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.

 

 

Advertisements

Braised Red Cabbage With Apples

Braised Red Cabbage With Apples.

Elfie and momWinter¬† wouldn’t be Winter without a big pot of Braised Red Cabbage with Apples!¬† This is a family recipe that has been handed down by my mom and my grandmother. As you know by following this blog, we are big vegetable fans. Harry and I aren’t vegetarians but a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is just plain healthy.¬† Red cabbage is regular visitor on the German table, so it’s my pleasure to share my mother’s recipe with you.

PS: Shhh…..Elfie’s Mom always put fried bacon in this recipe! Maybe Bacon is the secret to living to 84!

 

TwoFoodNuts Braised Red Cabbage with Apples:

  • 1 medium red cabbage
  • 2 large or 4 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (mom would have used red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil (optional, but it gives richness to the finished dish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Braised Red cabbage with applesYou’ll need a dutch oven to prepare this recipe.¬† We don’t make it in a slow cooker,¬† but you can certainly use one.¬† The recipe makes a large batch that’s perfect for a big crowd or for freezing.

Begin by quartering the cabbage. Remove the big white core.  Now finely slice the quarters. As you slice one of the cabbage quarters, layer on one sliced apple and a tiny bit of salt and pepper. (go easy here so its not too salty).

Red cabbage

Once you have all the cabbage and apples layered, pour the other ingredients into the pot.  Now, let the stove top or the slow cooker do all the work!

Cook’s Tip:¬† If using a slow cooker, cook on low all day and turn up to high with the lid off for about an hour to reduce the excess moisture.

I cook the cabbage on medium-low for about 2 hours covered. Then remove the lid for the remainder of the cooking time. You want the excess moisture to cook away, leaving the cabbage in a light glaze.¬† The dish is finished when the cabbage is tender and the apples have dissolved. Taste for salt and pepper. That’s it!

Look at that color!¬† Here we served the Braised Red Cabbage and Apples along side quality smoked sausages with hot mustard and fluffy mashed potatoes and finally our creamed Kohlrabi and Carrots.¬† It’s equally good with our German Rouladen.

Guten Apettit!

red cabbage Next time you go shopping, look for this much under-used vegetable and you may just find a new side dish in our braised red cabbage!

 

 

 

Kohlrabi and Carrots

Creamed Kohlrabi and Carrots, Yum!

Not many people know how to cook Kohlrabi.¬† It’s not some strange tasting thing, but it does look a bit unusual. Kohlrabi is in the turnip family and has a very mild taste. It’s a very crisp veg when used raw but tender when cooked.¬† Here we paired it with carrots in a cream sauce. It actually makes a nice change from potatoes as the accompaniment to our Easy Roast Chicken.

white and purple kohlrabi varieties

If you try this recipe and like it you can thank Elfie’s mom!¬† This may be an old fashioned way of serving this much under-used vegetable but one that needs to be in your recipe box.

Creamed Kohlrabi (1)

TwoFoodNuts Creamed Kohlrabi and Carrots:

  • 3 Kohlrabi peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 carrots peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 low sodium chicken stock cube
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 and 1/2¬† to 2 cups milk (the sauce should be creamy not gloppy)
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Pepper to taste.

Kohlrabi peelCook’s Tip: You must take a thick peel off to get to the crisp white flesh.¬† We use a knife to peel them.¬†¬† Salt the dish once the vegetables are cooked and in the finished sauce. The stock cube can add enough salt.

Once the vegetables are cut into 1/2 inch pieces, place in cold water with the stock cube and boil in gently boiling water unto the kohlrabi is tender.¬† We can’t tell you exactly as they can be very crisp if fresh and somewhat softer if not so fresh. You want them to keep their shape but be just tender.

While the veggies are cooking, make the sauce in a non-stick saucepan large enough to hold the sauce and the cooked veggies. Place the butter and flour into the saucepan and heat gently to melt the butter into the flour.  Once it is smooth, whisk in 1 & 1/2 cups of the milk.  Turn up the heat to medium high and allow the sauce to thicken.

If you find it’s really thick, add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Simmer for another minute.¬† Now grate in the nutmeg and a good grind of pepper.¬† Drain the cooked Kohlrabi/Carrot mix and stir into the cream sauce. Add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning. Add salt only if the finished dish is a bit bland. Top the veggies with another sprinkle of parsley when serving.

Kohlrabi and carrotsJPGWe served the Creamed Kohlrabi and Carrots with our delectable Easy Roast Chicken.  No Potatoes tonight!  You should give it a try.

 

 

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

 

 

Aunt Iona’s Wax Beans In Cream,

Not Your Ordinary Wax Beans.

My Aunt Iona was born on a farm in Palmer Rapids Ontario and she was a fabulous cook.¬† I credit her with getting me started on my culinary journey.¬† I spent many a summer vacation with her at the cottage in Palmer Rapids Ontario.¬† She was very patient in showing me how to grow things and how to prepare the meals with the produce.¬† The bounty of Iona’s garden was always cooked simply but in a way that was so delicious.¬† One of my favorite recipes that Iona made was her Wax Beans In Cream.

Iona's Beans in cream

Iona’s Wax Beans in Cream Recipe:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Iona Mantifel

  • One pound of beans, tipped, and cut into inch and a half pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the beans in salted water until just tender. Drain and return to the pot.  Turn up the heat for just 30 seconds to dry off the beans. (This helps keep the sauce rich)  Add the butter, cream and lots of freshly ground pepper and simmer for 3-4 minutes  Indulge!

It’s been a heart-warming memory for me to share this recipe with you. I hope you will try to carry on some of the food traditions that your family has created.¬† There’s something wonderful about keeping our beloved family members alive through our joy of cooking their recipes!

luv you

Miss you everyday Aunt Iona!

Love Elfie.

 

 

Best Ever Roast Potatoes!

Crispy Outside, Tender Inside!

We love potatoes and the roast potato is one of our all time favorites. We love to serve them with our fabulous Easy Roast Chicken but lets be serious all meats benefit from being served along side of these babies!

Best ever roast potatoes

TwoFoodNuts Best Ever Roast Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs Russet Potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt for boiling
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Begin by peeling the potatoes. We love the fluffy inside when this is the potato that’s used. It does work with white potatoes too but the inside is a bit more waxy when cooked.

Cut the potatoes into big chunks. If the potatoes are small, leave them whole, if medium cut them in half and if they are large cut into quarters. If they are too small they loose that fluffy center. Start them in a pot of cold water with salt.  Boil until just tender. you want them to hold their shape.

boiled potatoes

Place the potatoes into an oven proof dish and drizzle with plenty of olive olive, sprinkle on some fresh minced Rosemary.  Place in a hot oven 400F until they are golden brown. ( you should turn them over when they are crispy on the top side).

 

roast potatoes

You know your Best Ever Roast Potatoes are done when they are brown all over and pierce with the point of a knife. Now lets dish it up and call it dinner!

Best ever roast potatoesIs your mouth watering yet?

Two Food Nuts Secret Sauce.

The Perfect Sauce.

We created a tomato sauce that is so versatile that we want to share it with you today. We use this sauce when we make our fabulous Cabbage Rolls, Stuffed Peppers and we’ve even used it with our beautiful Ricotta filled Zucchini flowers. It’s such a winner that you have to give it a try.¬† It’s so simple to make and you can freeze it so you’re never out of the sauce that makes your food sing!

Stuffed peppersDSC01741Two Food Nuts Secret Sauce:

  • 1 large can Tomato Juice
  • 1¬† 680 ml can of Spaghetti Sauce (this is about 24 oz or 3 cups ) Harry uses Hunts Extra Spicy
  • 1 bottle of Pasata. (This is pur√©ed tomatoes)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 red chili, seeded and minced is optional but oh so good.

Begin by: Placing everything into a dutch oven. Stir well and and allow to simmer on medium low for 1/2 an hour. Now you can allow it to cool and divide it into small portions for freezing or use it right away for Cabbage Rolls or Stuffed peppers.

Secret SauceOther uses:

  • Pan Stew with Chicken and potatoes (above)
  • Add it to a pasta with stir fried sausage and peppers
  • It makes a great base for a tomato rice soup
  • It can be a sauce for home made pizza
  • Add extra flavor to Tostatas
  • Riccotta stuffed shells

Enjoy making this simple sauce and let us know if you found a new use for it in your own Kitchen.¬† We’d love to know how you used our Secret Sauce!¬† Happy cooking.

 

 

 

Scalloped Potatoes A La TwoFoodNuts.

Scalloped Potatoes Reach Super Stardom.

Most people don’t really think that Potatoes are particularly special or healthy.

So it’s a surprise for many to discover one medium potato (5.3 oz) with the skin contains:

  • 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C
  • More potassium (620 mg) than even bananas, spinach, or broccoli;
  • 10 percent of the daily value of B6
  • Trace amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc

…and all this for just 110 calories and no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

Our Scalloped Potato recipe takes this nutritional powerhouse and turns it into the star of your dinner.

Scalloped Potatoes

We love to make this dish when we have company because it can be assembled a few hours before the guests arrive and it bakes in the oven without supervision till the rest of the meal is ready.¬† Please note, this is a high fat recipe.¬† When we make it we pretend we’re French because the French love anything with cheese and cream. We only make this on special occasions, so go ahead and indulge every now and again.

TwoFoodNuts Scalloped Potatoes:

Serves 6 people

  • 6 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, or other thin skinned white potatoes (do not use Baking Potatoes)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (you can substitute Swiss Cheese)
  • 2 and 1/2¬† to 3 cups¬† of 35%whipping cream¬† (you can go as low as 18% cream to save a few calories)
  • Salt and Pepper

Use an open casserole dish that is about 6 by 9 inches or a deep round dish such as the one below that will allow at least 4-5 layers of potatoes.

cooking tools

Using a Mandolin (see above), slice the potatoes to 1/8 inch thick (no need to peel if the skins are nice and thin).¬† Grate the cheese on the course side of a box grater.¬† Divide the cheese in half.¬† Begin by layering the potatoes in a single layer in your pan. Lightly salt and pepper the layer and sprinkle just a pinch of cheese over the potatoes, continue in this manner until you’ve used all the potatoes.¬† Finish with the remaining 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour the cream over the dish and it’s ready for the oven.

scalloped Potatoes

We bake the dish at 300F so the potatoes soften and the cheese turns into a golden crust.¬† The exact baking time will vary depending on the size of the casserole but it should take about an hour to bake completely. We test with a knife after about 45 minutes of baking. The tip of the knife should go right through the layers easily when its done. Don’t rush it if the potatoes aren’t nice and soft!

Serve with your favorite meat or seafood. We love these potatoes with a succulent piece of Roast Chicken, or a thick juicy Pork Chop, but it works equally as well with a slice of Salmon or a Steak.

A Delicata Situation

Discovering Winter Squash

At the Farmer‚Äôs Market we picked up a squash that was advertised as Potato Squash. The funny thing is it’s actually named Delicata Squash, a much prettier name. When we were ready to cook we needed to research whether it was a winter or summer squash and how to prepare it . Google to the rescue!¬† In minutes it was being dressed for dinner! This humble squash could be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner. The pumpkin seeds and cranberries are sure to compliment the Turkey!

DelicataSince most squash benefits from roasting with some sort of fat we opted to prepare it to match the flavors of the Honey Mustard Chicken thighs we had on hand for dinner. We‚Äôre happy to report that we think this is a hit! The flavor was not unlike a potato, so now we understand the nickname. We’re certainly going to serve this to company!

If you haven’t given this humble little squash a try, perhaps this recipe will change your mind. We think even the kids will like the taste due to the gentle flavor and the addition of honey to the recipe.

TwoFoodNuts Delicata Squash:

¬Ĺ Squash per person is a serving.

Per piece of squash use

  • 2 tsp soft butter
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Sprinkling of Pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries

Split the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Arrange in a baking dish

Delicata SquashMix the appropriate amount of honey and cider vinegar in a bowl depending on the number of squash you are cooking. Salt and pepper the squash, dollop the butter along the squash and spoon a bit of the honey and vinegar mixture on top of each piece. Finish with the pumpkin seeds and cranberries.

Delicata SeasoningBake in a hot oven, 400F for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the squash. It should be well browned and the tip of a knife should pierce the flesh. Cooking times will vary.¬† We served it with Nigel Slater’s Sticky Chicken Thighs recipe. Give it a try!

Potato SquashDon’t be afraid to try new things. You will increase your cooking skills and thrill your family all at the same time. Your guests will be delighted to try something new as well!¬† Happy Fall!

So Many Veggies, So Little Time!

A Week Of Healthy Eating!

We’ve come back home after 4 and a half months at the cottage, and aside from condiments, the fridge was bare. It was such a rainy day that we decided we might as well be visiting a few favorite places to grab some fresh food.¬† When you think of farm-fresh produce around here you think of Linton’s Farm Market. That’s were we ended up today.

Linton's Farm MarketDespite the down pour we filled our market basket with everything from Apples to Zuchinni! It’s going to get very interesting around here in the next few days.

Market BasketYour TwoFoodNuts Meal forecast for this week!

We’d say this bountiful trip to Linton’s will be followed by a chance of Curry Squash & Apple Soup and a downpour of Roasted Root Vegetables in Balsamic with a flurry of German Potato pancakes.¬† Expect to see a Plum Pie in the evening with a clearing trend that ushers in Iona’s Wax Beans In Cream to round out the forecast.

DSC01107.JPG

We’re certainly going to be healthy when this week is over. What’s your favorite Farmer’s Market?¬† Use the handy form to comment.

 

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!

 

Our First Pop-up!

Our First Pop-up Was A Success!

Pop- up by definition: Denoting a store or other business that opens quickly in a temporary location and is intended to operate for only a short period of time.

TwoFoodnuts pop-upOn Friday we packed the car with everything needed to cook for the owner of Silgrey Resort We planned on making lunch for Mike using the fruits of his garden.  He was very generous with his produce earlier in the week when we had just met him.  We wanted to show our appreciation for the beautiful Zucchini Flowers  he gave us by cooking for him.

filled zucchini flowersWe arrived at the resort about 11:30 with everything necessary to Pop-up. Harry and I got started by cooking a wonderful farmer’s sausage to accompany the Summer Ratatouille. You’ll remember we made it last week for the first time after our visit to the local farmer’s market.¬† Next the chopping of the veggies began. Its Harry’s specialty.¬† Nobody preps food like Harry! I¬† like to do a lot of the actual cooking but his skilled prep makes the whole thing come together so professionally. TwoFoodNuts pop-upEven Mike lent a hand with the stirring. He told us he had been so inspired by our walk through the garden earlier in the week that he had harvested and prepared one of his own spaghetti squash for dinner the night before. Lets not mention here that he and his wife ate like a family of 4 because it was so delicious! Its just between us Mike.

Mike cooks RatatouilleWithin no time our lunch came together.¬† Today we had the most varied Summer Ratatouille yet.¬† Mike’s garden provided us with Tomatoes, Globe Squash, Swiss Chard (stems and leaves), Green Beans and we supplemented that with Sweet Peppers, Pearl Potatoes, Patty Pan Squash, a Hot Red Chili and Double Smoked Bacon.¬† What doesn’t benefit from the addition of Bacon?

TwoFoodnuts ratatouilleWell, it looks like we’ve come to the point in the festivities where we get to indulge, taste, eat, savor and delight in the spontaneous cooking experience of the pop-up!

Dinner's readyWe wish you could be here to try this wholesome lunch made mainly of right-from-the-garden vegetables with a bit of quality Farmer Sausage and topped with fresh Feta.

To make this a meat free dish don’t use bacon and do not add a side of sausage. This dish has great flavor as a vegetarian meal!

Two Food Nuts Summer ratatouilleA great big thanks to Mike of Silgrey Resort for providing such an amazing setting for our very first pop-up!  Lets do this again real soon!

We concluded the meal with a dessert of Muffin Guts, but you’ll have to wait to find out what that is in a few days. We can’t give it all away right now.¬† Just so you know, Mike loved it!¬†¬† So don’t be scared when you see us post it.

 

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!

If you have a question or comment please use the handy form below to contact us.  We love to hear from our readers. Be sure to share your favorite recipes with your own friends on Facebook or Twitter!

 

 

 

 

Bacon and Cheese Cauliflower Bake.

Bacon and Cheese Cauliflower Bake, What’s not to Love?

We just happen to love cauliflower. We also think there’s not much that can’t be improved upon by using Bacon and Cheese! So we came up with this side dish that works with just about any meat but to be honest, Elfie eats it as a meal with a salad.  Ok, she doesn’t always eat the salad!

Bacon and cheese CauliflowerThere are a few steps to this dish but it is easy enough for a novice cook to create!

We use our ‚ÄúCrummy Topping‚ÄĚ in this dish so just click the link to get to it. It‚Äôs a good idea to make the topping as a separate recipe first. Set it aside while you do the rest.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 4 strips thick sliced bacon (or eight regular) cut into Lardon (see image below)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Chicken stock cube or packet
  • 1 garlic clove minced or grated
  • ¬Ĺ a fresh grated nutmeg (or ¬Ĺ tsp ready grated)
  • Salt and ¬†pepper to taste ( see Cooks a Tip below)
  • 2 cups of grated cheese
  • 1 cup of ¬†‚ÄúCrummy Topping‚ÄĚ

Cook’s Tip: Use sharp cheeses to give interest to the sauce. We use Feta, Parmesan and aged White Cheddar. You can use whatever you like or have on hand.  No rules here!

Cut the Cauliflower into florets and steam until just tender.

cauliflowerFry the Lardon until crisp, drain off fat.

LardonFried baconGrate the various cheeses

grated cheeseIn a large saucepan melt the butter together with the flour. Stir it into a paste and add the milk all at once.   Whisk the sauce until its nice and thick over medium high heat.

Bacon and cheese sauce Add the stock cube or packet, nutmeg, garlic, bacon, salt, pepper and all the cheese.

Bacon and cheese saucePlace the cauliflower into the sauce and stir it well to incorporate. Spread the mixture into a buttered casserole dish large enough to hold everything.  Spread the Crummy Topping over the casserole and bake at 350F degrees until you can see the cheese sauce bubbling and the Crummy Topping is golden brown.

We hope you’ll give this recipe a try for your next family gathering. We believe it will be as big a hit at your table as it has been at ours!

Bacon and cheese Cauliflower

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!

Don’t forget to share the recipe with your Facebook and Twitter friends. We love to know how you like the recipes, so please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Carrots

Rosemary Honey Glazed Carrots!

When we think of vegetables, we don’t automatically think about how much we love carrots.¬† They have been categorized as something ordinary, something you just have in the fridge and have to use up. But in fact they are something special.

Rosemary and Honey glazeed CarrotsI’m going to suggest that you will want to celebrate this beautiful, sweet, underrated vegetable once¬† you try our recipe for Rosemary and Honey glazed carrots. I’m going to bet that your children will even ask for seconds once they try carrots prepared this way.

The method used to prepare these carrots is a bit different from the usual way of boiling the flavor right out. When we prepare the carrots, they retain their color and their flavor. Even Buggs Bunny would agree!

There’s one thing that we’d like to express about carrots. Please don’t use those little carrots in the bag!¬† They are “machined” from whole carrots.¬† The outer part and all the nutritional layers are peeled off in the process.¬† They are also soaked in Clorine to maintain freshness.¬† We recommend using whole fresh carrots. You don’t even need to peel them!

Vegetables are a necessity for good health and preparing them in ways that preserve the vitamins is always best. You’ll be surprised at how flavorful this dish is and its largely because we don’t loose it all in the preparation. ¬† Carrots are a Super-food. Dr. Ann Carrots nutritional value.

Here’s our Two Food Nuts Recipe.

  • One bunch fresh carrots, we prefer those with the tops intact
  • 3 fresh Rosemary springs (2 for cooking, 1 for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (we have not used margarine and do not recommend it)
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid Honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

In a shallow skillet, place the carrots that have been sliced in half lengthwise, add enough water to come half way up the carrots.  DO NOT COVER.   Add the salt now.  Top with the butter and 2 of the  Rosemary sprigs.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and continue to cook until the carrots are barely crisp tender. This only takes a few minutes.  Remove the lid and turn the heat to high just to evaporate the remaining water. Once again, just a few minutes. Remove the Rosemary and drizzle with the Honey.  Add Pepper as desired.

two food nuts rosemary and honey glazed carrotsThe end result will be Carrots that are tender not limp, the sweetness of the vegetables is further enhanced by the Honey, plus the Rosemary adds a deep earthiness to this already earthy vegetable. No need to add butter either, its been cooked right into the carrots.

Now eat your veggies and ask for seconds!

 

 

 

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Flavor Packed Roasted GrapeTomatoes.

Any time of year is a great time for Grape or Cherry Tomatoes.  During the cold winter months tomatoes leave a lot to be desired in the taste department.  They tend to be hard orbs without the color or taste of a vine ripe tomato. To the rescue the glossy red or yellow Grape or Cherry Tomato. This recipe captures the sweetness and amps up the taste with the help of fresh garlic and Rosemary and a quality olive oil.

grape or cherry tomatoesHere’s our recipe:

Heat Oven to 400F degrees

  • 1 container grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves halved
  • 2 Rosemary springs
  • 1 good pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup quality Olive oil

If you want a subtle twist to this recipe, try a good splash of flavoured Balsamic vinegar such as fig or truffle before roasting the tomatoes.

DSC_5879In a shallow oven-proof dish, spread the tomatoes, rosemary and garlic slices. Add the sea salt and pour over the Olive oil. Place in hot oven. You will smell the tomatoes once they reach the stage of perfection. Make sure the skins are starting to burst and they will be ready. Set aside until they cool.

You can now use them with a savory cheese side dish as an appetizer, or as part of a light sauce for your next pasta dish. We use them in many of our Italian recipes. Watch for more ways to use this ingenious little dish right here on the blog.

roasted Grape tomatoes with herbed goat cheeseFor the Goat Cheese Spread:

  • 1 small tube of goat cheese (about 4 ounces) at room temperature.
  • 1 tbsp Herb de Provence¬†¬† This herb mixture is available at most grocery stores packaged under a variety of brand names. As long as it is fresh choose the one you like.
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive oil.

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl.  Let rest for an hour or so to allow the herbs to infuse the cheese.  Serve by spreading on your choice of crackers and topping with a roasted Grape or Cherry Tomato. We love Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuit Crackers!

herbed Goat Cheese

This is one of our favorite go-to appetizers when we have a garlicy main dish on the menu. It’s easy to make a day ahead and keeps for several days in the fridge. We prefer to allow the tomatoes to be room temperature when serving. It lets the flavors shine.

Let us know if you tried this simple yet tasty dish. Share this recipe with frineds and family on Facebook if you enjoyed it!

 

 

Lets Get Pickled!

Refrigerator Pickles are Easy!

Can’t you just taste a crunchy pickle with a sandwich or a burger?¬† The pungent flavor enhances everything it accompanies. Now, its easy enough to buy a jar of pickles, but we have to say there is great satisfaction in producing a good pickle at home not to mention its easy!¬† You select the veggies that you love and add the seasonings of your choice. It’s a “Custom Pickle” if you will.

Refrigerator PicklesWe made a selection of vegetables that are seasonal. The first pickling cucumbers of the year were in the market, along with fresh asparagus and green beans. We added the remaining veggies based on the beautiful colors they would bring to the finished product.  We love pickled cauliflower and red onions so they had to star in the show!  Carrots and peppers lend their subtle taste and vibrant hues to the artful designs in the jars.

refidgerator picklesAnd now the recipe:

A selection of veggies that appeal to your taste and your eye.

We used:

  • 3 Asparagus spears
  • 8-10 Green beans
  • I large carrot sliced
  • 1/2 each of red and green pepper
  • 4 mini pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup each of cauliflower and broccoli florets
  • 1 small red onion (leave the root end in tact to hold the slices together)
  • 2 tbsp pickling spice (available in the spice aisle)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • fresh dill springs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced

Optional:  A few hot pepper rings just to add the slightest hint of warmth not heat. We prepared our veggies first then once they were cut as desired we sterilized the jars.

Preparing the jars:

It’s very important to sterilize the canning jars. These pickles are made from raw vegetables and are not processed in a canning pot, so scrupulously clean jars are vital.¬† We wash them either by hand or in the dishwasher with hot water and soap. Then fill the jars half full of water and heat in the microwave at full power for 5 minutes. For the recipe above we used 3 jars of various size (see image below). Lids can simple be boiled in a pot of water for 5 minutes.

Once the jars have been heat processed in the microwave, drain the water and allow to air dry before filling.

home made mixed picklesFor the Pickling Brine:

  • In a 2 quart saucepan mix together the pickling spice, vinegar, water, sugar, salt, garlic cloves and hot pepper rings if using.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, fill the jars with layer of veggies.¬† Slip a few pieces of dill in between the layers.
  • Be creative!

Once the jars are filled with the vegetables, pour the hot liquid in. Do this slowly and allow the pickling brine to flow around the contents.¬† Once all the jars have been filled, add the tops and seal them tightly using a towel. Everything will be very hot at this point. Tip the jars once or twice to distribute the liquid and the spices.¬† Now you’re done!

It takes 2 weeks for the pickles to reach their maximum flavor and they will last up to 3 months in the Fridge.

We love to hear your comments about the recipes we share on the blog and we appreciate when you share the blog with your friends via Facebook and Twitter!   Happy Pickling.

Asparagus Provencal

A Fresh New Take on Asparagus.

For those of us that have been around a while Asparagus was not always a favorite vegetable. I recall it being a soggy dull green veg that came in a can and was always presented at our house for Sunday Dinner. I suppose as veggies went in the 60’s it was expensive so it had to be held over for special meals.

Things have changed and Asparagus is no longer expensive and comes fresh from the fields so there’s no excuse not to try this fresh new version.

Asparagus Provencal

Not only is this a great way to prepare a summer classic but it takes no time at all.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch fresh Asparagus (ends removed) and cut pieces into thirds
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, (we love the tri-colour type) halved (see cook’s tip)
  • 1 large or two medium garlic cloves sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

To finish: Pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice for freshness.

Place all but the pine nuts and lemon juice into a shallow pan. Stir over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low for another 3-5 minutes. Take care not to allow the Asparagus to become too soft, otherwise this will be just like the stuff of childhood.

Asparagus ProvencalOnce the Asparagus is just tender, squeeze the lemon juice over the top, remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with the pine nuts.¬† There’s a certain something that’s hard to describe about the combination of the cherry tomatoes and the Asparagus. Perhaps its the sweetness of the tomatoes combined with the oil and lemon juice, but it’s sublime.

Asparagus Provencal

Cook’s tip:

Cutting Cherry tomatoes en-mass

  • Corral the tomatoes on a ziplock lid, cover with the second lid.
  • Place your hand on top to steady the tomatoes and slice through with a large knife.
  • You’ve halved a dozen of the little gems in a few seconds!

Cherry TomatoesCherry TomatoesCherry Tomatoes

If you enjoyed this recipe don’t forget to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!¬† Somethings are just to good to keep to yourself.

 

Hot Day, Refreshing Cool Salad

Bean Medley, one of summer’s tasty delights.

How often do you turn to vegetables like beans to make a salad?  Most of us think lettuce first. At our home this Bean Medley is a perennial favorite when new crop beans are available at the market. There is a special crisp, sweet character early in the summer, so the very first time you see them, try out this easy dish.

We especially love that the dressing is stable and can be taken to a BBQ or picnic without the worry of spoilage. Mayo based dressings are always risky when the temperature climbs, but this oil and vinegar dressing is safe even at room temperature.

Three bean salad

The Two Food Nuts Recipe.

  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pound Mixed¬†yellow and green beans trimmed and cut to 1 1/2 inch pieces( I grab two good handfuls of each) when shopping
  • 1 small sweet onion minced finely
  • 1 tsp salt

Place the yellow and green beans in gently boiling salted water and cook until just fork tender. Drain well and place into a large bowl. Add the kidney beans and finely chopped onion. You’ll find that the onion will loose all its sharpness once the dressing is allowed to fully marinate the salad.

For the Dressing

1/4 cup each:

  • Canola oil
  • ¬†Rice wine vinegar
  • ¬†White sugar.

Then add just enough salt and pepper to suit your taste.

Whisk together and add to the beans and onions while the yellow and green beans are still warm. This really helps the veggies absorb the dressing.

If you like a salad with attitude you can add a bit of fresh chili (with or without the seeds depending on how brave you are).

Red chili peppers

Now the temptation is to serve it up right away, but honestly the salad is best when made the day before and allowed to marinate.

Be the hit of your next summer supper or pot luck with is Bean a Medley Salad. ¬†Let us know how you enjoyed it!¬† Don’t forget to share this recipe with your friends on Facebook.

Three bean salad

 

Mexican Street Corn

Nothing Corny Here!

Recently we were at a great new Restaurant on King St. W in Toronto.¬† Its called Wilbur Mexicana. It’s Mexican, it’s Hipster, it’s Delicious! We stopped in after a long day of appointments in the city and we were ready to eat. When you enter the restaurant, you find the menus hanging on hooks along a little wall. You grab your menu, step up to the cash, grab a drink, order your meal and pay. You are given a number to place on your table and in no time at all (even though the place is packed) a friendly server brings your food. Wilbur Mexicana restaurant You need to stop by the Salsa bar once the food arrives. There must be 100 hot sauces to choose from. From “baby steps” to who invited “Diablo” you are going to find something to kick up the already awesome food. Wilbur Mexicana

We decided to try the Mexican Street Corn on the advice of the young woman who greeted us as we arrived.

Lets just say it did not disappoint!  The corn was hot and slightly smokey from being grilled over fire.

It was then spread with a Mayo type sauce and rolled in a salty crumbly cheese. The main course was the fajita but for now we want to talk about the corn.

Next time we went shopping there was really good corn in the grocery store so it was decided that we’d give it a shot, using our own method and ingredients and the result was amazing.

Mexican Street Corn

Method:

Remove the husk from the corn and microwave for 4 minutes grill to char slightly on the BBQ (fresh corn does not take long to cook.) Brush with President’s choice Chipotle Mayo or if not available mix any quality Chipotle sauce into Mayo Sprinkle with grated cheese. We tried both Feta and Parmesan and we loved both! Finally add a small amount of chopped Cilantro for a finishing touch. You may or may not want a bit of salt as the Mayo is quite spicy.

Bueno appetitie!

Mexican Street Corn