Food: One Pot Veggie + Spaghetti Squash Skillet

Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Skillet

Photo: d. king

Last night was the first time I made this dish. I’ve been in the mood to try satisfying meatless meals and something easy to prepare & fairly quick to cook. It’s a keeper. This one is filled with goodness like mushrooms, chickpeas and marinara sauce. Plus it’s only 143 calories per serving for those of you watching your weight. Why Spaghetti squash? (see bottom for some of the health benefits). This squash possesses an uncanny resemblance to spaghetti strands when cooked, and for this reason is known as vegetable spaghetti which makes the dish when combined with the rest, taste somewhat like a vegetarian lasagna. You can add other veggies like zucchini, red bell peppers or broccoli. It was delicious especially with the added sriracha hot sauce (I always zip it up with a little heat on the side).

Serves: Makes 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 lb.) spaghetti squash
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ tsp ground oregano
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
  • 1 ¾ cups (no salt added) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese (animal rennet-free for vegetarian)

Instructions

  1. Using a large, sharp knife, pierce the spaghetti squash in several pieces.
  2. Place the spaghetti squash in a glass baking dish and cook in the microwave on high for about 15 minutes, turning the squash halfway through cooking.
  3. Before handling, let the squash stand for 10 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and fibers. Using a fork, twist out strands of the spaghetti squash flesh and place in a large bowl.
  4. Preheat the broiler.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet, set over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic, oregano, pepper and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  8. Stir in the reserved spaghetti squash, marinara sauce, chickpeas and parsley.
  9. Spread the spaghetti squash mixture into an even layer in the skillet. Top with the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 142.9 cal | Fat: 4.1g | Saturated fat: 1.0g | Carbohydrates: 22.1g | Sugar: 6.7g | Sodium: 182.6mg | Fiber: 5.5g | Protein: 7.5g | Cholesterol: 3.3mg

Notes

Weight Watchers Points: 3 (SmartPoints), 4 (Points+), 2 (Old Points)

Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is also rich in the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, which promote optimal cellular function. Folate is also found in this bright-colored vegetable. Folate supports the formation and development of new cells and may help prevent birth defects, making this squash an ideal food for pregnant women. This nutrient can also help filter out homocysteine from your blood and promote cardiovascular health.

Potassium, a mineral that maintains proper muscle and nerve function, is also present in spaghetti squash, making it helpful for people with high blood pressure. Manganese, a mineral that assists in bone and tissue heath, metabolism, calcium absorption, and nerve function, is another key component. Spaghetti squash also contains the essential minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Another reason to consume spaghetti squash is for its omega-3 and omega-6 fats content. Omega-3 fats are associated with the prevention of inflammation, which may cause heart disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. On the other hand, omega-6 fats are linked to proper brain function. It is critical to maintain the ideal 1:1 ratio of these fats.

Not bad for starters eh?

Above taken from Dr. Mercola Website

Food: Sustainable Sablefish in Asian Marinade

Sablefish in this marinade

is truly one of my all time favourite dishes.

With its rich and buttery flavour, Sablefish is considered a delicacy by chefs across the country.  This recipe takes barely no time to prepare, ready in minutes and then disappears almost instantly.

Sablefish has a high oil content which allows it to be cooked at high temperatures. It also makes this fish an ideal source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which many health experts suggest reduces the risk of heart disease.  AND the taste is unbeatable.

You can alter this made up recipe depending on how many people you’re serving.  This is for two:

In a small dish mix equal amounts (1 tsp. each) of sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce, fresh grated ginger & sake (the alcohol burns off when cooking but you can omit this).  To the bowl add a little less amount of chili oil + yuzu hot sauce (a vinegar/citrus japanese sauce).  Mix together.  Pour over two equal size pieces of Sablefish and let sit in fridge for several hours.

When ready to *cook, pat the fish dry and bake in pyrex plate (350F) until done – about 10 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out easily. Top with sesame seeds (optional; I used “everything but the bagel” seasoning which also has sea salt, garlic + onion and gives fish an extra tasty crunch).  This one is available at Trader Joe’s.

With the added sesame seeds. Sides: buttered acorn squash, steamed local asparagus + vegetable casserole.

*This time I did not bake the fish.  I used my (almost untouched) George Foreman Grill on highest heat sprayed with a little coconut oil (and did not pat the fish too dry so it would not stick).  Left for a couple minutes, it was seared perfectly on both sides and came out intact and it tasted amazing.  Just in case you happen to have forgotten about the GFG, it can still work magic (and not just for grilled cheese sandwiches).

Sometimes we play with these things for a little while, put them away and then forget about them.  Now I’m re-imagining useful ways to use my older cookware like the grill, the slow cooker and clay pot.  It’s fun.

Photos + Recipe: d. king

 

 

Food: Trail Tradition

Where do you go for a good old spaghetti and meatballs these days?  This was my favourite meal as a toddler and it’s still one of my all-time faves. When I was one year old, to my moms dismay I spilled a whole plate of spaghetti over my head on purpose. She was mortified but I was all smiles.  True story (like why would I lie about that?). I was just showing appreciation. And might I add it’s a surefire way to grab attention. So where do you go??

If you live in Vancouver, many hours out of your way to The Colander restaurant in Trail, B.C.  I’ve heard about the place for years but never experienced it until last week. The Colander has been owned by the LaRose family with a history dating back to their opening in 1972.  With an open, casual atmosphere that lends itself to large parties along with intimate dining experiences the main attraction is  plain old good Italian fare. And that’s good enough for me!

GREAT FOOD FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE

The Colander Special remains their most popular meal. It’s what I ordered although their menu has expanded over the years to include things like baked ziti, ribs, lasagna, etc.  My intimate party ordered ribs with chicken along with spaghetti & meatballs and the meal came with simple salad and rolls.

A brief history:

Back in the days when immigrants flooded over from the “old country” to work at Cominco and the C.P.R., the men lived in boarding houses. The wives and children remained in Italy until the men could afford a home and enough money to bring their families here. In the meantime, the boarding houses did a booming business serving all-you-could-eat dinners at low prices.  Meals are still served in the same manner as when they were first introduced back in the fifties. Despite numerous requests from me alone, the famous pasta sauce recipe, which has been carefully developed over the years, to this day, has remained a Colander secret.

The Colander Restaurant has been chosen by Beautiful BC magazine as one of the top 24 restaurants to dine in BC.

After dinner my friend ran into an Italian run store naturally called Formosa Foods to buy me her favourite bread; a homemade sourdough with dates and walnuts to take home.  It was outstanding.  fyi: I only have two pieces left. Another good reason to go back to Trail.

Enough said!

Photos: d. king

Pretty Pink Rosé – a summer essential

From pale pink to dusty rose, rosé wine can be a perfect patio summer sipper. 

With warmer weather and summer just around the corner it’s nice to have a rosé on hand for unexpected guests. There are so many varieties to choose from and so many wineries now offering rosé which makes it difficult to choose.  So why not go to the source.  Here is a little bit about rosé which can be anything but blasé from where it all began – Provence, France.

About Wines of Provence:  

Provence is the oldest French wine region and Rosé is the oldest known wine. The region has a rich Rosé tradition (over 2600 years long), and winemakers today are the beneficiaries of the region’s collective knowledge and time-honoured techniques.

Since Rosé is a delicate wine and one of the most difficult to produce with success, these long-established traditions remain entirely relevant. The area’s deep-rooted Rosé culture goes a long way toward explaining why the world’s best Rosés still come from Provence.

A Rosé wine can be made from red or white grape varietals, but most commonly red. Traditionally, the skins of a red grape have brief contact (2-20 hours) with the grape juice but not enough to impart the colour or tannins that would qualify it as a red wine. Provence Rosés are fresh, delicious and affordable.  Find out more at  www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/

Do you have a favourite?

 

Food + Wine: Chef Meets BC Grape

One of my favourite food/wine events is taking place this Thursday in Vancouver. Highlighting all things grown, crushed, raised and produced in British Columbia. Taste creations prepared by top chefs from Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, all perfectly paired with BC VQA wines to enhance the flavours of each dish and wine.

Tell me more…

It’s only the largest tasting of BC VQA wines in Western Canada.
Sip from 350+ BC wines and savour small plates from 15 top chefs.
Visit Chef Ned Bell’s Ocean Wise Bubbles & Seafood station.

One ticket. One amazing evening!

Thursday, May 25
7:00 pm
Vancouver Convention Centre East
999 Canada Place

Link for participating wineries:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/wineries-vancouver/

Link for participating restaurants and chefs:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/restaurants-vancouver/

Purchase tickets ($90.00 per person) here:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/tickets/

Meet you there!

 

Recipe of the Week – Tuscan White Bean Dip

Party Pleaser

whitebeandip

Photo: d. king

Here’s a foolproof simple, healthy happy hour dip.  It’s a creamier and delicious alternative to hummus.

  • 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • roughly 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle over top
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Course Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (you can also use oregano – fresh or dried)
  • a little sprinkle of cayenne
  • *Zaatar (optional but worth it if you can find it)

Tip: if you want a thicker consistency you can always add some Tahini (sesame seed paste used for making hummus) or less olive oil.  Play around with it.  It will be great either way.

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Garnish with rosemary and/or other spice.

**ZAATAR (an exotic middle eastern spice mix made of sumac (from a flowering plant), thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, course salt. FYI: also great sprinkled over plain olive oil & balsamic for dipping.

Serve with pita, tortilla chips or fresh crusty french bread.

Sidenote: I have this thing for lazy susans.  My fridge is full of them – it makes life easier if you have lots of jars, condiments + such.  Now I bought a large round bamboo serving dish which I place overtop one of my lazy susans to place a variety of stuff on when company comes over.  People don’t have to reach over you to get another slice of cheese or whatever…they can just rotate the tray towards them.  I think it’s a better serving alternative.

Ocean Fresh: Spot Prawn Festival returns to Fishermen’s Wharf, Vancouver

Love Seafood?  Love Prawns?  Join me!

  Fresh off the Boat…

[Vancouver, BC] The Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia celebrates 11 years of the Spot Prawn Festival at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf on Saturday May 13 from 11am-3pm. This event is generously supported by long-standing sponsor the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association.

With the return of this free, family-friendly festival is also the return of the ticketed Spot Prawn Boil. The boil sells out every year and tickets are going fast. Get yours here.

Each Spot Prawn Boil ticket grants a wristband for a specific time slot, for access to a plate of three succulent BC spot prawns plus a selection of side dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients from Windset FarmsGrain, and freshly baked Terra Breads. Wristbands also include access to the drink tent for free samples from R&B Brewing , Evolve Cellars and Mogiana Coffee.

Just announced: these BC chefs will take the demo stage at the festival.

11:00 am – Dino Renaerts,  Bon Vivant Group

11:30 am – Taryn Wa, Savoury Chef Catering

12:00 pm – Andrew Shepherd, Vancouver Island Salt Co.

12:30 pm – Quang Dang, West Restaurant

01:00 pm – Matt Horn, Cowichan Pasta

01:30 pm – Isabel Chung,  Fairmont Whistler

02:00 pm – Ross Derrick, The Table at Codfathers and Jon Crofts, Codfathers Market

02:30 pm – Shelome Bouvette, Chicha Restaurant

About the Chefs’ Table Society

Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia is a non-profit society comprised of BC’s leading chefs and culinary professionals. It is a chef-administered, province-wide collaborative dedicated to creating a foundation for the exchange of information between culinary professionals. The Society supports innovative and sustainable programs that will inspire, educate and nurture BC chefs, producers and the local food industry. The Chefs’ Table Society secures apprenticeships for and bestows bursaries to emerging local chefs and also finances culinary education programs in BC schools. For more information or to become a member visit chefstablesociety.com.

ALL ABOUT Spot Prawns (taken from the website):

Wild BC spot prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour, which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the carapace.

BC spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp found on the west coast of Canada. They vary greatly in size, with some larger females exceeding 23 cm in total length. Prawns are hermaphrodites: for the first two years of their lives they are males, and then they change to females. Typically, spot prawns live a total of four years.

In BC, approximately 2,450 metric tonnes are harvested annually, with about 65% of the harvest coming from the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

BC spot prawns are available live during the harvest season, which usually starts in May and lasts anywhere from six to eight weeks. Prawn fishermen spread baited traps along the rocky ocean floor at depths ranging from 40 to 100 metres. This method has minimal impact on ocean habitat and very low levels of by catch of other species.

BC spot prawns are very popular in Japan and the rest of Asia, with over 90% of BC’s commercial catch consumed there. Most of the prawns are frozen at sea by fishermen, and then packed and exported across the Pacific. The remaining few, however, are available to be enjoyed fresh in local BC restaurants and kitchens during the fishing season! Frozen spot prawns are also available in Canada year round.

Spot prawn stocks are carefully and sustainably managed to ensure that they remain available to enjoy for many years to come, including:

  1. Limiting the number of vessels that can commercially harvest spot prawns
  2. Limiting the number of traps that can be used
  3. Returning females with eggs live to the ocean

Interesting; No?

For more information please visit: https://spotprawnfestival.com/

Recipe of the Week: Seafood in Coconut Curry Broth

Last week I made this delicious flavorful dish for an important celebration

my 25 year wedding anniversary! And I might add that the time has flown by.

Who says you have to go out? An evening spent at home with good food, good company, good wine, conversation, music and candlelight cannot be beat by going out to a restaurant.  Add to that a glass or two of bubbly to start…a perfect evening!

We were craving seafood and I hadn’t made this in a very long time.  It’s quite simple as everything is made in one pot.  You can alter the seafood depending on what you like as it’s adaptable as long as you’re using a variety of fresh seafood.  I have to admit the mussels make a huge difference for added flavour & appearance.  Originally I followed a popular recipe from an Indo-American Bistro, but as per usual I changed it and did it my way and it turned out perfect.

1 Tbsp. butter

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 green onions, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

1-2 tsp. Madras curry powder

salt + pepper to taste

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup fish stock  (you can make from scratch by boiling bones in water or you can buy from your local seafood store).  I bought frozen halibut stock which dissolves quite easily).

Splash of dry white wine or more (or none)

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Saffron threads

For Seafood: I used scallops, halibut, prawns & mussels

½  lb. sea scallops (if large, cut in half)

1 lb. white fish cut into chunks (halibut or cod)

1 ¼  lb. mussels (scrubbed + debearded)

8 large prawns (shelled + deveined)

Recipe serves 4 people

In a large saucepan, melt butter and sauté garlic, shallot and green onion for a few minutes over a low heat.   Add the olive oil and turn to medium high heat.  add tomato and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until soft.

Stir in curry powder, salt and pepper.

Add coconut milk, stock and cilantro.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Add scallops, fish, mussels and prawns all together.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Discard any shellfish that have not opened.

Best served in large soup bowls with naan bread for dipping.  YUM!

Enjoy!

Photos: d. king

Food:  plated pretty   

It’s a feast for the eyesmaybe more so than the palate.  Not something to be wolfed down. But she’s a pretty good looking egg when she gets properly plated.

Free-range eggs on an Isabelle Poupinel plate at the Hotel Thoumieux.                           Credit: Alban Couturier

Sometimes a so-so dish can get an upgrade by an artful placement on a pretty plate.  You get to first admire what you are about to digest and by doing so and taking a bit more time, everything seemingly tastes better too.  At least in my opinion.  If you don’t believe me check this out:

The Chef & The Potter

At his eponymous restaurant inside Hotel Thoumieux near the Eiffel Tower, chef Sylvestre Wahid has earned two Michelin stars for his artful food — served on equally imaginative dishes. “The plate is like a canvas on which the dish and its colors are realized,” he says. The 300 handmade pieces in his collection were designed in collaboration with French potter Isabelle Poupinel. “I love the handcrafted aspect of her creations; the dimensions, the natural, mineral aspects to them,” Wahid says. “This parallelism between the content and the containers is really an interesting way to create harmony.” Poupinel, who has created ceramics by hand, on a wheel, for nine years, agrees — but claims that collaborating with chefs isn’t always so easy. “At first, he wanted the raw plates without enamel. I said, ‘no way!’ With sauce, or whatever, they’d get ruined. Sometimes, you have to control what chefs want in order to protect the work. They can be crazy!” she says with a laugh.

A Recipe From Paris’s Famous Poilâne Bakery

The following is brought to you (via me) by My Little Paris, a website that I’ve lately become addicted to for fun French musings on life, cooking and je ne sais quoi else.bakery1

3,451 miles. That’s how far Apollonia Poilâne used to go to get her bread every week.

Okay—technically, it was FedEx delivering the loaf from the Poilâne bakery in Paris to Apollonia’s mailbox in the US. But still. The woman clearly takes her bread seriously. She had to: when her parents died in a helicopter crash just months before she left France for college, 18-year-old Apollonia spent four years running the entire bakery from—no kidding—her Harvard dorm room. The following recipe is not for bread (it’s impossible to recreate a Poilâne loaf at home, trust us). But it’s one of Apollonia’s personal favorites, and involves chocolate, crushed butter cookies, and salted butter. Kind of hard to complain.

(Tip: they’re best made with Poilâne’s punition biscuits (which you can order here), but any old butter cookie will do.)
In Paris? Stop by Poilâne’s flagship bakery at 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi for breakfast (or lunch, or both). Not in Paris and desperate for a loaf? FedEx yourself Poilâne’s famous 4.5lb sourdough here.