Garlic lemon salmon with green beans and couscous

This is the first barbeque post on my blog.  Unlike many couples, I’m the one that barbeque’s.  I love cooking, so why not cook on the giant outdoor grill we have available in the summer?  We use a propane grill but I would imagine any of my dishes would work just as well with charcoal, just adjust the time accordingly.  This meal, as with many I make, came about when I opened my fridge with no idea about what to make for dinner.  I had fish and green beans, but no starch.  I could, theoretically, have made fish and green beans alone but I always feel that something is missing in a meal without starch.  I decided to make couscous simply because I hadn’t made it in some time and it’s a favourite in our home.  The lemon and garlic marinade was also an afterthought, I was out of balsamic vinegar and needed a good acid to balance out the extra virgin olive oil; lemon seemed very summery and appropriate.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp garlic powder
Dash of chilli flakes
Salt, to taste

Mix your marinade and pour over your salmon in a sealed container.  Leave at least 3o minutes to marinate.

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4 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dash of chilli powder
Evoo

Trim then cook your green beans until done but still crunchy.  Drain and lay out on foil.  Season and seal the foil package.

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Make the couscous the same as my earlier recipe, Roasted chicken with Israeli couscous and mushrooms.  Once the couscous is nicely cooked, pour onto some foil and fold the edges to make a dish.

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Preheat your barbeque at medium high, I had mine around 500 degrees.

Cook your fish skin down to prevent sticking and place your foil packages on the grill.  Barbeque until your fish is cooked through; your couscous and green beans will be nicely cooked at that point.

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Drizzle a bit of olive oil over your couscous and serve immediately.  Yum 🙂

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Ricotta mushroom frittata with roast potatoes

This dinner was inspired by ingredients in my fridge.  I wanted to make a delicious homemade meal but didn’t have much in the way of meat for protein.  I decided to make a frittata because I had more than enough eggs as well as delicious potatoes to roast.  A frittata is essentially an Italian dish similar to a crustless quiche.  My mother used to use salami and potatoes in her frittata, they were delicious but I thought I’d try something different.  I left the potatoes separate and instead made a rich vegetarian version with some beautiful ricotta I had in the fridge along with some fresh cilantro.  You could try substituting different cheeses or vegetables, the options are endless, but I hope you enjoy this version.

Bag of fingerling potatoes
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Chilli powder, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Olive oil
Baking tray

The reason I didn’t include any measurements with my potatoes is I season by sight.  I tend to use a lot of seasoning with potatoes and simply shake it on until it looks sufficient.  Potatoes absorb seasoning and always seem to need more so it’s hard to over do it.  In fact, after tasting my finished potatoes I added a bit more salt.

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Bake for 30-45 min at 375 F until beautiful and golden brown.

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6 Crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 white onion, diced
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Whisk
Stainless steel frying pan (this is a must have!  Otherwise, you will need to transfer your frittata to another dish before baking)

While your potatoes are in the oven you can work on your frittata.  Heat a stainless steel pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add your onions and let them sweat a bit.

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Next, add your garlic and mushrooms.  Allow them to cook down and brown before adding your egg.

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Whisk your eggs and milk with salt and pepper.  Finally add your egg and ricotta to your pan.  Sprinkle with cilantro and place your frittata in the oven on the bottom rack.

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Cook for 30 minutes until cooked through and slightly golden.  The parts where the ricotta is will look less cooked, if you are unsure simply test with a toothpick.

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Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Spicy smashed bean burritos

I was given this recipe several years ago by a friend.  She had brought a burrito to work and it smelled so heavenly that I couldn’t wait to make it at home.  I assumed they would be complicated and time consuming but I was wrong.  This meal is extremely easy to prepare and takes less than an hour from start to finish.  These burritos are a healthy, delicious way to bring some vegetarian variety to your dinner table.  In order to save time on a weeknight, the burritos can be completely prepared in advance and refrigerated for several days before baking.  Additionally, the finished baked product freezes beautifully when wrapped in cellophane.  I like to make several large burritos and serve them with a big salad as a main meal, however they’d be delicious in a smaller form accompanied by rice as well.

2 cans of black beans, drain and reserve the liquid of one can
½ onion, minced (I used Vidalia)
Whole bulb of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chilli
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp salsa (I only purchase fresh salsa in the deli section, Garden Fresh Gourmet is my favourite-salsa should not be able to sit on a shelf for months before being opened!)

Saute your minced onions and garlic in olive oil at medium heat until slightly browned.

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Add your beans and cook until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.  Mix in your seasoning and salsa and smash your beans with the back of a large spoon.  Set aside your bean mixture to cool slightly as you prepare your tortillas.

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Cheese, shredded (I like to cheat and purchase a mix of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack with Jalapenos but you could shred your own)
4 tbsp salsa
4 large tortillas (I use whole wheat)

Divide your filling into quarters and place in your tortillas.  Add one tbsp of salsa to each tortilla as well as a sprinkling of cheese.  Roll up your burritos by folding in the sides under your right and left hands, then begin rolling the edge closest to you until finished.  Sprinkle some cheese on each burrito then bake at 350 F until golden, approximately 15 minutes.

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Enjoy!

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Spicy shrimp with green bean curry and rice

Ever since meeting my husband almost five years ago I have loved Sri Lankan food.  When he was a child, his mother used to make separate “North American” food for him because he would refuse to eat the curries and rice she cooked daily.  Ironically, he now asks for Sri Lankan food all the time.  When he first asked me to try cooking Sri Lankan food I was very nervous: it is a complicated cuisine with many ingredients and spices in each dish.  In addition, Sri Lankan meals always include rice and numerous curries; meaning several dishes need to be made each time.  I wanted to respect the culture and refused to try to make the food until I could research some recipes and techniques.  My mother in law insists that it is completely contrary to Sri Lankan cooking to even use a recipe: she tells me everything is “a bit of this” and “a taste of that”.  When I showed her some recipes I planned to try and asked if it was like anything she made at home, she told me it sounded familiar but her recipes were in her head.  The shrimp and green beans in this meal are both recipes from cookbooks, while the rice is an adaptation of a dish made by my mother in law.  The recipes are listed in order of preparation, although you should prep your shrimp before cooking your rice.  Warning: this meal is very spicy, if you aren’t used to heat I recommend halving the chillies!

1/4 tsp saffron threads (you can buy saffron at Loblaws but it is much more affordable from a Sri Lankan or Indian store)
1/2 cup coconut milk, warmed
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup of onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups of basmati rice (my mother in law taught me to rinse my rice several times to increase fluffiness)
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 cloves
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (I used homemade stock I keep in the freezer)
Sauce pot (preferably with a glass lid)

Place the saffron and warm milk in a bowl and let stand for at least 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until caramelized then transfer to a bowl.  Place your well rinsed rice in a saucepan with the saffron mixture, cardamom, cloves and stock. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 12 minutes or until steam holes appear on the surface and rice is tender.

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Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside, covered. Gently fluff rice with a fork. Stir in the caramelized onions and serve.

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Several large handfuls of green beans (washed and chopped)
3 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 cup of thinly sliced onion
Sprig of curry leaves (you can buy these in any Indian or Sri Lankan grocery store and freeze them in Ziploc bags)
1 piece of rampe (see above)
Small tomato, chopped
2 green chillies, sliced thin
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp fenugreek (in a pinch, you can substitute celery seeds but the original can be found in Sri Lankan and Indian stores)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 – 3/4 cups coconut milk
Heavy bottom frying pan

String the green beans, wash and cut into 3cm pieces.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the sliced onion, curry leaves and rampe. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the coconut milk) and toss for a few minutes.

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Next, add the coconut milk and bring the curry to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes.   The beans are best undercooked with a bit of crunch left.

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(adapted from Sri Lankan Flavours by Channa Dassayanaka)

1- 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt, to taste
2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 green chillies, sliced
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tsp black pepper
Small tomato, chopped
Sprig of curry leaves
Frying pan

Rub the shrimp with the salt, chilli flakes, turmeric and lime juice and leave in a bowl to marinate for at least 20 minutes.  Heat your oil in the pan on high heat and quickly stir fry the shrimp until half-cooked, about 2 minutes.  Set your shrimp aside.  Fry the onions, garlic, chillies, cinnamon, pepper, tomato and curry leaves until crispy.  Add the shrimp and their juices back to the pan and finish cooking, about 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

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(from Sri Lankan Cooking by Douglas Bullis and Wendy Hutton)

Spicy deliciousness!

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Atlantic Salmon with sauteed kale and baby spinach

As much as I love to cook, the last thing I want to do after a long stressful day of work is spend an hour cooking dinner.  This meal looks quite time consuming but came together in a matter of minutes (about 10).  I tend to buy my fish and freeze it immediately to keep it fresh for use another day.  The worst feeling is knowing you spent money on beautiful fish that sat in the fridge too long and went bad. Since I had already defrosted my fish (one fillet each of salmon and trout), I started looking in my fridge and pantry for side dish inspiration.  I found kale and baby spinach, and pesto immediately came to mind.  This side dish is essentially a warm, deconstructed pesto: a delicious way to get your leafy greens.

3 cups of chopped kale
2 cups of baby spinach
1/4 cup of minced Vidalia onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
Salt to taste
Pecorino cheese (you can also use Parmesan if you’d prefer)
3-4 tsp of pine nuts (dry roasted on a skillet until lightly browned)
Lidded frying pan
Mixing bowl

Heat the olive oil at medium heat and add your garlic and onion.  Saute until the garlic has started to brown and the onion is translucent.  Add the kale, cover and saute for about 4 minutes until almost fully cooked.  IMG_5437

Add your baby spinach, mix and continue to saute another minute or two.

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Immediately transfer your kale and spinach to a bowl, salt lightly and toss with your toasted pine nuts.  Grate some Pecorino cheese on the finished product once plated.

1 lb Atlantic Salmon
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Non stick frying pan

While your kale is sauteing, cook your fish.  Mix your olive oil, chili flakes, balsamic vinegar and salt: this is not a marinade, you will cook your fish in it.  Saute the minced garlic in a tiny bit of olive oil on medium heat, when it starts to brown add the rest of your olive oil mixture.  Place your fish flesh down until it’s browned on one side then flip.  Atlantic Salmon is a deliciously oily fish so don’t worry if it gets nice and crispy on the outside, it should still be beautifully cooked on the inside as long as you’re careful.  Once cooked, transfer your fish to a plate immediately to let it rest a few minutes before eating: this gives the juices and oils time to sink into the fish and keep it juicy and delicious.IMG_5438

Delicious, Italian inspired fish and leafy greens 🙂

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Spicy pan fried Rainbow Trout with roasted beets

As someone with a Polish-German-Jewish background, beets were frequently served in my parent’s home.  There are lots of amazing, traditional recipes for borscht, roasted beets and beet salads:  this is not one of them.  My Sri Lankan husband loves spices and hot sauces so I always try to adapt dishes I grew up with by adding some heat.  To me, the blend of sweet and heat adds a level of complexity to a dish.  Beets are naturally sweet so I like to roast them with a tangy marinade of vinegar and chili flakes.  The sweet and savory beets are a delicious and healthy side dish to pan fried fish, marinated in a sweet and spicy dressing.

2 bunches of beets (the stalks can also be used, just make sure to cut off the leaves and wash them thoroughly!)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar (good quality balsamic has a sweetness to it which adds to the flavour of the marinade)
1/2 tbsp of sea salt
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp of chili flakes
Small roasting dish

Pre heat your oven to 400 F.  Make sure to wash your beets thoroughly then cut them into 1 inch pieces.  Whether you peel the beets is entirely up to you.  The skin is edible but some people don’t enjoy eating it (whether I peel them depends on how lazy I am on a particular day).  Arrange your beets in a roasting pan and prepare your marinade by whisking all the ingredients together (taste and adjust accordingly).  Pour your marinade over the beets and cover with foil.  The best beets are roasted slowly, the longer they are in the oven the more tender and delicious they’ll be.

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1 lb Rainbow Trout fillets (Atlantic Salmon works well too)
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I have tried this recipe with other vinegars and it’s just not as tasty)
1 tbsp Sriracha
2 tsp maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Clove of garlic, minced
Non stick frying pan

While your beets are in the oven you can prepare and marinate your fish.  Whisk your marinade ingredients together and pour into a lidded container.  Place your fish flesh down on the marinade, cover and refrigerate until your beets are finished (about 1 1/2 hours).  After you’ve taken your beets out of the oven they’ll need a few minutes to cool, take this time to cook your fish.  I tend to cook my fish on medium heat and begin with it skin up, making it easier to remove the skin and flip the fish when one side is cooked.  Your fish is ready to flip when the skin begins to release from the fish.  You don’t have to remove the skin, my husband is just picky.  After flipping your fish it’s just a few seconds on the other side before it’s done (be careful not to overcook the fish).

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Dinner is served!

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Breaded buttermilk chicken with roasted vegetables

In planning for our recent wedding, my husband and I decided to try and eat healthier.  We agreed that we wouldn’t go on a diet that was unsustainable but instead would increase our vegetable intake.  The result is that (almost) every meal we eat is 1/3 carb/protein and 2/3 cooked/raw veggies.  I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice tasty dinners in order to eat more veggies, so I started sneaking in roasted or sauteed veggies instead of carbs.  In this meal, a single sweet potato is stretched farther by adding some eggplant to the mix.  You can add in any veggie you’d like, just make sure it bakes well and will stand the heat as well as a sweet potato so neither burns.

1 medium eggplant
1 sweet potato (you can substitute a regular potato if you wish, but we prefer sweet-they’re healthier too!)
2 tsps chili powder
2 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Baking pan

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Cut the sweet potatoes and eggplant into 1.5-2 inch chunks and arrange on lined pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning over veggies and garlic.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until the eggplant is browned and the sweet potato edges have caramelized.IMG_5397

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of buttermilk (you can make your own by mixing 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice and leaving it to sit for 10 minutes)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Large Ziploc bag
Baking pan

Place your chicken cutlets into a large, resealable plastic bag.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk and minced garlic.  Pour the mixture into the bag with the chicken.  Seal the bag, and leave your chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (as with any marinade, the longer you leave it the better the result).  In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix together the flour, bread crumbs, baking powder and seasoning. Remove the chicken from refrigerator, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.  Then, re-dip your chicken in the marinade and dredge again in the breadcrumb mixture.  Drizzle some olive oil on the chicken and bake on a lined pan uncovered for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the cutlets, turning once.

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Voila!

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