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Chilled Sesame Tahini Soba Bowl

15 Jul

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You guys. I am so very excited to share this recipe with you (!!).

I had a very ho-hum week in the kitchen. Some recipes I tried fell disappointingly flat.

Obviously, I want to share only my favourites. As a blogger, this can be a frustrating process when trying to come up with fresh content!

And then- Hallelujah!- I whipped up this dish and I knew I had to share. The flavour was out of this world.

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These cold soba noodles are basically a vehicle for this awesome sauce (NOT to be confused with “awesomesauce”- cringe) which called for tahini and a shocking amount of sesame oil.

I’ve always thought sesame oil was to be used rather sparingly, but here it totally works.

Colour me surprised!

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This can be consumed hot (loved it), cold (also loved it) as a side dish (yum) or as a meal (did that!)

Try it out and tell me what you think! ( Based on this recipe from foodnetwork.com)

Cold Sesame Tahini Soba Bowl

20 minutes, serves 4

– 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
-2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
-1 tablespoon molasses
-3 tablespoons sesame oil
-3 tablespoons tahini
-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-3 cloves garlic, minced
– pinch or two of hot red chilli flakes
-1/2 fresh red bell pepper, sliced thinly
-1/2 cup peanuts
-1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
-1/2 cup chopped spring onion
-fresh cilantro
-wedge of fresh lime
-1 package soba noodles

1) In a small saucepan, bring soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic to a boil. Turn heat to low and stir in molasses and return to simmer until reduced about 1/3.
2) Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add sesame oil, tahini and sprinkle of chilli flakes. Whisk to combine. Add salt if desired.
3) In large pot, bring water to boil and add noodles. Stir and watch until they soften (should take 3-5 minutes). Do not over cook!
4) Have ice bath ready. Drain noodles, plunge in ice bath and drain again. Rinse well with running water.
5) Combine noodles and sauce and rest of ingredients. Garnish and serve.

Feel free to add chicken or tofu to hearty it up. Although I found it rather filling on its own and the peanuts added good protein.

I want to make more. Right now.

M

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Reminiscing: My version of Thai Pad See Ew

11 Apr

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I was craving Beef Bourguingnon, a cozy dish I’ve been intending to make since there was snow on the ground  (not that long ago, to be fair). I bought the beef, the mushrooms, the fresh rosemary, thyme, pearl onions, bacon and egg noodles. I cracked open my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and GASPED. To my horror, I discovered the dish takes upwards of four hours to complete masterfully. I just didn’t have that kind of time.

The thin, flat egg noodles stood on the counter, forlorn, calling my name. I wanted them.

Attempting a Plan B, I was reminded me of my favourite dish when I was in Thailand, Pad See Ew, which is a lot like pad thai but with thicker, flatter noodles and a saltier sauce. That dish is traditionally made with rice noodles, but the shape and texture is similar.

Bingo.

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I was inspired by this recipe by Rachel Cooks Thai, but I added to it.

Pad See Ew

  • 1/2 package of fresh wide, flat rice noodles (sen yai), (or egg noodles)
  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, shredded or minced finely
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, shredded finely
  • 3/4 of a red bell pepper, finely sliced
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, sliced thinly
  • 6 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 3 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Peanuts, roughly chopped for garnish
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Chili flakes (optional)
  • Sqeeze fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for frying)
  1. Prepare your sauce by mixing together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey and vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Chop peppers and mushrooms. Saute in hot wok with coconut oil until tender.
  3. Blanch noodles in boiling water until almost cooked.
  4. Over high heat, add garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant and almost browned. Add chicken and cook through.
  5. Push the chicken and veggies to the side of the wok and add the egg to a clear space. Scramble.
  6. Push the egg to the side and add the noodles and the sauce. Mix it all together and cook over high heat until most of the liquid is evaporated (about 5 minutes)
  7. Add the broccoli and spring onions and cook through.
  8. Serve immediately with garnishes!

This was so good, fast and fresh. It took about 25 minutes start to finish. I would recommend prepping as much as possible before heating up the wok- slice, dice and chop everything ahead of time for speedier results. A vegetarian version would be simple- swap out chicken for tofu.

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I’ve been such a bad blogger lately- I’m finishing school and starting a new job at the same time, and have sadly not had much time to cook. But I just wrote and submitted my last-ever essay this morning. My blog was the first thing I turned to! A good sign for things to come? ( Hope so)

M

P.s. memories of picnic spots past…sigh

thailand thailand 2

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghettini in White Wine Cream Sauce with Sausage, Capers and Garlic Confit

18 Dec

I made this recipe while half in the bag. It culminated after a spirited afternoon of listening to music and chatting with my love in the company of lots of wine and year end best-of lists. Miraculously, this dish emerged as an elegant meal that only added to our evening. It was rich and packed with flavour, perfect for soothing the transition into early winter darkness that is, frankly, super depressing.

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If you’ve never made garlic confit before, you probably should. It is super easy and can be added to almost any dish to add some finishing oomph. It is essentially whole cloves of garlic slow cooked in olive oil until soft. It’s a lot like roasted garlic, but the bonus is the by product garlic-infused olive oil that can (and should) be saved for future sauces and dressings. I die.
I made a batch before hand (which inspired this pasta dish now that I think about it ((foggy)). The most annoying part is peeling the cloves, but luckily the garlic I had comprised of those dreamy, huge, easy to peel bulbs which made my life a lot less tedious. Just peel garlic (don’t smash!) and submerge in good quality olive oil, over low heat simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half until very soft. Reserve the garlic and olive oil and use in future dishes (i.e everything).
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Spaghettini in White Wine Cream Sauce with Sausage, Capers and Garlic Confit 
  • 8 cloves garlic confit (or roasted garlic)
  • 1 fresh red pepper
  • 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or whatever you be drinking)
  • 3 Italian sausages
  • Pasta (about four servings)

(To Garnish)

  • Dried (or fresh) parsley
  • Red chili flakes
  • Fresh black pepper
  • Parmesan
  • Sea salt

Hmmm…let’s see if I remember this correctly now (I kid)

  1. Pre heat oven to 350-375 degrees. On baking sheet, place sliced red pepper and whole cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil and salt in the oven. Set timer for one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, place peeled garlic cloves in low simmering olive oil for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Your house will smell amazing.
  3. When veggies and garlic are almost done, in a  separate pan fry the  sausages in bite sized pieces. I removed them from their casing for a more rustic feel (about 10 minutes over medium heat).
  4. To begin the sauce, in a medium sized frying pan, over high heat reduce wine to about 1/3 of liquid (about 4 minutes). Add butter and stir.
  5. Add capers and cream to the sauce and stir. (Tip: some capers are extremely salty, you may want to rinse them first). Remove two cloves of cooked garlic from the oil and break into the sauce. They should be very soft. Mix.  Taste for salt and let simmer over low heat.
  6. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until desired level of done-ness (for me, about 6 minutes). Strain pasta and leave just a little bit of starchy water in the pot.
  7. Return pasta to pot with water and mix about 2/3 of the cream sauce into the pasta along with the sausage.
  8. Once plated, top with the peppers, tomatoes, three cloves of cooked garlic along with the remaining sauce.
  9. Garnish with spices and cheese.

I really liked how the peppers and tomatoes turned out. Super packed with flavour, and just a little bit charred. Yum.

Quick! Eat this now before all your January diets start! (Or just wait until March when winter becomes just too much to bear without food like this).

Tell me, what’s your favourite winter comfort food? Maybe I’ll feature it on the blog! 

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Spicy Fusilli Pomodoro with Bacon and Basil

16 Feb

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While craving bacon but having no eggs, I whipped this up for a Saturday lunch. It was a huge hit. Very flavourful, and so satisfying after a solid week of salad eating (see last post). I used gluten free rice pasta and omitted the cheese, but for all you sensible people reading, this would be magnifico topped with some fresh shavings of Parmesan.

So far the no dairy-sugar-gluten thing has been quite manageable, while cooking at home that is (don’t ask me about the wine and coffee). It just requires making simple substitutions. However, eating in restaurants is much more difficult, and working in one is even harder, especially with all the amazing Valentines Day desserts flying around.

Let’s just say that this dish made up for a weeks worth of discipline! Smoky, salty bacon, sweet caramelized onions, spicy tomato sauce and bright, fresh herbs. No one felt deprived.

Spicy Fusilli Pomodoro with Bacon and Basil

Serves 5-6

1 package gluten free brown rice fusilli
1 package organic bacon, chopped into small, bite sized pieces.
1 large onion
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh basil
1 carrot
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon hot red chilli flakes
Olive oil
Stevia (substituted for sugar)
Salt and pepper

This recipe requires juggling a few elements simultaneously. Start to finish it should take about 40 minutes.

1. In food processor, combine carrot, 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 of onion and parsley until very finely chopped. Add some olive oil while processing so it doesn’t all stick to the sides. Set aside.
2. Heat a regular sized pot to medium and add 3 cloves chopped garlic, cook until fragrant and add tomato paste and then crushed tomatoes. Season with salt, mix well and let simmer. (Some water might be necessary if the sauce is too thick)
3. In a larger pan, at medium high heat, cook chopped bacon along with second half of onion, also chopped. Cook until bacon has reduced and is almost crispy and onions are browned, about 20 minutes. Using a spoon, skim the bacon fat out of the pan as it accumulates.
4. Add pasta to pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, return to sauce and add stevia (or sugar) to balance acidity and finish with drizzle of quality olive oil and half of the fresh basil. Turn to low.
6. In a separate frying pan, sauté the onion-carrot- parsley mixture until soft. Once cooked, add tomato sauce along with two tablespoons of the pasta water and stir well.
7. Once pasta is almost done, drain and return to pot, along with the sauce. Mix well. The pasta should finish cooking in the sauce, for added flavour. Add the bacon and onion mixture to the pasta, add the chillis and the rest of the basil, roughly torn and incorporated throughout. Finish with black pepper and (optional) Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy with a nice glass of red, for me 😉

Back to the Kitchen-Avocado Pasta with Fresh Garden Herbs

8 Jul

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Cooking for one isn’t all that fun, hence the drop off in recipes that you may have noticed lately (sorry). It can be a lot of effort and mess when cereal or a smoothie would probably suffice, amiright? While Scott has been in Asia, I’ve been feeling less than inspired cooking wise, especially since I’m usually working during dinnertime hours. But today, a gorgeous and sunny Sunday that included a run in High Park followed by a terrific Ashtanga class left me feeling simultaneously famished and inspired.

I had a bag full of quickly ripening avocados on my hands, and wanted to try something other than a guilt-inducing solo guacamole binge. Besides, it is no secret that I love avocados. To me, avocados are one of nature’s greatest triumphs. So delicate, rich and subtle. Sometimes I find them just plain beautiful. Don’t these ones look perfect? And besides besides, my blog needed some love. Cooking for one? Pha! Cooking for all. (Sorry about that). 

The recipe was inspired by this one, from one of my new favourite food blogs A Cozy Kitchen, and also Pinterest, in which people are seemingly fascinated by all-things-avocado (as well as lots and lots of ways to use mason jars).  I added fresh broccoli into the mix, as well as some edamame for protein, and skipped the cheese in favour of nutritional yeast.So yes, this dish is perfect for vegans! I also used spiral Kamut pasta instead of linguine.

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Avocado Pasta with Fresh Garden Herbs

  • 1 and a half medium, ripe avocados
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • handful of almonds
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pasta of choice (about two cups)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup edamame (shelled)
  • some broccoli

1.Boil pasta in well salted water until al dente. During the last 3-4 minutes of cooking add broccoli and edameme into the boiling water with pasta.

2. Meanwhile, blend the basil, thyme, almonds, garlic, nutritional yeast and some olive oil into a paste (as smooth as possible).

3. Add the avocados and mustard to the pesto and blend well, adding a bit more olive oil. If too thick, add some water. Blend until smooth.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add lemon juice and stir well.

5. Drain pasta with veggies, and incorporate the sauce. Mix well. Sprinkle with more nutritional yeast, pepper and fresh herbs. Serve immediately!

This was incredibly fast and easy. If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, or are just plain skeptical, I encourage you to use Parmesan instead (actually, I encourage you to try it first before you knock it! But Parm would also be delicious) . Next time, if I wasn’t in a rush ( to relax in front of the T.V) I would roast the garlic first for added depth.

Added bonus: on a hot day this does not require standing guard over a hot stove (with the exception of the pasta-boiling part), but keep in mind that avocado turns brown after awhile, so this is best served immediately if you are concerned about things like presentation.

All in all, a great summery solo meal!

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