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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.

 

 

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!

 

May Your House and Hearth Be Blessed

At the start of a new year we all like to make a fresh start and ensure that we are on the best footing for our new adventures. There are traditions for housewarmings, offering blessings for those in new homes making a new life. It seems to me that doing the same thing for a new year is a good idea, so I thought I would list out some of those traditions for you, based on the sentiments. Many of these stem from the two sides of my heritage (the Scots and the Scandinavians), who gave gifts in the dead of winter to share good spirits and reinforce the community.

housewarming basket

GOOD HEALTH – Olive oil represents health and well being, and is a wonderful blessing for the kitchen. Spices also symbolize diversity and excitement in life. A potted plant (especially herbs) symbolize life and energy.

PROSPERITY, ABUNDANCE – Bread symbolizes sustenance and usually goes with the blessing “so your house will never know hunger”. Salt has meant luxury throughout time and can be given with the blessing “that your life will always be full of flavour”.

LOVE, STABILITY –  Coins symbolize good fortune; it is said to be important to include a coin in a wallet given as a gift and also with the gift of a knife, so as to ensure your friendship is not cut by the blade.

GOOD CHEER, SWEETNESS & LIGHT – Wine and spirits symbolize good cheer in many cultures which tends to go with joy and prosperity as well. Honey symbolizes the sweetness in life well and a connection with nature. A candle represents the light of life and warmth, especially in dark times.

There are also items that help us keep away the negative things, like bad luck or evil spirits. A broom is a good gift to sweep out any bad omens as well as keeping a house clean.

Homemade items are always a welcome gift, not even requiring wrapping. Sharing your own food (and culinary talents) is a beautiful symbol of friendship and community. Fostering those relationships always brings good things, to the recipient and the giver. If you’re stuck for a recipe, try my Banana Bran Muffins.

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