Week of November 24, 2014

I am a bit behind on meals this week. After a crazy-busy, wonderful, refreshing, much-needed weekend with my best bud who was visiting from Montreal, I am now scrambling to get ready for a trip to Ottawa tomorrow where I will be visiting the French embassy with L’Oréal. Eee!! I’m so excited!

Anyway, for now here are only Monday’s and Tuesday’s meals, and hopefully I can pick up where I left off when I return from Ottawa on Wednesday (with stories about the embassy, of course!)

Update: I’m back! The trip to Ottawa was fantastic! What a fun evening — I got to meet & talk to such interesting and inspiring women in science, and even got to meet the French Ambassador.

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He approached me personally (!) to ask  questions about personal experiences he has had with Alzheimer’s disease. I felt so important! It was a really fun and special night. I’m so glad I went. 🙂


Monday – White fish with lemony golden potatoes

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I found this side dish recipe in the newest issue of Food & Drink. It’s fast, easy and sounds delicious! The lemony tang is very robust, so serve this with a simple white fish fillet of your choice, natural with salt & pepper, pan-fried or oven roasted.

Ingredients

  • 8 small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients in an oven-safe dish. Bake for 50 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through cook time.
  3. Serve with simple white fish.

Tuesday – Chicken with prunes and onions

Photo cred: Blue Kitchen

A straightforward recipe from Blue Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted prunes, about 20
  • 2/3 cup apple juice, divided
  • 4 each, chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin-on, bone-in
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsps olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 cups sliced onions, about 2 medium
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tbsps chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine prunes with half of the apple juice. Bring to a boil and cook until almost all the juice is absorbed. Cover and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan large enough to hold chicken in a single layer. Let the pan get good and hot, then brown chicken on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Do this in batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding chicken. It will brown better this way. When you’re braising it later, crowding isn’t an issue. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. Spoon off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions until they’re translucent and beginning to soften, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes. If pan seems dry, drizzle in a little more oil. Create a hole in the center and add garlic and half the sage. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Pour in the rest of the apple juice and cook until almost evaporated, scraping up any browned bits in the pan.
  3. Add the prunes with any liquid, the broth and the bay leaf. Nestle chicken pieces in among the prunes and onions. Sprinkle remaining sage over the pan, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Stir vinegar into cooking liquid and reduce until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf, taste sauce and adjust seasonings. Serve chicken with rice, if desired, spooning the prunes, onions and sauce over both.

Wednesday – Gai yang over jasmine rice

Photo cred: Poulet

I found this recipe flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, PouletI haven’t tried this particular recipe yet, but I found a review on Seriouseats.com that called it “one of the best grilled chicken recipes we’ve come across in a while“. I’m all for giving it a try!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 1 large bunch cilantro with stems, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsps raw sugar
  • One 3- to 4-pound chicken

Instructions

  1. Combine the garlic, peppercorns, cilantro, fish sauce, and sugar together in a mortar. Using a pestle, pound into a paste. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and peppercorns with the side of knife, chop the coriander and garlic as finely as you can, and stir well in a bowl. You won’t have a paste, but it’ll be just fine.)
  2. Place the chicken on a baking sheet/tray or in a roasting pan and slash across the breast, thighs, and legs. Rub the spice paste all over the chicken and into the cuts you’ve made. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour and for to 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (If refrigerating, return the chicken to room temperature for 30 minutes or so to take the chill off before you cook it.)
  3. Preheat the BBQ grill to medium. Use well-cured grate and scrub it clean with a wire brush. Butterfly the chicken. Put the chicken skin-side down on the grate, laying it flat. Let cook for 5 minutes or so before you move it. After that, flip the chicken every 5 minutes or so to keep it from sticking and to keep from burning the skin. Because you have a whole butterflied chicken, most of the time on the grill will be spent skin-side down. Cook the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes. A few black spots in this case are in the spirit of the meal.
  4. Transfer the cooked chicken from the grill to a cutting board. Using a cleaver (or your biggest, sharpest knife) chop the whole chicken into a dozen pieces or so — right through the bones! Serve the chopped chicken on a platter with jasmine rice.

Thursday – Moroccan carrot-sweet-potato soup

Photo cred: Taste.com

This will be my use-only-the-ingredients-I-already-have recipe for the week. I had so. many. carrots leftover from past veggie baskets that I didn’t know what to do with, but when I saw the yams in my basket this week, I immediately thought of cumin and was inspired. I worked from the basics of this recipe, and modified it slightly.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
  • 4 cups peeled, diced carrots
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and carrot. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add stock. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  2. Blend soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Friday – Chard orzo with salmon

Photo cred: Ricardo

I never really know what to do with chard. I find it too tough to eat raw, and too soggy sautéed. But I know it’s good for me, and it came in my basket this week, so I went hunting for something to do with it. I came across this 5-star-rated simple chard pasta dish by Ricardo that can be served as a side with salmon – hurrah!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 10 swiss chard leaves
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cut the chard stems from the leaves. Coarsely chop the stems and set aside. Coarsely chop the leaves and set aside separately.
  3. In the same saucepan over medium heat, soften the chard stems in the oil, about 2 minutes. Add the chard leaves and garlic. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and reduce by half. Add the orzo and cook until the broth is absorbed.
  4. Adjust the seasoning. Serve with simple poached salmon.

Week of November 17, 2014

Yesterday JW and I got back from the most cozy, relaxing weekend in the woods! We rented a car and drove to Goderich, where we spent the weekend snuggled up in a tiny cabin by the fire. We saw the first snow of the season, went walking in the woods and on the beach by lake Huron, and ate the. most. delicious. little doughnuts at a local bakery!

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What a wonderful weekend, we’re already planning on returning! ♥


Monday – Ful Mudammas

Photo cred: DedeMed

This recipe was shared with me by my brother-in-law, who made this for breakfast last Christmas when we were visiting. I love the lemony tang, and the beans make it so filling and satisfying! You may eat it with pita or, for a more hearty dinner dish, over rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-oz.) can fava beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 3 medium radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a 2-quart pot over medium-low heat, combine chickpeas, fava beans, and water. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour bean mixture into a large bowl, and add garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Stir and smash half of beans with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Sprinkle cayenne over beans, and evenly distribute parsley, tomatoes, and radishes over top. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday – Roast fish and veggies

Photo cred: Qlinart

One reason I liked this recipe is that it’s an option for grilled fish without having to fire up the grill in this snowy weather. I’m going to serve this with pan-fried broccolini and maybe some crusty bread to sop up the wine sauce. 🙂

Ingredients

  • One whole fish with head
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 2 yellow zucchinis cut in 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 handful of red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 stems of coriander or parsley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 350 F.
  2. Rub the fish with coarse sea salt, 1/2 tsp chili flakes inside and out. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in skillet and grill the fish on both sides until the skin is crispy, but the flesh is still pink.
  3. In a pan mix zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, remaining amount of chili flakes, olive oil, wine, pinch of salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of vegetable/wine mix and bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes until meat of fish is white. and vegetables lightly roasted.
    Serve with coriander and parsley.

 Wednesday – Crockpot Santa Fe chicken

Photo cred: SkinnyTaste

This recipe was voted “most saved recipe” by Ziplist in 2012 (they have over 800K recipes)! And it’s easy-peasy, so that’s a plus 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken broth, beans (drained), corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crockpot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  2. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste. Serve over rice or tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Thursday – Spaghetti squash sausage lasagna boats

Photo cred: SkinnyTaste

I can’t wait to try this slightly-more-healthy alternative to traditional lasagna from Skinny Taste. It will be the perfect use for the spaghetti squash that’s in my basket this week.

Ingredients

  • 3 small to medium spaghetti squash (about 5 cups cooked)
  • salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley (or basil)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk shredded mozzarella cheese

For the sauce:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz Italian chicken sausage
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil

Instructions

  1. 
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Season lightly with salt and black pepper; bake about 1 hour, or longer if needed on a baking sheet, cut side down.
  2. In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  3. 
In a large deep sauté pan, heat oil and add onions and garlic; sauté on medium-low for about 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up into smaller pieces until browned and cooked through. When cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add the bay leaf and cover, reducing heat to low. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, then add in fresh basil at the very end.
  4. 
When spaghetti squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes keeping the oven on. When it is cool enough to handle, use a fork to remove flesh, which will come out in spaghetti looking strands reserving the shells. Drain the squash on a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid, then toss with half of the sauce.
  5. Place the spaghetti squash back into the 6 shells and place on a baking sheet. Top each with remaining sauce, 1 tbsp ricotta cheese mixture, and 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until everything is hot and the cheese is melted.

Friday – Pork chops with balsamic caramelized pears

Photo cred: All Recipes

This recipe looks like it needs lots of marinating, but I think it will be worth it! I stole the original from All Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 5 tbsps kosher salt
  • 2 tbsps white sugar
  • 6 pork loin chops, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Vidalia onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 pears, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the water, kosher salt, and sugar. Add pork chops to this brine, and let them soak for no more than one hour. Drain and discard the brine. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels.
  2. In a shallow dish, stir together the olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Place pork chops in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 or 2 hours.
  3. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/2, about 10 minutes. When the vinegar cools, it should be the consistency of syrup.
  4. Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat. Add the onions and pears, and quickly brown being careful to keep the wedges intact. Once the onions and pears are browned, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the reduced vinegar and salt. The recipe can be prepared up to this point several hours before grilling.
  5. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat.
  6. Warm pears on a cool section of the grill (in the skillet), while placing the pork chops over the hot part. Cook pork for about 3 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Remove to a serving plate, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for a few minutes. Uncover, top with the pear onion sauce, and serve.

Week of November 10, 2014

I just back from the grocery store and I am really excited about the meals this week! I re-discovered one of my old favorite food blogs, Qlinart,  which was my go-to site for Asian-inspired dishes when I first moved into my own place and began cooking for myself. This week, for some reason I’m really in the mood for precisely that type of food, as you will see from my menu.

Friday, JW and I will be going to a cottage we rented in the Georgian Bay. It’s our anniversary, and we wanted to do something special, so we’re stealing off for a few days to a rustic log cabin in the woods just off Lake Huron. Looking forward to it! ♥


Monday – Lemongrass chicken

Photo cred: Qlinart

I’ve made this many times, and it really is best on the BBQ, but if the weather is too chilly the oven certainly does the trick. I find the original recipe is a little heavy on the oil, so I’ve reduced it a tad.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole grain-fed chicken
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil
  • 4 tbsp finely minced lemon grass (about two stems of lemongrass)
  • 6 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 3 tsps hot chili flakes
  • 1 tsp hot chili paste
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt(or to taste)
  • 2 tsps ground pepper

Instructions

  1. To prepare the marinade, mix well all above ingredients (except chicken) in a bowl with a spoon.
  2. Spatchcock the chicken (flatten the chicken for the grill or the oven roast) and rub the skin and the interior with the prepared lemongrass-garlic-chili marinade. Let marinate for 24 hours or overnight in a well-sealed container.
  3. Having been marinated overnight, the chicken is ready to be grilled in the BBQ or roasted in the oven. When grilling on the BBQ, set the temperature to medium-high and keep the BBQ lid closed, but make sure to flip the chicken once in a while to maintain an even grill and avoid burning. The chicken should be cooked between an hour and an hour and a half.
  4. If oven roasting, set the temperature to 350F. Place the chicken in an oven bag and follow instructions. It’s really worth it to use the oven bag – it cuts down the roasting time by almost half and makes the most tender and juiciest bird ever. Roast the chicken in the oven bag for about an hour and a half until the skin is golden brown. (Without an oven bag, roast for 2 and half hours.) Once the skin is golden brown, it’s a good indication that the meat is cooked. The juices at the bottom of the pan is a good sign that the chicken is moist and tender. Remove and discard the oven bag and the juices. To add that final “grilled” touch, place the chicken in the oven and “broil” for about 2-3 minutes until parts of the skin are slightly burnt. And voilà, oven-roasted-broiled chicken without the BBQ.

Tuesday – Braised chicken with winter squash tagine

Photo cred: Qlinart

We bought too many squash (squashes?) for last week’s stuffed squash recipe, so I thought I would use my single leftover gourd in this recipe. Also, I was just thinking that I haven’t used my tagine in literally years, what a perfect excuse!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut in large chunks
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large winter squash, diced 1 inch chunks
  • 6 dates, pitted
  • 1 orange peel
  • handful of fresh coriander to garnish, coarsely chopped
  • roasted slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Heat oil in the tajine base and stir in the onions, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon and saffron for about 2 minutes or until the onions have softened a little.
  3. Gently add the chicken and stir until all sides are lightly browned. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and lower the heat the medium, cover with Tajine lid (dome), and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the squash by carefully peeling and dicing it. Remove dome and add in the diced squash, the orange peel and the dates. Put the lid back on and carefully place the tajine in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes. (Edit – I made this tonight and 20 minutes was definitely not long enough. The chicken was still raw and the squash was rock-hard. I extended the cooking time to a total of 60 minutes). Spices should slowly infuse in the chicken and squash, giving the dish incredible flavour.
  5. When done, remove from the oven, slowly remove the lid and sprinkle the coriander and almonds. Serve with couscous, rice or a side dish of vegetables.

 Wednesday – Green Thai curry shrimp soup

Photo cred: Food52

This recipe was given to me by word-of-mouth from my friend Amé. It’s so easily adapted to incorporate any veggies, chicken, or whatever, and it’s the perfect soupe-repas.

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice from one lime
  • About 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Half a pound of raw shrimp
  • 2-3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can low-fat coconut milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 package vermicelli (angel hair) noodles
  • Asian veggies of your choice (watercress, mushrooms)

Instructions

  1. Heat some olive oil in a stockpot. Sauté the ginger and garlic for a few seconds, and add the shrimp until the meat just begins to turn pink. Add the zest, lime juice and curry paste. Mix well so the shrimp is coated with everything.
  2. Add the coconut milk and the broth. Bring to a boil. then reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until you’re sure the shrimp are cooked through.
  3. Add the vermicelli and veggies, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve piping hot.

Thursday – Grilled pork chops with lemongrass and ginger

Photo cred: Qlinart

Pork was crazy cheap this week, and so to continue with my Asian food fetish this week here is a lemongrass-marinated pork recipe. I have again reduced the oil but otherwise it’s copied verbatim from the original.

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops with bone
  • 1 stalk lemon grass (remove hard surrounding shell with your hands, and chop finely the inner softer stalk)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp raw cane sugar (or ¾ tsp regular sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put the pork chops in a large freezer bag and flatten with a rolling pin or a meat tenderizing hammer. Transfer to another large freezer bag and add in the lemongrass, garlic, ginger sugar, fish sauce and chili flakes. Drizzle in the oil over the meat and spices.
  2. Close the bag and shake well and give the pork a good massage with your hands so as to mix in the spices well. Lay bag on a large plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Before grilling, take out the bag and leave at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove marinated pork from the bag. Grill both sides on the barbecue for about 5-7 minutes each side until well done.
  5. Slice the pork and serve with fresh lettuce and rice vermicelli. You can also wrap the pork slices in rice paper to make fresh spring rolls.

Friday – Linguine with chard and shrimp

Photo cred: EatingWell

As I mentioned, JW and I will be out of town this Friday but I did find this tasty recipe that I might have made if I were home.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat linguine
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp, (16-20 per pound)
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 16 cups thinly sliced chard leaves
  • 1/4 cup clam juice, or water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 lemon wedges, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook linguine until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add garlic and the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Add chard in handfuls, stirring until it wilts before adding more; cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Whisk clam juice (or water) and cornstarch in a small bowl then add to the pan; simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the pan, add lemon juice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  4. Drain the linguine and return it to the pot. Add the sauce; toss to coat. Serve with lemon wedges.

Week of November 3, 2014

What a crazy last couple of days. I had no time at all to plan my meals as usual on Sunday, as I was so worked up about a big event this morning at work — I was scheduled to be interviewed to talk about my research for the Women In Science program for L’Oréal. I was very excited and honored, but also very nervous… All told, I think it went well! Now that I’m home, I can finally sit back with a glass of wine and all my cookbooks! 🙂


Monday – Mustard-honey pork chops

Photo cred: Pinch of Lime
Photo cred: Pinch of Lime

When I got home from work after my exciting/stressful day of interviewing, JW had dinner all prepared. I think he was inspired by this recipe I found recently over at Food — the original has been slightly modified.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork chops (or chicken, if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 cup old-style (grainy) mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, fry the pork on both sides until brown on the outside.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in a small bowl to combine; set aside.
  3. When the pork is nice and brown, pour the mustard mixture over the chops and let simmer until the pork is cooked through. Serve with salad.

 Tuesday – Acorn squash stuffed with farro

This recipe came in my Food & Drink magazine during the autumn. I folded back the page, knowing I would want to try it soon enough. The original calls for pancetta, but I’m going to make it vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 3 small acorn squash
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • Pinch red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Put the halves facing down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine stock and farro. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until farro is tender but still a bit chewy. Drain any excess liquid and transfer farro to a bowl.
  3. In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, thyme, paprika and red chili flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add sherry (or wine) and simmer, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add to farro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and fill the squash bowls with the farro mixture. Bake stuffed squash, uncovered, until stuffing is hot throughout, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday – Curried lentils and sweet potatoes

Photo cred: Smitten Kitchen

This veggie recipe is only minimally tweaked from Deb’s original over at Smitten Kitchen, which calls for Swiss chard (I will replace with spinach).

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
  • 2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Instructions

  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. (Add more stock as needed.) In the last 5 minutes, add chopped spinach. Just before serving, stir in lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish.

Thursday – Cod fish soup

Photo cred: Jamie Oliver

Cod is on special this week at my grocery store, and I really felt like some hot fish soup this week. I came across Jamie Oliver’s recipe, and adapted it to fit my taste and the ingredients I have on hand this week.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and finely sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups organic stock
  • 1 kg cod fillet
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, slowly fry onion and leek with olive oil for 5 minutes until soft and tender.
  2. Add potatoes to the pan. Give everything a good stir and then add the anchovies. Turn the heat up and add the white wine. Allow to cook down by half before adding your milk and stock.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour until the potatoes are tender. At this point, add cod and simmer for 15 minutes until the flesh flakes away. Season to taste, and serve hot.

Friday – Pearl barley orzotto with wild mushrooms

Photo cred: À la Claude

Apparently, according to Food & Drink, risotto with barley is a thing. I’m pretty excited because the original recipe indicates that “the barley version has the advantage of needing less attention at the stove: just add the stock and let it simmer.” Excellent!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 pkg (15 g) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 leek (white and pale green part only, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 1 cup red wine, such as Gamay or Pinot Noir
  • 6 cups beef stock (approx.), divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped chives
  • additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add cremini mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring often, until any liquid exuded by mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms are browned and tender, about 8 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. In a 1-cup microwaveable measure, combine water and porcini mushrooms.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and pierce a few holes in wrap.  Microwave at high power for 30 seconds, then let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain porcini, discarding water.  Rinse and drain mushrooms, pat dry and chop finely.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter with remaining oil over medium heat.  Add porcini mushrooms, leek and rosemary.  Cook, stirring often, until leek is soft but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add barley, stirring to comine with porcini mixture.  Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until most of the wine has been absorbed by barley.
  5. Add 5 cups stock and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally until most of stock has been absorbed an barley is tender buy chewy, about 40 minutes.  Add addition stock if barley has absorbed all the stock before it becomes tender.
  6. Stir in cremini mushrooms, Parmesan, remaining butter and all but 1 tbsp chives.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon orzotto into a warm serving dish and scatter with remaining chives.  Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese.