Panzanella Salad

I failed rather badly at making bread. So I had a surplus of croutons. And while I could possibly quite happily live off bread pudding, conscience dictates that I have at least one vegetable in my kitchen. At some point. Enter panzanella salad.

Ingredients
Bread
3 heirloom tomatoes
2 bell peppers
a handful of kalamata olives
1/2 of a red onion
6 slices of bacon
2 tea spoon of dijon mustard
2 1/2 table spoon balsamic vinegar
4 table spoon olive oil
salt and pepper
ingredients

***

1. Cut the bread into cubes. Aim for about 4 cups by volume.
cubes

2. Spread on a baking tray and toast at 350F until well dry and starting to get toasted. Allow to cool.
toast

3. Slice the tomatoes into wedges, removing the hard stem. Put into a colander over a bowl with a pinch of salt. Allow the juices to drain for 15 minutes.
drain

4. While the tomatoes drain, cut the bell peppers into bite sizes, finely chop the olives and slice the red onion very thinly. Combine in a large bowl.
veggies

5. Cook the bacon until crispy and set aside to cool.
bacon

6. Transfert the tomatoes to the salad bowl.
tomatoes

7. Add the mustard, vinegar, and oil to the collected tomato juice. Grind plenty of black pepper into the bowl.
dressing1

8. Whisk to combine.
dressing2

9. Add the bread cubes to the salad bowl.
bread

10. Pour the dressing over the bowl and toss to combine.
pour

11. Chop the bacon and stir it in.
bacon2

12. Divide into plates and serve.
serve

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Lo Mai Gai (Sticky Chicken Rice)

The sticky rice parcels are always my favourite dish when I go and eat Dim Sum.

Technically these should be wrapped in lotus leaves, but I have been betrayed by every single Asian market I visited in the city. Parchment paper works fine, but you lose some of the aromas.

The packets, once cooked, can be cooled down and frozen. Then grabbed from the freezer and thrown back into the steamer for a week-night meal with zero brain power involved.

Yields 6 packets, could be stretched easily to 8.

Ingredients

4 cups sweet rice (glutinous rice)
2-3 Chinese sausages halved then sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Vegetable oil
For the Chicken :
3 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 tea spoon corn starch
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
1/2 tea spoon Mirin
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
1/2 tea spoon fresh ground pepper
2 pinches of salt

Rice seasoning :
1 tea spoon mirin
2 tea spoon toasted sesame oil
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
couple of pinches of dried mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped

ingredients

***

1. Cover the rice with water and allow to soak a minimum of 4 hours, preferable overnight.
soak

2. Combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade in a bowl.
marinade

3. Remove any gristle from the chicken thighs and cut into thin strips.
chicken1

4. Toss with the marinade, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
marinade2

5. In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients for the rice seasoning.
sauce

6. In a different bowl, put the dried mushrooms.
mushrooms

7. And cover with hot water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes
mushrooms2

8. Drain and chop the mushrooms.
mushrooms3

9. Drain the rice. Take your time and remove as much water as possible.
drain

10. Add the seasoning mix and stir to coat the rice.
season

11. Throw in the shallots and mushrooms.
combine

12. Stir to distribute.
combine2

13. In a skillet, warm the oil and add the garlic.
stuffing1

14. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring all the while, until some caramelization starts.
stuffing2

15. Add the Chinese sausages.
stuffing3

16. As soon as the chicken is barely cooked through, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
stuffing4

17. Get ready to assemble! Scoop 1/2 a cup of the rice in the middle of a parchment paper sheet, closer to the bottom.
assemble1

18. Spoon some of the chicken and sausage mixture over the rice.
assemble2

19. Scoop another 1/2 cup of rice on top.
assemble3

20. Fold the bottom over the rice, then both sides in snugly (fold the edges of the right and left sides if the paper is too wide). Stand the packet straight and shake the rice to the bottom to make sure everything is compact. Fold the top part over (folding the edges if too long). Secure with kitchen twine. Repeat as needed until you run out of rice and/or stuffing.
fold

21. Put the packets in the basket of a steamer for 90 minutes. If you have bamboo steamers, go ahead and use those. Check on the water every 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
steamer

22. Once the time is up the rice should have plumped up nicely.
steamed

23. Cut open to reveal the delicious content. Because I stuff them on their sides one part of the packet ends up having more sauce/caramelization. If using stacked bamboo steamers, this would not be an issue.
open

24. The rice should pull away to reveal the stuffing.
open+stuffing

25. Any portions you don’t plan to eat right away can be put on a cooling rack and chilled.
cooling-tray

26. Then wrapped in plastic wrap and put into a freezer bag for future eating.
freeze

Vietnamese style iced coffee

Perfectly cold and sweet and creamy. A coffee drink made for summer.

Ingredients
Coffee
Boiling water
Sweetened condensed milk
Milk (to taste)
Ice
ingredients

***

1. Brew strong coffee. I prefer using a French Press. I also brew about a litre worth (several brews, my press is small) and pour it in a bottle to be kept in the fridge.
brew

2. Once your coffee is good and ready (and, in my case, cold), put the sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of a glass. Add ice.
glass

3. Pour the coffee over the ice.
pour

4. Stir to combine. Adjust to taste. If you don’t want more sugar add regular milk.
stir

Sausage and Fennel Seeds Pasta

This a delicious pasta dish that makes for a difference on a tomato sauce based dish. Packed with flavours and reheats well.

Ingredients:
1 box of rotinis
1 portion of sausage mix
2 sweet yunnan peppers
2 table spoon fennel seeds
1 cup vermouth
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 table spoon dried oregano
1 package of frozen spinach
Parmesan, to taste
Olive oil
ingredients

***

1. In a mortar and pestle, combine the yunnan peppers and the fennel seeds.
spices

2. Crush until the peppers are broken apart and the seeds start breaking up. Set aside.
spices2

3. In a large skillet, heat some of the olive oil. Add the pork and break any large clumps. Get your pasta started.
sausage1

4. When all of the pork is getting colour, add the fennel seeds and peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, you want the meat to caramelize.
sausage2

5. Pour the vermouth and lemon juice over the meat. Add the lemon zest. Cook down until the liquid reduces by half.
liquids

6. Add the dried oregano and spinach. Cover so the spinach thaws faster.
spinash

7. Your pasta should be ready so drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Stir the thawed spinach in with the meat.
cooked

8. Stir in the cooked pasta. If it looks dry add some of the cooking water. Grate parmesan on top to taste.
pasta

9. Serve with more grated parmesan
serve2

Sausage mix

A great substitute for anything that involves pulling sausages out of their casing. Make sure you get fresh ground meat, not made from previously frozen parts.

Ingredients :
3-4 lb of ground pork
2 table spoon red chili flakes
2 table spoon coriander seeds
2 table spoon paprika
3-4 table spoon fennel seeds
ingredients

***

1. Grind and combine all the spices.
soices

2. Add about 2 table spoon of the spice mix per pound of ground meat.
combine

3. Mix to combine and portion off in freezer bags. Throw them in the freezer and pull out as needed.
portion

Pearl Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

This makes for good lunches because it keeps for a while, a nice side dish, or an interesting offering in a potluck. Most importantly it’s easy and quick to get together.

Adapted from Foodiecrush.

Ingredients:
2 cups pearl couscous
1 cup dried apricot
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted, unsalted)

For the dressing:
1 french shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
2 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tea spoon dijon mustard
2 tea spoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
ingredients

***

1. Combine the dressing ingredients.
dressing

2. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
smooth-dressing

3. Cook the pearl couscous (like pasta) until done but it still has a bit of texture. Drain and coat with the dressing,
add-dressing

4. Cut the dried apricots into smaller pieces. Add the cranberries. I aim for roughly 1 1/2 cup of dried fruits total.
dried-fruits

5. Add the fruits to the couscous.
add-fruits

6. Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds.
nuts

7. Mix well to combine and transfer to a serving bowl. This can be eaten cold or warm.
serve

Blood Orange Lemonade

I wanted something like the Ginger Lemonade but without going out into the cold to buy the ginger syrup. So I made it myself. I also added the juice of blood oranges, since they are in season.

Ingredients for the syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
zest of 1 lemon
A large root of ginger
2 yunnan peppers

Ingredients for the lemonade:
1 1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of blood orange juice
4 cups of water
ingredients

***

1. In a sauce pot, combine the ingredients for the syrup.
syrup1

2. Bring to a boil. Then remove from the heat and allow to steep as it cools.
syrup2

3. Strain out and set aside.
syrup3

4. Squeeze the lemon juice (takes about a 2lb bag of lemons). Strain out the pits and the pulp.
lemonjuice

5. Repeat with the blood oranges.
orangejuice

6. Combine in a pitcher. Add the water and 1 cup of the spiced simple syrup. Mix well. Serve over ice.
pitcher