Bang Bang Shrimp

This is delicious, which makes it a winner in my books!  The biggest bonus is that the whole dish comes together very quickly with ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen anyway.  The dipping sauce is a bit sweet, a bit spicy and a bit tangy from the yogurt.

Bang bang shrimp 4

Grilling these outside would have been perfect, but the rain changed that plan!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled and deveined)
  1. Mix together the first four ingredients and set aside.
  2. Thread shrimp on skewers (if using wooden skewers soak in water for 30 minutes first).
  3. Brush the shrimp with some of the sauce and leave the rest for dipping after they are cooked.
  4. Grill shrimp until just cooked through – it only takes a few minutes so watch carefully to be sure they are’t overcooked.
Bang Bang Shrimp 1

I’m sure you have all these ingredients on hand, and the dipping sauce is amazing to just keep on hand so make enough for leftovers.

 

Bang Bang Shrimp 2

Smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious.

Bang bang shrimp 3

Grill just until cooked through – today it had to be on a grill pan because it was absolutely pouring out there!

If you’ve had these at a Chinese restaurant they are usually deep fried in a light batter, and the dipping sauce is a lot heavier – made with mayonnaise.  I prefer this version made with greek yogurt, and I bet you will too!

 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

During the cold of winter these vegetables are always available, and make the most comforting winter dinner.  When summer vegetables arrive however, with fresh new potatoes, leeks and fennel from your own garden or farmers market, this soup is the perfect meal on a cool, rainy spring – early summer night.

Roasted potato Fennel Soup 10

I love rich, creamy soups, but what I really love …. is the toppings.  Every pureed soup needs something to create texture and bacon with fresh herbs does the job.

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp  freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek
  • 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup cream (omit if you want it to be vegan)

GARNISH

  • fresh chopped chives, parsley, basil and fennel fronds
  • crispy bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400

In large bowl toss the potatoes with olive, garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 1

New potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum whatever you do wth them!

Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.  (use 2 sheets if necessary, you don’t want them crowded)

Saute onions, fennel and leek with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat until translucent. (I like to cook my bacon in the pot first in order to use the fat …. but for vegan or vegetarian options just omit the bacon and it’s fat).

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 3

Season every step of the way!

Add chicken or vegetable stock to onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Add roasted potatoes, turn to a gentle simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 5

Puree until all vegetables are creamy … this is the point to add fresh minced herbs and the cream, if using.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 7

Taste, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 6

Mince up a handful of fresh herbs …. 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 9

Toss the herbs in and stir well with the blended soup.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 2

Prep your garnish … today I liked the idea of crunchy bacon (well honestly most soups love crunchy bacon) … as well as chives, basil and fennel fronds.

 

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

Sun dried tomato pasta 4

Tender chicken, barely cooked spinach, crunchy bacon and tangy parmesan … this pasta dish has it all,   It’s a meal in a dish.

It seems like many years ago I just L O V E D a recipe like this at a local restaurant, creamy yet intensely flavoured and tasty chicken bits.  It took a while, but I finally found this one from RecipeTin Eats, and it is perfect!

Ingredients

  • 300g / 10 oz fettuccine
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter , separated
  • 2 chicken breasts , cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (sub more chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock / broth
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) cream , thickened / heavy 
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan , finely shredded
  • 70g / 2.5oz baby spinach
  • 100 g / 3oz sun dried tomato strips

SERVING:

  • 120g / 4oz bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • More parmesan
  • Parsley , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for time per packet minus 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water. Then drain pasta.

CHICKEN:

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over hig heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

ALFREDO SAUCE:

  • Turn down heat to medium high. In the same skillet, add remaining butter and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden, then add wine.
  • Simmer rapidly, stirring to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, parmesan and sun dried tomato.
  • Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring leisurely, until it reduces and thickens.
Sun dried tomato pasta 1

The most important aspect of this sauce is letting it thicken enough to be rich and glistening.

ESSENTIAL TOSSING:

  • Add spinach, chicken and cooked pasta.
  • Toss for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on the stove, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta strands – Use pasta cooking water if needed if it gets too thick.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan, crumbled bacon and parsley (if desired).
Sun dried tomato pasta 2

Fresh herbs really pop with colour and freshness in this dish, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and it was a perfect touch.

Beautiful Bowl

Beautiful bowl 7

This bright and beautiful bowl is packed with intense flavour and crunchy bits along with the chewy barley combined alongside pickled radish & ginger.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup minced cilantro (use the stems!)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and give it a good whiz until it is bright and creamy.

Beautiful bowl 1

Gather all the dressing ingredients together and it will take just a few minutes to combine.

Beautiful bowl 2

Use the stems of the cilantro, that is where the most flavour is – mince it first before blending.

Beautiful bowl 3

Bright, fresh, green – this dressing is a flavour packed bomb.  I’m sure it would be great on anything as well as this bowl …. I’m going to put it to use in whatever way I can find.

Pickled Radish:

  • 6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Slice radishes, and sprinkle with salt and sugar, then pour the rice vinegar over.  Allow the radishes to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Beautiful bowl 4

Barley:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley

Bring water, miso and stock to a boil, then add the barley.  Bring to a slow gentle boil and allow barley to cook until just tender – about 25-30 minutes.  Rinse under cool water and allow to drain.

This recipe was inspired by Whitewater Cooks, and her Beautiful BC Bowl with salmon ….but you can do whatever you like with it.

YOUR BOWL:

If you are cooking a protein, marinade in some of the dressing, and then grill until cooked.  Grilling is by far the best – the honey will stick to any fry pan you use!

Beautiful bowl 6

This is as customizable as your fridge!  Use what you’ve got – tonight we had leftover flank steak so that made our protein, but honestly without a protein you will enjoy this just as much.

Assemble bowl with the barley, protein of choice and an assortment of toppings.  Tonight we used:

  • roasted peanuts
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • avocado
  • sliced snow peas
  • halved cucumber slices
  • slivered green onions
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • sautéed red onions & sweet peppers
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • nori sheets – roasted lightly and slivered

Everything about this bowl is a delight!  Customize it to your tastes.

 

Bright Crunchy Thai salad with Peanut Lime Dressing

Brighter skies, longer days, and warm temperatures mean I’m looking for meals that are lighter and feel so good to eat!  The flavours of this dressing are so good you are going to want a big batch to keep in the fridge – use it to dip any fresh vegetables in.

Sesame chli lime cashews 3

Served tonight with some lightly garlic buttered prawns …. a perfect meal.

Dressing

  • juice of 2 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Ponzu sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 – 2 tsp grated or minced garlic (to your taste)
  •  1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (the stems are perfect for this, they pack so much flavour – just mince a bit before putting in the blender
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Combine all ingredients in blender and whiz up until smooth and creamy.

Gather up all the vegetables that scream fresh to you and make an awesome crunchy salad.

Lightly seasoned cashews make a fantastic crunchy topping!

In a frypan combine:

  • 1 1/3 cups cashews
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Sesame Chili Lime cashews

Toss and heat until cashews are lightly browned and then cook for a further minute with:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Sesame chli lime cashews 2

This dressing makes more than you will need.  If you want to make a complete meal out of this, then scoop out about 1/2 cup and marinate a protein for grilling.  It works equally well with flank steak or chicken.  I haven’t tried it with tofu, but I’m sure it would be great.  Grill steak or chicken and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Cool before serving with the salad.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

I can’t tell you how light and fluffy this popcorn chicken coating is.  It comes down to the potato starch I think.  All the aromatics seep into the chicken with this marinade and every bite is a burst of flavour.  You might think I made a quick trip to Taiwan for this recipe ….. but you’d be wrong.  We tasted this first in Huatulco, Mexico and dreamt of it until I figured out how to make it.

Taiwanese chicken 7

Mercader Restaurant in Santa Cruz Huatulco, is where we first tasted this incredible bite of chicken.  The owner/operators have travelled extensively and bring flavours from all over the world to play with Mexican ingredients.

Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade
1 medium head of garlic
1/2-inch ginger
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coating
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch

Oil for frying.

Directions
Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Taiwanese chicken 1

Mix all the marinade ingredients together, and stir together in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken as well.

Taiwanese chicken 2

Stir the chicken pieces into the marinade, and cover.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

 

Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl.

Taiwanese chicken 3

I had an egg white in the fridge today. so used just that instead of a whole egg.

Taiwanese chicken 4

Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.

Taiwanese chicken 5

Don’t overcrowd the oil or the temperature will drop.

Taiwanese chicken 6

Season with the salt and white pepper as soon as it comes out of the fryer.

Taiwanese chicken 8

Make a dipping sauce to take this over the top.  Combine sweet soy sauce, spicy oil, a bit of sesame oil, sliced garlic and green onions.

Taiwanese chicken 9

Addictive.  

I found this recipe on a great website, “Eat the love”, and it’s perfect.  My only addition is the dipping sauce.  I’m hope that I can also find the sweet potato starch he uses, but so far I’ve only been able to find regular potato starch.

 

 

Beef Rouladen

European heritage means we’ve eaten our fair share of Rouladen.  Growing up we always thought we were Austrian German, but it turns out there is more Romanian heritage in us than we thought.  And, of course throw in an Irish Nana and and English Granddad and you have the Heinz 57 of DNA.

Rouladen 4

I used to always put carrot in with the pickles in the rouladen, but Grant doesn’t like either pickles or cooked carrots ….. sigh.  I love the flavour though, so compromised by only putting pickle in the roll up, and nestling carrots in with the gravy.  Total win win.

Ingredients

Rouladen:

  • 4 boneless round steaks very thin, about 4 inches wider x 7 inches long (often you can actually find a rouladen cut ready made)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika
  • 4 Tbsp whole grain mustard or Dijon, regular yellow mustard
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 4 baby dill pickles halved or larger dill pickles quartered. Sweet pickle is also an option here.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. If you weren’t able to find preprepared meat, then prep the rouladen by pounding out the beef until they are 1/4 inch thin and about 5 inches wide by 9 inches long. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of paprika. Spread 1 Tbsp of whole grain mustard over each of the 4 pieces of beef. Place two pieces of bacon over each piece of beef, side by side, trimming any part of the bacon that extend over the ends. Scatter each with diced onion, dividing evenly between the four pieces. With the widest end of the short side facing you, place two pickle halves end to end about 1 1/2 inches from the end. It’s ok if they stick out the side at this point. Take the end closest to you and fold it up and over the pickles. Continue rolling by lifting and rolling until it is completely rolled. Take a skewer and secure the end of the roll to the main part of the roll, so it doesn’t unroll. Trim any excess pickle sticking out the sides so it is even with the sides of the roll. Roll up the remaining beef pieces similarly.
Rouladen 2

They already look good ….. you could use more pickle in these, but as I mentioned, it isn’t Grant’s favourite, so this worked out fine.

Rouladen 1

Assembly line!

 

Gravy:

  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp red wine can omit or replace with a couple of teaspoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste or ketchup, in a pinch
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard or regular mustard
  • Pinch paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Stir together the gravy ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
Rouladen 3

All rolled up and ready for browning before a low slow oven roast.  Be prepared for your house to smell amazing.

Method:

  1. In a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed, oven-proof dish with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef rolls to the pan, skewer/seam side down. Sear for a few minutes until lightly browned, then flip over and sear the other side. Place the rolls on their sides if necessary to sear the entire outside of each of the rolls.
  2. Once rolls are browned, add the prepared gravy mixture to the pan. Stir gently to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover pot and place in the preheated oven.
  3. Cook, covered in the oven until tender, about 1 – 1/2 hours (depending on the size of your rolls), flipping rolls over a couple of times during the cooking period.

To thicken gravy:

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  1. Remove pot from oven and use tongs to remove rolls to a plate. Carefully remove the skewers from the rolls and discard, then cover plate loosely with foil while you thicken the gravy.
  2. Place pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and add to liquid in pot. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, until thickened. If necessary, add a bit more cornstarch/water to gravy if not thick enough. Taste gravy and add additional salt, pepper and paprika, to taste.
  3. To serve, cut rolls in half diagonally in the middle. Place halves on side mashed potatoes and spoon gravy over-top. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Rouladen used to be a meal on a regular rotation in our house, but somehow I got away from it.  This long, unrelenting winter had me craving it all over again, but I couldn’t find our family recipe …eek.  Thank goodness I found this one from “Seasons and Suppers” which was the closest I could find to the way I remembered doing it.  So glad I did, it was delicious.  We served it with mashed potatoes, but it works equally well with broad egg noodles ….anything to soak up that luscious gravy.