Thursday, 26 February 2015

Korean Salmon and Brown Rice Bowl (Bibimbap)

Cue the cabin fever - by this point in February the patience is unfortunately disappearing faster then the snow and ice. Waking up to an extreme cold warning a few mornings in a row induces cravings for something warm and comforting, preferably served in a bowl allowing it to be easily spooned into one's mouth while watching trashy reality TV. Mac and cheese or gnocchi would've been an obvious choice for me, but Bibimbap is certainly up to the challenge. The spicy sauce and soft rice warm from the inside but you also get the nutrient bonus from the veggies, whole grains and good protein. 

Having recently discovered Korean cuisine at a mall food court, I'm obviously an authority on it. After trying the Bibimbap from KIM CHI a few times then ordering it twice in one week from the korean sushi place at the top of our street, I'm convinced that it just might be one of the most flavourful, but still fresh tasting, Westernized Asian food I've ever tasted. I've only ever ordered it with beef bulgogi - and have no idea whether it would ever traditionally be made with baked salmon, but it certainly works. I marinated the salmon in a bulgogi style marinade to imitate the  usual flavour.

The fiery sauce is definitely the key to this dish, which is achieved by using a korean red chili paste called Gochujang. Much to my surprise I couldn't find it at Superstore (not even the one on Pembina with the expansive asian food isle) - but found it easily at the ING Supermarket near the U of M. Using good salmon is also important. I've only recently started enjoying salmon and I find the individually packaged, frozen, farm raised bag of Kirkland salmon from Costco to be the most palatable. Marinating it over night might be excessive to some, but I like the fishy flavour to be completely masked. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Skinny Green Monster Smoothie

Sure it's easy to consume fruit for breakfast, but vegetables rarely make an appearance before noon, unless you count potatoes and onions. That's why I love the concept of deceptively hiding a ton of spinach in a rich and sweet tasting smoothie.

Enter the Skinny Green Monster. I've been making these for the past four years now on and off and originally got the recipe from when she posted it here. She adapted the original recipe from Oh She Glows - just to lighten it up a bit. I haven't really changed much along the way, and wanted to share this with you, not because it's an original recipe that I created, but as more of a public service announcement for consuming large amounts of spinach for breakfast.

I was so skeptical when I first made this but now I crave one at least once a week. I don't know if it's just placebo effect - but when I start my day with a few cups of spinach, I feel more energetic. The key to making the spinach undetectable is blending it long enough so that there are no visible specks.  A really ripe banana will help with sweetness. There's no ice to crush so I like that I don't need an expensive blender to get it right.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Seared Scallop and Asparagus Benedict

Hmmm... would we call this benedict? There is no poached egg, english muffin or pork involved, but the architecture and egg yolk butter sauce is enough for me to confidently deem this recipe a benedict. This is certainly not a go-to weekend recipe, it is probably the fanciest brunch I've ever made at home. But hey - we had leftover scallops in the freezer from when I made the Beet Risotto, our oven isn't working so Coquilles St Jacques was out, and it was Valentine's Day!

I chose to use potato pancakes for the base - I didn't have english muffins and in the end I liked the way the softer potato pancake didn't compete with the tender scallops the way a chewy english muffin may have. I'm not proud, but I used a mix instead of making the potato pancakes from scratch. Sacrilege, I know, but shredding potatoes is a bit labour intensive for Saturday morning when you also are going to be poaching asparagus, making Bernaise from scratch and searing scallops. Plus, I had the mix in the cupboard and quite frankly it just tastes so amazing. 

Bernaise is even better then Hollandaise in my opinion - and I knew it would work here with the Scallops. I followed this recipe pretty closely for the sauce but realized at the last minute that I didn't have dried tarragon, so I happily substituted the tarragon vinegar that I use once every five years in the back of the cupboard. One warning on this one: I don't normally prep my ingredients ahead of time - I like to live on the edge like that ... but as you know if you've made Eggs Benedict before, the last 5 minutes of cooking are hectic. Be prepared! I cooked the pancakes first because they are the easiest to keep warm, while also cooking asparagus, then the scallops and Bernaise last.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Austrian Goulash

I am often inspired in the kitchen by places we've been and specific memories of travel. Our honeymoon was an absolute gold mine of culinary experiences (Italy, Austria, Germany and France). Although we loved each and every spot visited, Dave and I felt most comfortable in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg made us want to quit our jobs, and move, a la House Hunters International.

I wasn't a stranger to the Austrian and German dishes we ate on our honeymoon. Dave's family all hail from Germany so over the years I've tried many of the classic dishes (rouladen, schnitzel, red cabbage). However, I think Austria was the first time both of us ever tasted Goulash. Dave probably ordered it mostly for the novelty factor. Where else do you get to look a server in the eye and order goulash. I'm not sure what you think of when you hear the word "goulash", but the Austrian version, likely borrowed from Hungary, was a thick stew like dish, heavy on paprika and sweet onion flavour. After trying it in Austria and loving it, we also found it on a menu in Munich and couldn't resist.

On our honeymoon, we would too often eat breakfast, first lunch, second lunch, first dinner and sometimes second dinner. The picture above of the massive platters of goulash with spaetzle was a second dinner - perhaps the reason you can see some sweat on Dave's brow. I think the key to getting this one right at home is to find good hungarian sweet paprika and to caramelize the onions. 


Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday from Steeler and I.

She's generally in a better mood. The unimpressed gaze is to express her contempt with me, she knows I won't be sharing the swiss cheese this morning.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Ravioli in Broth with Arugula

Monday and Tuesdays in the Winter, after a long day of work, often all I want to cook, or eat for that matter, is a steaming pot of soup. Making soup at the beginning of week usually means I get at least one lunch out of it, also a bonus. Dave and I are usually ready for a lighter dinner when the start of the week rolls around. While Dave graded tests, I whipped up a quick pot, and we were able to take 10 minutes out of our busy evenings to huddle together around our bowls of vegetables, pasta, broth and cheese. 

One of my go to recipes for soup is this Three Cheese Mushroom and Tortellini Soup from my favourite healthy cooking site Skinnytaste. That recipes method of using a parmesan rind to flavour the broth, very much inspired this one. Cooking stuffed pasta in a broth and calling it a soup is a wonderful way to enjoy pasta, without a ton of guilt. You get the satisfaction of ravioli, but you're not eating a plateful in a butter laden sauce. I like to put arugula on/in anything I possibly can - and I loved the freshness it added to this soup.