how about a bite to eat?

With the fabulous hot weather we’ve enjoyed this summer, I’ve come to rely on great salad suppers. Perfect for using leftovers and keeping the heat off in the kitchen. Here are a couple I’ve put together lately, along with the recipe for an interesting dressing. I don’t think you need a recipe for salad. Basically any green base (romaine, spinach, arugula etc. or a mixture), assorted raw veggies (peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, snap peas etc.), possibly leftover cooked veggies (broccoli, carrots, beans, corn etc.), and a protein (beef steak, pork, shrimp, chicken, eggs, tofu, bacon). Sometimes I’ll throw in some nuts (pecans, walnuts, pine nuts or almonds) and a smattering of crumbled goat cheese. I think most things improve with a little goat cheese. Almost forgot, sometimes I add a little fruit – fresh or dried, and sometimes the nuts are candied. When I candy nuts I do a bunch and keep them in the freezer for just such occasions. This first salad has romaine, red peppers, pear and barbecued pork tenderloin with broccoli on the side. That actually looks a bit boring to me, but I remember it being tasty. Doesn’t look like the dressing had been added at this point – a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

salad with pork tenderloin

This dressing recipe comes from the “Cooking Fresh” magazine by Fine Cooking . You can see the full recipe  for Asian steak, watercress and spinach salad with hoisin vinaigrette here. I altered the recipe slightly since I wasn’t going shopping before dinner. We didn’t have any watercress or spinach in the house, and I refuse to use canned water chestnuts. I replaced half of the sesame oil with canola oil as I was afraid it would be too strong and thick. It was delicious.

Hoisin Vinaigrette

4 scallions (white and light green parts), minced

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tsp. hoisin sauce

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp. Asian sesame oil (I used one plus 1 of canola oil)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

salad with beefI love dinning on the deck. Calgary has short summers that must be taken advantage of!

easter and a ginger poundcake

I was looking for an excuse to include this recipe on my blog, and along came Easter. So, I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter – even if you don’t make this cake. If you don’t celebrate Easter, this recipe has absolutely nothing to do with Easter, so you can make it anyway. I hope I haven’t excluded anyone. Unless of course you don’t like ginger, and then why are we having this conversation? Please let me know if you try this recipe and what you think of it. (It will tell me a lot about you.)

easter tree

easter decorations

fabulous new egg

holiday dining – coffee cake

Christmas at our house was wonderful. It was certainly great having family around, although it was sad that not everyone could make it home. I tried to relax and not push myself past the limit of sanity, where I often hang out during the holidays.

It’s amazing how much of a role food plays in a family gathering. Christmas eve when my parents arrived we had an assortment of cheeses with crackers (some of my Seedy Crackers) for an afternoon snack. Dinner was a delicious spinach salad with home-made manicotti. At my house it pretty much goes without saying that everything is home-made. I don’t mean to be snobbish about it, but I’m not very keen on prepared food. (The big exception to this rule would be President’s Choice frozen puff pastry, since it’s made with butter and is fabulous.) The manicotti recipe is from McCall’s Cooking School, a recipe I first make about 35 years ago (but who’s counting?). I decided to bake a coffee cake for Christmas morning. It was a Browned Butter, Ginger and Sour Cream Coffee Cake that I found on Epicurious. You’ve got to love a recipe that starts with over a pound of butter being heated till it browns. OMG

Brunch consisted of Potato, Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Casserole and a big fruit salad. Lattes and cappuccinos all round as well. This was the first time I tried this recipe and I would rate it an unqualified success. As soon as brunch was over, we finished opening gifts and before you know it, it was time to start dinner.

Here’s a link to the manicotti recipe. And here’s the recipe for the coffee cake:

carrot ginger soup

from the Best Summer Weekends Cookbook by Jane Rodmell

makes about 8 servings

3 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. curry powder

6 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper

lemon or lime juice to taste

Heat butter, add onion and garlic. Cook until soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.  Add carrots, ginger and curry powder.  Toss over heat for a few minutes.  Add stock and seasoning and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender.  Puree soup. Add lemon or lime juice before serving.

Serve hot or chilled.

Optional: finish with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream