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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

As our time in Spain was sadly coming to an end, I had developed a menu plan that utilizes the food we had in our pantry/refrigerator so that there was little to no waste (I didn’t have a group of friends here to have a pantry clean out party with). This was one of those meals.

As most recipes, this one evolved to the posted rendition. We’ve enjoyed this meal a few times in Spain and again during the weeks of isolation upon our return. Now my focus is rationing pantry items and getting a tasty, healthy meal out of a recipe. A few friends have kindly offered to grocery shop for us, for which we have been grateful because the online shopping/delivery services all seem to be a week out! But I don’t want to push their generosity, so I’m rationing the staples. Plus, this is a fantastic opportunity to clean out my Toronto pantry!!!

Mediteranean Tuna Casserole

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 100 g dry Romano Beans, cooked
  • 125 mL greek yogurt
  • 5 mL roasted, puréed garlic
  • Sea salt
  • 100 g celery, sliced thinly
  • 10 black olives, roughly chopped (no pits)
  • 2 roasted red peppers, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 50 g green onion, thinly sliced
  • 45 g Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 85 g canned tuna, drained
  • Butter, for greasing casserole pan
  • 50 g cheese, grated
  • 50 g bread crumbs, toasted
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • EVOO

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk the greek yogurt with the roasted garlic and salt. Combine the beans with the celery, black olives, red peppers, green onions, feta and tuna, mix well. Add the yogurt and mix well.
  3. Grease a small casserole with a bit of butter. Pour the tuna mixture into the casserole and spread evenly in the pan.
  4. Combine the grated cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley. Spread evenly over the tuna mixture. Drizzle with a little EVOO.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or everything is heated through. Tent with foil if the breadcrumbs are toasting too quickly.
  6. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • This is a meal that I was trying to use up ingredients, if it strikes your fancy, throw caution to the wind and improvise with whatever you have in the fridge/pantry!
  • The first version had rotini pasta which was lovely but I prefer the beans.

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We enjoyed a lot of seafood in Spain. But this recipe did not come from our time there, it graced our cocktail table soon after we moved back into our newly renovated bedroom. We were watching a little Jamie Oliver before turning out the lights and the recipe that night was this gem: Crispy Squid and Smashed Avocado. It was a hit the first time I made it, and soon after, I was getting requests to make it again. It is a deep-fried recipe, and you all know how much I love deep-frying, but it is quickly fried and on my first measure of the oil used, I was able to get most of it back after it cooled which means the calamari did not absorb much. Cutting the calamari length-wise instead of in rounds will allow the calamari to curl up like a spring which looks super cool. I paired this tapa with Romesco Sauce and Avocado Cream, and they were both awesome!

Calamares Fritos

To see the original recipe, please click here.

Serves 1-2 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 calamari tube, cleaned and sliced lengthwise to open up
  • 65 g all-purpose flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 L vegetable oil

Ingredients for the Avocado Cream:

  • 1 Avocado
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 lime, juiced

Ingredients for Serving:

Directions:

  1. Cut the calamari into strips lengthwise (not rings). Add the flour and sea salt to a bowl and toss the calamari strips until well coated.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil to 375° F. Fry the calamari strips 5 at a time until golden. Drain excess oil on kitchen paper.
  3. Meanwhile, mash or cream the avocado with cumin, sea salt and lime juice.
  4. Serve calamari hot with the sauces.

Notes:

  • The calamari will curl into a spring shape as it frys. Shorter ones will curl less.
  • This dish is equally as good with either sauce so if you don’t want two sauces, just go with one.
  • To scale up the dish, just add another calamari tube for each additional person. More than 4 people, double the avocado cream recipe.

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Happy New Year! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, spoiling your loved ones! Wishing you a new year filled with joy, good health, good friends and good food! Love from Éva

I do apologize for not being more present with my blogging buddies, but we’ve only just returned from our month-long sojourn in Arizona. We had three sets of dear friends visit us for 5-6 days each during our stay; it was a fun-packed time away, also enjoying our dear friends who currently live in Arizona.

I made this delicious winter stew for friends just before we left for Arizona. It was a perfect way to begin winter. The stew was filled with succulent seafood drenched in a creamy béchamel. And if you’re super hungry, you can eat the bowl, or part of it!

Seafood Stew in Sourdough Bread Bowls

Please click here for the original recipe.

Serves 4-6 depending on size of bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 8 mini potatoes
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 500 g mixed firm seafood — peeled shrimp, scallops, lobster meat, mussels, calamari or white fish (cubbed)
  • 1 cup shredded flavourful white cheese, like Gruyère and Asiago
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 4 sourdough bread bowls

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onions until translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes and carrots and sauté until about half-cooked. Add the celery and sauté for about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and add the butter and allow it to melt. Sprinkle the flour into the vegetables and mix well. Cook for a minute or so. Add the dried herbs. Slowly add the milk, stirring to mix into the floured vegetables and bring to a slow simmer, stirring and allowing the mixture to thicken. You may bring this to room temperature and refrigerate until required.
  4. If you have refrigerated the vegetable mixture, simmer on low until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked through. Add the seafood with the longest cooking first (shrimp, scallops, calamari and lastly, mussels). Cook the seafood through.
  5. Add the shredded cheese, mix well and taste for seasoning. Serve piping hot in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls.

Here is that gorgeous winter light again.

Notes:

  • I like to spend as much time with our guests instead of stuck in the kitchen cooking dinner so I try to make as much of the dishes in advance as possible so that my time spent in the kitchen is minimal while we have guests. Because I cooked most of the stew earlier that day, I was able to reheat it and cook the raw seafood quickly without missing too much of the evening.
  • I gently warmed the sourdough bread bowls so that they kept the stew warm a little longer, things cool down so quickly in the winter.
  • I used a mixture of Wild Argentinian Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, and Chopped Calamari for this dish but white fish would also work beautifully.
  • If the thought of adding cheese to a fish dish offends you, please omit it. The original recipe called for cheddar but I did not wish to add red cheese to discolour the sauce. The cheese adds a nice background flavour with a little body, it’s really not enough to make it stringy.
  • The smooth béchamel flavoured with the tarragon and thyme made a lovely background for the seafood. Our guests loved it, the homemade sourdough bread bowls helped! 😉
  • It’s a really heavy meal, I hollowed out the bread bowls so that there was only about 1 cm of the bowl all around, even so, most of us couldn’t finish it!

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We entertain a lot. I usually like to have a variety of small bites in the freezer to draw upon so I don’t have to think about one course. These shrimp cakes freeze beautifully and reheat very well, the perfect hors d’œuvres for a dinner party.

Vietnamese Seafood Cakes

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 40 bite-size cakes

Ingredients:

  • 140 g “00” flour
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 100-125 mL water
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 10 g fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 20 g green onions, finely sliced
  • 20 g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 350 g Raw Shrimp, scallops and clams chopped roughly in larger chunks
  • Grape seed oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and sea salt and mix well.
  2. Whisk eggs with water and ginger.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix into a paste (about the consistency of pancake batter).
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (cilantro, green onions, sesame seeds and chopped seafood and mix well.
  5. Heat about 1 cm grapeseed oil in a pan. Using a 4 cm cookie scoop, scoop spoonfuls into the hot oil and press down to flatten a bit. Fry each side until golden.
  6. Serve warm with a spicy mayo dipping sauce (125 mL (1/2 cup) mayo with 15 mL (1 tbsp) sriracha sauce) and a splash of honey.

 

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We frequent a French bistro in the city, Le Select, in fact, it’s probably our favourite restaurant in the city! JT alternates from the menu items, but I like my favourites (French Onion Soup, Steak Tartare) and seldom stray from them. We tend to share an appetizer and the last time we were there, the table next to us could not say enough about the Terrine de Poisson Fumé, an airy terrine of smoked Georgian Bay whitefish served with grilled home-baked Foccacia so we had to have it. It was wonderful. Smooth, creamy, full of smoky flavour, we loved it so much, I had to make something like it for a dinner party. 

This is Le Select’s version, our inspiration.

Smoked Salmon Mousse with Dijon Sesame Bark

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 265 mL mousse

Ingredients for the Salmon Mousse:

  • 65 g smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • 100 g cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 g anchovy paste
  • 2 g tomato paste
  • 1 g paprika
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • 100 mL whole milk
  • 120 mL water (see notes)
  • 2 g agar-agar (see notes)

Directions for the Salmon Mousse:

  1. Dissolve agar-agar in the water and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until the agar-agar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, add the salmon, cream cheese, anchovy paste and whole milk to a food processor (choose one that will emulsify the salmon to a smooth, creamy consistency (my Magic Bullet did a great job).
  3. Once the agar-agar has cooled somewhat, whisk into the salmon mixture until smooth.
  4. Prepare silicon your mould by spraying it lightly with water. Pour the salmon mousse into each mold evenly. Allow to set in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve with gourmet crackers or toasted baguette.

Dijon Sesame Bark

Ingredients:

  • 20 g sugar
  • 5 mL honey
  • 5 mL water
  • 30 g sesame seeds (black and white)
  • 5 g butter
  • 5 mL Dijon mustard

Directions:

  • Mix the sugar with the dijon, honey and the water and cook over medium heat until everything has dissolved. Allow to come to a boil and slightly darken.
  • Stir in the sesame seeds and continue to cook until it is about 300° F. Remove from heat and add the butter and Dijon mustard and stir well to incorporate.
  • Pour the content onto a Silpat sheet or buttered baking sheet and spread out thinly. You may wish to cover with parchment and roll with a rolling pin.
  • Allow to cool, break into smallish bits or shards to sprinkle over the salmon mousse.

Assembly of the Smoke Salmon Mousse Plate:

  1. Carefully unmould the salmon mousse and place in the centre of a plate. Sprinkle with the dijon sesame bark (or serve bark in shards as below) and serve with toasted baguette slices or crackers.
This is how I served the mousse for a recent dinner party.

Notes:

  • You may use the traditional smoked salmon that is thinly sliced but I used a Wild Pacific Salmon Side we hot smoked on the Big Green Egg. 
  • Any smoked fish would work, as long as you can purée it smoothly.
  • To replace the agar-agar with gelatine, omit the water. Use one sheet softened in in the mousse liquid, in a saucepan then put on low heat and stir until the gelatine sheet dissolves into the mousse, do not boil. One sheet is good enough for a loose set of 265 mL.

 

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Happy New Year! These shrimp cakes are chuck-full of shrimp, in fact, they are more shrimp than cake! And they are packed with the fresh flavours of ginger, cilantro and green onions which work incredibly well with the sweet succulent shrimp! I had intended on freezing them, but they disappeared too quickly so unfortunately I have no idea how they would perform after being frozen. They really don’t take long to put together and they pan fry so quickly, you could make them up in the morning and hold them in the refrigerator until needed, then reheat them at 250F for about 30 minutes. These luscious babies are definitely going on my New Years Eve tapas menu.

Gluten-Free Vietnamese Shrimp Cakes

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 100-125 mL water
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 30 g coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 10 g fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 30 g green onions, finely sliced
  • 100 g celeriac, finely grated
  • 454 g Raw Shrimp, chopped roughly
  • Grape seed oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs with water and ginger.
  2. In another bowl, combine baking powder, coconut flour and sea salt and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix into a paste.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (cilantro, green onions, celeriac and chopped shrimp and mix well.
  4. Heat grape seed oil in pan (about 1 cm deep). Using a 4 cm cookie scoop, scoop spoonfuls into the hot oil and press down to flatten a bit. Fry each side until golden.
  5. Serve warm with a spicy mayo dipping sauce (125 mL (1/2 cup) mayo with 15 mL (1 tbsp) sriracha sauce).

Notes:

  • You may use a blended gluten-free flour mix instead of just plain coconut flour, but I found the coconut flour flavour works really well here.
  • Don’t like frying? Try baking them in a 350F

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Late in the summer, I got together with a dear friend whom I haven’t seen in quite some time. We had a long lunch chatting about what’s going on in each of our lives and ended up reminiscing about wonderful vacations we have each had in Spain. Of course, my head goes directly to food and I had couldn’t stop thinking about a spectacular dish we had during one of our first meals in Almaria: a scallop wrapped in Iberian bacon bathed in a corn emulsion! It was out of this world. The delicate flavours worked so well together. I thought this dish could make a lovely starter or a beautiful amuse bouche, appetizer or light main course for the holidays; of course, I put my own little spin on it and it is equally as compelling. In the Notes area, I have made suggestions on how to make this dish vegetarian or vegan.

This scallop wrapped in Iberian bacon bathed in a corn emulsion is the artistic creation of Joseba Anorga Taberna, a contemporary restaurant rated as one of the top ten in Almeria.

Seared Scallops in Creamy Grilled Corn Velouté

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main

Ingredients:

  • 300 g grilled corn (or frozen corn)
  • ~200 mL chicken stock
  • 20 g roasted almonds (with or without skins)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 20 g pancetta, cut into small bits
  • 15 mL grapeseed oil
  • 4-6 large scallops
  • butter
  • 45 mL white wine vinegar
  • Splash of water

Directions:

  1. Rince frozen corn, if using, to defrost. Purée the corn with almonds and the chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved (I used 200 mL for a thicker velouté). Press through a fine sieve to catch all of the corn skins, discard skins. Reserve the creamed corn at room temperature until required.
  2. In a small pan, fry the pancetta in the grapeseed oil until crisp; set on paper towel to remove excess oil. Reserve the pancetta fat (there isn’t much).
  3. Add the butter and reserved pancetta fat to a large cast iron frying pan. Dry the scallops well. When the oil is smoking hot, add the scallops and sear each side without turning or moving. The scallops will release from the pan when they are ready. Flip each scallop only once.
  4. Remove the scallops and cover to keep warm.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar and splash of water, if using and reserve for drizzle (I did not need to add water).
  6. To serve, spoon the corn velouté into shallow bowls (I like a rimmed soup bowl for a main or a small shell dish as an appetizer. Add the hot scallops, sprinkle on the crispy pancetta and drizzle with the deglazing liquid. Serve immediately garnished with shallot curls.

The subtly sweet corn compliments the delicate sweetness of the scallop, and then there is the salty bacon and the acidity of the pan juices. Heaven!

Notes:

  • This dish can easily be made into a vegetarian or vegan by using King Mushrooms instead of scallops as I have done here (they have a similar texture to scallops and will sear just like scallops). Substitute a robust olive oil for the butter and vegetable stock for chicken stock. Obviously, omit the pancetta but sprinkle the finished dish generously with sea salt for balance.
  • Searing is possible only when the scallop or King Mushrooms are perfectly dry, so pat them dry before you cook them.
  • If you are using frozen corn, add a pinch of sweet smoked paprika to emulate the smokey flavour of grilled corn.

This was our actual dinner, it was very tasty indeed.

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Is anyone else’s mind-blown that it is 2018? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were freaking out for Y2K? Now 18 years later, we are still here and I’m approaching my 11th year of blogging! Thank you all for your continued support, I feel so grateful to call all of you friends, all over the world. Heartfelt thank you.

Last summer, we visited our dear friends at their Wisconsin home. While we were there, one of the breakfasts we had were some delicious Sausage Crescent Roll Bombs, made super-easy by using regular store-bought crescent rolls! Their version had sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese, so good. I have to admit, I haven’t had or made a crescent roll for more years than I wish to count but the breakfast idea stuck with me and I knew I wanted to make it for a special occasion. Fast forward to New Years Eve 2017 and we were having friends over for the night, but they are vegetarian so making the crescent rolls as our other friends’ recipe was out of the question, so I improvised and came up with this delicious alternative! Same store-bought crescent roll pastry, but with a twist: I used goats cheese, smoked salmon, caramelized onions, wilted spinach and scrambled eggs, topped off with a creamy Dijon and Dill béchamel sauce. Yup, it’s definitely a winner. And you can freeze them for future breakfasts or brunch! Easy-peasy!

A delicious combination of flavours that are so good, I’ve had the request to make them again and again!

You see how bright the eggs are, they are that way because of the gorgeous yolks!

Smoked Salmon Roll-ups

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/2 sweet onion, like vidalia
  • 2 L eggs
  • 15 mL Greek Yogurt
  • 1 package crescent rolls ~235 g (I used this one)
  • 150 g goats cheese, room temperature, loosened with a bit of milk
  • 140 g smoked salmon
  • 5 g butter
  • 5 g flour
  • 125 mL milk
  • pinch of dill
  • 15 mL Dijon Mustard
  • splash of white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Caramelize the onions in a splash of olive oil. Add the spinach and wilt. Remove from hot pan to cool.
  3. Combine eggs and yogurt and mix well. Add another splash of olive oil to the pan and heat, add the eggs and scramble until softly set. Remove from pan to cool.
  4. Open the crescent roll package according to directions (this was a bit of a challenge for me) and roll out flat. Ignoring the angled pre-cut lines, cut into 8 even strips.
  5. Spread equal amounts of goats cheese on each strip, top with smoked salmon, then the spinach and onion mixture and finally the eggs. Roll-up the strip.
  6. Spray 8-muffin cups with non-stick spray and place one roll into each cup. Repeat until all eight cups are filled. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and pastry is baked through.
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour and slowly pour in the milk whilst whisking to create a smooth sauce. Whisk in the dill and the Dijon and a splash of white vinegar and cook the sauce until thick and creamy.
  8. Serve the baked roll-up on a warm plate drizzled with the Dijon-Dill Béchamel sauce.

The pastry is slightly sweet which balanced the slightly tart bechamel sauce.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that the recipe makes 8! I freeze them in muffin cups and later transfer them to a zip-lock bag.

Notes:

  • We buy these eggs because they have had the most consistently orange (note pale yellow) yolks with great flavour.
  • For New Years’ Day, I served them on a bed of butter-wilted spinach and garnished with finely chopped green onion.
  • This is a versatile recipe, you can easily make your own version like the original or with ham and cheese, philly steak, etc., you get the drift!
  • Freeze extra roll-ups unbaked in a lightly sprayed muffin tin and when frozen, transfer to a zip-lock bag. To bake, no need to defrost, simply return to a lightly sprayed muffin tin and bake at 375° F in a preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes (or until internal temperature is around 180° F).
  • Have a large group for brunch? Make the roll-ups the night before and store in the refrigerator. Bake in a preheated oven as per instructions.

This is the actual dish I served for breakfast on New Years Day. I put the roll-up on a bed of butter-wilted spinach.

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Although I am not a huge fried food fan (I know, I’m weird), JT loves the stuff. I don’t even like the way it stinks up the house, so if I do pull out the deep fryer, I usually set it up on top of the BBQ outside, sorry neighbours!

Recently, I’ve been experimenting using coconut flour instead of regular white or whole wheat flour in the breading process because I discovered that coconut flour draws moisture out, so it actually makes a fabulous base for a truly crispy coating, much like that of the unhealthy deep frying method. The first time I made this dish, I just eyeballed everything and hoped for the best. I received a lot of mmmmm, yummmm and best of all, JT said, “please make this at least once a week.” If that isn’t the top accolade, I am not sure what is. A week later, I got out my scale and measuring cups to document the recipe. If you like crispy breaded, deep fried-like things, I would encourage you to try this healthier alternative.

I can see using this method to “un-deep fry” many things in the near future!

Crispy Unfried Breaded Fish

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 2, 100 g portions

Ingredients:

  • 200 g firm white fish, like tilapia
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) coconut flour
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) egg whites
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp water), plus a little more near the end of the breading process
  • 45 g (1/2 cup) whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the fish up into smaller, one to two bite portions, about the same thickness.
  2. With a whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy.
  3. Dredge the fish in the coconut flour, then dip it into the egg whites until entirely covered. Place the fish back into the coconut flour and coat again, and dip it into the egg white for the last time.
  4. Toss the wet fish pieces into the panko until entirely covered, shake excess off. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with steps three and four until all of the fish is coated evenly and lined up on the baking sheet. You may need to add a bit more egg or water into the egg white mixture as it thickens with the coconut flour near the end. Discard unused coconut flour, egg whites and panko.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for thirty minutes to two hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F). Bake fish, turning once until both sides are golden and the fish has an internal temperature of 63° C (145° F). Serve immediately with Romesco sauce.

You may toast the panko, like my friend Sissi does, but I find using the whole wheat panko gives it a head start to a gorgeous golden colour.

Notes:

  • Use this recipe in the popular fish tacos (like my friend John’s recipe), but these are much healthier.
  • These fish pieces would also make a delicious hors d’œuvres, serve with tartar sauce.
  • The facts below do not include the frying process.
  • Recently, I have been adding about a tablespoon or so of toasted black and white sesame seeds and it really enhances the crispy texture as well as adds lovely flavour (I wish I had taken a quick pic of it, they are truly fabulous).

This is the nutritional breakdown of the coconut flour breading.

All purpose flour and whole egg breading.

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Mediterranean Sriracha Fish

Recently, I worked on an on-location two-day motion shoot. I was one of four food stylist employed for the two days. We worked from the compact, professional, mobile kitchen called Maindish, it was rather cosy! They were 15 hour days with few opportunities to sit down (who said food styling was glamorous?). I’m always amazed at the shear number of people it takes to make a commercial happen, 60, in this case! By the way, on location also means cramped, because you’re having to squeeze in everyone and everything into relatively small spaces, it really is quite the orchestration! 

I found this recipe on Epicurious; I chose it because I had most of the ingredients at home (along with an inordinate amount of sun-dried tomatoes). It was absolutely delicious, so I decided to document it for the future, plus, I made a few changes.

Mediterranean Fish in a Tomato Sriracha Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • splash of EVOO
  • 70 g (1/2 medium) sweet onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 90 g (~1/2 medium) fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce (add more if you like heat)
  • 250 mL (1 cup) tomato purée from fresh or canned tomatoes (I used homemade)
  • 30 g (~1/4 cup) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2oo g white fish fillets
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A handful of baby spinach
  • Black olives (I used Niçoisse)

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
  • Small handful of spinach
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized, frying pan (I used cast iron), heat a splash of olive oil and sauté the onion, fennel and sun-dried tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Combine the tomato purée with the sriracha sauce and stir well. Add the tomato purée to the frying pan and simmer for 4 to 5 additional minutes. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Place the fish on top of the tomato mixture, spooning a little of the sauce over the fish. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, in the small bowl of a food processor combine the parsley, spinach, sundried tomatoes, garlic, lemon zest and juice and process until chopped and well mixed. Set aside.
  5. When the fish is completely cooked, carefully stir in the olives (putted and sliced, if you’re using larger olives) and baby spinach and warm through (spinach should wilt).
  6. To serve, place the fish on a spoonful or two of cauliflower mash or polenta and dollop the tomato sauce over the hot fish. Dot the herb topping over the fish and sauce to finish.

Notes:

  • This combination of vegetables and tomatoes would work very well with chicken, but you’ll need to increase your cooking time.
  • I used Tilapia for this particular recipe, but haddock, cod, sea bass or monkfish would also work well.
  • The first time I made this recipe, I did not have fennel so I substituted 2 stalks of celery, it was equally as delicious.
  • I used sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, you may use dry but you might need to soak them in water so they are not chewy.
  • To reduce calories, omit the olives and use non-stick spray instead of olive oil.
  • If you use ordinary black olives, pit them and cut them into thirds.
  • The weights I suggest in the recipe are not carved in stone, just gives you an idea of proportions for two.

 

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TilapiawArugulaPaste

Last week we posted the Arugula Paste (or Arugula Pesto for those of us less traditional) and you might have guessed that I would do something tasty with it. The paste ended up on a tilapia fillet with some sautéed vegetables on a bed of spinach. The dish got rave reviews even if the lighting sucks.

Tilapia Crusted with Arugula Paste

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 60 g button mushrooms, cut in half
  • 60 g radishes, cut into triangles
  • 50 g yellow pepper, cut into cubes
  • 50 g red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 70 g eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 70 g onion, chopped
  • 60 g celery, cut into cubes
  • 200 g tilapia fillet
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup arugula paste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (176° C). Place fish in the centre of a heart-shaped sheet of parchment paper. Spread about half of the arugula paste on top and close and fold the parchment en papillote style (please see note below).
  2. In the meantime, add 1 tsp vegetable oil to a sautée pan and sautée all of the vegetables until just crunchy. Toss with the remaining arugula paste.
  3. When fish has reached an internal temperature of 158° F (70° C)
  4. Serve hot on a bed of baby spinach topped with the fish and the sautéed vegetables.

ArugulaPesto_onTilapia_7947

A delicious topping on a firm white fish.

I created this easy to follow video on how to fold en papillote. Please let me know what you think.

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*First ArugulaPaste

So far, winter hasn’t been horrible (dare I say it out loud?). In the last week, we’ve only had a couple of super cold days (-23° C or -9.4° F) but we’ve only had one snow storm and although it was super wet, it wasn’t that bad (shovelling was awful!). The one thing I will complain about is the lack of sunshine November and December was…gloomy, gloomy, gloomy! Although January’s start has been chilly, it has been sunny! So if I have to give up warmth for sun, so be it.

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution? JT and I decided that we need to get back on track and eat more vegetables and limit eating out (oh dear, we do eat out a lot). So, I have determined that the next month or so I will dedicate the blog to super healthy, clean eating, roughly based on a ketogenic diet. I say roughly because I’m going to allow myself one day per week to ‘cheat’ (TBD)! I will comb through your lovely blog pages and get my inspiration there.

We’ve also decided to eat our main meal at noon instead our norm of 6 or 7 in the evening. We’re hoping that these changes will result in some shedding!

This condiment came about as I stared blankly in the refrigerator…so many vegetables but no inspiration! The bag of baby arugula called out to me…pesto, it whispered. Now I know many of you are pesto traditionalists and only basil, garlic, EVOO, pinenuts and parmesan will do…but what if you wish to limit calories? Yes, there is the argument that you should only use a little, but I wanted to start the week off right so I created this unique paste that resembles pesto (notice I didn’t call it pesto?). I received a solid thumbs up from JT, it has texture, a slight kick and it’s bright and beautiful green. A little sunshine on these gloomy winter days.

ArugualPaste_7953

The raw cauliflower gives makes a good substitute for the nuts, providing the slight crunch needed.

Arugula Paste

Makes a 125 mL (1/2 cup) sauce

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 60 g raw cauliflower (either stems or florets or both)
  • 60 g baby arugula
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock (home made)
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the raw cauliflower to a small processor bowl, process until it becomes a fine meal.
  2. Add the arugula (may need to be added in smaller portions), garlic, vinegar and stock and process until a desired consistency is achieved (I wanted it relatively fine).
  3. Season with sea salt and process until totally combined.
  4. See serving suggestions in notes.

Notes:

  • Serving suggestions: pasta, sautéed vegetables, zucchini noodles, drizzled on tomatoes, meat or fish.
  • Add a spoonful or two into a simple oil and vinegar salad dressing or greek yogurt for a dip.

ArugulaPasteNFScreen Shot 2016-01-05 at 4.31.47 PM

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PaellaBake_First

Cottage season is almost over and we’re heading right into the holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving and then Christmas! My how time flies. This “recipe” has become a “go to” recipe for brunches and lunches at the cottage where refrigerator space is at a premium and standard grocery items are difficult to find (to say the least). It’s the perfect recipe to reinvent ‘leftovers.” For the last couple of years, whenever I make a one pot rice dish like Paella, Jumbalaya, Risotto or even a pasta dish like JT’s Mediterranean Pasta, I ALWAYs make 2 extra servings. The trick is to set aside the two extra servings so that you’re not even tempted to finish off every last bite and lick the plate clean ;-p! The two extra servings combined with eggs and a little flavouring bake up into the most delicious dish, you will be tempted to make the recipe just to rebake it for brunch the following day! And the best part is that it freezes very well, so even if there is only two dining on leftovers, freeze the rest cut into single portions in a ziplock bag, ready for a quick lunch or a fancy brunch.

LimerickLake

On some mornings the lake is so very still.

PaellaBake

Bits of the seafood, chicken and chorizo dot the delicious egg bake.

Paella Bake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare a square baking pan with perpendicular sides (some square cake pans have angled sides). Line with parchment so that it extends up two of the sides. Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine eggs and La Bomba and whisk well. Fold gently into the leftover paella being careful not to squish the rice into a mushy mess.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle around making sure that the proteins are distributed evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool slightly and cut into 8 portions with a very sharp knife. Serve with lemon slices and a light salad.

PaellaBake2

Would you care for a slice?

PaellaBake3

Our Paellas are always full of flavour.

LimerickLake_Sunset

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight!

LimerickLake_cocktails

Cocktails inside the screen-in porch, so peaceful.

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TilapiawithMangoSalsat_First

Summer is coming. That’s what I’m told, I hardly believe them though. But with the warmer weather on the horizon (possibly as far away as Europe) I have again begun to think about lighter dishes. Fish seems to be a four-letter word, not for me, of course, I love the stuff. But some people in this household don’t love it as much as I do, so selling it on the plate becomes a thing. I simply broiled this tilapia, seasoned with salt and pepper and wanted a little something tasty to dress it up and my Mango Salsa recipe was born. Like many savoury recipes on this blog, I urge you to make it your own, volumes are simply suggestions — you hate cucumber, omit it! Hate mango, try pineapple instead! It’s pretty darn tasty and quite easy to prepare — I like my salsa cubed into even little cubes, but you may like yours another way…GO FOR IT!

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ripe mango, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200 g of cooked white fish (we used Tilapia but cod, halibut or monkfish would also work well)
  • a few handfuls of massaged kale (my dear friend Kelly at Inspired Edibles shares a very compelling story about getting intimate with your food, 50 Shades of Green-style!)

Directions:

  1. Combine the mango, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro and mix well. Pour the white balsamic into the mix and stir to combine, season to taste.
  2. Serve over broiled white fish on top of massaged kale leaves. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • This salsa would be lovely on BBQ chicken breast or even a steak if you’re feeling like red meat.
  • A mix of greens would be fine instead of the massaged kale but I love kale so I use it where I can.

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TunaCasseroleMakeover_1This past week was International Women’s Day and I was generously invited (by my dear colleague and friend, Andrea) to the City of Brampton’s 2015 Women’s Day Event and the keynote speaker was none other than celebrity chef Anna Olson! I’ve been a long admirer of Chef Anna’s work from the very first time we dined at Inn on the Twenty in Jordan, Ontario where she and her husband Michael were the executive chefs, more than 15 years ago! These days Chef Anna works with Food Network Canada and is currently starring in Bake with Anna Olson as well as authoring cook books, managing her website, blog and social media outlets not to mention the presentation gigs. On Thursday, Chef Anna recounted her path on how she arrived at where she is today and it was inspirational! She was engaging, funny and interesting, the time just flew by. The audience of 140 were primarily comprised of entrepreneurial women and some young ladies from a local high school. Thank you Andrea for the invitation and the reminder that these networking events are worth every minute because you never know who you’ll meet and where that will lead (of course, I gave Chef Anna my contact info ;-)).

IWD_AnnaOlson

Chef Anna speaking at Lionhead Golf and Conference Centre in Brampton.

Eva_AnnaOlson

That’s me after I had my lovely new cookbook signed by Chef Anna!

Chef Anna’s primary food influence was her grandmother and as I reflected on who my primary influence was (my dear Mother, of course) I also thought about other influences I’ve had over the years, like JT’s mother. JT’s mother was a typical North American cook of that era, not overly adventurous but she made a tuna casserole in the 80’s that was a family favourite. Canned cream of mushroom soup (or cream of celery), a can of tuna, some cooked noodles, perhaps some chopped onion and the pièce de résistance: crumbled salted potato chips on top! Bake in a casserole dish until thoroughly warmed through and serve immediately. Being raised in a Hungarian home, I had never had tuna in this way (or canned tuna any other way for that matter) and having potato chips on top was such a treat. Of course, these days we don’t buy canned soups (too much sodium) nor do we indulge in potato chips, but I wanted the flavour of this retro meal so I reinvented it in a slightly healthier way. I got the thumbs up from JT. Definitely a keeper!

TunaCasserole

Tuna Casserole Makeover

A Kitcheninspirations Original Recipe!

Ingredients for Creamed Mushroom Soup (yields 300 mL):

  • 60 g little button mushrooms
  • 125 g chopped onion
  • 20 g dried wild mushroom mix (rehydrated in 375 mL (1 1/2 cups) water, reserve liquid)
  • 20 g red lentils (thickener)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt

Directions for the Creamed Mushroom Soup:

  1. Rehydrate the mushrooms in 375 mL of hot water (you can microwave this for a couple of minutes to get it going faster). Strain into a fine sieve (I use a dedicated coffee filter) and reserve liquid. Wash the mushrooms thoroughly. Chop mushrooms into smaller bits (allows for the really chewy parts to hydrate faster) and set aside.
  2. Cook the onions with a spray of canola oil until translucent, add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add lentils and 375 mL of mushroom broth and rehydrated mushrooms. Cook until lentils are completely cooked and mushrooms have no chewy bits, season with salt. 
  3. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth and silky. You may push this through a fine sieve if you’d like, but I didn’t think it was necessary. Set aside 250 mL (1 cup) and freeze the rest, it’s great for soups, gravy or even a base for pizza.

Ingredients for the Tuna Casserole:

  • 120 g drained albacore tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 150 g green beans, washed and cut into thirds (bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions for the Tuna Casserole:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350° F (176° C).
  2. In the same pot as you made the creamed mushrooms, toast the pearl barley in a little oil, add about 250 mL (1 cup) water and cook the barley until about 3/4 done (it will continue to cook in the casserole) until almost all of the water has been absorbed and what’s left is thick. The barley should still have quite a chewy texture.
  3. Combine the cleaned and cut green beans and roughly separated, drained tuna with the barley, add the creamed mushroom soup, 1 cup of water and give it a good stir. You may keep everything in your pan if it’s oven proof, I transferred it to two small oven proof casseroles that I lightly oiled.
  4. Combine the Greek yogurt, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and dollop on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160°F (71° C). Serve with a small green salad.

TunaCasserole_2

This is the Greek yogurt topping before I baked it.

Notes:

  • You may, of course use canned soup and not make your own creamed mushrooms.
  • We prefer to use Albacore tuna in water, but the choice is yours.
  • Don’t like green beans? Use celery instead (I had green beans on hand).
  • We are trying to cut back so I used this recipe for four servings. JT said he could have easily eaten one small casserole on his own (even though I did serve him 3/4 of it!).
  • I have a double oven and I baked this in the top, smaller oven so I was able to get a little browning on the topping without turning on the broiler. If you bake these in a large oven, you may wish to broil the tops for colour and texture!
  • Substitute quinoa or bulgur to lower the calories and carbs a bit (makes it 5 points in WW). Leave out the Parmesan and bread crumbs to bring the WW points down even further to 4!

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 11.18.32 AM

Weight Watchers Points

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For fun I did the original recipe as comparison. WW points for the original recipe would have been 12!

 

 

 

 

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Spring has been slowly emerging, taking its dear sweet time, but today, it’s finally going to be 17°C (62.6°F). Even on Tuesday, the sun was shining and it was actually warm enough to sit outside in the sun with a cup of hot coffee. We’re cautiously hopeful for spring, although there is still some ice in our backyard believe it or not. Stubborn ice that just won’t give up. One of our radio stations has a repeating ad that goes something like this: “April, you have just one job: melt the GD ice so spring can finally show up.” Seriously, just one job! Can it be THAT hard? Yes, we are frustrated! But at least it’s starting…

I’m beginning to think about summer foods, lighter fare and this is a quick and delicious recipe I came up with for lunch about a month ago; I think it may have even been snowing at the time (a month ago). The bright, fresh flavours contrasted against the peppery arugula will make a sensational meal on a super hot, humid day (soon, please be soon). Definitely making this lovely dish for the cottage, it’ll be perfect for eating on the dock, wearing shorts and a light T!

CevicheWW_2269

A delightful combination of shrimps and scallops cooked in lime juice

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

Makes 1 small serving (to make a meal of it, increase the weight of shrimp and scallop to 100 g in total).

Ingredients:

  • 30 g shrimp*, cubed rather small
  • 20 g scallop*, cubed rather small (similar size to shrimp)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp non-calorie sweetener of your choice
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, cubed
  • 5 cm (2 inches) English cucumber, cubed
  • 1/4 apple (or Jicama)
  • 5 cm (2 inches) English cucumber, cubed
  • 100 g Arugula

Directions:

  1. Combine the lime juice and the non-calorie sweetener of your choice and mix well.
  2. Make sure you cube your seafood into equal sized cubes so that they ‘cook’ at the same rate. Combine the cubed shrimp, scallop, cilantro and green onion with lime dressing and toss well. Set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.
  3. When the seafood has become opaque, add the celery, cucumber and apple and toss well. Serve over arugula or lettuce of choice

CevicheWW_2270

The apple adds the sweetness that the jicama would have.

*’cooking’ seafood in citrus does not kill off any parasites, so you should be very careful with the choice of seafood — it should be fresh, or boil in water until done and prepare the salad just prior to serving.

Ceviche Nut

Based on 1 small serving

CevicheWW

Based on 1 small serving.

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I made these beautiful, heart shaped hors d’œuvres for Valentines day and I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you because making heart shaped hors d’œuvres shouldn’t be reserved for one day of the year! The fussiest thing about this recipe is cutting out the heart shapes from the smoked salmon. But you needn’t fuss at all, just piece the smoked salmon on the rice and cut out easy rectangles using a sharp knife! I ended up using a knife along the outer edge of a heart-shaped cookie cutter and assembling the salmon on top of the cut rice. Want to make it even easier? You can also purchase ready-made wasabi mayo.

SmokeSalmonHearts_2108

Choose a heart-shaped cookie cutter that is one bite.

Smoked Salmon Sushi Hearts

Makes about 16 bite-sized hearts, but it will depend on size of your hearts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sushi rice, cooked to package directions
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix the rice vinegar into the hot rice and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Line a 25 cm or 10 inch square cake pan with plastic wrap overhanging two opposing sides. Press the cooled cooked rice evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set in shape.
  3. In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise and wasabi paste and mix throughly. Refrigerate.
  4. Take the plastic wrap overhanging sides and lift the rice out of the pan onto a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap.
  5. On another cutting board, take a slice of smoked salmon and press your heart shaped cookie cutter into it, if it doesn’t cut through completely, use a sharp knife to cleanly cut the heart shape using the cookie cutter as your guide. Repeat as many times as you have smoked salmon. Remember that you can piece together a large enough block of smoked salmon to cut more hearts out.
  6. Once you have exhausted the smoked salmon, cut as many hearts out from the rice as you have salmon hearts; you can also reuse the left over rice bits to make additional rice hearts. Assemble by placing the smoked salmon heart directly on top of the rice heart, lining up as best you can.
  7. Dot a single dot of the wasabi mayo in the centre of the heart. Serve immediately, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap so that the rice doesn’t dry out.

SmokeSalmonHearts_2115

The wasabi mayo is a lovely bit of heat

Directions for Rectangles:

  1. Mix the rice vinegar into the hot rice and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Line a 25 cm or 10 inch square cake pan with plastic wrap overhanging two opposing sides. Press the cooled cooked rice evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set in shape.
  3. In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise and wasabi paste and mix throughly.
  4. Take individual sheets of smoked salmon and piece it on top of the rice while still in the pan, overlapping slightly so that there aren’t any holes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Take the plastic wrap overhanging sides and lift the rice out of the pan onto a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap.
  6. Using a ruler or straight edge, cut even rectangles and dot each one with the wasabi mayo (you may need additional wasabi mayo for this)

Or take the easy route and cut out little rectangles instead of hearts!

My friend Susan made these for a pot luck dinner we had in November last year. I liked them so much I knew I had to make them sometime!

SmokeSalmonHearts_2109

The little hearts are very festive, but you needn’t reserve them for Valentine’s Day.

The nutrition is based on 2 hearts per serving.

The nutrition is based on 2 hearts per serving.

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Today is my dear Mother’s birthday; were she alive, she would have been 78 years young!

Happy Birthday Mom, I miss you.

Happy Birthday Mom (21 in this photo), I miss you.

Several years ago we dined at Diego, a lovely Mexican restaurant in the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas and I had a wonderful Ceviche that I have not been able to forget. It was an unusual combination of coconut milk and lime juice that just hit my taste buds perfectly. I adore ceviche and order it whenever I see it on a good restaurant’s menu and have not had the pleasure of these flavours together in one since. So, I thought I’d take a stab at it and create an opportunity to use one of my pearls in the process! Clever, don’t you think?

I’ve made ceviche before, the non-cheater kind but I wanted to put this together quickly for an hors d’œuvres recently and I didn’t feel like waiting for the acid to ‘cook’ the shrimp so I came up with this ‘cheater’ version. You can make the ceviche the old fashioned way, but this really worked out well!

I would have liked to add cubed avocado to this dish but sadly forgot to put it on my shopping list! I’ll remember next time, this is a very quick and tasty recipe.

It’s also rather coincidental in this cyber world how we all post about similar things so I can’t go without mentioning my dear Australian Blogging friend Lorraine who just last week posted this gorgeous recipe about real ceviche. Great minds think alike…please don’t finish the last part of this saying, it kinda bursts my bubble!

CheaterCevicheSpoons_2007

It’s just as tasty and doesn’t take long to make.

Cheater Shrimp Ceviche

Makes ~200 mL Ceviche (slightly more than 3/4 cup), or 8 single serve Chinese Spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated finely
  • 1 tbsp rosa’s lime cordial
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 80 g cooked cocktail shrimp, chopped
  • 3-4  slices of English Cucumber (0.5 cm or 1/4″ thick) cubed
  • 1 celery rib, cubed
  • 1/4 cup avocado, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika pearls

Directions:

  1. Combine the coconut milk powder, finely grated ginger, lime cordial and lime juice in a measuring cup and blend until smooth with a stick blender.
  2. Combine the chopped shrimp, cubed English cucumber, avocado (if I had some) and celery with the cilantro and green onion, toss with the coconut milk dressing to coat evenly.
  3. Serve immediately garnished with the smoked paprika pearls.

CheaterCeviche_2004

A refreshing combination of flavours.

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On Monday you may have noticed two posts went live at the same time; it wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did! Doesn’t matter how many times I checked it! Sigh.
Happy New Year dear readers. I hope you enjoyed bringing in 2014 with gusto and good eats! We entertained long time friends over a quiet trivia-filled evening. We served Tapas style food in the living room in front of our ever-so-quickly drying out Christmas tree and wood fire in the fireplace. This was the menu:
Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Roll-ups
• Lobster Tails with Drawn Garlic Butter
Smoked Salmon Mousse in Cucumber Cups
• California “Sushi” Slice (recipe below)
• Cheese Plate, Cranberry Sauce, Chestnut, Mushrooms & Cognac Pâté
• Fruit plate of grapes, strawberries and chocolate.

In early December we hosted a pot luck dinner party with our Trivial Pursuit Cottage friends. The three couples brought various components for a delicious meal and we thoroughly enjoyed everything; there was a delightful butternut squash soup, our contribution of the Guinness Stew with butter biscuits and last but not least, an enormous and decadent baked raspberry cheesecake! It was totally delicious and gluttonous. The hors d’œuvres was a beautifully presented smoke salmon sushi square with wasabi mayo and capers which really made me want to recreate it for New Years Eve. Because I’m already using smoked salmon for another tapa, I decided to reinvent it. It’s easy to assemble and the presentation has a lot of bang for the buck, and it tastes lovely too!

CaliforniaSushiSlice_1776

The small amount of wasabi really packs a punch in the mayo.

California Sushi Slice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 sheet roasted sushi seaweed
  • 1 avocado (very ripe) (~160 g give or take)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 110 g Flake Style Surimi (crab flavoured pollack) roughly 1/2 package
  • thinly sliced English cucumbers (use a mandolin to get thin even slices, mine worked out to 5 slices and I had cucumber left over)
  • 1 tsp wasabi (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Mayo
  • 2 tbsp toasted white and black sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Line an 8″ x 8″ (20cm x 20cm) square baking pan with plastic wrap so that two opposing sides come up over the sides of the pan a bit (to be used as handles to lift out of the pan).
  2. Cook the sushi rice according to directions. Add 1 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar and mix well. Allow to cool and then press an even layer of cooked sushi rice into the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.
  4. In a small bowl, add the ripe avocado and I tsp lemon juice (to prevent browning) and mash with a fork. To the mashed avocado add roughly torn surimi and mix well (you don’t want huge chunks, but smallish bite-sized bits) and spread this onto the seaweed layer evenly.
  5. Cut the seaweed into strips about 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide then pile the strips into a neat pile and cut into smallish strips (I did this because it can be difficult to bite cleanly into it) and spread an even layer over the rice.
  6. Top with the thinly sliced cucumber and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until firm.
  7. Meanwhile mix the wasabi and mayo well, set aside (add to a small plastic squeeze bottle). Arrange the sliced cucs on a couple of folded sheets of paper towel to dry them a bit (~5 minutes).
  8. Once the squares are firm, remove from fridge, lift out of the pan using the plastic wrap and slice into even slices or squares. Remove plastic wrap and plate. Dot with wasabi mayo and serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers, may be kept one day before rice hardens too much or made one day in advance.

CaliforniaSushiSlice_1772

The little bits of seaweed make it easier to eat than if it was a sheet.

CaliforniaSushiSlice_1775

Would you care for one?

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Allow me to digress dear readers; it was the late 1980’s and we were all newlyweds, excited to begin our lives in our new homes. Part of this excitement was the possibility of entertaining, and yes I do mean all grown up, playing house! I moved directly from my parents home into our marriage home so the thought of entertaining in our new house was exhilerating! We routinely rotated dinner parties so each of the new home-makers could enjoy the entertaining aspect of our new lives.

This dip has the perfect combination of flavours

This dip has the perfect combination of flavours

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, I assisted for a Christmas magazine shoot (for 2014) and there was a seafood dip recipe that I had to make. It contained copious amounts of expensive seafood (to be honest, I don’t know anyone who would be willing to spend that kind of money on a dip! $20 lobster, $45 canned lump crab and $10 shrimp, granted you only needed 3oz of each to make that dip) but it reminded me of a delicious warm crab that one of our friends made in the late 80’s! I remember asking her for a copy of the recipe which she clipped out of the Toronto Star (our local newspaper).

We were absolutely smitten the first time we tried the original warm crab dip. The dip has crab meat, cream cheese, onion, dill and horseradish, the combination is fantastic! So when I brought home some leftover crab meat I knew I wanted to make it for the 2013 entertaining season. Imagine my HORROR when I looked for the photocopied recipe and all I could find is this corner:

This is the only part of the recipe I could find!

This is the only part of the recipe I could find!

In total panic, I posted a plea on Facebook to all my friends to see if someone else had this wonderful recipe, but sadly I was out of luck. Thank you, by the way for your wonderful suggestions — you definitely had my mouth watering but I was on a mission for my particular recipe. So I put on my recipe developer hat and got to work trying to replicate this recipe from two decades ago and by George, I think I got it! I’ve used the decadent Jumbo Lump Crab meat because it’s what I had, but plain ordinary canned crabmeat works equally well, you just don’t get the giant lumps but the flavour is the same. I’m posting the recipe in the measurements I developed but you can half it easily. I like to freeze these types of baked dips in plastic lined smallish ramekins so that if I have unexpected company I can easily unwrap the plastic and pop it frozen into the specific ramekin and bake. If you bake the dip frozen, make sure to allow extra time to defrost while baking.

Warm Crab Dip

The almonds give it extra texture

The almonds give it extra texture

Makes about 1 1/2 cups dip

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c Extra Smooth Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp dill (dried is fine)
  • 2 tsp horseradish (the original recipe called for horseradish cream, but I never had horseradish cream on hand)
  • 2 tbsp red onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150 g crab meat (canned is perfectly fine here). It’s about 1/2 cup, or one can give or take. 
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, dill, horseradish, red onion and milk and mix well.
  2. Fold in the crab meat; if using lump make sure you leave some chunks but it’s not entirely necessary, I just prefer the way it looks.
  3. Season with salt.
  4. If you are making this for the future, line three half-cup ramekins with plastic wrap (like this).
  5. Divide the mixed dip into the three ramekins pressing into the ramekin so it will retain the shape. Try not to have too many folds so that the plastic comes off easily. Carefully twist the plastic wrap to seal. Place the ramekins in the freezer. Once the dip has frozen to the ramekin shape, remove the frozen dip and  label it and return the shaped dip to the freezer until needed. Put your ramekins away.
  6. About 30-40 minutes before serving, pre-heat the oven to 375° F. Remove plastic wrap from the frozen dip and pop the shaped dip into the original ramekin you used to freeze it. Place on a cookie sheet (it may boil over depending on how full your ramekin was) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until dip is bubbling in the centre.
  7. Remove the baked dip and sprinkle with almonds. Return to the oven and broil for a couple of minutes until the almonds are toasted. Serve with crostini, crackers or even sliced cucumbers.

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October is slipping through our fingers very quickly. Socially, we are already booking into November which never ceases to amaze me. Blogs are filling the virtual world with comforting fall recipes, halloween decorations and stories. My dear friend Kelly (a fellow Canadian who recently moved to California , the delightful writer and creative genius of Inspired Edibles) made a comment on my last spooky story about a haunted house tour in London she participated in several years ago and that reminded me of my own haunting experience in the UK. So I would like to continue with the Spooky Story series on my humble blog (to be honest, I had no idea I had so many of them!) Please pardon the photos in this post of our trip to the UK, they were before digital cameras and I simply took an iPhone photo of them for this post!

It was about 4 years into our marriage and JT and I were vacationing in the UK; we rented a car and drove from  town to town from the south-west to the south-east culminating our adventure in London for a few days (as a side note: we saw the Queen Mother speed along in her Rolls Royce while we were walking to Buckingham Palace). We specifically chose to stay in old mansions and guest houses on this trip, it was not only budget friendly but it also was much more fun than the large international hotels.

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Bibury Court Hotel

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This was high fashion in 1990! Well, at least my hair was high.

One such town was Bibury which is a quaint little picturesque town in the heart of the Cotswolds. We stayed at a very large, very old manor house Bibury Court Hotel, incidentally the same manor house that JT and his dear Mom stayed in several years earlier. “The hotel is found on the edge of the famous village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England” taken verbatim from their website!

On these holidays, one of the things JT really loves to do is visit old castles and there were plenty of them in England; of course his favourite part of the castle was always the dungeon! As you can well imagine, my young self was not thrilled at such prospects, but as a good young wife, I accompanied him through many a dungeon throughout England and each one gave me the willies — some worse than others.

After our visit to Warwick Castle, I was particularly spooked. Not sure why, but as soon as I entered the very ghoulish dungeon I had an uneasy feeling and some very cold air wafted over me (of course, dungeons are cold and damp so that wasn’t entirely unusual).  The uneasy feeling was so overwhelming that I was unable to spend more than a second in the dungeon and we had to cut our time short. We retreated to our lovely manor house on the edge of town.

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This was the creepiest room by far in the dungeon.

We rented a lovely room which was pleasantly decorated and reasonably spacious for the time. But the view was something to be desired, particularly by someone who was recently spooked by dungeon spirits; our room over looked the grave yard (cue scary music). JT was nice enough to see if there was another room facing a different direction but sadly they were fully booked so we were stuck. I said it didn’t bother me, but you know it did.

We had a lovely dinner in the converted restaurant coach house and an after dinner drink in the quaint little bar tucked in beneath the grand old staircase in the manor house. And then it was time to retire. I tried not to think of the old cemetery, but it weighed heavily on my mind.

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That was the window that the wind and ghosts were pouring in from. The grave yard was directly outside.

Eventually, I drifted off to sleep but it wasn’t a restful sleep. As I lay curled up on the comfy bed, snuggled under the generous duvet, the large windows facing the grave yard at the foot of the bed flung themselves open and the curtains wafted menacingly in the cold fall winds sending a chill throughout the room. But it wasn’t just wind blowing in; there were ghosts…lots of them. Apparently that is the moment I jumped out of bed and screamed to shut the windows. Of course, the windows were not open and nor were there cold winds nor ghosts blowing in. Occasionally, when I am stressed I talk in my sleep and the only way to console me is to agree and remedy, however ridiculous it may be. JT learned this lesson with the bed spiders (sorry Chgo John, that’s a whole other story). So JT simply got up and pretended to whisk out the ghosts,  close the windows and lock them down tight, explaining what he was doing along the way.  That seemed to be good enough for  me and I was able to continue my sleep with the consolation that the grave yard and ghosts were on the other side of the locked windows. The next morning, JT took quite the delight in telling me the story but I had no recollection!

I’m sure it was the heavy, meat laden meal I had that night which no doubt contributed to my restless night; had I chosen something lighter, such as vegetarian Paella, I may not have had such vivid dreams of ghosts and grave yards!

I have documented several paella recipes on my blog (please see here, and here)

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A traditional Paella Pan is essential to make this authentic dish

Seafood Paella with Salmon Chorizo

Original recipe from Matiz La Bomba Paella Rice on back of bag. This particular bag of rice was a beautiful gift from our biscotti neighbour, wasn’t that thoughtful? This was only the second time I made this dish the authentic way on top of the stove. Nothing was even remotely over cooked!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • approximately 650 g of seafood, I used Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Salmon and Cod
  • 1 Salmon Chorizo (for recipe, please click here)
  • 4 cups vegetable or fish broth, warmed
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (I used unsalted)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 c green peas
  • 1/4 c sweet corn
  • 3/4 cup of La Bomba Pealla Rice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO

Directions:

  1. About 1 hour to 1 day prior tocooking the Paella, add the saffron to the white wine and refrigerate.
  2. In a Paella Pan, on medium heat, add 2 tbsp EVOO and sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes  and white wine saffron mix and simmer for another 5 minutes. This is the Sofrito.
  4. Add La Bomba rice and stir until the rice is thoroughly covered with the Sofrito.
  5. Slowly add the broth to the paella, moving the rice around gently until it is evenly distributed throughout the pan. The instructions indicate not to stir the rice after this point.
  6. After about 10 minutes of simmering, add your selection of seafood into the mixture, evenly distributing and gently burying it within the rice. After 15 minutes, add the peas and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Once the broth has been completely absorbed, remove from heat and cover with a lid or aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve in the Paella pan garnished with lemon and lime wedges (which I forgot!).

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The rice is short grain and soaks up the vegetable stock like a risotto rice would, making a deliciously creamy dish;jl

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Our neighbours were kind enough to bring us back authentic Paella rice called La Bomba.

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I even used Saffron from Morocco! The dish was perfect in every way.

I thought you might enjoy some photos from the Thanksgiving weekend in Muskoka:

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Unfortunately, the colours were just past their prime.

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Some of the golden colours were still quite beautiful.

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The scenery made for a beautiful drive.

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A few leaves still hanging on for dear life!

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Sunrise from the boat house at my brother’s place

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The setting sun still produces an incredible effect in the sky.

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We usually have a lot of fishermen at the lake because apparently it is a good fishing lake. The past couple of years someone has caught something big in our bay and word got out, so we usually have a couple of fishing boats trolling our bay for fish every weekend. As you can well imagine I am not fond of this activity particularly when it infringes my privacy. The lake at the cottage is spring fed, which means that it’s reasonably cold for most of the summer, in fact it’s usually August by the time I feel it’s warm enough for a refreshing dip! Over these same last few years, it  seems that every time I dip into the water, smallish fish surround my legs; it wouldn’t be bad but these little devils actually try to bite my legs! They’ve obviously heard about the good fishing in the lake and have launched a protest in the form of attacking my defenseless legs! Since I don’t like to fish (obviously, they haven’t heard!) but I do like to eat fish (well, maybe they have a point!) I usually get my fish from our fish monger or the grocery store.

Recently we had some friends for dinner who are vegetarian (the fish-eating kind) and I wanted to make a fish based Paella; I’ve made this dish before but found it a bit lacking without the use of chorizo so I was thinking…what if I made chorizo from fish using similar spices? The texture isn’t the same, but it did add the punch from the spices that I was looking for. It worked out so well, that I will use this method for other  ‘sausages’ in the future.

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A delightful combination of cod, bay scallops, shrimp and salmon chorizo

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I am participating again in Our Growing Edge Monthly blogging event; I’ve participated before because I had made the Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake which was pretty out there for me, but since then, I can’t say that I’ve made anything quite so awesome, until now.

Salmon Chorizo

makes three ‘sausages’ about 10 cm long each

Ingredients:

  • 120 g drained canned salmon, skinless and boneless
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Saran wrap or thick plastic wrap made for cooking (not microwave as they may contain small holes)
  • 3 tbsp canola oil

Directions:

  1. In a small food processor, add all the ingredients except the plastic wrap and canola oil and process until it is well mixed.
  2. Lay out one piece of plastic wrap about 30 cm x 30 cm (12″ x 12″). Pipe a length of the mixture into the centre of the plastic wrap and fold over one side and smooth out so that it’s taught to the salmon mixture. Now roll the ‘sausage’ up on the plastic wrap.
  3. Take each end of the wrap and roll the ends until it is very tightly wound, tie a knot in each end. Repeat until you have rolled all of the ‘sausages’.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat about 10 cm (3″) of water until it is almost boiling. Add each ‘sausage’ to the simmering water and cook for about 10 minutes (you don’t want to boil the water, just simmer).
  5. Remove the sausages from the water and drain. Allow to cool completely in the wrap and when cool remove the wrap. The ‘sausage’ should maintain its shape well. Slice into 1 cm (1/2″) thick slices.
  6. In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil and fry each side of the ‘sausage’ until desired colour is achieved. Now you are ready to use you salmon chorizo in your recipe.

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The egg is the binder in this sausage

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The sausage stands up very well in the paella

 

 

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The egg yolk acts as part of the dressing on this tasty salad

This post was written and photographed entirely on my iPhone 4S sitting on the deck at the cottage. Apps used for photos are: PS (Photoshop) Express and Art Studio Lite.

We’ve been enjoying our time at the cottage but sadly the lazy days of summer are quickly coming to an end so we’re savouring every bite minute. Many of you have suggested that I write a cookbook/manual about the cottage and I’m going to seriously consider it. Thank you for being so very complimentary, I am very touched by your kind words and voices of encouragement.
Cottage life to me means taking the time that is normally not available in the city; take things low and slow. It’s been incredibly hot up north and humid! This morning it was 20C (68F) at 8am, projected humidity throughout the day is 97% which makes the 20C feel like 27C (81F)! Now that’s a scorcher for sure. Our little cottage is a heat sink powered by the low and slow moving sun on the horizon with inside temperatures in excess of 32C (90F) so I’ve been focussing on easy, lighter summer meals some with grilling instead of roasting. Yesterday’s lunch was a reinvention of a delightful salad I’ve enjoyed many times at a local place where I used to work. What’s incredibly delicious is the poached egg with a runny yolk on top which, when broken into flows all over the salad making a warm, creamy and delicious dressing. It’s not really a recipe as such, but mere suggestions; I urge you to try this wonderful dish at the earliest opportunity. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity – it will impress your taste buds for sure.

Poached Egg Smoked Salmon, Endive, Roasted Sweet Potato on Baby Arugula and Baby Kale Salad:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 handfuls each of baby arugula and baby kale
  • 2 large or 4 small endive
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 1 sweet potato
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and cube the sweet potato into about 2.5 cm or 1″ cubes and roast on the BBQ (or oven) with a 1 tbsp of olive oil until soft.
  2. Add a handful of the greens to each bowl. Slice endive and divide into each bowl.
  3. Add about 50 g of the smoked salmon to each bowl.
  4. In a small measuring cup, add the juice of half a lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, the Dijon mustard and dill and mix well, drizzle onto the greens.
  5. Poach two eggs so that the yolks remain runny. Add one egg to each bowl and divide the warm roasted sweet potato between each bowl.
  6. Add the capers and season to taste. Serve immediately.

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There is something extraordinary about a poached egg with a runny yolk.

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Thank you for your wonderful birthday wishes, I am so blessed to belong to such a giving community. XOXO to you all!

The same weekend of my birthday, we were invited to another benchmark birthday party at one of our wonderful neighbours; it was a special “Studio 54” theme! What fun is that? And everyone came dressed like the 70’s — it was glam and it was fun. Thank you Iona (and Tom), and I hope you had an amazing birthday.

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JT looking cool and hip; his pants usually don’t match my dress, though

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Those are curtain grommets decorating my dress!

Can you believe July is almost over? What ever happened to the summer? We’re still in high humidity and high temperatures so our meals tend to reflect lighter fare and foods that don’t need to be cooked or baked to limit the additional heat. This tuna Waldorf is a lovely adaption of the original Waldorf Salad made by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Astoria (the predecessor of the Waldorf Astoria) in New York City sometime between 1893 and 1896*. The original recipe is basically apples, walnuts and celery dressed in mayonnaise, but you know me, I try to healthy up the dish so I’ve made some alterations. I also like to serve it on a bed of greens but you can serve it on toasts or a wrap. We enjoyed this fast and easy dish at the cottage during our renos in early July.

Tuna Waldorf Salad

Serves 2 as a main coarse or 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin albacore chunk tuna in water or stock (to make this vegetarian, you can omit this or used firm cubed tofu in its place)
  • 1 cup diced celery (dice all items similar size)
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (you could give them a toast, if you’d like)
  • 1 diced apple
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chopped lemon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1 tbsp mayo (I used full strength)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (I added more lemon juice to imitate the tart flavour of the mayo, so I didn’t need to add more mayo)

Directions:

  1. Drain the tuna and set aside.
  2. Add the apple to a small bowl and squirt a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent it from oxidizing.
  3. Add the celery, green onion, walnuts and apple to a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine the Greek yogurt, mayo and 1 tbsp lemon juice and stir well. Add it to the vegetable fruit mix and coat evenly.
  5. Add the chunk tuna and stir until equally distributed.
  6. Serve on a bed of greens or toast.

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I have no idea why I shot the celery and nothing else, but since I had it, here it is!

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It was nice enough to sit outside even though it was a very overcast weekend.

I know many of the lovely readers of this blog have cottages or summer homes, so I thought I would pass along a little something I invented to help keep the mice off the cutlery in the drawers. Even though the mice don’t tend to enter the cottage during the warmer months, I cannot be 100% sure they are not having a hay-day dancing or whatever all over my cutlery, so I tend to wash them before use (as well as after use). I created this little invention to keep the buggers away from the cutlery, and I specifically chose plexy-glass so it would infuriate them as much as they infuriate me! So there, bugger mice, dance away because you can’t get there from here!

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The plexy-glass is cut to fit the parimetre and is glued with a bonding agent to the drawer without interfering with the roller mechanics. It is hinged about 1/3 the way out so that you can easily lift the other two thirds and balance it on the counter for easy access the cutlery.

*from Wikipedia

I’m taking a little time off over the next few days so if I am absent from your blog, I do apologize, but I need a bit of a break. See you soon.

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