Grilled leeks 3 2014

Grilled Leeks and Dealing With Customer Service

We all have those days where one thing is planned and after a few left turns you end up with something completely different. 

I had planned to do the oven roasted tomato sauce with pasta that I made last week.  I have an irritating quirk that I’ll take the time to make a grocery list and still forget something.  This time I forgot pasta.  I had to come up with plan b as our pasta attachment is making weird loud noises.  Not a good sign!

So I decided to do grilled leeks, the oven roasted tomato sauce over grilled steak, and roasted potato medallions. 

As I was prepping the food for the grill the skies opened up and sheets of rain just poured down.  I thought I was heading for plan c thinking I’d have to grill them on the stove top.  Workable but just not the same.  Fortunately at the last minute the skies cleared.

I kept the steak simple with just salt and pepper as I was going to use the sauce with it. 

Grilled leeks 1 2014

Cut the leeks to size and coat them in some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ratio is 2 to 1.  Season with salt and pepper. 

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The leeks need to be grilled on medium heat, turning them as they cook.  Sear the steak on high heat.

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Then I nearly derailed dinner again.  I got my mobile phone bill and saw they were overbilling me.  Whenever we travel overseas I get an international plan for the time we travel.  I call when we get back I call to get the plan canceled and prorated.  I’ve never had trouble with this before but they didn’t do as I asked so I made the mistake calling while I was finishing dinner.  It should have been a five minute call to be done while the steak was resting.  Wrong!  I had the bad luck of getting someone with a bad attitude and not the brightest bulb.  So while I was alternating being on hold and trying to get a supervisor I was plating and taking pictures.  Not the best combo!

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And I missed most of dinner with the family which, while my fault for calling, wasn’t cool!

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I did get a good resolution with someone else in the end and I got a thumbs up from the family on the sauce with the steak and the grilled leaks.  Just could have done without the twisty turns.  :)

Grilled carrots 2 2014

Something New to Grill – Carrots!

I love grilling season and have tried several things when it comes to veg.  The normal things like corn, peppers, onions.  Love grilling mushrooms but I came across a post by Farm to Table Life for grilled carrots

I was intrigued.  And as they said in their post, why haven’t I tried this before?  And I’m also wondering what else I can grill. 

Grilled carrots 1 2014

Mix a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and some chopped rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Wash and dry the carrots.  Lightly coat the carrots with the marinade.  Heat the grill to about 350F/175C.

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Grill until it is cooked the way you like.  Some like them firm like I do and some like it cooked much softer.  Do turn them as they cook keeping in mind that smaller ones will cook faster.

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Serve immediately.  I really enjoyed this and will make it again. And the colours really pop.  What do you grill that might be unusual?

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

Eggs Benedict with Avocado

There was a break in the humidity this weekend which allowed us to take advantage of weather to do a lot of little chores in the garden.  I am a bit worried about the potatoes as the leaves are looking a worse for wear.  After some research I realised that we aren’t given enough nutrients for them.  Hopefully I can get that sorted this week. 

Still no sign of the parsnips.  I mean none sprouted.  I find it really strange so I’m wondering if the packet of seeds was any good.  Keeping fingers crossed we chased off the rabbits again this year.  We were dealing with squirrels and the rabbits snuck in.  One was bold.  I ran towards it making all sorts of noise and it just looked at me.  Guess I need to work on my technique. 

After several hours of puttering about I was in the mood for a hearty lunch.  I had an avocado and some homemade ciabatta bread so it was a small leap to eggs benedict.  Makes sense, right?

As delicious as this meal is there is some of juggling with the prep to get it all done at the same time.  I made a half recipe from the Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook as a 1/2 cup was enough.  Set up the ciabatta to be toasted and buttered, then set up the eggs to be poached

If you are new to hollandaise sauce definitely use a double boiler.  When I started I didn’t have one and so learned in a small saucepan. 

In the pan over very low heat whisk two small egg yolks.

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These need to be whisked but not so much you scramble them.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and slowly add 1/8lb of melted butter while stirring.

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Slowly add a tablespoon of hot water, dash of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir for a minute or so until thickened.  

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Layer the bread, avocado, poached eggs, and the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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This is such a treat when the egg is cut into and the yolk blends with the hollandaise sauce.

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After a hard morning working in the garden this was a great reward. 

Corn bacon 7 2014

I Love the Colours of Summer Food!

We were spoilt when we were in England with the summer weather. My kind of summer weather where I don’t feel like I’m about to melt and I start to wonder if there is room in the fridge for me.  My husband heard a report on the BBC talking about how muggy the weather was.  Ha! I’ll take their version over the mugginess we get here any day of the week.  It was fabulous sleeping weather.  Right now there is a wall of humidity waiting for us just outside the door.  Ugh.  Thank goodness for A/C.

Of course this time of year comfort food is right out the window.  At least the heavy stick to your ribs kind.  Yesterday I reached back to one of my earlier cookbooks that I got when I moved out on my own to make a corn dish that is packed with flavour but is light and easy to make.  I drew inspiration from “Skillet Suppers” by Andrea Chesman.  It was published back in 1994.  I haven’t opened it in years so it was time to dust it off.  This is my version of their Cajun Macque Choux.  Their version has evaporated milk and prawns.  I took out the milk and replaced the prawns with chicken.

I also love this dish for all the bright colours of the ingredients.

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This is a one skillet meal which makes for very easy clean up.  Chop about 5-6 slices of streaky bacon depending on how thick they are and cube a breast of chicken.

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Start cooking the bacon in the skillet to render the fat.  Once it’s about half way cooked add the chicken in. 

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Thinly slice a quarter of a red onion and add it to the bacon and chicken.  When the onion begins to soften add the chopped jalapeno and a cup of chopped pepper.  Any colour you wish.  Stir well as this cooks.

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Add about 10oz of frozen corn, 1/3 – 1/2 cup of chopped scallion, and a teaspoon or so of fresh thyme. Have this on medium heat.

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Once the corn is about half way cooked add a handful of chopped fresh basil and a chopped tomato.  I used about a cups worth of tomato.

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Season with salt, black pepper, and white pepper.  Stir well and cook until the corn and chicken are finished. 

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This is a very simple but flavourful dish.  I only used one jalapeno in this dish but you could use hotter peppers or more hot peppers if you wish.  My son and I liked the mild heat in this dish but my husband would have loved more omph.  :) 

 

Seared Tuna Avocado 5 2014

Seared Tuna in a Cup

Our son turns 10 soon, where does the time go?  But because we did the family celebrations this past Sunday he gets to enjoy a month of celebrations.  Needless to say he’s tickled pink.  But given our kids live in two households and then the various extended families their birthdays can go on for a few weeks.  It takes awhile to get it all in!

As a treat for the birthdays I did up my raspberry lemon cupcakes and decorated a few of them as minions.  You can’t go wrong with minions!

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In addition to the chicken salad on apple slices I wanted to do a seafood dish.  This dish would be great for a tapas night as well.  In a bowl add two avocados.

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Finely chop up a bit of red onion.

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Mash them together and add lime juice to taste, adobe seasoning, cilantro, and chili powder.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.  To keep it from browning add the avocado pits to the dish.  I made this a few hours ahead of time as this gets put together at time of serving.

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For the BBQ we had wood available to cook over.  I brought a grill pan to sear the tuna.  Season with salt and pepper then sear both sides.  This only takes a couple of minutes.

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Fill mini phyllo cups with the avocado and then top with the sliced tuna.

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It was an enjoyable day enjoying good food, beautiful weather, and listening to the kids playing and laughing.

 

BLT Grilled Cheese 4 2014

A Most Indulgent Grilled Cheese…

I do my best to stay healthy and eat well.  You know, try to avoid clogging the arteries.  But there are times you just have to go for it.  Throw caution to the wind and indulge.  I had seen variations  on the theme of adding a fried egg to sandwiches so I thought I’d some fun with a grilled cheese.

This is a BLT, bacon and egg, grilled cheese treat.  I’d say I’d kept it somewhat healthy by adding the tomato and lettuce but who am I kidding!

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It’s amazing how the mention of the word bacon can light a fire under someone.  My husband uttered the word and I’m not sure my son’s feet touched the stairs on the way down!

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After cooking up the bacon and making our dogs drool in optimism I fried my egg in the bacon fat.  I love eggs fried in bacon fat but this is a very rare treat as it wouldn’t do a body good so to speak to have it too often.   While the egg was frying we grilled the sandwich with jarlsberg cheese, the bacon, tomato, and lettuce.  Don’t forget to butter the outside!  Separate the sandwich and place the egg on one half, season with salt and pepper.

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Carefully cut the sandwich in half.  I recommend doing this on the actual plate as the egg is runny.

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It was a my oh my kind of sandwich.  A bit messy but delicious.  :)

Grilled salmon 7 2014

Early Taste of Summer With Grilled Salmon

It was my kind of day yesterday.  Warm sun, a slight breeze, and time available to get in the garden.  Perfect weather!  We are doing a major tackle of our flower garden this year which will be shown in an upcoming post.  But suffice it to say, the grass has been winning.  So we’re rolling up our sleeves and plotting our strategy for winning back the space for our flowers.

Yesterday definitely put me in the mood for bright flavours and grilling.  It also reminded me that I need to get our outside table cleaned and set up with the chairs.  It would have been lovely to have dinner outside.

I discovered at the co-op that wild sockeye salmon is back in season so that was the base of the meal for my daughter and I.  For my husband and son I grilled up some curry chicken sausages and grilled veg.  But for me the salmon was the prize.  I found this recipe for tomato avocado relish and thought I’d do a version for our dinner.  One thing I love about the warmer weather is many dishes that go on the grill are so easy to throw together and you can have a fabulous fresh meal in less than 30 minutes.  And clean up is even easier!

I prepped the food in stages as the sausages had to go first.  I sliced up the lemon for the grilling.  This is one of the lightbulb moments when you first see it.  Grill the salmon on the lemon!  It is such a no brainer but really raises the flavour profile on the dish.  I will definitely be using this method going forward.

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To make the tomato and avocado salad I first did up the dressing of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part white balsamic vinegar and whisked it to an emulsion then seasoned with salt and pepper.

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I sliced up an avocado.  This is fast becoming one of my favourite foods.  It goes well in a lot of dishes but is also a superfood so for me it’s a win-win.  My other favourite foods include crisps which isn’t on the superfood list by any stretch of the imagination.  So I’m getting one right!  :)  Chop up a fresh scallion.  I’m not a huge fan of raw onion as it is too much for me but in dishes like this it gives it just enough zip.

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I found at the co-op some local cherry tomatoes, they must be grown in a hot house and while not the same as fresh from the garden they taste better than those trucked in from afar.  Slice them in half and add them to the dressing along with the scallion and avocado.  Toss to coat with the dressing.

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Set aside and spread out the lemon slices on the hot grill and place the salmon on top.

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This is a great trick for two reasons, one it doesn’t stick to the grill, and second it imparts a lovely lemony flavour to the fish without overpowering it.  Once the fish is cooked place it on some mixed greens and top with the tomato avocado salad.

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I’ll admit I went for presentation for the photo then added more of the tomato avocado salad!  My daughter and I loved this dish and I look forward to having it again.

Apricot Ginger Chicken 6 2014

Apricot Ginger Chicken and The Balance of Shopping Locally

I wouldn’t count myself as an activist.  I don’t march round with signs or knock on the door of city hall but as I get more into what goes into the food on our table I wonder if I shouldn’t be finding a way to speak up.  It perplexes me the lack of concern many have when it comes to what goes into their bodies.  Mind you, I’m not perfect.  You won’t see me giving up the Cadbury Creme Eggs ever.  The real ones, not the ones Hershey makes under license.  But overall I want the scales tipped in my favour in terms of how much good stuff we should consume.

There have been some interesting things coming out in the news lately as there is a gradual growing demand to know what is in the food.  Kashi got it’s wrist slapped because they were using GMOs.  So much for all natural.  They pledge to change.  Our co-op had a sign stating they were trying to resource some organic veg away from Cascadia Farms as they were sourcing from China.  If you look closely at their package they talk about their “home farm” being in the US.  This bothers me.  I try very hard to buy my food that was grown and produced in the US as I live here.  And if I buy imports I want to know where they came from.

The big thing we try to do is buy locally as round here there aren’t many, if any, industrial farms for meat or produce.  We get to know the farmers.  I’m currently reading “Blessing the Hands That Feed Us” by Vicki Robin. She did a month long experiment where she only ate what she could get within a 10 mile radius.  If it was produced beyond that then it was off limits.  It’s definitely food for thought.

We actually do pretty well in this department.  I think, particularly in the warmer months, the majority of our food is local.  The dilemma I face with shopping locally is the balance of organic vs nonorganic.  Is it better to buy organic that has been trucked in or local produce that has been sprayed?  We have a fabulous berry farm but they aren’t organic.  I know they try to do low impact spraying but still.  I think at the end of the day for us I’d prefer organic.  Won’t be GMO if it is organic.  But I do love our network of farms here.  It’s fabulous.

This meal that I prepared can actually be all local with the exception of two ingredients, brown rice and cinnamon.  Which isn’t too bad.  We can get local apricots here though it is an extremely short season.

I made this with lamb for Easter but the pictures were horrid.  Must have been rushing round that day.  So I decided to make the sauce again but with chicken and brown rice.

Ginger can even be a local ingredient. I need to research how to grow it in our area.  Which would be good as this ginger is from Hawaii.  It took a longer trip than my Creme Eggs.

Apricot Ginger Chicken 1 2014

Cut and peel about an inch square and set aside for grating later.

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Mince 4 cloves of garlic and finely chop about 1/2 a cup of red onion.  Saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes until it is softened.

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We used chicken thighs for this and I cut them into cubes.  Start browning the chicken, when they are halfway cooked add the garlic.

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Instead of using chicken stock like I normally would with chicken I used veg bouillon to give this dish a bit of depth.  I used about a cup.  Bring it up to a simmer and start grating the ginger.  Add between a 1/3 and a 1/2 a cup of apricot jam, preferably no sugar added or it will be very sweet.

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Mix well and add a dash or two of cinnamon.  Cook until the chicken is done then serve over the brown rice.

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Some may want a lot of ginger flavour so add as much ginger as you would like to your taste.  I have a feeling this sauce would work with salmon as well.  :)

Stuffed cucumber 5 2014

Stuffed Cucumbers and If It Looks Like a Duck and Walks Like a Duck…

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination but there are times when the military or government are so blatant it beggars belief.  About 2pm on Wednesday afternoon there was a massive boom that shook all the homes over several towns and it lasted just a second or so.  Because it snowed the night before a lot of us thought snow was falling off our roofs but as we only got an inch and most of it melted by then we were very quickly puzzled about what the hell just happened.  It felt like a truck hit the house.

So of course a lot of people were circling their homes and businesses looking for damage.  What was it?  A sonic boom.  Which is illegal over populated areas.  So the MA National Guard are saying it was just normal jet noise.  The only ones that seem to believe that are the people at the MA National Guard.  It isn’t the fact it was a sonic boom that bothers me, though given how it freaked out our dogs I’m ok without the booms, it’s the fact they are lying about it.  I mean, give over people.  Guinness was very needy for about 24 hours.  Murphy was just fine in his armchair of choice.

Fortunately this past Sunday was much quieter.  We got the family together to celebrate a few birthdays and we did a sort of tapas lunch.  Loads of flavours but not a ton of cooking required.  My mum loves peaches so we did up some peach bellinis which was fun and went down very easily!

I came across a recipe for cucumber feta rolls that looked interesting and I did a variation of those for Sunday.

I decided not to make them into rolls as it would be less messy and I wouldn’t have to worry about toothpicks making their way to the floor then into the dogs.  So I sliced the cucumber into 3/4″ or so slices then hollowed out the top.

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My husband found some locally made feta cheese that was quite nice.  Crumble about 4oz and add a few dollops of plain greek yoghurt.

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Slice up a few pieces of sun dried tomatoes.  It’s on my list this summer to try to make some with the tomatoes from our garden.  Should be an interesting experiment!

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Mix with the cheese and yoghurt, add some chopped oregano and salt and pepper.  Squeeze a splash or so of lemon juice and stir it together.  My husband and son don’t like olives so instead of chopping the kalamata olives and mixing them in I just topped most of these with a slice of olive.

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Very easy to make for a dinner party or for a healthy snack.  And I do love the pairing of sun dried tomatoes and olives.

 

Pizza burrito 6 2014

A Hawaiian Twist For A Fun Dinner

We woke up to snow this morning.  Typical.  I was so hoping that the warmer days would have continued this week so I could get out in the garden and start getting veg in.  I’m getting a bit antsy to be outside!

Even though it was the last bit of tax season and all the craziness that goes along with it I was able to get some cooking done this past weekend.   I found a pin for a fun sandwich to make though unfortunately no recipe was attached so I just used it as an inspiration.   Our son calls this a pizzarito.  It’s a hawaiian themed pizza burrito.  So easy to make and the kids love it.

This is also great for when you don’t have a ton of time for dinner.  The longest bit is getting the chicken grilled.  Marinate thin bits of chicken breast in the BBQ sauce of your choice.

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Slice up some red onion and pineapple.  For those that love jalepenos slice up a few as well.  It adds a nice bite.

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Lay out a wrap and spoon the BBQ sauce and spread it out.   We used a somewhat sweet sauce but I’d recommend something on the spicy side to balance the sweetness of the pineapple.   Layer the sliced grilled chicken with the onion, pineapple, and cheese.  Then layer ham over the top.

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Wrap tightly then heat up using a panini press or on the stove top like a grilled cheese.

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Cut in half and serve immediately.

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It was delicious and perfect for a fun dinner with the kids.

And now that tax season is over I get to finally start catching up with all the posts!  I’ve missed reading them all.  :)