Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


The farmers market has been overflowing with zucchini lately. They have so much that they are quite literally giving it away! This weekend when I picked up some zucchini at the farmers market they threw in a few extra as I paid. The question was: What was I going to do with all of this unexpected extra zucchini? The first thing that came to mind was a zucchini bread which is always a nice and easy way to use some zucchini. This time however I wanted to try a chocolate version of the zucchini bread. I pretty much just took my standard zucchini bread recipe and added cocoa powder. I kept the walnuts in the bread and added some chocolate chips for even more chocolaty goodness. The chocolate zucchini bread was as easy to make as mixing the ingredients and baking and it turned out wonderfully. I could not resist slicing the bread and trying a piece before it had cooled down from the oven. The chocolate chips were still melted from baking and the bread was nice and light and moist and good! One of the things that I like most about making quick breads like this is that now I will have quick and easy breakfasts for the rest of the week.

Korean Short Rib Burritos

Korean Short Rib Burrito


I certainly enjoyed eating the Korean short rib tacos during the week but by the end of the week I is looking to change things up a bit. Another item on the Kogi menu was burritos and those burritos are breakfast burritos with eggs. Thought the breakfast burritos sounded good I was thinking of a more dinner style burrito. I normally construct my burritos with a base of rice, beans and meat and then add the extras like salsa, cheese, etc. For the barbecue short rib burritos I went with cilantro and lime rice made with brown short grain rice, the Korean style refried beans , the barbecue short ribs and the other fixings from the short rib tacos. The Korean short rib burritos were pretty easy to make given that most of the ingredients were already made and they turned out nicely. The cilantro and lime rice and refried beans went really well with the Korean short ribs and the rest of the taco condiments. The burritos were nice and tasty and filling with the perfect amount of heat. The next time I make kalbi I am going to have to try the breakfast version of these burritos as well.

Korean Style Refried Beans

Korean Style Refried Beans


While I was thinking about the recent Korean and Mexican fusion dishes that I made recently, I was also thinking about side dishes and one thing that came to mind was Korean refried beans. When I make refried beans I often spike them with some freshly toasted ground chilies and cumin and I was thinking that a Korean version could use gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste, and sesame both in the form of toasted and crushed seeds and oil. I usually fry my refried beans in bacon grease to add flavour and since I rarely have bacon grease on hand that means that I need to cook some bacon and if I am cooking it anyways I might as well throw it as well. Since pork belly is commonly used in Korean cooking I decided to replace the bacon with some uncured pork belly. Next up was the beans and since I generally regard azuki beans as Asian I decided to use them instead of the usual pinto or black beans. The Korean style refried beans were easy to make and they turned out really well. They were nice and creamy and full of flavour. I really like the way the spicy and tasty gochujang worked with the creamy azuki beans and the sesame aroma definitely made me think of Asian cuisine while I was eating it. The Korean style refried beans worked well as a side dish for the Korean BBQ short rib tacos .

Creamy Pea and Artichoke Pesto Pasta Salad

Creamy Pea and Artichoke Pesto Pasta Salad


I have been wanting to try making a pasta salad for a while now and when I came across this recipe for a pesto pasta salad on Savoury Sweet Life I could not resist making it right away. Pasta salads are salads formed with a base of pasta and pretty much anything that you can think of can be added after that. Pasta salads are normally served chilled and often have a mayo based dressing. This pasta salad has mayo in the dressing but the dressing is primarily based on freshly made basil pesto. I really liked the sound of combining the creamy and tangy mayo and with the fresh pesto and I just had to try it. Not only did the dressing for this pasta salad sound good but it also contains two other great ingredients, artichoke hearts and peas. Luckily I was still able to find some fresh peas at the farmers market but frozen would also work well. This pasta salad came together easily with the hardest part being the waiting for it to chill in the fridge. The creamy pea and artichoke pesto pasta salad turned out great! It really was nice and creamy and the pesto and mayo dressing was nice and tangy and fresh and really tasty. As I found out just recently, peas go really well with mayo and they added a nice hit of sweetness to this pasta salad. The salad tasted great after chilling for just a half an hour but it tasted even better the day after when the flavours had had a chance to mingle a bit. With a pasta salad under my belt next up to try is a potato salad.

Kimchi Quesadillas

Kimchi Quesadillas


While I was researching the Kogi taco truck short rib tacos I came across the kimchi quesadillas on their menu. I am a huge fan of kimchi and I knew that I would have to try the kimchi and melted cheese combo as soon as possible! I immediately started making a fresh batch of kimchi and then I impatiently waited for it to ferment. The thing about kimchi is that the longer that it ferments the better it gets so despite the fact that you can start eating it after a few days it is best to wait a few weeks for the flavour to build up. Based on Kogi's description and photos it looked like the kimchi quesadilla was simply filled with kimchi and cheese. I was a bit worried that the kimchi might be a bit to wet, and no one likes a soggy quesadilla, so I decided to saute the kimchi first to both reduce the moisture in it and to caramelize it a bit to add some flavour. The kimchi quesadilla was nice and easy to make and it was awesome! I cannot believe how good the warm melted cheese and caramelized spicy kimchi combo is! The kimchi was packed with flavour and the perfect amount of heat and the melted cheese held everything together and added a great texture. The tortillas were nice and golden brown and light and slightly crispy making the perfect hand holdable wrapping for the quesadillas. I garnished the kimchi quesadillas with some of the Korean style salsa roja and it added even more flavour and heat. I have to admit that I like these quesadillas so much that I have made them more than a few times already. I'm glad that I made a big batch of kimchi!

Herbed Zucchini and Feta Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust

Herbed Zucchini and Feta Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust


Over the last few weeks the farmers market has been bursting with zucchini and it has been so cheap that I have been picking up a bunch of it every week. I have really been enjoying all of the fresh local zucchini and in particular I have been focusing on the grated zucchini, feta, and herb combination. So far I have made a raw salad and a Greek style phyllo pie with this combo and both turned out really well. While I was dreaming up the previous ideas it also occurred to me that a this combo would go well in a quiche. I pretty much just took the grated zucchini, feta and herb combo and mixed it into a quiche base including eggs and milk. Although a pastry crust would go well with this quiche I enjoyed the brown rice quiche crust that I made last time so much that I decided to use it again this time. The herbed zucchini and feta quiche with a brown rice crust was easy to make and it turned out great! The brown rice crust was slightly crispy on the outside and the slices held together well. I enjoyed the texture that the brown rice crust added to the quiche and it is not as guilty as a full butter pastry crust. The zucchini, feta and herb combo worked really well in the form of a quiche! The quiche was nice and light and moist and it was just packed with flavour. It is amazing how much flavour the feta, dill and mint bring to the table.

Korean Short Rib Tacos

Korean Short Rib Tacos


A couple of weeks ago I came across the concept of Korean BBQ and Mexican fusion in the form of the short rib tacos from the Kogi taco trucks in California. Combining the facts that I am really into both Korean and Mexican cuisine and that California is so far away I immediatly decided to try making the short rib tacos at home. Since there were no recipes available I set upon creating my own. I started with the kalbi or Koren barbecue short ribs which are short ribs that are marinated in a slightly sweet marinade until tender and then grilled until the sugars from the marinade caramelize infusing the ribs with an amazing flavour. Next up was the Koren style salsa roja which was responsible for bringing the heat to the tacos. I created the salsa roja by combining a chili de arbol salsa with some sesame flavours and a hit of gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste. An onion and cilantro relish and some shredded romaine lettuce in a chili and sesame vinaigrette rounded out the tacos bringing some fresh ingredients to them. Now that I had all of the ingredients made all that was left was to assemble the tacos.

This project (Project Kogi: Short Rib Tacos) took a bit of effort. After coming up with the recipes, making everything took a bit of time. The next time that I make these tacos I will make the salsa roja two nights ahead of time, marinate the ribs the night before, and make the relish and lettuce with dressing the morning of the meal. This way the only thing left to do is to pull everything out of the fridge, grill the ribs, assemble the tacos and enjoy. Despite the effort it was well worth it! The short rib tacos were absolutely amazing! The sweet and tender kalbi worked really well as a taco meat. The Korean style salsa roja added the perfect heat to the tacos along worth a ton of flavour. Feel free to pile this salsa on as it is really good! Come on, you can take the heat. :) Seriously I was eating this salsa by the spoonful. The onion and cilantro relish combined with the seasoned shredded romaine lettuce added a nice texture, juiciness and freshness to the tacos and finished them of perfectly. Overall the tacos were nice and light and full of flavour and I practically inhaled them.

Kogi also serves a bunch of other Korean/Mexican fusion dishes that sound really good. Stay tuned for more.

Shredded Romaine in a Korean Sesame Vinaigrette

Shredded Romaine in a Korean Sesame Vinaigrette


Now that I had the meat in the form of the kalbi or Korean barbecue short ribs and the heat in the form of the Korean style salsa roja , the next items up for the Kogi short rib tacos were the fresh ingredients. For me, the fresh ingredients play an important roll in any taco whether it be in the form of a fresh salsa such as a pico de gallo or something a simple as chopped tomatoes and lettuce. The fresh ingredients add some extra layers of texture and a refreshing juicy break from the heat of the tacos. The Kogi short rib tacos are described as having a "julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette" in them. From the dressings name I used the soy sauce and some gochugaru, a Korean red chili powder. From there I used sesame oil for the oil and lime juice for the 'vinegar' thus adding the Texmex element. This 'salad' turned out pretty good despite being so simple. It worked even better in the tacos after letting it sit for a while to let the flavours mingle and to allow the lime juice to just start to wilt the lettuce. I imagine that this spiced romaine would do well as a condiment on many spicy meat dishes.

Onion and Cilantro Relish

Onion and Cilantro Relish


The next element in the Kogi short rib tacos was the "cilantro-green onion-lime relish". This relish sounded pretty simple except that when looking at photos of the Kogi tacos I always saw square white onions in addition to the elliptical green onions. Since I have often used a simple sweet white onion and cilantro relish in tacos before I decided to make a more generic onion and cilantro lime relish with both the green and white onions in it. This is such a simple condiment and yet it is really amazing. The onions in it add a nice sweet element to any dish followed a mild hidden pungent bite. A really nice freshness is added to whatever this condiment is used in by the cilantro and lime combo. The green onions are a nice addition to this version adding the Korean aspect to the relish.

Korean Style Salsa Roja

Korean Style Salsa Roja


Continuing in my quest to create the Kogi short rib taco experience at home I came to the salsa. I generally associate tacos and Mexican food in general with spicy heat as I also do with Korean food. Since the Korean barbecue short ribs were relatively sweet I knew that the salsa would be a very important part of the tacos. Unfortunately I was not able to find an actual Kogi recipe so I needed to come up with my own.

The Kogi web site describes the salsa as such: "sesame-chili salsa roja". With that description I was thinking about a sauce made with a base of gochujang , a Korean fermented chili paste, with some sesame oil and seeds and maybe some ginger. After searching the Kogi site in depth I came across an old archived post that mentioned that it was a chili de arbol based salsa with 'secret' ingredients. When I saw that description I knew immediately what I wanted to do! I started with a basic chili de arbol salsa consisting of tomatoes, chilies de arbol, onion and garlic and I added some tomatillos for a depth of flavour. (Of course I roasted the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion to add even more flavour.) For the Korean fusion ingredients I added some ginger for a bit of a bite, some sesame oil for the aroma and flavour, some crushed toasted sesame seeds for some texture and the gochujang paste for some more heat and an additional layer of Korean flavour.

The salsa roja was pretty easy to make and it turned out so well! The only issue that I had with making the salsa was straining it, where I had to really work the salsa through the strainer with the back of a spoon to get all of the good stuff. It was well worth the effort though! The red salsa was nice and fiery hot and full of flavour. The first thing that hits you is the aroma of sesame oil which always reminds me of Asian food. Once you get it in your mouth you are hit be the intense heat which as it fades leaves you with a really tasty sauce. Since I added the crushed sesame seeds after straining the salsa they added a really nice texture to the otherwise smooth salsa. This red sauce is so addictive! I find myself eating it by the spoonful every time I pull it out to use.

Kalbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

Kalbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)


A couple of weeks ago I came across an article about the Kogi taco truck in California. The Kogi taco truck is a taco truck that serves fusion Korean and Mexican foods in various locations in California letting people know where they will be by way of twitter. Since Korean and Mexican cuisines are among my favorites I immediately went into research mode trying to find out as much as I could about the Kogi taco truck. The Kogi taco trucks main products are Korean BBQ tacos and burritos with the short rib tacos being their signature dish. Since I probably won't be going to California any time soon I decided to try to create the Kogi taco experience at home and I thought that it would be a good idea to start with the short rib tacos. Of course a quick search of the internet brought up no results as far as Kogi recipes go, so I would have to come up with my own.

I figured that I would start with the most important part of the taco, the Korean BBQ short ribs otherwise known as galbi or kalbi. Kalbi is pretty much just beef short ribs that are marinated and the barbecued and there were no shortage of recipes on the web. One thing that I noticed about a lot of the recipes was that they were similar to the recipe that I used for Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) even to the point of using grated Asian pears and/or apples as a part of the marinade. Having really enjoyed the bulgogi marinade I just decided to use a variant of that to use for the short ribs.

Kogi describes their short ribs being soft and tender and having them until the sugars from the marinade caramelize. I had a sweet marinade with sugars and I left the beef to marinate in it over night to make sure that they would be nice and tender. The Korean BBQ short ribs were pretty easy to cook and they turned out great! I made sure to grill the beef until it started to char and caramelize and doing so added a ton of flavour and a really nice texture to the beef. The short ribs were nice and tender and juicy and the slightly sweet caramelized goodness promised to go well in the spicy bbq short rib tacos.

Fig and Brie Panini with Prosciutto

Fig and Brie Panini with Prosciutto


Summer is in full swing and we are just spoilt for choice. Not only are the markets filled with a ton of locally produced fruits and vegetables but they are also filled with great imports. In particular, I have been enjoying the figs lately. Mostly I have just been snacking on them but when I found some extra brie in my fridge I decided to do something more. After discovering that jams and preserves went well in grilled cheese sandwiches one of the first jams that I tried in a grilled cheese was a fig jam and I really enjoyed it. I was thinking that a grilled brie and fresh fig sandwich would also be great. This time I decided to beef (or pork in this case) the sandwich up a bit with some tasty prosciutto. The brie and fig panini turned out really well. The brie melted nicely and the sandwich was nice and ooey and gooey and good with every bite trailing strings of melted brie. The sweet fig, brie and prosciutto were a great combination and I practically inhaled the sandwich. Luckily I have enough of everything to make a few more of them.

Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas

Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas


The farmers market has been overflowing with zucchini lately and I have been picking some up every week. Lately I have been enjoying working with grated zucchini and the last time I used it this way I thought that it would be perfect as a quesadilla filling. I have also been picking up some corn every week at the farmers market and while I was thinking about the zucchini quesadilla I thought that some sweet corn would also go well in the cheesy quesadilla. After the corn and zucchini I threw in some of my standard quesadilla ingredients including some green onions, cilantro and of course some jalapeno pepper for some heat. I was a little worried that the grated zucchini might be a little moist for quesadillas and since no one wants a soggy quesadilla I made sure to squeeze out and excess moisture from the zucchini after grating it. The corn and zucchini quesadillas turned out great! They were nice an golden brown on the outside and warm and gooey and cheesy and good on the inside. The zucchini and corn filling worked really well in a cheesy quesadilla. I served the quesadilla along with some salsa and sour cream for dipping.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes


The last time that I made cornbread I tried serving it with maple syrup and it reminded me of pancakes. My next thought of course was, why not try cornmeal pancakes? With all of the fresh local blueberries available right now blueberry pancakes are often on my mind and I figured that it was the perfect time to try some blueberry cornmeal pancakes. The blueberry cornmeal pancakes came together quickly and easily and they turned out great! They were nice and golden brown on the outside and light and fluffy and filled with blueberry goodness on the inside. Blueberries and maple syrup are a great combo and I could not resist drowning these blueberry pancakes in maple syrup and topping them with a dab of melting butter to finish them off. I really enjoyed the texture that the cornmeal added to the pancakes and I am definitely going to be making cornmeal pancakes again.

Agginaropita (Greek Artichoke Pie)

Agginaropita (Greek Artichoke Pie)

I still had a lot of phyllo dough left over after making the zucchini pie and I knew just what I wanted to use it for. Not too long ago I came across the concept of an artichoke pie on Kali Orexi and given my new found appreciation of artichokes I could not resist making one. I pretty much just took the zucchini pie's recipe and replaced the zucchini with artichoke hearts. I used canned artichoke hearts as that is what I could find but feel free to use frozen or fresh if you prefer. Working with phyllo dough is getting easier the more that I use it and this pie came together quite easily and it turned out great! The phyllo was a nice golden brown, light, crispy and flaky and good. The artichoke hearts worked really well in the pie and I enjoyed the freshness and flavour that the herbs added. I don't really think that you can go wrong with these vegetable pies with the feta and herbs all wrapped up in flaky phyllo and I look forward to experimenting with more versions.

Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad


I had a bunch of corn on hand and after all of the tacos and burgers lately I was looking for something on the lighter side. The first thing that came to mind of course was a salad and I was thinking of a whole grain with quinoa. Given the Mexican theme that I have been on lately the next things that went into the salad were some black beans, a red pepper and a jalapeno pepper for some heat. Just one jalapeno pepper was not going to make it hot enough for me so I decided to add some more heat in the form of a chopped up chipotle in adobo sauce in the dressing. I always enjoy a nice whole grain salad as they are nice and light and yet filling and satisfying and this one was no different. The smoky chipotle dressing added the perfect amount of heat which was balanced nicely by the sweet corn and red pepper. The black beans added a nice creaminess and the cilantro and lime made the salad nice and fresh. This salad was great when I first served it while it was still warm from cooking the quinoa and the leftovers were really nice when served chilled straight from the fridge.

Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)

Mexican Corn on the Cob

The fresh locally grown corn has been in the farmers market for the last few weeks and I have certainly been enjoying it. I have mostly just been eating off the cob with a little melted butter and some salt but I was looking for something new and I remembered seeing and interesting recipe for a Mexican corn on the cob or elote that I had wanted to try. The Mexican corn on the cob is covered with melting butter, mayonnaise, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. I had never thought about using mayo on corn but mayo is easily one of my favorite condiments and I was interested in trying it out. Though I decided to roast my corn in the oven, you could easily cook it up on the grill until it is just slightly charred and good. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good the Mexican corn on the cob was! Of course butter and corn go hand in hand and the tangy mayo also went really well with the sweet corn. The salty cheese rounded things out and perhaps my favorite part was the spicy heat of the cayenne pepper which I loaded on. What a great way to enjoy corn! Part way through the week I got tired of picking corn from between my teeth so I tried just cutting the cook corn from the cob and mixing up all of the ingredients in a bowl and the combo was also great in that form.

Chipotle Chicken, Apricot and Brie Quesadillas

Chipotle Chicken, Apricot and Brie Quesadillas


After a long break from Texmex/Mexican cuisine I was back into the zone and craving more. I also wanted to use some fresh local ingredients and I remembered seeing a chicken, apricot and brie panini on good Life {eats} which sounded like a good combo. I immediately thought about doing a quesadilla version but I knew that I would need some heat so I added some chopped chipotles in adobo sauce. I followed that with some cilantro, and green onions and I was just about done. For the apricots, I decided to grill them first and I thought that since brie goes well with jams that a bit of apricot preserves would both enhance the apricot flavour and add a nice touch of contrasting and balancing sweetness. I like to cook my quesadillas stove top in a pan as I am always able to get them nice and golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside and ooey gooey and melted and good on the inside and this time was no different. The chipotle chicken, apricot and brie quesadillas turned out really well! I liked the combination of the spicy chipotle chicken along with the apricots and the melted cheese all wrapped in crispy tortillas. The touch of sweetness from the apricot preserves worked just as well in these quesadillas as they do in grilled cheese sandwiches and I am going to enjoy experimenting some more with the new combo.

Blueberry Mochi Cake

Blueberry Mochi Cake


I have only used mochiko or sweet rice flour one time before and that was to make daifuku which is a Japanese treat where the mochiko is turned into a sweet, sticky and chewy confection. I am always looking for new ways to use ingredients and when I came across a recipe for a mochi cake on The Food Librarian I knew that I would have to try it. I was very curious to see what kind of texture a cake made with mochiko would have given that I had never had it in a remotely cake like form before. Though I could have made the cake right away I liked the sound of the blueberry version so I held off until the local blueberries were available and I finally got to make it. The recipe is pretty straight forward though perhaps not for the faint of heart given that it contains a full cup of butter. The mochi cake turned out well and I was really pleased with the texture. It was nice and moist and buttery and a little dense, which added a nice chewiness. The blueberries also went really well in the cake and I am off to a great start to the local blueberries.

Taco Burger

Taco Burger


Last week while I was enjoying my tacos I thought that a taco burger would be a good idea and this weekend I got around to making them. I kept the burger patties themselves pretty simple just seasoning them with the taco seasoning and grilling them up. Near the end of the grilling I topped them with some cheddar cheese which melted nicely. From there I proceeded to construct the burgers using some of my favorite taco condiments including salsa, lettuce, tomato and avocado. At first I was thinking of using guacamole but then I decided to go with a mixture of avocado and mayo as I often enjoy mayo on my burgers and this way I would get the best of both worlds. The taco burgers turned out great! The patties were nice and moist and juicy and so full of flavour! All of the taco flavours worked really well in burger form though the burgers were a bit messy.

Kolokithopita (Greek Zucchini Pie)

Kolokithopita (Greek Zucchini Pie)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to head down to the Taste of the Danforth Greek food event here in Toronto and I had a good time. There was a lot of tasty Greek food and I took a bunch of photos which can be found in my Taste of the Danforth flickr gallery if you are interested. All of the great Greek food just whet my appetite and I wanted more. While I was eating the fresh zucchini salad the other day, I thought that it would make a great filling for a phyllo pie like a spanakopita . For the recipe I pretty much just took the zucchini salads recipe and added some eggs as a binder, wrapped it in phyllo dough and baked it until it was golden brown. The zucchini phyllo pie turned out great! The phyllo ended up nice and golden brown, light and crispy and good. The herbed zucchini and feta filling worked really well in pie form and it was nice and tasty. I liked the combination of the fresh dill, mint and parsley which added a ton of flavour and a sense of freshness to the pie. I have really been enjoying these savoury phyllo pies and I can't wait to try some new ones.

Tomato and Feta Baked Shrimp Pasta

Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta


With the Taste of the Danforth Greek food event kicking off tonight here in Toronto I was in the mood for some more Greek food. I really like Garides Saganaki , a shrimp and feta dish that is baked in a tomato sauce, that I normally serve with some crusty bread to soak up the tasty sauce. The last time that I made it I thought that it might also be good as a baked pasta dish and I was just itching to try it out. I decided to go with a whole wheat orzo for the pasta which I added to the tomato sauce after they were both cooked followed by the shrimp and feta. The whole thing went into the oven where the shrimp cooked and the feta started to melt into the sauce. The baked shrimp and feta dish turned out great! The shrimp, feta and tomato sauce combo worked just as well in a pasta dish as it did by itself. The pasta absorbed a lot of the extra juices from the sauce along with all of its tasty flavour with no bread required.

Taco Pasta

Taco Pasta


I ran out of tortillas for tacos before I ran out of the taco seasoned ground beef that I made earlier this week. I had recently made both taco rice and a taco salad so I was looking for something new and the first thing that came to mind was a taco pasta. I have really been liking how versatile the taco seasoned meat and taco condiments are and how they allow one to reinvent the same meal as something new each night. For the taco pasta I decided to keep it simple by just mixing the pasta with the taco seasoned ground beef along with some black beans and a bit of sour cream. I then topped the pasta off with some of my favorite taco condiments including some lettuce, tomato, salsa and cheese. The taco pasta turned out really well! The sour cream added a nice creaminess to the spicy taco pasta and the black beans brought another nice layer texture to the party. The fresh ingredients on top added a nice cool and refreshing reprieve from spiciness of the pasta. I will definitely be keeping this recipe on hand for cleaning up leftover taco seasoned ground beef. Strike that, I think that next time I will make this from scratch rather than waiting for leftovers.

Greek Style Zucchini Salad

Greek Style Zucchini Salad


I picked up a bunch of zucchini on the weekend and I was thinking about making a raw zucchini salad. I have used zucchini in salads before though mostly thinly sliced and I was thinking that grating it would also be nice. With the Taste of the Danforth Greek food event coming up this weekend here in Toronto I have been thinking about Greek flavours a lot and a Greek style zucchini salad was sounding good. Some of the first things that come to mind when I think about Greek food are extra virgin olive oil, feta, lemons, dill and mint so I added all of them to the salad along with some garlic and a green onion to round things out. This salad was really easy to make and it came together in almost no time. The key to this salad though is letting it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to over night to let the flavours come out and mingle so you will want to plan on making it ahead of time. Once the flavours have had a chance to come out this salad is really amazing! The salty feta, tart lemon and herbs really come together to make this salad nice and bright and vibrant and light and fresh and good. This salad is nice and refreshing when served still chilled from the fridge on warm summer days.

Black Bean Guacamole

Black Bean Guacamole


The other day while I was enjoying the guacamole that I made to go with the tacos I was thinking that one of the things that I like most about guacamole was that the avocado made it so creamy. One thought led to another and the next thing that I knew I was thinking that black beans are also nice and creamy and that they might make a nice guacamole. I pretty much just took my guacamole recipe and replaced the avocados with the black beans. I also added a bit of chili powder for some more heat and a bit of smokiness from the chipotles in the blend of chilies. When it came time to give the black bean guacamole a name I was not sure what to call it. It is not really a guacamole so maybe its just a black bean dip but then again its made just like a guacamole. If I had not pureed everything I probably would have called it a black bean salsa... Whatever you want to call it, it turned out great! The black beans certainly made it nice and creamy and good. What I liked most about it was that using all of the fresh ingredients, especially the cilantro, gave it a really nice feeling of freshness. I served the black bean guacamole as a dip along with some tortilla chips for scooping.

Update: A quick look up of the Nahuatl language seems to indicate that yetlmole or etlmole might be a good name for a "bean sauce".

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes


The farmers market has been full of fresh local blueberries for the last week or so and I have certainly been enjoying them. I have mostly been having them for breakfast on plain yogurt or cottage cheese with some maple syrup syrup on top. Over the long weekend I decided that it was time to do something else with them and the first thing that came to mind was pancakes. Blueberry pancakes are a staple every blueberry season and I seem to do something new each time. I had recently come across the idea of a cottage cheese pancake and I thought that they would be even better with some blueberries. The cottage cheese pancakes had a bit more liquid in the batter than I am normally used to but they turned out great! They were nice and moist and light an fluffy and good! Most of the cottage cheese had melted into the pancakes but some of the larger pieces were still visible and they added a really nice texture. Of course I smothered the pancakes in maple syrup which goes really well with blueberries. What a great way to kick off blueberry season!

Tacos

Tacos


It has been a while since I last had texmex and the craving for it had been growing and needed to be satisfied. Although my definition of tacos has changed greatly from when I was a kid I sometimes crave those tacos that were made with the store bought taco seasoning packages. This time however, I decided to make my own taco seasoning and it turned out really well. It wasn't quite the same as the store bought packages but it was very tasty and the tacos satisfied my texmex cravings. One of the things that I like so much about tacos is that you can place so many great thing in them in addition to the meat. This time I went with the classic lettuce, tomato, salsa, cheese and sour cream. I served the tacos with a side of guacamole .

Taco Seasoned Ground Beef

Taco Seasoned Ground Beef


Once you have your taco seasoning its time to make the seasoned ground beef. Making the seasoned taco meat could not be easier. You simply brown the meat, add the seasoning and some water and simmer to reduce. I also like to add a touch of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce up. Other than tacos you can use the taco seasoned ground beef in other dishes such as taco salads , taco rice , burritos , etc.

Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning

Taco night was always one of my favorites when growing up and the key to good tacos is the tasty taco seasoned meat. When I was growing up tacos always meant one of those store bought taco seasoning packets which I remember fondly. I was taking a look at the ingredients in one of those taco seasoning packets recently and I noticed some surprising ingredients including a few that I had trouble pronouncing. I immediatly decided to try making my own and after a quick search I found this recipe for a taco seasoning on All Recipes . For the chili powder I used freshly toasted and ground dried chilies. I like to do it this way as I can choose which chilies to use and change the flavour and heat profile of the chili powder. I also used freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds as toasting them brings out their flavour and aroma. The taco seasoning turned out great! It was not the same as I remembered the packaged seasoning but it was really good! I definitely won't be going back to the packages.