Week of February 23, 2015

JW and I stayed up way too late watching the Oscars last night. We’ve never really watched the Oscars before, but Neil Patrick Harris was hosting and we really like him so we figured we’d watch. We now have a new list of movies we want to see — we hadn’t seen any of the nominated films, but they all look excellent. First one on our list: Birdman! We will probably settle in with some popcorn on Thursday. Looking forward to it!


 Monday – Vietnamese salmon

Photo cred: Qlinart
Photo cred: Qlinart
This recipe is from an old blog I loved and followed for years. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since 2012 but I continue to go back to it when I’m craving Asian flavors.

Ingredients

For the salmon

  • 2 lb salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger

For the dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp thinly sliced cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Marinate salmon fillet in fish sauce, oil, lemon, garlic and ginger for about an hour. Once marinated, broil salmon for 5 minutes in the oven. Turn off broil and leave salmon to bake for max 10 minutes in low heat at 200 F to make sure salmon is not overcooked, but nice and moist.
  2. While salmon is cooking, combine ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl. Serve alongside the cooked fish.

 Tuesday – Szechuan pork

Photo cred: Qlinart
Photo cred: Qlinart

Another recipe from the (sadly retired) Asian blog I mentioned above, Qlinart. The original recipe suggests to stuff the pork loin with a cup of fresh sage, but I’m actually not a fan of sage so I think I’ll stick to just simple Szechuan peppercorn, lemongrass and garlic.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork loin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorn flavored salt
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small brown paper bag for roasting

Instructions

  1. With a sharp knife, slice into the center of the pork loin and open it up so the pork loin looks like one thick layer of meat. Place on a cutting board (inside up). Drizzle some olive oil on the entire inner surface of the pork.
  2. Rub in vigorously half the amount of the Szechuan peppercorn flavored salt (about 3/4 tbsp). Spread the garlic slices over the surface of the pork. Roll the pork tightly closed.
  3. Season the outer surface of the pork with the flavored salt (about 3/4 tbsp, or to taste, go with your instinct) and the lemongrass, and drizzle a bit more olive oil on the entire surface.
  4. Tightly wrap the pork loin in plastic film. Let it chill in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.
  5. For even roasting, let pork sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Place rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 360F. Apply olive oil to brown paper bag with a pastry brush (IMPORTANT: bag must be thoroughly greased throughout so that it doesn’t burn and it will seal in the steam). Roast for about 40 – 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, open bag; be careful of steam inside of bag. Return pork into the oven and broil for about 10 minutes for a darker brown color.

 Wednesday – Tallboys

It’s a friend’s birthday on Wednesday and so we will be having dinner at Tallboys, a microbrewery downtown. I think I may have one of their yummy-looking burgers…!


Thursday – Thai roasted carrot and beet soup

Photo cred: Mama Earth
Photo cred: Mama Earth

This recipe came in my vegetable basket this week, along with 2 lbs of beets and carrots. I love the deep, rich color – and of course, the fact that it is packed with nutrients! I will probably serve this with leftover pork or salmon.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb red beets
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 2-3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop the beets and carrots into 1 inch pieces. Toss on a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tbsp. of olive oil and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Transfer to your pre-heated oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, stirring halfway. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat sauté the chopped onion in the remaining tbsp. of olive oil until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the red curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, another 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, the roasted vegetables and the remaining ½ tsp. each of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are very soft.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the stovetop over low-medium heat to re-warm. Stir in the coconut milk, reserving 1 to 2 tbsp. for garnish. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with the reserved coconut milk.

Friday – The Regal Beagle

place_13195

We’re planning on eating out on Friday again, as JW’s friends are organizing something at the Regal Beagle pub to kick off the weekend!

Week of February 16, 2015

Apologies – I had to take another week off. I’ve been working a ton lately, trying to get as much done as possible before the new job starts. I’ve had a bit of trouble catching my breath and decided I wasn’t going to do any meal planning; rather, I just made up combinations of ingredients I had available each evening … or let JW cook for me! How lucky am I? 🙂

We just got back from a long weekend in Niagara Falls. Because we both felt like we needed to take a breather, and because it was Valentine’s Day, JW and I decided (very spontaneously!) that we would spend the weekend eating out, drinking good Niagara wines, playing (losing!) at the Fallsview casino, reading a good book, and soaking in our hotel’s jacuzzi. It was wonderful. ♥


 Monday – Zucchini, leek and bacon pasta

carbonara-pasta-spaghetti

Today was Family Day, a public holiday in Ontario. Unfortunately, we realized too late that all the grocery stores had closed early because of the holiday! We were left to throw something together with what we had in the fridge. We found inspiration at All recipes, and only made a few tweaks to work with what we had on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package pasta
  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 leek (white and light green part only), sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley, or to taste
  • 1 small zucchini

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta at a boil, stirring occasionally, until cooked through yet firm to the bite, about 8-10 minutes; drain.
  2. Fry diced bacon in a large skillet until browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon into a bowl with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. In a clean skillet, cook and stir leek and zucchini until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Return bacon to skillet with the veggies and stir in pasta. Gently mix in sour cream and season with black pepper and parsley.

Tuesday – Eating out: Kingyo

Photo cred: Kingyo
Photo cred: Kingyo

My supervisor is visiting from out of town on Tuesday, so we are going to go for dinner at Kingyo, one of our favorite restaurants. The food is phenomenal — the most authentic Japanese food I’ve had outside of Japan! My personal favorites are the stone-grilled beef tongue, the fresh grilled mackerel with daikon radish, and the stone bowl slow-stewed pork belly on rice. I can’t wait!


Wednesday – Fish stew with fennel

Photo cred: Epicurious
Photo cred: Bon Appetit

JW and I are not the biggest fans of fennel, but it came in our basket this week and I immediately thought to make a fish stew, which my mom made once with fennel and it was simply divine. I found a tasty-looking recipe here.

Ingredients

  • Good glug of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces small waxy potatoes (such as baby Yukon Gold), scrubbed, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche (I actually used non-fat sour cream)
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless flounder or fluke fillet, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook potatoes, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add fennel and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is soft, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add water to pot and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10–12 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche. Add flounder, cover pot, and reduce heat. Simmer until fish is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir dill into stew; season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday – Grilled cauliflower salad

Photo cred: Stacey Snacks
Photo cred: Stacey Snacks

I’m still a little obsessed with my new Ottolenghi cookbooks. Here is a simple salad that will make good use of yesterday’s leftover dill and the cauliflower in my basket; I will serve with some fresh salmon, on special at my grocery store this week.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • Handful baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing by hand or in a food processor or blender: mix toggether the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding oil in a slow trickle. You should end up with a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  2. Add the cauliflower florets to a large pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 3 minutes only. Drain through a colander and run under cold tap water to stop the cooking. Leave to dry. Once dry, mix with another drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
  3. Place a ridged griddle pan over the highest heat and leave for 5 minutes to get really hot — alternatively, cook them on the broil setting of your oven until charred (this is probably what I will do). Grill the cauliflower in batches, making sure they’re not cramped. Turn them as they grill until nicely charred. When done, transfer to a bowl. While the cauliflower is still hot, toss with the dressing, followed by the dill, spinach and tomatoes.
  4. Check the seasoning before serving and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

Friday – Saudi rice and lamb

kebsa 3

A few weeks ago, JW took me to the House of Spice, a tiny store in Kensington Market that he thought I would like. He was so right. They had everything – spices I had never heard of, and others I’d been searching for for years! I got particularly excited when I found a bag of dried limes, which are essential for making authentic-tasting middle-eastern dishes, such as this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250 g ground lamb
  • 2 dried limes, cut into halves
  • 1⁄4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp black pepper
  • 1⁄4 tsp saffron, leaves
  • 3 lamb or beef stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 1⁄2 cups water
  • 2 1⁄2 cups basmati rice, rinsed

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Fry onions for 3-4 minutes or until golden in color then add garlic and stir for another minute.
  2. Add minced lamb and fry for 5 minutes or until it becomes brown in color. Add dried limes, spices, stock cubes and tomato paste, stir for 1 minute then add the water and bring to boil.
  3. Add the rice, bring to boil with occasional stirring, cover and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked.

Week of February 02, 2015

I’m back! I had to take a little break from meal planning and blogging. Last week was weird and crazy and uncertain and stressful, but something really exciting ended up happening amid all the mayhem — I got a job!!! I’m so excited! I’ll be covering a one-year maternity leave in a behavioral neurology clinic. I start in March! 🙂

Now that that’s all settled and I’ve recovered from the excitement, I’m ready to plan my meals for the coming week. For most of them, I turned to two new cookbooks I received at Christmas, Plenty More and Ottolenghi.


 Monday – Batata harra

Photo cred: She's cookin
Photo cred: She’s cookin

I was running out of ideas for using the boatload of potatoes we have, until I found this simple, spicy recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. He suggests serving it with a piece of fish or chicken, which I will do. This recipe makes a lot, but I love the idea of having leftovers with scrambled eggs for breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and chopped into pieces
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 
Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to completely dry.
  3. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, and spread the potatoes in a single layer. Pour both oils over the potatoes and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Mix gently, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili flakes, red bell pepper and half of the cilantro, and return to the oven for another 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the potatoes are tender and nicely browned.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature, adding the remaining cilantro just before serving.

Tuesday – Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato

honeyed chickpea sweet potato

This is my veggie dish for the week, which I’ve only barely tweaked from Ottolenghi’s original.

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 19-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 cups spinach (I will use chard)
  • Coriander leaves, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sweet potato

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the yogurt sauce

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried mint

Instructions

  1. Put the sweet potatoes in a saucepan with the water, butter, honey and salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, turning the potatoes halfway through to color evenly.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tomatoes and the ground cumin. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then add salt/pepper to taste.
  3. Stir the spinach and chickpeas into the tomato sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the coriander leaves. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top or serve on the side.

Wednesday – Chicken burgers with sunchoke fries

Photo cred: Olive & Herb
Photo cred: Olive & Herb

I had never heard of sunchokes before they appeared in my veggie basket this week. Turns out, they are the tuberous roots of a type of sunflower. I am going to make these “fries” with them, served with simple chicken burgers.

Ingredients

For the burgers

  • 1 lb ground white meat chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp finely minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sunchoke fries

  • 1 lb sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), scrubbed
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Instructions

For the burgers

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Shape into patties. Fry patties in a skillet until golden and cooked through (about 5 minutes per side) or, if you’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the cold, grill on the BBQ.

For the sunchoke fries

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Scrub the sunchokes and chop into bite-size chunks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until coated.
  3. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until the skin is slightly browned. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve plain or with a side of ketchup.

Thursday – Warm beet salad & grilled fish

Photo cred: Ottolenghi
Photo cred: Ottolenghi

I’m kind of addicted to beets these days. We keep getting them in our basket and I just love them! Ottolenghi suggests roasting them for a salad, which totally appeals to me — however, I’ve had to modify his original recipe quite a bit to fit with the ingredients I have on hand this week. I will serve with a piece of roasted white fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs red and/or golden beets
  • 3 oz sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/4 cup watercress
  • 2 cups chard, spinach or arugula
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre heat the oven too 400 degrees F. Wash the beets and wrap them in foil individually. Bake in the oven for anything from 40 to 90 minutes, depending on their size (baby beets might take even less). Check each one, as cooking times vary a lot: the beet should be tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
  2. Spread the sunflower seeds out in an ovenproof dish and toast in the oven alongside the beets for 8 minutes — just until lightly colored.
  3. Once the beets are ready, unwrap them and peel with a small knife while still warm. Cut each into halves, quarters or cubes. Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Toss well and then taste: there should be a clear sweetness balanced by enough salt. Serve warm.

Friday – Curried fish stew

Photo cred: Taste.com
Photo cred: Taste.com

I have so much leftover passata from pizza night last Friday, and when I googled “leftover passata” I found a Châtelaine page with some tasty suggestions. Here’s one.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups passata
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Madras curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 chopped white fish fillets

Instructions

  1. Pulse all ingredients except the fish in a blender. Transfer to a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add chopped fish and boil until cooked through.