Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Linguine with lemon, chicken and mushrooms


Tonight's dinner was quite good and not expensive. The chicken was leftover from a rotisserie chicken bought at Costco a couple of days ago; the asparagus came from Thomas Bros. Market on highway 4 south of the city heading to St. Thomas.

Now, what to do with the leftover no fat sour cream. I hate waste.

Ingredients (Serves 2)


3 Tbsp of olive oil
6 large mushrooms, each cut into eight, large, pie-shaped chunks
10 asparagus spears chopped into 1-inch sections
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp of freshly grated lemon zest - don't scrimp
5 Tbsp of no fat sour cream (I'm considering using 1% sour cream. This is very close nutritionally but the small amount of fat may add some flavour and texture.)
140 g of linguine - I find 70 g of dry linguine is enough per person while cutting the calories.
4 Tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Tbsp of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
At the table add a pinch of dried, crushed, hot-peppers, plus salt and pepper.

Preparation


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While it's heating, heat the olive oil in a large, deep fry pan.

2. Add the mushrooms to the hot oil and drop the linguine into the boiling water. From this point, you have about eight minutes to get this dinner together. Stay focused.

3. With the mushrooms beginning to cook, add the asparagus to the fry pan. (I cheated and put mine in a microwave at high for 30 seconds. Don't do too much precooking. The asparagus should have good colour and a little crunch.) Stir all with a spoon or toss with a flipper as the mushrooms/asparagus cooks. You don't want this to burn. Stir the pasta occasionally to keep the linguine from sticking.

4. Add the minced garlic to the fry pan. After a minute add the sour cream. You don't want the garlic to burn. Sprinkle the Tbsp of lemon zest over all and flip or stir all.

5. At this point, the pasta should be done. Drain and save a cup of pasta water just in case the dish seems a little dry. Add the pasta to the fry pan. Sprinkle the lemon juice over all and the grated Parmesan. Toss all and serve.

6. At the table, add a pinch of dried, crushed, hot-peppers, if desired, plus some salt and pepper. Have some extra grated Parmesan for adding at the table.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Grilled wild salmon with garlic, celery, cherries

There's no recipe with this post. I'm not flogging a recipe tonight. I'm simply doing some cheer-leading.

I discovered the fridge was fairly empty tonight and tonight was Canada Day. Oops. All the stores are closed. Even the grocery stores.

I found some frozen, wild salmon in the downstairs fridge, some sweet peppers in the upstairs fridge and decided to get imaginative.

I served the salmon on a bed of basmati rice -- I always have rice on hand -- and spooned a quickly fried mix of chopped cherries (not too sweet), celery, garlic and pistachios on top. It was amazingly good.

The lesson? Seniors can eat well and on a tight budget without serving gruel. Almost all the ingredients came from Costco and were priced well within our budget demands. Watch a few cooking shows, get past your fears and be creative.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes



Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes, the ones bagged without oil, are my favourite sun dried tomatoes. I find these are lighter than the ones packaged in oil. But if you like the ones in oil, Bella Sun Luci  makes these as well. In London this brand is available at Remark on Hyde Park just south of Oxford Street West.

I had opened this package and so the Bella Sun Luci brand name has been cut off the top. Oops.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pan fried rainbow trout with a tarragon tomato sauce

Pan fried rainbow trout with a tomato - tarragon - garlic sauce served on basmati rice.

The frozen rainbow trout comes from Peru where it is an invasive species. This is one fish that can be consumed without guilt. It's delicious to eat and quick and easy to cook. Love it.

For this recipe, simply rinse the defrosted fillets in cold, running water, pat dry, salt and carefully place, skin side down, in a medium hot fry pan with a little hot olive oil. If you aren't concerned with cholesterol, a pat or two of butter adds flavour.

Although it is not demanded, I like squeezing some lemon juice over the flesh side, not the skin side, of the fillets before frying. Four, nor more than five, minutes of sizzling per side is enough. Don't overcook.

The rice is basmati. It is possibly my favourite. It makes a tasty and contrasting bed for the fish. Use a quarter cup of rice to half a cup of rapidly boiling water for each serving. After adding the rice to the boiling water, stir to break up any clumps, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Check after fifteen minutes. You don't want the rice sticking to the pot. When done, only a few more minutes, put the lid on the pot and set aside. This is ready to serve.

The asparagus takes a minute on high in a microwave oven. If it's really fresh, don't worry about peeling except for possibly the bottom three inches of each stalk and only if the stalks appear thick and tough.

I pan-fried some cherry tomatoes in a small fry pan with a little olive oil to serve over the fish at the table. The tomatoes add bursts of flavour. I added some pistachios to the pan at the last moment. I wanted the nuts to be hot like the rest of the meal but I didn't want the nuts to burn. Heat the tomatoes and nuts after the fish has been flipped. With luck all will come together at the same moment.

The sauce was made from a couple of cloves of minced garlic, about an eighth of a cup of coarsely chopped sun dried tomatoes, a dozen halved cherry tomatoes, two ounces of milk and some chopped, fresh tarragon to taste. I used the leaves from about five small sprigs.

These sun dried tomatoes are really fine.
The chopped garlic sizzled for about thirty seconds in some hot olive oil at the bottom of a small pot. Before it could even turn golden, the chopped sun dried tomatoes were added. Everything was stirred to prevent food sticking to the pot.

After about a minute, I added the halved cherry tomatoes and kept stirring. The tomatoes began breaking down and all began to bubble. I added the milk and then blended all with my KitchenAid hand blender. Don't over blend. You want some chunkiness.

Finally, I added the chopped tarragon and turned down the heat. You must taste to determine if more tarragon or salt is needed.

I made the sauce earlier in the day and then reheated it at dinner time. The rice was put on the stove about fifteen minutes before the fish was slid into the fry pan. This made putting dinner together quite easy.

I waited until I had flipped over the fish, then I heated about ten cherry tomatoes in a little hot oil in a small fry pan. Shaking the pan kept the little tomatoes rolling and heating evenly. Before serving the rice, drop the pistachios into the pan with the cherry tomatoes.

Now assemble the meal. Spoon some rice onto each plate, lay a rainbow trout fillet onto the rice, drizzle a little sauce on each fillet, add the asparagus and finally spoon some hot, cherry tomatoes and pistachio nuts onto the fish. You may find you have to add some more salt and pepper at the table.

Ingredient List - for two

2 thawed rainbow trout fillets about six ounces each
1 lemon
Possibly 2 pats of butter depending upon dietary demands
olive oil, use your discretion as to amount
1/2 cup of dry, basmati rice
1 cup of cold water
8 stalks of asparagus
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/8th cup of sun dried tomatoes coarsely chopped
10 gm of pistachio nuts and if large, halved
2 dozen or so of cherry tomatoes - a dozen halved, the remainder left whole
2 oz. of 1% or 2% milk
5 small sprigs of tarragon - leaves only - coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pasta with roasted and pan fried vegetables and feta


This recipe is based on a Weight Watchers recipe. I left the chopped rosemary out as a my wife finds the herb tastes like floor cleaner. I disagree but, as I am cooking for both of us, I defer and leave it out.

I also added to the recipe eight very large mushrooms, chopped into eights, four chopped, green onions, a sprinkle of cajun spice flavouring and one minced hot red pepper fried in olive oil.

Ingredients:

2 small zucchini (I have used both green and yellow zucchini. I like this with either.)
1 red bell pepper sliced into long strips about a quarter of in inch wide
1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes. Chop about half the tomatoes in half and leave the remainder whole.
2 tsps of chopped fresh rosemary if you like rosemary. Otherwise, leave this out.
2 medium garlic cloves, minced but not too fine
8 large, fresh mushrooms, chopped into eights
4 chopped green onions, keep some of the green stems for colour and flavour
Sprinkle of cajun spice
1 finely minced hot, red pepper
160 grams of rotini pasta
3 Tbsp of crumbles feta cheese

Directions:

Slice the red pepper into thick strips, about a quarter of an inch wide. Slice the zucchini into quarter inch thick disks. Toss both with a little olive oil, salt lightly and put all into a vegetable basket and place on a hot barbecue.

With the vegetables roasting, and a pot of water heating for the pasta, start prepping all the other ingredients: chop half the tomatoes in two, keep the other half intact, mince the 2 cloves of garlic, clean and chop the mushrooms into large chunks, chop the 4 green onions, finely mince the red, hot pepper and crumble 3 Tbsp. of feta cheese. Remember to flip the vegetable basket roasting on the barbecue if you haven't flipped it already. You do not want to burn the zucchini and the bell pepper. And start heating a little oil in a large fry pan.

By now the water should be boiling rapidly. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Now, dump the mushrooms into the pan of heated olive oil and begin pan frying them. Toss the mushroom chunks frequently. After about three minutes, push the mushrooms to the side and add the green onions. Fry for thirty seconds or so and then add the minced garlic. Do not let the garlic brown. You may find it necessary to add a few drops of oil to keep the onion/garlic frying and not burning. It will only take seconds to cook the garlic. Add the tomato, both the whole and halves, to the fry pan and toss all lightly.

Outside at the barbecue, sprinkle some cajun spice over the zucchini and red bell pepper. Keep the barbecue heat low. Inside, fry the finely minced hot, red pepper in a little oil. Don't burn. This only takes about thirty seconds.

The rotini should be done by now. Save a little pasta water, just in case, and drain the pasta. Add pasta to pan holding the fried mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions and garlic. Pour the mix of hot, red pepper and oil over the pan fried vegetables. Toss all lightly. If this is too dry, add a little pasta water. Now, add the zucchini and red, bell peppers from the barbecue. Toss all lightly and serve. At the table, add the crumbled feta cheese.

If you like rosemary, the addition of the rosemary adds a little extra depth and complexity. If you don't like hot, spicy food, take great care with the hot, red peppers. A one-inch pepper is enough for this entire dish for two. Too little red pepper is better than too much. If you'd like to add some extra flavour but no heat and no rosemary, I suggest adding an eighth of a cup of chopped sundried tomatoes to the chopped green onions when frying.

Judy and I had this tonight with a small glass of red wine. Don't laugh but for everyday use we find a box of a simple boxed wine, like Jackson Triggs Shiraz, perfectly adequate. For dessert we had some cubed cantaloupe. The cool fruit was perfect following the spicy pasta.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Snow Crab Pasta


Years ago, the '70s if I must get exact, I used to enjoy a snow crab appetizer at the Mount Pleasant Lunch in Toronto. It was wonderful and left me with wonderful memories of snow crab. I decided to come up with my own snow crab recipe to delight my wife.

I used frozen snow crab. Look for packages that promise lots of big chunks. I have found that the packages that favour snow crab slivers are more fishy tasting. I can't say this is a general rule, and sometimes it is impossible to apply as packages are sealed and opaque, but still this has been my experience. Good luck.

Ingredients (This recipe is for two. I'm a senior and I cook for myself and my wife.)

360 g of frozen snow crab (Big pieces, if possible.)
90 g of asparagus, chopped into large, one-inch, pieces (I used eight stalks tonight.)
150 g of rottini or penne pasta (I like these shapes for ease of mixing with the other ingredients.)
25 ml of butter or Becel (I use Becel to please my doctors.)
25 ml, or a bit more, of olive oil
3 or 4 chopped green onions (Use lots of the green if these are nice and fresh.)
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
6 ml of lemon zest (More can work but don't use less.)
25 ml of fresh squeezed lemon juice
25 ml (at the very least) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup of pasta water
1 finely chopped little, hot, red pepper (To be fried in a Tbsp of olive oil and poured over mixture.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with a slice of lemon.

First, boil the asparagus stalks for about thirty second and remove from the hot water using a slotted spoon. Do not over cook. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta to the water. Chop the warm asparagus and set aside.

Melt the butter or Becel in the fry pan with the 25 ml of olive oil. When hot, add the chopped green onions, minced garlic, and asparagus. Toss all together. Add the lemon zest and set aside.

When the pasta is done, again, don't over cook. Add the hot pasta to the fry pan along with two ounces of the pasta water. Add the chopped parsley. Add the chunks of snow crab. Add the lemon juice and grated Parmesan by sprinkling both all over the top. Toss everything as it heats. Set aside but for just a moment. Don't let this cool.

In a small fry pan, quickly fry the minced, hot, red pepper. I find one, and only one, of these one-inch wonders is enough. Some folk find these quite hot. Almost deadly. Use discretion. Frying the chopped pepper will take but seconds. Maybe thirty or forty. Pour the hot oil with the chopped pepper over the snow crab/pasta mix and toss all over the heat. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a little extra Parmesan.


A few baguette slices are nice on the table -- maybe with a little dipping sauce, too. And don't forget the white wine. I like something on the dry side. We are talking dry and not astringent.

Enjoy.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Grilled sourdough bread with feta, strawberries and basil

If I could recall the restaurant where I originally enjoyed this, I'd give the place and the chef credit. Sadly, I can't.

Each spring I take my granddaughters strawberry picking at one of the pick-your-own operations in the neighbourhood.

One of my favourite things to do with the oodles of strawberries is make feta cheese, strawberry and basil sandwiches using sourdough bread.

I've also tried this with soft, goat cheese. The picture shows this variation. But, I've decided I like the feta version best. That said, my granddaughter, Fiona, likes hers made with a mild Canadian cheddar. Adding a light patina of strawberry jam is optional but the kids love it.