Grilled Chicken with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers

I’m having some friends over on Sunday night for dinner and since our weather has been so wonderful I am planning on eating outside and grilling our dinner. I wanted to try making the dish I was planning on serving first to see how it tasted. It turned out well and I think I will have this on Sunday night.

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To make this chicken dish, I just butterflied the chicken breast and put some goat cheese in the middle along with some roasted sliced red peppers. Fold it over and use toothpicks to hold it tougher so the cheese doesn’t all ooze out while you are cooking.  When it’s on the plate just drizzle some balsamic glaze (buy it in a bottle) over top. Simple.

The sweet potatoes I slice in rounds and put them in a ziplock bag with some olive oil and black pepper. Then put them on the grill and BBQ till each side has grill marks and the potatoes are somewhat soft.

 

I made a similar dish Friday for dinner with my friend Richard – just easy grilling chicken breasts and sweet potatoes.  Nothing fancy but tasted great. I just marinate the chicken breasts in a bit of olive oil, black pepper and garlic. To add a spark of flavour I add a tiny sprinkling of maple sugar on one side just to help it caramelize a bit. I love the flavour BBQ gives to food (and I love the low mess and clean up too!)

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Maple Soy Glazed Salmon Salad

I had made a salmon dish for one of my food clients and had some leftovers. Since I wasn’t that hungry I decided to make a salad and use up the extra cooked salmon. The fish I had made for the dinner had a maple soy glaze that turned out really well.

Simple recipe – mix in a ziploc bag – 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 tbsp of soy sauce (I use low sodium), 2 garlic cloves crushed or minced and some black pepper. At the last minute I tossed in a ginger cube that was frozen (equivalent to 1 tsp). The cube didn’t melt so I don’t think it contributed to the flavour. Put your salmon in the bag and marinate for about 15-20 minutes.  Then sear it till it begins to caramelize on one side. As you see the flesh turn that light orange colour when it is cooked, flip it over and cook till the other side is also that light orange and darkened on the outer side. Just takes about 15 minutes in total depending on the thickness of your piece of fish.

I happen to really like cold salmon especially in salads to add as a protein. This time I made the salad with romaine lettuce, baby cucumbers, sweet grape tomatoes and some goat cheese.

It worked out very well. I was full but not stuffed.  Try it – I think you will enjoy it.  Use whatever dressing you like on the salad.

The beauty is you can have the salmon for dinner one night and then lunch or dinner the next day with the leftovers but as a completely different flavour.

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More Party Food

In a continuation of the party I went to last weekend and catered as well – I am sharing the food that was prepared for 30 people.  First off the party was amazing – my friends Jay and Jonathan live in Cambridge Ontario and have a fabulous historic home on a huge lot so the evening was spent under a pergola on the deck and then on the grounds for a big bonfire as the evening got cooler.  Too much fun was had by all.

Last weekend I posted the stuffed dates and salad (truth be told the salad was for another event but I liked the way it turned out). This week are all of the foods I prepared.  Remember everything was to be finger food style so plates and cutlery were not a necessity.

Here was my thinking behind the choice of dishes I made. I wanted food that could be eaten with fingers (i.e. on skewers) and to cover the basics of salad, main course meat/fish, side dishes and then dessert.

The while I had the above order in mind – we put everything out together as it worked better for people to just come to the table and pick their choices.

The menu and recipes – this is a long list so stay with me on this…

First off salad skewers made with grape tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls and chunks of baby cucumbers. Just before serving I drizzled some balsamic glaze over these skewers.

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Next on the list was smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers with some crushed dried nori (seaweed strips) sprinkled over top.

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Then came Korean grilled beef skewers and the honey mustard chicken skewers.  Below is the recipe for the meat – the Korean Beef is now a new favourite – everyone went nuts over it.

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I did the prep work for the meat the day before and marinated for 24 hours in ziplock bags.

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

So the honey mustard chicken is simple – just mix about a ¼ cup of honey with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 4 tbsp of dijon mustard – adjust to suit your taste.  I also added a few crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper. I used 6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips lengthwise so there was enough to put on a skewer.

Korean Beef Skewers – I got this recipe from Food and Wine magazine but adjusted a bit:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dry white wine – I used the same amount of chicken broth as I didn’t have any white wine handy

2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into thin long slices

1/4-inch-thick slices 16 scallions – I didn’t use these

Vegetable oil, for rubbing

Salt – didn’t add this either as the soy sauce had enough salt

1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, white wine, chopped garlic, toasted sesame oil, and crushed red pepper, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced flank steak and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the steak for at least 4 hours or overnight. 2. Working in batches, grill the steak over high heat (I BBQ’d it) until the slices are richly browned and medium-rare, about 30 seconds per side. Put pieces on a plate and let them cool – then put them on skewers just before serving.

Next was mini turkey meatballs in a sweet chilli sauce – this is my usual baked turkey meatball recipe but just made them smaller and tossed them with a store bought sweet chilli sauce instead of tomato sauce and put some into a cup for dipping as well.

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Next on the menu was my tuna and sweet potato cakes but made mini size and a cup of 1% yogurt for dipping.

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I then thought I needed something else that wasn’t meat and what do people love more than shrimp? Again I had a craving for shrimp and chorizo sausage so that was the next group of skewers.

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These are super simple – I sautéd the sliced chorizo and put aside – next I sautéd the shrimp in some garlic and put them in a dish – then it was just a matter of putting them together on bamboo skewers (they looked better on the shorter skewers than the long ones)

The side dishes were baby stuffed potatoes where you just boil the baby potatoes, then scoop out the centre leaving a bit of potato to hold the shape and then mix crumbled cooked bacon, chives and sour cream with the bits of potato you have scooped out . Once it is all mixed just spoon it back into the potatoes.  This was quite finicky but tasted good in the end so worth while.

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Last of the main course food was grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Simple and easy – just toss the asparagus in olive oil, then grill them (I did them on the BBQ) and then wrap a couple of stalks in a piece of prosciutto and you are done.

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Finally dessert – you saw the dates in my last post (I will put in again just so you see them). I put fresh fruit on skewers so they could be taken away from the table and you got several pieces at one without a mess. Each skewer had a slice of pineapple, a green grape, a strawberry, a purple grape and a raspberry.  You can make these with any fruit you like.

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And there you have it the whole party in food.  What I am not showing is the amazing evening we all had.  Great company, kudos to the hosts and all I can say is “when is the next party”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Time!

I am invited to a big party this weekend and the hosts asked if I wanted to make the food for the party as well (given I do a side food business).  I have been wanting to try a couple of things out so I agreed.  I will do several posts over the next few weeks with some of the dishes prepared.  Here is the first post of two dishes – very yummy – The dates are a little messy looking but well worth diving into. The first platter are Medjool dates with maple goat cheese.  The second is a salad platter that can be served with a fork and is easily eaten.

 

Madjool dates with maple goat cheese

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Ingredients (for what is shown in the picture):

40 Medjool dates (these are the very large plump dates)

225 grams of goat cheese plain

¼ cup of maple syrup

Directions:

Mix the goat cheese and maple syrup. I used a fork to just mix it all up.

Slice each date down the long side and take out the pit.

Fill each date with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese mixture (maybe less depending on the size of the date)

That is it! – told you it was easy and boy do they taste good.

 

The second dish was just cucumbers and sliced tomatoes with some pearl sized bocconcini cheese balls sprinkled over top.  Simple but pretty to look at.

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Lunch at Bloom Restaurant

Had lunch the other day with my friend Shelley at a neighbourhood restaurant called Bloom located on Bloor Street West in Toronto. We had a good catch up over a fabulous lunch.  The restaurant has a new theme of Spanish inspired food and on weekends gets some great jazz players. I believe it is under new management and I have been wanting to try it out for a few months now as their menu looked wonderful and the prices were very reasonable.

This day Shelley and I had the same thing – a chicken sandwich made up of roasted chicken, bacon (which was not listed on the menu but was in the sandwich), swiss cheese, chipotle aioli and was served with a mixed green salad that had roasted beets, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. The lunch was absolutely delicious. The selections offered were great, from sandwiches to mussels with frites to salads and soups. They have a prix fixe menu as well that is a great bargain (we just didn’t think we could eat all that food – even though the course size was smaller). I highly recommend this restaurant and will be back again for both lunch and dinner in the near future!

lunch at Bloom

Dinner at Embrujo Flamenco (Toronto)

The other night my dear friend and business partner Peter took me out for dinner.  We managed to get a coupon from Groupon for a Spanish style tapas restaurant called Embrujo Flamenco located at 97 Danforth Ave in Toronto.  All I can say is “wow what a great meal!”  It was a Thursday night so no Flamingo dancing show but the attentive staff and wonderful food certainly made up for that. With the coupon we got 6 tapas (although one or two of the tapas offered counted as two orders), and a small glass of Cava to start.

Here is what we ordered – keeping in mind Peter doesn’t eat anything that swims ( 😉 ) we had a salad to start, then a couple of meat dishes, a side dish and a dessert style dish to finish.  We just smiled when they offered dessert as we were both completely full when we finished. We went for a walk after and stopped for a coffee. All in – it was a great evening.

1) Mixed green salad with pear and walnuts (sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and a balsamic glaze). This was delicious!

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2) Rack of lamb with a fresh fig sauce – this order counted as two – we got 4 nice size chops and the flavour was wonderful!  Cooked to perfection!

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3) Sirloin chunks on a bed of home cut fries topped with a light mustard sauce – This was like a spanish poutine but even better. The sauce was light and creamy and didn’t over power the other items.  Perfectly cooked steak.

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4) Sautéed mushrooms in an extra virgin garlic olive oil and chilli.  Nice addition to the meat dishes

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5) Baked goat cheese with honey and herbs – we used this as dessert since it had a lovely sweetness to it.  I could have licked the dish clean. Made me think of a salad dish I could make with a green salad, roasted nuts, a balsamic dressing and a slice of baked or sautéed goat cheese on top.  Must try that – I’ll blog about that salad when I make it.

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I woke up thinking about how good this meal was the next morning!  It’s a definite recommendation!

 

 

 

Zucchini Boats

I have heard it is often tough to get kids (and some adults) to eat vegetables – personally I love veggies but that is me.  I came across a recipe that I thought was really smart and delicious.  Zucchini Boats!  I am attaching the link to the blog that featured them along with the photo from that blog.  Use your imagination (and your kids imagination) for toppings. Enjoy!

http://www.prouditaliancook.com/tag/zucchini-boats

 

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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!

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Summer Salad for Dinner

Last night I was at a loss for what to make for dinner. I opened the fridge and it seemed pretty bare except for salad makings.  I remembered I had some frozen shrimp and decided to BBQ them and put them into a salad.  It turned out delicious and super fast and easy.  I love dinners like this especially in the summer – something light and tasty (and using up things in my fridge).

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Ingredients

Shrimp (as many as you want per person)

Salad – (whatever you like in your salad – I used carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes)

Feta Cheese (optional but it gave a nice slightly salty flavour)

Directions

Grill shrimp in whatever sauce you like – I used a hoisin and sweet chilli style of sauce called General Tao. Make your salad and add shrimp and feta cheese crumbled on top.  I used a creamy cucumber dressing but you can use whatever dressing you have on hand.

Pretty easy don’t you think?  And delicious!

Dinner with Friends

Had dinner with friends of mine the other night on a perfect evening.  The weather was just great for sitting outside in their lovely backyard before going in to eat. The company was great and the food was outstanding!

To start we had this amazing goat cheese appetizer. I must try this recipe which I will show here – not sure which cookbook it comes from but it was a great.  Dinner was yummy BBQ’d steak with roasted tomatoes and asparagus with peppers.  Oh soooooo good.

 

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So the above appetizer was made in muffin tins – much like a small terrine.

The tin is lined with plastic wrap and a layer of goat cheese mixed with some fresh chopped chives is pressed into the bottom. Then a layer of smoked salmon is added.  Next a layer of thinly sliced green apples and then another layer of goat cheese with some chives sprinkled on top. The cheese is put in the fridge and when ready to serve you pop it out and surround the plate with some capers. My friend put it on a bed of lettuce with was perfect as it was a nice texture with the goat cheese.

Below is the BBQ meal with the roasted vegetables – just a great summer meal!

 

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steak and mushrooms