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Archive for the ‘salad’ Category

As our temperatures here in Toronto start to dip and dive again in the face of Autumn I keep thinking about all the gorgeous food I cooked up over the Summer and never got around to sharing with you.  So, over the next little while, you’ll have to bear with me as I turn an uncharacteristically unseasonable page back to the hotter months and post some of the recipes and cook ups that got lost in the comings and goings of all the travelling I did over that time.  Hopefully I’ll manage to get up to speed with the backlog before the glories of autumn are over with, or I’ll find myself a season behind when spring finally comes around and I’m still stuffing butternuts and mulling apple cider.

A lot of the time in Summer the last thing you want to be doing is keeping an eye on a slow cooking stew or spending hours in the hot, sticky kitchen.  Summer over here at Lick Your Own Bowl is often a casual, quickly thrown together meal of the season’s freshest produce, herbs from the garden and a long, candle-lit evening sitting outside in the garden with the scent of flowers and barbecue in the air.  There’s not much too say about this Summer-Coloured meal.  A quick sticks pasta, with sauteed onions and garlic, sundried tomato, fresh Ontario corn and peas, lightly cooked and deglazed with a dollop of white wine and then plucked up with a bit of white tuna and washed down with an ice cold lager and a side of fresh salad is just heavenly.  Then sit back and listen to the crickets and the laughter of neighbourhood kids still playing street hockey in the road.

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Red Snapper with Lemongrass and Sweet Chili

This is one of my favourite dishes to make. It’s really easy, involves little actual cooking and is great tasting and healthy too. Also, it’s an impressive and exotic looking dish for a dinner party, if your friends don’t mind the whole fish. Actually, most of the flavour of a fish is in the bones and the skin, so cooking a whole fish makes much more sense. Just mind the bones while eating! I’ve adapted it from a recipe from Australian Women’s Weekly (some of my favourite books are from this range) for an outdoor barbecue dish, where the fish is grilled on a barbecue in banana leaves. A bit difficult to get in Toronto! I added a sliced banana underneath the fish and it absorbs all the flavours and sticky sweet spices from the fish to make a very complimentary chutney. Serve it with a sticky rice such as Thai, to sop up all the juices, a fresh salad (recipe underneath the fish) and edamame, boiled for a few minutes in salty water.

Red Snapper with Lemongrass and Sweet Chili 2

Red Snapper with Lemongrass and Sweet Chili

1 large, whole Red Snapper, descaled and cleaned by your fishmonger
1 big fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced (to make about ⅓ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh grated gingerRed Snapper with Lemongrass and Sweet Chili in parcel
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 banana, quartered length-ways
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro
– wash the snapper under cold water and pat dry with paper towel

– in a bowl, mix garlic, ginger, lime, soy, chili, fish sauce and sesame oil.

– lay out a piece of baking parchment with a equal size piece of foil on top, large enough to wrap the fish

– lay 3 quarters of the banana in the middle of the foil.

– put the fish on top of the banana, put the remaining quarter banana inside the fish cavity

– cut three slashes into each side of the fish. Top with ginger/lemongrass, rubbing some mixture into each cut. Sprinkle with Cilantro

– wrap the fish in the foil and then in the parchment, tie with string to secure. Rest in Fridge for 20 mins.

– pre-heat oven to 420˚F. Bake fish for 20 – 30 mins until done.

Carrot and Cabbage Salad

3 small carrots, julienned
3 0r 4 outer leaves from a fresh, green cabbage, finely sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
Cilantro,chopped to make ⅓ cup
Basil, chopped to make ⅓ cup
Parsley, chopped to make ⅓ cup

dressing:

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

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Tomato, herb and anchovy salad

I mentioned these in the previous post, but I really must go on about them for a bit, they’re just that good. I stood in front of Mr P one evening, two slices of different tomatoes in my hands. “Taste this”, I said, popping the generic, store bought, red slice in his open mouth. His eyes never left the screen of his computer as he chewed and swallowed. “Now taste this”, and I popped a slice of the other into his mouth. he stopped typing, and looked up at me. “Wow, what a difference!” he said and the promptly went back to what he was doing. Oh, sigh. At least it caused a smile. I suppose when you’re used to your partner cooking up all sorts of new and exciting things, a mere slice of tomato can only muster so much enthusiasm. I went back to my chopping board and savoured the rest of the left over slices from our dinner on me own, in absolute glee at what I’d found. The tomato was called a Peach Delight; a small, firm tomato coloured a soft, almost pastel yellow with a slight rosy blush, it’s skin velvety and soft, not shiny and taut. These little beauties deserve to be eaten as close to their natural state as possible, the flavour sweet and slightly tart, with a mellow after taste and no acidic bite. I know how much my Dad loves tomatoes, and how he sometimes pays the price after ingesting too much of their acid. These he could eat all day! Today they made a wonderful lunch with some parsley, spring onion, sweet corn, anchovy and some strong white cheese.

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salad with hers and fava beens

When it’s hot outside, all I seem to want for lunch is something light and fresh and low in energy-producing carbohydrates. But why stick with ye olde faithful lettuce tomato and Cucumber, not that there’s anything wrong with that, when you can have a mixture of fresh herbs, like Cilantro, fennel, basil, parsley, tarragon, chives and thyme with baby root veg like beets and carrots. Add some freshly steamed fava beans, sprinkle with sesame seeds and, Voila!

ps/ the dressing is a mixtrue of a crushed clove of garlic, a Tbsp on tarragon infused Dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon and a good measure of extra virgin olive oil.

Herb Salad with Sesame Seeds and Tarragon Dijon Dressing 2

Herb Salad with Sesame Seeds and Tarragon Dijon Dressing 3

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Thai Summer Salad

We were blessed, this weekend, with extraordinarily good weather on our portage trip. Which meant a clear, deep, warm blue sky bereft of clouds, temperatures perfect for swimming and lounging on rocks like lizards and no need to ever use the gas burners to cook our food on. All meals were prepared over an open wood fire from start to sweet, gooey, smorsey end. Now, usually after 4 or so days in the bush eating what you managed to drag with you leaves one craving some or other comfort food from home, not to mention ones own mattress and a hot soapy bath. On this trip, however, the wonder-woman in charge managed to organise meals of such fabulous diversity and succulence that ne’er a soul hankered after anything for their belly that wasn’t somehow already there. No dehydrated-rehydrated pea passed the lips. No thirst went without quenching by beer or wine or cold, fresh water. And, thanks to our (rather belated) discovery of a little thing called the Thermarest, no ache graced a bone in my back through the nights. All said and done, it was a trip which bordered on the sublime and trembled dangerously near perfection.

And after a long, long weekend of, in one team member’s words, Ghetto Gourmet, what better way to get back on the bright side of health and digestion than a salad made from the sweetest, most succulent of Summer’s wares? After a trip to the farmer’s market on our return, I picked up a selection of crisp, freshly picked goods for a dinner filled with all the flavours of a gorgeous season. Due to the abundance of things like garlic, Shitake mushrooms and Cilantro (coriander leaf) I opted for a somewhat Thai inspired arrangement.

 

summer bounty

Thai Summer Salad with Sweet Corn and Watermelon Beetroot

for the topping
¼ cup pine-nuts, toasted

1Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil (or other veg oil)
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
about 1 cup Shitake mushrooms, sliced

for the saladwatermelon beetroot
small bunch of lettuce, torn
1 big handful fresh basil leaves, torn
1 big bunch Cilantro leaves, torn
a dozen or so golden cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed
2 new carrots, julienned
2 watermelon beetroot, scrubbed and thinly sliced
⅓ garden cucumber, peeled and julienned
2 spring onions, thickly sliced

for the dressinglettuce
1½ Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small chili, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime

– combine all dressing ingredients and leave to infuse.
This dressing is particularly good made a day ahead.

– keep toasted pine-nuts to one side

– in a skillet, heat oils. saute onions until they just start to brown slightly. Add mushrooms and cook on a medium heat until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat.

– when cool, add pine-nuts and mix. Set aside.

– combine all salad ingredients, top with mushroom pine-nut mix and dress only when ready to serve.

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Chicken with Tarragon and Walnuts

For some reason, I never really discovered tarragon before.  My Mom had a bunch of different herbs growing the in kitchen garden: sage and chives and mint and thyme and rosemary, but never tarragon.  And yet, after doing some reading, it turns out to be a quintessential herb, an old and trusted favourite in many a European and particularly French recipe.  I thought I should give it a go.  After all, there’s French blood in me, isn’t there?

*Note: I had a problem with my oven while cooking the meal, the darn thing decided to go on strike, and so ended up having to have the thing on Grill with a loose sheaf of foil over the meat to protect it from burning.  So I can’t really say for sure just how long you aught to cook this dish, though my gut feeling is for 20 mins at 400˚F and  another 20 – 30 at 350˚F.  Just check it persistantly to make sure you’re not over cooking drying out the flesh.

 

Chicken with Tarragon and Walnuts 2

Chicken with Tarragon and Walnut Crust
with Baby Beet and Herb Salad

for the Chicken:
2 large chicken breasts on the bone, with skin
½ cup loosely packed tarragon leaves
¼ cup thyme leaves
5 cloves garlic
1 shallot
½ cup shelled walnut halves
Fleur de sel
Olive oil
Peel of half a lemon, ½ cut into strips and ½ zested
2 Potatoes
butter (about 1 Tbsp)

for the salad:
3 or 4 baby beets, peeled and finely grated
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
⅓ cup fresh basil, chopped
⅓ cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped Chives
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Walnut oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

– If you have the time, prepare the chicken a few hours beforehand so the flavours develop well.
run the tarragon, thyme, garlic, shallot and walnuts in a processor until fine.  Add a pinch of Fleur de sel and mix.

– rinse the chicken and pat dry with some paper towel.  With the skin side up, loosen the skin from the flesh: if you break a small hole in the membrane between the two you should  be able to lift the skin to form a pocket.

– take small amounts of the herb and nut mix at a time and push it under the skin, using about half the mixture.  Put a small dollop of butter and a strip of lemon peel under the skin as well and refrigerate, covered, for as long as you can.

– when ready to cook, remove chicken from fridge, rub with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

– slice the potatoes thinly and arrange on the bottom of a buttered ovenproof dish.  Sprinkle with lemon zest.

– Place chicken, skin side up, on top of the potatoes.  Pack the rest of the herb and nut mix on top.  Bake, see note above*

– For the salad, mix all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for a while, while the chicken cooks.

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Cucumber soup

It’s been hot and muggy in Toronto. A thick, heated, soggy air permeates the city, getting into every nook, cranny and corridor. Something cool and refreshing was in order for dinner, and when I pulled out what was in the fridge it was obvious there was only one thing to make. Chilled cucumber soup. About a year ago, when we first moved to Toronto, Mr P and I had dinner at a fellow expat’s house and she served cucumber soup. New to the idea, I was eager to try a bit and ended up going back for seconds and having to restrain myself, for the manners’ sake, from having thirds and fourths and ruining my appetite for the main meal, a cedar barbequed salmon which smelled divine. Needless to say I was in raptures over the soup, making a mental note to find a recipe and remembering always how it cooled all our temperaments on that hot and sticky Saturday evening.

This one I made using fresh mint and fennel with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cucumber Soupfennel.jpg

1 English Cucumber
½ cup soy milk (or regular if you prefer)
½ cup plain yoghurt
juice of ½ lemon
few sprigs fresh fennel
few sprigs fresh mint
salt and pepper
2 ice cubes

– in a blender, blend cucumber, milk, yoghurt and lemon.
Season gently with salt and pepper.

– when smooth, add herbs and blend for a few seconds.
With motor running, add ice cubes one at a time.

-serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready. Garnish with a tablespoon of yoghurt.

cucumber-mash.jpg

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