Red Wine Vinaigrette

 

Making your own salad dressings is so easy that it never makes sense to buy them!  Forget the packaged dressings and give it a try.  I made enough of this for our Family Reunion this year and it was a hit.  Remember to taste as you go ….. I ended up eating a lot of lettuce before I got the balance right – hard to do with such a large quantity.

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  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Blend well, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is emulsified.

Variations:  This is my basic “house” vinaigrette …. and you can switch it up any way you like, during the summer I like to add in fresh herbs.

 

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls with Peanut Dressing

I’ve been trying to simplify some of my dinner plans ….. as much as I like puttering in the kitchen for a couple of hours after work (what I call kitchen yoga), there are times I just need to make a quick dinner.  This is one of my favourites …. quick, easy, healthy and most of all, absolutely delicious.  You don’t really have to make the peanut dressing to drizzle over, but honestly, isn’t everything better with peanut sauce?

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Tonight’s version of this bowl included prawns, mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy and lots of colourful peppers.

PEANUT DRESSING:
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 heaping Tbsp natural salted peanut butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
splash of lime juice
scant 1/4 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
splash of very hot water (only if too thick)

COCONUT CURRY:
1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 14-ounce can regular coconut milk
1 ½ cup reduced sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

BOWL: (These are suggestions, use whatever veg you have on hand)

4 ounces rice or egg noodles
1 tablespoon oil
half an onion, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
sesame seeds & chopped peanuts for topping
limes for serving
a handful of fresh basil & cilantro for serving

I’ve also used snow peas, zucchini, sweet peppers & bean sprouts.

To prepare your peanut sauce combine all ingredients except the hot water, blend well and stir in just enough of the hot water to allow everything to become smooth and creamy.

Preparing the curry sauce is pretty easy.  Heat oil in a sauce pan and stir in shallots and fresh ginger, saute briefly just until translucent and stir i the curry paste.  Fry curry paste for 2-3 minutes, just to allow flavours to wake up.  Stir in the coconut milk, and stock.  Simmer for a few minutes just to allow flavours to get to know each other…… Taste …. if you can handle a bit more heat stir in the hot chili paste.  Remove from heat and add the sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Taste again and adjust.  Remember, every brand of these ingredients will have a slightly different profile, and you need to make adjustments for that.  Last thing is to add the lime juice.  It should wake everything up and make you want to keep tasting …..

The method is fairly flexible, saute your veg in a wok with the oil just until crisp tender and set aside.  Alternatively, if you are using egg noodles, once you have removed the egg noodle from the boiling water, plunge the veg in for just 1-2 minutes until crisp tender and remove.

SERVING TIME:

Place noodles in the bottom of your bowl, layer on the veg, and sprinkle with toppings.  Gently pour over the coconut curry.  You can make this as saucy as you like by doubling up the curry sauce if you want more of a soup.  Drizzle over the peanut sauce and enjoy!

Wam Kale Salad

I wanted to credit Joni for this delicious salad – served warm or at room temperature, but she insisted I give the credit to her sister Brita, who originally came up with this – regardless of who gets credit, I will happily take it now as I post it and recreate it in my own kitchen! So delicious, and like lots of salads it is easy to adapt with whatever you have on hand or in your fridge.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

Kale (chopped and massaged)
spinach
pears (bite size pieces)
dates (diced)
almonds (roasted and roughly chopped)
feta

onion, garlic, asparagus & cherry tomatoes

Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and asparagus and cook only until asparagus is tender crisp, add cherry tomatoes, stir and remove from heat.

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Bragg’s
salt and pepper to taste – be cautious with the salt tho as both feta and Bragg’s will be a bit salty

Combine all ingredients – tossing in a large bowl with warm onion/garlic mixture and dressing.

This salad is so delicious and packed with nutritious bites that it can easily be a full meal – if you like add shrimp or cooked chicken, maybe a little quinoa??

Wild Rice Salad with Kale, Pecans & Blueberries

This salad is so beautiful to look at, and packed with deliciousness in every bite.  The contrasting textures work so well together – a meal in a bowl but also an amazing side to pretty much any barbecue.  Take it to a potluck and watch it disappear!

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

1 1/2 cups wild rice
1 cup raw pecans
6 large kale leaves
3 T walnut, pecan or vegetable oil
1T brown rice vinegar
2t brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the wild rice and cook until tender to the bite, about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350F. Lay the pecans in the single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 mins. Watch carefully or set your timer – they go from golden brown to burnt in the blink of an eye! Let the pecans cool, then roughly chop them, set aside.

Trim and discard the thick stems form the kale, then chop the leaves.  Use your hands to massage and squish handfuls of the leaves until they soften and turn a darker shade of green, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice and toss to coat.  Add the kale, bell pepper and green onions and toss again.

At this point the salad can be kept, covered and chilled for up to 2 days.

Add the blueberries, and pecans just before serving.

Crab Stuffed Ravioli

Our good friends Rob and Mandy love fresh crab as much as we do … and that is saying something! She is brilliant at the cooking and prep – something we look forward to so much! Last time we restrained ourselves just enough to have a cup of fresh crab meat left over …. that became tonight’s crab ravioli. Unbelievably good ….

Crab Stuffed Ravioli

Crab Stuffed Ravioli

When I have time I prefer to make my own pasta dough, but in a pinch, these little dumpling wrappers from the Asian market are fabulous.

Won ton or dumpling dough
egg
filling
butter
lemon
freshly chopped chives & parsley

FILLING
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

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Blend everything just until combined, taste and season if necessary.

Using dumpling wrappers, put 1 tsp on one round – brush egg wash around and top with another dumpling wrapper – squeeze the excess air out and seal well.

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Allow to dry while you prepare a sauce.

Melt 1/2 cup butter, stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon. Toss in fresh chives and parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook ravioli in well salted boiling water. Be careful not to cook too many at a time or the water temperature will drop.

Once they have bounced around the surface for a couple of minutes, transfer to sauce pan with lemon butter sauce, adding a tablespoon or so of pasta water. Toss with a bit of the fresh herbs and season to taste.

Butternut Squash Soup – with a Mediterranean twist

At this time of year the butternut squash is coming out of the gardens and so fresh that when you cut into it beads of moisture appear – yum yum! Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine, but this time I felt like a little twist.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

You will need:

roasted butternut squash
chicken stock
onions
garlic

Seasonings: Ras al Hanout, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper

Garnishes: Grated feta cheese, minced chives, crispy bacon pieces

In a soup pot cook bacon pieces (I like to cut my bacon slices in thin slivers). Remove bacon as soon as it gets crispy. Remove some bacon fat, but leave enough to sauté your cinnamon stick, onions and garlic until soft. Add chicken stock and roasted butternut squash. Remove cinnamon stick as soon as you get a hint of it in the broth, but not overwhelming. Cook until everything is steaming hot – puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (if using a blender take care to leave an opening for the steam to escape – you do not want to end up wearing this hot soup). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The portions on this will vary greatly on the size of your squash, and the amount of soup you want! For tonight there were only 2 of us so I used 1/2 a squash (about 2 cups) to 4 cups of chicken stock.

Serve once the soup has been pureed – garnish with the chives, bacon bits and grated feta.

For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock.

Either way – a delicious soup!

Asian Style Salad with Red Rice

I love salads that make a whole meal – perfect for hot summer nights that let you feel satisfied but not stuffed!

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Tonights version included:

base – cooked red rice
mixed greens and fresh seasonal vegetables
poached shredded chicken (easily substitute prawns)
roasted peanuts and sesame seeds
slivered green onions

DRESSING
2 tbsp Thai sweet chile sauce
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 rounded tsp peanut butter
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients until smooth – gradually add in 1/4 cup peanut oil until well incorporated.

Every brand of these ingredients is different. Start from here and then taste it. I usually take a lettuce leaf and dip it in. If I don’t love it, keep adjusting! It should have a balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tangy ….