I’ve fallen out of the blogging beat lately. As I mentioned in my last post, long hours at the office have left me feeling drained. And uninspired. I kept trying to come up with a spectacular dish or dessert to share, but I was too tired to even think of anything. It eventually dawned on me that at times like this what I need to do is focus on simplicity.
And so I made myself this simple citrus salad. It’s perfect because 1) it’s really, really easy to make 2) it’s delicious and 3) the vitamin C will give me the boost I need to tackle more complex projects, like a sandwich.
- 2 large oranges, sliced
- 2 pink grapefruits, segmented (for a tutorial on segmenting check out this post at A Thought for Food
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp wildflower honey
- a handful of pistachios
- Mix the orange juice and honey together. Toss the orange slices and grapefruit segments with the pistachios and dress with the honey mixture.
Growing up I would ask my parents to get a pool every summer. Every summer they would say no. To be honest I asked them to get a pool this summer too; still no. Sigh. I guess it’s a turtle shaped kiddie pool for me again this year.
Instead of a pool they have trees and gardens. Sitting in the backyard almost makes me forget that I’m in a city. There are two little herb gardens, tomato plants, cucumbers, peppers, all kinds of flowers and more. Birds and squirrels are regular visitors.
This weekend some raccoons also stopped by. They showed up in the middle of the afternoon, and didn’t seem to be afraid of people at all. One them came right up to the patio door knocked. He would have come and sit down to lunch if we had opened the door. They are strangely cute and terrifying at the same time. They knocked over some plants, pulled my laundry off the rack. I assume they must have been very hungry because as far as I know raccoons are nocturnal, and although I felt bad I couldn’t feed them. I wanted my backyard back. My dad eventually scared them off, and we were once again able to enjoy the day.
Along with the sage and oregano in the picture above, there is also sorrel in the garden. I had never tried sorrel until yesterday; it’s got a zesty almost lemony taste to it. I instantly wanted to make a salad with it. I had already been planning to make a salad with cherries and decided to use the sorrel as well as some baby spinach as greens. The sweetness of the cherries was a great contrast to the zesty favour of the sorrel.
Cherry and Sorrel Salad
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbps lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp fresh tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups sorrel, chopped
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved
- 6 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- In a small jar, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper together.
- Put the greens and cherries in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing.
- Plate then top with the goat cheese and hazelnuts.
How often do you make recipes from blogs? Although I read a lot of food blogs, I rarely follow recipes I’ve found on them. I read food blogs more to follow the people than the recipes. Every blogger has their own story to tell, and a style they use to tell it. My favourite blogs are the ones that engage me, the ones that give the impression I’m actually getting to know the author. Pretty pictures help too.
That’s not to say I only read blogs for the articles. The recipes inspire me. Sometimes I’ll see a blogger use an ingredient in a way I had never considered, which makes me think of other innovative things to try in the kitchen.
Other times I’m inspired by the simplicity of a recipe. This salad was inspired by a very simple pasta dish by Paula of bell’alimento. Her recipe got me thinking that pasta is the perfect showcase for some of my favourite summer ingredients.
This dish is comes together very quickly, but is still full of flavour, especially if you use fresh summer produce.
- 1 cup orzo
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 green pepper
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- zest of 1 lemon
- chives, chopped
- In a large pot, cook the orzo according to the package instructions.
- While the orzo is cooking, in a large sautee pan heat the olive oil on medium. Add the minced garlic to the oil. Once you can smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, pepper and olives. Sautee for two to three minutes; the peppers should remain crisp.
- Strain the cooked pasta, pour into a serving bowl then add the tomato mixture. Toss with the lemon zest and chives.
Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!
It’s been awhile since I last participated in a Daring Cooks Challenge. The last few months have been quite hectic, and the challenges just didn’t fit into my schedule or my menu.
This month’s challenge was a different story. Potato salad is one of my favourite summer side dishes and as soon as we planned a hamburger night I knew I’d have to make some. I headed to the market to find some inspiration, but it’s still a little early in the season for most vegetables here so the only thing that caught my eye was radishes. Their bright pink colour just spoke to me.
I decided to roast the potatoes to give this recipe a twist on a traditional potato salad, and wonder what would happen if I roasted the radishes as well. I quick Google search told me that radishes can indeed be roasted. So my salad was planned. It’s quite simple, but since I was experimenting, I didn’t want to throw too much at it. My mom repeatedly requested bacon bits, as “a little bacon never hurt anyone”, but I decided to stick to the healthy aspect of the challenge. In the end, I don’t think it needed bacon, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt. After roasting, the radishes lost their peppery flavour. Instead they were actually quite sweet, sort of like a roasted turnip.
In the future, I think I might do a combination of roasted and raw radish, to get both the sweet and peppery taste. The raw radish would also add a little crunch.
Roasted Potato and Radish Salad
- 2 lb new potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 lb radishes, cut into bite size pieces
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Toss the potatoes and radishes with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour onto a baking sheet and roast for 45 minute to 1 hour until they are cooked through and lightly browned.
- Let the potatoes and radishes cool slightly, then pour them into a bowl. Add the parsley and red onion.
- Make the dressing: Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and honey together. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad then toss to combine, making sure the salad is well dressed.
- Serve warm.
Look! I cooked!
Well, I soft boiled an egg.
That’s the extent of the cooking I’ve done lately. I haven’t bought much food in the last few days, except for fruits and vegetables. I’ve been trying to eat my way through my pantry before moving. This has led to some creative meals. (And maybe some pizza. What? I had to say bye to the delivery guy)
So when I opened my fridge and saw a total of 8 ingredients, I knew a pretty simple salad was on the way. I wasn’t to sure how this would work out, but it was actually pretty tasty. And the yellow was so pretty I decided to take a picture and blog about my thrown together salad.
I also decided to take the opportunity to try overhead versus 3/4 shots of the salad (my first Penny tip in action!) Thoughts? Preferences? I’m not sure I was really overhead on the first shot, next time I’ll get myself a prop guy to steady me as I take the shots. I’m also not sure I like either picture. I should have used a different surface, but I was hungry, and my linens are packed. If I had more ingredients I would have added something to add a little more contrast to the picture too. Next time.
Mango and Egg Salad
- 1 soft boiled egg
- 1 mango, diced
- romaine lettuce, chopped
- pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toss the mango, lettuce and pumpkin seeds together. Slice egg in half and place on salad.
- Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Dress salad with yogurt mixture.
Last night I had dinner at Au Pied de Cochon for the first time. It was an incredible meal. I shared the Foie Gras Poutine with one of my cousins. For those of you who don’t know, poutine is a Quebecois dish that consists of french fries topped cheese curds and covered in gravy. Under normal circumstances it’s delicious, but when the gravy is made with foie gras, the cheese is homemade, and the whole thing is topped with a piece of seared foie gras, it is artery clogging heaven.
As a main dish I ordered the Duck in a Can. It’s a magret duck breast with a piece of seared foie gras placed between the meat and the skin, the duck breast is then canned with wine braised cabbaged and cooked in the can. The waiter opens the can at the table and empties it onto a plate of celery root and potato puree and a piece of toast. The duck breast is perfectly cooked, and the foie gras somehow stays intact. It was incredible. For dessert I had a molten chocolate cake, which was also delicious, but I think next time I’ll have the Pudding Chomeur. Pudding Chomeur, which translates to welfare pudding, is a Quebecois dessert that was popularized during the depression. It’s a vanilla cake batter cooked in a hot sugar syrup, and the version served at Au Pied de Cochon is oh soo good.
Strangely enough, this morning I woke up with desire to eat nothing but salad. What I made was inspired by the Wild Rice Salad in Ina Gartens new book, How Easy Is That?. I was missing a couple of the ingredients, and I wanted something that could be a main course rather than a side, so I made a few changes.
Wild Rice and Chickpea Salad
- 2 cups red rice, cooked (2 cups cooked is about 1 cup raw)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one can drained
- 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup almond slivers, toasted
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- parley to garnish
- In a large bowl toss the rice, chickpeas, orange sections, cranberries and almonds together.
- In a small bowl or cup, stir together the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar and seasoning.
- Dress the rice salad with the orange juice mixture. Garnish with parsley.
Have you ever eaten so much junk you feel like you need to eat vegetables all day to clean out your insides? Maybe that’s just me. I ate an awful lot of sugar cookies this weekend, on top of a delicious but probably not so healthy meal at the Dominian Square Tavern (loved the corn fritters and homemade ketchup), so I felt like I needed a healthy veggie based meal.
Enter this Carrot and Lentil Salad. I based it very loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine. When I say based I mean I remembered seeing a salad with carrots, tomatoes and chickpeas. I didn’t have any chickpeas on hand, so I substituted lentils.
Carrot and Lentil Salad
- 1 cup french lentils
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 carrots, shredded
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the lentils: In a medium sized pot, sautee the onion until translucent. Add the lentils then cover with two cups of water. Add oregano, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer until the lentils are cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
- Toss the lentils with the carrots and tomatoes. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
It was pouring rain all day, by the time I was on my way home there were enormous puddles along the roads. Puddles that went midway up the side of a car tire. Puddles with rushing water. I had to step through one of these puddles on my way home. The moment my foot touched the water my left flip-flop was swept off my foot. I was a little shocked and didn’t realize what had happened for a few moments. By the time I did catch on, the flip-flop had made its way into speeding traffic. I thought about chasing after it, but I’m pretty sure if I had I would have been run over. So instead I walked the three blocks home with one shoe. Fun.
So to bring some sunshine into my evening I made myself a nice salad with mango, avocado, and prosciutto wrapped shrimp. Something about a nice ripe mango makes me so happy, and this one was delicious. The prosciutto also adds a really nice salty-ness to the shrimp.
Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Salad
- prosciutto slices
- mango slices
- avocado slices
- olive oil
- lime juice
- basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Wrap each shrimp in a small piece of prosciutto, the bake for 4 or 5 minutes.
- Mix olive oil, lime juice and basil leave and salt and pepper together.
- Toss mango, avocado, and spinach with dressing.
- Top with cooked shrimp.
And now I’m going to go eat some ice cream.
I’m exhausted. Five days in Las Vegas and the red-eye back can really take a lot out of a girl.
Vegas was incredible. The sights, the sounds, and the foods were all amazing. I’ve got quite a list of things I want to reproduce!
But for now I’m looking for quick and easy but delicious. I may have over indulged a little while there, so a salad is just the thing. The tough part about coming back from traveling is having no idea what will be in the fridge. I picked up some fruits and veggies this morning, and had some calamari in the freezer so I decided to throw together a roasted calamari salad.
This salad is very easy to make. Marinate the calamari for 30 minutes, throw the other ingredients together, roast the squid for 45 seconds. Then eat!
Roasted Calamari Salad
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp paprika
- nectarine wedges
- feta cheese
- Make vinaigrette. Mix red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Add calamari to vinaigrette and marinate for 30 minutes.
- While calamari is marinating, preheat oven to 450 degrees, and heat a skillet in oven till very hot.
- Once heated, use skillet to roast calamari for 45 seconds. Any more than that and the squid will be rubbery (trust me).
- Toss calamari with spinach, nectarine wedges and crumbled feta.
Today was day 2 of the Defi Bien Dans Ma Peau (which I guess would translate to the Comfortable In My Skin Challenge, but it sounds better in French). The challenge was put together by LaJulie, a nutritional coach who offers private sessions or group activities like this one or the 30 Day Sugar Free Challenge. It sounds scary, but Julie loves food and has made it her mission to teach people how to eat healthy but still get the joy that food can bring.
I did the 30 Day Challenge last November, and by the end of it I felt great. But the holidays and a tough winter health wise have led me back to my old ways. Time for a new challenge!
The Defi Bien Dans Ma Peau is a 6 week challenge. 27 of us will be saying no to refined sugars, white bread and pastas. We’ll also be doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It’s not all bad though, this time Julie is letting us have coffee (just one though), and the occasional glass of organic wine. On top of that there are weekly meetings where we will learn about a variety of topics including digestion, fitness and even an organic wine tasting! The meetings are also a chance to share with others how the challenge is going. I enjoy the group activity, its like a sugar-holics support group.You can follow our progress on Julie’s blog.
My first two days went pretty well. I caved and had an earl grey tea this morning, but I think it was more out of habit than a need for caffeine. Julie emphasizes not overcooking food, otherwise its nutrients and enzymes will be destroyed. I came across this recipe on Epicurious and thought it would be a great first dinner. It was pretty tasty. Those of you who know me will realize that is saying a lot, as I don’t often eat seafood and almost never put dressing on my salad.
Asian Noodle Dinner Salad
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 oz cooked shrimp
- 1/2 cup tomato, cut
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 small head brocoli, cut into small florets and cooked
- soba noodles (about 4 oz per person according to the recipe, but I have no idea how to measure 4 oz of noodles)
- Make dressing. Put the first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Use 2 tbps of dressing to marinate the shrimp for 10 minutes.
- Start cooking soba noodles according to package directions. Unlike traditional wheat based pasta, its important to rinse the noodles in cold water once they are cooked.
- Once marinated, pan fry shrimp 2 to 3 minutes a side. (I used coconut oil to fry the shrimp)
- Toss the noodles, veggies, shrimp and remaining dressing together.
This dish was great the night I made it, but the leftovers I had for lunch were somehow not as good. Next time I’ll leave some of the salad undressed until I’m ready to eat the leftovers. I’m new to the world of salad dressing, I’m allowed to make rookie mistakes.