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ginger scallion steamed cod + Thai pesto noodles

3 Apr

steamed fish

For this dish I used Jindao noodles, they’re sort of a thinner version of an Udon noodle and they’re soooo delicious.  You should be able to find them in any Asian market or even some well-stocked grocery stores.  If you can find them, then do use them.  If not, just substitute some other kind of noodle.

Makes 4 servings

steamed fish8

Ingredients

Thai pesto noodles

  • 2 handfuls Jindao noodles
  • 3-4 large handfuls fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • sriracha
  • salt
  • olive oil

ginger scallion steamed cod

  • 1 cod fillet
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • parchment paper
  • kitchen twine

steamed fish7

Preparation

Thai pesto noodles

Bring salted water to a boil and cook the noodles for 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the cilantro, green onion and garlic and put it in a blender or food processor.  Add the zest of two limes and the juice of one lime along with some sriracha, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of olive oil.

Blend everything, adding more olive oil if necessary to get a smooth consistency.  Add more salt and sriracha to taste.

Mix the pesto into the noodles.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

steamed fish5

ginger scallion steamed cod

Cut the fillet in half lengthwise and cut each half into four even pieces.

Rub both sides of each piece of fish with a little bit of olive oil and some salt.  Sandwich a few slices of ginger and some green onions between two pieces of fish and bundle it up in parchment paper.  Tie the bundle together with twine.  Repeat with the remaining fish.

Put the bundles in a steam basket for about 7 minutes or until the cod is opaque all the way through.

Serve with Thai pesto noodles.

steamed fish 2

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cumin scented lentil + quinoa patties with cilantro-lime crema

24 Mar

veggie burger1

I was a vegetarian for a few years… technically a pescetarian, but I ate fish very rarely.  It wasn’t an ideological stance that I was taking but rather a decision based on meat being an expense that my poor student self could easily do without.  I learned a lot about being resourceful with my food – especially alternate sources of protein – at that time and to this day most of my meals don’t center around meat.

Here’s the thing.  I like meat, a lot, but I have never had any interest in making things that are not meat taste like they are meat.  In fact, it bothers me.  I hate these “IT TASTES JUST LIKE DELICIOUS CHICKEN / BEEF TERIYAKI / ROAST TURKEY / A HAMBURGER BUT IT’S TOTALLY ACTUALLY TOFUUUU!!!!”

First of all, no.  It doesn’t taste just like a hamburger.

Second of all, you’re a cheating liar.

Third-ly of all the Tofurkey that you’re buying at the grocery store is just as salty and processed and unhealthy as a package of bologna so if you are going to eat it then at the very least make sure you get off your high and mighty vegetarian pony before you do.

I’m sorry.  I have a complex relationship with dietary restrictions.

Let’s back up.

My point is, simply, that there is a lot to love about foods that are not meat.  Just because we’re not eating meat doesn’t mean that we must try to imitate meat because there are many many other delicious things out there.

So this is my “veggie burger”.  It’s shaped in a patty shape, like a hamburger is, but there the similarity ends.  It is filling and nutritious and really really tasty in a way that’s completely different from any kind of meat.

And that is what makes it great.

Makes 6 patties

veggie burger2

cumin scented lentil + quinoa patties with cilantro-lime crema

ingredients

  • 2/3 c dry red lentils
  • 1/3 c quinoa
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small beet, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 c panko / breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 limes
  • 1 c fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 c plain yoghurt
  • alfalfa sprouts

preparation

In a saucepan, cover lentils and quinoa with a couple of inches of water.  Simmer over medium heat until lentils and quinoa are very tender – about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool.

Return saucepan to medium heat.  Add olive oil and cumin seeds.  Stir until cumin seeds begin to toast and are fragrant.  Add onion, garlic, beet, ground cumin, garam masala and turmeric.  Sautee until onions are translucent and beets are tender.  Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the pan along with a 1/2 c of chopped cilantro.

Add onion mixture to lentil mixture and stir to combine.  Mix in panko / breadcrumbs along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature then mix in the eggs.

Take a handful of the mixture and roll it into a ball in your hand then press it lightly with your palm to make a thick patty.  If the mixture seems too loose to hold together add more panko / breadcrumbs as you see necessary.

TO STORE THE PATTIES

You can keep them separated with parchment paper in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

TO COOK THE PATTIES

Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add patties and cook until golden brown then flip and cook to golden brown on the other side.  Unfortunately they’re too delicate to cook on a grill.  Don’t try it, you’ll only make a mess.

CILANTRO-LIME CREMA

Stir together the yoghurt with the remaining 1/2 c of chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

Serve the patties drizzled with crema and topped with a generous handful of sprouts.

veggie burger

lemon + fresh herb pasta

5 Jan

lemon herb pasta4At some point in the morning on New Year’s eve I said ‘Everything’s going to be closed tomorrow, I should buy groceries today’.  At no point on New Years eve did I go buy groceries for New Year’s day.

So I had a day with a very very empty fridge and a very very empty tummy.  Luckily I found a lemon and some fresh herbs left over from something I had been making a few days prior along with just enough pasta for two.

Added a few things I found in the fridge and it turned out to be a delicious meal.  So, this is my stuck-with-no-food-on-New-Year’s-day pasta.

If you want to make the dish vegetarian or if you just hate anchovies, a tablespoon of capers would be a good substitute.

Makes 2 servings

lemon herb pasta2

lemon + fresh herb pasta

ingredients

  • enough pasta for 2 people
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons – zest + juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 c good quality green olives, chopped
  • approx. 1/2 c chopped basil
  • approx. 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  • pepper

lemon herb pasta1

preparation

Cook pasta in boiling salted water and strain.

Return the empty pasta pot to the stove over medium-low heat.  Add oil and butter, heat until butter is melted.  Add garlic, lemon zest and anchovy then lemon juice.

Cook for about 30 seconds or until garlic is soft.  Turn off the heat, add olives and all but about 2 tablespoons of the chopped herbs.  Stir for a few seconds until the herbs are wilted then add the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve immediately, garnish with the remaining herbs.

lemon herb pasta

malaysian chicken curry

20 Nov

I have eaten one too many curried sweet potato soups in my day and I’m tired of curry powder.  I’m sick of it.  I never want to see it again.  I haven’t used it in years because it’s so… bleh.

Thankfully, my friend introduced me to Malaysian curry powder (thanks Stacey…) and it has renewed my faith in dried curry spice blends.  It’s just better in every way than your average curry powder.

If you’re in Toronto you can buy it at this fantastic store in Kensington.  They have everything you need and more when it comes to spices and exotic sauces plus they’re super friendly and helpful.  If you are unable to find Malaysian curry powder you can just substitute the same amount of turmeric, it’s what the original recipe I used calls for.

You can get the original Gordon Ramsay recipe I used here but I’ve written down the recipe as I ended up making it.  I made a few changes: took the seeds out of most of the chilies (because I’m a pansy), used whole chicken legs (because I’m lazy), used green onion instead of lemongrass in the curry paste (because they didn’t have lemongrass at the store that day), also I added potato (because potato!!).

Maybe I probably changed / forgot other things too.

It’s fine.  Tastes good.

P.S. I used Thai bird chilies for my curry, and I cut them up, and I didn’t wear gloves, and my hands were burning for the next two days.  Wear some rubber gloves or something, ok?  I forget every time.  Learn from my mistakes.

Serves 6 as a main dish with rice.

malaysian chicken curry

from Gordon Ramsay

ingredients

for curry paste

  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 red chilies, seeds removed from all but one, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp Malaysian curry powder (or turmeric)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil

for curry

  • 4 whole chicken legs, skin removed
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp Malaysian curry powder (or turmeric)
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 400 ml  coconut milk
  • 1/2 c water or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 large handfuls green beans, tipped and tailed
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • cilantro

preparation

In a blender or using a mortar and pestle combine garlic, chilies, green onion, ginger, shallots, curry powder and salt.  Blend, adding olive oil until it becomes a smooth paste.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat.  Add the curry paste along with 2 tsp curry powder for a minute – until fragrant.  Add onions and cook for a few minutes – until soft.  Add chicken legs.  Turn to coat in curry paste.

Add kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, coconut milk, water / stock, soy and fish sauce and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer, add potato and let cook gently for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove chicken legs and use two forks to pull the meat from the bone.  It should pull away easily into manageable chunks.  Return the meat to the curry along with the green beans and simmer for a few moe minutes – until beans are just tender.

Serve over plain basmati rice, or rice and peas, topped with cilantro leaves.

pork, fennel + white bean hand pies or: how to make it though the rest of the stew

12 Nov

so much stew…

For we noble and intelligent and attractive people trying to live and eat well on a tight budget, cold weather is our friend.  Cold weather means making huge pots of slow cooked meat, soups, stews, fresh bread; leaving the crock pot, oven, stove on all day and ending up with enough food to feed you for a week.

The key, however, is to not want to off yourself by the end of that week because you’ve eaten the same f***ing bowl of f***ing stew every day for a f***ing week.

So here’s an easy, cheap and tasty recipe that works well as a stew (either as is or with a little added broth), as a pasta sauce, and in flaky buttery hand pies.  Turning stew into pie is certainly not an innovation but these hand pies are a lot easier to make than a traditional pot pie and you get a much higher pastry to filling ratio which, for me, is a big big plus.

Makes 4 pies with 4 cups leftover stew

pork, fennel + white bean hand pies

ingredients

crust

  • 1 c unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

stew

  • 1 lb pork (I used tenderloin because I had some in my freezer but almost any cut would work) cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ground pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 generous handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered and finely sliced
  • 1 550ml can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 300ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1 splash white wine vinegar
  • 1 splash balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

from stew to pie

preparation

crust

Get the crust ready first.  Add the cold butter to the flour and salt.  Mix with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small peas.  Add water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just holds together.  There should still be visible pea-sized butter chunks, that’s what will make your crust tender and flaky.  Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and wrap each one tightly in saran wrap, pressing down to make a small flat disc.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

stew

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano and stir until onions are translucent.  Turn the heat to high and add pork.  Stir for a couple of minutes until pork begins to brown then deglaze the pan with white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar.  Add carrots, bell pepper, fennel, white beans, tomatoes and parsley.

Turn heat to low and let simmer, partially covered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the stew cool.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Roll out the pastry discs one at a time and place a few tablespoons of stew in the center of each one, leaving a 2 inch border around the filling.  Fold the top half of the pastry over the filling and fold the bottom edges in over the top crust.

Like a pizza pocket.

Brush the lightly beaten egg over the tops of the pies to make them nice and shiny – if you have a pastry brush that would be ideal, if you don’t then just dip your dainty little hands into the slimy egg and smush it all over the top of the pastry.  It works.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust turns light golden brown.

pork, fennel + white bean sauce

You can also turn the stew into a hearty pasta sauce by putting 2 cups of stew, a can of tomatoes, a pinch of salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar in a pot over medium heat while your pasta cooks.

from stew to pasta sauce

black bean + butternut squash chili

19 Sep

It sure is getting chili outside.

GET IT?

Because it’s chilly because it’s fall but I wrote chili because i made chili but chili is a thing you want to eat when it’s chilly…

there are just so many layers.

You’re welcome.

Makes 12 servings

black bean + butternut squash chili

ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, diced (about 3 cups)
  • 550ml can black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1200ml canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • sour cream

preparation

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Turn heat to high and add beef.  Cook until beef is browned.

Add beef to a crock pot along with peppers, squash, beans, tomato, chipotle and spices.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Taste the chili around the 3 hour mark and adjust spices to your taste; please note that I am a complete pansy when it comes to spice so if you follow my recipe to the letter you will have a chili with just a little bit of heat.  If you like it spicy add more chipotle and chili powder.

Garnish with cilantro, green onion and sour cream.

toasted tomato sandwich

5 Sep

Yeah, it’s just a toasted tomato sandwich.

When was the last time you had one?

I thought so.

Have a toasted tomato sandwich.

It’s a great thing.

(A special toasted tomato sandwich thank you goes out to John & Deb for fresh tomatoes and amazing spicy arugula from their garden.)

toasted tomato sandwich

ingredients

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • mayonnaise
  • arugula and/or fresh basil
  • 2 slices of bread, toasted

preparation

Put all those things together, as a sandwich.

don’t we all have mixed feelings about Java House / chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

22 Aug

If you’re from Toronto and are / have been at one point young and poor you’ve probably had the… not “pleasure”… the, experience of going to Java House.  I’ve been there a lot (not recently but that’s beside the point) and I have a tumultuous relationship with the place, as I believe many do.

There are some undeniably great features – it has a huge patio just off Queen West that’s always bursting at the seams yet always has room for you somewhere, even on the most patio friendly days of summer.  The beer is cheap, like 11$ for a pitcher of half decent beer cheap, and so is the food.  One must, however, consider that the place just feels like there are cockroaches running around the kitchen and under the kegs – I’ve never had a bad experience with that but I’ve heard enough stories to be wary – it’s fairly dingy.  The service is ok-ish but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to get separate bills for your table.  Don’t. Do it.  Oh, and I mentioned that the food is cheap… it is, really really cheap.  It is not “good”.

With one exception!  There was (as I said, I haven’t been there recently so maybe it’s gone?) a tomato chick-pea soup that I believe cost about $3 a bowl.  It was not spectacular but it was really tasty.  It was especially good when, half way through an after-work session of “beer instead of dinner will be just fine”, I realize that no I need to eat at least once a day.  Probably more.

So I feel that an homage to that fine, fine soup is in order.  My soup is better.  In fact it’s unreasonably f***ing delicious, especially considering how simple it is.

makes 6 servings

chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

ingredients

  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1 500ml can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • salt

preparation

Cut the spine out of each kale leaf.  Rinse the leaves, bunch them together and roughly chop them; you should have about 2 generous cups of chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they just begin to soften.  Add garlic, turmeric and oregano along with the chick peas.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent.  Add kale one handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  Add tomato, broth and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick, add salt to taste and serve.

Java House on Urbanspoon

basil, provolone + prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts

14 Jul

Chicken!  Prosciutto!  Basil!  Provolone!  Together at last!  On my barbecue!  And now maybe on your barbecue too!

It’s what’s for dinner.

Makes 2 servings

basil, provolone + prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts

ingredients

  • 2 small chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 50 g provolone, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • cooking twine

preparation

Butterfly the chicken breasts.

Do you want to learn how to butterfly a chicken breast from someone with a charming French-Canadian accent?  Ok… here’s Ricardo.

Thanks Ricardo.

Lay the butterflied chicken breasts out so they’re ‘open’.  Place one slice of prosciutto, 3-4 basil leaves and half the provolone in each chicken breast and close them.  Wrap one slice of prosciutto around each breast, rub the outside with a bit of olive oil and tie with cooking twine.

Heat the grill to high heat and cook the chicken until it’s seared on the outside and the juices run clear (cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken breast).

Cut off the twine and serve.

lemon + mint grilled lamb chops

8 Jul

I live in a third story apartment above a shop in Chinatown / Kensington market.  I do not have air-conditioning.  This recent heat wave has left me sweating on my couch in my underwear thinking up devious plans to get into cool places.

The best idea I had so far was to go visit my parents.  Not that getting out of the heat was my only motive, I enjoy their company very much, but they DO have central air.  It was the best.

A by-product of visiting them is always wonderful meals.  My dad is a great cook and a lot of my recipes are based on things he’s made for me in the past.  This weekend was lamb chops in a simple marinade along with an orzo salad full of cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and delicious caraffa olives.

That was yesterday, today I’m back sweating in the hot heat.  Tomorrow – water slides.

makes 2 servings

lemon + mint grilled lamb chops

ingredients

  • 6 lamb chops
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c olive oil

preparation

In a medium bowl juice the lemons, add mint, garlic and olive oil and whisk to combine.  Toss the lamb chops in the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour.

Heat grill to high heat.  Pat the meat with some paper towel to remove excess liquid and sear the lamb chops for about 5 minutes on each side.