Warm Spinach Salad

Eating alone does not have to be take out or something boring. Big Pete is away at a conference and I still like to cook something delicious even if I am dining alone…because I am worth it!

This is a simple spinach salad with a half a chicken breast and the dressing is made right in the pan then poured over the salad while still warm.

You will need:

  • a few big handfuls of baby Spinach or Spinach and Arugula
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 small yellow onion – sliced into half rings
  • a few slices of red onion
  • great extra virgin olive oil (always!! I am using a beautiful Itrana from Quatrociocchi ) you will use some for cooking and some to finish
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 chicken breast sliced -cooked then chopped
  • 6-7 white mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 small tomato chopped into small dice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of jalapeno jelly
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: cook a couple of slices of good quality bacon on a medium heat flipping it from time to time to get an even crispiness. I like mine just shy of cooked until it is crumbly but you cook it as you like. Once cooked remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb excess fat and set aside to cool, then chop.

Step 2: toss a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach and arugula to a big bowl. There are lots of other ingredients here so don’t worry that this is not enough.

Step 3: slice up a half a yellow or white onion and saute on medium heat in a bit of your good olive oil (honestly don’t ever buy that junk stuff from the grocery store buy real oil of decent quality no matter what!) saute until browned. While your onions cook slice up a bit of red onion into half rings and toss along with a handful of blueberries into your bowl with the greens.

Chop up your tomato and set in a small bowl.

This salad is a combination of raw and cold and warm and spicy. The tartness of the blueberries along with the raw onion goes so nicely with the warm chicken covered in the sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly.

Step 4: add a splash of balsamic vinegar when the onions are just starting to brown. Cook for a minute or two more then add your chicken. Remember to add a bit of salt and pepper and cook chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and chop. You should have your chicken chopped, your tomato chopped and your bacon chopped.

Step 5: in the same pan saute the mushrooms until nicely golden around the edges and then add back the meat, your mustard, the jalapeno jelly and a dash of red wine vinegar. Stir until a simple sauce starts to form.

Step 6: add all remaining ingredients. Cook 1 more minute.

Toss the warm ingredients over the cold taste and adjust for salt and pepper once more. I also always add a little drizzle of my great olive oil for a perfect raw oil finish. Think of olive oil as a condiment here. Eat right away!

Filipino Chicken Adobo

 My pal Dan was talking about his favorite foods from the Philippines and Chicken Adobo came up in the conversation! I said “I have never made Chicken Adobo!” His eyes lit up and he described the sweet, sour and rich tastes he remembered growing up. I said “I have to make that!”

So this one was made with love for Dan! and of course Big Pete!

This is slow simmered until it thickens and gets all dark and wonderful. It is sweet, sour and tangy. Served piping hot over fragrant Jasmine rice, I promise you will love it!

You will need:

  • 8-10 organic chicken thighs
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic -chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes (crushed or pieces)
  • 1 small onion
  • scallions or onion sprouts to serve
  • your favorite rice – I like Jasmine
  • 1 small pork tenderloin chopped in large slices(optional for a Pork & Chicken Adobo version – if you prefer!)

Step 1: I like to clean off some of the big pieces of fat on the thighs and then I cut them in half or quarters. Place in a large bowl.

Step 2: take an onion and lots of garlic and mince finely. This will just disappear in the sauce. Add to chicken.

Step 3: add your cider (or white) vinegar and soy to the bowl.

Step 4: add the palm sugar or brown sugar if you don’t have palm (you can find it in any good grocery store or health food store)

Step 5: you can add canned tomatoes but I had fresh seasonal so I just did a rough chop and threw them in the food processor. Add to the bowl. Add the cracked peppercorns – don’t worry you can add lots!

Step 6: marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Step 7: OPTIONAL* you can  also add some pork tenderloin but, I do not add until the last 1/2 hour of cooking. I have chopped into similar sized pieces as the chicken and you can add some of the sauce to it to marinate before adding to the pot.

Step 8: add to a large heavy pot – this is when I bring out the heavy enamelled cast iron Le Crueset.(they are worth every penny by the way!) Turn on medium heat, let come to a boil and then just lower to a steady blip for 3 hours or until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is tender. If you are adding the pork add it in the last 15- 30 minutes because the meat is so tender.

It gets all thick and dark caramelly brown!! My mouth is watering just looking at this picture.

Serve over Jasmine rice and a few onion sprouts or scallions to make it pretty!

The boy could hardly wait to eat a big bowl of it! Big Pete approved!!

I hope Dan liked it too!!

Spring Chicken with Lemon, Asparagus and Fresh Peas

This is a fresh spring dish using so many things that first come into season like fresh peas, asparagus and zucchini. Then adding a bit of chicken, lemon and great Olive Oil to make a dish you can enjoy as is or add to pasta or rice if you want to make it heart.  Don’t forget the Parmesan shavings to finish.

You will need:

  • 1 chicken breast – sliced into thin strips
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic – minced finely
  • 2 tbsp mild and fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Bozzano – Miller’s Blend from California
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning mix – dry
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup fresh peas
  • 12- 15 asparagus spears – peeled then sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 small zucchini -sliced on the diagonal
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 spring onions -sliced thin
  • 1/2 – 1 whole jalapeno pepper – sliced finely
  • 2-3 tbsp more olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • freshly peeled shavings of Parmesano Reggiano cheese

I found some great things in the market like purple asparagus and fresh peas so I thought this would go perfect with a chicken breast and some lemon.

Step 1: mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and divide the pile into 2. Remember that the finer you mince the stronger the garlic flavor.

Step 2: slice your chicken breast into thin strips and add half of your garlic, some great olive oil. I used Bozzano Ranch – Miller’s blend which is a fruity mild oil from California. Also add some lemon zest and a half of lemon juiced. Mix and set aside while you prepare your vegetables.

Step 3: I don’t even like peas! except when they are fresh at the beginning of the season. These beauties are great to snack on raw too!

 Step 4:  I had to buy this gorgeous asparagus because of it’s color!

Step 5: I peeled both sides until I could not peel any more. I then took these spears and sliced them on an angle to create a nice dice.

Step 6: I kept the shavings of asparagus separated because I want those raw in this dish and the dice I will cook briefly.

Step 7: slice a half or the whole jalapeno (ha-la- pain-yo) and some green onions for a fresh taste

Step 8: saute your chicken in a hot pan and add your dry chilis and your Italian seasoning mix along with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Step 9: add a spoon of mustard, stir and remove chicken from pan. Set aside.

Step 10: add your veggies and perhaps a bit more oil and saute a few minutes until just starting to brown around edges, you want the vegetables to still be fresh and not too soft.

Step 11: add back you chicken and all the juices and stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper then shave the Parmesan.

I always finish with another little drizzle of great olive oil for a fresh finish!

Italian Shredded Beef or Pork

This is lazy Sunday afternoon cooking. Low and slow filling the house with inviting smells of dinner. You can make it with a piece of beef or pork or both! I have added typical Italian seasonings here but, you can easily change it to Mexican or Spanish by altering the spices and aromatics.

You will need:

  • 1 lb. beef shank
  • 1 lb. pork shoulder (or 2 pounds of either if you prefer only one variety)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery
  • 1 small onion
  • few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • some smoked salt if you have it
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (peperoncino)
  • chicken broth – maybe a half a litre (enough to come halfway up the meat)
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce or jam
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil or parsley

Step 1: take a few pieces of beef and/or pork that are cuts that can handle a slow and low cooking until they are fall apart tender.  I always feel it is better to buy a smaller amount of the best quality meat you can find. Eat less meat but, make it a great quality.

Step 2; I drizzle with some great extra virgin olive oil and place in a very hot pan.

Step 3: Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. I have used a smoked sea salt but, you can use your favourite. Be generous with the salt and pepper.

Step 4: once seared well on all sides add all remaining ingredients except the cranberry sauce/jam and save a half an onion for the finish.

Step 5: cook covered in the oven in a low oven 325 degrees F for 3- 3 1/2 hours until the meat starts to fall away from the bone and is tender enough to shred. Once it is cooked remove meat from the oven and once cool enough to handle remove all fat and bone until you just have the tender meat remaining with no gross bits. Strain all the vegetables until you have the liquid remaining. Set liquid aside.If you find there is a lot of fat you can skim off the fat which will rise to the top if you place it in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Step 6: in the same pan (never wash these crunchy bits away- this is flavour baby!) add a glug of olive oil and your 1/2 onion chopped and a bit of chili flake, if you like.Saute until the onion starts to brown. Add the strained cooking liquid you set aside and scrape all the fond from the pan.

Step 7: return the shredded meat to the pan and add a tbsp or two of the cranberry sauce or jam to balance out the rich meat.

Step 8: add a bit of freshly chopped basil or parsley to finish.

You can of course serve this as a main with roasted potatoes and your favourite vegetables or for a more casual option make a Italian Salsa and wrap in a flour tortilla.

 

Asparagus and Pepper Soba Noodle Salad

Sometimes you just need something fresh and nourishing. Soba noodles are available in the Asian section of your grocery store and are made from Buckwheat which also happen to be a gluten-free option if made from 100% buckwheat flour. This salad is made with loads of fresh vegetables, all tossed with some Soba noodles and a tasty dressing.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil (a bit more for sauteing your veg) – I used Temecula Olive Le Caprice de Nature
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt (if you don’t have it use regular sea salt)
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (I always freeze mine and grate it frozen. Keeps forever!)
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 tsp finely minced red chili – mine is a medium spicy
  • 1 pkg of Soba Noodles – 250 gram pkg
  • 2-3 sliced scallions/spring onions
  • 10 spears of asparagus – sliced into stripped with a peeler then the rest chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper – sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 apple – sliced into strips
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh sprouts or baby shoots or different greens

These noodles are easily found in your favorite Asian market or even in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

Step 1: I like to gather all my ingredients and chop, peel or measure all things so that when I am ready to cook everything goes quickly and more importantly you don’t accidentally forget something! Get your water boiling -add a good pinch of salt and cook your noodles according to the package. Drain and toss with a bit of your dressing or plain olive oil so they remain separated or these noodles will stick together like glue.

Step 2: take some washed Asparagus and peel long strips with a potato peeler. You will make strips along one side and then get to a point where the peeler no longer works properly. I flip it over at this stage and peel strips from the outer edge towards the center. I do this with each spear, then I take those centre pieces and chop them finely for another texture in my salad.

Step 3: chop some apple, red pepper and whatever other vegetables you love.

Step 4: in a saute pan add some of your favorite extra virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and saute on high heat for a minute or two.

Step 5: in a small bowl create a dressing by adding  1/4 cup olive oil, sesame oil, soy, honey, salt, ginger, garlic, Sriracha and red chili for a bit of kick. Mix well.

Finally, toss all your briefly cooked vegetables, along with your noodles in the dressing. You can eat this salad warm or room temperature. I garnish with some cilantro leaves and some baby greens.

Fresh and rejuvenating!!!

Teriyaki

This is an exciting post for me! This is my 500th post on this blog!! wow I could never have imagined it would get this far!! Thanks for joining me on my journey and remember there are lots of recipes on this site!! Cook something.

Teriyaki sauce is easy to make and great on, or in so many things. I love it on Salmon, Beef or chicken and I have even added it to burgers for something different. Don’t buy it in a bottle make it yourself!

You will need:

  • 2 beef tenderloin steaks – partially freeze for easy slicing
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh grated horseradish
  • 1 tsp fresh finely chopped red chili – medium heat
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Mirin (sweet sake)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

and create your favorite salad to top steak on

Step 1: if you are preparing the beef teriyaki I recommend tenderloin which is tender and expensive however, 1 or 2 little streaks is all you need. I like to partially freeze the meat and then slice thin and gently flatten the meat with the blade of your knife. This meat will easily tear so be gentle. You can also use a flank steak for feeding a bigger crowd for less money. I like tenderloin because one small steak feeds 2 people. You can also slice chicken breasts into strips or even salmon.

Step 2: prepare your teriyaki  sauce. In a small bowl add all remaining ingredients in recipe. Chop your chili and garlic very finely and grate your ginger and horseradish (you could use a bit of wasabi  if you don’t have fresh horseradish. Mix everything to combine.

Step 3: Now you can add this meat carefully to a skewer or carefully grill for literally 1 minute on each side until done. I add the sauce to the meat to marinade only while the grill is heating up, you don’t want the meat to be cooked by the strong marinade. If you are cooking chicken you can allow the marinade to work for an hour or a few before grilling. The salmon is like the tenderloin very delicate and you don’t want the sauce to cook the meat.

Grill for one minute on each side for this thin beef. I have made it without a skewer and also with skewers I find you need to be gentle when handling this meat. The chicken is much easier to deal with and can be marinated for longer. Brush extra sauce over meat while cooking and serve immediately. I like to top this meat on a Spinach salad but, you can top any salad you prefer.

Greek Meatballs

A Greek inspired meatball sandwich! Let’s face it meatballs are always a hit and sometimes you just gotta change it up. Why not add some of the flavours of Greece to your next batch. You get some spinach into the family even if they are haters. I promise they will eat it this way!

You will need:

*makes 28-30 meatballs.

  • 8oz bag of baby spinach – cooked, squeezed of water and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pound ground beef (of course you could use lamb if you like here)
  • 3 oz feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp – chopped variety of fresh dill, parsley, basil and mint (I like lots of basil and parsley and a bit less of dill and mint)
  • 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (minced fine)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp great extra virgin olive oil (I used Mandranova Nocellara)
  • 1 slice of bread soaked in 1/4 cup milk (any kind of milk and bread)
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced fine
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper (each)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • soft squishy buns
  • your favourite marinara sauce – it can be as simple as crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper and some fresh basil.

Step 1: Take a bag of washed baby lettuce and add to a large pot with some water.

Step 2: cover with a lid and let spinach cook on high heat for maybe 3-4 minutes until spinach wilts down to a small amount.

Step 3: invest in a small amount of good quality ground beef. I really feel it is far better to eat a smaller amount of good quality local beef than larger amounts of lesser quality.

Step 4: drain and squeeze your spinach in a clean tea towel or paper towels to remove most of the liquid.

Step 5: take some good quality GREEK feta cheese (I really think the domestic feta is not as good and almost a completely different product)  and some fresh herbs and chop finely.

Step 6: chop your drained and squeezed spinach and add all remaining ingredients (except the buns to serve the meatballs on!) and mix with your hands.

Step 7: form into equal sized meatballs -I use a small ice cream scoop but feel free to use your hands if you prefer.

Step 8: prepare a simple marinara sauce. I make mine by starting with a generous glug of great extra virgin olive oil, some slices of garlic, some chili flakes, salt and pepper and then add a can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano if possible because they really do make a difference in taste) Taste and adjust as necessary. Add a few fresh basil leaves. Cook 15 minutes.

Step 9: you can fry the meatballs first or just toss them into the sauce to cook. Once done. Get the squishy rolls.

You can always add some feta crumbles on top to take it to the next level or just devour them as they are! YAMAS!!

Wine Poached Salmon with Olive Oil Sear

Poached salmon is easy to make and can be served warm or room temperature. You can top with your favorite sauce or enjoy it just as it is. I like to sear some fresh herbs in some great Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sear the top for just 1 minute to create a lovely lunch or dinner entree. I have use a lovely California oil from Temecula Olive Oil – Olive View Estate.

You will need:

  • 4 wild salmon pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 slices lemon
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • few sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – I used Temecula Olive Estate Oil
  • few more thyme and tarragon leaves

Step 1: start with some fresh excellent quality wild salmon. Cut into a few portions and add salt and pepper.

Step 2: in a deep saute pan add some white wine, water, lemon slices, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and tarragon.

Step 3: bring liquid to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, slip in your fish and cover. Let poach in white mix for between 4-6 minutes or until just cooked through. (this may be a few minutes more of less depending on the thickness of your fish.)

Step 4: remove fish from liquid and gently remove the skin and layer of dark flesh directly under skin.

Step 5: in a small pan add some great Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Once heated add some fresh chopped tarragon and thyme. As soon as they hit the hot oil add the fish with the top side directly on the oil. Cook 30 seconds and remove.

Serve with some fresh steamed asparagus, a squeeze of lemon and another drizzle of oil.

Chicken Bahn Meatballs

This is my simple version of a Vietnamese favorite street food. My Bahn Mi (Meatball) sandwich is made with ground chicken and served on a soft roll. Make lots they will want seconds!

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground chicken – dark and white is best
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped white part of lemongrass
  • 3-4 cloves garlic – chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 1 small fresh chili – chopped finely (use 3/4 in the meatballs and 1/4 in carrot topping)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • enough good extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of pan while cooking the meatballs (you could use peanut or another oil but. I love olive oil so I use it for everything!)
  • a bit of ginger ale to deglaze the pan
  • 2-3 small carrots -sliced into fine matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1.4 of the chopped chilies
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 mini English cucumber – sliced into matchsticks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh buns
  • more cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sweet Thai chili sauce

Start with a good quality ground chicken. I like a blend of dark and white meat for a more tender meatball.

Step 1: in a large bowl combine chicken, lemongrass, chopped garlic, cilantro, chili, brown sugar, salt, fish sauce, sesame oil and breadcrumbs.

mix to combine

Step 2: form into balls and you can store in fridge for a few hours or heat oil and prepare right away.

I used a Planeta Olive oil from Sicily to cook on medium heat until browned and cooked through.

At the last minute I pour over a good glug of ginger ale to add a bit of sweetness and also to deglaze the pan.

Step 3: While the meatballs cook I prepare the vegetable/quick pickle

Chop carrots into think matchsticks

Chop chili, cilantro and cucumber. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve a few meatballs on a soft roll top with a squeeze of lime,  the vegetables, more cilantro and some Sweet Thai Chili sauce if you like or even a bit of sliced mango!!

Fettucine with Orange Lemon Gremolata

This is a simple pasta dish prepared with a few fresh ingredients. It is a chopped herb compliment and I have made mine similar to a pesto however, it has orange and lemon zest and juices along with garlic and glorious olive oil. Chop a few things, mix and cook some pasta. You just toss over hot pasta and you are instantly enjoying a beautiful day in Sicily or the Amalfi coast! I have used a beautiful Sicilian oil made from Nocellara, Biancolilla and Cerasuola olives. It is fruity and bold with a nice little peppery finish.

You will need:

  • enough Fettucine pasta for your crowd of people – I have used an egg pasta
  • a big handful of flat Italian parsley
  • a big handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic – minced very finely
  • 1/2 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1/2 orange zested and juiced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil – I used a beautiful Titone from Sicily (fruit and bold!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • more beautiful oil for serving.

Optional

  • a few microgreens for garnish
  • fresh grated Parmesano Reggiano

Step 1: put the water on to boil and gather your ingredients.

Step 2: grate a bit of lemon and orange zest.

Step 3: chop your fresh herbs and finely mince your garlic. Add to bowl.

Step 4: squeeze your juices.

Step 5: add your beautiful extra virgin oil. You can add less oil (which is typical) but, since I have more than I will use in one meal I like to add lots of oil for preserving it for a day or two. Add salt and pepper and taste it. If you want to readjust the seasonings or citrus, feel free.

Step 6: drain your pasta (but keep 1/4 cup of the starchy water) and immediately pour the drained pasta back into the hot pot. Spoon a few big scoops of your gremolata over the hot pasta and stir to incorporate well. Add a few tbsp of your pasta water and mix. The water helps to make a nice glossy light sauce. Don’t add so much water that it is wet you just want a bit to bring it all together. Taste it and you can add more gremolata if you like. Make sure there is enough salt and pepper.

Add another drizzle of oil, perhaps a few microgreens or a shaving of fresh Parmesan cheese. It is lemony and sweet with a balance from the oil and the garlic.!!! Simple and delish!