Saturday, June 25, 2011

Steamed Asparagus with Blueberries for One

This attractive side dish is especially delicious 
with seafood, and at this time of year can make 
good advantage of fresh local blueberries and asparagus.

Steamed Asparagus with Blueberries for One:

10-15 stalks of fresh asparagus
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
lemon wedge

First break the woody ends off the asparagus.

In a steamer set in a shallow pan of water, place
the stalks of asparagus.  Bring to a boil on medium 
heat, then cover & steam for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat,
remove lid, and scatter the blueberries over the 
asparagus.  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
Drizzle with squeeze from lemon wedge.

Smashed Roasted Fingerling Potatoes for One

These are good with so many things, especially
with the preceding recipe for Baked Salmon Steak
and Tartar Sauce.  I suggest cooking extra and 
saving some of the boiled ones for potato salad.

Smashed Roasted Fingerling Potatoes for One:

5-6 red fingerling potatoes or multi-coloured baby potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

Cover in water with a pinch of salt, bring to a boil,
reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Drain, then smash briefly & gently with the back of a 
wooden spoon without breaking them.

Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt,
and pile into a preheated lightly oiled pan.

Roast at 375 F for 30 minutes, turning after 
15 minutes.

Tartar Sauce for One

This Tartar Sauce is light but tangy without 
all the additives.  Deceptively simple method, 
but it really delivers. 

(Pictured above with Lemon-Baked Salmon and
Steamed Asparagus with Golden Peppers)

Tartar Sauce for One:

1 Tbsp lite mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lite sour cream
1 tbsp yogurt
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar or honey
dash of ground black pepper
pinch of dried dill (1/8 - 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 medium Dill or Polski Ogorki pickle, grated

Combine the first 10 ingredients in a small bowl.
Grate the pickle directly into the bowl & stir to

Cover & refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to let
the flavors develop.

Solo Supper: Baked Salmon Steak

This method for cooking salmon steak has
been around for decades.  My family's been
using it since the 1980s, and its origins are
unknown. It quickly became our Default Salmon
Dinner - foolproof, so moist inside, attractive
complementary topping - and delicious cold
as well. 

Another bonus - in hot summer months it can
be cooked in the toaster oven.

Served with homemade Tartar Sauce and accompanied
by Smashed Fingerlings and Steamed Asparagus with
Blueberries (recipes to follow), this meal is ready in 30 minutes
from start to finish.

Baked Salmon Steak for One:

1 fresh wild salmon steak
2 tbsp lite mayonnaise
a good pinch of dried dill
2 - 3 green onions, (the white plus some of the green), sliced

In a small bowl, add the dill to the mayonnaise.
Spread all over the top pink flesh part of the salmon
steak, but not on the skin at the sides.

Sprinkle the green onions over the top and pat
down gently to adhere.

Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes.
Garnish with lemon wedge and fresh dill sprig.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Friday! Iced Coffee

This is definitely Iced Coffee weather!  It's great being able to come home & have one of these instead of always having to rely on coffee shops - besides, this way your drink doesn't melt before you get home!

There are quite a few methods of making Iced Coffee out there. I’ve tried making it double-strength and diluting it with ice cubes (hated it!).  I’ve also tried making it by cold-brewing overnight on the counter (didn’t like it enough!).

The way I prefer to make Iced Coffee is also the simplest method, but tastes great & gives consistent results.  The Iced Coffee won’t dilute in flavour as the ice cubes are also made of the same coffee.

Iced Coffee (makes 3-4 10-oz glasses):

The “cup” measurements of a coffeemaker don’t always reflect what you end up with, so in my automatic drip pot I use 4 rounded coffee scoops (4 x 25ml) of ground coffee, a pinch of salt, plus 5 x 8oz cups water.  This will yield: one cup of hot coffee to drink right away (bonus for the cook!), as well as 1 litre of medium-strength coffee to chill, plus 1 cup of coffee for the ice cubes.

Pour off 1 cup of the cooled coffee into an ice-cube tray (this will make approximately 12-14 “regular”-sized ice cubes depending on the size of your tray).  When frozen, pop out of the tray into a plastic bag & freeze till needed.

Meanwhile, refrigerate the remaining coffee (I use a dark-glass 1 litre brandy bottle, with a slim neck to minimize oxidation, saved especially for this purpose).  The chilled coffee will last 3 days before losing its freshness.

To prepare a sweetened version with milk: put 4-5 coffee ice cubes in a 10-oz glass, then fill 2/3 with refrigerated coffee, sweeten with either sugar, simple syrup or stevia (or other sweetener), and top up with milk.

To prepare without milk: Put 5-6 ice cubes in a 10-oz glass, then top up with chilled coffee and sweeten if desired.

Add a straw and there you go!  Iced Coffee Heaven!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yesterday Through Tomorrow - Ribs, Potato Salad & Bean Salad

Spicy Country Style Ribs
Potato Salad
Bean Salad on Baby Greens

Yesterday's delicious Spicy Country Style Ribs - of which 2 extra ribs were cooked just for today - are now served with a simple potato salad, and accompanied by a colourful bean salad that will also do for tomorrow.

In the warmer months, my fridge is like my personal deli.  I like to have salads that do double-or-triple duty, like today’s potato salad, which will do *2 meals.  The bean salad does 3 days and is great served as is atop Baby Greens one day, then with add-ons in a tortilla bowl another day, and served in a hollowed-out tomato or red pepper the day after that.

The *potato salad will keep for 2 days if made with just mayonnaise for the dressing (and no sour cream or eggs).

Potato Salad (serves 1-2):

5-6 baby potatoes or fingerlings, peeled & diced
1 tbsp minced onion
2-3 tbsp lite mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup *peas (frozen or fresh, cooked then cooled under 
running water & drained) 
2 tbsp *corn (frozen or fresh, cooked then cooled under 
running water & drained) 
1/2 *dill pickle or Polski Ogorki pickle, grated
1/2 *celery stalk, diced
2 *green onions, white part & some of the green, sliced

*Potato salad is such a personal dish for most of us that there are 
things we absolutely must include out of nostalgia, and things we 
have to leave out for the same reasons.  In this case, I would recommend 
just adding a total combination of1/2 cup mixed add-ins that suit your 
own personal tastes, and if some of the above *asterisked add-ins 
sound appealing, go for it!

Combine all ingredients, add more mayonnaise if desired (it's all about how creamy you like it), and adjust seasoning to taste.  Cover well and refrigerate until served.

Bean Salad:

2 tbsp finely diced onion
1 510ml can Mixed Beans, rinsed & drained
1/3 cup corn (frozen or fresh, cooked then cooled under 
running water & drained)
1/2 cup red pepper, diced


2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp apple juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine dressing ingredients.
Mix Bean Salad ingredients together in a bowl, then pour the 
dressing over, stir,then cover & marinate for at least 4 hours, 
stirring after 2 hours. This will last *3-4 days in the fridge.

Bean Salad, like Potato Salad, is also a highly personal dish, 
and your add-in vegetables should of course be something 
you enjoy and which remind you of happy summer meals
in the past.  If you want to add something like cucumber or 
tomato, it is best to do thison the day they will be served 
(marinate them for one hour in the salad before serving),
as otherwise they will become soggy.

*Another great use for Bean Salad is to put it into a quesadilla 
along with cheese and whatever else you fancy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cook Once, Dine Twice: Baked Country Ribs

Country-Style pork ribs are meatier than the long strips of ribs
and don't require the pre-cooking to render off excess fat. They 
look much like a long, thin rib chop.

In order to imbue some flavour prior to cooking (which in the
long strips of ribs is done during the pre-cooking process), marinate
the country ribs with a spice rub for several hours - which does the job 

This recipe is for 4 country ribs - 2 for the first night and 2 for
a salad supper the second night.

Country Ribs:

4 country-style pork ribs
1 tbsp *cajun spice mix (June 5 posting),
(*or 2 tsp paprika & 1 tsp cumin)
1 tsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime

3/4 cup barbecue sauce (either a commercial sauce
or the recipe that follows).

2 slices of pineapple, fresh or canned

Combine the spices, olive oil & lime juice.
Rub all over the ribs, including the bones.

Cover & marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably

Bake at 400F on a rack above a roasting pan or baking sheet
for 25 minutes, then turn and brush with either a good commercial
barbecue sauce or the one that follows on this posting.
Bake 20 more minutes, then turn and brush with more sauce.
Pat the pineapple slices dry and put on rack beside the ribs.
Continue to bake for 20 more minutes, turning the pineapple once,
then remove from heat and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.  

Delicious served with smashed baby red potatoes drizzled with 
lemon butter (recipe follows) plus a simple green salad with your 
choice of fruit.  

Double-Duty Suggestion: Cook extra potatoes the first night for a 
great follow-up potato salad (next posting) to accompany the cold ribs.

Spicy Rib Sauce (makes 3/4-1 cup)

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp paprika
good pinch cajun spice mix
good pinch curry powder
1 tsp prepared hot mustard
1tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider or juice

Combine all ingredients and cook on medium heat
in a small saucepan, stirring regularly, until it begins 
to boil.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for at 
least 15 minutes, half-covering the pan as the mixture 
can bubble & spit.

Smashed Baby Red Potatoes:

10-12 baby red potatoes (or fingerlings)
1 tbsp butter
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
pinch of salt & pepper
sprig of fresh parsley or dill, snipped or torn

Cover potatoes with water in a saucepan
and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat & continue
to boil gently for 12-15 minutes, checking for
doneness with a fork.

Drain potatoes, allow the steam to evaporate
for 5 minutes, then reserve half of them for
the next-day potato salad, and smash the rest
gently with the back of a wooden spoon.

Put the butter in a small pan and grate the lemon
zest over it. Bring the mixture to a gentle bubble,
reduce heat and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat, toss over the smashed potatoes,
and sprinkle them with the fresh parsley or dill.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Solo Salads: Buffalo Chicken Tortilla Bowl Salad

This is definitely a Party in a Bowl - perfect for watching the hockey game!

Buffalo Chicken Tortilla Bowl Salad:

1 baked tortilla bowl (June 5 posting)
1/8 tsp cajun spice (optional)

1/2 boneless skinless chicken breast

1 - 1 1/2 cups Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce or Mixed Baby Greens
1 roma or hothouse tomato, seeded & diced (or sliced)
1 celery stalk, sliced lengthwise then thinly crosswise
2 green onions, the white part plus some of the green, sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp snipped parsley or chives
dash of salt and pepper

1 1/2 tbsp Blue Cheese, crumbled (approximate - I don't pack it into the
measuring spoon but rather "guess-timate" it so as not to turn it to mush)


2 tbsp plus 1 tbsp Frank's Red-Hot Sauce or hot sauce of your choice, divided.
1 tsp olive oil

Combine 2 tbsp hot sauce with the oil and put in plastic bag or shallow bowl.
Reserve remaining hot sauce for basting the chicken.


2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp lite mayonnaise
juice of 1 medium lemon wedge (approx.1 tsp)
1 tbsp crumbled Blue Cheese
dash of salt and pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.

Preparing the Salad:

Prepare Tortilla Bowl (method in June 5 posting), sprinkling then brushing with
cajun spice (June 5 posting) prior to baking, if desired.

Either defrost the chicken in the marinade, or marinate fresh chicken for at least 1/2 hour.
Bake at 400 F for 1/2 hour, basting with 1 tbsp more hot sauce after 20 minutes.  
(I cook mine on a rack above a roasting pan in the toaster oven, as it saves my place
from getting too hot in the warm weather).

Remove and let cool for at least 20 minutes then slice crosswise into 1/2" slices.

Combine the celery, green onion, tomato and herbs in a bowl and toss with the olive oil
and vinegar.  Season with salt & pepper. 

Assembling the Salad:

In the Tortilla Bowl, first put the lettuce or greens, then the celery/onion/tomato/herb mixture.

Arrange the chicken over the top, sprinkle with the 1 1/2 tbsp Blue Cheese, and top with the dressing.

Garnish with more parsley or chives.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Solo Salads: Pear Extraordinaire

After going to Vancouver's Little Italy to stock up on Long Macaroni
(I could hardly wait to re-visit that lovely baked dish I came up with last month!),
I also went to the most wonderful little deli, where I obtained the ingredients
to make this delicious salad.

Pear Extraordinaire Pita Bowl Salad:

1 cup torn Escarole, Endive or Romaine lettuce
1/3 Twentieth-Century Pear, sliced into crescents then halved
Approximately 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of either Shropshire Blue Cheese,
Stilton or Danish Blue Cheese, divided
(I don't pack the cheese into a tablespoon or measuring cup but simply
"eyeball" the amount so as not  to crush the cheese)
5-8 red or green grapes, halved
2 tbsp toasted pecans or walnuts (&/or 2 strips of crispy bacon, crumbled)


Prepare the Baked Pita Bowl (June 5, 2011 posting).

Toast the pecans or walnuts: cook on baking sheet in 375 F oven
for about 5-8 minutes, checking carefully (they toast quickly!).
Remove from oven, and toss with a pinch of salt or cajun spice.
Let cool for 15 minutes.

Prepare the bacon, if using - cook on medium till crispy, then
remove with slotted spatula and blot on paper towel or a clean
tea-towel. Crumble into small pieces.

In the Pita Bowl, first add the greens, then the pear, next the grapes,
and finally scatter 1/4 cup of blue cheese on top.

Garnish the salad with the toasted nuts &/or bacon,
and drizzle with the Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe below).

Blue Cheese Dressing:

2 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp lite sour cream
1 tbsp lite mayonnaise
1 tbsp Shropshire Blue, Stilton or Danish Blue cheese, crumbled
juice of 1 small lemon wedge (approx. 1 tsp)
a pinch of salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl, mashing the cheese in
with a small fork (leave some lumps!)

Refrigerate the dressing, covered, for at least 1/2 hour for the flavours to develop.

Solo Salads: Santa Fe Salad

Santa Fe Salad:
(serves 1)

1 baked tortilla bowl (see previous posting)
1/3 cup black beans (canned or pre-cooked), drained
1/2 cup corn niblets (frozen, canned or pre-cooked)
1/2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced crosswise
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1medium clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cajun spice mix (recipe follows)
1 tsp olive oil for sauteeing, divided
Juice of a lime, divided

1 *roma tomato, seeded & diced
(*strain & reserve the juice from the tomato seeds to add to the salad dressing)
1/4 cup sliced  black olives
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro leaves
a dash of salt & pepper 

1/3 cup grated orange cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Napa Cabbage or  torn Mixed Baby Greens

In a skillet on medium heat, saute onion in 1/2 tsp olive oil till softened. 
Add the black beans & garlic, cook for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini
& corn.  Stir up, add 1/2 tsp more oil, and 1/4 tsp cajun spice mix.
Cook 2 more minutes, then add the juice of 1/2 lime, stir to combine.
Remove from heat and allow to cool on a plate for at least 20 minutes.

Combine the roma tomato with the olives and 1/4 cup cilantro; toss with
1 tbsp lime juice. Season with salt & pepper.

To assemble salad, add the napa cabbage or baby greens to the tortilla
bowl, then add the black bean/corn mixture, top with the roma tomato/olive
combination, sprinkle with cheese, and drizzle with Spicy Sour Cream Ranch
Dressing (recipe below). Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Spicy Sour Cream Ranch Dressing:
(serves 1)

2 tbsp lite sour cream
1 tbsp lite mayonnaise
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp lime juice
reserved juice from the roma tomato seeds
dash of sriracha hot sauce (or hot sauce of your choice)
pinch of salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl; let
stand for at least 20 minutes to combine flavours.

Cajun Spice Mix:
(adapted from Vegetarian Times)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne

Combine ingredients well and store in a spice jar.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Solo Salads: Tortilla and Pita Bowls

A tortilla or pita bowl is such a lovely way to serve a salad
- fun to eat, and, with a colourful selection of vegetables,
you get variety of textures & tastes with every bite. 
It looks like a party in a bowl!

(Pictured below:  Greek Salad Pita Bowl)

Baked Tortilla Bowls:

There are several versions of baked tortilla bowls
- this is how I do it.  It's a combination of a couple of 
methods, plus a brush of lime or lemon juice & oil and
a sprinkle of seasoning.

Tortilla Bowl (serves 1)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Put a 10" flour or corn tortilla
into a lightly oiled ovenproof bowl of a suitable shape
(I like mine to form a broad-based bowl with sides at least
3" high). Brush with a combination of 1/2 tsp lime juice 
and 1/4 tsp olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt or *cajun spice mix.
(*recipe in next posting for Santa Fe Salad)

Bake the tortilla bowl at 400 F for 8 minutes. Remove from 
the ovenproof bowl, invert onto a baking sheet, and  bake 
for 2 more minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool on the 
baking sheet for at least 15 minutes.  Fill with salad of choice 
and serve.

Pita   Bowl (serves 1):

Cook with the same method as the Tortilla Bowl, but
brush with lemon  juice and oil and season with salt
& 1 small clove garlic, grated. The pita bowls cook a bit
faster, so check after 6 minutes.

Solo Summer Salad Combinations:

There are so many salads that go well in one of these bowls. 
In my next few postings I will be providing recipes for single-salad
servings of the following combinations and more.

The number of ingredients in each salad is an any/all sort of 
choice. I recommend trying at least 4-5 of any group: some Greens, 
2-3 Vegetables (&/or fruit), and a topping. That said, even a simple 
3-ingredient salad is elevated from the mundane when served in an 
edible bowl  & topped with fresh herbs or cheese.

These salads can be either a complete meal in themselves
or can be an excellent accompaniment to meat, fish  or tofu.

Greek Salad Pita Bowl:

Sliced peppers
Chopped Tomatoes
Sliced Cucumber
Sliced olives
Feta Cheese
Balsamic Dressing

Chicken Taco Bowl Salad:

Cajun Spice-rubbed chicken breast
Baby Greens
Red or Green Grapes
Green onions
Grated carrot
Diced red pepper
Sliced black olives
Fresh coriander, snipped

Honey-lime ranch drizzle w/sriracha hot sauce

Buffalo Chicken Salad:

Chicken rubbed w/cajun spice mix and
basted with hot sauce
Iceberg lettuce
roma tomato
Blue Cheese dressing
Crumbled Pretzel Sticks

Santa Fe Salad:

Black beans & corn kernels sauteed with
red onion, zucchini & garlic, seasoned with
cajun spice mix (or paprika & cumin), drizzled
with lime juice and tossed with cilantro,

Served atop shredded Napa Cabbage, and

Topped with diced roma tomatoes,
Sliced black olives,
Grated cheese,
and Spicy Sour Cream Ranch Dressing.
Garnished with cilantro.

Pear Extraordinaire:

20th Century Pear, sliced
Escarole, endive or romaine lettuce
Crumbled Shropshire Blue Cheese (or Stilton)
*Toasted Walnuts or Pecans
(*or Crispy Bacon, Turkey Bacon or Veggie Bacon)