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Archive for August, 2011

The Last Seafood Supper!

The other night I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at my close friend and fellow food lover Lauren’s house. We have this tradition of getting together every so often and cooking a delicious meal. They seem to always revolve around some sort of seafood and then we come up with various sides to compliment the seafood of choice. This past dinner was unfortunately my last dinner with Lauren before I make the big move to Brooklyn. But do not fret…Lauren already has her flight booked to visit where you can be sure, some delicious dining will occur! (being the food nerds we are, we’ve already chosen one of our restaurants!)

Lauren was definitely the head chef for this dinner….she cooked up some delicious scallops in a paprika syrup with sautéed spinach and toasted pine nuts and scrumptious spelt (which Lauren learned is the same thing as Farro) with mushrooms. If you’re not familiar with spelt/Farro it’s a whole grain that tastes kind of like a cross between barley and wheat berries. Both recipes come straight from Cooking Light Magazine…which we both happen to have a subscription to and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by one of their recipes. I highly suggest you check out their website!

The links to the scallops can be found here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/scallops-with-spinach-paprika-50400000111096/

The one change we both agreed we would make next time was to thicken the sauce a little bit.

The link to the spelt can be found here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spelt-wild-mushroom-pilaf-10000001672996/

Once we mixed everything together on the plate, the flavour of the syrup, spinach, and spelt went perfectly together! In fact, I would probably add some sautéed spinach to the mushroom spelt pilaf the next time I make it!

Thank you Laur for an amazing dinner! I can’t wait to return the favour when you come visit!

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In continuing on with my attempts to break away from recipes…I went a step further this time! I happen to work in an office with not only a fantastic group of women, but also food loving women! So when we have our monthly office potlucks…there’s a lot of pressure to create a delicious dish. I came across this Giada recipe and when I sent the recipe to my co-worker with my changes she replied with, “this is a totally new dish!” Cooking freestyling success! See, not so hard right? This has now become my go-t0 summer salad recipe. Corn is so sweet right now, and mango…don’t even get me started!

Roasted corn, black bean, and mango salad (Adapted from Giada Delaurentis)

4 ears of corn, husked

2 red peppers, diced

2 zucchini diced

2 mango diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Dressing

1/2-1 cup basil, finely chopped

4 limes, zested and juiced

1 1/2 tsp cumin

2-4 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or to taste)

1-2 tbsp olive oil (or to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill pan over medium-medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Place corn on grill pan and cook until some parts are charred, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from grill pan and let cool. Slice corn off of cobs (a good trick is to take a smaller bowl and invert it in a bigger bowl. Place your cob of corn on top of the bowl and cut down. All the kernels will fall in the bigger bowl). Add the mango, zucchini, red pepper, and black beans to the corn.

Mix all dressing ingredients together and pour over salad and mix to combine.

This salad is delicious as a vegetarian main topped with feta or as a side dish for grilled chicken.

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Roasted Vegetable Tart

In searching for a vegetarian based brunch recipe, I came across this Anna Olson roasted garlic vegetable tart. I remember watching this episode on food network and thinking how beautiful, delicious, and healthy this recipe was. Perfect for a big family lunch affair! Now I know it may not be winter squash season, but I just love the sweet, buttery flavour of roasted butternut squash. In combo with roasted garlic and feta…what could be bad! Now this recipe uses phyllo…I used to be intimidated to work with these delicate sheets of pastry but really…not hard at all!

Now for those of you who know me (which is probably most of you at this stage in my bloggin career!), you may know of my need to stick to a recipe…EXACTLY! Well, I am proud to say I freestyled a little on this one! And while the tart may not have been perfect, it was still quite tasty! Perhaps more recipe experimentation is in my future!

Roasted Garlic Vegetable Tart (Adapted from Anna Olson)

2 heads of garlic, the top part cut off to expose the cloves

2 butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 red pepper, diced

1 head fennel, thinly sliced

2 tbsp sage, chopped

1 cup feta, diced

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

11 sheets phyllo

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap garlic in a single layer in aluminum foil and place in oven for about 45-60 minutes, or unil nice and tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

Toss butternut squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on roasting pans and bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove and let cool. Place butternut squash in bowl with red pepper, fennel, sage, and squeeze out roasted garlic into bowl and mix together. Turn down oven to 375.

Next, unroll phyllo and cover with damp paper towel. Spray 11 inch pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Start layering phyllo in pan, place one horizontally, and spray with cooking spray and then place one vertically and spray with cooking spray and continue until you have a “crust.” Pour filling into phyllo crust and fold or crimp edges. Brush edges with a little oil and top with feta. Place pie in oven for about 25 minutes, or until phyllo is browned.

So I have to say that the flavour and presentation were amazing! However, when cut, the filling kind of fell out of the pie. I think next time I would bake it in a shallower pan or use a sturdier crust. Or perhaps add an egg or puree the squash to act as a binder. This would also probably be delicious just baked as roasted garlic and vegetables topped with feta without the pastry.

I am now left with several sheets of phyllo…spanakopita anyone?

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Welcome to my Blog!

 Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dara and I am a  food lover.  I am in the process of moving from Toronto, Canada to Brooklyn, New York and am excited to surround and immerse myself in local and REAL food! Now REAL food…what is that? Homecooked goodness! I believe that in order to eat well, you have to cook well! (now my blog title makes sense!) We can all do it, it’s not hard…I think a lot of people are afraid and just lack confidence to break out their knives and bang out a delicious dinner. Well, that is why I created my blog. I hope to inspire you to get back into that kitchen and put down your can openers, step away from the microwave and get back to cookin’!

Food also has this unique opporutnity to bring people together, spark conversation and debate, and let’s not forget, taste utterly delicious!  My ultimate goal is to inspire people to reconnect with food and get back to sitting down to family dinners and cooking real food. Of course, it is also nice to enjoy good food cooked by someone else! That is why I will also highlight the meals, snacks, and delicious bites I have at restaurants, cafes, farmers markets, and anywhere else good food can be found.

I hope you join me in my slightly food obsessed world!

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