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Monday Motivation

If you work in the hospitality business, it’s likely that Monday is your day off. If you work in a small place, it is likely closed on Monday. As a result, Monday becomes our Saturday. (Because when everyone else is enjoying Saturday, we are looking after them in restaurants and hotels and bars…) I am definitely motivated to cook something nice on my Saturday.

So, here I was on Monday, motivated to do a nice dinner at home. Thankfully our local fishmonger is open, so I picked up a nice piece of wild sockeye salmon (I added in a few prawns just for fun.) Local asparagus season has just begun, making it easy to pick a veggie. And we had picked up some buckwheat groats to try recently, so that rounded out the meal. I decided to go with a Mediterranean theme to bring all the elements of the meal together.

I had errands to run in town, so this relatively quick spread was a perfect choice. I wanted to make a rhubarb tart, but that will have to be in another post as traffic was just too busy to leave time for dessert making. I was able to make dinner in 40 minutes, from pulling the salmon out of the fridge to sitting down at the table. Here’s how:

  • Cooking buckwheat groats is like any other grain – you boil it in water. Technically it is a seed (did you know it’s in the same family as rhubarb? And it’s gluten free?) Ours only took 15 minutes, and then I seasoned it with some crumbled feta and chopped fresh oregano and chives from the garden.
  • I wanted some complexity with the asparagus so I sautéed some onions first. I poached the asparagus in a bit of white wine and then warmed it with the onions and a dash of Aleppo pepper.
  • The salmon was seared in a pan and finished in the oven. I marinated it with an Italian herb blend, olive oil and Meyer lemon zest and juice. A good old thermometer to make sure it’s done right and we’re set (“medium”, 137-142F or 58-63C).

Ta da! A fresh start to a new week.

 

 

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Quality time

Sundays are for quality time. Time with family and friends, alone time – time to regenerate. That’s what Sunday dinner is all about. 

We had the perfect combination of quality and convenience this Sunday. A few slices of slow cooked prime rib reheated to perfection with some twice-cooked baby potatoes made for a decadent dinner with a bit of green salad. 

Good old fashioned meat and potatoes!


Thankfully I had a wee bit of something meaty in the cellar (you have to love local talent) :

Spierhead Pursuit 2010 – a delicious #bcwine pairing with the beef


And that’s all. My time was spent offline today. It’s good to check out once in a while. Can we all toast to that?

Simple Pasta – or is it?

Pasta is one of the great simple dinners. I’m not saying it can’t be a great meal but the part I love about pasta dishes is that their true beauty is sublime. Often the most spectacular plates are made from only a few ingredients.

Living with a chef in the house I often have sauces leftover, and pasta makes a great vehicle to carry sauce in a new way. Our latest favourite is to use a mixture of goat cheese with herbs that is made for filling mushroom caps. Stirred in at the last minute with sautéed veggies, it makes a tangy and filling dinner that is reasonably healthy and is done in less than 20 minutes. What’s not to like about that?

They say that Marco Polo was the one that brought pasta to Italy from his travels in Asia, but history shows that various places in Italy already had pasta as a common food in the 13th century when Marco Polo was travelling. (Whoever “they” are, they’re wrong.) Many other countries have similar foods that offer a hearty meal from a sort of boiled dough; spaetzle and orzo,as well as various dumplings like perogies use the same ingredients – flour and water, sometimes with eggs. This is a food of the people, a staple for the working class.

Maybe that’s why so many people love pasta – it’s not intimidating. You can drill down to the details and cook it just right, add just-picked herbs and quality oils, grate masterfully aged Parmigiano Reggiano. But you can also open the box and stir in that glow-in-the-dark powder and still have dinner.

Nello, in New York City, serves white truffle pasta in season. It’s not on the menu, so be prepared to pay the going price.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw an article today on a restaurant in New York serving the most expensive pasta in the U.S. Americans do love superlatives, and there are expensive and rare ingredients that work wonderfully well on a simple canvas like pasta. White truffles, which are in season at the moment, sell for hundreds of dollars an ounce, so when you shave one over pasta sautéed in butter, it can cost a lot. (The current price is apparently $275. If you visit the restaurant in the fall when black truffles are in season, it’s a bargain at about half the price.)

Any way you want to serve it up, pasta is a great way to start the week. I feel better having had some. It could be one of the world’s oldest comfort foods.

Here’s to a great rest of the week.

Sunday Fun Day

Here at Rabbit Hollow we live a simple life. We are fortunate enough to love what we do.We live in a beautiful place, surrounded by breathtaking views, a breadbasket bounty and caring neighbours. Every season has its own beauty here, and thankfully we have moments to enjoy each one. In winter and early spring, Sundays are often the days that contain those moments. Today was full of them.

I spent the afternoon in the garden today, cleaning up some of the fall fodder. I feel an especially gratifying sensation when spring comes and I see the garden come to life. New shoots, birds singing more gaily and increasingly sunny skies all contribute to the cheery ambience. Ella and I revel in the returning glow of longer days.


This time of year also means hubbie and I have more time to cook. Sunday dinner is an important event when we can make it happen. Tonight was a prime example, with steaks, roasted potato wedges and broccoli. The truffle oil and grated parmesan on the potatoes was as elegant as asset as the wine pairing we chose from the cellar.


I hope you find happiness in your life to the same degree as we do here. It may not be the same passions you share; the sentiment is what’s important.

Cheers!

Flavours Galore

Who says Monday has to be humdrum? Why can’t we start the week with a bang?

I needed to shake myself out of the doldrums and so when I saw a robin this morning, I was spurred on. I grabbed a recipe I had set aside in my pile of “meals to be made soon” and set to work.

When in doubt, roast chicken is always a good go-to meal. You can do an indefinite number of things to it, and serve it with just about anything. Almost everyone loves roast chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked (160F internal temperature) and voilà!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am an adventurous amateur cook. The recipe I am featuring tonight is full of aromatic flavours, with an exotic combination of ingredients. A number of items do not hold usual spots on many grocery store shelves, but if like me you don’t have a local specialty food store, I can recommend a place to help you out. They are often an inspiration for me, and the recipe I used tonight is from their wonderful website, with just a few adaptations.

World Spice Merchants in Seattle is a treasure trove full of spices, herbs, blends and teas from around the world. The staff in the store is knowledgeable and the website is a virtual encyclopedia of information on spices and their uses. Even if you have no need to shop, I recommend you peek at their beautiful website and blog set-up.

Daylight Saving Time started this week, and so the days are longer now. However, I didn’t want to be cooking late. My plan was to have a meal that could be organized easily; while the chicken roasted I could prepare the other parts of the dinner. I even had time to walk the dog.


I also wanted to start the week with a recipe that gave us some leftovers. Roast chicken for two means at least a few sandwiches or meat for a salad. The original recipe was for roast quail, but that was too fussy for an everyday meal. (Besides, I’ve always thought quail has too many bones for the meat you get to eat – it’s more work than enjoyment.)

Sometimes I stick with old-time favourites to accompany a new item, but tonight I wanted to keep to a theme. I cooked farro, an ancient grain, and sautéed some veggies with smoked salt. The grain has a wonderfully nutty texture and the smokiness from the salt provided a perfect foil to the complexity of the flavours in the chicken. I even splurged with a local wine from our cellar; after all, creative effort deserves reward and recognition.

So, there you have it: Aromatic Deluxe Roasted Chicken. If I do say so myself, it turned out rather nicely.

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​Happy Monday. Here’s to a great week!

 

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