Fabulous Tuna Dinner

Well it was dinner with Ted and Judy again last night – my favourite “restaurant” ;-). I can’t get over the cooking that these friends do! So last night we had a starter of mussels which where so good I totally forgot to photograph them as we just dove into the bowls. Trust me they were delicious.

The rest of the meal was no exception. Actually I have to backtrack….I was starving when I got to T&J’s place as I had forgotten to eat lunch. Judy had some smoked salmon which she artfully put on top of a tiny dollop of hungarian cream cheese (made with paprika – yes it was awesome) on a  thin slice of left over roast potato. Topped with a couple of capers it was an appetizer fit for any restaurant.

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Later we had the mussels followed by a tuna dinner that was out of this world! Ted got some sushi grade tuna from a local fish monger and covered it in sesame seeds with a bit of black pepper ground on top.

 

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He seared it for 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron frying pan. Prior to cooking, Ted made a small dish of sauce to go with the tuna. Mix the ingredients below and add to taste. It really does take on a different taste though once you drizzle it over the cooked tuna.

1 tbsp sesame oil

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

½ – 1 tsp wasabi paste to taste

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Along with the tuna Judy made her secret mashed potatoes – all I can tell you is there is some butter and her secret weapon is a mix master ;-). They are the smoothest creamiest potatoes ever.

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The salad Judy came up with (so creative) was made with the following ingredients:

Red tipped boston lettuce (beautiful looking)

Cubed field tomatoes (from the farmers market that day)

Cubed bocconcini cheese, 4-5 pieces

1 whole diced/cubed avocado

4-5 sun dried tomatoes chopped with a lime infusion (lime juice squeezed over to moisten)

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients (not the lettuce leaves) and pour the juice of one lime over them and mix/stir. Then put into individual boston lettuce “cups”/leaves

The tuna was timed perfectly for when the salad and potatoes were done. Plated, it looked fit for royalty. What an outstanding meal! I of course got to take home the leftovers. Thanks again to my favourite restaurant!

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Sparrow Restaurant (Bloor Street West Toronto)

A couple of nights ago we took our friend Kim for dinner for her belated birthday. Jane and Kim were coming back to my place for a glass of wine and some nibbles after we all finished a panel at our part time gig as sensory panelists for a major grocery chain. We thought we would  just converge at my place before going out and then just walk up to Bloor Street for dinner.

We decided on a new restaurant on Bloor called Sparrow.  I had heard good reviews and none of us had been there before. I am always excited to try a new place in the “hood” as for the longest time we didn’t have any good restaurants – now we have several to choose from.

The inside renovations look great – it used to be a family style restaurant (Dr. Generosity’s) for years and before that it was the Rebel Chop House and before that, some of you may remember it as Mad Apples. They have done a complete overhaul and I thought it looked really nice.

Many of the staff are from the previous generation of restaurant and know the biz well and were fabulous.  The service was excellent as were the suggestions. The room however was quite dim and the menu had teenie tiny type all in caps so very hard to read without glasses.  Once we figured out what we were having, we ordered our meals along with a nice white Bertiolo Italian Pinot Grigio wine (we were all having a seafood dish). The wine was delicious!

Here is what we ordered:

Atlantic Salmon Riletters (Cucumber/Dill/Preserved Lemon/Red Onion/Chives/Crostini) – This was really tasty. We shared this as a starter along with warm marinated olives that were just wonderful!

salmon

 

olives

 

I ordered the PEI Mussels and both Kim and Jane ordered the Lobster Salad.

The mussels were listed as being prepared in a Junction Beer Broth with Bacon Butter, Garlic/Summer Herbs and served with Grilled Bread. While I really liked the broth I have to say I found the mussels just okay (a few of the shells were empty) and more than half of them were gritty. I don’t think I would order them again.

mussels

The Lobster Salad was made up of the following: Poached East Coast Lobster with Quinoa, Radish, Snap Peas, Horseradish and Mint. Sounds great and it tasted great, it was just the plating that had us mystified. See the picture below and you may be able to tell why….When the plate arrive all three of us wondered where the missing food was as the salad was served along one side of a large dish (I am sure working with the unique design of the plate) with a huge bare section. While the plate had a lovely design to it – it looked empty! A small green salad would have just made the plate but alas it was bare. We all thought it could have used the greenery on the plate to fill it out. Unfortunately the emptiness of the plate overshadowed the artistic arrangement of the food.

lobster salad

All in all, the wine list was great, the service wonderful, the appetizers yummy but perhaps we really didn’t order well.  A plate of lamb chops went by that looks delicious for $18. Perhaps we should have stuck to meat dishes as opposed to the seafood…..

PS – I am apologizing for the quality of the images as the lighting was quite dim and even with a flash the images were rather dark.

 

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)

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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!