Tag Archives: dinner

Spicy Taco Salad

I made tacos last weekend, using a boxed kit. It was all very tasty, but those taco shells are so tiny. So confining. I kept breaking them with my overly ambitious and optimistic attempts to fill them. I eventually gave up and just made piles of the filling.

Today, I used up the leftovers in this delicious salad. I had about a cup each of spiced refried beans and cumin spiced beef. I heated them in the microwave, and then dressed the plate, first with beans and then with the meat. I topped all of that with cheese (a mozzarella-cheddar blend). I microwaved that gently to melt the cheese. Then, I placed freshly chopped romaine lettuce around the edge of the plate. I topped the cheese with a generous helping of pickled jalapeno slices and dollops of sour cream. I slathered everything with green tomatillo salsa and then sprinkled chopped green onions over it all. Finally, I sprinkled two broken up taco shells across the top.

This was so delicious. There was lots of crunch from the lettuce and the taco bits. And the temperature contrast between the hot beans, beef and cheese and the cold lettuce and sour cream was great, too.

I think next time, I won’t bother buying taco shells. I’ll just use nacho chips. I used the packaged spice mix, but I can replicate that quite easily too. I also think chopped cilantro would be a fantastic addition on top.

I highly recommend this approach to tacos if you too are finding yourself hemmed in by very tiny hard shells.

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Fried Plantains

I was on vacation in the Caribbean recently and had a ton of delicious food while I was there. One of my fondest memories is of dinner at a rib shack that included your choice of any three sides with an order of ribs. I chose coleslaw, beans and rice, and plantains. Ever since, I have been thinking about eating plantains again.

I bought a couple of green plantains about two weeks ago and have been patiently waiting until the skins turned black enough for me to fry them.

I made these today, as a side for spicy shrimp and rice. I used this recipe as a guide. I fried them in a stovetop wok in a mix of butter and oil. As they turned brown, I removed them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. I generously salted them, and then I got to try them.

They were fantastic hot. I am taking some for lunch tomorrow, and will eat those ones cold. They were so tasty and so easy to make. I will definitely be making these again soon.

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Fried Onions, Pickled Eggplant and Banana Peppers with Cheese on French Fries

Some time ago, I bought a large jar of pickled eggplant. I like eggplant and was curious what the pickled version would be like. I had no idea how to use it, though, so I googled it. Of course, most of the answers involved bread products (sandwiches, crusty bread). And while I do use bought bread products occasionally, I try not to eat them too frequently.

I am also attempting to systematically use up items in my pantry. So that meant coming up with a non-bread way to use my eggplant. I like the idea of using it in a red Thai curry, and I like the idea of using it with pasta. I plan to try those later.

Yesterday, I decided to use it in a topping for french fries. I sliced up three small onions and fried them until they were just starting to turn golden. I added in about 1/4 cup each of pickled eggplant and pickled banana peppers. I put some fries in the oven to bake and let the onions, eggplant and peppers continue to cook together on medium low, and grated some old cheddar.

When the fries were done, I laid out a base layer on a plate. I added a layer of grated cheese, and then all of the onion topping. I added another layer of cheese and then placed the plate back in the hot oven for about five minutes to let the cheese melt.

The combination of flavours in the topping is fantastic. Cooking the vegetables together on the stove let the heat from the pickles infuse throughout the mixture. It was sweet, tangy and spicy. The acidity cut through the richness of the cheese nicely.

I think the combination would work well as a non-fry topping as well, either hot or cold. I am going to experiment with that next. It would be great to come up with an interesting vegan side dish. After all, I have a 750 mL jar of pickled eggplant to get through…

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Roast Duck with Spicy Marmalade Sauce

There are certain activities that help keep me sane—such as walking, reading, taking photos, writing—and during the pandemic, I have been trying to make them a priority. One of these activities has always been creative cooking—me, in the kitchen, experimenting away. This blog was born purely so I could blend cooking, photography and writing all together.

I feel freest when I know I have the kitchen to myself for several hours and am free to make a complete mess as I create. Because of the lack of other spaces and places for everyone to be right now, it’s been harder to get a block of time in the kitchen lately. Well, yesterday, I finally had energy, time and a free kitchen. So this is what I made.

I have been wanting to roast a duck for a while now, so when I saw them on sale (and knew I would have the kitchen to myself), I had to buy one. I used this high-heat roasting method, rubbing the outside with just salt and pepper. While the duck was cooking, I made the sides. I made jasmine rice, adding chopped garlic to the cooking water. I made two sauces to go with the duck—a cream sauce with black pepper and caramelized onions and a marmalade sauce spiked with chili flakes and ground sichuan pepper. To round out the plate, I made my current favourite vegetable, whole green onions pan-fried in butter.

The meal was fabulous. The marmalade sauce was as good as I imagined it would be when I first thought of it a couple of months ago, and it went beautifully with the duck. The onion cream sauce was addictive (I only made it because I had leftover heavy cream to use up rather than because I thought it would go, but it was indeed a happy result).

Now my fridge is full of neatly stacked containers of leftovers for me to work my way through. And, most importantly, I got to play in the kitchen.

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Kofta Kebabs

Another delicious meal! I made kofta kebabs earlier this week and they tasted amazing. Here they are paired with Greek potatoes (cooked slowly in a bath of broth, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano) and store-bought dips—tzatziki and baba ganoush. What a feast!

The kebabs were easy to make. I used half ground beef and half ground lamb, plus salt and pepper. I added some finely chopped parsley and finely chopped onion. The onion was supposed to be grated, but I wasn’t in my own kitchen and had no grater, so I just chopped it as finely as I could. I think grated onion would give a better texture, but the flavour was still fantastic. I kept the flavourings simple this time–many kebab recipes also include cumin, coriander and other spices in addition to the black pepper. And instead of bread crumbs, I added a bunch of potato starch to help bind the meat mixture together.

We cooked them on skewers on a barbecue and had enough leftovers for a few more meals. They were pretty fast to put together, and I imagine they would still be pretty delicious cooked in the oven.

There are still a few left in the fridge. Maybe that’s what I’ll have for breakfast today…

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Pepperoni Pizza!

I had been craving pepperoni pizza for a while now, but could never find gluten-free pepperoni when I remembered to look for it. Then I finally found some made by Piller’s. I used it to make this pepperoni, jalapeno and onion pizza.

To make it, I used the crust recipe I have been using for a few years now. I usually make it without the addition of the tiny amount of Parmesan as I tend to put generous amounts of cheese on top. It’s really fast to make, and it uses tapioca flour and coconut flour, so it’s grain free. The crust ends up being nice and thin–I roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper. It is delicate, and I leave it on the lower piece of parchment paper for baking. But if you are light on the sauce, the crust stays crisp enough that you can eat the pizza by hand.

This one was fantastic, of course, and let me have leftover pizza for breakfast. I highly recommend this crust to anyone looking for a yeast-free, gluten-free option to make at home.

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Hashbrowns with Kimchi, Onions, Cheese and Eggs

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I had an amazing meal today. My goal was to finish up the last bit of kimchi in the fridge.

I sliced up some onions and fried them in a pan until they were soft. Then I added the kimchi and a little bit of water that I used to get out all of the deliciousness in the kimchi container.

I let the kimchi topping simmer while I fried up some hashbrowns in another pan and melted some butter for eggs in yet another pan. I also grated some sharp cheddar and chopped up some green onions.

When the hashbrowns were getting golden, I cracked two eggs into the pan with butter and quickly fried them sunny-side up, keeping the yolks runny. When they were ready, I put down the hashbrowns in a layer, topped them with a generous layer of the kimchi and onions, added a layer of cheese, slid on the eggs and then scattered green onions on top.

The result was fantastic. Very savoury and filling, but special enough that it would make a lovely brunch dish. It was a three-pan meal, but it was definitely worth all the dishes.

 

 

 

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Sweet Potatoes and Cheese

cheese and sweet pot-sm

Lunches are a challenge if you are avoiding gluten. Packing a lunch that’s nutritious, got protein, and is affordable, filling, tasty AND fast to pull together is no small feat.

Here’s one of my go-to lunches—roasted sweet potatoes with melted cheese. It’s a good way to use leftovers, but also simple to make from scratch.

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Curry and Chips

curry and fries - small

This tasty dinner reminds me of the best of British pub food. Yesterday, I made a rich curry with beef, onions, tomatoes, cabbage and coconut milk. Today when I got home, I threw some fries in the oven. When they were almost done, I heated up a portion of curry in the microwave. I made a bed of the fries and spooned the curry over top. Each bite had all the spicy flavour of the curry and the crispness of fries. So fast and so good.

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Poutine: Yes, I Am Canadian!

Poutine is a staple of French-Canadian cuisine. It’s simple but extremely tasty.

A few years ago, I went with my sister and my niece to a concert put on by Ron Cahute and Jane Lapko, the creators of these educational French songs. They performed their Poutine song, which goes like this:

Poutine, let’s start with the french fries,
Poutine, add the cheese and the gravy!
Poutine is my favourite thing,
It’s fries with an attitude!

Poutine is easy to make at home. You can use cheese curds or (if you don’t mind the wrath of poutine traditionalists) any cheese you like. I like a blend of mozzarella and old cheddar. I make my own gravy (with gluten-free beef broth and potato starch) and I bake my french fries until they are extra crispy.

To make it, you just need to make or reheat some gravy, prepare your chosen cheese and bake some fries. Then, all you do is layer your cheese curds or grated cheese on top of the fries and ladle gravy on top. Et voilà! The heat from the fries and gravy will melt the cheese, creating an ooey-gooey, delicious mess, all ready for you to dig in. Miam miam!

Poutine: Yes, I Am Canadian!

Poutine is a Québécois dish that combines french fries, cheese and gravy.

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