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Posts Tagged ‘Light’

Season 20 of America’s Test Kitchen seems to be reinventing the wheel for the sake of reinventing the wheel. Case in point is this simple, yet flavourful recipe for steamed fish; ATK goes through some gyrations creating a foil sling to hold the fish and then wrapping the pan in even more foil. This presents two problems for me, it uses too much foil and the foil actually creates a barrier to the steaming ingredients. I created this dish the old fashioned way, en papillote, a tried and true envelope made of parchment paper and it worked perfectly. Although steamed fish can be boring, this one really brings it on so I would definitely recommend this as a dinner party main. It’s definitely a keeper.

The foil sling is a bit overkill, in my opinion.

Asian Inspired Steamed Whitefish

Please click here for the original recipe.

Serves 2 as a main.

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL black vinegar
  • 45 mL soy sauce
  • 10 mL Chinese rice wine
  • 7.5 mL toasted sesame oil
  • 7.5 mL sugar
  • 10 mL roasted garlic purée
  • .5 mL ground white pepper
  • 4 scallions
  • 10 cm ginger, divided
  • 200 g firm whitefish (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine, toasted sesame oil, roasted garlic purée, sugar and white pepper and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Cut two scallions in about 2 cm pieces. Finely slice the other two scallions and set aside. Peel and cut 3/4 of the ginger into about 2 cm pieces and add to the cut scallions. Slice the remaining ginger into matchsticks, set aside.
  4. Line a baking pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer with parchment (making sure there is enough parchment to enclose the fish). Add the scallions and the roughly chopped ginger to the centre of the parchment paper.
  5. Add the Fish on top of the scallion and ginger base, pour the sauce over the fish, allowing to pool below the fish.
  6. Bring up the sides of the parchment, to form a tent and fold and twist to seal and hold in place.
  7. Place the pan on the middle baking rack and steam until the fish reaches 125° F to 130° F.
  8. Meanwhile, heat 30 mL of vegetable oil in a small saucepan and fry the matchstick ginger until crispy.
  9. Serve on sticky rice garnished with the finely cut scallions and crispy ginger drizzled with the steaming broth.

Notes:

  • Firm whitefish options are haddock, cod, tilapia, monkfish. We used cod in this recipe. It is important to use similarly thick pieces of fish so they steam evenly.
  • I use this awesome wireless thermometer.
  • This recipe would be beautiful sous vide.

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Our last trip to Europe was a culinary shopping success, but sadly failed miserably in the Fashion area, particularly shoes. My shoe shopping times were constantly thwarted by siesta, and when there wasn’t siesta, I just wasn’t in the mood. I guess it just wasn’t my time. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t shopping, because there was quite a bit of shopping to be had, and I did my fair share, in the culinary field.

I brought back a variety of things that will be revealed in due time but now I shall direct you to this very delicious dessert/snack of peach and coconut jelly squares made with agar-agar. I have been wanting to buy this stuff but I have only ever found flavoured product so when I spotted it at my favourite grocery store in Almeria, I was all over it. Figuring out what to do with it was another story, so many interesting recipes. But what I really needed was a test experiment to see what exactly the texture of jelly that agar-agar creates. You see, we had the most luxurious, smoked fish mousse at our favourite French bistro and I was determined to recreate it. I was fairly certain that it was not made with gelatin because the texture was way to creamy and easily spreadable. It was so silky and smooth spread across some toasted baguette, it was a wonderful textural and taste experience. Making this light dessert showed me the proportions I needed to make a smooth, yet spreadable smoked fish mousse.

This is a recipe modified from this tasty recipe. I used peaches because I had peaches at home (frozen from the previous spring). It’s refreshing and the texture is smooth and creamy but it also has a bit of a gelatinus mouthfeel.

Peach and Coconut Jelly Squares

Ingredients:

Peach Layer

  • 100 mL grilled peach purée (roughly about 2 peaches peeled and chopped)
  • 5 mL lime juice
  • 150 mL water
  • 2 g 1 agar-agar powder
  • 30 g monk fruit crystals 
  • 5 mL vanilla

Coconut Layer

  • 200 mL cup water
  • 1 tsp agar-agar powder
  • 45 g monk fruit crystals
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 mL coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Add the water to a saucepan and add the agar-agar, slowly bring to a full boil, and stir until the agar-agar has completely dissolved. Add the monk fruit crystals and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the peach purée and vanilla and stir to combine well. Pour into the mould.
  3. For the coconut layer, add the water to a saucepan and add the agar-agar and slowly bring to a full boil and then stir until the agar-agar has dissolved. Add the monk fruit crystals and stir until dissolved, add the salt and coconut milk and stir to combine well.
  4. Once the peach layer has set (this happens as it cools, does not need to be refrigerated), carefully pour the coconut layer over it. Both layers should be warm so that they stick together.

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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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applepreserves_first

This is a naturally sweet applesauce, no added sugar or chemicals, just the beautiful sweetness of the apples!

Since JT and I have embarked on our diet, I have been expanding a recipe collection because there is nothing worse than eating ‘diet food’. JT can attest that our food has been the furthest from ‘diet’, at least, our perception of ‘diet food’. We’ve had:

  • Chicken Schnitzel with cauliflower mash
  • Zucchini spaghetti and chicken meatballs
  • Mushroom and cauliflower crêpes with lentil béchamel sauce
  • Apple and Dijon glazed pork tenderloin
  • Pulled pork tenderloin crêpe with homemade BBQ sauce
  • Navy bean mushroom ‘risotto’
  • Pacific Salmon with cauliflower dill sauce on wilted spinach
  • Chicken Tikka Masala on cauliflower ‘rice’
  • Pork tenderloin on braised red cabbage
  • Pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce on sautéd veggies
  • Tilapia en papillote
  • Bouillabaisse

The real challenge is finding alternatives that fit into the diet parameters so I created this apple preserve (or butter) as a condiment, but also as a sweetener in some of the dishes named above. I try to vary the meals so that we don’t get bored of the same thing.

The other thing that I’m finding quite helpful is weighing everything to make sure we are not having more than we should — I’ve fallen off that bandwagon a few times, so it’s great to get back to it. Measuring is a great tool to keep you on track and it keeps you from inching up the volume (which I can be guilty of)! I measure out 100 g  (3.5 oz) portions of any protein we purchase and freeze them individually. I know each baggy is 100 g (3.5 oz) which is exactly the portion size we should be eating. It doesn’t take long to get used to the smaller volumes particularly since we have to drink a lot of water. And the veggies are quite generous (230 g 8 oz per portion), in fact, JT has a difficult time eating the allotted volume of veggies sometimes (I do a lot of wilted spinach…makes for a smaller amount!). Fortunately, we can season to our heart’s content so the food isn’t bland. The other thing about 100 g or 3.5 oz portions is that it makes the budget go further! I’m not going to post a lot more about my regimen but I will share the odd recipe I think you might enjoy. Plus, we have a few cheat days planned (Super Bowl for one!) so I’ll share some of those tasty treats. Thank you for allowing us to indulge in our resolutions, while I enjoy your wonderful recipes from afar, for the time being.

Unsweetened Apple Preserves

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 750 mL (3 cups) preserves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg (about 2 lb) red delicious apples, peel and core included*.
  • 1 L (about 4 cups) water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 g (about 3 tbsp) freshly grated ginger
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium Dutch oven, add chopped apples, water and cinnamon sticks and cook on medium heat until apples have broken down and thickened and most of the water has evaporated, about xx minutes.
  2. Add freshly grated ginger and pinch of salt, stir well.
  3. Pour into prepared containers and seal with new lids. Store in the freezer. Use refrigerated preserves within a month.

Uses:

  • Use to sweeten sauces and dressings instead of sugar.
  • Pour over unsweetened yogurt or ice cream or gelato.
  • Use as a condiment for pork.
  • Combine with a little Dijon Mustard as a glaze over pork tenderloin.

*The peel and core add natural pectin to the preserves which help to thicken and preserve it.

applepreserves

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UnfriedGarbonzoBeans_First

This recipe nothing new. You’ve seen it posted a million times on a million blogs (OK, maybe I exaggerate!). And I wasn’t going to post about it, but it turned out SO WELL so I kinda felt like I had to. I’ve made the oven roasted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) before and although they were pretty good, they didn’t have the crispy crunch that I had been lead to believe they would. Sure they were crisp on the exterior but the interior was rather pasty. These beans are crunchy through and through! In fact, if I hadn’t “unfried” them, I would not, could not, have believed that they were not deep fried. Yes, you read that correctly, my dear friend: they are UNFRIED.

Some time back, I cooked for a short testimonial-piece for the T-Fal ActiFry Express XL appliance (not published yet) where I had to cook twelve dishes in advance for an on-location motion shoot with a local celebrity. The great folks at T-fal gave me an ActiFry Express XL for the job. I started cooking at 5am so that food would look fresher than cooking it the night before and left just in the nick of time to get there (far end of town). We got the house at 12:30 and had to be out at 3:30! It was challenging, to say the least, particularly because the kitchen was the commercial set! I had to prep on the floor in the hall, and at one point, in the garage so that I could have access to an electrical outlet! That profession kitchen truck would have come in very handy!

JT and I are not big on fried foods, so this cool appliance is perfect for us and recently I needed a cocktail snack for the cottage and I wanted something healthy with protein and crispy garbanzo beans (chick peas) popped into my head. I thought the beans would be perfect for the ActiFry (see notes). So I purchased two 540 mL (19 oz) cans of low sodium chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and dried them on a clean towel and popped them into the non-stick coated ActiFry. The result was magical, it did not dehydrate the beans (which sometimes makes them a bit leathery), it actually fried them in 1 tbsp oil! They are crunchy through and through! And the next best part? I didn’t have to turn on the oven because it was 30° C (86° F) outside and humid! And cleanup was a cinch (I vacuumed it and wiped it out with a soft cloth).

I know that this recipe will be a repeat for all parties from now on!

UnfriedGarbonzoBeanSnack

“Unfried” Garbonzo Beans (or chick peas)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes ~250 g or 2 cups unfried garbanzo beans (chick peas)

Ingredients:

  • 540 mL (19 oz) cans of low sodium chick peas
  • 1 tbsp dehydrated onion powder (see notes)
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic (see notes)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • dash of sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the spices and salt and mix well.
  2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans (chick peas) and lay out on a clean towel to dry for 30 minutes).
  3. Add the dried beans to the ActiFry bowl and drizzle in the oils. Set the timer to 45 minutes and close the lid. Start, allow the paddle to rotate a full circle and open the lid and sprinkle about 1/3 of the spice blend onto the beans. Close the lid and allow the paddle to go around twice. Repeat until all of the spice blend is used up. Close the lid and wait for the magic to happen.
  4. Test the beans around 35 minutes and then about 5-minute increments. You want a crunch, much like the crunch you get when you eat potato chips. Keep it going until you achieve a great, crunchy bean.
  5. Pour the beans out onto a clean cookie sheet (with sides) and allow to cool. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed (it was too humid to store in the pantry).

Notes:

  • I keep a container of Kirkland Signatur Chopped Onion and I combine it with Kirkland Signatur Granulated Garlic (not garlic powder) and blitz it in a coffee come spice grinder for this purpose (great on popcorn too!).
  • Be creative and come up with your own blend of spices, like garlic, ginger and sea salt.
  • I did not have time to use dried beans but feel free to soak, dry and ActiFry dried beans, I’m sure the result would be the same.
  • Although the ActiFry paddle moves around at a very slow pace, I find larger things get a bit beat up without the stationery tray but it’s perfect for these beans.

Disclosure:

Eva Taylor/Kitcheninspirations received T-fal ActiFry Express XL from Group SEB, Toronto; this recipe was developed by Eva Taylor for Kitcheninspirations, and the opinions expressed in this post are that of Eva Taylor/Kitcheninspirations.

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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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SweetPotatoHummus_first

A couple of weeks ago my kitchen had all sorts of half used leftover vegetables from a testing I did for my recipe testing lady. They were for recipes that called for specific volumes of vegetables (such as, 1 cup) instead of the quantity of vegetables (such as 1 medium carrot). I always find those recipes a bit odd because I am left with bits and pieces that lay around for weeks without any specific purpose. Indeed, I could have thrown them into a soup or stew but I wasn’t making either of those things. Then I saw my lovely friend Lorraine’s Roasted Vegetable Hummus recipes and thought “GENIUS”! What a great way to use up bits and pieces of leftover veg. Thank you Lorraine, truly a great idea (ps, it was darn delicious too!).

Because this recipe was created to use up leftover vegetables, feel free to modify the quantity or variety to what you have on hand. This would also work beautifully if you had leftover roasted veg from a dinner. Hummus is an easy Middle Eastern dip/spread and the seasonings should be to your personal taste; we love the traditional flavours so I’ve kept it pretty much the same with the exception of substituting tahini with toasted sesame oil because that’s what I had (you can use peanut butter too, I know, GASP!!!).

It turned out that The Hungarians had never tried sweet potatoes (not sure if it’s a veg not available in Budapest or they were never introduced to it) but it was a grand success as a dip AND as a roasted vegetable side for our roast chicken dinner one night.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Hummus

makes about 1 cup, depending on the size of your vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into equal sized cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into equal sized cubes
  • 1 large clove of garlic, whole
  • 3 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each, cumin and coriander
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp smoked sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190° C (375° F).
  2. Add sweet potato and carrot cubes to a large roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Add garlic (peel and all) to a small ramekin, top off with 2 tbsp olive oil and and water. Season with sea salt. Cover with foil and tuck into a corner of the roasting pan.
  4. Roast vegetables for about 35 minutes or until very tender, try not to brown the vegetables so that the dip colour remains vibrant.
  5. Scrape vegetables from roasting pan into a glass bowl, squeeze the garlic out from its skin and pour the liquid from the garlic into the glass bowl with the sweet potato and carrot.
  6. Toast the cumin and coriander until fragrant, add to the glass bowl along with the remainder of the ingredients (with the exception of the sesame seeds). Purée until smooth, season with salt and pepper, if desired. For an ultra smooth dip, press through a fine sieve. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature with bread, crackers or crisp vegetables.
SweetPotatoHummus

It’s creamy and naturally sweet.

My dear friend Genie of Bunny, Eats, Design suggested I submit this post to our growing edge for June, themed Picnic, hosted by Maddie from Supper Lovin’

our-growing-edge-banner

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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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Has this ever happened to you: you hear about something for the first time and then you keep hearing about it again and again? It’s happened to me recently and it’s the absolute, lip smacking, deliciously tantalizing Kale Salad by renowned chef and restauranteur of Gusto 101, Daniel Mezzolo. My friend Kim (old boss, neighbour) mentioned this salad a while back and I’ve seen it come up more and more often which has made me want to taste said salad, however, that is much more difficult than one would think. You see, Gusto 101 takes reservations only until 6pm and then it’s a free for all. We’ve driven by many times around 7 or 8 and there is always quite the line-up outside, waiting for a table. Now, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I just don’t like to line up. I figure if I am about to spend upwards of $80 for a meal, I shouldn’t have to wait in line to do so. But this is the reality if one needs to try this salad, and I really, really needed to try it.

I searched the net and found this helpful video on making this healthy salad, but alas there was no recipe for the dressing…so I looked further and found several versions all based on similar ingredients. My friend Celi from The kitchen’s garden just competed her September Home Grown challenge during which time she only allowed herself to eat what she grew on her little farmie! By the end of the challenge she mentioned that she was quite tired of eating the same old things. So when I finally hunkered down and made a decent effort to make the Kale Salad, I immediately thought of Celi. I know I’m a little late for the challenge, but it’s definitely a good recipe and I hope you have a chance to try it before the snow falls.

KaleSalad_1012

It’s a melt in your mouth salad

What makes this salad unique is the finely cut curly kale and how the lemon juice in the dressing acts to ‘cook’ the kale as it sits (like a ceviche would cook the seafood!). It’s a wonderful balance of sour, sweet and salty. I added a couple of slices of crispy cooked Serrano ham, but that is easily omitted if you wish to make it vegetarian.

Cavolo Nero (Kale Salad)

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups finely chopped kale
  • 2 tbsp raisins or dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts or toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 slices of Serrano ham, baked or fried until crisp and crumbled (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1/4 c + 2 tbsp of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese or Pecorino
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. About 20-30 minutes before serving, combine the lemon juice, honey, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and salt and mix well in a large unreactive bowl (not metal).  Add the finely cut kale and toss to coat evenly. Set aside for a minimum of 20 minutes (I did 30 minutes) tossing a few times over the 30 minutes. (an update October 16: I made this salad at my brother’s cottage last weekend and I suspect the kale was older and tougher so 30 minutes wasn’t enough time to macerate, please keep this in mind when making the salad. Just as baby kale will take less time than the 30 minutes because it is not has tough).
  2. Muddle the fresh basil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, with a pinch of salt. Set aside. I’ve made this lovely salad without the basil oil without missing it.
  3. Just before serving, add the raisins, pine nuts, crispy serano ham and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the dressed kale and toss well. Divide the kale between two plates.
  4. Drizzle the basil olive oil on the plate and garnish with 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese over each plate. Serve immediately.
KaleSalad_1009

Perfectly balanced sweet, sour and salty

KaleSalad_1010

A perfect salad for a hot summer’s day. Where did it go, anyway?

EarlyFallColours_0991

The fall colours were just starting when I took these photos in late September.

FallColours2013_0990

The cottage colours happen a bit earlier than the city colours.

SunsetSept2013_0992

The sun also moves to the far left during the fall. We see more of the sunset during the summer months.

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20130830-101628.jpg

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.
20130830-101641.jpg

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

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Hi Everyone, hope all my lovely readers in the North East fared well through that huge storm the other day. I watched it on the Weather Network radar and it looked absolutely brutal.

I have one more thing to ask of you lovely readers (in fact, my friend Smidge from Just a Smidgen also requested it). Kindly link your Gravatar to your blog, otherwise we have no way of knowing where you came from and we cannot comment on your blog. It’s in Gravatar.com, you’ll have to sign in and Edit your Public Profile, update your link to your blog in My Links. Thank goodness Smidge asked me to do this because believe it or not mine WASN’T linked! Thanks Smidge!

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A friend dated a guy with whom we became close. They broke up, so we asked her if she would mind if we kept him; she said not at all. So we did. He came for dinner a few weeks ago and I made a Hungarian themed dinner party; Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajtos Rud), Celeriac Velouté with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Croutons (recipe to come), Chicken Paprikas with Nokedli (I updated the nokedli part as Barb mentioned to me that her’s didn’t turn out), a nice Hungarian Cucumber salad (recipe to come) and Krémes. I was looking for a new dessert that would finish off the evening in style so I ‘traveled’ all the way to British Columbia to my good Hungarian friend Zsuzsa’s blog and found these wonderfully delicious Custard Squares. She spoke very highly of the recipe so I knew they would not disappoint. They are labour intensive but well worth the effort. They totally remind me of Mille Feuille that was my favourite when I was a child. The pastry is fantastically flaky.

I divided the recipe into a third of the original as I didn’t need quite as many. JT said I should have made the entire batch (that’s a testament to how good they are!). Thank you Zsuzsa for a tremendous dessert. I turned the most of the measurements into weight because it was easier to divide into 3 that way! You should get yourself a digital kitchen scale (I have this one), it is essential for baking.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes)

Makes 8 squares in a 5″ x 9″ loaf pan (if you want more, please see Zsuzsa’s original recipe, she has excellent photos on the process of making the pastry too).

Custard Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pk gelatin
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • dash of lemon juice

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 72 g all purpose flour
  • 76 g butter
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp cold water
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Pastry Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, and add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for one hour. Set aside.
  2. Next make the flaky pastry. In a food processor with metal blades, combine the flour and chilled butter until it resembles a fine crumble. Add the salt and pulse to distribute. Combine the vinegar and the water and stream into the processor until a dough ball forms.
  3. Generously flour a board and roll out the pastry into a rectangle and divide into 4 equal parts. Stack the four rectangles on top of one another and chill for twenty minutes.
  4. Once chilled, separate each part and roll the dough into 4 very thin rectangles, roughly bigger than your loaf pan. Place in the bottom of your loaf pan, allowing the dough to form creases to fit into the pan. Repeat for the second rectangle, this will be the top. Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 14-18 minutes keeping watch as the pastry burns easily.
  5. When the pastry is golden brown, remove pan from the oven and immediately cut pastry into 8 squares (4 by 2). Wait a few minutes and carefully remove the squares and set them aside in the same order as they were in the pan, set aside.
  6. Repeat with the other two rectangles and bake, this is the bottom layer (do not cut this layer). Allow to cool, and remove from the pan, and put a good layer of plastic wrap into the pan with a generous amount coming up the side (this will help you lift it out). Return the bottom layer into the bottom of the pan, smoothing out the side of the plastic wrap.
  7. Next make the custard layer.
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It’s misleading because it has cream in the name, but there is no cream in the recipe.

Custard Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar for 8 minutes (they will become thick and pale). Add the vanilla
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and gelatine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten egg yolks and continue to beat until smooth.
  3. Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla infused milk and gradually add the vanilla infused milk to the bowl with the eggs and the flour.
  4. Over a simmering bain-marie cook the custard stirring it constantly until it reaches 80°C or 176° F with a candy thermometer (be careful as it can burn easily). As soon as it reaches 80° C remove immediately from the heat stir in the butter and set aside to cool.
  5. While the custard is cooling whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add the lemon juice and continue beating until almost stiff. Add 2 tbsp sugar and beat until shiny and stiff. You are trying to beat the sugar into the egg whites so they are no longer grainy (this takes several minutes).
  6. Once the custard has cooled, press it through a fine sieve (my custard got a bit lumpy because I didn’t stir well enough as it was cooking)
  7. Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold it into the custard to loosen it up. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the custard very slowly
  8. Pour this custard onto the bottom layer of the pastry and even out using a spatula, pushing it into the corners and sides. Add the top layer of pastry in the same order that you removed it from the pan, leaving a little space between each one to allow your knife to slide through to make the squares. Refrigerate until the custard has set.
  9. Once set, using the plastic wrap, lift the pastry dessert out of the pan onto a cutting board. Generously sprinkle with icing sugar. Using a wet knife, slice the custard into 8 equal squares, using your top pastry as your guide.
  10. Serve cold, perhaps with a dollop of whipping cream.
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Those little dots are from the vanilla bean that was infused in the milk

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A little fresh raspberries would have looked awesome in this photo. The forks are from Hungary, my Mom bought them for me.

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We’re off on a little break, so if I don’t comment on your blog right away, please know I still love reading your blog and will be back as soon as I can.
Inspiration comes from anywhere but the places I seem to be getting my inspiration are the wonderful blogs I read. Liz over at That Skinny Chick can Bake made this incredibly beautiful Lemon Cream Dessert with the Secret Recipe Club; I was immediately smitten. Plus I needed a nice light dessert for the finalé of our Indian Feast. Now we’d all like to eat like Liz and look like her, but sadly, that is not my world, so I had to take her beautiful dessert as inspiration and find a ‘lighter’ version and I found it at Serious Eats — It’s a Greek Yogurt Lemon Mousse!

It’s an easy dessert to make and the egg whites are cooked over a bain marie, as if you were making Italian Meringue! I didn’t change a thing!

Now you’ll see in the last picture that the texture was described as spray foam insulation, but tasting way better. It’s definitely a firm mousse with very good lemon flavour! I will book mark this recipe for the future!

We got these adorable little pots in Paris; yogurt came in them, the company was celebrating their anniversary and packaged their product in these gorgeous pots

You see, I wasn’t fibbing! This is one of our breakfasts in our Paris apartment

The texture was described as resembling spray foam insulation, but tasting WAY better! Thx Gordon P XO

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The weather in Toronto is warm and crisp this week, the humidity is all but gone, which is a lovely change to the close weather we were having over the last couple of weeks (sadly, it will turn ‘oven-hot’ again tonight). We turned the A/C off and opened windows, taking full advantage of all the fresh air, but someone forgot to tell the birds that 3:30am is far too early to get up and start chirping. Did they not get them memo?

Here is one of the culprits, I’m sure (I didn’t want to scare him so I took the photo through the screened window). This Blue Jay (not to be confused with our team*)  and his partner were at the feeder by the kitchen window the other day — the small bird feeder. The partner was smart and was picking up the seeds from the ground. Can you see how ridiculously he is balancing to get to the seeds (his feet are hanging onto the feeder just below his neck and he is balancing with his tail); clearly this feeder is not his size!

It’s like he sitting at the ‘kids table’

This incredible weather also means that we can enjoy our meals al fresco under the canopy of the arbor in our garden. Our lives are a little topsy turvy as JT recently started a new job that has him working some nights until 8:30 which leaves me to prepare ‘dinners’ that will mainly be used as lunches for us both the following day. I guess this forces me to eat, because I can get caught up in various chores around the house or blogging and simply forget to eat (I can be pretty focused). In general, I come home, cook ‘dinner’ eat it and prepare our lunches for the following day. Then I sit and blog. Sometimes I cook something I can blog about, this is one of those times.

Would you say this is a 3 dressed up as a 9?

Sissi at With a Glass reminded me of Surimi Crab (yes, fake crab) and that it does have a place on the luncheon menu, as long as you buy good quality brand and pair it with a tasty side or salad (Sissi and Maria at A-Boleyn made fresh rolls out of them which for me ended up to be rather unattractive when I tried to make them, practice makes perfect!) So an Asian inspired Surimi ‘crab’ salad was to be on the menu on this day. Surimi ‘crab’ is low in fat, contains some omega-3 so it is a good low fat dinner/lunch option.

Incidentally, we are presently redesigning the packaging for Clover Leaf Surimi (we do all of their packaging, the photos in the link are NOT our’s, they were provided) so it’s apt that I post a recipe for it. Sadly, my photography skills do not compare to the skills at our studio, but then again, nor does my camera! The plate, however, is a hand-me-down from the studio!

We are heading out to Illinois and Wisconsin this weekend (it’s a long weekend for us too, in Canada we celebrate Canada Day on July 1) to visit our friends Paul and T, so I want to use up the fresh goods in the fridge so I don’t have to toss them (or worse yet, so they don’t walk out on their own!). Much of this recipe is what’s in my fridge right now, I was trying to go without purchasing new produce. The measures are eyeballed, go with your tastebuds. The trick to this salad (or slaw) is to cut all of the vegetables uniformly so you can get a little bite of everything. To keep this salad over a few days, separate the wet (cucumber and mango) from the rest and mix as required. The ratio should be about 1/3 wet to 2/3 dry.

Surimi “Crab” Salad

Serves 4 (2 for lunch and 2 for dinner, 100 g protein portions each)

Ingredients:

  • 4oo g Surimi Crab, flake style
  • 1./2 Jicama or Yambean, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 1/2 celeriac or celery root, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 6 radishes, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 5 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 10-20 Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 regular basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 1 slightly unripened mango, finely grated on  a mandolin

Directions:

  1. Combine the Jicama to the basil leaves and mix well. I use my hands so all the ingredients are evenly distributed in the salad.
  2. Combine the cucumber and mango. Keep the wet from the rest so that the salad doesn’t wilt in the fridge. Mix only as required.

Dressing Ingredients:

This is just eyeballing, make the dressing to your own taste.

  • Trim off bits of mango from the stone (keeping away from the stone) that you weren’t able to grate with the mandolin (you’ll be surprised how much fruit is left over).
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 lime cordial
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (or to taste)

Dressing Instructions:

  1. Add all the ingredients to your immersion blender container and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as required.

Assemble Instructions:

  1. Combine 1/3 wet ingredients with 2/3 dry and mix well. Add a few tablespoons of the dressing and mix again.
  2. Plate, adding about 100 g surimi crab.
  3. Garish with sesame seeds, if desired, I forgot.

What ever it is, it sure is tasty

Notes:

  • I use Rose’s Lime Cordial as a short cut for lime juice and honey. I find it has the right balance for sweet and sour for my taste buds.
  • About a 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro is a wonderful addition. I didn’t have cilantro at home (my plant died) and in order not to buy anything new to make this meal, I omitted it.
  • Red cabbage also makes a great addition to this salad (see above for why it’s not in the recipe)
  • Mango has the same toxic ingredient as does poison ivy, therefore you want to ensure you remove ALL of the skin and stay about 0.5 cm from the stone. This ingredient causes stomach upset.
  • If you run out of mango, I have successfully substituted dried apricot (reconstituted with a little water) or even tamarind paste, both make exceptional dressings but you will need to adjust the salty and sour bits to taste.

*Sports reference provided for my friend Jed, the Sportsglutton

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JT has asked me to thank everyone for their lovely birthday wishes; thank you!

I have some exciting news to share with you today! I was approached by Daniel Maxian, a contributor at MyCityCuisine.org, a wiki project providing travelers with information on local cuisine in cities around the world. He said he was working on an article about Lemon Tarts and came across the recipe you have posted for the same dish.
“I think your recipe would be a great addition to the MyCityCuisine wiki resource, so I highly recommend that you have it added to the Featured Recipe section on the Lemon Viennese Tarts page.” Woohoo! I’m really pumped over this! Thank you for allowing me to share my excitement with you. Here is the link for the page.

I spotted this recipe for Strawberry Souffés with Fresh Berries on my friend Liz’s blog a couple of weeks ago (That Skinny Chick can Bake) and I knew I had to try it. It fit right into my healthy cooking and I was having a gluten intolerant friend over for brunch…perfect timing!

But I first made the ‘test’ dessert for my nephew Brian (Ceement Boy) who was over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was a great success and I’ll be making it again on the weekend for my gluten intolerant friend.

Now you must be wondering why I have lovingly named my nephew Ceement Boy? I’m more than certain he is wondering too, as he is one of my lurkers (one who reads the blog but never comments; that’s OK, I’m just pleased that he cares enough to read about my mundane life, thanks Brian, I mean Ceement Boy).

The story goes like this: JT and I are NYC; it’s late one evening and I’m blogging, updating or just responding to comments on my blog using my iPhone 3Gs. Ding Ding, my phone pings. Hmmm, there is a text. It’s from Brian. That’s a bit odd in in itself as we are not texting buddies. He says “Be on vacation!!! Don’t blog!” Many of you will be able to relate to this, but blogging is part of you. You just can’t stop! You are either in the act of blogging, or preparing to blog or thinking about a story to blog about. It’s innate. So Brian, it just isn’t possible, sorry. (As I’m typing this, I wonder where all the words went before blogging?)

Upon our return from the Big Apple, we had Brian over for dinner; the night before we were coordinating our timing and JT gets a text from Brian referring to me as Princess Blogalot. Hmmmm. Did someone have a few cocktails? In retaliation (yes, I can be vindictive that way) I thought I would come up with a nick-name for Brian. Brian is a structural engineer specializing in cement, hence Ceement Boy. I like to draw out the Ceeee really long. Country and western-style ;-). Somehow I don’t even mind Princess Blogalot. Not too much, anyway.

Since we’re all trying to watch our waistlines, this dessert was a perfect intensely flavoured ending to our delicious meal. Our in-season Ontario strawberries really popped with flavour and the aged balsamic reduction drizzled over top added that wonderful tartness that the strawberries craved. The toasted slivered almonds were for texture as the egg white souffé is light, airy, full of flavour and needed a bit of crunch.

I snapped this pic with my crappy iPhone 3Gs. When will they release the 5???? I can’t wait forever.

Please head over to Liz’s blog to see her recipe. I have altered the recipe to our taste and requirements.

Strawberry Soufflés with Fresh Berries

Serves 4, 200 mL ramekins

Ingredients:

  • Butter, to grease ramekins
  • 340g fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier, optional
  • 4 tbsp toasted almonds slices
  • 4 tbsp balsamic reduction for garnish

Directions:

  1. Butter four 200 mL ramekins and dust with sugar. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  2. Purée half the berries with 2 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste), lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour into small sauce pan and cook on medium till puree boils and thickens. Cool completely. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  3. Slice remaining berries and add 1 tablespoon of sugar (or to taste) and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Mix and taste for sweetness. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  4. Just before serving, pre heat oven to 400°F.
  5. Beat egg whites till foamy. Slowly add in remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and whip till stiff peaks form. Slowly fold purée into egg whites, one third at a time. Divide between the four ramekins and smooth tops with offset spatula. Run finger around perimeter of each soufflé to make a slight indentation in soufflé. Slide tray of ramekins into oven and bake 14-17 minutes or till soufflés are puffed and golden.
  6. Serve immediately garnished with sliced berries, toasted almonds and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Another dark and dreary photo with my iPhone 3Gs.

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My friend Kelly, from Inspired Edibles (an Ontario girl!) inspired me with her wonderful Flourless Salmon Dill Bites for breakfast this past Good Friday morning; thank you Kelly.

I had a bit of the smoked salmon mousse left over from the appi’s I put together on Thursday for cocktails and instead of tossing it, I used it as a base for this tasty egg dish. Kelly, I hope you don’t mind, but I changed the recipe a bit as JT and I don’t need the calories that your growing boys need.

Beating the egg whites adds just the fluffiness you need for a filling breakfast while watching your girlish figure!

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Egg Puffs

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup non fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp smoked salmon mousse (you don’t need to add this if you don’t have it, I was just using it up)
  • 2 slices of smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp dill
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add whole egg, yogurt, smoked salmon mousse, smoked salmon, onion and dill into a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
  3. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form but not dry. Fold into egg mixture.
  4. Prepare 200 mL ramekins with non-stick spray and pour the egg mixture evenly into each ramekin, leaving about 2 cm of space at the top (you need this because they puff up like a souflée) Bake for about 20-25 minutes, top should be golden and the insides should test clean with a cake tester. Serve immediately (or after photo) on a bed of baby arugula dressed with a drizzle of balsamic and garnished with something red (tomatoes would have been perfect, but I didn’t have any so I used diced red peppers)

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The sun is setting earlier and the temperatures are not reaching the highs that July gifted us. A tree in my neighbourhood has already begun to change colour which means the evening temperatures are dipping lower and lower. The Canadian National Exhibition has been in full swing for a 9 days already. And with that Autumn is fast approaching on Summer’s heals. Sadness at the loss of yet another year pokes at my heart, but as soon as my feet grow accustomed to wearing full shoes and socks, I become excited to dive into my fall wardrobe and of course, my wonderful collection of boots. BBQs, chilled soups and refreshing salads are soon to be replaced by warmer, heartier foods and with that, the house becomes alive again with the wonderful aromas of autumn foods. But I digress. I still have time for one more salad!

A couple of bloggers I follow were recently on the East Coast enjoying the plentiful sea foods offered out there, so I began hankering for a simple shrimp salad. Of course, I’ll make enough to have for lunch at work tomorrow.  And as usual, I’ll take my inspiration from Epicurious, but adding my own twist.

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined, tail off (I hate messing with my fingers when there is a dressing or sauce all over them)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-4tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado diced (lightly sprinkled with the lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown)
  • 1/2 cup mini tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • Handful of baby arugula, per person

Directions:

  1. Combine mayonnaise and seasonings in large bowl, add shrimp and avocado and gently mix well to coat.
  2. Create a bed of arugula and add the vegetables in the centre. Spoon on top the shrimp avocado mix. Garnish with green onions and chopped scapes.

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