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Archive for July, 2012

We first had this slaw in NYC about 5 years ago at Susur Lee’s now defunct Shang restaurant in NYC’s LES (Lower East Side). Fortunately, he still serves this incredible dish in Toronto and DC. This is not a new slaw in our household. In fact, a month doesn’t go by without a version of this slaw surfacing (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) offering up left-overs for the entire week. Yes, we love it THAT much! I decided it would make a lovely main course with BBQ’d rib eye slices (the way Lorraine makes the steak here) last weekend for our dinner party. It was a huge success and now I have slaw left overs for the week!

I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe recently, you can see the original Susur Lee’s recipe on Food Network or in his gorgeous book A Culinary Life; my version below, is my version. Now the ingredient list is daunting, but I beg you not to be put off, it is a recipe worth making. Also, a lot of time can be cut down if you get everything organized “mise en place” before beginning. I will go through some of my time saving techniques in TIPS below and hopefully it will help encourage you to make it. It is one damn good slaw, if I do say so myself.

Despite the overwhelming number of ingredients, it is WORTH making this slaw

It’s not all that time consuming if you have everything ‘mise en place’

It’s such a colourful slaw, that your eyes sing with glee when you first see it. Please click here to see the slaw Chef Lee and his famous slaw.

You can chop your herbs by hand, but I needed a time saver on this day, so I chopped them in my Cuisinart mini processor

It’s all about balance in this slaw, so tasting throughout is very important

The colourful dry ingredients above.

By keeping the ‘wet’ ingredients separate to the ‘dry’ you will preserve the freshness of this slaw and be able to stretch it out over a week

It’s all about balance of flavours.

The dressing is sweet, tart, tangy and a bit spicy

I had a luncheon of grilled shrimp and the slaw. YUM YUM YUM!

The assembly with the pickled onions, watercress and grilled shrimp

Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw, AKA 19 Ingredient Slaw

Serve 8-10 (please click here to see the original unadulterated recipe)

Ingredients:

Pickled Red Onion (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme

Salted Apricot Dressing (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 cup dried apricot
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (taste and adjust)
  • lime juice (to taste) I find the dressing a little sweet and the lime juice helps cut it, but you must taste it to be sure there is balance.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  • 1 pickled red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Apricot Dressing
  • 1 large English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 medium sized mango, firm but not soft, peeled and julienned
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (to dress)
  • handful of watercress (to dress)

For the herb mix:

  • 1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Make the pickled onion and dressing 2 days ahead, so it has time to develop the flavours, plus it will take the pressure off having to do everything in one day. Store both in the refrigerator.

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  1. Peel and julienne red onion and set aside in a medium bowl. In small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Season with salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaf, and thyme; continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a heat proof jar while hot and let sit for at least 1 hour or two days in the fridge.

For the Salted Apricot Dressing:

  1. In an immersion blender container, combine the dried apricot, vinegar, mirin, onion, sugar, ginger, and salt. Purée until smooth. Taste and add lime juice and additional sugar if necessary.

TIPS:

  • A mandolin with a fine julienne attachment is a MUST. I use my Borner Roko Vegetable Shredder. Part of the beauty of this slaw is that all the ingredients are julienned uniformly, plus you’ll be standing for a very long time if you have to do this by hand! You need not clean it out between shredding as it all goes into the same pot.
  • Get yourself two large bowls and one medium sized bowl. One large bowl is for your ‘dry’ ingredients and one is for the peelings; the medium sized bowl is for your wet ingredients.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  1. Julienne the wet ingredients first mango and cucumber, as there are only two, combine well and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Julienne the ‘dry’ ingredients: carrot, jicama, fennel and purple cabbage, combine well and set aside.
  3. Wash and dry all the herbs for the herb mix, including the green onion. Add to a little food processor (I find the fuller it is the better) and processes until all the herbs are finely chopped. Add to the “dry” ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Serving:

  1. In a new bowl, take 2/3 of the “dry” ingredients and 1/3 of the “wet” and combine thoroughly. Dress with about 1/4 of the dressing (start small and increase as required) and combine well. Serve on a platter, piled high in the centre. Sprinkle sesame seeds overall and dress with the watercress leaves. Add the pickled onion over the summit to curl here and there (you don’t need a lot, just a few strands). Serve immediately with grilled chicken, grilled steak (please see Lorraine’s amazing technique for a full flavoured steak here), tofu or shrimp.

Thai Marinated Steak:

Prepare your steak just as Lorraine shows you in her blog here (don’t worry, it works like a charm!). Once it has aged for a couple of days, marinate it in the marinade below for a few hours.

Ingredients:

  • 50 mL lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems and roots
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in the bowl of an immersion blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Pour over the aged steak and refrigerate. Turn the steak throughout the day occassionally.
  3. Remove steak from fridge for about 1 hour to bring to room temperature before grilling.
  4. Follow Lorraine’s instructions on grilling.

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It’s been blazing hot in Toronto, as I am sure most of my dear readers are experiencing in the northern hemisphere. For our dinner party last week, I decided to make the Armenian Nutmeg Cake (OK, I didn’t make another cake, I simply defrosted the cake I made about a month ago) and I wanted to serve it warm with a cold scoop of hazelnut frozen yogurt. I chose hazelnut because I adore the flavour (no, JT didn’t even save me a bite of the frozen yogurt) and I wanted something nutty to go with the nutmeg cake. I also made a very easy caramel sauce (just used ordinary milk instead of cream, which still worked out but wasn’t as creamy). Now this recipe is not entirely fat-free because hazelnuts contain fat, but it’s about balance, I saved the fat with using fat free Greek Yogurt so I didn’t mind adding the ground hazelnuts. You could leave the ground hazelnuts out entirely opting to use just the extract but then you will need to balance with a bit more sugar, as roasted hazelnuts have a bit of sweetness to them.

All in all the recipe worked out well. The yogurt adds a very nice tanginess to the frozen dessert that I liked. The caramel sauce balanced the tanginess (good call JT). And I adore a contrast of warm and cold; cake: warm, frozen yogurt: cold!

Creamy, nutty, low fat frozen yogurt.

Low Fat Hazelnut Frozen Yogurt

Makes a little more than 500 g of frozen yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (I found this method after I painstakingly peeled mine the old fashioned way!)
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp hazelnut extract
  • 500 g non-fat Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. In a coffee grinder reserved for this type of thing (i.e. not coffee) grind the hazelnuts, salt and brown sugar until it becomes a paste (like peanut butter). Mine took about 10 minutes, stopping to allow the machine to cool down every so often.
  2. Whisk the hazelnut extract into the non-fat Greek yogurt, and then whisk in the hazelnut mixture. I found the mixture was a bit lumpy so I took my immersion blender and blended it until I no longer saw any lumps. Doing this will make the yogurt a bit more liquidy, but it still works.
  3. Pour into the chilled ice cream bowl and assemble as per instructions. Turn on and allow the machine to work its magic. Mine took about 20 minutes. Scrape into a freezable container and freeze.
  4. Frozen fat free Greek yogurt doesn’t have enough fat to make it creamy straight out of the freezer, so I had to bring it out to sit on the counter for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how cool your house it. Scoop onto prepared plates and drizzle with the easiest caramel sauce ever.

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My friends Angela and Gordon (the couple for whom this menu was served) gave me a book for my birthday, called Beaten, Seared and Sauced by Jonathan Dixon. It is a book about Johnathon, a late 30’s guy trying to find himself at the Culinary Institute of America in the Hudson Valley, chronicling the trials and tribulations of his journey through cooking school. It’s not like ’50 Shades’ where I couldn’t put it down, but his writing is compelling enough that I missed my streetcar stop twice already! I thought I would start this post with this quote that really defines how I cook; to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it really is me:

“If you follow a recipe blindly, you’re never going to really get that recipe into your blood. You need to memorize it, envision it, see it in your head. Then you’re going to be cooking.” Page 139 Beaten, Seared and Sauced, by Jonathan Dixon.

Well, I may not actually memorize the recipe, but I do get a sense of the recipe and where I want to take it and work through it from memory. Of course,  no one is grading me either! Thanks for the book Angela and Gordon, I’m almost finished it!

Greg, Greg, Greg. Your posts seem to get into my head and just keep playing over and over like one of those songs that you just can’t stop singing (you know what I mean, Kristy). I’m not saying that it’s bad, but let’s just say that it can complicate things. Case in point, I thought I was done, finished, انتهى, fertig, kész, terminado  (well, you get what I mean) with my weekend dinner party menu; I had a great hors d’œuvres, a great appetizer and an equally delicious and light main and a fantastic dessert. And then I remembered that post for Lemon Basil Granita Greg did. You know what it’s like? It’s like you’re almost finished in the kitchen; you’re tired, your back aches and all you want to do is sit down. And then it happens. You know what I mean: you glance up at the big ol’ wall clock and say, “Oh, I still have time, I can make XXX!” Well, that’s what happened to me on Saturday. I had just finished cleaning up, put the last of the dishes away and wham-o, Greg’s granita invaded my head. I had no choice but to make it, or something similar to it. My dinner theme was more Asian fusion so I switched up the flavours to represent Asian flavours and I reduced the sugar as I was using this course as a palate cleanser and not a dessert. The result was very refreshing and tasty. I will keep this recipe and will make it again.

It was over 30°C (86°F) on Saturday, so I didn’t want to fill all the glasses for fear they would melt and I’d have to start again. So there you have it.

The lemongrass and Thai basil infused simple syrup flavoured the ice perfectly to cleanes the palate and refresh to get us ready for the main course.

The subtle lemongrass and Thai basil was a refreshing palate cleanser after the roasted red pepper soup

Lemongrass and Thai Basil Granita

Inspired by Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

Serves 4-6 depending on size of glass, our glasses were just over 60 mL or 1/4 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped lemongrass, packed
  • 25-30 Thai Basil leaves, washed
  • 2-4 tbsp granulated sugar, to taste
  • 150 mL water
  • 150 mL water
  • 50 mL lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan, add 150mL water, sugar and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, (taste and add more sugar if required) reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes so it is reduced a bit. Remove from heat and add the Thai basil leaves, really immersing them in the hot liquid. Cover and allow to cool; refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a small, freezable container, add 150mL water, lemon juice and 1 tbsp icing sugar and mix well. Taste and add sugar as required.
  3. Strain the lemongrass syrup and add to the lemon juice and water, mix well. Taste and add additional icing sugar if required.
  4. Freeze for 3-4 hours; loosen granules with a fork once it begins to freeze to get the beautiful shaved ice.
  5. Serve in a pretty vintage glass with a garnish of Thai Basil or mint.

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We interrupt the stream of recipes from our dinner party here to bring you the blog post about my birthday dinner.

All photos were taken with the iPhone 4G.

Sparkling water made directly in the restaurant; no need to pay $8.00 for a bottle of San Pellegrino!

My friend Barb (of Profiteroles and Ponytails) put us onto a restaurant in Toronto called Victor (in the St. Germain Hotel) where Executive Chef David Chrystian offers a prix fix dinner where the guest chose the secret ingredient and the chefs prepare one of each of the five courses using non-other than your secret ingredient. I was intrigued; our very own Iron Chef competition? I just had to try it out, so we decided to make this the celebratory birthday dinner on Saturday (my birthday was on Sunday, but who wants to go out for a fancy dinner on Sunday?). The dinner was a wonderful precursor to the lovely robin’s egg blue box with the traditional white ribbon I was spoiled with on my birthday.

Chef David Chrystian was also one of the first round of participants in Top Chef Canada, season 1, and a very worthy adversary. Unfortunately he was eliminated, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good; competition is severe and time is short, a bad day can make or break you in this quest. Some go on the show not to win, but to gain publicity in the bigger picture of their career path, not saying this was the case with Chef David. It’s kind of like American Idol, not all the winners are as successful as the one’s who were eliminated. Just saying. Getting on a show like Top Chef is grueling enough (1,000’s apply), making it through several rounds of elimination is success and it’s National TV. We Canadians just gobble that stuff up.

We chose coffee as the secret ingredient. I was intrigued to see how creative the chefs can be and still make it an enjoyable and elegant dinner. We would not be disappointed. Although, I will come right out and say it, the coffee component was weak. Not that the food wasn’t unbelievably delicious, it just didn’t sing coffee. It did not hinder our 2.5 hour dinner, during which we talked about each course and sometimes at length with our server.

A little text about the chef and the secret ingredient

Our places were set with an intro card which talked about the Chef and on the reverse side was the Score Card. Each dish was presented and explained by our server and was scored in four considerations, each one out of five points:

The Score Card. There is a typo on dish 4, taste, they should all be out of 5!

Dish 1: We were presented with Coffee/Carraway Rye with Ctirus Gravlax, Coffee Crème Fraiche. Interesting. We tasted distinct coffee in the crème fraiche and noticed how well it went with the citrus Gravlax, but the Coffee/Carraway Rye was not strong enough to notice. Tasty non-the-less and a very nice portion.

Beautifully presented on a piece of slate

  1. How well was the theme ingredient incorporated into the dish? JT 3/5, Me 3/5
  2. How original was the dish or how authentic? JT 3/5, Me 4/5
  3. Presentation? JT 4/5, Me 4/5
  4. Taste? JT 3/5, Me 3.5/5

Total: 27.5

Dish 2: “Breakfast Soup” we had no idea what to expect. We were presented with a very large bowl of Vichyssoise with a poached egg that was breaded and deep fried, drizzled with a balsamic and coffee glaze. It turned out to be my favourite from a taste perspective. The soup was incredibly silky and the egg was perfectly cooked so that when I cut into it, the yolk oozed all over the soup. Sadly the balsamic overtook the coffee and neither of us could taste it. But it was the best “breakfast soup” I’ve ever had. I could eat only half and forgot to ask to bring it home. Oops, forgot to take a photo!

  1. How well was the theme ingredient incorporated into the dish? JT 2/5, Me 1/5
  2. How original was the dish or how authentic? JT 3/5, Me 4/5
  3. Presentation? JT 3/5, Me 4.5/5
  4. Taste? JT 4/5, Me 4/5

Total: 25.5

Dish 3: Moroccan Coffee Chicken Tagine; when the server mentioned to the chef that we were just in Morocco last November, he said “oh, crap, I’m in trouble”. Although the dish was incredibly tasty, it was neither Moroccan nor did it have a distinct coffee flavour. It was served over basmati rice, but I wondered why it wouldn’t have been couscous? They served it in a little cast iron pot, and neither JT nor I could finish off the portion but we had the good sense to ask to bring it home! It was incredibly tasty.

Now why wouldn’t you serve couscous with a Moroccan dish?

  1. How well was the theme ingredient incorporated into the dish? JT 1/5, Me 1/5
  2. How original was the dish or how authentic? JT 3/5, Me 2/5
  3. Presentation? JT 4/5, Me 4.5/5
  4. Taste? JT 5/5, Me 4.5/5

Total: 25

Mmmmm. This made a very tasty lunch on Monday.

Dish 4: Espresso Glazed Beef Tenderloin with Espresso BBQ Sauce; a beautifully presented course, with about 2 oz of meat, we were getting really full by this time. The BBQ sauce was tasty and although there was a touch of coffee flavour, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. On top of it, pairing beef with coffee or espresso is not new and ground breaking creative. Non-the-less it was a very yummy course.

Small pieces of tenderloin served with roasted little baby vegetables

  1. How well was the theme ingredient incorporated into the dish? JT 1/5, Me 1.5/5
  2. How original was the dish or how authentic? JT 3/5, Me 2/5
  3. Presentation? JT 3/5, Me 4.5/5
  4. Taste? JT 4/5, Me 4.5/5

Total:  23.5

Dish 5: Dark Chocolate Espresso Tart with Coffee Anglais; a very small tart (which was just perfect because now we were seriously full) that had great chocolate flavour (too bad our ingredient wasn’t chocolate) but little coffee, even the crème Anglais was sweeter than it was coffee. But a beautifully presented course and just the right amount of dessert. Oops, forgot to take this photo too! Oh well, it would have been quite dark, anyway.

  1. How well was the theme ingredient incorporated into the dish? JT 3/5, Me 2.5/5
  2. How original was the dish or how authentic? JT 4/5, Me 3.5/5
  3. Presentation? JT 3/5, Me 4.5/5
  4. Taste? JT 4/5, Me 4/5

Total:  28.5

We had distinct winner, the pastry chef with the Dark Chocolate Espresso Tart with Coffee Anglais. This surprised me since I am not much of a sweet eater. The server reported back to the chefs!

I do have a few thoughts that could have made it even better. I would have enjoyed each Chef coming out to present each of their course (obviously, this is not easy on a busy night, but come on, there were two other couples in the whole place!). Chef David was not even at the restaurant on Saturday, apparently he was married earlier in the week and was taking a couple of days off. I was disappointed because my friend Claudia (from Food Network, who knows Chef David) emailed him that a friend of her’s was coming in on Saturday! I was hoping for a photo opportunity! Sigh, bad timing on our part. And last but not least, the final score should have been a bigger deal than it was. The server just asked us to tally it up and she reported back to the kitchen and that was that. Not sure what else could have happened, but it seemed anti-climactic.

And to end on a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, the food being the forefront even in discussion and I really liked that. The restaurant was not busy at all (summer time is bad for them) so we had great service and it was quiet. Overall a great evening, that’s for sure. And we’ll likely do it again for another special occasion. If you have a chance to come to Toronto, I urge you to sample this unique experience.

The cost was $80 per person, plus libations, not an inexpensive dinner, but certainly worth it.

We paid for our dinner in full, and the opinions above are exactly that, my opinions.

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I knew I wanted to make a chilled soup for our dinner party last weekend because it’s been so darn hot (not complaining) and I knew I wanted something a little unexpected than the traditional vichyçoissecucumber, avocado or even gazpachio — although all worthy soups in their own right. On top of it all Barb had posted a lovely asparagus soup recipe with a herb crusted goats cheese ball that really intrigued me. What to do, what to do? Off to the internet I went to find an unusual cold soup; my first stop was Epicurious and as luck would have it, there on the summertime meal feature page on my iPhone was a roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Call it kismet, serendipity or fate, this soup and I were meant to be.

The warm goats cheese ball is a nice surprise in the cold soup

The soup is a lovely balance of sweet red peppers and the acidity and sweetness of oven roasted tomatoes (or, in our case, BBQ roasted). There is a little raw green onion and a smidgen of garlic with a delightful earthy undertone of coriander. I also wanted to incorporate Barb’s goats cheese balls but I wanted a little contrast, so I rolled the goats cheese balls in sesame seeds and lightly fried them to brown the sesame seeds but more importantly, to heat up the goats cheese ball. Yup, I did the ole’ switcheroo and made the soup cold and the balls warm. It was a lovely contrast. JTs only comment was that there could have been more soup.

Chilled Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
with Warm Sesame Crusted Goats Cheese Balls

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

Serves 8 small bowls (125mL or 1/2 cup) or 4 large dinner sized bowls (250mL or 1 cup)

  • 4 red bell peppers, roasted on the BBQ (or oven), seeded and skinned
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, cut into 1 cm thick slices and roasted on the BBQ
  • 1/4 red chili pepper, roasted on the BBQ (or oven), seeded and skinned
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • water to achieve desired thickness
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (check for sweetness, and omit if the soup is sweet enough)

Goats Cheese balls ingredients:

  • 10 g (about 1 1/2 tsps) goats cheese per ball (I did one per serving)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds per ball
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blitz with the immersion blender until smooth, adding water until the desired consistency is achieved. You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock, but it’s not necessary as there is a already a plethora of flavours going on.
  2. Strain soup through a fine sieve. Don’t skip this step as it does ensure a very velvety soup without the addition of cream or butter. Refrigerate until serving. (the soup actually gets better if made one day and served the next).
  3. Roll the goats cheese into nice round balls and coat evenly with the sesame seeds (I used black and white). Heat a cast iron pan, spray with non-stick spray and gently fry the balls at medium temperature — you want to brown the sesame seeds and heat the ball through, you don’t want to melt the ball. Brown all sides evenly.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and carefully place one (or more) balls onto the soup. My soup was thick enough that the balls did not sink. Serve immediately.

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Today is my birthday, and in normal Pamela fashion (from Downton Abbey Cooks), I plan to continue the celebrations as long as I possibly can, so I’ll be celebrating all week long with luncheons and dinners and of course, the obligatory trips to the gym to offset the effects of said celebrations!

JT is actually taking me out for a special “Iron Chef” dinner which will require a post of its own. Stay tuned.

We were out Friday night at a relatively new place and I had the Caprese salad which was drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil without balsamic (this place is notorious for sticking to authentic Italian food and if it is NOT authentic, it’s simply NOT done) and it was delicious. Although I do love balsamic with tomatoes, this version allowed the subtle flavour of the bufalo mozzarella and the acidity of the tomatoes through. It was a very lovely experience, so I decided to create this simple hors d’œuvres the same way.

We were able to find mini Bufalo Mozzarella Cheese balls for this delightful hors d’œuvres. Mind you, we had to put a second mortgage on the house to buy them. When I asked JT how much they were, he said, “Don’t ask.”

Caprese Salad Bites

Serves 4, or two really hungry people!

Ingredients:

  • 16 grape tomatoes
  • 8 mini bufalo mozzarella cheese balls
  • 16 small basil leaves (I used both Italian basil and variegated basil)
  • 1-3 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 16 wooden toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Slice the bufalo mozzarella in halves.
  2. Skewer one tomato, one smallish basil leaf and the bufalo mozzarella; continue until you have them all done.
  3. Serve at room temperature, in a little bowl, drizzled with EVOO and Himalayan pink salt

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We had good friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I wanted to make a light, healthy dinner which we could all feel good about. The couple recently down-sized about 22.6 kg (50lbs) combined total weight and I sure did not want to make them feel bad with a heavy meal. Plus it’s been ridiculously hot in Toronto, with high humidity so a heavy meal isn’t even appealing. I also planned the meal so that we had little kitchen time, other than plating and serving. We served family style to allow each individual to have as much or as little as desired.

Over the following few days, I will document the recipes that I served; here is the menu to give you a little taste:

Cocktails: Home made Ginger Ale (recipe below. I was inspired by The Cook’s Sister with this recipe)

Hors D’œuvres: Bite-sized Caprese Salad with EVOO and Himalayan pink salt.

Appetizer: Chilled Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Warm Sesame Encrusted Goats Cheese Balls (Barb at Profiteroles and Ponytails gave me the idea for this recipe, but I did the ol’ switcheroo and made the soup cold and the balls warm)(insert all goats cheese ball jokes here 😉 )

Intermisso: Lemongrass and Thai Basil Granita

Main: Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw (aka 19 ingredients slaw) with Thai Marinated BBQ Steak (steak prepared as per Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella)

Dessert: Armenian Nutmeg Cake with Hazelnut Frozen Yogurt and Caramel Drizzle (the Armenian Nutmeg Cake was reinvented from a previous post)

Late night snack: Fresh Ontario Strawberries and Cantaloupe bites

Our guests last week were on a sabbatical from drinking alcohol so I wanted to make a special cocktail for the evening, I came across this recipe from The Cook’s Sister recently and bookmarked it for the occasion. I changed it up only to reflect the time I had to spend on the recipe, otherwise it was pretty similar. The ginger was strong enough to be refreshing and the added sugar made it just sweet enough to cut the heat from using fresh ginger. I really enjoyed it, it was a refreshing summer beverage. Of course, you can add booze to it to make it that much more interesting: gin, vodka, amber rum or whiskey seem to be preferred choices to add to ginger ale on the net.

A refreshing cocktail that aids in digestion! What more could you want?

Home made Ginger Ale

Original recipe can be found here

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated ginger (you will notice this is significantly less than the original recipe, but because it’s grated, it seems to infuse the water with enough flavour)
  • 2-4 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • 1 liter San Pelegrino (this is a lightly carbonated natural spring water)
  • 1 lime, cut into eights

Directions:

  1. To prepare the syrup, place the water, ginger, sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. I allowed it to boil for about 10 minutes to concentrate the flavours and reduce a bit.
  2. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate over night.
  3. When ready to serve, strain the ginger bits out of the syrup, pressing as much of the ginger juice out as possible.
  4. To serve, add 4 tbsp (or to taste) of the syrup to each glass mixing in the San Pelegrino. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with mint. Individuals can add as much freshly squeezed lime juice as desired.
  5. Cheers!

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You may recall I posted the hot and cold smoked salmon for our progressive dinner party here and I served it with a Quinoa Tabouleh (leave out the feta and poached egg) and a rather simple Creamy Cole Slaw by Martha Stewart. Since the recipe was basically verbatim, I wasn’t going to post it, but I’m still having the slaw having added more vegetables and made up more dressing, so I thought to my self, “self, this is good enough to post.” And so I shall. The dressing is sweet, tangy and creamy and it is not over the top. I don’t like the creamy slaws they serve in deli’s either as they are just too mayonnaise-y. This one is perfect. I know I will make this again during this summer. Because we had no salmon left over for lunches, on Sunday I had roasted a whole chicken with Herbs en Provence and just shredded it on the slaw. It was delicious.

A tangy but not too creamy slaw.

A Very Simple Creamy Cole Slaw (by Martha Stewart)

Serves 8-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar (you may not think this is necessary, but it really smooths out the flavours)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise (this was regular mayo)
  • 1/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt (this was sour cream)
  • 1 small napa cabbage, (about 1 3/4 pounds), finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded (this was 2)
  • 1 small celeriac, finely shredded (this is my addition)
  • 1 small chili pepper, diced finely as garnish (thank you Sissi for pointing out that I had missed this).

Directions:

  1. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, mayonnaise, and sour cream in a small bowl. Refrigerate dressing, covered, until ready to use, or up to 2 days.
  2. Put cabbage, carrots, and celeriac in a large bowl and toss. Reserve dressing until an hour or so before serving.
  3. Pour in dressing over the amount of slaw you will consume and toss thoroughly. Refrigerate, covered, until slaw begins to soften about 1 hour. If not using immediately, refrigerate undressed slaw, covered.

The shredded BBQ’d chicken with the herbs en Provence made it a lovely summertime dinner

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What goes around comes around right? My friend Charles at Five Euro Food posted this recipe last week and coincidentally I was just thinking about making a chick pea salad for dinner, so I thought, why not his recipe? His recipe incorporated all the flavours I love in Hummus but he made it into a delightful summer salad; and with the heat wave we’ve been having, it’s a perfect summertime dish (well, maybe not declared perfect by guest, but certainly perfect in my mind!). Of course, I didn’t have time to get to the green grocer, so I used vegetables I had on hand, which is exactly what Charles had prescribed.

I actually made it with two rather healthy sized cloves of garlic, and woe, it was strong; in fact, so strong, I had to rinse a portion off for JT so he doesn’t offend his customers! I ate mine full octane, because, well, it’s been rather slow these last couple of weeks so I just thought, what the heck! I’ll be eating the entire parsley plant later!

I took a bit of artistic license by adding roasted red and yellow peppers and tomatoes

Deconstructed Hummus Salad

A recipe from Five Euro Food, slightly altered.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 540 mL (19 oz) chick peas
  • 1-2 mini cucumbers, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 each roasted red and yellow peppers, cut into small cubes
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalopeño, finely chopped
  • 2 oven roasted tomatoes, diced (please see this post for oven roasting tomatoes; because of the heat, I did it on the BBQ)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) EVOO
  • 59 mL (1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. Combine the vegetables and chick peas and mix well. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. If you wish the vegetables to mix with the dressing in advance, I would suggest leaving out the cucumber until serving as it tends to get a bit on the mushy side.
  3. Serve over greens or spinach, as below.

It was a light, refreshing and garlicy dinner. Lunch will be wonderful tomorrow.

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I was over at Sissi’s blog last week and was intrigued by her Korean Pancake with Shrimp and Scallop. It really wasn’t the recipe that intrigued me, but her description of this unusual dish: “I was literally spellbound by this extraordinary snack” and as many of you commented I was curious to see why such a simple dish could possibly spellbind a sophisticated cook, like Sissi. So I had to make it.

When I mentioned to JT that we were having this pancake for dinner, he was skeptical, but he is open minded and will try anything once. After he finished 2/3’s of the dish, he turns to me and says “I would like you to make this again”. Now THAT is success in my books.

My first attempt was Sissi’s recipe verbatim (with the exception of the sauce, to which I added a bit of fresh ginger), but sadly the pancake broke in half and was an unco-operative subject for a photo, so of course, I had to make it again, with a twist! The texture of this pancake is really nothing like a North American pancake at all, so if you are expecting light and fluffy batter, you will be disappointed. It is dense (as if you overworked a North American pancake and the gluten’s were invigorated!), slightly chewy with a nice firm texture. There is a touch of sweetness from the corn flour. The sauce is really incredible and I would recommend it for anything, not just this dish (such as scallops on a bed of greens!).

Gluten Free South Western Korean-inspired Pancake

I didn’t notice any taste difference using the chick pea flour. Even the texture was relatively similar.

Recipe adapted from Sissi’s blog With a Glass (click here for original recipe)

Serves 2

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 stalk of green onion finely cut
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. It’s best to make the sauce first so it has a little time to blend and allow the flavours to meld together. You can even do it a day ahead, adding the green onions and sesame seeds just when you are ready to serve so they remain crisp.
  2. Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Pancake Ingredients:

  • 3 spring onion stalks, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 medium hot green chili, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium hot red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 50 g chorizo sausage, finely chopped
  • 30 g fresh or frozen corn
  • 40 g red pepper (capiscum)
  • 40 g crimini mushrooms

Batter Ingredients:

  • 56 g chickpea flour
  • 20 g corn flour (take fine cornmeal and run it through a food processor until it resembles the texture of regular flour)
  • 200 mL ice cold water
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 egg whites, beaten

A very tasty lunch, indeed

Directions:

  1. Combine all the batter ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and lightly spray with non-stick spray or olive oil.
  3. Pour about 1/3 of the pancake batter onto the pan, allowing it to fill the entire diametre of the pan.
  4. Add the pancake ingredients, distributing everything evenly so you can get a small taste of everything in every bite.
  5. Pour the remainder of the batter over the the pancake and allow it to cook through. You will see the batter become quite a bit denser looking as it cooks. Carefully flip the pancake so that both sides are golden.
  6. Serve with the previously prepared dipping sauce.

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