Shrimp Tacos

Who doesn’t love a shrimp taco? I certainly love tacos of any kind, and these were no exception. I used the shrimp frying recipe/method described in my friend Meaghan’s post here, which worked perfectly. It really does make a difference to batter the shrimp. I made my own slaw, very similar to the one I describe here, with chopped red cabbage, chilies, coriander, fish sauce, and a pinch of sugar. Topped it off with a little bit of lime mayo and some chopped spring onions, and corn tortillas. To me these reach near perfection — a great combination of salt, heat, crunch, and acid — and are somehow very refreshing for these incredibly hot evenings we’ve been having in London.

 

IMG_20180628_202824086

Advertisements

Eating & Drinking in Liverpool

My 18 months commuting between London and Liverpool has come to an end. Most of my time up north was spent working, but I did manage to sample several of the city’s bars and restaurants. Liverpool is a fantastic city and I will always have good memories of it. Here are my recommendations.

92 Degrees – Coffee taken seriously. Convenient location too.
Bean There – Comfy, reliable cafe on the corner of Penny Lane & Smithdown Road.
Belzan – Fairly new place on Smithdown. Small (used to be a laundromat), with small plates (I have very mixed feelings about small plates!), but impressive food.
Bold Street Coffee – Recommended for coffee and breakfast.
Filter & Fox – Great spot downtown for a quick bite to eat, glass of wine, and/or coffee.
Host – Delicious Asian fusion food on Hope St.
Leaf – A jack-of-all-trades place. Good for a coffee, a drink, brunch, or an evening meal. Very relaxed vibe.
Lunya – Award-winning Catalonian wine bar/restaurant. Only been here for drinks but there was an impressive selection.
Maray – There are two of these, one downtown and one on Allerton Road. This place has some of the most unique and delicious combinations I’ve seen at any restaurant. A worthwhile treat.
Mowgli – “Indian street food.” Very tasty.
Neon Jamon – Perhaps my favourite restaurant in Liverpool. Excellent Spanish tapas, excellent service, great atmosphere.
Penny Lane Wine Bar – A classic!
Philharmonic Pub – Another classic, a must-visit pub (and the location of Paul McCartney’s impromptu concert in the recent Carpool Karaoke video!).
Root Coffee – Nice to stop in before, during, or after errands downtown. Big spot with plenty of space.
Tiger Rock – “East Asian hawker food.” Delicious, big portions, friendly service. A+.

Eggplant (Aubergine) Larb

This was so good that H. used an expletive to describe it. Ha. I won’t repeat that here, but this dish was a real winner. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The recipe comes from Meera Sodha, who has a weekly vegan column in the Guardian‘s Saturday Feast supplement. Larb is a Laotian salad. I was intrigued by the combination of flavours and decided to try it.

I would put this in the category of dinner party dish, or weeknight with a lot of time dish. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult or time-consuming, but it has quite a few components — the eggplants themselves, rice, salad, and dressing. If you like big, punchy, varied flavours, this dish is for you. Everything comes together both texture-wise and taste-wise — it’s bright, acidic, nutty, salty, crispy, herby, sweet, and creamy all at the same time.

I had some leftover sauce and salad, so I made an amended version the next day, with the eggplant diced and roasted. I actually preferred it this way — it was easier to eat. The way I have it in the picture admittedly looks much better presentation-wise though.

IMG_20180524_191618096

Pierogi

It has been a goal of mine for a very long time to make one of my favourite foods, pierogi, from scratch. They are not readily available here in the UK though — unlike in Canada, I have never seen them in grocery stores. I am working my way (slowly) through London’s Polish restaurants, but it’s not quite the same as having them at home. The Wikipedia entry on pierogi even comments on this: “By the 1960s, pierogi were a common supermarket item in the frozen food aisles in many parts of the United States and Canada. Pierogi have maintained their place in grocery stores to this day.”

I used a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, which I was really pleased with. This is a fairly long process and requires some patience. You have to make the dough, make the filling, and then assemble the perogies one by one. It’s not particularly difficult, but it does require time.

Dough: The dough comes together fairly easily. It is tempting to add more water (I did), but my baker husband H. says to avoid temptation to do this as it makes it more difficult to roll out, as the dough is too wet. Make sure to allow enough time for the dough to chill.

Filling: This is the easiest part. I used mashed potato, bacon, and cheddar cheese. Make sure to season it well. (Side note: that combination makes for amazing mashed potatoes).

Assembly: Ottolenghi recommends rolling out to a 1mm thick dough – I honestly found this too thin. The ones that were a bit thicker tasted and looked better. You can see the difference in the picture below – the ones towards the bottom were made with thinner dough, and they look much messier.

I was scared that they would collapse or break apart when boiled, but they didn’t. In fact, they turned out better than I expected. Yes, some are a little rough-looking, but they tasted great, especially with a lot of some sour cream! Very pleased with the outcome. 🙂

perogie1

perogie2 (2)

New vegetarian weeknight meals for spring

IT’S MAY! One of my favourite months. 🙂

I have two dishes to share today. I thought I would combine them since they have a lot in common — vegetarian (the first is actually vegan), and with a lot of greens — perfect for this time of year.

Spicy Chickpea Bowl (recipe)
In my view you can never go wrong with a tahini-lemon dressing. I love tahini, and this dish has all of the ingredients of a healthy but satisfying and filling meal — chickpeas and greens. You’ll see that there are potatoes in the recipe, but I decided to leave them out. It looks a little complicated, but this comes together very quickly as you can do several things at once (prepare the chickpeas, make the sauce, and get the greens ready).

IMG_20180402_185629960

Quinoa & broccoli salad with buttermilk dressing (recipe)
Sometimes you make something and wonder why you haven’t been making it for years. This is one of those dishes. It’s a simple idea, not difficult to make, yet incredibly satisfying and tasty, particularly if you like sharp, creamy acidity like me. I will make this over and over again. You can play around with this one — I used coriander and parsley for herbs, and didn’t put any pistachios in. Versatile and delicious! And healthy.

quinoa broc

 

Wings Part 2: Polenta & Blue Cheese

My second installment of my wings project posts is these, found in one of my favourite cookbooks, Best Recipes Ever from Canadian Living and the CBC (LOL at the title, but it actually is a great collection).

These were better than the first batch but still not the holy grail of wings. The good thing is that they were a lot more flavourful and had better texture than round 1. You’ll see that the original recipe calls for cornmeal. I used a combination of polenta and fine breadcrumbs. The spices and blue cheese definitely made for a deeper, more savoury taste.

The issues were 1) the batter did not perfectly stick to the all of the wings, as you can see from the photo below, and 2) the sauce (buttermilk and blue cheese, to which I added a bit of mayo) really needed to be blended. Simply mixing it up did not spread the cheese around evenly. I’m also not sure that it was the best combination — I love blue cheese sauce but this definitely was missing something.

Verdicts:
H: 7/10
K: 6/10

wings

Smoked Haddock Soufflé 

Regular readers know that I share the good and the bad and the ugly on this blog. This particular dish falls somewhere between bad and ugly. It wasn’t a total fail — we still ate it, but neither of us really enjoyed it.

I wrote in January that H. & I like to try to cook together at least once on the weekends and that this requires advance planning because of our current living situation. Originally I’d planned a haddock chowder for this particular Saturday. However, when I saw this recipe from Thomasina Miers in the Guardian, I decided to make it instead. Lesson: always go with your gut instincts!

We made an error in cooking this which was part of the reason it went so badly. Instead of placing the dish in a water bath with boiling water, we used cold. This meant that it needed a lot more time in the oven. We ended up eating 45 minutes later than we thought we would. Aside from that, we just didn’t really like this dish. It was my first time making a soufflé and I’m not convinced that the combination of fish, cheese, and egg worked. Though I love haddock I will stick to other forms and will definitely not be making this again.

souffle

Dinner for One

Continuing my series of eating for one… here is an update on what I have been eating Monday-Thursday for my first six weeks back at work after Christmas. I’ve talked before about how I meal plan and what my priorities are — note that in most cases I make enough for two portions and take the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Week one
Monday 8th: My housemate’s vegetable curry with sauteed broccoli
Tuesday 9th: Kale Caesar
Wednesday 10th: Carrot & ginger soup
Thursday 11th: Ate out – Japanese restaurant

Week two
Monday 15th: Kale Caesar
Tuesday 16th: Sweet potato & chickpea curry
Wednesday 17th: Kale Caesar & leftover curry [repetitive week!]
Thursday 18th: Pizza (takeout)

Week three
Monday 22nd: Omelet with sauteed broccoli
Tuesday 23rd: (bought) Chicken tenders with spinach salad
Wednesday 24th: Haggis, tatties, & carrots (Burns night celebration)
Thursday 25th: Pea ravioli with spinach and sauteed broccoli

Week four
Monday 29th: Leftover haggis tourtiere
Tuesday 30th: Salmon & egg-fried vegetable rice
Wednesday 31st: Leftover carrot & ginger soup; flatbreads & hummus; salad
Thursday 1st Feb.: Modified sweet potato and chickpea bowl with tahini.

Week five
Monday 5th: Cauliflower soup & salad
Tuesday 6th: Tuna pasta
Wednesday 7th: This stirfry
Thursday 8th: Ate out – pub fish & chips

Week six
Monday 12th: Spinach salad
Tuesday 13th: Brown rice salad with broccoli, cabbage, and peanut sauce
Wednesday 14th: Ravioli with spinach and sauteed broccoli
Thursday 15th: Beef enchiladas

Tourtière with Haggis

Tourtière is a meat pie dish originating in Quebec. There are different versions of this pie across Quebec, the Maritimes, and New England. I decided to try this as a part of my new “weekend cooking” regime for a couple of reasons: 1) I’d never made it before and 2) I love cooking Canadian recipes, even though sometimes it is difficult to get a hold of specific ingredients.

I used Craig Flinn’s recipe, which calls for ground pork and beef. But, as the Wikipedia entry on tourtière says ……. “there is no one correct filling”! I decided to switch out the beef for haggis. Why? We had a lot of haggis on our hands — we were planning on hosting a Burns supper, but ended up having to cancel it for several reasons.

All of the meat for the pie is cooked beforehand. Haggis takes 90 minutes to cook so that was an important factor in planning. I added the spices (cinnamon, allspice, clove, plus salt and pepper) to the pork, along with an onion. The haggis already contains a lot of seasoning so this was a very savoury combination. Once both fillings were ready, I combined them and then assembled the pie. In the end, I ran out of time to make the pastry from scratch so ended up using some pre-bought that I had on hand.

I was worried that the pie might be a little on the dry side, but that was not the case. It came out of the oven after around 40 minutes tasty, moist, and really delicious, proving, I think, the flexibility of this traditional dish.

This unfortunately did not photograph well, so please use your imaginations!

 

Pork Shoulder Ragu with Pappardelle

As we start the new year and H. and I once again are back to being separated throughout the week, I decided I wanted to try to institute a ritual of cooking together one evening on the weekends. Depending on schedules, this isn’t always possible of course, but it’s something we love to do and winter is the perfect time for it. There are additional challenges, however, when we don’t live together. The only way to do this is to plan ahead, and plan carefully. No problem — I am a born planner! I started by compiling a list of a few dishes I wanted to make and then assigned them different dates. First up was this pork shoulder ragu.

This is a great dish for chilly, rainy days, which we have had every weekend of 2018 so far. There is something so comforting about putting something in the oven for several hours and letting science take over. It takes time to cook this, but not a lot of effort. The smell was amazing throughout the late afternoon, and the results were good. The meat was extremely tender — melt-in-your-mouth — and very flavourful.

However, while I enjoyed it, unfortunately this was too rich a dish for me overall. I actually felt slightly nauseous afterwards….It was a lot with the pasta and cheese, and I couldn’t finish mine. It needed something to cut the fat, and even though we had it with a peppery salad, it was still a bit too much for me (H. loved it though!), and I am not rushing to make this again.

 

pork ragu