Doubling Up On Cravings

Smokey Shrimp, Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder

Smokey Shrimp, Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder

Shrimp has been on my mind for two weeks now. Something I rarely eat, if only around the holidays in frozen ring-form (which, if we’re speaking freely here, I love). I held off on the craving just long enough to have it overlap with another – chowder. Creamy and rich, packed with corn and potatoes and yes, much to my heart’s content, shrimp. I decided to make a version off the cuff, tasting as I went and adjusting things to suit exactly what I was in the mood for. And wouldn’t you know it, it was one of the best chowders I’ve ever made, if not eaten. And yes, I am absolutely tooting my own horn. Sometimes it’s OK…under extreme circumstances….no? TOOT TOOT.

This is exactly what every cold day needs. The perfect amount of heat to thaw your bones, a rich and creamy base flecked with smoked paprika and cumin, and big chunks of spicy shrimp, sweet potato and corn to keep your tummy full and happy. If you don’t care much for seafood, chicken or sausage would be a great substitute (especially Chorizo or Andouille Sausage to keep with the Southwest feel of the recipe).

Smokey Shrimp, Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder

Smokey Shrimp, Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder
makes 6-8 mug-sized servings

4 slices bacon (this is optional but the smokiness is wicked good)
veg oil/olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, diced 1″ thick
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3/4 tsp smoked or regular paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups stock
3 cups 2% milk

Shrimp:
10-15 large shrimp (black tiger is great)
1/4 cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch or two red pepper flakes

For the chowder: 
Dice up your bacon and cook in a large heavy soup pot over med-high heat until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon to paper towel.

There should be about 2-3 tbsp rendered bacon fat in the bottom of your pot. If there is less, add a bit of vegetable or olive oil to top it up. Turn heat down to low-medium. Add the diced onion and celery and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes Add in sweet potato, stir and cover. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until sweet potato is starting to soften. Add thyme and spices and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add in flour and cook, stirring constantly,for another minute. Pour in stock and milk and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly. It should start to thicken. Pour in the corn kernels. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until it’s thick and creamy. If it’s too thick, add in some more milk or stock to thin it out. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

For the shrimp:

While soup simmers and thickens, toss your peeled and de-veined shrimp with the spices. Let rest for 2 minutes. Add vegetable oil to a pan over med-high heat and cook shrimp, one layer at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and starting to curl and turn golden brown.

At this point, you can leave shrimp whole to top the soup or cut into bite-sized chunks and toss into soup. Top with bacon bits, fresh ground pepper and thyme leaves. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!

IN WHICH LIFE HAPPENS

Blueberry Coconut Ginger Smoothie
 Blueberry Ginger Coconut Smoothie
Almost four months ago now, I laid awake in the gentle morning light and stirred for an impossibly long time in bed. My thoughts whipped around like a wind-blown bag. I waited for Allan to wake up so that I could finally put my thoughts to rest. At least for a few moments.

From the tiny en-suite bathroom attached to the bedroom at our old house, I poked my head out. Allan sat in wait in bed, as anxious as I was. I stared at him right in the eyes, and I knew he knew what I was about to say.

“….I think I’m fucking pregnant”. Those five words changed everything. We stared at each other, not really knowing what to say. Certainly we hadn’t planned it, but we also hadn’t been putting much effort into not getting pregnant, either. We wanted kids and we wanted a life together, though we’d never planned on when. We left the rest to fate, and fate found us easily. We’ve never been good at hiding.

 Blueberry Ginger Coconut Smoothie

We had plans to visit our friends at a beer market, of all the places, on that day. Oh, the temptation. Life sure is a funny little jerk. We didn’t want to tell anyone, fearing the worst might happen or that we might jinx this twist of fate, but seeing our dearest, closest, could-be-family-in-another-life friends made it impossible. The cat came out of the bag almost as effortlessly as we’d got ourselves into this situation in the first place. There were tears (maybe an emotional breakdown of sorts from my best friend, who has never wanted anything but for us to have a little wee one), hugs, and celebrations all around. We beamed at the thought of our new life and the support from our dearest friends. But at the end of the day, when we were left with each other in the silence and thought of what was about to happen, it sunk in. And it was scary.

 Blueberry Ginger Coconut Smoothie

(more…)

Warm and Fluffy [Gluten Free Chai + Oat Flour Waffles]

Gluten Free Chai + Oat Flour Waffles

Chai + Oat Flour Waffles
And so, we moved. Packed our lives into a tower of boxes, which we tripped over, shoved at and cursed repeatedly, and moved them off to our new little life. Our new little home. In our new little neighbourhood.

It never feels like it’s going to be worth it, when you’re in it. Staring at the tower of cursed boxes, and all the bits and pieces of your life scattered about the floors, the photos on the walls that have felt like home for so long. We toiled and sweat and drilled and patched holes, swept, and swept, and swept. Four animals make a whole lot of mess, if you couldn’t imagine. I’m sure we swept up enough to make a full army of cats (which is, of course, my dream).

We’re lucky to have good friends who helped Allan move every box, smiles on their faces the whole damned time, for little more than a few hugs and a couple cheap beers. Lucky doesn’t cover it – we’re blessed to be surrounded by good, kind hearts.

Chai + Oat Flour Waffles

Our new home feels like a dream. No neighbours upstairs or down, our own little home, a finished basement and huge backyard (south facing – oh shiiiiiiit, the gardens we’ll sow…if the jerk squirrels will allow it). Freshly finished floors and a bathtub (I haven’t had one in at least two years and I’ve been in that thing more than I’ve been anywhere else in the house). Close to work, close to cute shops, fish mongers, butchers, bread makers, tiny little grocers and sweet little coffee shop/florist hybrids (I can’t get enough of blumenstudio – their espresso is so good it makes my knees week and Kat makes the most stunning floral arrangements I’ve seen). The neighbourhood has everything we’ve ever wanted, including the house of our dreams. Life couldn’t get much better than it is right now. We’re lucky. And we’re thankful.

These waffles were the first thing I made in my new kitchen (which is itty bitty but functional enough). Wholesome and slightly sweet and full of warmth. Sort of the way my innards are feeling after the move. All warm and fluffy and full of goodness. These tend to be a bit denser than a white-flour waffle but they’re gluten free (assuming you’re careful about what kind of oats/oat flour you’re buying so there isn’t any cross-contamination). I used both chai tea bags and some fresh ground spices to make the warmth really pop. The black cardamom is something I’ve been playing with lately (like in these Dark Chocolate, Sour Cherry and Black Cardamom Biscotti I posted on Baked the Blog). It’s slightly smokey and robust, warm with tingling menthol sensation you might recognize from your green cardamom pods. It’s best when you grind it fresh but if you can only find pre-ground, that will do too.

GLUTEN FREE CHAI + OAT FLOUR WAFFLES

Gluten Free Chai + Oat Flour Waffles
makes 12 square waffles

I wanted these to be sweet so I added two different kinds of sweetners (brown sugar and maple). If you prefer yours less sweet, halve the amounts or use just one of the two.

As I mentioned above, if you’re gluten-intolerant be mindful of the oats and oat flour you’re buying. Depending on the facilty they’re produced/packaged in, there is a good chance for cross-contamination. Buy from a source that states the oats are gluten free.

2 1/2 cups milk (cows, almond, soy)
8 chai tea bags

3 1/2 cups oat flour
4 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 black cardamom pods, husk removed and seeds ground
Pinch ground clove
Pinch ground allspice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
4 eggs
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp veg or olive oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a sauce pot, add the milk and chai tea bags and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until milk is fragrant. Remove tea bags and let milk cool. It should reduce a bit and you should have about 2 cups total. If you have more, pour into a mug, add a little sugar and sip until it’s gone.

In a large bowl, mix your oat flour*, baking powder and all the spices and brown sugar. Whisk to combine. In another small bowl, whisk together your maple syrup (or honey), eggs, oil, and vanilla. Once cool, slowly whisk in the chai milk. Pour the wet into the dry and fold together until just combined. A few lumps is perfectly OK (both in food, and in life friends). Let the mixture sit for 10-12 minutes so the oats can absorb the liquids and thicken up. While it sits, preheat your waffle iron. and brush down with a bit of oil.

Pour batter, 1/3 cup at a time, into each waffle mold. Cook according to your waffle iron instructions. I usually pop mine into a 250 oven to keep warm and crisp the edges a bit more. Serve with room temperature butter and warm maple syrup.

*If you don’t have ground oat flour, all you need is a bag of old fashioned oats and a blender/food processor.

Chai + Oat Flour Waffles

Haters Gonna Hate [Caramelized Brussels Sprout + Thyme Mini Scones]

  Caramelized Brussels Sprout + Thyme Mini SconesI never understand the hate for Brussels sprouts. Whether boiled whole with no butter and little salt, or simmered slowly in cream until nutty and fragrant, I can’t get enough. They are little green orbs of happiness and seeing them at the market makes my heart sing.

I’m hoping these scones, with their sweet and earthy flavour, might conform some of you nay-sayers. Help you find the light and return from the dark side, you know? And dang, these guys are so good for you too! Full of vitamin C and vitamin K and an incredibly good source of body-loving nutrients including folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. So what’s up now, haters? Eh? Brussels sprouts. That’s whats up.It doesn’t hurt that the sprouts are tucked between flaky layers of buttery scone dough and speckled with earthy thyme and lots of fresh ground pepper. Make up a batch and I swear you’ll be conformed. I SWEAR. And if you decide to stuff them with tangy chevre, you’ll love them even more.

Caramelized Brussels Sprout + Thyme Mini Scones

Caramelized Brussels Sprout + Thyme Mini Scones
makes 15-18 mini scones or 12 regular scones

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts:
2 1/2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt

Scones:
2 cups All Purpose (unbleached) flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
5 tbsp butter
3/4 cup 10% cream
1 cup caramelized Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, stems removed

Preheat oven to 375. Toss shredded sprouts with olive oil and salt. Place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes, stir, and roast for another 6-8 minutes until sprouts are nice and golden brown. Remove and let cool completely (you can put them in the fridge to speed the process up). Leave the oven on.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the pepper and toss to combine. Cut in the cold butter until pieces are no bigger than peas. Place the whole bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove and add the cream, sprouts and thyme in. Stir with a fork until a rough shaggy ball of dough forms. If it’s still a bit dry, add more cream 1 tbsp at a time until it comes together. Dump the contents of the bowl out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough out into a rectangle and fold over onto itself. Press out again and fold. Repeat 6 times. Finally, pat the dough out to 1/2″ thickness and use a mini circle cutter to cut out as many scones as you can and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press the rest of the dough together and cut out as many as you can again. Repeat until no dough remains. Bake in the preheated 375 oven for 10-12 minutes or until tops are light golden brown.

Caramelized Brussels Sprout + Thyme Mini Scones

Blend + Extend Campaign [SPONSORED]

Beef and Mushroom Bolognese Fettucini

BEEF AND MUSHROOM BOLOGNESE

I’ve been working with Mushrooms Canada for a few years now, and every time they approach me with a new campaign, I’m always inspired to get in the kitchen.

Anytime we can save a few dollars in the kitchen I’m thrilled. I love stretching food as far as I can for meals during the week – epseically for lunches (Allan works in landscaping and needs a BIG lunch that fills him up and keeps him going all day). The Blend and Extend campaign stretches your budget by blending ground beef with your mushrooms or vice versa. The first recipe I shared was a Beef and Mushroom Tortiere that stretched out beef budget by doing a 50/50 mix with cremini mushrooms. The beefiness of the mushrooms makes it an easy swap-out that hardly makes a difference in taste, but bumps up nutrition and we really enjoyed the textural change as well. The recipe I’m sharing today is based on my favourite bolognese recipe. It takes a bit of time to come together, but once it does you’ll fall in love with it’s big, rich flavour. It makes a wonderful weekend supper and I tend to make it when I have a day off and can spend some time cleaning, drinking wine and stirring the pot until it’s perfect. And boy, does it make good leftovers. Something magical happens with it sits and soaks in all the flavours overnight. Take it for your lunches, eat it for dinner for the week or freeze half the sauce for a perfect last-minute dinner.

Feel free to play with the mushroom to beef ratio to suit your taste  

BEEF AND MUSHROOM BOLOGNESE

Beef and Mushroom Bolognese Fettucini
serves 6-8

2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and rough chopped
2 celery stalks, cleaned and rough chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
2 large cloves garlic
1 lbs cremini mushrooms, rough chopped
1 1/2lbs lean ground beef
1 (156mL) can tomato paste
2 cups red wine or beef stock
4 sprigs thyme
500g fettuccini/linguinie/bucatini
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
basil or parsley, to garnish
red pepper flakes, to garnish

Place the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot/dutch oven over med-high heat. Add the vegetables puree and cook, stirring every so often, until the liquids have reduced and the veggies are starting to brown and dry out. Add in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquids from the mushrooms has been released and reduced, about 10-15 minutes. Add in the beef and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook until the beef is cooked through and everything is golden brown and fragrant, another 10-15 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook until it’s turned a deep brick red, 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer until wine is almost reduced completely. Taste for salt and add a few more pinches if necessary. Add in just enough water to cover the meat/mushrooms by 1/2″ and bring back to a steady simmer. Cook until that water has reduced back down to the sauce line and then add the same amount of water back and let reduce again until sauce is thick and rich. The addition and reduction of the water (x2) should take about 20-30 minutes total. Really let it cook down and reduce each time.

While the sauce cooks, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.

Strain the pasta and dump into the sauce. Toss with a few tbsp of the reserved pasta water and Parmesan until the sauce is evenly distributed. Add more water if it gets too tight.

Divide among bowls and serve with fresh ground pepper, minced parsley or basil and some red pepper flakes.

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post put on by Mushrooms Canada and Ontario Beef. I was compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Giving Thanks

Quickie Apple-Sage Sausage, Aged Cheddar and Thyme Cornbread

SAUSAGE, AGED CHEDDAR AND THYME CORNBREAD

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Each other, first and foremost. A lot has happened in the last year. Tragedies and celebrations, good times bursting with belly laughs and good cheer, bad times that weighed heavily on us all. Through it all, we had each other. A shoulder to weep on, warm arms to fall into, expectant hands waiting to meet in the air for a celebratory high five, hard-sought advice and long talks over needlessly large glasses of wine. We had each other. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that. For my family, my friends, my coworkers, my peers. They each had a piece that contributed to the sometimes impossible puzzle that made up the majority of this year.

My gift to you, or my offering as it were, is a simple recipe that is as good as it is quick. Spend your time with the ones you love and are thankful for instead of slaving in the kitchen. Sit back, sip some hot cider (bourbon optional), and share a slice of this incredible cornbread with someone wonderful. It requires a measly 10 minutes of hands-on time and then works itself out in the oven.

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!

SAUSAGE, AGED CHEDDAR AND THYME CORNBREAD

Sausage, Aged Cheddar and Thyme Cornbread
makes 1 loaf

I like to brown up my sausage before putting it in the bread, giving it a ton more flavour. This step is absolutely optional but I do recommend if you have a few extra minutes. 

1 1/2 cups favourite sausage (If you’re in Ottawa, Seed to Sausage makes a mean Apple-Sage Sausage) removed from casing and crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups medium grain cornmeal
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp brown sugar (white is fine in a pinch)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup good-quality aged cheddar, cubed
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil (the bread won’t be as luscious as it is with butter but it’s still delicious)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large skillet over med-high heat, add the oil and the sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 5-6 minutes. Spoon onto paper towel to drain any excess oil.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, brown sugar and salt. Add in the thyme and cheddar. Pour in the wet ingredients one at a time and fold everything together to combine. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool, slice and serve on its own or with a slather of good quality butter.

SAUSAGE, AGED CHEDDAR AND THYME CORNBREAD

A Warm Hug

Maple + Oatmeal Stout Hot Toddy

Maple + Oatmeal Stout Hot Toddy

Before the cold season sets in, and it always does despite my best efforts and komboucha guzzling, I wanted to create a hot toddy that housed all my favourite things. Succulent, woody maple syrup, oaky and rich rye whiskey, dark and roasty oatmeal stout, bright lemon and ginger to cut all the richness and just a hint of cinnamon. It’s just the thing to sip as you cozy under the blankets in the dead of winter or try to shake that pestery cold away. I realize that drinking alcohol might not be the best way to cure a cold, but the antioxidant rich maple syrup (we’re not talking Aunt Jemina here, guys. The real stuff please!) and powerhouse ginger & cinnamon combo surely can’t hurt. And the stout? Well that’s just damned delicious. Especially if you’re in Eastern Ontario and can get your mitts on the Ships In The Night Stout from Stone City Ales in Kingston. It gives this hot toddy far more depth and complexities than the classic recipe.

Maple + Oatmeal Stout Hot Toddy

Maple + Oatmeal Stout Hot Toddy
makes 2 drinks

I like to use Bulleit Rye in this along with the stout. If you prefer just the stout, that’s OK too. The lemon and maple amounts vary as it all depends on what you like. I prefer less sweet, more tang. But you do whatever works best for your taste.

If you wanted to add an herb to the boiling liquids, thyme would be really lovely. 

3 cups water
1 2-3″ piece of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cinnamon stick
1″ piece lemon zest
1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it
juice from 1/2 – 1 whole lemon
2 ounces Rye Whiskey
1 cup Oatmeal Stout

Bring the water, ginger, cinnamon and lemon peel to a boil. Add in 1/4 cup of the maple syrup and a few tbsp of the lemon juice and taste for the right balance. If you like it sweeter, add more maple. If it’s too sweet, add more lemon. Remove from heat and add in the rye. Ladle into heat-resistant glasses and divide the stout between the two glasses. Drink immediately.

Falling Back

Creamy Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

The evenings have been cool around these parts lately. We’ve dug out the heavy knit sweaters and I managed to find the slippers I tossed away like an empty carton of milk last April. It’s wild how quickly fall has nestled itself into our lives. I love it. The way the crisp air clears out your lungs and makes them feel brand new. It’s as though I’ve been taking half breaths for the last few months and I can finally inhale deep into the pit of my gut again. It feels good and real. I’m odd that way. Where most of you come alive in the Spring, I come back to life in the fall. Running outside when everyone is woefully coming back in. It’s time to get back in the kitchen, to cook slowly and with intention, to get re-inspired and rouse some curiosity. And I’m starting with something tried and true.

These mushrooms on toast always pop up around September/October in our kitchen. As soon as the temperature drops, I crave them. It’s an earthy dish, deep and hearty with an herbal kick from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a slight puckering milkiness from the Crème Fraîche – everything is in perfect balance.  Simple in execution but big in flavour, I’ve no doubt they’ll move to the top of your simple-but-satisfying meal list.

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast
makes 4 large servings, 6 small

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 lbs cremini or wild mushrooms*, sliced thin
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brandy or chicken stock
3 tbsp Crème Fraîche (sour cream will do in a pinch)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
Rye or Whole Grain Bread, sliced and toasted
olive oil, to garnish

Melt butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the mushrooms. DO NOT ADD SALT. Let them cook, without stirring, for 8-10 minutes. As they cook, they’ll start to soften and release their excess moisture. When they start to crisp, tighten and shrink, you can start to stir. Add in the sprigs of thyme, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine or stock,  Crème Fraîche and stir, scraping any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced and mushrooms are beautiful and creamy. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, tasting as you go until you’re happy with the flavour.

Spoon over toasted rye bread and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

*specifically: shiitake, chanterlle, oyster

Crème Fraîche Mushrooms on Toast

Inspiration + Friends

Curried Chicken and Chickpea Salad with Mango Chutney and Toasted Coriander

CURRIED CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MANGO CHUTNEY AND TOASTED CORIANDER-3

I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by talented, inspired people all the time. From working in food and listening to customers tell me about their recipes, trials and errors in the kitchen, to my very own closest friends, I’m surrounded.

We spent the Labour Day Monday last weekend at my friends Tara and Phil’s home. Now, their house is an inspiration all on it’s own – having just recently knocked out the back patio door and bricks and put in a large sliding glass wall – but that’s a whole other blog. Whenever we end up at Tara’s place, there is always something interesting in the fridge. She’s part of a cookbook club and is generally just obsessed with food – it’s why we get along (and why our boyfriends usually tune us out while we break every single detail of a recipe down for hours) and why I love spending time with her. Whenever her fridge opens, I have to gawk in amazment. From the sheer organization of it all, weck and ball jars lined up perfectly, filled with herbs and colourful leftovers, to the pungeant smells of whatever dish she’s concocted that week, it’s a moment to behold. I could never be that organized even if I tried.

On our last visit she looked slightly embarassed when the warm, nose-tickling scent of curry escaped her fridge. She explained quickly that she’d made a curried chicken salad the day before and apologized for the smell (unecessarily, of course – I love curry and it’s intoxicating smell). Later in the day, while Allan did some work in her backyard, she brought out an opened faced sandwich with the curried chicken salad piled high atop it. It was for Allan, as he was the one actually working and stirring a hunger, but I couldn’t help but steal a bite, and then another, and one more to be sure. The salad was perfect. Heavily spiced, warm and creamy, balanced with some sweetness from a homemade mango chutney and plump raisins, crunchy and fresh from the addition of celery and freshened to perfection with some parsley. I knew immediately it was what I needed to get me through the week. I asked for a quick breakdown of the ingredients and went home, reciting them in my head so as not to forget anything. Well, I did. Of course I did – it’s me. But I did my best to put it together as I recalled, with a few extra additions based on what was in the fridge and needed to be used. I can’t get enough. I plan to make this as often as I can tolerate it as it’s healthy, warm, makes for great leftovers and satifies in a way that a ham sandwich just can’t. Pile it over grainy bread, serve in lettuce cups, or eat as-is for a filling meal.

CURRIED CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MANGO CHUTNEY AND TOASTED CORIANDER

Curried Chicken and Chickpea Salad with Mango Chutney and Cranberries
makes 6-8 cups, keeps for 1.5 weeks

I roasted a whole chicken rubbed generously with curry powder and sea salt for the chicken part of this recipe. You can used poached breast, leftover meat from a previous meal, or anything else you fancy. It would be delicious with turkey or with just chickpeas for something vegetarian friendly. 

Mango chutney can be found at most well-stocked grocery stores or at Indian grocers. It’s easy to make at home if you’re so inclined, too! 

3 cups roasted chicken breast, thigh and leg meat (I used a whole roasted chicken)
2 cups shredded lacitano kale
3 celery ribs, diced
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups chickpeas
2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans, rough chopped

dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil mayonaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mango chutney
1 tbsp freshly toasted coria nder seeds*
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
squeeze or two of lemon juice

Toss all the salad ingredients together.

Pour all dressing ingredients into a food processor ir blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more curry or pepper for spice, lemon for tang or chutney for sweetness. It all depends on personal taste.

Toss the salad and the dressing together, let sit in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to make sure all the flavours are well acquainted and serve in whatever way you like best!

*take 1 tbsp coriander seeds and pour into a skillet over medium heat. Cook until fragrant, 5 minutes, and shake the skillet often. Once toasted, grind in mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

 

 

Gut Saver

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
Oh, my poor gut.

Working in a shop that sells the most beautiful meat and cheese is a dream. Of that I can assure you. It is not, however, a dream for my poor grumbly gut. The little guy who has to suffer my lack of self-control in the face of a wheel of cheese and a  pudgy stick of unctuous, spicy Chorizo. Or calabrese. Or smoked ham. Or speck. Or grey owl cheese. Or Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar. Or Thunderoak extra old gouda. GET IT ALL IN MY FACE.

I digress. My poor stomach. Suffering through the perils of a vegetable-less existance while I stuff face with everything salty, fatty, nutrient-less and delicious. I have not been treating it well this summer and finally, I’d had enough. Enough abuse! It was time to cram as many vegetables as possible in there…with a little cheese and salumi in added in so as not to shock my system cold turkey. I marched right to the market, bought up as many colourful, crunchy things as possible and got to work. Chopping, roasting, pitting, plucking. Saving myself from certain death….or gut-pain at least. (ok, I get it. This salad is still pretty indulgent. Give me a break!)

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
This salad is packed. In every way; flavour-filled, colour-filled, nutrient-filled, deliciously-filled. It’s got everything. Spread a little burrata on a crostini, top it with a few crunchy beans, some tomatoes roasted just enough to make them slump out of their skins, juicy sweet cherry halves,  a piece of crisp and salty calabrese and wouldn’t you know it, you got yourself a mouth-party! It’s all about balance afterall, isn’t it?
Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and BurrataRoasted Heirloom Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Fried Calabrese, Sweet Cherries and Burrata
serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

This is a pretty willy-nilly salad. Add what you like, take out what you don’t. Slice them any which way you please. It will be beautiful no matter how you get there.

1 lb trimmed green (or yellow) beans
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sweet ripe cherries, pitted and halved
50g calabrese or chorizo, sliced thin into rounds or strips
1 8oz ball fresh burrata
olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
red currants, to garnish (optional)
crostini or crackers, to serve

Preheat oven to 450.

Toss the trimmed beans and tomatoes with a few drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Place on a rack over a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until beans are bright green and tomato skins are starting to crack and soften.

Place the calabrese or chorizo in a frying pan over med-high heat and fry until fragrant and crispy. Place on paper towels to drain.

On a large platter, place the beans down and top with the tomatoes, cherry halves, ball of burrata, crispy calabrese, and currants (if using). Squeeze the lemon juice over the platter and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place rounds of crostini or crackers around the plate and dive in.