Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘salad’

Dinner at La Buca

After our Oregon journey to the beach at Lincoln City and our adventures in Woodburn, the Chef and I finally made it to Portland.

Now I’ve said this before on other trips through these parts, but I have to remind you that Portland is a serious food town! ( Check out last time we were through here)

The worst thing is trying to narrow it down as to where to go!  It can be quite overwhelming.

We decided to check out the East side again, because we had such luck last time.  And because it is more neighbourhood like, it is easier to park!

We headed towards East Burnside Road and parked on one of the side streets.  There was such a selection of places that we kept walking back and forth trying to decide.   We finally agreed on La Buca because it looked very inviting and had an outdoor patio.

La Buca Portland

It always makes me SO happy to be able to eat outside!  I was very used to that coming from Montreal where we would persevere patios from April to October just so we could say we were eating outside!  But I find that living in Victoria, there isn’t quite as much of that.  So I like to take advantage whenever I can!

We started with a nice little order of Bruschetta Pomodoro and some wine that came in a regular little juice glass.  I love wine like that, like you are over at someone’s Nona’s house.

It was fresh and delicious.

Then we split the salad of  romaine lettuce, with apple, walnuts and creamy gorgonzola dressing.  

And home made bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Also fresh and wonderful.

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Then the Chef ordered pollo marsala: chicken medallions sautéed with mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce, served with mashed potatoes.

Chicken Marsala

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And I went for the abituale: penne tossed with spicy italian sausage in a parmesan & roasted garlic tomato cream sauce.  I love spicy Italian sausage and just can’t resist it!

Pasta with spicy sausage

I couldn’t have been happier!

There isn’t too much I can think of that is better than sittin on a warm patio as the sun goes down, with your best person, eatin some pasta and sausage and drinkin wine out of a juice glass!!  That’s LIVIN!!

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And then, that temptress of a waitress enticed us to try the Tiramisu: a dessert of espresso dipped italian lady fingers layered with mascarpone and belgian chocolate!  By then we were giddy with delight so how could we resist!

Tiramisu

The real kicker in all this?  Just last week, at home in Victoria, we had a comparable, if not slightly inferior Italian meal at a local hot spot that cost us THREE times what this cost!!   Have I mentioned there is no sales tax in Oregon??

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After dinner we took a little stroll around the neigbourhood  ( mostly to let the food settle a little before we tried to stuff our bellies back in the car!)  and we found this lovely Art Deco style Coca Cola bottling plant!

Coca Cola plant

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

Foraging – Part III

And now the conclusion of the guest blog by my friend Jacquie as she shares with us her adventures in Foraging in the Laurentian Region of Quebec.

See the two previous days for Part I and Part II.

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Foraging – The Meal

Photo: J. Dinsmore

La Table des Jardins Sauvages not only serves excellent food but also lets you bring your own wine to drink before, during and after dinner.

Romping through the fields, across the river and through the woods searching for plants that soon all begin to look alike can make a person thirsty, so before we went in for dinner, we sat outside and opened the first of our bottles of wine. The air was warm with the setting sun and the only sound, besides the tinkle of wine glasses and the murmur of conversation, was the babbling river.

Our server came out to tell us that dinner was ready, and the four of us, along with another table of 5, filed into the cottage’s veranda-cum-dining room.

View from our table. Photo J. Dinsmore

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        Photo: J Dinsmore

The table was set with old-fashioned charm. The house bread is served with two compound butters: one flavoured with wild herbs and the other with dried boletus mushrooms. Delicious!

Starters

The hors d’oeuvre consisted of smoked wild salmon and a buckwheat crepe, with crinkleroot gribiche, pickled fiddleheads and daisy flower buds, and lady’s sorrel. The gribiche was smooth with a delicate taste and set off the salmon and crêpe nicely. The pickled elements and “salad” added a bright fresh note to the dish.

Next came soup, and what a treat! A delightful bowl of lobster bisque made with cattail (yes, cattail) broth surrounding 3 types of mushrooms (bolete, shaggy mane and, of course, lobster mushrooms) along with pieces of lobster. This delicious mix was topped off with garlic mustard leaf and sea parsley froth. The cattail broth was amazing with a wonderfully subtle flavour. The mushrooms added a lovely earthy note to the soup with the lobster mushrooms echoing the size and colours of the lobster pieces.

Lobster bisque with cattail broth. The restaurant makes use of all parts of the cattail plant in its various forms throughout the year. Photo: J Dinsmore

The next course was a slice of rabbit loin stuffed with stinging nettle, cheese and bee balm petals, rhubarb-onion chutney along with spelt risotto. The rabbit was tender and although we wondered about the cheese and stinging nettle, the stuffing was scrumptious. The chutney was tart and a perfect foil for the rabbit and its tasty stuffing.

Rabbit loin stuffed with stinging nettle, cheese and bee balm petals. Photo: J Dinsmore

Service was excellent throughout our meal and our server explained the dishes to us as she placed them on our table. The kitchen is small and staff minimal at La Table des Jardins Sauvages, so there was sometimes a wait between courses. But 1) the wait was worth it and, 2) we had a lively party and enough wine with us to make the wait thoroughly enjoyable.

The Main Event
Photo: J Dinsmore

Finally, after 3 bottles of wine, uncountable captivating dinner stories and non-stop laughter, our main course arrived: organic Muscovy duck supreme, venison-duck sausage, Jerusalem artichoke purée, wild salsify sprouts and elderberry five-spice pan sauce. The duck was beautifully cooked, tender and juicy with no hint of the fat that can sometimes ruin this dish. The gravy, marrying sweet elderberry and dusky Chinese flavours, was a bright surprise with a sweet and smoky taste. I had never had Jerusalem artichoke before and quite enjoyed it over the usual mashed potatoes.

Desert
Photo: J Dinsmore

We finished this wonderful meal with desert consisting of a chocolate and wild ginger baby cake, strawberry and spruce tip semi-freddo and granité. The cake was moist and chocolaty, with just a hint of ginger. A chocolate-lover’s dream. The semi-freddo was basically a decadently rich ice cream with a faint citrus taste from the spruce tips, topped with strawberry ice. It went extremely well with the ice-wine we had brought to finish off the meal.

It was late, and we still had a good hour drive back to Montreal, but we took a few minutes to check out the boutique in another part of the cottage. Here you can purchase many of the products you encountered in your meal, plus much more.

Photo: J Dinsmore

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Photo: J Dinsmore

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Thank you so much Jacquie for sharing your wonderful

food and foraging adventure with us!!

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Goat Cheese Cakes

Here is a super little snack or appetizer or in this case we just had it with a bunch of dips and a glass of wine for a wonderfully tasty summer supper!

Goat cheese cakes

Here’s what’s in the goat cheese cakes:

  • Goat cheese
  • chopped basil
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped sun-dried tomato
  • chopped jalapeno olives
  • black pepper

Mix all of this very well together in a bowl.  Then take out large spoonfuls of the mixture and make them into little disks or “cakes”.   Then put them on a tray with some parchment paper and then put them in the freezer!

Keep them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour or until they get nice and firm.  This makes them SO much easier to work with.

Then you are going to bread them with the usual process.

  • flour
  • egg
  • breadcrumbs

Then it is time to pan fry them in just a little oil.

Then back to the tray with parchment and into the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes max, just to set them.

Then you are ready to eat!

The Chef told me that he had prepared a salad of “local greens”.  We laughed and laughed, because he just took them from the balcony garden!!  That’s pretty local!

Humus, onion jam, tomato compote

Then we paired them with some lovely tasty dips.

  • spicy humus
  • onion jam
  • tomato compote

I will give you the recipes for these another time!

And then some roasted garlic, assorted olives with crostini and fancy bread!

With a nice glass of wine……nothin beats it!!

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!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

I think I might be watching too many episodes of “Top Chef” on the food network, because I am getting very good at just putting something together out of whatever happens to be around!!

For those of you who have never seen the show, Chefs are often given a few random ingredients and are expected to make something editable out of it.

I’d say my cheesy Eggy Pie might qualify!

So here is what is in mine, but as is always my motto, what ever you happen to have around will do!

  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced ( any colour or combo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Toss these into a frying pan with a slosh of oil and saute till wilted.   Then add them to a casserole dish.   Then I added:

  • a large handful of chopped spinach
  • asparagus chopped in 1 inch bits ( fresh or left over cooked)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Toss in with the peppers.   Chopped tomato  or zucchini would go fine too.

Then add some cooked pasta.  I used rotini, but any short hearty pasta will do.  If you are going to use noodles, I would break them in half before cooking.

Toss all that together.   Feel free to add some chopped fresh or dried herbs like oregano or parsley.

Then, you will mix up some egg with cream or milk like you are going to make something like a bread pudding.   Add a few shots of hot sauce if you like, or paprika.

Then pour this mixture all over the pasta and vegetables.   It shouldn’t be swimming but enough to maybe fill up the sides half way.

Then sprinkle with your favorite cheese and bung it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to half hour.

You will know it is ready when you take it out and shake it a little and there is no liquid moving around and the cheese is melted nicely.

Spoon it up and serve with a little green salad and you have a quick Summer supper!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

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!

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!

Veggie Pie

Well here’s an easy one for you, a quick mid-week supper or a Sunday lunch!

As you may know, I’m a big fan of “clean out the fridge” dishes and this one is a perfect example of that.

You can pretty much use most vegetables that you would cook on this one.

Now when I say “cheated” with ready-made puff pastry……..I’m not really being that outrageous.  I mean I live with a professional Chef and even HE never makes puff pastry from scratch!!

So start with some store-bought puff pastry and roll it out as per manufacturers instructions.

Then cut it into manageable sizes.  Squares or like I have here, sort of round mini pizza sizes.

Roll up the edges slightly because you want to make the inside deep enough so stuff doesn’t run out.

Put on a baking sheet and bake in the oven ( see temp on pastry package)  for about 15 minutes.

Top with your vegetables of choice.

We happened to have some left over roasted squash, already sweet and smokie and perfect for this.

And some carmalized onions and some fresh asparagus.  Arrange them evenly all over the dough.

Then you are going to add:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt & pepper

Whipped up together and poured evenly over the vegetables, kind of like if you were making a very thin Quiche.

Finish with your favorite cheese.

Here we have a few knobs of my favorite goat cheese.

Bung them in the oven ( see pastry package for temp).

And bake until the pastry puffs up, the egg and cream set and  the cheese gets melty!

Serve with a side salad and you are in business!

Veggie pie

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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

Road side surprise

This past weekend the Chef and I headed “up island”  ( that’s what they call pretty much anywhere that isn’t Victoria, or more North than where ever you happened to live on the island!) to do a little family visiting.

We usually only make one stop on the way, to get gas at the place where it is always cheaper and to get a coffee at Tim Hortons  ( for my non Canadian friends, that is an essential part of Canadian culture!).   But due to timing and what have you, we found ourself needing to stop for a meal of some sort.

We didn’t want to venture too far off the highway and lose too much time, so we pulled over into a strip mall in the city of Nanaimo.  There were a few choices that seem to have sprouted up in most mall parking lots across the land, but we settled on a place called “Original Joe’s“.

I have seen one in a local mall parking lot, but it had never come up for us to have a chance to try it.

We were very pleasantly surprised.  We were expecting your typical parking lot style family restaurant or roadhouse type thing but it was much more inviting.

They had a simple, but nice menu and we both very much enjoyed our choices!

The Chef is very partial to a place called J & L Drive-IN in Port Alberni.  He loves it cause you can get a hot dog ON your hamburger!!

So imagine his delight when he found a similar product at Original Joe’s!!  Only this one came with a fancy sausage of some kind and two delicious sides, garlic roasted mash potato, topped with crispy onions and a tasty Caesar salad.

Big burger

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I got the fish tacos, a dish I have recently become quite fond of and these ones did NOT disappoint.  Full of fresh toppings and a nice side salad.  I was very pleased.

Fish tacos

And then the Chef ordered something called “chocolate therapy”.  It was an ooy gooy moulton chocolate cake type thing with chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream.  I tried to take a picture but it didn’t work so well….too  decedant for even the camera!!

“Chocolate Therapy”

So if you find yourself in need of a bite and you see an Original Joe’s, give it a try.

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.

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

Nelson’s Beans – revisited

A while back I shared a recipe with you.

A recipe for something I called “Nelson’s Beans”.    ( click here )

I told a story about how when I was visiting my cousin in California, his son was visiting from Scotland and made “Nelson’s Beans”.

I always assumed that Nelson was a Scotland guy…….but I learned when we were there visiting over the holidays that  in fact he is actually a California guy.

This makes WAY more sense now.   I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Scottish cuisine, but “spicy stuff” isn’t really the first thing you think of.

I just wanted to clear that up.

We had a good batch of them for dinner last night, with a little salad, a little hummus and pita makes a great little Vegan dinner.

Nelson’s Beans

My Valentines

I know that many of you have expressed envy over the fact that I have a Chef around the house.

And although there are MANY perks to this, there are also a few hazards, like the high risk to your waistline and the fact that there ALWAYS seems to be a lot of dishes!

But on this past Valentines Day this year, I was once again treated to a lovely meal!

Actually it started with a very nice breakfast, simple but effective.

Eggs, cooked inside slices of red pepper that looked very much like heart shapes, on toast, with a bit of cheese.  I couldn’t have been happier!

Heart shaped eggs

Who knows what I had for lunch?  Probably nothing, knowing I would be coming home to a feast.  And a feast it was.

For weeks I have been nagging the Chef to try out something I saw on someone else’s blog.  The other blogger had taken goat cheese, rolled it into balls, breaded them and then deep fried them and then tossed them in hot sauce.  Exactly like you might do with chicken wings!

The Chef, not liking to be outdone, took it up a notch!

Instead of just goat cheese, he used shredded chicken and blue cheese!  So these balls were even closer to a chicken wing!   But then we just dipped ours in hot sauce instead of having them completely covered in them.   

Very tasty! 

Chicken & blue cheese balls

Then we moved on to the “Party Snack Sampler”.  I am a big fan of party snacks so to start with a few to whet my whistle, was very nice.

Tapenade topped goat cheese, hummus and pita. 

And my favorite little Spanakopita!

Spanikopita

Next was a simple salad of bundles of baby greens wrapped in finely sliced cucumber with a nice sun-dried tomato and balsamic dressing.

Then the main event.  asparagus filled ravioli on a mound of puree of sweet roasted butternut squash, topped with brown butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Asparagus ravioli with butternut squash and brown butter

Finally, for dessert, the triple header chocolate delight!!

Home made chocolate pudding, topped with grated chocolate infused whipped cream and a shard of Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar!  

Chocolate Triple Header

Doesn’t get much better than THAT!

I am a lucky girl.

Beet on Beet Salad

 I never liked beets as a child, thought they tasted like dirt.

But now I love them and eat them every chance I can.  They are very very good for you!

The Chef and I worked together to whip up this two kind of beets two ways refreshing salad.

First I whipped out my spiralizer and cut one of each, red and golden,  raw peeled beets, into beautiful strings.

Meanwhile, the Chef boiled up some of the same.

Then we met back to assemble the salad.

Start with nice slices of cooked beet that you will alternate with Salt Spring Goat Cheese ( click here ) and another slice of the other coloured beet.

Once those are stratigicly spaced, add a handful of mixed greens in the centre and then top with a couple of handfuls of red and golden beet spirals.

Top with your favorite dressing.    Could be a meal in it’self!

Two beet salad

The Journey North

Well after a week of over indulgence in the South it was time to set our sights on the journey North. 

I almost want to say that I was a little tired of eating altogether, but luckily that wore off.

We packed up all of our loot, hugged the relatives good-bye and set off North.  Our big concern for the next few days was to get through the Cascade mountains without meeting up with any snow.  That’s why we had taken the coast on the way down, to avoid any such unpleasant weather as the mountains are prone to have this time of year.  Our only goal was to make it to Seattle by New Years Eve because we had plans that we had to get to.

But unlike the trip down, we hadn’t plotted any particular culinary stops on the way back and were just going to have to take our chances.

I’m afraid that this first day was a bust when it came to eating.  We stopped somewhere outside of Sacramento because we were starving and could go no further.  We had been looking for a Sonic Burger, because of the many American burger chains available, I have always found that one to be my favorite.   But instead we had to settle with an IN/OUT burger.  I had heard good enough things, but, I regret to say that I found it most average.  I will give it the benefit of the doubt in that we were pretty much over eating in general and so anything may seem a chore, but unfortunately that is the way things turned out.

We stopped for the night in Redding California.  That is the last sort of “real” place on the I-5 before heading up into the mountains.  It was getting dark so we figured we would get a fresh start in the morning to tackle Mount Shasta.

We had no dinner plans but we happened to pick up a flyer in the lobby of the hotel for a near by restaurant.  I was very excited at the prospect, it was called ” Dill’s Southern Style Barbecue”.  Now I love BBQ and this place sounded like a “joint” which usually always turns out to have the best stuff!

But sometimes that can be furthest from the truth!

Now I am usually of the thought that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, but I’m afraid it is my civic duty to warn you NOT to waste your vacation or eating pleasure on this place.  It is just plain bad.  I can’t even make any excuses for bad days on their part or ours.  It felt like eating in the back room at your garage while you are waiting for your oil change.   Bright fluorescent lighting, absolutely no decor, indifferent service and the food was microwaved and  awful.   Sorry Dill but I won’t be back!

The next morning when we got up it was pouring rain!!  Hopefully it wouldn’t be coming down as snow in the mountains.

Mount Shasta - photo courtesy of Blooming Rose Press

This is a picture of Mount Shasta on a clear day when it is quite spectacular, but on our day passing by we couldn’t even see her for the fog and rain.  

I’ve never actually stopped for any reason,  in the town Weed, which is high up in the mountains,  but the exit sign gets me every time!

Finally we made the trek through the most threatening part of the mountains and decided to stop for lunch in Eugene, Oregon.

I’ll admit that I have never stopped there either.  Usually when I am heading up the I-5 it is alone and I am on a mission to get to the Canadian border and don’t have time to stop and explore the towns along the way but we were in no immediate hurry so we ventured in.  Eugene is in a ways off the highway and not just an exit on the highway.

We had a hankering for some pizza and would have been happy with just a pizza parlour type scenario but instead we lucked out with a place called La Perla“.

La Perla Eugene Oregon

What a wonderful surprise this was!  The have those wonderful Neopolitan style pizzas with handmade dough and then cooked in one of those fancy dome ovens for 90 seconds at 1200 degrees!

We split the Caesar Salad and then I had the Capricciosa which consisted of:

Pomodoro San Marzano, artichokes, mushrooms, olives, fresh house made mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and Parmesan.

The Chef had the Campagnola topped with:

Pomodoro San Marzano, fresh house made mozzarella, Italian sausage, porsciutto cotto and Calabrese salami.

They were fresh and delicious!   If you are ever in Eugene, this place is worth the stop!!

Looking for Johnny in Santa Rosa

After our long day down the Oregon Coast we ended up in Eureka California.

It was a shame that it got dark so early because we had to drive through the Redwood forest but weren’t able to see too much.

The plan for Eureka was to check out a joint called Porter Street BBQ.  There are apparently more than one location but regrettably by the time we rolled into town it was too late and the location we found was closed.  We were tired and hungry and so we ended up at Denny’s.

Much like the hotel breakfast buffet, don’t be so quick to turn your nose up at the thought of the venerable chain, the place is clean, the food reliable, oh yeah and it was OPEN!!  But to be honest, I don’t even really remember what I ate.  A chicken and avocado sandwich perhaps?   Whatever it was, it did the trick and I was refreshed enough to be on our way.

The goal for the next day was to visit the restaurant of a celebrity Chef.

It would all depend on which route we took.

If we took the route through the Napa Valley California, the plan was to stop at Food Networks celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello’s  Bottega Restaurant.

Michael Chiarello has long been a staple on the food channels with his “easy  Napa entertaining” style cooking show, but more recently was one of the finalists “The Next Iron Chef”.

The other route would take us through Santa Rosa California, where we would have TWO choices of restaurants  from another Food Network celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, host of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”  and “Guy’s Big Bite”.

We had to choose between Guy’s restaurants in Santa Rosa,  Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi but they are both quite different in style.  What to do?

But first we had to drive a long a part of the highway called The Avenue of Giants where the trees are super tall.

Here is a glimpse, but believe me, the picture can’t capture just how crazy tall these trees are!!

Avenue of Giants

A choice had to be made so we went with Santa Rosa and decided on Johnny Garlic’s.   Mostly because it was the easiest to get to, just off the highway.

To be honest, it is in a sort of strip mall with a Sizzler across the street.  I was kind of surprised at the “averageness” of the location.  But this was Guy’s first restaurant opened 13 years ago before he was a celebrity Chef, so you have to start somewhere.

Equally average was the interior and decor.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but the inside was as “strip mall” as the outside.

But we were greeted promptly and led to our seat and the host was very keen to know if we had been before and when we said we hadn’t he went into his spiel about the history of the place and Guy himself.  But it was in a genuine way, not like he was paid to say it, but rather he was quite proud of letting us know.  And we appreciated that.

The waitress was extremely knowledgable and confident and didn’t make us feel like she was just some student making some cash in between classes, she was very professional and steered us through the extensive menu.

What to eat?  What to eat?

We started with a drink, I had their famous lemonade and the Chef had the ice tea.  Very refreshing and neither too sweet nor too tart.  And then the waitress brought some wonderful bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping.  We gobbled it down because it was so good, but were smart enough to refuse and second helping because we would spoil our lunch!

Then we started by splitting  a full portion of the:  

Sonoma Salad

 Sonoma Salad

Spring Mix, Dried Cranberries, Honey Almonds, Stella Blue Cheese Crumbles + House Balsamic Dressing

Then the Chef ordered the:

French Pig Pizza

Brie, Pancetta, Green Apples, Leeks + Extra Virgin Olive Oil

French Pig Pizza

And then I had the lunch special which was a half order of:

Cajun Chicken Penne

 Blackened Chicken Breast, Sun Dried Tomatoes + Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Cajun chicken pasta and Sonoma salad

And some more of the Sonoma Salad cause it was so good!  The Cajun Chicken pasta is a signature dish that has been a favorite at Johnny Garlic’s since it opened.

I can see why.  It was delish!!

Obviously we didn’t have any room for dessert at this point and we still had a full afternoon of driving to stay awake for!

I’d say if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, whether you are a Guy Fieri or not, it was a very good lunch.  So there.

Dinner in Portland

If you are into food and know anything about Portland Oregon, you KNOW that it is a huge foodie town!  They take all things food very seriously, so I’m not even gonna TRY and cover all that goes on here in one sitting.  I suggest you do your own research and pay Portland a visit and take yourself on an eating tour!

Click here to start your own search

Somewhere around Olympia Washington, Highway 101 meets up with the I-5 and heads South all the way to California.  So a few hours after our lunch break in Sheldon Washington, we crossed the over the Oregon border and found ourselves in Portland.

I had tried to do a little research before our departure so we would at least have a few choices or at least an area to look in for sometime to eat.  I think there is nothing worse on a road trip than when you roll into town, weary from the road and starving and THEN have to try to find somewhere to eat!

It can go either way, sometimes you luck out and find a gem while other times you end up eating the first thing you find which isn’t always good!

I narrowed it down to an area called Burnside.

( click here to check out some of the restaurants ). 

 A friend had suggested a place called “The Screen Door” that is famous for the favorite dish of chicken and waffles.  But then I noticed that there are all kinds of great places all up and down East Burnside Street. 

So after cruising up a down a couple of times, checking them all out visually, judging for atmosphere and crowedness, we ended up choosing a place called “East Burn“.  If you click on the google map and take the inside virtual tour you will see the super groovy hanging basket chairs on a pedestal in the window, that’s were we sat!  I remember some hipster neighbour having some of those when I was a kid.  I loved them then and loved sitting in one at East Burn.  They are surprisingly comfortable and you can swing around and look at the rest of the restaurant while you wait for your food!  It was great!

We weren’t totally starving because we had had our late lunch, so we decided to split a few of the appetizers.

We ordered the Tuscani White Bean Spread that comes with a wonderful peasant bread toast. 

The Potato Pancakes with bourbon apple chutney and scallion sour cream.

The roasted beet with organic chevre, candied pecans and micro greens salad.

These three items were just beautiful but we decided we could fit in a little more.  So we ordered the pasta special and split that too.

It was a very satisfying meal and very comfortable atmosphere but we were tired from our day on the road and wanted to get going.

We didn’t seem to see our waiter anywhere.  And then there seemed to be some sort of commotion in the adjacent “Tap Room” which we didn’t check out but have reason to believe is a bar in the lower level.

Suddenly we saw our waiter run by with a big pipe wrench of some kind and then heard some more commotion.  We saw a number of staff with varying looks of concern seem to disappear downstairs and then there seemed to be some banging noises.

We just sat back and swung in our hanging chairs until our waiter appeared.  He seemed kind of flustered and very apologetic.  Seems someone had accidentally locked themselves in the downstairs bathroom and couldn’t get out!

When we got our bill he had removed our drinks.  I guess to make up for the wait? 

We really had no complaints at all but were very appreciative of the gesture.

And did I mention that there is no sales tax in Oregon?  Even on restaurants!

So it turned out to be not only a delicious experience but also a very reasonable one.

Two for two!

East Burn Restaurant Portland Oregon

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