Pan roasted salmon with dill sauce: a classic restaurant technique that is super easy to replicate at home and just as delicious.
This Friday is Good Friday, one of the most solemn days in the church calendar for all Christian denominations. For Catholics, this is also a day of fasting, abstinence, quiet reflection, and penance. The idea behind fasting is to imitate Jesus, to show an appreciation and a cognisance of the suffering He endured. The notion and practice of fasting has changed over the centuries. At one point, fasting meant only one meal for that day, a meal that abstained completely from meat, eggs, fat, dairy, alcohol and any other “luxury” ingredients. Today, the church has adapted a more lenient interpretation that often consists of simple meals centred on fish, absent from more indulgent ingredients. This is the tradition we observed in my family home growing up.
My dad was pretty strict when it came to fasting. Everyone in the house had to observe the no meat, no eggs, no sweets rule, including the kids. The only thing that exempted you was if you hadn’t made your First Communion yet. So by the age of 7 or 8, once you made the sacrament you were required to fast. Today, I think most parents would classify this as an example of child negligence or something. In reality, there is no harm in not eating meat for one day or telling your child they can’t eat chips or candy bars until Easter.
A braised Italian classic that is sure to satisfy even the most critical dinner guests.
Have you ever had one of those dishes at a restaurant, when the instant the fork passed your lips, entered your mouth, and your taste buds came in contact with that delicious bite of food, you knew you had to recreate that dish at home as soon as possible? The kind of dish that made you savour every bite, meditate on the layers upon layers of complex flavours, and unabashedly lick your plate. These are the dishes of memorable meals; meals that stick with you for years. This is the standard that all other dishes are compared to, and the one that conjures pangs of regret following below par dining experiences.
I had a few of these types of meals in my time and my heart just flutters when I think about it. I think you all know I love food. I love to cook food, but I loooovvvee to eat food, especially when it’s prepared by expert hands. There is nothing that brings me greater pleasure than an evening spent dining at a cozy restaurant, eating sophisticated but homey, unpretentious but beautiful food, and reveling in the flavours plated in front of me. This is why for the past few birthdays, I have spared my husband the misery of finding the perfect birthday gift, and opted for” birthday experiences” instead. And as you might have guessed, these experiences usually centre on food; usually a dinner at a restaurant that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It was at one of these birthday dinners where I had osso buco for the first time.
Fresh, zesty and full of flavour. This roast chicken uses citrus fruits at their peak of freshness and brings a little sunshine to these cold winter days.
This weekend my husband began the preliminary stages of our kitchen reno. I can hardly contain my excitement! There wasn’t much that was done, and if I didn’t tell you what he did you wouldn’t even realize the change. That said, it is one item that has been checked off of our to-do list and another step closer to my new and improved kitchen!
Anyone who spends the majority of their time in the kitchen can imagine what I am feeling right now. It’s something like the anticipation that the Christmas season brings, combined with the relief of spring after a long, cold winter. I cannot wait until all the work, mess, stress and inconveniences are a forgotten memory (kind of like my orangey coloured cabinets). When I get to revel in the beauty of cooking with everything at my fingertips – a luxury only a functional kitchen can bring. The sense of relief of never having to go down to the basement for a bag of pasta or can of tuna (because whoever designed my cookie cutter house forgot to put a pantry in my kitchen) is so overwhelming that I am giddy just thinking about it. And the prospect of extra cabinet space, a backsplash that will cover the permanent grease splatter on my walls, improved organization and a space that will just look so much better than it does now, is bringing on a sense of calm and liberation; liberation from a kitchen that no longer works.
Filled with meaty mushrooms, yummy lentils and topped with a roasted garlic, sweet potato crust, this cottage pie is just as hearty as any meat pie, but so much healthier!
Last year around this time, I wrote about the imminent arrival of aging with an ode to the passage of our twenties when my husband celebrated his 29th birthday last year. Here we are, a year later and my husband just celebrated his 30th birthday. A big birthday like this makes you reflect on a lot; successes and accomplishments, trials and tribulations and all those little changes that you never really noticed until those two ugly digits unwelcome as they are, appear on your birthday cake. Namely, just how out of the “loop” you really are.
It doesn’t matter how young you feel – because in my mind I still feel pretty young – you just can’t compete with the 18 to 20 something-year-olds when it comes to knowing what’s in. Maybe I should restate that, because more often than not, what is “in” really isn’t that good. It’s just that the young ones look at you like you sprung a dozen grey hairs before their very eyes when you tell them you’ve never heard of Swedish House Mafia or know what “fml” means (I had to ask my 17-year-old sister this recently). Not that SHM (I don’t even know if they go by that acronym, I’m just trying to be cool and make it seem like I know what I’m talking about) isn’t good – I looked them up on YouTube and I’d buy their CD, I mean download their album off iTunes. It’s just that if you don’t like what they like, then your automatically deemed old and out of it.
Chicken Paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish, as simple as it is delicious. Bone-in chicken pieces are braised slowly in a sauce of caramelized onions and paprika and served with a generous serving of cold weather comfort.
I don’t know what to make of the weather in Southern Ontario lately. It’s been on quite the roller coaster over the last few days. This past week, the so-called “Great White North” experienced spring like weather. We’re talking mid teens (celsius) my friends. That’s practically unheard of where I’m from for January. Blistering winds, half a meter of snow and bone chilling temperatures is the norm. But on this unusual Sunday, people were outdoors in full force to take advantage of the balmy weather. I saw people in shorts and tees out for a run, others enjoying their daily dose of Starbucks on the patio. I felt like I should have been grilling a steak on the barbecue, not braising a hearty stew. Then today, boom! The temperature drops 16 degrees overnight. I know this will sound a little insane, but I have to admit that I didn’t mind waking up to the reappearance of frost on my windows and the prospect of bundling up against the cold. I mean it is winter. I will take negative digits in January any day over negative digits in April.
I welcome the cool temps for another reason, I have only just begun cooking up some of my favourite stews, soups and casseroles. If the summer months are marked with meals on the grill, winter days are warmed with dishes from the dutch oven. Some of my favourites come out of this pot. Think bouef bourguignon, osso bucco or coq au vin. These are the kind of meals that make me weak in the knees and all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking of it. Imagine cuts of meat and plump vegetables simmered for hours in a concoction of wine, stock and herbs, that renders meat so tender you can hardly spoon it onto your plate without it falling it pieces. Sauces so flavourful that you can’t help but lick your plate for every last drop. This is what I am talking about; this is why I want winter to stick around just a tad longer. Can you really blame me?