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.

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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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“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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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!

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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.

 

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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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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