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. ♥
– Zucchini, leek and bacon pasta
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Return bacon to skillet with the veggies and stir in pasta. Gently mix in sour cream and season with black pepper and parsley.
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!
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.
- 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
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook potatoes, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir dill into stew; season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Check the seasoning before serving and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the rice, bring to boil with occasional stirring, cover and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked.