Thursday, August 29, 2013

Warm it up - you'll love it.

I love food. Who doesn't? I love everything about it - love looking at it, smelling it, cooking it, eating it... just pure love.

When I look at cookbooks or cooking magazines or items on a menu, or dishes on tv - I am always thinking about how I can make it my own. Non-stop. I love it.

The other day my friend Tanya, was telling me about a dish that she had at Nourish. It was eggs benedict on yams, with kale, eggs and an almond hollandaise sauce. While she was describing the dish so deliciously, all I was thinking was 'challenge accepted'. Please don't tell Tanya this - I don't want her to think that I wasn't listening. I was. Oh I was.

So, challenge accepted - I had my bestie, Tracy, over for dinner and I tried to make my own version. We really liked how it turned out - and gobbled it all up.

Warm Summer Salad

For the salad:
1 large yam - diced
2 bell peppers - diced
1 large bunch of kale - chop it up into thin strips

For the dressing:
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove - grated
Kosher salt and pepper

Poached eggs - check out how to do a perfect poached egg - HERE

In a large skillet, with a drizzle of olive oil, cook the diced yams. Add a seasoning of kosher salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until they start to get soft. Add in the diced peppers for the last couple of minutes. Remove the yams and peppers from the skillet and place them in a bowl.

In the same skillet, add the kale with another small drizzle of olive oil. Saute for just a couple of minutes - the kale will start to slightly wilt, give it a nice little seasoning of kosher salt. Remove from the skillet and toss in the same bowl with the yam and peppers.

For the dressing:

In a double boiler - add all of the ingredients and heat over low heat. Just enough to become silky and warm.  Pour over the kale and yams and gently toss.

Plate the salad and top with a poached egg.

The warm kale with bites of the yams and sweet peppers is divine. And then... oh my, and then when you break into the warm poached egg and the yolk drains over the salad - heaven.

I think that it's so fabulous to heat up salad ingredients - it gives them another layer of flavour - and brings the normal to a whole new level.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kale, kale, KALE!!!!

This little bundle of LOVE, got me a great cookbook for my birthday. We have a plan that the next time we get together, we will make something from my cookbook - and the one that I gave her for Christmas. We just have to pick the best recipes ever.

I have flipped through the cookbook - Cooking Light Best Recipe Makeover - many, many times. I LOVE cookbooks. Can't help it. I love them, and I love cooking magazines. 'When' I have a kitchen that was is big that you could set up camp in it - I would have a wall full of cookbooks and cooking magazines. In the interim, they are just scattered around the house - a few on the coffee table, some on the kitchen counter, some in a basket in the living room... oh my.

Well - I was scanning the book and I came across a recipe that is sort of like what I made tonight. I scanned the ingredients and how they did it - and just ran with it. The recipe called for broccoli rabe - but I used something different.

Usually when I make a dish - I am very excited to share it. Well this is recipe is no different - but I am in love with it - and if you like fresh kale and other delicious ingredients, try this one!

I used one of my brother's onions for this recipe (well half of one) and I am not kidding when I say this - but these are the very best onions that I have ever had. They are so flavourful - just incredible.

Kale with grapes and turkey italian sausage

6 italian turkey sausages
2 cups of grapes - cut in half
1 can of white beans - rinsed
3 extra large kale leaves with stalks
1/2 medium onion - sliced
1 clove of garlic - minced
1/2 cup white wine - or you can use stock (vegetable or chicken)
Kosher salt and pepper
Parmesan - shavings

In a large skillet - add a drizzle of olive oil and heat to medium heat. Remove the sausage from the casings and crumble as it cooks. Cook for about 8 minutes.

I like to chop the kale into thin strips, almost like thin ribbons.

Add in the grapes, white beans and kale. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook this together for about 4 minutes. Remove everything from the skillet and put in a bowl.

Add another small drizzle of olive oil into the same pan, and add in the onions. Simmer over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and the white wine. Simmer for another 4 minutes - season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

Add in the kale mixture, give in a good toss. The kale should be slighted wilted, and everything should be nice and warm.

Serve on a platter and top with parmesan shavings. I use my potato peeler for very thin shavings of the delightful cheese.

You could easily make this vegetarian - with taking out the meat and using Ground Round, or just take it out completely.

I had a huge helping of this tonight - and oh my - thank heavens for leftovers.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer loves.

I'mmmmm back.

Where have I been? Here, there and everywhere. Well not really. We went on a little holiday - over to Point Roberts for few nights - and then a road trip up to the Okanagan with my nieces and nephew - bringing them home. They stayed with us at the Point the entire time - and it was lovely. The Okanagan was lovely. I really like it there. Even when it was so hot and I thought that my legs were going to melt - I still loved it. We had a great trip - it was relaxing, it was so nice being with family, and the only part that I didn't like, was that it was over too soon.

We went for dinner one night at Poplar Grove Winery. This was a part of our view. The dinner was tasty - not my most memorable dinner - but the view made up for it. And the dessert was so decadent that I was not complaining. My dinner date was lovely too. :)

Just before dinner, my brother hooked me up with a guy who we could get wine barrels from. I have wanted some for so long - and was super excited to be able to pick up a few. We felt like true 'Okanaganers' driving around with a set of them in the back of our pickup. I am not sure what I will be doing with them quite yet - but I think that they will find a place on the deck - and more than likely be for plants - maybe even an herb garden.

Caramelized onion very thin crust pizza with shaved parmesan cheese and a ricotta herb base

I did a bit of cooking over the trip. I love cooking for the masses at the Point. I seriously spend hours in the kitchen making dinner there. The kitchen is old - dated - but the appliances (well the stove and oven) are original to the house - over 50 years old - and they still work so well. I love that I have to bring my own kosher salt and olive oil with me.

I made my own birthday dinner - my choice. Again - I love cooking for the masses. This year - mini turkey burgers with greek orzo salad. My nephew developed his own burger - that I will be sharing with you shortly. I think that I may have helped create a bit of a foodie this trip. Stay tuned when he is my next Guest Chef - it's going to be good.

So - all in all - great trip. And now - back to the good life. Working, training for a half marathon, working out lots, trying to keep up with my endless garden that exists of tomatoes and two basil plants. And when I say 'tomatoes', I mean A LOT of tomatoes. We have enjoyed a few happy hours in the sun  - it's my most favourite part of the weekend when the sun is out.

I am addicted to blueberries once again. My annual addiction - that lasts the entire year. Figure that out :) I made tiny blue berry pies in muffin tins - using my Grandma's blueberry pie recipe - and cut the sugar into almost nothing. I added probably 1 tbsp of cane sugar. I also cheated and used store bought pie crusts - and cut them into circles and used larger muffin tins. They were deelish.

And then I created this dish. I am not sure what to call it - but I know that it was good because my husband is not a fan of zucchini and he can't stop eating it. It's like you're eating pasta, but you're not.

Zucchini love - aka - zucchini pasta 'wannabe'

2 medium zucchinis
1 medium onion - chopped
1 large garlic clove - grated or minced
2 cups of grape tomatoes - halved or quartered (depending on how large they are)
1/2 cup of white wine - or stock
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup goat cheese

Using a potato peeler - peel the zucchini in strips working your way through the zucchini on one side until you come to the center. Then start on another side of the zucchini and do the same thing. You should end up with the center almost being square - and a lot of very thin - wide strips of zucchini. (I have saved the insides of the zucchini and will probably use it for salad or stirfry.

In a skillet - saute the onion in a dash of olive oil and season with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Saute for about 8 minutes over medium heat and add in the garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes and then add in the wine. If you don't want to use wine - low sodium chicken stock would work great.

Simmer for a couple of minutes and then add in the tomatoes. Continue to simmer for a couple of minutes and then add in the zucchini and fresh basil. Gently toss the zucchini in the sauce. Add in the crumbled goat cheese and season with another pinch of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper.

This with a grilled steak or a piece of grilled salmon - is a complete summer meal. I cannot wait to raid my sister's garden for more zucchini and make this again.

Alrighty friends - I hope that you're loving your summers.