Monday, April 28, 2008

Salmon and rice with vegetables in pita bread

Leftover rice is a common problem with a simple solution. Mix with vegetables, add meat or fish and dump into a pita bread. Voila, dinner!

Here's what I had for dinner today:

1 cup leftover rice
2 spring onions, finely sliced
6 champignon mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 salmon fillet, cubed
1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 pita breads
6 to 8 tablespoons tatziki (-Greek yoghurt sauce with garlic and cucumber)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat pita breads for 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil or other vegetable oil in a skillet.
Saute spring onions and mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Add frozen peas and cubed salmon. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes, or until salmon is almost cooked through. Add leftover rice and soy sauce. Gently stir the ingredients together, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice pita breads in half, add the salmon and rice filling. Top with tatziki and serve while still hot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ciabatta sandwich on the grill

What do you do when friends show up un-announced for lunch?
(To their excuse, they were already in my neighborhood and *I* was the one who invited them in for lunch.)

So, having almost nothing in my pantry, this is what I ended up serving them: Grilled, open sandwiches and tea. And believe it or not, it tasted REALLY good.

To serve four people, you need:

4 Ciabattas, split in half
garlic butter
8 slices of tomato
some fresh oregano sprigs
semi hard cheese, like Gouda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread garlic butter on every ciabatta half. Place a tomato slice on each, place a couple of oregano sprigs on top of the tomato, and top with sliced cheese.
Grill in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

I didn't have any garlic butter, so I made my own:

Garlic butter
1/4 pound soft butter (room temperature)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Mix all ingredients well.
This butter will keep for a week in the fridge.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Vegetable pita sandwich

Last year I bought three beautiful bikinis on sale. They are the prettiest bikinis I've ever owned!
The only problem is, they are one size too small. Or rather, they are in the size *I* should be! *LOL*

With summer just around the corner, I have decided to loose the extra pounds, because I really want to get into these bikinis. Not because I love using bikinis. I don't think I have used one since 1993!
But I love a challenge, and I think that exercising and eating more healthy will be good for me.

This morning, I made myself a vegetable pita that tasted wonderful. It was an easy start on the "new" me!

Vegetable pita sandwich

1 pita bread
5 to 6 slices of cucumber
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons tatziki (Greek yogurt sauce).

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Transfer to a small bowl or plate when done.

Toast the pita bread in a hot oven or a toaster. When done, cut the top of the pita almost off, and fill it with sliced vegetables, toasted pine nuts and tatziki.

You can buy tatziki at most stores, but it's easy to make your own:

2 cups Greek yoghurt OR make your own from regular plain yoghurt
(put plain yogurt in a big coffee filter in a big strainer/colander, set it in the fridge and next morning it has drained off the water and is wonderful and thick like Greek yogurt)

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped (optional)

Sprinkle the chopped cucumber with a generous pinch of sea salt and let it drain for a few minutes Avoid using a food processor to chop the cucumber since it will then have to be drained in a strainer)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Keep in the refrigerator until served.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


At least once a month I make Paella, the Spanish dish that started out as a poor man's fare but are now one of the regions most popular dishes. Why? Because just smelling the paella cooking makes me feel good. Eating it afterwards is even better! I think, hands down, that this Paella is one of the very few things that can make me forget about chocolate. It is actually that good.
I wrote down the recipe from a TV-show long time ago. What show it was, I no longer remember. But, as with all recipes, this one is also best when shared.


2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika powder
1 teaspoon saffron
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup rice (Calisparra rice or Arborio rice)
2 quart bullion
3 oz Choritzo (a Spanish sausage), roughly chopped
1 pound cubed fish and/or other seafood like shrimp, lobster and crab meat.
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

This dish is best prepared in a large paella pan, alternatively a large wok.

Fill a small casserole with water and bring to a boil. Cut a cross on the opposite side of the stem on the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the hot water for a minute or two, until the skin starts to peel off. Lift out the tomatoes, let cool a little and peel off the skin. After the tomatoes are skinned, chop them roughly and set them aside.

Heat the bullion in a casserole. Keep the bullion on low heat once it's warm.

Heat the oil in the paella pan, and add onions and paprika. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt.Sautè for about five minutes.
Add Choritzo, hot and sweet paprika powder and garlic.
Sautè for a few more minutes before you add the tomatoes and the saffron.
NOTE: Add the saffron after the tomatoes, as the saffron burns easily and the liquid from the tomatoes will keep it from burning.

Add the rice and wine.
Let the wine evaporate before you start adding more liquid (the bullion).

Add the bullion a little at a time. I usually add a cup, then I let the rice absorb the liquid before I add another cup.
Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the fish and seafood, and let it sit in the paella until it's cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir very gently in the paella at this point so the fish and seafood doesn't fall apart while cooking.
Add the peas, stir gently, and wait another couple of minutes until the peas are heated through.

Serve the paella with a green salad.

Honey Dijon vinagrette

As much as I like a good salad, I love a good salad dressing!
Really good salad dressings are hard to come by. The bottled stuff you buy in the store is okay, but nothing beats a good, home made dressing.

This is one of my favourite salad dressings. It's got tons of flavour, and it keeps for days in the fridge.

I made this salad this morning while cleaning out my fridge. I used lettuce, a couple of tomatoes, two spring onions and salad wheat (-you can use bulgur instead of the salad wheat).

Honey Dijon vinagrette

1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 to 4 teaspoons honey
6 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Mix the six first ingredients. Emulsify with canola oil, menaing whisk in a little at a time so the dressing thickens.
Let set in the fridge a couple of hours before you serve it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pasta with salmon creme sauce

Some people will tell you that fish and cheese is a bad combination.
I find that to be true most of the time, but in some dishes, cheese gives the dish a wonderful flavour. When I cook this dish, I sprinkle parmesan on top of the fish and pasta. A lot of parmesan! If I ever was addicted to something, parmesan would be very high on my list of addictives.
But, some people prefer to stick to the old advice and keep cheese and fish separated. This dish will also work without the parmesan, but if you omit the cheese, add a little morer salt.

Pasta with salmon creme sauce

1 1/2 pound salmon fillet, cubed
1 1/2 pound spaghetti
1 onion
1 1/2 cup heavy creme
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
shredded Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Heat oil in a wide pan and cook onion until soft, about five minutes.
Add salmon, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add cream, dill, cayenne and cucumber, and cook for another couple of minutes or until the salmon is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook spaghetti according to package.

Serve dish with shredded parmesan.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baked trout with tabbouleh

Salmon and trout is one of the healthiest choices you can make when it comes to fish. Loaded with healthy Omega 3 and with a delicate taste, it's on top nof my list when I want to treat myself to something delicious.
In this recipe, I serve my trout with tabbouleh, a traditional Middle Eastern salad that goes so well with fish one could think they were made for each other.

Baked trout with tabbouleh

one trout fillet, about one pound.
1 teaspoon canola oil
one lemon
fresh dill sprigs
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 430F.

On a sheet of aluminum foil, brush one teaspoon canola oil.
Place trout onto foil, skin side down.
Slice three to four slices of lemon from the middle of the lemon, leaving full ends.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon ends over the trout. Sprinkle with salt, place dill sprigs on the teout and top with 3 to 4 lemon slices. Close the foil gently around the fish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until done.

For the tabbouleh you'll need:

1/4 cup bulgur

1 cup finely chopped parsley

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 oz chopped unsalted cashew nuts

1/2 cucumber, seeded and finely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped

4 green onions, finely chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint

salt and pepper

Place bulgur in a bowl and add 1/3 cup hot water. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and honey, and leave until done.

If there is still liquid in the bowl when the bulgur is done, strain bulgur before you mix it with the other ingredients.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the tabbouleh in the fridge until it is being served. It tastes best cold, and it's absolutely at it's best when the flavours have had a chance to set so you can make it a day ahead.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chicken curry with cashews

I need to clean out my freezer, and it so happens that my freezer is full of chicken!

As much as I love creamy sauces, I try to stick to more healthy choices during the week. Also, it's easier to use a healthy dinner as an excuse to have some ice cream for dessert!

Tonight I made chicken with a curry and cashew nut sauce. This sauce is so tasty and good, I find myself wondering why I don't make it more often.
This recipe is adapted from a recipe printed in Gourmet, January 2005.

Chicken Curry with Cashews

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

4 large chicken breasts, cut into one inch cubes

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

3 oz cashew nuts, finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt

Accompaniment: cooked basmati or jasmine rice.

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat.

Cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and stir well. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, including juice, and bring to a simmer.

Cover and let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

When chicken is cooked through, add finely chopped cashew nuts. They give this dish a delicious nutty flavour.

Add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt right before serving.

NB: Do not let the chicken curry come to a boil after the yogurt is added. The yogurt can separate under high heat.

Garnish with chopped cilantro if you like, and serve.

(Serves 4)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A simple solution

I believe in simple solutions.
Sometimes, when life takes on a tough roll, a night with a good friend and a bottle of wine is all I need.
And that's what I did the other night.
It was great. We talked and talked, laughed and comforted each other.
I strongly believe, that if we spent more time with friends and family, we'd need less medicine and therapy for depression and low self esteem. Seriously, I think my friends are the best medicine I have on hand. They make me feel valued, funny, important and loved. You can't beat that.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pasta with Peas and Parmesan

Fuzz free pasta

Sometimes, when I get home from work, I'm so hungry I can't see straight.

In those times, it is really tempting to order a pizza or to take a huge dive into the stack of chocolate in the pantry. My stomack is literally screaming and there is no way in Hades I'm waiting for a sauce to thicken. Fire up the BBQ? Forget it!

In times like that, I usually go for my Pasta with Peas and Parmesan. This dish is good, easy, fool proof and ready in minutes. What else can you wish for?

1/2 to 2/3 pound of penne, farfalle or other short pasta

1 cup frozen peas.

Chopped parsley (- to suit your taste)

freshly grated parmesan

Cook pasta according to package. Drain.

De-freeze peas in a pot with warm water over moderate heat while the pasta cooks. Drain.


1/4 cup herb vinegar (I often use apple vinegar)

1/2 cup olive oil

3 to 5 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely chopped

juice of one lemon

a dash of salt

1 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard

Mix all the ingredientd for the dressing.

Add the dressing to the pasta (- don't add everything all at once. The garlic can be pretty strong, especially if you use chinese garlic, so add a little, taste, then add some more and repeat tasting until you find the taste that suits your palate.)

Add the peas, and sprinkle parmesan and parsley on top!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Posh cod

Butter fried cod with foie gras

At a restaurant a few weeks ago I had butter fried cod with foie gras, and the combination was so good I had to try it at home.

(4 servings)

2 pounds fresh cod fillet, cut into four pieces

2 oz foie gras

1-2 tablespoon butter

four lemon wedges

salt to taste

Melt butter in a pan. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the cod filets. Fry fish on both sides, about 3-4 minutes on both sides. It is very important to NOT over fry the fish, because the meat will dry out.

Transfer fish fillets onto plate and put a slice of foie gras on top.

I served my cod with steamed sugar peas and spring onion, hasselbach potatoes and a veal sauce (made from veal stock).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cod cannelloni

Fish and creamy cheese in soft pasta with a rich saffron sauce.

This dish became an instant favourite. It is easy to make, and it tastes rich and delicious.

(2 portions)

4 lasagna sheets

1 tablespoons butter

150 g (1/3 pound) cod or other white fish fillets


freshly ground pepper

juice from 1/2 lemon

150 g (1/2 cup) ricotta cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives

freshly ground nutmed

Saffron sauce

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

small pinch of saffron

150 ml (1/2 cup) single cream

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F

To make the filling, melt the butter in a pan and cook the fish on 3-4 minutes on each side. Season with pepper and lemon juice.

Transfer fish to a bowl, leaving the juices and butter in the pan.

Add ricotta cheese, parsley, chives and egg to the bowl. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.

Blanche lasagna plates in hot water.

Take out, let them drain in a colander and add a little oil to them so they don't stick together.

Put some filling down the centre of each pasta sheet. Roll into a tube. Arrange the cannelloni in a greased ovenproof dish.

To make the sauce, heat the remaining juices and butter in the pan. Add more butter if necessary. Fry the shallot and garlic for 3-4 minutes, but be careful so it doesn't burn.

Add saffron and cook for one minute. Pour in the cream, bring the sauce to a boil and let it cook for a few minutes until it thickens.

Pour the sauce over the cannelloni and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fish cakes - the ultimate comfort food

I love fish cakes!
I can have them for lunch and dinner (breakfast is too early for most foods, in my humbe opinion) , but too often, store bought fish cakes tastes too bland and - frankly - the texture is rubbery.

I prefer to make my own fish cakes. Real home made fish cakes, with a lot of taste.
These fish cakes are so good, they should be prescribes by doctors!

Broiled fish cakes with ginger and chili
(serves 4)

2 baking potatoes
Salt to taste
1 1/2 pounds fillet of cod
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
1 fresh medium hot red chile, minced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil
Lime wedges.

Boil potato in salted water to cover until it is tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, place fish in a skillet. Add water to cover, salt the water, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat. Cover, and set a timer for 10 minutes. After that time, use a slotted spoon to remove fish to a bowl.
When potato is done, peel it and mash it with the fish. Add heavy cream and seasonings, along with some salt and pepper, and work the mixture with your hands until it is well blended. Shape into 6 equal burger-shaped patties.

Preheat broiler, and set rack about 4 inches from heat source. Brush patties on both sides with oil, then place on a non-stick baking sheet. Broil carefully, until nicely browned on top, then turn and brown on the other side.
Serve hot, with lemon wedges.

The fish cakes before broiling.