Crisp Bitter Greens with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Crisp Bitter Greens with Anchovy Vinaigrette

I had fun with this salad of crisp bitter greens with anchovy vinaigrette.

First let me say, I am not a salad person in the true sense of the word. I like greens, but I’m not really a fan of almost any kind of dressing. I like Japanese miso dressing and a couple of dressings from a Chinese fusion cookbook I have, but I just don’t really like the taste of vinegar. (I don’t like anything pickled either.)

But this salad tasted delicious! The original recipe calls for bitter greens such as endive or frisée but I decided to have a lot more variety. Feel free to substitute any of the greens for anything you like or that is in season.

I was going to add dandelion but I already had too many greens on hand, so I’ll save that for the next time.

I know this recipe is called bitter *greens* but I thought the radicchio would look so nice as a contrast to all the other greens. The quantities here are for a larger-sized salad; if you are making this for a smaller group of four or less people, use a total of 8 oz of greens.

Belle’s note: The Olives and Oranges cookbook offers up two salads with anchovy dressings – one is for a warm salad, and the other is this one, for a cold salad. Ward has made both of them, and I enjoyed them both – they both have very different tastes. We had some salad left over after Ward prepared this for our November open house dinner party, but I devoured the leftovers that very night after everyone had left!

The following recipe is adapted from Olives and Oranges, by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox.

Crisp Bitter Greens with Anchovy Vinaigrette

4 Belgian endives, leaves separated, washed and thinly sliced
1 bunch of chicory, leaves separated, washed and thinly sliced
1 bunch of arugula, leaves separated, washed and chopped
2 bunches watercress, leaves separated, washed and chopped
1 head of radicchio, leaves separated, washed and thinly sliced
10 anchovy fillets packet in oil, rinsed
4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more)

  1. Place anchovies and garlic in a food processor and mix until smooth.
  2. Add the vinegar and mix.
  3. While processor is running pour in the oil until you have a smooth vinaigrette.
  4. In a large bowl toss the greens with the vinaigrette.
  5. Serve.
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Brazilian Crazy Rice (Arroz Loco)

Brazilian Crazy Rice

Brazilian Crazy Rice is a real favourite around this house. I make it quite often, as it’s a good way to get more vegetables on the table.

It’s so good, several of my daughter’s friends have asked for copies of this recipe for their parents to make at home – my daughter likes to bring leftover Crazy Rice to school for lunch, and everyone has had a taste of it and likes it very much.

I said it was Caribbean in a previous post but in fact it’s from Brazil. My daughter is vegetarian so I leave out the bacon – you can add it in for a bit of smoky, meaty flavour if you like.

Since I am also against the cruelty to fruits, I leave out the raisins. I mean, aren’t they really just tortured grapes left out in the hot, hot, sun? Okay, so I guess it’s clear I’m not particularly fond of raisins!

I have made a few other changes to the recipe (which is originally from The Barbecue! Bible, by Steven Raichlen) and it seems to have worked. The original is obviously worth making too.

I use a rice cooker which allows me to make perfect rice every time – well not actually me, but the machine certainly makes it perfectly every time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, I have included instructions for making the rice.

Frying up the Crazy Rice

The original recipe serves four but we always want leftovers of this rice, so I usually start with 2-3 cups of rice instead of 1-1/2 cups. Sometimes we make even more, like we did for our November Saturday Open House dinner.

I was just browsing our cookbook shelves the other day, and discovered we have another book by Steven Raichlen, The Big Flavor Cookbook, in which he takes recipes from around the world much like he does in The Barbeque! Bible, but he adapts them to be more healthy and low fat. We picked this up as a “bargain book” at a local big bookstore chain.

We have such great luck with the bargain bins when it comes to cookbooks! Many of our favourite recipes have come from the bargain books section, so check out those bins or shelves next time you are out.

Belle’s note: This is one of my favourite rice recipes, too. I love that every mouthful contains loads of vegetables. This is always a big hit with children (well, except for our little one, who is always suspicious of any colourful things in food). It’s very colourful and always brightens up the table!

Crazy Rice (Arroz Loco)

1-1/2 cups long-grain rice
2-1/2 cups water (plus more if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
341mL (12 fl oz) can peaches and cream corn
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cooking the Rice

  1. Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear, using your fingers to stir up the rice in the water.
  2. Add to rice cooker with enough water so that there’s a depth of about 3/4” of water sitting above the rice. Cook until rice cooker indicates rice is done OR (if you don’t have a rice cooker):
  3. Place rice and water in a large pot, stir in butter and salt and bring to the boil over high heat.
  4. Put a lid on the pot and reduce to low heat and cook until tender, about 18 minutes.*
  5. Remove pot from stove and let stand 5 minutes, fluff with fork and set aside.

* Check after 15 minutes and if rice is too wet, set lid ajar so some of the liquid will evaporate. If it looks too dry, add a couple tablespoons of water.

Making the Crazy Rice

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, bell peppers, corn and parsley.
  3. Cook until the onions are soft and start to brown (about 5-8 minutes).
  4. Add the rice, mix together thoroughly and cook until everything is hot.
  5. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.
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North African Spiced Shrimp

North African Shrimp

This North African Spiced Shrimp and the Asian Marinated Flank Steak are two of my favourite recipes. They are very simple recipes – you just need to plan for the extra hours needed to marinate – and both have very, very fast cooking times. This allows you to prepare something else far more complicated while the fridge is doing all the work!

The shrimp cooking in the skillet

We had this shrimp dish at our November Saturday Open House dinner and it went over very well. This is a very successful dish for potluck parties, too.

Belle’s note: This dish disappears quickly every time Ward makes it. He made it for a fundraiser dinner held by our daughter’s choir last year, and it was very popular. Because it’s so quick and easy to make, it’s a great recipe to have on hand for those times when you have to bring something to a party, and you want something that’s unique and delicious!

The following recipe is adapted from Olives and Oranges, by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox, another cookbook we highly recommend.

North African Spiced Shrimp

1 tbsp and a pinch of Ancho Chili pepper
2 dried red chili peppers crushed
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs shrimp (31-42 size), peeled
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more if needed)
2 tbsp organic lime juice
sea salt to taste

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Place the peeled shrimp in a re-sealable plastic freezer bag.
  3. Pour the mixture over the shrimp and seal the bag.
  4. Shake the bag and squeeze the mixture all over the shrimp.
  5. Place in fridge for 4-6 hours.
  6. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat
  7. Remove shrimp from bag and place in the skillet.
  8. Cook for about 2 minutes per side or until the shrimp is opaque.
  9. Transfer shrimp to serving bowl, stir in the lime juice.
  10. Season to taste, and serve.
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Shabu Shabu

Preparing for the Table for Shabu Shabu

This is a wonderful way for family dining. We first experienced it when we went to Japan and then subsequently at a large Asian marketplace just north of us.

When we decided to try this at home, I bought a separate burner I could put on the table (an electric one, as Belle didn’t want to use propane indoors). I found a few Shabu Shabu recipes in some Japanese cookbooks but they all had different suggestions, so I used a few of them as a template but then added my own ideas.

Usually we eat at the dining room table, but it’s much better if the burner is within reach of everyone, and as there were only three of us at this meal, I decided it would be better to eat at the smaller kitchen table.

Shabu Shabu means swish swish in Japanese, and it get its name from the sound of swishing the kombu around in the stock. It’s fun and very filling, as it’s a full three course meal, with meat (beef, shrimp) and for the vegetarians (tofu), vegetables and noodles. What could be more perfect then that?

The kombu in the water - swish swish!

The prep is easy and everyone does their own cooking, so that each item is prepared just the way everyone likes it. When it comes to the beef, this is particularly important, as I like my beef rare, Belle likes hers more rare then me and our older son likes his beef blue!

Everyone Cooks Their Own Food

This would work as a dinner party as well as long as everyone has their own dipping sauces.

Sesame Dipping Sauce

Feel free to add whatever vegetables are in season in your area, and whatever type of meat you prefer (you can also use pork or chicken) and the type of noodles you like.

The Udon Noodles

I have had Shabu Shabu with venison, pork, chicken and beef and with all sorts of vegetables. If you can’t find gai lan (Chinese broccoli) you can use rappini or even spinach. For the gai lan, oyster sauce for dipping  is also very popular in Chinese cuisine. I like using baby bok choy because they are smaller and more tender, but regular bok choy would work just as well – just cut them a little smaller.

Belle’s note: I just love Shabu Shabu – it’s always guaranteed to be a meal where everyone lingers around the table, chatting and eating up every scrap of food. The sesame dipping sauce is lovely; I also like to have a small bowl of Japanese soy sauce with a splash of sesame oil.

Shabu Shabu

2  4″ square sheets of kombu seaweed, wiped clean of excess salt and soaked in water for 30 minutes
7 cups of water

The Food:
1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
1 lb tiger shrimps, peeled & deveined
1 box silken extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4″ cubes
5 baby bok choy, cut lengthwise in quarters
8 gai lan cut lengthwise in half
3-4 cups bean sprouts
6 scallions sliced into 1″ pieces on the bias
6 cups frozen udon noodles
1 cup sesame dipping sauce (recipe follows)
3/4 cup ponzu sauce
3/4 cup soy sauce
splash of pure sesame oil, to taste

Special equipment: Portable burner that can be used on your table.

Sesame Dipping Sauce
6 tbsp sesame paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (not aged)
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 tsp granulated chicken stock dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water


  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Reserve.

Shabu Shabu

  1. Place the 7 cups of water into a large pot and put on the burner on your table. Drain the kombu and add to the water on the burner. Bring to a boil. Swish the kombu around in the water with chopsticks.
  2. Once the water and kombu are boiling, everyone can begin eating. Using chopsticks, have each person dip some beef or shrimp in the stock. Cook as long as you like, then dip in one of the sauces and eat.
  3. Continue this procedure with the rest of the beef, shrimp and tofu – you might want to place the tofu pieces into a big ladle first, so you don’t lose the pieces, which break up easily, in the stock.
  4. When the first batches of the beef, shrimp or tofu are cooked and everyone’s busy eating, add some of the vegetables. Bring back to the boil and let cook a few minutes.
  5. Eat the vegetables the same way with the dipping sauces. Continue cooking and eating the remainder of the beef, shrimp and tofu, adding more vegetables as the cooked vegetables get eaten.
  6. Once most of the beef, shrimp, tofu and vegetables have been cooked, you can add individual servings of udon noodles to the stock, which should now have a more broth-like taste to it. Use a ladle to immerse a small serving of noodles, or else remove the noodles using chopsticks or a slotted spoon.
  7. Place the serving of udon noodles into a small bowl and continue with the feast.
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Dunbarton Culinary Chef Challenge

Happy Thanksgiving to all our cooking and foodie friends in the States! We hope you’re having a fabulous time today feasting with your family and friends.~ Belle and Ward

Last night, I went to the the Dunbarton Culinary Chef Challenge. It was a fantastic event. Run by our local high school, the idea was to see if local chefs could compete using local ingredients, getting everyone to be more aware of local farmers/food producers and the people who put it on the table (the restaurants).

Wonderful idea! It was a big, big success. They held the event in the high school gym, which was packed. The chefs served (and plated for the judges). There were 11 chefs competing and they were all winners.

I tried almost everything and now must do an extra couple million miles on my stationary bike to pay for this.

Chef Tristan D'Souza - The Winner!Chef Tristan D’Souza – The Winner!

The winner was Chef Tristan D’Souza from the Toronto Hunt Club – his Roasted Chestnut Soup with Cipolini Onions, Candied Ginger, Celery Hearts & Amaranth topped with a Foie Gras Foam was to die for, just unbelievable. I want this recipe!Roasted Chestnut Soup

He also served Roasted Orangeville Wild Boar Stuffed with Smoked Bacon & Black Infernato Olives, Purée of Cauliflower & Parsnip and Mustard Greens & Pickled Beets finished with a duo of Black Garlic, Raisin & Prince Edward County Merlot Jus (Orangeville is a local town). This was wonderful, too.Wild Boar being plated for the judges

And for dessert, he made Coconut Brioche Bread Pudding, Holland Marsh Carrot & White Chocolate Mousse Topped with Algoma Orchard Russet Apple Compote, Carrot Coulis & Maple Tuille (I did not have this or any of the desserts, but I wish I had!)

Second and third were Chef Bruno Elsier, the Executive Chef of Higher Education at  Aramark Canada and Chef John Harcourt of the Port Restaurant in Pickering. Unfortunately, I am not positive who came second and who came third.

I didn’t try Chef Bruno Elsier’s Cream of Cremini Mushroom, Filled French Crepe with Ricotta Cheese, Fresh Basil, Baby Arugula and Spinach, but it looked very nice and others around me raved about it. I loved his Stuffed and Oven Roasted Savoy Cabbage with Emu and Chicken Filet, Braised Belgian Endive, Shi-Take, Oyster and White Button Mushrooms and Duchesse Potatoes, although I did find the endive to be a bit watery, but this was probably due to the venue and the way they had to keep things hot.

Emu and Chicken

For dessert, Chef Elsier served Suisse Meringue Mushrooms on Lavender Infused Crème Anglaise with Fresh Berries and Belgian Dark Chocolate – as I had vowed to stay away from the desserts, I didn’t try this, but did it ever look incredible!

Chef Harcourt (of Port Restaurant) served Durham Butternut Squash Puree Finished Leg of Rabbit, Pear Salsa and Scallion Herb Foam and Duck Two Ways, Pan Seared Duck Breast Top with Sour Cherry Preserve, Confit of Duck Leg and Stewed with Duck Stock Reduction served over Mushroom Savory Pudding  and Poached Salsify Puree. This was absolutely wonderful, a real winner.

Duck Two Ways

Chef Harcourt's Trio

For dessert, Chef Harcourt made Archibald’s Estate Winery Black Cherry Fruit Wine Poach Pear with Vanilla and Infused Mascarpone Cheese, Pistachio and Almond, Crème Anglaise finished with Crisp Sugar.

I tried many other dishes that were also winners in their own right, Chef Andrew Selvador from Kobo Sushi did a wonderful stuffed quail, but there was no information at their table as to the exact ingredients so I will just leave you with this picture.

Stuffed Quail

Kobo Sushi is a Japanese gourmet restaurant just down the street from us; I go there whenever we decide to order takeout.

There were many other dishes, and most of the ones I sampled were very good. I did have a French onion soup that tasted like it came out of a can, so I didn’t finish that one, but I had two bowls of the Roasted Chestnut Soup from Chef Tristan D’Souza.

Some of the dishes were bland, but you have to remember that these chefs were all working away in a high school gym, preparing their dishes on single burners rather then in their usual, professional kitchens. I thought they were all amazing.

Belle says I have to learn to cook off a burner if I want to compete (I have, though – whenever we have Shabu Shabu) but most of their work was done before and brought in warming boxes first. Still, it was quite a feat. The place was packed and they kept on serving and also plated for the judges.

They are going to do this again in the spring, I will be first in line – if I am not competing!

Belle’s note: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to the Culinary Chef Challenge; I wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed home with Dylan and his friend Matthew (we were originally going to take them both with us – I’m not sure what Dylan would have said, with no macaroni and cheese in sight!) It worked out well, though, because at least one of us got to sample a lot of the delicious dishes; I doubt very much if we would have had the chance to do so if we had brought the boys with us as we had originally intended. Can’t you see Ward having fun participating in a culinary challenge? I can!

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Smoked Salmon Mousse

This is a great appetizer. Everybody likes smoked salmon – well, almost everyone – and this is so fast and easy to make.

I picked this one up from Jacques Pépin’s DVD  series More Fast Food My Way. It’s definitely a great dish to make if you’re bringing something to a party.

Pair it with anything people can use to dip with – slices of baguette work well, as do bread sticks, pita wedges, Melba toast crackers and even store-bought tortilla chips (especially the scoop-shaped kind). We brought this dish to Belle’s cousin’s housewarming party a few months ago, and when the Melba toast crackers ran out, people just tore off pieces from a loaf of crusty French bread and slathered the salmon mousse on!

I also made this for our last Saturday Open House dinner; I made two of  these dishes with the one recipe – just cut the recipe in half if you only want to make one.

Belle’s note: Smoked salmon is one of my favorite foods, and this mousse is absolutely delicious. I know not everyone likes capers, but they really enhance the dish. We discovered the other night that people didn’t even realize they were eating capers as they snacked on the mousse! The presentation is also very pretty – you’re sure to get lots of oohs and ahhs as you set this appetizer down in front of everyone.

Smoked Salmon Mousse

350 g (12 oz) smoked salmon, thawed and roughly chopped
475 mL (about 2 cups) ricotta cheese
2 tsp organic lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil for for drizzling
1 baguette cut into bite size pieces or crackers and bread sticks

  1. Place the smoked salmon and the ricotta cheese in a food processor.
  2. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth (adjust the salt and pepper to taste).
  3. Place in a platter that’s about 1/2″ to 1″ deep. Smooth over by covering with plastic wrap and pressing down.
  4. Sprinkle the top with the onions, capers and chives.
  5. Serve with the bread or bread sticks and crackers.
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Our Saturday November 14 Open House Dinner

Saturday November 14 Open House Dinner

November Open House Appetizers
We had a great turnout for our November open house dinner last Saturday: 28 people! What a wonderful evening it was.

The food went over well and, of course, the conversation was the highlight. We are both really looking forward to next month’s open house dinner, and on the menu?Tapas!

I was far too busy finishing cooking everything that could not be done ahead of time on Friday so there are not too many pictures, although Belle did snap a few of me – I think she should have stuck to the food.


And on the menu:


* Smoked Salmon Mousse with Baguette SlicesSmoked Salmon Mousse
* Mini Tortilla Quiches
* Spinach and Yogurt Dip with Caramelized Onion & Pita bread


* Fava bean stew with crusty bread

Fava Bean Stew
* North African Shrimp (I just love this recipe – I’ll post it in the next few days)

North African Shrimp
* Crazy Rice (while not exactly Mediterranean – okay, so it’s from Brazil, so it’s not even close – we had to think of the children too!)

Brazilian Crazy Rice
* Eggplant Salad, Country Style

Eggplant Salad
* Chicken Salad with Tarragon, Pine Nuts & Raisins

Chicken Salad
* Beef and Rice Meatballs in a Yogurt-Tomato Sauce (unfortunately, we didn’t snap a picture of the sauce)

Beef and Rice Meatballs
* Crisp Bitter Greens with Vinaigrette

Crisp Bitter Greens


* Jamaican Rum Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Jamaican Rum Spiced Pumpkin Pie

The pie looks a lot better then the last time I made it, and the taste was still incredible. I still need to develop the touch or finesse for baking, though.

People also brought some entrées for the table. Joe brought a baked salmon and Chris brought lamb chops, both very delicious. And there were also a ton of really lovely desserts, including a wonderfully moist pear cake that Julie, Steve’s wife, made.

I really think I need to either take a food photography class or invite a top photographer to dinner every night. Yes, as it turns out, I just discovered that I know a very good photographer! Corby Chapin, one of my Aikido students. He is also a great cook himeslf, especially on the BBQ – a real barbecue master.

Or maybe the quality of the pictures might just be due to the fact that I dropped my camera a while back – it now no longer takes videos, only pictures. So I might need a new camera!

I’m looking forward to our next dinner. I’ve also been thinking that maybe once a month is not enough – we need to have more wonderful nights like our last Open House Dinner.

Thank you to everyone who came, put up with my cooking and made the night such a wonderful evening!

Belle’s note: We had a fabulous time, and the food was excellent. I was so busy enjoying myself, I forgot to take pictures of the appetizers – luckily Ward was thinking on his feet (while managing all the cooking, too!) and took a picture of the salmon mousse. The mini tortilla quiches were adorable looking and incredibly fun to eat – I think I’ll have to persuade Ward to make it again just so I can remember to take pictures of it!

Chicken Salad with Tarragon, Toasted Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

Chicken salad with tarragon, toasted pine nuts and golden raisins

This salad was a big hit at our November 14th Open House dinner but even more of a hit with Belle. She loves it. She has been eating the leftovers all week – I made a lot, and she even loves the way it smells.

At first I thought about going for skinless, boneless chicken breasts but Belle suggested (and quite rightly) that bone-in and skin-on chicken wouldl add more flavour to the meat. To help convince me, she even offered to remove the skin and bones for me and shred the meat. Who am I to refuse help?

So I went with the bone-in and skin on breasts. Obviously, this was the right choice. The salad was simply delicious.

The stock in which I simmered the chickenThe stock in which I simmered the chicken

I made the chicken the night before and after Belle shredded it, I put it in the fridge. The next afternoon, I brought the chicken out to come to room temperature. This is a great party dish because you serve it at room temperature – one of the reasons we picked it.

I should also mention I used two pots to accommodate the six breasts I used, rather than the three in the recipe below, but that was necessary only because we were having so many people over. If you follow the recipe below, you will only need one pot.

Belle’s note: I was indeed happy to offer my services as sous chef for this dish; the chicken turned out to be very flavourful, and yes, it had the most wonderful chicken salad-y smell. I’m not kidding. I had a bowl of it at my desk the day after, and the scent of the dish was just divine! Ward was hesitant about adding the raisins (he isn’t a big fan of raisins himself), but I think they’re essential to the dish.

The following recipe is adapted from Oranges and Olives (a really splendid book about Mediterranean cooking).

Chicken Salad with Tarragon, Toasted Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

2 carrots, chopped coarsely
2 celery stalks, chopped coarsely
1 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 lemon, sliced in half
6 sprigs of fresh parsley
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
1-1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 bone-in, skin on free-range chicken breasts
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted over medium heat
3 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias
1/3 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, coarse


  1. Put 8 cups of water into a large pot and start bringing to the boil.
  2. Put carrots, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, salt, wine and vinegar and allow to come to a boil.
  3. Add the chicken breasts and reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  4. Cook for 30 minutes, remove chicken and allow to cool (you can discard the poaching liquid at this point – I know, it seems a shame. By all means, reserve it if you think you can use it for something else)
  5. Remove the skin and bones from the meat, shredding the chicken as you go.


  1. Mix the raisins, pine nuts, scallions, tarragon, parsley, chives, oil, vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Add the shredded chicken to the mixture. Toss well, so that the chicken is well-coated.
  2. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve at room temperature.
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Grilled Koh Samui Tilapia

Tilapia is such a pleasant fish to eat. It takes on the flavours of a marinade really well and and can stand on its own as well.

This is a Thai recipe that went with a Vegetable Stir-Fry and Pineapple Fried Rice. It’s very simple to make, with lots of wonderful flavour.

Unfortunately, I only took a picture of the tilapia waiting for the grill – I forgot to photograph it once it was done!

Marinated tilapia, ready for the grillMarinated tilapia, ready for the grill

I’ve talked about Rick Browne’s book, The Best Barbecue on Earth, quite a few times now. It has many, many recipes I love and want to experiment with.

Belle’s note: This is a very lovely dish, and it’s definitely one I’ll ask for again. The tilapia really absorbs the flavours of the Thai-spiced marinade, but it’s still mild enough that you can pair it with more robust tasting side dishes.

The following recipe is adapted from The Best Barbecue on Earth.

Grilled Koh Samui Tilapia

10 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup organic lime juice
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp white peppercorns, ground in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp golden brown sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
4 tilapia fillets, skinned

  1. In a blender combine the garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, sugar, coriander and salt and blend until smooth.
  2. Place the tilapia in a re-sealable freezer bag. Pour mixture in and mix well without breaking the fillets.
  3. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  4. Heat, clean and oil the BBQ grill over medium heat.
  5. Drain the tilapia and discard the marinade.
  6. Place disposable grilling trays on the BBQ grill or use aluminum foil.
  7. Grill the fillets for 4-6 minutes per side.
  8. Serve

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Vegetable Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Vegetable Pie with Sweet Potato ToppingVegetable Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

The Vegetarian Cook’s Bible is a great book. Back before I started cooking, I actually tried being vegetarian for a year; unfortunately, all that meant was I did not eat meat. I was not vegan and I ate cheese like there was no tomorrow. It didn’t help that at the time, I didn’t like many vegetables.

I’m not a vegetarian these days, but I have a great respect for vegetarians, especially vegans. I still will not eat veal, although I am told veal is not raised like it use to be but still … But I just love all foods too much to give up meat and seafood. So I will stay a carnivore for now.

Native people, the traditional ones anyway, make a habit of using the entire animal if it has been killed. They also make an offering before preparing it, to appease the spirit of the animal and to thank the animal for its offering of its body. I believe this to be proper and in my own way I do the same thing.

But in the case of this Vegetable Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, there is no meat involved. It’s vegetarian. Delicious and for meat lovers, it tastes like it has meat. Very substantial.

The roasted vegetables You start out with roasted vegetables

The sweet potato toppingThe sweet potato topping

Belle’s note: This vegetable pie is definitely substantial. It smells great while cooking, and delivers a flavor that’s sweet and very different from a meat pie. The shiitake mushrooms are a great addition, giving a different texture that’s a nice contrast to the softness of the rest of the pie.

The following recipe is adapted from The Vegetarian Cook’s Bible.

Vegetable Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

1 cup boiling water
8 larger dried shiitake mushrooms
3 cups rutabaga, cut into 1″ pieces
3 carrots cut into 1″ pieces
2 parsnips, cut into 1″ pieces
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
2 onions, cut into eighths
6 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 leek, washed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tbsp thyme leaves, picked
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup tomato juice, divided
1/2 cup dry red wine

2 – 19 fl oz cans cut sweet potatoes (get organic if you can)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup yogurt
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let sit 20-30 minutes.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.
  3. Squeeze dry the mushrooms, remove stems and roughly chop mushrooms
    Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Combine rutabaga, carrots and parsnips with 2 tbsp oil (toss to coat) and bake in a baking dish for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven. Add the potatoes, onions, garlic, leek, sage, thyme and 2 tbsp oil, toss to combine.
  6. Return to oven and roast for another 45 minutes
  7. Reduce oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Prepare topping by heating sweet potatoes, add butter, yogurt, salt and nutmeg. Pureé with immersion blender until smooth.
  9. Add mushrooms, broccoli and peas to vegetables. Stir stir and mix.
  10. In a small sauce pan, mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup tomato juice. Heat over medium heat and whisk.
  11. Whisk in an additional 3/4 cup tomato juice, the red wine and the reserved mushroom juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 6-8 minutes until liquid has thickened.
  12. Pour sauce over vegetables.
  13. Ladle Sweet potato topping over vegetables and smooth over.
  14. Bake for 50 minutes, until vegetable mixture is bubbling under topping. Llet stand 5 minutes before serving
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