Persimmon, Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

A beautiful colourful salad to help transition from summer to fall! Refreshing grapefruit, perfumy fennel, citrus dressing and what’s that? Persimmons! Have you heard of persimmons before? Persimmons are normally found in our grocery stores between late fall and winter when they are most ripe. Making this a great salad to make on a possibly warm fall day? They remind me of a mix between a orange tomato and a nectarine or plum. There are no substantial seeds to hassle with, the skin can be eaten, so no peeling necessary and they taste mild yet sweet. Plus they are really pretty! Especially on this bright salad – a divine entree to impress your guests ;).

The trickiest part of making this salad is probably knowing how to cut your fennel and grapefruit. The persimmon you can cut like you would tomato slices. For the fennel you’ll want to start by cutting off the stocks but don’t discard them – they will be perfect to use as anise flavoured garnish. From there cut the fennel in half, each half has a core that you can cut out like a triangle. Then you just slice thinly lengthwise as you would an onion.

The grapefruit can be a little more involved but it’s worth it. Cut the two ends off the grapefruit so it can stand on the cutting board and so you can see where the grapefruit flesh begins and ends. Now cut off the peel downwards in about 5 sections like an orange, it’s ok if you cut a bit deeper into the flesh of the grapefruit, we can use that juice for the dressing. Once the grapefruit is bare, follow the lines and gently cut out the wedges. This really takes away all the struggle with eating a grapefruit and makes it really enjoyable for whoever is eating this salad.

Other than that this salad is easy peasy! the dressing is made from the grapefruit juices, some olive oil, a touch of maple syrup for added sweetness and a pinch of salt. This salad could be made ahead onto plates and refrigerated for easy prep!

Makes 5

Ingredients

2 large grapefruits

2-3 persimmons

1 fennel bulb and stalk

bunch of lettuce – arugula, spring mix or spinach would be nice

Optional balsamic glaze to drizzle on

Dressing

2 tsp grapefruit zest

Juice from cut of grapefruit peels

1 tsp maple syrup (or any sweetener)

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt

If you don’t have enough grapefruit juice add 1 tbsp of lemon juice or orange juice

 

Method

As per the instructions above, prepare your produce. Slice the persimmons, remove core of fennel and shave slices, cut grapefruit into skinless wedges. Keep the stalk of the fennel and the grapefruit grinds for zest and excess juices from flesh. Place cold bunches of lettuce on plates, I had arugula but you can use whichever greens you like.

To make the dressing squeeze the grapefruit juices into a mason jar, add olive oil, pinch of salt, tsp of maple syrup and more citrus juice if needed. Shake in mason jar.

Now here is the fun part! evenly distribute the grapefruit wedges, fennel and persimmons on each bunch of lettuce. Time to drizzle of the dressing and garnish with the feathery fennel stalk. As an added bonus you could drizzle some balsamic glaze on top of the salad, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have any.

Serve on cold plates and enjoy!

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde is a classic Mexican sauce made with tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro and lime. Warning that this salsa does have kick! But it is filled with some refreshing, authentic Mexican flavours. This sauce could be used on top of enchiladas, a taco salad, scrambled eggs, grilled meats or fish, it could be served right away warm, or cold from the fridge.

Tomatillos, or Husk Tomatoes, look like green unripe tomatoes but wrapped in a “husk” paper like shell. I was able to find them when I took my first trip to the new Whole Foods in our city. But you should be able to find them at any other vegetable market, or grocery store.

The simplicity of this salsa will surely have making a Mexican meal tonight. I tossed all the ingredients in 2 cups of boiling water for 15-20 minutes, puree everything and you’re done! Try this salsa on any dish that could use a kick, or try it with red salsa, and sour cream to make a Mexican flag on your meal!

Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

5 tomatillos

1-2 jalapeños (Or I used bonnet peppers I already had)

1 bunch of cilantro

1 lime juice

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 yellow onion

2 cups of water

1 tbsp cumin

salt and pepper

Method

Prepare your tomatillos by removing the husk and rinsing them under water, they may be a little sticky.  Remove the skin off the garlic cloves by crushing them with a big knife -if you don’t know this trick it definitely makes it easier. Cut the onion in half and remove the outer layer.

IMG_1266Heat 2 cups of water in a medium sized pot and add the garlic cloves, half the onion, all the tomatillos and the jalapeños or bonnet peppers. Bring the water to a boil, and let sit for 15-20 minutes until the tomatillos turn yellow or a light green.

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Once the tomatillos are the right colour, pour about 1/2 cup of the water out and add the chopped cilantro. Puree the salsa with either a hand held blender, food processor, or regular blender.

Salsa Verde

Add the cumin, lime juice, salt and pepper then let simmer for another 10 minutes till the sauce thickens.

Serve hot or cold on any dish! Provecho!

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Seared Sesame Soy Ahi Tuna

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Something lighter was needed this weekend, after I have been filling my belly with holiday treats and wine to pair with it. When I am feeling like I need a detox, I like to have a week of fish and veggies, while still keeping things interesting. This seared ahi tuna, on a bed of asparagus, boston lettuce and pomegranate seeds was just the recipe to kick start a healthy week.

A cast iron pan will be seriously encouraged to perfect the seared ahi-tuna. Cooking ahi-tuna is similar to grilling a steak, you’ll want a nice pink middle, and evenly cooked sides. This is achieved by having your pan very hot, and cooking all sides no more than 2 minutes each.

To make this recipe even simpler I cooked everything in the cast iron pan to keep dishes to a minimum! Starting with the asparagus grilled on the pan, then the tuna, and finished with the sesame soy sauce. Have this Tuna on any lettuce you have or prefer, top with this delicious asian sauce and enjoy!

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 grade ahi-tuna steaks

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup poppy seeds or Montreal steak spice

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

6 asparagus

1 bunch of boston lettuce

1 cup pomegranate seeds

salt and pepper

drizzle of olive oil on the lettuce

Method

Give your Tuna some time to marinate in the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and fish sauce, at least 20 minutes. Be sure to keep the marinade, we will use it for the sauce at the end.

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Heat your cast iron pan nice and hot and throw some olive oil in. Chop the asparagus in half length wise (because, why not?). Once the pan is hot put the asparagus in and grill on all sides about 7 minutes, salt and pepper and set aside..

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Prepare a little plate with the sesame and poppy seeds, and cover all sides of the tuna with it. If there are left over seeds, throw them in with the soy sauce mixture. Bring the coated tuna over to the cast iron pan and sear on all sides; 2 minutes on the large sides and 1 1/2 on the smaller edges.     IMG_0992

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While the pan is still hot, pour in the marinate sauce and cook until reduced, just a couple minutes. While the sauce is bubbling, prepare the serving plates with the lettuce, asparagus, pomegranate seeds and olive oil drizzled on top. Cut the tuna carefully in about 1/2 inch thick slices, and place on the asparagus and lettuce bed. Top with the reduced sesame soy sauce, and indulge in this healthy treat!

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Basic Marinara

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Cannelloni, pizza, pasta, chicken or eggplant parmesan, just to name a few dishes this basic marinara sauce can be used for. Sometimes one of my favourite things to order in a good Italian restaurant is just a basic marinara sauce on angel hair pasta. So simple, but you know a good restaurant will do it right with fresh basil and quality tomatoes. All the simplest ingredients paired together to make perfection.

On different occasions I have used fresh roma tomatoes versus canned tomatoes. Definitely the fresh local tomatoes made a difference with the quality of the marinara, but I have also made an excellent canned tomato marinara as well.20lbtomato

With fresh tomatoes you will want to blanch them, peel off the skin, then crush them with your hands. So yes, it does involve more work, if you don’t have that much time San Marzano canned crushed tomatoes will do the trick, or any you might already have.marinara

You can’t make a good marinara sauce without fresh basil, I feel this way about my Classic Tomato Soup as well.  Some extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh garlic, onions and spices, and you’ll have the best tomato sauce ever- you may even like it better than bolognese spaghetti. 

Serves about 6

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

4 large cloves of garlic

2 yellow onions

12 cups of crushed and peeled roma tomatoes or 2 (28 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes

1 (28 ounce) can or jar of puréed tomatoes

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

5 leaves of fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Start by heating a large pot to medium high heat with olive oil. Once the oil is hot throw in the garlic, and cook till just fragrant. Toss in the onions, brown sugar, oregano thyme and salt and pepper. Cook and stir till the onions are soft.

In my picture I used red onions, that’s just because I needed to use it up, it tasted just as delicious 🙂

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Pour in the crushed and puréed tomatoes. Turn down the heat and let sit while stirring occasionally to allow juices to evaporate and the sauce thicken.

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Throw in the basil, and adjust the spices where necessary, I usually will add more oregano, salt and pepper at this point. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, the more time you have the better to let it all marinate. Depending how you like the consistancy, and what kind of tomatoes you used, I would usually blend it with an immersion blender to make it smooth marinara. If you used mostly puréed tomatoes then this may not be necessary.

Serve on some fresh pasta, like kitchenkealy’s Simply Manicotti, tortellini, ravioli, or plain old angel hair pasta, top with more fresh basil.

Buon Appetito!

Heavenly Hollandaise

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Hands down, eggs benedict is my favourite breakfast in the whole entire world!  It’s guaranteed to be a good day if it starts out with hollandaise sauce 🙂 I don’t care what it might do to my thighs, you can’t deny yourself from the most delicious things in this universe!

When I want a quick eggs benny, I have in the past used the powdered packaged ones, and I must say they do a fine job. But I also think it’s important to know how to make most food from scratch.

Hollandaise sauce takes a bit of skill, timing, patience, and the right temperatures to get it right. Lets talk about a few tips to avoid any troubles.

  1. Curdling – when sauces start to get clumpy from the protein in eggs if too much heat or acid is added. To prevent, heat the sauce slowly and don’t let it get too high. If it starts to curdle move to another clean pot and add a bit of cool water.  Also mix the lemon in last when the sauce is warm not hot.
  2. Salt can cause the yolk to break down, so best to season with salt and pepper at the end.
  3. I heat the butter covered in the microwave. Make sure it doesn’t get too hot and add it slowly, just a bit at a time to the eggs when it is slightly cooler.
  4. Whisk vigorously! Whisking prevents the eggs from cooking too fast, and incorporates air to make them light and fluffy.

Ok, so we have the basics to prevent any disasters, now lets get started!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 egg yolks

1 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 teaspoon tarragon

salt and pepper

Method

Double BoilerStart  by simmering about 2 cups of water in a medium sized pot. Go “double boiler” style by putting a wide metal bowl good for whisking on top. Whisk together the 4 egg yolks in the bowl and add the teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Time to whisk vigorously until the mixture turns frothy or forms a foam. This is when you don’t want the eggs to get too hot, if you need to take the bowl off the pot and keep whisking, then put it back on to heat up.

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Once the eggs are at the right texture, whisk in the not-too-hot butter a little bit at a time. Remove the bowl from the pan when you add the butter, and put it back on while you whisk. Once all of the butter is in, it should have a thick sauce texture.

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Finally whisk in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and dried tarragon. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little warm water from the pot.

Serve on top of a toasted English muffin, ham and a beautifully poached egg for the best breakfast ever! (In my opinion ;))

Or try The Portobello Benedict for something different!

Holy Moly, Guacamole!

guacamoleDoes anyone else notice that guacamole is always the first condiment to run out? And even though you want to smother it on your fajitas, you try to put it on sparingly so there is enough for everyone else. I absolutely love guacamole! And who doesn’t? Seriously, who doesn’t like guacamole?   Maybe the key to having more guacamole is using 2 avocados 🙂

I’ve seen guac made with so many variations, once again I like to keep mine real simple, I feel the avocado does all the work for us and not much else is needed.

Ingredients

2 avocados

2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp cream cheese (optional, but makes it nice and creamy)

salt and pepper

Method

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, et voilà!

If you aren’t serving it right away, leave an avocado pit in the guac and wrap it with plastic wrap to keep it from going brown.

 

BBQ Sauce

BBQ

My good friend Rebecca said it herself, as she watched me make this barbecue sauce in a matter of minutes “why buy BBQ sauce, when you can so easily make it yourself?”. Exactly! If you have BBQ sauce in your fridge, time to use it up by adding it into the BBQ sauce you are about to make yourself! There really is no comparison to a good home-made BBQ sauce versus what you buy at the grocery store. And if you already made the effort to buy quality ribs, or about to feast on some wings, all the more reason to make  your own BBQ sauce.

Everyone has their own recipe for a good barbecue sauce; with so many variations and ingredients it’s easy to make BBQ sauce even if you don’t have everything. No brown sugar? Use maple syrup or honey. Almost any kind of vinegar can be used – red wine, apple cider, white. Worcestershire is fairly important, but could be replaced with a soy sauce.

My recipe is mostly what I learned from my mom, with a couple variations. Give it a try next time your slow cooking ribs, or making little meatballs!

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

1/2 white onion

2 cups of ketchup

2 tbsp Worcestershire

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper

1 tsp chili

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp Hickory liquid smoke (this makes the smoky taste, but can be omitted)

Method

Chop the onions and garlic into tiny pieces using a blender.

Heat the oil a pot on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir till onions are soft and garlic is flavourful.

Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Let heat up until it is bubbling, continue stirring. Turn down the heat and let simmer 15-20 minutes. Once completely cooled put in the fridge till you are ready to use. It’s best to make this ahead of time to allow the flavours to marinate, and the sauce to thicken in the fridge.

20 Second Tartar Sauce

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As long as you have mayo, lemon and garlic on your side I see no reason to be using any kind of processed dressing or tartar sauce when it can simply be made from scratch!
Ingredients

1/4 cup of mayo

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 cloves garlic

Salt and Pepper

1 tbsp green relish

Method

Mix all ingredients together in a cute little ramekin!