Gazpacho, Morelia style

The gazpacho we encountered in Morelia was unlike anything we had tried before.  Certainly not cold tomato soup.  We loved that each bite hit all the notes we were looking for; sweet, sour, spicy, salty and refreshing.  Versatility is key here, and in my opinion, so is hand chopping the fruit and vegetables.  Sure, a food processor would make short work of it all, but you might not get such great flavour in every spoonful.

mercado-frutas

We first tasted this in Morelia, Mexico – where everything is fresh and delicious!  Even at home though, we have loved the refreshing dish.  Try serving it in small dishes as a palate cleanser for a Mexican fiesta ….

Everything finely diced:

2 cups jicama

2 cups cucumber

1 cup watermelon

1 cup mango

1/2 – 2/3 cup red or white onion

I say 1/2 – 2/3 cup of onion because it will depend on how pungent your onion is, and how much you love onion flavour, play with it.

1 tsp chile flakes

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange

Stir this all together, and taste!!!  Every little bit of fruit and vegetable should be in each bite and you should love the way it all comes together.  If not – adjust!

gazpacho-morelia-style

As you can tell, this is no small bite!  – Small version in the market in Morelia.

 

 

Panzanella Salad

When tomatoes and basil are this fresh you can’t go wrong with a Panzanella salad, so simple, few ingredients and yet the flavours are just bursting with freshness.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

These amounts are rough, use whatever you have on hand that is fresh:

Grilled bread, cut into bite size pieces (or use home made croutons – well seasoned)
fresh tomatoes, cut into about the same size piece as the bread
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup roasted red pepper slices, diced
fresh basil, torn

Dressing:
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In serving bowl mix dressing ingredients together, taste and adjust seasonings ….

Stir in all the other ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

Warm 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??

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

We have a smoker, so when time and weather permits, we love to do a pork butt roast in the smoker – but let’s be honest, that doesn’t always work. The whole point of a slow cooker is simplicity, and being able to walk away ….. This recipe allows you to do just that, and still enjoy amazing pulled pork flavour.

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 pound pork butt roast
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar or molasses
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 3″ piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
  • In slow cooker, place sliced onions and garlic.

If the mixture needs to be thinned out a bit, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

Combine the dry ingredients, and give the pork a massage with the seasonings .. after all, it isn’t called a rub for nothing!
(If you want to make things really easy in the morning, rub the pork up the night before and allow those seasonings to penetrate the pork)

Place seasoned pork on top of the onion garlic mixture. Stir soy sauce, vinegar, barbecue together (add chicken stock if it needs it) and pour over pork.

Allow pork to cook on high (6-8 hours) or low (8-10 hours). Remove from cooker, and allow to rest.

Use immersion blender and create sauce out of mixture in cooker – reduce to about half.

Shred pork with 2 forks, and return both pork and sauce to cooker.

Serve on fresh buns with a bit of crunchy cole slaw.

I will update with a photo next time I make this …. with our crowd, before I knew it, the serving was happening and there was no opportunity to take that shot!

General Tso’s Chicken

I’ve been working on this recipe for ages, trying to get the correct balance of flavours and I think this is it – finally nailed it. Every brand of these ingredients will be slightly different. Taste the marinade BEFORE adding raw chicken and make sure it tastes great – adjust as needed. Follow that plan with the sauce also, make sure each component of this dish tastes great before putting it all together.

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and slightly sweet - a winning combination in this quick stir fry.

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and slightly sweet – a winning combination in this quick stir fry.

CHICKEN & MARINADE
2 #’s boneless skinless chicken thighs – cut into bite size pieces

6 tbsp sesame oil
2 1/2 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp Sambal Oelek (chile paste)
1 tbsp each minced garlic and ginger
1 tbsp corn starch

Combine marinade ingredients in bowl, stir in chicken and allow to sit in fridge for an hour.

SAUCE
2 tbsp yellow miso
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sambal Oelek (chile paste)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp light brown sugar

Stir well, and set aside

STIR FRY
peanut oil
2 small hot chile peppers
1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed – but left whole
1/2 medium white onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 tbsp Shaoshing rice wine (or sherry wine for cooking)
1/2 each red and yellow sweet pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 scallions, chopped into 1″ pieces

GARNISH
Toasted sesame seeds
thinly sliced green onions
thinly sliced hot red peppers

Heat wok over high heat until it starts to smoke, add enough peanut oil to lightly coat bottom – quickly toss in onions, garlic and chile peppers. Stir for 1 minute and add chicken. Toss and stir fry until chicken is slightly opaque, add peanuts and 1 tbsp rice wine. Add reserved sauce, peppers and cook until peppers are cooked through. Stir in large pieces of green onion.

Garnish with the sesame seeds, green onions and red peppers.

Serve with sesame jasmine rice, which is super simple! Just toss finely sliced chives into cooked rice along with toasted sesame seeds and a little sesame oil.

Jewelled Salad

The key to this salad is colour and texture. Make sure you use some fruit (pomegranate seeds are awesome), and lot of different textures. Try a variety of techniques in your vegetables also – some grated, some julienned, some sliced – you get the idea.

Beautiful, right??

Beautiful, right??

Add a cooked protein and you have a simple, whole meal.

We’ve been lucky enough to have Lorellei bring this to a few family dinners now, and it has definitely become one of our requested salads. If you can’t get sumac in your area, grate in a little extra lemon zest.

DRESSING

1/3 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juice of)
3 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp honey
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Blend all ingredients well and taste – adjust seasoning if needed.

SALAD

Just suggestions really, come up with your own ideas ..

spinach
kale
red lettuce
colorful peppers
cucumbers
beets
carrots
radishes
red onion
toasted slivered almonds

Basic White Cake

Everybody needs a basic white cake in their wheelhouse, and this is mine. Double it for a layered cake, or keep it simple – either way it is moist and delicious.

Basic white cake, today with a layer of fresh strawberries baked into the middle of the cake and served with softly whipped cream.

Basic white cake, today with a layer of fresh strawberries baked into the middle of the cake and served with softly whipped cream.

1 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk until batter is smooth.

Scoop batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

This might just be sweet little Stella's first whipped cream beater to lick …. but shhhh - don't tell anyone, Mom and Dad are away!

This might just be sweet little Stella’s first whipped cream beater to lick …. but shhhh – don’t tell anyone, Mom and Dad are away!

This cake is so versatile – tonight I spooned half the batter into the pan, covered with sliced strawberries and then covered those berries with the remaining batter.