Shrimp, Quinoa and Asparagus (Risotto?)

So I thought I would try making quinoa like a risotto. In a deep frying pan adding the liquid a bit at a time like you do with a risotto rather than just pouring in the liquid and letting it cook.  My rational was that I wanted to add asparagus and shrimp to the the mix so that all ingredients would be flavoured and I could control the level of cooking more evenly.

The result worked out well and I had a lovely dinner with lots of leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Here’s how I made it:

 

Ingredients:

⅛-¼ cup of lemon juice (depending on how lemony you like it)

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1 onion – diced

1 cup of quinoa (I use an organic white)

2 cups of chicken stock (approximately as I added as needed – you can also use vegetable broth)

1 tsp of lemon pepper

5 shrimp per person (more or less depending on size of shrimp)

1 bunch of fresh asparagus – about 15-20 stalks

 

Directions:

Dice the onion and put in pan with the olive oil. Sauté until cooked (almost translucent but not browned). Add quinoa and mix well to coat. Add the lemon juice and let it mix in. Trim asparagus and then cut into 1-2 inch pieces and keep to the side. Once the lemon juice has mixed in, add chicken stock to cover the quinoa and let it cook on medium heat. Keep adding liquid as it gets absorbed and after about 5-7 minutes test the quinoa to see how close it is to being ready. Add asparagus and mix well. Cook for another few minutes and then add the shrimp. I laid the shrimp on top of the mixture and added a last bit of stock which steamed the shrimp. Flip the shrimp over when they are cooked (you can also just put the shrimp in the mixture and stir it and the shrimp will cook in the quinoa). Once the shrimp is cooked the quinoa should be ready too.  If it still needs some time – take out the shrimp to avoid over cooking and making them tough and add a bit more liquid to the quinoa till done.

Plate and serve!  All together this took about ½ hour to make. (NOTE: I put some grated parmesan over top when serving to add a bit of saltiness since I don’t add salt when cooking)

 

Oh I almost forgot – leftovers for lunch the next day with my neighbour Zannat – on a bed of arugula with a light apple cider vinaigrette.

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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”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brunch with Elizabeth and David

My friends Elizabeth and Dave are busy people. Trying to organize a get together is not easy, so when someone has a day free we jump on it.  The other Saturday afternoon we gathered for brunch at their place.

Brunch is one of my favourite meals because it is usually laid back, spent with friends and served with delicious food. Does it get any better?

This day was no exception. While Dave may have been worried that the brunch wasn’t over the top enough I am here to say it was outstanding!  Perfect meal to enjoy with friends and just kick back and have a good yak.

Brunch was an avocado dish that I thought was quite brilliant and have to try making.  We had avocado mixed with baby shrimp put back into the avocado shell which it was served in (so smart!). Beautiful tri-coloured tomatoes (one of my favourite things) and a touch of smoked salmon on the side.  It screamed springtime even though it was only 1 degree outside and pretty darn cold (if you can’t get your fill of spring with the weather you may as well get it with your food 😉 ).

Take a look at how beautiful this brunch was.  2 hours later we were talked out and we all had other stuff to get done. I left with a big smile on my face and the feeling of warmth and contentment.

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Pad Thai

For some reason I have always hesitated to make this dish – Not sure why but I had a craving for it and I had all the ingredients I thought I wanted in it so I tried it. Turned out delicious!  Very tasty. I followed a recipe for a bit then changed it up to be my own. I figured if it didn’t turn out then I wouldn’t blog about it and no one would be the wiser ;-). Here I am blogging about it because I think it tasted very good.

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Ingredients – Serves 4 (at least)

8 ounces of flat rice noodles (pad thai style)

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1.5 tbsp fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp dried minced onion (you can use fresh if you like)

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1/2 cup of ketchup

1/3 cup of sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp canola oil

12 peeled shrimp

2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces (large dice)

5 minced garlic cloves

1 red pepper sliced thinly

1 cup matchstick carrots (grated or shredded is fine too)

1 cup tiny pieces of broccoli

Toasted almond slivers for garnish

 

Directions:

Boil water in a pot and when boiling drop noodles in and turn heat off. Stir noodles around to separate them.

While water is boiling, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, ketchup and garlic chili sauce  in a small bowl.

In a large skillet sauté chicken till cooked then add carrots, peppers, broccoli, and 1/3 of the sauce with the shrimp and sauté for about 2 minutes till shrimp is cooked.  By now the noodles should be done so drain them and add them to the skillet.  Add the remaining sauce and stir on medium heat to coat everything. it should only take a minute or two till all ingredients are mixed and coated.  Dish up and enjoy!

 

 

Shrimp and Kale on Pasta (Gluten Free)

Many of you that read this blog know that I like to use up whatever is in the fridge when I can. I had recently bought a big batch of kale as it looked so fresh. It had been a while since I had shrimp and pasta so I thought I would mix it up with the kale – how could it be bad? I also had some mediterranean black olives which I thought would give a nice saltiness to the dish.

Below is the recipe – it lasted me for three meals which in my book is a good use of leftovers. By the way – it tasted good too!

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Ingredients:

1 package of GOGO Quinoa pasta (I like this type of gluten free pasta) – penne style noodle

10 shrimp (frozen tail on)

1 bunch of kale with the stem and core trimmed off and the leaves chopped

10-15 black olives broken in half to take out the pit (easier to buy pitted)

2 tsp chopped garlic

Olive oil to sauté kale and shrimp

Directions:

Add contents of the pasta to a pot of boiling water.  Boil until softened (takes a bit longer than regular pasta).  When it is finished the water is quite starchy so I tend to rinse the pasta under water for a minute.

Add oil to a pan and put chopped kale till you have filled the pan.  Start to sauté the kale in a covered pan so the steam will help to soften it.  I also added about 1/2 cup of water in small amounts to aid in the steaming and sautéing process.  When the kale is wilted slightly add the chopped garlic and the black olives and mix – continue to steam/sauté until the kale is fairly soft.

When the kale is almost ready – throw in the raw shrimp, mix with the kale and garlic and cook until the shrimp curls and turns pink on both sides.

Add in the pasta and mix everything together.  Heat through and serve with crusty bread and grated parmesan cheese.

Asparagus Risotto at Suzanne’s

The other night I was looking through the fridge and realized there was nothing to make for dinner. Coming to the realization that I may be eating a peanut butter sandwich that night, I was contemplating what to do when the phone rang. It was my friend Suzanne asking me if I want to come to an impromptu dinner at her place.  She too said she didn’t have anything to make which leads to her fall back meal of risotto.

I haven’t made risotto in ages but Suzannes is out of this world.  She went out and got some scallops and seared them to serve with the asparagus risotto.  It was a meal fit for a queen, so good with freshly grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a fabulous baby spinach salad made by another friend Ginny.

There are many variations on risotto but the main thing is to use a starchy rice like arborio and slowly add liquid until absorbed – including a cup of white wine 😉

You can add all kinds of ingredients – salmon, vegetables, mushrooms etc.  Good way to use up ingredients in the fridge…..

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I always forget about making risotto but after this meal trust me when I say it is now at the forefront of my mind.  Thank you my friend for a fabulous evening!

Shrimp and Kale

It was another night where I wanted to use up ingredients in the fridge but still make something interesting.  I always keep shrimp in the freezer because they can turn any meal into something a little more special.  Tonight I decided to use up a batch of kale I had in the fridge and a yellow pepper and some feta cheese.  Here goes:

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This dish took about 20-30 minutes in total.

Ingredients: Serves 2-3

1 leek (white part only) sliced

1 bunch of kale chopped finely

1 pepper (any colour will do)

2 garlic cloves minced

10-15 shrimp (medium sized)

1 – 14 oz can finely diced tomatoes (you can chop about 4 roma tomatoes instead of using canned if you like)

Feta cheese for sprinkling over top

Directions

Sauté leeks and chopped pepper till soft (I add a small amount of brown sugar to help brown them a bit and to make the tomato flavour a bit less acidic.) Add chopped garlic when leeks are soft and sauté together for a minute or two.  Then add tomatoes and chopped kale and mix till the kale begins to soften.  Once the kale is soft add the shrimp and mix thoroughly. Cover and let it finish cooking for about 3-4 minutes.

Put in a plate and sprinkle with some feta cheese and serve.

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!

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.

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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.

Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce

This recipe comes from the Fine Cooking website. My cousin Rebecca tried this and thought it was amazing.
Here is an image from her versionRebeccas dinner
For the scallops:
  • 1 lb. dry large sea scallops
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into six  pieces
  • 2 Tbs. finely diced shallot (1 medium shallot)
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley and chives
  • 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 lemon wedges for serving
TIP:

Be sure to have all your ingredients prepped for the sauce (shallots diced, herbs chopped) before you begin searing the scallops

Remove the tough abductor muscle from the side of each scallop (some scallops are sold with the muscle already removed). If you feel any grit on the scallops, rinse them under cold water. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels; surface moisture impedes browning.

Heat a 10- or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oil and butter, if using, and heat until quite hot. Pat the scallops dry once more and put them in the pan in a single, uncrowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the scallops to a plate, and set them in a warm spot. Let the pan cool for a minute before you make the sauce.

Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce Recipe

Return the pan to medium heat. Add a piece of the butter (1/2 Tbs.) and the shallots and sauté until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth or wine and simmer until reduced by about half, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the herbs and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until the butter melts into the sauce. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan. Gently roll the scallops in the sauce to warm them through. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the scallops.

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photo by Scott Phillips
Serving Suggestions

Serve with an Arugula & Fennel Salad with Orange & Fennel Seed Dressing & Toasted Hazelnuts and Real Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on three servings; Calories (kcal): 346; Fat (g): 22; Fat Calories (kcal): 195; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 26; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): 5; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 668; Cholesterol (mg): 80; Fiber (g): 0;