Feta, chickpea and zucchini salad, salmon with balsamic maple glaze and a coffee shop adventure

Feta, zucchini, bean saladJonathan and I have been married almost three weeks now – and have been loving every moment of married life!  I have made many tasty dinners and we have gone on a few foodie adventures in Detroit.  It has been very humid in Windsor and so a fresh summer salad recipe was in order.  We had purchased a Costco sized container of feta cheese, so I have been very creative lately with feta.  Summer salads with beans, zucchini and a light olive oil and balsamic dressing are refreshing and delicious.  This salad is also very versatile you could also add in cherry tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber or other favourite veggies.  The salmon I made had a balsamic and maple glaze, which was the perfect week night meal.  The glaze thickened perfectly and was very balanced in its light sweetness and balsamic flavour.

From our adventures in the USA, Jonathan discovered a unique coffee shop that we just had to try.  The Roasting Plant is a coffee shop in Detroit that features a system of tubes that roast, grind and store your coffee until it is ready to be Roasting Plantbrewed fresh on site.  While you sit at your table you can see green coffee beans being roasted in the Javabot.  There is also a great deal of selection from region to roast for the coffee beans.  Jonathan tried three different small sized coffees (called a flight of coffee, so you can sample a few different roasts) and I had an iced coffee.  We also shared a small croissant – yum!  The coffee was delicious and we would both recommend a visit if you are a coffee snob/ coffee lover.  The concept of the tubes, roasting and fresh brewed coffee is great and the coffee is delicious.

Feta, chickpea and zucchini and salad

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 can kidney beans, rinsed

½ cup green olives, sliced

1 medium zucchini, chopped into small pieces

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix dressing in a measuring cup and stir well.  Then drizzle over top of salad and toss together.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Salmon with Balsamic Maple Glaze

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ maple syrup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon corn starch

1 tablespoon brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

Prepare baking sheet with lightly drizzled olive oil.  Place salmon fillets on the sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. (adjust bake time according to your oven, mine took 20 minutes.)

Meanwhile, whisk all other ingredients together in a saucepan.  Let simmer for 5 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.

Pour glaze over salmon and cook in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy.

Feta, zucchini, bean salad with balsamic maple glazeRoasting PlantIced coffee at Roasting PlantRoasting Plant

Wedding Photos

Jonathan and I are home in Windsor.  We are getting everything organized and resting up after such a wonderful wedding.  It was beyond perfect – there was so much happiness, joy and love!  Thank you to all of our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and families for making everything perfect.

I will share a few highlights and some of the photos of the food.  We had the reception at the Kingbridge Centre in King City, Ontario.  The food was absolutely delicious.  I had the salmon and Jonathan had the beef.  The fresh seasonal veggies on each plate were flavourful and delicious.  The wedding cake was absolutely perfect.  It was carrot cake and made by Christina at Cocoa Cakery.  All of the flowers were so beautiful and with five layers I can only imagine how much work it took to create!

Getting Ready for the weddingMy BouquetFlowers from the ChurchNewly Weds1044297_10151752104642323_1008248124_nThe CakeSalmon with Asparagus, carrots, spinach and yellow zucchiniCHicken with AsparagusBeef with Seasonal VegetablesWedding Favours Blueberry Grand Marnier JamFather Daughter DanceDancing with JonathanWearing Wedding Sado

Salmon with Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard

IMG_4600This dinner was simply the best I have eaten in a really long time.  As Jonathan and I savoured every bite, we discussed how much we thought the meal would cost at a restaurant.  Our end decision was probably $31.00, of course making it at home is significantly less.  The salmon was purchased at Costco as you can see from the beautifully large pieces.  Fresh salmon would also be great if you can find it on sale at the grocery store.  I have been having too much fun cooking lately, and Jonathan has been encouraging it.  Well, really who wouldn’t want to encourage all of these tasty meals?  This is my 102 blog post, and at this rate I may just accumulate many, many, more magnificent recipes.

My Mom (who is the ultimate foodie) gave me Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard for Christmas as a stocking stuffer.  So, I tried it out on my favourite meal, salmon!  Just reading the ingredient listing makes my mouth water: Mustard seed, vinegar, water, whiskey, honey, herbs, spices, salt.  Gluten free, no additives, no preservatives.  All I had to do with this recipe was to add a little olive oil and spread the mustard on top of the salmon, then bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.  This recipe is going to be a staple in our household!  It would also be a great recipe when have friends over who are gluten intolerant.

This weekend Jonathan and I, meandered around Windsor.  We made stops at Salute Cafe, Biblioasis, and an Indian grocery store.  Later this week I want to make samosas, so stay tuned.  Jonathan also completed a radio column about restaurants in Windsor, I am extremely excited to hear it on air.  The food was delicious and this restaurant owner has a truly inspirational story.  I won’t give away any details, so listen to CBC radio Windsor on Thursday (also available online because CBC is awesome).  Biblioasis was recommended by one of Jonathan’s urban planning idols via Twitter, and it really was a unique and welcoming independent book store.  Inside it was warm, inviting and most importantly fully of beautiful new books that were begging to be taken home and read.  I now have more books to add to the list of birthday presents for Jonathan!

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Then line a baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the pan, so the salmon doesn’t stick.  Place the salmon on the baking sheet and drizzle a small amount of olive oil.  Spread about one tablespoon of Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard on the salmon.  Bake for 20 minutes.

For the potatoes, chop into desired size and place in a roasting dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and two generous pinches of dried thyme.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 F, stir half way through.

Miso Glazed Salmon & Mojitos (Date Night!)

Every night is date night for Jonathan and I.  Last night, I had my favourite smoked salmon penne alla vodka from the Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill in Waterloo.

I never get tired of salmon, so we made it again tonight – but with a new recipe that involved a trip to two different stores and the LCBO! For the miso and mirin we had to go to an Asian grocer and search for the ingredients amongst the many pastes and jars of spices.  Then, we went to Vincenzo’s, Waterloo’s beautiful gourmet grocery store, for the salad greens, limes, ginger, mint, and salmon.  On the way out of Vincenzo’s, there is a wonderful florist’s shop called Les Fleurs, so Jonathan bought me an arrangement of my own choosing.  I saw a bouquet on the Martha Stewart website that had a similar colour scheme, so I had to buy a few flowers inspired by Martha.

I have to give Jonathan credit for finding this recipe – I was skeptical at first, but it turned out wonderfully, with the miso providing plenty of lovely, rich umami. (In case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia, “umami, popularly referred to as savouriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.)

Paired with the salmon was a fresh green salad with honey Dijon dressing.  We both were not feeling like heavy potatoes or filling rice, so a simple salad with our salmon was quite satisfying. Usually a meal is not complete without some kind of carb, but tonight we were very happy without one.

Since it’s springtime, we decided to complement the salty miso glaze with light and refreshing mojitos.  The lime juice was freshly squeezed, with just a little bit of sugar, fresh muddled mint leaves, ice cubes, white rum and San Pellegrino water.  We chose Proof-brand rum due to the fact that it was Canadian and came in a fascinating bottle. It was very light, smooth and complemented the mint and lime well – like having a very well done cocktail from a lounge in Toronto! Who knew that I am an awesome baker and make a mean mojito, too?

Ingredients

1 tablespoon miso, preferably white

1 tablespoon mirin

1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce

2 fillets of salmon (ours were approximately 5oz)

1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce, ginger and hot sauce in a small bowl until smooth.
  3. Place salmon fillets, skinned-side down, in the prepared pan. Brush generously with the miso mixture. Broil the salmon until just cooked through in the center, 6 to 8 minutes. Garnish the salmon with green onion and sesame seeds.  Toast sesame seeds by heating in small dry fry pan.

Mojitos

4 Limes (squeeze juice, save two wedges for garnishing side of glass)

2 teaspoons of sugar (or more to taste)

8-10 ice cubes

2 cups San Pellegrino water (or club soda)

6-8 mint leaves washed and muddled

2 oz. Proof white rum (or more if you like)

Instructions

Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar and stir thoroughly.  Add the San Pellegrino water and ice cubes – stir and serve with lime wedge on the side of the glass.

Five Wonderful Things (with little or no flour)

I noticed that pretty much all of my posts have involved flour, so here’s a list of some of my favourite foods that are flour-free:

1. Chai Tea – I love both tea and coffee.  Tea is great as an afternoon beverage that will get you through until dinner. In particular this week I am enjoying chai tea at Jonathan’s apartment in Waterloo.  During second year university I really enjoyed chai tea lattes but then they started tasting chalky.  Jonathan’s parents bought this wonderful Sukash-brand chai in Toronto and now I am back in love with it. Jonathan loves tea too, and has quite the selection.  His teas include chai tea, vanilla rooibos tea, orange pekoe, peppermint tea and black tea with ginger. (He also giggles every time I say chai tea, since chai means tea in Hindi –  it really should be called masala tea.)

2. Blueberries and vanilla yogurt – Berries and yogurt are simple and great as a breakfast item, afternoon snack or dessert.  Fresh berries are truly a luxury item, better than candy and chocolate – especially if you are allergic to nuts and chocolate.  When berries go on sale, load up!  If the berries don’t look super fresh, then get some frozen and make a smoothie.  One of my favourite smoothies is blueberry-mango.  I didn’t like smoothies very much a year ago, however I have discovered if I omit the banana, it is less thick.  I don’t like my smoothies to be overly chunky.  With this discovery I am free to enjoy the yummy frozen drink.

3. Caramel Popcorn – Originally this recipe was going to be a post all on its own, however I wasn’t sure if it was glamorous enough.  Jonathan was quite delighted when I brought a nice big bag of caramel popcorn to Waterloo as a treat.  My sister Victoria discovered this recipe and has made it many times.  It’s a sweet crowd pleaser – and more fun to say I made it myself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  3. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

4. Chicken Piccata – (There is a tiny bit of flour in this, but its not an overwhelming amount) My Mom bought Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes and has been trying out some of its wonderful recipes.  One of the best recipes so far is the chicken piccata.  It is great with basmati rice and some vegetables on the side or a salad.  The lemon and capers add flavour that is simply divine.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

5. Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon – Any meal with salmon is my favourite.  This dinner is from a few weeks ago and was really tasty.  The recipe for the salmon can be found here.  Side dishes were roasted baby potatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and sauted baby bok choy.  The baby bok choy was sauted on high heat with salt, pepper, a pinch of crushed chillies, a little splash of sesame oil and a little splash of extra virgin olive oil for about 3-5 minutes.  For the potatoes, wash and slice potatoes in half and toss with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Mix in about half a tsp of salt and pepper or to taste.  Bake the potatoes in a casserole dish for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until cooked.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper for baking

Instructions

In an oiled shallow baking dish, combine lemon juice, Dijon, honey, and lemon zest. Stir together. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish. Flip salmon to coat in glaze. Bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake 10 minutes or until fish is fork-tender.