Sides



I’ve been trying to be better about using my leftovers.  I don’t know about you, but I can easily make a meal, have enough leftover for a few meals…but I get bored.  I have a hard time eating oh let’s say turkey three days in a row.  I mean there is only so many turkey sandwiches you can eat right?

Knowing that I should finish up the turkey my mom sent back with me when I last visited her.  I thought I would serve it up in a pretty different way (for me any ways).  I’ve never made taquitos before.  A favourite neighbourhood restaurant here in Vancouver is Las Margaritas. We love their taquitos.  So into the kitchen, rummaging into the cupboards and fridge looking to see what was on hand. It’s getting sparse since I am getting ready to head to Mexico for two weeks, so I wanted to make due with what I had…and I have to say, the result was tasty tasty!  A yummy dinner with a side of guacamole and some salad.

Ingredients:

2 -3 cups turkey shredded, obviously you could substitute with chicken
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp grated cheddar cheese
2-3 pinches Mexican chili powder
1 pinch cumin
salt and pepper
6 medium sized corn tortillas

vegetable or canola oil for frying (!)
6 toothpicks or small skewers.

Directions:

  1. Mix turkey, water, cheese, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper together.
  2. Take 6 corn tortillas and wrap them in a tea towel, place in microwave for 45 seconds to soften them for rolling.  (NB if you don’t do this step, like I forgot to do the first time, you crack your tortillas and they don’t stay rolled up.)
  3. Place2-3 tablespoons of the mixture and place about an inch or two from the edge in a straight line.
  4. Roll into the shape of a cigar, secure into place with a tooth pick.
  5. In a large dutch oven, cover the bottom of the pot with about 1/2 inch canola oil – I couldn’t find my thermometer, so I heated for about 5 minutes on medium-high/high and then put a little piece of tortilla in the hot oil to see at what point it would be ready. To know, it will have browned.
  6. With metal tongs, place 3 tortillas across the bottom of the pan, rotate/roll them over, allowing 2 minutes per side.  Watch it carefully you don’t want the oil to smoke and burn it.
  7. Remove taquitos after 4-6 minutes to a plate covered with a paper towel or two.
  8. Season taquito with a little chili powder and salt (optional, but if you choose to do this be sure to do it when fresh out of the oil)
  9. Allow oil to return to temperature, and repeat process with remaining 3 taquitos.
  10. Serve with fresh guacamole.

Serves 2-3.

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A friend’s fiancé is a chef.  He is also one of the most humble chefs I have ever met.  At gatherings he always brings something delicious, and yet every time he is able to compliment others and their creations.  I admire that.

One of the things he has served a few times is a warm spinach or arugula salad – and they are always delicious.  Most recently he served one with pancetta and bocconcini.   I wasn’t really paying attention to what was in it, just that it was super tasty and a little different: rich and yet still a great depth to it.  This salad is inspired from his…certainly not a duplication, I could never do it justice.  So thank you to him, and as always I will always look forward to a lovely meal with them.

spinach salad

Ingredients:

4 slices pancetta

1/2 small red onion, sliced paper thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half, or even quartered if large enough
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup bocconcini, chopped
4-6 cups clean and dried spinach and arugula leaves

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, fry up prosciutto, once browned, remove and cool on a paper towel – they will crisp up.
  2. Add one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to skillet, once warmed add onions, cook until softened.
  3. Add finely chopped garlic and tomatoes – cook up for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add balsamic and sugar – allow to thicken.
  5. Stir in mustard.
  6. Add remaining olive oil, emulsify (whisk)
  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the spinach, arugula, crumbled up prosciutto and chopped bocconcini.
  8. Once the dressing has thickened, you may want to season with fresh cracked pepper.
  9. Dress the spinach and bocconcini with the hot dressing.  Mix until leaves begin to wilt.

Serves 4 – a great side!


With the crazy winter weather Vancouver has experienced in the last few weeks, specifically this past holiday week. Tasterboy (hereafter known as TB) and I thought we should have a back up holiday plan if we were marooned at home, unable to visit family and friends. I opted for a Cornish Game Hen – perfectly sized for a dinner for two.

This was moist, and delicious – though enjoyed in the days after Christmas. I particularly enjoyed the stuffing. Again the photo is brutal, but we haven’t recovered the camera yet from my mom’s house.

cornish-game-hen

Ingredients:

1 Cornish Game Hen
2 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1/3 cup uncooked brown and wild rice
2/3 cup water
1 slice bacon
3 breakfast sausages cooked and diced up
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 apple cut in half, diced
4 mushrooms diced up
1 slice 12 grain bread diced
1/4 cup chicken or turkey broth
3/4 Tbsp ground mustard
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

3 large carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 medium squash, cubed
1 leek, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine water and rice in a small saucepan, bring to a quick boil over high heat. Cover with lid and reduce to low. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, until rice is tender.
  3. Sautee onion in a pan, with a quick spray of Pam.
  4. Once onions start to sweat, add bacon, mushrooms, garlic and apple.
  5. Allow to cook out and caramelize.
  6. Add ground mustard, maple syrup, 2 Tbsp tap water and reduce.
  7. Remove mixture from heat.
  8. In a bowl combine cooked rice, chopped up bread, diced up sausage, and broth.
  9. Prepare poultry: remove innards, rinse and pat dry. Pull skin from bird, spread butter and season with salt and pepper.
  10. In a small pan, (I used an 8 inch square cake pan), add carrots, squash, leek, 0live oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  11. Stuff bird with prepared stuffing – place bird on top of vegetables.
  12. In a small bowl, mix maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Pour over bird.
  13. Cover with tin foil, roast for 1 hour, remove foil after one hour and continue to roast for another 30 minutes or so. Test bird for doneness – 165°F.
  14. Serve with roasted vegetables, stuffing and rice (if making more than recipe called for, I did – two birds, one stone)
  15. Optional step – I made gravy with the drippings from the Hen and vegetables – sweet and savoury!

As part of our fall feast on Saturday night I made mushroom risotto. Two winters ago I was a great lover of risotto, easily I made it once a week. I think Pete was a little risotto’ed out! However when we saw the lovely lobster and oyster mushrooms at the farmer’s market, I knew that it would be a risotto night! This is a basic risotto, nothing to spectacular about it, but so yummy and filling. Topped with asiago cheese instead of parmigiano reggiano, it is a slightly different flavour. My favourite thing about risotto is that you can be super creative with it. So get out there and get mix match and enjoy a hearty dinner!



Ingredients:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp
3 cups assorted mushrooms roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup cooking sherry
4 cups veggie stock (approx)
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
chopped garlic chives to top

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, heat up veggie stock.
  2. Heat half of the olive oil and butter in a non-stick skillet. Add chopped mushrooms and allow to cook the water out.
  3. With a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms from the pan. Drain the “juices” to a bowl on the side.
  4. Heat up remainder of olive oil and butter, over med heat sautee onions until translucent – 8-10 minutes. Add garlic.
  5. Just before garlic and onion brown, add rice. Toast for about 90 seconds.
  6. Add cooking sherry. Stir and allow to be absorbed.
  7. Add mushroom juices that you had reserved, stir and allow to cook out for about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add 1/3 cup stock, stir, allow to absorb, stir occasionally – I don’t find you need to stir risotto constantly if you are using a non-stick pan. Repeat this step until the risotto is al dente.
  9. Remove from heat.
  10. Take almost all of the sauteed mushrooms (reserve enough to top the plated risotto) and add to the pan. Stir in the grated cheese (again reserving some for topping), stir and cover. Let sit for 3 minutes.
  11. Dish onto plates, top with reserved mushrooms, cheese and chives.
  12. Optional – drizzle with a little olive oil.
Serves 2

Do you ever have one of those nights when you just don’t know what to cook, and you stare into the fridge, the cupboard, the pantry…you sigh over and over again… just wanting to not deal with it, and have food magically appear? (I recognize the irony of a person with a food blog complaining about not knowing what to make.) Well a few weeks ago I was home alone and the idea of making a full meal just for me seemed ridiculous, but at the same time I couldn’t bring myself around to eating cereal. So I pulled out the supplies I had…and this was the result:

Ingredients:
1 cup barely
2 1/2 cups veggie stock
(you could use water, but I found this gave the barely nice flavouring…kind of like risotto!)
1/4 yellow onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1 green onion, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine barley and stock or water in a pot (if using water I would encourage you to add a little salt as you would when cooking pasta). Bring it to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to low, cover and allow to simmer for 35 minutes. Check for done-ness, it may need a few more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using one tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, fry up the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Once everything is softened, and the onions are translucent remove from heat, and allow to come to room temperature.
  3. Allow barely to cool. I found putting it on a plate and spreading it all out was a good method.
  4. Once everything is nice and cool, combine the sautéed veg, green onions, barley remaining olive oil, lemon juice and mix.
  5. Add crumbled feta – don’t over mix otherwise the feta will disintegrate.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with parsley as garnish.

These make a great snack, appy or side. I think they are best to make when your other mealtime tasks are minimal. I know that deep frying is so bad for you, but everyone once in a while right? All good things in moderation!

Ingredients
2-3 small yams
3 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
6 cups water

3/4 cup mayo
2 cloves roasted garlic
juice from one lemon
2-4 chipotle peppers

Directions:

  1. Bring water a boil
  2. Heat oil to about 375 degree F
  3. Peal, wash and slice up yams
  4. Boil yams for about 1-2 minutes
  5. Strain yams, do not rinse, and lay out on towel to absorb extra moisture
  6. Carefully fry a handful of yams for about 2 minutes, remove and let drain on paper towel
  7. Fry remainder of yams
  8. Fry up yams in similar fashion a second time, this time let batches fry for about 4-5 min until golden brown
  9. Drain yams on a paper towel
  10. In a bowl, add yams and toss with salt and Cajun spice.

To make the chipotle mayo, in a food processor combine mayo, roasted garlic, lemon juice and chipotle (to taste).

Enjoy!


I love anything spicy. And these are one of my favourites! I also love green beans (especially in a caesar!). Anyhow, these are an easy side for chicken and rice, or aside steak and garlic mashed potatoes. The only thing that takes any time is boiling the water to blanch the beans.

This recipe is all about “dashes” because I never seem to actually measure anything, most of it is to taste…so you can personalize all you want, but all the ingredients go so well together, that I imagine you couldn’t go wrong.

If you aren’t a green bean fan, but love edamame, it makes a great snack! (I will post a pic of those one night when we have a late night craving).


Ingredients
2 handfuls of tipped green beans
pinch of salt
6 cups boiling water

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp hot sambal sauce (hot chili Asian sauce)
2 Tbsp hoision sauce
3-4 dashes soy sauce
2 dashes terriyaki sauce
1-2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame seeds


Directions:

  1. Boil water in pot over high heat
  2. Add pinch of salt and beans – remove after 3 minutes
  3. At this point you should add the strained green beans to an ice bath to stop the cooking, however I never am that organized and just plop them in a strainer and run the cold water through them, turning them over with my hands for a few minutes until cool.
  4. In a large frying pan, or a wok, heat sesame oil
  5. Add garlic, alow to soften, do not brown it!
  6. Add strained green beans – allow to “fry” for about 20 seconds, stirring once or twice.
  7. Add sambal, hoision, terryaki and soy sauces. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes, the sauces will thicken and coat the beans
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle [toasted] sesame seeds over top.

ENJOY!