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Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

The Nine Course Affair

Speaking of birthdays…….

From time to time, the Chef and I like to put on “special dinners”.  Usually consisting of  a several coarse tasting menu.  He does most of the cooking, while I do the arranging, the shopping, the decor and the clean up.  And if I’m lucky, sometimes I actually am allowed to make a dish or two myself!

 

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First Course:

Seared Tuna, Avocado and Red Pepper Sushi

I have to admit, the Chef does a nice sushi, which is good because I only ever eat sushi at home, what with the shell-fish allergy, eating it in restaurants is just too high risk.

 

Sushi

 

Second Course:

Belgian Endive and Mini Kale Pancakes topped with Smoked Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts

This was a tasty one.

They don’t show up that well in this picture, but I made mini versions of my famous Kale Pancakes.  Then to add some freshness to it all, they were alternated with leaves of Belgium endive.  Then both were topped with a small slice of smoked Gorgonzola cheese and a chunk of candied walnut.

We often enjoy this as an anytime snack.

 

endive & kale pancake

 

 

Third Course:

Beet Carpaccio Salad with Arugula, Blood Orange and Shaved Boursin Cheese

I really like beets, so I always encourage the Chef to somehow incorporate them into our special dinners.

So on this occasion, he thinly sliced both red and golden cooked beets.  Then topped them with super thing slices of Boursin Cheese, ( I’ll tell you another time about how he does that, because if you have ever dealt with Boursin, you know that slicing it in any way isn’t easy!) slices of blood orange, arugula and then drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Very refreshing.

Beet Salad

 

 

Course Number Four:

Halibut  “Fish and Chips”

This was a whimsical item.  The “fish and chips” refers to the halibut being roasted with grated yam on top and then drizzled in a balsamic dressing.   The yams form and nice crust (chips) and keep the halibut moist (fish) and then vinegar on top.

Halibut

 

 

Course Number Five:

Spinach and Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken Breast with roasted Celeriac Puree and marinated Red Cabbage

I hate to be judgemental, but I think this one was my favorite dish of the night.  The chicken was moist and flavourful, the celeriac both sweet and earthy at the same time and the crunch sourness of the cabbage just all really worked well together.  Oh and I didn’t even mention the delicious grainy mustard sauce in the title ( made it too long to look good on the page)!

 

Stuffed chicken

 

Course number six:

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

I actually got to make this course myself.  It is a favorite of mine to make and to eat and it often shows up on our special dinner menus.  But I can’t take the credit for it.

It is blatantly stolen from the menu at celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello’s Napa Valley restaurant, Bottega.

We tasted it there awhile back and I was determined to recreate it.  But luckily for me, they were generous enough to just post the recipe on-line!

So please do try it out for yourself.  It is surprisingly wonderful.

Brussel sprout salad

 

Course number seven:

Mediterranean Lamb & Bell Pepper Kebobs with Cous Cous and Kaffir Lime Leaf Scented Demi-Glace

It is a little joke we have with the birthday guest.  Inevitably whenever we go to her place for dinner, she serves lamb!  So it only seemed fitting that there should be a little lamb on her birthday party menu. The startlingly delicious item in this dish was the Kaffir lime leaves.

They don’t really show in the picture but they were in the sauce.  At this point in the evening ( course seven) sticking one’s fingers in the food and pulling out the lime leaves and sucking on them was clearly NOT frowned upon.  What a delightful taste, the tart lime flavour mixed with the luscious demi glaze.

 

Lamb

 

Course number eight:

Cheese & Apple

It seems we were just too delirious by this point to actually remember to take a picture.

We had retired to the lounge for a little reprieve before moving on to desert but just wanted to add this extra little treat to the mix.

Norwegian Ski Queen cheese, is just a delightful thing to try.  Although it is a cheese, it would remind you more of a really rich version of those caramel square candies that we used to get a Halloween. Perhaps those crossed with butter or some other unbearably delicious creamy substance.  You really do need to try it.  We find it in the speciality cheese section of most major grocery stores.

So our eighth course was slices of Ski Queen matched with slices of Ambrosia Apples lightly dusted with fresh cracked black pepper.

Really nice.

( No Photo Available )

 

 

Course number nine:

Raw Chocolate Tart topped with Pomegranate accompanied with fresh chunks Pineapple and Chocolate dipped Candied Ginger.

I also got to make this one!

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I like to startle people from time to time with my “raw” dishes.  So after a somewhat decadent night so far, I thought why not toss in something a little healthy to end the evening and leave us feeling good about ourselves!?

 

Cake

 

It was a very successful evening.  Good times all round.

Stay tuned for when the next one happens.  Who knows, YOU might even get invited!

 

Thumbs up

Different Salads

I suppose a staple of the Vegan diet is salads.

All shapes, sizes and colours.

To be honest, you can pretty much chop up anything, put on a little dressing and call it a “salad” these days!  And why not?

One of my favorite meals, Vegan or not, is what I call my “Mediterranean plates” where I just make a bunch of flavorful piles of stuff that go nicely together.

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Here’s tonight’s group:

First I got started with a nice batch of roasted yams and roasted cauliflower.

Get them started.

Vegan II013

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Then I went to a white bean and kale with lemon salad:

In a glass or ceramic bowl add:

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon ( but zest it first and put aside)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 large handful of chopped green kale ( hard stems out)

Mix the kale down into the lemon juice and cover well and let sit in the acid until it gets a little wilted.

Then drain and rinse a can of white kidney beans and add to the bowl.

Then add:

  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh chopped sage
  • a splash of olive oil
  • a pinch more salt and some fresh cracked pepper.

Mix thoroughly, top with the lemon zest and set aside to rest while you perform your other duties.

Vegan II016

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Next we have a nice Cous Cous salad.

Again, in a glass or ceramic bowl ( but preferably with a seal-able lid) start with your dressing on the bottom.   I just used more lemon juice, a little olive oil and some fresh herbs.

Then to the bowl I added some left over grilled vegetables, peppers, asparagus, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini.   If you don’t have any grilled veg and don’t feel like making any, raw ones would work just fine too but try and keep them of the more delicate nature, not hard things like raw carrots.

Toss these in the dressing.

Meanwhile and this is just something I do for added flavour, but by no means essential……

I like to dry toast the couscous in the bottom of a heavy pot or fry pan till they get just a little bit brownish.

Then toss the DRY couscous in with the vegs and dressing and toss them in well.

Vegan II018

Then pour boiling water over the whole thing ( amount according to couscous directions) and then seal the bowl with a lid or place a plate on top and let stand for about 10 minutes.

Vegan II020

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Then I whipped up a nice little Tahini sauce to pour over things:

  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • salt & pepper
  • water as needed

Stir this all up in a bowl adding water as needed to get to the consistency you are looking for.  Tahini tends to cease up when you mix it with other things, so you may have to keep adding water for a bit.

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So now with our yams and cauliflower roasted.

Vegan II022

Our couscous absorbed and fluffed.

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Our beans and kale marinated.

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We are ready to put it all together!

Maybe drop a few spinach leaves or mixed greens on the bottom to “green ” it up a little and then pile on the good stuff!   And drizzle with a bit of tahini sauce!

Yummy Vegan Salad night!!

Or anytime really!   In fact this combo cold the next day made a great work lunch!

Vegan II024

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Oh and …….note use of home-made bun now as toasted garlic bread!!!

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Shaved Salad

This one is just so beautiful that you might find it hard to eat regular salad after this!

Shaved salad

All you need is a decent mandolin slicer.

I have several of them and to be honest, most of them are crap,  or are good at one thing and not another. However, this particular semi professional kind, that I admit I bought at one of those fancy stores that I don’t usually buy stuff in, really does do the trick!   It cuts really really thin.  Which means it is really really sharp.  So BE CAREFUL!!

mandolin slicer

In this particular salad I shaved together:

  • radish
  • cucumber
  • fennel

I find it helps if you alternate the vegetables while you are slicing because they are so thin that is makes them hard to toss.

Once everything is sliced you can dress it ever so lightly.

All I used was a quick splash of plain old white vinegar and a spoonful of honey!   And a little salt and pepper and away you go!

But it would also be lovely with lemon juice instead.  Or better yet, finely shaved slices of well washed lemon! 

Now we’re talkin!!

Shaved salad

Arugula Salad as nature intended

Finally I have harvested something to eat from The Balcony Garden!

I wish you had “taste – O – vision” because this truly was just divine!

I gently trimmed the supple leaves from their base, gave them a quick wash just to remove any “bug spit” then on to the plate!

I whipped up the perfect little dressing that consisted of:

  • 1 clove of fresh garlic finely minced
  • the juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil x twice the juice
  • salt & pepper

Whisk that up and lovingly spoon and drizzle over the precious arugula.

Then add a few shavings of some good quality parmesan cheese.

Heavenly I tell you!  Just heavenly!

T

he young fresh arugulas are almost sweet, not even a hint of what can usually be a bit of a bitter  bite!  Say THAT three times quickly!

Mediterranean pasta salad

What with Bar B Q season upon us, we always need to come up with new things to make or bring.  Chances are that over the summer you essentially keep seeing the same ten people in different combinations and locations, so you need to keep straight what you brought to which party so you don’t become THAT person who ALWAYS brings the same thing every time!!

So here’s a dish you can add to your repertoire.

Start by boiling up a pot of the pasta of your choice.  But keep it in the short variety family, rotini, macaroni, fussili, rigatoni etc.

I happened to find something called “Scoobie Doos“!  They are a funky twisted, ribbed macaroni and seem to work perfectly for this kind of dish.

Now if you read my stuff regularly you know I am a great fan of “what ever you have” for most dishes, so I’m just letting you know what I used on this particular occasion, but please feel free to add, omit or substitute.

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes ( finely chopped)
  • 6 -10 kalamata olives ( pitted and chopped)
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel ( finely sliced)
  • zest of 1 lemon

Mix all of that up at the bottom of a large mixing bowl.

Then for the “dressing” chop up in a mini chopper or food processor:

  • 2 -3 ( or more depending on relationship with guests) cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 pieces of kale ( leafy bits only) – you KNOW how I love to hide kale in things!
  • juice of one lemon
  • fresh herbs if you have them, oregano, basil, parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Whiz this up to a nice paste, add a bit more olive oil if needed.

Add this to the bottom of the mixing bowl and mix well in with the other elements.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add immediately to the mixing bowl and toss.   The heat from the pasta with loosen up the other stuff and help it stick to the pasta.

Mix REALLY well because you don’t want globs of the “dressing” stuck at the bottom.

I like to make this at least a couple of hours ahead so all the flavours have time to get acquainted before serving.

Just before you are leaving for the party, or serving at your own place, transfer everything to a more decorative or service friendly dish.   And then top with:

  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • some more lemon zest
  • basil leaves
  • chopped fennel fronds ( green feathery stuff on top of fennel)
  • a grind or two of fresh pepper

And you are in business!

Fattoush Salad

                  When I lived in Montreal, one of my favorite things to eat was Lebanese food.  I have travelled far and wide ( well not to Lebanon but….) and have lived in many cities but have never tasted any Lebanese food as good as they seem to have there.   Not to say that other cities don’t have great Lebanese places too……it’s just that I’ve yet to find them.

                   So to round-up “Salad Week” I thought I would make a Lebanese “style” Fattoush Salad.  I say “style” cause this one isn’t the real deal, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice!

Fattoush Salad

                   A traditional Fattoush is made with the  spice, Sumac.   I neither had, nor care for Sumac so I did not include it in this recipe.  But feel free to try it out for yourself, or use it if you already know you enjoy it.

So we are going to start with some nice pita bread.   I had nice thick ones so I split them length wise to have more.   Brush them with olive oil ( and this is where you would sprinkle on some Sumac) and then I sprinkled smokie paprika just to give a little colour and then toasted them in the oven at 350 degrees till they are nice and toastie.   Remove and let cool.

oil and toast pita bread

So then for the salad in no particular order chop and add to a large bowl:

  • romaine lettuce
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • green onion
  • flat leaf Italian parsley
  • water cress ( except I didn’t have any so I didn’t use)

Toss those together well.

For the dressing:

  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 cup ( or what ever double the juice is) of olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp of Sumac ( if you are using)

Shake it all up and pour it all over the salad and then mix well.

Then take the toasted pita and crack up into random pieces and toss that into the salad.

Let it sit for a few minutes before serving so that the flavours can soak in to and soften up the pita just a little bit.

There we have it.  Serve up with some shish taouk or Shawarma.   Yum YUm.

Let me know if you have a great Lebanese restaurant in your town so I’ll be sure to check it out if I am ever round there!

Spicy Chicken Salad with roasted tomato dressing

I will admit that this one is a little more labour intensive as far as salads go, but definitely worth it!

Spicy Chicken Salad with roasted tomato dressing

It has a few components, lettuce, dressing, chicken and “Southwest Salad“.

So, start by cooking up some skinless, boneless chicken breast by the method of your choice.  Or even better, if you should have some leftover cold chicken just begging to be used!

Meanwhile, wash, trim and cut in half a couple of tomatoes.  Put them in a roasting dish skin side down, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put them in the oven at about 350 for about 1/2 hour or till they look like they would be mushy to the touch.

Roasted tomato

Then while all that is going on, whip up a quick batch of “Southwest Salad which we have made before on the episode calledSouthwest Supper“.

Southwest Salad

Then chop up and wash some nice romaine lettuce as your base.

Once the tomatoes have roasted, let them cool a bit so you can make the dressing.

In a blender or quick chopper of your choice ( even it that means your hand and a fork) chop up:

  • roasted tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of 1-2 limes ( depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • a few shots of Chipolte Tabasco
  • salt & pepper to taste

This dressing is very thick.  If you prefer it less thick,  just add a little water or chicken stock to thin it out.  But notice there is no oil in it, you are getting the fat completely from the avocado ( and that’s a GOOD fat!!)

Now you are ready to assemble.

Cover the bottom of the plate with a nice helping of chopped romaine lettuce.

Then a generous spoonful of  Southwest Salad to one side.

Some cooked chicken to the other side.

Then a good glop of dressing down the middle.

Sprinkle with a little paprika if you like and  there you have it!

Radish Salads

I’ve always been fascinated by radishes.

My father liked radishes.  When I was a kid I would help my mother by making my father’s lunch for work.  I pack up the regular sandwiches and cookie and whatever, but sometimes we would have radishes and so I’d give him some.

I’d cut off either end and then put them in a little Tupperwear of cold water and seal it up.  Then the next day he would eat them along with his sandwich.  Or so I would picture.

Sometimes I would even try making the little slits around them before soaking them in the water, in hopes that would magically turn into those radish roses.  Never really worked so good.

I just loved looking at them.  Such bright red with green stocks and then when you cut into them the fresh white flesh inside.  So crisp and refreshing looking.

But then I’d take a bite and gag on their spicy dirt flavour.   Sad.  Very sad.

I’ve tried them again many times over the years and can get away with them in a regular green salad that is doused in dressing.

In recent years I have tried Daikon radish.    (Click here to check them out )  I find them somewhat milder and therefore a little more agreeable.  They are however VERY good for you.  It fortifies the liver, helps clear the gallbladder of stones and detoxifies the digestive tract.  So basiclly……real good.

I really WANT to love them.  I do.

So I was pretty excited when I saw a recipe for “Radish Salsa”.   Sounded great, cause I love salsa in general and so this seemed a good idea.

Let’s see what you think.

Here’s what I used:

  • 12 radishes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • salt & pepper

Chop the radishes and cucumber into a fine dice, try to keep every piece the same size and try to keep some of the red from the radish and green from the cucumber on each piece to keep it looking nice.

Then mix with all the other ingredients and chill for at least 1/2 hour before using.

I didn’t try it as a traditional salsa on a tortilla chip but it DID make a very refreshing topping on a fish taco and then the next day I added the rest of it to a green salad.   Both worked nicely and were very acceptable ways of enjoying radish!

Radish Salsa

Let me know if you can think of other places you might use it.

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I saw another great little use of radish in a salad on the Whole Foods website.   I tried it on the weekend and it was really nice and fresh.

It was:

  • one bunch of radish
  • 2 -3 bulbs of fennel
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Really simple, trim and wash radishes and slice them really thin.  I actually just tossed them in the food processor with the slicer attachement.

Same with the fennel.  Wash it and cut off the “fingers”.  Cut in half and remove the knarley core and then either slice the bulb into really thin slices or whack it too into the food processor with the slicer blade or on a mandolin.  Whatever your slicer of choice.

Then I cut the frauns off of the fennel and sliced up the green finger bits too.  The original recipe doesn’t call for that, but they were fine if cut really thin.

Toss the fennel and the radishes together then add the zest, lemon juice, oil and S&P just before serving.

Toss it all again and then garnish with chopped fennel fraun for colour.

Really nice and fresh accompaniment to any summer meal.

Salad Week – Deconstructed Greek Salad

I thought what with Summer now upon us……well some places are getting Summer anyway….that it would be a good time to roll out “Salad Week”.

I love salads and the combinations are endless, so let’s see what we can come up with.

Today we have “Deconstructed Greek Salad”.

Now don’t be intimidated.   This might sound all “Chefy” but it couldn’t be simpler!

Impress your friends with this simple tasty salad.

Gather all the ingredients typically found in a Greek salad and cut them into even sized bits.

Here we have:

  • Green pepper
  • Yellow pepper
  • Red onion
  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • Kalamata olives

So chop them up evenly and put them in little piles in a flat casserole dish like small 9 x 9 glass lasagna dish.

Then make up the dressing:  Thee parts oil, one part vinegar

  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • chopped fresh herbs – parsley, oregano etc

Stir up and then pour all over the vegetables and let them marinade for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

When you are ready to serve, arrange even piles of the individual vegetables around the plate.

Here we have a dollop of goat cheese, but crumbled feta would do nicely too.

Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with additional chopped herbs if you have them!

Voila!  So simple and so good!!

Deconstructed Greek Salad

Please feel free to share YOUR  favorite salads with me.  Post a link to your blog if you’d like my friends to check it out too.

Happy Salad Week!

Stuffed Peppers three ways

The Chef is a fan of three ways.

You know, when it comes to preparing dishes.    He really likes taking one ingredient and preparing three different versions of the same item.

The other night he made three different coloured peppers stuffed with three different stuffings!

Let’s break down the fillings.

Filling # one:

  • corn
  • black beans
  • cooked rice

Filling # two:

  • cooked green lentils
  • green olives
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Filling # three:

  • cooked red lentils
  • crushed tomato ( or tomato sauce)
  • sun dried tomatoes

Feel free to add anything extra that you might like, but these are the basic ingredients.

So make up all these different fillings separately.

I know all that  seems like a lot of work, but just keep the left overs because they make great “salad” accompaniments for your lunch for the rest of the week!!

Cut the peppers in half removing the insides.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes till they are a bit wilted.

Then stuff each pepper with one of the fillings, try to make the colour contrasts interesting.  Or not.

These particular versions are all Vegan, but if you wanted to add some cheese on top to melt in, that would be very tasty too.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are heated through.

Stuffed peppers three ways

Enjoy with side salad or other veg.

Anniversary Dinner

Now don’t get me wrong, I like going out to restaurants as much as the next person, but when you have a live in Chef sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense to go out!!

The Chef and I were celebrating our anniversary this weekend so he was nice enough to “whip me up” a little something for my dinner!!

We started with an appetizer of beet and goat cheese pin wheel terrine with basil infused oil.

Beet and goat cheese pin wheels

Colourful and light.

Then a lovely salad of arugula  with a beautiful refreshing oil and lemon dressing and shaves of Parmesan cheese.

Arugula salad with lemon, oil and shaved Parmesan cheese

For the main course we had beef and asparagus rouladen topped with gorgonzola cheese, accompanied by pured roasted celeriac topped with Boursin cheese and roasted root vegetables with topped with Blue cheese.

Beef and asparagus rouladen with roasted celeriac, root vegetables and three cheeses

Scurmp-delly-ishes!!!

Needless to say, with all the flavours and textures going on there, it only seemed appropriate to have a nice simple dessert.

Strawberries macerated in sugar and balsamic vinegar with Greek yogurt, with a sprig of mint and a shard of dark chocolate!

macerated strawberries with Greek yogurt and mint

Good time had by all!

Left overs salad

I think sometimes people get hung up on what food is supposed to “look like”.

As in they think that there are some kind of rules about what something is, just because you call it something.

Example, salad.

When you say “salad” what immediately comes to mind?  Some kind of lettuce, few chopped carrots or cucumbers, maybe some sliced radish for colour……..

Or maybe you go to chunky potato salad with the obligatory cup of mayonnaise?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those, but sometimes it is okay to get out of the box.

Came home and needed something to eat.  What to do?

Well, I had some slightly old baguette so I chopped that up into bite size squares and tossed it with some chopped garlic, chopped rosemary and some olive oil.   Then on to a tray and into the oven to crisp up.

What next?

I had a romaine lettuce so I washed it and chopped it up and dried it well.

In the bottom of the bowl that I tossed the croutons in, there was some of the oil, garlic and rosemary left, so I used the same bowl and made a little dressing.

Mostly, it was a Caesar dressing only minus the raw egg and anchovy:

  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp Keen’s hot mustard ( or Dijon)
  • a few shots of Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a couple of twirls of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

whisk that up at the bottom of the bowl.

Then add the Romain lettuce and toss with the dressing.   Then add a few handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

But is that it?  No no no……let’s see what we have in the fridge??

Well, how about some left over roasted cauliflower?  Why not?

I just tossed it into a saute pan for a couple of minutes to take the extreme cold off of it and mellow the flavour a bit.

What else do we have?  Oh, here is some left over South West salad, let’s toss that in too!

All right then, I think we are in business!

We have the lettuce tossed in dressing with cheese, then cauliflower and then the bean salad.  Last but not least, the croutons and toss well and serve!

Perfect any night “Salad”!

What have you got in YOUR fridge that you can call salad?

“Left Overs” salad

Salad Wraps

I love, love, love these!

They are easy, tasty and another favorite way of hiding the veggies!

So what you will need for wraps:

  • rice paper
  • mixed greens salad mix or other lettuce
  • cilantro leaves
  • veg cut into strips   ( your choice is endless)

Some choices being:

  • cucumber
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • carrot
  • jicama
  • basically anything you can cut into a strip
Prepare all of your vegetables before you start.  Then place everything out ready for assembly.
Get a flat, big enough to hold the wrapper, sized bowl of warm water, a cutting board with a clean tea towel on it.
Dip the wrapper in the water for a few seconds till it goes limp.   Practice makes perfect on this.
Lay it out on the the tea towel and line the middle with salad greens then top with your favorite veg.  Being careful not to stuff them too much that you can’t roll them.
Feel free to sprinkle with chopped toasted nuts or sesame seeds or the like.  And the cilantro leaves.
Then roll them up like you would a burrito.  Fold over covering the filling, then sides in, then roll.

Meanwhile………..and this is only a suggestion.  Feel free to use the dipping sauce of your choice…….there are many!

For sauce:

  • 1/2 cup raw soaked cashews  or 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cilantro
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes

Whiz this up in the food processor.  Add a little water if it is too thick whiz again.  Repeat till you get the consistency you like.

These make a great snack or lunch or make a bunch ( smaller size ones) and they make a great party snack!

Salad rolls with dipping sauce

Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine

Every now and again The Chef will see something somewhere and HAS to make it.

Of late we have been watching Top Chef Canada and there is one contestant who seems to be making a lot of terrines, so The Chef had a hankering to make one for us.  I couldn’t refuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, terrines come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and flavours.  But mostly it means a dish full of stuff squished down hard till it sticks together well and then turned out and sliced up and eaten, usually in a decorative way.

So on this occasion, he made one of beet and goat cheese.

Start by boiling some whole beets.  He used red ones and golden ones.

Once they are cooked, let them cool till they are cold.  So this can be done well in advance.

When you are ready to build your terrine, peel the beets slice very thinly with a mandolin or with a knife if you are really good at that kind of thing.

Lay them out on a tray and sprinkle with a little oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and some chopped herbs.

Let them sit a little to get acquainted.

Then find yourself a terrine mould.  If you don’t have a fancy one handed down from generations before you, just use a loaf pan of some sort.

You could line it with plastic wrap if you are making something particularly sticky, but the oil on these beets will keep them slippery enough to come out of the mould.

Start layering the beets, perferablely by colour.

Then a layer of goat cheese.

Repeat.

When you finish your last layer, you will need to find something heavy that you can put on top.

Use your imagination.

The Chef topped it with a bit of parchment paper, then we happend to have one of those silicon, soft loaf pans, so he put that on top next and then a couple of heavy cans of whatever.

Put it in the fridge for a few hours to set.

When you are ready, unmould it, slice it up and serve.

Kale Chips

I know, I know!  Everybody and their brother are making these right now…..but I was talking to a friend about them who happened to NOT have actually seen them before …. so this is for HER!

These things are great.  So easy, so tasty and SUCH a great way to hide kale!

Here is what you will need:

  • kale
  • olive oil
  • nutritional yeast
  • salt

Start with your kale, however much you want to make.  Start with one bunch to try, in case for some crazy reason you don’t like them.

Wash the kale really well and dry it even better.

Cut, rip, tear however you like, reasonably large bits of kale from the thick stem.  They shrink a lot so what might seem too big probably isn’t.  And if they are too small they might shrivel up.

So with your torn kale all set, drizzle with a good shot of olive or other quality oil.   Toss very well to make sure the leaves are well coated.

Then sprinkle with nutritional yeast.   And mix well again.

You don’t HAVE to use the yeast, but not only does it add extra nutrients, but it gives the kale a wonderful  almost “cheesey” additional taste to them that is quite delightful.

Spread them evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment and then sprinkle with sea salt.    But don’t go crazy with the salt, just enough to make them “chip like”.

Put them in a 300 degree oven.   Keep a close eye on them.  There are so many variables as to how long they will take.   Basically you want them to be dried “chip like” things but to catch them before they blacken in any way.   If you go too far, it makes them bitter.

So watch carefully!  But let’s say it is a 10 – 20 minute operation.

Unless of course you are making them in a dehydrator which in that case, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Then enjoy as a wonderful snack.   Or, as we did the other day, used them as a sort of “crouton” on top of a salad!

And feel free to jazz them up with other stuff too.  I have often added a few dashes of my favorite chipolte Tabassco sauce or a few sprinkles of dried garlic…….the combos are endless!

And the BEST thing?  All the money you will save!  I have seen “kale chips” going for like $10.00 for a small little bag at the health food store!

Take that!

Veg Pate

For YEARS I have been trying to score a good recipe for Veggie Pate.

But until now have always been unsuccessful!  I have actually only tried a few because most seem to have some key ingredient that I find objectionable, like too much flour or too much white potato or something or other so I don’t even bother.  Or the ones I have made, have been……okay…..but doesn’t taste like “the one”.

Years ago I went to this bridal shower / stagette type event.  The Bride was a vegan so all of the food could accommodate her.  Actually she and her husband to be were both vegans and so the wedding reception was completely vegan too.  This was quite some time ago, so back in the day something like that was considered quite avant-garde!

But back to the shower.  That was the first time I had ever tasted veggie pate of any kind.  And as someone who LOVES stuff that you can put on bread or crackers, I was very intrigued and delighted.  I didn’t care necessarily that it was vegan or vegetarian or whatever, I just thought that it tasted great!

I had asked the lady who made it if she might give me the recipe and she very pleasantly said “sure, sure……..” but to this day have never got it out of her.  I hear from others that she is very protective of that recipe because it is her “signature” dish!

Well finally I found a recipe that works !  And tastes VERY close to that one I tasted so long ago! 

( click here ) for that recipe.

The only changes I made was that I used rice flour ( cause that’s all I had that wasn’t wheat) AND I added a tbsp of poultry spice because I love that stuff.  Other wise I followed it exactly and it came out perfect!

I have frozen some to eat later.  I will let you know how it holds up.

Growing Stuff April 20th

I’ve decided to try and grow some potato on purpose this year. 

Last year I was trying to grow cauliflowers when suddenly a potato plant started growning in the middle of them and took over the whole party.  I suspect it was from peels that I had tossed in to compost.

Potatoes growing in the cauliflower! ( last year )

So this year I have a nice little potato with some eyes on it.  I’ve cut it into a few bits.

Potato buds

Then I have planted the bits in a nice deep tub of dirt.

I’ll let you know what happens.

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If you look REALLY closely you can see a few tiny weeny Swiss Chard sprouts trying to grow from the new batch of seeds I planted outside.  I really think these ARE chard because they are red!

Chard sprouts

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I am happy to see that the oregano plant has a few little leaves trying to grow.  Last year it was completely dead but then came back full blast!

Oregano trying to grow

 

 

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I found out that a friend of mine is actually an award winner tomato growing expert!!  The things you find out about people! 

Anyway, I had been telling her my growing troubles but commented on how pleased I was with the progress of my tomato plants that I am growning inside from seed.

She told me that it is very important to mound the dirt around the base of the plant.  This helps make it stronger for when the tomatoes appear.   So that’s what I did!

AND I added coffee grounds to the dirt as a fertilizer

( click here to read from Grounds to ground)

 

 

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As for the mystry plant?

The concensus is……..that is it some sort of sunflowers!

Rogue Sunflowers!

Weekly update April 13

I just realized that it is Friday the 13th!!

I don’t think plants care about that!

Well, I think that I figured out what the mystery plant might be………seems the neighbour kid “Jack” traded his family cow to some questionable character for some lousy beans!  And he hid them in MY flower pot!!!

No…..not really.

Truth is, I still have NO idea what the heck these are!   ( If you are just joining us, CLICK HERE to catch up on what I am on about )  But it seems they grow bigger by the day!

Mystery plant

And now they seem to be developing a bud of some sort! 

Mystery bud on mystery plant

 I think I will keep them indoors till they flower, because I know the birds will go crazy on them if I put them out on the balcony!

I planted some “new” Swiss Chard seeds in a bigger pot outside and am trying again.   So far nothing has sprouted and when I came in yesterday I noticed that “someone” ( pesky squirrel) has been digging in the pot!  “Why I otta………”

But I am pleased to report that the tomato plants are coming along wonderfully!

AND the little container of “micro greens” which is really just lettuce that you cut before it grows into its real self, are doing just fine too!

Micro greens

Although I have had to take extreme measure to protect them.  Seems birds LOVE micro greens!

I think it will be warm enough to start planting some other things really soon!

Can’t wait!

South West Supper

We very much enjoy the taste of the South West around our house.  Even if we DO live in the North West.  Maybe that’s why?

Tonight I have made a South West beef stew, a South West salad and some South West corn bread muffins.  All together, you have a South West Supper!

I started with the stew so it would have some time to get acquainted.   I have to warn you that this stew will seem remarkably similar to chili.  That’s cause it most is the same only instead of ground beef I used stewing beef.

So in your dutch oven, brown in a few splashes of oil:

  • cubes of stewing beef dredged in a little flour ( or whatever protein you are into)

Once they are browned on all sides, remove to a resting bowl.   Then add to the pot:

  • 1 large onion sliced and or cubed
  • 1/2 of 1 large red pepper cubed
  • 1 small carrot cubed

Try to keep all of these things the same size of cube for consistency.

Cook these till they are nice and sweaty looking and then add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika ( smoky adds more flavour)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili flakes ( depending on your tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic

Feel free to use more or less of anything depending on your taste.

Mix those into the vegetables well, then return the meat to the pot with any juices that may have collected.  Stir it all well.

Then add:

  • 1 small tin tomato paste
  • aprox 1 cup water or stock

Stir, cover and let come up to a boil, stir again and turn down to a simmer.

Shortly before serving add:

  • 1/2 can rinsed black beans

Stir in and turn off heat.

South West Stew

While your stew is simmering you can put together your South West Salad.

Add together is a bowl:

  • the other half of the can or black beans
  • 1/2 a can of nibblet corn ( keep other half for corn bread)
  • the other half of the red pepper diced ( same size as corn and beans)
  • 2 green onions ( green part only) sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 large handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Toss all that together.

Just before serving add:

  • 1 ripe avocado diced
  • juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • S & P to taste

Toss again and serve.

South West Salad

Put these two dishes together with some nice corn bread muffins to soak up the sauce and you’ve got yourself a tasty South West Supper!

South West Supper

Growing inside

Well if you are from around British Columbia or have been following our weather of late, you will know that it has been appalling and unseasonably ( if not historically) cold and miserable.

So getting my balcony garden on the go has been a challenge.

I’ve had to resort to growing things inside in hopes it will warm up enough for them to go outside soon enough!

We got a new fridge recently and I had the produce drawer left over from the old one.  It seems to make a great planter for my little tomato seedlings!

And I’ve started my Swiss chard in a pot.   Course even if it was warm enough to put the chard outside, the birds with desecrate it in an instance!

Swiss Chard sprouts

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