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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Feel-good Friday: impromptu dinners

HAVE YOU EVER

had a friend come over to your home with groceries & wine and make you a nice dinner from scratch? This happens vary rarely if never because I usually don’t like anyone else interfering in the kitchen aside from maybe chopping an onion for me….so it was a very welcome change.  To my credit I made an effort not to worry about which pot they used kitchen control freak that I am and was even nonchalant about a little spill here and there (meaning I did not jump up immediately to wipe it up) and didn’t even mind a bit of a mess.  It was all part of the experience.  What I learned was that it’s not only a nice change to shake up your routine once in a while but extremely pleasant to let someone take over and do something for you where you get to be the guest in your own home.  And what’s more is that I think I can get used to it…should anyone else feel like stepping in.  I highly recommend it.

Enjoy your weekend and the sunshinefeelgoodfriday4

 

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!