Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shrimp Tacos

Well, it seems like mango made a comeback.
We finished work late last night. I wanted something quick & I my taco dreams started at about 1pm that afternoon...

Like doughnuts to Homer, tacos to Marysol. Proof a) & b) & c) & d)

Shrimp Taco Filling

20 large shrimp, cooked (in mirin), chopped
1 mango, cubed
1/3 cup red onion, diced
2 green onions, chopped
3 limes, juiced (less if you have really juicy ones...)
Sambal or red chilies, I put 2 Tbsp, adjust to your heat level...
1/4 cup orange juice
1 handful Thai basil, chopped
1 large handful coriander, chopped
shredded lettuce

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Garden Talk - kale, radishes and slugs.

Eating dinner alone can be lonely.
Or, it means that you can eat whatever you want, even if it makes no sense because no one can judge you. And that puts a smile on your face doesn't it?

As I came home, I thought of all that my garden had to offer...and it is only the end of June.
I put some beet greens, swiss chard and trevisio in our sandwiches for lunch.
After work, I puttered around to make sure that slugs were not eating my precious peas and beans. I also checked all my greens for earwigs - they got a massive shampoo yesterday, hopefully they will not come back. My raspberries are so huge and plentiful that they seem imported from a year-round sunny country. (But, sadly, still no sign of my parsnips and turnips from Beckta...)

For dinner, kale chips and gorgeous radishes.
I am so overjoyed to have kale in the garden. I remember Candice saying last year that she had too much: that will not happen with me. We put some in a pasta sauce last night, and I made chips tonight. And I will make chips all summer. (I am not the only one...)

Kale Chips

Garlic, minced
Canola oil (or olive oil, but I find the taste too strong)

Mixy-mix. Spread on a parchment lined sheetpan. Bake for about 10 minutes at 400F.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fig and Almond Cream Tart

I just cannot resist fresh figs.
I love going to Nicastro's and putting a few in a brown paper bag, taking care not to crush my precious loot as I walk back to my car.

I bought a whole flat for $10. It is fig week at our house!

Fig and Almon Cream Tart

100G massepain, tiny cubes (almond paste)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweet butter, soft
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
4 figs, sliced
1 pie crust

Have your pie dough rolled out and ready to go! I did my tart in a rectangle tart shell, and had enough of the cream mix to do a mini tart (for my mum, awwwww).

preheat oven to 350.

In a stand-up mixer, mix together the butter and massepain for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix for another 3-4 minutes until soft and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, it will turn a pale color and fluff up. Reduce speed and add cream. Pour into the uncooked pie crust, layer the sliced figs on top. Cook for about 30 minutes, it should be a golden brown color and your crust pale gold.

I found this tart better the next day, cold.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Few Guests, A Few Salads

A few days in a row with guests and little time = salads.
Times like these I realize just how much I love summer. Quick meals. Fresh. Tasty.

The little things.
Like carrots to snack on.

Raspberries to add to our drinks.

Colorful zucchini ribbons and herbs.

But mostly, the unexpected guests. The sweet company. The laughs we share. Cheers to summer.

ps. This week will be about figs. Mangoes are so last week...

Figs and Prosciutto Salad

The important here is quality ingredients...

Lettuce mix (we had Rochon Farm)
Balsamic (aged yummy yummy yummy)
Olive oil (again, good quality. Very delicate)
Salt and pepper
Minced garlic

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

3 courgettes
1 clove garlic, minced
5 large leaves basil
Flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp Balkan style yoghurt
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Radish

From our garden.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rose & Rhubarb. Drink Me.

I am dreaming of this over ice. On a very hot day.

I went to The Beast and picked it all. Au revoir rubarbe.

Roses are plentiful in front of our house, so I decided to add a few to the mix for color.

Rose and Rhubarb Syrup

Rose petals.

I simmered the rhubarb and sugar for about 4 hours. Then added the herbs for about 40 minutes and the rose petals for the last 10. Adjust the sugar to your liking. Strain.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Garden - it's growing.

Yep, it's growing!

My rhubarb is still going crazy - I will attempt to make rhubarb syrup this week. Scott and Kelly have totally inspired me!

Swiss Chard

Sweet Peas

Courgette (blossoms to stuff!)

Beets. Beets. And beets. I have so many...

We ate our first beans this weekend!

This little lettuce cannot wait to be tossed in dressing.

My fennel is wild! I had a challenge with it in the beginning as a little animal was quite fond of it. I made cages to put on top and it grew right back. My dill is taking more time to recover from the chomping...

Carrots are coming along great. We will eat our first radishes this week, they are staring to show much. My Gai Lan in the back is still struggling with the earwigs - but I keep spraying with soapy water, hopefully it will be ok.

And berries are turning red!!!!

Black Olive and Hazelnut Tapenade + Arugula Pesto

There are few things in life that make me as happy as a big feast.
I love having so many options that my hands, like butterflies, flutter from one item to the other.

As evening plans fizzled, Simon took me to the Byward Market. I had not been in so long. Nicastro's here I come!
I don't see the market in the same eye as I used to. I really dislike the displays that use multiple containers to make you feel like you are buying more. I find cheesy the printed plastic signs that they have now. More and more, I get smitten with the farmers, the families. I always go to the same. (Rochon gets a lot of my business!!!) I wish we had booths like Jean-Talon in Montreal - people actually make an effort to make it pretty & they have pride. It makes you want to buy more.

The arugula we bought in Aylmer. We were walking down the main road, and on the porch of our neighborhood bakery was a lady selling bags of beautiful greens & flowers. Beet greens and orange flowers. Assorted greens and nasturtiums. Arugula and simple white flowers... I made a pesto with the arugula and sprinkled the flower petals on our tomatoes. They looked like butterfly wings.

The tapenade was so delicious. I will definitely redo this - hazelnuts were a wonderful addition.

I have to admit that the thing that makes me happiest in life is sharing these meals with my man. He makes me feel beautiful, and talented, and always cheers me up.
(Even when I get pooped on the head by a passing bird)

Black Olive and Hazelnut Tapenade

2 cups olives
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
3 big leaves basil

Arugula Pesto

3 cups arugula (more if storebought... does not taste as much!)
1/2 cup light tasting oil (canola is what I used)
Juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Tofu Salad

There are a few things I do when my man is not home for dinner...

*I listen to music that he would not like, really loud. Even though we met in a musical context, we don't always have the same tastes.
*I go out for sushi with friends.
*I eat tofu.
*I go out for sushi with friends and eat fried tofu.
*I watch really cheesy sad movies with the friends I ate sushi and tofu with.
wow. endless possibilities with very little variables.

So, tofu.
I fell in love with the thing in high school. I ate silken for dessert. Craved the firm one in sauces.
Then hated it for a few years when other people cooked it. Like burnt toast. Drowned in soy sauce.

There was a chunk of it in the fridge. It had been there for about a week. I often give Simon two options for dinner - of course, tofu never wins. As I biked home I imagined the possibilities with what was in the fridge... I ate two bowls of this.

Tofu Salad

1 block tofu, cubed
2 Tbsp Nam Plau
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 bird's eye chili, minced
Salt and pepper

2 handfuls baby tomatoes, halved
2 large handfuls honey peas, sliced on the bias
1 large green onion (in this case purple, local and delicious!)
1 red pepper, cubed
Juice of 1 large lime
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp chili oil
1/4 cup mint
1/2 cup coriander

Mix the first set of ingredients. Cook at 300 on a parchment lined baking sheet (go pump air in your tires, stretch, pull out weeds from the garden, prep your veggies...)

Mix the second set of ingredients. Delicately incorporate the tofu, taste and adjust seasoning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Am I Mango Crazy?

Since last Sunday, I think we ate mango every day. Is mango my 'bacon-fruit'?
Is my subconscious telling me that mango makes everything taste better?

This was our lunch.

Black beans, mango, avocado, lime, cucumber, green onion, cumin, sambal, canola oil.

We had surprise guests for dinner, let's make a big salad. With mango.

Spicy chicken, mango, roasted red and yellow pepper, cucumber, mint, cilantro + avocado dressing (avocado, roasted tomato, cumin, garlic, green onion whizzed up with some olive oil, lime, salt and pepper)

And corn chips. Yes, you see corn chips in the salad. Blame it on the Black Tomato.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sweet Chili and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp, Avocado & Mango Salad

Everything about this was perfect for how I felt last night.
I played in the garden. We biked to the beach. I was tired. And this meal attacked me with all its bold flavours and crunchiness.

For the shrimp
2 tsp cumin, ground with a mortar & pestle
1 Tbsp red Szechuan pepper, ground with a mortar & pestle
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce (Nam Plau)
1 bird's eye chili, finely minced
Juice of 1 lime

For the mango avocado salad
1 mango, cubed
1/2 avocado, cubed
3/4 cup chopped cucumber
chopped red onion
Juice of 1/2 lime
Sambal Olek
Canola oil (just a bit)
Salt and Pepper

For the sprout salad
3 cups sprouts
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green onion, sliced on the bias
black sesame seeds
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Katie's Baby Shower

The planning for this baby shower officially started about a month ago.
Four girls eating a really rich and delicious breakfast (I dared take the steak and eggs at Murray Street) and questioning themselves about what truly makes a delightful baby shower.

a) food.
b) friends
c) games?

No games. We did not want games, but rather something made with our own little hands to give to the mom-to-be. So scratch out the c) option and replace with 'a piece of all of us'.

I was in charge of food, and the three other ladies busied themselves with all the rest : the invite (was Katie going to have a boy, a girl or a cat?), flowers (Bel Fiore we love you!!!), music, and most importantly, the hand made gift. From a mountain of fabric, lace & ribbon, all of us were to make a flag for a garland... how fabulous is that? Everyone needs friends like these. Beautiful, smart, creative, loyal, extraordinary.

Sangria? Lemonade?

As a starter, a mango and grapefruit salad
(mango, grapefruit, red onion, cilantro, mint, chili, lime zest + juice)
Also, we had gazpacho - I erased the picture!!! Oupsy!

Vegan tacos & beef tacos. Those who eat 3 win extra brownie points.

Katie's request: a chocolate pound cake.

A sweet ending with ice cream, fudge sauce, butterscotch sauce... and my finger in the picture.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Will this week ever end?

I have to admit that this week has been a challenge.
I even gave in to ordering pizza to Simon's grand delight. It took about 10 minutes for him to talk me into it. I had remorse for about another 10, and then I was quite relieved to be going on with my little projects.

To save some time, I started the week by marinating some pork tenderloin in a very neutral marinade of soy & canola oil. These tender little pieces were skewered and smothered with a caramelized onion & balsamic paste (instant upgrade on the taste!!! ) and we ate those with a rhubarb compote (rhubarb, balsamic, maple, lots of pepper) & orange/watercress salad.

The second half of the pork was spiced up with sambal, given a little twist of lime and we ate it with a mango salsa.

The rest of the week was pretty typical. Soba noodle salad and salad rolls. Big veggie salad. Fish. The treat? Peameal. Quick. Easy. Salty. Yum.

Last night was my mum's bday. All plates were licked clean.

Tonight, I am eating out with a friend and we are wandering over to Wakefield, even though it is not quite sunny... My art is done, varnished, labeled, packaged and ready to go! What a relief. And tomorrow? The wonderful frenziness of a baby shower. Stay tuned for Katie's Food Extravaganza!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

We all have memories attached to certain foods, dishes, ingredients.
Strawberry rhubarb pie is one of my favorites. Wait, it IS my favorite.

Of course, when you first meet someone, you prepare something you love and feel comfy with. When I met Chloé, I made strawberry rhubarb pie.

It was a sunny morning. We had decided to eat in the park across the street from her house with her daughter. I brought a huge pie. It was love at first sight - not the pie, but Chloé. You know when you meet someone and you have so much in common that you think the other one is just saying things to make you feel comfortable? That they have to be lying because it can't be the same as you. Well, it was. We loved food. We loved retro/antique stuff. We loved wearing cute dresses. Making heart shaped cakes. Same music. Bold colors. Shoes. And again, food. Making it, eating it.

The first time Chloé came to my apartment (6 years ago Chloé!!! Can you believe it?) she spontaneously asked if she could look through my cupboards, curious to see what I cooked and baked with. I will remember this forever. My pantry is a mess lately... How about yours, could we peek in right now?

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie
(yes, raspberry, I had no strawberries...)
For the filling

4 cups rhubarb
2 pints raspberries
1 cup sugar
zest of one orange
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp small tapioca
1 Tbsp flour
1/3 cup butter

note to self: buy a pie pan - making pies in springform pans is ridiculous.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hazelnut, Pear & Dates

I am suddenly having a crazy week.
It seems that I had committed to an art show...but totally forgot. This does not happen to me, I am sooooo organized for art and never take more than I can chew.
A little 'ping'! came through yesterday afternoon, a reminder email that the show was about a week away.
What show? non. merde.

This means I have to plan out certain things a bit better - like food.
I usually wake up and start thinking about what I would like to eat today. Breakfast and dinner, then lunch if we have no leftovers. I normally take my sweet old time...

So this morning I tried thinking ahead a bit with what is in the fridge.
Luckily, Sunday morning, I did quite an efficient clean - made compote with leftover fruit, stock with leftover veggies, pureed, mashed, froze...

I baked muffins this morning with a pear compote made yesterday.
Follow this recipe. Or this recipe and replace the apple compote with pear. Add dates. Add nutmeg. Eat. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scallops and Asparagus Risotto

Inspired by Rachelle & Ryan and by seeing so many asparagus recipes on Scott's blog...

I went to Hartman's for the first time yesterday and was surprised at how beautiful the produce and seafood were. I bought some scallops, they were huge! Some were eaten with the risotto, some are now marinating in lime juice for my ceviche lunch.

I never measure for risotto. For inspiration, here is what I put in it:
Pinot Grigio, Vermouth, French shallots, Homemade Chicken Stock, Parma, Lemon Zest.
The scallops were cooked in bacon fat. Bacon Candice. Bacon everywhere.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dill and Lemon Salmon Croquettes with Asparagus and Arugula Lemon Cream

I am so lucky. I step out of my office and voilà, the Parkdale market right in front of me.
Like a trained puppy, I go straight to the Rochon Farm booth.

They had beautiful asparagus - I had leftover salmon.

Dill and Lemon Salmon Croquettes with asparagus and sweet peas & arugula and lemon cream

For the Croquettes.

Leftover salmon, cooked, flaked (I had about 12 oz of scraps)
1 cup panko
1 egg
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped dill
1 French shallot
Salt and Pepper

Mix well and form into patties. Cook in very hot oil until golden and crispy.

For the Lemon & Arugula Cream

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream, whipped
Zest of half a lemon
Zing of lemon juice
Big handful of arugula, chopped
2 cloves garlic (I love garlic though, you can do with one...)
Lots of fresh pepper, a bit of salt

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rhubarb Crumble

Déjà vu?

It was time to cut some rhubarb again. I am so afraid that earwigs will find a comfy home that I try to cut it before it gets too bushy.

Simple Simple Crumble.

4-5 cups rhubarb
1 Tbsp small tapioca
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
ground nutmeg

1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter (adjust, it needs to just come together, you may need more)

Mix the first set of ingredients, put in a baking dish. Cook for 10-15 minutes @ 350 until the rhubarb begins to soften.

Mix the second set of ingredients. Top the rhubarb and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until crumble is golden.
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