Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fantastic Fish Tikka Curry

It's rare when I come across a recipe and already have every single ingredient on hand, with no need to make a run to the market or make any substitutions whatsoever.  However, it happened last night!  I got all four burners on the stove top going, as I was simultaneously making black currant jam.  I took advantage of the A/C because it was a killer hot night.  We had some loud, crashing thunderstorms overnight so it should hopefully cool off by tomorrow.

431. Fantastic Fish Tikka Curry (Save With Jamie, page 232) recipe

I decided to cut the quantities in half, so I would only end up with two portions instead of four.  I had a bag of mixed cauliflower & broccoli that I inherited from my mother's freezer.  My son only likes the broccoli, so I used that in a dish for him the other night, and put aside the rest for me.  I found a couple of cubes of Patak's curry paste in my freezer, so I grabbed those instead of opening a new jar.  I had a large bag of frozen tilapia from the grocery store, so I took out 3 filets and coated them in a mixture of curry paste and lemon juice.  I let them rest on a plate to defrost while I got all of my other ingredients out.

I started by chopping and dicing all my veggies - potato, onion, garlic, red chile, ginger, cilantro, and tomato.  I got a pot on the heat with a bit of olive oil, then added all the veg (except the tomato) and the remaining curry paste and let it soften for about 15 minutes.  Then, I added the tomato, a handful of red lentils and about a cup of water and brought it back to the boil.  This was supposed to simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes, so I busied myself with the jam for a while and eventually put a pot of basmati rice on to boil with a few whole cloves added for flavour.

Finally, I heated up a frying pan, and put my fish filets in to "dry" fry, meaning no oil added.  Still, the curry paste made them quite wet, but I left them alone until they got a bit charred and dried out, and then flipped them over briefly.  I served up the curry alongside the rice, topped with the fish, and drizzled everything with some zero fat plain yogurt.  I sprinkled with cilantro leaves and garnished with some lemon wedges for squeezing.

I was really impressed with the portions!  They were large, certainly very filling, but not too big so that I would have had to split them in half (which often happens).  The curry was spicy and delicious, and if I didn't know the cauliflower was frozen I never would have guessed.  Surprisingly, the potatoes didn't get mushy and held their shape quite well.  I liked all the textures and flavours, and of course the yogurt always gives it that little extra something, in my opinion.  This really is a potato & cauliflower curry, with some fish on the side, except that I mixed everything on my plate just eats better that way!

I was also impressed with how much food this makes for how little cost.  I mean, let's consider:

Cauliflower - $1.00 for this half bag (but free to me!)
Tilapia - $1.00 for this portion (the whole bag cost $10.00)
Potatoes - $0.25 (bought on reduced table)
Curry paste - $0.75 (1/6th of the original jar)
Onion - $0.25
Cilantro - $0.75 (bought fresh growing herb, planted it in the garden)
Lemon - $0.50
Tomato - $1.00 (can`t wait until my garden tomatoes finally ripen!)
The rest was really small quanitities, so all told maybe another $0.50.

Total:  $6.00 or $3.00 per portion

Monday, July 21, 2014

Berries & Bees

I can't believe it's Monday already and I haven't even posted a new recipe.  I guess that goes to show you how easy, well-loved dishes are more appealing in summertime.  I have quite a few recipes that I don't have to refer to any longer, but I also have a few new ones from Save With Jamie that I'd like to accomplish soon!

I planned to go berry picking this past weekend.  Black currants are in season and they won't last long.  I have a bush  in the yard but it's not producing yet.  I've had a few red raspberries, but the birds get to them sooner than I do.  Things got busy and I didn't get to the berry farm as early as I would have liked, so I ended up paying for pre-picked berries instead. Still delicious!   I picked the very first zucchini from my garden the other day - hallelujah!  I was beginning to think the bees weren't doing their job this year. 

Ok, let's see, what do I hope to make this week?  It will depend on my evening plans and how freaking hot it is out.  Tomorrow is supposed to have a humidex of 37 C.  Tonight, I plan to go swimming.  At least I got the A/C fixed today!

Lunch - Vietnamese-themed salad (grilled bok choy, mint, basil, cilantro, rice stick noodles, cashews, sweet chili sauce)
Dinner - Sausage Gnocchi

Lunch -  left over Vietnamese salad
Dinner - out for sushi

Lunch - left over sushi
Dinner - Giant Veg Rosti

Lunch - left over rosti
Dinner - Fish Tikka Curry

Lunch - Beet Salad
Dinner - left over fish tikka

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Morning Blues

It's a grey Monday here with a cold front coming in, so it's cloudy and drizzly for the most part.  I did some cooking yesterday, so I have plenty of left overs for quick meals, if needed, this week.  However, so far my calendar is wide open so we'll see how it goes.  Cool nights might mean I feel like cooking more.

I accidentally snapped this shot of my pug Piper begging for my dinner last night.  Ha ha!  She was under my plate and the iPhone camera captured her perfectly as I sat down.  No, she didn't get any, but I may have shared some watermelon later on, as a snack.  It was hot and we all needed to cool down!

Not too much of a weekly plan happening so far, but here goes nothing.  I have a lot of veggies that need to be eaten...potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, peas, bok choi, beets, carrots, broccoli & radishes.

Lunch - left over rainbow salad
Dinner - left over Thai mussels with soba noodles for me, homemade burgers for any hungry 20-somethings

Lunch - asparagus/pea/fava bean carbonara (something I threw together on the weekend)
Dinner - out for sushi (got a great Groupon)

Lunch - left over sushi
Dinner - Giant Veg Rosti for me, beef tacos for 20-somethings

Lunch - left over rainbow salad
Dinner - left overs Giant Veg Rosti & beef tacos

Lunch - beet salad with feta & toast
Dinner - baked salmon/sweet potato with sauteed bok choi

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grated Rainbow Salad & Sesame Feta Fritters

My mom took us out for dinner last night.  My daughter and I suggested a variety of different restaurants, but none of them were to her liking, so she opted for a "family" restaurant that she'd been to before.  I ordered pan-fried red snapper, which came with rice, baked potato, steamed vegetables, and a salad.  When the waitress put the salad down in front of me, I didn't laugh, but I wanted to.  It was exactly one of those "salads" that Jamie would throw into the scrap bucket to feed to his chickens.  Chopped iceburg lettuce with a wedge of under-ripe tomato on the side.  :p

I've been meaning to make this salad recipe for a while now.  I had all the ingredients kicking around, and it's killer hot out this evening, so I decided the time was right.

430.  Grated Rainbow Salad & Sesame Feta Fritters (Save With Jamie, page 24)

It probably took me longer to go through the cupboards and fridge and find everything I needed, than it did to actually put this together.  I finally found the whole wheat couscous in the corner of the top cabinet.  The beets I got on clearance at Farm Boy.  My garden beets are getting there, but they're not even big enough to call "baby beets" yet I don't think.

First up, I grated carrots, beets, cucumber and a bit of red onion, and sliced up a couple of pita breads to toast for crunch.  I boiled the kettle and combined the couscous with an equal amount of water, and covered it to steam.  I mixed up an egg, feta cheese & flour to make my fritters, which I portioned into 11 pieces and put in a hot pan of olive oil to brown.

I made a vinaigrette from red wine vinegar, olive oil & dried oregano.  I fluffed and seasoned my couscous, then added some chopped, fresh basil from the garden (not in the recipe).  I sprinkled the fritters with sesame seeds, then flipped them over, and finally drizzled them with honey.  I removed them to some paper towels to cool & drain, and then I layered up my plate.

There's not much boring about this salad.  A variety of flavours, colours and textures make for an interesting meal.  The fritters were the best part, I have to admit.  But the crunchy pita strips were also a great addition.  I did not combine the left overs because I would like to be able to take them to work and have the same crunchy textures throughout the week!
This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up at She Eats!

Thai Mussels

I googled "Jamie Oliver Thai Mussels" because I had it in my head that I'd seen a recipe recently.....I came up with a number of references to a "famous" Jamie Oliver recipe but it took me a while to find it in one of his earliest cookbooks.

429.  Wok-Cooked Fragrant Mussels (The Naked Chef Takes Off, page 154)

You can't get cheaper seafood than mussels.  They've become one of my favourite ingredients to cook with, especially when I get them on sale.  After I found this recipe I went back to the store for fresh aromatics, then chopped everything up to create this quick, flavourful lunch.

I didn't actually cook my mussels in a wok, but instead used a large pot.  After washing and inspecting them, I poured them into a pre-heated pot with a lug of olive oil and a splash of sesame oil, followed closely by finely sliced garlic, ginger, scallions, red chile, lemongrass and cilantro.  I stirred everything well and put a lid on for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.  Once all the mussels were open, I added some coconut milk, freshly squeezed lime juice, salt & pepper. I brought this back to the boil and then removed the pot from the heat.

Jamie suggests that this be served over plain boiled or steamed rice.  Sadly, I discovered I was out of Basmati rice (my favourite), but instead I soaked some rice noodles until soft, then covered them in mussels and broth.  I decided it would be easier to eat if I spent a few minutes shucking my mussels before digging in, and boy, I was not disappointed.  This is spicy and fragrant and delicious.  Not for the faint of heart, or those who don't like strong packs a punch!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Smokin' Chicken Chowder

Last night I was supposed to eat left overs, if I followed my weekly meal plan.  I did have 3 left over corn on the cob, but not much else.  I snacked on some banana bread while I weighed my options.  Hmmm, there is always chicken or turkey stock in the freezer, and usually cooked chicken or turkey as well.  I dug both of these out and decided on this quick soup!

428.  Smokin' Chicken Chowder (Save With Jamie, page 88)

This recipe is meant to repurpose your chicken carcass and left overs, and utilize frozen corn.  I kind of turned it upside down with my left overs, but what the hell?  Waste not, want not. 

I chopped an onion, potato & carrot, removed the corn kernels from the cobs.  I diced up a couple of pieces of smoked bacon.  The bacon went into a pot with a bit of olive oil to render the fat out, while I defrosted my frozen stock & chicken.  I removed the crispy bacon (reserved for later use) and added the veggies to the pot to soften.  I picked some parsley from the garden and added the chopped stalks, too.

When everything was soft, I added the corn, the chopped up chicken, and the stock.  I was a bit short on stock, and it was unsalted, so I added a bit more boiling water and an organic veggie stock cube, for flavour.  I remember, a long time ago, my grandmother told me that my chicken soup tasted like dish water.  LOL  We can't have that!  I added most of the parsley leaves at this point too, trying to disguise them as best I could for the fussy kid.

I let the soup simmer for a few minute, then blitzed it briefly with a hand blender, leaving most of it chunky.  I added the remains of a carton of half-and-half, seasoned with pepper, and served it in bowls, sprinkled with bacon and the rest of the parsley leaves.  Jamie suggests adding crackers, and since I had a pack of Jacob's cream crackers kicking around (how British!) I did just that.

The crackers make it.  They really do.  My son didn't believe me at first, but had to agree after the fact.  He called his dinner "lovely" and "very nice".  High praise indeed!  An easy and quick way to repurpose left overs.  Gotta love it!  The cost of this dish is really negligible. 

This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up at She Eats!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fava Bean and Bacon Salad with Pea, Parmesan & Mint Dressing

I finally got around to making this salad last night.  My fava beans are just about done, I think.  I didn't plant enough of them.  Next year I need to plant four times the amount.  I forgot that you lose most of them when you shell them (and then remove the skin after boiling).  I have plenty of seed left.

427. Broad Bean and Crispy Pancetta Salad with a Pea, Pecorino and Mint Dressing (Jamie's Kitchen, page 42) recipe

I was feeling a bit under the weather so wanted something pretty light.  I had some imported US corn on the cob (bad foodie) and decided to boil it up and eat it with this plate of side salad.  I divided the recipe by four so I could just make one portion, but ended up with twice as much "dressing" as I needed, so I put the rest in the fridge for another day.

Not much to this recipe, your beans, boil them (without salt), skin them.  Bash up your raw, shelled peas in the pestle & mortar with some fresh mint and grated parmesan cheese.  Add olive oil and lemon juice to create a dressing.  Scatter your beans over a plate, dress, sprinkle with bacon, toasted almonds and a few mint leaves.  I went very, very light on the oil so mine was more like a chunky pesto, and I piled it in the middle.

This made a nice, light dinner for me, but it would also be great as a side dish for a BBQ!
This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up at She Eats!