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Well ladies and gents, the time has come…everyone has to grow up some time and it is that time for this lil old blog of mine. I’ve really enjoyed sharing all my food adventures, thoughts, recipes, and restaurant experiences with you. But all good things must come to an end…but do not fear! I have now joined forces with my foodie-soulmate, Erin, and we have created a newer and shinier blog where we will continue to share recipes and restaurant reviews, plus cooking tips and “how-to” tricks.

Please take a gander over to How To Eat and check us out! I hope you’ll continue to follow me there where the delicious recipes and food musings will just be even bigger and better because now there is not one, but TWO of us to share our love and passion for food with you!

Eat Well!

Dara

Say that three times fast! This was indeed a salmon dinner perfect for summer entertaining. Lots of fresh vegetables, simply flavored salmon, and beatifully roasted potatoes and tomatoes.

I guess you could call this my take on the traditional “meat and potatoes” dinner. Salmon, standing in for the meat, delicious oven roasted fries tossed with a fragrant garlic/parsley oil, and well…I guess the vegetables don’t exactly fit, but that’s why it’s my updated version of the classic.

Salmon with Lemon, Capers, Rosemary and White wine (Adapted from this recipe)

1 pound salmon

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp dried rosemarry

2 lemons, sliced

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup white wine

4 tsp capers

Brush top of salmon with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemarry. Place in large baking dish and top the salmon with lemon slices, lemon juice, white wine, and capers.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until cooked through. Spoon extra juices on top when serving…it would be a shame to waste the lemony goodness in the pan!

For the tomatoes, I used this Cooking Light recipe. I think next time, to make this even simpler, you could roast the tomatoes along side the salmon. A one dish supper with less clean up? Sounds perfect to me!

To complete the plate and my updated classic supper, I made a simple and fresh snap pea and asparagus salad. Because when the spring and summer produce comes out, one vegetable on your plate just simply won’t do!

Snap Pea and Asparagus Salad

1 bunch sugar snap peas

1 bunch asparagus, cut into pieces

1 red pepper, chopped

grated lemon rind from 1 lemon

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 shallot, minced

handful of fresh basil, chopped

handful of walnuts, toasted

shaved parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Blanch snow peas and asparagus for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and pat dry. In a large bowl mix together lemon rind, juice, oil, shallot, mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add the snap peas, asparagus, red pepper, basil and toss to coat. Top with walnuts and parmesan cheese.

When I told people I was going for dinner to a restaurant that focuses on highlighting seasonal Canadian culture and cuisine, I was greeted with bewildered looks and many questions such as, “what is Canadian cuisine?” Excellent question! I myself was quite confused and unsure of what to expect when I walked into Keriwa Cafe with my dining companions. But after smelling the delicious scent of smoked meat and eyeing wooden tables and serving pieces, I knew we were in for a treat.

Homemade bread with butter, olive oil, and smoked pork fat

Keriwa’s menu is constantly changing and evolving to reflect the seasons and Canada’s heritage. Bison tongue, nettle soup, red wife wheat angolotti were ingredients and menu items that were intriguing and out of the ordinary. Our server was extremely knowledgable and took his job very seriously (maybe a little too seriously?) and I have not one complaint about the entire meal.

Bison slider on bannock bread with a fruit chutney

Wild mushroom soup

Red fife ravioli filled with creme faiche. Place in the soup and magic happened!

Being burger week in Toronto, this slider was a special on the menu…and we almost didn’t order it. What a mistake that would have been! That bannock bread was definitely a highlight and the fruit chutney really complimented the meaty bison flavor. The mushroom soup was another winner. I was expecting the typical cream of mushroom soup. Far from typical, the cream portion came when biting into the delicious creme fraiche filled angolotti. The soup was earthy, rich, and light all at the same time. This was definitely the winner of the night.

Spring chicken with buttermilk, rapini, farro, rhubarb

Rainbow trout with sea buckthorn, fiddleheads, nettles, celeriac

The mains were no slouches either. Perfectly cooked proteins, sauces and sides that were just so flavorful and really made you want to lick the bowl clean.

So now, when someone asks “what the heck is Canadian cuisine anyways?” I can reply, it is simply delicious!

I was never really a fan of cabbage rolls. Boiled cabbage stuffed with a ground meat and rice mixture covered in a sweet tomato sauce…this was just never really my thing. The cabbage was too soft (and a little bit too smelly!), the sauce was always too sweet, and the filling a little too greasy and heavy for my liking. If you like these traditional cabbage rolls, then my apologies. But I do love making and eating stuffed vegetables so I figured there must be a way that I could transform these green meat pockets into something oh so appealing. I found my inspiration on a rainy afternoon, watching Giada make stuffed swiss chard rolls…I like goat cheese, I like lentils, I like swiss chard…and my updated take on the traditional cabbage roll was born.

To make these more of a “hearty” meal for Adam and I, I added some vegetarian ground round to the filling…my substitute for the usual ground beef mixture. I also may have added just a tad more cheese…I figured anything stuffed with goat cheese and covered in parmesan couldn’t be a bad thing. And right I was! If you think you don’t like your grandmothers cabbage rolls, give these a try! Side note: some times the most delicious food is the least eye appealing…these swiss chard rolls may not photograph well, but do not be turned off! Have I ever steered you wrong??

Lentil, Goat Cheese, and Soy Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls (Adapted from this recipe)

1 head swiss chard (you want about 10-12 leaves)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 package veggie ground round (I used Yves)

1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature (it should be soft)

1 cup cooked brown lentils

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 cup baby arugula leaves, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce or homemade sauce

3/4 cup grated parmesan

Remove the thick stems from the swiss chard and cut in half lengthwise if very large. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add chard leaves and boil for about 10 seconds (you just want to soften them so they are easy to roll). Rinse under cold water and pat dry. They are a little delicate so just be very gentle with this step.

Mix together the brown rice, ground round, lentils, goat cheese, mint, arugula, garlic, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 cup of filling in each swiss chard leaf and roll up like you would a burrito. Spoon about 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and layer the swiss chard bundles on top. I had extra filling leftover so I just baked it along the side but you could eat it just as is (it is very very good!)

Topped with the extra filling…quite good actually!

Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and hot.

Served with a green salad

I feel like lately, I’ve really been digging Mexican food. Maybe it’s the warm weather or maybe it’s my love for corn tortillas or maybe it’s the delicious guacamole that accompanies every meal…whatever the reason, there is nothing better to me than sitting outside on a warm day and enjoying a fresh margarita, guac, salsa and chips.

In hearing many of the reviews for Playa Cabana, a Mexican restaurant that prides itself in fresh and local cuisine, it immediately moved to the top of my list for restaurants to try upon my return to Toronto. And thankfully, a friend of mine had yet to dine there and was up for an early dinner to try to beat the crowds and long waits we had read about.

Guacamole and homemade corn tortilla chips

The guac was good, the chips were fresh, but something was lacking. Maybe it all needed a bit more salt or a bit less heat on the guac…but I think this was the first time there was actually some guacamole left in the bowl for the waiter to take away. Little did we know, this was probably a good thing as the rest of the food was so delicious.

Tacos de pulpo: Grilled octopus tacos with charred jalapeno salsa

Tacos de pescado (baja style): Grilled white fish tacos

Have you ever had octopus tacos before??? Well, you are missing out! And the fish tacos, (now don’t all yell at me here) were some of the best I’ve ever had. Next time, I definitely want to try to score a spot on their patio to satisfy my summer time cravings.

Another restaurant that was on my radar even before moving back to Toronto was Acadia. A southern inspired spot in Little Italy, it has a very small, but unique and inventive menu. I already knew what I was ordering when I arrived there with my friend…and I am glad that I was not swayed by the other delicious sounding menu items.

Anson mills grits: gulf prawns, oyster mushrooms, pimento cheese, ham hock consomme, parsley

Yarmouth Albacore: blackened spices, chickpea, brown butter emulsion, maque-choux, dill

Wild rice and quinoa pilaf with golden raisins and pecans

I honestly can NOT stop thinking about these grits. Creamy, cheesy, salty, sweet, and that smokey ham broth…I would be happy with a double order of these grits on my next visit. And there will be a next visit…anyone craving some southern comfort???

So it may not be tomato season just yet, but I could not resist using them when I saw a recipe in The New Brooklyn Cookbook Adam gifted me as a souvenir of our time there. This book is fantastic…it highlights all the restaurants that helped put Brooklyn on the foodie map. So many of our favorites are featured with recipes of some of their house specialties….from the rabbit at Al Di La to the fried goat cheese salad at Rosewater…the memories of delicious dishes brings tears to my eyes!

And after using Ici’s dish as an inspiration, I will now have to visit this Fort Greene restaurant on my next visit to Brooklyn. The next time you are in a tizzy wondering what on earth you are going to make for your vegetarian dinner guests, try this recipe and prepare to wow even the biggest carnivores in your group. It’s the perfect way to showcase all of spring and summers fantastic vegetables!

Pan Fried Tomatoes topped with Goat Cheese and Lima Bean Succotash (Adapted from The New Brooklyn Cookbook)

3 eggs

1/4 cup skim milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 large tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup fresh basil plus 1 tbsp chopped basil

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

kernels from 3 ears of fresh corn

1 cup frozen lima beans, microwaved according to package instructions

1/2 large red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1/4 cup goat cheese mixed with 1 – 2 tbsp buttermilk until spreadable

salt and pepper

Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl and place the flour and panko in two separate bowls. Dip each tomato slice in the flour, then egg, and then panko and set aside until ready to cook

In a food processor or small blender, mix 1/4 cup basil leaves with the 1 tbsp olive oil and puree. Set aside

Heat two tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and pan-fry the tomatoes in batches until golden brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm in an oven at about 250 degrees.

Heat the butter in the pan over medium-high heat until bubbly. Add the corn, lima beans, onion, and bell pepper and saute until the corn is cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped basil and salt and pepper.

Spread the goat cheese mixture on the tomato slices. Spread a spoonful of the basil puree onto each plate (serves about 4 people) and spoon the succotash on top. Then lay three slices of fried tomatoes on each plate.

I’m so excited to get back to sharing some recipes with you all, and just in time for summer. Craving pasta, I wanted something light, but flavorful to avoid overheating in the scorchers we’ve been having. When I saw a fellow blogger tweet about making a caprese pasta, I knew a bowl filled with bright tomatoes, fragrant basil, and fresh mozzarella would hit the spot.

The ingredients

This bright and fresh take on a Giada recipe came together so quickly. And you can really change-up or leave out any of the vegetables I used.

Caprese Linguine with Asparagus and Zucchini

1 box whole wheat linguine

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch asparagus

2 zucchini

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces

3/4-1 cup fresh basil, torn

salt and pepper

Boil pasta according to box directions and reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water. In the last 2 minutes of boiling the pasta, add the asparagus and place in a bowl of ice water. Dry and cut into bite size pieces.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Sautee the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sautee until they start to get tender. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook and smush them with a fork to release their juice (this is what makes your sauce). Continue cooking until the tomatoes are totally soft and you have a nice sauce in the pan.

Add the asparagus, basil, pasta, and cheese and toss to combine. If the pasta isn’t “saucy” enough, add some of the reserved pasta water (I didn’t need to add any). Season with salt and pepper and ENJOY!

I hope you like this fast, healthy, and simple pasta dish as much as I did. A new summer family favorite!

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