Tart and Tangy Thai Pork Noodles

This makes for a quick and easy dinner, using one skillet (or wok), and just involves a bit of chopping.  As always, please please, taste your marinade before adding cornstarch.  If you don’t smack your lips and say yum yum, try adjusting.  Maybe you like it spicier?  – add chile flakes.  Maybe you like it more tart?  – add lime.  Any dish that has Thai in the title should be well balanced, with salty, sweet, spicy & sour in perfect harmony. Once you get that perfect balance add the corn starch.

Pork noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless pork loin,  cut into strips
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons soya sauce (reduced sodium)
  •  4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
  •  broccoli florets
  • carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • bamboo shoots (optional)
  • water chestnuts (optional)

Realistically – – – all the vegetables are optional, use whatever you like, just make sure you have a good assortment of color and crunch.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Remove enough just to cover pork and place in bowl.
  2. Add pork, marinate while preparing pasta and vegetables or up to overnight.
  3. Cook (or soak) rice noodles according to package directions, drain.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic & ginger for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.
  7. Add remaining oil and pork mixture to skillet. Cook until pork is nicely browned.
  8. Remove pork, keep warm and stir in remaining marinade to skillet.  Cook until bubbly so the cornstarch is cooked through and thickens.
  9. Return pork & vegetables to skillet, add rice noodles, heat through and serve.

Garnishes:  sliced green onions, toasted and chopped peanuts and roughly chopped cilantro.

This dish works equally well if you want to make it a vegetarian dish, or decide to change up the protein, try:

  • sliced chicken thighs
  • prawns
  • seafood

We like rice noodles, but you could easily use any type of pasta you have on hand like chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.

Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.

 

 

Lemon, Shrimp & Spinach Pasta

This makes a very quick dinner, fresh and delicious.

IMG_8095.JPG

 

Ingredients
For the lemon oil:
1/2 cup warm extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested (in wide strips)

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sliced zucchini
16 ounces frozen shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces spinach (about 3 packed cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Optional:  1/2 – 1 tsp chile flakes & 1 tbsp butter

 

For the lemon oil:
Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.
For the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and saute until just tender.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, chile flakes, butter, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the spinach.  Using a mesh sieve, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add some of the cooking water to desired consistency. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. (dusted with parmesan if you like)

Phyllo Wrapped Halibut with Lemon Scallion Sauce

A little bit fussy to prep, but once you try wrapping a few of the halibut fillets, the rest will be easy to complete. Well worth it and super impressive to serve. Our good friend Jean came up with this, and we helped her do it for her own 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Ready for a party, these little phyllo packages are sprinkled with chives, fresh dill and an extra little drizzle of the lemon sauce.

Ready for a party, these little phyllo packages are sprinkled with chives, fresh dill and an extra little drizzle of the lemon sauce.

To serve 4:

4 tbsp butter
8 sheets phyllo dough
4 (5 oz) halibut fillets
4 tsp chopped fresh dill
6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
4 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425

Separate the phyllo – it will take 4 sheets total for every 2 halibut fillets. Lightly butter 1 sheet phyllo dough. Lay another sheet directly on top of the first sheet and lightly butter it. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo. Cut sheets in half.

Season halibut with salt and pepper. Place each fillet near the bottom edge of one of the halved sheets – sprinkle with dill. Fold in the sides of the phyllo, then roll the fillet.

Place on baking sheet, lightly brushing with more butter.

Ready for the oven, these little fillets are going to be so moist inside, crispy and crunchy outside.

Ready for the oven, these little fillets are going to be so moist inside, crispy and crunchy outside.


Bake in preheated oven until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

While the fillets are baking:

In a small saucepan, bring lemon juice to a boil over high heat. Boil until almost evaporated. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream. simmer until the cream thickens somewhat. Stir in green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve halibut on a pool of the sauce. Garnish with more fresh dill.

Linguine with Shrimp and Spinach

I’m really going to try and simplify a few meals …. seems as though I look at 20 or 30 minute meals and only use that as a starting point … always adding more dishes. Next thing I know I’m looking at 60 minute meals … Usually that is just fine, it is my kitchen yoga after a busy day at work. However – sometimes, like when my beautiful Sloan and Stella are helping out, a 20 or 30 minute meal is the way to go.

Freshly harvested corn, spinach and tomatoes make this deliciously simple pasta dish extra tasty.

Freshly harvested corn, spinach and tomatoes make this deliciously simple pasta dish extra tasty.

Here is one for you to try – deliciously simple and when made with fresh tomatoes and spinach out of the garden, not to mention the first of this years corn, it really is enough.

You can use any pasta you like for this – the main point is to cook it in enough salted water – be generous with that salt, and have lots of water. Cook pasta until al dente.

3/4 pound pasta
1 pound raw shrimp
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt
lemon
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in boiling water, in the last few minutes of cooking time, toss in the shrimp and cook ONLY until the shrimp is opaque and slightly pink throughout. Neither pasta or shrimp do well when overcooked. Drain well, reserving a bit of the pasta water in case needed.

Return to pot and add in freshly grated lemon zest, the juice of 1 lemon, chopped fresh tomato, 2-3 tbsp olive oil and the 4 cups of baby spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If it seems a bit dry, this is the time to add a bit of the pasta water. Parmesan cheese grated over finishes it all off.

Served with the fresh corn on the cob it really is a great meal – quick and easy too.

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Capers and Tomatoes

This pasta is quick, light and easy. Most of these ingredients are things I have on hand anyway, so as a last minute dinner it always works – add a fresh, crisp green salad and some garlic toast and your meal is perfect.

Plump juicy shrimp, fresh tomatoes and spring onions combine with capers for a quick easy dinner.

Plump juicy shrimp, fresh tomatoes and spring onions combine with capers for a quick easy dinner.

Put on a large pot of water to boil – salt only once it has come to rolling boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, heat a fry pan and stir in:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter

Once melted, stir in
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
when lightly brown, stir in
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, stir for 30 seconds and add:
3 pounds large shrimp – shelled and deveined
Stir occasionally and cook only until shrimp are cooked through – around 3-4 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper
Finish with 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and a knob of butter.

Stir well and set aside.

By now your water has come to a boil and you are ready to cook your angel hair pasta – add a generous amount of salt to water, then pasta (enough for 4). Cook for time listed on your pasta container – being careful not to overcook. Drain – reserving 1 cup of the pasta liquid.

Return the pasta to the pot, toss in the shrimp mixture, including and juices, along with:
2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp capers
green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Stir well, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce up a bit and season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you don’t have any frozen shrimp on hand, this works really well with chicken too!

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Aioli

Crab cakes are one of our favourite appetizers to get when eating out …. this is an easy to create appetizer at home, or make slightly larger – serve with a great big tossed salad – amazing bread, and you have a complete meal.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions (green and white bits)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Blend well together, and gently stir in:
1 pound lump crabmeat (take care to pick through it to make sure it is shell free)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

In separate bowl combine:
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 pound of crab meat should make about 16 small cakes (appetizer size) or 8 larger cakes.

Form crab meat mixture into balls, and press each ball into the panko crumbs to coat.

Set aside in fridge to allow them to set up.

The crab cakes can be done to this stage, and kept in fridge until the next day.

Heat fry pan, and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp vegetable oil. When foam has subsided, add crab cakes and heat through for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping gently. Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches if necessary.

Horseradish Aioli

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend all ingredients well, and allow to sit in the fridge so that the flavours develop.

Serve crab cakes with aioli, sprinkled with a few cilantro sprigs.