Dinner Made Easy

12 Jul
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven roasting brings out the incredible flavour of tomatoes and is a great method for intensifying the sweetness of just about any vegetable.  Pair some roasted vegetables with either grilled fish, chicken or steak, and some kind of salad (click here and here).  Your family or guests will be impressed!

OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES AND MUSHROOMS  (serves 4):

Ingredients:

  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 16 white mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or red-pepper flakes if you like it hot

Directions:

  1. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Toss everything in a large bowl and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft but still hold their shape.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm or at a room temperature.
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Canada’s Largest City is Now The Wettest – Toronto Storm

10 Jul
Getting ready for blackout with some coffe-flavoured Patron and sheesha

Getting ready for blackout with some coffe-flavoured Patron and sheesha

It has been a wet summer indeed but Monday storm was out of the ordinary!

I  was heading for my Hot Yoga class with a friend on Monday just as the storm was starting.   The rain was coming in Biblical proportions and I was seriously considering staying home.  My friend laughed off my concerns saying that we are going to get wet anyway.  Well, wet we got!  We walked to the studio in a gushing ankle-deep water and arrived fully soaked (even my family-sized umbrella didn’t help!).   Surprisingly, the class was full 🙂  As we got to the floor series of poses the power in the studio was out – we finished our class in complete darkness and without the heat.  Luckily my place had electricity but no hot water.  I didn’t get it back until 2 pm Tuesday – our basement became flooded and building management shut off the hot water tank as a precaution.   My friend spend the rest of her evening in a coffee shop as her place didn’t have power and she couldn’t even charge her phone.

But I can’t complain about my misadventure considering many people had it much worse.  Toronto got a record-breaking 126 mm of rain onto which flooded the city within 1 hour.  About 300,000 homes and business were without power, some of them are still without electricity even today.

There was no subway service and GO trains were stranded at some stations. Water was up to the lower deck windows, some passengers were rescued by the police Marine Unit by floating devices, then they were talking about getting the upper deck passengers out by Zip line… I am attaching some photos of the disaster taken by my friends:

Flooded subway in Toronto

Flooded subway in Toronto

This was only half the line for a shuttle bus! The line went around the corner and up the stairs outside!

Latest news – Environment Canada just issued another severe thunderstorm watch expected later this afternoon. Toronto, brace yourself one more time!

 

 

 

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

5 Jul

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

This is one of my favourite salads, I have it at least 4 times a week 🙂

Blue Cheese goes very well with any nuts and berries or fruit.  Strawberries, melon, or peaches make suitable stand-in.  I’ve used different nuts  – almonds, pecans, and pistachios.

The combination of all ingredients is exquisite and just right for a festive table.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you like)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 large red or green pear (quartered, cored, and cut into thin slices)
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 bag pre-washed baby spinach
  • 3 oz Blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, no more than 4 minutes.l
  2. Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl.  Stir in the onion, then the pear and raisins.  Add the spinach and toss to coat.
  3. Divide the salad among plates and top each with the reserved walnuts and Blue cheese before serving.

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

1 Jul

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

It’s a long weekend in Canada!  I just came back from a 3-day stay in Mont-Tremblant where I had this wonderful and colorful salad.  The ingredients are simple but full on flavor.  It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish.

Millet has numerous health benefits but feel free can experiment with different grains; barley or quinoa will work equally well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked millet, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large orange, washed and unpeeled, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toast millet in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add water. Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and millet is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer millet to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and set aside to let cool.
  2. While your millet is cooking preheat the oven to 450 F.
  3. Lay the fennel, olives and orange slices into a pan and pour 2 tbsp olive oil over the top; toss with your hands
  4. Place in the oven to roast for about 35 minutes, or until fennel has softened and browned around the edges.
  5. Transfer the cooled millet into a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with white wine vinegar and pour over the millet; stir to combine.
  6. .Fold roasted fennel, olives and orange the millet. Add salt and pepper, stir and serve.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander (I didn’t have any this time).

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

Steamed Asparagus With Poached Egg and Pesto

18 Jun

Asparagus with Poached Egg

I had this one night as a light dinner when I hardly had anything in my fridge.  I wouldn’t even call it a recipe as it is very easy to make.  For a bit more flavour add some lightly grilled prosciutto and/or Parmesan cheese.  It will be equally good for either breakfast or light lunch.

Ingredients (Serves 1):

  1. 1/2 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 tbsp pesto

Directions:

  • Fill a pot with water.  Make sure you don’t add too much water – you only need enough to create steam.  Place the asparagus in a steamer basket and put it inside the pot.  Cover with a lid a steam for a couple of minutes – your asparagus should look bright green.
  • Place it on a serving dish and top with a poached egg topped with pesto.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Thai-Style Soup with Corn and Seafood

10 Jun

Corn and eafood soup, Thai-style

I’ve made this recipe for a few years now and it’s always excellent.  I shared this recipe with my friend and her boyfriend proclaimed at first bite that this was by far the greatest soup she made! This soup makes great leftovers.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • ¼ canola oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 8 scallions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp reduced-sodium fish sauce
  • ¾ lb mixed seafood
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ tsp ground red pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place 1 ½ cups of the corns and ½ cups of the broth in food processor or blender.  Process until smooth and set aside
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and jalapeño pepper and cook for 3 minutes.  Add scallions and cook until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add fish sauce, reserved corn-broth mixture, and remaining corn and broth.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. Stir in seafood, cilantro, and red pepper (if using).

How I Beat My Post-Vacation Blues

6 Jun
This Holodetz is my cousin's creation - she made a Swan Lake out of it.

This Holodetz is my cousin’s creation – she made a Swan Lake out of it 🙂

I had a pretty full list of things-to-do after I came from my trip and I started right away playing catch-up, yet I never really caught up.  I wasn’t working on the things I really wanted to be working on, I was feeling guilty about not getting back to people, and I didn’t feel like the fact that I wasn’t making much progress. Plus I had a moderately busy calendar of social events for the last two weeks in May.  Then I caught myself having a terrible thought – no more long vacations this year 😦

To beat my post-vacation blues I decided to make some dishes that we ate in Ukraine and France.  One of them is Holodetz.  This cold appetizer is traditionally served on Easter, Christmas and New Year and is one of those dishes that people in North America strongly dislike.  This dish is eaten in Europe and  known as “studen’ or “zalivnoye”  in Russia, “galaretki” in Poland, “rǎcituri” in Romania, “aspik” in Germany, and “pitcha” to Ashkenazi Jews.

I believe the texture (jiggly) is the hardest thing to get past.  Even though people do eat Jello-Os the meat jelly is not very appealing to them.  I do think the dish is fairly healthy – fat is separated from the the meat and broth, all the ingredients are simple and healthy, and think of the protein!  Give yourself a little pep talk you may actually like it!

Ingredients:

2-3 pork or beef knee bones or feet

1 lb chicken thighs

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • several bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 sliced hard-boiled egg (for decoration)

Directions:

  1. Ask your butcher to chop the pork or beef foot (is using) in several pieces; wash well.
  2. Place the meat in a deep pot, cover with 1 1/2 amount of water.  Bring to a rapid boil and skim until clear.
  3. Tie the chopped onion, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns into a cheesecloth bag. Add the bag to the pot and cook on a very low heat for 4 hours or until meat has come off the bones.
  4. Remove the meat from the pot and let it cool.
  5. Discard the spice bag and strain the cooking liquid into a bowl. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper to the broth.  Strain the liquid  again and slightly cool in the fringe so you can scrape any solidified fat from the surface.
  6. Pick the meat from the bones and set it aside; discard the bones,  gristle, and chicken skin.
  7. Lay chopped meat, cooked carrot slices, and  egg slices and  in several serving bowls, pour the broth over and refrigerate until set.
  8. Serve with grated horseradish with beets or vinegar.
Our Easter appetizers

Our Easter appetizers

As Ukrainians say “Smachogo!” ( Bon Appetit!) 🙂

 

 

 

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