Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pan-Fried Squid & Shrimp with Chilli, Tomato and Fennel Salad

So, I went squid shopping today.  The guy at the fresh fish counter at Farm Boy told me that they no longer stocked fresh or frozen squid because it is not sustainable.  That was news to me.  I did a quick Google search, and it seems as though they are quite sustainable.  The lady at the fresh fish counter at Metro directed me to the freezer, and proudly pointed out this product.

Yes, it's a 5 lb block of frozen solid squid.  When I asked if they sold it in a smaller size, she said it was delivered that way and there would be no way to separate it without thawing, no.  The only other option was the ever popular frozen squid ring.

I still had a partial pack of these in my freezer, so I went home empty handed....well, except for a bag of fresh lemons.  You can never have enough fresh lemons!
464.  Pan-Fried Squid with Chilli and Tomato (Jamie's Food Tube)
I wanted to try this recipe because I love the fennel salads that I've made in the past.  I've used frozen squid rings in a few other recipes and they aren't that bad.  It's just a shame that they are the only option around here.  Not everyone wants to make fried calamari!  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  ;) 
There isn't a written recipe, as this is an outtake from Jamie's Italy, filmed in 2005.  I jotted some points down while watching, and winged it.  I decided to crack open this cool little JO spice collection I got for Christmas.
After my seafood was defrosted, I dried it on paper towels and seasoned it with salt, pepper and chile flakes.
For the salad, I used my new, colour-coded, super-sharp JO knives to thinly slice up a bulb of fennel and some ripe tomatoes.  I dressed it with white wine vinegar, EVOO, lemon zest, salt and fennel fronds.
I heated a frying pan, added olive oil, and quickly sautéed the seafood until just done.  Nothing worse than rubbery squid rings!

This was filling and tasty!  A quick and easy dinner to throw together.  I didn't measure anything.  I have lots of salad left over for lunches, because I ate all the seafood.  Oops.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Turkey-Flavoured Dog Cookies

This week I made a big batch of Jamie's Chile Con Turkey, with defrosted Thanksgiving leftovers. But as of today, I still had about 11 oz of turkey left to use, and it was about to expire. We're sick of turkey. I was faced with throwing it out....argh, not much I hate more than food waste!  And then I saw a Facebook post from Chef Dolce the pug, and I had an epiphany.

Why not make dog cookies?  I buy them almost every week, and the wheat free ones aren't cheap. I had everything I needed in the cupboard.  So I mixed up the dry ingredients (rice flour, oats, corn meal, baking powder) and put the turkey into the food processor for a sec. Then I added melted coconut oil and water to make a smooth paste.  I combined wet and dry ingredients and formed it into a dough by kneading for a minute.  Then I flattened it bit by bit with my hands. And used a small cookie cutter to create the "cookies"

You can see flecks of green, which is dried parsley from my garden. It's helpful for doggy breath.  These are some high quality treats!  My helpers were enthralled with the smell and waited patiently to clean up any crumbs that fell on the floor in the process.

They love them!  Even the fussy diva dog. They will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer.  I think it's a great idea to use leftover meat for dog treats. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I brought the last of the left overs for lunch today (sag aloo and store bought samosas) but I restocked my fridge on the weekend.  I want to make another vegan pumpkin pie with whipped coconut cream for a sweet treat in the evenings, and I bought a few cans of tuna on sale for lunches.  Maybe I'll also make a pot of Asian-themed noodle soup to go with the tuna sandwiches, or perhaps Jamie's healthy Lentil, Tomato & Spinach Soup.


I've got some ideas for dinners, again based around the veggies in my fridge.  I would have to source some fresh squid for the one, and that might not be easy.  Usually, all I can find is frozen squid rings.  I'm hopeful that Farm Boy might have better than that.  I love that store.  Great, in house chicken & turkey sausages that are worth every penny nickel, and a fresh fish counter that's pricey, but well stocked.  If that doesn't pan out, I can just substitute frozen shrimp or salmon.

Monday:  Roast Veg (Beets & Carrots) with Crunchy Garlic Chicken (since I never got around to it last week, as I made Hit 'n Run Tray-baked Chicken instead)
Tuesday:  Dueling Chiles!   Sweet Potato Veggie Chile for me, and another pot with left-over frozen Thanksgiving turkey and corn for the bean-hating kid
Wednesday:  left over chiles
Thursday:  Pan Fried Squid with Chile with Fennel & Tomato Salad
Friday:  Stir fry (shrimp or beef)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Salad for Breakfast!

This morning I was looking around for a new recipe for spinach.  I still had half a large container that was starting to go off.  I found one that wasn't typical breakfast food, but it sounded good!

463.  Giant Veg Rosti (Save With Jamie, page 50)

My kids like those frozen hash brown patties with their bacon & eggs.  This recipe is a healthier, vegetarian version of that, with greens as well!  Ok, so I don't typically eat salad for breakfast, but why not?  I'm always looking for savoury breakfast ideas.

The first step was grating potatoes and carrots. I used a clean tea towel because after sprinkling them with salt, you need to let them sit and then squeeze all the liquid out.  Then you combine them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in a tray in a 350F oven for about half an hour.  In another bowl, you combine your EVOO, lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper for the salad.  Blanch some frozen peas in salted, boiling water, throw them in the bowl, then top with baby spinach.

Last up, use the simmering water to poach your eggs.  I've decided that I'm only going to buy free-run eggs from now on, so I picked these up at the store yesterday.  However, after watching Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast on Channel 4OD, I realize that I shouldn't always look for large or x-large eggs.  I never thought about what happened to the smaller sizes, but apparently they often go to waste because the supermarkets won't stock them. They are very good quality, and often have double yolks because the hens laying them aren't quite into their cycle yet.  I'll have to keep my eye out at the farmer's market.
At the last second, I dressed my salad, and scattered it over the roasted veggies, topped with the eggs.  I had to skip the addition of feta cheese due to dietary restrictions.
I don't know what I was expecting, but oh my God!  This was amazing.  It tasted like seconds, and then thirds.  I made what Jamie advises is enough for two people (half the recipe) but I ate the whole thing.  I couldn't stop myself.  Oh well, I'm sure it wouldn't have kept well anyways, and the kid hates spinach.  ;)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jamie's Sag Aloo

My fridge is pretty bare tonight.  I wasn't sure I'd have the ingredients to make myself anything for dinner, except maybe a mac 'n vegan cheese.  However, I'd planned to have this earlier in the week, and I still had a large container of fresh spinach to use up, so I investigated.  I had everything I needed.  Yay!

462. My Sag Aloo (Save With Jamie, page 36)

Sobeys recipe

I've made saag aloo a few times before, based on a friend's recipe.  The first time I read through Jamie's recipe, I was confused.  How can you boil potatoes until they are crispy?  That makes no sense!  So I googled to see if anyone else had tried making it, and there were a few rave reviews.  I went back and read it through again.  Ah!  First, you make your curry sauce in the food processor.  You don't boil the potatoes in water, you boil them in the curry sauce and water. 

I combined cilantro stalks, Patak's curry paste, tomato paste & a bit of water (as a substitute for a fresh tomato) and an onion in the processor, and pureed until smooth.  This sauce went into a non-stick frying pan with a lug of olive oil for a few minutes, then I added four chopped potatoes, and enough water to just come about halfway up.  I seasoned, brought it to a boil, and covered the pan tightly with foil for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, I fried some cumin seeds, chopped garlic and red chile in a bit of olive oil, until golden & crispy.  This becomes a "temper" to sprinkle over the dish, for extra flavour. 

 I removed the foil from the potatoes, and let them simmer and reduce for another 15 minutes or so.  Then I added some fresh spinach to the pan, and stirred until it wilted down into the sauce.

I served my sag aloo on a bed of basmati rice, sprinkled with cilantro, alongside a battered piece of fish (cooked from frozen).  My presentation isn't very authentic, I know.  Usually it's served with yogurt, and Jamie serves it in lettuce leaves.   But you work with what you have!  This was a delicious meal, and very easy to prepare.  Quite different from any sag aloo I've had before.  The temper was a nice touch, for texture, but I didn't find that it was too spicy.  It was just right.
Cost-wise, this was cheap.  The large tub of spinach was on clearance for $1.29, and I only used half.  The potatoes & onion were left from Christmas.  The curry paste was in the fridge, already opened and needing to be used.  Same with the tomato paste.  Really, this helped me clean out my fridge!  Tomorrow is a market day, for sure.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Esther The Wonder Pig

Yes, it's Meal Planning Monday and I'll get to that, but first I have to tell you about Esther.  She's no normal pig - she lives inside a house in Georgetown, ON with her two dads, and likes to wear pink pajamas!  I've been following her escapades on Facebook & Twitter for a couple of months now, and she's really made an impact on me.  So much so that I felt a bit hypocritical for having a pork feast on Christmas Eve. 

Yesterday, I drove four hours in sleet, rain & snow.  I don't think I ever turned the windshield wipers off!  It was monotonous, so I had a lot of time to let my mind wander, and I came to a decision.  I've already given up beef & lamb for health reasons, so why the hell am I still eating pork?  It makes no sense.  I haven't had any since the New Year, so I've decided to make it my New Year's resolution to only eat fish & poultry, as well as free run eggs (but no dairy, of course). According to, that makes me a "pesco pollo ovo vegetarian".  I guess I've been called worse...

My meal plan this week is centred around the veggies in my crisper.  Most were purchased on clearance so I really need to get them cooked.  Here's what I hope to accomplish this week, with links to recipes:

Spinach & PotatoesSag Aloo for Meat Free Mondays
KaleRibollita will make great lunches for work
Beets & CarrotsRoast Veg can be served with Crunchy Garlic Chicken thighs
Peppers & BroccoliBeef & Vegetable Stir Fry for the kid, probably a shrimp and squid version for me!

Happy cooking!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Healthy New Year!

I invited the kids over the other day to help me eat up all the Christmas goodies.  We managed to finish everything except one pumpkin pie, and some shortbread.  Thankfully, those have milk ingredients so I won't be tempted to eat them.  I'm not one for big New Years resolutions, but I really need to get back to healthy eating.  My sugar addiction has been out of control for months, and my waistline is starting to reflect it.

I found a lot of great produce this week on clearance, so my crisper is stocked to the max!  I find that usually motivates me to eat healthier, because I hate waste.  Today, I made pumpkin rice laksa soup with a butternut squash (still one of my favourite things to eat) and pumpkin spice chia pudding with left over canned pumpkin.  Jamie posted about these veggie spring rolls the other day, and I thought they looked very colourful and healthy for the New Year.

463.  Vegan Summer Rolls (with a festive twist) recipe

I don't believe I've ever eaten kale in a salad before.  I sliced it up thinly (removing the stalks), matchsticked some carrots, soaked some rice vermicelli noodles, and threw everything together in a bowl.  I added a bit of minced ginger, some cilantro leaves, and a handful of beansprouts, and moistened it with a drizzle of olive oil.  Finally, I opened up a pomegranate, removed the seeds, and added them to the bowl.

The rice wrappers always give me fits, but I managed to be conservative with my filling, and wrap them more tightly this time than ever before.  I made six full rolls, but still had a good bowl of salad ingredients left over.  It's ok, I may wrap more another day, or just eat it with a fork.  :)

The dip was a simple mix of sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger and fresh red chili (optional).  These rolls were tasty and healthy all at the same time!  The pomegranate was a nice Christmassy touch.