Orzo and tomatoes salad

A nice summer dish, Perfect for a potluck, for a pic-nic or to make easily carried lunches for the office.

Ingredients
500g orzo pasta
1 cup green peas (frozen)
3 bell peppers (varied colors)
1 bundle of green onions
1lb heirloom tomatoes (varied)
1/2 a bundle of parsley
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup + 2 table spoon olive oil
2 table spoon red wine vinegar
1 table spoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper
water
ingredients

***

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Pour the pasta into the water, stirring to avoid clumping. Cook for 15 minutes or so.
pasta1

2. In the last 2-3 minutes add the frozen peas.
pasta2

3. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
drain

4. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the 2 table spoon of olive oil and allow to cool fully.
cool

5. While the pasta is cooling, cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Grill until softened and nicely charred.
I kept the skin on for a bit of the smokiness, but you can remove it at this stage.
grill

6. Combine the grape seed oil, olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard.
dressing1

7. Shake well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
dressing2

8. Thinly slice the green onions, both white and green parts and add to the pasta.
green-onions

9. Cut the peppers into a large dice. Add to the orzo.
peppers

10. Chop the parsley and throw it in with the rest.
parsley

11. Cut the tomatoes into quarters (or into eighth if they are on the larger side). Remove the core and add to the bowl.
tomatoes

12. Mix in the dressing in two times to coat evenly.
mix

13. Plate and eat up.
As a side dish would probably feed 10.
As a main meal made for 6 large meals.
plate

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Ham Casserole

I dropped by my mother’s last week, and caught her in the act of trying to surprise my father and I with a meal… So I helped her cook :-). So two family classics were made, the first being this ham casserole.

Ingredients
4 cups of cooked rice
4 cups of ham, diced
2 cans of cream of mushroom
2 cans of green peas, drained
1/2 cup of water (more if needed)
1/2 cup of minced onion
1/2 cup of chopped celery
4 cups of shredded cheese
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven at 325F

2. In a large oven safe dish mix together the cooked rice, and the cream of mushroom. Add water to help combine the two. Then add the ham, celery, onion and peas.
mix

3. Cover with the grated cheese.
cheese

4.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes and finish at broil, so that the cheese turns golden.
cooked

5. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. The casserole will reheat well.
serve

Vol au Vent

My mother makes this sauce in the microwave. The only time I tried on my own I burnt it and had to spend a good long time scrubbing that bowl. Still, this is a easy, fast recipe and makes for a good filling meal.

Ingredients
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour (I use whole grain flour but regular flour works great)
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 chicken breast
Vol au Vent puff pastry shells
1 Peas and Carrot can
Cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, pepper
ingredients

****

1. Put your eggs in a small pot with cold water. Cover and set to medium high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and time 5 minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat.

2. Cut the chicken breast in small cubes. Add salt and pepper. Cook in a pan until colored on all sides. Don’t worry if it’s not fully cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce. Set aside.
poulet

3. In a large pot melt the butter and add the flour. If you have some fat/cooking juice in your pan with the chicken drip them into the flour at this stage so your sauce won’t split. Cook the flour until it becomes fragrant. If using white flour, it will not turn as dark as mine did. Add a bit of milk and gather into a ball.
boule

4. Add a little bit of milk at the time, making sure each addition is absorbed before adding more.
sticky

5. Once all the milk has been mixed in, add the drained content of the can and the chicken.       Peel and slices the boiled eggs then add to the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonning (I tend to add a bit of cayenne pepper, some fresh grated nutmeg, lots of black pepper and a bit of salt at this point). Bring to a boil so the sauce thickens.

6. Put the pastry shells in the oven at broil to warm them (about 1 minute, but keep an eye on them). Ladle the sauce over the shells.
final