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

Fish Cakes

While I normally use tuna and sweet potato in these cakes, I felt like using a fresh fish this time so went and bought haddock (it was on for a good price). The process is almost the same as the tuna but a bit more involved in that I had to cook the haddock first.  I debated how I would do this but settled on a quick, easy and yummy method which was to poach it. See below for method and recipe for this dish.  It turned out well and I was able to freeze a number of the cakes and they were just as good when defrosted. Great to keep in the freezer for those days when you don’t know what to have or just want a light dinner.

Fish cakes

Ingredients and Directions to serve 4 (2 cakes per person):

I first make a broth for  poaching, this usually includes the following items but you can add anything you like.

2-3 cups vegetable, chicken or fish broth (I use what I have on hand)

1- Lemongrass stalk – smash the white portion of the lemongrass so it is almost chewed looking and put the whole thing in the broth

Handful of cilantro fresh or 1 tsp of dried

A good shake of lemon pepper or just a pinch of regular pepper

2-3 tbsp of lemon juice and if you are using fresh add some zest

Doesn’t matter what the broth looks like just what it tastes like.

Fish cake ingredients:

6-8 small-medium fillets of fish

3 large sweet potatoes

Place as many pieces of fish fillets into the broth as will fit making sure the fish is covered in broth.  It will only take about a minute or two depending on the thickness of the fish. The haddock I used was not a thick cut but about 1/2″ fillets. When the fillet is slightly flakey and looks cooked, take it out and drain it on paper towels so it is not too moist. Add more fish to the broth till it is all poached

Crumble the fish into a large bowl and add softened sweet potato (boil or microwave the potato in small uniform pieces until it is soft enough to mash).

Add the following ingredients:

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp plain yogurt (use more if you need to make it more moist or add a  spoonful of the broth)

1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of panko crumbs (use breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko). Add 1/2 cup to start and add more as you need till the consistency of the mixture will shape and hold in a ball in your hands

I don’t use salt but feel free to add a pinch to the mixture

Optional – chopped cilantro or parsley fresh

Form the cakes in your hands and sauté them till golden on one side then flip over until the other side is golden.  Take out of the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil (I use canola oil as it has a higher burn rate – meaning you can heat it higher than olive oil without it smoking). I cook on a medium heat – if it is too high the cakes can burn.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or a seasoned yogurt or dip – we used a jalapeno greek yogurt dip mixed with some plain yogurt to reduce the heat level a bit. Served with a salad this makes a nice dinner.

Note: You can also make small bite size cakes to use as appetizers

Breaded Chicken with Lemon Sauce

I had a request for this dish as a food order and thought I would make some extra for myself. It is always so good. Now I will preface this blog with a note that this is not the most low calorie meal however it is not crazy but any stretch.  I use good ingredients and I think that makes all the difference.  Below is a shot of the finished product and then the ingredients and direction will follow the picture.  Enjoy – I know I did as did my food clients.

breaded chicken with lemon sauce

Ingredients for breaded chicken: – serves 4

1 dish with whole wheat flour for dredging chicken – I added some chopped lemon rind into this

1 bowl with 8 egg whites (you may need more depending on how much you make)

1 dish with 1/2 seasoned breadcrumbs or panko crumbs and 1/2 with grated parmesan or romano cheese (breading portion)

2 large chicken breasts boneless skinless

Pepper to taste (I use lemon pepper and then added some chopped lemon rind into the flour – you can add it to the breadcrumbs as well or instead of adding to flour)

5 tablespoons canola oil (see how much you need – I use a non stick pan so I don’t use too much oil)

Directions

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise like you are butterflying them but cut right through so you have two pieces per breast. Pound each piece till thinned (as thin as you like).

Heat canola oil in the pan and take a piece of chicken and dredge it in the flour mix, shake it off and coat it in the egg mix, then put it in the breadcrumbs and cheese mixture to coat.  Once the pan is hot, place the chicken in the pan and repeat the process for all the slices of chicken (4 in total if you used two breasts). It only takes a minute or two to brown on one side and cook.  Turn over when golden brown on one side and sear the other side till also golden brown.

I tend to wipe the pan after each group of two pieces so I don’t get burning. Add fresh oil and do up the next two pieces.

Lemon sauce

This is a no brainer – I wipe the pan clean after cooking the chicken and add about 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock (I use low salt). Add 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard and about 1/3 cup of lemon juice or the juice of two lemons. Stir till it starts to boil slightly – turn heat to low and take a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tsp – 2 tsp of corn starch – mix the water and corn starch in the little bowl till it is a milky water and then add to the sauce.  Stir and let simmer till it thickens.  If it is not thickening add a bit more water and corn starch (small bits at a time as it will come together and thicken in a short while).

Dip pieces of the chicken in the sauce and enjoy!

Lemon-Dill Orzo Salad with cucumbers, Olivers and Feta

Great salad for stretching out summer just a wee bit longer.  This is from a blog I follow called FOOD 52.  They have some great recipes from a bunch of different bloggers.  Check out the site. It’s very creative. This recipe and photo is by Sarah Fioritto

By Sarah Fioritto food 52-orzo-salad-005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Lemon Tarragon Shrimp and White Bean Dinner

I found this recipe in the Food and Drink Magazine (put out by the LCBO – Liquor Control Board of Ontario).  I love their magazine as it is beautifully art directed.  While I followed this recipe closely I did alter a couple of things which I will mention in the recipe below.  Was a great summer meal and ready in about 30 minutes.

Food and drink159

shrimp and white bean

shrimp and bean 2

Ingredients: Serves 4

(Please note I am providing the recipe the way I prepared it – the magazine called for 1/4 cup of olive oil – I just used enough to brush over the shrimp and veg and a bit over the beans. I also added the vegetables which were not in the recipe.)

1 lb. uncooked shrimp peeled

1/4 cup of lemon juice

1/3 cup of chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Olive oil to brush over shrimp, vegetables and drizzle over the beans

1 can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 ripe ataulfo mango diced (magazine called for wedges which we did but then we cut it up as it was better mixed into the whole meal)

2 green onions slices thinly

Pepper to taste 9I used lemon pepper for added lemon flavour)

1 garlic clove crush or minced

Splash of hot sauce (optional)

2 medium sized zucchini (1/4″ slices maximum)

1 pepper (I used yellow as it was on hand – any colour will do)

Directions:

Preheat BBQ to medium high.  While BBQ is heating combine shrimp, 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of the chopped tarragon in a bowl along with a drizzle of olive oil and toss to coat. (You can do this ahead of time too if you like)

Place beans, diced mango, green onions and remained of the tarragon in a large bowl and toss.

Skewer the shrimp in any order with the vegetables you like – BBQ about 2-3 minute per side – till pink (hint – if you slice the zucchini no more than 1/4″ thick then they will grill along with the peppers and shrimp – if they are too thick they will take too long).  You can grill the vegetables separately from the shrimp if you like too.

Add remaining lemon juice, garlic and hot sauce to bean mixture with a pinch of pepper (I don’t use salt as canned beans have salt already in them). Plate with beans on the bottom and skewers on top or take shrimp and veg off skewers and mix in bowl.

We started with them on the skewers for visual effect then decided to take them off and just mix it all up in the bowl – hence the separate pictures of how it was served.

Lemony Shrimp and Quinoa

Given my affinity towards lemon I decided to do a quick and easy lemony dish using two of my favourite things…..Shrimp and Quinoa! These two items are on my list of quick and easy go to meals. You can do just about anything with them in a very short time.

I had some leftover asparagus in the fridge and some frozen vegetables in the freezer so added them to get a vegetable component and add some colour.  Check it out.

lemony shrimp and quinoa

lemonyshrimp and quinoa2

Ingredients – feeds 2-3

4-5 shrimp per person depending on size

2-3 stalks of asparagus per person cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup quinoa uncooked

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

Juice of 2 lemons (plus grated rind of 1 or both lemons for some extra flavour )

1 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced or chopped

Pepper to taste (I have some lemon pepper that I used for even more of a lemon hit)

Salt – if you wish use a pinch – I don’t add any

Directions

Cook quinoa according to package directions – usually about 1 cup quinoa to two cups liquid. I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the liquid to give it a lemon hit. While cooking add the frozen vegetables (since the veg has moisture because it is frozen I tend to add a touch less liquid to the quinoa)

In a separate pan, heat oil and garlic and then throw in the chopped asparagus.  Let it sauté for a couple of  minutes  to get the asparagus slightly cooked. Add the shrimp, 1/4 cup (or whatever is left from the lemon juice) and some pepper.  Stir and cook until shrimp is light pink and turn off heat.

Put the quinoa in a bowl (or plate) and then top it off with the shrimp and asparagus. Total cooking time less than 1/2 an hour including cooking the quinoa.