Nicoise Inspired Winter Salad

A Hearty, Fragrant, and Delicious Winter Salad.

Typically this Nicoise Salad (pronounced neez-wahz) is served in summer in France, but we love the flavors so much that we use it as a winter salad too. We love that you can build a hearty salad that satisfies the need for more filling food in Winter while offering lots of vegetables and protein without meat. If you look in the fridge and pantry you’ll typically find most of the ingredients on hand, so why not give it a try. We’re having it for our Sunday supper along side some crunchy breaded shrimp. This salad normally includes canned tuna but we don’t always follow the rules ūüôā

Salad nicoise

The TwoFoodNuts version of Nicoise Salad:

Serves 2-3 as a main dish or 6 as a sidedish

The Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup Olive oil
  • Grated peel of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp white Balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 minced or grated garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup finely minced flat leaf Italian parsley or Basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything into a small mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate. The mustard will help thicken the dressing.  Set aside.

The Salad:

  • 12-14 Baby potatoes halved
  • 12 Kalamata Olives or olives of your choice
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 6 Gerkins or baby dill pickles
  • 1/4 sweet onion, thinly slices and added to tomatoes
  • 20 green beans, stem end removed
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped and fried till crisp (optional for vegetarian versions)
  • 4 eggs soft boiled
  • drain 1 can of oil packed Tuna if you wish to keep the salad traditional
  • a few lettuce leaves to place the ingredients on at plating.

Begin by setting all the ingredients into separate bowls. This will help when you’re ready to dress the components to assemble the finished salad.¬†¬†

nicoise ingredients

Preparing the cooked ingredients:

  • To cook the potatoes and green beans, use a steamer.
  • Steam them individually until just tender.¬†Steaming keeps them from becoming water-logged.
  • Fry the bacon till crisp and drain on paper towel.
  • Boil the eggs by covering them with cold water, bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat for 5 minutes.

As soon as the potatoes are tender, place them in their bowl and spoon over a few tablespoons of the dressing to coat the potatoes well. Do the same with the beans. Dressing them when they are hot helps them absorb the delicious dressing! Dress the tomatoes and onions the same way. Just a bit of dressing on the ingredients flavors without making them soggy.

Salad nicoise

Get out a pretty platter and begin adding everything so it looks appetizing. You can mix it all up or place the ingredients into their own section.  We  like to use lettuce leaves as a base and build the salad from there. Serve with crusty bread and a side dish as we did or simply use the tuna for a full meal.

salad nicoise plate

Cook’s Tip: Make this salad your own by changing up the potatoes to little red ones, or using white kidney beans in place of green beans, serve with a piece of grilled salmon and try chunks of Feta with the dressing.¬† You name it, you can substitute it and still get a fabulous winter salad.

 

 

Eggs For Dinner. Ole!

Eggs With A Mexican Twist.

Busy lives demand fast, healthy meals that hit all the high notes in taste. This dish offers protein without meat, speed in preparation and savory flavors sure to please. It’s versatile too. We love eggs for dinner and this is a favorite at our house, we hope it will be at your table as well.

eggs for dinner

Lets get started:

The base of this dish is warmed flour tortillas topped with:

  • scrambled eggs(2 per person)
  • You can do the “Hungry Man or Woman” version and use 3 eggs.
  • sour cream
  • chopped tomatoes
  • fresh avocado
  • grated cheese (use your favorite)
  • Chopped red chili (optional)
  • chopped fresh herbs (we used Italian parsley) try sliced green onion too!
  • salsa.

We begin by cracking the eggs into a bowl and adding chopped red chili. Set aside.

Next chop fresh tomatoes and avocado and herbs. This takes just minutes.

Grate some cheese. This is a  good way to use up those bits in the fridge  Just a little to keep fat in check.

Place two non stick pans on the stove. You will heat the tortillas by placing on the hot pan for 30 seconds per side.

Make the scrambled eggs while you heat the tortillas. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the best dish by placing the scrambled eggs on the warm tortilla, then topping with dollops of sour cream, the chopped tomatoes, avocado, cheese, salsa and herbs.

It took Elfie no more than 15 minutes to make this start to finish. It’s rich in protein from the eggs and avocado and bit of cheese. It’s going to be your new favorite meat-free supper!

mexican eggs

 

Roasted Beet an Orange Salad

A Winter Salad Dedicated To Trudy.

Our sister-in-law Trudy currently works and lives in Macau. We stay in touch each week by Skype and sometimes the topic turns to food, especially when we’ve just posted about something that isn’t easily available in Macau.¬† Trudy has decided that when we can send a sample of our cooking via Skype we will have reached the height of technology.¬† We agree!¬† Macau is formerly a Portuguese colony on the southern coast of China so you know there would be a few “good eats” that Trudy could Skype back to us as well!

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad

This salad is a new rendition of an old favorite.¬† Here we’ve added oranges, raspberries and we substituted Feta instead of Goat cheese.¬† We think beets taste best when slow roasted and the sharp salty taste of the Feta cheese adds to the vibrant flavors in this winter salad.¬† When the weather turns cold we need robust salads that include sturdy greens, healthy toppings and high flavor dressings. This Roasted Beet and Orange Salad delivers on all counts.

Lets get started. The best way to get the most out of the beets is to peel and roast them slowly with a splash of olive oil and some sea salt.  Then marinate the beets overnight for the deepest taste.

TwoFoodNuts Roaste Beet and Orange Salad:

Serves 6 to 8

For the Roasted Beets

  • 3 or 4 medium size beets peeled and sliced in 8ths
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 pinch Herb de Provence
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Wrap the beets in foil or place into a small roasting pot.  Bake in a low oven (300 F) for an hour or until the beets are tender.

Roasting beets

For the marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic or Raspberry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Pour over the beets and place in the fridge overnight

Balsamic Marinade

For the Salad:

  • Greens of¬† your choice.¬† (We used a mix of Arugula and Baby Spinach) Watercress would be wonderful here.
  • Sliced navel orange pieces, a few fresh raspberries
  • Crumbled Feta cheese
  • Toasted sliced almonds
  • The roasted beets

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Raspberry Balsamic plus 1 Tbsp Red Wine vinegar
  • Or¬† 3 Tbsp plain Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp¬† white sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

Today we served the Roasted Beet and Orange Salad with Heddy’s Ham and Cheese Croissant¬†¬† A roasted chicken breast and this salad would also make a great dinner!¬† No more boring winter salads!

Beet and Orange salad

 

 

 

Curried Squash and Apple Soup.

Squash Is A Favorite Of TwoFoodNuts

This summer we discovered some new varieties and methods of preparing all the  squash we got our hands on.  We cooked with Zucchini flowers, Patty Pan, Globe Squash stared in our Summer Ratatouille, and Zucchini Carbonara.We also roasted Delicata with pumpkin seeds and cranberries in early October.  The Abundance of Winter Squash is a blessing as we turn to making hearty soups to warm the soul during the cooler weather.  One of our favorites is Curried Butternut Squash and Apple.  How do you beat the creaminess of the squash combined with the sweet/tart flavor of crisp apples?  You just know these two ingredients will work well since they both come to harvest together.

curried squash soup

Curried¬† Butternut Squash and Apple soup was one of the first soups that our son Justin perfected.¬† He makes a mean Roasted Red Pepper Soup as well.¬† If¬† you don’t like curry you can still make the soup but perhaps you’ll use a bit of cinnamon and allspice instead. We feel the soup really benefits from the zing of spice, so be creative and try it your way.

TwoFoodNuts Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.

  • 1 medium Butternut Squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 small or 2 large apples, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1 Small onion roughly cut
  • 3 tables spoon Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 sprigs of Thyme

Peel and cut up the Apples, Squash and onion. Spread on a baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper. drizzle with oil, add salt and pepper to taste.  Place Thyme sprigs over the top and bake at 400F for 45 minutes to an hour. The Squash should be fork tender and slightly caramelized.

roasting squash and apples

squash, apples, onions

In a Dutch oven or large pot place:

6 cups of water

1 Knorr stock package (Use Chicken or Vegetable stock depending on if you are going vegetarian).

2 Tbsp mild curry

2 bay leaves

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves minced

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 red thai chili seeded and minced (optional)stick blender

Add the roasted vegetables to the soup base and simmer for 30 min. Remove the Bay leaves and puree with a stick blender or place in a regular blender.

making soup

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cranberries, pecans and a fresh Thyme sprig!   Indulge!

curried squash soup

We hope you love this hearty and a bit spicy soup. Please remember to share the recipe with your friends and family. Leave us a comment if you have a moment.

Bruschetta

Put This Dish In Your Repertoire!

We love this Bruschetta recipe because its so versatile. It can be a stand alone appetizer or a side dish to a great salad like Harry’s Famous Caesar Salad. Either way its a hit.¬† If you’re having guests, you can prep the topping in advance and pop it in the oven when they arrive. Look how appetizing the finished dish looks!

 image

When we talk about versatility, we mean that the type of cheese, bread, onions, or olives and all be swapped up. If your baguette isn’t fresh enough to serve at dinner, don’t worry its fine for this recipe because you’re going to brush it with Olive oil and toast i t anyway.

Here’s how Harry makes Bruschetta:

This makes 12 toasts. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

12 slices Baguette cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

  • 1/2 cup of chopped seeded tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Feta ( try Parmesan for a substitute)
  • 2 Tbsp minced green onion or chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped green or Kalamata olives your choice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Roasted Red Peppers if you have them
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil plus an additional 2 Tbsp to brush the bread.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

4-5 Fresh Basil leaves sliced to sprinkle on top of finished dish.

image

Slice the bread and brush one side with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet.  Place all the ingredients except the basil in a bowl and mix well.  Pop the bread under the broiler and toast lightly. Turn the bread over and toast the other side. Once the bread is toasted on both sides, top with the tomato mixture reduce the heat to 400F and return to the middle of the oven for 5-7 minutes. You just want to heat the topping not cook it.

image

Serve right away but topping with the basil strips and get ready for the compliments!

image

 

 

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Appetizer or Lunch!

If you have company coming and you need a light and savory dish, you’ll have to give this a try.¬† You can make it in advance so there’s no stress at party time.¬† You can also make this as a light lunch. We enjoyed it on our recent picnic with a side salad of Arugula and grapes.

Tomato tartOur TwoFoodNuts Tomato Tart:

Serves two for lunch or 4-6 as an appetizer.

  • Oneready made sheet of puff pastry
  • 3/4 cup plain goat cheese
  • 2 med tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 Tbsp Herb de Provence
  • 1 small garlic clove grated finely
  • 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 springs of fresh Thyme, leaves picked and sprinkled on tart
  • 2 tsp olive
  • Salt and pepper

tomatoe and goat cheese tartHeat oven to 450F.¬† Spread out the sheet of Puff Pastry.¬† Using a fork, prick the pastry all over but not within 1/2 inch of the edge.¬† In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, grated garlic, and Herbs de Provence.¬† Crumble the goat cheese over the tart.¬† Distribute the sun-dried tomatoes over the cheese.¬† Lay the tomato slices on top.¬† Pluck the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle over the tart.¬† Salt and pepper the tart.¬† Using a spoon, lightly drizzle the olive oil over everything and bake on the middle shelf of the oven. It’s ready in under 20 minutes.

If making for a party, assemble the tart early in the day and cover with cling film to refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.

Tomatoe Goat Cheese TartThe result is a light tart with rich goat cheese underlying the juicy tomatoes and herbs. Whether served as an appetizer or a light lunch this is a tomato and cheese lovers treat!

 

Zucchini Carbonara

 Zucchini and Pasta Together Are Winners!

Zucchini is an underrated vegetable. We have never been great lovers of this particular summer squash but this year something changed. We learned to understand Zucchini and we have now come to love it.  There a time in summer when zucchini just goes crazy and we were exposed to a lot of it. we tried it in our Summer Ratatouille, we made stuffed Zucchini flowers which were sublime and we let it star in our Zucchini Carbonara!

Summer Squah carbonara This was our first attempt at this luxurious dish and it was a hit! We invited our Cottage neighbor Donna to join us as the guinea-pig for this new recipe and she loved it.  So here goes!

Cook’s Tip:¬† Carbonara is a simple enough dish to prepare if you understand that you are making a sauce from raw eggs and cream. The secret is to remove the pan from the heat once the pasta and veg are ready.¬† This way the eggs will not scramble and the sauce will be rich and creamy.¬† Too much heat will simply scramble the eggs ruining the texture of the dish. The pasta water is added to loosen the sauce so it is light not thick.

Two Food Nut Zucchini Carbonara:

For 4 people

  • 8 slices of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tsps olive oil
  • 2 cups dried pasta (we used Penne)
  • 1 cup each of yellow and green summer squash of your choice
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • We used Patty Pan and Globe squash cut in the shape of the Penne
  • 4 egg yolks,
  • 1 and 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • a bit of reserved pasta water, about 1/2- 3/4 cup.
  • Pepper
  • Minced Italian Parsley and more grated Parmesan for garnish.

Carbonara ingredientsBegin by cutting up the zucchini and bacon.  Mix the egg yolks, cream, grated Parmesan and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.  Heat the water in a large pot for the Pasta and start frying the bacon lightly in a skillet.  You will need to watch the timing on this dish just a little.  As the bacon becomes lightly browned, toss in the Zucchini and garlic.  Stir fry the Zucchini but just till it softens a little. DO NOT OVER COOK the zucchini.

Zucchini carbonaraThe moment the pasta is al Dente, drain it and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta in the skillet and remove the skillet from the heat.  Pour in the egg and cream mixture.  And just enough of the pasta water to create a silky sauce. Serve with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.  Bellissimo!

 

Tostatas

There’s More Than One Way To Top Tostatas!

Here’s a dinner that the whole family will love. Kids and adults like being able to assemble a dish just the way they like it. Tostatas give everyone at the table artistic license.¬† Today we are doing our version using ground beef, but you can easily use ground chicken or forget the meat entirely and use re-fried beans as the key ingredient. We love when food is flexible. That means you can use what you have on hand.

TostatasThis is also a chance for the kids to get involved with making dinner.  Let them fill the dishes with all the toppings.  You can make life easy with cheese that comes grated, sour cream, ready made salsa and guacamole.  All you have to do is make the meat mixture and  its ready in about the time the kids get the sides assembled.

Here’s our Two Food Nuts Tostatas Meat Filling:

Makes enough filling for 6-8 Tostatas

  • 1 lb ground beef or chicken
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 2 celery ribs minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or crushed
  • 1 red chili pepper, (or Jalapeno) seeded and chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp anco chili powder or 1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1 tsp cumin seeds ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tsp Worchesteshire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • one small bunch cilantro minced or torn
  • 1 bag of Tostatas Rounds (In the ethnic foods section not in the snack isle)

Beef TostatasBegin by browning the meat in a hot skillet. Once it becomes brown, add all the other ingredients except the ketchup and stir until the meat mixture is well cooked.  When you see everything come together, turn off the heat and add the ketchup. Stir and serve.

Tostatas ToppingsYou can top your Tostatas with anything that you like.  Lettuce, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, tomatillo sauce, re-fried beans, you name it!

TostatasHave fun at your next Mexican night dinner! Ole’

 

The Gift of Zucchini Flowers

If Someone Gives You Flowers…Eat Them!

We were out on one of our adventures today and we came upon a lovely rustic resort on the shore of the York River. It’s called Silgrey¬† We had the good fortune of meeting the owner Mike as he and a friend dragged a 700 pound piece of burl through the woods. Both men were exhausted from the hard work of physically pulling this large piece of a tree through the forest. But in the end it will be an amazing piece of art.

Stuffed Zucchini flowersOnce Mike caught his breath we had a chance to chat about the resort and marvel at the raw beauty of his setting on the shore of the York River. He is a very interesting transplant from Toronto and he and his wife have created a wilderness retreat that’s just heavenly.

As we were about to say our good-byes, Mike asked if we would like to take home some bounty from his garden. As with most gardens, the crops all come in at once and there is waste. But not today!¬† We walked around looking at the selection of vegetables and I spotted some gorgeous zucchini flowers. Mike encouraged me to take some and I wanted to hide my sheer excitement so he wouldn’t think I was some food weirdo.¬† I’m 62 years old and have never had these delicate blossoms stuffed with fragrant ricotta, but today would be my luck day.

zucchini flower fillingWhen we got to the car and started down the driveway to home, I was able to share my pure delight with Harry. How could he know that as a foodie, weird or otherwise, this was like a dream come true. A gift of fresh off-the-vine zucchini blossoms would be transformed into dinner tonight!

Here is the Two Food Nuts Recipe.

  • Fresh Zucchini Flowers (we had 6 of them)
  • 400 gram container Ricotta Cheese
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • handful of fresh Basil leaves sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper

Mix everything together in a small bowl and fill a piping bag with the cheese mixture. Remove the stamen from the center of each flower and stuff them by putting the piping nozzle fully into the flower and squeezing the filling to fill the blossom. Then twist the tips of the petals to form a little flower pouch.

filled zucchini flowersFor the Batter:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chilled sparkling water or club soda
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Canola or Peanut oil for frying.

Place everything into a bowl except the sparkling water.  With a whisk, quickly stir in the water and mix just until incorporated. Do Not Over Mix or the batter will be heavy.

This batter must be used within half an hour.  So make it after you have filled the flowers and you have the oil heating. 

Dip  the filled blossoms into the batter, allow the excess to drip off and deep fry at 400F for 4-5 minutes or until the batter becomes just golden.

Take extreme care when deep frying. We take the deep fryer outside and place it on a sturdy table that we have lined with newspaper. This avoids oily smells and clean up is a matter of folding up the newspapers. If using a dutch oven only fill to 1/3 full never leave unattended. Use a thermometer to be sure not to overheat the oil.

DSC01741Serve on a light marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce.

Zucchini Flowers are as rare as hen’s teeth so if you have the good fortune to receive them as a gift, make sure you eat them!¬† These Two Food Nuts certainly did!

Summer Ratatouille.

The Lighter Side of Ratatouille.

Today we were at the farmer’s market and the produce was outstanding.¬† It led us to think of how to make a satisfying lunch of a few vegetables. Lately we have found ourselves creating some pretty remarkable dishes using what’s in season and what’s local.¬† Farmers aren’t given enough credit for their hard work and passion for growing wonderful wholesome food. Thankfully these Two Food Nuts appreciate everything that they put on our plates.

ratatouilleRatatouille is a dish found in Provence. It is a comfort food, made with a tomato base and lots of winter vegetables. It’s the inspiration for this lighter summer version.¬† Just look at those colors! A few humble ingredients put together with a pinch of love and a few herbs!¬† I know of a few restaurants that should be jealous of this creation!

The beauty of this dish is it’s simplicity and variety. You can decide what you want to add into it.¬†¬† Look at what’s in the market and what your family enjoys eating. Go ahead be brave!

To make this a vegetarian dish simply leave out the bacon. There is still so much flavor with just the vegetables.

ratatouille vegetablesFor our Two Food Nuts Summer Ratatouille we used:

This recipe serves two as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

  • 6 slices of diced bacon to get the party started
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 15 of tiniest potatoes halved or one thinly slice one large potato.
  • 1 Patty Pan Squash sliced
  • 1 large luscious field tomato sliced
  • 2¬† fresh garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Herb de Provence
  • ¬†A few thyme and oregano sprigs
  • 1/2 of a red chilli finely diced for interest
  • 5-6 leaves of CavoloNero (Italy’s black Cabbage) or baby kale leaves and Greek Feta to finish.
  • Greek Feta to sprinkle on top

Notice there is no salt in this dish. We found the bacon and the Feta provided all the salt that was necessary. The chili brought the mild heat so no pepper was added either!

Begin by putting the bacon and oil in the skillet. Fry on high until the bacon is just beginning to brown. Add the potatoes now, stir to coat with the bacon fat and oil and add a small splash of water. Cover and cook on medium-low to allow the potatoes to soften.

ratatouille flavoringsAfter a few minutes, add the garlic and layer on the vegetables and the herbs and chilli. Cover, increase heat to medium high and allow all the ingredients to soften and the flavors to mingle. This only takes a few minutes but depends on the density of the vegetables used.

ratatouille ingredientsOnce everything has cooked down and  you can see a light broth in the skillet, your Ratatouille is done. Grab a big bowl and some amazing bread to sop  up all those glorious pan juices.

This dish can include other vegetables such a sweet peppers, snow peas, green zucchini, kale, sliced brussels sprouts, mushrooms or rapinni. It’s whatever you love.

Korean Vermicelli Salad

You Won’t Know This Is So Good For You!

When I was still working, a Pho restaurant opened across the road from Harry’s office. My business partner David and I found ourselves eating there almost once a week.¬† While Harry is not a great friend of Pho, he does love when I make the Vermicelli Noodle Salad. It just happens that it’s very warm today so guess what?¬† I’m making us the salad for lunch.

Korean vermicelli SaladKorean Vermicelli Salad as with much Asian food is very healthy.¬† We just love that we are eating well and enjoying such fabulous tasting food at the same time.¬† This dish relies heavily on fresh produce and today we used what we have on hand.¬† That’s one of the best things about this style of cooking.¬† It can be different each time you make it depending on the veggies or protein that you use. Today we used leftover shrimp.¬† There is no right or wrong!

Two Food Nuts Vermicelli Salad:

This recipe is for two hungry people

The Vermicelli Salad

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Romaine lettuce
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 3 green onions finely sliced
  • 20 Basil leaves sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts or chopped salted Cashews if you have a peanut allergy.
  • We had 6 leftover cooked shrimp from our Garlic Shrimp Dinner, so in they go!

salad veggiesSwitch it up with other vegetables like: sweet peppers, bean sprouts, snow peas or cucumber.  Use whatever you have on hand be creative!

Place all the prepared veggies into a mixing bowl.  Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions for the brand that you buy.  They are not boiled like regular pasta.   Rice noodles do not expand like pasta noodles either so you need to start out with approx the amount you intend to add to your salad. When cooked we use 1 cup per person.

Cook’s Tip: Buy a medium sized rice noodle also known as vermicelli for this recipe. The very thin ones do not hold up to all the veggies, the very thick ones overwhelm them.

Dressing for the salad:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (use 1/2 tsp if you only have dried ginger)
  • 1 medium garlic clove grated or minced
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar¬† (use Palm sugar if you have it on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a fresh lime
  • 1/2 minced red chili pepper (optional) we like the heat it provides.

Pour the dressing over the veggies and noodles, toss well and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts or cashews.  Al meokkesseumnid!    Korean for Bon Appetite!

Korean vermicelli SaladDon’t forget to share this recipe with your friends and family via Facebook or twitter!

 

Tomato Lovers Lunch

It’s Tomato Thyme!

This is the time of year when the bounty of Summer comes to our tables through the harvest of fruits and vegetables that we love.  Tomatoes and Basil are such good friends that we just had to create a meal that allows them both to shine.  For the Pesto portion of this dish please refer to our recipe for Pesto right here on our blog.

Fried tomatoes

Not only is this dish something you can make in 20 minutes, its healthy and delicious too. You won’t have to worry about having too many tomatoes on hand once your family tastes this flavorful dish.

Basil PEsto¬†It’s great when two star ingredients come into season at the same time. Our Basil is doing so well in our patio pot, that making fresh pesto takes only moments. We also have some nice lemon thyme and fresh oregano in pots so we have incorporated them just to kick the flavor up a notch.

Try our Pesto recipe.

Heres’ the Two Food Nuts Recipe for Fried Tomatoes and Pesto:

Serves two generous portions.

  • 3 ripe tomatoes, tops and bottoms sliced off (should yield 2 thick slices per tomato)
  • 2 thyme sprigs (pick off the leaves and add to the tomato slices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 big garlic clove sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese ( you can substitute goat cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Small oregano leaves for garnish (optional)

Tomatoes and thymeHeat the oil and garlic in a non-stick pan until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the tomato slices sprinkle on the thyme leaves and fry until brown, turn and fry second side. Once the tomato slices are well browned, top with the crumbed cheese and turn off the heat.

Tomatoes and FetaTo serve, place the tomato slices on a plate, spoon over a bit of the pan juices. Add your tiny oregano leaves for garnish. Surround the tomato slices with your pesto and serve with fresh bread to mop up the gorgeous juice.

This makes such a satisfying lunch all by its self or with a side salad. We hope you’ll give it a try the next time you see those luscious tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market!

Fried tomatoes

Let us know what you think of this lunch suggestion by leaving us a comment in the handy form below and don’t forget to share those recipes that you love with your friends on Facebook!

 

Caesar Salad Dressing

Hail Caesar!  No! Wait a minute! Hail Harry!

When Harry first began his culinary adventures he asked me to show him how to make my Caesar Salad.¬† I gave him the recipe that I had used for decades and he makes it better than I ever did!¬† I haven’t made it since.

Party Caesar SaladWe use the dressing to create two different serving styles. One is for regular dinners and the other for parties.  The ingredients are classic but I think that Harry really takes his time when he assembles the ingredients, making the dressing a soft thick mousse that clings to the lettuce.  All our friends swoon over it.  Hold your applause please.

Caesar dressingWhen we do parties, Harry places the Caesar dressing into the bottom of a Champagne glass.¬† He makes crouton sticks from puff pasty, and to make it extra special he adds long strips of crisp bacon. The result is beautiful and the taste…. Let’s just say is memorable.¬† Guests dip the trio of lettuce, crouton and bacon into the dressing and you will hear nothing but the inevitable Mmmmmm sounds.

Party Caesar SaladParty or dinner the great taste is worth the extra effort.

Caesar SaladWhen Harry serves the salad for lunch or dinner, he splits the head of Romaine into long pieces by cutting it from the top of the leaf to the stem.  One head of Romaine should yield at least 4 servings, more if it is extra large. Then he lays it on the serving plate, drizzles the dressing over it, shaves some quality Parmesan on top and finishes with our homemade croutons.

By serving the salad with the dressing drizzled on top rather than mixed into small pieces of lettuce you assure that the salad stays crisp to the last bite!

Two Food Nuts Caesar Salad Dressing:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard¬† (please do not use yellow mustard in this recipe)
  • 2 Anchovy fillets or 1 tsp Anchovy paste
  • 3 garlic cloves pressed or grated
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 cup canola or sunflower oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small deep mixing bowl (about 6 inches in diameter) add all the ingredients except the oil, lemon and Parmesan cheese.  Whisk  together to incorporate well. Pour the oil into a 1 cup measure with a spout.  Drizzle the oil almost drop by drop while whisking it into the eggs. The slow incorporation of the oil at the beginning insures emulsification (thickening) of the sauce. Once you have about 1/3 of the oil blended into the egg mixture, you can add a few tablespoons of oil at a time and whisk briskly after each addition.

Once all the oil is incorporated, add the lemon, Parmesan and salt and pepper. This dressing lasts in the fridge for a full week if covered.  The recipe serves 8.

The more time you spend whisking the oil into the eggs the thicker and richer the final result will be.  You are trying to get a sauce that will mound on a spoon.

Caesar dressingCook’s Tip: Place a damp towel on the counter. This helps steady the mixing bowl while you stir in the oil.

cook's tipSo there you are,  our Caesar Salad dressing!

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Pasta, Pesto, Peas!

Pasta, Pesto, Peas Please!

Some days just get crazy.¬† Whether you work or like us you live a very active retirement, we don’t always feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen to put a nice dinner on the table. To the rescue, Pasta, Pesto and Peas!¬† Our little container garden has given us a bumper crop of Basil this year. We also had a handful of fresh garden peas and some edible flowers.¬† So we thought why not make a meal that allows all the ingredients to shine on one simple plate!

Pasta Pesto and peasWe created this dish using our recipe for Pesto. Just click the link for that part of the recipe.

Two Food Nuts Pasta, Pesto and Peas dinner:

Begin by making the Pesto from our recipe.pesto ingredientsNext:

  • Set a pot of water to boil, and add plenty of salt to cook the pasta of your choice.
  • Once the pasta is almost cooked, toss in the fresh peas for just a few minutes.
  • when “al Dente”, drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.

Place the pasta and peas back in the pot, add half of the pesto and about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, stir to incorporate everything. Taste it. Do you need more Pesto? add a bit more as well as more of the water. The water helps create a sauce for the dish.

We normally make Pasta for 2 so we only use 1/2 the Pesto recipe. If you are making it for 4 people, use it all.  What the heck, everyone will have garlic on their breath anyway!

Cook’s Tip: You can add interest to a simple plate by using edible flowers to garnish. We grow nasturtiums and we also grow peas, so using the pea shoots with the edible flowers makes something special out of the ordinary!¬† Nasturtiums taste quite peppery! Try them.

Garnish  with a few fresh basil leaves, grate some Parmesan cheese on top and Presto!

You have Pasta, Pesto and Peas!

nasturtiums

 

 

 

 

 

Beans, Beans The Magical Fruit!

Two Food Nuts Baked Beans.

We’re at the cottage a good deal of the summer and there are days when it’s really just too hot to cook. That doesn’t mean you can’t make something that requires cooking though. You just have to use your Bean! ¬†Or in this case your slow-cooker. ¬†Baked beans traditionally require soaking beans overnight then boiling them for an hour,¬† but let’s get real!¬† We want good food without steaming up the kitchen or our glasses and we found a way to do it!

Baked beansThe pantry is often your best friend, so throw open the door and let’s get out the cans of Navy Beans, those little plump white, pre-soaked, par boiled darlings.¬† We’ll add¬† some great flavoring to the beans and put the slow-cooker on the picnic table till dinner’s ready. No sweating and really very little preparation.

Here’s how these Two Food Nuts make “Baked Beans”.

3 Р19 oz cans of navy beans.    Drained, rinsed and placed in a slow cooker.

Add:

  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 4 strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces and lightly¬†browned
  • 2 tbsp of the bacon fat (discard ¬†the rest)
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite spicy mustard (we like Dijon or Grainy mustard)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp hickory BBQ sauce (this ads a nice smokey taste)
  • 1/4 cup Molasses or if you live in Quebec like our son, it must be Maple Syrup!
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar, those of us that are adventurous might even give Balsamic a try.

Optional: ¬†And now for the secret ingredients.¬† A small mango or peach peeled and diced or even an apple adds a sweetness to each bite that makes it taste wonderful.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Some “Like it Hot” so add your favorite hot sauce or fresh chili for a thrill!

Once you have everything in the slow-cooker, stir gently to incorporate all the goodness and set on low until dinner. We suggest at least 6 hours.  Check the beans after 4 hours and if they are tender and the flavor has developed you can switch to the keep warm setting.  Slow-cookers vary in temperature so always check at the 4 hour mark.  Remember you are starting with beans that are fully cooked, so you can prep these at lunch and  still have full flavored baked beans by supper.

Baked beansThese baked beans will last in the refrigerator for several days if tightly covered.  That is if you have any leftover. If you are feeding more than 4 people you may want to double the recipe. These disappear fast!  Add a side of beans to your bacon and eggs this weekend!

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When in Bancroft… The Granite

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today was no ordinary day.  It was my birthday!  We had plans to visit friends in Bancroft so we made the decision to enjoy a birthday lunch instead of the usual dinner.  It was such an outstanding day today. The skies were blue it was 25 degrees with a breeze so hitting a patio was a must.

We were told that The Granite had great food and a patio, so off we went.Bancroft Granite restaurantHarry and I ordered the Ribs and Wings and they were excellent. If you like your ribs, slow cooked and tender, this is the place. The Wings come with a huge variety of sauces to choose from. There’s something for everyone’s taste. For those who know anything about Harry, he’s a fry aficionado and these met with his high standards.

Harry Hayes at The GraniteOur server Claire¬† pictured below is a very cheerful and efficient young woman who loves her job. We spoke briefly and she told us she loves meeting the folks from far and wide that come to The Granite.¬† We also had a chance to chat with Shane, the new owner and he was pleased to share his ideas about seasonal, local fare.¬† Shane took over The Granite about 2 years ago.¬† You’ll find it to be friendly, clean and great value.

Claire at The GraniteAside from the tasty menu, there’s also a good selection of Beer.¬† Beer must be in order on such a glorious day sitting on the patio overlooking the town.¬† Cheers!

Elfie Hayes The Granite restaurant Bancroft OntarioThank you to the cooks and staff of The Granite for making my Birthday such a great Day!

More Than Just A Sandwich

Heddy’s Ham, Cheese and Mushroom Croissant.

Over the years my own mother prepared a lot of great food.  Having a German heritage, meant we ate a lot of European foods.  But I loved one thing in particular that was not from her usual recipe collection.  It was a delicious sandwich that she made when her friends came to lunch.  Now I make it when I want an easy supper for Harry and I, or when our own friends join us for lunch or brunch.

Ham, cheese and mushroom criossantThe recipe we’re sharing serves 4 hungry people.¬† When this sandwich is pared with a salad it’s really a complete meal.

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