Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A week ago I took a spontaneous trip to Prince Edward Island.  I hadn’t been to the island in nearly fifteen years and I was keen to a do a little beach hopping, so I seized the opportunity to go.  With no plans in sight and little expectation, we managed to have one of the best getaways I’ve had in a longtime.  I am now determined to never plan a vacation again.  When nothing is expected everything is a wonderful surprise, much like today’s recipe, which is courtesy of the island.

Dates and Ginger

On one of the few sunny days I’ve had since arriving on the East Coast (I seem to curse this area of the world with rain every time I visit), we happened upon Dalvay House located just east of Charlottetown.  Built in 1896, the resort was at one time the summer home of the former president of Standard Oil, Alexander MacDonald.  Recently, Dalvay House became the host hotel to the Royals during their tour of the PEI countryside and to commemorate the happy event, the staff of Dalvay House placed a giant cardboard cutout of Will and Kate on the front porch.

Foamy Dates

I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.

Dry Ingredients

If getting a picture with the 2D couple is not enough for you, the adjacent gift shop is happy to supply you with an entire tea set bearing the same priceless shot of the happy couple.  But if you would rather get the full scoop, locate any member of the staff and they’ll be happy to give a full play by play of the royal visit.  I got the details at least half a dozen times in the course of 24 hours and I didn’t even have to ask.

Sticky Date Pudding

But enough about the royals, I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the food.  Dalvay House boasts one of the best restaurants on the island.  They make a point of showcasing the best local produce and seafood in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere.  Everything was amazing, but this Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce captured my heart completely.  The wait staff must have pick up on this intense bond (perhaps I was smacking my lips a touch too loudly), because they kindly offered me the recipe.  I was so taken aback by this gesture that I very nearly fell off my chair.  This would never ever have happened in Toronto, but in PEI, I suppose anything is possible.

Toffee Sauce

I replicated the recipe a few days after returning home and here it is in all its glory.  It wasn’t quite as good as the piece I had at Dalvay House, but it was pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me.  I followed the recipe quite faithfully, but I did swap in a little fresh ginger instead of the powdered.   I’m madly in love with in ginger, in case you were wondering.

Please make this!  Please, please, please!  Would it help if I told you Prince William ate it?

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Honestly, its so moist and delicious; so wonderfully naughty that it’s well worth the effort.  I have a feeling this pudding is going to be a very cozy companion come fall.  Oh, and word to the wise, this dessert was made to be enjoyed with a good single malt scotch.   They go together so well that I added a little scotch to the sauce.  Shhh, don’t tell!

Enjoy!

Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless

For Pudding:

1 ¾ cups packed pitted dates, coarsely chopped

2 cups water

1 ½ tsp baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp fresh ginger, pureed

½ tsp salt

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

For Sauce:

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)

Directions:

Pudding – Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Place dates, water, and ginger in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove heat from pan and stir in baking soda.  Mixture will foam.

Let mixture stand for 20 minutes.

While you’re waiting, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until just combined.

Add date mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan.  Add enough hot water to the large baking pan to reach half way up the sides of the smaller baking pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

When done, remove pudding from water bath to cool.

Serve with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Toffee Sauce – In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.

Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.

Add cream and scotch and reduce heat.

Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.  About five minutes.

Cool sauce slightly and pour over squares of pudding.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

IMG_3678

I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

IMG_3695

Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Purple and White Cabbage

Today’s recipe made an appearance at my brother’s birthday bash this past weekend and while it can certainly stand alone as a perfectly seductive side, I choose to used it as a topping for a saucy pulled pork sandwich.  Sadly, you won’t find the pulled pork recipe in this post; I’m saving that for later.   I thought I’d get the less interesting component out of the way first and wow you with the sandwich later.

Shredded Carrots

I’m trying to build hype.  Is it working?

I also thought you might like a break from the boozy decadence that has recently invaded my blog, much to the chagrin of my waistband.   I thought this might be a good way to illustrate that I do still possess a small amount of will power and I’m still as health conscious as ever… just ignore the fact that this coleslaw dressing is mayonnaise based.  Okay?

Green Onions

Look!  Green things!  Aren’t you proud?!

I apologize for pulling the whole annoying cliffhanger thing on you, but I promise you’ll get closure eventually.  This won’t be anything like the last episode of My So Called Life. I promise I will not leave you with endless questions that wind up haunting you for an embarrassingly long time.

Seriously!  Did she choose Jordan or Brian?!  Someone has to tell me!

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Not only does this zippy little coleslaw contain all the makings of a damn good slaw, it has a few finer details.  The dressing contains jalapenos and cilantro, the slaw itself is studded with pepitas and the dish is accented with a splash of lime juice that brightens the overall flavor.  The pepitas deliver a different kind of crunch than the cabbage, making for a very satisfying contrast of textures.  I’ve never put nuts or seeds in any of my coleslaws before, but I can guarantee you this will not be the last time I do.  The jalapenos deliver a hint of spiciness, while the cilantro is savory and cooling.  All in all this taste profile makes for a very interesting slaw, one that I will no doubt be repeating over and over again.

Pepitas

This coleslaw was made for the summer and with the summer days threatening to leave us for another whole year, I suggest you strike while the iron is hot (believe me, it really is hot, my air conditioner is broken) and whip this little number up for you and your lucky dinner guests.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Give it a try!

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw: Serves 12

½ purple cabbage, chopped

½ white cabbage, chopped

2 cups carrots, shredded

½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

12 stalks green onion, sliced

2 jalapenos, diced

1 cup unsalted pepitas

1 cup of buttermilk

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo)

3 tbsp sweet relish

1 tbsp vinegar

Juice of one lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl toss cabbage, carrots, green onions and pepitas together until combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together, mayonnaise, buttermilk, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, relish and vinegar until combined.

Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.

Taste and season with salt and pepper according to preference.

Chill until ready to serve.

Epic Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Finally, I am back to share the rest of that epic recipe I hinted at in my previous post.  Thank you for your patience.

IMG_3970

I’ve been playing hooky all week.

I realize that most of the recipes I post on this blog reference some fond childhood memory.  Now, either I didn’t frown until I was fourteen or I have a tendency to glaze over the less desirable parts of my early years.  Since I photographic proof that I was an excellent pouter before the age of two, I’ll blame it on rosy nostalgia.  But this soup is my childhood, or it at least occupies a very happy corner of it.

Mushrooms steaming

Whenever my mother and I miraculously found ourselves home alone we would steal away to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant up the street from my childhood home.  There we would indulge in an order of Shanghai Noodles and a bowl of wonton soup.  Their wontons were deliciously meaty, bursting with filling and flavored to perfection.  Sadly, their food has gone downhill.  Instead of providing their costumers with amazing food on the cheap, they are now, quite simply cheap.  But that’s okay, because now that I can conduct myself in the kitchen without trying to sample raw meat (I was a weird child) I can make it myself.  So my mother and I rolled up our sleeves and set about making this rather epic wonton soup.

Mushrooms

Now, it’s difficult to provide an accurate recipe, as my mother does not measure or weight any of her ingredients.  The magic of her cooking is in her intuition.  To my mother cooking is a creative endeavor and who has time to be bogged down by numbers when you’re in the midst of creating a masterpiece?

This may be why my mother has never been much of a baker.

Black Fungus (More delicious than it sounds)

Also, my mother has an extensive collection of fancy dried fungi.  This is black fungus. You don’t have to use all the varieties I have listed.  A medley of dried mushrooms, which you can find easily in your local supermarket, should do the trick.

Wonton Filling

Anyway, here’s the recipe as best I can recall.  Follow these steps and I’m sure you’ll get something delicious.  The broth is a hybrid of several different Asian soups, so if you want something authentic please look elsewhere.

Wonton

It may look like a lot of work, but if you’re smart about it (we weren’t) it’s not so bad.  Make the wontons several days before, freeze them and you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.  We garnished our soups with slices of this tenderloin and steamed Chinese broccoli, but feel free to change them up.  I think bok choy would be lovely.

Epic Wonton Soup

Enjoy our zippy little concoction.

Epic Wonton Soup: Serves 8-12 or a small army

For The Wontons:

800g wonton wrappers

¼ pound ground pork

¼ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 stalks green onion, cut into thirds

½ cup of water chestnuts

2 eggs, divided

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp ginger

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp five spice powder

2 tbsp sherry

¼ cup soy sauce

4 tsp sesame oil

For the Broth:

2 cups boiling water

1 cup dried mushroom medley (try to get one with shitake mushrooms)

25g black fungus (more delicious than it sounds)

25g yellow fungus

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 cups chicken stock

1 red sweet pepper

2 stalks green onion, sliced

1 cup water chestnuts

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

WONTONS:

Place pork, shrimp, onion, water chestnuts, one egg, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, five-spice-powder, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil in a food processor.

Pulse until all ingredients come together and are evenly distributed throughout.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg and water and set aside.

Place a wonton wrapper on a dry, clean cutting board.

Dip you finger in the egg mixture and trace one corner of the wonton.

Place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Fold wrapper corner to corner so it forms a triangle.

Seal wonton by pressing the edges.  Be sure to remove as much air from the center of the wonton as possible.

Place a small amount of the egg mixture on the bottom corners of your wrapper and fold the corners toward the center, hugging the encased filling.

Repeat until you run out of wrappers.  Set aside until ready to cook.

BROTH:

In a large bowl place dried mushrooms and black and yellow fungi.

Douse with boiling water.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting, heat peanut and sesame oil over medium high heat in a large stockpot.

Once the oil begins to shimmer, add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is slightly translucent.  About five minutes.

Add white wine, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

Bring mixture to a boil then add chicken stock.

Once the mushrooms are soft, drain them using a fine mesh strainer.  Reserve the water.

Add mushroom broth to the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 -20 minutes.

Chop reserved mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the water chestnuts.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and slowly pour beaten egg into the soup.  Add wontons.

Once the wontons start to rise to the top, add green onions and red pepper.

Cook for three minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with steamed Chinese broccoli and slices of Asian BBQ pork tenderloin.

*Be sure not to over cook the wontons or you’ll never forgive yourself.

Asian BBQ Pork Tenderloin

BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

I’ve been back in Nova Scotia for a week now and I am happy to report I have been cooking up a storm. We’ve been in Halifax for just a few days and my mother and I have already developed a lovely daily ritual. It starts with a run in the morning (to combat all we’ve been eating), shopping in the afternoon (consequently, I’m broke) and an evening of white wine and cooking. The success of our cooking is often dependent on the amount of wine we drink, but for the most part our culinary exploits have yielded some amazing results. I’m sorry to keep so many wonderful recipes from you, but I’ve been too busy catching up and bonding with my mom to be incessantly snapping photos. My ravenous family also seems to object to waiting for their food while I try to get a glamour shot out of it.
Ginger, garlic, green onion

This pork tenderloin, on the other hand, was just too good! I felt obligated to share it with you. It’s actually apart of a much larger recipe but, you’ll have to wait on that, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

Marinade

My mother cooked a lot of Asian-inspired dishes while I was growing up. How a woman from PEI managed to accumulate such an impressive repertoire of Asian recipes is beyond me, but this book may have something to do with it.

Many of my childhood favorites were adapted from this book and I’m pretty sure this picture is responsible for my melon ball obsession.

 

My mother never strove for authenticity, she strove for flavor. I’ve never seen someone so fearless in the kitchen. A quick taste and she knows exactly what to do. There is no second-guessing or thinking out loud, just a swift movement to the fridge or cabinet to track down exactly what the recipe needs.
Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin was intended to be char sui, despite being the wrong cut of meat for such an occupation. That intent quickly went out the window. My mother’s fridge is always stocked with any Asian condiment you could think of, so like a kid in candy store I let my taste be my guide and this is what I came up with. My mother ensured it was BBQ’d to perfection and it was easily the most beautifully cooked piece of pork I’ve had in a long time.
Asian BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

While it’s certainly not authentic Chinese fare, it’s exactly like most of the food I grew up on. It’s no wonder I have such a love for fusion cuisine. Be sure to give it a try before BBQ season is over.
BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

Enjoy!

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Tenderloin: Serves 4
1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sriracha sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Place tenderloin in a large zip-lock bag and pour marinade over the meat.
Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better.
When ready to cook turn your BBQ to high heat.
Remove pork from marinade and pat dry.
Reserve the marinade for basting.
Sear the tenderloin on all sides. About three minutes a side for a total of 12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 12 minutes. Continue to rotate the meat every three minutes, basting often.
Remove meat from heat and tent with tin foil and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Slice and serve.

Everyday Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Life on the farm can sometimes feel like a marathon, an incredibly pleasant marathon, but I marathon none-the-less.  Several of my family members have cottages on the property and, since this place is considered to be party central, my social calendar is more active here in the boonies, than it is in the fast paced city.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Yesterday I was subjected to an afternoon of Caesars in the sun, followed by a lobster dinner!  This morning I woke up early to make pastry for a birthday brunch for my cousin, I’m told there’s an epic card game on the horizon and, of course, we must take advantage of high tide.

Fresh Veggies

My life is so hard!

It’s lovely visiting various branches of the family and staying this active, but I can’t help but feel slightly frazzled.  I don’t like to neglect my blog duties, but unfortunately the Internet up here is shoddy at best and my cell phone is currently about as useful as a paperweight.  It’s nice to throw off the shackles of the modern world, but it can be detrimental when you’re cyber life is so active. I’m not one to complain, I’m extremely happy to be here, but if I seem slightly distracted you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve made plans with eight different relatives today.

Feta

Somehow I managed to throw together this pasta salad together yesterday and I’m so glad I found the time.  It’s a bit of a fusion dish; vaguely Italian with Asian undertones.  I know it’s strange but, yes, the two can coexist.  Oh, and I guess the feta makes a little bit Greek, so this salad is a mutt, just like me.  Since Mutt Pasta Salad doesn’t have such a good ring to it, I feel Everyday Pasta Salad is just as fitting a title and a whole lot more appetizing.

Crumbled Feta

Pasta salad is among my favorite summertime dishes.  It’s easy to make, it improves after sitting over night, and it’s easily the most refreshing solution to even your most dire summertime food emergencies.

Pasta Salad

So, throw this together this weekend, just in time for the eight BBQs you agreed to attend.

Enjoy!

Everyday Pasta Salad: Serves 6-8

4 cups uncooked pasta

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 cup feta, crumbled

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cucumber, diced

½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lime

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil over medium high heat.

Salt the water and add the pasta.

Cook for 9-12 minutes until tender.

Drain and coat pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Set aside to cool.

When pasta is cool, place  it in a large bowl and add veggies, cheese and cilantro.

Add lime, ginger, and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Phew!

I just finished writing six articles for a soon to be launched nutrition website and my brain is so fried that I’m having difficulty spelling three letter words. So, you’ll have to forgive me if this post doesn’t quite make sense. It’s a good thing today’s recipe was a breeze. Seriously! It’s so simple a monkey could’ve done it… preferably while wearing a full body hair net.
Granny Smith Apples and Red Onion

Pita pizzas are so simple and homey. They saved my life in university.

These adorable little pizzas are cozy food. The kind of food you eat in sock feet while watching reruns of The West Wing… okay so, maybe that’s just me. These pita pizzas are topped with sautéed apples and red onions with a sprinkling of bacon and cheddar cheese. Once again that magical salty, sweet flavor has stolen my heart. My beau was hesitant at first, because he doesn’t really like the texture of cooked apples (applesauce is his arch nemesis) but, the pizza was sporting a few pieces of bacon so, he couldn’t say no. It’s against his religion.
Sautéed Apples and Red Onion

By the way, don’t leave the bacon out. Mmmm! Sweet, salty and smokey all at the same time! These pizzas have it all. My beau loved them so much he told me not to put them on the blog; he decided they were too good to share, but I’m not one to deprive others of good food so, have at it!

Apples and Red Onion

Now that I’ve completely run out of words, I’m going to leave it here to avoid drooling on my keyboard.
Pita Pizza with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Try this pita pizza. It’s totally delicious, quick and tasty!  Like totally!

Oh gosh! I’ve turned into a Valley girl… I gotta go!

Enjoy!

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon: Makes 2 pizzas
2 pitas
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
½ red onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced (divided)
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of cloves
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°
Place the onion and apple in a large bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili pepper flakes, salt and 2 cloves of garlic. Toss to coat.
Melt butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add apple and onion mixture and sauté until the apples are tender. About five minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the pitas with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with the remainder of the garlic.
Top pitas with apples and onions and sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
Bake in the oven for five minutes then turn the oven to broil (keeping a close eye on them) for 1-2 minutes.
Slice into quarters and serve.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

IMG_4210

This recipe was the result of a shopping trip I took to St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.  While I would love to be virtuous and say I frequent the Market for its fantastic produce, that would be a downright lie.  It’s not that the produce at the market is bad, far from it, I just happen to find the Peameal Bacon Sandwiches and the stinky cheeses much more alluring.

Mushrooms

Every market is magical in it’s own way, whether it be large or small, but St. Lawrence Market is remarkable in it’s variety; you can find just about anything there.  One shop had well over thirty kinds of flour.

Mushrooms and Rosemary

There is nothing quite like wandering past shops offering up products that were so lovingly crafted; something as simple as a handmade croissant represents years of training, trial and error and passionate perseverance.  Each product tells a personal story.  Try getting something like that from your local grocery store.

Smoked Gouda

I wandered past my favorite cheese shop to pick up a little smoked Gouda and that’s when inspiration hit.  I ran home and made this Smoked Gouda Fusilli with little hesitation and I’m so glad I did; it garnered rave reviews from my beau.  This dish was as comforting as macaroni and cheese, but twice as flavorful.  The addition of sautéed mushrooms brought a new level of decadence to the dish and the red pepper gave the meal a sweet counterbalance to the salty, smokiness of the sauce.  The smoked Gouda melted smoothly into the silky white sauce and coated each piece of Fusilli beautifully.  The smokiness of the cheese was even more apparent after it had melted into the sauce.   Oh, and please don’t skimp on the black pepper; it gives the dish a certain something.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

Smoky and seductive, this pasta dish is familiar enough to be comforting, but unique enough to raise a few eyebrows. For this recipe I got my inspiration from Victor’s cooking blog.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli: Serves 4

375g dried whole wheat Fusilli

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced

½ red bell pepper, diced

1 ½ tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 ½ tbsp whole grain mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Liberally salt the water and add pasta.

Cook according to package directions or until al dente.

Drain and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat.

Add mushrooms, red pepper and rosemary.  Sauté until tender.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter over moderate heat.

Whisk in the flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in milk until combined.

Cook until slightly thickened.

Reduce heat and whisk in cheese, stirring constantly until melted and fully incorporated.

Add mushrooms, pepper and rosemary to the sauce and stir to combine.

Pour over pasta and toss until coated.

Serve immediately with extra Gouda.

 

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

I know you guys are probably getting tired of all this ‘resourceful in the kitchen’ nonsense.   You’re probably asking yourself, “Man, does this chick ever have food in her kitchen?”

onion skin

Well, I do buy groceries, I promise, but without fail by the end of the week I’m scrounging.   Oddly enough the meals I don’t plan to make often turn out the most blog worthy (go figure).  But, I do have a personal mission to be as resourceful in the kitchen as possible.  I want to be able to make something amazing out of a ridiculous hodgepodge of ingredients like it ‘aint no thang!  What it really comes down to is I hate waste, I love creativity and can’t abide bad food.  Simple really.

Last night, I almost didn’t pull it off.  I was feeling creatively drained and since the beau’s birthday is tomorrow I knew I had a lot of cooking and baking ahead of me (not that that’s a hardship), so I was considering conserving my energy by ordering a pizza.  But then I thought of dear Audrey in Sabrina, and I managed pulled this little number together.

Tuna, zucchini, capers, lemon

Have you ever seen the movie Sabrina, the original with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart?  Well do remember the part where Sabrina somehow makes dinner for Linus out of maraschino cherries, stale crackers, tomato juice, puffed rice and sardines?  Of course we never see the finished product, but I spent a large portion of my adolescence trying to figure what she could’ve concocted and I still have nothing.  Anyway, for some reason that part of the movie stuck with me (clearly I was born to be a food nerd) and out of that simple scene my life long ambition to make something out of nothing took root.

zucchini

So here is my riff on Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with butter and onion that has been floating around the blogisphere for sometime now.  I of course ignored the simplistic beauty of the recipe by adding a bunch of other stuff (I always take things a step too far), but I was quite pleased with the results.  My beau said it was his new favorite pasta sauce.  I nodded and smiled stoically, while I did back flips of joy in my head!  My love is a man of few words, so when I get a compliment I know he means it!

lemon, capers

In the recipe they suggest you discard the onion, but why waste something so delicious.  I served it atop the pasta, but I think placing it on garlic bread would be unbelievable as well.  So many options, so little stomach space.

Onion

So, so yummy and relatively summer friendly!

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers: Serves 4-6

Loosely adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan via Steamy Kitchen

1 can crushed tomatoes

5 tbsp salted butter

1 medium sized onion, peeled and halved

1 can flaked tuna, drained

2 tbsp capers, drained

1 zucchini, shredded

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Zest of half a lemon

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Garnish:

Splash of balsamic

Fresh parsley

Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Place tomatoes, butter and onion in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low and cook for 35 minutes.

Place shredded zucchini in a small bowl and toss with salt (the salt will extract moisture). Set aside for ten minutes.

Transfer the zucchini to cheesecloth and squeeze out excess moisture.  Set Aside.

When the 35 minutes is up check the sauce. Remove onion.

Add sugar and balsamic and stir to combine.

Stir in tuna, zucchini, capers and lemon zest and cook for an additional ten minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice (I used bucatini) and top with onion.

Serve with fresh parsley, ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic.