a perfectly poached egg, dill, and Hollandaise sauce. I tested out two different Hollandaise recipes (one with cream, the other without) over the weekend, and I'm still not completely satisfied. I think next weekend's project will be finding the perfect one!
Speaking of sandwiches, one of my favorite comfort lunches a classic grilled cheese sandwich with a good tomato soup that's not too creamy, not too runny, and not too spicy. With some tweaks and the addition of a simple salad, I turned it into Tuesday night's dinner. First, I used the adapted tomato soup recipe from Lottie and Doof, cutting back on the cream and adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika along with a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. During roasting, I also threw in a bunch of on-the-vine cherry tomatoes that were way overripe--better to use it in a soup than to toss it in the garbage can tomorrow. A generous bowl of the soup served with a dollop of sour cream and snipped chives.
As for the grilled cheese, a couple of slices of cheese bread (from Mediterranean Bakery) rubbed with a clove of garlic over both sides after toasting, are topped off with slices of emmental and grated romano (although gruyere would've been better). Pop them into a toaster oven until the cheese bubbles over and starts crusting. Of course, the bread gets dunked into the soup--is there any other way to eat it?
With a side of a plain arugula salad dressed with a basic vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and in this case, some honey too) and it was a very satisfying weeknight meal.
I had a few olives left from making harissa spaghetti (see previous post) that I quickly needed to get rid of. This idea from The Kitchn came together in a delicious, cheesy way. As the comments suggested, I chopped up my half dozen olives with roughly a tablespoon of mayo (I imagine an olive tapenade would work even better). I put the spread on some purplish walnut bread with a thick slice of gruyere and some baby arugula, and grilled it. Mmm.
One of the first meals I made this year was Heidi's Harissa Spaghettini recipe at 101 Cookbooks. This recipe is perfect for using your whole wheat pasta (I used a #5 whole wheat spaghetti here), because the denser texture holds up well with the pine nuts and olives, and the darker color doesn't interfere with the color of your sauce. Very satisfying, but this was one spicy dish--the brand of harissa I used had a lot of kick. It's great especially if you've got a cold and are in need of a hearty meal on a cold, rainy night.