Weather or not…

There are times when everything lines up and comes together for a flavourful experience.  And when the weather behaves so it makes sense for this meal, well life is really good.  November can be really dreary up here.  The autumn colours are long gone, the city has picked up the leaves, days are no longer crisp and clear, no beautiful snow shots at the moment to ease the cold.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anxious to start shoveling the white stuff.  But this past Saturday?  Gorgeous.  Bright sun with a warmth in the air.  Salad weather if you can believe it.

Which is just what I wanted.  I had several ingredients that would make a perfect salad but it is soup weather.  So Saturday was a real treat.  I had posted about pomegranates and two bloggers gave me a great idea to use in salads.  First Richard from REMCooks mentioned his wife likes the pomegranates in a salad and then Claire from An Eye For Food mentioned pomegranates with smoked salmon.  Plus I had figs to use up.  Perfect!  🙂

I made a quick fig jam, very rustic but very good.  I chopped up the figs and in a small saucepan heated them up.

Fig salad 1 2013

I mushed them as they started to heat up and added about 1/2 cup of organic apple cider.  While that was cooking I started plating the salad.  I used mixed spring greens, yellow and orange peppers, smoked salmon, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and then once the jam was done I spooned that round.  Finished with a lemon chive dressing.  I confess, I bought the dressing.  But it looked good and it was.  🙂

Fig salad 2 2013

This was the best salad I’ve made.  All the flavours came together so well.  It was, I fear, the last hooray for salads until spring now.  This Sunday we’ll wake up to temps of 10F/-12C with wind that will keep us in the negative wind chills most of the day.  I have a feeling the snow pants will be making their first appearance when we walk the dogs.

 

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Buttery Mushrooms and Other Yummy Tapas

It will come as no surprise when I say I love food.  It’s part of our life experience.  Something to be enjoyed and to add to our memories.  I could not wait to try all the amazing food I was sure we’d come across on our holiday.  Equally I could not wait to share it with our kids.  I think tapas is an amazing way of eating.  You can order many different flavours and be able to walk away from the table at the end of the meal as opposed to rolling away.  Only once did we get too much food because while they called it tapas it wasn’t.  The portions were too big.  Delicious but huge.

So this past Saturday we decided to share with the kids our version of a tapas night.  It was fun and we got to talk about some of the food we sampled as we traveled.

Our favourite tapas dish was a mushroom dish we had in Barcelona.  It was fabulous and the start of my planning of the meal.  Super easy to do which is good as we’ll be having this again.

Chop up regular mushrooms, some fresh thyme, and a few cloves of garlic.

Tapas 1 2013

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.   They aren’t buttery for nothing!  Perhaps this isn’t the healthiest but I threw caution to the wind!  Saute the ingredients together in the melted butter.  After a couple of minutes add a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Saute until the mushrooms are cooked through and they are ready to serve.

Tapas 3 2013

My son also requested I make up some zucchini flan.  I did as what we didn’t eat we saved for their school lunches.

Tapas 6 2013

I bought some Manchego cheese, prosciutto, salami, and olives for one of the tapas.  Aside from the mushrooms on our trip this type of platter was up there in terms of favourites.  Add fresh baguettes to the mix and we were very happy.

Tapas 4 2013

I also thought it would be fun to introduce caviar to my daughter.  At the Champagne Bar on the ship they would often serve some smoked salmon with a bit of caviar on top.  I loved it.  Unfortunately the caviar I found at the store tasted a bit muddled.  So it didn’t wow her like I’d hoped.  I’ll have to try another brand.

Tapas 5 2013 Tapas 8 2013

Overall though it was a delicious meal to share with the kids.  I think we’ll be doing this again with different dishes.  After all if you can’t have fun with the flavours why bother!  🙂

Oh go on Paris, influence me….

Sometimes I think the main reason I love going to Europe is the food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the history, the art, the beauty.  Oh and the wine.  Can’t forget the wine!  But I could just eat my way through Europe.  Good thing we walk everywhere.  🙂

A couple of years ago we took our kids to Paris for a couple of days.  It was such a joy as they really are open to new experiences.  They loved going to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, walking in the parks, etc.  And nary a complaint traipsing everywhere in 98F/36C weather.  Thought I was going to melt!

We all had a blast with the food.  They discovered duck, I mean how many kids do you know at ages 7 and 10 request seared duck?  I love it.  One of the best dishes I had was a steamed artichoke topped with smoked salmon, poached egg, and a mustard sauce.  Let me tell you that smoked salmon was the best I’d ever had.  As you know from a previous post I decided to recreate it and it went very pear shaped.  It took weeks to reclaim that pot!  If you run out of water steaming an artichoke it is not pleasant.

Walking home from Pilates class today I was looking for inspiration as how I could make that wonderful dish mine.  There it was in my garden, lovely green tomatoes.  I thought perfect, I’ll do fried green tomatoes instead of the artichoke.  This is a very easy dish to put together.  It took me about 15 minutes or so.  And after working out it is a very light lunch.  And I behaved myself and didn’t pour myself a glass of white wine which would be perfect for this.  🙂

As this is a dish for one I sliced two small green tomatoes.

Poached egg and salmon 1 2013

Next I seasoned them with salt and pepper then coated them in egg and panko bread crumbs.  Normally I do a beer batter for these but this is just a quick lunch.

Poached egg and salmon 4 2013

For the mustard sauce I used a couple spoonfuls of stone mustard.  The latest one I’ve tried was a local one with garlic.  Very nice.  I mixed in a bit of olive oil and a few splashes of white balsamic vinegar.

Poached egg and salmon 2 2013

In a small frying pan I get the olive oil nice and hot and pan fry the tomatoes.  You want to soften them as raw green tomatoes will make you sick.  As the Unorthodox Epicure pointed out in one of his posts recently.  The things you learn!

Poached egg and salmon 5 2013

While these are cooking you want to prep the poached egg.  While it is poaching layer the tomatoes and smoked salmon and place the egg on top.  Drizzle with the mustard.

Poached egg and salmon 6 2013

The runny yolk really brings all the components together for a delicious lunch.

Poached egg and salmon 8 2013 Poached egg and salmon 9 2013

Paris has been good to me.  😉