I’ve been in Australia for about a week and a half now. So far, our trip has been amazing, aside from the mostly rainy weather. The rain has cut in significantly to our beach time, which is a bit sad, but, that being said, rain and grey sky lend themselves well to the enjoyment of stews and curries.
So, even though I am escaping – geographically – the last few weeks of Canadian winter, I still find myself whipping up something I would happily it on a snowy winter’s evening. My travel companion, Chez, and I cooked this dinner for some of her family friends while we were spending the past weekend on the Sunshine Coast.
We were tight on spices in the vacation rental apartment, hence the odd addition of ketchup to the curry, but, trust me, it was awesome! Here’s the recipe…
6 strips bacon
1 small red onion (diced)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 cups butternut squash (peeled, 1/2″ cubed)
1 cup celery root (peeled, 1/2″ cubed)
1 TSP chili powder
1 TSP yellow curry powder
1 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
8 eggs (soft poached and waiting to be eaten)
salt and pepper
Not exactly the healthiest thing you could eat for breakfast, but everyone loves some bacon grease on the weekends, right? It looks kind of sexy too…just saying. Continuing on my quest of not just using squash for soups, I decided to try and cook it up in a breakfast hash. Maple and squash is a pretty traditional flavour pairing, so I tried to spice it up a bit with, well, some other spices. Definitely hits the spot on a weekend morning when you’re feeling a tad tired from last night’s escapades.
Start by cooking the strips of bacon in a large pan on medium-high heat until they’re nice and crispy. Remove from pan and place on some paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Once the bacon has cooled slightly, chop into small pieces and set aside. Next, add the red onion, butter and brown sugar to the pan and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, place the next six ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss to combine. Add the squash mixture to the onions, stir to combine and let it continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, return the chopped bacon to the pan and stir in the maple syrup. a healthy dose of black ground pepper, some salt, then you’re good to go!
For serving, place a generous scoop of hash on a plate, top with a couple poached eggs and a final drizzle of maple syrup.
As for poaching the eggs, don’t be afraid. It’s easier than it seems. There are approximately 12000 YouTube videos on how to do it successfully. You can do it, I believe in you. If you want to skip the poaching, fried eggs on top are just as tasty, but make sure to keep that yolk runny!
Total cook time…25 min
1 TBSP butter
1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
1 leek (halved, thinly sliced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 zucchini (diced or grated)
4 cups fresh spinach (chopped)
1 TBSP yellow curry powder
1 TSP dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 cups flour
3 TSP baking powder
1 TSP salt
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup water
I feel like these are a distant cousin of a green onion cake, or a latke…or something? At any rate, I experimented and made a vegan version of these at one of the Global Vegetarian Dinners I cook here in Calgary. They were so delicious that I decided to un-vegan them. Since we’re in the summer/autumn transition period right now, these would be good with a cool grain salad if the temperature is high, or a good bowl of soup if things are getting a bit chilly. I sometimes just eat them with ketchup, but don’t tell anyone I said that…it’s not very sophisticated…
Start by melting the butter on medium-high heat in a large pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and let cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Next, throw in the diced (or grated) zucchini into the pan and let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add in the spinach, as well as the curry and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, then stir regularly until the spinach has wilted down and the spices have mixed in well with the vegetables. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5-8 minutes, or until it’s able to be handled.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well, then pour in the egg, water and cooked vegetable mixture. Slowly mix with the dry ingredients until a chunky dough develops. Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Flatten to a thickness of approximately 1″ and cut into 12 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll them into small balls, then press down gently so that they’re circle-esque (is that a word?) in shape.
When you’re ready to fry up the pancakes, place some canola oil in a medium-sized pan on high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, place the pancakes into the pan, about 3 or 4 at a time. Cooking for about 2 minutes on each side. Place onto some paper towel to remove any excess oil.
Serve warm with garlic butter and a side of roasted vegetables (or the aforementioned options of salad/soup!) and enjoy!
Total cook time…25 min
What you’ll need…
2 yellow onions (chopped)
3 clove garlic (minced)
1 eggplant (1/2″ cubed)
2 13.5oz cans chick peas (drained, reserve liquid of one can)
1 TSP masala tandoori powder
1 TSP garam masala powder
1 TSP yellow curry powder
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth (or veggie to keep vegan)
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP lemon juice
salt and pepper
I start refining my hearty soup skills a month or two before autumn is about to rear it’s ugly head. Well, I don’t actually mean ugly, I really do like fall, the changing of the leaves, being able to wear knits again, pumpkin bowling, all of those things are great. It’s just that I’m always sad to watch the warm weather slip away, and with it, my tan. But, I digress…this soup embodies fall. It is meant to warm you up on a chilly evening. This soup can be served pureed or left chunky. I prefer somewhere in the middle, pureeing half, leaving it a bit chunky! I love eggplant and cook with it often. For any eggplant haters out there, this soup will help convert you, I promise. I wouldn’t lie to you would I? #teameggplant
Start things off by tossing the onion and garlic in a medium-sized pot. Drizzle with some olive oil, and cook down on medium-high heat until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggplant, chickpeas, as well as the masala tandoori, garam masala, and curry powder. Stir mixture until the spices have evenly coated the vegetables. Stirring occasionally, continue to let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the eggplant pieces start to soften.
Now, place all remaining ingredients into the pot, including the reserved chickpea liquid. Once the pot comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and let simmer on the stove for at least 30 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, puree if you wish, but, above all else, enjoy!
Best served with warm bread…naan if you’ve got it and maybe a dollop of sour cream if you’re feeling extra crazy!
Total cook time…45 min
2 13.5oz cans coconut milk
1 cup half and half cream
1 stalk lemon grass (trimmed and cut into ‘fish out of the pot easily’ size pieces)
1/2 yellow onion (quartered)
4 cloves garlic
2 TSP yellow curry powder
1 TSP chili powder
4 red snapper fillets
1 1/2 cups daikon (peeled and 1/2″ cubed)
1 cup fresh snap peas (pods removed, peas only)
1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)
1 kiwi (1/2″ cubed, you can leave the skin on, it won’t kill you…)
1 TSP sugar
1 lemon (zest and juice)
salt and pepper
1 tomato (sliced, optional, I just wanted some colour variation on the plate!)
So here’s a story for you. I originally wanted to try poaching this fish in some red wine and spices, but while I was sitting at home contemplating about whether or not to use the wine to poach I accidently drank it all…and that’s my story. Well, not actually, but it definitely is something that could happen to me. I do like my wine. Anyway, life is always a little bit better when there’s some coconut curry involved, and this light dish is definitely perfect for a summer dinner date. My dinner guests seem to really like it when I poach things. Except pandas, they don’t like that.
Start off by combining the coconut milk and cream in a large pot. Whisk briefly to get rid of any lumps from the coconut milk. Add-in the remaining ingredients, aside from the snapper, and give a good stir. Let the mixture come to a bubble on medium-high heat, then reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. While it’s simmering, give it a taste, and add some salt and pepper to your liking.
For the salsa, simply place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss to combine. Season with some salt and pepper, then set aside until you’re ready for it. Feel free to give it a taste on its own. It’s oddly delicious.
When the poaching liquid has simmered for long enough, remove the pieces of lemon grass, turn up to medium heat and pop in the pieces of snapper. Let the fish cook for about 6 minutes, or until it is fully cooked through. Remove the fish from the pot and scoop some of the liquid onto each plate, followed by a couple tomato slices, then a piece of snapper, and, finally, the daikon salsa! You should probably eat this on your patio…just saying…
Total cook time…30 min
2 chicken breasts (skin on, bone in)
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 red potato
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup white mushrooms
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 stalk lemon grass
1 TBSP red curry paste
1 TBSP tamarind paste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 pie crust (bottom and top…obviously?)
1 egg (for egg wash, optional)
salt & pepper
Chicken pot pie has got to be one of the best types of comfort food out there. I know I’ve enjoyed eating it again, and again, and again…but, sometimes, even the most beautiful of things can do with a bit of a makeover. With a helpful hint of Thai influence, this pie retains it’s ‘comfort level’ while tasting exotic. It’s like a neat little trip to Asia for your taste buds to mentally escape the cold.
Feel free to skip this first step by using either a) store-bought roasted chicken or b) regular old chicken breasts cut up into chunks and added to the vegetable mixture. I just felt as though tender, roasted meat was the way to go with this one.
In a change from my usually ‘step one’, we will not be starting with chopped onions and garlic. Instead, start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Now season the chicken breasts lightly with salt & pepper, and in a medium-sized pot on high heat, sear them for 1 1/2 minutes per side. Remove from chicken from pot, place in a small, prepared baking dish, and cover with tin foil, shiny side in (I can never remember!). Let the chicken roast in the oven for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the onion, mince the garlic, and add it to the pot with a bit of olive oil. Turn to medium heat and allow the onions to soften. During this time, chop the leek and add to the pot. Stir, and let cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Halve the lemon stalk and chop the carrot, potato, bell pepper, and mushroom into bite-sized pieces. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, stir, and let cook for another 5 minutes. Now, add the coconut milk, 1 cup of water, the lemon grass stalk, red curry, and tamarind. Give it another good stir, turn back to high heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Now it is time for the chicken and vegetable mixture to meet. Once the chicken has finished roasting, remove from oven (but leave on to bake the pie) cut the meat (skin ‘n’ all!) into reasonable mouthful chunks and add to the pot. By now, the coconut milk should have thickened, and you will have a nice filling for that prepared pie crust that waiting on the counter. Add a few solid turns of black pepper, and a bit of salt if need be. If the mixture is still a bit too watery then add a bit of cornstarch and water to help thicken. Finally, add the fresh cilantro to the pot and give everything a final stir.
Spoon the filling into the pie crust (at this point I would recommend being over-zealous with the filling, make it nice and full!), brush the crust edges with a bit of water, then put the top on. Feel free to criss-cross, or make a pretty design, etc…I’m currently not that gifted in the baking department. Brush with the top with some egg wash and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cut it up, dish it out, and enjoy. 100% satisfaction guaranteed!
Total cook time…50 min
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