Roasted Vegetable Soup – guest post

Roasted vegetable soup – Guest post by Victoria Ryce

Suddenly finding myself with many root vegetables, I decided to roast a few pans of squash, sweet potato, parsnips, and carrots. I had some with my dinner, some in a salad, and some in a sandwich. I’d run out of ideas of what to do with them, so I thought I would make soup.
All I did was chop up an onion and fry it in some olive oil, then add the roasted vegetables. Thinking it was looking a little monochrome, I opened the fridge and found some mushrooms that were at their best by date and a rib of celery.  I chopped these up and added them to the onions. Then added 2 cups of broth.
When I roasted the parsnips I added a dash of olive oil and some salt-and-pepper. When I roasted the carrots I added a bit of garlic. And when I roasted the sweet potato I sprinkled a few leaves of rosemary over them. So I didn’t add any spices to this soup.
I gave some away to two friends and they asked me to please forward the recipe. Yikes!  It’s leftover vegetable soup, I said. So here is my attempt at telling you how the recipe worked. Please feel free to roast any vegetables and add any other spices to make your own version.  I dropped some Twistos asiago crackers on top of my soup. Cindy turned me onto them and now I am hooked.
Also, you could purée the vegetable soup if you want a creamy, blended flavour soup.  Your choice.  It’s winter so time for hearty soups and curling up with a good book or movie.  Roast a bunch of vegetables and you will be fed for days.
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Salmon, peppers and arugula

I had one of those evenings where I knew I was going to make some salmon but didn’t know what to have with it. I looked through the fridge and didn’t see much so I went for a walk to the green grocer up the street and picked up some peppers and arugula. Couldn’t resist them – they looked so fresh and colourful.

I came home and thinly sliced up an orange pepper along with a leek. I sautéed them till wilted and then threw in a handful of baby arugula to wilt it.  I turned the burner off so the heat that was left in the pan wilted the arugula nicely.

I did a quick maple and dijon glaze for the salmon and put it in the toaster oven for about 12 minutes then placed the fish over the peppers, arugula and leeks, sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top and dinner was ready in about 20 minutes.  How easy is that!

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I only managed to eat half and shared a small taste with my cat who was quite happy to indulge as well ;-). Now I don’t have to think about lunch tomorrow.

Vancouver Island Holiday


I just spent a week out on Vancouver Island with my cousin Rebecca – what a fabulous week! Aside from the most perfect weather, she has just purchased the most perfect house. It’s a heritage home that was “floated” over from Victoria a few years back.

Rebecca is planning on having a B&B at the house and I can’t think of a better place to be. The house has so much character and Vancouver Island is so beautiful. This was a sort of working holiday as I was helping to get things done around the house.  My cousin has some beautiful art that needed hanging so we put up at least a dozen pictures, a beautiful carving of loons and a gorgeous hand made wall hanging.  I also built a headboard from an old door that was left outside (solid oak – they don’t make doors like that anymore).

Now for the food….

Salmon, seafood and more salmon.  It doesn’t get any better than heading down to the fishing boat and buying some salmon for dinner. We had salmon in scrambled eggs for breakfast, in omelettes, seared salmon and BBQ’d salmon. Oysters that were half the size of my palm were $9 for 14!!! And oh so fresh.

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Farm fresh eggs and salmon and grilled potatoes for breakfast

One night we had maple salmon with boiled potatoes and sea asparagus. Some of you may remember I talked about sea asparagus in an older post – I had never heard of them and here they were growing wild at the waters edge right in front of her home!  We picked them and soaked them and I sautéed them with some garlic to put over the salmon.  Yummy meal. We had some fresh tomatoes that a neighbour brought over that day from their garden.  We decided this was a 10 mile meal (as opposed to a 100 mile version)

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Sea asparagus growing wild

 

 

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Soaking in water as they are very salty

 

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Wild Pacific Salmon

 

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Yum!

My cousin Rebecca is a champion pie maker and since blackberries grow wild everywhere around the island where she lives she made a blueberry and blackberry pie that was outstanding.  We had it my last night at a dinner party given by Kim and Tom with Mary Jo and Veer. What a great night – drinking blackberry wine and eating fresh BBQ’d salmon with oysters. What a great week with great people!

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Before going into the oven

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Baked – what an incredible smell!

 

See below for pics of the house and the neat headboard (yes I am proud of it) 😉

Rebecca's house

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“Chicks-in-Charge” Lunch

We had a gathering of our “Chicks-in-Charge” group a bit earlier than usual as one of our long standing members was going away for 8 months and we wanted to have a catch up before she left. (This is our group of about 8-10 women who run their own business) As usual our host Sheryl outdid herself with lunch. She wouldn’t let any of us bring anything other than side items.

Sheryl prepared a lunch fit for a group of special people (which I think everyone in the group is). We had roasted red and yellow pepper shells filled with red quinoa, a lovely salad, roasted potatoes and artichoke hearts (couldn’t stop nibbling at these – oh so good). Dessert was some sweet items one of the “chicks” brought.

It was a perfect lunch on a lovely summer day – who could ask for anything more?

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Dinner at the Neighbours

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to dinner at one of the neighbours whom I had known for years but never really socialized with. Well I was definitely missing out on great people!  Pina and Dan (and another of the neighbours Mireille) put on a great spread of grilled yakitori chicken skewers with steamed vegetables and roasted tri-coloured potatoes.  What a perfect summer meal!!!  We ate outside and enjoyed great company, great food and great wine (Mireille brought a very nice wine that was just perfect with the meal. It was a white with a slight sparkle to it – “Gazela”).

Dan BBQ’d the chicken skewers brilliantly using foil to avoid burning the wooden skewers.  The meal was finished off with delicious cookies homemade by Emily (Pina and Dans daughter).  What a great evening!

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Dinner Club – Korea

The other Saturday it was my turn to host Dinner Club. This is where a group of 8 of us (plus 2 host guests) gather for dinner and it is all about a specific country of choice (the host picks a country). The food is mostly prepared by the host and each guest brings a bottle of something to drink from that area (or surrounding area) and we each give a 2-3 minute presentation on a different topic. These topics range from economics, government, culture, arts and literature, customs etc.  It’s always a fun evening and we all go away learning something about that country.

Last night was my turn to host and I chose Korea as the country for the evening. I must say by the end of the evening I learned a great deal about a country I knew very little about. It was great and kudos to the guests for all their input!

 

Now for the food (which is pretty much what this blog is all about!)

The menu was as follows:

Salad with sesame dressing

Side dishes included – Kimchee (spicy pickled cabbage), edamame, pickled carrots and radish and sesame spinach. (Most of these items I bought – edamame is just steamed and recipe for spinach follows)

Main course – Seared miso salmon on a bed of grilled corn and steamed baby pea sprouts, Korean sizzling beef, jab chae – a sweet potato noodle with spinach and carrots in a soy marinade (a real favourite)

Dessert was fresh fruit – peaches and blueberries, green tea cookies and sesame cookies.

Recipes to follow after the photos.

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Seared Miso Salmon with Corn and pea sprouts (you can use anything as a base veg for this)

 Serves: 4 (I doubled this recipe but had extra left over)

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless salmon filets (I didn’t double this portion as I was serving small pieces along with the other food)

1 cup white miso

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup sake (I didn’t have this so left it out)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil plus a few extra drops for sautéing sprouts and corn)

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I grilled the cobs on the BBQ and then sliced the kernels off (yes I am Type A 😉 )

Toasted sesame seeds to sprinkled over before serving (I also crumbled some roasted nori on top)

 

Directions:

Place salmon in a shallow dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together miso, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Reserve 5 tablespoons of the mixture, cover, and refrigerate. Pour remaining mixture over salmon, cover, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

In a large nonstick pan, add ½ cup of water and a drop or two of sesame oil. Steam pea sprouts till wilted, about 2 minutes. Take sprouts out and pat dry. Add canola oil and a few drops of sesame oil to the pan. Add corn and pea sprouts and sauté another 4 minutes until flavoured. Toss in scallions and reserved miso sauce. Mix gently to warm through and set aside, keeping warm.

Heat some canola oil in the same pan. Remove salmon from marinade and shake off any excess. Place filets in a single layer in pan and sear until centre is no longer raw. Divide corn and sprout mixture among four plates and top each with a piece of salmon. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

 

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Sesame Spinach

Ingredients:

1 lb. spinach, stemmed and washed (16 cups)

2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

1 Tbs. soy sauce

Toasted white sesame seeds for garnish

1 tsp. plain rice vinegar

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Mix (whisk) all ingredients (except spinach) in a medium bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spinach in the boiling water, stirring, just until bright green and wilted (this doesn’t take long). Transfer the spinach to a colander. Drain well and squeeze or press out excess water. Using your fingers, loosen the spinach slightly as you transfer it to a medium bowl.

Mix the spinach with the ingredients in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld. Return to cool room temperature before serving. (The spinach is best served on the day it’s made). Photo is a bit blurry – my apologies but had to shoot fast as people were going to dig in!

 

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Korean sizzling beef

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1/4  cup soy sauce

2   tablespoons sugar

2   tablespoons dry white wine

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 narrow 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 scallions thinly sliced on an angle

Steamed rice, for serving

 

Directions:

Using a Ziplock bag, add all ingredients without the beef. Mix ingredients in the bag then add the thin slices of beef. Seal bag and marinate overnight turning the bag on occasion to ensure the mixture saturates the beef.

Set the BBQ to med high heat (about 300 F) and grill the beef slices (this sounds tedious but they only take about a minute per side).

Serve beef with some rice on a plate and scatter scallions over top.

Last image is the Jab Chae which I purchased as I really wasn’t sure I could make it.

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Reunion Dinner

I had dinner Friday evening with a friend whom I haven’t really seen in several years. Ginny is an amazing chef so when we ran into each other after all those years and she invited me to dinner Friday evening how could I refuse?

Dinner consisted of veal tenderloin (which I have never before seen), grilled sweet potatoes, grilled corn on the cob (soaked in water for 15 minutes with the husks, then thrown on the grill for 15-20 minutes until cooked and the husked are getting blackened), steamed broccoli and a fabulous salad which included beets, onion, massaged kale (yes you read that correctly – you massage the kale until it breaks down the tough fibres and it becomes easily chewable and soft. Wonderful technique – see I knew I would learn something new having dinner with her ;-). The rest of the salad had walnuts, romaine lettuce, chopped apple and the dressing was made with walnut oil.  The second thing I learned at dinner….Walnut oil is fabulous! I must get some as it has such a lovely nutty flavour that enhances the dressing and salad and I am sure anything else you put it on.

Dinner was really nice and a real catch up on a beautiful evening.  Great way to spend Friday night in my books!  Thanks Ginny!

 

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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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Summer BBQ Dinner

I know you must be getting tired of my raving about Ted and Judy’s cooking but trust me if you were eating their food you would never tired of it!  Last week I was there for dinner on a lovely cool spring/summer evening and Ted BBQ’d simple chicken breasts and asparagus along with fingerling potatoes. Inside a fabulous lush salad was made by Judy with a dressing made by their son Jonathan (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in that family).

Simple meal but so tasty and cooked to perfection.  Moist chicken (albeit large – which of course just means left overs for me ;-)), Judy found something called seaweed asparagus (think that was what it was called). Tiny little shoots that look like mini asparagus but grown in the sea so quite salty.  She par boiled them and let them soak for awhile and the salt level came right down.  Very much a sea salt flavour as opposed to the stuff you shake on food though – so delicate).

For the potatoes – Ted roasted them on the BBQ then we added the softened garlic that was cooked with them and I mashed it and put it back over the potatoes which Ted then did a light “smash” too to create what you see below.

The sea asparagus was sprinkled over the chicken and the salad provided for a very green and healthy looking delicious dinner.  No surprise there – I figured I have never had a meal there that wasn’t wonderful – okay maybe the company has something to do with it too but truly the food is always amazing – such creative cooks – very inspiring.

 

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Pasta Dinner (with Presidents Choice Pasta)

I don’t normally eat much pasta but Presidents Choice (brand name in Loblaws grocery stores in Ontario) black label pasta has put out a commercial using their mushroom stuffed pasta that is mouthwatering.  I happened to be in Loblaws and saw some of this black label pasta and as I was reaching for a package of it to read the label a woman stepped up and loaded every one of the mushroom stuffed pasta into her cart!.  She left the pumpkin stuffed pasta and a cheese version on the shelf along with the style I bought which was stuffed with asparagus.

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I felt rather creative that night so here is what I did with the pasta…

Using a roasted garlic flavoured olive oil (which I mixed with a bit of lemon flavoured olive oil), I sautéed some finely slivered peppers with some pine nuts till golden brown. I then added a tablespoon of butter to make some brown butter. While the peppers and nuts were sautéing I boiled the water and cooked the pasta (only needs about 4 minutes). Once the nuts and peppers were done and the butter melted I tossed the pasta into the pan and mixed it all together.

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I then divided the pasta into two dishes (one for me and one for my friend Richard – because you can’t just eat this good a meal by yourself ;-). I had crisped some prosciutto in the microwave which I then crumbled over top of the pasta and peppers and then grated some fresh parmesan cheese over top.

Felt like we also needed some greens with dinner so using a Kale Salad mix I buy at Costco which is made up of kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and radicchio I added some crumbled feta cheese, chopped mango and tomatoes.

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All I can say is… Whoa! that was a yummy meal. All ready in less than half an hour.