Food: One-Pan Salmon with potatoes and romaine

Dinner Simplified

This easy salmon recipe gives you the main course and sides all at once, so fewer pots and pans to clean later.  Plus I happened to have tiny potatoes and romaine to use up in my fridge. And sometimes all you need are just three ingredients. 

Makes 4 servings

1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes (or other bite-sized)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Four 6-ounce salmon fillets

1 tablespoon melted butter

¼ teaspoon paprika

2 hearts romaine lettuce

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; arrange in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

3. Roast the potatoes in the oven until slightly golden and fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the potatoes roast, cut 2 romaine hearts in half and rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Brush the salmon fillets with the melted butter. Season each fillet with paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Arrange the romaine and salmon on the baking sheet with the potatoes. Continue roasting for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the lettuce is tender and the fish is cooked through.

7. To serve, divide the potatoes, romaine and salmon among four plates.

For when you fancy nothing fancy; just good!

Afternoon Delight: High on Tea

High TEA,

as opposed to having an ordinary cup of tea and a biscuit, is a welcome time-out to a dreary afternoon. Complete with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets, let’s just say it’s a bit more indulgent.

I’ve always taken advantage of any good recommended ‘high-tea’ in any city I’ve been to that happens to have one.  Some of my past favorites have been at the Empress hotel in Victoria, B.C., Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aries, Claridge’s in London and the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal.

In Vancouver we have the Secret Garden Tea Company. I like that it’s a family run business with a story. Owned and run by Sisters-in-law Kathy and Erin Wyder, who were inspired by their two remarkable grandmothers (Gammy Bentall + Nan McBeath). I recently ordered several dozen sandwiches for a gathering that did not disappoint.  But I think the best thing is to actually go there in person to take in the ambiance.

A brief history – the British tradition began in mid 1700’s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o’clock. Initially, it was a meal for the working man, taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus the term ‘high’. Tea. Me; I’ll take mine sitting down.

From the website:

In a world of franchising and fleeting trends, the values at the core of The Secret Garden Tea Company are timeless: Stay small. Be good at what you do. If it sounds like The Secret Garden is a bit of a throwback to simpler times, it is.

Maybe that’s why, since it’s inception in 1995, people come from miles around to the cozy little teahouse. Certainly for the delicious food and soothing tea, but also for the good feeling they take home with them. A feeling that comes from relaxing instead of rushing, and from reflecting on all the sweet little good things of life. Like family. Like friends.

And a lovely cup of tea.

Kathy and Erin Wyder.

The Secret Garden Tea Company

Location: Kerrisdale Village

2138 West 40th Ave.
Vancouver BC
V6M 1W5

(604) 261-3070

 

Moroccan Muhammara

This is a delicious crowd pleasing recipe courtesy of my friend and neighbour Geoff.  He brought it over twice, and twice it was gobbled up in no time.

It sounds exotic and it tastes exotic but basically it translates to: red pepper and walnut spread.  This good-for-you recipe is also easy to make. Which in my estimation is always a plus.

What you need:

3 Roasted Red Peppers (from a jar or if you dare to, roast them yourself)

1 cup of walnuts (using chopped in bulk is fine)

2 slices of good quality whole wheat bread

1/2 tsp cumin

2 big cloves of garlic

2 Tbs Pomegranate molasses. (available from Persian Food stores or Middle Eastern markets).

Juice of 1 lemon (or more, to taste)

Salt + Pepper to taste

Directions:

Geoff cooks by trial and error so he recommends breaking the process down into parts to get the texture and taste you’re looking for.

Preheat the oven to 350, and toast the walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 10 mins or until they become fragrant.

Start by whizzing the peppers, garlic, cumin, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice in a food processor, then pour  (it will be pretty liquidy) into a separate bowl.

Then process the toasted walnuts until they’re almost like coarse breadcrumbs.

Take them out of the blender and reduce the bread to coarse breadcrumbs.

Gradually mix the whizzed pepper and crumbed bread into the walnuts checking the texture as you go.  You may want more or less breadcrumbs.  Keep blending until you have something like a smooth pâté.  If you try to do everything together, you’ll end up with that smooth pâté, or something more like a dip than a spread.  The processing can end up getting out of control very quickly….

Again, you can process part of the walnuts and part of the bread till they’re fine, then do the rest more coarsely if you like.  It’s an experiment every time!!!

At the end you go by taste and fold in more molasses and/or lemon juice if needed until you get it right – to your liking.

Serve with pita bread.

Trust me; you’ll like it!

 

Food: Flu Fighting Soup

Winter Veggie Soup for flu & cold seasonsoup1
I made a whole batch of this soup and ended up freezing most of it.  The name of this recipe was formerly called “anti-cancer” soup because of the goodness of all the wholesome ingredients but I changed the name to anti-flu soup.  In general, it’s just a great overall recipe that tastes really good. I just unfroze a container and added brown rice macaroni which made it a complete meal (especially for lunch).
Serves: 12-16 servings (almost feeds an army!)
Ingredients
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper, to preference
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or other dried herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley)
  • 12 cups (or 3 32-ounce cartons) of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (look for BPA-free cans)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup lentils (any kind will work; rinse first)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 cups frozen green peas
Instructions
  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. Season lightly with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to your preferred heat level), and Italian seasoning.
  3. Add chicken or vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (slight bubbling), stirring occasionally. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add all other vegetables except frozen peas (zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach) and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Stir in frozen peas and turn off heat (or turn to low), so they don’t overcook. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. If you like, serve with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and/or whole grain crackers or crusty bread.
Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To freeze: 
Fully cook and cool the soup. (Do not leave soup out on counter more than 2 hours.) Divide soup into freezer bags or containers and freeze.

To thaw and reheat: 
Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then reheat gently over low heat on the stove or in a crockpot. Another option is to put the frozen soup block over low to medium-low heat on the stove top or in a crock pot. Add about 1-2 cups of water or broth over the top. Gently warm over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy!

 

 

Healthy (no sugar) Zucchini/Carrot/Apple Bread

This fluffy moist zucchini bread recipe which I adapted by adding carrot & apple, is made healthier with whole grains, honey (or maple syrup) and coconut oil instead of butter. It is easily made vegan and/or gluten free (see notes). Recipe yields 1 large loaf or 3 mini loaves. A great breakfast bread or afternoon snack with tea.  Guests wanted more.

Photo: d. king

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup roughly chopped raw walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil*
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk of choice or water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + more to swirl on top
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups grated zucchini (you’ll need 1 small-to-medium zucchini, about 7 ounces—if your grated zucchini is very wet, squeeze out the excess moisture over the sink before stirring it into the batter). * I used a mix of zucchini, grated carrot and grated apple to make this recipe my own, and what I consider to taste even better.
  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour

    Photo: d. king

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup, and grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan to prevent the bread from sticking.
  2. Once the oven has finished preheating, pour the chopped nuts onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil and honey. Beat them with a whisk until they are combined. Add the eggs and beat well. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 20 seconds in the microwave.)
  4. Add the milk, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg, and whisk to blend. Switch to a big spoon and stir in the zucchini (and/or grated carrot and apple), then add the flour and stir just until combined. Some lumps are ok! Gently fold in the toasted nuts now.
  5. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with additional cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing it with a sharp, serrated knife.
  7. This bread is moist, so it will keep for just 2 to 3 days at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months or so. I like to slice the bread before freezing and defrost individual slices, either by lightly toasting them or defrosting them in the microwave. I dusted the tops with icing sugar (but you don’t need to – it just looks prettier).

A Note on Oils: I used unrefined coconut oil in this recipe.  Olive Oil will lend an herbal note to the bread.  Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, but the average vegetable/canola oil is highly processed, so better to use cold-pressed sunflower or grapeseed oil if you prefer that.

MAKE IT VEGAN: Use maple syrup instead of honey, replace the eggs with flax eggs and choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE: Choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
MAKE IT EGG FREE: Replace the eggs with flax eggs.
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: I haven’t tried myself, but I have heard from a reader that Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose gluten-free mix worked well here.
MAKE IT LOWER IN FAT: Replace the oil with applesauce if you’re following a low-fat diet.

I had all positive reviews for tasters on this one, so I’m going to make it again.  How about you?  Do you have a favorite loaf/bread  recipe?

 

Self Care: Dinner for One

I’m slowly getting back to some of the usual happy rituals that make my day complete.  One is the enjoyment of cooking dinner.

Broccolini with shaved Vermont cheddar, baby potatoes & wild sockeye salmon with salsa verde (Botanica recipe posted on October 17th – absolutely delicious).

Over dinner (many times accompanied by a glass of wine) along with pleasant music playing in the background, there is conversation. Which means normally there’s another person to converse with. Someone who can talk about pretty much…anything, which makes the ritual that more gratifying. Of course I talk to the dogs but it’s not the same.  They’re really not up on current affairs, however they’re very good listeners.

So it has taken me at least two months to get back into some kind of norm of cooking only for myself.  It’s not that I don’t have the inclination to invite someone else to join me, it’s just that I feel the time has come to look after me, in the same way I used to do for two. So I went grocery shopping and thoughtfully put together a proper dinner, taking time to do so, incorporating healthful ingredients. And I enjoyed every bite.  By myself.

I’m not gonna lie; I much prefer dinner for two. But there is something to having a routine even if it’s only meant for one. It brings meaning to everyday living.  And besides,  I enjoyed the company.  Maybe next time I’ll try taking myself out on a date!

But really; looking after ourselves is as important as looking after another. Even if it’s not as much fun.

How about you?  Do you take the time to make a nice meal just for yourself?

Wine + Dinner = Winner                                                                                                        (image: d. king)

 

Food: BOTANICA

A  healthful restaurant & market in L.A.

Botanica’s Salsa Verde  Photo: Atelier Doré.

The restaurant uses this recipe to spoon over cooked Japanese sweet potatoes (purple skinned with white flesh kind).  But you can use the salsa for multiple uses; fish especially. Spoon generously over the potatoes or fish.  Garnish with cilantro. Yum!

Salsa Verde

Makes about 1½ cups

1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (tender stems are okay, too!)
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (ditto)
2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup delicious olive oil
Sea salt

Place shallots and sherry vinegar in a medium jar, stir, and set aside to soak for 15 minutes. Drain the vinegar (we think this gives just the right amount of acidity) and reserve (in case you want to add it back in for more acidity), then add the rest of the ingredients to the jar and stir well. Add a nice pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. Stir again and taste: You’re looking for a balance of acid, salinity, and herby freshness. If it tastes too harsh, add a few more splashes of olive oil. If you want it punchier, add a bit of the vinegar back in. It’ll keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks, but the chances of it lasting that long are slim!

LA is a veritable Eden, and the vegetables and fruits that we’re able to buy locally never fail to amaze us. What better way to eat than to celebrate what’s beneath our noses? If we can inspire someone to get excited about produce, or to shop at the farmers’ market — that feels influential.

Taken from Atelier Doré, an integrated creative studio + website @ http://www.atelierdore.com/

Food: high end fine dining

These tree three restaurants will take your dining experience to a brand new level.  If you’re a foodie and they’re not already on your bucket list, maybe they should be! When you’re ready to take a break from the same old, same old…keep these places in mind.

SONEVA KIRI

IN A TREE: KOH KOOD, THAILAND

Anyone with a fear of heights need not apply to the Soneva Kiri, where diners ascend 16 feet into the branches via a “treepod,” a booth-and-table structure that’s hoisted up to overlook the Koh Kood rainforest. And please be sure to tip your zip-lining waiters (even if a water refill takes a bit longer than usual)… Seriously, they actually fly down to your table via cable and harness to deliver your meal. Now that’s service.

IN THE EIFFEL TOWER: PARIS, FRANCE

Although tourists flock to this famous landmark, only Le Jules Verne reservation holders get a chance to wine and dine from inside the tower. Although it’s not too difficult to get a reservation, we hear the prime window-adjacent tables can be a tough score, so you may want to book a few weeks in advance and make a note of where you’d like to sit. Boasting an esteemed Michelin star, it certainly beats the half-eaten baguette you’ve been toting around all day.

IN THE MOUNTAINS: SCHILTHORN, SWITZERLAND

Take in the sweeping 360-degree views of the Bernese Alps as you dine at Piz Gloria. Yep, not only is it literally on top of a mountain summit, but it spins around as you eat steak and goulash soup that’ll warm you right up. Don’t worry, no climbing required. Just hop on board the longest aerial cable car ride in the Alps to the tippy top, where you’ll immediately need a martini—shaken, not stirred. After all, this was a shooting location for the 1969 James Bond flick, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Talk about elevated dining and service! 

Source: Roberta Fiorito – Wow Travel

Food: Homemade Herb Pesto

When it comes to pasta sauces I cannot think of any I do not enjoy, although pesto is not at the top of my list of favorites. But that was before this.Recently I made an absolutely delicious pesto by accident (kind of) out of herbs I just wanted to use up and the freshest and/or best ingredients possible.  The next time I make pesto I’ll be looking for this exact combo.

Basically I used  three large handfuls of a fresh mix of :

Watercress, Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley and Sage.  Seems like a lot (or an odd lot) as you can just use basil, but this combo really rocked.

Two large garlic cloves (market fresh russion river garlic)

1/3 cup walnuts

½ cup parmesan cheese (I buy a block of Parmissimo Parmigiano Reggiano and roughly grate it myself)

½ cup organic cold-pressed olive oil

Fresh squeezed  lemon (to taste)

Hot pepper flakes (to taste)

s+p

In a food processor chop the garlic with the herbs.  Then add the walnuts and parmesan.  Lastly while blade is still running, slowly add the olive oil until everything is finely mixed together (I prefer pesto slightly chunky but oily).  Then you can squeeze some lemon, add pepper flakes and salt/*pepper to taste.

Make your favorite pasta according to directions, drain and put back into pot the amount you need.  Then add pesto sauce and turn on element to gently heat the sauce with the pasta.

I’ve been making (but not from scratch obviously) my own country pepper spice mix using Tellicherry black peppercorns, chopped onion, garlic, chilli pepper + italian seasoning.  It’s fabulous!

I should really bottle and sell this but it’s too much work!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Mood Board #9

Recent Random Photos

Say Goodbye to:

The Party’s Over!   The very last sunny summer day – Friday, September 15th

A corner of my deck

My summer blue polish

 

 

 

 

 

Say Hello to:

Fall Clothing

Outside Heaters if you’re lucky (at Lift, Vancouver)

Hearty Dishes (this is Tavola on Robson, Vancouver).  Whole Seabass & Gnocchi

Different Desserts

Maybe some dancing here and there