Vietnamese Buns

My cousin Tamara was in town recently and that means we get to indulge in Asian flavours as we both love that style of food. This night we went to our neighbourhood Vietnamese hangout called Pho Huo’ng. The restaurant is on the corner of Pacific Ave and Dundas St. West and is a real local spot in the Junction. The restaurant is always busy but we always manage to get a table as the turn over is quite fast.

When you sit down they hand you menus and an order sheet where you write  down what you want.  The waiter swoops back and picks up your order, brings you a lovely tea and within 5 minutes your order arrives – fresh and delicious.

This night I had the lemongrass chicken bun and Tamara had the grilled chicken and pork with a spring roll bun.  Oh so good!!! Including tip and tax the meal is between $9-$10.  How can you go wrong?

For those not familiar with what a “Bun” is – it is “everything in a bowl” – fresh steamed rice noodle vermicelli on the bottom with sliced cucumber, sliced lettuce, bean sprouts, pickled carrots along with whatever grilled protein you order. You pour a vinaigrette over top that is a bit sweet and a bit tangy. Then you dig your chopsticks into it and enjoy.

Highly recommend this restaurant!

IMG_1437 IMG_1439

 

Advertisements

Pad Thai

For some reason I have always hesitated to make this dish – Not sure why but I had a craving for it and I had all the ingredients I thought I wanted in it so I tried it. Turned out delicious!  Very tasty. I followed a recipe for a bit then changed it up to be my own. I figured if it didn’t turn out then I wouldn’t blog about it and no one would be the wiser ;-). Here I am blogging about it because I think it tasted very good.

IMG_1291

 

 

Ingredients – Serves 4 (at least)

8 ounces of flat rice noodles (pad thai style)

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1.5 tbsp fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp dried minced onion (you can use fresh if you like)

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1/2 cup of ketchup

1/3 cup of sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp canola oil

12 peeled shrimp

2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces (large dice)

5 minced garlic cloves

1 red pepper sliced thinly

1 cup matchstick carrots (grated or shredded is fine too)

1 cup tiny pieces of broccoli

Toasted almond slivers for garnish

 

Directions:

Boil water in a pot and when boiling drop noodles in and turn heat off. Stir noodles around to separate them.

While water is boiling, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, ketchup and garlic chili sauce  in a small bowl.

In a large skillet sauté chicken till cooked then add carrots, peppers, broccoli, and 1/3 of the sauce with the shrimp and sauté for about 2 minutes till shrimp is cooked.  By now the noodles should be done so drain them and add them to the skillet.  Add the remaining sauce and stir on medium heat to coat everything. it should only take a minute or two till all ingredients are mixed and coated.  Dish up and enjoy!

 

 

Chicken and Pasta Prima Vera

This recipe started out as pasta prima vera but I thought “why not add some protein to it”? Turned out to be quite yummy and when a group of friends wound up back at my house all hungry I happened to have a big bowl left over from a food order I had just filled so was able to get everyone fed and happy in a very short period of time.

IMG_1200

Ingredients – serves 6-8:

Olive oil – enough to sauté vegetables

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small bite size pieces

4 cloves minced garlic

1 red and 1 yellow  pepper cut into thin strips

2 large handfuls of chopped raw kale

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half

1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup fat free evaporated milk

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, dissolved in 6 tablespoons water

Pepper to taste

1 large carrot peeled and sliced into strips with a peeler

Fettucini or linguini – enough for 6-8 people

3/4 – 1 cup grated Parmesan

A large handful of fresh parsley leaves chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Salt to taste if you want to (I don’t usually cook with salt)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and kale and cook until softened about another 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and stir into other vegetables. Stir in flour/water combination and mix throughly with vegetables. Add stock, evaporated milk and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. If liquid does not thicken enough add another tsp of flour and water mixture and stir through.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta until it is al dente. Drain pasta and combine and toss  with vegetables and sauce. Serve garnished with Parmesan, parsley and basil.

Note: sauce thickens even more by the next day.

100 Mile Cassoulet Meal in the Country

I spent the other weekend at my friend Victoria’s place in the country.  It was a wonderful weekend full of art shows and country town drives.  We hit the farmers market on Saturday morning to get ingredients for dinner that night, still not totally sure what we were going to make but wanting to be inspired by the local produce.  We decided on a version of a cassoulet.  I had brought up smoked turkey and smoked chicken sausages from my local butcher shop that were already cooked but just needed a bit of grilling to brown them.  It was so delicious!!!!!

We got two meals for us and then another three meals to freeze out of the recipe which when we worked it out came to about $2.50 – $3.00 per serving at the most.  Full of great vegetables and flavours.  (As an aside – I added leftover cooked quinoa with vegetables to a serving I brought home and it was great).

Victoria also made a Caprese style salad on skewers for us – it was so good and so unusual. The secret is to soak the cubes of mozzarella cheese in balsamic vinegar for several minutes or longer before putting on the skewer. The cheese along with fresh basil from the garden and small grape tomatoes from the garden made for a wonder “salad”

Caprese salad sticks

Cassoulet 1

Casoulette 2

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 leek

2 medium carrots sliced

2 celery stalks sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced or chopped

1 can white kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 large red pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes (we used Victorias homemade roasted tomatoes which gave an even smokier flavour)

Pepper to taste

2 large cooked smoked sausages (turkey or chicken) sliced (1/4″ thick max.)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8-10 large mushroom (large pieces)

Pinch of cumin

1-2 tsp of chilli garlic hot sauce – quantity depends on how spicy you like your food)

Parmesan cheese to top it with

Directions:

Sauté onions and leeks. Add all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. When you plate it – add some grated or shredded parmesan cheese to the top and serve with a baguette to absorb any liquid

Serves 6

Dinner at Jane’s

Had a wonderful dinner at my friend Jane’s the other night along with another friend Jocelyn.  We sat out in the garden on a perfect evening eating until we started clearing dishes and I freaked out about the bees (yes many of you know I am somewhat bug phobic….).  Inside we went for a pretty spectacularly presented dessert of fresh fruit and a trifle (and some more wine….)

Dinner was salmon steamed in parchment with vegetables (recipe from the cookbook French Women don’t Get Fat), baby potatoes and perfectly ripe deliciously meaty tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. So so good!

raw salmon

salmon in parchment 2

salmon in parchment1

triffle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilling in the country

Spent a wonderful Canada Day long weekend in around the Lindsay/Peterborough area at my good friend Victorias place.  It was like a spa for the mind and body.  We had planned on experimenting with cooking up new food ideas so I was very excited.  Some worked really well while others not as much.  I decided to blog even the mediocre in hopes perhaps someone could recommend how to make it better.  Here goes several meals so keep reading after the first:

Brown Rice Paella (not your typical version)

paella1

While this looks really good….it was lacking in intensity of flavour. We didn’t do the typical spicing which is probably why it was lacking in flavour.  Instead we opted to try lime and cilantro to flavour it for a lighter tasting paella.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice (we should have used instant rice but used regular brown rice as it was what we had)

10 large raw peeled shrimp

1 lb of mussels

1 cup of frozen green peas

Juice of 1 lime

1 lemon cut in quarters (to sprinkle over dish)

Fresh coriander

Directions

We marinated the shrimp in some lime juice and coriander first.

Cook the rice in chicken or vegetable broth until just about ready then add the frozen peas, shrimp and then the mussels on top.  Cover and steam for about 5 minutes.  Very quick and easy but the thing that made it taste okay was we added hot sauce to it on our plates.

Please feel free to comment any ideas you think would have improved on the flavour (other than the traditional style).

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Tomato and Feta Salad and Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Turkey burger

tomato and feta salad

This was amazing – We made these burgers in a way I had never made burgers before and low and behold they were awesome!!!!

We did not have any bread crumbs so we used large flake oatmeal instead.  Who would have thought!  Okay every gluten intolerant person probably knows this but we didn’t so it was amazing to learn.

No real need for instructions here as you just combine all ingredients which included the following:

1 lb. ground turkey

1 sweet onion – I caramelized the onion but you can just sauté it.

About 1 cup of large flake oatmeal

Dijon mustard – 3 tbsp

2 cloves of garlic minced

A splash of hoisin sauce

A splash of BBQ sauce

(use any condiments you have in your fridge that you think you might like)

A pinch of black pepper

1 egg

The mixture seemed very wet so we made the patties and put them in the fridge and like magic by the time we went to cook them (about an hour or two later) they had firmed right up! – apparently the oatmeal absorbs moisture (I know all you people that knew this are thinking “Well of course it does” but we really didn’t know – I am not an oatmeal eater so I never use it).

The fun part for us both was grilling on a tiny charcoal grill – after several attempts we got it going and that little sucker really got hot (we kind of charred a couple of the burgers in the process but they still tasted amazing).

Burgers on BBQ

Add to this a roasting pan full of baby carrots from the farmers market fresh that morning, japanese eggplant and asparagus topped with a bit of shredded parmesan cheese and you have a fabulous meal.

Grilled veg

What could be better to add to this meal than a salad of fresh tomatoes with feta cheese and basil from the garden fresh picked and you have the perfect summer meal. (oh yeah I also sautéed some mushrooms to put on top of the burgers…)

Lastly – for lunch Victoria made this yummy Niçoise salad with some fresh tomatoes, baby white potatoes, 2 hard boiled eggs, fresh quick cooked asparagus with a dijon dressing that was absolutely delightful!  So fresh and tasty.

nicios salad

You now know pretty much everything we ate that  weekend 😉

Pretty darn awesome I have to say!

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Had this at my friend Victorias recently with cut up vegetables and roasted sweet potato slices.  I thought it was wonderful and immediately we were coming up with a ton of uses for this dipping sauce which is easy to make and delicious.

Here is the recipe (Serves 4) – sorry no picture

Whisk together the following ingredients:

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (we used regular yogurt and it was perfect)

1/4 cup of tahini

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp sriracha sauce (hot chilli sauce)

Serve with vegetable, fries, as a creamy dressing for salad, with coleslaw…..Come up with your ideas and send them over!

Lemony Lentil Soup

Recently I visited my friend Victoria and in between all our wonderful conversations she cooked some of the most amazing food.  For lunch when I got there we had this lemony lentil soup – the recipe for which comes from the Whitewater Cooks cookbook written by Shelley Adams. (I recommend this book as it was chock a block full of great recipes and beautiful imagery.)

lemony lentil soup 2

lemony lentil soup 1

Here is the recipe – I made it as soon as I got home and froze half for later.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

2 tsp salt (I didn’t add salt as the feta cheese is salty)

6 cloves minced garlic

3 carrots diced

1 tsp pepper

.25 tsp red chilli flakes

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (I used half this as dried rosemary – didn’t have fresh on hand)

2 bay leaves

8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tsp lemon zest

1 cup feta cheese (or enough to put on top of soup to your liking when served)

2 tbsp fresh dill chopped

Directions

Rinse lentils and drain. Heat olive oil in large pot and add onion to sauté. Add carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, chilli, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.

Stir well and sauté till carrots are tender. Add stock and lentils and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes till lentils are soft.

Remove bay leaves and add lemon juice and zest.

Serve with feta and dill.

Minestrone Soup

This is another recipe I got after twisting my aunts arm (Kidding – but she didn’t always give up recipes easily until she thought you really wanted them). I had this for lunch one day at her house and thought it was a perfect lunch or light dinner on a cold day (since it hasn’t yet completely warmed up here in Ontario I am posting this now). (Image courtesy of photobucket)

minestrone_soup

 

Ingredients (slightly altered for my tastes)

2  onions sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped celery and leaves

1 carrot, sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 handfuls of kale chopped (her recipe called for escarole but I use kale instead (healthier)

1 cup shredded cabbage

6  cups broth – I use chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups cooked beans-or use canned white beans

1 can (10 ounces) tomatoes

1/2 cup canned chick peas

1/2 tsp. dried basil

Pinch of salt (optional – I have cut most salt from my cooking)

1/2  cup macaroni

Pinch of cayenne

 

Directions

Brown onion in large pot.  Add remaining raw vegetables; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth, beans tomatoes, chick peas, herbs, add 2 tsps. salt.  Bring to boil; cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Add macaroni, and cook ten minutes or until tender.  Add salt and cayenne to taste.  I like to serve the soup with grated parmesan on top (but then I like to put parmesan on pretty much anything!)

Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Stew

This is one of those meals that you make with whatever vegetables you have sitting in your fridge and don’t want to have to throw away in a few days. I made it for a bunch of people so my recipe is for 8. Cut it accordingly to suit however many people you want to feed. It also freezes well.

chicken stew

chicken stew in bowl

Ingredients

8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I would have used chicken thighs too but my company doesn’t like dark meat)

1 butternut or acorn squash (can likely use any squash you like)

3 carrots – large dice (1” pieces)

3 parsnips – large dice (1” pieces)

Green beans – cut into 1.5” pieces (use as many as you like)

2 red peppers – large dice (1” pieces)

2 large onions large chop (big pieces)

Mushrooms – as many as you like – I used large button mushrooms and cut them in half so I had large pieces.

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

4 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of chili powder

1 large can chick peas (just because I love to add chickpeas to everything!)

1 small can of corn niblets

1 large can diced tomatoes

Directions

Season raw chicken with just pepper (many of the ingredients have some salt in them so no need to add). Cut chicken into pieces about 1”. Pour a bit of hoisin sauce over and mix up a bit. Do not use too much sauce as it doesn’t take much to flavour the chicken. Maybe 1.5 tsp per 4 chicken breasts. Saute the diced chicken until slightly browned (the hoisin helps with the browning). Put into slow cooker.

Take onions that have been chopped in large chunks and saute in the same pan as the chicken till lightly browned. The onions will clean up the bits lefts by the chicken which adds flavour. Put the onions into the slow cooker. Saute the mushrooms in the same pan (add a touch of olive oil if you need to) and then put them in the slow cooker too. Next, throw in the carrots, squash and parsnips and saute lightly until you see a few browned edges (doesn’t have to be much). Add to the slow cooker. Now add the chick peas, corn and diced tomatoes along with the mustard, brown sugar and the spices and orange juice to the slow cooker and mix everything together. Turn slow cooker to low for 3.5 hours.

Once the stew has cooked for 3.5 hours, add the green beans and red peppers and cook on low for another hour as these items do not take as long to soften and cook. You can saute them first if you like for a bit of added flavour but not really necessary. Serve over brown rice or pasta or quinoa (something to soak up the juice). I add a bit of grated parmesan on top.