Pickerel your Favourite Friday Fish

So on Friday (last Friday) I planned to go to Hooked for some fish. But I was foiled. By being lazy and taking my car, the environmental angels punished me: no parking!

It worked out fine. On Saturday, I got this great pickerel. And some purple carrots. I cooked up the fish in a cornmeal crust and served with a carrot salad.

To make it, steam the carrots. Toss in a mixture of  one tablespoon each (15ml each) olive oil, Dijon mustard, wine vinegar, and about a teaspoon (5ml) maple syrup. Sprinkle with some green onions.

(Over on the side is some awesome Lundberg rice. You can get it at Better Bulk, on our blogroll).

Risotto Helps You Slow Down the Madness

Ah, Friday. I went down to Hooked to get some fish. But it was a complete madhouse. Yes, I admit it. I had worked four overtime type days and I wimped out and took the car (to be fair, I had more work waiting at home). Problem was, that was a stupid idea. I got down to Queen and there were no parking spots to be had.

What to do? Save Hooked for Saturday when I had more time, and make a nice barley and brown rice risotto. (I know, time consuming. But VERY therapeutic).

We opened a bottle of wine, and stirred away our stress. De-lish!

Summertime, and the Grillin' is Easy…

As farmer’s market begins and more seasonal products are available, the menu plan needs to be flexible. What looked good today? What was a great deal? What was fresh?

This week we had some chicken thighs in the freezer. But asparagus is really the star, and it’s everywhere. So we made our usual chicken marinade of olive oil, lemon, pepper and garlic, and let the thighs rest a bit. We put similar flavours on the asparagus. Everything went on the grill, and the meal was rounded out with some delicious short grain brown rice from Better Bulk, which had been pre-cooked and frozen. A quick heating in the microwave (or steaming on the stovetop) and we were ready to eat.  Relaxing and easy, without over-heating the house as the spring temperatures ramp up for summer.

You Can Never Have too Much Curry

Really, you’re thinking? Didn’t we just have curry yesterday? Well yes, that’s true. But today’s curry is a far cry from yesterday’s cousin.

In this case, it’s a “use it up” curry. There were a few veg going begging in the fridge, that needed to be used up. Sometimes the amounts you can buy at the grocer do not equal what you need for your meal plan, and you just have to recalibrate.

In the beginning, we got some brown rice cooking. We like to make a big batch and then portion it out in the freezer where it can be reheated by steam or microwave, when we don’t have a lot of time on our hands.

The curry began with a pot, a little oil (olive, in our case) an onion and some garlic. Then 4 or 5 button mushrooms, quartered. They were about to go over the edge, but still edible. We broke up the stalks of asparagus that had been sitting around for a day or two longer than absolutely ideal, and pared and chunked in a carrot.

To this, a tablespoon of the same Patak’s curry paste we used for the lamb yesterday. A little bit of white wine (also something that doesn’t register as a leftover in some households) went in the pot next.

We had two cups of cooked kidney beans and a cup of cooked chickpeas (all from Better Bulk, see our blogroll) which we tossed in. You can also check our recipes page to see how to cook dried beans of all kinds. These tipped in, juice and all.

The whole thing was set to simmering until it looked stew-y or curry-ish. Served over rice, it was awesome, vegetarian, and tasty!

Next Day Soup

If you made our Slow-Braised Turkey Legs you probably had some delicious-looking gravy in the bottom. (More than you could eat with the mashed potatoes!)

If so, add about 4 cups of water, and simmer in the same casserole. Then cool overnight and use for Next Day Soup.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add 1 chopped onion, two chopped carrots, 3 or 4 stalks of diced celery, and a diced bell pepper (I used a yellow one). Add 5ml or a teaspoon of cumin and a dash of hot sauce or cayenne. To this, stir in 25oml or 1 cup each of green lentils (dried) and brown rice (uncooked). Let simmer for about half an hour.

Recycled food – better than it sounds!

Big? Small? Veggie Curry for All…

Next on the agenda? Veggie curry.

Life threw a wrench in the works this week – our microwave went on the blink. Now we don’t use the micro for much, mostly for starting baked potatoes for the grill, melting and thawing. Therein lies the problem. In our quest to avoid sodium, we like to make big batches of beans and keep them in the freezer. Same goes for brown rice. But we’re not always good about getting stuff out of the freezer early on. So we’ll start with directions:

If you didn’t get the beans out in time, and you don’t have a microwave: About 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour before you need them in a recipe, sit the container you froze them in, in a larger container of lukewarm water. This will help them thaw faster. Check from time to time. When they can be broken apart, they can be added to the recipe. This method also works for the rice; to reheat the rest of the way, add a tablespoon or so of water, and heat over low heat on the stovetop, in a non-stick pan. Or use a little oil and some diced celery, onion and mushrooms, and make it fried rice.

To make today’s veggie curry we started by baking a butternut squash. You cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. Turn cut-side-down on a piece of parchment, on a cookie sheet. Bake half an hour (depending on the size, you may need ten more minutes) in a 400F oven. When you can pierce with a fork, it’s ready. Let it cool a bit so you can handle it.

Meanwhile, cook an onion, a stalk of celery, a chopped bell pepper, a couple of sliced carrots, and some mushrooms in a medium-sized pan. Add a couple of cups of cooked kidney beans (check out our bean recipe in the recipe pages). De-glaze with a splash of wine. Pour in a bit of broth (not too much, maybe half a cup). Scoop in half of the squash and save the rest for a delicious soup…within a couple of days, or freeze for later.

Two tablespoons of curry paste are great for our hardy lot…but do it to taste. Use curry powder if you prefer. Or some garam masala, turmeric, and chili powder. Throw in a few green beans or asparagus – whatever’s handy and in season.

Let it simmer until it thickens. Serve with the rice. Your tummy will thank you.

On a Cold Night, Something to Warm You

After getting a taste of spring last week, we’re back in the deep freeze. So we were happy that, for whatever reason, we’d put Parmesan Chicken and Rice on our menu plan yesterday.

It has all sorts of things going for it – it’s light, tasty, healthy…and warm! The chicken came from Royal Beef (they’re about more than beef!) and the brown rice from Better Bulk. But both were in the freezer, waiting for one of those days when you’ve already shovelled twice and don’t want to venture out again.

(But just to show we’re hopeful spring will return…a salad with balsamic dressing)…